Forget Christmas (temporarily): Are you ready for the Boxing Day Sales?

Have you worked hard all year, bringing up gorgeous, well-behaved, polite children, looking after the family ahead of your own needs, working until late o'clock for your employer?  

Did you work until quarter past late to establish your own business?  

Can you remember the last time you bought yourself something fabulous to wear, that had you twirling with delight?

Well, it's (almost) time to treat yourself!

Check out  my 19 Top Tips  for the sales in Chapter 5, from what to wear to what to buy, in my book 119 Style Boosts from the Size15Stylist

 #53 "...Christmas Eve is a popular day for the January sales to start, and you can pick up a few bargains online without having to move from the sofa..."

 #58 "Only take your partner shopping with you if they really, really like shopping (or you don't like each other)..."

Designed for the busy woman whose life has changed in the last few years (and who may have temporarily misplaced her identity in the growing of another human) my book and my blog are devoted to boosting your unique style and helping you twirl again. 

Happy Sale Shopping, everyone!

PS - Did you know that if you save £10 a week for a Boxing Day you'll have around £500 to treat yourself with?!

Scuba party wear this holiday season

We all want to look our best at least once during December, don't we?

I've always liked to plan wearing a gorgeous Christmas day outfit, you know, the fabulous one to go with the perfect day?  Yet for the last 3 years I've dealt with pregnancy, a baby and a toddler while darting around visiting family, or fiddling with a turkey and executing a running order for potatoes and vegetables that reminds me why I love one-pot pasta meals.   

So my special outfit eventually slid down the priority list and it's been a while since I twirled from my Christmas dress; I bought every one Big Bang Theory t-shirts one year, and temporarily forgot that I really don't suit t-shirts, regardless of the fabulous logo.  I just don't have that body.  Still, I pulled on the reindeer antlers and cracked on with feeding 10 people and a cat.

But, this year, even with a fully-fledged child in tow (we're with my family for brunch and the in-laws for the afternoon), I've nailed my Christmas Day outfit, thanks to the beauty of scuba fabric.

No, this isn't some fantastical tummy-squishing device (urgh!) but rather an amazing man-made delight that simply makes a woman look and feel her best, providing you invest a little time in purchasing your scuba. 

This gorgeous dress (from Primark; £13. Really.) has that slight iconic 50s design that makes me feel I should be brandishing a martini glass, or champagne saucer...although for a recent Afternoon Tea in Manchester, I settled for the flute.  And I twirl each time I smooth the full skirt over my hips.

In a minute, pop along to your nearest online retailer and see what a search for scuba draws forward; House of Fraser apparently have 95 such items (including a, frankly, flipping-yummy Millie Mackintosh black cocktail dress).  

Before you dash off (December is an extra-special sort of dashy month, isn't it?) here are my top tips for having a scuba Christmas. 
1. Touch it.
Before you invest online, try to get touchy-feely in the stores; scuba is soft and feels like a much more flexible neoprene. When you touch it you'll know, but there are other imitations out there.   Nothing wrong with them, but scuba has a great structure to it that might not be available in other styles.  Your receipt will tell you if it's scuba, which is how I discovered the fabric in the first place, as I wondered what on earth it was appearing on my receipt.

2. Pattern Vs plain print.
You may want to wear a pattern as plain will show every underwear line.  I'm almost tempted to order that Millie dress just to double-check my theory, but as I don't believe in thongs I think there'd still be a spot of VPL on my Size15 derrière.  

3. Layer-effect.
For extra warmth you wear a cami-top underneath your scuba dress (if there's a pattern). Equally, if you find yourself getting a little flushed once or eight times a day, the fabric shouldn't be too overbearing (providing you don't buy a polo-neck).

4. Recyclable?
No. Wear once and wash; some dresses, with the right  fabric, and a first-layer t-shirt, can be worn twice before a wash, with a little Febreeze and airing. Scuba IS man-made. But it dries very quickly!

5. Accessorise.
Go glam with nude legs and heels or dress comfy with leggings and your favourite booty slippers, depending on dinner location. Champagne saucer/flute optional. 
What will you be doing on Christmas Day this year? Have you planned your outfit already? Scuba also makes work days pretty darn twirly.  

Mums' Days

Two Free Ebook gifts

To mark the season....

Yes, to celebrate the first week of December, the merriment that is Red Cup season at Starbucks and Turkey, Cranberry and Stuffing butties everywhere, you can download my two ebooks for free this week!

If you'd like to read My Blogging Insights this will be available FOR FREE from your nearest Kindle or Kindle app (did anyone else treat themselves to the new Kindle Fire HDX from Amazon last week?) on these two specific days only: 

Monday 1st December and Tuesday 2nd December (2014, in case you wondered) 

Then you can download and read my style book 119 Style Boosts for free from:
Wednesday 3rd December to Sunday 7th December (again, 2014) 

If you've already bought and read these books, share these deals with your family and friends, and please use the contact form below to send me your email address and you will receive my 1st book in 2015 for free, as a thank you for being such gorgeously fabulous readers! 

PS - I will be fully throwing myself into Christmas merriment, as it's my favourite season of the whole wide year, so my new book is likely to be out in Spring 2015.  Anyone who emails me before 10th December 2014 will receive a copy for free.

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

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?  

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? 

Stuff the laundry

Here's what I'm thinking today, why don't we instigate a #stuffthelaundry Wednesday?  

Abandon the housework in favour of the following (tick all that apply, and enjoy)

Me time: Zone out with a Latte (#110 in my 119 Style Boosts book) or catch up with your favourite TV shows....I NEVER get the remote between the morning battle with Ben and Holly Vs BBC Breakfast or the post-dinner news/In The Night Garden battle; 11am on a week day could be the only time I get to see Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners.

Personal Hygiene: Have a mid-day bath. Go on. It'll be uninterupted.  Probably.  If you're at work, then don't you have a dental appointment that you've *forgotten* about?  Or, if you book an afternoon meeting into your diary at work, in a room that doesn't exist, by the time you're missed you could have had a nice soak with last Christmas' bubble bath.  You could even Nair your legs, if you like.

Work: Yes, log off social media, don't multi-task with the housework and feel guilty at being home and not looking after the house; the housework can wait until tomorrow....there's nothing like only having three items left in your wardrobe to foster a 'creative' personality; it's how I discovered my dress-over-trousers style. 

Nap: toddlers get away with losing the afternoon to sleep, and there's nothing like a quick nap to perk you up.  Go on, grab your snuggle blanket (or that posh Dunelm/Laura Ashley throw from the back of the sofa) and enjoy a couple of hours off.

Shop: you could always really say #stuffthelaundry by buying new clothes instead of washing them. Obviously this is a bit on the daft side; even Primark isn't that cheap.  But why don't you pop out to your nearest shop and source out some sparkles for any upcoming dos? 

Join in the Twitter Party at #stuffyourlaundry and link to what you're up to this Wednesday

PS - literally stuffing your laundry anywhere is entirely optional. 

What the blog is blogging all about?

Have you ever struggled to define blogging to someone when they ask?

Ever had anyone glaze over when you start to talk about the fabulousness of blogging?

Are you contemplating writing a blog but wondering if you'll suit the lifestyle?

Has it been a little while since you remembered why you blog? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you're in need of Blogging Insights, my brand new shiny book, available on your nearest Kindle device/app for a fantabulous price of 0.77p!

And, as a thank you to my lovely readers and fellow bloggers, I'll be reducing the price of 119 Style Boosts  from Thursday 6th November.

I'm off now to deal with the laundry mountain I've accumulated over these last edit-oriented days (weeks!) and to soak in a yummy bubble bath, now toddler-daughter is asleep.

Happy reading! 

Have you ever wondered about the writing, self-publishing and marketing of a book?

