Friday, 13 June 2014

I've moved!

Beautifulorpractical has moved to Wordpress! You can find me here

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Wardrobe updates - altering a tailored jacket and changing sleeves

Two months in and my buy no new clothes challenge is going surprisingly well. I have only really had one major challenge which was finding a fabulous show shop when I visited Edinburgh with a friend. The shoes were beautiful but also capable of withstanding a good walk and while I'm a little sad that my show buying now takes that into account it;s just a fact of life! My friend was just as smitten with the shop and tried on 7 pairs while I looked longingly at them .............. I made it out without a purchase, my friend didn't!

To try and take away the temptation to buy I have been sorting through everything in my wardrobe that needs altered or fixed in some way. Alterations are brilliant because it feels a bit like shopping in your own wardrobe!

My most successful project has been a brown cord jacket that my sister gave me - we had a big clothes swap to re-home our unworn clothes. The jacket was beautifully made but just not quite me. It was a little long and just a bit too casual. I had put it to one side to go to the charity shop when I picked up a lovely beige and burgundy dress from a charity shop (sounds revolting but it is really pretty!) and was really stuck for something to wear it with. It needed a brown jacket. I figured that as much as I hate to waste things the jacket was on its way out anyway and it hadn't cost me any money so it wasn't a huge big deal if I messed it up.

I straightened off the bottom so it ran straight across the waist line. Then reinforced the edges with a zigzag stitch and trimmed off the frayed edges. Of course I forgot to take a decent before photo :0 

Testing the length

Making the first big cut!
All evened off but still not quite right......

Finally I added a trim to cover off the unfinished edges.  And magically it goes perfectly with the dress! It probably took me just over an hour  - far less than I would have spent searching for something new, and it cost me just £2 for the trim.

Ready to go
Now I can wear my dress :)

The second favourite update was to remove the floaty sleeves from a jersey sundress. I love these French Connection jersey dresses, they used to bring them out every year in different patterns with slightly different detailing. I loved the print on this one but the floaty cap sleeves were just a bit too girly for me and I kept putting it on and taking it off again before I went out.  This update was really quick and simple. The seems were unpicked, sleeves removed and the armholes re-hemmed. I now have a much more wearable dress which has now become a holiday staple.

Complete with flicky sleeves

Now a holiday staple :)
Being able to make these simple updates to get more out of my existing clothes makes me so glad my mum taught me how to sew!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Cutting the crap - quitting caffeine

I have been a coffee drinker since I was about 12. For me it was a symbol of adulthood and independence and I've never really moved on from there! While I love a really good coffee, most of what I drink is instant tar usually supplied during work meetings. While I love coffee and a nice cup of tea, I'm not sure they love me.  With a little more time to think about how I feel and how I am affected by difference things it is fairly obvious that after a day drinking tea of coffee I really don't feel that well. It just makes me feel sluggish and upsets my stomach.

Now that I am not working full time in an office the temptation to guzzle down huge amounts of coffee is still there but the fact that I have to make it myself means I have to think about whether a really want a coffee or a tea and whether I should have something else so I have a real opportunity to change my habits. But...............I have tried in the past to give up caffeine and although I have been successful for up to a month, after that I typically get bored and slow slide back into my old habits.

So the challenge is how I am going to make this time different? By having a plan! I found some great guidance on and the plan below is largely based on that.

1. Have a powerful motivating reason and refer back to it regularly.
Think about why you want to give up. For me I want to feel healthier, to be more specific I want to have more energy, improve my sleep, cut headaches and improve my digestion. I also have a lot of problems with muscle tension and wonder if this is connected.

As an additional motivator here are some known side effect from caffeine.
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Poor digestion
  • Decreased bone density
  • Increased muscle tension
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
That makes it sound about as attractive as smoking,...............................

2. Have a substitute 
If there is nothing else available I will reach for the tea or coffee so some restocking and reorganising is required in the kitchen. I have plenty of lovely herbal teas so I have moved them to the front of the cupboard and the real tea and coffee to the back.

3. Address the social side
Having coffee is a social activity in its own right. I don't want to say no to invitations for a good gossip so I need an alternative plan. This means hunting out cafes that serve lovely teas, good quality decaf and hot chocolate if a real treat is required!

4. Address habit and boredom
This is a tricky one. I gulp down coffee in meetings for a couple of reasons, if I am holding a coffee I don't fidget (!) and in a very long meeting, getting up for a coffee is a blessed relief . The answer I think is just to find an alternative, a herbal tea or a water. I have stocked my handbag with nice herbal tea bags.

5. Take stock and celebrate
Go back to the motivators on a daily/ weekly basis and ask honestly whether I feel I've made progress.

I am not planning to try a weaning off process. I have already cut my consumption quite drastically so I think it must be time to go cold turkey :0

Here are some of my favourite alternatives so far:

Pukka herbs three mint tea, refreshing and uplifting

Pukka herbs, Peppermint and Liquorice, delicious

Brewhaha Super Happiness Tea, quirky and fun

Wish me luck!!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Slowing down and living more - why I walked away from a successful career

One of the main reasons I left my previous job was to slow my life down a little and concentrate of the things that really mattered. Family, health, community and the environment.

If I described myself as an environmentalist you would laugh and I would probably join you. My life is very far from squeaky green clean but making an effort is important to me. What I found was that the busier I got and the more I earned, the easier it became to justify making choices that weren't very eco or good for my health. Always in a rush there seemed no option but to take the car. Ready meals and take aways started to invade the kitchen and the number of plastic take aways boxes we have amassed is a bit embarrassing...........Cooking from scratch became a real challenge and there never seemed to be time for fun or light heartedness. Holidays were invaded by work and I felt like I was neglecting my husband, my family, friends and my health.

Even recognising all of this it took me about two years to leave. While my heart said leave very loudly, my head said no, you need to try harder, you've worked so hard for this. As one of very few senior women in my company I thought it would set a bad example if I said I can't do this or I don't want this. I have always believed that if you don't like something you should change it and I found it incredibly hard to admit that I couldn't change the culture I worked in and I couldn't make my job into something I wanted to spring out of bed for.

But eventually my heart won. Ultimately what was right for me and my husband was more important than what people might think. In the end I was overwhelmed at just how supportive people were of my decision. Within days of making the change I felt like a huge weight had been lifted and much as I miss my colleagues, there is nothing I miss about that life.

Trying to make up my mind what to do I read lots and lots of books.  Some made me feel like a terrible under achiever (168 Hours:You Have More Time than You Think) and others were hugely inspiring and uplifting like The Fire Starter Sessions, Danielle LaPorte and Outrageous Openness, Tosha Silver. There is a webcast of Danielle LaPorte talking about goal setting on Marie Forleo's website - I highly recommend watching it for really straightforward and practical advise on working out what is right for you and setting your goals.

One incident really tipped the scales. I went on holiday for a friend's birthday last year, 16 of us hired a huge house in France for her 40th. While I was waiting for a hire car my bag with all my ID documents, my holiday money, work phone, iphone, ipad and clothes got stolen. It should have been a disaster but actually I had a fabulous holiday because I was forced to switch off and just enjoy the company, the food and use the very few things that were in my husband's bags! There were three lessons I learned 1/ I didn't see how I could ever manage to feel that disconnected from work if I continued to do my job, 2/ the way we had lived for the week was very similar to how I was brought up and a million miles away from my everyday life and 3/ I was really shocked at how little losing all that stuff mattered, ie, I must have far far too much stuff if the impact is so insignificant. I could dismiss this as a healthy attitude to loss but I found it really disturbing!

So what has any of this got to do with making green choices?
In a way I think green choices are interlinked with simpler living. Less stuff = less impact. More conscious cooking = less impact. More time = ability to walk or take public transport instead of taking the car. Less rushing about looking busy = more time for social interaction.  But perhaps the biggest shift is simply one of mindset, it took a big push for my head to admit that status and stuff isn't important, making time for priorities and connecting with people is.

So what am I changing? 
  • I work for myself so I can flex my hours to fit around other commitments and I don't feel guilty making a commitment to do something frivolous like going for a walk on the beach. When I tried to define success for myself one of the things I listed was being able to leave work and walk on the beach or cycle through the woods. It seemed unobtainable but it isn't.
  • I now work in town so I can walk and get the bus to most places I need. I feel lots better for even getting a short walk to the bus stop rather than hopping in and out of the car!
  • The second car is up for sale as we really aren't using either - hubby is much more energetic than me and cycles everywhere :0 Now I just need someone to actually buy the car :(
  • I have the time to consider what I buy, to look at packaging and buy local. We are eating much better and our waste is going down.
  • I have the time to indulge my old sewing hobby. The sewing machine is out and years with of mending has taken place, my wardrobe has been updated with simple changes and I have vowed not to buy any new clothes for the rest of the year. It is going amazingly well so far, mainly because the mending has given my wardrobe a new lease of life!
  • There is space in my head to think about saving energy and reusing materials. I have still to compare our energy usage but I'm sure we have made progress in reducing it.
  • Most importantly I have time to catch up with friends and family. I have seen more people. smiled more and laughed more in the last two months than I have in years!
  • Over and above that I'm loving reading other people's experience of simplifying their life and homemaking.
Specific challenges?

  • Buy no new clothes in 2014
  • Buy no more toiletries in 2014 - a trawl of the bathroom revealed a ridiculous stash of part used products and miniatures released from hotels :0
  • Sell the second car
  • Reduce the amount of packaging we buy and consume - I'm not sure what an appropriate target would be though?
  • Spend more time with friends and family
  • And the one that is ridiculously hard to measure - laugh more and cry less  - I guess you know if you're there by the way you feel!
I hope you'll follow my journey!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Me Made May 2014

I read about Me Made May on My Make Do and Mend Year. It's a project to encourage all the wonderful people who craft and make clothes to wear their handmade items with pride in May.  original challenge was to wear something made by you everyday for the whole of May. Although I have made clothes in the past it has been a long time so rather than go naked I'm adapting the challenge to make it a bit more achievable but in the spirit of the project.

You can find out more about the project at the fabulous So Zo, What Do You Know who kicked it off. 

So my pledge is to wear something I have either made myself, mended or revamped in some way for five days a week for the whole of May.

I'm a bit late starting so I guess I better crack on!  I got off to a head start today with my revamped pyjamas. 

Happy making, mending and upcycling!

Make do and mend - Shortening sleeves on a waterproof jacket

I've had this waterproof jacket for years but it rarely gets worn because the sleeves are so long. If I wear it walking and it rains I end up with soggy wrists as the sleeves start off turned up and then fall down after a while.

In keeping with the Buy Nothing New Challenge I thought I would try to shorten the sleeves so Ic an get more wear from the jacket.

I am the queen of lazy fixes so normally I would just turn the sleeves under and stitch them in place but there is a rubber bit on the cuff that is quite bulky. I have never shortened sleeves properly so this was a bit of an experiment!

Taking off the cuff was a bit tricky because it was secured on both sides and really well made!
I should have measured the sleeve length first but I took a guess that I needed to take off the length off the cuff so I took 5 centimetres off the outer sleeve and the lining. 

This turned out to be a bit of a mistake, but I didn't find that out until I finished machine stitching the outer sleeve to the cuff and realised it was still far too long  when I tried it on :( It turns out I needed to take a whopping 10 centimetres off!

I pinned and tacked the sleeve to the cuff and then machine stitched them together. I thought I'd done great until I realised it was still too long and I had to unpick it and chop a bit more off! Turns out the DIY mantra measure twice and cut once applies to sewing too :(

The original sleeve was machine stitched with a running stitch on the inside on both the outer sleeve and the lining, I think this must have been done before the sleeve was attached to the body. I couldn't work out how to do this without taking the whole sleeve off so unsettled for hand stitching. 

Instead of the original finish I tacked a hem into the lining and then tacked the lining to the cuff. 

I then hand stitched the lining onto the cuff with small stitches tacking care only to go through the inner layer of the cuff so as not to damage the waterproofing on the outside with unnecessary needle holes.

The shorter sleeve was quite a bit wider so I put a small single tuck in the fabric and secured it with the hem.

I'm really pleased with the result, the stitching at the lining is visible but  I now have a much more wearable jacket and saved it from the charity shop :)

Ta da, a sleeve that fits

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Make do and mend - how to save a stretched pajama top

I have a pair of Cath Kidson cotton pajamas that I love. They have been washed so many times that they are super soft and comfy. Unfortunately they have also been washed so many times that the top has lost all lycra and stretched so much that it is a bit obscene! We had guests staying last week and I realised that the op really couldn't be worn in front of anyone except my husband - even then it was starting to get a bit embarrasing.................

I wasn't really sure how to fix it and all the guides I could find were for stretching teeshirts that had shrunk. I did try boiling it to see if it would shrink but that simply killed the rest of the lycra :0

  I measured about 2 1/5 inches from the top seam,  ran a zigzag stitch all the way along and then added a simple straight seam. The nerve racking bit was cutting off the excess fabric but I made the cut and it worked perfectly.

 The back edge of the top was left raw so I turned it under and tacked it.

Then I got a little adventurous and snipped off the lace edging that was looking a bit grey and sad. Next I added some ribbon that I had left over from Christmas. 


I tacked the ribbon in place to ensure it wouldn't slip on the machine and then striched it place with two lines of stitching. Before machine stictching I did check I could definitely get my head through the resized hole! My favourite pajamas are now restored and I can wear them without disgracing myself!!

Make do and mend - buttons, a quick fix for a favourite jumper

The slightly sad buttons :(

One of my favourite jumpers was starting to look a little sad. It is a very simple navy jumper, nothing fancy but it makes be feel all Parisian chic! The jumper itself was in good condition but it had gold buttons that had got scuffed and lost their colour round the edges.

A habit I must have picked up from my mum is saving buttons. I never really put them to good use and they lurk in my sewing box.
Here are some of the nicer ones! I thought I would put them to good use to give my jumper a new lease of life.

I picked out some of my favourites that either matched or were similar colours and updated my jumper - I'm delighted that it's back to fully service :) A cheap and very easy fix with nothing new purchased!

Buttons from long forgotten cardigans

Surprising energy vultures - simple tips to reduce energy usage

The energy monitor has arrived! The reviews did warn that it could be addictive and it is.

I thought I had a fairly good grasp on the appliances and devices that used the most energy but the results have been quite eye opening.

So here are the surprises:

The induction hob

The induction hob  
Just one ring uses more power per minute than the washing machine in full spin!

Energy Saving Tip
Use the correct heat setting as energy usage falls with the temperature. Consider using a slow cooker or Wonderbag for cooking items that need longer.
Double up by using a steamer so more than one thing can cook on a           single ring.
Reuse boiled water for cooking other veg or adding to a stock pot.

The grill
Switching from the double grill setting to the single grill makes a fairly significant difference. Think about whether the lower setting will do.

The Kettle 
I knew it was a high energy user but I didn't realise just how much it used

Energy Saving Tip
Boil only what you need or transfer any excess to a flask, this isn't as much of a pain as I thought it might be and it's evern quicker to make a cup of tea as there is no waiting for the kettle!

The Toaster   
I just hadn't really thought about this onebut it does draw quite alot of power.

The kitchen halogen spot lights
These use considerable more power than normal lights and the down lighters under the cabinets.

Here's how the energy consumption of the appliances compares: -

So if I was to cook a pot roast beef I could expect:


My trusty slow cooker comes out the clear winner for cost and energy consumption and it is a really simple way to cook. I'll be using it and the Wonderbag even more now I have seen the difference in consumption.  I will also be looking at replacing the halogen spots with LEDs if possible to reduce the power drawn by the kitchen lights.

What surprises have you found when monitoring energy? There is some great inspriation on energy saving tips in My Make Do and Mend Year.

Monday, 21 April 2014

How to stretch too tight shoes

How to stretch your shoes!

An easy way to save on clothes and accessories is to work with what you have. But what about the fabulous shoes that really pinch? If you're like me, you bought them, wore them convinced they would be fine, and spent the day wincing as at least one toe got squashed every time you put a foot down. The beautiful shoes are now worn so they can't go back to the shop. Oops. What a waste. Not very money saving and definitely not green.

So are they destined to live forever in the wardrobe until they are relocated to the charity shop? Not if you try this handy tip! I tested it on two pairs of shoes and it worked a treat.

You will need a small sandwich bag with a seal fastening or a normal sandwich bag with a separate clip that will seal the bag closed. The bag must be water tight. Best test it first so you don't get wet shoes!

Tuck the bag into the front of the shoe and push the plastic right into the toes. Carefully fill the bag with water and seal it leaving a little room for the water to expand. Place your shoe in a carrier bag and put it in the freeze for at least two hours. The water will slowly expand when it freezes and stretch out the shoe! For a full visual instruction see this Youtube clip.

