Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How To Have a Highly Functional Handbag

Today Pauline from the English Organizer shares her expert advice on how to organize your purse, and I'm listening! Follow her simple steps below and no longer will you find yourself frantically searching into the deeps of your bag to find that elusive item you're looking for:

When Professional Organizers give classes or workshops, like the one I did last week for Deborah’s Palm, one of our favorite ice-breaking activities is a handbag scavenger hunt. Participants work in pairs to discover how many weird and wonderful items from a list are lurking within their purses.


The point, of course, is to show how easily clutter can build up in all areas of our lives, with the handbag representing just one small part. Take a peek in your purse. Do you even know what’s in there, or is there room for improvement? Here are some tips to create a more functional handbag:

1. Turn everything out (yep, you knew that was coming, didn’t you?). Get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past week. Ditch the nasty half-eaten candy, out-of-date coupons and any multiples of the same item.  One of my recent workshop attendees had 6 pairs of glasses in her bag… you get my drift.


2. Don’t keep anything in your purse which you don’t honestly need while you’re on the move. Could heavier items live in the car or maybe in your desk at the office? Do you need to carry an umbrella at this time of year? How many make-up items will you realistically use during the day?

3. Are you carrying around certain keys, with no idea any more what they do? Remove those from your key ring and keep an orphaned key collection somewhere at home, until you feel brave enough to toss them. Handbags can get really heavy: you don’t want to be weighed down by excess metal.


4. What’s missing from your bag that you really do need? I’m always amazed how many people go through life without a pen and something to write on within easy reach. Ideally, you should carry your calendar (paper or electronic) in your bag. For me, must-haves also include chapstick, a snack and a mini bottle of water, but your personal essentials will be different.

5. Choose your purse carefully. Mine is just a tiny bit too small, and it really disciplines me to keep reviewing what’s taking up precious space. When buying a new bag, always check to see if your must-haves fit in.


6. To enable you to transfer things easily from one purse to another, check out products like Purse Perfector, which is essentially a simple inner-purse to hold everything. Or, do what I did a few years ago, and get yourself a Miche bag. I don’t get paid to recommend Miche, but I wish I did. Everyone who compliments the style of my bag gets wide-eyed when I show them the magnetic cover, which makes changing your purse a five second job. Now available in three sizes and design-your-own options, Miche could seriously reduce the space taken up by bags in your closet, and speed you out the door each morning.

How many handbags do you own? And what’s the strangest thing in there?


Thanks Pauline! I'm going to take a look at my key ring, I suspect there are a few keys there that are indeed a mystery as to what they open. And if you haven't already done so, take a moment to read Pauline's article written for the Summer issue of House of Fifty, Creating a Family Command Center, beginning on page 66.

And what is my favorite bag of the moment?

This little Coach Wristlet bag in navy patent leather...just big enough to hold essentials when heading out for an evening event!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Using Prints & Posters In Design - Fun & Easy!

Discovering an original piece of art that speaks to you, and having the opportunity to bring it home, is a special treat. But sometimes only a print or poster will do! This type of wall decor brings a fun and graphic element to a space in a way that few other items can.

Living Room  living room

Elliott Kaufman

LOVE: Large & Bold, making a fabulous statement.

Nina van de Goors Home eclectic kids


Inspirational prints are perfect for nurseries and children's rooms.

Handmade Art on Etsy - The Original ABC Love (Screen Printed) by jenniferramos eclectic kids

Made By Girl

One of the many delightful prints by Jennifer Ramos.
{Who I enjoyed meeting recently in NYC!}

Trash or Treasure eclectic bathroom

Lucid Interior Design Inc.

This amuses me. Really? Whose idea was it to place it here...

Plaza Towers Condo Renovation modern

Niki Papadpoulos

One of my favorite type of posters are those advertising an art exhibit. Kind of ironic?

sfgirlbybay eclectic home office

And can any discussion of prints be had without including this now iconic print?
A great reminder placed in a work area!

Interestingly, Keep Calm and Carry On was a poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War, intended to raise the morale of the British public in the event of an invasion. It was little known and never used. The poster was rediscovered in 2000...and the rest is history.

What prints have you brought into your home?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

It's Now...A Post If You Are Looking For A Bit Of Motivation

I wrote this post several months ago for my Isabella & Max blog, but it came to mind today when reading on another blog about how today is Oprah's last show. So here it is again. The below quote I mention, "I don't believe in luck, I believe in preparation meeting opportunity" are words I heard Oprah say one day, while the show was on in the background. Its meaning really struck me as powerful, and I've never forgotten them. Janell

My husband and I have been having a reoccurring conversation lately. These discussions have focused on work, life, how to get where you want to go, making your dreams come true, what are the habits that make a difference and what is really important and what isn't.

I've been playing around with the idea of writing a post on our conversations and the topic of motivation for quite a while now, and woke up this morning feeling motivated to put these conversations and thoughts down in a post. I get a lot of emails asking how I stay motivated, how I get done what I do and these conversations cover the key points of what keeps me going.

The conversations on this topic between my husband I started a few months back when we were driving and I was talking about what was motivating me to be devoted to my blog and career, in addition to my goals for my personal life. I said, "it's now or never", to which my husband replied, "it's now".

That made sense to me. "It's now or never" has a negative aspect to it, almost a threat, whereas "it's now" simply embraces the moment and says now is the time. If there is something you want to do, something you have a passion for, a goal you have been wanting to reach, a challenge you want to face, it's now. Embrace the moment and if there is anything in life that is important that isn't in your life at the moment, now is the time to find a way to get it in there.

Another component in our ongoing conversations are habits and knowing the little things add up. Do what you say you are going to do and just really try to do your best.

My kids...Now They Are My Motivation & Inspiration!

And motivation, we all need motivation! Several things motivate me, and at the top of the list is a desire to set a good example for my kids and have good relationship with them. The next thing that motivates me is a statement I heard years ago, which I am constantly repeating to myself and my husband.

"I don't believe in luck, luck is simply preparation meeting opportunity." Oprah

Someone told a very successful person in a conversation that they were very lucky. This person responded by saying she didn't believe in luck, rather she believed in preparation meeting opportunity.

After hearing the statement I kept thinking about it and thinking about it. It stayed at the back of my mind and I found that the concept would be remembered when there was something I had to do which I really didn't want to do. Perhaps I was tired, or I thought why bother, what I am doing this for anyway, there doesn't really seem to be a point. Does it even matter? If I work really hard on this or that, who will really notice, where will it get me? Then I would remember the words "preparation meets opportunity" and would say to myself, okay, do your best work, it will make a difference in someway, someday. Write that letter, respond that that request, make the effort to talk to this person, do what you said you wanted to do or told someone you were going to do...put out your best effort. At least try...

As simple as it sounds it really has been a key component to whatever success I’ve had in life. When I focus on the work or thing I’ve committed to doing and complete the task, so often an opportunity arises later and I’m ready to jump on it because the work required has already been done.

What about you? What motivates you, what has made a difference in your life?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beauty Tip: Don't Skimp on the Sunscreen!

As I begin to look forward to my 50th birthday, I thought I'd share a little beauty tip that has worked for me: avoid the sun, or at least manage exposure in a smart way. If you are in your twenties, thirties or even forties, trust me, you'll thank me years from now!

When it comes to sun exposure, by default I've been lucky. I grew up in Nome, later moving to Seward, finishing high school and working the next several summers in the fisheries to pay for college. Try as I might, I was not going to get a tan. The rays were simply not strong enough and it was a rare day the temperature would hit a point that you would actually want to expose much skin!



Tanning was simply not possible. Not that I didn't want one. I read my beloved Seventeen magazines, looking at what girls in other parts of the country looked like. Lots of golden tanned skin! In addition, one of my biggest role models (seriously?!?) was my Suntan Barbie, complete which deep tan and long blond hair.

(Side note: My grandmother would stitch up all kinds of fabulous little outfits and send to me. I've saved them all and I just get such a kick out of seeing these once popular styles!)

Once I had children, however, I did begin to spend more time in the sun. A lot less time working indoors and a lot more time enjoying the outdoors with the kids! But I knew if I wanted to avoid sun damage and all that goes with that, I needed to get serious about using sunscreen.

Today my absolute favorite sunscreen for the face is from Peter Thomas Roth, Uber-dry SPF 30. Why? It truly does go on completely dry. This formula leaves no greasy film on your face, as many sunscreens do, which in my book is the biggest deterrent to applying sunscreen on a regular basis!

But at the same time, who wants to look like they've walked off the screen of the Twilight series! To get a sun- kissed look simply brush on a bit of bronzer. My favorite? Warmth by Bare Minerals.

What is your favorite beauty tip?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Words To Live By

I recently read the below on my friend Jade's blog, and thought it was a wonderful first post for the House of Fifty Blog. Enjoy!

"Lovely Advice"

  1. Drink plenty of water.
  2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
  3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
  4. Live with the 3 E’s - Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy
  5. Play more games.
  6. Read more books than you did in 2010.
  7. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
  8. Sleep for 7 hours.
  9. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

  1. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  2. Don’t have negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
  3. Don’t over do. Keep your limits.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  5. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
  6. Dream more while you are awake.
  7. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
  8. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
  9. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
  10. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
  11. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  12. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  13. Smile and laugh more.
  14. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

  1. Call your family often.
  2. Each day give something good to others.
  3. Forgive everyone for everything.
  4. Spend time with people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.
  5. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  6. What other people think of you is none of your business.
  7. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

  1. Do the right thing!
  2. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
  3. However good or bad a situation is, it will change. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
  4. The best is yet to come.
  5. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Welcome To The House of Fifty Blog!

Welcome to the House of Fifty Blog. We are excited to be adding this new feature to the House of Fifty website! Through the blog we will have the opportunity to present more frequent content on the topics featured in the magazine, cover some of the stories seen in the magazine in more depth and provide additional stories, building upon the idea of finding inspiration in the everyday.

Welcome and thank you for stopping by! Janell