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.

Back to Black

For a while now I've sort of pushed black clothes to the side of my wardrobe, in favour of 'something brighter', or a flattering navy.  Do you know what I mean? I've been misled to believe that wardrobes should not carry a lot of black clothes, because seemingly they're so uninspiring. 

Yet I've rediscovered three staple dresses lurking in my wardrobe (well, the right is a recent H&M t-shirt basics acquisition £7.99) that have served me well over the last few weeks. So this summer I'm chuffing well going to embrace black.  2014
The maxi dress on the left is a comforting (and very stylish) jersey which I picked up in TK Maxx two years ago (around £20) and the centre dress is a great buy I picked up in China when I worked there a long time ago. Flattering v-neck and leg length, and can be dressed up or down.  On colder days I'll wear leggings (black) and either a black or coloured cardigan, depending on bag and footwear and what's not in the laundry basket.

I also wear black non-dresses, too.

H&M stock a fab cotton top (£3 in a recent sale) that's light enough not to require constant ironing (if you hang to dry), which teams perfectly with some 3/4 length linen-mix trousers (which definitely do need an iron) which I picked up in George last year (around £10).

And what does an all-black wardrobe need?
Why, lots of pretty shoes! From left to right: Gap flipflops (around £5 last year), M&S wedges in Tan (£35, but they are Footgloove) Primark peep-toe in teal (£5) Anne Klein leopard print flats (last January sale, around £20), Primark peep-toe flat in red (£5) Kaleidoscope Raspberry mock-crock heels (£25).  
And when I'm networking and shopping this year I'll be swishing my faithful black grab bag from Oasis (£18 in a late January sale), and I'll store this absolute bargain holiday-esque shopper from Poundland because it sits very comfortably on my shoulders, AND holds a lot of purchases.

And of course, no summer black wardrobe would be complete without my Lipsy sunnies!

Size15Stylist 2014

What wardrobe essentials are you relying on this summer?

Birmingham or Manchester: shop-off

Back safely at my desk (the sofa) so let's pick up the story.  What did I learn from my double-city shopping break?  

Wardrobe Coordination 
As a busy mum packing for a working weekend trip (shopping in between traveling, concerts and writing) I only had a few minutes to pack for three nights and four days: 2 black dresses, 4 pairs of black leggings, 1 white Breton top (changing up a dress to a top/skirt combo) and 1 pair of stretchy black pants for the breakfast runs (paired with the Breton T) for a series of together-looks. Chuck in a jewellery bag to dress up or down whether I was at a concert or shop, and add a couple of cardigans (hot pink and red) to the capsule.

More choice
Back to the shopping - as well as the Revlon nail polish I turned up a lime-flavour Carmex lip balm in Manchester.  Nothing says summer like zingy sensations!  

Lime Carmex

Big cities mean more consumer choice, no matter what stores are available. 

If I only have 15 minutes to shop then I will still hit the bags section of the nearest department store (the Bullring's TK Maxx), and perhaps it's because I know Manchester's cobbled streets so well that my choices are closer, but Birmingham's sprawl of shops meant I never made it to The Mailbox on this trip.  Thanks to fellow blogger Kate on Thin Ice's Birmingham: A Shopper's Paradise post  I grouped my shopping around the New Street/Burlington/Piccadilly areas. 

Lots of metallic sandals and coloured pointed-toe flats around both Manchester and Birmingham (and of course Converse and New Balance), but what I really missed were my Croc flipflops, which I've worn A Lot since being pregnant and in the two years since - comfy and great for running around after a toddler.  
They would have tackled cobbles (Manchester) and hills (Birmingham). At least in Manchester there was a free city centre bus to connect me from Deansgate to The Arndale (Birmingham City Council take note).

In the end it is all about consumer choice.  Birmingham offers geographical accessibility for more shoppers in the UK, and once Grand Central is open I’ll pay another visit, if not sooner. 

But I know Manchester’s side streets and short cuts and the textile history backdrop so well that walking distance between ALS (A Lister Stores) and HS (High Steet) seems much shorter and I’ll never say no to a trip up there, even if it means I have to stay overnight to fit in The Trafford Centre (which offers a Muji, currently on Birmingham's New Street) and a John Lewis (soon to open in Birmingham City Centre). 

Size15Stylist 2014

Where do you like to shop?   

Double-City Shopping Break

I consider Manchester my spiritual home (walking access to Selfridges, Harvey Nicks, DKNY, Gap and Primark) and one of the finest shopping cities in the world.....if the city extended their opening hours in line with the Asian closing times of 10pm it would be an international competitor.  But that discussion is for another post.

This weekend I also popped along to Birmingham, however, and spent some real time in the city, so here's the first post of my response to the question:

Which is the UK's real second city? 

I arrived in Birmingham, briefly, on a Thursday, as it was cheaper to break my train journey here for a couple of hours rather than continue on to my final destination (yes, cheaper if you don't take into account shopping).And what a difference a few years makes, since I used to regularly pass through Birmingham New Street....the former, dank, station has had a bit of a shopping face lift (Manchester City Council take note)

Clear signs guide passengers to the Bullring and Selfridges, if they so wish to visit, and out into daylight if they prefer to walk in the sunshine....I'm a bit of a disaster at leaving stations (airports, buses or trains) so a covered walkway literally taking me to the shops? (Manchester City Council, take note). 

Quick shopping sojourn over I carried on my journey, which saw me in Manchester on Friday night for a New Kids on the Block concert (in between a bit of shopping and Hilton hoteling).

I know the layout of Manchester's shops Very Well, which meant I could discover new products, like Revlon's Parfumerie nail polish - technology has improved the stink of nail polish! This really does smell like Pineapple for a day or so.  The Espresso and Chocolate options are on my wish list.

I read about this polish in a magazine a few months ago, but when my local Boots eventually stocked this, choices of colours and pleasant fragrances were limited (Plymouth retailers take note). 

I also rediscovered New Balance and am lusting after a pair of their hot pink and green trainers (Birthday present?).

Now, I have 10 minutes to tidy up this Birmingham hotel room before chucking out time, so will share the rest of my weekend's double-city shopping expedition shortly.