Friday, 17 October 2014

Huntin' Shootin' Fishin'

I feel like I should be posing on the front of some kind of hunting magazine in this get up. I would have loved to have taken these photos outside. Unfortunately it's now reached that time of the year when it's dark when I leave the house for work at 7.15am and it's dark by the time I get home at 6. Sad face. So for the next few months it's either gonna have to be just photos at the weekend or rubbish, low quality before-work bedroom snaps.
jeans- Topshop
white shirt- Boohoo
jumper- Matalan
boots- c/o New Look
Anyway, let's talk about these boots. I've always thought that brown, knee-high boots (or in fact, knee-high boots in general) were the epitome of classy. One of those staples that instantly updates even a simple jeans-and-jumper outfit. I know you don't need me to show you how to wear jeans and a jumper and a pair of boots, but you should know by now that we're all about keeping it real round here. I've never really got bloggers that wear an outfit just to photograph it. Surely that defeats the purpose of an every day style blog? Anyway! I was a bit worried about the fit of these boots cause New Look only had them in wide fit and I don't have wide feet, but a big pair of socks more than sorts them out and they'll keep my feet extra toasty in the winter. I'm also obsessed with forest green right now, even though it's so two winters ago. I bought this jumper this week along with an Essie nail polish which is almost identical in colour.
Short post tonight because I'm off to Spain tomorrow! My Mum, Dad, Phil and I are off to my parents' apartment on the Costa Blanca for 8 days. I'm ready for a really relaxing break but also really excited to show Phil all of our favourite places. My parents have had their apartment for 10 years now so I've been dozens of times but it's always a really nice break and it will be exciting for Phil seeing it with new eyes.
I'll be back in 8 days!

Charlotte x

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Fitbug Review

I've never really worried about working a sedentary job. As someone who exercises five or six times a week I've never really considered it to be a problem that the only exercise I get during the working day is my half-hourly trips to fill up my water bottle which naturally result in half-hourly trips to the bathroom.
Then a few months ago I was flicking through Runner's World and I found an article entitled "Sitting is the new smoking, even for runners", the gist of the article being that even if you run (or do any kind of exercise) regularly, the threats of sitting down too much can still be as damaging to your health, in the same vein that it doesn't matter if you run 60 miles as week if you smoke forty a day.
This was a bit of a surprise to me. As aforementioned, my every day life isn't that active aside from my running and Beachbody workouts. I walk five minutes from the train station to work and back, and Phil is always taking the mick out of me for complaining that he doesn't park close enough to my house. I consider myself a lazy-exerciser. I exercise like crazy five or six times a week, but if I can get the lift rather than the stairs, I'll probably get the lift. Which I suppose makes me exact the kind of person that article describes.
A few weeks ago I was looking at the iPhone step tracker and set that up for a few days, but I found I obviously don't take my phone with me every time I go to the toilet at work, and I don't think all my steps were being detected in my bag, so I gave up, but I really liked the idea of actually knowing how much I walked. Because I work in the centre of town I can easily go for a mooch if my steps for the day aren't as high as I would like, and I liked the idea of being able to supplement my workouts with extra walking about.

I've fancied a fitness tracker for a while, but with so many on the market I didn't know where to start, so when Fitbug offered to send me a Fitbug Orb to review I figured I'd give it a try. The Fitbug tracks your movement and sleep, and you can set it to add in your nutrition too, or hook it up to My Fitness Pal. When the orb arrives, it looks like this...
c/o Fitbug

As you can see, it's pretty small, and notably, doesn't have a screen- it works entirely though the website or phone app. Now this might not be ideal for everyone, but for me- who never goes everywhere without her phone, it's absolutely fine.

Now I will admit the set up confused me, but then I realised I'd accidentally put the battery in upside down (ahem...) but once I got past that part it was fine. I did have some struggles connecting it to my MyFitnessPal, but some googling helped me out. It comes with a clip for your belt, a watch strap for it to fit it and a lanyard, so you have a few options of how to wear it. Initially I went for belt clip but then I switched to watch, which I think is more accurate.
The Fitbug works entirely over bluetooth and I have been solely using the iPhone app, so I can't tell you much about the website because one of the main selling points for me is being able to just use it on my phone. It has a couple of different settings- one where you press the button throughout the day for it to update your steps, one to get your steps in real time and one where it updates every 30 minutes so long as your phone is nearby and the app is open. I tend to leave it on the mode where it updates itself ("hub mode"), but then every now and again I'll press the button for an automatic update. This is a bit sad but I've gotten really into checking how many steps I've done!

On the first day I wasn't very well so I just tracked my steps. I try to get over 5,000 but I've been impressed that most days I've been well over 10,000. After a few days I started to also wear it for my workouts which it seems to track as "aerobic steps" which I think are steps over a certain pace. It's not super accurate for exercise (I did strength training this morning and it barely counted anything), but I don't really use it for that anyway (I have my Polar HRM for tracking my heart rate). I love that it doesn't just show you your steps, but how much time you've spent walking and the distance you've actually travelled. It's amazing to find out you've walked 4 miles in a day while you've just been pottering around!

So I did say alongside movement tracking it also has a sleep function. Now to be completely honest I was kind of dubious about this. I already use a sleep tracker and my sleep tracker has an alarm so I thought well, I don't need two so what's the point? But in the interest of a fair and accurate review I decided to try it out. I set my Fitbug and I also set my usual sleep app to see if they had similar results.

The Fitbug blew my mind.

My SleepCycle app only really tracks how long you've been in bed, and I only really pay attention to the quality of sleep as the graphs don't really interest me, but the Fitbug not only tells you quality of sleep, but it tells you how often you woke up in the night and for how many minutes and actually how many hours you were fully asleep during the night. I think that is absolutely fascinating! Admittedly, I'm not sure what to do with this information yet, but I'd love to keep track of various factors (bed time, stresses of the day, food consumed before bed) to try to get optimal sleep.

Would I recommend the Fitbug? Definitely. I think anyone and everyone can benefit from this- people like me who exercise a lot but have sedentary jobs and also people who don't exercise much and want to start moving more. I know having this baby strapped to my wrist makes me walk more, and I've been slipping into Manchester a few days the last week to get a few extra steps in. I also barely notice it on my wrist so wearing it isn't a big deal and I really find it motivating to get up and move more throughout the day.

Thanks Fitbug! I can't wait to play with this toy more!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Autumn 30 for 30: The End

Here we go, all 30 outfits...
I feel like last time I did this challenge I was a bit too safe- I chose too many  items that perfectly went together and had too much of a specfic colour and print palette, so I ended up with 30 outfits that seemed like a few variations on a theme. This time around I'm really happy with my choices and with my outfits- I feel like there's a lot of variety, a good mix of prints and colours and I feel like I successfully covered outfits for pretty much every situation I was faced with over the 30 days.
As I mentioned in my last post, there was a rogue 31st outfit that didn't make the cut, which resulted in one item not being worn. When I chose my 30 items I'd just come back from a weekend in Birmingham which had been a bit manic and I kind of threw my items together without much planning. As I've said above, I think that haphazard method with less planning helped for the most part, but it did mean I ended up with a navy pencil skirt in the mix which I just didn't fancy wearing. I put together one outfit, snapped it anyway before getting changed again but I'm glad I didn't include it, because I can honestly say I love all 30 of my outfits.
I remember last time I did this (over three years ago!) the biggest struggle was being so restricted. I "missed" outfits and items and couldn't wear to wear new things. Do you know what I wore today? My jeans and striped jumper (admittedly, I wore new boots), but I stuck to items from my 30, even though I could have worn anything. Because this time around the honest truth is that I missed wearing the same outfits over and over again. And I think that's where things have changed since I started this blog. When I started this blog I wanted to build as many outfits as possible and for the most part, I felt like I was "wasting" outfits by rewearing them when I could have come up with something new. Now, I'm always rewearing the same outfits and when I buy something new I don't just think about how much I'll remix it (although of course I always think that!) I also just think of a couple of nice outfits I like with the item.
I really enjoyed doing this challenge in the autumn instead of the summer too, with the exception of the ever-changing weather. The first few weeks of this challenge were some of the warmest of the year, but towards the end the temperatures completely dropped and forced me to wear more layers and push myself more with my outfits.
I also enjoyed not shopping for the month, although I did cave and order a jumper over the weekend but my justification was it didn't arrive til today. Today I also bought a lovely little skirt from Warehouse, but this challenge has definitely made me realised precisely how much I have. Especially with mine and Phil's future flat looming, I'm realising how much stuff I have and how much of it I'm going to need to cull before I move out early next year.
I would definitely recommend doing this challenge purely to push you to be more creative in your outfits. There are so many outfits here that I would never have put together ordinarily but that I absolutely love now and will wear again. Being restricted in what you can wear forces you to be more creative with what you have.
Will I do another one? Absolutely! It's so much more and such a good way to reawaken your creativity when you've been feeling uninspired (which happens to me a lot after nearly 5 years of blogging!).
If you want to see all the items in detail, check out my posts on week one, week two, week three and week four, and my last two outfits- day 29 and day 30. And if you want to see all 30 items, you can find them here.

I'll be back later in the week with new outfits!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Autumn 30 for 30: Week Four

(Check out my previous outfits- Week One, Week Two and Week Three)
Day 22
Day 23
Day 24
It's nearly over! Two more days to go! This week has been a struggle for a few different reasons. One, from Tuesday onwards, the temperatures just completely dropped. Outfits that didn't involved a cardigan or jumper were suddenly pretty much out. Plus, it rained a LOT this week, so it was boots or nothing. Or boots or wet feet. Add to that the fact that I've been poorly this week so any kind of getting dressed was unappealing, and that it was the second to last week and I've just been running out of ideas. Oh and that I tried to use up all those unworn items this week that I hadn't included before. I have now worn 29 of my 30 items, but one still remains. That bloody navy skirt. I put it on on Friday and put together a half-decent outfit with it, but I was going down to London to do a presentation for work and knew my outfit was not one I wanted to wear to have people stare at me for 2 hours, so I photographed it but didn't wear it. My navy skirt is too big (stupid M&S vanity sizing) and it makes my legs looks stumpy when worn with flat shoes (and I only included flat shoes in my 30 for 30). I'm planning to wear it tomorrow as it kills me to have one unworn item, but I did manage to wear the other remaining items this week- my red cardigan, red flats and stripey skirt.
Day 25
Day 26
So what else has been going on this week? Not much this week with being poorly for a couple of days, but this week is set to be mental. I go on holiday next Saturday so I have loads to do this week before I go, in particular loads of stuff for this blog! I've also just submitted my final TEFL assessment which is a relief. I started doing the course last year but it's not something I really intend to use any time soon, but I had a year to complete the at-home modules and my time is almost up so I'm glad I've finally finished that. This weekend has been a much-needed quiet one. I was in London for work on Friday and spent 4 hours of my day on trains there and back, so I just about had enough energy for a curry with my Mum on Friday night. Yesterday was pretty quiet- I'm loving T25 so I did that in the morning and then worked on my TEFL, did the food shopping and made a Mexican feast last night before falling into bed at 9.15pm! This morning I really wanted to go for a run (my foot, I think, is finally better!) but my parents don't want me to push my foot too much before we go away so I settled for T25 Speed 1.0 and a trip to go see family. Phil is coming round this afternoon and we're gonna chill out and start watching Peaky Blinders, which I've heard lots of great things about!
Day 27
Day 28
Stay tuned for the full round-up of all 30 outfits this week!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Autumn 30 for 30: Week Three

