Large Vanity Organization: Summer 2014 Update

OJ_OLJ_07-25-2014_01For the last installment of this year’s Clothing & Accessories Organization series I am sharing a look at how I organize my large-size vanity.  If you’ve been asking to see how I store my makeup and jewelry, then this is the post you’ve been waiting for!

I spent a long time hunting for the perfect vanity for our master bedroom a few years ago.  After an exhaustive search, I decided to buy the Hampton Vanity Tower & Super Set from PBTeen even though it only comes in white which doesn’t go with the decor of the room.  I had the piece professionally painted a deep brown color to match our mahogany bedroom furniture.  The end result matches the room so well you wouldn’t guess that it used to be white!

The piece itself nestles perfectly along one of the side walls in the room so that it is tucked a bit out of sight until you walk all the way in and turn around.  It comes with two large towers complete with full length mirrors that flank a vanity desk with another mirror.  One of the features that drew me to the piece was it’s size.  At 66″ wide x 18.5″ deep x 76″ high, the set does not take up too much floor space, but fills the wall space nicely.  I also purchased a cushioned wood chair from Pottery Barn (sadly no longer available) that matches perfectly.

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The piece comes with many great built-in organization features, including adjustable shelves, cork board (although this feature could be better designed in my opinion), a built in shelf, hooks, and six drawers in each of the two towers.  All of these features combined offer a ton of space to store and organize a variety of items.  I keep my rather extensive makeup and jewelry collections in this piece.  Even considering how much I have stored in it, there is still more room!

Whenever I sit at my vanity I keep both doors open so I can easily access everything within arm’s reach.  I generally get dressed first, then apply my makeup and pick out my jewelry.  One of the best parts about keeping both my makeup and jewelry in one place is that it streamlines my getting ready process.  I go through each section of my vanity and show how I use the space to organize my makeup and small accessories:

Left Tower

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I have quite a bit of room to work with in the towers shelves.  I store a couple of jewelry boxes on the top shelf of the left tower.  One holds my Pandora bracelet and charms and the other (not pictured) is where I keep my fine jewelry.  I have this locked away safely since we’ve been traveling a lot lately.

I have a Small Tapered Fabric Bin from Target on the middle shelf in which I keep extra brush cleanser, my favorite Makeup Finishing Spray by Skindinavia, a candle lighter, and clean washcloths.  I keep my body spray collection tucked alongside this bin arranged by season.  Right now I have my warmer weather scents in the front, and come fall I will swap them around with my colder weather favorites.  I like that I can see the labels and names of my body sprays on this shelf which makes me much more likely to remember to use them!

OJ_OLJ_07-25-2014_04I keep baby wipes, which I use for makeup application and cleanup, as well as my brushes on the lowest shelf, since I access these items more frequently and can do so easily from my chair. I now keep my brushes organized by type in four Brocade Pencil Cups that fit perfectly on a Clear Lazy Susan. I dedicate one cup to dirty brushes so I know which ones needs washing.

I don’t use the cork board, which is not very thick and is difficult to stick push pins into. I do like the small shelf installed just below it, where I keep frequently accessed items such as the current washcloth I am using (which I spread out on my vanity to keep the desktop clean while I am applying makeup), hand creams, and new mascaras. I use the hooks below for jewelry storage, which I will return to later.

The six drawers of this tower are dedicated completely to makeup. Each tower has three shallow and three deep drawers. I use my favorite Linus Drawer Organizers in both the shallow and deep sizes to organize my makeup by type.  Here you can see the contents of the drawers of the left tower in order from top to bottom:

✻ Eyebrow & Eyelash Products – fake lashes and accessories, brow products, tools for brows & lashes, and open mascaras.

✻ Eyeliners – gel liners, liquid liners, pencil liners, and pencils I use mainly for my lower lash line.

✻ Neutral Cream Eye Shadows – my most frequently used and all other neutral bases.

✻ Other Small Eye Products - non-neutral cream eye shadows, pencil & powder highlighters for under brow and inner corner, loose pigments and glitters, single eye shadows.

✻ Small Eye Shadow Palettes – organized by brand.

✻ Medium & Large Eye Shadow Palettes – organized by size and brand.

Right Tower

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The top shelf of the right tower is empty except for a few decorative boxes to fill the space.  On the middle shelf I have two Linus Handled Bins, one of which is empty and the other I keep body glitter in (I know, why do I keep this stuff?  It’s still perfectly good even though I never use it).   I can fit two Small Acrylic Canisters between the clear bins.  My kabuki brushes are safely tucked into one to keep them dust free since I am not using them currently.  I’ve removed the lid from the other so I can store my perfume rollerballs, sample sizes, and Travalos inside for popping in my purse or to take on trips.

The next shelf down is one of my favorite spots in my vanity, because it houses my massive lip product collection. Yes, it’s true, I am a #LipProductJunkie.  I have two 5-Drawer Acrylic Cases by Muji stacked on top of each other, which I’ve had for a few years now and are absolutely perfect for storing lip products. I keep lipsticks and lip crayons in the bottom set, separated by type and brand. The top set holds all of my lip glosses and lip balms. I’ve placed a Cosmetic Stax Makeup Brushes & Pencil Tray on top for my lip liners, lip brushes, and a couple of potted lip products that are too tall for the Muji drawers.

OJ_OLJ_07-25-2014_06I have a box of tissues tucked next to my “Lip Tower” (as I like to call it) and a small bowl that I picked up at the Christkindl Holiday Market (held in downtown Chicago every December) where I stash any sample sizes products I’m testing out. I like having them all in one place so I can remember to use them and they don’t get lost in the shuffle due to their smaller size.

Again, I don’t have anything on the cork board on this side either, but I am using the built-in shelf for makeup application necessities, such as makeup remover, my makeup finishing spray, brush cleaner, MAC Fix+, Caudalie Beauty Elixir, and three different kinds of cotton swabs, which I’ve corralled and stored upright using small Amac boxes minus the lids. The 1-5/8″ square x 2-7/8″ high size fits perfectly!

I use the top three more shallow drawers of the right tower for jewelry and the bottom three deeper ones for the rest of my makeup collection.  I keep all of my jewelery stored in individual anti-tarnish zip-top bags, which keeps things tangle free and in better condition. I use mainly the 3×3 and 3×2 sizes. Here is a look at the contents of the drawers in the right tower:

✻ Long Necklaces & Pins – bulkier beads and larger charms.

✻ Rings & Bracelets – pull cord, beaded, and leather bracelets.

✻ Bangles & Cuffs – organized by metal and style.

✻ Face Makeup Products – concealers, primers, face powders, and liquid face products.

✻ Blushes – organized by brand.

✻ Bronzers & Highlighters – organized by type, brand, and size.

Jewelry Storage

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I store the bulk of my jewelry between two Whitmor Hanging Jewelry Files I have hanging on 3M Command Adhesive Hooks centered just below the built-in hooks on the door of each tower.  I keep stretchy beaded bracelets organized by style and color on the built-in hooks.  These double-sided hanging files are the perfect size to fit on the inside of the door while still being able to close it.  I have the rest of my necklaces in the file on the left tower door, all kept safe in individual anti-tarnish zip-top bags, organized by metal and style.  I have my more dainty long necklaces as well as shorter ones I don’t wear as often but want to keep for sentimental reasons on the back.  I keep my earring collection in the front side of the file in the right tower, organized by metal, type, and style.  I have my chain and link style bracelets and less frequently worn earrings on the other side.  I try not to store more than 3 items in each cubby so it’s easy to see my entire collection.

Vanity Desktop

OJ_OLJ+07-25-2014_08I try to keep the center section of the vanity set where the actual desk portion is as clear as possible, since it is a bit of a narrow space and can look cluttered easily due to the large mirror behind it.  I have a clock, a mini candle holder, and a crystal flower pushed to the corners so as not to interfere with the desk space.  The only other item I keep out at all times is my lighted makeup mirror.

The desk has a wide, shallow drawer that came with built-in drawer organizers.  While I wish it did not have this feature as I much prefer to arrange my own drawer organization, I’ve found a way to use it well to store my watch collection.  I also keep my favorite clear lip balms and a small box for rubber earring backs in the front section for easy access.

As you can see, I store quite a bit in this piece even though I’ve done a major purging of my beauty collection over the past couple of years.  I think the amount I have stored now is the maximum I want to keep on hand at any given time.  I realize that this is an extraordinary amount of makeup.  I certainly don’t think anyone needs this much makeup for a well-rounded collection.  While I am certainly not a beauty guru in any sense, I’ve found myself trying out more and more products than I did before I started my YouTube channels and blog so that I can share an interesting variety of my favorite picks with my viewers and blog readers.  I’m lucky there are some lovely ladies in my life who don’t mind accepting my gently used products after I’ve had time to test them out and move on to trying something new!

I go through each part of the vanity in more detail in my coordinating video if you’re interested in a closer look:

As I mention in the video, I realized I had a few extra brand new palettes on hand from past giveaways where the winners never responded and I thought it’d be fun to give them away here.  The Vanity Palettes Giveaway will run until Friday, August 1, 2014 at 6 PM CT.  There will be THREE winners!  The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter. One person will win the Too Faced 15 Anniversary palette, another will win the Sigma Defining Eyes palette, and a third person will win the Urban Decay The Great & Powerful Oz palette pictured below (you choose which you like best when you enter the giveaway):

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Please note – I have had these palettes on hand for some time now.  I believe all three have been discontinued.  They are each brand new in box.  If you win one of these palettes you accept that they are not “just bought” new and accept them as is.

You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways). I’ll announce the winner on THIS blog post and contact them directly through email, as always. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties. If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

Thus concludes my 2014 Clothing & Accessories Organization Series!  I hope you enjoyed seeing how I keep my wardrobe, accessories, and beauty items stored and organized in both our main home in Illinois as well as our family vacation home in Utah.  Stay tuned for my Summer Travel Series starting next week!  Happy organizing!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

July 2014 Ipsy Bag

I’m back with an Ipsy update! If you’re unfamiliar, Ipsy is a monthly subscription service where you receive between 4 to 5 deluxe samples and full-sized beauty products for $10 per month (this includes shipping within the US. Ipsy also ships to Canada for an extra $4.95 per month).

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The July Ipsy bag theme is Sensationally Sunkissed.  The five items in my bag match the theme well and include a nice variety of beauty items.

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What’s in my July Ipsy bag?

Elizabeth Mott Tints & Sass Lip & Cheek Stain in Cherry - This stain is safe for use on both cheeks and lips and is meant to give a subtle glow with long-lasting results.  This reminds me of Benefit’s Benetint.

bareMinerals 5-In-1 BB Advanced Performance Cream Shadow - This is a very interesting cream shadow/primer with a satiny matte finish.  It has SPF 15 in it, which is different from any other eye shadow I’ve tried.  I am very curious about this product and would be interested in trying out a lighter shade as an everyday base.

Pop Beauty Sunkissed Bronzer in Secret Sunshine - While this bronzer seems a little dark to me in the pan, it applies much lighter to the skin and offers a nice glow, although I think I could only pull it off in summer when I have more color on my face.

Befine Food Skincare Daily Moisturizer with SPF 15 - This lightweight moisturizer is meant to hydrate and protect without being overly heavy for the warmer months.

Hang Ten Dark Tanning Oil SPF 08 - I must admit I was not very excited to see a tanning oil in this month’s bag as I have no interest in using this kind of product.  It seems like a nice brand, but I will not be trying this one.

