Tuesday, 31 December 2013

What I did in 2013 and Getting Ready for 2014

I kind of expected 2013 to be boring. It has been the first year since 2009 that I've not spent any time living abroad, and the first year since 2007 that I've spent living entirely in one place. 
I knew I'd be living at home with my parents, working 9 til 5. I was away from most of my friends who had moved back home after Uni. 
I didn't have a plan.
But honestly? 2013 has been great.
Sure I haven't traveled across America or saved anyone's life as a lifeguard. I didn't take half a dozen dance classes a week and work in a bar til 4am. 
But this year I've learned that working 9 til 5 doesn't mean you can't have fun after 5pm. I've learned that living at home is actually great and the food is free. I've learned that I can still keep busy, travel to new places and explore new hobbies as a "grown up".
The last two months in particular have probably been the craziest, with two monumental things happening in my life; leaving my job after a year and meeting my boyfriend, Phil. These two things have really changed what 2014 has in store for my and here, on the last day of the year, I'm excited to see what 2014 will bring.
But enough about 2014, we'll get to that. Here's what I did in 2013...

- I took some amazing trips. I went to Amsterdam for my 23rd birthday, went to a family party in Ireland in July, visited Berlin in August and had a week-long family holiday to Spain in September
- I also took some little day trips to Oxford, Doncaster and of course, lots of trips to Birmingham
- I went to some great gigs this year. The Avett Brothers in March, Frank Turner for the 7th time, Matchbox 20 and erm... Blue.
- One of the biggest things I did this year- I started running! I signed up for the Great Manchester Run in May and now I run 4 times a week. This year I have completed ten 5K parkruns, two 10K races and I'm training for a half marathon. I've also run over 280 miles since I started running in June. Not bad for someone who couldn't run at all in May!
- I've also, amazingly, become a morning exerciser! I never thought I could be one of those crazy people who gets up at 5am to exercise before work but yep, that's me! Now I really, really love those quiet 5am runs and hate running at any other time of the day!
- I took two photography courses this year- an Beginners Photography course and an Intermediate Photography course. I've learned so much and I can't wait to take more photos in 2014.
 - A few weeks ago I also took a 20 hour intensive TEFL course, and will be completing the programme in 2014.
- This year I got really, really obsessed with Breaking Bad
- But I still managed to read 26 books. Including 3 months reading War and Peace! I discovered some of my favourite books this year. Middlesex, A Million Little Pieces, It's Kind of a Funny Story, Mysterious Skin, Silver Lining's Playbook, Revolutionary Road, The Descendants, and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. I definitely want to read more next year.
- This year I had a couple of things published, including some of my photos in the Independent newspaper, and a photo in the Adult prospectus for my old college.
- I made my first YouTube video this year and still can't believe how many views it has! Maybe more in 2014?
- 2013 was the year I finally started to give blood! I have now given blood 3 times and am trying to encourage as many people as possible to do it! It is so worth it and you get a free biscuit!
- Speaking of free biscuits, I joined a charity choir this year! I was really missing singing and performing, so when I was invited to join a choir I jumped at the chance. We practice for two hours a week and recently sang in a nursing home for Christmas.
- Oh and I also cut off part of my finger this year. Not a great idea.
- As aforementioned, in October I was set up on a blind date by my cousin with a guy that she worked with. I wasn't really looking for anything serious but thought it might be fun. The guy I met ended up being the sweetest, kindest, funniest, loveliest man I had ever met and I am very proud to call him my boyfriend. I can't wait to start 2014 with him in my life.
- Speaking of Phil, I've also taken a few trips to the theatre this year- something I hadn't done in years! We saw Sweeney Todd and Singing' in the Rain in November.
- And finally in December, I left my job. I'd been unhappy for a while and knew I wanted to try something new. I know I made the right decision and I'm hoping 2014 brings a new job for me!

And remember those 2013 goals for the year? Well, I did okay. I didn't stop biting my nails (but it's back on this year's goals!) but I did visit 5 new places (Amsterdam, Berlin, Oxford, Donaster and Sheffield), and I hit my goal of reading 25 books. I did take two photography courses, however I haven't started to learn a new language yet. And I did complete all my Jillian Michaels DVDs, cooked new meals each month, saw my friends way more than once a month and I did go a year without a plan! In fact I don't have a plan for 2014 either!