(Check out my outfits from Week One and Week Two)
Three weeks down and the end is in sight! I have found this week a little bit more difficult (take yesterday for example when I put an outfit on and then realised I'd already worn it), and I still have three unworn items which I wish I hadn't included, which is annoying. I know I need to wear them this week but I feel like including them was a bit of a mistake and I know I won't love the outfits I'll wear with them. I'm also feeling the pressure of including those last few outfits that are in my head that I want to get in before the challenge is over! Also apologies for the grainy pictures. With the nights getting longer it's getting darker and darker when I take my photos just before 7am so I need to adjust my camera settings!
Day Fifteen
Day Sixteen
Day Seventeen
This weekend has been awesome. On Friday Phil and I went to see Gone Girl. David Fincher is my all-time favourite director (my favourite film is Fight Club) and I only read the book because I knew he was directing it so I was buzzing. I absolutely loved it except for about the last 20 minutes, but I won't give anything away! Yesterday I went to get my hair done (you'll notice it's a little darker in the last photo) and I had some of the red taken out because it's been going kind of gingery when it gets towards the end of the 12 weeks between dye jobs so I've gone more brown and I love the colour I have now. I'm also growing it again cause it's felt a bit inbetween-lengths recently. Then last night Phil and I went out for dinner to celebrate one year since our first date! We went out to the bar where we had our first date for the first time since the first time. We had such a good night, had dinner, had a few drinks and then met up with some of my family who were out in town too which was lovely. 
Day Eighteen
Day Nineteen
Today Phil and I tried and failed to get Glastonbury tickets and then went out with his family for lunch (Sunday roast- yum! I had a nut roast with veggie gravy and all the trimmings. The yorkshire pudding was amazing!) and then went for a nice long walk, had a drink in a pub and then walked back. It was such a nice Sunday! My foot also held out well on the walk which is reassuring because it's less than 2 weeks until we go to Spain and we tend to do a lot of walking on our family holidays and there are loads of walks in Spain we want to take Phil on.
Day Twenty
Day Twenty One
Even though it's only 7pm I don't think bed will be far off. I started last week back on 5am workouts which I LOVE but my body clock hasn't quite readjusted yet. I'm doing a hybrid of Chalean Extreme and T25 at the moment which I love and it's distracting me a bit from not being able to run while keeping up my fitness as much as possible. I'm going to try running again after we get back from Spain  but I'm not looking forward to the struggle of getting back into it and how I'm going to be even more slow than usual til I get my fitness back up.

Hope your weekend has been awesome!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Autumn 30 for 30: Week Two

Welcome to Week Two. Complete with really bad and inconsistent lighting...
(Catch up with my first week of outfits here)
Week two has been good. I've still been avoiding using my outfit list and playing it by ear a bit, but I think now I'm just about half way through I'm going to start running out of inspiration a bit. I tried to wear items this week that I hadn't worn before, but I still have loads of pieces that I haven't worn yet- pink jacket, stripey skirt, red flats, red cardigan, navy skirt and blue dress. So far I haven't been bored and I'm really enjoying the challenge. I gave up clothes shopping too for the challenge and so far I've had no cravings, however I have been avoiding reading all my shopping emails!
Day Eight
Day Nine
As with Friday, I worked from home Monday and Tuesday, so I wanted outfits that were comfy, so I went for trousers and jumpers both days. I loooove my stripey jumper and want to wear it more throughout the challenge, so I think now I've worn it with both my pairs of plain trousers I'll have to be a bit more creative so I can include it.
Day Ten
Day Eleven
I was back in the office on Wednesday and had plans every night for the rest of the week so I dressed up a little bit more. On Wednesday Phil and I had a cinema and pizza night. The pizza was good, the film was not. However Thursday night was great as we went to see Phil's brother's girlfriend (that sounds way more confusing than it is!) in a play, which was a lot of fun and something a bit different. Then on Friday Phil and I went away for the night to do a Murder Mystery night which we booked on Groupon way back in May. Neither of us had done one before and it was a lot of fun. We didn't guess the murderer though!
Day Twelve
Day Thirteen
The outfits I wore on Friday and Saturday were my favourites this week but I'm not sure if Friday's (Day 12) photographed too well. Including this jacket was a bit of a snap decision because I haven't worn it for a couple of years, but I'm glad I included in now because I think it's awesome. And it was only from Primark! It has the cutest little elbow patches too.
Day Fourteen
Today has been a typical Sunday which has been good as I was out last night for my cousin's 30th and while I don't drink much, I'm tired today. I've made butternut squash and apple soup and got Becca's Butternut Squash and Black Bean Skillet for dinner which looks amazing. I'll try to get another "What I'm cooking" post up soon so I can show you all of the lovely things I've been making.

Hope your weekend has been lovely!

