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Category: Life

Happy New Year

Our Year

 

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind.

Christmas and New Year were spent as they always are, among family and friends: with Martin’s family on Christmas morning; my family in the afternoon; and with friends on New Year’s Eve.

Christmas Tree

This year though has been somewhat different to usual. Having fallen in love with a house in early December, we put our flat on the market in the week before Christmas – it’s brought stress, excitement, tension and impatience.

Lots of back and forth with our estate agent and that of the sellers, with good progress on one and not much on the other..

Martin loves that the flat is the tidiest it’s been in years, being the neat freak that he is, as we have to keep it that way for viewings..

Christmas ended slightly early as we took our tree down on the 28th because we wanted the space back so it looks bigger when people come round..

Present

It’s just felt slightly less like Christmas this year, I guess. It’s obviously a sacrifice we’re happy to make if we can manage to secure our dream house – we’ve gone into the new year knowing what we want, and are working hard to get it. I don’t know what more you could ask for from a start to the new year.

Christmas Wishes

As for new year’s resolutions, I don’t think I’ll bother this year. There are things I want to do, as always: go to the gym, look after myself more, save money, be more mindful, etc. I suppose some of those things will happen as a natural progression over the next 12 months, and others I’ll need to do in order for us to continue progressing – or at least to keep me sane!

So, we’re set up for a big year ahead.

Here’s to 2017 – to ‘Our’ year.

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My monthly exercise diary #3: When life gets in the way | March – April

I was doing fairly well at the start of March: I revelled in the number on the screen every time I signed into the gym, saying that I’d been 3 times in a 7 day period. I was getting on well with my new programme, which is a lot harder (plus some additions from me). I re-started the Couch to 5K programme again to try to ease back into running after some kind of shin splints.

 

And then life got in the way.

 

I got some bad news at work in the middle of the month – not the end-of-the-world kind, but the gut-wrenchingly disappointing kind. Things were already busy, and I knew this would drive me into the ground over the coming weeks (I was right!)

I was in a bit of a sad fog and I just couldn’t face the gym, and then the real work started and I just had so much on I told myself I’ll go if I feel like it, and if won’t wear me out for the next day – I was just so busy I couldn’t afford to be tired. But I was working such long hours (12 hour days in some cases) and the little time I had at home I was already so tired I couldn’t even imagine putting on gym clothes. So I decided not to put more pressure on myself and feel guilty; that I’d just ride out the next few weeks and then get straight back into it.

 

If there’s ever an incentive, it’s a holiday, and we’ve just booked ours! In September we’re going on a road trip from L.A. to Las Vegas, then on to Yosemite and San Francisco. So if I’m going to be in a bikini on Venice Beach and at pool parties in Vegas I’m going to need to pull my socks up!!

 

Now that the main slog of the project is out of the way, and I’m back from Venice, it’s time to get back on track.

  • I’ve decided I’d like to try to do a very brief yoga session every morning so I’m starting that tomorrow.
  • I also want to continue to try to rebuild my running, so yet again I’m restarting interval training using Couch to 5K.
  • Finally, I’m going to focus my exercise a bit more, and work on specific areas in a workout like I used to when doing BBG.

I keep some of my fitness inspiration and workout guides on my Keeping Fit Pinterest board. Take a look and feel free to follow 🙂

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Five Positive Things | April-May 2016

The last 6 weeks have gone by in a blur.

 

Work suddenly went utterly mental at the end of March, causing some serious stress, long working days / weeks (writing presentations on a Sunday, anyone?) and more dinners in the office than I’d ever wish on anyone. I think I only managed to cry once, and luckily at home, which is quite impressive considering!

So, now that I’m on the other side, I thought it would be good to focus on 5 happy things:

 

1 – Venice

The bonus at the end of it all was a trip to Venice with my Katy, my BFF and Maid of Honour. We’ve never been away together (unless you count Brighton!) so it was really nice to spend some quality time together and see somewhere new. Our Airbnb apartment was amazing and we made the most of the excellent local food and Prosecco – and Aperol Spritz of course!

#latergram #venezia #venice #cannaregio #nofilter

A post shared by Jen (@jbarrett238) on

 

2 – Booking our American road trip!

We’ve also been booking up our American road trip! Martin’s wanted to go ever since some friends were meant to get married in Las Vegas this year, which was cancelled due to them expecting a baby. After a long while of saying no (saving for a house etc), I eventually caved once I looked into how much our usual all-inclusive holiday would cost – for some reason it seems so much more expensive this year, so I decided I’d rather put the money towards an AMAZING trip rather than paying it for 10 days on a beach! So in September we’re going to LA, Disneyland, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and San Francisco. Now that I’ve been booking and researching I really can’t wait!

 

3 – Dr Faustus

I’m going to the theatre on Thursday with a friend to see Dr Faustus (starring Kit Harington, of Game of Thrones fame!) It’s meant to be a modern interpretation which isn’t particularly close to Marlowe’s original text, so I’m intrigued to see what it’s like. The reviews for Dr Faustus aren’t that great (!) but apparently Kit spends a lot of time with his chest out, so there’s a bonus…

 

4 – Sunshine!

I’m a summer baby, so I definitely get a bit of SAD. The current sunny weather is just the most awesome thing, I can’t explain how much my spirit lifts when I see the sun, and can feel its warmth on my face.

 

5 – Quality time

This past weekend (being the first since the Month of No Weekends and going to Venice, then him working overtime followed by going to Birmingham for work) it was SO lovely to finally spend some quality time with my husband. I had a baby shower to go to on Saturday, but other than that, we just relaxed, watched a serious amount of TV and went for a nice Sunday walk in High Elms, a local country park, and some lunch. Sometimes, it’s the little things 🙂

 

Relaxing Sunday morning walk with the hubby #sundays #walk #woods #bluebells #latergram

A post shared by Jen (@jbarrett238) on

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My monthly exercise diary #1: the beginning

It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the gym. I loathe it. It bores me. Even in the run up to my wedding – probably one of the best incentives ever – I really struggled to keep to a routine.

That’s not changed, a few years later. I’ve dabbled in a few different things: working out on my own, running with friends, going to classes, using exercise guides, etc. Nothing has really stuck. Recently I joined a new women-only gym, Shapers, which is based in Bromley High Street. It’s an interesting concept, based around a circuit system and regular check ups on your measurements. I’m going to put my hands up and say I’ve not been to one yet. I’ve not put the time in, so I kind of thought what’s the point? 

I need to turn that attitude around.

The exercise guide I got furthest with was Kayla Itsines’ Bikini Body Guide, or BBG, which is a 12 week programme. It is tough though – not just the exercise but also to fit in everything it asks of you in a week. I also worry that because I’m so rubbish people in the gym will judge me, even in a women’s only gym! I’d like to try again, though I missed the start of the new ‘Kayla Movement’ at the start of January, but that doesn’t matter.

 BBG 
So I’ve decided to keep a track of how I’m doing on here in the hopes it might make me feel slightly more accountable, and hopefully I will be able to turn this into an actual routine. 

So I’m starting tomorrow. Good luck to me! I’ll check back in in 4 weeks.

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How to declutter

I seem to accumulate a lot of stuff.

For a fair sized one bedroom flat we surprisingly have next to no built in storage – just one cupboard – and it all just seems to take over sometimes. This is not to say I help in any way: I’ve always been a prolific shopper, ever since I got my first part time job as a teenager. I’ve curbed this a lot in recent months though; I’ve tried to cut down and started to get rid of things we no longer need.

Flat - lots of stuff!
See all those books piled on the bookcase on the corner?! ^_^

Now that it’s the spring, that age old idea of ‘spring cleaning’ has made me decide to do an even bigger clear out over the next few weeks, so while I’m no expert (my husband will testify to that!!) I thought it might be useful to give you a low down on what I’ve learnt about downsizing your stuff.

 

Be realistic and ruthless

If there’s one thing I can tell you from personal experience, it’s this. Try to look at everything with as unemotional an eye as possible – easier said than done, I know, but ask yourself some questions, and you might find it easier:

  1. When did you last use this?
  2. When will you next use it (honestly?)
  3. Is it contributing to your quality of life?
  4. Will you miss it if it’s gone?

I didn’t do this initially and it’s taken much longer than it should have done to get this far. Try to only take a few seconds to decide on each item.

 

Test yourself

So, you’ve done the above. You probably have ‘Keep’, ‘Throw’ and ‘Maybe’ piles. Now’s the time to really test your resolve. With the ‘Keep’ and ‘Maybe’ piles, I suggest you put all of it away for a couple of weeks, and then ask yourself the questions above again. You might be surprised by the answers.

 

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

Now, what to do with the stuff you don’t want?

There are lots of options:

GIVE 

Charity – local stores will accept donations (but please drop off bags when the store is open) and some will collect from your doorstep – speak to your local branches.

Friends – Would your friends or family make use of it? Is it in good enough condition to give as a present at their next birthday or Christmas? otherwise, just hold a ‘jumble sale’ and let them help themselves.

SELL 

Boot Sale – during the summer. This can cost anything from a few quid to over £10 for a pitch – I suggest sharing with a friend unless you have lots to sell. I did two last year and was amazed at how much I was able to get rid of. Clothes sold more easily than I anticipated and I sold all of my silver jewellery in the first 5 minutes at 7am!

eBay – obviously. This has been a go to for years. However I should point out that they have changed their billing model not so long ago, meaning there are now no listing fees, but you pay a ‘final value fee’ on everything you sell (not just in certain categories like it used to be) AND you also pay the final value fee on the postage. This can easily leave you out of pocket if you’re not careful to price up correctly. Don’t forget to include your packaging costs into your postage charge too.

Preloved UK – Possibly slightly less well known, it’s also free to list on here though there are premium options which may help your stuff get sold quicker – the Premium Membership (a year’s membership is £25 but get 4 extra months free via this link using code: PREM4FREE) gets you full page ads, unlimited photos, the ability to add links and videos, among other things.

Gumtree – free to list, though there are options to upgrade ads by paying should you wish to. For me it’s lost some of it’s sparkle in recent years and I’ve found selling things elsewhere much easier.

MusicMagpie / Zapper – Similar but not the same. With MusicMagpie you can sell DVDs, CDs and games as well as electronics and mobile phones; Zapper accepts books, DVDs, CDs and games, mobiles and electronics – and Lego® (?!). You’re not going to get loads for each item but a good option if you just want to get rid.

Shpock – my new favourite. I’ve both bought and sold on here and it’s really easy. It’s all done via an app rather than online, and I love the layout. The offer system is really simple and clear and there’s a real mixture of stuff on here – their tagline is ‘the boot sale app’ – which means that almost anything might sell. As it’s free to list, anything is worth a try!

 

Repeat this process a few times a year

As I mentioned earlier I struggled to get into the swing of doing this and have found myself doing it multiple times. To be honest it’s worked out for the best in a way as it’s forced me to constantly re-evaluate. I have a big pile of things to put up for sale so I’ll be working through this in the next few weeks!

 

Do you have any tips for me?! 🙂

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2016.

So here we are at the start of another year! We saw it in with friends at their house party – a nice change from being the hosts!

 

2015 was a good one.

 

Friends and family got married and others had babies.

We celebrated 10 years together (and two years of marriage) with a day out in London, dinner at Jamie’s Fifteen and a night in a spa hotel; and a weekend in Hastings.

We celebrated 4 years of living in our lovely flat.

We visited new countries.

I upped the culture and went to museums, galleries and the theatre quite a few times – and I even went to the theatre alone to see the Oresteia (I AM OFFICIALLY AN ADULT)

We went to our first rugby match – Ireland vs. Wales at the Millennium Stadium

I saw my favourite band, Lifehouse, again!

I went to my first blogger event.

…Among other things.

 

But 2016 is set to be even bigger.

 

We just saw the Book of Mormon which is quite possibly the most hilarious musical I’ve ever seen.

Work life is taking a turn for the better, with more opportunity on the horizon.

In just the first 6 months of the year I’m already taking 4 trips – to see the uni girls in Leeds in early February; seeing my sister in Madrid in mid February; Venice with my bestie in April; and Berlin with Martin in June for our birthdays (his Christmas present to me!)

We’ll have had our cats for 5 years in February.

Two more weddings and two more babies are on their way – two uni friends are getting married, and our friends and brother-in-law are having babies!

Assuming everything works out *touches wood* we may not see our fifth anniversary in this flat. Fingers crossed that by then, we will be the proud owners of a house. I dream of stairs and gardens daily.

 

And finally…

Towards the end of the year we’ll also start trying for a baby of our own! <3

 

Here’s to a great year.

 

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On Autumn

There seems to be something about the changeover in season that has sent the blogging world into a bit of a frenzy: to be back wearing snuggly clothes, relaxing indoors with a hot drink. I’m a ‘cold’ person, basically cold most of the year, so I’ve already had my cardigans and chunky knits out for a couple of months (technically they never went away!); and we’re not made of money – relaxing indoors isn’t anything new! So to me, this is all a bit of an anti-climax.

Autumn leaves

I was born in June, so I’m a summer baby, and I start to struggle when the dark mornings come along. When the days are shorter. When everyone on the train is sniffling and coughing. When it just seems to rain with no warning – that kind of rain that seems to come at you from every direction. When every single beauty blogger recommends a berry lip, even though only about 10% of them can pull it off. When there’s no more bank holidays to look forward to until December – who the hell planned that one??

cat in window

But there ARE things I love about Autumn.

The dark colours: I’m a bit of a grunger at heart and all the deep reds, blacks and purples feel like home to me. (Mustard isn’t so bad either I guess!)

I love the run up to Christmas, even if it invariably starts in October.

I love an excuse to buy new slippers (which I did today in fact – I highly recommend the Isotoner booties range available from TKMAXX. They’re only £12.99 and seriously comfortable).

I love fireworks.

I’ll take any excuse to buy a spicy scented candle – something with cloves is always a winner.

I love when my local starts lighting the log fire (even if it is a Wetherspoons).

I like the misty mornings and the way the low sun lights up the colours in the trees.

misty morning

No, Autumn isn’t my favourite season; I’m just not wired right for it. But there’s always things to look forward to, no matter what time of year.

(Plus at least I’ve got my Lumie lamp to get me through!)

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