Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Space-Saving Options: Collapsible Kitchen Tools

colapsible colander

I really like my big metal colander - but it does take up a lot of storage space. If you need to save space, perhaps the Rösle collapsible colander would work well. It's available in red, green, purple and black - in two sizes.

collapsible colander

If you'd prefer another style, take a look at the collapsible colander from Dexas, which sells products under its own brand and also as private labels. You'll see very similar products at Sur La Table, at Macy's (as part of the Martha Stewart collection), and as part of the Chef'n SleekStor collection. Update on August 1, 2014: I'm no longer finding this at Sur La Table or Macy's. 

collapsible colander

And there are even more colander options! This one comes from Oxo.

collpasible colander

Norpro has some "knockdown" colanders, too - three different styles. Update on Aug. 1, 2014: Norpri has a different product now — a steamer/strainer.

folding colander

And Joseph Joseph takes a different approach with its folding colander.

collapsible salad spinner

Another item that takes up a lot of space is a salad spinner. If that's your storage challenge, look at the collapsible salad spinner from Progressive Intl.

Related Posts:
How Do I Store the Strainer? Flat!
Reader Question: Dish Racks

Monday, May 24, 2010

How Much TV Time is Right for You?

Watch Less TV

Wow - people still watch TV 5+ hours a day? That makes me sad - when is time for friends/family? -- Sarah PJs, on Twitter

Me? I don't own a TV, but that doesn't mean I don't watch any. I catch some of Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, and Hoarders - but on my computer. I just don't watch enough TV to make it worthwhile to pay for cable (without cable, I get no reception) and to make room for a TV somewhere in my home. And I'd also need a DVD recorder or Tivo or some such - more money, more space issues.

But that's what's right for me, at this point in my life. As Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote: "Owning a television didn't work for my family. I would never suggest that it's not working for your family."

As you think about how much time you want to devote to TV, you might consider the perspectives of two thoughtful guys. I'll quote both of them briefly, but I highly recommend reading the full blog posts. The first perspective comes from Seth Godin, who wrote:
At the local health food store lunch buffet, they offer stir fried tempeh.

I never get it. Not because I don’t like it, but because there are always so many other things on the buffet that I prefer.

That's why I don't watch TV. At all. There are so many other things I'd rather do in that moment.
Seth went on to list some of the things you could do instead of watching TV, including:
- Write a daily blog
- Write a novel
- Volunteer to tutor a kid, in person or online
- Learn a new language, verbal or programming
- Write hand written thank you notes each evening to people who helped you out or did a good job
- Read a book or two every evening
- Play a game of Scrabble with your family
And here's just a tiny bit of what Clay Shirky wrote:
If you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit, all of Wikipedia, the whole project - every page, every edit, every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia exists in - that represents something like the cumulation of 100 million hours of human thought. ...

And television watching? Two hundred billion hours, in the U.S. alone, every year. Put another way, now that we have a unit, that's 2,000 Wikipedia projects a year spent watching television.

If you'd like to watch less television - not necessarily "kill your TV" - you might like the tips from Ririan about how to break the TV habit. Again, I highly recommend reading the entire blog post, but here are a couple examples:
Make a TV-watching plan. Sit down with the viewing guide and pick out the shows you want to watch that week. Watch only those shows, and when they’re over, turn the TV off.

Throw out the remote control. It’s impressive how much less television you’ll watch if you have to get up every time you want to change channels or adjust the volume.

First image from Erin at Recovering Lazyholic; it's one of her Reminder series. Used with permission. Found via Swiss Miss.

Aardvark Manifesto from Keep Calm Gallery; available for purchase.

Clay Shirky article via Seth Godin and Lifehacker.

Ririan post via Lifehacker and Dumb Little Man.

Related Posts:
Time Management and the TV
Time to TV?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

7 Worthy Wine Racks - and a Very Special Cabinet

wood wine rack

Want a stunning table-top wine rack? This one by Anthony David Oliver shows "sold out" on his Etsy store, but at least one other site says it's in stock. Update on Aug. 11, 2012: It doesn't seem that Oliver has an Etsy store any more, and I'm not seeing any site selling this.

cast aluminum wine rack

But maybe you're not looking to spend $250 for a rack that holds six bottles. Here's a less-expensive option from Restoration Hardware - with a very different look. [via Uncrate] Update on Aug. 11, 2012: Restoration Hardware no longer sells this wine rack.

felt wine rack

Or you could get a 6-bottle felt wine rack from Etcetera Media. This green-grey color combination is sold out, but there are other dual-color options. A single-color version is also available. [via Swiss Miss] Update on March 3, 2011: Etcetera Media has closed up shop.

wine rack

This rack is one of the Bali series from Oenophilia, available in various sizes and colors. You can find these all over the place: Target, etc.

wine rack

Another interesting option is the Zigzag wine rack, made from Syntrewood: "a mixture of recycled thermoplastic synthetics and paper by-products." [via Better Living Through Design]

stainless steel stacking wine rack

And here's a stacking wine rack, from Zack - something a bit different from other stacking racks I've seen. [via From Europe] Update on Aug. 11, 2012: I'm no longer finding this product.

hand made wood wine rack

Returning to gorgeous wood-working, here's the Vin-O Wine Rack by SIDD - not inexpensive, but a work of art. [via Furniture Fashion] Update on Aug. 11, 2012: I'm no longer finding this wine rack.

under stairs wine cabinet, custom

And let's end with something really special: a custom under-stairs wine cabinet. This is just one of the many options from Vinotemp.

Related Posts:
Ten Wine Racks for 3-20 Bottles
Seven Ways to Store the Wine
4 Wonderfully Unusual Ways to Store the Wine
Storing Your Wine in Traditional Champagne Riddling Racks

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 2010 Organizing Tips and More

3 coffee-table book about Vietnam

My May 2010 newsletter is now available.

Tip of the Month: Letting Go of (Some of) the Books

Organizing Product of the Month: Slim shelving

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

Related Posts:
Clearing Out the Bookshelves
3 Perspectives: Not All Books Are Keepers
Books: Weeding the Collection

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cleaning up the To-Do List: A Tale of Two Light Fixtures

See that light fixture? It's the one I had in my home office until this morning. Unfortunately, at some point it became next to impossible to get the screws to line up, so the cover often hung down, leaving the exposed bulb - as you can see. This did not exactly create the ambiance I wanted in my office.

See this new light fixture? I bought it a few days ago. My wonderful handyman installed it this morning. It's much prettier, and it provides better light. My office feels good again.

How long did "replace office light fixture" sit on my to-do list? Let's not talk about that. And it wasn't as though this was a difficult task. I knew exactly what store I wanted to buy the fixture from, and I knew who to call for installation. The store isn't in town, but it's only a 35-minute drive away.

But whatever it was that had me procrastinating about some minor home projects, I seem to be crossing them off my list quite rapidly now.

The garage door that didn't go down when I clicked the remote - except in rainy weather, for some unknown reason - now has a new opener mechanism that works just fine. No more getting out of the car and walking into the garage to close the darn door.

And I've got an appointment for this weekend to drop off the household hazardous waste items (cleaning products, yard care products, etc.) that currently reside in my garage.

Now I have some momentum, and I want to get all my lingering mini-projects done. Any time now I might actually get a couple nice nightstands, sell a few things on craigslist, and finish my document scanning project.

What a difference it made once I decided to really focus on getting these projects done, one step at a time! And how much better things are for having gotten them done!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Not Your Ordinary Bread Box: Three Unusual Storage Options

stacking bread bins

We've looked at bread boxes before - but not anything quite like the ones I'd like to show you today! Let's start with the stacking bread bins (or bread drums) from WMF; these could be a nice space-saver.

kitchen drawer inserts bread box

Have a spare drawer in your kitchen? This next one is hard to see - but Custom Inserts will change a drawer into a bread box.

Panetière - reproduction bread bin

Bastide educated me about the panetière: "A panetière or breadbin is a wooden piece of furniture dedicated to the storage of the bread." Bastide also explains that in the 19th century, in Provence, you got some very elaborate wall-hung designs.

If you'd like a reproduction panetière, head on over to Eric Marjolet.

Related Posts:
Bigger Than Which Bread Box?
Nine Notable Bread Boxes, Bins and Canisters
A Bunch of Bread Boxes

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fun with Freecycle

As I mentioned recently, Freecycle is one of my favorite ways to find new homes for things that my clients - and I - no longer need. Just today, I've Freecycled:
  • Six jigsaw puzzles.
  • Two measuring cups.
  • Two paper towel holders.
  • Eight issues of Cook's Illustrated magazine.
  • A big bag of craft supplies: beads, buttons, pipe cleaners, etc.
I've met some wonderful people through Freecycle, too!

But I was really taken with this offer on my local group, quoted with permission:
OFFER: Very large stuffed St Bernard plush toy.

This darling dog is almost 5 ft from foot to tail. Brown and white. Very soft. Sits on the floor in a reclining position. Took two years of negotiation to get this out of my daughter's room.
[The photo is of a Gund Jumbo St. Bernard; I don't know which "very large stuffed St Bernard" was being offered on Freecycle.]

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Containing with Canisters

stoneware canister set

If you want purely practical canisters, you could get the glass canisters from The Container Store that are square, stackable - and have airtight lids. But if you'd like something more whimsical, you could get these canisters (or one of the other choices) from Crosby & Taylor.

stoneware canister

For another style of stoneware, you could get a "lidded jar o many uses" - such as this canister - from Promethean Pottery.

polka dot canisters

Like polka dots? These Spode canisters are on sale at Macy's. (And you can also get them here.) Kitchen Craft also has polka dot canisters.

red canister

And Le Creuset has canisters in three sizes; you can get them here (among other places).

green canisters

Actually, there are a number of kitchenware brands I didn't know had canisters, including Fiesta (available here and here, among others).

stainless steel canisters

And then there's Calphalon, available here (and other places).

storage jar, white with blue flowers

If I'd seen this storage jar from Portmeirion - one of the company's many canisters - a few days ago, it would have made it into my "blue" collection.


Would you like glass canisters with a bit of style? Here are some to consider!

glass canisters

Anchor Hocking - which makes square, stackable canisters - also has a number of other options.

glass canister set

And even Cost Plus World Market has a nice option!

pottery canisters - set

But getting back to the unusual, take a look at these canisters from Old Farmhouse Pottery in Texas.

canisters with bear fetish handle

And look at these fantastic canisters from Deer Woods Pottery. They've got another pattern that's equally spectacular. [via Vicki Hardin's Clay Art Web Guide]

brass canister set

Finally, here are some hammered brass canisters.

And just for giggles, you can go over to Flickr and see one of the canisters I used to own, many years ago. What a surprise it was to see this pattern again!

Update on May 20, 2010: Full disclosure: After this post ran, the folks at Crosby & Taylor sent me a petite salt pot (and some flavored sugars) as a thank-you gift. This was not something I was expecting - so it obviously had nothing to do with what I posted.

Related Posts:
Not My Mother's Canisters
15 Notable Canister Sets: From Simple to Silly

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Garage Storage - For All Kinds of Stuff

wall bracket for recycling bins

Reading John Trosko's garage-related post today reminded me that it's about time for me to write another garage post!

While there are many multi-purpose garage cabinets, slat board systems and such, I thought I'd focus on some of the specialty products I've been seeing. Let's start with the EnviroStacker, sold by Lee Valley Tools. While it was designed to let you get those old recycling bins off the floor, this bracket can be used with many bins that have a rigid lip. [via Toolmonger] Update on March 27, 2012: These are now called Bin Brackets.

garage refrigerator

Want a spare refrigerator in your garage? Gladiator has a refrigerator designed just for garages. As the Gladiator web site says: "Unlike your neighbor's garage refrigerator that they retired from their kitchen, the Energy Star qualified Chillerator Garage Refrigerator is not only designed to handle the extreme temperature and humidity of the garage environment, it also saves you money by reducing energy consumption."

tire storage rack

Here's a storage rack designed specifically for tire storage - helpful if you live in a climate where you change tires as the seasons change, or have any other reason to be storing tires.

car lift

And if you want to store an entire extra car, you can do that, too - using a car lift from Revolution. [via Patrick Langston of the Ottowa Citizen, on the Vancouver Sun web site]

Related Posts:
All "organizing the garage" posts

Monday, May 10, 2010

In Honor of My Mom: Organizing in Blue

utensil holder with blue heron

On this third anniversary of my mom's death, I thought I would once again remember her with a post featuring blue organizing products - blue being her favorite color.

This year, I'll start out with a utensil holder that isn't entirely blue, but certainly makes great use of the color. It comes from Jim and Gina at Hummingbird Studio Pottery. I've written about them before - but it's time for a reprise!

blue fabric bucket

This nice fabric bucket comes from ShaggyBaggy.

bunny basket

This bunny basket from Aunt Jeannie's Attic should probably have been included in my alternative Easter basket post. But it's not so Easter-specific that I can't include it here!

blue felted bowl

Here's a lovely felted bowl from Bowenism.

tea box

Images d'Orient is the source for this tea box; the company has points of sale in 22 different countries.

laundry hamper, blue, with peace sign

I've include the laundry hampers from JoJo Designs in another post, but I just had to include this hamper, anyway.

coat hook, blue

Searching for blue items led me to all sort of products I might not otherwise have found, including the very neat Quasimodo coat hooks from de Nord. They come with either two, three or five hooks; eight color options are available. Update on Feb. 17, 2014: I'm no longer finding the blue version of this hook, and I'm finding very few in any size or color. However, you can still get the white two-hook version at Artic Design.

dresser with blue drawers

And finally, there's this stunning dresser from John Strauss Furniture Design.

Related Posts
In Honor of My Mom (2008)
In Honor of My Mom (2009)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Filing Cabinet Alternative: File Storage Ottomans

Peter Walsh has been publicizing his new line of products from OfficeMax; the You - Organized desk collection includes an ottoman designed to hold hanging files. But you can't buy the ottoman separately - and you can't get the ottoman from this OfficeMax office-in-a-box separately, either. Update on July 1, 2013: I'm not currently finding either of these products at OfficeMax.

Fortunately, there are other file ottomans available! Here are some that really caught my eye.

As I've mentioned before, Ballard Designs has a file storage ottoman (shown above) with over 135 fabric options: solid colors, florals, stripes and more.

teak file storage ottoman

Here's a gorgeous option - a teak ottoman with file storage.

filing ottoman

Go over to the U.K., and you'll find more options. This filing ottoman by Sue Bensassi is covered in an Andrew Martin fabric. Update on July 1, 2013: I'm no longer finding this ottoman.

filing ottoman

The Dormy House has this lovely filing ottoman. You can select from The Dormy House collection of fabrics, or provide your own.

filing ottoman

And finally, The Dormy House has a large filing ottoman, too.