The Blog Tag- January Edition

Today I am going to do something which I have not done for a long period of time. That is a tag these used to something bloggers would do so much, recently this is something which seems to have changed. However, the lovely Lisa tagged me in the blog tag. Which is something which she has created. Basically, it is for you to get to know me a little bit better and also talk about topical thing each month. Seen as it is January the theme this month is the brand new year and what we want to achieve.

Happy new year! How did you welcome the year in?

We had a homemade Chinese and watch a bit of telly. I really wanted to go to bed around 10pm after the last leg. I managed to stay up to watch the fireworks which I was disappointed with and headed to bed around 12.20 when Jess woke up. She is scared of fireworks and people around us were letting them off.

Did you make any new years resolutions? Share them!

I actually instead set goals instead of resolutions and I am doing well at achieving the ones I set for January you can read them here. (Shameless plug).

Are you feeling motivated now the new year has been and gone?

I am I love a fresh start and a new diary to fill up. I love been able to look back at all the things which I have achieved this year. So January to me is one of those months filled with motivation. Even this year if I am solo parenting for the majority of it. I guess it does mean I can spend more time on my blog.

Name one thing you want to smash this year in terms of blog goals?

I really want to add 500 to every social media platform this year. I do have another one as well it is to smash pinterestThis that it may be a struggle to do it but I am sure if I engage with others and keep up the hard work it might come off. I am hopefully going to Blogon this May as well so this will be a great chance to network with fellow bloggers.

What do you want to achieve in every day life?

I actually want to make sure that I am happier this year there were period of last year which were not the greatest for me. I am mindful of this and I want to take more time for myself less time spent on Instagram and more time reading and going for walks things that are going to boost my mental health state.

What are you not looking forward to this year?

I do not think there is anything that I am not looking forward to. So I am going to say the one which most people will guess and that is solo parenting for long periods. I know it is part and parcel of military family live but it is annoying when plans and everything change at the drop of a hat. I am unsure how much solo parenting I have this year to come as well so I can not prepare for it.

Share with us some of your inspirations. They could be bloggers/influencers, books or even just quotes.

It is actually a quote which is on my office wall from Captain America and it is “It does not matter who hurt you or broke you down what matters is who made you smile again”.

What is your go to working music or background noise?

Usually it is a wide mix of music which I can sing to. For some reason I have found that I am way more productive if I can be singing my head off that if I am working in silence. This is only when I am doing house work or blogging though. I used to have to work in silence when at uni.

Talking about positivity what is one thing you will change for positive thinking this year?

I want to focus on the positives of my life this year rather than focusing on something which is negative. I have so many things which I should be happy about I need to start seeing this and focusing on this. It is a lot harder than it actually sounds.

Share a positive thing that happened today.

I managed to go to the gym and do things which I have not been able to do before. I can see progress already and this is keeping me motivated to go back which is always a bonus.

If you do this tag leave the link below I am for sure going to check it out.

Charlotte xxx

Meal Inspiration Monday- Special Chow Mein

This time of year many people are trying to cut down on the amount of takeaway which they consume. Usually, there are a couple of reasons why this may be the case it is because they are either trying to save money after a expensive period of time. Or the other reason is that they are trying to eat a little bit healthier. If I told you I had a recipe which would save you money on your regular special chow mein, it is healthier and still packed with as much flavour would you believe me.

Special chow mein was part of the homemade Chinese which we had on new years eve. Since then I have vowed if it is possible that I would make this every time instead of ordering a takeaway. I found that it was not flooded with water or sauce like they can be when you order them from the takeaway. I am going to share with you the recipe which I used to create this special chow mein dish.

Ingredients – Serves 4

100g dried medium egg noodles

1 1/2 tsp sunflower oil

1 medium red onion

2 peppers

2 medium thinly sliced carrots

2 tsp cornflour

1 tbsp light soft brown sugar

3 tbsp dark soy sauce

2 tbsp rice wine (mirin)

100ml cold water

150g cooked and peeled prawns

75g frozen peas

20g chunk fresh root ginger

3 garlic cloves thinly sliced

100g bean sprouts

Utensils

Medium saucepans, wok, sieve and wood spoon.

Method

  1. Half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to the boil add the noodles for 3 minutes or until tender. Once this has been done drain in a sieve under running water until cold and toss with 1/2 teaspoon of sunflower oil. Then set aside until later.
  2. Heat the remaining oil in a large wok. Fry the chicken and the onion over high heat for 2-3 minutes or until they lightly brown.
  3. Add the pepper and carrots and fry for a further 2 minutes more.
  4. While this is frying mix the cornflour and sugar together in a bowl, gradually stir in the soy sauce, mirin and water and put to one side.
  5. Add the cooked noodles, prawns, peas, ginger and garlic to the pan. Add some grinds of black pepper and stir-fry together for 2-3 minutes. Or until the noodles, prawns and peas are hot.
  6. Give the soy mixture a good stir and pour into the pan. Add the bean sprouts and toss everything together for 1-2 minutes or until everything is pipping hot.

As you can see this is a very easy meal to make and take you less time to cook than it would for the Chinese you order from to deliver. I found that it was so full of flavour and a meal which for sure will be on our radar to make again it was that tasty.

Have you every made special chow mein or is it a dish you order from the Chinese.

Charlotte xxx

Fitbit Alta HR Review

I know that it January and this is a month which a lot of people start to change their lives. Some manage to make it long term and see huge benefits others go back to their old ways. I have been motivated to go back to the gym after having a membership for 3 months. I have also dug out my Fitbit Alta HR which is something which I neglected for the past few months.

It became neglected it because I was sick of it moaning at me for not doing enough steps. I did not care if I was doing the recommended 10,000 steps a day because I was busy. Even though I was unhappy with how I looked I was focusing on eating better. I used my Fitbit constantly from around April to September when we moved house.

If you do not know what a Fitbit is it is an activity tracker it does not matter on your activity level. It adds everything you do up from walking around the house to running on a treadmill at the gym. If you are anything like me you like knowing how many steps you have done. I really at the moment hate it if I do not hit my 10k steps. I have been averaging around 15k a day. My phone tracks steps however, there will be times where I am not carrying it. So it makes it look like I have not done that much exercise. I also like to know how much I have done and find my phone not that accurate.

This is not a problem which I have with my fitbit because it is always strapped to my wrist. So if I go somewhere it comes with me too and can track my steps. I have noticed because of the fact that it is so small I sometimes forget that it is on. It is a very sleek piece of kit almost smaller than having a watch. It does have a build in clock which also removes the need to have a watch on as well.

You can also see how many calories you have burnt off that day which coild be very useful. I know you can use apps like myfitness pal to see how much food you have consumed and this would be an indicator if you are doing enough exercise to burn the calories you have had. Calorie counting is not something which I am actively doing however, I am enjoying seeing how many I have burnt. It also sometimes motivated me into having another piece of chocolate if I have worked hard enough that day.

Due to me having Fitbit Alta HR it does mean that it is always checking my heart rate. This is something which I find amazing looking at how it changes depending on what I am doing. Of course, this may not interest that many people and it may only me because of my sports science background. I love to be able to see my heart rate when I am out on one of my fitness walks because then it means that I can see if I am working hard enough. If this is something which would not really interest you then you would be better with a normal fitbit alta which are slightly cheaper.

I find the feature which I love the most apart from been able to see how many steps I have done. And comparing it to previous days when I think I have done the same amount of activity. Is the sleep tracker this is something which I love because I like to see if I actually had a good sleep when I think it was poor. It shows you the amount of time which you have spent in different stages of sleep. Sometimes it will even tell you that you have been awake and this is something which you can not remember. Another part for me which I enjoy is looking when I actually fell asleep compared to when I think I did.

I have never found the battery life to be an issue for me personally. I find that it lasts around a week with a full charge. Usually, what I will do is make sure that one evening a week I do not sleep with it and allow it to charge over night. Of course, if you do not want to lose out on a night of tracked sleep you can always charge in short burst when have time during the week.

The only problem which I have had in the 10 months of using my fitbit is the strap has broken. It has come away from the actually unit this is something which you can keep reconnecting. However, if you actually contact Fitbit themselves they will send you a replacement strap which is a huge bonus. I did not want to have to fork out for a new strap after having mine for less than a year. It also arrived free of charge and pretty fast which I also call a bonus.

Personally, the Fitbit Alta HR is a piece of technology which I would recommend. More so if you are looking at becoming a little bit more healthy in 2019. It helps motivate me because sometimes when I am in the zone for too long I will not move for hours and this reminds me to move. I have set it to remind me between 8-8 to move 250 steps an hour.

Currrently Argos, have the fitbit alta HR on offer for £79.99 which is cheaper than I think even I paid for mine. I would recommend taking up this offer if you are thinking about getting a fitbit because personally I do not think they will come any cheaper for a while.

Do you have a fitbit if so are you in love with yours?

Charlotte xxx

Meal Plan 11th January #2

Today I am back with another meal plan of what we have been having this week. This week is the last which I am doing for two people as Joe is going away with work. for a month. Don’t worry I will be sharing my meal plans as they keep me more organised. This week we have been using a lot of meat which we had already in the freezer. So here are the meals which we are having.

Monday- Veggie Pizza, we have have some mushrooms which really need using up. Combined with the fact that we have some grated cheese, peppers and onions. This means that they are not going to go to waste which is a huge bonus. We purchase two large pizza bases which I think are 10″ for £1.10 in Home Bargains. This is a fraction of the price they are in Asda I think we save around 70p each time. We also had the pizza sauce in the cupboard so this was a very cheap meal for us.

Tuesday- BBQ Cajun Pork Steaks, Jacket Potato and Veg. This is a recipe which I found on Pinterest if you do not follow me I share a lot of recipes over there. I had picked up some pork steaks when they had been reduced in Tesco. I plan on taking these out of the freezer covering them in BBQ and cajun powder. This sounds a simple but really tasty meal to bulk it out I going to add some Jacket Potatoes which we have in. Of course, I need my veg and I am going to stick some on the side.

Wednesday- Beef Tacos, again this is a meal we are having because the beef from new years day is out of date today. We only cooked half and saved the rest but we have no room to freeze it. Instead of having another roast I decided to see what I could find on Pinterest. I found one using the slow cooker meaning I barely have to do anything. I even had all the spices which I needed in at home . If this is nice it is going to be a meal which I can make over and over again.

Thursday- Veg Curry, as you may remember I am trying to do a couple of veggie meals a week. This week we have decided that we are going to try a veg curry, curry something which I adore. I think that this is a meal which I have never had without meat. I can only assume if you do not end up using meat it can only veg. We are going to have this with rice and I presume it is going to be a pretty filling meal all of our veggie meals have been in the past.

Friday- Garlic Kiev, Jacket Potato and Spagetthi Hoops . This is a meal which I have had from hello fresh before. I like it because you can add as much garlic as you want. I usually find that the shop bought ones can usually be a bit dry which is horrible. By using a recipe and making my own I do not have this problem. I am going to serve this jacket potato because I love them so much. I have added some spaghetti hoops to this meal as well as we had some in and I have not had them in the longest time

Saturday- Lasagne and Garlic Bread. This is a meal which I have already cooked and have in the freezer ready to take out. I have done this so that we have something quick and easy when we get back from a day out. I purchased a garlic bread which we are going to share. The lasagne was made it using a recipe which I found online which I am going to share with you one Monday. This is a meal which Jess is will eat it all because she is obsessed with pasta.

Sunday- Chicken Chorizo and Red Pepper Pasta Bake. Again with it been a Sunday it means that Jess is going to be home for food and something she loves is pasta. I had some Chorizo left over from something which I made a couple of weeks ago so I thought why not stick it all together and make a pasta bake. I know this means that we are going to be having pasta two nights in a row but it is completely a different kind of pasta. This meal only cost me the soft cheese because I had everything else it.

Overall this week with shopping it has been a pretty easy week. We have used a lot which has been in which is one of the reasons the shopping came to under £20.

This post is linked up with the lovely Katy. If you do a weekly meal plan why not get involved with the linky for sure it is fun.

What have you been having this week?

Charlotte xxxx

10 Ways to Save Money

January is a month where people look to save money because of overspending at Christmas. It is always a good time to look at the finances meaning you have more money for luxuries. For us we like to save money in order to be able to treat ourselves to luxuries. For example, this year we want to go on a couple of weekends away and create amazing memories.

Check Phone Contracts

For me this something which I have done recently my phone contract was coming to the end. Brand loyalty is something which has gone now there is no such thing. I had a phone contract for a fair amount of years with Vodafone. When it came to upgrading I shopped around a little bit. I found a newer version of Iphone with more data for cheaper than I was paying. I changed the contract and saved about £50 a year. Due to now bee with Sky, it means my data rolls over as well. So I effectively have a piggy bank which stores my data I have not used. When it becomes so full I can reduce my contract to one with fewer data and use that. This is allowed will in my contract I can increase the data amount back again when I need. This would be great if I need to save even more money. I know this is something Joe is looking at doing when his contract comes to an end.

Trade in Old Devices

This may sound like a really simple one but it can be so effective. When you get a new device which is an upgrade why not trade in your old version. I know I am terrible when I get a new phone I do not want the old one. I recently found 2 of my old mobile phones and have traded them in with CEX and a Webuymobiles. This is money which I would have never had so can go straight into the savings. I know this time of year is when a lot of people get new devices. So why not make some space and some pennies from you old ones.

Unsubscribe From Company Emails

They will only send you the latest offers which will tempt you on to the site. Which more times than not will end up in you spending money. Usually, this is on things which you do not want or need. I have done this to a number of companies over the festive period. I must say I do not miss receiving as many emails. Also I have gained the time I would have spent browising their site and this has made me more productive.

Don’t take your bank card shopping

This is one which I really need to start doing because I can spend money on impluse purchase. If you only have cash on you it does mean that you can not go over the budget. This would be handy in stores like home bargains and Aldi where it is easy to spend money because their so cheap. I have seen people take the money out of their account split it into different wallets depending what the money is for. Then at the end of the month, anything left over is savings. Going out without my bank card and no cash is something I have done a lot if I am only going somewhere like the gym and should not need money.

Sell unwanted items

Selling unwanted items has never been more simple since the introduction of Facebook Marketplace. All you have to do is take a quick snap and upload it with a quick description and the amount you want for the item. I must admit this is something we use a lot and have sold a wide array of items from baby items to TV’s to kitchen worktops. People out there will want you things and even come and collect it from you house there is no hassle of having to post the item out. If you do not want to use that of course, there is always eBay which is somewhere which I use a lot to sell some of Jess’ old clothing. There have been months where I have made £100+ from selling unwanted things.

Use eBay to purchase items

You can find some great bargains on eBay too be honest people do sell brand new items. The can be unwanted items or for some reason they have ended up with multiple of the item. Or a range of different reasons Converse are something which I usually pick up from eBay for around 50% off they may be worn a couple of times only. I also purchase a range of different things for Jess on there including fancy dress for events such as World Book Day and Halloween. So many bargains can be found on eBay and it is one way of stopping things been thrown away into landfill.

Meal Plan

Meal planning is something which I have started doing more and more. I am seeing the benefits of it because it does not mean that we are walking around the supermarkets just picking up what we fancy. Instead I know what I need and also it makes me more aware of what I have in my fridge and freezer. Sometimes I will purchase meat when it is reduced in the supermarkets freeze it and then use it in a meal in the coming weeks. I have noticed we have less food waste since we have been doing this as well which is always a bonus. If you want to see some of the meals which we have been consuming check out my meal plans.

Use Cashback Sites

This is something which I spoke about in my post about how to save money online. I know this is something which a lot of people do either using Quidco or Topcashback. Last year I managed to get £100 back this is handy when you are feeling the pinch of January after Christmas. Already I have money in my account this year because it can take a while to get it that ‘s the only downside. This is money back on purchases which you would have made anyway which is always a bonus. I have had cashback on a wide range of things including holidays and presents.

Check renewal prices

This is something which I always do I have dates in my phone of when things are due. Sometimes I know it is a pain but it can save you some money like last year I saved £20 on our breakdown cover as a result of one phone call. We had our letter through which stated that it was going to rise by £20. When I looked on the same companies site I could get it for the same price I had the year before. One phone call later and I had it back at that price the reason they said it has gone up is because they had a high volume of call out that year. Even though I had not had a call out it just goes to show that checking the renewal prices can pay.

Do you need that subscription?

Recently I cancelled my Amazon Prime membership the reason is because we do not need to in the same house. We can share which means that we are saving £79 a year which is a huge bonus. I have got rid of box sets which I had for free for a few months because it was not getting used at all this meant we would be saving £5 a month. I feel like we may be the only ones who do not have Netflix but I would rather spend my money on something I am going to use than something which is going to be effectively wasted. Instead, I have sky sports which I use a lot more than I would Netflix.

What money saving tips do you have?

Charlotte xxx

Meal Inspiration Monday- Pork Thai Rice Bowl

Pork Thai Rice Bowl

Welcome to the first meal inspiration Monday of the year. Today I am going to share a quick and easy recipe which we had towards the end of last year. This is a recipe which I came across when I was still subscribed to Hello Fresh. For sure this is going to be one which I am going to do again because it is one which I found to be full of flavour. This for sure is one which you could make after work because it doesn’t take too long too prepare or cook.

Ingredients- Serves 2

150g Balsmati Rice

2 Garlic Cloves

2 Spring Onions

300g Pork Mince

30ml Soy Sauce

1 Shallot

1/4 Red Chilli

250g Mangetout

60ml Ketjap Manis

300ml Water

Utensils- Lid, Saucepan, Chopping Board, Grater, Knife. Frying Pan, Plate Slotted Spoon.

Method

  1. Boil 300ml water in a large saucepan with a pinch of salt on a high heat. When boiling, add the rice, lower the heat to medium and pop on a lid. Cook for 10 mins, then remove from the heat and set aside leave the lid on.
  2. Chop the shallot into small pieces. Grate the garlic while deseeding the chilli and finely chop you can add as much as you can handle. Chop the spring onion thinly.
  3. Add a splash of oil to the pan once hot add the mongetout and stir-fry until tender which is around 3 minutes. Once complete transfer onto a plate.
  4. Once this is complete add pork mince and fry until browned around 6-8 minutes. You can break the pork up with a wooden spoon in order to make sure it is cooked. When the pork is cooked, add the shallot, garlic, spring onion and as much chilli as you dare. Cook until the veg is soft for another 2-3 mins.
  5. Once this is completed return the mangetout to the pan. Add the ketjap manis and soy sauce and stir everything together.
  6. Fluff the rice up with a fork and share between the bowls. Share the pork mixture and tuck in to the Pork Thai Rice Bowl.

This is a meal which only takes about 35 minutes including all of the prep which to be honest is not that much. I have had meals which have had a lot more preparation than this pork thai rice bowl meal. If you need to do it quickly you could do some of the prep earlier.

The Pork Thai rice bowl is one which I found to be full of flavour. There are not that many steps either which I like because this one you can see what you need to do before you start. I will be making this one again in the future as I think it was one of the best rice dishes we did actually have from Hello Fresh.

Have you tried Pork Thai Rice Bowl? If so what were you thoughts?

Charlotte xxx

Book Review- The Guest List By Melissa Hill

The Guest List by Melissa Hill is one which has been on my book shelf for a while. I am unsure why I have not actually read this sooner because it sounds like my cup of tea. The guest list is a book which I knew was going to be an easy read. Sometimes this is the best kind when you just want to relax while you are reading. I read this book because I was not having the greatest time at all.

The Blur

When funny, kind and gorgeous Shane proposes, Cara is over the moon. And can’t wait to share the news of their engagement with all their friends and family.

Excitement, however, quickly turns to apprehension when it seems that everyone has a fixed idea of the perfect wedding and offers to ‘help’ with the planning. With tussles over the ceremony and the size of the guest list, sibling rivalry and insistent in-laws-to-be. Cara can see the vision she has of her big day being ripped to shreds.

So she and Shane determine to make a stand and do things their way. But when they announce their plans for a beach wedding on a beautiful Caribbean island, there is uproar. Threats are made, family secrets are revealed, and things turn decidedly stormy.

Will Cara and Shane manage to overcome all obstacles? Or will their dream wedding turn into a nightmare?

My Thoughts

This was a great read about the planning of a wedding in Ireland. I knew from reading the blurb that it was going to be a easy page turner. For sure I can imagine reading this book on a warm sunny beach instead of commute. 

Cara and Shane receive an invitation to a lavish wedding. By chance chatting to the groom they discover how unhappy he is with all the extravagence and at they are in debt because of it. They decide that when they get married they want a nice quiet wedding with just their closest family and friends. 

However, when they announce their holiday plans, both mothers turn into diva’s. The want to take over and organise one of the biggest weddings Ireland has ever seen. It seems like they have forgotten that the wedding is actually Cara and Shane’s rather than there own.  This is something which I can see readers been able to relate to. I am sure this is a very common issue.

They make their plans despite family opposition and it causes a lot of friction in every camp. There are lots of secrets being kept and astonishing proposals made.  As well as been a romantic book it does show you the family politics and how hard it can be to get everything right. For me it made me determined to do only what is right for us when we get married.

Of course, I was rooting for them to get the perfect wedding that they wanted. But like any book there is so many plot twists and the one at the end I for sure did not see coming. Usually I can see them coming as well so it was nice for a change not to see it.  I am sure if you have read it you would not have seen it coming either.

Overall

This is a book which I would recommend if you are looking for an easy read. For sure this was one of these books I managed to smash though this book as I wanted to know what was going to happen to Cara and Shane. I think I managed to read this within a couple of weeks.  I do have a couple of Melissa Hill books which I really want to read now because this has given me the bug. To read more Melissa Hill books because they are written so well and keep me engaged. 

Have you read the guest list if, so what did you think?

Charlotte xxxx

Meal Plan 4th January #1

Meal planning is something which I have got into towards the end of 2018. I have loved cooking for a while but it was not till we got our own house and I became responsible for the cooking. Meal planning is something which I have found saves us a lot of money because we no longer have subscription boxes. I think this has nearly halved our weekly food bill.

This week we wanted to start eating properly again something which we have not seemed to do since our holiday. Due to Joe been off it has meant that we are able to have a different selection of food because food doesn’t have to be done quickly when we both are home. Today I am going to share with you what we have been eating this week.

Monday- Homemade Special Chow Mein and Beef in Black Bean Sauce. It is New Year’s Eve and we wanted a Chinese like everyone else. Once I think we waited 2 hours on NYE. So this year we have decided to make our own. To be honest it was full of flavour and so tasty for a fraction of what a takeaway would have cost. For sure this is going to be one which going to make again. I will also share the recipes in Meal Inspiration Monday’s as they are out of a recipe book which I own.

Tuesday- Roast Beef With All the Trimmings. We fancied a new years day roast for another tradition. Morrison’s had beef joints on offer we halved the one we purchased and made a roast. We had some stuffing and pigs in blankets uncooked and still in date from Christmas. This allowed us to have all the trimmings as well which nice. For sure I was not as stuffed as I was Christmas Day.

Wednesday- Veg Stir Fry. We had some left over bean sprouts from the Chinese meals which we had on Monday evening. If you have read my January aims you will know I aim to eat two veggie meals a week. The first this week was a super simple stir fry which for me as even more Delicious without the meat. For sure another one which you will see in the future in my meal plans.

Thursday- Gammon, Egg and Chips. Sometimes we just want a very easy meal. Due to the fact that we click and collect our food shopping sometimes we get substitutions. This gammon was one of them we got two smaller joints than the one which we ordered at Christmas. We carved this up served it with some chips and made some fried eggs which needed using. This was a simple meal but as someone who loves Gammon it was an effective one.

Friday- King Prawn Thai Red Curry. This is another meal which we are having because we have the ingredient in. We had a jar of the Thai red curry in and all I am going to do is cook the prawns. All this meal then needs is the rice which is simple. If you are wondering which one we use the Asda one is amazing. This is another quick meal because sometimes when it comes to Friday I can not be bothered to make a really fancy complicated meal. It is almost like another fakeaway to stop the urge to order out because we are trying to save money at the moment.

Saturday- Spicy Sausage Chilli. This is a meal which I have made a couple of times and got from Hello Fresh. It is a twist on Chilli Con Carne which is a tasty meal which I love to consume when the weather becomes a bit colder. We already has some sausages which were left over from the Christmas Period when we had cooked breakfasts. I though this recipe would be great to use them up and make a very tasty meal.

Sunday- Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie. This is a recipe which I actually found on pinterest this is something I have been trying to use more. This sounds like it could be really nice and Sheperd’s pie is something which I have not made before so I thought it would be a nice challenge. For me is is something which is a proper comfort food and as the temperature has plummeted I fancy this. I can not wait to see how it comes out because I know I haven’t had a veggie option in the past.

I am linking up on meal plans with the lovely Katy From Katykicker

What have you been eating this week?

Charlotte xxx

Goals For January 2019

Happy New year I hope you all had an amazing Christmas and New Year period. I love this period of a new year a fresh start and feeling like you are able to conquer the year. I know for sure it does help me because I set goals which I want to achieve. In my head I have some goals which I would love to achieve by the end of the year. Some of them of course are high and I may not achieve. This year I have decided that at the start of very month I am going to set some goals of what I want to achieve.

Personal Goals

Meal plan for the whole month– at the back end of the year we was using Hello Fresh. I realised how much money it was actually costing us. If I do a meal plan and stick to it we are saving money. We was spending £65 on food when we had the subscription boxes. I think we have managed to get it under £50 a week for all 3 of us which is amazing.

Eat 2 veggie meals a week- I get bored of having meals with meat sometimes. I am not looking to go full on veggie but I have noticed that these meals sometimes tend to be more full of flavour. It is actually saving money because these meals do not seem as expensive.

Go to the gym 3 times a week- I have had a gym membership since I moved house. I have no excuse not to go and recently I have not been loving the way I have been feeling . I want to do something about it. My aim is to go to the gym 3 times a week to see if this improves my mental state as well.

Read 2 books- reading is something which I love to do but since I have lost my commute it is something I struggle to do. I think last year I managed to only read 9 books 3 short of my target of 12. Reading helps me switch of and actually relax so it for sure is something I want to get back to doing. I have set myself a goal of 24 books this year so I want to make a good start. Rachael from fromrachaelclaire has started a book club as well which I have joined. In order to get my motivation for reading back.

Work Goals

Engage with followers more- this is something which I feel like I have not done in a while. I have barely been using my twitter account and I feel like I really miss the social side of blogging. I miss my friends who I have made through this as old and new

Hit 1500 twitter followers- this is something which has been on my list for about a year. Like I said last year I basically neglected twitter over instagram. I want to get back and use both platforms more because I know that people are not always on both. It used to be a very social place so lets see if it still is. You can follow me if you don’t already @cupsofcharlotte

Hit 1000 instagram followers- I did do this on new years eve for a short period and then I lost them. So this is something which is very likely to be done. I want to basically grow my balls and speak more on stories. I think this is an amazing way of engaging again with people. Again if you do not follow me over there I can be found @cupsofcharlotte

Use Pinterest- I have started dabbling in this since the back end of November I have been using recipes. I always hear other bloggers saying that it is a huge source of traffic for them to their blog. This is something which I want to see if is going to be the same for me or not . I am having fun with it and loads of my ideas can be found again I am @Cupsofcharlotte

Money Goals

Money is something which I feel like is a huge taboo subject at the moment of course it’s January and everyone is feeling the pinch. I have decided that every month I am going to share with you some of the goals I have which are money related.

Earn the gap between the bills and the amount in the joint account at the moment. This might sound a strange one but this month we have another bill my phone bill is actually two months. This means that the amount we spend on bills is more than a normal month. I want to earn that money so I do not have to go an use money from my account for this expense. The amount is not very much but of course every little helps.

Sell 20 items- I have so much to sell at the moment I became a bit lapse towards the end of 2018. We got so much nice new things for Christmas and some of the older things we do not need may as well be sold. I know over the festive period I found a lot which was too small for Jess so this can all be listed on eBay or Facebook. The items which still have a lot of wear left in them.

Spending ban – I shared this on my Facebook page at end of 2018 @cupsofcharlotte.  I am going to spend money on the necessity this month so the bills which we have every month. Of course, food but there is not going to be any treats because we have plenty left over from Christmas. I think it is a great time to be able to save a bit a replenish our money in time for more exploring when the weather becomes better.

Look at additional income streams– I do not believe in only having one source of income. I think this could be due to the industry which I am working in at the moment. I have been speaking to a friend about this quite a lot and my aim is to make money every single day even if it is a very small amount at the end of the day it all counts.

What are your goals for this month?

Charlotte xxx

2018 – A Review Of The Year

How can it already be the end of the year and time to do a review of 2018. I think this must have been one of the quickest years recently. For sure this does seems to have gone past us in the blink of an eye. Today I am going to share with you a review of the year 2018. Sharing the ups and downs of the year and for sure there has been a fair few this year.

January

It seems so long ago now since it was January of course, this is a month where you do not seem to do a whole lot. Usually the reason is because you have over spent on Christmas and are watching the pennies for the first few months. This was not an overall thrilling month for us we had a second Christmas with the in laws on New Years. Of course this did mean that she got another stack of presents. There was a period of this month where I was solo parenting of course been a military family this is pretty standard. I cracked on even further with my dissertation and university work which meant I was not as stressed towards April. We managed a trip to Dalby Forest to blow the cobwebs away. Even thought we didn’t spend too much this month we had an amazing time. We even had one final trip to Toys R Us in York before it closed it’s doors for the final time.

February

This is one of my favourite months of the year and not because it’s valentines like you may all be thinking. The reason why I enjoy it so much is because the rugby season is back and this is a huge thing for a sports fan like me. Talking about valentine’s day we did manage to have a lovely meal out before at the three cups. February was a month where it was just me and Jess can you sense a theme yet?. I tried to start selling some of my possessions in order to ready to move house which we hoped to do later in the year. February was also the month where the we saw the first snow fall for 2018.

March

Talking about snow the beast from the east manage to hit in March. I do not think I have been as cold as this month. Commuting with a toddler an hour on the train when it was not getting above -1 was sure not fun at all. We managed to spend another couple of weeks solo parenting again this month I am sure I spent half of the year doing this. But March 2018 saw us back exploring something which we love to do as a family we made a return trip back to Eureka!. We also made our first trip of the year to the beach it may have been for a walk for not very long but it still counts. We might have had to wear our coats but that for sure does not put us off at all in this family. It seem’s like towards the end of the month the weather must have picked up again. I was still cracking on with my university work because the majority of it had to be completed by April.

April

April 2018 was another month where we seemed to be here there and everywhere in between. At the start of the month we took the grandparents to Twycross zoo for the first time. It was Easter Sunday and it was not that manic which usually makes a change for a zoo. Joe and I headed up to Newcastle as one of his gifts last Christmas had been to see Fast and Furious live. This was actually a show that I loves so much and Newcastle is a city which I know we will visit again in the future. I took the annual trip to the grand national I know this is going be controversial as some people do not like it. I go because I work there and it is a source of income for me which don’t we all need. The rest of the month when we was not travelling to some place was spent finishing my dissertation. There was a number of long hours spent wondering if it was going to be good enough. I am proud to tell you I do not know why I worried so much.

May

My brother turned 18 how the hell did he become that age I swear he was like 12 two minutes ago. Jess went to her first rugby game of the year and got mega bored because she hadn’t napped all day I think she just wanted to sleep poor girl. We made our first trip to a farm of the year when we visited Cannon Hall Farm. Before heading up again to Newcastle this time to celebrate my birthday and of course see a rugby game. I told you I would be back in Newcastle. May saw me do my final every university assignment. This is the month I realised that I was not going to do a masters this year and spend more time on me. I needed a break. May 2018 was also the month where we started actually viewing houses after having been looking for a long time on Zoopla. We actually bought the first house we did view however, we has seen a lot of properties since.

June

June was another month which was spent house hunting. I remember there been one weekend where we viewed 7 houses in one day. For sure this was a month of looking forward to the future. There was nothing we wanted than a family home. We did make an offer for the house in the month of June. So there was a lot of time spent speaking to banks and making sure everything was in place so we could purchase the house. I spend some of the month making the best use of the sunny weather and reading while sat near the river in York. I think I actually managed to read book in one day which I think may actually be a first for me. I got to work with a local company and review the Hull Open Top Bus Tour. We enjoyed the sun which was starting to shine this month who knew that 2018 was going to be first time in ages we was going to have tons of sun.

July

For me July was the month everything started going a little bit crazy. I kept applying for a few summer jobs just to make the money keep ticking. I didn’t get them but thanks to guys I managed to make money from my blog. Jess took her first trip to the cinema to go and see Thomas the Tank engine. I know she enjoyed it and for sure the cinema is somewhere which we will be visiting more over 2019. I continued to sell more things because at the end of the day it would mean less things to move when we moved house. I was also thankful of the extra money it allowed us to do more adventures. I spent a bit of time this month at my racecourse job and saw the most epic thunder storm. There was plenty of amazing BBQ’s and time spent at the park because the summer of 2018 was so boiling. Obviously like any sports fan I got swept up in the world cup fever there was nothing better than seeing the England Men’s Football team doing amazingly well.

August

August was a month which seems to be a waiting game we finally got our move in date. This meant the majority of August was spent boxing up our old rooms and making sure we had everything ready for the big move because of course we did not want to not have anything. Joe had the month off as summer leave which meant we as able to explore the UK a bit more we had amazing days out. These included York Maze, Chester Zoo, Lego discovery centre Manchester and of course seeing Paw Patrol Live. We also had our first festival experience at Gloworm festival for sure this is something which I would love to go back to next year. I also went indoor sky diving for the very first time I since have been back and I will be writing a blog post all about it very soon. For sure August was a busy month but I think it was one of my favourite months we never stopped but there was so many laughs which occurred. Jess said goodbye to her first nursery in York ready for the big move it was sad because she has been there since she was 1.

September

September was a month of two halves there first so stressful. I found myself commuting from York to the new house every day for two weeks on the train. I spent about 4-6 hours a day commuting just so that Jess could start her new childcare. We did not get the keys to the new house until the 13th which meant that we actually only had 2 days to move in and prepare for the first birthday in the house. Jess turned 3 I would like to say we did something amazing for it but truth we didn’t. We had a little family tea and that was all because we was all shattered and the house for sure was not a home at this stage. The rest of September was spend unpacking so we knew were everything was and if we needed to purchase anything for sure we could. Because for the next two months I was going to be solo parenting as work meant that Joe was going away.

October

This was the first month in our new house which I had to do some solo parenting for sure it was not easy. We only ended up with one minor injuries trip because Jess fell off her bike. We travelled back to Hull for a weekend in order to go to the fair because who could say no to that tradition. For sure Jess had a lot of fun it is so magical been able to see her face light up when you go to something like a fair with all the lights. The rest of October was very quiet for us we did not do anything crazy for Halloween in fact Jess only dressed up because she had a party at nursery. She still goes on about trick or treating so this is something which I think that we may have to do some of this next year. Oh October 2018 is when we started baking a lot more and this is when I realise that Jess has a passion for it. Since then we have not looked back and have made some tasty treats.

November

We knew at the end of this month we was going to have Daddy home for the rest of the year. I think this is one of the reasons is it was a busy month for us as well. We managed to go to a local pub and watch the fireworks for bonfire night it was magically watching a girl who is scared of fireworks be amazed by them. We also had my brother come to stay for a weekend which when he is Jess’ best friend meant so much to her and I think she loved it. We also made two trips to Manchester we went to Inflanation which was amazing this was so fun apart from the friction burn I sustained. We also went back to iFly because I have the indoor sky diving bug. Oh how could I forget in November 2018 I actually graduated it may have taken me 5 years. I got to have my best friend there and the girl who I did it all for I hope she is proud of me when she is old enough.

December

This was a time where we did not seem to stop we met some of the brands which we love at the mama market. We ran a santa run which I am sure this is going to be something which we do again it could become a new tradition. We went on a break before the madness of Christmas to Derbyshire to a log cabin. I will be doing a review of this very soon do not worry. We took a day out to White Post Farm as well which is somewhere which I have wanted to visit for a while. Of course, we celebrated our first Christmas as just a family of 3 with me cooking our Christmas lunch. We have had a lego filled period between Christmas and New Year which for sure has been fun who does not love Lego.

I hope that 2019 is as much fun as 2018. Hopefully we have as many laughs and exciting things. I am looking forward to been able to smash 2019.

What has your highlight of 2018 been?

Charlotte xxx