Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Born to Shop!

My Stepson told me the other day, that I must have been 'born to shop' and although I'd like to think I was put on this earth for something other than gracing Target hellbent on getting a bargain, he was pretty spot on.  I can't remember a time that I haven't enjoyed shopping, shopping of all kinds - I even love grocery shopping (until I reach the cash register and ponder upon how many other things I could have bought with all of that money if only we didn't need to eat!)

As a child, I looked forward to Friday afternoons as this was our shopping day. Mum and Nan would take us to the local Target/Woolworth's (before the big shopping centres started to appear) and we would get a bucket of chips, cup of cordial and Nan would buy us a $2 toy each week.  I can still vividly remember walking down the aisles and the smells of the store, some of the things we bought and events that happened when shopping such as loosing my Brother in Target (he was hiding under a round rack and Mum nearly had a coronary searching for him).  As I got older and the shopping centres got bigger, I was in awe of the atmosphere, particularly the atmosphere at Christmastime with all of the lights, crowds, decorations and music, still to this day, that is my favourite time of the year to shop!

My favourite shops by far are Op Shops - second hand stores like Lifeline etc - as a child I wouldn't have imagined walking into such shops, let alone buying and wearing things from them (snooty much).  They are wonderful outlets for home wares, clothing, books, toys and renovation items and over the years I have found many bargains and saved myself thousands of dollars - many of the items new or near new - you would never know they are second hand.  My most recent purchase was a 3.5 seat chocolate brown suede lounge, gorgeous modern design and at only $299 was a fraction of the price you would pay from a furniture retailer & the best part is, it was brand new!  

Other favourite stores I love to explore are Bed, Bath and Table, Target, Myer, Trade Secret, Pumpkin Patch, Loot & the Vast Interior & even the humble K-Mart (which has an awesome selection of fantastic home wares this year) including this gorgeous bedding, wall decal etc that I picked up the other day.

I guess my tips for finding a retail bargain are; shop often - the more you shop, the more likely it is that you will come across price reductions, only buy things you genuinely need - after all it's not a bargain if you buy it to store in the cupboard.  I don't tend to lay by as I find I get the item cheaper before the lay by expires or I change my mind about what I purchased in the first place, cancelling multiple lay by's each year can become costly.  For example one year my kids wanted those electronic interactive cubes, $59 each at Toyworld, I picked them up for $3.00 each from Target right before Christmas, guess what a lot of the kids in our family received that year!  I also picked up the I-teddy, originally $120.00 for $15.00 by playing the waiting game at Target.  Patience is luckily a virtue I have!

Another tip, after becoming an avid second hand shopper is, often if you wait, you will find the item in a second hand store.. so why buy new??  An example of this that happened to me recently was shopping for our family portraits. I went to target and bought myself a red top ($40) and my stepdaughter a white cardigan ($29) only to find a near identical red top ($2) and an identical white cardigan ($4 - WITH TAGS!) in Lifeline only 3 days later!!!! I was also able to pick up all of the Marian Keyes novels at Lifeline for $2-$3 each over time, rather than purchase the at department stores for $20+ and the other day I picked up a whole bucket of Mr Potato Head toys (including Darth Tater) for only $4 - a toy I have been resisting paying full price for, the kids now have more than they would have gotten if I'd bought new - Good things come to those who wait!  Go to garage sales and utilise eBay to your advantage also.. you'll never pay full price again..

Later this week, I am going to try out a new method of shopping for me, the world of online grocery shopping! Ill let you all know how that goes too...

Happy Bargain Shopping! :)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Fruit and Vegetable Adventures..

Fruit is a big part of our families diet and it seems we go through so much of it every week. I particularly love eating fruit as the weather gets warmer and enjoy the variety of fruits that are available at this time of the year. The kids and I were particularly surprised to see a yellow seedless watermelon at the grocery shop yesterday, iv never seen a yellow watermelon before. We cut it up for afternoon tea today and it was really nice, I liked that it was a little sweeter than the usual pink watermelon and there seemed to be less of the white rind, so less waste! 

