Saturday, 5 August 2017

July Life Lately

July 2017. The month WE FINALLY MOVED INTO OUR HOUSE! Finally. It happened. After 9 months of trying to buy a house, two houses, 5 months of living with my parents, we did it. We moved in.

I could just end this blog post there. There have been other things going on, of course, but really, it's been 90% house. Talking about the house, buying things for the house, walking around the house, saying "bye house, I love you" when I go to work, sorting out council tax and water bills and gas and electric and TV licenses.

It's been busy. Getting back into the routine of adult life is hard. The food shopping, the cleaning, the meal planning, the organising, the bills. I feel like I've not done an awful lot this month, but I also feel exhausted!

Blogging has taken a huge back seat lately. I'm not super inspired to write blog-style content, I'm super-busy, and when I am writing, it's for my newsletter. It's been really refreshing to experiment with a new content form, and I've been really enjoying trying something new. I'll always come back to this blog, and there will always be at least one of these posts every month, but for now I'm really enjoying writing email content instead. So if you're missing my mindless rambles, make sure you sign up to my email!

Anyway, here's what's been going on this month...

What I've been doing
So obviously, we bought a house! And we've been buying things for the house and moving things around in the house and living in the house and still not quite believing this is our house. We've spent nearly 5 hours in IKEA. We bought a vacuum and a lawn mower and new plates and tea towels and cushions and photo frames and clothes rails. It's all kinds of weird and stressful and exciting.
I might write about this in more detail in another post (or more likely, in my newsletter) but the weirdest thing has been the realisation that 1) this is our house and 2) we could live here for an infinite amount of time. Before I've only really lived in temporary accommodation - university halls, living abroad, renting our flat in Manchester. It's weird thinking that we could knock walls down or build new rooms or completely rip things out. Obviously we aren't going to right now, but it's weird to have that option.

Right now it's a bit overwhelming, there's a lot of house and there's a lot to clean, but it's so amazing to finally be in!
Another awesome thing that happened this month - I ran my 100th parkrun! It was such an amazing day. We went to Heaton parkrun because they have milestone vests so I got to wear this fetching 100 bib and I got a shout out at the start and loads of people were saying congratulations! It was amazing. There's a huge backlog on tshirts so I won't be getting mine for a while, but who would have thought 4 years ago I'd have done 100 parkruns?
Similarly fitness-related, I mentioned this last month, but Phil and I have started to do British Military Fitness and it's awesome! I go once a week as I'm in the middle of half marathon training at the moment, and Phil goes twice, and we love it. It's challenging, of course, but it's so much fun. You get your first session free so you can try it out and we were hooked right away. Every session is different, it's a great group of people and you can really push yourself while having a great time. If you're into fitness at all I really recommend it.
And one more milestone this month, I had my 10th blood donation! About 3 years ago I went to give blood and was told I was anaemic and wasn't about to donate for a year, so I'm so glad I can give again. I feel so strongly about giving blood and I'm always trying to drag people along with me. My Dad recently found out he isn't able to donate any more and he was devastated he can't keep helping, so if you want to sign up, do it for my Dad!

What I've bought
Did I mention I bought a house? Haha! Not much this month which could probably be expected. I did get two brilliant new recipe books though - Love Real Food and Fresh India. I absolutely love Kate's blog so I was so excited for her book. I'm currently working through that for a review on the blog, and Fresh India is one of those books I keep picking up and browsing through. Everything just looks so delicious!
And finally, something I bought, although not for myself was a recipe book for my Mum from This is Your Cookbook. As I was moving out and I did most of the cooking at home, I decided to make her a cookbook for her Birthday full of recipes I'd made for her while I'd lived at home. It was hard work and time consuming to type up 36 recipes, but it looks so professional and was such a great gift!

What I've been eating
I've been kind of obsessed with the air fryer tofu that Gemma kept posting on Instagram and Twitter and decided I really wanted an air fryer of my own. Luckily I remembered my Nan had one, and after my Mum had a chat with her, it turns out she's never used it and was happy to give it to me as a moving in present! I've only used it a few times so far (it's huge!) but so far it had made excellent chips and wonderful crispy tofu, so it's definitely a keeper!
I mentioned before the book, Fresh India, and a few weeks ago my Mum came over for dinner so I decided to make a selection of dishes from the book. We had baked onion bhajis, paneer skewers, a dal, some dips and chutneys, rice and naan and it was excellent! I'm really excited to cook more from that book!
Last week, my friend Riven and I were wondering where to have dinner when we decided it was time I lost my pho virginity. We went to Pho in the Corn Exchange for my first ever bowl. I especially enjoyed adding all the toppings!
It was my colleague's Birthday last week so I trawled through my Pinterest to find a recipe she'd sent me about a year ago - salted caramel cookie bars. They were super easy to make and oh god so good. Definitely making them again!

What I've been watching
We've had a few cinema trips this month. We've been to see It Comes at Night, which was a nice surprise and I'm glad we'd read a few reviews because I don't think it was what a lot of people expected. We also watched War for the Planet of the Apes after working our way through the previous films - this one was definitely my favourite. And finally, Dunkirk in IMAX, which was absolutely incredible.
We've also been watching a lot of TV - we finally, after over two years, finished the US Office this weekend. I felt the last couple of seasons were a bit disappointing, but now going back and rewatching old episodes we've remembered how brilliant it is. We've also obviously been watching Game of Thrones and this week finished The Handmaid's Tale. The book absolutely changed my life as a teenager and I believe it was one of the reasons I went to university to study literature, and as a woman and a feminist, I don't think there's been a more poignant time for this adaptation. I thought everything about it was brilliant.
Oh and we finally watched The Room for the first time. OH HAI MARK.


What I've been reading
I've read 3 books this month. I really loved Skippy Dies which took me most of the month at 600+ pages, but was a really enjoyable read that I find myself still thinking about.
I also absolutely adored Anything is Possible, the latest Elizabeth Strout. I've read three of her books and she is just the most amazing writer. Her books are just about... life, but they are so beautiful. I nearly had a cry multiple times reading this.

Finally, I read The Girls over the course of a weekend. I found the writing way too over the top,  however it was a nice, fast-paced read and I did find myself getting through it quickly.

What I've been reading online
The Pool - Should we be better at bragging?
The Pool - Overcoming envy is one of the most useful things you can do in your 30s
Ask Polly - It seems like my friends don't like me
The Pool - Sick days should be used for mental health too
The Pool - Worrying about wellness is bad for you - on lots of levels
Rosie - How to slow time
Vix Meldrew - The Worst thing about mental illness
The Pool - Can you be a feminist and not have every little decision, hobby and opinion questioned at length by asshats?
Vix - Life on Anti Depressants

What I'm excited for
We've got lots going on in August - I think we're busy every weekend! The thing I'm most excited about though is going to Whitby! We didn't go last year after going two years ago and three years ago, so I'm looking forward to getting away for a break.

Hope you've had a great July!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Cookbook review: The Roasting Tin

For all my recipe-book-buying, I have to admit that I'm not that creative in the kitchen.
I guess these two go hand in hand - I'm not very good at creating something from scratch and I need someone to tell me what to do.

I nearly always follow recipes, and while I do make the occasional substitution (am I hell paying for pine nuts - sunflower seeds will be fine), I tend to play it quite safe.

I was supposed to be on a recipe-book-buying-ban (aren't I always trying, unsuccessfully, to be on one of those?!), when I came across this book via my friend Sarah, who had won it at work. I was intrigued by the easy concept and the hands-off nature, especially after a long day at work. However, I wasn't sure how meat-centric the recipes might be with it being a book dedicated entirely to roasting.

Sarah assured me there were plenty of veggie recipes, and then the author joined in the conversation too, and said there were lots of veggie and fish recipes, plus the infographics at the start of each chapter made everything easy to adapt.

I was intrigued! And after a quick flick through in Oliver Bonas waiting for a train, I of course, bought it.


First Impressions


First impressions was that there were indeed plenty of veggie recipes and plenty that I was excited about. There were even a few meat recipes I wondered how I could adapt! I did especially love the infographics at the start of each chapter which gave you a bit of a formula and timings to adapt the recipes for whatever you fancied (or had in your fridge).

I was intrigued by the "one-pan-meal" element of it, as I'm usually quite wary of that, and as a volume-eater, I always wonder what side dishes I might need or if I'll be hungry after. Some dishes seemed to be veggie-only and didn't have recommendations for what to serve them with, and I couldn't be sure if this was because they could stand alone, or if you were supposed to supplement them with a side dish or some carbs.

Anyway, here's what I made...

Steam-roasted salmon & broccoli with lime, ginger, garlic & chilli
At my parents', we usually have at least two meals across the four of us. You'd think I was the awkward one as a veggie, but it's actually my Dad who proves to be the most awkward, as both my Mum and Phil will eat whatever I cook.

So making this for all four of us was a risk.

However, we had four completely clean plates! This was super quick, easy and delicious - definitely one I'll be making again! The only annoying thing is I can't remember what I served it with, but I think it was cauliflower rice or mash (must make better notes going forward!).
(Fancy giving it a go? You can find the recipe here)

Spiced cauliflower, sweet potato and okra with yoghurt
So as you might see from the photos, no okra here. Not something I can get easily in Aldi! So with my new-found veg-swapping confidence, I used courgettes instead.
God this was so unbelievably delicious. So so so so so good. I could eat it again right now. The flavours were so tasty and it was so easy to make, plus I think you could easily swap in any other vegetables you fancy.
It took about an hour in total, but it's very hands off, so it's nice time to curl up with a book rather than having to jump up and stir something every 5 minutes!
Worth adding - I nearly didn't bother with the almonds but I'm so glad I did.

Crispy olive and pine nut cod
Okay in this case I think I made too many substitutions. I used sunflower seeds (as mentioned earlier) rather than pine nuts and they didn't really crisp, plus I think using frozen and then defrosted fish made this a bit watery, so it didn't really taste of anything. However I enjoyed using a mix of veg not just tomatoes - I used courgettes, tomatoes and peppers. Next time, more olive tapenade!

Ras el Hanout Slow roasted mushrooms with pine nuts, halloumi and parsley
Ooh this one is super yum. I've actually made it twice now. It takes a little longer than some of the other recipes - about an hour and 20 - so it's a little bit long for us midweek. I love swapping some of the mushrooms out for sweet potatoes which make it more of a complete meal. The second time I made this we had it with houmous and pitta and it was amazing. This is definitely one of my favourites from the book.

Bulgur wheat with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, feta and pine nuts
This is one of the quicker recipes, and we had this as a side dish at a bit of a mini BBQ we had a few weeks ago (okay, we just got the George Foreman out, but it was close enough!). I had this alongside veggie and halloumi kebabs and salad and it was the perfect side dish. I might reduce the bulgur wheat next time if I was going to have this alone, or serve it again as a side dish. I also like this recipe because it's very easy and full of things I usually have in my storecupboard!

Squash, aubergine and halloumi
This was one of the only recipes I probably wouldn't make again. It was nice and had some of my favourite things in it - halloumi, aubergine, butternut squash - but I found it a little bit dry. This might be another that is better as a side as it's quite heavy on the bulgur.

Spiced roast aubergine and potatoes with coconut basmati
I managed to get Phil to eat aubergine, which is always an achievement. I absolutely loved this, especially with the coconut rice which I almost didn't bother with. What I love about this book is it's so adaptable - I added mushrooms and next time I'm going to swap the aubergines for courgettes to appease Phil's aubergine dislike. I'm actually planning to make this again this week!

Honey-roasted carrots and parsnips with quinoa and rocket
I still can't decide how I felt about this one. It tasted a bit like Christmas, thanks to the rosemary and some leftover sage I threw in. I found the honey made it a bit too sweet. I'm still a bit unconvinced by cooking quinoa in the oven and some bits still felt a bit gritty, and I added extra water because I felt unsure it was going to work! This was another that I think might work as a lovely, wintery side dish, but on its own was a little bit dry and repetitive. Maybe some chickpeas or lentils would help bulk it out, or oooh, veggie sausages! Maybe I'll try that next time.

Sage-roasted butternut squash and mushrooms with feta and tomatoes
Annoyingly, I forgot to make notes on this recipe! BUT I remember it being really, really good and I loved the mustard-y rocket on the side (however, it didn't keep well with the dressing on, surprisingly). I loved the melty hot feta. Ooh yum, definitely making this again.

Conclusion

This is one of the best books I've bought in ages. I absolutely love it. It's perfect for when I'm super busy, because I can just throw everything in the oven and forget about it.

My next step is going to be looking through the meat recipes and seeing how I can adapt them to be veggie-friendly, as this book has given me loads of inspiration to experiment and not just follow the steps.

I bought this book for my Mum for her Birthday and I can't stop recommending it to people. I know loads of people who have bought it after I've raved about it so much!

It's perfect for busy people, quick and straightforward, and I love that I can get on with other things when I don't have time to stand over the hob. It makes excellent lunchbox leftovers too!

I can't recommend this book enough!

Charlotte x

Monday, 3 July 2017

June Life Lately

So this month I almost finished a blog post that wasn't a panicked end-of-the-month life lately post. Almost! BUT I did start a newsletter! So I wrote stuff! Yay!

Here's what else I've been up to this month...

What I've been doing

I would say there have been three main themes in June - my newsletter, my marketing diploma and running, or lack thereof.

