Big changes at Sylvia Park

Shopping centres, some hate them but I love them. I’m a bit of a seasoned shopper/shop-a-holic, much to Jay and my bank accounts dismay. Let’s just say we are lucky we have two boys and not girls, as their wardrobes would be next level crazy! Jay literally let out a sigh of relief when our ultrasound showed two boys.  I grew up hanging out in shopping centres and since my grandma lives in San Diego and my dad is a pilot, I was extremely lucky to spend a lot of school holidays state side, so I know a good shopping centre when I see one. anna-reeve

I was invited to the preview launch of H&M last Thursday, since it started at 6:30 and Jay was on Nugget duty I figured I would beat the traffic and head out a few hours early to take a look around. I was curious as I haven’t shopped at Sylvia Park in years, only going out there in the last few years for movies…and I have to say I was impressed. I never think to go there as I have a local shopping centre down the road from me, but it was only 15 minutes on the motorway and it’s a really nice shopping centre. Big, open, outdoor/indoor flow, fresh air and clean! They have upgraded a lot of facilities recently and it makes such a difference. I hate finding parks and circling forever to try to spot a free one, so Sylvia Park has popped little digital signs up at the entrance to each park letting you know the exact number of parks left, handy! Valet parking? So fancy, so easy and a service they offer now too! It wasn’t even expensive, $5 for the first 2 hours and a $1 an hour thereafter. You can even pre book online if you worry about it being busy and full. I know you can park for free but the ease of dropping it at the entrance to the shopping centre and having it delivered back to you is so ideal, not to mention much safer for myself rather than traipsing through a busy car park with two toddlers who don’t like to listen to their mother and run in different directions!

With the opening of retail giants H&M over the weekend and Zara later this week, there is going to be a lot more people at Sylvia Park, but I think visitors will be pleasantly surprised with the quality of stores available. I shopped at Lush, the super cool Kiehls boutique, Stirling Women, Mi Piachi and Country Road on my visit and dined at Wagamama prior to heading to the opening. Nothing like a fix of delicious gyoza to fuel the shopping trip!

The set up for H&M was huge, massive red carpet but once you were in everyone was very much there to shop before enjoying the party. I had two bags full of clothes to try on and spent a good 30 minutes in the changing rooms before heading to the kid section and the men’s for Jay. If you saw my haul on Snapchat you will already know I bought a lot of clothing, but surprisingly most of it was for Jay as he needed a bit for a wardrobe update. The girls kids selection was much larger than the boys, which I find is usually the case in any store. But I got some great black drop crutch shorts and some cute tees for the boys. The shorts are 1.5-2 year olds size but fit the boys really well, so I would say the sizes are very generous. Tip: H&M use euro sizing so on the tag it will say 2 but it's usually the size down, you only see that if you look on the tag inside the garment. I picked up so many 10’s to find they were actually an 8.

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The store is massive and the collection is the same as what is stocked oversees, so no bottom of the barrel collections for us! That was the question I was asked most on snap chat, people thought it would be the leftovers from oversees collections and much more expensive, but the pricing is just the same. Just like the international stores they will refund any item (except for hygiene reasons - underwear etc) for 30 days with receipt and in original condition. So many stores in NZ don’t offer this, so if you aren’t sure about something take it home and try it on with your own items you would pair it with. If it doesn’t quite look as good as it did in the store then you can return it with no worries. I love stores that allow this, as sometimes you just aren’t quite sure it will suit those boots, or that jacket.

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With the new stores arrival all these changes and upgrades to the centre have happened and the other stores have followed suit. Recently renovated Country Road and Glassons are looking particularly fresh. Adairs, a much-loved Australian home wares store is set to open in the next few months too, which will make a great addition to Sylvia Park and will keep those obssessed with interiors very happy!

All in all I was really impressed with the range on offer at Sylvia Park and I think all the other stores will notice the influx of customers in the centre. I spied a really cute little playground that was fenced (I love fenced playgrounds!) So I think I will take the boys back later this week. They always want to head to the parks in the afternoon after nap time, but that’s usually when I run my errands or do any shopping needed. So this could be a two birds one stone afternoon destination for me!

