Commando Op shopping 

I take commando shopping very seriously- the ability to shop in a seriously restricted period of time has been something I have honed over years of kids with limited attention spans and a husband who hates crowds.

Heading away to Warrnambool was a chance to see some new shops. I had scoped a couple of op shops online before we arrived, and I knew there were a few vintage shops in Warrnambool as well to take a quick browse in. With only 3 days and an already full itinerary it would be hard to squeeze in quality browsing time. With a fully packed car with bikes and luggage it would also be a challenge to get anything home. Items bought would have to be small and compact.

The first shop was Colac Vinnies– the best thing about this place is its location, across the road from a park with a playground. It’s a perfect chance to drop in for 5-10 minutes while the kids are playing or heading to the toilets. They had books half price and I scored a couple of titles to keep me occupied in the evenings. Total cost $2.50 for two books.

Op shop haul- dress and 2 books

Op shop haul- dress and 2 books

I also managed to slip out for 45 minutes in the afternoon one day while the kids were winding down after a big day out. I made a quick detour to the atm then visited 3 op shops and a vintage shop in quick succession. Three of the shops were all in the same street which made it easy to visit. I managed to score the dress above for $5.00 at the Salvos. The Vinnies and RSPCA did not yield anything, and there were some lovely coats to be had at the Long Gone Antiques and Collectibles, but I wasn’t in need of any.

We spent the final morning at the Fletcher Jones Market. The market is similar to the Mill Markets in Daylesford, Geelong and Ballarat with heaps of stalls of antiques, collectibles and bric a brac.

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Fletcher Jones Market and Gardens

It’s situated on the site of the old Fletcher Jones factory which closed in The market itself is located within the part where womenswear was manufactured, and you can still see vestiges of the factory.

Artwork still on the factory floor

Artwork still on the factory floor


The upper level looks like offices and allows for little stalls- I found one room with linen, fabric and yarn.

A knitters dream!

A knitters dream!

I stepped away from the yarn as quietly and as quickly as possible- yarn has an innate tendency to want to come home with me and I have enough of a stash without bringing more home :). I got myself a little cup and saucer and platter and MrBG managed to score a nice tweed Christian Dior jacket. By this stage the kids were clamouring to head off and hit the road.

There’s an opp shop in my street!

St. Peter’s Anglican church in Sturt Street has an op shop in their hall on a Friday from 10am to 2.30-ish. It’s a minute’s walk from my house, and with Master BG eager to escape from the house for a short while (he’s got a cold and was home from school), it was too good of an opportunity to miss.

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I have an opp shop in my street!

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It’s mainly clothes, with a little bit of bric-a brac, and they have a cupboard of manchester and napery. What I love about it is that when you walk into the foyer, the volunteers are always milling about, chatting and often having a cuppa.

When I was paying for my items, they were discussing the latest news of the Ballarat diocese allowing female deacons to be ordained as priests. One lady was bemoaning the fact she would be away during the ordinations for two female deacons already working in Stawell and Warrnambool. ‘You know, my husband would be turning in his grave at the moment’ she declared. Another lady nodded.’So would mine,’ she said, with a grin. I somehow get the feeling they were revelling in the news.

It’s also quite affordable- I bought a top for myself and 2 dresses for Miss BG for the princely sum of $8. Now I just need the weather to improve  so my daughter can actually wear them

Post Christmas Op Shopping

I don’t do the post- Christmas sales, as a rule. Having worked on the other side of the counter as a uni student, I can honestly say shopping is not a therapeutic experience for me. But, as I left the house yesterday in a bit of a lather and jumped in the car, I found myself driving down the street to the centre of town, parked the car and emerged an hour later with a couple of bags of stuff. All. For. Me.

I was looking for a pair of jeans, standard blue and a pair of flats in a nude colour. I started off in the Red Cross Shop and emerged with a pair of flats (black) and two dresses. Ok, not exactly jeans and nude shoes, but they were there and I know I’ll wear them…It’s also a case of pot luck with op shops and charity stores, and you honestly don’t know what you’ll find!

