Saturday, December 27, 2008

Booko: the best resource for buying books online

We had another Fantastic Furniture adventure today, though fortuantely (or not, depending on how you look at it), this time it didn't involve splintered MDF. Today's purpose was to find a bookshelf to hold my copious collection, which is currently sitting in random piles about the place, and stretching the small storage shelf we rescued from MIL's garage to absolute capacity. I love buying books, new and second hand, there's something so exciting and tantalising about the words, knowledge, inspirations and stories between the covers. I reckon you should read anything once, even chick-lit, and take heart from kids who read their fav stories over and over and over and over again. They still get a thrill from the journey that makes up the story, even though they know the ending. It's brilliant.

Browsing in a bookstore is a Saturday afternoon activity that totally owns browsing for Fantastic Furniture, but if you get hit with ideas for new books you must read in the middle of the night, you can usually pick them up online a tad cheaper then in stores, both new and used. There's millions of sites out there (aside from the mega gigantic Amazon; Fishpond, The Nile, Booktopia and even Dymocks are all good online stores, though you sometimes have to wait awhile to receive your goodies) and I have just discovered a site to take all the hard work out of cyber-browsing: is a search-and-compare site with direct links to the books you want to buy! I have just been testing it and give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Price, shipping, and total price inc shipping are all displayed in AU$, which makes it quick and easy to make the best purchasing decision possible!

Now I just need to decide whether to go for a Fantastic $69 cheapo basic shelf, or to shop around and find something mega-cool, or to go the Better Homes and Gardens route and spend hundreds at Bunnings making mdf-painted boxes, or chopping coffee tables in half and gluing them to the wall. Yes, they did that last night. Quite a novel idea, if you'll pardon the pun, but it would take me longer to successfully make it than it does to read a Penguin Classic. Or to re-read it a few times and squeeze every last Times New Roman drop out of it...!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ban Husbands From Boxing Day Sales. That's why there's Cricket on TV

Honestly, now that I can no longer spend Christmas Day running around under the sprinkler, arms chockas with shiny new toys that will be exciting until about January, one of the things I look forward to the most about the Festive Season is the sales! Yes, I know that sounds (well, is) very materialistic of me, but on Boxing Day, I get up (kinda) early and head into the city for a few hours of me time and pure retail therapy. After years of practice I have honed my skills and am usually chuffed with my armful of goodies. Check below for the Common Sense Guide To Shopping, but before you even think about it, can I please ask that if your hubby would prefer to be in his shed playing with all the new things he got for Christmas, then leave him there. And brave it yourself. Same goes for boyfriends/straight male friends/brothers and in fact, males who don't like shopping at the best of times. Tell me why they would enjoy elbowing their way through mega crowds and waiting in queues ten times as long as usual, while you try on/ask for opinions/ponder marked-down last season dresses? Yes, he is useful for carrying bags, but really it ends there. I spent more time in Country Road today manoevuering around bored hubbys then I did rifling through the racks. The poor buggers were so out of their elements they simply stood bewildered in the most inconvenient places (such as in front of the racks, in the aisles, in the way of the changerooms and basically in the women's sections in general), arms loaded up with a plethora of purchases and their minds wandering back to the mega toolkit left sitting wistfully on the shed bench. Hell, even sorting the piles of socks Aunt Agnes sent yet again is more exciting than watching women snarl over knitwear.

If your man actually does enjoy shopping, then by all means take him along because he'll be your best ally, but if not, grab a girlfriend or yourself (um) and attack the stores like a madwoman. It's the only way to survive out there!

1). Be polite to the staff. Today I heard so many ridiculous questions and people arguing over a few $ ("well I thought that was $5 cheaper, it was stuffed on that rack over there, I demand you go and check") that I wanted to throttle some people, and all I was doing was standing in line observing the action. The poor girl in Myer kidswear apologised because the lady in front was one such customer who seriously needed to know individually if every single itm in the department was marked down (*brainwave* check the tag, lady, a red sticker means a discount), and then she said she was working til 7pm. This was at 10am. I felt like buying her some discounted Christmas chocolates to cheer her up. But then I remembered she was earning double time and a half so she could suck it up. (!)

2). Wait patiently in line. Be prepared for queues. Standing really close behind me "hrpmphing" and breathing on my neck won't make the cash registers work any faster.

3). Further to point 2, please stand in the line, not just hover somewhere about the counter in hopes that you can push in. You can't, even if you have been waiting pointlessly in the one spot for 15 minutes.

4). If your child was given a pram for her dollies for Xmas, don't let her bring it to the sales. Same goes for scooters and new bikes. There is barely enough standing room, let alone space for little Shania-Eppinee to push her grubby dolls into your kneecaps.

5). Hit departments like lingerie, manchester and shoes for proper bargains. Sheet sets and towels don't go through "seasons" and they are usually at least 40% off at this time of year. Target have 1000 thread count sheet sets for $99 at the moment! Get fitted for a bra earlier in the month so when you get there you can just grab your size in preferred styles and head to counter. Knickers and slips are also good buys. Shoes can be a nightmare to traverse but if you know what style you need you can get through it much easier. You don't, for example, probably need a plastic pair of bright green sandals. Some strappy tan flats however, would look great all summer...

