Category: Exfoliating



Good morning!

Upon returning home from camping this weekend I had the itch to organize. Everything.

So this week I’m going to change up the posting a bit and devote the week to organization.

To kick things off, I’m sharing the most satisfying project that I’ve completed in a looong time.

Quite simply: I have “solved” my bath product travel problems.

Up to this point, I always had a hodge podge of products full-size, travel size, and otherwise to throw in a cute bag and take with me on trips.

But as this weekend’s packing proved: I never really know when I’ve included everything.

For example, I was convinced that I did not pack my toothbrush on the drive to the campgrounds, so we picked one up on the way. But later I found out that I did bring a toothbrush and bought the new one unnecessarily.

And since I have the trip to Austin for the workshops this weekend, and a trip to San Fran coming up in June, I felt the urge to make a bath bag that had everything I’d ever need.

This way I only have to “pack” my glasses and birth control.

First, I assembled the products that I use.




Though it’s kinda crazy, the products above aren’t all that I need, they are simply the larger, bulkier items that are hard to pack.

After a quick trip to Target, I purchased a solution for these big guns.


Bam. These little bottles that came with stick-them-yourself labels are perfection.

I grabbed two of the travel packages and ended up using every single one.

The bonus here is that I have a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner that I need for my hair treatment, so now I don’t need to pack mini hotel shampoos and conditioners that hurt my hair.

And things like contact solution and Moroccan Oil that before were bulky in my suitcase are now miniaturized.

Plus, the designer in me loves that they are all visually cohesive.




Then, my inner-nerd got even more excited.

I divided the bottles by use: one bag for the shower, one bag for the vanity.




To house the items, I chose this large silver tote from Z Gallerie, which formerly housed Jess LC inventory for several years.

It happened to be the perfect size with two extra pockets for extra necessities.




In the front pocket I have all of the quick essentials like hair ties, bobby pins, Vaseline, aspirin, and face wipes.




Inside the interior pocket I stashed some tampons, extra contacts, and first aid items.




The main compartment houses the two bottle bags, a tooth brush, face lotion, toothpaste, and my glasses. (Note: I still need to add a deodorant to complete the essentials.)




Which happen to fit quite nicely.

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been zipping and unzipping these compartments to peek inside and enjoy the organization quite a bit.

Makeup and my blow dryer are not included in this kit, of course, but more on that later.

Each trip, I can also remove any items that won’t be necessary. But I love that this kit will now get me through future travels without thinking, “man, I wish I had brought _____ with me.” 


2013 throw out 100 things challenge
January 14th, 2013     |    DecorExfoliatingLife


As I mentioned in December, I did my annual “What I don’t want for Christmas” exfoliation after the holidays.

While exfoliating the apartment from top to bottom before New Years, I realized that I might actually have a “Throw Out” 100 Things Challenge on my hands.

Along the way, I piled the exfoliations to be photographed for the blog challenge in the back hallway.

Which means that for the past few weeks this eyesore has been whispering, “You have to photograph me before you can donate, recycle, or throw me away…” in a really creepy and annoying voice each time I walk back to the bedroom or the back door.

However, looking at my consulting schedule, upcoming workshops, design project, and Alt Summit trip over the next two weeks, the reality is that my time is better spent focused on those endeavors. So I’m ditching the traditional 100 Things photoshoot and simply recycling, donating, or throwing away these items now.

Quite honestly, Franklin is relieved.

He was concerned about how much longer I was going to leave all these awesome “toys” just out of his reach.

This also means my January wish is that you imagine how nice the 100 Things Challenge photoshoot would have looked with these items laid out precisely and documented properly, like past challenges.

That way I can get this stuff outta my house!


* The awesome brass trunk is not a part of the actual exfoliation. It’s in the photo because it became a perch for the exfoliations themselves.



what i don’t want for christmas
December 17th, 2012     |    ExfoliatingLife


Since my Makeunder days* I have had a little tradition each Christmas season. Instead of crafting a holiday wish list of all the items I want each December, I go through my home identifying the items that I would not ask Santa for.

The idea being that if I wouldn’t ask for something this year, there is a good chance that I no longer need, use, or love the item.

By doing this tradition before the holidays arrive I not only feel lighter mentally by January 1st, but I also make room for any new treasures that I receive on December 25th.

And with a photo shoot happening in my home tomorrow, I am itching to do a complete exfoliation more than ever. I might even do another Throw Out 100 Things Challenge.**

However, my schedule lately has been filled with other important tasks like Christmas Day and the With Intention launch. Which means attempting a serious exfoliation by tomorrow, or even by Thursday (when we leave for the holidays) is simply too much to handle.

So I have decided to schedule my yearly Christmas exfoliation between December 26th and New Years Eve, when I will have time off from work to devote to the process.

But I thought I’d mention the holiday-themed exfoliation ahead of time, in case anyone else would like to try the exfoliation along with me!


* This blog once upon a time was called Makeunder My Life and I had a heavy focus on exfoliating items I no longer needed/used/loved.

** Despite the name, I don’t actually “throw away” 100 items, I recycle, donate, or pass on any items that I can.

the easiest part of the move
October 8th, 2012     |    ExfoliatingLife

When it came to the move, the easiest part of the whole process was hands down working with Redi-Box.

Redi-Box was kind enough to let us try their service and have me share an honest review of what it was like to work with their reusable boxes.

Fortunately for me, I have only glowing things to say about the company and the extremely simple process.

I simply went online and filled out when I wanted them to deliver the boxes at my old apartment and when I wanted them to remove the boxes from the new apartment. Delivery and removal are free and you can have the boxes free for up to two weeks (you can pay to keep them longer if you like).

As you can see, I didn’t even have to lift a finger. Bobby came in and dropped off the boxes exactly where I asked.

He also gave me a pack of sticky labels so I could track what went in each box.

Because Mr. Lively and I were doing trips to the new apartment the two days before the movers came, we ordered the studio level of boxes (15) and reused them a few times. It was as simple as removing one label and replacing it with another.

Since Mr. Lively was in charge of moving the boxes in each location (I was the packer), I asked him what he thought about working with the reusable boxes vs. the traditional cardboard ones we also used which were left over from Jess LC inventory. He felt it was nice to not worry about the boxes breaking under pressure. He also liked how they stacked when taking them to the car.

The only drawback he found was stacking them in our tiny Prius was not very easy due to their height. But for the traditional movers we had on Sunday this was not a problem at all. They simply stacked them along the walls of the truck and carted them over to the new place.

Because I was crazy ambitious, I set up the pick up time to be just two days after the move. This helped speed up the unpacking (meanwhile we still have cardboard boxes filled with things yet to be put away).

And once more, during the removal process I didn’t need to lift a finger. They came and picked them up on time and were very friendly and professional.

Overall, I definitely prefer moving with Redi-Boxes over cardboard ones. Considering how easy and reliable the pick-up and delivery service is, it even beats buying or scavenging for traditional boxes. Two thumbs up for Redi-Box in my book!


 I’d like to thank Redi-Box for letting us try their service for free. The thoughts I’ve shared are my honest opinions. 

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















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