Wednesday, 6 January 2021

Essential Tools for my daily routine - The Pomodoro Techique

I've found myself tweeting three times this week about my love of the Pomodoro technique, so I thought it would be a good time to finally write a blog post about it. This has been on my list for a while as part of my "Essential tools for my daily routine" series.

I think a lot of us struggle with concentration when working from home (or in general at the moment!). While I absolutely love working from home, the distractions are different to those in the office. This is where I think the Pomodoro technique fits in.

I can't remember when I first heard of it but I remember someone having bought me my own little Tomato timer (Pomodoro is Spanish for tomato!) when I was studying for my marketing diploma in 2016/7 so I reckon I've been using it at least 5 years!

The Pomodoro technique is a super simple but really effective productivity tool. It was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the 80s, and there's loads you can read about it online, but it basically boils down to this - you set a timer for 25 minutes, work solidly without distractions for that time, then after 25 minutes you get a 5 minute break.

Sounds too simple to work, right?

But it totally does!

You won't believe how much you can get done in 25 minutes, and if you're struggling a break is never too far away. A five minute break gives you some time to check your emails, walk around, make a drink, check your phone. 

And then you get straight back to it.

I use it every single day of working from home (and I've done it in the office before, though it's hard to avoid some distractions in the office completely!). I use as my timer, plus as website blocker app which also has a Pomodoro version (it's called Block Site for Chrome). 

If I want to super focus I close my email and Slack too for the 25 minutes, and I always work with my phone in another room. (If your phone is an issue, I highly recommend downloaded Forest App - another app I need to write about!)

After 25 minutes I can go pet my dog, make a drink, say Hi to Phil, check the news, have a little break. Then I can jump straight back in! 

I have to be honest, I don't use it religiously for every single minute of my working day, especially as sometimes you need to be available on email or Slack, especially working from home. Purists would restart a timer as soon as they got distracted, and make a note of every single Pomodoro they completed, or ensure they are straight back to work after 5 minutes (to be honest my kettle is pretty slow!) but hey, times are hard so do what you can!

Some days I only manage a couple of Pomodoros a day, other days, especially if I have big projects to work on, I can resurface, blinking into the sun, after hours of Pomodoro-ing!

It doesn't have to be for work either. While I was furloughed I did loads of online courses and I used it for that, but it could also work for tasks like cleaning and tidying when you're finding it hard to get motivated!

I hope this was helpful and please let me know if you try it!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 3 January 2021

December Life Lately

Happy 2021! It feels a bit weird looking back on December after my last few posts looking back on the whole of 2020, but here's what I did in the last month of the year...

What I did

I wore 25 different lipsticks throughout December. I blogged about them here.

I also completed my second full month of daily yoga with Adriene's Honor calendar. I've loved doing yoga every day! I always forget how much I love it and how much it chills me out, and of course the more I do it the better I become and the more I enjoy it! I was originally planning to keep going with the January 30 days which I normally do every year, but I've decided to try something new for January. I've just started using a new fitness app, Fiton, which is free, and I really like it so far, but I've heard great things about the Peloton app too.

Phil and I got really into cocktails in December, thanks to two things. One was I did a zoom cocktail making class with one of our suppliers at work, and not only was it amazing fun, but they also provided us with an excellent cocktail shaker, as well as all the drinks we needed for mixing. Then, after months of trying to find the perfect one, Phil found a drinks trolley he liked, so of course we had to fill it! Our drinks trolley so far is nearly entirely gin and whisky, so I've been learning about gin-based cocktails and had so much fun making them. My favourite at the moment is a Gimlet.

I've mentioned before the work we've been doing on the house, and in December we finally finished the hall. We added a radiator cabinet, a lovely new mirror and we got some shoe racks from Etsy which I painted white to match the walls and floor. 

I was gutted to find out a few weeks about that one of my favourite podcasts, The High Low, was finishing after four years. I was super late to The High Low and only discovered it last year (soooo much back catalogue to work through - the best!) so I was particularly gutted to find out it was finishing. However they did one last High Low episode in December - a live episode for charity. It was so lovely and I got Phil (and Bob) to watch it with me. It was the perfect ending.

Christmas was obviously a little bit different this year. I was so gutted we couldn't do Christmas Day parkrun this time and I really loved hosting Christmas Dinner here last year (even though cooking for 9 people was super stressful!). This year we had a lovely time taking Bob for a Christmas Day walk, saw my parents and video called Phil's family and had a really lovely day. I got loads of jumpers, socks, pyjamas and slippers, plus a few games and lots of other lovely things. It wasn't quite the Christmas we wanted but we had a lovely day.

