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!

powered by TinyLetter

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

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

April Life Lately

So if you haven't guessed from my lack of blogging over the month, April has been hard bloody work.

It started with my exam on the 4th. The culmination of 6 months of work and 8 weeks of coursework, revision, sitting inside and moaning about revising while it's gorgeous outside, stress and tears.

Fortunately the exam wasn't too bad, 3 hours flew by, and despite some hand cramp and a trip to the bathroom, I survived with a pack of fruit pastilles.

But then a few days later, just when my stress levels were returning from unbelievably high to just normally high, we got some bad news.

I'll spare you the boring details (because god I'm tired of going over it again and again) but after 6 months, our house sale fell through. We're absolutely fine now, but at the time, after 6 months of stress and forms and money and planning, to find out the house we thought was the one wasn't meant to be was heartbreaking.

But the good news is, a week or so later, we went to some viewings, and we've had an offer accepted on another house! It's early days and I don't want to get too excited in case we find ourselves in the same position again, but it's a bit bigger and doesn't need all the work the last house did, so hopefully this time it will be a little smoother.

So all of this combined has meant the last thing I've wanted to do was blog. I didn't want to talk about the house, but I also felt like I couldn't not talk about the house, or houses, or lack thereof. Things are calming down and moving forward so hopefully I can get back into the swing of things now at least!

We've just come back from a wonderfully refreshing weekend in the Lake District, but I already have so much to write about April I think I'll leave that to my May post!

So other than all that, what else has been going in April?

What I've been doing
Obviously I started the month with my marketing exam which was... okay, I think?! To be honest I've barely thought about it since 30 minutes after leaving the room. Considering it was my first exam in 5 years and it was 3 hours long, it was nowhere near as bad as I expected and it being over was a huge relief!

With a half marathon around the corner (less than 4 weeks to go!) I've managed a new parkrun PB which I'm really chuffed about - our local course is tough! This weekend will be my 93rd parkrun and my 10th in a row!

You know what I love? BANK HOLIDAYS. How good are Bank Holidays?! Easter fell just as everything was hitting the fan with our house but we managed to get some relaxation in, thanks to 13 Reasons Why which gave me the excuse I needed to take a few hours away from doing productive things and actually have a break. I didn't get dressed until lunchtime on Good Friday! Friday we had a lovely chilled day, I bought two pairs of trousers in H&M for £10 each, and we spent the evening at my best friend Eve's playing games. Saturday we went to a house viewing and then I met up with two of my uni friends in Birmingham, Sunday was quiet and chocolate-filled (I gave up chocolate for Lent so it was so good to eat Mini Eggs!) and on Monday we went to the Aquarium and to see Phil's grandparents (more on that later!).

Where I've been
My trip to Birmingham was lovely, if shorter than planned! We'd seen a house we loved and Phil insisted that we went to see it, but the only viewing we could get was 1.30pm. It was the first house we'd seen online since our house fell through that we were actually excited about, so we didn't want to miss out on the opportunity. So we saw the house (we did put an offer in, but later realised it wasn't the one), and then I rushed to Birmingham to see my friends for a few hours! It was lovely although brief to see two of my favourite people.
The following day we went to Blue Planet Aquarium which was great fun! Okay, we were pretty much the only adults there who didn't have a child with us, but we had a really great time and went through the tunnel where the sharks swim over you TWICE. Then we went to visit Phil's grandparents which was absolutely lovely - it was such a lovely, fun day.

Remember last month when I mentioned I was obsessed with The Guilty Feminist podcast? Well this month I went to see it recorded live! I went with my best friend, Eve, and we had an amazingly fun, girly night. The podcast was hilarious and it was surreal to be there in the audience while it was recorded - I love the podcast even more now! I can't wait to hear our episodes!

What I've been loving
Amy is one of those people who I just think is incredible and utterly badass, so when she recommended the Moodnotes app, I did a bit of reading into it and was intrigued. Amy has mental health challenges too, and she really recommended this app for trying to keep track of your mood and feelings. I was reluctant to download it as it was £4 but I thought I'd give it a go, and I really like it. I record my mood in the mornings and in the evenings, and at the moment my anxiety has been fairly low level but I like knowing it will be there for challenging times.
In a bizarre coincidence, one of my Birthday presents from work was the exact MAC lipstick I'd actually asked my Auntie for for my Birthday! I managed to get it swapped and I'm now the proud owner of All Fired Up lipstick, which is a lovely corally-red - perfect for Summer!

After receiving my Fitbit for my Birthday, I've become one of those annoying Fitbit-obsessed people who paces around the living room at 10 to the hour because I haven't hit my hourly step goal. I don't even care - I love it! I'm planning a separate post on my Fitbit - or more likely, stupid things I do now I have a Fitbit!

