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Op-Shopping 101

It’s a known fact that I enjoy op-shopping (thrifting) just a wee little bit.  If by a “wee little bit” you mean “more than ANYTHING IN THE WORLD!!!!”

If op-shopping was an actual job, I would be quitting the one I already have and preparing to have an awesome, joy-filled career.

In the meantime, here are a few tips and tricks if you are a newbie to op-shopping, or just one of those people who doesn’t really understand it and thinks everything will be stinky and gross and smell like old people :

  1. Be Prepared to Rummage : Op shops are not like regular stores – everything isn’t always neatly set out in sizes and colours with multiples of everything.  This is half the fun – you never know what you are going to find.  I know some people hate that.  They want to walk in and walk out with the item they wanted within minutes.  They do not enjoy the chase.  They are missing out on so much.  You have to be prepared to rummage and look through lots of racks and explore.  I personally think it is best to not go in with an exact “want” list in your head because, chances are, you won’t find what you’re looking for.  Just enjoy the search and see what treasures you can unearth.
  2. Wear sensible stuff : What I mean by this is you should wear easy-to-remove clothing items so that, when trying things on, it doesn’t take you forever and you don’t get hot and gross or annoyed.  Don’t wear button-up things (unless they are also easy to just pull off over your head) or pants that need belts.  In fact, avoid trousers if you can.  A skirt is a better option because you can pull things on underneath them.  That way, you don’t even have to get undressed or risk the dreaded op-shop curtain fling (that scary moment when someone yanks open your changing room curtain to “see if anyone is in here” – happens all the time, makes me want to punch people) when you’re sans clothing.  Ideally, a skirt and loose-fitting top works best – then you only have to get half-undressed at any given moment.  Wearing a dress means you have to take it all off if you’re trying on another dress.  But, then, I have been known to try things on over or under whatever I’m wearing.  It’s up to you.  Just go for simple and comfortable and easy to pull on and off.  Same goes for shoes, obviously – don’t wear things that have straps or buckles that need undoing.  It just makes the whole process more laborious.
  3. Where to go : When you’ve been op-shopping for most of your life, you learn the best places to go, and the places to avoid.  I have certain shops that I always frequent because they are cheap, clean and always have great stuff.  In WA, I really like Good Sammy’s.  They have the best prices (which are generally consistent across all of their stores) and they are organised well.  They have regular sales too – 50% off days which apply to all recycled clothing (as opposed to particular colour-tagged items).  I live in hope of those 50% off signs – they make me so happy :)   I find Good Sammy’s to be excellent for dresses, shoes and handbags, as well as for books, knick-knacks and other household items.
  4. Don’t Haggle : Op Shops are usually run by charities, who have to make a certain amount of money each week in order to remain viable. Their stock is already very cheap so please don’t ask for a discount of any kind, or haggle, or ask for the price to be reduced if you have bulk items.  Just don’t.  It’s rude.  If you don’t want to pay $3 for that cute little top (that is probably worth $25 new), don’t.  Walk away from it and look for something else.  I am the biggest cheapskate out, but even I won’t ask for a price to be reduced, regardless of condition of the item.
  5. What to buy : Obviously, buy what you like but don’t get caught up in the :Ooooh, it’s so cheap!” frenzy that sometimes affects us all.  Yes, you may be able to buy 15 black t-shirts for under $30, but do you really need to?  Find the one you like best and buy that one.  Just because something is cheap, doesn’t mean you need it.  It’s not a bargain if you don’t wear it.  Keep a look out for designer items you might be able to sell on Ebay, if that’s your thing.  Don’t buy items that require something else in order for you to wear them eg a sheer dress that needs a slip underneath it.  Sure, if you have a slip that would go perfectly underneath, then cool, but if not, put the dress back on the rack and keep looking.  It’s not very clever to buy something that costs you $5, if you then have to go and buy something to go with it that costs $25.  It’s false economy, and the chances of you ACTUALLY going out and buying the extra item are pretty slim.  Trust me, I know this.  I have learnt my lesson.
  6. Don’t shop hungry : As I said before, op-shopping is generally not a quick expedition, where you’re in and out in two minutes.  It takes time to rummage and try things on plus, if you’re lucky, you will have several op-shops in a row in one place, so you’ll be there a while.  Make sure you take some water with you so you don’t get dehydrated (shopping is thirsty work!) and it’s a good idea to have a little snack with you too – some muesli bars or a handful of nuts or whatever.  You make better decisions when you’re not hungry or thirsty.  You don’t want to go home with a pair of lime green stretch pants just because your bloody sugar was low and you momentarily lost your brain.
  7. Know your colours : It makes life easier if you know what suits you and what colours look best with your complexion.  You can scan past a whole rack of stuff and dismiss what doesn’t fit in with your ideal.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try new colours once in a while but, generally, you should stick to what works for you and makes you feel good about yourself.  For instance, I love yellow and mustardy colours, but I know I look like death-warmed-up in them.  They make me look like I am about to be violently ill or have some sort of plague.  I avoid them.
  8. Donate : There is a universal law that what you give out, you get back.  So donate your unwanted clothes often.  Have a good sort out and drop stuff off at the op-shop.  While you’re there, you might as well have a look round, right?
  9. Don’t discriminate : Go thrifting in lots of different places.  I know one particular op-shop that is situated in a less than salubrious suburb that has the BEST stuff.  Sometimes the “posh” towns have crappy op-shops.  There’s no guarantee that postcode equals quality – not in this case anyway.  Some of the smaller, slightly dingy shops in out of the way places have really neat stuff and, because it hasn’t been picked over by all and sundry, you can often find a bargain on some quality items.
  10. Don’t be snooty : Within reason, everything can be washed and disinfected.  I draw the line at buying underpants, but everything else is fair game.  I’ve bought some lovely kitchenware and mugs, Tupperware and cutlery from op-shops.  It just needs a good scrub and some hot soapy water.  A lot of the stuff hasn’t even been used – you can tell by looking at something if it’s lived a hard life.  Use your discretion.
  11. Take a buddy : I personally am happy to shop on my own, but there is something to be said for taking a like-minded friend along.  My cousin and I thrift together often, and we have a pretty good system.  Usually this system consists of me finding awesome things for HER to try on (because she is super skinny and fit and can wear anything) but we always have fun.  It’s good to have a second opinion on items you’re not sure of.  Someone who can shake their head and say “Um, no….” when you try to squeeze into that crushed velvet boob-tube.  If the other person knows your size, they can be on the lookout for things you may not have spotted as you trawl the racks.  A buddy can also guard your changing room for you and stop people barging in, or hold the curtain closed for you if it’s a tad on the not-wide-enough side.
  12. They have new stuff too!  Thrift shops sometimes also stock brand new items.  They get bulk amounts of “reject” products, ie things that haven’t sold somewhere else.  There’s nothing wrong with them, they’re just excess stock.  You can get undies and socks, clothing, and other items brand new, but at a fraction of the normal cost.  I must admit to buying my undies from my local op-shop quite often.  They’re $2.25.  I refuse to pay $10 or $12 for a pair of undies.  They’re a nice fit (I hate undies that ride up your butt!!!) and they are good quality and long-wearing.  I’ve also bought one of those new-fangled bamboo pillows at the thrift shop for about half the price of one in the regular stores.

