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

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Thrifty Finds

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

 

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

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.

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

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…

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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!

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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)

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