You know what I realised this month? Yoga makes me feel amazing. Yep, I know, not revolutionary at all. Billions of people know that right? But I've kind of being going through the motions with yoga lately and practising one a week as part of my half marathon training, but I've realised it actually makes me feel great and I want to do it more often. It's on my goals for May to do more yoga, and all with Yoga with Adriene, of course!
Are you ready to see the best Birthday present ever? Are you? PHIL'S SISTER CROSS-STITCHED US OH MY GOD IT'S AMAZING JUST LOOK AT IT.

What I've been eating
I got lots of recipe books for my Birthday this year, plus I might have bought a couple of other books last month (I assure you, I'm on a recipe-book-buying ban for the foreseeable future) so I've been working my way through 15 Minute Vegan, Vegetarian Tagines and Cous Cous and Prashad at Home. 
I've already cooked lots of brilliant recipes from Flavour, and this month I tackled the lemon and black pepper cake and the sweet potato, kale and mozzerella pie. I've never really made a pie before (I didn't make my own pastry...) and this took about 2 hours but it was wonderful and I'll definitely make it again.
A few weeks ago when I was all house-sad and ill and grumpy, my friend Kris tagged me in a competition Thaikhun were hosting to win a free takeaway to cheer me up and I won! Because we don't live in town anymore Phil picked it up after work one night and we warmed it up when he got back! I had massaman curry with tofu and it was incredible.
Despite living 200m away for 2 years (no, seriously), I finally made it to Samsi a few weeks ago for amazing sushi and gyoza and lovely company with my friend Riven. I can't believe I hadn't been before! Highly recommend.
Shout out to my colleague, Molly, and these amazing Birthday cupcakes she made for me! Aren't they amazing? If you're in the Manchester area and want a cake made, make sure you check out her Instagram - Mollol Creations!

What I've been reading
I got a bit excited reserving books at the library this month and ended up with three books becoming available at once, which is a lot for me!

This month I read The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson which I absolutely adored. Every story was brilliant - I highly recommend!

I also read A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, a book that I would never have normally chosen, as sci fi really isn't my cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it, and it was good to push myself to read something out of my comfort zone.

Finally, I read the sequel to Mr Mercedes, Finders Keepers, which I think I actually enjoyed more than the prequel.

What I've been watching
As I mentioned before, we joined the club and watched 13 Reasons Why, which I simultaneously thought was brilliant but also felt quite conflicted by. It's one of those things I think I need some time to process to decide how I feel, and I've been finding the discourse around it very interesting. I hope they don't make a second series though - I don't think questions always need answering.

We also started Bates Motel last week as Phil is indulging in his love of Hitchcock at the moment (he's out tonight at a 4 week film course on Hitchcock). We've only watched one so far but I'm intrigued to keep going!

What I've been reading online
The Pool - Is fitness fashion creating a barrier to getting exercise?
Food 52 - What Ruby Tandoh wants to tell you about eating well
Rebel Angel - How yoga became a gateway to fitness for me
Yes and Yes - Stop making it so hard
Yes and Yes - 23 Ways to unplug
The Pool - I'm 32, successful and in therapy

What I'm excited for
Lots of exciting things are coming up in May! Two of our best friends are getting married, we have a christening, a trip to the theatre and my next half marathon! I'm also really, really, really hoping things with our house might actually start progressing...

My goals for May are to do more yoga, paint my nails more often, read every day, read more inspiring material and practice my self esteem exercises from my phobia book twice a day.

And here's hoping I get back to some regular programming over here this month!

Charlotte x

Saturday, 1 April 2017

March Life Lately

If you're reading this, it means I finally had some time that wasn't dedicated to working, sleeping or revising this fortnight! I have an exam for my Marketing Diploma on Tuesday, and with the exception of my Birthday on Thursday, I've been working all day, coming home, making dinner and then revising all night, and then spending my weekends sulking about having to revise!

But apart from my exam, March has been busy and lovely. March is pretty much my favourite month of the year because Phil's birthday is the 1st and mine is the 30th, and this month was particularly lovely because I surprised Phil with a trip to Berlin for his Birthday to see Joshua Radin, so we had a great 3 days there this month.

I was planning a separate post on my Birthday because my Birthday is A Very Big Deal (according to me at least!), but I'm still planning to write a post on everything I ate in Berlin (because we pretty much focused the entire trip on food) and I've got a post on sportswear I need to write too, and I think by the time I get another chance to blog it will probably be at least 3 weeks since I got back from Berlin, so I should probably write about that first! So I'll be combining all my Birthday spam into this post, soz.

With being so busy, I don't feel like I've been keeping as good a record this month of what I've been loving and reading and my favourite links online, so I've had to trawl through my Instagram and try to remember where I saved all my favourite links!

