Thrift stores receive several donations of wool socks every year in the fall.
People start to pull out and sort through the plastic bins of their winter wear and woolen socks don’t make the cut. The socks may have a small hole in the toe or maybe they have moved and the temperatures don’t dip as far below zero.
But there is a secret use for those wool socks — avocados.
My husband and I eat about seven avocados a week — on toast, with homemade food truck tacos or as a topping on baked potatoes. It’s a staple in our vegan-ish diet.
But they aren’t always eat ready when we purchase them in the grocery store in the small Canadian town we call paradise. That’s where the sock comes in. Putting hard avocados into a wool sock helps them ripen evenly. Some people put one avocado per sock — but we will put three or four into the woolen thigh-high with no problems.
Best part? Wool socks can be purchased for as little as $1 a pair at local thrift stores.
So big, in fact, that our wedding reception five years ago was a pancake feed complete with all the toppings!
During the work week, Mike and I have the same old same old breakfast — avocado toast with fresh fruit. It’s when the weekend hits that our mornings take on a different flavour. We make waffles, egg birds nests and pancakes.
I was just starting to think that our weekend breakfast blowouts needed a bit of a change when a new item came into theCommunity Services Thrift Storesorting room (where I volunteer on Mondays).
That item was a new Pancake Puffs pan, still in the original packaging. What took this item over the top was the sticker on the box that read, “As Seen On TV!”
In short, how could I turn it down?
To maximize space and save on clutter, Mike and I try to stay away from single use items like the famous Quesadilla machine or the classic Sandwich Maker. So, this item was a bit of a splurge for a morning of yummy goodness.
But the price couldn’t be beat.
It took an immeasurable amount of will power to wait until the weekend to fire up the cast iron pan and whip up my fluffy pancake batter.
The puffs made were about the size of a golf ball. Putting them into a bowl smothered in yogurt and berries was just this side of breakfast heaven.
But I didn’t stop there. I decided that the chili I was going to make needed cornbread floaties (my terminology). It was just as easy to create little baked hush puppy-esque garnishes.
Needless to say, this item is far from being a uni-tasker. It is an item we experiment with and create new baked goodness to go with our meals.
This thrift store find was well worth the fiver spent to add it to our kitchen.
While pulling my volunteer shift at Community Services Thrift Store in Gibsons, BC, I came across a blast from my past in the $2 jewellery bin: a puka shell necklace.
Puka shell necklaces were THE thing when I was in high school. Guys and girls wore the white shell choker to school everyday. They looked best during September when we all still had our summer tans and the necklaces glowed against our skin.
I went through at least three of the delicately strung beads. They never really suited me. I was too pale with dirty blond hair that hung straight and slightly awkward. I was an introvert, nerdish . . . even bit of an outcast. The shell choker helped to hide my too long giraffe neck.
Needless to say, high school was not my favourite time of my life.
According to WikiPedia, puka shells are “naturally occurring bead-like objects which can be found on some beaches in Hawaii. Each one was the beach-worn apex of a cone snail shell, a kind of seashell from a sea snail. Puka is the Hawaiian word for “hole” and refers to the naturally occurring hole in the middle of these rounded and worn shell fragments often made into necklaces.” The necklaces became popular in the 1960s and, due to tourism and folklore, skyrocketed in the 1970s.
Why the trend in my high school days? Well, there is the theory that fashion sees a rebirth every 20 years, which would put it on mark for making a comeback right about now.
I have another theory.
Working in a thrift store, every volunteer shift is a stroll down memory lane. From Cabbage Patch Kid dolls to the same crock pot my mother had to a set of puka shells, there is also something on the shelves to remind me of a different time where I was different, the world was different and my dreams were different.
It’s interesting to see how I’ve changed while holding an item from my past. It’s almost a window into how I once was but with the vision to see how far I have come from my high school years.
For those wondering, I bought the puka shells. My hair is still straight and slightly awkward. I am a bit more tan now that I live on the coast of BC. Still a bit of an introvert, outcast — but I wear it proudly now.
Needless to say, life got better after high school.
There is something about connecting with that awkward teenager from the 90s. The one who never thought she would be comfortable in her own skin. Paying $2 to realize just how far I’ve come . . . priceless.
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.
I 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.