Back to Brooches – My New Bling Love

Brooches played a big part in an extraordinary life event.

DIY Brooch BouquetFor my wedding, I created a homemade tear apart brooch bouquet? It was designed to be two bouquets — one going to my mom and one to my husband’s mother as a thank you during the ceremony.

It would be five years before the accessory would become my new bling love.

I don’t have an extensive collection of jewelry. I have very few necklaces, rings, bracelets, and earrings. The reason? I am allergic to nickel.

Porcelain Brooch - Thrift StoresNickel allergy affects 17% of women and 3% of men and is the common cause of contact dermatitis — an itchy rash that appears where your skin touches a usually harmless substance.  Nickel can be found in earrings, zippers, necklaces, rings, cell phones and eyeglass frames.

The only pieces of jewelry I can wear is the items made of sterling silver or over 14k gold.

That was until I rediscovered brooches.

I am a volunteer at Community Services Thrift Store every week. I sift through the donations, price and put them on the store floor. And we get a lot of unique items.

20170708_090206Brooches are one of those items that get donated as people clean out their closets, go through a loved one’s possessions or just reduce their clutter. They may be considered “dated” and more heirloom than functional.

We receive brooches made of porcelin, metal, and gemstones. Some are priceless, and some are just modern pieces of art.

For me, brooches give me a pop of colour.  I have a conversation piece of jewelry that doesn’t come in contact with my skin.  I can enhance my outfit with some bling that doesn’t leave a rash.

I have even started making my own fashion pins from leftover fabric.

The way I see it, my obsession with secondhand brooches is a win-win-win scenario. My purchase helps the thrift store and gives a new home to an amazing piece while adding bling to my outfit.

20170508_190448Win. Win. Win.

Do you have a brooch with special meaning? Have you found a gem at your local thrift store? Tell me about it!

Thrift Store Find: Retro Carry-On

The days before I am scheduled to lift-off on vacation, I struggle with what to take with me on the airplane. Should I use a backpack? Just a purse? What about the pinstripe messenger bag?

What determines which bag gets to go comes down to what it is I anticipate needing on the flight. Shorter the flight, surprisingly the more pockets and features I need. For instance, I would need a side mesh pocket to hold my coffee cup.

I don’t take the wheeled or small carry-ons onto the plane. I want to haul fewer items through the airport, security, customs and around the waiting area. There is no sense in dragging all my possessions into the cramped airport bathrooms just so I can save five minutes at my destination.

20170706_141951I mentally evaluated my travel habits as I stood in front of the purse and bag display at the Gibsons Salvation Army Thrift Store. There, hanging by its chunky shoulder strap, was my destiny.

And by destiny, I mean a retro carry-on bag.

It was big, bulky and absolutely beautiful. It didn’t have easy access pockets or a music player pocket with earbud port. There wasn’t a cellphone or mesh beverage pocket.

In spite of that, the bag was calling me. I think my traveling experience is shifting a bit. Instead of being go-go, I find myself sitting down in cafes and sipping my coffee. Maybe my bag could reflect my new appreciation for slowing down on vacation.

I love the idea of retro suitcases – bags meant for taking that one big vacation a year. I imagine all of the planes, trips and even honeymoons the vintage bag has been a part of.

But am I just investing in a conversation piece rather than a functional piece of luggage?

I thought about the piece of luggage as I sifted through sweaters, shirts and home decor pieces. I mentally weighed and measured the want versus the potential for use. I tried to imagine the person who would use the luggage.  I tried to envision me using it — as I caught a bus, ferry, trains, and planes.

Mostly, I wondered what it would feel like to leave the small thrift store without the bag in hand. Would I forget about it once I got home? Or would there be a part of me that felt like I walked away from my dream bag?

When it came time to head to the checkout counter, I swung by the purses and picked up the bag. It was on sale for 50% off $4.50. $2.25 for a new travel bag can’t be beaten.

I took the bag home and put in a few items that I would be carrying on my next trip — a week long vacation in France.

I think there is an old soul in me that seeks to see the world. I want to be the person who takes trips that feed my curiosity and inspire my writing.

This bag is me. I’m glad we found each other.

Vintage travel bag - thrift store finds
Added some burlap decor