At 3am on the morning of the 2nd of June, I woke up and nervously checked my phone. And relief. I'd passed my strategic marketing module! This was the exam I worried and stressed and revised for days and days and days for. The two month wait to get my results had been painful, and I was so relived to have passed!
I also handed in my digital strategy coursework this week. At 32 pages and almost 10,000 words it was almost twice as long as my dissertation! I still keep panicking about mistakes and I doubled checked multiple times I'd uploaded the right version. Now to wait for another two months for the results!

As I mentioned in my (very short) last post, I've started a newsletter! I've sent two issues out so far, and I'm hoping to keep it going every week or so. It's been a really nice intimate space to write without as much expectation. I'm still trying to work out my structure and format but I'm finding it a really freeing format. Sign up here.
Finally, running or lack thereof. A few weeks ago we decided to do a free 5K fun run because you got a medal and a tshirt and I like free tshirts and Phil likes medals. 

So in the last 18 months I've run a marathon and two sub 2 hour half marathons. And during a 5K fun run, I got injured. I cried crossing the finish line. I could barely walk. 
So the last few weeks have been awful. I'm incredibly impatient so I was constantly pushing myself too much too quickly to get better. I'm now only one parkrun away from my 100th, which I've been desperate to get to, so having to volunteer instead of running hasn't been great. But after a lot of walking and strengthening exercises, I think I'm nearly there now. I've managed two parkruns and a few mid weeks runs, so I'm hoping to be back on the horse now!

Now even though this was a July thing, this weekend Phil and I went to British Military Fitness for the first time and it was both awesome and incredibly hard! We've signed up for two months so fingers crossed I'm still doing it once a week next month!

Where I've been

June has been quite quiet, but we have managed a few trips out.
A few weeks ago for a break from my coursework we had a little date-afternoon. We went to Bundobust for okra fries (THE BEST) and cumin-spiced lemonade (for me, and peach beer for Phil), dinner in The Indian Tiffin Room and a posh gin and a film at Home. It's weird, but we don't miss living in town in the slightest. I'm so surprised because I loved living in the city so so so much, but even when we make a little trip into town I don't pine for it. Apparently we're ready for suburban life! Days like this just prove it really isn't hard for us to still enjoy the restaurants and bars and entertainment of the city, and get back home in the evening. 
This month I fulfilled one of my life-long dreams and went to see Penn and Teller perform. It was absolutely incredible - we got to see some classic tricks up close (WHERE DO THE GOLDFISH COME FROM?!) and a few new ones. It really reignited my love of magic and now I just want to watch magic shows forever.
Then just this weekend we had a tiny little mini mini break to Chester for the night. We went down on Friday and had some drinks near our hotel, then on Saturday went to parkrun (stipulation of going away for the weekend was that there had to be a parkrun nearby for me to do number 98!) and then spent the day exploring Chester. It was very chilled out - we had brunch, wandered around the shops and walked along the walls. We played a little game where we had a £30 budget to buy each other something. You picked what you wanted, but it made it fun to buy something you might not ordinarily buy, and then you get the joy of buying a gift AND thee joy of receiving one! Phil bought me a dress for holiday, and I bought him a tshirt. Every is a winner!

What I've bought
Phil and I have a real thing for prints, and we're really excited to buy more things for on our wall when we get into our house (we'd definitely ran out of room in our flat!). One thing we'd wanted for years was a Manchester print, but we'd been struggling to find one that had everything on it we wanted. When I saw this Ella Masters print on Instagram I immediately screenshotted it to sent to Phil and knew it was the one. It's absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to give it pride of place in our house!
I obviously bought another recipe book. And it's an absolute beast.

I buy probably 70% of my clothes from Oasis. I live in floral tshirts, jeans and ballet flats. I got my 8th floral tshirt yesterday. I know what I like, okay? But what I always fall down on is buying things full price, because the Oasis sale is incredible. The number of times I've bought something full price only to find it in the sale a few weeks later! So when I tried a £45 floral embroided jumper on in February, I knew I had to play the long game. And I'm happy to confirm, just 5 months later, that jumper is mine! (I'm yet to wear it so no photo yet!)

What I've been eating
To control my ever-growing recipe book addiction, I have decided to go back to reviewing them on my blog. I find this helps me from getting overwhelmed by my collection and helps me control my indecision (which might be this week's newsletter topic). So this month I've been eating almost entirely from The Roasting Tin - review coming soon!

What I've been reading
I've been a bit crap at reading lately, but I really, really loved The Other Mrs Walker, which I read this month and would definitely recommend it!

What I've been watching
Maybe the reason I haven't been reading much this month is because I've been watching a lot!

