Tuesday, June 16, 2020

On Being a Beginner (again)

One of the things I identify with is being a runner. I run regularly, the act of running brings me joy (even if it doesn’t always feel that way mid-session), I've been lucky enough to run in many countries and the running community (and those I’ve previously been involved in elsewhere) I’m an active part of has brought me friends, special friends and people who have changed my life. I can’t remember a time in the last 5 years where running hasn’t been a part of my life.


When we entered lockdown in the UK, my running community, Adidas Runners, and the much loved women’s studio on Brick Lane had already closed their doors to in-person classes and group runs and it became very apparent very early on into the lockdown that running wasn’t going to be possible for me, in my area. Watching people ignore restrictions and hold birthday parties in the park as the number of deaths was doubling almost daily was too much for me, and so began 8 weeks of connecting to online workouts and not setting foot outside the boundaries of my home.


Fast forward to where we are now in June. With easing restrictions out there and a need to up the intensity of my exercise in here as well as recognising the anxiety I had been holding about going outside needed to be confronted too. Fully embracing the fact that I’d need to build back up with a beginner plan of run-walk intervals, I picked a hell of a week to get back out there as a beginner. I say this because there’s a lot you can learn about the journey to anti-racism from this….

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
Just as not every second of every run is a joy, to practise anti-racism, you will need to address your own biases and prejudices as you uncover them. And I’d wager there will be more of them than you think, so get comfortable with being uncomfortable and then work out how to push through the other side.

Consistency is key
Following a plan consistently will build strength, speed and endurance in running. But anti-racism is also about consistency. The world is watching, the Black community is watching. And we must practise anti-racisim consistently and not just this week, this month or this year, because addressing racism, especially at a systemic level, isn’t the only (enormous and widespread) issue to be faced, it’s also a case of keeping it out, just as we have failed to do at multiple opportunities in history.

Rest Days are part of the plan
When you begin running or return to running or indeed if you’re a regular runner, rest days are where the magic happens, your body has time to repair, your mind has time to assess, reflect and reset for the coming days and the next stage of your plan. There are no prizes for reading the entire Macpherson report in a day, and how much are you really taking in if you’re reading history or anti-racist activist publications one after another? In order to learn, we must also allow ourselves the time to process the information so that as well as knowing better we most importantly of all ARE better and DO better.

Comparison is the thief of joy
We’ve been hearing this in many fields for many years, and that’s because it’s so very true. Whatever runnin you’re doing, at whatever pace, for however long or whichever distance, don’t compare yourself to anyone else, because you have no idea what their struggles and their goals are. See also your own anti-racism journey. There are many different ways in which you can make an impact on the movement and the current situation. Some are donating, some are protesting, some reading, some are having tough conversations and a magnitude of other impacts and actions are taking place. Don’t compare your journey, just make sure you can be honest with yourself about the work you are doing.

As with so much, what this comes to is privilege. Returning to running for me is a privilege. As a beginner again I get to notice things I didn’t the first time around because something else was hard. I get to choose to run, and to choose to get back out there. Just like getting educated about racism and anti-racism is part of my white privilege, because ultimately I’ll never be subject to the horrors of racism, but I have to power to stop it, and if we can’t accept our privileges, then not only can we change nothing, but we’ll have nothing left to be grateful for either.


Monday, May 18, 2020

Socially Distant Chef: Episode 3

It feels apt to have collated this little snapshot of what I can only describe as comfort food after a week that was very much a struggle. But this ride we’re stuck on, the ‘coronacoaster’ I’ve seen it called, yeah, it keeps on rolling. So here’s a scant handful of things I’ve eaten lately.

Fake-Away Subway
This one was a birthday wishlist meal. Faceache decided he really fancied a subway style sandwich with salami, cheese and BBQ sauce amongst other things. Messy as hell, but he was a happy bunny. I went with a homemade burger sauce, vegetable meat balls, equally as messy and pretty damned good.


THAT Pret a Manger Cookie…
This we need to talk about. This is the Almond Butter & Dark Chocolate cookie from Pret a Manger AKA The Vegan Cookie they brought back due to popular demand. Made by me. They came out SO well, I strongly recommend you hit up the Veggie Pret Instagram feed where they have posted the recipe, because it’s too good not to try- I made a handful, and froze the rest if the dough in individual portions, so I have a treat lurking for when I need one.


Fishfinger Sandwich
Because sometimes you wake up on a Saturday morning, and you drink your coffee and you lever yourself out of bed, and only a fishfinger sandwich will do. And so it was, the morning after the night before, I was slicing leftover, slightly disappointingly textured but very tasy sourdough and slathering homemade tartare sauce on hot from the oven fishfingers. What more is there to say?



Sunday, May 10, 2020

Keeping My Cool, Naturally: First Impressions of Natural Deodorant

I started writing this post last week and that version is 2 pages of a document long and it doesn’t even cover the product I want to chat about today. So I’m saving my mammoth post for another time as it covers a whole host of other things I (still) want to talk about later!

SO. Let’s talk about natural deodorant. There are lots on the market with new products popping up all the time. Some are creams, some come in tubes, and some look a bit like a familiar stick deodorant. They’re made with a variety of natural ingredients such as clays and essential oils and one of the biggest selling points is often that these deodorants are aluminium-free. Aluminium is the ingredient that blocks the pores in your underarm to prevent swearing in lots of the deodorants and antiperspirants we’re so used to. If the idea of purposefully blocking your pores leaves you a little surprised, then a more natural alternative might be for you too.

All of that said, my primary motivation was to reduce waste. Although it’s not true for all natural deodorant products, many of them have less packaging, and what packaging they do have might be compostable and/or single use plastic free.

With all of this in mind, I set about some research a couple of months ago, and last week I opened up this delivery from Wild. The format is based around a refillable unit (in a choice of colours, this is the closest I could get to green….) and compostable or recyclable cartridges of natural deodorant in a choice of different scents. There are options to make savings on the refills by opting for a flexible subscription of regular deliveries of the cartridge or you can purchase ad-hoc with a minimum purchase of 3 cartridges (to help reduce postage and packaging impact).


This starter box set me back £25 and replacement cartridges come to around £6 each depending on how you buy them. I chose Bergamot, Orange Zest & Mint, some of the other options include Rose and Coconut.


Aside from having used up the last of my previous deodorant, something I’ve been burning through for a couple of months, there’s another reason I chose to make this switch now as opposed to when I first started to investigate earlier in the year. And that’s lockdown. Stay with me for a sec…

One of the considerations with this switch if you’ve been using aluminium deodorant for a long time, which many of you will have been for lots of your adult life, is a transition period. Not entirely a surprise when you remember that the aluminium you’ve been using has been building up, blocking your pores over the years. Some people experience a period of sweating a bit more and you might notice you don’t smell quite as fresh as usual too. Popular consensus seems to be that the transition period lasts 2-3 weeks. There’s some people who swear by a clay-based mask to clear the pores both DIY and options available to buy. I have chosen to follow the Wild advice given it’s their product I’m betting on, which is simply to shower more often if needed, and use the deodorant to freshen up is needed. They have a super helpful guide on their website which outlines what you might expect if you’re a person who does go through a transition period.

And so that brings me to day 7 in the Wild... as it were…

I’ll be open and honest (because why else would I be chatting about my deodorant on the internet anyway… ), and say that I’ve been using a unisex antipersperant roll on for a long time. I’d say it’s largely considered to be quite a strong product and I’m a person who only has to think about being hot and I sweat. In other words, I’m fully expecting to experience a transition and the reason that, for me, there’s no better time than now to give it a try. To put no finer a point on it, there’s only one other person in my household to offend and although lots of you might be working from home, I’m currently unemployed and so I have quite literally no reason to leave the house or come into contact with anyone else.

In my professional life and work settings, the idea of taking on a possibility of excess sweating and body odour would have been horrifying, but whilst the effects of this pandemic are so awful in so many ways, it’s a perfect opportunity for me to set aside some of the anxieties and let’s be honest, excuses when it comes to making positive changes that might take a little adjusting to.

So far, it’s been a warm 7 days here in London. It’s also been a week of workouts, so here’s what I’m noticing…

Day 1
Easy to assemble, easy to apply, looks pretty.
Top of product a bit crumbly.

Day 3
No noticeable difference, not sweating more than usual and haven’t noticed any body odour, which I feel I’m super conscious of knowing I’ve made a change. Product smells AMAZING.

Day 4
Double workout, sweating as expected, not smelling quite as fresh as I do usually, but nothing a standard post-workout shower won’t solve.

Day 6
Woke up with some body odour after a very warm night and a humid early morning, although it was more noticeable, it’s also not unusual for me in hotter months.

Day 7
My underarms feel a little raw, but also much softer to touch and none of the usual residue I’m used to.

I’m full planning to chat about this again, one week isn’t a huge amount of time in the grand scheme of things, but I also really wanted to get this out there in case anyone else is thinking about trying something new and experimenting during a period of time where we’re potentially afforded a little more privacy in which to play.

If you’re interested in this process, I’ve been documenting my experience via Instagram stories and if you have any questions, please feel free to ping me a message- this isn’t an ad, a sponsored post and neither am I here to tell you what is right for YOU, but I’m happy to share what I’m learning with anyone who might find it useful. And stand by for more chat about sustainable changes! If you do happen to purchase via the links in this post though, you'll get 20% off, which is a standard referral link, available to any new customer to pass on to friends.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Chloe Likes To Eat: Socially Distant Chef Episode 2

Well, here we are, still staying home, or at least Tom & I are.

I'm calling this one Salads & Sangria

Courgette, Pea & Courgette Salad, Garlic Croutons


I love a salad, as you will be able to tell by the end of this episode! This one was a bit of a use up special a couple of days before the grocery run, and is a favourite with any kind of green bean/pea/leaf you enjoy. It works best if you mix the textures up to keep it interesting- chopped, grated, spiralised (do people still do that?) etc. This version is a bit like this:
1 grated courgette
Half a cucumber diced (sort of, I have zero knife skills)
A couple of handfuls of frozen peas, defrosted in cold water
Dressed with lemon juice, a spoonful of pesto, lots of black pepper and topped with some stale bread mixed with a little bit of garlic butter and roasted off until crispy.
Side of grilled tendersteam broccoli leftover from the night before

Pad Thai Salad


A new ‘grocery day’ tradition/treat! A bag of prepared stir fry veg whilst it’s all still crisp and the bean sprouts are safe to eat, I base my Pad Thai dressing on this BBC Good Food recipe:
2 tsp tamarind Paste
3 tbsp fish Sauce (or use the liquor from rehydrated soaked mushrooms with a touch of soy/tamari for a vegan option)
2 tsp sugar
Zest 1 lime
Pinch chilli flakes or the Jamie Oliver trick- grate a bit of a frozen whole chilli in

I mix it all together in a bowl, add rice noodles soaked for approx 10 mins in hot water, the raw stir fry veg, mix really well, and serve with some crushed salted peanuts to top.

It’s fresh, salty, sour, and a tiny bit sweet all at the same time, and the longest job of the whole thing is the 10 mins you leave the noodles sitting in hot water!

Lebanase Inspired Salad Bowl


I have a few favourite Lebanese restaurants in the UK and also Spain, it’s got some cracking flavours and lots of meze dishes which are epic inspiration for the ‘bowl format’ which has been featuring heavily in this household lately. I always say ‘inspired’ when talking about these, because I’m painfully aware there’s nothing authentic about these dishes, but they are truthfully inspired by fantastically smooth baba ganoush, tangy fattoush and fluffy tabouleh and some of the most fun and raucous meals I've shared with family and friends over the years.

This one includes:
Chargrilled slices of courgette and onion tossed in tahini, garlic and lemon dressing
Chargrilled peppers
Chargrilled slices of aubergine, with soy sauce and crushed garlic poured over
Fattoush style salad of tomatoes and stale bread with a harissa, red wine vinegar and zaatar
Minted yoghurt
Chickpeas roasted with a touch of salt and pepper

Falafel Bowl


Told you, another bowl it is.

This one is a bit of a scraping the barrel special from the freezer as I made this a day or two before our grocery shop when the house was devoid of much fresh…
Pepper, edamame and grain salad (from the freezer section of Aldi) with a bit of added sumac
Pea, Courgette & cucumber salad with a lemon and tahini dressing (leftover from the top salad)
Guacamole made from frozen avocado purchased a couple of months ago- one to never repeat since as there was zero flavour.
Gosh! Spinach and pine nut falafel (we get them from Lidl, but I don’t think they’re a Lidl brand)
A few leaves from the baby lettuce in my Aerogarden
Harissa mayo

And something for when the sun comes back out...
Peach & Raspberry Sangria


This can be made alcohol free or you can add a bottle of rose to it- whatever floats your boat, but it’s bloody delicious enjoyed in the sunshine:

Add raspberries (I used frozen ones), chopped tinned peaches and ice to a jug, the juice from the tinned peaches and either a 1L bottle of tonic water and/or a bottle of rose. Stir. Enjoy.

And that concludes another episode- I hope you won't judge me too harshly for my horrendously lit, unedited images- more work to do for me! Is there anything you'd love to see me chat about food wise- a particular cuisine using store cupboard/basic ingredients? Or maybe the cocktail making needs to be a regular feature? In any case, you can see regular snaps of food and drink amidst the rest of my waffle on Instagram: chloelikes2talk and I've even reinstalled Twitter (same handle)!

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Old Sneakers New


Full disclaimer, I actually took on this… can I call it a project? I’m not sure, let’s call it a mini project, anyway, it was completed back in mid-February before I went to the States. Remember that, travelling not only outside your own front door but to an airport and overseas! Yeah, feels like a distant memory to me too. ANYWAY…. I had a pair of cheapo white sneakers kicking about and although I love white sneakers to go with pretty much anything, these ones had an undortunate meeting with my friend’s dropped glass of red wine and then a questionable CityMapper route suggestion that turned out to be a playing field on a particularly wet evening.


Exhibit A...

In combination with being unemployed and trying to not spend money on things and a personal pledge I’ve made to try and extend the life of my clothes and shoes through repair or alteration that meant no new sneaks for me, however versatile a white pair might be. So I dyed them.

I didn’t know if this would work- I was fairly confident the canvas of the shoe would take the die, but not sure it the toe caps and soles would stain, I also wasn’t sure if the colour would be even thanks to the multitude of stains and marks, but I bought myself a Dylon Pod in a colour even more versatile in my wardrobe than white, and incidentally a colour I’ve never seen sneakers available to buy in either… Forest Green.


Not bad right? For £6odd, a couple of wash cycles and a bucket load of time to dry, as good as, no, BETTER than new sneakers- because anything this colour green will be superior to its equivalent in any other colour.



I used Dylon Dye Pod in Forest Green- it cost me around £6 from eBay and there’s over 20 different colours. They’re also available on Amazon, from Wilko, Hobbycraft and lots of supermarkets sell dye too. Although there are lots of machine dye options out there, I’m a fan of these because they don’t require adding salt to your washing machine or preparing in hot water first. It’s as simple as unwrapping the pod and throwing the whole thing in the drum with your items. This isn’t an ad, Sarah from ESSBEEVEE used these on *that* Zara dress last year and I was inspired.

A few things to note:
- The Dylon instructions say add ‘damp’ items to the machine with the pod. I washed my sneakers in the machine first, so they were very wet, but it doesn’t seem to have hindered the process.
Manufacturers would almost always say you shouldn’t wash shoes in the machine as it degrades the inners. You might find with sneakers that machine washing them (you’ll need to wash them with the dye and again after the dye run at least) that the inner sole lifts a bit or the rubber part which provides stiffness to the heel starts to disintegrate
If you have a few things you’re planning to have a go at, check the Dylon spec for how much dye you will need based on the weight of your fabric. I only put my one pair of sneakers through with one pod, but it could easily have done two pairs or one pair and a couple of smaller items
You might have noticed the white stitching on my now pleasingly green sneaks is still showing, which I love, it was an unexpected bonus. It’s because the dye won’t take to anything that is 100% synthetic, and I very much enjoy the fact that they look like they were always this colour because of the stitch contrast. Worth noting if you’re not keen on a contrasting stitch.

- In my case, the dye cost almost as much as my original pair of sneakers (Aldi middle aisle FYI), but one important thing I wanted to make with this DIY/Repair/Upcycle/Project is a change in approach to disposable living. I’m not afraid to say that I’ve been a follower and consumer of fast fashion nor that despite having some decent skills with a sewing machine I would get rid of a t-shirt with a hole in. We are all on our own journey when it comes to learning how we can make positive changes in the way we consume things, and one decision I made last year was that I would attempt to repair any damaged clothing or shoes before recycling them (re-use before recycle) and if I were to buy any new clothing (something I’ve been trying to avoid), I would only buy items I would be prepared to and that were of sufficient quality that I could repair them.

I’m fully aware that dye comes with its own environmental impact, but I personally believe it’s better to keep my items in use for longer before they are recycled, so here’s a few other ideas on how to refresh some of the things that might be lurking in your own wardrobes…

Black and Navy dyes are a great way to revive faded dark trousers, especially those which show fading around pockets or seams. See also black jeans that might be more grey than black.

White or cream items which are stained or starting to yellow/grey from wash and wear take colour really well and will take anything from a pale lilac to a vivid cobalt thanks to the neutral base. This is especially useful if you have any items in your wardrobe which are tricky to match, why spend time and money hunting down the perfect shade of pink to go with that skirt when you can extend the life of something you already have?

Simple patterns like spots and stripes are often retained if they’re printed onto fabric as opposed to woven in, and turning a white spot into something exciting on a black background is a fun switch.

Lightweight curtains (often decorative ones) in a sensible shade of beige could be the new lease of life you need for your living room (especially if you’re currently spending all your time there), adding a splash of colour to a room can completely change how it feels.

Right, my washing machine is shouting me, as some of Tom’s summer shorts have come out of storage and are getting a refresh via some dye, here’s to the extended life of all our favourites, or just a change to your favourite colour.