Charity Shop Haul

Yesterday, I posted a picture of myself on Instagram wearing a jumper I bought from a charity shop.  The picture has proved very popular and I’ve been ‘chatting’ to lots of new people who are, like me, really into charity shop shopping.

I’ve been buying stuff from charity shops for years (long before it was a fashionable thing to do) and have therefore had varied reactions from people when I tell them about my passion for second-hand.  My favourite conversation was with one lady who, whilst regularly donating her unwanted (and freshly laundered) clothes, wouldn’t dream of buying anything from charity shops because ‘the clothes are dirty and smelly’…erm, what?!  I do think charity shops have a far better reputation these days and some are so well laid out and the windows are so well dressed, they have almost a ’boutiquey’ feel to them.  In the town where I live there are more charity shops than anything else, so there’s never a shortage of bargains to be had.

Having been thoroughly disappointed by the sales in the high street stores, I decided to have a ‘charity shop mooch’.  This differs from a ‘charity shop hunt’, as with a hunt you have specific items in mind, a mooch is more open to inspiration!  There are a few bits that if I’m lucky enough to spot, I will always buy and that’s vintage teacups and saucers and 1980s clothing.

As it was the Sunday between Christmas and New Year, there were only a couple of charity shops open but I did get some excellent bargains.

The first item I found was in the Air Ambulance shop and it was the jumper mentioned above, which cost £4.25.  I think it’s a late 1980s/early 1990’s jumper and it has European sizing – I did a bit of research and I think the brand is German. Size-wise it’s a 42, which I think equates to a UK 14.  I like oversized jumpers with skinny jeans so it’s perfect.  I’ll mention here that it is worth being open to trying different sizes on when charity shopping.  I’ve got sizes ranging from 10 to 18 as some things do lend themselves to being worn a bit baggier or more fitted.  If you like the item, try it on – you might be pleasantly surprised!

Vintage Jumper

Vintage Jumper

From this charity shop, I also picked up two bath towels at £1 each, which I use under fleece in the guinea pig cages.  For those of you who do use fleece/towels combinations in your piggy cages, charity shops often tuck these bits away at the back of the store.  I always wash anything I use for the guinea pigs in fragrance-free non-bio powder and never use fabric conditioner.  I didn’t take any pics of the towels I’m afraid but hey, you all know what one looks like! (The piggies usually get a present or treat of some kind when I go shopping – spoilt piggies!)

The second shop I went in was the British Heart Foundation where I found this gorgeous vintage cup and saucer for £3.25.  I have a similar patterned set in pink, although the cup is larger.  I love the pastoral scene and the combination of blue and white is both traditional and elegant.

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Pretty Cup and Saucer

Pretty Cup and Saucer

The second item I bought from the BHF is this pair of almost-new Clarks pixie boots.  I LOVE Clarks’ shoes (I got a lovely new pair of black boots for Christmas) and as these were in my size (I have a 6.5 in Clarks) it was clearly fate!  I had a pair almost exactly the same back in the 80s when I was little, so these are a real piece of nostalgia.  I paid £8.99 for these but as they are leather and brand new would probably have cost around £60, I think they were a great find.

Clarks Grey Pixie Boots

Clarks Grey Pixie Boots

If you’re interested in seeing posts of my charity shop finds (amongst other things!), come and follow me on Instagram.  I love to see and hear about other people’s charity shopping too.

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How to make the perfect cup of tea (in my opinion)

Before I start this post, I just want to point out a couple of things:

1.  I have never written a ‘how to…’ post before so this could all go horribly wrong – especially as I’m trying to take pictures and make tea singlehandedly

2.  This is how I make my tea – I am aware that there are other ways to make it but this is how I like to do it…please don’t get cross if it’s not your preferred method of tea making 🙂

Right, that’s out the way so I’ll begin…

My first rule of successful tea-making is to always use fresh water in the kettle.  If you are worried about wasting the water already in the kettle you can use it to water plants (if it is cold) or to fill the washing up bowl (if it is hot).  Freshly drawn water makes a better brew.  I’m sure it’s got something to do with molecules, but I’m an Arts student so please don’t ask me for the scientific explanation because I’ll just look blankly at you!

Use fresh water in your kettle

Use fresh water in your kettle

Whilst the water is boiling, warm the teapot.  You can do this with a bit of the water from the kettle.  Swill it round the pot so that it is nice and warm.  This is also the time to select your tea.  I have a teapot with a built-in strainer, bought from a charity shop a while ago, which has a plunger like a cafetière and is great for leaf tea.  Otherwise, the traditional tea strainer can be used.  Today, I’m being lazy and using a tea bag.  The tea I am drinking today is one of Waitrose’s own brand Ceylon teas – a nice refreshing brew in the afternoon.

Nicely warmed teapot

Nicely warmed teapot

Pour the boiling water on your tea bag and leave to brew for around 3-4 minutes depending on taste.  I don’t drink milk in my tea, so I tend to leave my tea bag in for around 2 mins, stir and remove.  If you like your tea really strong, you can of course leave the teabag in the pot.  Choose a pretty cup and saucer – the one I am using today is made by Booths, England and is the ‘Dragon’ pattern.

Pour tea in pretty cup

Pour tea in pretty cup

Obviously, you can add sugar, milk or a lemon slice at this point.  Some people swear by milk in first and others say tea in first, but again that’s personal taste.

In my book, an afternoon tea needs a little yummy treat to accompany it.  As I don’t have any cake, I’m raiding the biscuit barrel.

Nice variety of biscuits to choose from

Nice variety of biscuits to choose from

If you want to do a traditional tea and cake, you can buy trio sets, which are comprised of a cup and saucer and a side plate for your cake.  As I’m just going for a biscuit, I’ve just wedged it on the side of the saucer (let’s face it, it’s not going to sit there for long).

Tea and biscuit

Tea and gluten-free lemon shortcake (Waitrose own brand)

The next part is quite controversial…I am a dunker and proud of it!  Obviously, don’t dunk for too long otherwise you get crumbly bits in your tea, which is not fun.  Also, some biscuits do not dunk well so this can be trial and error (Garibaldi biscuits tend to disintegrate in nano seconds, whereas a digestive has a good dunking consistency).

To dunk or not to dunk?

To dunk or not to dunk?

Sit down and enjoy.  Et voila – the perfect afternoon cuppa!