Post Christmas opshopping

Each item was $12.95, which is a bit on the pricey side, but I had seen both dresses in the shops this season (retailing around $50 each) and the shoes had hardly any wear on them. If I had bought these brand new I would have been looking at over $200 combined, so it was a saving :).

Heading across the street to the local shopping centre I finally scored a pair of jeans in Rivers ($8) and ended up in Target for a pair of shoes ($30).

My Christmas money spent, I wanted to stop off and enjoy my purchases with a coffee, but sadly all my favourite coffee spots had taken a well-deserved holiday. Plus I also had to do what I originally came out to do, which was the weekly grocery shop :P.

Let’s go to the op(shop)

For the past few months, my pastime of heading off to the opshop for a bit of window browsing and retail therapy had pretty much stopped. I think it had more to do with the fact I had been living out of a suitcase with a limited wardrobe for so long, that I was somewhat shocked to return to a full wardrobe of clothes.

I still continued to visit, but I was dropping off clothes rather than buying. Doing a cull of my wardrobe (and the little BGs) was cathartic :). I also instituted a strict rule of one in, one out- if I were to buy any new clothes, I would have to remove the same number of items from my wardrobe. I try to be mindful of my shopping, even with opshop purchases and won’t really buy, just because it’s a bargain!

I finally broke my opshop drought on Friday. I was browsing through the local Salvos store near my work, and came across this lovely skirt.

It’s a Laura Ashley, black velvet, with gorgeous embroidered flowers and beading along the hem. It was $7.99 and another dollar for the huge tote bag I bought.

I wore my new skirt out that night to a gig where Mr BG was playing.

So now I’m off to my bedroom to weed out a skirt :).

Day Trip to Daylesford

There are a million and one things to do around the house, but we decided to hit the road and go to Daylesford for the day- actually, just for the morning. We’re not that far from Daylesford- around 40 km, so we will usually go up and back for a couple of hours.

The main reason was the Lark garage sale. Combined with the Crafty Squirrel, it was a mix of seconds from the shops, and a clearance of vintage tea towels, aprons, fabric, linen and bric a brac. It was huuuge!

It was also kinda funny to see who was in there- heaps of ladies rummaging around, with the odd man here or there- Mr BG braved the crowds and entered the fray of females in a shopping frenzy. Most of the blokes stood outside, arms crossed, patiently waiting for their girlfriends or wives to emerge triumphant with a bargain.

Miss BG scored a little stamp set, Master BG got some marbles (one thing I find about ‘cute’ shops is their tendency to cater for little girls over little boys) and I got some fabric to add to my stash.

We then went for a wander up and down the main street, with its bumper to bumper traffic of SUVs and farm utes. The footpaths were packed with Easter holiday makers and weekender traffic, and the cafes were doing a roaring trade. So too was a sausage sizzle stall in support of Hepburn Primary! I often wonder how the locals feel with the hordes of tourists which descend upon the town on holidays and the weekends…

A quick coffee break at the Pastry King (some seriously yummy pastries and cakes abound there), and then we found the bookshop. It was fun browsing the kid’s sections (there are a couple of rooms of kid’s books) and Master BG picked up a Horrible Histories book and Miss BG brought home her very first Enid Blyton- it’s a bit old for her to read, but she’ll grow into it. I ended up with a book about Granny Squares with some really pretty designs in there :).

On our way back to the car, we stopped for icecream and then had a quick fossick at the MS Shop, whereupon I came out with 2 dresses (Veronika Maine and Country Road) a ball of red yarn and 2 soft bunnies which were being given away as an Easter gift. A day full of eats, treats and bargains!

The serendipity of op-shopping

One of the joys of going for a fossick in an opshop is that you never know what you will find.It is so hard to go past one, even if it is for a browse, and with most of the stock reasonably priced, you can justify handing over a couple of dollars for something which catches your eye.

It is even better when you shop out of town, or at a shop you haven’t visited. The stock is different, it appears fresh and there is always that feeling you are walking into a cave of treasures.

A month ago I had been in Geelong at the Vines Road Vinnies where my mum volunteers and found a pair of gorgeous shoes for $8.50. I had to use my card for EFTPOS and to make it up to the minimum $10, I picked up a bag for $5.50.

New Shoes!

New bag!

Another visit to the same store a couple of weeks ago dropping off the little BGs for a sleepover with Nana and Papa*  saw me walk out with a dress for $8.00, which I promptly wore out for my night at the movies with Mr BG.

New dress!

Coming home to Ballarat, I stopped in at a Salvation Army Thrift store I had never visited before in Ballarat and found a skirt for $2.50 and a belt for $1.00.

New skirt!

*Yes, two nights of coupledom, whereupon we went out to the movies, I drank a martini, went out for breakfast, washed the car inside and out and scrapbooked. It was lovely.

Bookgrrl’s Christmas Ideas

This is not the Bookgrrl Christmas Tree Source:

There are many blogs I read who are very helpful in offering suggestions as to what to get your husband/wife/children for Christmas. They are very inventive, but it is very hard if

  1. you buy things when you need them,
  2. you already have enough t-shirts, bags, aftershave/perfume, candles to last you until the next millennium,
  3. they’re not exactly… you

So this is my suggestions for Christmas gifts according to MY taste, which could be very different to YOUR taste. But hey, my blog, my rules…


  • You could go all Christmassy and get your beloved A Very She & Him Christmas . Zooey Deschanel does her chanteuse thang, while the guitar accompaniment has a slight delay to give it a 50’s feel to the classic Christmas Tracks (according to Mr BG, who got it for Christmas from a person with amazing taste me)
  • Tickets to a show for an upcoming band from the 80’s that you have never seen before. It could be the Specials or New Order or even Duran Duran.
  • let them search on eBay for that hard to find guitar, or pedal, then offer to buy it for them for Christmas.
  • As a last resort you could get them something you like, then give it to them, and by attrition it will become yours- like a certain New Order DVD which was given to me a few years ago…


  • If your beloved is into all things oppy- the Op Shop Guide to Victoria is hard to go past. Just think of all the road trips which could be planned to out of the way places, or Ballarat for example :).
  • If you live in Melbourne and shudder at the thought of travelling out of the major metropolitan area, try a Melbourne Op Shop Tour– they are reasonably priced, use public transport and they do vouchers. Just contact them for the voucher option. Even if you don’t live in Melbourne, it’s a good way to make a day of exploring a part of Melbourne you have never ventured.
  • If your fashion sense does not extend to things oppy, a voucher to a specific store is an excellent idea. A Westfield voucher is not applicable to major stores in the centre as I found out last Christmas- grrr…


  • One word- BOOK. The authors of the moment in our house are Pamela Allen and Lauren Child, who write Charlie and Lola and so so much more. I’ve ended up giving her books to a couple of excited 6 year old girls for their birthdays this year.
  • Another word- LEGO. I hate having to pick it up, but it’s fantastic and a great bonding experience between father and son.
  • A couple of words- NO BARBIES. I had no idea that they breed…


  • make something- gingerbread cookies and rumballs
  • offer something- TIME. Give someone a day off for them to go shopping or grab a coffee and catch up with a friend. Offer to have kids over for a sleepover for a sleepin.
  • breakfast in bed for a couple of weekends in a row.

The above is not my Christmas list, which extends to a replacement iPod, a pasta machine, a bigger sewing box and a Lotto ticket which is guaranteed to win 1st Division- though the breakfast in bed option is nice too…

Op shop finds- Brotherhood of St Laurence, Royal Arcade

It’s been a while since I was op-shopping, but strolling through the Royal Arcade on my lunch break, I could not resist and went downstairs for a little peek.

And scored.

A little wrap top from H&M which will go very nice over a little black dress and a pair of patent Mary Janes, for the sum of $15. They were a bit on the pricey side, but it is the CBD and the rent would not be cheap, even if it is in a basement!

Frocking, socking and not buying in October

The month of October has so many things happening in it, it is hard to keep up!

