TK Maxx Shopping

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TK Maxx arrived in Australia in late April 2017 after buying out Trade Secret. Slowly the 35 Trade Secret stores have been rebranding across to TK Maxx and there are now stores in NSW, VIC, ACT and QLD. When visiting Oahu in 2013 I was lucky enough to visit the US version of this store – they are known as TJ Maxx over there. We got some seriously discounted Samsonite luggage and I found a gorgeous dress there.

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Shopping at TK Maxx is not for the faint of heart. It is not the kind of place you can go into for a quick visit. You need to have time on your hands – plus a heck of a lot of patience – to wade through the racks of fashion. Almost everything is jumbled together into “sizes” but you cannot always rely that the other shoppers have put back items into the correct place. They also do have some areas where identical items which they have in a quantity and variety of sizes of that same item are placed.

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On my first visit to our “local” store, I had a goal in mind which was to find some warmer leggings to wear around the house. I was surprised to find workout leggings with a thin fleecy inside layer and they have done the job perfectly. I also ended up with a couple of scarves and a gorgeous sparkly sequinned beanie.

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There is usually some Michael Kors to be found, but the way TK Maxx buys you can never be sure what is going to arrive in the store. I have seen all kinds of brands there in my three visits so far and many of the brands are ones I did not know before but on research they are popular brands in both the US and UK – with the brands I know being things like Christian Siriano, French Connection, Rag and Bone, Cynthia Rowley and I even spotted the occasional Australian brand like Philosophy. At the moment there seems to be a large amount of Ivanka Trump and I expect we will see more of it as less and less people are buying that brand worldwide.

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However ladies clothes and shoes are not the only thing to be found at TK Maxx. They also have kids and mens shoes and clothing. They have a great section of socks and underwear. They have a beauty section with marked down hand wash, creams, soaps, etc. They have plenty of accessories – everything from scarves and beanies to handbags to luggage and travel accessories. They have a range of food items, candles, reed diffusers, picture frames, bedding, scatter cushions and even some furniture items.

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I loved that green plush velvet bench there. It is my Mother’s favourite colour and if it is there on a return visit I may have to seriously consider buying it for her.

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On my first trip here they had some chromed feet statues on marble bases. I thought they were kinda cool and funky and had never seen anything like it before. I did initially mock them somewhat but they grew on me and I did consider buying them. On the way there for my second visit I said if they were still there I was going to seriously consider them but of course they were all gone.

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I thought about this smoky grey crystal candle holder. The photo does not do it justice at all and it is quite large which you don’t really get from the photo either.. I also found this bathroom set below to be pretty funky and very reasonably priced considering it is four pieces. Especially when the only other example I can find on the web is selling for $130USD+ on Ebay.

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As it says on the wall in one of the shots above – if you love it grab it now, once it’s gone it’s gone. I had hoped to pick up some more of the Kyodan herringbone running leggings I found but they were all completely gone. I was not surprised because they are amazing and can double as “normal” leggings.

I love visiting TK Maxx and browsing through the racks but it is a good hours drive away. Thankfully we love to drive in the new car enjoying the music, plus it is near to friends who just built a house, so The Other Half can drop me to wander while he goes and “helps”. I envision trips at least once a month. However I will not always be buying anything – I came home empty handed on my most recent trip.

shopping

The Berry Markets

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Berry 1896

There are exciting times ahead for the little town of Berry on the South Coast of NSW. The Princes Highway has run right through the centre of town for over a hundred years now, making this section of the highway a slow and tiresome part of the journey to the South Coast and making life dangerous for the tourists who visit and cross the highway without a pedestrian crossing or set of traffic lights.

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Soon, the Berry Bypass will open which will remove much of the passing traffic – a lot of that being large trucks – from the heart of this gorgeous town, leaving the traffic of those who actually want to visit Berry. This coming Sunday people will have the opportunity to walk the new bridge.berryloop2
You could catch the train down from Sydney if you wanted to do this walk – there will be a shuttle bus taking people from the station to the new bridge.
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The new bypass might not make a great deal of difference to the busy-ness of Berry on the first Sunday of each month, though – with the one exception of February.
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The Berry Markets are held at the Berry Showgrounds that day – depending on weather, they are sometimes cancelled if it is too wet underfoot – which is just a short walk from the main street and also a short walk from the train station which makes it easy for people to visit from Sydney. If the weather is good you can expect many people to descend, all decked out in their Berry appropriate outfits.

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You may see a lot of dogs. You know that saying every man and his dog was there, this is almost true at the Berry Markets. There are so many dogs, they get a cupcake stall. Sounds delicious!

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Big dogs, medium dogs, small dogs, all of them will be on the leash which I deeply appreciate.

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There is quite a range of things for sale at the Berry Markets. Everything from $300 real rabbit fur ponchos to plants and local produce to locally made jams and chutneys to glass paperweights.

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I suggest you bring a tote bag to place your purchases into. Depending on the time of year, in winter I recommend a beanie, scarf and gloves, and in summer you should bring sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat or baseball cap.

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There is also quite a range of food available, from locally made sausage rolls with gorgeous relish to corn on the cob to gozleme to Shanghai dumplings.
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The dumplings are awesome, FYI. But as the sign says, beware the hot soup inside!

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My personal must buy items from these markets are Lemon Myrtle moisturiser and Wasabi and Seaweed macadamia nuts from Batemans Bay Nut Roasting Company. But you can try all the flavours of nuts so don’t just take my word for it, pick the ones you like the best. The salt and vinegar ones are pretty awesome too.
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And when you are done at the markets, you can grab a gelato from Il Locale and then explore the town itself which I personally believe is one of the best shopping towns in Australia. And I have been shopping at a lot of places in Australia. You can buy everything from coffee mugs for less than $5 right up to $400+ reindeer furs.
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Yes that building is in the photo from 1896 – many of the buildings in that photo are still alive and well today. Berry might be able to get creative now with events held in the main street, something which they could not do without closing the highway in the past. I certainly hope they will and I am excited to see what will be possible once they open the bypass.

Berry, shopping

A Quick Canberra Trip

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A small interruption to the Movie Catch Up files – it has been nearly a month since our Canberra visit and I have not managed to tell you about it yet! We left home super early on a Sunday morning to make it over to Canberra before lunchtime. canb2a
Canberra put on some gorgeous weather for us but it was very cold. Our plan was to visit the Old Bus Depot Markets, IKEA, Costco and the Canberra Outlet Centre. When we arrived at the markets it was 11:30am which is peak market time and the carparks were absolutely packed. We decided to head to the outlet centre instead of driving in circles trying to find a park and drop back into the markets later if we had time.

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TK Maxx has opened at Canberra Outlet Centre and that happened to be the first shop we visited. I’d gone to the American version of this store on Oahu and loved it. However this is not a place you can just quickly drop in and visit. You need to allocate some time to flick through the racks and find the bargains.

As my main shopping task for Canberra was to find a pair of winter boots, I did not have the kind of time needed for TK Maxx today so we just had a quick look around. These sneakers were $600 or so and as much as I would love some crystals on my feet, I said heck no to that! ;) They have such a range of items at all kinds of prices. I took a leisurely trip to the Warrawong store the following weekend where I spent 2.5 hours browsing, but that is a story for another blog post.
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There is now a Coffee Club at the Canberra Outlet Centre – we find the food to be reliable and tasty and the coffee is very good here. I had the smashed avo with feta just like a proper hipster doofus.

The official population of Canberra is less than 400,000 people and these lucky people have access to some of the best and least crowded shopping in Australia. They also have access to a lot of other great things – museums, a great zoo, gardens and nature reserves, and some of the best roads with decent speed limits in the country. It is a fairly short drive for us – around two and a half hours – and we have often gone for a day trip before but this time we chose to stay overnight.
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We chose Grill’d for dinner as it was a short but very cold walk from our hotel. Grill’d, what are you doing to me? It was because of you I had to create zucchini fries at home, now you want me to create avocado fries at home? If you have a Grill’d nearby the zucchini & avocado fries are worth trying.
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I will have to consider this carefully before attempting my own version. I was served deep fried avocado once at a wedding in the early 90’s, in the days before I ate avocado. Who knew avocado fries would become a thing and that I would love them? Who knows what vegetable will be next!
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If and when you visit Canberra, do not waste your money on an expensive hotel breakfast. Head out to IKEA and grab their cheap offering (presently just under $6) which includes a hash brown and a sausage not seen here as I swapped it for the tomato on The Other Half’s plate, swedish meatballs, bacon and scrambled egg. They also have warm danish, if you are into that kind of thing, and the cafe serves excellent coffee as well as the cheap or free stuff you get if you are an IKEA member.
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The restaurant opens half an hour before the store itself which is almost exactly the perfect amount of time to eat, caffeinate, and make a quick bathroom stop. Then you can do a quick run or a leisurely wander through the store without the crowds you might find at one of their Sydney locations. We went with leisurely wander and were still through the checkout before 11am. We picked up a couple of LAIVA bookcases for $29.99 along with some other regular items and our HODDE rug..
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Just across the road from IKEA is Costco, we always make this our last stop before leaving Canberra because we like to purchase cold items like cheese and milk. They have 3 litre A2 milk for about a dollar more than 2 litres cost us at home. I grabbed a new rug for my chair, too.
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Winter boot achievement unlocked! Very reasonable at $159 from the clearance outlet. These are Diana Ferrari Supersoft and they are the most comfortable boots I have ever put on my feet. In fact it feels like I have no shoes on at all, and yet it is like walking on air. They are also a size and a half smaller than my other shoes – I used to be size 11 but these are 9.5 – I think my feet have lost weight along with the rest of me.
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Canberra may well be the best city in Australia especially when parliament is not sitting and therefore the accommodation is reasonably priced. We’ve stayed at a lot of different places over the years and my first choice here would be The Avenue however that is Up Money at the best of times. If you can get it at a good price I highly recommend it.

