Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Trash Day Tuesday: Umbrellas

Welcome to a new series that I like to call, Trash Day Tuesday. Every Tuesday, we will embark on a mission to de-clutter your home one space at a time by tossing away items that you don't use or need. We often forget to assess our items and their uses, so Trash Day Tuesday will help us do just that and tackle our clutter.

Drowning in umbrellas- at least they aren't broken.
Today's topic is related to rainy days. No matter where you live, you probably own an umbrella, a poncho, or some other item that helps you stay dry on wet days. When the skies are leaking, umbrellas are a saver. I load up on umbrellas but I only reach for a select few when I actually need them. When umbrellas break on me, I never throw them away, thinking that they might come in useful one day. Sure, the day when all my umbrellas are broken and I'll have to pick the less broken one. When it rains, I shuffle anxiously through hoards of broken umbrellas to find one that stays open. It's frustrating, time consuming, and ridiculous. Tell me I'm not the only one in this boat.

This Tuesday's task is therefore rather simple- going through your umbrella collection. Let's do it!!!

First order of business is to pull out every umbrella in your house, no matter its condition.

Separate umbrellas into 3 categories: broken, flimsy/bad quality, and good quality. Broken umbrellas will obviously be tossed out. Flimsy/bad quality umbrellas you should keep as emergency or guest umbrellas. The good quality umbrellas you will obviously keep and store for your own personal or familial use.

Tada, you are done! And it probably took you 15 minutes and you easily organized one group of items in your house!

Useful Umbrella Tips
1. Every household should have personal sized umbrellas and one large diameter umbrella. There should also be good quality and working umbrellas for every member of the household.

Large cane umbrella, like a porter's umbrella.

2. Everyone should have a small box of guest umbrellas. These are umbrellas that you don't mind giving away to guests in case it starts raining when they are leaving your house. Dollar stores have cheap umbrellas but you should try to use the umbrellas that you have and don't like- sounds bad but hey, at least you are thoughtful enough to give your guests an umbrella regardless of its condition. :)

3. If you don't fancy being surprised by and unprepared  for rainy weather, then consider having a spare umbrella in your office and in your car for emergencies. The quality of umbrella depends on you.

4. Folding umbrellas are great for travel. I personally love Tote umbrellas. They fit in purses and briefcases and are extremely sturdy, wind resistant, and durable. Most folding or mini umbrellas can not withstand a bit of wind, but these are tough! Plus, they open and close automatically! I recommend Tote umbrellas!

5. After you have used an umbrella make sure you let it fully dry.

6. Umbrella sleeves should not be mislaid. They serve a purpose- to protect your umbrella. Always close your umbrella and place it in its sleeve.

Don't toss or lose your umbrella sleeves. You need them! Use them!

Storage Tips

1. Store guest umbrellas in a box near your front entrance.

2. Store personal umbrellas in an umbrella basket. These baskets can be decorative and, in my opinion, can add an old world charm to your house.

I love these types of umbrella baskets.
These would look beautiful near the front
entrance- aesthetic and functional.

Show me your umbrella basket.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Clean Up Your Smartphone


I've been bedridden for almost a week now. I've caught the flu and have been enjoying all the wonderful trimmings that come along with it, like incessant coughing and fatigue. During this time, I have hardly touched my phone but when I finally did, I had a billion missed called and messages. This made me think- how unorganized are our phones exactly?                                                                                      

Smartphones are, of course, equipped with smart organizational capabilities. Apple, for example, has folders in which you can group like applications. There are slots for most used applications on the dock. You can rearrange the spatial organization of your applications and folders. I am sure most smartphones have similar capabilities, which allow its user to organize their device to their organizational needs and preferences. I am also sure there are some annoying limitations, but at least there is a way to make sense of all the electronic mess that you see everyday on your device. This is how I would suggest you tackle organizing your device:

1. Uninstalled/delete all applications that you do not use. Really evaluate your applications. If you have three web browsers, is there a reason why you keep three? Do they all provide something the others don't have? Is one the clear winner? The fewer apps I have, especially fun ones, the less time I spend wasting on my phone because I have no discipline and can't possibly control how much time I spend on the apps I enjoy. 

2. Group like applications together in folders. You might have categories such as: games, productivity, reference, navigation, news, photo/video, social networking, utilities, lifestyle, finance, entertainment, books, education, etc. Toss similar apps in one folder and actually label it. Some phones are so smart that they label the folder for you depending on the contents of the folder. Neat, right?!

3. Save your device's contents on your computer. Back up, ladies and gents!

4. Organize your folders/apps in an order that makes sense with the frequency of their use. I use my iPlan calendar everyday, this is why it is the lone app on the home screen. Applications that you use frequently should be on the first page while all other apps and folders that are not used often should be stored in a secondary spot, perhaps another page so they are out of your immediate view but still accessible. 

