Ask Away...: September 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Too Much On Your Plate? How to Lighten the Load







 Something funny happened at our wedding shower this Summer. One of the games was a quiz where people had to determine if the statement was about James or myself.  One of the statements was "I run the household."  And almost all of the women in attendance knew right away that it was me. 



That's because most of us feel the same way.  It doesn't mean we call the shots and get to control everything.   No no, you see the runner of the household tends to be the one that not only does a lot of physical tasks like cleaning and cooking, but the mental tasks.

If you were to write down all of the tasks you have to handle in a week I bet some of them would include reminding others (husband, kids, etc.) to do things.  No wonder we feel so overwhelmed.   We take on so many tasks that we even have to remember things for other people.   And as much as we may want to become resentful of the other household members for not helping out, you can't be mad.  You have to take action.   Here's how to lighten your load so you have more time for yourself and you don't feel so frazzled.

[1] Discuss
Let your family know that you feel so overwhelmed anymore and it's causing you to neglect yourself.   You should totally be able to schedule a few hours for yourself in the span of a week.   Give them a heads up that you will be asking for help with some things you do regularly and if someone gets defensive and feels like you're accusing them of not doing enough, let them know that's NOT the case.

[2] Delegate
Taking the trash cans to the curb every week may not take long, but it's a task you have to mentally remember to do.  Why not assign it to someone else.   Worried they will forget? Write a note and keep it on the calendar so you can either shout out "It's trash night!" when you get something out of the fridge, or have them write it somewhere they will see on a weekly basis.  There are a lot of tasks that can be delegated.   If you are constantly reminding your kids or your husband of their appointments or important birthdays,  consider using a smartphone app that sends reminders to them about those things or even just calling attention to the fact that everything will be on the calendar in the kitchen (or wherever) and it's on THEM to pay attention to it.

[3] Make Charts
A great way to make sure everyone is clear about what they are responsible for is to simply make a chart and put it in a central location like the fridge door.   It can have the regular weekly or daily tasks everyone is responsible for along with anything that comes up on a spur the moment basis.

[4] Plan
Plan everything out so it's not a thought that keeps swimming in your head all day.  I use daily to do lists for myself of even the tiniest tasks, just so that I don't forget. I plan meals out 2 weeks in advance and have my grocery lists all ready to go.  I plan out where all of my money will go from each paycheck, and I plan out any appointments (hair, doctors, nails) well in advance so it never pops up last minute and I can't get it done.


With a bit of planning and asking for help, you can definitely lighten your load and not feel so bogged down.


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Monday, September 25, 2017

Books I Recommend You Read [September]

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Another month of some amazing books, including new releases for Fall! Enjoy!




Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed 

This is an interesting science fiction read about a place where daughters come to fruition and are bred to make babies and when your job is done you can die. But there's a lot of twisted stuff that goes on and some badass girls that want to rebel. It's a very interesting book!



Mrs Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

Once again Tom Perrotta gives us a juicy novel about suburban life with a twist of scandal. Mrs. Fletcher explores her own fantasies while her son is away at college learning that he should tone it down with his. This is such a guilty pleasure of a read!




The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham
WOW this was an awesome thriller about two women that are pregnant and become friends. But as the story unravels, one of them is lying and it's very twisted! Stolen babies, affairs, etc.



One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus
This is a great young adult book about 4 high school students at the center of the death of another student. Everyone has a straight story but it still doesn't add up.  It's told through the perspective of each student.   Really great and easy read. 



Little Monsters by Kara Thomas
This is an amazing thriller of a fiction novel about a girl and her step siblings and how when one of her friends goes missing, she's at the center of it all.  I raced through this book with different evolving theories. It has a great ending as well!




All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown

This book was so awesome and juicy, about a family that is breaking apart and when the oldest daughter comes to live back at home temporarily because of her own drama, she learns her other family members have just as much scandal as she does.



All We Have Left by Wendy Mills

This is an amazing book (fiction) that involves a few main characters in the times before and after 9/11.  A muslim girl goes to visit her dad at work when the towers fall, and she becomes trapped inside with a boy named Travis who dies.  Intermittently told in the present is the story of Jesse, sister of Travis, who is trying to figure out why her brother was at the towers the day he died. What an amazing read!



Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

This is another fictional novel set in the days and months during and after 9/11.  It follows 3 teens as they cope with the tragedy in the city they live in and love so much.  It's a great read!


Miss You by Kate Eberlen
I loved this book. It's about two people that cross paths at 18 and then their lives keep intercepting where they run into each other without even knowing it. It covers their lives separately and the relationships and experiences they go through before finally meeting back up. 




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Friday, September 22, 2017

Kristina Rihanoff's New Life Outside of Dancing



Kristina Rihanoff recently attended London Fashion Week to show off her new collection of dresses. She worked with London-based designer Pia Michi to design the dresses. Kristina is a dancer on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. The 39-year-old dancer displayed her hourglass figure by wearing one of her own designs. She wore a stunning yellow silk dress and answered questions about how she juggles work and family life.

Kristina credits her beau for being around so that she can pursue her love of fashion. Ben Cohen is a former rugby player. The two met on the set of Strictly Come Dancing and have a young daughter, Milena. Ben is a hands-on dad, which allows Kristina to spend time designing dresses.

The clothing collection that Kristina shares with Pia Michi features long, fitted gowns and cocktail dresses. Many of the dresses are sparkly and have unique embellishments. While Kristina loves dancing and fashion, she does admit that motherhood changed her priorities. For example, she no longer worries about her weight and is better at shrugging off negative comments.

After the birth of her daughter, Kristina worked hard to tone her body properly. With that said, she took her time before returning to exercise. She wanted to get her lean figure back the healthy way. Following the birth of her daughter, she used a combination of yoga and dancing to get in shape.

Kristina used yoga after her pregnancy so that she could rebuild her core strength. She did not want to start dancing again until she was in better shape. She credits yoga for helping her get stronger. Kristina is a qualified yoga teacher. She has been a yoga participant for 18 years.

Once she felt stronger, she started incorporating dancing into her workouts. In addition, she also altered her diet. She started eating a vegan diet, which helped played a role in getting her lean figure back. Kristina now feels good in her own clothes again. She enjoys spending time with Ben and Milena. She still dances when she has a chance and loves the challenge of creating a successful fashion line.











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Outfit of the Day: Feelin' Fall






Fall weather means Fall colors and patterns and that's why I'm obsessed with my kimono (the LuLaRoe Shirley).  It's sheer and has a gorgeous Fall floral theme on it.  The colors are perfect for Autumn.




This is a great look for cooler weather because if I get too hot I can just take the Shirley off. Underneath is just black leggings with a plain white tee.


What patterns do you wear in the Fall?



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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Target Deals Round Up

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Who doesn't love Target?! Seriously, I can't go in there for just one item. I always end up leaving with a whole cart full of stuff. 


Today I wanted to share a few deals with you so that you can take advantage of them and embrace your love of Target!




For the home...
If you shop online from 9/24 through 9/30 and spend $150 on furniture you will get a $40 gift card! The promo code is HOME.  Shop here for furniture.


Also if you spend $50 on furniture, bedding, home decor, and rugs and you use the promo code HOME you'll get a $10 gift card! Shop here for home goods.




For Halloween...


Get shopping for costumes now and from 9/24-9/30 get 20% off! Shop here for Halloween costumes.

For anything....
And of course you can get free shipping on orders of $35 or more.
So what are you waiting for. Shop today!










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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Outfit of the Day: Feathers and Denim






These leggings are so cute. They have feathers and dream catchers on them and I love the colors because they are perfect for Fall.





This shirt actually matches the one color in the feathers so it's a perfect outfit and I topped it off with a denim jacket.



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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

[Planning Our Wedding] Photo Props, Layout, + To Do List






 EEEEEK! You guys! It's less than a month away!

I have spent the past few weekends doing some finishing touches on everything for the wedding.

[PHOTO PROPS]
So we had some major rain for like 2 weeks straight so I took advantage of that time to use my remaining wedding budget on craft supplies to make photo props to use during our reception party. 


