New handbag… what I had in mind and what I got

I’ve been a handbag-a-year type girl for a while now. I buy one handbag and use it pretty much every day for a year (depending on the quality of the chosen bag). I don’t like having to switch my stuff from one bag to another every day or even every few days, so I end up using the same bag throughout the week and it’s life span.

Here is an overview of the bags in my life:

  1. My everyday handbag;
  2. a duffel bag and a carry on suitcase that I can use for day trips and longer trips; and
  3. a couple of evening bags/special occasion bags.

My lifestyle helps shape my handbag criteria:

My criteria (based on the above and preferences made through trial and error over the years):

– straps long enough to fit easily over the shoulder, even if I’m wearing a coat;
– structured enough to not be floppy, but not too rigid and formal;
– a neutral colour (to go with black and brown boots and multiple coat colours) or a clashing colour that goes with everything because it goes with nothing;
– not too heavy;
– taller than it is wide, with plenty of space for a notebook and umbrella, plus other small odds and ends, without cramming;
– has a top zipper;
– hardware is not over the top or obvious;
– not a cross-body style;
– a couple of inside zip sections and an outside card slot;
– should stand upright by itself; and
– looks good whether it has a lot of stuff in it or just the essentials.

After recently spending a few days lugging about a shoulder strap bag and becoming increasingly distracted by the pain it caused, my search expanded to include fashionable backpacks in the options.

Continue reading “New handbag… what I had in mind and what I got”

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Lounge wear criteria

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My attention was drawn to my lounge wear the other day because the stacks were becoming untidy. Sorting through the stacks I realised that it had unwittingly turned into a dumping ground. Items of clothing that had been downgraded from other parts of my wardrobe were now hanging out with genuine lounge wear. A pair of jeans, not good enough for casual weekends but maybe I’d use them if i ever had to do some painting (this is so rare an occasion I don’t know why the thought continues to pop into my head); a print shirt, with a red wine stain that I may one day stop seeing; and a daggy shirt that I don’t know why I bought.

One reason that this dumping ground has occurred is because my resolve to get rid of unsuitable items immediately was in need of a refresher.

I felt guilty for not having used these items as much as I could have or for having bought them at all so I instead tried to repurpose them. When this works it’s great but unfortunately I’d lost sight of the purpose of lounge wear. To relax in!

My lounge wear is roughly three outfits made up of a combination of purpose bought and repurposed pieces, that are comfortable and funky. A specific criteria that I have for lounge wear is to ask myself the question “would I be embarrassed if someone rang the door bell and I had to answer wearing this?” Doing this lets me weed out items that don’t work and helps me focus in on how my lounge wear supports me feeling good at home.

Clearing the dumping ground allowed me to go through the items and properly let them go. Lounge wear that feels relaxing and good is what I want; what I don’t want is to be worrying about future paint jobs that may never occur!

The organising apps that keep my supplies in order

I gave a friend of mine an eye drop vial that I had in my handbag to relieve her itchy eyes and she said ‘I should make a point of carrying these but I always forget’. Which got me thinking about what it is that I do to ensure that I always have ‘handbag stock‘. Handbag stock includes bandaids, pain killers, eye drop vials and a muesli bar.

My system is to notice when my handbag supply needs replenishing, make a reminder in my Samsung calendar app and make sure that I top up my supply that evening at home.
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It’s also through this app that I keep track of when to refresh my mascara (every 3 months) and electric toothbrush head (every month and a half).

I recently wrote about product placement in the home. Following on from that another way I use ‘placement’ to keep myself organised is to mentally assign areas with specific tasks. For example, I know that if there are items (papers, tins of tuna) on a spot of carpet directly in line with the bedroom door that they need to go to work with me. Another placement is that if things are placed on the second stair I know that I need to take them up to my room the next time I pass by. It’s somewhat like bookmarking but to anyone else it would be invisible.

And linking back to replenishing my handbag. At work I will often jot a note on a Post It (things to do, things to buy etc.) which I then put in the same pocket in my handbag at the end of the day. It’s become habit to empty this pocket when I arrive home and action the pile as soon as possible.

A great app that is starting to replace the amazing physical Post It, in my world anyway, is Action Memo (which is an inbuilt app on the Samsung Note – though there are other Post It inspired apps available). It’s a great tool that allows me to make quick notes in scrawly hand writing while on the go.
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The symbolism behind removing labels

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I was having a pedicure the other day and my eyes fell upon the bin in the corner. It still had the label on it, one of those ones with a bar code and a handy image of a bin in action in an office space. My initial reaction was ‘why wouldn’t you just remove the label before putting the bin to work?’ and I immediately ran through how easy it is to get those things off with a little tea tree oil.

Further thinking on the bin’s predicament (not much else to do really while my toes were being pampered and primed) made me consider the effect it had had on me. I felt like the presentation of the spa had slipped; there was a rushing feeling around it which cheapened the spa design and feel. The bin didn’t feel like a part of the spa, it felt like it still belonged somewhere like Big W and the information contained on the label was rather distracting.

