The up-cycle project inspired by Zach Braff.

When Big Poppa and I first met we spent many, many hours lying around watching Scrubs. We’d hang out for every new season, buy it on DVD and watch it until the discs wore out (I mean this quite literally). When we met we used to joke that all we had in common was a mutual love of Bill Murray, but the thing that probably kept us together was our common brand of humour. We loved the crap out of Scrubs and both of us were pretty fond of Zach Braff. We didn’t write this song, but we probably would have if we’d thought of it first.


So, years ago, when I discovered this t-shirt available for sale of course I bought it for BP. Of course I did. BP was leaner then (okay, if I’m going to be fair we were both so much leaner then), but he’s always been particular about the shape of his shirts and he prefers black, so he never wore it much. With all the decluttering and shifting of stuff, I just haven’t been able to pass this one on. It doesn’t fit BP and it doesn’t fit me, but maybe one day…?

Today a post that promised 25 minute sewing projects came up in my feed. I’m always looking for 25 minute sewing projects, because then I am absolutely certain they won’t take me more than 8 hours. Waking today and realising that no one had any plans (an oasis in a storm of activity) we decided to have a pyjama day. Big Poppa has been working on a mixtape for someone special, so I figured I had time for a mini project. This DIY kids nightie caught my eye. Even better – it boasts that it’s a 15 minute project. That’s only about 4 hours in Mama time. Super!

I rummaged through the sewing box and found the vending machine t-shirt. At men’s size XL I knew I was stretching being able to do this in just 15 minutes, but I figured I could probably get something to work. Even if it just kind of worked. Little Fearse is never particularly critical of my sewing adventures, so I reckoned it was a safe bet.

The Fearse Family: Zach Braff t-shirt upcycle.

It took me about 2 hours in the end. Due to the size of the t-shirt I also had to cut out and reset the sleeves. I only knew this was a possibility from reading other t-shirt up-cycle tutorials previously and I’m sure that if anyone who actually knew anything about sewing checked this out they’d be horrified. It works, anyway, and Little Fearse (although very grumpy for these photos) seems wiling to wear it. And I reckon she looks just as spiffy as Zach Braff.

Mama xo

Give it up!

As well as selling some of our random goods, we’ve also found plenty of places lately to give our things away. Once we were a one stop donation family – the local St Vinnies. No longer! Since really analysing what we have to give away we’ve realised a few things. I’m going to break out the dot points here.

  • Op shops only want things they can sell. They don’t particularly like books. They definitely don’t want things in poor condition. They do not want your electrical goods.
  • Savers will take your electrical goods. They’ll take your clothes, too, but Savers is not an op shop. They donate a dollar for each item they receive. This isn’t a bad outcome, but it’s not the same as the whole profits going towards a charity. (And lets not even start on how much money raised actually goes to a charity anyway!)
  • There are many, many, many specialised charities looking for particular goods at a particular time.
  • Freecyclers tend to be really picky about what they want and what they don’t want. It’s hard to know if people are being picky because they want to get something for free to on-sell, or if they really can’t afford that one thing they really need, and they really need a particular type of that thing. It sometimes feels like it’s less about giving away and more about getting.

So here’s a mini run down on things we’ve given away.

Rags to the Country Fire Authority: the local CFA has a small wheelie bin out the back for rags. They ask for cotton-only clothing with no zips or buttons. I was able to donate some of the badly stained children’s clothes I mentioned here.

Books to a retirement village: Melaleuca Lodge Retirement Village on Phillip Island has an attached second hand bookshop. The bookshop raises money for the village. We donated a huge box load of books here. We have also recently discovered that our local YMCA where Little Fearse goes swimming has a book corner you can give your books to, or purchase books from for a small amount. I’m not sure who the money goes to.

Bill's Bookshop

Bill’s Bookshop – that’s our box of books right there.

Toiletries to a woman going to an orphanage in Fiji: Through a FB group I have ‘liked’ I discovered a woman was looking out for toiletries to take with her on a trip to a Fijian orphanage. She was after soaps and shampoos for the children and wanted to take some special items for the women working at the orphanage as gifts. I receive a lot of toiletries as gifts from students at the end of the year and often don’t use them. I donated a variety of hand creams, perfumes and soaps to be taken to Fiji.

Children’s clothes on Freecycle: When I last received the clothes on Freecycle there were many I didn’t need. I took out the ones destined for ragdom (above) and redonated the rest to a Freecycler, with some added unwanted items of ours. It’s good to see them being passed on and on. The woman I received them from originally got them on Freecycle, too!

Household goods to St Vinnie’s: I know that kitchen items sell well at St Vinnie’s, so I didn’t hesitate to donate these to them. I also donated toys and other random children’s goods.

Our clothes to Red Cross: Our local Red Cross op shop is very small and only receives clothes, so we donated ours here.

I’m going to make just one final point on donations. During the severe 2009 bush fires in Victoria BP and I volunteered to help sort the clothing and goods donated to families who had lost their homes. There were two huge HUGE warehouses full of clothing and household goods donated. Some of this stuff was really useful and would have really helped families resettle. A lot of the stuff was really awful. Stained. Full of spiders. Torn. Worn. Broken. Covered in animal hair. Stiff with food or bodily fluids. Seriously. If it is in such bad condition you wouldn’t wear it – don’t donate it. Find a different way to recycle it. (For instance, if it’s pure cotton put it in the compost – the worms will love it!) It’s an insult to those people who have lost their EVERYTHING to think that they will enjoy wearing your stained, see-through, torn, hairy old clothes.

We’d love to hear about other places you have found that liked to receive particular items.

If you’re looking to pass on any of your baby goods and you live in Melbourne, I’d highly recommend you check out whether it is something St Kilda Mums needs. They do a great job re-homing baby goods for Mums in need.


Ruffle bum footsie pants.

I was tested this week. I think it’s the first time I have felt really tested since BNN began. I didn’t start 2013 a mad consumer. I’ve never been too interested in brands or status due to stuff. Occasionally it gets me (did I tell you about the Fred Bare cowboy dress I bought Little Fearse for $10?) but mostly I’m more interested in a bargain than a brand.

On Friday a friend took me into two brand name children’s wear shops. Just about every item melted my heart. Knitted jumpers with cute forest animals on the front! Beanies with bunny ears! Ruffle bum footsie pants! Paddington jackets! Onesies with cat prints! Oh, the possibilities.

I had to go to a special place in my mind, promising myself a ‘window shop’ of the children’s clothing section of Ebay when I got home. I can go without trendy or ‘must have’ items of clothing for myself so easily. My style is, well, let’s call it “easy wear with a dash of vintage”. I wear a lot of hand-me-downs. I don’t have to think much about what I put on. If it is comfortable and weather appropriate I’m usually happy. But Little Fearse? You just have to add a ruffle or a pair of ears to almost any of her outfits and she goes from baby to bawwwwwwwwwwwwwby. And I can’t resist the ‘aww’.

See what I mean? Awwww.

See what I mean? Awwww.

Mostly Little Fearse has been dressed in hand-me-downs from her male cousins and a few male and female friends, though she has had the very good fortune of also being lent the most amazing clothing from the above friend who loves buying designer. There is really no way  I can repay that generosity because she and I both know that I would never buy those clothes myself, and yet I love them so much. It’s through her willingness to buy them that both Little Fearse and my melty heart benefit.

Luckily we have found a way to make an exchange – I’ve started cooking her meals, something I love doing and she doesn’t. I love the way the world provides symbiotic relationships like this, don’t you?

Ahh community,

Mama xox