 Remove your shoe and allow the water to thaw a little before removing the bag, this will make it less likely to tear and leak. For an extra stretch I put on a pair of really thick socks, popped on the shoes and wore the around the house for a bit. It's a bit of a faff but very easy and it really does work!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Tips and tricks to reduce energy use in the home

The last quarter of 2013 saw most large energy companies increase gas and electricity prices.
According to Money Saving Expert, British Gas increased electricity bills by 10.4% and gas tariffs by 8.4% for around 7.8 million customers from 23 November. Npower put up electricity and gas prices by 9.3% and 11.1% respectively from 1 December and Scottish Power raised gas tariffs by 8.5% and electricity prices by an average of 9% from 6 December for its 2.2 million customers. For more stats and the full article click here.

In March SSE promised to freeze prices until 2016 and others may follow but for many household the cost of gas and electricity is substantial and  for some it is simply unmanageable. On current tariffs a  medium fuel user will spend around £1000 a year on dual fuel.

Leaving aside the costs there are other pressing reasons to reduce fuel consumption.  Fossil fuels still make up 87% of the world's fuel use. Resources are diminishing but our usage continues to increase. The info graphic below provides some alarming stats. See the Guardian's Live Better Challenge for more information.

From the Guardian Better Living Site

Whether you choose to make change to your energy use for financial or environmental reasons it makes sense to reduce your usage.  But just how easy is it and can one family really make a difference?

At the moment we are not monitoring our energy use on a daily basis so I have no hard stats to share. I will post an update one our new energy monitor arrives!  In the meantime here are some simple tricks:

1.Try using a slow cooker. 
According to Uswitch, cooking accounts for 4% of an average user's energy bill. Slow cookers run on a much lower wattage than an electric oven and there is a smaller space to heat. If you use your slow cooker on low the cost of cooking will be substantially reduced. As an added bonus, slow cooking lets you use tougher, cheaper cuts of meat and requires very little preparation time. There is a one off cost to buy a slow cooker - they cost upwards of £12 but I've had mine for 5 years and it has more than covered its cost.

2. Better still try a WonderBag
 A Wonderbag is a slow cooker that uses no energy. Designed to help families in developing countries it locks initial heat in and uses it to cook the food. You heat your food in a pot and let it simmer for 5 mintues for veg and 15 for meat, pop the pot in the Wonderbag, seal it and leave for five hours or more. When you take your pot out you will have perfectly cooked food having used nothing more than the initial power. I was sceptical but it worked a treat - review to follow. At around £40 there is an initial cost outlay but the fuel savings and it's versatility make it worth considering. We have a small camper van with a calor gas stove and the Wonderbag means that we can use a minimal amount of gas to make tasty meals while we do more interesting things during the day. You can read more here.

3. Fill your oven
If you are using your oven consider batch cooking a couple of dishes. If the oven is on you will be heating the whole space, take advantage by cooking two casserole's instead of one or bake while you roast. If you divide up the food and freeze any extras you will save yourself cooking time in the future - you might also save some additional money by being able to dip into the freezer for food instead of reaching for the takeaway menu.  The Slow Cook Book is the best I have found for simple casserole recipes for oven or slow cooker.

4.Turn the lights off
Turn the lights on only when you need them and turn them off when you leave the room. Simple but effective.

5. Switch your thermostat down one degree. 
This shouldn't be enough to feel a difference but will make a dent on your bills and CO2 emissions. 

6. Boil just enough water.
............or save any extra hot water in a flask and use throughout the day.

7. Turn off appliances and unplug chargers
According to Ofgem the average home spends £600 just powering appliances! Switch off appliances at the wall so they are not using power on standby. Unplug chargers, they draw energy even when not in use. Pull the plug out on hairdryers and straightening irons............I am very bad for forgetting to do this. To find out what your appliances use check out this article from Carbon Footprint Limited

8. Step away from the tumble dryer
Which data suggests that an A rated tumble dryer costs on average £43 a year to run with a C rated one costing over £100. This is based on around 148 uses a year. Line dry your clothes or use an airer and cut out this cost altogether. 

9. Wash on 30 degrees
According to the Energy Saving Trust  washing at 30 uses around 40% less energy than a higher setting - saving you around £13 a year. As a bonus the lower temperature is kinder to your clothes so they should last longer. 

10. Have quicker showers
Cutting your shower to four minutes could: -

  • give you an extra day and a half of free time every year
  • save more than 13,000 litres of water a year - the equivalent of 162 bath fulls
  • save energy and reduce CO2 emissions
 I hope this has been useful! Happy energy saving.  I'd love to hear your energy saving tips!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Buy no new clothes in 2014!