Home screen on my phone.
Simple- just how I like it.
I have one folder, entitled iPhone Apps,
which houses the majority of my applications.
The shot you see above is the first "page" of the
folder, which are applications I use frequently.
The remainder of the "pages" in this folder
are filled with iPhone factory applications
that cannot be deleted. 

Other tips:

1. Regularly backup your photos/other documents and delete them from your phone. 
2. Merge your contacts and delete duplicates. (I might do a post on how I organize all my contacts, regardless of where their information is stored.)
3. If your device comes with a removable SD Card, only try to keep photos and documents on the SD card. 

What does your home screen look like? Let's do a "what's on my phone" tag- show me your home screens. :) 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Makeup Minimalism


Ah, makeup! Most of us use it, some of us collect it, and others don't know what to do with it. No matter the relationship you have with makeup, we all have experienced the battle with trying to organize it. When I was a teen I was obsessed with my sister's fancy shmancy makeup collection, until I discovered YouTube where I learned that my sister was frying tiny fish. There are people out there who could fill a whale's stomach with the makeup that they have! Some might be hoarders, or collectors, but I suspect most are (aspiring) makeup artists. This post, is obviously not geared towards those professionals/collectors, as those people have systems of their own, but it is for us "common folk" struggling with containing our makeup. Read on!

This makeup collection takes up a good portion
 of this bed, but aren't the colors just lovely?!

Most makeup comes with a suggested
 expiration period. If you can't find that
information, this might be useful.

The first step in makeup recovery is probably realizing that your makeup expires. Bet'cha didn't know that! That foundation you bought, is good for about a year. Can you continue using expired makeup? Sure, but its quality won't be the same. Say, you bought milk and it expired, it's still milk but probably sour now. Same goes with makeup. If your concealer expired 2 years ago, it's probably dried out, extremely oxidized, and even infested with bacteria! These changes alter how makeup functions and how it reacts with our skin. I know I wouldn't want to use expired makeup on my delicate skin! Now that you know that your makeup expires, it would be a good idea to toss out all your expired makeup. Take a look at the below pictures to see how to determine if your makeup has expired or how to find an "expiration date" for makeup. Don't worry, it seems like you are tossing out a lot of makeup but trust me this will do wonders for you!

Most makeup containers or their boxes
 have suggested expiration periods. Notice
 the 24M, that means after this particular
bottle is opened, it is good to keep for 24 months.
From what you have left, you have to get rid of items that you do not use or items that are misfits. You have to seriously assess your needs. Do you wear nail polish? Do you wear green lipstick? If you have a light beige skin color why do you have mocha colored foundation? Does that facial cream cause breakouts? Purge these misfits and unusables. What's the point of keeping makeup that doesn't function well for you?! 

With your expired makeup and the misfits gone, you probably have a significantly smaller batch of makeup left. Try to separate makeup by categories-grouping like items with like items. You might have categories such as eyes, lips, face, and nails or you might have categories such as foundations, blush, powders, eye shadows, eye liners, lipsticks, cheek palettes, etc. You can even take it a step further and color code your lipsticks or eye shadows. It all depends on what you prefer. Once you have your categories, it will be easier to pick a storage system. 

Before we move on to the actual storage of your makeup, it's time to purge again. I know you were reluctant to purge your expired makeup or the misfits because you paid so much for it and you might think it's a waste, now that you see your makeup in categories, and you see just how much you have, you might be more willing to part with more items. Let's take eyeliners for example. Do you wear green eyeliner often? If no, is there a need to have 6 different shades? Why do you have 10 different black pencils? Pick your favorite 3- and don't lie, I know you have favorites and use the others only when you run out of your favorites. Take a risk, don't be afraid to get rid of your makeup. Don't let your possessions control you. 

Yaye! So proud of you for being honest with yourself and allowing yourself to grow by tossing away all that expired and unused makeup! This is truly a triumph and you should be proud of yourself! Now that you have selected to leave the BEST, it's time to clean those babies up. Makeup is dirty business- no wonder we have to wash our faces before we go to bed. Well, that's not the only place we have to wash makeup off. Clean your brushes, wipe down you bottles, polish your tiny containers, disinfect your sponges, wipe your mirrors, etc. This is a vital step to helping you maintain order- when the contents are clean, you want to use them and store them properly. 

Look at your collection, doesn't it look like you bought new makeup?! Oh, yeah! Time to store these shiny babies. Storage depends solely on what you have and your habits. I personally HATE seeing makeup on counters. I don't even like seeing makeup in clear plastic containers. I like all my makeup zipped up in a makeup case in a drawer- I have very little makeup so I can get away with this. This might not work for everyone, but I would like to point out that most makeup should be kept away from sunlight and extreme temperatures, so keep your makeup in a dust-free, dry, cool, shaded area. Store makeup by types- all blushes in one spot and all lipsticks in another. To save time, separate your most used items from your "extras" and less frequently used items. I typically gravitate toward a few eye shadows, but I do have some others that I use for special looks. Those eye shadows, used for special looks, are kept in a separate compartment. Below are a few clever ideas and tips for storing makeup collections of any size. 
Disguise your brushes with a brush roll. These rolls protect
 brushes from dust and are a breeze when it comes to travel.
Plus, this specific roll is made of cloth, so you can wash it too!
Use vertical storage for makeup brushes.
Make sure not to store your brushes head-up when
they are wet because that will ruin the glue inside
your brush tip and your brush head will eventually
disintegrate. Also, keep in mind that storing your
brushes head-up in an open space will cause dust to
accumulate  on the brush hairs, so be mindful of where
you place your brushes to avoid dusty brushes.
Don't throw all your lip and eye pencils in a cup- you won't
find anything that way. Instead separate by use and color
in compartments that can be easily tucked into a drawer.
Ever notice how stores always showcase their lipsticks vertically?
Ever wonder why? Because they are more accessible and visible.
Buy or make (something similar to) a lipstick holder. If you have
a designated amount of slots, you limit yourself to the number of spots.
Say what?! As you already know, I don't like makeup to be
visible. This is perfect. This case zips up and can be tucked away in
a drawer. I love it!!!!
As with lipsticks, lip glosses should be stored vertically.
I prefer storing lip glosses upside-down because then I can use more
of the product when the contents of the bottle are close to finishing.
Any makeup that comes in single containers, for example blush,
face powder, bronzer, eye shadows, etc, try to store them horizontally
on their sides. If you have lose powders, store them vertically.
Don't ever stack makeup on top of other makeup. You'll forget about it
and probably won't ever use it. We are trying to create accessibility and
visibility. Give it a go and see if this works for you.
Creams and liquids should be stored upright, especially
during the warmer months otherwise you'll ruin your makeup.

Anything in tubes should be stored vertically.
Let gravity work for you!
If you use nail polish, you can go all out and store your varnishes
on a display. This is a bit much for me, but it might work for you.
I prefer this method. Store your nail polish in
shallow containers and color code.
Many people like to store their palettes vertically and I understand
the reasoning behind that. However, this is probably the only time that I
might say either way-horizontal or vertical- is fine. I personally prefer palettes,
no matter their content, to be stored horizontally. I feel that way
gravity won't work against my makeup and it's content will be safer.
Once you open an item, label its expiration
date so you know when to throw it out.
Phew! Storage is done with, time to relax! NO! Think again! Owning makeup means that you are stuck in a revolving door. Makeup comes in and also goes out. You must always be cognizant of when your makeup expires. Try placing a label with an expiration date on all your makeup. Periodically purge through your makeup and clean it. It's all about maintenance.

Now this whole process will be a waste of time and effort if we don't talk about discipline and control when it comes to purchasing makeup. You can't keep buying 
makeup on a whim- that is almost always going to result in bad choices. Instead, test makeup several times, ASK FOR SAMPLES, do your research, and only purchase a little bit at a time so you can use up everything you have before it expires. Honestly, asking for samples and constantly testing makeup is glorious. Makeup companies WANT you to buy their products and are more than happy to provide samples of items that can be sampled. If not, they are more than happy to let you test them in stores or have consultations. I cannot stress the importance of doing this. Instead of buying a whole bottle of foundation for $60, get a free (almost always free) sample and then make up your mind. I once bought a foundation that looked beautiful at the store on my hand and face, to only come home and realize, it was 3 shades too dark and severely dried up my skin. I now EXCLUSIVELY test and sample before I purchase. If one store doesn't offer samples, another will. If you test makeup at a store, give it a day or two before you go and purchase it. Analyze the way the makeup sits on your skin and reacts with it. Be aware that consultants have a job- to sell you the makeup- so don't feel pressured to buy. Make it perfectly clear that you are just testing and want to see if this makeup is a good fit for you. This does not make you cheap or too fussy- it makes you efficient and sensible! Trust me, with your smaller collection and more controlled purchasing habits, your wallet, your face, and your mind will be thanking you. 

Please share before and after pictures! I am curious about the transformations you all make. Do you like me stressing the main points in the blog by bolding and underlining key ideas? Is it helpful?