Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds ( 26 June – 3 July)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

How was your week? Did you make any thrifty purchases, donate anything or choose not to buy?

This past week I have been raiding the library, meal planning and making my own cat deterrent spray for the garden!

  1. Following our huge monthly supermarket delivery I have tried to stick to a meal plan, and reduce waste. This has had mixed results – due to last minute family plans we had to swap meals around. I also threw away a few items (I’m going to start to keep track of what I actually put in the bin as I underestimate our food waste)
  2. I popped into the library on my lunch break and picked up a few parenting books. The ‘Simplicity Parenting’ book has been on my wish list for ages.

library, parenting, borrowing

 

3. I also made my own cat deterrent spray for the garden! My husband has been doing some serious landscaping in the garden and the freshly dug soil has created a lot of interest from the local felines. I  googled ways to get rid of cats from your garden and, apparently, a citronella and water spray is good. So I have covered the soil with loads of this mixture, in the hope to deter them from using our flower beds!

citronella spray, cat deterrant

4. We go on holiday in six weeks’ time and I am trying to get organised about budgets and packing. I have started to create a clothing list for myself: most of which I plan to get from second hand shops. You may remember that last week I also started my hunt for second-hand books to take on hols.

5. I’ve also started to investigate the best way to spend money overseas. We are going to France and, as it’s our first time since the Brexit vote and drop in exchange rate, I am bracing myself for a more expensive trip. I’ve found the Money Saving Expert website really useful for tips like whether to buy currency in advance or use credit cards/pre-loaded money cards. I’ve also been researching where we are staying, and our journeys so that we can budget for excursions, petrol and tolls (for the first time in four years we are driving, rather than taking the train).

And finally it’s the start of Plastic Free July. Although I’m not taking part in it this year (see my post here from 2014) I’m hoping to keep to many of the plastic free habits I have got into over the past few years. (Although I failed at my first hurdle on Saturday night when I went to a party and used a disposable pint glass!) Take a look at their website and see if there’s anything you can do – or are already doing – to reduce plastic waste.

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too – or if you’re taking part in Plastic Free July. Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (19-26 June)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

How was last week? Have you cooled down since our mini heatwave here in the UK?

Here are some of my Thrifty Finds from last week:

  1. The weather was really hot here! It got up to 30C plus which is hard to live in when you don’t have air conditioning and life has to go on as normal. I located our two portable fans from the loft and we got by on closing windows, drawing curtains and staying inside (our stone cottage stays lovely and cool downstairs; upstairs is a different story though). We also did things differently: at the beginning of the week I took the girls to the play park at 7.30pm because it had only just started to cool down then! I also said ‘no’ to a picnic lunch at work because it was too hot to go out.
  2. When the weather cooled down towards the end of the week I did go out on my lunchbreak for some charity shop browsing, which I hadn’t done in a while. While I resisted a couple of dresses (see my Instagram feed) I bought a pile of books (total £4.60)

second hand books, charity shop books

Two of the books are for my holiday reading pile. I thought this one was particularly prescient, given the recent heatwave (and hottest day since June 1976!)

second hand books, charity shop books

3. These two books were for a friend who had a nasty horseriding accident and has suffered a badly broken leg 😦

Shell be immobile for most of the summer; I thought a couple of good books might help her to get through it. I’m just so relieved the accident wasn’t more serious.

4. Friends came round for a meal on Saturday night and we ended up with some leftover pudding (which they kindly made).

5. We survived to payday with very little food in the house and ended up eating the last of the freezer meals on Sunday. However this past month has been rather chaotic, shopping wise. I usually place one large supermarket order to last the  month, and then top up with regular veg box delivery/trips to the greengrocer in Corsham, plus doorstep milk delivery. This past month, however, I did a smaller online delivery and, as a result, we have been spending a small fortune each week on ‘top up shops’ and have gone way over budget! So it’s back to one large monthly shop for July and if we don’t have it, we don’t buy it (apart from fruit and veg).

By the way if you are a UK reader have you been watching the latest series of Eat Well for Less ? It’s a really informative series that tries to help families who are overspending on, and throwing away, a lot of the food they buy. Every episode I find I am picking up some useful tips (and recipes), even if I think I am quite organised when it comes to meal planning and shopping.

