My 100th post! What I’ve learnt about blogging

credit: katielips

credit: katielips

This is my 100th post! Having started this blog last Spring and – with some erratic scheduling of posts – I have reached the one hundred mark. It’s quite timely as we approach the end of the year and begin to look back at the past twelve months. I thought I would contemplate on my past 99 entries and what this blog has taught me…

This is my second – and perhaps more successful blog

I used to  write a family-centred blog for a few years. However as my children grew older I became more reluctant to include them in my blog entries. Yet I really enjoyed the writing and creating process of blogging and, coupled with my love of all things second-hand,  this blog was born.

I am an erratic blogger

I do try to discipline myself to write at least a couple of entries a week but sometimes life just gets in the way and there are too many other things to do. I also like to research then write my entries so I’m not very good at firing off quick posts. There are also times when I have nothing relevant to write about…

I have met some really interesting, creative and generous bloggers

I have actually met some real-life bloggers through this process. They have been inspirational, helpful and kind and some have become actual friends. I’m quite honest in admitting I have stolen a few ideas – such as Repair Cafes – from Jen at my make do and mend year blog. I’m also amazed when anyone comments on my blog that they have met me, but then again I’m amazed when people have actually my read my blog!

Repair Cafe

Repair Cafe


I have taken on new challenges

Through blogging – and following other blogs – I have come across new challenges which I have taken part in. From Plastic Free July to the Mins Game and Slow Fashion Challenge month I have learnt so much. Some projects I have enjoyed taking part in, some I have failed at and others I’m still not sure about (I plan to post a Project 333 review soon).

a (mostly) second-hand outfit which I wore for #Secondhand First challenge run by TRAID. Alas I never finished the week as I came down with a bad cold

a (mostly) second-hand outfit which I wore for #Secondhand First challenge run by TRAID.

Having learnt a few things I know there are other things I want to do better. So my New Year’s Resolutions for blogging (or what I plan to do for my next 100 posts) is:

Try to post more regularly

Carry on with the ‘Second-Hand shopping in…’ series

Maybe take some more pics of me wearing my second-hand clothes (although I’m rather camera shy)

Carry on enjoying my blogging, ‘meeting’ new, interesting and inspirational bloggers and blog readers, and not pressure myself to take on too many challenges.Diamond-2015-text-vector

Second-hand Christmas: Part One


sign bought from Oxfam shop last year

Of course there has to be Parts One and Two if I’m writing about Christmas in a second-hand style!

For this post I thought I would concentrate on the non-present side of Christmas, ie all the trimmings. My festive budget never seems to stretch to buying new baubles, tablecloths or Santa shaped plates. For the past few years we have been acquiring, and mending,  pre-loved decorations, wrapping and other accessories instead.


Our Christmas Tree was bought from a local second-hand market a couple of years ago. I’m not sure the previous owners even used it but it has been perfect for us and even has its own integral lights. I know there are lots of pros and cons about buying real trees as opposed to the resources used to create artificial ones. I like to think that buying a second-hand tree has a slightly smaller carbon footprint. Of course the best thing would be to re-use the same real tree every year, or even hire one.

Having run a Repair Cafe last December and highlighted the fact that 500 tonnes of Christmas lights are thrown away each year(!), I have tried really hard to mend ours. This is a job that is easier said than done as you have to find the right replacement bulbs and then work through all the colours to find the faulty one. I have had mixed results doing this.

Our other Christmas decorations tend to be ones made by the children, or ones that I have made myself such as this free printable poster (similar one can be found here). Every year I change the pictures in our photo frames and replace them with some festive themed images. It’s only a little thing (and we don’t have much space for big things) but it adds a nice festive touch.


Other festive touches include these rather cheesey second-hand mugs. I bought them last year when we had a Christmas party and I was serving soup. I didn’t want to use disposable mugs and these cups were bought very cheaply from charity shops:


We also have a lovely collection of second-hand Christmas/Winter books that I have bought for the girls in previous years. All are from charity shops and were in good enough condition to give as presents. We now store them away with the Christmas decorations and it’s nice to bring them out once a year to re-read:



When it comes to wrapping and labelling every year we re-use our old Christmas cards to make gift tags:


I have bought one roll of Christmas paper but, having ordered a few Amazon packages, I’ve been ironing and re-using the brown paper that comes with it. I plan to brighten up some of the girls’ presents with some free printable ‘stamps’ I found here.


What second-hand decorations and Christmas trimmings are you using this year?


A mending kind of day…..


Having been inspired by the Repair Cafe I ran yesterday at work I decided to tackle the rotary dryer in our garden. The wires are loose and when I folded it the other day everything became tangled up. So I very painstakingly unscrewed the arms and, rather like the reverse of doing a cat’s cradle, I untangled the wires. At one point I had considered getting rid of the thing, but once it was fixed I felt a great sense of satisfaction that I’d saved one more thing from landfill.

And my husband also mended the solar fairy lights which he had tripped over last weekend and broken!

Our Repair Cafe had a slightly smaller attendance yesterday (it clashed with the town’s Summer Fete) but the electrician and handyman were still busy with repairs made to -among other things – a paper shredder, hoover, air conditioning unit and a puppet!

Mending jeans

I blogged here about my recent visit to Primark to buy (very) cheap jeans for my girls. Since then I have been thinking about how I can avoid ‘fast fashion’, ie buying things that are quickly thrown away because of quality or trend. Okay, so the latter probably applies less to me at the age of 42 but I know there’s something I can do about not throwing things away because they are broken or torn. As you may know I help to run a bi-monthly Repair Cafe but I also have a sewing machine and access to the internet so I should learn to mend more myself.

The £5 jeans got me thinking that I could really learn to mend these myself. I originally bought the jeans for my 7 and 5 year olds because the older one was already wearing a second-hand pair that had gone in the knees, and the younger one had grown out of her M&S pair. Despite replacing them with inferior (and thinner) trousers from Primark I have kept onto the old jeans and plan to make shorts out of them for the summer. I have also used fabric from them to MEND my tattered jeans which have long needed either repairing or replacing.

After the obligatory search on pinterest I came across this really useful youtube tutorial from tlc inspirations:

I basically cut material from one of the girls’ pair of jeans and pinned it onto the inside out leg of one of my jeans. I then turned the trouser leg the right way and, with some effort, slid it onto my sewing machine. I then used a simple zigzag stich to secure the fabric in place and hey presto:


from this….



….to this

okay so it may not be the best fix but I did it and I can’t tell you how empowered I feel about it. I love these jeans and couldn’t bear the thought of parting from them, or having to scour the shops to find a new (or new to me) pair. I’m also now armed with the ‘skills’ to mend another pair, or repair the Primark jeans when they inevitably go, as well as some fun ideas to turn old pairs into fun shorts for the summer.

On the mend with the latest Repair Cafe

Having been inspired by the Repair Cafes that Jen from my make do and mend blog has been organising, we started running bi-monthly cafes at the Arts Centre where I work. The aim of a Repair Cafe is to encourage people to learn to fix broken items for free, rather than throwing them away. At a Repair Cafe they meet with local experts and work together to mend anything from a broken lamp to a busted zip or wonky bike. Not only do customers get to meet the experts in their area but they also learn to fix things for themselves. At our last cafe I brought along a broken radio. The electrician was able to test it and then advise what I needed to buy in order to repair it (turned out to be very cheap and easy and to think I was going to throw it away!). A friend brought along a toaster that hadn’t been working for ages.The electrician took it part and found the cause of the problem: a dead mouse!!!

This coming Saturday (25th) is our third Repair Cafe, held between 2 and 4pm and in conjunction with Corsham’s local green group, Transcoco. As well as an electrician, computer repair expert, seamstress, carpenter and upholsterer we will also have two jewellery repair experts and local chiropractors to help ‘mend your body’. This cafe has gone from strength to strength and I’m really excited that we have even more people than ever to help with repairs.

Zips mended and toasters fixed at our first Repair Cafe

We held our first Repair Cafe in Corsham yesterday at the Pound Arts Centre (where I work).  I had been working with Corsham’s enthusiastic green group (Transcoco) on this project for a couple of months, having been inspired by the Warminster Repair Cafe run by Jen from mymakedoandmendyear. Rather nervously, we set up the cafe yesterday afternoon and awaited our first customers.  In the end we had 20 customers and -with the help of experts and volunteers – managed to fix:

two toasters

one chair

one music stand

two bikes

zips on ricksack and sleeping bag

holes in trousers

one lamp

one radio

plus the DIY table was busy as people helped themselves to tools to fix things themselves.

Not everthying could be fixed but the feedback from all customers was really positive. We had lots of comments from people who were pleased their items were fixed and that they had learned to do something themselves. For all the volunteers it was great to be able to chat with people who had similar ideas about waste and repair. We were also lucky to be joined by a retired engineer who offered his services and set to work repairing straight away!

So we have decided to run our next Repair Cafe in two months’ time on Sat 23 November. Watch this space…..


Getting ready for the Repair Cafe…

I have to say that my material contribution to the Corsham Repair Cafe is rather pathetic. I can’t offer any amazing repairing skills and have very limited knowledge about sewing machines. However I can make a cappucino and serve a good slice of cake so I think my contribution will be more of a food-based one this Saturday.

In the meantime I have started to collect a few odds and ends to help the sewing volunteers this Saturday:


I have also found a random jar of cable ties in our shed which, according to the Repair Cafe Netherlands, is a must-have material, so I’ll bring them along too.

Big thanks to everydaylifeonashoestring who paid a visit to the cafe and took some pics last Saturday.