Check out my coordinating video to see my review of the June bag and catch my reactions to this month’s selections:

I’ve decided to discontinue my subscription to Ipsy as I haven’t been as happy with it for several months now and it feels like a waste to get products I don’t use.  I plan on continuing with my PopSugar Must Have boxes if you’re interested in subscription posts like this.  I’d love to know if you have any subscription services you think I might enjoy.  Please leave me a comment to share!

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*All products mentioned are part of the Ipsy monthly sample program, for which I pay for my own membership.  Post contains affiliate & referral links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Week In Review (July 14 – July 20, 2014)

My Week In Review (otherwise known as WIR) posts are just that: a review of my past week.  I post an update here every Tuesday sharing some tidbits of my previous week as well as an accompanying photo recap with selections from my Instagram.  Here’s the buzz from my week:

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July has been so sweet to us in the midwest so far this year with gorgeously sunny days and glorious sunsets.  I have been relishing the weather lately as it has been more mild than usual and certainly less humid, which is nice.  There are gorgeous flowers everywhere, both outside which I enjoy while walking my dog, Winnie, and inside from my sweet hubby.  He’s been on a lily kick lately and I’ve really been enjoying these long-lasting beauties.  My favorite time of day to be outside is dusk, which right now falls between 8 and 9 PM.  It is quiet, calm, and beautiful, plus the sunsets have been amazing lately.  I know it’s important to relish this now before the typical midwest humidity strikes, and trust me, I am.

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I’ve gotten some fun things in the mail in the last week that I’m super excited about.  Deborah Harkness has just released the third book in her All Souls Trilogy called The Book of Life.  I absolutely loved the first two books, so you can imagine my excitement for this final installment.  My new Erin Condren personalized phone case showed up on my doorstep last week as well.  If you follow my OLJ posts then you’ll know I’m a wee bit obsessed with all things Erin Condren right now, including my fabulous new Life Planner.  I love this case in the party pops designs!  I also received a surprise press kit from Sigma with the new Standout Eyes gel liner collection.  These are gorgeous!  I can’t wait to play with them.

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I posted a lot about my planners on Instagram over the weekend.  I’ve been working on making the jump from using an A5 Filofax to a pocket size planner.  I want a more portable option for my day-to-day calendar, which is why I’ve decided to give this a go.  It’s no easy feat for an A5 lover like me, but where there’s a will there’s a way!  I still use my Erin Condren Life Planner for my posting schedule.  It helps me keep on top of my longterm plan and short term goals.  I do have a great fondness for my planners and journals, which I use my handy Reisenthel Market Basket to tote up and down the stairs as needed.  These baskets are great to have on hand for carrying things around a multi-level house.

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Don and I shared a wonderful day-ate (day date) together on Saturday with a full day downtown.  We enjoyed the gorgeous weather by eating lunch al fresco on the patio at RL Restaurant on Michigan Avenue.  We did a bit of window shopping on the Magnificent Mile before heading over to Museum Campus to go to the Adler Planetarium.  It was my first ever visit and Don’s first since grade school.  We both love learning about solar systems and the universe, and the planetarium is a great place to do so!  We meandered through the exhibits and saw two shows, which were both excellent.  Afterwards, we headed over to Frontera Grill for dinner at our favorite Mexican food restaurant in Chicago.  We ate and ate and then ate some more!  Savoring some Mexican hot chocolate was the perfect ending to not only the meal, but a wonderful day together.

Every once in awhile Don and I like to enjoy a weekend without the camera, so we took the weekend off of vlogging.  We did, however, film a Couple’s Q&A video with questions you submitted in last week’s post:

I hope you are all enjoying the season, good food, and good company wherever you are!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Large Walk-In Closet Organization: Summer 2014 Update

I shared a “before tour” of my closet with you when I started this clothing & accessories organization series back in May in my Closet Clean Out post.  I am happy to report that I am finally ready to share my “after” look!

I’ve just completed a major purge of my wardrobe, weeding out items from my twenties and (yes, it’s true) late teens that I no longer felt suited me now that I am in my thirties.  While I did do quite a bit of spring and summer shopping in recent months, I am making it a point to keep whittling down my wardrobe so I only have pieces I truly enjoy wearing.  A great tip for keeping the size of your wardrobe under control is to remove an item for each new thing you bring in.  While I have not purchased anywhere near what I recently purged (eight large trash bags full of clothes and several shopping bags filled with other items all to charity!), I plan on sticking by this rule as I already have well more than I need.

OJ|OLJ_07-18-2014_01While I took my time with the purging process, going through my wardrobe a little at a time over the course of several months, I was able to complete the actual tidying and organization of the closet over one weekend.  Once everything I no longer wanted was gone I found it very easy to go through my closet in one fell swoop.  Having a great organizational structure already in place helped a lot.  After some consideration, I decided not to change “the bones” of the closet at all.  I am referring to the Elfa setup I designed and installed when we first moved into the house seven years ago.  While I did change it up a bit a few years ago in my previous closet overhaul, I felt that the current design really suits our needs right now.  In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

To say this closet, which is located in our master bedroom, is large is an understatement.  It’s really pretty massive and I love having so much space to work with!  We could definitely store a lot more in there, which is nice because that means there’s room to grow if we need extra storage someday.  Even so, I’ve arranged everything in such a way so the closet look full.  I find this makes everything easy to locate and access.  While I didn’t make a lot of big changes, freeing up some space allowed me to tidy up and tighten up the organization I already had in place.

The layout of the closet is very long and narrow, which is why I’ve fondly dubbed it “the bowling alley.”  Unfortunately, this layout makes it pretty tricky to photograph or even film, but I did my best to give you a sense of how I am using this space for storing both my and my husband’s wardrobes, as well as all of our travel gear and some of my bulky filming equipment.

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When you walk into the closet there is a deeper alcove on the right side.  This is the perfect spot for my husband’s things, as there is plenty of room for the 18″ shelves I installed there.  This allows more space to comfortably store his clothing, which is much broader and longer than mine.  I haven’t changed the organization of his wardrobe since I first installed the closet seven years ago with the exception of a few minor tweaks.  I keep most of Don’s folded clothes out on shelves, which is the way he prefers it for easy access.  The only items of his I store in boxes are his dress shoes and backup items such as new undershirts and socks.  I use Elfa components to keep his accessories in order, including the Gliding Tie & Belt Rack that clips right onto the shelf.  I drilled the Hangmate Belt & Tie Rack as well as the 5-Hook Rack right into the walls for his belts and hats.

I keep a few other items tucked into this area, as well.  There are several clear storage boxes for holiday clothing located on the very top shelf.  I am using one my my beloved Reisenthel Fabric Storage Boxes for my gym bags and swim gear which I stow on a low shelf.  Our Walnut 2-Step Wooden Stool rests against the wall for easy access.  Don is very happy with his portion of the closet, which comfortably holds all of his clothing in a way that appeals to both him and me (not necessarily an easy feat!), located right at the very front where he can easily access his things.

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I keep all of my things on the left side of the closet.  I take up quite a bit more space since I have a much larger wardrobe than Don.  It works out well for me to store my clothes and accessories on the wall with more shallow 12″ deep shelves.  I have a few hooks on the back of the closet door for robes.  I also use the Elfa Hangmate Belt & Tie Rack and 5-Hook Rack drilled directly into the wall for my belts and hats.  Having these tucked more on the side makes sense for me since I don’t access these things as frequently as my husband uses his like items.

I store my footwear in a few different ways.  I love my Flip Flop Hangers to keep my flip flops organized in an easy to see, easy to grab fashion.  I keep the majority of my heels, wedges, flats, and sandals in clear shoe boxes organized by type with my least worn shoes on the top shelves and my most worn everyday style shoes lower down.  I have one shelf for my Uggs and short boots, which I use boot shapers to help maintain the shape.  I use the same boot shapers which also have handy hangers attached to hang my tall leather boot collection on a low rod.  This keeps them off the floor and easy to access.  Plus, it looks great!

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I keep all of my hanging clothes as well as some folded items in the middle my side of the closet.  I have a stack of ten Linen Drop-Front Shirt Boxes that I purchased (on sale!) several years ago where I used to store my massive sweater collection.  I actually parted with more than half of those sweaters in my recent purge and freed up some space to keep my jeans and leggings folded.  I haven’t been a fan of having my pants on hangers for awhile now and this is the perfect solution to keep them accessible and easy to see thanks to the clear windows.  I have both my sweaters and pants organized by type in these boxes.

I keep my hanging clothes organized by type as well, as I find that’s the easiest way for me to navigate my wardrobe.  On the top rack I have tops, flyaway cardigans (so challenging to fold!), and jackets.  My sweatshirts, athletic gear (some cold weather running layers as well as my golf and tennis clothes), slacks, and skirts are on the lower rod.  I picked up a great tip to switch around the hangers of items you are uncertain of keeping so they are hanging with the hooks on the rod backwards.  If during my next spring clean out I find these hangers still backwards, I’ll know I did not wear that item and it’s time to let it go.  I’m doing this with most of my skirt collection, which I haven’t been interested in wearing in some time.  We’ll see what stays and what goes next year!

There is ample room to hang both my short and long style dresses, which I have also organized by type and by season.  While I love using the beautiful Walnut Wood Hangers I’ve had for almost ten years now for the majority of our clothing, I prefer Huggable Hangers for my dresses to prevent slippage.

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The far end of the left side of the closet is my favorite part, because it is wear I store my handbag collection and accessories.  I am definitely a bag lover!  I love the Elfa Hanging Drawers for accessory organization.  I keep my bags stored by type in their dust bags (if they came with one) in the bottom six drawers.  The next level of drawers is where I store my wallets, wristlets, and extra pouches.  I recently divided all of my smaller accessories into clear accessory boxes.  Six of these fit perfectly inside one drawer!  I also have two more of the Elfa 5-Hook Racks drilled directly into the back wall on either side of a full length mirror where I hang my scarf collection, organized by season.

I have three woven boxes that I purchased from Crate & Barrel about ten years ago (sadly no longer available) where I stow away special jewelry and watch boxes for my nicer pieces that I want to keep.  I have two clear boot size boxes on the next shelf up for my special race wear as well as our Disney World gear.  Lastly I have a couple of pillows that I use for different seasonal bedding on the very top shelf.  There’s actually a lot of shelf space left on the upper portion of my side of the closet.  While I tried to space out my wardrobe to fill most of the space on the wall, I didn’t have anything I needed to store up top just now.  Having room to grow is always nice!

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The closet narrows after the partition where Don’s wardrobe is on the right side.  I installed 20″ deep shelves in this space since I knew I wouldn’t need it for hanging storage.  I used to keep a large collection of collectibles from my childhood on the top two shelves, which I have recently moved to another space while I decide what to do with those items.  This freed up a ton of space for me to reorganize our travel gear and add in some bulky items such as filming and photography gear that I do not need to access frequently.  I also keep my wedding dress, which is preserved, and my wedding day accessories on the top shelf.

One shelf is lined with eight large Reisenthel Fabric Storage Boxes which house a variety of things, including much of our travel gear and packing accessories.  I keep our large collection of luggage that we’ve accumulated over the years on the bottom two shelves.  Everything feels much more well spaced and less cluttered now that I’ve opened up the top two shelves!  I keep even more travel-related items in two of the large Storage Lockers I have tucked under the shelves on the floor.  I had purchased these wheeeled heavy duty plastic trunks ten years ago when we moved into our condo for our storage area in the parking garage.  I recently cleaned out all of the collectibles and memorabilia I had stored in them to make room for bulkier items, including our now massive collection of extra hangers thanks to my huge wardrobe purge.  The fourth trunk is empty, meaning more room to grow if needed!

I decided I will put up a separate post sharing how I organize all of our travel gear for my upcoming travel series.  Check back next month if you’re interested to see what I keep on hand for our travels and how I store those items!

 Here are a few of my favorite closet organization aids from The Container Store:

I go through each part of the closet in more detail in my coordinating video if you’re interested in a closer look:

I would love to hear how you organize your closet if you care to share.  Check back next week for a look at how I organize my large size vanity where I stash my makeup and jewelry.
Happy organizing!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

July PopSugar Must Have Box (2014)

This subscription is so much fun!  If you’re unfamiliar, PopSugar Must Have is a monthly subscription service where you receive a selection of full size and premium beauty, fashion, home, and fitness items for $39.95 per month (this includes shipping and is available in the US only).

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July’s theme is inspired by “hot summer nights, eating al fresco, longer days, lemonade, sunshine, vacation, and outdoor workouts.”  Yep, that pretty much sums it up!  As usual, there is a nice variety of items in this box ranging from beauty to leisure!

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What’s in my July box?

Michael Stars Beach Hat This hat is awesome!  I have trouble finding nice beach hats that travel well.  This one is bendable due to a wire rim and flexible thanks to the knotted sea grass material.  I can’t wait to take it outside! Suggested Retail: $48

ACME Party Box Company Chevron Straws - I’ve been seeing fun paper straws like these everywhere lately and now I have my very own set on hand for our next summer party.  Suggested Retail: $7

TKO Jump Rope with Soft Grip Handles - I was just thinking I wanted to get a jump rope the other day and now I have one!  It’s funny how that works sometimes.  Jumping rope is a great calorie buster that gets your heart rate up fast.  This rope with the soft grip handles looks perfect for me!  Suggested Retail: $13

French Bull Ziggy Salad Servers - What a wonderful addition to my collection of melamine servers!  These colorful salad servers are perfect for summer parties and gatherings at our house.  Suggested Retail: $12

Dang Foods Toasted Coconut Chips - One word sums this fun snack up: YUM!  It’s such a simple concept and a tasty one at that!  Suggested Retail: $3

Sun Bum Sunscreen & Lotion - What a great duo for this summer box!  Between this sunscreen and cool down lotion with aloe and my new sun hat, I will be well protected from the bright midsummer sun.  Suggested Retail: $20

Revlon Bold Lacquer Length & Volume Mascara - I was just thinking I needed to buy a new mascara since my current tube is on its last legs.  PopSugar Must Have to the rescue again!  I always love trying out new mascaras and am looking forward to seeing how this one stacks up for me.  Suggested Retail: $5

Check out my coordinating video to hear about my favorites from last month’s selections and see my reactions as I open this month’s box:

As I mention in the video, I decided it would be fun to pass on the goodies from previous boxes that don’t necessarily suit my personal needs or style to others who would truly enjoy them. The July PopSugar Extras Giveaway will run until Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 6 PM CT. The giveaway is open internationally. All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter. One person will win the Sacha Juan Ocean Mist and Lollies Hair Ties set pictured below:

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Please note: I did spray the ocean mist twice to try it out.  I have disinfected the nozzle.  If you win this prize you consent that you understand the spray has been used before and accept it as is.

You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways).   I’ll announce the  winner on THIS blog post and contact them directly through email, as always.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties. If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

I unfortunately won’t be able to share my August box next month as I will be away.  I’ll catch up in September!  Click here to learn more about the PopSugar Must Have Box. Use code REFER5 to save $5 off your first box!

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* All products mentioned are part of the PopSugar Must Have monthly subscription program, for which I pay for my own membership.  Post contains affiliate & referral links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Week In Review (July 7 – July 13, 2014)

My Week In Review (otherwise known as WIR) posts are just that: a review of my past week.  I post an update here every Tuesday sharing some tidbits of my previous week as well as an accompanying photo recap with selections from my Instagram.  Here’s the buzz from my week:

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Hello, summer weather!  It finally really feels like summer here in the midwest with gorgeous hot sunny days mixed with a bit of mugginess and a few storms here and there.  We’ve had so much rain this year that everything is very green and vibrant outside.  Our summer flowers are thriving as well!  I just love being outside in the summer.  There’s nothing like a super cold and long winter to help you appreciate the glories of summer weather.  Sometimes I like taking my dog Winnie for walks by the lake where it tends to be shadier, cooler, and slightly less humid.  I haven’t made it to the beach yet this year but it looks beautiful as ever!  One of the great things about living in the Chicagoland area is the vast beauty of Lake Michigan.  Some days it looks just like the ocean!

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I talked about being a creature of habit and enjoying my usual summer breakfast of yogurt with granola and berries last week, but something strange happened since then….I actually changed up my breakfast!  Crazy, I know!  I’ve been lacking a bit in the protein department, so I decided to beef up my breakfasts by scrambling a couple of eggs with whatever leftover meat and veggies we have on hand.  This has turned out to be a most delicious experiment!  Some of my favorites of last week were the hamburger, bacon, and green beans combo as well as crab with broccoli.  I had no idea crab would taste so good with eggs!  My very favorite, however, was using the leftovers from our shrimp fajitas.  Talk about flavor!  I’m very interested in what you like to eat for breakfast if you care to share.  It’s fun to know what other people like. :)

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I have been working on cleaning up the other areas of my diet more lately as well.  While I do generally stick to the 80/20 rule (be good 80% of the time and don’t worry about the other 20%), I’ve been learning more about nutrition and want to take a more active approach to it.  It’s so easy to forget that what we put in our mouths is actual fuel for our bodies, not just tasty treats for our minds.  While I do stick to a pretty healthy diet during the week, I am always a bit stuck on healthy snacks and tend to reach for my favorite Pretzel Crisps and Veggie Puffs without thinking much about it.  I’m trying out new snacks like fruit, almond butter, guacamole, and nuts.  Again, I’d appreciate any healthy snack tips you guys have if you want to share!

I picked up a few fun things last week, including new gift wrap for my filming backsplash from The Container Store.  I had popped in to buy some mailing supplies when I passed by a brand new display of Treeless Gift Wrap.  I must have stood in front of that display for a good five minutes with my mind brainstorming all of the fun things to do with these colorful beauties!  I ended up picking eight of the rolls in a rainbow spectrum for my summer backsplash.  I haven’t bought new paper for a long time since I have such a nice collection on hand already, but was running low on my summer options since I do use the wrap for gifts as well as display.  I’m so happy this new collection caught my eye.  The rolls look so colorful and cheery on my wall!  The wrap is made from calcium bicarbonate and is touted to be tear and water resistant.  How cool is that?

Lastly, I decided to get a swift and ball winder to make winding my yarn from skeins into balls (or cakes) easier.  I tested these out for the first time last night and can’t believe how fast and easy it was wind my yarn!  I’ve started working on a new pattern called Flow by Andrea Rangel which is a beautiful lace edge scarf/shawl.  The pattern is already kicking my butt, but I know it’s just a matter of time, patience, and some good old internet research until I get it down.

Don and I had a marvelously uneventful “No Plans” weekend where we deliberately stayed home, did things around the house, and just hung out together.  We’ve been so busy this year with jam-packed weekends of friends, family, and travel (all good things for sure but sometimes you need a break), that we decided we were due a hermit weekend at home.  It was divine!  I finally had a chance to finish work on my closet, which I will be sharing a look at later this week.

If you’d like to see more from my weekend, check out my vlog:

As I mentioned earlier, I’m very curious about what you like to eat for healthy meals and snacks and would love to hear about it.  Feel free to leave a comment if you’d like!  Take good care <3

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Summer 2014 Posting Schedule

summer-scheduleHello Friends!  

I wanted to let you know that I am altering my posting schedule a bit for summer.  I plan to post my WIR’s and coordinating Weekend Vlogs on Tuesdays, a TheBusyBeeBuzz post and video on Thursdays, and an OrganizedLikeJen post and video on Friday or Saturday.  You can still catch new pics of Winnie on her blog five times a week, Monday through Friday, as well as occasional polish updates on Positively Polished.  I might not adhere strictly to this schedule, but it is more or less what I plan on following at least through August.  I hope you are all enjoying summer (or winter if you’re in Australia!) and I look forward to sharing with you over the coming months.

Thanks for your support!

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The Bag Buzz: Kate Spade Cobble Hill Little Curtis

I have a new love in my life this summer…

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Yes, I am talking about a handbag!  LOL :D I purchased this stunning mint blue beauty back in late January as a birthday present to myself and tucked it away for sunnier days.  My Kate Spade Cobble Hill Little Curtis is the quintessential summer bag for me!  Not only is it my preferred size and shape, but the color is spot on for the season.  Kate Spade calls it “Grace Blue” and it is what drew me to the bag in the first place.  The bag retails for $278 and comes in several other colors.  The Grace Blue shade is currently on sale for $194!

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I didn’t realize how awesome the design was until I started carrying it.  It has an adjustable and detachable 20″ drop cross body strap which makes it easy to carry either on one shoulder or cross body.  Additionally, there is a smaller 5″ drop handle that is long enough to comfortably carry on your arm or over a shoulder.  I love that the shorter handle tucks nicely behind the bag when you’re wearing it long.  Four ways to wear one bag is pretty sweet!  I prefer to wear it with the long strap but certainly appreciate having the option to wear it shorter.

OJ_TBBB_07-09-2014_03The Little Curtis is made from a beautiful pebbled leather that is super soft.  While the bag is not rigid in nature, it does hold it’s shape well with a reinforced bottom to prevent sagging.  The gorgeous light gold hardware accents the mint beautifully.  The bag is medium in size, measuring 8.66″ high x 9.84″ wide x 5” deep and is lightweight.  It has a smaller exterior zip pocket across the front , which is a handy place to stow my iPhone (with the super cute Hello Sunshine phone case by Rifle Paper Company on it right now) and vlogging camera (a Canon PowerShot S120) for easy access.  The main compartment has a zip pocket on the back interior as well as two slip pockets along the front interior.  The entire bag is lined in a lovely poly twill with a gold and cream striped print.

There is ample space in the main compartment to stash my everyday purse essentials.  I am going to share the contents of my purse with you despite the fact that they are the same month after month.  I don’t switch these items up very often. I may change my bags out fairly frequently, but I like to keep the contents more or less the same.

Here’s a look at them in case you’re still interested:

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1. Orla Kiely Sweet Pea Beauty Organizer - My current Walking Pharmacy, this Target exclusive has great organizational elements built right in. Still available in a different print!
2. Vinyl Zip Pouch with Coupons – Exact one shown is no longer available but I also like this alternative from The Container Store.
3. Henri Bendel Mind Your Business Case - I keep my special store cards in this beauty.
4. Two Pocket Card Holder from ATime4Everything on Etsy – A great way to cut down on bulky card cases!  I stow gift cards and business cards in mine.
5. Ginger Mints from Trader Joe’s
6. Mulberry Bow ID Purse - My current favorite wallet!  Perfectly sized to carry in smaller bags.
7. Dum Dums – Don’t leave home without ‘em! ;)
8. Nyx Butter Gloss in Creme Brulee and Dior Addict Lip Balm in #3 (similar product linked) – My current favorite lippies!
9. A small tin filled with treats for my pup, Winnie, and poopy bags.
10. Car keys with my favorite Henri Bendel Bow Stripe Key Fob and Swiss Army Knife (this has come in so handy over the years!) and my house keys on a keychain sent from a viewer in Malaysia.  Thanks, again, I love it!

