Sunday, 28 September 2014

Autumn 30 for 30: Week Two

Welcome to Week Two. Complete with really bad and inconsistent lighting...
(Catch up with my first week of outfits here)
Week two has been good. I've still been avoiding using my outfit list and playing it by ear a bit, but I think now I'm just about half way through I'm going to start running out of inspiration a bit. I tried to wear items this week that I hadn't worn before, but I still have loads of pieces that I haven't worn yet- pink jacket, stripey skirt, red flats, red cardigan, navy skirt and blue dress. So far I haven't been bored and I'm really enjoying the challenge. I gave up clothes shopping too for the challenge and so far I've had no cravings, however I have been avoiding reading all my shopping emails!
Day Eight
Day Nine
As with Friday, I worked from home Monday and Tuesday, so I wanted outfits that were comfy, so I went for trousers and jumpers both days. I loooove my stripey jumper and want to wear it more throughout the challenge, so I think now I've worn it with both my pairs of plain trousers I'll have to be a bit more creative so I can include it.
Day Ten
Day Eleven
I was back in the office on Wednesday and had plans every night for the rest of the week so I dressed up a little bit more. On Wednesday Phil and I had a cinema and pizza night. The pizza was good, the film was not. However Thursday night was great as we went to see Phil's brother's girlfriend (that sounds way more confusing than it is!) in a play, which was a lot of fun and something a bit different. Then on Friday Phil and I went away for the night to do a Murder Mystery night which we booked on Groupon way back in May. Neither of us had done one before and it was a lot of fun. We didn't guess the murderer though!
Day Twelve
Day Thirteen
The outfits I wore on Friday and Saturday were my favourites this week but I'm not sure if Friday's (Day 12) photographed too well. Including this jacket was a bit of a snap decision because I haven't worn it for a couple of years, but I'm glad I included in now because I think it's awesome. And it was only from Primark! It has the cutest little elbow patches too.
Day Fourteen
Today has been a typical Sunday which has been good as I was out last night for my cousin's 30th and while I don't drink much, I'm tired today. I've made butternut squash and apple soup and got Becca's Butternut Squash and Black Bean Skillet for dinner which looks amazing. I'll try to get another "What I'm cooking" post up soon so I can show you all of the lovely things I've been making.

Hope your weekend has been lovely!

Charlotte x

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Things I've been Cooking

If you follow me on Instagram you'll probably know that I love to cook. I cook at least two or three times a week. Cooking relaxes me, and the result is food, so that can't be wrong.
I don't often create my own recipes though, and I'm usually a bit scared to think outside of the box, which is one of the reasons I don't really post my recipes- because they're not really mine. But I thought it would be nice to have a post every now and again on some of the things I've been cooking lately. Yeah? Yeah!
So on Thursday we had a bake sale at work and I wanted to go beyond my usual chocolate-chip-cookies-or-brownies and try something new. Now I really really love citrus flavours. I very rarely ordered dessert but if there is something with lemon or lime in, that's probably going to be what I'll choose. So when it came to baking, I came across Sally's Baking Addiction and must have read a dozen of her recipes in one sitting. One of them was for these Key Lime Pie Bars. Holy. Yum. So on Wednesday night, my Mum and I made them. Oh my god, they were incredible. So incredible in fact, that all 15 that I took to work disappeared, and even Dipika (head baker in the Axonn office) said they were "bloody lovely." I'm not much of a baker, but there was nothing to these bars and except for the chilling, they take about 45 minutes to throw together. Limey, sweet, creamy and delicious- I'll be making these again!

Spiralized courgette with prawns and feta
Spiralized courgettes appear at least once a week in my dinner rotation. This week, I added them to Jack Monroe's Prawns and Feta, which is from her book A Girl Called Jack. It's a basic recipe of onion, garlic, prawns and tomato sauce with feta on top, and it's ridiculously simple and delicious. This meal was huuuuuge but it was nearly all vegetables!

I have salmon for dinner pretty much every Tuesday so I'm always looking for new ways to eat it. Other favourites include salmon with feta and pesto, and super healthy salmon burgers.

I make these on a Sunday for a snack to have at work. I customise them with various things- this week it was chocolate chips, almonds and craisins, but I always stick to honey, peanut butter, flax seed and protein powder. They're delicious and much healthier than a chocolate bar.

This looks gross but I promise you it was delicious. I love the Inspiralized blog and this teriyaki recipe is usually on my menu once a fortnight at least, but for a change I swapped the prawns for a spicy salmon burger!

Copycat Pret Tuna Salad
If I need to go buy lunch, I pretty much almost end up with a tuna salad from Pret, so I decided to try making one myself! I use a whole tin of tuna, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, mixed leaves, a boiled egg and capers, and make a quick dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and dijon mustard. It's pretty close to the original!

Homemade Veggie Burgers
I've been meaning to try No Meat Athlete's veggie burger formula for months (I got his book for Christmas) but I'd never gotten around to it. I'm also a bit scared of anything that I need to food process and then fry- anything I try to fry always falls apart. Anyway, last Friday Phil was unexpectedly coming over so I needed to throw something together. Knowing I had some leftover veggies in the fridge I thought I'd give these a go. Using his formula I used black beans, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and sweet corn as my veggies, ketchup, soy sauce and liquid smoke as my liquid flavour, cumin, smoked paprika and I think onion powder for my seasoning, oats as my dry base, avocado and coriander as my texture ingredients, and cooked them in coconut oil. I don't want to boast but THEY WERE INCREDIBLE. They were a tiny bit mushy but they fried perfectly and tasted incredible. I ended up making 8 so my Mum and I had one each (Phil actually picked up meat burgers for him and my dad) and there are 6 left in the freezer for last-minute meals. YUM.

Baked Oatmeal
My colleague Natalie made this last week and sent me the recipe. I replaced the almond milk with skimmed milk and used frozen berries instead of fresh blueberries. I can't wait to take this to work and reheat it for a desk breakfast.

Fish Curry
Fish curry is kind of a Crowley-family staple. We don't have a recipe and tend to just throw things in. We always start with a base of onions, garlic and curry paste and a couple of tins of tomatoes. The rest is leftover veggies and whatever fish we have in the freezer. I served this with cauliflower rice, which I make with onions, garlic and sriracha.

I've eaten this for lunch three days in a row and I am still not sick of it. The Oh She Glows cookbook is probably my favourite cookbook and this recipe is one of my favourites. I top it with extra cashews and they go all soft and melty. Yum.

I suck at regular features, but I'll try to post some more recipes soon!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Autumn 30 for 30: Week One

Hey look, I did a whole week:
(You can remind yourself of my 30 items here)
I'm enjoying this challenge so much so far. I have all my items hanging on the back of my door to keep reminding me of what's there. It also means I never have to go into my wardrobe and be tempted my all my other clothes. So far, I'm finding it really easy and haven't had to refer to my list of outfits once, but I know it's going to get harder as they weeks go on. I've also had a couple of incidents of item-regret (navy pencil skirt? What was I thinking?!) but I'm determined to stick to my items. The only struggle at the moment is that it has been unseasonally warm and I chose quite a few jumpers, but so far I'm making it work. I'm not reinventing the wheel with any of these items but only have 30 items is pushing me out of my comfort zone.
Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
This outfit is my favourite so far this week. I'm trying to avoid using up all my lazy comfy outfits in the first few days and on Thursday all I wanted to wear was my tartan shirt but I couldn't decide what to wear it with and at the last minute I decided against jeans and instead went for this dress. I love this combination.
Day Five
Day Six
Lazy comfy outfits for Friday and Saturday. We're having our desks moved around at work so I worked from home on Friday so I had to force myself not to wear my pajamas! Fortunately this challenge helped! I've had a really good week this week. Work has been really busy, but on Thursday Phil came over for dinner and on Friday he stayed over at the last minute and we ate burgers (veggie for me- recipe coming this week, and meat for him) and watched Friday Night Lights. Yesterday was also a really comfy cosy outfit cause I stayed at home pretty much all day yesterday. At 4.30pm though my Dad sensed my cabin fever and took me out food shopping. I hadn't left the house since Thursday so I was starting to go insane! Then last night was my choir concert! My parents, Nan, Phil, Phil's sister and his parents came to see it and I was very nervous- particularly for my solo of On My Own from Les Mis. Thankfully it all went pretty well and we all went for a drink afterwards and it was absolutely lovely. I've got a busy week this week so a quiet weekend is in order. Today I should be running the Stockport 10K, which obviously I can't do with my foot injury, but I'm going to spend my Sunday as I usually do- working out (done!), cooking for the week and visiting family. On Wednesday I think Phil and I are going to the cinema, Thursday we're going to see his brother's girlfriend in a play and on Friday we're off to do a Murder Mystery night. We got a deal on Groupon and neither of us have ever been to one before. Very exciting!
Day 7
Thank you for all your lovely comments on yesterday's post and via twitter. I had great debate over whether to expose my naked stomach to the internet but in the end decided that I'm really proud of my hard work, and even though it's all a work in progress, I never showed you my Insanity results photos so it's kind of proof that it does work! I'm loving Chalean Extreme at the moment (even though I forgot to check my calendar this morning and ended up doing the wrong workout!) so I'm excited to see the changes after that.

I'll be emailing the first 10 people who commented on yesterday's post this week to sort out sending you all armbands!

Have a great Sunday!

Charlotte x

Saturday, 20 September 2014

I Work Out (+ Giveaway)

Recently, buying fitness clothes and accessories has become much more of an addiction than buying normal clothes. As I've only been seriously into fitness for about a year and a half, there are always new things to buy, and I love having a variety of tops to match to my different bottoms (shorts, capris, full length leggings...), and there are always new gloves and water bottles and dumbells to buy. Unfortunately, not only did I spend £70 in Sports Direct the day before I realised my foot was properly injured, I also received this cool fitness gear from F&F and Elle Sports at the same time. 
performance jacket- c/o Elle Sports via F&F
sports bra-c/o Elle Sports via F&F
leggings- c/o Elle Sports via F&F
I received a sports bra, leggings and a "performance jacket." Now I had never even heard of a performance jacket before receiving it, but it's basically a very lightweight jacket which I think would be perfect for running in the winter or to wear while waiting for a race. I've been wearing it a lot around the house before and after my workouts. In terms of workouts with my foot injury, I've had to keep it gentle. I started out by following the Blogilates beginner's workout calendar and I did 30 minutes of pilates every morning before work. Anything that looked like it would be too much on my foot (mostly the cardio workout) I swapped for another video. I also wore this combination of bra, leggings and jacket throughout those workouts and the stretchy material was perfect for all the stretching of pilates. Obviously I haven't been running, but I'm not sure if these leggings and bra would cope with something more intense- the leggings don't have a draw string and sometimes fall down, and I don't think the bra would handle Insanity or running, but everything is perfect for pilates.
Also yesterday I started Chalean Extreme and so far I absolutely love it. It gets my heart rate up to the same level as Insanity (however, not as frequently), and I love strength workouts. I'm currently doing it just with the weights I have (1.5kg and 3kg), but I've ordered two more sets of dumbells- a pair of 4kgs and a pair of 6kgs. I might get more when I need to, but right now, even with those I am sore. Tomorrow is the Stockport 10K which was my first 10K ever last year. It really upsets me that I won't be running it-especially after receiving my race number last week, but I'll just have to wait til next year. My foot is getting better but it's still not 100% but I'm hoping that focusing on Chalean Extreme for a few weeks will distract me a bit and get me back into a routine so I don't start running on my foot straight away as soon as it feels better!

Along with the lovely fitness clothing I was sent, I have also been sent a selection of fitness arm bands so you can listen to music while you go without having to worry about holding your phone or MP3 player!
I have 10 to giveaway, so all you need to do is comment on this post and let me know you're email address, and the first 10 people to comment will get one of this armbands!
Sorry but this is only open to UK residents.

I'll be back tomorrow with photos from my first week of my 30 for 30.

Have a lovely Saturday!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Autumn 30 for 30: 30 Pieces

As you might already know by now, I tend to not do things by halves. See, ran a half marathon 9 months after starting running. When I mentioned doing another remix challenge earlier in the week, the idea of a full 30 for 30 (30 items, 30 days, 30 outfits) never even crossed my mind. But the more I started to plan for a 15 for 15, the more I realised that it's actually harder to do than a 30 for 30. 15 items is not many, and I was finding myself choosing really neutral, boring pieces, and finding myself limited. I toyed with the idea of a 20 for 20, but then decided- go big or go home. I decided to do a second 30 for 30.
My last full 30 for 30 was over 3 years ago and my style has changed so much since then (a lot of things have changed since then, in fact!), plus it was done during the summer and over a period where I worked part time in a supermarket with a uniform, meaning it took me much longer than the prescribed 30 days. I don't feel like I'm just repeating something I've done before. This time around feels different, more exciting, more inspiring.
I reread this week the blog post I wrote just after finishing the challenge and read my reflections on the challenge and my choices. I've tried not to over-think my choices (if there's one thing I'm really good at it's overthinking) and took my own advice from last time. Last time I choose a lot of pieces in similar colours and prints which led to a lot of similarity across outfits. I didn't want that to happen this time. While I've obviously planned a lot of outfits (about 47 in total!) I haven't tried any on to see if they work and many of my items don't go together. I don't want to be as matchy-matchy as last time.
I've also been careful to choose items and styles that I actually wear. Three years ago I was very much into dresses and skirts, whereas this time I've focused much more on trousers and jeans. I've included mostly jumpers and button ups and only a few jackets. I doubt I'll wear every item I've chosen.
In terms of rules, this is my plan:

1) 30 items, 30 days, 30 outfits. No repeats.
I am certain I will wear at least a couple of outfits throughout this challenge which I have posted before on my blog, but I will not repeat any outfits throughout the challenge. 
2) Accessories and coats don't count
I'll probably wear most outfits with my beige trench coat, and bust out one of my winter coats if it starts getting chilly.
3) No shopping for 30 days
I always struggle with this one but this time I want to make it count
4) Each outfit will be photographed, but I won't be posting every day
I will do a summary of outfits every few days
5) Evening wear won't count
I don't tend to get changed in the evenings during the week but probably will at the weekends if I have plans

So, onto the items...

maroon trousers- River Island (worn here)
houndstooth trousers- Topshop (worn here)
tartan trousers- Topshop (worn here)
blue jeans- Topshop (worn here)
yellow skirt- River Island
leather skirt- Oasis (worn here)
navy pencil skirt- Marks and Spencers
stripey skirt- Boohoo
pink skirt- Boohoo (worn here)
Stripey jumper- c/o Hush (worn here)
Black jumper- Forever 21
Cream jumper- Forever 21
stripey top- Primark (worn here)
Hard Rock Cafe tshirt- c/o Hard Rock Cafe Manchester
red shirt- New Look (worn here)
tartan shirt- Forever 21
sleeveless white shirt- Boohoo
chambray shirt- Forever 21

leopard cardigan- H&M
red cardigan- Debenhams (worn here)
leather jacket- Boohoo (worn here)
pink tweed jacket- River Island (worn here)
brown tweed blazer- Primark (worn here)
blue dress- Topshop (worn here)
black dress- Clothing at Tesco (worn here)
brown boots- New Look (worn here)
nude flats- Dorothy Perkins (worn here)
black boots- c/o Debenhams (worn here)
black and white flats- Warehouse (worn here)
red flats- bought in Las Vegas

So, in case you lost count, that breaks down to-
11 tops (3 jumpers, 2 cardigans, 4 shirts, 2 tshirts)
9 bottoms (4 pairs of trousers, 5 skirts)
3 jackets
2 dresses
5 pairs of shoes.

Tune in over the next month to see how I get on with my challenge, and make sure you pop over to Sian's blog too because she is joining me with a 15 for 15!

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Debenhams Share to Wear

I swear I'm not surgically attached to this jumper. Not yet, at least. We're actually here today to talk about these boots. I am a bit of a nightmare with shoes. As we've established already, I have about 100 pairs but, as you'll know if you read my blog regularly, I tend to only wear about 10 pairs. Which means I'm constantly wearing out pairs of shoes. My favourite black ankle boots died a death about a year ago, and in the interim I've had a couple of pairs of black boots that have worked but they haven't been the ones.
So when Debenhams got in touch a few weeks ago about their Share to Wear campaign I jumped at the chance to get involved. How Share to Wear works is that you buy a gift voucher for £15, and then straight away that is increased to £20. Then as you share with your friends, you can have the chance to increase it to £30. So for spending £15, you now have £30 to spend! I used my gift voucher to buy these boots. I feel they're going to be my new A/W faves, especially as they give me loads of support to my foot. Probably not your priority when buying boots but to those of us with foot injuries, it's a great perk!
jumper- c/o Hush
skirt- Oasis
boots- c/o Debenhams
As you can see, I caved and bought this skirt I was telling you about, but never fear, I'm including it as part of my next remix challenge that I mentioned yesterday. Thank you for all of you lovely comments. I am definitely going ahead with the challenge and I think Sian will be joining me. I'm ready to rediscover my wardrobe again. 
In other news, I mentioned at the weekend that not being able to exercise with my foot sprain has been driving me insane, so on Sunday I decided to try some pilates thanks to the wonderful Cassie of Blogilates. I'm working through her Beginners calendar and love that it's only about 30 minutes a day. I've been skipping anything cardio-based because of my foot and adding in another video to make up the time- today I did Day 4 and swapping the cardio for the Applause Arms video. I really miss running and cardio, but it's good to actually be doing something, and it's short enough to squeeze in before work. 
Finally, today is my blog's biggest fan's birthday- Happy Birthday Daddy Crowley! He is the best Dad in the world- taxi service, blog reader, spider remover and all round awesome guy. I like him a lot.

Hope you're having a great week.

Charlotte x

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

On Another Remix Challenge and Your Opinion

Remember about four years ago when remixing was all the rage in fashion blogging?
It was all about one-skirt-three-ways or one-dress-day-to-night or my favourite, the 30 for 30 challenge.
Back then, before fashion bloggers became the puppets of brands, old clothes worn in a new way were the new new clothes. It wasn't about excess, it was about creativity.
Now the bloggers who championed remixes are now all about new things. Everything is gifted from brands. Nobody has to worry about wearing clothes in new ways because there is always a stream of new clothes coming in. 
While I am occasionally guilty of this, I do try my best to wear my clothes in new ways as frequently as possible (you should see how many ways I've worn my houndstooth trousers!) but I usually find myself stuck in a rut at the start of a new season.
See I obviously have a ridiculous amount of autumn winter wear. Piles of jumpers, drawers full of tights, dozens of pairs of boots. But when the new season comes sweeping in, it's difficult not to get sucked in to the idea of needing more.
So I'm contemplating another remix challenge. The question is, is it still relevant?
I currently work in an office with no dress code, which is mostly a blessing. But it's also a lot of freedom, which, when you're as anal as me, gets overwhelming. At my previous jobs I had constructed a kind of "uniform" which made getting dressed for work fairly straightforward. But now I have so much choice, I struggle.
My plan is to do a 15 day remix, of 15 items. Being able to post an entire blog post every day is unrealistic, as is taking proper, DSLR photos every day, so I was considering a few iPhone snaps each day and then a round up every few days. 
I'll include shoes but I won't include jackets or coats, as its likely I'll just wear my trench coat with each outfit.
I have a list planned out of my potential items, and it's likely to be fairly simple and focus on basics, but I want something to get me out of my inspiration rut and to help me to avoid buying loads of stuff for the new season.
So the question is, are these kinds of remixes still relevant? Are they something you would want to see here?
Drop me a line in the comments or on twitter (@gnd_fashion)

PS. You can see my 30 for 30 challenge here, and my 15 for 15 workwear challenge here