So, there’s nothing to it, really.  Just go in with an open mind and find some treasures.  And be prepared to walk away with nothing and be ok with that.  The hunt is half the fun.

Happy thrifting everyone🙂

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Quote for the Day : Bees

“… the world is really one big bee yard, and the same rules work fine in both places: don’t be afraid, as no life-loving bee wants to sting you. Still, don’t be an idiot… If you feel angry, whistle. Anger agitates, while whistling melts a bee’s temper… Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved…”

— Sue Monk Kidd : The Secret Life of Bees

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Blogging Challenge – Day Thirteen : What’s Inside My Fridge

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My fridge is not the world’s most exciting appliance.  It is usually half-empty and, at times, contains very little in the way of actual food items.  I tend to wait until I am almost entirely out of groceries before I buy any more so I don’t double up or have lots of wastage.  I HATE wasting food.  It annoys me and makes me feel bad.  I am one of those people who cuts up slightly withered and sad vegetables for soups.  I try not to over-buy in the first place because I am just one person, and even I can only eat so much.

At the moment, because I am soon to move into my new house, I am trying not to buy too much stuff, especially frozen items.  The less I have to take with me, the better!  So my fridge is a little bit empty – it just has the basics – and I shop a few times a week, which is not very cost-effective but, for the moment, will have to be the way it is.

So, what’s in my fridge? :

  1. Cheese.  I am planning on reducing my cheese intake by about a million percent once I have moved.  I eat way too much and I am not supposed to actually eat much of it at all.  Currently, I have feta, colby and parmesan.
  2. Tofu.  Another staple.  At the moment it is silken firm tofu, because I want to make tofu burgers but, at other times, it will be firm stir-fry or marinated.
  3. Soy milk.  For tea!
  4. Rice milk.  It’s kinda gross but I am trying not to have too much soy.  I use rice milk in my porridge.
  5. Baby beetroot.
  6. Carrots.
  7. Lettuce.
  8. Cucumber.
  9. Spring onions.  Which reminds me, I should throw those out – they’re a little bit stinky and I don’t think I can even salvage them in a soup.
  10. Chocolate – not mine.  It’s been there for a year or two.  I should probably chuck it.
  11. Apples.
  12. Half a lemon.
  13. Leftover risotto.
  14. Jar of minced garlic.
  15. Jar of minced garlic and ginger.
  16. Sauces. A variety!
  17. Olives.  Actually, more truthfully, it is a jar with two olives in it.  I don’t know why it is still there and why I didn’t just eat the two olives.
  18. Eggs.  Well, a carton with one lonely little egg in it.
  19. Tin of tuna.
  20. Probiotic tablets.
  21. Sundried tomatoes.
  22. Synthetic erythropoietin injections. It is used to treat anemia, which is a side effect of renal failure.  I haven’t had to have the injections for about two years now.  I should probably ditch them.  I keep forgetting.  And yes, I will dispose of them thoughtfully at my local pharmacists’s.  They are nasty looking things (the injections, not my pharmacists).  I didn’t enjoy having to have them.  They are quite big needles and I had to inject myself in the tummy.  Not pleasant, but you do what you have to do!
  23. Sesame dressing.  Because I am addicted to it.
  24. The freezer is full of frozen vegies and long-forgotten wedges of quiche or other things I have made and, um, forgotten about.  There’s also Lebanese bread and some icy poles I made in the Summer which didn’t taste very nice and I didn’t eat.  Disappointingly, there is no ice cream.  This makes me more sad than words can express. *sighs*

And that’s it, really.  I’d like to say it’s overflowing with fresh fruit and veg, but I find I can’t eat it quick enough before it goes off, so I tend to buy it as I need it, rather than wasting any.  I go to a nice local market that sells really good quality produce and it costs half as much as the normal supermarket.  I will have to find a different market once I move, or make the trek down to my usual one (it’s worth it).

Hopefully I will be able to report, in my new house, that my fridge is full of lots of healthy fruit and veg with nothing I should be ashamed of (or have to hide in the back so no one sees it).  My plan is to be “good” and leave me comfort-eating (read : cheating) behind me.  That’s what new starts are for, right?

May your fridge, your life, and your heart always be full and blessed with plenty!
Thanks for reading.

🙂

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Adventures in Home Ownership

It’s fair to say buying a house is stressful and it’s one of the biggest decisions you will ever have to make in your life.  We all know this.  But, with all the stress, comes the pay-off.  You get to have your own place.  Everything in that place belongs to you (or, at least, the bank until you pay them back…sigh) and so each little thing because suddenly very important.  Hence me running around my new house on the weekend, being an idiot and pointing out all the bits and bobs that are now “mine”.

For instance….

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…this tap is mine (oooh, shiny!)….

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…this oven is mine (the previous owner left the tea towel behind…I am less excited about that…)……

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…the outdoor area is mine (the plants were already mine – I just lugged them over to the new place on the weekend…still another boot load to go!)…

 

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…I have a kitchen and it’s mine!  It’s a little bit seventies, but hey…so am I🙂

 

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…I have an enclosed outdoor area where I can entertain my hundreds of visitors!  Translation : I rarely have visitors, I will probably fill this with plants and possibly cats🙂

 

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…I have two toilets.  That’s pretty exciting, right?🙂

I’m really trying to be positive about things.  The whole home-buying experience was very so stressful and frustrating and mental-breakdown-inducing that it has taken the shine off the house itself.  But, I am hoping, once all my stuff is in, it will feel like home and I will get used to the new surroundings and neighbourhood, and not miss my little unit in South Perth.  I will miss being near the water, but maybe I will find other aspects of the new suburb that I like just as much.  In all else fails, I can get in my car and drive.  And stop being such a bloody hermit!

Apologies again for not posting anything craft-related (or vaguely interesting) for a while.  I will be back on top of things soon I promise.

Hope you feel content and secure wherever you are right now. Thanks for stopping by🙂

 

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Blogging Challenge – Day Twelve : Favourite Childhood Book

Howdy folks.  Yes, I am skipping challenges on the Blogging Challenge.  Just pretend you haven’t noticed ok?

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I was a big reader as a child.  From the age of six onwards, I always had my head stuck in a book.  I was the annoying kid in class who always finished the assigned reading way before schedule and had to be given other books to read while everyone else caught up.  Yeah, THAT kid.  I was like it in high school too.  It’s very possible I was the only one who actually READ the books we were assigned.  But I enjoyed them – everything from
Catch-22 to 1984, To Kill a Mockingbird and Animal Farm.  I loved them all.

My Mum always read to us when we were little and I suppose that’s why we always enjoyed books in general.  As a child, I loved stories with animals in them, but didn’t like anything scary or dark.  I remember one book I read gave me nightmares and actually made me physically ill so my Mum had to go to the school and asked for it to be removed from the library.  I don’t remember what it was called, but it was a book of so-called fairy tales, and it had one story in it where a witch rips the faces off pretty young girls so she could disguise herself as them and get up to mischief.  Kinda gross.   A less sensitive kid might not have been bothered by it, but it frightened me and my Mum took action ha ha.

I know I had a book about a dog called Barney, that my Mum used to read to me (until it fell to pieces) but I haven’t been able to find it since.  Another favourite was “The Golden Egg Book” by Margaret Wise Brown.  It too fell to pieces from being read to death.

When I was a bit older, I read voraciously on my own.  Enid Blyton was an early favourite, particularly the “Magic Faraway Tree” and “The Secret Seven” (my Mum won a set of these in an art competition when she was ten years old – I have them now🙂 ).  I still secretly read Enid Blyton books, when I am needing some comfort or just to take some time out.  There’s a been a bit of a backlash about them in recent years, with regard to them not being very politically correct, but I love them.

Of course, Judy Blume was a HUGE favourite as I entered into that tricky pre-teen period.  My best friend and I loved her books and read all of them.  “Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret,” was probably devoured by more 10-12 year olds in the 80s than just about any other book ever written.

I also loved Ursula K. Le Guin and Paul Gallico, Beverly Cleary and Diana Wynne Jones.  I read all the classics – “Charlotte’s Web”, “Watership Down” (a little bit adult for me but I trudged through it when I was seven, not really understanding all of it I’m sure) and “Little Women”.

I read non-fiction too.  Mostly about animals and magic and art.  I Loved poetry and silly rhymes, and books about mysteries and fascinating facts.

I have a favourite children’s book now though.  It was given to me by a friend when I was in my twenties, and I dearly love it.  I would give it to my own children, if I had any, and have actually given it as a gift to friends and family (both children and adults).  My favourite children’s book is “A Little Bit of Winter” by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell.  It’s just GORGEOUS.  The story of Rabbit and Hedgehog, best friends in the wood.  It’s Winter and Hedgehog has to go and hibernate.  Rabbit is worried that Hedgehog will forget about him during the long, cold months that Hedgehog is asleep.  Hedgehog himself does not know what Winter feels like and so they are both missing out on something.  It’s a story about friendship, mostly, but it is SO ADORABLE and the illustrations are the best.  I love it.  I have to do the voices when I read it, which is quite sad, but it’s just so darn cute.  There are other books in this series, but this one is my favourite.

Do you have a beloved children’s book that is dear to your heart?  There’s so many great ones out there, new and old, modern and classic.  Don’t let the kids have all the fun – try a few titles for yourself.  They’re comforting and calming and make you feel better about the world.  And, if you do have children of your own, get them in to reading early – it’s SO important.  My brother’s children all love to read and it makes my librarian heart proud. I’d be proud of them, whatever they did, but the fact that they love books and often can be found with their little heads buried in one is just icing on the cake.

Happy Reading Everyone x

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(Picture : The Book Depository)