Busting the January blues

Busting the January blues

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So Monday the 16th of January came and went. To most people this is another normals day but apparently over recent years it has been coined as the most depressing day of the year. With the all the fun and festivities behind us and just enough time to let some of those new years resolutions starting to slip away, it can be all to easy for mid January to turn into a bit of a downer. However, having spent one to many evenings alone in the flat nursing a one too many bowls of weetabix and nearly resorting to watching everything in my subscription box a second time round, i’ve finally unearthed myself from under the duvet to get out and get proactive and try to set an example to myself for the rest of the year. Only time will tell if this works out or not! So here is a list of my best ways of trying to bust the new year blues this January! 

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Taking up a new hobby 

Be it tap dancing or tiddlywinks there is never a better time than any than at the beginning of a new year to pick a new hobby. After all the socialising of the party season I will be the first one wanting to turn into a bit of a recluse and spend the best part of the month hiding under a pile of pillows. However taking up a new hobby will not only get you your creative juices flowing and your brain back into gear but it could also give you the opportunity to socialise more and meet more like minded people. And who knows what might happen, you find that you rather quickly become the best miniature model cake crochet-er in the country! (Genuine failed hobby of mine #807) 

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Get out and get active! 

Now hear comes the old cliche of starting off a new year by getting fit and healthy. By this I really don’t mean you have to go out and sign your life away to a new gym that you will use once, get intimidated by the large muscly men and continue to spend your evenings at home binge watching Lost with a large bowl of trifle (got to put the weetabix down on some occasions). Getting the so good old fresh air pumping through your lungs from a simple walk around the park or leisurely bike ride can do you the world of good after being cooped up inside all day. After all, it will give you an excuse to try out that new pedometer that you were so lovingly given by your mum for christmas, not as a hint or anything! 

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Go to the cinema 

With Brent and Bridget making their returns to our screens last year, cinema has definitely been on good form recently. But with awards seasons now well underway the beginning of a new year is always brimming with brand new brilliant films to take a good gander at. Whether it be action or animation that tickles your fancy, I find its a great way to pass the time in the cold winter night. 

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Having a “spring” clean and getting rid of all the crap 

Lambs may not have started leaping, daffodils may not have started growing and spring may not have sprung quite yet however spring doesn’t have to be here quite yet to have a good old clear out. I always find having a good old cleanse of your surroundings at the beginning of a new year will make for a much happier and healthier you. All the stuff which we have manage to accumulate over the year that we have desperately convinced ourselves that we need can either be chucked out or given a brand new how for someone to love more than you. And besides, you need to make some room for all those brand new christmas presents anyway. 

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Find some new meals. 

I know its a pain but with most of the tins of biscuits laying bare and selection of various cheeses all finished off, its time to put down the tin of quality street and find actual proper meals made with actual proper healthy things and stuff. I’m not saying go on some crazy celery juicing health kick (if celery juice is even a thing) however after having one to many batch cooked, reheated bolognese’s at the end of last year I definitely think it is time to broaden my culinary horizons and try something which isn’t 90% pasta! 

Now I just have to go and put all these into practise!

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Photos | Tom Flathers

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21 for 21

21 for 21

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So another year rattled its way around and I now find myself somehow getting to the grand old age of 21. Seriously, how the flipping hell did that happen! It feels like yesterday that I was playing in sand pits and panicking about what GSCE’s I am going to take ( I can confirm that they were not both happening at the same time). 

Anyway, I thought I would bring the celebrations into blog form in a 21 for 21 round up, 21 special occasions to me from the past 21 years. Now I say 21 years, with my memory not serving me in quite as much detail the further back we go I’ve had to sort of narrow it down to the last few years. (but “21 for 21, well from the last 5 years of said 21 years” wasn’t such a catchy title.) 

These occasions may not have been special out of their grandure, just out of something small happening to make it feel special. Obviously there are going to be some that get missed too but these are some which have stuck out to me. So after a good old trawl through my Facebook to see what I have actually been up to without further ado in no particular order as I really don’t have the brain power for that, lets get onto no.1. 

p.s. those who don’t like theatre may avert their eyes.  

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1. Weekend away in the Isle of Arran

In a rather snazzy hotel with probably the best gravy I have ever tasted, we had a great time in a very cool location and managed to get some pretty great photos (even if I did have to freeze my feet off in a very thin dress in very cold water.)

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2. Pool (no water)’s final night show

 I’ve been involved in many a show over the years from being on the stage to my new life behind the scenes but the final night of Pool (No Water) will always hold a very special place in my heart. On the whole my 2 years at 6th form was a brilliant experience and it was great way to bring them to a close and say goodbye to some wonderful people who I loved working with. 