I can easily kid myself on that I don't buy or spend alot. But at the moment it's not really true. Working in an industrial estate used to be a great way to curb spending - the shops were miles away so temptation was completely out of reach.

Then came Internet shopping........................

My not very organised and not very minimal wardrobe. The left side is my husband's, I don't have a shirt fetish!

It's quick, it's convenient and the selection is huge. But the real draw back is that for me it doesn't really feel like spending money when you buy on the Internet. It is just too easy to type in your card details. There is no physical exchange of goods so it doesn't feel like buying - there is no memory attached to the experience. And probably most importantly the fact that you can buy with one click as soon as the thought comes into your head means that there is no time delay to ask yourself - do I really want or need this.

I already buy alot of my clothes in charity shops. This isn't a choice based on cost. For me it is more about trying to reduce waste and live sustainably. But thanks to a slight Internet shopping addiction more things have been creeping quietly into my wardrobe. More stuff means more time to look after stuff. Washing, folding and putting away. Wondering if there is enough cupboard space. Not putting things away and getting frustrated because the house is untidy. Sound familiar?

So my challenge for the rest of 2014 is not to buy any new clothes, shoes, bags, cosmetics or toiletries other than the essentials - toothpaste etc.

The rules: -

  • Buy no new clothing items  for myself, except underwear.
  • Gifts, hand me downs, swaps and charity shopping is allowed.
  • Tailoring, mending and cleaning existing clothes is allowed and in the spirit of the challenge.
  • No new makeup, skin care, shampoos etc. These are some of my worst impulse buys! Basics like toothpaste and suncream are allowed. 

    Want to join? I would love to hear from you if you are interested in joining the challenge or have done a similar challenge in the past. 

    If you are thinking about joining the challenge check out these resources for inspiration:


Friday, 11 April 2014

Shopping locally - is it more expensive?

I hate the thought of small independent shops going out of business because massive retailers have taken over. Community has a value and the local shop is often at the heart of that. It's heartbreaking to see so many empty shops in towns because of the fierce competition from out of town retail parks.  However, supermarkets have their appeal, parking is easy, the selection is huge and their price comparison promises should make them cheaper. Many people are put off their local shops for fear that they are more expensive but is this really true? Today's test was to try out the theory.

Image from CTMiller

I was really disappointed to find that yes my shopping at my local independent store was more expensive than it would have been at a large supermarket. But not by as much as you might imagine.

Over 21 items the difference was just £2.40. The difference is exaggerated because I bought steak as a special treat - a nice meal in instead of a night out with my husband.  The difference in cost was huge but I suspect there is a similar difference in quality and my steak is as local as it gets. The full comparison is set out below.

So are there any other factors which are worth considering when choosing whether to shop local?

I think there are a few - and it is difficult to put a price on them.
  1. The cost comparison doesn't take into account the huge marketing machine that swings into action when you go into a big supermarket. Unless you are very disciplined and shop with a list there is a big temptation to pick up additional items and these quickly mount up in cost. This could be a big advantage if you are shopping with children!
  2. Big stores are often further out of town. If you take the fuel cost per mile at the expenses rate of 60p then my local shop saved me £2.40 which strangely is the amount by which my shop would have been cheaper in the supermarket!
  3. It's a nicer experience. This is one that you just can't put a price on. My local shop is smaller and less rushed than a supermarket but still big enough to get a trolley around easily and it has a car park. It has a proper butcher counter with good quality local meat. It has cheaper cuts of meat that supermarkets don't sell and the fruit and veg looks like it came out of the ground and not a 3d printer.They also have a far better selection of real food like pulses than my supermarket.
  4. There is generally a better selection of items with less packaging.
  5. The food is locally grown and supports the local economy.
  6. On the down side there is less choice. In a supermarket it is very easy to shop to your budget by choosing premium or value ranges. My local store doesn't have the same breadth of price choice. My comparison is for broadly similar products but if I looked at the value range the shop would be considerably cheaper again.  
  7. Opening hours: the opening hours of smaller stores can be restrictive. Mine is open am to 7pm Monday to Saturday. The large supermarket is open 24 / 7.
I'd love to hear your thougths and experiences on shopping local.

Other resources on shopping local that you might find useful: