Sunday, 3 February 2019

January Life Lately

I admit, at the start of January I was deep in the "January hating". I was distracted and bored during my daily yoga, I wasn't enjoying the books I was reading, and getting up for work was a real struggle!

But after a week or so I really started to enjoy the month! February is super busy for us  - Phil is on his stag this weekend and my hen is next weekend, and there's dress fittings and food tasting and loads of other exciting stuff coming up - so it's been nice to have a pretty quiet month.

Also, how is our wedding THE MONTH AFTER NEXT?! What the actual heck!

Anyway, here's what I got up to in January...

What I did
Our family friends do amazing work looking after future guide dog puppies before they go on to be guide dogs, and last month we met their newest recruit, Alfie. He is heart-meltingly gorgeous, if a bit nibbly, and it was so fun meeting him!

Three weeks earlier than billed, our new sofa arrived! After an attempt trying to get the old sofa to fit in the front room, Phil and his brother eventually gave up after it got stuck wedged in the hall, and for a week and a half we lived with the old sofa stood up on its side in the kitchen. BUT the new sofa is here and it is gorgeous and amazing and soooooo comfy, and I've said at least twice now that having a footstool has changed my life.

I've said we're not allowed to spend any more money on the house now til after the wedding, but we did buy a nice fake plant from IKEA (I cannot be trusted around house plants, and plus Phil's Mum fell for it!) and finally framed my print of Stockport Library I've had nearly a year!

And of course, wedding stuff has ramped up this month! I had my hair and makeup trials a few weeks ago which was so much fun and totally surreal, and I went out with the girls after and avoided Phil seeing my face and hair all day! We've also finalised details with the florist, sorted out our centrepieces and ordered our wedding rings.

Oh and we booked our minimoon! Our "big" honeymoon (I've heard this called a "megamoon" which is excellent!) in Canada isn't until September, and we'd had a few ideas for our minimoon but we hadn't properly planned it. So we're going on the Monday after the wedding to the Cotswolds - we've got two nights at the Lygon Arms in Broadway which is a gorgeous spa hotel, and then 3 nights at an air bnb in Cheltenham. We don't have much specifically planned (except for Cheltenham parkrun, obviously!) and there's a really cool cinema we want to visit, so let me know if you have any Cotswolds recommendations!

What I read
January was a bit of a mixed bag for reading. The books I really enjoyed were really short and I wish they'd been longer, and the ones I didn't love were really long! It didn't feel like I read loads this month, but I think with being a quiet month I had quite a few nice nights in with my book!

Here's what I read this month:

A Head Full of Ghosts
The Idiot
What Belongs to You
My Sister the Serial Killer
Nine Perfect Strangers
Red Snow
Strange Weather in Toyko

And on audiobook I finished A False Report.

My favourites were Loyalties, Strange Weather in Toyko, Looker, and My Sister the Serial Killer. I wish all of these books had been three times as long!

What I watched

Two trips to the cinema this month - The Favourite, which I loved, and If Beale Street Could Talk,  which I didn't.

It's been a good month for films at home. We watched Four Weddings and a Funeral (a Christmas gift from Phil's parents), Strangers on a Train, Roma and my favourite film of the month, maybe even the year (I know, it's January), we finally watched Call Me By Your Name. I am obsessed. I'd put it off for ages cause I couldn't get into the book so I convinced myself I'd eventually go back to it, and I like to read the book before I watch the film, but in this instance the film might actually be better than the book. I've been listening to the soundtrack constantly.

What I bought
I was wandering around Sainsburys (okay, this is lame, especially as I live a 5 minute walk from Sainsburys, but going to big Sainsburys is a bit of a treat) and as I was loading my basket with the things I can't get in Aldi (tofu! Ginger puree! Cumin seeds! Heinz tomato soup!) I spotted the book Leon Fast Vegan and I didn't even hesitate before it was in my basket. I joked with Phil that there was no way it wasn't coming home with me. I have 4 of the Leon books now (Leon Happy Salads is my favourite) and Fast Vegan has been amazing so far - review coming soon!

My orange trainers have been through a lot. Usually I buy a new pair after each half marathon training cycle (about 300-400 miles) but I've actually run 3 half marathons in them now. The plan was to get fitted for new trainers as I've not had a gait analysis since 2014 - I just buy the same trainers I was prescribed then every time! But I realised that this isn't going to be a big running year - my usual annual half marathons are May and October (both too close to the wedding and to our honeymoon!) so it didn't make sense to spend a load of money on new trainers. I was also torn over whether to get trail shoes or road shoes, as I've been finding myself needing trail shoes for BMF and for parkrun, but I also want to be able to run on pavement. So, long story short, I ended up getting two new pairs of trainers for less than the price of one pair thanks to M&M! So now I have my favourite New Balance fresh foam road shoes, and trail running shoes too!

What I enjoyed
Like last year, I spent all of January with Adriene, and did 30 (well 32) days of yoga. It took me a week or so to get into, but like last year, I forgot how good it makes me feel and I was enjoying it so much by the end. And I'm hoping, unlike last year, I can find a way to keep it up!

Last year, Phil did a whole year of One Second Every Day and I absolutely loved watching his monthly videos. So this year I've been doing it too! You can see my January video on my Instagram.

I've also had a new podcast obsession this month - The Dream podcast. Last year Phil and I watched a documentary about Herbalife (it's called Betting on Zero) and I'm fascinated by the world of MLMs. This podcast is absolutely fascinating if you're interested in that world - and it's completely wild.

What I read online
The Pool - Your life goals should change as regularly as you do
Cracked - 6 hard truths that will make you a better person (this is really old but I reread it every year or so for a kick up the bum!)
The Pool - What I'm doing differently this year - not a lot
The Guardian - My name is Jack Monroe and I am an alcoholic
The Pool - I'm not a vegan but what's wrong with more choice?
Vox - I used all the best stuff for a week and it nearly broke me
Refinery 29 - Everything I learned from renovating my first flat
Little Winter - The best things in life are free (kinda)
Yes and yes - The glorious freedom of "good enough" and how to find it
Story of a girl - 5 things I want to be better at in my fourth decade
Slate - The troubling thing about the "fit mom" Instagram
Writing between pauses - What I learned from my December slump
The Atlantic - Millennial burnout is being televised
The New Enquiry - You're right, I didn't eat that
A Rosie Outlook - Overcoming food shaming
Writing between pauses - Help! My foundation looks terrible
Foodism - The true foods of love are pasta and potatoes

Hope you're having a great February so far and you're keeping warm!


Sunday, 6 January 2019

December Life Lately

It always feels a bit strange looking back on last year when it's already 2019, but while I covered some of December in my 2018 Best Bits post, there's plenty I didn't talk about.

Here's what I got up to in December...

What I've been doing

I started the month with a lovely day with my bridesmaids picking their dress! With 6 bridesmaids I'd bee panicking for months about being able to find a dress they all liked, and I spent a LOT of money on the credit card ordering four dresses in five different sizes. But in the end, after a few definitely "nos", we found a dress that everyone liked and I'm so happy and relieved. I might write a blog post on how we did it because I know I would have found that helpful to read! After we picked the dress we all went for a drink and out for pizza and it was just the best day with my favourite ladies - I can't wait to have them all there on my big day!

We booked a few days of annual leave off before the Christmas break and it was so nice to have some time to do all the things we never get time to do! We went on a lovely walk we'd been talking about doing for ages, fit in some extra fitness classes, and ended up buying a load of new furniture for our living room! 

We found a dining table in John Lewis which was exactly what we were looking for, and then in the time between Christmas and New Year we got new dining chairs and then we finally ordered a new sofa! 

And obviously, there was Christmas! I had such a good one this year, with Hamilton-themed presents from Phil, Parks-and-Rec-themed presents from Phil's brother, things for the house, a new handbag and lots of other lovely things! 

Boxing Day was also one year since we got engaged so we celebrated at the same Indian restaurant we went to last year.

Where I've been

A few months ago, someone posted on Twitter about going to see a musical about Henry the 8th's six wives set to pop music. Erm, hello, my wheelhouse! So of course when I found out it was coming to the Lowry, I had to see Six: The Musical. It was the most fun I've had at the theatre in ages and I only wish it had been longer. I've been listening to the soundtrack constantly on Spotify and my cousin and I are already planning to get tickets for next year.

Also on Twitter I'd been hearing for years how good Dishoom in London is and Indian Street Food is kind of my favourite thing ever so I was absolutely buzzing when I found out they were opening one in Manchester. Riven and I managed to get in last week and honestly it was one of the best meals I've ever had in Manchester. I haven't stopped thinking about that bowl of greens and I can't wait to go back.

What I've been watching

Five cinema trips this month! Starting with a secret unlimited screening which ended up being Green Book. We knew absolutely nothing about it so it was a really nice surprise and we loved it.

We've also been to see Creed II, Mary Poppins Returns, another unlimited screening of Stan & Ollie, and one of our favourite films of the year, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.

