Thrifty Finds: last week in November

Last week I started my Christmas Shopping – by browsing the charity shops!

  1. I didn’t think I’d pick up much for the girls as now they are older they don’t really want anything second hand. However I did find two money boxes which I was specifically looking for. We have a big holiday planned for next year and I want them to save for it too. I had briefly looked for holiday-themed money boxes online but they were too expensive. However, a couple of trips to local charity shops resulted in me finding two ‘saving for holiday’ money boxes 🙂
  2. I also bought a brand new make up purse as requested by one of my daughters, for £2 from the Dorothy House shop.
  3. While browsing the charity shops I did end up buying a couple of Christmas themed items for the home:

I have been searching for some red cloth napkins for ages and was delighted to find a set of five (perfect for our family!) from Oxfam for £2.99. I also bought the Coca Cola tray (£1.99) and the Jostein Gaarder Christmas storybook

In the Dorothy House shop I picked up this brushed cotton bedding for £7, which is warm as well as very seasonal.

4. We also had a clear out of children’s books which I have donated to Oxfam.

5. Finally, although not a Thrifty Find, I did buy the girls’ advent calendars and our Christmas crackers from Oxfam.

Have you started Christmas shopping yet? Do you shop for second-hand gifts too?

Thrifty Finds : third week November 2018

I did manage some Thrifty Finds last week:

1. If you read last week’s post about my Christmas budgeting you would have seen that I use my Nectar loyalty points to buy Christmas items from Sainsbury’s. Last week was their ‘double up’ promotion and I was able to turn £25 worth of points into £50 to spend on selected wines. So now we have bought our Christmas alcohol- just have to try not to drink it!

2. Last Friday I had a training course in a town I don’t normally visit. I had time to browse the charity shops there which are significantly cheaper than Bath. I bought a good quality Christmas jumper for £4.99 (originally from Next) for my husband:



3. I also bought this Christmasey jumper for myself for £4.50. I like that it’s not overtly Christmas and that I could probably wear it for most of the winter:

4. I also went to the school’s Nearly New Sale on Saturday and bought a long sleeved navy t-shirt for 50p, a dress for £2 and this game for 50p. Phase 10 is an UNO-type game and has been on my wish list for ages. I was so excited to buy it!

5. On Sunday we took a trip to Bristol and parked in the free car park that  my husband can use through work.

Thrify Finds: Christmas Planning

 

As I don’t have any Thrifty Finds from the past week (sometimes it just happens like that), I thought I’d post about my plans for Christmas. Sorry to mention that word but it is only six weeks tomorrow!

A couple of years ago I wrote a three part series here called Saving for Christmas which detailed how I intended to save – and spend – for the festive season.

Although our finances have changed slightly (now that I am working part time) I will be using the same sources to fund Christmas 2018:

Annual Savings Every month I put aside some money for summer holidays, large family birthdays and Christmas. I plan to have saved £350 from this fund.

Nectar Points I’ve earned about £25 of Nectar points this year which I hope to exchange for £50 in Double Up points this week. I intend to buy our Christmas drink and some festive treats with this.

Quidco I’ve written about the Quidco shopping site before here and here. While I haven’t been as strict using it this year, it will still yield £43.16 in vouchers, which I will put towards Christmas presents.

Boots Advantage Points Every year I save my Boots loyalty points and spend them at Christmas. If I buy ‘three for two’ on gift toiletries I can actually get quite a lot for my money. At present I have about £13 in points but I’m hoping to grow that to £15.

Shopping in advance At the beginning of the year I shopped the January sales and bought all my Christmas cards and wrapping paper, plus some new (to me) decorations. I have also been buying a book of stamps with my monthly food shop to spread that cost.

Days Out Budget Every month I also save some money for family days out – whether it’s cinema trips, eating out or visiting attractions. I will use the cash from this to pay for an annual family meal and a few smaller treats on our ‘Bucket List’.

With regards to where I will shop for presents, I think that the days of buying charity shop gifts are drawing to a close. That is for my daughters, at least, who (at 16,12 and 10) are more fussy about first hand presents. If I can find some small, well presented items in good condition, though, I may still buy them. At present I’m looking for money boxes as they have a big summer holiday next year which we all need to save for. I will still be looking for Christmas tableware (esp napkins), books and games, though, for us to enjoy at Christmas.

Whatever I decide to buy, though, the one message that I stick to every year is don’t get into debt for Christmas!

Thrifty Finds: third week in October 2018

It’s been all about books this past week and my reading pile seems to have grown significantly:

 

1. I borrowed a book from the library, which we are reading for Book Group: ‘I am, I am, I am’ by Maggie O’Farrell. I always prefer to borrow, rather than buy, for my Book Group as I’m never sure if I’ll like it.

2. My husband bought me the brand new CJ Sansom book. I love the Shardlake series (detective novels set in the Tudor era) and have been waiting eagerly for the new one, ‘Tombland’. I’m currently reading it and can barely put it down!

3. I also ordered a parenting book secondhand from Amazon which arrived this week.

4. On other news, I’ve decided to stop drinking alcohol. It’s just for the moment and may only last until the end of the month – I haven’t quite decided. So I’ve been researching some non alcoholic alternatives. Buying drinks like no alcohol ‘G&T’ and low alcohol beer is so much cheaper- and I feel better for it.

5. The warm weather means I’m still harvesting tomatoes from the garden 🙂

Hope you are having a good week!

Second-hand book haul and ‘Les Parisiennes’ book review: June 2018

[note: I really thought I had posted this a few months ago but it’s actually been in my ‘Drafts’!]

 

If you have been reading my recent posts you will know that I picked up a few books while on a trip around the charity shops in Marlborough, Wiltshire.

It’s only been a week but I’ve already devoured the first book, Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba.

This had been on my wish list for about a year and I was delighted to spot it in the Oxfam Bookshop. Anne Sebba writes a balanced and very readable account of what it was like to be a woman living in wartime Paris. Her careful research has identified scores of Parisiennes, from very different backgrounds, who chose to either get on with life (as much as was possible), resist the invasion, or collaborate with the German occupiers and Vichy government.

Sebba writes about those women who chose to resist the occupying forces through simple acts (refusing to socialise with German soldiers) or violent and clandestine actions (often leading to arrest, torture and internment at a concentration camp). She also attempts to write sympathetically about those women who, through naivety or a sheltered life, or out of desperation, chose to collaborate with the Germans, or supported the puppet French government of Petain.

The author also examines the post war legacy of women who were affected by World War Two. She calls out the immediate post war treatment of those women accused of ‘collaboration horizontale’ i.e. sleeping with the enemy. Approximately 20,000 women were publicly humiliated, sometimes on the basis of flimsy evidence. She also talks about the length of time it has taken for France to recognise the heroic actions of those women who resisted (because they were not ‘soldiers’ in the traditional sense), and the disparity in the post war treatment between Jewish survivors of concentration camps and those from the Resistance.

Les Parisiennes, is such a well written, researched and enthralling read. By focusing on women in Paris in the Second World War, it allows a new voice to be heard and, as a female reader, makes me ask the question “what would I have done?”

This question is asked again in ‘Resistance’, another book from my recent haul. I have read this book before, based on an alternative history where the Germans did invade Britain during World War Two. The author, Owen Sheers, is also a poet and what struck me at the time was how beautiful his writing was. It is quite a few years since I read it- and saw the film-so I’m looking forward to discovering it again.

Finally, I picked up another Nancy Mitford novel, ‘Love in a Cold Climate’. Last year I found ‘The Pursuit of Love‘ at a charity stall and really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading the follow-up.

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What’s in your reading pile at the moment? Have you got a summer reading list?

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (8-14 May 2018)

 

 

Thrifty FindsSaturday was our village May Fair and I managed to pick up some bargains:

1. I made a beeline for the ever popular plant stall and bought some tomato plants and sweet peppers:

 

My small veg patch is starting to spring to life and, apart from the radishes, there are some faint signs of carrots and lettuces appearing too 😀

 

2. I also got these goodies from the Bric a Brac stall for just £8:

ThriftyFinds: Carlton Ware lettuce dish, jigsaw puzzle, tiffin set, Thermos flask

3. BUT I was very good and didn’t buy anything from the Book Stall!

4. I finally got a replacement head for our dish brush. I bought it ages ago because it was made from recycled plastic and you could replace the head. I bought the new head at the weekend and changed it.

Eco dish brush

5. I’ve been making more vegetarian and vegan dishes. One of my daughters is vegetarian but doesn’t eat cheese (in fact she’s a pretty fussy eater). So I’ve been experimenting with a few vegan dishes. At the weekend I made a veggie taco salad which went down well, even with the meat eaters. I also made a chill taco bake (baked on a Deliciously Ella recipe) and added cheese for all of us – except the vegetarian who had some yeast flakes sprinkled on her’s. That was another success (we even had it cold the next day) so I now have a couple more dishes to add to my repertoire.

 

Do you have to cater for a variety of tastes/diets in your home? Any tips and recipes gratefully received!!

 

 

charity shop find, Next, Dorothy House shop

Charity Shop Haul: my Coat Collection

 

 

As I look through my wardrobe I realise that one item of clothing that is completely second-hand is my coat collection.

I didn’t intend to buy all my coats from charity shops. In fact, I think that buying a coat is one of the most expensive and well-thought purchases you can make. In times gone by, I would have saved up for a winter coat (or asked for it as a birthday present) and it would have lasted me a good three-five years.

However, my approach to buying coats changed a few years ago when I found this beauty:

 

This Sainsburys coat still had its price label and was on sale at the Shaw Trust charity shop in Bath. While I hadn’t intended to buy a second-hand coat, the colour and cut was irresistible to me. The fact that it had never been worn was also a bonus. Four years later I am still wearing it and still get lots of comments – and compliments – on the colour!

 

Another charity shop bargain was my SeaSalt coat, bought for just £10 from Oxfam in Totnes. A quick trip to the neighbouring Seasalt shop confirmed my suspicions: a brand new version would cost £100! This coat has served me very well: especially on wet school runs. However, the zip has now broken and, alas, it is now too tight for me 😦

 

I got this red M&S jacket for free from a Clothes Swap party I helped to organise a few years ago. It serves really well as a light summer jacket and I do love the colour!

 

This year I have, already, purchased two new (to me) coats. The black hooded coat is the only second-hand coat I have deliberately hunted for. After a bit of a search in Bath’s charity shops, I found it in Dorothy House for £15. It was warm enough for a cold and rainy weekend in Birmingham and is my new school run/wet weather coat.

 

Finally, I found this lighter Spring coat by accident a couple of weeks ago in another Dorothy House store. This time it was only £8! I love the colour and the cut, and have a feeling it will make me feel as good as the orange coat when I wear it 🙂

 

charity shop find, Next, Dorothy House shop

 

I can’t imagine going back to spending £80-£100 on a new winter coat, now that I have fallen for the charity shop ones …. The low price and originality of each item really appeals to me. And, if I do outgrow an item I can just donate it back.

Do you buy coats from second hand stores? Or do you think it’s worth the investment to buy a brand new one that will last for many years?