Tuesday, 31 January 2017

January Life Lately

January has been quiet, and I think that's what I've needed after a busy few months. We've spent every weekend at home, had few plans during the week, and as I talked about in this post, this was partially intentional and partially through lethargy. I'm bad at relaxing, but I've forced myself to do less this month and I think it's helped. It's been nice to think "what should I do now?" rather than constantly feeling like I'm working through an endless to-do list.

But then looking at this list of everything I've done this month has made me realise I actually have done quite a lot this month. Sure I haven't been on any big exciting trips or some anything significant or dramatic, but I've still managed to do quite a lot!

We move out of our flat in less than two weeks, so January has been a month of packing boxes and taking down photos and trying to make the most of our time in the city. I'm devastated, but I'm starting to focus on the bigger picture. The next chapter of our lives is coming and I'm excited to have our own house with more than four rooms which we can really make "ours". Things are progressing slowly with the purchase of our new house, which hasn't helped with the overwhelming feeling of gloom throughout January, but progressing they are, so hopefully soon we'll be feeling more secure about our fuure.

So here's what I've been doing in January...

What I've been doing...
I kind of hate going out, ever, and I especially hate New Year's Eve, but with it being our last New Year in town (and realistically, we are never going to pay for taxis back from Manchester when we move!) we decided we had to go out.
A group of us went to Pop Bubble Rock and I had the best time dancing to the songs I used to scream along to when I was 16.
As I mentioned in this post on dinner parties, we successfully held a great dinner party at the start of the month, and I was really proud of the spread I put on. I even made my own pitta!
I've been really working on my morning and evening routines this month, while simulateneously trying not to put too much pressure on myself if I don't quite manage it every day. I'm trying to get up earlier, do my workout on workout days, fill in my gratitude journal and start my day more calmly. I've not quite gotten there yet and quite often end up making myself late and stressed, but it's a work in progress. I've also been trying to meditate with Headspace but I'm not really sure if it's working for me, so I might try an alternative app for guided meditation. I'm also trying to put my phone in the other room after 9pm, making myself a sleepytime tea and preparing for bed with my journal and a book. Like I said I'm not fully there yet, but I'm trying to instill some new habits to improve my mental health.

I mentioned last month that my fitness routine had been a bit all over the place, so I've managed to get myself a new routine this month which I love. I still run at the weekends (parkrun on Saturday, long-ish run on Sundays) and one day in the week, and then I've been doing Kayla Itsines' BBG (Bikini Body Guide, bleurgh!) two days a week. I resisted this for ages because I hate the cult-like nature of this programme, and the awful shame-inducing name, but I needed to get some more strength training into my life and it fits well with my routine. I do legs and cardio on Tuesdays and arms and abs on Thursdays. I don't know if I'll carry on with this when I start half marathon training again but for now I really like it (although it's bloody hard work!). I like that I can do it easily, like on Sunday when I managed 2 minutes of my run before realising it was too icy, and came home and did a full body circuit. I love that it only takes 30 minutes and you really feel it!

Where I've been
A few weeks ago we went out for our annual Crowley family new year drink, which was lovely, and afterwards Phil and I had an impromtu date night! We hadn't eaten and I was musing over what I could make, when we decided just to go to Home. Home is one of my favourite, favourite places in Manchester, and I'll miss living round the corner so much, so it was so lovely just to go out for dinner on a whim (see! I am being more spontaneous!).

As I said in the intro, everything has been quite quiet this month, but I have been to my friend Riven's for dinner, and we also had our last hurrah at Ultimate Power last week. 

What I've been loving
Did you know that Tuesday was National Compliment Day? I celebrated by texting all my friends a real, honest compliment about how much I loved and appreciated them, and it was so lovely to tell everyone how much I truly loved them! 

What I've been eating
When I went to Wahaca last month I signed up for their January promo - a free plate of tacos when you buy any other dish. Erm, okay! So at the start of January Phil and I went into town to claim our tacos, and then Phil's Mum ended up joining us! It was lovely - I really, really love Wahaca and I'm so glad we have one in Manchester now!
I've already gone on enough about the Greek feast I made, but I didn't mention Phil's magnificient Custard Cream cheesecake! I've never known him to make dessert before so I was really, really impressed and it was delicious! (Although neither of us could look at a custard cream for a few weeks after!).
I've made a few things I've really enjoyed lately - slutty brownies for a colleague's birthday, homemade pizza (including homemade sauce), pea falafels and pitta, apple crumble, Mexican lasange. I also had my first ever IKEA hotdog this month - I had no idea they did vegetarian ones! I can't remember the last time I'd had a hotdog!
I also finally made it to This and That cafe last weekend, where I've wanted to go for years. You wouldn't stumble over it if you weren't looked for it, but it's a tiny, caferia-like curry shop in the Northern Quarter, famous for its rice-and-three curries for £4. I had the three veggie curries of the day, Phil had two meat and one veg, and with a garlic naan, onion bhaji and two cans it was £12! They have different curries on the menu every day and I can't wait to go back!

What I've been watching
As I mentioned in my post on my Cineworld Unlimited Card, we have been going to the cinema a LOT lately! 
We've been 7 times this month, with four of those being Unlimited Screenings, and we've seen Silence (bit too long, didn't not enjoy it, but not sure I'd recommend it), La La Land (which we both LOVED), Manchester by the Sea (which I really enjoyed but this post in The Pool completely sums up my feelings on recommending it), Lion (which was okay, but we didn't really get all the hype around it), Hacksaw Ridge (which I really didn't expect to love, but I thought was incredible and I cried 4 times), Split (good, but I lost interest in the last 20 minutes) and Moonlight (which was beautiful).

We also finally watched Deadpool, which was as good as I was expecting!

We've got back into the US Office so we're currently finishing that off, and we're still on my second watch of Parks and Rec. I'm desperate to start a new drama as nothing has quite filled the Game of Thrones-shaped gap in my life but Phil isn't sure. We watched the first episode of the OA this weekend I quite fancy sticking with it, but Phil thinks it's too weird!

Oh and Gilmore Girls whenever Phil is out, which is rare, so I'm only about 6 episodes into the first series.

Things I've bought
I've actually treated myself to a few things this month, which is weird, but nice!
I reluctantly bought new trainers after Phil pointed out I'd worn through my beloved turquoise pair, which isn't surprising after a marathon, a half marathon and over 800 miles in them. So I caved and got myself the exact same pair in another colour! I actually got these for £42 after Amazon did a £10 discount code a few weeks ago!
I've been investing in a lot of classics lately, which I think says a lot about where I'm at with my style at the moment. I just don't care as much as I used to, and I'm just not excited about getting dressed in the morning. And that's okay! I've said it before but I am not a fashion blogger anymore and I'm 100% okay with that. Right now I am all about being easy and comfortable, so I've bought myself a lovely little black skater dress for work, two striped tops from Uniqlo, a stripey sweatshirt from Primark (I have the grey version and it's the softest, comfiest thing I own and only £5 so I couldn't resist) and some new jeans, also from Primark, which I'm most excited about. My Topshop Joni jeans are worn out after only a year, and I went to buy some new ones a few weeks ago before having a complete existentialist crisis in the queue when I realised I really didn't want to spend £45 on a pair of jeans that would last me a year. When I asked for recommendations on Twitter, my friend Laura recommended Primark's super skinny high waisted jeans, so I tried them on this weekend (in a size down, on her recommendation) and they're fab for only £8. Even if I only get 6 months out of them they'll still be a saving!

What I've been reading
I've read some great books this month! I absolutely adored The Easter Parade, by Richard Yates. I loved Revolutionary Road so I knew I'd love this. Heartbreaking, real and beautifully written, it ticked all the boxes I need to love a book. Similarly, My Name is Lucy Barton ticked all those boxes too and I read it in a day. I just couldn't put it down - I only wish it had been longer!

I also really enjoyed The Group by Mary McCarthy which has been on my to-read list for years. It's amazing how a book set in the 1930s can still feel so relevant,

What I'm excited for
I'm obviously mostly excited for our house, even though it still feel like we're not quite there yet. I can't wait to actually have moved in, even though that probably won't be for a few months while we get some work done on it (we're moving in with my parents in the interim). I can't wait for it to finally be ours to decorate!

BUT on Monday WE GOT HAMILTON TICKETS!!!!!! We were both poised at our computers at 12pm, logged in, multiple browsers open, strategy defined. I started to get through the process when Phil text me and said "I'm through" then "I'm paying", and then a few minutes later he sent me the order confirmation! Okay so it's not til next March, but it's the day before my Birthday, which also happens to be Easter weekend next  year, so we're going to make a real weekend of it in London. I'm so excited I was shaking! I didn't think we'd have a chance so I still can't quite believe it!

What I've written
After a prolific December, I got into a bit of a slump with blogging in the middle of the month but I feel like I'm clawing it back at the moment and have a handful of blog posts I'm working on, so hopefully I'm over that now! I think I get overwhelmed which I have big blog post ideas, especially posts that are "tips" or "advice" because I'm scared to get it wrong, and these are often the biggest, most involved pieces to write, so they can take quite a few hours to get finished and I think this can paralyse me at times! Nevertheless, I have managed to write five blog posts this month:
2017 goals
Making a home
January Lethargy
How to host a vegetarian dinner party (even if your guests eat meat)
Is having a Cineworld Unlimited card worth it?
For the love of mornings

What other people have written
Even though I feel like I've struggled to write this month, I've been really inspired by a lot of the great content I've read this month! The theme here definitely seems to be on mental health, happiness and giving ourselves a bit of a break, which have definitely been things I've been trying to work on this month!
(Also, I read The Pool every day, so yes there are a lot of posts from there!)

Why single-tasking can make everything better
I relate to this so much, and I often use the Pomodoro technique when I'm at work, and also when I'm doing my coursework, and I find it really helps me to focus. I'm also trying to put my phone away when I'm watching TV or watching a film. It's hard, but I'm trying.

Rediscovering the lost art of having a hobby
As much as I'm trying not to give myself a million new things to do, I love this post on having a hobby.

How to figure out what makes you happy
Loads of self-care stuff on the internet is about "doing what makes you happy", and I've been a bit embarrassed to admit that honestly? I don't really know what makes me happy. And this has made me feel like a bit of a weirdo. How can you not know what makes you happy?! So I was completely relieved to find this post from Yes and Yes on how to find what really makes you happy! I especially love the bit on reminding yourself "this makes me happy". I absolutely loathe painting my nails, but I love having painted nails, so I have to remind myself of this. Ditto I love spending time with my friends, but sometimes feel overwhelmed committing to making plans (more on this in a later link), and this really spoke to me. I've started to keep a list of the things that make me happy and I'm going to try to do those things more.

On Setting Goals
I can often (always) overwhelm myself with my endless need to set goals, but if you're not a goal-setting mess like me, you will love this post from Michelle on how she sets goals. There are free goal-setting printables too!

Baths and other simple ways to feel better immediately
The Pool have done a great series throughout January on "small changes, big difference", and while I hate baths I really love this post of tips on how to feel instantly better.

Confessions of a diary grump
You know when you have one of those "God I thought it was just me?" moments and you suddenly no longer feel alone in the world? This. post. As I mentioned above, I love spending time with my friends and scheduling in time to see them, but then as soon as the date looms I feel overwhelmed, even though I know I'll have a great time and I'll feel amazing after! This post completely gets it, and I'm not alone! 

The One Goals I gave up on in 2016
Sometimes I think Michelle and I are the exact same person. I could have written this. So one of Michelle's goals for 2016 was to use her free time more productively (me too!), but then she decided to give up on this goal and embrace not being productive all the time. Whoosh! This hit me like a ton of bricks! I constantly feel guilty if I'm not using my free time to do something productive, and I beat myself up if I feel like I'm "wasting time." I'm so glad Michelle wrote this, as I'm learning to embrace "me-time" a little bit more and trying not to feel guilty about it. Also on this theme, this post from Random Cath on productivity.

How to spend money on yourself and your happiness
Although I mentioned earlier than I bought myself a few things this month, I am incredible tight with money, and even when I'm doing okay, I feel guilty all the time when I spend money, especially if I'm not already accounted for it in my month's budget. I mentioned our spontaneous date night earlier - I agonised on whether we should do that or just save the money, and I'm a bit obsessed with not spending money unnecessarily, even when it can result in great memories like that night. So this post really hit home for me and I think coupled with that great unexpected date night, will hopefully help me to learn to be a bit more flexible with my spending, when I can afford to be.

Going out for dinner on my own keeps me sane
I always say I hate being alone, but that's actually not true. I'm alone as I write this, and I actually really enjoy having my own space. However I often feel guilty if I don't spend time with Phil, and in our small flat it's hard to get some space. I'm excited to have more rooms in our house so we can spend time apart without feeling like it's compromising our relationship (I'm really silly about stuff like that). Anyway, I loved this post from The Pool about having dinner alone. I love spending my lunch hour by myself, at the library or going or a coffee or at the shops, and it makes me want to embrace alone time a bit more.

I'm scared and sad to be moving out of our flat this month, but I'm hopefully that February brings good news and progress with our house, and I know we'll be well-looked-after by my parents! Let's see what February brings!

Charlotte x

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