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‘Organizing’ Category

  1. Cut the Purse Strings

    September 22, 2013 by 25hoursadaymom

    I’ve made a strange and probably drastic decision in my life. I’ve decided I’m going to stop carrying a purse. I would like to say that I decided this after many months of considering the burden carrying a purse has become in my life and the virtues of dragging around less clutter with me everywhere in an effort to live more simply. In fact, those thoughts have niggled the back of my brain many times over many years. But the truth is, this decision was thrust upon me by an intrusive and violent act. Recently, while watching my son, The Valiant, play his soccer game at a perfectly lovely Howard County park in the middle of a beautiful, temperate day, some creep smashed the window of my van and stole my purse.

    Aside from the obvious unsettling notion that some bonehead has my personal belongings, this is also a major pain in the butt.    Credit cards, bank card, checks, driver’s license, health insurance cards all had to be alerted for fraud and now replaced.  My car needs a very expensive repair. I even had a good Rita’s coupon in that purse. The only bright spot is that I now have a new photo on my license and my Costco card, both of which I’ve hated for years.

    There may be another bright spot, though. It has forced me to consider more fully (read: all-consuming way) the wisdom of toting all this crap around with me in the first place. Why did I leave my purse in the car, after all? Because I didn’t want to haul that 15 lb. jumble of excess to the field with me unnecessarily. Why do most women believe they need to carry a purse? Blue Collar Guy doesn’t carry a purse, yet he still somehow manages to buy gas and steaks and fishing lures. He could still check books out of the library (in theory). In the event of illness or accident, he still has his insurance card with him.

    Cute though my Vera Bradley Big Betsy purse was, I am not replacing it with another purse. I’m not entirely certain what I’m going to do instead, but so far, my plan is some combination of these:

    1. Use a neck pouch. I have been using this one, which is meant for outdoor sports and camping. This has a lot to recommend it. The only real drawback is that my phone has to be carried some other way, i.e., my pocket. It doesn’t look especially fashionable, so I’m not inclined to wear it somewhere I might care about that. The carabiner is nice for hooking my car key. An unexpected benefit is that it gives the impression to others that I have some sort of official authority. It looks like an ID lanyard.   I did also buy this one, which is meant for travel and preventing pick-pocketing, but I don’t like it. It’s too bulky to wear under your shirt and it’s so big that it looks immensely silly outside your shirt. The pockets also enter from the side, which is very awkward for removing cards or money at a cash register.

    2. Use a waist wallet. This is a very good solution when I don’t have a pocket for my phone. It does lay flat and comfortable and gives me only just a teensy “baby-bump” outside of my shirt if it’s underneath. My phone fits in and the horizontal zippered compartments are easy to access at a cash register. There is even a little loop onto which I can hook my car key.

    3. Get a wristlet. This is what I think I’ll use when I’m specifically going shopping or to any event where I need my cell phone, cash, several cards, ID, keys and a pen.

    4. Use pockets. I would say this is my first strategy, but women’s clothing are not often designed with useful pockets. Some skirts and skorts have no pockets at all. I am considering adding simple interior pockets to my unpocketed bottoms.

    Now that I’ve been going about purse-less for two weeks, I feel averse to having to carry anything like a purse again. It’s oddly freeing to go about with no purse. At first, you feel a little naked and you can’t believe how empty your hands/arms are. Now when I see a woman carrying some gigantic handbag, I can’t imagine what she could have in there that she can’t be without for a few hours.

    Have you done it? Have you decided to forego purse-carrying? I’m open to insight from anyone who has done so with success.

     

    -Danielle


  2. Remove Your Clothes

    January 8, 2013 by 25hoursadaymom

    Some of you may recall the post I wrote in response to Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7.  Overall, I found it thought-provoking and interesting, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why the chapter on Clothing bothered me.  In the book, she focused on one of seven areas to reduce to seven items for a month. For the clothing month, she chose seven articles of clothing to wear exclusively. I don’t remember exactly what she chose, but it was something like a black t-shirt, a pair of jeans, a skirt, cowboy boots, a short-sleeved shirt and I don’t recall the other two. (Underwear and socks were not part of the deal.)

    I think I’ve finally identified what it was that I didn’t like about that chapter. Choosing seven articles of clothing is, obviously, an extreme reduction for most first-world people. But cutting clothing down to seven pieces for a month doesn’t amount to anything meaningful if, at the end of the month, you simply revert to your previous clothing assortment.  If I recall correctly, Hatmaker did also cull and donate a lot of her clothing during her experiment, so it wouldn’t be fair to say it made no difference, but I admit I felt like there was no point swearing off clothing for a month if you’re just going to spring right back to a “normal” array of clothing like most westerners have. I wanted her to suffer, damn it!

    Just kidding.

    Kind of.

    I recently stumbled upon something called Project 333. That’s more like it! With Project 333, you choose 33 articles of clothing you will use exclusively for 3 months. I would piggy-back on that and say while you’re at it, get rid of nearly everything else for the current season that you didn’t select for the Project. Chances are good that you don’t need it. Then, when the 3 months are over and you move into the next season, repeat the procedure.

    If you’re a virgin to removing your clothing, you might not be able to start something like Project 333 right off the bat. First, go through closets and drawers and remove all the obvious unwanted or unneeded clothing – doesn’t fit, isn’t in style, never really liked it to begin with, Aunt Maude gave it to me, needs repair but I’m too lazy, doesn’t suit my life.  Once you’ve gotten rid of the clear losers, perhaps wait a few weeks or a month before you do the second culling. This involves getting rid of clothing that you could use, though you rarely do, that is nice, but is not your first choice. These can be much tougher to part with. Remember, though, you’re not giving away your first born; it’s just a sweater, for God’s sake! Naked into the world we came and naked will we leave. In between, a black t-shirt will be fine.

