Sunday, 21 December 2014

Skirt of Sparkles

This might be my favourite skirt. I've had it for over 3 years now and it's kind of inappropriately short but IT'S MADE OF SPARKLES. I even wore this to work on Friday. I was planning to wear it with my mustard jumper as I've worn before, but I couldn't find it so I went for a cropped black one, which I think I prefer. I had so many compliments on this skirt and it just makes me really happy. I'm not going out-out for New Year (I really, really hate New Year) - just to one of Phil's friends' - but I think with a nice black top this would be perfect.
skirt- Lavish Alice
jumper- H&M
boots- c/o Debenhams
necklace- Topshop
lipstick - Russian Red
I'm having a pretty quiet weekend cause I was actually ill all day yesterday. I went out after work on Friday with some of my team for dinner and drinks but made sure I was home by 10pm because it was the annual Santa run at Parkrun yesterday, which is basically my favourite run of the year. I love it and I've been looking forward to it all year. However when I woke up I didn't feel great and it took a lot of strength for me to accept that I just wasn't well enough to run. I was absolutely gutted, especially as I won't be living at home to go next year. In the end it was definitely the right decision though as I felt absolutely terrible all day and spent most of the day in bed. It felt like the start of flu. Luckily I managed to be well enough for the evening because my parents and I were going over to Phil's house for dinner with his family. Our families really get on which is such a big deal to me, and we had a really lovely night. I had a run planned this morning but even though I'm feeling completely better I thought it would be best to have a rest today - but I'm hoping to be back on it tomorrow! This afternoon we have our last choir performance of the year at the local garden centre where we'll be singing our Christmas selection and potentially our Les Miserables medley, and then I'm going to watch the football with Phil this afternoon. It's been a very quiet, but much-needed, weekend.
Tomorrow is my 5 year (!!) blog anniversary so I'm going to get a post ready for that, and I found out today that I am only three blog posts away from 1000 posts on this blog so I definitely want to hit that target by the end of the year so stay tuned!

Hope your weekend is going well!

Charlotte x

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

You go Glen Coco!

christmas tshirts - c/o Lush tshirts
True story - Phil is too tall to fit in my usual photo-taking spot. It was absolutely chucking it down when we went to take these photos so I said " oh we'll do them in my room. You just stand there." Phil looked at me blankly. "I won't fit there." To which I replied "of course you will." Now, I wish I had taken a photo of Phil trying to duck to fit into the space. I guess I don't think about the fact that he's a foot taller than me. I also live in the loft room so it has a lot of slanty walls, hence my wardrobes above. But I like that they kind of look like normal-sized wardrobes so he looks like a giant. Anyway.
Apparently there are people who don't like Christmas jumpers. Not us obviously. But people. So Lush tshirts decided to let those jumper-haters get in on the Christmas apparel and created a line of festive tshirts, and they asked Phil and I to give them a try. OBVIOUSLY I picked this Mean Girls tshirt ("Four for you Glen Coco! You go Glen Coco!") and Phil went for Home Alone. We absolutely love our tshirts and they're a nice change from Christmas jumpers (although we do have three each now...). I also wore this tshirt for Ultimate Power on Friday night because it was their Christmas night. With a sparkly skirt, obviously.
I've had a pretty festive few days, which is good cause I've not really been in the mood yet (except for exclaiming, every now and again "oh my god it's Christmas NEXT WEEK!"). Every year my Mum and I have a bit of a "festive day" where we put up the tree, listen to Christmas music, watch Elf and drink Baileys, so we made mince pies and did all that on Sunday. I also wrapped my presents and wrote my cards so it feels very close now! Then yesterday my choir were singing Christmas songs at a nursing home. We did it last year too and it's so lovely to do and the old people there really seem to enjoy it. 
I'm really excited for Christmas this year. We always have family (and Phil!) round on Christmas Eve, but this year on Christmas Day we're doing a Vicar of Dibley and having two Christmas dinners! Last year we realised that with Phil's family having dinner at 12 and we having dinner at 6 it was totally possible for us to do both. Plus we both have all our traditions in the morning so we can spend the afternoon together. So the plan is Christmas dinner at Phil's family's first, then Christmas dinner at mine later on! It's gonna be lovely to spend Christmas together properly this year.

It's my 5 year blog anniversary next week so stay tuned for a post on that!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The Best Weekend Ever

I know, that's a pretty hyerbolic title, but I'm feeling pretty hyperbolic. BEST WEEKEND EVER. It all started on Friday, when we got some absolutely incredible, and unexpected, news about one of Phil's friends who has been really poorly. Then Phil told me he got his payment through for the car crash he had back in the summer. Then we started to get excited about the flat viewing we had booked for Saturday morning. Good things come in threes, right? Friday night was Phil's work's Christmas do so we got all dressed up (I wore this) and had a really great night. Saturday morning we had a flat viewing. Now to put this into context, flat hunting has been the absolute bane of my life the last few weeks. We're not looking to move until after Christmas, and property in Manchester city centre moves faster than the speed of light. We've called up on the first day properties have been available and been told they've already gone. We've booked viewing for properties not available til January and then got a call an hour before we were supposed to go saying the flat has been let. We arranged about four viewings that we never even made it to. But we were excited about this one. I'd gotten the email alert in the middle of the night, and was on the phone with them at 8.01am Friday morning. We couldn't go that day, but we were told we could go Saturday and that we were first in line. Phil was excited because of all the good news but I wanted to try to be objective. We got to the flat, looked around the area, found the parking area and assessed how safe the area looked. Then we went inside. You know how they say when you know, you know? I knew in about 20 seconds. We'd found out flat. As Phil has said since, "it's just, us." It's perfect and it was love at first sight. However, as we told the estate agent we wanted to take it, she said a lady had seen it at 11am and was also keen. She told us it was basically a race against time on who could get to the office first to pay the agency fees. We ran to the cash machine and headed straight to the office. We debated the pros and cons along the way, but we were both giddy. When we arrived, the office was empty and the other estate agent was waiting for us. It turned out the other lady wasn't right for the property and it was ours. We had our flat! We spent the day in a bit of a giddy daze, stopping every now and again to look at the photos and gush over it. We move in in February which gives us a few months to get everything ready, but we're so, so excited. We also finished off the night by winning the quiz we went to with Phil's family, which was just the icing on the cake!
jeans- Topshop
tartan shirt- Forever 21
beige jumper- New Look
scarf- ASOS
boots- c/o Timberland
Anyway, back to clothes. I am completely and utterly smitten with this scarf at the moment. I just want to wear it all the time, and I was desperate for a way to build an outfit around this scarf and these boots. As much as I hate to admit it, my old brown boots have seen better days. I had them reheeled and resoled a few months ago but they are a bit worn out, but these Timberlands are the perfect replacement. I wore them all around town running about yesterday and they are so comfortable. In the winter I tend to just rotate between two or three pairs of boots - this year I'm all about the Chelsea boot.
I had a great run again this morning too. I wanted to have a long, slow run but now I've gotten used to getting up my speed I just want to keep pushing! I hit the wall the last mile or so because I hadn't eaten before I went, but I ended up running the last mile at my fastest time ever and nearly broke 10 minutes (it was 10:06). I finished 5 miles in 53:59 and I was absolutely over the moon. I've done some freelance work, made a Thai lentil chilli for tonight and I'm just about to go see the new Hunger Games.
Hope your weekend has also been great!

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Christmas Jumper Season

I'm sorry that I tried to make "before-work" photos happen. I don't know what I was thinking. Well, I do. I was thinking that I really liked my outfit and didn't want to wait til weekend to photograph it so I went for it. The funny thing was I didn't actually realise how awful the lighting was on these photos after I took them. It was only when I put them on my computer that I was like, oh god. But I really like this outfit. I actually stole it from a mannequin in Dorothy Perkins. I hadn't really considered trying to tuck a jumper into a skirt. It only really works with skater skirt (I tried with my pencil skirt. It made me look pregnant), and still makes you look pretty bulky. But now December is here I pretty much just want to wear Christmas jumpers (I've worn two this week so far) and I get bored of just wearing them with jeans. Wearing them with a skirt feels like a bit of a revelation.
jumper- Primark
leather skirt- Oasis
Chelsea boots- c/o Debenhams
shirt- Boohoo
necklace- Topshop
I hate not being able to photograph my outfits til the weekend. However it does give me an excuse to just wear boring outfits for work! I'm struggling a bit with how cold it is now. Don't ask me how I used to cope with -20 degree weather when I lived in Minnesota. I love that it's December now though. I'm such a big kid when it comes to Christmas. I love all the sparkly lights in Manchester. I don't, however, love the shoppers. I like to go out at lunch for a break from staring at a screen but after spending 40 minutes queuing for collection in House of Fraser on Monday lunchtime I've decided to stick to shopping online. Phil and I went to the markets on Sunday though. I always say I like the idea of the Christmas markets more than the reality, which is true, but it's one of our little traditions now so I like to go. I had some garlic bread with cheese and peppers and, my favourite, white chocolate-covered strawberries on a stick, while Phil had a hot dog, seafood paella and a chocolate-covered apple. I'm in full-on Christmas mood now. It's Phil's work's Christmas do on Friday which should be fun (I'm wearing this) and then I have my next few weekends booked up with Christmas parties, evenings out and all kinds of festive stuff. I wanted to put the tree up this weekend but my Dad says it's too early, so I think it's going to be the 14th. Things I'm looking forward to include: putting up the tree, watching Love Actually (my favourite Christmas film), watching Elf, making mince pies and the Parkrun Santa run. Speaking of Parkrun - I got my first PB in over a year last week. I'm down to 32:09 which isn't bad considering I'd only ran Parkrun under 35 minutes four times before and I usually run about 36 minutes. That 30 minute 5K isn't seeming too far off now! 
Well I hope if nothing else this post gives you some new ideas on how to wear your Christmas jumper, beyond the ol' jeans and boots combo.

Have a great week!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 30 November 2014

My Favourite Lipsticks

Until recently, I was never really a big lipstick wearer. I was a big lipstick buyer, but when it came to wearing them I could never get past my first snack of the day without wiping it off. But now I wear lipstick at least once a week. I always struggle with keeping it on (I've tried everything - liner, blotting, sealing with power, Lipcote, using a brush instead of straight from the bullet...) but I can just about accept that I'll need a few touchups throughout the day to account for my bi-hourly snacking. I thought to honour my newest obsession, I would show you some of my favourite lipsticks in my collection (this is nowhere near all of them!). I've intentionally not edited these photos so you can see the colour properly for each one. I apologise in advance for a) weird photos of my face and b) the fact that I kind of suck at doing lipstick. These were all applied with a lipbrush and I've mentioned for each one which liner I've used (I always use liner).
MAC- Pure Zen
If you see me wearing any kind of nude lipstick, it will be this. It took me a long time to find the perfect nude for me, but I love this so much that I actually have three of it so keep in various handbags. I wear this almost every day.
MAC- Impassioned
This was the first MAC lipstick I ever bought, after a girl served me in a shop wearing it and I had to know what it was. It's stupidly bright and amazing, and probably the longest-wearing of my lipsticks. I've worn this a few times on a night out and found myself still wearing it the next day! I usually wear a very neutral pink lipstick with this, purely because I don't have one that matches! Mine is Rimmel in Eastend Snob.
Rimmel- Glam Plum Fulham
I bought this as I heard it was a dupe for MAC's Rebel. It isn't on me at all (see below- Rebel looks very pink on me), but it's a gorgeous wintery shade that I love. It's probably the darkest of all my lipsticks. It has a really creamy finish that I really like. I wear it with Maybelline's colour sensation lipliner in Midnight Plum.
Rimmel- Kate Moss 20
This is my go-to bright pink lipstick. I've had it for ages and was recently researching Girl About Town dupes and this was mentioned as a dupe. I was so excited when I remembered I already had it. It's a very bright, Barbie pink and it's gorgeous. I wear this with the same liner as Impassioned.
Rimmel- Kate Moss 07
I'd forgotten about this lipstick until a few weeks ago but it's a gorgeous wintery red. I tend to wear very blue-reds but I prefer this for winter. I wear it with MAC lipliner in Brick.
MAC- Russian Red
This was my first MAC red (I have three now) and it's my favourite red for an evening. I prefer Ruby Woo for during the day but Russian Red is my favourite for a classy night-out red. I wear it with Brick liner.
MAC- Rebel
My current favourite lipstick. Ah I just love it. I got it thanks to Back to MAC a few weeks ago and I wear it at least once a week. It's very pink on me but it's one of those colours that seems to look different on everyone. I wear it with NYX liner in Bloom (great dupe for MAC Magenta).
MAC- Ruby Woo
My go-to red lipstick. Some people don't like how matte it is but that's what I love about it. It's a perfect retro red lip. It is a little tricky to apply but it's probably my all-time favourite lipstick. Just a perfect red. I wear it with Max Factor lipliner in Red Rush - I find Brick a little too dark.
I've mentioned all my lipliners in this post, but here they all are. I wear lipliner with all my lipsticks except Pure Zen. It's something I picked up from my Mum and I'm rubbish at applying lipstick so using liner makes it feel more like I'm just colouring in. I need to invest in a clear lipliner because I end up needing to buy new lipliners whenever I get a new lipstick, but I feel like I have a good collection now! From top to bottom - Max Factor Red Rush, MAC Brick, Rimmel Exaggerate in Eastend Snob, Maybelline Colour Sensation in Midnight Plum and NYX pencil in Bloom.
And finally, my tools. I've had this retractable lip brush for years and it is the bomb. I got it in Sephora while I was on my year abroad and nothing has ever compared. I also use MAC Prep and Prime as it was a Christmas present last year. I don't think it makes a huge difference so I probably wouldn't repurchase but it makes my lips feel nice, and finally Lipcote, which I use if I want my lipstick to last longer than usual. It makes applying over the top difficult but it does increase longevity.

Next on my list? MAC Girl about Town and NARS Dragon Girl.

What's your favourite lipstick?

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Christmas Dress

My Christmas Day outfit is kind of a big deal. I know a lot of people who don't get out of their pyjamas on Christmas day but in my family getting dressed up on Christmas day is tradition. For the last two years I've worn my red Audrey dress and I'd ordered a sequin jacket to go with it, but when it arrived it just wasn't right. I went on the hunt for the perfect Christmas Day dress and stumbled over this one. It was just right. Pale blue is such a nice change from the usual reds and blacks of Christmas, but it has enough sparkle to feel festive. I'm planning to wear it for the first time next week for Phil's work's Christmas do but I'm sure it will be worn lots over the festive period. These shoes are also new. I picked them precisely to go with this dress. I would have gone for gold or nude but I was advised to go for a darker colour and I really like them. They're Clarks and have a really cosy insole inside them which makes them extra comfy - which is perfect as at Phil's Christmas party last year my shoes were so uncomfortable that my feet were bleeding when I got home! There will also always be curly hair and red lipstick. Always.
heels- c/o Shoetique
fur jacket- Quiz

I cannot believe it's December next week! I am one of those people who goes nuts about Christmas, but I can't let myself get excited until 1st December! From next week onwards I'll be rotating my three Christmas jumpers until Boxing Day, listening solely to Christmas songs and eating mince pies every day. I've bought almost all my presents now, with the exception of my Dad's and Phil's parents, but I know exactly what I'm getting everybody. It's so exciting. I can't wait to put up the tree, watch Love Actually and wrap presents. I'm finally going to the Manchester Christmas markets at the weekend which is another festive tradition, and on Friday my Mum is meeting me after work for a spot of Chistmas shopping and dinner.
Everything is quiet at the moment but in a good way. I have lots on for December but I'm looking forward to it. On Saturday I'm having my first Rebel Bingo experience - has anyone been? I have no idea what to expect! Apparently you need to expect to be drawn on?! I'll let you know what it was like next week.
Have a lovely week!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 23 November 2014

How not running has made me a better runner

Back in June, I fell out of love with running.
Almost a year to the day since I started Couch to 5K with the goal of being able to run a 10K.
Instead, I ran three 10Ks and a half marathon.
But running had become a chore.
I was running the same runs methodically. I wasn't getting any faster, I was getting better. I was bored.
In June I decided to take a two-month break from running in order to finally complete the Insanity programme which I had received for Christmas but hadn't had time to commit to with a half marathon looming.
I absolutely loved it and didn't miss running for a second.
However, in the last week of the programme I sprained my foot.
It was tough.
I was excited to finally finish the programme after eight weeks. And I was finally ready to start running again.
For weeks, I could hardly walk.
After about a month, I slowly started exercising again.
Pilates, then weights, then slowly into cardio with T25.
I wanted to start running again in October, but with a holiday coming up that was bound to be heavy on walking I decided to wait.
I stuck to T25 and weights with Chalean Extreme, exercising 5-6 times a week. I persevered and counted down the days to being able to run again.
Four weeks ago I went on my first run in 6 months.
I decided not to put pressure on myself and just do two miles, as slow as I needed.
It was a breeze. It was 20 seconds faster than my average pace. But importantly, it reminded me why I loved to run.
I decided weeks ago that with the dark nights I was only going to run at the weekends. I don't like running in the dark, and I also really enjoy my early morning workouts when I don't need to leave the house. So I decided to do two days of Chalean Extreme a week, and two days of T25 per week. Which meant, unfortunately, weekends were my only time for run. 
Two weeks after my first run I decided to try three miles. The first mile was okay, but half way through the second mile I was tired. But then something clicked. I started to reduce my stride into shorter, faster steps. Suddenly I was running faster, but it didn't feel more effort. By the time I finished my third mile I had run it a minute faster than my second. It was a revelation.
Yesterday I went to park run for the first time in 6 months. I was nervous but also excited given my recent experiences.
The first mile felt great. Usually my plan is to keep up with "the red flag man" (who paces the race just under a 10-minute-mile for people who want to run the race in 30 minutes) as much as possible. After half a mile I hadn't seen him. But then as I ran past the announcer I heard him say "oh and here is the red flag man." Confused, I looked around me. Where is he? Then it clicked, he was behind me. I kept ahead of him for nearly the entire first mile (he overtook me just before the mile point) and clocked my first mile at 10:43. My third fastest mile ever. I was tired after this exertion and slowed down for my second mile. But then my watch flashed up, 11:07. I hadn't slowed down at all. I pushed through for my third mile. My PB is 32:28 and that was over a year ago. I had only gotten below 35 minutes a few times in over a year of park run (I average about a 12-minute-mile and have been stuck at that pace for a long time). I was going to have one of my best ever times! I was tired but I kept pushing. I moved my feet faster, not longer. I was tired but I felt fitter. I could push through. I crossed the finish line in 33:28. My third fastest park run.

Today I was still high on my park run success and didn't want to wait a week to run again. My plan for the winter is Saturday park run and a long, slow run on a Sunday of 4-6 miles, so I decided to give four miles a go. I was in a grumpy mood and it was a real push to get myself out. But I decided this was a "bonus run" so if it sucked it didn't count. What mattered was that I was giving it a go.
I did four miles. In 44 minutes. My last mile was in 10:30 and I averaged as pace of 10:57. That's a minute faster than my usual average. 
I've turned a corner, by not running.
By doing Insanity for 2 months. By swapping my mid-week runs for two days of HIIT and two days of strength training.
My fitness is better. My cardio is better. My turnover is better.
I'm a better runner.
A much better runner than I was when I was half marathon training. A much better runner than when I was running three or four times a week.
I am so excited to reach my speed goals and beyond. By running twice a week, but focusing on cross training the rest of the time.
Running isn't just about running.