A tour of my purse!

October 24, 2008 | 42 comments

There are two types of people in the world: people who think that, if they pondered the subject for a thousand years, they could not possibly come up with a more inane, boring topic for a blog post than a photo inventory of someone’s purse; and those who think it might be kind of interesting. I apologize to those in the former group. I was cleaning out my purse yesterday and got this idea in my head, and couldn’t stop myself.

This is my purse. Notice the straps that are long enough to go across your chest — I believe that that’s a must-have purse feature for moms of little ones. I also love the front compartment that keeps my wallet away from the rest of my junk for easy access. (You might be able to guess that the white couch in the background was a pre-kid purchase.)

Here’s what I keep in the front pocket. I use a man-style wallet to minimize clutter. Notice my dwindling monthly spending money cash inside. (My driver’s license photo is still from back when I dyed my hair blonde — I get some double-takes on that one.) And a few styles of lipstick are a must since I never leave the house without at least a little gloss.

My cell phone and car key (with the broken clicker) stay in the unzipped side pocket for easy access.

I specifically bought a purse big enough to hold books; I cannot bear the thought of finding myself bookless when unexpected free time arises, so I always have books on hand. Pictured here is the lovely We and Our Children (sent to me by a generous reader!); a guide I use to walk through an examination of conscience when I go to Confession; Strunk and White’s famous Elements of Style; and a notepad to write down any musings that come to mind (which I also use it to take notes during meetings with my spiritual director).

My mom works for an eye care company, so I always have multiple pairs of sunglasses floating around in my purse. [The black ones were a casualty of this photo shoot, broken by my one-year-old while I was fiddling with the camera.]

I don’t carry a diaper bag; instead I just keep two diapers and a small thing of wipes in a ziplock bag in my purse, leaving the bulky diaper bag in the minivan for emergency access. Also pictured are various house keys, including a clicker from the downtown building we haven’t lived in since 2005 (I don’t update my keys much). I also have an emergency snack on-hand to keep sleepy kids from ruining their naps by dozing in the car.

And in the front zipper pocket are church donation envelopes and a pen.

[Not pictured are wads of gum wrappers, dried up wipes, loose change, and nasty crumbs.]

Now you know all about the contents of my purse as well as my purse organization philosophy! (Those of you who haven’t fallen off your chairs from acute boredom, anyway.)

Even if readers didn’t enjoy it, a certain little person just loved the idea of me taking everything out of my purse and scattering it on the couch:

For the record, I’m one of the people who thinks that a glimpse into other people’s purses would be pretty interesting. If anyone else is up for it, let me know so that I can check out yours too!


  1. nicole

    I do think it is interesting. It is a little peek in to the lives of others. I have a similar philosophy with diaper bag vs. purse issues. At least right now. I don’t know if I will do my own post, but if I do I will tell you.

  2. Michelle

    My husband is afraid of my purse and my son thinks it’s his personal toy box. His favorite is my cell phone and my keys. I suspect that the remote for my car will not be working for long if my son has his way. The best part is that my son gets upset if I answer the phone. I suspect he really believes my husbands and I’s cell phones are his.

  3. Bailey

    Wow, you have *so* little clutter in your purse. My purse is pretty well organized, but there are so many little items in there that I have lots of small zippered pouches to keep it under control. Things like ibuprofen, lactaid, gum, mints, bandaids, kleenex, hand sanitizer, floss, tea bag (I only drink one kind of tea), etc, etc, etc.
    But a purse big enough for a book is ABSOLUTELY necessary!

  4. Susan Thompson

    I have no idea how all that fit in that purse!

    My system of church giving is that I keep my envelopes with my bill-paying stuff at my desk. Every other week when I pay bills I make out two checks to the church and put them in their envelopes and put the envelopes in my wallet. So at church I’m always ready with my offering. Since I do 2 weeks at a time, one is always late clearing the account, but that is not a problem.

  5. Hope T.

    I used to carry a purse like that but one time my back went out. Now I carry a tiny little thing with some credit cards, driver’s license, and a few coupons. I love it; so much easier on the back. I do have a bigger diaper bag but I just leave that in the car.

  6. Melanie B

    I’m in the “kind of interesting” camp. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated by what women carry in their purses.

    I don’t actually carry a purse very often now that I’m a mom. I just slide my keys, wallet and cell phone into the side pockets of the diaper bag. I have a purse for formal occasions (not that I actually go to any, but just in case) and for when I rarely go somewhere without the kids.

    Maybe I’ll do a blog post inventorying the diaper bag one of these days. That looks rather fun. No, I’m not going to do it now. I have many more important things to do. Like packing and laundry and cooking dinner…. It’s a good thing I don’t know where the camera is or I might be tempted to procrastinate. πŸ™‚

  7. Funky Kim

    I have a diaper and wipes in my purse and I’m the grandma! Must be prepared. LOL

  8. Stalicious

    I would do this except that I don’t really have a “purse.” I have a diaper bag… and a clutch that sometimes goes in it… and an old purse that sometimes gets in the rotation… and a big sacky-thing that I’ll use on occasion. I so want to be organized, but I am so bad at it! You seem to have thought of everything! You must teach me your magical ways.

  9. Cheryl

    This is a cool idea! Too bad I don’t carry a purse! My post would amount to what I cram into 2 front pockets and a wallet, and I’m NOT taking photos of my credit cards! =D

  10. Ggoose

    I’m a guy but

    “Omit needless items”

    sorry .. just had to mangle a quote from Elements of Style. πŸ™‚

  11. Ginkgo100

    Oh yes, I am totally on board with reading all about your purse and posting photos of my own! I know you read my blog “Leave the lights on,” but I posted this on my “personal” blog, “The Road to Black” (yeah, I need to think of a better name). Link under my name — I didn’t want to spam your comments with tons of links.

  12. veniteadoremus

    I’ll do my big college-student backpack soonish πŸ™‚ I love my backpack, it has a compartment with slots for pens!

  13. Kelly @ Love Well

    My current purse is a diaper bag, albeit a black stylish one.

    Lucky for you, I did this post last April, before I had a baby to cart around again.

    Sad update from that post: I have since lost my treasured multi-colored pens. My Bible is the worse for it.

  14. Jen Rouse

    I am in the category of liking the idea!

  15. Lucy

    Cool idea!
    I have stumbled on your blog and it is quite interesting.

  16. Spring

    I am in the interested. You really carry the Elements of Style WITH you? All the time? I am so, so, so not worthy!!!!

  17. Kate Wicker

    I’m so glad you mentioned that the crumbs, wrappers, and dried up wipes were not pictured but certainly present in your purse.

    I wrote about my purse contents some time back: http://www.katewicker.com/2008/07/my-purse-contents.html

    I used to be so neat and organized (and I still am by most people’s standards; I’m just not so anal I drive everyone around me crazy – a good thing, I think), but having kids has made my life and purse a bit messier.

    I loved your previous post about being overbooked as well. I’ve had to make some painful “cuts” in my life lately. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m already seeing the fruit of me being less hurried. Thanks for sharing your insight. It was powerful, as always.

    God bless you!

  18. Kylie w Warszawie

    I like this idea too. I’ll join in, but it’s going to take me awhile (4 kids who all had pinkeye this week and then gave it to me on top of all the other commitments I have, yeah). I’ll comment when I do it.

  19. Jean M. Heimann

    This is interesting! How on earth do you manage to fit all that in what looks to me like a relatively small purse? How do you find things in it in a hurry when you need them?

    I have a huge purse with so many zippers and pockets that I feel need to be labelled as I can’t remember where I put things. Right now I am trying to downsize because the larger the bag, the more I toss in.

  20. Michelle

    I also carry 2 diapers and some wipes in a gallon ziploc! My friend joked about monogramming some ziplocs with a Sharpie for me before my 3rd was born. I like you more and more!

  21. The Sojourner

    Hmm, let’s see. I won’t post pictures because I can’t find my camera (plus, my public blog is supposed to be kind of vaguely intellectual, and I think this might be a wee bit of a deviation from that theme) so I’ll just list what’s in my purse:

    Very frontmost pocket: a very old newspaper clipping with the advertisement for my first job that I got when I was 15, because I’m sentimental like that.

    Front velcroed pocket: A grocery list, a bank statement, a lab order for my contact lenses, a contact case (with sad little dessicated contacts in it), a plastic baggie with those little metal rings you use to hang charms on chains, my keychain, various and sundry saint medals that have fallen off my keychain, Post-it notes (which are going on my desk now), and a bookmark.

    Main pocket: my wallet, GoogleMaps directions from when I went to a play with my boyfriend, an empty plastic baggie, a printout from an online purchase, various receipts, bank statements, and check stubs,a rosary, two hairpins, a black scrunchie, a pair of nail clippers, a pencil, a pen, and a flash drive (which is broken).

    Back pocket: A St. Peter medal, rocks. (Why do I carry rocks in my purse? It’s kind of a long story.)

    And my purse is probably smaller than Jen’s.

  22. The Sojourner

    I have been known to stuff books into my purse when I’m going out–so all that junk doesn’t even fill the poor little thing to capacity.

  23. pharmgirl

    Wow! I love this idea. My purses usually don’t hold more than my wallet, phone and keys. The pockets of my lab coat, on the other hand… our usual cast includes my PDA, pens, Sanford’s Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy, patient monitoring forms, mints (I’m a garlic lover), lunch money (saves me a trip the locker after rounds are over), lipstick (just cuz), USB flash drive, and then recurring guest stars Kleenex, candy, and my rosary.

  24. Jess

    Your purse is way cleaner and more organized than mine! I rotate between three bags, a purse that I use for quick trips, a diaper bag and a tote bag that carries bigger stuff if we are going to be out for a good while.

    I can’t just stuff a diaper in my person, I use cloth so it require a wet bag, cloth wipes, extra prefolds and covers, etc. A lot of stuff. πŸ™‚

    This was a fun post, good idea.

  25. Jess

    P.S. – Can I just say that I am delighted that you have a “normal” purse. I find so few women these days who don’t carry a $600+ designer purse!

  26. elizabeth

    My tour de purse is on my brand-new, spanking blog, http://www.tinksmom.com. It took me forever to launch the thing because I really couldn’t decide the direction I wanted to take. I decided the only way it was going to work was for me to be myself and put on some bloggy persona. So it’s not a Catholic blog in the sense that it’s all about my journey to Christ through Catholicism. It’s a blog by someone who happens to be Catholic. Which might not make it suitable for all readers. And might disappoint some. And might alienate others. Again, though, it’s me, so it’s definitely warts and all.

  27. elizabeth

    That would be: NOT put on some bloggy persona.

  28. Yvonne

    Ok, I got brave and posted my purse contents on my blog. Thanks for motivating me to finally clean out my purse!

  29. Shannon

    You DO know that one of THE important questions of the last century was: “What does Queen Elizabeth carry in her purse?”

  30. Anonymous

    Wow, super boring! But it’s the first blog post of yours that I haven’t loved… (guess I’m part of the first group you described…)

  31. Anonymous

    Instead of books I typed up a hundred or so favorite Scripture verses, laminated the sheets, cut them into long rectangles.
    I pull them out in traffic jams, checkout lines etc. Spiritually helpful as well as evangelism conversation starters.

  32. the Mom

    I’ll play

  33. Pufferfish Mommy

    I did a post on this very subject a week or so ago! You can read all about it here. πŸ™‚

    (aka “PFMommy”)

  34. Heather

    Okay, a week later, and I’m stumped for a post. Count me in!

  35. Sarah Reinhard

    OK, so maybe I’m weird too, but I did find this fascinating…like seeing inside someone medicine cupboards, but better (because purses are WAAAY more interesting!) And, of course, I couldn’t resist posting my own… πŸ™‚

  36. Lisa, sfo

    Thanks for sharing! I actually think it’s rather fun seeing what others tote around in their, ah, totes. πŸ˜›

    I actually did a similar thing a year ago; you can see my purse’s innards here. πŸ˜€

  37. Kristine

    I am the type of person that has a little bit of everything in my purse. I always like to be prepared and organized. I have a big tote bag purse; I was always digging through it to find my keys and phone. I found a website that sells purse organizers, it http://www.joeyjunior.com. It has changed my life the organizer has a key clip and pockets so I can be organized . I love it.

  38. Anonymous

    You carry around Strunk & White with you everywhere? A woman after my own heart! BTW, great blog – I just found you the other day from Creative Minority Report, and will definitely explore some more.

Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site



The "THIS IS JEN" podcast is on Facebook & all podcast apps


- SubscribeΒ on iTunes or Google Play (audio)

- Get weekly bonus episodes on Patreon

- Sign up for my email list to be the first
to know about new tour dates