I've been to the cinema 4 times this month. I bloody adored Wonder Woman and was absolutely thrilled at how good it was. I'm not super into comic book film, but I'll go see a good one and I thought it was absolutely brilliant and so empowering!

We also saw My Cousin Rachel, which was really good, and My Life as Courgette, which was very well done, if a bit overhyped.

But the best film of the month, which we managed to catch a week and a half ahead of release thanks to our Cineworld Unlimited Cards, was Baby Driver. The soundtrack was brilliant, it was so much fun, and I can't wait to see it again.

We've watched a few films at home this month, notably, Annie Hall, which was the first time for both of us! Phil is also really exited to see the new Planet of the Apes film, so we watched the Rise of the Planet of the Apes as I hadn't see it. It was so much better than I expected it to be, and I'm looking forward to watching the second one before we catch the new one!
We also, sadly, finished Parks and Recreation this week. It was my second time watching it all the way through, but Phil's first time, and it was so great to get to share it with someone! I cried all over again at the finale.

What I've loved
My absolute favourite podcast, Revisionist History, came back this month, and if you haven't listened to it, you should. There have only been 3 episodes so far, but I'm excited to see if it will be as incredible as the first season.

As I've started my own newsletter this month, I've been enjoying a few of my old favourites, Shmancy, and Amy's newsletter.
Sometimes when you have a rubbish week at work you should find amazing friends who make you awesome and wonderful homemade presents like my friend Riven did last week.

What I've been reading online
The Pool - Are you an unpaid emotional labourer?
The Pool - What happens when a digital devoted family goes offline?
Medium - How to better manage your time and energy
The Muse - The simple trick that makes morning more productive
The Pool - The DIY stain removal we all need in our handbags
A Rosie Outlook - The Penultimate time I will come here
Vix Meldrew - Mental Illness and why I neglect myself
Vix Meldrew - Stop sun shaming
37 Tweets that sum up being an introvert

What I'm excited for
Hopefully moving house! God buying a house takes forever, but hopefully this is the month! So that means I have nothing else planned for July as we're hoping to be busy moving boxes and painting walls!

Charlotte x

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

I've started a newsletter!


So I'm trying something a bit different! I've started a newsletter. I promise this will in-no-way replace or duplicate the content of my blog, but I fancied trying a new format, and I've fallen in love with so many great newsletters recently I thought I'd give it a shot!

The first issue will be out this week, and I'll be figuring out the format and content and frequency as I go. So sign up below to get me in your inbox!




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Wednesday, 31 May 2017

May Life Lately

I feel like I can't start this post, can't blog, without mentioning what a strange, awful, incomprehensible week this has been as someone who was born and raised in Manchester. 

I've written my love letter to my city time and time again, and I never get bored of talking about how much I love Manchester. For me, it's not an exaggeration to say it's the greatest city in the world. Of course, I'm biased, but no matter where I've travelled - London, New York, Washington DC, Dublin, Liverpool, Birmingham - I've always known that my heart is in Manchester.

So when I woke up last Tuesday morning to a Facebook notification - "Your friends want to know if you are safe", then "bomb in Manchester", my world stopped. 

I woke Phil up, crying, "something has happened. Something has happened here." I cried all morning, watching the news. I went for a run and burst into tears as soon as I stopped.

If I'm honest, it's still not sunk in. When I see my city on the news. When I see my city's name in the tweets of Barack Obama. When I see photos of a house raided 100 yards from my beloved city centre flat. When we hold a minute's silence. When I visit what's become a memorial in St Ann's Square. When I think of the concerts I attended at the arena from being 7, up until last year. The happy memories I spent there. None of it feels real. That it happened here.

There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said. But I have never been prouder to be a Manc. Never been prouder of my city or the people in it. Amongst the heartbreak, we have worked together. Red with blue. Labour with Conservative. Regardless of age and gender and race and politics and social standing, we have all been united. 

And never have I felt it more than standing at the start line of the Great Manchester Run Half Marathon. We all stood in silence, with tears in our eyes. The whole city soundless. Some raising money for the victims, some with yellow ribbons or bee tattoos. All of us thinking of our city, damaged, but never broken. The silence finished with the opening bars of Don't Look Back in Anger, and there, we all stood and sung.

The race almost didn't happen, and I would have been heartbroken, but I understood. But we had to run. We had to show solidarity for our city. We had to run for Manchester. The Great Manchester Run is one of the best running events in the world. We were all there for a reason. A charity, a PB, a laugh, a run. For me, my fourth Great Manchester Run, and taking part in the inaugural half marathon distance. And remembering 4 years ago when I watched my best friend run the race and thinking, I want to run, I want to do that. I owe the Great Manchester Run everything for giving me the inspiration to lace up my trainers and see what I was capable of.

