How To… prepare a makeup kit.

This post is the last in my “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V and Part VI at these links.

Ending on something a little lighter for my seventh and final kit: makeup. Again, another one for the girls, but also an idea for a gift!

1: The Bag.

Most people’s makeup bags are too big with too few compartments or too small. Instead, look for something about the size of a pressure cooker pot, a 2l jug or an xBox360, with two or three compartments to it. This should be enough. If you’re an avid collector of makeup, try and keep various kits this size rather than one larger one, as it will keep everything more organized.

2: The Basics.

These are your minimalist makeup products. The two, three or four things you absolutely won’t go without. Keep them all together in a small section or their own pouch.

My basics:

-brown eyeliner

-black mascara

-concealer

-tinted lip gloss

3: The Specials.

These are things you actually use, but not all that often. Fancy dress, dressing fancy or to swap with your basics when you fancy a change. Anything you don’t use daily can be considered here. Anything you don’t use weekly absolutely belongs here. Keep them organized in a larger section of your bag where they can be accessed easily but kept away from your regular use items.

For specials, I would suggest an assortment of makeup with a bias towards makeup that enhances your best asset, all in good colours for you.

-eyeshadow collection in at least 5 colours that look good on you

-a couple of lipsticks that look bold and attractive against your skin

-blushes and countouring in your colours

-something unbelievably sparkly

4: The Applicators and Tools.

The stuff you use to put the makeup on and get your face neatened up. There are thousands of reasons to keep them separate from your main makeup, but the primary one is hygiene. These tools will be in contact with your face every day until they are replaced. You need to keep them clean, keep clean tools away from makeup and not let them come in contact with face cleaning equipment, unless you want to damage brushes or get deep pore cleanser in your eye through your lash curler!

I haven’t had a need for much more than this, but I’m not into heavy makeup most of the time. Add a special applicator for every item you wear regularly!

-large brush for coverage

-smaller brush for bursts of colour

-fan brush for eyeshadow control

-thin applicator for eyeshadow control

-sponges for dabbing and blurring

-lash curlers

-tweezers

-small scissors

5: The Cleaning.

And when you need to make a few corrections or get everything off, these come in handy. These occupy the main area of your bag, seeing as they’re large and best kept handy. You will also want to keep tools for cleaning your brushes and applicators.

6: The Nails.

Nail-care materials are often spread around the house, but it’s worthwhile to keep a set in your makeup bag that never strays from there.

-clippers

-scissors

-nail files

-fake nails and glue

-nail polishes

-nail polish remover

-nail moisturizer

7: The Travel Bag.

Something you can grab and throw your favourite makeup into. You’d take your whole kit with you if you were going somewhere for a week or more, but this is more for an evening or a couple of days.

It needs to have two main compartments: day and night. Maybe a third for interchangeable items. Each will have a makeup combination that covers all the sorts of makeup you wear, but only for one set. So an example would be:

Day: deep beige eye shadow, tinted lip gloss, brown eyeliner.

Night: dark green shiny eyeshadow, red lipstick, darker eyeliner.

Both: concealer, mascara, wipes.

And that is how I would put together a makeup kit!

I’m open to any further suggestions for kits to make and will, if asked nicely, put together some visuals of the kits I use, what’s in them and how to pack them for easy everyday use.

So go ahead and tell me about everyday situations, emergencies or clutter that you really think need a kit. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… prepare a “ladies’ kit”.

This post will discuss menstrual matters. Most men may not need to read this or feel comfortable reading it. However, if you are a woman, have daughters or just want to take care of someone who’s having a hard time this month, then the language will be kept polite and clear.

This is part VI of my ongoing “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V at these links.

1: The bag.

You will be wanting something discreet, that can absorb odors (such as those from scented sanitary pads, creams or medication) and preferably that looks pretty. I chose a single compartment make-up bag for mine. It’s black, so any lotion or medicine spills won’t show and it absorbs and masks light smells quite well, though a lavender pouch is never superfluous.

2: The essentials.

Obviously, if this kit is a menstrual kit, you will need your basics. Also, if you’re making the kit for yourself, try and be sure to have your closer friends’ preferred basics as well, and some emergency items in case your usual items run out, break or just aren’t cutting it. I use a cup, but I still keep the following for emergencies.

-spare black underwear (because it always seems to be in the laundry when you need it most)

-pads

-tampons

-slips

-sanitary disposal bags

-cleaning equipment for reusable items

3: Extra hygiene.

Regardless of how much you want it to be, this time of the month can get messy. Other basics you could use are:

-a sponge for cleaning external porcelain stains

-well-sealed baby wipes that will treat you more delicately then the usuals

-flannels you can use with warm water for your hands

-some baby shampoo and peroxide in case of emergency stain treatment

4: The medicals.

And some of us need the odd medical treatment from time to time over that time of the month. If you do, keep the medicine in the bag, so you know where it is, and check the expiry date at the end of every month, as many of these medications expire before you’ve had a chance to use them all!

Some that everyone could do with:

-mild aspirin-free painkiller like paracetamol (aspirin is a blood-thinner and is found in ibuprofen, fyi)

-iron supplements

-st john’s wort (check for incompatibilities with underlying conditions or current medication first)

-anti-fungal gel

5: The comforts.

I don’t like treating a natural state of my body as an illness. But, on the other hand, if you can do little things to care for yourself the rest of the time, why not adapt to whatever state your body is in? Here are some things to make everything a little bit nicer, even if they aren’t 100% essential.

-rash creams to ease any stuffiness-based swelling

-a hot water bottle for aches or just because it’s nice

-a small toy to cuddle if you feel the urge

-a bag of your favourite sweets (keep outside of main bag, but nearby)

How To… prepare a travel kit.

So we’ve looked at how to plan for all sorts of unplanned things and be prepared just in case. But what about planned things? Well, it can help to make a kit for them too! You can craft kits for various situations that, however much we try and think, we always wind up forgetting something.

This is the travel kit. Because we all need to get on a bus, train or plane once in a while, or drive across a country, and there’s always something we wish we’d brought along. After a few trips like this it’s easy to get into the swing of things, so this kit is more for beginners and as a refresher for rusty travelers.

This is part V of my ongoing “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV at these links.

1: The bags.

Yes, plural.

The right bags are very important for travel and your travel kits are no less important. You will ideally need one bag per traveler to keep you going until you reach your destination. The size will depend on the trip, but a small backpack each is ideal. It will be equivalent to a carry-on so everyone has whatever they need, but so it’s transportable too.

2: The kids.

Children’s needs are different to those of adults, so there are some contents that their travel packs will need to contain that yours may not. Some of these may seem obvious, especially to parents, but it’s worth creating your own checklist to ensure that you aren’t missing anything.

-favourite toy

-something they can do for hours (sketching materials, makeup set, games console, book)

-boiled sweets and antacid chewies for travel sickness

-a book of non-annoying travel games and songs

-change of shirt in case of sickness

In terms of toys, crafts and the likes, rule of thumb one is they can only bring things with parts that wouldn’t fit in a tablespoon. This way things are less likely to get lost and sets are less likely to be ruined. Rule of thumb two is they can only bring as much entertainment as they can comfortably carry in both hands. If they need to wrap their arms around it, get a plastic bag or ask you to carry it, it’s too much and may cause trouble.

3: The entertainment.

Everyone needs to be distracted at some point during a long journey, not just the kids. But we can’t exactly keep ourselves busy with a stuffed panda and eye glitter for three or four hours, especially not in the case of the driver.

For passengers:

-a book

-an audio device with music you can listen to over and over

-a notepad and a few pens

-a device you can watch a film on

-knitting or sewing

4: The snacks.

Unless you’re fasting, you may get hungry over the trip. Even when entertained, you can get bored and boredom often leads to hunger. Be sure to pack some healthy snacks to keep you going.

-fruit that isn’t easily squished

-crunchy vegetable sticks

-flapjacks

-fruit leather

-jerkey

-Nakd bars

-bottled water

5: The stops.

Make sure you are ready for any stops you have to make. Bring anything you may need in the event of a stop.

-your own toilet paper

-soap (hotel bodywash bottles are perfect) or sanitizer

-change for snacks, fuel or souvenirs

-small makeup kit

-roadmaps

6: The emergencies.

For when something actually goes wrong.

You should probably have your mini first aid kit and car breakdown book with you, but these things are also worth having close at hand.

-spare phone chargers you can use in the car or at stops

-a phonebook with names of your emergency contacts

-a spare set of car keys

And that should be all you need to pack in your travel kits.

What do you always forget when you’re traveling? I always forget earphones and chargers! Be sure to share your anecdotes and advice in the comments. 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… prepare a car kit.

An overlooked part of housekeeping is car keeping. Most housekeepers, be they bachelors and bachelorettes, housewives or househusbands, will run a car. Even if they don’t, there’s a high probability that someone else in the household owns and runs a car. However we tend to view the car maintenance and care as a separate thing to the household, the exclusive property and duty of the owner, rather than a shared commodity and space that needs to be kept in order.

Just as a housekeeper may clean their partner’s office or help them tidy up the gym after a workout, a housekeeper can help with the maintenance of the car by providing a kit that the driver can keep in the boot in case they need anything in particular.

If you are not the main driver, make sure to speak with the car owner about what they use in their car, what they would like to have and what they find themselves running out of. Feel free to make suggestions once they are done to ensure that everything has been accounted for, but don’t push anything on them they may not find useful. That said, here are my suggestions.

