Thrifty Finds

This week’s Thrifty Finds (20-26 March)

 

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

I have had a lovely week! I had to take annual leave and so enjoyed a few days to myself (as the kids are still at school). I pottered around the house, did some sorting and organising, and also met up with friends I hadn’t seen for ages.

  1. I spring-cleaned the kitchen cupboards. Sounds dull but I did take great satisfaction in giving them a good clean and doing some decluttering. We don’t have many kitchen cupboards and I have already had a good go at reducing what we own. Still, there were a few more mugs and glasses that I was able to donate to charity shops.

2. I met up with friends for lunches and coffee, but didn’t break the bank. It was lovely to see people I hadn’t caught up with for ages, and enjoy time together.

3. On Friday I hosted my Book Group and, as I was off work, had time to make all the snacks: tzatziki, salsa and guacamole. We also had enough left over for lunch the next day (we are at the end of the month here so the food cupboards are starting to look quite bare!)

4. I had a lovely Mother’s Day: breakfast in bed, homemade cards, lunch cooked by my husband, and lots of flowers. The daffodils came from my friend’s garden, as a thank you for hosting Book Group.

5. Finally, for the past few weeks I have been sorting through my wardrobe. I followed the advice of a few minimalist/Project 333 bloggers and emptied the contents of my closet*. I then rehung every item with the hangers all going the same way on the rail. Then, every time I wore an outfit I re-positioned it with the hanger going the opposite way. The idea was that, after three weeks, I could see which items hadn’t been worn by the way the hanger was positioned.

In total, I had 30 items in my closet (tops, blouses, trousers, skirts, dresses and some knitwear). Only nine items hadn’t been worn. Out of these, I kept four (as the weather warms up I know I’ll be getting more wear from them), but discarded five as I had not worn them at all. (I also had the two new pairs of trousers bought last week to add to the closet).

I was surprised at the items I hadn’t worn, and at some of those I had put on over the past few weeks. I guess that as I am working more, my wardrobe is starting to reflect the fact that three days a week I am in an office (as well as attending evening functions).

I’m really pleased with the results. There is more space to see the clothes and I have a load of ideas for new outfits to wear over the next few months.

*Due to the lack of space and storage upstairs my clothes are spread between 1) a small wardrobe in my daughter’s room; 2) a narrow Ikea shelf unit in my bedroom; 3) a few longer dresses hanging from my bedroom door. (see this post here)

Now that the seasons are changing, have you started to change your wardrobe? I’d love to hear where you get your clothes from too: High Street stores, or second-hand?

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

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A Simple Christmas series

A Simple Christmas series on facebook by secondhand tales

I’ve started a new daily series on my Facebook page here and thought I would share it on the blog. Daily blogging can be time consuming- although I cherish the interaction with readers and it feels like a genuine community of like minded souls here. But sometimes other formats (Twitter and Facebook) can also work to share and communicate ideas as well.

But enough rambling… I created a series for the month of December featuring daily posts that will make us rethink the busy-ness of Christmas.I think many of us look on the upcoming festive season as a time of wonder and dread. Wonder at the joyful and exciting time of sharing special experiences with friends and family, and the general feeling of goodwill to all. Yet we also feel dread at the mass consumerism that surrounds us. From Black Friday to Boxing Day sales, and much more in between, Christmas can become a time of frenzy, consumption and debt.

But whatever your feelings at this time of year I wanted to create a little ‘time out’ where, every day, I will post a link to an inspirational website, thoughtful blog post, or my own ramblings, to share another view of the festive season. If you get the chance do pop over to my Facebook page (or follow me on Twitter where I will post a link to the daily thought). Please add any comments or your own links so that we can share our vision of a Simple Christmas together

Second hand tales Facebook page

PS here’s a link to today’s post on Slowing Down at Christmas by the minimalist mom: http://www.theminimalistmom.com/2011/12/one-simple-thing-slow-down/

Tomorrow I will be posting a link to Small Business Saturday.

Could you wear one dress for 365 days?

clothes swap dress

 

I recently came across an amazing project carried out by Canadian journalist and writer, Elizabeth Withey, called Frock Around the Clock.

For all of last year Elizabeth wore just one dress every day. The simple black dress (which she called Laverne, after its style name) was worn with leggings, tights, jumpers, belts, tops etc for all of 2015. Every few days Elizabeth would carefully hand wash it and leave it to dry. It was dressed up for dinner in restaurants, dressed down for camping trips and even went abroad to Iceland.

Elizabeth wore it because she wanted to spend time doing more important things than worrying about what to wear every day. I really recommend you have a look at her blog – which is very honest. I really admire her decision to reduce her wardrobe to just one thing so that she was no longer being sucked into the cycle of worrying about what to wear, shopping for clothes, washing piles of laundry etc.

However I’m not sure I could do this. Over the past couple of years I have struggled with the Capsule Wardrobe concept, Project 333 and have written here and here about my adventures. At present I am taking a break from the project as I try to figure out what works for me.

I guess what it comes down to is personal style. I like to wear clothes that don’t always go together and, while I am far more strong willed when scouring charity shops, I do like to buy quirky, original pieces. BUT it would be so much easier waking up every morning and knowing what I was going to wear – because I didn’t have the choice (as most of the world, beyond our comfy First World status, has).

Could you wear just one piece of clothing all year?

(Below is a really interesting interview with Elizabeth from My Green Closet’s Verena Erin)

 

 

 

Autumn: Slow Fashion October & Project 333

Autumn: slow fashion and project 333

This month sees the inaugural Slow Fashion October, a great idea from Karen at the Fringe Association blog. She is encouraging us to think more about where our clothing comes from, and how this impacts on the environment. If you have a look at her blog you will see there are suggested topics for each week, including (my favourite) talking about ‘loved’ and ‘worn’ clothing.

This week she is encouraging conversations about ‘small’, which includes capsule wardrobes and living with less. As October also sees the latest installment of my attempt at Project 333 I thought I would add some thoughts.

Project 333 is a capsule wardrobe concept that I have been following for the past year. I can’t believe that it’s been 12 months since I first embarked on wearing a simplified wardrobe: just 33 items of clothing, incl shoes and coats, for three months.

There have been times when I have felt frustrated by the limited closet I have found myself with, and have questioned whether it fits with my own style. But I have also relished the opportunity to get dressed quicker and easier because everything I choose for the season has to match. I have also enjoyed putting some items away for a while and then rediscovering them at a later date.

Below is a snapshot of some of my capsule wardrobes throughout the past year:

Now the seasons have turned again and I am putting together my Autumn/Winter wardrobe. I have, once again, emptied my wardrobe and been brutally honest about some of the items. There are a couple of dresses that are now too ‘snug’ and so they have been sent to the charity shop, along with a jumper that was no longer working for me. Other items have been put away and I realise that I am now left with a few gaps.

The current installment looks like this:

 

For the first time I’ve also included accessories (scarves, hat, bracelet and belt). I really enjoyed just having one simple piece of jewellery to wear last season and I shall be on the lookout for a junk shop necklace to wear for this season. I’m also ditching my calf length brown boots and will be hunting for some black ankle boots from local charity shops. There are also a couple of long sleeved tops that I want to replace and perhaps a new (to me) skirt. Knowing that I have some gaps in my wardrobe makes clothes shopping so much easier. I take a list with me and browse the second-hand shops.

Over at mymakedoandmendlife blog Jen is trying to go without buying any clothes for a year. There are some useful links and tips on how to better care for the clothes that you have which I am going to really try to follow, although I couldn’t give up buying outfits for 12 months – even when they are always second-hand!

Our new (to us) keyboard!

In which we swapped this:

decluttering the piano

for this:

second-hand keyboard

 

If you dip in and out of this blog you may have noticed that I’ve become interested in minimalism, or living with less. Having read a few books, seen The Minimalists talk in Bristol, and followed initiatives such as Project 333 I have started to question what we own, and why we own it. Of course this approach has also been affected by the fact that there are five of us living in a small space (and we are set to stay here for the future).

You may have followed our Sofa Saga from earlier in the summer where we were – accidentally – left without anything to sit on! Since then we have acquired a great second-hand sofa and have not been in a hurry to purchase a second one. The space that we had gained in the lounge also led us to make a family decision to get rid of our piano.

It was an old instrument which, to my shame, was badly out of tune. Although I play a little I didn’t really use it and it is only our youngest daughter who now has piano lessons. It was also taking up a lot of space and I was forever dusting it! If I wasn’t vigilant it also became a catch-all for lots of photographs, candles and objects that could be put somewhere else/given away.

So, last month we said goodbye to our piano as it went to a new home. As promised to the girls we spent some of the money on a keyboard that they could play with (and plug headphones into). Last week we found the brilliant Casio keyboard and stand for £35 in our beloved British Heart Foundation Furniture shop in Chippenham.

I know it may not be to everyone’s taste to replace a beautiful (if out of tune) old piano for an electric keyboard. However for us as a family it has been a great purchase: the girls enjoy playing it, we can move it about the house, and we have gained some much needed space….

Family heirlooms

I’m currently reading a book called ‘J’ by Howard Jacobson. It’s (another) dystopian novel set sometime in the near future. There are echoes of ‘Brave New World’, ‘1984’ and (I think) ‘Never Let Me Go’ in it. I mention the novel because in its society people are dissuaded from keeping family heirlooms. It’s an unwritten rule that you are only allowed to keep one item that is over a hundred years old. I haven’t finished the book but I get the impression that old things remind people of something catastrophic that happened (or as it’s referred to: What Happened, if it Happened). In ‘J’ it’s not good to remember the past.

This got me thinking about the heirlooms that we have in our house. As I slowly walk the minimalist path I have been questioning everything we own and working out what we really need. This means that some things we have inherited have now gone. For example this week we said goodbye to our old piano because it takes up too much space and we are going to replace it with a smaller, portable electric keyboard.

However there are other objects that we have inherited and will keep because they a) serve a practical purpose and/or b) remind us of our past.

Take our kitchen table, for example:

Kitchen table: family heirloom

It was my grandparents’ table, then briefly used by my parents. It then went to my aunt’s (I have childhood memories of all the family gathered around the table), then it came to us about ten years ago. It’s not fancy and, as it belonged to my Nan and Grandad, wouldn’t have been expensive. It has a date stamp underneath the table of 5 Jan 1950. For this reason I do wonder if it is a piece of Utility Furniture: inexpensive furniture made in Britain between 1942 and 1952 to meet the increasing demand for furniture (especially by people whose houses were bombed) while suffering from a lack of available resources to produce them.

I am fascinated by both the social and personal, family history that surrounds this table. It is also really practical and can seat eight people around it.

As neither my husband and I have formally inherited items from our grandparents (only one pair of our four grandparents ever owned their own home), there are other items that have casually come to us and we use on a day to day basis, without even thinking about them.

For example, I regularly use this single serving ceramic pan that my Dad had when he lived on his own. I’m not sure what its original purpose is as it can’t be used on a hob. However I find it ideal for soaking grains, such as couscous, in, or storing leftovers in.

Practical family heirlooms

I also have this pyrex lemon squeezer which I think looks quite beautiful:

pyrex lemon squeezer

I do confess to possessing some items that I have kept because they look beautiful. From time to time I use this small china tea set that once belonged to my great gran:

tea set as family heirloom

I also have an ironing board which I rarely use, but can’t quite get rid of because it belonged to my Nan. There is a whole load of emotional attachment to this item which I need to work through. If I get rid of it it doesn’t mean I loved my Nan any less. It barely serves a practical purpose as I don’t iron. And yet….

What family heirlooms do you keep? Do you keep them for emotional, or practical, reasons – or both?

 

Our Sofa Saga…

At the moment our lounge looks like this:

image no sofa lounge

Notice something missing?

Oops we haven’t got any sofas!

Now as much as I have been trying to follow the minimalist way and to declutter perhaps a lack of sofas for a family of five is going a little too far.

In my previous post I included a picture of one our sofas that I had attempted to mend:

sofa darning

But, knowing that both of our hand-me-down sofas were on their way out, we had been looking for a replacement. Over the last couple of months we have been popping into the excellent Dorothy House and British Heart Foundation shops in Chippenham which have a good selection of second-hand furniture. They also sell good quality electrical appliances where we have previously bought breadmakers and a vacuum cleaner.

Ten days ago we came across two matching three seater sofas in the British Heart Foundation shop at the bargain price of £130 for the two. While we had only planned to replace one sofa at a time these were such good quality that, after some quick measuring, we decided we could fit them both in the living room.

We live in a small, old cottage.It was originally a stable but was converted into cottages in the 19th Century so we have high ceilings downstairs. Unfortunately we have low door thresholds, as the picture below indicates:

lovely old thrifted armschair, and low door in our cottage

 

We have since learned that they are only 180cm high. So when the sofas came to be delivered last week they wouldn’t fit as the only way to bring them into the house is to upend them. No matter how hard you try, 205cm long sofas will not compress into 180cm long sofas.

The sofas had to go back to the store and, because we had been so organised and got rid of our other sofas at the beginning of the week, we now have a rather empty lounge!

At first the girls thought it was fun and the good weather has meant they have been outside most of the time. In the evening husband and I sit down to read or watch telly on an assortment of chairs:

– Ikea folding chair

– Blue camping chair

– lovely old armchair (in picture above) which I had lent to friends long term when trying to declutter the house for our house sale (more on that in a future post). It’s been great to be reunited with this old chair which we picked up for free on the street and which proved to be the best chair ever when breastfeeding my younger two daughters.

I realise that to have a sofa free lounge isn’t a long term solution, no matter how much it follows the minimalist mantra of only having what is useful in your home. I do rather like the large space the lack of sofas has given us, and how easy it is to vacuum. But there is still nothing like laying full length on a sofa reading a book or watching tv.

We have started to look again for replacement sofas. My first choice is to re-use what someone no longer wants but both charity furniture shops don’t have much choice at the moment. A trip to Ikea is too expensive and I’m reluctant to buy new for many reasons. We could try ebay or the local facebook and freecyle sites.

We just need to have a measuring tape handy this time…