Monday, December 31, 2012

The Journey

I don't set New Year Resolutions, so I have no report for you on whether I have triumphed or failed on those, but 2012 has been such a year of change, that as much as I'll be reflecting upon that with my glass of fizz tonight, it seems only right and proper to be sharing some of the big bits from 2012.

The start if the year was a slow one. Although January marked a turning point in my attitudes to my higher education- mostly that it didn't have to be lonely or difficult. You can read more about my experience HERE.

Oh- I also had a bit of a rant... HERE

In the spring I made a move away from being blonde. Not for the first time, but it felt good to have a more definite colour for my hair, which long as it is, tends to be something people notice.



As Spring moved on, my focus turned to completing my GDL. My legal qualification has been tremendously important in 2012, it gave me the focus I needed and the feeling that I had found an area, aside the ability to speak more than one language, that could lead me to a 'proper' job. And as I turned 23, the Queen celebrated 60 years on the throne, and T sat his undergrad exams, I focused and my 7 CPE's, and making it all count. 

But the Jubilee weekend, and my birthday, both of which were spent in London were tinged with sadness as much as with celebrations. 

As many of you will know, my partner, although a student, is involved with the Army, and is ex-RAF. We have also been doing a long distance relationship ever since we were first together almost two and a half years ago. I wholeheartedly encourage and support T, in all of his pursuits- in particular his endeavours to become a full time member of the Armed Forces, and earning his degree. But all of these great escapades come with a sting in the tale. As I departed for the North, to return to my exams, T headed for BZZ, to fly out to Canada, to be gone for 3 months. The experience of being not just separated, but not knowing if I could even contact T for a longer period hit home and hit hard. I received a truly amazing response when I wrote THIS POST and THIS ONE 

I was fortunate enough to have a fairly substantial distraction that came in the form of travel though. In July I travelled to Lagos, Nigeria to lecture at UniLag and generally take in Nigeria's biggest and brightest Law School. I had a truly fabulous week, and wrote about my visit HERE.

And as July headed steadily for August, madness ensued as my parents and I moved out of the house we'd lived in since 1997, but didn't have a new one to move into, and still had a business to run. Change is as goof as the rest though, and the relationship I have with my parents in working and living with them took a further deepening as we went from a 4 bedroom town house to a 2 bedroom ground floor flat. 

Having completed my GDL and doing the rounds of job applications and interviews, the news that one of my relatives and his partner were engaged added some much needed excitement to August, which was somewhat enhanced by T's surprise early return in time to attend the party. 

After a busy summer, not a little happiness at having 2 back a few weeks early, and a healthy 2012 thus far, I had a health scare in the late summer. I was once more taken aback by the support and friendship I received after sharing my experiences HERE and HERE

The autumn brought with it it's own challenges, as I struggled to find the right job. I am extremely lucky to have highly supportive parents, meaning I had the ability to wait for the right job, rather than just a job. Frustration peaked as the temperature dipped. It wasn't all doom and gloom though- Chloe Like To Talk took on a more thrifty focus with fashion, THIS POST on purchasing and THIS ONE on attitudes were particularly well received. 

And finally, winter. And what a winter it has been. 

In November I put this face on:

Better known as my pleasegivemeajobI'msuperprofessionalcompetentandorganised face. 

And it worked. In November I was offered and accepted what started as an interesting job ad and turned out to be a dream job. It also meant a move to London, and in with T. A far cry from the 600 mile round trips to visit one another of the start of the year.

And in the midst of settling into it all, T and I also had a few days of respite. In Amsterdam. As many will know, I'm a big lover of dance music, and this year has also been a year of great events- Norman Doray, Michael Woods, Thomas Gold (a particular highlight for me), Calvin Harris, AN21, Vangelli and in Amsterdam THE highlight of the year entertainment wise- Swedish House Mafia. 

Amsterdam skies. 

And then it was the mad rush for Christmas, and back to London and back to work, and now we're seeing in 2013. 

As I say, it's been really a rather busy year. Despite lulls in the early part of the year and in the autumn, I'm comfortable that in 2012 I've achieved everything I wanted to achieve, and I'm excited to see in a further 12 months. My blog has been a fabulous way of documenting life as it progresses, and I look forward to seeing how CLTT can develop in the coming months. 

And with that I'll leave you with my wish that you all have a lovely New Year, and all the very very best for 2013. 