There's so much more to say, but I'm not the person to say it. So if you haven't already heard it or read it, I direct you to Tony Walsh's poem, This is the place, which sums up Manchester better than I ever could. It brings me to tears every time.

This is the place - Tony Walsh

Okay so now I'm suitably sobbing, let me tell you what else I've been doing this month...

What I've been doing
So as I mentioned at the start, running. On Sunday I ran the Great Manchester Run Half Marathon. I was hoping for another sub- 2 hour and would have liked a PB. It was a very emotional run, an amazing course, but a very humid and warm day.

I was having a really great run and pacing really well without getting too ahead of myself, but I was really feeling it from mile 9 onwards! The sub 2 hour pacer overtook me at mile 12 and I had to give everything I had to get me through that last mile. It was tough and awful but wonderful and amazing. I ran 1:59:39 but I did not care for a second that I missed my PB by a few seconds!
In preparation, Phil and I also ran a very hilly Heaton Park 10K a few weeks ago, which was great fun, although the toughest 10K I've ever run!
Wow, sorry this is very running-themed, but I also volunteered at parkrun last weekend, which I loved! I don't like to run the day before a big race, so I marshalled my local course instead. It was so fun that my mouth was hurting from smiling so much! Everyone was so lovely and it's so nice to give something back.
When Phil and I lived in town, we used to walk past the theatre every day, and we saw a poster for The Crucible. As neither of us had read the play but had heard great things about it, we decided to book tickets. So we had a little date this month and had dinner and went to see The Crucible at the Opera House. It was brilliant and a really nice night out.

Finally, last week my friend Eve and I went to see comedian Juliette Burton on the recommendation of my colleague, Charlotte. She was brilliant and lovely and funny and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for her in the future. She talks brilliantly about mental health, feminism and the importance of kindness and looking after each other. Her show was a preview of her Edinburgh Fringe show so if you're attending, make sure you keep an eye out for her.

Where I've been
Okay, technically last month, but over the first bank holiday weekend, Phil and I went away to the Lake District with Phil's parents. We went a few years ago just the two of us, and we'd been desperate to go back. It was exactly the weekend we needed - board games, cosy pubs, long walks and unexpectedly good weather! We also both smashed parkrun PBs at Fellfoot parkrun - one of the most beautiful parkruns we've ever done!
Last weekend, we headed to Wales to celebrate two of our best friends getting married! When I first met Phil, he and Simon lived together, so Si and Meg were the first friends of Phil's I ever met. Over the years we've spent so much time together, and we know a lot of their friends and family, so we've been counting down to their wedding for months! As expected, I cried, a LOT. I cried during the vows, as they left the church, during the speeches... It was honestly one of the best weddings I've ever been to - I didn't want to go home! Such a beautiful wedding for such an amazing couple - I wish we could do it all over again!

We've also been to a christening this month. One of my oldest friends, Katy, and her husband, Jonny, had a beautiful little girl, Niamh, so we had a lovely day with family friends celebrating her christening! It was such a lovely day of catching up with old friends.

What I've been loving
One of my goals for this month was to practise yoga more so I've made a real conscious effort do include more yoga in my life. I've practised at least twice a week, if not more, throughout the month and it's definitely been helping my brain.
After reviewing Ruby Tandoh's Flavour a few months ago, I started to follow her on Twitter and heard about her mental health zine, Do what you want. I preordered it back in March and it arrived this month. It's absolutely beautiful. It's full of inspiring stories, essays, recipes and illustrations about what it's like to live with mental health conditions, and all the proceeds go to charity. You can sign up to preorder a copy from the new run.
Remember last month when I received a cross-stitch of Phil and I from Phil's sister for my birthday? I got another homemade birthday present this month! When my colleagues told me back in March one of my presents would be arriving late, I had no idea what it would be. I thought it might be something being shipped from abroad and that was why it was so late. Nope, it was that my colleague, Rachel, was making me a mug in her ceramics class! It's so wonderful and I love having a brew out if it at work!

This month I got back into doing my nails, which is a small thing but it really makes me happy. I got my Sensationail kit back out and started to dedicated half an hour or so a week to doing my nails and really taking care in getting them right. I'm now managing to get about 8 days out of my weekly manicures which is really exciting! I also bought two new nail polish colours this month - Masterplan and Cocktail Bling, both Essie.

In the words of Arthur, having fun isn't hard when you've got a library card. I am so grateful to work so close to the library and be able to read so many brilliant books! I love my Kindle but I love being able to loan thousands of books for free from my local library - it's saved me so much money, even if I am a bit wonky from lugging a hardback book around most of the time!

