Mrs Williams

I’ve Moved

…and you can find me now over at


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I’m back!!

Hi there, it’s been a while…you’re looking fabulous by the way…

I’ve been a bit useless haven’t I?! I am hanging my head in shame of course. There are a couple of reasons for it. But the main one is that I was really good at blogging when I was at uni and when I was unemployed, but a full time job sure did hit me hard in terms of time to write, and indeed time to do most of the fun things I liked.

I’ve also struggled a bit with quite why I write a blog and what it should be about.  But new year and all that, i thought it was about time I get back in touch and I plan this year to continue filling you in, with a particular focus on my wish (and struggle) to follow an eco-friendly sort of a life, and also on my crafting journey.

Until 2011 I believed I couldn’t do anything crafty at all. I’m not a perfectionist AT ALL (Oh how I wish I was, my sister in law and my best friend are both total perfectionists, and everything they ever make looks fabulous) so throughout school, whenever we did art or crafts I was useless. But in 2011, my wonderful mother in law helped me to make our beautiful wedding invitations, and i thought ‘hmmm…if I have clear instructions, and decent equipment, I can make some ok stuff.’ so since then I have tackled knitting, crochet (my crocheting got out of control, I have spent so many hours making blankets in 2012), some embroidery, and a variety of other bits I’ve seen on Pinterest. But this year I AM going to learn to sew. I’m desperate to make quilts, but I don’t even know how to sew on a button at the moment, so my task for this year is to learn. I have a sewing lesson booked next week, so watch this space!!

In other news, life here continues to be quite lovely. I still have a lovely husband who treats me much better than I deserve. Our house is lovely, and some of my crafts are starting to make it lovelier, and I have a wonderful new job. I am working for CLIC Sargent, a childrens cancer charity, based on the paediatric oncology ward in Southampton. I am still learning the job, but it is an incredible privilege to be on that journey with families, and to try to work with them through the darkest days anyone can imagine.

So I’m back, and i will continue to update on things that some of you might be interested in. If you’re not, that’s fine too!!

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Thrifty Thursday – Getting my crochet on

So, Im a little embarassed about my last post…pretty emo…but its also true so for now I’m leaving it up.


However, in the meantime, I wanted to write a quick post about my new love – Crochet!!!

I learned in April (my mother in law is excellent and taught me in about ten minutes!!!) and immediately loved it! Unlike my knitting efforts last year, I quickly got the hang of crochet sufficiently to make stuff! and I love it. As I am currently living with unemployment (although I finally have a start date for my new job!!) its been a great way to fill the time without spending TOO much money.

Dont get me wrong, wool aint cheap. Or rather GOOD wool aint cheap. I learned this the hard way when I tried to use cheap wool from the post office and produced something that would only be appropriate at a Salvation Army Home League (if you’ve ever been to one, you know what I mean…the wool they use to knit little army ladies!!) However, for a special and personal gift, this is such a good investment! I made a blanket for my friend Carla to give her as a wedding present, one for my brother as a graduation gift (he wanted Lord of the Rings colours so it was manly…) and most recently a throw for my friends new house because she has bought charity shop furniture and wanted some things to make it more homely. To try to buy something THAT special and THAT personal, would cost me a whole ton more than the wool costs (I’ve never spent more than £30 on all the wool for one blanket) and I love making stuff for people I care about.

The stuff i’ve made isnt perfect, its pretty obviously home-made (mostly because I ignore most of the instructions about tension, and blocking, and what are other, probably very important, finishing touches) but its so cute! I’ve never been very creative, I cant draw or paint or come up with exciting ideas, but crochet is just about counting…and I can do that! and then somehow I have created something and I’m pretty darn proud of it.




















But then my previously mentioned excellent mother-in-law told me some stuff about prayer shawling. The idea of making something but praying over it, and praying for the person you’re making it for whilst you’re making it. And then them using it in their own prayers, like a big ol blessing they can just wrap themselves in, maybe when it’s just too hard to find the words to pray. Check this out  I think there’s something pretty beautiful about that, and it makes me even more excited about the crafting opportunities of this. Quite how it will continue once I’ve got a job will be interesting to see, but it definitely chills me out to sit and do this in front of the telly so I do think it’s something I’ll carry on with! I am sort of running out of people to make blankets for though, so might need to learn how to make something else soon!


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Thrifty Thursday – A Wedding Special

So, as mentioned yesterday, this week is mine and Matt’s wedding anniversary. It is crazy to think that a year has passed, and we have had TONS of fun!! We actually have two wedding anniversaries, as we got married twice (as you do)…so Monday just gone we celebrated our LEGAL anniversary, but next Monday is a year since our actual wedding. I love having two excuses to celebrate.

Anyway, our wedding was one of my best ever efforts in terms of thrift and creativity, and as its getting into wedding season, I thought I would use this week as a chance to share some of what I tried and learned, what worked and a little of what didnt…and a chance to show off some of my beautiful pictures! My parents are Salvation Army officers and despite their incredibly low income, they worked hard to save money since I was born to pay for our wedding, so we really wanted to make sure that the way we spent that money in a way that honoured how hard they had worked both to earn and save the money. So here’s what we did…

1) The Dress

I went dress shopping two weeks after we got engaged in a wedding shop in Brisbane. I was over visiting my parents for Christmas, spending a week at their home in Papua New Guinea and then a week in Brisbane. The dress was beautiful, and the fact that I found it with my Mum (bearing in mind that she wasnt able to be involved in any of the rest of the planning) made it ‘the one.’ The dress was AU$2200 and by a brand called ‘Essense of Australia’ so I wasnt sure that I’d be able to have it or get it. However, after some online research, I found that it was available in the UK and that a place in Basingstoke had it for £1200. That still seemed like a lot.

My very lovely friend Sarah got her dress second hand online and really pleaded with me to look around before spending that kind of money…literally the same day, shopping on I found the dress in this shop, it was a shop sample so had been tried on a couple of times, and it was a size bigger than I needed, but it cost me £500!!! One of my bridesmaids found me a friend of a friend who did the alterations for £50, and I ended up selling the dress, again on preloved for £300 after the wedding, so my total spend was £250…a far cry from the original $2200.


The Centrepieces

We spent SO many hours trawling charity shops, but we managed to collect enough teapots to have one on every table filled with flowers.  We had different cream coloured flowers on every table. Another friend of a friend helped us with the flowers, so it really didnt cost us very much at all, and they looked wonderful. I have friends who have spent SO much on centrepieces, so this was a thrifty and cute option, and my Grandma reckons we can auction all the teapots now and make some money back!


The Favours

These were the best and worst bit of the wedding planning effort. Instead of a cake, Matt and I had three tiers of cheese, so I decided to hand make individual jars of chutney for every guest (100). A friend of my Grandma’s saved her baby food jars for me, and then my bridesmaid, Anna and I took over her Mum’s kitchen on three different weekends to sterilise the jars and make the chutney. We had 5 flavours. Apple and Ginger pickle was NOT GOOD…I mean, apparently it tasted ok by the wedding, but on the day we made it it just smelled awful and even after some time to mature, the smell was too similar and brought back memories that just made it impossible to like. We also made rhubarb chutney, caramelised red onion chutney and, the favourite, curried rhubarb chutney (its honestly one of the best things i’ve ever tasted). Then we covered them in Gingham, wrapped some parcel string around and added cardboard tags. The just looked awesome and totally added to our vintage country fayre type feel. And so quirky 🙂

The decorations

So Anna and I also made bunting using scraps of fabric we collected in the lead up to the wedding, we cut out the triangles, and her wonderful Mum stitched it all onto ‘bias binding’ to make it into bunting.

We then used Matt’s Mum’s old uni trunk for our table plan, and I made 60 cupcakes for our evening reception…that was actually the only bit I wished I hadnt done. Two days before the wedding, that was really just one thing too many for me!!


So there you have it. Our little handmade, thrifty wedding. A year on!

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An Anniversary Craft

So this weekend is mine and Matt’s first wedding anniversary (more about that tomorrow). As I am currently still waiting to start a job, I dont have masses of cash to splash on a gift, and was struggling for inspiration. The first anniversary is ‘paper’ so I looked at various posters or books, but was struggling to find anything I could afford that he’d actually like.

However, our ‘study’ seems to be full of pics of Matt’s family. He collected a lot when he had his own flat to decorate, but I really dont have many pictures of my family, so the study had become a shrine to all things Williams. For a few weeks I’d thought it’d be good to get a big frame to put multiple pictures in so we could consolidate a bit. Also, photos are made of PAPER, so I felt i’d hit on an idea.  I looked at a few things like this

but I did sort of think it’d be nice to make something instead. So a couple of days ago on Pinterest I saw this…


ooooh that got me inspired, so I decided to have a go. My final result is not as snazzy as this, but it actually fits in really well with the decor in our house and I just think its super cute and personal. So I just got a plain pine frame, taped some string to the back of it and then starting pegging stuff. The only real expense was 1) the frame and 2) getting some lovely scrapbooking paper to make the letters. The photos are just printed at home onto photo paper and that means its very easy to change them when we have more up to date ones (I dont know if you can see, but one of the pics is of Matts brother and his wife in hospital after having their new baby on Sunday…we will have a better photo of the beautiful Lily soon!!) The total time spent was about an hour, and I think it looks pretty darn cool. Matt loves it and now we can put some of the older pics in a box or an album 🙂


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Jubilee 2012

Now, I must start this with a somewhat controversial statement. I love the Queen! I know there are lots of issues with monarchy, but I think ours is something to be proud of. Politically I think it’s great to have a national figurehead and ambassador who is not tied to political standpoint, and who does not represent government decisions. Economically, the royal family bring in tons of money to the UK economy and frankly, our current queen has shown a massive amount of class and dignity through hundreds of world changes and difficult situations, so I’m a fan. I’ve had some red, white and blue cupcakes today, and I’m enjoying the jubilee coverage on TV.Its nice to have something to celebrate in this country!!

However, watching this jubilee stuff is interesting. Our country are celebrating BIG time this weekend, because someone has done a job she was born into and had no choice about for 60 years at no personal cost or sacrifice really, whilst living a life of luxury. Do you know what Jubilee actually means?

The word Jubilee comes from the bible, and describes the ancient law that at the end of seven cycles of seven years, so every 49 years, debts were cancelled, slaves were freed and lands were returned to their original owners. This was the jubilee year, recognising that God actually owns everything, so noone should hold onto anything for too long.


The significance that this kind of action would have on our society is unimaginable!

Here’s a jubilee worth getting involved with

This would be something worth really celebrating!!!

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Thrifty Thursday – A cross-continental comparison!!!


So, Lucy is after some blogs about Charity Shops for this weeks Thrifty Thursday effort. As previously mentioned, I’m pretty new to the Charity Shopping malarchy, but I am certainly enthusiastic. Mine and Matt’s Saturday afternoon wanderings through various New Forest villages used to centre around finding the best cream tea, but now it’s all about a good charity shop rummage!

However, whilst in the states (see previous post) I had the opportunity to go ‘Yard Sale-ing’ with my lovely sister-in-law Kari. We were also accompanied by Kari’s sister, aka Super-Mum…seriously, this woman has four kids of her own (one of whom is only 6 weeks old), plus fostering babies on a regular basis (we had a 6 month old foster baby with us as well as her four kids for this excursion) and she home-schools her adopted younger brother on a shared basis with Kari. And she does all of this without really breaking a sweat. Genuinely incredible.

ANYWAY, So yard sales are an American phenomenon that we don’t see here, I dont know if its a legal thing, or a dont-want-strangers-in-my-garage thing, but I’ve never seen it done in the UK. I guess our nearest equivalent is the trusty British car boot sale. Where we were, the whole neighbourhood had joined together so that around 30 houses all had sales on this day so we wandered for a couple of hours between different sales. These yard sales were awesome, there was tons of stuff and the prices were rock bottom! I got a ton of teeny tiny baby clothes for our soon-t0-be-born niece for $6, and Kari picked up a diaper genie for $3!! The kids all managed to get a new toy with their $3 yard sale allowance, and if I hadnt had a weight restriction on my suitcase for coming home we’d’ve come home with a ton of loot too!! It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the kids all seemed to stay pretty well entertained (partly because there was a woman visiting a lot of the same sales as us with a parrot on her shoulder…I never did get to the bottom of that one) so it was a fun trip.

However, it doesnt beat a charity shop, and I recognised that as we walked round but wanted to pinpoint why. I have three main reasons.

1) In a charity shop you’re not faced with the person who donated the goods!! So if something is hideous, you can point it out to your friend and have a good giggle about it without offending people! At a yard sale you’ve gotta keep your reactions in check because that cardigan with shoulder pads was what the house owner was wearing when she had her first kiss…or similar!!

2) British weather! So many weekends I’ve decided I’m gonna hit a car boot sale only to discover that when I wake up its pouring with rain and there’s not a chance I’m going to stand in a muddy field. Yard sales run this same risk and rely on decent weather. A charity shop works in all weather and is usually warmer than the average shop due to the age of the staff!!

3) And finally…and probably most importantly….I love that the money goes to charity. A £4 Monsoon cardigan feels like a double whammy of wonder when that £4 is going to help research into heart disease or to support starving children somewhere. I actually pay attention to the charities i’m giving money to, and try to actively visit some of the shops locally that support charities I believe in. Controversial or not, I’m more committed to people-charities than animal-charities (here, it seems I differ from much of the UK population as the RSPCA receive 3 times more in donations per year than the NSPCC…I have some issues with that) and am far more likely to offer a ‘keep the change’ in a charity shop than anywhere else. Somehow, despite still being utterly materialistic, shopping in a charity shop feels better, and for that reason, a yard sale just doesnt cut it!!

So I remain fiercely and faithfully committed to the good old British charity shop!! And plan to spend this bank holiday weekend feeding the obsession!


Its been too long

I am so sorry that it has been nearly two months since I blogged. But what a couple of months it has been!!!

When last writing I was in the middle of putting together my dissertation. The final 10,000 words for my degree. That was, honestly, one of the most horrible experiences of my university life, as being an extrovert, I dont cope well with long days sat at home attempting to write about stuff I dont fully understand!! But its done, and my degree is done, and within a couple of weeks I should know whether or not I’ve passed and then life begins I suppose.

So in a bid to put off the real life stuff (and to do lots of other fun stuff) the other reason I havent blogged is that Matt and I spent two and a half weeks in the USA. The initial reason for the trip was that I was Maid of Honour at the wedding of one of my very best friends in Atlanta. So we flew in for 3 days, fitted in a bridal shower and the rehearsal/rehearsal dinner and then went to the wedding. We had a wonderful few days and it was great to see someone I love so much looking so very happy! Carla is the nearest thing i’ve had to a sister, until I gained 3 lovely sisters-in-law last year, so it was a very happy day!!







Then we got to fly up to Spokane, which is where Matt’s two brothers live with their wives and our two super-cute nephews and one soon-to-be-born niece! We had two wonderful weeks with them, and it was so lovely for me to see Matt with his brothers. Matt is not the most naturally outgoing of people, so there is a side of him that I see but that is not evident with most other people. Not that he’s ever fake with people, just a bit reserved. So to see him with his family, at his most comfortable, was wonderful, and helped me to feel much more comfortable with them, although I didnt really know most of them before we went. It was also great to get to be Uncle Matt and Aunty Becca for a bit!!

One of the highlights of the trip for me was that Matt and I chose to take a couple of days out by ourselves and drive over to Montana which is two states over from where we were staying. A couple of our friends had visited a national park over there last summer and it looked like somewhere we shouldnt miss if we were nearby. Add that to the fact that I flippin’ love a good road trip, and we were golden! The drive took around 7 hours, and it was great to see some of the country and enjoy the views. However, Glacier National Park was our main attraction, and boy was it worth the drive. There are few times in my life that natural beauty has impacted me as profoundly as this did, but it was just incredible. Within moments of arriving we were greeted with the view below, and were both overwhelmed with the need to get on our knees to thank God and praise him for this incredible beauty! A genuinely life altering experience!!


But now we’re back in real life…which sucks! Now that I’m done with uni it’s time to find a job, and that is turning out to be a bit of a soul destroying experience in some ways. Aside from that, we’ve spent all our money in the states, so now I’m spending ever day just sitting at home, mostly crocheting a blanket to fill the time. Fun fun fun!! I dont cope well with nothingness, I found myself getting seriously fed up last summer when we got back from honeymoon to nothing, and ended up taking a crappy admin job for the summer to fill the time! I am WELL aware that once I do have a job I’ll long for these days, but right now I’m pretty bored and waiting for life to start! Hence there doesnt seem to be tons to blog about, but I am attempting to brew a Thrifty Thursday post for later…watch this space!!




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Easter 2012

I have lots of blogs I could write today, I could tell you about how lent went (very well on some challenges, pretty poorly on others), I could write about my home-made hot cross buns (not great), I could write about the egg-celent easter fayre my church put on yesterday and how a new guy came to our church because of it, I could write about the hilarious video I’ve spent the weekend making for my gorgeous friend Carla who is getting married in 3 weeks and whose bridal shower I cant go to as its in the states.

But today is for something else. Today is Easter, and I want to write about that.

I try hard not to force my faith down my friends throats, I believe what I believe, they generally know roughly what that is, and I live in certain ways because of that, but I don’t like to put that onto anyone too forcefully because I think they deserve the right to believe what they believe as much as I do. I’ll chat about it to people who ask, but I don’t go on about it too much.

But this morning in church I realised how much I am shaped by the story of Easter. I know I probably should have known that already as a life-long Christian and churchgoer, but somehow it was only this morning that it clicked that the Easter story is MY story. It’s amazing that it happened, but its most amazing because is HAPPENS! My life is the story of death defeated and life in all its fullness, not just death defeated on that day 2000 years ago, but death defeated just a few years ago in my heart.

My Christian journey has been long and winding with moments of deep certainty, elation and fulfillment as well as questions, hurt and doubt. But around 4 years ago I went through a real dark time when I just didnt get it any more, I  didnt connect with church or faith or God. I felt so alone, and so hurt and damaged by the experiences that got me there. I started to make some bad decisions, tell lots of lies and stopped caring about most peoples opinions or feelings,  I wasn’t out and out nasty, but I didn’t mind ignoring the opinions of people I’d respected for years. I stopped going to church, and tried to run away from all of the things that had held me in church throughout my childhood and adolescence. I was so hurt and angry and deeply damaged that I couldnt take any more, so I decided not to be open or vulnerable anymore. Church jargon talks about sin and shame, and as much as those words don’t make sense to everyone, I cant think of many better ones to describe my life, my choices or my state of mind at that time.

One of the reasons I was so angry was that God had brought me out of a situation that was bad for me, but by this point I couldn’t see why anymore. I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere that was any better than the old life, and I felt so angry that I had lost so much and gained so little. It was a real wilderness experience, and although they are mentioned throughout the bible, I felt like the first person to go through it! Sara Groves sings a song about the experience the children of Israel had in the desert after leaving Egypt which says ‘I’ve been painting pictures of Egypt, but leaving out what it lacks, cos the future feels so hard and I wanna go back. But the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned, those roads were closed off to me while my back was turned’ and that was exactly how I felt!!

There aren’t many times in my life that I’ve felt I’ve heard from God, I don’t get booming voices or prophetic dreams, but during that darkness, God did speak to me. He spoke to me about having a plan for my life, and about what I needed to do to be in line with that plan. He spoke to me about needing some security and stability in my life, and challenged me to go and find that. He spoke to me about the need for real relationships that are raw and honest and accountable. I know that not everyone who reads my blog believes this stuff, and like I said, I don’t want to ram it down anyones throat, but for me, there was no doubt that God spoke to me, and changed me.

Since then there have been lots more twists and turns in the road, but I have found some of the security and stability I needed in the form of a wonderful church who have loved me through a lot of the hurt. I have met a wonderful man, and understand now what God was preparing me for, and I have learned some hard but fulfilling lessons about obedience from my incredible parents who have upped-sticks and moved to an incredibly difficult situation in order to serve a God who needs obedient people. I am a changed person because of the work of a resurrected God.

This Easter, I am in awe of a God who would send his son to die because he thinks I am worth it. I am blown away by the power of my God who raised Jesus from the dead and defeated death and sin. But I am also the product of a resurrection story, I have been brought from a place of death and darkness into a place of life and hope, and although I dont like to ram my faith down peoples throats, I do want to share this experience because it is so integral to who I am. I have friends who, right now, are in those dark places and who need to hear that there’s another side to them. Some who believe in God and need him to intervene, and some who don’t believe in God but need something to happen.

So this Easter, I danced and I clapped and I grinned as I sang MY song ‘Oh Happy Day, You washed my sin away, Oh Happy Day, I’ll never be the same, forever I am changed!!”

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Charity Shopping!

You may remember that my challenge for lent was not to shop. Well, its been a bit of a failure, and a real reminder to me of how much I buy, and how much I feel I need it. This is a challenge which will go way beyond Lent 2012 as I am challenged to massively reduce what I buy, and seek to find more creative ways to avoid the influences that make me feel i need ‘stuff.’ One of the reasons i’ve failed a bit with the shopping challenge of lent is that we are going to America in 4 weeks, and I have needed to buy gifts for our family over there to make up for Christmases and Birthdays since we saw them last. Whilst this fits into the ‘allowed during lent’ category, going to the shops, or even shopping online has created massive temptation for me. This combined with a mini adult-acne breakout during this lenten time has resulted in me doing some shopping, but just shampoos and make-up stuff, I have managed not to buy any clothes.

One of the things I specified at the beginning of lent was that I could shop in Charity shops. The whole concept of charity shopping sits so much better with me than giving money to the companies who make most of the clothes I like, not only stopping waste, opting out of the mass consumption of high street shopping AND finding a treat from someone elses cast offs, but also giving money to charity. However, the area I lived in up until recently, Shirley in Southampton, had about a million charity shops, but I never found ANYTHING I liked in any of them. So I’d all but given up on charity shops. But we’re off to America in 4 weeks, as I mentioned already, and since the sun has come out, I’ve realised that 3 years of uni has left me with NO summery clothes.

One of the issues is, as much as I wish I was, I’m just not quirky.  I have friends who can pick things up in a charity shop that looks like my great Gran donated it, and can wear it and look like they belong in a fashion magazine. I am not one of these people. I can’t pull off quirky. I also am terrible at accessorizing, I rarely remember to wear jewellry except my wedding ring and a watch, I never wear belts, and I have ONE handbag that I use with every outfit, so when I’m shopping, I need to find stuff that just goes together, without needing any quirkability to pull it off.

Then on Saturday, whilst up in Northampton visiting friends, we went to Olney in Buckinghamshire. Just as we were leaving, we popped into one last charity shop, and it was like a dream come true. Full of clothes I would wear, and set out in a manageable and non-jumble-saley way, I managed to get a skirt and a top for £10. The shop, for anyone who’s interested, was ‘Mercy in Action’  and if I lived any closer it’d have a role as a new regular for me.


The top is a bit odd, as it sort of ties up at the sides, so I’m still not massively sure how I’ll wear that one, but it looks pretty good with skinny jeans so I like it.

THEN, Lucy blogged about some excellent charity shops in Farnham, and my friend Chloe clocked it and suggested we pay it a visit. Cue me frantically writing 1000 words of my dissertation yesterday morning so we could justify a trip. Sadly Lucy lied and said it was in Hampshire when it is in fact in Surrey (to be fair, I had no clue) so it was a bit of a drive BUT, boy was she right about Farnham. Chloe and I had an amazing day in the sunshine wandering from charity shop to charity shop, snubbing our usual favourite shops for these second hand havens and, in every shop, laughing at the staff who invariably got VERY flustered when we wanted to pay by card…note to self, next time CASH!! Then, as if our day couldnt get any better we overheard a woman in one of the shops saying that if you want charity shops, you really ought to check out Godalming. YEAH WE DID, quick drive round Surrey and we found ourselves another little charity shop haunt.

So now I’m SORTED for my holiday, I’ve got a nice selection of bits and pieces, and my total spend for yesterday was £30! Not only that, but I realised the answer to charity shopping…rich people throw out nicer stuff! So if you go somewhere posh like Surrey, rather than scummy Southampton, the stuff in the charity shops is WAY nicer! And finally my charity shop curse is lifted, I can actually buy stuff in them!!

So here’s my excellent finds from yesterday (Cardigan, originally Monsoon, £6. Green top, originally Monsoon £5, Black and White top, originally Dorothy Perkins £4, Brown and Black top (modelled by me) originally Oasis £5, Colourful skirt, originally Bowden £6, Green skirt, my one attempt at ‘quirky’ originally Topshop, £4!)








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