I watched Dumplin' one night Phil was out and I was crying in the first 5 minutes.

We watched a lot of our Christmas classics - Gremlins, Die Hard, Elf and The Holiday, and also watched The Christmas Chronicles which is my new favourite, and Black Christmas.

What I've been reading

Nine books in December, finishing the year on 95 books. Plus I listened to my first audiobook! Lots of people had been talking about Bad Blood on audiobook and I really like non-fiction on audio so this was perfect. I didn't want to commit to Audible so I got the Kindle book with whispersync and I really loved it. It was such a fascinating story and so good on audio - like a really long podcast!

Other books in December:
Give me your hand
Revolting Prostitutes
Six Stories
The End of Everything
The Black Land
Ghost Wall

Revolting Prostitutes was so interesting and I confess, I didn't know anything about the topic before I read it. It's a really good introduction into understanding sex workers' rights and understanding their needs from a feminist perspective. It makes some complicated theories really accessible.

I also loved Bitter, Less, Women and Six Stories - I've got the next two books in that series ready to read on my Kindle.

What I've written
2018 best bits
2018 favourites - Books

What I've been reading online

Bon Appetit - How wellness influencers made Indian food a trend
Peach Trees and Bumblebees - Post partum
Metro - Podcast of the week: What page are you on?
The Pool - I used to ignore my bullies - now I know what's at stake
The Pool - The pensions at my gym are my fitspo
A Rosie Outlook - An ode to 2018
The Pool - I didn't ask to be followed around the internet by a pregnancy that ended too soon
New Statesman - I rewatched The Holiday and I have questions
Stylist - How to go home for Christmas without turning into an angry teen
The Pool - May contain anxiety: My nut allergy and me
The Pool - Finally, harmful stereotypes are being banned from adverts
The Pool - Tis the season for women to do all the emotional labour
Blisters and Biscuits - 20 running goals for 2019 that have nothing to do with actual running
Refinery 29 - In defence of being unproductive
New Statesman - The guilty pleasure of watching strangers' lives on social media
I news - How the pause became the biggest thing on reality TV
Jocelyn K Glei - Why you need white space in your daily routine
Yes and Yes - How to create a "new things" practice
Yes and Yes - Make yourself 25% more uncomfortable
Yes and Yes - Networking for introverts

Hope your 2019 is going really well so far!

Charlotte x

Tuesday, 1 January 2019

2018 Favourites - Books

At the start of 2018 I really enjoyed doing a post on my favourite things in 2017 - from films to podcasts and of course, books.

I wanted to do the same thing for 2018, but with 95 books read over the year I thought books might require their own post!

2018 was definitely a year of reading.

I set my goodreads goal for 2018 at 40 books, after reading 43 in 2017, 13 over my 2017 goal of 30 books. I had absolutely no idea I'd hit my reading goal for the year in July, or that I'd have hit double that goal by October.

(And no, I'm not disappointed I didn't hit 100, because honestly I didn't think I'd read 50 books this year, let alone 95!)

Reading definitely became a hobby in 2018. I read in the morning, on the way to work, on my lunch break, on my way home from work, and in the evenings. I read waiting for the bus or waiting in queues. 

I read every single day of 2018.

Some days I read a page, some days I read a whole book. But I made it a challenge to read at least something of a book every day.

And the biggest help was my constant stream of reading material - thanks to reading podcasts, book twitter, reading blogs and goodreads. I read voraciously as I was always constantly excited by what else was out there to read. In the past I'd found my reading drop when I've been stuck for what to read next - right now I have 56 unread books on my Kindle, 71 books on my library saved list and 134 books on my Amazon wishlist, not even including the dozens of unread books on my shelves!

I love being excited about reading again. The sadness of finishing a book I loved is reduced by knowing there's always something else brilliant waiting for me!

And I have put books down this year. Any time I find myself scrolling through Twitter instead of reading I know I'm not enjoying my current book, and I've been better this year at not forcing myself to read things I'm not enjoying, or reading books I feel I "should" read.

I've definitely used my library card this year - 44 (nearly half!) of my books read this year were from the library. It saves me a fortune!

And while I have bought a lot of books on Kindle, I've been much better at buying most of my physical books this year either second hand or from bookshops, as was one of my goals for 2018.

I'm naturally asked how I find the time to read as much as I do, and the reality is as I said before, I squeeze time in when I can, but I've also done it instead of many other things this year. I didn't carry on with much yoga after my first 32 days of the year, I didn't start learning Spanish again - but I don't regret the time I've spent reading! Like anything else, I've read lots by making reading a priority.

So, what did I love that I read in 2018?

My original "favourites" list of the year contained 29 books. Not much of a shortlist! So I've managed to cut it down to my 15 favourites.

These are in no particular order, but I do have a favourite book of the year...

  • Everything I know about Love - Dolly Alderton
  • The Guilty Feminist - Deborah Frances-White
  • Beartown - Fredrick Backman
  • Normal People - Sally Rooney
  • This Must be the Place - Maggie O Farrell
  • The Nix - Nathan Hill
  • Educated - Tara Westover
  • Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng
  • Based on a True Story - Delphone de Vigan
  • Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
  • I'll be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara
  • Three Things about Elsie - Joanna Cannon
  • The Silent Companions - Laura Purcell
  • Lullaby - Leila Slimani
  • I am, I am, I am  - Maggie O Farrell
I'm surprised how many of my favourite books this year were non-fiction - 5 of my top 15, including my book of the year, Everything I know about Love.

I have read some absolutely incredible books this year and I am so excited for what my 2019 in reading will bring!

Charlotte x

PS. You can see my full year in books on my goodreads

Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 Best Bits

Last year I wrote a post called "2017 best bits" and it was one of my favourite posts of last year - instead of going through my goals for the year, I looked back on my best bits of the year, from the big (getting engaged! Buying a house! Finishing my marketing degree!), to the smaller (crying while watching Joshua Radin perform in Berlin).

While this year hasn't involved a house purchase, engagement or qualification, there are still so many things I want to look back on and remember from 2018.

So here are my highlights from the year...


I don't talk lots about my job here, but in July I was promoted and I'm really enjoying the challenges of my new-ish role! I've learned so much this year and have done so many things that I wouldn't have imagined I'd have been doing 12 months ago!

Two half marathons 

I've had a tough time with running and injuries over the last 18 months - I was disappointed with my Manchester Half Marathon time last year after struggling with injuries, and I was still suffering at this year's Great Manchester Run Half Marathon (plus it was absolutely baking hot so even if I had been fully fit a good time would have been out of the window!).

But over the summer I cautiously trained for my 7th half marathon, and along with hours of strengthening exercises and many trips to the physio, I felt okay for my third Manchester Half Marathon in October.

I wasn't sure what to expect and was trying to manage my expectations after injuries, but after 3 miles I realised if I kept up my pacing and ran negative splits I could hopefully, maybe manage another sub 2 hour.

The last mile felt 5 miles, but I crossed the finish line with another just-ducking-under-2-hours with a 1:59:41 finish time. I was absolutely over the moon. 

CIM results and graduation

At the end of last year I handed in my last piece of coursework for my Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma in Professional Marketing. I had a nervous wait until February when I started to convince myself I'd failed. My last module was by far my hardest but it turned out I passed with merit and got my best grade of all my modules!

It was so great last month to go down to London for my graduation ceremony with my parents and Phil and walk across the stage after all the hard work!

Wedding planning

Did I mention we're getting married?

It's crazy that last Christmas we weren't even engaged and by next year we'll have been married for 8 months!

We've done so much wedding planning this year! I absolutely hated wedding planning at first (okay, for like, the first 6 months) and just found the whole thing completely stressful, but eventually everything started to fall into place, we got over our decision fatigue and now I'm so excited!

We booked our venue in February, then I found my dress in May, we've booked pretty much everything now, including our honeymoon to Canada next September!, had a wonderful day with my bridesmaids picking their dress earlier in the month, plus had a few sneak peeks at our day with an overnight stay at our venue when it was one year to go, and a pre-wedding photoshoot with our amazing photographer!

It's all getting very real and very exciting!

Reading every day

I hit my Goodreads reading goal of 40 books for the year in July, and had hit double that by November. At the time of writing I've read 95 books this year - more than I read in 2017 and 2016 put together!

I have read a book every day this year - some days that's been one page, other days a whole book. I've read before work, on the way to work, on my lunch break, drying my hair, in supermarket queues, waiting for the bus - I've had a book with me at pretty much all times this year!

I'm going to write another post on the best books I read in 2018, but I've read some absolutely amazing books and I can't wait to see what I read in 2019!

House changes

I don't share a lot about our house because I think I'm always waiting for a room to be "finished" even though I know a room is never finished!

We started 2018 with bare walls in our living room and on the stairs and landing after spending 2 days between Christmas and New Year stripping off all the old textured wallpaper, and now we have a lovely fresh off-white across the rooms and a bright mustard feature wall in the living room that I love.

We also spent weeks in dust and dirt as we had new flooring put down in our living room, and had a week without a kitchen with a toaster and a microwave in the front room while we had our new kitchen fitted!

Our main living room is almost finished (we've bought a dining table, new chairs and a sofa - due in 6 weeks - this week!) and then on a whim in August we decided to paint our front room dark blue which I absolutely love (and I'll never get the paint off my slippers!).

There's a lot more I want to do on the house next year so we'll see!


I ran 43 parkruns in 2018, and volunteered twice, which means I only missed 7 parkruns over the year.

I've done 8 new-to-me parkruns this year too, and ran at 12 different parks.

I finally received my 100 parkruns tshirt and I ran my 150th parkrun in September. I'm looking forward to my 200th parkrun in 2019!

Relearning old skills

I started the year having not been behind the wheel properly for 7 years, but after a refresher driving lesson at the start of the year I've felt so much more confident and it's been great to be able to drive again!

I've also picked up the piano again, something I did not expect at the start of the year! I bought myself the La La Land piano book and I'm learning Mia and Sebastian's theme and it's been so fun to have a hobby without goals I'm working towards - it's just fun.

Hamilton + Bruges Birthday

Apart from my wedding, I had never been as excited for ANYTHING as I was to see Hamilton. After 14 months of waiting (we will have waited less time from booking our wedding until our wedding day) it was honestly the best thing I've ever seen in my life. I cried so much.

I am now even more obsessed with Hamilton (no, I didn't think it was possible either!) and I cannot wait to see it again!

Days out and trips

I've had so many good trips and days out this year! 

In April we went to see Jaws in Concert with a live orchestra, which was my present to Phil for Christmas last year and we saw The Killers in July which was absolutely incredible.

In June I took my first trip to Center Parcs with Phil's family which was so much fun.

But the highlight has to be doing The Crystal Maze for Phil's Dad's 60th in June. It was honestly one of the best things I've ever done in my last - I cannot recommend it more.

Self care

One of my goals for 2018 was to find what works for my anxiety, and I've done some really positive work this year. I completed 32 days of yoga in January and after rereading that blog post last week I signed up next January's 30 days too!

I've also really cut down on my social media usage this year. I was finding that Instagram and Facebook just weren't making me feel good! I deleted all social media apps off my phone in May and now only use them in browser (so sorry anyone who has ever tagged me in an Instagram story or sent me an Instagram message - I can't see them in Safari!), and more recently I've just been logged out of them and only check my notifications every few days. I almost never scroll through and I don't feel like I'm missing anything! It's made a huge difference in me not comparing myself to other people constantly.

Finally, I've just completed a year of HappyFeed. It's a super simple app, but it's been brilliant for me this year. Every day you put into it 3 happy things about that day. That's it. Some days are easy, some are MUCH harder. And then through the year you can look back, or shake it for a random day. I think I've only missed 5 days this year (and I am so mad about those 5 days!) and I'm looking forward to carrying on with it in 2019.

I've had a great 2018 and I am so (SO SO SO SO) excited for 2019!

Have an amazing new year and I'll see you in 2019!

Charlotte x

Monday, 3 December 2018

November Life Lately

So here is is, Merry Christmas! December is here!

I absolutely love December - Christmas is my favourite time of the year and this year we have our engagement anniversary to celebrate too on Boxing Day!

But enough about December, here's what I got up to in November...

What I did
As Phil and I were both brought up Catholic and are getting married in a Catholic church (it's actually the church my parents were married in!) we had to attend marriage classes which we did this month. It sounds a bit weird, but it actually made a lot of sense (I mean, it is a pretty big commitment!) and we actually found the parts about communication really useful!

In other wedding news, I picked up my wedding dress this month! I was so nervous! I was so scared I wouldn't fit or I wouldn't like it or it wouldn't look like I remembered, but it was amazing and beautiful and I fell in love with it all over again! I was in a pretty stressful place with wedding planning when I picked it, but going back with nearly everything sorted for the wedding and feeling so excited was amazing. It's so weird that it's just hanging at my Mum's house! I've got a few adjustments to have done in the new year but I can't believe it's mine and we have it!
On the same day as I picked up my dress, Phil and I went out to celebrate 5 years together! Our anniversary was actually the Thursday but we spent the evening of the day getting prepped for having friends over for dinner the following night. Five years feels both so long and so short - longer than all of high school!, a year longer than my whole degree!, but I also feel like I can barely remember my life before Phil. It really has been the best 5 years of my life so far.

Sorry, another wedding-related one - we went to look at wedding rings! I'm not sure if I talked a lot about my actual ring when we got engaged cause I was so thrilled and excited, but my ring was actually custom made. Phil made several trip to the ring man (unbeknown to me, of course, who was in the middle of studying for my marketing diploma!) and chose everything from the setting of the diamond to the style of the band to the diamond, so we knew we had to go back to discuss our wedding rings. I can now completely appreciate how hard it was for Phil to design a ring! I think we've chosen our rings now, but we're going back next month to finalise them. I can't wait for us to both have wedding rings!

Speaking of my marketing diploma, I had my graduation! It feels so long ago that I finished (I handed my last piece of coursework in a year last week!) but it was so good to actually celebrate graduating! Because I did my course through distance learning it was really nice to chat to other people who have done the course - I'd never had that while I studied - and I loved going down to London with my family and Phil and getting dressed up in my robes! No more degrees for me for a while now, okay?

So at some time in 2012, I started talking to Sarah on Twitter. Neither of us remembers when or how it happened, but over the last 6 years we have spoken at least every week, if not every day, and we decided this was the year we would finally meet up! So back in August we made plans and last month we booked our train tickets and met up in Birmingham. We had the absolute best day and we had even more in common than we had expected! It's so cool to have met properly in person and I hope we can meet up again soon!

Where I went

One of my work friends, Emily, was nominated for an award at the Manchester PA Network Awards at the start of the month, and I was thrilled when she invited me to come along. It was so nice getting dressed up and going to a proper awards ceremony - I was buzzing about the goodie bag!

Last year for our anniversary, Phil and I went to El Gato Negro in Manchester and it was honestly one of the best meals we'd ever had, so we really had to raise the bar for this year's anniversary. We do British Military Fitness in Bruntwood park and every time we're doing burpees in the cold or press ups in the mud we say, we should really go for a meal at the hotel in the park. And given it was a particularly special occasion, that's what we did! Oddfellows on the park was absolutely amazing - the food was incredible, the service was wonderful and we just had the best anniversary meal. And we got to dress up and get my parents' to take a photo of us and accidentally both wore the same jackets and did the same pose as we did on our one year anniversary 4 years ago.

One thing we really wanted to do while we were in London for my graduation was go to see The Clock exhibition at the Tate. Phil's auntie and uncle could not have recommended it more when they went to see it, and as film fans we were instantly sold. We queued for about an hour, and managed to catch it between 5pm and 6pm. I didn't want to leave! I wish so much we'd had more time - if it ever comes to Manchester I think I'd do a full day. Honestly, if you're in London before it closes, make sure you catch it. It's brilliant.

Finally, this month, my cousin took me along on her birthday trip to see Kinky Boots on Friday and it was so much fun!

What I read
8 books read this month! I'm thrilled that this month I doubled my reading goal of 40 books and read my 80th book of the year. 

Here's what I read this month:

Since we Fell
The Bus on Thursday
The House of Impossible Beauties
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Convenience Store Woman
The Future Won't be Long
I am, I am, I am

This was a bit of a mixed bag. It was the first time pretty much all year that I ran down all my library returns so I was struck with serious decision fatigue! Two of these books I really didn't enjoy and unfortunately read them in a row (thankfully quickly!), but I really loved The House of Impossible Beauties, Convenience Store Woman, and I am, I am, I am  was amazing and made me cry.

What I watched
Not a big watching month November. Only one cinema trip to see Widows, which I loved, and Phil did not.

At home we watched Susperia, Life Animated and Insomnia.

And then we finished The Haunting of Hill House and I cried and seriously I am bereft. The best thing I've watched in months, if not years. I am still sad it's over.

What I bought
I love Felicity Cloake's Perfect columns in the Guardian, so as soon as I found out about her book Completely Perfect I raced down to Waterstones! It's a collect of some of her best "perfect" recipes, from poached eggs to brownies to hollandaise sauce. So far I've only made a few things but it's a brilliant reference and a book I'm finding myself picking up and browsing regularly.

Oh and I bought the brightest of bright pink jumpers after wanting it last year from Oasis and finding it on Depop for £15. Needless say, this got a LOT of comments at work.

What I loved
Last moth I caved and bought the Mowgli Street Food book because I love the restaurant so much (I took Sarah when we were in Birmingham!) and I'm so glad I did because everything has been amazing! The Mowgli paneer in particular is incredible and having tried the green rhubard dal in the restaurant I really want to give that I go.

Daisy Buchanan is one of my favourite writers, so I was really excited when I found out she was releasing a podcast, and I was even more excited when I found out it was about books!

I always say I was raised on country music as my parents listened to the country music channel constantly throughout my childhood, so when I do listen to country music I tend to stick to my 90s favourites. But I've got Phil listening to country and he's got me into more modern country and now it's all I listen to! I absolutely love using Spotify to find loads of new-to-me country artists!

What I read online
Grazia - Some women can't afford to exercise and telling them they're lazy is not okay
The Pool - What is the point of a body that looks good but can't do anything?
The Pool - How to stop being busy (and get more done)
The Pool - When your social life is booked months in advance, it's time to take radical action
The Guardian - Why we need difficult books
Vulture - How scary is The Haunting of Hill House really?
Buzzfeed - Girl, wash your face is a massive best seller with a dark message
Lauren Bravo - Thoughts on becoming
The Guardian - Why there's no such thing as the perfect vegan
Yes and Yes - Everything is socially contagious (and what to do about it)
Yes and Yes - How to be more self aware of your knee-jerk bad habits
Thrillist - I found the best burger place in America. Then I killed it
Andie Mitchell - How I felt after having James
Be more with Less - A Toast to the tiny steps
Lauren Bravo - An open letter to my online shopping parcel
Vogue - How to be thankful (when it feels like the rest of the world is going crazy)
This Twitter thread
The Pool - I changed my antidepressants. This is what happened next
The Pool - Do you care too much about what other people think?
Glamour - Why I'm never cooking dinner for a man again after my divorce

I'll be back in the next few weeks with my yearly round ups and reviews - I'm weighing up a separate post to talk about all the books I read and loved this year too!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 4 November 2018

October Life Lately

Hey, November! I'm a couple of days late with this because I've been ill with a cold that turned into maybe a chest infection and then probably laryngitis! I think I'm almost over the worst of it, but losing my voice over the weekend was especially fun!

October was a lovely month. We spent lots of time with friends, watched lots of scary films and TV, read lots of books, and I ran another half marathon!

Here's what I did in October...

What I've been doing
We've booked our honeymoon eeeee!! I am SO EXCITED. We going to do a little minimoon straight after the wedding, and we're doing the "megamoon" in September. We're flying to Vancounver and spending 5 days there, then hiring a car and spending a few nights in a few areas around the Rockies. We're most looking forward to going to Banff which looks incredibly beautiful! Then we're flying to Vancouver and spending a few nights there, before we take a trip to Niagra Falls and spend a night there. I don't think I've ever been so excited for a holiday in my life

I booked some annual leave this month around the weekend of my half marathon which was perfect. I got my nails done, met my friend Kayleigh for lunch, went to the cinema and went to our friends for dinner on the Friday (and met their dog, Kojak, and we are officially in love!)

Saturday I volunteered at parkrun and then we, erm, went to the cinema again! Then we had coffee with my best friend, Eve, which turned into a trip to the pub (and a lime and soda for me!) with Kayleigh and her boyfriend joining us too.

Then I was up bright and early on the Sunday for half marathon number 7! I was feeling incredible apprehensive about this race. It was my first race in nearly 18 months where I hadn't been fighting injuries, I'd trained hard and diligently been to the physio and done the recommended exercises, but I'd had some illness a couple of weeks before and I really wasn't feeling my best. I was feeling frustrated and disappointing that after months of training, I wouldn't quite get there on the day.

This was always supposed to be my "come back" race. I'd run a 2:05 last year and a 2:10 in the summer, and I'd gone into training hoping for a new PB. As time went on, I had no idea of what I was going to achieve, but I'd decided a PB wasn't going to happen, but I knew I'd be thrilled at under 2 hours. Even though I'd run sub 2 hours twice, it's still a huge achievement for me, but I was killing myself looking back at my times from parkruns and long runs from 2016 and convincing myself I wasn't in the peak fitness I needed to be at to run sub 2.

On the day, I told myself I'd be happy with anything under last year's 2:05, but I knew I was secretly going for that sub 2. I found myself in the third pen from the front with a 1:55 pacer (I'd obviously been ambitious with my predicted time!) and no 2:00 pacer in my starting group, so I held back as much as possible, and was one of the last of my group to cross the start line.

I had my pacing plan sorted. Negative splits - a 9:20 pace by 5K, 9:15 by 10K and then by 10 miles a 9:10, giving me some wiggle room for the finish. When I crossed the 5K mark at 29:14, I knew I was going to do it.

