Book Haul: October 2018

I currently have a lot of books in my reading pile:

Tombland by CJ Sansom

I’m a huge fan of the Shardlake series by CJ Sansom. The lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, lives and works in one of the most tumultuous – and exciting – periods in British history: the Tudor era. Having previously worked for Cromwell, Henry VIII and Queen Catherine Parr, this latest novel is set during the short reign of King Edward VI. Shardlake now works for the Lady Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I) and is asked to solve the murder of her distant relative. The case takes him to Norwich and he becomes involved in one of the largest people’s uprisings of that period: the 1549 rebellion under the leadership of Robert Kett. Sansom’s attention to detail and descriptions really draw you into the era. The author has recently recovered from cancer and it’s a delight to be reading a new Shardlake novel.

The Read Aloud Family by Sarah MacKenzie

I’ve been wanting to get this book for ages – even before it was published.  Sarah MacKenzie is founder of the Read Aloud Revival, which emphasises the importance of families reading together. She believes that reading to, and with, your children is key not just to their academic success, but also to the emotional well-being of all.

I have always enjoyed reading with my children and have been feeling sad that, as they get older, books have become less a part of their lives 😦 My 16 year old – who used to devour every Jacqueline Wilson novel – barely reads now, and even my 12 year old hasn’t picked up a book for ages. I know that screens have replaced books, which makes me feel very sad, but I’m determined to keep reading going with my 12 and 10 year olds. Sarah’s book is full of lots of tips of how and when and what to read with your children and I hope to use some of them.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I loved The Hunger Games the first time I read the series. Although the films are enjoyable, the books reveal more and provide a deeper understanding of the life of Katniss Everdene and the Dystopian country of Panem.

I am currently reading this aloud with my 10 and 12 year olds and we are really enjoying it, especially the 12 year old who, as I mentioned above, rarely reads now. Although classed as Young Adult, by reading to the girls I can choose to edit any scenes that are too grown up. So far this hasn’t happened and, in fact, we’ve had some great conversations about the plot, characters and themes.

I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell

This is my current book group read and I was pleased to find it in the local library. Although Maggie O’Farrell is known as a novelist, this is actually autobiographical and it recounts her ’17 brushes with death’. Each chapter details a near-death experience, from plunging turbulence on a flight to complications in childbirth, and a chilling close encounter with a murderer. The chapters can be read in any order, rather like reading a collection of short stories (although you have to catch your breath after reading some of them!)

A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates

I found this novel by chance at the local library and the tale immediately grabbed me. However, due to the arrival of the other books in my pile, it has taken a back seat. So far, the novel tells of the murder of a doctor working in an abortion clinic in the US. The opening pages are quite shocking and I expect this to be a timely read on a subject which is a controversial one in the US.

Raising your Spirited Child by  Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

I managed to get this book second-hand via Amazon and, already, I have covered it with scribbled notes and post its. I have a daughter who is clever, funny, loyal but with big emotions which sometimes swamp her (and us as a family). So far this book has shown me that we are not alone in parenting a strong-willed, emotional and sensitive child and has provided some really useful strategies to engage with her and help to create a more harmonious family life.

What are you currently reading? Do you find that the darker evening s make you want to snuggle in bed and read a good book? My reading pile definitely increases in the winter months!

 

Thrifty Finds: second week in October 2018

 

It’s been fairly quiet here this past week. As I’m on a ‘no spending on clothes’ month I have avoided the charity shops on my lunch break, which may have saved some money…

  1. I turned the large gift of tomatoes into some delicious roast tomato and garlic soup, and took it to work.

2. I was gifted two butternut squashes from a friend. As they keep for quite a long time I haven’t worked out whether to turn them into soup or something else.

3. I borrowed a book from the library.

4. I had a good look at our budgets and started some forward planning for next year. In 2019 we have (potentially) two large financial decisions to make and I want to be sure we can afford them both. I also want to start saving towards having three months’ expenses put away in case of job loss or any other emergency. This is rather ambitious as it will take quite a while to do this but I fell happier having a ‘safety net’. Last year our car was written off and having savings really helped – ‘rainy days’ do really happen!

5. Following the UN Climate Change Report last week my husband and I have been talking about a couple of things we can do. We only own one car (which is a challenge in a small village – see here) and the girls and I use a bus or walk to school/work. I’d like to think our carbon footprint is fairly low as only my husband flies for work (usually once a year). But there is so much more we could be doing. I’ve been talking for ages about switching to a green energy supplier, but have failed to do something about it. We could also reduce our meat consumption. One of our children is vegetarian and we already eat a few meat free meals, but we could make more of an effort to switch to a plant-based diet.

second hand books, charity shop books

The author Mark Lynas will be talking at the North Wiltshire Sustainability Day in Chippenham this Saturday 20th)

Thrifty Finds: last week of September 2018

thrifty finds2Yes I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted 😦 I just found that I didn’t have any Thrifty Finds to write about, and had lost a bit of my writing mojo. But a weekend away in London with good friends has got me writing again …..

1. I finally got round to my mending pile which had been waiting all summer! I sewed buttons on a few items that had been missing them.

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2. For my weekend trip away I downloaded an audio book and magazine for free from my library app.

3. I also borrowed a colleague’s phone charger as I was leaving straight after work and had forgotten to pack mine.

4. While in London I visited the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A which I’d been wanting to see for ages. Her story is such an inspiring one: suffering all her life with pain and bad health, she still lived a fulfilling, creative and vibrant life. Her bright clothing, taken from her Mexian heritage, is such an inspiration.  I got half price admission with my Art Pass, which has been one of the best purchases all year 🙂

5. And despite being on a no ‘new’ clothes freeze I did buy this cute top from the Mind Charity shop for a fiver…Oops…

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This week’s Thrifty Finds: August 2018

 

 

Today (4 September) is the beginning of the school year and it’s time for me to get back into routine and post my recent Thrifty Finds. This is what we’ve been up to since our trip to London at the beginning of August (was it really a month ago?!):

1. We went on a short break to West Wales to visit friends who moved there last year. They have enough land for us to camp on BUT we forgot to bring our tent poles!! Thankfully they had a tent which we borrowed! We had a lovely break exploring the beautiful scenery of Cardigan Bay: an area that is completely new to us.

 

2. While there we did the obligatory scouring of charity shops (charity shops prices in Wales are a mere fraction of the ones we explored in London!). I picked up a dress for £3 and three champagne glasses for a grand total of 30p!!

 

3. For the first time I downloaded an audio book for free from our local library. When camping I find it uncomfortable to read at night so an audiobook is a good compromise. I ‘borrowed’ the latest Philip Pullman novel: ‘La Belle Sauvage’.

 

4. One thing I didn’t buy last month – despite trawling the charity shops – was a summer sun dress. I really thought I’d need it in the heatwave in London, and after we returned. However by the time we went to Wales the temperature had dropped and I’m glad I got by without.

5. However it can’t be said that I made ANY savings purchasing the girls’ school uniforms. At a total of £333 this was NOT a Thrifty Find! Most of this was spent on kitting out my middle daughter for her new secondary  school (despite getting some things for free from a friend). This means I have used up our clothing budget for the next couple of months, partly due to bad planning on my part 😦

Thankfully I have been able to pay for a termly bus pass for two of my daughters as I had been saving for the past year.

 

Have you had to spend a small fortune buying back to school equipment an uniform?

This Week’s Thrifty Finds: Week Three, June 2018

 

 

 

 

Last week we celebrated the end of my daughter’s GCSE exams with a camping trip 🙂 We meet up once a year with my school friends and, what has grown from five of us plus partners, is now a total of 20! It’s a wonderful opportunity to catch up, eat lots of food and enjoy the outdoors. The children all get along really well and it’s lovely to see them away from screens and climbing trees and having adventures.

  1. For camping food I took a lot of what we already at home: in the store cupboard and the freezer. I made some hummus from scratch using some chickpeas I’d had for a while. I also managed to buy some unwrapped fruit and veg (for the carrot saga take a look at my Instagram posts!)

2. We also borrowed a camping table from a friend, rather than buy a new one for the trip.

3. While camping we browsed the local charity shops (charity shops in Marlborough, Wiltshire, are packed with some real goodies – post to come soon!). I picked up three books from the Oxfam shop – one of which had been on my wishlist for a while:

 

4. My youngest daughter also picked up a book for 10p from the Dog’s Trust shop.

5. I was also proud that we managed to use just our glass milk bottles on the camping trip. I had searched for a screw top lid for the milk bottle as the foil one doesn’t stop the milk from spilling once opened. But no luck. Then I remembered I had a glass bottle left over from a free sample of orange juice, that did have a screw top lid. So I was able to take two pints and just decant an opened pint into the glass bottle with the lid. Problem solved and no need to buy any new gadget!

Do you have any thrifty camping tips to share? Or any ideas for camping with less plastic? I’d love to hear them!

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (19-25 March 2018)

 

Thrifty Finds

Hello and welcome to another week of Thrifty Finds. This past week I have:

1. Donated a bag of clothes to school for a fundraiser.

2. Saved £12 off a supermarket shop with a voucher I had.

3. For the first time I made a homemade waffle mix, which turned out really well! We have a sandwich toaster which also has a waffle plate. I hadn’t made waffles before and – for some reason – I thought they would be difficult. In the end I googled a simple recipe and discovered the waffle mix is very much like pancake batter (I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before!). I ended up making a double batch which lasted us two days :

4. A friend lent me the book for our reading group so I don’t need to buy it, or source it from the library.

5. Finally, my proudest achievement of the week: I took part in our annual Community Litter Pick. About 30 volunteers turned up on Saturday morning to help clear the village of rubbish. I went off to the Recreation Ground and spent about 90 minutes clearing the hedges around the football pitch and the skate park. I came across three footballs, one bike and lots and lots of plastic drinks bottles and crisp packets. I created two bags of rubbish. The total for the village was 40 bags of rubbish – 10 more than last year. But maybe this means there were more volunteers and more was cleared, rather than an increase in the rubbish that was produced?

IMG_2202What were your Thrifty Finds? Do you have any ‘thrifty’ plans for Easter?

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (5-11 March 2018)

Thrifty Finds

 

How was your week? Here are my Thrifty Finds from last week:

  1. I used a Sainsbury’s voucher to get £12 off my shopping 🙂
  2. I also received a couple of pots of hummus for free. My mum was given them at a place where she volunteers, but she passed them onto us.
  3. I picked up my second pair of glasses, which were free as the opticians was doing ‘Buy One Get One Free’. I’m going to keep them at work as I have been known to leave my pair at home and then have to squint at the screen all day long!
  4. The girls had their postponed World Book Day celebrations at school. I bought a cheap gingham shirt and we were able to turn it into Dorothy’s dress from The Wizard of Oz for one of my daughters. We also borrowed the book from a friend.
  5. Finally, I came across this wonderful idea in Bath:

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The Hot Water Bottle Network provides free hot water bottles for homeless and vulnerable people in Bath. The bottles hang on the railings outside Bath Abbey and people can help themselves. There is also a list of about a dozen cafes where the bottles can be filled for free. Such a great idea 🙂

Don’t forget to let me know what your recent Thrifty Finds are. Have a good week 🙂