Category: Exfoliating

A few people have mentioned over email or Twitter that they spotted my recent feature in the May issue of Woman’s Day Magazine.

And thanks to Michelle, I now have a copy  of it myself!

On page 66 you’ll see this mug staring back at you. Don’t worry, I had hair and makeup for this shoot. So that ain’t the way my hair looks when I wake up.

What can I say? Just keepin’ it real.

Anyways, I’m honored to be asked by WD to share how I organize and decorate with my accessories. It was quite a fun day of shooting and it was fun to share my easy (and cheap) decorating tricks.

Luckily, the feature is also on Woman’s Day online as well. So feel free to hop over and see my tips for storing and showing off accessories.

the icing or the cake

March 22nd, 2012   |   ExfoliatingLifeThink About It

When it comes to cake, I prefer the icing more. In fact, when Mr. Lively and I stop by Molly’s Cupcakes, my treat of choice is an icing shot – which is a healthy dose of icing in a small plastic cup, sans cake. Though to some that might seem gross, to me it’s heavenly.

However, in real life, I’m finding that I need to keep my metaphorical love of icing in check. I’ve struggled with this before as well, I even wrote about it in my bio. In college I tried to be perfect and happy through physical “stuff” only to be disappointed and later to get my major a-ha moment – peeling back the layers of our lives leads to the most happiness – not adding to the layers.

Once I had this revelation I discovered my purpose, moved to Chicago, and have been promoting the benefits of making under ever since.

But recently I’m starting to notice that I now have two lenses with which I evaluate my life. The first lens is the lens of “The Real World,” the in-person experiences and relationships that I have. And the second lens is the “Online World,” which is comprised mostly of lifestyle blogs, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.

According to my Real World Lens I am doing fine – great even! I am grateful for all that I have in my life, I am thankful that I have a career and purpose that I’m passionate about, and I have a great relationship.

But my Online World lens tells me a different story. My Online World lens makes me feel not quite “enough.” Sure, what I have is nice, but my life could be so much better if I had bright colored jeans, a floral blazer, a puppy, a hunky husband, a baby on the way, and a knack for cooking and entertaining like Ms. Stewart.

Then my life would really be something. 

I get swept up in the beautiful images and their promises of perfection and forget all that I have learned from my Real World experience.

This needs to stop.

Photos online are more beautiful, styled, edited, Photoshopped, and professionally done than ever before. Inherently much of the photography that I consume online is telling a beautiful story that only depicts the icings of life.

And if I’m not careful, I find myself disrespecting the cake (read: substance) of my life. I trade my gratefulness for the dissatisfaction of never having enough icing.

My hope is by taking the time to share this with you that I’ll begin to re-program my values to go back to true North. That I’ll reconnect with the epiphanies I had in college and begin to apply them to my Online World lens as well.

Because I want to be in the icing, but not of it.

traveling with jewelry

March 21st, 2012   |   ExfoliatingLifeWardrobe

Gotta be honest, today I’m not feeling well. So I’m taking the day off, but right now I’m feeling well enough to drag myself off the couch and share something that hopefully is useful for you!

Traveling with jewelry doesn’t require a jewelry roll or anything fancy. Personally I use two things: little plastic baggies and an empty hand cream jar.

The key to not getting knots in fine chains while traveling is to drop the necklace vertically inside a little plastic baggie (a sandwich baggie will work too) – but remember to leave the clasp hanging outside the closure. This ensures that no matter how much your luggage gets jumbled, the chains won’t get tangled.

Once you arrive at your destination, pull the necklace out of the baggie vertically and you are good to go!

Extra tip: when at home make sure to hang your fine chains to make sure they don’t get tangled – ever.

For bracelets and earrings I simply drop them in a little hand cream jar that is cleaned. It’s quick, simple, and easy to find in my makeup bag.

I hope this helps!

my intention for my “stuff”

February 28th, 2012   |   ExfoliatingLifeWardrobe

When I moved to Chicago and started Jess LC from scratch in a studio apartment in 2007 I didn’t have a lot. I was self-funded by my part-time efforts from Jess LC in college and spent a lot of time thrifting for my decor and shopping at inexpensive “fast fashion” stores. It was wonderful because not only was it within my college budget at the time, but it also suited what I enjoyed; vintage decorating and feeling like I had a lot of clothes.

Then after living in the big city for a while, I started to sense a shifting in my priorities and in my personal taste. Suddenly I had a penchant for nice things, high quality things, things that I loved and were meant to last.

The only problem was that I was just starting out and was still “stealing” dozens of free tampons from my business school’s bathroom in order to stay on budget.

That’s right, I didn’t have much money.

So in late 2007 I set an intention to have only nice stuff that I loved, used, and needed.

But at that moment, my stuff looked something like this:

I had a ways to go before I hit that intention, obviously.

But rather than be discouraged by the bleak financial situation and volume of “not nice” stuff that I owned, I decided to manipulate my belongings to tip the scales just a bit.

I started to regularly exfoliate items that I didn’t need, use, or love with all my heart. Though I still love thrifting and some vintage decor, I donated or gave away all that was no longer my personal style. Same went for the cheaply made clothing that made me feel… cheap.

The end result of this concentrated effort was something like this in 2008:

As you can see with less stuff, the pie shrank a bit overall. But the proportion of nice to not nice stuff had increased. For example, if I started with 100 items and only 15 were nice, I was at 15% of my goal.

Then after my exfoliating, if I only had 70 things but the same 15 nice ones remained, my percentage of nice stuff I owned jumped up to 21% – and I didn’t need to spend a penny.  

I worked this formula on my possessions consistently and over time and the proportions continued to shift. I started to reach my goal without needing to go shopping.

And as you can imagine, over the next four years I did get more financial stability and was able to make new purchases. Although this time I had a new standard for what was worthwhile to spend money on: nice stuff. I didn’t get to buy much, but when I did – I made sure that it counted.

To continue this example, this might be a good representation of what my current stuff situation looks like:

Now I have a bigger pie since I have more things than after the shrinkage of 2008. But at the same time, the new things I’ve bought and my new exfoliations have continued to grow the good “nice” part of the pie.

Of course it goes without saying that what is “nice” or “not nice” is relative and is a personal decision that only we can make individually. But for those who are in a tight money spot at the moment or who might be unhappy with what they own; the exfoliation math can help fulfill intentions without breaking the budget.

vacation packing with intention

January 31st, 2012   |   ExfoliatingLifeStyleWardrobe

As most people start to prepare for this week’s Super Bowl parties, Mr. Lively and I are starting to get ready for our trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico! We will be gone Friday through Monday for a romantic weekend trip that doubles as my Christmas and Valentine’s Day present (I’m a lucky lady!).

I have already got my passport renewed and the rest of the preparation lies mostly in packing for the trip. But rather than waiting until Thursday night at midnight (we have done that before, much to my chagrin), I decided to get on the ball days ahead.

And in true Jess fashion, I’ve decided to see if I can create a more intentional packing process to help me stay prepared, but not burdened by a heavy suitcase full of unused items.

When I travel home for Christmas for a week to see my family I usually find that I have under-packed and feel forced to wear items that aren’t really ideal. But since I’m only heading to Cabo for three days and two nights, I also want to make sure I don’t over-pack due to my excitement to be somewhere warm and tropical.

So here’s what I did today to make sure I have a properly planned wardrobe while I’m away.

The first thing I did was talk with Mr. Lively about what activities we wanted to do while we were at the resort. We debated about whether we wanted to work out while there or not. Since my running shoes and gym clothes could easily take up a decent amount of my checked suitcase, I didn’t want to bring the gear if we weren’t going to really do a workout.

After discussing the workout idea, we nixed it in favor of swimming and relaxing. I have done a great job working out very consistently all month and I think a few days off to enjoy my hard work is ideal. So out went the workout gear from the packing list.

Above you can see what we do intend to do over the long weekend: lots of relaxing, swimming, and dining.

I also checked the weather forecast for Cabo this week. It looks to be about 75*-80* with cooler nights. So I knew that I needed to prepare for warm weather with layering at night.

Then, I pulled out most of my summer wardrobe and looked at all of my options.

Usually when packing, I get about this far and just throw my favorite items into my suitcase. But the end result is usually under or over packing and a lackluster array of outfits during the trip.

Next, I started to try on each item and created my favorite looks. Above you can see the outfits that could be great for dinner, dancing, or exploring. Each one has a layering piece as well in case of air conditioning or cooler temps.

I also made sure I had an outfit to fly back to Chicago in as well as a few other pieces that could be mixed in if I feel a bit more causal during the trip.

One bonus of this step I found was that there were a few items that needed to be steamed or cleaned. Those have been put in a special pile for me to attend to in the next few days so I’m not worried about them while on vacation.

And of course, I couldn’t forget the main event: swimsuits. I had the navy polka dot bikini from J.Crew last year but find that the top is a bit precarious for my chest and is best used only when laying out. So the new orange and black suits will be much better suited to fun at the beach or pool. I got both of the new suits at a huge discount from Lands End Canvas thanks to a recommendation from Jill.

So there you have it! I feel much better prepared for anything that might come up. I plan to use this same process to pack the other peripherals for the trip as well. This will include sunnies, beach towel, books, music, etc.

Viva la Mexico!

 

move past the clutter

January 23rd, 2012   |   ExfoliatingLife

Forgive me, I’m feeling a bit feisty today.

When I started MML and seriously began to design my life with intention, I focused on exfoliating items that I didn’t need, use, or love. And the content on MML reflected my clutter-free focus as well. But as I continued to pare down my possessions to those which were needed, useful, and loved, I had a revelation:

The clutter is only the weed, not the root of the problem.

Clutter-free is not the end-all be-all when it comes to having a life we love. It is just a sign that we might need to tend to matters that are much deeper than the stuff itself.

The same could be said with excess eating, drinking, shopping, or any addiction. Perpetual clutter can be a symptom of something more serious we need to work on. Just like Geenen Roth’s enlightenment, “it’s not about the stuff.”

And even if clutter is not an addiction (it wasn’t a serious problem in my life, for example) focus on it can still distract us from more important matters.

Getting rid of unnecessary things simply allows us to make physical and psychological space. That space then provides us the capacity to deal with the deeper issues that may be out of balance in our relationships, career, personal life, or spiritual life.

The real work we need to do is beyond our exfoliating and in the realms of thinking with intention, contribution, and love. Those are the things that will transform our quality of life.

So as much as I love a good exfoliation, I am more interested in our progress in the deeper aspects of our lives.

 

six decor and organizing ideas

January 18th, 2012   |   ExfoliatingLife

Since I just did my big exfoliation a few weeks ago, I thought it might be good to share ways to decorate and organize using items that might already be sitting around.

These little touches around my apartment make me smile each time I see them.

 

*Tip 5 came from Nate Berkus, but obviously might not be good around small children.

 

 

throw out 100 things (part two)

January 11th, 2012   |   Exfoliating

To wrap up the Throw Out 100 Things of 2012, I have the second half of the 100 items below.

It’s been great to hear how many people are doing some pretty major exfoliations in their own homes. If you blog about your purge, please feel free to share a link to it on the MML Facebook wall so we can all get a peek at your process.

I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of great finds in the Goodwill stores thanks to the MML community in the next few weeks!

51. Outdated phone charger
52. Old hand lotion
53. Holiday box
54. Anthropologie box
55. Old post cards
56. Blow dryer extension
57. Old business cards
58. Makeup pouch
59. Wine opener
60. Candle decor

61. Headband
62. Top coat
63. Chap sticks
64. Broken sunglasses
65. Running watch
66. Headphones
67. USB Card
68. Broken iPod
69. Eraser
70. Mint container

71. Belt
72. Shoes
73. Belt
74. Workout capris
75. Skirt
76. T-shirt
77. Jacket
78. Stripe scarf
79. Swim suit
80. Worn out gloves

81. Vase
82. Candles
83. Home spray
84. Mercury pine cone
85. Mini bar bottle
86. Birch branches (in the bag because they are messy)
87. Dead holiday lights
88. Ceramic hand
89. Old house keys
90. Ornaments

91. Shoes
92. Health book
93. Mineral makeup
94. Extra silverware
95. Cardigan
96. Orange paper
97. Catalog
98. Scarf
99. Silk scarf
100. Tweed jacket

 

 

throw out 100 things (part one)

January 10th, 2012   |   ExfoliatingLife

Over the holiday break I took a day to compile a collection of 100 items in my apartment that I don’t need, use, or love. I have done the Throw Out 50 Things challenge many times (again, and again) over the past three years. It is inspired by Gail Blanke’s book, Throw Out Fifty Things. Though I never read the book, I knew the practice was a great one for making under.

But this time I felt like stepping it up a notch and going for a full 100.

And though not super easy, it felt good to purge some items that weren’t getting used.

For those who might be too intimated by 100 items, I recommend trying the habit I created in 2009 of exfoliating one item per week. I called it my End of the Week Exfoliation. This practice is easy, and pretty much pain free for even the most clutter prone of people.

And of course, it goes without saying that the items don’t all end up in the landfill, I first make sure to donate, pass on, or recycle every item that I can. But at the same time, I don’t keep something around my home just because I feel guilty about throwing it away. At some point it will end up in the trash if it’s not usable any longer in any other way. So the cautionary tale here is to be very intentional about the purchases we make in the first place.

When I first compiled the items to exfoliate, my Christmas tree was still up from the holidays. I think the time between Christmas and New Years Eve is going to be my new time to do a thorough exfoliation each year. It feels great to lighten up my space after receiving a few new items from the holidays.

Here’s what I don’t want for Christmas really looks like:

Not pretty, huh?

Here’s the break down of the first fifty items that weren’t being properly used, needed, or loved in my home:

1. Holiday gift bags
2. Used notebooks
3. Business cards
4. Pant hanger
5. Magazines
6. Outdated address labels
7. Interview portfolio
8. Stickers
9. Cordless phone
10. 2011 calender

11. Running shorts
12. Bra
13. Panty hose
14. Sports bras
15. Tank top
16. Tank top
17. Tank top
18. T-shirt
19. Race tank
20. Running pants

21. Trash can
22. Business card book
23. Stuffed animal
24. Outdated glasses
25. Camera box
26. Point and shoot camera
27. Cork squares
28. Old receipts
29. Folder
30. Jewelry organizer portfolio

31. Extra Tupperware
32. Old cutting board
33. Old cocoa mix
34. Plastic boxes
35. Glass plate
36. Glass jars
37. Coaster
38. Vintage tray
39. Hershey’s Kisses
40. Glass tray

41. Printed shell
42. Printed top
43. Button down
44. Printed top
45. Vintage silk top
46. T-shirt
47. T-shirt
48. Tank top
49. Tank top
50. Cardigan

I’ll be back later with the other half of my 100 things!

 

how I’m going paperless in 2012

January 6th, 2012   |   ExfoliatingLife

Up to this point I have been a devoted paper to-do list and calendar girl – because when my palm pilot in ninth grade lost all of my information, I vowed only to use ink.

However, over Thanksgiving I thought that I lost my planner on a train back from St. Louis which caused a level yellow panic. I instantly regretted that my information was all tied up in that little pink book.

So with that in mind, I am stepping back into the realm of the online appointment books in 2012, and I’m liking the results.

To make this transition as easy as possible, I’ve found a few great apps and systems that might be helpful for others who are doing the same paper to web shift.

Because I run an online business and blog, it makes the most sense to keep everything I do on the internet. I have had a Macbook Pro for several years and when I launched the iPad covers for Jess LC, I got an iPad2 to make sure I knew what the heck I wanted the design to look like. And I recently switched from an Android phone to the iPhone 4s to keep things streamlined. I now love the iPhone interface much more than my old Android.

With the advent of iCloud and other systems that work over the web, the computer, iPad, and phone are all updated wirelessly and reflect the same appointments and to-dos, which is incredible. Losing my phone won’t mean that I lost all of my appointments and data like it did when I only had a hard-copy appointment book.

Here is a run down of the go-to apps that work seamlessly across all of my tech gadgets that I highly recommend:

This one is popular and obviously a no-brainer. I like that I can see it in month view:

And in day view:

Best of all, it isn’t too tedious to enter the appointments in on the phone and the reminder alerts are a nice feature that you can turn on or off. Once I enter it on either my computer, phone, or iPad, the appointment appears on all three devices immediately.

For me, the major drawback of the Google Calender is that I can’t just make a trusty to-do list. There is a standard Reminder app on the iPhone which can help. But I am now personally obsessed with TeuxDeux. TeuxDeux is available on your computer for free and they have designed a simple and beautiful app for the iPhone for $2.99. I’m not one to normally spend money on iPhone apps, but this puppy is worth it’s price tag and then some.

I can make daily to-do lists:

And if I don’t accomplish the to-do list item today, it will automatically transfer to the next day. Also, any updates I make on the computer or iPhone version of the app sync automatically to both platforms. TeuxDeux allows you to place to-d0 lists into the future as well. They have a great, short video explaining how it works on their homepage.

In addition to the daily to-do lists, there are also Someday to-do lists. I have one for blog post ideas, another for intentional obsession items I’d like to buy, and a third for errands. These lists are more by topic than date which is great for more long-term planning.

Lastly, the app I use the most is called Flip Board. It is a free app for the iPhone and iPad which Mr. Lively got me hooked on.

They have tons of links to news, sports, business, etc. in an extremely intuitive and beautiful format. But rather than flip through news on the app, I spend my time using it for….

My Google Reader! It makes my blog reader beyond beautiful and shares posts in a way that the desktop and phone Google Reader totally fails at. In a way, I feel like I have my own custom magazine constantly updating all of the blogs that I read and enjoy.

And lastly, I love my monthly background as well, courtesy of PuglyPixel.

Anyone else out there using web devices to keep their appointments? Any other apps that we should check out?

appreciation and stuff

January 4th, 2012   |   ExfoliatingLife

A few weeks ago I got my first iPhone (with a white and gold polka dot case from Kate Spade) and a fancy-schmancy camera.

I felt unbelievably lucky and blessed.

For 48 hours.

After the first two days, the wonder and excitement wore off much quicker than I expected. I mean, I really wanted these things and now I had them.

But they made me happy for an insanely short amount of time.

I write a blog that is about simplifying life and exfoliating clutter. So I know very well that things don’t make us happy (in fact, they can often lead to the opposite when they aren’t intentional). Heck, I want to write a book about the concept.

Stuff does not equal happiness. I get it.

But I still hoped just a little bit that my new toys would make me blissful for at least a few months. Heck, I would have settled for just a week (or two).

Yet the glow only lasted the length of a weekend. Whah wa.

But while pondering the disappointing pleasure high, I found a seed of truth:

Stuff doesn’t make people happy. The appreciation of stuff makes people happy. 

Yep, go ahead and tweet it.

What I’ve realized is that the things themselves aren’t going to help me live happily ever after just by sitting on a shelf looking cute. Only by actively being grateful and appreciating the things that I have, will I reap an unending supply of warm and fuzzies. The simple act of appreciating in my mind causes the spike I am seeking. Not the things themselves.

This is fantastic news because not only does this mean that I can get pleasure from appreciating my new tech tools, I can also get pleasure from all of the other things I have and love that have been around here for much longer.

And in general, I don’t need to constantly get new things to make myself happy. I just need to make sure I don’t take the blessings in my life for granted to begin with.

I know this isn’t rocket science, and people talk about appreciating people and relationships all the time. I just never really recognized that it applies to stuff as well and that the actual happiness is coming from the act of appreciating itself, not the object or person in question.

 

what i don’t want for christmas

December 21st, 2011   |   ExfoliatingLife

Two years ago I started a new holiday tradition for myself here on MML. I started my annual What I DON’T want for Christmas List. Each year I exfoliate items that I wouldn’t want to receive for Christmas (because I don’t need, use, or love them) before the holidays begin. This helps me avoid the clutter that accumulates after December 25th and have plenty of room in my home and life for the new gifts that may come my way.

If you think about it, it’s the same reason my weight-lifting class instructor, Shannon, always made us work out extra hard before Thanksgiving and Christmas. She knows we will soon be eating a lot of food. And by stepping up our fitness now, we can offset (some of) the sweets later.

So I plan to do a deep dive into my wardrobe and pick out what I don’t envision myself wearing in 2012. If the piece of clothing doesn’t match my vision for 2012, it doesn’t deserve to be in my wardrobe come January 1st.

Because of my travel this week, I won’t have a chance to sort through my wardrobe before heading out to Philly on Friday. But I am excited to return to Chicago in January and do a through exfoliation in my bulging closet. The nice thing about having a small apartment is that I am forced to continually exfoliate any excess.

 


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