Monday, October 29, 2012

Bathroom Organization - Getting Rid of Clutter

Hello, my name is Sophia, and I am a cosmetics addict!

Wouldn't it be nice if we could just breeze through our morning routines without having to dig deep into drawers in search of that one lipstick we may or may not have placed there? Can you imagine a bathroom counter completely free of clutter and a vanity that actually is not only functional but also pleasing to look at? 

Ladies, does your counter look like this? What kind of chaos is that? Seriously, is this what we want to wake up to on Monday morning before we get ourselves ready for work?

Do you, like me, suffer from too much of the same things? Duplicate lotions targeting the same area of your face, expired ones, half empty ones, almost full ones, forgot you even had these ones? When is the last time you have used every single one of your products? Be honest...Me? I simply cannot remember! Why? Because I have too much of everything and I am fed up with it! Yes, fed up!

How many eye shadows do we really need? How about lipsticks? Do we even check on expiration date?

How about this mess? Do you find it hard to blow dry your hair every other day and  resort, instead,  to a simple (and quick) towel dry and ponytail? Do you find that over the past years you simply have not paid as much attention to the way you look? Did you ever consider that perhaps the clutter in your bathroom is at fault?


In this post, I am going to show you, step-by-step, how I got rid of all this clutter (in one afternoon) and never looked back. Yes, I made some hard decision, because for a cosmetic addict like me, throwing away a jar of anything is torture, but I never looked back!
While I am at it, I will also provide you with some guidelines about cosmetics we should all follow as well as a few how-to. I am hoping you find this inspiring, so here goes.

First, let's address the clutter. 
Let's face it, the bathroom clutter is usually (though I may be wrong) that one area of the house where we simply cannot blame someone else. My Husband, for instance,  could fit the entirety of his necessities in a one gallon Ziploc bag. I would need a carry on luggage and another bag just for the hair stuff!

Of course, if you only have one bathroom in your home, decluttering regularly is a high priority. Good luck with that one if you have one or more teenage girls living with you! That said, I am wondering if some of us are not musing teenage-hood ourselves when considering the amount of eye shadows and lipsticks we can manage to fit inside a drawer!

Why so much stuff?

So I have asked myself the question...Why do we hang on to so much stuff in this room anyway? Surely, the "just in case" rule cannot apply here. E.G "I am hanging on to three very similar shades of green eye shadow...Just in case!" I think not! 
So what is it? 
I believe that, for most of us, product boredom is the culprit. Marketing, of course, nags us one advertisement at a time with grandiose promises of recaptured youth and dewy complexions. And so we buy, we try, we're not crazy about it, yet, we keep the jar, that compact, this mascara...You never know, it may work tomorrow. No, it won't! If you did not like the product, if it did not help your skin in anyway, if you felt that eye shadow was too harsh, not enough , etc. Why would it give you better results tomorrow? It just won't! Yet, we keep the stuff because we did, after all, spend quite a chunk of money on it in the first place and as bored  and over stimulated people, we like variety too. Somehow, variety makes us feel...Well, covered I guess! 

So, Boredom + Hope + Guilt = Bathroom Clutter! 

Let's stop this nonsense right now and get rid of what we don't need, don't use, and better yet, can no longer use!


General Guidelines: How long can you safely keep your stuff?

Before I took on the task of purging my bathroom, I went on the Internet and educated myself about expiration dates and longevity of any product in our bathrooms. Here are the general rules of thumb once a product has been opened:

Face Powder/Foundation/Blush/Concealer: 12 months maximum. If it smells funny, is separating or breaking apart, it's time to toss it. If you are using your fingers to get to the product it will expire faster (6-8 months). For that reason you should use wedgies or foundation and blending brushes to apply your product. Wash your sponges and applicators on a monthly basis. Whenever possible, buy products that come in a pump or invest in small plastic spatulas to scoop the product out of the jar. Here is the issue with concealers, if you are using your concealer to hide a pimple, do not use the applicator that came with the tube, instead, use a q-tip you can toss after each application, otherwise, guess what? You are contaminating your concealer!

Mascara/Eyeliner: 3 - 6 months. If your mascara is clumpy, smells weird or you need to keep reapplying it, don't add water or mineral oil to it, just TOSS it!

Eye Shadows: These actually can last past two years as long as you wash your applicators and brushes regularly (once per month). If the lid broke off, fix it or TOSS your eye shadows since they are now no longer protected by the environment (remember, this is the bathroom)! Cream eye shadows will only last 6 months.

Nail Polish: 2 years, as long as you regularly clean the spout to keep a tight seal.

Lipstick/Lip liner/Lip Gloss: up to 2 years in normal environment (in humid environment - 1 year) for that reason, your lipsticks should be tucked in a drawer or a box, do not leave them on your counter.

Cleansers: Whether in a pump, tube or jar, their shelf life is 12 months.

Moisturizers/Serums: 12 months for moisturizers and sunscreen and 6 months for serums.

Organic/natural products: 3-6 months. If you buy anything organic, do not purchase a huge jar or tube, it will spoil before you can use it all.

Body Lotion/Body Butters/Hand Cream: 6 months (That was a shocker for me because I have tons of them). These are water based products and just like cleansers, they will become more susceptible to bacteria...So 6 months later it behooves you to switch lotion and /or hand cream!

Hair Products: 12 months - Try to keep them outside of the shower where heat and humidity may actually make them break down faster. I am so glad I no longer buy those huge Wholesale Club bottles!

So here is the least you need to know:

Change your skin Care products every six months.
Change your Mascara and Eyeliner every season.
Change your Lipsticks, liners and foundations every year (if you really like your foundation you will run out before the end of the year anyway).
Use tools to dispense products.
Keep your stuff tucked away and always vent your bathroom.

With that in mind, let's clean!


Step One

You will need:
Clorox wipes
Garbage bag(s)
A large basket

Empty out all your drawers and remove everything from your counter, shelves, cabinet , etc. Place everything on your bathroom floor (or somewhere else, but not on the counter) with a large basket on one side and the trash can or bag on the other side.
Here is all my stuff:

Use the wipes to clean your counter top, inside drawers, shelves , etc.

Step Two:

Pick every item one by one and make a quick (yes, quick) decision based on the following questions:

  1. Do I use it?
  2. Do I like it?
  3. Is it expired?
If you don't use it — toss it!
If you do not like it — toss it!
If it is expired — toss it!

I you use it but not like it — toss it!
If you use it but it is expired — toss it and replace it!

Here are some of my decisions (I hope this helps since I chose the one examples that would  pretty much cover any decision you may have to make yourself):

Half empty jar of Aveeno cleansing pads — hate them, too harsh on my face, hate the smell -  I actually think these are over 2 years old! TOSS.

Almost empty jar of Perlier Honey Body lotion — so old, I can't even remember when I bought it. Lost its scent...TOSS.

Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream - I love this product and actually use it all the time - KEEP.
(check my amazon store if you want to try it too - I seriously recommend this product).

St. Yves Collagen Elastin Facial Moisturizer - I love this product BUT it comes in such a huge jar, it actually expires before you get to finish it thereby making it a complete waste! So TOSS but replace and buy a small travel container to transfer a bit at a time instead of keeping my gross fingers in and out of the big jar!

Ponds Cold Cream - Hate it! Don't even know why I bought it, it's been collecting dust for months...TOSS.

Aubrey Vegecell Organic Nighttime Hydrator - Actually, this is a good product, but I did not feel it fully moisturized my face as much as I needed it to. As you can see I actually used this one almost to the end but will not buy it again, wanting to try other nighttime products. Since it is organic, it is less stable and probably expired too...TOSS.

OMG, the good old jar of Noxema! Who does not have one of these? How gross is this? I can't believe they continue to sell the product in such an enormous jar! This ought to be completely contaminated by now....TOSS!

Mary Kay Eye Revitalizer - I hated this with a passion yet continued to use it because it's so darn expensive! This product stinks so bad you feel like you washed your face with a dirty mop, no joke...TOSS!

Mary Kay Microdermabrasion - I actually love this product, it is by far the best in the category, but, the lid broke a while back and there is no way the product is still good inside since it has been exposed to air and moisture...alas, this is a TOSS but I will definitely REPLACE it.

OK, expiration date 04/11. I am not even telling you what it is...TOSS!

You get the idea, TOSS, TOSS, TOSS!

Once you have decided which item to keep, use the Clorox wipes to clean the outside of the containers and perhaps the lids too (in and out).


On to color cosmetics...Tough one for me!

Gather all your lipsticks. Check for dryness and Scent. If it smells funky and appears to be dried up...that is an easy TOSS!
But what about color? This is what I did:

Gather all your lipsticks and apply the individual colors on the back of your hand. Is it too pale, too dark, too red, not pink enough? Is the lipstick no longer creamy and thick? Does it appear to need more than one coat? Is your gloss all sticky and gooey? If so...TOSS!

Here are some of my lipsticks ( I had to go fetch the rest in various purses, pouches, etc.) I have too many and some are very old.

After applying each one to the back of my hand, I realized that I had a lot of similar colors and also a lot of "what was I thinking?" colors! For the similar ones I kept the tube that was purchased last (freshest) everything else I tossed! In the picture I am keeping those that are standing and tossing the others. Some I wore once and hated the color instantly and that is a shame because I am seeing a lot of money going to the trash right here!

Do the same process for Lip Liners: if they are dried, tug at your skin when applied, broken or too old....TOSS, TOSS, TOSS!

Here, I am keeping three and tossing three!

On to eye shadows! I can't believe I have that many!

So there is this huge Mary Kay palette — that 's a STAY! They are great quality and I actually use them a lot — almost everyday. As for the green eye shadows, I have no excuse for that other than  I did not pay for them (yeah for coupons) but they look very gross on me (Do I hear a TOSS)?. Other things to consider:

Do I have similar colors? If so, which is the freshest and which do I actually use? I don't know about you, but I am seeing a lot of repetition here!

On to the blushes and powder foundations:

If you have any compact that is broken and crumbling apart, no matter how much you love the color, TOSS and REPLACE before that powder gets everywhere!

Here, I am tossing the whole thing. It's over 2 years old, the one on the right has too much shimmer in it and the one on the left is much too dark for my fair complexion!

So, here is what I am keeping...

And what I am tossing....So far!

For nail polish, if it has run out of the jar, use nail polish remover to clean the spout. You can also remove the brush (they usually pop out of the cap) and insert a cotton pad soaked with remover, twirling it around until you get the cap clean. Replace the brush and store upright.

Gather all your hair supplies. I have so many curlers, pins,  and barrettes...they sprout everywhere around the house! Using the same method, toss what is broken or you no longer use.

If you still have their original containers, put everything back where it belongs. If not, use a storage bin (this black one was a $1 at Target). The goal here is to put like items back together.

Step Four

Using a mild shampoo and warm water, wash all your cosmetic brushes, applicators and sponges and let them air dry. You should do this on a monthly basis. The best way to remember is to mark it in your calendar, every third Thursday of each month for instance.

Quality brushes, that are well taken care of, will last you a long time. This is one thing I am good at, I shampoo my brushes every month. One reason is that a good quality brush is expensive and I simply cannot afford to buy them over and over. So if you can, invest in good brushes and take good care of them.
Clean your hairbrushes by passing a comb through them and shampoo them as well.



Now that you have decided on what to keep and what to toss, it is time to put everything back in place in a way that makes sense, is attractive and remains clutter free!

