Get Your Sh*t Together

It’s that time of year folks. The birds start to chirp earlier,  the sun tries to warm us up and our schedules start to go in fast forward. I used to think it was just me who started to lose it this time of year but a quick sampling of my friends and family proves I’m not alone.  One friend who I consider one of those people who always has her act together (successful career, cute kids and family, great style) recently drove away with the gas pump still attached to her car. Twice. In the past 6 months. My sister was at my house yesterday for dinner and to have the kids play. We had a nice time while we vented to each other about how overwhelming our lives felt recently. When it was time to go she gathered her kids and was on her way. A little while later my husband came home. “What’s she doing here?” he said. “Who?” I said. He pointed at my sister’s beloved dog who she had brought over to run around in our  yard. Hmmm…I thought. I guess she needs that. I should call her. Despite the fact that I even I didn’t notice we had gained a pet  it could have been worse. It could have been one of her children she left behind.

Get Your Shit Together,

I often waste time wondering what exactly I am doing wrong.  A friend of mine recently had baby number 6. And you know what? She handles life like a boss. I know inside she probably feels she is failing at something. But here is her son’s school project.

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image via suziegaffney.com

And here is my son’s.

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image via suziegaffney.com

I did it when he was in the shower because I couldn’t bear to fight through the process with him. Yes we have had 2 weeks to do it and yes of course I am just getting to it tonight, after his baseball game. Oh and by the way it’s supposed to be a polar bear habitat. Can’t you tell?? Just look closely at the polar bear stickers I used. That should help.

Down With the Science Fair
image via Pinterest

I keep a small clutch inside my daily tote so I can pull it out when I am running errands during the day. For this reason I like to keep my smaller clutches easily visible. If I can’t see it I won’t use it. If I’m not using it then it is a complete waste of money. Being that I am visual in nature and I need to see things I also need to see them in an orderly fashion. It sounds a little OCD but it makes me feel better. But here’s the thing, most clutches don’t stand on their own. It’s like trying to prop up dead Bernie on Weekend at Bernie’s. They just keep falling down.  Some people may think I sound like a total princess to get annoyed by clutches not standing up. Don’t be mistaken. I am aware this is a minor problem.  However, when there are bigger issues of stress going on in my life I strive to keep order of what I can control of  the little things that I can control.

Weekend at Bernie's II funny then dog shit
Did anyone realize they made a number 2?? Wasn’t he like really, really, dead by then? Like smelly dead?? Ewwww.

When they all fall down the really stubborn  part of my brain fights this. I will keep trying to prop up the offending clutch that just won’t sit  up, getting more and more pissed off at a poor handbag. This is when the little things that are supposed to bring me order and calm actually make me want to go outside and beat the offending clutch. Kind of like the scene in the movie Office Space, played out along to “Damn it feel good to be a gangsta” by the Geto Boys. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsBB93IqJkE   The solution? It’s found in the kitchen supply isle of any home store. For just under $8.00 I lid rack will help me conquer the  battle of the limp clutch.

THIS

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image via suziegaffney.com

 

PLUS THIS

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image via suziegaffney.com

 

 EQUALS THIS

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image via suziegaffney.com

 

Which in turn leads to me feeling like this:

 

an iconic spa treatment: cucumber-on-eyes provide hydration to your eyes as well as relaxation!
image via Pinterest

It’s money well spent.

 *Insider Tip – Sometimes it is okay to sweat the small stuff.

Take a good look at your closet and decide what drives you the most nuts. Do you share a closet with your husband? Does he have a lot of dry cleaning? I know many a marriages that have been saved at the simple act of placing a small trashcan inside the closet to corral the trash that accompanies a freshly dry cleaned item.  Finding little pins, papers, tags and plastic bags on the floor of your closet can piss off the perkiest of a morning person.  You may never get your husband to detach said trash in an orderly fashion, and transport it out of the closet trashcan. In fact, you may have better luck potty training your dog. So stop complaining about the small things that drive you nuts and find a simple solution. Are you strangling in scarves? This little $10 beauty may just be a life saver.

