Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Letting Go of Mistakes

agenda chats (cats)

Isn't that a darling cat calendar? But how did I not understand that it's a agenda book, not a wall calendar?

Each year I buy someone her calendar for the year, usually with a cat theme. I thought I'd get her something different this year, and ordered this one from Amazon in France - and this one, too! (I couldn't pick, and I knew she could always use two wall calendars.)

But once they arrived, I saw my error. First, I checked with my friend to make sure she couldn't use them - and sure enough, she really couldn't. (I've since bought her a nice wall calendar I found at a local store.)

Then I had to decide what to do with the incredibly cute agendas. I realized I wasn't going to use them myself - and then I did what I advise my clients to do, and found them new homes. After all, we're just starting the new year - if I'm going to give them away, this is the time to do it. So I listed them on my local Freecycle group, and they are going to two people who will use them and get joy from them.

And now I don't have them sitting around, reminding me of my mistake. "Done is done," as Morgaine said in The Mists of Avalon. I might as well start 2009 without the darling (but useless) agendas cluttering my home.

Monday, December 29, 2008

For 2009: Keep Calm and Carry On (or not)

Keep Calm and Carry On rug

We've seen Keep Calm posters, tote bags, t-shirts, and mugs. We've seen Keep Calm wall decals. And now we have the Keep Calm and Carry On rug. [via Swiss Miss] Update on Oct. 24, 2011: The company that was selling these, Pedlars, no longer carries it.

January-March of Keep Calm and Carry On spoof calendar

If you're a bit tired of the whole Keep Calm craze, you might like the alternative t-shirt. But whether you're a fan or not, you might like this spoof calendar from little brown pen. Here's January: Make Resolution and Break Immediately. You can also get the calendars on little brown pen's Etsy shop, where there's both a women's version (which includes the pages shown above) and a men's version. Update on April 2, 2011: I'm no longer finding this product.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Nice Bookends Don't Have to Cost $685

elegant expensive brass bookends

Do you know how hard it is to find nice bookends? -- Salvatore LaRosa

The brass bookends above, designed by Austrian modernist Carl Auböck, used to be available at Design Within Reach for $498 (on sale from $750). Maybe the store decided that price wasn't "within reach" for most of its customers, because DWR doesn't carry them any more. But you can get them from The Shop at Cooper-Hewitt for $685 - less if you're a museum member. [via Better Living Through Design and roadside scholar]

scrolled wrought iron bookends

Looking for something less expensive? Here are some wrought iron bookends. Update on Jan. 14, 2013: The store that sold these is now closed.

bookend pair that say BOOK and END

And here are some self-explanatory bookends.

man and woman bookends

Decor Craft provides this pair of bookends. Update on Jan. 31, 2011: I'm no longer finding these bookends on the web.

Alessi bookend

And Alessi has this bookstand.

spatula bookends

These spatula bookends might appeal to a chef. I'm hoping they have enough heft to be effective. Update on June 8, 2011: I'm no longer finding these bookends.

cherry wood bookends

These cherry bookends look lovely - but again, I wonder about the heft.

cast iron bridge bookends

Heft would not be an issue with these cast iron bridge bookends.

Empire State Building bookends

Restoration Hardware has a number of architectural bookends, cast in brass: the Golden Gate Bridge, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Roman Coliseum - and the Empire State Building. (And they're currently on sale.) [via Apartment Therapy] Update on June 8, 2011: The selection at Restoration Hardware has changed, and is much more limited.

Asian temple bookends, palace, Forbidden City, Beijing

For another style of architectural bookends, see the resin bookends from Talaria Enterprises. [also via Apartment Therapy]

roller skate book stop

For pure fun, there's this roller skate book stop.

giant jacks bookends

Giant jacks can also be used as bookends.

ibeam steel bookends in blue

The simplicity of these ibeam bookends really appeals to me. They're made from a structural steel beam; a non-slip rubber coating is applied to the bottom. The powdercoating is available in five colors. Update on July 15, 2010 and Jan. 14, 2013: Sadly, the web site that sold these seems to be gone. However, you can get other styles of I beam bookends from Ralph Lauren Home and from Katch Design Co.

marble fragment bookend

And finally, these marble fragments from Studio Vertu Europe make beautiful bookends.

For more interesting bookends, see the prior posts with the dragon bookends, the bird feet bookends, the aleph-tav bookends, and the Leather Zoo bookends.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Magnetic Boards: Beyond the Refrigerator Door

refrigerator door with magnets

Refrigerator doors serve as magnet boards for many of us - but, of course, there are other forms of magnet boards. Here are some of my favorites.

pig magnetic board

Let's start with the animals. The Purple Cow has 10 wonderful animal magnetic art boards to choose from - plus a fairy and a flower.

deer magnet board

The Orange County Museum of Art sells this deer magnet board from Decor Craft. [via Apartment Therapy] Update on Sept. 5, 2010: It seems this product is no longer available.

sheep-shaped magnetic board

And the Conran Shop has this sheep-shaped magnetic board. Update on Sept. 5, 2010: Sadly, this product seems to have disappeared, too.

nest and egg magnet boards, with bird magnets

These nest-and-egg magnet boards come with bird-shaped magnets. (Having just finished reading a wonderful book about Darwin and birds, this one caught my attention even more than it normally would have.)

large magnetic board with kitchen utensils

Moving on from the animals, Beyond the Fridge has a wide range of magnetic boards, in various sizes (and shapes). The one above is the largest. [via Retro To Go]

olives magnetic board

Days Gone By has magnetic boards with olives, coffee beans, and more.

green leather magnetic board, framed

Magnique has lots of options; the ones that caught my eye were the framed leather magnetic boards.

striped fabric magnet board

Over on Etsy, MooreMagnets has magnet boards made with many different fabrics and sizes.

magnet board made with recycled materials; map design fabric

And Etsy seller Polarity has a number of magnet boards made with recycled materials. This one with the map is my personal favorite.

magnetic map board

And finally, as a map aficionado, I appreciated this magnetic world map board.

Related posts:
Deck the Refrigerator Doors for Christmas
A Bulletin Board Alternative: French Ribbon Boards
Now Where Did I Put That Note?
Bulletin Boards Don't Have to Be Boring

[refrigerator door photo by madelinetosh]

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Deck the Refrigerator Doors for Christmas

three magnets, each with a French hen

If you like using your refrigerator doors for art displays or messages, then refrigerator magnets are probably one of your organizing tools. Here are some Christmas-themed magnets, starting with three French hens from Button Boutique on Etsy. Update on Dec. 10, 2010: I'm not seeing any holiday-related magnets at this store any more.

four Christmas / winter magnets

Staying on Etsy, Cakespy has this set of four magnets, mostly with a winter theme - but one of them does have a reindeer. Update on Dec. 10, 2010: This store doesn't have any magnets for sale at this time.

bottlecap Christmas magnets

And Etsy seller JessJaye Designs has bottlecap magnets. Update on Dec. 10, 2010: I'm not seeing holiday magnets on this site any more, either.

3 Christmas magnets: tree, snowflake, star

Beyond the Fridge has lovely simple magnets: trees, stars, snowflakes. Right now there's a special deal if you buy all nine Christmas magnets. Update on Dec. 10, 2010: That special deal is gone - but the magnets are still there!

Christmas peace magnet, with mice

House-Mouse Antics has a numbers of whimsical magnets.

Santa magnet

Wacky Magnets has a number of not-so-wacky magnets for the holidays; although I'm showing a Christmas one, they also have some for Chanukah and Kwansaa - and New Year's Eve. Update on Nov. 7, 2012: I'm no longer seeing any holiday magnets on the site where I first found this. I see a site named Wacky Magnets, but I don't know if its the same company.

Christmas magnet set

This Christmas magnet set is available many places on the web - but even though I usually focus on the unusual, I'm including this one because it looks so pretty. Update on Dec. 10, 2010: This set doesn't seem to be available any more.

Gund reindeer plush animal magnet

This is the a Gund Magnatudes reindeer magnet - Gund plush animals can now come to your refrigerator door! There are "magnets in the 4 paws and in the back."

cow in wreath magnet

And finally, I couldn't resist sharing this cow-in-the-wreath magnet with you.

Related Post:
Refrigerator Doors, Revisited

Monday, December 22, 2008

10 Recipe Boxes to Treasure

Sometimes people ask where I find the inspiration for this blog. Well, sometimes I find a neat product like this recipe box on a site like Apartment Therapy, and then I start wondering what other similar items are out there. And then you get to see the results of my curiosity!

recipe box with measurement equivalents on lid

So, what else is there? Well, this recipe box, for one - with measurement equivalents listed on the lid. Update on Feb. 24, 2014: The website that sold this recipe box is gone.

wooden recipe box with sheep

Foolhardy FolkArt has a couple interesting recipe-sized boxes. Update on Feb. 15, 2011: I'm not longer seeing recipe boxes on this site.

recipe box with sheep

And staying with the sheep theme for a minute, there's this recipe box from Grandma's Farm House. Update on Dec. 31, 2010: This site seems to have disappeared.

hummingbird recipe box

Not interested in sheep? How about a hummingbird recipe box? Update in Dec. 31, 2010: I'm no longer finding this one anywhere.

recipe box with chickens

Gina B. Designs has eight different recipe boxes, including this one with the chickens.

recipe box with cutlery design

This recipe box comes from kikki.K in Australia.

unique recipe box

Iseeamoose creations makes one-of-a-kind recipe boxes. "Each recipe box is covered in a vintage recipe booklet and comes with an eclectic assortment of twenty-eight recipes collected from a variety of antique and unique cook books, as well as nine divider cards."

recipe box with historical design

American Art Traditions makes recipe boxes with historical designs. This one has a "Pennsylvania German pattern ... based on a small chest dated 1787 on display at the Reading Museum."

recipe box with mushroom, fish, bell pepper

And finally, here's one of the colorful recipe boxes from Sticks.

Related posts with other recipe boxes:
Five Recipe Boxes with Flair
Organizing the Recipes in Three Steps

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas and Other Holidays: Donations as Gifts, Part 2

Merry Christmas from St. Jude's Children's research Hospital

Giving a donation as a gift this year? That can be a wonderful idea, but here are three things to consider.

1. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Know your gift recipients. Donations work for some, not for others.

Many people are delighted to get such a gift; others agree with Miss Manners, who had this to say about the gift of a goat (given to a family in need, in another country):
Your friends did not give you a present. They got a twofer out of their philanthropy by merging their gift list with their charity list.
But other people have this type of reaction:
My best friend just sent me a note saying she wasn't buying my kids gifts this year and was instead donating to St. Jude's Children's Hospital in honor of my kids and because she's so grateful that we haven't had to deal with any serious health concerns with them. I thought it was lovely.
[via cooker girl on Metafilter]

2. Consider how to tell people that you're giving a donation in their names. Again, people on Metafilter had some good suggestions; these all have to do with donations to a food bank, but you could use a similar approach for other donations. Here's the first:
In honor of your generous spirit and big heart, this year I've donated to X Foodbank in your name. This donation will feed X # of hungry people and families [surely the food bank can tell you those numbers]. In this time of economic upheaval, it's more important than ever to help in any way we can. I wish you the Merriest of Christmases [or whichever holiday you're celebrating] and a Joyous New Year!
Here's another:
If you have any sort of family tradition of sharing big holiday meals, could you reflect on a memorable holiday meal you all shared. Along the lines of: Do you remember the time Aunt Mabel [did something humorous], and Grandma Betty made a [memorable dish], and we all ate our weight in Uncle Joe's homemade [holiday treat]? I was thinking about how special these holiday meals are, and so for this holiday season, I have donated [$X] to the [foodbank] in your honor, in hopes that another family might be able to make the type of memories we share every year.

two charity gift cards

3. When donating to a charity, you can make a donation directly to that organization in the person's name, or you can buy a gift card which allows the receiver to choose the charity that will benefit. Consumer Reports points out that those charity gift cards often have the same issues as other gift cards: fees, expiration dates, etc. Delays in actually getting the funds to the charities is another issue.

I just did some checking, and here are some of the policies I discovered.

Tisbest says:
Our policy is to transfer funds associated with a Gift Card to the selected charity in the calendar quarter following the calendar quarter in which the card is spent. For example, if a card is spent in the first quarter of a year, we aim to transfer the funds associated with that card to the selected charity in the second quarter of that year. We may transfer funds sooner or later if circumstances dictate.

Unused Charity Gift Cards expire on the 1st anniversary of the date on which the card is purchased. For example, a card purchased on 1/5/2008 expires on 1/5/2009.
And here's Charity Navigator's Good Card, offered through a partnership with Network for Good:
The Good Card expires 12 months after it was purchased.

Are there fees for purchasing a Good Card? There is a $5 fee per Good Card for processing and handling, of which, Charity Navigator receives half. This fee is tax-deductible and it covers the credit card and PayPal charges so that 100% of the gift will be donated to the charity of the recipient's choice. The fee also covers the cost of the physical card with postage or the HTML email delivery to the recipient.
CharityChoice says:
Charity Distribution: The charities are sent funds from designations made to them on our website, quarterly. A modest 10% administrate fee plus $.50 per card is deducted from the funds prior to allocation. ... Cards do not expire and will be honored, for gift-recipient redemption only, at any time.
And here's JustGive:
There is a $5 fee for an online gift card and each additional card is only $2. There is a $5 fee for each mailed gift card, which covers the production and delivery of a GiveNow Card. ... There is no expiration date for gift cards.

Once I redeem a GiveNow Card, how much goes to the charity?
Ninety-seven cents of every dollar you donate. Only three percent is deducted to cover processing costs.
None of this may be a concern to you, but you should still be aware of the terms and conditions of any card you purchase.

[Food bank figures from Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.]

Want more clutter-free gift ideas? You can find links to all articles in this gift-giving series here:
Christmas and Other Holidays: A Clutter-Free Gift Guide