Tag Archives: Thrifty

10 Tips for Op-Shopping (AKA Thrifting)

Vintage Sheets

This is another of the posts I originally put together for Kidspot. I often get asked how I get so lucky and manage to find so much great stuff on my op-shopping adventures. While luck certainly plays a major role in my thrifting success, over the years I have picked up a few tips and tricks for sorting the trash from the treasure, so here they are!

Go Often

Stock in op-shops can come and go very quickly and the best items tend to move fast, especially in busy city stores. Go as often as you can to maximise your chances of finding hidden gems. If you are really serious about op-shopping, it doesn’t hurt to ask an employee when they refill their stock and find out if there is a schedule for adding new items. If you go right after the stock has been replenished you’ll beat everyone else to the good stuff.

Be Prepared

Some op-shops still don’t accept cards so make sure you have some cash on hand. Thrifting is also a bit more time consuming than shopping in retail stores and, unlike when you are at a shopping centre, there probably won’t be stalls selling snacks nearby. Make sure you have plenty of time and eat before you go. Op-shopping isn’t much fun if you are rushed or hungry.

Vintage Plates

Wander Further Afield

I have always found little op-shops in small towns to be absolute goldmines so when we go on road trips we always make a point of stopping at as many op-shops as we can. Try to get off the beaten track.

Be Thorough

Op-shopping is not like strolling through a clothes store where you can quickly scan the displays. You need to set aside some time to go through the individual racks of clothes, sort through the crockery and dig through the boxes of assorted junk. It takes a little more patience than traditional shopping but if you are thorough, you can be rewarded with great finds at bargain prices.

Only Buy The Things You Love

If you op-shop often and you bring home everything thing you like, you will very quickly find yourself overwhelmed with stuff. When I first started thrifting regularly I used to bring home almost everything that I liked (because it was so affordable) but I soon learned that this is just a recipe for clutter. The cost of all those small purchases adds up too, so you can wind up spending a lot more than you might imagine. Try to resist the things you like and only bring home the things you love.

Vintage Pyrex Bowls

Think Creatively

Look for the potential in things and try to be open-minded. Sometimes clothes, knick-knacks and furniture just need a minor alteration or repair to make them wonderful. Other things can be repurposed into something entirely new. Use your imagination and try to think outside the box.

Remember What You Actually Need

I have certain things that I collect, like vintage linens and vintage Pyrex, so when I enter an op-shop I make a beeline for those sections. I also try to keep a mental list of things I need and want, so that I remember to keep an eye out for them when I’m thrifting. I find that if you go into a store without any idea of what you need or want, you’re more likely to miss out on treasures (because you won’t be looking for them) or come out of the shop with a bunch of unnecessary extras.

Be Impulsive

It stands in direct contrast to my last point but part of the fun of op-shopping is that you can be a bit more impulsive than you might normally, and come home with something completely unexpected. I love the thrill of stumbling across something weird and wonderful! After all, if you change your mind about the item you can always donate it back.


Leave Some Treasures Behind

Sometimes I see an amazing vintage dress that isn’t in my size and find myself wondering who I could buy it for, or considering buying it to resell. When that happens I have to remind myself that I would probably never get around to listing all those vintage items that aren’t quite right for me, so they’d just be taking up space in my house. If it isn’t going to work for you, or you have no need or space for it, let it go. I find it helps to think about how happy the item will make the next person who comes along and can actually use it.

Don’t Get Discouraged

Sometimes I go months without finding a single thing and I begin to wonder if all the vintage treasures have disappeared for good, then out of nowhere I’ll find something amazing. You never know when you are going to discover the next little gem so don’t give up! In my experience, if it feels like your luck has totally run out, you are probably just around the corner from finding something really special.

Katie xx

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Thrifty Finds

It’s been such a long time since we shared any of our thrifty finds! We’ve found a few little gems lately…

Vintage Wood Pineapple Bowls

Like this vintage set of wooden pineapple bowls, still in their original packaging! Aren’t they cute?! That pretty sheet in the background is a recent find too.

Vintage Dish Set

And this lovely set of vintage Johnson Brothers dishes, as well as the tablecloth they are sitting on. Technically, I didn’t find the dishes. A friend picked them up for me. I am so grateful for friends who know me so well and “get” my taste!

Vintage Sheets

After months of thinking I might never find another vintage sheet again, in recent weeks I’ve gotten really, really lucky! All the sheets in the picture above are in mint condition and have never been used. The sets in packets I found on a random shelf in a secondhand furniture store. The ones that aren’t in packets were from an op-shop. All of them are complete sets with pillow cases and have never even been washed! Amazing.

Vintage Elephant Money Box

This sweet little elephant came home with me on the weekend. She looked so sad sitting on a table of junk at a garage sale and for $1, I just couldn’t say no.

Old Bottles

Like the Johnson dishes, I didn’t actually find these. They came with a purchase a friend made at an antique auction, and knowing how much I love old bottles, he gave them to me. These are going to look so pretty sitting on a windowsill holding flowers. I think the tiny bottles are particularly special (I love miniature things!)

Vintage Johnson Australia Cake Platter

I found this vintage Johnson cake platter in an op-shop a few weeks ago. This is actually the second Johnson cake platter I have found still in it’s original box. I found the first one a few years ago and we use it all the time, so I’m really happy to have found another (in a different design). I love Johnson crockery so much and I’m gathering quite a collection of it. I am thinking of donating all my other vintage plates and mugs and only collecting and using pieces by Johnson from now on, so our crockery will all match in a mismatchy kind of way. The pillowcase in the background was 50c at an op-shop last week.

Have you had any nice thrifty finds lately? I love hearing about peoples op-shopping/thrifting/flea-marketing adventures.

Katie x

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5 Simple Homemade Cleaners with just 3 Ingredients

5 Recipes for Green Cleaners with 3 Ingredients

I originally put this post together for Kidspot, but I thought most of you probably wouldn’t see it over there and it might be helpful, so I’m reposting it here. I might share a few of my other Kidspot posts in the coming weeks.

In the last year we’ve drastically reduced our use of commercial cleaning products. The only ready made products that we regularly use now are oxy action laundry soaker (which we add to the laundry when we wash our white sheets and white towels), bleach and dishwashing liquid. Just about everything else I make. When I first began making my own cleaners I thought it was going to be time consuming and was concerned about how effective homemade products would be, but I soon realised there was no need to worry. All of the cleaners I use can be whipped up in moments, with just a few ingredients, and they work a treat! Every bit as effective as store bought products, without the expense, chemical nasties and wasteful packaging. It makes me so happy that we’ve been able to replace some of the toxic products in our home with more natural, more safe and more environmentally friendly alternatives.

So here are five of the simplest homemade cleaners that I use. All of them have just three ingredients and can be thrown together in minutes!

All Purpose Spray

1 Cup Vinegar
1 Cup Warm Water
1/4 Tsp Tea Tree Oil

Combine the ingredients in a clean spray bottle and shake well. To use, spray on surface and wipe with a clean cloth.

Glass Cleaner

2 Cups Warm Water
1/4 Cup White Vinegar
1 Tbsp Cornstarch

Combine the ingredients in a clean spray bottle and shake well. To use, spray on glass and wipe with a lint free cloth, paper towel or a sheet of newspaper.

Toilet Cleaner

1 Cup White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Tea Tree Oil

Combine the vinegar and tea tree oil in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray mixture all over toilet, including inside the bowl. Allow vinegar mixture to sit for five minutes, then sprinkle baking soda all over the inside of the toilet bowl. Scrub inside of bowl with a toilet brush, then flush. Use a clean dry cloth to wipe vinegar solution off exterior.

Drain Cleaner

Boiling Water
1/2 cup Vinegar
1/4 Cup Baking Soda

Pour the baking soda down your drain (if the drain holes are small you may need to sift the baking soda first). Pour the vinegar down the drain. The mixture will froth up, so pop a plug in to stop it from bubbling into your sink. Leave the mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes, then flush with boiling water.