I was hoping to get out for lots of walks between Christmas and New Year, but due to lots of snow it wasn't quite possible! I did manage a doorstep present exchange with my friend Riven who made me the most incredible tote bag and kindle case in the most beautiful book fabric.

I've never been super bothered about New Year's Eve, so staying in with my boys was absolutely fine by me! We had lots of party food and a bottle of fizz, and we watched Hamilton to keep me awake til midnight!

What I loved

I'm currently obsessed with Uniqlo heattech thermals. Our house is freezing, and I'm also really tight, so to keep our bills down I've started wearing a thermal top under my jumper for work. I was about to place an order for more when I asked on Twitter what else I should get from Uniqlo, and my friend Sarah recommended the fleeces. I got a fleece jacket and it's the warmest, cosiest item of clothing I have. I've already ordered a second one from Depop!

I love scouring through end-of-year lists to find the best podcasts of the year, and that's how I discovered the 2020 podcast. It looks back on 00s pop culture with 20 years of hindsight. Episodes I've listened to so far include reality TV, Destiny's Child and Craig David.

Over the summer when I was furloughed I got really really into cross stitch, but as soon as I started working again I completely got out of the habit. I picked up my most recent piece a few weeks ago and I'm really enjoying getting back into it again. I'm working on a super detailed llama cushion and there's so much to do but it's definitely keeping me busy!

What I read

I finished 2020 having doubled my Goodreads goal and hitting 142 books read. This was definitely helped by reading 10 books in December.

Here's everything I read in December:
  • The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell
  • Ironopolis by Glen James Brown
  • The Imposter by Anna Wharton
  • Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
  • Long Bright River by Liz Moore
  • Deity by Matt Wesolowski
  • Actress by Anne Enright
  • The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly
  • The Comeback by Ella Berman
  • The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

I was also helped by my local library being open again! I managed to pick up 3 books I've had reserved since March - Hot Milk, Long Bright River and Actress. I particularly loved Long Bright River which I read in about a day.

I had a couple of advanced proofs this month - forever grateful to Netgalley for this! I read the new Laura Purcell, The Shape of Darkness, plus The Imposter, and my favourite book this month, The Office of Historical Corrections.

I also particularly loved The Comeback and Ironopolis.

What I watched

I went hard on the festive content this year. We had a list of all the Christmas films and TV shows we wanted to watch, and due to a lack of Christmas parties and other festivities we managed to watch them all!

Here are our festive film watches:
  • Gremlins
  • Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Home Alone 2
  • Klaus
  • Die Hard
  • It's a Wonderful Life
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles

New-to-me non-festive watches in December were Mank and Soul and we also revisited Zootropolis and Hamilton, and after a bottle of champagne to celebrate 3 years since we got engaged on Boxing Day, I finally got Phil to watch Cats!

We also love the Vicar of Dibley specials. The Vicar of Dibley is one of my all-time favourite TV programmes and always reminds me of my parents so I loved the new short episodes that came out this year.

What I read online

Writing Between Pauses - How to set goals for 2021
Alice Slater - #CookJan in 2021

Hope your 2021 is going well so far!

Charlotte x

Friday, 1 January 2021

2020 Favourites

I wrote my review of 2020 here, but I really enjoy writing a separate post on my favourite books, films, podcasts and other things I enjoy each year.

Most of these are not new, but new-to-me. 

Here's what I loved in 2020:


I finished 2020 having read 142 books - a few more than my original goal of 70 books!

Thanks, Global Pandemic!

I am hugely grateful that in 2020 I signed up, and was approved for, NetGalley, which means I'm fortunate enough to receive free advanced copy for some books that I request in exchange for an honest review. It's been an absolute gamechanger for me over the months that libraries have been closed!

It's been both really hard and really easy to pick my favourite books of 2020. When asked, my top 3 were for sure In The Dream House, Boy Parts and My Dark Vanessa, with special mentions to Scabby Queen and The Most Fun We Ever Had.

If I had to pick one single book of 2020, it would undoubtedly be Boy Parts. You know my love of American Psycho (I wrote my undergrad American Studies dissertation about it) and Boy Parts is like a modern, feminist, subversive and horrific American Psycho. I want to buy a copy for everyone I know.

Here are my top books I read in 2020:
  • In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
  • Boy Parts by Eliza Clark
  • My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russel
  • Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes
  • The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
  • How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell
  • How do we know we're doing it right? by Pandora Sykes
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Benett
  • Why I'm no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Deity by Matt Wesolowski
  • So you want to talk about race? by Ijeoma Oluo
  • The Choice Factory by Richard Shotton (this was work-related but it still makes my list for being brilliant!)


I've split audiobooks out from my reading list, though they count towards my reading goal, as I consume them differently and I have a very different approach to what I want to listen to compared to what I want to read with my eyes. 

I only read non-fiction on audio, and to be honest I got back super into podcasts in 2020, so I listened to a lot fewer audiobooks than I had done previous (I also no longer had to drive to work from March, which was when I would often listen to audiobooks). However, I still listened to some fantastic books - these were my favourites:
  • Alchemy by Rory Sutherland
  • Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch
  • Unfollow by Megan Phelps-Roper
  • Dopesick by Beth Macy
  • The Woman who Fooled the World by Beau Donelly


I watched A LOT more films in 2020 than I would do in a normal year. I'm not a bit rewatcher normally because we usually only watch one film a week on a Sunday night, so I like to watch something new, but that went out of the window in 2020 (I think we watched Game Night twice over about 6 weeks).

This list, however, is all films I watched for the first time in 2020. These were my favourites:

  • Host 
  • Searching
  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire
  • Klaus
  • The Invisible Man
  • Soul
  • Carrie
  • Hamilton
  • 13th
  • Your Name
  • Tenet
  • The Farewell
  • Hoop Dreams
  • Before Sunrise
  • The Lighthouse
  • Uncut Gems
  • Parasite
  • 1917
  • The Talented Mr Ripley

And TV shows that I loved in 2020
  • The Americans
  • I'll be Gone in the Dark
  • The Last Dance
  • Cook Eat Repeat


I feel like you're either a podcast person or you are not a podcast person. And if you are not a podcast person you don't get it, and if you are a podcast person you don't know how anyone could go through their life without podcasts. I am the latter.

I listened to sooooo many podcasts in 2020. I have a weird system for my podcasts too - some are for running, some are for while I'm working, some are for day-to-day, some I save for "special occasions". 

These were my favourite listens in 2020:
  • You're Wrong About
  • The High Low
  • What Page are you On?
  • You Must Remember This - Six Degrees of Song of the South
  • Twenty Twenty
  • Brought to you by
  • Decoder Ring
  • The Missing Crypto Queen
  • The Butterfly Effect
  • Maintenance Phase
  • Nice White Parents
  • Uncover: Satanic Panic


Like with everything else on this list, I did soooooo much cooking in 2020.


However, I have used some excellent books in 2020. I've kept this to new releases, but I've also loved cooking from some of my old favourites, like my Anna Jones books and The Roasting Tin books (I wrote about my favourite Roasting Tin recipes here, and my favourite vegetarian recipe books here). 

Here's what I loved to cook from in 2020:

  • Flavour by Yottam Ottolenghi (review here and here)
  • The Roasting Tin Around the World by Rukmini Iyer (review here)
  • Falastin by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley
  • Jerusalem by Yottam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
  • Start Simple by Lukas Volger (review here)
  • Charred by Genevieve Taylor (review coming!)
  • One Tin Bakes by Edd Kimber (review coming!)
  • All of the Roasting Tin books

Blog posts I wrote

I wrote 50% more blog posts in 2020 than I wrote in 2019. Admittedly, there wasn't a lot else to do! But I am so glad to have got a bit of my blogging mojo back in 2020. I have a 20 point lists of blog post ideas, and in 2021 I want to keep trying to write short, quick blog posts rather than these 1000+ word posts (like this one...). 

But I am really proud of a few blog posts I wrote this year (of course, the really long ones...) if you don't mind me indulging in a little self promotion...
Here are some other miscellaneous things that I loved in 2020:
  • Uniqlo thermal jackets
  • Uniqlo thermals
  • Bamboo socks
  • Headspace App
  • Yoga with Adriene
  • Monopoly Deal card game
  • Cross stitch kits from Plastic Little Covers
  • Sugarhill Boutique jumpers
  • Blockbuster board game
  • Coffee and Kin recyclable Nespresso pods
  • Buying all my clothes off Depop
  • HappyFeed app

I'm excited for more reading, more writing, more films and more podcasts in 2021!

Charlotte x

Thursday, 31 December 2020

2020 in Review

 Jesus Christ, 2020. What a bloody year, eh?

