Retail Royalty Challenge – Giving a bit back

When I was approached about taking part in the Retail Royalty challenge being run by the Money Supermarket, I was really intrigued by the premise. The idea was simple, could you use £30 to purchase something for your chosen charity to either use, or sell on? You needed to choose a charity that was close to your heart, and then decide what to get for them.

I decided to support my favourite charity shop. Acorns, in Wednesbury, is a shop that I have known for a long time, my mom has managed the store for many years and I have often helped out when I have had some spare time. Acorns supports a local children’s hospice, doing a great job to support the families of  children with terminal illnesses, and it was a charity I was really happy to help.

Staff at Acorns sort through Donations.

Acorns, like many charity shops, has suffered from a fall in donations recently, losing out on good quality items to companies offering cash for bags. After a chat with Diane and the volunteers, it was clear that toys were one of the things that the shop was lacking in terms of donations, particularly good quality cuddly toys. These needed to be clean and well looked after, with recognisable TV favourites a good bet. Another money spinner could be accessories, in particular, handbags. If these were either designer or well-known high street brands, these could be sold for £10 – £15.

So, where to look for these items? Other charity shops? Bric-a-Brac markets? Ebay? I decided that the best place to look would be at local fetes and fundraisers. I thought that local school fayres would be a great place to find good quality toys, whilst jumble sales and table top sales could be a source of clothing and accessories. I set a weekend aside to attend some events I found in my local paper and hit gold!

Some of my finds from the school fete.

My son’s school fete yielded a huge bag of cuddly toys. These were all clean, and relatively unused, and included a monkey from ‘Tinga Tales’ and some Teletubbies. I spent exactly half the £30 budget on this purchase, and was particularly pleased with a huge red cuddly toy perfect for a baby’s room. In total, I got 18 soft toys of various sizes for my money – less than £1 each.

At a church table top sale I was able to pick up some amazing handbags from the store of a lady who was having a wardrobe cull. These included River Island and Marks and Spencer designs, and again seemed to have been hardly used. One New Look bag still had the labels on, showing it cost £12 originally, I got it for £1 and felt sure that it could be sold for at least 3 times that price. All in all, I was really happy with my finds and felt sure they could bring in a profit for the charity.

Handbags on display with brands including Dorothy Perkins, River Island and New Look.

Acorns Wednesbury were really happy for the much needed donations and made sure they were placed on sale immediately. It remains to be seen how much they make for the charity, but as it is all pure profit, I’m sure it will be put to good use.

Sorting the donations.

Great Quality soft toys including TY.

More soft toys, including Teletubbies.

#KidsGrowWild gardening challenge

Like most 4 year old’s, my son Joe is never happier than when he’s spending time in the garden. And the good weather that we had at the beginning of June afforded us the perfect opportunity to spend lots of time having outdoors fun. The paddling pool came out, the football net was set up, and all manner of ride on toys finally emerged from the shed. We also got the time to indulge in a little bit of planting for a special Britmums challenge.

Britmums have teamed up with Money Supermarket.com to host a special challenge for those little ones with decidedly green fingers. Called the Kids Grow Wild gardening challenge, this offered a perfect opportunity for any budding Alan Titchmarsh’s or Charlie Dimmock’s to get digging, planting and growing their own plants.

We were sent a gorgeous little gardening kit from Little Pals that contained gardening gloves, a watering can, a mini spade and rake, and a selection of seeds, including that perenial child favourite, the sunflower. Joe was really excited about having his own tools and gardening gloves, and although these were a little big, he insisted on wearing them to do ‘his work’.

The great thing about planting and gardening with your child is that it is affordable fun. Seeds can be picked up cheaply from places like Poundland, and we got two huge bags of sale for less than £1.50 from Asda. Kids love being dirty, so messing in the soil is a great favourite activity, and also learns them about what things need to grow, Joe chatted animatedly whilst involved in the planting, but was also able to follow simple instructions like making little holes in the soil for the seeds.

The challenge was a lot of fun, and continues to do so. Joe has been watering his plants every day and is now excited as shoots are starting to show. There is a real sense of achievement in this, he keeps repeating ‘I’m making them grow’ and is very proud of the fact. He has also cleaned lots more garden pots and wants to plant more seeds, fostering a real interest in his garden as somewhere more than just the place he plays in.

This post is an entry for BritMums’ #KidsGrowWild Challenge

Money Supermarket’s ‘Room for Improvement’ Challenge.

I was recently asked if I wanted to take part in a special challenge/competition being run by the MoneySupermarket.com. Entitled the Money Supermarket Room for Improvement competition, the challenge was simple. Could you revamp a room in your house with a budget of just £50? What room would you choose, and what would you spend the money on?

I was really excited to take part in this competition, but must stress that a good many rooms in my house need sprucing up at present, due to some home improvements that have left new plaster that requires painting, and also due to a four-year-old who went through the usual toddler wrecking period when every wall seemed to be a blank canvas. However, I eventually opted for the bathroom of my house, as I felt this was a room that £50, if spent wisely, could actually make a big difference to this particular room.

I love my bathroom suite, with the stand alone, Victorian style bath, but this room was badly in need of some tender loving care. Bathroom towels had seen better days, face flannels now seem to be emblazoned with Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, and then there were those oh- so-classy plastic soap bottles.  There was a lack of storage, so spaces like the bathroom unit and medicine cabinet had been used as extra surfaces to basically throw any old rubbish. The bathroom mirror had actually come off its stand, and had been taped back on, so no longer swiveled to magnify, and the tiles, although still in perfect condition, looked aged due to the discoloration of the grout.

And here is what I did.

Grout

Tiling the bathroom with a budget of £50 wasn’t an option, but B&Q now stock white grout pens which allow you to transform discoloured grout into shining white once again. These cost £7 each, and I purchased two, taking £14 out of the budget. The room isn’t completely finished yet, but the difference is already apparent.

hubby using the grout pen

Instant difference

Storage

The reality of the lack of bathroom storage was that lots of the old bottles and packets really needed to be thrown out, so once that job was done it was much easier to see what was needed in the form of storage. I love the nautical theme, so I chose a wooden storage tray and a tin anchor pot, both from Store 21, the cost being £4.99 and £1.99 respectively.

Sink Area

It was out with the plastic bottles and in with a stylish soap dispenser, found in Morrisons for a bargain price of £3. The Disney flannels disappeared to be replaced with contrasting blue face cloths for £1 each, again from Morrisons. The broken mirror was thrown away, a new one was also purchased from Morrisons for just £3, and to tie in with the nautical theme, a pretty wicker fish was tied to the window. This cost just £1 from Store 21, leaving the sink area transformed for £9.

New towels for old

To finish the nautical, beachy look, I purchased two new bath sheets from Debenhams at the cost of £9 each. The first had a deckchair motif, whilst the second was covered in a retro pier scene. These added a splash of colour and feel so soft and luxurious that they were definitely worth a bulk of the budget.

I spent a grand total of £47.98 on the revamp, and was really pleased with the overall results. The bathroom looked fresh and new, which is what I was hoping to achieve. I really enjoyed taking part in this project with Money Supermarket, which showed that a small budget can go a long way when it comes to revamping a room.

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