July wrap up

As the month comes to a close, let’s take a few moments to look back over some of the things that made July 2007 a great month at Unclutterer.com.

July’s most popular posts:

Additional Highlights:

Bike storage solutions

When you aren’t riding your bike where do you store it? There are many storage solutions available that will keep your bike out of the way when it isn’t in use. Here are some of the the options:

Racor Ceiling Mounted Bike Lift (pictured): Easily lift your bike up and out of the way with this pulley system. The down side is that it only fits one bike so you would have to purchase more than one to accommodate your needs.

Racor Pro Double Folding Bike Rack: This fits two bikes and folds up against the wall when not in use. It also includes a shelf for bike accessory storage.

Dual Bike Storage Rack: It assembles in minutes and requires no mounting or tools and holds two bikes. The pole system adjusts to the height of your ceiling.

Free Standing Four Bike Rack: This rack fits up to four bikes and can be assembled without any tools. The bikes are not quite out of the way with this one, but it does get the bikes in one compact spot.

Monster Bike Hook Set: The cheapest and easiest way to get your bike out of the way is to install hooks into the ceiling. No need for racks or pulley systems.

Unclutterer joins the LifeRemix network

Unclutterer is pleased to announce that it has joined LifeRemix, a network of personal enrichment blogs. LifeRemix blogs explore the topics of productivity, happiness, work and family balance, personal development, and, of course, home and office organization.

LifeRemix compiles headlines from all of its member blogs: Black Belt Productivity, Behance, Cranking Widgets, Dumb Little Man, Happiness Project, LifeClever, LifeDev, No Impact Man, Pick the Brain, Success From the Nest, Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Workweek, WiseBread, and Zen Habits.

As a member of the network, a link to LifeRemix now will sit permanently on the right-hand sidebar of our homepage.

To garner a feel for the types of blogs featured on LifeRemix, check out 100 Great Tips to Improve Your Life. This article features entries from all the member sites.

Yard sale preparation

My wife and I have decided to put our house on the market. Our current home is too large and we would like to downsize. To get our home into order we have decided to have a yard sale. You don’t realize how much stuff you accumulate until you take an inventory. It is a bit overwhelming.

We are having the yard sale at my parent’s house because our home in the city isn’t conducive to a yard sale, so we are going to transport all of our items there. This is definitely a step I would skip if at all possible. Here are the things we have done in the last few days in preparation:

  • Browsing: Go through every room of your home and browse for things that you don’t use or don’t need.
  • Sorting: After doing the first walk through of your home separate everything into logical categories; kitchen, bathroom, baby clothes, baby toys, back to school college items, and then box them up for easy transport.
  • Trashing: You will inevitably come across some items that you wouldn’t give to a dog. You don’t want to include those things in your sale, so get the trash bags ready.
  • Pricing: It is a yard sale, so we made sure to price everything very reasonably. Nothing we priced is more than $5. Some furniture items will most likely be priced higher, but we marked those as “make an offer.”
  • Consultation: Try and get some pointers from a yard sale veteran. We have the expertise of my mother-in-law who has had many garage/yard sales under her belt. She also frequents the yard sale circuit and is familiar with what people want and how things are priced.

    Here are some additional tips from our experienced consultant:

    1. Start an hour earlier than other yard/garage sales. Since most start at 8am, start yours at 7am.
    2. Put an ad in the classified section of your local paper to run the day before the sale.
    3. Be sure to mention key items in your ad, such as collectibles, antiques, maternity, furniture, baby clothes, electronics, etc. Those are the most looked after items.
    4. Directly after the your sale, make arrangements with a friend or family member with a truck to pick up the unsold items to take directly to a donation
      center.

The yard sale is scheduled for August 11. I’ll have more posts on this subject in the near future and a follow-up after the sale.

Coleman multi-tasking blanket

Here at Unclutterer, we love multi-taskers. Especially, multi-taskers that can be stored away in a neat little bag. The Coleman All Outdoors 3-In-1 Blanket is a versatile blanket, poncho, and pillow.

This thing is perfect for camping, at a picnic, or taking it along to the stadium to watch a game. It folds neatly into the hood of the poncho to create a pillow for easy storage and to cushion yourself on an uncomfortable bleacher seat. The poncho is waterproof in case you get caught in the rain and the blanket serves you well at a picnic or for when you are chilly. It’s handle also makes it easy to hang on a hook in your garage or basement when it’s not in use. What more can you ask for? This thing is versatile on road trips and adaptable to a number of situations.

A travel friendly solution for your baby’s dining needs

So you have an infant or toddler and you’re traveling to a destination that isn’t equipped with a high chair? This Easy Diner Portable Hook-On High Chair by Regalo is a great solution to your problem. The chair can be assembled and attached to a table in a few easy steps. It also stows away into a supplied carrying bag. We put one to use for a week on vacation and it was very useful. The chair was a little difficult to attach to the table, but that was due to the tightening mechanism which was a bit cumbersome. There is a similar product called the Phil and Ted’s MeToo Chair that is double the price, weighs less, and looks a bit easier to install if you are so inclined.

Other travel dining seats (like booster chairs) are a bit large and they don’t collapse down into a more manageable size. This hanging type of chair works well, is easily portable, and saves space in your trunk for your luggage.

Reader question: How to dispose of unused medications

A reader sent us the following question:

“A family member is taking medications for a long term illness. Periodically, the medication is changed. We have ended up with many partial bottles of medications and empty bottles. The prescription bottles have info on it that you wouldn’t necessarily want to get in the wrong hands if you just threw it in the trash as well as old meds. What is a good way to dispose of these?”

When I was younger, I dumped old medicines down the toilet and flushed them. Just so we’re clear, this was the WRONG thing to do. I had no idea that medications (prescription and over-the-counter drugs) are hazardous waste, which they are, and I was just polluting the environment unwittingly. Shame on me.

I have learned my lesson, however, and can offer some advice to you on this issue:

  • DON’T flush unused medications down the toilet or wash them down the sink.
  • Many pharmacies and doctor’s offices have pharmaceutical take-back programs. Call before you go, but this is a simple option if you’re headed to the pharmacy anyway to pick up a new prescription.
  • The EPA suggests that you black out with a permanent marker your personal information and your doctor’s information on the container, and then take your unused medications to your local hazardous waste facility. To find your local facility, check out the interactive map on the EPA website.
  • Look at the printed material accompanying your medications to see if there are special disposal instructions. In some cases, the FDA advises what procedure to use. The list of special drugs can be found at the bottom of this page if you have inadvertently discarded your original printed materials.
  • If you live in an extremely rural area miles away from a pharmacy and hazardous waste facility, as a last resort, follow this advice from the state of Florida.

I hope that this advice is helpful. This is also a good opportunity to remind everyone to regularly clean out your medicine chest for health, safety and decluttering reasons!

More than 15 ways to handle recurrent clutter

There are three areas in my home that are on a recurrent cycle of being cluttered and cause me stress: the kitchen, the family room, and the dirty clothes hamper in the bedroom.

I have taken many steps to try to get my laundry problem under control, but I continue to wrestle with it. The kitchen is a similar stress aggravated by the fact that my husband and I eat three meals a day at home. Then, there is the family room where things come in and never leave.

These three areas have one thing in common: they have a constant supply of input. Every night I deposit clothes into the hamper. Every day I sit and knit or read or watch tv or whatever I’m doing to relax in my family room. Every meal I dirty pots, pans, plates, utensils, and cups, and every week I bring in more food to repeat the cycle.

I’ve been working diligently recently to keep these areas clutter free in my own home, and can share a few tips and advice. I hope that you find at least one or more helpful.

Laundry

  • If you haven’t already read it, start by going to my previous post on dealing with laundry clutter. Following these tips have made my laundry situation bearable.
  • Additionally, I recommend making your laundry room as welcoming, cheerful, and serene as possible. A laundry room that is pleasant to be in makes doing the laundry much less of an annoyance. A dark, dreary basement with bare concrete walls isn’t inviting. Spruce up your space so that being in it is a reward, not a punishment.

(more…)

Organizing your dorm room

College dorm life can be rather trying. Reader Cody recently e-mailed us asking if we had any advice to share on how to handle life in these tight living quarters.

We agree that it is difficult to keep the small dorm rooms organized and in an uncluttered state. Here are some tips and products to help achieve the nearly impossible task:

  • One of the worst things about dorm life is taking a shower. You have to gather up all of your things and take the walk down the hall to the shower facility. Make sure you have all your products in a tote that you can carry with you. You don’t want to forget anything and have to make that walk again.
  • Next on the list is doing your laundry. Again, you must walk somewhere to do your laundry and you have to make sure you have everything you need to clean your clothes. With this hamper tote the clothes are already separated and there are storage pockets for laundry supplies.
  • Closet space is at a premium and you can’t really install anything into your space, so go for the hanging organizer that adds six shelves to your tiny closet. Also, try and put normally unused space to use. An overdoor shoe rack with hanging hooks can do the trick behind your door.
  • Under bed storage bins can come in handy. Put them to use by storing out-of-season clothing, extra blankets, and school supplies.
  • Dairy crates are great for storing and stacking books, media, and whatever else you can think of. They also come in handy when you are moving to and from school.
  • Try and pack the bare minimum when you first move into your dorm room. The less you have the better. If you find that you need something, go ahead and have the parents bring it when they come and visit or pick them up when you’re home for a break.

I hope these tips help out. We’ll try to get some more ideas your way in the coming weeks before classes start back up in the fall. Now let’s just hope your room mate lives an uncluttered lifestyle. Good luck on that one.

Attack your junk drawer

We all have at least one drawer in our house that has turned into what can be called a junk drawer. It has no real purpose other than being a hodge podge of items that don’t have any where else to go. The best way to attack a junk drawer is by following these easy steps:

  1. Dump it. The junk drawer is in constant disarray so you have to start with a drastic measure. Simply dump the drawer out onto a flat surface and start going through the miscellaneous debris.
  2. Pitch it. There is bound to be a ton of stuff in there that serves no purpose for you. Go ahead and trash it.
  3. Sort it. Start to separate everything into categories. Office supplies, tools, batteries, pens and pencils, old bills, and old receipts (most likely these need to be thrown away too.)
  4. Divide it. Buy or build your own drawer divider and keep each pile of stuff separated into its own section.

Now that wasn’t too difficult was it? Now make sure to keep the drawer in a orderly fashion and don’t just throw random items into it.

Unitasker Wednesday: Apple peeler-corer

My love affair with Williams-Sonoma’s endless supply of unitaskers continues with this contraption to help you peel and core your apples. This thing might come in handy if you are baking hundreds of apple pies out of your home kitchen, but if you make a couple of apple based foods a year you may want to skip this unitasker. It measures in at over a foot long and looks to be the size of a bench vise you’d see on someone’s woodworking bench.

So how many apples do you peel and core per year? In my household, I’d venture a guess of less than ten. (Maybe much less than ten.) But, if you are peeling and coring until your hands are sore, Williams-Sonoma has you covered.

**Unitasker Wednesday posts humorously poke fun at the single-use items that seem to find their way into our homes.

Website helps identify walker-friendly neighborhoods

When I lived in downtown Washington, D.C., I didn’t have a car. I didn’t have a need for one. The grocery store was four blocks away from where I lived, my job was less than a mile, my husband worked from home, the metro went everywhere I regularly went (including the airport), and I saved so much money on gasoline, insurance, maintenance, and car payments that I never felt frustrated if I needed to take a cab.

Many of our readers who subscribe to a simple living lifestyle and also eschew car ownership might be interested in a website I stumbled upon recently. Walk Score rates different addresses based on their distance to walkable locations like grocery stores, restaurants, libraries, schools, parks, and then looks at accessibility, speed controlled streets, and other walking-friendly factors. According to the website, I used to live in a “walkers’ paradise” with a score of 92 out of 100 possible points. I would agree completely with that score.

Readers looking for a car-less lifestyle should definitely give Walk Score a look before your next move. The site’s how it doesn’t work page is worth a read, too. It’s informative and quite entertaining.