In terms of 2014 goals, my theme is really to "Keep on keeping on". For the most part my goals are the same as last year's. I have lots of little goals I want to achieve, but I think I'll save them for my 24 before 25 list (I've actually just realised I didn't write one for my 24th birthday in March). Here is what I'm aiming for in 2014...

Keep Running
I'm training for a Half Marathon in March, so between now and then, I'm working towards that. By after that my plan is just to keep pushing myself and keep signing up for races and keep pushing myself further and faster. Is a marathon on the cards? Maybe not in 2014, but maybe one day in the future.

Keep Reading
2013's goal was 25 books and I read 26. But War and Peace took me three months, and I read five books with over 600 pages, so I could definitely manage 30 books this year.

Keep Taking Photographs
Photography was my big passion earlier in the year, but then it was kind of replaced with running. After taking two courses this year, I really want to get back into the habit of taking my camera everywhere, pushing myself to use what I have and taking photos beyond just outfit photos for my blog.

Keep Travelling
Five new places ended up being quite hard in 2013, so I think I'll try five again this year. I'd like to go to Prague, Barcelona and Bruges this year so fingers crossed. I loved taking short weekend breaks in 2013 so I hope I have more to come next year.

Keep trying to stop biting my nails
This is one I'm determined to do this year. I went a year without biting my nails in 2012 and then fell off the wagon. I've started to get embarrassed about showing my hands to people and that has become a huge motivator for me. Hopefully this year I can kick the habit.

Get a New Job (that I love!)
Obviously, this is a big one. I've been working hard at applying for jobs and have had some success over the last few weeks with a few second interviews, so hopefully I'll be getting somewhere in the next few weeks. Again, fingers crossed.

Keep doing fun things with Phil
One thing I've been trying to avoid with Phil is slipping into routine and getting bored. Of course the first month we were dating we were hemorrhaging money going out for dinner all the time and that was definitely not sustainable! But over the last few weeks we've had a couple of trips to the theatre, a few meals in, visited our familes and of course, had a few nice meals, and I want to continue having fun in 2014. I have a list of restaurants we want to visit together that we're working through, and I'm starting another list of other fun things we want to do. I've promised him a trip to Anfield to watch his favourite team next year, and we're talking about going to Alton Towers for my birthday in March.

Keep taking trips to see my friends
When my Uni friends graduated from university, nearly all of them moved back home. Now only one of my friends lives away from home. This can make things tricky when we're spread out from me in Manchester to Sarah in Surrey, and it can be hard to arrange trips. I think I did pretty well last year with seeing my friends, but I want to focus on it even more next year. Similarly with my friends who live nearby, I like to see them at least once a month, usually once a fortnight. I've done really well with that this year so I want to keep on doing it. Because it makes me happy (duh!)

Keep Blogging
With working full time, I've blogged the least of any other year this year, but I've still managed to do it. It's a struggle with running, writing for Duluth Superior Magazine, singing in a choir and making time to see my friends and boyfriend, but I'm glad I'm still keeping this thing going! Now I'm entering into my fifth year of girl next door fashion I'm determined to keep this going while I still enjoy it, even if I can't post every day anymore.

Keep Not Planning
(Questionable grammar required to keep the theme). I have even less of an idea about 2014 than I knew about 2013. I'm entering into a year of unknowns. But I'm okay with that. I don't know where I'm going to be at the end of 2014 but I know I'm excited. And I don't think I've said that at the start of a New Year for a long time.

Finally, I know I've said this before, but thank you for all your support throughout 2013. I know I haven't been posting as much as usual, but you guys have been great throughout a year which was for the most part, me figuring out how to make time while working full time!

I hope you have a lovely New Year! See you next year!

Charlotte x

Monday, 30 December 2013

Thank God It's Christmas

Ah sorry for that little break. I definitely needed a few days away from blogging to recharge my batteries and really enjoy Christmas. I hope yours was lovely. Everything gets a bit manic with blogging at the end of the year- outfit roundups, the year in review, December in photos, goals for the New Year etc.- so my response was to just step away and well, avoid it for a few days! So here is my, very belated, Christmas post. Starting with what I wore on Christmas Eve.
I have a habit of buying something, falling in love with it, and then wearing it all the time. Hello, tartan trousers. Fact fans, these are the only item of clothing I have bought since October, and I've worn them 5 times. I thought this outfit would be smart but still fun for the Crowley Family Christmas Eve get-together we have at our house every year. I wanted to wear heels but I couldn't find my insoles and last time I wore my black heels they ripped my feet to shreds. Plus I was at home and also, comfort.
tartan trousers- Topshop
blouse- Primark
ballet flats- H&M
blazer- Zara
So as I mentioned, we have some traditions on Christmas Eve. We always go out for lunch the three of us, and we always go to the same place. After lunch we head back home and get ready for family coming. Christmas Eve is always really casual but I always really enjoy it. About half of my family come round (which is still a lot- my Dad is one of eight children so just my immediate family is nearly 30 people), and we just have a bit of a buffet and a chat. And this year Phil came which was really lovely. I'm easing him in to meeting my entire huge family! Phil and I also exchanged presents on Christmas Eve because we weren't seeing each other until Boxing Day.
Christmas Eve lunch/I was in charge of buffet snacks/presents for Phil

I was more excited about giving Phil his presents than anything else this Christmas! I bought him this awesome Breaking Bad print and its frame, a Salmon cookbook (we always eat salmon!), some Liverpol FC socks and underwear, a Heisenberg tshirt and Cards Against Humanity. Also above, my Christmas Eve lunch of sizzling prawns and the snack selection I prepared for Christmas Eve!
Presents from Phil/Allllll my presents/Betsey Johnson Watch

I did well this year! Phil got me a Garmin Forerunner 10 (might have asked for it...), two DVDs (Now You See Me and The Prestige. I like magic!) and a stocking of sweets and chocolate, including a pot of Los Pollos Hermanos "batter". I also got a new watch, hairdrier, Naked 3, No Meat Athlete Book, a Tangle Teezer, Cath Kidston mug, camera lens travel mug, pajamas and a Soft Kitty tshirt. 
Hairdryer/Christmas face/Sparkly shoes

For the first time in years, I didn't have an outfit planned for Christmas Day and I actually ended up wearing exactly what I wore last year (red Jones and Jones dress, furry jacket and sparkly shoes). Sparkly shoes are always a winner. 

Christmas Day was a little different this year. We usually get up, open presents, go to church and then go to my Auntie's for breakfast, but mass wasn't til 10am and it was a bit late (it's usually at 9am) and most of my family ended up going to Christmas Eve mass, so we didn't go to church this year. Instead we got up, opened presents, got ready super-slowly and then went for breakfast. Family Christmas breakfast is a long-standing Crowley tradition. It used to always be at my Nana's until she got too old to do it, and we've been going to my Auntie Bre's for it now for about 5 years. I don't know how she cooks breakfast for 20 odd people every year!  Plus for Chistmas my cousins got all their old home videos put on DVD for my Auntie and Uncle so we all sat around watching those on Christmas morning. They were nearly all of me being a proper idiot. 

Christmas breakfast/Soft Kitty mug/Owl pajamas before dinner

Christmas breakfast was a bit ambitious this year. I didn't manage to eat all of it! Hashbrowns are always a winner though. My Mum bought my Dad this Soft Kitty mug for Christmas... he donated it to me. With big breakfasts had at nearly midday, we didn't have Christmas dinner until 6.30. By that time I was well and truly in my new owl pajamas, especially as it was just the four of us for Christmas dinner. 
Christmas Baileys/Party hats/Christmas dinner

What is Christmas without Baileys? (Okay, it's Aldi's Ballycastle...). I've recently discovered how great this stuff is in hot chocolate! And then Christmas dinner of course! As I don't eat meat Christmas dinner can be tricky. Some years I just had vegetables, but this year I had a gorgeous nut roast. And then of course, all the veg and trimmings. This year we had roasted sprouts and parsnips, carrots, stuffing, roast potatoes and cranberry sauce. And all smothered in gravy! 
Post-dinner cheese and crackers/MAC treats/Present from Phil's parents

One of the things I was most excited about this year? Cheese and crackers. We almost never have such delights in the house so I was so excited to crack them out after dinner. Oh and here are some more of my presents. My Auntie got me some lovely treats from MAC- Russian Red lipstick, Prep+Prime Lip, Brick lip liner and Extreme Dimension mascara. And finally, one last present from Phil's parents. I definitely didn't expect anything when I went round on Boxing Day and was surprised when Phil said there was one more present under the tree, and for me! They got me this lovely set of fizzy cocktails! Can't wait to drink them!

