Happy rainy Wednesday everyone!
Today I have a guest post from the wonderful Jane at JCW Fitness. She gave a talk for us last year ‘Fitting in Fitness’ which led to me losing one and a half stone by committing to regular exercise! So, this is definitely worth a read if you are a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to exercise…
P is for painful (procrastination), E is for easy (exercise)
As the weeks and months fly by, it can be frustrating to realise and to have to acknowledge that all the best intentions we have set for ourselves have slipped away unachieved. We may have made good plans with firm resolve to reach certain goals (I’m talking about health and fitness here, but of course it applies more widely to everything doesn’t it?), only to find that we are almost half way through the year, and painful procrastination has got the better of us.
Putting things off is so easy, and in the short term provides us with relief.
“Oh, you know what, I’ll start that new class next month, after my holiday”
“I am actually really busy / tired this month / week, so I will start that new class next month”
The problem is that the relief of procrastination is short-term and superficial, because the real and long-term outcome of procrastination is FAILURE, which is of course painful.
So, in order to avoid this cycle of pain, we need to take a long-term view, and look deeper than the short-term gain of putting things off.
We need to think instead of reaching our goals, and sticking to our resolve and firm intentions, and making it happen. And once you do that, and get to your class, the exercise bit is EASY. (What I mean by that is once you are there, you just do it – I don’t mean easy in terms of intensity).
Making a decision to stick to a plan is an easy one-way thought process – “I’m going to class”. You go, you exercise, you go home, you feel good. Over the weeks and months you reap the rewards. You feel good, you have succeeded. You are a success!
Procrastination is like torture, like an awful argument in your own head… shall I shan’t I, maybe, maybe not, justification of procrastination which ultimately drives us crazy, and we fail (and of course feel like a failure, not a nice feeling!)
So set your intention, make your plan, and banish procrastination! You will be so glad you did.
Jane Wrafter has worked in the fitness industry for 15 years and started JCW Fitness classes in Muswell Hill 13 years ago. JCW Fitness offers a range of flexible classes to members in the Muswell Hill area. Jane has done a lot of work with post-natal women, helping them regain their figure and their confidence. She is a resident expert on the Chrissy B Show – a lifestyle and chat show on Sky and our local Sweaty Betty ambassador.
If you are interested you can get a one week free class pass at the JCW website given below.
Our Style Expert Daisy Schubert talks us through an effective wardrobe spring clean, step by step.
Step 1: Dealing with your fears
What comes to mind when you think of a spring clean? We can have mixed feelings about it, and that’s perfectly okay. To calm our fears and boost our motivation, let’s visualise what might hold us back and tackle each issue one by one:
- No storage for out of season pieces
- Emotional attachment to clothes
- No time
- Might need/ want it later
- Wasted the money spent on the garment
Can you relate to these weaknesses and fears? Is there anything you would want to add to the list? Be realistic with yourself and really think about how you feel about your wardrobe right now. Are you happy with it? Does it feel like a reflection of you? Are your specific weaknesses and fears valid and how can you overcome them?
Could you use your empty suitcase as storage for your winter coat? Maybe invest in some boxes to pack away your out of season pieces. If you have fewer clothes all together, will storage really be an issue?
Our clothes often carry a memory within them. It could be the person who bought it for us, a special occasion we wore it at, or even the joy and panic of sewing our first garment. If there are only one or two pieces that have an emotional meaning, but don’t actually fit or suit you any more, then please rest assured that that’s okay. However, too many clothes fighting for a space in your wardrobe might mean it’s time to let go. This can be tough, but the following tricks can help you to overcome this weakness:
- Separate from them gradually and store these clothes away out of sight. After a while you will realise that the memory is still there but the attachment to the physical object has weakened.
- Find a picture of yourself wearing the garment in the good old days. Hang it inside your wardrobe door and let go of the outfit itself.
- Rather than donating them to your chosen charity, make a point of gifting your favourite piece to someone who you are really close to, someone you truly care about. Seeing your loved ones enjoy your treasure will let it live longer and will give it even more emotional meaning.
We are all busy! But how much time do you waste every morning trying to figure out what to wear? Add that time up and you will quickly realise that spending a Saturday afternoon on a wardrobe spring clean is an excellent investment! Book yourself some me-time!
Missing it later
This is the single most common fear of everyone I’ve ever worked with. We are all worried that we will later regret our decision to let go of a particular garment. But ask yourself: When was the last time you were wearing it? What are the reasons why you haven’t worn it in all this time? Will those reasons change anytime soon? Really then, can you justify hanging on to it?
Yep, that happens! But will you get your money’s worth for keeping a garment in your wardrobe without ever wearing it? A better approach is to learn from your mistakes and stop buying things that are not right for you. Admit to yourself what has happened here and move on.
Ready, get set, spring clean!
Step 2: Getting started
Now that we have eliminated everything that might stop us from committing to an annual spring clean, here is some motivation and guidance to get you started:
- Simplify wardrobe.
- Create space (pack away winter clothes).
- Fresh start to the season.
- More clarity.
- More space.
- Wardrobe should be a true reflection of yourself.
- Clothes only have value when someone is wearing them.
- Checklist (from Pinterest or your from your stylist, see below).
- Your best friend or personal stylist for support.
- Contact a personal stylist near you to book a colour and style analysis. (You can find a personal stylist on the Federation of Image Professionals International website).
Step 3: Sort your wardrobe
- Pretend you could go shopping in your own wardrobe. What would you buy again? Ask yourself: Is it my colour? Does it work for my body shape? Can I hear my style words when holding it up? Will it give me joy for years?
- Sort clothes you’re letting go into three bags or piles: 1) Keep but needs dry cleaning, a repair by a tailor, etc. 2) Special pieces to go to special people 3) Charity shop, #WiWevent, Upcycling etc.
- Hang your YES-clothes back with the hanger in reverse for an easy way to see what you are and aren’t wearing this season. That will make it much easier next time!
Daisy Schubert is a personal stylist. Her website is Wardrobe Workshop.
She is giving a talk on ‘Dressing for your Body Shape’ this Monday 9th May, 8pm, at The Clissold Arms, N2 9HR
For £8 advance tickets use the code blog100 at
Good luck with your Spring Wardrobe Cleaning!
Professional declutter coach gave a wonderful talk on Monday! Thanks Isabelle – I could see everyone at the front of the room taking pictures of the organisation ideas on the screen so I thought I would share these great ideas with you to remind and inspire you…
As Isabelle said – step 1: Declutter but they key to remaining decluttered is step 2: Organisation…
We have the Hallway….
and the kids bedroom…
I am going to try the umbrella and accessories hooks in the hallway, a bit more boring but required seperating baby Noemi’s clothes into seperate boxes in the draw and how cute are the cars on the wall for Ralph’s bedroom!
How about you? Are you inspired!
First 5 to respond back to me on it can get a free face to face declutter assessment with Isabelle from IDea for your space. Just give me a shout!*
For more info on Isabelle and her services check out her website:
*Valid North London only
I am so pleased to have a quick Q&A introduction to Isabelle from IDea for your Space, a professional organiser and declutter coach with a bit more info on what decluttering is all about and why she loves i
Cat: Lots of people aren’t aware of declutter coaches, what’s this all about?
Isabelle: Many people dream of having a clutter-free home and for some of them it has been on their “to-do list” for many weeks (months?) but people feel often overwhelmed by the task, others don’t know where to start or have no clue on how to proceed. As a declutter coach I help my clients to reach their goal of having a decluttered, a more organised and a calmer life.
I’m an extra pair of hands, I guide my clients (but without influencing them), asking some relevant questions to help them to make a decision on some difficult/sentimental items which can be tough to let go. I also advise them on the kind of smart storage options which would help to make the most of their space. I bring all the useful material to make the decluttering process easier. And I help them to stay focused on the task until it’s finished.
Cat: What do you love about your job?
Isabelle: I love helping people. The first time we meet, most of my clients are ashamed, stressed by the state of their home, they have the feeling they will never be organised. At the end of the process, they are re-energised, proud of themselves and feel much lighter. They are happy: this is my reward!
All my clients are different, with different backgrounds, different stories behind each possession. For some of them letting go is easy, for others it’s more difficult. I love being confronted to a new challenge every time (and some projects are really challenging…).
Cat: Are there any quick and easy tips you can give busy mums for keeping clutter free?
Isabelle: For staying clutter free, the secret is to keep our stuff organised. “A place for everything, everything in its place” is my favourite adage… Having a place (clearly identified and known from each family member (!)) for each single possession is the best way to keep clutter free. Store like items in a lovely container (basket, box, crate…) is an effective and neat solution. They will be easy to retrieve and easy to put back. It can also be useful to label the container, even with a picture for the youngest ones.
Cat: Sorting Self is all about finding a bit of me time for busy mums, how do you spend your free time?
Isabelle: As a mum of three super busy / sporty teenagers, my free time is quite limited… but I always make sure I regularly meet my school mums’ group for a dinner or a drink. Exercising and meeting new people are very important to me as well. That’s why I run with Gladstone Parkrun every Saturday morning and I join the Brent GoodGym Group on Monday’s evening when I’m available.
I also love walking long hours in London with my husband. And before sleeping I love reading a book which most of the time (I have to admit) contains in its title the word “organisation” or “clutter”… #ilovemyjob
Join us this Monday 25th April at The Clissold Arms, 105 Fortis Green, N2 9HR where Isabelle will be talking about ‘Decluttering & Organising Your Home’ – where you can learn how to declutter your home and get organised so you can spend more time doing the things that really matter to you
Tickets are available at www.sortingself.com
Isabelle Lamy is a professional organiser. After 15 years in Marketing and moving around the world living in a variety of homes she decided to turn her passion for organisation and design into her career. Isabelle graduated in Paris in interior design and as a member of apdo-uk, she frequently attends workshops and conferences designed for Professional Organisers. She has also worked for the IKEA interior design team where she developed specific skills in storage organisation.
For more info on Isabelle and IDea for your Space see http://www.ideaforyourspace.com/
Thanks again to Dorothy an Stephanie for their engaging and inspiring talk ‘Beauty from the Inside’ last month.
Below are some of Stephanie’s key takeaways from the talk and a link to Dorothy’s Cold Cucumber & Avacado Soup she made for us on the day!
Stephanie’s top 3 beauty nutrition tips to get you glowing from the inside…
1. Make sure you are getting your essential omega 3 fats – these are important for keeping all cells supple and healthy. Best sources are oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines and omega eggs. Others include walnuts and flaxseeds.
2. Get plenty of colour into your diet – eating a colourful variety of fruit and veg will nourish you with skin, hair and nail-boosting nutrients. Particular winners include bell peppers, cherries, avocado, kiwi, berries, mushrooms, asparagus, broccoli and tomatoes.
3. Keep hydrated with fresh water – it’s such a simple beauty essential yet so many people don’t do it. Keeping hydrated daily will help to flush toxins out that otherwise can make your skin look tired.
Avocado is a great beauty food not just because it contains skin-boosting vitamins Cand E but also because it is a good source of folate. Folate is a B vitamin that has been found to play a key role in protecting our chromosomes, in particular the ends of our chromosomes (called telomeres) from shortening. The length of our telomeres reflects our biological age, and poor lifestyle and dietary choices can accelerate their shortening. Another key ingredient in this soup is cucumber, which is particularly good at clearing toxins from the gut so the skin doesn’t have to deal with them instead.
You can reach Fig & Bloom at http://www.figandbloom.com/
Lucy from Bean to Bar Chocolate is a chocolate tasting expert and give us some tips on how to taste fine chocolate before our next session on Monday!
Prepare in advance to get the most from a chocolate tasting. Firstly, prep your palate by avoiding strongly flavoured foods the evening before and in the hours leading up to your tasting. This includes no perfume or aftershave, which may interfere with picking up aromas. Have spring water available to drink between each piece of chocolate, some people also like to use sliced apple, bread or plain crackers to cleanse the palate with. In an ideal scenario you would know which order to taste in, so that you moved from the milder flavoured chocolate to the boldest. Unfortunately, cocoa content is not a reliable way to gauge this as some 80% cocoa mass bars have a similar character to those at 70%, whereas some 70% bars can have a depth and strength that you might only expect at higher percentages.
Aroma, taste, texture and snap provide the clues in judging a bar of chocolate. Many people think that chocolate with a high percentage is a sign of quality: this is simply not the case. When tasting, look for the merits of the bar – how it smells, how it feels in the mouth and the flavours that develop. Try including a couple of dark chocolates widely available in supermarkets/ newsagents, which are being sold as high quality bars. My experience is that these ‘quality’ bars are mostly bland, flat and bitter (burnt) in comparison to the chocolate being made by the best producers from the craft chocolate movement. This is because the vast majority of mass-produced bars are made from low-grade beans grown on the Ivory Coast, which are then excessively roasted to dullness.
Experiment in how you taste. For instance, I compare the flavours I find between slow tasting as well as normal speed tasting. Slow tasting allows the chocolate to melt in your mouth, providing a longer and more complex flavour experience. However, a quicker tasting allows me to understand what most people experience when they bite into a bar. Then I write tasting notes taking both of these into consideration. 5-8 chocolates is probably enough in one sitting, stop before the palate becomes muted. And, finally, remember not to dismiss milk chocolate: there are some wonderful, complex milk chocolates available.
The quality of the temper* is the first thing to look for. Chocolate needs to be properly tempered in order to have a glossy shine and a good snap. Poorly tempered chocolate will look cloudy, have a dull snap and give an unsatisfying graininess in the mouth.
*The result of a process of heating and cooling, which crystallises the cocoa butter in the chocolate.
Fine cocoa is known to contain hundreds of flavours, and the best way to begin detecting these is through smell. Before trying the chocolate smell it and see what aromas you notice, this will get your palate ready for tasting.
How does it feel in the mouth? Different chocolate makers have different styles, some prefer producing bars which feel drier in the mouth, whilst others opt for a silky smooth texture.
I find taste varies depending on the time of day, what has been eaten previously and what bars are being tried alongside. There is no right or wrong answer to flavour experience: anything that comes to mind is valid. However, what you may find is that you’ll be able to articulate flavours more easily with time.
- FLORAL: Lavender, rose, orange blossom, jasmine, honey
- EARTHY: Woods, leather, tobacco, moss, olives
- ROASTED: Molasses, smoke, toast, burnt
- FRUITY: Citrus fruits, red fruits, yellow fruits, berries, dried fruit, vine fruit
- NUTTY: Almonds, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts
- HERBS/ SPICY: Nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, allspice, cloves, basil, mint, liquorice
- BUTTERY: Caramel, butter, cream, toffee, malt
- Long/ short finish
Lucy will conduct a Single Origin Chocolate Tasting this Monday 21st March at the Clissold Arms, N2, Please join us!
Lucy is the owner of Bean to Bar Chocolate (an online fine chocolate supplier), and has a specialist knowledge of the craft chocolate movement. Her interests are in small batch, ethical producers who are making extraordinary chocolate from around the world.
Similar to a book or film club, Lucy also runs a monthly chocolate tasting club at the Arthouse in Crouch End where a group of chocolate fans discuss and learn about a variety of craft chocolate bars in an informal social setting.
For more information: www.beantobarchocolate.co.uk
I am so pleased to have an interview with the wonderful (and very youthful looking) Stephanie and Dorothy from Fig & Bloom – some juicy tips on healthy eating for busy mums and some insight into their busy lives as local Muswell Hill mums…
Cat: What led you to set up Fig & Bloom?
Stephanie: I am a nutritionist (and a wannabe chef), and I met Dorothy, a holistic chef (and wannabe nutritionist) on the school run when our children started reception together. We got to know each other and quickly realised we shared a passion for promoting health through delicious food. It didn’t take long before we decided to join forces and Fig & Bloom was born.
A chef and nutritionist combination works so well because people need not only the scientific evidence for nutritional recommendations, but also practical guidance on how to then turn that information into something easy and delicious.
Dorothy: After moving to London and setting up my own healthy catering business, I realised that creating recipes and preparing food was only part of what I wanted to do. I really wanted to teach and empower people to take care of themselves through food, not just serve it to them. When Stephanie and I started to talk about what we did I had a real light-bulb moment about how we could work together. As a self-taught chef I had developed a lot of knowledge about healthy food over the years, but working with Stephanie, a registered nutritional therapist, has taught me so much in a short space of time!
Cat: What do you love about your job?
Stephanie: When I first see a client they are usually struggling with their health or finding it difficult to fit healthy eating into their busy lifestyles. Seeing that client improve and the impact that improvement has on their long-term wellbeing is incredibly rewarding.
Dorothy: I love spending time in the kitchen experimenting with new ingredients and creating delicious new recipes. But I also love receiving all the positive emails and photos from clients who are really enjoying their new healthy recipes and menu plans that we created for them – one recent photo from a client almost made me cry! Her enthusiasm and appreciation for how we had helped her to make healthier meals that all her family would enjoy made me so proud.
Cat: What’s your number one piece of nutritional or cooking advice for busy mums?
Stephanie: Stabilise your sugar levels! It’s dull I know and difficult for many, but tackling sugar cravings is one of the best things you can do for your long term health and your family’s.
Dorothy: I would say my top piece of cooking advice would be to PLAN! If you set yourself up for a few easy meals during the week, ideally ones that will last you more than one day, then you will have the time and freedom to play a bit. Buy a cookbook, magazine or look online for inspiration, and remember you don’t have to follow a recipe to the word but it does help with new tasty ideas.
Cat: Sorting Self is all about finding a bit of me time for busy mums, how do you spend your free time?
Stephanie: walking or running with my dog – she makes sure I get out in the fresh (London) air for a good hour every day and I spend that time either with friends or ‘reading’ yet another nutrition audiobook…
Dorothy: As a busy Mom & business owner, I have found that I need to stick to my yoga classes they make me more focused at work & nicer at home! Otherwise, exploring London….we moved here 1 1/2 years ago and there are just so many amazing spots to explore. We went to see Buckingham Palace and the horse guards’ parade over half term – I just have to pinch myself sometimes that I live here (originally being form the US), I love London.
Join us this Monday 7th March at The Clissold Arms, 105 Fortis Green, N2 9HR where Stephanie and Dorothy will be talking about ‘Beauty from the Inside’ – where you can learn the essentials of beauty nutrition and how to quickly prepare delicious foods for glowing hair, skin and nails
Tickets are available at www.sortingself.com
Fig & Bloom are a Muswell Hill based consultancy specialising in nutrition, cooking tutorials and recipe development aimed at improving health and wellbeing for the long-term, founded by Stephanie, a registered nutritional therapist and Dorothy, a holistic chef. They use the latest science-based nutritional information to create fabulous tasting food, and help their clients nourish themselves easily, effectively and deliciously.
For more info on Fig & Bloom see www.figandbloom.com/