Surgery, First World Problems and Travel

my good friend Linda brought this little treasure to me when I was in the hospital and it’s still alive!

Back in March, I ended up in the hospital with an inflamed gallbladder. It wasn’t pretty; I was in the Abbotsford hospital for a week, only to be sent home to await surgery which was scheduled for 6 weeks later. My instructions were: eat a low fat diet, don’t do yoga, take it easy. Okay, well the last part was pretty simple. I was super bummed about not being able to do yoga but if it was going to make my gallstone move around and cause more inflammation, I wasn’t going there. The low fat was a challenge but I actually appreciated the things I learned about food, about fat, about portion sizes, etc. and I looked at it as the diet intervention that I needed to change the way I eat! I had successful surgery on April 21 and still 6 weeks later, my surgeon gave me the thumbs up. All better!

What the heck does this have to do with thrift? Well, when you eat a low fat diet for 12+ weeks, you lose weight – in my case, 25 lbs – which means none of my clothes fit anymore and you know what that means, right? I had to go thrift shopping!

I didn’t exactly buy a whole new wardrobe because that would just be silly but I have found a couple of core pieces to get me through the summer. I dug deep into my past life, i.e. grade 9 sewing, and altered a few favourites so that I can still wear them (like the MEC zipper pants I will take with me to Scotland next week!) But the one thing I really needed was a pair of jeans.

I love the pocket detail stitching on these Denver Hayes jeans.

What is it about jeans that makes them so hard to buy? I don’t know. I hit several thrift shops over the last few weeks and it wasn’t until yesterday, when I visited the evil-Value-Village in Langley that I finally found a pair that I quite like. I tried on 12 pairs of jeans. TWELVE. And while I really like the ones I got, I was choked that I had to pay $12.99 for them because I know that if the same pair had been donated to MCC or Bibles for Missions, I’d have paid $4 for them. Sigh.

Oh well, I shant dwell on it. I’m healthy –healthier, actually – I am grateful for family and friends who have supported me throughout this process. I have a job that provides me with great benefits that enabled me to live well while recuperating. Having trouble finding jeans is really a first world problem, right?

AND, I’m going to Scotland on Friday! This is our third visit to this amazing country. I have already noted all the thrift shops in the Outer Hebrides and will definitely visit at least one or two. I’ll blog about those experiences here.  Til then, tell me: what’s your essential travel piece of clothing – the thing you won’t leave home without?


Posted in alterations, clothing, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Things I’m Still Looking For

You’ve heard all the legends, right? Someone finds a (fill in the blank) at a thrift shop and it turns out to be a thing worth tons of money. This has never happened to me. Ever.

But it could.

Here’s three stories I’ve either heard of lately or have known for a while:

The Green Jacket

Why did it have to be green?

This is one of those things that you’d never expect to find in a thrift shop. Who gives away their Master’s Jacket? I mean, people fight so hard to get this thing, to win this tournament, and then to just give it away? Wouldn’t you donate it to a museum or something? So the person who finds it, pays $5 and sells it for over $139,000. That’s a hole in one. You can read the story here.

Maud Lewis Painting

Louis Silcox, a volunteer, and Karla Richards, the general manager of the New Hamburg Thrift Centre, hold an original Maud Lewis painting discovered at centre amongst donations. The painting is being auctioned off online and bidding has already reached more than $125,000. (Ken Ogasawara/MCC Photo)

My hubby and I just saw Maudie, a movie about Maud Lewis’ life, and I highly recommend it. I’ve been to Halifax twice now and have yet to go into the museum that holds her house – yes, her whole house is so small it fits in a museum. The painting was donated to an MCC Thrift Shop in Ontario, and it’s being sold by auction which makes me feel good, because I know that the thousands it sells for will go to support those in need around the world. The bidding is online, opened April 20th and closes May 19th – so there’s still time for you to get your bid in!

Fluevog Shoes

i mean, come on. they’re so great!

I LOVE John Fluevog’s shoes. So much. I’ve tried on several pairs at his signature store in Gastown, Vancouver and they feel like you’ve been wearing them forever, as soon as you put them on. Sigh. They cost a small fortune. When I first thought about blogging, I did some research on thrift bloggers and fell I love with Apron Thrift Girl, a blogger out of California. She hit the motherlode when she visited an estate sale and found 3 pairs of Fluevogs, in mint condition, all in her size. $3 each. Seriously. This should happen to me. It really should.

Have you ever found anything of exceptional value at a thrift shop?

Posted in rare finds, thrift legends | Tagged , | 6 Comments

A New Kind of Consignment

There’s a franchise that’s opened a new store in Abbotsford called “Plato’s Closet”. The store sells used clothing that it buys from people. Unlike a traditional consignment store, Plato’s Closet buys your clothing outright. I like this method.

In a traditional consignment model, you bring your clothing to a vendor, s/he goes through it and selects the clothing that s/he thinks will sell in the shop and then tags it and dates it. You are paid only if it sells and the amount you are paid depends entirely upon how quickly it sells. If it sells quickly, you make a higher percentage than if it doesn’t. What is left over after your due date either goes to thrift or comes back to you.

In the Plato’s Closet version, you bring your clothing to the store, they go through it and select what they think will sell and then pay you outright. You go home with money in your pocket right away and don’t have to wait and see if anything will sell.

In both cases, vendors are notoriously picky about what they’ll choose from your clothing – and rightly so. The vendor assumes all/most of the risk in trying to sell an item and if it’s outdated, not clean, an odd size or whatever it won’t sell and no one wins.

I have rarely been successful in terms of having my clothing sold through any kind of consignment, mostly because I already buy my clothing at thrift shops and it’s rarely the brand that vendors are looking for, nor is it recent enough. Plato’s Closet in particular would look at my closet and say, “seriously, old lady?” The nice thing with the franchise, though, is that their website gives very clear guidelines about what they’ll accept so if you go there first and judge your clothing by those guidelines you’ll save yourself some time.

As for shopping there, the store in Abbotsford is bright, clean, well-organized and the clothing is reasonably priced. I’ll definitely venture there again.

What has your consignment experience been like?

Posted in clothing, consignment, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , ,

The Laundry, The Laundry!

Anyone remember that great Charlotte Diamond song about the laundry?

 Watch the video, especially if you need a solution for overflowing laundry problems.

Watch the video, especially if you need a solution for overflowing laundry problems.

So fun. I actually don’t mind doing laundry all that much although if someone invented clothes that would put themselves away after they’ve been washed, that would be awesome.

does anyone have a laundry room with huge, deep laundry sinks anymore? i wish i had that.

does anyone have a laundry room with huge, deep laundry sinks anymore? i wish i had that.

I grew up living in an apartment where we shared laundry with two other tenants. We had a ringer washing machine, an outdoor clothesline and an indoor drying rack. It makes it sound like I was living like a pioneer in some backwoods place, doesn’t it? But nope, this was Vancouver in the 1970s. I learned how to do laundry on that contraption, terrified that I’d get my fingers stuck in the ringer. That never happened but I did flood the laundry room once when I forgot that I was filling it and the water did some fair damage to the make-our-own-wine supply place that was below us. Ah the good old days.

I also wore an apron and high heeled shoes. every time.

I also wore an apron and high heeled shoes. every time.

As time consuming as it was, doing laundry with a ringer washer and hanging it do dry was somewhat environmentally friendly –at least the drying part was. Ringer washers use a lot of water compared to high-efficiency washing machines that we use today.

This was taken in December but it could have been taken today. It's beautiful outside.

This was taken in December but it could have been taken today. It’s beautiful outside.

But I still have a clothesline, in fact, it was a selling feature of our house when we bought it 20 years ago. I love the way my laundry smells coming off the line, especially sheets and towels. It always baffles me why there are subdivisions where clotheslines are not allowed – it seems crazy to me that we prohibit the use of something that is so environmentally friendly just because we don’t want to look at our neighbour’s underwear. I think clotheslines tell a story – I knew that my neighbours behind me had had a baby when little onesies started showing up on their clothesline. I watched those turn into toddler clothes and pre-schooler clothes. I knew their boy had a love for Buzz Lightyear by his sheets. I knew that the neighbours next to them were South Asian because of the brilliantly coloured saris hanging on theirs. When a Mexican family  moved in next door with their 15 children (not a word of a lie) their TWO clotheslines were filled with clothing of all sizes!

you kinda want to eat them, don't you? would it be like washing your mouth out with soap?

you kinda want to eat them, don’t you? would it be like washing your mouth out with soap?

So while I love my clothes line and use it all the time, I’ve been exploring other ways to be more environmentally responsible in this area. I’ve discovered green washing detergents and non-chlorine bleach that I’m pretty happy with but I’ve also heard about these little guys: soap nuts. Has anyone out there tried these? I first learned about these via Queen of Green. They’re actually a tree fruit that you throw in with your dirty clothes and they act like soap and clean them. I’ve never tried these but am curious about them. You can learn more about them here and also see the Queen of Green’s recipe for her own liquid laundry soap.

What’s your green laundry tip?

