Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #54

Happy first Happy Monday of March! Can I first address the fact that it’s already March, and this year is going by far too quickly for my liking?! Well, January really dragged for me but February? Blink and you’d have missed it! As I alluded to last fortnight, things are a little difficult for me right now. I’m trying my hardest to concentrate on the little things, but some days are better than others! Here’s the good bits from the last couple of weeks…

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    1. Lots of doggy cuddles. I’ve been dogsitting this past weekend and it’s been great to spend some quality time with my pup. He’s definitely in his more senior years so it’s been lots of cuddles and a few extra sneaky treats!
    2. A weekend with my mummy. We went for our annual afternoon tea (this time at Hide, which was every bit as beautiful as I’d hoped) and had a wander around Richmond the next day. A lovely and relaxing weekend ahead of many weekends of study…
    3. The Chickpea Pasta recipe from Ottolenghi Simple. An absolutely amazing dish, and the chickpea mixture is also really good over sourdough toast. It’s going to become a staple for sure.
    4. I’m Fine, and Neither Are You. One of the February free Kindle books available for Prime member, and it was one of the best books I’ve read in a while.
    5. Another good tomato-free pizza from Waitrose. This one was Speck and Gorgonzola and was the perfect combo of meaty and cheesy.
    6. Cosying up in jumper dresses. I’ve recently invested in one from Oliver Bonas and it’s just so cosy and soft!
    7. One of the best pies I’ve ever, ever eaten. It was a Chicken, Pancetta and Mushroom combination at The White Hart near Waterloo. It was packed full of tender meat, had so much flavour and the pastry was perfect to (about as far away from a soggy bottom as is possible). I also really enjoyed the roasted veg and braised red cabbage on the side. Oh, and the Sticky Toffee Pud was pretty awesome as well.
    8. Bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon. A treat breakfast as smoked salmon doesn’t generally fall into my shopping basket, but its been soooo good!
    9. Fresh daffodils and a new side table.
    10. Finding some cookie dough frozen in the freezer. Freshly baked cookies in 15 minutes is a very dangerous thing indeed…

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #53

Happy Monday! After my more positive post a fortnight ago there’s been radio silence on here and, whilst I do have an excuse, it’s not something I particularly want to share. Let’s just say that these last few weeks have been far from easy and there’s more to come. I’m hoping that focusing on the positives whilst writing this post will improve my mindset (it needs it!).

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  1. The SUN. These last few days have been absolutely glorious in London, and for the first time in my life I’ve felt a genuine difference in my mood as the weather has brightened up. I’ve even been outside with bare legs (albeit a midi skirt) and a t-shirt. In February.
  2. Having a big spring clean. With the warmer weather we threw open all the doors and windows and went a little crazy with the cleaning spray. We reorganised cupboards (my bathroom cupboard now has boxes for treatments of different ailments. I even have a first aid box). Found places for wedding presents which have been sat out for months. Sadly the missing limited edition MAC lipstick that sparked the tidying remains missing.
  3. Picking up more plants. Our flat was lacking some green, so we picked up some more plants and attracted a lot of attention walking back from B&Q. Now just to keep them alive!
  4. Gooey melted cookie dough pots. For our Valentine’s date night we kept things fairly simple – pan-fried sea bass with a lemon caper butter, then this glorious cookie pots based on a recipe from Top with Cinnamon.
  5. Lots of new recipes. We’d noticed we’d let our goal to cook more new recipes slide in January due to both of us being ill constantly, but we more than made up for it in the last two weeks, pretty much everything we cooked was a new try! Highlights have been an Ottolenghi chickpea pasta dish and a smoked haddock bake. And the aforementioned cookie pots.
  6. Having broad beans for the first time in years. My Granddad used to grow them and they immediately transported me back to my childhood.
  7. A new concealer that seems to be working wonders on my under-eye circles. If you have trouble in this area definitely check out the L’Oreal Infallible More Than concealer.
  8. Knitting! My knitting skills are definitely getting there – don’t get me wrong my Grandma would NOT be impressed but it’s looking less like a tangle of wool every time!
  9. Popcorn from The Popcorn Shed (gifted). The perfect calorie controlled snack, and the flavours are *amazing* – I loved the Berrylicious flavour combined raspberries and chocolate…
  10. Branching out and buying a leopard print dress – now I just need to find the courage and the occasion to wear it!

