Tuesday, 28 February 2017

February Life Lately

February has been a busy month with lots of change, but it's been really lovely. We moved out of our flat on the 10th and into my parents' house so there's been a lot of packing, cleaning, trying to find things in boxes and tears, but we're actually really settled now (much more quickly than I expected!) and honestly, I don't even miss our flat, or living in the city, that much at all!

The best news this month has brought is that we've finally, FINALLY, had our mortgage accepted, which is a huge relief for us! It's been really touch a go for the past few months and we were worrying that we might have to start house hunting again, which would have been awful because we were so, so sure our house was "The One"! 

So February has been good. I feel like I've done a lot, but not felt too busy, which was just what I needed in a time of flux! I also like February to be out of the way because March is my favourite month (okay, except December!). Phil's birthday is the 1st and then mine is the 30th, so March always feels like a month of anticipation (although it always sucks at the start of the month to still have 4 whole weeks til my birthday!)

What I've been doing...
Obviously one of the biggest things that happened this week was moving out of our little flat! It was so stressful packing and cleaning and tidying that I didn't even get upset until I looked around to see everything was empty! I'm sad, of course, but I've been weirdly okay about it. We're back living at my parents' now while we wait for everything to get finalised with our house and it's going really well! Obviously everyone involved was a bit worried about the transition after I'd lived away from home for two years, but we're getting into new routines and it's actually really nice!


A few weeks ago we headed over to Heaton Park for Phil to run his 50th parkrun! I'm so proud of him! He wanted to go to Heaton Park because they have vests for special occasions (mile stone runs, birthdays etc.) so he wanted to wear the 50th parkrun vest! I was dreaded it because Heaton Park is hard work, but I actually had a great run, got a PB and missed my 1 mile PB by 2 seconds!
With 12 weeks to go until my next half marathon I'm back in training! I did start 2 weeks ago, but I was starting with a cold so I started again last week. So speed training is back! Right now I'm feeling a long way from full fitness (as in, sub 2 hour half marathon) but I'm hoping to get under 2 hours again next time!

It was my Uncle's 60th a few weeks ago so we had a big family meal which was lovely. I've mentioned before that I have a huge, close family so it's always lovely to see everyone.

Where I've been...
Mixing work and pleasure this month with a blogger event that we put on for work. If you don't already know, I work in marketing for Stagecoach, and last year we launched the Stagecoach Bus App, which you can use to plan your bus journey, track your bus to see exactly when it will arrive and buy and use mobile tickets. So a few weeks ago we had an event with bloggers in the North East, where they had to come to the event on the bus, using the app to plan their journey and buy their tickets. It was great fun and a huge success!
Two of our close friends are getting married in May, so a few weeks ago Phil and I attended the stag and hen dos respectively! Phil went off to Prague with the lads, and I enjoyed a lovely day of afternoon tea at Hotel Gotham.
I've written before about the importance of my university friends, and this last weekend my friend, Ellen, popped up North for a visit. Rather than going into the city, as we normally do, we went to Didsbury so I could take her to the Art of Tea, one of my favourite cafes, and we escaped the rain with some delicious tapas! We had such a lovely day of hopping from cafe to lunch to cafe catching up!

What I've been loving...

February 2nd was Time to Talk day, so I took this as another opportunity to talk about my anxiety and do my best to be as open and honest as possible to open up the conversation with anyone else who is suffering. I've also signed up to be a Time to Change ambassador, so I hope to get more involved in raising awareness of mental illness.

I talked last month about buying some £8 Primark jeans and said I would report back. Well, it's love. They've had a few washes and haven't gone baggy, BUT they bleed like all hell (as in, scratching my leg and coming back with blue nails) so make sure you wash them alone!
February contains one of the best days of the year... Galentine's Day! As you probably know, Parks and Recreation is my favourite TV show, and I am a wannabe Leslie Knope, so of course I celebrate Galentine's Day! This year my friend Riven and I went for dinner (more on our amazing food further down!) and exchanged presents. I got her my favourite Makeup Revolution contour palette, and she got me this mirror and excellent selection of socks.

I've written before about my favourite podcasts, and This American Life is my absolute favourite, but I've always been disappointed that I can't access 500+ old episodes in the Podcasts app. I found out this week, however, that there is a This American Life App where you can stream every old episode and download 5 to listen to offline at a time. Best £3 I've ever spent.

I've also been loving productive, lovely Sundays. This Sunday I got up early and made soup for the week, went for a 5 mile run, finished my coursework, wrote a blog post, made banana bread, read my book, made dinner and went to the cinema and it was glorious.

What I've been eating...
As I mentioned in this post, we finally made it to Rudy's, famed to be the best pizza in Manchester, and it was 1000000% worth the 2 and a half hour wait. Seriously. Just go. Go now actually. 
One of my favourite blogs is Cookbook a Month, where every month they review a different cookbook. This month's was Ruby Tandoh's Flavour. I didn't know much about the book, or Ruby herself (I was quite late to the Bake Off party), but realised I'd read a few of her articles in the Guardian. I found a few of her recipes and was intrigued, so I picked up her book from the library, and decided to give it a try. I knew after an initial flick through I would end up buying it! This book is amazing (review coming soon!) and after borrowing it for 2 weeks I made 10 recipes. Ruby is a brilliant writer and she comes across as absolutely awesome. I can't wait for my own copy to arrive!

I'm kind of a terrible baker and find the whole experience quite stressful, mostly because I usually agree to bake for something or someone and find myself doing it last minute the night before while simulateously cooking dinner after a long day. But a few weeks ago I agreed to bake for my boss' birthday and for once, let myself make dinner and have a break first, and it was much more of a success! I made this sticky ginger cake which even impressed me, and a batch of health berry muffins to use up some of the 14 bags (no joke) of frozen berries we had in the freezer before we moved.
I mentioned before the amazing food I had with Riven for Galentine's, and here is it. We went to Bundobust, which might actually be my new favourite place in Manchester (I'll have to update my blog post!). A blink-and-you'll-miss-it spot in Piccadilly gardens selling the most amazing vegetarian Indian street food. It was my absolute dream. And look, Jay Rayner liked it too!

What I've been watching...
Just three cinema trips this month, after managing 7 last month! We caught the Unlimited Screening of Hidden Figures which I wasn't excited for at all (probably because we'd seen the trailer at least a dozen time) but I absolutely adored. We also saw Lego Batman to cheer us up after a day of cleaning and packing and moving out of our flat, which was hilarious and brilliant. Then on Sunday we succeeded in seeing every Best Picture nominated film this year when we went to see Fences. Viola Davies is incredible.

Things I've bought...
I'm rarely an impulse buyer, but I fell in love with this M&S necklace at first sight and had paid for it before I could even add it to my budgeting list. It's beautiful and wonderful and will go with almost everything. I love it.

Before heading out to meet Ellen last weekend, as I looked outside at the torrential rain, I had the realisation that at almost 27 years old, I did not own a sensible coat. I borrowed my Mum's puffer jacket for protection and posted on Twitter about my lack of practical coat. My friend, Sarah, promptly sent me a link to this beautfiful Seasalt coat and a few days later it was on its way to me. It's gorgeous and fun and most of all, it's utterly practical. It will be perfect for our trip to the Lakes in April.
Oasis tops are my weakness, and once Spring rolls around I live in them. So as I mentioned in How I Shop Now, I decided it was a good idea to buy more, so I welcomed two more into my wardrobe this month (also pictured, my amazing Primark jeans!)

What I've been reading...
I'm mourning my commute at the moment when it comes to time to read (although I love that my Mum can drop me off at work in the morning!), but I've still managed to read more than usual for me this month.

This month I loved Eleanor Morgan's Anxiety: A Beginner's Guide which documents her struggles with anxiety. It made me feel a lot less alone, and gave me hope of being able to manage my anxiety. I really recommend it to anyone suffering, or anyone who wants to understand what it's like to worry all day long.

I also finished The Happiness Project which I've been working through slowly in the mornings. I can't decide how I felt about it! It was a pleasant read and had some nice ideas which I'll consider using in the future, but it was a bit too idealistic for me, particularly as a person for whom "happiness" is a struggle considering my mental health. Some of the ideas were far too twee (sing in the morning), some utterly ridiculous (quit your job and do something you love) but some were actually useful (I particularly liked the chapter on money). I'll probably come back to it every now and again for reference, and it was a nice easy read on quiet mornings.

I also read The Power and Oranges are not the only fruit, neither of which I particularly loved.
I mentioned before a rare impulsive buy, and actually, on reflection, I've had a few this month. Well, one of my goals this year is to be more spontaneous! I also purchased Fearne Cotton's Happy after reading about it on The Pool. This has replaced The Happiness Project as my morning or evening quiet read, and I really love it so far.

What I'm excited for...
Tomorrow is Phil's birthday so I can finally tell him where I'm taking him on his Birthday surprise trip next month! I love creating surprises for other people but I've been so excited it's been hard to keep it in!

It's also my birthday at the end of the month, and I'm always excited for it to be March for that reason!

And maybe, just maybe, we might get the keys to our house this month...

What I've written...
How to get up earlier in the morning
Change
My favourite places in Manchester
How I shop now
My new reading rules
How to study when you work full time

Things I've been trying...

I tried yoga before Christmas but couldn't get into a good routine with it and running, and took a very all-or-nothing approach with Yoga with Adriene's 30 days of yoga. This time I'm doing yoga for my brain, not for fitness, so I'm making time for it on my rest days and in the evenings when I can. Some days I only have 10 minutes, other days I have longer, but I want to find a way of incorporating it into my life every week.
I jumped on the bangwagon this month and started a bullet journal. I wanted a nice, quiet evening hobby that would help me relax at the end of the day. I don't know if I'll stick with it yet, and right now I'm keeping it very simple and using it for fun, not as much for organisation, but I'm enjoying it so far.

One of the biggest life changes this month was I finally organising my inbox. I unsubscribed from the literally hundreds of newsletters I got, and cleared out all my "unread" emails. It was weird for a few days not getting 100+ emails a day, but now it's glorious.

What other people have written...
Vix Meldrew - What I wish my friends knew
A lovely piece on mental health I can hugely relate to
Apartment number 4 -Why it's okay to forget goals and just be
I feel like this a lot at the moment. I'm always trying to do more, we as a soceity are alwayd being told we need to do more, that we're not good enough, that we should be better and always, always be self improving. Why can't we, myself included, just be?
The Pool - If you want to get fit, try channeling Eddie the Eagle
Bon Appetit - Body scrubs, feather robes and other failed attempts at self care
The Pool - How to be a good worrier

Well I'm exhausted after getting home and making Phil's cake for tomorrow. I've mentioned before that I find baking quite stressful, and cake in particular is not my strong point, but several meltdowns and a bit of cleaning up later, I've made something passable. I hope he likes it!
Hope your February has been fabulous!

Charlotte x

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