College Closet Scarf Hanger Dorm Room Products Fun Items College Closet Organization Dorms
from Dormco.com

I am also bin obsessed. Bins come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Your sh*t just looks good when it is hidden inside a pretty bin.

Circo™ Linen Striped Tote - Set of 2 - Gray Birch
Circo™ Linen Striped Tote from Target

 *Insider Tip – Make it convenient.

I used to have the same battle with my son every morning before school. He would get himself dressed, brush his teeth and come downstairs for breakfast. He would be ready to go out to the bus stop as soon as he put on his socks and shoes. But he never brought his socks downstairs. For some reason he just could not complete that step when he was getting dressed. Sending him back upstairs for his socks was like moving a mountain. You think I was asking him to climb up the stairs of the Washington Monument they way he whined and complained. It finally dawned on me to take his socks out of sock drawer and put them in a bin in our downstairs coat closet, right near his shoes. When I am doing laundry all the socks just get tossed into the bin rather than taking an unnecessary trip upstairs. Plus now I have more drawer space in his dresser for his 6,000 t-shirts he can’t bear to part with. I choose to pick my battles one at a time.   So what are waiting for? Listen to Annie as she motivates Carol in one of the scenes from Bridesmaids

. Get your shit together Carol!! There are not words for how much I love this movie. -Bridesmaids-

Thanks for reading!

Suzie

 

P.S. Need a Laugh?

Want more examples of how parents slack off at the end of the school year? Make sure to check out Buzz Feed’s

Parents At The Beginning Of The School Year Vs. The End .

 

Accessory Anxiety

I have been very open about my fear and loathing towards cooking but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like to accessorize my kitchen. Hence my desire for a shiny bright red  Kitchen Aid stand mixer. I didn’t really know what I would do with it but I longed just to look at it.

Pretty…now what do I do with it?
image via bargainjack.com

I got my wish as a birthday gift from my mom and my sister a couple of years ago. After feeling overwhelmed by the sheer size of this beast of a machine I got up the nerve to try to make cookies. I made a mess. I broke down and called my friend Lauren. Lauren is one of those people who will bake all night long. She is crafty and creative and makes it all look effortless. But she is sweet as can be so you have to like her. Since she was kind enough to talk me through my mixer so I am happy to help her about with a little dilemma.

“My husband and I actually managed to get out for a date night (so very rare) and of course I was trying to pull something together that was a) clean and b) didn’t look like I’ve been living under a rock for the past 8 years!  Anyway – long story short – I managed – but it got me thinking that at some point you need to write some advice for those of us who feel like our 5-year-old playing dress up anytime we try to accessorize with more than a gold chain and our wedding ring.  You post all these pictures of pretty chunky necklaces or cool boots, etc – and I love the LOOK of them but I feel so silly when I put them on… almost like I’m playing dress up or trying too hard.  I can’t be the only one who suffers from this!  Anyway – just food for thought if you ever get writers block – you can just share for us your tips on not feeling ridiculous with accessories! 🙂  I love the look of a scarf or necklace or belt ON SOMEONE ELSE, but whenever I put it on me, I just feel silly :-(” – Lauren

I do know what Lauren means. When my kids were really little I almost stopped wearing any kind of jewelry. Big necklaces would be pulled on by toddler hands and dangling earrings look a toy to a baby, one that I don’t want pulled through my ears.  Once my kids got a little older I had to get back into the practice of accessorizing again.  And yes, at first it feels weird. But practice makes perfect. So here’s some tips to help you find your inner Holly Golightly.

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image via Pinterest

Start Small.

I mean this in the financial sense. There are fabulous accessories in the under $50 range. It could be as simple as a scarf in a bright color.

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image via Pinterest

The outfit below looks clean and polished. But the gold chains really pull the look together and finish the outfit. Chains like this are sold anywhere from Target to Nordstroms.

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Image via Pinterest

Keep it Simple.

Want to try a big necklace? Skip the earings or go for a simple stud. And don’t worry about it matching. The less effort it looks like you put into it the more casual it will feel.

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Image via Pinterest

The reason the outfit above works so well is because she kept everything else simple. Her hair is pulled up into a simple ponytail and she skipped earrings. Even her bag and shoes are understated.

Here’s another example.

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image via Pinterest

Here she has one of my favorites, the “Bubble” necklace. But she paired it with a simple button down and casual shorts and ballet flats. She looks comfy and stylish.

Mix it Up.

Use dress up jewelry but dress down your outfit. I love the look of a fancy pearl necklace with something opposite, like a broken in denim shirt.

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image via Pinterest

A glam necklace with a simple gray t-shirt.

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image via Pinterest

Or the simple elegance of this white on white combo.

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image via Pinterest

Coordinate with Color.

If the glitz and the glam is not your thing go for a pop of color.

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image via Pinterest

I love how leopard can read as a neutral and go with every color. Here’s the bubble necklace again and it looks amazing!

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image via Pinterest

This black dress goes from beautiful to beyond by adding in the orange for summer color.

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image via Pinterest

Still feeling unsure? Remember, as long as you pick out something you like you really can’t mess it up. There are no rules except to have confidence in what you are wearing. If you look like you like what you have on other people will see that in how you carry yourself. If you feel really uncomfortable accessories are easy to take off, they are not as big of a committment as a jacket or shirt. Sometimes you try something and we just know it’s not for you. I love the look of red lipstick but I end up looking like I made out with The Joker. I have no lips so it ends up everywhere, on my face, my teeth. Now I just stick to the sheer stuff.

*INSIDER TIPS

Host or attend a jewelry party. Stella and Dot is a fabulous company and their stylists are trained to help you find out what looks good on you. My sister is now a rep for the line and we are having so much fun with their spring collection.

Go to a boutique. Bring your outfit with you! The sales staff will be happy to help you accessorize your outfit perfectly. And if they aren’t then you are in the wrong store. Personally this is one of my favorite things to do to help a customer when they come in shopping. Picking out the accessories is like putting the icing on a cake – it makes everything look perfect!

Need a specific color? Try Charming Charlies. But be warned you will be overwhelmed. They are thousands of pieces and everything is organized by color. I don’t love everything but I love the idea of when I am in a rush for a specific color I can quickly scan a particular section.

Yellow jeans meet Yellow necklace.
Image via Pinterest

Oh and remember, if anyone looks at you funny or asks you why you are “all dressed up?”

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image via Pinterest

Shopping like a boss

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image via pinterest

Holiday shopping requires a different kind of finesse to navigate the sea of stores, sales and crowds. This is where the women are separated from the wimps, the pros from the amateurs,  it’s the big time. You need to have a plan. Get in, get it and get out.

image via m.simon.com

Here are some techniques to help save you some time and patience.

Shop at off hours. Most stores have crazy extended hours. Most people use those hours the day before Christmas. Use them now. Walking around Target at 9:30 at night with a piping hot Starbucks all by yourself is dare I say relaxing. Walking around Target at 9:30 in the morning on a Saturday with a cup of Starbucks you waited in a 30 minute line for is dare I say dangerous to your mental health. And go in your pajamas if your more comfortable. No one cares, it’s late and we are all tired.

Maybe you’ll run into Ryan Gosling while he’s wearing his pajamas and you two will have something to talk about.
Image via styleite.com

Shop with the invisible baby – or two. Take your jumbo stroller (the travel system works nicely) or even a double umbrella will do the trick and turn it into your own personal assistant. It will hold your bags, your coffee, your jacket, your phone. All the essentials. It will clear through crowds like a tank. Don’t have one? Borrow one from a friend. They won’t think it is weird if you explain it. I know it is annoying when your kids are little and you are lugging that dirty crumb collector everywhere but there will come a time when your kids are older and you miss that extra helping hand to store all your stuff.

Look, Gwen Stefani even makes pushing a stroller look cool.
image via Just Jared

Will you get weird looks? You betcha. Especially older people. They love to stop and make a comment like “Looks like you’re missing your baby!” Since it is sometimes hard to tell if they are joking or not you can politely explain that this is your shopping cart or for added fun you can act shocked and start to frantically shout “Kevin! Kevin! Where are you!”

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image via pinterest

Wear layers.Even if the weather outside is frightful the inside of crowded malls is usually warm. Wear basics and layers to make it easy to try on clothes (you know you will still be doing a little shopping for yourself). Pick shoes or boots that slip on and off and are comfortable.  Don’t bring in a bulky jacket that you have to carry around, instead opt for a cozy heavier cardigan or sweater.  Use a crossbody or messenger bag to keep your hands free. You can wear a scarf to keep warm and if sale and crowd pushing  makes you work up a sweat just tie it to the strap of your messenger bag.   (all images below via pinterest)

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I personally avoid the malls as much as I can. I prefer smaller stores. The staff is knowledgeable and the customer service is excellent, it has to be these days to compete with online pricing. My neighbor and friend owns a toy store called Wackadoodles which is every bit as fun as it sounds. She has saved me in many situations where I have simply called ahead, told her the age of the birthday boy or girl, price range etc and she will have it wrapped and ready to go. I have pulled up my car curbside so I can simply grab and go. I have even paid over the phone to save time.

image via http://www.WackadoodlesToyShop.com

*INSIDER TIP –  If you need help ask. Some stores, especially smaller specialized boutiques, have very knowledgeable sales staff. They can make recommendations quickly based on your price range. And if you don’t see what you need out on the floor they may be able to special order it or check their back stock. Sometimes the stores get so busy and do not get a chance to restock the merchandise. And be nice to the sales people. They go through some serious hell this time of year. If you are the least bit nice to them they will be really nice to you.

 *INSIDER TIP –  Find out what the return policy is. This is so important. Keep your receipts together in a special place and mark the return date in highlighter. If Aunt Marge tells you she is a small but turns out the small won’t fit over her head you want to be able to return or exchange it. Most stores have different exceptions to their usual policies, with varying extended dates.

*INSIDER TIP – Still stuck on the perfect gift? Give the gift of a clean closet. I have done many closets where I was hired via a gift certificate. Not in a your-style-is-awful-so-here’s-a-makeover-way but in a I-know-you-are-sick-of-your-closet kind of way. I can send the gift certificate all boxed up and pretty directly to you or the recipient. You can purchase a one hour mini/starter session for $75.00. It sounds counterintuitive but when you have less stuff you wear more of it. It actually saves you money from going out and buying more stuff. Plus many clients get a decent amount back after we consign some of their items. You could end up making money!

So grab a latte and get going! I wish you Godspeed in your shopping.  BRING IT.

tm
image via Not Another Teen Movie

These Boots Were Made For Walking – Ashley’s top picks from Ashley Austin Boutique

These Boots Were Made For Walking – Ashley’s top picks from Ashley Austin Boutique

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Go grab a coffee. Or a cocktail. This post is about shoes and there is no way it is going to be short. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Imagine you are having the perfect dream. It’s about shoes, tons of shoes. And they are displayed like works of art in a museum.

And all of your girlfriends are hanging out in the museum laughing, chatting, and having a blast. There is wine. And there are cupcakes. This is exactly what it is like to step into the Ashley Austin Boutique in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

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Hey, it’s my dream and if I want a tub made to look like a high heel I can have it.
image via pinterest

To start the place is beautiful. And everyone that works there is beautiful. You almost want to dislike them because it all seems too perfect but you can’t. They are nice, super nice. And funny. And magically you feel beautiful, funny, smart and nice when you are there. It is like a magical dust that sprinkles over you as soon as you step through the door.

I used to feel awkward going into smaller boutique type stores. I always felt like I had to buy something so it didn’t look rude. Kind of like going into someone’s home and you feel you have to find something nice to say. Even if it is a hoarders trailer on the edge of a swamp I feel compelled to find something, anything, nice to say.”Wow, I love the pretty home sweet home sign you have spelled out with cigarette ashes on your table!” But I promise you Ashley Austin is not that kind of place. (That you feel like you have to say something nice OR that you feel like you have to buy something – trust me you will want to do both!) There is no pressure ever to buy but I dare you to leave without anything.

Funny Cry for Help Ecard: 'Ugh I can't believe I have to go out and buy a new pair of shoes!' ...said no woman ever.

I stopped in the other day to see what Ashley had handpicked for the Fall season. Each and every shoe is picked out by Ashley and reflects her taste for something that is wearable and unique. These are not the shoes that you will see on everyone else everywhere you go, so be prepared for some serious shoe envy when you are out and about. I couldn’t wait to get Ashley’s input on what she considered must-haves for Fall.

Up first, THE Hunter Wellie.

I bought mine a couple of years back and they are the best. And trust me, I tried to buy the cheapie version rainboot but it was uncomfortable and fell apart. These boots last and are sooooo comfortable. The very best part? Purchase the sock insert as an add on and Voilà!, now you have a snow boot.

Next, the Bootie. Not to be confused with the Booty.

The Booty, courtesy of my most adorable nephew Mason.
The Bootie, courtesy of Ashley Austin.

This shoe is perfect with just about everything. Have you seen pics of Katie Holmes rocking hers all over NYC? They are perfect for on the go because they are totally comfortable on your feet, and, they give you just enough height so that your jeans are dragging on the ground. Perfect for walking away from ex-husbands and Scientology.

image via fabsugar.com

Also a must have for boots? The Frye boot.

This classic company has been making boots since the late 1800s. Originally made as a classic harness workboot they now range to all different heights, colors, and even sleek styles. I purchased my first pair last year and you will have to pry them out of my cold, dead hands because I will have them forever.

I think I’ll take both….

Smoking loafers aka smoking slippers.

If there was a current “it” shoe for the season it would be these flats. Pretty AND comfortable, and in a leopard print they are too cute for words. And your feet will thank you.

Don’t forget the extras…

Bags.

And more bags!

Ah-May-Zing scarves, jewelry, perfume, candles….

I grabbed this before I left.

It is reversible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love that!!!!

And I desperately want these but cannot settle on colors – too many good choices. If I was less selfish they would make a fabulous personalized gift.

Did I mention they get new deliveries almost every day? They were just unpacking these cuties before I left.

*Insider Tip – Take care of your shoes. It is a small price to pay if you invest in the proper care product up front. Condition your shoes and protect them at the beginning and middle of each season, and in a perfect world before you put them away at the end of the season as well. You will be so happy you did when your small child spills milk on them. I am speaking from experience. Frye has a wonderful treatment sold right at Ashley Austin.

*Insider Tip – Store your tall boots properly. Again, given unlimited resources a true boot tree insert is wonderful.

image via mylovelybigfeetblog.com

Under my normal person circumstances you can use an empty wine bottle (they magically appear in our house….), an extra-large water bottle, a “swim noodle”, and rolled up magazines (the large Fall Fashion issue size).

image via smilesgowitheverything.com
image via pinterest.com

Okay so now I know you are dying to get into Ashley Austin. Here’s all the info….

106 West State Street Kennett Square, PA 19348

ashley@ashleyaustinboutique.com

610.925-5900

Like them on facebook to receive the updates on their new finds.

http://www.ashleyaustinboutique.com

Mon – Fri: 10:00 am 6:00 pm
Sat: 10:00 am 5:00 pm
Sun: 11:00 am 3:00 pm
And if you needed an excuse to get out….

Meet your new BFFs…

Meet your new BFFs…

This weeks post is one big *INSIDER TIP……

SHOP THE HARDWARE STORE. 

Whether it is your locally owned hardware store or one of the big gigantic retailers they have some of the best tools for getting your closet whipped into shape for the upcoming fall season. Here are some of my favs.

3M COMMAND HOOKS

Can I get a “Hallelujah?” These hooks can and will change your life. You know how I am always preaching about to display your accessories because if you can see them you will use them? These hooks make this possible in a way that is so easy you will almost feel guilty about it, kind of like that feeling I get when I watch A&E’s show Intervention while I am drinking a glass of wine.  Or how I feel when I watch ABC’s The Bachelor Pad.  So wrong yet so satisfying.

Now the commercials are cheesy. Really bad. But you don’t have to act like the medicated mother in the ad that just cleaned up her messy teenage daughter’s room. Although I did smile really big when I realized how easy these are to install. In an ideal world all my things would be hung from gorgeous hooks purchased at Anthropologie or at a Parisian flea market. However, due to time and  money constraints those two things are not happening. And my husband is very kind about installing what I have purchased but it is a committment. He is none too thrilled when 2 months later I ask him to remove whatever he drilled into the wall and he has drag out spackle and paint to cover the holes.

The 3M hooks come in multiple sizes and colors. Pay attention to the sizes and to the weights that each size carries. Oh and actually do read and follow the directions on the back.  There are instructions on the back for how to remove the hooks safely without the use of spackle. Also they ask that you wait (I know, so hard to do) about 1 hour or so before actually hanging anything on your hooks, giving the sticky stuff more time to adhere to the wall without any weight pulling on it. If you ignore this like I did then  you may wake up to an alarming thud in the middle night, scaring the bejesus out of you and causing your husband to roam around the dark house with a baseball bat .”No Honey! That is just my belts that fell down into my closet! Now we can go back to bed! Sorry you have no one to play baseball with!”

image via lolriot.com

My favorite is the clear or white because I like the way they sort of disappear when I hang something on them. The uses and placements are endless. You know that vast no-mans land that builders leave up high in our closets? You can mount these hooks up high and hang up bags that you don’t use that much. Suddenly that space becomes more useful than those counselors they place in the back of the limos with the rejected Bachelor contestants. My collection that was outgrowing my metal racks can now be spread out, with some of the more dainty and delicate ones hanging on the new smaller hooks . Thus helping to eliminate my screaming like a toddler with a temper tantrum when the smaller ones get tangled with the other ones.

They are also perfect for that awkward recess of wall space on the side of closets.

I hung some on the back of my door for my everyday belts.

And before you think “Wow, she really has her belts paired” down I will show you what used to be drawer of shame and how I fixed it. When I started working at Elizabeth Maar Boutique about 10 years ago I had maybe 2 belts. Fast forward a few years and due to the store’s amazing collection of belts my collection has reproduced like bunnies. It was getting out of control.

Hardware store find #2 to the rescue….

TOOL CHEST DRAWER ORGANIZERS

image via searsoutlet.com

These are usually sold in packs of 3 and are the perfect depth and height to fit into most drawers. Their little cubbies corral all sorts of clutter – socks, jewelry, etc. but I love them for my belts.

There, much better.

And my other favorite item from the hardware store is. . .

GLOSSY BLACK SPRAY PAINT

My favorite brand is the one pictured above. Mostly because the trigger does not hurt my fingers (I am a wimp) and it has a primer AND IT COVERS EVERYTHING!!!

I love to repurpose stuff I already have so that I can go out and spend more money on clothes. I’m kidding.  Sort-of.  I think there are simple things that we should all have in our closet to make life easier, a step stool to reach up high, a trash can for tags and threads, and a bin for hangers that are coming or going. In a limited space I like to unify with a color and most items when repurposed look fabulous with glossy black. So you can take the old stepstool from your kid’s bedroom with the little animals on it and paint it shiny black for you to use. This of course is provided your child has outgrown the step stool. I am not suggesting you steal items out of your child’s room just to make your life simpler, although I have.  In the example below I took my proliferate collection of faux terra-cotta planter pots, purchased at a time when I thought I would want beautiful flower pots blooming on my patio. But summer comes around and me and my black thumb don’t water and kill all the plants. In return I have a plethora of pots. I spray painted some glossy black and they are perfect catchall for hangers inside my closet.

But beware, updating things with spray paint is addicting. I started doing frames, chairs, and I even considered the dog just to get rid of the tri-colored shedding of the beagle hair. Just kidding, Duke.

The point of all this is to THINK OUT OF THE BOX. There are useful solutions all around to simplify our lives. I firmly believe in starting with your closet because this is where you start your day. The above solutions are no fuss, no mess and super quick, like the Tom and Katie divorce. No time for this? Remember I have quick fix  mini sessions where I can whip the chaos into shape in 1 hour. Think of it like paying someone to detail your car, outsource it, it’s done, and move on to bigger and better things. And I promise not to spray paint your dog or steal items from your kids’ rooms.