You know those dreams where you come across the ‘thing’ of your dreams and it’s bargain priced and you buy it, and it’s too good to be true and then you wake up…because you were right, it is too good to be true after all.  You know?  I had a real life experience like this yesterday, and luckily it was tinged with reality – my reality, so it wasn’t too good to be true and therefore I am happy.

After some deep tissue therapy, I thought I’d run an errand to drop off culls for the opshop, but actually my sneaky plan was to go into the opshops (there are three in the vicinity) and maybe find a reason to break my self imposed restriction on spending money.  It was worth every cent of the money I was not supposed to spend!  I got:

  • a slow cooker cookbook with awesome recipes (Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook),
  • a big terracotta pot that someone has painted garishly many, many times, but the paint is flaking off and after picking it up and lugging it round for half an hour it looks like it was unearthed from Pompeii – perfect!
  • a cat litter tray (best not to ask),
  • an old handmade calico cutwork tablecloth,
  • a beaded jug cover (the sweet volunteer lady was so young she didn’t know what it was),
  • 4 fifty cent zips,
  • 20 year old interfacing still in its packet,
  • an unusually shaped pillow insert that is brand new and smells good,
  • a terracotta boot that someone clever once made in a pottery class,
  • an old green handmade doily (it makes me so sad when these handmade things end up at the oppie – I have to love them all so I’m going to collect doilies now and make some nice bunting from them),
  • a book on crocheting garish jumpers from the 80’s which is awesome,
  • a signed book by a chef from the Chesapeake area which looks yum,
  • two books by writers I’ve been following recently,
  • a grey linen Esprit shirt in my size…that I love.

Awesome: I found a delicious recipe for Red Sauce Beef in the slow cooker cookbook, and have just put it together for dinner tonight  Keeping it Real: but in the process I discovered the blade roast was supposed to be used two days ago (well two days ago if today was yesterday, but I feel like if I say it was three days over the Use By date it is pushing the friendship, so I’m telling you two.) I got rid of the evidence on the wrapping very quickly, because if they found it the kids would scream blue murder about me trying to poison them and some such rubbish.  I gave the beef the sniff test and was very happy to use it because a) this is a family of carnivores – the food is down and digesting before they’ve got their plates to the sink and b) I’m the only one who can smell that the cat litter needs changing, so I’m pretty sure my sniff-the-meat test is accurate. Keeping it Real: Also, that’s why I bought the cat litter tray, it makes it easier to just swap the trays over and handle the rest in a wide open space in the back paddock.

Awesome: 50 cent zips!  Keeping it Real: Occasionally I get in the mood to make various sizes of zipped articles that look like weirdly shaped pencil cases.  It makes me happy.  But they only work with op-shop zips, because if I spend $5 for a zip from a sewing shop…I will irretrievably wreck it every time. I don’t know why.  Keeping it Real: Also sometimes when finished I think to myself that the weirdly shaped pencil case could almost be a pillow case if I had an unusually shaped pillow insert – and now I do!

Awesome: The grey linen Esprit shirt, in my size!  Keeping it Real: I have recently fallen in love with linen – it keeps me cool when I’m flushing and more importantly because I don’t iron, it can be a little post washed crushed (try saying that drunk) and I can say ‘Well, it’s linen’ which to me is perfectly reasonable. Also, Keeping it Real: I like grey because it isn’t white – white is the wrong color to have near my hands or my mouth…and I never find linen shirts that aren’t white or hot pink, so yay!  Plus it’s one of those shirts that make you ask “Why did they throw this out?It’s awesome!”…and the only reason I could find, was there was a blob of food stuck on the front.  You know how sometimes you have something and you drop your morning egg on it and you go “Well…I don’t think I can be bothered washing it, so I’ll just chuck it in the Vinnie’s bag.”? You know?

I’m pretty sure that’s how I end up with my best and most favorite op-shop clothes, so no judgement here whatsoever!

The Middle Kid also had a win picking up an old sledgehammer, because he thinks it’s time he got his tool kit together for when he is a man…which resulted in this brief exchange at 9.30pm:

Me: Where are you going with the sledgehammer?

MK: Outside to destroy something.

Me: (Sigh) You need to have shoes on if you’re going out destroying!

I love my family, I do.  I may not be the mother that they’d wish, but I’m certainly the mother that they need.  I’m real!  And if anyone of you who knows us finds that we’ve gone suspiciously quiet in the next day or so – I’m fairly certain it wasn’t the beef.  Like, 89% sure.

How do you keep it (quietly) real at your house? Come, on – I won’t tell.




About Alyson

I am a 45+ chick. I live in the country with 3 almost (apparently) adult children teenagers, 1 husband and many animals. Here's the thing: The black dog also hangs with me occasionally and, thank the baby cheeses, life is not perfect. That's OK, because I work hard to be a glass half-full person and I can't lie! I write to help my head, heart and humor...and I tell myself 'I've got this!'


  1. Use by dates are for pussies! it is now aged steak.

    When we were camping once, our dad found that the meat was fly-blown – but picked out the maggots and cooked it up anyway. We survived, even though I was pretty sure we wouldn’t.

    True – not a story

    • That’s an excellent true Cath! Very real, and so much the way we were brought up too and we are tough as nails 🙂

  2. This made me laugh out loud. I am always on a search for the perfect recipe that the WHOLE family will eat (so sick of 5 different versions of a meal) and so I collect every cookbook that might hold the golden ticket to that moment. A few weeks ago when I was asked what’s for dinner for the umpteenth time, I said “Bread and butter” and the boys gasped, cheered, high fived and said “That’s so awesome”…I just bought a jaffle maker yesterday…to keep it real. Big hugs lovely, I just love your writing xxx

  3. Hey thanks Anna! I know that life well…if I had a dollar for every time I got asked what was for dinner, I wouldn’t have to have self imposed purchase restrictions! Jaffle makers are awesome! I miss ours…hmmmm 🙂 xxx

  4. You rock, Al. Always amazed by your ingenuity. I NEED to go optioning with you.

  5. Alison, it so good to read your joy at op-shopping! I am an op-shopper from way back and find it really hard to spend retail prices when I know I can pick up something awesome for a few dollars. Please, I need to know if you are planning to make a garish 80’s jumper. Gold. Just gold.

    • Me too Bianca! I do hate paying full price in ‘proper’ shops and so much prefer the fun of the hunt in the op shop 🙂 As for my garish jumpers, I’m a newbie at crochet so I was thinking I’ll do a garish jumper as a cushion cover 🙂

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