top pops to the shop of the op

Op-shopping. I have the habit deep! It’s a hobby that clothes my family, furnishes and decorates my home, fills up my gift-suitcase (I stow interesting items in a suitcase so I always have something on hand when gifts are needed…) and combines simple/thrifty living with re- and upcycling plus the joy of a treasure hunt.

I often call into an op-shop after dropping M at school, or before picking him up. Here are some things I found in April/May. (Excuse the fuzzy photographs. I’m on instagram courtesy of a very old iPod touch that used to belong to my son  (I don’t have a smartphone) and the photo quality on it is not great.) These photographs only represent about a third of what I’ve found recently, but not everything is photo-worthy (books, clothes that are useful but not exciting, etc)

Gorgeous vintage frock. Way too small for me, alas, so I bought it for a friend who loves things folky…




GIANT patchwork bag with wooden handles, which for some reason really reminds me of the Little House on the Prairie books… mayopshop_2

Hilarious 70s notepad of love letter writing paper – each page features a vaseline-lens picture of a different couple with schmaltzy love-messages…


The sweetest tiny tea-set ever…


A great Nana-painting – an original! I love flowers on black backgrounds…


& the best 1980s wool jersey! Warm, comfortable and ridiculous in the best way…





receptacles, ted hughes and a pony

Happy spring!

*cue ubiquitous Daffodil photograph*

I took this photograph at Mount Lees Reserve which was a-romp with daffodils. I don’t even like daffodils! but they are eye-catching en masse….


Here is a recent op-shopping haul:


I’ve been looking for some kind of baskety receptacle for when I pick things out of the garden – this basket is perfect, big enough and sturdy enough. You can expect to see a lot of it as I take yet more photographs of stuff what I grew.

A great little tool box, which still smells like a grandad’s shed – kind of smokey and engine oil-y…I’m going to keep embroidery cottons and tools in it in a nice feminine/masculine mash-up.

A book of essays by Ted Hughes about writing poetry. Fantastico! The sort of book which is impossible to find in book shops…plus it has a lovely fox on the front, The Thought Fox perhaps?

A pretty top for summer. I buy less and less clothing these days, op-shop or otherwise, but I find it hard to walk past a small-scale floral on a dark background…

& A little horse posey vase, for a friend who loves horse-kitsch.


If you, like me, get a vicarious thrill from reading about other people’s op-shop finds…do I have the blog for you! OP SHOP MAMA. A New Zealand lady who op-shops til she drops in Hamilton. I love her blog partly because I enjoy seeing what she got and partly because she buys so much stuff she makes me feel better about my own modest-in-comparison magpie habits. These days I op-shop monthly rather than weekly and am heaps more selective about what I bring home, partly because I’m trying to save money and partly because I’m heading more towards simple living….less is more….zen yada-yada. So yes, I read Op Shop Mama and it’s like op-shopping without the actual parting with cash or then trying to figure out what to do with the random stuff I just bought…. 😉



gifts from the thrift

How is the first official week of winter treating you? (Game of Thrones fans will get the reference here….)


Here is some vegetable bunting I made for the kitchen because….well, just because:


Here’s some stuff from the op-shop lately. (I buy most of my clothes from the op-shop also, but they aren’t all that exciting to photograph.) The sweet, the curious and the plain old strange have come my way…

Something about this wee vintage dog appealed to me – the way he is obviously such a good dog and his face is on that angle of appealing to a person standing near….also he is standing on the tucker box – guarding it, or wanting to eat it’s contents…?




New (to-me) art for the wall – an American Jay bird. I love the pencil of the foliage and the way only the bird is coloured. This is on wood and has a kind of enameled or something surface. Quite unusual.


A Holly Hobbie tile, mounted on wood. This will go to one of the manifold little girls in my life.


Not op-shopped, but these two sweeties were being thrown out when Fraser’s grandfather moved house, so I duly rescued them.


Finally, a strange little mushroom man. Yes, I am aware that he is quite penile in appearance…I think this is partly what appealed. He’s like a wee fertility totem! 🙂


This is why I love op-shopping – the randomness, the chance – you just never know what you might uncover. It really is a treasure hunt.



reality check at the vintage clothing sale


I went to a vintage clothing sale recently and had a lot of fun time-travelling through the decades as I looked through the racks. One thing really struck me though – the majority of the clothing was 1980s! Shoulder padded, two-toned, inverse triangle shaped, taffeta ball gowns….80s, 80s, 80s! And a bit of 90s. Which makes perfect sense, of course, because the 1980s are now 20+ years ago. It made me feel kind of old, however, as when I first started op-shopping – the ‘retro’ clothing was from the 50s, 60s, 70s, with majority of stuff from the 1970s. It was still possible to find an incredible 1950s cotton sundress or silk evening dress. This is extremely rare these days.

So much of the 1980s fashion is just not that attractive! While a fifties circle skirt has a timeless appeal, a 1980s two-tone cotton overall with massive baggy pockets? Well, it’s ‘quite a look’ as one of my friends says. (Translation: ‘What the hell is that person WEARING?’)

My favourite era for vintage is the 1970s and I guess that is because I was a child then so I have a lot of nostalgia for polyester evening dresses, silver floor length skirts, shirts with extremely pointy collars, floral velveteens, Laura Ashley-style cotton sun-dresses…..*happy sigh*

I didn’t end up finding anything for myself at the sale, although I did find a couple of great things for a friend. I did, however, find the above polyester dress at the op-shop recently.

Some people hate polyester and I understand that. It feels weird and plastic-y if you aren’t used to it. But here are some reasons I love vintage polyester – it keeps it’s colour, doesn’t fade, it is extremely easy-care – you can treat it mean in the laundry room and it keeps on bouncing back. It dries super-fast – twenty minutes on the line and it’s good to go, and you never, never, never have to iron it! It’s true that polyester doesn’t feel that nice against the skin, but you can get around that by sticking to polyester skirts, or wearing cotton singlets under dresses.

I’ve been wearing 1970s polyester skirts and frocks since the 1980s. I guess I always will, until there are no more 1970s artefacts to be found.


dead butterflies and time-travel

More op-shopping updates!

I hyper-ventilated a bit when I found this – a vintage butterfly display. It was covered in thick dust and looking very neglected….only $5! After a good clean with some window-cleaner, it has come up a treat. I thought my mister would hate it and do one of his ‘not more clutter!!’ sighs, but he likes it! Go figure.

An adorable 1970s girl’s dress. Those little patch pockets….waaah! I wish it was in my size.

A kind of ugly but interesting vintage scarf, which I will probably use to wrap a gift.

More revisiting my 70s childhood – this cute-as wooden puzzle – this definitely caused me to time-travel to Waitara Kindergarten 1976…I wonder if we actually had this puzzle at my kindy…it seems so familiar….




Butterfly display might end up winning favourite find of the year, 2012….on the other hand – there are still four months to go….

this time last year on instagram

I don’t have a smartphone, but my son has an iPod-touch, and when we first got it, I set up instagram…however he kept deleting my apps and generally being a pest so I sort of gave up on trying to share it with him and just left him to it…

…he’s just received an iPad as a gift (lucky lucky boy!) so I’ve inherited his (cracked and be-smurched) old iPod and I can play with instagram again! Yay!

I started by down-loading my instagram photographs from the last time I used it and – funnily – it was roughly a year ago!

Here’s some instagrams from August-September last year….

There was baking of cupcakes….


& eating of my husband’s fine pizza – I swear he makes the best pizza and the best coffee IN THE WORLD. I’m so lucky!


I op-shopped a wonderful early-80s ‘cowgirl’ dress, which I love because it is an adult version of serveral dresses I wore as a girl:


And this was my other favourite op-shop purchase from last year – a 70s owl trivet:


I bought a bodhran, which I love! I’ve neglected it a bit lately…this photo reminds me how excited I was when I first got it – this summer I’m going to ‘serenade’ the chickens from the back porch with some invigorating bodhran beats!


It snowed! It never snows here usually…



I farewelled my favourite (5 year old) sneakers….they were getting really gross. I haven’t replaced them yet 😦 I took this photo of them before they went in the bin…



I fell deeply in love with Merrill Garbus…this is me trying to infuse myself with some of Merrill’s coolness….ha ha….


And I took a self-portrait on my 39th birthday….this is me nearly a year ago….



I really like The Neart-Sighted Owl’s ‘This Week On Instagram’ posts (which inspired this one!) and while I know I don’t take enough shots to do a weekly instalment…now that I’m back on instagram I’ll do more of these…

(If you’re on instagram….my username is helenmlehndorf…follow me and I’ll follow you back!)