Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Still looking for holiday gifts? There are plenty of gifts that don’t result in clutter, beyond consumables. I wrote about “experience” gifts overs on Unclutterer, but here are some more gift ideas.
1. The gift of experiences: chocolate classes
Sure, you could buy the chocolate bars shown above, from Dandelion Chocolate. But you could also give someone the gift of the Dandelion’s chocolate classes: Chocolate 101 (an all-around introduction to chocolate) or Chocolate 201, where you get to make your own small batch of chocolate. Dandelion Chocolate is in San Francisco, but those from other ares might be able to find something equally interesting being offered by shops in other locales.
2. The gift of services: gift certificate from an image stylist/wardrobe consultant
Know someone who’d appreciate some wardrobe help? Style for Hire has stylists around the country who can help, and it sells gift certificates. I'm sure other image consultants would be glad to help out with a gift certificate, too — such as this one from Style by Tiffani.
3. Practical gifts: USB cell batteries
As Inhabitat says: “Although it might seem a little ridiculous to pay $18 for a pair of batteries, these next-gen cells can be recharged using a USB stick, so you’ll never have to buy another set of mercury-laden batteries that pollute the environment.”
4. Gifts for writers or editors: Associated Press Stylebook Online subscription
The AP order form asks “Is this a gift order?” in the Contact/Shipping Information section. I’ve had a subscription for years, and I highly recommend it.
5. Gifts for those in need
Many of us are fortunate enough to have as much stuff as we really need — but others are not as fortunate. If your area has a “secret Santa” program or an “adopt a family” program — or something similar for needy kids, seniors or families — consider participating in that program. For example, the Cambridge, Massachusetts Police Department has a Secret Santa for Seniors program which is accepting gifts through Dec. 20. Arlington County in Virginia has a Secret Santa program which accepts gift cards through Dec. 17.
Giving the Gift of Safety
Gift-Giving Ideas: Charitable Donations In Lieu of Presents
Non-Clutter Gifts You Can Buy Without Leaving Home
Christmas / Holiday Gift Ideas for Those with Cars - and Those Without
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
When looking for gifts that won’t become clutter for the receiver, consumables are always worth considering. They aren’t a panacea, and no one gift works for everyone — but they just might work for some folks on your list. I recently wrote about a number of consumable gifts over on Unclutterer, but here are some additional ideas — from stocking stuffers to more substantial gifts.
Good maple syrup seems festive to me, and Best Made sells a Big Jug of organic maple syrup, shown above.
Another maple syrup option would be the Tonic 01: Tuthilltown Bourbon Barrel Matured Maple Syrup sold by Mikuni Wild Harvest.
Want just a little something? How about one of the mayonnaise options from Empire Mayonnaise, which is “made exclusively with non-gmo oils and NY local, cage-free, pasture-raised eggs. Every jar is made by hand, from infusion to shipping.” You can get classic mayo, or something more exotic: bacon mayo, lime pickle mayo, black garlic mayo, rosemary mayo, and more. [via BuzzFeed]
Or, if you know a jam lover and want to splurge: All of Chez Pims jams and marmalades are sold out, but you can join the jam lover's club and get 12, 16 or 24 jars per year. As Pim Techamuanvivit explains: “This jam lovers club is not your usual of-the-month clubs. I don’t send you whatever jam I can’t sell retail to you. When you join, I ask you careful questions about your preference and distaste of fruits, berries, herbs, and spices. I customize each seasonal selection for you personally, based on your expressed preference. You also get the first pick of my limited edition jams and marmalades.”
Lip balm is a useful item, and Eos has lip balms in a sphere shape, rather than just the usual stick. There are eight flavors, although some are sold out right now. [via The Atlantic]
Another lip balm option is the "make your own lip balm" kit, sold by Uncommon Goods.
I’ve mentioned seed bombs and other seed items before, but another plant-related item to consider is the Garden in a Bag collection from Potting Shed Creations, also sold by Branch. There are lots of choices, including flowers, herb, tomatoes and catnip. For something a bit larger, you can get a Garden in a Pail. [via Inhabitat]
Mark at Boing Boing says the Blackwing 602 pencil from Palomino is “simply the best pencil in the world.”
The temporary tattoos from Tattly would make a fun gift. You can buy them individually, or in sets — or you can get a six-month subscription. And there are many reasons to like Tattly’s tattoos. They’re “designed by professional artists who get a cut of every sale.” They’re also “safe & non-toxic, printed with vegetable-based ink.” [via Cool Mom Picks]
Finally, bandages don't have to be boring — or decorated with Disney characters. You can choose from a wide assortment of latex-free washi adhesive strips at Pretty Strips. [via Apartment Therapy]
Christmas and Other Holidays: Consumable Gifts
Christmas and Other Holidays: Consumable Gifts, Part 2
Christmas / Holiday Gift Ideas: Consumables
Christmas / Holiday Gift Ideas: Consumables, Part 2
Gift-Giving Ideas: Consumables Are More Than Chocolates and Wine
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Update time! Back in October I wrote about headphone stands. But now Heckler Design — whose products, such as OneLessDesk, I’ve always admired — has come out with a headphone stand. It comes in six colors and is only $29 — much less expensive than many other options. And it’s made from steel scraps from the production of other Heckler products.
And for those with an iMac (2004-2011 or 2012-2013) or a MacBook Pro (2010-2013), take a look at the headphone hooks from Kancha Laboratory. They are currently on sale for only €18 — or €13 for the MacBook Pro version. Orders over €13 get free shipping, worldwide. [via HiConsumption]
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
If you need more room for your clothes than your closets provide, you can compensate with hooks, coat stands, wardrobes or garment racks. Today, let’s look at garment racks, also sometimes called garment rails. The ones above come from Normann Copenhagen; you can see the two sizes, and they come in gray or white. It’s also sold by AllModernOutlet.com. [via Remodelista]
This one comes from Zilio A&C in Italy; it’s called the Tra-ra. You can purchase it from Heal’s or Pure Deco, both in the U.K, although Heal’s is out of stock at the moment. You have four color choices. Added note, in response to an email comment: The lightbulb is not part of the rack; it was just placed there for the photo. You would never want an unprotected bulb where it could come in contact with some clothes; that's a fire hazard!
The Clothing House, designed by Ola Giertz for Essem Design, looks like a delightful new product. It’s so new, though, that I don’t yet see it on the Essem website. It comes in white and black. [via Musings: Flor’s Blog on Design]
Want more choices of colors? Caraselle has garment rails in yellow, red, pink, blue, chocolate brown, silver gray and white. There are two sizes: 3 feet and 6 feet. The company is based in the U.K., but delivers throughout the world.
The Diplodocus, from Kayiwa, is a fun design, but it’s also quite expensive. [via Furniture Fashion]
The Mercantile Clothes Rack from Restoration Hardware provides a unique look, too.
Sites selling store fixtures can have some interesting clothing racks, too.
And you could use a luggage cart as a garment rack, too.
And here’s a different approach, from Ferm Living. As Better Living Through Design explains, “An iron rod hangs from the ceiling by harness leather belts.”
Annaleena, in Sweden, is another source for clothing rails that hang from the ceiling; there are three different shapes to choose from. The Minimalist Store in Australia is another source for these products. [via Better Living Through Design]
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Photo by frau-Vogel, found on Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons
You can inherit some strange things from your relatives — and someone I know (who gave me permission to share this story) inherited some gold teeth from beloved family members. These weren't the only things she inherited, but they were certainly the oddest.
For 16 years, she kept them tucked away in a drawer. But then I told her about a local jewelry store that buys gold, and she decided to check it out. The store is closing soon — the jeweler is retiring after many years in the business — giving her an incentive to not procrastinate. So, with a bit of trepidation, she took the teeth (and some broken jewelry) to that jeweler — and he did indeed buy the teeth from her, for a nice amount of money!
And now she has this pendant, which she bought with the proceeds of her sale — a much better way to honor her relatives' memory.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I may never have become an organizer if it wasn’t for Angela Wallace. So I was heartbroken to hear this morning that she had died of “a sudden and tragic brain infection,” as her family explained.
Angela was a force to be reckoned with within the world of organizing. She was the immediate past president of the National Association of Professional Organizers, and was always very active in the San Francisco Bay Area chapter.
I met Angela when I took some classes from her and Rhonda Elliott, over nine years ago, when I was just getting ready to launch my business. In one class, we got to observe Angela working with a client; I remember listening to her and thinking “I can do this.”
And in another class, Angela helped me get over my stumbling block of picking a business name. “Your name, Professional Organizer” will work just fine to start, she told me. I could always change it to something else later, when I had a better idea of the type of organizing I wanted to do, she said. And here it is, over nine years later, and my business name is still Jeri Dansky, Professional Organizer.
I was just reading an interview Angela did with the New York Times in March 2012, while she was the NAPO president. I loved reading this part, which I can just hear Angela saying:
Q: How do you feel about the Container Store, or any store that sells organizing supplies?Angela, we will miss both your brain and your heart, so very much.
A: I think it’s given more options for solutions. And yet the average person buying stuff in there is just going to become more cluttered. I never take anything with me to a job. They already have enough boxes. My biggest tool is my brain.
Photo courtesy of organizer Julie Bestry, taken at the NAPO 2013 conference in New Orleans.
Update later on Nov. 13: Here's one more photo of Angela, courtesy of Rhonda Elliott, and also taken in New Orleans, at her presidential reception. It's a photo that Angela really liked; she had asked Rhonda for a copy.
Posted by Jeri Dansky at 10:49 PM
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Greeting card from Knockout.
My dad is coming out to California to visit me and my brother, Michael, at Thanksgiving. He lives in Florida, and is often cold when he comes out here. I was talking to him just today about the upcoming trip. “Bring some of those nice sweaters Michael’s given you,” I said.
And that seemed to remind him of something he’d meant to say. Let’s stop exchanging gifts, he said.
He said he still wanted to recognize special days, but thought a nice card was plenty. And I immediately agreed. Dad’s not in an acquiring mode — and the few things he decides he does want, like an iPad Mini, he goes and buys for himself. (Dad has become quite a fan of Facetime.) And I'm not in much of an acquiring mode, either — and like Dad, I buy the things I need.
This follows a pattern I’ve established with most of my friends. If something screams “Karen!” or “Helen!” or another friend’s name to me, I get it — and there’s a decent chance I’ve made a good guess. And I might do that at any time of year. None of us feels any pressure to get one another gifts just because it’s Christmas or a birthday.
And I know my dad and I are not the only ones who are moving in this gift-skipping direction.
Dinah Sanders has a lovely post on the subject on her Discardia blog. Here’s a short excerpt:
I tell you, holiday gift buying is optional. It is possible to have a happy family gathering without breaking the bank. You can have a blessed season without shattering your peace of mind. You can make it the season of giving without it being the season of shopping.Mary Robinette Kowal writes about believing those who say they don’t want gifts, and honoring that request. Again, I recommend reading the whole post, which includes this:
You don’t have to buy presents. Really. You just don’t have to. Most people don’t need more stuff and no one needs more debt. ... There are lots of alternatives to the holiday shopping madness, many other ways to remind people you care about them. ...
Each year now as I enter my holiday vacation time, it’s clear that the biggest gift my family has given each other is freedom from obligation. The real gift and the real focus is being together. We have traded presents for presence.
My grandmother is 107. She doesn’t want anything. My desire to give her a gift is really just because I want to have a tangible way of saying, “I love you and I thought about you.” So, I call her instead. I write her letters instead. I do not crowd her tiny house with things she doesn’t need or want.If you really like giving gifts, and the people you give them to like receiving them, then by all means go ahead. I have plenty of non-clutter gifts to suggest. But if you'd like to focus your holiday energy on something other than gift-giving, that’s OK, too. Make the choices that work for you and your loved ones.
Me? I’m off to find the perfect birthday card for my dad’s December birthday. Maybe even two.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
As an animal lover, I’m always attracted to wonderful calendars featuring cats and dogs. One of my new favorites comes from Rupert Fawcett. Fawcett does a delightful series of cartoons, called Off the Leash, and he’s gathered some of them into a calendar. He’s graciously allowed me to share an image with you.
Molly Poole is your woman if you’re into watercolors and Labrador retrievers. She donates “a portion of the sales of these calendars to support the rescue and foster efforts of Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue and Save A Lab.”
And another way to have a lovely calendar and help dogs in need is to get your calendar from the Canine Companions Rescue Center. Orders must be received by Nov. 28. You can also get them through Rachael Brown Art of Etsy; the same deadline applies.
Prefer some cats? You can get a calendar, imported from Japan, with the famous cat Maru.
If you’d prefer drawings to photographs, you could get the cat calendar from Animals in Color, which also has a dog calendar and a bird calendar. These are limited editions, which often sell out. They're the work of Sebastiano Ranchetti from Florence, Italy — and readily available via Etsy.
Finally, here’s one more calendar that raises money for a good cause — in this case, for Hull Seaside Animal Rescue.
First Look: 2014 Calendars for Good Causes
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Now that we’re past Halloween, let’s talk about something really, no-joking-around scary: distracted driving. Trying to do two things that require concentration or visual attention — driving and texting, for example — is never a good time management choice.
Want the heartbreaking stories?
Here's Story #1:
Alexander Heit, a University of Northern Colorado student from Boulder, passed away earlier this month from injuries he sustained after losing control of his car and flipping over while driving through Greeley.Heit’s parents released a photo of his last text; go take a look.
He was texting at the time.
Here's Story #2:
Jake Owen, a Baltimore resident, was 5 years old when he was killed three days after Christmas in 2011 as a result of a crash caused by a driver talking on his cell phone. ...
The driver who killed Jake was so distracted by his cell phone that when he hit the Owen’s car at 62 mph, he had never applied his brakes.You can read more on the Jake’s Law website, which I found via Jennifer Mendelsohn.
And for more stories, watch the incredible documentary from Werner Herzog called From One Second To The Next. It’s 35 minutes long, and it’s very much worth it.
Want the statistics?
Here’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, based on studies done in 2011:
69% of drivers in the United States ages 18-64 reported that they had talked on their cell phone while driving within the 30 days before they were surveyed. ...And here’s more:
In Europe, this percentage ranged from 21% in the United Kingdom to 59% in Portugal.
31% of U.S. drivers ages 18-64 reported that they had read or sent text messages or email messages while driving at least once within the 30 days before they were surveyed. ...
In Europe, this percentage ranged from 15% in Spain to 31% in Portugal
In 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. ... An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011.Furthermore, Mother Jones reports on another recent study that showed:
Driver response time was terrible regardless of whether the driver was manually texting or using Siri.
Texting drivers of any sort took twice as long to react to roadway hazards than when they were off the phone.
Texting drivers spent a lot of time not looking at the road, regardless of whether they were using a voice-to-text app.
Want the laws?
In the U.S., the laws about texting while driving vary from state to state. Alaska has the strongest penalties; texting and driving can cost you $10,000 and a year in prison. If someone is injured, the penalties are much more severe.
Want some advice?
For drivers, a man in the documentary above summarizes it this way:
Focus while you’re driving. Pay attention while you’re driving. Don’t take your eyes off the road while you’re driving. Things can happen so quick, that’ll change your life forever.And here are some thoughts from Randi Zuckerberg, which I found via B.L. Ochman:
Sometimes, I’ll get a text message while I’m driving and feel such compulsion to check it or answer it. I always have to consciously ask myself, “Is this message really so important that it could be worth it to die checking it?” “Is what I have to say to this person so important that it can’t wait 15 minutes?” ...
Of course, once I ask myself those questions, the whole thing seems ridiculously dumb. Of course there’s no message that can’t wait.If you're a passenger with someone who’s texting and driving, the folks on MetaFilter have a bunch of suggestions on what to say, but the advice all boils down to this:
Do not ride in a car with a distracted driver. You are risking your life.
Want a wristband like the one shown above?
You can get it, and other products, at this online store.
Multitasking While Driving is a Really Bad Idea
This Could Save a Life
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Self-storage units are like Vegas. What goes in the unit, stays in the unit. In many cases, a long-term waste of money. — Donna Hoo
As much as I agree with Donna in most cases, under certain circumstances offsite storage may make sense. Sometimes you really do need storage for a short period of time: during a remodel, for example, or when a home is being staged for sale.
And people in cities with small apartments sometimes find that renting a storage unit makes more sense than paying for a larger apartment to store infrequently-used items they don't want to part with. Someone on the Apartment Therapy website mentioned storing baby gear in between kids; she did the calculations on using storage vs. buying replacements, and storage came out significantly cheaper.
And here's a scenario that someone shared on an Unclutterer post about self-storage:
I have ski equipment, camping gear, a kayak, and some car maintenance stuff that’s currently stored in the basement. This is all stuff that, while not used on a weekly (or even monthly basis) gets used regularly enough that it doesn’t make sense to rent or borrow it. In short, it isn’t clutter, but it also needs to be stored somewhere other than in my living space.If you determine that offsite storage really does makes sense for your particular situation, here's an alternative to renting a storage unit: CityStash Storage. CityStash delivers plastic storage boxes to you, which you pack; the company then comes and picks up the boxes and larger items such as furniture, and takes them to its warehouse. You can retrieve anything you've got stored for a flat delivery fee. CityStash has a three-month minimum, and is currently only in San Francisco and Washington D.C.
While I’ve never done this before, I am considering the possibility of renting storage space for these large, seasonal things. Renting a storage space would add a rental cost, but it also changes how I’d go about finding an apartment. Previously, storage space has factored in to my apartment choice — if a place didn’t have enough storage space, it was automatically off the list. Using self-storage could allow me to rent a significantly cheaper apartment — if the savings significantly exceed the added storage cost, this seems like a win to me.
I met Gregory, the owner of CityStash, at the recent conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers — San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. He was kind enough to send me copies of some of the company's ads, which I thought were hilarious.
Yes, some of us like visiting our parents, but these ads still made me giggle.
And a side note: This is my blog anniversary; I've now been blogging for seven years! Thank you, readers, for your support.
Renting Self-Storage Units Can Be a Big Mistake
The Stuff That Resides in Self Storage Units
Self-Storage Units: Sometimes Useful, Often Wasteful
Posted by Jeri Dansky at 6:16 PM