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.


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…


Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds


This Week's Thrifty Finds via

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 (27 March – 2 April)


This Week's Thrifty Finds via

This past week I tried to get more organised with giving things away, and planning for the month ahead.

  1. My husband fixed the vacuum cleaner! He used another one of the replacement belts I had ordered, and succeeded where I had failed 😦 We now have a spare belt in case it happens again.
  2. For my book group we are reading Absolute Beginners by Colin MacInnes. One of the joys of working in Bath is being able to pop into the library and pick up a copy (or order it via the excellent Libraries West service). They had a copy on the shelf so I was able to borrow it straight away.
  3. I’m trying to be more organised with getting rid of items we no longer need. Instead of letting them pile up by the door, I have a box in which I am putting them. The plan is to take donations to the charity shops as soon as anything is put in the box. Again, one of the joys of being in Bath is being able to pop out on my lunchbreak and drop stuff off at a charity shop (and have a quick browse while I’m there!)
  4. The beginning of the month means a) clearing out (and cleaning) the fridge and cupboards; b) meal planning for the month ahead; and c) ordering an online delivery.                                                                                                                                Because I don’t have much access to the car and hate food shopping, I have got into the habit of shopping once a month. It’s a money-saving tip I first picked up from Danielle at the Blissful and Domestic blog. The idea is you shop once (apart from fresh milk, bread, some fruit and veggies) and you shouldn’t have to visit the store again for that month. If I run out of things I have to make do with what I’ve got.                                                                                                                                     In order to do these I have to meal plan for the month. It takes quite a while to work out what we are going to eat (which can depend on what we are doing later in the month, ie birthdays, day trips, Easter meals etc). But once the meals are planned, and the food ordered and delivered, that’s it for the rest of the month.

Over on instagram I have been sharing the ‘before’ and ‘after’ pics of my cupboards and fridge (if you like that kind of thing!). The aim is to show how we go from a full fridge to an empty one by the end of the month by posting pics every week. In my view, an empty fridge means I’ve planned well for the month and haven’t had to throw food away.

Before and after my monthly delivery:

Empty fridge at the end of the month



5. On a sad note, we have had to give up the garage we rent 😦 We own one car (see the post here about living in a small rural community with just one car) but, due to the location of our cottage, we have nowhere nearby to park it.

A few years ago we started renting a garage at the far end of our road. This seemed like the answer to our dreams: no more struggling to find a parking place (and annoying neighbours); a guaranteed parking spot at all times; and safe, secure and weather-proof parking under cover.

However, the housing association whom we rent the garage from are selling off all their garages and we had to vacate ours by today. The one advantage is that we only stored our car and roofbox in the building. Lots of neighbours used them for storage and, for the past few weeks, have been busy clearing out and moving all their stuff. I’m just glad that we don’t have that much stuff that we need extra storage for it, but am sad that we will now be adding to the parking problem in our village:(

Please let me know about your Thrifty Finds -and your tips for meal planning and food shopping – on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Inspiring reads (for a wet Sunday!)

On my journey to learn more about minimalism and slow living I’ve started to collect a few books that offer hints, tips and guidance. Yes I know this works against the minimalist mantra of having few possessions (especially books) but I like to think that those I keep are valuable to me. I certainly dip into them a lot and find their contents to be very inspirational:

Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson

I do have a slight crush on this French women who lives with her family in the US, has a beautiful clutter and waste free house and dresses wonderfully using a very small wardrobe. Her book 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 (not even for her meat and fish which goes straight into the jars). For further information take a peak at her website here or watch this fascinating youtube video:


The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

This was the first book on minimalism that I bought (well actually it was the second as I returned the first). It’s written by Francine Jay, aka  Miss Minimalist  and is both a  good introduction to minimalism and a practical guide to decluttering your home and your life.  I often use it when tackling one of my rooms in my never ending quest to reduce stuff.

Timless Simplicity by John Lane.

This beautifully illustrated book was published nearly fifteen years ago. It fits in with the minimalist ethos but talks more about stepping away from a busy, consumer lifestyle and has more of a spiritual dimension to it. It has passages devoted to the simple pleasures of food and eating, the garden, homemaking and just being present in the everyday which I find inspirational to read.

Less is More by Brian Draper.

I picked this up last week in a charity shop. Like the above book it talks more about spirituality and of being present: appreciating the sights, sounds and things going on around you rather than being busy planning the future.

Books by Amanda Blake Soule

Amanda’s Soulemama blog is very popular. She lives a gentle, self sufficient life homeschooling her family in the US. Her blog has beautiful images and words (especially the Friday image posts) and her books are full of handy crafting projects to do with the family. She doesn’t pursue a minimalist lifestyle but she seems to endorse a slow living lifestyle, away from the fast paced consumer driven world.

The Green Parent Magazine

I can’t tell you how much I love this magazine. I started reading it in 2005 when it was very new and (despite my best intentions not to hoard) I have kept every copy since. It is is created in Sussex by a small family unit and speaks to everyone (parent or not) who wants to pursue a gentler lifestyle. I have to confess I have written a few articles for the magazine in the past but don’t let that put you off….

There are also other books which I have read (but not kept), borrowed from the library (or have on order):

 The Power of Less – Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta runs Zen Habits, an extremely popular blog about minimalist living. This book was the first one that I bought on the subject but it didn’t quite fit in with what I needed at the time. It seems to be more about creating a better work-life balance, which wasn’t so relevant to me then. His blog is definitely worth a read, though.

Tom Hodgkinson – How to be an Idle Parent; How to be Idle

Tom Hodgkinson is editor of The Idler magazine, an annual (now online) publication that extolls the virtues of doing nothing, or doing it slowly and taking pleasure in what you do. I borrowed the ‘The Idle Parent’ from the library and loved its laid-back, hands-off approach to parenting.I came across ‘How to be Idle’ in a charity shop but as I had already purchased ‘Less is more’ I decided to order it from the local library and read it at leisure.

The Minimalists – Everything that remains

I was luck enough to catch The Minimalists on their UK book tour last year. I am currently trying to order this from the local library. When you borrow a book from a UK public library the author(s) receives a small fee which is worth bearing in mind when buying/borrowing books.

I’m sure you may have other suggestions to add to this small reading list – I would love to hear them. Happy reading!

Borrowing books.

This year I am really trying to a)  reduce the number of purchased books that come into our house and b) increase the number that are given away. It’s not because I’m a book-hater. I love reading and grew up in a home that had lots of books.  However I do want to reduce the amount of things in our house (see my initial post on minimalism here). Adhering to the philosophy of William Morris: ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful’, I am trying to keep only those things that I assign value to. This means books too and so, among the books that I own, I am trying to keep only those that have given me real pleasure and/or I will re-read.

I am also looking at different ways in which to read books without keeping them. The idea is that they come into the house and, once read, are taken out again. I am calling this system: Avoiding the Bookshelf. I have a theory that if a book is placed on the bookshelf it will stay there, regardless of its worth or whether it will ever be read.

So I have borrowed books from friends:

Borrowing books


And I have also lent out books, some of which I will give away if I know I won’t read them again:

Borrowing books

I’ve also made use of the local libraries. I am lucky to be able to borrow from both the Wiltshire Library Service (we have a mobile library that comes to the village once a week. I can order books in advance and they will arrive on the van) and Libraries West, which covers Bath, Bristol, Somerset and South Gloucestershire. This is my current borrowed pile which features some eco sewing books and a really interesting read, ‘Overdressed’ about fast fashion in the US.

Borrowed books on eco sewing

'Overdressed' book about fast fashion in the US

Bit by bit I’m also trying to tackle the technological side of reading books. I have borrowed an e-reader from a friend which I’m learning to get to grips with. The girls have also ‘borrowed’ digital books from Libraries West and I have downloaded an audio book, ‘The Girls of Slender Means’ by Jean Brodie which I then forgot to listen to!

Second-hand books: April roundup

This month (April) we seem to have acquired a few new (to us) books. Youngest daughter picked up two books from charity shops over the Easter holidays:

Husband picked up a bargain Stephen King from the library sale:


Plus I got two books to read (when I get the chance as the pile by my bed is growing):

I particularly want to read the Tove Jansson book as I loved the Moomin series as a kid and this is a part-autobiographical novel.

Finally I picked this book on the Tudors for my eldest who has some homework to do in history:


I don’t know if you can read the label on the book but I picked it up from the British Heart Foundation shop and it says: “Read me then bring me back again.” This is a simple reminder that, even if we buy second-hand books, we can re-donate them so that they become third-hand or fourth-hand. I also dropped off some books with the Oxfam Bookshop in Bath and they had a plea asking for more stock so I must remember the ‘one in, one out’ mantra I am trying to apply to all our book purchases.

Books, books and more books…

This may be the first, but I’m sure it won’t be the last, post on books. I LOVE Second-Hand bookshops and still hanker after running a little bookstore by the sea one day. In the meantime I make do by picking up as many books for free – or on the cheap. Our bookshelves look something like this:


and this:


(Can you tell that I’m quite sad and colour code my books?). The bookshelves, by the way, were made from reclaimed floorboards many years ago.

We do have more books in the loft but as a) we plan to move at some point and b) we are running out of space I am also trying to declutter our collection which is a very hard thing to do. So every so often we have a cull and take the books to Skoobs Book Stall in Bath, at the Guildhall Market. They buy and sell a wide range of secondhand paperback fiction.

I’m also a member of Read It, Swap It which allows members to exchange books for free and just pay for the price of postage. As I belong to a Book Group this has been a great way of sourcing books.

But the biggest source for books has to come from our local library. We have a library van that comes to the village once a week which has a fairly decent stock of books, audio cds and dvds (and can be a godsend during the school holidays when I am with the children and without a car). By using the library services’ online catalogue, we can also order books to be delivered via the van. The girls also visit the library in the local town every Saturday after swimming lessons. However the result of lots of trips to the library can mean that we lose track of all the books in our house. This weekend I found quite a few that were overdue (oops!) plus this letter:


Yes, where was Wally? That book took quite a long time to find!

Here are some of the others borrowed by the girls:




And for me- a beautiful story: