living better with less: facial cleansers


I’m not a spa person, I prefer to do all my beauty routines at home (including my nails), nor am I a product junkie. Since most products need time and consistency to really work, when I find something I like, I stick to it.

People’s needs are different depending on age and lifestyle. I’m late 30’s so I need extra exfoliation but am careful not to do too much as overdoing it with products can actually have a negative affect on your skin. My skin is a little sensitive so I try to avoid anything with too much fragrance or unnecesary additives.

Here’s my current cleansing routine and products:

Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleaner
everyday cleanser

Prescriptives Immediate Smooth Exfoliator
use 2 or 3x a week with the foaming cleaner. i labeled it so i don’t forget. this is no longer available and i’m on my last tube. will probably just use the glycolic wash only when it’s done…

Trish McEvoy Even Skin Glycolic Wash
a more intense exfoliator used 1x or 2x a week, instead of the foaming cleanser. i use it on my hands as well as my neck and chest when in the shower. 

Fresh Umbrian Clay Treatment Bar
2x a week to clean out pores

Philosophy Microdelivery Peel
2x a month for more intense exfoliating


living better with less: makeup



I see makeup like everything else, so I keep it simple. I prefer makeup that enhances not recreates, makeup that looks subtle and natural. 

My routine includes a bit of sheer foundation, mascara, and lip gloss. Sometimes I go crazy and add a touch of eyeliner and blush. This routine is for all occasions; I wouldn’t wear more if going to a wedding or fancy dinner. It takes about 3 or 5 minutes and all my products fit in this little box that sits on my bathroom shelf (the smaller one on top holds my hair bands).


Make Up For Ever Face and Body Liquid Makeup, Alabaster Beige
sheer and light, used sparingly to even out my T-zone

Bobby Brown Face Touch Up Stick, Alabaster
for the occasional blemish

Bobby Brown Blush, Tawny
applied with a travel size Chanel brush 


Clarins Wonder Perfect Mascara, Black
I’ve tried others but always go back to this one

Sappho Organic Cosmetics Eye Shadow, Midnight Escapade
used as eyeliner, top lid only

Bobby Brown Eye Shadow, Smoke
to fill in my eyebrows with the small angled brush

yes, i really only have these 3….


living better with less: going without

IMG_1247vanessa bruno silk trousers

elizabeth and james silk pants

On my journey to live better with less, I’ve embraced the idea of going without. We’re conditioned to go buy something the moment we think we ‘need’ it. What about pausing before buying, to go without until proving having it would truly add to your life in some way. We’re responsible for everything we take into our lives; we have to store, clean, and maintain it. So is having that particular thing WORTH all that? 

When first trying to curb my over shopping, I started to walk away from things at the store (including free things) to see if I thought about it again. More than not I would forget, and for those things I didn’t I would sometimes go back and get it. Those are the things I actually love and use. This is a great tactic for clothes and decorative things.

Here’s another tactic, before buying anything, I need to prove I need it by finding myself in a situation where I say ‘if I had that right now, I could…’ at least 5 times before buying it. For instance, I’m not into gadgets, (I’ve never had an ipod) but I’ve thought about getting an ipad. It would be nice to sit in bed and use the computer (I have a desktop and do not like laptops). Friends have suggested I could bring it to client meetings, but in reality all my clients have a computer. It would be ‘cool’ to have one, but I’m already pretty cool. I don’t need an ipad to prove it ;O)

The pics show 2 pairs of black pants I recently purchased. Lately I’ve noticed that having literally 1 pair of nice black pants is limiting my wardrobe and that I just cannot wear black jeans everyday, so I picked up these special ladies…

Some people are frightened by the idea of going without. They think it’s a negative reflection of themselves in some way; that they cannot afford to buy something. I think it’s the opposite. It’s saying that you’re in total control of your things. I think it’s best articulated in a quote by J Brotherton:

“My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants.”


‘never pay full price’ debate

IMG_1255see, I don’t only have black clothes….
IMG_1259 IMG_1265

We’re taught to value a bargain. To proudly never pay full price and to get excited over sales like they’re never going to happen again. Especially for clothes. The mark-up in fashion is extremely high so I understand why you wouldn’t want to pay full price, but I don’t agree with the way of thinking that what you pay for something is what’s most important.