What’s made you smile this week? Are you enjoying the nicer weather?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #52

Happy Monday, and Happy February. I have to say I’m very glad to see the back of January as it felt like the longest greyest month ever. I’ve found I’m really, really struggling with the wedding blues now. It wasn’t too bad immediately after the wedding and honeymoon as we had a break to the Cotswolds, birthdays and Christmas to look forward to, but now it seems like a *very* long time to go before anything else exciting happens – so I’m hoping getting into the habit of these Happy Monday posts will help to cheer me up again. Recalling the positive things does seem to lift my mood slightly…

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  1. Fruit crumble, Peanut Butter Jelly style. I’ve recently been working on a more modern take on the fruit crumble (see my classic recipe here) and it’s been a super delicious recipe to test.
  2. Really good bacon. W’s been getting a fortnightly subscription and it’s changed how I see bacon sandwiches for good. It smells incredible!
  3. Picking up a (still very expensive) dress in the Ted Baker sale ready for black tie events and weddings in the next year. I was specifically looking for something I could wear with my wedding shoes and I love it. I now need my bank card confiscating!
  4. Chowder. I absolutely fell in love with it during the New England leg of our honeymoon, and last week I made a gorgeous curried version. I’ve still got to attempt the classic Clam though…
  5. A tasting menu at Hibiscus in Northampton. Whilst the ‘main’ of venison was really not to my taste at all, everything else was delicious. The highlights were a cold crab salad on a puffed cracker, and a lovely light pigeon and beetroot dish.
  6. Trying out a DoughnutTime doughnut – I went for the Bruno Mars based on a Kinder Bueno. It was delicious although a tad too sweet for my liking, I thought the hazelnut creme could be a tad nuttier.
  7. More board games. I mentioned last time that we were enjoying Zombiecide, but this fortnight we’ve been enjoyed 7 Wonders Duel, it’s a two-player game that definitely keeps us entertained of an evening!
  8. Burning candles. I’m determined not to keep saving them ‘for best’ so every night my flat is being filled with some delicious scent. It’s definitely lifting my mood slightly too!
  9. A really good burger from GBK – the Major Tom is definitely worth a try!
  10. A vegan lunch-time soup of chickpeas (so many chickpeas in the recipe!), lemon, mint and tahini. It was a little like hummus in soup form and was absolutely delicious. 100% my favourite soup recipe *ever* and I’ll be posting the recipe very soon…

What’s made you happy recently?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #51

I feel like January has been *the* longest month ever. Why isn’t it over yet?! Yet again I’ve been crazzzyyyy busy at work (plus the studying has started again, boo!) and I started this fortnight off battling a really horrific cold. Despite that it’s been prettyyyyy good and I’m hoping with February around the corner my post-festive bad mood will start to lift!

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  1. Silent Witness. It’s probably the only TV series (other than Bake Off and Masterchef) that I religiously watch so I’m really glad it’s back on our screens again. Even better is that BBC have made loads of old series available on iPlayer, so my evenings are even more fun now!
  2. Date Night at (you guessed it) Home SW15. We made it for another visit as we’d got a voucher for a free bottle of wine, and had a really delicious meal. More of the Cauliflower Croquettes (a must try!), then I enjoyed a *massive* Chicken Kiev with Sprouts and Artichoke Puree whilst W had a very indulgent Cheese Souffle. We both finished off with Treacle Tart which was almooosssttt as good as my grandmas recipe
  3. Haggis. Burn’s Night just can’t be done with out it, but we had plans on the Friday evening so celebrated a few days early with Haggis, Neeps and Tatties and a Whisky Sauce. So, so good and I also have enough spare to make Haggis Carbonara the next day!
  4. Making progress with knitting. I’ve been trying for years but it suddenly seems to have clicked. I’m far, far from perfect but it actually resembles knitting rather than knotting now…
  5. Planning our Scottish road trip. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for years and we’ve finally taken the plunge. We’re not doing the whole of Scotland as we wanted to restrict the amount of driving and also really get a feel for the places we do visit, but I’m super excited! And it just means we’ll have to plan another trip for the bits we didn’t see…
  6. Board games! We’ve developed a love for them over the last few months. At the moment our favourite is Zombiecide, a strategy-based collaborative game that can even be played by 1 player. Any other recommendations then do let me know!
  7. Green & Black’s Orange Velvet Fruit. We got a bag in a Degustabox (gifted) a few months ago and they are absolutely addictive. So, so good.
  8. Donating a load of food to the local Food Bank. We had a lot of chocolate from Christmas we weren’t ever going to get through, plus a lot of tins which we just weren’t using. Clearer cupboards for us and it helps out people in need.
  9. Sex Education on Netflix. So good for some light-hearted watching!
  10. Vegan lunchboxes. Since my Mushroom & Lentil Stew I’ve eaten a really tasty bean salad (although I did ‘cheat’ as I had a dressing leftover from these Taco bowls which I drizzled over for a few days – but I’d sooner cheat than waste food!). I’ve also got a curry made with chickpeas and cauliflower for this week, and I’ve got a bean stew planned for next.

What have you been up to recently?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #49

It’s the last day of the year, but it’s also time for my Happy Monday post. I did debate doing a special “year in review” type post but unfortunately ran out of time to put it together – and so it’s the bog-standard usual format, albeit with some added Christmas sparkle! I will however be putting together a Year in Review thingy on my Instagram stories, so keep an eye on that if you’re interested!

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First up though, what’s made me happy lately…

  1. Making it through Christmas (and also 6 whole months!) without either me or W ending up on A&E. Given last Christmas Day I took him in, then both of us were in within 10 days of each other in the summer it’s a bit of a relief!
  2. Pecan & Maple Snowball Cookies. I made them as gifts for my team at work and they are 100% my favourite bake of the year. Recipe will be up as soon as the photos are edited…
  3. Picking up two jumpers I’d lusted after in the Fat Face sale for less than half price.
  4. Making White Russian’s at home. It’s one of my favourite drinks and it’s dangerously easy…
  5. New fluffy socks. So warm, so cosy!
  6. Making prints of our wedding photos as Christmas gifts for our parents. It gave me all the feels, and I can’t wait to choose some to display in our own home.
  7. Lighting my Cocoa & Cashmere scented candle from Yorkshire Soap Company. It’s the most glorious fragrance!
  8. Big blanket scarves. I unwrapped one on Christmas night from my parents, and treated myself to another in the sales.
  9. My beautiful new chowder mugs, all the way from a tiny potter in New England – because my husband is all kinds of awesome. I’m planning to do a whole post about them soon but short story is I saw them, didn’t get them, moaned about it for weeks then unwrapped them on Christmas day.
  10. Cuddles with my pups. Our old terrier behaves like a puppy again when there’s presents to unwrap which is so lovely to watch!

I could go on and on about how lovely Christmas was, it might sound boring but a quiet few days with my nearest and dearest was exactly what the doctor ordered! I’m now prepping for a NYE celebration of good food and board games, so the good times are only going to continue!

How was your Christmas break?

Lifestyle: Happy Fortnightly Things #47

I’m back! Despite very good intentions to have all October’s posts scheduled in advance, sadly it didn’t happen. Happily, though, I’m back as a married women. Still thoroughly wrapped up in newly-wedding bliss, suffering deeply with the honeymoon blues (and extra honeymoon lbs!) but excited to be back writing in my little online space. I have an awful lot of *whispers* Christmas content to plan, write and photograph soon but I have a little goal to keep posting regularly until my regular Christmas-New Year break so here goes…

Let me know in the comments what you have been up to!

