Welcome!

Welcome to my second-hand tales blog where I attempt to chronicle my adventures in second-hand shopping, and other greenish ventures.

I also post a weekly list of all my Thrifty Finds (see here) ,  The idea is not to just share any secondhand purchases I may have made, but also list those things I have repaired, recycled, donated, re-used – or just decided not to buy. I would love to hear from you as well so please share your Thrifty Finds every Monday

I hope you enjoy reading my random(ish) posts: please leave a comment on any post that interests you – or you could  follow me on facebook , twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

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Thrifty Finds

This fortnight’s Thrifty Finds (27 November – 11 December 2017)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Well the past couple of weeks have been really busy. My dad had a (planned for) hospital operation and it was my birthday last week so it’s been quite hectic and our routine was a little up in the air with hospital visits, childcare etc.

But I’m pleased to say I received a couple of second-hand gems for my birthday:

  1. My gorgeous husband tracked down an original vinyl version of the Fleetwood Mac album, Rumours. This is one of my all-time favourite albums and one I have wanted for absolutely ages. I was amazed he found it for a fraction of the new retail price and in great condition.

2. I also received a pile of books, one of which was a rare second hand edition of ‘Greenery Street’ by Dennis Mackail.

3. Following my birthday we brought down from the loft all of our Christmas decorations (minus the tree). A lot of our decorations are second-hand and this post here explains a little more about them.

4. We have received a few party invitations this December and I have tried really hard not to buy anything new. However having gone up a dress size 😦 means I’m going to have to invest in something new, or try to be more inventive. We went to a ceilidh last Saturday and I ended up wearing my comfy jeans but did invest in a new (to me) charity shop top from Dorothy House. At £7 it was slightly pricey but I know I will get a lot of wear out of it. The green colour is perfect for Christmas and the sheer sleeves makes it feel quite dressy. I also wore it with an old brooch of my nan’s that I have recently found.

5. I had another pre-Christmas clear out and donated some children’s clothing and old dvds to the Shaw Trust charity shop. In return for gift aiding, they gave me a loyalty card and a discount voucher – something I’ve not come across before!

 

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Advent: a calm space admist the seasonal madness

 

 

Today (3 December) marks the first Sunday in Advent, according to the Christian calendar.

And, apparently, it is not about chocolate advent calendars and frenetic Christmas shopping.

Although I dip in and out of attending our local Church of England church (mostly dipping out) I thought I knew a little about the seasons and festivals throughout the year.

However I have to say I was pretty ignorant about what advent actually meant.

According to tradition, Advent is the time for preparing and awaiting and, in the past, was also treated as a period of abstinence and fasting (similar to Lent) – a far cry from today!

In our church the building will be simply decorated with greenery instead of flowers- although there will be a tree.

Strict observers of Advent don’t take part in traditional Christmas activities  – which includes Christmas parties, putting up decorations or listening to Christmas music – until Christmas Eve. But, for them, the seasonal celebration continues until 6 January, with plenty of time to puruse these ‘Christmas Bucket List’ activities during this period.

I’m not sure I could adhere to this as I am a sucker for the Christmas feeling you get when wrapping presents while listening to Christmas music, or putting up the tree.

 

So I could never observe Advent this strictly. But, saying that, there are things I like about it. And I don’t believe you have to be a church goer – or Christian – to appreciate the idea of quietness during this time of year. I like the fact that Advent is not about:

  • doing everything on that Christmas Bucket List, which you pinned to your Pinterest board.
  • running around to every Christmas lights switch on and Christmas-themed event at your local stately home or country park.
  • spending a small fortune on the above events.
  • not having a moment to yourself because you’ve scheduled every day to the minute and forgotten to give you and the family some time off from Christmas.
  • following stupid – and expensive – ‘traditions’ which, it turns out, were only invented a few years ago (‘Elf on the Shelf’ and ‘Christmas Eve pyjamas’ being two of my bug bears)

I like the idea of being lazy during the run up for Christmas and saying ‘no’ to things as well. I like the idea of having some headspace and being quiet and still admist the busyness and over-consumption of this season.

Last year I ran a series on my facebook page here. called A Simple Christmas. I wanted to create a little ‘time out’ where I posted a link to an inspirational website, thoughtful blog post, or my own ramblings, to share another view of the festive season. Posts included the thoughts of minimalist bloggers and writers, websites on mindfulness and, in the final week before Christmas I shared the posts of a couple of family bloggers whose catholic faith inspired how they viewed the season.

 

If you are on Pinterest you can also take a look at my A Simple Christmas board here.

 

However you decide to spend Advent I hope you find some time to yourself and get to enjoy the quiet….

 

 

 

Advent Calendars: love ’em or hate ’em?

 
Every year my children receive chocolate advent calendars from their generous grandparents. However this year I was able to buy paper calendars for the girls from Oxfam – which received a mixed response 😦
I personally believe that traditional paper calendars are better than chocolate ones – but am I being mean, and a little old fashioned?
These are my thoughts on why they are better:
1. A paper advent calendar gets better day by day: each door reveals a new picture and by the end of advent you have a joyous Christmas scene.
2. However by 24 December chocolate calendars are a mess of torn cardboard, ripped foil and plastic packaging: hardly festive!
3. Why do multi national confectionary companies (such as Kraft) get to tell us how to celebrate advent? And don’t get me started on the £95 L’Oréal advent calendar, or the heavily criticised £50 one created by Zoella.
4. At the end of the day, traditional calendars can be recycled. However the mess that is left behind by the chocolate ones makes them difficult to recycle, only adding to the 736,571 tonnes of rubbish that is created each Christmas.
5. There is enough over consumption and debt generated at this time of year anyway. Why not buy a simple charity calendar and enjoy the mindful task of opening a door each day to reveal a picture, rather than wolfing down chocolate (which doesn’t even taste that great!)
What are your thoughts on advent calendars?
Paper or chocolate?
Or do you own a perpetual calendar: one that can be used again and again? Some families also take part in ‘reverse advent calendars’: donating an item a day to a local foodbank.
I really enjoy reading the ideas and projects from New Dream, a not for profit organisation which is working to challenge American perceptions of consumption and consumerism. They produce an online advent calendar here, filled with ways you can step off the consumption conveyor belt at this time of year.
I really recommend reading their website and looking at some of the ideas they have to ‘Simplify the Holidays’.

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (19 – 26 November 2017)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

 

 

How was last week? Did you pick up any bargains on Black Friday – or did you shy away from the stores?

Here in Bath the Christmas Market has begun. As a Bathonian I feel I have to love it and hate it. Working in the local tourist industry I realise how important it is to that sector. It does also make Bath look even more beautiful and it’s hard not to feel Christmasey when I look out at all the chalets. But the streets are crowded (I can’t get out of the office at lunchtime), the traffic is bad (I have resigned myself to being late home because the bus is stuck in traffic) and I wonder how much debt people accrue by buying things from the market that they don’t really need.

Having said that, I have made it my mission to explore those lesser known stalls; the ones tucked at the back of a street or located across the road that not many people visit.

  1. So last week I bought two small decorations:

The Nativity scene came from a cooperative based in Bethlehem and the Father Christmas ornament was from a stall run by nuns from a convent in Belarus. I also plan to visit the charity stall in the Christmas Market, and pay a visit to a homemade candle stall run by a friend from our village.

2. Speaking of candles, I spent some time melting and re-moulding some old candles at home. You can see a tutorial here.

3. I picked up a couple of our favourite Denby side plates for half price. We received the Denby set for our wedding 18 years ago and use it on a daily basis. A while ago we lost a few plates, due to general wear and tear. They are expensive to replace, though, so I wait for them to go on sale and buy a couple at a time.

4. At the weekend my husband and I went to Wales to celebrate a friend’s birthday. It wasn’t the most thrifty weekend but it was wonderful to spend some time together, and enjoy the company of good friends. We were supposed to bring a hat to wear to the meal on Saturday night. Having scoured the charity shops I decided to make do with an old  hat I had at home, rather than buy anything new.

5. We were also very lucky as the hotel upgraded our room at no extra charge.

 

 

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Today is Buy Nothing Day

You could be forgiven for thinking that today is all about Black Friday: the shopping phenomenon that seems to mark the beginning of the Christmas season.

Here in Bath our annual Christmas Market has started, with an ever increasing number of stalls and crowds, making the city centre almost impossible to navigate.