When I confronted my shopaholic ways (about 10 years ago), I changed the way I looked at clothes. Instead of as individual pieces, I starting thinking of clothes as parts of a wardrobe; a wardrobe that reflects me and my lifestyle. When purchasing something (or when offered something for free) I ask myself if I really love it, does it fit, and then think about how it will work with what I already have; does this piece expand my wardrobe or would I have to buy all new things around it.

Along with that, I saw that how much something cost wasn’t so important. Especially since when I edited my wardrobe, those bargains I never wore were donated; not much of a bargain at all. So now, one of my rules is ‘never buy for price’. While it’s nice when something is on sale, “this was $400 and now it’s $50” isn’t a reason to buy it. The truth is no one cares how much you paid for something when you’re wearing it AND you rarely pull something to wear because of how much you paid for it.

Now I think in terms of cost per wear. For instance, I have $325.00 blouse I bought 6 years ago. I wear it all year round, so if I wore it 8 times a year (which I wear more often than that), 8 wearings per year X 6 years = 48 wearings total.  $325/48 = $6.77 per wear. Take that against something you purchased for $40 and wear maybe 4 times then toss or it doesn’t wash well (like lots of cheap stuff). That’s $40/4 = $10 per wear. 

Only buying pieces you love, that fit you and your lifestyle, regardless of price means you’ll buy less stuff (if you’re truly following those guidelines) so you can pay more for individual pieces. The idea is being more selective when buying means you’ll want to wear them more, curbing your need to constantly buy new things. Imagine, gettng more enjoyment out of the clothes themselves, over getting the enjoyment out of BUYING them. I know it works as I did it and I’m so much happier and better dressed because of it.

At one point to try to save money, I shopped at less expensive places like Zara and Madewell and I always find something I like at a good price. But the truth is I actually don’t LOVE those pieces when I get home. I realize that I like certain pieces over the other pieces at the store, but when I get home, compared to what I have, they’re not so great so I don’t end up wearing them making them quite expensive. 

How do you feel about it??

living better with less: think before tossing that




Candle Holders as Drawer Organizer and/or To Organize Your Medicine Cabinet
Opt for beautiful glass candles so you can reuse the glass. The smaller ones are perfect for the medicine cabinet for make-up brushes, q-tips, cotton pads, small tubes of whatever. Even in a drawer or on a desk to hold paperclips, push pins, coins, etc…. Once the candle is fully burned, use a butter knife to scrape out as much of the wax as possible. Then use the scrub side of a sponge with soapy water to get the rest of the wax out.
Dry Cleaner Bags to Help Your Bags Keep Their Shape
Your dry cleaner should take back the hangers for reuse, but they won’t take the bags so you can use them to pack; click here to find out how; and use them to help care for your handbags. Tie a bag at the end and stuff as many bags as needed inside, then tie it off at the other end (so you only have 1 thing to pull out when you use your bag instead of a flurry of loose bags), and stuff in your handbag to help keep its shape.
Paper Towel Rolls To Keep Your Drawer Organizer in Place
Paper towel rolls (and/or from a lint roller) keep your drawer organizer in place. Sometimes there’s a inch or two left over. Shove the rolls in the back of the drawer to help keep the tray from sliding every time you open the drawer. You may have to fold up and stick one roll inside the other to make it stiff. In the pic above from my kitchen I have several stuffed back there.
Catalogs / Magazines as Boot Shapers
If you don’t want to drop $10+ per pair for boot shapers, just roll up one (or a couple) magazines or catalogs that you would have otherwise recycled I hope, and place them in your boots. voilà!

living better with less: buying what lasts

(photo courtesy of NY
Wanted to share a snidbit from NY Magazine’s interview with Julie Gilhart, former women’s fashion director at Barney’s. I totally agree with her answer to the following question:
You’re a big champion of eco-conscious fashion, but it can be really difficult to convince people to buy something eco-friendly when their top priority is looking good. How do you reconcile that?

Well, it’s really about making conscious decisions that aren’t wasteful. Like with Lanvin, one of my favorites, there’s nothing organic about it. But Alber [Elbaz]’s clothes tend to be very well made, and they never go out of style. So in Lanvin’s case, you’re buying a jacket that you can wear for years. I have a jacket that I bought that’s from 2001, and I’m still wearing it. It’s very difficult to buy 100 percent organic or sustainable, but the number one conscious decision is to not buy more than you need, and to buy things that last. If I had a choice to buy a T-shirt that’s made in New York City versus a T-shirt that’s made in China, and they’re very similar, I’m probably going to choose the one that’s made in New York, you know? And if I choose the one that’s made in China — and that would be because it has a certain look, or a certain fit, or a certain price that’s appealing — then I’m going to buy it and keep it and wear it for a long time. It’s just about not being wasteful.


living better with less… ‘green’ living


Although I don’t call myself an eco-organizer, eco-friendly, green, or use any other catchy, popular phrases, I promote a sustainable, ‘living better with less’ lifestyle which is at the heart of environmentalism. I don’t think you have to say you’re something to be it. I’m not into gimmicks, tricks, or one-size-fits-all answers. I help people change the way they see the things in their life; to see them as tools to help live the life they want, not just consuming for consuming’s sake. The term reduce, reuse, recycle is in that order for a reason; recycling isn’t the first step, it’s the last resort. With my process, reduced, conscious consumption is the end result which is the first and most important step to living a more environmentally conscious life (whether you’re looking for that or not).

While there are a ton of obvious ways to be more earth conscious:
  • turn off electricity and water when not it’s not needed like when you’re not in the room!
  • take your name off junk mail lists
  • don’t leave your chargers plugged in when not in use
  • use natural cleaning products
  • avoid using disposable products; silverware, razors…
Here a maybe less obvious way; watch how much plastic you consume:
  • get Q-tips with cardboard stems not plastic
  • tampons with cardboard applicators not plastic
  • eggs in paper cartons not plastic

Example, I opted for a metal scooper for my litter box instead of plastic. If properly kept it will last a very long time and when it’s done it can be recycled rather than tossed in the trash.


living better with less… returns

Products I specify for clients are well thought out and researched. Since I think before I do (or WHEN I think anyway… no one’s perfect) I have few second thoughts therefore very few returns. The key is there are five questions I ask before buying anything: 

  • Does it fit the function? (know what you’re storing before buying)
  • Does it fit the physical space? (always measure twice)
  • Does it fit the client’s aesthetic?
  • Does it fit the budget?
  • How easy is it to clean? 
How easy something is to clean is just as important as everything else. I hate products with so many little ridges and angles that collect dust and dirt. I’ve mentioned a few before. 

I’ve said this before, organizing products are tools. I don’t know anyone who would go into a hardware store and buy a tool without knowing what it is and how they would specifically use it. Yet people go into places like The Container Store and do just that all the time and wonder why they still aren’t organized.

living better with less… chapped lips

I wanted to share something with you. Some may think this has nothing to do with organizing but what I do as an organizer is geared towards lifestyle rather than strictly coming up with storage solutions.

Lately I’ve been running into people who suffer from chronic chapped lips. My first question to them is if they use Chapstick® which they all do. My next question is if you always use Chapstick® and always have chapped lips, WHY are you still using it? I think that stuff causes chapped lips!!
I speak from experience. Back in jr high I used Chapstick® religiously until one day I asked myself the above question. I stopped cold turkey, never to touch it again and have had chapped lips once since then (we’re talking 20 years)…
To prevent chapped lips:
– always have something on your lips (lip gloss or lipstick is fine)
– never lick your lips
– after brushing your teeth (and tongue), brush your lips to exfoliate

– after exfoliating, and before going to sleep, use a moisturizing lip balm. I personally swear by Burt’s Bees® Beeswax Lip Balm and Kiehl’s® Lip Balm SPF 15


living better with less… shame

Many clients express some level of embarrassment or shame on how their space looks. Afraid of how others, even I, will judge them for the condition of their home. While I understand why someone would feel that way, the reality is I give all my clients serious props for reaching out and asking for help to make their homes and lives better. Plus, it’s true that they are good at other things!
Beyond that, one of the skills that allows me to do my job is that I don’t see how things are, but rather how they could be. I see the potential, the way a client’s things could be rearranged and repurposed to create a beautiful functional space that the client can enjoy. It’s what get’s me excited to dig in and get started!