Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday Showers. . .1/31/11

What a delight it is to give a shower for a friend who is preparing to be married. For me, it's a pleasure and an honor to be part of that commitment, even if only in a party-hosting manner. So, when my very dear friend, and big sister from my college sorority, announced she was getting married (in ONE month!) I rallied. Along with a handful of her closest friends, we gave her a simple, beautiful and scrumptious wedding shower with ten days notice! Congratulations Kerri Jo! Hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
A spectacular bouquet!!
A beautiful and simply wrapped gift for the bride from Kuhl-Linscomb. . .nice choice KJ ;)
Food worth indulging in. . .
A lovely, warm and tasty table setting for the bride and her guests.
Petit Fours from Moeller's (of course - they're the best in the city!!)
Apricot and walnut stuffed Brie inside phyllo. . .you cannot imagine! Food was provided by the Taste of Texas and it was amazing!!
For me, the pies de resistance was this platter: bacon and jalapeno wrapped quail bites on one side and jalapeno and cream cheese poppers on the other. UGH! HEAVEN!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Clutter and Closets. . .1/20/11

The month of January, as mentioned in my last blog, seems to be the month to start anew, de-clutter and improve and somehow going back as early December, I've had a flurry of friends and readers actually write to ask me to purposely tackle organizing in a blog entry. While I fear that my "Monica Gellar" reputation precedes me I will, with great pleasure I might add, discuss that which I am apparently famous for - being neurotically clean and organized. I am what I am people and there's obviously no use hiding it. . .so why try. Here goes!

This is the email I received Monday from my friend Darlene:

I just wanted you to know, I love love love your blog!!! So Inspiring and feels so real since it's tips from someone I know and not just a magazine! My biggest monster to tackle this month is my closet! I've put it off for months and now it cannot wait any longer! Any Tips on closet organization and decluttering? For future blogging... you know?! ;)

Okay Darlene, and other readers, closets can be tricky for several reasons:
1) We tend to keep clothing out of sentimental value (i.e.: the dress we wore to prom, a skirt we wore on our first date with our husbands/boyfriends, stacks and stacks of grungy t-shirts we wear around the house and to bed, etc.);
2) We keep clothes we wore clothes before we had kids and many of us, like me, somehow believe they will fit again;
3) Lastly, we keep things because we make excuses for occasions we "could " someday wear them to, i.e.: "I might go sailing someday and it'd look so cute to wear this top with nautical shorts." Well, unless you are the type of person who randomly has out-of-the-ordinary events come up on the calendar, it's time to pack it up and send it to a new home.

I tend to toe the line between keeping unnecessary things and being overly exaggerated on giving them away. For me, articles of clothing fall into one of two categories: namely numbers 2 and 3 listed above. So, a few times a year I make it a point to purge. It's been a REALLY long time though since I've had a true, honest with myself, purge. So, thanks Darlene for inadvertently pointing out the elephant in the room. I'm going to blog about this soon but for now, let's talk about how YOU can make YOUR closet less cluttered. I have five easy steps I go by when de-cluttering closets. . .or well, any area of my home.

Step 1: Strategize
Planning your organization strategy ahead of time will not only get the job done faster but you'll start seeing results sooner. This will motivate you to keep up the good work! So, plan ahead and get the supplies you need. If you know shoes are your trouble area for example, buy door shoe hangars or racks in advance. Jewelry addict? Buy hanging jewelry dividers or drawer organizers. Get the picture?

I know that sounds horrifying but if you don't do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it again?? Removing every single thing from your closet and starting with a clean slate ensures you won't shuffle the mess around or overlook things you need to donate.

Step 3: Divide and Conquer
Tackle the closet in sections. Start from one side of the closet and work your way over to the other side in sections. For example, in my closet I have skirts hanging on a higher rod and tops beneath so when I purge or reorganize, I start with those two sections and work my way over to the right - dresses, slacks, coats and so on. If your closet is not already divided into sections, this is the time to do it. Put like items into same sections, and as a side note this will also create immediate space beneath the clothes where other items can now be stored.

Step 4: Lost and Found
Toys, random house objects, DVDs, books, etc. - things that don't belong in your closet can find their way to a place they DO belong. And so you don't get distracted, put them all in a pile to the side and then when you're done working for the day or done all together, transfer the other items to their rightful homes. Walking away each time you come across a misplaced item will only waste time and steer you away from the task.

Step 5: Triage
Just like when doctors triage patients, so must we with our closets and clutter. Be VERY honest with yourself and if you do not wear it, toss it in a pile to the side. Believe it or not, clothing can be very sentimental. It can take us to a different place and time and conjure up memories but the clothing is not the memory and keeping it will not make you remember; getting rid of it will not make you forget. If you really feel like you don't need it but can't let go, put it to the side and photograph it - if it still fits, put it on for the picture. Now, it'll always be with you :)When I struggle with ditching clothing I think of a person who could really benefit from this article of clothing. Example: after I stopped practicing law I had tons of business suits and business clothes that lingered in my closet, took up space and were growing more and more outdated with each day they spent being unused. I thought of all the women out there who couldn't afford a suit - maybe they could use one for an interview? Maybe it will improve their confidence at work? Whatever I thought, it was clear, I wasn't using them and someone else could so out they ALL went - blouses, closed-toed pumps and accessories to match too.

Also, as part of step 5, and in efforts to keep your newly organized closet organized, every time you put something IN, take something OUT. Bought a new sweater this weekend? Give away an older one that you don't wear as much.