Time to tickle the writer in you again, as NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow.  Some writers I know are really going for the task of writing a 50,000 word draft of a novel this November, and other writers are using November as a generally inspiring kind of month. I'm a little inbetween...I could use the impetus to reignite a novel, but chances are I'll be swept up in Christmas activities with toddler-daughter.

Either end of the writing spectrum, there are a lot of additional words produced in the blogosphere and within beautiful notebooks over the upcoming 30 days.

So, when I read of this amazing offer from a super-talented bunch of published eauthors this morning, I thought the trickery had begun early.  One click on Amazon revealed my eyes weren't deceiving me, and I've just pre-ordered my set to arrive onto my Kindle on Monday.....for 77p in the UK!

I can't remember the last time I bought three of anything for less than 78p.

What am I writing about?

This fabulous offer, available for a limited time only: 

How to Market a Book - Joanna Penn (AKA The Creative Penn)
Write. Publish. Repeat. - Johnny B. Truant & Sean Platt AKA The Self-Publishing Podcast) and
Lets Get Digital - David Gaughran, who I've never heard of but am about to Google.

Buy all three books for one price (also available on Apple, Barnes and Noble (B&N) and Kobo: check with the authors for further details (I read the info on The Creative Penn's Facebook page, and David's blog)

Just look for the: The Indie Author Power Pack on your nearest ereader.

Chances are this could be a type of Kindle Countdown Deal, so only available at this price for a few days, but if you link up with the authors on Facebook/Twitter/whatever, by the time you've consumed these three goodies, there's bound to be another offer on the way....or you may just invest in their whole catalogues - entirely your choice as the Happy Reader you will no doubt be.

What was the last bargain you bought?

October Christmas Shopping

The beauty AdventCalendars have arrived, the October pay day as either just been or is on the way ... so we can officially start talking about Christmas shopping. 

Plymouth's Early Learning Centre was mad-busy on Saturday with parents taking advantage of half-term offers.  I picked up a world map wooden puzzle for toddler-daughter at half-price, and could have easily gone a little potty with a floor-keyboard and the huge train set she's drawn to. 

Instead of buying everything with a sale sticker on though, we came home and did a toy audit, and although most ended up in the loft, we have a few bags for Christmas donations in the community. 

And as toddler-daughter's toys are now in her room, or one storage basket downstairs, we saw our lounge floor for the first time in almost three years. 

Blogging connections

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

It's Friday night, and I've had a marvellous evening, wolfing Revels and connecting with other bloggers - there truly are some fantastic writers out there, sharing their lives, their injustices, their hopes and their anxieties.

I feel re-energised as a writer. 

Autumn Style Signifiers

Scrunching leaves underfoot with toddler-daughter, chasing the last of the dandelion clocks, I've waited patiently for the seasonal shift in the weather.

You know, when the last of the summer warmth clears off on holiday for a few months, the sunrise (when she appears) is near-blinding, and of course retail shelves jostle Halloween and Christmas goodies.

And proper Autumn is here at last, because this weekend I treated my toe nails to their first coating of Chanel's Rouge Noir, the polish glamorised by the iconic Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. This black/red colour reminds me of a lovely glass of red, too, and is the most-often worn from my collection throughout the rest of the year.

I had a rainy day in with toddler-daughter yesterday, playing with wooden beads for hours (lovely change from worrying about SPF), which of course means I can spend rainy nights in,

Here come the gifts for the girls

Just had to take a little break from editing to share some exciting beauty news, I hope you don't mind.

A friend shared on Facebook that she treated herself to the Selfridges Advent Calendar this morning....and it looks gorgeous!

Now, I spent an hour in Boots yesterday checking out their Christmas gifts (they've installed some lovely bookshelves to show off their gorgeous seasonal goodies; smart move - I already want to buy one of everything from Soap and Glory).  And I started wondering where their Advent Calendar was.

A quick Google later and this very helpful information from Cosmopolitan magazine turned up, alerting us girls to a plethora of beauty advent calendars available over the next few weeks.  When you've chosen the one you want, hunt it down, roping in family and friends if necessary....last year I couldn't make up my mind and spent a fruitless December trying to track down 25 mini goodies to see me through the festive season.  Apparently, October is the month to treat ourselves!

Benefit....available from 16th October
Selfridges....on sale now
Ciate....on sale now
Liberty....from November
Jo Malone....from 20th October (or, at £250 you could treat yourself to a 30ml and a holiday)
The Body Shop....8th October
No 7 .... 29th October (warning, link contains detailed product info from the Really Ree blog)
Elemis....available now
L'Occitane...3rd November

(above links updated 15th October 2014)

Check the Cosmo article for full details of locations.

I have my eye on Boots' No 7, unless a Lotto win turns up, in which case I'll interupt Mumsnet's Blogfest with a little hop to Regent Street for Liberty's feel gorgeous scrummies.

Which beauty calendar will see you through to the Christmas Eve sales?

Where the blog am I?

If you took a look at my current tri-planning system, calculating income streams for the next quarter, you'd have a proper giggle (perhaps).  (Tri-planning because I can't be the only one who uses a smartphone, a paper diary and random online documents to organise her life by). 

Dear Readers, I have not abandoned you, or style, or the world of blogging (ye Gods, no!), rather I've whooshed from publishing my first book, to upskilling my marketing skills, and landed smack bang in the middle of Book 2 AND the middle of September. 

Before we know it the Boots Christmas Gift Guide will be upon us and the queues will circumnavigate The Trafford Centre.

So, in the manner of a store temporarily altering the window display, I've my head stuck in my book for a few weeks, and then I'll be back, directing my lovely readers to all manner of retail, style, parenting and just flipping well gorgeous delights.

I especially have my eye on posting a Per Una review, once I've recovered from the shock that they actually have some fabulous dresses that suit my clean-lines-only fuctionality (take a peek next time you're in M&S to see what I'm on about). 

So, why not bare with me; how's your early Autumn treating you?  Are you inundated with blackberries and leaves as your children wonder at the change in seasons? Or are you panicking about where to hold your office Christmas shindig?  Answers in the comments box, merci.

Guest blog at Work from Home Wisdom

Hello, Lovelies

After self-publishing my scrumptious style guide, 119 Style Boosts from the Size15Stylist, I virtually-bumped into a fabulous website, Work from Home Wisdom, a gorgeous crock pot of advice and inspiration for home workers everywhere.  I wrote a guest blog for the site, offering insight into how I published through Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing programme - and who helped me along the way (grandparents and partner included).  Why not have a read?

Back to the matter of birthdays, August just passing and all.  To celebrate, I invested in a little art last month:

I most definitely squeeeeeed with delight when I spotted this beautiful DKNY Bryant Park purse, and knew I had to invest.  For more details, check out the House of Fraser link.  There also happens to be a bag available in this print, too ... it's never too early to think about Christmas Eve sales (it launched mid-August and didn't make it into the Bank Holiday sale; fingers crossed for a pre-Christmas discount).

Also made it up to Southampton and Bournemouth last weekend, for a spot of shopping in between air show displays and a Peppa Pig World visit.  Spent lots of time in Southampton's Ikea (bits crossed for an early 2015 Exeter Ikea opening) and Bournemouth's TK Maxx, where I found this gorgeous Fashion hardback book, charting the absolute history of fashion from way back then to 2012.

Now it's back to writing my second book, leaf-shuffling with toddler-daughter and checking out new stationer:y: how's your September treating you?

Letter to a new Mummy

You don't feel like reading about style now; you barely remember your own name and the last time you slept was several seasons ago. 

Style is an alien word, an alien world. You have no thoughts about anything other than, does the baby burp show up on this?

Style is something you had once, in those halcyon dating days, where you and your best girl friends knew each item on the shop floors.

And what drew the right kind of noise to your best assets.  Yes, you had assets.

And you wore shoes that you could stand up in for three minutes, but made your backside look terrific.  The blisters were early-Sunday-morning collateral damage.

Now you have a gorgeous baby in your arms, and you sleep-walk through your new routine (or non-routine; there is no right way).

This is your style, and it will be this way forever.  Well, you will throw a toddler over your shoulder and hug big kids, because your arms aren't made of titanium.  Maybe. 

One Day you will wear perfume again without fear of irritating your baby's new skin.

One Day you will wear necklaces again, and bracelets, without fear of injuring your new baby.

One Day you will find a pair of heels (or flats; there is no right way) that make you feel amazing.

One Day you will discover your assets again.

My One Day arrived a mere two years after my daughter was born, and now she rummages in my beauty bag while I dry her hair.

Your style is you.  

Carry on.  

Brilliant blog posts on

The week I become an official Author

It's been a very stylish weekend, what with my first book being uploaded onto Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing, and receiving actual sales.  From non-relatives and friends.

And so I simply had to take advantage of a (flipping well-timed) House of Fraser's bag (and shoe) sale by treating myself to a gorgeous DKNY document holder (55% discount!).

For all the drafts of my second book, you see.

In lime green and  mykinda* pink this beautiful accessory also doubles up as a clutch (not an accessory) - pretty handy for upcoming birthday celebrations.

Back to work this morning, however, with a six am start (think I'll reserve the five am geddups for the editing process).  I created my Author Pages on Amazon's UK and USA sites, which was more challenging than proofreading my first book.  What do you say about yourself, when you nestle amongst other authors?  FFS their sample biography was that of multi-award-winning Mr Frank McCourt! (Love his books, though).

Still, at least I had my trusty practical guides to assist me, from Sally Jenkins and Steve Scott - their KDP advice is utterly invaluable to anyone fascinated by the publishing revolution, whether writer or reader, and certainly made the process of uploading to Kindle less terrifying.

Going to head back to Word now to work on the blank page that is currently book two, attend a few networking meetings this week, write a few guest blog posts and then take a few days off to enjoy the end of August. 


*I have a rubbish camera phone, and it took me ages to get this shot so not taking another one of the inside -  but the pink is the same as my blog's pink and is tres flipping gorgeous.  This has now sold out on HoF's website, but they have a the same document holder in black, currently not on sale.


Are you ready?

My brand new, shiny, helpful style guide, is now available for your reading delight!

119 Style Boosts from the Size15Stylist

Written as a light style enhancer, this handy reference guide reminds readers to look after themselves as well as others. Top style essentials and five minute instant boosts to recharge with throughout our busy days.

What's your favourite tip from the book?

6 Hair necessities

I love my hair.  

This was not always a sentence I was comfortable saying - I had a perm right after I watched Dirty Dancing in 1987 and it took me twenty years to become happy with my hair again.

I now offset bad hair days against productivity (stay with me, this isn't a technical post) and realised that I should head to the salon each 6-8 weeks and consider this my vice, if necessary, to maintain this routine. The days of staring into the mirror, despairing over roots and frizz, because I was:
a) fed up of home-dying my shoulder-length mop, and
b) thought hair salons were expensive,  are lonnnnnnnnng gone. 

My first grey hairs showed through, my then-hairdresser announced, when I was 17.

Yes, not quite as romantic as Sinatra lyricises in It Was a Very Good Year.  Now, I'm friendly with dyes and after many colours, I chose to finally embrace my DNA by working blonde hair and black eyebrows, because:
a) I just don't suit dark hair and
b) wouldn't bleach my Cara Delevignes any more than I would wax my legs every again; Low Pain Threshold (LPT).

My hair, understandably, is a bit dry and a bit thick and a bit unmanageable at times.  Currently it's a bit shoulder-length.  But I have an amazing Hair Stylist who knows how to wield thinning scissors and does a cracking blow dry which lasts four days (love Dry Shampoo, too, Rosie Green, although I couldn't not wash my hair for two weeks, a la Red magazine; my hat off to you).

So, I dedicate this post to my 6 hair necessities:

1) If you don't yet have a Stylist, find the time to head to your local college or salon on their training nights. Not only will you receive a heavily-reduced cut/colour, you will pick up great tips. From these nights I have:
a) changed my career (from Administrator to Teacher, based on news of  course funding) and
b) discovered how to blow a dry which lasts 24 hours: patience is the key. I have a toddler-daughter, my hair patience has been non-existent since 2011.

2) Buy the best electrical appliances you can afford for your hair, whether you are attached to straighteners, tongs or hot style brushes. 

3) Invest in one or two good quality brushes to suit your hair shape.  Not sure which then make sure you have a good paddle brush if your hair is past jaw-length, and a good round bristle brush for pixie/short dos.  A Tangle Teezer will cost you a tenner, and works very well on my wet hair, meeting my LPT standards, although I bought a tangle attack from my local quid shop which is okay.  I have a wide-toothed comb which sorts out my knots and John Frieda's Frizz Ease, so until these go out of production I don't yet intend to invest in a Tangle Teezer, but a lot of readers swear by them.

4) You don't have to know hair terminology to find the right style for your face - a salon should offer you a free consultation before your appointment to talk lifestyles and hair maintenance. You can suggest celebrities whose hair you admire, or show pictures, but you don't have to know your feather from your layer, or blunt cut.

5) When you find a Hair Stylist who listens to you, look after them, and hopefully you'll enjoy a long relationship. Sometimes they move on, but a great person will drag you along, too. I have discovered a lot of Plymouth's hidden gems by following mine.

6) If you haven't discovered the Babyliss Big Hair, it will change your life once you do.  I can now rough dry my hair so it's about 20% damp (no exact calculations were used in the writing of this post) and then rotate this fabulous brush through my Simba-esque, shoulder length mane, to a perfect, bouncy, gorgeous, light, fat-free 'do, while I dream up blog posts work on my business.  It is literally The Best Hair Essential since the millenial GHD revolution.  I used the 50mm barrelled brush last night and my hair was still pretty good at 6am (will need a bit of a hand-fluff and head shake later this morning when I venture out of the door).

I received no products or money for this post, the views are entirely my own, and you can decide whether to transform your life or not by hearkening to my blog yak. 

What hair product do you swear by?

Waking up two hours before the family

For the last few days I've set my alarm to wake me up two hours earlier than usual. 

So instead of waking up at 7.40, blurry-eyed and blah, by my partner dressing for work and then my toddler-daughter needing a nappy change, I've been waking just after five.

Now, I'm really not a morning person, but I work from home and I have writing deadlines to meet and it's the summer (nursery's closed!) so I deduced the only way I'm going to be productive is before the day has really begun (by bath-time I'm only fit for reality TV on the sofa).

So far, I've been very busy-bee-like, enjoying a stress-free breakfast and a gentle start to my day, allowing my mind the opportunity to wake up as it was always meant to - with coffee and quiet and creativity.  If I can maintain this habit then I may even find time for a spot of stretching and exercise of a dawn morning.

I said may; Autumn and a 10 tog duvet are around the corner. 

But for the moment I'm writing and editing and researching as much as I ever did during an afternoon in an office (as I said, I'm not a morning person). I feel more relaxed during the evening, knowing that I don't have to rush upstairs to my computer to force some words out, because my work from home has been done.  So there's more time for housework drawing and colouring with toddler-daughter.

What's your productive time?

This early-morning writing malarky

This is day two of my challenge to wake at 5am,  before the house is awake, before toddler-daughter starts demanding Peppa Pig or Curious George. 

Yesterday I woke naturally at 4.50am, so that was fine (although by 10am I wasn't quite sure who the hell I was and by 3 I definitely needed a sit down).

Today, I woke at 4.30 and reset the alarm for an hour later. 

I'm following the advice of other, more published, writers out there, to crack on with my first ebook, which has a title change about every half an hour (procrastination, eh?).  I write alongside planning my marketing campaign (eh?) and eat my way through our snack box (don't look at me like that, I'm on a self-imposed deadline).

But it's now almost 8pm on day two of early geddups (and the toddler is still asleep I give thee) and I've stopped thinking clearly. 

Few more pencil squiggle edits on my paper draft and I'm off to the other sofa. 

This working from home malarky is almost as fun as the early-morning writing malarky.


A Canterbury Tale, and a Designer Outlet

Well, what a weekend I've had of it, and it's not even Saturday morning, yet! 

On Thursday I popped along the south of the UK to arrive in Ashford, home of friends, and a McArthur Glen Designer Outlet

But before I could mind my Gap, we headed to Canterbury today, and what a lovely city! Amongst the narrow alleyways and recognisable brand names, however, we happened upon the lovechild of Ikea and Paperchase: Tiger.

Remember the song from The Little Mermaid, where she's singing about whosits and whatsits and everybody's old favourite, thingummybob? 

We felt like that as we walked two laps, yes, two, of the store.  We oohed at and wanted everything we picked up, whether stationery, craft or home item. 

Choice, at a reasonable value, and sturdy products in a clean environment. 

Ah-mazing, said the Size15Stylist and her friend, over tea and cake and chicken salad.  Please be sure to check out your nearest Tiger store if you're heading to the south of England, Cardiff or Birmingham.  

The Designer Outlet was disappointing.  It seemed as if the stores were trying to take advantage of the fact that people will travel there to shop, and only discounted items that no one wanted, while keeping the goodies at around the price of their high street counterparts (Gap and M&S I'm looking at you).

The assistant in the Lindt shop was very helpful, however, and I'll waddle back to Plymouth with A Lot of Excellence chocolate.

Happy weekending, all.  And happy August - my double birthday month (the size15stylist blog will be 1 year old on 7th August!)

Would you like to be included in a stylish ebook?

Hello, Dear Readers

July has been rather zoomy, hasn't it?  Amongst all the day trips I've managed to squeeze in for toddler-daughter and family, I've almost finished editing my first ebook, Style Boosts for Busy Mums, yay! (And hence the blog hiatus).  So......

I would love to include any quick/essential tips you have on feeling good fast in Style Boosts for Busy Mums! 

Your tip can be absolutely anything, ideally around clothes ( incl. bags, accessories, jewellery), hair, beauty, home or travel style.  I'm not looking for product advertisement, but would very much value real tips from busy Mums (or Aunts/Carers/Dads),

I’ll have final edit but I will credit your tip in my ebook (usually name and location, possibly website if it's suitable)...and I’ll let you know which tips I use.  Feel free to ask your friends and families if they’d like to be included, too! 

Please feel free to add your tip as a comment to this post, or email me at:  

Thank you, and happy styling.

Free: two-hour consultation

To celebrate the summer, that traditional-down-time, I'm offering free two-hour consultations until 25th August 2014.

Yes, free.  

If you, or your business, would benefit from a workshop in any of these consultancy areas, email me for a free no-worries quote and to book your free two-hour consultation.

Are you in need of a new image or is your business in need of a restyle? Have you recently experienced a life-change that needs to reflect who you are? Do you wear the same clothes every week? I offer either online or one-to-one enhancement support.

Are you searching for that perfect outfit, or a perfect gift?  Perplexed by the available consumer choice? Looking to save money on your holiday shopping? I offer a chance to discuss your shopping requirements and narrow down your search; you have the final purchase decision. 

Would you benefit from the services of a qualified and experienced writer? Does your blog or business need inspiring content?  Would you rather leave written tasks to someone else, while you develop your own interests? 

Make your change.

Stylish Housework

What day of the week do you give up to housework?

When I worked full-time and had no children it used to be done over several evenings, normally before visitors; the weekend was for shopping and socialising.  Now I'm a WAHM it tends to be done on a Friday, because to do it on a Tuesday (or any other day of the week) would feel like we were missing out on adventures; the weekend is now family time (and once every six weeks hair/shopping time for me).  

Because I do work from home I don't spend too many hours with my head in the cleaning bin (although the early signs of age spots on the back of my hands could relate to the Lady Macbeth-esque washing that comes from growing a baby into a toddler).  My Dyson attachments only come out for sofa depths when there are too many shouts for lost items, otherwise there's no satisfactory-haul feeling.  It would be like only shopping for one shoe at a time.  This afternoon I've retrieved a magnetic zebra from a storybook that Mr S15S has been looking for for a few weeks.  I've stopped actively looking for missing things (I'll glance around a room from the sofa) - instead of precious hours on my knees peering into crevices, searching for an item that won't appear just because I'm after it, I could watch an Episodes or learn valuable international parenting skills from Supernanny. US. 

I think Friday became cleaning day during maternity leave when the grandparents came over in the evening so that Mr S15S and I could go on our supermarket date night.  As a shop-deprived mother with a new baby  I was a bit too scared to leave the house - What if she needs a nappy change? What if she has a meltdown I can't control? I used to think What Ifs stemmed from having children. 

I looked forward all day to our date and as we entered the shop, Mr S15S would hit the reduced aisles, and I headed straight for magazines, wondering what offers or insights I could use as a basis to justify throwing the copy (copies if it was a bad week) into the trolley.  I've learned to take out subscriptions to save money (to spend on makeup, home accessories and gorgeous puds aisles).  I've recently become a really wise Mummy  and suggested Mr S15S goes shopping on his own; two hours of me-time, plus cheaper at the check out.  Date nights are now spent in pubs, cinemas or restaurants. Imagine!

And because I am a free range human I can work in the city centre, in coffee shops or libraries, and fit my shopping in around my writing goals, or take toddler-daughter out for an adventure around the shops, now that I'm not such a scared new Mummy.

Well, the ironing calls....wonder what's on the telly?  

12 Books to Blog By: Books #5 & #6

Hello, Dear Reader

For a quick catch-up on my previous posts reviewing my 12 essential books for bloggers, please read these posts from the 19th May 2014 and 23rd May 2014.  Of course, even if you're not a blogger you're more than welcome to read my posts and these books.

Book #5 
Back to my story.  It's November 2013, and I'm still dissatisfied with employment - not the salary, but definitely the routine.  I work part-time in an office, and full-time as a Mum and Social Media Hound.  I am shattered and not capable of thinking ahead for two anymore.  As a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network (MBN) I happened upon the blog of writer Rosie Fiore, and her novel Wonder Women.

Book #5 of the Size15Stylist's 12 Essential Books for Bloggers

After a hectic Septober (the merging of September and October) period in work, I was ready for an escapist fiction read.

And these characters, of strong business women maintaining sanity and family alongside growing their skills, resoundingly clicked into place.

I have long advocated the combination of fiction and fact to tell powerful stories and here was mine: a character who established the perfect shops for Mums, written by a social media savvy writer.  Hello! Suddenly winter wasn't looking so dreary.

Had it not been for a Kindle introduction I would have perhaps only happened upon Fiore's book by way of my local bookshops or charity shops; ebooks are vital to writers and readers.  And I'm sure the technology is on it's way to recreate the smell of book collections; it's already available for Revlon nail polish

Book #6
The following month I discovered, through a Kindle recommendation,  Write. Publish. Repeat. from Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant:

The title sounded like the kind of formula I was attempting to follow.

And the can-do personalities behind the authors is embedded on each page.

Sean and Johnny are prolific writers, engaging people and all over this business called social media.  Johnny is also the author of the wickedly absurd and funny series, Fat Vampire.

Here was further evidence that writers could live life on their terms.

Find out next week how I really kick-started my independent 2014, with the assistance of books #7 and #8.