I am so proud of myself on a day where I didn't think it would happen. I was so determined that I forced myself to be patient, even when the 2 hour pacer who started 5 minutes behind me overtook me a few miles in. I had to trust my pacing, trust my training, and keep my focus. I crossed the finish line with another 1:59 under my belt, and it felt just as good as a PB!

With the wedding and honeymoon next year, I don't plan to run any half marathons. It will be my first year since 2014 that I won't have run one, but I know I won't have the energy or time to focus on what the distance requires of me, so that made this race extra poignant. I'm hoping to run a few 10Ks next year instead, and look forward to my usual two halves a year in 2020!

And then on the Monday, still hobbling a bit, we had our pre-wedding photos done! They were supposed to be on Saturday, which was exactly 6 months til our wedding, but the weather was awful so we rescheduled for Monday. We got a sneak peek a few weeks ago and this week got the full set back and we love them! I cannot wait for Amy to photograph our big day!

Where I've been
A couple of weeks ago we went to the Plaza in Stockport to see a special screening of The Prestige with a talk about Victorian magic and science, as part of Manchester Science Festival which was really cool!

We also did Foodie Friday at Stockport market for the second month in a row.

We also did some parkrun tourism at Wythenshawe last week, ticking off another one from our list! (I genuinely have a list...).

We had a little Halloween gathering at my friend Riven's last weekend too where I had my face painted and ate some delicious food and it was lovely.

What I've been reading
9 full books and one short story this month:

The Ruin
The Pool - Life Honestly
The Overstory
Bird Box, and the short story Ghastle and Yule
The Friendship Cure
Washington Black
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant
What would the Spice Girls do?

While I've read a lot this month, I've not loved much of what I've read! I enjoyed both The Pool's Life Honestly, which is a collection of articles from The Pool, some I'd read and some I hadn't, and Lauren Bravo's brilliant What would the Spice Girls do?

I also loved Bird Box as a scary story for Halloween, and Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, which was my perfect quiet family story. I'm looking forward to reading more of Anne Tyler!

What I've been eating
I finally (begrudgingly, sadly), broke into my pumpkins this week so it's been quite autumnal around here!

I made my favourite sri lankan pumpkin dal, then this week we've had pumpkin stew, an amazing pumpkin curry from Fresh India and my friend Cate's amazing toffee apple cake.

I also bought the Mowgli book after our friensd cooked us dinner from it, and what I've so far has been amazing. I also made my own paneer this month and couldn't believe how easy it was, so paneer is definitely going to be on the menu more around here!

What I've been watching
We vowed to only watch scary things at home this month, so we watched The HauntingInterview with the Vampire and got my friend Eve to watch The Thing for the first time, but then we started The Haunting of Hill House and that took over our usual Sunday film time. We have one episode left and while I have out-loud screamed twice it has honestly been one of the best things I've watched in ages, and this former horror-scaredy-cat is feeling quite proud of herself!

Oh and I've also started the TV series of Salt Fat Acid Heat and Samin Nosrat is the cutest.

We've been to the cinema 5 times this month - The Hate U Give was a secret unlimited screening and I was thrilled when the name popped up as I loved the book and it was a pretty good adaptation. We also saw First Man which didn't quite live up to my insanely high expectations, and A Star is Born which I reallllly didn't fancy and ended up adoring. We also went to see the new Halloween and Bohemian Rhapsody.

What I've been reading online

WYNC - The story behind the greatest Halloween video on the internet
A Rosie Outlook - Pure, unadulterated joy
The Pool - For years I thought of Topshop as a feminist space. Not any more
The Pool - Why we all need to stumble more
Rebel Angel - Dealing with emetophobia while pregnant (a hugely important read for this emetophobe!)
The Washington Post - Netflix's Salt Fat Acid Heat is unlike any other food show on TV
Writing Between Pauses - Things I love
Yes and Yes - Replace a bad habit
Joe Rivers - Popfessions
The Pool - Why does "good" TV have to be challenging?
Rebel Angel - Slow living: My plans to parent a baby sustainably

What I'm excited about in November

So this Thursday is our 5 year anniversary (!) so I'm looking forward to getting dressed up and going for a nice meal. I've also got my first wedding dress fitting (eeeek!) next weekend and also a meeting with the guy who Phil worked with to custom-make my engagement ring to discuss our wedding rings, which is very exciting!

We're also heading down to London in a couple of weeks for my graduation from my Diploma in Professional Marketing, and I'm also going to be meeting up with my friend Sarah towards the end of the month!

Charlotte x