Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds

 

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

 

We are definitely on countdown to the end of term and I have a lot of Thrifty Finds purchases to make this coming week.

Meanwhile, last week’s Thrifty Finds included:

  1. I found a couple of items on my holiday clothes list:

The white shirt cost £10 from the Save the Children store in Bath. Although it is slightly pricey it was in excellent condition and just what I had been looking for. Over the years I have picked up a couple of cheesecloth shirts from charity shops. The fabric is just so lovely for wearing over tops in the summer. Despite breaking my Golden Rule of never taking anything WHITE on holiday (it’s a pain to keep clean and also to wash) it will be going in my holiday suitcase.

I also picked up the blue playsuit from the same store for £7. I do like it, and it will be great to wear with swimwear on holiday. However I’m beginning to wonder if it is a little too small…

Anyway, two things ticked off the list!

2. This past week – and this coming one – are really busy. I am home alone with the kids, and it’s drawing toward the end of term with all the concerts, shows, presents etc to arrange. So I have spent some time writing out a schedule so that I can be organised, and know where I need to be and when. I also cancelled a couple of appointments at the weekend just so I could take a breath……

3. Which brings me to the thorny subject of Teacher’s Thank Yous. I have written here and here, both on my attempt to produce affordable gifts – and to also step off the conveyor belt of the End of School Year. This year I, once again, purchased some personalised thank you cards for the girls to write their own messages in.

4. My daughter spent the week taking part in an amazing work experience opportunity at The Egg Theatre in Bath; a purpose built children’s theatre adjacent to the Theatre Royal. She had a wonderful week: working with other students to produce their own show, and learning all about budgets, behind the scenes work, costume buying, marketing etc. She applied for this work experience on her own and I am very proud of the initiative she used. We also got to watch the show at the end of the week for just £4 each. The entire week was fully funded as well and has really inspire her to pursue a career in the arts.

5. On Saturday we had one of the best events of the year in our village! For the second year running The Festival on the Hill was held in three venues and featured some brilliant local bands. Tickets were only £10 each. I also got to use my reusable plastic pint glass for all my drinks 🙂

 

You can also 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)

 

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

 

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

I realise it’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted my Thrifty Finds 😦

Things have been busy here with kids off school and my other half is standing as a candidate in Thursday’s election (post to follow).

So, apologies for the lack of posting. I hope you’ve still been able to secure some Thrifty Finds, or looked at different ways of stepping off the consumer treadmill for a while.

  1. Re Game of Thrones. We finished Series Five via the library. Then my husband got a free subscription to NowTV with his phone. So, we are now working our way through Series Six….
  2. I’ve been getting into a new habit of making more use of the health food/bulk store in Bath. I’ve been visiting Harvest on Walcot Street to get filled up with washing up liquid (my bus stop is outside so I can do it on my way home)
  3.   I also try to make use of the health food store in Corsham, Green Ginger. I got very excited when I spotted these washing up brush and scourers – both made from recycled materials. You can buy replacement heads for the brush as well.

4. The big news is that I got a new (to me) mobile phone! My first ever smartphone (yes I know I’m rather slow!). My husband had traded in his old mobile and, with that money, I was able to buy a second-hand iphone 5 from the Games Exchange shop in Bath. I also signed up to a deal on ee which has given me some money back to my Qudico account.

 

5. Finally, we went camping over the Bank Holiday. Every year we camp with my  school friends, and their children, in the New Forest. The weekend is a great opportunity to catch up with good friends, let the children run wild and enjoy some good food (and drink). Apart from camping fees it’s low cost as we all bring food to share. We barely leave the campsite as well – instead we just talk and go for walks.

What did you do over the Bank Holiday weekend? Hope the weather stayed dry for you!

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

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (3-10April)

 

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

This past week we continued to eat our way through the once a month delivery of food. To top up supplies I did:

  1. Change my regular veg box order from medium boxes of veg and fruit to just one small veg box (no potatoes). Some weeks I do really well with my veg box but other weeks some of the stuff can end up in the compost, which I know is a complete waste of food and money. I’m trying to be better and only order when I really need it, and change the order depending on what we need.

2. With this in mind, I made sure I used up most items within a few days, even if we didn’t eat them. I roasted some of the tomatoes and courgettes, to make a pasta sauce later in the week. I also tried my hand at wild garlic pesto (stored in an old Nutella jar):

Wild garlic pesto organic veg box

Wow! Normally I add the wild garlic to a little salad or soup a little half heartedly – and then end up composting the rest.But this recipe really worked to help extend its shelf life. Although I added a couple of spoonfuls to some pasta, the taste was a bit TOO strong (although it would have kept vampires at bay!). But, I have kept it stored in the fridge and am now using it as a replacement for garlic cloves in recipes, adding a teaspoon at a time to dishes.

 

3. On the food front I also topped up the olive oil in my cupboard as I ran out earlier in the week and hadn’t ordered a replacement. My local Holland and Barret store has a large oil refill station. You buy the glass bottles, fill them with oil and then pay. Next time you return to the shop, you just refill the glass bottle and pay only for the oil. I love that mainstream stores are now offering zero waste products and services. When I saw the oil and sesame oil reduced I had to buy it. Once I’ve used these bottles I can keep returning to the store to fill up, thus encouraging repeat custom.

 

 

4. My daughter helped to collect the eggs from the school hens and came home with some beautiful eggs on the last day of term – perfect timing for Easter!

Multicoloured eggs pastel hens eggs

5. On Saturday night we went to a fundraiser for Alzheimers Society. We took part in a quiz, enjoyed a ploughmans meal and bought a few raffle tickets. We ended up winning a Ghostbusters 1 & 2 dvd plus big bag of popcorn – perfect evening entertainment for the school holidays!

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

Zero Waste & Plastic Free Bloggers to follow

package free grocery shopping

Oh the world of Zero Waste/Plastic Free can be a beautiful one: full of gorgeous waste -free interiors and kitchen shelves stocked with glass jars holding package-free food. But, even the most photogenic blogs reveal a serious side to them. Those Zero Waste bloggers that I follow are working very hard to reduce their impact on the environment. Whether it’s avoiding all packaging and taking only glass jars and canvas bags to the store; reducing cosmetics to a bare minimum, or refusing all things plastic, their blogs carry a serious message and call to action. Here is a selection of my favourites:

Zero Waste Home

inspirational reads: Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

Bea Johnson is author of ‘Zero Waste Home’. Her book (and blog) is full of practical tips on how to eliminate waste in your house. For example she goes shopping with bags and glass jars and doesn’t accept any packaging. Being French (although living in California), she also has an amazing minimalist wardrobe, and wears only home-made and packaging free cosmetics. An online tour of her home also shows that she practices what she preaches:

Plastic is Rubbish

Blogger Polythene Pam is passionate about plastic – and avoiding it. The British blogger behind Plastic is Rubbish went plastic free in 2006 and hasn’t looked back. Her blog is packed with useful information and campaigns. She also has a very comprehensive directory of where to purchase non-plastic items and how to avoid packaging.

plastic-is-rubbish blog

Treading my own Path

On the other side of the world Lindsay Miles writes the blog Treading my Own Path and is author of e-book ‘That’s A Wrap – the eGuide for Plastic-Free Living’. Lindsay takes some beautiful photographs and it’s worth following her Instagram account here too  For a snapshot of ‘a day in the life’ try this blog post here.

Zero Waste Chef

I really like the Zero Waste Chef, Anne Marie Bonneau. She subscribes to a packaging-free life and cooks without waste, yet she does it in a very human way. She has a tiny kitchen (see the post here) and admits when she’s made mistakes. She also writes a lot about fermentation and runs webinars.

Trash is for Tossers

Lauren Singer has been living trash free for four years and is one of the best known zero waste campaigners (along with Bea Johnson and Beth Terry from myplasticfreelife). She lives in New York and, okay, is one of those bloggers who has a photogenic life. But she is also very serious about her lifestyle choices, runs a small company selling organic, vegan cleaning products and has a host of zero waste tutorials on her youtube channel.

I also want to make a special mention for two blogging friends, Jen at mymakedoandmendlife and Zoe at ecothriftyliving. While they blog on general environmental matters their approach to living waste free and lightly are inspirational. And I must also mention Rae Strauss, who runs Zero Waste Week (first week of September) and is always full of tips on how to reduce the waste in your home.

And if you fancy sharing your own plastic-free tips and images join in with #plasticfreetuesday every week on twitter and instagram

A spot of plastic-free shopping with the secondhand tales household

A spot of plastic-free shopping with the secondhand tales household

Is Free Coffee worth it?

Is Free Coffee worth it? via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

At least twice a week I  commute to Bath. And, like many other commuters in the city, I stop at Waitrose to get my free coffee.

If you haven’t come across the Waitrose loyalty card before, you can use it to pick up free takeaway coffee/tea or get a big reduction on hot drinks in the cafe. When the supermarket first started the scheme a couple of years ago all hot drinks were free –  a rather over-generous, and unsustainable,  gesture on the part of the marketing team. As a result people only used the cafe for their free drinks, causing huge queues. Now the loyalty card has been refined and a special takeaway self-service station set up. You  have to get your card scanned in order to get a takeaway cup (which is pointless for someone like me who brings a reusable cup).

Free Coffee at Waitrose - is it worth it? via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

For the past few weeks I have been happily joining the queues to get my free latte and feeling rather smug when I produce my re-usable cup (while trying to inform people of the evils of disposable coffee cup lids in the process!). But a couple of things have got me thinking about this:

  1. On my walk into work I pass a small coffee shop. Despite being on a busy main road it’s not in the best position for passing trade and a friend and I have commented on this. Last week the manager handed out a free pre-stamped loyalty card to us. The idea was that if we came in and got a couple of coffees we’d earn enough stamps to get the next one free. I admired his attempt at reaching out to potential customers, but still happily passed by en route to Waitrose.

Bath coffee shop loyalty card

2. On my way back from a meeting at the Fashion Museum I passed by another cafe, The Boston Tea Party, which is part of a small chain. I was pleased to see they offered a discount to people bringing in their own reusable coffee cups. But I’d already got my free latte and didn’t want another shot of coffee that day. So I just passed on.

BUT if I didn’t get my free coffee from Waitrose I COULD have popped into the new coffee shop, or got my latte fix for a reduced price from Boston Tea Party. And slowly I began to wonder how many local coffee shops were struggling with customers because they were getting their daily cuppa free of charge from somewhere else?

A quick search indicates there are 82 coffee shops in Bath which is a huge number I know. Some of them have been established for years,making use of local and tourist trade. Others are more recent and, I believe, may not last as long as location and cost are pretty crucial. As overseas tourists don’t tend to have Waitrose cards it’s probably the local and national trade that is affected more by the free coffee from the supermarket (which also has a great central location). Anecdotally I have family members who will only use Waitrose to get their free cuppa when they are visiting another town – no matter how many great independent coffee shops there may be.

While I don’t have any hard evidence for the decline in  sales of coffee in other shops, particularly at commuter time, I’m going to make a change. I’m going to skip the Waitrose latte in the mornings and seek out some of the independents. I also want to locate those shops that give discounts to customers with their own cups. So watch this space…..

 

 

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (16-22 Jan)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.comSo now that I’m getting into a new working pattern my week is starting to look rather different. One of the biggest changes is being in Bath three times a week and having a lunch break. If I’m not careful I will be trawling charity shops a lot and my Thrifty Finds may grow ….

This past week, though, I was still quite restrained :

  1. I’ve had mixed fortunes  dealing with food waste this past week. I managed to use up the last of the Christmas mincemeat by adding it to a fruit cake. I also used up the water which I had kept after cooking some beetroots. I added it to some homemade playdough for the kids – which turned into a cool red colour.

homemade playdough made with natural beetroot dye

But, if I’m honest, I’m still struggling with the veg and fruit box and not using all the ingredients. I had to throw away a few mouldy oranges and a lot of lettuce 😦

2. I picked up a couple of books on Slow Living/Living intentionally at the library. I realised I hadn’t got a book from the library for well over a month. It was nice to have time to browse the shelves and, now my kids are older, I don’t have to head straight for the children’s corner.

library books as part of Thrifty Finds series on seoncdhandtales.wordpress.com

3. I finally received that refund for the delayed train last month (We were stuck on a train outside Sevenoaks station for over an hour!)

4. I went to a free lunchtime talk at Bath Guildhall. It was about the 50th anniversary of Bath Record Office. As part of my job I will be promoting this great service.

5. I’m struggling at the moment with the free coffee from Waitrose that I pick up every morning when I’m at work. I know I shouldn’t struggle with free coffee but I do wonder how it affects trade in the other local coffee shops. I’m currently planning a post on this. In the meantime I take my trusty re-usable coffee cup (and have already had a few conversations with people about it!). I also received double stamps on my loyalty card from another coffee shop because I brought a reusable cup!

Reusable bamboo coffee cup

And finally… not a Thrifty Find at all but I wanted to say that I marked last Friday by meeting up with the lovely Deborah from The Magic Jug blog. She had been in town earlier to help with the ‘Build Bridges Not Walls’ banner that had been draped over Bath’s historic Pulteney Bridge – to mark Trump’s inauguration  (see here). It’s always so lovely when you meet up with someone whose words you read on a regular basis. And last Friday it was even nicer to meet up with a similar minded person. I also watched and read all the coverage on the Women’s Marches which stirred my feminist soul and made me feel I really had to do something.

 

princess-leia via ladieswhodesign.com

You can download this poster via womenwhodesign website here

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