Charlotte x

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Things I've been Cooking

If you follow me on Instagram you'll probably know that I love to cook. I cook at least two or three times a week. Cooking relaxes me, and the result is food, so that can't be wrong.
I don't often create my own recipes though, and I'm usually a bit scared to think outside of the box, which is one of the reasons I don't really post my recipes- because they're not really mine. But I thought it would be nice to have a post every now and again on some of the things I've been cooking lately. Yeah? Yeah!
So on Thursday we had a bake sale at work and I wanted to go beyond my usual chocolate-chip-cookies-or-brownies and try something new. Now I really really love citrus flavours. I very rarely ordered dessert but if there is something with lemon or lime in, that's probably going to be what I'll choose. So when it came to baking, I came across Sally's Baking Addiction and must have read a dozen of her recipes in one sitting. One of them was for these Key Lime Pie Bars. Holy. Yum. So on Wednesday night, my Mum and I made them. Oh my god, they were incredible. So incredible in fact, that all 15 that I took to work disappeared, and even Dipika (head baker in the Axonn office) said they were "bloody lovely." I'm not much of a baker, but there was nothing to these bars and except for the chilling, they take about 45 minutes to throw together. Limey, sweet, creamy and delicious- I'll be making these again!

Spiralized courgette with prawns and feta
Spiralized courgettes appear at least once a week in my dinner rotation. This week, I added them to Jack Monroe's Prawns and Feta, which is from her book A Girl Called Jack. It's a basic recipe of onion, garlic, prawns and tomato sauce with feta on top, and it's ridiculously simple and delicious. This meal was huuuuuge but it was nearly all vegetables!

I have salmon for dinner pretty much every Tuesday so I'm always looking for new ways to eat it. Other favourites include salmon with feta and pesto, and super healthy salmon burgers.

I make these on a Sunday for a snack to have at work. I customise them with various things- this week it was chocolate chips, almonds and craisins, but I always stick to honey, peanut butter, flax seed and protein powder. They're delicious and much healthier than a chocolate bar.

This looks gross but I promise you it was delicious. I love the Inspiralized blog and this teriyaki recipe is usually on my menu once a fortnight at least, but for a change I swapped the prawns for a spicy salmon burger!

Copycat Pret Tuna Salad
If I need to go buy lunch, I pretty much almost end up with a tuna salad from Pret, so I decided to try making one myself! I use a whole tin of tuna, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, mixed leaves, a boiled egg and capers, and make a quick dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and dijon mustard. It's pretty close to the original!

Homemade Veggie Burgers
I've been meaning to try No Meat Athlete's veggie burger formula for months (I got his book for Christmas) but I'd never gotten around to it. I'm also a bit scared of anything that I need to food process and then fry- anything I try to fry always falls apart. Anyway, last Friday Phil was unexpectedly coming over so I needed to throw something together. Knowing I had some leftover veggies in the fridge I thought I'd give these a go. Using his formula I used black beans, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and sweet corn as my veggies, ketchup, soy sauce and liquid smoke as my liquid flavour, cumin, smoked paprika and I think onion powder for my seasoning, oats as my dry base, avocado and coriander as my texture ingredients, and cooked them in coconut oil. I don't want to boast but THEY WERE INCREDIBLE. They were a tiny bit mushy but they fried perfectly and tasted incredible. I ended up making 8 so my Mum and I had one each (Phil actually picked up meat burgers for him and my dad) and there are 6 left in the freezer for last-minute meals. YUM.

Baked Oatmeal
My colleague Natalie made this last week and sent me the recipe. I replaced the almond milk with skimmed milk and used frozen berries instead of fresh blueberries. I can't wait to take this to work and reheat it for a desk breakfast.

Fish Curry
Fish curry is kind of a Crowley-family staple. We don't have a recipe and tend to just throw things in. We always start with a base of onions, garlic and curry paste and a couple of tins of tomatoes. The rest is leftover veggies and whatever fish we have in the freezer. I served this with cauliflower rice, which I make with onions, garlic and sriracha.

I've eaten this for lunch three days in a row and I am still not sick of it. The Oh She Glows cookbook is probably my favourite cookbook and this recipe is one of my favourites. I top it with extra cashews and they go all soft and melty. Yum.

I suck at regular features, but I'll try to post some more recipes soon!

Charlotte x