It's funny, and tragic, to look back now on my end of 2019 blog where I was looking ahead in 2020.

I wanted to complete 50 parkuns after running 49 in 2019, and run my 250th parkun. I wanted to run two half marathons after a year off from racing in 2019. I was looking forward to turning 30, having a party and going out with my friends. I'd just found out Phil was taking me to see Hamilton again in April as my Christmas present and we'd just spent £££ on tickets for the Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid game we were going to go to while in Barcelona, the trip my parents had bought me for my upcoming 30th.

It's hard to look back on 2020 and not feel disappointed and furious and sad. 

It feels harder still to look back on the positives of the year. It feels wrong somehow. A year in which so many people have lost so much - friends, family, jobs, futures, Christmasses, weddings, special events they were excited for. 

Phil and I have had our own struggles this year, but in among the darkness, there has been some joy and I am so so so aware of the privilege I have that allows me to feel that way. 

So here are a few little things I want to look back on in 2020:

Getting our dog!

The biggest joy this year has been the addition of Bobby to our family. It's no exaggeration to say we'd been scouring dog rescue sites for a year before we finally found our boy. We'd had so many conversations with Dog's Trust, reached out on so many websites and Facebook pages and while we knew our dog would be out there, we didn't know when it would happen.

I know this is a massive cliche, but before we got Bobby, I genuinely didn't know I could love something this much. He brings me joy every single day. His tail wagging when you walk into a room, how good he is at "wait" before he gets a treat, the way his feet twitch when he sleeps, the little personality traits and quirks we've discovered as we've gotten to know him.

Bobby is a reactive boy and I definitely didn't anticipate how much work a dog like Bob would be, but every single day we make more and more progress. We see how much he loves and trusts us and it makes even the hardest walk worth it.

I don't know what we would do without this wonderful bundle of fur and fun in our lives.

Work on the house

One good think about being stuck inside is that you can do a load of work to your house and nobody sees the mess!

We've owned our house for three and a half years, but we've done more on it this year than I think we did in all the time before combined.

There are only two rooms of our house (the bathroom, which we painted a few years ago, and our living room, which we "finished" last year) which we haven't touched at some point this year.

Some jobs have been smaller - touching up paint in the kitchen and a new sofa and table for the front room, but other rooms have been completely transformed. Walls ripped out of the hall and the third bedroom. Plaster, paint, new floors, work on the roof. New wardrobes, new carpet. We've painted the hall and all three bedrooms this year and three of those rooms were replastered. Three rooms had new floor. We spent all summer building IKEA wardrobes and buying bedding and curtains and cushions. So many trips to the tip and the paint shop and the charity shop and B&Q. 

But we are so so so proud of the work we've done. Honestly, work we probably wouldn't have gotten around to for at least another year. Lockdown gave us time to make decisions, to change our minds, to try things. And with no holiday this year we could put our savings to good use!

There are a few little bits left to do (mostly the spare rooms which we both work in which are a bit bare) but I'm so so so proud of us this year!

Turning 30

Lockdown began on the 23rd March. And one week later I turned 30.

This was full lockdown. Exercise once a day, no shops, one at a time in the supermarket, no garden visits. 

The plan for my 30th had been in place for probably close to a year. On the Friday night I was going to go to Ultimate Power with all my closest friends. Phil and I had a hotel booked and we were going to get brunch at Dishoom.

On the Sunday I'd have a party with my family at my parents' house.

And on the day itself, the Monday, Phil and I would go to a National Trust and I'd wear the new skirt I'd bought especially and then we'd have dinner with my parents.

As you can imagine, this was not what happened.

The weeks leading up to my 30th were awful. We all knew it was coming, but getting asked over and over again when I was going to cancel my Birthday was awful. I was so sad even when I knew it was inevitable.

And to be honest, I was pretty bitter about it for a long time.

But on the day itself, I had the best day I could. My parents' dropped off my slightly-smaller-than-planned cake at the door the day before. Phil decorated the house for me and we did presents on a video call with my parents. We went for a walk. We watched the Champion's League Semi-Final 2019 and Rocketman. I had video calls with our family friends and got a takeaway and drank a bottle of prosecco. I got lovely presents and cards and I am forever grateful to Phil and my Mum for making it the best day it could be!

And after this year I really don't care about being 30 anyway!

A trip to the Yorkshire Dales

Last Christmas, when we had no idea a global pandemic was going to shut the world down, Phil and I bought a lot of people, and each other, experiences. My Mum got a gin making experience, my Dad a trip to the football. Phil got me Hamilton tickets and I got him a trip to the Yorkshire Dales the weekend of his Birthday.

One of these experiences managed to happen in 2020.

It feels so so long ago now that our main worry that weekend was that bad weather might mean the parkrun we wanted to do (the main reason for the trip) would be cancelled and we'd have to do another one nearby. 

Looking back now I'm so glad we got that lovely trip - who would have known it would be our only trip away of the year?

We had such a great weekend. We ate amazing food, went for lovely walks, did the most beautiful parkrun we'd ever done (which would turn out to be one of the last ones of the year...), did some National Trust, went to Betty's in Harrogate for Phil's Birthday brunch, visited our family friends in Leeds and just had the most wonderful time. I'm so glad we got that little weekend away considering what was around the corner!

I read a lot of books

Christ I read a lot of books this year.

My goal was 70 books.

I read double that and then some.

If there is one good thing to come out of this year it is that I read a lot. 

In 2020 I read 142 books.

Because let's face it, there wasn't much else to do!

Reading has long since been my main hobby, and this was particularly the case in 2020, where on many a weekend I'd read a whole book in a day or over a weekend. No commute meant longer evenings and more time to read, and thanks to being accepted to NetGalley this year I found myself with dozens of advanced copies to read.

The end of 2020 also marks 3 full years of reading every single day. I've managed this now every single day since the end of 2017. 

I am so so so so grateful for books and reading in 2020. I really struggled to concentrate on reading at the start of lockdown but I'm so glad I got that spark back after a few weeks!

I'll do a separate blog post on my favourite things I read in 2020.

I kind of ran a half marathon (I got a medal at least)

One of my goals for 2020 was to get back racing, and I was signed up for the Great Manchester Run Half Marathon in May, and planning to run the Manchester Half Marathon in October.

By lockdown in mid-March, I was already 6 weeks into my training and up to 9 miles on my long runs. For a long time I carried on running as normal, and in May kept my distances up by signing up to run 100km in 28 days.

Eventually the race was postponed to September, so I picked up my training again, running over 10 miles in training before the race was finally cancelled.

My place was moved over to 2021 (which seems doubtful now!) but we were allowed to get a medal if we still ran the full half marathon distance. Of course I didn't want to let all that training go to waste, so in July, I ran a full half marathon distance.

It was definitely not a PB, and it wasn't quite the same as running the Manchester streets with thousands of people cheering for you, but I ran 13.1 miles and a I got a medal, so I'm counting that as half marathon number 8.

I ran every parkrun I could possibly run

Okay this one is a bit of a cheat.

In 2019 I ran 49 parkruns. There's a parkrun challenge called "Gold level obsessive" which you achieve when you run 50+ parkruns in a calendar year and I was gutted to miss out by one measly run (to be fair, I only missed 4 parkruns in 2019 - and one was my wedding day and one was during my honeymoon - though we did manage to squeeze one in in Canada). 

So I started 2020 off right - the New Year's Day parkrun double.

We had a chill New Year's Eve and got up early to head to South Manchester parkrun, our original home parkrun when we lived in Manchester. At 9am I ran a PB there and we headed to Stretford parkrun (which became our home parkrun after it started) for the 10.30am parkrun. 

I absolutely loved doing two parkruns in one day (New Year's Day was the only day you could do it, and I think it's being abandoned now post-COVID so I'm especially glad I got to do it!) and was set on a great track record for the year.

I managed to then run every single parkrun of 2020, until it was shut down in the middle of March. So technically I did run every single parkrun 2020.

I was so so so looking forward to getting my 250 tshirt in 2020 (I'm currently on 225) and I really hope I can get it in 2021!

Other nice little things in 2020:

  • Liverpool winning the league
  • Getting really into baking bread
  • Uniqlo thermals
  • Uniqlo fleeces
  • Bamboo socks
  • Yoga
  • Daily meditation
  • Cross stitch
  • Mariokart Night
  • Working from home
  • Sugarhill Boutique jumpers
  • Baked gnocchi
  • Nice walks
  • Our first wedding anniversary
  • Depop
  • Monopoly Deal
  • Netgalley access
  • Ottolenghi recipes
  • Podcasts, always
  • Online courses with Coursera getting me through 3 months of furlough
  • Blogging again!
I'm gonna write another post on my favourite books, films, TV shows etc this year so watch this space for that!

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

25 Lipsticks of December

I'm not sure if you know this but 2020 was tough. And like everyone else I've been trying to find ways to treat myself in small ways. Last year my Mum got me a beauty advent calendar (Makeup Revolution) and it was amazing - I loved opening all the doors each day to a tiny highlighter or lipstick or bronzer. So in an attempt to treat myself I started to look into beauty advent calendars again.

Now the thing is, I'm kind of not that into makeup. I buy palettes and never wear them, I don't really know how to use highlighter and I still can't do winged eyeliner at 30.

What I do like, really, is lipstick.

So I looked on the MAC website at their advent calendar, justified the price by "this year has been tough and I haven't been anywhere" and then decided to have a think first.

And this was where the idea for my lipstick challenge came from.

The original idea was to buy a wooden advent calendar and get Phil to put one of my many lipsticks in for every day of December. I'd open the door to a lipstick and I would wear it.

Eventually. however, I realised that with one day a week furloughed and weekends spent committed to sweatpants and no makeup, there was no way I was going to wear lipstick every day for all of December. And also some days I would want a bright lip and what if on those days I pulled out a nude?

So instead I wrote out a list of 25 of my lipsticks (yes, I own more than 25...) and allocated them a different day for all of December, and on the 30th December I wore my final lipstick of the month!

I documented my lipstick each day in a Twitter thread, but here they all are together...

Top row: MAC Diva
Second row: MAC Faux, MAC Down to an Art, MAC Rebel
Third row: MAC Ruby Woo, MAC Mocha, MAC Relentlessly Red

Top row: MAC Cosmo, MAC Red, MAC Velvet Teddy
Second row: MAC Please Me, MAC Kinda Sexy, MAC Pink Pigeon
Third row: MAC Viva Glam, NARS Dragon Girl, MAC Nicki Nude

Top row: MAC D for Danger, Soap and Glory Super Nude, Soap and Glory Cinnamon Beige
Second row: MAC Mehr, MAC All Fired Up, MAC Russian Red
Third row: MAC Lady Danger, MAC Hug Me, Fenty Fiery

This was a really fun challenge to do to remind me how many lipsticks I have and how many I've forgotten about! I'm terrible for thinking "the next nude lipstick I buy will be my perfect nude!" (I think my favourite nude is Nicki's Nude and I think I knew that already!). 

There are so many lipsticks here I forgot that I love - Diva is always so much more wearable than I remember, Rebel is such a great colour I always forget about, Relentlessly Red and All Fired Up are both such fun colours for a change from red. I treated myself to Mocha and Down to an Art for this challenge and when they arrived I was convinced they were identical but they look so different on.

This was both a really great and really annoying time to do a challenge like this. Really great because I absolutely cannot stand reapply my lipstick, but also hate it as soon as it starts to wear off, so if I'd been working in the office there's no way I could have kept nipping to the toilet to touch up my lips! However being furloughed on a Friday and having no reason to put on makeup at the weekends meant that I had to do a few days of two-lipsticks-in-one-day to do my challenge in the month.

I think my main takeaway is that I love lipstick. Especially bright lipstick. It's been fun to wear a bright fun colour even on a day when I was only leaving the house to do the dog walk, and it was nice to feel dressed up for a work Teams call. It's also been fun to share my selfies on twitter every day - unsurprisingly the brighter colours got the most attention!

I can't wait to have a reason to wear lipstick to go out again, but until then I'm definitely going to consider a bright lipstick as a pick-me-up, even if it's just for Zoom!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Essential Tools for my Daily Routine - 1 Second Every Day

It was Phil that first got me into 1 Second Every Day, when he started his video on 1st January 2018.

He'd watched a TED talk by the founder and loved the idea of looking back over your year in seconds, so he started doing it himself.

Some days I know it was annoying for him to keep having to record his seconds, but soon enough everyone we knew knew what he meant by "I'm just doing my second" and it was so worth it when we could look back on every month and eventually the year.

So on 1st January 2019, I joined in.

As of right now, I am still yet to miss a day (nearly 2 years on!) . Like with HappyFeed, some days there are perfect moments to capture, and other it's just what I'm reading or what I had for dinner (or, more often than not right now, whatever Bobby is doing). A second is such a short moment in time but it's amazing how much you can capture. I post all my monthly videos on my Instagram.

It's funny how much those small seconds can give you a real picture of your life at any one time. As much as I love the second of our wedding day or our honeymoon in Canada, it's the mundane details of our life which are some of my favourites. Especially at the moment when we're doing so much work on our house it's great to see the transformation!

Like with HappyFeed it's been challenging to come up with things to record during lockdown, quite often it's just our dinner or what we're watching on TV (mostly football) or our dog walks, but it will be good to look back on. Sometimes it's hard to resist the urge to "direct" your seconds, but a lot of the time the candids really work, and I've found it's the seconds where something is moving or making noise that really work the best.

I know Phil is starting to lose momentum after 3 years and this year in particular, but I'm not close to giving up yet, even when there are days when I remember at 9.30pm I haven't done one yet and have to get a second of Bobby!

All my monthly videos are on my Instagram, and I'll post my full 2020 one on my blog at the end of the year.

Charlotte x

Monday, 30 November 2020

November Life Lately

If October was my month of DIY and horror films, November was a month of erm... reading and yoga?

November had some lovely moments but it's also been a really tough one. While we haven't been able to see people inside since September due to local restrictions, second lockdown has meant the same, and in fact, probably worse, anxieties that I had in the first lockdown, bringing with it the same bad sleep and nightmares I was having back in March and April (I'm normally a very good sleeper!) and we've had some other stuff going on as well which made the month particularly rough (spot Bobby limping in my one second video - his first panicked trip to the vets (he's fine) being one of the many tough points in the month).

But we're in December now, my tree is already up and I'm trying to enjoy the wintertime with candles and hot chocolate and the occasional Baileys. I'm looking forward to wrapping presents, and our first Christmas with Bobby, and even though Christmas is going to be a lot different this year, I'm still looking forward to giving gifts, even if it's virtually.

So here's what I got up to in November, and here's my One Second Every Day of the Month.

What I did

I sometimes joke that I'm too good at sleeping. I wake up in the most uncomfortable positions that I have no idea how my body is able to sleep in. As a result I have near-constant backache, especially at the moment when it seems my body is only able to settle when it's positioned like a pretzel.

I used to do Yoga with Adriene at least a couple of times a week when I wasn't running but it's fallen by the wayside over the last few months (especially now we have a dog to walk in the morning!). With bad sleep and anxiety and back pain, plus a disinterest in running in the dark in the mornings, I decided to do another 30 days of yoga and followed Adriene's November calendar, Ground.

I've been joking to Phil that Adriene is somehow psychic and every day the practice for the day has been exactly what I needed.

I've enjoyed it so much and it's amazing how much it helps calm me down. In the mornings I can sometimes be a bit too tired to enjoy it, but I've found it so helpful on weekend afternoons in particular, so I think I'm going to carry on every day through December, and then do the January 30 days that I do every year. 3 months of yoga every day!

On the 8th November, Phil and I celebrated 7 years together. We had originally planned to go out for dinner in Manchester, then our backup plan was a meal nearer home, and in the end we weren't able to do that either, so we got a takeaway from a restaurant we'd wanted to try for a while, got dressed up, drank a bottle of champagne left over from our wedding and watched La La Land. It was really lovely but I hope after not being able to go out for my 30th Birthday, our wedding anniversary or our 7 year anniversary we'll get a chance to properly celebrate our next milestone!

House-wise, we are really getting there! We got new floor and carpets fitted last month which have made a huge difference. We got a radiator cover for our bedroom and changed the knobs on the dressing table and we just need a few more extra bits and I think our bedroom will be nearly there! We also caved at the weekend and put up our Christmas tree and have moved into the front room for the winter.

Of all the weekly Zoom calls we had during early lockdown, there is only one we still have going, our weekly Mariokart night on a Thursday. One of our Mariokart team decided if we went into second lockdown we should do a Friday night Mariokart session and turn it into a drinking game. So we ordered a takeaway from our favourite local pizza place (Pickle Rick's, if you're in Stockport) and let the games begin. It's very hard to drink while controlling your cart, especially when one of the rules is "drink whenever you're paragliding" or "drink whenever you get hit with a shell". I managed to take a lot of baby sips and my second "gin and tonic" was water with a slice of lemon in it so I fared okay, but there were definitely some sore heads the next day!

On games, we've had a resurgence of board games in our house, our current favourite being Monopoly Deal which has made me threaten divorce on multiple occasion. Codenames Duet is also as much fun as the original Codenames, but perfect for 2 players.

I'm currently part-furloughed, which means I get Fridays off and I've now deemed it "bread Friday". I've made Nigella's sandwich loaf from Cook Eat Repeat twice (it's soooo good!), and last weekend I made naan bread. Next week is bagels!

Speaking of naan, I made them as I've seen so many people get a Dishoom breakfast naan box delivered that I decided to make them myself, especially as I've owned the Dishoom book over a year and never cooked anything from it! I made my own chilli jam, own naan and used Richmond veggie sausages, but the pièce de résistance was the unbelievable homemade chai, which is basically all I want to drink now. You can find the recipe here.

What I read

I genuinely feel like all I did in November was read. Fourteen books read last month:

You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North
A Kind of Intimacy by Jenn Ashworth
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Whites by Otegha Uwagba
Please Read this Leaflet Carefully by Karen Havelin
Gratitude by Delphine de Vigan
Consent by Annabel Lyon
People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd
The Apparition Phase by Will Maclean
So Much Blue by Percival Everett
The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin
Sabotage by Emma Gannon

There were a lot of books here which have been hanging around on my Kindle for months - The Life and Death of Sophie Stark, So Much Blue, Please Read this Leaflet Carefully and A Kind of Intimacy, all of which I really really loved.

A few Advanced Reader Copies from Netgalley here too - You Exist too Much, The Death of Vivek Oji, Consent, The Apparition Phase, Whites, Gratitude, The Smash-Up, People Like Her and Sabotage, which I listened to on audio.

People Like Her was a huge surprise and one of my favourite books of the month. I had no recollection of requesting it until I got an email saying I'd been approved, and it was the kind of thriller I wouldn't normally pick up, but I absolutely devoured it in a day and couldn't put down. It's a perfect book for reigniting you after a reading slump.

I also loved Sabotage, which is a short but punchy book, only a couple of hours on audio. I do like a bit of self-help every now and again, and this was a nice balance of kick up the arse as well as insightful help, not just fluffy self-care.

I finally caved and bought Exciting Times after accepting that after being closed since March, it was getting less and less likely I was going to be able to collect the copy of it I've had reserved at the library for the last 8 months.

What I watched

Quite a lot of films this month (mostly because of the football international break! We watched 3 films in one day one Sunday purely because there was no football on):

First time watches:
Citizen Kane
Borat Subsequent Moviefilm
His House

La La Land
Into the Spider-verse
Monsters Inc
Black Christmas

We watched La La Land on our anniversary because it's one of our favourite films (we had the soundtrack playing at our drinks reception at our wedding, and loads of the songs are on our wedding video), and in our three-films-in-one-day we watched Into the Spider-verse (maybe one of my top 10 favourite films?!), Monsters Inc and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

We also watched Elf while we put up the tree, and had a festive horror double-bill with Krampus and the incredible Black Christmas last weekend.

We watched Citizen Kane to prepare for David Fincher's Mank coming out this week (Fincher is my favourite director) and planned to have a classic film month but this kind of fell off a cliff after Citizen Kane.

Finally, we watched His House at the weekend which I highly, highly recommend. I genuinely can't stop thinking about it.

TV-wise, like everyone else we've started The Queen's Gambit. We've watched about 4 episodes so far. We also found ourselves hooked into The Undoing and I adore Nigella's new tv series, Cook, Eat, Repeat.

What I loved

One of my best friends, Meg, has an Etsy store making seasonal decorations and she has made me THE MOST AMAZING FELT VERSION OF BOBBY. Look how thrilled he is!

Seriously my dog has a problem with resting-unimpressed-face.

Anyway, if you want a felt version of your furry pal, or an adorable smiley sprout, or a felt Father Christmas for your tree, head over to Sleighed on Etsy, and use the code SLEIGHGNDF for 10% off when you spend £5.

Speaking of Etsy, my other friend, Kris is making amazing homemade earrings and I got 2 pairs this week which I am veryyyyy excited about! You can visit her store here.

And finally, Christmas came early for me last month with the news that my favourite podcast, What Page Are You On?, is back! WPAYO in the reason I read so many books, that I'm so excited about books and that I follow so many cool ladies on Twitter these days. Even better, the podcast is now weekly. It's my favourite thing to remember on my Furlough Friday that there's a new episode to listen to!

What I wrote

What I read online

Alicia Kennedy - On "health"
New York Times - How to worry mindfully
Writing Between Pauses - 4 Ideas for holiday self care
The Aesthetics of Joy - How to make chores more joyful
Writing Between Pauses - 3 Things to do when you feel anxious

Wishing you a cosy December!

Charlotte x