Monday, 23 April 2012

Student Living

Today we received notice that our Landlord is happy for us to skip out early on our contract and so head off to our new (yet to be secured) abode nearer college. Perfect for all those delightful 7am prayer meetings I'll be attending (gulp). This is fab news and potentially saved us the best part of two grand which will go towards a suitably retro old banger for me to drive to lectures. But anyhow, over the weekend I've been browsing some fab websites and second hand shops and that, rather than a general moan about the woes of moving house, is the topic of this post.

I've been really inspired recently by the idea of creating a home (and wardrobe) out of second hand and unwanted items. My sewing machine has made this infinitely more possible when it comes to clothes and I gleefully realised I was wearing an almost entire charity shop outfit the other day, more of that please! I'm now turning my attention to our home which is simultaneously having a clear out of junk accumulated since we made the big move from Scotland but is also being added to with pieces of reclaimed furniture and products from my latest endeavours in craft.

There are a few reasons this really appeals to me. Firstly, the necessity that comes from living on a teeny, tiny grant from the Church. I'm seeing this as student chic with a difference. Less glitter ball curtains (yes, that is actually a thing) and pink plastic glasses from my first University experience and more retro and homemade items to make a comfy and individual home.

This leads me neatly onto the second reason for my new found enthusiasm for second hand and homemade - uniqueness. This weekend I found some gorgeous soup bowls in a charity shop with lion heads for handles that remind me so much of the stonework on the Oxford colleges. You don't get that in Homebase. I also bought myself an embroidery ring and made this with some (beloved) Cath-y K offcuts. Twee but makes me smile every time I see it!

And this is my third reason, creativity. I find it soothing and extremely happy making to be surrounded by things I've made or that have a story behind them. Putting together a unique home and wardrobe is just plain fun.

And finally the do-gooder reason. I want to do a bit less consuming and a bit more putting back. I hate the thought of some poorly paid woman working sixteen hour days to provide me with a cheap top. It's just horrid. That's why I'm trying to up my fair trade purchased. I also hate the piles of junk we have to bury under the ground that could be reused. Shopping second hand means a loving home for all the items that could otherwise end up in landfill and the money goes to charity. There are so many arguments I know could be had about the economics of spending but this makes sense to me given the state of our world and resources (or lack of).

So roll on the new place (ignoring the packing, urgh) and eyes peeled for 'junk' on street corners. I'll keep you updated!

P.S If you're interested in this sort of thing I'd seriously recommend you go to Lulastic and the Hippy Shake, a feast for secondhand home makers!


  1. Well done, Nicola. You'll really enjoy doing it and be proud of the result. Many years ago our first home was entirely furnished with secondhand furniture from an auction sale of hotel contents. It cost more to hire a van to get them home than to buy them in the first place and they lasted us a long time. :-)

    1. Thanks Perpetua. It's fun isn't it, cobbling together second hand. I'm going on to cleaning products and beauty next. That will be a hard one, I'm a die hard Lancome fan!!

  2. Every time you buy some second hand clothes, another poor Chinese person has to leave their cushy factory job and return to working 16 hours a day in the rice fields of inland China. Do you really want that on your conscience?

    1. You may be being sarcastic Paul but you're getting a big ol' answer!!!

      Must say, not heard of many cushy factory jobs! But that's where buying fair trade is important and lobbying clothing companies to make sure that their factories are paying a living wage.

      Either way the environmental concerns of packed wardrobes of mass produced clothes would still worry me. I'm more inclined to buy more expensive but better quality and lasting items when buying new.

      Also if the money is going to humanitarian charities like Oxfam then they will be working to improve the prospects in rural areas and so reducing the need to move to cities and work for low wages in factories. I'm skeptical that the answer to the world's problems is always buy, buy, buy no matter the cost to the environment or the producers. I can't see that having a positive end!

      So that's my logic so far, a work in progress certainly!

  3. There's nothing like moving house for a new crafting passion! I'm moving (again) in June - into a potentially nicer flat with a lot more scope for interior design. Have to say, I'd love a vintage shopping spree, but definitely don't have the time to create much more than simple cushion covers (well, time and a lack of sewing machine skill).
    Loving the second hand look will probably stand you in good stead for vicar-dom!
    Oh, and 7am prayers?!? Not every day, surely?? We have them once a week at my placement, but I'm generally exempt as it turns my 13 hour day into a 15 hour one!

    1. Hey Liz!

      Yep 7.30am for prayers Monday to Friday at College then a mad dash into Oxford city centre for lectures. I may die (not that I'm dramatic or anything!!). Evening prayers are at quarter to 6 I think so 13 hour days minimum sounds about right. Oh my. SCARY!

      I'm thinking my history of renting decidedly dodgy abodes is going to be of great use as a Vicar. I have no standards! Ha!

      I would say you should defo give the sewing machine lark a go when you have more time but more time?! Ha! Not sure when that will come....sorry.... :)