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3. Visiting Alton Towers in the summer of 2015

Take me anywhere which involved very high things and very fast things then its highly likely that I’m not going to enjoy it. But with best friends by your side it really did make some scary experiences so enjoyable. From getting on my first rollercoaster, to the creation of “Hampshire rules” in UNO (something even we will never truly understand) and getting well and truly “gazeboed” in a £22 a night hotel in stoke it all made for a very special and memorable experience. 

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4. Disney fancy dress party

 Rather ironically as someone who spent most of their youth performing and now studies costume I have never been much of a fan of fancy dress parties. But our disney themed fancy dress party in 2014 was fab with everyone giving it their all and creating some fab costumes, (maybe not including my slightly below average Mary Poppins), and having a great time and was the start to many a great party to come. 

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5. Filming Summer Falls

Give a group of 18 year olds some free time and access to some camera equipment and what do you expect them to do? Make a short film of course. with my silver screen debut (maybe more slightly grubby tin screen would be a more apt analogy) we spent 3 days from day break to dusk filming 

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6. STaG Nights scratch night

Genuinely one of the funnies nights of my life with the Student Theatre at Glasgow scratch comedy night proving sometimes that we may just be students, but there is definitely a lot of talent within us. 

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7. Getting into Guildhall

 Obviously getting a phone call while standing on a windy and rainy mountain in the middle of deepest darkest Shropshire trying not to be blown over was not quite how I imagined the moment I found out that I had got into drama school. Drama school was aways somewhere that I had dreamed of going to. It may have previously been for acting but now for my new life backstage in  costume I was over the moon to finally be moving down to London to one of the world’s leading schools. 

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8. Wicked lady rehearsal and Lightsdown

 This is one going a bit further back but devising and rehearsing this show basically turned into having a huge laugh and a giggle with obviously working hard to get the job done at the same time, obviously ;). I had a fab few years at Lightsdown Theatre School from being a student to a teaching assistant leading to far to many good memories and shows to mention with it being the highlight of my week for a long time. I will always hold some of the shows we did here as some of my favourites I’ve done and it was so great to be part of a group of people having the same passion for performing and theatre that I did. 

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9. The film “Pride”

 With the story line being such heartfelt one of a true story I will probably won’t be the only person out there who has any emotional attachment to this film. However, this is definitely one of my favourite films I have ever seen added to the first occasion of seeing it being with a very special person. 

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10. A level results day

Proving that all the hard work, late night, blood, sweat and tears had all payed off (even if I haven’t used any of that knowledge since!) 

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11. Me Before You premier

I think getting to sit next to Sam Claflin on the premier night of Me Before You, a film which I loved from the book and had waited so long to see was a stroke of luck leading to an evening that I will never forget. 

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12. All the other fab shows I have been a part of

 From Billy Elliot to 42nd to Macbeth and all the others in-between, all of these shows have lead me to some great times with some wonderful people and have shaped me and inspired me to pursue what started as a passion into a career. 

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13. Seeing Death of a Salesman at The RSC

As a theatre lover it is probably considered some sort of a crime to have only ever seen 1 show by the Royal Shakespeare Company but seeing Death of a Salesman in Stratford upon Avon in 2015 was a wonderful first show to see and the first of many to come. 

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14. My first textiles collection

I never imagined being someone who has their own textile design collection but at the end of my foundation year I had just that. Now it may not be on your Debenhams bed lined quite yet but now having my range of makeup bags with new designs sat waiting to be sewn together after my small break due to pure busy-ness, I’m determined to keep going with it. 

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15. Starting off Fabric Forward

Something starting as a new hobby just over a year ago has turned into something that has grown to be a big part of my current life.  It may not be getting 1000’s of views a day with sponsorship deals coming in every direction but I still love styling and putting together posts each week for the little community on here.  It may also have had a couple of face lifts and content direction changes, but it is still the good old miss spelt, badly punctuated and poorly scheduled Fabric Forward at heart! 

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16. So many shoots!

Kind of the thing which started off Fabric Forward in the first place. From those first few shoots me and Tom did in our home town we have trawled the country in search for cool photo locations and have come up with some pretty cool shots (if I do say so myself). I look forward to many to come!