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Joni Jeans- Two Ways

On Thursday I realised, much to my dismay, that my absolute favourite Leigh jeans had a tiny hole in the inner thigh. I knew it was coming- I've had them for almost three years now and wear them at least once a week, and plus their twin pair in black had ripped a few months earlier. I knew it was time, but I wasn't ready to let go. As a girl who hates wearing jeans (let alone buying them!), Topshop Leigh jeans were a revolution. Stretchy, comfy and without the "fits-my-hips-but-not-my-waist problem", that I know many pear-shaped girls like me understand. These jeans turned me from someone who never wore jeans to someone who wore them all then time. Initially my first response was simple to rebuy them. However it turned out Topshop had stopped doing the Indigo colour a few months ago, so I wouldn't be able to get the exact same pair. Which led me to start looking at other options. I considered New Look jeans on Natalie's recommendation, but a few people told me the quality and stretchiness wasn't as good, so I decided not to fix what wasn't broken and to head back to Topshop. Then the conversation turned away from Leigh and onto Joni. Now I have always had a love-hate relationship with high-waisted jeans. I've also found if they fit right on the hips, they are too big on the waist, or worse, fit fine for a few weeks and then after a wash go too big. So I popped to Topshop after work, picked up a pair of Leigh jeans (in a darker blue wash) and also a pair of Joni jeans. As soon as I tried them on, I loved them. However, I started chatting to Sarah and Sian about them, and Sian told me her Joni jeans stretched out and she had to size down. I'd bought my Joni jeans in my usual size and they fitted perfectly, but I panicked then and decided I should try on a smaller size. I hit Facebook and Twitter for advice. I was already going to Outfit the next day, so I begrudgingly took off my lovely new jeans that I was planning to wear and headed to outfit to try on a smaller size. As it happened, they didn't have the intense blue colour that I loved in the Joni jeans in the smaller size, so I stuck to my guns. Some people have told me they stretch out, some have told me they haven't, so fingers crossed they won't.
jeans- Topshop
jumper- c/o Hush
necklace- Accessorize
flats- Miss KG
Anyway! One of the reasons I decided to lean towards Joni was to have the option to wear them both high waisted and regular waisted, so I thought I would show you two outfits- one with them worn normally and one with them high waisted. I actually wore the first outfit on Saturday and the second one today. This jumper was sent to me by Hush and it is my new favourite jumper. It is so snuggly and warm, and has that perfect slouchy fit that I didn't think I could pull off. I have a feeling it's going to be worn a LOT this winter! The second outfit is another super casual one- just my favourite Brand New tshirt and ballet flats. A typical Sunday outfit for me! I also added my leopard cardi later but I didn't realise I would need it when I snapped these photos.
I'm trying not to buy too much for Autumn Winter (apart from these jeans, obviously). I have so many jumpers and cardigans I can hardly close my knitwear drawer (yes, I have a knitwear drawer. Is that weird?) and I have lots of dresses I can layer over, plus I think I definitely have ten coats (or more!) now. With Phil and I moving in together after Christmas I know I won't be able to take all my clothes with me so buying loads of new things seems redundant. So what's on my A/W list? A new pair of black ankle boots, a cream cable knit jumper (I've been looking for the perfect one for years), a grey sweatshirt and this leather skirt from Oasis. I'm going to pop into Manchester on my lunch to buy it next week as they didn't have it in Outfit yesterday. I was hoping I could exchange it for the other jeans and then it wouldn't feel like I was spending anything. Does anyone else feel like that?
tshirt- Brand New website
flats- Dorothy Perkins
necklace- c/o Adorning Ava
Wow I feel like I have a lot to say today- sorry! I planned to get a post out on Tuesday and took the photos before work, but on my walk to work on Tuesday (it is literally about five minutes) my foot was hurting so badly that I decided I needed to go to A&E, so that was where I spent Tuesday evening. I had an X ray and the doctor doesn't believe it is a fracture but that it is just a sprain or a strain. I'm not entirely convinced because I read that sometimes stress fractures are too small to be seen on an X Ray, but he told me it should recover in three to six weeks. However it's been two weeks since it first started hurting now and I think it feels like it's getting worse rather than better. I'm giving it as much rest as I can (I'm not much of a rester) and trying to keep it elevated (when I remember) but I'm getting very frustrated. I keep cursing runners in my head when I see them run past. I want to be able to run again!
I've had a really quiet weekend, which has left me feeling a bit bored and tired. I felt like I had a really long week this week so I was ready for a quiet one but now I'm kind of fed up! Last night my parents went out so Phil and I had the house to ourselves and he's got me watching Friday Night Lights because he loves it (I like it so far!). It's nice to have a boxset to watch at the moment while we're both living at our parents' cause it means we don't have to go out for dates all the time. Today I've done my usual Sunday shop and Sunday cooking. I've made lentil and coconut milk soup and a big pan of red cabbage so far, and I'm going to make a veggie shepherd's pie with sweet potato mash this afternoon.

Hope your weekend has been lovely!

Charlotte x