28 January 2016

Planner Nerd

My name is Jo and I have a teeny tiny addiction to stationery... OK that's a lie, it's a problem, it's getting out of hand now! LOL!

My main obsession lately is my new planner and buying ALL the accessories to go with my new planner. It seems many people have a similar obsession and I have recently discovered the joy of planner set up videos on YouTube!

So it's my turn to share my planner set up and all my accessories.... scream!

Surely one of the most fun things about planners are the sticker opportunities! Yeah stickers! Who doesn't like stickers?

The unicorns, hearts, and London themed stickers are Paperchase, the pretty square stickers and the clear ones are from Simple Stories, the arrow stickers are from the Idea Owl and the little bunny heads are from The Lemon Cat Shop

My cute post it note habit is also getting slightly out of control now... I adore little post its for brightening up the pages and putting in little reminders.  They are also great for writing appointments in that may change, you can simply place the post it onto another day.

As I prefer a teeny tiny diary I use post its to fit extra information onto my weeks, such as my to-do lists.

The cats, pigs, lamas and lions and the pretty patterned ones are from The Idea Owl, the pink stripe ones and the unicorn set are Paperchase. The fruit ones are Kikki-K.

I adore these Project Life cards, I think they are for scrapbooking etc, but they are fab for my planner too. I like to add little reminders on them, or add inspiration ideas, quotes on then I stick them into my planner with some pretty washi tape. These ones can be purchased here...

These super cute little cut outs just add such pretty embellishments to my planner. I've also used them to decorate a photo album... These are just thin card and not stickers, so you have to glue them in. These Carpe Diem ones from Simple Stories can be found here....

Of course I have to have somewhere pretty to store my planner accessories for my desk. I have had this black Paperchase box for years... but pop in the shop you can buy something similar now.

This little pink box is the perfect size for washi tapes, I love seeing them all laid out like this.  This gift box was from a cheap card retailer in town.

My super cute cat, mushroom and rain drop ballpoint pens are from Paperchase and were a present from my sister. My fruit pencil is from Kikki-K and came in my planner set.

So finally to my planner.  This is the 2016 small weekly Cute Diary from Kikki-K. When you order online, despite there now being a Kikki-K shop in London, your parcel still comes from Singapore so does take a few weeks (ugh the pain in waiting SO long! hehe). It is probably a bit more expensive than I usually spend on a diary but look how cute it is....

I got it in a special Christmas package deal and it came with the pen, the magnetic page markers and some sticky notes too. It also has the watermelon notebook tucked into the back for extra note pages which I love.

The inside of the planner is, as you would expect, super cute! It is so bright and full of pretty illustrations on each page.

I added my 'Planner Nerd' sticker here... just to remind myself when I open it up!

Each weekly layout has a different illustration, this strawberry page is one of my faves...

Here's a page I have decorated with some stickers so you can see.

My diary is multi-function and contains everything in one place.  I go for the small size so it fits in my handbag. It comes everywhere with me, I would be lost without it!

So here you can see some (boring) work appointments but also a little weekend away we have planned soon.  I like to use my stickers for exciting planned things.

Between each month are these uber cute pages.. each month is slightly different. Look at that little bear....!

The diary itself comes with a page of stickers in the back too! But you know these are not enough for a full year! hehe.

If you too are suffering from Planner Addiction Syndrome I can only apologise for this post! hehe.
If you have posted about stationery, planners etc then please leave me links... I MUST see...

26 January 2016

January Faves...

My new Kikki K planner - Yes it's official, I'm a diary/planner geek. I won't tell you how many setting up planner/opening planner YouTube vidoes I've watched (yes yes they are a thing!). I just adore diaries and planners and lists and stationery... I did buy an academic diary in summer, but I just couldn't resist another new one for 2016.  Check out Kikki K if you love stationery, swoon!

M&S Easter Eggs - Oh M&S I adore you, I really really do. M&S food is always superior but their seasonal confectionery is just amazing. Obviously it is now Easter so we have to eat as many chocolate eggs as humanly possible... These little Chicky Chocky eggs are super yummy. 

Presents from me to me - So I might have treated myself to a little something in the Tatty Devine sale, but look at it, just look at it, it's star shaped and shiny! Clearly you can see why it was impossible to resist.

