That chance encounter I was telling you about…

Regular readers of this blog might be aware of my recent frustrations in terms of finding the time to “fit it all in”. Changes in Elliott’s routine have kind of thrown me into a bit of a wheelspin. Whereas 6 months ago you would have found me more or less successfully juggling all of the various elements of my life, the latter 6 months have seen me frantically treading water while I try and re-order and streamline my routine in order to adapt and get some momentum going again. Which brings me to the serendipitous meeting I referred to in a previous post. Sometimes life just puts you in the right place, at the right time, and gives you exactly what you need at that precise moment. Which was just what happened when I was waiting to purchase my 2 metres of cotton seersucker in a shop in London’s Goldhawk Road last Wednesday….

Ahead of me in the queue was a lady who looked familiar. I couldn’t quite place her. In any case, we got chatting about how brilliant Goldhawk Road was and how awful it was that the council were even considering demolishing the place. I can’t quite remember how, but we got onto the subject of her writing a book, and my writing a blog. I gave her my details, we went our seperate ways. Joanna emailed me that evening, she liked my blog, she sent me her book, I LOVED her book. SERIOUSLY people, was someone up there listening to me or what?? Check this out…

The lady in question, as I twigged a few days later, was none other than BBC News presenter Joanna Gosling. Yep that’s why she looked familiar! Months of early mornings and late nights with a newborn baby, with BBC News 24 on in the wee small hours, had clearly lodged Joanna’s face somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my mind!
Joanna is a working mother of 3 with a successful career in news broadcasting and now her first book under her belt, with another under way. So as much as any of us, she completely understands the drive to be all things to all people, all at once, and the pressure we can put on ourselves to meet such unrealistic (and usually self imposed!) expectations of perfection. All too often, it’s the “me time” that is sacrificed in the pursuit of these goals. The little indulgences. “Treats” that we can only allow ourselves to enjoy guilt free once the house looks “perfect” and all the chores are done. But since “a woman’s work is never done” those little indulgences and bits of “me time” seem desperately few and far between at times. Joanna’s book, entitled Simply Wonderwoman seeks, and in my opinion succeeds, to help redress that balance. To free up time for “me time”. It’s subtitle encompasses the spirit of the book in a nutshell. “A survival guide for women with too much to do”. Yep, that’d be me then!

The book is divided into two distinct sections. The first, a treasury of tips and tricks gleaned from friends, family members, her own experience, (oh and the occasional rock star), is aimed at saving time, money and effort. Amen to that! Every aspect of day to day life is covered from planning your day, polishing off the household chores in super quick time, to organising childcare. The brilliance of these tips and tricks is in their simplicity. There are some old favourites in there, but let me tell you peops, there are some real lightning bolt moments in the pages of this book. Ideas that made me slap my hand on my forehead and emmit a Homer Simpson’esque DOH!! Why had that never occured to me before!

There are some great ideas for budget and eco friendly household cleaning products. Tips for cleaning shortcuts that will see you banishing petty annoyances like oven cleaning and smeared mirrors for good (and no, not vinegar and newspaper. Something much much better!). Laundry, cooking and party planning are just some of the areas to receive the Gosling treatment. DIY is given the once over too. My personal favourite is decanting leftover paint into glass bottles. (hmmmm, I recognise those passata bottles methinks!) No more battling with the lid on the paint tin that doesn’t seem to want to go back on. (you know the scene. You tap it down on one side and it pops open on the other! Grrr!) Plus you can see at a glance what colours you have left, how much, AND it just looks so much nicer. See what I mean? Simple genius at it’s best.

Chore after chore is streamlined and pared down, with the sole aim of making more time for the “stuff that makes your heart sing” as Joanna puts it. Giving you the time and head space to escape to that creative place in each us.  Which is what the second section of the book is devoted to. Crammed into this section are loads of simple to do, satisfying creative “fixes”. Nothing in this section requires any prior experience, knowledge or particular skill level. They’re aimed solely at satisfying that urge to create in the form of manageable “bite size” projects that can be achieved in an hour or two.  All of which makes this a perfect “coffee table” book to dip into again and again…

My first reaction when Joanna offered to send me a copy of her book was an instant “yes please!”. Immediately I suggested reviewing her book here on my blog and organising a giveaway too (yep, that’s in the bag so stay tuned for that 😉 Then it occurred to me. Eeep! What if I hated the book? Could I write a lukewarm review or worse, be really enthusiastic about something I didn’t like? Ha! I needn’t have worried. From the stylish cover, great photography and easy format, to the “eureka” moments and cute crafts…there was nothing not to like. Reading this book is, in places, like having a girly friend sat chatting with you over a coffee exclaiming “you sooooo have to try this tip I picked up, it’s a-ma-zing!” There’s not a hint of that “look at me and how brilliant I am at doing everything” approach that can come across in other books/programmes of this ilk. Just a real understanding of how things can get on top of you and a genuine desire to share the things that work and help to make everyday life more manageable.

I’ve already implemented some of the ideas, and I concur, they absolutely do save time and effort. Yay! (Oh, and meaningful sewing has occurred for the first time in weeks 😉 I plan on picking one idea I love each day and implementing it. I’ll be back to sewing up a storm and “fitting it all in” in no time 🙂

Stay tuned for an interview with the lady herself, and the chance to bag a copy of the book for yourself 😉

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestGoogle+


  1. Molly April 9, 2012

    Wow, sounds like an awesome book that a ton of women could use!

  2. theperfectnose April 9, 2012

    Nice. Its good to hear about successful multi-tasking women that seem to be able to juggle it all. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Debi April 9, 2012

    WOW! What a fantastic encounter and what a fabulous lady! I loved hearing about her book. Even though I don’t have any wee ones, I’m sure all of her tips for streamlining the necessities of life to make room for the things that make our heart sing–are much needed!!

  4. didyoumakethat April 9, 2012

    What an absolutely fabulous story and insight into the genuine impulse behind writing this book. I love that the two of you met queueing up for fabric at Goldhawk Road – speaks volumes about a woman in the spotlight who gets out and shops for her own fabric in the best place possible. Rock on! Can’t wait to read the interview and take part in the giveaway. Most important of all, this sounds as though it’s given you a real energy boost. Hurrah.

  5. Michelle April 9, 2012

    Fab book review and looking forward to the interview x

  6. House of Pinheiro April 9, 2012

    Lucky girl… Fab story .. And count me in for the giveaway

  7. Jane April 9, 2012

    Serendipity indeed! Your chance encounter was obviously meant to be, how wonderful. Really looking forward to the interview and giveaway and the book sounds completely up my street, I LOVE the paint storage idea! Glad you’re getting your mojo back too Portia. x

  8. Sarah April 9, 2012

    I enjoyed hearing about this book, sounds like there may be some tips I could use, even if I would be substituting having kids for taking naps… 😉

  9. To Boldly Sew April 10, 2012

    This is a book I need to read! Love the chance encounter – v much looking forward to the interview!

  10. frk.bustad April 11, 2012

    Exciting! Sounds like the book for me 🙂 I like the fact that my flat already is full of dymo tags… Looking forth to the interview and giveaway!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *