Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (22-29 October 2017)

 

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richard scarry, pumpkin

Happy Halloween!

Well we had a great half term holiday and I really enjoyed being off work and spending time with the children. We had a very low key – and inexpensive – week:

  1. Every month I put aside some funds for ‘Days Out’. I used some of this to buy tickets for Westonbirt Arboretum, the national arboretum which is located about 40 mins from home. Autumn is the best time to visit this huge collection of 15,000 trees. The Japanese Maples, in particular, are stunning. Needless to say, though, this is also the busiest – and priciest – time of year to visit. We arrived early on Tuesday morning and really enjoyed walking the paths, playing in the trees and walking across the amazing Treetop Walkway. But just as we sat down for our picnic, the heavens opened! In the end, we retreated to our car and ended up going home earlier than planned 😦

 

 

2. While we didn’t get to do any den building at Westonbirt, the following day we took a walk around our own (free) Millennium Wood in the village. Here the girls spent ages making their own dens, while I enjoyed strolling around the small woodland.

 

3. I also used the half term holidays as a good excuse to sort through the children’s clothes. I had a few bags of winter clothing stored in the loft. We sifted through these bags and also went through their drawers and wardrobe to see what needed to be donated, or put away until next summer. In the end I had a huge bag of clothing which I gave away on Facebook.

4. Being the run up to Halloween, we also sorted through our big bag of Halloween costumes and decorations. Many of the costumes were given to use by friends and some of the decorations are years old, including our favourite spider webs made from materials bought at the local scrapstore.

5. We also carved our pumpkin – but I was determined to ‘save’ as much of this as I could. So I toasted the pumpkin seeds and made spicy soup.

Have you been pumpkin carving? Do you have any plans to make use of the leftovers?

 

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

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Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (16-22 October 2017)

Thrifty Finds

 

How was your week? Last week we were on count down for the school holidays (the girls actually broke up on Wednesday and Thursday). This week I’m off with them so looking forward to spending time together, while watching the pennies.

Last week my Thrifty Finds were:

1. I went to a Vintage Fair with a friend. I’ve been to a few of these before but this was by far the best. I really enjoyed browsing, and people watching (some of the customers were dressed in the most beautiful period pieces). I was very restrained, though, and just came away with some hair pins and a brooch:

 

2. I took the kids swimming on Sunday – for free. During the school holidays, swimming is free for children in our local area 🙂 . So we took advantage of this and went to a ‘fun and floats’ session.

3. In preparation for the school holidays I did a load of baking to keep everyone fed. I made a huge batch of rock cakes, lemon cake and some cupcakes. I don’t think they’ll last the week though…

4. My clever husband has been landscaping the garden this summer. He finished off our new deck this weekend with reclaimed railway sleepers and re-using some old stone chipping which used to be in another part of our garden.

5. Not quite a personal Thrifty Find, but some thing I had to share. At the weekend I came across this Community Fridge in Frome, Somerset. It’s centrally located in the car park and the idea is that you drop off your unwanted food and leave it for others to help themselves (or the other way round). What a great way to reduce food waste!!

Community Fridge

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (18-30 September) – and the end of the Repair Cafe :(

 

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I’m not quite sure how it happened but I didn’t post for last week (oops!). Sometimes things get very busy and, if I’m not sticking to my regular schedule, some things just fall off the list..

So I’m going to try to remember my Thrifty Finds for the last two weeks and post them now. (If you follow me regularly on Instagram you may spot when I add #thriftyfinds, which is more of a daily record of my frugal achievements, purchases and non-purchases)

  1. My daughter had torn her school skirt quite badly. Although I bought her a replacement skirt from M&S she was quite happy with the hand-me-down pinafore dress that was already hanging in her wardrobe. So I returned the M&S skirt and saved £12!
  2. I had a bit of a sort out and donated a couple of bags to charity shops.
  3. I finally got my baking mojo back and baked some cakes last week. One batch of fairy cakes has been frozen to use for lunch boxes later in the month.
  4. I also got organised and cooked two separate casseroles, which I then froze. On Wednesday and Thursday the kids eat at my parents so it’s only my husband and I who have to cook a meal when we come home from work. However the last few weeks we’ve just been eating convenience freezer meals and I am fed up with over baked chips! So last weekend I spent an hour making a beef stew (in the oven) and a chicken casserole (in the slow cooker). These have now been frozen and we’ll use them for instant meals after a long day’s work 🙂
  5. On Saturday we held the last ever Corsham Repair Cafe 😦 We have been running the cafe for the past four years (see here) and I am very proud of the work that we have done: nearly 200 customers have been helped; roughly 150 repairs have been made; and we’ve shown the local community that items can be repaired, rather than just thrown away.                     But, over the past year, volunteers and customer numbers have dwindled and, now that I don’t work in Corsham, it’s harder to find the time to organise and promote. So we took the sad decision to close the cafe.       However I’m delighted that, since Corsham opened its Repair Cafe in 2013, we now have regular Repair Cafes running in Bristol, Bath and Bradford on Avon. Corsham also has an active Men’s Shed who are able to take repairs on too.

I do feel slightly relieved (although also sad) that we’ve taken this decision. I really enjoyed catching up with the volunteers who gave their time, effort and skills to help mend broken items. But I am also looking forward to having more free time – maybe to pursue a new green hobby?!

 

 

Don’t forget to share your Thrifty Finds too! I do love to read them.

This week’s Thrifty Finds (4-10 September)

 

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I can’t believe it’s been nearly a month since I last posted! I hope you had a good summer and, if you went away, you had an enjoyable break.

We had a lovely holiday and if you follow my instagram posts you may have picked up a snapshot of what we did. While away, I used my net shopping bags for fruit and veg and we religiously used the free drinking water on the campsite (why do people have to buy SO many large bottles of water when they’re abroad? It’s only France for goodness sake and none of us got ill from drinking from the campsite’s water taps!)

Anyway, now we’re back and the kids have returned to school I can slowly get back to normal and post our Thrifty Finds from the past week. Please let me know what your Thrifty Finds were – or any you made over the summer holidays. I’d love to hear!

1. The Veg Box came when I wasn’t expecting it! So I had a glut of veg and fruit that I have been trying to use up. Last Sunday I spent the morning making soups and a plum flapjack cake.

2. It’s the start of the ‘free apple’ season in the village. A neighbour left this lovely sign outside her house and I helped myself to a few of the apples to make a fruit crumble. This also allowed me to use up some frozen stewed apples, rhubarb from the veg box and even some blackberries I had picked and put in the freezer last year!

3. Like many of us, Back to School means a lot of expense buying uniforms, supplies and shoes. This September I have staggered the purchase of shoes to fit in with the monthly wages. So, my youngest daughter got new shoes in June as her feet had grown quite substantially; we bought shoes for my middle daughter at the end of July as soon as schools broke up; and my 15 year old picked up some (cheap but fashionable) school shoes at the beginning of this month. If I had paid for all three girls to buy school shoes from Clarks at the same time it would have cost  £120! My eldest has really outgrown their styles anyway and, as she will be finishing after GCSE exams, I don’t mind if she has a less hard wearing pair of shoes.

4. I read on another blog about being able to get a free audio book download from Audible. So, before we went on holiday, I signed for a free trial and picked up ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ (narrated by David Tennant) for free! This weekend I cancelled the subscription so that I won’t be paying for it once the trial finishes.

5. I also cancelled a magazine subscription that the girls weren’t reading. I felt quite sad as it was a science magazine aimed at kids, but they just weren’t interested 😦

And finally … my September task is to look at our existing budgets and adapt them for the new school year. The girls seem to be doing less paid for activities but I also want to plan for the next 12 months. Once my eldest leaves secondary school we will need to pay for her transportation costs to college. My middle daughter will be starting secondary school so we need to look at uniform and travel costs for her. There are also school residential trips, extra GCSE tutoring, end of school Prom etc to pay for. And who said state education was free?!

If you have school age children how do you pay for uniform, supplies and activities?

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

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

 

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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)

 

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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

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds

 

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Last week was a rather strange one, given that it was bisected by the General Election.

1. Pre election I managed to get back into cooking and baking, and using up leftovers. I made soup from some Sunday lunch veg and baked cakes with some brownish bananas (the latter to keep us going on election night).

2. not quite a Thrifty Find but I do need to make a decision as to whether I continue with my veg box. I ended up composting a fair bit of it last week 😦

 

3. On election night I was very good and, at the North Wiltshire count* I avoided the pre-wrapped biscuits and disposable cups and bought my own snacks and reusables.

4. We received a few gifts last week. Friends came to dinner and bought some homemade goodies:

l-r: biscotti, elderflower cordial, chipotle ketchup 

5. And we had a visit from Grandad who gave the girls a new (to them) Wii!!

*my husband stood as Green Party candidate; see my previous post for more.

What were your Thrifty Finds! please share on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram