Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (8-14 October) – and a first year anniversary!

 

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

Last week marked one year of Thrifty Finds! I’m not sure where the time has gone but am so pleased that, despite a new job and less time, this series has kept me blogging.

I have plans for further series and have been drafting lots more posts, but thank you for sticking with the blog while I adjusted to a new schedule.

If you follow me on instagram you’ll see that is where I tend to post most often.

But I like the feeling of community that blogging offers and especially welcome comments and thoughts from readers. (or ideas for any posts??)

And, please share your Thrifty Finds too!

This past week I ended up making quite a few charity shop purchases (which wasn’t the intention!)

  1. I finally bought a new handbag! This is a big achievement for me as my current one had been broken for about three months 😦 But I’m really fussy about bags: it’s got to be the right size, have the right handle and not be too boring (!). I had almost resigned myself to buying something firsthand (at about £40 – ouch!) then came across this one for just £4 in the Dorothy House shop in Malmesbury at the weekend.                         I also snapped up the £2 purse which had such a fun pattern (now I shall smile every time I open it up).  
  2. And I made use of the old bag by cutting out the internal purse. I now use this to store a fabric shopping bag and keep in my handbag at all times.

3. I also bought a few children’s books from the Oxfam shop in Malmesbury:

l-r: The Woolpack by Cynthia Harnett; Party Shoes by Noel Streatfeild; Children in History: The Nineteenth Century (pub 1961).

The latter I bought out of interest as I imagine it is really quite dated. I’ve started to have a ‘read aloud’ book with my younger girls as a way of spending time together, sharing stories and taking turns in reading. At the moment we are reading A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley, who is one of my favourite children’s authors.    When I was younger I loved the Ballet Shoes series by Noel Streatfield, but have never read The Woolpack. I’m hoping one of these will be our next read-aloud book.

4. Carrying on with the reading theme, I was luck enough to receive the latest Barnardos Retail leaflet in the post. I love how they use actual donated clothes to show how these can be styled as up to the minute outfits. I’d recommend picking up a copy  next time you pop into Barnardos.

And, although not free, I did treat myself to ordering the first edition of this beautiful magazine, Creative Countryside. Filled with gorgeous images, inspirational writing and seasonally themed, this is something I am taking time to savour and read, bit by bit. The article on ‘Bookish Hygge’ really resonated with me and made me wonder if all the book buying I have been doing recently is in preparation for the darker nights ahead…

5. On Saturday we spent the day at a Sustainability fair in Malmesbury, Wiltshire (hence the charity shop purchases!). It was a really interesting day with lots of speakers, including Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato. The brilliant Wiltshire Scrapstore was also on hand providing free kids’ activities. My younger two got involved with making masks:

 

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

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

Scrapstore Halloween

Last year I wrote this post about our second-hand Halloween. Since then the decorations got damaged and had to be thrown away. Thankfully we had picked up a big bag of ‘scrap’ from Wiltshire Scrapstore in the summer and had lots of material left to make some new spooky decorations.

As you can see from the picture below, we re-used some Scrapstore netting and turned it into a giant cobweb. We made some spiders from circles of black foam and some very simple ghosts from some old white fabric.

Scrapstore Halloween Decorations

 

Last year we had to get rid of our old tent, after 12 years, but I kept the white fabric from the sleeping compartments and for this Halloween we turned it into a very simple ghost.

Halloween ghost using old fabric

I have to confess I ‘stole’ this idea from Pinterest but I think it looks quite effective. We used three garden poles and attached a stuffed carrier bag to the middle one. We draped the fabric over the three poles and used some wire to create a head shape.

'Tent' ghost

 

The giant pumpkin came from the allotment of a friend who was raising funds for Diabetes UK. I’ve tried to save as much flesh when carving it and hope to turn it into something tasty.

Hope you had a fun Halloween!

A Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Scrapstore Birthday Party

Today was my youngest daughter’s seventh birthday. She had requested a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme as they had been reading the book in class.

In my usual cheap way I decided to make use of what we already had at home, while also taking a trip to the wonderful Wiltshire Scrapstore. I have blogged about this great resource before. We are very fortunate to have the scrapstore (and its High Street shop) only twenty minutes’ away in the beautiful village of Lacock. At the beginning of the school holidays we took a trip the scrapstore – a great holiday activity  in itself. For just £7 I got this massive bag of scrap paper, foam, ribbon, cellophane wrapping and other odds and ends:

Wiltshire Scrapstore bag: ideal for party decorations!

 

At home we got creative, making large liquorice allsorts from black and orange foam. We also blew up some balloons to make giant jelly beans, and then hung them all from ribbon to make a sweet-themed entranceway.

oversized sweets made from Scrapstore materials

Having scoured Pinterest (of course!) for other decoration ideas I stole this idea for balloon lollipops. They were wrapped in cellophane (some scoured from the scrapstore, other sheets left over from floral bouquets) and then attached to the inner tubes of wrapping paper:

Not pictured is the purple bunting that I picked up from the rubbish bin at Cock and Bull festival last weekend. Having given it a good wash and iron it was as good as new.

We also used the bag of Scrapstore materials, and other ‘junk’ to make a couple of party games. Imagine our delight at finding the sheet of gold card, which was perfect to turn into golden tickets for both a treasure hunt, and party thank you notes.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: golden ticket game

I also used my ‘art’ skills to recreate this Willy Wonka for party guests to pin the hat on (apologies to Quentin Blake!):

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party

The Scrapstore also supplied us with a craft set as a prize for pass the parcel:

Wiltshire Scrapstore craft set

Finally, as I may have ranted on about before I HATE party bags and all the plastic tat and waste that they create. I haven’t given out party bags for years and, instead, tend to hand out birthday cake and a craft item that the children have made during the party. This time I scoured local charity shops for second-hand Roald Dahl books. These were wrapped in the plain brown paper from an Amazon delivery, and a golden ticket thank you and small bar of chocolate was attached.

The party was small scale but everyone seemed to have fun. We’ve also got loads of scrapstore materials left over which will keep us all occupied over the summer – and I’m sure provide decorations for the next birthday party in our household.

 

 

 

second hand books as party thank yous

It’s (Rubbish) Festival Time!

Last weekend I volunteered at a local festival and found myself sorting through other people’s rubbish….

The  Cock & Bull Festival is run by the charity Jamie’s Farm and held on a small farm in Wiltshire. If you haven’t heard of Jamie’s Farm before it’s a great organisation. It works with vulnerable children, and those with challenging behaviour, from urban schools. The children come to stay on the farm and learn important skills that help them when they return to the classroom.

The Cock & Bull Festival has been running for five years. It’s a very small-scale event with 500 festival goers and many volunteers. In return for a free ticket I did three shifts: setting up, food prep, and (early on a wet Sunday morning) the rubbish shift.

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The latter was probably one of the least glamorous things I have ever done. In the  rain we had to collect rubbish and recycling bags and sort through them so they went into the correct containers to be taken away. Landfill rubbish costs the festival a lot of money every year so, as well as the environmental aspect, it makes financial sense to reduce their garbage footprint as much as possible. This could have been such a depressing shift yet, working alongside the very committed and knowledgable Jenny who had volunteered to run the recycling for the entire weekend, I learnt some valuable lessons:

signs, signs and more signs! There were lots of notices around the festival site (and on the website here) labelling what rubbish could go where. This really helped when sorting through the trash. But I think you need even more concise labelling- and more containers – to make sure nothing gets contaminated and to avoid confusion ie plastic disposable coffee cup lids, plastic straws, coloured paper napkins, wooden cutlery etc.

 

re-usable plastic cups are good. I already had my husband’s re-usable pint glass from Glastonbury but also bought this one (below). When buying your first drink from the bar you had to pay extra to get the re-usable glass, which (in theory) you used all weekend.

re-usable pint glass from Cock & Bull Festival 2015

festival fancy dress can be a REAL pain to recycle. On the Saturday night of the Cock & Bull Festival there is a procession. This year’s them was ‘Insecticider’ so there were lots of homemade (and shop bought) costumes that, by Sunday morning, had been consigned to the rubbish bins. It was good to see so many costumes made from the Wiltshire Scrapstore supplies that were contained within the festival’s craft tent. However, not so great to untangle and try to sort for recycling. (My own costume was an old green jumpsuit with cardboard legs attached and homemade green antennae, ie a grasshopper!)

 

it really is true that one person’s trash is another’s treasure! While I try to avoid taking home things for the sake of it (I passed on a Jamie’s Farm t-shirt as I wasn’t sure I would wear it again) the bunting and mason jar (below) will come in very handy for decorating my daughter’s birthday party next week:

festival pickings: one person's trash...

We also found three pairs of brand new marigold gloves that had been part of a bee costume. These were turned to good use as we wore them to sort through more rubbish. And I must also confess to finding a few bottles of unopened booze which made their way home…

– as I suspected, Cafe Bars generate the most waste. I work in a cafe and I know that, when we offer the disposable option, this is the least environmentally friendly option. At the festival only half of the disposable cardboard cups could be recycled and, of course, the pesky plastic lids couldn’t be recycled at all. I took my trusty Lakeland thermos with me for all my lattes but, of course, this doesn’t fit underneath the coffee machine so they had to use a disposable cup to make the coffee in the first place! This is something I am more than aware of (at my work I use china cups for the coffee shots) – I need to figure this one out when ordering takeaways in the flask.

Overall I was really impressed with the effort the Cock & Bull Festival had made to reduce rubbish. Festival goers, too, seemed very willing to take part in recycling and reducing as well. Interestingly I think this was more prevalent on the main site where there were lots of signs and everyone was doing the same thing. On the campsites there was definitely more landfill and unnecessarily dumped food and drink.

On a personal point I really enjoyed volunteering and have come home a little evangelised having sorted through so much rubbish. Maybe everyone who attends a festival should experience this shift. It’s made me realise more than ever that there really is no such thing as ‘away’ when you throw things away.

 

 

 

Second-hand Halloween

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We are currently enjoying the half term holidays here: ten days off school filled with playing, making and exploring. I always enjoy the October half term as the weather can  be good, local attractions and museums are still open for us to explore with our visitor pass, and there’s Halloween at the end. Over the past 24 hours we have been getting ready for Friday evening and adding a few second-hand touches:

Picking up Trick or Treat buckets from Oxfam shop:

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We picked these up for 49p each. I know they’re made of plastic but at least we will be re-using them.

In turn I also sorted through our existing Halloween costumes and donated a couple through our local ‘Free, For Sale or Swap’ facebook page.

Decorating the house with Spooky Scrapstore

Last year we paid a trip to our local scrapstore and picked up some Halloween craft sets and other props. The black netting has proved to be a great buy from the scrapstore. I’m not sure what it’s original purpose was but it has served as a Pirate’s fishing net and, now, enormous spider’s web.

Making Halloween Treats

So I confess I have bought wrapped sweets to give out to Trick or Treaters but my six year old has also made a few cupcakes decorated with ‘blood’ icing:

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Making home-made costumes

We do have our share of cheap supermarket costumes, kindly given by grandparents, but I always prefer home-made outfits. However as the girls get older they want more choice in their Halloween clothing. This year two of them are adapting their own old clothes for a ‘Zombie’ look. I had intended to re-use part of our old tent to make a ghost outfit but I have no takers (unless I wear it that is!).

Second-hand pumpkins?

We’ve been busy carving our pumpkins and this year I do intend to save the flesh – and maybe seeds – to make some Autumnal soup. It’s so much easier to throw the scraps away, and I do wonder how good the the taste of mass produced pumpkins are.

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Green Halloween

I don’t want to go on about how Halloween has become more commercialised since I was a kid. I have to say I really enjoy this time of year. Trick or Treating is great fun where we live: it’s gentle, family friendly and over by 8 o’clock. BUT there is also a lot of waste and every year I wonder how I can make it greener for my family. There is a great movement in the US called Green Halloween.They organise national costume swap days and come up with ideas for healthier, less wasteful treats [at present it looks like their website is under reconstruction but they’re still worth a look]. Maybe this is something I should look into for next year and try to encourage a more second-hand spin to the festivities.

 

 

 

 

 

Second-hand crafting with the Scrapstore

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Yesterday we paid a return visit to the fantastic Wiltshire Scrapstore. I had previously posted here about a trip to Barty’s, the Scrapstore shop in the beautiful village of Lacock. This time we ventured to the Scrapstore’s HQ and warehouse on a small industrial estate outside the village.

Once inside the warehouse you can pick up a carrier bag, or larger bin bag, and cram it full with all sorts of donated scrap: yogurt pots, egg boxes, paper, ribbon, foam, card, bottle tops and much more. All the materials are donated by businesses, and with some of them it can be hard to figure out the original purpose. For example one of the most popular items seem to be these sticky foam circles:

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They are brilliant for craft making with kids. Just peel off the sticky cover and you can stick as much stuff on as you want. In the past the girls have turned them into birds’ nests, spiders and these:

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I have no idea what they were originally intended for, but am grateful to whichever business donated them and avoided them being sent to landfill. I also picked up these large cardboard shapes (I think they’re meant to be folded to make boxes?). I thought they would be great to turn into Spring flowers, or maybe little chicks with beaks?

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At the end of our visit we had a carrier bag crammed with goodies which came to a grand total of £3!

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I also picked up some of these pre-cut themed sets as an alternative to Easter eggs for my nephews and nieces:

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What I love about the Scrapstore is that it closes the loop: waste products no longer required by businesses are turned into craft supplies. I know that personally my children (and myself!) have spent many happy hours using our imagination to turn this scrap into some great craft.