Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Twit Twooo

girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit
This outfit is a combination of my two current favourite things; this primark dress and the adorable owl jumper I wore yesterday. I wasn't sure if this outfit was going to work, but I got it into my head yesterday and knew I had to try it. I also attempted a kind of fake-tuck using a belt under my jumper. It doesn't work 100% but it's more secure than rolling it. All I did was belt the dress at the waist and tuck the jumper up into it. Like I said it's not that neat and it's a little bunchy at the back (even though I always downsize my jumpers- this one is a size 6 and it's still big!) but I do like this outfit. I really, really wanted to wear different boots. I really, really did. I tried another pair on with this outfit, but I always end up coming back to these. I really need to replace them because they're rubbing away at the front but I can't find a pair I like as much!
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit girl next door fashion outfit
I'm still having a pretty good week! I went out for a drink (read: diet coke) with one of my best friends, Shaunagh, last night. I hadn't seen her since January so it was so good to catch up. When I first came home I was worried about not having many friends back here, but I've started to realise that it's not about the number of friends I have. Sure, I only have three or four close friends back home. But that's the point, close friends. Friends I had since I was a teenager, friends who know me inside out. Friends who I can go months without seeing, but when I do see them it's like we've never been apart. I'm also seeing all my uni friends within the next few weeks, which makes me really happy. I'm off to Birmingham tomorrow to see my best friend Ellen and then we're meeting my other best friend Steph on her lunch break. Then next weekend I'm going down to Surrey to see the rest of my group. My biggest complaint lately has been feeling like I have nothing to look forward to. After months of being abroad, living away from home and travelling, it's easy to come home and feel deflated. But I know it's up to me to create these things. To say yes to opportunities, to make plans to see at least somebody every week, to make skype dates with friends far away, to make long-term arrangements. My parents always tell me my life can't always be exciting. I can't always have all these exciting travel plans. But I can still find things to look forward to and enjoy those moments. I read this post on (of course) Thought Catalog last night on not wasting your youth. Of course, I've done a lot of the exciting things; living in another country, travelling etc. but I can use this time to make new goals, have new experiences and learn new skills. Just because I'm living at home and not off on another crazy adventure doesn't mean I can't have a good time and use this time wisely.
girl next door fashion outfit
dress (worn as skirt)- Primark
jumper- New Look
necklace- Forever 21
boots- New Look
lipstick- Mac Faux
girl next door fashion outfit
Well that's all from me for today. I'm off to Birmingham tomorrow but I'm hoping to get a recipe post up when I get home. With it being Halloween tonight I had to make something pumpkin related, so I'm planning on making a pumpkin curry and putting the recipe up tomorrow!
Have a wonderful day guys!

Charlotte x

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Comfy Cosy

girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit
Bit of a comfy, cosy outfit for a lazy day today. It's basically a cultimation of all my autumny stuff at once. I've been feeling pretty uninspired lately, so today I jut decided to throw on whatever I felt like wearing. It's probably not my favourite outfit ever, but it's simple, warm and cosy. And some days that's just what you need. I also wanted an excuse to wear my moccasin boots. I always regretted not buying a pair of moccasins while I was living in Minnesota and I kept seeing them everywhere while I was travelling. But I knew I had to get them back in MN, especially as one of my best friends is from Minnetonka! I bought these while I was back in Duluth when I spent the day with the lovely Ashley from Two Eyes in the Mirror and we both bought the same pair! The only thing with moccasins, and something I know Sian talked about too, is they're a very casual shoe and they tend to make everything look very laid back. But fortunately, for this outfit, laid back was what I was going for!
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit girl next door fashion outfit
owl jumper- New Look
maroon skirt- River Island
leather jacket- H&M
boots- Minnetonka Moccasins 
scarf- Forever 21
girl next door fashion outfit
I apologise for the lack of outfit photos lately. The main reason for this is because I've not really been wearing a lot of normal outfits! I've had four job interviews in the last 8 days so I've spent 3 days in the last week in a pencil skirt and suit jacket, and then two days this week were lazy days at home when I only left the house to work out, so I spent both of those days in sweatpants! I've had a good couple of days though; yesterday I had a job interview and then I came home and did both my couch to 5K and my 30 Day Shred. I was so proud of myself! Today has been a bit of a lazy day- finishing season 5 of Dexter (now onto season 6!), reading my book, doing my run and my work out and I'm going for a catch up with one of my best friends tonight.
girl next door fashion outfit
Have a great day guys! And oh if you haven't already, you should definitely sign up for Char's blogger secret santa!