So here's what I've been up to in March...

March Goals

  • Single Task
  • Get outside every day
  • Listen to podcasts more
  • Take it slowly
  • Read
  • Practice yoga every week
  • Go to bed earlier

I've started setting myself montly goals in my bullet journal and these were my goals for March. I've noticed that when I go out at lunch time at work I end up feeling exhausted when I get back because I walk so fast, so I set myself the goal of trying to take things a little more slowly. I live my life at 100 miles an hour so it can be a challenge for me to slow down.

I have been listening to podcasts more this month. I have hundreds downloaded onto my phone (one of the reasons I got a new phone was for extra storage for podcasts!) but the majority of the time I only listen to them when I'm running, so I only get through a few every week. But this month saw me discover The Guilty Feminist podcast, and S Town, so I've been making an effort to fit more podcasts into my day when I'm getting ready in the morning or when I'm cooking and it's been really lovely.

I've been trying to find time to read more, but with revising every night after work, I haven't had as much time as I would like, so I'll be adding this to my April goals too. Since we moved back with my parents my commute has been cut down from about 50 minutes each way to 20 each way, and my Mum has been taking me to work in the moring, so my bus time is now only about 15 minutes, and I really miss that reading time! I have been trying to carve myself out some reading space before bed, and I'm getting back into the habit of reaching for a book instead of my phone.

I'm an early bedtime person anyway, but I've been making an effort the last two weeks or so to get to bed by 9.30pm so I can be up at 5.30am and I'm hoping to get more into the habit. My bedtime is usually 10pm, but I've found this can easily slip to 10.15pm or 10.20pm and before I know it it's after 10.30pm and I'm getting less than 7 hours sleep. I'm always the first one up in the house and it can be hard to go to bed instead of spending time with Phil and my family but I have to remember they can stay up later because they get up later than me!

Finally, I have been practising yoga once a week with Yoga with Adrienne on a Monday and sometimes a Friday morning. Some days I just do 10 minutes, other days a full 40 minute session. I do prefer the routine of daily yoga, but with half marathon training this is the best I can manage and it's a nice compromise.

Oh and single tasking? Yeah that needs to go back onto next month's list!

What I've been doing
March 1st is Phil's Birthday which is one of my favourite days of the year because I love any chance to spoil Phil and make him ridiculous Hamilton-themed Birthday cards. I also loved it because I'd been keeping the location of his Birthday surprise quiet for over a month and I was so excited to tell him! It all started in January when he mentioned he'd love to see Joshua Radin, so I thought, great, I'll get him tickets for his Birthday. He was only playing London, though, so I thought I'd check London train prices. Yikes! Then I thought, I wonder where else he's playing, and found it was cheaper for both of us to fly to Berlin than one of us to get a train to London! Thankfully my wonderful friend Kayleigh, and her boyfriend, Alex, who live in Berlin were happy to put us up so I booked the trip! He knew the dates and he knew he was going somewhere for something, so it was great to finally be able to spill the beans!

I wasn't sure I'd stick to it, but I've kept up bullet journalling this month and I really love it. I read up loads before I started, but I've actually ignored all the rules and done things my way and I've been swapping and trying new things as I've gone along. I do mine entirely in pencil, which is perfect for me as I have commitment issues and like that I can rub it out, and I try new things every time and just use it for fun. I'm planning a full post on my bullet journey so look out for that.

Admittedly, I've only done this twice, but after reading Rosie's post on Morning Pages last week I decided to give it a go. It's down on my April goals list to do it every day, so we'll see if I can keep it up!

Where I've been
Phil's brother is an actor, so it was so exciting last month to see him in a production of Dial M for Murder at a local theatre! At first it was super weird to be like, that's Andy! What's Andy doing on the stage?! But he was absolutely brilliant and we loved it. I can't wait to see him in his next production!
I got a chance to be reunited with some of my favourite ladies last month when we headed to Birmingham to celebrate my friend Sarah's birthday. It's always so lovely to catch up with my uni friends. We don't see each other as often as we'd like, so we always need a really good catch up, but it never feels like anything has changed and we have such good memories together. I love them so much. You can read about my university girls in this post - On uni mates.

And obviously, we went to Berlin. I want to save this for a separate post because I just want to talk about all the food we ate. But here's basically the only picture from the trip that isn't of food...
What I've been loving
As I mentioned at the start I have been loving my podcasts lately! I just discovered The Guilty Feminist, thanks to my friend Kimberly, and am I obsessed! I listen to it every morning when I'm getting ready for work, and I feel like I'm friends with Sofie Hagen. It absolutely hits the nail on the head about life and being a woman and feminism, gah, it's just awesome. Download it right now.