The second favourite is Vibe but that is out at the airport so you would need a car to get around if you stay here and parking can be a bit of an issue at this hotel if it is busy. I think Canberra is a place where a car is recommended and very useful.

We tried a new hotel this time – Rydges Capital Hill – and while it was mostly ok, we would not stay there again due to the shower going super hot and cold as a surprise while showering. So the hunt is still on for our perfect reasonably priced Canberra hotel. Aria is next on the list for us to try. I’ve read a lot of positive reviews for it.

It was super cold when we visited. Summer is the perfect time to visit Canberra weather wise in my opinion, any other time of year it has been my experience that you can expect the weather to be on the cold side especially at night, so BYO layers, gloves and hats are recommended too. We have been to visit so many times and yet we still have so much more to see. Canberra is a much under-rated destination and it has become one of our favourites.

Canberra, shopping

Manicure Fiesta

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I have never been a “girly” girl – there was never any nail polish in our house growing up. It wasn’t a thing we were into. I am terrible at nail painting due to a lack of experience, talent, and skill. I probably could become good at it with a lot of time, effort, and learning to use my left hand as well as I use my right hand. But realistically that is unlikely to happen.nails7
In late 2016 I was having a Good Nail patch – thanks to my daily hair skin and nails vitamins, they were growing stronger and healthier than ever before. I was using Hard As Nails by Sally Hansen which I would paint on every few days to make the nails shiny and slightly more protected from breakage. nails2
I had wanted to try getting a proper shellac – or gel – manicure for a while but I was very wary. I had heard tales of woe, of unsterilised equipment, of fungal nail infections UGH. I did some serious research and asked around, and one local place kept popping up in the conversations. After a bit of umm-ing and ahh-ing, I bit the bullet and made an appointment.
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So what is a shellac manicure? This excellent post tells the story of shellac better than I probably could. The photos do not really do these justice, it is hard to get a good photo of these nails.
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To summarize it quickly for you, after each coat of nail polish is applied, your nails “cure” with the help of a UV lamp. When you walk out of the salon you do not have to worry about wet nail polish.
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The other benefits include much stronger nails and the polish lasts for 2-3 weeks – and sometimes 4 depending on what you get up to hand wise. Since I started getting the gel nails I have not had a single nail break, and I don’t baby them, they do what they have always done.

I have occasionally done a bit of damage to the manicure but you have to work pretty hard to damage it. Most times when I have damaged a nail it has involved metal coathangers, the ones you use to hang up jeans etc. Gel works for me but it does not work for everyone. In particular it would not work well if one had their hands in water a lot.
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Until I did this, I never realised how having great looking nails can improve your mood. It makes sense now, given that during any day you look at your hands more than any other body part.

I prefer the French tip style manicure because if you have colour down to the bottom of the nail you notice a gap as your nails grow. But the French manicures are no longer just white tips, as you see from my many examples here. You can choose a colour, you can add some glitter on the top, and probably my favourite manicure so far was black tips with red holographic glitter.

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I also loved the ones with electric blue and the pastel but very sparkly green. One appointment I arrived early and sat down with the colour charts and made a memo in my phone of all the colours I wanted for future manicures, so I usually know before I arrive what colour I want to try this time. I’m thinking gold is coming up this week but The Other Half loved the black with red glitter, so I see a repeat of that in my near future, as well.

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My manicurist thinks I am strange because I always ask her to trim the nails back, she said everyone else wants to keep the length. I don’t need my nails to be long. I just want them to be neat, shiny, and sparkly. If I let them get too long I begin to have trouble typing.

Fashion, Vitamins

Sale Sale!

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The Long Sleeve Dressy Shirt Hem Sequin Knit is back on sale again at Rockmans for $29.99 as well as many other items. They sent me an SMS this afternoon to let me know nothing was over $40 and the website crashed for a couple of hours as a result..

The jackets are especially good value, many of them selling for $50-60 off RRP and one or two for nearly $90 off..

I might have to head into the local store and pick up a couple of these which are half price and a useful wardrobe item at $9.99.

No idea how long it will last. :)

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Things I Know Now

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I have been on this eat less move more journey for almost a year and a half now.

Every human body is different, and we are not issued with instruction manuals for our bodies. What works for me will not always work for someone else. Some of the things I have learned only apply to me, but there are a couple of lessons which will be of interest and possibly work for most people. I’m putting those up front. :)

1. My portion size was too big.

I remember the days when I used to eat a whole pizza in one sitting. My pizza is 170 calories per slice and there are 6 slices. Eat all six, and that right there is 1020 calories. I now aim for 1200 calories a day spread out over 3 meals and one snack. I still have my pizza, but I have three slices which is 510 calories. The remaining slices go in the fridge for dinner the next night.

2. Protein shakes are important for me.

My lunchtime protein shake is so simple. I have updated the recipe as I now use almond milk and more protein. It removes thought from the equation and for me that is quite important and useful. I know what I’ll be having for lunch if I am at home, every day, forever.

I now buy my unflavoured protein online in bulk and I have switched to the Whey Protein Isolate from Bulk Nutrients. I buy 4kg at a time and it lasts me between 4-6 months depending on whether I am cooking other things with it. They do have some awesome treats you can create.

My protein shake tastes like a great milkshake that I would get from somewhere like Max Brenner or an upscale cafe. Who wouldn’t enjoy one of those every single day especially if one knows that it is giving you vital nutrients for your body? :)

3. Eating is the key.

If I eat right, I can do less and sometimes even no exercise and still lose or maintain my weight. I can still have the occasional calorific meal and it makes no difference in the long run. With that said, I have grown to love our new diet and generally prefer it to take away or eating out.

4. Some foods & medicines slow down my digestion.

This one might apply only to my body but I add it because it is worth trying to work out which foods work best for you. The one thing I really do not want to do above all other things is end up getting diverticulitis again. I’ve noticed that when I eat some foods my digestion slows to a crawl and I am bloated, gassy, and generally feel Not Great. Those foods are – potatoes – bread – pasta – anything containing a lot of flour.

I also know that codeine has a similar effect. This is a problem for me as that is my main heavy duty pain killer. It is ok if I have a once off headache, but I can no longer take cold and flu tablets with codeine in, as I take those for 4 days at a time.

5. I struggle with the cold weather.

This is likely related to my thyroid issues. I have antibodies which are attacking my thyroid and have to take a small dose of thyroxine daily to compensate. In summer I am fine but when the cool weather hits, I’ll be the one layering up to sometimes hilarious levels. Scarves, gloves, beanies, all the jackets, plus those super warm Ghanda hoodies are my best friends on a cold night now.
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You might think I mean when going outside, but I have taken to wearing gloves and the occasional beanie in the house now. It just helps keep me warm without needing to put the gas heater on all the time.

2016 Goal, 2017 goal

The Clothing Chronicles – Part 3

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I mentioned in my first post how sizes are never the same across stores and how I always pick up the wrong size automatically – this time I am going to talk some more about the mental change that you need to make once you have lost some weight.

A few weeks ago I let the chooks out, and Rosie took off like all the foxes in Australia were chasing her. It was so funny, I took note of the time – it was dead on midday. I said to the other half when he got home he should look at our cameras so he could see Rosie, and what I saw actually shocked me. I could not believe that person on the camera was me.

The “I’m much larger than I actually am” mentality is part of the reason why I reach for the larger size automatically. I’m now less than one kilo from my goal weight of 70kg but in my mind I am at least 10kg heavier than that.

I went to Rockmans recently specifically to look at the “Long Sleeve Dressy Shirt Hem Sequin Knit” you see above. I’d been looking for a top with some sparkle that I could wear under my leather jacket. I love mixed media pieces and this chiffon hem thing seems to be a big trend here this year, though I bought several pieces like this on my Hawaii trip in 2013.

