Friday, November 24, 2017

Hundred Dollar Holiday

Amid all the gift lists circulating online at this time of year, I’d like to also mention the ideas in Hundred Dollar Holiday by Bill McKibben.

That “hundred dollars” is not an absolute; if you buy into McKibben’s approach you may want to choose a different number. As McKibben says, “The goal ... is not to spend as little money as possible ... it’s to have as much fun as possible.”

As he explains:
Trimming the tree, eating the turkey, opening the stockings, singing the carols: if these things bring you joy, and for most people they do, then they are parts of Christmas you want to focus on. And you can focus on them more easily, as well as incorporate all sorts of new and borrowed rituals, once you’ve put aside the burden of buying carloads of presents.

Now, this is all assuming a family that is reasonably well off, financially. For those whose financial situation is more precarious, gifts of clothing, towels, toys and such may be very welcome. If your finances allow, you may get some joy (as I do) from participating in an “adopt a family” program where you shop for items on someone else’s wish list. There are programs along these lines throughout the U.S. — and beyond.

But for many of us, McKibben writes, “We have so much stuff that a pile of presents is no longer exciting.” And in those cases, we might choose to rethink our gift-giving approaches. As McKibben says:
The point is not to stop giving; the point is to give things that matter. Give things that are rare — time, attention, memory, whimsy.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Storing Vinyl Records with Cover Art in Mind

I’ve written before about ways to store a vinyl album collection, but there are also a number of products that focus on displaying the covers of selected albums. This can turn favorite album covers into cool wall art, and some products also provide a way to keep albums currently in play close at hand. I wrote about some of these products on Core77, but here are a few more worth noting.

Well Made is running a Kickstarter for Visible Vinyl, with a tabletop stand for a single album and three different sizes of wall-mounted rails. These are all solid wood, and they come in three finishes: walnut, oak and black. If you miss the Kickstarter (which ends on July 18), you could head over to the Well Made website to see if the company is selling them there.

While there are a lot of companies selling acrylic album frames, Line Phono makes one in wood. The album just slides in from the top, so it’s easy to insert and remove the album.

If you want to display four albums (or two gatefolds) you could use the Queue from Harold. It’s deep enough to hold multiple records in each slot, but then some of them wouldn’t be visible (which could be OK if you’re just using this to queue up your next music rather than to see all the covers). You can get it from Harold (where it’s currently on backorder) or from Turntable Lab.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Organizing After the Death of a Spouse

The following words of wisdom come from Tamara Turcott, of An Eye for Detail, who was widowed six years ago. She posted it on a message board used by members of the National Association of Professional Organizers, in response to a question posed there, and I thought this was so good I wanted to share it. Tamara graciously gave me permission to do so. Much of this advice would apply to organizing after the death of any loved one.

Everything you feel and do is OK. If you feel like you can sort through papers, do it. If you bag up clothes and they just can't leave the house yet, do it. I lived with his toothbrush in my cup holder for a year. I cleared out the closet for myself one week before year six. I gave away his walker in the first month. You'll find the items he loved the most, the hardest to part with.

And in the beginning, moving anything feels like acknowledging the loss. I found it easiest to start by giving his belongings to good causes, people in immediate need, and family members who would cherish them. Each gift was a gift from him, and therefore it felt right.

To this day, a pair of destroyed sneakers still sit in my basement because I can't bear to put them in the trash: the only place they belong. There are no rules in grieving except that you are comfortable. The same applies to organizing in grief. You can't know how you will feel until you try, but the second you try, you'll know. Hold the items. Imagine yourself taking the next step. How does that feel? If it feels OK, then do it. If it feels like your chest is tightening and you can't breathe, put it right back down. You will get there. Just not yet.

Monday, May 22, 2017

5 Desk Organizers With Very Different Designs

I’ve written about many notable desk organizers over on the Core77 website; if you’re an office supply fan, you can go see my posts from May 2014, October 2015 and July 2016. But because so many of us could use a desk organizer, and we all have somewhat different needs and aesthetic preferences, more interesting product keep coming along. One of these is Gather, from Ugmonk, currently available via Kickstarter.

The basic product has a pencil holder, a phone holder, a sticky-note holder, and two sizes of trays — all of which can be arranged on the base however you wish. You can also add on a headphone stand and a coaster. It seems to be a lovely, compact piece. (via Uncrate)

The Niu desk organizer from Ubikubi, designed by Dragos Motica, is made with cork and painted aluminum. It has a lot of pieces: a sticky-note holder, a business card holder, a tape dispenser, a phone/tablet support (that item in the middle), a pen/pencil holder, a cup for paper clips or any other such item, a pencil sharpener (the item in the front, off the tray) and the paper tray itself. This lets you keep the items together or move them around your desk — whichever you prefer. But it also includes specific tools you may not need. (via Design Milk)

If you just need a small desk organizer for notepads, pens and your smartphone, the Bau organizer from Most Modest would work. You have your choice of five colors for that bottom stripe.

If you’d like to keep some things hidden away but still right at hand, you might like the Estuche desk organizer from Oitenta.

That enclosed area is quite a versatile storage space, holding things such as charging cords, sticky notes, a box of paper clips, etc. But there’s no external storage spot for a notepad or sticky notes, which will be a problem for some folks.

If you have a desktop computer (or a laptop used with an external monitor, keyboard and mouse) you might like the desk organizer from GardenX. That space for your smartphone doesn’t look large enough for the larger models now being sold, though; you’d probably want to contact the seller for dimensions. But then again, that space could be used for things other than a smartphone, as at least one purchaser has done.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

In Honor of My Mom: Organizing in Blue for 2017

My poor blog! It’s been neglected as I focused my writing energies on Core77 (through last year) and Unclutterer (ongoing). But it’s time to resume posting, and this seemed like a good way to start. Ten years ago today, my mom died of pancreatic cancer. Her favorite color was blue, so this is my annual tribute to her. (Sadly, I missed last year due to my hip surgery.)

Let’s start with this bright blue basket from L'Atelier de NaNa H — good for holding all sorts of small items.

This catchall from A & B Design Studio is another lovely shade of blue.

And here's a different sort of catchall from feltplanet.

This earring stand comes from Allison Glick Ceramics.

Finally, this is the Lexon flip alarm clock. Mom would have liked this not just because it's blue, but because it has a big, easily legible display. And it’s super-simple to use; you just flip the clock over to turn the alarm off and on. (The display changes its orientation when you do that.)