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Tis The Season

Just this afternoon, I started to scan through the 300+ unread posts on my Bloglovin' feed, and unsurprisingly there are still a number of gift guides (from pre-Christmas), wishlists (pre and post Christmas) and round ups of presents received. 

I've never made a secret of my feelings toward Christmas- it's not really my thing, and I prefer to let it wash over. I've done gift wish lists before now- mostly at the request of my partner to help him along the way, and I've posted before about a particular gift I've received and loved (my Kindle remains a favourite gift ever received). 

This time last week, I was staring round at a room resembling a demented Christmas explosion of paper, ribbons, gifts and glitter. I spent Christmas this year drugged up to my eyeballs in an attempt to maintain a cheerful and energetic demeanour- thanks by and large to a chest infection that's still causing problems. T and I both headed back North into the home counties to visit family, and therefore had to leave after work and other commitments were satisfied on Sunday night. None of these factors were particularly conducive to a feeling of festive cheer, I'll be honest, and another factor in our gift giving and organising this year, as it is for many, was cold hard cash. 

For both of us, keeping Christmas costs to a more modest scale was important. Whilst moving in together has been more limited in expenditure required than it is for most people, it hasn't been without it's costs. Another first for me this year was my attendance to a church service. We spent Christmas with T's family who are religious, and attending a service on Christmas morning is an important part of their Christmas. 

And what on earth do all these things have to do with my readership here? Well, it's been a little learning curve. Firstly, doing Christmas with a lesser cost never needs to be dull or sparse, and some of the gifts we gave this year were some of the best received I've ever had the pleasure of handing over. 

The second, and no, this is not a conversion- I remain non-religious, is a bit of meaning to the holiday. I have always maintained an open mind on religion. I find it interesting, and many of the rituals fascinating, and crucially I have the utmost respect for those who hold a true religious meaning to Christmas time- or any other festival. The local minister at the church I attended on Tuesday morning gave a witty, amusing, insightful sermon. It preached the values of love and of peace at all times but especially at Christmas, and reminded us that we should not wrap our values in layers of wrapping disguising their true meaning. I personally felt that it was a sermon that touched me as a person, as much as it touched all Christians in attendance. 

So this week there will be no round up of presents received- as there was no 'wish list' before (although you can see my wishes in a broader sense HERE). I'm not doing much by way of sale shopping- mostly because there seems to be several dozen other things consistently requiring my attention. And most of all, I wanted to wish everybody a Happy Christmas if it is still ongoing, and a Happy New Year 2013. To success, health and happiness. 


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chloe Likes Sensible Shopping- Looking After What You Have

As a child, it was firmly drilled into me, particularly at this time of year when people wanted to know what I was after from 'Father Christmas', that if I wanted nice things, then I had to show I deserved them by looking after what I did have. Unfortunately, I was a chronically messy child, which didn't help things....

As an adult, I aspire to own nice things- I'm desperately saving for an iPad, I've been fortunate to win over £100 worth of handbag in the last 6 months, and as you might have read in the last edition of Sensible Shopping, I splashed out on some riding style boots costing over £250 several years ago, that I still wear religiously all winter. I work hard for the money I have, I try to spend it wisely, but all that can be wasted if you don't look after those things that you've spent your cash on.

A Thrifty Mrs wrote this fab post on insurance, which, despite the slight wince it causes me, and the thoughts of 'license to print money' that cross my mind, is in my opinion, a necessity. But what about simple things like your clothes?

I bought my winter coat from H&M 2 years ago. It cost me around £40, and I still love the shape, style and weight of it as much as the day I bought it, but this year, I realised it was starting to look a little tired. A button went walk about, and some of the others were looking a bit scratched and battered, and having had a stint in storage- and I don't just mean under the bed, when we moved house in the summer.

At one point, I was tempted to look for a new coat, and as sales and reductions hit I may add a new coat to my collection, but by looking after my trusty favourite, despite it being inexpensive, it's back to being my old friend.

1. Buttons. These are genuine vintage WWII ARP buttons. I bought them from a charity shop when I went in to donate something, as they were right next to the counter. There were 9 in the bag, including the 2 smaller ones used on the epaulettes, and the cost me £1. They've really lifted the coat as these are silver as opposed to the dull gold of the previous ones, and have lifted the shabbiness that the scratched, loose ones were giving to my coat. A quick, easy and inexpensive fix.

2. Sticky tape. I have more rolls of brown tape on the go than any girl ever should, but it turns out that it's pretty handy for more than just parcels, removals and storage. Lint rolls are all well and good, but when you're wool coat has plaster and brick dust, hair AND lint clinging to it, it's time to bring out the big guns. Parcel tape is cheap, it's sticky, and by dabbing at the coat, I removed all the nasties in about 5 minutes. Back to black!

3. Lastly, if you wear your coat on public transport a lot (check) or it has been stored somewhere (check) or maybe it's just been hanging somewhere near food smells/cooking (sometimes check), then fabric coats can hold odours. I try and give my coat a weekly spritz with a fabric spray like Frebreeze or similar to keep it fresh.

Shoes are the other thing I've chosen to invest in. My feet have been most thankful, but if you don't look after even good quality shoes, they won't last.

Aforementioned boots, Steve Madden

1. Keep a good quality suede protector in your cupboard, keep it well replenished, and spray new suede shoes before you wear them, and once a month thereafter. I love suede, I do, but there's not much worse than ruining them because you didn't see the puddle ahead of you...

2. Polish often. I have clear and black polish and a very standard set of 2 shoe brushes. I try and polish my boots once every 2 weeks, and any shoes I've been wearing particularly regularly too. Polishing protects the leather, helps to water proof, and generally helps keep your shoes looking smart and as good as new. It's also a great excuse to listen to a podcast you've been meaning to get to or catch up on last week's X Factor.

3. Store your shoes to prevent damage. Whether it's on a rack, in clear boxes (which you can buy cheaply from eBay or Amazon) or in original boxes, keeping them separate and stacked rather than thrown into a cupboard or wardrobe has several benefits- it prevents damage from heels or embellishments or water, it makes it much easier to find both shoes of the pair you're looking for on the morning you wake up late for work, and means you are more likely to see and remember what you have when planning an outfit or shopping.

4. My last tip is to find a cobbler you trust. markets are great places to find a cobbler, and always ask your grandparents if they live in close proximity. Having a pair of shoes resoled can be the difference between replacing them or not, and helps prevent any damage to the stitching or body of the shoe. If you wear boots or heels a lot, be aware that there are often metal pins which are covered by the nylon heel caps or plastic/rubber soles, which when exposed can be slippery. I learned this the hard way when I landed on my dodgy hip after slipping on a marble floor in Germany. My winter boots cost £25 to have the part of the heel rebuilt from wear, and a man sized rubber sole put on them, that's a tenth of their cost which has given me 2 further years out of the boots, so far.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Alternative Christmas Wish List

It's Sunday. T has just left for work, both us realising we have a mere 7 days before we head back to Cambs for a few days to visit both our families for Christmas, and our to do list spans three pages in an Excel workbook. Oh... to add to the madness, I also have a chest infection off the back of our Amsterdam trip. Yummy yummy antibiotics....

Chest infection or not, it was worth it....

As I'm sat here catching up on some blog reading, instead of wrapping Christmas gifts, doing the ironing and cleaning candle wax off the blinds (don't ask...), I'm noticing lots of Christmas wish lists. They're filled with many beautiful things, and I truly hope that Christmas is a day filled with happiness and love as much as the beautiful objects of your affections. But as someone who has never really 'felt' Christmas, (remember this post on how to handle the festive period if it isn't your favourite...) I've also noticed that as an adult, my wishes over Christmas centre less about things, and more about people, abstract concepts like love and peace, and the things in life which make every day all the more lovely, like friendship. Particularly as the kinds of things I aspire to own as an adult are far more costly than I'd ever be comfortable asking someone else to buy for me, like iPads and horribly expensive handbags.

I'm aware that all those things actually sound like a bit of a Christmas cliché and may also sound a bit on the sentimental side for me, but frankly, I don't care. This is my alternative Christmas wishlist.

1. People I'd love to meet;
Blogging has given me the opportunities to build friendships that most people make through work or studies, and as well as bloggers who have been fabulous friends, there are some bloggers who I don't 'know' all that well, but would love to meet to pick their brains on everything from technology to tempranillo...

Rachel from 52 Creations
I recently discovered Rachel's blog, and she's really rekindled my love for all things dress making. I look forward to her projects every week, and I'd love to meet this talented and exceptional girl.

Cat and I got chatting a long time ago, and now rarely a week goes by when we don't exchange a few texts. Cat was a huge support to me when I had this health scare earlier in the year, and she makes me quite literally laugh out loud at least once per week. I get the impression that together we'd probably be a force to be reckoned with, so world watch out in 2013...

Rosie from A Rosie Outlook
Rosie is another person I've chatted with a fair bit via Twitter in the last 12 months. She's an intelligent and insightful woman, who is so giving with her friendship, her wisdom, and in sharing her journey through life. She also inspires essay length comments from me, which makes me think I'd have a job tearing myself away or shutting up if we got together!

Maria from Fills n Spills
Another long time love, Maria has more class than I can ever hope for, but has a great sense of fun, and I'd kill to spend an afternoon in the kitchen with this girl. She's smart, she's witty, she has amazing shoe taste, and her food posts are guaranteed to make you hungry. I really hope 2013 is a year I can put a voice to the face and the name.

2. Living The Dream

We all have moments that we have captured in our memories, on film or in words that last, that we revisit and those are moments we wish not to replicate, but to continue to receive in their various guises. Here a few that I'm wishing for this Christmas and into 2013

Celebrating achievements in 2012

Seeing my name in print- writing is not something I'll ever be making a career of, no would I want to, but seeing my name in magazine print is not new, I used to write for local press when I was in Sizth Form, and it's something I'm lucky enough to be involved in once more. Michelle's project, Aesthetic Magazine. Michelle is a super talented young lady, and I'm really very flattered that some of my work will be appearing in issue 3, which is on sale now, and my pre-ordered copy, I'm hoping will be landing any day before Christmas. A wish come true, and I hope I can keep up writing little pieces for print, as I love having something totally outside my job as a hobby that gives me something tangible.

As some of you might have seen on Twitter this week, when I landed back from Amsterdam, I found that my 90yo great-grandmother had been broken into and worse still, they had pushed her around as well. Luckily she had nothing more than bruises, and she's a bit shaken, but I am still struggling to get my head around exactly how you bring yourself to use a crow bar on an elderly lady's bedroom window, dragging her out of bed, and pushing her around whilst ransacking her home. So I'd like to see a bit of justice this Christmas. I'd like for the police to have a bit of luck or a fluke in finding the vile specimens of the human race that are responsible for this.

Time is precious. I think we all know that. I still have my 90yo great-grandmother, but my grandfather was just 47 years old when he passed away. T still has both of his paternal grandparents, but sadly, his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's earlier in the year. If I could package time into a box and wrap it for T and his grandparents, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, precious though it is, time is not a commodity, and we can't give it, only make the best of that which we have.

And my final item on my Christmas wish list. To share the good fortune I had in 2012. It's been a whirlwind year- I completed my GDL and secured a job I love, I've found the path to follow. I feel that I've learned a lot and whilst I'm happy to accept I have plenty more to learn, and it's foolish to view anything through rose-tinted glass, I also think it's foolish not to smile and be thankful when things are good. And all said and done, things are good. So I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year 2013


Thursday, December 13, 2012

B*tch, I'm Up on the Guest List with Swedish House Mafia

Those who know me from Twitter or have picked up on my posts about weekends or nights out will know that I quite like dance music, and I have a penchant for world class DJ sets. Over the last 2 years I've been lucky enough to snag guest list at Ministry of Sound for Basement Jaxx, Calvin Harris, Norman Doray, AN21 & Max Vangeli, Wayne & Woods and Michael Woods, I've also seen Faithless on an arena tour and Example at Brixton Academy. These are all things that make me very happy, and I would one hundred times rather have one amazing night out every few months than go to a random club or just out on the lash every week- not least because I tend not to drink very little by way of alcohol at events or out.

AN21 & Max Vangeli at Ministry of Sound, Size Matters (having just as good a time as we were)

When a friend asked if I fancied the One Last Tour with Swedish House Mafia, it was a no brainer. You might know SHM from chart records like Miami to Ibiza or most recently Don't You Worry Child, but I don't think those catchy-pop tracks are quite a fair representative of what they do. SHM comprises three DJ's, all of whom are successful in their own right- Steve Angello even has his on record label, and their tracks and productions can be found on DJ sets all over the world. And better still... they know how to put on a show!

The only catch... They're not playing any UK gigs on this tour. Oh, European jaunt required. Shame.

And so, as this goes live, I shall no doubt be recovering from jumping up and down for several hours, preferable with a MASSIVE cup of coffee and a pastry. In Amsterdam.

