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!