What are your tips when it comes to food shopping? I’d love to hear about all your Thrifty Finds. Please  share them on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Second-hand shopping in Bristol (Park Street)

I realise it’s been ages since I last posted a Second-hand shopping in.. post, but a recent trip to Park Street, in the centre of Bristol, inspired me to add to the series.

I don’t profess to be an expert in all the locations for second-hand shopping in Bristol, but the centrally located Park Street is a good starting point.

Park Street extends from Bristol Cathedral and College Green uphill towards the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery (free entry and well worth a look). Being Bristol, there is also a Banksy located half way up the street.

Park Street is bustling with lots of coffee shops, cafes and a smattering of art galleries. Although selling first-hand items, The Guild, is well worth a look at for homewares and gifts.

But it’s the second-hand shops that really catch my eye.

Just parallel to Park St, located on Queens Road, is the Cancer Research Shop which is worth a browse.

The two stand out charity shops on Park Street, though, are the Oxfam Bookshop and Sue Ryder shop.

Second hand books, Oxfam

The Oxfam Bookshop (officially on Queen’s Road) is two floors of paperbacks, hardbacks, specialist texts, vinyl and more. It is a book-lover’s paradise and I could easily spend a few hours browsing here! For second-hand bibliophiles there is another Oxfam Bookshop,located  just over a mile away in Clifton.

Further down Park Street, The Sue Ryder shop is crammed with vintage goodies! There is a dedicated retro clothing rail that seems to go on for ever… For an over-organised person like myself I love that it is colour coordinated too!

vintage clothing,secondhand shopping, Sue Ryder charity shop

 

I spotted this Laura Ashley dress on the rail; made in Wales, which automatically dates it to pre 2005 (see this post here)

vintage clothing,secondhand shopping, Sue Ryder charity shop, Laura Ashley vintage

The shop also sells a good range of second-hand vinyl, which can be a little pricey. It also has a wonderful curved shop front which I love!

Sue Ryder, charity shop, shop window, Bristol

Beyond the charity shops, Park Street is also famed for its vintage clothing shops.

Squashed between two bigger stores, the diminutive Uncle Sam’s American Vintage is overflowing with secondhand clothing, imported from the US. It is also Bristol’s longest established vintage store, specialising in outfits from the 1940s to 1980s. Unlike many secondhand clothing stores, it also has a good selection of menswear.

 

Another Park Street favourite, Sobeys also has branches in Exeter and Cardiff. I do like this store but, for me, it’s a little too young. Everytime I step inside they seem to be playing Duran Duran (which I love as an old school Duranie!) but the 80s and 90s themed stock tends to remind me of what I used to wear at the time. Being slightly more mature, ‘vintage’ for me harks back to earlier eras. But they do have an excellent range of dungarees and, once more, cater for male customers too. Similarly, BS8 (not pictured) is a vintage store that caters for a younger market but certainly worth a browse.

If you’re new to Bristol then Park Street is a great place to start your second-hand quest. Other areas such as trendy Stokes Croft and upmarket Clifton are great locations to browse in too, and miles away from the mainstream, High Street stores of Cabot Circus and the out of town mall at Cribbs Causeway.

Thrifty Finds

This fortnight’s Thrifty Finds ( 9 – 23 April)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

How was your Easter break?I’m sure it seems a long time ago. I just realised I didn’t post my Easter week Thrifty Finds so thought I would combine the past two weeks into one post.

Our Thrifty Finds were:

  1. During the school holidays we took a trip to London to visit the Churchill War Rooms (not cheap: £51 for our family ticket). The younger kids travelled free on the tube and we managed to get an all zone travel card for our 15 year old for £6. We took a picnic and later had a great value Chinese buffet in China Town for £8 each (or only £5 each if we’d had the food to go). Despite the attempt at educating the kids on World War Two, they seemed to enjoy playing in Hyde Park and visiting Primark (my eldest) more than anything else. This has led us to re-evaluate what we pay for days out and, rather sadly, have decided that unless they are really interested in a subject, it’s just not worth paying for a ticket 😦
  2. We also had a trip to Bath where I managed to return a couple of items. We changed a pair of shoes in Clarks for my youngest as the style was hurting her ankles. I also managed to exchange the supposed bottle of olive oil that I’d bought in Holland & Barrett – turns out it was chilli oil instead!

