Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds – and an inspiring documentary (for free)

Last week we were back into the swing of school routine and starting to think about Christmas (eek!)

This past week my Thrifty Finds have been:

1. Halloween took place last Monday and we were able to dip into our trusty bag of second-hand costumes and accessories to decorate. We have charity shop costumes and buckets, and a spider’s web made from some netting I picked up at the local scrap store years ago. Apart from buying some sweets we didn’t spend anything and made sure the plastic tat had another year’s life in it

2. I donated some unwanted jewellery to a charity shop (this is the season to clear out the clutter so I think there will be a few more trips to charity shops before the end of the year)

3. I had kept some plums in the fridge for over a month yet I was still able to bake with them at the weekend.

4. Not quite a Thrifty Find but the bloomin candle turned up this week and – I have to admit – I have got quite a lot of use out of it ! I don’t normally treat myself but the candle has been quite a lovely addition to the house. I deliberately chose a ‘timeless’ fragrance (sun kissed linen’) and it’s actually really nice….

Candle

5. And finally I got to watch, for free, the new Leonardo DiCaprio documentary on climate change: ‘Before the Flood’. It was free to watch on YouTube over the weekend. It’s powerful stuff: depressing but also offering solutions such as a carbon tax and looking at places like China who create more renewable energy than anywhere else on the planet. There are great opportunities afoot to slow down climate change, but there needs to be the political will too. And the film argues that the political will comes from us, the people. See more about the documentary here: https://www.beforetheflood.com

 

What were your Thrifty Finds for the past week?

You can also share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Advertisements

Corsham Repair Cafe celebrates its third year!

Corsham Repair Cafe September 19th 2015

Today our Repair Cafe celebrated its third birthday! What began as an idea inspired by the Dutch movement (repaircafe.org) has now marked three years at The Pound arts centre in Corsham, where I work.

Since 2013 we have made nearly 200 repairs which means these items have not gone to landfill. Our volunteers have helped people to fix broken toasters, clothing, chairs and even a puppet. Today’s items included a backpack, pair of trousers, coffee machine and a lamp.

backpack being mended at Corsham Repair Cafe via secondhandytales.wordpress.com

Sadly this Kenwood record player couldn’t be fixed with the materials that were available, but we’re hopeful the owner will be able to pick up a replacement belt online:

Kenwood record player at Corsham Repair Cafe via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

And we all finished with a well deserved slice of cake! Happy Birthday Corsham Repair Cafe!

Corsham Repair Cafe: third birthday

Zero Waste Week (and eating leftovers)

zero-waste-week-1024x683

Today is Day Three of Zero Waste Week, the international campaign run by Rae Strauss, the inspirational voice behind my zero waste blog. The initiative has been running since 2008 and its aim is to get participants thinking about their waste. This year’s theme is about reducing food waste and so I have been looking at ours.

We tend to be pretty good with using up food. I freeze quite a lot of prepared food. I tend to do one monthly supermarket shop and will often cook up batches of roast peppers and other veg, and then freeze them for use in pizzas and pasta dishes.

However I’m not so good with our fortnightly veg box. In principal I love the idea of an organic veg and fruit box, delivered to my door (I don’t have daily access to a car). However, hand on heart, I think we waste at least one item per fortnight because the kids won’t eat it, or it goes off quickly. And there’s only so many soups you can make…

organic vegetable box via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

This week I shopped at our local greengrocers buying just what we needed (according to our meal plan). In an attempt to prevent food waste I’ve also found myself eating leftover tea for lunch every day this week: two lots of macaroni cheese and, today the remains of a sweet potato and sausage casserole (plus some jacket potato remains and a serving of peas). The addition of some sour cream and chopped coriander actually made it quite delicious:

Zero Waste Week: sweet potato leftovers

I’ve also dug deep into the food cupboard and made use of these second-hand Oat Cheerios (second-hand because they were given by a friend who didn’t like them,but my kids weren’t fans either). Thanks to the wonder of Pinterest I turned them into chocolate cheerio bars.

Zero Waste Week: using up unwanted cereal via secondhandtales bog

 

If you want to find out more about Zero Waste Week have a look at the site and these tips here for reducing food waste. I also really rate the LoveFood,HateWaste website, which has some useful pointers about measuring portions.

Watch this space for more updates on my leftovers journey this week…

(If you like this post please follow me on facebook , twitter or instagram)

Plastic Free July: Failing to plan…

So, despite the fact that I have been trying to avoid some single use plastic for the past couple of years I still slip up by failing to plan. Sometimes I can be very good and take a  trip out with my disposable coffee cup/water bottle, spork, napkin and reusable bags.

But there are also times when I don’t think ahead. For example this week I went to see the wonderful Billy Bragg in concert (a great, therapeutic post-Brexit experience).

But I hadn’t even clocked that, at the bar, drinks would be served in disposable plastic glasses. This is something that is so obvious and, as someone who works the bar in an Arts Centre, I should have known this. Of course, because I couldn’t go without a pint of the local brew, ‘Funky Monkey’, I had to order the drinks in the plastic pint glasses.

What makes me even more cross with myself is that we have two reusable plastic pint glasses picked up from last year’s festivals:

reusuable plastic pint glasses

So, next time I go to a gig I must remember to take one of these. Sometimes I feel I need a crystal ball to predict what sort of disposable plastic products I will be faced with on a day to day business. And if I packed for every eventuality I would have a very heavy bag….

Still it’s all a learning experience and, as I promised myself, I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

On an unexpected positive note this week I ordered a t-shirt which, although it did arrive in a plastic bag, had only this fabric label attached:

Redbubble label

The label explains the care instructions and points customers towards its returns website. I was also very impressed that it was attached to the t-shirt with the wooden clothes peg, rather than those awful plastic tags that end up lost on the floor when you cut them off!

(If you like this post please follow me on facebook , twitter or instagram)

Plastic Free July article in Green Parent magazine

Green Parent magazine June/July 2016

A couple of years ago I took part in Plastic Free July; a worldwide initiative to encourage participants to cut down on – or eliminate – single use plastic.

I found it to be a really enlightening, yet frustrating,challenge. I learnt a lot about alternatives to plastic wrapping, straws, disposable cups etc but also discovered that plastic is everywhere. By linking up with like minded bloggers I picked up tips on how to go plastic free but also found out just how prevalent the material is (did you know there is plastic in tea bags and chewing gum?).

Suffice to say that I haven’t repeated the challenge but have tried to incorporate some of the things I learned into everyday life.

 

Anyway, to cut to the chase, I wrote an article on my experience of Plastic Free July for the Green Parent magazine and it is featured in their current June/July edition. I have written for them before (as I dabble in some freelance writing) and love their ethos and attitude. I also blogged about the magazine here as one of my go-to inspirational reads on slow living.

The Green Parent magazine is on sale in major newsagents and supermarkets or you can find it here. Even if you don’t have children – or your kids have grown up – I still think it’s a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to live a greener life.

(Plastic Free July 2016 begins next week on Friday  1st July. My blog post here summarises my thoughts at the end of the 2014 challenge)

(If you like this post please follow me on facebook , twitter or instagram)

Upcycling Denim Part Two: Jeans to Skirt

upcycled denim skirt

Since buying my denim sewing needles I have gone a bit mad with the denim upcycling! I mended – and then remade – some children’s jeans into shorts here.

I also embarked on a rather long, but fulfilling, project to turn an old pair of jeans into a skirt.

I started with this old pair of jeans which had been mended quite a few times, before being replaced by my second-hand Toast pair.

mended jeans

I started by chopping them off at the knees. Then I unpicked the inner leg seams on both the front and back:

upcycling jeans

However because I wasn’t paying attention when unpicking I accidentally unpicked an outer seam too on one side:

jeans to skirt

Still I decided to turn this ‘accident’ into a feature. I took an old (second-hand) skirt which I loved but which was far too tight:

skirt upcycle

So far, so good (ish). Because I wasn’t following a pattern and rather making the instructions up as I went along I then sewed the two back seams together (that had been previously unpicked from the trouser legs). This involved having to sew over some thick layers of denim. It also left a little triangle at the bottom which I patched with some of the green skirt:

denim skirt refashion

I also sewed some of the green skirt fabric down the side, which I had accidentally unpicked, but I didn’t add a patch to the front.

You can kind off see they were jeans and there is a fair amount of bad sewing in the project, but I like that it’s not perfect.

 

denim skirt made from jeans

 

Tomorrow is our quarterly Repair Cafe and I intend to wear this skirt!

Corsham Repair Cafe poster June 2016(If you like this post please follow me on facebook , twitter or instagram)

Springtime Walk

May walk

I’ve been laid low with a rotten cold all week (and even spent a day in bed). I’m starting to feel better but struggling to catch up with everything that needs doing, and preparing for two busy weeks ahead.

With that in mind, I took myself off for an uplifting walk. Last September I walked along this lane and photographed it (see here) and it’s lovely to see the seasonal changes.

On the left is how the lane looked in September; on the right is today’s photo.

 

May walkcountry lane, Wiltshire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directly below is the misty Autumn view across the valley; today’s view is underneath:

Wiltshire view in AutumnWiltshire view in May

On my September walk I had taken an image of apples growing on a tree. I’m pretty sure this is the same tree, covered in blossom:

May apple blossom

May really is a lovely time of the year. If my head wasn’t still full of cold I’m sure I could think of some appropriate adjectives….!