Having flown through Schipol a couple of times, I've been super excited tto see Amsterdam itself, and everyone I've spoken to thus far has been full of praise for an interesting and culturally vibrant city, that is tourist friendly (I can only read a little Dutch, and my spoken Dutch is limited to please and thank you...), has excellent public transport and is inherently clean. I'm also hoping to feed my Miffy obsession whilst away, and to have picked up some Christmas gifts that nobody else will have had access to!

I hope everyone is having a lovely mid-week, and I look forward to sharing this trip properly when I get home. I'm interested to know in the mean time, are their any other dance music/DJ/SHM fans following?

Dance music and the scene surrounding it can, it seems have a huge stigma attached to it, particular after the 90's and their drug fuelled raves. Often people look at me a bit funny when I'm wearing my dress, jacket and heels for work, and I express my love bass and lasers and ringing ears the next day. Heads up- not everyone into the scene is drug addicted/all day drunk/drop out/under 20, and there's nothing quite like the high of of a track cresting the bass and 2000 other people feeling it with you.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Recently I'm Wearing

What a whirlwind couple of weeks- the absence of outfits tells enough of the story in itself, but here are some of my favourites from the last month couple of weeks, as well as some telling ones!

A cold and wet day in Cumbria called for a fluffy jumper & boots. 

Injecting some interest into my day
H&M polka dot dress, Clarks flats & Marc B bag.

Christening my Marc B bag on it's first outing, mmmmm SOGGY!

Mid week glitter. Nails Inc Sloane Square is possibly my favourite ever nail polish. This is just one coat over a plain black base. Instant glitter glamour, perfect for a chilly queue at the British Library.

Leggings & Hoodie, paint specks model's own! 

T & I repainted our room in our flat share. Yes, I know we shouldn't need to, but we were both so sick of the dirty dingy walls, that we invested the time and discounted paint, and it was well worth finding paint inside my ears for 2 days, just to feel that our space, albeit a small one, is at least cleaner and brighter, and much easier to be positive about. It is no longer a shithole, merely a cheap flat in a cheap bit of London, and that was definitely worth a weekend's work. 

Trying something a bit different with my hair- pinning to one side, even with my scar, it changed the shape of  face enough to make me try it a second time

A work day special- Primark dress and belt, accessorised with a hefty cardigan, coat, 100d tights and mittens....

Cat ears ring c/o A Daisy Chain Dream & Temp:Sec ring feeling a bit of chunky goodness to break up the dresses for work.

A happy weekend face- Bare Minerals face, ELF lips, MUA & No7 eyes

A bit of serious bling- I also wore this the night before for our Christmas party, it's a real attention grabber for a party or to dress up jeans and jersey. 

Hit me with your daily wearing folks- I love to have a nosey via instagram- you can find regular updates on life, food, WIWT and my mug check out the right hand side bar, or follow me as chloelikes2talk. 


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winning with Marc B

Recently I was lucky enough to win a caption competition with Marc B. The e-mail from the lovely Sophie couldn't have come at a better time, as my currently go to handbag is desperately in need of a trip to be mended, and the prize was a a handbag or accessory of my choice from the website.

Typically, it arrived the day I left to go back North, after I'd gone, and the new 'get up in the dark, come home in the dark' routine has taken some adjusting to. That said, It was worth the wait to take photos on a day like this...

East London, The City & London City Airport.

So here it is... meet Quinn.

(Another 'healthy' day fuelled by coffee and diet Pepsi....)

It's a lovely bag, and I'm glad I took some time when picking, to check dimensions, as I got it spot on with size. As my new job involves some on-site research, it's important to me, to have a big enough bag for files, paper, notebooks etc, as well as the usual detritus that ends up in my handbag. In a bid to save money and also to maintain a healthy diet, I also take my lunch to work with me, so it's helpful not to need a second bag to fit everything in. 

I'll be honest and say that I've had a Marc B bag before, and I was unimpressed. It was purchased several years ago in a Topshop sale, and the hand promptly fell apart, but this beauty has dispelled any worries of quality. It's much sturdier than the last, the hardwear (is actually gold, it's just the sun making it appear rose gold in tone) is beautiful, and has that heaviness that I'd expect from something much pricier. The lining is not only leopard print, and therefore by definition easy on the eye, but heavy weight, which I love. Nothing worse than a beautiful handbag with a lining that tears or frays in an instant. 

All in all, a lovely prize, and thanks must go to Marc B, as it's super generous.