Monday, 30 December 2013

A Year of Ethical Fashion

I've decided to sign up for 'A Year of Ethical Fashion', which has been launched by Pip Lincolne on her Meet Me At Mikes blog.

Here's the Year of Ethical Fashion (#YOEF) pledge for 2014...

If I'm looking for things to wear I will only:

a) Buy from ethical makers or
b) Buy second-hand or
c) Make it myself  or
d) Wear things I already own or
e) Borrow or swap garments with friends

I had been thinking about doing something along these lines myself, but it will be so much more powerful to be part of a group!

If you want to join in, you can sign up here and there is also a facebook group.

People are going to take a variety of different approaches to this. Some folks are planning to do a lot of home dressmaking, but I am more likely to wear things I already own, buy second-hand and buy from ethical makers.

Here is an example of the kind of ethical fashion I tend to wear. This second-hand denim jacket came from a dress agency.

Over the next year, I'll be trying other options for ethical fashion, including ethical knickers, jewellery and fairtrade footwear. I'll be writing about this on my Minibreak Mummy blog.

Here are the ethical fashion blogposts I've written so far:

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Magpie Monday - Russian Dolls

When I first saw this set of five nesting Russian Dolls on the shelf in the Cancer Research Shop yesterday I thought they would make a great gift. Then I decided that I could not bear to give them away!

The proper name for these is Matryoshka. They are thought to represent motherhood. I just think they are very beautiful! With raspberry red shawls and teal skirts, they combine two of my favourite colours. And of course my son is enjoying playing with them too. And they only cost £3!

I am getting back into the swing of thrifting after the chaos of moving house. There are some really good charity shops near here. But I have promised my husband that I will only buy things I really love.

Linking up with Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow - it is lovely to feel part of an online community that cherishes pre-loved finds!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Filofax Mini 'Urban' Organiser - why it's the perfect Filofax for me

I've been using this Filofax mini 'Urban' organiser for a year now and it is fab!

I previously used a pocket size Filofax but decided it was too much of a compromise - too big to take everywhere with me and too small to write decent notes in when I'm at work. So when I spotted an 'Urban' Filofax in mini size on eBay I thought I'd give the mini size a go.

When this mini Filofax arrived I realised that it would be perfect as an everyday wallet, as it has credit card slots, a compartment for notes and a zipped section for coins. I love the charcoal grey fabric and the dinky size.

The pencil was a birthday present from my husband and I bought myself a year planner and some lavender notepaper from Rymans. I then got some lovely lilac dividers from Maudie Made on Etsy.

The vertical year planner is great for giving me an overview of what is happening throughout the year, including holidays and work commitments. It works much better than trying to view this information on an iPhone screen!

I also write 'to do' and shopping lists in my Filofax rather than on the iPhone. It seems much less effort to jot things down on paper than it would be to open up an app, type something in, save it, etc. Plus ticking things off a list always seems more satisfying on paper than on a screen!

I previously wrote about this Filofax here

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Me, my selfie and I

This week's theme for 'The Photo Gallery' at the Sticky Fingers blog is 'Selfie' so I thought I'd try to take a self-portrait with my iPhone. It's about time I had an up-to-date photo to use as a profile picture.

The above photo was taken with me stood in front of the window, shortly after I got my hair cut. I have been growing out my fringe. I tried looking at the camera lens, but that made me look slightly mad, so instead I am looking slightly below the top of the iPhone.

If I'm looking a bit frayed around the edges, it is because we still haven't got a confirmed date for moving into the house we are buying. My parents have kindly made some space for us in their house, but the sooner we get properly settled the better.

Anyway, I will be checking out the other 'selfie' photos people are sharing this week.

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Monday, 9 September 2013

Palissy Sierra pin dish

I'm not supposed to be buying anything at all at the moment, because most of our stuff is in storage until we can move into our new house.

But I really couldn't resist buying this Palissy Sierra pin dish when I spotted it for £2.50 in a charity shop in Stourbridge. The colours are lovely and autumnal. It is about 5"/13cm across, so won't take up much space.

I'm linking up with Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow, mostly because I want to see what pre-loved treasures my fellow magpies have found recently. Also linking up with the Op-Shop Show-Off at Blackbird has Spoken.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Three Good Things - the vintage and retro edition!

On Saturday, I went for my final thrift-shopping trip to the charity shops in Beeston before we move out of our house. And I found three good things to buy.

1. Retro Thetford tray
This Thetford tray with a retro floral pattern in blue and purple was just £2.50 from the Vintage and Retro section of the Sue Ryder Shop. When I saw it in the shop it looked a bit faded, but it has scrubbed up beautifully. I love it!

2. 'Scoundrel Days' by A-ha
I paid £2 in the Oxfam Books and Music shop for this. The tracklist includes 'Manhattan Skyline' which is one of my favourite ever A-ha songs. This record will sit alongside my copy of 'Hunting High and Low'. I am now on the look-out for a record cabinet to store all my records properly.

3. Smoked glass serving dish
I am thrilled with this smoked glass serving dish, which is in mint condition and came with its original box (£3.50 - Vintage and Retro section of the Sue Ryder Shop). It is so evocative of the 1980s. I will be using this at our house-warming party when I finally move into our new house.

Linking up with: 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Three Good Things - Week Three

Once again, I'm joining in with Liz at Margot and Barbara in listing my Three Good Things from the last week.

1. Sold!
We have definitely sold our house now. I will be sad to leave it, but we had to sell it in order to be able to move closer to my new job.

2. Lavender
The lavender in our garden has been lovely this year. I put some of it in a vintage glass inkwell (a free gift from Homebarn when I went to Cybher).

3. Pizza
This is the most delicious pizza - a Padana Leggera Pizza from Pizza Express. The sweetness of the caramelized onion and the tangy creaminess of the goats cheese, with a salad in the middle so it must be vaguely healthy too! I treated myself to this particular pizza to celebrate the sale of the house and starting my new job.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Radical Reward Charts (review)

This is my son's new reward chart from Radical Reward Charts. They sent me one to review, and so far we are very impressed.

Radical Reward Chart - Reedy River design
Radical Reward Chart

I had been wondering whether a reward chart my be a useful way to encourage my son to do the things I want him to do more of - like trying new foods or getting dressed without too much messing about. 

He will be 5 next month, and doesn't really understand money yet, so a monetary bribe doesn't work. I don't really want to give him sweets or small plastic toys. Stickers are enthusiastically received but tend to get stuck on his t-shirt and then end up in the washing machine. So I looked at the reward charts in high street shops but I found them a bit dull and uninspiring.

The Radical Reward Charts look a lot more fun. My son chose the lovely Reedy River design, which has a blue border and goes well with the blue decor in his bedroom. We have stuck it on the side of the chest of drawers so that you can see it as soon as you walk in the room.

One of the things that is particularly appealing about Radical Reward Charts is that they are designed to be used with a laminated photo of your child to act as a moving piece to move up the chart. This is much more exciting and motivating than obtaining stickers on a conventional reward chart.

My son starts his journey up the Radical Reward Chart

We received a free Radical Reward Chart and laminated photo for the purposes of writing this review. This would normally cost £14 including postage and packing. All words and views expressed are my own.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Three Good Things - Week Two

I'm starting a new job on Thursday, and really looking forward to it. But moving house is proving to be more complicated and slower than I had hoped. 

However, there are always good things in amongst the hard work, and Liz from Margot and Barbara has encouraged me and various other bloggers to join in with listing 'Three Good Things'. So here are my 'three good things' from the last week.

1. 'Electric' by Pet Shop Boys
I love this so much I have been listening to it every chance I get. My son loves dancing with me in the living room, and this album has been a big hit with him too. 'Love is a Bourgeois Construct' is my favourite track. The photo below shows the Pet Shop Boys 'in' my living room.

2. envirofone Argos voucher
Normally when I get a new phone, I stick the old one in a drawer and forget about it. This time, I signed up with envirofone who sent me an Argos voucher for £118.26 in exchange for my old iPhone 4. I am planning to use this to purchase something for my new house when we finally manage to move.

3. Flowers
These beautiful flowers were given to me by my colleagues on my last day in my old job. I think they are the nicest flowers I have ever received.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Folding Hostess Trolley

I am now the proud owner of a folding hostess trolley, as shown in the photos below.

This trolley previously belonged to my husband's late uncle Emlyn. It's a nice way to remember him, and will look lovely in our 1970s house.

Linking up with Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Three Good Things - Week One

We're moving house soon (if all goes according to plan). This means I've been extremely busy recently. In amongst having too much to do, I want to note some good things as they happen. I've been wondering how best to do this. 

Then I spotted that one of my favourite bloggers, Liz from Margot and Barbara, has started a new weekly series of blog posts called 'Three Good Things' and she has encouraged her readers to do the same. So, without further ado, here are my 'three good things' from the last week or so.

1. New phone case
My new Harris Tweed phone case made by LifeCovers is utterly gorgeous and very practical. 

I bought it as a present for myself after getting rid of my iPhone contract and downgrading to a Nokia Asha 300 contract that will cost me £400 less a year. 

If you want to find out more about what I've done to reduce my annual outgoings, listen to this audioboo about How I've reduced my outgoings by £1000 per year.

