Wednesday, 12 October 2016


I almost wanted to name this post Save Plymouth from Itself.  

I've lived, worked and played in Plymouth for the last eight years; it's the only home my four year old has ever known. 

And what a frustrating place Plymouth can be for parents, during the rainy season.

If the weather's great we have the great outdoors to play in.  

But where's the shelter?

The National Marine Aquarium, a couple of soft-play areas, Drake Circus (under daughter's duress) The Life Centre, and some cafes with play areas, such as the fabulous Eva's World and the almighty House of Fraser, who can't even sort out their basic facilities such as bathrooms (HOW hot is their water?) and accessibility - the elevators and escalators are frequently out. And don't get me started on their automated doors at the Royal Parade entrance. 

And then there's the Reel Cinema.

That quirky haven for film-lovers, historians and frustrated parents. The cosy cinema that was so dark and inviting my 18 month old daughter fell asleep on me. The cinema I went along with my Mum and Mother-in-Law to see Jersey Boys, the cinema I go to on date nights with Mr S15S, for the latest Star Trek (his choice) or X-Men (my choice)The cinema where my 2, 3, 4 and soon to be 5 year old enjoys Christmas films and early weekend Kids' Club choices. 

But the cinema won't be around for much longer if developers have their way. 

According to the Plymouth Herald today, there are plans afoot to knock down the Reel cinema, formerly the ABC, formerly a place The Beatles, however briefly, hung out, and possibly Lorenzos - yes, the gorgeous Spanish Tapas Bar and Restaurant, where I've had many an evening, often combined with a Reel visit. It could be last call for the Gala Bingo, too.

What's going on, Plymouth? 

What are you trying to do to us parents? Us hard-working people who are fed up with the lack of family-friendly indoor facilities.

In a time when the city is gearing itself up to celebrate a 400 year monumental piece of history - with a country who prides itself on Lights, Camera, Action - in 2020, and during the current development of an actual History Centre, why is this tiny safe-space being targeted?   

Why can't the Art Deco building be preserved, as a beacon of hope, for all the creativity that this city inspires? 

So I'll be popping along to ask that question, in the Public Consultation, at The Theatre Royal's Pennon Room on Monday 17th October, sometime between 11am - 7pm, to air my views for the record

Would be smashing to hear you'd joined in to #SavePlymouthReel and save Plymouth from itself. 


Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Why the Boots Emporium is the ultimate personalised gift service

My local shopping centre, Drake Circus in Plymouth, celebrated their 10th birthday this weekend, which, was the perfect time to investigate the brand new, year-round, Emporium from Boots, at their Blogger party on Saturday. 

So, what’s an Emporium, you may ask? 

Apart from ahhh-mazing, this unique gifting experience is only available to around 300 Boots’ stores in the UK, and it will be available all year round, so not disappearing as soon as the Friday Star Gift  does.  There are plans to expand the service, too, depending on customer’s feedback and needs.

The shiny new section offers a showcasing, gift-boxing and engraving service for all customers.

It’s the ultimate in high street (or shopping centre) personalised gifting. 

Customers can now have almost any gift engraved (works particularly well on glass fragrance bottles, plastic make-up palettes, metallic lipsticks and some cardboard boxes)

And it will only cost you three shiny gold coins; £3.   

Yes, £3.

Any sized message, or initials, as long as it will fit on the product

One price per engraving, not per character or space-between-character.

There are a range of letter sizes to choose from, in one font, which will then be coloured in using black, silver, gold or white ink, depending upon the item’s lettering.  

Ideal for the person who thinks they have it all. 

We had a tour of the facility from the fabulous Hazel and Alice, and they are more than happy to advise on the technical details with customers – all you have to do is choose what you’d like to buy, and your message.  You can even bring in an item you have previously bought from Boots to be engraved - just show the receipt to the engravers and away you go.
There are some handy examples and images dotted around the Emporium to offer inspiration.

It only takes a few minutes for the machine to etch the letters on your gift – if, like me, you’re a bit of a haul-shopper, you may be chatting with Hazel and Alice for a little while longer.
You could have a cosmetic personalised with your favourite photo and a free engraving on the metallic tag on the back - which will take around 9 days.  

The gift box service offers two colours (pink or grey) in small (£4) medium (£5) and large (£6).  Ribbon is on the way to the Drake Circus branch, either plain or personalised, ranging also from £4 - £6. 

I also had a chat from the lovely Elaine, an independent advisor for Boots’ new Beautiful You service, which launched last month, to support your specific skincare needs.  As she’s not attached to one brand in particular, you'll hear about the most suitable products for your skin, based on a quick skincare analysis.

So, pretty much this year you’ll have to find another excuse not to find the perfect gift for your loved ones!

And I might have to ask Santa for a set of Size15Stylist engraved, hot pink, make up brushes from Real Technique this year. A girl can never have too many brushes....and it’s a perfect hygge opportunity to practice my sewing sklls and have a go at making a cute make-up brush roll!

What messages will you gift to your darlings this year?

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Ten ways to hygge through to Christmas (and beyond)

Have you heard of hygge? I hadn't until last year, and pronunciation varies, dependent on the scandi tongue; I find the easiest to say is 'hue-gah'. 

Maybe, like me, (a massive fan of Autumn and Winter) you've probably practised this unique aspect of Danish mindfulness and well-being, without ever knowing. Think candles, cosiness and quality time, as the Danes (and the rest of the northern hemisphere) prepare for colder weather and shorter days.

As children, my Sister and I used to love the darker days on the approach to Winter (er, Christmas).  We loved winter-proofing our house: we'd push comical sausage-dog draft excluders to the bottom of the doors, take pleasure in drawing the curtains closed in every room, switch on lamps, bring out blankets and cushions to curl up under on the sofa, to watch our favourite films. Mini Stylist loves closing the curtains in each room, too. From tomorrow we'll have Film Friday on the run through the next couple of seasons - post-school sofa crash with popcorn and a movie; hygge heaven.

As an adult I was lucky enough to live in southern China for a couple of years, but it was too close to the equator, and when the sun went down in about five minutes, every single day of every year ... well, by November I found myself longing for shorter days and the obvious seasonal changes (oh, the giddyness of collecting spinning jennies and conkers on the school walk with Mini Stylist!) . . . 

Hygge, see?  

So, how do I hygge October (and right on through to Easter)? 

1.  Appreciate knitwear. To wear, to cosy under, to wrap around your feet.  If I could hibernate, my cave would be made of wool. And house a lot of cushions.

2.  Dim the lights.  Candles or low-lighting, whichever releases your inner twirl.  I decorate my home with Yankee Candles, but use soft-lighting as soon as the curtains close. 

3. Skin rejuvenation. Deep moisturising, deep conditioning, deep sleeping. All my skincare minis are stored in this gorgeous wooden box near my bed; handy, eh? No, hygge. 

4.  Wooden boxes. And baskets, but especially boxes. I've no idea why, but I appreciate a good quality small box to store anything in, but usually stationery, mini beauty goodies and craft supplies. 

5.  Crafting. I love crafting, but really indulge at this time of year.  Amateur at all levels, but fabulously enthusiastic for the simple pleasures I find in fabric, felt, craft magazines, wooden stamps, and oodles of wool.  Great chance to catch up with friends over coffee (or pots of tea) and share crafting tips/obsessions in the pre-school run hours.  

6.  Work from home. I'm fortunate that I work from home once or twice a week, so I surround myself with more hygge-inducing goodness that I could if I was in, say, an office or classroom.  As my work station is normally my bed, this means cushions, blankets, and lots of coffee.

7.  The right mug.  Some mugs are better suited for coffee, others for tea.  Only occasionally will a mug will work for either (thanks, Emma Bridgewater).  Mug-selection is more important than Mr S15S some people realise. I'm at my most settled when I have the right mug in my hand. 

8.  A weekly daytime nap. Okay, I know more people do this than they will acknowledge, so I'm just going to say it. I'm a busy working Mum and I'd like a weekly, if not daily, daytime nap. I'd rather close my eyes in a room of quiet than listen to more bad news on the radio, or another mind-numbing TV show.  So, once a month or so, I draw the curtains, curl under a blanket and lie down on my 'desk'- the bed - for a quick 40 winks. 

9.  Fountain pens.  I love a good quill; the slight scratch and easy flow across a clean notebook page is harmony to my senses.  Maybe they remind me of school, and the safety of childhood.  The budget ones are better than higher-end brands; far less ink to erase from your fingers.  And we can now buy pink ink! 

10. Walking my daughter to school. Crunching leaves, guessing the age of tree trunks, spotting pine cones and spikey conkers and naming trees, as the seasons merge from late summer to Christmas, the smell of winter on her way. And all the crafting the season brings! 

What's not to love?

 What hygge steps will you take today? 

Saturday, 13 August 2016

5 ways to wear yourself fabulous on fat days

I'm about to have one of *those* days, where body parts just feel ... ripe. You know what I mean?

Body sensitive is an understatement. 

Nothing will fit quite right, my temperature will increase just  e v e r  so slightly, but I'll feel like I'm in a volcano, and I'll wish my belly button was actually a valve that I could loosen to release the bloated fatness. And my ankles will disappear.

So, how do I get through those fun-filled 24 hours, assuming I can't hide under the duvet? 

1. Leggings and a loose dress.

Dress + Leggings = Happy Size15Stylist

These two items are my standard wardrobe attire, and I have a lot of both, but they ensure my shoutiness is reigned in. Most of the time. Loose and simple is the key. But you don't have to wear the LD combo, there are some gorgeous loungewear options out there; think relaxed jersey and snuggly cashmere cardigans against moda camis and t-shirts.  Yum! If you have to wear a uniform, why not order a size bigger for these special occasions?

2. Choose your underwear carefully. 
No pokey wires or annoying trims. Go big (knickers; ensure you have had a bra fitting recently) or go home. Or to bed if you're already home. Hell, go braless if you can. However there are a gorgeous range of seamless, unpadded bras available in most stores, that almost make fat days fun.  Well, they allow room for the chocolate eating by not digging into your stomach at the end of the day.

3. Think! Feet!

When body, and outside, temperatures increase, things start to swell and sway.  Ditch the heels and flip-flop, ballet-flat or sneaker your way through the day, whatever you're most comfy in. This is why it's handy to buy the prettiest flat shoes that you can afford.

4.  Bag. 

Great news - any bag can make you feel fabulous, every day.  Just fill it with the necessaries: water, chocolate, sunnies (to block out the world), headphones (to block out the noise of the world); pain relief pills and spare leggings if necessary. 

Karen Millen SS2015

5. Wear fabulous your way. 
Look, your body is fantastic, take a peek at what it can actually do! Mini Stylist is absolutely fascinated with just breathing at the moment, never mind all the running, jumping, walking, sitting and lying down we can do.  

Indulge the bloat and then enjoy the upcoming skinny days. 

How do you wear fabulous? Why not share your tips in the comments box below?!

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