    I’ve been thinking about clothing and simplified living for several months. It’s been pecking at the back of my mind. For one thing, although I am a girl, I really hate shopping for clothing. I don’t want to look at 10,000 things, I just want to walk in, find a white shirt, pay for it and leave.  Most girl stores intimidate me. The assortment is endless. I dodge well-meaning sales help. It can’t be expensive, dry-clean-only, busy, fragile, low-cut or one of those tops you can only wear with another top underneath. (What’s up with that, anyway?) God knows, it can NOT be itchy! Soft is crucial.  I bought a sweater just before New Year’s at J.Jill. I thought it met my criteria, especially since it was half-price. Only once I tried to wear it, it felt like nine hundred ants were crawling around under it. That itchy beast is going back!

    I ordered a black t-shirt from Lands End today, on-line. Ahhh. No stores. No racks. Just click, type in coupon code and voila! Simple shirt on the way. I also have confidence because I have already bought t-shirts from Lands End. They are great staples. And since I’m going to be paring down to staples, that will be a very good thing.

     

    -Danielle


  3. Dinner Will Be Late

    November 4, 2012 by 25hoursadaymom

    A few months ago, I mentioned Exhibit A – a person in my life who thinks the children should not do work in the home. Unsurprisingly, there are other philosophical differences between myself and Exhibit A, a fact that was recently brought to my attention when E.A. harassed me…err…I mean, mentioned to me that I should have dinner ready for Miss Magnificent at 5:30, presumably moments after she gets home from soccer practice.  Well, now, for starters, this is logistically impossible. I am her ride home from soccer practice, which means that it would be rather difficult to stir-fry chicken while I’m on Marriottsville Road. Besides that, I’m at college two nights a week at that time.  If those two reasons are not enough, I also have two other children and one other parent who are leaving for soccer just as Miss Magnificent is arriving home.

    One rarity that I have gone to great lengths to preserve in my family is a family dinner.  Yep, that’s right. Five people sitting at a table in the actual Dining Room, eating off of ceramic plates and not drinking Coke. Also talking, laughing and being nourished, body and soul. We eat family dinners together the great majority of  the time – a practice I fiercely protect. But, let’s face it – this is hard to do with modern schedules.  I can appreciate the fact that there are some family structures where it is literally impossible more often than not.  However, for many, it’s more a matter of not considering it important and therefore, willingly relinquishing the quaint family meal.

    Since I do consider it important, though hard, this means dinner will be late.  Some nights, by most people’s standards, we eat absurdly late. 8:00. Nine, even. On the weekends, when our evenings are unencumbered by sports and activities, I still have not the slightest desire to get dinner going before perhaps 7:00.  I don’t like having to get busy cooking early, only to have this dead spot of inactivity between dinner and bed-time routines. Besides all that, if I eat so early, I just get the munchies by 9:00 and ruin my diet.

    So – that’s how I do it.  I honestly have no idea how families can eat at 5:00 or 5:30 if they do have kids in any activities or how this works with work obligations. I guess this is why so many eat fast food or non-meal foods, and why the notion of the family meal seems so antiquated nowadays.

    My friend, E.A. never did relinquish her view that I am simply wrong and dinner “must” be served well before 6:00.  I’m not really a fighter (well, I just passive-agressively prove her wrong on my blog), so I didn’t go far to convince her that my way is perfectly fine, but…it is. I’ve heard that most Europeans think Americans eat dinner absurdly early, so maybe I’m just having a flare-up of my European ancestry. I will not let my precious family dinners die out without a good, hard fight, so I’m doing it come hell or by crockpot, even if that means the kids can have Nutrigrain bars at 5:00 to tide them over until the pork chops can be ready.

     

    -Danielle


  4. Become a Happy Hooker

    November 12, 2011 by 25hoursadaymom

    Thought that would get your attention. Get your mind out of the gutter, I’m not talking about earning a little extra pizza money downtown, I’m talking about keeping order with items that like to find their way to the floor. Things like wet towels, sweatshirts and jackets.

    Let’s face it: everyone hates hangers. Little kids don’t know how to hang a jacket on a hanger and husbands/teenagers merely act like they don’t know how. Or consider towel racks.  Doesn’t it seem like they are never located where you actually need them to be?

    Enter the wonderful hook. They will make your life immensely easier. Several of my interior doors have hooks installed; Blue Collar Guy put them up one day when I promised him chocolate chip cookies or some equally well-enjoyed favor.  When they are not busy being practical, I use the door hooks to be quaint and whimsical:

    Isn’t that cute? I made that basket, by the way.

    If you don’t have permanent door hooks installed and there isn’t anyone nearby with a drill who could be bribed, you can discover the amazing Command non-permanent hooks by 3M.   The hooks can be mounted by a removable sticky pad, making them ideal when you don’t want to put holes in the door or wall just now. They are especially good for giving kids a hook that hangs at their level.  I did this for my boys so they would hang up their wet towels:

    You can see in this photo that there is a robe hook permanently installed on the door, but I used the Command hook down low, so the boys have no excuse.  This is also a great solution for kids’ jackets. It’s much easier for them to be neat with their things if they can reach a hook to hang things up.  Once they have the possibility of hanging things up, the only thing that remains to do is train them to do so. Yeah. I know. There’s the flaw in the plan. After all, Blue Collar Guy has his very own hook, but he still does this:

    Drives me straight out of my brain.

    Happy hooking!

    -Danielle