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skiddingtowardsretirement

semi-retiring, work life balance, lifestyle block living

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principled living

New to me.

Well into middle age, I discovered the pluses of buying second hand.

I remember school friends scouring the charity shops looking for pieces of funky clothing and other stuff in our youth. But I didn’t. In fact, I viewed this practice with horror – I mean, who had worn those clothes, or used that item before? No, siree, buying from a second hand shop wasn’t something the youthful me would be seen dead doing.

So I am totally late to the party discovering the pluses and joys of buying second hand. And as a true convert, I have embraced it and wholeheartedly recommend it as a way to get well made, and unusual things in excellent condition at a fraction of the price you would buy new.

My new-to-me haunts are the online NZ site TradeMe (a bit like Craigslist and Ebay, I think) and the charity shops.

I use TradeMe most often for work clothing. I am very organised about this: I have favourite labels I know work well for me. This means I know the size in each label that fit me and the cuts that work for my body shape. I also know they are well made, and use good fabric that will go the distance. The last sentence is very important to me as I buy items that are a classic cut that I will wear until they fall to bits. I also will buy shoes second-hand. Everything I bid on has to be in very good or excellent condition.

I am not a clothes horse type of woman, so each season, I buy only what I need. This winter I have bought two pairs of shoes (ballet flats and a pair of rollies).

New-to-me Rollies

These are replacements for the very expensive boots I purchased new a few years back and which are busy shedding the thin leather covering on the elastic gusset in a most unattractive and unwearable way. I also bought a skirt (VSSP). All items are perfect: both in condition and fit. This season’s new to me work items cost me $80 including postage. I have two more items I wish to buy for winter: jeans, and a MacPac jacket like my daughter has. I am looking on TradeMe for the jacket, but will buy new when it goes on sale if I haven’t sourced an excellent condition second-hand one before this. The jeans I will buy new.

Which brings me to deciding on how much to pay for an item. Items on TradeMe are sold by auction. Some will also have a buy now price. Postage is on top of this.

If it is an auction, I determine what it is worth to me and set this as the highest price I will pay. FOMO has no place in sensible buying (don’t get me started on house auctions!) If there is a buy now price and I think it is fair, I will purchase that way.

I have mentioned charity shops. The first item I purchased from an opportunity shop was a breadmaker. I bought it second hand because I was not convinced that after the initial enthusiasm for making bread had worn off, it would be used – it was after all a bit of a must-have fad at the time. The $40 price tag, therefore, worked for me, as did the breadmaker which actually did not gather dust and instead gave me many years of use. Still going, I gifted it to someone else when we downsized to move onto the boat.

The man, though, is the main user of charity shops in our family. He scouts them for old tools (hard to find) and for work clothing too. A woodworker, his uniform is plaid shirts and jeans. The shirts often get covered in varnish, stains and glue, so he is more than happy to buy second hand, knowing that they will become rags within the season. Occasionally he will buy a decent item of clothing he happens upon – often they are unworn garments that are other people’s purchasing mistakes. And the other day, he happened on a lovely lamp which now adds a bit of retro style to our lounge.

Buying second hand is not something only Ma and Pa Stone do. My youngest son and his wife are into it too, so for Mother’s Day, I received a set of Temuka Coffee mugs, circa 1977. Found on TradeMe, they match other Temuka I have from back in the day. They are also in perfect condition and I am thrilled.

Second-hand …. one of the best ways to stretch your money (or in my case squirrel it away for those early retirement plans), and at the same time own something a wee bit different. And, of course, the perfect way to recycle and do your bit to save the planet!

I highly recommend it.

Someone else’s problem

Last week the man and I packed the ute tray with ‘rubbish’ destined for the tip.

As we packed it, I thought about a comment I had read that throwing something away doesn’t mean it disappears, it just becomes someone else’s problem.

And looking at our throwaways, I agree. There was old flooring we had removed from our kitchen – this was a product that was made to look like wood but was in truth a cheap plastic (read oil-based) imitation. Over time, it had become chipped and there was nothing we could do to refurbish it.

There were three broken television sets. Two of these had belonged to a relative and had made their way into our dump pile, and the third one was our old one which after 15 years had finally given up the ghost. In addition to this, there were two dead printers from the same relative and my laptop that had died in one of those nasty computer death throes computers are known for.

We still have another load (at least) to go to the dump. This includes a tent that is old and rotten; a life raft and flares that are sporting expired expiry dates, and an inflatable dinghy that has lost its inflate bit.

In the main, the stuff we are dumping has been well-used and kept on life support for as long as we could. The same can’t be said for the expensive life raft or flares which have never been used but were bought for safety reasons and are to be dumped for the very same reasons.

We take some solace in the fact that the televisions, laptop and printers are being recycled, or should I say, some parts are : I have no doubt the non-recyclable parts will join the tent, inflatable, life raft, flooring and flares in the landfill. Here they will become someone else’s problem.

Goodbye 1980s.

Our kitchen sports an avocado benchtop. Dating back to the construction of the house in the early 80s, it is in pristine condition.

Perfect condition it may be, but it doesn’t work. It is design of the benchtop, rather than its colour which is the main issue. It intrudes on the room. Takes up way too much space. It has to go.

I am studiously ignoring my lack of green ethics in replacing a benchtop that is in tip top condition. Same with the existing overhead cupboards – although they may yet be recycled in the old pantry space, thanks to the clever man.

The kitchen photographs better than it looks and works!

The underbench cupboards are a mixed bag – some will go due to either the change in design of the kitchen and/or condition. Others will stay. There will be new ones installed too. Even some drawers. Thank you, Marie Kondo.

Redesigning the benchtop means I need to make a decision about the hob. It goes well, but as it, too, is 35 years or more old, for how much longer? It is sensible to upgrade it when I replace the benches. And feel free to judge me, I think I am going to splash out on an induction one!

Which brings me to the double oven – the oven is not as old, but it must have had a hard life, so there is no question a new one is the way to go. Luckily the cabinetry it sits in works well and is in excellent condition. It can stay.

The same can’t be said for the pantry. It is huge – not 2020 scullery huge, but large, nonetheless. It is also shabby and not in a cute, chic way.

The need for bench space usurps the ‘not cute, shabby chic pantry’. The pantry will be replaced by (possibly) recycled cupboards above and new cabinety below a bench top.

Tiling. Flooring.

Lastly, the fridge – there’s probably a few more years left in our fridge. It will stay.

Adieu, 1980.

New Life – Merry Christmas

christmas tree

This is the first Christmas in our new house.

Pinned to our door is a Christmas Wreath.

We have  two Christmas cards sitting on our dining table besides a figure of an angel, a home made Christmas cake sitting waiting to be iced and eaten (the recipe is from Alexa Johnston’s Ladies, a plate),  and a Christmas tree we cut from our land. It is not a beautiful Christmas tree, but perfection is over-rated, right?

Our decorations on the tree are interesting, to say the least. Many would say they are non-traditional. I prefer the term ‘eclectic mix.’ It sounds more upmarket.

We have an assortment of Tudor kings and Queens  –  all with their heads, even though many ended their lives without them.  We bought them in the UK when we visited two of our children and other family there.

I have a decoration which is a plaster Bloomingdale shopping bag. Our daughter sent it to her grandmother, my mother, one Christmas when she (the daughter) was domiciled in New York. The decoration lives on, even though my mother has passed.

Our tree has a small Fimo fisherman in a yellow sou-wester hat and matching raincoat and gumboots. He came from a small shop in Charlotte Town, PEI (Prince Edward Island), Canada, and was hand made by a local. We bought three of these. Two are now sitting on friends’ trees.

Years ago we saw a community post that someone wanted a bird bath. We had one so gifted it to the cause. The recipients gave us a pohutukawa decoration to thank us. We hang it on a branch every year.

We have lights on our tree too. These flash on and off.  If you can get past the slightly tacky strip-joint look about them, they are pretty. Especially after a wine or two.

Ditto: the tinsel.

At the top of the tree we have an Angel.  There are no personal memories here. We bought her simply because it’s Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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