Project Get Organized: Purses

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I hope everyone had successful projects with the drawer organization activity.

And for you fashion fanatics – thanks for all the tips on the leopard print shoes! I can’t wait to get some!

Now, for a new organization challenge…this time, we’re tackling the dreaded…

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PURSE!

I had some requests for purse organization tips, so I figured I’d start by looking at my purse. Unfortunately, a combination of procrastination, disorganization, and lack of systems has caused my purse to often contain a mish-mash or randomness that is not only irritating, but makes it difficult to find anything when I need it! Grr.

I have to add a side note quickly that I didn’t really think about how embarrassing it would be to post photos of my mess-making-ness on the web for all to see, but it absolutely is. So, it is with some anxiety that I share the following photos from my purse. Yikes. Here we go… :(

Assess

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This past weekend, I took a few minutes to clear out my bag. I started by taking out all the contents and putting them on the floor. Total mess, right? Yes, this photo is a real photo I took of the actual contents of my purse. I had groups of items strewn about in random pockets. But since there are only 2 pockets and 1 big main area, it was pretty much one big pile anyways. Blech.

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The primary culprit – paper!

I had all kinds of paper in my purse: coupons, notes, napkins, and mostly receipts. I had receipts everywhere!

Why did I hold on to them? The thought of “what if I need this later?” came into play. Also, “this could be useful one day” and “Oops, I forgot to take this out of my purse.” I found most of the paper items could actually be thrown away.

Sort

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After getting rid of all the paper, I sorted the rest of my items.

I had:

  • sunglasses
  • gum
  • ear phones
  • charger (half pictured – the cord was in use at the time of the photo…lol)
  • nail file (ladies, have you seen this! It has a case so your stuff doesn’t get messed up!)
  • pen
  • fabric change purse (I made it a couple years ago – it’s seen better days and probably needs to be replaced)
  • 5 lip glosses!
  • business card holder
  • and my favorite wallet – my Louis Vuitton

Create System(s)

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To really keep my purse neat, I figured the solution wasn’t going to be just the cleaning. You have to create systems. Remember, “a place for everything and everything in its place.” If something has somewhere to go, you’ll be more likely to keep things in order.

I read recently somewhere (sorry, I don’t remember the source! Maybe Real Simple?) that if your purse doesn’t have a lot of pockets, that you need to have lots of smaller pouches and bags that hold your stuff. This also makes moving to different purses very easy. Seems pretty common sense, right?

I don’t want to purchase any new change purses or mini bags at this time, so I’m going to try to use what I already have and keep my eye out for super-cute pouches that are on super-sale.

For now, this turquoise mini bag is going to be kept in my purse for my papers – my to-do lists and all those silly receipts. The plan is to put papers into this to be sorted when I get home or at a later date/time when I have time. I’ve also vowed to work harder at preventing crap from even entering my purse. If I can keep it out, it will be less to sort through at some later time. I usually am pretty good about not taking a receipt if I don’t need it, but sometimes they just give you one. I’m going to start throwing those away before they get into my purse. The rest will follow the turquoise-bag-system.

I’m also going to keep an eye out for cute mini change purses for some of my other items, because I think it would be great to maybe have one for my charger and ear phones, and also one for my collection of lip glosses.

And the existing fabric change bag will continue to be used. It’s done a good job of holding random things like coins, bobby pins, hair ties, etc. I could probably stand to have a couple smaller pouches to hold some of those items, though. Maybe I’ll sew a new one? Who knows. lol

But, I really think that implementing the small-bag system is going to be the key for me. It will be great to have my like items together in an easy-to-recognize bag. The challenge will be managing my papers, but so far, the system is working great! I just hope to keep it up! :)

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Hope you guys are enjoying my Fashion Chic posts so far! I’ve been having a lot of fun putting them together! Let me know if you ever have any fashion or food questions – feel free to email me or post on my Facebook wall. My FB wall seems to be the fastest way for me to reply. :)

Your homework: Organize your purse – assess, sort, create system(s). What’s in your purse? What is junking it up or giving you issues. How can you create a system to keep things neat and orderly?

Reader question: What are your tips to keeping your purse organized?

Project Get Organized: Kitchen Drawer 1

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For the first Project Get Organized activity, I wanted to do something simple. I tackled one of the drawers in my kitchen.

The drawer is the top one of four next to my stove. Because of its location and size, the drawer holds lots of small tools that I use frequently. In general, I like to put the items I use the most in the easiest-to-reach places. I think this is advice that most organizing books and web sites also recommend, but I also know it’s one that I’ve noticed as being very beneficial over the years.

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As you can see from this “before” photo, the drawer had gotten to the point where I was just throwing things into it with little order. As I work through Project Get Organized overall, I remind myself “A place for everything and everything in its place.” The issue with this drawer (besides me being a little lazy when using it) is that it didn’t have a place for the things it contained.

If you notice in the photo, there is a white compartmentalized box that is not functioning well. Either the items weren’t placed well in there to begin with, or the box just wasn’t a good fit for the items. Additionally, there weren’t good containers in the rest of the drawer, which caused them to be put in there somewhat haphazardly.

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Note: You can choose to either purchase storage containers prior to tackling your project or during. If you want to purchase them before, which is what I did, just pick up a few different sizes from a store with a good return policy. Once you see the sizes you need (as your work through your project), you can determine if you should purchase any additional containers or return any unused. If you prefer to purchase containers during, I’d get mine after Step 3, once I’ve estimated what sizes and shapes would work based on the size and shape of the various groups. I’ve written the following steps the way I did my project – purchasing containers first.

Step 1: Purchase storage containers

I purchased several Linus Shallow Drawer Organizers from The Container Store prior to starting my project. There are many options, but I like these because they’re clear and have neat little non-slip “feet” on the bottoms that help them stay in place. Before making my purchase, I measured the drawer to get a sense for how much space I had – width, depth, and height. Knowing that that drawer I was organizing was short and contained small items, I selected the shallow option (there are also deep ones) and chose smaller sized containers.

Step 2: Remove drawer contents and assess fit

I took all the contents of the drawer out and put them somewhere I could easily see – my kitchen countertop. I looked over everything and found a couple items I could donate, as well as a couple items that were better fits in difference areas of the kitchen. For example, I had some plastic drink lids that were pretty large and took up a lot of space in the drawer – I found a larger cabinet (where the matching cups actually were) and placed them there. I also found a couple items in the drawer that I didn’t use very often and moved those to other drawers. I wanted only frequently used (and smaller-sized) items in this particular drawer.

Step 3: Group like items

I actually did Step 2 while I did Step 1 – as I removed various items, I placed them into groups.

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Step 4: Clean drawer (and add liner, if desired)

Now that your drawer is empty, it’s a good opportunity to give it a wipe down. I also lined my drawers with this black and white liner when we moved in, so I just placed it back in the drawer.

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Step 5: Assess groups and select storage containers

Take each group of like items and determine the size/shape container that best fits it. For example, this rectangular container was a perfect fit for my group of measuring spoons.

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Step 6: Fit containers together

I took my time fitting the various containers together into the drawer – placing them in different spots and configurations until I was happy with the entire fit. I decided to keep the white compartmentalized box that had been in the drawer before, but I moved it to the back of the drawer. Next, I fit the other containers together like a puzzle. I tried putting the measuring cups into a larger rectangular container, but it didn’t seem efficient for the space – there was a lot of empty space in the container and it took up a large portion of the drawer. I decided that since the measuring cups were pretty organized if you just kept them stacked that they didn’t need their own container. I pushed them to the side and found that I could fit 3 rows of storage containers next to them in just the right amount of space.

Remember you can move items in and out of this drawer – just assess the fit (shape, size, and use) and rearrange as you like.

I also found as I went through the project that were even a couple smaller items in other drawers of the kitchen that I could move into this one. Sweet!

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And now for some “after” photos. :)

In the white container towards the back, I put small, less-used tools: a garlic press, meat thermometers, a pot spoon-holder clip, matches/lighter, timer, and a couple other random, small tools.

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Towards the front, I put more commonly used items: wine openers, wine stops, tooth picks, measuring spoons, condiment spoons, measuring cups, and garlic. (By the way, where do you keep your garlic?! )

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Now that everything has a place to go, it will be easy to maintain this system going forward. :)
Total project cost: $15.95 (5 clear containers)
I’m also hoping that this will be easy for hubby to maintain. By the way, if you have a roommate/SO, you should make sure they’re okay with you re-arranging stuff before starting. They may even be interested in helping you with the project! Just ask! Either way, consider asking for their help in maintaining the organized system you put in place. Go teamwork!

And remember, you can constantly assess your drawer and items. If you find there are other items you use more that you want to be able to access more easily, exchange them for less-used items. Always consider use, size, fit and re-organize as needed.

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Your homework (this would be a great weekend project!): Organizer a drawer. Start small. If you try to do all the drawers in home at one time, you could end up frustrating yourself or feeling overwhelmed. I know I have several other drawers I’m planning to organize, but by starting with one and seeing results, you’ll feel so good about that success, you’ll want to tackle more.

Feel free to share before and after photos – email them to me at thechiclife at gmail dot com. I’d love to see them!

Good luck!

Project Think Positive 2011 Reflections

If I’m being honest, I’m actually not the perky and happy person you see here on The Chic Life, at least not all of the time. I actually tend to be more of a negative thinker than a positive one. I’m more of a skeptic than a believer. In the past, I’d laugh off the idea of Project Think Positive. Positive thinking actually working? Sssshhhhaaaa, right. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

If anyone wasn’t sure where Project Think Positive (my August challenge to be more positive) would go, it was me. And yet, I’ve never had anything against positive thinking. I just never was quite able to force myself to try it long enough. Thus the challenge.

Very often a change of self is needed more than a change of scene. ~Arthur Christopher Benson

See this quote? The first time I read it, I thought, you’re wrong – I need to get out of this situation. But did I?

Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same. ~Francesca Reigler

I decided that trying positive thinking certainly wouldn’t hurt. And you know what? Bit by bit, day by day, and week by week, as I incorporated more and more positive thinking into my daily life, I could really feel myself changing. My situation was the same, but I was reacting to it better. I was able to laugh off things that may have pissed me off before. Let’s not get crazy. I’m not saying I was living in a freakin Disney movie or anything, but my entire day was improved with hardly any effort. The change did not require a massive diet, lifestyle overhaul, or costly procedure. Nope. I just made a couple small changes to my attitude and approach to the day. And it worked!

Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different. ~Katherine Mansfield

I think Project Think Positive is my favorite challenge to date. I really feel like I’ll take the lessons we applied with me throughout life. I believe this challenge has changed me the most…and for the better! :)

Here’s what we did for the challenge:

And so many people, myself included, were touched by this heartfelt guest post by Susan of The Great Balancing Act.

But the best part of the challenge? I know I feel great, but I’ve absolutely loved hearing about how you guys have done with the challenge – how you’ve been impacted and how it’s helped you…and how it’s helped the people around you! Reading your comments each week was wonderful! :) Thank you for participating in the challenge and for sharing your stories and insights.

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And I leave you with one last quote (a repeat, but worth repeating):

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes. ~William James

Remember to Choose Positive from this day forward!

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Details for the September challenge, Project Get Organized, will be posted soon! Check back for details.

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Did you do Positive Think Project? What did you think of the challenge and how did it affect you?

Project Think Positive {Week 2}

I hope everyone is having as much fun with Project Think Positive as I am. I’ve been pretty amazed at how far a little positive thinking goes, and I’m happy to hear from your responses that you’re achieving successful results, too.

Week 2 {Counter a Negative Thought with a Positive Act}

There was a time a couple years ago where I have was having a horrible day at work. Everything seemed to be going wrong. I was getting frustrated with everything, especially myself. As my frustration grew, I decided to do something positive rather than storming around or being all pissed off or sad. I wrote an Operation Beautiful note and, when no one was looking, stuck it to the mirror in the ladies restroom. I didn’t realize at the time that that’s exactly how Operation Beautiful got started, but after having that moment, it totally made sense. Sometimes the best way to counter negativity is to do something nice…not for you…for other people.

*This week’s challenge: Counter a negative thought with a positive act*

Example 1: You’re having a tough day and nothing seems to be going right for you. Rather than let your frustration set it and control your day, write an Operation Beautiful note.

Example 2: You’re feeling down on yourself for being so <insert word that applies to you here>. Instead of feeling bad for yourself, you sign up for a volunteer event.

There are so many ways you can do something nice for someone else. Can you think of some other ideas?

Inspiration

“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” ~Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama

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Reader Question #1: What’s a negative thought you had this week and what was the positive act you did to counter it. (if you’re too shy to share the negative thought, you can just share the positive act) :)

Reader Question #2: What are some ways you can do something nice for someone else?

Reader Question #3: What is your favorite quote on giving, love, and doing nice things for other people?

Project Think Positive {Week 1}

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I have a new challenge for you dear TCL friends! And it’s a goodie!

First off, thanks so much to everyone who voted on the next challenge via Twitter and my The Chic Life Facebook page! The choices were Project Think Positive and Project Get Organized, and while votes were almost even (by one vote), I decided to go with Project Think Positive for this month. I’m going to take August to get organized for Project Organize, so look for that one next month! Side note for the organization fans: Ooh and for those of you who are interested in Project Organize, you may want to go ahead and get a planner. I ordered the Life Planner by Erin Condren (the other calendars are super cute too) and it should be arriving very soon (whee!). The EC planner (and other custom planners available online) can take a couple weeks to make and ship, so if you want to be able to use it during the challenge month, you may want to go ahead and order it now.

Challenge Origin

How would you respond when asked what you see – how full is the mug of oatmeal:

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Of course this is that famous optimist/pessimist question. So, what do you see? Supposedly, if you see a half empty mug, you’re an pessimist. :( If you see a half full mug, you’re an optimist. :) Whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist, I think we could all use some more positive thinking in our lives. Riiiiight?

I know I do.

Challenge Details

Normally when I do blog challenges, I provide all the “rules” up front. I want to do this challenge a little different. Each week, I’ll provide a challenge for the week. But, as we progress through the month, I’d like you, if you can, to try to add the challenge for that week to the previous week. So, by the last week, you’re keeping the challenges from each week in mind.

Week 1 {Counter a Negative Thought with a Positive One}

I’ve been down a bit lately between being stressed in general and from my injury. And I’m human, I have negative thoughts occasionally. But I got pretty frustrated the other week with something random and I thought, to myself that I didn’t want to encourage all that negative energy. So, I did something to counteract it by thinking something positive. And with that, we have this week’s Project Think Positive challenge…

*This week’s challenge: For every negative thought, think a positive one.*

Example 1: If I got frustrated that I haven’t been able to teach my Zumba class in three weeks, I could counter that by being thankful that my injury wasn’t worse.

Example 2: If you’re frustrated that there’s a long line at Starbucks. You could counter that by appreciating the fact that you can afford the luxury of enjoying a Starbucks beverage (because that is something so many people in the world cannot do).

Try to find a positive way to spin your negative thought – to look at it with a more positive perspective.

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Share the Love

If you want to tweet about the challenge, I would LOVE that! Please use twitter hashtag #projectthinkpositive

I’d also love it if you shared this challenge with your friends, family, co-workers, and even blog readers (if you’re a blogger). There are a lot of share buttons at the bottom of this post (even one to email the post to someone!), so feel free to use those. Let’s spread the positive vibes people! :)

Feel free to use this button on your blog:

<a href="http://thechiclife.com/2011/08/project-think-positive-week-1.html"><img src="http://thechiclife.com/wp-content/uploads/images/ProjectThinkPositive.gif" border="0" width="180" height="180" /></a>

Inspiration

Here’s a little inspirational quote for you to enjoy:

“The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.” ~Unknown

I’ll be sharing more positive quotes during this challenge month here on the blog, as well as via twitter and Facebook, so be sure to follow me there, too!

Reader Questions

Reader Share 1: Please leave a comment with your negative thought and how you countered it.

Reader Share 2: What’s your favorite positive thinking quote? Please leave it in a comment.

Project Veg-Up Challenge

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While I have many fun challenge ideas for you guys, with summer right around the corner, I figured what better challenge to do for June than one related to all the amazing produce on the shelves and in the farmer’s markets. Like my other challenges, I want to keep this one simple – shoot to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

The Project Veg-Up Concept

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The American Dietetic Association recommends consuming at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

My fave nutrition resource, Ellie Krieger, recommends eating 2-4 servings of fruit and 3-6 servings of vegetables (more exact numbers dependent on calorie ranges).

While a lot of us eat more than enough fruits and veggies, there are many, myself included, who sometimes struggle with getting enough produce in our diet. This challenge will encourage you to consume more fruits and vegetables every day.

