March Goals

Hi, loves! I love setting goals for myself as I find it really helps to keep me accountable and motivate me to tick off things during the day/week. I am sometimes really hard on myself over things I can’t control but I like to create happy goals that are personal and also challenging. I don’t like to set too many goals as then they feel overwhelming and unachievable, but little things that improve my happiness are always great!

March is going to be a very big month for me, because I’m leaving a job I’ve been in for six years and starting somewhere completely new. I’m equal parts terrified and excited about this, but I just generally feel very anxious and stressed out right now! I’m pretty sure that’s just the norm for me these days, haha. March also brings Matthew’s birthday, Mother’s Day and the beginning of Spring, so overall it should be a very happy month.

Practice yoga every day
Ah… yoga always comes up in these monthly goals posts doesn’t it?! Here’s the thing. I love yoga. But I also love sleeping in a little longer in the mornings and going to bed a little earlier. I love lounging in a bubble bath for an extra twenty minutes. I love reading. I love cooking meals from scratch. I love snuggling up and watching Netflix with Matt. Somehow, especially over the past six months, all of those things have come before yoga during my typical day, and I only actively make time to practice when I have *nothing* else to do! If Matt is working late or starting super early I usually force myself to practice, and even though I feel so good afterwards it’s just not been a big enough priority for me to practice the next day. I’ve just gotten used to making excuses and that needs to change, so I’m committing to practicing some form of yoga every single day. Some days may be one hour sessions and some days may be five minute stretches, but I need to push myself to fall back into a workout that I really actually do enjoy! Yoga is also amazing for an anxious mind and I know it will help me to feel more at ease over the next few months.

Have a No Spend Month for beauty products
Honestly, this should be pretty easy and it’ll probably continue into April. I don’t need any skincare products right now; my skincare routine is the most consistent it’s been for a long time and I’m so over trying hundreds of new products. I really am SO happy with my routine; it’s been pretty much the same for six months now and my skin appears to be thanking me for it. I’m stocked up on toiletries (I always buy in bulk/on half price to save money on toiletries!) and I don’t think any of my makeup is near running out. Except maybe my brow pencil… they always run out with no warning don’t they?! As I’m changing jobs I really want to be mindful with what I spend money on and how much I spend – during March and April more than ever – and buying beauty products is not a priority for me this month! Do you ever partake in No Spend months? It’s such a kick up the butt to shop your stash. Would you like me to share with you which products I re-discover this month/April? I guarantee I’ll find things I forgot I owned/loved in the next two months!

Record a Week In My Life post
I love love love reading Weekend/Week In My Life blog posts, and I miss sharing more of my ‘real’ life stuff on my blog. I am pretty sure I’m going to record this the week I start my new job (w/c 23.03) because I think that will be interesting for others to see and SO fun to look back on for me, too! I really don’t share too much on my blog that’s super personal anymore and I want to change that, but I also need to find a good balance between sharing/oversharing. I’d love to share in the format of a brief recap of my day – probably throughout the day with time stamps? Maybe? – along with photos of what I’m wearing, what we made for dinner that night, and anything else I happen to get up to in that week.

Eat vegetarian dinners at least three times per week
It’ll not be surprising to any regular readers that I flipping love eating veggie meals. Matt and I eat veggie when we can (we stared off with Meatless Monday and just expanded from there!) but I really want to be intentional with eating less meat. I’m definitely more on board with this than Matt is, but we’re working on it! I personally feel better when we eat more veggies, my skin looks better and meals without meat are much less expensive to create which is a huge bonus. Most of our veggie meals centre around pasta, pasta bakes or chillis, so I’m hoping we can branch out and try some completely new things this month. I’d love to try to create the perfect veggie omelettes – because we love breakfast for dinner – and test our cooking skills with recipes we’ve never tried before.

Do you try to be intentional with your time to set goals and make them happen? What kind of goals do you regularly set yourself? It feels so good to have things to work towards, and it really helps to keep my motivation up throughout the week! Also… today’s post is my TWO HUNDREDTH guys! What the actual heck?!

-G x

My August Goals

Hi, loves! Happy (early) August! Can you believe how quick this year is going?! It’s almost Christmas! *rushes to make candy cane hot chocolates and turn Elf on, despite faint protests from Matt* As any regular readers will know, I really love setting goals and having something to work towards, and I also quite enjoy sharing my goals on the blog from time to time. It holds me accountable in a different way, as normally I’d write my goals in the Notes app on my phone and if I didn’t achieve something I wouldn’t be too disappointed, so this puts a little fire in my belly! I try to only set five goals at a time, as I feel like it can be really overwhelming if you set more, as in my experience they then become daunting and unachievable.

Clear out Matt and I’s wardrobes (and all of my beauty drawers)
We are HOARDERS, guys. And it’s kind of a problem. We don’t buy new clothes too often, but we did buy some new bits at the start of the Summer for our holiday to Croatia and we didn’t really clear anything out at the time we made new purchases. My dream closet would be one that looks just like Shay’s (hers is amazing!) but right now I’m super grateful for what I have and I want to make it work better for me. I’ve already started my clear out and to be fair I’m almost done, I’ve just got a few organisational bits left to do to make things look a little more pretty. I know there’s several pieces on my ‘to buy’ list for the upcoming Autumn months (I’m VERY excited for A/W fashion, it’s my favourite!) and Matt will be picking up some new pieces for the colder months too! I’m not looking forward to doing my beauty drawers, they are a MESS. If anyone has any great drawer organiser recommendations please let me know! It always feels very refreshing to have a good clear out, and I’m sure we’ll feel so much better when it’s all complete. I’ve already got tons of stuff to sell on Depop which I’ve never done before, so I need to make sure I take all of those photos and send parcels out quickly too!

Treat myself to self care time
I’m making August an unofficial Self Care Month for me, because I think I just need to be a little kinder to myself. Matt and I have had a busy few months and I’m excited to unwind, enjoy the last of Summer and prepare for all of the upcoming fun that we’re going to have in Autumn! I want to make the most of the warm weather, explore new places and rest instead of being 100 miles per hour all of the time. Matt and I have planned a few fun date days and we’re hoping to check off the rest of our Summer bucket list, I really hope we do! It’s going to be a month of unwinding, running, pampering myself, practicing yoga regularly, reading more often etc and I really can’t wait for it. Matt and I are also heading down South for a few nights to visit his family at the end of the month and we’re so excited! We’re hoping to spend our days there spending time with family, relaxing, eating good food and exploring, that’s the PERFECT way to unwind, right? We also get to go on a big old road trip to get there (and back) and you all know road trips are my jam. I can’t freaking wait!

Cut our grocery spending
This is always a goal, but this month I really want to see how much we can cut back. We always buy fresh fruit and vegetables so that will never be cut out, but I think we’re going to experiment a little more with vegetarian meals (which will be much cheaper because meat and Galaxy chocolate is the largest expense of our food shops!) I’m pretty concious about our meat consumption so we try to eat veggie when we can anyway, but this month it’s going to be more intentional. We also want to make lots of Summer recipes before we move back into the colder months, I’m thinking lots of pasta salads, fish dishes and all the tacos!

Be more present
I feel like this is something I’m always working on in one way or another, and I have to keep myself in check and remind myself to live in the moment a lot. I am so excitable about upcoming plans I kinda wish away the days which is something I don’t realise I’m even doing and then I look back and feel like I missed out on things by not being as present as I could be. I’m trying to be happy with what I have and we’re Matt and I are at right now, because I am SO fortunate and grateful for everything and everyone in my life. Also, we all know quality time with Matt is my favourite thing, and this month is packed full of it so I don’t want to miss a second!

Grow my blog
I know this sounds super vague but I just really want to make my blog the best it can possibly be. I talked about this a lot in this post, but my blog grows slowly and steadily rather than super quickly – which is fine, I’m so grateful it grows at all! – I’d just really like to continue putting so much effort in and see how it can grow further. I’ve really stepped up my game with creating new content and I actively like and comment more on blogs that I love, and I’m very grateful for others who always comment on my posts.

Thank you so much for reading! Do you set goals each week or month? Is there something you’re hoping to achieve this month? I love seeing what goals others are working towards, so if you’ve written any similar posts please leave your links below!

-G x

Meal Planning: The How’s And Why’s

Hi, loves!

Meal planning is a huge part of Matt and I’s week, and it’s something we now do every week without fail. I love routine, I love organisation and I love being able to do things in a quick and effective way. Matt isn’t as fussed, but what we’re having for dinner each night is something I had always made the decisions on, because Matt is super indecisive! Now, through changing our habits and meal planning, this makes it a joint decision for both of us. I’ve mentioned meal planning many times on the blog, and been asked lots of times for recipe ideas and why we do it. I’d love to share a week’s worth of dinner recipe ideas, so that will definitely be up in the blog in the next month or so. Today I’m focusing on the how’s and why’s of meal planning for us, and asking some of the questions I see popping up over and over again. Is it actually beneficial to our lives? Should you be doing it? What does it even mean?

What is meal planning?
It’s pretty self explanatory, but meal planning is literally to plan – usually for the week ahead – the meals you (and your partner/family) will be eating. Some people do this for breakfast, lunch and dinner, however Matt and I only really focus on breakfast for Matt (I generally eat at work), dinner for both of us with leftovers for lunch the following day and healthy snacks/desserts. I’m not really a baker at all, but I made this banana bread last week before I picked Matt up from a night out with the boys and it was so good! Also, no bake desserts are great, and they’re super quick and easy when your evenings are busy.

How do you do it?
On a Sunday, Matt and I sit down for twenty minutes to talk about what we want to make the following week, and plan our shopping list(s). We look at Matt’s shifts as this has an impact on what we make; on the days he works until 9pm I make dinner ready for him coming home, so we tend to go for meals that go in the oven and can be timed perfectly (for example, cod and roasted vegetables or a good ol’ pasta bake). I make a list in the Notes app on my phone of what meal we’ll make each evening, writing underneath all of the ingredients required to make the meal. I don’t include items like sauces or spices which we use in every meal as we already have those, although if I had to re-purchase something during my shop that week then I’d write them down too. Miscellaneous items like almond milk, protein bars and bread are bought every week, so I keep a generic shopping list I buy from too. I love that I can tick off the lists as I go through my shop, and have even started writing in the order that I’d walk around the shop, that’s dedication LOL. I grocery shop twice per week, sometimes a third time if we’ve ran out of anything, and I can get round the store in fifteen minutes or less every time.

Does it save you money and/or time?
YES. As we plan ahead and have a shopping list, I literally buy to the shopping list. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a sneaky bag of Haribo or Cadbury’s buttons will find their way into the trolley – I’ve no idea how – but most of the time I stick to our list. I tend to do almost all of our grocery shopping as it just works easier that way, and I enjoy buying based on a list as it saves so much time. It also cuts out any extra deliberations in store where I ring Matt and say “is X okay for dinner tonight? What do you fancy for tomorrow?” I also have the flexibility to go to more than one supermarket when I can, as I know what I need to get and we prefer certain items from certain places. Aldi and Lidl are great for freshly baked bread, fresh fruit and vegetables, and they also have great deals on pasta, spices and yoghurts. When it comes to chicken and meat, we always buy from Asda as I feel you get more for your money there, and we buy specific branded things like rice, almond milk, frozen goodies, and sauces there too. To be honest, I generally do most of our shopping at Asda as it’s nearby work, but I should get better at buying from various stores. However if we’re ever having a cheat night and eating rubbish, we love the Taste The Difference flatbread pizzas from Sainsbury’s (with a tub of Halo Top or Alpro ice cream thrown in, obviously)!

How do you get your ideas for recipes?
This has built up over a long time of trial and error of trying out new foods, as we now have our own little (mental) portfolio of go-to meals we love. We don’t eat much red meat and it’s something we’re actively trying to cut down on, and we generally favour chicken or fish dishes if we’re not eating vegetarian. When we’re not cooking a tried and tested favourite and want to try something new, I firstly look through our three favourite cookbooks. Our go-to’s are Pinch Of Nom by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone, A Year Of Beautiful Eating by Madeleine Shaw and Gino’s Italian Coastal Escape by Gino D’Acampo. Whether we follow the exact ingredients and method, or take inspiration to create something else I can almost always find something that looks good. If nothing was to take our fancy from those cookbooks we’d then look online at BBC Good Food, Pinterest, Tesco Real Food and of course, social media.

Do you find it easy?
I really do, and I would advise anyone who is thinking about giving it a go, to just try it. It took us a long time to start cooking with fresh ingredients, and we were regulars at M&S Food Hall for their dine in for two offer (we ate those almost every night!) for our first year of being together, but now that’s definitely a treat and something we do on the nights we really have no time. We didn’t know how to cook at all prior to last Summer, so we’re self taught (well, with the help of Matt’s lovely mum). I hear people say all the time “I don’t know how to cook” but honestly you just have to give it a whirl and practice lots, it gets easier and now we love every aspect of it. After we got the methods down, it took us a little time to tweak how we do things each week, but after a little trial and error it works perfectly for us. We’ve also been eating way healthier since we took meal planning seriously, as it’s developed a new interest in creating new meals, and we’re forever trying new things. I’m very interested in eating more vegetarian meals, and Matt’s on board to try whatever I want to try too, which is great! We’re thinking of eating vegetarian only for a week, pretty much just to see if we can do it, and if we do I’ll definitely share my thoughts on it with you on the blog.

Does it work every week?
Yes, for us it really does. We look at the week ahead, so if we’re heading out for date night on Friday we know we don’t need to buy anything for that night, or if we have plans with friends on the Saturday we’ll more than likely grab something when we’re out. If Matt’s out for the evening with the boys I also take great pleasure in having a kid’s tea before I go pick him up (Quorn crispy nuggets, Strong Roots spinach bites and a whole lot of this amazing BBQ sauce, if you’re interested) and those are the kinds of food we always make sure to have in the freezer, and I replace without fail on an almost weekly basis (especially those spinach bites, we literally eat them with almost every meal HA). The best part of meal planning is that it works around your life and your schedule, and it’s very flexible as a result. You could definitely just do one shop per week but we buy so many fresh vegetables and fruit it means by the end of the week items are out of date or just not as good as they should be, so I’d rather not waste food and just go to the supermarket two or three times per week.

I hope this post was informative and helped in some way! I love seeing what people eat for dinner, and what must-have recipe they recommend to others. I can’t wait to share with you a week’s worth of dinners for Matt and I. If you’re wanting to get a start on meal planning, I’d really recommend the three cookbooks photographed/linked in this post! Do you meal plan? Do you have any extra tips that may help me or my readers?!

-G x

How To Have A Better Night’s Sleep

Happy Sunday, loves!

I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend! Yesterday Matt and I had such a fun date day. We went for brunch at the cutest cafe called Post Box in Ponteland, I had the best veggie breakfast I’ve ever had! We spent the rest of the day doing a little grocery shopping, football watching and cleaning out Matt’s wardrobe Marie Kondo style. (I’m OBSESSED with her new Netflix show! Have you watched it?!) Today Matt’s unfortunately back at work, so although we got a mini lie-in this morning, I’m home alone until 5pm! I am however hoping to declutter ALL of my skincare/makeup and maybe a few more clothes, and have dinner ready for Matt coming home… productive Sunday’s are my thing! What are you up to this weekend?

I think during the Winter months more than ever, I appreciate every single second I get to spend snuggled in bed! Matt and I have been lucky enough to squeeze in lots of early nights recently, and we have our evening routine perfected to suit us. Today I’m sharing with you a few things that have been helping Matt and I to have the best night’s sleep.

Unwind during the evening. From the minute Matt and I arrive home from work, we spend the evening relaxing and unwinding. Even if sometimes we have to take a few minutes to send that last email or complain to one another about a bad day at work, we then switch off from the work day and allow ourselves time to relax and enjoy being together. We don’t spend much time on our phones during the evening other than to reply to a few texts or post the odd photo to our Instagram story (guilty), but we really try to be fully present with each other. I am obsessed with scented candles, and Matt has finally agreed they make everything feel ten times more cosy! I love nothing more than lighting a few candles, turning on my Himalayan pink salt lamp and snuggling up with him under our huge Costco blankets (they’re hands down the best thing you can buy this Winter and they’re so inexpensive!) watching a movie.

Eat good food. One of the best feelings in the world is snuggling up in bed next to your loved one when you both have a full belly. It’s something I’ve often took for granted but I realise just how lucky I am for this to be my every day reality! Matt and I love to cook and although we have a few favourite go-to recipes, we’re currently trying new ones out and often making things up as we go along. Coming in from the cold to make a warming, filling meal after a long day is, in my opinion, the perfect way to begin the evening. One of our favourite things to make recently is a vegetable chilli, I can’t wait to share some recipes with you over the next few weeks. I’m also very into drinking hot chocolate at the moment and I love to make one before bed!

Read or listen to a podcast. I find that whenever I do either of these things I feel so calm and relaxed. Reading blogs is my favourite pastime day or night, and I’m forever playing catch up on my favourites. I love losing myself in a good book (this year I’ve challenged myself to read 20 books). I might be a little too confident. I love to read in the bath especially, and then curled up in my dressing gown post-bath. When Matt’s on a late finish (meaning he’s not home until after 9pm) I read for at least an hour, and wonder where the time has gone! I’ve also really got into podcasts over the past six months – Small Town Murder is forever my favourite – and I find they help me unwind too. It’s different to watching YouTube or Netflix, as I don’t have to concentrate as much, and I can also listen whilst doing other things, such as planning my week, changing our sheets or cleaning.

Invest in good quality pillows, duvet and bedding. I’m a sucker for a good smushy pillow and I can’t tell you how happy I am that I picked up some new ones just before Christmas, they are SO. COMFY. Matt and I are such cuddly sleepers (anyone else remembering that Friends episode where Rachel is a cuddly sleeper and Ross isn’t, well I promise we both are HAHA) that we generally snuggle in to go to sleep and after a few minutes we’re flat out! Soft, hotel-like pillows are my jam, and Matt thankfully loves them too. If you’re in the market for new ones, Dunelm have some great options for really affordable prices that you can feel in store, I’d highly recommend checking them out!

Take time for my skincare routine. Is it just me that feels SO incredibly good after spending a tad longer than usual carrying out my skincare routine? From cleansing to toning to moisturising, it just makes me feel relaxed and refreshed, and TBH, ready to snuggle up in bed! I love to use super moisturising products and oils at night time, as my skin always thanks me for it when morning rolls around. I can’t wait to share my current skincare favourites with you, my routine will be up on the blog next month!

Use pillow mist. I love the smell of essential oils, and I got a sample size of This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray in a Look Fantastic monthly subscription box at the end of 2018. I’ve used this product in the past and honestly forgot all about it, but now I quite enjoy spraying it on our pillows before we go to sleep. Matt thought it would make no difference, but we’re sleeping better than ever, and waking up so much easier after a good night’s sleep, so it must be doing something right. The smell of essential oils is so calming and relaxing, and although it’s quite an extravagant product it’s such a fun one to use – maybe you could pick it up if you have a little Christmas money left over? I’m definitely going to invest in the full size once this is gone.

Have a relaxing bath. I could happily spend half my life in the bath! Tbh, I probably do. I love nothing more than settling in with a glass filled with Diet Coke and lots of ice and letting the minutes (cough hours cough) tick by. I shared my favourite bath products back in December which you can check out here, but any products that make you feel relaxed and pampered will do just the trick. I find that if I’ve had a bad day I tend to stress my whole drive home, then the second I’m preparing my bath I can literally feel any stresses or worries easing off. This also means by the time Matt gets home from work (most days I’m home first) I’m relaxed and feeling much happier, and we’re able to enjoy our night together. Using all my favourite pamper products will almost definitely make for a better sleep too, all products from Jo Malone or Sanctuary Spa are heaven to me!

Take ten minutes for a yoga sesh. Yoga? Again? SORRY I can’t stop! I’m more into it then ever, it makes me happy, relaxed and sometimes, quite sleepy. You can spend just a few minutes or an hour winding down, it’s totally up to you. Evenings where I can’t really be bothered to take time for yoga usually end up being my favourite sessions, I always feel like a weight’s been lifted when I’m finished. There are so many yoga practices you can find on YouTube or on apps if you don’t have your own 10 minute unwinding routine. This is my favourite routine for nights I just need a little more relaxation.

Thank you so much for reading! Did you find any of these tips helpful? What do you do to ensure you have a good nights sleep? I can’t wait for Matt to come home tonight so we can fall asle-zzzzzzz

-G x