I started doing morning pages back in March on the lead-up to my marketing exam when I was feeling particularly anxious, but I got out of the habit and couldn't get back into it. Last week I noticed I wasn't using my mornings as well as I used to, and I got myself back into the habit of being back from a run or done from a workout by 6.20, to give myself half an hour or so to read and do my morning pages. I really find it's a great help to manage all the swirling thoughts I have in my head all the time!

I'm always looking for new podcasts, and this month my friend Cate recommended Beautiful Anonymous and it's brilliant. I'd heard the odd few episodes on This American Life and I am hooked!

What I've bought
Two impulsive clothing purchases this month! One was a red and white striped top I spotted on Olivia's Instagram story and had to have, and another, a banana-print dress on my friend Laura's Instagram which I couldn't resist...
When Phil and I went to see Alien:Covenant this month, Phil wore his Alien tshirt from Last Exit to Nowhere and I've always been jealous of his ridiculous film-themed clothing collection (many of which I bought him! edit: as I went to add that link I saw they have an American Psycho tshirt that I now need!). I've always wanted a tshirt relating to my favourite film, Fight Club, so I decided to see if I could find one. And 10 minutes after searching, I was £9 poorer but with a Paper Street Soap Company tshirt winging its way over from ebay!
And of course, I bought a recipe book. Argh! I need to stop! I have SO many I haven't used or barely used that I'm shaming myself into making sure I use the ones I have before I get any more. But I read about this after Sarah posted an Instagram about it and I couldn't resist. Once my next lot of coursework is in and I'm back to blogging regularly again I'm going to go back to reviewing a cookbook every month or so cause it really keeps me honest and focused!

What I've been eating
Apparently a lot of curry! I got a few great recipe books for my Birthday back in March, and this month I had a go at a few recipes from Prashad and Prashad at Home. I made the paneer masala with homemade pilau rice and it was incredible.
This month I also discovered my perfect chana masala. Now, I eat a lot of chana masala. Along with dal, it's my favourite Indian food and probably one of my actual favourite foods, and I'm always experimenting with new ways to make it. Well, I can look no further. Minimalist Baker's chana masala is the one. 
This month I also went to Lily's, a vegetarian cafe in Ashton I've heard nothing but amazing things about. It did not disappoint. In fact, the only problem was that I struggled to decide what to order! There were half a dozen kinds of dal! We had three different kinds of paneer on the table so I really am living my best life.

What I've been watching
Three cinema trips this month. The first was to see The Birds at Home cinema. Phil was taking a Hitchcock course at Manchester Library so I came along to a screening of The Birds. Phil has been educating me in Hitchcock films, but this was my first time seeing The Birds. I loved it!

We also went to see the new Guardians of the Galaxy, which we both enjoyed, and Alien: Covenant, which I enjoyed for the first hour and a half, then thought was a bit silly, but for the most part was exactly what I expected from an Alien film.

I'm still working my way through Gilmore Girls and I've just started the second series. I secretly love it when Phil goes out so I can have a night in watching it! We also finished The People vs. OJ Simpson this month (I know, we're always very late to the party) which we thought was brilliant, and we're now kind of fascinated by the whole case.
But the best thing I've watched this month is obviously The Handmaid's Tale. This was my favourite book as a teenager and I honestly believe it changed my life. I studied it at A level and it was the first book that really made me sit up, as a woman, as a feminist, as a literature student. I believe it was the book that made me want to study English literature at uni (I even dug out my old annotated A level copy this month!). The adaptation is so brilliant, I'm so glad it's on Channel 4 now, cause I watched the first three and now I'm making Phil watch it all again with me. Absolutely brilliant, looks incredible, such a great adaptation and so terrifyingly poignant.

What I've been reading
Last month, I managed to get hold of a copy of Daisy Buchanan's How to be a grown up from my local library. I'd heard great things about the book, love Daisy's work, and I knew this was going to be perfect for me. I devoured it, making notes as I went, and I was absolutely devastated to take it back to the library, vowing I'd buy my own copy one day.
Then a few days later, Phil told me he'd bought me a present. My own copy! He said he knew how much I loved the book and thought it seemed "really good for me", so now I have my own copy, and I know I'm going to re-read it all the time. If you're in your 20s and feeling a bit lost (don't we all?!) you need to read this book.

After reading Shirley Jackson's short stories last month, I borrowed The Haunting of Hill House from the library. I enjoyed it, but nowhere near as much as her other work.
Finally I read We Should all be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in an hour on a quiet Bank Holiday Monday. Wow, it's absolutely beautiful. She writes about how to raise little girls as feminists so sensibly and so calmly and so strongly, wow, it's just incredible. I need to reread this in the future when I'm thinking of having children. If you haven't read this, do.

What I've been reading online

Buzzfeed - 9 things I thought I'd be by 37

The Pool - Why do people presume I'm at the gym to lose weight?
Yes yes yes yes yes! I hate this assumption, especially as a runner. I run because I love to run, I love to push myself, I love to challenge myself. Not to lose weight! It's ideas like this that make me not ever want to join a gym.

Little Coffee Fox - 13 ways to improve your morning routine and have a more productive day
My morning routine fell off the rails a bit this month, and this really encouraged me to get my focus back. I've tried to get back into morning pages (going well), attempting to put my feet on the floor before I look at my phone (not going well) and I'm doing yoga a few more days a week. I'm currently in recovery from my race at the moment so my routine is a bit off, but next week I'll be back to 5.30am alarms and productive mornings.

Amy - We all tell white lies on social media

Yes and yes - Stop crowding out your happiness
I definitely needed to hear this. I am terrible for this. I'm always writing to-do lists in my head while I'm out with friends, or thinking of what I need to do later when I'm watching a film with Phil. It's exhausting.

The Gender rules of household chores: A feminist comic
We split chores very well in our house, but I am definitely our "manager" and constantly exhausted by thinking of all the things that need doing and managing everyone's diary. I related to this a lot.

Niamh Caitlin -  My heart is reeling
A brilliant post by my cousin Niamh after the Manchester attacks

Introverts don't hate people, they hate shallow socialising
I relate to this so much. I wouldn't necessarily describe myself as an introvert but I have a lot of social anxiety and this hit the nail on the head.

The Psychological Importance of Wasting Time
One of my goals for June (which I'll come to at the end) is to be kinder to myself, and one of the ways I'm going to do that is by "wasting time", something I really struggle with. I found this article really helpful.

A Rosie Outlook - How I found my way out
I'm a huge fan of Rosie's blog, especially her honest posts like this which really inspire me. She's been through a really difficult time lately and she wrote this beautiful post on all the little things that have helped her get through. This is one I want to save for the future or whenever I need inspiration to pick me up.

The Pool - How to be a leader in your own life

What I'm excited for

After 8 long, long, long, long, LONG LONG LONG months, we are finally nearly there with our house and fingers crossed, should be moving in in July! WE ARE SO EXCITED. My parents have been absolutely incredible letting us live with them for the last 4 months and we could not have coped without them, but we are so excited to have our own place again and be HOMEOWNERS! We went to see our house again at the weekend and we love it even more than last time. CANNOT WAIT.

Not loads of other stuff going on next month really, but are going to fulfil one of my lifelong dreams and we're going to see Penn and Teller! A few years ago I made Phil promise that if they came to Manchester we had to go, and I cannot wait. I've loved them since I was a kid and I've always been obsessed with magic. It's going to be incredible.

June goals

As I mentioned earlier, one of my goals for June is to be a little bit kinder to myself. I put way too much pressure on myself to do more and be more and always push myself, and I am always just so hard on myself! I want to speak to myself and treat myself like I would a friend, and that means giving myself a chance to do things I enjoy, buying myself things without beating myself up, spending money without feeling guilty, and giving myself a chance to relax and rest. Easier said than done, I'm sure.

I've really enjoyed doing more yoga this month so I want to carry on practising a few times a week. I think one of the things I love most about yoga is that I'm crap at it but I don't care. I'm not flexible at all, and I struggle a lot, but I don't care that I'm bad because it makes me feel so good. I think practising with Adriene really helps, because she is so lovely and motivating and such a brilliant teacher. I couldn't recommend Yoga with Adriene more.

I want to focus on my mornings again this month. I want to try not to use my phone before 7am and after 9pm, I want to do morning pages every day, I want to do yoga a few mornings a week and I want to give myself that time again to get focused for my day.

Finally, I want to focus on one thing at a time. I'm awful for watching a film while scrolling through Instagram and reading a recipe book. And I enjoy whatever I'm doing so much more when I don't do 10 things at once!

I hope to be back to regular blogging soon (although it's taken me 5 sessions to get this post finished so I could have written 5 other posts in this time!) but I'm kind of overwhelmed with coursework, house moving and everything else and I just haven't had the inspiration or motivation lately, so in the interest of being kind to myself, I haven't been forcing it. I'm hoping inspiration strikes soon, but hopefully after my coursework is done!
Charlotte x