2. Nearly finished '21st Century Boy' cross stitch
This Jolly Red '21st Century Boy' cross stitch kit is wonderful - I love the bright colours. I am very excited now the end is in sight and so is my little boy.

'21st Century Boy' cross stitch kit by Jolly Red

This is how it looked last September, when I first blogged about it:

3. Despicable Me
A couple of people recommended this film to me, so I bought it on DVD. We have all enjoyed watching it together, and my son was particularly impressed with the minions. Here is a snapshot of him wearing the free cardboard 'minion' glasses that came with the DVD.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

New Camera!

Aled June 2013 by nyssapod
Aled June 2013, a photo by nyssapod on Flickr.

This is one of the first photos taken with my new camera, which is a Canon EOS 100D.

The reason for buying this new camera is that I have grown increasingly frustrated with the results I've been getting with my compact camera. In particular, it is a real challenge to get photographs of my fast-moving four-year-old son. Low light levels are another challenge.

I know that good photographers can get impressive results with compact cameras, or even mobile phone cameras. But I am not a particularly good photographer, so I need all the help I can get.

On Saturday I went to John Lewis and Jessops to hold a few 'high end' compact cameras in my hand and see what they were like, and they didn't feel like proper cameras. I couldn't get a proper grip on the Sony RX100 for example, and disliked the fact there was no viewfinder.

As with any big purchase, I discussed this with my husband, and he suggested I should consider a DSLR. He argued that even an entry level DSLR would produce better results than a compact camera, no matter how 'high end'. This is because compact cameras tend to be inherently slower than DSLRs, and they have smaller lenses and smaller sensors.

The main reason I hadn't considered buying a DSLR before was because I assumed that they would be too heavy for me. I already have access to my husband's Canon EOS 300D, which was the first sub-£1000 DSLR, released in 2003. When I have used the Canon EOS 300D in the recent past, the results have been better than with my compact camera. But the weight of it has put me off taking it with me on overnight trips.

The Jessops catalogue featured the Canon EOS 100D, which claims to be the smallest and lightest DSLR, so on Sunday I went to Jessops and had a look at it. And it felt amazingly light. Even better than that, the controls and the kit lens seemed to be very intuitive. This is probably partly because I'm already used to the Canon EOS 300D.

So I bought it. And on Sunday afternoon I took the above photo of my fast-moving four-year-old. It is fair to say I'm thrilled with both the camera and the photo.

My husband is very impressed too, which is good because it means that both of us will get lots of use out of our new camera. And we have it just in time for my sister's wedding.

I've recorded a short audioboo about my new camera.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Most excellent marble run

This marble run was only £2 from the local Treetops Hospice charity shop. 

It is probably the best £2 I have ever spent, because my 4 year son and I have enjoyed playing with it together.

I love the colours too - orange, black, silver and red. Much more sophisticated and stylish than the usual colours of children's toys.

Linking up with Magpie Monday at Me and My Shadow and the Op-Shop Show-Off at Blackbird has Spoken.


Thursday, 23 May 2013

Why it's never wine o'clock for me

I got out the habit of drinking alcohol in the evenings when I was pregnant and then breastfeeding. I acquired a taste for Beck's Blue Alcohol-Free Lager and have continued to drink it ever since. It's particularly nice on a sunny evening like yesterday.

There are some advantages of not drinking wine in the evenings any more. I sleep more consistently, and am less likely to snore. Plus it is nice not to have hangovers. I think my skin looks better. And drinking fewer calories means I can eat more cake and chocolate without getting fat.

Linking up with this week's Photo Gallery at Sticky Fingers - check it out if you want to see what other people are drinking.


Monday, 20 May 2013

How to find good gifts in charity shops

This vintage camera was a birthday present for my husband. It was made the same year that he was born. I bought the camera from the local Oxfam shop. 

Some people think it is a bit weird to buy secondhand presents, but I love finding gifts for people in charity shops, for the following reasons:
  • you can choose something really special, rather than a standard present
  • no wasteful packaging
  • your money goes further
  • a contribution to the charity

The trick is to buy presents when you spot them, and then stash them away until the next birthday or Christmas. 

I have even managed to find gifts for the 'hard to shop for' men in my life. The chess books shown above were for Dad. He was delighted with them.

The casserole dish shown below was a housewarming present for my youngest sister Hannah (who has recently started an excellent blog called Hannah and Her Thriftiness).