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17. Barbican Ball  

Its not everyday that you find yourself in a room with the walls entirely covered in pink fur and Ru Paul booming over the speakers. However some how I did. As part of uni we were tasked to dress some mannequins to be shown at the Barbican Ball this year running along the theme of Vulgar which is their being exhibition going on at the moment. If you follow me on Instagram you my have seen a couple of pictures from the event on there. I’d never done anything like this before and was a really cool experience to be part of (along with having a new appreciation for people who dress mannequins, and I thought actors were difficult sometimes ;). ) 

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18. NYT Gala

This summer I became a member for costume of The National Youth Theatre and with it being their diamond year at the end of my course I got to work on their Diamond Anniversary Gala at the Shaftesbury Theatre in hair and makeup. This was my first occasion working and going backstage of a west end theatre so it was all very exciting for me. Despited being full of the worst cold I have had in years I powered on doing more victory rolls and beehives than I have ever done in my life. It was a long and tiring day but it was all worth it seeing such a great show come together (Plus and having Matt Smith acknowledge my existence in the corridor twice was the icing on the cake!)

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19. Working at The Libertine

 This year I  lucky enough to get the chance to do some work at The Libertine at The Theatre Royal Haymarket on The Libertine doing wardrobe maintenance on a Saturday morning. It may have only been washing and ironing shirts, but its washing and ironing Dominic Coopers shirts.

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20. Moving to London

I know this is something that came with moving to a university down here but moving to London is something at I have always wanted to do. I know many a young adult has said this same thing before me but but to live in such a busy and vibrant city with so much going on and the industry I work in centred down here is something I have always wanted. Sometimes feels a bit surreal that I am actually now here maybe partly not being quite as good as you thought it would be (the northern line at 5 o clock on a Friday would put anyone off!) Obviously is it not all plain sailing, realising you need to leave at least an hour to get anywhere and you wont find a cheap supermarket for miles but its the place for now that I call home and I promise to make the most of it.

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21. So turning 21

 It may not have been and intoxicating time partying the night away however spent with my nearest and dearest it was a time to say goodbye to the ups and downs of 20 and onto the next chapter of 21. 

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PHOTOS | TOM FLATHERS 

Chloe Cooks | Spaghetti Carbonara

Chloe Cooks | Spaghetti Carbonara

Yes today we are back with another cooking post and this being the first one which isnt muffin related, yay! So I thought I would start off with something easy being a spaghetti carbonara.

After going out for dinner in London last week at Vapiano’s  in oxford circus (check them out, they are soo good), after eating the best carbonara I think i’ve ever had I was inspired to try and cook my own. Now I can’t this quite holds up to theirs (what their chefs can do just makes my mind boggle) but if you are a lover of pasta and Italian food in general this is a great easy, cheap and tasty alternative.

Now I know with it creeping into the summer months many of us are ditching the hearty carb heavy dishes in favour of salads and lighter dishes however I think theirs room for a good pasta somewhere (how their isn’t a spec of Italian blood in my I don’t know.)

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Ingredients: (for 4 people)

  • 400g spaghetti
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200g smoked Pancetta 
  •  cubes or streaky bacon, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 eggs
  • 75ml double cream
  • 50g Grana padano or Parmesan, finely grated, plus extra to serve

 

Method 

  1. Cook the spaghetti. Bring a large, deep pan of salted water to the boil. Plunge spaghetti into the water, stir well and cook, following pack instructions.
  2. Fry the pancetta. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan. When hot, tip in the pancetta or streaky bacon. Fry over a medium heat until the fat in the meat has melted down into the pan and the meat has turned lightly golden. Be careful not to crisp the pancetta too much; it will be cooked a little bit more later on in the recipe. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Prepare the sauce. Crack 2 of the eggs into a mixing bowl. Separate the yolk from the third egg: gently crack the side of the shell and, using both hands, slowly open it into two halves over a separate bowl – you want to keep the yolk in one of the halves. Tip the yolk from one shell half to the other and repeat until all the egg white has fallen into the bowl below, taking care not to crack the yolk on any rough shell edges. Tip the yolk in with the other eggs and beat together, along with the cream, the cheese and some seasoning.
  4. Combine the dish. Add garlic to the pancetta and return frying pan to hob. Fry over high heat for 1 min or until garlic is cooked and pancetta warmed through. Meanwhile, drain spaghetti. Tip back into the hot saucepan off the heat. Pour egg mixture over pasta, followed by hot pancetta, garlic, any fat and oils. Toss quickly and thoroughly with spaghetti spoon or tongs. Mix until it has thickened to a smooth, creamy sauce. Serve with extra cheese and freshly ground pepper.

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My 5 top posts of 2015

My 5 top posts of 2015

Happy New Year everyone! I hope your not feeling to delicate this morning from partying the last year away with a bang. My evening in with the laptop and a mug of hot chocolate was certainly a wild one ;) With staying in this new year I decided to put my spare time to good use and do a little extra bonus post for the new year looking back at my top 5 blog posts of the year. Enjoy! 

If you want to read them in full Just click on the header image to take you straight to each post.

Over the past year on our wonderings me and Tom have managed to get some lovely little collections of style blog photos. It was a tough choice with so many to choose from but I think I’ve managed to narrow it down to my 2 favourites.

My favorite location would have to be shooting at the Grand Central shopping centre in Birmingham. Still in its nice brand new shiny state we got some great little shots here from the lovely walk ways to the escalators at the back!

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Outfit wise this one would probably be my favourite all due to the orange coat. With my annual task of finding a winter coat when finding this orange one this year I knew it would be the perfect statement item addition to my wardrobe for my winter wardrobe. With the autumnal leaves all out in full force it was a lovely orangey yellow backdrop was perfect for this look. 

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This year at Fabric Forward we went headlong into christmas with a collection of specially festive features. My favourite has to the one focusing on my own brand of Chloe Natalie Knott hand made makeup bags, pretty much for my cute christmassy christmas tree background alone! (and couldn’t resist a slight plug of my own products :P) 

Full products available here on my Etsy shop

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I think this post had to be dedicated to all my friends who will remember the days of me setting their tea towels on fire (I don’t like cooking on gas!) I think this post had to be dedicated to all my friends who will remember the days of me setting their tea towels on fire (I don’t like cooking on gas!) With moving away to university this year, in order to fend for myself cooking an obvious everyday necessity. With finding that I can actually create edible and surprisingly tasty food I wanted to branch out from various versions of the same pasta dish to baking. (And with the boredom of student life it wasn’t a bad way to pass the time.)  On my first attempt these raspberry and white chocolate muffins were what I created and I was chuffed on their lovely taste and couldn’t resist sharing the recipe on the the blog. 

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Helping to expose new and up and coming brands has always been a focus for the blog with so many brilliant new brands out there. My favourite brand focus of this year would have to be the joint one I did for Mulk and Ding Ding. These were 2 brands which when I found I instantly brought and fell in love with Mulk’s bright and simple geometric patterns and Ding Dings beautiful hand screen printed designs.

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It’s been a great 6 months here on the blog and I can’t believe it has been that long, it go so fast! Stay tuned into the new year I have lots of new and exciting things planned and I can’t wait to get cracking!

C x

If you haven’t already had enough of me from this post please feel free to comment and like and I would love it if you could follow me at the normal places..

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Chloe Cook’s – Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

Chloe Cook’s – Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins

So I may have drifted into the realms of baking. Since moving away to university cooking has turned into something which I have actually really enjoyed doing. I find it a nice way to relax int the evening after a long day of uni and rehearsals and managing to make something better than shop brought ready meals I find a rather rewarding experience. (Just wish I could do without the washing up thats all) 

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Now the other day I got the sudden urge to make some muffins (as you do) and I wanted to try and do something a bit different to the usual chocolate chip so decided to mix it up with raspberry and white chocolate chip. I’d tired this flavour shop brought before and always liked them so wanted to to try my hand hand at my own. When I set my mind to something, I will get it done!  

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Now I’m not going to be someone spending ages decorating cakes with icing and what now  but with a couple of raspberries and pieces of chocolate surrounding them they look quite sweet.  

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Ingredients  (to make 24) 

3 mugs of self raising flour 

1 mug of brown or white sugar 

2 eggs 

1 1/2 mugs of milk 

3/4 mug of vegetable oil 

400g tin of raspberries 

100g of white chocolate (either chocolate chips or broken up bar chocolate.) 

paper cases and muffin tin 

Recipe 

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees fan oven/200 degrees/ Gas mark 6 
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together, then add the ‘wet ones’. 
  3. Drain the raspberries 
  4. Spoon all the mixture into individual muffin cases and bake them in the oven for 20/25 minuets depending on the size of you muffins.  

Simple! 

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Im not going to lie, with still being a novice at this and with using my slightly unpredictable oven I wasn’t expecting these to go that well. However, they came out surprisingly well and were very yummy. 

Instead of making the full 24 which this recipe makes I halved it to make 12 which thinking recipes never quite make what they intend to so surprisingly I actually did manage to come out with 12. Despite obviously halving the main ingredients I decided to use the full tin of raspberries still with half not seeming like much and I wanted to make them really flavoursome. Half of the white chocolate was perfectly fine though with not wanting to make them over sickly.       

As you see I made these with raspberries and chocolate but obviously you could change the fillings around depending on what’s to your fancy.  

Extra top tips for these: 

  • Make sure the raspberries are drained really well so the mixture isn’t made too wet.  
  • Fill the cases quite full of the cake mixture, they do rise but not quite as much as i thought so you don’t have to leave too much of the case for rising room.

 

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Photos taken on a Canon 1200D 

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