Thursday, 14 April 2011

When the going gets tough...

We're in the middle of a very bad week. It's a bad week that is likely to continue for another fortnight but then can only get better, so really it's more of a bad month. Right now I'm tempted to go to sleep and wake up in three weeks' time when everything is over, however that doesn't seem to be an option that's open to me.

Instead, I've been doing what every sensible girl knows is the only thing to do in these circumstances: bargain hunting. I'm pretty pleased with my haul, which is all for my 18-month year old.

Charity shops are such fantastic places to buy books and toys, particularly as you can often find brand new things that have been donated either because they were duplicate presents or because the child has grown bored of them. I buy the majority of my daughter's toys from charity shops, nearly new sales and Ebay. The main things to check for are that they are still in good condition, no bite marks (!), no missing pages in books, no faulty bits or missing pieces (jigsaws). My daughter devours books and loves to hold them herself and practise 'reading' them to her teddies and dolls. Obviously this is to be encouraged but it does mean that often the books don't last for as long as we would have hoped, so it makes sense to buy them second hand. If they are favourites (erm, hello EVERYTHING by Julia Donaldson who must be RICH beyond her wildest dreams!) we buy a couple and keep a 'good' copy.

My daughter loves Dick Bruna's Miffy, the iconic little white rabbit. I remember being a big fan when I was young too. There must be something about the simple black and white drawings with primary colours plus the story lines to which every toddler can relate that makes the books big hits with little girls (and little boys too). We've had six of the books on rotation at bedtime for the last six months or so, and all three of us know them off by heart. We found another six to add to our library in the British Heart Foundation shop in Headingley for only 95p each. They are in pristine condition too - unwanted gift? Surely not, how could Miffy be unwanted? They must have been duplicates...

We then found this brand new Miffy backpack for £5 in the Martin House shop in Headingley. They have the cutest Easter display with little chicks, ducks, rabbits and birds. The backpack came filled with Easter eggs and a little Easter card. Apparently they get lots of brand new toys donated due to the fact that the charity is a children's hospice so it's always worth a look, as well as being a wonderful cause. We're putting it away until Easter Sunday.

Finally, we found this wooden alphabet and numbers toy in the Wellfair Shop on Moortown corner. It was only £3 and is in pristine condition. My little girl is now calling it 'new toy' and as she's such a big fan of letters she's really enjoying playing with it.

Not bad for a couple of mornings spent mooching and having coffee in the suburbs of Leeds.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Bunting! (nothing to do with the 29th April)

So it's been quite a while since I last posted something. I can't actually believe it's been six months - where has the time gone? It's now Spring, thank goodness, and we've been having a few days of beautiful, un-British, sunshine.

I have some good excuses though for not blogging, one of them being that we dropped our camera in the park at the beginning of February and so I wasn't able to take any photos for a couple of months until we finally bought a new one a couple of weekends ago.

This is not strictly a wow-what-a-charity-shop-bargain post, but it does have an element of vintage in that two of the fabrics I used were second hand: the royal blue spotty fabric came from a vintage fair in Saltaire absolutely years ago and the navy floral print cotton is from an old dress I cut up.

I've been meaning to make bunting for my little girl's room for about eighteen months, ever since she was born in fact, but just never got round to it. I'm really pleased that I finally stopped procrastinating and finished it as it looks great in her room. I'm trying not to think about the fact that I could have actually bought it cheaper...not even including the hours I spent on it. However, it's bespoke! And that's a good thing, right? It's also a bit wonky (as with all my sewing) but that only adds to its charm. Just don't look too closely (surely no-one looks at bunting too closely anyway?)

I used the following fabrics:
Harlequin Distant Shores in cream (also used for the Roman blind - I bought metres of this when I was heavily pregnant. I also have plans to make a bean bag and a quilt - maybe in three years' time I'll have finished these?)
Blue spotty vintage cotton
Blue floral cotton from an old dress
Red stars cotton (Leeds market bargain)
White with strawberries cotton (ditto)
Red and cream stripey ribbon bought from the Hen House in Southwell

Bunting is so easy to make, I wish I'd made it a few months ago as my little girl is going to be moving into her big girl's room in the summer and I'll have to make a load more.