Saturday, 31 January 2015

A Guide to Working out at Home - and What I Wear to do it

There has only been one period of my life when I was a member of a gym. When I was studying abroad in Minnesota my university fees included gym membership, and the gym was literally across the road from my apartment.
I kind of had no choice.
I loved going to the gym, but I always felt a little misguided. It was during this period that I first tried, and failed, Couch to 5K, and instead spent 40 minutes at a time on the elliptical, reading a magazine and not really being too sure what I was doing.
When I returned to uni I never had to worry about finding time to exercise. I was a member of the Dance Society and took five dance classes a week, often back-to-back. I was exercising, accidentally, five hours a week.
However, after university I spent a summer working in New Jersey as a lifeguard. The portions were big, the food was exciting and I was spending 11 hours a day sat in a chair. I came home a few pounds heavier and knew I needed to do something.
Up until that point I exercised for necessity, never for fun.
Oh how things have changed. I'm not sure if two-years-ago me would recognise a me that exercises six times a week, gets up at 5am for mornings workouts and has ran a half marathon.
I digress. It was when I came home from New Jersey that I decided to buy the 30 Day Shred. The nearest gym was about a mile's walk away and just wasn't convenient for me and I'd heard great things about the 30 Day Shred.
And thus began my love affair with working out at home.
Since then, I've completed six Jillian Michaels DVDs, started running and then moved onto Beach Body, completing Insanity last year, and currently doing a combination of Chalean Extreme, Insanity Max 30 and Focus T25. I can't imagine going back to going to a gym.
I admit, working out at home isn't for everyone. It requires a lot of motivation and willpower and you have to be prepared for some repetition. Oh and it involves a little more money up-front. But it's absolutely perfect for me.
Here's why I love it:
  • I don't have to go anywhere. Except downstairs. This is especially perfect for me as I work out at 5am and then need to get ready for work. There is no time driving or walking to a gym. I can literally roll out of bed.
  • It's quick. I come downstairs, do my workout and I can hop straight in the shower.
  • I can wear whatever I want and there's nobody there to judge (more on that later).
  • There's an endless variety depending on what DVDs I have.
  • It's cheap! Of course, there are some investments - I have 4 different sets of weights, resistance bands and a yoga mat, and of course the DVDs, but it's just one-off purchases and I have something to show for my money!
  • You never have to wait for equipment.
  • I'm on my own. I get this blissful, quiet hour to myself every day. And I love it.
  • There are no excuses! All you need to do is put on a DVD! Bad weather or no time is not an excuse!
So how can you get started?
  • Buy a workout DVD! This is the best place to start. The 30 Day Shred is one of the best and I will always recommend it to start with. 
  • Find the best time of day for you to workout. For me, it's early early in the morning, but for you it could be straight after work or right before bed.
  • Make sure you have enough space. Some workouts require more space than others, so have a look online before you commit.
  • Buy the equipment you need - but don't go mad if you're not sure if you can stick to it! You can do the 30 Day Shred with just a couple of cans of beans if you don't want to buy weights.
  • Have a calendar and stick to it! Working out at home requires some motivation, but it's totally do-able if you hold yourself accountable.
  • Get yourself some nice workout gear you'll feel proud to workout in!
So what do I wear? Up until recently, I wore a short pair of black leggings that didn't even fit properly and whatever vest top was clean. My logic was "nobody sees me so it doesn't matter", but I am about to move in with Phil and I'd rather my workout gear wasn't quite so grim! I am always buying new running clothes, but I realised the other day that I only actually run twice a week and I really should be investing in workout clothes for my four morning workouts a week.
Two things happened this week to push me to get nicer workout gear. One was an email from House of Fraser asking me if I wanted to review something from their fitness collection, and another was some unexpected Christmas money from my Auntie and Uncle. So I got myself two new workout tops and two new pairs of leggings.