But did you know that today is also Buy Nothing Day: an alternative to the frenzied festival of over consumption. Organisers of Buy Nothing Day suggest you stay at home or meet with friends and family – do something free and step off the consumption treadmill for just one day.

Alternatively I like this idea here from Barnardo’s The Thrift blog, suggested by the blogger love a good stripe: The Black Friday Black Bag, Why not sort through your clothes, books etc and donate a bag to your local charity shop today?

 

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (13-19 November 2017)

 

This Week's Thrifty Finds via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

 

 

Hello, and welcome to another week of my Thrifty Finds.

This past week my Thrifty Finds included:

  1. I received a Tesco voucher in the post. I rarely shop at Tescos so it wasn’t worth much. However I was able to get money off a small shop so it didn’t go to waste.
  2. I’m starting to – very slowly – sort through the children’s toys, books and dvds before Christmas. I managed to exchange a couple of dvds they no longer wanted at the Games Exchange shop. They were only worth 61p (!) but we currently have £12+ worth of vouchers to be spent there: we might pick up a couple of new films for Christmas.
  3. Speaking of Christmas, I bought these three books from the Oxfam Bookshop in Bath. They had three for the price of two, so they cost me £2.99 in total:

 

4. Having bought a lot of second-hand books over the past few months (see my recent post here) I decided to sort through my existing books. I have been trying very hard to re-read those books that have been sitting on my shelves. That way, I feel happier about getting rid of them if I know I’m not going to read them for the third time. I managed to sort through and get rid of about a dozen books.

5. Last Thursday evening I had to work late at a function. My colleague and I popped out for tea before the event, using some money off vouchers I’d received for McDonalds.

 

 

I’d love to hear about your Thrifty Finds too! Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

charity shops secondhand books

Second-hand books: Autumn Roundup

charity shops secondhand books

Wow! It wasn’t until I piled up all the recently bought second-hand books  that I realised how many I had! I realise it’s been a while since I did a second-hand book haul post but I think I’m in need of one 🙂

In September I bought this from the Oxfam bookshop in Bath for £2.49:

It’s a wonderful collection of women’s writing from World War Two: letters, diaries, essays. It follows the course of the war from the outbreak, the Blitz and through to the end of conflict. The women whose works are featured range from established authors and war journalists to those ‘ordinary’ women who volunteered in both homefront and military services, or whose sons and husbands were away fighting. (By the way I don’t think there was anything ‘ordinary’ about the women who endured air raids, bombings and the exhausting work of caring for others on the homefront). While based mostly on the experiences of women living in Britain it does also feature overseas perspectives, such as the evacuation of France and the liberation of concentration camps. I am slowly reading through this book still as it’s ideal for dipping in and out of.

In October I picked up these two:

I really enjoyed re-reading The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (which I don’t think I’d read since I was 13 in the mid eighties). To be re-united with characters like Burt and Queenie, Pandora and Sabre the dog was so enjoyable!

As well as the Judy Moody book (above) bought for my youngest daughter, I also bought this pile of children’s books from Oxfam:

We haven’t read any of them yet, but I’m looking forward to introducing Party Shoes to the girls and reading – for the first time – The Woolpack.

In November I went slightly overboard and bought this collection from the village’s Saturday Market:

If you’ve never read the FE Benson Mapp and Lucia books I heartily recommend them. Written in the 1920s they feature two hilarious characters: Lucia and Miss Mapp. Both are snobs and schemers. While they don’t cross over in every book, theyindividually plot to become top dog in their respective communities. When they do meet in the later books (Mapp and Lucia, Lucia’s Progress, Trouble for Lucia) there are hilarious consequences, with both of them getting their just desserts. The latter three books were dramatised by the BBC a couple of years ago:

 

My final book haul for this season took place earlier this week when I bought these three Christmas books for £3 from the Oxfam Bookshop:

We have a small collection of Christmas books which I get out every year and put in a dedicated book basket. I think this year I will have to go through it and sort through any books that are too young for the girls. I thought I would give The Snow Sister book to my youngest as an extra Christmas present (yes I do buy some of my Christmas presents second-hand!)

Now that I have piled up all my recent book finds I know that I must sort through our existing bookshelves to make way for them!