Posted in environment, frugal living, laundry, simple living, thrift, thrift lifetstyle | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

A Fresh Start

I love how the snow makes everything look so fresh and clean.

I love how the snow makes everything look so fresh and clean.

I’ve been somewhat remiss in maintaining this blog and have been trying to figure out why. I think there’s a few reasons:


  • I do not thrift shop as often as I once did and I think that’s because my work schedule changed 3 years ago when I began a new job – I work more days than I used to. I also walk to work and don’t pass by any thrift shops on my way home, so the casual, drive-by thing I used to do, doesn’t happen anymore. So, less thrifting = less to blog about.
I don't want my house to start looking like Granny and Grumpas. Nor will my dear husband ever let it get to this!

I don’t want my house to start looking like Granny and Grumpas. Nor will my dear husband ever let it get to this!

  •  The older I get, the less stuff I need/want. Why does it take age to figure that out? Maybe it has to do with the realization that I’m getting to the point in my life where I may have to downsize and the thought of doing that is overwhelming already, nevermind if I add more stuff. So, I think my thrift habits have changed from acquirement-focused to replacement-focused.




  • Sad realities. I had a challenging autumn with people close to me going through some significant challenges in their lives and when that happens it always makes everything else seem irrelevant. Finding a great deal in a thrift shop is awesome but it is meaningless when someone’s child or parent dies or someone you love has serious health or mental health issues. And then there was the whole election south of the border… I despair at the meanness of it all. I don’t even want to talk about that. So, general malaise, maybe? But then I was so inspired by the Women’s Marches around the world, turning a negative into a positive. So no excuses!

t is for thrift faery. if i ever find this framed image or the book that this comes from, i will definitely blog about that!

One of the things I’ve always wanted to do with this blog is to encourage others, to inspire readers to consider the positive aspects of living a frugal, thrift-conscious, environmentally friendly lifestyle. So for this year, I want to re-focus on those things, explore them more deeply and hopefully in doing so re-inspire myself and hopefully you too! I’m hoping you’ll engage with me as I explore topics that might be important to you as well. If you have ideas for things you’d like me to tackle, I’m open to suggestions. And if I do find some great deals in thrift shops along the way, I’ll be sure to share those with you.


Look for a new blogpost later this week!

Posted in second hand, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Misses Clause


You’ve certainly heard about Santa Claus but have you heard about Misses Clause? I learned about this from the folks over at WIN thrift shop in Victoria.

The Misses Clause states that: Any gift given in good will around the holidays can be re-gifted once more if it was a “miss” instead of a “hit”, providing it is gifted in good will to a more appropriate recipient.

I’ve always thought of this as “re-gifting” but I love “Misses Clause” so much better don’t you? So if you got 15 pairs of socks and only need 3, or you got a yet another holiday mug and there’s no more room in the cupboard or you’ve already read that book – you should not feel guilty about re-gifting these to someone who will truly appreciate them. OR you can also re-gift by donating these things to a thrift shop so that another person can enjoy them. Your gift goes to someone who will love it and you’ll support a charity with much needed funds.

All my gifts were hits this year, mostly because they were experiences: concerts, theatre performances, really great tea, chocolate and BOOKS. (I can ever have too many books.)

Have you ever enacted the Misses Clause?

Posted in christmas, gifts, regifting, second hand, simple living, thrift, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Shopping | Tagged , , , , ,

Ugly Christmas Sweater Success

ah the good old days.

ah the good old days.

The Ugly Christmas Sweater has gone the way of so many other things associated with Christmas: death by commercialization. The original concept was so great: find a vintage sweater, that was once sold as a nice sweater but in today’s ethos is actually ugly and wear that OR turn your own sweater into an ugly one by making it so. But because the trend is so popular, finding an actual vintage sweater has become far more challenging than it used to and making your own? Well, why would you do that when you can just buy one? Nowadays, (wow, that made me sound like an old fart) you just hop to your local mall or find an store and drop your $$ and you have the appearance of having made an effort.

Well, not in my family.

Benita ugly christmas sweater

My sister, Benita and her talented daughter, Abigail did it the right way, using their talents and their thrifting sense to create this masterpiece.


Isn’t awesome?

Between Michaels and (evil) Value Village, they got all they needed: $4 sweater,$3 scarf (from which Benita made the furry trim) yellow felt 59 cents and fabric glue $7. Abigail drew the image – that part was priceless.

But basically, they created a $15 sweater that’s unique, one-of-a-kind and hilarious!

What’s your ugly Christmas sweater story? Would love to see some photos of your actual vintage finds or your own creations!


Posted in christmas, ugly christmas sweaters | Tagged , ,