Archive | June, 2011

The deets on Italy

23 Jun

What:  I’m going to Italy!

Who: Me, no long flights for Lincoln. Luckily, I will be staying with the parental units then so I have a dog sitter for free!

When: In September for two weeks

Where:  I’ll be flying out of Fort Lauderdale connecting in Philly then flying into Venice. And can I just say I love the idea of flying into an airport named Marco Polo? I will definitely have my valium on hand for the flight since this will be my longest flight ever.

 

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Why: Why not? I doubt I will have the opportunity to go and not have to worry about getting time off from work or worrying about work while away.

How: I’m sure some of you are wondering how I am going to Italy if I’m unemployed. This is actually a once in a lifetime thing since my flight and lodging are basically free. My sorority sisters husband is in the Air Force and got stationed in Italy in the past year. She is still in the US and will be moving there at the end of August, along with her two dogs and I believe they will be there for two years. So I have a free place to stay and  I will definitely be bringing her American goodies and cooking and cleaning in exchange for free board!

As for the flight, thanks to my US Airways Dividend Miles, it’s pretty much a free trip. All I had to pay was $100 for taxes and I still have some miles leftover to use towards my next free trip! I would love to stay for longer than two weeks but didn’t want to overstay my welcome and my best friends 30th birthday is at the end of September. She is having a party in Phoenix and I will not miss it! So September will be a traveling month for me.

We have some side trips planned when I get there, this is what we are thinking so far:

Milan

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Verona

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Florence

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Slovenia

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Croatia

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I am fine with going anywhere but Florence and Croatia are my must visits. I’ve wanted to visit Florence ever since I was a little kid. I remember reading geography books (yes, I was a dork) and looking at the cities of Europe and Florence’s architecture always stood out to me. Add art, history, wine, gelato and men to the mix and I’m game! My grandmother was originally from Croatia and came over to the US in her teens so it will be terrific to see yet another part of my heritage. After Italy and Croatia, I just need to make my way to Poland.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have any fun, summer trips planned?

How do you occupy yourself on a long flight? What’s the longest you’ve been on a plane?

A good start to the week

21 Jun

Mondays are blah. But I had a good start to the week

*Went to Lowe’s

*Was amazed by how many hot men are there are 9am

*And how many hot men work there. Perhaps I should go to Lowe’s more often?

*Went to Dunkin to get my free Wifi on.

*Was disappointed since it wasn’t working and I just spent $1.08 on an iced coffee

*Asked the DD employee if something was wrong with the Wifi, she said “No, it’s working” and pointed over at a guy and said “See, he is on” I looked over and replied “Ummm, he isn’t even on a computer”!”

*Thought I was being punk’d and decided to leave

*Wondered if Punk’d is still on? Probably not with Ashton going to Two and a Half Men

*Thought about what my favorite Demi Moore movie is, still going with One Crazy Summer

*Went to old faithful, Starbucks, to get my free wifi on.

*Met up with a friend for lunch at Table 274, a new restaurant in Cotswold.

Like I would actually pay full price for a meal!

I’ve been curious about this place since it opened a few months ago but heard mixed reviews. I figured I would wait a couple of months to check it out so they could work out their kinks. Because they are working out their kinks and what works and what doesn’t solely for me.

I ordered the Roasted Vegetable Wrap-Roasted artichoke and tomato, sautéed mushroom, goat cheese and arugula

All of that for only $7! The wrap was tasty as is anything with goat cheese. But I was expecting it to be hmmmm….not soggy. The inside was good but a tortilla was definitely not the ideal way to hold it together. It would have been better on a pita or focaccia, something to hold it better together because it started falling apart after awhile. The sweet potato chips were a bit of a disappointment, most of them were limp and soggy. But then when sifting through them, I would find a good, fresh one in the mix.

*Visited my second Starbucks of the day. Apparently, I will pay full price for the Bucks

*Wondered what David Lee Roth is up to these days

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*Didn’t bother to look, somehow I was assured that he is alive and well

*Went on a mile and a half walk with Lincoln. There were a few minutes were I didn’t think he was going to make it since he was dragging and panting in search of shade and water.