Laundy Powder

4 Cups Soap Flakes
2 cups Borax
2 cups Washing Soda (not to be confused with Baking Soda!)

Mix all the ingredients well and store the powder in and airtight container. Use 2 tablespoons of powder for each wash.

Happy cleaning!

Katie x

PS I’ve been using these recipes for while now so (unfortunately) can’t remember where they all came from, but the laundry powder is from Down to Earth. You can find more of Rhonda’s recipes here.

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Homemade Laundry Detergent

Empty Jars

Laundry Detergent Ingredients

Making Laundry Detergent

Homemade Laundry Detergent

A few years ago, if someone had told me that one day I would make my own laundry detergent I would have thought they were totally insane, but as you know, things change. I’ve changed. And last Sunday afternoon I found myself standing by the stove as the winter sunshine streamed though the kitchen window, stirring a pot full of lux flakes, borax, washing soda and water. Making laundry liquid.

I’d actually been considering this little project ever since I got my hands on Rhonda’s wonderful book last March, but had always managed to put it off. Even though the directions looked simple enough, making my own seemed so much more difficult than just grabbing some detergent at the supermarket. And to be very honest, I don’t think I was ready for that level of, well, hippyishness. I realise now that was silly and I needn’t have put it off. I used this recipe and the whole process was ridiculously quick and easy. I added some lavender oil and the finished liquid smells lovely. We’re still finishing off our last bottle of store bought detergent, so I’m yet to put my homemade stuff to the test, but I’m looking forward to giving it a go!

I didn’t do the sums but according to Rhonda’s math, it costs just $1.75 to make 10L of this laundry liquid, while 10L of a leading Australian laundry detergent would cost around $80. That’s a pretty incredible saving! It’s also really comforting to know we won’t be using anything nasty to wash our clothes. I shudder at the thought of all the chemicals most of us put on our skin and wash down the drain every day. Though there is some debate concerning the healthfulness of borax, in my mind it is a big step up from the string of unpronounceable ingredients in commercial products.

Do you have any great recipes, tips or secrets, for green, chemical free, cleaning? If so, I’d love to hear them!

Katie x

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Thrifty Finds

It’s been a little while since we posted about our op-shop finds, so I thought today I’d share some of our most recent treasures. We haven’t done a lot of thrifting lately, but have managed to squeeze in a few op-shop visits and garage sales here and there…

Vintage Tablecloths

I stumbled across a whole stack of vintage tablecloths at a garage sale last weekend. Naturally, I took the lot! I really can’t say no to pretty vintage linens.


I ummed and ahhed about this tea set, but in the end the fact it was complete and only $5 won me over. Because all of our plates and most of our mugs are vintage and have been gathered on our adventures, barely anything in our kitchen matches. Though I love our mismatched, scrappy collection, complete sets are so nice.

Vintage Apron

I rarely think to wear one when I’m actually cooking, but I love vintage aprons. This one with its cute floral print just might be my favourite ever.

Bedside Tables

We haven’t had bedside tables since we lived in Sydney, as our bedroom in Bendigo was too narrow to fit them in. These 70s tables were $25 for the set and they go with our old bed so perfectly. (Oh and look! We’re finally off the floor living room floor and in our bedroom!!)

Granny Blankets

Over the last couple of years we have acquired about eleventy million granny blankets, so I try to practice restraint and be selective about the ones I bring home these days, but I couldn’t resist these two. The colours are so good!

Vintage Serving Tray

Speaking of so good, this incredibly retro serving tray was $2! Yes!

Vintage Sheets

And last but not least, two more vintage sheets for my ever growing collection. The orange one matches the blue sheet from my last thrifty finds post! One day I hope to turn all my lovely old sheets into beautiful quilts… (and some more dresses!)

Have you had any great thrifty finds lately?

Katie x

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