Cursed

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

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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:

4. 


$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.

The Black Hole

First Born is growing. Like a fertilised weed. A very well fertilised weed. Working Boy and I cannot help but notice that every few weeks he has crept a few millimetres closer to that moment where he will be taller than his mother. It could be months away, it could be weeks away, it could be days away, but the moment is coming. They say a watched pot never boils but when your child starts encroaching on your superior height, you can practically see your power slipping away before your eyes. 

With such obvious growth, it somehow still always takes me by surprise when his clothes don’t fit from one year to the next. Or sometimes from one month to the next. As the weather cooled over the last school holidays, it became painfully obvious that First Born needed some new tops. And jumpers. And shirts. And pants. Even undies (Sorry First Born. There was a reason I never told you about my blog). 

First Born’s feet are now a 40. He is a size 16 in clothes. Let me tell you something about these sizes. They are literally the black hole of clothing. They do not exist. Most of the kids shoes finish around a 36. The men’s shoes start at a 41. I am not joking. We have had a good few years now of floating around blindly in shoe no man’s land. Cooking Child is just entering this unenviable phase, as First Born will finally make his entree into men’s shoes. Last year an excellent friend in the same predicament tipped me off that Windsor Smith has some styles starting in a 39. There’s a reason that these days my kids ONLY wear sneakers outside of school and it’s not their sporting prowess. Sneakers seem to be the only shoe form that bridges the gap. Until we emerge firmly in men’s shoes, my kids will live in Nikes. There are worse predicaments in life. 

As for the clothes, some of the brands have TRIED to target the situation, and for a while the gap was bridged – there’s FREE by Cotton On (for 9-14s), Seed Teen, and Pavement. These are my first points of call. But this season…..nothing. There are just so many boringly plain things, or stupidly sloganed. And only Pavement goes to a 16 which means that First Born has grown out of teen sizes but is still not quite ready for men’s.

I have ransacked DJs, where I can generally dress my entire family with ease……nothing fits the bill. Or the boy. I am not stingy when it comes to First Born’s clothing. There are 3 smaller bodies waiting to wear it, so I am more than happy to pay more for something that will last. But I can’t pay for something which does not exist.

I have been to Country Road and the gap between where the boys clothes finish and then Men’s clothes begin is Grand Canyon-esque. 

See that space in between man and child? That space is where all the clothes I need for First Born are hiding. Somewhere between child……and man. I can just see their teen range when it finally emerges (and I’m sure it will)…..County Road: Manchild

So what do I do and where do I go? How do I fill the black hole of shopping?

First, Zara. They opened their kids’ section in WBJ with so little fanfare that even I only realised it was there about 3 months after it opened. Shocking confession, I know. Last year, First Born wanted a white shirt. They had a size 14 shirt which was plain white enough to keep Working Boy happy, with a small twist to keep me happy. Their 13-14 is generously sized so this will keep Cooking Child clothed for a while, at least, though First Born is still in the wasteland. 

I went to Myer. I don’t love shopping at Myer, but their teen boys’ section is reasonably well stocked. I’ve had luck with Mossimo (ha! My autocorrect turned Mossimo into Missoni – who knew the phone had the complexity to make Freudian slips?) and Bauhaus, one of Myer’s in house brands. 

I’ve been trying the smallest size of menswear with mixed results. XXS t-shirt from TopMan? Success. Size 28 chinos from Cotton On? Success. I have bought t-shirts and shirts from Cotton On in size S which First Born tries on and says “It’s a dress”. Interestingly there appear to be size XS and XXS but these options are always blocked out online. I’m not sure if this is because they are not available or whether the more experienced gap mothers snap up all the XXS and XS the second they become available. I’m sure by the time Master T reaches “the gap” I’ll have worked it out. 

The other problem, apart from actual size, with trying to bridge “the gap” by shopping small sizes of menswear is that the styles are often too adult for a twelve year old. And the prices are also too adult (this is why Cotton On’s regular 30% off deals come in handy). 

Speaking of gaps, it occurs to be that one place I have not searched to fill the gap, is, in fact, The GAP. Wouldn’t it be ironic if The GAP actually filled the gap? 

In the meantime, the gap is alive and well, and living in my house. I’m open to suggestions.

XOXO Shopping Girl 

Back to Basics

Life is not an Instagram feed. If it was, this was my life last weekend:

And that was just the conference that I got whisked away to Kingscliff for (The Toddler former known as Baby N – TTFKABN somehow got caught in the whisk too). But the weekend was not over yet….

 Toddler Dance party!
 Giant balloons!
 Playing giant draughts with Master T

 Watching the boats from the Opera House



Except in reality, it did not look like that at all. Well it did for a few minutes at a time but it also looked like…. me selling my tickets for the sold out Clare Bowen concert I had been looking forward to for months because I realised, mere hours before the concert, that there was no possible way to get everything organised for the conference trip the next morning, get my kids organised for their overnighters at friends,  AND attend the concert; 2 children coming down with illnesses on Sunday; TTFKABN Losing His Shit when those giant balls were dropped on the audience; TTFKABN literally shaking in my arms as we approached Duggee – who was the whole reason we went to the toddler rave in the first place; TTFKABN unable to recover from losing sight of me for approximately 5 seconds while he was jumping in bubbles, necessitating him to cry for the rest of the morning (though in retrospect he was actually launching a temperature and ear infection so that might have had something to do with the misery); Master T not wanting to go when I had enough of lugging around the crying TFKABN, because he was actually enjoying the whole kids’ festival, TTFKABN refusing to walk necessitating me to carry all 21.5 kg of him from the Opera House, back to the carpark (this is not a short stroll)…..I could go on but I think you get the picture.   TTFKABN SO excited to meet his favourite character, Duggee. Can’t you tell from the way he’s clinging onto me for dear life?

Conclusion: Life is NOT an Instagram feed. At least mine’s not and I need clothes that are up to the task of daily life (we touched on this last time). When your whole life feels like a Masterchef pressure test, the last thing you need is wardrobe stress. When making the time to shower and get dressed is a strategised event, actual thought going into an outfit is somewhat unlikely and in reality close to impossible. 

One solution I have to this is dresses. Always dresses. They are a complete outfit in one decision. Dress equals less stress. You put it on and boom! You’re dressed! 

We work hard to buy our clothes but once they are bought it’s time for the clothes to work for us. And my clothes have some hard work ahead of them. I have forgotten how to get dressed lately. I think it’s the change of season, which was very sudden in Sydney….it literally went from summer to winter overnight. Which meant I closed my eyes one night wanting to layer as little as possible and woke up the next morning trying to layer as much as possible . Unfortunately I can’t remember how to do this. I keep staring at my wardrobe in confusion, wondering what on earth to do with it, and more to the point did I just wear a dressing gown all of last winter? How on earth did I leave the house clothed 9 months ago when I can’t see any viable winter options. I feel lost in translation.

To layer successfully, you need basics. Really good basics. I am not great at buying basics – I am good at buying dry clean only silk for child-free evenings  but my life demands basics. I am also good at visiting the dry cleaner as my enthusiasm for an outfit outweighs my sense of reason to save dry-clean only for rare child-free occasions. But back to basics and layering, thankfully I have found three labels which are taking the guess work out of it for me. 

***

1. The Style Trinity

The Style Trinity is the 4th baby of my gorgeous friend, Charissa. Her first 3 babies were human, the latter two being born a mere year apart, so she GETS the need to look fabulous with minimal effort and time. Charissa always looks amazing. She has a knack of pulling together an outfit like no other and she is investing that innate style into her label. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook

When my Style Trinity goodies arrived in the post last week, I threw them all on together. And I looked great. Not as great as Charissa, but styled and sorted. I felt good. And it took me 10 seconds to get dressed. These are clothes that are doing the work for me. 

This is Charissa wearing her long Penelope Skirt and brand logo tank:

I bought that skirt. It is actually magic. I am pear shaped. Now I know some people *think* they are pear shaped, but most of the time that is an insult, or perhaps a compliment, to the truly pear shaped amongs us. Straight, tight skirts do not suit me. They cling to my non-straight thighs in a most unflattering way. The Penelope skirt is different. It is tight, yet somehow unbelievably flattering. I’m not sure what black magic Charissa has done to the fabric, but I like it. And speaking of black magic, I’ll have the black too.

I also ordered the ultimate basic – a long sleeve striped tee. It works with everything. It even doubles as pyjamas. I know this because sometimes I fall asleep in my clothes. This was lovely to sleep in and still good to go the next morning. I can’t say the same for all my clothes.  I like a multitasking top.

The quality is there. The cut is there. The style is there. And the clothes are here, hanging in my wardrobe, where all good clothes belong. 

***

2. The Frock NYC

These girls do not need a rap from Shopping Girl. They’ve been feature in Vogue, for goodness sake. The Frock are Simi Polonsky and Chaya Chanin, two Sydney girls making it big in NYC. Chaya and Simi get my wardrobe needs like no-one else can. They grew up in Sydney so they get the weather. They are uber stylish. They are mothers. And most importantly (for me) they are Orthodox Jews (like me), so they get the need to marry stylish, weather & lifestyle appropriate clothing with Jewish modesty laws. Not only do they keep my wardrobe covered, they keep my elbows and knees covered too. 


Their business is, not surprisingly, frocks (and some brilliant belts) which just PROVES what a great customer-slash-brand combo we are. When they came to Sydney last year, I went to check out their threads. I was browsing through the dresses, and picked up a silky T dress to inspect more closely (it was lovely close up too). As I scrutinised it, Simi piped up “It’s a great layering piece”. “This girl’s cuckoo” I said (quietly in my head). “I have 4 kids – i don’t have time to LAYER”. The next morning as I gazed incomprehensibly at my wardrobe, unable to find a thing to wear, I realised she was right. Layering pieces were exactly what I needed. If I just had the dress, I could throw on this jumper or that vest, with a saddle belt, some ankle boots, and I’d be good to go. I called the girls, and bought the dress in blush. And then in olive. Followed by a frockheaven dress, a frockclassic T and a frockfluid. 


Frock silky t in Olive

Simi and Chaya have taught me that layering does not need to be time consuming or scary, and that with the right basic pieces, it’s a cinch. 
***

3. COS

Last year Working Boy and I took the boys overseas. After 3 weeks in Israel, we went to London for 9 days. We showed the boys all the sights and one fantastic afternoon,  Working Boy took the boys sight seeing to allow me some unencumbered shopping time. 


A bit of Zara here….a spot of Massimo Dutti there, but mostly some glorious browsing. At the end of a few hours, Working Boy and the Boyz were ready to be reunited with me and we organised to meet at The Apple Shop. As I approached Apple, I walked past the windows of a COS store. “Interesting,” I thought. Followed by “WB and the Boyz will be FINE in Apple for 5 minutes by themselves” and into COS I went. Well. I was bedazzled. I wanted to try on everything. My phone started beeping. The non-natives were restless. “I’ll be there in 5!” I lied texted. I did a speed perusal, grabbed about 10 things, ran to the change room, resisted the urge to max out the credit card, and limited myself to a dress, and a handbag. 

Joy of all joys a few months later COS opened one of its Australian branches in WBJ, my very local mega mall. I still cannot walk in there without wanting to take half the shop home with me. This is layerable pieces on steroids. Incredible basics, reasonable price point, fabulous, stylish cuts.

COS Bondi Junction: I spy with my little eye the most GORGEOUS rose gold triangular prism bag!

***

And that’s my wrap on basics. Shopping Girl: keeping it real, one outfit at a time.

XOXO Shopping Girl

MBFW – The Round Up

Last week was the annual Mercedes-Benz  Fashion Week – it’s THE week of weeks for the sartorially inclined in Australia. I like watching the shows online. I’d like to watch in person more but no-one ever invites me. I scanned my Instagram with particular interest this year. The collections paraded will hit the shops a few weeks before First Born’s barmitzvah, so I’m in the market for a spectacular outfit or two. Unfortunately,  “we” have some major expenses coming up, so apparently that is ALL I’m in the market for until then. Very hard to be Shopping Girl without shopping……but details, details

Anyway, fabulous outfits aside, I like to keep an eye on the latest from Australian designers. It’s not just that I can’t afford international designers, Australian designers seem to get me. They get my lifestyle. They know what I want to wear. There is barely a season that goes by, that I DON’T have a wish list from Zimmerman, Ginger & Smart, Bianca Spender et al. 

Truth be known, and contrary to popular belief, I don’t spend my days doing lunches, fashion shows and sipping champagne. It’s all very well looking hawt while I swan around WBJ but I need my fashion to work for me at school drop off (and pick up), at the supermarket, at the sink, and the washing-line  (where I spend a stupid amount of time) and, most importantly, in the park.

So let’s see, how will the 2016 collections work for me?

Let’s start with Maticevski, he was the opening night after all. 


Okey dokey then……I can see how this works on the runway. And why this would be worth creating just for the media buzz BUT I do have to say….Toni? This really does not work for me. Nor any other mother I know. And just general, functional non-mothers.  I NEED my hands. I cannot cook dinner with my hands tied behind my back. I cannot push a swing. Okay fine….I supposed I can kick a swing. But I cannot drive, and driving, in my line of “work”, is everything.  My hands and arms are pretty crucial in just about every day to day scenario in which I envisage myself. That “piece” is pretty, and certainly dramatic, but seriously? I’d prefer it just hung there like a pendulum and gave me use of my hands. 

Okay….Ginger & Smart I love you. Don’t get me wrong. I really do. I could buy 5 of your ($600) dresses every single collection. I sometimes think I must be your third sister, separated at birth. But girls? I cannot SEE out of this hat. Yes, yes, it may provide excellent SPF but I have 4 boys to watch over. There’s a whole mummy mafia who will crucify me if I don’t. And I might end up on Bondi Rescue as the sun smart mum who wasn’t watching (nay couldn’t watch) her toddler near the water. 

The bag on the other hand? Excellent. In Fashun-speak, that would be called a Weekender. I would call it “a morning out with children”. The bag should just about fit everything in, though the kids will still have to carry their own towels if we head to the beach. 

Moving on and Emma Mulholland seemed to be more in my world with her playful designs. I saw the headbands:

And I thought “yes! You get what my life is like”. I saw the star stickers on the models’ faces and I thought “been there”. Given, my kids generally stick those little fruit stickers on me, rather than stars, but you know, same concept. 


However where Mulholland is clearly not designing for me is the boob spacemen. It’s like her head is all PlaySchool and then the body is all, well, Alien. Sigourney Weaver type Alien. I can’t wear that. My kids will have nightmares and they’ll wake me up in the middle of the night. I’d rather wear the fruit stickers.

You almost had me. That skirt is heaven. I am ready to hand over my credit card but for goodness sake why is it COMPLETELY TRANSPARENT?? I can’t go to parent teacher night with my undies on display. Actually I can’t go anywhere with my undies on display. For just so many reasons, really.  Steven Khalil: Line the skirt, and you have a sale.


Well this is a surgery waiting to happen, Alice McCall. I don’t know about you, but when I kneel down to button up a small shirt or tie up a shoelace, my kids start randomly poking me in the face. The Todder Formerly Known as Baby N actually takes handfuls of hair from each side of my face, and then rubs it all over my face, in a sort of banana smearing motion.  I now involuntarily shout out “don’t touch my face!” when I drop on one knee.  I can see myself losing the piece of cartilage between my nostrils. I like having separate nostrils. I don’t want one big nostril. No face jewelly for me. 

But not all designers fell victim to totally impractical designs for a stay-at-home mother of 4. Here are some that come with the Shopping Girl stamp of approval.

Steven Khalil

You can hide anything under this dress (assuming it gets lined). A pregnancy. Even just a food baby. An extra child into a movie that you don’t want to pay for. The options are endless. Volume is good.


Georgia Alice



This top is genius. For anyone, like me, who has more children than hands, no need for fights anymore over who gets to hold them. Everyone gets a strip of sleeve instead. There’s even extras for friends. I once said I needed to be an octopus to be a mother. Now I can be.

Let’s start with my friend on the left. What is she wearing? Is it a coat? Is it a picnic blanket? Is it a quilt? Who knows, but how much more perfect could a garment be than to combine all three. Perfect for those freezing Sunday morning soccer games, with hungry siblings who’ve come along for the ride.  Thank you Romance was Born.

As for the girl on the far right, let’s just say: my kids go to a religious Jewish school, so biblical dress ups come in more handy than you might generally think. Mum’s jacket by night, Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat by day.

And these last two? Well they are just utter style. I am happy just gazing upon their simple perfection. 

Bianca Spender


By Johnny

Stay tuned next time, for the opposite end of the spectrum. The designers who are designing with actual, child driving, food cooking, non-parade going people in mind.

XOXO Shopping Girl 

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