Saturday, October 31, 2009

October 2009 Organizing Tips and More

returned peace corps volunteer international calendar

My October 2009 newsletter is now available.

Tip of the Month: Organizing Your Computer Files

Organizing Product of the Month: Returned Peace Corps Volunteer International Calendar

two mittens

Recycling/Reuse Idea of the Month: Glove Love [via Springwise]

Also included: Organizing Quote of the Month and some Twitter tidbits

Friday, October 30, 2009

Some Last-Minute Halloween Suggestions - for Next Year, Perhaps?

I haven't bought my Halloween candy yet; I was planning on doing that today. But having just read about Books for Treats, I'm having second thoughts. I've been meaning to thin my collection of children's books; rather than selling or Freecycling the ones I no longer want, maybe I'll give them away at Halloween instead!

I grinned when I read how well this has worked for some who've done it in the past:
What will the kids think about getting books instead of candy?

Our experience is that kids, as well as their parents, are thrilled by receiving books for treats. They are much more enthusiastic than we have ever seen them when we gave candy.

We have witnessed many children running to the sidewalk waiving a new treasure yelling "Mom, look! I got a book!" We also saw a group of kids standing on the sidewalk showing each other their books. And we heard one girl greet a friend coming from the other direction "Hey, this house gives books! Cool!"
If you'd prefer not to give candy - not even tasty fair trade chocolates like this or this - and the book idea just isn't your thing, you can see a list of other options from Green Halloween and The Lemonade Stand. If you're going this route, pick carefully so you don't create clutter in someone else's home! I especially like the Lemonade Stand list because it focuses on craft supplies - a consumable, and something that most families I work with would certainly appreciate.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

He or She is History: Now What About the Stuff?

teddy bear with heart saying I Love You

While many people will use avenues such as garage sales, eBay, craigslist, Freecycle, and donations to thrift stores - or just the garbage can - to get rid of items that bring back unhappy memories, Jonathan Carroll writes of a different approach:
An unusual Croatian exhibition is traveling around Europe. 'The Museum of Broken Relationships' is the name of the exhibition that has already visited Bosnia Herzegovina, Slovakia and Germany. ... Anyone can visit the exhibition and bring any things relevant to ex-relationships and ex-partners. ...

The main point of the exhibit is to get rid of these painful reminders in a public way. Therapists say that the idea is also good from a psychological point of view. They explain that giving away things that remind us of our ex-partners is the first step towards ridding the heart of its pain and a way of doing something creative with it.
The museum's web site says:
The museum has everything from romantic and touching letters to different gifts given to lovers like teddy bears and photos, but also such unusual examples as leg prosthesis donated by a war veteran who fell in love with his physiotherapist or a gall stone. Every single object on display is anonymous, and has a description / story related to the relationship.
Want to participate without waiting for the exhibit to arrive in your area? You can mail off your contribution to Croatia!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fabulous Felt Boxes and Baskets

felt box, green

For colorful, a bit out-of-the-ordinary storage - the kind that sits out on a shelf, not away in a garage, basement, or attic - you might look to felt boxes and baskets. This lovely felt box comes from Picciolo, over on Etsy. [via UK Handmade]

felt basket

This felt basket comes from Muskhane.

felted basket

And this felted basket comes from Én Gry og Sif. You can also find some of the company's felted baskets here.

felt boxes

Here's a different approach - these felt boxes ship flat, making them easy to store in between uses. [via Mighty Goods]

On a separate note: This is my blog anniversary; I published my first post on Oct. 27, 2006. My thanks to everyone who has supported me these past three years!

Related Posts:
Soft Storage: Felt Baskets or Boxes
An Homage to Etsy: Felted Bowls, Incredible Baskets, and More

Monday, October 26, 2009

Watches - Because Some of Us Still Rely on Them to Keep Us on Track

Mondaine Swiss Railways watch with red strap, men's

While many people are giving up on watches and just using their cell phones for determining the time, some of us still like to wear a watch. And some of us, with older eyes, like simple easy-to-read watches - ones that don't have a lot of other functions, but still have a bit of pizazz.

Since I'm one of those people, I've been looking at what's available. The Mondaine Swiss Railways watches were the first to really catch my eye. There are a number of models for both men and woman. [via the San Francisco Chronicle]

lovely longines watch

Another lovely watch is the Longines LungoMare model L35094762.

Alessi Luna watch, red

And then there's the Luna watch from Alessi, available from Unica Home and Emmo Home (among others).

If someone else knows of another watch along the same lines, please let us know in the comments.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Recycling Made Super Simple

Mary Kay mail in recycle bags

We want to do the right thing, and keep reusable and toxic materials out of landfill - but we also have busy lives. So anything that makes recycling easier is a good thing!

I used to go to the post office to pick up postage-paid envelopes for recycling inkjet cartridges - but when I went recently, the post office no longer had them. (I see it was a pilot program.)

So I was delighted when Mary Key consultant Viv Tracy told me about the Mary Kay program using the postage-paid envelopes shown above. (Mary Kay pink! Easy to spot!) You can recycle both printer cartridges and cell phones through this program.

Mary Kay has partnered with Access Computer Products Inc. Since the Access web site doesn't (yet) have much information about how they do their recycling, I called the company and spoke to someone, and I'm now comfortable that their practices are indeed responsible; you won't be contributing to the problems described in my earlier post.

Other organizations offer similar programs; for example, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has the RSPB Recycling Appeal which uses Freepost envelopes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Five Fantastic Magazine Racks

revolving magazine rack / table

Looking for a very special way to save and display your current - or special - magazines? This revolving magazine rack/table might do! But there are a number of other very nice choices, too. Update on April 16, 2014: I'm no longer finding this product, which seems to come from Usha Lexus in India, available for sale on any websites.

magazine rack, wood

Staying with beautiful wood pieces, let's admire this magazine rack from Niels Jensen of Quebec.

magazine tree

And here's a magazine tree from Indiana for Modern. Update on March 5, 2011: I'm no longer seeing this piece on the Indiana for Modern web site. But here's the piece it seems to have been based upon: the Edward Wormley for Dunbar magazine tree stand rack, from the 1950s.

magazine stand

For a very different approach, see the Motion magazine stand from Innersmile. [via netspaze] Update on March 5, 2010: You can buy this magazine rack directly from Innersmile.

leather magazine rack

And finally, here's a leather magazine rack - one of a number made by the Asis family.

Related Posts:
Magazine Racks: Some Mighty Fine Choices
Magazine Racks for Any Room

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Reader Question: Planners for the Side of a Fridge

dry erase monthly planner

I've always wanted to find a calendar that can 1) be attached to the side of the fridge, 2) can have a wipe off marker feature, and 3) is large enough to accommodate a family schedule. If you ever run into such a product I would love to hear about it. --Jason, commenting on this post

Jason, you're in luck; a number of companies make products that might work for you. If you happen to live in the U.K, you can get the Gripping Stuff dry erase calendar (sold online here).

magnetic dry erase fridge calendar

Customized Creations can make you a magnetic-backed dry erase refrigerator calendar using stock photography or one of your photos. You can get a number of formats, too - including a standard monthly block, a weekly calendar with name rows like the one shown above, and more.

family magnetic calendar

More Time Moms has a family magnetic calendar.

dry erase magnetic calendar

Adornit Decor has a number of lovely dry erase magnetic calendars. [via ListEn iN] Update on Oct. 28, 2010: I'm not finding these calendars any more.

magnetic fridge planner

And then there's the Juicy Lucy magnetic fridge planner. Update on Oct. 28, 2010: The Juicy Lucy web site says this product is not available.

magnetic weekly planner pad

The final two planners aren't what Jason wanted - they are pads, not dry erase boards. But maybe they will work for someone else! BusyBodyBook has magnetic 7-column undated weekly grid pad, with 52 pages. Update on Sept. 30, 2014: This product is no longer available.

magnetic weekly reminder pads

And Lake Erie Gifts & Decor has magnetic weekly reminders in four different patterns; each pad has 55 sheets. Update on Sept. 30, 2014: It doesn't seem that these were sold after calendar year 2013.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Calendars to Manage Your Time - and Help a Good Cause

Dog Days 2010 calendar

Update on Oct. 28, 2010: Although this post features 2010 calendars, some of the organizations noted have 2011 versions available now (or coming soon); the links have been updated to point to the new calendars.

Animal shelter and rescue organizations and humane societies often create some very nice calendars; here's just a sampling. The Dog Days calendar above is created by Sutton Studios to benefit a number of agencies in the Chicago area. Update on Oct. 28, 2010: There doesn't appear to be a 2011 version of this calendar.