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    1. We all know what’s coming up first – getting married! I finally, FINALLY married my best friend at the beginning of October. The day, whilst it didn’t go without hitches, was everything we’d dreamt of and even more. Nothing prepares you for the feeling of walking into a full room knowing everyone is there for you, because of you. Getting ready with my closest girls was wonderful, dancing with my new husband a really surreal moment, and I just can’t quite believe we finally did it. We’ve started to get photos through and oh my, has our photographer done an amazing job
    2. Being surprised with the most perfect honeymoon. Many of you will know that I handed over every single jot of honeymoon planning over to W, with strict instructions that I wanted to be surprised on our wedding day. Somehow we made it over a year between booking and me finding out, with only one small slip up by a friend. Even then the details were a total surprise, it wasn’t what I’d have guessed but it was wonderful. Boston, a Fall road trip around New England, New York and then Hawaii. Bliss.
    3. Ticking off a restaurant from my bucket list. Our NYC stretch of the trip managed to include dinner at Eleven Madison Park. Three Michelin stars, listed as Number One restaurant in the world in 2017. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience, with some of the most exquisite food I have ever tasted. I won’t be reviewing it in full, but I will probably do some kind of post on it in the future.
    4. It goes without saying that most of the food in NYC was a highlight – I don’t think we ate a bad meal. In fact we only had one bad meal in our trip of nearly three weeks, so I don’t think that’s too bad!
    5. A helicopter tour over Maui, Hawaii. Another bucket list item ticked off in the space of a few weeks, though I was pretty terrified! We spent most of our time on the island flopped on a beach, but managed to squeeze in this sight-seeing flight and I’m so glad we did – it was stunning!
    6. Coming home to fresh bed sheets. I was so glad past Chloe made that decision during the madness of packing.
    7. Heading back into the office to be given more responsibility which, touch wood, seems to be going well.
    8. Being more inventive with lunchboxes. Whilst my usual lunches are by no-means bad, now W is no longer part of a ‘lunch club’ at university I’m now prepping for two and he gets bored having the same thing every single day. So far highlights have been a thick and funky Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup, and a Caesar Salad made with lentils.
    9. Baking sourdough – mainly my husbands (!) project but one I’m wholeheartedly supporting.
    10. The smell of a Pumpkin Spice candle. Utter bliss.

And that’s my quick catch-up. Please do tell me what you’ve been up to recently, I’d love to hear your news!

Lifestyle: Happy Things #44

Another Sunday evening when I’m going to moan about being too hot – it’s the start of September, I should be getting ready for Autumn but even the thought of wearing a jumper is making me sweat. Though I have at least managed to wear a cardigan outside recently which is an improvement… A lot has happened since my last Happy post (especially as I missed one, whoops!) so this is a bumper one. It’s certainly been a good few weeks.

    1. Being able to say “we get married NEXT MONTH” – after being engaged since the end of 2015 this feels crazy! So excited to be a wife…
    2. On more wedding-related news, we’ve had our respective stag and hen dos. He came back with all hair/beard/eyebrows still in-tact which was my biggest worry, so that was good. And my hen (or at least part I, with part II to come!) was amazing. My girls did a wonderful job at planning at day that was perfect for me, though unfortunately my night out was cut short when my mum took ill – but hey, what’s another Happy Things post without praising our ambulance service?!
    3. The meal on my hen deserves a special mention – I wouldn’t be a food blogger if meals weren’t a highlight. However my Confit Duck Leg with a Plum and Ginger Glaze was extraordinary. One of the best things I’ve eaten all year.
    4. All the foodie magazines. Recently I’ve been able to get a copy of the Sainsbury’s magazine through work, which takes our regular foodie magazines up to 3 per month, plus anything else I can get my hands on. So much inspiration. And it’s meant we’ve definitely kept up our goal of cooking at least one new dish a week…
    5. Speaking of new food, August’s Degustabox arrived and was just as good as July’s. I’m a big fan of the Crooked alcoholic soda!
    6. Making a batch of Noodle Salad for lunchboxes. It was loosely based on this recipe, but I’ll be posting my own version soon!
    7. Hosting a dinner party for friends. I made a selection of tips (Tumeric Hummus, Courgette & Tahini and a Whipped Feta) and served with breads – I could have just eaten that. So fun to catch up over some delicious food.
    8. Picking up a new favourite dress from Warehouse. My previous favourite shrunk but they’ve been great about refunding it, fingers crossed this one doesn’t suffer the same problem!
    9. This Trout Pizza from Waitrose is still a favourite, I’ll be gutted when it’s no longer available…
    10. A few days of cooler weather. We enjoyed some comfort food (this Cauliflower Cheese Risotto is a great option!), and I even pulled out the fluffy socks. Sadly it hasn’t lasted!

What have you been up to lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #43

It’s Sunday evening, I’m sat sprawled out in an attempt to cool down and am utterly, utterly ready for Autumn. Sure, this hot weather is an excuse to eat plenty of ice-cream and I’m spoilt with an air-conditioned office AND a commute which involves the air-conditioned District Line. But it’s still a tad warm for my liking! Despite the moan about the heat, there’s been plenty making me happy lately…

  1. Cooking some more authentic Thai food. I posted about our Moo Pad Prik on Saturday, but it was absolutely delicious and deserves another mention!
  2. Finding a fragrance brand I really, really love. Noble Isle makes the most stunning fragrances, I already know I need ‘Fireside’ as a winter candle or diffuser this year!
  3. Flicking through my favourite new cookbook. Not only does Gatherings look beautiful on my shelf, it’s also one of the nicest books I’ve got. There’s barely any recipes which don’t scream ‘make me!’
  4. My cousins lovely wedding. It was the most relaxed day, she looked beautiful and it was lovely to catch up with my Grandma too.
  5. The above also made me super-excited for my own big day. It’s just under 9 weeks to go, I had my first dress fitting last week (which went far better than I had feared!) and eeek! So excited!
  6. Making one of the best cakes I’ve eaten yet. It was super-tasty, super-quick and went down really well at work (almost disappearing before lunch time). If you’ve got a courgette-glut it’s the perfect cake for you and I’ll be posting the recipe very soon…
  7. Finding all sorts of tomato-free pizzas in supermarkets. Waitrose are currently doing one with Trout, New Potatoes and Samphire which I’m excited to try!
  8. Having a freezer full of Bolognese (tomato-free of course) courtesy of yellow-sticker beef mince.
  9. Getting *the* most excellent customer service from the beauty salon where I’ve booked to have my nails done before my wedding. They’ve booked out the last two hours for me, my mum and sister, encourage us to bring some bubbles and were genuinely just lovely.
  10. An excellent issue of Delicious magazine. My future in-laws got me a subscription for my last birthday and it’s the best foodie mag I’ve read. Full of excellent articles and the recipes are super-seasonal and super-yum. To top it off the postal packaging is now biodegradable!

What’s made you happy lately?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #42

I’m back! It’s been a while since I sat down and wrote a blog post, with my Thursday recipes being scheduled in advance a while back. And I’ve missed it. Oh boy, have I missed blogging! But life got crazy, everything got in the way and it’s just not happened.

So where have I been? First up I managed to get some kind of stomach illness, and ended up in hospital with suspected (although fortunately not!) appendicitis. Then W got majorly ill along with hundreds of others at his graduation ceremony, which meant yet another hospital trip (this time in an ambulance – which I was secretly quite excited about underneath my worry). Then there’s been wedding bits and pieces, busy-ness at work and the fact that my appetite and love of food simply hasn’t come back yet – not great for a food blogger! But I’m back, I’m here, and I’m hopefully here to stay.

One thing I will say is that I’ve been having major technical issues over here recently. My server company is threatening to shut down the site, I’ve got no photos showing up and it’s all a bit of a nightmare. Just stay with me and we’ll hopefully figure it out! Oh, and Bloglovin decided to disconnect, then loose all of my previous posts. Doh!

