winging it mum

Thrifty Thursday #4

So it’s Thursday and time to share some new-found bargains!

Bargain Boots

In the land of Oz we are heading into Winter, in Melbourne it would appear lately that we are well and truly there already!!!! Recently, I was doing my weekly shop at Coles and I was shocked to find little desert boots for $2.50 a pair! Crazy hey!!!! So we bought 2 pairs; one for Jas and one for Elijah! Each pair came with a set of spare laces. Jas wore her’s for the first time today and even scored a few compliments, to which I had to tell them how cheap they were!! They came in Pink, Grey and Navy. Rookie mistake; I should have applied a suede shoe protector spray before Jas wore them as they are already marked. They are still in Coles stores until stocks run out. When I was there I saw they had sizes 6-9. Not sure if other sizes are available? But it’s definitely worth grabbing a few pairs if you can find the size you need.

Family Friendly recipes

Those who know me, know I need inspiration when it comes to cooking for my family. There is a magazine that I have purchased recently that I never thought I would – it’s Family Circle. It was recommended by a friend and last winter. I secretly (well no longer a secret) love the recipes. They are simple, delicious and the ingredients are often ones I have already or would normally buy. The magazine only comes out twice a year; a winter and a summer/Christmas edition. This edition’s recipes include indulgent choc/caramel desserts (wouldn’t serve them to my kids as I try to limit their sugar intake but I love it!), crumbles and tarts, savoury pies and tarts, filling soups, roasts, award-winning potatoes, lots of vegetarian meals, pasta and comforting casseroles. All for just $5.95! Not bad and worth checking out:)

Price check!!!!!

Here is an activity that I have started to play with the kids and they love it!!! Jas has a toy cash register that scans, it has a microphone for price checks and full of (now torn) play money. We go to our pantry and take out canned items, boxed items, bagged goods and set up a little store. We haven’t done it with fresh produce yet but I plan to. Then we take turns being a “shopper”, with their helpful “child”and a “cashier”. They select, scan, make announcements (that constantly crack me up), take the money, bag the goods etc. we used to do this with their toy food and other toys in the area pretending they had a bar code. This new game they love as its so realistic and every item has a bar code to scan. I love using real and heavy items not using empty cereal boxes etc. It also makes me look through my canned goods stock taking my items as I go:) They seriously love this game and it’s a great one to play on a wet and rainy day. This is cheap entertainment at its best:)

Price Check on soup, price check!

My stash from the Baby and Kids Market

As mentioned previously, I went to the Blackburn Baby and Kids market on Saturday. I normally go to these markets alone but I took Jas this time and met my mum there. We got there before it opened and queued up (always a good sign). Jas made the first purchase of the day using her savings and bought some 50 cent fairy wings! That’s my girl xx I love snapping up seasonally appropriate items at these markets; we got a retro ski suit for Elijah and a couple of gorgeous and warm jackets for the kids. I even managed to buy some birthday gifts. They had a new book stall selling Usborne books, we love those books. Best thing about these markets is knowing I have helped a family recoup some cash, made sustainable spending choices, saved some cash and had fun rummaging! It was great to bump into lots of friends there too. Look for second-hand markets in your local area and get amongst it;)

Hope you too have had some thrifty luck lately! Tell me about your bargains!

Em xx

PS Fresh off the press a lovely friend at Living Simply But Well is also experiencing Thrifty Thursday moments check it out here

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Thrifty Thursday – Market to market to buy a ……..

It’s been ages since I have posted a Thrifty Thursday post. My husband may laugh at me using the words thrifty and markets together in the one heading but I think I save money shopping at markets!!

Let me explain/justify myself:

  1. At farmers markets I can buy fresh produce from the farmers direct, rather than buying fruit and vegetables that may have been stored or in transit for a period of time
  2. I can support local business, crafters, designers and charities through my purchases or entry fees paid.
  3. I can go to a market and find a one of a kind, unique, vintage or handmade item. Yes, these can be pricey but saves me traipsing through the shops tired of seeing the same old same old stuff ie wasting my time and then me settling on something that the person already has – Are you with me on this?
  4. At second hand markets I can reuse others people’s trash and make it my treasure which helps the environment in sooooo many ways. Also grab bargains of items that appear brand new!

Justification aside, its safe to say I love markets. Markets excite me. I love all types of markets, really I’m not fussy!!!! Farmers markets, craft markets, baby & kids markets, church or school fêtes – I could go on. For just under 2 years we lived in Taiwan. Those in the know understand how my love for markets grew living there and traveling around Asia in particular! Taiwan is famous for its night markets and all the special snacks you can only buy at them. I loved the clothes, accessories and random things we’d find at them.

These days back in Melbourne I am still in love with markets! I go to a huge variety of markets but below are a few that I have been to and liked! Click on the underlined words to read more from the market’s websites. Some of these markets you may know and perhaps there will be some newbies for you:

  1. Baby and kids Markets – This is a well known market that travels to different venues across all of the states and ACT. I have grabbed, bought and browsed through several of the venues that they hold their markets at. They are busy and the earlier you get there the better bargains you can find. The majority of stall holders sell used items clothing, furniture, prams, equipment, toys and books. However, there are also some stall holders that sell new items too. I love being able to buy all the expensive brand names but at bargain prices!!! The beauty of these markets is that no two markets are ever the same! Come with me to the next on in Melbourne it will be held in Blackburn (at One Community Church) on the 12th of May – but don’t grab what I want;) read more about it here! Only draw back is they do charge $4 per adult for entry but kids are free!
  2. Matilda’s Market – Ok so this isn’t the cheapest children’s market but this is the kind of market where you can find something special, unique or original. I don’t leave this market with lots of full bags but I have bought some beautiful items and been inspired by things I’ve seen etc. It’s a great market for gifts or special outfits. Their website is good too and has lots of interesting stuff to be found there. The next Melbourne Market is the 29th July and they are found in other states too.
  3. The Finders keepers – Love, love, love this market but sadly missed their recent one:( and they only have two a year! This market has a great mix of beautiful designed items for adults, children and the home. Only problem is I leave this market wishing I had unlimited funds;) There next Melbourne isn’t until Oct:( varied prices are found at this market:)? This market is in Brisbane and Sydney too!
  4. Magnolia Square – Another lovely market but not full of just kids stuff. It’s a smaller market than the others I’ve listed but still full of lovely gift ideas. It’s on From the 3-5th May at the Malvern Town Hall. Again not a cheap market though! Melbourne only market.
  5. Melbourne Design Market -This is another great market held in the car park at Federation square I like this one as it showcases Melbourne Designers a lot of who are launching their businesses etc. Next one is on the 29th July.
  6. Skirt & Shirt Market – Held the third Sunday of every month at the Abbortsford convent I am a fan of this market but don’t get there often. The next market is the 20th of May.
  7. Warrandyte community craft market – This market is on the 1st Saturday of the month. It has local craft, amazing cards (best stall Indigo and Rose -when they are there!) and good produce too!
  8. Red Hill Community Market – Massive craft market with very regular stalls. First Saturday of the month from September through to May.
  9. Camberwell Sunday Market – Run by the Rotary club, this is a large outdoor second hand market (with some new good sold too) that is on every Sunday (except the Sunday before Christmas!) Check it out!!!
  10. Farmers Markets – I don’t have a regular market I go to (but I would love one!) but we always stop when we see one. What are your favourite farmer’s markets, especially if you are a Melbournian?
  11. Local Markets or Fêtes – These are the gems that you find advertised in your local paper or on real-estate sponsored boards in your local area. I love to support these and these are the ones we love to go to as a family.

As soon as I post this I will think of more but these are a few to check out! What have I missed?

What kind of markets do you like?

Happy Market going guys!

Em xx



Closet Swap – A thrifty initiative

My darling husband stumbled onto a brilliant iPhone app that excited me (Please keep reading even if you don’t have an iPhone or iPad as you could go to their website and do the same things as mentioned below)!!!!! The app is “Closet Swap“. It is a free app that has been set up by Channel four in the UK. What I like about this application is that it promotes people to look in their wardrobes, chest of drawers etc and come up with items that they no longer need or items that they would be willing to lend to others. After taking photos of these items you are able to upload them in your virtual closet.Your friends are able to do the same and then you can start the process of swapping items with each other. I guess a drawback is that to use the app/site you need to have a Facebook account.

Further to this, Closet Swap encourages you to host your own Closet Swap parties where you can do this in person. The site/app also allows people to look up maps to find where the closest charity shop or vintage shop is etc. In my current exploration of the map it appears to be only a map with nothing labeled but I was able to mark places on the map. Closet swap allows you be able to put out a SOS type call for a specific item that you needed for say a job interview or fancy dress party. How clever!

