Feelin’ It Friday

Hi, loves! Happy Friday to you all 🙂 I am so freaking happy it’s the weekend and I’m determined to enjoy every. single. second. Does anyone else feel like they blink and the weekend just disappears? I’m not to let that happen this time. During this week I’ve kinda been running on empty; literally every morning when Matt and I’s alarm goes off we both have felt as though we’ve just closed our eyes to fall asleep. I think it’s probably just a combination of late nights watching The Office and busy weeks at work, bring on the weekend! Also I just have to say… I’ll probably definitely be talking about this in lots more detail next week but BONFIRE SPICE HOT CHOCOLATES ARE BACK AT COSTA. Me and the girls at work have made a Costa run a priority during our lunch break today and I’ve already got my re-usable mug waiting by the door 🙂 I’m SO EXCITED!!!

What I’m loving:
I’ve been having lots more baths over the past few weeks, and I’m really really enjoying them! Matt’s had more late shifts at work than usual which means he’s not home until around 9.30pm, so I’ve been spending at least an hour in the bath most nights before he gets home, reading my book and treating myself to various pamper treatments. As it starts to get colder my arthritis gets worse (it’s unfortunately just a fact of life) so I will be pretty much living in hot baths for the foreseeable. Bliss. There’s just a few of the products I’m loving right now in the photo above, but I’d love to share my favourite pamper products with you if that’s something you’d like to see? Spoiler: this shampoo and conditioner is brand new to me and I’m already LOVING them both so much!

What I’m slightly jealous about:
My brother is in Canada right now! Matt and I were feeling a little bitter saying goodbye to him because we want to visit Canada so bad. I mean that in a jokey way because of course we want him to have a great time, we just also wanted to hop in his suitcase. He’s spending the week in Toronto and also visited Niagara Falls, which is super high on Matt and I’s travel bucket list! He was sending me photos whilst he was there (which you may have seen on my Instagram stories) and I so badly wish we were there too!

What I’m buying:
I have started officially shopping for Fall! (I know. I’m English, but Fall sounds SO MUCH BETTER than Autumn, right? My friend Jessy agrees which is enough for me… we’re going to make Fall happen this year. Fall.) Topshop had 25% off last Sunday (!!) so I ordered this mustard sweater, the most perfect black polka dot satin blouse and a gorgeous grey, cream and blush colourblock sweater, I’m so excited for them to arrive (hopefully today)! I also ordered this beautiful checked blazer from H&M on my lunch break during the week and although the shipping has been delayed I am SO excited for it to arrive. Prepare to see it featured lots on the blog, I really can’t wait to create more fashion related content this season. I’ve been looking for a pair of riding boots and had very little luck so far, but I LOVE how they look so I really hope I can find some soon. I’m trying to shop intentionally, so I’m buying staple pieces that will not only last me through this A/W season, but many years to come.

What I’m cooking:
Again, I didn’t take photos of our meals throughout the week because we’ve been making our old faithfuls due to Matt’s shifts! Tuna pasta bakes, bolognese and chicken fajitas… nothing groundbreaking, therefore I didn’t want to bore you with it all. But I really need to share this CrockPot dinner with you because it’s one of our FAVOURITES and a dish we’ll be making pretty much every week this Autumn/Winter. Side note: we are already big fans of a strawberry and lime cider, but oh my gosh we tried this peach and apricot cider this weekend and it is so good. You need to try it ASAP! We totally made up the recipe way back in February when I bought the CrockPot for Matt (#adulting) so we have tweaked it a little here and there since, but now it is perfect for us. You really need to try it, CrockPot meals are THE BEST for long days when you’re at work as you literally throw it all in and when you come home dinner is ready for you!

Ingredient list:
500g x diced chicken
3 x peppers
20 x cherry tomatoes (approx)

1 x large onion 
5 x celery stalks (approx)
1 x jar of Chicken Tonight Spanish Chicken sauce
salt, pepper and seasoning to taste

Method:
Dice all your veggies as large or small as you like them; add to CrockPot. Cut chicken into small pieces; add to CrockPot. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, any seasoning of your choice (we like this fajita seasoning) then pour sauce over the top. Stir well, then cook on low for 8+ hours, or medium for 4-6 hours. If one of us is at home when this is cooking we stir every 1-2 hours, but it’s not required. We eat with rice or pasta depending on what we want that day. This is enough for four large servings, and it also refrigerates or freezes if required.

