My Love For Shopping Won Me A £500 Groupon Voucher

This Valentines day I discovered a great competition on the net while googling for Valentines competitions.

The competition was for bloggers and was being run by Groupon in partnership with Bloglovin. The brief… To write a post showcasing what you’d love to receive or give another for Valentines day.

The prizes being offered were almighty generous… 1st prize £500 Groupon Credit, 2nd prize… £250 Groupon Credit, 3rd prize… £100 Groupon Credit.

Given I was actually having a pretty rubbish valentines day with the love of my life snoring on the sofa by 7pm, meant that I had no problems kicking back and creating an elaborate list covering things I knew I was never gonna get! Well, not this year, not next year… Not ever! It wasn’t a bunch of flowers I wanted after all, but a whole day of pampering like a princess! Shopping for shoes and raving in Greece or some other place hot were just a handful on my list.

Well, I opted for a video and text entry and was delighted in discovering that I had bagged the first prize of £500 Groupon credit. Actually… the word “Delighted” Seems a bit of an understatement! This lady was made up with excitement and couldn’t wait to start shopping.

As I’ve got the Groupon iPhone App downloaded, its made it pretty easy to check out the daily deals! I really don’t know how I haven’t spent the lot already given they have had some awesome offers on during February. Well, I’ve spent just over £150 and have a new shiny cupcake maker, two tickets for the Hobbycraft show at excel this April, lash extensions, Banksy tees, a love film subscription, 2 tickets for hairstyling for myself and a friend at a top salon, and a potable dvd player and family film package on the way. Not bad for £150 wouldn’t you agree?

I’m really looking forward to the craft show at Excel. I’ll be heading there on the 6th April (my birthday) the day after I return from a Butlins holiday with the kids.

We received the Cupcake maker yesterday and my daughter is delighted at how “Pink” this is. I’ll be sure to showcase some finished cupcakes in the coming weeks.

So watch this space!

Oh… And if you haven’t yet experienced Groupon I’d suggest you hop to it!

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How to organise A slumber Party On A Budget (Part 1)

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My daughter turned 10 yesterday and because her birthday fell on a Tuesday we decided she could do something special last weekend.

I guess I thought she’d just want to have a party… Ok its a load of tidying up and a little preparation but I didn’t mind… Honest!

She did opt for a party but one of a different kind… Sleepover AKA… slumber party. I had a little think about it and decided that yes she could, but she was only having a maximum of 5 friends stay over the night.

In the end she opted for just 4 of her friends and as one couldn’t make it just 3 came! Nonetheless, 4 girls in total was actually more than enough… Girls can be bitchy to one another, even sweet little ten year olds ( or so I discovered).

So, they received an invite that stated “Please bring Your Sleeping Bags” and Alice excitedly awaited the weekend.

Me, I wanted my “Not” so little girl to enjoy herself but I still wanted to stay sane during the process, especially given I’d be parenting a demanding 3 year old toddler and a melt down prone almost teenage boy with Aspergers Syndrome on the side. With this I sat down with Alice and we brainstormed on things they could do to make the sleep over exciting and fun but also in a cost efficient way (its January not one of my best months for money).

Here’s a few ideas we came up with…

Home made girly bunting & other decorations for the bedroom
Tattoo bar (temporary of cause)
Nail bar (again temporary)
Hair Bar
Face Painting
Girly chick flicks accompanied by a hot chocolate bar and popcorn cups
Monster High Cupcakes
Few little gifts on the night
Personalised girly gift bags (for when they leave)
Board Games
Karaoke
And more besides… She made a reasonable size list!

We came up with an agreement that was …

Alice could have the sleep over, mum (that’s me) would make the decorations and cakes and bags with Alice’s help. On the night Alice would be provided with all the supplies to have an awesome time but she would then need to use them as she wished… example being that she would not once tell me she was bored! She would organise her hair and nail bar and create her own schedule for the nights event. The only rule being was that all these things were done by 10 pm and then it was time to settle down with hot chocolate and watch the movies provided. I would also be making dinner at a set time so she would need to organise her fun around this time too.

The party Shop…

I decided a trip to PoundLand was in order. It was the perfect place to grab some materials for the nights events.
It was here that I stocked up on treats like crisps, marshmallows, sweets etc. I also grabbed a 20 flag bunting in all different colours as well as balloons, pretty cupcake cases and cake toppers, cupcake stand and decorative tags. Plus I found some pretty little wire butterflies and flowers that I felt would be perfect decorations for the bags. I think I spent around £15, so not to bad at all.

