Welcome!

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

Like many personal blogs my ideas have changed and expanded over the years. While my love of thrift store rummaging has not changed (see here and here) I have also dabbled in zero waste (here), plastic free (here) and simple, slow living (reading list here). It is here on my blog that I write about the things I have discovered and ideas I have tried to follow to minimise my impact on the environment.

I also post a weekly list of all my Thrifty Finds. See here, or take a look at the menu button to the left. 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

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

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

 

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

This week’s Thrifty Finds (8-15 Jan)

 

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

This past week has been fairly quiet (well almost…)

  1. I cooked a big Sunday roast and made use of some of the stewed apples I had frozen from the Autumn.

Food for free - Second Hand Tales

2. I continued with my post-Christmas clear out and filled another bag for the school jumble sale.

3. My two younger girls share a bedroom which is never quite warm enough. I moved around some furniture which made the area by their radiator a lot clearer. This really improved the flow of warm air and their bedroom is far more comfortable. I was really pleased with this very simple act.

4. I received some  great suggestions about my incomplete jigsaw puzzle, both on the blog and my facebook page. I have decided to keep the pieces and make some children’s birthday cards with them.

5. Finally, on Saturday night we threw our annual 70s, 80s and 90s party. It’s a very cheap affair: we book the skittle alley at the local pub (£35) and make up a great playlist on Spotify. Everyone dresses up and dances until 2am (!). Last year I wore a great 70s flared jumpsuit here but this year I spent a total of £2 on a pair of charity shop stilettoes and borrowed some dungarees from a friend.

charity shop stilettoes

 

Did you have any Thrifty Finds for the past week?

You can also share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

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

Christmas Thrifty Finds

 

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

Apologies for not having listed my Thrifty Finds for a couple of weeks. Now that we are back to normal and the decorations taken down I thought I’d share our Thrifty Finds for Christmas – and would love to hear about your Festive Thrifty Finds too!

  1. We only bought a couple of second-hand presents for the girls this year. Our eldest is a big fan of ‘The Walking Dead’ and we found this first volume of the original graphic novel in the Oxfam store:

The Walking Dead (vol 1): secondhand copy via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

Our middle daughter is really into Harry Potter and we picked up this board game based on the first book, ‘Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone’. It’s a bit like Cluedo but you have to identify the student, room and the spell they cast.

second-hand Harry Potter boardgame via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

2. My husband bought me this second-hand copy of The Jam’s ‘Setting Sons’ album which I was very excited about!

The Jam vinyl

3. We also paid a trip to the gorgeous town of Marlborough before Christmas and enjoyed trawling the charity shops there (hint: if the town has a famous public school it’ll have some good quality items in the second-hand shops!). While I didn’t pick up – or need any – clothing we did get some second-hand puzzles and games:

charity shop puzzles and games via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

The Forbidden Island game was a great find. I have had that on my Amazon wishlist for a couple of years but, at £27, it was quite expensive. This second-hand game was only £5 from the PDSA shop and (minus one playing piece) is complete. We enjoyed playing it over the holidays:

second-hand Forbidden Island game

The Horrible Histories puzzle, however, was a bit of a disappointment. There were a couple of pieces missing (to be expected for 99p) but some of the other pieces didn’t fit correctly. I wondered if it was a manufacturer’s mistake. Now I’m not sure what to do with it as I can’t really pass it on to another charity shop to sell. Any suggestions please?

Horrible Histories jigsaw puzzle

4. While I wrote in the last of my Saving for Christmas series here about our food and drink expenses over the holidays I have been really pleased that we created very little food waste. I have made soups, bought wisely and made great use of our freezer so I’m hoping we can get through the rest of the month without buying too much extra food.

5. Finally, the decorations are stored away, the cards have been turned into next Christmas’s gift labels and the thank you cards are (almost) written. Today I started to blitz the girls’ bedrooms and de-clutter and I now have a big bag of old clothing, unused Christmas gifts and old books and toys to donate to the school jumble sale in March.

So, how was your Christmas? What were your Thrifty Finds and have you tidied the house yet?!!

You can also share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Saving for Christmas - the results

Saving for Christmas…what happened?

Saving for Christmas - the results

Happy New Year! May 2017 bring you happiness, peace and lots of joy!

We had a lovely festive break and, now that January has arrived (I’m trying to stay positive about this!) I have been looking back at our spending to see how we did in our ‘Saving for Christmas’ series.

Sources of Funding:

In my first post here I listed different sources of money from which to fund our Christmas:

  • Dedicated Savings Fund £180. Actual: £178 I came in slightly under budget on this one. This was where most of the money for buying presents came from.
  • Nectar points. £10. I did have £10 in Nectar points but made use of the Sainsbury’s ‘Double Up’ promotion in November and spent £20 on wine.
  • Boots Advantage Points. £15. This was about right but with the use of ‘3 for 2’ gifts I actually picked up £25 worth of gifts this way. These were spent on stocking presents.
  • Quidco rewards.   £96.40 £73.82. Actual £66.82 (I didn’t realise that when I rented a couple of Love Film/Amazon films the payment defaulted to my giftcard balance so took £7 away from my Christmas budget). Although this wasn’t as much as I had planned for – and I did have issues about using Amazon- it really saved money taking my Qudico rewards this way.
  • Loose change. £3ish. Actual: £2.35. This was spent on whipped cream and marshmallows for homemade hot chocolates.
  • Usual food & drink budget. £150. Actual: £168.73. This was for two supermarket shops and my veg box and lasted until 28 December (when my regular monthly shopping took over). It really helped to meal plan and that we were eating Christmas lunch at my parents. So far we have eaten everything we bought, although I don’t think I would buy a salad box again.
  • Facebook Sales. £50. Actual: £35. Boy, this was hard work! Lots of postings, re-postings and non-collections. As always I find these online sales a lot of effort. Still it managed to clear a few things we no longer needed and anything unsold was donated.
  • Other sources: My husband and I hadn’t really spoken about present giving and, as I hadn’t budgeted for this, it was a stupid thing to do as he bought me a couple of gifts at the beginning of the month (including a second-hand The Jam album which I am v excited about!). Thankfully I had been given an Amazon gift voucher for my birthday so I used some of this to get him some books. Other sources for unexpected gifts came from my existing present drawer and we made quite a few biscuits and mince pies.

With regards to present giving I didn’t do so well with friends and relatives and ended up giving out gifts when I should have said no. Conversely, I also wish I had spent more money on my nephews and nieces. My children had a small budget of £40 each but didn’t seem to notice that we gave them fewer presents (incl some second-hand) than their grandparents gave them.

Talking of presents, we did persuade my in-laws to buy the girls an amazing experience as their Christmas present which was a ticket to the Harry Potter Studios (one of the best family days out we have had!!). They also bought (quite a) few other presents so it would be good to see this pile reduce and focus on the experience giving in the future.

Harry Potter Studios Tour: The Great Hall

Christmas ‘Bucket List’:

In my third post in this series here I wrote about what we were -and were not- going to do as a family this holiday. Our restricted budget meant we weren’t going to see a film/show, or go ice skating.We didn’t really miss these excursions, though.

Those activities that we did take part in were split into a) paid for and b) free:

Meals out with friends & family: We met up with friends for a grown up curry night as we do every year. For 2017 I will factor this cost into our Christmas savings, which I have failed to do so far. Similarly my husband and I had a day trip to London (while the children were with grandparents) and we could have saved better for this too. However I had budgeted for a pub lunch and meet up with the in-laws and we had enough money left to have tea and cake afterwards with my mother-in-law.

Works’ dos: Neither of us went to our works’ dos (due to illness, lack of planning) so this did save some money. We also received a couple of invitations to friends’ houses over the festive period and I made sure we had some bottles of wine in stock to take along (as well as some small candles I had upcycled)

With regards to free activities we took part in the following:

 

Boxing Day night Sleepover in the lounge (for the kids!)

Baking

Homemade mince pies

Lots of Hot Chocolate (decorated with marshmallows and whipped cream bought with my loose change, as above)

Putting the decorations up

Family Games We picked up a couple of new (to us) board games and a puzzle which we played over the holidays, accompanied with homemade popcorn and toffee sauce. Still didn’t manage to play Risk, though (!)

Church Crib Service

Christmas Day visit to the pub

We also enjoyed a fantastic New Year’s Eve party at friends’ and were fortunate enough to be invited to a birthday party in Bath last night too!

Now that the festive season is drawing to a close I can look back and realise that: there are some things I didn’t need to buy;some things I want to buy for next time; and where I need to save more.

I am pleased that I stuck to my present-buying budget but want to work harder at cutting some presents, and spending more on a few other people. I also know there are a couple of food and drink items I can cut for Christmas 2017. But one of the biggest spends I hadn’t accounted for was meeting up with friends and families in restaurants.  For 2017 I need to set a realistic target for this one so that we don’t go into debt.

As with every Christmas, though, it’s the actual spending time with family and friends that really counts. Whether this has to be budgeted for (if you meet with relatives who live a long way away)- or is free – it is these moments that make the festive season a memorable one.

FamilyTraditions: Christmas decorations via secondhandtales.wordpress.com

How was your Christmas break?

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016: My Best Second-Hand Picks

As the year draws to a close I thought I would look back at this year’s posts and examine my favourite second-hand clothing purchases. Once again, I have enjoyed browsing the charity shops and hunting out bargains. I have tried very hard to stick to my budget, and to purchase what I really need, rather than what I would like to buy

Denim Dress

One of my favourite purchases of the year! During the summerI had been looking for a denim dress for a few months and had my eye on a £45 one from Fat Face (hoping to pick it up in the sales). By sheer chance I came across this Dorothy Perkins dress from the British Heart Foundation shop in Bath for a bargain £5!! It fits beautifully and is very versatile: I can wear it sleeveless and with/without leggings in the summer, and layered up with jumpers and woolly tights in the winter.

£5 denim dress

Burgundy wide-legged trousers

I purchased these beautiful Kaliko trousers (not pictured) at the beginning of the year from another British Heart Foundation Shop (in Devizes). Unfortunately I can’t remember how much I paid for them but it was probably £5-£7.They are lined and so perfect for wearing in the cooler months. I love the 1940s silhouette they create. They are also smart enough to pass as work trousers.

Orange jumper

I bought this Top Shop jumper from the new look Save the Children shop in Bath in the Autumn for £4  I love the shape of the sleeves (although not very practical when washing up!) and the colour – which seems to fit in with most of my wardrobe

 

orange jumper

Orange scarf

I volunteered at the school jumble sale in March and bagged this orange scarf for a few pence. Orange is one of my favourite colours and I love the contrast this scarf can give to some of my clothing (cobalt blue jumper; black dress; burgundy jumper) or how it can complement other items such as my orange winter coat.

Jumble Sale Haul

Sparkly gold jumper

I’m currently working on a post about adding a sparkly touch to the festive season and this £4 jumper is a key piece. I bought it from the gorgeous Save the Children shop (Bath) at the beginning of the month and have enjoyed dressing it up and down over the Christmas holidays.

Secondhand sparkle: charity shop jumper

Upcycled Denim Skirt

This is something I am particularly proud of! Back in June I finally tackled turning my old denim jeans into a skirt, with the use of fabric from an old much-loved skirt. For instructions see the post here. I was really pleased with this project and, having bought some denim needles for the sewing machine and some matching thread, I set about mending some more jeans and upcycling my daughter’s torn trousers.

 

denim skirt made from jeans

 

And a bonus outfit …the black 70s jumpsuit!

Sad to say I have only worn this gorgeous flared jumpsuit once – at a 70s party back in January. I bought it from the vintage Dorothy House shop in Bath for just £12. It fits perfectly and I loved wearing it to the party. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been another occasion to wear this jumpsuit. But tonight is New Year’s Eve and I have a party to go to, so you never know……

1970s inspired flared jumpsuit

I hope you have a wonderful New Year’s Eve, whatever you decide to do and wish you all the best for a peaceful, green and second-hand (?) New Year xxx

 

 

A Simple Christmas series on facebook by secondhand tales

A Simple Christmas – hope you have one too!

A Simple Christmas

Today is my last post in A Simple Christmas series that I’ve been running on my Facebook page here. I finished with a blog post from Ginny Sheller, a homeschooling mother of a large brood of children. She writes about her Catholic faith, but in a non intrusive way. I loved the post she wrote about not getting everything done in the run up for Christmas but that it doesn’t really matter. In her faith, Christmas is not the end of the festive season: it runs until Epiphany on 6 January. So there’s plenty more time to celebrate, spend time with the family and relax…. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful New Year xxx

For a snapshot of the articles I have linked to in this series visit my Pinterest board here.

pinterest-board: A Simple Christmas

Second-hand Hygge.

Second hand Hygge via ssecondhandtales.wordpress.com

Have you come across ‘Hygge’ this winter? It’s the latest concept to come out of Denmark and, loosely translated, means a sense of feeling cosy at the darkest time of the year. As today is the shortest day of the year I thought I would share the post I wrote for Barnardo’s The Thrift website on how to do Hygge on a budget. You can read about it here: https://the-thrift.co.uk/2016/11/29/hygge-the-thrifty-way/

 

 

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

This week’s Thrifty Finds

 

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

This week has been the Christmas shopping and preparation week. I’m really hoping that, apart from an optician’s appointment and a few social engagements, we can slow down and spend time together as a family. In the meantime last week’s Thrifty Finds were:

  1. The London trip I wrote about last week ended up with our train being delayed for over an hour! I put in a claim to get our tickets refunded.
  2. I sold a couple of small items on Facebook to add to my Christmas gifts fund. I also gave away a dozen Christmas gift bags of all shapes and sizes. We had accumulated a load from all the trips to relatives this season so I emptied the presents from them and put them on the free/sell/swap Facebook page so that they can get a second use this month. I also sneaked out some some packs of sweets the girls had been given and donated to the food bank.
  3. I finished using up my Quidco/Amazon gift vouchers. In total I saved £60 on Christmas presents this way.
  4. The girls gave out teacher’s Christmas gifts. They had made gingerbread and Christmas spice biscuits.

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