Op Shopping – My Super Power

I’m really sorry to those who live in Cambridge and love to op shop.

I fear I have bought all the good stuff.

Op shopping is like a super power to me, I love it, I love a bargain, I love finding amazing weird items, vintage clothes, shoes, fabric, jars, kids clothes, pretty much everything in my house.

People ask me how I get time, I really don’t have time, I’m a busy person but I pop into an op shop for 10 mins here and there. I can’t commit a whole morning to it like I wish I could but I manage to find amazing bargains and rehome items that call my name.

Op shopping is good for many reasons

  • You’re rehoming unwanted items
  • By shopping secondhand we are creating a circular economy
  • Supports charities
  • Saves you money, so.much.money.
  • The thrill of finding something you didn’t expect to find
  • Rediscover gems from your past ie: Grandma’s crockery
  • Relive the 70’s
  • Find items to support zero waste without buying them new.


To give you an example of my latest op shop gems, here is me heading to a wedding last weekend in an outfit that was entirely secondhand.

Shoes $3 Salvation army

Dress $6 Jumble around op shop

Jacket $10 Jumble around op shop (Bought quite a while ago but as it’s linen and in excellent condition, I knew it would be handy one day)

Brooch $0.50c Hospice shop

Grand total $19.50


I understand that my outfit isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I purposely bought items with this look, not everything in op shops is vintage looking, there are plenty of modern clothes, the best things to find are outfits someone has worn once to an occasion and sent to the op shop, you can tell things are like new or even actually new with tags still attached.

I’m a strong believer in “Someone’s trash could be someone else’s treasure”

If you take your time, don’t go in with high expectations, be ok with leaving with nothing, you’ll be just fine.

You need to be patient for the good stuff to come along.

Small changes, could shopping second hand be your new way of doing things?

Slow fashion is quite a beautiful thing

Let me know what you find


Lara x

Selfish Cooking for the month of May

No meat may.

At the end of April, I decided I wanted to do a month of not eating meat. For health, for ethical reasons, for a change, as an experiment.

I thought, I’ll do it in May, what could I call it? Meat free may? No meat in may? Lara goes vege in may? I had a look on Instagram, turns out, #nomeatmay was already a thing. Great timing, lets do this.

I have 3 other people to feed in my house, I had no chance of changing their habits, yet, so I decided this meat free may was just a personal project. My kids are quite fussy eaters, changing their diet would need more than a month.

My tastes are quite different to my family, but over the years I have found recipes that suit everyone. I like mushrooms, creamy sauces, cheese, spinach, risotto, curry……things like that. My husband likes pasta, potatoes, pasta, bread, pasta, meat, pasta, raw carrots.

So what happened next is not what I expected. I got to cook, WHATEVER I WANTED. Just whatever I felt like. I didn’t have to question if anyone else would eat it.

First I did my research to make sure I knew what I needed to eat for protein. I knew alot but I just thought I’d google it for ideas too.

I found this helpful google image:


Seeing images like this sparked meal ideas. I haven’t followed one single recipe but more just made it up as I go. The crock pot has been very handy, I can throw a whole bunch of stuff in there, put it in a wrap with raw spinach and that’s lunch. I rediscovered risotto, quinoa, vegetarian curry, tofu, just more, more interesting flavors and combinations.

Vege pizza with almost everything from my fridge


I felt like this was a real treat for me and I felt good for it. I didn’t feel overly different but had no less energy or changes in mood. I was generally chuffed at how easy I found it and that meals times could be quite selfish.

                                                              Lentil curry/randomness. It was ace.

Did I miss meat? Not a bit. I think meat is just a habit we have, do meat eaters (yes, me when it’s not May) feel they need meat or is it a habit of how we prepare food? Meat is the center of attention and we find something to go with it. I found without eating meat I had to rethink how to prepare a meal, there was no main ingredient to base my meal around. I found things to eat and once I had a couple of ingredients at hand the rest just flowed.

My attempt at vege sushi!


What challenged me? Thinking of what to cook for the family. I did find my groove though, I made chicken stir fry for them, served it, threw my veges in the wok and while I set the kids up, mine was cooking. Easy.

For my final night of May I did cannelloni, mine had tofu, feta and spinach, topped with mashed purple kumara and a little cheese to crisp up the top. What a way to end the month.

                    Vege Canneloni

Did I eat vegan? Yes, where I could, or knew how to, but cheese was a hard one to get away from. I want to research more vegan recipes and if I was to do this again, I would be more prepared. I made vegan soups, stir-frys, bread and crackers.

I recommend giving this a go, test yourself, it makes you think outside the box and explore new food. It also makes you realise how much meat there is around us, you cant escape it.


Sorry, had to bite it to show what’s in it! My vege pie!

Will I continue? yes and no. I have decided to eat less meat in general. The main reason I will eat it sometimes is convenience because I cook it for my family already.

Will this change anything? Yes, it changes how I see meat, the obsession we have with it and it’s made me look deep into the production and farming of our food. The more you learn…..the less you want to know about it. It’s opened my eyes.

Would you eat less meat? I challenge you.

Lara x






30 mins walk, in a gorgeous tree lined town, on a path that runs down the side of green paddocks.

New Zealand is not as green as we think and perceive ourselves.


The green bag is a bag of doggy poo, why pick it up if you’re not going to bin it? It would be better for the planet to have just left it. Things like food and feces in landfill only create methane as they can’t decompose in there. Methane is climate change. Pick up doggy poo with newpaper, card board, a washable bag, so many other options.

Doesn’t matter how many times you use the plastic thing, it’s still here, it’s still waste, whether you use it once or 10 times.

Do you pick up litter? A friend and I are organsing a town clean up, keep your eyes peeled for updates on that.

This pump bottle still had its seal, not even single use! No use at all. Pointless and here forever.



Think twice before purchasing items like this


Lara x

Bag Pattern – a place to start

How I make a Boomerang bag!

This is quite a rough guide but I thought it would be a good place to start if you’re wondering how big to make a bag. This makes a good size for using at the super market, if made strong, it will hold a few bottles of milk or cans no probs.

It’s just a quick drawing but I will break it down for you!




Handles: I cut these about 4 inches wide, they can be any length, that is totally personal preference but I find 20 inches to be a good length. You can hold it in your hand or on your shoulder no worries.

Two ways to fold and sew your handles:

  1. Fold one edge over 1 cm and iron. Fold the other edge over 2 cm or into the centre and iron. Fold top seam onto the big seam and iron. This should make a seam right down the middle. Sew down the middle and then down both sides so you have 3 rows of sewing. This makes for a very strong handle.
  2. Fold both edges in just a little, maybe 1 cm and iron, then fold in half and iron. Sew down both sides.


For the bag: A piece of fabric folded in half, 20 inches across and 18 inches tall (once folded) is a great sized bag, this is customisable, depending on your fabric.

If you can get 2 bags out of the fabric but have good chunk left over, maybe adjust this pattern and try to make 3 bags instead and not have as much waste.

With the right sides showing, sew the side seams. Turn inside out, sew side seams again, bring your seam width in so it’s wider than the first, this way you create a french seam which is when the first seam is hidden by the second.

To do the box corners: Turn in the right way, make a point with the corner, opposite to the direction of the side seam, sew and then cut the corner off, turn inside out, make a french seam but doing a wider seam again like before. This way you have nice tidy seams and no raw edges showing.

Once side seams and box corners are complete, hem the top of the bag by turning it down just once, about 1-2 cm and sew.

Pin your handles where you want them to go, turn you top seam over once more and sew, when you get to a handle, tuck the edge under your seam, fold the handle into its final position and sew over it. Once you’ve been around the top once, move your needle up or down a bit to then make a second round of sewing around the top to secure the handles and make sure it’s strong.




If not, come over to @thecullblog on Facebook or Instagram and ask me for help! I am more than happy to assist!

I will be doing a video of making a bag soon so that will make these instructions more clear.

Thanks for reading and good luck!


Lara x






Boomerang Bags

Boomerang bags: Reusable bags, all made from upcycled/repurposed fabric, available free or for a donation.
I have been sewing a few bags for the new boomerang bags group here in Cambridge, we launched them at the farmers market this morning, they were all gone by 10.30am! (over 100 bags!) We will keep sewing and keep offering them as an alternative to plastic in the hope it changes peoples thinking.

The stall holders are all on board and suggested people use their own bags before using plastic.


Talking to people and seeing them realise how important this is truly made me feel that finally, maybe I am making a small difference.

Watching ‘A plastic Ocean’ won’t make me feel so guilty now.

It’s a start in the right direction, we have a long way to go.



Want to be a part of this?

Any fabric donations you might have would be much appreciated, also, if you want to help, you don’t have to be able to sew, you can help in many other ways.


Refuse plastic, think of the ocean.


Lara x




Soft Plastic Recycling

How much of your rubbish is packaging?

The packet from the crackers, from the muesli, from the bread, from the sugar, from the pasta…….the list goes on….

These packets are soft plastics, and they can be recycled. They can’t go in your recycling bin so it requires a tiny bit of extra effort, but it can be done!

There are soft plastic recycling drop off points around town, you just need to find out where they are in your town. Here in Cambridge there are three spots I know of, These should be the same for most New Zealand towns/cities.

Countdown Cambridge
Cnr Queen and Empire Streets, Cambridge
New World Cambridge
14 Anzac St, Cambridge
The Warehouse Cambridge
33 Wilson Street, Cambridge
When I started to recycle soft plastics, our amount of rubbish dropped dramatically.
I keep a stash of it all in a bag hanging in the laundry, when its jam packed, I drop it off to one of the drop off spots. So handy having one at the supermarket, you just need to remember to take it with you when you head there!
The bin for it looks like this:r0_0_576_430_w1200_h678_fmax
Or look for this Logo:
You will soon learn how much packaging you consume, will it help you to avoid plastic?
I know it did for me, lets try look after this planet we love so much.
Reuse, recycle and refuse.
Lara x

Zero Waste is Simple



Zero waste is simple if you can be a bit organised. Keep things in your car/bag so you won’t be caught without what you need. Don’t be nervous to take a container into the bakery or sushi shop, they will be grateful you did. What’s missing here is my keep cup, currently in the dishwasher. Once you start swapping disposable for reusable you’ll start to see the change in how slow you fill you bin compared to before. ✅

ps. Green bag and floral bulk bin bag both made by me, so simple if you have access to a machine.