There is Frocktober, designed to raise money for Ovarian Cancer Research. Some lovely ladies such as Naomi and Fiona are donning a frock every day for the month of October.  The beauty of Frocktober is that you can participate with an event or a commitment to frock up at least once (I can feel a frocktastic morning tea coming up :))There is also a Frocktbober group on Facebook

Socktober which seems to be the month for knitting socks (in Ballarat, any month is a good month for knitting socks), with Tony and Kate participating. I’m simply admiring from afar, as I struggle to finish a cardigan which should have been finished months ago…

And then there is Buy Nothing New Month, in which people pledge not to buy anything new, save groceries, for a month. I did not pledge, but it has been in the back of my head when I’ve thought about getting some gym leggings, or walked past the yarn section of Spotlight, and kept on walking…

What this month has done so far is it has made me stop and think about not only what I buy, but why I buy. The aim of the month was to attain conscientious consumption, to think about where our stuff comes from and our alternatives, and in this aspect I’m getting there.

For a lot of people, this is a not a lifestyle choice but a necessity, in order to make ends meet. When you are a family on a single income with four children you do a lot of opshopping, bargain hunting or clothes making, and you don’t go crazy clothes shopping. At least that was my experience when I was growing up.

I mean, I love going to op shops and having a rummage around now and again, but there is not point in buying things new or otherwise if you don’t need them in the first place. A bargain is only a bargain if you need it.

Is a person who is always buying secondhand goods  because he/she simply wants them (or because it’s trendy) more noble than someone who prefers to buy new items as they are truly needed?

I was going pretty well, then crashed and burned yesterday with a visit to Kmart to get some thongs for the little BGs. And I did buy a couple of books on Book Depository and Readings… In my defence, your Honour, the books were mostly Christmas and birthday presents- well, mostly :).


A recipe for a good weekend includes

  • a weekend trip to a caravan park bought on the cheap at a kindergarten trivia night
  • 2 children excited by the prospect of going to the beach
  • a dash of nostalgia

Mix together, drive for three hours and you have our weekend away in Inverloch.

Inverloch was an occasional beachside retreat for Mr BG when he was younger, and he was quite amazed at the change in the town since he was there last. The fibro beach houses are still there, but they stand next to architectural masterpieces, and the real estate agents in the main street almost outnumber the number of takeaway food shops. The starting price for a house is around $450,000 and around $800,000 if you’re looking for something close to the beach.

We stayed in a unit at the Big4 Holiday Park, complete with indoor swimming pool, a jumping pillow and playground, as well as a couple of games/TV Rooms and internet kiosk.

The beach was about a two minute walk from the park, with the town centre about a 15 minute walk away. Our unit had its own bathroom (drawing a sigh of relief from Mr BG) and the beds were comfortable (Mr BG attesting to their comfort while indulging in an afternoon nap).

A determination on my part not to cook dinner saw us visit the local Esplanade Hotel for a nosh up the first night, with the next night being pizza, munched on while we gathered around the warm glow of a TV to see the final episode of Doctor Who. Our quest to find really good hot chips was satisfied and I discovered I love Bulmer’s Pear Cider- much nicer than the apple variety!

A recce in my op shop guide book saw two opshops in the vicinity, which were duly plundered visited. A much needed pair of shorts for Master BG, a tinkerbell nightie for my little miss and a Bakelite juicer for the kitchen were purchased from the Red Cross and the Anglican op shop.

We also managed to catch up with aunties and cousins and friends, making the trek down to South Gippsland all the more enjoyable.

The weather was better than what we left in Ballarat, ie it wasn’t cold, and we only got rained on as we were packing up the car to go home- score!

The last day saw us take a drive past the farm where Mr BG grew up in Tarwin Lower, and past the old schoolhouse that was Leongatha South Primary School where Mr BG went to school. It was a good chance to hear stories of the people knew who lived in a particular farm, see the creek where he played and dreamed of following like an explorer.

My only gripe about the weekend was bring back half the beach with us, and having a mountain of washing to clear :).