The Art of Tidying

everything about Marie Kondo is tidy. honestly.

So by now, you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo or the Kondo-Effect. Kondo has created a little empire around tidying up. She’s written a book. She has a Netflix series. She has a website. She has a franchise. It’s not about getting rid of your crap, it’s about choosing joy.

Let’s just think about that for a minute.

When you last told your kids to “Clean up your room right now, dammit!” were you thinking, hmmm, I wonder how I could turn this into an empire? Or even hmmm, I wonder how I can inspire my kid to choose joy while picking up the dirty clothes, snot rags, food wrappers, dirty mold-covered dishes, and did that dust bunny just move?”*

Yeah. Me, neither. Totally kicking myself right now.

The Kondo-Effect was featured in a recent Vancouver Sun article about how people’s new year’s resolutions to get rid of stuff often means that thrift shops see an uptick in donations in January. Kondo’s Netflix series on tidying up premiered on January 1st. Coincidence? I think not.

harry potter, yoga, good fridy blues files, warm fuzzies. all the important files.

None of this is bad. My husband and I recently spent an afternoon emptying a 2-drawer filing cabinet that we wanted to get rid of, which led to us reorganize our 4-drawer filing cabinet. All afternoon. We ended up with four bags of recycling/shredded materials and another box of documents to take to a professional shredder. It felt really, really good! And the little filing cabinet went to a friend, which also felt good.

give away my books? you may as well ask me to give away my children.

Kondo’s whole premise is, if it doesn’t give you joy, then get rid of it. Mostly I think she’s right. The one area where I disagree with her is books. She says read it once then give it away. Clearly, she is not a die-hard book lover. Once?! What do you mean, “once”?!

this is not my closet.

Cleaning out my closet after every season has been something I’ve done for years. If I haven’t worn it in a year, it goes to thrift (or family/friends.) What I’ve noticed in myself in more recent years is that I am becoming more and more discerning in terms of what I bring home in the first place. I still have the occasional impulse-buy but mostly I ask myself the “joy-question” on the front end and – perhaps more importantly – I ask myself if I truly need it.

this is my closet. i know, right?

So Kondo would approve. But that’s the easy part, she starts with clothing and moves her way through your house leaving sentimental items to the very end. (Side bar: I’d LOVE to see her try and talk me and my hubby into parting with sentimental things. That would make for some hilarity on her show, methinks. “But my son drew that picture for me in grade two and now he’s a filmmaker! I can’t possibly part with that!” or “I’ve had this Ottawa Athletic Club towel since I was 22! I loved that job!” – and then you’d hear the story of all the famous people who came into the Ottawa Athletic Club when my husband was on shift and how he knew exactly what all their needs were and… you get the picture.)

i do like her method for stacking t-shirts vertically. makes them much easier to see

So I’m realizing that I’ve intuitively been doing that around which Kondo has built an empire (sigh) but now I need to take it to the next level, moving beyond my clothes and filing cabinets to other rooms are areas in my house.

What I appreciated about the Vancouver Sun article today was a quote from the manager of the Union Gospel Mission thrift shop. Like many thrift shops, they give away a number of items to people who are in need.

“It’s really cool to see that something that may not spark joy anymore being life-changing to another person if you donate it.”

That’s the beauty of thrift, right?

Have you been influenced by the Kondo-Effect? How’s that going for you?

*Disclaimer: I may have exaggerated the state of my/your child’s bedroom. Pretty sure all the dust bunnies that used to live in my son’s room were inert.

Posted in kondo effect, thrift, thrift lifetstyle | Tagged , , , , , ,

Fluevog Find!

This Fluevog pin is about the only thing Fluevog that I can afford!

I love Fluevog shoes. If you’re unfamiliar with John Fluevog and you love shoes, you need to acquaint yourself with this artist. He creates the most amazing shoes: unique, quirky, statement pieces that you can spot a mile away.

These shoes took a starring role in Bard’s “As You Like It” this past summer. I love that Fluevog supports the arts!

This past summer, Bard on the Beach put on a production of “As You Like It”, set in the 60s in Vancouver. The female characters were all wearing Fluevogs and all the women in the audience knew it – you could hear them discussing the shoes!

John Fluevog is a Vancouver shoemaker but his shoes are sold all over the world. They are amazingly comfortable. I love that he includes little messages on the soles of all his shoes, words to remind you of good things. I visited their flagship store in Gastown, Vancouver, several years ago just to try a pair on. It felt like I’d been wearing them for years. Oh my.

Here’s the thing, though; as with all good art, his shoes cost a fortune. (Insert heavy sigh here). For years I’ve said, “I’m waiting for a pair of Fluevogs to come into a thrift shop in my size.”

Well this past Friday (the 23rd of November) half of that wish came true. I was at the MCC Thrift Shop in Abbotsford and Liane, the boutique lady, approached me and said “Guess what came in? Fluevogs!” Alas, they were not in my size – they are a size 9 – but they’re in great shape and I love the message on the bottom of each boot. There was a time when I might have bought them to resell them but I’m not that interested in the resale side of thrifting anymore. So, if you’re a size 9 and you want a chance at a deal on Fluevogs, go check them out – they might still be there!

Anyone out there ever found a pair of ‘vogs at a thrift shop?

Posted in second hand, shoes, thrift, thrift legends, Thrift Shopping | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Happy National Thrift Store Day

I don’t know who decided that today is National Thrift Store Day and it’s not like any of us thrifters need a special reason to thrift shop but heck, if it gets someone new into a thrift store, all the more reason to celebrate!

Here’s why you should support thrift – not just today but always:

1. Thift shopping is a great way to help us rethink consumerism. Why buy a new item when a used one is just as good? Ask yourself why you purchase anything and why it has to be new.

2. Thrift shopping is great for the environment. Shopping and donating to thrift keeps perfectly usable things out of the landfill and is the best way to recycle.

  1. Thrift shopping supports charity. Nearly all thrift shops support some kind of charitable cause either locally (like the Salvation Army) or overseas (like the World Serve I blogged about last time) or both (like Mennonite Central Committee).

  1. Thrift shopping supports volunteerism. Many thrift shops run almost completely on volunteer-power or with minimal staff. Volunteering is good for your physical and mental health – a great way to support your community and your favourite causes.

Piggy Bank and canadian dollars close up shot

  1. Thrift shopping saves you money. Do I have to explain that?

love the Vancouver skyline in this shirt

So I did my part today and stopped by the local Sally Ann. One of the things I”ve been looking for is a new Whitecaps T-shirt for my sweetheart. We are season ticket holders and love our boys in Blue&White but their merch costs an arm and a leg. This t-shirt is in great shape and sweetheart will look fabulous while showing his team pride.

yes, mom, i promise to iron this before i wear it

I also found this Cleo tank in great shape – it’ll come in handy next week when we’re supposed to go back to 30+C (is anyone else done with summer? I need autumn to start soon!)

And because it’s National Thrift Store Day, I got all this for $2.10. See what I mean? Get out there any/today and support your local Thrift Shop/s!

Why do you shop thrift?

Posted in National Thrift Store Day, second hand, thrift, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

White Rock Win!

A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to visit an area of White Rock to which I had never been and wouldn’t you know it, there was a really cute little thrift shop right across the street from my lunch place. Naturally, I had to stop.

The World Serve Thrift Store supports churches worldwide with pastoral training and Bible distribution as well as famine relief, community health initiatives, micro-business projects and more. It is a uniquely  Canadian ministry and one of the ways they support their work is with 3 thrift shops, one here in BC, one in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan.

The White Rock store is a nice size – not too big and not too small – and even though it’s in the ground floor of a larger building it is bright and well laid out.

love the creative use of furniture

The displays were very well done, clothing nicely organized, and the fitting rooms were a good size too.

loved this display

i really liked their fitting rooms – clean, nice size, chair, nice mirror. could have used one more hook.

I scored some nice things: a pair of brand new Dockers for my sweetheart and a brand new bra for me. Dear reader, neither of us are going to model those things for you. Sorry.

check out the good condition of the soles

But I will show you this score: I found these beautiful Clark sandals for just $6. If only I’d found them a week earlier! These were exactly what I needed for a garden wedding I attended recently. But no matter, I’ve worn them quite a bit already. They are comfortable and pretty and in such great shape!

pretty and comfy!

And here’s a bonus for you: aren’t my nails pretty too? I get the best pedicures at Nail Queens: nails and cuticles trimmed, foot and leg massage (with hands AND with hot rocks), all the dry skin and callouses dealt with and then this artistry, all done free hand. It only costs me $35 for all of this and for me, it’s worth it for the foot care alone; the pretty nails are just a bonus.

Have you just happened upon a thrift shop on your adventures this summer? Tell me where!

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

Thrift Mentors in Victoria Part 2

My sister, Benita and my mom, Susan next to the cool wall mural at the WIN Restore on Cook St. in Victoria

I already mentioned last time how much my mom has mentored my sister and I in terms of thrift shopping. She just instilled in us a desire to find great quality products at a fraction of the price and made thrifting cool before that was a thing. (Thrifting is totally cool, right? Can I get an ‘Amen’?)

The three of us with our treasures!

My sister is also one of my favourite thrift partners – she just has a nose for treasures, like some weird sixth sense that helps her zone in past the junk to the gold.

So naturally, when the three of us decided to take a trip to Victoria for a weekend, we had to build in some thrift shopping. One of my favourite thrift shops is the WIN Restore. There are several of these in Victoria and they all support Women In Need – such a great acronym. There huge shop on Pandora didn’t yield the treasures we’d hoped for (although I did find a really nice shirt for my sweetheart) but the newly refurbished WIN on Cook Street was a jackpot. We all found something.

My mom is jewelry nut – she always says her first words were “ear rings”. So naturally, she gravitated to the jewelry cabinet and found these beauties.

Mom bought this beautiful bracelet as a gift for a friend

The ring and ear rings were not sold as a set but mom thought they went together well.

My sister is a grandma (yes, I am SO jealous) and found these super cute Peanuts Vans for her grandson

We gravitate towards Charlie Brown themed stuff for Kian because he was born with a Charlie Brown head and only recently started growing hair!

Also this fun Pete the Cat books – the illustrations in here are great and when Pete breaks into rock and roll, well.

any other Pete the Cat fans out there?

Not that she was only shopping for him, she also found this great shirt for herself.

Lands End clothing is usually great quality

And I scored this cute Eddie Bauer skirt, perfect for the smokin’ hot days we’re experiencing in Abbotsford this week.

gotta love clothes with pockets!

Who are your thrift mentors?

Posted in family, second hand, thrift legends, thrift lifetstyle, Thrift Mentors, Thrift Shopping, thrift shops, travel | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Thrift Mentors and Fun in Victoria, Part One

Me, my mom and my sister – my two favourite thrifting companions!

I don’t know about you but my sister and I learned to thrift from an expert: my mom. If you google what it means to “get blood from a stone”, you’ll find her bio. This is the woman who always had 2 months rent in the bank, managed to give us camp, holidays, Disneyland, piano lessons and more, first on a housekeeper’s salary and eventually on the salary of a care aid (a job she LOVED.) She managed to buy a house and retire mortgage-free and part of what enabled her to do this was being careful with her money and living frugally. Mom canned food, baked her own bread and desserts, and always shopped thrift. If she didn’t have money for it, she didn’t buy it. If she could get it cheap, she did. She also gives back to her community – she volunteers at her church and also at the local MCC Thrift Shop, which she loves doing. Today, she is blessing her daughters with all kinds of gifts including a weekend away to Victoria to see the sites and, of course, to thrift.

Government House, Victoria BC

Today, I’m going to share with you a great thrifty travel-to-Victoria tip. We learned that Government House, the ceremonial home of all British Columbians and the home of the Lieutenant Governor, gives free tours one Saturday a month. It just so happened that we hit that Saturday when we visited in July. It was awesome.

(I’ve created some photo mosaics below, just click on them for a larger view)

The tours are led by volunteers, our tour guide was an historian and she was great. We learned all about the things that happen at Government House – like swearing in ceremonies of government, awarding of the Order of British Columbia, military dances, and more. The current house if the third house to sit on this spot, the previous two burnt down, quite spectacularly.

Lieutenant Governor David Lam was the first Chinese-Canadian to hold this position and he was also responsible for the amazing gardens that surround Government House. The gardens can be visited all year long, also for free. They are amazing and they are cared for by an army of 400 volunteers.

The property is also home to the Costume Museum, which displays a large variety of period clothing worn by visitors and residents of Government House. The museum is in the former Carriage House and entry is by donation. Cary Castle Mews and Tea Room is also here and is open from May to August. They serve light lunch fair and desserts at reasonable prices.

We spent nearly 5 hours here touring the home and gardens and even at that we didn’t see it all. We did a number of other typical touristy things in Victoria but my mom, my sister and I all agreed that this was the highlight of our weekend away, and IT WAS FREE. In fact, if you live in BC, it’s technically your house, so you really should go see it at least once.

This is not Government House, it’s FanTan Alley, a cool gateway to Victoria’s Chinatown. Just to show you we did other stuff too.

Next time, I’ll tell you about our thrift adventures and show off the things we scored!

Posted in thrift, thrift lifetstyle, travel | Tagged , ,

Success on Salt Spring

sail boats could be seen all over the coast of Salt Spring Island

My sweetheart and I recently visited Salt Spring Island for the first time. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been on nearly every other gulf island but not the biggest one! It’s a beautiful place that lived up to its reputation of being a hippy-haven, filled with super creative craftspeople, artists and artisans, great organic food and gorgeous seaside vistas.

the famous Saturday market – it was busy when we were there but in July and August, the locals say it is over -run with tourists

We took advantage of a BC Ferries deal (I get the e-newsletter but you can also check out their regular promotions here) and stayed three nights in a rustic cottage place called Green Acres Resort (“resort” is pushing it). The cottage was on St. Mary’s Lake and was well situated for us to go exploring. We went on a hike every day, visited the famous Saturday Market, drank Salt Spring Island beer,  cider, and gin, and of course, visited thrift shops.

For a small island, I was impressed that they have two thrift shops and a consignment store. I didn’t visit the consignment place but hit both thrift shops. Here’s the scoop:

Transitions Thrift Store

we think that there must be a market for thrift store awnings – don’t they all look like this?

This is right in Ganges (the main village on the island) and is tucked in behind the main drag. Transitions supports Island Woman Against Violence, supporting crisis services to women and children on the gulf islands.

The shop is not large but is well laid out and has some really nice displays. Items were reasonably priced and the quality of the goods they offered was good.

i really loved this creative display

Everything was clean, no stains on clothes, lots of name-brand things. Volunteers seemed to know a lot of the customers, which always tells me something about the character of a place. I didn’t find anything for myself here but that’s just thrifting sometimes.

Lady Minto Thrift Store

This shop was a little bit outside of Ganges, closer to where we were staying. Lady Minto supports the hospital auxiliary and is staffed by nearly 60 volunteers. It was a hoppin’ place when we stopped by on Saturday afternoon.

The store is a little larger than Transitions and while it didn’t have the same kind of character that Transitions had, it had lots of good quality products on display. I did come away with a couple of things:

love skorts, they’re so practical

i also like the Puma logo – so sleek

This golf skort by Puma, in perfect condition, only $2

not a colour i’d normally wear but it actually looks pretty good on me!

This Jessica tank just a buck. I love the keyhole detail.

If I lived on Salt Spring I’d definitely frequent these two shops both for their contents and the good causes they support. Have you ever been to Salt Spring? What’s your favourite part?

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