Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Not A Month In Pictures

December had a very quiet start on my blog and my Twitter feed was so full of tumbleweed that I think a couple of people wondered what had happened in Chloe Land...

Things got worse when some utter /d\zj/,sdjrfg;i***************** stole my phone from my rucksack and I had a total kerfuffle trying to get my replacement. In the end I was able to persuade the phone people into giving me an upgrade for my troubles, and when it did finally arrive with me, I can't say I was sorry to rejoin the world of Instagram and oversharing! 

I think Karma was showing her face though- the same day that my phone was nicked, I received an email from the lovely people at Shopcade to tell me I'd won a prize- a £200 giftcard for House of Fraser. Much needed respite from the rage caused by much mentioned phone theft. 

Luckily for me, the rest of December has really been rather good. I decorated mine and T's bedroom for the festive period thanks to Marks and Spencer, then had a chat about sustainable decorating:

Chloe Likes To Talk Marks and Spencer Christmas Room

I got my sweat on in December, despite a wobbly start, I managed to break down some of my speed barriers on my bike and got to grips with some decent winter kit thanks to the Fashionably Fit campaign being run by Sportsshoes.com.

100% Be Pretty On Rest Days but Nike are killing it and my new base layer and leggings and cosy too are freakin amazing.

I also got to go back to a city I love, a place I lived and studied and somewhere I've always felt at home- Leipzig. My parent's gift to myself, T, my Grandmother and her partner was for the 6 of us to have a few days in Leipzig and we certainly made the most of visiting the Christmas Market, eating some fabulous food and soaking up Germany in the run up to Christmas. We all managed to snag a current year Glühwein mug, so upon our return, my Dad has been trying to recreate some of the different types of Glühwein we tried at the Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt

Fröhliche Weihnachten Leipziger Weihnachtsmark Leipzig Germany Christmas

I gifted myself a couple of new books in Germany. I do love some crime fiction and it's always nice to try a few different authors I would get at home...

Thomas Enger Vergiftet Roman German Novels Crime fiction

And then Christmas has come upon us. T & I spent the week visiting our various families and enjoying a bit of down time.

Chloe Likes To Talk Family Christmas
Family jokes - flat fenland - our dopey Fresian Spaniel - lazy Saturday mornings in a very comfy bed - Glühwein & cat slippers - Mum & I trying to keep track of our wine glasses - stunning Christmas cake made by T's dad, Dad & T engrossed in technology - Das Kaetzchen

And now it's almost New Year. I have my customary excitement for a fresh year and what can be achieved, topped off with a pleasant dose of reflection on the year passed. I have lots of things in my head for 2014, and I hope that it will be another year of getting things done. But on a more short term basis, it's all about the steak I have ready for tonight and the cheese I intend to scoff with all the lovely homemade pickles and chutney we were gifted by family this Christmas. Happy New Year 2014 and fond farewells for 2013. I will be spending New Year as I have done every year for the last few- with people I love, wishing everyone positive thoughts for the year and challenges ahead.

Happy New Year. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Kitten

As with many pictures, this one speaks a thousand words, and a thousand laughs and a thousand memories. And yes, there's a back story.

This print is a Christmas gift from the rather wonderful man in my life, to say it was a surprise would be an understatement. The Kitten is one of a menagerie of wonderful pen drawings by a German artist, Sergey Yukashev whose stall I found at the Leipziger Weihnachtsmarkt. I promptly got speaking to the lovely lovely lady who ran the stall who started filling me in on the important things.

All of the animals are created based on someone the artist knows, and she quickly pointed me to her own creature. But it was the cat and the kitten I loved. The cat for is slightly befuddled look, and the kitten for it's skewed eyes.

And this one, as above is not the print pictured handing on my wall. It's an original sketch. I can't tell you how much it means because I fell head over heels for Das Kaetzchen and because these pieces of artwork will always take me back to my second and mine and T's experience of somewhere I have always felt at home. 

On a side note, there's been a lot of slating I've noticed about people who are sharing Christmas gifts, which goes far further than attitudes towards gifts and Christmas and into blogging. Honestly, I don't give a damn. I will not be shamed for showing off the most lovely gift T has ever given me, not for it's cost, but for it's thought and it's value. 

I hope everyone has had a lovely Christmas, and may peace be upon you. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Marks and Sparkle

Christmas is a funny thing, and I feel like I've come *almost* full circle over the years. From full scale hating, to live and let live, to this year, trying to find my own way with the festivity. It started with an email, a mug and a Christmas tree.

I have never been a full of the joys putting my tree up on December 1st, and I'm not there yet either. Quite aside the big bushy green living spruces not being to my taste, I discovered this year that I'm allergic to the damn things. December has passed me in a haze of anti-histamines and cursing.

But, a recent trip to my second home, Leipzig (FYI) yielded some inspiration. The mug is the current year's Weihnachtsmarkt offering, gotta love the red and stone and the beautiful silver tree (it spins with the heat given out from a tealight) is a gift from my family who also joined the trip since I played tour guide and translator extraordinaire.