Arla Protein pots - deliciously thick super filling pots of yumminess! Not 'technically' yoghurt, they are Quark, which you will have heard of if you have ever done Slimming World!  They are SO thick and only 140 cals, I feel fit to burst after eating one of these!

The Affair - I've been really getting into this show this month, I found it on Now TV. There is one MAJOR issue with it of course in the casting, Pacey is the husband she CHEATS on! (don't tell me off for spoilers it's called The Affair!!) Why on earth would anyone cheat on Pacey? 

Aw, Joshua Jackson's character is so Pacey like too, really lovely but a bit of a looser and a bit of a rebel at times. Obviously the fact Pacey is in this TV show is why I am watching it. (P.S. If you don't know who Pacey is, GET off my blog right now... settle yourself down and watch the full 9 seasons of Dawson's Creek and don't come back until you're done - you're welcome :-P)

Planner accessories - Falling in love with these scrapbooking/planner stickers from Simple Stories. I purchased these from The Homemakery and was so impressed with their super speedy delivery and stunning packaging!

Pinafore dress - I SO badly wanted this dress, I knew I would love it, but am I too old and perhaps er not the right shape to wear such a thing? Well I bought it anyway.  So far I've enjoyed wearing it in my flat and hidden under a big coat at the supermarket... I feel like a 5 year old in it, but oh my it's cute!

Fave Instagrammers this month... 

From L-R @jenniemaizels@crumbsanddoilies@janefosterdesigns@livesweetphotography

I adore Jennie Maizels's amazing illustrations, so bright and colourful, I would love to do one of her courses.  Crumbs and Doilies are a new discovery cupcake shop, she does YouTube vids too. Another amazing illustrator, Jane Foster's designs are so cheerful. And last but by far least probably the prettiest Instagram account discovery lately Live Sweet super pretty pics of her cute as a button daughter and their pet pig in their pretty pastel home.

Fave blogs/vlogs:

Zoella - Saying Goodbye to 2015

I loved this super long, rambly post from Zoe. I think she is fab, and when you look at what she has achieved in a year, makes me wonder what I've been doing with my time! lol.

Tanya Burr - New Year's Resolutions

I love love love reading new year resolution posts! I am super nosy but also find them really inspiring for my own resolutions.

Girl lost in the city - New Year Same Me

Emma's post made me chuckle, rather like the anti new years resolutions post!

Claireabellemakes - 2016 Goals

Another resolutions post, Claire always inspires me.  Her 2016 is going to very busy.

Forever Amber - Reasons to love running (even when you hate exercise)

I loved this list, made me laugh out loud, these 12 things are so very true.

Pet Lamb Girls - Easy Vanilla Cupcakes

Yes, LOVE this little bakery in the Grainger Market in Newcastle, just yum yum! The Pet Lamb girls are SO cool. They now have a YouTube channel, wuhu! It's the end of Jan, all our healthy eating resolutions are out the window now, let's eat cake...

21 January 2016

Little Red Riding Bunny

My first crochet make of 2016 is this cute little red hooded bunny. It's not really meant as any attempt to be 'red riding hood', I just thought that was a funny name for the blog post.

I have made this little bunny pattern a few times now and I blogged about a yellow hooded bunny I made last year here. But I'm so taken with this little red guy I thought he deserved a blog post all of his own!

This pattern is not mine, I couldn't come up with anything so superb, this is the genius of Luvly Gurumi. I adore all of her patterns, super cute!

I used my very favourite yarn for this, Lullaby by Stylecraft for this wee bunny, in the colours Misty and Berry. This yarn is so super soft, makes great blankets and toys, and is inexpensive, it is by far my favourite yarn, you can purchase here.

This little guy is for a friend's new baby boy and he is hippity hopping all the way to Lancashire as I type... I always crochet when there's a new baby!

The best thing about this genius pattern of course is the little hood comes off...

Scream! What could be cuter?

I love the size of this little guy, he's quite dinky, as you can see by my hand.

Do you have a favourite crochet toy pattern? I would love to see...

19 January 2016

My running essentials

So recently I wrote this post and I have declared my intention here to complete a challenge of running 350 miles in 2016. I adore running, I love that I have found my ideal workout (besides biking which is FAR too fun to be considered purely exercise!).  I really want to include more running related posts in my blog this year...

I love that with running you don't need anything, strap on a pair of trainers and an old t-shirt and shorts and get out there.  You truly don't need any 'stuff' or expensive gym memberships and gear. However when you have been running for a number of years like me you begin to gather a few bits and bobs that make the running experience that bit more pleasurable... Here's my list...


Obviously my iPhone is my main essential, but it is what is on my iPhone specifically for running that I will be talking about here.

I cannot run without music, I hate it, I hate hearing my breathing... so music helps with that plus makes the whole experience much more pleasurable.

If you get some good tunes on there it can really motivate you. A good beat can really push you and lift you when you are flagging.  I choose a mix of poppy stuff, dance stuff and some rock. I try to change my music regularly so I don't get bored.

I find Spotify is fab, if you pay for the full subscription of around £10 a month you can have any song you like on your playlist and can play them offline with no ads.

Nike Plus

This app is seriously my best running pal! You switch it on just as you head out the door, after programming in whether you want to focus on a distance or timed run. The app speaks to you, you can choose how often this happens. I like to know where I am after every quarter mile, it tells you the time and average pace so you can go a little faster if you wish.

Halfway through you get a little person speaking to you then the app starts to count down to tell you how long left. Then at the end you get a good 'well done' voice from famous american sports people (I presume they are I've never heard of them!) You can then log how you felt about the run with a little emoticon and what terrain you ran on.

The app logs all your runs and it is such a motivator to see the miles add up. I believe you can link to your friends etc and challenge each other but I'm not interested in this.  My Nike plus is linked to nobody else it is a record for me only.

Ankle exercises

Before each run I focus on loosening up my ankles. I get stiff sore ankles if I run a lot and it frustrates me. I guess I feel the strain of runs the most here so I make sure I do some targeted exercises before each run and it really helps.

Without shoes on I point my toes and spin my ankle round in a clockwise rotation for 15 turns on my big toe, then 15 anti clockwise and repeat on the other foot.

I then sort of jog on the spot without letting my feet leave the ground, so just lifting my heels up one at a time. I do 30 reps of this exercise too.  I then repeat the exercises both through a second time.
Following my run I always make sure I stretch each leg muscle carefully and a little stretch for my arms.

Wrist wallet

A new little purchase from here. Like what do you do with your door key when running? This is a question that has concerned me for ages... I used to either hold it, which annoys me or put it in a pocket on my coat or running tights and hear it jingle jangle for the whole run.

I love this little wrist wallet, perfect size just for my key and a little bit of money should you be popping to the shops on the way back.  My keys do not jingle around and I am confident they are safe in here zipped up and secure on my arm.

Sports bras

The amount of ladies I see running along with mega bouncy boobs (you can't fail to notice!) ugh, if I can feel my boobs bouncing around it is so uncomfortable and I can just imagine them being round my ankles the next time I take off my clothes... lol!

If you are blessed with big boobs get a decent bra, but my TOP tip is wear three! Seriously best running tip ever! I would never have thought to do this but read it somewhere... strap em in good and tight and they don't bounce.  I wear good bras, either the M&S extra high impact, I bought this one recently or Berlei Shock Absorbers, I adore this one yes they are pricey but so worth it! 

Recovery juice

Mark and I call this stuff  'recovery juice' but its not really! It's just a vitamin tablet really that you dissolve in water. You can buy the more expensive Berroca brand ones but I don't love the taste, I prefer these Sainsburys own ones.

I look forward to a large cold glass of this stuff all the way round. To be honest at this point this stuff is probably a placebo and I am getting what I need from the water on its own.   But I feel like this stuff gives me a little boost after my run and it just works for me.

Wireless headphones

Another relatively recent purchase. These are fab! Regular wired headphones annoy me no end... the wire always seems to work itself into the wrong place or if I have it stuck down my top it drags down and pulls on my ears, or gets twisted... just aaaargh!

So I invested in these recently and they are just fab! I am surprised by the quality of the sound with no wires. They work on your phone's bluetooth and the battery lasts ages and ages. I would really recommend some wireless headphones, anything to get rid of those little niggly running frustrations.

Altura cruisers

Now these lovelies are not the most flattering of running pant! They are actually a cycling trouser and I bought them for such.  However I put them on one particular cold day during my 'run every day in December' challenge and I have not looked back.

As I say they are not the most flattering, they are tight but not skin tight so kind of give you a lumpy, dumpy look to the legs, but who cares when you are running! Oh my but they are warm! They are also superb quality thick material.

Best of all with these babies is they have a draw cord waist, just perfect really! My usual running tights are from Nike, I have a few pairs and they have a tie cord waist.  This Nike tie cord waist is super difficult to get off also super difficult to get to the desired tightness so tights slip down gradually as you run... oh what a helpful feeling that is! grr.. But my Altura lovelies stay in place where I want them, and feel ever so toasty warm.


How is it possible for one part of your body to be feezing and turning blue yet another part of your body is boiling and sweating like mad? Well get out there running in winter and you will soon experience this weird phenomenon! Usually my extremities, such as nose and hands are freezing cold yet my top half and my forehead are sweating when running in winter.  

Gloves are always a good way to go this time of year, and I love these they are light weight, but do keep your fingers toasty on those frosty runs.

Hair slides
Yes it just makes me super happy when stray bits of hair blow around my face when I'm running, you tuck them back up quickly as you bob along but they just come out again.  Should I stop to fix my hair? Oh but I'm getting on for a PB and I really don't want to stop... oh but stray hair is sooo frustrating... haha.  A familiar battle for any runners with long hair surely?

I wear about 7 hair slides when I run.  I have a shoulder length bob with layers, so most of it goes up into a ponytail but those annoying loose ends I clip into multiple hair slides just to keep my sanity.

So what have I missed? What do you consider a running essential, that you simply cannot get out there on the pavements without? 

12 January 2016

I ran every day in December!

So yeah, I ran every day for the month of December, and I'm quite proud of that fact... Yes, yes even Christmas day and Boxing day too!
In my October and November monthly round up posts I recalled having only managed 2 runs per month and I was pretty fed up and frustrated with this, so decided to do something drastic!
I am interested in the idea of habits, more importantly changing habits recently and I watched this TED talk.  I was also inspired by all the vloggers and bloggers who did Vlogmas, the idea of doing something for 30 days or a long series of days and it suddenly popped into my head that I could run every day in December.
I had grand ideas of completing 5k runs each day and feeling so super energised and fit and being SO good at running by the end .. lol! It didn't quite turn out like that but there were certainly benefits.
During an ordinary week I battle with myself so much about getting my runs in.  I always start off the week really motivated and plan time in my diary to get in at least 3 runs... but then life gets in the way, you have a horrid day at work, you get no sleep, you simply just want to get home and dive into the duvet or work your way through a family sized bag of maltesers... don't even get me started on the weather! But some how all that went out the window in December and I just got on with it, no excuses!
So I didn't quite manage to do 5k (just over 3 miles) every day and probably averaged around 2 miles per run. Some days I only managed 1 mile.  But I think the main point was that I stuck to it, I kicked myself out the door despite the weather, despite being busy, being tired.. I just go on with it. It really does prove most of the time the excuses are just that.  
Yes I've blurred out my times, because sorry I'm not competing with anyone! I don't focus on speed I focus on mileage currently and I'm not the fastest runner. Plus, by the time I've got my app on, then my music, strapped the thing to me arm and got out the door an extra 5 mins are added to my time anyway, so it's not accurate! lol!
I like this image above though, taken from my Nike app, as it shows an average snapshot, some good runs there but also some short ones. I love how you pick a little emoticon to describe the run too, and it shows the weather.  But look at that, 65 miles I ran in December! Pleased with that one! 
So what did I learn from running every day in December?
  • Your legs will get tired! duh! So much for averaging 5k each run, boo! I started off strongly but then just couldn't get past the tired legs. I got quite frustrated with this, as I felt fit enough and my lungs were telling me I could continue but oh my legs were just screaming! I dropped down to 1 mile on the days when my legs were super tired, so I was still getting the runs in but without risking injury.
  • It is possible to run in the rain! We had some pretty interesting weather in December (you may have seen Cumbria developed a few more rivers and lakes than normal last month! eek!). Despite the weather I still ran every day, it is possible. I learnt that actually it is one of life's simple pleasures running in pouring rain, truly! I was mostly concerned for my iPhone, can't run without my music, but I developed a pretty good waterproof system for it.
  • Running before everyone wakes up makes you feel like a winner! My favourite time of day to run is in the mornings early before work, this means being out the door by 6am. There is nobody about, no cars so no long waits at roads, no dogs to trip over and no distraction. It feels like the whole city belongs to you. The best thing is that all day smug feeling that you got out there early and got in some big exercise whilst all the other lazy people were sleeping. Win!
  • It's easy to motivate yourself when you have committed to a goal! I enjoy setting myself goals and challenges and I think this always works quite well for me. I am not a competitive person at all, so the idea of competing against someone else, having to run faster, further is going to have the opposite effect but competing against myself is fine. I didn't want to make a big deal about my challenge so didn't massively shout about it (you know in case I failed miserably! haha) But I decided to tweet my runs most days so I felt a little bit accountable to myself and this worked.
  • Invest in lots of running kit! I had to buy quite a bit more kit to complete my challenge as I was literally washing running stuff every day and running out. I felt like I spent the whole month sweaty and stinking! haha. If you are going to work out regularly it is good to get a good stock of gear in, I love Sports Direct for running kit, you can get a good breathable t shirt for a fiver! And I buy men's T-shirts so they fit baggy rather than skin tight.
  • Sleep is good! I generally sleep quite well, but even when I don't get my usual 7 hours I tend to think I will be fine and still be able to function, how wrong was I! If I had a less than perfect night sleep my runs were awful. Sleep is probably the most important factor if you are going to run regularly.
  • The right fuel is essential for running! Yeah so December is not generally known as a healthy month for most. I was feeling super smug with all my exercise but I was still managing to stuff myself with chocolate and all the other festive treats... but running on a full belly or having binged on chocolate all day does not feel nice. Me and sugar have an interesting relationship, I tend to get a bit hyper if I eat lots and I really feel that in my runs, my heart beats faster and I can't cope.  It is important to think about my what I eat during the day if I am going to eat that evening or the morning after.

So to conclude then I really enjoyed my month and I am proud of myself for completing it, but will I be keeping it up and running daily from now on? erm, no!

I do not believe that running every day is that great for you. My runs since I stopped daily runs have been far better, faster, further and I feel a lot better and fitter for having breaks in between. You really do need breaks to help your muscles and joints recover.

It has taught me to not make excuses though, running is possible any time of day and in any weather and I just need to kick myself out there more. I am aiming for 3 good runs (of no less than 5k each) per week now.

Have you ever tried a 30 day challenge? Are you a runner, how often works best for you?

8 January 2016

2016 Goals & Resolutions

I've always made resolutions for the year ahead, for as long as I remember, setting goals, writing lists, planning etc this all makes me happy and keeps me focused. 

I've learnt my lesson over the years to not make stupidly un-achievable ones and I never get mad at myself for not completing them. Some of them I don't expect to complete and achieve they are there to keep me focused and to push myself a little.

So let's get started with a look back on my resolutions for 2015:

Blog More

I wanted to blog more in 2015 than I did in 2014, in 2014 I posted 50 times and in 2015 I blogged 67 times so that's certainly an improvement, not running out of blog inspiration yet...

Run 350 miles

I never used to measure or log runs until I discovered my Nike Runing app, so I had to settle on a number based on not much at all! 350 seemed good giving me an average of around 7 miles a week. My usual runs are around 3.5 miles so I thought 2 runs a week was probably manageable.

According to my Nike app I ran 273 miles in 2015, so average of about 5 miles per week.  Looking at my stats I am proud to see there are runs recorded for each month of the year, admittedly some months (Oct and Nov) have only a couple each but other months have many!

I may not heave reached 350 but that 273 there on my Nike app looks pretty good to me! That's like running from Carlisle to Oxford! :-)

Bike 500 miles

Similarly with running I have never logged my bike mileage so had to pick a random number.  We seemed to bike loads in 2014 so 500 didn't seem too much considering average rides out are about 15 miles.

I recorded my bike miles on a little GPS tracker which plugs into my computer, as I never take my phone biking - its far too likely to get muddy, wet and broken! Plus I hate the biking apps like Strava etc, I don't do competitiveness in any shape or form!

So... drum roll please... I biked a (very measly) 132 miles in 2015.  Boo! I'm more sad than disappointed in this, just means we have had so few biking adventures, for various reasons. This HAS to be rectified this year. 

Complete Total Warrior and Gelt Gladiator

Mark has done Total Warrior since it started and I've always gone to support him at the races and started to feel a little jealous.  Whilst these sorts of things look like a massive physical challenge you can't deny they also look like a hell of a lot of fun! Rolling around in thick mud, yes please!
So I said to myself this year I would do Total Warrior which is a 10k and many obstacles! Before I got it booked I noticed a new event on the Cumbrian mud obstacle race scene Gelt Gladiator, which is a bit more close to home and offered a 5k introductory event, perfect! So I signed up for Gelt Gladiator with my Friend Emma.  You can read about my experiences and see the hilarious photos here.

After Gelt I decided these events were not for me.  I like the running, I LOVE the mud but I don't have the desire to be strong enough to do the big walls and such like. I knew I would fail miserably at Total Warrior so I made the decision not to enter. I'm happy I've done a mud obstacle race though, it was a LOT of fun... I may even do Gelt Gladiator again this year.... we shall see....

Save up for my Summer holiday to NYC

Well my America/Canada trip this summer was certainly the most expensive holiday I've ever had, always worth it though! I'm useless at saving... but I am super proud of myself that I saved a fair bit of money in advance for this trip, goal done! wuhu! Now where's next?

Jo's 2016 Resolutions

So now we move onto a list of goals and resolutions for 2016.  I want to make a list that I can report upon each month as I have been doing in 2015 on my monthly round up posts....
So here they are...

Be Happy

Simple isn't it! Haha.  This is my priority and number 1! I am not unhappy but I know I can be happier, less anxious, less stressed, more motivated, more grateful and more present.
I'm going to delve into some books and YouTube vids on happiness and mindfulness. I'm going to get a bit hippy with some meditation and yoga and just dam well try my best to not have every other sentence out of my mouth be a negative one.  I shall report on my findings each month...

Run 350 Miles

Well this fits in with the above, running is my happy pills! If I can run more I will be sorted.  So the 350 stands at this year's goal as I didn't reach it in 2015, but was close... I think it is achievable for 2016.

Bike 500 Miles

Being on my bike is my happy place, doesn't matter where the bike happens to be, but sitting on that saddle (when in motion outside!!!) puts the biggest grin on my face.  Mark and I have agreed after our mega epic expensive holiday in 2015 we will focus on smaller trips and weekends away this year and hopefully some of them will include our bikes.

Sort out a car and drive it lots!

So I passed my driving test in 2015 which was awesome! Then I got a little car but kind of went backwards a bit and lost my confidence which I was endlessly guilty about, ugh.  Now little red car is sadly no more (sob sob!) and I haven't driven for months. I don't want to waste all the time and effort and built up confidence so I NEED to get back driving this year one way or another.

See friends and family lots more and have fun

I spend too much time alone! I live alone and sometimes I sit there and cannot be bothered to go out and do things and that's just poo! Family and friends are what life is about... so I will make things happen, I will initiate impromptu visits with friends, I will go spend time with my parents, nephews and siblings, and of course lots of quality time with Mark, I will, I will...

Spend less time looking at screens

I sit at a computer at work all day long, then stare at my phone my whole lunch break, get home and first thing I do, switch the laptop on and watch YouTube videos and internet TVs all evening, aaaargh! I then get frustrated I get nothing done. I wish to read actual books, I wish to go out of the house... I'm addicted to my phone and it has to stop! I want to live MY life not stare at other people's lives on screens.
So that's it, how will I get on when reflecting back this time next year? I love love love reading about other people's goals, so if you have made a resolution post, please do leave me a link below...