Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Three Recipe Boxes (and a Basket)

recipe box and cards, bright pink, image of unicorn

Recipe boxes are nothing new - but this unicorn box from ChristopherAndTia sure is! It's always interesting - at least to me - to see the many variations people devise for such a basic organizing product. The same image that's on the cards is also on the lid of the box. Update on Feb. 15, 2011: it seems that Christopher and Tia are no longer making these boxes - although they can still make extra cards for people who bought the boxes previously.

patterned recipe box

Over at Jocole, you can design your own recipe box, selecting from a wide range of patterns - or even using one of your own.

bamboo wood recipe box

Levenger sells "tools for serious readers" - so I guess in this case the company means readers of cookbooks and magazines with recipes. Update on Dec. 31, 2010: Levenger no longer sells this product.

recipe basket

And finally, Longaberger has two different recipe baskets. Update on Feb. 15, 2011: I'm no longer finding either of these on the Longaberger web site.

In other news: I'm off on vacation! There won't be any new posts until May 3, but expect some great new ideas then.

Monday, April 20, 2009

April 2009 Organizing Tips and More

decorated paint can

My April 2009 newsletter is now available.

Tip of the Month: Buying Well, to Avoid Future Clutter

Product of the Month: Altered paint cans

Donation Idea of the Month: Operation Happy Note

Also included: Quote of the Month

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Solving the CD Storage Challenge

CD wall shelving unit, 1200 CD capacity

Do you have a serious CD collection - one you cherish and intend to keep? Do you want to keep the CDs in the jewel cases? Here are some of the nicest storage options I've seen. Note: Many of these companies also make DVD storage, but I'm going to focus on the CD options.

Let's start with the shelves. This wall unit from Wood Technologies stores 1200 CDs; there's a smaller version for 600 CDs.

shelf for 296 CDs

Over in the U.K., Chris Sharp Cabinets makes this shelf which holds 296 CDs; a smaller version holds 148.

wall-mounted shelf holding 330 CDs

Jeremy Barnes makes wall-mounted CD shelves that hold 330 CDs.

CD shelving

And Wilkins & Kent in Australia makes CD cabinets in various sizes, storing 300 to over 1,000 CDs.

6-shelf CD rack holding 40 CDs per shelf

Coming back to the U.S., and moving away from wood, Topdeq sells these Cubos CD racks that hold 40 CDs per shelf. They come in 6-shelf and 11-shelf versions. Update on Nov. 1, 2009: Topdeq is closing its U.S. operation. You can still find the Cubos CD racks on the other Topdeq sites: Germany, France, etc.

CD cabinet stores 480 CDs in 12 drawers

Prefer an enclosed cabinet? Lombok has CD cabinets in two styles, and two sizes; this one stores 480 CDs.

CD apothecary chest

Stan Pike is a furniture maker; one of his specialties seems to be apothecary cabinets, including CD apothecary chests.

CD cabinet

Charles Matts makes a different type of CD cabinet.

CD cabinet, steel, 3-drawer, 270 cds per drawer

If you like the look of steel rather than wood, you might consider the Can-Am cabinets, with two to four drawers, each of which holds 270 CDs. They come in a range of colors, too.

stacking CD cabinets, green

And you can stack them, so you can start out with a smaller size and add on as needed.

media storage cabinet configured for CDs

Finally, Bisley also makes cabinets designed for CDs; each drawer holds 120 of them, arranged in three rows.

Related Posts:
Saving Space: Storing CDs Without the Jewel Cases
3 Unusual CD Holders
Storing the Vinyl Record Collection: What to Do with the LPs
Record Album Storage: A Stunning Cabinet and Other Options

Thursday, April 16, 2009

No Clothes Closet? No Problem!

Asian-style wardrobe

How do you store your clothes when you don't have enough closet space? (Or maybe you don't have closets at all!) The typical answer is to use a wardrobe (or an armoire); these come in a huge range of styles and prices. The one above comes from my blog sponsor, Greentea Design; Greentea has other sizes and styles, too.


And here's a very different look, from Studio Becker.

Italian wardrobe

And the Furniture Store Blog featured this wonderful Italian wardrobe a few days ago; see the blog for more details.

pull-out wardrobe

Here's a different take on the wardrobe, from Naomi Dean - who says it is "coming soon." [via Cribcandy]

wood garment rack

Another approach would be a garment rack. This is one of the prettier ones I've seen. Update on Nov. 18, 2015: The site that I found this on is no longer selling this rack.

wall-mounted garment rack

There are wall-mounted garment racks, too.

wall-mounted garment rack

Professional organizer Karen Sheesley introduced me to the QuikCloset (and the InstaHanger) yesterday.

wall coat rack with hangers

Here's a wall-mounted option from Topdeq; you can check out the company's other options, too. Update on May 10, 2011: Topdeq no longer has a U.S. site, but it does have sites for a number of other countries; I've linked to the French one for this specific product. I've since found it's the Cubix wall, from Pieperconcept.

clothes rack fixture

clothes rack fixture

For even more ideas, you could check places selling store fixtures, such as the two above.

And you can find yet more here:
- My post about the pogoCloset.
- Apartment Therapy's post on using chains and hangers.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ask the Organizers: Storage Baskets for Cubbies

square basket

Want to put baskets or bins in your shelving with cubes/cubbies? On the last Twitter #askorg session, someone asked about baskets for 13" by 13" cubbies: something between IKEA and Gracious Home - with quality, but not too pricey.

Well, I've been able to find a few square storage containers that would fit. Pottery Barn has some nice 12" by 12" baskets, in dark and light shades.

square basket with cat

This basket from the U.K. is a 12" cube - maybe too pricey, but I couldn't pass up this photo. Update on Aug. 11, 2013: I think this came from Great British Baskets, but I don't see it on the company's site any more.

cube basket, 30 cm

Tomo Tala in the U.K. has cube baskets, too, measuring 30 cm (11.8"). Update on Aug. 11, 2013: Tomo Tala seems to have disappeared.

square raffia basket

And I'm totally taken by the raffia baskets sold by TakaTomo.de, in three different color options. These measure 30 x 30 x 20 cm. You can also see them at the Rice web site. Update on Aug. 11, 2013: These now measure 30 x 30 x 25 cm; the website mentions that they fit the IKEA Expedit.


Not quite square - the larger size measures 12 x 11 x 10.25"h - are these baskets from Land of Nod, "featuring sturdy, hand-woven paper rope construction."

canvas collapsible storage bin 12 inches square

And if the storage doesn't have to be a basket, you could consider canvas options. The one above comes from World Market; there are a number of different patterns, plus some solid colors. These are collapsible, and they measure 12" by 12". Update on Aug. 11, 2013: World Market no longer carries  these.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Shop Worth Knowing: Three Potato Four

bread tin

Looking for storage options with character? Take a look at Three Potato Four! I found this site through The Haystack Needle, and I'm so grateful to Jen for the pointer. Note that vintage items will sell out - and others may, too - so the specific pieces listed here may not be available later. But there will probably be new wonderful things to admire. I'm just trying to give you an idea of the range of things available. I've been having a wonderful doing some virtual window shopping.

The item above is a vintage Hovis bread tin, size small - there's a larger one available, too.

burlap bucket

Another option are the burlap buckets from Mayamade - each one is "re-purposed from a recycled (fair trade) coffee sack." (Maya also has an Etsy shop, but every time I look, there are no buckets in stock.)

ruler box

I'm very fond of this vintage hardware store yardstick tray organizer, which seems to be a one-of-a-kind item.

wooden salt codfish box

There are also a few different old wooden salt codfish boxes.

elephant stapler

For a change of pace, here's a wooden elephant stapler from the 1960s.

apple coathanger

And moving beyond containers, the apple coathangers, in three different colors, are another organizing option.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Furniture Focus: Barrister Bookcases

Hale 300 series barrister bookcases

I first learned about barrister bookcases from The New York First Company, which sells the 300 Series from Hale. Why is it called a barrister bookcase? Wikipedia has a nice explanation.
A barrister requires the use of many law books and may frequently move to new chambers. A specialised form of portable bookcase has thus developed to meet their needs. A barrister's bookcase consists of several separate shelf units that may be stacked together to form a cabinet. An additional plinth and hood complete the piece. When moving chambers, each shelf is carried separately without needing to remove its contents and becomes a carrying-case full of books.
But you may not care whether your barrister bookcase can actually be carried with the books in place; you may just like the look, and the glass protecting the contents.

Hale 300 series barrister bookcase

Hale makes two lines of barrister bookcases for the home. Here's a close-up of that 300 series, with what Hale calls the "Quaint English" design.

Hale 800 series barrister bookcase

And here's the 800 series - a more contemporary look.

Ethan Allen barrister bookcase

Ethan Allen has a nice-looking option - but it appears to be a one-piece version, not a true barrister bookcase.

steel lawyers bookcase

For a totally different look, you could get a steel version. This lawyers bookcase comes from Sonrisa. [via Apartment Therapy]

And, of course, barrister bookcases don't have to be used only for books.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

For Passover: A Poem About To-Do Lists

As we approach the Jewish holiday of Passover - a celebration of freedom - I wanted to share a related reflection. These are just the first few lines from The plague is the "to do" list, by Bonnie J. Morris. You can read the full poem in Lilith, Winter 2008-09 edition.
Just for once, I am all caught up.
And this should be the mantra,
The brucha, the Haggadah:

Freedom from our slavery is
The tearing up of lists.

Let those errands go.

[Image: Passover preparation to-do list from Chabad]

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Organizing Angst and Answers in 140 Characters

Twitter image

Twitter sent me these gems recently - and I've also included one of my tweets that others seemed to like.

The angst:
@David Lebovitz: I feel bad. I accidentally deleted an email that was 17" long. But as soon as I did, my headache went away. And now I feel better.

@David Lebovitz: The only downside to all this Indian cooking is where the heck does one store all these spices?

@FreeRangeMom: dang kids lost my dang car keys, dang it.

The answers, from the askorg session last week:
@OrganizeAtlanta: Purging: Make a box and label it "GUILT" and put in all the stuff you save out of obligation. Then realize you don't really like it.

@JeriDansky: If it's something you say is "OK" - do you have room in your life for things that are just OK?

More advice:
@OrganizingWiz: The same organizing tools don't work for every person; if you don't succeed at 1st, try changing the tool (i.e. To Do List vs. Tickler file)

Advice, of sorts - one person's answer, caught on a re-tweet:
@theredheadsaid: RT @lynnweingarten:OLD MOLDY SALSA dumped on torn up financial documents before final disposal is my identity theft deterrent of choice

And a reflection:
@bobulate: Talking about your to-do list is just a way of not doing.

Related posts:
Short Takes: A Decluttering Tale, Told on Twitter
A Whole Lot of Organizing Going On

Monday, April 6, 2009

Garage Sales - Love Them or Leave Them?

large garage sale sign

Me, personally? I've never had a garage sale (or yard sale or tag sale), and I can't remember ever going to one, either. But if you're trying to decide if a garage sale is right for you, here are some things to consider.

1. You can make a reasonable amount of money.

A commenter on Creative Organizing wrote, "A few years ago we had a lot of items to sell, furniture, lots of kids/baby clothes, lawn equipment and tools, etc. Held it over two days and made over $500. It was worth it for the amount we made and what we had to sell."

Matt on Unclutterer took in about $500, too.

And over on Ask MeFi, Mozzie says, "If you live in a nice area, having a yard sale can be crazy productive."

2. A lot of people don't make much money.

"Your stuff is worth less than you think," says Lori, on Unclutterer. And timgray chimes in, saying,"If your $100.00 jeans are in a yard sale they are worth $1.00."

And here's some perspective from Real Simple: Carey Rademacher, creator of ItsDeductible, a donation-valuation software program, always donates clothing instead of trying to sell it. "A bagful of brand-name or designer clothing could be worth a $250 tax deduction versus a fraction of that at your sale―if the clothes sell at all," she says.

Stephanie on Get Rich Slowly says she actually lost money participating in a neighborhood yard sale.

3. It delays the "getting rid of it" process until the day of the sale, which can be frustrating. Many people want something gone as soon as they decide to part with it.

As a commenter on Creative Organizing wrote, "There is nothing worse than making the decision to get rid of something...and then have it hanging around."

4. It's a lot of work.

Chris, commenting on Unclutterer, says, "The best time for a yard sale is NEVER. The time spent organising, running and cleaning up after a yard sale makes them pretty pointless as a cash-generating exercise. Do yourself a favour: call up a charity, estimate the value of the goods, and use the receipt to lower your taxes."

And over on I'm an Organizing Junkie, Lucinda writes, "I’d rather have my teeth cleaned than have a G-Sale."

5. There's a chance of theft, if you're not careful.

One bit of obvious advice here is to keep your house locked, and don't allow people in to use your bathroom.

MrVisible says on LifeHacker: Keep your money in a belt, something like a toolbelt at your waist. Don't use a money box. People run off with them. It can be annoying.

And Get Rich Slowly concurs: Do NOT use a cash box. Carry your money on you at ALL times. You don’t want to present a target for casual thieves. More than that, you don’t want to be duped by professional swindlers who run distraction con games.

And keep an eye on your merchandise. As SaraAB87 says on Consumerist: Don't leave cd's and other disks in their cases, THEY WILL GET STOLEN!

But here's another issue, mentioned by Chip Thomas on Unclutterer: "We listed that we had multiple TV’s for sale in our ad in the paper. ... Unfortunately, we didn’t realize this made us a target for a night before burglary attempt."