Charlotte x

ps. I seem to match my background a lot today! My hair is the same colour as the tree behind me and my boots match the bush!

Monday, 29 October 2012

All Dressed Up

I love fancy dress. I mean I really love fancy dress...
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit

girl next door fashion outfitgirl next door fashion outfit
So when costume company contacted me a few months ago asking me if I wanted a costume to review, it was a bit of a no brainer. And with halloween around the corner, how could I possibly resist? But what to go as? As I'm sure you can see from my photos above, as much as I love dressing up, my costume are always homemade, so getting a real costume was both exciting and intimidating. This is also my first Halloween as a brunette! 
Now as you can see, Wonder Woman had already been done, and I didn't want to do anything too sexy, or anything too silly and I wanted to chose something that would work well with brunette hair and also be a costume I would wear again and again. So, I went for Snow White. Cute, fun, and of course, a brunette girl! It was a really fun costume and I had a great time dressed up as her!
girl next door fashion outfit
costume- c/o
wedges- New Look
girl next door fashion outfit

girl next door fashion outfit
The costume was adorable and came with the little headband, and also some garters if you wanted to make it a little more sexy. I kept it simple by just adding some red wedges, curls and red lipstick. I may also have thrown on a leather jacket because it was a bit chilly-I think Snow White would have approved!
The only thing I will say about this costume is it does run a little big! I ordered a small which was a 10-12 and I had to ask my Mum to pin it at the back, so make sure you size down!
I had a great time dressed up as Snow White! What about you? Did you dress up for Halloween?

Charlotte x

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Week in Photos

Wheee I haven't done one of these in a while! It's nice to get back into a routine. Here are some photos from the last two weeks (I completely ran out of time to post one of these last week!). I hope you enjoy! 
1. Yummy breakfast I made for my Mum and I
Poached eggs with rachero sauce, goat's cheese and spinach. Yum!
2. The best £3 blusher you can buy
I was a little scepitcal about this Aldi sunset blusher and the beauty bloggers claiming it a dupe for Nars Orgasm, but I absolutely love it as a pretty, every day blusher.
3. My new favourite dress
For about half of the first week I was home, this was all I wore. Okay I look a little bit like a nun, but who says that's a bad thing?!
4. Diet lunch
Southerwesten bean salad, with boiled eggs and spinach. Actually really good!
5. How I am enjoying my unemployment
I am so behind on Dexter so I've borrowed seasons 5 and 6 from my uncle. Season 5 is getting so good!
6. Healthy Nutella
A fantastic recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie, that I love on ryvitas or with apples for a healthy chocolatey fix!
7. MUA Undressed palette
I'd heard a lot about the MUA Heaven and Earth palette, but as I already have the Naked palette I didn't need a dupe. I thought this palette was a nice addition as I don't have Naked 2.
8. Skull Earrings
How awesome are these skull earrings? You can't really tell but they're made of tiny diamante!
9. Best start to the day
Seriously, I love this oatmeal.
I had sour patch kids for the first time on my year abroad last year and throughout my year back home I had to rely on my personal stash and my American friends to send me them throughout the year. I came back after my summer in the US with four big bags that Josh bought me, only to find they have them over here now! I haven't had any yet because I'm on a diet, but I hear they don't taste quite the same. But still, this is exciting!
11. Holy Moly Guacamole
This lower calorie guacamole by Hungry Girl tastes just as good as the real thing with a fraction of the calories. I've been eating it with mexican salads and scrambled egg whites. Mmm.
12. Parsnip and Pear Soup
I was in Manchester for a job interview on Tuesday and wanted something yummy but healthy for lunch so I did a bit of googling to find somewhere to go. I found myself at the Soup Kitchen in the Northern Quarter which is now my new favourite lunch spot. This soup was unbelievable!
13. Post- swimming hot chocolate
A necessity!
14. Homemade Butternut Squash soup
Fancy some yourself? The recipe is here!
15. Banana and Pineapple smoothie
I ran out of time for lunch on Thursday so I made this big, lovely smoothie. I haven't been able to find frozen pineapple in the UK but loved these smoothies in the US, so I took advantage of some cheap pineapples in Aldi and froze them.
16. Chickpea and Aubergine tagine for dinner on Thursday
One of my absolute favourite dinners. Stay tuned for the recipe next week!
17. Naughty Purchases
Oh I'm not supposed to be shopping, but I really couldn't resist.
18. 30 Day Shred
Man oh man I love this DVD. It's really really tough but I know it's such a great workout. I always feel so great afterwards!
19. Prawn, mango and avocado salad
This was probably the best salad I have ever made. Ever. 
20. Panda jumper kinda day
Yesterday was definitely a panda jumper day. This jumper is my biggest and cosiest and of course, it has a panda on it!
21. A collection of crap from my coat pocket
I pulled my fur coat out of the coat closet on Saturday and here are the things I found in the pocket- a shopping list from my year abroad (over a year and a half ago), a New York subway ticket (from my first trip to New York last March), a dollar bill, a Pizza Luce mint wrapper, a cinema ticket from Duluth and some train tickets from Birmingham!
22. Yummy lunch with my parents
I haven't had bread in absolutely ages so this goat's cheese and spinach panini was a real treat!
23-24: Halloween with my bestie Eve
More photos of my Snow White costume to come tomorrow!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Fitness Friday

I've been absolutely loving Michelle's Fitness Friday posts and have found myself looking forward to them all week. I love her honesty about the difficulties faced when trying to lose weight, build fitness and enjoy life along the way. As I'm trying to lose weight at the moment too, I thought it might be fun to have a similar feature over here. Like my Foodie Thursday post yesterday, I don't know yet if this will end up as a regular feature, but I like to think having this as a feature would really encourage me to stick to my goals. And at least if I do cheat, I can share those mishaps with you!
Michelle's posts have a really great essay style to them, with tips included, which I really like, but for the time being (this week at least!), I'm going to keep it kinda goal-orientated, and I'd like to keep that structure every week. But of course, we'll see what happens!
So, onto this week!

Weekly Update
So since I started with my diet and exercise regime (a week and a half ago) I've lost around 3 pounds. I'm one of those people who wants fast, instant results and obviously, this isn't going to happen. But as I'm trying to lose around 10 pounds, this is actually perfect and means I should be down to where I want to be in about 5 weeks, which is just in time for my graduation! I've been using My Fitness Pal to track my calories and have been sticking to its prescribed 1200 calories, but on days when I have worked out, I have been "eating" my calories. This is something I'd like to cut down on. While obvious I am going to have to eat more on days I have worked out, I want to avoid eating all the worked out calories. But as my exercise regime is going to be changing, this won't be a problem so much. Which leads to my next point.
For the past two weeks, the majority of my exercise has been walking, with the occasional swim thrown in. While this is great and easy exercise, it hasn't really been pushing me. However, walking has been a great way to get some exercise in. I tracked my walking on a few days when I was just rushing around and was surprised at how many I burned (I walk very fast!). I do enjoy my morning swim, but I have to go very early (morning swim is 6.30-8.30am and it's a 20 minute walk there) and it often leaves me very tired and hungry, especially after the walk there and back. For example on Wednesday I pushed myself to swim an extra 10 lengths more than usual and I ended up feeling a bit weary and faint all day. Probably not a great idea!
So today my 30 Day Shred DVD arrived and I decided to get back on Couch to 5K. I absolutely hate running. Really hate it. But I do want to be able to do it. Even day one, week one kinda killed me today. But I did the run which took me about 2 miles away, and then I walked back. While I won't always have the time for a 30 minute run and a 30 minute walk back, that walk home really got my heartbeat down and the endorphins started to kick in, so I hope I can do that as much as possible. Then when I got home, I wasn't hungry enough for lunch yet (which was definitely a good side effect of the work out!) so I thought I'd start the 30 Day Shred. I was a little apprehensive about it, but found it tough but manageable. My plan is to do the 30 Day Shred every day for a month, and do Couch to 5K three days a week. I also might add additional walking and rebounding. Although working out today was intense at the time, I feel so, so good now. However, I might feel differently in the morning! At the moment while I'm not working I do have lots of time for this, and my routine will have to adapt when I do get a job, but I'm definitely going to take advantage of this free time to exercise while it lasts!

Foodie Finds
Sticking to 1200 calories is actually a lot easier than I expected, and the key was a few key food changes. I try to eat a lot of protein, a lot of fruit and vegetables and good grains. Breakfast is nearly always this oatmeal, which I'm kinda obsessed with, which I have with some honey (I also use only 1/2 cup of oats and one whole egg. 2/3 of a cup kills me and I don't want to waste 4 egg yolks!), or I have poached eggs and ranchero sauce. Lunch is usually soup, salad or egg white scramble (yes you can get liquid egg whites in the UK now! They have them in large Sainsburys stores!), and dinner is almost always something I make from scratch with a vegetable and pulse base or fish. I always have my evening dish with lots of vegetables and occasionally some grain such as quinoa or brown rice. This week I've been cooking pesto and feta salmon, aubergine and chickpea tagine, quinoa and sweet potato chilli  and thai coconut shrimp. I also love to snack on fruit, mini babybel and nuts and raisins, but when I want a chocolate fix I go for homemade nutella and apple slices, light hot chocolate and light chocolate mousse. I use a lot of Hungry Girl recipes as I have two of her books, and while a lot of the ingredients aren't available in the UK, I did find that Weight Watchers do 107 calorie tortillas, so I'll be using these to make some of her tortilla recipes that I love! Her Holy Moly Guacamole is also fab, and I had this amazing shrimp salad for lunch!

What I've Learned
- Exercise hurts at the time, but feels good later
- Walking is better than no exercise at all
- I am a little-and-often eater. For example, I might really fancy a banana after my morning oatmeal, but I know it will make me a little over-full and I'll still be hungry again in three hours. So, it works best for me to wait those three hours and then eat the banana. 
- Snacking is good. And having them with me in my handbag is always a great idea
- But I should wait a while after eating a meal before deciding if I really want that snack
- Sugar free blackcurrant squash is a great alternative to water
- Running is tough for me, but hopefully worth the work
- Tracking my calories keeps me honest!

Next Week's Goals
- Continue with the 30 Day Shred every day and start working towards level 2
- Continue with Couch to 5K three days a week
- Try to fit in other cardio between these work outs
- Find more yummy, healthy food to enjoy!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

I thought about trying to make this some kind of weekly feature- Food Thursday maybe- but let's be honest, I absolutely suck at regular features. But as I said a few weeks ago, I want to include a few more different features including food, makeup and some free writing. So, here's some food!
girl next door fashion outfit

girl next door fashion outfit

girl next door fashion outfit
I love soup. I really, really love soup. My friend Bri and I once decided we could live on salad and soup. I would definitely be okay with that. There is nothing more fulling, satisfying and healthy than a good bowl of soup on a cold day. While I am a big fan of those cartons and chilled containers of soup you can buy at the supermarket, it's much more satisfying to make your own. This recipe is super-quick, super-easy and it's absolutely delicious. Plus once you've bought the squash, the rest of the ingredients are store cupboard staples. I've adapted this recipe ever so slightly from The Vegetarian Student Cookbook.

One butternut squash (I usually use one medium sized one- the recipe suggests about 875g of squash)
Oil for frying (I use frylight)
2 onions
1 garlic clove
1 litre vegetable stock
salt and peppper

1. Cut the squash in half. Cut off the head and remove the seeds. Peel off the skin and cut into cubes. (This is kinda tricky, I'm not gonna lie. I always have a bit of a battle cutting it up and peeling it. Don't worry about any bits of extra skin. I never do.)
2. Spray a large, deep pan with fry light (or a few drops of olive oil). Add the onion, garlic and squash and fry for 5 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Blend the soup. I have a hand-held blender so I just use that in the pan, but if you have a food processor or blender, just pour it in and blend. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Pour into bowls and enjoy!

This recipe serves four, but freezes and reheats well.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Black and Maroon

girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit
I apologise for the unexpected blog hiatus. I've had a bit of a crazy week with recruitment assessment days, job interviews, preparation for job interviews, family stuff, socialising... no time to blog at least! But it's kinda been good to have a break. I've mentioned before that I've kinda felt uninspired by my wardrobe and blogging in general over the last few weeks so I've had some time to reflect and get back in the zone. This morning I decided to hunt through my wardrobe for everything that I felt was "autumn-y" to help me feel inspired. What I really did was make a big mess and end up with clothes strewn all over the floor. But hey, this outfit came out of it.
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit girl next door fashion outfit
maroon trousers- River Island
black shirt- local boutique
leather jacket- H&M
necklace- Forever
leopard boots- Primark
girl next door fashion outfit
To let's talk about this outfit. I bought this blouse last week at a little boutique in my local village. It's actually white at the back and it has a kind of mullet hem, which makes it difficult to tuck into jeans! You can see a little bit of the white hanging out at the back in some of these photos! I can't wait to wear it with a little skater skirt and thick tights. I've also been living in these maroon trousers lately. I'm not a huge fan of oxblood but I do love maroon, and luckily I have a lot of maroon. I also decided to brave this lipstick colour today. I debuted it on instagram a few days ago and wasn't sure if I liked it, but I had a great response so I thought I'd give it a go. And the leopard boots were a steal in Primark so I thought I'd use them to give the outfit a bit of fun! I've also finally had my hair coloured! I kinda made a mess of styling it today and my fringe is all over the place, but my new hairdresser is fab and got my hair the perfect reddish brown that I wanted. Wheee!
girl next door fashion outfit
Hopefully it won't be another week before I blog again! I'm sure it won't. I just need to keep my inspiration up and force myself into some kind of routine! Coming back to blogging has been great though- I was featured on Sally's weekly links list this week and on the Grazia website again!
I hope you're having a great week!

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Best Kind of Blazer

From a distance, this looks like a normal grey printed blazer...
girl next door fashion outfit
But then you see it up close, and you're like OH MY GOD IT'S COVERED IN PANDAS...
girl next door fashion outfit
My name is Charlotte and I'm a pandaholic. My panda collection contains two hats, one pair of gloves, slippers, a pillow pet, a jumper, one ring, one necklace, one tshirt, two pairs of pajamas, multiple pairs of socks and now this blazer. The second I saw it in Primark it was love at first sight. And it was in the sale. For SEVEN POUNDS.This morning I knew I had to put it on, but I was a bit stuck on how to wear it. I've kinda been living in my leather skirt the last few days so I didn't want to put that on again, so I thought I'd go for mixed prints with this little striped dress. Which is also from Primark. YEAH I LOVE PRIMARK WHAT.
girl next door fashion outfit
girl next door fashion outfit
I finally had my hair done today, so you won't have to deal with horribly messy sock buns like this. Actually, that's a lie. You will definitely have to deal with more messy sock buns. But I am very happy that my hair is not five thousand different shades of brown and blonde. It is now a nice, chocolatey reddy brown. I was a bit nervous about getting my hair done because my hairdresser has had a career change so I had to have someone new. I get very attached to my hairdressers. Becky has been doing my hair for four years. Longer than my degree, in fact. If her and my hair had been dating, I think they'd want her to make an honest woman out of it. But thankfully, I'm very happy.
girl next door fashion outfit
dress- Primark
blazer- Primark
boots- New Look
necklace- Forever 21
girl next door fashion outfit
I've got some exciting stuff coming up on the next few days but I'm going to keep it a secret for now. Let's just wait and see.

Charlotte x