Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not Your Ordinary Jewelry Stands

jewelry stand from deer antler

If you'd like a way to display a small jewelry collection or a few special pieces from a larger collection — or maybe just a neat place to put the jewelry you take off, before it goes back to its normal storage space — take a look at the cool things I've found. The jewelry stand above, from Evolving Habitat, is made from naturally shed deer antler.

jewelry stand shaped like Amsterdam buildings

This jewelry stand, from Polli in Australia, is designed to resemble buildings in Amsterdam; it's made from salvaged timber.

jewelry stand made from galvanized pipe

For a totally different look, there's the jewelry stand made from galvanized pipe, from Catie of fivetenfifteen.

Jackelope jewelry holder

And finally, for a giggle, here's the Jack D. Jackalope jewelry holder from imm Living. One possible place to buy it is Bridge City Mercantile. [via The New York Times]

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Filling Your Home with Things You Love

Magnets from Omoi Zakka shop

Decluttering isn't about minimalism; a decluttered home could be minimalist, but it certainly doesn't have to be. Rather, a decluttered home is filled with things that serve those who live there: things that are useful, and things that just delight the owners.

I've read a couple blog posts lately that touch on this theme. First, Small Notebook pointed me to an article subtitled Lessons learned from a thrift store rug. Here's an excerpt — but please go read the full thing, and see the before and after photos.
I want to be a minimalist. I want fewer things so I have more time and energy to create and just be. ...

And yet... I care about the things that surround us. They matter.

Minimalism isn’t so much about having few things (although it is about having few things) as it is about having the right few things. The things you need.

We recently got something we didn’t exactly need.

We had a perfectly adequate rug in our living room. ...

But then Cane ... said he'd seen this rug at the Salvation Army. A nice, big braided wool rug. The kind he really really likes.
And then there was a question on Ask Metafilter about buying art. One of the responders wrote, in part:
Do NOT buy something because it looks "nice." You have to set a higher bar. Find something that would make you disconsolate if you were to not bring it home with you. You will LIVE with this work; it's like a marriage.
And finally, here's something from a shop, rather than a blog post.
Omoi Zakka Shop stocks thoughtful items for everyday life. Taking cues from our experiences in Japan, we are drawn to quality goods that refresh and delight, be it by texture, design, or function. We feel that the best objects are the ones that make you happy to use them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Computer Backups: The Critical Step You May Be Missing

Toy Story 2

So now you're doing your backups — but are you testing them to be sure they are working?

Here's what The Tao of Backup says:
If you really believe that your backups are sound, would you be comforable erasing everything on your hard drive right now, and restoring it from backups?

If not, why not?

No matter how sophisticated or comprehensive your backup system is, you will never know if it works unless you actually test it. Without testing, you can have no confidence at all.
It goes on to list all the many things that can cause backups to not work as you expected.

Here are some stories of backups that didn't work. The most dramatic story is that of how Pixar almost lost the files for Toy Story 2 because of backups that weren't working:
In 1998, the most common way to back up a bunch of data was on tape, which is the system that Pixar was using. Unfortunately, these backups were not continuously tested, as the company does today and is the universally recommended best practice. ...

This is where the trouble started, because the backups were stored on a tape drive and as the files hit 4 gigabytes in size, the maximum size of the file was met. ... This meant that new data was being written to the drive, but it was ‘pushing’ the older files off. But no-one at Pixar knew this yet.
I know individuals who've had problems with their backups, too. One person set up online backups with Carbonite — only to find, when she needed to restore files, that the backups had stopped working a couple months prior. Another person was able to restore her files, but found out they all had the same "create" date — the current date — instead of the original date.

It's easy to think of these automated backups as a "set it up and forget it" scenario — but things can go wrong with any backup plan.

So let's listen to Brian Teeman:
Repeat after me:

I will make regular backups of my own data.

I will test my backups to make sure they are actually useful.

Credits: Thanks to Kevin Henney, who builds websites, for pointing me to that Toy Story account. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

One More Reason You Need Computer Backups

woman running with computer

Think it's time for another post about computer backups. Car was broken into & husband's laptop stolen. He doesn't backup. So sad! — Direct message I got today on Twitter, shared with permission

The person who sent me this message also said, in another Twitter message: I worry about computer dying & don't think about theft. But people have computers stolen — or leave them behind in taxis and airplanes — all too frequently.

Here's the story of what happened to author Neil Gaiman — who, fortunately, did have backups in place:
On a trip with his daughter visiting college campuses, Neil had fallen asleep mid-flight and forgot to remove his MacBook Air from his seatback’s pocket. By the time he had returned home and realized his Mac was missing, the airline’s lost-and-found office had closed. When he called back in the morning, the Mac was still missing.

In full-on panic mode, Neil contacted the Code 42 Support team. He had been working on a few confidential pieces that he hadn’t emailed to anyone. In Neil’s mind, they were potentially not backed up. CrashPlan to the rescue!

Not only did CrashPlan have backups of everything he did up until he got on the plane, CrashPlan also retrieved his data in time for an important upcoming presentation.
And here's author John Scalzi, who lost his computer just a few days ago:
My absence from the Internet was a bit longer than I had anticipated today, for one genuinely depressing reason: I left my travel bag in the taxi that took me to my hotel from the airport, and that bag included my computer and some other stuff (including my car key).
However, it seems like he's mostly OK on the backup front:
Almost everything I had on the computer was also redundantly stored elsewhere, so I have lost no work.
And here's a sad story from a bookstore that thought it had backups, but didn't:
I'm writing to you on behalf of the Concordia Community Solidarity Co-op Bookstore, an independent, not-for-profit cooperative bookstore located in Montreal.

This wonderful "little store that could" was robbed this past Sunday night (May 13th 2012) - someone or a group of someones, smashed a window in, and stole our computer. ...

We would really really appreciate our computer back. Even if its just to borrow it to copy the files on it. See, our ENTIRE inventory and records are on that computer. Which means HOURS and HOURS of lost work, and HOURS and HOURS of work we will have to re-do. We will have to close the store to get this work done, at a time when we can't afford to close the store.
So if you're not yet backing up your computer, please do something about that, right away.

And that backup that the bookstore thought it had, but didn't? That will be the subject of my next blog post.

Related Posts:
Backup Your Data - Avoid Heartache and Pain
Sleep Well at Night: Have a Good Backup Strategy

Credits: Photo by charamelody, found on Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Do You Wear a Watch?

men's watch showing day of month using figures around the dial

I bought this new thing called a watch. You wear it on your wrist and it shows the time w/o having to dig your phone out of your pocket.Dustin Godsey, on Twitter

If, like me, you choose to wear a watch, take a look at the attractive (and easy-to-read) ones I've found recently. This first one comes from a.b. art, which has many notable choices; this is the men's model O101. [via Geekwatches]

watch with orange face

Another company with some neat watches is TeNo. This one is from the TeNo 10 collection; there are a number of colors to choose from. One place to buy them is Unica Home.

watch with Roman numerals

I'm also pretty impressed with the Arne Jacobsen watches from Rosendahl; there are two styles. You can find them both — the Roman watch and the City Hall watch — at Skandium.

watch with Tyvek band

And finally, let's look at the watches from Sprout, with its "eco-friendly timepieces." This one has a "light crimson Tyvek strap and corn resin bezel, white corn resin case and buckle." Don't like Tyvek? You can also get watches with organic cotton straps. All of the styles come in a number of colors, and there are versions for men, women and children. [via Ecosalon]

Related Posts:
Watches - Because Some of Us Still Rely on Them to Keep Us on Track
Watches to Keep You On Time — In Style

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Honor of My Mom: Organizing in Blue

three rattan storage bins in cobalt blue

Five years ago, my mother died from pancreatic cancer. In honor of her, I'm once again displaying some organizing products that come in blue, my mom's favorite color. Let's start with these rattan storage bins sold by Serena & Lily.

ceramic storage jars in two sizes - blue and turquoise

Iittala makes its ceramic Purnukka storage jars in two sizes and six colors, two of which are shades of blue. One place to buy them is Twentytwentyone. [via Retro To Go] Update on May 9, 2013: These no longer come in blue.

turquoise storage jar with bamboo lid

Kahler makes the Mano storage jar; it comes in various sizes and colors, including this turquoise one. You can get it from Illums Bolighus or from Horne.

round magnet with bunny and word Bon Appetit

I've mentioned Susan Faye's work before, but not these magnets with their brilliant blue.

small felted bowl with the word love

And I have to end with this little felted wool bowl from The Felterie.

Note: Besides my mom, I've lost the following people to pancreatic cancer: a dear client, a client's mother, and a beloved colleague. The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network can always use your donations.

Related Posts:
In Honor of My Mom (2008)
In Honor of My Mom (2009)
In Honor of My Mom (2010)
In Honor of My Mom (2011)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pushpins and Thumbtacks Go Gorgeous (and Clever)

glass pushpins

I saw these decorative pushpins at a local open studio event this past weekend, and was reminded it's been long time since I last wrote about such products — so here's an update. Connie doesn't have any of her pushpins listed on her Etsy store right now, but if you wrote to her I'm sure she could arrange something. Connie noted that she's seen people use these to hang necklaces along a wall, and I can see how that would make a nice display.

sea glass pushpins

Sweet Virgil's Vintage has lovely pushpins made from sea glass, vintage buttons, and other interesting materials.

fabric-covered button pushpins

A number of folks make eye-catching fabric-covered button pushpins; one of them is Susan at Sweeter Lemon.

Hollie Lollie sells pushpins in two sizes; these are some of her large pushpins, "embellished with a button covered in pretty designer 100% cotton fabric."

fabric-covered thumbtacks with cats

Yum Yum Buttons has such a large selection of fabric-covered button thumbtackspenguins, Pac-Man, and so much more — that it was hard to pick just one to show you. [via modcatlove]

fabric-covered thumbtacks

Girl of All Work has four sets of fabric-covered thumbtacks; you can also find some of them at See Jane Work and Paper Source.

postal stamp pushpins

For something totally different, take a look at the postal stamp pushpins sold by Omoi Zakka.

sword pushpins

And finally, let's note the many novelty pushpins: the swords, the medieval weapons, the teeth and the Phillips-head screws. Many of these can be found at numerous online shops.

Related Post:
Reader Question: Pushpins to Pine For

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Small Space Organizing: Living on a Boat

Selene 35 Trawler
Photo: Selene 45 Trawler

Want an organizing challenge? Try living in a converted bus (as I posted about some years ago) — or on a boat!

In the May 2012 edition of CoastViews, Phyllis Neumann wrote about her experience living on a 47-foot ketch — and what caught my eye wasn't especially about the use of space, but rather this:
Cruising life changed our perspective on life. We learned to slow down and smell the sea air. We learned how to live in harmony together in a small space, and to value the people around us. Most importantly, we learned not to cram so much into our lives, but to live each day to the fullest.
But others have written about the space constraints of boat living — and how they adjusted to those constraints. Here's part of a post from Jilliam Simensky, who wrote about her transition to living aboard a boat. (OK, I might wish she had said "donation and dumpster material," but the ideas about what we really need are still worthwhile.)
As I started to pack, a strange thing happened. None of my things seemed that important. I looked at each item being put into the box and easily made the distinction between necessary and dumpster material. In the end, I moved aboard with about a third of what I owned. ... 
Looking back, I am amazed how much this life aboard has changed me. ... I have reduced my possessions again by half, discarding the things that no longer add value to my life. My wardrobe contains only the things I actually wear. I no longer have a desire, or the space, for the latest gadget, another seldom-used appliance or dust collecting knickknacks. Now you'll find displayed a small collection of items I've picked up in my travels, each one holding special meaning. Typical American consumerism is rapidly becoming a thing of the past for me.
And Dave Zeiger, who writes about affordable living on the water, has a bunch of interesting stuff to say about living in small spaces, including this:
There’s an ever-evolving art to living small. Attitude is most important. Humor, tolerance, flexibility, ingenuity… not a bad set for life itself. 
A friend told us early on, “To live in a small space, you’ve got to be ruthless.” The more you can dis-attach yourself from stuff, the easier it is. Jettison those old high school medals, momentos of this or that, tureens. Cultivate a rich, internal life. Treasure memories, not souvenirs.