 

3. We continued with our hunt for Friends DVDs. The kids have really got into the series and we’ve been gradually buying the series second-hand. We found season five in a charity shop and snapped it up for £6. UPDATE: We got through that series pretty quickly and managed to pick up season six in another charity shop for just £3.

 

4. Every Easter holiday the village school organises an Easter Trail. You buy the trail sheet for £2 and follow the map around the village guessing the clues that people put up outside the houses. This year the theme is ‘Famous People’. It’s a really cheap and easy thing to do and easily fills a couple of afternoons during the school break.

5. We also took the kids swimming to the local leisure centre. During the school holidays children swim for free so that saves us quite a lot of money. Having children ranging from 15 to eight it’s also one of the few things we can do that everyone still enjoys.

6.Last weekend my husband picked up a couple of second-hand records at a World Record Store Day event. I also bought a couple of books from a charity shop.

Did you have any Thrifty Finds this Easter?  Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (27 March – 2 April)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

This past week I tried to get more organised with giving things away, and planning for the month ahead.

  1. My husband fixed the vacuum cleaner! He used another one of the replacement belts I had ordered, and succeeded where I had failed 😦 We now have a spare belt in case it happens again.
  2. For my book group we are reading Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes. One of the joys of working in Bath is being able to pop into the library and pick up a copy (or order it via the excellent Libraries West service). They had a copy on the shelf so I was able to borrow it straight away.
  3. I’m trying to be more organised with getting rid of items we no longer need. Instead of letting them pile up by the door, I have a box in which I am putting them. The plan is to take donations to the charity shops as soon as anything is put in the box. Again, one of the joys of being in Bath is being able to pop out on my lunchbreak and drop stuff off at a charity shop (and have a quick browse while I’m there!)
  4. The beginning of the month means a) clearing out (and cleaning) the fridge and cupboards; b) meal planning for the month ahead; and c) ordering an online delivery.                                                                                                                                Because I don’t have much access to the car and hate food shopping, I have got into the habit of shopping once a month. It’s a money-saving tip I first picked up from Danielle at the Blissful and Domestic blog. The idea is you shop once (apart from fresh milk, bread, some fruit and veggies) and you shouldn’t have to visit the store again for that month. If I run out of things I have to make do with what I’ve got.                                                                                                                                     In order to do these I have to meal plan for the month. It takes quite a while to work out what we are going to eat (which can depend on what we are doing later in the month, ie birthdays, day trips, Easter meals etc). But once the meals are planned, and the food ordered and delivered, that’s it for the rest of the month.

Over on instagram I have been sharing the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics of my cupboards and fridge (if you like that kind of thing!). The aim is to show how we go from a full fridge to an empty one by the end of the month by posting pics every week. In my view, an empty fridge means I’ve planned well for the month and haven’t had to throw food away.

Before and after my monthly delivery:


Empty fridge at the end of the month

 

 

5. On a sad note, we have had to give up the garage we rent 😦 We own one car (see the post here about living in a small rural community with just one car) but, due to the location of our cottage, we have nowhere nearby to park it.

A few years ago we started renting a garage at the far end of our road. This seemed like the answer to our dreams: no more struggling to find a parking place (and annoying neighbours); a guaranteed parking spot at all times; and safe, secure and weather-proof parking under cover.

However, the housing association whom we rent the garage from are selling off all their garages and we had to vacate ours by today. The one advantage is that we only stored our car and roofbox in the building. Lots of neighbours used them for storage and, for the past few weeks, have been busy clearing out and moving all their stuff. I’m just glad that we don’t have that much stuff that we need extra storage for it, but am sad that we will now be adding to the parking problem in our village:(

Please let me know about your Thrifty Finds -and your tips for meal planning and food shopping – on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Jumble Sales Hints and Tips

 

Jumble Sale sign

Tomorrow is our school jumble sale and I thought I would re-post this piece I wrote last year offering some hints and tips. Having experienced the other side of selling at the jumble sale last year I can say that you do need sharp elbows. But if you turn up a little later and avoid the ‘professionals’ you can still bag yourself a bargain. At  the end of the sale last year we reduced/gave away items for free as we didn’t want to be left with them. But before you start to haggle too much at your local jumble sale just remember this is a fundraising event for a good cause….

 

jumble sale tips

 

For some people this word fills them with dread. The thought of queuing in the cold and then elbowing each other to sift through a pile of old clothes makes them shudder.

For me, though, some of the best and unique outfits I have ever picked up have been from old church and village hall sales in my youth. In fact some of the vintage items I blogged about here came from our church jumble sale when I was a teenager (the  Blanes dress is now worth  $130-£180 and I probably only bought it for 10p!)

1950s summer dress

Here are my Top Tips:

1. Be prepared to queue and, once inside, there will be some jostling and  you may need to be forceful if you want to get to the front of a table.

2. The trick at a jumble sale is to not care about tossing clothes around. That original seventies dress might just be at the bottom of a pile of old t-shirts. By the time the sale ends, clothing will have transferred from one pile to another so you may find women’s jumpers side by side with children’s trousers.

3.  Another useful tip is to make sure you bring plenty of loose change and lots of  carrier bags. It helps the organisers and saves time so you can focus on the next pile of clothes, books or bric a brac.

4. While you may feel you want to haggle about prices do remember these events are being held to raise money for good causes. The joy of jumble sales is how cheap everything is anyway without having to negotiate a price reduction.

5. Why not consider volunteering at your local jumble sale? From personal experience it takes a lot of (wo)man power to collect and sort through jumble (not always a pleasant job: see below). One of the ‘perks’ of helping is to get a look at all the donated stuff before it goes on sale. But if you are going to volunteer your services why not make it more permanent and help out at some of the charity’s other events too?

On a final note,  please do bear in mind when you donate to a local sale that items still have to be in a fairly okayish state (ie don’t give them that mouldy box in the corner of your garage that is filled with broken items and soggy old magazines!).

To find out when and where local jumble sales are taking place try looking at your local newspapers (in print and online) and other local listings websites.

Last year’s jumble sale haul (the orange scarf was one of my best buys from last year):

 

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (20-27 February)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

 

This past week has seen us do a lot of decluttering and I have tried to work through our freezer and cupboards without doing much extra food shopping. I also had a couple of evenings out, courtesy of work.

  1. The school Jumble Sale is this coming Saturday and at the weekend we worked hard to sort the loft. I have donated our home brewing equipment which we haven’t used for ten years; we have two car radios plus lots of books, clothes, toys etc. I also got my husband to go through a couple of boxes of paperwork which is a BIG achievement (think he has about ten boxes of work related papers, clippings, receipts etc stored in the loft). The end result is our conservatory is now cluttered with bags waiting to go to the school…

Jumble Sale sign2. I have decided not to do my monthly food shop until the end of the week (later than planned) as we still have quite a few things to eat from the freezer and cupboards. There are a couple of items I have had to buy but am hoping I can stretch other foodstuffs until the end of the week.

3. I was invited to a friends’ on Saturday night for a ‘girls’ night in’. The theme was tapas and I made use of a lot of items I had at home to make some Spanish/Mexican dips (guacamole, tapenade, salsa) and tortilla chips. I did buy some Manchego cheese and beers to take but everything else was made from ingredients I already had at home.

homemade guacamole, salsa, tapenade

4. Courtesy of work I got to go to a swish awards ceremony on Thursday and a gallery opening on Friday. My husband joined me for the latter so we got some grown up time together. If you live in Bath the Victoria Art Gallery has this new exhibition called History Through a Lens, which is a very thought-provoking exhibition of photographs from the past 90 years. Many of them are hard-hitting iconic images (current refugee crisis, war photographs, 9/11) so it’s not for everyone.

5. I’m now working my way through some borrowed reading books. I’ve just read ‘The Haunting of House Hill’ by Shirley Jackson  (borrowed from a fellow member of our book group) and picked up a library book called ‘The Somnambulist’ by Essie Fox.

What are you reading at the moment? Do you make use of your local library, or do you have any favourite second-hand purchases?
 You can share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram