Organization Tip: Using Pouches

I usually carry large bags. Mainly because I like to have one bag to hold everything. In my experience, when I have multiple bags, the likelihood that I lose or misplace something (or an entire bag) is  pretty high. In order to keep myself organization. I enjoy using pouches. The current pouches that I carry include:

(1) Cosmetic Pouch – In this pouch I keep my lipstick, lotion, tissue, bandaids, eyeglass cleaning wipes, hand sanitizer, & headache medicine.


(2) Writing Utensil Pouch – I enjoy keeping lots of pens in different colors with me, as well as highlighters.


(3) Electronics Pouch – I always keep a wall plug-in charger, a mobile charger, and my Macbook Charging card with me.


I also use pouches when I travel to organize things like accessories & cosmetics. I recently cleaned out my stash and I want to give them away! In addition to 2 – 3 pouches, each package will include an inspirational message! I am also giving away the “Plan Like A Boss” Planner, because a planner is one of my favorite tools to use! Please review all official rules below!


Get Organized Contest


1. Eligibility: This Contest is open only to those who sign up via the official contest rules above and who are [18 years of age or older] as of the date of entry.The Contest is only open to legal residents of the United States, and is void where prohibited by law. The Campaign is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.

2. Agreement to Rules: By participating, the Contestant (“You”) agree to be fully unconditionally bound by these Rules, and You represent and warrant that You meet the eligibility requirements. In addition, You agree to accept the decisions of as final and binding as it relates to the content of this Campaign.

3. Campaign Period: Entries will be accepted online starting on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. CST] and ending [Thursday, December 28, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. CST].

4. How to Enter: The Campaign must be entered by subscribing to, and then posting a screenshot to the Contestant’s Instagram or Facebook Page and then hashtagging #donnienicole. The entry must fulfill all Campaign requirements, as specified, to be eligible to win a prize. Entries that are incomplete or do not adhere to the rules or specifications may be disqualified at the sole discretion of  You may enter only once. You must provide the information requested before 11:59 p.m. CST on Tuesday, January 2, 2018. You may not enter more times than indicated by using multiple email addresses, identities, or devices in an attempt to circumvent the rules. If You use fraudulent methods or otherwise attempt to circumvent the rules, your submission may be removed from eligibility at the sole discretion of

5. Prizes: The Winner(s) of the Campaign (the “Winner”) will receive a package of pouches valued at $15.00 USD. Actual/appraised value may differ at time of prize award. The specifics of the prize shall be solely determined by No cash or other prize substitution shall be permitted except at’s discretion. The prize is nontransferable. Any and all prize-related expenses, including without limitation any and all federal, state, and/or local taxes, shall be the sole responsibility of Winner. No substitution of prize or transfer/assignment of prize to others or request for the cash equivalent by Winner is permitted. Acceptance of prize constitutes permission for to use Winner’s name, likeness, and entry for purposes of advertising and trade without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.

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7. Winner Selection and Notification: Winner will be selected by a random drawing under the supervision of Winner will be notified by social media inbox within five (5) days following selection of Winners. shall have no liability for Winner’s failure to receive notices due to spam, junk e-mail or other security settings or for Winner’s provision of incorrect or otherwise non-functioning contact information. If Winner cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim the prize within [10 days] from the time award notification was sent, or fails to timely return a completed and executed declaration and release as required, the prize may be forfeited and an alternate Winner selected. Receipt by Winner of the prize offered in this Campaign is conditioned upon compliance with any and all federal, state, and local laws and regulations. ANY VIOLATION OF THESE OFFICIAL RULES BY WINNER (AT DONNIENICOLE.COM‘S SOLE DISCRETION) WILL RESULT IN WINNER’S DISQUALIFICATION AS WINNER OF THE CAMPAIGN, AND ALL PRIVILEGES AS WINNER WILL BE IMMEDIATELY TERMINATED.

8. Rights Granted by You: By entering this content (e.g., photo, video, text, etc.), You understand and agree that anyone acting on behalf of, and’s licensees, successors, and assigns, shall have the right, where permitted by law, to print, publish, broadcast, distribute, and use in any media now known or hereafter developed, in perpetuity and throughout the World, without limitation, your entry, name, portrait, picture, voice, likeness, image, statements about the Campaign, and biographical information for news, publicity, information, trade, advertising, public relations, and promotional purposes. without any further compensation, notice, review, or consent. Optional verbiage for Contests: By entering this content, You represent and warrant that your entry is an original work of authorship, and does not violate any third party’s proprietary or intellectual property rights. If your entry infringes upon the intellectual property right of another, You will be disqualified at the sole discretion of If the content of your entry is claimed to constitute infringement of any proprietary or intellectual proprietary rights of any third party, You shall, at your sole expense, defend or settle against such claims. You shall indemnify, defend, and hold harmless from and against any suit, proceeding, claims, liability, loss, damage, costs or expense, which may incur, suffer, or be required to pay arising out of such infringement or suspected infringement of any third party’s right.

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10. Limitation of Liability: By entering, You agree to release and hold harmless and its subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising and promotion agencies, partners, representatives, agents, successors, assigns, employees, officers, and directors from any liability, illness, injury, death, loss, litigation, claim, or damage that may occur, directly or indirectly, whether caused by negligence or not, from: (i) such entrant’s participation in the Campaign and/or his/her acceptance, possession, use, or misuse of any prize or any portion thereof; (ii) technical failures of any kind, including but not limited to the malfunction of any computer, cable, network, hardware, or software, or other mechanical equipment; (iii) the unavailability or inaccessibility of any transmissions, telephone, or Internet service; (iv) unauthorized human intervention in any part of the entry process or the Promotion; (v) electronic or human error in the administration of the Promotion or the processing of entries.

11. Disputes: THIS Campaign IS GOVERNED BY THE LAWS OF The United States of America AND the State of Illionis, WITHOUT RESPECT TO CONFLICT OF LAW DOCTRINES. As a condition of participating in this Campaign, participant agrees that any and all disputes that cannot be resolved between the parties, and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Campaign, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, exclusively before a court located in [your state/province] having jurisdiction. Further, in any such dispute, under no circumstances shall participant be permitted to obtain awards for, and hereby waives all rights to, punitive, incidental, or consequential damages, including reasonable attorney’s fees, other than participant’s actual out-of-pocket expenses (i.e. costs associated with entering this Campaign). Participant further waives all rights to have damages multiplied or increased.

12. Privacy Policy: Information submitted with an entry is subject to the Privacy Policy stated on the’s website.

13. Winners List: To obtain a copy of the Winner’s name or a copy of these Official Rules, e-mail your request along with your full mailing address to Requests must be received no later than [January 15, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. CST].

14. Sponsor: The Sponsor of the Campaign is

15. The Campaign hosted by is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook.

16. By checking entering the contest, You, the Contestant, have affirmatively reviewed, accepted, and agreed to all of the Official Rules.

How To Make A Tea/Hot Drink Bar

My husband recently got back from a World Tour with DJ Jazzy Jeff. One of the things that he brought back home was lots of organic tea from his journey throughout Asia.


I purchased mini glass Ball Jars from Amazon. In terms of size, they are about the size of Gerber Baby Food Containers. I didn’t want to run the risk of purchasing jars that were too big, and then the tea jars would look empty. I’d rather go small and then just refill as needed. Not to mention the teas are pretty potent and usually only need one teaspoon per cup.



“I sing a song from Sing-Sing, sipping on ginseng…” – U-God of WuTang Clan in “Triumph” 

I swear I rap that line to myself everything I have a cup of Ginseng tea lol!

Finally, I added my other favorite hot drinks including Green Mint Tea, Chai Tea and White Hot Chocolate. The countertop shelf that I purchased I was also from Amazon, available here. The shelf came preassembled.


I used regular mailing labels, and wrote the jar contents using a skinny Sharpie marker. Both the labels and the Sharpie were items I already owned. This project cost a total of $31.00, and it took about 30 minutes to fill the jars.

Happy organizing!!!

Everything in It’s Place… Organizing The Closet for a New Season

A couple of years ago we converted one of our bedrooms to our closet. This past weekend I started putting away the pastels, bright colors and sandals of Summer, in order to put out the earth tones, warm colors and boots of autumn.

I have a small dog whose favorite thing to do is to eat my shoes! So I needed to find a solution that would protect my shoes from her teeth, while also displaying my shoes in a way that makes getting dressed effortless. In all of my years of organizing, the most important thing to consider is that the system be easy to maintain, otherwise you are likely to revert to whatever is easier. For example, if you find yourself leaving clothes on the floor in your living room, why not put a beautiful lidded hamper that disguises the mess. Your brain will be happy because it will have a place to unload the clothes based on your natural behavior and your eyes will be happy because you won’t have to witness the mess. Similar, I like to keep blankets and pillows in my living room but instead of leaving them laying around, they live in a basket hamper where we can grab them when needed and put them away with ease.

Here is our shoe situation before I implemented our new storage solution:



Whenever I need a storage solution, the first place that I go is to The Container Store.



Here are the storage solutions I used:

Men’s Drop-Front Shoe Box. Available here.

Women’s Drop-Front Shoe Box. Available here.

Both the men’s and the women’s drop-font shoe boxes come in a bulk package for a discounted rate.

Finally, my husband loves a good hat, but he wasn’t storing his hats in a way that protected them and in a way that he could easily find whichever hat he was looking for.

Here is the before picture:


Here is the photo with the storage solution implemented:


I used the

Grey Drop-Front Sweater Boxes, available here.

About a year ago, I purchased this shelving unit from Amazon, and we use it to display our boots and oversized shoes that won’t fit in the boxes:


Before the shelves were kind of all over the place, as my only motivation was keeping my “good shoes” high up enough so that my dog couldn’t get to them. She never goes after my boots. So now the tall boots are on the bottom, the booties are in the middle and and the top, and a few of my favorite handbags are in the top shelves.

The top of the shelf is still used for the same purpose. Displaying our jewelry and other accessories.

I store out of season clothing in bins in our storage room, as I like to swap my clothes out (once in the Spring, and then in the Fall).



Get Organized! 

So many people say they thrive under chaos! My experience is that when I am organized I feel a sense of calm, openness & peace. 

Caption: My organized closet which included a big boot organizing project this past fall. We converted a bedroom to our closet so that we could have enough space to store our clothes & get dressed. 

When I am not organized I:

  • Misplace or totally lose things 
  • Purchase duplicates (wasting money)
  • Feel stifled or frustrated 
  • Waste time looking for misplaced or lost things 
  • Feel stress because if someone asks me for something & I don’t know where to find it, it makes me feel bad. 

Organization to me, means making a home for things, making space & structuring things. There are tons of tools & resources online to help you! I personally love The Container Store. I also love searching for life & organization hacks like this: 

So you don’t overwhelm yourself, start with one drawer or one room & then go from there. 

Organization also requires regular maintenance. Make a little time everyday to sort, filter, clean & place things where they belong. 

Project: Organize Boots

My boots were all jumbled up in one of those cheap plastic containers. It came with a lid & you couldn’t see inside of it, so it hid the clutter, but getting dressed was irritating.

I’m a visual person. I like to see my options & then make a decision from there. I also blame the movie Clueless

I’ve always wanted a nice big walk-in closet that is well organized! Our home was built in 1910, so closet space was very limited back then. We converted one of our bedrooms into a closet. 

I ordered boot organizers and assembled them. That process took about 90 minutes. From there, I pulled out my vanity table, which I no longer use, and other containers that were taking up space. Here is the final result:

On the top of the shelf I have all of my accessories and my makeup. 

I also had to relocate our mirror and ironing board. We leave our ironing board set up:

The rest of the closet remained the same. Here is a peak at my side:

I’d like to add an area rug to the room, and more images on the wall around the mirror. I’ll share pics once I find the right rug. 

My shelving & accessory organizers were purchased from The Container Store and 

Self-Care Commercial…

Self-care doesn’t have to be extravagant…


One of the hardest lessons for me as an entrepreneur, was learning to pause. When we first started Donda’s House, I would literally work 12 – 16+ hour days for 7 days straight.

I caught colds. Had back problems. Always felt like things were out of control…

We just turned 3 on August 1st and I’m proud to say that in 2016 I’ve learned the value of breaks.

I structure my weeks now to where I have at least one-day where I don’t leave my home. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still working, I just work from home. I’ll do conference calls, catch up on writing, and also do important things around the house like laundry.

I also try to reserve at least one day to a family day – usually Sundays, where I try not to do anything work related (or at least nothing heavy).

I’ve also learned to “stack” my meetings. If I book a meeting where I’m downtown, I try to book other meetings downtown the same day to maximize my time. I also reserve in-person meeting days to two days per week. For the summer, those have been my Tuesdays & Thursdays.

Finally, when I have a really big event or busy day, I try to be mindful of the schedule the day before and the day after. I’m proud to say that we’ve co-produced two festivals this summer (Teens in the Park – TIP Fest & Peace on the Beach) and we’re gearing up for AAHH! Fest!

Usually the day before and the day after, I try not to schedule too much to give myself time to prepare the day before, and to give myself time to rest & recoup the day after. Today was part work from home & part getting my mind (and gear) ready for tomorrow’s festival.

I talk alot about being a superhero! It’s important to realize that all superheroes know their limits!

Stuff To Check Out:

(1) My girl Dana Todd Pope has launched the cutest line of t-shirts, onesies, tote bags and more.


(2) Donda’s House had the opportunity to participate in ESPN’s “The Undefeated” Townhall Conversation on Chicago Violence. I’ll have a full-blog about this soon.


Caption: Jemele Hill did a phenomenal job hosting and moderating the conversation! Learn more about The Undefeated here.

(3) If you’re in Chicago, come through Peace on the Beach! Tomorrow from 4 pm – 8 pm, in Humboldt Park, 1440 N. Sacramento. Flyer & special Lyft Code below:

Thank you for reading my blog! It means the world to me!

Moon In Virgo

This weekend, I looked into my astrological chart and learned that my moon is in Virgo. My zodiac sign is Capricorn/Aquarius because I was born on the cusp. I learned that the moon really expresses our needs. 

Here is what I learned about my moon: 

With the Moon in the practical and systematic sign of Virgo, you are likely to be someone who is highly appreciative of structure, organization and detail. You will find your life works better with well-established systems in your personal and professional life. Virgo is an Earth sign, and so pertains to tangible or physical things. It is also known as Mutable, which infers a need for variety and change. When physicality and change are brought together, the principle of refinement is found. Born with the Moon in Virgo, you are likely to have an innate need to improve or refine the circumstances around you – combining practical know-how with the analytical quality needed to achieve specific results. Read the rest here

It made so much sense because I truly do find peace and comfort in cleaning and organizing. Whenever I feel any sense of anxiety, fear or frustration, I immediately also feel the need to organize, clean and purge. 

So I spent the day organizing two areas of my house. My storage room/pantry and my kitchen cabinets! Check out my befores:

Over the years I’ve invested in so many different types of storage containers, so I used those to organize my cabinets. 

Here is the pantry:

I still have some work to do back there but need to grab 2 – 3 large storage containers to finish it up. 

Here is the work on my kitchen cabinets:

I’m excited because I still have room for more wine glasses and plastic cups! 

My next big project will be to organize the papers in my office. My goal is to finish that project before 12/31/16.

I got a lot of inspiration from Pinterest. They have so many amazing ideas for organization! 

The Quest for the Perfect Carry-On

I do a lot of travel and have yet to find the perfect carry-on bag! Here are the bags that I’ve tried so far:


Longchamp ‘Le Pliage Neo Large’ Tote

Retailer: Nordstrom


(1) Beautiful Color

(2) Durable External Material

(3) Versatility – Can be dressed up or down .


(1) Straps are too short (bag often slips off shoulder during travel)

(2) Shape prevents the bag from standing up

(3) Difficult to get to things at the bottom.

Lo & Sons – The O.G.

Retailer: Lo & Sons Website


(1) The bag holds a lot, but still maintains its sleek look.

(2) Nice long shoulder strap.

(3) Padded laptop compartment, keeps machine safe and separate.


(1) Started having zipper trouble pretty early on.

(2) Heigh of bag doesn’t allow it to slip easily under seats on the airplane.

(3) Longer should strap isn’t comfortable.


Coach Turnlock Tote in Crossgrain Leather

Retailer: Coach and Macy’s


(1) Zippered bag. Many of the totes in this style have a button closure. The zipper totally sold me, as I like to have security AND in case the bag falls, I don’t want my stuff falling all over the place.

(2) Perfect everyday bag that pairs well with in both business and casual settings.

(3) Shoulder length allows you to throw the bag on your shoulder and go.


(1) Coach bags in light colors stain easily.

(2) Shoulder straps have some of the seams ripping. Coach usually repairs bags free of charge, but the life-cycle of my Coach bags usually last much longer.

(3) No feet!


I just picked up the Eagle Creek Emerson Carry-All (above) today and it will be joining me on an upcoming trip to Abu Dhabi. I’ll share my review upon my return!

The Quest for the Perfect Carry-on continues! I know the perfect bag is out there!

Necklace Organization

I was very much inspired by my stylist to organize my jewelry. My necklaces were on hangers and in general it was a bad situation. So much so that I didn’t even take a before pic lol.

Enter this beauty from


It’s called the MyGift 15 Inch Metal 30 Hook Necklace Holder. I purchased it for $19.99. I also ordered a bracelet holder, a ring holder and an earring holder. I’ll post photos as soon as those items arrive.

Here is my full necklace collection:


It’s very sturdy and I love that I can see all of my necklaces in one place!

Planner Format: Weekly, Daily or Both?

This one is a twofer. I had two major grant applications due on Thursday and Friday, so I wasn’t able to upload the #PlanWithMeChallengeDecember blog posts. So here they are! I sprinkled a little extra to make up for lost time.

Day 4: Weekly, Daily or Both? 

I use the weekly format in my planner because it saves space. I tried the Whitney English Day Designer for about a month and loved everything about it except the size. My planner needed to be small & compact enough, to be able to travel with the other things I carry: a laptop, a Kindle, a pencil case, an iPad, my cell phone (with it’s heavy Mophie Charger Case). The Day Designer I had was in the daily format, and it was simply not practical for me. I wrote about the day I abandoned by Day Designer here.

Although my planner is in the Weekly Format, I am very big on a daily to do list where I write down the 3 most important things that need to get done. If I don’t have enough space, I’ll write my list oa small post it note and stick it in to the planner. I also use my Weekly To Do List to make decisions on what I need to do daily.


Finally, I use the monthly pages to track important events and dates. When someone wants to schedule a meeting with me, I like being able to flip to one page and see what’s going on for the entire month. It’s also important to be able to control the pacing of life and to ensure that I get enough family time and “me” time. With the monthly calendar, I can look and see when I have a big grant deadline or meeting so I build in prep time the day before and the day of, to ensure that I don’t have a heart attack or have to lose sleep due to poor planning.

I came across this awesome Index of Inserts that includes FREE weekly & monthly pages and it also includes Health Trackers, Financial Trackers, To Do Lists & so much more!

Day 4: Goals?

I have never tracked my goals in my calendar, but am planning to start doing this in 2016. I have written a bit about goals here and here.

In the past my goals have always been like my surrounding environment – something that surrounds me. In 2016 I want my goals to be my compass and as much as possible for my daily tasks to be somehow connected to those larger goals.

I have always been very good about accomplishing academic and professional goals – applying to and completing college, submitting, preparing for interviews and accepting employment, and most recently making the transition from employee to entrepreneur. I honestly think that is because the tasks that it took to complete those goals were pretty much already defined. In order to get the degree – I had to finish up a set amount of classes each semester & the classes had a pre-defined role. In order to get a job, I had to complete the application, create a portfolio and interview. My most recent professional goal of becoming an entrepreneur had less defined tasks, as there are multiple ways to make the transition. (Side bar: I will be writing soon about how to make that transition for those who are interested).

Motivation quote: “Be stubborn about your goal, and flexible about your methods.” –

When it comes to my personal goals – traveling, scrapbooking, blogging… those things have not been connected to my daily routine or to-do list.

My plan is to write a MASTER LIST of my goals, and then from that master list, create my daily task list to ensure that I am actually making progress on each of those goals.

I’m also a big fan of quarterly planning. I received that tip from Ronnie Tyler of Black and Married With Kids. Many people set goals or resolutions on an annual basis, and unless they are incredibly disciplined, don’t check in on the status of those goals until the following year. Quarterly planning builds in accountability, because it’s just enough time to try to get something done, but not too much time so you forget. The business world, in terms of assessing the health of the company also works on the Quarterly System, and I think they are on to something.

I am taking this entire month to work on my 2016 goals, and will be sure to post some of them later. What are your favorite tools for goal setting?