Friday, 31 December 2010

2010: A Review

In the spirit of really wrapping things up, here's a look back at my year, both personally and in terms of the blog. It was really interesting to put together, and drove home how much I actually packed into a year that seemed to disappear in the blink of an eye. I hope you enjoy this stroll down memory lane!

A Jam-Packed January

The start of the year exploded on a high with my attempt to help you Make Your Life Amazing. Tonnes of you took part and I had some truly amazing feedback. Despite a couple of requests, I won't be repeating the project, as I don't personally feel that I need it this year (I'm still reeling from all that I gained the first time around!). Though, if you feel you want to start 2011 with a BANG!, do revisit the posts and work through them yourself (I will be posting an easily-navigable list of all the articles first thing tomorrow for your convenience, 'cos I'm nice like that).

February? Fabruary

As the year really started steamrolling ahead, I introduced the first of my Learn to Love... Series and, again, recieved some wonderful feedback. I also enjoyed a delectable Valentine's weekend with my beau, but didn't let all that lovey-dovey stuff stop me from asserting my independence.

March & Magic-Making

The first sniff of Spring, and I asked you to Learn to Love... Budgeting as well as giving you 5 Ways to Catch Up on Work When You Fall Behind. On the personal side of things I had a smile-filled visit from my Italian BFF (this years hottest trend?), dyed my hair a bit too yellow, and continued on my vintage sartorial adventure.

All About April

In the spirit of the spring-clean, I got stuck into your wardrobes again with How to Do More with LessHow to Create a Core Wardrobe and How to Define Your Style, as well as getting you organised. Furthermore, I spent a lovely-lot of time flouncing around in London testing out the Philips Lumea with Cai, got a really great FREE haircut, and had an entirely edible Easter (I can't believe I didn't post these pictures of the, frankly, incredible cupcakes I concocted).

Marvellous May

The weeks of May were spent drinking chocolate cocktails, giving you hints on How to Host a Clothes Swapping Party, getting featured in CLEO Magazine Malaysia, and vintage shopping in Glastonbury. I also spent a beautiful bank holiday weekend in Cornwall with extended family.

June was Just Fine

Together we learned to love Eating Right and Keeping Fit, I gave you 5 To-Do Lists That Could Change Your Life, I took my own advice by compiling a core wardrobe, and visited a sunny Westonbirt Arboretum for my lovely boy's birthday.


As summer got a'swingin', I did a mini-tour of Europe, taking in Amsterdam (for which I wrote a guide: Part One and Part Two), Paris, Venice and Florence. In keeping with the month's travel theme I wrote Travelling with Friends: 7 Do's and Don'ts and made a big announcement. Oh, and I became officially vegetarian.

An Awfully-Good August

As summer drew to a close I discussed The Art of Making Big Decisions, visited family in Norwich, forgot Charade's second birthday (doh!), spent time with beautiful friends, and frantically prepared for my big move to Spain.

I was so into September

Once settled on the continent, I got dressed up for my first day of school, discussed the Good Points and Bad Points of my new venture, asked: is fast fashion still fun? and reached 1001 RSS subscribers on the blog!

October, Oh My

As the year came helter-skeltering towards it's end, I reminded you to Be Amazed, went to Barcelona for the first time, discussed Dealing with Unpredictability, made a Halloween visit back home, went on a zombie walk, and delivered what has turned out to be the last L2L of the year, Learn to Love... Your Personal Style.

Now that's what I call a November

With exams luring, I asserted that Success is a State of Mind: Talent is Tangible, showed you How to 'Get Over It', suggested 8 Tips for Autumn-Chic, and celebrated my twenty-second birthday in Marrakech (Partie Une, et Partie Deux).

December was Delightful

And here we are at the end of the year! Charade got a whole new look, I asked: would you buy it again? You set about Creating the CV of Who You Want to Be, and despite some emotional lows and health problems, I made it back home for Christmas in one piece! Jeepers, what a rip-roaring twelve months.

