Friday, October 31, 2008

9 Ways to Find New Homes for Your Magazines

stacks of magaZInes

Do you have piles of magazines (or even just a few) that could use a new home? Of course, you can recycle your old magazines, but if you'd rather see them get some more use, here are some options.

Reminder: When offering a donation, please check with the organization first to understand its needs. You want to be helpful, and items that can't be used are a burden, not a help.

1. Give them to family or friends who would appreciate them - if you're sure they would appreciate them.

2. Offer them to your local community members on Freecycle - and craigslist might work, too.

The day after I posted this, a member of my local Freecycle group offered 21 science magazines (Science News, New Scientist); they were taken in less than five hours.

3. Donate them to your local library. Each library will have its own policy about which magazines it accepts; here are some such policies:
- Susquehanna County Library.
- Sedona Public Library.
- Metropolitan Library System, Oklahoma.
- Greater Victoria Public Library.

4. Donate them to local prison library programs. For example, there's the Jail Library Group.

5. Donate them to hospitals and clinics; here's an example of one hospital that certainly wants magazines. Over on Metafilter, toastedbeagle makes a special plea for donating your magazines to VA hospitals: "If they aren't too old, please donate them to the nearest Veteran's Association clinic or hospital. They have no budget for waiting room magazines. Our nation's veterans sit and look at pharmacy sales materials while they wait for care."

6. Donate them to homeless or domestic violence shelters.

7. Donate them to organizations that send them overseas, such as Bridge to Asia. National Geographic provides a list of such places that want National Geographic, specifically - but they may want other similar-quality magazines, too.

8. For magazines with lots of pictures, donate them to art teachers or any program doing art projects. In San Francisco, SCRAP (Scroungers Center for Reusable Art Parts) is glad to receive National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines. [Thanks to organizer Carol Thistlethwaite for that bit of news.]

9. Drop them off any place with an under-supplied waiting room, such as an auto repair shop.

If you feel inspired, you might want to start a community program for collecting and donating magazines; Magazine Literacy provides some guidance and inspiration, especially related to magazines for children. [via Cupcake Life]

Related Posts:
Letting Go of the Magazines
10 Ways to Find New Homes for Your Books

[photo by patterbt - 15+ years worth of National Geographic magazines that he got on Freecycle]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Getting Organized to Vote

Vote Here signs

With a very important election here in the USA next Tuesday, I'm getting ready to vote. I know how I'm voting for president, and for some other major ballot issues.

But here in California we often have a large number of ballot issues on a huge range of subjects, many of them having to do with fiscal issues. (Example: Do we want to issue bonds to finance jails, or transit systems, or whatever?) Others involve subjects such as "standards for confining farm animals." This time, we have 12 such propositions at the state level, and more on the local level.

And then there also the candidates in the local elections, such as the County Board of Education - not one that gets a lot of media attention.

The first step in getting organized to vote is making sure I get election day on my calendar, and making sure I know where my polling place is.

But the bigger task is deciding how to vote. Here's how I go about making those decisions:

1. Read the editorials from a range of newspapers. I don't want the simple list of endorsements; I want the editorial where the paper lays out its reasoning. By the time I've read a range of opinions, I'm often set. Editorials I read include those from the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, and the Sacramento Bee.

2. Read (parts of the) voter information guide mailed out by the state: the analysis by the legislative analyst, and the arguments for and against. On the latter, I may not read the whole thing - but I do look to see who's supporting what. Also read the candidate statements in the sample ballot and voter information pamphlet mailed out by the county.

3. Look at SmartVoter for more information about local candidates. (And any candidate that didn't bother to provide information for this League of Women Voters web site has at least one strike against him or her, in my book.) Sometimes I'll follow links from this web site to the sites of the candidates, to learn even more about them.

4. Check the endorsements of groups whose opinion I value, such as some environmental groups.

5. In some elections, attend events where a group of candidates at the local level are speaking.

6. Ignore radio ads and most mailings sent to my house. (I don't have a TV, so ignoring those ads is a snap.)

I'd be interested in hearing how anyone else decides how to vote on the less-well-known candidates and issues.

[photo by lakelandlocal / Chuck Welch]

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Seven Ways to Store the Wine

terracotta wine rack

Basic wine storage is easy to find. If you want something a bit more unusual, you're in the right place.

1. The terracotta wine racks from Weston Mill Pottery in the UK really caught my eye!

steel wine rack for six bottles

2. Boltz makes stylish items from steel; this counter top wine rack, which holds six bottles, is just one of their many wine storage products. Update on Aug. 11, 2012: Boltz no longer makes this wine rack.

folding wine rack, red canvas (and wood), holds six bottles

3. The Laguiole Folding Canvas & Wood Wine Cave is an intriguing product. Update on Aug. 11, 2012: I'm no longer finding this product anywhere.

wine rack with bunny rabbit

4. Moving on to bigger pieces, the Bachus wine rack, from Slide in Italy, holds 40 bottles and does not come with the bunny. And yes, it is spelled that way. [via Apartment Therapy]

wood wine rack for 60 bottles

5. This lovely wine rack from Wilkins & Kent in Australia holds 60 bottles. The company also makes similar wine racks in smaller sizes.

wood wine credenza

6. The Miranda wine credenza is another lovely wood piece. [via Better Living Through Design] Update on Aug. 11, 2012: I'm no longer finding this product.

wall wine rack designed so you can read the labels

7. And for a wall-mounted option, Vintage View wine racks are designed to let you read the labels! [via Apartment Therapy]

Related Posts:
10 Wine Racks for 3-20 Bottles
Zanisa: Organizing Items for the Environmentalist
Field Trip to Stacks and Stacks
TruBamboo: Kitchen Storage Items
Rowboat Bookcase

Inspiration to Declutter: The Importance of the Objects that Surround Us

office with pretty desk, bookcase, wastebasket

"We should live with things that make us feel happy, that inspire us, that we find beautiful. When we surround ourselves with beauty, we gain more than superficial pleasure: we tap into our own unique histories; we remember where we come from, and who we are."

- Greg Frangoulis, a designer for Maine Cottage

You can hear more from Greg (and watch a short, pretty slide show) on the Maine Cottage web site. Update on April 13, 2011: The Maine Cottage brand has been bought by Russell & Mackenna, and the Maine Cottage web site is being redone - so you won't be able to hear from Greg or see that slide show.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reader Question: Online Chore Charts (plus one that isn't)

chore chart created online

After my last chore chart post, a reader asked: "I was looking for a chore list online that I could implement at home or take and adjust to my needs. Would you know of any?"

Well, sure. DLTK's Custom Chore Charts lets you create them for free, and it's quick and easy. All the headings are custom, and you get a choice of pictures, fonts and colors. The chore chart at the top of this post is one I just created.

chore chart maker - sample charts

Another option is Lisa's Country Chore Chart Maker; using this package, there are pictures as well as words for each chore.

chore list timer

This is (obviously) not an online chore chart - it's just another option I discovered, thanks to organizer Lori Krolik and to Moschel Kadokura of Timely Matters, Inc., which offers On·Task On·Time for Kids - a combination of task list and timer. Make that three task lists: "morning (getting ready for school), afternoon (transitioning from school to home activities), and evening (getting ready for bed)."

Blog Anniversary!

second birthday cake with boy

Two years ago I started writing this blog, with a short little note about a hoarding conference I had just attended.

Now, two years later:
- Number of posts: 699
- Number of subscribers: well over 900
- Number of readers last month: over 12,000
- Number of countries the readers came from: 118

Thank you all for your support! You keep me energized and inspired to keep on writing.

While I know who some of you are - my frequent commenters, some of my fellow organizers - there are many more of you I don't know. If any of you are so inclined, I'd love to know:

- What type of posts you like the most.
- How you happened to find my blog.
- Anything else you'd like to share.

[photo by all in green / Shana]

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Organizing with a Halloween Twist

wood box with witch

With Halloween coming so soon, I thought I'd take you on a tour of some Halloween-themed containers and other organizing-related items. I'm enchanted by the wood boxes by stregheria, from Bergamo, Italy - and available on Etsy. But each one is one-of-a-kind, so this one might not be available for long.

keepsake box with pumpkin patch, scarecrow, crows

Over on CafePress, you can get this keepsake box.

keepsake box with picture of Frida Kahlo with Day of the Dead earrings

And this keepsake box doesn't have a Halloween theme, but rather the Day of the Dead. Update on Oct. 13, 2009: Unfortunately, Tascha doesn't seem to be selling boxes any more, either on CafePress or Etsy.