When it comes to workout gear for my morning workouts, here are my priorities:
  • It has to be cool. Working out at home gets warm as you can imagine, so the material has to be breathable. I always wear short leggings and a vest top
  • I have to be able to sleep in it. Yeah, I sleep in my workout clothes. So I need to be comfortable. I absolutely love my Zaggora stuff but they don't recommend sleeping in them, so I don't wear them as much as getting dressed in the morning is just one more effort I don't need at 5am!
  • Shoes. I wear some old flat Nike trainers for my morning workouts after injuring my foot last year doing Insanity without shoes. They're not the best but do not wear running shoes for indoor workouts. They're the completely wrong fit and you can injure yourself. Edit: I've had a few questions about this. I read this in an article by Shaun T that you can read here on the best shoes for Insanity. This might not be the case for everyone but he advises against cushioned running shoes. 
So when I was choosing something from House of Fraser I had both these things in mind. Originally I wanted some pink leggings, but they were out of stock in my size, so I went for this vest top. I loved the colour but most of all I loved the slogan. It reminds me of the This Girl Can campaign, which I absolutely love.
But the proof was of course, in the workout. I was a little concerned that the material wasn't breathable enough cause it wasn't as "slippery" as my other workout vests, but when Parkrun was cancelled this morning I did Insanity Max:30 Friday Fight and had no problems at all. Plus I actually loved my outfit!
leggings - Nike
sports bra - Nike


Here's a selection of my morning workout kit that I mix and match. As you can see, it fits in perfectly!

Let me know if you have any questions about working out at home! I'm planning to update my How to become a Morning Exerciser post as it's been over a year since I wrote it and I've learned a few more tips!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Sunday Catch Up

It's the Sunday evening after a great weekend and I've just had a quesadilla and leftover mashed potato for dinner.
Life is good.

A few weeks ago I posted my Lazy Sunday post and was really surprised by the amount of lovely comments and responses I got just from a little post about my Sunday. No outfit photos, just a few little Instagram snaps. So I thought it would be nice to do a little catch up post on a Sunday when I've not got any nice pictures to blog about - a post about my week, the things I've been up to and all the little things that don't warrant a whole post.

What I saw this week: Whiplash
If you haven't seen Whiplash, get out of the house right now, drive to the cinema as fast as you can and go to see the next showing. Seriously. One of the best films I've seen in ages - and thanks to my Cineworld card I've seen almost all the Oscar-nominated films this year. Incredible film, sensational performances (if JK Simmons doesn't get Best Supporting Actor I'll eat my hat) and I've been listening to the soundtrack on repeat at work all week. It's short, it's slick and it's intense. As soon as the film finished, Phil leaned over to me and said "If that started again right now I'd go see it again." We're thinking of a second trip to see it pretty soon. We're off to see Wild on Wednesday so I'll update you on that next week.

What I learned this week: Sometimes you need a break
Last Sunday it was a bit icy outside when I was due for my run, so I decided to give Insanity Max: 30 a go instead of my run. Long story short - it's amazing! I've been enjoying T25 but it's just not Insanity, but Max:30 is amazing. I've not felt that complete, utter exhaustion since Insanity. Anyway, Monday I did abs as usual, and on Tuesday I started the last and final level of Chalean Extreme, the Lean month. Man oh man it was hard. Wednesday was cardio so I did Max: 30 again and I was feeling sore all over, but good. However on Thursday morning I woke up late (which for me is 5.20am haha) and I felt very tired, nauseated and my heart was pounding. I started my strength workout but could tell from the numbers on my HRM that something wasn't right. So I stopped. It takes a lot for me to stop, but if my body isn't happy I'm not going to push it. I push my body enough with one extra mile, one more rep, just a bit faster. Friday was my rest day and I felt much better by Saturday, but I think adding extra cardio and harder strength to my workout took some adjusting to.

How I ran this week
I still wasn't feeling 100% on Saturday but Phil and I went down to Parkrun and I decided just to see how I got on and wasn't expecting a great run. Instead I got a really, really good pace on, absolutely went for it, and crossed the line with my watch saying 32:07. Now I know my watch is a little bit out from their official time (usually about 10 seconds) and I'd stopped to tie my shoes about two miles in and my watch stops when I stop so I knew I hadn't quite beaten my PB of 32:09. My official time was 32:17, so I missed a PB by just 9 seconds, but considering I hadn't felt great I was chuffed. I think I can get a PB in the next few weeks!
Then today I really wasn't feeling it after a busy day yesterday (more on that in a second!) but I went out with the intention of running 4 miles with a goal of 44 minutes. Now that's not a bad time for me, but a bit of a push. When my first mile came in at 10:06 I knew I was doing well, and by the second mile at 10:20 I felt I could easily do 4 miles in 42 minutes. I did 3 miles in dead-on 31 minutes (over a minute faster than my Parkrun PB) so I decided to push for 41 minutes. I didn't think I was quite going to do it til my watch beeped at dead-on 41 minutes. I was absolutely over the moon! My fastest run ever! I've got the Great Manchester Run in May but I'm going to sign up for a 10K in March to keep my focus and I'm really excited to work on my speed over the next few months!

Where I went this week: Anfield!
Phil is a big Liverpool fan, so as a result I've been following them for about the past year or so and absolutely loved it (I had a season ticket at Stockport County growing up and I've missed watching football). We've talked about going to Anfield for ages, but the opportunity never really came up. Phil's family are all big Bolton fans, so when Liverpool were drawn against them in the FA cup we knew we had to go. Phil sorted tickets out with a guy from work, and at the last minute my Dad's friend John drove us because he has a season ticket and was going anyway. I've been ridiculously excited all week. The atmosphere was incredible and I absolutely loved it. We were sat right in the Kop where all the singing is so I loved joining in with that. Even though it was a 0-0 draw it was such an exciting game and I cannot wait to go again! 

What I've cooked this week...
I made soup at 11pm while watching Match of the Day last night (it's red lentil and kale), and I also made 10 spice vegetable soup last week. I've been prepared all my work snacks for the week on a Sunday which really helps me in the mornings. It was my turn to bake at work on Friday so I made these Red Lobster-style Cheddar Bay biscuits that went down a treat - three people asked me for the recipe! I also made my favourite salmon burgers on Tuesday and a yummy courgette noodle stir fry on Thursday. And quesadillas. Always quesadillas.

What else happened this week?
Well I've just got back from lunch and drinks for Phil's friend's birthday which has been a lot of fun - even though I was expecting to get home at about 4.30pm but we were having such a good time it was actually 8.30pm! It's 2 and a half weeks now til Phil and I move into our flat! We're just so desperate to move in now time seems to be slowing down, but I know once I started thinking about packing I'll want even more time! Our joint account is ready, standing orders have been sorted out and we've got everything we need to get started so it's just a waiting game now! February and March are looking really exciting now too - we're off to London the last weekend in February for Phil's birthday weekend to go see Les Miserables on the West End, and I've got a Hen Night, a theatre trip to see Blood Brothers, a 10K, Alton Towers and my birthday to look forward to in March. Exciting!

Let me know if you like this kind of post - it's nice just posting about what I've been up to this week when I haven't had time to take proper outfit photos. I promise these won't replace outfit photos, but it's nice to just be able to post when I want to catch up!

Hope your weekend has been lovely too!

Charlottte x

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Return of the Swan Trousers

How do you dress for a family meal, followed by a choir concert followed by an engagement party? Like this, I hope. I was planning to wear my houndstooth trousers but my Mum "accidentally" bought the exact same pair last week and absolutely had to wear them today so I was in a bit of a pickle. For choir we have to wear black trousers and a bright top, so I wanted to wear trousers so I could quickly change into plain black trousers for my concert and then get changed again, so I was really struggling to come up with something that didn't involve my beloved houndstooth trousers. I was digging through my wardrobe for something to grab when I fell over these swan trousers. Remember when everyone had them in 2012? Well I still love them, and I'd gotten this jacket out to go with my houndstooth trousers as a future outfit, but figured it actually kind of worked with these trousers and so this outfit was born!
swan trousers - Topshop
red shirt - New Look
red jacket - Next
ballet flats - Warehouse
necklace - Topshop
lipstick - MAC Russian Red
Last night was our work "Christmas party" (yep, I know it's mid-January!) and my team were responsible for planning it, so it's been a bit crazy the last few weeks. All three of our offices (Manchester, London and Leeds) were coming together for the party for the first time in years so we had a lot of pressure to make it awesome! I had a really, really good night and I think everybody else did too. We had a murder mystery company come in for the first few hours and we set the tables up so that everybody was mixed up and could socialise with new people, and then we had the Axonn Awards and speeches, and of course plenty of drinks and dancing. We also had a photobooth which was obviously where I spent 90% of my evening. The theme was 1920s so I wore a black dress from ASOS, black courts from Primark, my furry jacket, a 1920s-style headband from Amazon and lots of pearls. 
It was so so much fun despite all the stress my team have been under planning it over the last few weeks. I had to leave at 11.15pm to get my train home but by the time I actually walked in I was glad I did because I was exhausted! Plus I was a bit worried about shouting too much with having our choir concert tonight because I have a solo!
Hope you're all having a lovely weekend!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 11 January 2015

A Particularly Lazy Sunday

The problem with having a fashion-y blog (and I say fashion-y because these days it's much more lifestyle, food and fitness, but anyway), is that sometimes you want to blog but you don't have an outfit to post. Today, for example, I am wearing my University of Birmingham Dance Society trackies and hoodie, and my Liverpool shirt. I don't have a scrap of makeup on and my hair has been in the same ponytail since my run this morning. But I still want to blog.
Some of my favourite blogs are no longer fashion blogs, but belong to former fashion bloggers. They're blogs that don't have pictures, or at least pictures aren't the focus. They're blogs about real people, about life. I love both Michelle's blog and Maggey's blog, and sometimes I want to write like that - to just blog about whatever I want without having to think of something inspiring to wear when the reality is I've been wearing the same jumper for the last three days.
But today, I just wanted to blog. 
So I am.
I've had a particularly lazy day today which has been a bit of a challenge. I crave having a full day to myself to do whatever I want, but the reality is I have a huge intolerance to boredom. Even though my to-do list for today seemed epic, I was done by 3pm and climbing the walls. If I'm honest I'm stressing out completely about all the free time I'm going to have when we move. Because I get up at 5am every day to exercise I'm in bed most nights before 9.30pm, but when we move I'll be getting home at a bout 5.15pm. Even if I go to bed at 9.30pm that's still 4 hours to fill! I haven't got any freelance work to do this week, I finished my TEFL course a few weeks ago and I got my 5 mile run in early this morning. I'm already thinking about online courses I can take to stop me going insane! If you saw what I'd done today you'd think I was really busy but I was bored out of my box, despite all these things. I just suck at relaxing and I love being busy!
So what have I done today?
I got up and had some toast, watched an episode of Parks and Recreation while it went down and headed out for 5 mile run. I haven't had a long, slow run for a while but I was reading the other day about the importance of a slow run, so I dropped my pace to 60-90 seconds a mile slower than I usually run today, which felt unnatural, and also scary (I'm scared of running slow in case I forget how to run fast!). About a mile and a half from the end, however, I got into a fight with a prickly bush and it ripped off my headphone extender! I completed my last mile and a half in silence and promptly got straight to Amazon to order another.
When I got home, after a quick shower, I started making an incredible brunch of sweet potato hash with kale and a fried egg, topped with feta and avocado. It was so good.
I used this recipe and added avocado and feta
Then I got baking. It's my turn to bake at work in a few weeks and I had the idea in my head to recreate Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay Biscuits. If you've ever been to Red Lobster, you know what I'm talking about. However, naturally, there were dozens of recipes online and while I usually wing it and make something new when it's my turn to bake, I decided to have a test bake. I ended up using this recipe, using whole milk with lemon juice to substitute the buttermilk. They were a bit tricky to make, but when they came out of the oven, oh my days, the smell! They smelled just like Red Lobster. A brushing of garlic butter and a bit of cooling later and I was dying to try one. Oh my god. They are incredible. Just like Red Lobster! I can't wait to make these for my bake!
So once that was done I decided to prep food for the working week. I cut up 5 apples, prepared 5 baggies of nuts and cut up enough vegetables for 4 days. Then I made a big salad to last me at least 3 days, and made a big crustless quiche for 4 day's worth of breakfasts. Then I watched two more episodes of Parks and Rec.
This crustless quiche is filled with mushrooms, spinach, feta and sundried tomatoes
After that I was really, really bored, so I decided to do a task I'd been putting off for weeks. I gathered up all my copies of Runner's World and a pair of scissors and started going through the issues for the articles I wanted to keep and file so I could recycle the rest. I did a quick arms and abs workout halfway through and made a green smoothie. 
After getting through three magazines, and basically reading them cover to cover, I took a break to make some dinner. We usually have a roast on a Sunday but my parents decided not to bother and had sandwiches instead, so I made a yummy bowl of beans and rice. And watched one more episode of Parks and Rec.
In one respect I feel like I've had a bit of a wasted day, but I know I'll appreciate what I did do when it comes to rushing out the door next week and realising I don't need to pack my lunch. I've actually had a really nice weekend - on Friday Phil and I went to see Foxcatcher and had some dinner, yesterday he came to Parkrun with me and then my friend Ellen came to visit. We went into Manchester so I showed her where out flat is and we mooched around the shops and had lunch. She was really excited to buy a leather jacket and I was really excited to buy two cushions from Primark I'd been looking for for weeks!
I've got a really busy week this week so I think I'll appreciate having a quiet weekend! Tomorrow I'm going to London for work and I have our last choir practice before our performance on Saturday and this week we have our New Year party at work! Technically it's our Christmas party but obviously a bit late. We've all been planning it in the marketing team so I'm excited to see the end result! Then Saturday I have an absolutely crazy day - I have a family meal at 3, then at 8 I have a choir performance then I'm going straight to my oldest friend's engagement party! 
I hope your Sunday has been great. I enjoyed writing this but I'm not sure if this kind of post is interesting to anybody but me! Hopefully I'll be back soon with more outfit posts!

Charlotte x

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Cold Season

Sorry I've been MIA the last few days. If I'm honest, I've been MIA from life the last few days. I came down with an absolutely horrible cold on Saturday, and you know how usually when someone has a cold you think (well I think), oh a cold isn't that bad - get on with it? This was like the mother of all colds. If Monday hadn't been my first day back at work after nearly 2 weeks off I would undoubtedly have stayed in bed. I haven't been to choir, left the office at lunch for the first time today and, worst of all, haven't exercised for almost a week. I feel absolutely awful when I don't exercise, and 5 days off has been a real killer, but with nothing to train for at the moment (except for the Great Manchester Run which I signed up for the other day), I decided I could cope with a few days rest. And I felt so miserable trying to exercise would have been a mistake. I've had a few quiet days at home, sleeping and reading a lot (and watching a LOT of Parks and Recreation) and I'm finalllly feeling better. I'm definitely gonna try to get a strength workout in tomorrow and tackle park run on Saturday morning. I'm trying to do it every week before I move out cause the nearest one to our new flat is a bus journey away, and while I'm still going to go as much as I can, I know I'll miss it being around the corner!
jeans- Topshop
jumper- c/o Hush
boots - c/o Timberlands
scarf- ASOS
furry jacket - Quiz
This outfit came about completely by accident and I loved it but it didn't really photograph as well as I would have liked. I basically live in the combination of jeans, this stripey jumper and these boots, and of course, I threw them on for a lazy day on Boxing Day. However, Phil and I decided to hit the sales so I put on this furry jacket which was lying about as I wore it on Christmas Day and added my favourite scarf and unexpectedly loved it! I don't wear this jacket much as I never think it's warm enough to be a coat alone but it's too thick to wear under anything, but I wear it a lot as an evening jacket in the winter time. 

I feel like this week has flown by. It could be because most evenings this week I've felt so ill I've basically gone straight to bed but I'm glad I'm feeling better for the weekend. Tomorrow Phil and I are going on our third cinema trip of the week (we saw The Theory of Everything and Birdman one after the other at the cinema on Saturday) to see Foxcatcher. I am so excited. It's been the film I've been most excited about this season. And on Saturday my friend Ellen is coming to visit. I'm going to take her to see our flat in Manchester even though we can't go instead - less than 5 weeks to go though!

Hope you're having a lovely week.

Charlotte x

PS. I've managed to convince my team to start watching Parks and Recreation and they all love it. Today we decided we needed a new team philosophy...

Friday, 2 January 2015

Those 2015 goals I said I wasn't going to make

Phil and I ringing in 2015

Yeah. I caved.
Come on, I'm a goal-making machine. Did we really think I wasn't going to make any this year?
I think the biggest thing for me is I'm scared to publish my goals out here on the internet in case I don't achieve them. As I said before, instead of motivating me, that scares me. I'm very self-motivated but that means I also put a lot of pressure on myself to keep pushing towards my goals all the time. And then once I hit them I'm straight onto the next goal. There's always another thing I can be pushing towards. I'm kind of addicted to reaching goals, but on the flip side I can't bear to not hit them.
Take for example my book reading challenge. I wanted to read 30 books in 2014, but after spending three months reading Stephen King's epic The Stand at over 1000 pages, I realised that wasn't going to be possible. I just had too many other things going on at that time. I reset my goal to a much more manageable 20 and in the end read 24.
I've talked before about trying to be all things to all people, and this can be my problem. Too many goals, too many things to focus on, resulting in no success in any area.
Last year I trained for a ran my first half marathon, got into strength training, got a park run PB, ran my first mile under 10 minutes, ran 3 races, completed Insanity, read 24 books, finished my TEFL course, stopped biting my nails and had three different jobs!  It was a big year for successes, but most of those were goals I hadn't even dreamed of completing on 1st January 2014. I think it's important for me to just let these things happen, instead of forcing myself.
So for 2015, my goals are small but specific. I don't agree with vague goals that can't be measured - instead of "keep working out regularly", I'm going with "keep exercising 5-6 times a week". There are going to be a lot of changes in my life from 11th February onwards so my key focus is really going to be setting new routines - routines for exercise, for cooking, for food shopping, for seeing friends, for blogging, so it's going to take me a little while to just feel "me" again (I'm nothing without my routines!).
Okay that was a lot of waffle! Here are my 2015 goals (in no particular order):

Run a 5K in under 30 minutes
I am getting so close now. My last Parkrun PB was 32:09 and I've got my average mile time down to 11 minutes or below now, so this is hopefully only a matter of weeks away. I'll definitely be there by the end of the year! This has been a goal of mine since I started running, but my half marathon really taught me to run slow and long which really messed with my speed for a long time but with no half marathon this year it's gonna be the year I do it!

Run a 10K in under 60 minutes
As above - I'm hoping to be able to smash this in 2015.

Run 3+ races
I love racing, but I only ran 3 races in 2014 (I had to withdraw from a 4th due to injury). I want to focus on shorter distances in 2015, so it's gonna be the year of the 10K race for me and I want to run as many as possible!

Complete Insanity again
I absolutely loved Insanity but it was hard work fitting it in every day. When I completed it last year I wasn't working so I had much more time to squeeze it into my day, but I'm determined to complete it again this year.

Sign up for another half marathon - for 2016
I really, really want to run another half marathon, but with most of them in the summer I know I don't have time to train and I also don't want to have that pressure on myself while I'm getting used to living in a new area and new running routes. Also, as I said above, I want to focus on my speed in 2015. But I am ready for another half marathon next year. And maybe a marathon the year after that...

Hit 40 Park Runs
At the moment living at home, my nearest Parkrun is literally round the corner. When I move into Manchester it's going to be a bus ride away. But I'm determined not to let that stop me. I'm currently on 19 Parkruns and I'm planning to run every weekend between now and moving out, to put me on 24 before I leave. I'm determined to keep heading down to Parkrun as much as possible, even though it's not quite as convenient as it once was.

Keep exercising 5-6 times a week
I love my workout routine at the moment - Monday is abs or stretch, Tuesday and Thursday I do Chalean Extreme, Wednesday I do T25, Friday I rest and the weekends are for running. I know the first few weeks of moving into the flat will cause some changes and I'll need new routines but once I'm settled in I want to get back into a regular routine.

Read 25 books
Not as ambitious as most people with their 100 book plans, but with losing my commute in February I want to still make time to read. 25 books isn't loads but it's realistic for me.

Go to the cinema twice a month
One thing I have to thank Phil for is reigniting my love of film. He's had a Cineworld Unlimited card for years now and when the potential Oscar-winning films starting coming out in November I finally caved and got a card. I have to go twice a month to make the card worth it, but seeing as I went 5 times in November I think I'll probably be okay!

Take some time for photography once a month
2013 was a great photography year for me and I took two photography courses at night school. 2014... not so much. Running sort of took over last year but I really want to get back into taking photos regularly. Once I month I want to either get out there or spend some time reading about photography to get myself enjoying the hobby once again.

Keep working hard at my job
If 2014 taught me one thing it's that you can't take anything for granted. I had three jobs in 2014. This year I want to stay where I am, keep working hard and hopefully reap the benefits of that.

Learn to cook meat
I've been a pescatarian since I was 11 years old so learning to cook meat has never been a skill I've needed. However, as much as Phil enjoys my veggie delights, I know he'd love it if it could cook meat for him occasionally. 

Take at least 3 weekends away
I don't know whether we'll get a chance to get away abroad this year with the flat. I'd love to, but I'm just as happy to have a few weekends away in the UK. I've got my eye on Dorset (thanks, Broadchurch) and we've been hoping to get a weekend away in Liverpool at some point.

Do one cultural activity per month
We won't be living in Manchester city centre forever so I really want to take advantage of it while we can - visiting museums, art galleries, walking tours, theatre trips. 

Eat at 10 different places 
I love going to new places to eat, but I do have a soft spot for my favourite places. As with cultural activities above, there are so many great restaurants in Manchester and I want to experience as many as possible!

Save up
I'm pretty good with money, and I've been saving up a lot while I've been living at home, but once I have bills to pay and food to buy it's going to get much more tricky, but it's really important to me to stay on top of money and keep putting something away each month. I've recently started to take on some freelance work which I'm hoping will increase this year and I'll be putting all that into savings.

Volunteer
My colleague Natalie and I have been talking about volunteering at a soup kitchen when I move into Manchester and I really want to make sure I do something to give back in 2015.

Keep blogging!
As with running and cooking and my other routines, things are going to change when I move into Manchester. Blogging is going to be a challenge until I can figure out when and where to take my photos but I'm confident I'll get my routine sorted. Blogging hasn't been as easy the last few years with working full time, but I can't imagine my life without this blog!

Use my free time effectively
When we move, I will be a grand total of 5 minutes walk from my work. With no commute, that's nearly 2 hours a day I'm getting back on my day. I want to use that time effectively. I don't want to say I'm going to start a new hobby or start learning French because that's too tying, but I just want to be sure I make the most of that extra time, whether it's more reading, more freelance work, more photography, or even just using that time for the food shop. I don't want to waste time in 2015.

Keep doing what I love
When Phil and I signed for our flat, everyone in my choir was panicking I was going to leave. No way! I love choir, of course I'm not going to leave. Sure it's going to be a bit more tricky to get there and back, but it's not going to stop me. Blogging is going to be more difficult, but I'll find a way. Running will involve some changes. Everything is going to change! But I'm not going to stop doing what I love.

Stop putting pressure on myself and be happy!
Okay this goes against my rule of no intangibles. But Phil and I are moving in together - that's so exciting! It's gonna be stressful and tiring but oh it's going to be so brilliant. I need to remember how excited I am right now when I start getting overwhelmed. I'm going to miss some running, I'm probably going to eat takeaways far too much when we first move in, I might not read my two prescribed books per month but I just want to enjoy the process. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

What are your goals for 2015?