Well that's Christmas over! I'll be back later in the week with my 2013 roundup!

Charlotte x

Monday, 23 December 2013

Things I Nearly Wore

When the lovely people at Clothing at Tesco got in touch a few weeks ago asking me if I would like a Christmas Party dress, I knew I wanted to go for something a little different. This year I feel like I am fully prepared for parties that prefer sequins, sparkle and tutus (my favourite kind of parties!), but I needed something classy. Something timeless. Something to take you from a day at the office straight to a dinner party or night on the town. This was the dress I chose. I love the classic shape and fit, and the fact that it comes with a necklace attached, saving the bother of accessorising. The first few times I wore this dress it was my job interview dress. Smart and sophisticated, but not as boring as a white shirt and trousers. But last weekend I had it earmarked for a dinner party with our family friends on Saturday night. They were due to arrive at 7.30pm, and at 6pm, my Mum and I were just about getting around to thinking about doing our makeup and touching up our hair. The dessert was chilling in the fridge, but nothing else had been prepared. As my Mum started on her makeup she laughed "Wouldn't it be funny if they turned up now?" No word of a lie, the doorbell went a couple of minutes later! We'd missed their messages letting us know they'd be early! So getting dressed up into this little black dress took a back seat! Instead we skipped the starter, munching on crisps instead, and didn't bother getting changed. I was wearing this outfit during the day, but changed into sweatpants before we had the main course! It's great to dress up, but it's great not to too! Now I'm saving this dress for Christmas Eve.
dress- c/o Clothing at Tesco
black heels- New Look c/o Most Wanted
Well I think this might end up being my last post before the big day! I'm really feeling the Christmas spirit now. After our dinner party on Saturday we went to my Nana's for breakfast on Sunday morning and then came home and watched It's a Wonderful Life before I went to the pub with Jenny and Eve. We had a lovely night catching up and starting doing the pub quiz, but after it took an hour to get through one round we gave up and went home! Our quiz team name was "Quizmas Eve and her Elves" so at least we had a great team name! Today I had a long run and I've been running errands with my Dad, and then tonight I'm going out with some of Phil's friends. Tomorrow we have our traditional Christmas Eve lunch in the village and then we have family and friends over for the evening and then Wednesday is Christmas! 
Have a lovely Christmas everybody!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Four Wonderful Years

So today is the day to celebrate one of my longest relationships to date-the one with my blog!
girl next door fashion is four years old today!

Because it's so close to the end of the year I'm going to wait to do a roundup of outfit photos until the new year, but for today I just want to say thank you to each and every one of you for your support, whether you've been reading my blog for four years or four days.
This blog has afforded me many amazing opportunities and helped me to make dozens of new friends. It's been a lot of hard work over the last four years, but 100% worth it. 
I'm so proud of my blog and how it has grown. I'm glad that I stuck with it through the days when I only had one view on my stats, and that viewer was me!

Thank you for every one of you who has left me a comment, sent me an email or posted a tweet to me over the last few years. You constantly inspire me to keep going.

Here's to many more years to come!

Charlotte x

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Just Give Me One Fine Day of Plain Sailing Weather

Okay, confession time. Two confessions. One, I totally stole this outfit from Lily Melrose. A photo of her wearing an outfit just like this popped up on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago and I knew I had to recreate it. However at that point the only elements of the outfits I owned were ballet flats and an aviator jacket. So I bought the trousers and stole this jumper from my Mum, and could finally steal recreate the outfit. Which leads to confession number two. While I haven't been working over the last couple of weeks I've started to slip into the uniform of the unemployed- sweatpants, hoodie and no makeup. It feels redundant to do my hair and makeup when I'm only leaving the house to run, and I like to tell myself my skin thanks me for it. But today I wanted to dress up. I went hunting for a cable knit jumper last night online couldn't find a single one in the style I wanted, but then my Mum mentioned she had one and I jumped on it. Initially I wasn't sure about the sequins or how short it is, especially with super tight trousers, but a tshirt underneath helps inevitable riding up! My only regret is not putting a necklace on- I think that would really have completed the outfit. Next time!
jumper- H&M (stolen from Mum)
tartan trousers- Topshop
aviator jacket- River Island
ballet flats- New Look
So, it's nearly Christmas. How did that happen? I've spent the last few weeks going to and from job interviews and preparing for job interviews and worrying about job interviews (everything is going well though so far!). I think I'm nearly as tired as when I was working! Plus I am so busy over the next few days. Tonight we have our family friends over for dinner, tomorrow I'm running errands and trying to fit a 7 mile run in before meeting Jenny and Eve for dinner at the pub. Monday I'm going out for dinner with Phil and some of his friends and Tuesday is Christmas Eve! On Christmas Eve we always go out for lunch and then we have family round for drinks and nibbles in the evening. Phil is coming round on Christmas Eve evening too. I cannot wait to give him his presents! Then on Boxing Day I'm going round to his parents' house. I haven't met his family yet and I'm a bit nervous! Hope they like me!
A few of you mentioned that you liked the photos that I took in my room earlier in the week, so I thought I'd give it another go. I feel the background is a bit busy but the big windows let so much natural light in which I really like. It was midday today when I took these so it was too bright to be outside. They're not perfect but with some adaptations this might be my new indoor photo-taking spot!

Charlotte x

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Half Marathon Training: Running Kit

This crazy cat is running a half marathon in March and I'm writing a little series on everything I'm learning along the way. My intro and training plan post is here. As I've said before I'm not an expert, I'm just a normal girl who started running and fell in love with it. I'm enjoying writing about my own experiences of running and hope I can help people with their running too!

I've been running now for 6 months and I still consider myself very much a beginner. In terms of kit, pretty much everything I have at the moment I consider to be "essential"- I haven't really started to buy lots of fun things to run in or extra gadgets (although I believe a certain someone is buying me a Garmin GPS watch for Christmas!). I started out with just a water bottle, headphone and an iPhone band, and gradually over time I have built up a reasonably-sized running kit. I still don't know enough about running to know if what I have is the "best", but for me, everything works well and supports my running. I have no brand loyalty in any way, and tend to buy most of my running things from Sportsshoes.com or Sportsdirect.com. I like to do some research before my purchases and always read reviews.
I've broken my kit down into five main sections-
1. Essentials
2. Safety
3. Winter Warmers
4. Clothes etc.
5. Extra bits
I definitely don't think you need all these things if you're just getting started, and I've been slowly adding to my collection over the last 6 months. You can definitely get by as a beginner with just a good pair of trainers, leggings and a tshirt- this was how I started! 
Buying running clothes and accessories has taken over from buying day to day clothes and accessories and for me that's really cool. My focus on running pieces is about practicality and comfort, looking good is an occasional bonus, and plus I wear my running clothes and four times a week so they get a lot of wear!
I imagine I'll be adding to this list over time as I get more proficient at running and as the seasons change, and maybe I'll write another post in 6 months time (I'm hoping to get some new trainers for my birthday in March!). 
Oh also, I've included as many links as possible in this post. These aren't affiliate links, but just so you can find exactly what I bought should you want to!
So, here are the things I have in my running kit...
1. The Essentials
These are my absolute running essentials- my iPhone with my Endomondo app, an iPhone armband, headphones and a water bottle. On my first few  runs I carried a bottle and my phone, which got annoying, so these were the first things I really needed. I personally take a water bottle with me on every run- even if it's only 2 or 3 miles- but that's totally your shout. An O-shaped bottle is great for holding while you run.
And of course, the most important part of my kit, my trainers. Again, no brand loyalty, I just went into the Reebok/Adidas outlet in my town and asked for some advice. These are great trainers and I really noticed a difference when I started wearing them. Plus they were only £18! They get a lot of wear, and I'm glad to see they're finally mucky and well-worn, and not as sparkling white as when I first bought them!
2. Safety
Because I tend to run early in the morning, I need to make sure I am seen by cars (obviously). Whilst all my running clothes are reflective, they're not reflective enough for running in the dark. For a while I wore my dad's too-big hi-vis, but then I found this awesome pink Ron Hill one. It also has LED lights down the back. I also have a LED light for the back of my rain jacket (it just sticks on the back) and I have an ID bracelet from ICE ID. I actually discovered ICE ID while looking for some reflective wristbands and I realised I don't carry any ID when I run. Mine lists my name, parents' phone numbers, postcode, blood type and that I'm an internal organ donor. I wear this on every run, whether it's dark outside or not.
3. Winter Warmers
Now obviously running in winter is a LOT different than running in the summer. I had to do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions to figure out what to wear for winter running. General consensus was to avoid wearing more clothes but to make sure ears and hands were well-covered, so I have some Nike running gloves, which are also touch-screen friendly, and a nice fleecey headband. I invested in some Nike wicking socks too after reading about the importance of good socks in Running Like a Girl.
4. Clothes
Now for the fun part. I first started running in June, and for a few weeks, maybe even a month, I just wore cheap leggings and a big tshirt. But as it got warmer, I was overheating on my runs, so my Dad suggested I buy some running shorts, and this was how I first got into the idea of buying clothes specifically for running. So even though it's freeeeezing cold here now, here's where it all started...
So for summer, I have shorts and vest tops (red/yellow). When it came to shorts, I just didn't want anything...lycra, and these shorts are perfect. They're comfortable but not too fitted. I also have two running vests so I can have one clean and one in the wash.
When it got a little colder around October/November time, I moved from vests to short-sleeved tops. These tops are the same, with one pink and one black, and they were £7 from Sports Direct. It takes a lot for my legs to get cold, so I was still wearing these shorts well into November. I found overheating to be much more of a problem than getting too cold!
And when it gets really cold, the leggings and long-sleeved tops come out. I bought these Adidas leggings from eBay because they seemed to have pretty good reviews and I have no complains. I chose my long-sleeved tops for their Dri-Fit material. The pink one is more of a cotton, and the black one more of a stretchy, shiny material (not quite lycra, but similar). They were really hard to photograph, but you can see them better on these Instagram snaps...
I have run in just leggings and a long sleeved top in temperatures down to about -2 degrees celcius with no complaints, but it hasn't gotten colder than that so far. When it does I'll keep you posted!
Welcome to England. It rains a lot here. A good rain jacket was actually one of the first running investments I made. I used to run in a big Primark waterproof but it was entirely impractical. To be honest, I don't wear this jacket too often for fear of overheating (and also, weirdly, because I seem to always miss the rain!) but it's super lightweight and perfect for the winter. I also bought the LED light I mentioned earlier for on the back so I don't have to wear it AND my hi vis.
Underneath it all
Ladies, I don't have to tell you the importance of a good sports bra. I might not have much to support (ahem) but I definitely feel much more secure in a "proper" sports bra instead of just a cheap one from Primark. This one was a big weird as it came in dress sizes rather than bra sizes but it does the job!
5. Extra Bits
I guess this are the non-essential bits. My Polar FT4 was a bit of a splurge but I love it. It's so useful for keeping my heart rate down on long runs and to get an accurate idea of how many calories I've burned on a run so I don't go mad on the crisps when I get home! Also shown here is my Parkrun barcode, which just means I don't have to worry about my paper one, and my headphone extender. I run my headphones up the inside of my tshirt and through the collar to stop it flapping around and annoying me, but I was finding that my headphone cable was too short and it kept making my top ride up, so I bought a cheap headphone extender from amazon. Now my headphones are super long so I just tuck the cable into my leggings or shorts. Much better than my tshirt riding up though!

And that's my kit! Next on my list? A Garmin Forerunner 10 to track my longer distances. I've started to find my iPhone battery running out on longer runs so I think my lovely boyfriend has got me one for Christmas. I'm also not sure yet if I might need another layer for the winter. I'm sure over time I'll start collecting more fun tops and leggings (Rosie has an amazing pair of Adidas galaxy-print running tights which I adore but they're not longer available!) but for now I have everything I need.

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Forget the Dress Project

Edit: Just to clarify, this post is in collaboration with Most Wanted. Three of the items in this post were purchased with credit provided by Most Wanted to the value of £50. All opinions are my own and the items chosen were my own choice.

Did you know that 18-24 year old ladies spend on average £119 on festive party outfits each year? I know I've been guilty in the past of buying outfits for Christmas Day or New Year's Eve that I have never worn again. You don't have much reason for red velvet and sequins outside of December.
So this year, the people at Most Wanted have launched the "Forget the Dress" project- a challenge to wear the same dress for three different festive occasions, with a budget of £50 for accessories, which Most Wanted provided.
As remixing has always been a big focus for me on my blog, I was really excited to be asked to get involved. I love finding new and interesting ways to wear the same items.
For my outfits, I chose my favourite LBD- my Jones and Jones Audrey dress in black. You might know that I have this dress in four colours-red, cream, yellow and black. I think the black one is the only one I'm yet to feature!
I chose this dress because it's pretty, but also fairly simple so can be easily remixed. I decided my three outfits would cover:
1. A casual Christmas Eve lunch
2. A fancy party
3. A night on the town
And I chose three items for my £50, one for each outfit. A cosy beanie hat for my casual outfit, a pair of classy heels for my fancy outfit and a chunky statement necklace for my party outfit.
heels- New Look
beanie- Accessorize
necklace- New Look
(all purchased with credit provided by Most Wanted)
So onto the outfits..

Outfit One- Casual Christmas Eve Lunch
dress- Jones and Jones
boots- New Look
scarf- ASOS
hat- Accessorize (c/o Most Wanted)
denim jacket- New Look
Christmas Eve lunch is kind of a big thing in my family, Every year we go to the same restaurant. The menu hasn't changed for years but it's just one of those nice traditions. It's not a super dressy occasion, so I decided to use it as an excuse to turn a fancy tutu dress into something more casual. For me a denim jacket is the ultimate dress-down piece, and a big chunky scarf and beanie are next on the list. I've gotten really into wearing hats lately- I never thought I was a hat person! I went for flat boots to dress it down, but a splash of red lipstick to keep it a bit sophisticated.

Outfit Two- Fancy Christmas Party
heels- New Look  (c/o Most Wanted)
furry jacket- Quiz
name necklace- Gift
Apologies for the slightly creased dress!
Well I don't really have any fancy parties to go to, but hey, you might! To be honest, my idea of fancy is swapping a denim jacket for a furry one and putting heels on! This is my fancy jacket. I put it on when I want to look sophisticated. And it's surprisingly from Quiz! It's one of those things that always comes out in the winter and I love it. These are the perfect simple party pumps. Well except for the fact I bought them a size too big and ended up rubbing off half my little toe on Friday when my boyfriend assured me we only had to go a "five minute walk" (it was more like 20). Don't worry, I have insoles! I've been sorting my jewellery out for the move up to my new bedroom (which was where I took these photos!) and I finally found my Charlotte name necklace that had been missing for ages. Oh and yeah I thought I'd try taking photos in my new room (more on that soon!) cause a) I had a white wall and b) the carpet fitters were in and I didn't want to look weird emerging from my room every ten minutes in a different outfit. I think I prefer them downstairs. Plus while taking these I walking into one of the window beams and nearly knocked myself out. Speaking of injuries- note my hand being behind my back a lot to hide the huge bandage from cutting part of my finger off last week!

Outfit Three- New Year's Eve
leopard boots- Charlotte Russe
leather jacket- H&M
necklace- New Look  (c/o Most Wanted)
It's no wonder my leather jacket is falling to pieces- it my staple on a night out and it's had its fair share of being shoved into handbags. I have three huge pieces of black tape on the elbow and back to keep it held together because I'm yet to find one I like as much. The biggest problem is that it's really short and I love the cropped style and I haven't found any yet that are this length! Anyway, add some leopard print booties and I'm ready to go! These might be my favourite shoes. They're LEOPARD PRINT BOOTS. I love pairing them with a really simple, block-coloured dress and black tights so they can stand out.
I changed my makeup for this look from a red lip to a smokey eye. I really wanted to change my hair up and go for a beehive for my fancy outfit, but after reading Carrie's tutorial she recommends two-day-old hair and mine was freshly washed and curled! Also I've only successfully gotten my hair into a beehive once. In fairness it lasted two whole days but it took a lot of persevering!

So will you try to "Forget the dress" this year and remix some of the dresses you already own for your Christmas parties? Let me know if you do!

Charlotte x

Monday, 16 December 2013

It's beginning to look a (bit) like Christmas

We're not quite in full Christmas mode yet in the Crowley household. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you might know that we are having a lot of renovations done on our house and as a result things have been a bit mental! And to make matters worse, we haven't been able to put the Christmas tree up yet! The carpets are being put down today in our living room, which means we can finally put our tree up this week. However, a lack of Christmas tree hasn't stopped me from getting into the Christmas spirit...
Christmas Jumper time!
Phil and I have been wearing our Christmas jumpers since the 1st December (okay I might have put mine on on the 29th November...) and yes, I am wearing reindeer antlers in the first picture. Phil's jumper never fails to make me laugh (it's from Primark, fellas!)
Sippin' on Fruit Broo
I've talked before about my love of Whittards Fruit Tea, but unfortunately they are full of sugar so I tried to only have one a day. But then I was sent a box of lovely Fruit Broos. These are perfect for cold winter nights and full of flavour! My favourite is the Apple and Ginger flavour, which reminds me of American Hot Apple Cider- my favourite drink when I lived in Minnesota.
A Mysterious package from Uniqlo!
A few weeks ago I received a Twitter message from Uniqlo telling me a Christmas stocking would be coming to me soon. How exciting! However a few days wernt by and I totally forgot, so when a huge red box turned up on my doorstep I thought I'd been online shopping in my sleep again. Nope it was a Christmas stocking with my name on! Here's what was inside...
A cashmere hat and cashmere gloves, a grey floral scarf, a candy cane, tree ornaments, a bracelet and my favourite of course...
I'd actually been watching about a dozen pairs of furry earmuffs on eBay so I was over the moon to find these inside! I can't wait to wear them!
Present Wrapping
I still wasn't in the Christmas spirit on Thursday so I went into town to grab some cards and wrapping paper (how cute is this owl paper? It's from Primark!) and then put some Christmas music on and wrapped my presents to get me in the mood!
Best Christmas present ever?
Yes, that is a Breaking Bad charm bracelet. Oh did I not mention that I'm obsessed with Breaking Bad? I went out with some of my old colleagues on Friday and Kris and I had bought each other presents. She'd sent me the link to it ages ago but I definitely didn't expect her to buy it for me! It has a little jar of blue meth, Heisenberg's hat, a gas mask, the RV (with bullet holes in the roof!) a shovel, a gun and loads of other amazing things! I love it so much!
The best way to spread Christmas cheer...
We had a quiet night in our Saturday night and I remembered that we hadn't watched Elf this year! Elf is one of my favourite Chirstmas films and it always puts me in the Christmas spirit. And maybe makes me cry a bit. JUST A BIT!
A visit from Santa
Does anyone else get a Santa float coming down their road at Christmas? This is serious tradition for us and we were so excited last night waiting for him to arrive. I'm probably a little bit too old to go sit on his lap, but I did run out in my slippers to take a picture!
A few festive lights
To stop me complaining about not having the tree up yet, my Dad put up our Christmas candle and turned on the lights in our porch last night. We haven't taken the lights down since last year!
Festive Pandora Addition
I was contacted a few weeks ago by the lovely people at Joshua James jewellery who wanted to send me a festive charm for my Pandora bracelet. Now I don't wear my Pandora all the time, but the charms I have all mean so much to me. My graduation cap, the panda my parents got me before I went on my year abroad, the suitcase my friends bought me for my 20th Birthday to name but a few! I wanted something bright and after literally weeks of umming and ahhing I went for this candy cane. It brightens my bracelet up so much!
It's a Wonderful Life
Confession time- I have never seen It's a Wonderful Life all the way through, and neither have my parents, so we ordered this to watch before Christmas. I hear I'll need tissues...

I'm hoping to have more Christmassy stuff to post next week when our tree is finally up! Can you believe next week is Christmas?!

Charlotte x