lashesoflifestyle

Posts by this author:

Lifestyle || International Women’s Day – What it means to me…

International Women’s Day. What does it mean to you?

Everyone interprets things differently, based on experience, beliefs and vision. And days like this can be the same. But we’ll all still have similar underlying thoughts…It’s a day of empowering and recognising women of the world, and the impact and contributions THEY make to companies, communities and society.

International Women’s Day started over a century ago, with the first gathering taking place in 1911.

It now happens each and every year on 8th March all around the world. IWD officially says the day is for “celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”

In my mind, some do go a little far in this fight – I love occasions like this where we can truly celebrate our achievements, albeit, it shouldn’t just be one day a year. However, I think International Women’s Day isn’t about saying that we’re better than men. It’s about showing how amazing women are, yes. About empowering every woman, yes. It’s about showing all the things we can and could achieve should we have the right opportunities. It’s about pushing equality.

I can see others are VERY passionate about feminism, empowering women, and pushing us ahead. And I do class myself as a feminist, but also an equalist.

Edinburgh festive weekend break

I don’t think I’m better than my boyfriend (blimey his general knowledge sometimes blows my mind!), and I wouldn’t say I’m better than other males who work at my level in my career path. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately we’re all equal and should have the same opportunities and be treated alike.

It was announced today that by giving female entrepreneurs the same access to funding, as male entrepreneurs, we could increase the economy to £250 billion! Just by giving more equal opportunities when it comes to banks and funding. It’s pretty crazy right?! And this is obviously one example of where opportunities aren’t equal, are where things need to change. It’s not just to benefit women, it’s to benefit the world.

Whether we think having one specific day like this really makes a difference or not, we should definitely be fighting for this equality. I believe having this specific day allows for an appreciation, empowerment and a sort of thanks to those women who are leading and pushing equality in everything. But we should be fighting each and every day of the year until we hit that equality – and not just between gender, but between every single person whatever their race and however they identify.

It’s interesting to see what others think/believe about equality and the advice they’d give to others too. I contributed to a blog post through work, which includes a number of other strong, successful women, and it’s fab to read all the quotes. What are your thoughts on International Women’s Day?

Chloe xx

Follow:

Lifestyle|| Learning to be more laid back

I was chatting to my mum on the phone the other day whilst waiting for one of the girls. I told her I was super early, which made a change as for some reason I tend to always arrive slightly behind these days. Only by a couple of minutes but still. Mum then jokingly said “What’s happened to you? You used to always be early or on time”.

This sparked something. I realised I wasn’t acting anymore. I have actually become more laid back. Ok, only a little. A couple minutes late. Not getting as annoyed if plans change. Or if things don’t go my way. Not so worried about missing out. Organising things last minute. It’s all pretty small but it’s taken some time. And to be honest, there’s still times I go to react and think, hold on, does this REALLY matter. Like really really?

Learning to be more laid back

I’ve realised that all those little things which used to make me anxious, like being late or not having plans, really don’t matter. In the grand scheme of things, they don’t actually make much difference. You probably wait for friends as much as they do for you. And if one of your plans changes one evening, it just means you get an evening to do anything you want. Perhaps some well deserved me time. And if you already have had plenty of that…then you could take yourself out if you really wanted. Why do we get so hung up about the little things?

I’ve actually learnt three key things through all of this, in enabling you to be more laid back…

You do need to learn to love me time. As if plans do get bailed on, then quite likely you’ll be doing something alone. But there is a beauty in this. You can do you. Anything you want. All the things you love. I think learning to love this has definitely helped me.

Learning to be more laid back

The people you have in your life can make a huge difference too. If they make you feel more laid back and have a similar attitude, then generally you do. I realised that my ex was actually quite toxic with regards to this aspect of me. He quite possibly brought out the worst. Comparing the way I am now (with someone new in my life) to back then is pretty crazy when I think about it. It really does go to show your personality can reflect that of others, or how others make you feel. Make sure you’re surrounding yourself with positive people, who love you unconditionally. It’s super important.

Learning to be more laid back

Thirdly, I’ve learnt to take a second (if that these days), and think so what?! What difference is this really going to make to my life? Will these 10 minutes clearing up after someone else really impact me? It might be a tiny bit annoying at the time, but is it worth the annoyance? And if things don’t really go the way I thought..yes I might be slightly put out, and change is hard sometimes, but realistically it won’t make much difference in the long run. Or it might even make me stronger, putting me in new scary situations.

It really is trying to look at the positive side of it all. Not taking everything so seriously. And thinking more big picture. Because getting hung up on all these little things can really impact how much we get anxious, frustrated and nervous, and ultimately our happiness. And to be completely frank, you should always choose happiness. It’s worth way more.

Do you have any techniques which help you stay a little more laid back?

Chloe xx

Follow:

Chloe Tries || Foodie Monthly – January & February

I haven’t done one of these since the end of December. Mainly because I was away for almost two weeks at the end of January. But also because I knew some of the things out there would definitely make it into my list. So writing it early would not be representative of my faves from the month haha. It then got later and later, and I thought I might as well tie the two months together and give you a big old run down. And here we are. Sorry, a little life story covering the last couple of months.

I have had an awesome start to the year on the foodie side of things. I’ve had the opportunity to try some fab new launches, but also have stumbled across a few ‘new to me’ bits which deserve a mention. Because food is life, and life is quite often organised around the food. Well definitely for me. So here goes, my faves from January and February..

Roti

I think this one goes without saying. It’s probably going to be in my fave foods of the year. I raved about them in my  post covering THE food to try in St. Lucia, and for good reason. These ultra thin flatbreads with spiced meat or vegetables are packed with aromatic flavour. Chicken, veggie or fish, they’re all amazing. I would do almost anything to have another this week – alas, I don’t think there’s anywhere here which does a good enough version.

St Lucia Food and Drink

Creole Chicken

In the same vein, Creole Chicken is another St Lucian fave I cannot get out of my head. A deep flavour. Super tender chicken. I need to learn how to make this myself…might need lessons from the boyfriend’s family! Watch this space!

St Lucia Food and Drink

School of Wok Stir Fry Kits

These are new launch for School of Wok which hit stores at the end of last year. The packs come with marinade, spice mix and sauce, so all you need to do is add meat and/or veg, and noodles. I obviously added both; chicken and a fresh pepper stir fry pack. They’re super simple to use with instructions on the back. Plus stir fry is a really speedy dinner which is what I often love mid-week when I’m rushing about.

Foodie Monthly - January and February; School of Wok Stir Fry Kit Foodie Monthly - January and February; School of Wok Stir Fry Kit

The flavours are fab, and there’s plenty of sauce too, which is something I often miss with some of these packs for two. The Spicy Sichuan is my fave, super tasty with a slight kick.

Foodie Monthly - January and February; School of Wok Stir Fry Kit

Brunch @ Lola’s Bakery

We headed to Lola’s Bakery in West Hampstead to brunch in early Feb when I had one of the girls to visit for the weekend. I didn’t actually realise they did brunch until recently, I thought it was just cakes.

Foodie Monthly - January and February; brunch at Loal's bakery west hampsteadFoodie Monthly - January and February; brunch at Loal's bakery west hampstead

The brunch menu is actually HUGE, with so many savoury and sweet options. There a a few shakshukas (my go-to) and I introduced Heather to the dish. She’d never had one before. The aubergine shakshuka was rich, tangy and fantastic. The eggs could have been a bit more runny, but the sourdough bread was delicious too, making it a fab brekkie. Heather had the gluten free almond flat bread with hers which was insane – definitely go for that! The other dishes look so good too, I’m definitely heading back for more!

Gregg’s Vegan Sausage Roll

Yes, late to the party I know, but I finally tried the legendary vegan sausage roll. And I can tell you, it’s better than the original. It’s super herby and the pastry is deliciously flaky. But it’s not overly greasy, which is one thing I dislike about pastries. If you haven’t tried one yet, go – they’re only about £1!

Foodie Monthly - January and February; Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll

Arancini Bros’ new spot in Maltby Street

I haven’t been to Arancini Bros in a long while. In fact, it’s been so long that it wasn’t even fully vegan when I last went. Not only is everything now completely plant-based, the packaging is environmentally friendly too – totally awesome!

We popped along to the new branch in Maltby Street. I can imagine it being super busy at the weekend, but on a Tuesday evening it was very quiet. They didn’t have any original arancini balls when we visited, but the mushroom-zucchini ones were fab! We loved them with the eggplant relish!

Foodie Monthly - January and February; arancini bros maltby street Foodie Monthly - January and February; arancini bros maltby street

The chick’n wrap, rolled with risotto balls, salad of the day, citrus dressing and mayo was fantastic too – I couldn’t believe how good the soya pieces were. Whilst the vegan chorizo in the risotto burger had a fab texture and superb spicy taste.

Foodie Monthly - January and February; arancini bros maltby streetFoodie Monthly - January and February; arancini bros maltby street

I may not be a vegan, but I can definitely appreciate a good vegan menu when I see one.

Jubel Beer

This brand aims to be a quirky beer. Jubel was started by a couple of guys who were fed up of drinking standard lager, so quit their day jobs to create the lager they wanted to drink. They’ve got super cool branding and the flavours are pretty different, including elderflower and peach.

Foodie Monthly - January and February; Jubel beer

Both of the beers are gluten-free, vegan-friendly and naturally infused. They’re also super delicious. They’re not overly hoppy, and make a fab light beer to have alongside dessert. Or just enjoyed in the sunshine we’ve been having on a Saturday afternoon.

TwoRuba

TwoRuba is a cocktail bar which can be found on the ground floor of the Hilton, near London Bridge. It’s pretty swanky and does have a ball pit hidden somewhere inside too! Crazy right? I went along with one of the girls and had a lovely couple of cocktails; two from the menu, two created especially for us by Dominique, the mixologist, just based on our previous choices.

Foodie Monthly - January and February; TwoRuba Foodie Monthly - January and February; TwoRuba

The Banana Martini (banana liquor, Monkey 47 gin and Aperol garnished with dried banana) and the Blue Ruba (Botanist gin, lime, sugar, thyme, vanilla with BlackBerry foam), both signature cocktails were fantastic. The banana martini strong and smooth. I do love a banana flavour. The two cocktails which followed, our personal recipes, were just as fab! We had a lovely evening and I’ll definitely be going back if in the area one evening!

Coop Irresistible Rich & Creamy Chicken in White Wine Sauce

Ok, I know this is a strange one to put on this round-up. Mainly because it’s a pre-packaged and pre-pared dish. It’s not something I tend to opt for a lot of the time. However, Chris grabbed this for the night before our flight out to St Lucia as a quick and easy meal. And I can’t stop thinking about it.

Foodie Monthly - January and February; Coop chicken in creamy white wine sauce

It was only about £5, served two, and there was plenty! The sauce was rich, thick and creamy. We had it with a delicious mash (Chris makes a fantastic one), and greens and it hugely satisfied. I know it’s lazy, but I’m definitely getting this again, and I’m not going to be ashamed. Sometimes we need easy, go-to dinners when we stuck for time. It’s better and cheaper than takeaway!

Chris’ sea bass

Chris truly outdid himself this Valentine’s Day. Ok, so I haven’t really celebrated properly before. So when Chris said let’s do something, I couldn’t resist. Not that we needed an excuse for a nice, romantic night in. Anyway, Chris said he’d cook, and when I got there he was over half way through preparing this amazing seabass dish – something I never cook myself at home. The fish was on a bed of new potatoes, chorizo, tomatoes and butter beans, and it was all cooked in white wine sauce. Honestly, so so good. I now want to cook more seabass dishes – send me all of your fave recipes!

Foodie Monthly - January and February;

And there you have it. My faves from the past two months. What new things have you tried recently?

Chloe xx

*This post does include food/drink from reviews I’ve been invited to, or samples I’ve received. All views my own. 

Follow:

Eating Out || The vegan menu @ The Barley Mow, Westminster

I often opt for a vegan option. Mainly because I’m inquisitive as to how good it’d be. But apart from residencies at pubs in London, like the Spreadeagle and Club Mexicana, I’ve not seen a decent vegan pub grub menu. Not one with plenty of vegan options anyways. That was until I tried The Barley Mow in Westminster.

Barley Mow is a typical pub from the outside.

And to be fair the inside too. It’s a local boozer. One which shows the football and has all the jolly punters drinking away the evenings, and generally having a good time. However, the General Manager, Mark, decided he wanted to up the gastro pub standards. Being a vegan himself Mark knows the value of a good vegan range of dishes and so set out to be able to offer london vegans all the pub classics they might miss out on.

The vegan menu features 5 very different dishes, from tofish to tacos and a Buddha bowl.

They’re all served in true pub portions (plentiful), but actually look better than traditional pub grub. What’s more, it’s all homemade from scratch which is amazing for a pub. Many order foods in pre-prepared, only needing to reheat and unwrap. I used to work in a couple, so I know how nice it is that they really do seem to take their time over making these new options themselves.

The Barley Mow Vegan Menu

The Tofish and chips blew my mind.

A seaweed wrapped, beer battered tofu, it had a fab texture (no soggy tofu here). It actually tasted almost a little like fish too, from the seaweed of course. I couldn’t really believe it. The home cooked chunky chips were fab, and the vegan tartare was super creamy – pretty sure the difference to a normal version was tiny. One amazing pub grub dish, which even being a lover of fish, would order again for sure.

The Barley Mow Vegan Menu

The Tacos were a fave too. Ok, tacos aren’t too tricky to make vegan. But these were seriously good. The taco shells weren’t overly crispy, which I really liked as a crunchy shell makes it hard to keep everything together. The filling consisted of a mix of kidney beans, red peppers, onions and courgettes, which was soft but had that Mexican taste, and was delicious. There was plenty of guacmole atop and salsa on the side too, which is a must for Mexican. Some pretty awesome tacos – would highly recommend these over any meat option.

The Barley Mow Vegan Menu

The mixed bean & mushroom sausage and mash was a good vegan version of the classic.

I’m a big fan of a good veggie sausage however I’d never had sausages made from butter beans, kidney beans and portobello mushroom before. These were super tasty and had a great texture. The mash was really creamy too, which made this another great dish.

The Barley Mow Vegan Menu

The Buddha bowl is my kind of choice. It’s a huge bowl of turmeric roasted cauliflower and chickpeas, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, harissa and butternut squash, with homemade guacamole, hummus and toasted seeds. A fab mix of colours, and textures, with plenty of flavour. It was seriously delicious and very fresh.

The Barley Mow Vegan Menu

I think although this would quite often be my first choice through my love of roasted veg and hummus, I’d definitely recommend pushing the boat out and trying the other vegan pub grub alternatives. They’re just a bit more surprising, which is nice to have the option for on a pub menu. Although you obviously can’t be wrong with a Buddha bowl like this.

As for drinks…

…because it is a pub after all, there are vegan beers on the menu, as well as plenty of gin & tonic options. The sacred g&t was my fave, served with a cinnamon stick and star anise.

and the team…

The team were fab! They were really knowledgeable and helpful. Always there and on the ball. Great service and passion!

SUMMARY:

  • Price: The vegan mains are priced at £10/£11, with the tacos at £3 each. Fantastic prices for the quality and portions.
  • Food: The whole new vegan menu is superb. SO much flavour! And that’s coming from a meat-eater..I’d definitely go for one of these over a meat dish.
  • Drinks: There are vegan beers and G&Ts on the menu. Try the sacred.
  • Atmosphere: Local pub, super friendly, and the team are really knowledgeable and helpful
  • Wait: It does get busy on match day, so do book if you can.

Are you a vegan or do you just opt for the odd vegan option?

Chloe xx

*I was invited to the blogger event held by Nicola at East London Girl and Glendola Leisure. All views my own. 

Follow:

Lifestyle|| Embracing Hygge in Your Life

You may or may not know, Hygge is a Danish concept that means ‘enjoying life’s simple pleasures’. It suddenly emerged in the UK a couple of years ago, and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere – I like to think we’re learning something from those who know how to live in the moment, and enjoy the little things. It represents that feeling of cosiness and contentment and so it’s an idea/lifestyle/concept that you could easily apply in your own home.
From furniture to soft furnishings, there are plenty of ways you can fully embrace the concept and start enjoying those little pleasures. If you are starting from scratch or just want a few additional items here are a few ideas you can start with:

A super cosy sofa

Falling on to a sofa at the end of a long day is part of the hygge concept. I love this feeling, taking the weight off your feet and having a moment just to yourself.

Embracing hygge

Sectional sofas are the best because you can do so much with them. Not only are they multi-purpose and extremely functional, they’re also very comfortable—especially when you turn them into a giant square couch bed. Imagine those Netflix binge-watching days! Sectional sofas can vary significantly dependent on price range. Some, like the Darnell Sectional by Sunpan Modern can cost up to £1,244, while others, like the Huntsville Reversible Sectional by Alcott Hill are only £445. But at the end of the day, a sofa is a piece of furniture that is worth investing in – I know I would be using it frequently. One of my friends has one of these, and I’m already saving for a new one for my next place!

A chair that feels like warm hugs

A good chair has a way of bringing an entire room together and is another great way to give your home that hygge feel. I do love curling up in one, with a blanket and a good read! House Beautiful believes that the Lucy and Lily armchairs help make that cosy corner or comfy spot. The styles are minimalist yet chic, and could easily slot into the corner of a living room or bedroom. The colours of these two are gorgeous, and look like they’ll match many colour schemes. Just add a blanket and you’re away. I do love an oversized armchair or barrel chair too. The pure size/scale of them, and how you sink in makes me want to everyday. My sister has one, and I used to love cuddling up with my niece on it when she was tiny!

A flickering fireplace

Embracing hygge

Nothing is more hygge than sitting in front of a roaring fire – I love being at my parents’ home doing just this! Unless your home has a chimney and pre-existing fireside, the best option would be to invest in an electric fireplace. Even though most hygge hearths are promoted as log fires, the electric fireplaces on Screwfix show how modern electrical designs are often made to replicate the look of a traditional fireside. My boyfriend’s parents have an electric fireplace in their front room, and it’s gorgeous and cosy!
To truly make it more hygge, you could install a fire surround and dress it up with a few nature-inspired decorations like logs, twigs, foliage, flowers, and plants.

Soft and fluffy pillows and cushions

Embracing hygge

Nothing is more inviting, luxurious, and hygge than soft throw pillows. Not that anyone needs another excuse to buy a few 😉 House Beautiful highly recommends the Amped Fleece Fringed Throw Pillow from Urban Outfitters, which you can get for less than £23. You can also get chunky knit throw pillows from Etsy for £24.

Natural materials and vintage accents

Embracing hygge

Your finishing touches to your hygge home can include candles, soft sofa covers, and even natural-fibre rugs. Interior design writer Sienna Rodgers recommends that you add seventies sisal tapestries, plaited natural-fibre rugs, and a few oak lamps with paper shades. Which I love the idea of! Stoneware pots and even small vintage teapots can be used as accents, too. Natural elements like the ones you would put around your fireplace would also work in other parts of your home, such as your bathroom, kitchen, and even your bedroom.

If you can, let some natural light in to make your home look more inviting too. If you don’t have big windows, you can achieve the hygge atmosphere with lamps that give out a warm glow. Lights with a low lumen range are considered warm-coloured and would work well in any room. A few lifestyle changes can also help you achieve hygge in your life. Going on long walks, eating your meals a little slower, and meditating a few times a week can really help with living in the moment.

Letting go of a few items in your home can also make such a difference.

Start with your wardrobe—donate some of the items you have not worn in the past three years to charities. I loved having a clear out when I moved last year, and have made it a regular thing now. Having a minimalist lifestyle is a big part of hygge. Surround yourself with things that really make you happy, and ultimately, make sure you use your home for living in and not for storing things.

And there you have it. Just a few ideas to get you going. Do you embrace hygge already in your home? How do you make sure you enjoy life’s simple pleasures?

Chloe xx

*This post was written with Henry Alcock

Follow: