Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Does having children make you more productive?

As I was driving my Mum home this evening - after a lovely afternoon spent 'arting' with my toddler-daughter; fluffy sticks, glue sticks, scissors and wallpaper everywhere -I had a bit of a realisation.

In the three years I've been Mummy, I have been my most productive. 

Yes, I spent the first six weeks of motherhood wondering if my eyeballs would stop itching from tiredness (ah, so that's why the pain of a few days in labour is so instantly forgotten).

And I had a few uncomfy months in PND, when I struggled to cope with any slight change in this strict routine I had created for my little family and my coping mechanism included turning into the Tasmanian Devil.

Even at the three year mark I'm discovering that hearing my daughter chat away, while amazing, often means I can't think straight with her barrage of demands (more Peppa Pig NOW!)

But in the last three years I've:

Grown more confident driving. 
While pregnant, especially during the winter party season, I became the designated driver and learned to stop fretting about driving. I still need to know the route I'm going, but I can drive with music now. Probably couldn't drive without it.

Completed my Masters degree
Yeah, I faffed about with education all my life, and studied part-time for five years while working.  But when I realised I was pregnant I spent that summer in the library, only occasionally popping out to buy cute baby outfits.

Presented research into narrative writing in the USA and UK 
I love writing, shopping and holiday-ing, so why not? Although the 10 days away from my 15 month old (at the time) little girl was a tough stretch, it was a great moment for my CV, and ultimately she got away with toddler-stuff as she stayed with Daddy and both sets of grandparents!

Published two books 
After a twenty-year plan to one day publish a novel, thanks to the interweb, entrepreneurs, non-fiction authors and the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, this year I've published two books.  Go me. The first book was borne from a desire to share my style secrets with my daughter when she's a teenager.

Grown my shopping consultancy 
After a similar amount of time, and shopping experience around the world, I've discovered that I have shopping stamina. And that's a great thing.  I answered Marianne Cantwell's question of what would I love to spend my days doing, and shopping sprang forth as my preferred occupation, quickly followed by writing.  I now shop with clients who have lost their style way (there is a LOT of choice out there in retail land) and they pay at the till!

Created the Size15Stylist brand 
Beginning with a simple blog chatting about shopping, and designed as a way to illustrate to my daughter that she should do what makes her happy (as well as really honing my technical and marketing abilities) I sometimes can't believe S15S has been in existence for only fifteen months; my Google Analytics results look pretty amazing. 

What are your biggest achievements in the last few years? 

 Brilliant blog posts on

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Was Blogfest an introverts flashmob?

On Saturday I had the absolute pleasure of attending my first ever blogging event, the delicious Mumsnet Blogfest

I had a grand time listening to such inspiring speakers like Francesca Martinez, the Fleet Street Fox, Suzanne Moore, Rachel Joyce, Harriet Lane, Lynn Barber, Nick Hornby, Lucy Porter and the man that talks faster than I do when I bump into a beautiful blogging moment (ie, a passionate speaker)...Paul Armstrong. And with Rachel's writerly advice to 'forget the washing', it's like she had already heard about my #stuffthelaundry Twitter linky I launched last week!

I had thought it was the absolute wrong time for me to not have Wi-Fi access; I'd swapped my broken smart phone for a Blackberry only a mere few days earlier, and I don't know about you, Dear Reader, but it takes me a good six months to figure out the smarts on a phone.  And my Kindle is reaching it's second birthday, so having the appropriate tantrums: Wi-Fi was available throughout Kings Place, but my devices weren't cooperating on the day.  

I couldn't join in the tweeting!  
Well, I could read the twitter feed, and take notes on my Blackberry.

I couldn't instantly upload pictures!  
No, but I could chat to the blogger next to me.

I couldn't check back home with my family!  
No, but they could ring me if there was a problem.

All couldn'ts suitably dealt with, I sat back and enjoyed the presentations, and nattered to the willing bloggers around me. 

When I arrived I was as nervous as a woman walking into a room full of strangers could be.  But I rationalised that if I didn't enjoy myself I could always clear off to Westfield for a spot of shopping research.

Throughout the day I sometimes felt like a shy teenager loitering under the stairs at the popular party, until I found other shy people who understood what I was going through. Was Blogfest really an introverts flashmob?  

I realised that I didn't need to take part in the seemingly speed-networking event, and I also learned I wasn't the only nervous attendee.

I found the balance of confidence that is needed for single people in new situations: I was good enough to be there simply for being me.

The event ran smoothly, and was clearly a project of absolute dedication for the Mumsnet Team, although, perhaps for next year the team might like to throw in a few ice-breakers, where we have to collect information from other bloggers.  At one conference I attended, each person was given a playing card, and encouraged to find their matching pair in order to claim a free chocolate bar.  I met a lot of people at that event.

The food was plentiful throughout the day, and plenty of moments provided for us to step away from the programme and talk over coffee, or lean over the rails to look at the eager bloggers below and reflect on what we learned from each session (that we need waterproof mascara when listening to Francesca Martinez make us laugh).

I took away with me so many future steps for my blog (new social media trends, writer-inspiration, google+ definition) and the techie tips at the end of the day offered guidance on how to protect the posts on my blog (back them up).

Oh, and the delightful goody bag of edibles, beauty samples, warming scarf/pashmina/blanket, a Boden bag and an actual book means I can't wait for the early bird tickets for Blogfest15 to go on sale!

Do you use a reward system (shopping and/or chocolate) to help you through a tremendous yet giddy-with-the-nerves time?  

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Vanity Fare

I'm rather partial to my beauty products, and vanity cases. 

Bumped into this little lass in Tesco this morning, a cute, purple vanity case of Nivea goodies, reduced from £40 to £20. 

I don't think I'd have paid £40 for it; we're hardly in the Lancome/Estee Lauder/Elizabeth Arden territory.  But it would make a fab gift for any girl or woman in your life (heck, buy two if you're that way inclined).  

 Stocked with these five full size products: Face wash, BB Cream (medium), Wipes, Face cleanser, lip butter and a headband.


Looks lovely within my collection
 Don't you think? 
How many vanity cases do you own?