*Noshed on leftover tacos but this time added some Spicy Wholly Guacamole to them, always a welcome addition.

*Flipped through magazines and went to bed by 10pm. I don’t feel like I did that much but I was ready to crash.

Oh I left out one major thing I did on Monday:

Booked a trip to Italy!

Like you even have to guess what the question of the day is…..

Have you ever been to Italy?

PS, I miss you.

20 Jun

Sunday was the day that wouldn’t end. Maybe because I woke up at 6am and didn’t go to bed until 1am that night or the fact that we are approaching June 21st.

I don’t know why I woke up so early. I was tired the night before so I thought I was going to sleep in late on Sunday. I was up until 1 or 2 the night before but not due to anything crazy

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Well not too crazy. Just something Samantha Who? I completely forgot about this show but used to watch it religiously when it was on. There *poof* one day it was canceled like a lot of the witty shows out there. Ok, maybe not as witty as Arrested Development (RIP I miss you) but I always got a kick out of it and loved the cast. After watching it for a few hours (on a Saturday night because that is how I roll), I realized how much I miss it. It’s great to be able to watch all the episodes on Netflix.

I went to Starbucks for three hours in the morning to catch up on emails, blogs, internship, etc. It was weird for a Sunday morning because of Father’s Day. when I first walked in, I was amazed at how serene it was but then hoards of family with misbehaved children would come in then again, it would empty out. Then this one obnoxious family came in to meet another family. The mother was looking around in amazing and shouting “WOW, IT’S SO QUIET IN HEEEERRRRREEEE!” I wanted to claw her eyes out because of her volume and because of the irony. Homegirl would not shut up and I pondered the thought of going to say something. But then I didn’t want to be the one who ruined Father’s Day for their family, because I am nice like that.

I came home, took Lincoln for a mile walk then went to the gym.  I was hoping the gym would be dead but it was like a normal Sunday on crack. I really wasn’t in the mood to do anything so I did 13 minutes on the Precor AMT, 17 minutes on the bike then did upper body:

*Shoulder Press (12.5 lbs 13 reps x 3 sets)

*Reverse Fly (12.5 lbs 13 reps x 2 sets)

*Row (12.5 lbs 13 reps x 3 sets)

*Front deltoid lift (12.5 lbs 13 reps x 3 sets)

*Fly (20 lbs 13 reps x 2 sets)

*Chest Press Fly (20 lbs 13 reps x 2 sets)

*Compound Row (80 lbs 13 reps x 3 sets)

*Lateral Pulldown (65 lbs 13 reps x 3 sets)

By the time I got home I was so hungry but didn’t know what I was in the mood for. I’ve been craving noodles lately so I made spaghetti with spray butter, garlic, red pepper flakes and grated parmesan.

How is it that something so simple can taste so good? I measured out my spaghetti portion and this is a single portion. I could have had two more bowls and been happy.

And more packing, I won’t even spare you all the details. I’m going to Atlanta on Wednesday or Thursday for a night sans Lincoln . I’m meeting my parents to give them a bunch of my stuff to take to Florida. Other than that, I’m giving away everything or taking a few boxes and packing up my car once my lease is up on the 30th (less than two weeks left in this place—eeks!) I hate giving everything away but at least I can write it off on my taxes. Also, I wish I had my SUV still so I had more room because a Corolla just ain’t cutting it.

I stopped by Harris Teeter for some produce since I didn’t get a chance to go to the farmers market. They had buy one, get two free blueberries so I stocked up. I figure what I don’t use in the next few days I can freeze (right? I hope so)

 

Then I started dinner. I chopped up a green pepper and half an onion, added drained black beans, garlic and red pepper flakes then warmed up on the stovetop

One thing I forgot? Salsa. Usually a key component in tacos but thanks to my friend Texas Pete, I had the heat on hand.

 

With some fresh dessert afterwards

I completely forgot to announce the winner of my giveaway!

Sophia from Burp and  Slurp—congratulations! Please email me your address—simplyshaka@gmail.com

What show do you wish was still on? For me, it’s definitely Samantha Who?, Arrested Development and  Lost (at least we got some closure with that one)

Rolling with my homies

19 Jun

I tried a new to me Japanese place on Friday night thanks to Living Social

I am so team Groupon by the way. Living Social is alright but they never seem to have as good of deals as Groupon plus I feel like it’s more expensive. I may be a little bitter that I recently had a Living Social deal expire and they didn’t even send me an email letting me know. Groupon always has my back and gives me advance notice that I better use my Groupons or they will expire soon.

Shiki isn’t in my neighborhood so I haven’t heard anything about it. When I looked online, I couldn’t even find a website for them  and there were minimal reviews on the Yelp so I was a wee bit skeptical going there.

For being in a Wal-Mart shopping center, this place was hopping for a Friday night! It looked like it hasn’t been there too long, was clean, had high ceilings and lots of comfy booths. The host sat us and got our drink order at the same time. That’s what I like to see, use of time management skills. I hate when they seat you and you have to wait forever just to get a water so getting everything out of the way is welcome. We each got a glass of wine which was $3.95 each. Talk about cheap! Plus they were very generous with their pours.

We started off with edamame, it was piping hot and my friend asked how to do you eat it. I simply replied “Just bite and suck” which then led me to think of one of my favorite movies of all time: Clueless

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RIP Brittany

When I said “Just bite and suck” it reminded me of the scene at the party where they start playing Suck & Blow and Cher goes off on Elton “God Elton, don’t you know how to suck??” which led me to start humming “Rolling With My Homies”

I would keep going on and on about Clueless since it’s one of the best movies ever.

And anyone who wants to argue with me can go suck it. All I needed to know in life I learned from the movie Clueless.

Plus, it introduced me to Jeremy Sisto. 15 years later and I still love this man.

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Oh yeah, so back to the Shiki, right?

At Shiki, I figured with the hooch being cheap they would mark up the price of their sushi but oh no, this was cheap sushi haven! None of the rolls are over $10 and a majority of them are $5 or $6. They also have traditional Japanese hibachi dishes but I really didn’t even look too much into that since when there is sushi, I’m a girl on a mission.

We had $25 to spend on food so we ordered four rolls. And of course, I don’t remember the names because that would be too easy. But I remember the spicy tuna roll (second from left) and crunchy California roll (second from right)

Why can’t I remember the names?? Argh. The one on the far left was bomb, I think it may have been the Volcano roll?

All of the sushi was wonderful and we walked out of there only having to pay $12 due to the two glasses of wine which wasn’t included. Shiki was a great value! I thought it was going to take longer to get there from the Uptown Charlotte area since I’m spoiled and think anything that’s further than six miles is a long trip.  Also, they have awesome mints-just strong enough to wipe out the taste of wasabi. I would much rather go to Shiki and pay for sushi than go somewhere that’s overpriced where you’re paying more for the atmosphere than the sush. It’s nice being able to hear the person you’re with talking when you’re out for sushi rather than having to yell at them in a clubby atmosphere.

On Saturday, I felt like my day was shot since I had the Salvation Army thrift store coming over to do a large pick up of stuff. And they pulled the whole cable company act like we-will-be-there-between eight and four so I was just sitting around waiting for them. I was paranoid about going anywhere for long because with my luck they would decide to drop by when I left. What also sucked was I got an invite early Saturday morning to go to a restaurants soft opening on Saturday afternoon but couldn’t go because of the pick up.

My friend came over and she had a Groupon to use for Pisces Sushi. I love the sushi but my last experience at Pisces was less than desirable. I was with a big party, the service was horrible, food took forever to get out and when it did, the portions were so little. I swore I wouldn’t go back but when someone has a deal, I am game. Apparently, Saturday afternoon is the time to go to Pisces since there were only four other tables seated.

So stoked I got hygienic chopsticks this time! Now what was I using last time?

We started with the Vegetable Spring Rolls, the dipping sauce that came with it reminded me of Chick Fil A’s Polynesian Sauce but with a kick. I’m totally ok with that.

Xoxo roll on top and Bobcats Roll on the bottom. Both of the rolls were fantastic however the Xoxo roll was out of this world! It’s topped with  grilled scallop and a honey eel mayo sauce. The scallop was grilled to perfection and I don’t even want to know with hot much butter because it literally melted in my mouth.

Filet M roll on top crab crunch roll on the bottom. I’ve never had sushi topped with steak before so this was something new to me. the horseradish on the Filet M roll gave it a little extra zing. I liked it but don’t think I would get it again, the concept of filet on top of sushi was just weird to me (this coming from a hardcore carnivore)

Nothing like some sushi on a Saturday afternoon!

Do you like the movie Clueless? Please don’t answer if you haven’t seen it because I really don’t need help feeling older than I already do.

When dining out-what would you rather pay for, ambience or good food?

 

Frugal Friday-Fill ‘Er Up

17 Jun

Happy frugal friday! With it practically being summer, I think all of us have seen the insane gas prices out there. I remember when I was in high school and could score gas for $.96/gallon. Then it slowly crept it’s way above the $1 mark and when I would drive from FL to WV, I would get excited about going to Georgia since their gas seemed to be under $1 still. I would kill for gas to be that cheap. Here are some tips to save money on gas this summer:

*See if your grocery store has a fuel program

Bi-Lo has their FuelPerks program which gives you $.05 off a gallon of gas for every $50 you spend. It doesn’t sound like a lot but this definitely adds up after awhile plus they run special promotions like Buy $10 worth of Pedigree dog products and get $.10 off of gas. The points don’t expire for months and they have select gas stations where you can redeem your FuelPerks. I looked at my Bi-Lo fuelperks savings and saw that I had $.15 off a gallon of gas and some of that was expiring soon, so it was time to fill up!

I looked up what gas stations I could go to redeem and saw there were some in South Carolina. The border is about ten minutes away and their gas tends to be $.20 cheaper by the gallon so I waited until I was below a quarter of a tank to get the most bang for my buck!

I was starting to get a little nervous since I never let my gas get this low but soon enough, I was at the BP in Fort Mill, SC and it was time to break out my Bi-Lo BonusCard!

Regular gas was $3.45 which is about $.24 cheaper than Charlotte.

I swiped my Bi-Lo card and  filled the tank up to the max to cash in on my FuelPerks.

I hate to spend $34 to fill up my car but I live in a city where I have to drive to get around so if I’m going to fill up, I’m going to try to do so for the least amount possible!

*Walk

If you’re able to, walk to businesses in your area like the grocery store, drug store, restaurants, bars, coffee shops. etc. Not only is this good for your gas tank and wallet, it’s terrific for your health!

I saw this coupon for Einsteins Bagels the other day and decided to walk there instead of driving.

And they ended up giving me a regular bagel, boo Einsteins. Oh well, a coffee and bagel for $2.99 was a decent deal.

*Run all your errands in one trip

I do this to save money on  gas instead of making a trip, coming home, then going out again. This saves money on gas and saves you a lot of time!

*Use A/C only on the highways

I never thought about this but it does make sense. I  don’t like A/C in the car but use it in the summer months for vanity reasons alone. I am not one who deals well with greasy skin and frizzy hair. From Wikihow “At lower speeds, open the windows. This increased the drag and reduces fuel efficiency, but not as much as the AC at low speeds (35-40 mph). Even better, at any speed, turn on the vent when it is cool outside or open windows just a few inches. The air con – when used a lot – is known to use up about 8% of the fuel you put into your car.”

*Ride your public transportation!

I never thought I would be a bus gal but I was for three years. I started riding the bus back in 2007 when gas prices were on the up and up. I moved 20 miles from work and drove an SUV and was not patient with traffic or wasting money on gas just to go to work. My employer at the time has a discount plan with Charlotte Area Transportation where you could get weekly and monthly passes on the cheap. I did this and saved a ton of money (not to mention got in some good people watching time)

*Buy a gas efficient car

I drove an SUV for 10 years but it was eating away at my checking account due to upkeep and gas. I got about 20 miles to the gallon and it was a gas guzzler with a capital G. I traded in my car with the Cash For Clunkers program two summers again and got a more fuel efficient car, a Toyota Corolla. Now, I only fill up every few weeks as opposed to every week when I had an SUV. I like my new car but still kinda miss riding high in my SUV.