How to Play

Goal: Try to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day for the month of June. (Really you should be doing this every day, but you know what I mean. ;) )

Rules:

  • General: In the interest of keeping this challenge simple, I say make the rules as detailed or as loose as you want – whatever it takes to get you eating fruits and veggies.
  • What’s a serving?: This is up to you. At it’s simplest, you can just say, did I eat some broccoli? Yes. There’s a serving. I’ll be posting details about actual servings sizes over the month, but just play it by ear. If you want to measure your servings, go for it. If you want to be more lax, then just eye ball your servings.
  • How many servings should I eat? For the purposes of this challenge, we’re saying just eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. Actual serving amounts depend on many things: age, sex, activity level, target calorie consumption, etc. There are many calculators online that will tell you how many you should eat (check out the Free Tools section for one). Ellie Krieger basically says that you can’t hardly eat too many vegetables, but you should limit fruit servings to no more than 4. Check out her book Small Changes, Big Results for more information.
  • Have fun: This challenge is meant to be a positive, supportive, and encouraging way to eat more fruits and vegetables. Have fun with it! Connect with other challenge participants. Use hashtag #projectvegup on twitter to tweet about your veg/fruit intake status or share useful recipes and articles with other challenge participants. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Enjoy learning about new recipes and ways to eat your fruits and vegetables and connecting with others.

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Tips

I’ll be sharing tips in many ways:

  • Blog posts – I’ll post my personal tips, my wins and losses, lessons learned, recipes, etc. Click here to get free updates.
  • Email newsletter – I’ll share daily tips, offer encouragement, address issue areas (see next list), and send out easy recipe ideas (email thechiclife at gmail dot com with subject=”Project Veg-Up Challenge Newsletter” and I’ll get you added)
  • Facebook – I’ll post updates on how I’m doing along with useful links. Be sure to check the Discussion Boards for recipes shared with each other and other support
  • Twitter – I’ll be tweeting updates on how I’m doing with the challenge, recipe links, useful articles, etc.
  • Note: There will be some crossover between information in the various locations, but check each one so you don’t miss anything. ;)

Your Challenge Areas

I’d also like to hear what types of problems you run into when it comes to consuming fruits and veggies. Here are some issue areas I’ve heard so far:

  • I buy fruits and vegetables, but I put them in the refrigerator, forget about them, and they go bad.
  • Since it’s summer and HOT, I find it hard to actually want to eat veggies because all I want is cold fruit! Other than putting spinach in my green monster smoothies, I can’t think of any other ways to cool myself down AND get my veggies in.
  • I already have a lot to do in the morning to get ready for work and don’t have time to prep fruits/vegetables to take to work.
  • Fruits and vegetables can be expensive.
  • Fruits are messy to eat.
  • Sometimes it seems quicker and cheaper to go for packaged and frozen items.
  • Um, eating my strawberries WITHOUT heaps of Nutella. ;)
  • Eating raw veggies is hard on my IBS so I can’t eat veggies until I cook them at home in the evening.
  • Do you have a challenge with eating fruits and vegetables that you’d like to share? Please leave a comment. :)

I’ll be addressing your challenge areas via blog posts, Facebook, twitter, email newsletters, etc.

Free Tools

Serving calculator: The CDC has a neat calculator that tells you how many cups of fruits and vegetables you should eat based on your age, sex, and activity level. Click here to go to the calculator (note: 1 “cup” doesn’t necessarily equal 1 “serving”)

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Calendar Tracker: I’ve created a calendar you can print out and keep with you to track your progress. Since Ellie Krieger recommends 2-4 servings of fruits and 3-6 of vegetables, I just put circles to represent the minimum numbers for each group (feel free to draw more circles to fit your goal servings if you want). Print out this calendar and check off the circles as you get your servings in for the day. It will feel so rewarding! Just like checking something off your to-do list!! ;)

Click here to download the Project Veg-Up Calendar

The Badge

I’m working on the badge. Work has been crazy, so I’m hoping to get one created this weekend. I’ll let you know via the tip methods listed in the previous section.

The Players

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Are you playing along in the Project Veg-Up Challenge? If so, leave me a comment, whether you’re playing for the whole month, a couple weeks, a single week, a couple days, etc. and your URL if you have a blog.

  • Me
  • You?

Questions? Leave me a comment on my blog or Facebook wall/discussion boards, mention me on twitter, and I’ll answer you there. :)

Who’s In? It’s never too late to join! If June is halfway over and you just found out about the challenge, feel free to join in on the festivities! Better late than never! :)

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