Halloween themed pail

Patricia's Pots sells this Halloween-themed pail. Update on Sept. 26, 2012: This website is no longer selling painted pots.

pumpkin shaped paper mache candy container

This pumpkin paper mache candy container is an unusual item that appealed to me. Update on Oct. 13, 2009: This isn't available any more.

glow-in-the-dark monster magnets - not glowing in the picture

For something very different, how about these glow-in-the-dark monster magnets from NuitBlanche, on Etsy? Artist Caroline Gaedechens says you can also buy them from druck dealer in Hamburg. [via Rare Bird Finds] Update on Oct. 13, 2009: Sadly, these are no longer available on Etsy; I have no way of knowing if druck dealer still has them.

black cat trinket box

And finally, here's the only expensive item in the bunch - the Limoges Halloween boxes, this one being just one of many.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Selling Stuff on craigslist: Tips for Creating an Effective Ad

craigslist ad

So you have something that's clutter to you, but valuable enough that it's worth your time to try to sell it? You might want to try selling it on craigslist, which I find much easier to use than eBay, at least for the infrequent seller. (But some types of things will sell much better on eBay.)

I haven't done much craigslist selling myself, but I did sell a few items on behalf of someone else, and was pleased with how well it worked.

If you want to try selling on craigslist, the tips I see most often about doing a good listing are the following. They certainly worked for me! (And the person with the ad shown above might have benefited from tips 1 and 2.)

1. Provide good pictures. I wrote about this back in my July newsletter; Photojojo has some great tips.

2. Provide a complete description. For items like furniture, provide dimensions. Indicate any brand names.

3. Be honest. If there are flaws in the item, be sure you've fully disclosed them.

4. Price your item appropriately. As Sien said on Ask Metafilter, "Don't kid yourself about how much your stuff is worth."

whirlpool refrigerator ad on craigslist, with whirlpool spelled wrong
5. Check for typos. Someone looking for a Whirlpool refrigerator will not find this one - and typos make you look unprofessional.

To learn more, see:
- A Seller's Guide to Craigslist
- How to: Write a Craigslist Ad
- Tips on Selling Your Furniture on Craigslist
- 24 Craigslist Tips, Tricks and Resources
- Craigslist Classifieds

For examples of what not to do, you could read You Suck at Craigslist. This was one of my favorites.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Support Your Local Woodworker

shoe bench

Yes, buying a handmade piece from a woodworker is more expensive than buying a mass-produced item. But you get a work of art as well as a functional item - and for some people, in some situations, the cost is well worth it. (And you can get something made to the exact dimensions you need, which can be very helpful.) And woodworkers don't just make furniture - they also make some nice storage boxes.

Here a just a few examples of the amazing range of products you can find. I'm going to start in California and move more-of-less eastward on this short tour - although I'll bounce around a bit on the U.S. east coast.

You're just not going to find something like Harry Von Ornum's geta-boku (shoe bench), shown above, in your big box store. Harry is part of Four Sisters Woodworking in Fort Bragg, California.

wood tackle box

Sue Spray, in Southern California, makes wood tackle boxes - how cool is that? (She makes other things, too.)

wood box, odd shape

Deborah Keese and Alan Freund of Ann Arbor, Michigan make jewelry boxes and other wooden boxes.

chest, curved lines,

This chest from Andrew Pitts in Virginia grabbed my attention immediately.

art nouveau bookcases

Even in black and white, you can tell these art nouveau bookshelves from William Doub in Deerfield, New Hampshire are knock-your-socks-off wonderful.

keychain toothpick or pill holders

Marge Felder in Clarksville, Georgia, makes small wooden objects - including these keychain toothpick holders or pill holders.

flower chest

Brian Reid of Maine made this stunning chest.

cabinet, unusual shape

Crossing the ocean, we come to Karl Gill in County Offaly, Ireland, who made this unusual cabinet.

wood shelving

Allan Lake in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, makes some very eye-catching stuff.

butterfly box

Circling back around to Kamuela, Hawaii, Holden & Holden Designs has some pretty amazing boxes.

wood box

And finally, let's change hemispheres and go to Perth, Western Australia, where Neil and Pam Erasmus make both furniture and boxes.

unusual cabinet

And in Coledale NSW, Stuart Montague makes furniture - both traditional and not. You can find some of his pieces - plus other interesting work - at Naturally Australian.

[Thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle's articles on California woodworkers, which inspired this post.]

Related Posts:
Celebrating Fine Furniture
Shaker Boxes by Brent Rourke
Got Books? Get Bookcases!
Furniture for Storage: Chimney Cupboards or Cabinets

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Max Kerning on the Need for "Tidy Harmony"

Max Kerning runs a vacuum cleaner

"When I look around, I see too much disorder in the world - needless chaos and messes. I sense panic and stress. In fact, I feel it myself. It rattles my soul and gives me an ache of the head and a sourness of the stomach."

So writes Max Kerning. People dealing with disorder often feel some of what Max is expressing. But what specific type of disorder so bothers him?

"... Everywhere I am assaulted by sloppy text that is displeasing to the eye. This must be stopped."

OK, maybe most of you aren't into humor concerning typography. But if you know what kerning is, take a look at Max's web site.

[via SwissMiss]

PS: For those into typographic humor, read about keming, too.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Unusual Storage: A Closet and a Cabinet

girl with closets shaped like houses

Closets shaped like houses? I'm totally enchanted by these closets from Kast van een Huis. [via Babygadget] But I don't know how much shipping would cost if you don't live in the Netherlands.

blue beach hut shaped cabinet

And then there's the beach hut cabinet.

Colorful Storage Furniture - for Kids

colorful child's bed, with storage

If we're talking colorful furniture, we should look at some of the wonderful products made for children. And I couldn't resist the Tati Superbed - hey, it does have some storage included. [via Ohdeedoh]

child's dresser - orange with green knobs

But Tati, an Italian brand, makes many other wonderful products, too - here's just one. In the U.S., you can find Tati's furniture at GoziaHome. Warning: It's not cheap. Update on Jan. 17, 2010: Changed wording to call Tati a brand, not a company.

room of colorful children's furniture

Micuna, in Spain, offers a range of colorful choices. You might want to take a look at the company's environmental policies.

three colorful small cupboards

Gautier, based in France, has many colorful options, too. There's a full range of furniture, not just the small cupboards.

child bed with storage

And over in Sweden, Micki Leksaker AB makes this child's bed with built-in storage (and an adorable storage box). [via Ohdeedoh]

changing table, modern, red

Miguel, in New York, offers this changing table in five different woods, and eight colors. There's a matching dresser.

purple storage cubbies

Finn & Hattie is the children's line from the always-colorful Maine Cottage. Update on Jan. 17, 2010: Finn & Hattie seems to have disappeared.

orange changer with drawers

If you follow children's furniture, you probably already know about ducduc; that's ducduc's 3-drawer changer. It's available in seven colors, and either a light wood (as shown) or white.

room full of colorful children's furniture - crib, dresser, armoire, changing table

Most of the lovely children's furniture from Pali is more restrained than this fanciful line, called Sole. (You can read Pali's environmental policies on-line, too.) Update on Jan. 17, 2010: The Sole line is no longer shown on the Pali web site.

fanciful child's closet / wardrobe

And finally, Haba, based in Germany, has a number of products - including this new knight wardrobe. Haba products tend to be widely available; I'm not seeing this specific piece anywhere except the Haba web site, but I am finding the matching storage bench a number of places, including here and here. Update on Jan. 17, 2010: Both the wardrobe and the storage bench have been discontinued.

Related Posts:
European Furniture for Kids
Wardrobes for Kids (if you want to splurge)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Around the World with Colorful Storage Furniture

brightly-colored furniture

Apartment Therapy is running its Fall Colors contest - which has me inspired to show you more options for colorful storage.

Let's start with Giorgio Piotto, which sure has some wake-you-up colors. One place to get this furniture, outside of Italy, is Nella Vitrina in New York.

red cupboard

Cocopa in Colorado has a color palette with 20 options; you can get this cupboard in any of them. Cocopa says: "We use formaldehyde-free adhesives and low-VOC paints and finishes to improve our customers' indoor air quality, and build with rustic vintage reclaimed pine from America's heartland, as well as FSC and SFI certified lumber.

four orange storage pieces

Furniturea, in Maine, has 24 colors to choose from for their bookcases or other storage pieces. [via Apartment Therapy]

blue cabinet

There is some pretty stunning custom work out there, too - like this piece from Sherborn Woodworks in Massachusetts.

red bookcase

And this red bookcase from Thomas Cobb Custom Furniture Makers in the U.K. is stunning, too. Update on Oct. 2, 2103: The Thomas Cobb website has disappeared.

aqua cabinet

At a more affordable price, there's this aqua cabinet from Oliver Bonas - only available in stores in the U.K. Update on Jan. 17, 2010: The aqua cabinet is no longer shown on the web site.

blue chest

And if you're in New Zealand, you can go to Crabapple Cottage Furniture. Update on Jan. 17, 2010: The web site for this company has disappeared.

yellow tower bookcase

French Heritage has a number of colorful options; this is the company's yellow tower bookcase, in the Maison du Soleil collection.

green kitchen cabinet

And finally, you could get a kitchen cabinet imported to the U.S. from Mexico.

I know there's a lot of the world I left out, so if you'd like to point me to something from your area, that would be nice!

Related Posts:
10 Options for Colorful Storage
12 More Options for Colorful Storage