Love in the time of C̶h̶o̶l̶e̶r̶a̶ Coronavirus

Corona weeks are like dog years. One week in isolation is like one month in real time. We have been in strict isolation for over a month now but it feels like 6 months. Woof.

On the first day of isolation, my true love sent to me…..let me start that again. I had no control over where that sentence went. I may be an orthodox Jew but when it’s 1985 and you’re 7 years old and you’re offered the opportunity to sing Xmas carols with your school choir in a concert at THE PERTH CONCERT HALL….well, oh come let us adore him.

Okay back to March 2020…..

On the first day of isolation, I got dressed as normal. My enthusiasm was flagging by the second day, and I was hankering for an oil stained bassike black t-shirt dress which a few months ago I had discarded on the grounds that, being irreparably stained I could no longer wear it in public. Who could have possibly known that that a few months later “can’t be worn in public” would cease to be a thing.

By day 3 I realised I needed a whole new wardrobe (yep you all saw that coming – or at least Working Boy did). Before I had even uttered the words, my phone sensed the sartorial change in me and an ad for Hybernate appeared in my insta-story feed. “Hmmm loungewear,” I thought. “I’ve never considered loungewear…..I have only ever needed clothes and pyjamas. Not a hybrid of the two. Who spends THAT much time lounging around their home that they need a wardrobe for it?” (As it turns out me. And you. And pretty much everyone). And yet…..there was a powerful force, deep inside me….I could hear a faint voice whispering ‘loungewear’. Yes! Loungewear! I NEED loungewear! The voice got louder and more insistent. I clicked on the advert.

You could almost see the siren light start flashing and hear the alarm ringing at Instagram headquarters. And the man with the megaphone calling out “Loungewear!!! She’s interested in loungewear!! Flood the feed! Flood the feed! Go! Go! Go!!!!”.

My Instagram feed is now loungewear central. I have adverts for nothing else. It is all I am exposed to.

Clothes are my thing. I love them. And I cannot BE if I don’t feel dressed for the occasion. And so I present to you

Shopping Girl’s COVID19 Isolation Loungewear Edit 2020

1. Bassike.

Before I knew what had hit me, before the concept of loungewear had occurred to me, my body was screaming out for Bassike – some great (designer) cotton and jersey basics.

For some reason everything I need to be wearing right now has the word “slouch”, or worse, “slub”, in it. But if “slouch” is code word for “comfortable, flatteringly drapey (crucial in this post-Spanx era) and soft as a cloud ….well bring on the slouch. My winter look last season was jeans under every dress and a fluffy / furry coat or jacket. When I was a teenager jeans were soooooooo comfy. But now that I’m 41 and have birthed 4 beings they are not. Stuffed if I’m wearing jeans when I’m home all day. I need something that feels like pjs but keeps my legs warm. I want:

The ISO Dress:

The ISO Pants:

2. Hybernate

So as mentioned, Hybernate popped up in my feed before I’d even thought of loungewear. Straight away I zeroed in on the nightie. The dress. The nightie. The dress. Look I don’t know which it is but who cares? I can sleep in it and open the gate with pride for the Woollies delivery guy (the only person outside my family who I see). I can zoom, homeschool, even go for a drive with my learner driver (First Born)….and go back to bed again. It is literal day to night wear.

I ordered the navy and the white. So fast that I broke one of my cardinal rules and missed a discount. ALWAYS subscribe to the email newsletter first – you’ll get 10% off. Within a few hours I was notified the dresses had been sent. And within two days they arrived. They are perfect…..everything that I said before, and more. Soft enough to do yoga in. Not that I do yoga. But you know being with your 4 kids 24/7, 7 days a week with no end in sight, does strange things to a person. All bets are off. Om.

Little Sidebar On The Topic of Yoga

All the yoga wear looks amazing right now. Lululemon, Sweatybetty, Nimble…it looks so appealing. This is athleisure’s time to shine and it knows it. Everyone is either at home looking for some inner peace and quiet (I’d like some outer peace and quiet too personally) or they’re out, obsessively walking their dog / child. This popped up on my FB feed today:

They’ve called it the Warm Hugs bundle. Warm Hugs Bundle. I mean. How can you NOT want a warm hugs bundle. It sounds so cozy, so soothing, so perfect. Trust meI am the family teddy bear right now. I am SO desperate not to be hugged continually and even I want the warm hugs bundle.

3. Sheepskin slides.

If ever there was a time for new slippers, this is it. Shoes? Shoes? Who needs shoes?? The best thing about this whole isolation palaver is that no-one needs socks (apart from when I kick everyone out for a walk) and now I no longer need to sort socks. It’s not quite cold enough for uggs 24/7 so fluffy sides are my choix du jour. I like these ones from Andrea & Joen:

4. Tluxe

Like Bassike but….but….well pretty much like Bassike. But you can’t wear the same thing every day and your Bassike will need to go in the wash at some point….probs from sidewalk chalk… this stuff looks gorgeous, soft, comfy etc. Ticks all the same boxes. These are my picks:

The Organic Cotton Cocoon Dress

The Organic Cotton Slouch Pant

The Organic Cotton Box Top

5. Papinelle

There will be some days when you want to get changed into pyjamas rather than just falling into a post kids’ bedtime, G&T and Netflix fuelled deep slumber. I’m not sure why and when that will be but if you do want actual pjs, these sound amazing. It may just be marketing. I have no idea. But I want to find out.

Feather Soft pyjamas


According to just about everyone on TikTok, the key to making this ‘loungewear look’ look expensive and stylish is keeping it monochrome, a slash of red lipstick, some gold jewellery, and hair pulled back in a slick, neat bun.

But that’s too much effort for me right now.

Okay that’s it.

Until next time…..

Xoxo Shopping Girl

Ps A message to Incu, an awesome Sydney store. This came up in your “at home loungewear” edit.

Look. I understand that these days of COVID19 and isolation are a confusing time for all of us. These are indeed unprecedented times. Your Maison Kitsuné, Acne and Isabel Marant oversized tees and sweats? Yes. This 👆🏻??? Yeah that’s a hard “no”. If you stick to Shopping Girl’s golden 3 criteria you’ll be fine. Comfortable. Soft. Flattering. If it doesn’t invoke notions of clouds you’re barking up the wrong outfit. Woof.


Apple Watch: THE Review

First Born and Cooking Child bought me an Apple Watch. They decided to buy it themselves, chose the style and colour (correctly) themselves, purchased it themselves and, most importantly, PAID for it THEMSELVES. Extraordinarily thoughtful and generous for a 15 and 13 year old. So it’s not exactly my shopping but it was shopped for, so well within the blog’s coverage.

I could not have been more excited to receive the watch. It is one of the best presents I have ever received that was not chosen (and purchased) by me.

Rose gold and blush pink. How very me.

A couple of posts ago I spoke about purchases that make you feel good or bad about yourself….or both, as in the case of the watch.

The watch has many useful aspects. I no longer have to walk around clutching my phone in my hand. My wrist receives all important messages and calls. Useful.

Reagan doesn’t like us checking our phone during gym class. Like all mothers, I don’t like NOT being able to check my phone in case a metaphorical fire that only I am capable of extinguishing befalls my children in the 45 minutes I am separated from my phone. Now I can just surreptitiously check my wrist. Again, useful.

The watch also tells the time.

However, my watch has a nasty habit of bullying me into productivity. The more I do, and specifically the longer I stand, the happier the watch is with me. I don’t need to be pressured into being more productive – I am excellent at pressuring myself all by myself.

At the end of the first day I wore the watch, it tapped me to tell me the following:

The watch was pleased with me. I had been standing for 12 of 12 hours. This was when I first suspected that the watch did not necessarily have my best interests at heart. I want a watch that sees I have been on my feet for even 6 hours, and tells me to sit down with a cup of coffee and have a relaxing scroll on Instagram.

The next day things declined. It was one of those days. You know the ones. School holidays. You think you’re winning because the house is silent and then…..

your 5 year old discovers the joy of stamping, his bare skin the tempting canvas. No inch can be left unstamped.

The kids start fighting and don’t stop. You have to be in 5 different places at once. The kids whinge. The washing piles up as it rains incessantly. The dryer slows down on purpose.

You run around all day and the second you cross the threshold of your home, just as the kids start telling you that they are starving and what is for dinner (even though they KNOW you have been out with them all day and have not cooked a thing yet), your watch taps you and says:

If the kids were not around, you would actually tell the watch to fuck off. Breathe??? BREATHE???? Seriously the least it could do is use its calling capabilities to summon Jimmy Brings for an urgent Shiraz delivery. And Deliveroo Katzys for the kids. The technology is there. Clearly the programmer does not have kids.

Later on that night, after another congratulatory tap & wrist party for standing up the whole bloody day again, it suggests I go for a brisk walk. At 11pm. Because I am SO close to closing my forward motion ring. G-d forbid I go to bed with my rings unclosed. Watch does not care about the safety risk of going for a solo walk late at night. Watch does not care that I have been STANDING THE WHOLE day. NO! All watch cares about is closing its walking ring. If the watch were really clever it would be telling me to breathe again right now because I am close to hyperventilating in outrage.

On the upside, now that I know how long I stand for every day, I feel not a drop guilty for indulging in the occasional foot massage. In the same way that a manicure used to be a spa only indulgence and then were brought to the masses by fast, cheap, US style nail bars, massages have followed suit. A group of girlfriends introduced me to Siam Cabana last year and it remains my favourite (and it’s open til 10pm) but massage bars are everywhere. I now have a foot massage and cocktails tradition with my sister in law…we take each other on our birthdays but we’re thinking of expanding our reasons for celebration beyond two nights a year.

A half hour foot massage allows me to soothe my floor weary feet and write a blog at the same time. Productive. My watch would approve.

XOXO Shopping Girl

Workout worked out

Being healthy is expensive. As I keep telling Working Boy, I am spending money on being healthy now in order to save MORE money later on expensive vitamin supplements and, you know, body part replacements. I have no idea if this is actually accurate but I think it sounds good. I am actually an economist.

You, perhaps, are reading this because, like Shopping Girl, you want to work out. Before you work out WHERE you will exercise, you will need to go shopping. For clothes. Don’t shoot the messenger – I didn’t make the (first world) rules. But the rules dictate, you have to look the part. Luckily, in the last few years, designer exercise gear has taken off and is the most massive industry. It’s gorgeous. It’s addictive. Possibly more addictive than those post-exercise endorphins (I am so slow at exercising it took my body two years to start producing these).

The sad truth (for me who likes icecream) is that when it comes to clothes, nothing goes with cellulite but everything goes with thin. And with that comes exercise.

Feargal Sharkey said that a good heart these days is hard to find. I don’t think he ever looked for good gym leggings or it would have been a very different song. They are indeed, hard to find. Lululemon makes my legging of choice (I am a good eastern suburbs housewife after all). Yes they are expensive. In their defence, they hold in my stomach AND leg flab, and they do this without creating more rolls above the waistband. I’m not looking to create a muffin top whilst giving up my muffin tops.

As an aside, why is it that extra fat on our body is referred to in bakery terms?? Rolls….muffins…..cupcakes (fine, I made that last one up)…..we’ve only just got started talking about our health and it’s inducing a fierce carb craving. I guess rolls make rolls and muffin tops make muffin tops.

Lululemon Fast and free crop

Anyway back to the leggings…they spring back to as new shape (and fat holding strength) after every wash. They are comfortable, they don’t ride up. They don’t fall down. In short long, they are worth it.

One thing I don’t buy at Lululemon is crop tops/ sports bras. In fact I don’t buy crop tops at all. Even in the comfort of my own home, this is me trying to get an overhead crop top on (hopefully without the police coming in at the end).

I don’t have time for that. I need it to take 5 seconds to put on like a normal bra. There’s a hungry 5 year old tyrant at the door, waiting shouting for his breakfast.

The only sports bra (ie that fastens at the back) that Lululemon has, is called a Ta Ta Tamer. Let’s just pause for a moment here. A Ta Ta Tamer. I don’t have Ta Tas. And even if I did, they do NOT need “taming”.

I love the look of so many of the crop tops around. Gorgeous colours, patterns and designs.

All from Style Runner

Now I just have to decide if I want to wake 5 minutes earlier each day to get myself into one. Actually I don’t need to decide. It’s a no. Moving on…..

My gym of choice is Third Space Health. My first prerequisite for a gym is proximity to my home. If it takes me more than 5 minutes to get to exercise, I will talk myself out of going before I get there.

Third Space is friendly and unpretentious. No-one reminds me of my school phys-Ed teachers. This is important. Not having PE classes rates in my top 5 Best Things About Not Being at School….possibly even top 3 and it’s a competitive list.

Third Space run small weights based group classes . It’s more expensive than, say, going for a jog but cheaper than personal training, even though the level of guidance and attention you get is personal. So, on balance, I’d say it’s value. I like a class that is weights based. I feel like I am preventing future osteoporosis (weight bearing exercise!). I also like saying things like “I can deadlift 75kg”. Which is true. I can deadlift 75kg (I told you I liked saying it).

Stay tuned for the next round of advertising starring me and Baby N, right Reagan????

Reagan, the owner and most often my trainer, is one part psychologist, one part physio, one part philosopher and two parts comedian. It turns out I need a bit of funny to get me through a workout. Staff of the Phys-Ed department of Perth College circa the 90’s: take note. If you were funnier, I might have been better at Sport.

Exercise is just one component of being healthy though. I could also get started on the food side. But at some point I would have to type “cacao”. I cannot in all seriousness say “cacao”. I literally cannot keep a straight face whilst saying it. I have a special expression just for saying “cacao”. Cacao is the superior cocoa. Cocoa – meh. Cacao – smug. Cacao, as my insta-friend Nikki would say, is peak Bondi.

But it’s not just cacao’s fault. I’ve run out of time.

Class over. Happy Shopping.


A tale of two girls

Once upon a time there lived a girl princess called Lauren. She lived in a very small castle in a very small city called Perth. The princess liked to buy clothes. It was a hobby, if you will. A very expensive hobby. Hobbies generally are.

One day, when Lauren was 13 she bought a t-shirt. A marle grey t-shirt from Sportsgirl that said “Sportsgirl” on it, in pastel letters.

26 years later, the princess was still wearing the t-shirt, albeit to bed. She now lived in a bigger castle in a bigger city.

She rarely shopped at Sportsgirl anymore. Being 39, she accepted that she was not really their target market. She was neither a “girl”, nor sporty. Though had there been a Sportswoman shop, she would not have shopped there either. Sportswoman sounded either too sporty or too middle aged….Lauren wasn’t sure which, but she did not identify with either concept (though that did not preclude her from buying an impressive range of gym wear, nor stopped her turning 40 before the publishing of this post).

She still received Sportsgirl emails, which she normally deleted before reading. Or more likely left unread, which is how she ended up with this particular situation….

One day, quite by accident, Princess Lauren opened a Sportsgirl email. And there was a dress. Not just any dress….an autumn floral boho dress.

It was so her. A little boho, a little floral, a little modest, a little casual….and at $119, it was an obvious choice for Lauren. She bought it, and patiently waited for the endless Sydney summer to subside.

As the temperature dropped (a degree), the princess deemed it cool enough to move to her autumn wardrobe.

She felt great the first time she wore it. Young, fun and a little bit hippy. Dressing a little bit hippy always relaxed the princess….if she dressed like she had not a care in the world, then maybe she would begin to feel like she really had not a care in the world….

The princess felt great all evening…..that is until she saw some video footage of herself. Seated. The dress had ballooned around her and rather than looking a little boho luxe….the princess deflatedly noted that she looked nothing more than fat. Reality jarred loudly with the image in her head.

Despite this, the next norning, Lauren picked up the dress off her floor-drobe, where she had dropped it the night before, and put it back on. The weather was right and the morning was a rush – who had time to conceive of a new outfit and image?

Despite the downfall of the previous evening, The princess felt good again. Perhaps it was more of a daytime dress. She floated off to Westfield to do her fruit and vegetable shopping, feeling like really she belonged at an organic farmers’ market.

It was the perfect fruit and vegetable shopping dress. The produce seemed fresher. The possibilities of providing nutritious fare seemed endless. She instantly became the sort of person who instagrammed eggplants.

She felt great. She was all her insta-inspo in one. She felt all Zimmermann-y, Talitha Getty in Morocco-y, Spell & the Gypsy-y…..she was the human embodiment of cotton gauze and a few sequins….

And then she got to the check out….and she clocked the girl in faded grey skinny jeans, insouciantly ripped, her C&M singlet, Bassike cardigan and Golden Goose trainers whispering effortless cool.

Yes, all of a sudden, Princess Lauren felt all wrong. Boho luxe felt 7 seasons ago….and it felt like completely the WRONG aesthetic to have aligned herself with, even though she did so because most of the time it felt very very right.

Effortless cool lady had an effortlessly cool baby. A seriously cute effortlessly cool baby. Of course she did.

As Princess Lauren’s spring in her step receded, and she began unloading her produce onto the conveyer belt with much less enthusiasm than it had been placed into the trolley with, she caught the eye of effortless cool girl.

“I love your dress,” said the girl. “And it really goes well with your hair”.

“I love your baby,” replied Princess Lauren, feeling once again extremely regal and like the boho princess she had always intended to be. It just took a compliment from a stranger, albeit a stylish stranger, to extinguish the sartorial angst. And prevent an expensive wardrobe overhaul.

Though she did still buy a pair of golden goose trainers on her next birthday.

The End.

XOXO Shopping Girl

Shopping Girl Back to School Lunchbox Special

Hi. Shopping Girl here. I know it’s been a while. I know you’ve read it all before after I’ve disappeared for a few months. Blah blah blah….been so busy…..blah blah….no time to write. Just remember, it’s never because I stopped shopping.

So after 7 lovely-but-rather-long weeks of glorious summer holidays, keeping 4 kids happy, entertained, fed, watered and sun-creamed all day long, the kids are back at school and the term-time chaos, that every parent of a school-age child is familiar with, has begun.

Every night around 10pm (though REALLY intend on changing this to 2pm this year) I begin the mission of making 4 recesses and lunches. (Actually 5….I could be a feminist and refuse to make Working Boy’s lunch because…FEMINISM but then I’d also be an arch bitch because I’m ALREADY making 4 lunches. Feminism is about choice. I CHOOSE to not be a bitch. See? Feminism).

There are SO many rules these days when it comes to school lunch preparation. No nuts. No meat (at our school). Rubbish free. Easy to open. No treats. Ice packs for freshness compulsory. Aim for a protein filled sandwich. Then there’s the child enforced rules… only eats jam or cucumber sandwiches. One likes grapes and rice crackers. One likes everything except grapes and rice crackers. One likes yoghurt but only strawberry chobani pouches. One liked yoghurt last week but can’t stand it this week but will have a boiled egg. One won’t eat a boiled egg but will eat an apple. One ONLY likes apples at home but not at school. It really defies belief.

As far as I remember, when I was at school I had a small packet of chips or an Uncle Toby’s muesli bar (chewy not crunchy) for recess and a sandwich (which I mostly didn’t eat) for lunch. I think “making the lunches” must have taken my mum about 5 minutes, between my sister and I. Possibly less. And certainly nothing close to the nightly ordeal it has become for me. There were no rules. There was no agonising. There were no blogs about lunch making.

It is no bloody wonder that year in year out, I am searching for the perfect lunchbox. The perfect lunchbox that will magically make lunch preparation less of a chore.

When the kids were little, I was convinced that if I could just find the perfect kids cookbook then my kids would eat everything. First I bought this:

Clearly my kids were still not convinced because then I bought:

When the pureeing of vegetables and sneaking them into food became too much I bought:

(Totally unrelated fact: when I first moved to Sydney and worked in a no longer existent bookshop in Double Bay, I once served a heavily pregnant Antonia Kidman. I can’t remember what she bought).

I finally realised that no cookbook or recipe was magically going to make my children eat every nutritious morsel I prepared for them. Until this past year when I relapsed and bought:

Every year I come up with what seems to be a Holy Grail lunchbox solution….until it’s not. Then the following year rocks around, and someone comes up with a new lunch box and I think “maybe THIS one will be easy to prepare, easy to clean, easy to open, leak free (following the great soy sauce spillage of 2015), rubbish free, easy to stay cold and somehow make my lunches look a little more Pinterest”.

I also need CHEAP. When Baby N started kindy, I got him a (ridiculously overpriced) Yumbox. In fact, the price was the only thing it didn’t have going for it.

Problem one: if you a buy a lunchbox with 6 sections then you have to prepare 6 different types of food. And whilst that may be nutritious and aesthetically pleasing…I don’t want to have to think of 6 things to put in when I can have a different lunchbox that has 3 sections. I’d end up cheating mostly because a sandwich cut into 6 rectangles only fits by spreading across TWO sections (4 to go still).

Enter Yumbox 2, when the hinges on Yumbox 1 broke (which for $40 they really shouldn’t!). The panino. Less sections. Space for a sandwich.

However I can’t afford to spend $160 on lunchboxes. Moreover I actually have a moral objection to it. I still needed a better solution.

Cheap is key. If I buy cheap then everyone can have two lunchboxes and THEN I can (hypothetically) make the next day’s lunches before they are even back from school #shoppinggirllifehack.

Over the summer, I came across these

It was my perfect lunchbox. For $26 I could have 8 lunchboxes. All the same. No worrying about whose is whose. No-one not knowing where their lunchbox is. It suits the 14 year old as much as the 4 year old. I could see it before my eyes – a lunch making utopia. I clicked “add to cart”, filled in my details and then fell OFF MY SOFA as the whopping $60 shipping from the USA charge was added.

Back to square one. Days turned into nights and still…no lunchbox solution. A heavy, relentless dread of never finding the right lunchbox befell me*. And then came a back to school email from K-mart. A quick peruse revealed these:

They only have blue and pink online now but I picked up a pile of clear ones at my local Kmart. $5 a piece.

Kmart to the rescue, once again.

The same searching occurs with water bottles. Water bottles seem to go through crazes. Last year it was all about the spray bottle. Specifically THIS one:

I’m sure you can all guess that rather than quenching Cooking Child’s thirst, this bottle was mostly used as a spraying weapon, by Baby N.

This year it is ALL about the metal insulated bottle. I got this one at Typo last year….

I was so impressed with it and its water cooling capabilities, that I decided to upgrade Cooking Child to a 1 litre, as he was downing the 500ml too fast. I bought one for Master T too…..his plastic one from last year leaked (Holy Grail water bottles do not leak) and smelled, like plastic ones all end up smelling (not good). Master T returned from school on day one and reported to me “Everyone has one of these water bottles!”. Yep, I am nothing if not on trend with the Year 4 set.

It’s truly amazing how long I can talk about lunchboxes and water bottles for….I guess I’ll have to save name labels and stationary for another time.

XOXO Shopping Girl

* this is not strictly true

My style: Zimmermann with a side of……

I have writer’s amnesia. I cannot remember when I have written something before. I cannot distinguish in my mind between thought, published written word, and drafted but unposted content. As a result, I sometimes have to plough through my own blog and the unpublished drafts to work out whether I have already posted an idea already. As I was doing this just now, in preparation to write another piece, I came across this draft I must have written last summer, when I was last with my family in Perth….I’m not sure why I never posted it but here it is, 9 months later (I guess my blog just gave birth to another post):

If you believe what the magazines tell you, everyone has a personal style. One of my friends once optimistically described mine as “eclectic”. I’m fairly sure that’s a euphemism for inconsistent. Personally I think my look could be called “seasonal”. Or maybe “dressy”. Not because I’m permanently in party wear, but more because I’m pretty much permanently in dresses. Dress-y. I think I have been wearing dresses now almost exclusively for at least 2 years. And although they have been my staple because they are just SO easy to chuck on, I’m starting to emerge from my dress bubble. I can feel the stirrings of a skirt craving…..a gorgeous little skirt like this:

With a soft, plain white t-shirt, the sleeves rolled just-so. It may seem like I’m dress digressing here but there’s a reason I’ve got a skirt yearning…..

There’s something about the onset of a new season that plays around with my image of myself and, perhaps, of who I want to be. I have discussed before the gap between my wardrobe and my actual life. The summer holidays brings out the worst in me. In winter, I can flit between Blair Waldorf preppy

and Bassike minimalism

then segue into a little boho luxe for spring, but come summer I want resort. I want off the shoulder tops and little flippy skirts and strappy, Grecian sandals. I want smooth, golden, lithe limbs (it’s a fantasy okay?). I want to look like I spend my summer days lying on a Greek Island / Tahiti / Byron Bay….even Palm Beach…..and my evenings sipping cocktails and dancing into the night.

In short, I want to be the Zimmermann resort girl, Little Joe Woman, and Ulla Johnson girl all rolled into one. I have spent some time (30 seconds? A minute?) pondering why this ridiculous compulsion overtakes me every summer and I have decided I am not completed deluded. I know I am a pale pink 38 39 year old, mother of four, with cellulite. It’s the feeling these clothes are selling me. Namely relaxation, carefree lack of responsibility……and a little fun.

So this is how I found myself walking / flitting down my parents’ suburban street in a gorgeous Zimmermann floral broderie anglaise day dress

and K Jaques sandals.

In my head I’d spent the morning on the beach and now I’m off for a languid browse in the markets before my siesta. In reality, I’ve spent the afternoon in Timezone, I’m a 15 minute drive from the coast, and I’m off to the park to relieve my sister of her aunty obligations. But in my mind, I’m still an exotic creature, lost in this suburban setting.

I arrive at the park. My sister gives me the once over and opens her mouth. I know she’s seeing what I’m seeing. She’s about to comment on how seldom this suburban street sees such casual, cool yet feminine flair. “You have a Peppa Pig bandaid on your dress” she says, matter of factly.

And as I look down, I see she is right. I peel off the bandaid, and at that moment, I know what my style really is. Zimmermann….with a touch of Peppa Pig.

XOXO Shopping Girl

The Best Muppet Caper

It’s a massive call. But I think I just bought the best thing I have EVER bought.

It’s pink.

It’s fluffy.

If I was a piece of clothing this is what I would be. 

I ordered it in the latest VOSN and it is so perfect and SO me that I know the second I put it on, I will never take it off. 

The jacket looks like a muppet. 

I LOVE The Muppets. 

At some point in my 38.9 year history with my sister, we decided that I looked a little like Janice, the muppet.

Not as much as Donatello Versace looks like Janice. But at some point she started calling me Janice.  And I’ve always felt a strange affinity with her (Janice, not my sister, though her too) …..even though I’m not sure we have that much in common. None of the muppet movies have indicated that Janice is in fact a frustrated-writer-stay-at-home -mother-of-4-small-male-muppets. (Though this evening I discovered that a big smile and long blondish hair are not the only thing that Janice and I have in common….)

Yep I also feel that way a glass of red in, Janice. 

At any rate, the jacket arrived in the post (thanks to the wizardry of Georgy at Coco and Lola) and I looked at it and thought “Muppet”, closely followed by “This jacket is my spirit animal”. 

And even though it’s been about 9 months since I found the time to write. And even though Working Boy has opened his own practice which, in a surprise turn of events, has turned Shopping Girl into Working Girl (although there were some awesome shopping opportunities in furnishing the waiting room – maybe a post at a later stage?) . And even though it’s midnight on a Saturday night……when that Unreal Fur jacket arrived, I knew that even though it won’t get its own outing, it needed its own Shopping Girl post. Quite simply, as I said to Georgy via email, I think it is the best thing I have ever bought. And that, as you would all know, is saying something. 

The second I slipped my arms through those sleeves, I felt like me. Not like “mum”. Or “MUUUUUUM!!!”. Not like a wife. Or Working Girl. Like me. Like Janice. That feeling that money can’t buy, but just did. The person who belts out Lisa Loeb’s Stay as she unloads the dishwasher on a Saturday night. The person who is totally fine with having 4 boys as long as she can buy herself pink fluffy jackets.

Tomorrow I will put on the jacket. The boys will tease me in all my pink fluffiness….but secretly they will love it because they will know that the mum they get in that jacket is the most sincere version of herself. 

Or maybe I am over-dramatising the whole thing, and it’s just a f*cking great jacket and pleasantly soft to hug if your mum is wearing it.

XOXO Shopping Girl

The one in which Shopping Girl’s credit cards are frozen.

Great sunglasses are a must in my line of work. The reason for this is two-fold. And each reason itself is two fold. So it’s more like four fold. I have the good fortune of living in the sunny city of Sydney. Even when it’s cloudy it’s kind of glary. Like all mothers of school aged kids, I spend a lot of time in the car. Sunny city plus time in car equals need for sunglasses. It’s basic maths. 

The world is so bright after 5 hours of broken sleep. Not only do sunglasses shield your peepers from the overbearing enthusiasm of the morning light, they shield the world from all evidence of your sleep deficit AND they make you look good whilst doing both those jobs too! There is something about a great pair of sunnies that just makes you look polished and together. If you ask me, sunglasses are the hardest workers in your wardrobe. 

People say a great pair of shoes makes an outfit, or sometimes a great handbag. But I say it’s the sunnies that make the look. You heard it here first. 

I was in the market for a new pair of sunnies after the arms of my gold Karen Walkers unceremoniously snapped off. One minute it was attached (slightly precariously it has to be said), the next minute my sunnies were without arm. I have to say I wasn’t devastated. The Karen Walkers were no holy grail sunglasses. They were large, and gold, so made a bit of a splash wherever they went, but they had not “got me” like their predecessors, the brown Chloés (of blessed memory), which were perfection in every way (until their untimely death – they jumped straight off my head and landed one floor down). 

I have a few prerequisites for sunglasses (which I overlooked for the gold pair, so blinded I was by their general fabulousness). They have to be largeish, but not too big. No metal bits against my nose. No straight lines across my eyebrows but wide overall (to counteract my long face). They need to feel like part of my face when I wear them, and MOST importantly of all: they need to sit well on my head (where they will spend most of my time). Snug enough that they don’t fall off every time I so much as lean over to strap a child in the car, but not so snug that they give me a headache. They have to suit my face and not make me look perculiar.

So it was VOSN (Vogue Online Shopping Night) a couple of months ago and I noticed that Sunglass Hut had 20% off all purchases. Sunglass Hut has free returns for 90 days. I was determined to find a new pair of sunnies and went in with a strong game plan. 

Until the brown Chloés, I wore black sunglasses. Big, black sunglasses. Like a Hollywood starlet, avoiding the paps, minus the glamourous lifestyle. And minus the paparazzi. Obviously.

One day, I tried on the brown Chloés, and seriously it was a revelation. The brown suited my complexion. They made my hair look golden. They made me look way more glamourous than the large blacks ever had. I was converted. Brown sunglasses all the way.

So back to Sunglass Hut….. I filtered down on the website to all brown and tortoiseshell. Then I shortlisted all the ones that looked most similar in shape to the (deceased) Chloés. And then I ordered them all.

Except I didn’t. I got an error message when I tried to confirm the order. I tried Amex. I tried MasterCard. I tried PayPal. Repeatedly. And then I got a text from Working Boy.

“Westpac Alert: Transaction blocked on card ending **** at ‘Sunglass Hut 3538’ for $1,229.89 at 20:18. If Genuine, reply ‘Yes’. If Fraud reply ‘No’.”

Crap. I am not sure if they were suspicious that someone would buy so many sunglasses in one go. Or whether the fact that Working Boy was, unbeknownst to me, simultaneously trying to pay a large tax bill made them suspicious that someone who had such a stupid tax bill to pay would still be shopping for numerous pairs of sunglasses. But the next moment he got a text saying our cards were frozen and to expect a call in 20 minutes from the bank.

Yep. There I was in the middle of VOSN and my credit cards were frozen. Me. Shopping Girl. Unable to shop. Unthinkable. (Is it just me, or is this turning a little Roger Hargreaves?)

To cut what has already been an uneccessarily long story short, the glasses were purchased, the boxes arrived a few days later. All I had to do was try them all on, choose a pair, pop the losers back in the box, affix the pre-paid returns label, and drop them off at the post box. Easy.

Easy….except that I had done such a good job pre-selecting my short list, that it was actually very difficult to choose. I called in the reinforcements (Working Boy). He owes me HOURS of glassss choosing. Days possibly. 20 minutes later, I took the tags off these:

It has been said that The Devil wears Prada, but clearly I am the exception to the rule.

XOXO Shopping Girl 


I am cursed. I actually have a shopping curse. It is 5 weeks until First Born’s barmitzvah and I have all the shopping to do. All the shopping. Let’s just enjoy that sentence and concept for a moment. 

Except that I can’t enjoy all the shopping because whatever I try to buy, I find the complete opposite. I have undertaken a world-wide hunt to find the most fabulous dress. And so far, I have not found one. What I have found is some incredible gowns. Gowns that would only really be appropriate for First Born’s wedding. It seems a bit premature to invest in one now. 

I am also going to be extraordinarily well dressed this summer because I have come across a multitude of fantastic summer day dresses. By the time I’d gone through all the dresses on The Outnet, I’d found nothing suitable as MOBB (mother of barmitzvah boy), and everything suitable as MOG (mother of groom), plus I had three more dresses in my shopping basket that would perfect for EDM (every day mother). But not for MOBB. 

Gown options for First Born’s wedding (in approximately 15 years time):

Every day dresses within my budget that I DON’T need that I came across while MOBB dress hunting:

I also had 5 dresses on my wish list which were perfect as MOBB but clocking in at over $2000, I am financially disabled from procurement. However as all good shoppers know, it’s always worth having them in your wish list because you NEVER know when you’ll receive that email from your favourite store to notify you that an item from your wish list is 75% off (a girl can dream). 

Expensive dresses that I cannot buy

Me trying on expensive Stella McCartney dress that I cannot afford:

Last Sunday, I took First Born shopping. He needs a suit, 2 shirts, pants, shoes and possibly a tie. And socks too, apparently. We discovered that somehow he only owns sports socks and school socks.

We went into Oxford. He tried on a suit. I came across some fantastic toe-less booties. I took him into Witchery Man, but not before I spied a fabulous resort dress (you know for all my resort hanging) on the women’s side. I took him into Zara Man…..where we did find a shirt but not before I’d mentally clocked two tops and a dress to follow up on later. We went back to Oxford to buy the suit. We came home with booties (in my defence they were practically free*). 

I went onto Alex and Alexa to find some special clothes for the other boys to wear to the barmitzvah. It is a kids’ website. I came across this:

My initials (Marc Jacobs had me in mind).  In my size. It turns out the 8 in year old in me is alive and well and still likes things with her name on them.

I even managed to buy shoes when I went to buy not-Baby N shoes (I can’t keep track of what he’s supposed to be called). I went into my favourite kids’ shoe shop in Sydney hoping to find not-Baby N barmitzvah worthy kicks and instead I found me fab new cracked black leather Ugg boots. Size 39. Last pair left so down to $50. 

But I can’t wear Ugg Boots to First Born’s barmitzvah, and so the saga continues……

* they were $50

XOXO Shopping Girl

What to buy the 3 year old who has everything

Following hot on the heels (where hot on the heels means two years later) of “What to Buy the Baby Who Has Everything“, comes What to Buy the 3 year old Who Has Everything. The Toddler Formerly Known as Baby N has turned 3, so I guess he’s not really a toddler anymore. He is officially a little boy. For simplicity’s sake let’s call him LB. 

Having already had 3 male 3 year olds (and three 3 year old birthdays and parties already), I have just about every toy a 3 year old could dream of (daytime nap or nighttime long sleep). An extensive Brio & Thomas train track collection. Cars. Enough Duplo to build a small apartment. I have an entire Little People city. Octonauts, complete with Gups and and Octpod. Scooter? Yep. Tricycle? Yep. Sand / water play table? Yep. We have a library of books. We have a marble run. We have a wooden castle. We have a toy kitchen and lots of pretend food, as well as a mini espresso machine (for those early daycare mornings). We have Hot Wheels. We have a singing, playing Elmo, and a singing Iggle Piggle. We have Aquaplay. And most importantly, we have Magnatiles. I could keep going for about 10 pages. 

But you cannot NOT buy your three year old presents just because he is the 4th boy to turn 3 in the house. Yes, I could operate a crèche without having to purchase a thing, but that is not what birthdays are about. It doesn’t matter that LB doesn’t need anything. He’s a little boy and he deserves to open a few presents and have some of his own belongings in a house where everything already belongs to someone else. Especially when this is the first birthday that he understands that it is HIS birthday and HE gets to open and keep the gifts.

So what do you buy this Litte Boy who has everything a little boy could possibly want? 

1. We bought him MORE DUPLO. Yes we did. We hadn’t actually added to our Duplo collection since Cooking Child was 3 – that’s 7 years ago (Master 8 went straight to Lego. By the time he was 2, his brothers were 4 & 6, were Lego obsessed, and so Master-then-2 just joined the Lego brigade). ANYWAY (gosh this is confusing with all these children), I bought this:

With a little digger to go with because LB LOVES diggers.

I seem to have ridiculous luck with Myer toy sales – there always seems to be one the week before my boys’ birthdays. With an extra 10% off for Myer One members (It’s free –  why wouldn’t you join? They send you gift vouchers every few months as a reward for shopping. For shopping. Let’s just go over this again – they reward me for shopping).


2. Maxi Micro scooter from my in-laws. Almost immediately after LB started walking, he began scooting. Our Mini Micro scooter (a hand me down from Master 8) has really earned its keep (and inflated price tag). But LB is no lightweight, and he is the height of a 5 year old. I imagine that when a child stands on the scooter board, it is supposed to stay flat, not submit into a concave depression. And so we have updated LB to the model that Master 8 still happily zooms around on today. LB calls it his “big boy scooter”. 

We got the silver. Personally I love the  brights but the silver was 25% off at Entropy a few months ago, so that’s what I ordered. Plus the silver is timeless. Classy. For the refined toddler.


3. My parents bought LB this:

Ever since we went to London 9 months ago, LB has been obsessed with all things London. Especially a book that my cousin gave him while we were there. It’s about 3 animal characters who go through London……in fact I can’t tell you what it’s about because LB has never let me actually read the story to him. Each page features a different famous site so LB simply shrieks “We went there!” and then he provides a bit more information like “WE went on the London eye!”, or “WE went to Buckhingham palace and saw the Queem” (this is not a typo, nor is it strictly true)”, or “WE went to Trafalgar Square and saw the Lion while you were SHOPPING, mummy”. Or my personal favourite “WE went to The British Musuem and saw the Mummies……and the daddies!!”. 

When I saw the London Bus I knew that LB would love it. But there was also a fine looking Fire Engine that I thought he would love, too.

LB has learnt from Cooking Child how to play imaginitively but there is no imaginitive game played in this house without a natural disaster or some dire situation that requires a rescue mission. How well the Fire Engine would fit into our home, and how many great imaginative play opportunities it would present. 

So LB got that too.

You would be extremely surprised how many dangerous situations London Buses can find themselves in, that require emergency assistance from a one man Fire Engine. 


Then there were the brothers’ presents. Some of you may think that LB had already scored a bountiful loot and should count his little blessings and go and play with his lovely new toys. And you’d be right. BUT my big boys would not accept that he had plenty already – they want to give him their OWN presents. And so the shopping continued.

Cooking Child wanted to give a gift individually. As in he wanted to choose it AND pay for it. And so I suggested:


$12 from K-Mart. This was the perfect brother present. Cheap and we knew he would love it. Like billions of children, LB loves bubbles. He wants so many, and so often, that I get dizzy and have to sit down from all the deep breathing. Anyone with a toddler knows that the hunt for the holy grail toy (preferably battery free, but hey it was $12), that’s screen free, keeps your toddler entertained for a sustained period of time and does NOT need a parent to participate, is never ending. A bubble machine may well be as close as you are ever going to get. Bonus points for being an outdoor activity. Even more bonus points because LB dances in bubbles so it promotes exercise.

Which leaves:

5. First Born and Master 8 still needed to give LB a present too. And so I went to the TV show gift. LB loves his shows and their associated characters. We could not lose with this. And despite the the fact that he had a bad experience recently meeting real life Duggee, I decided to go with:

after seeing LB mesmerised playing with it in Myer a few weeks ago. Here’s a tip: if you don’t know what to buy your child, take them into a toy department and see what they gravitate towards. Duggee has been a huge success and the only issue with him is his size, and lack of arms to hold him by when LB insists on bringing him out with us, and then insists that I look after Duggee once we’re out.

Anyway that’s a wrap on 3 year old presents, or at least my 3 year old. But you know, same same.

XOXO Shopping Girl
P.S. On writing this blog I have discovered that when I type the letters “LB” my phone autocorrects them to Loom Bands. I am not sure why this is so. But having had to un-autocorrect it each time, I’m thinking maybe the hunt is still on for what to call my 4th child online. This is what it looks like when I leave LB uncorrected: LOOM BANDS.