the skinflint philosopher

Attempting to thrift our way to a better life, with a toddler in tow!


Thrifty toddler christmas decorations

Just a short little post to show you a few things that Tiddler has been busy creating over the last weeks in the run up to Christmas. As always, getting the craft things out amounts to an open invitation to smear glue, glitter and paint on anything she can get her hands on. Clearly our crafting is way below the minimum requirement for Pinterest/Good housekeeping magazine standards- we are just having a bit of fun with junk, packaging and the odd sequin or two. She doesn’t mind (or know) what other busy crafters are out there making; we are just having a bit of fun on the cheap. It keeps restless hands busy, active bodies still, and opens up creativity to fire up all those brain pathways as well as plenty of opportunities for improving her dexterity, colour, shape and texture knowledge, and just some downright bonafide christmas hygge Mama and Tiddler time.

Gummi bear advert calendar– we did eventually find a chocolate one in a shop (clearly not a common tradition here in Bulgaria) but Tiddler found this one much easier to cope with as the numbers were in sequence, so it was more useful for practicing our counting too. Tiddler’s real name is at the top, hence why the photos are cropped a little.

Crackers. Also impossible to find in shops here (rural-ish Bulgaria, I’m sure they are available in Sofia), we opted to make ones that can be untied, each with a christmas motto, balloon and sweet inside. We ended up making nine crackers (as Tiddler enjoyed dropping the goodies inside each tube so much), for what we thought would be a four person christmas day dinner. Turns out I grossly underestimated the guest list that I shall be cooking an “Énglish” traditional dinner for, so we don’t have enough crackers at the moment and more will need to be made. More on that bombshell – for a vegetarian who has never even cooked a Sunday roast before – in a later post!)

Decorated Christmas trees – card, sequins, glitter, glue, all little items that came with us all the way from the island in Leo. It it sparkles it must be good.

A special mention for the Christmas card below, not crafted by us, but made and sent to us here by my good friend and fellow blogger over on retired but not retiring. 🙂 Great stuff!
Woodland scene – Our walks in the parks and woods have given us plenty of opportunities to cut boughs of various pines and spruces, and find some amazing fir cones for Rudolph creations (and you know I save and reuse those googly eyes from one animal creation to the next), and our local coffee shop serves up their cakes on little dollies that have become perfect snowflakes.

Nativity – The piece de resistance though has to be the loo roll nativity. Materials: scrap paper, cloth, felt, ribbons, string, pipe cleaners, cotton wool etc.  I’m especially proud of the satsuma net turban!


Over to you to share any of your christmas crafting in the comments?
And in case I don’t get to post up again before the 25th, Happy Christmas and Vesela Koleda / весела коледа from Thrifter, Digger and Tiddler, and thanks for following all our upheavals, travels and general mutterings for this year. Seasons greeting to you all! x


Skinflintery of the week

Sometimes Thrifter spends (lol) too longer philosophising to actually get round to tell you about her thrifting. So this week, despite blowing the GNP of a small independent state on two Teas and Cakes out with friends, the frugal headlines of this week are:

Homemade Halloween outfit for Tiddler: Cost £0.00
Black leggings that she has anyway, a black flight sock of mine stuffed with other socks and tucked in the waist band of the leggings, a faux fur lined little jacket she has turned inside out to give a furry coat, a headband wrapped in a strip of black material with two cardboard triangles glued on, my kohl eyeliner for facepaint whiskers and nose.
This was such a roaring success that it has been worn three other times this week, and even this morning while she has not bothered with the rest of the outfit, she is currently running around the house with a flight sock tail.

Christmas gift materials (hair bands): Cost £1.20
Thrifter belongs to a couple of book groups, and we always have a ‘just before Christmas’ get-together where we exchange gifts. As many of them are crafters through and through, a tradition has developed that we each make (or buy) a gift for all the other book groupers. The stipulation is that each gift is roughly £1-2 maximum cost per person, and we make a copy of the same gift for every member. This way, rather than receiving a single larger ‘secret santa’ gift, instead you get to unwrap multiple teeny tiny bundles of joy. So this year we have purchased some elastic hair bands for my crafty idea, but I can’t post what it is yet as some of the book group read this blog!
In actual fact, we unexpectedly made money while standing in the queue to buy these. Tiddler managed to charm the two ladies waiting behind us (based on I think a combination of Granny’s homeknit hat and cardigan and a lovely rendition of the alphabet song, which together must have pulled on the heartstrings) and so she ended up with a shiny pound in her hand to put in her moneybox.

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Shoe polish: cost £0.00
A thrifter’s tip- I have a pair of shoes which I rub a little bit of cooking oil into every now and again to keep the leather from drying out. It works a treat.

Tannin stains: Cost £0.00
Given that cups of tea often sit around this house to go cold before they are drunk (Digger seems to prefer his cold (eh?) and Thrifter gets waylaid with a chore or a Tiddler and forgets about them till too late), our mugs are prone to build up a very unattractive brown lining. This week it was time to do a deep clean of them again, so a small quantity of clothes washing powder in each, poor on boiling water, allow to sit for five minutes, and the tannin peels of all by itself. No scrubbing necessary.

Slide and climbing frame: Cost £0.00
How to save yourself £250? This little gem was spotted at our civic amenity site. Otherwise known as ‘the dump’ where people take their garden waste and household rubbish that is not collected from your doorstep, it can be a great hunting ground for the savvy thrifter, as one section is set aside for things that other people may wish to reuse or recycle. It is of course, hit and miss. Sometimes when I stop by there is nothing, but other times you hit the jackpot. Following a frantic call to Digger who was luckily working nearby, I managed to stake a claim on this great pile of plastic till he could come and collect it in his van.  Not quite sure what it was, or what on earth it was supposed to look like, Google came to our aid to tell us how to jigsaw puzzle it together but also the original cost. Seems not everyone is as thrifty as we are when it comes to simply getting rid or something they don’t want anymore. I can’t complain of course, and neither can Tiddler. Look closely and you can spot Tiddler with her cat tail making good use of it already.

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Now as so much of our lives are by now automatically ‘thrifty’ there are so many other little things we do without thinking everyday that could have made this list, but I’ll leave you just with these for now. Who knows what next week will bring! Happy thrifting!