Check out my coordinating video you’d like a closer look at my Little Curtis:

I’m super excited to be giving away one of these beauties this month!  The July Bag Buzz Giveaway will run until Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 6 PM CT. The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter. ONE winner will receive the brand new Kate Spade Cobble Hill Little Curtis bag pictured below: 

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You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways). I’ll announce the winners on THIS blog post and contact them directly through email, as always. Good luck!

*** GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED ***

Congrats to the winner of the July Bag Buzz Giveaway!

The Poll Results for *What brand of handbags most closely matches your style?* out of 2910 entries:

Kate Spade New York (1496) 48%
Coach (558) 18%
Fossil (280) 9%
Louis Vuitton (225) 7%
Something else (leave a comment!) (221) 7%
Mulberry (216) 7%
Prada (80) 3%
Gucci (28) 1%
Le Sport Sac (27) 1%

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties. If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

I hope you enjoyed this look at my summer bag.  I would love to know what bag you’re currently loving and carrying or just lusting after, if you care to share!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Week In Review (June 30 – July 6, 2014)

My Week In Review (otherwise known as WIR) posts are just that: a review of my past week.  I post an update here every Tuesday sharing some tidbits of my previous week as well as an accompanying photo recap with selections from my Instagram.  Here’s the buzz from my week:

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Happy July!  I’ve mentioned before how I am a creature of habit when it comes to my general nutrition (with the exception of dining out on the weekends of course) but that my staple meals and snacks change seasonally.  Now that summer is in full swing, I’ve been enjoying some lighter fare, including lots of fresh fruit and cooler foods and drinks.  My go-to breakfast lately is Greek yogurt mixed with a bit of honey, granola, and fresh berries.  My favorite mid-morning snack is pineapple with a side of organic walnuts (weird combination, I know, but I find I process fruit better when I pair it with healthy fats).  While I most definitely prefer drinking tea, I find I don’t consume nearly as much in the summer months, probably because I like it better hot than iced.  Every once in a blue moon, however, I crave a little coffee.  I can’t handle the caffeine, so it’s decaf all the way for me, but still oh-so tasty!  I think the last time I consumed coffee was about this time last year.  When the mood does strike, infrequent as it may be, my favorite Starbucks summer indulgence is an iced decaf caramel macchiato.  If you’re a caramel lover like me, ask for extra caramel (yes, please!).

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Another thing that changes seasonally for me is color and pattern preferences for clothing and accessories.  Currently I am in love with everything mint colored!  I was noticing earlier last week just how much I have surrounded myself with minty blues and greens lately in everything from my running gear, to my planners, accessories, nail polish, and even my dog Winnie’s hair bows!  It is such a refreshing color!  I guess it makes sense that I am so infatuated with it right now when it is hot and muggy outside.  I’m also really into this cute pineapple print from Target that I now own a couple of tops in.  Apparently, I love both eating pineapple and wearing pineapple print!  Another wonderfully refreshing delight for summer.

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We had a jam-packed weekend filled with family, friends, food, and fun!  My brother and his family drove up to spend the holiday weekend at my parent’s house.  We spent both Thursday and Friday nights with the family.  We have so much fun together!  There’s always laughter and lots of good food at our gatherings.  My brother snapped these pics of me and Don.  Of course we had to have a silly (scary?) face one, too!

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On Friday night we celebrated both the 4th of July and a few summer birthdays at my parent’s house.  I brought Funfetti Confetti Cupcakes (recipe by the Little Spice Jar) I baked in honor of the special multi-celebration.  Don made his famous chicken wings, my Mom served up a bountiful feast of tasty snacks, and my Dad grilled burgers and hot dogs.  We walked into town to watch the local fireworks and had a jolly good time!

On Saturday, Don & I hosted our annual backyard summer bash featuring Don’s tasty smoked ribs and lamb.  This year we also served up delightful smoked trout bites, with the fish caught and smoked by my Dad, as well as the most delectable smoked prime rub crostinis and one of the best things I think Don has ever made (and that’s really saying something because I think all of his food is delicious!).  I baked up cookies and mini berry crumbles for dessert and we invited both sides of the family as well as our good friends we’ve known since high school.  It was such a fun party!  Our friends stayed the night and we ate even more delectable food the next morning when Don made buttermilk pancakes and bacon.  We had some bacon left over which inspired us to grill up burgers (yes, again! LOL ;) ) for dinner Sunday night.  All in all, it was quite the weekend eating fest!

If you’d like to see more from my weekend, check out my vlog:

I’d love to know how you spent the holiday weekend if you care to share.  I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate than with the ones I love.  I hope you had a wonderful weekend with your loved ones as well!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

The Container Store, Oakbrook: Store Tour & Preview Events

I was delighted to be invited to The Container Store’s Blogger Preview and Preview Party for their new Oak Brook, Illinois store last week.  As you probably already know, I am a huge fan of The Container Store (TCS for short from now on) and all of the wonderful products they offer.  It is organization heaven for someone like me who loves to have everything contained and labeled.  Take one look around my house and those feelings become even more apparent.  Most all of my bins, boxes, drawer organizers, and sorters are from TCS.  Every closet is designed with Elfa, including our storage room and garage.  I have been a loyal customer for over a decade now and my appreciation for TCS only grows. You can imagine, then, how excited I was to be given the opportunity to see the new space in Oak Brook and, best of all, take photos and film a video to share with you!