The Best Bits and What I've Learnt:

I loved all the travel, but it has given me a distinct sensation that I might want to slow down in the new year; changes of scenery are great, but I've realised how important feeling rooted is to me. I've also realised that,  though I achieved a heck of a lot this year, I often expect far too much of myself, and that leaves me feeling disappointed and my projects lacking in the 100% oomph they deserve. Though I've already started streamlining my life, I've got a long way to go. Finally, I now see how important it is to make decisions and run with them, letting life put it's two cents in and not fighting against the wave, and that's the rhythm I'd like to pursue into 2011.

Moving Forward:

I'm going to go for a quality over quantity ethos with the blog. I'm going to try and further amalgamate my personal and professional life in pursuit of holistic day-to-day harmony. I'm going to play with the concept of whether my lifestyle dictates my style or vice-versa. I'm going to read and review more books. I'm not going to make too many promises. I'm going to revel in giving myself the freedom to grow, not stiching myself up with swathes of goals too difficult to achieve en masse. I'm going to defy conclusions and stoke my spirit. Come on 2011!

I encourage you to complete your own annual review, just to see how you filled the year and get a perspective on how you can fill the new one. And, of course, I'd love your thoughts on my review!

Monday, 27 December 2010

Words to Live By #122

Image thanks to vincent

"There is a privacy about [winter] which no other season gives you... In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself."
Ruth Stout

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...


Just a few pictures of the little Christmas party I mentioned last week. We made gingerbread, mulled wine, and festive cappuccinos! Oh, and we wore santa hats.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Words to Live By #121

Image thanks to bluebird vintage

"The great gift of family life is to be intimately acquainted with people you might never even introduce yourself to, had life not done it for you."
Kendall Hailey

I can't wait to get home to see my family! I'm leaving Madrid this afternoon - expect photos of my adventures soon.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Saturday Salute 16.12.10

Image thanks to D. Sharon Pruitt

ONE WEEK TIL CHRISTMAS! Can you tell I'm excited? All my exams are over. I'm going home for family games of Monopoly by the fire, boy snuggles, good vegetarian home cookin', my much-missed feather duvet, and, vitally, doing absolutely NOTHING, and loving it. As you read this, I am also in Madrid, which is pretty exciting too. Here are the links I've sniffed out and scooped up for you this week:

Sarah Wilson spreads the joy of Oprah with Live Your Life on Purpose.

This week I had to do a presentation and, two nights before, I hit a wall. "I can't do this" I was thinking to myself, before plotting ways to get out of it. Then, in a few minutes of Facebook study relief, my good friend Robbie started a chat with me. I told him how much I was struggling, and he gave me the best pep-talk ever. He also sent me the link to this video. It was wonderfully cheesy but totally worked, and I got through the presentation no problem. What a legend.

Thirty Books Everyone Should Read Before They're Thirty. How many have you read? I got nine (and a half). (And P.S. I don't really know why you should read them before you're thirty... just read them.)

Have a splendiferous last weekend before Christmas. And stay cute.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Monday, 13 December 2010

Words to Live By #120

Image thanks to jenny downing

“Life is 10% what happens to you and 
90% how you react to it.”
Charles R. Swindoll

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Saturday Salute 11.12.10

Image thanks to katayun

Two weeks until Christmas! And one week, for me, until a weekend in Madrid and a flight home to see my friends and family - yippee! But in the way of all that festivity is a week of exams... Though, with health problems and some low points in the past couple of weeks, I'm not going to let myself get stressed, I'm just going to get through it. If you're in a similar situation with your workload, maybe you could adopt the same attitude? Pressure isn't always a positve pusher, sometimes it just pushes you over. Put the world on pause, take a deep breath, have a cup of tea, and maybe check out some of these inspiring links!

Are you the world's worst boss?

The best new blog I've found in a while, I'm salivating after the archive: The Middle Finger Project.

Want to see me climb a tree? Just me, oh, and 43 other people:

What to do when you love your work too much from Love Your Work Life.

I love French & English Confectioner's.

Tonight my housemates and I are hosting a Christmas Party with mulled wine and gingerbread and Christmas songs! And tomorrow I will take a chill out day and prepare for aforementioned week of crazy-exam-madness. Take care of yourself.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Creating the CV of Who You Want to Be

Image thanks to desi

[Warning: this is not your typical ‘How to Write a CV’ article, no no, this is an article on writing, and creating, your future.]

“Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather... the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.”
Alex Noble

The Typical CV, and a New Model

You already know many things about the typical CV; that it is a self-marketing tool; that you need one to get anywhere in your career; that it needs to be good – more than good, it has to stand-out, and that you should update it often with newly acquired skills and vertical career steps.

Your CV is often viewed as the end result of certain stages of career development:

• You leave university and possibly create your first CV
• You move on from your first job and update your CV
• You take a course and give that skill new prominence

This is all great – it’s a system that works, that’s why it’s so widely used, but it’s not exactly the most targeted way of climbing the career ladder. Waiting until you reach a milestone before acknowledging it suggests that your career operates merely as a series of accidents, rather than in purposeful steps.

What if your functional CV had an alter-ego? What if the classic CV model we’re all familiar with could become, not an end result, but a goal in itself to be aspired to?

I propose that you create the CV of the person you dream of being.


We already know how powerful and effective written goals can be, but we also know that the problem with goals is that they are often too abstract; we struggle to relate them with ‘the real world’ and our everyday lives.

A CV is different; a CV is familiar, it is concrete, it is laid out in a concise format that we associate directly with career success, and it is all on one or two pages, not scattered through journals and on postcards and sticky notes.

Let’s get started!

Your Ideal-Self CV

Personal Profile

This is just about the only place in a traditional CV where you get the chance to be a bit flowery and talk yourself up, so let’s use it for the same purpose in our aspiring CV. Use powerful, poignant words that truly evoke your ideal future self (without straying from the conventional tone of a working CV).

An Example Template:

I am a [_____] and [_____] person, based in [_____]. My current objective is [_____] as I have previously completed and excelled in [_____]. My current personal ambitions are [_____] and [_____] after successfully [_____].


This section may seem a little obsolete in a dream CV, as the likelihood is you have already completed the bulk of your education. I’m not suggesting you falsify yourself in this CV, I want you to remain realistic, and that means no sneaky adaptations of your past schooling. However, if you envisage yourself going back to university, completing a Masters programme, or even just taking an improvers maths class, you should add that here.


Same rules as above, only we have a little more room for manoeuvre here as we can add in the positions that you imagine, realistically, will carry you to the peak point of your career. Work out the perfect time-periods and chronological order of these positions and list accordingly.

Aim to write 100% authentically, as if you have already completed each point and are genuinely writing a CV for use. This affirmative style of writing can be an extremely powerful tool in visualising the future truth in what you’re writing.


This is a section where, like your Personal Profile, you can have a little more fun. What technical applications, artistic qualities or physical abilities do you need/want to achieve on the path to your peak career point? The trick is to challenge but not overwhelm yourself; don’t list twenty points of expertise that you want to realise by next year, because the likelihood is that you won’t be able to achieve that. Remember to keep this CV inspirational, but still practical.

If a skill requires training, consider the time and cost of this training and exactly when this will be viable for you. Let’s say that the average nine-to-five-er, depending on aspired level of expertise, should be able to acquire around three new skills a year. Though, obviously, this might become just one if it is a complex field, or many more if they are one-off training days.

Hobbies and Interests

Here you can write the things you would love to be doing, but that you never have the time to factor into your current life; those Italian classes you’ve yet to start, indoor rock-climbing, Yoga etc. Again, don’t be unrealistic; you don’t merely want to advertise things to yourself that you won’t be able to achieve. Limit your list to the things that really get you buzzing.

What if you’re Self-Employed?

If you’re self-employed, don’t think this exercise is of no use to you – quite the opposite, in fact. Those who are self-employed rarely require a traditional CV, and thus don’t obtain the benefits of solidifying their career past and present into a succinct document. Give it a go, you might like it.

What Next?

There you have it, the CV of the person you’d love to be, but, you guessed it, this alone is not enough; from here on you’ll need targeted action to see this dream come to life. Here are some ideas:

• Add future dates to the different points on your CV. This will help you organise your individual goals and give you deadlines for achieving them.

• Put a check-box beside each element you have not yet achieved so that you can actively measure completion of separate goals.

• Don’t stop here. Just like your real CV, review and update your ideal CV regularly to achieve the maximum inspiration and encouragement from it.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Words to Live By #119

Image thanks to yoshimi

"The greatest wealth is health."

Sorry this is a day late, yesterday I had to pay an unwelcomed visit to a Spanish hospital. It wasn't too serious, but let us just say there were some deeply unpleasant procedures involved. Hopefully I'm on the mend now, but if you're feeling well and bouncy, do bare in mind today's quote.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Saturday Salute 04.12.10

Image thanks to shandi-lee

Somehow blogging is so much more fun when you have a fresh new look - I feel reinvigorated! I've got half-started and planned articles spread all over my desktop! Though I must suppress my writing urges for today, as I'm off to explore the Montblanc area of Catalonia. Before that, however, I leave you with some lovely links to make you think:

How to Get a Book Deal from Kelly Diels is good, so good that I keep re-reading it.

Memo to Artists: Keep Your Day Job. Sound advice by Michelle Goodman.

A Diary of Lovely has been pining kitchens, and now I am too!

A Reminder: Life has Improved. But Andrea Owen agrees that sexualisation of girls in the media is still A Big Effing Deal.

Love Injections.

And now I bid you adieu.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Charade, but not as you know it...

Illustrations by Andrew Joyce

We got a makeover! What do you think? I'd love to hear any and all feedback. As always, there are still some tweaks I'd like to make - cue battle against perfectionism - but you get the general idea.

My favourite bit? The new header, of course, which is all thanks to the hard work and generosity of a nice boy named Andrew Joyce. He does lots of pretty digital artwork and you should definitely turn to him for all your doodle needs!


I hope you like the new look (in truth, I hope you LOVE it!) and please be assured that a jazzy new layout always gets me fired up to produce jazzy new content... Watch this space.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

You Tell Me... Would you buy it again?

 Image thanks to jewell willett

One word: revelation (also known as: a thought that came to me when wrangling my way into a 20 euro dress in a Spanish changing room...)

I’ve written extensively on creating your dream wardrobe, and a large part of this has been on wardrobe organisation. One of the essential keys to successful wardrobe organisation, in my opinion, is to know when things need to go: the big, regular clear out.

This is always hard, we’re gatherers by nature; giving stuff away just doesn’t sit right somehow. But I think Nubby Twiglet hit the nail on the head when she said: “To me, style and organization are interrelated. I don’t know about you, but I find that when my clothing is organized, easy to access and whittled down to what’s most loved, getting dressed and pulling together a look becomes so much more enjoyable.

Think of it like making a meal: how much simpler does it look on cooking shows where each individual ingredient is pre-chopped and ready-to-hand in those neat little dishes? This preparation gives the chef the opportunity to make something really special in a jiffy. Give yourself the same opportunity with your daily dress-up.

‘So what’, you’re thinking, ‘we know we should keep things organised’. Indeed you do: you throw out the laddered tights, the jeans that are thinning at the knees, the old bed-shirts... but what if that’s not enough? What if you could take it up a level? What if you could keep shedding, keep clearing, until you were whittled down to only your finest, most authentic and treasured items: because, if you only had those, by default each outfit would be fine, authentic, and a treasure. Well, ladies, I think I may have the question you need to ask yourself:

Would you buy it again?

Gaze into the Narnian-depths of your wardrobe and honestly ask yourself: how many of the things that you own would you actively go and replace if they were to somehow go missing? Then...

Tell me!