handbag notes

I mentioned the other day that my one and only handbag for this season was totally falling apart. Well, having bits of leather flaking off the outside was not the only problem. The inside was a disaster zone.

You know by now that I love lists. Unfortunately I’m not so good at throwing out the list once it’s been used. Every time I’d go out on an errands run (tell me I’m not the only one who spends most of their Saturday running errands all over town?!) I’d write a list on a scrap of paper and throw it in my bag. Along with a pen, of course, so I can have the satisfaction of crossing things off.

I then wind up with no less than nine pens and scribbled scraps of paper with shopping lists for travel gear for our Europe trip (you know, the one that was a year and a half ago). ‘Eeeek!’ indeed.

I’m a big fan of going paperless wherever possible, but for whatever reason I prefer paper and pen for my out & about lists. I picked up a cute mini notepad from Target and put it in my bag along with a single pen. Even if I forget to tear off the previous week’s list at least it will be contained in the notepad and not turn into handbag flotsam.

Are you a pen & paper girl like me? Or do you use your phone or even try to keep everything in your head?


Makeup drawer before & after

Decluttering is an ongoing process, usually requiring you to revisit the same areas periodically. It’s not often that I’ll do it just a few months later, but that’s what I just did with my makeup drawer.

In this post from our old home five months ago, I got rid of a ton of rarely used and out of date cosmetics. The ‘after’ photo was looking ship-shape but it wasn’t the whole story: I still had a couple of zip-lock bags filled with spare items (samples and gifts) and several lipsticks in every handbag.

So while I had already done a big declutter before we moved, starting Project 333 has made me take a closer look at other aspects of my getting-ready routine.

I chucked* a whole pile more items, this time focusing on getting rid of colours that don’t suit me, samples I’ll never use and spares that could have lasted me two lifetimes (seven blushers/bronzers – really?!).

I consolidated my lipstick collection and now only put the current day’s product in the single handbag I’m using this season. There are some similar colours in there that I do use but could live without so I won’t replace them when they’re used up.

Apart from getting rid of the zip-locks, the biggest downsizing was the eyeshadows. I managed to find the ultimate (for me) silver-taupey-grey palette that suits everything from a subtle highlight to full-blown event makeup so I was able to get rid of four others that were less versatile.

The only non-everyday items I kept were a couple of super bold lipsticks and a crazy eyeshadow palette that I’m keeping for costume parties. I put them in the difficult-to-access section at the back for now but I could even move them to the costume box.

I moved my brushes to a jar on the vanity as they kept jamming the drawers, but apart from that, this is now my entire makeup collection. Still not minimalist by any means but it’s a far cry from what I used to have.

My next task will be to consider my toiletries and hair products to further streamline my mornings.

Do you like to have a lot of variety in your makeup or do you have a simple routine that suits you everyday?

* Put aside to donate to a women’s shelter.

Winter 2014 capsule wardrobe

Following on from my post last week discussing why I’m experimenting with Project 333, here’s a look at my items for my first capsule wardrobe.

I actually found it surprisingly easy to pull together my 33 winter items – much easier than dealing with all of the leftovers, which is still a work in progress. I bought a handful of items last season that I wore a ton and work quite well together. A colour scheme emerged quite naturally so I stuck with it for easy mixing-and-matching of outfits.

I’m very lucky in that my office job is only two days a week and it’s not too corporate so I can wear the same items to work as I would on the weekends. We also experience relatively mild winters here in Adelaide too, which makes it easier.

My 33 winter items

Here’s what I ended up with:

  1. Navy jeans
  2. Black jeans
  3. Cream lace skirt
  4. Patchwork skirt
  5. Black tulip skirt
  6. Turquoise dress
  7. Black knit dress
  8. Black long-sleeved tee
  9. Olive long-sleeved tee
  10. Teal bow top
  11. Blush sequin sweater
  12. Plum knit sweater
  13. Black & white stripe jumper
  14. Plum knit cardi
  15. Charcoal chunky knit jumper
  16. Turquoise turtleneck jumper
  17. Purple trenchcoat
  18. Blush leather jacket
  19. Olive green coat
  20. Black & beige handbag
  21. Purple clutch
  22. Purple skinny belt
  23. Tan plait belt
  24. Turquoise chunky scarf
  25. Pink/purple chevron scarf
  26. Multi-coloured floral scarf
  27. Tan heeled ankle boots
  28. Turquoise heeled calf boots
  29. Grey slouch calf boots
  30. Black buckle heels
  31. Two-tone pink flats
  32. Black & white stripe flats
  33. Mystery item

The handbag really should have gone out long ago but it was the only remotely neutral one I owned so it had to be included. I’ll try to stick it out with a terrible worn-out bag for this season and maybe pick up something new for spring. The olive top and plum cardi I’ve both had for years and worn them to death so they’ll likely have to be replaced mid-season.

I’ve also included a ‘mystery’ item in case I find I’m really missing something, either an existing item or something new. In particular I’m thinking a nice top for work / dinners out could be a worthwhile addition (maybe this one?).


I applied the normal exclusions of Project 333 including:

  • Underwear
  • Sleepwear
  • Work out gear
  • Loungewear
  • Everyday jewellery (e.g. wedding rings)

Admittedly I was tempted not to include shoes, bags and accessories but figured I should try to challenge myself and did end up counting them.

I did allow myself a couple of additional exclusions:

  • Dirty clothes (for painting, gardening etc)
  • Special occasion clothes (for weddings and such)
  • Sunglasses, winter hat and gloves
  • Jewellery

Despite my cheats, I haven’t given myself free rein: I’ve selected a limited amount of jewellery (so hard!), two pairs of gloves and one hat. I only have one pair of winter dirty clothes and one pair of sunglasses so that was easy.

So, if you see me between now and August 31, I’ll be wearing some combination of the above. Wish me luck!

Have you ever done a capsule wardrobe or clothing challenge?

Project 333: Getting started

Let me begin with some back story.

We had a built-in robe at our old house. It was not huge but we’d had it refitted to maximise space. Along with a dresser each and a nightstand with drawers for me and we were fine for storage space.

Our new home has no built-ins so we opted to purchase a pair of side-by-side freestanding wardrobes from the vendor as an interim solution. We do plan on installing some nice built-ins eventually but we want to wait until we have de-wallpapered the walls and ripped out the carpet.

This pair of wardrobes physically takes up a lot more room than our old built-ins, however it has maybe a sixth of the hanging space (one unit is hanging and the other unit is all shelves). Half of my clothes were still in the boxes we moved house in, which made it difficult to find what I was looking for (and when I did, it was all crumpled).

Project 333: Getting started

So I got to thinking about how to make things work with what we had. I remembered something about Project 333 via the creator Courtney Carver’s main blog Be More With Less and started to mull over whether it would work for me.

Why Project 333?

The premise is wearing a ‘capsule’ wardrobe of 33 items (including jewellery, accessories and shoes) for 3 months.

I realise the irony since this time 12 months ago I wrote a post titled The case against a seasonal wardrobe. But with all matters of household organisation, I believe in changing approaches that are no longer working for you.

In addition to the limitations of our new storage space, here are some other factors that influenced my decision:

An uncluttered bedroom

  • I love the spacious feeling of our new home and don’t want to clutter it up simply because we have room for more stuff.
  • Purely decluttering with regular clear-outs of my clothes has only got me so far. To get the streamlined closet of my dreams I need to try doing the reverse: removing everything and only putting back in what I really love and suits my body, life and style.
  • I dislike some of our bedroom furniture and how it’s laid out. Paring down the amount I own will give us more flexibility to create a room we love.
  • Of all the rooms in our home, I want the bedroom to be clutter-free. No, it’s not a public space that guests generally see, or a room that we spend much (waking) time but I want it to be a restful sanctuary.

Making it effortless

  • I find it a daily struggle to keep the bedroom tidy, with piles of clothes on the floor and a mess of shoes under the bed. Having fewer items makes it easier to put everything away.
  • My change in lifestyle (going back to work in an office part-time) means pulling together a good outfit quickly is more of a priority.
  • I want to make it easier for me to look nice on my work-at-home days. I don’t want to have to get changed just to go to the post office or to be embarrassed when a courier or print rep rocks up on my doorstep.

Finding my style

  • I’m in my thirties now, people. It’s time to find my signature look. I know it’s in there in my wardrobe but it can be hard to see amongst the impulse buys and throwbacks from my partying days.
  • Similarly, I’d like to get away from trend-based dressing and create a more classic wardrobe. I’ve never considered this before because ‘classic’ to me meant boring (because I adore colour and pattern which goes against most ‘classic dressing’ advice). This will enable me to focus on creating my own classic look from clothes I already own and only buying new items that I know can mix’n’match with the rest of my wardrobe.
  • After I quit my full-time job we cut back on a lot of areas of our budget and clothing was one category that was slashed. Even now that my income has gone up, I still find myself buying cheap and nasty clothes. I want to get back into the mindset of investing in good quality pieces again. I don’t want to increase the clothing budget, so I need to buy fewer things and again, make sure they work with other items.
  • I enjoy choosing outfits and would feel frustrated and deprived if I had an all-year simplified wardrobe. I am hoping switching it up every three months will prevent me feeling bored.

Buoyed by all these benefits, I thought Project 333 was a worthwhile experiment for me to try. I have created my first capsule wardrobe (which you can see in the header image) and have been wearing it since a bit before my official start date of June 1st.

It’s definitely a big project so over the next week or so I’ll share the details of how I chose my first capsule wardrobe and what I’m doing with all the leftovers.

Have you done Project 333 or another wardrobe challenge? If so I’d love to hear about your experiences!



Several weeks ago I was gearing up to prep our home to put on the (rental) market. We were thankful to quite quickly arrange a lovely tenant (a former colleague of The Man’s) so we didn’t have to go through that whole process.

Of course, there is a bunch of maintenance we’re doing in preparation – touching up chipped paint, having the oven professionally cleaned, fixing the stove that’s been broken for four years – you know, all the things we’ve never got around to doing for ourselves.

What we haven’t had to do is any staging for listing photos and inspections.

I must admit to being relieved, but then I saw a great post over at Minimalist Mom advising to ‘sell’ your home to yourself.

That is, even if you have no plans to move, act as if you were moving house; get rid of anything that wouldn’t be worth taking with you.

Act as if potential buyers are coming into your home; fix any less-than-appealing features.

It’s a great approach to try to get yourself to see your home through someone else’s eyes: you’ll notice things that you tend to gloss over because you see them every day. Immediately you’ll want to put all your kitchen appliances back in the cupboard, change an awkward furniture layout, pare down the knick knacks and go on a decluttering frenzy.

Treat yourself to some fresh flowers and enjoy your ‘new’ home!

new lights dining

A friend said to me recently ‘I can’t believe everything you were able to do in your current house’.

I was quite taken aback. I mean, we’re only two people, we’re not that into gardening and we don’t even have so much as a goldfish as a pet. So surely a two-bedroom one-bathroom townhouse would have been the perfect size?

Nevertheless, I have to admit I was feeling the pinch.

…Guests have to climb over each other to extract themselves from seating for a loo break.

…My office doesn’t have a surface large enough for essentials like a cutting mat or packing area.

…The Man has had to work from the couch since I commandeered our once-shared study for my business four years ago.

…I am over not having a full-size ironing board or Christmas tree.

So there is a whole range of current everyday nuisances (#firstworldproblems) that I’m looking forward to not worrying about in future.

That said, it got me thinking about all the strategies we developed out of necessity living in a small home (relative to our peers, that is). I actually think we will continue with many of the tactics that we’ve established here, even though space won’t be such an issue.

Small space lessons that can apply to any sized home

  • Reduce amount of stuff before organising / adding more storage
  • Choose furniture and storage that is functional as well as beautiful
  • Think creatively (for example, hacking Ikea kitchen cabinets into custom desk)
  • Maximise storage by adding shelves/hooks in ‘dead’ spaces
  • Choose a few items that you love rather than a bunch of okay stuff
  • Go without infrequently used items (you can always borrow or hire them)
  • Know that letting go of sentimental items isn’t letting go of the associated memories
  • Ask for ‘experience’ gifts instead of material ones
  • Take advantage of technology and go digital with media and especially paperwork

Regardless of space, I think it the approach will help us make the most of our home and keep it uncluttered.

Do you have any tips to add to the list? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Moving in day 2008

When The Man and I moved into our townhouse, we were both coming straight from living with our parents. Naturally, apart from our bedroom furniture and personal items, we didn’t have a lot to move.

Six years on, we have accumulated a LOT of stuff. It’s things we need and use, so I’m not talking about clutter (well, mostly!). But we started out with the absolute bare minimum of furniture and household items (seriously, every time we cooked a new meal we discovered we needed some new utensil or dish) and have slowly built a home.

Now, we are faced with our first ‘proper’ move and to be honest I am kind of overwhelmed by the thought.

Where do I start? How long will it take us? And (with no garage or free floor space) where on earth do I put the packed boxes?!

So I’m asking pleading for your packing and moving tips. Leave a comment with your advice and we can get a nice big list happening.

Fridge before

I already knew it had been a while since we’d cleared off the front of the fridge, but when a friend actually commented recently on how old some of the invitations were, I decided it was finally time to do something about it.

Fridge before

(Dreadful photos sorry, I had to do this at night.)

Fridge after

We were given a set of Scrabble magnets as a Christmas present (thanks Sharon if you’re reading!) and thought they should be given pride of place.

A super quick project, but very satisfying nonetheless as it makes the whole room feel brighter and neater. (I am clearly all about the 10-minute projects this week – the temperature is in the 40s again so it’s too hot to do much else.)

Fridge after

Now we can clearly see our meal plan and any upcoming events, like The Man’s brother’s engagement party tomorrow. Yay indeed!

makeup drawer before & after

Since we’re about to move house, I am less in organising mode as I am in decluttering overdrive. So while I had organised my makeup drawer a few times since we’ve lived here, it was well overdue for a proper clear out.

To make matters worse, as I’ve discovered before, the drawer dividers have a tendency to pop out or get things stuck under them. But hopefully a good declutter will reduce the effect of this.


Like any drawer clean-out, I started by taking everything out and laying out the contents according to type. It’s then really clear how much you really have, including any duplicates (such as my three foundations, half-dozen eyeliners and countless lipsticks) and items beyond their life (perished brushes, out-of-date mascaras).

makeup drawer before & after

After a good wipe-out, I set up the dividers again and returned only the items that I use. I find this is an easier way to do a ruthless declutter (adding back things you use rather than taking out things you don’t).


I was left with the items above. Some products were binned (ahem, like the blue eyeshadow I’ve had since I was 15) but others were able to find another use in my cosmetics case.


Ridiculously, a couple of spent products were in the drawer for the sole reason that I loved the colour and wanted to replace them. I took note of the names of the brands and colours in Evernote then tossed the empties.


I must confess I still have frequently-used lipsticks/glosses stashed in every handbag and I clearly need to consolidate my eyeshadow collection. But overall, definitely a big improvement in only ten minutes.

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Sponsored by Target.

Target desk accessories

I’ve been back at work for a few weeks now, but we don’t properly get back into a regular routine until term starts and The Man returns to work (which is today).

This year, I’m even more keen than usual to give the desk a good spruce-up since I ditched my dearly-departed old black beast of a computer and replaced it with a sleek laptop. (I will be getting a big monitor when we move but for now I’m enjoying the simplicity).

Target desk accessories

Once I’d done a big tidy-up and wiped down the desk, it was time for the fun part: new stationery!

I picked up some of the gorgeous new-season stationery at Target, mixing and matching the colours, patterns and materials.

Target desk accessories

Target desk accessories

Don’t forget to look outside the stationery aisle: I scored the sweet faux blooms and ceramic tray from the homewares department.

Target desk accessories

Target desk accessories

As a total stationery addict, I was really impressed with the quality of the materials, like the fabric tray, timber pens and leather notebook plus all the paper items.

Target desk accessories

Target desk accessories

One of my favourite finds was this stackable in-tray with a drawer – so nifty and versatile, right?

Target desk accessories

What a cheery little spot to work now! Are you all set for back-to-work and -school?

Notebooks, pens, pencils, pencilcase, in-tray, flowers, white tray all from Target. Balloon art print from Akimbo. All other items I already owned.

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