Speaking of Sofie Hagen, I love her own podcast, Made of Human, too. Download that while you're there.

And I'm almost done with S Town, which is great because I really want to read Michelle's blog post about it. I've got 2 episodes left, so maybe I'll write about this more next month.

Oh and I downloaded the This American Life app which means I can listen to every episode every of This American Life for £2.99. It's pretty much the buggiest app I've ever used and crashes constantly but it's so worth it.

What I've been eating
Apart from all of the food ever in Berlin, I've also made another Greek Feast.
And I went to Bundobust again because I am obsessed...
What I've been watching
Only two cinema trips this month!
We went to see John Wick Chapter 2, which I thought was good but I would have rather watched it at home whilst also doing something else cause it was a lot of people getting shot in the head to commit to for 2 hours straight. I did think it was better than the first one, though.

And then Get Out which I was desperate to see and thought was excellent. You can read Phil's review of it over at his blog.

What I've bought
I have been pretty good this month, but I did splurge on 2 more pairs of £8 Primark jeans (I KNOW RIGHT?!) and The Dal Cookbook because Dipika is my cookbook enabler, and she bought it so I had to have it.
I got 5 recipe books for my Birthday though so I've told Phil I can't buy any more until we move into our house...

What I've been reading
This month I read The Loney which I'd heard mixed things about but actually mostly really enjoyed. The last 100 or so pages let it down a bit, but for the most part I thought it was very haunting and atmospheric and felt like a real gothic.
I had a bit of a mix up and ended up starting a book this month, only to find two books I'd requested from the library had become available, so I had to put my own book down in order to read my library books. I'm about 100 pages away from finishing Mr Mercedes and I love it and am so glad there are two more in the series to read!

My Birthday
I'm going to dedicate an entire section to my Birthday (hush now, it was nearly a whole blog post!).
I decided at the last minute to take my Birthday off work and I'm so glad I did! The original plan was to go into town to revise in the library, meet Phil for lunch, then revise again, but that sounded like a terrible idea so I decided to take the day off from revision!
So, first up, presents! I was ridiculous spoiled, as always, this year. My highlights being the amazing Fight Club print from Phil, Hamilton: The Revolution book (also from Phil), and a FitBit from my parents!
So after present-opening I went for a run, and then after getting ready I went to see my Nan before meeting Phil for lunch in town.
Then I just took myself out for a lovely day! I went to MAC and tried on the same 4 lipsticks at least 3 times each to find my perfect MLBB lipstick, and came back with Hug Me lipstick and Dervish liner, which was totally worth the sore lips to discover. 
I went to Lush to buy some Vanillary perfume and then after leaving the shop realised I smelled so good I had to go back and buy a bigger bottle. I took myself for a coffee and had a read. I impulse-bought a cute necklace from Oliver Bonas. Then I got bored and lonely and waited for Phil to finish work and make a fuss of me haha.
In the evening we went to The Indian Tiffin Room in Cheadle. They opened one round the corner from our flat when we lived in town but we never had a chance to go, so we decided to get used to living back in Stockport. It was absolutely amazing, my paneeer masala was unbelievable, and they brought me out a surprise dessert with a candle and sang Happy Birthday too me, and the dessert was so good we were licking the sides!
It really was a lovely, lovely Birthday and I'm so lucky to have such wonderful friends and family!

What I've been reading online
How to overcome a tendancy for "awfulising"
4 Genius Meal Prep Ideas to Save Time and Money
The Pool - My Mum taught me how to relax
My complicated relationship between food and fitness
When we decide to tear women down, we should probably take a closer look at ourselves
How to make fewer decisions (and make your life a lot easier)
Getting stuff done by not being mean to yourself

What I've written
I wrote about dressing like my Mum and a review of Ruby Tandoh's Flavour and erm... lots of notes on strategic marketing!

What I'm excited for
So about two weeks after I became obsessed with The Guilty Feminist, I found out their live recording was touring! And they were doing one in Manchester! And it was in a few weeks' time! So next Saturday I'm going along to the live recording with my best friend, Eve, and I cannot wait!

We're off the to Lake District at the end of the month, and we're taking Phil's parents to where we stayed last time. I am the least outdoorsy person ever, but I had such a great time last time I'm really looking forward to going back!

I won't bore you with the details, but things with our house purchase are still going on (yep, it's been 6 months now), and as you can gather, we didn't get the keys in March so maybe April?! To be honest I think it's going to be May but hey, we're exciting for it eventually happening!

Thanks for bearing with me while I'm up to my eyeballs in revision! Hopefully normal service will resume after Tuesday and I cannot wait to have my life back (until my next lot of coursework is due in June!)

Charlotte xxx