October wrap up

Let’s take a few moments to remember some of the things that made October 2007 a great month at Unclutterer.com.

October’s most popular posts:

Additional highlights:

Unitasker Wednesday: The pet stroller

Pet StrollerTonight when you’re out trick-or-treating with the kids, bring your family pet along in this incredibly fashionable pet stroller … or not …

Call me old fashioned, but when I take a dog for a walk the dog should be walking too. I’m not exactly sure why one would purchase a pet stroller, but I guess I could come up with one reason. Your pet is either extremely old or in poor health and the only way you can take them for a walk is by using this stroller.

If your pet is in good health and you are pushing him around in a stroller, I must ask the obvious question, “Why?” Don’t baby your pet by pushing him around in a stroller. Are there pets that are bullying your little companion? If so, you are probably making the whole situation worse by making poor Scruffy the butt of all the other pet’s jokes. So unleash your little princess from the stroller and let the little thing live!

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

Monopoly: The uncluttered edition

MonopolyI wrote a piece in August suggesting ways to get board game clutter under control. Since that time, a new version of Monopoly has been released that takes this concept to heart.

Monopoly: Electronic Banking Edition forgoes the hundreds of pieces of Monopoly money and replaces it with electronic banking (a.k.a. fancy calculator with memory). The new game has fewer pieces to take care of (or risk losing) and serves as a lesson on how one can embrace going cashless to reduce wallet and purse clutter.

Do you feel animosity toward others in your home about their disorganization?

If you share your living space with another person, you have probably thought at one point or another that you were doing more to keep the place clutter free and organized than the other person. Maybe you still feel this way?

My post “Photographing your mementos” is a confession that I have not always been committed to simple living practices. It’s safe to say that until five or six years ago, I was the one annoying my husband and former roommates with my disorganization.

It wasn’t until I had been married for a few months that I started to notice that I was a problem. I didn’t want to be the problem, so I asked my husband if we could work to find a level of contentment between our two styles. He happily agreed because he was on the verge of erupting.

He suggested that we each make two lists. One list should detail our vision for our living space and the other list should explain what we do around the house to achieve that vision.

After we made our lists, we compared them and talked about what they said. We were surprised with the results.

For starters, our visions weren’t that different. We both wanted a place for everything in our home. The difference was that I thought we needed a bigger home for all of our things, and he thought we needed fewer things for our current home. After talking about our financial status and how we needed to be in our place for at least three or more years, I saw that my “bigger home” solution wasn’t practical. We couldn’t stay stuffed in a place for that amount of time. Yes, I wanted a bigger place, but I wasn’t going to sacrifice my husband’s sanity until we could get it.

Second, we found that our lists explaining what we did around the house to achieve our visions were extremely lopsided. And, strangely, I was doing more work than he was. It was not what we had expected at all. What we had expected, and what was true to some extent, was that I wasn’t doing the few things that he wanted me to do and, as a result, he was dismissing everything else I was doing. To fix this and the lopsided problem, we drew up a new list with all of the actions on it, and then went through and evenly divided the list. For a while, we even hung the list up in our kitchen to keep us on track.

I’m not going to say that making these lists saved our marriage, but they did help to make living together easier. If you are frustrated with the state of your home and how other people factor in on those feelings, you may want to try a similar exercise. Keep feelings out of the discussion and just focus on being honest and open with yourself and the other person or persons. Maybe even do it over hot chocolate and cookies at your local coffee shop to put a little fun into the activity. Communicating about everyone’s vision and what they do to achieve that vision can be eye opening for everyone involved. Good luck!

Set up a Flickr account for your little one

FlickrFlickr is a great tool for sharing photos online. It is easy to use and it is quite simply the best option for sharing photos of my daughter. Friends and relatives easily view photos of my growing 18 month old.

It cuts down on the guesswork of what photos people want and you no longer have to email people with updated photos in their inboxes. It is a great solution for those of you who are pressed for time when trying to keep some of your friends and relatives updated on your little one’s development. And, let’s be honest, some of your friends (mine included) probably don’t appreciate the huge emails you send them with 20 pics of your child.

For those of you who are worried about who looks at photos of your child, you have the option of keeping the photos private and then you can decide who looks at the photos. So, go ahead and set up an account and point your friends and family to the URL. You will no longer have to worry about letting people know how fast your little one is growing.

Reader question: How store earrings?

071015-earrings.jpgReader Laure sent us the following question:

Do you or any of your readers have a suggestion for storing earrings so that they are (preferably) not visible at all (i.e., in a dresser drawer or someplace else) or at least displayed elegantly in a way that takes up minimal space and doesn’t add to a visual sense of clutter? Thanks!

This is a great question, Laure! I use Stacking Ring Organizer Trays and Jewelry and Accessory Trays, which I bought at my local Container Store, for all of my earrings. I use a tool chest as my jewelry box and the trays set in the drawers nicely.

I think that egg cartons could serve the same function. You even could wrap the egg carton in fabric if you wanted it to look more sophisticated.

I think it is best to put your jewelry in a drawer for protection. It’s a lot more difficult to lose a valuable earring if it’s not out where someone could accidentally bump it.

Thank you, Laure, for your question. I hope our answer was helpful!

Reader suggestion: Fifty tips to unclutterer your blog

Unclutterer reader Skellie is a fan of organization. On her blog SkellieWag, she posted a list of 50 tips to unclutterer your blog. It is, as she describes, a “manifesto for defeating blog clutter.”

One of my favorite tips:

20. Remove ‘spam blocked’ counts. Do your readers really care how many spam comments Akismet or any other service has blocked? Akismet already comes with every copy of WordPress that is downloaded. It doesn’t really need more advertising.

Unclutterer may violate a few of her suggestions (*cough* #10 *cough*), but we agree with most of her recommendations. If you have a blog and are looking for ways to uncluttter it, Skellie’s tips are worth a look.

Uncluttered doesn’t have to mean sterile

When my husband and I were registering for wedding gifts, we had an epiphany about our future: we will eventually break our dishes and glassware. We doubted that we would break each and every dish, but we knew that a few would become casualties amid our daily routine.

Acknowledging that dishes will break resulted in a few changes to our registry. First, we decided to register for plain, white dishes of which we had no emotional attachment but served high utility. We went with a pattern that had been produced by a major manufacturer for decades because we knew that it was likely to continue or at least be easily replaced off of Replacements, Ltd. Also, we went with plain white because we knew that we could dress it up or down, as well as put it in the dishwasher.

Second, we decided to register for glassware that we knew was being discontinued. This kept the cost low, and paved the way for our real hope with our glassware. The idea was that as each piece broke, we would replace it with something completely different from our original set. If any of our friends broke a glass and offered to replace it, we’d just tell them to buy an inexpensive glass of their choosing. Variations in glassware look creative and inspiring against our plain white plates when we set the table.

It may sound cluttered to have non-matching glassware in the kitchen, but it’s not. We don’t have more glasses than we need, all of our glasses are functional, and they are stored appropriately. Being uncluttered doesn’t mean looking exactly the same, it means using and honoring what you have and being organized with its storage system.

The idea of mismatched glassware against a plain background can be instituted in many areas of your home. Think about having every chair around your dining table being different pieces from the same period or knobs on your kitchen cupboards being the same style but in different colors. Remember that good design and an uncluttered life can be full of variety and creativity in unconventional ways. You don’t have to live in an uncomfortable, soul-less museum to be clutter free.

Workspace of the Week: A view of Cinci

This week’s Workspace of the Week is ekalb’s’s tranquil desk.

Spring in Cincinnati

I guess I’m a sucker for views, but man I’d love to have such a nice view from my window. Every time you get stuck working, you can look up for inspiration. Ekalb writes that according to Wikipedia, the big building we see is “The Carew Tower [in Cincinnati], built before the Empire State Building was conceived, served as the basis for the design of the larger Empire State Building.”

Want to have your own workspace featured in Workspace of the Week? Submit a picture to the Unclutterer flickr pool. Check it out because we have a nice little community brewing there. Also, don’t forget that workspaces aren’t just desks. If you’re a cook, it’s a kitchen; if you’re a carpenter, it’s your workbench.

Is that a purse or an overnight bag?

At the outset, I’d like to clarify that I am not a woman and I have no expertise as to what a woman should or should not keep in their purse. That being said, is it necessary for women to lug around a “purse” that almost needs to be checked in when flying? As long as I’ve been with my wife she has always managed to survive with very tiny purses. Do other women just have that much stuff that they need on them at a moment’s notice? Now I’m not talking about backpacks or computer bags. Those are in a completely different category. I’m referring to purses. The purse may be as large as a backpack, but it is nothing more than a giant purse.

I would think that one could get by with a purse that is smaller than one’s own head, but the bags that I sometimes see could easily fit a couple heads and maybe even an infant. If you’re walking around with a purse that holds tons of stuff, you are most likely carrying around clutter that you probably can do without on a daily basis. Trim down on the clutter that you think you need with you at all times and you could definitely trim down on the purse size. You may surprise yourself and realize that you can carry everything you need in a sleek little clutch.

Uncluttering your digital music collection

Reader Bridget graciously sent us the following links to online articles discussing ways to unclutter your iTunes and digital music libraries:

If you know of other great articles on this topic, please leave a link or information on how to track down the article in the comments’ section. We are always looking to share ways to organize digital music collections.

Assembling meals outside your kitchen

Making a mess in the kitchen is a fact of life if you eat at home. If cooking isn’t your favorite thing to do, then cleaning up afterward may serve as an even bigger punishment. Kitchen counters cluttered with pots and pans can create stress and make fast food tempting.

I’ve noticed a number of stores popping up in the strip malls in my area that hope to make eating at home easier and faster. These stores have all of the ingredients for a variety of dinners and customers make meals to take home and freeze. Their assembly line concept keeps your kitchen mess free and may save you time.

Dream Dinners is one of these types of stores where you prepare 12 meals in two hours. Let’s Dish is like Dream Dinners but it has an option where you can pay extra for the store to make your dinners and you just pick them up and take them home. Many of these meal assembly stores are locally owned, so check your regional retail listings to learn about them in your area.

While researching the assembly line stores, I also learned about services that will mail you dinners frozen in dry ice. Dine Wise is a meal delivery service that offers weight loss, diabetic, low carb, low sodium, and gluten free mailed meals. And, Chefs Diet is one that promises its clients that they will lose weight eating their food. A Google search for “prepared meals by mail” will yield pages of results of companies offering home delivery.

All of these options require thawing and heating your dinner in the microwave, but this can be done on serving plates. Fewer dishes and less stress about what’s for dinner can make cleaning up afterward a more enjoyable experience. And, if you clean up the kitchen, it’s likely to be uncluttered. I like to cook and don’t mind cleaning up afterward, so these types of dinners aren’t for me. However, I can see how they would be very tempting for a busy family and for people who don’t like to cook.