As Marie Kondo states in her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying, which I reviewed a month ago,”by eliminating excess visual information that doesn’t inspire joy, you can make your space much more peaceful and comfortable.” Removing the printed labels off of supportive items (bins, plastic tubs and other storage devices), allows these items to work seamlessly with the space around them rather than ambushing users with redundant visual information.

The same goes for removing tags from new clothes. When I buy a new item I remove the tag immediately and find a place for it alongside my other clothes, this act, as Kondo points out, ‘welcomes the item into your home’. The intention is there that they will become a part of your life and space. I find it incredible that people have items in their wardrobe that have never been worn AND still have the tags attached. The fact that those tags are still attached makes me question whether those clothes ever had a chance to become a part of a wardrobe’s rotation. As Kondo says “in order for your clothes to make the transition from store products to personal possessions, you need to perform the ritual of cutting the “umbilical cord” that links them to the shop”.

So go on, perform the ritual, help your purchases feel at ease and encourage them to be a part of your space and life.

The wonders of Bicarb Soda

I love items that have multiple purposes. It’s less items to have in your space and your money does more work for you.

One such item is Bicarb Soda.

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This stuff is incredible – it’s a cooking product, it’s a beauty product, it’s a cleaning product and so much more. I’m continually finding new uses for it and my confidence grows and grows in its power with every experience.

A few of my favourite (non-cooking) uses…

  1. Dry shampoo – Distribute as much Bicarb Soda as you need through your hair (I’ve found it’s best not to get too much directly on your scalp) and then brush and style as normal to blend its appearance.
  2. Body exfoliant – Bicarb Soda can serve as an invigorating treat of a body scrub. Make a paste of Bicarb Soda and water to the consistency of your preference and then rub in a gentle circular motion to exfoliate  your skin.
  3. Polish jewellery – To shine tired looking silver jewellery, combine three tablespoons Bicarb Soda with half the amount of water. Rub onto the jewellery piece with a clean cloth or toothbrush and then rinse thoroughly and dry. For a fantastic article on caring and cleaning for costume jewellery head over to Beck & Boosh Inc.
  4. Revive sports clothes – When sports clothes start retaining that sweaty odour that a normal wash can’t cut through, I add a cup of Bicarb Soda to the wash cycle and vinegar to the rinse cycle and viola! My sports clothes come back to health.
  5. Deodorise bins Sprinkle Bicarb Soda on to the bottom of your bin to keep gross smells from creeping further afield.
  6. Deodorise shoes – Similar to above. Reduce odours from spreading in shoes by sprinkling Bicarb Soda into them when they are off duty. Make sure to shake the Bicarb Soda out before wearing though!
  7. Lift red wine from carpets – After blotting the spill, apply a Bicarb Soda paste (mix a three to one ratio of water to Bicarb Soda) and apply it to the spill. Once the paste has dried, vacuum the Bicarb Soda up.
  8. Smelly clogged drains – Pour a cup of Bicarb Soda followed by one cup of hot vinegar down the shower or kitchen drain to unclog and freshen the pipes.
  9. Clean stained mugs – Put a teaspoon of Bicarb Soda onto the bottom of the stained mug, add a little water to form a paste, and scrub with a toothbrush – just like new!

Knotty necklaces knots in time

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Generally I will put my accessories and clean items of clothing from the day’s outfit away before I get to bed. I have a much better sleep knowing that everything is in its place and I feel fresh and uncluttered the next morning when getting ready for the day ahead. Recently I was feeling a little tired (but not extremely tired – so really I was just being lazy) and rather than going through with my routine, I thought ‘Stuff it!’ and I left everything in a pile including the delicate gold necklace that I had worn that day. This particular necklace is quite demanding and needs to be stored on a cardboard backing… even at the time I knew I was being bold to neglect it…

The next day, I went to wear the necklace again and sadly found it in a tangled knot. This reminded me of a quote that has stuck with me for so long that I cannot recall where I first read it (or the exact phrasing) but it’s along the lines of “not practicing IS practicing”. Basically the consequences of not doing something that is in your best interest, reminds you how very good it is to do that thing – so it’s almost as good as doing that thing as it confirms the action’s value.

For example:

Best interest: Exercise, meditation, brushing your teeth, moisturising your heels, setting up direct debits.

Consequence: Harder to get moving the next time, feel stressed throughout the day, teeth feel yuck, heels crack, late fees accrue.

Well, the ultimate consequence was that it took me half an hour to untangle my necklace… with a bright light and a pair of tweezers I got there in the end but it was something I could have avoided.

HINT: Find a place on the knot and take hold with the tweezers, hold the tweezers up and use your fingers or another pair of tweezers to take the other side and wiggle to loosen the chinks till the knot starts to unfold.

The lesson I took from the experience was that giving into my laziness actually deprives me of more time takes more time. So the next time I’m feeling like giving in, I’ll remember this occasion and just get the job done rather than risking another knotty necklace. Practice practiced.

Letting things go – Marie Kondo style

Last week I was raving about Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. This week I’m narrowing my rave to the rather large topic of letting go…

A definite highlight of the book are the strategies that Kondo offers around this topic. The concepts that she discusses assist with overcoming guilt and combating common arguments that arise when it’s time to let a possession go.

Continue reading “Letting things go – Marie Kondo style”

Book Review: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

 

books-165557_1920I had heard a lot about Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying, before one of my favourite blogger’s posted about his experience of implementing the KonMari method (you can read about it here) and I just had to read it. Well! I don’t know why I waited so long. I greatly enjoyed it! So much so that I looked forward to bedtime so that I could keep reading it – something I haven’t experienced in a while. It’s an accessible and easy read, and worthwhile even if you aren’t obsessed with organising.

I found that I had much in common with Marie Kondo. Many of her ideologies and feelings about decluttering resonated with me and reading about her frustrations with less tidier family members made me laugh. Out. Loud. She recounts childhood stories of forcing objects on her family members because she didn’t want to throw them out. In effect decluttering her area but adding stress to theirs. I had a similar but much more sneaky method. I would place objects in others’ rooms while they were out. Until my family had had enough we’d have countless conversations that went like this:

Family member: ‘What is this [owl figurine/skirt/wire basket]? Did you put that in my room?’

Me: ‘I thought you’d like it/need it!’

Family member: ‘Well, I don’t.’ or ‘Maybe…’

Continue reading “Book Review: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo”

In case something goes wrong later… keep all records

shopping-879498_64097% of the time I will take a copy of my receipt. Cafes, bars, ATMS and of course stores. My parents have always done this and they often state that it’s good to check your receipts against your bank statements… just in case.

My mum taught me to always take a receipt from the ATM, just in case the machine happened to not give you the right amount of money. I’ve also taken on her preference of packing away receipts into my wallet rather than letting the shop attendant fold it up, all pretty like, with the clothes and tissue paper as they like to do. From memory it was something to do with if you were to get robbed then you’d have proof of what was taken? She’s lived in a few interesting cities so I just took her word for it that this is good practice.

I keep my receipts in a gift bag in chronological order each year from June to June (Australia’s financial year) and I hold on to two years worth at a time. I find this system easy to maintain. I keep an eye on receipts building up in my wallet and when there are enough I move them over to that year’s gift bag, I make sure that the new bunch is added to the back (a handy *star* helps me to mark which side of the bag is the front) and off I go.

Due to the chronological order, if I happen to need a receipt I just have to have a vague date in mind as guidance to sift through the receipts. It’s an option to implement a dividing system but I don’t mind strolling down memory lane, appreciating all that my money has done for me and the good times represented by many of the receipts (a great meal out with a friend, a massage or a pedicure).

An added bonus of this system is that I exercise my consumer rights when I need to. If an item fails to live up to standards, within a reasonable time frame, I can go back to my receipts and approach the store about rectifying the issue with confidence (though, you can use your bank statement as proof too). Because sometimes it’s the difference between having a receipt and feeling like this…

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and that makes keeping records worthwhile.

Cheap cinema outings every day of the week

imageDon’t you hate that feeling when you go to a movie, completely pumped and it really wasn’t worth your time or the ticket price? Well there are a number of ways that planning ahead will make a trip to the movies cheaper and those disappointing choices less palpable.

  1. Eating your way to discount tickets – cinemas will often make deals with restaurants nearby which can make for a cheaper outing. One of my favourite deals is the Movie Stack deal at the Pancake Parlour, a short pancake stack and an adult movie ticket for $19 makes for a great Sunday!
  2. Memberships – most cinemas have a movie club that you can pay to join that will get you discounted movie tickets all year round and they also usually have discounts on food, birthday bonuses and such initiatives as see four films and get the fifth free.
  3. Entertainment booklets – some of the best deals for groups can be found in these.
  4. Unions, Insurance or Gym Membership bonuses –
    • For example:
      • NRMA members can get up to 35% off full priced Event Cinemas movie vouchers.
      • CPSU members can buy a range of discounted movie tickets for a variety of venues (including outdoor and drive-in cinemas.

But by far the one making the biggest impression on me of late is Qantas Movies which is accessible through their Loyalty Program. I’ve only recently come across it and it’s phenomenal! By buying a minimum of four vouchers (capped at a maximum of 10 at a time) you collect Qantas Frequent Flyer points and enjoy heavily discounted tickets.  They are valid for five months (unless otherwise specified) and, although it’s annoying that some of the cinemas will only accept the vouchers if printed out, you can exchange these quite smoothly at the cinemas for most standard screenings.

So the other day when I saw the new James Bond film, Spectre, rather than paying $19 I handed over a voucher that had only cost me $10. The added bonus was that I could day dream about what beautiful clothes I’d get once my Qantas points grow into a lovely David Jones voucher. Now, isn’t that a great way to pass some over the top macho action time?