Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Do You Have Your 2011 Calendar or Planner?

Calendar, April 2-11, quatre asperges

If you use an electronic calendar, you don't need to concern yourself with a new calendar as we go into a new year. But if you're a paper-calendar (or planner) person, take a look at some of these calendars!

This totally delightful calendar comes from English Muffin, a small design studio in Montreal. The English version is sold out, but you can still get the French version - and that might be more fun to have, anyway. [via Bloesem]

wall calendar, simple

Another lovely option is the Typographic Calendar from Michelle of Kensington Design & Paperie. As she explains, this 12-month calendar "starts with the month that you order your calendar and includes the 11 months following that."

planner cover with birds
planner interior

If you prefer a planner, Rag & Bone Bindery has some stunning ones. I had to include two pictures, so you could see one of the many covers, as well as the interior.

leather weekly planner

This 2011 planner comes from My Handbound Books; there are seven or so color options.

agenda with connect-the-dots puzzle
diary with connect-the-dots puzzle

This amusing planner comes from Julie Joliat in Switzerland. The first printing sold out, but another printing should become available the first week in January. [via Swissmiss]

wall decal blackboard calendar

The wall decal calendars from Simple Shapes fill a different sort of calendar need.

yellow adhesive tape calendar

And for something totally different, there's the adhesive-tape calendar!

Two other specialized planners are worth noting - although they aren't very eye-catching. If you're a David Allen devotee, you might want to look at the GTD Coordinator. And if you're into long-term planning, you can get a five-year datebook, as I learned from Mighty Goods.

Related Posts:
First Look: 2011 Calendars
Planning Ahead: 2011 Calendars
One Calendar That Deserves a Post All Its Own

After You Declutter the Books: Donating vs. Selling - and Other Options

You've decided you're ready to part with some books - now what do you do with them? Green America does a great job of laying out the alternatives: sell, donate, swap or "set them free."

Here's a perspective from (former) organizer Margaret Lukens (from an e-mail, quoted by permission):
For what it’s worth, my experience with Amazon has not been wonderful. They do everything right, but from my perspective, here’s what happens:

I list a dozen books, or a hundred, whatever.

After weeks or months, someone buys one.

I have 72 hours to drop everything else and correspond with the buyer and wrap and ship the book, for which I will get about $7 on average, unless it’s a paperback, in which case, it won’t buy a latte.

Meanwhile, I’ve still had the box of books to store.

Several weeks or months later, someone buys another.

It’s a heck of a way to earn $7! I’d rather donate them, get the tax benefit, and be done with it.
I'm with Margaret; for many of us, Amazon is too much effort for too little money. Of course, another alternative is selling to a bookstore dealing in used books - a local one, or an online one - as commenter Michelle notes on (the old) Unclutterer:
I had a great experience selling my books online to Powell’s. Just enter the ISBNs, they bid on the books they want to buy, and if you accept the bid they give you the shipping label. You get store credit in exchange, which is quite handy in my grad-student household.

Like most used-book stores, Powell’s will reject some titles on Tuesday but offer to buy them on Wednesday, so I checked back with them several times to see if they’d take any that they’d passed on the first time.
Other people are fans of various book-swapping sites - including Kirk McElhearn, who is especially fond of BookMooch. His whole essay (now gone from the web) was worth reading, but here's one little part:
What is especially interesting about BookMooch, compared with some of the other book trading services, is its international aspect: there are members from 44 countries, and this is increasing daily. For me in France, this is excellent: there are plenty of members in the EU, so I can swap without incurring overseas postage costs. ...

I’m mostly interested in finding homes for my books – the idea of throwing books away is anathema to me, but I’m fast running out of room. If I can give books away, and get other books in exchange, especially books that I’ve wanted to read, this is perfect.
One thing swappers say is that when getting books, be sure to filter out those that come from smoking homes, or those that are marked up, if these things matter to you. And be sure you know the condition; some people got books that were practically falling apart.

And then some people are extremely happy with Bookcrossing, where people register and label their books, give them away or "release them into the wild" - and then follow each book's journey as recipients log in to give updates. You can read the raves over on Lovemarks; here's part of what Corinne in the Netherlands had to say:
Bookcrossing has changed my life. That may sound dramatic, and while it isn't dramatic, it HAS changed my life. In my whole life I have never before met so many warm and generous people in just one year, in just one group, joined by just that one idea of sharing one's books.
Personally, I've sold books to a local bookstore, given them away on Freecycle, and donated them. Bookcrossing sounds intriguing, so I just may have to give that a try. Anyone want to share what YOU'VE done with the books you're done with?

Related Post:
10 Ways to Find New Homes for Your Books

[photo by anna_t of Stockholm, found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons]

Monday, December 27, 2010

A World of Wastebaskets

papier mache wastebasket with cats

Just in case you didn't find a wastebasket to your liking in yesterday's post, here are a few more that are also worth a look. The one above is from the personal collection of artist Nela Dunato of Croatia and is NOT for sale - but it was so wonderful I wanted to share, anyway. [image used with permission of the artist]

felted wastebaskets in lilac, green and orange

These felted ones - in three sizes, and 38 colors! - come from Hey-Sign in Germany and can be bought here. And of course, these lovely items could be used for something other than a wastebasket!

Lego head wastebasket

And here's another fun wastebasket - or papierkorb - I found on a German site. Update on Nov. 21, 2011: I'm no longer finding this on the site where I first saw it, but I found it here.

wastebasket with inner basket and cover

Ideaco - based in Osaka, Japan - brings us the Tubelor, in two different sizes. As Emmo Home says: "Just place trashbags in the inner wastebascket and then cover it with the colorful tube on top, you will never have to worry about the appearance of ugly trashbags again!" You can also get the large and the small versions from MollaSpace. Both Emmo Home and MollaSpace are located in California. [via Apartment Therapy and Better Living Through Design]

reverse glass wastebasket

And while this "reverse glass" wastebasket comes from Peru, it's another one that's sold in the U.S.

You Say Waste Bin, I Say Wastebasket (or Trash Can)

wastepaper basket made from recycled newspaper

And no matter what you call these things, they're essential organizing products.

As we move toward the new year - when many of us work at discarding what hasn't served us in the past, and embracing new goals and ideas - let's take a look at wastebaskets. (Is that too cliched - or too much of a stretch? How about: I cleaned up my bookmarks for wastebaskets, so it's a good time to show you the new ones I've found.) Here's one that is "coming soon" from Pfeifer Studio - a waste bin made from recycled newspaper. Update on Nov. 21, 2011: It's now available for sale.

wastebasket made from recycled Japanese magazines

If you don't want to wait, there's the Translations waste bin, made from Japanese magazines. You can buy this one from ECOutlet (U.K.) or The Travlers Pass (U.S.). Update on Nov. 21, 2011: The Travelers Pass website seems to have disappeared.

wastepaper basket from recycled plastic food wrappers

And then there are these wastepaper baskets from the Spiral Foundation, made in Nepal from discarded plastic wrappers from various food products.

wastebasket with separate container for wet materials

Basketbin, designed by Ding3000, allows you to easily separate paper from "other litter." It's sold by the SFMOMA Museum Store, which says: "Basketbin takes care of a clean separation of wet and dry materials without visually polluting your environment. This bin within a bin is perfect for cities like San Francisco with mandatory waste separation. Use one for compost and the other for recycling. The small bin is dishwasher-safe." SFMOMA sells two colors: white with red, and anthracite (gray) with green. Update on Nov. 21, 2011: The Basketbin is no longer sold by SFMOMA. But I found it for sale here and here.

wastebasket looks like paper bag, but actually polypropylene

Here's an interesting design: the Binbox from Reisenthel. It looks like a paper bag, but it's actually polypropylene. You can get it four colors and two sizes - and there's also biobox insert.

rattan / wicker waste basket with metal liner

Looking for something a bit more traditional? The Basket Lady has some nice wastebaskets.

ribbed trashcan

Cost Plus World Market has these "retro ribbed trashcans" in two different sizes. You can find somewhat similar at the The Conran Shop. [Conran Shop via Retro To Go]

vintage-style wastebasket

Betty-Jane Shreve makes some incredible vintage-style wastebaskets hand-decorated with antique maps or paintings with "New England themes and marine accents." I just spoke with her, and she tells me she has a new line coming soon - maybe in January.

zebra stripe wastebasket

And look at the lovely selection from Worlds Away. As Clayton Gray Home explains, these are handpainted metal. [via Stylebeat]

papier mache wastebasket with butterflies

And if you don't mind spending a LOT of money on a wastebasket, look at the papier mache baskets from R. Pulvermacher Designs. "Each piece is handmade in the Pulvermacher's Florida factory and the decoupage paper is carefully applied by their in house trained artists."

Related Posts:
A Green Wastebasket
Star Wars R2-D2 Trash Can
The Latest Things in Waste Cans
Binvention, from Sprout Design Ltd.
Trashcans with a Green Tinge
6 Wastebaskets You Won't Find Just Anywhere
7 More Wastebaskets You Won't Find Just Anywhere
8 Wastebaskets I Found Today
Wastebaskets and Trashcans, Revisited
Waste Bins and Baskets with Lots of Color

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Reader Question: Those Spare Buttons that Come with Clothes

Any suggestions on how to identify and organize those packages of buttons - and, with sweaters, those bits of yarn?

I just throw them into a container and never get back to them - but I'm not sure I would be able to identify them anyway!

Personally, my buttons are in their envelopes, in the bottom of my very-rarely-used sewing box. They aren't identified in any way, and I don't recall ever using one. So I went looking around to see what other ideas I could find.

It seems lots of people do something similar to what I do - there are lots of button jars out there! But for those who prefer a more organized approach, I found five techniques commonly in use.

1. Just throw them away.

Some people may want to save the buttons for crafts projects or their decorative value - but for those who don't, this can be a perfectly fine option.

On YouLookFab, blessed02 says: "I throw them all away! I’ve never had any occasion to even go looking for one."

And Lisa concurs: "I used to keep them all. At first I would label each button with the name of the item. Soon I progressed to putting them in a Ziploc bag. ... Now I just toss them out. I don’t recall ever using any of the extra buttons. If I did need one I’d just run to a craft store and pick one up now."

And Valleycat1 chimes in: "I throw them all out. ... I realized several years ago that I never have used the extra button OR sweater thread, so why accumulate them? If you have a large tin full, how would you ever track down the specific one you need? "

2. Sew them into the garment.

On YouLookFab, Amrita says: "Usually I sew them to a side seam or the hem of the garment. Got tired of digging through a button box trying to find the proper matching button."

Another advantage of this approach is that if you lose a button while away from home, a replacement is right at hand.

3. Label them, and put them in a box, bin or jar.

Over on GardenWeb, Molly says: "I attach the buttons to an index card stapled to the hangtags of the garment and add a description of it. Then I put the card in a small box that I keep just for this purpose. A number times this has saved the day for me."

And Pinktoes says: "Most of my new clothes come with spares in a tiny plastic or paper hang tag. I use those. For the paper ones I write what garment ... on the tag and it goes in a covered buttons box, which also holds tins of loose buttons. I also write the date of purchase and owner. Oh, and in my case, the SIZE. I remember the day I threw away the spare buttons for my wedding dress, which was a size 4. No use for those in the foreseeable future.

For the plastic bags I write up that description on scrap paper or an index card and insert it inside. Or use a small Ziploc bag (snack size)."

This is the same basic technique recommended by DwellWell.

And you've got to smile at what FetchezLaVache wrote on Mumsnet: "I write 'blue blouse from Next' or whatever on a small piece of paper, pop it in the little plastic bag, then mislay it."

4. Keep them in a business card holder (or something similar).

This is the Martha Stewart approach, as I learned from The Wannabe WAHM and Eternal Voyageur at YouLookFab. You can see a photo on the Martha Stewart web site.

Scarlett on YouLookFab does something similar: "I actually keep mine in a little booklet with pockets meant to hold business cards. Sometimes I include a note to remember what the button goes to. This works well for me, but it is not a large volume of buttons."

Joy on YouLookFab mostly uses the "sew it in" approach for her own clothes, but takes this approach for others: "For those that don’t get sewn in and most of DH’s extra buttons I’ve found my son’s abandoned plastic binder pages that held baseball cards to be perfect."

5. Sort and store them by color.

Rather than labeling individual buttons, some folks (including a couple on Julie Morgenstern's Idea Exchange) choose to just sort them by color, so it's relatively to find the right button when you want it.

Anyone else want to chime in? What do YOU do with those buttons?

[photo by Sally Hunter (gingermaddy), found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.]

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas / Holiday Gift Ideas: Donations to Good Causes


My family has more or less abandoned gift-giving. Dad said it's all goats for Africa this year. -- Ivor Tossell

Would your family and/or friends like to follow the same approach as Ivor's dad? Here are just a few of the many ways you can do that.

One such way is to participate in a zoo's adopt-an-animal program. Chester Zoo says it was "the first zoo to introduce animal adoptions" - and it's also one of the few that doesn't include a stuffed animal (or a similar type of item) in your adoption package. [photo from the Chester Zoo's photostream on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons]

children wrapped in blankets

The American Red Cross has all sorts of gifts in its catalog: hot meals, phone cards, cleanup kits, blankets, and much more.

Trees for a Change donation certificate

You could give the gift of a tree, to be planted in a national forest that suffered from wildfires. [via Green Your Decor]

library buy-a-brick program

Or you could follow the recommendation of commenter Kate on Unclutterer, who suggested participating in one of the many buy-a-brick fundraisers done by schools, libraries, pet shelters, etc. The Warren County Public Library Brick Paver Project and the Pet Save Buy a Brick program are just two examples; there might well be a similar project in your part of the world.

For more ideas, look at the posts listed below, from prior years. And yes, all you Kiva fans - Kiva is included in one of those prior posts.

Related Posts:
Christmas and Other Holidays: Donations as Gifts
Christmas and Other Holidays: Donations as Gifts, Part 2
Christmas and Other Holidays: Giving to a Good Cause

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas / Holiday Gift Ideas: Consumables for Kids

modeling dough

Consumables for kids? Sure - craft supplies, of all sorts! Here are a few ideas for some more unusual choices. Let's start with the luscious-looking products from Clementine Art: natural modeling dough, paint, markers and more. [via Ecosalon]

art pad

Another place with a wide range of products is Eco-Kids, where you get eco-dough, eco-paint, eco-sidewalk chalk, and more. The picture shows the eco-art pads; the sheets are "tree-free natural organic paper made from the discarded stalks of banana trees. The banana fibers give every sheet character."

modeling beeswax

Stockmar modeling beeswax comes to us from Germany, but is readily available elsewhere; A Toy Garden is one option.

modeling beeswax

You can also get modeling beeswax from Artemis Plantefarver Danmark ApS. Again, there are a number of places to buy this, including Rosie Hippo.


If you want something simple, you could get a box of Prang crayons, made from "a unique soybean oil formulation" - which means "100% renewable resources"; most crayons are made from paraffin wax, a petroleum derivative. The company claims the soybean oil makes the crayons "brighter and smoother." [via MetaEfficient]

wax drawing art kit

And finally, let's take note of the various art kits from Eye Can Art. [via Cool Mom Picks]

Related Posts:
Christmas / Holiday Gift Ideas: Consumables
Christmas / Holiday Gift Ideas: Consumables, Part 2
Christmas / Holiday Gift Ideas: Non-Clutter Gifts of All Sorts

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Four Mantras (and One Flowchart) for Decluttering Negative Thoughts

It's not always just our stuff that needs to be decluttered; it can be our thought patterns, too. Here are some words that I've found inspirational - maybe you will, too.

1. Stuck in some unnecessarily defeatist thinking? These are the words that help me get out of that rut.

This first one I saw many years ago in a newspaper article; the writer said she'd seen it on a T-shirt. It was unattributed, but later I was able to track down the source; I even bought a set of greeting cards with these words:
It is simple. We are where we should be, doing what we should be doing. Otherwise we would be somewhere else, doing something else. — Richard Stine
I'm also fond of a couple variations on this theme:
You can always pick up your needle and move to another groove. — Timothy Leary

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. — Steve Jobs, in his commencement address at Stanford University
And again, along the same lines, there's the Are You Happy? flowchart.

2. Getting too impatient with others — perhaps a bit too judgmental? I like to consider this:
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. — uncertain origin
Or, as Erin Doland writes on Unclutterer: "You never know what others are dealing with when you encounter them. The person who cut you off in traffic may be rushing to the hospital."

A man once berated me for not returning my grocery basket to the "proper place" after I finished my purchase, at a store I don't usually frequent. I turned to him and said, "My mother died three days ago." Given the look on his face, trust me - you don't want to be that guy.

So let that momentary irritation slip away, realizing there may be things going on in the other person's life that you are unaware of.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

5 Alarm Clocks to Get You Up and Running

alarm clock - orange

Do you remember Clocky - the alarm clock that runs around the room? Well, now there's Tocky, described as "Clocky's tech-savvy brother." Here's the full description: "Just like Clocky, Tocky will jump from your nightstand and roll away to get you out of bed. He'll also record personal wake-up messages, and play your favorite MP3s as they roll around your room." [via Best Stuff]

alarm clock

Here's another novelty: the Farmland Alarm Clock, which moos, baas and clucks at you. To shut it off, you place the correct animal - the one matching the sound - in the slot in the top. But "if fumbling about for plastic cluckers at stupid o’clock doesn’t appeal, you can always switch from Selective to Random mode. That way you can deactivate the alarm using any animal you fancy." [via I New Idea]

alarm clock

Want something a bit less novel? Here's the retro-style Bake-a-Like alarm clock, available in six different colors. [via Retro To Go]

Russian alarm clock

But if you want real vintage clocks, go look at those sold by Clockwork Universe - such as this Soviet Russian alarm clock, which is in "good working condition. The movement has been cleaned, conditioned and regulated by a master watchmaker." Clockwork Universe is based in Riga, Latvia - but sells through Etsy, making it easy for us to buy from the company. [via Apartment Therapy]

alarm clock

And finally, here's the Station alarm clock - one of the many alarm clocks from Karlsson - sold by Utility and by Digs, among others. [via Retro To Go] Update on Aug. 11, 2012: Neither Utility of Digs sell this clock any more, but you can find it at the ideal Pad.

Related Posts:
7 Alarm Clocks for A Gentler Wake-Up Call
Clocks With Character
Two Alarm Clocks With Fancy Scheduling Features
Alarm Clocks: Amusing, Beautiful, Practical - and Furry

Friday, December 10, 2010

Magnets: Refrigerator Door Decor for Christmas

Christmas cat magnet / pin

Could you use some seasonal magnets to tack that shopping list, those special cards, or some children's artwork to the refrigerator door? I've got some nice ones for you to admire - starting with this wonderful cat from Barbara Hansford. While she has a large collection of Christmas dog pins/magnets - all sorts of breeds - it was the cat that I fell for.

Chritmas magnets, set of three

These magnets come from The Oneyes in the Netherlands; you can buy them through DaWanda. Update on Nov. 7, 2012:  These are no longer for sale through DaWanda, and there are no Christmas magnets at the moment — although there are others.

Rudolph reindeer magnets

The Mosaic Garden has a range of different Christmas magnets: Rudolph, a snowman, a Christmas tree, and Christmas pudding.

Merry Chritmas magnets

And finally, these Merry Christmas magnets come from Alona Lahav, in Israel; they are available through DaWanda. Update on Nov. 7, 2012: I'm no longer finding these.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Simplifying the Holidays with Simpler Gift Wrapping

gift wrap bag velvet

We go hiking on Christmas afternoon. It's so peaceful and gets us away from the wrapping paper disaster! -- Portland Children's Museum, on Twitter, via Parenthacks

Want to simplify the gift wrapping and avoid a wrapping paper disaster? Fabric gift bags might be the way to go. EllaWrap bags come in a variety of size, fabrics and patterns - with bags for Hanukkah, Christmas and much more.

sweater-like wrap for wine bottles

Paper and Parcel makes sweater wine sleeves - an easy way to wrap that consumable gift. Update on Nov. 28, 2011: Paper and Parcel doesn't carry these any more.

tote bags, folds small, Thai fabric

HASbags are folding shopping totes - with style. (Most of mine have the name of a grocery store on them - not the same!) Heidi Stern, the creator, originally made these "as a reusable way of wrapping gifts" - and you could do the same.

gift wrap fabric

In response to another post I wrote about gift bags, commenter JustGail said, "If you are giving any gift to someone who sews, wrapping it in a length of fabric is also good." The fabric wraps from Chewing the Cud could be used to wrap a gift to anyone - not just a sewer - but they're probably a more expensive option, too. These are available on Etsy, as well as on Chewing the Cud's web site. [via Apartment Therapy]

And if you really prefer to use gift wrap paper, you can still simplify. Erin on Unclutterer uses silver paper for everything, so she has much less to stash away. Similarly, Margaret Lukens of New Leaf + Company suggests this: "Choose one solid color gift wrap, one color ribbon. I've got gold with ivory this year."

Related Posts:
Gift-Wrap Bags and Boxes to Simplify Holiday Gift-Giving
Update: Simplifying Christmas by Saving Time on Gift Wrapping
Wrapping Made Easy: Gift Bags for Wine