And now onto what’s made me happy lately…

A post shared by Chloe Ellen (@life.and.loves) on

A post shared by Chloe Ellen (@life.and.loves) on

  1. I passed my exams! Yep, I’ve recently got the results of the exams I took back in April and I passed them both. I’m now only two exams away from qualifying which feels pretty damn good!
  2. Lunch at Padella. We finally bit the bullet and queued when I had a random Monday off. We got there before it opened, queued for just under an hour and then enjoyed some of the best pasta I’ve ever had. Including in Italy. Only beaten by one restaurant in Venice, my dish of thin, delicate strands of pasta with teeny sweet mussels was divine. I also tried Burrata for the first time, which is a ‘happy thing’ all of it’s own…
  3. Watching W graduate from his Masters. I was and am so unbelievably proud!
  4. Trying out rather enjoyable alcohol-free white wine. Botonique* is billed as the ‘soft drink for wine lovers’ and, whilst it divided opinions between my friends, I really enjoyed it (they weren’t keen at all!). The smell is a bit off-putting (aka don’t breathe it in) but once I got used to the fragrant flavour I found it the perfect thirst-quenching treat for a hot picnic. Definitely one to try if you’re cutting down on alcohol!
  5. Picking up my new favourite dress. It fits well, is beautifully made with gorgeously soft materials. And it has bees on it.
  6. Opening my first Degustabox* – a monthly hamper filled with new, innovative or exciting foodie treats. I’ll be reviewing this month’s on my Instagram stories so stay tuned on here to find out more, but so far the Rhubarb Cider has been a real highlight…
  7. Managing to replicate my go-to order at Bella Italia. It’s a courgette and pasta dish in a light lemon and tarragon sauce, and now I can make it all the time.
  8. A rather successful planning meeting at our wedding venue. We remembered exactly why we booked it as the staff are so helpful and organised. We’re virtually all set for the day now – I’ve sorted the bridesmaid gifts, RSVPs are rolling in daily and I’ve got my first dress fitting next week!
  9. A meal at Trishna. Fancy Indian food, it was all absolutely delicious, and I’m still dreaming about the Crab Curry.
  10. An afternoon learning all about sourdough. We were booked onto Bread Ahead’s Introduction to Sourdough* which was an amazing class. We’d previously done the Doughnut Workshop (see my post here) which was super-fun, but this one was a lot more technical. We came away with a couple of loaves each as well as a wild yeast culture to feed and start our own sourdough journey at home. I highly recommend if you want to further your bread making knowledge – full post will be up soon!

*Items marked were gifted in exchange for an honest review, with no money exchanging hands. All opinions my own as always!

What’s made you smile recently?

Lifestyle: Happy Things #41

Another Monday, another Happy Things diary! This last fornight has been a mix of being super-busy at work, some relaxing weekends and a lot of evenings spent resting a pulled neck (so painful!). Having said that, there’s still a lot to be happy about…

    1. White Chocolate and Pretzel Cookies. The perfect balance of sweet and salty, crunchy and chewy. Recipe coming soon!
    2. BBQs and gatherings with friends. I’m not a football fan at all, but the World Cup at least gives people the excuse to get together a bit more and I’m totally okay with that.
    3. Red Onion and Goat’s Cheese Quiche. It’s currently baking as I type, it smells *amazing* and I’m looking forward to it making up my lunchboxes this week.
    4. Having a bit of an Instagram clear-out. So many accounts I don’t remember following, or just don’t have any major interest any more. It’s meant my feed is full of content I actually want to see, so I’m engaging more. Win win.
    5. Fresh mackerel. It’s one of my favourite fishes and it’s *so* cheap to get hold of. This weekend we pan-fried some in a harissa glaze which was delish!
    6. Gaining a tortilla press. I’ve made homemade tortilla wraps previously but struggle to get an even thickness so I’m looking forward to giving this a go.
    7. Homemade burritos. We piled green rice, refried beans, pork pibil and cheese into wraps and heated in the oven. They were huge, naughty and absolutely delicious.
    8. Enjoying the above whilst watching the Lego Movie. Everything is awesome!
    9. My fiance passing his Masters degree – we celebrated with pizza and wine, then he caught up on some much needed sleep. I’ll hopefully be sharing some of his final project on my Instagram page soon so stay tuned…
    10. Managing to nail a copy-cat recipe of Bella Italia’s Pollo Siciliana. I skipped the chicken, but it was virtually spot-on and absolutely delicious. One I’ll be making again and again…

What’s made you happy this week?