I love how they turned out! I can't show you what the prop signs say because I don't want to spoil it but of course since I got to use my sense of humor, I am telling you these are going to be great!   And the frame was super easy to make I just used a hot knife (the tool, not an actual hot knife, lol) to cut foam board and then painted it with the colors from my bouquet and then used tacky glue to put some embellishments on.  I can't wait to use it the day of the party!

[LAYOUT]
I have a chart drawn up for which tables and chairs will go where and what things go on which table.  This is going to save me some major time and energy the day of the party.  If someone asks me where something goes - I can just point to the chart.  But it also is great because it gave me some time to see how stuff is gonna look and if it will all fit on the same table, etc.  

[TO DO LIST]
So you know me, I'm a planner but I love to-do lists as well so I combined both of those.   There were so many random things floating around in my head like "Oh I should definitely remember to move these out of the garage a few days before so we can sweep in there." But by the time an event day comes around I always forget something.

So I wrote everything and I mean EVERYTHING that still needs done before the big day of the party.  Then I assigned a day/date to it.  Then I made a new list that goes by date, and on that day I'll just look at what's listed and do it.  I left NOTHING out, I assure you.  It gives me so much peace of mind.


THIS IS IT!!! The next update will be pictures and a summary of how it all goes.   And you'll be excited to know we stayed within our budget of $2,500. Of course I'll do a post probably in November on how to do a wedding JUST LIKE OURS and save money.




Monday, September 18, 2017

Finding The Garden Style That Is You



Canada has become quite a bit more diverse over the past couple of decades.  Always a patchwork arrangement, there are now architectural influences coming from everywhere.  Some of the newer subdivisions in Ontario are actually Californian in design, despite the fact that they are nowhere near Phil and his golden surfer voice.  At the same time, the notion that Canadians need to be any one way about design and their lifestyle is probably not that popular anymore.  Going forward, it is easy to imagine that whatever style or culture catches one's eye will be the theme that holds your home's interior or your garden's shape together.

Here are some styles that are making a difference for Canadians as they move forward:

Japanese:

There aren't many Toronto landscapers that have not come across a request by homeowners to create a Japanese style garden.  One of the nice things about Japanese gardens is that they are capable of creating a sense of nature and harmony in a really confined space.  So if you are short on space in a particular part of your yard, it is a style that might work.

At the same time, most people understand that the Japanese architectural aesthetic is to have a home with strong walls around the yard, an integrated yard, and then a house that has soft openings that slide back to reveal a situation where the home becomes part of the yard for those living inside it.  Juxtapose that with the traditional North American home, where the home is supposed to contain hard walls and there may or may not be external estate walls, and you can start to see how integrating a Japanese garden into your back yard can make a large difference in your lifestyle.

Chinese:

It is said that Chinese gardens all require a water feature in order for them to be complete.  In fact, if you visit China, you might notice that in addition to water features, the gates and the walls that are decorated form a large part of the styling that is not natural within a garden.  The rest of the garden is typically going to be a natural arrangement of stones, water, earth, and plants.   You can normally tell the difference in architectural style between North and South China.  Southern China has fewer plants integrated into a traditional garden.

Peruvian Incan:

Although it hasn't appeared too much in the Ontario area yet, the Inca penchant for creating water features that feed an entire yard full of carefully arranged plants is definitely something that Canadians will be interested in looking into.  One feature of a Peruvian Incan garden is a stone wall with incredibly detailed carving.  In addition to carving, Inca walls are also noted for being put together without mortar or fasteners.  The stones are cut so perfectly that they can just place pieces of the wall in where they need them.

Spanish:

Although there are several types of Spanish garden, one of the more classical examples that people remember is the Alhambra in Granada.  The key with Spanish garden emulation in Ontario is to match the plants that you would like to exhibit and make sure that they can conform to the Canadian climate.  Another consideration is the type of ceramic tile work that you find in Spain.  They are not normally built for Canadian climates- and so there have been many owners over the years who have pulled their tile installation when they found out it wasn't as sturdy when it was installed in their Canadian backyard.