This is part IV of my ongoing “housekeeper’s kits” series. Part I, Part II and Part III at these links.

1: The bag.

I would say something heavy duty. Compartments aren’t essential as long as everything that stains or smells is well-sealed, which it should be anyway. A plastic tote bag, that has strong handles, can be easily moved from car to car and that you only need to glance into to see what you have, is ideal.

2: The cleaning products.

Cars need to be cleaned. All sorts of spills happen in them, dirt gets trodden in and the usual dust accumulates. So having some cleaning products in the car is useful.

My suggestions:

-sick bags

carpet cleaner

leather cleaner

-window cleaner and sponge

air freshener

-de-icer (lemon and vinegar water is fine)

3: The paintwork.

Paintwork can be chipped or damaged. Previously damaged paintwork or paint on older cars needs attention for possible rust damage and fading.

My suggestions:

car-suitable rust remover

file for paint

straight-to-rust hammerite

straight-to-rust spray paint in the right colour

4: The patching.

All cars start accumulating damage eventually. Everything from chipped mirrors to torn seats. To keep on top of it, keep a patching kit in your car kit.

-needle and tapestry thread

-vaseline

duct tape

WD-40

-super glue

5: The repair.

Sometimes something serious will happen to the car. You will at least need the tools to make it safe again, if not to fix it up yourself where possible.

My suggestions:

-spare wheel, wheel bolt spanner and car jack

allen keys

-gloves for handling electrics

-spare fuses and bulbs

fob batteries and screwdrivers

6: The topups.

These are things your car consumes that you normally top up at the garage or when home. But sometimes they run out in unexpected locations or at inconvenient times. Having an emergency refill can save you.

My suggestions:

-parking money

-fuel jerrycan

-windscreen fluid

-bottle of water

-oil

Keep an eye on your oil and fuel. They can expire after a while in a jerry can or bottle, so make sure they look healthy and from time to time refuel out of your jerry can and refill it, to keep the jerry can fuel fresh.

7: Breakdown safety.

These are things to keep you safe in case of a breakdown or accident on the road.

-two cones

-high-vis jacket

-pocket torch

8: Relevant documents.

You may not always have all your documents with you. But try and keep a photocopy of your driver’s license and tax papers, or at least the relevant reference numbers, somewhere on the car at all times, just in case you need them.

And those are my suggestions for a car kit that will never leave you or your loved ones stranded!

What additions would you suggest? Anything that you really wish you’d had at a certain point? Anything you say in the comments will be added to the kit!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

7 Handbag Essentials for the Recent Acquirer of a Handbag.

I am only just getting used to using handbags. You see, when I was younger in Spain, they were just fashion accessories. A girl had her satchel or backpack for school that also housed all her essentials and could be emptied out into a messy pile on the bed to reuse for girlscouts, going to a friend’s house or a picnic. Handbags were often put in backpacks or carried alongside your main bag. Sometimes they would complete an outfit on their own, but they were still tiny and had little to nothing in them. Being one of the “unfashionable” girls I, of course, had to be contrary and ignore them entirely, favouring the punk look of a tatty, drawn on, stickered backpack that I dragged with me everywhere. After all, if handbags were impractical accessories, I’d darn well not ever own one.

Another breed entirely was the “mummy handbag”. Always medium to large in size and still with T.A.R.D.I.S. properties that made us fairly certain there was everything down to a spare kitchen sink in there. They were often messy inside and, because they were big and not particularly decorative, few girls aspired to owning one. But whether we were tiny handbag connoisseurs or the rebel wild kids, we would hold a certain awe and respect for mummy handbags.

Coming to England, I discovered that mummy handbags are less for mums and more for everyone. They came in many attractive shapes and sizes. Ten year old girls even went to school with handbags instead of backpacks if they were lucky and the dress code allowed. A completely different culture.

Nevertheless, I was reluctant to adopt this alien behaviour. From age sixteen to age eighteen I clung onto my backpacks for school, work, shopping, everything. From age eighteen I adopted satchels and laptop carriers for uni and a huge rucksack for shopping and traveling. When Jon and I moved in together I stuck to an amorphous, heavy bag affectionately known as the “potato sack” for errands and my well worn, well loved leather satchel for work. I was handbag-phobic.

However I did somehow manage to accumulate some. Five, to be precise. A tiny leather one my grandmother owned. A fake leather purse of a similar size. A black and white handbag for going to fancy places. A tattier grey fabric one with fake leather features. And a suede patchwork one with a gazillion pockets. And somehow, their presence corrupted me. I found myself looking at my outfit for the day and wondering whether it was ruined by the giant rucksack I was carrying. And it often was. Because giant rucksacks, contrary to prior belief, do not go with everything.

But I’ve got very used to my giant rucksacks and all their practicalities. So, in the spirit of becoming more feminine, not ruining my look with a giant rucksack, actually putting my handbags to some use and keeping them as a practical item rather than an accessory, I worked out how to get started growing my very own organic mummy handbag. Now, be warned, these are merely the seedlings for your mummy handbag. They may seem like only a few things, but they will gradually grow and expand and fill the entire bag, causing the T.A.R.D.I.S. effect. This will happen naturally, without encouragement and often without your noticing until you start finding forks and small galaxies in there. Regular cutting back of your mummy handbag is required to keep it in good health.

1. The beauty kit.

If we’re talking about handbags as not just a bag to drop things in, but a feminine alternative to rucksacks and plastic bags, then we can’t neglect our beauty. After all, a nice outfit with a nice bag and messy hair and makeup looks as out of place as the same outfit with good hair and makeup and a giant rucksack.

So something to keep around is a beauty kit for light topups. What you’ll keep in it will of course vary based on what you wear. But as the trick of a mummy handbag is to have everything you might need ready to grab, the best idea is to keep a spare of every item you wear regularly and the sorts of things you might wear. Seeing as my makeup bag is very small and my handbag preference is medium, I can often just drop my makeup bag into my handbag, but you will need to keep smaller amounts of spares for smaller bags of if you use many different products.

Suggestions:

-Top ups for lips, eyes and concealer.

-Baby wipes.

-Small nail kit with scissors, file and clippers.

-Hairbrush or comb and dry shampoo can.

2. The first aid kit.

An essential to making the mummy handbag seem like magic. A well-stocked tiny first aid kit, prepared for all sorts of minor accidents and some major ones. A lot of the beauty kit can be reused here: wipes, cotton balls, clean nail scissors, etc. But the first aid kit needs to be kept separate and prepared for all sorts of common problems.

Imagine you’re not just trying to be ready for yourself, but for your friends or any passing stranger who may ask for a plaster or a throat soother.

Suggestions:

-Plasters of various shapes and sizes.

-Antiseptic.

-Cough pills/sweets/mints.

-Pads for blistered or corned feet.

-Sanitary products.

-Mild painkillers.

-Bandaging and sterile needle set.

3. The pens and paper.

In theory you should only ever need your phone for taking notes and writing down contact details. In reality, your phone relies on an often very limited battery, your notes can be lost at the touch of a button and not everywhere has pens and paper, even when they probably should.

To be prepared for everything you need a small assortment of pens and paper, preferably in a tiny folder or binder that fits neatly away into a single compartment of your handbag.

Suggestions:

-Four pens: two in black and two coloured.

-A reporter’s notepad.

-Post-it notes.

-An address book.

4. The charger supply.

Everyone needs chargers. We have phones, kindles, notebook computers and all sorts that we carry around with us. And we are mysteriously bad at remembering to charge all of them, all of the time. Even someone who’s normally quite good at remembering can have a bad day. So you need a supply of chargers.

Your options are two.

1:

-A multicharger.

-A smaller laptop charger.

-A power pack.

2:

-A USB plug. This is basically like any plug you us, except where the wire is meant to come out, there’s a USB port.

-Assorted USB chargers. These come in 2″ versions, so they don’t have to be full wires.

5. The wallet.

Everyone needs a good wallet. Even if it’s in the card compartment of your bag and not an actual, separate wallet. A good wallet contains various sources of real money, not many credit cards (to discourage overuse), any sources of discounts, any necessary ID, etc.

This is basically going to be everything you need if you are shopping, just stop somewhere and want something, need to show ID for any reason or want to donate your change.

Suggestions:

-A coin purse.

-Around £20 in notes and large coins.

-Debit cards.

-A credit card.

-Gift cards.

-Reward scheme cards.

-In-date coupons and vouchers organized by date.

-ID cards.

6. The “just in” case.

Yes, that was a terrible pun. This is a small case, bag, purse or section of your handbag that you use for emergency items. Pretty much anything you often find yourself looking for or lacking when you need it. What they are depends on who you are, who you’re often with and what you’re doing.

My bag:

-A tightly folded large carrier bag for shopping.

-Candy for students I may encounter.

-Matches.

-A Nakd bar for hunger.

7. The entertainment centre.

For when you or whoever you’re with are unexpectedly bored. These are things to fill the spare minutes at work, to keep you busy waiting for the bus or to keep your kids quiet in the back of the car.

Your entertainment centre needs to have a variety of forms of entertainment for everyone you may need to distract. I largely need just to distract myself, but you may need to consider your partner, children or friends. Good ideas are travel games you can fold away and move or arts and crafts.

My bag:

-Current sewing project.

-Small artists pad and charcoal.

-Travel chequers.

-Headphones for my phone.

And those are my suggestions for starting your own all-eventualities-covered mummy handbag.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What is in your handbag? Why do you carry certain things? What situations do you like to be covered for?