And the email. Well the email popped in just as my allergies were realised on my return from Leipzig. Sent by the rather wonderful people from Marks and Spencer who wanted to let me decorate a room in our home using a super generous gift card. My pretty new mug gave me a theme idea- red and white, and it set me thinking about the kind of decoration that is important to T & I in our home.

One of the biggest factors on most decisions T & I make currently is cost and value. We don't have a huge amount of disposable cash, and so if we spend on something, it needs to be good value. In recent months, I find myself focussing on sustainability in a number of senses- making a conscious effort to reduce waste and excess not just financially, but environmentally and economically- making choices that fit with the reduce, re-use and recycle ethos and my focus here was no different.

The Christmas shop on the M&S website is full of wonderful things, sparkly, rustic, scented and sweet, but away from the tradition tree decoration and twinkling lights what really caught my fancy were the beautiful interiors and with my red theme and my wish to find a sustainable way to do Christmas decorations.

Seersucker striped cotton duvet cover & pillow cases, chenille throw, both c/o Marks and Spencer

Inclusion candle, Tartan towels, chenille throw, Mandarin, Clove & Cinnamon candle - all c/o Marks and Spencer

When I stood back and admired my new, clean, fresh sheets, the absolute softest piece of fabric I have ever had a hold of that is currently masquerading as a humble throw, fluffy new tartan towels and the array of candles throwing out warm ambient light on the shortest day of the year, well I have to admit a flicker of festive joy and pride did hit.

My take on festive decoration is not to everyone's tastes, I know. There is no tinsel, and I'm now counting the hours until I can take down the SJDV|ABDFLI|HVFPDIGHRW%$^%&%**WU******************** Christmas tree. But The red, the scent of cinnamon and cloves spreading through our flat, the anticipation that comes with new bedding (just me?!) that brings with it excitement and the warm, ambient light thrown out by candles says Christmas to me.

And to top it all off, a word on the values of sustainability in economic an environmental terms. Marks and Spencer very generously provided my with a £100 gift card to show off their beautiful products and all these products featured here were purchased with that gift card, and left me with enough left over to treat myself to some new PJs for Christmas Eve and the most stunningly beautiful smelling handwash I have ever come across. Whilst £100 sounds a lot, not a single one of the products here cannot be used again- I have threatened to start removing T's organs if he so much as considers harming my throw, and like it or not, we have to have sheets on the bed- just because the bottom sheet is red now, doesn't mean it will be all year. The candles purchased seem to have a brilliant burn time- they're still going strong, they smell divine and I burn them most evenings when I shut the door on my day. Nothing featured here will be going to landfill after the festive period, nothing here cannot be recycled in one way shape or form.

All these things are important to me- and whilst I know a Christmas tree or some tinsel might just cost less than the £100 gifted to me by Marks and Spencer, the makers of (in my humble opinion) the best Christmas advertising this year came up with goods by providing me with inspiration, and decorations to suit my priorities.

Voucher provided to me by Marks and Spencer, all views and reviews are my own and all contents, pictures and standpoints have been offered freely and without obligation by me. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Just Do It

December thus far, fitness wise has been a total fail. Halfway in and I've only done 6 rides- 3 days of cycling to work. The new strength and conditioning training that T & I embarked upon in November is mostly forgotten and all in all, it's a bit tragic and a lot pathetic.

There have been a number of reasons for my lacking levels of fitness in December, some in my control, and some out, but when SportsShoes.com (with whom I worked before- See HERE) contacted me about their fashionably fit campaign, I saw a way to get back on it. 

100% Be Pretty On Rest Days but Nike are killing it and my new base layer and leggings and cosy too are freakin amazing.

As they have rightly identified, it can be tough to motivate yourself when the weather is against you, getting on my bike when the wind is howling outside is..... challenging, and I can't tell you how much harder it is when you know you *still* haven't found the right kit to balance the cooler weather with managing your own body heat. The theory- some nice shiny new gym kit might just be the motivator you need to get your head in the right place to train. 

My usual philosophy on kit is a bit like this..... 
Does it fit? Is it fit for purpose? Does it keep me visible? Is it good value for money? What colour is it? 

In that order. I guess you could say I subscribe to 'Be Pretty On Rest Days'. But. Yes, there's a but here. What happens if your kit is fit for purpose. It does fit you. It is good value for money AND it looks freakin' awesome on?!

Well I have to say ladies, Nike are killing it right now. And there's nothing like having new kit that promises to deliver to get back on the bike- sitting there, staring at me, willing me to snuggle into the cosiest base layer EVER and pull on my supremely cool leggings. Oh yeah.

Base layer vest top, half zip Elements base layer, leggings - all Nike via SportsShoes.com

See that beautiful flecked purple long sleeve top of dreams? I no longer need to wear 2 layers under my high viz jacket because it's so warm, and so cosy, and it has a higher neck that meets my snood and stops the wind whistling down the back of my shirt. AND IT HAS THUMB HOLES! this is my favourite of my 3 new items, because for the current winter-but-mild weather we're on, it's perfection. But also, check the awesome print on these leggings. The more festive among you might call it snowflake-esque, I'll stick with geometry, but they're still pretty cool. They're a little more snug than anticipated, but that does help them stay up, so no complaints here. And my vest.... if all future fitness clothing could come with the option for this print, that would be great, thanks. Oh and did I mention it well and try holds the *girls* in there? It does. They're not going anywhere. OOoh OOoh there's also a huge choice and women's range available, lots of it also isn't pink, which I find to be a huge bonus.

A word about price point here as well. I was fortunate enough to be sent these items for review, a lucky lady I am, but so far, Sportshoes.com have the best prices on all the Nike kit I looked at when making my choices.  And one thing I have learned the hard way with my sports kit, is that if you intend to use it, and push your body, then it's time to start considering value for money, not just price. I have shied away from spending a little more for performance kit rather than just a pair of jersey leggings and an old t-shirt, for cost reasons. When I saw cycling tights and leggings at upwards of £40 I wondered how I could justify that. then I thought about the 50-55 minutes I spend on my bike. December aside, 3-4 days per week. I thought about how cold my thighs get in my very thing jersey leggings and how that doesn't happen in cycling tights. I remember needing to wear, and therefore launder several layers of t-shirt because one is too cold.

And does shiny, new, attractive kit make a difference? Does it motivate you in the winter? Is it a cheat on true sporting aspiration? Well, I got back on my bike this morning. I smashed my time. I enjoyed it. I'm back in the game. And that's all the answers I need.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Fancy A Broo?

Back in November, I received this rather nice box in my office, much to the excitement of my co-workers. My team, such as they are, are well used to packages arriving for me in the office, as all my online shopping comes here, and usually that means shoes. But in this case, and it's a rare case, I was willing to share the contents of the box.

FruitBroo box

Fruitbroo has been appearing all over the place just lately- I first discovered them this summer at the Foodies Festival, and it was an instant hit. A fruit based hot drink that isn't a tea, has no added sugar and comes in an insanely good variety of flavours. What's not to like?! 

For the cooler snap we've had, a hot drink that isn't caffeinated or with any added sugar is brilliant for me, as it's the perfect winter warmer when I start to cool off at about 1030 at my desk, and I've yet to find a flavour that doesn't work with a 1600 biscuit! 

FruitBroo assorted flavours

But I already knew I loved it, the real test has been letting my team loose at it for a month. I would say that given there's one helping of Honey and Lemon and two helpings of Elderflower and Lime left, they've been a success. 

".... great alternative to tea..." was a unanimous verdict, but one team member has already purchased a few flavours as a gift for a family member, another has installed a spare Honey and Lemon in his desk for emergencies (otherwise known as cold and flu season) and not one person in my office couldn't find a flavour to love. 

These are versatile little drinks too. In the summer, Peach, Pear and Honey flavour was just stunning piled high with ice, and on a day that I forgot to add cinnamon to my porridge, Apple, Ginger and Spice was the much needed lift from blandness. 

There are lots of drinks products on the market, but I think FruitBroo are the only thing I've come across that I've been so genuinely enthused by, and I was super pleased to see my team go for it too. If you like the look of FruitBroo, you can BUY ONLINE or purchase from Sainsbury's. 

**Product sent to me for review. All new, views and reviews are my own.**

Thursday, December 12, 2013


So I went a bit quiet there and officially failed the #BEDN challenge I embarked upon. I want to say I had lots of exciting things happening to report back on, but the honest truth is that the last week or so has been just a bit messy between work and other commitments. Being a grown is not really that much fun sometimes.

But onwards and fail or no fail, it's nice to take a look back on my #BEDN posts because some of them I really was very pleased with. Overall, I'm not sure I'd repeat a challenge to blog every day, in the end it negatively impacted my stats quite significantly and I felt like the novelty of reading and commenting wore off a little. In short I'm not sure it was right for Chloe Likes To Talk.

Some of my favourites though:

Legs 11

Wish if been able to get a full length shot on Monday, as I love this dress so much.

Table Drawing E16

We're now into December, and I have discovered that I am allergic to Christmas trees, or at least the I am allergic to spruce tree my flatmate insisted on decorating on December 1st, I will mostly be enjoying anti-histamines for the rest of December. Not ideal, especially for someone who wouldn't usually be dedicated to the Christmas Cause, and never this early. Of course it's now approaching mid-December and I've just realised I have all the wrapping to do and lots of Christmas cooking to do, and not very many weekend days left in which to do it. I'm not panicking, not yet but the to-do list is a long multiple page spreadsheet.

In other news, my blog has lots of exciting things to come- there may well be a heavy German theme to come, there's a certain Leipzig shaped adventure a coming, there might be a few sneaky glimpses of the kind of Christmas decoration I can do and just possibly a few Christmas foody goodies.

In the mean time, I'm here, I'm alive, thanks Alex & Bex for checking in and I hope you'll come back to my here space for some December goodies and some new tricks for a new year.