Thursday, 31 December 2015

10 things in 2015

Phil and I were reflecting on the year earlier in the week and Phil said "at least it was better than last year."
Which is true. While I don't look back on 2014 as a "bad" year, it involved me getting made redundant from my dream job, Phil being in a car crash (and writing off his car), one of Phil's closest friends being diagnosed with leukaemia... and all of these happened within a few weeks of each other.
But 2015 has been good. Of course, we all have our ups and downs, but I feel like I'll reflect on 2015 as being a good year. Obviously there are lots of little things to talk about that happened in 2015, but I liked the idea of a "top 10 of 2015", so here are some of my best bits...

1. Phil and I moved in together!
This is obviously a big one! Phil and I moved in together into our little flat in February and it's been absolutely amazing! I absolutely adore seeing him every day, I love living in the city centre and I just love our little flat! A lot of people told us that living together was a big step, and it was, but it's one of the best decisions I've ever made.

2. Celebrated two years with Phil
We also celebrated two years together in November. He's a keeper.

3. I ran my first 5K under 30 minutes and my first 10K under 60 minutes
If you remember my goals for 2015 I made at the start of the year, these were two big milestones that I wanted to hit. I hit my first 5K in under 30 minutes in April and my first 10K in under 60 minutes in May. My 5K personal best now stands at 27:13 and my 10K personal best is 58:08. I'm incredibly proud of how far my running has progressed this year after plateauing a bit last year. I've taken over three minutes off my 5K time in this year alone. 

4. I ran four races, including my second half marathon!
My goal for 2015 was to run at least three races, but I didn't think at the start of the year I'd be training for my second half marathon! My second half marathon was hands down the best day of 2015, and I smiled through the entire race from start to finish. I have never been as proud as I was crossing that line at 2 hours 8 minutes.

5. I signed up for my first marathon!
Now I just have to run it - eek!

6. Went to London, Blackpool, the Lake District, Whitby and Spain
We've had some lovely little breaks this year and I'm looking forward to going back to the Lakes and Spain in 2016. I especially loved our trip to London in February where we saw Les Miserables on the West End. Oh we also went to Anfield to see Liverpool in January!

7. Went to the cinema 25 times
When Phil and I first started dating I said I wasn't really a film person and Phil was devastated. How things have changed! After over a year of Phil trying to persuade me, I got my Cineworld Unlimited card in November last year and now we go to the cinema at least twice a month. Some of my highlights from 2015? Whiplash, Amy, Birdman, Sicario, The Martian and Star Wars.

8. Read 40 books - and joined the library
When I commuted to work I used to read a lot, so I worried about making time to read once we moved into the city centre. But in February, we moved offices at work and were suddenly across the road from the library, so I started to go almost every lunchtime, and had to keep upping my reading goal (which had been 25 books!). The best books I read this year were A Little Life, Behind the scenes at the museum, A God in Ruins, Americanah, I am Pilgrim and Lean In. I add everything I read to my Goodreads, so go follow me over there!

9. Ran 651 miles
Here's to many, many, many more in 2016!

10. Stopped having sugar in my tea
I've been trying to give up sugar in my tea for years. I've always been able to drink it without but just preferred it with sugar so much. In February something clicked, finally, and I've not had sugar in my tea or coffee since. I don't miss it at all, and still drink just as much tea!

I hope you've all had a wonderful 2015, and I wish you all the best in 2016! I'll be back later in the week (next year!) with my goals for 2016.

Happy New Year!

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Sinderella

This is the second time in less than a week that I've still been in pyjamas by lunchtime. On Boxing Day, apart from going out to parkrun, I spent the whole day in my pyjamas.
It's been absolute bliss.
You know when you're a kid and you fall asleep for 14 hours and your parents say "you must have needed that?". That's what this break has been like for me.
For days I've had nothing, or almost nothing to do. I've read books, I've spent time with my family, I've watched films at 9am, I've played two very competitive games of Scrabble.
I've had days without planning, without organising, without worrying. 
I went back to my parents on Christmas Eve and didn't get back til yesterday. Which meant six wonderful days of no cleaning, no washing, no cooking (okay, just once. Wait, twice) and no adulting. Finally recharging those batteries.
I knew I needed this break, but I didn't know I needed it this much. I didn't know that I would, for once, enjoy relaxing and not be climbing the walls after a couple of days. In fairness, it's not like I've been sat in my pyjamas the whole break. I've been to football games and visited family and ran and entertained guests and cooked dinner. But it's all been wonderful.
This has hands down been my favourite Christmas in years. Phil and I have finely tuned our day of two Christmas dinners, I got to spend the day with all my favourite people, everyone loved the gifts I bought them and I've been completely spoiled. Christmas Day didn't feel rushed or manic; instead we managed to split our time between both our families without feeling like we'd let anyone down. We celebrated old traditions and made new ones.
We headed back to the flat yesterday and it's been so good to be home. I'm really looking forward to a few more days off to recharge my batteries and I'm not even thinking about work for another few days (or at least trying not to!). 
dress - Dorothy perkins
leather jacket - Boohoo
leopard flats - c/o Sinderella
black heels - Primark

This is the outfit I'm maybe wearing for New Year's Eve. As you can probably tell from the presents under the tree, I took these before Christmas but in my zen-like relaxation state I haven't sat down to post them til today. We're just going to the power ballads night we like for New Year's Eve but I'm actually really excited. I've never been out for New Year before because I hate it, but Ultimate Power is always such a good night I know it will be really fun.
You might notice the change of shoes in these photos. In recent years I have to admit I've abandoned my heel collection a bit in favour of being comfy. Living in the city centre means we walk a lot of more if we're going out and I'm so impatient I really hate how wearing heels slows me down. I first heard about fold up ballet flats a few years ago and have wanted some for years, so I was super excited when Sinderella shoes asked me to try some.
If you don't know how they work, they're little ballet flats that fold up into a bag so you can pop them in your handbag for a night out and when your feet start to hurt you can pop off your heels and slip on some comfy flats! I chose the leopard ones because I quite often wear black or one-coloured dresses and I thought leopard would be a really nice accent. You can see how they fold up and the bag they come in below:

Well I really should be getting ready now. I've had the most lovely morning watching Ratatouille in my pyjamas with Phil and making eggs in purgatory for brunch, but I am way overdue for my six mile run! Maybe this relaxation thing is growing on me!
I'm going to do a best of 2015 post tomorrow so I'll see you then!

Charlotte x

Monday, 21 December 2015

Six years

I started this blog when I was 19.

I was home from uni for Christmas, and after months of reading fashion blogs, and then finding out someone I knew had a fashion blog, I decided to bite the bullet.
I remember my first outfit photos like it was yesterday.

There was snow on the ground and I put together a mismatch of what seemed like every print I owed and ran around the garden asking my Dad to take pictures of me.
And this was what I thought blogging was. Mixing prints and snow and photos where I ran around pretended I was a 5 foot 4 model.

I remember how disappointed I was with the resulting photos. I didn't look effortless. I didn't look cool. But reading that blog post back now I was so optimistic. I was determined to give this blogging thing a go.

When I wrote my first-ever post, on the 22nd of December 2009, I wonder if I knew what I'd be getting myself in to. I wonder if I knew the skills I would learn in photography, coding, social media, PR and Photoshop. I wonder if I knew that my blogging skills would help me to get every job I've had since university. I wonder if I knew I'd still be doing this six years later (I'm tempted to say yes because I am the most committed person in the world when I want to be, but six years? I'm not sure).

This blog has been with me for almost a quarter of my life. I've taken photos in the freezing cold Minnesota snow, with hands red and raw from the cold. I've blogged in the scorching heat of the New Jersey sunshine. I've blogged in my little side alley at uni in Birmingham where I made friends with builders who were curious about what this strange girl was doing in her high heels and tripod.

I've blogged in the little flat I share in Manchester with my boyfriend.

I've blogged through homesickness and breakups and car crashes and losing my grandparents. I've blogged from signing up for my first race to my first, and then second, half marathons. I've blogged relationships from start to end. I've blogged my first date with Phil to a year together to moving in together to two years. 

In six years I've blogged everything. I have my entire life here on this pages.

A lot of things have changed since 2009. For one, I'm not blonde any more. My style has definitely changed. And I've changed. From teenager student to a woman with a career and a boyfriend and a flat. And this blog has changed too. Now it's less about my outfits and more about my life and running and podcasts and cooking and well, a bit of everything really.

I'm so proud of this blog. These days it seems like everyone has a blog and sure, I don't update it quite as much as I used to and maybe I don't spend as much time on it, and sure, some days it is a chore rather than a joy to write an update. But I know that I was there back in 2009 when there weren't that many blogs around. I was there when blogging was new and exciting and when bloggers weren't just doing it for free clothes or for money. I was there when outfits were creative, not comped. I was there in the golden era of blogging.

And I don't know where this blog will take me next. As I've grown up the time I've had to dedicate to it has decreased but I can't imagine not having this blog in my life, whether it's updated one a week or once a month. I love having my pictures and memories here for the duration, especially from when I was living abroad. I've loved having the confidence to diversify this year with posts on more than just what I'm wearing. I'm excited to bring more of that in 2016.

So here's to six years. Six wonderful years of this blog. And here's to you. Whether you've been reading this blog for 6 weeks or 6 years. Thank you to everyone who has read my self-absorbed rubbish over the last few years.

All my love,

Charlotte x

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Outfits in Instagrams

For about a month I was stuck in a rut.

Cold mornings. Jumpers. Jeans. Boots.

It was cold. I was bored. I didn’t care about getting dressed. I just wanted to get out of my cold flat and get to work.

I was conscious not only of the fact that I hadn’t blogged, but that I had nothing to blog about.

I hate the idea that you have to buy new things to get inspired but sometimes a couple of new things can completely change how you look at your wardrobe.

This was certainly the case for me. All it took was two roll neck jumpers, two new skirts and pulling out a dress I've owned for three years and never worn.

Suddenly I was creating outfits that I loved again. Feeling good about clothes again. Feeling good about what I was wearing.

However, when it came to dark nights and early morning marathon training and rushing out of the door for work, taking outfit photos hasn’t been an option.

Add to that, evenings spending up putting up not one, but two Christmas trees and being asked to be a bridesmaid and eating pizza with tortilla chips on, and weekends spent running and watching football and spending time with my family, time to blog just hasn’t happened.

But what has happened is Instagram. Whenever I’ve worn an outfit I’ve liked I’ve taken a quick snap for Instagram in my badly lit hall with my grubby mirror. And lately, that’s been enough. Not perfect, not ideal, but still a record of what I’ve worn and enough incentive for me to not slop around in jumpers and jeans every day.

So instead of nice photos in my living room with a good camera and a clean, white background, I have Instagram snaps of my outfits. And in the interest of not “wasting” them on Instagram, I thought I’d post them here too.

So here's what I've been wearing lately (you'll notice quite quickly there is a bit of a theme. Oh and I have like, 2 poses).
skirt - Joy, jumper - Primark, boots - Oasis, necklace - Debenhams
jumper - Zara, skirt - Warehouse, boots - Ugg
jumper - Oasis, skirt - Warehouse, boots as before

Everything as before (told you there was a theme...)

dress - Next, jumper as before
Fun fact - I've had this dress for three years and this was the first time I'd ever worn it!

jumper - Marks and Spencers, skirt - New Look, boots as before

skirt and jumper as before, coat- Miss Selfridge (bought in 2009!), hat - ASOS

jumper as before, boots as before, skirt - Warehouse via ASOS

Everything as before

I've felt for years like my style "peak" was in the autumn/winter of 2011, but recently I've finally been feeling good about my style and how it has developed. I'm definitely sticking to a rotation of the same items (A line skirts, tucked in jumpers, pinafore dresses) and a simple colour palette (brown, black, beige, maroon) but this feeling like a maturing of my style and I really like it. I'm inspired again and writing lists of potential outfits instead of just grabbing the first thing I see before rushing to work.

I've also started to really like wearing my hair up, which is really strange for me. My hair being up in the past has always just meant it's a not-washing-my-hair day and I'd shove it in a sock bun, but I've started putting it into a ponytail, backcombing it into oblivion and folding it into a messy bun. I really like to have my hair up when wearing a high-necked jumper.

I'd really like to capture some of these outfits properly for my blog, but between now and Christmas I'm super busy (as I know everyone is!). For example, Friday was my work's Christmas do (I won best baker! Yessss!), then I got up early for 9 miles on Saturday morning, spend Saturday at my parents' putting up their tree, then spent the evening at our family friends'. Sunday was a blur of errands and food shopping and listening to football and cooking and trying to relax. Then Monday I took a break from choir because I was so exhausted, last night I was out with my friend Shaunagh (when she officially asked me to be her bridesmaid!), tonight I had to bake for our Chirstmas bake at work on Friday because it was my only night in (I've made slightly undercooked Baileys brownies. They are insanely rich!), then tomorrow it's my Grandad's anniversary so I'm out with my family, Friday I'm getting my hair done and then going out with my Mum and then I should finally get a rest at the weekend!

I am so excited for Christmas though, but I don't quite feel that it's only a week away! I'm off after the 23rd so I'll be heading home and looking forward to spending some time at home at Christmas.

It's my blog's 6 year anniversary (!!) next week so I'll definitely have to write about that!

Hope you're having a wonderful week!

Charlotte x