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 week’s Thrifty Finds (8-14 October) – and a first year anniversary!

 

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Last week marked one year of Thrifty Finds! I’m not sure where the time has gone but am so pleased that, despite a new job and less time, this series has kept me blogging.

I have plans for further series and have been drafting lots more posts, but thank you for sticking with the blog while I adjusted to a new schedule.

If you follow me on instagram you’ll see that is where I tend to post most often.

But I like the feeling of community that blogging offers and especially welcome comments and thoughts from readers. (or ideas for any posts??)

And, please share your Thrifty Finds too!

This past week I ended up making quite a few charity shop purchases (which wasn’t the intention!)

  1. I finally bought a new handbag! This is a big achievement for me as my current one had been broken for about three months 😦 But I’m really fussy about bags: it’s got to be the right size, have the right handle and not be too boring (!). I had almost resigned myself to buying something firsthand (at about £40 – ouch!) then came across this one for just £4 in the Dorothy House shop in Malmesbury at the weekend.                         I also snapped up the £2 purse which had such a fun pattern (now I shall smile every time I open it up).  
  2. And I made use of the old bag by cutting out the internal purse. I now use this to store a fabric shopping bag and keep in my handbag at all times.

3. I also bought a few children’s books from the Oxfam shop in Malmesbury:

l-r: The Woolpack by Cynthia Harnett; Party Shoes by Noel Streatfeild; Children in History: The Nineteenth Century (pub 1961).

The latter I bought out of interest as I imagine it is really quite dated. I’ve started to have a ‘read aloud’ book with my younger girls as a way of spending time together, sharing stories and taking turns in reading. At the moment we are reading A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley, who is one of my favourite children’s authors.    When I was younger I loved the Ballet Shoes series by Noel Streatfield, but have never read The Woolpack. I’m hoping one of these will be our next read-aloud book.

4. Carrying on with the reading theme, I was luck enough to receive the latest Barnardos Retail leaflet in the post. I love how they use actual donated clothes to show how these can be styled as up to the minute outfits. I’d recommend picking up a copy  next time you pop into Barnardos.

And, although not free, I did treat myself to ordering the first edition of this beautiful magazine, Creative Countryside. Filled with gorgeous images, inspirational writing and seasonally themed, this is something I am taking time to savour and read, bit by bit. The article on ‘Bookish Hygge’ really resonated with me and made me wonder if all the book buying I have been doing recently is in preparation for the darker nights ahead…

5. On Saturday we spent the day at a Sustainability fair in Malmesbury, Wiltshire (hence the charity shop purchases!). It was a really interesting day with lots of speakers, including Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato. The brilliant Wiltshire Scrapstore was also on hand providing free kids’ activities. My younger two got involved with making masks:

 

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

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds

 

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How was your past week? Did you have any Thrifty Finds? We went to visit friends and family for the weekend. It wasn’t very thrifty as we stayed in a hotel (although this was paid from savings we made on holiday – we didn’t spend as many euros as we thought) – but it was a lovely weekend away and so nice to catch up with people.

  1. While we were visiting, though, we did discover Fun Palaces. This is a nationwide event that encourages people to take part in free, local arts and science events. Our friends took us along to their local arts centre where there was lots on for the children. My younger two sewed some lavender bags and had a go at hand sewing and knitting. And all for free!

2. Last week I took advantage of some of the sunny weather and did loads of washing and drying outside. I try really hard not to use the tumble dryer so when the sun is shining I get the washing machine working overtime so I can line dry everything! Now that my husband has remodelled the garden the deck is a really sunny spot, which isn’t bad for a north facing garden that doesn’t get much sunshine.

3. I had a big clear out of the girls’ bedrooms (something I do every term) and was able to donate a bag of clothes and toys 🙂

4. Not quite a Thrifty Find  but something I’m proud of – my mum has started ordering her milk in glass bottles! As we live next door to each other we now have a combined doorstep delivery from the milkman. Less plastic bottles!!

5. Finally, we decided to buy a family Three Year Season Ticket to the Roman Baths, Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery. Although I work for these museums we don’t get free entry as a family (we live outside Bath & North East Somerset – residents do get free admission as these attractions are owned by the council). But at £65 I think a three year ticket is great value. Considering it costs £55 to visit the Roman Baths for a single family ticket our pass is a really good price.  Out first stop was a trip to the Fashion Museum (my favourite place). Sometimes I still have to pinch myself that I’m working there!

Upcycled vintage lace dress on display at Lace in Fashion, Fashion Museum Bath

Don’t forget you can also share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (18-30 September) – and the end of the Repair Cafe :(

 

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I’m not quite sure how it happened but I didn’t post for last week (oops!). Sometimes things get very busy and, if I’m not sticking to my regular schedule, some things just fall off the list..

So I’m going to try to remember my Thrifty Finds for the last two weeks and post them now. (If you follow me regularly on Instagram you may spot when I add #thriftyfinds, which is more of a daily record of my frugal achievements, purchases and non-purchases)

  1. My daughter had torn her school skirt quite badly. Although I bought her a replacement skirt from M&S she was quite happy with the hand-me-down pinafore dress that was already hanging in her wardrobe. So I returned the M&S skirt and saved £12!
  2. I had a bit of a sort out and donated a couple of bags to charity shops.
  3. I finally got my baking mojo back and baked some cakes last week. One batch of fairy cakes has been frozen to use for lunch boxes later in the month.
  4. I also got organised and cooked two separate casseroles, which I then froze. On Wednesday and Thursday the kids eat at my parents so it’s only my husband and I who have to cook a meal when we come home from work. However the last few weeks we’ve just been eating convenience freezer meals and I am fed up with over baked chips! So last weekend I spent an hour making a beef stew (in the oven) and a chicken casserole (in the slow cooker). These have now been frozen and we’ll use them for instant meals after a long day’s work 🙂
  5. On Saturday we held the last ever Corsham Repair Cafe 😦 We have been running the cafe for the past four years (see here) and I am very proud of the work that we have done: nearly 200 customers have been helped; roughly 150 repairs have been made; and we’ve shown the local community that items can be repaired, rather than just thrown away.                     But, over the past year, volunteers and customer numbers have dwindled and, now that I don’t work in Corsham, it’s harder to find the time to organise and promote. So we took the sad decision to close the cafe.       However I’m delighted that, since Corsham opened its Repair Cafe in 2013, we now have regular Repair Cafes running in Bristol, Bath and Bradford on Avon. Corsham also has an active Men’s Shed who are able to take repairs on too.

I do feel slightly relieved (although also sad) that we’ve taken this decision. I really enjoyed catching up with the volunteers who gave their time, effort and skills to help mend broken items. But I am also looking forward to having more free time – maybe to pursue a new green hobby?!

 

 

Don’t forget to share your Thrifty Finds too! I do love to read them.

charity shop clothes shopping haul second hand

Charity Shop Haul: September 2017

charity shop clothes shopping haul second hand

Welcome to my new, occasional, series on Charity Shop Hauls. Having teenage – and preteen – daughters I am all too familiar with the Youtube shopping hauls, where vloggers talk about their trips to Primark et al.

Although I don’t intend to vlog my finds I thought an occasional blog post may show that it is possible to make some great second hand purchases too, and we don’t have to rely on Fast Fashion to provide us with low cost outfits.

I decided that I needed a few more outfits for work, especially as the weather has got a lot colder and warmer. Last Friday I headed into Bath with a shopping list:

  • Boots/laceups/shoes for work
  • Work trousers
  • Jeans
  • Warm tops/thin jumpers
  • White shirt
  • Tights (first hand)

It can be tricky sticking to such lists when browsing charity shops. It will depend on what styles, sizes and colours have been donated to the particular stores. When shopping I also have to allow for that ‘WOW!’ moment when something stands out and I just have to buy it (see here for the ‘orange coat moment’ or here for a more recent Henry Holland dress)

So when I came across this Marks and Spencer Collection skirt I had to have it!

M&S S/S17 second hand charity shop haul Dorothy House

I am pretty certain these skirts were on sale in M&S earlier this summer. At the time I was tempted to buy one, although I never normally wear long skirts. However seeing this in the Dorothy House vintage store on sale for just £6.50 I just knew I had to add this to my wardrobe!

In fact Dorothy House came up trumps as I was able to create an entire outfit for just £20!

I picked up this Sainsburys Tu top (which is definitely from this summer’s collection) for £5.

Sainsburys Tu S/S17 blue and red knitwear charity shop haul Dorothy House

Interestingly, this was a size 18 (I’m normally a size 12) but it’s often worth looking at larger sizes when charity shopping as they can shrink slightly. I also preferred the baggier fit as I plan to put another jumper underneath when it gets colder.

To finish the outfit I made my first ever purchase of second hand shoes. This is something I don’t normally consider but these £8.50 shoes from Next were a perfect colour to match the top and skirt and I just sort of fell for them….

Next blue patent office shoes charity shop haul

Feeling very pleased with myself, I browsed a few more shops and finally picked up some tops from Oxfam on Argyle Street.

These two jumpers will be perfect for layering this winter. They came to £10.99 in total:

I also bought this gorgeous boatneck top for £6.99. I really like the 1950s style of it.

I’d not come across the Betty Barclay label before but a quick google search shows their tops sell first hand for about £50-£60!

In total I spent £37.98 on four tops, one skirt and one pair of shoes. The majority of the clothes were from good quality labels and I was particularly pleased to pick up two items that were from this year. It did make me wonder, though, why the owners had donated them so quickly. But then one person’s cast off is another woman’s treasure….

What are your thoughts on charity shopping? Do you buy most of your clothes second-hand, or would you never consider wearing charity shop outfits for work? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, or even persuade you that there is nothing wrong with second hand shopping 🙂

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (11-17 September)

Thrifty Finds

How has your week been? These are my Thrifty Finds for the past seven days:

  1. I went shopping for work clothes. As usual, I ignored all the High Street stores and, instead, browsed the charity shops. I ended up with a very successful trip: one skirt, four tops and a pair of shoes for £38! (post to follow soon)

2. I also picked up a really interesting book on women in World War Two from the Oxfam Bookshop:

3. I also donated a small bag of childrenswear to the British Heart Foundation shop.

4. Having visited the D-Day beaches on our holiday my husband and I were really keen to re-watch the TV series, ‘Band of Brothers’. My brother lent us his box set so we are now working our way through it. It’s amazing how many people are in the series, with really small roles being played by actors who are now big leads themselves (Tom Hardy, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Simon Pegg).

5. I’m putting the finishing touches to our next Repair Cafe which happens at the end of the month. I must remember to hunt out a couple of items at home which are broken so that I can bring them along to be fixed too!

What were your Thrifty Finds? Please  share your Thrifty Finds on my facebook page, or use #thriftyfinds on Twitter or instagram

This week’s Thrifty Finds (4-10 September)

 

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I can’t believe it’s been nearly a month since I last posted! I hope you had a good summer and, if you went away, you had an enjoyable break.

We had a lovely holiday and if you follow my instagram posts you may have picked up a snapshot of what we did. While away, I used my net shopping bags for fruit and veg and we religiously used the free drinking water on the campsite (why do people have to buy SO many large bottles of water when they’re abroad? It’s only France for goodness sake and none of us got ill from drinking from the campsite’s water taps!)

Anyway, now we’re back and the kids have returned to school I can slowly get back to normal and post our Thrifty Finds from the past week. Please let me know what your Thrifty Finds were – or any you made over the summer holidays. I’d love to hear!

1. The Veg Box came when I wasn’t expecting it! So I had a glut of veg and fruit that I have been trying to use up. Last Sunday I spent the morning making soups and a plum flapjack cake.

2. It’s the start of the ‘free apple’ season in the village. A neighbour left this lovely sign outside her house and I helped myself to a few of the apples to make a fruit crumble. This also allowed me to use up some frozen stewed apples, rhubarb from the veg box and even some blackberries I had picked and put in the freezer last year!

3. Like many of us, Back to School means a lot of expense buying uniforms, supplies and shoes. This September I have staggered the purchase of shoes to fit in with the monthly wages. So, my youngest daughter got new shoes in June as her feet had grown quite substantially; we bought shoes for my middle daughter at the end of July as soon as schools broke up; and my 15 year old picked up some (cheap but fashionable) school shoes at the beginning of this month. If I had paid for all three girls to buy school shoes from Clarks at the same time it would have cost  £120! My eldest has really outgrown their styles anyway and, as she will be finishing after GCSE exams, I don’t mind if she has a less hard wearing pair of shoes.

4. I read on another blog about being able to get a free audio book download from Audible. So, before we went on holiday, I signed for a free trial and picked up ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ (narrated by David Tennant) for free! This weekend I cancelled the subscription so that I won’t be paying for it once the trial finishes.

5. I also cancelled a magazine subscription that the girls weren’t reading. I felt quite sad as it was a science magazine aimed at kids, but they just weren’t interested 😦

And finally … my September task is to look at our existing budgets and adapt them for the new school year. The girls seem to be doing less paid for activities but I also want to plan for the next 12 months. Once my eldest leaves secondary school we will need to pay for her transportation costs to college. My middle daughter will be starting secondary school so we need to look at uniform and travel costs for her. There are also school residential trips, extra GCSE tutoring, end of school Prom etc to pay for. And who said state education was free?!

If you have school age children how do you pay for uniform, supplies and activities?

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

Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (31 July – 7 August)

 

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Hello! While I try to post my Thrifty Finds on a Monday when the kids are on holiday I find time runs away with me. We’re also off on hols next week so there is lots of packing and shopping to do too. I did manage to stick to some budgets, last week, though, as preparing for a holiday can prove pricey…

1. I went through the holiday packing list with the kids and worked out what they needed. We then stuck to the list when we went shopping to Bath. Sadly none of it was second hand (as my kids get older I find it harder to buy second hand clothing for them; on the plus side they get a lot of hand me downs). I also picked up a  couple of items from my list which weren’t purchased second hand 🙁. For the first time ever I bought myself a couple of things from Primark. But I stuck rigidly to my list:

 

2. Having done a lot of holiday planning by buying insurance, travel money, breakdown cover etc has earned me £76.38  from the Quidco cash back site that I signed up to last year. I was going to buy all these items anyway, but purchasing via the Quidco website meant I earned money back as well 😀

3. Apart from holiday prep, we had two birthdays last week. I made two out of three of the birthday cakes (due to lack of time I did buy a supermarket cake for my daughter’s party for the first time ever!) I had budgeted for both birthdays and had enough money to buy gifts and pay for a small scale party.

4. I also sold my daughter’s old bike which helped to pay for the new one for her birthday.

5, While we had planned to go for a family pub lunch for the other birthday last week, a quick budget check showed this wasn’t possible. Instead we stayed at home and I made lunch. We also held impromptu drinks in the garden for friends, using wine and beer we already had and spending a little money on nibbles.

I will now spend the rest of the week washing, packing (and working) and finalising budgets for hols. As we are heading to France and the euro is very nearly worth £1 we are going to have to reign in our spending a little..

If you want to follow our holiday travels follow me on instagram

I’m also going to try to keep to some zero waste/plastic free habits from previous holidays (see here and here). Watch this space and see you at the end of the month!

A bientot….