Next stop was Primark… Yes seriously! I was there buying myself some PJs when I noticed the big discount basket that was full off stick on nails. They had these great sparkly metallic gold leopard print design and were reduced to a fab-Tastic 50p each. That was another £2 spent.

Next up was eBay… No queues or heavy bags here. This time I was shopping from the sofa. Here I did very well. I won a bid for a bulk load of 30 girly party bag items. There was 6 different items 5 of each. These include… Temporary tattoo packs, wooden bangles, friendship bands, sticker sheets, packs of 4 hair accessories and mascaras (that they didn’t get). I won the bid at £2.20 with £1.50 postage. The stuff is of excellent quality so I was super happy.

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I also brought a bag of 100 acrylic Alphabet beads (£1.40 free postage) 20 funky plastic rings £1 with 85p postage and 10 heart mobile phone charms (that can also be used on iPods, hand gaming consoles and more) these were 99p with £1.99 postage.

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The last two items I got from eBay were a pack of pretty girly cellophane flower design bags and a pack of 20 monster high rice paper cupcake toppers both items were £2 each with free postage.

Prep…

Given the bunting was rather plain (just brightly coloured flags on a string, we decided to cheer them up with stuff from the craft cupboard.

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We used…

Different size decorative tapes in 5 different designs (pink lace, stripy, Love, skull and cupcake)
Self adhesive buttons
Self adhesive hearts
Mod podge gloss

We cut the 20 flag strip in two halfs of 10.

We used the different tapes in various ways to decorate each flag. Some had multiple strips where others just received a boarder along the top.

We used the different embellishments to decorate. Buttons were applied directly to the tape or in the middle or bottom of our flags. The hearts were sometimes gathered in groups of 2 or 3 giving a bold and girly design.

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The skull tap did look a little pirate theme but we then added a strip of Pink Love tape along with a heart to make it stand out in a girly fashion.

The last step was to apply one coat of mod podge to each flag. Now although the flags and some of the tapes were already ultra glossy due to the material they were made from, I decided to do this as to make the bunting stronger and to give the embellishments and other bits that same glossy look.

Mod Podge applied to this material dries in minutes. Our bunting took less then 20 minutes to make which does include drying time. It was therefore up on the wall in no time.

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Other decorations we made together, were some very pretty hanging butterflies that would not only be fab decorations for a slumber party but a great addition to her bedrooms decor like that of the butterfly canvas we recently created and showed you here on the blog. With this I’ve decided to show you these in a later post (that will include a little tutorial). We also made paper chains from decorative papers and pompom garlands. All items apart from the flag bunting were already housed in our crafts cupboard, so the costs were kept very low

As for the party bags (for when they leave to go home) we created these with the following items…

Clear cellophane bags with flower design.
Wire ties (came with bags)
Self adhesive wire flowers and butterflies
Ribbon (different colours)
Decorative tags
Decorative paper and a balloon and heart craft punch (to make sequins)
Party Bag Contents (the items from eBay, including the rings and mobile charms)

These, were simple to create but the end results were very pretty, much better than your bog standard party bag that normally involves little themed bags that kids tip all over the floor just so they can find what it is they are looking for.

I wanted the bags to be see-through hence the cellophane bags. This allows kids to see whats inside without even opening them. Nonetheless, I still wanted them to be really pretty and girly so opted for the flower design I’ve mentioned above.

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Each bag was filled with the treats mentioned and there was no inclusion of any sweets. I hate it when my kids bring home bags of sticky sweets following a party. 1- They may have siblings (and we all know how kids like to share their sweets) and 2- Sugar highs are not welcomed by all parents. I also decided to hold back the mascaras. I didn’t fancy parents calling me up asking why the hell their 10 year olds were stood in front of the mirror poking themselves in the eye as they stood applying mascara! The contents were however really fun and girlie and included all the other little bits I mentioned earlier within this post.

To add sparkle and that something extra, myself and daughter sat for what felt like ages punching out balloon and heart shapes from decorative papers with the craft punches. We then added a handful of these shapes to each bag before finally tying them shut with the plastic wire ties followed by pretty ribbon tied into a bow.

The last few steps were to apply the self adhesive wire flower and butterfly shapes to the centre of each tied bag (one for each). Finally we used a small piece of our pretty “Love” print tape to attach the pretty decorative tags that we hand wrote the names of each child attending.

Stunning don’t you think…

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So… to find out what food we created, cakes we made and special little gifts we gave, be sure to return to read our second instalment of “How to organise A slumber Party On A Budget” I’ll be sharing tips on how to create fun party food on little money, cocktails appropriate for 10 year old little ladies and an update on just how well Alice’s slumber party played out… Warning Paracetamol intake involved.

This Weeks Charity Shop Finds

This week I visited a local charity shop not far from where I live. I found a few nice bits and bobs but there was one item I particularly fell in love with and its that I want to share today.

This shabby chic wooden box.

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This is a really pretty box! It has lovely detail with rustic hinges and beautiful hand painted pink roses. The base colour on the box is that of a pretty light almost mint green and cream which works beautifully with the rose pattern design.

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The box is really sturdy and well made. It has plenty of room inside to store jewellery or other items. I’ve decided it will make a brilliant storage box for all of my little odds and ends, the kind you struggle to know where to store … Hair clips, brooches etc.

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The box was priced up for an amazing 50p so I must say that, yes… I came out of there smiling.

Anyone else found any charity shop treasure this weekend?

Jumble Sale Finds – The Ultimate Treasure

This week I again visited a Jumble Sale that was also running an auction.

Here’s whats I found…

Jumble Sale…

Darjeeling From Twinings Stacked Tea Tin

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This very pretty stacked tea tin in blue and white with gold top opens into 4 different sections. Its extremely pretty and decorative and I think it would be the ideal tin to store crafty things like pins and buttons. Of course it was a total jumble sale bargain at just 20p

Decorative Lead Crystal Twinklet pots and jars

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two of these twinklets are most definitely lead crystal and the other is just pretty decorative glass I think (but still rather heavy in weight). I gave these a clean so they would really shine and now they are ready to dress up my new dressing table which I’ll be getting in the new year. Maybe these could house bobby pins or cotton buds. Im currently using one to store my rings in. Again these were a total jumble sale bargain. I paid 50p for one and the other two I got for £1.30 for the pair.

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Tall Traditional Sweet Jar

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This reminds me of the vintage jars housed in a traditional sweet shop… You know… The ones who used to sell sweets from a jar, weighed on a proper scale. I’m not referring to them many online stores that sell “retro” sweets. I’m talking monkey nuts, bonbons and cough candies sold by the quarter! Well, if I’m not mistaken, I think this jar is probably just that… A vintage sweetie jar. Its perfect as a source of storage or maybe the framework for a homemade gift for a friend or family member. This is nice and tall so you could layer sherbets and other sweets or maybe create a pamper jar filled with handmade bath bombs, face packs and shop brought makeup miniatures… The possibilities are endless.

So… How much was my sweetie jar? At 40p I found it more than reasonable.

Auction Buys

Art Deco Vintage Glass Lamp

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At the auction I picked up this stunning glass and crystal lamp. It looks very vintage and Art Deco and i just love it. This was actually buried in a box of lamps and lamp shades, so therefore auctioned as part of a large lot! Unless you had a good dig round before the action began, you wouldn’t have even known it was in there… Well I didn’t till I found myself bidding for a box of random lamps that I was hoping to use for a craft project! Maybe that’s why it came home with me for just a quid!!! Yep one of my best ever finds… My stunning £1 lamp!

20121215-185610.jpgI love the reflection the light makes on the walls and ceiling, it really is very pretty.

As for the other lamps in the box, it was the shades I was biding for. I wanted to upcycle them with the use of fabric off cuts and buttons. Nonetheless… This remains on my “To Do List” but I’ll most defiantly share the results when I do.

A Thrifty Toy Auction

I always get a bit overexcited when I hear an auction is coming to town, especially one with big lots of toys.

Last week I attend a jumble sale and auction. Both running via the same organisers on the same site, just different rooms.

Boy, did I have my eye on a lot of treasure… Some I won, others… Sadly not!

I bagged a fantastic lot of toys. These were in one lot and included…

Two limited edition bears ( one called Hayley and the other named Bailey). These are in mint condition and I’ve seen them fetch a few quid on eBay recently.