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Here are some fun facts I learned during the Blogger Preview I was invited to a couple of days in advance of the store’s Grand Opening on June 28:

✻ The new 27,000 square-foot store replaces the older, smaller Oak Brook location that opened twenty years ago a few miles away.  The new store is located right in Oakbrook Center, a beautiful shopping, dining, and entertainment center.  The new TCS Oak Brook is located right next to Maggiano’s.  It is easier to access and offers ample space to house more than 10,000 products.  That’s right, 10,000!

✻ Out of those 10,000 products, TCS offers “over 300 food storage solutions, 750 organized office products, 45 types of laundry hampers, 350 organized travel products, 200 different hangers,” and more.  Talk about selection!  One of the things that makes TCS such an awesome, stand-alone retailer in my opinion is the variety and sheer volume of organizational aids and storage solutions they provide.  I have never seen another store come even close to offering the same kind of variety on such a scale.  It truly is an organizer’s paradise!

✻ TCS is well known for their awesome customer service.  If you’ve ever had the pleasure to visit one of the the retail locations, you are familiar with the friendly and helpful staff in the store.  Did you know that full-time salespersons receive over 263 hours of training in their first year?  Considering that the retail industry average is 7 – 10 hours, that kind of commitment to employee development is unique and impressive.  I can definitely see the results as a customer shopping in store by the excellent staff.

I took as many photos as I could during the Blogger Preview event to give you a sense not only of the way the store is laid out (perfectly organized and easy to navigate!) but also to show the great variety of products offered.  Photos are ordered as if walking counter clockwise through the store, ending in the center.  I did not photograph every single inch of the store (although I certainly tried!), but I think this slideshow will give you a pretty good idea of the gorgeous new Oak Brook space:

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Hangers galore and all sorts of bins and boxes that are perfect for closet organization.

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More closet organization accessories, including hanging garment bags and shoe storage.

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Elfa central where you can find everything you need and wonderful staff to help you design your dream closet.

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Every type of office organization product imaginable all in once place!

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In addition to office organization, TCS also offers office accessories and wonderful paper storage solutions.

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Have you ever seen such a wide selection of trash bins in one place? There is also a great section of hooks, car organization, and garage storage.

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The Collections sections are where you'll find storage solutions for things such as DVDs, CDs, collectibles, and more.

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One of my favorite parts of TCS is the gift wrap section. Not only do they carry gorgeous paper and gift wrap accessories, but also containers and boxes in all shapes and sizes for gift giving and creative storage.

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There's a lovely selection of bathroom organization products, including bathroom counter items and drawer organizers that I didn't manage to snap photos of.

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One of my other favorite sections is for travel. It's packing organization heaven!

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You would be amazed by the variety of food storage containers TCS offers. There's everything from glass and plastic to metal and wood in all shapes and sizes!

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In addition to food storage, there's a great selection of products to help you organize your kitchen pantry, cabinets, drawers, and counters.

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You'll even find storage solutions for your plates, glasses, and flatware as well as helpful kitchen tools such as cutting boards and drying racks.

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The center of the store is dedicated to larger storage containers, bins, and boxes, as well as any featured items on sale. Currently, TCS is running the Happy Organized Home sale.

OJ_OLJ_07-04-2014_001Hangers galore and all sorts of bins and boxes that are perfect for closet organization.More closet organization accessories, including hanging garment bags and shoe storage.Elfa central where you can find everything you need and wonderful staff to help you design your dream closet.Every type of office organization product imaginable all in once place!In addition to office organization, TCS also offers office accessories and wonderful paper storage solutions.Have you ever seen such a wide selection of trash bins in one place?  There is also a great section of hooks, car organization, and garage storage.The Collections sections are where you'll find storage solutions for things such as DVDs, CDs, collectibles, and more.One of my favorite parts of TCS is the gift wrap section.  Not only do they carry gorgeous paper and gift wrap accessories, but also containers and boxes in all shapes and sizes for gift giving and creative storage.There's a lovely selection of bathroom organization products, including bathroom counter items and drawer organizers that I didn't manage to snap photos of.One of my other favorite sections is for travel.  It's packing organization heaven!You would be amazed by the variety of food storage containers TCS offers.  There's everything from glass and plastic to metal and wood in all shapes and sizes!In addition to food storage, there's a great selection of products to help you organize your kitchen pantry, cabinets, drawers, and counters.You'll even find storage solutions for your plates, glasses, and flatware as well as helpful kitchen tools such as cutting boards and drying racks.The center of the store is dedicated to larger storage containers, bins, and boxes, as well as any featured items on sale.  Currently, TCS is running the Happy Organized Home sale.

I share a closer look at the store as well as footage from the preview events in my coordinating video:

As I mentioned in the video, TCS was kind enough to give me two $50 gift cards to give away!  The TCS Gift Card Giveaway will run until Monday, July 14, 2014 at 6 PM CT. The giveaway is open in the US only since shipping is only available statewide.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter. There will be TWO winners!  Each winner will receive a $50 gift card for The Container Store.  You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways). I’ll announce the winners on THIS blog post and contact them directly through email, as always. Good luck!

*** GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED ***

Congrats to the winners of the TCS Gift Card Giveaway!

The Poll Results for *Which part of TCS do you like best?* out of 1847 entries:

Office (640) 35%
Closet (437) 24%
Kitchen (417) 23%
Travel (248) 13%
Collections (67) 4%
Gifts (38) 2%

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties. If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

I hope you enjoyed this look inside the gorgeous new Oak Brook The Container Store!  Many thanks to the lovely folks over at TCS for inviting me to these events and for providing the prizes.  I am so happy I am finally able to share a look at one of my favorite places and my go-to store for all of my organization supplies.  Happy Organizing! :)

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

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