Another fruit that is a little left of centre and a favourite of mine is the pomegranate - growing up, my Nanny Beryl had a pomegranate tree in her backyard and it was always very exciting to pick a ripe pomegranate, have it cut up and pick the little seeds out of it with a teaspoon.  I thought it was great earlier this year when I first noticed Pomegranates at my local Woolworth's, they seemed a lot larger than I remembered and at $4 a pop, I wish I still had that Pomegranate tree!
Other fruit picking memories from my childhood were picking oranges, grapefruits, lemons and macadamia nuts from my Great Granddad's tree's.  Behind his house yard was a gate that lead to an area with lots of these fruit tree's, it was always so much fun to pick the fruit and crack the macadamia nuts in the cracks of the cement with a hammer. Shelling peas out of the pod at my Great Aunts was also a lot of fun, I did this at my Mums the other day and think I ate her whole plant full, so different to the peas you buy out of the frozen section!

In our own backyard we had a loquat tree, mango tree, mulberry tree, peach tree and passion fruit vine. The peach tree never bore much fruit, the peaches were always undersized and the insects got to them before we did, thankfully I didn't like peaches, but I always remember the tree looked so pretty and I was fascinated with the flowers.  Our passion fruit vine was an elaborate affair, growing all over an old hills hoist, I loved the curly tendrils that came off the vine and the gorgeous white and purple flowers that grew all over it, giving shade to a fantastic play area underneath.  Unfortunately our mango tree rotted out and had to be chopped down as did our Mulberry tree, but that was after many years of collecting the squishy purple fruit off of it, getting purple fingers and purple feet.  I haven't had a loquat or mulberry in years!

I now have a macadamia tree growing in my backyard and my kids love to search for the macadamia's that have fallen from the tree and crack them open just as I did as a child.  When we travel up to my parents place, they have a wonderful vegetable garden filled with pumpkins, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, peas,  zucchini, spinach, celery, strawberries and herbs that the kids like to pick with Nanny.  It is such an experience for them to see what plants these fruits grow on and eat something fresh off the tree. It even helped them to eat fruits and vegetables they were unwilling to try before!

I would love to set up a vegetable garden and think that it might be a venture we will have to try in the not too distant future. 

Monday, November 08, 2010

First hint of Christmas.. 47 days to go.

With only 47 days to go until Christmas, the kids and I made a start on some of our Christmas craft today. There are only 4 weeks til school breaks up, so I thought it best to start on making Christmas cards for their friends. I usually purchase store bought cards for them to hand out, but this year I decided making handmade cards would be more fun and would kickstart the festive feel.

We headed to Kmart to stock up on supplies, my favourite products being the precut mini cards (as it saved me a lot of cutting!) a pack of 25 for only $4.00! We bought silver, black and pearl cards for the kids to decorate and they worked wonderfully with the adhesive christmas glitter shapes, so simple, yet they looked so effective! Other items we bought to decorate were glitter pens, gel pens, metallic pens, christmas tree/star scatters, pom poms and ribbons.

I used a cane basket to store all of the christmas craft in, which will keep it nice and accessible over the upcoming weeks and made it easier for the kids to pack up after they finished their craft.

The cards the kids created were soo cute and they are looking forward to finishing them off over the next few days and giving them to their friends later in the month. All except for my eldest stepson who in response to making handmade cards said "I think I might use my pocket money to buy some Christmas Cards.. " Don't you just love the motivation of the pre-teen! LOL.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

A Little Mini Break..

We just got back this afternoon from a 2 night mini-break after heading to the coast with my Husband's family. It was nice to take time out and catch up with everyone, which is something we haven't done much of this year as life can sometimes lead everyone in very different directions and things get busy. But a couple of days of bbq's, swimming, fishing, chatting and a deviation away from the regular routine was nice and probably just what was needed. After all, who could say no to such a beautiful view...

As much as we love getting away, we are big homebodies and enjoy coming home just as much! My Brother stays at our place whilst we are away to both housesit and petsit and this is a wonderful arrangement that works for all of us. He does a wonderful job and we go away reassured that our pets are happy, fed and comfortable and that our house is in safe hands.

Another thing that made our homecoming so nice was being able to unpack our bags without the burden of a million loads of washing piling up as I thought ahead last night and washed and dried everything before we headed home. Something I will definitely do in the future! So nice to not have wet, sandy washing to wake up to in the morning!