Sunday, 29 March 2015

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling...25?

Tomorrow I turn 25.
Seriously, how did 25 happen? I swear five minutes ago I was turning 23.
There's a blog post somewhere buried in the archives called "Twenty things I have learned now I'm nearly Twenty" (which is surprisingly mature considering I wrote it 5 years ago) and earlier, thanks to Timehop, I rediscovered the post "Looking back on my Twentieth year", and then "Reflections on my Twenty First year". Wow, how long have I been doing this?
I like to think growing older hasn't freaked me out too much, but I now live in a world where I'm no longer the youngest in any given office and I realise I started university nearly seven years ago.
I always used to think 25 seems old, but now I feel like a baby pretending to be an adult. But I definitely feel older now I live away from home, but it doesn't mean I won't moan about the constant food shopping and cleaning.
24 was a good year, upon reflection. Of course I changed jobs twice and got made redundant, but it was the year I moved in with Phil, got a job that I loved, got even more into running and fitness, and I think, in the end, it was the year I really found myself.
People try to freak you out when you turn 25 with the phrase "you're closer to 30 now than you are to 20" and you know what, I'm kind of okay about that. If reading back on those old blog posts taught me anything, it's that I don't want to be 20 anymore. I barely even recognise myself in those old posts. And I'm okay about that. I like to think 20 year old me would think 25 year old me is pretty cool. 
So goodbye to 24. It's been a good age and a good year. I'm excited to see what 25 has in store.
Also I'm one of those people who is absolutely obsessed with my birthday so there will definitely be a birthday post coming up this week. Like I do every year (20, 21, 22, 23 and 24).
See you on the other side!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Things that Happen when Phil Goes Away

Edited to add: I do have friends! I just decided to have a quiet weekend on my own. I'm not some co-dependent loser, promise.

On Thursday evening I kissed goodbye to Phil at the train station and dragged myself home for a weekend of being a single lady. I was looking forward to having the whole place to myself, to be able to watch whatever I wanted, and to eat meals consisting entirely of vegetables.
Turns out, I really hate it when Phil is away.
Since I've gotten older I've found myself getting more and more introverted. I would never have previously considered myself to be an introvert, but the more I read about introvism, the more I see myself in it. A preference for one-on-one conversations, small groups over parties and a genuine fear of talking to new people. Plus I've always cherished my alone time.
But now Phil and I live together, I can still be my most introverted self, just he's there too. While he's been away I'm been lonely but more than anything else I'm been bored out of my mind. Seriously, how much time must I spent talking to him?
Here's what happened over my single lady weekend...
  • 9pm bedtimes are the best
I love my sleep but I hate sleeping in, and when I lived at home, bed before 10pm was pretty standard for me. This weekend I have completely reset my body clock to going to bed at 9pm and it's been amazing. And I've also been really bored by 8.30pm every night so I've mostly gone to bed because I'm bored and too tired to do anything else.
  • But it has meant waking up before 6.30am both days this weekend
I'm not complaining. It's 8.30am and I've already made soup, put a slow cooker casserole on and written a freelance article.
  • I can get up at 6.30am on a Sunday and instantly start cooking
It soothes me, okay?
  • I've been able to eat meals that are entirely made of vegetables
Sweet potato curry with peas and courgette noodles, roasted sweet potato and broccoli with cauliflower rice... you get the idea. Usually when I cook for Phil I make sure he has some kind of carb and he hates broccoli and cauliflower. I made it my goal to eat a whole broccoli this weekend.

  • I can spend my Saturday night in my comfy pants watching Girls and drinking honey and lemon
I know I'm super-late to the party with Girls but my excuse is that I don't watch much TV on my own and I'm not sure it's something Phil would enjoy. This weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to finish Season 1. Now I just need him to go away again so I can watch Season 2...
  • I can get really freaked out in the middle of the night because I can hear an unidentified dripping noise
And then get out of bed and search every tap in the place. And then go to bed and hope it's coming from another flat.
  • I have to take two trips to Aldi over one weekend because I can't carry everything
And make two lists. The Friday need-right-now list, and then Sunday need-for-this-week list. 
  • I can see my parents as a grown up
I met my parents for dinner last night and it felt like the first time I had gone out to see them as a real adult with my own place. It was weird and nice at the same time. And it's still weird that I don't live with them anymore. Even though my bank statements still go to their address.
Dinner with my parents involved this insanely-good halloumi and potato cake burger
  • I can get a Parkrun PB, but there's nobody there to meet me at the finish line
I ran 30:12 yesterday, which is just 12 seconds away from my goal time (and a 43 second PB!). I was incredibly proud of myself, but it's not quite the same just sending a text of your time.

  • I have to do my own washing up. And vacuuming.
I do all the cooking and I clean the kitchen (just to make this clear, I love to cook and Phil says he doesn't cook because "you don't let me" which is actually pretty fair. I worry about my feminist stance because I do all the cooking, but I just prefer to cook), and Phil does the washing up, vacuuming and cleans the bathroom. I do not like washing up.
  • I buy new lipstick cause I've had a rough week
Let's face it, I would have done it anyway. And I totally just put this on the list so I could show you my new lipstick. LOOK HOW PRETTY.
  • I have nobody to look after me when I feel poorly and moan-y
I am the worst person when I am ill. Right now I have nobody to moan to that "I reallllllly don't feel wellllll."
  • I get really really bored and really really lonely and can you just come home please?
Real talk - I miss Phil during the day when I'm at work. 4pm can not come fast enough.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Home Sweet Home

So, this is where we live! It makes me laugh looking at these photos cause I only took them two weeks ago but already the place looks entirely differently. I don't think I realised until we moved in that there would always be more things to do, more things to buy, things we need to replace. Our flat is a constant work in progress, and as someone who is impatient and neurotic it's taken me a while to accept this! But right now I love our flat. We picked up a clock on Saturday, and we went to Dunelm on Sunday and picked up a rug (I can't tell you how hard it's been to find the perfect rug!) and then some bits from TK Maxx. So I actually feel like we're nearly there!
So, our flat! edit: I took these with my wide angle lens to get everything in so they're a little distorted!
Living room
I love our living room. We live in a Grade II listed building so we have amazing high ceilings and huge original windows. With the exception of the rug, I'm pretty happy with our living room now. I love our biscuit cushions and rubix cube tissue box, and Phil got that amazing globe beanbag from his parents for his birthday. We have loads of room in here which is perfect for my when I'm doing my workouts!
Kitchen
The previous tenants had some pictures up in their kitchen and we loved that idea, so a few weeks ago Phil put up some of his James Bond film posters and they look great in the kitchen. We also have a black clock now which ties everything in. 
Mezzanine
The mezzanine floor of our flat is such a quirky little feature which we couldn't resist! It's technically a two bedroom, but we use upstairs much more than we would a spare room! We call it in the library cause it houses all our books, and we have a little cubby hole where we keep things like board games, my camera stuff and laptop stuff. I have a little desk on the small landing and then we have some steps up to the sofa bed which is perfect for people staying over. We also (finally!) have a lovely rug up there too now. I love working upstairs and it's perfect for when I want to do blog or freelance work and Phil wants to do something in the living room. Also, fairy lights.
Bedroom
I love our bedding so much! I couldn't believe how hard it was to find bedding that wasn't floral or overly girly and I wanted something we could both enjoy. I decided upon chevron pretty early, and then decided yellow accents would be perfect. I actually found these cushions a few weeks after we bought the bedding. I saw them on Primark's instagram and then spent weeks trying to find them. I knew I had to have them because they're so perfect for our bed!

So that's it! We obviously have a bathroom but we've moved quite a few things around since I took the photos and our bathroom is kind of boring. There are still loads of things we want to change and I'm sure this place will look completely different for 6 months but right now we're pretty happy! Ever since we put all our photos and prints up it's really felt like "home" and I love it so much. I even miss it when I'm away!

Hope you enjoyed my little flat tour. Loads more about our flat (and living together!) soon!

Charlotte x

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Why Being in Your Twenties Sucks or, Comparison is the Thief of Joy

I've had this post part-planned and sat in drafts for months, but with my 25th birthday just around the corner I decided there was no better time to set it free into the world.


In 11 days I turn 25.
Getting older has never normally bothered me. In fact as an impatient person always rushing to the next phase in life I’ve usually greeted it.
But 25 is hitting me harder than I expected.

I’m not where I thought I would be at 25.
I’m not in the same place as some of my friends or people I know.
And I know it shouldn’t matter. I know I shouldn’t keep comparing myself to everyone else and constantly putting pressure on myself to be more, do more, go faster and further.
But I can’t help it.
And that’s why being in your twenties sucks.

You don't need me to tell you that being in your twenties sucks.
Just head over to Thought Catalog and read the first article you see.
But seriously, being in your twenties sucks.
And I think I know why.

For the most part, until I was twenty one, all my friends had followed a similar path.
School, college, university.
We took different courses, some - like me - had a year abroad and graduated a year later, some moved away for university, some stayed at home. Some lived with their parents, some lived away, some had boyfriends, some were single. But for the most part, we were following the same path.

Fast forward to twenty four.
Suddenly, I have friends buying houses. Some with boyfriends.
I have friends who are engaged.
I have friends getting promotions.
I have friends going back to do master's degrees.
I have friends who are travelling the world.
I have friends living in the city. Friends living at home.
Suddenly, everyone's lives are different.
Suddenly, I find myself comparing.

I remember it happening specifically seven or eight months ago.
I'd just been made redundant and was in the process of interviewing for other positions.
I was feeling pretty damn low.
I had just lost my dream job and I was living with my parents.
My friends and I met up and I spent the evening feeling inadequate as I heard about promotions, new houses, jobs they loved.
I went home and cried.

Now I knew that I didn't want to buy a house.
I didn't want to move to London.
I definitely wasn't ready for a promotion.
But I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere.
Where was I going? What was I doing with my life?

My Dad always tells me "life is a marathon, not a sprint."
Never has that been more true.
In your twenties, everyone moves at different speeds.
Some buy houses early, some get married young, some don't get married at all.
Suddenly, we all want different things.
We're all on different paths.

But the problem is comparison.
I’ve always been one of those people who is constantly comparing myself to other people. And it’s not always a bad thing.
This constant comparing makes me ambitious, determined and stops me from giving up.
But it can also be the reason I find myself sobbing on a Wednesday night wondering what I’m doing with my life.

Another thing my Dad always says - “whose life would you swap for? All in?”
And I know that I’m doing okay.
And that some people are probably comparing their lives to mine.
I live with my boyfriend in the centre of Manchester.

I'm a wonderful, brilliant relationship.
I have a job in the industry that I love.
But I can’t help wishing some things were different.


I envy the friends who own their own houses, even though I wanted to live in the city centre.
I envy people with nicer and bigger flats, even though I know we wouldn't be able the afford the rent.
I envy people earning more money than me, even when I know their job isn't something I would want to do.
I envy people who are travelling the world, even though I know that's not what I want.

I find myself regretting decisions that were right for me at the time.
Staying in a job that I hated for a year at 22 and feeling as though I wasted a year of my life.
I know in reality I needed that job at the time, and sometimes you need a job that you hate to make you appreciate a good job.
Joining a company that made me redundant six months later. As if I ever could have known.
Not waiting and getting a job in marketing instead of taking a sales job.
But would I have been able to cope with that wait? 

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy.
Moving in with Phil was the best decision I ever made, and looking back on last year getting made redundant was a blessing in disguise.
I love having our own place even if it means my disposable income is non-existent and I have to do my own washing up.
But it's hard to not look at other people and want what they have, even though we have no idea of what's really going on in their lives.

I guess the point is to stop comparing. Stop planning.
Stop it with our five year plans and goals by the time we’re 27.
Stop expecting life to look a certain way.
Stop comparing yourself to everyone around you and appreciate the great things in your life.
Stop thinking the grass is always greener.
Stop living for the future when everything will be magically different and better.

And if you figure out how to do that, you let me know.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

10 Things I learned this Weekend

This feels a bit late on a Wednesday - I am full-speed ahead running into next weekend, but I couldn't post this last night because my laptop trackpad is broken which means I can't do anything that isn't up, down, left and right. But that's another story...
Also this is the type of posts I'm going to be writing more of now. Thank you so much for all your amazing comments on my last post - the sheer number of comments on that post demonstrates that you were all thinking what I was thinking and that's awesome.

1. Phil is pretty good at making Saturday morning brunch

Saturday brunch is kind of my thing. It usually goes get-home-exhausted-from-Parkrun-make-something-overly-ambitious-from-Pinterest-with-eggs but on Saturday even though I didn't make it to Parkrun (more on that later), Phil insisted he make breakfast, and he even went out for extra eggs, bread and mushrooms. What he made was "something I saw on LADbible" for a toastie thing contained in one piece of bread. You cut out a square of the bread and put it in a pan, add an egg into the middle and whatever else you want, then add the square back in the hole and flip it over. I don't know, but it was magic.

2. Saturdays last forever, Sundays barely last longer than the blink of an eye

On Saturday we got up, didn't go to Park run, got ready, had breakfast, put the washing in, did the food shopping, came home, put the shopping away, watched an episode of True Detective and it was still only 3.30pm. On Sunday I did a work out DVD, made a fish pie and then it was suddenly 2pm. Disappointing.

3. Going for a run because I'm bored and restless is apparently a really good idea

I am a creature of habit. I crave routine. Last week was messy and confusing and not good for my routine. We had a race on Sunday which meant I skipped my Monday workout cause I could barely move. Then Tuesday night I stayed at my parents' which meant I missed my Wednesday workout. So I worked out Friday instead of taking it as a rest day, but then missed Park run which is my usual Saturday workout.... Anyway, I was all confused and out of sync, but I had made peace with the idea of not working out on Saturday. Then we were being lazy watching TV and it was the middle of Saturday afternoon and it was sunny... so off I went. It was weird and busy on the streets (I usually run early in the mornings, and I live in the middle of a city) but it led to...

4. I can run 3 miles in 29 miles 08 seconds

If you're a really fast runner, please stop reading now. I can't express what a big deal this is for me. A few months ago I was just about eking out a 11i:15ish minute mile. Over the last few months however, something has changed and I'm suddenly running better and better and faster and faster. This was my fastest ever 3 miles, my fastest ever pace and my first run with all my miles under 10 minutes. Only a few weeks ago I was over the moon that I was finally running miles under 11 minutes. I am so proud of myself and that 30 minute 5K is just around the corner.

5. Living in the city centre is great when you have an amazing Thai curry on Friday and go to Chinatown on Saturday morning to buy massaman curry paste


6. I have no idea what a normal serving of vegetables looks like

I don't think we've had a meal yet where Phil hasn't gotten towards the end and asked "Do you want these carrots/sweet potato/peas?" I never say no.

Speaking of food, I hit 10,000 food pins this weekend. Um...

7. Making fish pie is great, but stressful

Who knew it would require every one of the burners on my hob? One for fish, one for potato, one for eggs and one for the sauce? Who knew it would take over an hour just to put it together? Who knew I'd put it all in a casserole dish that we didn't realise was too big to fit in our oven, and Phil would have to put it in at an awkward angle and I would have to sit on a beanbag in front of the oven to watch it cook to make sure I didn't spend my evening cleaning mashed potato off my oven?


8. Still Alice might not have been the best choice for a Mother's Day film

Don't get me wrong, it was absolutely brilliant. So brilliant in fact that I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to stop crying. When Phil said "are you okay?" at the end I did that weird gaspy trying-not-to-cry more thing that happens whenever anyone asks if you're okay. I was worried I wasn't going to be able to leave the cinema without being a mess, but it was fine - you could tell everyone who had come out of our showing by their red eyes and tissues.
But seriously, go see it. We weren't sure if it was actually going to be brilliant film or just a brilliant performance but it was undoubtedly both. Sad, but not in a ramming-it-down-your-throat way. Not over-sentimentalised, just brilliant.


9. Dunelm is the grown-up equivalent of going to the toy shop

"Can we have this candle?" "Oooh jars, can I get these jars? I need jars." "Oooh I like these deer bookends" 
We did come away with the fluffiest most amazing rug in the whole world though. I just want to lie on it.


(Promise flat tour photos this week. Even though in the week since I took the photos the flat already looks different and we've already bought way more stuff). 