*Drive at a more consistent speed

*Replace your air filter

*Decrease your speed when driving on the highway

Oi, I have a problem with this. I have a huge leadfoot and tend to go a good 10-15 miles about the speed limit when traveling. This definitely needs to stop, especially since I am without job and really not in a hurry to be anywhere From Drive Smarter Challenge: “Speeding costs! Gas mileage usually decreases rapidly above 60 mph. Each five miles per hour over 60 mph is like paying an additional 24 cents per gallon for gas.”

What are your tips for saving money on gas?

Stimulating the economy

16 Jun

Hi all! It’s 10:30pm and I am finally getting some down time. My time has been filled with packing and some fun. Shall we?

I was craving bar food like whoa last night. I didn’t want to go out and still need to go through stuff in my fridge so why not make something at home, right? I found a lone container of crescent rolls sitting in my fridge and I couldn’t even remember when I bought them or for what purpose. I’m not the kind of girl who will just buy crescent rolls since I could probably down seven or eight in a sitting and we just don’t need that.

I also had some Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheese and Tyson Grilled & Ready Chicken and there you have the ingredients of dinner.

I sprinkled two crescent rolls with Penzey’s Mural of Flavor then threw in the chicken and cheese and wrapped up

Kinda, I really didn’t have a set plan on how I was going to make these and just tried to get them to stay together as a roll.

I also threw some kale, extra virgin olive oil, pepper and garlic together to make kale chips while that was cooking. They had the same cook time of about 15 minutes so it worked out perfectly.

Complete with some Chick Fil A Fat Free Honey Mustard for dipping. Yum.

Today, I helped boost the economy. I had a thrift store + lunch date with one of a new friend. What’s up with me meeting fabulous people right as I’m about to leave Charlotte? Can we say dislike?

We went to Mac’s Speedshop. Mac’s holds a special place in my heart. Mac’s holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the first restaurants I went to when I first moved to Charlotte and when out of towners ask where they should eat when they visit Charlotte, Mac’s is my answer.


And then when we were looking through the menu (which I just pretend to do since I get the same thing 99% of the time), it hit me that it would be my last time at Mac’s.

Farewell, Little Pig sandwich with a side of mac n cheese. We’ve had some good times together and will miss you dearly.

This is exactly how I want to remember you and your meaty goodness.

When I got home, Lincoln could send that I had some delicious for lunch. Sorry, little dog, no meat for you.

But let’s get back to me stimulating the economy today. I can’t say no to a deal and it all started with Big Lots.

I really don’t need these in the house but for $1, I needed to try these since Almond Joy is one of my all time favorite candies

Like little chocolate and coconut M&M’s….only better. This is what heaven tastes like.

I found some other good deals:

Can you tell I’m a wee bit obsessed with this anti aging stuff?

We went to Value Village to find some new threads. I am well aware I’m trying to get rid of stuff but I wanted to get a few skirts since it’s starting to get steamy out and if I’m going to get some skirts, it’s going to be at the VV.

$2.50. I love the pocket in the front and the inside is a sweatshirt like material!

This purse? Ok, well, it’s probably a bag but I deemed it my new summer purse, only $1.61! I didn’t even find this on my own, I walking to the cash register and saw this in a ladies shopping cart. I ooooohhhhed and ahhhhhhed when I saw it and pet it (because that’s the weird thing I do with purses) and she told me I could have it. I asked her four or five times if she was sure and she insisted so I did a happy dance and  walked away as quickly as I could before she changed her mind.

$1.50

$3.50

I’m not a let’s wear a white visor kind of girl but for $1, I definitely get down with it. Plus it will be good to wear on afternoon walks with the Linx so I can get that evil sunlight away from my face.

Now to my two favorite finds of the day:

Do I need brown and orange plaid trimmed shoes? No but they were only $3.50 and went perfectly with a dress I soon found after, also for only $3.50

I can’t wait to rock my $7 outfit!

What kind of moisturizer do you use?
What’s your favorite restaurant of all time—give me details!

Oh, if you are looking for some clothes or other goods, check out my ebay page. I’m selling some of my coworkers clothes and getting rid of other stuff.

Whatcha gonna do with all that junk?

15 Jun

Happy hump day humpers! This week has flown by, with packing, tying up loose ends and getting together with friends. I say this every single time that I move, this will be my last move. And it never is and I have a feeling it’s not going to stop anytime soon so I better get used to the smell of boxes and moving tape.

And can I just say you all rock? Thanks for all the words of encouragement and support on my last post, it is much appreciated and each comment made me smile and reminded me why I love the blogging community. Teardrop.

On Monday, I had a bunch of errands to do before meeting a friend for lunch. But before I left, I set an easy meal in the crock pot. It only had four ingredients:

Along with half a chopped onion. I set at low and let cook for eight hours

However I forgot that I was going for Mexican food for lunch so it was going to be Mexican food twice in one day. Awesome way to start the week if you ask me! I met my friend at this restaurant called Casa Grande in a sketchy strip mall, like the kind that has a laundromat and check cashing. Thank God we went for lunch because god only knows what it would have been like during night time. Casa Grande was authentic, like menus all in spanish with no english whatsoever and no pictures authentic. I took four years of spanish and grew up in South Florida so I like to think I can get by with my espanol skills. I can understand it somewhat and read but speaking spanish doesn’t work with me. For those who know me or have talked with me, you know I talk fast so it seems like it would be a match made in heaven. I think the problem is the language is too fast for me. But not too furious.

They have specials of the day and I saw pollo y arroz so I had a semi understanding of what lunch would consist of. But peep this-all this food for only $6!

The chicken was delicious and anytime I can get a serving of potatoes and rice, I’m a happy gal. I finished half of the plate and took the rest to go so really it’s two meals for $6, my kind of place!

I stopped to get a new leash for Lincoln since he broke it on Sunday. I went to two different Ross’ and nothing. I always go there for dog accessories and toys and was disappointed they didn’t have them in stock. Disappointed not only because it was a waste of time but because when I bought Lincoln’s leash there, it was only $7 or $8. Petco doesn’t roll like that. I stopped there and got a cute, lime green leash for Lincoln for 22 bones. Ugh.

At least he will walk in style.

The chicken turned out wonderful and the chicken melted off the bone. I topped with cheese and served with leftover spaghetti and veggies.

On Tuesday, I went to Dilworth Coffee to get my wi fi on. I was sitting there, working on internship stuff, catching up on blogs when suddenly, I heard The Strokes first  cd “Is This It?”  The Strokes are my favorite band and I get giddy whenever I hear their music in public or hear people talking about them.

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I told the barista he made my day by playing that. We started talking Strokes but he seemed taken aback that I liked them. Maybe it was the Vera Bradley headband or Life is Good t shirt I had on that had my looking like a yuppie who likes Colbie Caillat?

Gah, I love that headband and so. And love that I got it for free at the thrift store since the cashier was too lazy to look up the price and didn’t know who Vera Bradley is.

Anyways, back to the Strokes. I asked him if he heard the new cd and he said he hadn’t had a chance to listen yet so I went to my car and they played it-score!

Afterwards, I dined al fresco since it was a gorgeous day out and I needed to work on my tan. I made two chicken, hummus and hot sauce wraps with sliced apple

and Lincoln did as well

And catch up with Jen Lancaster

I wasn’t feeling the book at first because it’s her first fiction piece of work and it’s based off of her life as are the two main characters, Mia and Mac. Which is weird that I say that because she is my favorite author but I guess I was expecting something different from her normal work. I just have to embrace the whole notion of write what you know, even if it does apply to fiction.  A few chapters in, I couldn’t put it down and can’t wait to finish it!

The rest of the afternoon was spent packing, cleaning and cleaning out purses.

I don’t know how I have so much random crap in my purses, I’m talking random like soy sauce, chopsticks, pens, splendas, Yelp swag, aspirin, lip gloss, maracas and more.

When I cleaned out a majority of my purses that I’m giving away to the thrift store, it was enough to fill up two purses, wtf?

Do you use one purse or switch it up all the time? If you do switch it up, do you clean them out often?  As you can see, I definitely need to start cleaning them out more. I’m a hoarder when it comes to the contents of my purse.

PS–If you haven’t entered my giveaway, it ends tomorrow night!