My house’s journey in 2013 – from salon to normality

Loads of people do reviews of their life for the previous year, I’m going to do a review of my house’s life last year.

For the first quarter of the year I saw lots of my house because I was still getting to grips with my Fibromyalgia – I basically needed a jolly good rest.  Gradually it brought me the healing I needed and I started to recover.

Then suddenly at the end of May we had a meeting with my friend and hair dresser Tony and a plan I’d had for over 10yrs suddenly burst into life.

Having never designed a thing in my life, I became an upcycling/eBay queen and went on a crash course on Salon and Spa equipment.  I wasn’t just designing a small hairdressers, Oh no!  I was going the full hog and designer a 1700sqft cow shed into a Spa.

The cows moved out and we started with this:

Spa Treatments

Then walls went in and it got a front and back!

Building a salon in radlett

But of course I was ordering stuff like crazy and although some stuff could wait until the Salon/Spa was secure, the majority had to come to our house.

There were extra chairs in the bedroom, and we had to religiously keep the cats out, because look how comfy they all were:

Haircuts for kids Radlett

Holistic Hairdresser Radlett

The landing was full, the kitchen had a LOT of extra stools ….

Hairdresser Radlett

Vintage Beauty Salon Radlett

There was no room for the kids to play in the lounge or playroom:

Mumpreneur hertfordshire

Upcycling projects bloggers

Upcycling hair salon

Plus for a couple of weeks the place was full of hairdressers or beauty therapists for the induction training – love them, but it was a bit cramped!

Literally overnight (we got 24hrs to do the final polish of the salon before our open day) this was created:

Espiritu Hair Beauty Salon

With crazy people like this in it …

Vintage hair and beauty salon Radlett

Check out this video of our opening day to have a look around:

One of the rooms wasn’t sure what it wanted to be, but in November the ‘Fabulous Room’ arrived – the perfect location to combine friends, family and CAKE!

Pamper Parties Hertfordshire

I went slightly stir crazy I must admit during those months!  It took 2 months to get the place back to normal and clean all the dust that was hiding under or behind everything, so I had only just got it sorted before Christmas.

I was working constantly in between nursery/school pickups, and then until midnight most nights.  My Fibromyalgia did get very grumpy with me, but I just about managed to hold it together with some pampering from our lovely team.  I’m beginning to see the woods for the trees now!

We’ve stopped using Cbeebies as a nanny and I’m starting to remember how to play with Barbie again (now that we can find her).  That’s probably what inspired my post last year about the ‘Three Best Gifts To Give Your Loved Ones’, as attention and rest have been limited.  Over the last 2 weeks I’ve done a massive declutter of the house and tackled the playroom and I’m much happier with how everything works – I LOVE space!

I’ve also had to clear out one of the bedrooms rooms for our new Spanish Au Pair who arrived this weekend – woohoo!  The reality of the demands of being a business owner and that I’ve had help from a friend staying on and off, and a husband available hit home at Christmas – there was no way I was going to be able to cope and juggle things.  So that’s going to be a big change for the house as well.

What an amazing year, and the journey has only just begun for Espiritu!

Kirstie Allsopp Britmumslive

Can you really upcycle if you aren’t Kirstie Allsopp?

Kirstie Allsopp Britmumslive
Kirstie Allsopp Britmumslive

Yay, the summer holidays are over, so I was back over with the gorgeous Danny Smith on Radio Verulam today.  Listen again here.

I thought I’d share what I’ve been doing all summer – embracing the Kirstie Allsopp revolution!

I love the whole crafting/upcycling revolution that has been birthed by the recession.  I believe that creativity is good for the soul, even if you aren’t a natural at it.  Plus it SAVES MONEY!  Money which can be spent on other stuff, or that can keep us out of debt.  So it’s a good plan!

The question is, how to go about it if you don’t have a natural eye or lots of experience?

Rather than start small, I decided to ‘go for it’ and see wether it is possible to create a vintage inspired Hairdressing salon/spa in Hertfordshire in 4 months, from as much upcycled stuff as possible.  I think seeing Kirstie at Britmumslive, may have meant I got a little carried away!

I can’t tell you wether I succeeded or not yet, as it’s 2 weeks to opening – OMG!  But I reckon we could have pulled it off, so here are my tips …

(I’ll add the audio in a couple of days)



Create a plan …

1) Pinterest

I started out on Pinterest and started pinning things that I liked the look of to do with vintage, hair and beauty.  This means that you don’t lose things and that you start to get a feel for what you are creating.

2) Mood board

I’m not sure if my ‘mood board’ could really be called one, because it doesn’t look cool like the professionals.  However, whenever I produced it at a meeting people seemed to make ‘impressed’ faces, so maybe it wasn’t so bad.  Basically it is a big piece of card with lots of pictures stuck on it in the different areas.

3) Theme

Eventually you will come up with a theme; mine was vintage glamour.  Yours might be ‘princess’ for a bedroom, you see what I mean?  Don’t worry about sticking to only one era – you can definitely mix and match.  It’s more to do with the feel of things (I asked professionals and they agreed with me about this).  I still love Ikea, especially the cupboards or shelving systems where they are all movable or modular.


Places to buy

There are lots of places to go and buy lovely second hand pieces now a days:
  • Freecycle
  • Facebook groups
  • Charity shops
  • Furniture charity shops
  • Antiques Fairs
  • Auctions
  • Vintage shops
  • Homesense!
Yes, Homesense isn’t old or second hand, but the cost of buying a chair and refurbishing it was beyond my budget.  This is where you will sometimes need to be practical!
Sometimes a vintage shop might help you out if you give them a buying list.  Or my local vintage shop Hertfordshire Collective, offered to take me to auctions and show me how they worked.
Remember to give back – don’t hold onto stuff you don’t need for the next 10yrs.  Hand it over to someone else on freecycle or in a charity shop and spread the love!
Paint can cover a thousand sins and make things match, so don’t worry about something looking a little rough.  We bought the roughest looking playhouse in the summer (I thought it was beyond saving) and with a bit of care and paint it looks amazing.
Plus new material or cushions can make pieces of furniture look extra special; check out my review of Homespun Living’s courses and my gorgeous cushion.

eBay Tips

  1. The buzz from winning is addictive, be warned!
  2. Check sellers for their listings to see if they have something else that works for you too.
  3. Check sellers for their reviews/ratings
  4. Don’t buy everything at once, it creates chaos when trying to manage collection – I had a week of chaos trying to work out the collection plan!
  5. Use the mobile app as it’s much better than the site (Little dimples still naps on my lap every other day, so that was my eBay time)
  6. Watch things you are interested in that might work, but don’t bid or panic straight away
  7. Check to see how many people have bid or are watching – that will decide how carefully you will need to play your strategy
  8. When you bid, put a bid in of an unusual amount e.g. £76.78
  9. Look for the location – expensive items can be sent by shipley, otherwise look for 25 miles for big stuff and 10 miles for small stuff
  10. If it’s a big item that needs shipping, look in a cheaper part of the country e.g. Scotland or devon
  11. Be warned there are professionals on there – that won’t save you any money, especially when it comes to furniture
  12. Second hand is where it is at!
  13. Paint can fix a thousand problems
  14. You can do a lot with a simple cushion design
  15. Ask about wood worm if you are buying something wooden, and spray anything if it looks suspect


  1. Extra work of painting and fixing
  2. It takes longer to research
  3. It takes more imagination than going into a shop and buying their range
  4. No guarantees
  5. Hitting deadlines when things go wrong
I might be a bit quiet on social media for the next couple of weeks as we have our pre-launch at Folkstock Festival, then our Open Day on Sat 28th (come and have a look if you are local! and then we open on Mon 30th.  But as soon as I can I will share photos so that you can see for yourself wether we pulled it off.
Personally I’m inspired and rather addicted.  I will always check the second hand option now before jumping on the ‘new’ bandwagon.  It’s taken a lot of work, but it’s saved thousands and thousands of pounds and feels really satisfying.  I could have done more if I’d had more time, but there were some things that we just had to be practical with.
Right, off to do some more preparation work!
Agony Aunt for Mums

Problem Corner – How to ask for help when you have been self-sufficient?

Agony Aunt for Mums
Agony Aunt for Mums


I’m so glad that this regular reader of my blog has asked this question, partially because she ACTUALLY asked and partially because it’s brilliant.

How DO you ask for help, when you’ve been self-sufficient and looking after yourself for 60yrs?  

But at the same time helping others and helping your community?

Here is her full question:

I have a subject you might want to write about, it’s how to ask for and to receive help.  You are the first person I am asking for help.  My husband will go home from the hospital tomorrow.  As you know he will need my close attention for several weeks as he recovers from 7 broken ribs and a broken wrist and we need to avoid pneumonia by walking and getting him to breath as deeply as possible.  I am not working so I am available 24/7.  Still it is a lot to cook, clean, care for him around the clock and try not to worry about money.

I have a couple of communities of people that he and I are involved in, but not many close friends.  I have always been self sufficient and since I am a person who has devoted myself to my family and I recharge by being alone, I have not had to ask for help much.  I do enjoy cooperation and I do help other people when ever I can, but again I am not a really social person.

So now I will need help and I want to receive it.  I feel fear about it.  I fear being viewed as thoughtless, inconsiderate or something else undesirable because I ask for something wrong or make an assumption somehow, or put someone out and they feel uncomfortable.  I can’t be responsible for other people’s responses, but I am not perfect either and may make mistakes.

I don’t know what is okay to ask for.  Food seems okay, but there are four people in my house (my husband and I, my 32 yr old son and my 11 year old granddaughter).  Should I just suggest a pot of soup?  Not everyone knows there are four people to feed, do I have to say it or just be grateful for whatever they bring to share?  How do I handle this when they volunteer to bring food or when I want to ask for them to cook something?

What work should I do and leave for others to do while I sit with and care for my husband; mow the lawn, watering my flower pots and garden, cook, clean the bathroom, do the dishes?  I feel caring for him myself is my top work priority.  Seems icky to ask someone else to clean the bathroom.  Yes, my son will do some of the housework, but his idea of keeping house is a lot different than mine.  I am thinking of asking my son to take on keeping track of the meds and doing most of the walking with him (my husband cannot fall with his ribs broken).  My husband is walking fairly well, but we must be careful.

I get embarrassed if my house is dirty and cluttered when people come, and it is not an easy house to keep clean because it is over crowded, cluttered and needs new paint and flooring in the kitchen and bath so it looks dirty easily.  I feel the state of the house reflects on me.  How can I get myself not to feel ashamed or embarrassed?

Could you please give me some advice?  Maybe your advice could help others as well and maybe even you your self.


The Gift Of Asking

The right present

Lovely, lovely J, from your posts, and questions I know that you help out the community a lot.  But you have not been giving your community the gift of a chance to help you!  This is not fair to them.

Think about it this way, by helping you they get:

  1. A guilt free chance of asking you for help in future.
  2. Or asking someone else in the world of ‘what comes around goes around’.
  3. The satisfaction of knowing that they have a purpose and did something useful.
  4. The opportunity to get closer to you


Not Being Really Social

Call us!

Don’t be daft – you built up a friendship with me over the internet having not even met me!  We are all social, in our own ways.

I know a lovely mummy blogger who believes she is not social (in fact several will now be wondering if I’m talking about them, as there are so many!).  But she is ‘social’.  Maybe she doesn’t go out lots, but has an active community online.  Maybe she is nervous and shy, but nervous and shy people make good friends.

In fact the other day I purposely called my ‘not social’ brother, because he is just that – quiet, reflective and a listener.  I’m not sure that he actually said much, but do you know what; talking is very over-rated!


Being Judged For Asking

Rubbish Mummy Cook
Rubbish Cook in ‘real life’ action

People who are nervous of asking for help will probably judge you.  In fact 50% of the world will always be judging you negatively.

Focus on the ones who wont be upset about it, and who will be chuffed by it – look at me, despite being up to my eyeballs, I’m so chuffed you asked, that I have written a blog post immediately for you.

The people who would judge you are frankly pants (hmm I think pants are trousers in american – I mean knickers!).  Smack your hand every time your worry about them, because they are not worth it!

It is not something to be proud of that you are capable of doing everything!  It’s not good for you!

Yes, there are people who I feel ask too much.  It’s when they ask, and then don’t make any changes to their lives that I get tired of it.  Or when they moan, but don’t want to do anything about it.  This is not what you are doing; you have a specific reason, specific problem, and need specific help.  It’s not like you are intending on throwing him off the roof once he is better so that you can do it all again!


Who To Ask and What To Ask For

Chance for a cuppa
Cup Of Tea and a chat is good for the soul

Keep an open mind on who to ask for help.  And regularly journal how you are feeling so that you can work out what the problem actually is.

For example, asking me is a perfect way to ask for help over the internet.  Keep doing that – we might not be able to offer practical assistance, but if we can reduce your emotional burden it will all go a lot more easily.  Plus you can ask for healing and prayers, which have been proved to help massively.

YOUR SON – it’s not helping him to let him get away with not understanding what you mean about housework.  He is a grown man.  So sit down and have a think about it and write very specific lists.  When things are specific about what to do and what the end result should be, he should be able to get it.  Yes, it is ideal to work to his strengths, but don’t let him get away with that male excuse of ‘oh but I’m not really any good at it’!  If you think that he will absolutely keep your husband from falling, especially as he is stronger than you, then this is a good job for him.  However, the role of carer and the forethought required is difficult; if he doesn’t have that skill then he will have to do the practical things.

Your grand daughter – I ran a whole household (3 brothers 20yrs older than me) when I was 10yrs old and cared for my sick mum; this was too much, but do not underestimate the self-esteem and experience she can gain from doing really helpful things around the house.  She can cook, she can tidy, she can clean, and she can help your husband keep his spirits up.

Your community:  I would ask for rest bite – times when people come to watch over your husband for an hour every week so that you get some time to YOURSELF.  Otherwise you will only make matters worse by getting sick yourself!  It is also wise to find new friends at any time of life, in fact it’s something I’ve been focussing on for the last 6 months and I can tell you it’s been a wonderful boon to me.

Food – a great idea.  All you need to say is that if anyone could possible help in the next few weeks, you could really do with some soups, casseroles, stews, pies etc for ‘My family and myself’ – at that point they should realise that they are making for more than 2 people and give you a bit more.  Weren’t you involved in a local food community?  Is there a chance that there are people growing lovely vegetables and fruit that they could bring round for your son and grand daughter to cook?



Getting our kids to do their chores
Hoover that floor child!

Yes, you will have to reduce your requirements of what gets done and how often.  Again see the ‘pants’ comment above for anyone who would dare to judge your house whilst you are nursing your husband.

Here is a list to give you an idea:

Bathrooms – once per week.
Kitchen worktops – every day.  Rest of kitchen – once per week.
Hoovering – if you don’t have animals like mine, I bet you can just hoover half the house every other week.
Dust – seriously, dust just comes back!  It doesn’t need doing every week.
Bedrooms – definitely can get away with once a month at a pinch.

But you do have the right to space.  You do have the right to ask your son and grand-daughter to keep their stuff in their space.  For example, you could ask that the main ‘visiting’ areas are on a daily basis cleared of ‘stuff’; the hallway and kitchen perhaps?

Tackle the decluttering later – I can help you with that too!



Is it possible to have romance and kids?
A hug

Just so you know you are not the only one, I have written about asking for help before.  These posts might help:

Be careful the types of people you ask for help, they aren’t all ‘ideal’.

A time when I needed a mate to help brainstorm a problem and reduce my stress.

A time when I had to ask for help from in-laws and strangers

A time when I felt guilty about asking for help


I’m so glad and touched you asked!  Give other people that chance to help you and get close to you.  Remember:

No man is an island!  (Or woman for that matter!).


To my readers: do you have any tips or similar experiences that you can share with J?




Our Norwegian forest kittens

It’s not Spring, it’s Winter – Why ‘New Years Resolutions’ are doomed

dark days

Happy New Year 2013 Everyone!

It’s January and the crazy dieting and resolution thing is going on everywhere.  I don’t want to be the voice of doom, but your New Years Resolutions are pretty much doomed …. ooh that should be said with an echo doooooomed, doomed!

A few of you lucky people will have hit upon exactly the right goal and objective for you, and you’ll do great (just focus on being one of the few if you have a resolution you want to keep!).  But the rest of you will undoubtedly fail.


exhausted dad with toddlerThis is because it’s WINTER.  Not SPRING.  We are essentially evolved, but we evolved so quickly there is still a lot of our animal nature in us.  So the cycles of nature do affect us.  It’s not just because the shops change the colour of their clothes in spring and summer that makes us suddenly pop on the cheerful shades; it’s because it’s a different time of year.  Every year I decide to save money and just keep wearing cheerful summer stuff with vests/tights, but I still end up in the dark colours within a month because it feels ‘wrong’ somehow.


So when it comes to what to be doing right now, it’s a time for cosying up with the family, sorting out the big box/folder of photos and hibernating under blankets with cups of hot chocolate.

This is the time for wondering about who you are and who you would love to be.  It’s for ruminating with a glass of wine or cup of tea and philosophical chats.

The earth is doing the same thing; resting up, preparing for the busy period of spring/summer/autumn.

Last year I talked about thinking about your Life Priorities instead of making goals or resolutions, and that’s what I’d really recommend you do.  Take your time, this isn’t a rush, it’s about getting to know you after all the changes of last year or maybe even the bigger changes of becoming a Mum.

Think about what you would like to create/change in your life for you health, friendships, family, relationships, work, finances, creativity/hobbies or what you’d love to learn?


My mums china tea cupsCollection of water bottlesThat’s what I’ve been doing over the past couple of months.  I’ve been going through all my cupboards thinking ‘is this stuff really me?’.

I found 5 boxes of stuff in the loft some of which I felt a big greeting from my heart.  So the crockery from my mum is now in the kitchen, some stuff has gone to charity and a bit has gone back up.


To make space for the crockery I’ve been through all the cupboards in the kitchen; did we really need all those water bottles?  (If you fancy a declutter check out my top tips here, and post about decluttering play rooms here).




Our Norwegian forest kittensI’ve really missed having cats over the past few years, and luckily for me a trip to a crazy friend of mine with a camel sanctuary in the October half term convinced hubby of the same.

So last week we also became the owner of 2 gorgeous 17 week old Norwegian Forest Kittens.  Suddenly, the house feels a lot more ‘right’ to me and surprisingly the dog is really chuffed about his new mates.

Obviously, I will have to tackle my nutrition and exercise because of my recent diagnosis of Fibromyalgia.  But even that has aspects of ‘who I decide to be’, rather than a New Years Resolution.

I’m also reading lots recently.  I pretty much winged it with Curly Headed Boy, being able to rely on a Mums natural intuition.  But this 7yo malarkey is a lot more tricky.  So I’ve reading a pile of books to try and give me some hints; I’m going to review them here just incase any of them are useful to you too.


So good luck to you guys to have started New Years Resolutions.  But if you fail, then don’t panic.  Just sit down and think about your life and come back to the resolutions in a couple of months time.

Oh and by the way, just incase you didn’t know it already; DIETS ARE CRAP FOR YOU!




An Alternative to New Years Resolutions: Your Top 3 Life Priorities

I’m not a fan of New Years Resolutions, I think it’s a time for a detox, clear out and rest.

Goals can just add to the weight of things we don’t achieve as Mums.

What I use are ‘Life Priorities’


Life Priorities help you to organise your time, energy and money spends for the year ahead and only focus on what is important to you.


Imagine a year where you can finish it feeling satisfied that you covered all the most important bases (not everything, just the important stuff); it’s a good feeling!

To do it ..

  1. Get an hour to yourself (if possible, otherwise do it on the fly)
  2. Get a piece of paper and put on some music that relaxes or inspires you
  3. Think about everything that happened recently or in the last year that you can feel really grateful for  (this means the ideas come from the heart, not the logic of the mind or emotion of the gut).
  4. Now think about looking back at the end of your life
  5. What do you most want to be sure you have achieved?  What would you be gutted not to have?
  6. Pick 3.

I know three isn’t many, and that you will actually have lots of other priorities, and you are welcome to write down the others as well.  But what I do want you to just pick 3.  You’ll want to refine and polish them as time goes by, so don’t worry about making them perfect.


Just Change It Later On If You Realise that other things are more important.

Mine are:

  1. That my kids feel loved from top to bottom by me and love me in return
  2. My books become ‘THE pick me up books for all Mums’
  3. That I stay strong in myself physically and emotionally

There are reasons behind all of these, and reasons why they take the top rankings, and they are in no way a judgement on the fact that I know already that yours will be different.

For example, for some parents the top priority is to provide every academic opportunity towards a secure future career for their children, or to ensure they make a great marriage, or to make sure they have amazing experiences, or to nurture them.  Some Mums might not have a potential career option, or not at the moment, or not feel it’s in the top 3.  Some might not have their health anywhere near the top 3 (I would really recommend that you consider how much it will help your kids if it is at least in your top 5 though).  Others might have providing financially, or spiritually as the top priority.  Maybe yours is maintaining your relationship (note to the hairy one: the reason our relationship is No4 is because me being strong has always been an important aspect to the success of our relationship).

Why bother?  Because we all get tired, overwhelmed, stressed, overloaded, exhausted, knackered, unfocussed and end up fire fighting and headless chicken running around at some point.

If every morning you remind yourself what your top 3 priorities are, you will be able to make sure that AT LEAST those are done, and then the rest.  Plus loads of things you’ll just not bother to do, saving you time, energy and money.

Plus you can manage your weekly To Do’s and make sure that you at least make time for these three.

What it means is that:

  • I make time to hug my kids, because otherwise I get unhappy.
  • I exercise 3 times a week, and eat pretty healthily.
  • When work opportunities come up and I’m busy, I pick the ones that help me to spread my books

In my book, I talk more about how to pick your top priorities and find out more about you as a person and what you love to do, or have or who you love to spend time with, so if you’d like to find out more, remember you can read a kindle book without a kindle.

Fancy finding your Top 3 Life Priorities?  Pop your top 3 priorities below when you’ve done it or come over to my Pinterest board and add them there..  If you blog about it you are very welcome to add a link in a comment to any blog posts you write about it, so that other Mums can get ideas for how it helps or what affect it has on you.

Here’s a summary for you as a picture, I can’t wait to hear what you pick!

Weight Loss Tips For Mums

Weight Loss Tips No10: A Simple Detox for your health and life

A detox can be a great start to a New Year or Spring when you are feeling a bit stagnant, or Start to a weight loss programme, or boost to a weight loss programme.

I watched Channel 4’s Food Hospital program and they pretty much proved that Detox’s don’t do much.  So whatever they do, it’s probably partially placebo, and partially giving your system a bit of a reboot so that you can go back to a healthier lifestyle.  But I still like doing one 1-4 times a year.

I recommend that if you are going to do it, then don’t just detox your body, detox your life as well and make it a more holistic experience.

A Simple Detox

Here is a simple detox plan for 3 days, maximum of 5 (prepare to be a bit grumpy and maybe have a headache at the beginning):

  1. No Caffiene, sugary or fizzy drinks (OR ALCOHOL!)
  2. No wheat (so no bread, no pasta, no biscuits, no cereal)
  3. No sugar (no biscuits, cake or ready made anything)
  4. No red meat i.e. beef, pork, ham or lamb
  5. No sweeteners, low fat or low sugar meals (ladened with chemicals)
What can you eat ..
  1. Replace all drink with green/fruit tea or water  (how much to drink)
  2. Just eat chicken, turkey or fish for protein
  3. With vegetables or salad
  4. Any Fruit
  5. Corn Thins, Rice Cakes, or Ryvita can be a great alternative to bread, it’s not totally wheat free, but it’s a good option.
  6. Nuts and Raisins make good snacks (a palm full, not a big bowl full!)
  7. Couscous, wild/brown rice, new potatoes (lower sugar) and sweet potatoes are great alternatives to wheat based carbohydrates.
  8. Use herbs, coconut, olive oil and butter for ‘sauce’ and taste instead of mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and jar sauces.

Breakfast for sugar lovers …

If you love your carbs, and seem to struggle with your weight, despite not over eating, then I would recommend a protein only breakfast.  I’m not into no-carb diets, but not having carbs for breakfast helps reset your system so that the insulin is produced correctly during the day.  Options are:

  1. Scrambled egg – stick an egg in a bowl, add a dash of milk and a pinch of himalayan rock salt (or normal sea salt if you don’t have the pink stuff).  Mix it up.  Pop it in the microwave for 1min.  You won’t feel instantaneously full, but it will last you until lunch time.
  2. Haddock – buy some frozen smoked haddock, pop a knob of butter on top, stick it in the microwave for 3-4 mins.  It’s particularly lovely with the scrambled egg!
  3. Porridge – I’m not actually a fan of porridge in the morning, I find it too heavy and although it has protein in it, it’s still carb oriented.
  4. Natural Yogurt – add berries for taste and a dash of manuka honey


Sweating is important to aid the detox process. Many northern countries have embraced the sauna and been shown to have longer lives and stronger hearts. So you have a few options:

  1. If you belong to a gym, do 20-30mins gentle cardio, drink 2-4 glasses of water and then go in a sauna for 10-30mins (unless you have a health condition that would contraindicate it).
  2. Go for a walk/jog for 30mins each day, nothing too extreme, we just want to get you moving and breathing hard.
  3. Have a warm bath with a couple of cups of Epsom salts or Magnesium Flakes each night.
  4. Update: Try a Far Infrared Mat experience like we have at Espiritu – they are great for detoxing without the uncomfortable sweating, and really get the circulation going.

Other Helpful Options

The success of a detox is often helped with a treat to motivate you and help remove that rubbish more quickly:

  1. Massage: A standard swedish massage will help as it massages the muscles, but it’s even better if you add Aromatherapy oils or go to a therapist who can do Lymphatic drainage (see the Purifying pamper at Espiritu).
  2. Dry body brushing: Helps to get the circulation going.  Brush towards the heart for 5 minutes before having a shower.
  3. Go out to a healthy cafe where eating the food will feel like a treat, as they are cooking it for you; it’s easy now a days with so many gluten free options.
  4. Lie down and rest to help your body focus on healing itself and watch a good film to take your mind off your cravings.
  5. Fresh air helps everything, and breathing more deeply will also help the detox process.

Detox Your Life

Now while you are physically detoxing, have a look at the rest of your life.  Start with your kitchen cupboards and have a jolly good clear out; especially of anything that wont be helping with your weight loss.

Now don’t be telling me that you need all those treats for the kids, they don’t have to have treats every day, and what they have doesn’t have to be sweet, chocolate or crisp based either.  I’m not saying they shouldn’t have treats, just that it wont do them any harm to not have many.  Help yourself to succeed.

Now go through your wardrobe and get rid of anything that makes you feel rubbish when you wear it.  Do you feel sexy, happy, attractive in it?  If not, then bin it.  Is it too big?  Then either pack it up and put it in the loft or get rid of it.  Clear out all your drawers.  Have you not worn it for a few years, then why take up space with it?

Hows about the rest of the house?  The new slim you, needs a slimmed down house.  Check out my top 7 tips for getting decluttering, and if you like it, there is a whole category on decluttering.

You can even look around at your life.  Do you have any friends who are taking up too much space or just sapping the energy from you?  How are you managing your finances, could that do with an overhaul?  I’ll give you some tips on looking at your emotional and mental health as well.

I love detoxing, spring cleaning and decluttering having lived with a hoarder Mum.  It took me years to get really into it, but eventually when you have been doing it for a few years it becomes second nature and is really quick because you keep everything in it’s slimmed down state.  I find it fascinating that suddenly loads of people will get the detox urge or the declutter urge; maybe there it’s something to do with the change in seasons, or maybe there is something to astrology after all?  There are certainly times of the month when I feel more up for it, and I’m very much a ‘go with the flow’ type of person, so bear your menstrual cycle in mind when choosing to do a detox/declutter.

Advanced Detoxes

You can also buy detox herbs, which take anywhere from 3 days to 3 months to clear your system out.  The 3 day ones will be a quick boost, but the longer ones will be also looking at clearing out things like parasites (again something you probably don’t want to know about!).  I did a 3 month detox once and it was amazing, but I don’t have the motivation to do it every year, maybe every decade instead!

I’m a fan of detoxing once a year, but NEVER underestimate the power of these detox herbs.  Don’t take anything without being sure that it is from a reputable supplier, and if you have any health issues, check with your doctor first.  You can expect a bit of a headache, but make sure you check the instructions for what symptoms are not normal.  Definitely don’t do this if you are breast-feeding.


Time to stop for a while

Don’t do a Detox if you are exhausted or have a baby under 3 months old, just get a bit healthier.  If you are breast feeding, then you might want to wait until you reduce how much you are feeding baby and do a detox at 6 months when you start to give them normal food too and they are less reliant.  Definitely stick to a light detox like this one if you are breast feeding or have young children.

Definitely don’t do any more advanced detoxes until you are sure your healthy eating regime is firmly in place.  Otherwise you are going to get rid of a pile of junk and want to fill the hole back up with a new pile of junk!  The same goes for Colonics (if you don’t know what that is, then take it as a sign you are not meant to know!); I once tried it in order to be able to advise a client on it, and my whole body system went into shock.  I know some people love it and really recommend it.  I would only recommend it, after a good detox, when you know you will eat healthily and as a very infrequent thing.

Slimming pills are NOT a detox and should never be taken without a prescription from a doctor.  In fact I still think that there are many problems solved by surgery and slimming pills that could be solved with in depth therapy, however if you were going to die without the surgery or pills, then I can see that they make sense.

Update 2017: If you have a chronic illness of any kind, be very careful with detoxing.  Your system will be more sensitive and there could be an underlying infection.  When killing off bugs like that too aggressively they can produce toxins and it can be extremely unpleasant.  Since being diagnosed with Lyme disease, my detox has to be very gentle as the Herx reaction can leave me bed ridden for a couple of days.


Let me know if you have any questions about detoxes.

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How to organise a play room

Top Seven Tips For The Summer Holidays

I so look forward to the holidays, but the last half-term was a huge disaster, so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to blog about it.  The big hairy northern one was away, the little irish granny I found in Tescos was ill, and I still had some work to do, despite it being half term.  It ended up in a spiral of increasing stress and shouting.  The biggest low point was when a 15 minute blog post took me 1.5hrs, not because of Little Dimples (16 months) but because of the Curly Headed Boy (5 1/2yrs)!

So here are my top tips for having a fabulous summer holidays, the prime rule being ‘Prepare, Prepare, Prepare’, just like you would for a big work project!  My focus is on making sure that by the end of the summer holidays I have a couple of months of lovely memories, because I know that from September I’m going to be much busier with work, and Little Dimples will probably need to start nursery.

1) Time out before hand: Make sure you have scheduled some time out, pampering, rest or relaxation for yourself before the holidays start, so that you can be in the best frame of mind.  I did this before the previous holidays and they were much more successful, whereas I went into the half-term frazzled.

2) Organise some time out during: You will need some during the holidays too, because it’s a LONG TIME for the summer holidays!

3) Make Space: Make sure that your house is ready too.  I know that it will quickly end up in a chaotic mess, but at least start out with enough space for the kids to play.  Check out my Top seven tips for how to get decluttering.  Plus, set the kids expectations that at some point during the holiday, they will need to get involved in a mega tidy up too.

4) Reorganise the space: Have a good look at the rooms that you tend to spend the days in and look at the flow.  Is it easy for the kids to find things and keep themselves occupied?  Is it easy for them to put things away?  Is there space for them to play lego/building/cars/dolls/dressing up?  Check out my Top seven tips for organising a playroom.

5) Make simple reminders of what there is to do: When I’m tired, I often forget about all the fab things the kids enjoy doing, so I literally make a list (yep, I can be a bit ‘doh’ when tired).  You can put stickers on the drawers or cupboards to remind you and the kids what there is to play with, or make a list.  Of course if your kids are young you might have to draw pictures; infact this could be one of the activites you do on the first days with the kids and get them to draw their own pictures of what they would like to do during the holidays.

6) Plan your budget: Plan your budget, work out what you can afford, and explain it to the kids.  This will be your easy explanation for no ice cream every day, and no toy every time you go shopping.  Plan ahead for some treats, so that they know there will be special things to save for.  (Curly Headed Boy has been saving his weekly ice cream for our holiday away, so that he can have one every day.  Fair enough it doesn’t pay for the flights, but I thought that it would give him some perspective!).  Remember that there are simple things that kids love to do which don’t cost any money, like picnics or going to the park.

7) Get some holiday books and activities: I’ve had a big splurge on usborne books, who have a brilliant range for the kids in the holidays.  I bought ‘365 things to make and do’, ‘Lots of things to draw’ (my favourite, because it shows how to draw the pictures), sticker books to remind him of the maths and english he learnt during reception, ‘100 games to play on holiday’ (cards), ’50 things to do on holiday’ (cards).  Now if you fancy something like this, my gorgeous mate is an usborne book seller, and here is a link to an event she is organising on Tues 19th July for Mums who don’t have time to sort their own coffee morning out (This is not a sponsored post).  Of course you don’t need to buy anything, there are fabulous craft blogs, my favourite being RedTedArt.

Remember, preparation is vital.  But if it all goes pear shaped, take a pause, check out my dealing with exhaustion posts and then start afresh the next day.

Exhaustion Tips: A Good Declutter is great for the soul!

Normally my little tips about general health are all that’s been needed to boost my energy levels, but there are times in my life when more is needed, and the last few weeks is one of them.  The great news for you is that as I resolve my own energy levels, I’ve been able to give you much more structured ideas for tackling yours!  So I’ve been talking about embracing the exhaustion to find the causes, making a plan and then four tips for planning ahead in my last few blog posts.

This week’s hint comes from the fact that I’ve been finding the general daily repetition that us Mums need to do driving me mad!  Plus I’m of the opinion that sometimes you need to behave in the ‘real world’ in a way that will get mirrored in the ’emotional world’; so if my brain is a bit noisy and over full, then my theory is that by decluttering my surroundings, I’ll start to get space in my head as well.  Plus, by rethinking the organisation or flow of the problem areas, I get to save myself energy in the future.

I can just about deal with the daily to do’s that repeat over and over and over and over again, like a hamster on a running wheel.  Plus one of the big reasons (apart from enjoying it!) I work is because I’m not very domesticated, so by working I can pay for a cleaner, and dog walker (2 children and 2 badly behaved dogs is not fun!).   The big hairy northern one is generally helpful with stuff, but also away a lot and then riddled with jetlag, but I do have a little irish granny that helps me with childcare, and while she plays with Little Dimples, she does pootle around tidying a bit as well.

However, what had pushed me over the edge was a 5yo, a toddler, a dog and a husband who ALL like to pick things up and then put them down somewhere else.  Often 3 floors up (we live in a town house).  WHY?  Why pick stuff up for the hell of it and then put it down somewhere else?  Then add the helpful people who do the same, like my little irish granny (I’ve just found 3 bags of mouldy lettuce, I wondered where they had gone!) and cleaners who think they know best about where stuff goes.  Clearly the world was planning on driving me totally crazy, because being a touch retentive I kept seeing things ‘in the wrong place’ and getting more and more stressed by it, but not having the energy to tidy/organise/move anything as well.

Plus, Little dimples has taken a real affection for the craft drawers, and despite the fact that I had tidied them so that they were organised, the coordinated efforts of Curly Headed Boy and the Irish granny meant that there were all sorts of things were no longer organised and hence available for her.  So every day the bloody lolly sticks would end up all over the floor, plus a pile of tissue paper.  Curly Headed boy would get out the pens, but because of the chaos not be able to put them back and there were pens, pensils, crayons, rubbers and goodness knows what else all over the place.  Little Dimples would then help out with generally distributing them around the house.  Oh and the dog always likes to help by picking stuff up when he is excited.

How can so many people walk over stuff on the floor I wondered and NOT pick it up?!

Then due to the general chaos of stuff being everywhere, but not where it was meant to be, nothing could be found.  So at times when there were jobs to do, or something important to be done, I would be constantly hounded by a 5yo or a baby girl who didn’t know what to do with themselves.  I remember a blog post during the last half-term that should have taken 15 minutes, taking 1.5 HOURS!!!

Eventually I thought to myself: despite my wish to lose a few more pounds in weight and the undoubted good exercise that picking things up is for me, enough is enough. It was time for a good declutter and detox of the downstairs (kitchen, utility and playroom), followed by a big reorganise.  So Sunday was PJ day, and the big hairy northern one was a brilliant child distractor.

I made space in the utility shelves, and the tissue paper and cardboard is now in a hessian bag.  I like Curly headed boy to have access to the craft stuff, but enough is enough!  All the pens/pencils/crayons/other things are in boxes or pencil cases; no longer do I have one of those draw tidy’s so that they are out on display.  Space has been made in the play room by removing baby toys, so it’s easier for Little Dimples to find her stuff, and by moving toys for her out of the kitchen, I’ve made a pile of shelves free specifically for the big hairy one and the kids so that it is easy to find interesting books, colouring books, sticker books, doing books, or basically ‘things to do with your own initiative when Mummy is busy stuff’.  We moved the furniture around as well so that these shelves are really easy to access, in an effort to make sure that there are as few blocks to people/kids finding things to do!

So if you are getting suffocated by all the stuff around you, and having to repeat endless tasks that could be gotten rid of, and are finding that your house isn’t organised in a way that works for the family, have a think about setting around a few hours for a rethink.  The problem with kids is that as they grow their needs change, so I can’t promise you that once it’s done, it’s done.  But I can promise that it will help to give you more energy, space to think, and waste less energy in the future.  I wrote a couple of blog posts in the past that will help you:

Did it work?  Yes, so far, so good.  I’ve had to put a couple of pencil cases away each day, but that’s easy.  Little Dimples has helped herself to books on the bookshelf, and Curly Headed Boy is really chuffed with the change.  Plus it did seem to give me the space to get a much quieter head, so I can definitely recommend it.  Have fun!

If you enjoyed this post let your friends know about it and sign up for the RSS feed so that you get reminded each time there is a post, or  join my facebook page.  Also, if you are lacking in energy, then signing up for my email newsletter will give you a free Life Health Questionnaire.

What blogs my readers read: Sex, Decluttering, David Tennant and School Problems

Did I mention I’m a finalist for the MAD Blogger awards in their Small Business Category, LoL?  Really, you didn’t hear me shouting about it and jumping up and down in an excited and bouncy way?!  If not, then read here … and vote for me, and then TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW to vote for me.  Ok, so maybe that’s a bit extreme, but seriously, some of the blogs I’m up against have a massive readership, so I need all the help I can get!

As part of all this, I have to send in an example of which represent me the best.  Of course, it’s a bit confusing, because there is a difference between my regular readers, and the people who find me via google and all sorts of dubious search terms.  But I’m really surprised by what’s most popular!

At the moment the choice seems to be between ..

So basically, to improve my stats I need more video messages from sexy men?  I can see how that might be a priority, and will get working on it immediately!  But you also want your houses decluttered?  Only then do you want to have sex with your husbands, and if you have a bit of time left then you might try to sort out your kids problems at school?

I suspect, that it’s actually a bit counter-intuitive, and that what is going on is that the stress of worrying about our kids, sends us to watch sexy actors and try to control our lives by decluttering.  The whole sex with the husband thing, is basically a ‘gotta do’ in order to maintain a relationship, and so when that is out of the way, we can manage to think about the newest worries of the day and what new challenges our kids are facing.

You guys do seem to like the Weekly Weight Loss tips a bit, especially the one with the webinar.  And I get a lot of feedback about the weekly Exhaustion Tips on twitter.  I’m thinking that those are probably more of a hit with my regulars, as is the Video Wednesday short posts?  Surprisingly in an era of recession, not many people are going for a free 30mins of my time with the Question Corner yet; don’t forget you can do it anonymously by emailing me at Lisa at MummyWhisperer dot com.  All the stuff I wrote about Affairs is popular, but I suspect that is from general internet searches.  But it does surprise me that it comes about affairs more than bullying.

Over time I’ve written nearly 150 posts and had nearly 1000 comments (but at least 50% was spam!) and my first post was 2 years ago on the 9th of May, just as I was also falling pregnant with Little Dimples.  Did you have a favourite?

So, I’ve loved blogging, and it looks like all my hard work and plans for world domination could be actually beginning to pay off!  I hope that I’ve helped lots of Mums out there with my posts, that’s certainly my plan, because with a blog I can reach more Mums than with my 1to1’s and programs.   I’m hoping that it’s onwards and upwards, and that soon the message that all Mums are fabulous and deserve to have sparkly in their lives will spread further.

How to organise a play room

Top Seven Top Tips for organising a playroom and my guilty pleasure confession

I mentioned the other day that I’m a fan of decluttering. I also have a serious guilty pleasure; boxes (I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE boxes!), but also includes to shelves to put them in/on! So Ikea is my heaven on earth. I can spend a whole day in there, especially as I love the meatballs, yum.

Becoming a mum, and trying to find a way for my highly interactive boy to keep himself occupied while Little Dimples needs my attention, has given me the perfect excuse to throughly enjoy my secret guilty pleasure. Plus it works for him, and makes it easy to remember what he has got and find what he needs.  Even I need reminding sometimes when I’m knackered and am trying to think of something to do with him or to occupy him with for a while.

Ok, so there have been numerous conversations about putting things in the right box and only emptying one box of toys at a time. But luckily for me, he is quite similar to me, so it’s not really a problem for him, maybe more so for the hairy northern husband, who tries to limit me to 1 trip to ikea every other year.

Here are my tips to making a playroom work for you and the kids, and to cutting out the stress of having toys all over the place and kids who say they have nothing to do.  The key to success seems to be:

1) Have different areas with similar types of activity e.g. mental, imaginative, creative, quiet, loud, outside, small space, big space.  So puzzles and games are together, and stuff when you know you need to mentally stretch or quieten them are together. Outdoor things are high up for me, so they aren’t played with inside, but are easy to find.

2) Make it really easy for them, to sort out themselves and find things, by leaving lots of space in the boxes, so they aren’t too heavy to carry, and easy to fill.  It needs to make sense to them, so watch how they play and how they combine the toys to see where the boxes go, and which ones they are near.  It’s like a workflow analysis for the home!

3) Look at the height of where you put things. Anything that is delicate or you don’t trust their friends with, or that needs you goes high up. That includes swords in my house!

4) Find a way to remind them of what they have got. I like doors on the bottom shelves so that the worst mess is hidden away. But open shelves are good for higher up, so they can see what’s on offer. Plus I quite like seeing toys, it doesn’t bother me that they are seeable.  But you could also have pictures on the doors or the boxes to remind them.

5) Keep it flexible so that you can adjust your needs as they grow up. This is where good old ikea (I think my cupboards are called Besta) with it’s movable doors and shelves are so great. One of my cupboards is on wheels and is shorter as well, so that it can change which wall it is against.

6) Be consistent with your rules, but make it fun. We do a quick tidy most nights, but have one ‘proper’ tidy the day the cleaners come (that’s when I clear the surfaces of the play table and allow myself full OCD freedom). Music makes tidying a hell of a lot easier, or a treat after.

7) Have a rule about how many boxes to play with at a time, otherwise all the cupboards and boxes will be emptied at once.  I promise that eventually they will learn the rule, but at first you might need to be there or help them with gentle reminders.  We have the ‘one box at a time rule’, which is a box each when we have friends around. Some visiting kids have needed some help adjusting to this, as a couple take great enjoyment in emptying EVERY box in the whole play area, but mostly it works well, and my ‘scary look’ has worked to ensure they only do it once ;o)

Overall, it’s got to work for you, and work for the kids; then its a real winner.  I don’t mind seeing toys, but I do get hassled when a boy with plenty of toys complains that there is nothing to do, or can’t find his favourite things.  Plus I need to feel space around me, so if the toys were just all out on the floor or bulging out of open boxes, all at the same time, I would go nuts.  So you need to work out what your key stresses are and what your kids would like.

Let me know if this helps at all, and if you ever need someone to go to Ikea with, you know who to call!

(This is not a sponsored post, but if ikea would like to send me some meatballs with that lovely sauce, or some dime bars, I’m totally open to it, and will happily post more in return for some of the coloured boxes with numbers, or Children’s hangers, or the cream boxes. I am very bribable!).