Taking Care of my Skin with Biotulin

One of the knock-on effects of me being overweight is that I’ve made less effort in other ways with my appearance. I think it’s an issue with confidence and self-esteem, but because I’ve had a lot of self-loathing about my weight, it means that I feel like it’s just not worth making the effort to make myself look nice. On the flipside of this, now that I AM taking care of myself, it’s given me a little more of an interest in making myself look more presentable.

One thing that I am worried about with losing weight is loose skin, not just on my tummy (inevitable after two large pregnancies resulting in c-sections, as well as my weight) but also my face. I’ve seen SO many celebs who are large their whole lives, lose a bunch of weight but suddenly look ten years older because the chub had been giving them a bit of a “baby face” effect. Once the fat melts away, there’s nothing pushing the wrinkles out anymore!! Anyway, the crux of all this is that I’ve been researching skincare recently, trying to find something effective but affordable, and I think I’ve found it.

Biotulin Supreme Skin Gel is actually used by the Duchess Kate Middleton, and was also a recommendation that she shared with Michelle Obama, both of whom have incredible skin! The gel is basically like a non-injectable, organic botox which firms and tightens the face. It contains a natural local anesthetic extracted from the plant Acmella oleracea, which promises to reduce muscle contractions and relax the facial features around the eyes and between the eyebrows. This promises to reduce fine lines and make the skin noticeably smoother.

Michelle’s make-up artist, Carl Ray, says “Michelle Obama has been using this organic Botox gel regularly on the recommendation of Kate Middleton”, while Michelle herself said “It’s really pretty basic. I wash my face with a good cleanser, and I use a moisturizer with an SPF. Every now and then I’ll go to a dermatologist for microderm or a facial, but I don’t have time to do that all the time.”

The best thing about this miracle product is that it only costs £43 per bottle, making it affordable for even us mere mortals, unlike a lot of the other high-end products on the market – I’m going to make sure that this is well and truly at the top of my birthday list in June! Knowing that I’ll be able to use something to firm my face as the weight melts off is a real bonus because weight loss isn’t always as simple as being fat at the beginning and slim at the end, especially as you get older.

If it’s good enough for Michelle Obama, it’s definitely good for me!

Dear ‘Woman At The Gym’…

Dear Woman at the gym,

I’m sorry that my car was in your way when you decided to swing your own car door into it in the car park today and I’m sorry that I didn’t meet your entirely insincere apology with acceptance. I’m sorry that I flipped you the bird after you asked me “what my fucking problem was” when I just shrugged after you screeched “I DID SAY SORRY” through my car window.

I’m sorry that you felt the need to start throwing petty insults at me as you walked away and I’m sorry that I sank to your level when I got out of the car to confront you about your aggressive and abusive demeanour. I’m sorry that you decided to stoop even lower and start insulting my appearance, my weight and my apparent lack of effort at the gym. I’m sorry that you felt the need to tell me that I should “get my fat arse to a personal trainer” because you didn’t actually see me squat 45kg, deadlift 65kg and bust out my overhead press, despite fucking HATING that lift.

I’m sorry that I don’t wear make-up to the gym, like you. I’m sorry I don’t look good in lycra yet. I’m sorry that I don’t see the point in blowdrying my hair before I lug heavy weights around. I’m sorry that my car was obviously an indicator of how “poor” I am, according to your words. I’m sorry that after absorbing your nasty words I sank even lower to meet you in the gutter and hurl insults back at you.

I’m NOT sorry that I called you an old hag, because damn it felt good to give you a taste of your own medicine.

I’m sorry that I’ve spent all day stewing over your words. I’m sorry that I’ve given you space inside my head that you seriously don’t deserve. I’m sorry about whatever happened to you today to make you behave so randomly aggressive towards me for no reason. I’m sorry that your world view makes you think you’re somehow better than me because you weigh less. Your behaviour today is the biggest indicator that this isn’t true.

I’m sorry that men get SO much of the blame about being intimidating to women when it’s actually women like YOU who are a betrayal of the sisterhood, a reason that some women may not even have the courage to venture into the gym. I’m sorry that there are probably women out there who are sacrificing their health so they don’t encounter bitches like you in the a place where people should all be supporting each other. I’m sorry that your life is so shitty that you need to take it out on other people. I’m sorry that I burst into tears in Waitrose, after the adrenaline had dissipated, because your words had actually really hurt me.

I’m NOT sorry that, actually, FUCK YOU lady, I won’t let your words bother me any longer, I’m not sorry that I’ve decided to be happy and positive and carry on doing what I’m doing despite your efforts to hurt me. I’m NOT sorry that you no longer have space inside my head. I’m NOT sorry that I’m choosing the supportive words of my daughters, my sister-in-law, mother-in-law and all the female friends who’ve given me encouragement as the ones I choose to listen to, instead of a woman like you who needs to cut others down in order to lift yourself up, because that’s just sad.

What’s that old quote? I won’t always be fat, but you’ll always be a c*nt. Or something like that…

Yours Sincerely,

The Woman in the Silver Car (with a small dent in the door, which I’ll shortly be reporting to my insurance company, along with your registration plate and the CCTV from the gym…)

Ganja Yoga

Being mindful is one of the known effects that cannabis offer. Adding cannabis to yoga seems to open a really big conversation. There is an uncompleted debate among yoga practitioners-not all yoga schools, nor promoters of the Eastern practice support cannabis-enhanced asana sessions, and this has resulted in some result. A lot of people that exercise meditation be it reflective, guided or heart chakra meditation have felt a spiritual link, and a state of mind that they can stay calm with a developed brain function. Cannabis-yoga is centered on attaining a new level of calmness.

Lately in the United States, a new trend occurred and seems like gaining more following day by day. It is known as Ganja Yoga and it combines the practice of Yoga after Cannabis consumption. These Cannabis infused Yoga classes have skyrocketed in attendance ever since Californians elected to fully decriminalize marijuana last November. Cannabis has been used for tens of centuries specifically in the tradition of Yoga and in Ayurveda as a spiritual aid. The whole act Yoga practice is linked to ancient Shiva cults that employed cannabis as a form of worship. According to their beliefs, Ganja (Vijaya) would bring spiritual intuitions.

Ganja Yoga is what it specifically sound like; those in possession of a medical marijuana card can get high with their fellow yogis during a short pre-class gathering (participants get to know each other while sitting in a circle) smoking joints or bowl, or vaping or consuming edibles followed by a longer yoga class together. (Attendants must possess a medical marijuana card given out by the state of California). The students who don’t have a card are usually requested to smoke cannabis on their own before coming. Taste is a personal matter, and practitioners choose their favorite cannabis strains before their practice.

Ganja Yoga isn’t a full throttle type of yoga –the practice feels more like meditation than cardio. It involves more of sets of relaxing poses to augment meditative exercise.

Besides, the specialists prefer the use of vaporizers most times, as their healthy way of life does not conform with unhealthy smoking habits. One of the benefits they mention is that their breath functions in a much better way right after the intake of cannabis. This fact that cannabis can expand your lungs and make you feel more comfortably explains this. Usually, the first thing practitioners of Ganja yoga want to do after cannabis consumption is laying down and relax by doing some stretching.

There are quite a number of Yoga types, however, all these different forms of yoga have a common aim, and that goal is integration of subject and object reality into the classical cross cultural mystic state and experience of oneness; Samadhi or union with the divine.

My New Keto Lifestyle

KetoIf you follow me on Facebook, Insta or Twitter you may have noticed that lately I’ve been banging on about dieting again, but this time it’s different. You see, I’ve found a way of eating and exercising that I’m truly in love with and I’ve managed to stick to this with more discipline than anything I’ve ever done…and it’s showing results, too!

The first part of my new lifestyle is my eating plan, keto, or a ketogenic diet. The principle is that by restricting carbs and eating a high fat, high protein diet you force your body to access glycogen which is stored as fat, which in turn gives you weight loss and retrains your body about what to burn and what to store. It’s great for type II diabetics and is also what Dr. Michael Mosley is promoting through his “Eight Week Blood Sugar Diet” book (I HIGHLY recommend this as a starting point if you want to learn about keto eating). At the moment, I eat under 20g of carbs a day (just for perspective, one baked potato contains roughly SIXTY grams of carbs, which would be three days worth for me!) and aim for around 100g of protein and 100-120g of fat. Once you realise that fat doesn’t make you fat, it revolutionises what you can eat!

Limiting carbs means that I have to be a lot more creative about cooking (and also means that bacon and eggs feature heavily in my life right now!) but it’s actually been a lot easier than I thought. For instance, I’ll occasionally cook a roast for the family, except I don’t have potatoes or Yorkshires, however a big plate of roasted meat and veg is still a delicious meal and feels like SO much less of a compromise than “diet food”.

Many keto-devotees don’t calorie count if they’re eating it as a lifestyle rather than weight-loss aid, but I’m currently limiting myself to 1300 calories a day because I had a total of 5 stone to shift. However, most people advocate working out what your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is so that you can work out exactly how many calories you need to eat just to exist.

The next part of my lifestyle change is exercise. Before now, exercise has been a dirty, dirty word to me. I’m naturally incredibly lazy, so moving around until my heart pounds has never appealed to me, but I’ve found something I really enjoy and seem to be pretty good at – weight lifting. I’ve always been disproportionately strong for a 5ft 4in woman so turning that into something I can use to improve myself has been a real joy. I’m using the StrongLifts app which gives you a workout-by-workout breakdown of what lifts to do and what weights you should be moving, and I just love it. I’m getting almost as much satisfaction from seeing how much I can lift than I am from seeing how much weight I’m losing. It’s actually an incredible way to burn fat, but before you ask, no, I won’t end up looking like a bodybuilder – it takes RIDICULOUS levels of exercise and protein intake for that kind of physique!

Which brings me onto the money shot of any post about dieting – my weight! When I started in January, I weighed 14st 7lb – not the heaviest I’ve ever been but a full 5 stone heavier than I’d like to be and enough of a shock to make me get my arse into gear. I started in earnest with diet and exercise and after sticking religiously to it (and I mean genunely religiously, I’ve not had a SINGLE cheat meal in this time) I’ve already shifted 15lb, taking me down to 13st 6lb.

I still have a long way to go, but when I think about the fact that I’ve already lost over 20% of what I need to, it really bolsters my enthusiasm. Keto is a lifestyle that I can see myself sticking to for years to come, even when I’m trying to maintain weight rather than lose it and I’m really hopeful that I can reverse my diabetes too. I’ve had a lot of help from Husband, my friend Katy and a couple of Facebook groups I’m in, and I’m still having to think about basically every single meal but I’m hoping in time it will all become second nature (I already feel like I have an encylopaedic knowledge of the carb content of every item in Waitrose!!).

A lovely knock-on effect is that it’s given me so much more energy (I know it’s a massive cliche, but it’s true!) and lifting weights has improved my cardiovascular fitness on almost a stealth level. I decided I needed to get moving more as I’m very sedentary on a daily basis so I re-started the couch-to-5K app that I’ve neglected for about 3 years and I didn’t, to my MASSIVE surprise, die during my first run! Husband has kindly treated me to a pair of proper trail running shoes because pavements don’t really exist where we live, as well as some proper socks, and I’m already feeling enthusiastic about running more. Also, I’m really hoping to join a netball team again once as that’s something I used to love doing.

I feel like I don’t even know myself any more, but that’s such a good thing! I used to dream about the cheat meals I could have when I got to my desired weight but now I just keep thinking about how much weight I’ll be able to lift or the nice clothes I’ll be able to finally fit into.

As a side note, I thought I’d try to keep diet and keto recipe posts to a minumum on here because it might get boring, so I’ve started a dedicated keto lifestyle blog, which you can find at The Keto Life. It’s very sparse at the moment, but I’ll be doing more recipe posts and updates as an when they happen.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or want to get started with keto, leave me a comment or hit me up on social media.

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Help to Make The Changes You Want to See

I’ve been hovering over my keys for weeks now, wanting to write a post about my absolute disbelief at the political things happening in the world right now. I want to share my incredulity about the things, the HORRIBLE things, which are happening all over the planet, I want to shout and swear and renounce my membership of the human race, but everytime I try to get it all out in any sort of coherent fashion it doesn’t happen and I sit here feeling angry and sad. So, instead of sharing my thoughts, I figured I’d just share a bunch of things that you can do if you, like me, don’t want to sit back and watch while the world goes to hell in a handcart.

Contact Your Representatives

Whether you’re based in the USA or here in the UK, our MPs and counsillors are supposed to represent their consituents, which means you need to TELL them what you want. Opposed to Trump visiting the UK? Tell your MP. Call, write, email, do anything you can to let them know you’re not happy. MAKE A NUISANCE OF YOURSELF. (You can find some useful contact information on http://www.allhelplinenumbers.com/)

Sign Petitions

It may seem futile, adding your name to a virtual list of people, but petitions can truly make a difference. The petition which was started to register an objection about Trump visiting the UK has now received enough signatures to be debated in the House of Commons. If you have an opinion, let it be heard.

Social Media

I’m well aware that a lot of my friends are probably sick of the sight of political posts on Facebook, but with Trump himself using social media more than any other President, it’s obvious what the power of social media can do. Tweet your objections, use the hashtags, join the noise against fascism. It will be seen, even if by some lowly bureaucrat.

Join a March

I know that getting out on the streets with a placard might seem like a daunting thing, but people power can make a HUGE impact and some of the marches that have already happened have had millions of people join in. There’s no way that millions of people can be ignored, so if you really want to get your point across, take to the streets.

Don’t Back Down

There’s a really annoying attitude from a lot of people that, once something has happened (such as Trump being elected…) there’s no point objecting because there’s nothing we can do about it. There is ALWAYS something that can be done and sitting back and watching atrocities happen “because you didn’t want to make a fuss” makes you complicit.

“It Never Did My Kids Any Harm”

It Never Did My Kids Any HarmWhen Facebook first started, way before I had kids, it was a way to catch up with old friends, let the world know what you were doing, share photos and “poke” people, virtually. It’ll be TEN YEARS AGO this year that I joined Facebook (I know, right?) and in that time, the things I use Facebook for has changed quite dramatically. I think the thing I spend the most time doing on FB now is using groups and I’m in various ones, some for diet and fitness, some for make up and fashion, lots of buying and selling and a couple for parenting, and it’s in that last group where I hear my pet-hate-phrase.

There are lots of different questions to which “it never did my kids any harm” gets trotted out as a standard response, everything from smacking to cot bumpers to sugary drinks to watching Mister Tumble and I really wish it would be stricken from the English vernacular. I think I see it used most often in relation to controlled crying, something to which I’m hugely opposed and I just wish people would see how damaging this kind of ‘echo chamber’ response is.

I get that everyone makes different choices and that’s entirely up to them. It’s also good for everyone to have support and camaraderie, especially when it comes to parenting as it’s a lonely old job at times. However, using your own experience to bias someone else’s choices is SO wrong.

The reason things change as generations move on is because of research and development. We advise against cot bumpers and sleeping in certain positions and sleeping in car seats for extended periods and all of these other things because of years and years of extensive research, NOT because someone, somewhere said “Well, my friend Janet fed her kids lead paint and THEY ALL TURNED OUT OKAY”.

THAT’S NOT HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS.

I appreciate that there’s a lot of inherited wisdom which is passed from generation to generation, and generally speaking those things are fine, but basing your opinion of a whole facet of parenting on the equivalent of ONE case study is absolutely bonkers. Would you trust a medicine which had been tested by one person? Or drive a car which had only one safety test done on it? No, I don’t think you would.

If we’re being realistic, there are SO many things that older generations did (giving the baby brandy or whisky in their bottle to help it sleep? Giving it a sniff of the gas tap?! Leaving them outside the shops OR EVEN THE PUB in their buggy??!) that you absolutely would never dream of in this day and age.

The fact is, the reason that rules and regulations change is because people spend time and money working things out in a lab, with finely tweaked variables and control tests and all of those other things that we’re supposed to trust. They produce QUANTIFIABLE results. You can say “smacking my kids didn’t do them any harm”, but on what are you basing that? The fact that they aren’t on top of a bell tower with a high-powered rifle? Because, believe me, when it comes to the psychological effects that spill over from childhood there’s still a VAST space between “fine” and “bell tower” and they aren’t all kittens and roses.

The trouble is, people don’t seem to want to listen to quantifiable evidence when they’re of the “never did any harm” school of thought. MY argument against controlled crying comes from reams and reams of research which was done with kids living in orphanages – children who were left to cry for hours on end eventually stopped expecting comfort and therefore stopped asking for it, leading to an inability to effectively produce cortisol in later life, affecting future relationships and greatly increasing the likelihood of depression into adulthood. But if you bring this up, people latch on to the supposed absurdity of comparing their child to an orphan to poo-poo any sort of data. What you’re saying doesn’t reflect their opinion and therefore it MUST be crap.

I’m not advocating the judgement of other people’s methods as such, I just really wish people would think a little beyond this attitude and realise that things move on FOR A REASON. I swear, half the time people use this phrase as a way to make them feel better about their own doubts about methods they used, or as a defence of their own parents because they see criticism of old methods as some sort of accusation of failure.

What do you think? Are you of this school of thought or do you try to follow current advice and research? Is this something which drives you potty, too? Leave me a comment below.

The Profs Tutoring – University and Beyond!

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m at an age now where some of my friends have kids of university age and older, so as much as my two are still in the early stages of their education, my friends’ kids are moving on to higher education already. It’s a real eye-opener, seeing all of the processes that they have to go through, from UCAS forms to Uni tours and applications for finance, it’s WAY more daunting than a primary school application and that’s before the work has even begun.

Some of you may remember that I started a degree myself, back in 2010 when Sausage was just 2. I had grand ideas of studying psychology and although I managed to get through my first two courses, the workload got too much once I returned to work, not forgetting the huge hike in fees which happened to treble the cost of my courses. It gave me huge respect for the people who move miles away from home at the tender age of eighteen to do it all full-time and made me realise that there must be kids who need help too.

It never occurred to me before that University students might have private tutors, but that’s exactly what the guys at The Profs do. They’re a University tutors service, aimed at students in higher education, and can help with private tuition, applications, academic consultancy, career advice, writing guidance and everything else a student might need to help them to get through their courses.  The tutors are all trained professionals from top universities, so they know all-too-well the rigours of Uni life and how tough it can be to keep on top of everything whilst dealing with what is most youngsters’ first real taste of independence.

The Profs’ mission statement is: 

A Private tutor can improve your understanding, boost your grades, diminish pressure, and enhance employment prospects!

    • We provide private tuition, academic mentoring and educational consultancy for students at all levels. Our tutors are professional tutors with teaching experience at top universities, schools, and institutions.
    • Our tutors are experts in everything from exam technique to revision technique and we seek to give students the confidence and dedication needed to succeed in education.
  • We have hundreds of educators working with thousands of students in pretty much any subject you can think of. Please, give us a call and see how we can help you.The Profs

With the job market being tougher than it’s ever been, even for graduates, it’s good to know that young people (or even people like myself who choose to go back into education after many years) are able to get the help that they need to enable them to get the best results they can. The cost of tutoring through The Profs are really reasonable given that they are all world-class educators and teachers. Many of them can also work online giving students from all around the world ultimate flexibility in having professional classes, no matter where they are based.

If you’d like to know how to find a tutor for yourself or your child, click on the link above to be taken to The Profs’ website.

Getting Ahead with Spires Online Tutoring

Spires Online TutoringWe’ve been toying with the idea of getting Sausage a tutor for some time now. I’ve written before about her lack of confidence in maths and how she’s incredibly bright but seems to get flustered with numbers, and also about how she’s adamant that she wants to do her 11+ and I do worry that her own nerves will get the better of her. The issue we have with private tutoring is two-fold. Firstly, one-to-one tutoring can be expensive, and although it’s possible to buddy up with another family and pay for the tutor together, the second issue is that we live in the middle of nowhere, seriously limiting the amount of tutors who’d even come to us (and giving us a far shallower talent pool to choose from, in much the same way as smaller, rural schools).

The obvious answer is online tutoring, which is where Spires comes in. Spires is an online tutoring site which offers tutors from Oxford and Cambridge and all of their work is done via the internet which means that our location is no longer an issue. It also means that costs are kept down because travel isn’t a worry – a Spires tutor could effectively sit at their desk for eight hours a day and tutor solidly the whole time, without ever needing to move!

One thing that I absolutely LOVE about the Spire ethos is that they’re aiming to level the educational playing field by offering top-class tutoring to ANYONE, rather than only priviledged kids at the top schools getting all of the benefits. They say on their site:

“No matter how much the UK’s top universities are said to encourage entrants from the state sector, the reality remains – students from the best independent schools consistently have a far greater chance of entering the best universities.

So we asked ourselves:

What could we offer to maximise the chance of any student getting into a university worthy of their intelligence, ability and potential regardless of their background?

We attended one of the best universities in the world and we were oblivious to just how lucky we had been. Only at Oxford did we begin to appreciate the unfair advantage that going to a top private school had given us in getting into a top university. At school, we were drilled, tutored and trained to get those places.

We were coached over and above the curriculum. If we were struggling with any element of our studies – great tutors were available, around the clock one-on-one – to fix that problem.

We created Spires to provide the one-on-one tutoring experience that gave us the edge in our final exams. Our aim is to make that experience affordable to as many parents as possible and level the playing field in those pre university examination years”

I went to a really good grammar school for my secondary education and was lucky enough to get in despite living WELL out of the catchment area, but my parents couldn’t have afforded tutors because they were expensive (and probably non-existent in a town like Basildon anyway…), although I know lots of other girls have them, so it’s really good to know that my kids won’t be at a disadvantage if they ever need help with their studies.

 

Ignoring the Scales (For Now…)

Ignoring the ScalesAs most of you probably know by now, I’m on YET another weight loss mission having failed about a million times in the past, but I’m doing something a lot more enjoyable and sustainable this time in the hope that I can stick to it. I’m following a low sugar, high fat (ketogenic) diet as it’s been proven to reverse type 2 diabetes, something which is hugely appealing to me. I’ve got a family history of type 2, so theres still a chance I’ll need to be medicated even when I’m down to a healthy weight, but there’s also a good chance that it will reverse altogether.

Willpower is something I’ve struggled with in the past because food is as much of an emotional crutch to me as just simple nutrients but I’m at a point where I’m just so bloody bored of gorging on junk food all the time and the prospect of dying in my sixties (if I’m lucky…) because of a lifetime of greed is enough to make me get off of my arse.

One thing that I’m trying not to do is micro-manage my weight. Every time I’ve ever ‘dieted’ (I put that in inverted commas because I don’t actually see keto as a diet, it’s an eating plan that we should probably all be following on a much more regular basis for optimum health benefits), I tend to get fixated with the scales and weigh myself on a daily basis. This is negative for two reasons – firstly, not all victories happen on the scales. I’ve also started weight lifting, and this usually adds muscle and makes changes to the shape of your body, things which aren’t always positively reflected in terms of “weight”. Secondly, it puts me into a downward spiral of demoralisation.

Today is a prime example. Last week, I made a grand declaration that I wouldn’t be weighing myself until my birthday in mind-June, so that I got to see one big change rather than lots of little ones. However, curiosity after a week of eating well and exercising got the better of me and I stepped onto the scales and happily discovered that I’ve already lost half a stone since New Year’s Day ( YAY ME!). But this is where things go wrong – I weighed myself AGAIN this morning, only for the scales to show I’ve gained two pounds back again.

I can already feel the disappointment weighing heavy on me, even though the logical part of my brain is trying to tell me to chill the f*ck out. This is a marathon, not a sprint. SO many things can play a part in such tiny changes like hormones, water retention, even down to what clothes I’m wearing. But all of the logical explanations aren’t snapping me out of it.

There are various issues that I’ve had when it comes to weight loss, and keeping my head in the game after even the most minor of disappointments is one of the biggest. In the past, if things haven’t gone my way then it’s completely turned my head back around to the “screw it, I may as well binge again” mindset and that’s the demon I’m battling today, but battle it I shall. Instead of letting get the better of me, I’ve had coffee and biltong, I’m drinking water, I’ve taken my supplements and I’m going to the gym before I collect Sausage from school. As long as I stick to that plan and don’t wake up in an hour buried under 800 empty crisp packets, I reckon that’s a win…even if the scales ARE trying to sabotage me. Forgive me for tearing the arse out of the metaphor, but I think this is all about winning the little battles in order to win the overall war against my own laziness and greed.

I think i’ll start weighing myself either weekly or fortnightly – I need a little bit of feedback, just to motivate me and assure me that I’m moving in the right direction, but a six month wait will just be torture!

Tune in next week for “How to deal with toddlers who try to force feed you Quavers when you’re on Keto”. LOL. Not really.

Cleaning and De-Cluttering After Christmas

Post-Christmas Cleaning and De-ClutteringI don’t know about you, but when the tree finally comes down, it feels like a really good time for a big cleaning session and declutter. My kids are still at an age where their toys take up a LOT of room, and Christmas usually means finding even more room for all their stuff, so in order to maintain a tiny bit of decent living space (as well as hanging on to my ever-precarious marbles) I tend to have a bit of a blitz, including all of the things that don’t get cleaned as regularly. Here are a few things which get deep-cleaned at this time of year:

Glassware

Husband has quite a large collection of glasses, ranging from large litre-sized beer glasses from Europe right down to special vodka glasses, and everything in between. It’s not the sort of glassware which gets used every day and is kept on shelves in our dining room, so it does tend to collect dust and this is usually the time of year when it all gets taken down, washed and polished before being put back on the shelves.

Fireplace

Our wood burner gets used a LOT during the winter, in fact it’s roaring away as we speak, but it does need a good clean up every now and again. The ash gets thrown away each time we use it and I vaccum the hearth almost daily, but the glass on the front and the metal parts can get grimy and need a polish.

Doors and Light Switches

Unless you’re a cleaning machine like my friend Sam, there are probably areas of your house that you don’t even NOTICE until they got dirty and things like light switches and doors are a prime example. When you’ve got kids with grubby hands who insist on TOUCHING EVERYTHING, stuff gets sticky, which them attracts dust and can end up looking grubby. Now is the time to give them all a scrub.

Down the Back of the Sofa

If you’ve got a sofa with cushions on it, there’s a good chance that there’s a whole load of crumbs, dust, stray hairs and tony toys hiding down the back of the cushions. Get your vacuum pole down there and give it a good clean out, then a spray with Febreeze. It’ll freshen up your sofa and make it seem much nicer.

Inside Your Cupboards

Go through your cupboards and check the sell-by-dates on everything – I guarantee you’ve got at least one can of food which is well past it’s best. Get rid of anything you can’t use and if there’s anything which is still in date, the local food bank will probably make excellent use of it. This will also make cleaning the shelves a lot easier!