10. We can tick Psycho off my list

I love films, but I very rarely watch them on my own. There's something about committing to doing nothing for two hours that I just can't do. Sure I'll sit and watch three hours of Parks and Recreation, but I never go into it knowing I will spend three hours clicking "load next episode". We also never watched a lot of films at home - watching a film with my parents is a real treat, not a weekly occurrence. As a result there are loads of classic films that I haven't seen.
Now Phil is hugely into films and managed to put up with my constant "Oh... I've not seen that" for almost a year and a half, but now we live together I can't get away with it anymore, so we've written a list of all the films I just need to have seen by now. So far I've seen for the first time Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (I know), Jurrasic Park (I know, I know) and Jaws (I KNOW!) so on Sunday we watched Psycho. It's strange watching a film for the first time which has become such a part of the cultural psyche because you feel in a way as though you've already seen it, but it was great and I can't wait to watch more Hitchcock.

I promise flat tour photos this week. Provided that I have a mouse.

Charlotte x

Monday, 16 March 2015

On Blogging

I can't remember the last time I put together a brilliant, on-trend unique outfit.
I have no idea what trends are going to be big for Spring/Summer 15, and more significantly, I don't care.
The last item of clothing I bought myself was a black dress for my work New Year party in January. I've worn it on almost every night out since then.
In the mornings before work I just put on some clothes and get out of the door for 8, and at the weekend you'll usually find me in jeans and a jumper.
I'm not really a fashion blogger anymore.

Truth be told, "fashion" was never really me.
Even in my early days of blogging, it was all about personal style. I never really cared about the latest trends or what was happening at fashion week. 
I was interested in the people behind the outfits.

But the problem with starting out as a fashion blogger is that you associate blogging with pictures.
And you feel self-indulgent, vain, conceited just writing about yourself and what you're up to and what you like.
You feel unless you have some great pictures to post you can't blog at all, even when you're full to the brim with ideas.

Sometimes I want to blog about living with Phil, or about our flat, or about something funny that happened.
Sometimes I want to blog about the fish pie I made or how I got a 3 mile PB at the weekend.
Sometimes I want to talk about a film that I saw, or the list of Phil has made of all the films I should have seen by now that we're working through.
Sometimes I want to talk about what I'm reading, or what I'm not reading.
Sometimes I want to talk about the fact that I haven't bitten my nails since June but I can't get nail polish to last longer than 24 hours.
Sometimes I want to talk about the music I'm listening to or how I felt about the Parks and Recreation finale.
Sometimes I just want to talk about my weekend. Or how much I love our new rug.
But I've always felt trapped. Trapped by being a "fashion blogger". Trapped in the idea that I can't post anything unless I have pictures to accompany it.
I have that sinking heart feeling every Sunday when I want to blog about my weekend, but realise I spent Saturday in jeans and a jumper and didn't think to try to pull something together just for photographs.
And how inauthentic, how fabricated is that?

I don't want to be like that anymore.
Two of my favourite blogs are by former fashion bloggers who now just blog about their lives (Maggey and Michelle), sometimes short essays, sometimes just streams of consciousness. 
And honestly, I enjoy them more than the fashion blogs I read.
And even when I do read fashion blogs I tend to ignore the pictures and just read the text anyway.
I want to write more like that.

I'm not passionate about fashion in the same way I used to be.
I'm passionate about lots of other things. Food, fitness, books, films, health, travel.
But I'm not creative enough to be a food blogger, not fit enough to be a fitness blogger.
I want to create a blog that represents all of my interests, not just one.

I've been writing this blog since I was 19.
I'm 25 in two weeks.
I'm a completely different person to who I was in the winter of 2009.
I've done so much with my life, and on this blog.
I won't be rebranding. This blog will stay here, on this domain, with this name.
It's not going to be a huge change overnight, suddenly turning into a completely different blog. 
This will still be girl next door fashion. It will still be me.
I'm just read to diversify. To enjoy blogging again. To just write what I want to write in my space.

I want to write authentic posts.
Sometimes vulnerable. Sometimes raw.
I want to write posts that people can relate to. 
The number of people who came up to me to tell me how much they loved, and related to, my post on Things you should know before you move in with me.
A post I was almost too scared to put live.

