Style for the people

I have a dirty, little secret. I almost too ashamed to share except that I am so excited about it that I have to. Some of you may be shocked. There’s a particular resident of Gilgandra Rd that may require medical assistance after reading this (someone may like to call a preparatory ambulance?) but, well there are always casualties when secrets are spilled.

Are you ready?

You sure?

Okay here goes…..

I’ve started shopping at K-Mart. And I LOVE it.

(Cue: fainting).

No seriously, have you been?? It’s really quite amazing. Once upon a time I practically showered after a visit to K-Mart if I ever had to go (kids’ camp clothes and the like). Call me a snob (Working Boy does all the time but between you & me, he’s a bigger snob than me. Ah, true love), but that is how it is. Or was, at least.

Now, you still won’t find me sporting the latest big K fashions (though I do have a friend @seemeswoon – check her out on Insta – who throws together inexpensive chain store buys all the time and looks constantly AMAZING) but what you will find me doing is raiding the store for their amazing homewares. 

I seem to be doing a lot of list based posts at the moment but to save you trawling around K-Mart (although it has emerged that there are Facebook groups full of people who LOVE doing just that), here is:

Shopping Girl’s Definitive List of the Ten Best Things to Buy at K-Mart.

1.

Metal Locker bedside table – $29.

$29. Twenty Nine dollars people. I cannot tell you what a bargain this is. I had been searching online for a bedside table for Cooking Child (my children discovered my blog last week, and the child formerly known as J has requested to henceforth be known as Cooking Child) and had my heart set on a locker style. The only problem was that the locker style bedside tables had their hearts set on being in excess of $200. I went to K-Mart to buy beanbag beans (see below) and lo and behold I could not believe my EYES when I saw this little beauty just sitting there, humbly, for $29. Into the trolley it went.

2.


Cement base lamp – $10

So cheap, you should buy two. In fact I’m going to have to because I bought this lamp so quickly I didn’t stop to consider where in the house it would actually go. I have since decided that it is perfect as a bedside table lamp in mine and Working Boy’s room, but now I need one for each side of our bed. We are symmetrical people.  

3.


Stainless Steel Shaped Jug – $15

I had been lusting after a very similar jug on the Peters of Kensignton website which cost around $189. Or given that in actuality my lusty thoughts on pitchers are extremely few and far between, some may say non-existent, let’s just say I really quite liked it. Considering how much entertaining we do, we have a disproportionality small number of jugs, and what’s more, the two we have are small. I bought two of these as well. Now I can have one at both ends of the table. As I said, we’re symmetrical people. 

4.

50cm Fire Pit with stand – $39

They say that art imitates life but can life imitate decor? I haven’t bought this yet. But if I did it would make me the sort of person who spontaneously has friends over, where we hang outside, drinking wine, someone’s playing guitar and we’re sitting around a fire pit (preferably on floor cushions)…..it all sounds so relaxed and so un-i-have-4-children. Plus we would become the marshmallow toasting capital of Bellevue Hill.

5. 


Paper Plates – Pastel Foil $3 (16 in pack)

I always feel a bit bad when I use disposable plates. There’s the environmental impact. There’s the cost. And then there’s the fact that I must already have a huge amount of washing up to do, or I wouldn’t be resorting to disaposables. That makes me feel really, REALLY bad. 

These, however, make me feel happy. Like I’m having a party. And I mind setting the table just a little bit less when I’m setting it with these plates. 

6. 


Canisters: small – $5, large $7

There are SO many places in the house that could benefit from some pretty canisters. If we could just fill a large one with lead pencils and a small one with erasers, the daily call of “do you know where a pencil / rubber is?” and subsequent 10 minute homework avoiding search, could be eradicated. Without compromising my house design aesthetic. 

7.


4 Piece Cityscape Activity Floor Mat $16.00

This playmat screams “YOUR CHILD WILL SIT AND PLAY ON ME IMAGINATIVELY FOR HOURS WITH HIS MATCHBOX CARS AND WON’T EVEN MENTION THE IPAD”. That sounds like a good deal for $16 to me.  When First Born was born, playmats did not look nearly so pretty, or so fun. It’s a designer mat with a non-designer price. 


8.


Teardrop bean bag – Grid extra large – $25

I actually already bought a beanbag. From Typo. I was at K-mart buying the beans when I spied this super-size bag. Sometimes being plus-sized can be a disadvantage in life…..not when you’re a beanbag. Who would NOT want to sink into a quite chic oversized beanbag? This would look fab in First Born’s room. But First Born, you have your own cash, so buy it yourself.
9.Felt Storage Box with Lid – $6

We all know I am a massive fan of storage options. Would you rather have random open boxes of Lego lying around or some smart grey felt boxes? With a leather strap? I know what I prefer. Conceal the chaos, shoppers. 
10.

Be gone IKEA Billy – there’s a new favourite shelving system in town. I’m partial to a little pegboard. This one has little shelves. I already bought a pegboard at Typo and when I saw this I was devastated that I could have had a pegboard/ shelving combo…..but now I see that Typo must have also gone to K-Mart (all the cool people are) and had the exact same reaction, for they have released little shelves that you can buy as an accessory to your peg board. 
11. 

Wall LED Decor – Lightning, White $9

I know I said 10 but I just couldn’t limit myself, so consider this your bonus buy. Plus number 10 was more about Typo than it was about K-Mart so it didn’t really seem fair. 

Not so long ago this sort of thing cost well over $100. I don’t know who has a couple of hundred bucks to drop on a fun light for their kid’s room but it’s not me (because I already spent it on a dress). That is why I love you K-Mart – you are democratising decor. 

XOXO Shopping Girl

Shopping Girl’s Guide to Mothers’ Day 2016

It’s that time of year again…..the time when I get presents for my powers of procreation. It’s a complete rort, of course, but I feel I deserve some sort of compensation for the fact that motherhood just keeps getting more and more complicated as the kids get older. Sure, people said “Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems”. But they also say “A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie” and if that was me, I would say “No there’s not enough pie for everyone” and then eat all 4 pieces once the kids were in bed, so how was I to know I was actually supposed to heed the warning?

Many of my friends think that having older children that you can reason with and really talk to is the pay off for the exhausting slog of the first few years. Personally I like them small, cute, funny and in bed by 7pm.

If you’re anything like me, you  do a short victory dance everytime you find yourself alone in the house for a good stretch of time have worked out that leaving the present buying to the people around you does not always work out for the best. I now buy my own gifts and give them to Working Boy…..to give to me. I highly recommend this strategy. Everyone is happy. I am happy because I get something I really want. Working Boy is happy because he doesn’t need to work out what a good present would be or indeed find the time to purchase it. The kids are happy because….well they’re kids and when someone in the house is celebrating something, there’s often cake involved.

And so I bring you the definitive 2016 Shopping Girl’s Guide to Mothers’ Day. Sure Mothers’ Day is less than one hour away but I provide weblinks to everything and a printed email receipt for something good is better than nothing……or a crappy gift.

1. Benah for Karen Walker–  Dana Duo Wallet – $150


This is what I am getting. I know because I ordered it and left it, gift boxed on Working Boy’s desk. Can’t leave a more obvious hint than that. My purse has been needing replacement for a while. Money keeps falling out. I mean sometimes it falls out onto a shop counter and I take something home, but sometimes the coins just spill out when I’m NOT trying to pay for anything. 

I like this purse because it’s big so I’ll find it in my handbag, I can take it out as a clutch when I’m just running into a shop and just want to grab my purse, I love the neutral colour AND it has lots of card slots. I have lots of cards. #perfectmatch



2. Scarf Option A

Banjo & Matilda Caresse Scarf – $295


Sure, $295 is a little steep for a scarf, but this is what my Banjo & Matilda email said about it…..


I will never want to take it off. Even if I only live till 70, it will end up being quite good value for money, from a cost per wear perspective. Silk and cashmere sounds divine, plus who knows, if I wear the scarf, perhaps I’ll get legs like hers…👆🏻

Scarf Option B

Gorman Pom Pom Pom Scarf – $129


I just think life would be more fun if I had a bunch of coloured pom-poms around my neck. I can’t think of any situation which is not improved by pom-poms.

3.Typo Phone Charger Wallet – $59.99


Apart from the fact that this wallet won’t fit my brand new hulking big purse, could you BE any more useful, little Typo wallet? My iPhone, like all good iPhones, begins with a great battery life, which rapidly declines in my obviously neglectful care. On-the-go chargers are everything. And so I bring you 4……

4. Rubi Powerbank – $24.95 

See 3. This one is cute. The Toddler Formerly know as Baby N snapped off the charging bit off my old one, when he was Baby N. 

5. FitBit Alta – $179



I was SO excited about this. We all know how much Shopping Girl loves a pink & metallic tech product. Nothing has as yet ever encouraged me to exercise regularly but something pink and metallic could prove to be the winning incentive. 

I don’t need a band to tell me that I did NOT get 8 hours of unbroken sleep. But you know, J says ALL the kids in Year 5 have a Fitbit (he doesn’t want one). This makes me think two things a) WTF? b) if all those flipping 10 years old have them, I should bloody well have one.

In researching this product it emerged that the pink leather band has to be purchased for an additional $99.95. Why can’t it just come in pink??? Fitbit?? 

6. A Fluffy Foot Stool

I still regret not buying that fluffy foot stool. I think I would have smiled at it every time I passed it. Nothing would make me feel MORE appreciated as a mother than the children presenting me with a fluffy foot stool tomorrow. Sadly for them, they don’t have the finances, and it is no longer available (although my Real Living magazine did once do a feature on how to make one). So they’ll just have to make feel appreciated using, you know, words, and actions and BEHAVIOUR.

7. New Ugg Boots – $89


I love my Peter Alexander Homeboots. Nothing takes the sting out of a day on your feet, and a chill in the air, like cosy, soft uggboots. I treat myself to a new pair every 2-3 years as I find that in that time, the wool is flattened until eventually there is no comfort left, only hard, generally filthy, once-was-wool. Peter Alexander does some special edition prints, finishes or colours each year. My last pair were gold and they rocked. I’m in a leopard mood this year. Roar. 

8. Magazine Subscription


Every year Working Boy gets me a subscription to my favourite mag. This a mutually beneficial arrangement. I get my preferred title delivered to my letterbox each month (actually the postman slides it under the gate), and he gets to make a present out of something I would have bought anyway. Win win.

9. Clare Bowen VIP – $100

The very second the Clare Bowen tickets went on sale I snapped them up. I could listen to her gorgeous voice forever. But then, a few days later, I saw THIS advertised:


I don’t need an autographed item. I’ll say something stupid if I meet her (I know this after my recent Tim Freedman experience. Don’t ask me. I feel sick even *thinking* about it). I’ll embarrass myself having a photo with her. BUT, an intimate acoustic performance??? Yes!! Yes!! Yes, please!!!

10. Zac Posen dress that Clare Danes wore to the Met Gala.

A girl can dream can’t she?  Anyway it’s First Born’s barmitzvah later this year so I’m in the market for a fab dress.


And that concludes the guide. Wine and chocolate is not an entry on the list. That is not a Mothers’ Day gift – all women should be supplied with wine and chocolate, year round.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the mums, soon to be mums, yet to be mums, sparents etc etc

XOXO Shopping Girl 

Flying high….in the sky

Because flying across Australia solo with four boys is SUCH a breeze, I thought to myself, what better time than now (kosher meals having failed to make their appearance, toddler mourning a wireless connection) to revive my blog? 
Baby N is now Toddler N, and come the end of June, will be Little Boy N. Or perhaps “The Little Boy formerly known as Baby N”. Sure, it’s a mouthful, but it has a ring to it. 

Anyway onto business. 

Shopping Girl’s Top 5 tips for Flying With Kids:

1. i (Prounounced “eye”).

To be clear, i-anything, loaded with shows. The Toddler Formerly Known as Baby N’s favourite apps (YouTube Kids and abckids iview) only work with a wireless connection so make sure you download your shows prior to take-off. At least 5 of each of your child’s favourite shows. Apparently there are ways to save from YouTube onto your device, which no doubt one day I will work out, but in the meantime just pay for them on iTunes (worth every penny and if we didn’t buy something, it wouldn’t be a Shopping Girl post).   

Recently we flew to Melbourne. The flight from Sydney to Melbourne is so short it barely counts. But on this flight I discovered that my carefully curated collection of BBC’s finest (The Toddler Formerly Known as Baby N – henceforth TTFKABN – has a mostly British accent which has nothing to do with my birthplace – Birmingham – and everything to do with Peppa Pig and Ben & Holly) had unceremoniously vacated my iPad and returned itself to my cloud. My plane inaccessible cloud. Fortunately I keep some emergency shows on my iphone. 


I don’t care if Steve Jobs deserves more of the credit than I actually do….I’m much better suited to accepting praise on the behaviour of my children than I am slinking off the plane, unruly toddler barely in tow, wavering between staring at the ground and staring every passenger directly in the eye, just DARING them to say something.

Devices people. Devices. There are no screen time limits in the air.

2. Qantas. Book with Qantas. Worth every penny when travelling alone with children. Space (it’s relative of course). Screens. Kosher food (sometimes missing). As I type this, they are delivering (blessedly kosher) Mars Bar ice creams to every passenger. Lunch, kids! 

Times have changed since the memorable trip of 2005 where First Born informed every passenger on board in a voice more appropriate for reaching the back rows of the Sydney Opera House concert hall, that “the icecream on the plane’s NOT KOSHER!”.


3. Headphones. Aeroplanes are noisy. It’s hard for the offspring to hear their devices. And it’s painful for everyone else to hear their devices. So headphones people. They make them small these days especially for your little screen addicted progeny. 

My favourite thing in the world at the moment are my wireless headphones. I don’t use them on flights for four obvious reasons. BUT at home they are (and I never say this lightly) one of the BEST things I have EVER bought. Not only do they give the (correct) impression to the children that I cannot hear them, but in the evening, when I am desperately trying to get my Nashville/Girls/Charlie Pickering fix and relieve the boredom of the nightly kitchen duties, with my iPad propped up on the caesarstone, no matter how much I walk around the kitchen (to the fridge, to the pantry, to the Tupperware drawer, repeat) I can still hear my show. My choice? Kreafunk


They work and they look great. I’m a sucker for pink and metallics and there are marketing genii all over the place that know it.
4. Food.                                                                         a) Gum / tic-tacs. There’s something about planes that makes me feel like I have morning breath all over again. Working Boy doesn’t deserve a kiss full of that breath. Can also double up as “landing treats” (see below). 

b) Snacks. Lots. The reason I invented “landing treats” was 1. Sore ears. 2. Peace and quiet for the last ten minutes of the flight because not so long ago, devices had to be switched off for landing. 3. I have a no-chocolate, no-lollies rule on the plane (except the last 10 minutes because if the sugar high is gonna hit, we’ll be off the plane by then). I pack loads of “piece-y” snacks though (they take more time to eat) for my kids in lots of individual ziplocks. Popcorn. Pretzels. Animal crackers. Sultanas. Bissli (Israeli snack). If it’s dry, will not make clothing or hands sticky, and there’s no associated sugar rush, then sodium levels be damned, it’s going in the hand luggage. 


Just make sure you pack water too.
5. Happy Baby dummies. They should rebrand and call themselves Happy Mummy dummies. Two of my kids did not have a dummy, two did, so I have no interest in getting involved in a dummy debate. But for the dummy suckers, it’s been Happy Baby all the way. 

One thing I am strict on is that dummies are only for sleeping. They exist in the cot and in the cot alone. Except on aeroplanes. Because I discovered that when George Pig cries on Peppa Pig (it happens quite a lot), TTFKABN likes to treat his fellow passengers to his best George impression. I may not understand a word TTFKABN is saying when he has a dummy in his mouth but there is no question that his volume is dulled.

So, when it comes to flight advice, I could go on for a while, what with wipes, twisting textas (no lids to drop) but top 5 is what I promised so top 5 is what you got.

And as a bonus for reading this far……

Shopping Girl’s Top 1 tip for travelling with no kids
:
1) Invest in some noise cancelling headphones. That way if the Todddler Formerly known as Baby N is on your flight, you will be none the wiser. I know I said before that aeroplanes are noisy, but they are also quiet. In the old days, ie before personal screens, the cabin itself buzzed  with conversation. Now that everyone is quietly dedicated to a screen, the mechanical sounds remain but the cabin is extremely quiet. You will only notice this when you fly with an infant or toddler, as their voice resonates through formerly quiet cabin. Noise cancelling earphones. 

XOXO Shopping Girl

Takeover Bid

Food: check!

Caffeine: check!

Sanity: missing, presumed dead.

But the show must go on….a few months ago I bought a chambray shirt dress from shopbop. It looks like this:

  
Yup, that’s totally how it looks on me too. 

It has fast become a wardrobe MVP (most valuable player – mum gets upset when I talk in abbreviations she doesn’t understand). But despite the fact that the me above has rolled her sleeves, it is quite a heavy cotton and not ideal for summer.

The other day I was walking through David Jones and I saw something similar.

   I couldn’t stop to shop, so I clocked that it was Trenery, and kept walking. 

I kept thinking about the dress (which is always a surefire way to know that it’s a worthwhile buy), but I was held back by the thought that every girl I knew would probably buy the same one. Because we would all recognise the value in such a dress. And wouldn’t  we all look ridiculous come school pick up, rocking up to school to fetch our uniformed children, wearing, well, a uniform. A uniform of chambray dresses. 

But still I kept thinking of the dress. And then a strange thing happened. Chambray dresses started popping up EVERYWHERE. And I mean everywhere.

There, in Sunday Life magazine was Camilla and Marc‘s version:

  
And then I check my email, and Picnic, a West Australian shop whose emails I didn’t even sign up for, was letting me know they have not one but two on offer:

Paige:

  
And Nate:

  
Not to be outdone, Witchery emailed me to let me know I had not yet spent my $20 birthday gift voucher, which was soon going to expire. And oh by the way, we TOO have a great summer chambray dress, they said. Look!*

*exact words may differ slightly from those used in actual Witchery email.

  
So there we have it. And there are probably more versions landing in shops as we type / read. Clearly a bid to take over the world. Or at the very least my wardrobe. How to choose? How to choose?

I’ll throw it open to you. 

Vote 1) for Trenery ($149, though spend and save likely, possibly a bit short – ugly knees – and pockets could be unflattering?).

Vote 2) for Camilla & Marc ($280, mind, and least likely to have a shop wise discount at any stage).

Vote 3) for Picnic’s Paige ($129.95 – and possibly MOS-G should pay because she emailed me the picture of the Hobb’s boots, which I then had to buy, which is why I think I’m now being emailed by Picnic).

Vote 4) for Picnic’s Nate ($139.95 – I guess the buttons cost $10, or maybe you’re paying for the name Nate, which I prefer to Paige).

Vote 5) for Witchery ($149.95 but I have my birthday voucher and it says “low in stock” which always brings out the “buyer frenzy” in me). 

Vote 6) none of the above (Working Boy – stop hacking my blog).

I’ll leave the decision to the crowd.

XOXO Shopping Girl

Fuels

It’s been a busy year so far. A really, particularly busy year. For many reasons and no reasons and I can’t say I’ve really achieved anything more than I have in less busy years. But nonetheless the fact remains that I have not found time to write. More importantly I have not found enough time to read. I only realised this yesterday, when Working Boy took the four boys to synagogue and I sat down to read for an hour. Vogue, if you must  know. And all at once the urge to write overcame me. Ideas starting flowing in. My (deserted) blog began writing itself in my mind, as I relaxed and read. 

It reminded me of something author Caitlin Moran said, in an article I read in Elle magazine many months ago. Put simply, she said that writing was a simple equation – words in equal words out. The more words you drink in, the more you’ll have to output. I think she’s right. The less I read, the less I write, and I don’t think it’s just a matter of time.

I may need to read to fuel my brain to write, but I also need to fuel my stomach. Unfortunately today is one of two 25 hour fasts in the Jewish calendar, so I am unfuelled. More specifically uncaffeinated. So the blog will have to resume tomorrow. 

Today’s fast ends a 3 week mourning period in the Jewish calendar. It is not a time for shopping and new things (though there are exceptions to the rule). So there’s only one thing I am buying today. And that is bread. More specifically Holy Seeds bread. My goddess of a friend, Romy, is spending her fast baking artisan sourdough with her 4 children, so that others may purchase it and break their fast on it.  (You can drool over her amazing food on her Instagram @holy_seeds). 

  
This is what I will break my fast on….smeared with avo, sprinkled with chilli flakes.

Too…..hungry…..to…..keep…..typing.

Over & out.

XOXO Shopping Girl

Fashions on the Field

Today marked the beginning of soccer season.

This is how my day went:

Some ungodly hour: Working Boy’s alarm goes off and he hurries off to work, in an effort to be back in time to help with the soccer run (around). 

Less ungodly hour: I wake up, shower, go downstairs and realise that we are almost out of milk. Divide the remaining milk between the Nespresso aerocino and Baby N’s bottle (it is unclear whose need is greater). Top up bottle with water and offer kids custard and fruit for breakfast. Celebrations all round.

8.45am: Tell Master T it’s time to get ready for soccer.

8.46am: Master T looks at me sheepishly and says “I don’t want to do soccer after all”.

8.47am: I internally celebrate. 

8.49am: Master T says “Actually I think I do want to do it”. My heart sinks. I reply “Fine, let’s get you dressed”.

8.50am: Master T looks at me sheepishly and says “I don’t want to do soccer after all”.

8.51am: I internally celebrate.

8.55am: J, who is also playing soccer this year, asks who is on his team. I read out the team. Master T asks me to read out the names of his (former) team. “I can’t decide whether to play. It’s such a hard decision” he says. “Well decide now, because if you’re going to play, we need to leave in 20 minutes,” I reply. “Okay, I’m not playing,” deems Master T. (Yeah, you can see where this going, can’t you?).

9.15am: I put Baby N in highchair for (late) breakfast.

9.20am: Master T appears and says “I am going to do soccer after all”.

 “But everyone is in their pyjamas and we’ll need to leave in 10 minutes to make it on time,” I say. “Where are my soccer clothes?” Master T replies.

9.21am: I find soccer clothes.

9.22am: I begin screaming like a banshee for First Born, First Born’s friend who stayed over, J and Master T to get dressed. Start slapping on make up and clothes, trying to brush teeth simulateously.

9.24am: Catch sight of Master T putting on socks. “Shin pads!” I screech. “You need shin pads!”. “I don’t know where they are”, says Master T.

9.25am: More Banshee. Go looking for shin pads.

9.26am:  Find shin pads and tell First Born to help Master T with them.

9.28am: “I’ll just get my sneakers”, says Master T. “Soccer boots!” I screech. “You need your soccer boots!”. He looks at me blankly. I head up to his room. No soccer boots. I look in coat cupboard. No soccer boots.

9.33am: Eventually find soccer boots on a shelf in the garage. 

9.35am: Grab some clothes for Baby N, some water for Master T.

9.40am: Wipe down Baby N and pile him and the other 4 kids into the car. 

Arrive at soccer 15 minutes late and collapse in a triumphant pile. The soccer field is quite a fashionable place. I forgot this in our rush to get out.  So how did we play? 

First Born and his friend were fine. Casual separates, suitable attire for “disinterested older brother and friend of disinterested older brother”. They dressed themselves, so no credit taken.

Master T and J were both in their soccer uniforms (we had a short turnover between when Master T finished his match and when J began his warm up, 20 minutes away). And the boots. The beautiful soccer boots. I LOVE buying them soccer boots each year. Gorgeous, shiny, bright. The louder the better. Being that they play more for social than sporty reasons, I buy the bottom of the range. But even the cheaper ones are fab. Maybe this is because the cheaper ones still cost $49.95 for Master T (from Shoes and Sox) and (close your eyes Working Boy) $79.95 for J (from Athlete’s Foot). Here they are:

  

Glorious aren’t they?

Baby N did not fare so well. We arrived and he was wearing a hand me down Mickey Mouse pyjama t-shirt. It had a line of custard down it. I got some Bonds tracksuit pants on him, and then he ran off shouting “Goccer! Goccer!” and relied on his natural charm rather than sartorial prowess for the hour. By the afternoon he was looking pretty cute though:

  

(You can’t see, but the hoody has dinosaur spikes running down from the front of the hood all the way to the bottom of the jacket). 

And as for me…..well “Soccer Mum” is not a category that comes naturally to me. And in our soccer league, you have to know that you are going to see roughly half the community.  There are some mums who dress as though they themselves may be called onto the field at any minute (thank G-d this does not seem to be protocol).  And I’m thinking this is not a bad idea because it would give me a great excuse to get stuck into the Country Road fitness collection…..but generally I try to go for casual. I don’t like dressing up on Sundays. But I don’t want to look like a slob. So casual, but put together. And warm. Siberia has nothing on the cliffs of Vaucluse (uh….I imagine). But I don’t want to be hot before I get there. The stress of getting there is enough to keep me cosy on the way.

This morning there was no time to cultivate any look. So I grabbed by brand new Lee Matthews poncho, just gifted to me by good old MOS-G. It’s half a poncho, half a wrap and half a blanket (it multitasks so hard it’s more like 1.5 pieces of clothing). It’s cotton & cashmere which means it’s light but cosy.

   To save from looking like I’d gone outside wearing a blanket (although this is an acceptable look at the mo), I wrapped a recently purchased super thin leather strap/ belt (check out @thefrocknyc on Instagram – who are the lovely ladies who sell them) to hold my blanket together…..and abracadabra, I was chic and warm but not overdressed. Score. 

XOXO Shopping Girl

P.S. Stay tuned for Part Two on Tuesday, where we somehow go to soccer training simultaneously with our guitar and piano lessons……

The 5 stages of supermarket with a toddler (the Kübler-Ross model)

I love toddlers. Toddlers are cute and funny and people stop to admire mine on a regular basis, which, for some inexplicable reason makes me feel like I am WINNING AT LIFE. I have so much fun with Baby N, who is 21 months now. He is a constant source of amusement. His latest trick is this: you say: “Baby N, what do you get when you cross a cat with a pig?”. And he replies “meow” and then he snorts. I cannot get enough of this trick. His mispronunciation of just about everything is delightful (until he’s 7 and needs intense speech therapy). Like all my toddlers have been, he is with me 24/7 and I really do love it.

Except when I am attempting to get anything done. Unless I am trying to watch In The Night Garden, kicking a soccer ball around the house, upturning sippy cups, ditching food across the room, or sitting in a Fisher Price car, then Baby N is not only NOT interested in what I am doing, he is taking active steps to prevent it. 

Nowhere is this more obvious than the supermarket. Ah, the Supermarket. Feared by all parents with toddlers in tow. Based on 11 years of personal experience, across 4 personal toddlers, there are 5 stages of doing the supermarket shopping with a toddler.

Stage One: Denial

I don’t know about you, but as I am driving to the supermarket I am convinced that it won’t be that bad. Baby N will be fine. He’s grown up a bit since the last time and has been a lot more amenable to recent errands. I have my shopping list, so I can be super efficient. My bag is well equipped with water and sultanas. I can get him a Chobani yoghurt if he finishes the sultanas. I will chat to him the whole time and keep him distracted. It will be fine. No, more than fine. I love the supermarket. 

Stage Two: Anger

I am not sure who is angrier. Me, because Baby N won’t sit in the trolley, or Baby N, because I am trying to shoehorn him into a trolley that is clearly not meant for toddlers of his stature. Or the guy who is trying to move his trolley along but can’t because Baby N is dawdling sweetly, but somewhat inconventiently in the middle of the aisle so that no-one can get past. Either way, there’s some anger brewing. I am trying to move on to the next aisle and Baby N is not moving at all. “Why is this happening to me?” I question. I think the guy stuck behind Baby N is wondering the same thing.

Stage 3: Bargaining

I offer Baby N a yoghurt in exchange for sitting in the trolley. It works like a dream. For about 5 minutes. Even though he eats yoghurt tubes beautifully at all other times, in the trolley he squirts it out everywhere…..over him, over me, over the floor, over the trolley. I abandon my aisle ordered list and hot-foot it to the baby aisle to get some wipes.  Baby N smiles beautifically like a Huggies baby.  And then turns around and starts reaching for the contents of the trolley and hurling it down the aisle. I give him sultanas and promise G-d that if I can just finish this supermarket shop with even half the things I need, and half my sanity intact, I will never ask for anything again.

Stage 4: Depression

We are at the check out. I have most of the things I need, but have just realised I forgot the nappies. I need the nappies. But I can’t leave Baby N in the trolley at the checkout. I don’t want to take him out to go and get the nappies because then I will never get him back in and then I won’t be able to push the trolley. This is depressing. Forget it. I will have to come back tomorrow for nappies…..

And then I look up and Baby N is sprinkling his sultanas all over the floor, followed by the box. I bend down to try and clean up but the cashier has finished and is waiting to be paid. The woman behind me, who has a small-ish baby who is starting to grizzle, is looking at me with barely-concealed horror. Must be her first child.  I leave the sultanas and start to pay. I give her a gift voucher. She enters a whole lot of numbers and codes and then tells me she needs to do it again because the voucher has been used already. Baby N is squawking his yoghurt smeared face off for his sultanas. Small, perfect baby behind us is grizzling more. Perfect mother behind me is shooting more machetes than daggers at me. I am never going to the Supermarket again. No, I am never leaving the HOUSE again. I want to get off the world.

Stage 5: Acceptance.

There are sultanas everywhere. I can’t pick them all up. My receipt is printed, my Woolworths collectable dominoes are in hand. The woman behind me is truly fed up because I went on to pay with three gift vouchers (yes, Working Boy, I’m looking at you).

“I’m sorry, I say to the cashier, there are sultanas on the floor”. And I leave. 

Except I don’t because as I walk off I count my dominoes and even though my receipt says I have earned 18. And even though I TOLD her I have 4 kids, somehow she has given me 12 dominoes. She grabbed handfuls of them, like she was being very generous. But it was all an act, and I only have 12 dominoes.   By now I have accepted that shopping with a toddler is an exercise in utter mortification. In fact, I am embracing it. So I march back up to my cashier who is finally serving the non-yoghurt smeared woman behind me and I say “Excuse me. But you only gave me 12 dominoes and I was supposed to get 18”.

So I got my extra 6 dominoes. Sure I lost my dignity but you know….you can’t win them all. And quite frankly,  when it comes toddlers and supermarkets, you feel lucky to escape at all. 

XOXO Shopping Girl

What to buy the husband who has everything he wants and wants nothing.

Children are like ants. I once read this and no truer word has ever been spoken. They pick things up in one place and drop them down in another location. And they do this all day long. What ants, like children, do NOT do is pick things up from the place they left them and return them to the place they belong. No amount of storage shopping can solve this dilemma. And you all know I have tried.

There are 4 ants in this house and only one Queen (cleaner) Ant. I am fighting a losing battle here. 

Right now (2.43pm), I am sitting here on my throne. Afternoon tea has been prepared, the dishwasher has been unloaded and re-loaded, the washing machine is washing the dirty washing, I have folded and sorted the clean washing, dinner has been cooked, Baby (a)N(t) will need to be woken in 10 minutes to go and fetch the other ants from school. There is a random assortment of toys, books, socks, shoes and pieces of homework strewn across the communal living areas of our home. And normally I would spend these final 15 minutes repatriating the assortment. But if I do that now, I will NEVER write again. And the shopping stratosphere will be out of balance. So even though I am going suffer extreme embarrassment in 1.5 hours when the guitar teacher comes over, and even further mortification in 2 hours when the piano teacher arrives* (the guitar teacher is an aging hippy, whereas the piano teacher is an extremely composed professional), I am taking one for the team.

2015 is proving to be hectic one for Shopping Girl, so far. It started with a bang – Working Boy turned 40 and I threw him a party with all of his friends to celebrate – and it hasn’t really stopped. 

Working Boy is not great with presents. That is, he really does not want any. Really. He does not like stuff. He is (unbearably) practical. 

It was tricky. I knew that WB did not want me spending his hard earned money on him. He wanted me to spend thought and time, rather. Which left me in a quandary because his birthday fell on the 2nd day back of Term One. It is hard to find time when you have 4 children with you 24/7 for seven weeks. In fact that scenario has rather the same destructive effect on thought process as well. 

So this is what I did. The day the children went back to school, I headed straight to Westfield. I breathed in that shopping mall air and felt the school holiday weight lifting from my shoulders. Some people need to sit alone on a tall mountain / deserted beach / cave to think clearly. Some people need to go on a yoga retreat. I also need to retreat. To Westfield Bondi Junction. 

I went to David Jones and bought Working Boy a pile of shirts I thought he would like. This doesn’t sound all that romantic but it’s actually quite thoughtful . 

Working Boy tends to wear his clothes until they are falling apart. He has come home in hospital scrubs (he is not a surgeon) on the odd occasion because he wears things literally until they fall apart, and one time the time they chose to fall apart was while he was at work. The last time we bought him clothes, Baby N was a foetus. And this is Baby N now:



(Gratuitous baby photo)

You can see Working Boy and I have slightly different philosophies when it comes to clothes shopping. Anyway his shirts were starting to look blah, and he had a very hectic working summer with little time for eating and sleeping let alone shopping, so I decided to bring the shop to him. I bought him about 15 shirts that I thought he would like (from David Jones, where I won’t have hassles with returns), I borrowed a clothing rack, and I sent up a little David Jones in the living room, with me playing the part of personal shopper. He loved it. Partly because I had thought about him, and partly because he didn’t need to go shopping anymore. 

Then for another thoughtful touch, I bought him these fabric photo stickers and applied them to his office wall. 





With a ruler and spirit level app and everything! Actually in all honestly I was ordering name labels for the kids (had I had time, I could have done an awesome back to school special…..maybe next year. Working Boy is not getting a big 41st party) and the website, tinyme.com.au, was advertising a special on their photo stickers. It’s easy as anything – their website logs into your instagram, and you just pick your pics. Yeah, Working Boy loved that too. And the kids were pleased with their name labels. 

Finally we decided we would choose an Aquabumps print together to mark the occasion. We haven’t got around to that yet. As mentioned, Working Boy is not great with non-urgent shopping and it’s hard to urgently need artwork for your walls. Believe me I have tried, but there is no “pants split at work” equivalent to photos on the walls. We’ll get there eventually.

Despite the fact that it was HIS birthday, WB composed and PERFORMED (in front of gathered friends and family) a song for me. It’s really good. Not just because it’s about me. It is actually good. That is the ultimate cost-free present. And if that’s what I get for his 40th, I can’t WAIT till mine!

*okay so I started writing on Tuesday but it took me another 3 days to finish.  Baby N woke so I neither wrote NOR tidied. The ultimate injustice.

Boxing Day Musings

I know you’re all feeling neglected. I have left you, dear readers, to fend for yourselves at the busiest point of the shopping year. I have no words to beg your forgiveness. But please know, it was all in the name of shopping.

There is SO much shopping to do at the end of the year. Teachers’ gifts. Chanukah presents. Christmas presents for Working Boy’s colleagues. Sandals for the kids. School shoes for the kids (if you want to be SUPER sneaky and miss the January queues. Their shoes fit for a year – they will not grow out of them over the 6 week vacation). It has seriously been one long shop-a-thon. With no time
to write about it.

And it is by NO MEANS over. I woke up this morning to find my email inbox crammed with all the Boxing Day steals and deals. So if there’s anything you’ve been hanging out for, and it wasn’t discounted in the lead up to Xmas, as retailers vied for our affections, it is BOUND to be on sale
now. Some retailers (Zimmermann I’m looking at you) put their sales up Xmas Eve, I assume to avoid having to do any work on Xmas or Boxing Day, but only scheduled the email sale notice for the 26th. Some savvy shoppers (Shopping Girl, I’m looking at me) deduced this could be the case and nabbed their dress reduced before it sold out. Winning.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/0e4/69889076/files/2014/12/img_6305.png My inbox this morning.

However, I’m not going to be doing so much shopping in the Boxing Day sales. I think it’s time to dedicate some of the budget to what I really need. Saucepans. As opposed to what I don’t actually need. Another dress. When we moved into our house in August last year, it emerged that every pot and pan I owned was rendered useless by the now, much adored, induction cook top. Despite the fact that we had invested every last penny we had into our house deposit, I informed Working Boy that we would have to dig deep and find a few MORE pennies for some induction compatible pots and pans. I bought the bare minimum. 18 months later I am still cooking with the bare minimum and every time I want to make soup and pasta AT THE SAME TIMES, or more than one type of vegetable (which anyone with children who like each type of food SEPARATE will relate to), I curse myself for forgetting that every once in while frypan trumps shoes. So this Boxing Day, it’s all about the pots.

Being able to differentiate between essentials and frivolity has always been an issue of mine, and it’s
not only noticeable in my somewhat sparse cookware drawer. Yesterday I flew to my hometown of Perth. Packing for myself and 4 small to medium to slightly big people is sometimes not the easiest task, but Perth in summer is not complicated. Per child I needed, 5 t-shirts, 4 shorts, 2 boardies, 2 rashies, 6 undies, 2 pyjamas, 1 thongs, and…….packed.

I don’t know who I think I am but for myself I packed…..a little unsuitably. I packed my runners and compression leggings (Who knew I had compression leggings? I don’t even KNOW what they are for, let alone when I bought them). At some stage in the packing I moved away from Michelle Bridges and began chanelling Talitha Getty. If I were Kate Middleton with multiple appearances and poolside parties, I would be well packed. Presumably, if I were Kate I wouldn’t have been packing myself in the first place, but details, details.

I have come to Perth. To chase a toddler around parks. To dig sandcastles at the beach. To watch the children roast in the sun, jumping on the trampoline. To lie on my parents’ sofa. To eat icecream. It’s not a fashion capital and I’m not going to any celebrations. The only paparazzi snapping will be me, behind the camera, lens trained on Baby N, the cutest of subjects. It’s too hot to exercise. And even if I wanted to,
I am too busy lying on the sofa. So where the hell are my comfy, hanging out clothes? Why am I packed like Poppy Delevigne on her way to her nuptial festival in Morocco? Why,
Oh Why, have I packed for an It-Girl’s St Tropez vacance when I have as much chance of having that sort of holiday as……as……as……well that’s just it – I have absolutely 0 chance of having that holiday.

On the bright side, at least 4/5 of us are suitably packed so that’s an 80% success rate, really.

Anyway must dash. We’re off shopping. For Baskin Robbins. Yep I’m off to take the kids for ice-cream. In 100% dry-clean only silk.

XOXO Shopping Girl

Why I’ll never be thin or rich

This morning I dropped the kids at school (which was blissfully short after one child refused to go in yesterday and I spent 1.5 hours trying to drop him off. I tried. I failed. I tried again. I failed again. Multiple teachers tried. Multiple teachers failed. Until the school receptionist came to the rescue and although it is totally NOT her job, she magically kept him inside school as I left. All hail the mighty receptionist).

So after this normal length drop off, I came home, popped my runners on and headed out, Baby N in pram, to pay the bakery and the butcher a visit.
Bread in bag, bagel in hand, chicken and steak in the pram, home we went. As I passed the corner store, I saw the Ben & Jerry’s fridge and I lingered momentarily.

“Mmmm” said Future Shopping Girl. “That icecream will come in mighty handy later when you start craving that sweet, creamy deliciousness to comfort you through the difficult part of the day. Get in now and you’ll be SO pleased later”.

“Nooooo” screamed Future Future Shopping Girl. “You’ll eat the whole tub and be filled with self-loathing and regret. And Ben & Jerry’s really isn’t THAT great icecream. It just has really amazing flavours. It always sounds better than it tastes”.

“Future Future Shopping Girl is right”, I thought to myself. And I kept walking.

Later, I was innocently scrolling through my Facebook feed (okay I was checking how many likes last night’s post got) when this appeared:

IMG_5854.JPG

Now, I know there are some people who can look at the poster, think “yum”, and carry on with their day. And there is that weird, small percentage who think “ugh too sweet”. “Too” and “sweet” are two words that simply do not belong together.

I am neither of those people. And this is why I will never be thin or rich. I saw that poster and thought “Must. Have. NOW.” Tout suite. And then “OMG English toffeeeeeeeee”. Baby N was due for a nap and I had just BEEN in Bondi Beach, but I immediately started working out the rest of my day, and how I could work in a trip to Ben & Jerry’s. I don’t know if English toffee is any different to Australian toffee or French toffee for that matter but the words have always held a very dear place in my ice-cream flavour heart.

My options were split – I could go after Baby N’s nap, buy a tub and eat it myself…….which isn’t great for the thin but better for the bank balance OR I could take the kids after school which is better for the thin but harder on the wallet.

But I can’t just take the kids to Ben & Jerry’s……too much of a treat just for an everyday afternoon tea. So I start wracking my brains for a reason. Thinking…..thinking…..got it! First Born and J played in their first piano concert on Sunday and didn’t stop in the middle of their pieces shrieking “I can’t do this!” as they are wont to do at home. Sure, going for icecream straight after the concert would have made more sense but it was passable.

As an aside, icecream is not the only reason I will never be rich. I am constantly looking for reasons to treat my kids. Enter “the report present”. The arrival of First Born’s first school report co-incided with me spying a toy that he (ie me) could not possibly live without. With no birthday or Chanukah near, an occasion had to be found. “Here First Born!”, I presented it to him “This is for getting an excellent report! Well done on all your hard work”. And thus “The Report Present” became a thing until some point about a year or two ago when I realised that the kids actually thought “The Report Present” was a real thing, and were
planning what they should get. “You haven’t even got your reports yet!! And anyway – there is no such thing as a report present!” I shrieked. Let’s just say, the tooth fairy exposé pales in comparison.

Report presents have been relegated to a thing of the past but the underlying problem still remains….which leads us to icecream for a piano concert 5 days ago.

I kept planning. I would enjoy my icecream much more if I didn’t have Baby N on my lap shrieking for the spoon. I wondered if the new flavours came as tubs, or were only by the scoop. But if they were by the scoop, perhaps I could get it put into a take home pack?

I consulted the website. So I could have my flavours “hand” packed into a take home tub (as opposed to foot packed?). And then I saw this:

IMG_5855.PNG

A brand new take home tub flavour. So now there were two flavours in store I needed urgently to try and one take home tub too.

Butterscotch. Toffee. Cookie dough. Brown sugar. Blondies. Brownies. Toffee. TOFFEE. TOFFEEEEEEEEE.

The words swirled around in my head like……flavours swirling around in icecream. It’s that suggestible personality thing again. And suddenly it was all clear – the reason I will never be thin or rich is purely due to icecream*.

Epilogue.

I decided that I would leave early to collect the boys, drive past Ben & Jerry’s. If there was a parking spot right outside, I would take that as a sign from g-d to pick up ice-cream for myself only (and Working Boy, of course). If there was no spot, I would take the boys after school. I drove past, and there was the closest spot to Ben & Jerry’s free, highlighted by a sunbeam streaming through the clouds.

I went in and bought my HAND packed tub, but alas, they did not have Brown Sugar Blondie in stock yet.

You should all know that A Cookie Affair and English Toffee Crunch are WORTH IT. Worth the calories. Worth the money. Worth shlepping Baby N in and out the car. Oh, and I also picked up a free Ben & Jerry’s 2015 calendar which, in a brilliant piece of marketing, has about $70 worth of B & J’s vouchers attached to the 12 pages, 2 vouchers valid per month.

2015 will be a great ice-cream year.

P.S. On my walk along Curlewis St, I also passed a gorgeous new shop / gallery, which has the most awesome Astro Boy canvas I have ever seen. I was debating which son I loved most, who would get the canvas, when I discovered said canvas is $800. Unfortunately, as discussed, I’m prone to blowing the budget on ice-cream, so no-one gets the canvas, but I will be making a return trip to check out their smaller prints, and I would encourage you to do the same.

*and possibly a very sweet tooth and a complete lack of self control.

XOXO Shopping Girl