Operation Supervixen: November Goals

Hello everyone. It has been a while since I set myself some real goals to help keep me on track in my personal development journey. With October coming to an end (what, already?! HOW?!) I thought now was the perfect time to set myself some fresh goals to complete during November. At the end of November, I will update you all on my progress and get back into the habit of setting goals and writing progress reports on a monthly basis again.

  1. Take a packed lunch to work every day. This goal kills two birds with one stone: not only does it stop me spending extortionate amounts of money, but a lunch I've actually prepared myself is always going to be healthier than one I buy from the shop. 
  2. Have zero takeaways. Another goal which will be good for both my bank balance and health. This month I have had more takeaways than I care to admit to - despite the fact I can't afford it. Not only that but as much as a I love Domino's Pizza and dumplings, they aren't good for my waistline! This will be seriously tough to stick to, but I really need to start being tough on myself when it comes to this and I suspect my next goal might make it easier than it normally would be.
  3. Start a cleanse. Last month, I accidentally stumbled upon a cleanse programme that isn't just juice AND the recipes included actually appealed to me! When I look at most detox/cleanse programmes, I am horrified by how bland they are, or how obscure and inaccessible the ingredients are. However, the programme I will be undertaking has recipes that make my mouth water, an ingredient substitute guide (v. helpful for a fussy eater like me) and ingredients I've heard of - but it also has a guide of where to find all the ingredients anyway! I will be starting this programme on Monday 9th. I'd originally wanted to start on the 2nd, but I am away the weekend of the 7th and I knew I'd end up spoiling it before I'd even got started properly.
  4. Go to roller derby every week. This is with the exception of the first week, when I have other plans that night. So far in October, I haven't been to roller derby once and I am so annoyed and ashamed of myself. I would really like to turn over a new leaf in November and start going again. Every time I do make the effort I seriously enjoy it and it's such a good workout. 
  5. Workout on the weekends. I know, I know, weekends are meant to be 'time off.' However, I'm at work during the week - there's NO chance in hell I will get out of bed to workout properly before work and I am always far too tired when I get home (hence why I don't go to roller derby!) For a while I got into the habit of doing Blogilates videos on Saturdays and Sundays and now I need to get back into it. 
  6. Use my week off work in the middle of the month to breath some life back into this blog. Although I have finally started posting 2-3 times a week again alongside my shiny new blog design, I am still not very satisfied with this blog. I want to really revamp my content and posting schedule and not being at work is the perfect time to do it. Hoping to use the time to schedule content right up until the end of 2015, however my main focus is generating content I am really proud of again. 
So, six goals related to money saving, healthy eating, exercise and using my free time in a way that aligns with my values. I am feeling quite positive about these - although very nervous about number 2 - so looking forward to giving an update in a month's time!

What are your November goals?

What To Do When You Have "Nothing To Wear"

original image via Pixabay
OK, hands up who has ever said "OMG I have NOTHING to wear" while staring at their wardrobe which is, of course, full of clothes. I say it at least three times a day. I'm in a massive style rut, the majority of my clothes no longer fit me and I can't afford to replace them and the clothes that do fit me, I can't stand anymore. Last time my boyfriend and I went to the cinema, I nearly had a full on meltdown because I just "couldn't" find a date night appropriate outfit that made me feel how I wanted to feel - I almost cancelled on him because of it. Obviously, this is no way to live, so I've sat down and written myself an action plan to fall back in love with my own personal style again. Naturally, I thought I'd share it on the blog because I know I'm not the only person who faces this problem!

Step One
Clear your bed and make a lot of space. Empty your wardrobe. Empty your drawers. Empty anywhere that you store clothes and make sure you don't forget any laundry that's been hung up to dry for the past three weeks either. You need all your clothing in one place if this mission is going to be a success.

Step Two
Begin organising your mass of clothing into separate piles.: keep, sell, donate and chuck - that last pile there should be reserved only for items that are so far gone beyond repair that there's no hope left for them. You must be brutal and honest in this step! It's time to be honest about clothes that don't fit you and clothes you said you were going fix six months ago but never did. If you haven't sewn those buttons back on by now, you won't ever do it! Make sure mildy imperfect items and things that do not fit you are either in the sell or donate pile. Hang on to the sell and donate piles for now, but get rid of that chuck pile as soon as you can!

Tip: When doing a clear out, I find it's much easier and better for the soul to donate most items. However, when items are a certain brand or still have tags on them, it can be quite profitable to sell them - try Facebook groups first to avoid nasty fees!

Step Three
Now, sort these piles down even further - you want each type of clothing in a different pile - so, dresses, skirts, trousers, tops, playsuits and even your knickers and your bras ladies in their own individual pile. My reasoning behind this will become clearer at a later stage in the process.

Step Four
Now, let's focus our attention on the clothing in your keep pile. This should now only consist of clothes you actually wear on a regular basis or items you love so much you can't bear to get rid of them in anyway way. For the clothes you actually wear regularly: why do you wear these pieces so often: do they fit? Are they comfy? Easy to style? For the clothes you do not wear regularly but don't want to get rid of: Are they reserved for special occasions? Or are you just clueless about what to wear it with? 
Step Five
Using the clothes in your keep pile, write down a list of failsafe outfits, ones you know you can always fall back on if you want to look good and feel confident. If you have a lot of dresses, this is great because dresses = instant outfit. Now put your failsafe items and outfits right back in your wardrobe.

Step Six
You should now be left with the clothes you never wear but want to keep and the items you want to sell or donate. If the reason you never wear these items is because they're for special occasions, I think it's perfectly alright to pop it back in your wardrobe now. Everybody needs special outfits for special times! Now: lay out all your tops in one line, and all your bottoms (trousers, skirts, shorts etc.) in another line underneath. This is why I had you separate all your piles into invidual types of clothing. Do you see any potential matches? Laying out your clothes next to each other is a great way to visualise new outfits. You might think the reason you never wear your gorgeous blouse is because you have nothing that goes with it, but when you lay it next to a pretty little skirt, you might find the two are a match made in heaven! I've had you include you sell and donate piles in this exercise because you might be about to get rid of an item your wardrobe really needs.

Step Seven
Now, try on all your potential matches from Step Six. If they look good, add a note to your failsafe outfits list, and then pop the items in your wardrobe. Your wardrobe should now be full of great outfits that you love and on your bed you should only have your sell, donate, and what the hell do I wear this with items. Put your sell and donate items to one side and focus all your attention on the lonely clothing. Can you envision anything that will go with these items of clothing? If you wardrobe is just missing some essential basics, make sure you write these down and grab them on your next shopping trip. If it's just one of those items that doesn't go with anything at all, it's time to suck it up, and add it to the sell or donate pile.

Step Eight
Haul your donate bag to your charity/sister of choice and get listing those sell items wherever you choose!

Hopefully you now have a wardrobe full of clothing that fits you and is totally wearable. Not to mention you've got a list of outfits you know make you feel good, so make sure you hang onto that for days when you just can't decide what to wear!

If you enjoyed this post and/or found it useful, please do let me know as I am thinking of turning it into a full series about building a wardrobe full of clothes you really love and developing your own personal style.

Operation Supervixen: Where I'm At

Operation Supervixen is my own personal transformation programme. In June 2015, I decided I was utterly fed up of being miserable, unwell and feeling like I wasn't reaching my full potential in life. To combat this, I decided I was going to radically transform my diet, maintain an exercise routine and centre my leisure activities around personal development. To keep me accountable and help others in the process, I started Operation Supervixen

Hello everyone! As I took a little break from blogging during September, my Operation Supervixen kinda ground to a halt so I thought today I'd take the time to update you all on where I'm at. I find it suprisingly motivating publishing honest accounts of my personal development journey online; accountability really is key when you want to make a positive change.

For the past month or so, I've really let myself go again. There's just something about this time of year that makes everything seem ten times more difficult and I really struggle with my mental health once it starts getting colder and darker. My emotions, my approach to healthy eating and the ways in which I have been spending my free time have been a total rollercoaster. One day I will have a green smoothie for breakfast, a vegetable based soup for lunch and a healthy dinner, the next I will eat a sharing size bag of Doritos and not much else. One day I will go above and beyond my to do list at work, then come home and clean my flat from top to bottom. The next I will spend the entire day wrapped in my duvet on my sofa and watch an entire series of a TV show.

I'm currently trying to find that ever-important balance between self care and not being too hard on myself, and knowing when it's time to give myself a kick up the bum and make a bit more effort. I know I find Autumn and Winter particularly difficult on my health, which in turn affects every aspect of my life, but I also know that I can't spend from September-early March hidden away and doing nothing of value.

Thankfully, it's not all bad news. Against all odds, I have not had a cigarette since May and I am so proud of myself for this. I haven't lost as much weight as I want to - I keep losing the same two kilograms just to put them back on again - but I have managed to keep an entire two kilograms off since I reached my heaviest ever weight. I have also been sticking with my driving lessons, which quite frankly, if I achieve nothing else this year, it'll be fine, because taking this step is going to have such a positive impact on my life.

Now that I am easing myself back into blogging again, I am hoping to keep up with the Operation Supervixen series. Alongside monthly updates and goals posts, I want to review the personal development books I read and the courses I take and share any useful lessons I learn along the way so you can benefit from them too.

If you have any tips on staying positive and keeping up with a mentally and physically healthy lifestyle during the colder seasons, I'd love for you to share them!

The Lazy Girl's Guide To Cooking

image via Pixabay
I don't know about you, but as much as I love cooking, I am often too exhausted after work to do it. The last thing I want to do is spend an hour prepping, then an hour actually cooking and then finish off my evening slaving over the sink washing 49395820 pots and pans up. Thankfully, I've found there's a few ways around the most annoying bits of cooking and I thought I'd share them with you today. I've called this the Lazy Girl's Guide to Cooking, but really, it applies to anyone with fatigue issues (like myself) or people who just want to save some time without resorting to unhealthy options like takeaways and ready meals.

Have numerous one pot recipes on hand
Hands down the worst parts of eating home cooked food is the washing up afterwards! I don't know what I will do if I ever have someone besides myself to clean up after! To get around this issue, I've found that one pot recipes are the best way to minimise clean up time. I recommend having a variety of different ones to hand at all times so whenever you're feeling like you CBA when it comes to doing the dishes, you can still cook yourself something good.

Batch cook and use your freezer
This is obviously a classic cooking tip, whether you're wanting to save time, or money or just generally be more efficient in the kitchen. Sadly, I don't actually have a freezer at the moment so I can't utilise this tip myself which makes it seem all the more valuable to me. If, like me, you love to cook at weekends because you have the energy to do so, but when it comes to weeknights, work has sapped the life out of you, having ready made meals is such a good option. *runs off to buy a freezer*

Buy your veg pre-chopped
Often, it's not the thought of cooking itself that has me groaning, but more the thought of prepping the ingredients. There are so, so, so many vegetables you can get your hands on today that are already ready to go - why not make cooking a little bit easier on yourself?

Use ground ginger/garlic/chili or those handy little paste tubes you can get
Sadly, using ground ingredients will probably not have the same nutritional benefits, but they still pack a good punch of all-important flavour. I love ginger but I find it so damn fiddly and annoying to prepare the fresh stuff so with certain recipes, I am much happier to just use the paste or ground stuff.

Plan your meals around your commitments
On Thursday evenings, I head to roller derby straight after work and so I know already there is no chance of me cooking a full meal from scratch when I get in. In order to avoid caving in to my takeaway craving or buying a dreadful ready meal, I try my hardest to cook a proper meal on Wednesday night and save the leftovers for Thursday evening.

Consider a service like Hello Fresh
In my last blog post, I talked about the Hello Fresh recipe box subscription had reignited my passion for cooking again. These boxes have a number of benefits for lazy girls: they take away the hard work of deciding what on earth to have for tea, they bring all the ingredients you need right to your door, and mostly, they are already in the quantities you require.

Hello Fresh Box [Product Review]

For the first 18 years of my life, I was a fussy eater. For the first 18 years of my life, I didn't cook. There's no need to cook when the only thing you will eat is Frazzles. However, I soon realised there's more to life than delicious bacon flavoured, bacon shaped crisps and the more I began to eat, the more I began to cook.

As it turns out, despite my slow start, I am a really good cook and I actually enjoy it. However, more recently, I've fallen out of love with cooking. I'd convinced myself the last thing I want to do when I get home from work was slave away over the stove, "wasting" time. 

I'd known about Hello Fresh for ages as my family quite like it, but I'd never taken the plunge myself. I'd even had a few £20 off vouchers at my disposal but I'd never quite got round to ordering myself a box. Then, one day, I received a voucher for £20 off my first AND second boxes. Suddenly, I decided it was time.

For those who aren't in the know, Hello Fresh is a weekly delivery box containing recipes and all the ingredients required to cook these recipes. One of the things I'd be struggling with each night was simply deciding what to cook, and these boxes took that stress away from each night. I was also hoping that having the exact ingredients in the right quantities ready and waiting for me would make cooking feel like less of a chore. 

Sadly, the ingredients don't always come in exactly the right quantities. One week I received a humongous bag of kale when I only required a handful for the recipe and personally, I find the pasta/noodle quantities are always a little excessive. I was also a little bit miffed when during my second week, I was charged full price for my box when it was meant to be £20 off.

Thankfully, my criticisms end there! When I rang up to ask why my voucher hadn't been taken into account, the staff were not only incredibly friendly, but also really helpful and my refund actually arrived in my bank account the next day, hooray. 

The food itself was absolutely great. I haven't made handmade burgers since I was in university and they turned out so well. It was the meal I was looking forward to least but it probably ended up being my favourite. The beef stir fry was so full of flavour, whereas the aubergine pasta was much spicier than anything I'd normally cook but I enjoyed it so much I want to be a bit more daring with chili now because I can handle a bit more than I thought.

I was also really impressed by the quality of the ingredients you are provided with. All the tinned food I received was organic, and I noticed that all the cuts of meat were practically fat free - much better than those I can pick up in the supermarket. The veg was always fresh and I really love the cute little spice pots you get. The packaging is great too - there's ice packs in there so I was confident that it was still fresh and in good condition when my box got to me.

All in all, I have been really, really pleased with my Hello Fresh experience, I have finally fallen back in love with cooking. I'd definitely got too comfortable with my eating habits - I was either getting takeaway or cooking the same bland, boring recipes over and over again, but now, I feel refreshed and inspired again.

If you're interested in trying Hello Fresh yourself, you can use this code XC33EW to get £20 off your first box (must be a new customer). This post isn't sponsored but if you do use that code I get £12 off my next box as well :) (please don't share this code elsewhere or neither of us will get the discount!!)

Forever Living Aloe Vera Gel Drink [Product Review]

A few weeks ago, my friend Sophie from university contacted me letting me know she's signed up as a Forever Living representative and did I want to try any products. As someone who knows only too well how great network marketing is, I was happy to support her. After finding out which her favourite products were, I decided to give the Aloe Vera Gel a try!

Here's some of the benefits of drinking aloe vera:
  • It contains 19 of the 20 amino acids required by the human body, and seven of the eight that the human body can't produce by itself, helping to promote overall health
  • Contains numerous vitamins and minerals
  • Good for gut flora (I am always on the lookout for products that help with this because when my stomach is in good condition, so is my skin!)
  • Can aid digestion
  • Can help with bowel movements
So, how was it?

First thing's first, let's get this out of the way: it tastes awful. There's no two ways about it. However, when chased with a pint of water it's bearable and I've heard reports of people getting completely used to it or mixing it with fruit juice to make it more tolerable. Thankfully you don't need to drink a lot to get the benefits, just two of shots pictured above, so I was willing to look past it.

The first thing I noticed when I started using this daily is how settled my stomach became. I have a lot of tummy troubles, partly because of my poor diet, partly because when I make the effort to be healthy, my body doesn't know what the hell is going on. For the period of time where I was drinking the aloe vera gel first thing every morning, all my tummy issues just vanished. My stomach felt very settled with none of the issues I usually have.

Secondly, I really appreciated how convenient this little drink is. It came with a handy little measuring cup and all I had to do was get up in the morning, walk to the fridge, pour my cup, shot it, and repeat. As we all know, I am constantly trying to improve my health and I'm always on the look out for products that will help me out with this. A lot of the supplements I've tried have just been fiddly and annoying. They require lots of preparation and just don't fit into my day properly. The Forever Living Aloe Vera Gel however was a habit I was able to get into straight away.

Best of all, the results I saw, my settled stomach and towards the end of my trial, overall improved wellbeing, came quickly. I wasn't hanging around wondering whether the nasty taste was worth it or not, because I knew it was working almost right away. I think this little drink makes a great companion to a healthy lifestyle.

If you are interested in trying Forever Living products for yourself, you can contact Sophie at sophie.fraser@live.co.uk or visit her website.

Pretties in the Post: Prairie Charms Prairie Pizzazz Box

A few months ago, I noticed that Prairie Charms were on the hunt for bloggers to join their Prairie Pizzazz blogging team. Having worked with the brand before, I jumped at the chance to get some more discount goodies from them. I've long been after a subscription box I can get on board with, but unfortunately, beauty boxes are just a no-go for me while more lifestyle based boxes just miss the mark with me.

Prairie Pizzazz is a subscription box with a difference. A lovely, feminine mix of hair accessories, jewellery, lifestyle pieces and yes, even edible goods - it is exactly the kind of box I've been needing in my life.

When my Luau Party themed box landed on my desk at work, it took all my willpower not to tear it open then and there. Just the wonderful flamingo print tape it was wrapped in was enough to get me excited. After what seemed like an eternity, it was time to go home and as soon as I hopped in the car, I tore it open.

The first thing that caught my eye, of course, was my bespoke floral headband. The dedication of the Prairie Charms team never ceases to amaze me, they actually gave everyone who ordered the box a unique floral garland piece. It's safe to say, I was not disappointed with mine. It seems as sturdy as a flower crown can be and I love the mix of colours. It's different to the other floral headbands I own, without being something totally "not me" and I can't wait for a suitable occasion to wear it out of the house.

Thankfully, the rest of my box matched up to the expectations set by my "lei." I adore the tropical print scrunchie, the shell hair clip is right up my street and I've been after some non-damaging hair ties for ages. I was also super pleased with my flamingo drinks set. The straws and stirrer are great for a summer BBQ with tasty, tropical fruity drinks in jam jar glasses!

Full Box Contents:
Caterina 'No Snag' Knot Ties
Acadia Tropical Punch Drink Set
Hana Bow Tie Scrunchie
Paloma Vintage Bead Drop Anklet
Eda Bespoke Floral Lei
Dakota Custom Nail Glitter
Una Coconut S'more Snack Pack
Faryn Hair Clips

Overall, I am so pleased with my first Prairie Pizzazz Box, I jumped right on board with the next one, and the Christmas box as well. I can't wait to see what the next one holds. I won't give it away, but the theme sounds perfect for me. 

Royal Berkshire Show 2015

Around a month ago, I attended the Royal Berkshire County Show for the first time. This was a pretty big deal for me because even since before I moved down South, James has been promising to take me to this event! My expectations were super high because he'd built it up so much and I was amazed when this year, he pulled up outside my flat and I realised that this year, it was actually happening, we were attending the show!

Because James had made such a big deal about the Berkshire Show, I was worried that once I actually got there it was going to be a bit rubbish, but thankfully, it ended up being such a wondeful day. It's because I had such a good time that I decided to blog about it anyway, despite it being about a month ago!

Besides lots and lots of interesting farm animals, there were a variety of eagles and other birds of prey, ferret racing, donkeys, otters and many more. 

I particularly enjoyed the tent full of plants. The bonsai trees were amazing and I loved the cacti. There were some really cute floral arrangements as well, which I've shared above. 

Of course, there's shopping at the event too! I spent at huge amount of time drooling overs cars (I had to be pulled away from the Fiat stand as I was in immediate danger of purchasing a Fiat 500 as my first car) and giant garden structures like a BBQ hut. My actual purchases were a bit more sensible: a scarf, a nail stamping kit and some bath bombs.

All in all I had a really good day. There was a lot to see and do, plus the weather was GLORIOUS so I got some much needed Vitamin D and exercise. If you're in the area next year I thoroughly recommend going!


Original image via Pixabay
If you asked me to sum up my life in one word at the moment it would be dissatisfying. Once again, the season is changing, it is getting colder, it is dark when I wake up, there is less sunshine and with all this, my mood drops and drops and drops.

For around the past six weeks or so, everything has felt like a struggle for me. Getting out of bed, keeping up with basic hygiene, going about my daily tasks and even enjoyable things like creativity, blogging and reading. Even TV can barely hold my attention, although my Netflix subscription becomes my best friend in times like these when my energy levels slump.

Naturally, this lack of ability to do anything leaves me feeling very dissatisfied. At the moment I hate the way I look, I hate the way I dress, I hate how much I weigh, I hate my diet, I hate my (lack of) exercise routine, I hate the books I read, I hate(d) my blog. I hate a lot of others things that sadly, I can't vent about without it having dire consequences.

It's tough when you feel like this because you've got two options. You can give into the slump and watch your mood get lower and lower, or you can take action to change it. Quite obviously, the best option is to take some action, but even that is an uphill battle because, err, how are you meant to do anything when you completely and utterly lack energy and motivation?

At the weekend, I sat down and I wrote a list (an unfortunately, very long, A4 list in which words covered the entire page) of everything I hate about my life right now. Then, I wrote a list of things I could actually change. Then, I wrote a list of things I really want in life. Thankfully, there were some things I could change. Nothing that will have the immediate gratification I crave, but enough that I could finally see some baby steps to take and start improving my satisfaction with life again.

Naturally, one area I knew I could improve was my blog - it wasn't just the content I was creating that was driving me a bit mad, it was also my blog design. As I hope you can see, I've redesigned my blog and I am now much happier every time I take a little peek at my blog. As it's October, I added a teeny tiny Halloween-related twist to my header and I really, really love it.

Revamping my content is something I've been saying I will do since the beginning of the year. I want to improve and become a lot more consistent with posting but given how up and down my mood and motivation levels are at this time of year, I am not going to make the mistake of promising that this post marks the start of a new beginning as I have done way too many times in the past.

As for the rest of the improvements I am making, I intend to blog about those in my Operation Supervixen series. Annoyingly one of the biggest things I am in the process of sorting out is something I absolutely cannot talk about publicly (yet, anyway) but my new approach to healthy eating and how I drag myself out of my annual Autumn/Winter slump (hopefully) should make pretty interesting and useful content.

So am I back? Is this another new beginning for both me and my blog? Who knows? We'll see.