So here's to a more authentic blog.
I'm not saying I'll never post outfits because I still will. I still love that element of my blog.
But I don't want to feel pigeonholed for it. I don't want to feel that outfits is all my blog is.
Not everyone will enjoy this new turn. I understand that and I'm sure some people will leave. 
I accept that.
I have dozens of topics I want to write about.
But importantly, sometimes I just want to blog.
Sometimes I just want to sit down at my laptop on a Sunday evening and write whatever I feel.

I'm excited to see what comes next.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Mum.

 
Tonight, for the first time ever, I made my Mum's roast potatoes.
Now my Mum's roast potatoes are kind of a thing. She's been making them the same way for as long as I can remember and any time she makes them differently everyone kind of peers at them curiously thinking, what the heck are these?
They're my favourite roast potatoes in the world and nothing compares to them.
Tonight when I sent her a photo of my dinner (after at least 15 texts between us throughout my meal preparation checking how to use a steam basket and how long carrots take to cook) I said "they tasted just like yours!". She immediately text me back saying "nooooo mine are the best!!!!!!"
And that's my Mum all over.

My Mum drives me crazy.
She steals my clothes, copies everything I wear and still tells me to make sure I look left and right when I cross the road.
But she's my best friend.
I tell her everything. Including a lot of things I probably shouldn't tell my Mum. When I lived at home I would never have made plans on a Saturday afternoon because that was our time. She eats all the weird and wonderful recipes I put together and she always tells me it's lovely even if we both know it isn't. She sneaks me upstairs to show me things she's bought that my Dad isn't supposed to know about. We spend hours discussing makeup, the latest food trends and why neither of us can get nail polish to stay on our nails for more than 24 hours. 
When Phil and I signed for our flat I knew it was going to be hard for my Mum. For both of us.
Other people don't get it.
But you've lived away at Uni. You lived in America for a year.
We know, we know.
It took me a long time to realise that not everyone has the relationship with my Mum that I have. I'm always shocked when people tell me secrets and tell me "my parents don't know." I tell my parents everything, good and bad.
I could not be more appreciative of that relationship.
When I lived at home, I probably saw Phil twice a week but the rest of the time I would just spend hanging out with my parents. And I had absolutely no problem doing that. Why would I?
My Mum drives me crazy.
But where would I be without her?
I text her all through the day and ring her nearly every night.
I've spilled this on my dress - how do I get it off?
How long does this take in the oven?
How do I sew a button on?
She drove me to the station to get my train every day for work, even though she could have had an extra hour or two in bed.
She held my hand and looked after me while I cried when I had an unexpected trip to the hospital.
She offered to get the train into Manchester to see me when I had a bad week.
She has always looked after me and always had the answer to every question.
And I know for a fact she's crying reading this. Sorry Mum.
My Mum drives me crazy. Because we're exactly the same.
I catch myself doing and saying things every day that make me laugh because they're just like my Mum.
Making sure the cushions on the bed are neat. Not putting a glass down without a coaster.
Saying silly things that I would tease my Mum for.
Worrying about my hair.
We both love it when people tell us we look alike.
I was asked to write a post about my Mum to be entered to win a rail trip to Bruges for the two of us, and I couldn't think of anything we would enjoy more. I tried to keep the competition a secret from her, but of course, I ended up telling her.
Last year we went away to a Hen party in Amsterdam, just the two of us. It was the first time we'd really had a holiday just the two of us.
We had the absolute time of our lives. In fact, quite a few times we left the rest of the group just to do what we wanted to do!
We talked about getting away just the two of us this year, but with me having bills and rent to pay for the first time, I don't know if it will happen. 
The competition is judged on "the most deserving Mum". How on Earth do you pick that? My mum might not have done anything that anyone else would deem incredible or remarkable, but I think she deserves this more than anyone.
We had a tough year last year and she had a few health problems, but she's fighting back stronger than ever and isn't going to let anything get her down. She's my best friend, my inspiration and the woman I most aspire to be. 
I'm thankful to her for always pushing me. I didn't always like it, but it's turned me into the woman I am today. Ambitious and determined and never, ever giving up.
I'm thankful to her for always being there for me, and for putting up with me when I can be a total nightmare.
I'm thankful to her for always being supportive, always looking after me but always giving me the freedom and independence to be who I wanted to be.
I don't think I'll win the trip, but why would I miss an opportunity to write about how wonderful my Mum is?
I love you Mum. My best friend.