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retro floral towels and salt & pepper shakers

I have recently discovered the joys of second hand shopping, also known as “op shopping”. Previously, the impatient, younger version of me would skim in and out of these stores as fast as I could, and then be surprised that I could never find anything decent.

Now, with children who enjoy exploring op shops, I have finally discovered the art of browsing. Amazingly, when you browse you also discover useful and interesting things. Recent finds have included a coin album for my son to house his growing collection of coins, the above towels and an amazing old 1930s dining setting which I am still kicking myself that I didn’t buy!

Anyway as I looked around my house, which is scattered with older pieces of furniture from my grandparents house, I thought it time to coin a new decorating term “Retro Chic”. Clearly shabby chic has been around for over a decade, and done to death, so it must be time for a new decorating trend.

My definition:

Retro Chic – the use of old furnishings and homewares in a new, functional and fashionable way. This trend encompasses environmental concerns by reusing older decorating items in new and unique ways and incorporating them with current fashion.

Let me know if you have any photo examples of Retro Chic as I would love to include them – the best photo gets promoted on this site!


Top of the bedside reading pile the CSIRO Home Energy Saving Handbook!

Thanks to the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency’s Living Greener team for the lovely book (also on my Books to Read list by the way).

If you want to find out more about how to live greener, check out this government website, which includes information on energy, water, waste and transport efficiency as well as information on government rebates and assistance.

My little contribution is under the Real Stories section and if you want to add your own contribution (and get a free book in the process) make sure you send something in by the 31 July 2011.

I have just bought myself a BPA free drink bottle. If you are wondering what the heck is that? You are probably not the only one.

BPA  (acronym for Bisphenol-A) is a building block chemical used in polycarbonate, a type of plastic that is commonly used in water bottles. Apparently scientific research indicates that BPA may be potentially harmful if ingested in certain quantities.

From what I have discovered:

  • The use of BPA is so profound that it was detected in the urine of 93% of the (U.S.) population over 6 years of age.
  • The highest estimated intake of bisphenol A occurs in infants and children. Their intake is greatest because pound for pound they eat, drink, and breathe more than adults.
  • One thing that many people seem to agree on is that high temperatures can cause BPA to leach into the food or beverage.
  • This concern has led Canadian retailers to pull all baby bottles made with BPA from the shelves. In the United States, many manufacturers and retailers are beginning to do the same.
  • “Food Standards Australia New Zealand has evaluated the safety of BPA and plasticisers in baby bottles and concluded that levels of intake … are very low and do not pose a risk to babies health.”
  • However Australia’s major retail chains have agreed to not introduce new stock of the bottles which contain Bisphenol A (BPA), as part of a voluntary phase out (June 2010).
  • Other sources of polycarbonate (apart from water bottles) are food and drink packaging, including infant bottles, toddler sipping cups, tableware, and food containers. Epoxy resins are also used to line metal products such as canned foods, bottle tops, and water supply pipes.


  • Keep the heat away from BPA – Don’t warm bottles made with BPA in the stove or microwave, don’t put boiling water in them, and do not place them in the dishwasher.
  • Recycle, do not reuse – Use the product only for what it was intended for. Do not reuse bottles or microwave trays if they were not made to be reused.
  • Buy BPA free – If you buy BPA free products then there is no need to worry about the potential dangers!

For more information see:          

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Finally, I have created my own environmentally friendly cleaning kit!

The best thing is, it is simple, cheap and works.

Even better my children can help me clean, because none of the products are going to harm them if they get on their skin and if these products go down the drain they shouldn’t be damaging our waterways, wildlife or anything else.

My test run was on our bathroom:

  • Glass cleaner (vinegar and water) – for shower screen and mirror
  • Enjo mitt and marble spray – for bath and bottom of shower screen
  • Lavender spray (lavender oil and water) – for benchtop
  • Bicarb soda and vinegar – for toilet

My three year old son cleaned the shower screen and sink with the spray pumps. Oh joy! My least loved job – and he had fun! Combine these products with microfibre cloths and  it all seems fairly straightforward.

This is a definite winner and soon I will have my  pre-prepared cleaning kit complete and have my kids, hubby and myself on the job!

Once again my son has inspired me to get enthusiastic about things.

This time it was for Earth Hour which was held last Saturday. He had experienced it at school on Friday when they turned off all the lights and electrical items for 1 hour.

So on Saturday night, we had a romantic candlelit dinner, and attempted to extend the lights off to two hours. Despite his brother’s best attempt to ruin things by being inconveniently sick in the middle of it all!

Nevertheless we had some fun, and it turned into a bit of a camping at home “what was it like in the old days” experience. The novelty of having all the lights out and only candles was fantastic and cemented for my son the idea of what we use electricity for, and what it is like without it.

The challenge of going beyond the hour and hopefully into the days and weeks beyond, is one which we are hoping to take up.

Maybe a candlelit dinner could be become part of our weekly routine!