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Moments In Michael Hill

I was very lucky to be able to pick out some Michael Hill jewellery and what better place to show it off than Bali? I was having a real head band/head scarf moment and since I usually wear my hair down around my face, this was the perfect opportunity to showcase some ear bling! I have very sensitive skin when it comes to metals in my ears, I'm talking infections, pain and all sorts of nasty things; which means I stick to quality over quantity when it comes to earrings.  I, like many, have grown up with the Michael Hill brand. I remember some of the first pieces of "real" jewellery gifted to me were from Michael Hill, the gold/diamond heart pendant my friend all pitched in and gave me for my 16th and more recently the diamond studs Jay bought me for Christmas a few years ago, when he caught me admiring them at a store one day. So when Michael Hill (not THE actual MH, that would be pretty amazing though!) got in touch I was excited as it's a brand I genuinely like and have purchased over the years.

Having a hoop moment at La Laguna during "the golden hour"; lucky I had my BFF with me to take photos as Jay isn't very good at being an "insta husband". I haven't worn hoops in years, but have always loved them. Probably highly influenced by the amount of RnB and Hip Hop I listened to as teenager, all the babes would be wearing hoops in the music videos, I'm looking at you Ashanti, D-Child, Aaliyah and J-Lo. In Bali I was going for a little bit more of a gypsy look than RnB video hoe babe but I can't help it, wearing hoops makes me feel like singing Jenny from the Block!

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Jay likes to call me a magpie as I love all things shiny. You know what is really shiny? Diamonds! When I originally chose these earrings they were on sale for 50% off which meant more bang for buck!  I couldn't go past these dainty diamond cluster earrings, that I just knew would be something I kept in my jewellery box forever. It really hard to capture all the detail in them but you can see a close up of them here.

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Floating in a pool amongst the treetops, shooting beautiful earrings and wearing a turban felt very glamorous. I'm so lucky to be able to travel, have opportunities to own beautiful things, have amazing people in my life, be healthy, have a loving husband and two healthy children and I don't take any of the aspects of my life for granted. Sometimes I'm doing things like this, other times I'm sitting on the floor surrounded in mess and crying alongside the nuggets after a hard day, but even in moments like that I have to remember All the small beautiful and not so beautiful moments, stack up to one big memorable life!

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Shopping For My Nuggets

Online "shop-a-holic"- a phrase often used by my husband in regards to my spending habits. I hate to admit it (I never do to him, I’m not crazy!) but I have to tell you, my lovely readers, the truth, I’m very much guilty. Now not to lay the blame on anyone…but my dad is a pilot who regularly flies to LA, meaning he has been my online shopping mule for stores that don’t deliver to NZ, but can be sent direct to his hotel reception. So basically, the ease of having access to those items I didn’t otherwise have, has spurred on my addiction. Dad, it’s all your fault!

The amount of clothing, nappies, homewares and bits and bobs he has brought home for me over the years has been epic. Since the arrival of the Nuggets it has been even handier. We have had hundreds of nappies, wipes, my beloved Baby Brezza formula machine and oh so many cute outfits! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE New Zealand labels and supporting NZ owned businesses. Take one look at mine or the boys’ Instagram and you will see we/they are often dressed in clothing from NZ brands and a lot of them are small businesses run by stay-at home mamas. So don’t come at me for not supporting what we have here in NZ!

I often get asked where I get the boys clothing from and when it’s from brands overseas that don’t ship here, I am often met with disappointment. Which is exactly what I am facing come November; you see once you turn 65, pilots are no long allowed to fly into UK and USA airspace as a Captain! Which means, shock horror, my dad will be changing his plane so he no longer flies to the UK and US. I have been dreading this for years! #firstworldproblems

Lucky for me I have a backup plan…I had heard about YouShop from NZ Post but hadn’t checked it out or taken much notice of it since I had my own personal international courier. A recent gap in dads roster meant there was a good 2-months break between his trips to LA and I had some items waiting in my Zara cart that I wanted to push go on. Since I needed to figure out how I could still keep shopping from my favourite online stores who shun us Kiwis by not delivering here, this was the perfect time to trial YouShop.

I thought it would all be a bit complicated, but it wasn’t. YouShop sign up was super easy! You input all your details and it gives you your own “US address”. Easy as that! You use this address for your shipping address when you input your details during checkout. I bought a leather jacket for myself and two parkas for the boys. I had been looking for some cool army green parkas for a while but hadn’t had any luck here. So when I spied these I had to have them! They have a little badge on the arm and the interior has removable lining. So they are nice and warm for winter but as it gets warmer I can remove the lining so it is just a shell. Perfect!

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I knew this package was going to be a bit bulky with three jackets, so I was a bit wary of what the YouShop shipping costs were going to be. I tracked my Zara package and it showed it delivered fine to my “US address”, I then got an email a day later saying it had arrived at the warehouse and had been re packed to make posting more economical along with a link to pay for shipping; all up mine was $30, which included the repackaging fee. I think $30 was a fair price, especially since Zara shipping was free inside the US. Previously when I have shopped from international stores that ship to NZ the price is often around the $40-$50 mark, so $30 was a much better deal. I did note you can work out your shipping fee before you purchase something too, so if you have any heavier or larger items I recommend doing that before you buy it so you know what you are up for. After I had paid I got alerts from all the following stages; item has left warehouse, left US, landed in NZ, cleared customs and finally, item has been delivered! Shipping took 7 days from when I first got the alert it had arrived at the warehouse. So, while it’s not the fastest it isn’t too long to wait for your goodies.

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The boys are always super excited when parcels arrive; they know to go get a knife from the drawer to open them. A sign far too many parcels arrive at this house…that and the fact our couriers know us very well by now! The package had tape on it saying it had been repacked; they had kept all necessary things from the original packaging such as receipts and even a few flyers Zara had sent. The clothing was still in its plastic packaging and had been wrapped again with tissue paper. It was nice to see they had taken good care of the items, as I would have been disappointed if it had been just chucked in a box before being sent off again.

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My verdict, this is definitely going to be my go to once my private courier stops visiting LA. I will have to be more particular in what I am buying, as now I have to pay shipping costs too, but it’s definitely still worth it for those items you just can’t get here! It’s nice to have access to items that are a little bit different to what you can buy here.

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Now where do I shop? There are heaps of stores, but the one I visit the most for the boys and myself, is Zara. They have great on trend pieces, that are good quality and not too harsh on the wallet. Especially when our Kiwi dollar is strong against the greenback! I buy all of the boys footed PJs from Carters, they are made from such nice cotton, have non slip soles and footed PJs up to a size 7! If you have kids like mine that like to wriggle out from under their blankets, having footed PJs is always reassuring knowing they won’t be getting cold. But have you tried finding footed PJs in over a size 2? Mission! Bonds do a size 3 but I have never found any bigger than that! So thanks, Carters! A few other places to check out: GAP (this is where we got our cute yellow rain jackets the boys have been sporting on Instagram), Old Navy have great clothes at GREAT prices! I buy a lot from here in the opposite season in the boys next size up (American stores are always in opposite season to us), Ralph Lauren have epic sales which make the clothes surprisingly affordable - sounds weird but the best socks I have bought for the boys are their ankle socks from here, they stay on, was well and have non slip bottoms their t-shirts are also greta staples,  Target, Walmart, Nordstrom, Forever21, J Crew, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Foot Locker. A few of these companies do ship to NZ; Carters, Gap and Old Navy for example, but YouShop's shipping is actually cheaper than their international shipping. So I would go with them to save yourself a few extra bucks.

Try out YouShop before July 31st and use my discount code ANNA10 to receive 10% off your shippings costs.

Happy shopping everyone!

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