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Homefries University


High Straightenence by Tracy Benjamin

A weekly column celebrating the neat freak in all of us.


I’m tackling my Organization Goals 2012 list!  I’m starting with this item:




Let’s get started! This is my fantastic Kelly Moore purse/camera bag that I’ve been using over 6 months (that’s a long time for me!).  What I like about this purse is that it has PLENTY of pockets. I always like that in a purse; it draws me in! The problem is…there might be TOO many pockets!  Crazy, right?Because I never set guidelines for myself of what goes into each pocket, I lose things CONSTANTLY. Quick! Ask me where my cellphone is! I couldn’t tell you. Oh wait…it’s prolly at the bottom of my bag because I’m too lazy to put it in the same compartment EVERY TIME.

Not only am I going to clean out my purse today, I’m going to give myself some rules for organizing!

Watch me.

I started by dumping out the contents of my purse on my coffee table and SORTING.

This is basically what I’ve been carrying around with me. Looks like a junk pile, huh?

We start with the paper…I kinda let it get out of hand lately. It’s because I’m in too much of a hurry when I’m leaving stores.

I just JAM the receipt in my bag instead of thoughtfully taking care of it.

In the process I figured out that I only need one receipt. Look at all that paper going to recycling!

Then I took care of the rogue change & that little stack of moola in my purse.

Fact: Wallet organizing is one of my favorite things to do.

Strange, huh?

In the process I uncovered a pocket full of jewelry! Leftovers from traveling a few weeks ago, buh-bye!

Hmmm. These two things sure don’t belong…

Ahhh makeup! In reality, I should only carry like one lip gloss but I CAN’T HELP but carry like 5.

I’m a girl!

I decided what my essentials are for my makeup bag and I’m sticking to it:

Perfume, lotion, lip stuff, hair clips, toothpicks, tweezers & a nail file. Must add my compact w/mirror in there!

Out of the makeup-y stuff I got rid of this. Oh and teabags! Why do I have those in there?

After all my sorting, I put together a visual list of all my essentials!

I also decided to put it in writing. GAME PLAN:

Then I gave myself a foundation for pocket usage:

Oh! One more thing. This is my pro tip! I always buy purses that have rings on the straps so I can attach my keys with a Carabiner Hook.

It means I never have to worry about losing my keys somewhere in my bag.

The trick is that you have to HOOK it onto your purse! Sometimes I forget to do that. I don’t like it when that happens.

So that’s it. I cleaned out my purse.

I hope to spend about 15 minutes a week (prolly during Sunday night TV time) cleaning out my bag.


Wish me luck!

Tracy Benjamin

Tracy Benjamin is obsessed with good food, great photography, and pretty things.


  • Laurie February 1, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Tracy dear, I read Shutterbean and follow your pins and listen to you and Joy on the podcast and now read High Straightenence and yadda yadda yadda. I’ve never had a chance to comment before (I’m usually in my car or otherwise unable to), but I MUST know…what typeface do you use in your HS photos? I love it and want to know if it’s already in my font collection!

  • Jessica @ The Desert Abode February 1, 2012 at 7:24 am

    The shallots are too funny!

    I have the opposite problem in that my purse is too tiny and doesn’t have enough pockets. Time for a bigger purse…

  • Jennifer February 1, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Can you explain the shallots?

  • priest's wife February 1, 2012 at 9:47 am

    LOVE THIS! My bag can get bad too- love the idea of the hook- I’m going to copy that…

    today I found out that milk from a sippy cup dripped into my wallet and now it is MOLDY! :( So- the wallet is getting tossed- luckily, the purse is ok

  • Andrea February 1, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Once I had a lobster pick in my purse mayhem. Also a TI-85 calculator, cuticle remover, and an assortment of gum packs (all started but never finished). I look at your shallots and I feel that we are kindred purse spirits.

  • Lisa February 1, 2012 at 10:51 am

    i do the exact same things with my keys! it makes it easy to grab when a 6-year-old is demanding all the attention that my very few brain cells can spare. i also use the back belt loop on my jeans/slacks for the same purpose … that way my keys are always on my but out of my way!

    some other random things that i keep stocked: 5 crayons, band aids, 2 pairs of sunglasses, sunblock for lips and noses, and the ipod loaded with playlists and podcasts for little ones …

  • bonnie @ {PaperKeeper} February 1, 2012 at 11:04 am

    OMG – that is so funny! I do the same thing, except I have to admit I have never had a shallot in my purse, but right now there is a tangerine in there! And at one point a banana. I have the same affection for the ring on the purse and have been using the ring/carabiner combo for my keys for years…I’d be lost without that. Your candid look into your purse is humorous but in that Seinfeld-we-can-all relate kind of way! Thanks :)

  • Julie @BananasForBourbon February 1, 2012 at 11:11 am

    Oh thank goodness I’m not the only one with shallots in my purse! Ha! Kidding. I do have a travel pack of granola for snack attacks. Low blood sugar Julie is not a fun Julie.

    I am glad I’m not the only one with crazy receipts littering my purse. I am SO guilty of that too. I love that purse! I might need to get my own. :)

  • Julie @Savvy Eats February 1, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I just cleaned out both of my purses this weekend (one small, one that holds everything when i need it to) and am DETERMINED to keep them that way!

  • Megan February 1, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Way to be organized man! Your purse is probably feeling pretty good about itself right about now. <3

  • Liz February 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    The shallots in your purse had me laughing so hard I almost fell off my chair! Instantly made me think of the Because Show episode where Jerilyn admitted to carrying a baked sweet potato wrapped in saran wrap in her purse!

    Love love love your organizing posts, they really appeal to the neat freak in me!

  • Amanda Barkey February 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    you had shallots in your purse! bahahaha lol-ing over here!

  • Dottie February 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    OK, as if I didn’t love you enough, then I read this post. SHALLOTS! Crushing on yer bag too. LOVE!

  • Anne February 1, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    The carabiner blew my mind a little, now that’s a pro tip! Best food item I kept in my purse for a few months was a can of baking powder (my friend never had any when I went to bake at her house). As for your purse- ever since you posted about them I’ve been dying to get one..SO FREAKING CUTE!!

  • sweetmaddy February 2, 2012 at 2:49 am

    Looks like my purse! I just LOVE reading these posts, it makes me feel so relaxed by the end knowing SOMETHING int he world is organized, even if it’s not my own stuff. :)

  • ChasingOm February 2, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Must. get. Kelly. Moore. bag.

    Preferably in a bright color. Or gray.

  • Cho February 2, 2012 at 8:37 am

    I have the Mentha 2X lip gloss too! Except mine feels chunky and doesn’t smell minty. Is there something wrong with mine?

  • Victoria February 2, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Love that you carry a little notebook! I’ve really got to get a couple to keep around to jot down lists, recipes, ideas, etc….I saw your post about the minted journals and they’re cute. Where did that little black notebook you have in your purse come from?

  • Caitlin February 2, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I love a good carabiner hook for my keys! No other way to go. Without it, I would lose my keys all the time.. (and actually used to more than I would like to admit). And my purse has the necessary hook for it. Also, I find cleaning out my wallet of old receipts to be sort of fun, too.. it reminds me of places I’ve been recently I guess.

  • I love lists, Friday! › shutterbean February 3, 2012 at 12:02 am

    [...] While you're over at Homefries, check out this week's High Straightenence! I totally ORGANIZED: MY PURSE! [...]

  • Meki February 3, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Oh my. I need some organizing too.

  • Nicki Woo February 3, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I meant to tell you this earlier this week when I actually read this post, but while I was super excited for you and your organized purse, and while it Yes! made me want to clean out my purse, it made me want to BUY a new purse. One that I saw a few days earlier and didn’t buy. So much so, that as I longingly gandered at your pockety lovely gray bag, I was moved to go get that purse I almost forgot I loved. So I swiftly moved my romp from desk chair to drivers seat and drove my hiney to buy that purse.

    With two year old in tow.
    And now I have it.
    And all my stuff is in it. Organized.
    I know I’ve said this before. But jeez louise. You change lives. My life at least.

    fyi- if you want to see my new purse there is a pic of it towards the bottom of this post

  • sarah February 4, 2012 at 6:00 am

    sugar lychee by fresh has been my scent for years. it is the perfect perfume! good nose lady

  • Ashley February 4, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Love this Tracy! I have to know where you got your wallet and makeup bag? I LOVE the color.

  • Tiffanie February 8, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Love the shallots!

    I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I would love to keep a purse like this and feel all womanly-like, but I have gotten into the habit of emptying my bag of my wallet, glasses, keys, phone, lipstick, diapers and wipes every night and refilling it or a new bag with the same items the next morning before leaving the house. I think I was traumatized or something earlier in life by losing something due to a crazy-full purse and now I do this emptying every night to make up for it!

  • L Squared February 20, 2012 at 6:08 pm


    What great inspiration. Did it and blogged about it! Nothing as exciting as shallots, but still felt good.

  • shenise March 11, 2012 at 6:18 am

    I have the same issue with my bag. It’s nice to see I am not the only one!

    • Tracy March 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Thank you for your comment! You just reminded me that I have to go through my purse AGAIN!!! It’s a viscous cycle!

  • Asian Slaw w/ Wasabi Soy Dressing – Shutterbean January 29, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    [...] it therapeutic to cut things into matchsticks & line them up into nice little piles? Do you also love going through your purse and organizing all the pockets? Really?! We’re gonna get along just [...]