I guess what excited me about the app is that I would be encouraged to practice sustainable fashion and can even learn more about this through their site. Clothes I no longer like, fit into or need could be given to others who actually need or like the items of clothing. Gone would be some of the guilt that comes with having purchased items that are just sitting around and doing nothing. What a great way to pass on kids clothing and even maternity clothes!

Would I actually use this app/site and put my closet out there? I would like to say yes but to me it sounded like a bit of work and that it would only be a success if other people I knew used it. Would you use the app/site of Closet Swap?

I love the concept of having a Closet Swap party. Those who know me, know that I love to host a party, it’s the event manager in me! I would make it a fundraiser too eg. Donation on entry. People would bring along items they’d love to give to a new home and bag to put in items they’ve picked up! Sounds fun hey! If I threw a Closet Swap party would you come? Let me know;)

I think what I liked about the app/site was more the concept. It got me thinking creatively about what to do with items that I no longer want or require. I regularly give clothes to the op shop but there are some items that I would love to pass onto someone I know so these sentimental items are still in my world. I love giving away my old clothes or my kids stuff and the feeling you get when you know these items will be used and are appreciated.

Recently, I have seen an increase in people being creative in passing on their second-hand items. Like photographing items and putting them on facebook for friends to “like” eg claim. What are some ways that you pass on your unwanted clothing? Leave a comment so we can get inspired!

Em xx

closet swap site


Thrifty Thursday #2

Being thrifty can sometimes be risky. There is no guarantee of success and often no money back option. We were stung twice this week! Surely you have been stung too?

Last weekend, we were invited to our friends wedding. After a busy morning, we set off to buy some snacks for the kids to eat during the wedding (as we knew the ceremony would go into lunchtime). Ah the things we need to think of as parents! During the dash to the shops, Brett and I realized that none of his suitable shirts were ready to be worn to our friends big day. Knowing we were strapped for time, I looked at Brett and said you go to the bakery and I’ll slip into the op shop and see if they have a shirt! To my surprise, there was a nice shirt there. A white shirt in good condition, with a nice pale purple pinstripe. Brett tried it on quickly and we thought it was a little snug but it should be ok. After paying out a massive $3 we rushed home to throw on our wedding clothes. As we were about to leave, Brett went to pick up Jasmine and ………wait for it …………we heard a rip!!! Afraid to see where; I scanned him to see that there was a rip on his elbow. We had to leave! So on went his jacket. Our secret was safe……… until now;) Yes, this was a thrifty purchase worthy of a Thrifty Thursday mention, but an honest mention, describing that the shirt served the purpose but only just. Needless to say Brett changed his shirt for the reception.

Then I fell victim too! Whilst at the Camberwell market on Sunday (a quick visit) I saw a shirt. A thrifty $5 shirt! I thought this looks cute. Only to get it home and try it on and well… guessed it! It’s not cute! So I may try to rescue it with my sewing skills, another risky step! You win some, you lose some!

What are some of your thrifty disasters? Share them with us:)

Em xx


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Thrifty Thursday #1

I am a shopper, hunter of bargains, garage sale gal and op shop junkie! There it’s out there and I feel the better for it. I love sales! When I purchase something on sale I actually “make money”. I take the full price of the item purchased and subtract the sale price from that. This glorious figure that I am left with is the money that I have made, my salary for bargain hunting I guess:). Op shopping and garage sales excite me. As you enter them you never know what you will find. Sometimes you leave empty handed and other times someone has to help you carry your loot to the car! Thrifty Thursday posts will pop up to share some “money making” successes I’ve had recently or ideas on ways we can “make money” whilst having fun with our family and friends. I would love to hear some of your success stories too!

1. Friends of the zoo membership

For Christmas mum gave us as a family friends of the zoo yearly passes. We tried and tested them for the first time today. It worked a treat! We walked straight in, after flashing the card and the zoo was ours. This membership entitles you to unlimited entry into Melbourne zoo, Healesville sanctuary and Werribee open range zoo.We only saw a small section of the zoo today but it didn’t matter because well we could go back again soon. If the kids were playing up you could leave and not feel bad about wasting all that money! I’m looking forward to lots of visits now! You only need to go 4 times to “make money”;) haha

2. Amazing toy find!

At a local op shop, we were lucky enough to stumble onto some awesome toys yesterday. When I saw them I actually got excited and wanted to play with them myself. We bought an airplane, fire truck and crane, I decided to leave the garbage truck behind. The level of detail in these toys and their mint condition alluded to one thing – these must have been Grandma’s house toys!!! All up the set cost $11. After showing Brett this set it was decided that we needed to return and get the garbage truck too! Total set now $15!!! I will be putting away the fire truck and crane as they have so many small pieces not ideal to have around a 16 month old.