6. Some people think they're fun!

As Mark Silver commented on steve-olson.com: "I would grieve to lose the yard sale as a social form. It’s just fun to drive through town, or bicycle, and come across yard sales. It’s like a treasure hunt.

"And, when we did it, we had fun at it - hanging out in the yard, chatting with people who came by, including friends. When we’ve gone through neighborhoods where several yard sales are in the same block, it’s clear that many of them are having a great time, sipping ice tea, hanging out while the kids play.

"As a financial opportunity, it’s just eh. But, as a social ritual, and a way to keep the secret economy of junk circulating, it’s quite fun."

And Matthew Cornell added, "For me the biggest plusses of a garage sale is 1) socializing locally, 2) selling locally (reduced pollution, gas use, …), and 3) just hanging out."

If you want to have a garage sale, here are some useful guides:

[Picture: Garage sale sign sold by Sassy Signs]

Related information, from my newsletter:
10 Ways to Get Rid of Your Stuff

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fantasy-World Organizing

home office, perfectly organized

Are you comparing your home or office to those you see in magazines or catalogs? Thanks to Cool Mom Picks, I just read the following wise words about "org porn" on Buttoned Up. The people quoted, Alicia and Sarah, are the site's founders, who are also the authors of Everything (Almost) in Its Place.
“Org porn is that glossy, airbrushed fantasy world where everything is pristine, serene and perfectly in order, sort of Playboy, but with chore charts and name-plated cubbyholes,” said Sarah Welch. “It’s everywhere you look these days: in magazines, coffee table books, advertisements, and TV shows. ...

“Don’t get us wrong, gazing at beautiful images of meticulously organized rooms, perfectly displayed collections, color-coordinated closets, flawless family schedules, pristine kitchens, tidy mud rooms, and picture-perfect work spaces can be titillating – even meditative. There’s a reason we call it ‘org porn,’” said Alicia Rockmore. “But when they become the primary yardstick by which you measure your own general state of organization is when it becomes unhealthy. An airbrushed land of perfect organization cannot be sustained in this messy, unpredictable world called real life.”
And there's the same kind of issue in the time management realm, as Abagael MacAskill writes. She's a homeschooling mom, but similar unrealistic expectations plague many parents - and non-parents, too.
I head off to the first of a day full of seminars directed at every conceivable aspect of homeschooling. At the first seminar a woman who is the mother of seven, speaks on organizing your house and your day, while simultaneously educating your children. As I walk away at the end I marvel at how she makes her own bread, volunteers at three or four charities weekly, crosses the country 6 months out of the year giving lectures on this topic, AND still manages to educate her seven children to genius status. I have two children at home and sometimes none of us make it out of our PJs by three in the afternoon and my sink is always full of dishes. ...

Homeschoolers are under scrutiny by everybody - the media, the government, the school district, extended family and even sometimes the neighbors. Because of this constant judging I think as homeschoolers we tend to overcompensate and present an unreasonable picture of perfection to the world of what homeschooling is like. Then we begin to believe it ourselves. Since it is not really perfection and never will be on this side of heaven we have set ourselves up for disappointment, failure and burnout.
So many of us see examples of people who seem to cope perfectly - they have time for everything, their homes are perfectly organized all the time. I don't know anyone like that in real life.

Related Post:
Organizing on TV: Illusion vs. Reality

[Picture from The Container Store]

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Organizing with an Easter Theme

magnet - bunny oh scooter

Bunnies and baskets and eggs, oh my! It's almost Easter, so here's my collection of organizing tools that fit with the holiday. I'm not seeing a whole lot that appeals to me, but I did find a few things I think are pretty special. For example, I'm quite taken with this magnet from PearsonMaron.

magnet - dinosaurs in bunny masks

And while it might be stretching things a bit to call this an Easter-themed item, I do love this magnet with the dinosaurs in bunny masks, designed by Heather Hansma.

Easter box with hare

Here's an Easter cloth box with a March hare, by Rosablue. Update on March 23, 2010: I no longer see this product on the Rosablue web site.

bunny chocolate box

For those us who have loved Joseph Schmidt chocolates and the lovely boxes they came in, this is our last chance to add to our collections; Easter 2009 will be the final season for the chocolates, and no more will be sold after June 30.

Easter basket

One place to get a nice Easter basket is the Peterboro Basket Company.

egg coin bank, orange

Moving on to eggs, here's the J Schatz egg bank, available in nine different colors. [via the nice person who commented on Apartment Therapy]

Related Post: Easter-ish Storage: Beyond the Typical Easter Basket