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A very cute but cool Noddy that speaks a few words when his tummy is pressed.

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A large Upsy Daisy from “In The Night Garden”

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A soft bodied “Bob The Builder” rucksack.

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As mentioned all the toys came together as one single lot. However, during the course of the auction, there was some mix up with the toys located next to those up above. The guy had announced the two separate lots as one. I actually won the biding at £6 and it was only following my win did a buyer point out the mistake. I was asked what lot I thought I was bidding on and I explained that I thought that I was bidding on both as one.

Because of the mix up I was asked if it would be ok to sell the other lot and I could keep the above for FREE… Yes, FREE!

What a result that was.

The other items were not really of interest and I would have only passed them on and kept these anyhow.

Nonetheless, I did spend a little money as I also brought a beautiful bike for the toddler which I won for £7, a whole box full of lamps and shades (including vintage and crystal) for just £1, and lastly, a stunning shabby chic vintage tea set, that I’m in love with.

I’ll be sure to share some pictures of those over the coming weeks.

This Weeks Jumble Sale Finds

Ok, Technically these are last weeks finds as opposed to this weeks. I got them all when I went to a local jumble sale last Saturday. Having brought so many bargains i’ll be going to another tomorrow and I really cant wait…. Addicted!!

So, last week I came home with bags of treasure (how lucky it was we had a friend who drives with us or I don’t know how we would of got this lot home).

We bagged all sorts of bargains and here’s some of our best jumble sale finds…

Clothing & Footwear

A pair of Kids size 13 denim Converse high tops. The price… An amazing 25p

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One real children’s Christian Dior Skirt 50p

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Monsoon children’s coat £1

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Awesome toddler Kids Dinosaur Kidorable raincoat 50p

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2x vintage children Ulster Weavers painting aprons 10p each (20p for the 2).

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Toys…

Thomas the Tank Engine Pull Along Case (needs a sticker mark removing) 30p

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4x Usborne Children’s Craft Books 10p each (40p for 4).

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A Peppa Pig Wooden Train and blocks 20p

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Brand New Boxed Babyliss Crazy Braid 3, 50p

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DK Children’s Craft Book (The Rainy Day Book) 10p

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For the Home…

New Marks and Spencer Decorative Dish, 50p

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Mini Decorative Vintage Draws. (May cover these in my own fabric). Cost 20p

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Pretty Vintage Bone China Tea Cup & Saucer (20p each so 40p for the both).

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Mini Shelfs (veg style) 50p, Got this to put some of my craft items on.

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Pretty Decorative Vase, 20p (use to store paint brushes).

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This Weeks Charity Shop Finds

I love it when the charity shop is housing some little gems for me to purchase and then shout about!

Charity shops have become pretty clever places when it comes to pricing. What I mean is what you used to be able to pick up for 10p is now £10. I’m not stating its wrong that they’ve done their research I’m just stating that for us it tends to be a tad harder to find them hidden gems.

Nonetheless, they do still exist and I have evidence within my latest buy…

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Your eyes do not deceive you, this is two pairs of converse in a child’s size 9. One blue and one white pair of ‘Converse All Stars’ priced at the remarkably low price of just £1 each… Yes, thats… One serious bargain!

I’m yet to wash these, but anyone who own a pair of converse will know how amazingly well they wash up. I recently washed the toddlers and my daughters ‘High Tops’ that as a result look brand new again. I actually brought the toddlers lime green high tops from eBay for 99p. They had been worn just the once but I guess the fact the listing title contained a typo as well as it ridiculous ending time of the very small hours meant luck was on my side! Oh, and if your wondering how on earth I managed to find it then check out the fat fingers app which is simply genius.

Well, the toddler is currently wearing a comfy size 7 so I can even make a profit on eBay or keep them for the toddler. I could even spilt them keeping one for Harley and selling the other. I think he will most definitely keep one pair and given his a boy the second is a big possibility.

Did I find anything else? Well I did get a new pretty saucer which I’ve added to the collection. I’m planing on making a pretty vintage inspired jewellery holder with these and some pretty miniature vintage style sherry and shoot glasses. This was a steal at 20p especially given its bone china too. I won’t show you all as I’m planning to crack on with the jewellery stand In the coming days so I’ll just show you then.

Would love to hear of any readers charity shop finds…. Have you found any hidden gems lately?