Thursday, September 30, 2010

Organizing and Halloween: Trick or Treat Buckets

Halloween trick or treat fabric bucket, polka dot

Now that we're moving into October, it's time to admire some Halloween-themed items. I live in Half Moon Bay, where pumpkins are a Big Deal. And Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays - so it's been a special delight to find these products.

Let's start this series with some trick or treat buckets that are nice enough to be used for more than just one night - buckets that could be used to store all kinds of things! Baffin Bags has some trick or treat buckets that certainly fit that description. [via Mighty Goods]

Halloween fabric bucket

Smidgebox has a smaller selection of Halloween buckets; this one was the most popular design last year, so it's back for this year. Update on Oct. 10, 2014: The Smidgebox Etsy store is not taking any new sewing projects at this time.

Halloween basket, fabric

Here's one of the Halloween baskets from Sew Gracious. Update on Oct. 10, 2014: Sew Gracious is not making this type of product any more.

Halloween basket, fabric - orange with black cat

And here's a Halloween basket from Lee Anne of ladesigns2.

goldfish Halloween treat bag

The four prior buckets and baskets all come from individuals selling through Etsy - one of my favorite places for finding neat products. But Pottery Barn Kids also has some darn cute treat bags, including this goldfish!

Living With What You Love

Living With What You Love book cover

Being uncluttered and organized does not mean you need to be a minimalist. It does mean surrounding yourself with things you love - and making sure your possessions fit well within your space.

Living With What You Love: Decorating with Family Photos, Cherished Heirlooms, and Collectibles will not appeal to those who like a minimalist decor. (And the homes shown mostly seem to be those of the reasonably wealthy.)

While I do indeed surround myself with things I love, those things I love are mostly not photos, heirlooms or collectibles. But this book has enough images that even I found some I liked - for example, I was drawn to the room with a collection of old animal-shaped weathervanes on the wall. (I like quirky.)

Actually, the book includes a number of unusual and appealing collections: lovely mugs with the name "William" collected by parents of a William, antique bowling pins, items all shaped like a circle. It's a reminder that well-curated collections can be a lovely addition to a home.

And especially for a family with children, I can see the appeal in decorating with family photos. I liked author Monica Rich Kossan's suggestion for creating a Happy Hallway that speaks to the children of the love within the family - so they get that message, however subliminally, all the time.

Finally, here's one thing that really caught my attention. Kosann writes of items needing to earn the right to be part of your "family landscape." That's something for all of us seeking uncluttered homes to keep in mind - no matter how we choose to decorate.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

House of Havoc

House of Havoc book cover

"From America's funniest and most trusted home columnist, a must-have guide to living beautifully with unstylish spouses, sloppy kids, muddy dogs, and unwelcome guests." -- book back cover

Marni Jameson's House of Havoc only has a few chapters dedicated to decluttering and organizing. And while the organizing advice is solid - she consults with experts such as Barry Izsak - there's nothing new here. The main attraction in this book is the stories - such as the one where Marni helps her mother - who is in her eighties - clean out her clothes closet.
She has outfits with oversized shoulder pads from the 1980s, when it was fashionable for women to look like armadillos, shoes with three-inch heels she can't walk in, and what's this - old maternity clothes?

"I'm all for medical miracles, Mom, but seriously?"

"I thought they'd make nice drapes."
There's also the story about finding her daughter's birth certificate; reading this one motivated me to get Jameson's book from the library.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wrapping Made Easy: Gift Bags for Wine

wine gift bags made from recycled wool sweaters

Want some beautiful wrapping paper? San Francisco's Japantown is one place to get it - and my out-of-town guest was delighted to buy some this past weekend. But while the beauty of the paper was tempting, I realized that the simpler approach of using gift bags often suits me better. No struggle to wrap an odd-shaped item. No cutting, folding and taping - and no fussing around with ribbons and bows. And gift bags are readily reusable, too!

And since wine can be a wonderful "consumable" gift for the right recipient - my brother got me a wonderful bottle of champagne for my last birthday - let's look at some unique wine gift bags, starting with the amazing wine bottle gift bags from the North Wood Blanket Co. They're made from recycled wool sweaters!

wine bags made from saris

You can also get wine gift bags made from vintage saris.

wine bag

Ingrid Anderson of New Zealand has some stunning wine bags. Update on June 22, 2012: It seems Ingrid Anderson no longer makes these bags.

wine bottle bags shaped like animals

And finally, there are the whimsical wine bottle bags from Toto Knits - "ethically produced in Kenya by a group of local artisans."

Related Posts featuring other wine bags:
Gift-Wrap Bags and Boxes to Simplify Holiday Gift-Giving
Update: Simplifying Christmas by Saving Time on Gift Wrapping

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bicycle Storage: Wall-Mounted Bikes that Look Good

wall-mounted bike rack, wood

Bicycle storage options abound - but how many of them look cool?

Today I learned about the Bike Shelf shown above, from Knife & Saw. [via Freshome and Cribcandy]

wall-mounted bike rack, wood

The bike racks from Cantilever and Press are another nice wood option. This rack is "made of reclaimed wood and end-cuts, utilizing scrap materials to make something functional." [via Apartment Therapy]

bicycle wall mount

For a totally different look, there's the Cycloc. It comes from the U.K., but you can indeed get it in the U.S.; Nestliving is one source. The Cycloc comes in four different colors. Update on Jan. 14, 2013: I'm not able to access Nestliving, but Y Living and Emmo Home have the Cycloc —  as do some other sites.

folding bicycle

Want to minimize the whole bike storage issue? You could get a Dahon folding bicycle.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Adding White Space to Our Lives

Apple's web site, iPad page - lots of white space

No, this isn't a post about the iPad. But Apple's web site provides a good example of how the judicious use of white space makes a site effective - as Henry Jones points out.

But just today I've been reading a number of web sites that talk about the need for white space in our lives, too. I'll quote briefly from these various sites; you can follow the links to read the full articles. It started with Terry Barber's The White Space of Life (PDF) where he writes:
I get home, and as I’m hanging up my suit and tie, I notice my crammed-full closet, and I think to myself, Wow! This is a picture of my life. For a man, I have way too many shoes. Shoes sitting on top of each other. Shoes still in the boxes. Shoes for running, shoes for tennis. Golf shoes and walking shoes. I look to the right and I see neatly arranged dress shirts—blues, whites, and others — all packed in very tightly. They could use a little breathing room. So could I.

Just before I go to bed, I look at my calendar for tomorrow. ... It’s crowded. ...

When you love what you do, white space quickly becomes a rare commodity. But without it, even that thing you love to do can become burdensome.
And that was followed, just a few hours later, with these thoughts from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits:
I’m not a designer, but I’ve always been in love with the design concept of white space. It’s the space in a design that isn’t filled with things. ...

But white space can be used in the design of our lives as well. ...

White space can give clarity to the things in our lives — whether they’re possessions, projects, tasks, or just things that occupy our time and attention. A nice piece of furniture is more beautiful when it’s not surrounded by clutter. ...

In theory, achieving white space isn’t difficult: you remove non-essential items from your life, your workday, your surroundings, your possessions, and leave the essential items with space around them.

But of course in practice it’s a bit different, and requires experimentation, learning, practice.
And then I found this article by Tara on the Ode Magazine web site, which begins with this:
Recently, I’ve been canceling a lot of things from my calendar. Just canceling. It feels quite rebellious. My life, like yours, is full of projects, work, family, errands, all kinds of lovely people, closet organizing aspirations….I could go on and on. I filled up the calendar with all that good stuff and found myself feeling bummed out by it, anxious and resentful. I wanted white space – not a zoo of text – on the calendar page.
Note: The quote above had a typo on the original site, which I've corrected.

Does this concept resonate with anyone? Do you feel the need to add white space to some parts of your life? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Using the Walls: 6 Racks for Coats and More

Eames Hang-It-A;; from Herman Miller

While peg racks are a great tool, as I recently noted, what about something a bit different? One of the best-known wall-hanging racks is the Eames Hang-It-All from Herman Miller.

Eames Hang-It-All from Herman Miller

And now, if you don't like the multi-color look, you can get the Hang-It-All in walnut.

wall coat rack

If you do like the multi-color look, maybe you'd like the Multi Spot Coat Rack, which certainly seems to be inspired by the Hang-It-All.

wall coat rack

For a totally different look, there's the Marimekko Polku rack, designed by Mikko Laakkonen. [via Notcot]

pipework coat rack

And finally, for something totally different, there's this pipework coat rack! It's available in five different colors of pipe.

pipework coat rack

It's by Nick Fraser, who also makes this version of his pipework coat rack.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Little Things: Colorful Staples

colored staples

I wasn't looking for pink staples, but I found them in the supply closet. And they totally complete me.LeeAnne Jones

Would you also like colorful staples? Itoya used to sell some nice ones - I've used them, so I know the quality is good - but the company seems to have discontinued the product. I'm finding one store still selling some of Itoya's green staples, though.

colored staples

Swingline sells its Color Bright staples in two sizes. You can get a packages of 6,000 (2,000 each of red, blue, and green) or a package of 2,000 in either purple, blue, teal or green. Note that some reviewers are quite critical of the larger package.

colored staples - metallic colors

Making Memories is focused on scrapbooking and crafts - but the company does sell colored staples (light colors, dark colors, and metallic) that fit all standard-sized staplers.

green staples

And yet another source is Dyer Germany, which makes red, blue, green and gold staples. The Conran Shop currently has the red and blue ones. Pringle and Zimring carries what appears to be the Dyer staples, in blue, green and red.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Basic Organizing Tools: Peg Racks

Shaker peg rack

Peg racks can be a wonderful storage option - holding coats, hats, towels, necklaces, dog leashes and more. This Shaker peg rack comes from Sturbridge Yankee Workshop.

Shaker peg rack with mirror hanging from it

Shaker Workshops sells both the racks and a number of things that can hang from them - a mirror, shelves, a wall cupboard - and brooms. [via Apartment Therapy]

peg rack

Over in the U.K., Alison Capeling makes lovely peg racks in six different colors.

blue peg rail

And South West Pine has peg rails in wonderful colors.

peg rack - bunny tails

If you like whimsical, there's this bunny peg rack from Fairbourn Childrens Furniture, sold through Coriandr and Etsy. Update on January 9, 2012: These don't seem to be for sale on Etsy any more.

And you can also take a look at the peg racks from NHwoodworking and The Period House - neither of which has very good pictures, unfortunately.

Related Posts, with other peg racks:
An Oldie But Goody: Expandable (or Accordion) Coat and Hat Racks
A Farewell to Summer: Hooks with a Seaside Theme
Hooks to Hold Your Hat - Or Coat, or Towel, or Whatever

Saturday, September 11, 2010

First Look: 2011 Calendars

2011 wall calendar - March shows rabbit and raven

Still like your paper calendars? You've got lots of company - and lots of calendars to choose from. Here are some of the 2011 calendars that have caught my eye. Let's start with this stunning wall calendar by Wendy Thompson. She has another nature-inspired calendar that's pretty spectacular, too.

sea life 2011 wall calendar

Jessica Doyle's wall calendar is filled with sea life.

Portrait of a Wisconsin Artisan Cheesemaker calendar

Here's the "first annual" Portrait of a Wisconsin Artisan Cheesemaker calendar. [via Cheese Underground]

2011 calendar - Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies

Lots of animal rescue groups publish calendars as part of their fundraising efforts. Most of them aren't available yet, but the Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies calendar is an exception.

Faces of Courage: Breast Cancer Survivors 2011 calendar

The Faces of Courage: 2011 Calendar of Breast Cancer Survivors is available for pre-order. You can see a number of the photos used in the calendar on photographer Jen van der Vecht's web site.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful and Live Intentionally

Life is a Verb book cover

Patti Digh starts her book with this story:
At some point in your life, you'll only have thirty-seven days to live. Maybe that day is today. Maybe not.

Such a day arrived on October 24, 2003 for a 6-foot, 5-inch tall man with a southern accent, a golfer's tan, five World War II Bronze Stars, and a forest-green Lincoln Town Car. On that beautiful day, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He died just thirty-seven days later.

That man was my stepfather, Boyce.
Unsurprisingly, this caused Digh to wonder: "What would I be doing today if I only had thirty-seven days to live?" And her answers to that question resulted in this book.

The book is filled with stories and suggestions; there's a good chance you'll find at least one idea that resonates with you. Here's the story that relates to decluttering - a story of Digh's daughter, Emma, showing her portfolio of drawings to some illustrators at a convention.
As one of them turned the page in her portfolio, I heard Emma say, "That's not really a good one."

"Emma," he said, "if you don't like something, take it out of your portfolio. You don't want to have anything in here that you need to make excuses for." ...

"I understand, she said. And suddenly, so did I. ...

What in my portfolio (where portfolio means house, life, brain, relationships) should I keep? What should I sell? What should I toss?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Necklaces: Organized and On Display

necklace tree, wood

Do you forget what jewelry you own if it's hidden away in a drawer? Are you tired of tangled chains? If so, here are some storage options to consider. This lovely hand-crafted necklace tree comes from Dave’s Woodcraft Studio. You can pick from three different wood choices.

necklace tree

Anne Ball provides a very different style of necklace tree. You can select from two different sizes, and a wide range of colors.

wall-mounted necklace holder

Dion and Tammy of EZNecklaceHolder provide wall-mounted options, in a heart shape or a basic rectangle.

And of course the do-it-yourself options are endless. For inspiration, take a look at what Emily did with knobs from Anthropologie.

Related Posts:
Reader Question: Wall-Mounted Jewelry Racks
Hanging the Necklaces Where You Can See Them: Wall-Mounted Racks

Monday, September 6, 2010

Magnets To Brighten Your Day - and Adorn Your Fridge

two magnets; monsters saying I'm crafty and I use punctuation correctly

If you're a "refrigerator magnet" type of person, I've got some treats for you! Let's start with the "monsters" magnets from Fishcakes, which I loved from the moment I saw them. With 70 choices, there's something to suit everyone; I'm pretty fond of the I'm Organized magnet, as well as all the "word nerd" ones. [via Ben Zimmer, on Twitter]

dictionary word magnets

Speaking of word nerds, how about these dictionary magnets from XO Handworks, custom-made with your choice of words?

hand-painted magnets

Jocelyn Proust Designs of Australia makes hand-painted tiles - and some eye-catching hand-painted fridge magnets.

magnet set showing human circulatory system

And finally, take a look at Say Hi Beth - who sells science and math magnets (and many more). Her magnets are made from "old recycled children's books and textbooks, many of which were saved from the rain and other elements."

Related Posts:
A Multitude of Magnets
Yet More Magnets: Magnetic Clips
More Magnificent Magnets
6 Magnets That Made Me Smile
I Just Can't Resist a Good Magnet
Refrigerator Door Magnets: An Organizing Choice
Reader Question: Organising products for those of us in Australia?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Four Memorable Magnetic Boards

Forget Me Not magentic notice board, red

Like to use a magnetic board to keep a few key pieces of paper in front of you? Then you might be interested in some of my latest finds, including this forget-me-not board from Green & Co.

fabric-covered magnetic board

For nice fabric-covered magnetic boards (and a groaner of a pun), head over to Board Silly. The company also sells hand-painted magnetic boards.

magnetic board with polka dots

ReMemory Designs is another company with a wide range of magnetic boards.

magnetic board with pocket, in Pantone colors

And finally, there's the Pantone Wallstore, designed for Seletti by John Green, and available in seven Pantone colors. The Wallstore is more than just a magnetic board, with its folded section at the bottom. Sit On Design and Heliotrope are two places to buy it. [via From Europe]

Related Posts:
Magnetic Boards: Beyond the Refrigerator Door
Magnetic Boards in a Multitude of Styles

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sweetgrass Baskets: Traditional Craft, Stunning Storage

sweetgrass basket

Just a few years ago, Nikia Wigfall needed only to drive to the nearby marshes to harvest the sweetgrass that she and other descendants of slaves weave into the beautiful baskets sold to tourists in and around this antebellum port city.

But booming coastal development has made finding the clumps of long, swaying sweetgrass tougher and tougher.
--Bruce Smith,, writing about the sweetgrass basket tradition in Charleston, South Carolina

When I wrote about pine needle baskets a few days ago, commenter JustGail mentioned sweetgrass baskets - and while I'd come across them before, her comment made me really take a good look. The story behind these baskets is fascinating; the article I quoted briefly is worth reading in full, and there's a sweetgrass basketry site with pointers to more good reading.

And some of the baskets are just stunning. This "elephant ear" basket is made by Lillie Howard, and can be found at Edisto Sweetgrass Baskets or Artists and Artisans Gallery.

sweetgrass basket with lid

This lidded basket comes from Darryl and Angela Stoneworth of DNA Sweetgrass Baskets.

sweetgrass basket

And this "canister basket" comes from Sweetgrass Baskets of Charleston by Eva Wright.

sweetgrass basket

Ruthy sells her sweetgrass baskets on Etsy.

All the basketmakers shown here make baskets in many styles, so their sites are worth a look if you want to see more lovely things.