Boston Buddies 201o calendar - Boston terriers

Boston Buddies comes from Southern California Boston Terrier Rescue. Check out the web site to see all the interior pages. Update on Oct. 28, 2010: There doesn't seem to be a 2011 version of this calendar, either.

Paws & Claws 2010 humane society calendar

The Humane Society of Northwest Montana uses illustrations by artist Jane Kleinschmidt on its 2010 Paws & Claws calendar. Update on Oct. 28, 2010: This group does have a 2011 calendar, this time with photos by Harley Mumma.

Atlanta pet rescue calendar

And the 2010 calendar from Atlanta Pet Rescue features the work of pet photographer Leesia Teh. Update on Oct. 28, 2010: 2011 calendars are coming soon.

dachshund rescue calendar 2010

While I spoke about the Dallas-Fort Worth Dachshund Rescue Foundation's calendar back in November 2008, it's so stunning I had to show this year's, too. Update on Oct. 28, 2010: The 2011 calendar is equally compelling!

greyhound rescue calendar
Clarks Farm Greyhound Rescue has produced its first calendar. Update on Oct. 28, 2010: There's no indication this group will be producing a calendar for 2011.

And the Detroit Lions / Friends For the Dearborn Animal Shelter Pet Calendar looks like it will be pretty great, too. You can see the terrific photos from the photo shoot (which are copyright protected) at the Detroit Free Press web site. [via Nancy Nall] Update on Oct. 28, 2010: There's a 2011 version of this calendar available.

Other 2010 Calendar Posts:
First Look: 2010 Calendars
16 Organizers and Planners for Moms and Families

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hard Choices: Best Organizing Web Site or Blog

Los Angeles Organizing Awards 2010

Want to read some other good organizing blogs?

I'm thrilled to be nominated, for the second time, as Best Organizing Web Site or Blog; if you want to vote for me, login here and cast your ballot. You have until December 15, but why procrastinate?

But I'm also thrilled to be in such good company. Three of the other nominees are blogs I subscribe to because of their consistent high quality. If you want to vote for one of them, you won't hurt my feelings!

Clutter Diet blog

The Clutter Diet, by Lorie Marrero, offers much more than just a blog - but I'm going to focus on the Clutter Diet blog for now. Lorie has a way of taking good solid organizing advice and adding a telling story, or a turn of phrase, that makes me sit up and take notice. She also has sense of humor!

To get a taste of Lorie's writing, go to these posts:
- Organizing Magic Wand Now Available (but note the date on this post)
- 7 Unusual Scheduling Tips to Save Your Time & Sanity
- It's So Totally ME!

You can also follow ClutterDiet on Twitter, and read Lorie's great ClutterTweetTips!

Creative Organizing blog with Aby Garvey

Simplify 101, by Aby and Jay Garvey, also offers more than a blog - but again, let's focus on Aby's Creative Organizing blog for now. Aby's everything I'm not - the scrapbooker, the one who will futz around creating lovely do-it-yourself labels. And this difference makes it so much fun for me to read her blog!

To get a taste of Aby's writing, see:
- Make a Quick and Simple Travel Planner
- Budget-friendly scrapbook storage + organizing ideas
- Thoughts on Decluttering

You can also follow Aby on Twitter.


Unclutterer, with editor-in-chief Erin Doland, covers a wide range of organizing issues. From the first moment I saw it, I knew it was bound to be a hit with readers.

To get a feel for Unclutterer, take a look at these posts:
- Prioritizing uncluttering and organizing projects
- Unitasker Wednesday: Lem-O Saver
- Hinge hooks

You can also follow Erin (and Unclutterer) on Twitter; I've enjoyed following Erin, and getting to know a bit more about the woman behind Unclutterer.

Organizing with Etsy for Halloween - and for Dia de los Muertos

coffee sack baskets with crow and black cat

Looking for seasonal organizing-related items? I've found some pretty wonderful items over on Etsy; let's start with these coffee sack baskets by Brin & Nohl. Update on Oct. 10, 2014: I'm no longer seeing any Halloween-themed baskets at Brin & Nohl.

Halloween wooden box with cat and crow

This handpainted vintage wooden box comes from Janie D Mattern's Halloween collection. Update on Oct. 10, 2104: Janie no longer sells this style of box.

3 handpainted nesting boxes with crow, bat, cat

These handpainted nesting boxes come from Beth Logan's artstuff studio.

Dia de los Muertos fabric bin

This Dia de los Muertos fabric bin from Nestings is made to order. Update on Oct. 10, 2014: Sadly, this store has disappeared from Etsy.

Day of the Dead skull magnet

And finally, Herbis Orbis has an amazing collection of Day of the Dead skull magnets.

Update on Nov. 1, 2009: Full disclosure: After this post ran, Anne of Herbis Orbis offered me a couple free magnets. This came as a pleasant surprise, and I accepted. The magnets are delightful!

Update on Oct. 10, 2104: Herbis Orbis is not showing any products in stock, and may be defunct.

Related Post:
Organizing with a Halloween Twist

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Taking Care of an Elderly Parent - and Staying Sane

caregiving - helping elder in a wheelchair

Are you taking care of an elderly parent or other family member? That can become an all-consuming job. Learning how to manage the situation - including when and how to say "no" - is crucial.

Here's what Eldercare Coach Janice Wallace says in her latest newsletter:
Caregiver stress can creep up on you as you gradually do more and more things to help your family member. It's easy to justify adding just one more thing to your groaning to-do list when it's to help your loved one.

When you are doing too much, you will get signals from your body and your mind. ... You may get feedback from family and friends who have noticed how you are changing and express concern. You may receive complaints from family or friends who feel neglected.

Now what? You've thought things through and realized that maybe you do have caregiver stress. Looking at your situation may leave you feeling a bit hopeless. You can see clearly that your family member needs help; how can you possibly do less?

In order to honor your commitment to help your family member, you have to seek the right mix of helping, taking care of yourself and using other resources.
You can read the rest of this article, with Janice's specific advice, on her web site. She's a wise and compassionate woman!

Related Post:
Yet Again: Learning to Say No

Photo credit:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hangers: Going Way Beyond the Ordinary

No one needs hangers like these - or any of the others in this listing. But it's interesting to see what some designers have done with something as basic as a clothes hanger. And these hangers from John Green are made from what would have been wasted material from his production of furniture. Update on Jan. 9, 2019: John Green is no longer selling these hangers.

London hanger

Seeing the John Green hangers reminded me of theses Cityscape hangers. The original company which produced them is no longer in business - but they are back! There's London (shown above), Milan, New York, Paris and Tokyo - and you can also get one custom-designed. Update on Jan. 9, 2019: These hangers are no longer available.

bird coat hanger

Ingibjorg Hanna of Iceland designed this bird coat hanger - which also comes in a trouser version.  Update on Jan. 9, 2019: This hander is no longer available.

recycled paper hangers

The Ditto hangers made from recycled paper come in lots of 100; they're intended for clothing retailers, dry cleaners, etc. [via Apartment Therapy] Update on Jan. 9, 2019: You can now buy these in 10-packs, making them something that individuals might buy, too.

colorful hanger from recycled newspaper

And then there's the Zilka hanger from Ryan Frank, made from recycled British newspapers. Bouf sells them in solid colors and patterns. [via Apartment Therapy]  Update on Jan. 9, 2019: I'm no longer finding any site that sells these.

Related Post:
Hangers: The Basics and Beyond

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Colorful Shelves to Brighten Your Day

wall shelves with garden items

It's been a gray day in Half Moon Bay - with our first big winter storm on the way - so I've been attracted to these bright and cheery shelves. Lagolinea, shown above, seems like a wonderful system - unfortunately, while Lago has stores in a number of European cities, the company doesn't have one in the U.S. [via Freshome]

orange wall shelves in bathroom

Here's one more picture from Lagolinea; the photos were too good to pick just one!

orange wall shelf, with books

The Lorna Shelf from the William Feeney Studio is available in custom sizes and colors. [via Apartment Therapy]

tiles and shelves

The Confetti shelf system has tiles in four colors, which you can arrange as you like, and then add the shelves between the tile grooves. [via Switched On Set]

red wall shelf

The Waveform shelf comes from Plodes Studio, and is available in 12 colors. [via Better Living Through Design]

small shelf for books, blue

If you need just a little wall shelf - for some books by the reading chair or the bed - you could get the Bookhouse by David Restorick Interiors. (Yes, book lovers, I know that placing the book on the top like that isn't good for the book. You wouldn't have to put one there.) [via Designspotter]

green shelving, sort of a tree shape

And if you have $3,500 to spare (or 2,700 euro) you could get Collect, from Normann Copenhagen; spring green is the only color. It's sold here and here.

Related Posts:
Shelving Genre: Surfboard Wall Shelves
Five Options for Wonderful Wall Shelves