Monday, August 26, 2013

Small Kitchen Space-Savers: Stacking Mugs, Nesting Pans and More

stacking coffee cups with bear wearing tweed jacket and a tie

If you have a kitchen with limited storage space, things that nest or stack well can help make the most of that space. And some of the stackable and nesting options are pretty amazing — such as the stacking coffee cups from Jimbobart.


stacking mugs

Not into animals? Take a look at Typhoon, which has both stacking mugs and stacking espresso cups.


stacking mug - blue

And for gorgeous solid color stacking mugs, you can head over to Heath Ceramics.


nesting set of bowls, colander, sieve and measuring cups, in bright colors

Moving beyond mugs, let's look at the Nest series of food preparation products from Joseph Joseph. This is the Nest 9 Plus, with five measuring cups, a small mixing bowl, a mesh sieve, a colander, and a large mixing bowl. There's also the Nest 100, which has stainless steel bowls.


nesting pan set, in blue, green, purple and red

And finally, I want to thank organizer Jacki Hollywood Brown for reminding me about the products from Lakeland. I mentioned the nesting pan set in an earlier post, but there's also a nesting bakeware set — and the colourful nesting pan set shown above, which comes with two detachable handles.

Related Posts:
Saving Space: Using Stackable or Nesting Products
Saving Space in the Kitchen: Nesting Glasses

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Aprons with Pockets: Vendor Aprons, Bistro Aprons, Gardening Aprons and More

vendor apron, pocket with zipper, orange

If you're working in the kitchen, the garden, the art studio — anywhere you want to have a few tools handy all the time — an apron with pockets can be a useful tool. And aprons come in a huge range of styles, so there's something for everyone. Here are a few that caught my eye recently.

Let's start with the canvas, unisex, solid-color vendor aprons from Mzdesigns, available in 11 colors. They're intended for people working at craft fairs, but they could certainly have plenty of other uses. The zippered pocket would make the contents more secure than with some other designs.


half apron with pockets, floral design
apron pockets holding scissors, cell phone and more

If you'd prefer a half apron in a pattern, you could look at the large selection of aprons from AnnaTere Designs. These aprons have three pockets which are each 8 inches deep; zipper pockets, or velcro for existing pockets, can be added for an additional fee.


bistro apron, blue and white
bistro apron, unisex, striped, blue and white

A Kitschy Kitchen does a new take on bistro aprons; the three pockets here are each 9 inches deep. Some of the aprons are specifically designed to be unisex.


suede tool roll apron, pink, for the garden

Bradley's Tannery makes this lovely-looking suede tool roll apron, which can also be found at The Worm That Turned. The same apron also comes in blue and chocolate brown, and Bradley's has a number of other gardening aprons, too.


apron, striped, three pockets

Want a full apron? Hedley & Bennett has a nice selection, sold here. [via Better Living Through Design and The New York Times]


apron, floral, large pocket

Garson Jasper also has some lovely kitchen aprons.


waxed-canvas apron with leather pockets
apron with pockets, holding tools

And finally, here's the Gentleman's Apron from TRVR, made from waxed canvas and genuine leather. [via Uncrate]

Related posts:
Aprons as Organizing Tools
Aprons with Pockets: Practical and (Sometimes) Pretty

Monday, August 19, 2013

Getting Things Done: The Power of Partnering

Beth Lemke and Stephanie Hamilton

Meet Beth Lemke and Stephanie Hamilton. Beth owns a wonderful wine bar in Pacifica, California, called A Grape in the Fog. Stephanie, of Stephanie Hamilton Designs, knits some incredible jewelry. You can (sort of) see one of her earrings in the photo.

As I was having a glass of wine with Stephanie, she mentioned that she and Beth have been meeting at a local cafe, once a week for about a year and a half, to work on the kind of thing that's not the fun part of owning a business: answering emails, paying the bills, reviewing the financials, sending in applications for shows, etc. They also brainstorm with each other about ideas for their businesses.

And I thought this was such a great idea! When you know you're committed to meeting with someone else to do something you don't much like to do — whether it be exercise, the kinds of things Beth and Stephanie work on, or whatever else is your own personal bugaboo — it's more likely to really happen.

Anyone else do something like Beth and Stephanie? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

An Organizer Declutters Her Bathroom



Monday night, I had my book group over to my house — which means I spent part of Monday doing some house cleaning. Along the way, I found some interesting things to declutter — interesting to me, at any rate!

The first was some toilet bowl cleaner lurking at the back of an under-the-sink cabinet. I had two almost-full bottles, from two different companies — which would be bad enough, but I don't even use toilet bowl cleaner. (I don't find I need a special-purpose cleaner for the toilet.) So these both got freecycled.




The other was some soap. My soap dish has slats along the bottom, so excess water drains onto the counter — good for preserving the soap, but a mess on the countertop. And the dish itself gets to be a bit of a mess pretty quickly, too, with soap sticking to the sides and the slats. Hmm, I thought — maybe it's time for a new soap dish.

And then it dawned on me there was an easier answer. At my other bathroom sink I have a bottle of liquid soap — and I could just use liquid soap at both sinks, eliminating one clean-up job that I always disliked. So my current bar of soap went into the trash, and some spare soap got freecycled.

So now my bathroom is a bit less cluttered and a bit more functional, and that makes me happy.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Storage Bins for Shelving Units

wicker baskets, various colors, in shelf cubbies

If you have a shelving unit with cubes or cubbies, such as the Ikea Expedit, you may want baskets or bins to use with them. You may even want bins for shelves without cubbies! Let's look at some of the more interesting choices, going from largest to smallest.

The wicker Monday baskets from Maine Cottage, shown above, measure 13" x 13" — and while they are lovely, and come in a wide range of colors, they also cost $150 each. Don't worry; there are many less expensive options!


storage bin with picture of a dog

3 Sprouts has a series of animal-themed storage boxes that measure 13" x 13". There's the dog shown above, as well as a dragon, a gorilla, a kangaroo, a peacock, a rabbit and a unicorn. These are targeted at children, as are many of the other bins I'll be showing you — but there's no reason an adult couldn't use them, too. [via Cool Mom Picks]


milk crate storage in 3 colors

The milk crates from The Land of Nod also measure 13" x 13".


storage bins, striped

Looking for something a bit smaller? Restoration Hardware Baby & Child has 12" x 12" canvas storage bins in a variety of patterns. They're on sale right now; sales sometimes indicate a product that's going to be discontinued. The bins come in two sizes; for this purpose, you want the smaller one.


storage bins with numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.

And The Land of Nod has lots of options for you; I'll show you just a couple. These numbered bins are 11.75" x 10.75"


storage bins with polka dots

And there are cube bins with polka dots (11" x 12") and stripes (11" x 11"), as well as solid colors (11" x 11").


storage bin with picture of an owl

Going smaller still, the zoo storage bins from Skip Hop measure 10.5" x 11". There are five animals to choose from.


3 cardboard storage bins with pictures of a car, a bike and a plane

And finally, measuring 10" x 10", we've got the cardboard cubby bins from Sprout.

Related Post:
Ask the Organizer: Storage Baskets for Cubbies

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Not Your Ordinary Wall-Mounted Knife Racks

wood wall-mounted knife rack with slot for knives - walnut

Yesterday, we looked at five knife blocks — but what if you lack counter space, and would prefer a knife rack? I've got five more interesting choices to show you, starting with the knife racks from OnOurTable. They come in two lengths — that's the shorter one above — and there's also one with a shelf extending out in front of the knife slots. Besides having cool products, OnOurShelf says, "We are 100% committed to local manufacturing, sustainable materials & ethical production." You can also find the OnOurTable knife racks at Wood Design. [via Better Living Through Design] Update on Jan. 10, 2016: The Wood Design website has disappeared.

wall-mounted knife rack with slot for knives - New Zealand native timber
wood wall-mounted knife rack with slot for knives - made from recycled fencing

Billdan Design, based in New Zealand, has knife racks with a similar knife-slot design, but a rougher look. Many of the racks are made, in part, from recycled timber. Update on Jan. 10, 2016: BillDan still sells knife racks, but not this specific design.



wall-mounted magnetized knife rack - redwood

If you'd prefer a magnetized rack, you've got some lovely choices, too. Uusi makes these simple, elegant racks from old-growth, reclaimed cypress or redwood. As the company explains: "The wood selected for our knife holder was milled from early 20th Century water towers built in Chicago. This 300+ year-old wood with its natural staining and distinct characteristics lends a sense of history and beauty to this functional object making each one unique." You can get them made in custom sizes, too.


wall-mounted magnetic knife rack - bamboo

Meriwether of Montana has a few different options for storing knives; this knife holder is made from bamboo.


wall-mounted magnetic knife rack in bamboo, oak or beech


wall-mounted magnetic knife rack in six colors: green, orange, blue, red, white, black

And finally, Bisbell makes a knife rack in three different woods and six different colors.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Not Your Ordinary Knife Blocks

knife block with shelf for iPad
knife block with shelf for tablet computer

I love my iPad — so when I saw this knife block with a shelf for a tablet, I knew it was time to write about knife blocks again. This knife block is made by Victorinox, although I'm not seeing it on the Victorinox web site yet. [via I New Idea]


custom-made large knife block; woods = cherry and maple

Other knife blocks appealed to me because they're simply gorgeous. For example, take a look at the Mike Methieu's custom knife blocks, on his own website or on CustomMade.com.


custom knife block for 10 knives

And here's a very different custom knife block from Phil Crane of Artistry in Wood.


upright knife block for up to 20 knives

Need to store a lot of knives of varying sizes? This knife block from Ute Design of Australia, which holds up to 20 knives, was designed for cooks like you.


knife blocks - 3 sizes - made from reclaimed wood

And then there are the knife blocks made from reclaimed wood. These come from Viva Terra, but I found similar (if not identical) products at Bambeco and Gracious Home.

Related Posts:
Knife Blocks Don't Have to be Boring
Nine Options for Storing Your Knives
Knife Storage Without the Chunky Knife Block
Reader Question: The Best Way to Store the Knives?
Kitchen Knife Storage: Whimsical and Colorful

Friday, August 2, 2013

Finding the Balance: Saying Yes, No, and Not Now

text on page - no no no no no no no no yes
Photo by Abhi, found on Flickr, licensed via Creative Commons

I will say “no” when asked to assist on project. I will say no. Can say no, I can do this. Oh shit, I just said, “I would be happy to.” — Lynn Beisner

Over on Unclutterer, I recently wrote a post on the challenge of saying “no.” But I've got some more thoughts I want to share.

When we talk about being protective of our time, and saying “no” more often, we're not talking about being overly selfish with our time, or turning down opportunities that take us in directions we want to go. We do things to help our family and friends; we volunteer our time for organizations we support; we set aside time to learn new skills and follow our dreams. And sometimes in our careers we need to say “yes” to things we'd prefer to turn down; that's reality.

But it's easy to say “yes” to too many requests, even when we don't need to. For example, I've certainly fallen into the trap of agreeing to take on volunteer jobs I didn't really want to do — and then resenting it. That's not good for anyone. As Byron Katie said, “A dishonest yes is a no to yourself.”

Since finding the right balance between saying “yes” and saying “no” can be such a challenge, I'd like to share some other perspectives that might help.

1. Let's start with Warren Buffett, whose words I found on the website Minimal Mac:
The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say “no” to almost everything.
2. OK, we're not all Warren Buffett types. But I bet many of us can relate to these words from Chris Garrett, found via Jon Morrow:
Too much in my career I have been tending someone else’s garden, only to find my own withering and unloved. ... By saying “no” to the stuff that is wrong for us right now we have more capacity to say “yes” to the stuff that is right.
3. And here's Mark Forster:
By having a clear rule that we only say “yes” when we can say it wholeheartedly we can cut through all the guilt and manipulation and find the only thing that really matters — our own knowledge of what is right for us.
4. How to say no is often a challenge. I got a kick out of the letter that author E. B. White wrote back in 1956, even if I can't see using his words myself:
Thank you for inviting me to join the committee of the Arts and Sciences for Eisenhower.

I must decline, for secret reasons.
5. For more advice on how to say no, here's Seth Godin:
You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes.
6. Finally, here's some wisdom from Alisa Bonsignore about not overcommitting, which most of us can relate to. A client asked her to take on a new project when she was already fully booked, and she said:
I’m sorry, but I’m booked through next Friday. I really want to give your project the attention that it deserves. If we can start the following Monday, I’d be happy to take it on.
That's not a flat-out “no,” but rather a “not now.” And it worked, because here's the response she got from her client.
“I want you to say no,” he said. “I don’t want to sacrifice quality. This tells me that you’re conscientious, you know your limits, and when it’s time for my project, it will get your full attention.”
Related Posts:
Miss Manners: How to Say No
The Importance of Saying No: Two Perspectives
Yet Again: Learning to Say No
How to Say No: Advice from 8 Experts