Bargain hint: For kids toys, I have found that just after Christmas there are amazing toys, books and games that appear in the op shop. My theory is people look at culling their existing toys to make way for all the new toys. Or perhaps it’s a good school holiday activity? Try for yourself, get out there and see what you can find.

How have you “made money” this week?

Em xx20120119-203929.jpg


Cringe – with a capital C!

Have you ever seen someone at the shops that you were sure you knew? Their face was familiar but you just couldn’t place them. What brain games do you do to try to figure out who they are or  to place them in your world?

For me I go through my main networks; groups I belong to, friendship circles, my hobbies, Brett’s peps and then do the same process but for my past connections. My mum goes through the alphabet and thinks of names starting with each letter until she can remember the person’s name. What works for you?

As I was shopping at our local shops the other day I saw someone who seemed familiar to me but struggled to place. Luckily in a supermarket you go up and down aisles. She was doing the same aisles as us but coming from the opposite end, so I got plenty of ponder time and regularly refreshed her image in my mind. But still nothing!

Then Jasmine turned to me and said ” Mum there is one of my kinder teachers”. She seemed excited she had either just had success with her mind game of placement or she had remembered she was about to start 3 year old kinder. I sighed with relief; placement of this familiar face had been achieved!

Jasmine turned back to me and went on to say in her normal loud voice “where is the other FAT one?” ( those of you that have known me for sometime would know I hate the word “fat”, it is overused and not a nice describing word). I was shocked and said “what!”, to which Jasmine said even louder “where is the FAT one?”. I nearly died. I knew we were close enough and she was loud enough to be heard! For the whole next aisle I explained to my darling daughter that is not a nice way to talk about people etc etc; whilst walking ever so slowly, hoping not to come face to face again with my freshly placed kindergarten teacher! Luckily we didn’t meet up again:)

Or was it? As now I am unsure if her remark had been heard? Or if we were placed in her mind now as the rude family? And whether I had handled it appropriately? Surely kindergarten teachers are frequently hit with childlike innocent brutality?

Am I alone or have you to had a similar incident with a huge cringe factor? Please share it with me so I don’t feel such a failure:) haha

Em xx


Op shop tribute

Today it is 3 years since my father died of cancer. At the time of his death Jasmine was only 6 months old. Gratefully we have some photos of the two of them together and some photos of Dad around the place. We often talk about him to her and some days she gets in moods where she wants me to tell her all about him.

Last night I had a bright idea that I could take my mum and the kids op shopping as a tribute to him. Dad a true Scotsman liked to keep a close rein on his money, well that’s a polite way of saying it. Really he just hated to see good things go to waste. He volunteered at a local op shop we think so that he could get mates rates and first dibs on things that came in! I remember over the years I didn’t really get his fascination with buying second hand items. But he saw treasure where others saw junk. Over the last few years I have seen the light!

I get it!!!! It’s the thrill of the chase, finding something special amongst the moth ball smell, it’s looking at the price tag and deciding whether it’s over priced or a steal. It’s finding something from a different era and loving it for its quirkiness. I also think; as did Dad that our society produces more than we need. We are wasteful and irresponsible consumers. Op shopping is a sustainable habit and one that I have fallen victim too now!

Before setting off I reminded Jasmine where we were off too and why. I warned her that Grandma Frog (her grandma that collects frogs) might be sad today. She saw on the table in front of her some coins. She grabbed two coins and put them in a nearby box and said she was going to give it to Grandma Frog. She had $2.10 in there. I said lets change the 10 cent piece for a $1 coin. This meant Grandma had a dollar for every year that Grandpa had been in heaven. Jasmine was excited that Grandma Frog could buy something special with this money.

On presenting the box, jasmine was bubbling with excitement. Grandma Frog loved the gift and was touched by Jas’ gift. After regrouping we set off. We made some great purchases; binoculars and a miniature cow bell for Jas, a skirt for me, a wooden crane for Elijah, and skirt and top for Mum.

A fitting tribute to a wise and thrifty man! And a fun way to celebrate one aspect of his life. Love that through this tribute Jas showed her love for Grandma Frog and enjoyed looking for treasure like her Grandpa did!

What are some creative or fun ways that you have celebrated or paid tribute to a lost loved one? I’d love to hear!

Em xx