Monday, November 25, 2013

Keychain Bigger Than Your Head?

Keychains are great! The little charms and trinkets that we attach to our keys help demonstrate our interests and personalities, as well as help us easily locate our keys. That's if you moderate the amount of charms you have! If your keys look like a ball of charms, you might have an issue. How are you supposed to use your keys if you can't find them in that mess! Keep yourself to one or two charms.
These charms are pretty awesome but if they were all on
your keychain, you'd have a hard time finding your keys!

Also, only keep keys that you use. No need to keep keys that you don't use. If you moved houses and still have those house keys, get rid of them. Why clutter your keychain with keys to a house that you don't even have access to?! Same thing with other keys. If you broke up with a partner whose keys you had, give them back or get rid of them. If your bike was stolen or you longer ride a bike but still have the key to the bike lock, get rid of it or give the lock and key to someone else. Keep only what you use.
Very few people can justify
having this many keys and unfortunately,
or maybe fortunately,
you are probably not one of them.

The last point I am going to make is about those key ring reward cards. Most stores that offer these cards have your information saved on their system, all you need to do is provide your email address/phone number to use your card. So basically, no need to keep the card on your keys. Don't hang them on your keychain unless your account can't be accessed through the company's system.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Just in case you were wondering, this is what my keys look like:
Simple but still descriptive of me. 
These are my keys- building key, apartment key, mail key, and a matryoshka key charm. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am obsessed with nesting dolls, thus the little matryoskha. :) I am considering getting key sleeves. Key covers protect your keys and help distinguish them if they are similar.

Aren't these the cutest key covers?! CUPPIECAKES!!!!

Now I want a cupcake. *Rummages through the fridge.* Ok bye, good luck with downsizing your keychain.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bulging Wallet?

Bulging Wallet Cure

Who doesn't love a bit of Seinfeld?!

If your wallet is anything like George Costanza's wallet, then this post is for you. And don't lie, you know your wallet looks like that, if not worse! Funny thing about wallets is, they symbolically represent our finances yet they are often the most disorganized items that we own. Is this is hint at a bigger problem? Maybe, or maybe not. One thing I know for sure is, that you want to be organized when it comes to your wallet. I have a friend (sorry for using you as an example, buddy) who has the funniest habits when it comes to wallets. She simply stuffs everything in and often has a hard time finding what she is looking for, or worse, loses or misplaces cards and important financial information. She is my inspiration for this post and I hope others who suffer from the same messy wallet syndrome are able to find this post useful. 

Let us take a look at what a conventional wallet might contain. People keep bank cards, credit cards, rewards cards, library card,  gift cards, IDs, (car and health) insurance information, cheques, receipts, money (bills and coins), coupons, stamps, movie tickets, passport, pictures, city transportation cards, business cards (personal and ones they have received), and other miscellaneous items that might fit into a wallet (I used to carry toothpicks and bandaids at one point). Now, this seems a bit much to me. I was always under the impression that wallets were for money and plastic cards, not for your medical, cosmetic, etc emergencies. If you are ever bored, do an Internet search of "what's in my wallet" and you'd be surprised at the stuff people carry around with them. Wallets have a simple purpose and we are overburdening them with our inability to control and organize ourselves. Let's change this!

I find it useful to keep only a few items in my wallet- my state ID, bank card, credit card (if you have one), money (bills and coins), health insurance card, and library card. That's it. That is all I carry in my wallet. If I receive a receipt I will keep it there until I can get home and then put it into my receipt file (I confirm that my bank statements are correct online). It wasn't always like this...oh no... I used to carry EVERYTHING in my wallet. It was pretty ridiculous but I am glad I took control. Now some of you are probably confused and think this is a joke but it isn't and here's why.

Things you don't need in your wallet and why:
1. Too many credit cards: too many credit cards mean you are more likely to be irresponsible with money. I personally believe 2 credit cards is the maximum someone should have. If you don't have the money for it, then don't buy it. :)
2. Rewards cards: almost all rewards cards can be looked up through the company's cash register system. All large or national stores/pharmacies/etc. have this information stored in their system. All you need to provide is a phone number or an email address. This means, you don't need to carry your rewards cards with you. There are some exceptions to this rule (e.g. some supermarkets or stores require to see your card) but in general this rule applies. 
3. Gift cards: they are like money, but in electronic form. I believe you should carry gift cards in a separate pouch with coupons on specific days that you dedicate to shopping. This way you don't lose them or don't unnecessarily spend money. If you must carry them, then leave them in your purse or your car. Don't clutter your wallet. 
4. Car insurance information: I don't own a car, but I think it would be a good idea to leave this is your car. 
5. Cheques: I don't know anyone who pays with cheques anymore, but in the case you do, you should have a separate checkbook to house your cheques. Most people do not use them, but if you want to have your bank/account information on hand I suggest getting the business card of the personal banker who helped you open your account and writing your bank's routing number and account number on the back of the card for reference and keeping that in your wallet instead of keeping cheques. Just make sure not to lose that because it's very sensitive information. 
6. Receipts: Don't hoard all your receipts in your wallet. Dedicate a compartment to receipts and empty every now and again. This will help eliminate bulk.
7. All the coins you have: Coins are SO bulky. Only keep a few at hand. I have a coin jar and every now and again pick up a few to have in my wallet. 
8. Coupons: again, these add bulk to your wallet. You don't even use them on a regular basis. I suggest a different pouch for these and to use them on dedicated shopping days. If you shop a lot, leave it in your car or in your purse.  
9. Stamps: I can see why people keep stamps in their wallet, but unless you send off letters often, there is no need. Plus, they get damaged in wallets. 
10. Movie tickets: If you are going to a movie today then by all means toss your ticket in your wallet, but don't keep pre-bought tickets for any event in your wallet all the time. You will lose them. 
11. Passport: Unless you are an foreigner who needs a passport on hand at all times to establish your identity, there is no need to have this in your wallet or purse. You will lose it or damage it. 
12. Numerous pictures: A picture here or there is fine, but if you have your whole family tree in there, it's time to downsize. 
13. City transportation cards: You know, it would make sense to keep these in your wallet, but I have a better suggestion. I don't like the idea of having to reach into my wallet to grab my transpiration card. What if something else falls out and I don't notice? What if someone runs up to me and steals my wallet while I am trying to pass through the turn stall? There are a ton of what ifs! I suggest using a clear case to keep and preserve your card. Place this somewhere accessible so when you reach into your pocket or purse you can quickly access it. 
14. Business cards: If you carry personal business cards, keep them in a business card holder. Nothing is more unprofessional than someone fumbling through their over stuffed wallet to hand you a bent business card. If you received someone else's card, it's ok to temporarily house it in your wallet but make sure to take it out when you get home and place it somewhere safe where you can access it if you need it. 
15. Miscellaneous items: don't carry pens, bandaids, etc in your wallet. Those have to have a home outside of the wallet. 

Additional tip: Your wallet choice significantly impacts the organization of your wallet. Try to choose something with card slots and at least 3 compartments- one for case, one for receipts, and one zippered compartment for coins.

Sort through your wallet! It'll do wonders for you. Next time you are at Target you won't be fumbling through hoards of receipts, credit cards, bandaids, tickets, and other unnecessary wallet parasites to complete your purchase. :) Good luck!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Bonus Day: 7 Day Simplicity Challenge

Writing Utensils driving you nuts? Every time you reach for a pen is it out of ink? Are all your pencils unsharpened? You can't find a highlighter or permeant marker with enough juice in it? Well, then this post is for you!

When my sister and I used to be in school (by school I mean high school and below) we used to have a mountain of writing utensils. I'm not kidding. Our desk drawers, closets, bookshelves, bags were full of writing utensils! It was pretty insane. Every time there was a back-to-school sale we would stock up on pens, pencils, erasers, markers, crayons, etc. The sad part was, we had so much at home and we didn't even know it! We wasted a lot of time and money because pens and pencils were stuffed into every open crevice. All the writing tools that we had accumulated over the years eventually had to go because, when we went off to college, we no longer needed as many writing utensils- just some pens and pencils with erasers for math (to be honest, I never used pencils for math...I always picked pens). Most of what we had, and what was working we gave away to our cousins (they were and still are of school age). We now live a more simpler life, in terms of writing tools, and I can tell you, IT'S AWESOME! Let's see what you can do to declutter:

You need to go thought your entire house- attic, basement, every drawer and cupboard- and take out all your writing tools. I mean everything! I would even include rules, protractors, compasses, erasers, scissors, etc. Bring them all out and lay them on the floor.

Ok, this is where it gets dirty. Grab your kids, your partner, whoever you can find, scraps of papers, and 3 bags. The scraps will be for testing if your writing tools work, the extra person(s) will be your help, and the three bags will help you sift through your stuff. Each bag will be a category, all very self-explanatory: Keep, Throw, Give Away.

I want you to first test each pen, pencils, marker, etc. If it DOESN'T work or has a dangerous flaw( e.g. chipped plastic that might cut your hand) put it in the Throw bag. Whatever you are left with probably still works. If you have markers, crayons, or other writing utensils that still work but no longer suit your needs consider giving them away to someone that you know will use them. If you don't know anyone, there are tons of places that take these kinds of items. Your local community center might have an arts and crafts class and would appreciate the donated supplies. Think where the supplies might be needed and call and ask if you can bring over your things. You should also take this time to get rid of duplicates in your pile, specifically non-writing utensils. There is no need to have 7 rulers and 4 compasses. What's the point. Give them away, they just create more clutter. Now this specific rule might not apply to my viewers who have children. I understand that multiples of things are needed, then by all means keep them but be sensible about it. If you have 3 kids, you probably shouldn't have 14 scissors, 4 or 5 is enough.

Now you've throw away a lot of broken items and donated a host of things that no longer fit your needs. The next step is all about organizing what you have left. There is no one way to organize because everyone has different things. People with kids or people that many writing utensils, such as artists, will need more complicated systems. I personally LOVE the idea of using shower caddies for writing supplies. Just group like items together. This is a great idea for kids because it involves them in the cleaning up process since it's so simple for them to reorganize. Even adults can use this!

If you are someone with a few writing tools left after your purge, then consider purchasing a basket or drawer insert that will house your items, such as the one below:
My family has a basket where we keep all of our writing related supplies. Staples, staplers, scissors, rulers, calculators, etc all go into the basket. Similar writing utensils are tied with rubber bands and placed inside a plastic snap pen case, which is then nestled into the basket. We only keep a few pens and pencils out in the open, the extras stay in the pen case. The items that were missing caps or were close to finishing are the ones that are out so that we use them up and then start with a fresh batch. We have pens at necessary stations- mail station, on notepad near the phone, and in a cloth pen case in our desk drawer (I use those for when I read, write thoughts down, make lists, etc). That's it. We don't have any pens floating around anywhere else.

Try purging your writing utensils collection. You'd be surprised at how much you had and how little you actually need. Send in your success stories!!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 7: Simplicity Challenge

Declutter your night table.

I absolutely hate cluttered night stands. Imagine going to bed with clutter next to you and waking up with clutter in your face! I couldn't think of anything more stressful than that. Let's declutter together.

If you have the luxury of space, keep your night stand items to a minimal. Keep an alarm (if you use one), a lamp, a book/whatever you use before bed, personal items, and water. In your drawers, place personal items like lotions, socks, eye masks, etc in drawer organizers. Keep your alarm and small decorative items on the top. It's seriously that simple. Everything else should be thrown out or relocated to a new space. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day 6: Simplicity Challenge

Clear out your linen closet!

We all have one, or a variety of it, and rarely think to declutter it. Linen closets usually become catch it all closets with towels, beach towels, medicine, sheets, blankets, gift wrapping, etc cluttering up the space. Let's fix that today. Here's how:

1. Separate all items by categories. Go through all your items and toss/donate damaged or unused blankets, towels, sheets, table cloths, etc. If you don't have twin beds, then toss those twin sets. Keep only what is necessary. If you have a family of 2 there is no need to have 20 towels! (I know people like the three sizes of towels and different towels for seasons but really evaluate whether you need that).
If you have medicine in your linen closet make sure you responsibly trash expired and non used medicine. If you have packing supplies and gift wrapping supplies, I suggest you store them on the door. The Chronicles of Home has an awesome article on this! Check it out!!!

2. Those things that you will keep must now have a home. Your closet might have non-linen items in it, that's fine. My family doesn't have the luxury to have a separate linen closet, so we have to consolidate space. Consolidating does NOT mean you have to over crowd or operate in a cluttered space. Analyze what types of non-linen items can be moved to other practical spaces in your house. If some non-linen items must stay in your linen closet, that's fine. We can work with that- all you need to measure your closet length, depth, and width to find baskets to store your items. If you need more shelves consider installing shelves or rearranging the shelves in your closet (you will have to use a drill).

3. Once you have found your baskets begin placing like items in baskets. Queens sheets should all go in one basket and full into another. Fold all sheets and place them into corresponding pillow cases and then into the baskets.

Fold towels into squares or roll them up and store them in a basket. Different size towels should go into different baskets.

Blankets are heavier and should be stored on a lower shelf. I personally like blankets to be in a tall basket on the floor.

Table cloths and napkins should be stored together in sets.

Beach towels and beach/picnic blankets I store on the highest shelf because they are seasonal items.

If you have medicine, also store that in a sealed basket on the highest shelf so children cannot reach them.

If you store extra toiletries in your linen closet, group them and store them in baskets on the second highest shelf.

Make sure not to over crowd your shelves AND baskets. And to finish off, label everything! Tada!

Side note: I don't actually believe in linen closets. I very much believe in logically uses spaces- take into account location when contemplating function. Ideally, I would store bath towels in a bathroom closet, bed sheets and blankets in a bed trunk at the food of each respective bed, table cloths in a dining room cabinet, and beach towels and blankets in a garage or mud room. Everything is where it should be. But we don't all have that space. :)

Happy decluttering!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Day 5: Simplicity Challenge


We use it every single day and yet, we rarely think to clean it or clear it out. Our fridges are really a modern marvel! They keep food fresh for so much longer and allow us to have a little grocery store right in our own kitchens! We must show such amazing technology love but cleaning it out regularly! 

Before I start, I would really lol to share a few stories! I remember once wanting to make crepes on a Sunday and enjoying them with lots of berries! As I started mixing ingredients together I reached into the fridge to grab the pint of milk only to realize that someone used the milk and put the bottle back on the fridge! You can imagine how upset I was! Another time I wanted to make a fig jam sandwich (you'll all soon realize how deeply my love for sandwiches runs) and when I pulled out the jam jar from the fridge I realized it was spoiled!!!! So disappointing! This could have ALL been avoided if we cleared out our fridge regularly! 

This is what I suggest you do today. Take out ALL the contents of your fridge. From those figure out what is expired and what you don't eat so that you can toss those. Be realistic-do you need 7 bottles of hot sauce?! Anything  that stays whip it down and place it on a kitchen counter. 

Next, clean your fridge. This is going to be heavy duty work. Take out all shelves and bins and wash them with warm soapy water. Clean the interior of your fridge with warm soapy water and use baking soda and vinegar on tough stains. Once to rinse the inside of your fridge and pay it dry, reassemble the shelves and bins. 

Finally, fill your fridge with the contents that you decided to keep. Make sure you put all dairy and meat products towards the back of the fridge because that's the coldest spot. Vegetables and fruits should be kept towards the front of the fridge so that they don't get too cold and can better circulate. (I might do a post on how to best store veggies and fruits). Place your condiments in the door shelves and complete organizing your fridge.

There you go, you've de cluttered your fridge. I suggest whipping down your fridge every week and deep cleaning, like today, every month. Don't forget to toss expired foods!!! 

Enjoy your clean fridge!!