Category Archives: Green

Green Living: A Guide to Shopping Vintage and Second-Hand

The last few weeks has seen about 15 parcels arrive on my doorstep as I started buying second-hand and vintage pieces for Spring and Summer. I got lucky in that everything I’ve bought so far has fit really well, but from now on I don’t really want to leave it to luck.

I’ve put together a list of tips so you can get the most out of your second-hand and vintage shopping, both online and in person.

1. Have a list of what you need. Etsy and eBay have tens of thousands of items of clothing, that it really is overwhelming to just browse. You may end up with lots of great pieces, but if there are things you need (for example, I needed flat leather sandals, 3 or 4 dresses, some denim shorts and at least one maxi dress) you should keep that list next to the computer or in your purse.

2. Know your measurements! This post on FreckledNest sums up everything you need to know about taking measurements for buying vintage dresses – it’s incredibly helpful and well worth a look. Keep a note with your measurements beside the computer and another one in your purse.

3. Work with what you know. If you have favourite current labels that you know fit well, then it’s worth scouting for second-hand or even BNWT (Brand New With Tags) pieces on eBay. I picked up 4 Anthropologie dresses recently for between $20-$90 because I now know that their size 6US fits perfectly. Keep a note of these too and you can snap up a bargain if you see it.

4. Be patient. Set up searches for the things you’re really after (I use the eBay app on my iPhone, which keeps track of new listings for things I’m looking for) and don’t settle for anything you’re not 100% sure of.When shopping in person, understand that it may take a few visits to your local second-hand/vintage/op-shop to strike gold. Plus chatting with the staff will help you figure out when they restock the store, when they have discount days and if there’s anything exciting waiting out the back.

5. Read carefully! When shopping online, be sure to read the descriptions carefully, as well as the sales conditions, shipping estimates and other essentials. Nothing worse than just skimming the description, only to find there is a stain on the garment or a button missing.

I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve been amazed at how much further my dollar stretches when shopping this way, plus that buzz you get knowing you’re wearing something one-of-a-kind. I do also love the environmental benefits of buying vintage and second-hand, plus it’s kind of like a scavenger hunt, with really good prizes!

Green Living : 3 Tips for Reducing Food Waste

via Bob West on flickr

Ever get that guilty feeling as you toss some good-food-gone-bad into the bin? Realized as you’re cleaning out the fridge that you had enough food for another meal or two, if only you’d thought to check, or been more organized?

Despite my best efforts I often have that realization and it really annoys me. So a while ago Sparky and I started planning our meals a week at a time. It’s really helped cut down on waste, it makes writing a shopping list easier and doing the groceries less of a pain.

But still we get caught and I thought I could give some tips on how we can salvage some of those easily wasted foods:

You can rescue a stale loaf of bread by wrapping it in a clean, damp tea towel for fifteen minutes. Take the teatowel off and pop it into a hot oven for three minutes or so. Not quite fresh baked but better than tossing it.

If you’ve bought too many veges, you can save them from an untimely end in the bin or the compost heap by freezing them. (This works particularly well for onions, carrots, pumpkin, parsnip and other root veges.) Just peel, chop and place into freezer bags, and freeze until you can use them.

Similarly, if you have too many berries, place them in a single layer on a baking tray and freeze. Once frozen you can pop them in a freezer container until you need them. (The first step just stops them from sticking together).

If you have lots of odds and ends of veges rolling about in the crisper, you can always cook up these vegetable quesadillas or this hearty soup. Both are really good ways to use up what’s left and eke out an extra meal from your weekly shop.

I’m constantly on the look-out for recipes like this, so if you know of any, please point me in the right direction!

Green Living: Rosemary Water Hairspray

{unrelated except that our rosemary is in the background}

Here’s something interesting I came across recently. You can make a hairspray alternative using rosemary and water.

I’m really keen to try this out, as even though I barely use hairspray, I am mindful of the fact that it is really toxic and could be inhaled by the kids on occasion.

I’ll let you know how it goes, but this is what you need:

a handful of (dried) rosemary sprigs
a French press
boiling water

1. Put the rosemary in the French press and fill with boiling water.

2. Allow to steep and cool for a couple of hours

3. Transfer to a spritz bottle and use in place of hairspray as needed.

Green Living: Shopping Vintage and Second-Hand

Spring is (nearly) in the air and I’m feeling sartorially inspired. I’m keen to find some new-to-me spring and summer clothes, accessories and shoes that are pre-loved, vintage or second-hand.

I immediately turned to Etsy (gah!! the choice is paralysing!!) and eBay and have started to slowly buy some bits and pieces for the warmer weather.

I know that the environmental benefit of buying vintage from a seller in the States and having it shipped to Australia is debatable (no resources used to make a new item versus the resources used to have it shipped here) but the majority of what I’m buying is local, so I’m OK with the occasional international purchase.

These ones have already made the cut and are currently being shipped:

from Specialty Vintage on Etsy

While these delicious treats are in the Definitely list:

From Margaret and Olivers on Etsy

From Thriftage on Etsy

From Sally Jane Vintage on Etsy

From Sally Jane Vintage on Etsy

How about you? Do you shop vintage or second hand at all? Do you have any red-hot vintage tips for me? Any must-visit stores? Do tell!!!

Green Living : Make Your Own Baby Food

We’re in the throes of introducing little Toby to all sorts of new fruits and veges at the moment (he is such a guts too – would literally eat anything and everything we offer him!) so making baby food is at the forefront of my brain these days.

Making your own baby food is really simple, and I find that if I do it all on a Sunday (my cooking/baking day) then it’s hardly stressful at all. Like most things, if you do it in bulk, the benefits are outweighed by the slightest bit of extra work. Plus it’s a lot cheaper than buying baby food all the time, and I know exactly what’s in it. (Better still when I can get local and/or organic fruit and veges to use, but that doesn’t happen all the time. Or most the time.)

Some good combos, as approved by Toby are:

– pear and apple
– pumpkin, sweet potato and corn
– carrot and corn
– pumpkin, potato, zucchini 
– (rice or pasts can be added to any of these as bub develops)

1. Peel and chop your chosen fruit/veges. The pieces should be around 2cm each.

2. Put in a saucepan with a little water – around 1-2cm.

3. Bring to boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer until the fruit or veges are tender.

4. Use a blender or a stick mixer to blend up the food for young babies, and a fork to mash it up once your little one can handle slightly chunkier food.

5. I freeze Toby’s food in plastic containers and pull it out as needed. 

When you’re travelling or get caught short, there’s now a few good, organic baby food options at the supermarket.

Raffertys garden is a good one, but I’d go for their organic products, as last time I looked I realized there’s no mention of their regular products being GMO free. So best avoided I’d say!