My vanity has three drawers which I rarely used because as you saw on the Before picture, I kept everything on the counter. Well, no more!

In the first drawer, I placed all my brushes and combs. That is a guaranteed easy/fast access. I did not have drawer liners and did not bother to get some either - for now, scrapbooking paper will do.

In the middle drawer, I have all my curlers and clips. I no longer have to bend over under the sink to fetch them, I may actually do my hair more often now!

In the deep bottom drawer, I am keeping all my miscellany items such as extra soaps and those items I do not use often (nail polish, face masks, foot powder , etc.)

On to the counter:

I have these two sets of drawers I had purchased at either Target or Walmart, they are very handy for make up items, however, they too need to be organized in a way that makes sense.

But first, I have decided to cover the front of the drawers with some scrapbooking paper so that I would not see the products inside, I find that look too messy and it defeats the purpose.

Doesn't it look better when the drawers are covered?


All you have to do is cut paper to size, make a hole right where the back of the handle would be and use transparent packing tape to ensure the paper is secured in place. Voila!

Once I had all six drawers covered, I added labels (you can hand write them or use your computer). However, there is a method to the madness here, the drawers are aligned in order by which I apply my make up! It may sound nuts but it make sense to me, I am really trying to stay organized and also make my morning routine as easy as possible!

In the right order (for me), I have: Foundation, Eye Shadow, Mascara/Liner, blush, Lips and Hair stuff (bobby pins, cute barrettes, etc.) That is my routine, that is what works for me.
Notice that I placed the drawers on the shelf and not on the counter. One of the goals here is to declutter the counter.

Here are views of the inside:

Next, I went to Michael's Craft and Hobby store and bought a cheap glass vase and some sand. I using them to place my brushes upright instead of laying them inside a drawer where they roll around  and touch each other all the time. This is very neat!

You do not have to use sand, Michael's also sells some kind of clear tiny beads, the sand, however, was much cheaper!

For my Skin Care products, I found this basket that fits right in between the plastic drawers and the Medicine Cabinet...This is all that I am keeping!

Here, I have the good old and ever so reliable Cetaphil cleanser, my Laroche Posay Effaclar Cleanser (I do tend to break out now and then), some Kinerase and Pericone, MD cleansers I am trying out...What can I say, I get bored with cleansers!

I only kept one day cream, one night cream (Olay Regenerist) and one Serum (Lisa Hoffman) alongside the Effaclar spot treatment. 

Also, I kept my eye makeup remover and my three eye creams, which I cannot live without: Burt's Bee Beeswax which I use at night, Burt's Bee Hydrating cream with Clary Sage is my daily Eye Cream and then I have this Cures hydrating eye lotion I find to be lightweight under makeup and actually works great on my upper lips as well.

I finally got around to ditch the old hair dryer/brush combo. This thing is ancient and only works in super hot mode, not to mention the lock is broken and the brush constantly falls off.

So OUT it went...

...And here is the replacement!

On the counter, I am only keeping lotions and my wet towelettes, that is it!

These are Burt's Bee Fresh Towelettes and makeup removing clothes - they are amazing, the best of their kind! I use them to remove my makeup and before using a liquid cleanser at night. They smell great, do an awesome job and leave my skin very fresh and, well, clean!
My VaniCream has found it's rightful place, Scott has his body lotion (that's the St. Yves) and I kept my Mary Kay Toning Lotion - it smells like fresh grapefruit. As for the toning, at my age, no cream will take care of that for me, but hey, it's a great neck and decollete cream, if you ask me!

So, here is the before, again:

And the after...

Wow! What a difference! Now THAT is a room where I want to spend more time!
I hope you have enjoyed reading along. There were other things I took care of, but for the purpose of this post they were not all that noteworthy.
If you too have been inspired with cleaning and reorganizing your bathroom, why don't you link up to our Facebook page and show us what you got!
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Friday, October 12, 2012

How to get rid of and prevent fruit flies in your home

So you’ve spent the entire week end cleaning the kitchen: the countertops are clear of clutter, paper is out of sight, the fridge is clean, the groceries are neatly put away, the sink is shining…Then just like that, and seemingly out of nowhere, you wake up Monday morning to find an infestation of fruit flies! By infestation I mean more than three flies, but really they never come in threes, they come by the dozen! Where did they come from? You ask yourself, the kitchen has never been so clean!

I have been battling the fruit fly war for the entire summer and it did not matter whether I would remove the trash out of the house right away, clean the countertops with my vinegar + dawn concoction or  leave everything out of sight, they just never seemed to go away. I would open the bread box and a few would come out, lift the now very tight trash lid and a cloud of gnats would come rushing out towards me, even the dry cat food (to her protest) was put away…All this, to no avail. The flies would come back, the very next day!
So I did some research, because surely, I cannot be the only one with this never ending problem and I thought I might as well share what I would find with MGC readers and fans.
At first I thought maybe they were baby flies from the few bigger green body ones I had spotted and chased around (very gross). Maybe they came from the store, in larvae form. As it turns out, fruit flies come from the great outdoors and are a species of their own (not babies from bigger flies – that’s a relief). Their amazing sense of smell allows them to spot food, preferably the yeast in fruit and bread, at a distance, pretty much on the spot as you take your groceries out of the car and into the kitchen. And if you leave your windows open, such as in the summer months for those of us who are not AC dependent, the screens on windows are not small enough to keep them out!
Their reproductive cycle, I found out,  is under 5 days and since they lay a lot of eggs (think hundreds at a time) you can imagine how the problem would multiply within a week…soon to get out of hand, now spreading to other areas in the house. I, for instance, found them in my boys’ bathroom, roaming around the trash bin thanks to a late afternoon snack, in the form of a discarded banana peel left there by a certain someone who shall remain nameless because he is only 5 years old! To my great disgust, they also took a liking to fish food and enjoy all you can eat buffet near the fish tank where my boys, alas, always drop a “few” flakes around!
Through my research I found out that even if they seem to have disappeared, unless a thorough cleaning and disinfecting is complete, they will come back since they enjoy any kind of moisture and yeast filled environment. They,  for example, can live inside your kitchen drain and some studies have found them to be able to survive and thrive on alcohol fumes alone, so even if you got rid of a piece of fruit that had seen better days, the residual smell from the fermented fruit is enough to keep attracting them! They love fermented stuff and a ripe fruit or a piece of whole wheat bread is enough to send a signal that a feast is about to be had at your house!
My tomato plants are also to blame! You see, I have tomato plants still standing in the yard, I keep them up because some of the tomatoes are still green and I am hoping that the last few days of sunshine before the winter will help them turn red, or at least orange. But in that process, other tomatoes I did not care to pick or tomatoes that had fallen to the ground are left unattended…They are fermenting (for a lack of a better word) on the ground and pretty much alerting the neighborhood flies that my house is The One!

Tips on how to prevent fruits flies

Here are your hot zones:
Fruit Basket(s)
Bread Box
Kitchen Sink + Scrubbers
Trash Cans
Recycle Bins
Pet Areas

The yard: You will need to thoroughly assess your home and your yard for any potential breeding ground for fruit flies. For instance, do you, like me, have leftover gardening with fruits and vegetables that are rotting on the ground? If so, time for some serious yard work. Do you keep a composter? If so, can you move it away from your house, say to the far end of your yard?
Fruit Basket: Where do you keep your fruits? Can you make room and store them in the fridge instead of the counter? I understand that some fruits, like bananas, do not keep well in the fridge as they would turn brown in a few days, perhaps purchasing bananas in less quantities (only a few at a time) is a solution for you. Wash fruits as soon as you return from the store. While it takes additional time, it will help in two ways: remove pesticides and if the fruits have fly eggs on them, you can get rid of those before they turn into more fruit flies! Upon discovering flies in your fruit basket, it is not enough to remove the fruits. Do spend the time to clean your basket with hot water and a solution of soap and white vinegar. Using a dish brush, scrub your basket inside and out to ensure no fruit skin or juice is lodged in the wicker.
Bread Box: If you currently spotted fruit flies by your bread box, get rid of that bread as the package may have been contaminated. Thoroughly rinse your box with hot water and a solution of bleach and dish detergent, wipe dry and replace with fresh bread. Always ensure that your bread is tightly sealed and only keep what you will eat in a few days, freeze the rest.
Recycle Bin: Where do you keep your recyclables? If you keep them near the home or in your home, make sure you thoroughly rinse your bottles and cans before putting them in the recycle bin since any residual juice, soda, beer, wine, sauce of any kind will make for a good fruit fly fermented supper!
Sink Area: make sure that your brush, sponge and dish rags are always clean and disinfected. Though that is a common sense kind of tip, food particles inside a scrubber or any odor from your sponge will attract them as well. Don’t forget the drain! Scrub your sink as usual then fill it all the way up with hot water and a solution of dish soap and ½ cup of bleach. Once the sink is full, let it drain. The hot water and cleansing solution will take care of your drain for you. While you are at it, don’t forget the seal around your fridge!
Trash Can: Rinse your trash can daily as long as you have fruit flies in the house. Only spraying a disinfectant such as Lysol will not do much and quite frankly I find them too harsh on human and pets. Don’t forget the lid, inside and out. If you have a trash that has a swivel top, perhaps you may want to consider purchasing one with a tight lid and a pedal instead. We found a very nice stainless steel one at Home Goods for under $30. Do not leave food scraps, meats etc. in your trash can. Instead, keep a mini trash bin on your countertop lined with a grocery plastic bag or small trash bag. Once you are done cooking or after each meal, dump the scraps there. Tie the bag tight and throw it in your larger trash can after each meal. This will eliminate food odors from attracting the flies.
Pet Areas: Do you keep dried pet food outside in a bowl? Stop! If you crate your dogs, make sure you routinely check for un-chewed biscuits behind and around their crates.
Kids: Make it a rule – No drinks, food of any kind allowed in the living areas of the house. I once found a glass of unfinished juice under a bed…with a few additional guests!

Getting rid of your current flies

Yes, they can be trapped! But trapping your fruit flies will not get rid of them permanently as it will only temporarily remove the existing ones. So I recommend you take all the steps above in addition to the one trick I am about to share with you!
I found this easy to do solution on Pinterest, but I am sure it is an old one. You will need:
  • Cut up fruit
  • Glass Jar
  • Paper cone made out of cardstock
  • Packing tape

Create a paper cone and fit it on the jar (tight end at the bottom) until it rests tightly at the mouth of the jar. Once you have the right size cone, tape where needed to keep its shape. The small end of the cone should be no more than 1/4 inch in diameter.
Place the cut up fruit at the bottom of the jar and insert the cone.
Use tape all around the mouth to seal.
How does it work?
The flies are attracted to the smell of fermenting fruit and will fly into the cone and into the jar. Unfortunately for them, but good for us, they simply cannot find their way back up and out!

It took under three hours for me to trap as many as 40 fruit flies. By day three all flies in the house were trapped. And that is when I conducted the thorough cleaning described above!
Voila! So far, we have had no recurring infestation and the trap made a great science project for the boys. It’s a WIN-WIN!
You can also buy commercial fruit fly traps like these. Just click on the link below each picture:

Glass Fly Trap Jar - $15.99

Glass Pear - Fly Trap Kitchen Jar - $19.95

I am hoping you found this article informative. Thank you for sharing it on your social network and don’t forget to find and like us on FACEBOOK!
Sophia, NJ.
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