I also enjoy receiving gifts from charity shops. When I was about to go to university for the first time, my mum gathered up various pre-loved kitchenware items to get me started. The Pyrex dish shown below is still going strong 24 years later!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Decluttering and buying less

I've been working hard on decluttering my house recently, because we need to move to another city in time for me to start a new job at the beginning of August. The photo above shows the latest bag of clothes destined for a local charity shop.

I am also trying really hard to buy less stuff. We can't afford to keep wasting money on things we don't really need.

It's fun to find bargains. But I also think that thriftiness involves buying less stuff. So every time I spot something I fancy buying, I ask myself the following questions:

  1. do I really want this item?
  2. will I still want the item by this time next week?
  3. do I actually need this item?
  4. is there room for it in my life and home?
  5. do I already have something that will serve a similar purpose?
  6. can I justify the purchase to my husband?
  7. can we actually afford it?
  8. what else will I have to not buy so that I can pay for this?
  9. is there any chance that I will want to get rid of the item 6 months after I've bought it?

Here are three examples of how these questions work in practice:

Example 1: I've been coveting Pandora and Troll bracelets. They look so pretty on other people's wrists. But they are also expensive, even if you take time to shop around and get the best deal. So questions 7 and 8 are the really significant ones in this case. Question 5 also comes into play - I already have bracelets that are pretty and don't get worn very often.

Example 2: I spotted an Ercol Windsor sideboard in a charity shop recently for a bargain price. It was gorgeous, just my kind of thing. But I had to admit that we didn't actually need a sideboard, and there isn't room for one in our current house. Also, there was no way I would have been able to justify the purchase to my husband, not least because it would be yet another large item to find space for and possibly have to put in storage when we move house. So with a regretful sigh I left the sideboard where it was.

Example 3: When it comes to clothes and handbags I tend to gravitate towards particular styles and end up with too many similar items. But now I am really strict about asking myself questions 1, 2, 3, 5 and 9 from the above list and this has helped to stem the flow of new stuff into the house.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Megson - When I Was A Lad...

Over the last couple of months, my little boy and I have really enjoyed listening to When I Was A Lad... by Megson after we received a free copy to review. 

In fact, we haven't just been listening, we have been singing along and dancing around the living room.

Megson are Stu and Debbie Hanna. They recorded this album of children's folk songs after having a daughter. The mix of traditional and new songs is lovely and makes good use of how Stu and Debbie's voices work together.

Here is a YouTube video of the first track on the album, which is a traditional Yorkshire Lullaby called Bee-o (where "go to bee'o's" means "go to sleep").

My favourite bit from Bee-o is 

I love my little laddy, he's just like his daddy
I love him, I love him, I love him cause he's mine

Another song I really love from the album is Jenny Jenkins. My maiden name is Jenkins and it is the first time I've had a song to sing with my family name in it!  

The album When I was a Lad is available to purchase from Megson's website for £10, along with all their other CDs.

I received a free copy of this CD for the purposes of writing this review. All my reviews are completely honest.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Bedside reading

I thought you might be interested to see the current pile of books on my bedside table. 

Three of the books are recent charity shop finds:
  • Appetite by Nigel Slater - spotted for £4.99 in the Beeston Oxfam Books & Music shop. I'm amazed I didn't already have this in my cookbook collection because I am a big Nigel Slater fan. His books are always very readable, and I'm really enjoying this one.
  • The Bad Mother's Handbook by Kate Long - only 80p in the Treetops Hospice shop on Bramcote Lane. I've previously read Swallowing Grandma by the same author, so I'm really looking forward to reading this.
  • Just My Type by Simon Garfield - £1.50 in the Loughborough British Heart Foundation shop. This is a fascinating cultural history of fonts, with lots of photos showing how different fonts are used and what connotations they have.
The other book I'm currently reading is Angels by Marian Keyes. I read The Mystery of Mercy Close in December and have been inspired to go back and re-read all the other Marian Keyes books featuring the Walsh sisters. I started with Watermelon and recently finished Rachel's Holiday. If anything, these have been even more enjoyable the second time around because I am taking my time and savouring every paragraph.

As well as the books I also have some hand cream, a mug and a magazine on my bedside table. The mug is my favourite Twitter Addict mug from Name Art which is customised with my @nyssapod twittername.

Thanks to RedHead Beauty Diaries for alerting me to the fact that the latest issue of Marie Claire magazine comes with a free Bee Lovely hand cream from Neal's Yard. This cream smells really gorgeous and has a lovely texture, so I will definitely be replacing it when the free one runs out. I've already spotted the mag has a discount code for Neal's Yard, which could be very dangerous...

What reading material do you have on your bedside table? Has any of it come from charity shops?

Me and My Shadow

It's World Book Day later this week, so I'm also linking up with the World Book Day Blog Hop at Catch a Single Thought.