Tuesday, 28 October 2014

A Week in Spain

Until last year, I had never really experienced the "need" for a holiday.
Of course, I had had holidays, but they had just been pleasant interludes in the musical of life. A change of scenery. A change of pace.
Last year, not at all coincidentally a year after starting to work full time, I experienced my first aching need for a holiday. And last year I tagged myself, last minute, onto my parents' trip to our apartment in Spain.
If you remember, it was just a few months before I left my job. I was tired, I was stressed and I had no idea where I was going in my life.
That holiday was an absolute dream. 
After a few days of getting my head around the whole "relaxing" thing and understanding that we didn't need to be up and out of the apartment by 9.30am, I got it. I was here to relax.
I read five books, went on loads of walks and avoided the internet for a week.
I finally felt refreshed when I came back, and vowed to make the weekly trip to Spain every year.
So this year I started asking my parents about the trip months and months ago, but this time with an extra addition.
My boyfriend Phil.
It wasn't our first holiday together (we went to Prague in June) but bringing him on our holiday to our place was a big thing.
It turned out it was the only extra ingredient this holiday needed. The cherry on top.
I had the most lovely week, the only downside is it feels like a million year ago.
Now I'm not going to bore you with everything I did (other people's holiday photos are boring- right?) but I'm gonna show you some of my photos and like this post, just tell you a few things I got up to. Because I love having these posts to look back on. When I was tired and stressed at work on Monday I would glance at some holiday photos and instantly feel better.
These photos are all different sizes, some are great, some are rubbish but these are my memories and they make me smile.
  • I ate 90% bread, patatas bravas, crisps and ice cream. And I am totally okay with that.
  • I actually ate patatas bravas four times. I was craving them the whole trip and had several meals of pure potato.
  • Discovered my favourite ever restaurant ever (see below) - it was like a tapas buffet and they came around with hot food when it was ready, and then counted your cocktail sticks at the end. We are there twice. It's going to be a regular feature on the Crowley family holiday I think.
  • Went on a lot of really nice long walks
  • And took lots of photos of Phil with nice views
  • Actually got a couple of nice photos of Phil and I where neither of us are pulling stupid faces.
  • Got bitten five hundred million times by mosquitos. Including on my face. Twice.
  • Watched a LOT of football. In a good way.
  • Actually had fun on the beach (I hate the beach, but I might be converted)
  • Wore my favourite bikini
  • Discovered I am pretty good at boules
  • But shocking at Connect 4
  • Played on the swings and seesaw in every. single. playground we found on the holiday (there were at least 3)
  • Finished 5 books (Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, Horns by Joe Hill, Mindy Kaling's book, Tina Fey's book and Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn)
  • Avoided the internet for over a week
  • Went on a toy train tour of the town
  • And waved to every person we went past 
  • Some of them waved back
  • Did pretty badly in a pub quiz. Phil is convinced the winners cheated.
  • Brought way too many clothes
  • Finished the first season of Peaky Blinders
  • Made quesadillas twice
  • Bought a completely unneccessary big thick scarf. In Spain. From Primark.
  • Didn't paint my nails for a week. Mostly out of laziness.
  • Nearly went in the pool, but then decided it was way too cold.
  • However it was in the high 20s every day we were there and we didn't have one day of bad weather
  • Accidentally took a photo of Phil that is identical to the first photo I ever saw of him
  • Tried some calamari. Still freaks me out.
  • Ate a LOT of tapas
  • Had breakfast on our balcony every day
  • Went for ice cream three times. 
  • Discovered that one scoop of yoghurt flavour and one scoop of lemon sorbet is the way forward
  • Had a really lovely, relaxing time with my absolute favourite people
  • Possibly had the best holiday ever

Friday, 17 October 2014

Huntin' Shootin' Fishin'

I feel like I should be posing on the front of some kind of hunting magazine in this get up. I would have loved to have taken these photos outside. Unfortunately it's now reached that time of the year when it's dark when I leave the house for work at 7.15am and it's dark by the time I get home at 6. Sad face. So for the next few months it's either gonna have to be just photos at the weekend or rubbish, low quality before-work bedroom snaps.
jeans- Topshop
white shirt- Boohoo
jumper- Matalan
boots- c/o New Look
Anyway, let's talk about these boots. I've always thought that brown, knee-high boots (or in fact, knee-high boots in general) were the epitome of classy. One of those staples that instantly updates even a simple jeans-and-jumper outfit. I know you don't need me to show you how to wear jeans and a jumper and a pair of boots, but you should know by now that we're all about keeping it real round here. I've never really got bloggers that wear an outfit just to photograph it. Surely that defeats the purpose of an every day style blog? Anyway! I was a bit worried about the fit of these boots cause New Look only had them in wide fit and I don't have wide feet, but a big pair of socks more than sorts them out and they'll keep my feet extra toasty in the winter. I'm also obsessed with forest green right now, even though it's so two winters ago. I bought this jumper this week along with an Essie nail polish which is almost identical in colour.
Short post tonight because I'm off to Spain tomorrow! My Mum, Dad, Phil and I are off to my parents' apartment on the Costa Blanca for 8 days. I'm ready for a really relaxing break but also really excited to show Phil all of our favourite places. My parents have had their apartment for 10 years now so I've been dozens of times but it's always a really nice break and it will be exciting for Phil seeing it with new eyes.
I'll be back in 8 days!

Charlotte x

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Fitbug Review

I've never really worried about working a sedentary job. As someone who exercises five or six times a week I've never really considered it to be a problem that the only exercise I get during the working day is my half-hourly trips to fill up my water bottle which naturally result in half-hourly trips to the bathroom.
Then a few months ago I was flicking through Runner's World and I found an article entitled "Sitting is the new smoking, even for runners", the gist of the article being that even if you run (or do any kind of exercise) regularly, the threats of sitting down too much can still be as damaging to your health, in the same vein that it doesn't matter if you run 60 miles as week if you smoke forty a day.
This was a bit of a surprise to me. As aforementioned, my every day life isn't that active aside from my running and Beachbody workouts. I walk five minutes from the train station to work and back, and Phil is always taking the mick out of me for complaining that he doesn't park close enough to my house. I consider myself a lazy-exerciser. I exercise like crazy five or six times a week, but if I can get the lift rather than the stairs, I'll probably get the lift. Which I suppose makes me exact the kind of person that article describes.
A few weeks ago I was looking at the iPhone step tracker and set that up for a few days, but I found I obviously don't take my phone with me every time I go to the toilet at work, and I don't think all my steps were being detected in my bag, so I gave up, but I really liked the idea of actually knowing how much I walked. Because I work in the centre of town I can easily go for a mooch if my steps for the day aren't as high as I would like, and I liked the idea of being able to supplement my workouts with extra walking about.

I've fancied a fitness tracker for a while, but with so many on the market I didn't know where to start, so when Fitbug offered to send me a Fitbug Orb to review I figured I'd give it a try. The Fitbug tracks your movement and sleep, and you can set it to add in your nutrition too, or hook it up to My Fitness Pal. When the orb arrives, it looks like this...
c/o Fitbug

As you can see, it's pretty small, and notably, doesn't have a screen- it works entirely though the website or phone app. Now this might not be ideal for everyone, but for me- who never goes everywhere without her phone, it's absolutely fine.

Now I will admit the set up confused me, but then I realised I'd accidentally put the battery in upside down (ahem...) but once I got past that part it was fine. I did have some struggles connecting it to my MyFitnessPal, but some googling helped me out. It comes with a clip for your belt, a watch strap for it to fit it and a lanyard, so you have a few options of how to wear it. Initially I went for belt clip but then I switched to watch, which I think is more accurate.
The Fitbug works entirely over bluetooth and I have been solely using the iPhone app, so I can't tell you much about the website because one of the main selling points for me is being able to just use it on my phone. It has a couple of different settings- one where you press the button throughout the day for it to update your steps, one to get your steps in real time and one where it updates every 30 minutes so long as your phone is nearby and the app is open. I tend to leave it on the mode where it updates itself ("hub mode"), but then every now and again I'll press the button for an automatic update. This is a bit sad but I've gotten really into checking how many steps I've done!

On the first day I wasn't very well so I just tracked my steps. I try to get over 5,000 but I've been impressed that most days I've been well over 10,000. After a few days I started to also wear it for my workouts which it seems to track as "aerobic steps" which I think are steps over a certain pace. It's not super accurate for exercise (I did strength training this morning and it barely counted anything), but I don't really use it for that anyway (I have my Polar HRM for tracking my heart rate). I love that it doesn't just show you your steps, but how much time you've spent walking and the distance you've actually travelled. It's amazing to find out you've walked 4 miles in a day while you've just been pottering around!

So I did say alongside movement tracking it also has a sleep function. Now to be completely honest I was kind of dubious about this. I already use a sleep tracker and my sleep tracker has an alarm so I thought well, I don't need two so what's the point? But in the interest of a fair and accurate review I decided to try it out. I set my Fitbug and I also set my usual sleep app to see if they had similar results.

The Fitbug blew my mind.

My SleepCycle app only really tracks how long you've been in bed, and I only really pay attention to the quality of sleep as the graphs don't really interest me, but the Fitbug not only tells you quality of sleep, but it tells you how often you woke up in the night and for how many minutes and actually how many hours you were fully asleep during the night. I think that is absolutely fascinating! Admittedly, I'm not sure what to do with this information yet, but I'd love to keep track of various factors (bed time, stresses of the day, food consumed before bed) to try to get optimal sleep.

Would I recommend the Fitbug? Definitely. I think anyone and everyone can benefit from this- people like me who exercise a lot but have sedentary jobs and also people who don't exercise much and want to start moving more. I know having this baby strapped to my wrist makes me walk more, and I've been slipping into Manchester a few days the last week to get a few extra steps in. I also barely notice it on my wrist so wearing it isn't a big deal and I really find it motivating to get up and move more throughout the day.

Thanks Fitbug! I can't wait to play with this toy more!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Autumn 30 for 30: The End

Here we go, all 30 outfits...
I feel like last time I did this challenge I was a bit too safe- I chose too many  items that perfectly went together and had too much of a specfic colour and print palette, so I ended up with 30 outfits that seemed like a few variations on a theme. This time around I'm really happy with my choices and with my outfits- I feel like there's a lot of variety, a good mix of prints and colours and I feel like I successfully covered outfits for pretty much every situation I was faced with over the 30 days.
As I mentioned in my last post, there was a rogue 31st outfit that didn't make the cut, which resulted in one item not being worn. When I chose my 30 items I'd just come back from a weekend in Birmingham which had been a bit manic and I kind of threw my items together without much planning. As I've said above, I think that haphazard method with less planning helped for the most part, but it did mean I ended up with a navy pencil skirt in the mix which I just didn't fancy wearing. I put together one outfit, snapped it anyway before getting changed again but I'm glad I didn't include it, because I can honestly say I love all 30 of my outfits.
I remember last time I did this (over three years ago!) the biggest struggle was being so restricted. I "missed" outfits and items and couldn't wear to wear new things. Do you know what I wore today? My jeans and striped jumper (admittedly, I wore new boots), but I stuck to items from my 30, even though I could have worn anything. Because this time around the honest truth is that I missed wearing the same outfits over and over again. And I think that's where things have changed since I started this blog. When I started this blog I wanted to build as many outfits as possible and for the most part, I felt like I was "wasting" outfits by rewearing them when I could have come up with something new. Now, I'm always rewearing the same outfits and when I buy something new I don't just think about how much I'll remix it (although of course I always think that!) I also just think of a couple of nice outfits I like with the item.
I really enjoyed doing this challenge in the autumn instead of the summer too, with the exception of the ever-changing weather. The first few weeks of this challenge were some of the warmest of the year, but towards the end the temperatures completely dropped and forced me to wear more layers and push myself more with my outfits.
I also enjoyed not shopping for the month, although I did cave and order a jumper over the weekend but my justification was it didn't arrive til today. Today I also bought a lovely little skirt from Warehouse, but this challenge has definitely made me realised precisely how much I have. Especially with mine and Phil's future flat looming, I'm realising how much stuff I have and how much of it I'm going to need to cull before I move out early next year.
I would definitely recommend doing this challenge purely to push you to be more creative in your outfits. There are so many outfits here that I would never have put together ordinarily but that I absolutely love now and will wear again. Being restricted in what you can wear forces you to be more creative with what you have.
Will I do another one? Absolutely! It's so much more and such a good way to reawaken your creativity when you've been feeling uninspired (which happens to me a lot after nearly 5 years of blogging!).
If you want to see all the items in detail, check out my posts on week one, week two, week three and week four, and my last two outfits- day 29 and day 30. And if you want to see all 30 items, you can find them here.

I'll be back later in the week with new outfits!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Autumn 30 for 30: Week Four

(Check out my previous outfits- Week One, Week Two and Week Three)
Day 22
Day 23
Day 24
It's nearly over! Two more days to go! This week has been a struggle for a few different reasons. One, from Tuesday onwards, the temperatures just completely dropped. Outfits that didn't involved a cardigan or jumper were suddenly pretty much out. Plus, it rained a LOT this week, so it was boots or nothing. Or boots or wet feet. Add to that the fact that I've been poorly this week so any kind of getting dressed was unappealing, and that it was the second to last week and I've just been running out of ideas. Oh and that I tried to use up all those unworn items this week that I hadn't included before. I have now worn 29 of my 30 items, but one still remains. That bloody navy skirt. I put it on on Friday and put together a half-decent outfit with it, but I was going down to London to do a presentation for work and knew my outfit was not one I wanted to wear to have people stare at me for 2 hours, so I photographed it but didn't wear it. My navy skirt is too big (stupid M&S vanity sizing) and it makes my legs looks stumpy when worn with flat shoes (and I only included flat shoes in my 30 for 30). I'm planning to wear it tomorrow as it kills me to have one unworn item, but I did manage to wear the other remaining items this week- my red cardigan, red flats and stripey skirt.
Day 25
Day 26
So what else has been going on this week? Not much this week with being poorly for a couple of days, but this week is set to be mental. I go on holiday next Saturday so I have loads to do this week before I go, in particular loads of stuff for this blog! I've also just submitted my final TEFL assessment which is a relief. I started doing the course last year but it's not something I really intend to use any time soon, but I had a year to complete the at-home modules and my time is almost up so I'm glad I've finally finished that. This weekend has been a much-needed quiet one. I was in London for work on Friday and spent 4 hours of my day on trains there and back, so I just about had enough energy for a curry with my Mum on Friday night. Yesterday was pretty quiet- I'm loving T25 so I did that in the morning and then worked on my TEFL, did the food shopping and made a Mexican feast last night before falling into bed at 9.15pm! This morning I really wanted to go for a run (my foot, I think, is finally better!) but my parents don't want me to push my foot too much before we go away so I settled for T25 Speed 1.0 and a trip to go see family. Phil is coming round this afternoon and we're gonna chill out and start watching Peaky Blinders, which I've heard lots of great things about!
Day 27
Day 28
Stay tuned for the full round-up of all 30 outfits this week!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Autumn 30 for 30: Week Three

(Check out my outfits from Week One and Week Two)
Three weeks down and the end is in sight! I have found this week a little bit more difficult (take yesterday for example when I put an outfit on and then realised I'd already worn it), and I still have three unworn items which I wish I hadn't included, which is annoying. I know I need to wear them this week but I feel like including them was a bit of a mistake and I know I won't love the outfits I'll wear with them. I'm also feeling the pressure of including those last few outfits that are in my head that I want to get in before the challenge is over! Also apologies for the grainy pictures. With the nights getting longer it's getting darker and darker when I take my photos just before 7am so I need to adjust my camera settings!
Day Fifteen
Day Sixteen
Day Seventeen
This weekend has been awesome. On Friday Phil and I went to see Gone Girl. David Fincher is my all-time favourite director (my favourite film is Fight Club) and I only read the book because I knew he was directing it so I was buzzing. I absolutely loved it except for about the last 20 minutes, but I won't give anything away! Yesterday I went to get my hair done (you'll notice it's a little darker in the last photo) and I had some of the red taken out because it's been going kind of gingery when it gets towards the end of the 12 weeks between dye jobs so I've gone more brown and I love the colour I have now. I'm also growing it again cause it's felt a bit inbetween-lengths recently. Then last night Phil and I went out for dinner to celebrate one year since our first date! We went out to the bar where we had our first date for the first time since the first time. We had such a good night, had dinner, had a few drinks and then met up with some of my family who were out in town too which was lovely. 
Day Eighteen
Day Nineteen
Today Phil and I tried and failed to get Glastonbury tickets and then went out with his family for lunch (Sunday roast- yum! I had a nut roast with veggie gravy and all the trimmings. The yorkshire pudding was amazing!) and then went for a nice long walk, had a drink in a pub and then walked back. It was such a nice Sunday! My foot also held out well on the walk which is reassuring because it's less than 2 weeks until we go to Spain and we tend to do a lot of walking on our family holidays and there are loads of walks in Spain we want to take Phil on.
Day Twenty
Day Twenty One
Even though it's only 7pm I don't think bed will be far off. I started last week back on 5am workouts which I LOVE but my body clock hasn't quite readjusted yet. I'm doing a hybrid of Chalean Extreme and T25 at the moment which I love and it's distracting me a bit from not being able to run while keeping up my fitness as much as possible. I'm going to try running again after we get back from Spain  but I'm not looking forward to the struggle of getting back into it and how I'm going to be even more slow than usual til I get my fitness back up.

Hope your weekend has been awesome!

Charlotte x