Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And a Happy New Year to you

It's New Years Eve and a month since my last blog post. Wow, seriously, where did that time go?

December has been a crazy month and I've been enjoying a break over Christmas and New Year. Ideas for the purple notepad for 2013 have been whirling around in the background while I've focused on enjoying the moment with my family. 

2013 has been a big year for our family. I returned to work on a part time basis after 12 months of maternity leave so the childcare, work, commute craziness element of our life began. We are doing our best to make it work so we can enjoy precious time as a family. Returning to work and to the blogging world has been fantastic for me. I love the work I do and blogging is an outlet for me to explore new ideas. 

And above all, watching my beautiful Miss S grow and develop has been the most incredible experience of all. Hubby and I love lying in bed at the end of a busy day and flicking through the photos and videos we have taken of her and sharing little stories of what she has done. So much joy and happiness combined with exhaustion, but we wouldn't have it any other way. 

I don't generally make New Year's resolutions because they usually don't last longer than a month. But instead in 2014 I will focus on goals - living a healthy and balanced lifestyle, enjoying precious moments and living in the moment with my family and friends and an increased commitment to the purple notepad (all the things I'm passionate about). 

So my little break will continue and I'll be back in the New Year keen to chat more about beauty, fashion, shopping, life as a mum and life in general. 

Happy New Year and I hope 2014 brings much love, laughter and happiness. 

What have been your highlights for 2013 and what do you have planned for 2014?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

the purple notepad's guide to online shopping

I let my fingers do the walking :-)

My online shopping directory has been floating around in my head for a couple of months now. I know how useful and valuable I find people's personal experiences and recommendations when buying products and services so I'd thought I would put together my recommendations for online shopping. These are my go to places for online shopping.

Please know they are not sponsored in any way. They are based purely on my personal experiences. 

Why I shop online

1. Convenience - having an 19 month old daughter, it can be easier to browse online when she's asleep. Sure there are times when I wish I could spend a day browsing and trying on items in store but at this stage of my life it's not always convenient. Buying from a reputable website that is flexible with returns etc is a definite. Now that we're officially into December, it's also a great way to beat the crowds. Just be sure to get your orders in asap.  

2. Choice - comparing products between websites is a whole lot easier than physically doing so. Plus, not all websites offer a physical store, others are not all located at my local shopping centre and finally, shopping overseas widens the range and choice significantly. 

3. Value for money - doesn't always come into it as there are certain premium brands I like. But with such a wide range of choices and the ability to shop around it usually means a saving of some kind and at the very least I'm satisfied I've done my research on price. 

My must-haves 

1. Speedy delivery - while I'm blown away when an item I have ordered arrives the next day or two days later, I am patient enough to wait up to a week. Anything over that and I start to get a bit frustrated. A recent $60 purchase from an overseas retailer had me pay $16 untracked postage with a delivery time of up to 9 days. The tracked postage option was about $34. The item didn't arrive in the nine days advertised on the site, when I contacted them to enquire about my order, they advised me I needed to allow up to a month and that I should contact them once the month had been reached. When I hit a month and still no parcel (the event I wanted the dress for had come and gone) I emailed requesting a refund. This was provided without too much hassle (although waiting 7-10 business days for a refund seems a bit ridiculous, I think they charged my credit card much faster than that), but I won't be purchasing from this site again. 

2. Easy returns - are a must for me! Free returns are even better. Two sites I've mentioned below offer free returns. Makes shopping for clothing online so much more appealing. This is one reason why I do hesitate when shopping from overseas retailers - the scary postage fees to return items. One friend spent $40 to return a $200 item. 

My online shopping sites

I have written about my experience with albumworks before and I have now designed and purchased a total of three albums from albumworks. The first two were smaller albums of a US holiday my hubby and I enjoyed a couple of years. We had so many amazing photos from our holiday that I felt they deserved to be displayed in an album. Something we could pick up and flick through to remind us of the amazing time we had. The final and most recent album I have had printed is one to capture Miss S' first year. I spent about 30 hours selecting the photos and designing the album and when it arrived it blew me away. The quality is amazing and it's a beautiful reminder of her very special first year. I will definitely be using this company again.

This brand is always very easy to deal with. Their products are always of a good quality, they offer value for money, designs are always changing, customer service is great and returns are super easy. I have bought tops, dresses, skirts, belts, scarves and shoes from ASOS. I've only had to return items on three occasions - the first time I went with the wrong size for a pair of boots, second time they accidentally sent me the wrong size boots (a size 10 instead of a 5 and they paid the postage to return) and the third time, the top I selected didn't suit me. I paid $8 to return it. 

I love my Bonds underwear for every day use, especially their seamless underpants. I can't always find these at Target, so their online site is my next option. Last time I bought my underwear online they had a massive sale and free delivery and returns. Both hubby and I stocked up. Not sure about returning underwear, but they do also sell singlets, t-shirts, hoodies, track pants and baby clothes. So free returns could come in handy for those items. 

Free delivery and returns which I think is brilliant. I don't find it convenient to get to a Marcs store, so online is a great option. And fast delivery. I ordered a pair of pants early afternoon Wednesday and they were delivered Friday morning. Awesome! I returned the pair of pants simply because they didn't suit me. The return and credit took over a week, but on following up I was assured this was not the usual time taken. This was a little blip but customer service was great and I will definitely be ordering from them again. Too easy!

Pumpkin Patch
Offer a great online service. Lots of sales and reasonable postage, $7.95. They have a better selection online than at my local Westfield store. Returns can be done via return mail or taken in store (my preferred option). Sizing can be a bit all over the place, but generally a good value for money product (especially on sale and they have a lot of sales). 

I have only ordered once through this site, but keep returning to browse. I love their shoes and had a positive experience when I ordered a pair of ballet flats. At $170 plus for a pair of ballet shoes they're not a regular purchase, but I have my eye on a pair at the moment and will save a few more dollars before I buy. They arrived super quick and no hassles. 

Now I admit I have only ever used this site once, to purchase a packet of tea bags. Yes, tea bags. Staples was the only place I could find them online after I tried this particular flavour of tea bag at a conference I went to. I took a photo of the tea bag and then went hunting online. I ordered my packet of tea bags at 3.30pm on a Thursday afternoon and they arrived the next morning by courier. Shipping was free. Super impressed. 

This is a long time favourite. Good range, prices and quick delivery. When the Australian dollar was high against the US, this site was super cheap. Now the dollar has adjusted prices are more inline with department store prices. But always convenient and the free shipping and loyalty discounts are definitely welcome. 

The Iconic
Super impressed with the speedy delivery. Ordered a pair of sandals on a Tuesday afternoon and they arrived next morning (and I don't live in the Sydney CBD). I haven't had to return anything so not sure how easy returns might be. 

The Little Big Company
I have purchased party items and gifts from this site a couple of times. Always arrives within a few days. Postage under a certain spend is $10.95, but considering the items I have ordered have been glassware and they have arrived without a problem, I'm happy to pay postage. 

Love this brand and how easy it is to order online. Delivery is free and within two business days, always handy when you realise there's only a couple more squirts in your eye cream. I use these products across my skincare routine, from cleanser, to eye cream and night cream. 

An easy to use website which when you sign up to, offers bonuses for members and free shipping when you spend over a certain amount. I purchased a pair of leather ponte pants on the site after I couldn't get my size at my local Witchery store. At the same I also picked up a pink blazer on sale. Arrived within a week and fit was perfect. I like that I can return items if needed to my local store to save on postage costs.

Would love to hear your recommendations on online shopping sites. What are your favourites and why? 


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