Browsing Category

Finding things

Finding things, Thrifty

Car Boot Bargains – hustle or hope?

4 March, 2012

Let’s go carbooting naked in the rain…

We weren’t actually naked but we were very much in the rain, and this nineties one hit wonder was this morning’s theme tune. Ramona and I had a couple of hours to kill so excitedly sought out the legendary Rotherhithe Car Boot sale. Alas,  I was astonished to find that South Londoners are seriously lightweight carbooters – instead of 200 stalls there were FIVE!!!!! But with a similar number of punters. You can imagine the carnage. It was like opening five tiny Primarks during lunch break at a girls school with Justin Beiber cutting the ribbons wearing nothing but Krispy Kremes.

Us punters were desperate -shivers, I didn’t catch two buses here to go home empty handed- and many of the sellers were milking it. Fortunately I managed to nab three large Ikea frames for £7 (and you know I always snap up large frames for teatowel repurposing) and two of them even made it home unbroken! And I also found these glorious little tiles, three for 50p. They are hand screen printed from Jersey Potteries. What a riot of Seventies dazzle.

I am stoked I didn’t fall into the trap of buying stuff at a clear mark up and as I traipsed home I got thinking about the dynamics of carbooting. Obviously the best price for something is one which you are both happy with. But what can you do to not be taken for a complete chump? The last time I went to Rotherhithe I went with a bunch of people and one couple fell in love with a tea set, but it didn’t seem worth the £10 the seller wanted. So they got one of our other friends to inquire a little bit later and the seller asked for half that. The friend bought it (he fell in love with it too) (haha, just kidding, he bought it for them, obvs) so they got their tea set without anyone getting hustled too badly.

I tend to point nonchalently at something as I ask the price, if it is more than I’m happy to pay I ask them to knock a third off – usually with a cheeky remark (a friend read a book once which told her that if you make someone laugh as you bargain with them then they will more likely meet you.) I don’t really haggle beyond that, just throw my price at them and hope for the best!

I also try to make a point of greeting the sellers and having a nice chat with them, not only does it make the haggling a little less awkward, I also remember what it is like sitting behind your junk while people treat you like a vending machine. The banter is one of the coolest things about a car boot. Although, got to admit, I do sometimes let this slip when faced with boxes of manky treaures and a sign saying EVERYTHING 50P- it is easy to forget oneself when one is diving through piles of junk hyperventilating.

Do you enjoy a good haggle? Have any tips for getting the best bargains at boot sales? Feel like sharing all your secret squirrel bargain hunter tips and tricks here eh?

And don’t forget to check out all the other magical Magpies over at Liz’s Magpie Monday.

Craftiness, DIY, Finding things, Our recycled home, Thrifty

Vintage Spoons Hanging Hooks

27 February, 2012

Cor, don’t you just LOVE a nice souvenir spoon?! When I saw these in a New Zealand charity shop for 50 cents I snapped them up. They just totally evoke a colonial inspired 1980’s afternoon tea vibe, eh?

I have had them rattling around with a faint idea of using them for something but then when a need arose for a place to hang our tea towels I just KNEW. Just knew. These spoons were always meant for greater things than stirring sugar lumps.

Here it is, another 5 min recycling crafty frolick:

I found this bit of wood on the pavement once and have had it randomly on display. I love the imprint of VB ENGLAND along it. It is a bit rugged but I thought it would help my spoons to sparkle.

Linking up with the ever brilliant Magpie Monday of course!

DIY, Finding things, Thrifty

Extreme (budget) Makeover – the recycled lounge

3 November, 2011

“Apart from a handful of things given to us, our entire house is created from stuff we have found on the side of the road, or in charity shops” I explained to a friend. He scanned the lounge where we were sitting and said “Yup… I can beleive it”.

Bahaha.

So maybe the random array of furniture and funny little odds and ends (and the smell of cat wee) (just kidding) gives it away a little. But we love it, and that is what counts, eh?

Here are some horrendoes befores:


We had carpet put in on Monday, and Tim scored some amazing bits of furniture from a skip the day after which just completed it all for us. So here is the Big Reveal of the lounge, a year after we began!

The big soldier was £5 from Oxfam in Streatham (I have raved about this shop before. It is amazing!)

The little soldiers were £5 from the Fara kids shop in Pimlico

The curtains were £70 from the Mind shop in East Dulwich. Yep. 7 0. But they are lovely and thick and long and we had been searching for some time. Plus, it all goes to charity innit.

Then we have a big deep drawer next to the sofa which is great for holding all of Ramona’s toys. We found it round the corner, minus the desk!

This sofa is also from Streatham Oxfam, it was £35 and is so huge it is possible to sleep on it. Love. The cushions are from various charity shops, or made for us by our lovely friend.

Here is the other end of the lounge, and apologies for the even worse photos these puppies will make you feel dizzy. It is so dark down there and my camera hates on it.

This sofa/bench and the bureau were the bits Tim found in the skip. The school bench was £8 from a junk shop in Peckham. The old school pull along duck was £1 from a little school car boot (those are the BEST for kids stuff, unbelieveably cheap.)

This white book case was once pine and in the bin of a neighbours house, we pulled it out and painted it white. It’s not flash but it does a job! One of these sewing machines was found on the street, the other given to me for my birthday, but originated from Oxfam in West Wickham. The abacus was 50p from a charity shop – Ramona loves it! And the various frames were picked up from charity shops.

The desk lamp was £1 from another school car boot. I love finding glass things and putting stuff in them- jars full of pegs or scrabble letters.

So there it is, the recycled lounge- a mixture of charity shopping obsession and pure – finding – things – on – the- street- luck.

Finding things, Our recycled home

That time we drove 12 hours to go to a car boot sale

23 August, 2011

We went to France ten days ago and, I swear, we didn’t have a clue where we were going or what to do there except that I had seen a snippet online; “the Vendee’s biggest flea market“, and being so beloved of the humble car boot,we thought that was as good a starting place as any.  And French old stuff is definitely cooler looking than English old stuff. Our lovely friends (Jenny is newly identifiable in blogville over at Talking up the good) lent us their wheels and we zipped off. We left on Friday and needed to be there for the Sunday- and after 2 days in the car we were wondering why France is so gosh darn big and whether we should have looked to see if there were any flea markets closer to Calais…

But we made it. And we had a mission, to try and find storage for all our previous cupboard incumbents, that now will sit on an open shelf in the kitchen.  We have been looking for something for ages but second hand storage is hard to find, and we try mightily to steer away from Ikea and buying anything new. There really isn’t a need as there is already way too many plastic containers on this earth. But sometimes this calling leads you to inevitably rainy and muddy corners  of Europe.

We got this load of enamel and glass, all ranging between 2 and 5 Euros, they will look perfect in our kitchen, though we may have to get rid of a little rust. And that wee kettle was idealio for our camping stove. (Also in the pic our newly revealed brick and boards as part our our kitchen overhaul woo!)On our way home, after swimming and chateaux visiting in the Loire valley we stopped in on the Paris flea markets at Porte de Montreuil and picked up another enamel thing (!), some clothes for Ramona (France do the best kids clothes no pink in sight but lots of cord and bloomers!) and an ancient cute hair clip.  All between 1 and 2 Euros.I read a thing in the Guardian yesterday about Hauling– teens doing youtube vids of the bargains they bought and I realise this isn’t much better. I am shamefaced, but I turn to you with imploring eyes and ask  “Is it not more of an achievement if I had to sift through rancid, boggle eyed stuffed otters and vintage Girly mags (old porn is still porn French people!!!!) to uncover this stuff?”

Besides, I am only doing this to INSPIRE and ENCOURAGE the world to spurn it’s new, plastic, matching set ways and discover the treasures to be found in the furriest, greasiest crevices of Jumble World. In France it is called Brocante, which sounds very much like the noise a chicken makes if you squawk it. This got us through some of our darker moments stuck in traffic on a peage (a PEAGE! I KNOW!! Ripped. Off.) Actually in hindsight every word sounds like a chicken noise if you squawk it…

We spent our last wonderful day lolling in the gardens at Versailles. Then the car, um, broke down. But  that’s a story for another day…

Finding things, Parenting

The day Ramona discovered ears

7 August, 2011

Today Ramona did her first proper crawl AND she learnt to take steps while holding our hands. But the discovery she was most enthusiastic about? My ear. She thought it was excellent, quite handclappingly hilarious and was entertained by it for FIFTEEN minutes.

20110807-104822.jpg

DIY, Finding things

Extreme (more cosmetic, really) Makeover: Bathroom

6 August, 2010

On our return from the camp at the weekend I persuaded my ever loving husband that we should makeover the bathroom- “It will just take a couple of hours, it’s all just aesthetic stuff: it will be an easy win.” Oh, how wrong was I. It was painful. Not so much for me, I got to just make up crafty things. But Tim got stuck with laying the stick-on tiles that, erm, didn’t stick.

So, several arduous evenings later we have almost finished. I wanted to share it so that it gives the impression that we are doing more than ignoring our unpacked boxes and ripping the odd bit of paper off the walls when we happen to be passing. Hehe.

What we used:
24 slate coloured stick on tiles from B and Q- £24
Fluro orange spray paint- £5
A utensil to scrape off ceramic animals
Some old containers and crockery
A vegetable rack

I wanted to go for an “industrial meets natural” feel, metal and orange with a dash of woven fibres to add a bit of a homely feel. I love it. Tim thinks it is a bit weird. What do you think?

BEFORE:

Meet the duck. There were ducks, dolphins and shells glued on all over the place. Alas, they didn’t fit the new theme. They will be missed.

The floor was just really quite speckled blue and minging. It had to go too.

It is really quite small, so nice looking storage of things was proving to be a challenge.
GETTING MY THRIFTY CRAFT ON:

This is me in the back garden painting and spray painting random objects haphazardly. It was a lot of fun. *Dances naked in garden high on fumes*

AFTER:

To sort out the storage challenge I spray painted some old biscuit tins. They house the million pieces of rubbish bathrooms (well, all our rooms) gather- old sun tan lotion, vitamins, more vitamins and more sun tan lotion… and a gazillion cotton buds. (Everyone loves a good old ear poking eh.)


These beauty little safe boxes have been sitting in my stock room at work, I  couldn’t handle them sitting in a dark musty corner un beloved, so gave a little extra into the petty cash for them. Definitely my favourite bit of the bathroom, and practial too, storing even more extras like my husbands shaving paraphanalia.

I spray painted some orange dots (I fashioned a stencil out of the front page a swanky RSA bookletI got in a charity shop for 20p.) We pulled about 8 of these white tea pots from a bin last year- no lids, so not good pourers but perfect tooth brush holders amongst other things!


These frames once held those bright fake gerbera flowers -know the ones? Now they hold plastic Maori tikis, shells and string, in colours that are very on-brand for our new bathroom, courtesy of that lovely spray paint once again!

That is my quick and thrifty bathroom make over – what do you reckon?