All the things I’m loving lately

There is so much good stuff happening right now, I’m loving life.

2020 really has been a great year so far. So let’s get cracking with a few life updates.

I got a promotion at work! I really love my job at the moment and enjoy what I do, and so getting a promotion is just the icing on the cake. My job hasn’t actually changed that much, but I have more authority and “clout” in what I do. Changing careers a few years ago was 100% the right thing for me to. I love my week and I work hard. I feel confident and happy with where things are going. Rather than despondent, lost and confused as I was previously (and a short commute MASSIVELY helps too of course).

And another happy life event is that my flat has a buyer (did I mention it was on the market? It has been since before Christmas
but thanks to Brexit and the election it was slow times) and Kyle and I have found a house and had our offer accepted! So all things are in motion for us to move out in the coming months. SO EXCITING. Obviously my promotion certainly came at a timely moment as well for this with all the mortgage application process and finances. I’ll share more when things get more finalised 😀

I’ve also been kindly sent a few products to test out.

I was sent some KALME Day Defence www.kalme.co.uk facial cream to try out. It contains SP25 and is clinically shown to reduce skin redness and sensitivity. I’m a HUGE fan of any sort of face cream that has SPF in it because
well, wrinkles. Yes, entirely vain but there we go. Other than things like alcohol and smoking, the sun is a big reason for wrinkles and I for one and trying my best to look ever youthful 😉

While I’ve never suffered from acne, the cream also contains zinc oxide which helps reduce inflammation and combat breakouts, which I do get occasionally.

The cream has got lots of good stuff in it for sensitive skin and for looking after you, so I’m more than happy to use this. Especially when doing long runs out in the open with the sun beating down. The only thing I will say is that it’s quite thick so you don’t need a huge blob (but works for wearing on runs).

I was also recently sent some cold brew coffee, funnily enough called Calm Coffee – a lot of calming stuff going on in this post!

It’s coffee that is infused with 10mg of CBD (Cannabidiol). I was sent the Americano and the Caffe Latte.

The American uses 100% Arabica Brazilian coffee beans and is basically black (as Americanos tend to be), whilst the latte contains oat milk. And because they’re served in cans, this means they’re a solid environmentally friendly choice.

With this I was sent the ground coffee version too, which is also infused with CBD. I make this either using my coffee machine (which is not an all-singing all-dancing variety but your simple “add scoops of ground coffee and water” to variety) or in the coffee press.

So CBD
 what’s the crack? It’s not like THC (the more infamous variety) in that it doesn’t give you a high and it’s non-psychoactive. But CBD is commonly taken by people with anxiety, or insomnia, and inflammation or chronic pain. It’s not classed as a medical product however, it’s classed more of a supplement, but it (at least ancedotal at the moment) is said to help relieve these issues to an extent.

I really enjoyed the cans. Very refreshing, no strange tastes
 just like a cold brew coffee really. And the ground coffee was delicious too. I like the fact that it’s touted to help you focus and energise you – definitely something that combines well with the caffeine. I wasn’t “buzzed” or running about that place and I wasn’t “zenned” out, but it was just like drinking a nice cup of coffee and feeling the benefits of that.

I’ve also been sent a number of turmeric supplement products too. This is something I am super excited about because there’s a lot of hype about turmeric being good for reducing inflammation and being good for injury-prevention and recovery (something I’m definitely no stranger to as I’m sure you’re aware).

I was sent three turmeric supplements: two capsule varieties and a bio-fermented liquid which has both probiotics and digestive enzymes in as well. All the products are vegan as well.

The turmeric capsules both have a combination of black pepper and ginger and contains zero additives and fillers. To counteract the fact that the compound curcumin, which is the active ingredient, gets quickly metabolised by the body, the added black pepper which contains piperine helps get the maximum absorption and bioavailability from it. The ginger which helps with the digestion and absorption too.

The Bio-Fermented Turmeric is a liquid that you drink (well, you have a shot of basically). Again it contains the black pepper necessary for decent absorption as well as live cultures to help with digestion. It actually tastes quite nice as well! I thought I was going to have to hold my nose and take it but I really enjoy having a spoonful before my porridge in the morning.

Considering I’m marathon training at the moment, I’m loving that I have all this turmeric to take. Reducing inflammation from running is a key priority to me. I’m not one of those total hardy souls who can run all the miles every day. I have to be sensible and really focus on recovery and looking after my body so these supplements have come at the perfect time for me. I take the liquid in the morning, then the capsules with dinner at night. You can get them in Holland & Barrett soon 🙂

Do you take any supplements?

Do you enjoy drinking coffee?

Do you wear any SPF creams throughout the day?

**Full disclaimer: this post contains products that I was sent for free in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Life Check-In

So life lately. Asides from doing idiotic things in my spare time, life has been pretty good, albeit somewhat stressful.

Work

In terms of work, I’m still loving things. Now that schools have started again the traffic is heavier but it’s still nothing in comparison to my journeys to Basingstoke used to be. We’re still talking 30 minutes. This makes me extremely happy. Having more of an evening means I don’t feel like all I do is walk Alfie, eat and then go to bed. I can actually live a little. However this will be changing again as I’ve now moved back home to my parent’s house (more on this in a bit). Though they live closer to where I work, they actually live in a very annoying spot in terms of getting on to the motorway. So the likelihood is that I’ll get stuck in more traffic in the future. However, it still won’t be as bad as Basingstoke was I’m sure.

And the work itself? I’m loving it. So interesting and something I’m so keen to learn more and more about. Working in such a cool and friendly environment helps a lot as well. Not that my last place wasn’t friendly (I have some great friends I made there and keep in touch with) but I feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be now.

Moving

In terms of moving, I kind of left everything until the last moment. I mean, ehhh, don’t we all work a bit better with some adrenaline and looming, flashing deadline in front of us? I’m renting my flat out furnished so this did make things somewhat easier in terms of physically moving. But I still had a lot of “stuff” to move regardless. And cleaning. I’ve maintained a very high level of cleanliness in my flat (the letting agency commended it when they visited. I was proud) but there were still areas to clean of course. Cupboards, drawers, deep cleaning the kitchen and bathroom.

I had Friday and Monday off to master this moving process (while still having quite a busy weekend as well – I never make things easy for myself of course). Friday was literally pack my life away into my Fiat 500, and thankfully my dad’s larger car. I packed about half of my stuff (SO. MANY. CLOTHES. WHY) and then realised actually I had quite a lot of stuff.This giant Next bag and the big blue IKEA bags were my saviour. As everything was to fit into cars, rather than a van, it was all about squashability. Plus I didn’t actually have that many boxes. I’m also going through the very freeing process of becoming more minimalist. There’s nothing like packing to make you consider whether you want to actually move something or not. I’ve gotten rid of (well, donated to charity) a lot of old trainers, shoes, clothes, books, DVDs and random items.I’ve sold more expensive handbags on eBay and given away other stuff to friends (ahh smoothie maker, it’s been quite a while since I used you). So Friday, Saturday afternoon and Sunday were spent packing the last bits. As I had a busy day (mainly eating, it must be said) Saturday and then a half marathon on Sunday, it was quite exhausting getting everything done.My flat was scrubbed clean; the fridge, the balcony glass panes, the windows (inside and out!), the oven, cupboards, bathroom, skirting boards…everything!It’s funny because I keep forgetting that it’s still going to be my flat. I can still move back there at some point in the future. I’m not selling it. So the level of sadness is minimal. I will of course miss it and I will miss my lovely cushty lifestyle there but I know this is the right thing to do. But jeeeesus was it tiring getting it all done. My parents helped where they could but they too were busy at the weekend and couldn’t have the time off of work. But I am an INDEPENDENT WOMAN, yes indeed. There is nothing like walking up and down two flights of stairs carrying heavy bags and boxes on your own to drill that into you.Running

By far the most interesting thing to discuss right? 😉 My running since the New Forest Marathon has been pretty good. Weirdly I’ve gone from the lone wolf runner who does most of her running solo, to someone who now regularly does her runs with other people. On Tuesday nights I’ve been running with a guy at work which has been nice. So far we’ve only run two four milers as we’ve both been recovering from high mileage at the weekend. But it’s been good regardless. It’s nice as well to chat to someone outside of work hours about work. I know that doesn’t sound great but for someone who would literally forget about work as soon as I left the building, to have interest and passion about what I do now means I’m genuinely interested in talking about it further.

Thursdays still see me running with my friend Mike. He’s always fun to run with and we often have good conversations regarding dating, life and the universe. It’s a bit like therapy 😉 Our recent run of 10k went by nicely. Though we both wondered how the hell we’d run regularly 7-9miles before. A marathon definitely takes it out of you. However, our splits were nicely around 8.30s rather than 9minutes so that was something.And Saturday is parkrun of couse. Speaking of adulting fails… I somehow managed to register myself TWICE. So when I’ve been scanning my barcodes recently I’ve been scanning a different Anna (it’s still me, but not my usual account, just one I created YEARS ago when I was just starting running outside). I only realised this when I went to see how many parkruns I’ve done and found I’d only done about five, which is wrong! Stupid me. I’ve sent an email to the lovely parkrun chaps but they said it was too time-consuming to change it. It’s fair enough, of course. This is my own error, but I’m still SO annoyed (at myself). This means I’ll be out of count for milestones… OK my next milestone is 250 which is over 100 parkruns away but STILL. And now I don’t have Brighton & Hove on my tourism list. ARGH.

But anyway, parkrun at Netley this week was nice. It was lovely weather and I did a nice negative split as I started feeling stronger as the run continued.

Photo Credit: Glenn Tyreman

I so much prefer to build up to speed than go out guns blazing. Though with 5ks if you want a really solid fast time you do need to be on the speed as soon as you start… but my body doesn’t really work like that for parkrun. I guess I could do more miles to warm-up but with helping set-up there’s never time. Plus I’m not too bothered by getting a super fast time these days!

Photo Credit: Glenn Tyreman

I look very much “in the zone” in that photo above – this was on the finishing straight. So my time was 22:19 which is not too shabby!I think we’ll be moving onto the dreaded winter course soon (which feels so much harder). I had to dash off quickly after finishing as I needed to get a bit more packing done before meeting my friend for lunch. I did get a cheeky photo though with our new sign. Very fancy shmancy indeed! My friend, Joe, decided to photobomb it which was quite amusing.I’ll do a recap of the Solent Half Marathon that I ran on Sunday in another post…

Basically, the Cliff Notes of the post is, my life is going well. I’m a very happy apple right now (yes I did just refer to myself as an apple). Things have slotted into place and life is feeling good.

Do you enjoy cleaning? This is a random question, but I actually love cleaning. I get so much satisfaction from it.

Do you like the people you work with? And the environment you work in?

How’s your running/exercising going?

Big changes ahead

I had quite a few different titles in my head for this post. Things like…. Have I failed? Two steps backwards to move forwards. Adulting is hard. Nearly 30 and starting again…things like that.

All the options were things that have gone through my head and in some ways make sense to the action I’m going to take. There are big changes ahead for me indeed. So the Cliff Notes version is: I’m moving back home with my parents. Yep.

I’ll start from the beginning. Towards the end of last year I was feeling really fed up, mainly with my job. As I’ve said before, I just wasn’t feeling that it was something I wanted to do for the foreseeable future. I was coasting along, getting my job done but getting more and more down. I was spending a good portion of my life at work but living for the weekends when I could do what I actually wanted to do. Not to mention the draining, long commute there and back every day.

I had no desire or ambition. Gone was the girl who left university ready to take on the world. Instead I was dreaming of the holidays and marathons I could run and justifying the rest of my time, where I was sad and bored, as a way to fund the more fun times in my life. So what my job wasn’t my passion? I could afford to go on cool holidays, go out for dinner all the time and buy unlimited pairs of leggings. I was living the dream.

But no I wasn’t. And it soon became very clear that the benefit of the solid paycheck wasn’t enough to keep me from sinking into a despondent, unmotivated and sad person. A few holidays a year doesn’t make up for the fact that the majority of my week I was spent unhappy.

So earlier this year I decided to look for another job that would be more in line with what I wanted to do. Something I had a genuine interest in. Having spent a good portion of my career in a quite different field, however, I quickly realised I had very limited experience. Searching for a job with a similar salary was laughable. I hadn’t a chance in hell. So I started looking for jobs from the bottom up. Grass roots’ positions where I could learn and hopefully work my way up. And this was obviously going to be reflected in the pay.

And so I took that pay cut. I could carry on living in my flat with my new job but I would be living hand to mouth every month, and that makes me very nervous. Yes I have savings behind me but I want them to remain there and not be eaten into if I fancy going on holiday or splurging on a trip.

Instead, after long chats with my parents and careful consideration, I decided the best decision would be to rent out my flat and move back home. Long story short, I’ll be moving in September (hopefully) and the money I’ll save will basically bump up my earnings back to a happy place.

I’m obviously extremely grateful to have parents that are so supportive and willing to have me come back home (*cough* my mum is ecstatic). As you’re probably aware, I have a very good relationship with both my parents so hopefully it won’t be a painful experience for anyone. I’ll have my space, they’ll have theirs.

Alfie will obviously be joining me (again, my mum is ecstatic). My parents already have three dogs and he gets on fine with them (though he’ll still sleep with me as he always does when I stay over). It also gives me a bit of freedom (ironically) because I don’t have to rush home all the time to make sure Alfie isn’t alone for too long. My parents have a lovely garden and he’ll be well looked after if I decide to go on a date, a spontaneous work thing or stay out late with friends.

So, a big change for me. For how long, I don’t know…

Have you ever moved back home with your parents?

Would you ever consider something like this?

Do you get on with your parents?

Working on my winter insulation layer ;-)

I am so chuffed. My flat is coming along so nicely!

My little home is very small, but it’s perfect for me. I thought that going from a house to a flat (apartment) would be really hard but actually it’s great. My previous house was a two bedroom end terrace so it was quite small anyway but just for me I didn’t need all that space. My new place is only one bedroom but it has enough space for all my things and storage room (which was always the worry for me if I went for somewhere smaller). I could have gone for a two bedroom but for my budget it probably wouldn’t have been in as good an area or would have been too far from my usual commute.

Anyway I had Friday off and got some bits and pieces sorted like getting my Internet hooked up and the delivery of my table and chairs. FINALLY I can eat at the table again after so long perching on my bean bag or my bed.

Friday evening was my friend’s Christmas party. It was planned for the week after but after a change of venue it was moved forward a week. Annoyingly this was the same evening as my running club’s awards evening and Christmas party 🙁IMG_6596But I had good fun with my friends anyway at a new Chinese restaurant. I’m not a huge Chinese fan but the food was good.Chinese food

There was a sharing platter to start, this had chicken skewers, spring rolls, dumplings and salted squid. Normally sharing food gives me anxieties 😉 but there was an equal number of different items per person so this was fine. It’s when it’s like a free-for-all that I get worried. Fear of missing out on food!

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Good friends

For main I had chicken teriyaki and rice, which was tasty but quite sweet. I was glad I didn’t have the duck as I tried some of my friend’s and it was ridiculously sweet. I like sweet stuff but this was a bit too much (for savoury anyway…). For pudding there was another sharing platter of brownies, doughnuts and ice cream things.IMG_6603

Tom, you’re famous! 😉

The next morning my alarm went off at 7am and for the first time in a long while I considered snoozing it. I rarely ever snooze alarms as once they go off I’m awake and that’s it. But I wanted to snuggle back down and sleep. I checked the weather and it didn’t look too bad at 11-12 degrees (centigrade). When I got to parkrun though it was tipping it down and I was glad for my wellies.Hunter welliesI was happy to take the rain over gale force winds though! A few people were feeling rather delicate due to the awards the night before. Luckily I hadn’t been drinking at my do, but I was still tired.

My friend Chris tried to persuade me to run with him, but he was aiming for 22 minutes and I’m no where near that yet! I did give it my best though and was happy with 23:14!

parkrun splits

It’s annoying because I can’t remember what my best time for this course is (as on the parkrun results it just says Netley Abbey – and there are like four different courses we can do through the year) so I’m not sure how well I can realistically aim to do as the weeks continue. The six hills really do drain you dry whereas the normal course only has three smaller hills.Parkrun mud

Anyway, it was fairly muddy but thankfully the rain had stopped when we were running. The temperature wasn’t too cold either (thanks, global warming!).

The rest of the day was deja vu to last weekend where I went to IKEA again with my parents and then spent the rest of the afternoon constructing bits and pieces. I’m DONE with IKEA now. No more!! I have pretty much everything I need now (apart from my new bed being delivered this week).

I was really chuffed to find a sofa I liked and when I ordered it they told me it could be delivered later that day. Unfortunately I failed to realise it would be delivered in four pieces. When the delivery men turned up I asked them if they were going to construct it and they almost laughed in my face. Of course not. It’s IKEA after all. Anyway, it’s all sorted thanks to my dad and me who are now like IKEA pros.

Sunday I had a lovely 6.5 mile run which went far better than last weekend’s. It still felt hard but I didn’t feel like walking so there’s an improvement (though it wasn’t as windy). My endurance is s.l.o.w.l.y improving.

6.5 miles

I’m starting to think I should be adding in some speed work but I think I’ll leave it with a tough parkrun each week for now. When I move to four runs a week then one of those might be a fartlek or intervals…*shudders*.

Sunday lunch was amazing. Literally amazing. I’ve found my new favourite restaurant. Coast To Coast in Whiteley. Dear God it was good. The menu was insane. I was torn between four different choices (burger with pulled pork, calzone, ribs or chicken wings). In the end I went for wings but instantly got food envy when I saw a woman get a HUGE rack of ribs.Coast To Coast

My dad and me shared the BBQ platter to start (ribs, wings, chicken tenders with blue cheese, battered prawns and chorizo). It was so good. I traded him some prawns for chicken and chorizo for ribs so I think we were both satisfied 😉

My Kentucky wings and sweet potato fries for my main were awesome. I’ve never actually had wings as a main before and it rocked my world. It had some great dips as well – one of them was like a blue cheese thing which I could have swum in if I’m honest.

I’d already seen the pudding menu and had earmarked the mint chocolate chip Oreo sundae but I was stuffed. It wasn’t even a “oooh I could make room” kind of stuffed, it was a meat sweat kind of stuffed. Just too much protein. I needed a nap 😉

Pretty damn awesome. Needless to say dinner wasn’t necessary!

How was your weekend?

Do you snooze your alarm or get up straight away?

What’s your favourite dip?

Rants and Raves #25

I’m so tired this week. The weekend really took it out of me. Fortunately I have a day off tomorrow, wheeee! So I can do more sorting and organising (*cough* and spending). Alfie’s back from my parent’s now as well. He does not like the balcony at all bless him! On to some rants and raves…

Rave: It’s so close to Christmas. I’m such a big fan of Christmas. I love the music, the food (ALL ABOUT THE FOOD), the festivities, the sparkle… Everything. I was wearing my ‘gateway’ Christmas jumper at the start of December.Christmas jumper

Old house selfie

See, it’s not quite a Christmas jumper but it’s fairly festive. I think I can get away with wearing it in January as well. I do have a proper one that I’ll be rocking out soon.

Rant: I hate myself (real hatred) for saying this but… Justin Bieber’s music is growing on me. WHAT’S GOING ON. I still detest the singer as I think he’s very arrogant and just not my type of person (as if we’d be friends otherwise;)) but his latest music is so bloody catchy.

Rave: I don’t tend to spend lots of money… But when it comes to workout gear, I can’t seem to stop. I found these gorgeous pair of Lululemon capris on eBay the other week.

Lululemon capris

Lululemon gear is just gorgeous but ridiculously priced. RIDICULOUSLY priced. Even worse than Sweaty Betty. I often have a little look on eBay to see if I can find anything and I was chuffed to score these for a discounted price. They are so soft, fit like a glove and just make me wish I was millionaire so I could buy everything from that shop.

I also bought some (more) leggings from Fabletics in their Black Friday deal. Two pairs of leggings for the price of one, I couldn’t resist.Fabletics leggings

I’d had these mesh capris in my ‘Wish’ bag already so I was happy to get them and another pair (more funky coloured) for the same price. I was concerned the mesh would be annoying but I barely notice it.

Rants: Buying loads of new gym and running gear wasn’t a great idea just before I moved as it only meant packing more stuff. In the end clothes that were in drawers ended up in bin bags… which then ended up like this when I needed to find certain items.

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Yes that is a random tool kit

My running and gym gear has lovingly been put away now in my newly created chest of drawers. Though I still have a bin bag left of normal clothes I’ve yet to get to. Priorities.

Rave: I’m really into snacking on biltong and dried meat at the moment. Such a good snack to tide you over until your next proper meal.

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Like meat crisps in a way 😉 Sorry veggies, I know that must sound awful to you.

These high protein crisp snack things though didn’t blow me away… bit bland. I’ll stick to my Snack a Jacks I think.IMG_6308

Rant: Websites that don’t accept hyphens in names. CaptureSo many don’t accept ‘Anna Smith-James’. IT’S MY NAME. My name isn’t Anna SmithJames. Or Anna Smith. Or Anna James. It’s Anna SMITH-JAMES. And on that subject, it’s JAMES not JONES. EVERY FRIGGING PHONE CALL. *Sighs*

On the subject of my name. Before I got married I was Anna James, but then I took Ben’s second name (Smith) and made two boring names into an interesting one. Now my intention is to find my next husband and just keep adding to my name, like Anna Smith-James-Taylor, and so on.

Obviously I’m joking. But I’m not changing my name. Who knows what the future holds but for now my name is remaining the same. The process of changing it is far too stressful… so many people, companies, websites to inform.

Rave: I found out what noise was keeping me awake. It was a scent thing that had been left in the flat. It clicks and ejects a puff of scent out every so often. I thought the noise was due to the wind on the window or something like that but then I was right next to it and heard the bastard. It has since left my flat. Though I do also now have ear plugs 😉

What are you rants and raves this week?

Are you a light or heavy sleeper?

Did you get anything on Black Friday?