FIVE rules of thumb. Learn them. Use them. Love them. It's that simple. Hope this helps Darlene. Love you girl :)

Some ideas for organizing your closets below. . .find them at target, Bed Bath and Beyond, The Container Store, Wal-Mart, Ikea, and online.

Love this idea because now a shoe organizer can organize ANY part of your life - kitchen, office, closet. . .

Off the Cuff. . .1/20/11

I'm not a huge fan of summer time in Houston but I AM a fan of fun summer styles. . .especially when they include fun, wooden and turquoise pieces. Feast your eyes on some fabulous pieces I've recently stumbled upon. . .
This fun bangle is an internet find. . .I love the beaded edge. . .just wish I could remember where I found it online :(
I'm really liking this wedge sandal from J Crew. Goes with everything!
But THIS wooden wedge called to me!! Now THIS I could wear all the live long day - with dresses, skirts, shorts, jeans. . .you name it!! This might need to find it's way into my closet for summer ;) Find it at Anthropologie.
I liked this funky vintage wooden sandal from Anthropologie as well. It reminds me of something my mom probably wore in her heyday. She had mad style, then and now.
I think any statement piece of jewelry can take an outfit from flab to fab!! Try on a huge wooden cuff like this one. Bet you'll get compliments ;) And why wouldn't you?? Look at that fabulous turquoise stone!! I especially love the gold edge around it. Really dresses it up.
The cuff above is great but this is the one that REALLY caught my eye. It's so unique and stunning. . .at $298 though, it's not the bargain I'd hoped for :(

The bracelet above and the ones below are also pretty fantastic. . .I think each one has versatility to go with so many things. . .

. . .but this last one. . .the coin cuff. . .ahhhh, really takes my breath away. . .

Thursday, January 6, 2011

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Start ANEW!!. . .1/6/10

With every new year comes that innate desire to start anew on January 1. We start a new exercise regimen (or one at all), we start eating healthier and/or dieting, we buy a new calendar, resolve to be more organized, we clean out our cars, closets, desks etc. all in hopes of making a fresh start. We resolve to do waaay more than we ever can or will do and therein lies the dilemma right? If we "resolve" to do too much, we inevitably will do nothing at all. It isn't all bad news though right? No. There are some things we can resolve to improve. BEING MORE ORGANIZED!

Being organized doesn't mean being boring. Having things in their place can not only be so fun and creative but also so freeing! How can working hard to keep things in place be freeing you might ask? Well, here are just a few reasons (proven by experts and doctors I might add):

1) Time Saving - when you know where things are and where they go, you waste less time, and we all know that life is busy and minutes wasted can add up!

2) Less Stress - For women especially, stress leads to wrinkles, weight gain (excess cortisol build up), muscle tension, heart disease, etc. Why stress about how to get things done all the time? Having calendars, a dry erase board in your pantry (like me), filing systems, email reminders, all help us keep our sanity and enjoy life's more important things: our families and friends.

3) Children Need Boundaries - Parenting book after book, article after article all stress how important it is for children to have 1) boundaries and 2) responsibilities. When kids are required to clean up their own mess, they 1) feel included - like they are a real part of the family (because they have a job just like mommy and daddy have jobs), 2) they know what is expected of them and learn to be responsible for the mess they make (this helps later in life to know mom and dad won't clean up life messes for me) and in turn 3) they won't make as big a mess to begin with. All of this is real advice from experts. (Sorry that the particular reference escapes me).

So, in keeping with "starting fresh" and my last entry of 2010, let's look at some more ways to make staying organized fun, creative, and beautiful! If it's hard to read my writing, click on each individual picture to enlarge.

Sometimes you can't avoid surprise visits from family, friends, neighbors, etc. so one way to keep your kitchen in order is with these great iron towel and dish racks. I think the dish drying rack is perfect for a house full of kids. We all know how quickly they can pile up! So don't waste time hand-drying. . .let them air dry. . .in style ;)
This bulletin display is sooooo cute! From placing them in a series (which offers you more places to stay organized) to the adorable bench beneath. Put this look by a back door or in a kitchen or just about anywhere?! I can just picture children stopping at the bench to tie their laces and run out the door. P.S. Wanna try this look at home? See below. My DIY project, then frame each one with a pretty picture frame. Try Hobby Lobby. Great prices and they'll frame it for you when you purchase their frames.
And look at this shelving unit. What an easy solution for cleaning items, sewing equipment, detergent, extra rags, shoes, etc. Think it's not affordable?? Try this one from Ikea for only $34.99!! And they sell the baskets to fit too!

Last year I made a bulletin board for my son's room. It has great cowboy and handgun tacks I found online and displays pictures, a Valentine's card from his favorite teacher, school art work, a mini customized name plate, etc. Wanna do it yourself? Take a ready made cork board (I find it's easiest to buy one with a frame and here's one for less than $7 at Target), lay the fabric of choice down on a flat surface (front side of fabric facing down), lay cork board on top, cut three inches from edge of cork board all around, then tightly hot glue borders. Let cool and dry and then turn over. Place a frame around it or a fun border or brass nail heads (like above) on the edges and voila!

PS: As a great way to kick off 2011 - Submit a photo of a way you've recently organized YOUR home creatively. Best photo will receive a box of organizing goodies from me in the mail!!
Send photo to: thekelleys9305@aol.com