Finding a garden landscaper in Toronto or Ontario that can put in almost any type of landscape for you is becoming easier and easier.  If you spend a small amount of time online looking, you will likely locate a landscaper whose work is guaranteed and conforms to the ideas that you have regarding what a perfect back yard should be made of.










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Outfit of the Day: That Paisley Love

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This is still my favorite skirt EVER and I never used to wear paisley. I love all the colors in it too. When I see paisley normally it has more brown, orange, and yellow tones and I think that's why I wasn't a fan.  This skirt, however, has pink, purple, and green which makes it one of my favorite color combinations in my closet.


Do you wear paisley?





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Friday, September 15, 2017

Ready To Roll? How To Buy A Family Car

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Looking after your family is always going to be your number one priority, and so if you cut any corners when it comes to safety, you will pay for it in one way or another, especially when you are buying a car. It can be very easy for you to cut back on certain things if you're buying a car for your own personal use, but when you are buying for the family, you need to make sure you are getting the safest facilities for your money. And here are some things to consider.


Do The Research First
Depending on where you live you can benefit from looking at the Euro NCAP test results, or if you live in America, it's the NHTSA ratings. And these organizations test every single aspect of modern cars so you can trust in their results to give you a decent overall guide, depending on the car that you have your eye on.


Weighing Up The Cost
Of course we all want the best for our families, but you need to weigh up your financial commitments and think about what you can realistically afford to pay. There are plenty of people that buy cars on a lease and struggle to make monthly payments because they are choosing style over substance. The same applies when looking for insurance quotes, and there are websites like cheapautoinsurance.co that gives you the price comparisons in each American state. But when it comes to looking at your overall budget, a car can be a massive drain on your finances, not just the insurance and the value of the car itself, but also the upkeep and the cost of fuel.


Don't Settle For The First Car You See
It can be very intimidating for anybody going into a dealership without much knowledge of the type of car that they are after, and so a lot of us are willing to settle for what we are told is a good quality car for our needs. But the fact is that the dealers are no doubt trying to make a quick sale to bump up the commission, so make sure you try and strike a good deal for your needs. It's always best to look at the consumer reviews, and there are sites like kbb.com that give detailed reviews as well as general costs in terms of ownership.


Think About Your Intentions As A Family
Are you thinking of having more children in the near future? Or do you have one young child right now and that's how you plan on keeping it? Both questions will result in different types of choices for cars, not to mention the fact that with one child there is a lot of day-to-day luggage, so if you are planning on expanding your brood, you may want to think about something larger like an SUV.


Everybody has their own ideas for their perfect car, but when it comes to having the welfare of your family at the forefront of your mind, there are many things you need to bear in mind, right down to the moment you walk into that dealership. So, think on.


















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What It's Like to Own A Rat

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Before you shriek at the though of owning a rat as a pet INSIDE your home, just stop. Most of what people say is just a misconception. 
First of all, let me just give you a few awesome facts about rats.

Rats have been known to take care of injured and sick rats in their group and without companionship or at least interaction with their human owner, they can become lonely and depressed.

They also have great memory and become creatures of habit, following the same paths to get somewhere. 

Contrary to popular belief, rats are very clean animals and spend hours each day grooming themselves. They are actually less likely to catch or transmit a parasite or virus than a dog or cat!

The freaky tail you probably don't like? Relax, it's like that so they can balance when moving around and it also helps regular their body temperature. 

Rats have very similar genes to that of humans which is why they are used for testing.  

So that all being said - I love rats.  Currently I have a rat named Charlotte. She's about two years old and is super sweet. She gets upset if I don't hold her every day.  


Owning a rat is really fun and they are very easy pets and are great with kids.  Unlike most small critters, rats LOVE being held.   I used to own gerbils and trust me, they aren't fond of being handled.  Rats on the other hand will get used to your smell, touch, and voice and you'll often notice they are excited when you enter the room and go to get them out of the cage.

The cost to own a rat is minimal. Food and bedding is pretty much it.  The initial cost is probably the most - a cage, water bottle, toys, etc.  I clean Charlotte's cage once a month and feed her every morning. If I don't feed her when she hears me wake up, she rattles the side of her cage!




One of the best and most important parts of owning a rat is keeping them entertained and interacting with them.  My favorite way to do that with Charlotte is with the Kaytee Crinkle Tunnel that I got from Chewy!



Charlotte loves this thing! It encourages exploration, exercise, and tunneling activity and it's machine washable! It's great for ferrets, chinchillas, small rabbits, and other critters.  It stretches to 23" in length and has a circular opening on both ends and one on the top for her to peek out of! 




Charlotte seems to really like the crackling sound it makes and she loves running through it as fast as she can, popping out on the other side, then going back in!





I used it outside of her cage so it doesn't get too dirty but it's also a great excuse to have her out on the floor or in my lap. STAY WITH YOUR PET AT ALL TIMES obviously! This is a really durable toy and if you have a small animal, consider getting one!


Never let your dog or cat and your rat interact without you their to supervise and when you have them in the same room together, make sure you reward them both so it's a pleasant experience.  I keep these Natural Balance Tender Cuts treats from Chewy on hand so I can reward the dogs for sharing some attention with Charlote. Make sure you feed an all natural treat like these so you aren't filling your pooch with artificial ingredients! These treats are soft, too so it makes it easy to continuously reward the dogs with them every couple of minutes.


The dogs definitely don't mind Charlotte and she's not phased by them either.

So basically - rats are awesome and if you're looking for an easy to care for critter that you can interact with I definitely recommend a rat!

Have you ever had a rat as a pet?

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Purging the Things You Own Too Many Of








We are all guilty of excessive stuff.   I definitely was until I KonMari'd my entire life and home.  Most of us don't even realize how much we have until we sit down and gather all the things in a certain category.  So whether you just don't have time to KonMari yet or you don't know where to start - I'm going to help you out today.  


Below is a list of things you probably have too many of and can easily be purged.  You don't have to turn your entire home upside down.  All you have to do is just gather each item up by going through each room quickly, or by checking the common places where an item like this might be (for instance - scissors are usually found in the office, the garage, and the kitchen.) And with each item I'll talk you through the logic that you probably don't need 10 of that one item.


[BRAS]
I only own 2 bras - a nude and a black, but I used to own about 10, in all different colors and they never fit nicely in a drawer.  I ended up only wearing the same 3 because I didn't like digging down for the others.  This also includes sports bras.  Take them all out and put them on the bed.  First take out any that are torn, too worn in, or the wrong size.  You can definitely get rid of those and if you aren't sure if some still fit, try them on!  Then look at all the colors and types. Are there cheaper ones you don't like wearing? Are there any colors that just don't blend in under any color top, so you seriously wear it once a year? Get rid of it! Your lingerie drawer will thank you! 


[UNDERWEAR]
Just like bras, underwear can be stuffed so far into a drawer that you only end up wearing the same ones week after week (after washing of course).  Dump your drawer out and go through one by one.  First pitch any underwear with rips, tears, or really bad stains.  Then look at the ones that you don't wear often and ask yourself why.  Are they ugly? Not comfy? Whatever the reason, ask yourself if it's worth keeping or not.  When you're done and you put them back in your drawer you'll be impressed by the extra space you have.

[SOCKS]

Socks are another thing that we keep wearing even when they are beat up and have holes.  A good rule of thumb is that when you take them off for the night, before throwing them in the hamper, check to make sure there are no holes. If there are, pitch 'em! Anyways, look at all your socks and then get rid of the ones that are uncomfortable or itchy and any that are excessively stretched. 


[SCISSORS]
Pretty much everyone at one point in their life has about 10 pairs of scissors.  Go from room to room, checking drawers and desks until you have gathered all the scissors.  Then decide if you really need them all. One pair is always good for the kitchen, one for the office, and if you have kids, kid scissors generally go in each of their rooms.  It's easy to purge crappy scissors if you check a few things. Are the blades still sharp? And is it coated with glue or some other sticky substance that makes it hard to use? Of course you can wash them off but sometimes they are just too far gone. 


[TAPE]
Why is it that you always find tape in random places but whenever you actually need it in a rush, it's nowhere to be found?  That's why I highly suggest you gather all of your tape and then redistribute throughout the house.  I have some in the office, some in the kitchen, and if you have kids, obviously the kids rooms will need them.  But also, the excess tape should go in one spot like a utility closet or the office. This way, you don't buy more and more tape because you'll know where to go to use up your current stock first.


[PENS]
Pens pens everywhere! The bulk of your pen supply should be in the office.  I always leave a couple in the kitchen but that's it.  Gather pens from every room and drawer and then dump them all out on the floor. Go through one by one, testing to make sure they work, and throwing out any crappy ones.  Then put them all back in the central office location and just keep a few good ones in your kitchen utility drawer. I actually have mine hanging on the fridge with little stick pen holders I got on ebay!


[NAIL FILES]
These are the type of thing that everyone needs in a hurry so we tend to grab one and then stash it somewhere.  My rule is to keep one in each room.  One in the bedroom by my vanity, one in the bathroom near the nail clippers, and one in my purse.  Throw away the worn out ones and keep your main supply in one location (mine are in the vanity).


[MAKEUP]
We always own more makeup than we need or use. Sometimes it's a freebie or a gift or sometimes we just graduate to nicer brands and different colors. Go through and throw out all of your old unused makeup (because it's probably expired anyways) and then organize your remaining makeup into piles like eye liner, shadows, foundations, etc.  Don't be surprised if you have 10 items in each pile.  Now you can either store all of these in a plastic bin in a bathroom and it can be your "shopping bin" before you buy new makeup from the store (hint hint you waste money when you buy new before checking current stock) or you can purge through and get rid of the ones you don't really like.


[MEDICINE]
Most of us have multiple bathrooms in our home so take all the over the counter medications and first aid supplies and lay it out on a counter. Also, if you keep medicine in the kitchen, grab that as well. Then, throw out anything that's expired.   Next, figure out what you want in each room.  I keep a first aid kit in the main bathroom we use and then we have our medications in that same bathroom as well. My daily prescription meds are in the kitchen but you have to keep stuff in the same place permanently or else you'll find yourself in a situation where you're frantically looking for it.


[TUPPERWARE]
You are all SO guilty of hoarding Tupperware and food storage containers so don't even say you aren't.  No wonder you can't find the matching lid to have of the containers you own! Take EVERYTHING out and place it on the kitchen counter.  Match every lid and container together. Then go through and ask yourself how much you actually use and how much you really need of everything.  This is also the ideal time to pitch the ones that are cracked, warped, or stained.  I'm sure you have plenty of nicer ones that were shoved in the bottom of your drawer just begging to be used. And the new rule is - don't buy any new containers!


[SHEETS & LINENS]
If you open any random person's linen closet they'll probably be embarassed because they have sheets and towels crunched into a corner.  Take EVERYTHING out of your linen closets (all of them) and lay it out on the bed.  How many extra sheets do you need.  I recommend 1 set for each specific bed in your home.  Get rid of any excess that are faded or worn and then refold them all very nicely and keep in one main linen closet.  As for towels, leave an extra set in each bathroom (if you have a linen closet in there) and take the grubby ones and either donate to an animal shelter or cut up to use as cleaning rags.


[EMPTY VASES]
We all get them, and we store them away thinking we will use them again but when do you ever get 10 vases worth of fresh flowers?  So take them all out and go through one by one.  Keep one in each size and get rid of any plastic ones, cracked ones, or just plain ugly ones.  You can donate these as well but some people go as far as spray painting and using as storage in another room or just regular room decor.


[DRINKWARE]
Take it all out of the cupboards and anywhere else you have it tucked away then go through by category.  First go through your mugs and get rid of any cheapo ones you don't use or are too small to hold a full cup in the morning (I have those!).  Wine glasses and shot glasses can be paired down as well. Then look at your regular glasses and anything you never use, or is an awkward size, consider donating.   This is one of those cases where the most commonly used ones stay in front and are rotated only amongst them selves.  Which is why you'll likely discover that you aren't too fond of the drinkware shoved in the back of the cupboard anyways.

Now, do you feel a little bit more motivated to purge the rest of your stuff? I bet you do!  Hopefully you feel a lot better and more organized!

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