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This chiffon hem is just that, literally a hem added on to the bottom of the jumper. The jumper itself can be a little scratchy because of the sequins in the knit, just so you know. But it was exactly what I was looking for and there is such little sparkly out there in the shops this year.

Recent experiences have taught me to take more than one size into the fitting room and in this case I took in the small and the medium. I tried on the small first and was shocked when it fit perfectly.
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The small size.
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The medium size was just too big this time, especially as I wanted to wear it under a jacket. But my mind tried so hard to convince me to get the medium. It said quite clearly –

“Won’t you be more comfortable in the medium?”

“You like having room to move in your clothes, I think you should get the medium”

“If you get the medium you can wear another top underneath”

To all of this I said SHUT UP I am getting the small because it fits better. And so I did, plus BONUS it was half price so I got it for $30 and here it is in an outfit.

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That inner voice trying to tell me incorrect things is one reason why shopping can be an exhausting experience. In this case I had specifically gone to try on this one thing so it was a little easier and this was the only shop I went to, so it was less tiring than usual.

Picking out things you want to try on before you even leave the house is a great way to go about this task, I have discovered. The obvious problem can be it might not be in stock at your store in your size but some stores now have the ability to tell you whether an item is in stock at your store.

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Rockmans is one of the stores that can do this.

After my recent shopping adventures I now have quite a few new loyalty cards and some of these shops now send me daily emails which can be great if you are wanting to get something specific when it is on sale like I did with this top. I have a number of items bookmarked for future purchase when they are on sale or on clearance, if I miss out on them in my size then it is not meant to be.

Fashion

The Clothing Chronicles – Part 2

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Not long after the Millers shopping trip I mentioned in part 1, I was about to head out for the day and picked an outfit. I was unhappy to find that my mesh top which was part of this outfit no longer fit me. Mesh tops are something those of us who do not love our upper arms depend on, to enable us to wear sleeveless tops and dresses. They can also turn a low cut top into something less cleavage-tastic.

All of mine were from Ezibuy. Over the past 15 years, I had bought that top in blue, red and white, plus several black ones, all in size 16.

No problem, I thought. I will just go back and order some more of those mesh tops in a smaller size. Only one small obstacle – the Ezibuy top was now sold out. So I put aside a day for wandering the local shops in the hopes I could find one. HAHAHHAHA. I would have better luck finding a unicorn. In desperation I went into shops I would never have thought to look in, and not only did I not find my mesh tops, I did not find anything in those places that I liked at all.

A few times I thought I had found them – or a lace version – only to find on closer inspection that the bodysuit is back, baby. I can’t even understand why. On one later shopping trip I was in a bathroom and heard the girl next to me having a lot of trouble, eventually saying I can’t undo this bodysuit, Mum! Her Mum had to go in and help her undo the bodysuit. It brought back memories of times when I could not undo them myself. Why do we wear things that cause such problems, ladies? And why has not technology solved that problem? ;)

Ok then, let me search the online shops. HAHAHAHHA. After a couple of hours of fruitless searching, I was getting very cranky. Then I remembered one of my old school reliable backup online shops – TVSN.

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Happily they had this one, and unsure what size to get but knowing mesh tops can often accommodate more than one size, I bought the 10 and 12, figuring I could either send back the one that doesn’t fit quite as well. When they arrived they both fit well but the 10 was better overall and that is the size I would order next time. I kept the 12 as well.

When I bought it only the black was available, however they have a range of other colours that go in and out of stock and I was tempted to invest in a few more this past weekend, until I clicked on the size button to find red was the only colour left in my size. These tops are super popular and with good reason. I like the Boo Radley one more than the Ezibuy one, it has a slightly higher neckline.

The other must have layering item for those who do not love their arms is a shrug cardigan. I had to pack away a few after winter last year because they were way too big. Now, two of my most favourite shrugs in teal green and pink no longer fit me. This means I am left with two shrugs that work – these are a lurex glittery stretch fabric which will work for me at most sizes.

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It seems from all my searching, the shrug is out, and longer cardigans are in. Sometimes even ridiculously long! That photo is the purple floor length cardigan. Zulily is a site I have never shopped at yet but I do browse it quite often and get their daily emails, it has a lot of stuff which is my style mixed in with a lot of stuff that is not.

I did manage to find a couple of shrugs in my travels but they are both black, I could not find a shrug in a colour at all. I will keep looking but I am not very hopeful.

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Just to give you an idea of how much of my wardrobe relies on these mesh tops and shrug cardigans – here are all my sleeveless things. There are more than 30 items here.

Fashion