Practically Ethical’s Top Finds – Late Spring 2018

I’ve been inspired to start a regular Top Finds series after watching a few Mummy Vlogs last week (don’t judge – Thursday was my first child-free morning in 2 weeks after half-term and vlogs help ease the boredom of pairing socks and picking up toys). It struck me how much stuff is being flogged in vlogs. Brand new, expensive stuff. Unnecessary stuff. Sponsored stuff. Gifted stuff. Everything you need for a complete and happy family life. Stuff for maximum convenience. The same goes for Instagram too. Don’t get me wrong. I fall back on convenience a fair bit. I’m not perfect. But I want to show that you don’t have to buy everything “new” to get what you need or want.

These posts will be loosely based on the buyerarchy of needs – I’m trying to remember the 5 stages to check off before resorting to Brand New by heart.

I’ve posted this diagram before but here it is again in case you’re new or need a refresher:

I’m hoping this will also give me a bit of a nudge to stop relying on buying new and internet shopping quite so much; in a nutshell, to start being more creative with the resources we already have and using our local shops more too.

Late Spring 2018 Top Finds.

1. Toy Storage – all found in local vintage and charity shops. Total cost £22.

Clockwise from top left: picnic basket £4 from our local Community Village Charity Shop, vintage French basket £17, sewing baskets £1 for both from Humanity at Heart.

Our home is always plagued by too many toys. I decided to look out for dual purpose storage: storage for toys and props for role play games and stories. What I love about these baskets is their versatility for both play and storage. I’m sure their contents will change as often as the girls grow taller; we’ll be able to use them when the girls have grown up too. By having lots of different baskets we can easily assign a toy type to a basket. This means we can now tidy up much more quickly as everyone knows what belongs where. And another reason to love them – they’re not plastic or MDF and they’re from the circular economy. I thought it would take a little while to find enough storage baskets for all the loose bits but it only took 2 days of searching in 3 local shops.

2. RMS “Un” Cover-Up – £34 from LoveLula and REN Satin Perfection BB cream – sample pot from my Mum – FREE.

I’m a huge fan of clean beauty products. One of the products I’ve struggled to find over the years is a really decent under-eye concealer. My search is finally over: RMS “Un” Cover-Up is astonishing. I pat and blend this under my eyes in the morning and I literally look 10 years younger. Yes, it’s expensive but a little goes a long way. It can also be used as a light foundation. A new staple in my make-up bag. This was an internet purchase as I haven’t found a local stockist of RMS. Love Lula send out purchases packed in completely recyclable packaging and have an amazing online community of over 2,000 customers. I found the right shade of this product with the help of other members in Love Lula’s closed Facebook group.

I bought the REN Satin Perfection BB cream for my mum for Mother’s Day. I’ve also been wanting to try it for a while. She gave me a travel pot with a generous helping in to try last week. Thanks Mum! And it’s good. Very good. I like the coverage and slightly sheeny finish. It’s nice for a very lightly made up look and perfect for late spring. It’s also SPF 15.

I’ve swapped beauty products with my Mum before. I highly recommend finding a couple of family members or friends to do this with, otherwise dud purchases can be so easily wasted. It’s also a great way to try new products, especially if you don’t want to buy a full size version without trialling first. So, stop being British and ask your mate for a dollop of their moisturiser or lipstick you’ve been coveting. Offer something of yours up too. And if you find yourself with a product that doesn’t work for you, ask around and find someone else to give it a whirl. You may just find someone’s new hero product for them. You can buy little glass jars with aluminium lids from lots of online retailers. I use these for travelling and have stopped buying sample pots and travel sizes.

3. Logs from our garden – husband’s gardening efforts – FREE!

The husband has been busy in the garden recently. He’s been tackling some very large hedges in an extremely overgrown border. Here are some logs from a Hornbeam that had to be taken out, seasoning nicely for Autumn.

4. Lego table – table and chair handed-down, Lego baseplate £7, velcro squares from The Husbands DIY stash.

This cute little 50s school table and chair set was handed-down to us about 3 years’ ago. It’s been in and out of our decluttering pile over the past couple of years because we haven’t been able to make it work anywhere – too small for 2 children to sit at; not enough storage to be useful. We recently put it in the garage with a view to donating it to charity. But inspiration struck last weekend when the Big One was spread out in the front room with Lego everywhere; she looked really uncomfortable hunched over on the floor. I’ve recently decluttered the playroom, creating space for a Lego area as part of the process. I started looking at Lego tables and IKEA hacks online but remembered the table and chair we already had in the garage. They make a perfect Lego creation station and fit into the space really well. I’ve added an XL Lego baseplate to the table, which I’ve attached with self-adhesive velcro.

5. Sail Cargo Olive Oil £11 from Barcombe Nurseries

I bought this olive oil through our Barcombe Nurseries veg box a couple of weeks’ ago. This olive oil is organic, single origin and shipped to the UK by sail boat from Portugal. It tastes gorgeous and feels very rustic in it’s simple bottle. Does it get any more hipster? Zero air-miles organic single-estate origin olive. 💚. A great example of how internet shopping can be wholesome.

6. Chocolate cornflake cakes and banana bread – FREE – just using up stuff in the cupboards.

Childhood nostalgia for me with an extra large sprinkling of hundreds and thousands added by the Big One.

We had a small amount of leftover Easter chocolate and I had a rare morning with The Big One on her own this week. Cornflake cakes are a complete doddle to make and aside from melting the chocolate, butter and golden syrup over the hob and assisting her with weighing out ingredients, I didn’t need to help much more: she pretty much made these cakes by herself. I think that’s brilliant for a 4-nearly-5 year old.

Food waste is no joke and we’re making big efforts to reduce our food waste. These simple little cakes show something much more important – that you can turn some very simple store cupboard and leftover ingredients into something delicious. Not to mention a fun and educational way of spending quality time with little ones. Mine love cooking and they can learn so many great and varied skills along the way if you give them manageable tasks.

I used up a bunch of almost black bananas to make a huge banana bread yesterday. I’ll freeze half and we’ll enjoy the other half over the weekend. The Little One helped this time – she loved peeling and mashing the bananas, cracking the eggs, helping with the mixer and shaking the flour sifter. The recipe included lots of ingredients that needed using up and could easily have been binned. I’m proud that we salvaged a whole bunch of overripe bananas and a couple of other store cupboard items.

Slightly burnt but still delicious.

And for balance and honesty. Here is my Top Late Spring fail:

A very expensive bunch of greetings cards and invitations. I only realised they were all individually wrapped in plastic when I opened a card for the Big One to write for her friend’s birthday party after school. I’m really ashamed that I missed this. It’s so flipping obvious. Buying cards is something I do on automatic. And that’s shameful. I really hate the expense of greetings cards, so the combo of needless plastic wrap and cost have prompted me to look into some alternatives for next time. Watch this space!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you found any amazing things in Late Spring? Do you try to avoid buying new all the time? Do you have any great tips you’d like to share?

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