shopping

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All I Want For Christmas Is You, And A Few Other BitsMariah was right, there is just one thing I need. But I already have a wonderful husband, so I wouldn't mind a few other bits. So, I thought I would put together a gift list that any lady would love, with items that you wouldn't find on the high street. Yes, I love the Great British High Street. But small independent shops are pretty great too.
All I Want For Christmas Is You, And A Few Other Bits

I have been following Black and Sigi on Instagram for a few weeks and just love their handmade jewellery. The company is run by two sisters (Clio and Athena), born in Italy but who live in the UK. Their jewellery is contemporary yet timeless. There are so many pieces that I love but my favourites are the No. 5 Darling ring (shown, £25) and the Gold Juno Necklace (£37.50).

I love a handbag. I mean, I really love them. So I had to share another Instagram find. Vevian started making unique shoes for her daughter, but they received so much attention that she started a business making shoes for children. We're talking beautiful, and cool, leather shoes. But she has started making handbags. And they are so gorgeous. And I desperately want one. They are only sold in Carry My Home, in London. But soon, they will be on the Vevian website. Soon. Oh, the gold one. *swoons*

All I Want For Christmas Is You, And A Few Other Bits

All I Want For Christmas Is You, And A Few Other BitsEtsy used to be a major addiction for me. These days I hop on sporadically looking for something special, though usually nothing in particular. I came across Loully Makes recently, which is based out of Edinburgh. I wouldn't normally consider paying £40 for a scarf, but this one is so unique. Scottish tartan on one side, Liberty print on the reverse. Just beautiful.
All I Want For Christmas Is You, And A Few Other BitsYou know how some gift baskets are filled with lots of crap? Well, Steph from Don't Buy Her Flowers is all about the thoughtful when it comes to presents for the lovely ladies in your life. I am currently eyeing up the Some Like It Hot package (£21.50). Steph has some other gifts that are more luxurious (think cocoa butter, cashmere socks and gin, yes gin!). But I'm a simple gal. I dream of hot tea and yummy biscuits. Hmm, tea. Gotta go, I need a cup right now.

 

 

Finishing My Christmas Shopping

A minute ago I was complaining about Christmas decorations out in October. But now, it is only two and a half weeks until Christmas. Eek! If you're anything like me, you haven't even bought half of your Christmas gifts yet. But worry not, because we will not be shopping on Christmas Eve in a blind panic (again!). This week we're going to buy the remaining gifts and then we can spend next week eating baking cookies. Are you with me?!

Here's a Christmas guide that will help with the rest of your Christmas shopping too.

Finishing My Christmas ShoppingMinions Domino Run (£7) - Perfect for any Minion lovers out there. If you have a child between the ages of 5-12 in your family, then this would make a fab gift. But let's face it, many of the adults will be dying to 'help' the kids set up the domino run. Not only is it a fun activity, but it is one the whole family can get involved in.

 

Finishing My Christmas ShoppingMy Fairy Musical Box (£7) - Not only does every little child love a box in which to put in their treasures, but a musical box is always a winner. My seven-year old daughter has a similar box and my three-year old son is so jealous of it. This fairy musical box would make his day (if only they made Darth Vader music boxes!!).

 

Finishing My Christmas ShoppingStar Wars 2016 Calendar (£6) - Have I mentioned that my son adores the Star Wars films? Although he is too young for a calendar, this would make a great gift for an older fan of the franchise. The newest film, The Force Awakens, is out on the 17th December, so this would make a timely present.

 

Finishing My Christmas ShoppingDeluxe Board Game Set (£14.99) - A lovely wooden set for chess, draughts and backgammon. Perfect for your games-loving cousin or uncle//a. And it could add to your Christmas party if it gets a bit dull. Who doesn't love a lively game of backgammon?!

 

Finishing My Christmas ShoppingFather Christmas Comes Up Trumps! (£1.99) - We already have Father Christmas Needs A Wee by Nicholas Allan, and my children love it. This book follows Father Christmas as he tries to deliver presents but his tummy is rumbling and he's trying not to do any trumps. I will definitely be getting this for my son's Christmas Eve box. It will make him giggle.

 

Finishing My Christmas ShoppingStacking Tower Wooden Toy (£5) - If there are any toddlers that you need to buy for, then this would make a lovely gift. It's great for hand-eye coordination and problem solving, plus it's fun. And it's a bargain.

 

Finishing My Christmas ShoppingGame of Thrones Colouring Book (£7) - Adult colouring books are all the rage these days. And while it is relaxing to colour in some doodles and flowers, how about colouring in battles and fights (as well as flowers and some pretty dresses)? This would make any fan of Game of Thrones very happy.

 

Finishing My Christmas ShoppingOriental Storage Suitcases (£7) - A pretty, and practical, gift for a little or big lady in your life. It would look nice on a desk to tidy away papers and receipts, but I think these would work well in my daughter's room. She could use one for Shopkins, one for hair things and another for bits and bobs. The suitcases would also be a lovely way to package a gift instead of traditional wrapping paper or a gift bag.

 

Finishing My Christmas ShoppingCaptain Underpants box set (£12) - You get 10 of these fantastically funny books for a great price. Moozles has been reading these books from her school library and absolutely loves them. Great books to encourage children to read independently but to also enjoy reading.

 

So, there you go. I have, hopefully, helped you find the last few bits of your Christmas shopping. Now bring on those cookies! Merry Christmas!

 

 

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Shopping in London

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping in London. Now that I live in the South West London/Surrey borders, I do most of my shopping in Kingston Upon Thames. But sometimes I go into Central London, Wimbledon or Richmond, just to mix things up. A couple of weeks ago I was invited for a day at Croydon Centrale. I wouldn't normally go to that part of Greater London, as it seems like it would be a long way away. But I found out that I can get there within 30 minutes on a train or tram from Wimbledon. So I grabbed the kids for my first solo train journey (without Husband).

Centrale is very nice and modern, but it isn't a huge shopping centre. This actually makes shopping easier when you have young children (you won't have a 10-minute walk to the toilets). Centrale does have my two favourite shops - H&M and Zara. And it has my daughter's favourite shop - Build A Bear. Dubz was not keen when I told him he would get to make a bear. Then he saw that they had a dinosaur. Oh happy days. Dubz was excited to see the Star Wars collection of bears, but dinosaurs remain his number one love. Moozles picked the most economical bear, and I was pleasantly surprised that you could buy and build a bear for just £10.

After happily making a bear and a dinosaur, we went to Gelatos for paninis and ice cream. We then got a tour of Hello Gorgeous, where besides beauty treatments they do family makeovers and photoshoots. So cute. After we said goodbye to the other bloggers, I took the kids to H&M. Moozles has had a major growth spurt this summer and I've had to throw away half the contents of her wardrobe. I'm planning to return to Centrale this weekend, but this time without the kids. I fancy new boots from House of Fraser and maybe a facial from Hello Gorgeous. Shopping in London is even better without the kids. 😉

Shopping in London Shopping in London Shopping in LondonShopping in LondonShopping in London Shopping in London

 

We were invited to experience 'Build A Bear', 'Gelatos' and 'Hello Gorgeous' by Centrale for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

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Shopping with Kids

Shopping with KidsOkay, shopping with young children isn't the most fun and carefree thing in the world. But it's not the worst thing ever. And it can actually be fun, if you are prepared. During the half-term, Husband and I took our kids to Westfield Stratford City for some afternoon shopping. And we had a great time.

Here are some of the things that made our shopping experience enjoyable.

1. Silly Games - You know that game you play in the car, where the winner spots a certain coloured car first? Well, we do this shopping. We see who is the first to spot someone wearing plaits, or red shoes, or a hat, and also who can find a shoe shop, book store, etc. The beauty of this game is that you can play it for ages and young children love it. You could even offer a prize - a sweet treat, a new book. Maybe even something you were planning to buy for your child anyway. Ooh, wow, new socks!

2. Pack Snacks - Like any day out, your child will want to eat constantly, and you won't want to have lunch at 10.30am. Pack snacks that can be eaten while walking or in the buggy, and that won't make a huge mess (or smell) so that the other shoppers shoot you evil looks. Think raisins and Babybels rather than jam sandwiches or hard-boiled eggs.

Shopping with Kids3. Let Them Play - Children can only handle so much waiting around time while you try on 12 different pairs of skinny jeans. Fact. We were so pleased to find that Westfield Stratford City had play areas. After shopping and dinner, Husband remembered he needed to buy new trousers. Rather than dragging the kids to another shop, I took them to the play area while Husband went shopping. The kids had fun and Husband had peace and quiet for 10 minutes. And I got to see what was happening on instagram using Westfield's free WIFI.

Shopping with Kids4. Be Organised - You don't want to spend half of your time at the shopping centre wandering around looking for your favourite shops. As we had never been to Westfield Stratford before, I downloaded the free app. It had maps and store information. And as we went on the Bank Holiday Monday, I was able to quickly check to find out that it was open until 9pm (wow!). It also has a parking section that is pretty cool. When parking, you can note down where you have parked. But if you forget to do that, you can put in your license plat number and it will tell you where you have parked. Genius!

I think it helps if you shop somewhere child-friendly, although that isn't always easy. One thing that really impressed me about Westfield is their Parent Rooms. Besides plenty of room for changing nappies, comfy chairs for breastfeeding (and privacy) and child-sized toilets, they also have play areas and televisions in case your child just needs a break from the shopping.

So, do you go shopping with your kids very often? Have you been to any of the Westfield shopping centres? What are your tips for shopping without any meltdowns?

 

 

 

We were given a gift card for Westfield Stratford for the purpose of this post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

 

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You know how it's almost Christmas, and I should be buying presents for all the people I care about? Well, I'm more than halfway done. But sometimes I get distracted. And then I get myself a present. Accidentally. Although, if you get something for the house, then it's a gift for the entire family. Technically.

Christmas shopping for me

Case in point, these cheetah bookends. I mean, come on! How gorgeous are these?! I am slowly (VERY SLOWLY, according to Husband) decorating our home, which we are in the process of renovating. And I thought these ceramic bookends were so gorgeous and stylish. But they look even more amazing in real life. I found them on StreetHub, which is is an online retailer that feature loads of independent shops. So instead of going to several shops looking for that unique item, you can look online.

The bookends are from Rigby & Mac in East Dulwich.  I do not have the time, or inclination, to drive around London and scour eBay looking for bookends, so I'm pleased to have found this website. I visit charity shops and vintage fairs, but sometimes it is so frustrating spending so much time shopping without finding the item you want. Where do you shop for your home? Where do you source unique items from?

Christmas shopping for me Christmas shopping for me

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When I told Husband that I was going to see a personal shopper, his reply was 'She has her work cut out for her'. I had no snappy comeback because, for once, he was right. I am such a pernickety shopper. With a six-year old and a two-year old, I don't have time to go to shops and try things on. But I love a bit of retail therapy. So normally I buy things from the internet (on which I spend hours), and for every 20 items I buy, maybe one item gets to call my wardrobe home. This means that I waste a lot of time at the post office or doing Collect+.
 
As I need a new outfit for Britmums Live (which is in two weeks--woohoo), I thought I would try a new approach to clothes shopping. John Lewis offer a complimentary, one hour 'express' session of their Personal Styling Service to help find a particular/special outfit. They also offer a complimentary two-hour service if your wardrobe needs updating. I went to the John Lewis in Kingston on Sunday and was greeted by a amiable personal shopped named Alison. I told Alison what I was looking for, my dress and shoes sizes, and we discussed flattering colours. While I relaxed in the comfy styling suite enjoying some water and a magazine, Alison went to get me some possible outfits.
 
I am looking for a dress that looks nice with or without leggings. Something not too short that suits either trainers/sneakers or sandals. I need something that can be dressed up or down as I spend most of my time on Mummy Duty and don't normally go out more than once or twice a month. One of my issues is that I gained three stone (42 pounds) when I was pregnant with Dubz. He is now two years old and those three stone stubbornly remain. My shape is different than what it used to be and I am still adjusting to dressing a big tummy.
 
I tried on about eight or nine tunic dresses and dresses, two pairs of shoes and a necklace. Alison introduced me to a couple of brands I had never heard of, including Mint Velvet. Unfortunately for me, Mint Velvet seems to be flying off the shelves and they didn't have a lot of the type of dresses I like in my size, in the shop or online (I am wearing Mint Velvet in the last pic). In the end, I was torn by two tunic dresses. But I have decided to keep looking. There was no pressure to buy anything that day, which is the kind of service I have come to expect from John Lewis. I have since spent a couple more hours looking for the right outfit. After all, I still have two weeks.
Please note that I was not paid for this review. All opinions expressed are completely my own. I just really like shopping at John Lewis.
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