The Jet Set Guide: My Top 5 Packing Tips

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling recently, and I wanted to share my top tips for those of you who are hitting the road.

Pack Snacks to Refuel

Pack your favorite healthy snacks, and energy bars, so you can avoid splurging on overpriced snacks when hunger strikes in airports and in touristy locations. My favorite grab-and-go snacks are nuts, dried fruit, and these bars.

Keep the Essentials with You

Make copies of your passport, flight info, and important documents to keep with you at all times. If you are checking a bag, make sure to keep a change of clothing, toiletries, medications, and toothbrush with you just in case your luggage gets lost or misplaced. (It’s also helpful to leave flight info and a copy of your passport with a trusted friend or family member.)

Keep It Light

Try to pack as little as possible so you have less to lug around. (This is a great time to experiment with trying a capsule wardrobe!) Make sure to wear your jacket and bulkiest items such as boots and hats on the plane so you can maximize the space in your suitcase.

Be Your Own Pharmacy

Make sure to pack your daily vitamins as well as any basic meds you may need if you get sick. I ended up getting a bad cold in Japan and found it comically challenging to decipher the over-the-counter meds that were all in Japanese. In the future I will bring a mini kit stocked with cold and flu medicine, just in case.

Pack a Gift Tote

Pack a flat tote, or lightweight duffle, in your suitcase in case you pick up gifts or bulky items that can’t fit comfortably into your suitcase on the way home.

Happy holidays, and safe travels!

photo credit 

Inspiration: My New Favorite Organizing Book

I have been a huge fan of Remodelista for years and when I heard about their new book and website dedicated to all things home organizing, I did a happy dance around my living room.

The book is not only beautiful, but also filled with simple, stylish, practical ideas for every room in your home.

Here's a great book that teaches you all about organization.

I’m also a huge fan of their organizing manifesto which includes sage advice such as: Buy fewer (and better) things, shop from your own home, steal ideas from teachers and shopkeepers, and establish habits and routines that simplify your life.

The book also includes a comprehensive list of resources including closet organizers, carts, hooks, office supplies, and other stylish utility items.

Need a home organization book? Here's a great one that inspires Shira Gill.

Treat yourself to the book (also a thoughtful gift) or check out the website which is also chock full of great tips.

Happy organizing!

photo credit

Last-Minute Gift Guide

Sometimes, I don’t follow my own advice and need to pick up last-minute gifts. Here are some of my favorite items (all under $100) that can easily be ordered online in time for the holidays:

Here is a last-minute gift guide that will help you out this holiday season.

Turkish Cotton Robe: Chic, comfy and perfect for weekend lounging.

Chic Sleep Set: This one is on my winter wish-list for sure.

Neck Pillow + Eye Mask: A sweet set for the stylish traveler.

Leather Zip Cardholder: Lightweight and practical and I love the tassel detail!

Leather Tassel Keychain: Monogram for a personal touch!

Gold Tassel Earrings: A little holiday bling at a great price.

The Best Water Bottle: Keeps liquids cold for 24-hours or hot for 12-hours. Enough said.

Simone LeBlanc Gift Set: Loving these super chic gift sets which can be mailed out with a custom note.

Happy Gifting!

photo credit 

The 5 Best Things to Spend Your Money On

What do you spend the majority of your disposable income on?  Maybe eating out, or shopping, or my own guilty pleasure… shoes? Research has shown that the thrill of a new purchase is relatively short-lived, but the payoff that comes with experiences is ultimately significantly more satisfying and impactful. Clearly spending on experiences offers the best return on investment, but I know from experience that it’s far too easy to get off track (shoes). So I spent some time reflecting on how I currently spend my money and  how I would prefer to invest it.

Here are the winners in no particular order:

Look at what you spend your money on and ask yourself is it worth it? Shira Gill provides five things to spend your money on that is more impactful to your life.

Self Improvement + Mental Health

I spent a bucket of money last year on a 6-month coaching program and certification that changed my life. When my father died unexpectedly five years ago, I invested in multiple support groups, therapy, and coaching. Next year, I will be participating in a mastermind group with my business mentor and studying with an incredible group of entrepreneurs. I can’t think of a better investment than spending on personal growth and mental health.

Physical Fitness

Raise your hand if you feel better after a good workout. Me too. So why not invest in your physical health and fitness? I love spending money on group workout classes like yoga and spin classes and always feel like I got my money’s worth and then some. Since my philosophy is always to buy fewer, better things, I am also a fan of splurging on stylish workout attire which helps me get motivated to get moving.

Travel

There is an old saying that travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer and I couldn’t agree more. This year I made it a goal to travel more and went to London, Paris, and Tokyo. These trips added so much value to my life and travel always shifts my values and perspective. Priceless.

Self-Care

The concept of self-care means different things to different people. The $20 eyebrow sculpt I get once a month makes me very happy. I have friends who prefer a good massage, a pedicure, or a reboot with an acupuncturist. Invest in whatever floats your boat and treat yourself as often as possible.

Random Acts of Kindness

My Dad used to pay bridge toll for the person behind him because we would get such a thrill from turning and seeing their elated face when the toll-taker waved them ahead. The best! Equally delightful activities include buying coffee or cocktails for a stranger, supporting a cause you believe in, leaving a massive tip, or treating an under-appreciated staff member to lunch.

So, what will you be investing in this year? Think about what will bring you the most lasting impact and feel free to share in the comments below!

photo credit

Emergency Kits: Simplified

We live in between a major supermarket and a hospital, so for years I’ve been flip about making an emergency kit. But after the past few months of national disasters, my husband and I agreed that it was time to get serious. The information out there can be overwhelming, so I turned to my friend, and sustainability expert, Friday Apaliski, for help. Friday is a wealth of information and actually helps make custom emergency kits for busy families as part of her services. I had questions and she had answers:

When emergency strikes, be prepared! Learn how to put together emergency kits for your family home and car.

Q: I’m overwhelmed! What are the essentials I should stock for my family? What are the most important things to have?

Friday suggests stocking a three-day supply, at minimum, of the following supplies:

Water // You’ll want a minimum of one gallon per person per day. Bottled water isn’t regulated and can grow bacteria over time. If you want to avoid the hassle of swapping out water, invest in this 50-year water and you will be set for years.

Food // Friday recommends stocking up on your favorite energy bars instead of canned goods, which can leak. Similarly, freeze dried options generally don’t appeal to children. Also, don’t forget baby formula and any daily supplements or prescription drugs.

First Aid // Make sure to include the following in your kit: Prescription glasses, an inhaler or other required medical device, sunscreen, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, and a basic first aid kit.

Documents // It’s important to have copies of social security cards, birth certificates, titles of cars, and passports. You can keep these items in a locked, fireproof box for security.

Tools + Supplies // You have to imagine that even if your home doesn’t fall down, there could be shattered glass and navigation could be very difficult. Make sure to stock some tools in your kit to help you turn off the gas line and deal with any major home issues. This includes a basic set of pliers, a crow bar, duct tape, plastic sheeting (or heavy plastic bags that can be used for glass clean up), a tarp, a flashlight, and a pair of leather work gloves. Also, it’s worth investing in a radio that’s a flashlight/radio combo. You can store all of your supplies in a secure, waterproof bin or chest. If you’re storing your kit outside, make sure to put a lock on it to protect it from theft.

Q: I spend a lot of time out of my home in the car. Do I need another kit for the car?

Yes, it’s important to stock a car kit since you don’t know where you’ll be in the event of an emergency. Your car kit should include the following items to make sure you’re prepared: medication, eyeglasses, extra set of keys, change of clothing, water and snack bars, cash in small bills, first aid kit, flashlight, portable radio, cell phone chargers, and copies of your I.D.

Q: What else should I know to make sure my family is prepared?

1. A landline phone can be used in an emergency to call 911 – an internet phone (VOIP) cannot.

2. It is easier to call out of town than to call within town during an emergency, so designate a family member outside of your local area as the person everyone will call to report in about safety and whereabouts.

3. If you can’t meet at your home, decide where you and your loved ones will meet. Make sure to review the plan with all members of your family.

Thank you, Friday! I am so grateful to have all of this information simplified. On my to-do list: order the suggested supplies and set up a family meeting to review emergency protocol so we all feel more prepared and on the same page.  Who’s with me?

If you need help sourcing or setting up your kit, make sure to get in touch with Friday right here!

photo credit

Your Stress-Free Holiday Shopping Guide

Does holiday shopping fill you with dread each time winter rolls around? You are not alone. Stress-free holiday shopping is possible! Read below for some quick tips to help ensure you tackle this shopping season with ease:

Shop Well In Advance

Instead of battling massive crowds in December, hit your favorite shops early. If possible, shop on a weekday or arrive right at opening time when retail shops are calm and quiet. You can also opt for a gift wrap option at most boutiques and department stores so your holiday gifts will be wrapped and ready to go!

Here's are some stress-free shopping tips for this holiday season.

Order Online

With the click of a button you can order almost anything under the sun! While I love shopping locally and supporting small businesses, I also can’t resist the ease of online shopping as we approach the holidays. Make sure to stock some gift wrap paper and labels since most online purchases don’t come wrapped. I love using simple brown butcher paper with pretty ribbon and customized gift tags. (See some great options here).

Opt for Clutter-Free Gifts

My favorite gifts to give and receive are experiential, not tangible.  Get creative and make a gift card for breakfast in bed, dinner and a movie, or a spa date. These thoughtful gifts don’t require any shopping or wrapping so it is a total win-win. You can read my favorite clutter-free gift ideas right here.

photo credit

How to Ask Better Questions

Here are some questions I hear frequently from clients: “Why is my house such a disaster?” “Why can’t my kids put things away when they’re done?” “Why is this all so overwhelming?”

Sound familiar? It’s far too easy to get stuck in a thought loop of negative questions. The problem is that negative questions produce negative answers, leading to a vicious cycle of negativity. If you want to create change in your life, your relationships, or your household, start by asking open-ended, positive questions.

Example: Instead of “Why is my house such a disaster?” (which will probably create a litany of complaints) try, “What kind of home do I want to create?” or “What small things could I do to feel better about my living spaces?” Substitute, “Why can’t my kids put things away when they’re done?” with “How can I make it easier for my kids to clean up?”

Ask yourself positive questions to change your life and home. The human brain is a very efficient machine. It will look for evidence to prove whatever you are focusing on. If you focus on what a wreck your house (or your life) is, you will constantly find evidence to prove those thoughts true. The good news is if you start putting it to work on positive outcomes like the home of your dreams, it will get cracking. Try testing out this approach and see how it works for you. If you find yourself posing negative questions with dead-end answers, just slow down and reframe them.

Here are a few of my favorite helpful questions: How do I really want to feel? // What do I want to create? // What do I want my results to be? // How can I get closer to my vision? // What small thing can I do today that will help me realize my goals?

Shira Gill explains the power of asking yourself positive questions and how it can reorganize your life.

As simple as it sounds, shifting the questions you ask yourself can completely change your life. I spent the last several years lamenting how little I traveled now that I had kids. This past year I decided to ask different questions such as, “How can I find a way to travel more?” Shifting the narrative led me to find creative ways to fund two international trips! Before I knew it, I had planned a family trip to Europe and a solo trip to Japan. None of this felt possible when I kept asking myself on repeat why it was so hard and expensive to travel. So if you want new results in your life, try asking yourself new and better questions. Tokyo, here I come!

photo credit 

How to Prevent Overwhelm

Do you find yourself dreading your to-do list or constantly thinking about how much is on your plate? Follow these simple steps to reduce overwhelm, shift your habits, and get more done.

Start With a Thought Download

Get everything out of your brain and onto the page. Even if you just write down, “Oh my God, I have so much to do, what a mess, I feel like I am drowning…” it will feel like a relief to get it all out of your system. Take a few minutes to acknowledge your unproductive thoughts and then move into action.

Fact Check!

If you find yourself thinking stressful thoughts such as, “I have so much to do” or “I don’t have enough time,” make sure to jot down just the facts. What exactly do you have to do? What is urgent and necessary? Once you have made a specific, actionable list, you may find it helpful to break your list into two categories: Things you need to complete right away, and things you’d love to do eventually. When you try out this simple exercise, you may realize that you actually only have a handful of things you need to complete right away and the rest can wait. This will feel like a huge relief and help reduce your anxiety immediately.

Prevent overwhelm by following these simple steps to get everything on your to-do list done!Reverse Engineer Your Goals

Now that you have a list of everything you want to accomplish, break each major item into micro tasks. For example, if your goal is to plan and buy food for the week, get specific about the concrete actions you need to take and how much time each action will require. You might write down:

1. Make a meal plan for each day of the week – one hour.

2. Check fridge and pantry and make a grocery list – 20 min.

3. Shop for groceries and order staples online – two hours.

4. Map out time to prep and cook – one hour per day.

Repeat this process for each item on your to-do list.

Schedule Your To-Do List

So, you’ve got all of your micro broken down , now you just need to schedule them! Simply take each item and put it directly into your weekly planner. The key is to get things out of your head and onto your calendar. Then all you’ll have to do is honor each item on your calendar and your goals are as good as done!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent hours dreading something, that in the end, only takes me thirty focused minutes to complete.  My new mantra is “Less dreading, more doing!” Instead of spending our time and energy being overwhelmed, let’s commit to shifting to taking massive, focused action. Who’s with me?

Decluttering For a Cause

As I write this, the air is thick with smoke from the Napa Valley fires only an hour away. My oldest daughter was scared and couldn’t sleep last night. We’re all tired. With daily news reels filled with mass shootings, political strife, and natural disasters, it’s natural to feel increasingly anxious. It’s hard to know what to do at a time like this, so I decided to do what comes naturally to me. I decided to declutter.

My girls actually came up with the idea. I told them how families were evacuating their homes, leaving their cherished belongings behind, and they immediately started sifting through their toy bins, assembling makeshift care packages to give to the victims of the fires.

Professional organizer Shira Gill and her family clean out their homes for a good cause and learn something in the process.

I was blown away by how easy it was for them to let go of their tea sets, stuffed animals, and games when they had a mission, a clear purpose that reflected their values. By the end of the day, we had filled three huge bags with clothing, art supplies, and games. It felt good to declutter our home, but even more rewarding to make a contribution, however small.

Before bed, I asked each of my girls what they would want to take if we had to leave our home. After some thought they both had the same answer. They would take their cherished childhood bunnies and their treasure boxes filled with mementos, awards and photos. “Everything else is just stuff,” my eight-year-old shrugged.

During these dark times, my convictions about minimalism have only strengthened. When I look around my home and think of what I would grab in a fire, only a handful of things come to mind. At the end of the day, the things I truly hold precious are my friends, family, and community. The rest is just stuff.

If you’re looking to streamline your home and feeling stuck, try focusing your efforts on supporting a cause you believe in. You’ll be shocked at how much easier it is to make quick decisions and let go of things when you are helping others and donating for a good cause.

photo credit

I’d love to hear how you declutter for a purpose. Have you found any charities or non-profits that you love to contribute to?

 

 

Autumn Capsule Wish List: Cuyana Favorites

It’s my very favorite time of year! Cozy sweaters! Boots! I’m all in. Since I’m committed to investing in just a few things each season that fit into my wardrobe and lifestyle, I thought I’d share the pieces I’ve got my eye on this season. I went to the Cuyana fall launch party a few weeks ago and decided that I pretty much only need to shop at Cuyana from now on. Their line is composed of well-constructed pieces that are both stylish and timeless. These are on my wish list for sure:

Check out Shira Gill's favorite Autumn picks from Cuyana. 1// The perfect cozy, oversized sweater. Yes, please. 2 // I’d feel like a real fancy lady carrying this leather laptop sleeve. 3// Reversible. Alpaca. Cardigan. Need I say more? 4// Nothing like a little black bag to make you feel stylish and chic. 5// I’ve been eyeing these French-girl-cool boots for years. It may be time to pull the trigger. 6// The perfect oversized pouch for daily use or toting travel essentials.

Do you love this season as much as I do? What are your fall favorites?

photo credits