What I’m excited about:
Strictly Come Dancing is back this weekend, and I CAN’T WAIT!!! I love love love Strictly, and much to Matt’s disappointment we watch every weekend, usually with his mum because she also loves it. I feel like it’s the beginning of the build up to Christmas (yep, I said the C word!) and it just makes me look forward to cosy nights in the house when it’s super dark and cold out. I already can’t wait for snuggly nights in the house with the Christmas lights twinkling in the background, how perfect! Also, Chris Ramsey is a contestant this year and I have everything crossed for him to do really well, and also Saffron Barker!

What app I’m loving right now:
So I’m pretty sure I’m WAY behind everybody else, but I just found out about the Tezza app and I am obsessed with it. I edited all of the photos for this post (and probably every post for the foreseeable) with the app, and I’m so happy with how they look! I also edited two photos from our Stamford trip to put up on my Instagram grid this morning (plug plug, check it out) and I am FINALLY going to have an Instagram theme. It’s my time. #blogger #notreallybutI’mtrying

What I’m burning:
I’ve officially broken out the pumpkin candles and I DON’T CARE. I mean, it’s September. So it’s justified. Right?! Matt is actually on board too, they just smell like ~cosiness~ and make us very happy. We’ve been loving the one pictured from Homesense (sorry I can’t find it online but there were TONS in store)! Side note: I wish we had Bath & Body Works here, it’s literally so expensive to get them in the UK. Homesense thankfully have the best pumpkin scented stock around, and I’m sure I’ll pick up a few more over the coming weeks.

What I’m binge watching:
So Matt and I are still watching The Office (we’re onto season three and are pretty much obsessed with it) – I’m still so confused how it took us this long to watch it! We genuinely look forward to snuggling in to watch an episode or two in bed each night. We’ve also been catching up on Peaky Blinders – the new season is already SO GOOD, watching all of the Stacey Dooley documentaries and until Mattgets home, most nights I’ve been binge watching an old favourite show, Chesapeake Shores. I watched seasons one and two a while back, and totally forgot about it. But, I seen on Netflix they’d released new episodes and now I am obsessed with it again! I want to pack up everything Matt and I own and book one way flights for us to Chesapeake Qualicum Beach/Parksville in British Columbia. Hah, Chesapeake is a fictional town but the locations it’s filmed in are real and they’re seriously the most picture perfect places. I love love love the characters too, it’s super cheesy and kinda Hallmark-movie-esque, but it’s great binge-watching TV.

What I’m up to this weekend:
We have such a fun weekend planned, and I’m really looking forward to it! Tonight Matt and I are going to watch the rugby; England are playing Italy and we are SO excited. They’re playing at St James’ Park so it will be super weird to be there for something that’s not football! Matt’s cousins and their partners are visiting this weekend from down South, so we’re spending tomorrow with them and his parents, and we’re all heading for dinner at one of Matt and I’s favourite restaurants in the evening. On Sunday, Matt’s cousin Adam is running in the Great North Run so we’re going to cheer him on; GNR day is one of Matt and I’s favourite days of the year because the atmosphere is amazing! I’m so excited 🙂 I’m also recording a Weekend In My Life post which I’ve had lots of requests about, so you’ll get to see everything from our weekend!

ICYMI: this week’s posts:
Sunday – My Morning Routine
Wednesday – Travel Diaries: Stamford

I’m so happy I was able to get this post up for you this morning, like I said in last week’s post September is SUPER busy for us! (So busy I actually wrote most of this last night when Matt was out at a work party! By the time he got home I was ready to snuggle in and watch The Office – obviously – and I just needed to finish up and edit this morning). I am really trying hard to be consistent with my schedule and I am officially all set for the next week with pre-written posts, YAY. Right now Matt is happily snoozing next to me as he’s off today, but I really need to jump up and get ready for work. I’ll see you on Sunday for a post about CHRISTMAS! Yes, really! Have a wonderful weekend my friends!

-G x

Blogging Whilst Having A Full Time Job: How I Make It Work

Hi, loves!

Blogging is without a doubt my favourite hobby assuming that napping with my boyfriend is not considered a hobby but it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with my schedule when I work a full time job in the real world, that comes with it’s own problems and stresses. As lots of you will already know, I have a 9am to 5pm job in Accounts and Purchasing in the real world. I work Monday to Friday, so thankfully I have all of my evenings and weekends free which gives me lots of spare time. I always make sure to prioritise time with Matt, and our friends and family first, as well as allowing myself as much ‘me time’ as I need to keep my mental health feeling good. My blogging then slots in behind that, and I always try so hard to create good quality content that I’m proud of.

I started writing my blog in June 2017, after being a dedicated reader of so many blogs for years. I always thought it was something I wouldn’t be good at doing; I lacked the confidence to create one, and I had no idea where to start with the technical side of things either. I’ve talked about my feelings on this subject a little in this post, but I am SO glad I finally took the leap and created my little corner of the internet, after lots of encouragement from Matt. He’s an absolute gem and I’m forever grateful for all of his support, I love him so much! I’ve learned such a huge array of things already about the blogging world, and I’m still learning every day. My blog is my pride and joy, it’s literally like a little baby I want to look after and feed with all of the good stuff, and it feels so good to do something that’s just for me, but also benefits other people. To be honest, even if nobody read my blog I’d still write, it brings me so much joy and a sense of calm that I didn’t know I needed.

I’ve spoken many times on my blog, in various posts, about the fact that Matt and I’s schedules vary so much – there’s a little more background in this post – due to his varying shifts at work. Matt’s hours fluctuate each week, as do his days off, so we always make sure to make the most of time together, and make that our first priority. As a result, my blogging time to brainstorm ideas, write, edit, take photographs etc varies day by day, week by week. At least twice per week Matt starts work early, which means he’s getting up at 6am. I like to get up for the day with him and make his breakfast then when he leaves for work I will work on my blog, and try to squeeze in a yoga practice, before getting ready for the day. He works until late a few times per week, so again my main focus on those evenings is to work on my blog for X amount of time before he gets home, if I don’t have other plans or errands to run. Weekends also vary a lot, although recently we’ve been super lucky and he’s had lots of days off with me! Where possible, I take at least four hours during his work day when I’m at home to work on my blog, and get things pre-planned for the coming week(s). These big chunks of time come in so handy because I can get so much done! I generally tend to just take any spare time I have to create content, and although I don’t have the same daily schedule it seems to work well, and I’m able to run my blog around my life, rather than run my life around my blog.

If we have a few busy weeks in a row it makes it so much harder to ‘fit’ blogging in around the rest of my life, and that’s when I feel stressed out with keeping my hobby going to the high standards I’ve set myself. It sometimes can get a little overwhelming and there have been times I’ve put up a post because it was scheduled for that specific day, even though I haven’t been 100% happy with it. That is something I really don’t want to do again as I feel that’s an unfair reflection of my blog, and it makes me feel a bit rubbish. I appreciate that I’m able to write and edit on my phone, so sometimes I take a little time out of my work day, during my lunch break, to do so. I generally prefer to write on my laptop (or Matt’s) at home though, so I only use my phone to write/edit when I’m feeling a little behind. From my very first post I set myself a blogging schedule – which has since slightly changed due to realising the ‘peak’ times people read posts – but I always stick to it, and post twice per week. I like having continuity in my posts as that’s something I appreciate from my favourite bloggers.

I always write my posts in advance, and I usually have at least five to six posts pre-written, that are then edited a few days before going live. I plan ahead by months sometimes, which sounds a little crazy but I generally have lots of ideas at one time, so I like to plan them in as and when I think of them. I’m so Type A, LOL. I used to include a paragraph at the start of each post about what I’d been up to that week or weekend; any restaurants Matt and I had been to, what we’re watching on TV etc, but that’s something I’ve since stopped doing as I felt it was getting repetitive and took away from the topic(s) in my posts unnecessarily. Sometimes I see that a similar post to what I’ve written has been posted by someone else a little earlier than mine is planned, and I always worry that it looks as though I’m stealing their ideas, although I promise my ideas are all my own! I’m influenced by lots other bloggers – both big and small – in many ways, but I would never copy somebody else’s work or thoughts.

The biggest ‘struggle’ I have when it comes to my blogging schedule is taking photos to go with my pre-written posts. During the Winter months when it was dark before I went to work, and dark when I came home, I would try to take as many photographs as possible during the three hour window it was light every two weeks, and then end up stressed if I had other plans or it wasn’t bright enough outside anyway. I try to take lots of photographs at one time now, so I can edit and upload them together, and this alleviates a little of the stress of always having to take new photos. As I mentioned above, I feel like a lot of the struggles I feel regarding my blog are because I have set myself such high standards, but realistically if a post went up a day later, or didn’t have ‘enough’ photos, nobody would notice (or care) anyways.

I am very happy with, and proud of, my blog (I love my re-design that I did in March – I even had to write code, guys!) but I can’t help sometimes feeling discouraged when I inevitably compare myself to other bloggers. Blogging is not something that brings home the bacon for me, and although I have no idea what will happen in the future, it’s something that right now I love to do regardless, and I enjoy every aspect even with the stress I sometimes feel. That being said, now and then I feel like my blog isn’t good enough, and I can be really hard on myself about that. Sometimes when I read other bloggers’ paid or sponsored posts, seeing how much they are given by brands (those new CMA and ASA rules made this abundantly clear) and how much engagement they get on other platforms, can sometimes really get to me. Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard blogging can be first hand, and I know that most bloggers work so hard and are extremely deserving of their success, it just sometimes worries me that I won’t ever get *there*, wherever there is. These worries are thankfully few and far between, and it’s normal to sometimes doubt yourself, right? It’s a little bit hard to admit that I can feel that way from time to time, and I know some people wouldn’t share that.

I think blogging often seems like sunshine and rainbows to the outside world, but it’s important to be realistic and remember that there are deadlines (albeit, set by myself), a sense of stability and continuity in my posts, and a constant need to be creative. I’m not the most creative person in the world – you should see my art projects as a child, wow! – but when it comes to writing, that’s my thing. I love sharing parts of my life, whether it’s what Matt and I have been up to, products I enjoy using or just my general thoughts and feelings on a subject, and again that’s something I really appreciate in other bloggers’ posts. I also feel the same about YouTube; it’s the boring, at-home-and-running-errands vlogs that interest me the most, not the wow-look-at-this-super-amazing-trip vlogs, although they can be a guilty pleasure from time to time. (Especially Disney World vlogs!) I’ve heard from several people, some of which I know personally and some I do not, that they love seeing a little sneak peek into my everyday life, and I recognise that I’m so blessed to have a platform to share that. I think I just need to stay in my own lane, remember that I’m being true to myself no matter what, and above all continue to put so much time, love and energy into my blog.

If you’re reading this post and hoping to start a blog, or maybe you already have a blog and struggle with finding time to create the content you so badly want to, don’t worry. Look at your schedule, carve time out where it’s possible and never give up. It’s going to be difficult now and then, but you’ll never get anywhere without lots of hard work and perseverance, and that’s true for all things in life. There may be various stressful situations occasionally, but you must put yourself and your mental health first! Make sure to take time out when you need it, and if it means skipping an upload day or pushing it back, I promise your readers will understand. That’s advice I need to take for myself, too.

Thank you so much for reading! I say it in every post but it truly means the world to me; I appreciate every view, comment and like more than you know. Do you feel any of the struggles or stress I’ve mentioned in this post, as you juggle writing your blog with working full time? Do you have any advice or tips that may help me or other bloggers? Please leave them in the comments below!

-G x