6). Avoid "trend" buys. They are marked down because stores want to get rid of them and never see them again. You might pick up a bargain top to wear out on the town once, but aside from that look for basic tees and tanks, summer dresses in classic cuts, and denim in particular is usually mega-cheap. It's also good to think ahead to autumn/winter and pick up a few cardis or jumpers in basic hues- again these are very similar every season and by the time you get to wear it, it'll be all new and exciting again!

7). For kids, look ahead to winter or even next summer and buy them a size up. Department stores markdown by 30-40% off and chains like P Patch also have some good buys. Stocking up on things like bathers and pj's in bigger sizes is always a good idea (have you ever tried to buy bathers mid-year? impossible!) and if you have some special occassions or parties over the summer, keep an eye out for cute seasonal outfits (it's hot til at least April, but stores start getting winter in at the end of Jan!).

8). Hop online. Most stores have started, or will do in the next few days, % off storewide or category sales. have a continually updated list; or check out huge shopping forums like Vogue for discount codes and sale updates. Sites like Kidstylefile, On the 7th Day She Shopped, Drop Dead Gorgeous (sign up for daily updates) and Style Hunter are also worth keeping an eye on. Chainstores such as Witchery, Sportsgirl, Valleygirl, and labels like Tony Bianco and Peter Alexander have most, if not all, of their ranges online and discounted. No crowds, you should get your parcels eary next week and you won't get your eyes scratched out by the greedy Shazza in the corner!

And yes, before you ask, you'll get the Frock You discount code for our 3-day sale later tonight. It's gonna be mega! We'll be here all weekend getting parcels out, so you should get everything before New Years. Aus Post have been warned, extra people are on standby, your inbox is waiting...See you at the sale!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas (and Christmas Sales)

Christmas might be an absurd consumerist spendathon fuelled by underlying feelings of guilt, insincerity and gluttony (wow, so much cynicism before breakfast can be harmful), but sometimes the simplest of acts can deliver something you know Hallmark would refer to as "the true meaning of Christmas". Last night, feeling hot, lazy and hungry, we stocked up on KFC and did the rounds of suburbia to gauge the tackiness of people's Christmas Light displays. There is an odd correlation between suburbs that receive the most letters from Centrelink and an abundance of lights and blow up decorations (as in, ones full of air, not weapons), and I think this year K-Rudd's generous donation to spur on the economy was mostly spent at Bunnings, where happy shoppers loaded their trolleys with "one of everything please" in the Lights aisle. This "one of everything" was then vomited haphazardly onto said shopper's dwellings, to create an epileptic display of random flashing, and I even saw one blow up santa coming out of a wrapped present, and then slowly lowering himself back in (in shame, one presumes).

Still, there were some displays that obviously had taken alot of hard work, and looked like those houses in American movies which probably doesn't represent America at all but that's what they want us to think. We pulled up to admire some of the displays and had our car window tapped on by little kids dressed as elves handing out lollies and little packages of cello-wrapped jellybeans, which quite frankly ws so simple and touching a gesture that it made me feel all festive and fuzzy. The kids directing traffic to their house in a cul-de-sac off a main street using a flashing light sabre also get my festivity vote (also because I nabbed a Flake from them, yeeaaah!). In one suburbs, I'm not sure whether it was the Spirit of Christmas or the Spirit of Competition that wsas over-riding, but nevertheless all you had to do was roll up, stick your hand out the window and receive more and more elaborate goodies. Quite frankly, we shouldn't have eaten before we left. They should take homeless people in those soup vans around to get the handouts, they'd be stuffed full until Easter. At any rate, the kids were loving it, my daughter's face was lit up brighter than any light display (what she was learning about accepting lollies from strangers I don't know) and we all came home in a jolly good mood. Our tree has all the presents under it, most of the decorations are still on there somewhere, and there are cards strewn across the bookshelf. It might be 25 degrees outside and too hot for mulled wine and roasted chestnuts (never too hot for chilled white wine and gourmet nibblies though) but at least it feels a bit like Christmas.....

Department stores may have taken their decorations down already, but it was a bit like once they did, and stopped forcing Christmas sales down our throats, actual Festivities started to struggle out from under the pile of bargain-filled catalogues and useless prepackaged gift hampers. Plus, it means stores are getting ready for the Boxing Day sales, which is admittedly what all of us spendaholic, materialistic gluttonous consumers are really excited about.

*cue note about Frock You Boxing Day Sale - yes it is happening, yes it will be huge, no it won't be on Boxing Day becuase we all deserve a rest! It'll be posted on here, Facebook and of course in the newseltter mailout on Boxing Day night, so I strongly suggest saving eveything you wish for in your favourites, and heading through checkout as soon as the discount code is active - our sales are excersises in insanity and the poor website groans under the influx of cyber traffic. It's first in, best dressed!*

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Frock You Winter Ad Shoot

Winter Photo Shoot

Luckily, Summer thus far has been a torrent of greyness, wetness, and wind (windyness?). These Taswegian conditions made the our winter ad campaign shoot with Alan Moyle from Photobat look very chilly, nay very cool indeed. Below are a couple of piccys, and above is the Youtube version of the podcast (does that even make tecchy sense? I don't know). We're using these pics for our ads in Shop4Kids, Studio Bambini, Wondertime and other neccessary advertorial/editorial bits n bobs that come up. "Alan the Toggapha", as Charlotte calls him, captured some great shots and yes, everything she's wearing you will be able to buy around Feb/March! FYI, womenswear Winter catalogue will be shot in Jan and out early Feb, and it will be printed as well as e-interactive. I know you've been baying for it, so we're bringing it to you!

Keep an eye on Alan's blog, he's shot some very famous people. He was aiming for Bono, but he missed. Next time...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Deck The Halls With All Things Green

tra la la la la, la la la laaa......yes I have poked my head out from under my frockrock and promise to deliver lots more sneaky peekys (winter buying is all done, catalogue is underway and I shall let you in on the goss over the coming weeks) as well as the usual rants, raves and ramblings. Today for some reason those wideleg 3/4 jeans that everyone wears with chunky Hush Puppy sandals, or worse, Crocs, really gave me the irks so stay tuned for my in depth analysis. In other possibly more important news, Ange the slave driver at Kidstylefile (I kid, I kids, pardon the pun) has been forcing me to churn out weekly posts on all things hip (today's: Bedding); and Kellie at NeverShoppedOut has been a busy bee redesigning her site, and it looks fabulous. I've done a grand total of bugger all to help with the redesign, but I did just do a post about having an Organic Chrissy, which is conveniently copied + pasted below for your perusal. There's heaps of cool stuff out there, I've tracked (some of) it down, so clicky-clicky and buy something lean and green this festive season!

There will be more Green then red floating about Christmas this year, with a huge shift in consumer consciousness making all that is eco-friendly and organic number 1 on most people’s wish list. And rightly so – check out these ultra-gorgeous buys for kiddies which will keep Mother Earth happy too!

First up: the tree. Aside from letting them go crazy with Clag and pasta and creating their own special pieces, Biome (one of my new fav stores) has awesome fair-trade decorations that are bright and festive enough for kids, and will look chic on plastique too! This box of Assorted Handmade Decorations is just $17.95 (handmade in Bangladesh) and my personal fave, the ceramic Word Stars by Kylie Johnson (handmade in Brisbane) at $12.95!

Generation Wonder stock only fair-trade items, and is indeed a wonderland of beautiful gift ideas! Check out these totally biodegradable Mobile Homes by Kidsonroof ($44.90) which allows kids to create, construct and decorate to their heart’s content. Plus it makes for a novel place to store toys! For a gorgeous keepsake I just love the Barefoot Mother and baby Elephant soft toy set ($43.50, buy together or separately for $19.75) – a percentage of proceeds go to the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, each one is handmade and individual, and they come in a variety of colours. Or for something simple guranteed to keep them entertained and active for hours, a Fairtrade Skipping Rope is a great stocking filler at $14.99. And let your little one say it loud and proud with these cool Eco tees by Tiny Revolutionary ($34.95)!

Eco Child have a huuuge range of eco-friendly products, including toys like the very funky Anamalz wooden toy, um, animals, ($9.95) which are not only cute but are also made from renewable resources, are non-toxic (always a plus), and a portion of sales is donated to various wildlife charities. Aw, feel those warm and fuzzies! Eco Child also stock practical ideas such as these Foogo Sippy Cups ($24.95) which are unbreakable, BPA-free and FDA-Approved, which is all A-OK in my book. Got someone super-fussy to buy for? Eco Child have it covered – stuff their stocking with Organic Cotton Balls ($7.95), which are practical, versatile and top quality. I kid, I kid, (though they are of course, very nice) – Mums will love the range of natural beauty products (try Bod Bath Salts Princess Blend $14.95) and mums-to-be will adore these cute and comfy PJ pants by Hot Milk ($49.95).

And finally (and most importantly): clothes! There are so many gorgeous organic labels out there, and not all of them are beige (sorry, ‘natural’). Purebaby is one of my faves, and Babysgotstyle have a great selection – I’m loving the idea of this pretty striped knit tank dress ($44.95) as a lightweight summer option, carried through to winter with tights and a skivvy; or for boys the khaki stripe overalls ($39.95) for something cutesy but cool. The Purebaby website also has a great range of basics and premmie wear. Gaia Organics are another well-loved label, and with good reason – the certified 100% organic cotton is whipped into beautiful creations like the Babydoll Dress ($44.95) and Grandpa Top ($39.95) or these incredibly pretty Blue Bell Botties ($29.95)! For something a bit funky, Mini Eco have a massive range of brands including Speesees, who’s bright and colourful tanks are just $25.95, and these ultra cool tees by Sckoon ($24.95). Baby Blend also do cute prints on organic tees ($29.95 a pop, my fave is “Crabby”!) as do Kee-Ka at ShopHouse ($26.00).

(PS - if you are buying your pressies online, get in quick 'cos the jolly folk at Aus Post probably won't be able to deliver it on time if you don't order before the 18th!)