Use What You Have
When my brother and I were very young we lived in a little town in the highlands of New Guinea. There were no toy shops. Our grannies sent us toys and books for birthdays and Christmas, but mostly we had the toys that we had, with no real changes from year's end to year's end.
My mum had a cunning plan though - she would hide a box of toys in a high cupboard, and every few months she would produce this box - I am thinking probably at the end of a very trying day, and ta da! New toys! It was like seeing old friends after a long break. They are simply delightful companions, because we all know absence makes the heart grow fonder. It is the same with toys when you are four. Oh, the joys of toys not seen for months!
This is a good way to add interest to anything of course - make sure it is unavailable for a while, because as humans we prize anything with scarcity value, and also love the shock of the new. But clearly we have short attention spans, because it doesn't have to be really new. Look at the hipness of retro-anything.
Anyway, my mum's brilliant ploy to extend the value of a small stock of toys and books is a useful way to make the most of lots of the other things we have, instead of buying new gear and stuffing up the planet.
Sometimes I rifle through the children's book case and bring out ones they haven't seen for a while, or some that are pertinent to something they are studying. I leave them casually stacked on the coffee table. As if by accident. And they pounce on them, squealing gleefully, 'Oh, I remember this!' and then we've lost them for the next hour. The books have been there in the bookcase all the time but they just needed to be SEEN.
I keep big construction collections, like Scalectrix, and boxes of puzzles and games in the shed, and bring them down periodically, like today. All the girls have been playing Twister and Battleships and Scrabble all day. Actually, I brought them down because finally we have a games cupboard downstairs that I could store them all in, but I'm having second thoughts about that...
And it's not just children that enjoy this activity. Who has a mending pile? I do. Sometimes I'm very good and mend everything during movie marathons, but mostly, I have a pile of clothes sitting in the mending basket for months. Lucinda did too, but yesterday she sewed on two buttons and now has two pretty new spring tops. I did the same thing recently ie, rifle through my mending basket, because I was desperate for something to wear that wasn't jeans, but was warm enough for cold weather, and I found this summer dress I have had for years. It had an annoying sewn-in belt, so I unpicked it, and now I have a tunic dress to wear with leggings, long-sleeve top and red cardi:
I also hit the jackpot - back when I was chronicling my autumn wardrobe I mentioned that I would love some black pants. Well, I pulled some out of the mending pile. I think I threw them there in a huff when I realised I had actually bought a size 6 from the op shop (didn't try them on, did I? They just looked about right). I don't know why I threw them in the mending - maybe I thought I would magically become stick thin? Anyway, I tried them on to see if there was anything I could do with them, and they fit perfectly! Magic? No. They are a US size 6, which makes them an AUS size 10. Miracle!
OK, next place to ring the changes - who has a cupboard filled with granny crockery that needs to be pulled out, dusted and used? Both Lucinda and Libi mentioned in the comments that they bring out their best tea sets and teapots for a lovely weekend tea party. I will be joining them tomorrow, and maybe pottering about hunting out some more pretty crockery for spring flowers and cupcakes.
And look up there on the tops of the cupboards - those baskets can come down for a week, and be filled with fruit, and we could pop daffodils in old bottles - an idea I snitched from Townmouse this week.
Has anyone else found something new and interesting in the back of a cupboard recently? Who else rotates collections, whether toys, clothes or crockery, to satisfy their itch to see something new, without buying new? I have a friend who moves her furniture around all the time. By herself. Including the piano. Her chiropractor profits from this.
PS Who had sausages in bread after they voted today? Is this a particularly Aussie thing? Here in Australia we line up to vote at the local school hall, where we meet all our neighbours, then we stand around and eat sausages and hamburgers and chat, because the school Parents and Friends association has inevitably set up a barbecue as a fundraiser. Sometimes there are cake stalls. This makes voting such fun (well, it would be better if there was a sensible party to vote for..).