Unitasker Wednesday: Nutmeg Grinder

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I appreciate a little freshly ground nutmeg on things like chai lattes and roasted carrots. To use it, I grab my multi-tasking cheese grater that has a zesting plane on one of its sides, and I grind a bit of a nutmeg seed onto whatever it is I’m preparing. Fresh nutmeg seeds store almost indefinitely in a sealed container (I use a little glass jar), so as long as you keep them away from light, heat, and moisture, you don’t really need anything special to keep a few in your kitchen.

Noting how easy it is to have fresh nutmeg on hand, I have to admit to being confused by this device specifically made to grind nutmeg seeds — the Nutmeg Grinder:

First, this device is about the size of a travel coffee mug. It’s not small, like a salt or pepper shaker. For a single use device, it takes up a decent amount of space in your cupboards. Second, and this is my main beef with it, it’s not electric. The piece on the top folds out and you have to hand-crank the grinder. You use the same amount of effort as you do if you were to manipulate a nutmeg seed across a zesting plane. I thought initially that if you had arthritis or another hand complication that an electric grinder might be useful, but since this one requires hand strength and agility it doesn’t help anyone with those needs.

When outfitting a kitchen, it’s fine to consider single-use devices if they are extremely convenient and save you time and space and you regularly use them. But, even if you regularly use freshly ground nutmeg, this device won’t save you time or space and its purpose can be easily duplicated by a multi-purpose device.

Unclutterer updates

This week has been incredibly exciting in our Unclutterer world and I’m eager to share the details.

First up, I signed a contract for a second organizing book. The working title is Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter and it is scheduled for an early 2016 release. I had a burning desire not to rewrite my first book, so this one took awhile to develop and find the right home for it. It’s full color and fun and will be a visual processor’s delight. I’m working with Harlequin Non-Fiction for this book, which at first might seem like an odd choice, but is actually perfection. Harlequin understands digital better than any other publisher out there, and I wanted the digital version of my book to be as amazing as the print version.

My editor for this book and I have such a similar vision for Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter that it is a little creepy. It will feature hundreds of projects you can complete in as little as 30 seconds, a minute, five minutes, all the way up to full weekend activities. There are quizzes and inspiring quotes and the whole book makes you want to get up off your tushy and get organized — even when you’re pressed for time. I am so excited about being able to make this book for you and others who are interested in finding more organization and less clutter in their lives.

My second announcement is that I’m a featured expert in the August 2014 issue of Real Simple Magazine. I answer a series of readers’ questions about topics ranging from photographs to refrigerators. If you are a subscriber, you should have received the issue earlier this week in your mailboxes. If you aren’t a subscriber, you can get the August issue on newsstands today. The feature begins on page 77 with a drawing of me that doesn’t include a single wrinkle (you’re welcome to pencil those in around my eyes if you prefer authenticity).

I am very thankful to Real Simple for including me in their Ask the Organizer series. I believe I’m the eighth organizer, and they are featuring 12 this year. The feature has been terrific, and I recommend checking out the advice from each month for some amazing tips.

There is also a possibility I’ll be in another issue of the magazine this fall. I’ll keep you posted as we get closer to that publication date.

Unitasker Wednesday: Vessyl

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we aren’t trying to encourage you to buy these items, we are trying to get you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

This week’s unitasker selection is the Vessyl. And, there is nothing I could write about it that would be as entertaining as what Stephen Colbert has already said:

(If you can’t see the above video clip, try http://www.youtube.com/embed/VvkvBIleOEo?rel=0 on YouTube.)

Thanks to reader Tabitha for bringing our attention to Colbert’s segment.

Unitasker Wednesday: Yellow Pages Booster Seat

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Once upon a time, if you were too short to see over your steering wheel in your car or you simply needed to be taller when sitting down at a table, you would place a giant Yellow Pages between your tush and a chair. Now, you don’t need to sacrifice that never referenced book and you can duplicate its only purpose using a plastic Yellow Pages Booster Seat instead:

Your real Yellow Pages will now be free to take up space in your recycling bin just as it has for tall people since the invention of Google.

WAIT! Don’t recycle that Yellow Pages just yet! Sadly, this item appears to be out of stock and currently unavailable on Amazon. Please try to contain your tears so they don’t drip down your face and onto your keyboard.

Thanks again to Unclutterer Dave for tracking down this redundant device for us.

Unitasker Wednesday: The Beer Holster

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

There was a time when I owned a sweatshirt with an insulated pouch in it to hold a bottle of beer. I lived in a college town and tailgating before football games was a nearly weekly event. When that phase of my life ended, I got rid of the sweatshirt and simply relied on my Sküüzi. (Just kidding, though the Sküüzi still makes me laugh.)

In the same tipsy and unitaskery spirit, I present this week’s selection — the Beer Holster:

Strap the Beer Holster to your leg, and you’re ready to do whatever it is you do with a beer strapped to your leg. Which, I guess, only includes standing? You can’t really do much else or you’ll spill your beer. So, strap it on and stand! (At least with the sweatshirt and Sküüzi you can sit down … this thing is somehow even less functional than those unitaskers …)

If you want to get all fancy, you can even get a monogramed beer holster from Red Envelope. Oooh, la la!

And, if you like to drink beer from cans, you’re in luck! You can buy a camouflage fanny pack that holds SIX cans. (The camouflage fabric is obviously necessary to keep deer from stealing your brew.)

Thanks to Unclutterer Dave for finding the Beer Holster unitasker for us.

Unitasker Wednesday: Leifheit 37200 Cherrymat Cherrystone Remover

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not much of a fan of cherries (that is unless they’re candied and slathered in chocolate or soaked in maraschino liqueur, because those types of cherries are tolerable). Until I had children, I didn’t even own a cherry pitter — no need for one. Then, last spring, my then-three-year-old son declared that he loved cherries and that he wanted to eat “all the cherries in the world.” So, like mothers tend to do when their kids express eagerness about eating fresh fruit when it’s in season, I tried my best to buy all the cherries and also picked up a $15 cherry pitter to make the process of eating a cherry less troublesome for the kid.

The device is quite simple to use and I even made a few cherry pies at the start of the summer (humming the atrocious “Cherry Pie” song the entire time, no thanks to Warrant). It’s small, it does what it needs to do, it can also be used on olives, and in May of this year I started regularly using it again when cherries came back into season.

Seeing as there is this totally useful, small device that has existed for hundreds of years to effectively remove pits from cherries, you can imagine my amazement (horror?) when I came across this monstrosity — the Leifheit 37200 Cherrymat Cherrystone Remover

Oh my goodness, this thing is huge. Unless you own an enormous bakery or restaurant, I don’t know why anyone would sacrifice so much storage space for a cherry pitter. It does the exact same thing as the smaller model — one at a time pit removal — at about the same speed but at more than double the price ($40). And it’s not alone, the Norpro Deluxe Cherry Pitter is almost as large. There is an entire market of giant cherry pit removers!

With any product you choose to keep in your home, you should ask yourself if it’s worth the storage space (and for a seasonal product like this, you have to consider at least nine months of storage each year without any use). Specifically, a giant cherry pitter is likely not worth it, especially when there is a significantly smaller product that does the exact same thing with the same amount of effort. Or, if you’re like me and don’t like cherries, owning the smaller cherry pitter might not even be worth the storage space. It’s good to think about the items you already own and about anything you are considering purchasing — do you need the Leifheit 37200 Cherrymat Cherrystone Remover when a less expensive and smaller handheld cherry pitter will completely meet your needs? You’ll have to make the call, but it’s something to consider. Your space, time, and money are limited — are you okay with making these tradeoffs in pursuit of the life you desire? Only you know the answer.

Unitasker Wednesday: Multicolor Ocean Wave Light Projector

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Do you like to dream you’re drowning and then wake up in a total panic because it actually looks and sounds like you are immersed in water? If so, I have the perfect thing for you! The Multicolor Ocean Wave Light Projector:

As for me, I don’t find the sensation of drowning to be “an enjoyable experience,” as the product description suggests. I also don’t find drowning to be “an atmosphere of calm.” The phrases I would use to describe the conditions of being under water would be “anxiety causing” and “unimaginably terrifying.” And the phrase I would use to describe the sounds of running water coming out of the device’s speakers would be “probably pee inducing.”

A Kickstarter project to help music-makers get organized

Today, our parent company launched an exciting Kickstarter campaign for an online platform for music education, practice, and collaboration.

It’s called MusicFol.io and it’s designed to help people keep all aspects of their musical lives organized.

There’s a second video on the Kickstarter page that shows a detailed demo of how the site will work.

If you think you might find this useful, please consider backing the project. And please share it with any music students, teachers or performers you know who could benefit from a suite of online organization and collaboration tools like this.

Unitasker Wednesday: Unicorn Sprinkles Shaker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

If ever something were to come out of a unicorn’s tushy, sprinkles would best be suited for the task. However, I’m not really sure something should come out of a unicorn’s tushy …

The Unicorn Sprinkles Shaker:

Although super cute, I do have a number of logistical concerns about this product. My biggest problem is that it’s not sealable. When not in use, moisture and air can get in and degrade your sprinkles (or jimmies, if you’re from the small part of the US that uses that term). Small bugs and dust can also get into the container and contaminate your sugary confection. A storage container for candy that doesn’t seal when not in use is a really bad idea.

Looking at the second image above, it appears the unicorn’s derriere has atrocious accuracy. There are wasted sprinkles strewn all over that table top. Wasted sprinkles?! Shame on you, Unicorn Sprinkles Shaker! Shame. On. You.

Next, you can’t see the sprinkles in the unicorn’s guts and legs to know how many sprinkles you have left or what kind you’re going to get before you shake the unicorn’s backside over your cupcake or ice cream sundae. No one wants to be surprised by the wrong type of sprinkles (and the wrong ones are obviously the hard, solid sugar ones with no chocolate — the chocolate makes them yummylicious).

In our house, we have one container with six sorted colors of sprinkles — red, yellow, blue, green, pink, and orange — because sometimes my son only wants green and on KU game days I only want red and blue. And, there is no way I’m going to stand and sort out all the single colors of sprinkles from the herd. (All the single sprinkles, all the single sprinkles.) To meet our needs, we would need six Unicorn Sprinkles Shakers, one for each color, and that is simply ridiculous.

Oh, Unicorn Sprinkles Shaker, you’re adorable but wholly unhelpful and would quickly become clutter in a kitchen cupboard.

(Swell. Now I have the My Little Pony theme song AND “Single Ladies” stuck in my head. Thanks, Unicorn Sprinkles Shaker.)

Unitasker Wednesday: Garnish Ribbon Curl Cutter

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Did you read The Dark Materials series of books? I ask because this week’s unitasker instantly made me think of those books. If you didn’t read the series, there is a group of people in it called the Tartars and they’re into drilling holes into people’s skulls. (Doing so lets in “dust,” which is part of the plot and very disturbing.) Now that you’re well versed in the Tartars and their obsession with trepanation, you see the connection between the unitasker and the story, too, I bet. HOW COULD YOU NOT?!! The Garnish Ribbon Curl Cutter:

This device is crazy scary. I know it says it’s for ribbon curling carrots, but that is not what it looks like it is used for. This thing is a weapon! How is it even sold on Amazon?! If my parents would have had one of these growing up, I never would have gone into the kitchen. It’s terrifying.

MAYBE a fancy restaurant would have need for something like this, but they would need to keep it under lock and key for obvious reasons. This may just be the scariest looking unitasker we’ve ever featured.

Whatever you do, don’t let any kids see this post. Gah!

Six steps to establishing order in your home after an inevitable dip into chaos

This week has been one of those weeks where I never found my rhythm. You’ll notice that Tuesday’s post ran on Wednesday and then there wasn’t a Unitasker Wednesday post. I forgot my son’s weekly swimming lesson, which has been at the same date and time this entire year. All day yesterday, I kept making plans for today as if it were Sunday. There are a handful of other examples, all proving that my head has not been attached to my shoulders this week.

As is the case for most people, as my mental space has become chaotic, so has my physical space. Mt. Laundry has erupted in my laundry room. I’ve been rushed, so things haven’t been put away as I’ve used them. It has also affected my kids, since I’m not giving them time to clean up before we run to the next activity. TMZ could do an expose with intense music and tell-all photographs with the headline “And she calls herself the Unclutterer!”

In the professional organizing industry, we refer to these times as “falling off the wagon.” It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I have to find a way to chase down the wagon and get back on. The following steps are what I do to keep the chaos short lived:

  1. Cut yourself a break. Everyone, even professional organizers, find themselves in a cluttered state occasionally. It’s inevitable because life isn’t predictable. Don’t beat yourself up over the chaotic times or feel guilty about them. Rather, simply recognize you’re off course and then reroute yourself at the first possible opportunity.
  2. Invite people over. When things are in disarray, my usual response is to invite people to my house. This gives me a set deadline for when things need to be back together. Fewer things get me as motivated to clean, organize, and unclutter as knowing my friends will be stepping foot in my house.
  3. Tackle one room at a time. I like checklists, and the floor plan of my house often operates as one. (I do this mentally, I don’t have an actual printed floor plan, but you could if you like.) Kitchen, dining room, living room, office … I work through each room and mark it off as I go. I always start with the common places, where guests will certainly see, and then finish with my bedroom. This is convenient, too, because I’m usually ready for a nap after a whole-house reordering project.
  4. Get rid of stuff. One of the reasons I can do a whole-house reordering project in a couple hours is because I don’t have a lot of stuff and our house is relatively small (<1,300 sq ft). Less stuff equals less mess. As I clean and organize, I also get rid of stuff. If it's out of place, it might be because it doesn't have a permanent storage place. Things without permanent storage places are usually purged (recycled, donated, trashed, etc.) so they don't keep making a mess. If I don't purge it, I find a permanent home for it, no exceptions. A place for everything, and everything in its place.
  5. Take a picture. My eyes tend to gloss over things that have been out of place for awhile. I call this clutter numbness. If I take a picture of a room and study the image, however, all that clutter catches my attention. I do this after I’ve had my nap and I almost always find entire patches of stuff I missed on the first pass.
  6. Call in reinforcements. Whenever things get chaotic, I call in a professional cleaning service to scrub my floors, counters, and bathrooms. They also dust and do any other deep-cleaning work that needs to get done. I schedule them for after I’ve done the whole-house reordering project but before my friends’ arrival. This is my reward to myself for razing Mt. Laundry and getting the house back on track. It’s not an everyday thing, but a couple times a year it’s nice to have someone else clean the toilets.

After these six steps are complete, it’s a lot easier to get my head back on my shoulders. Similar to how mental chaos can lead to physical chaos, physical order can encourage mental order. What do you do to establish order in your home after you’ve fallen off the proverbial organizing wagon? Feel welcome to share your process in the comments so others in our community can get even more ideas.

Unitasker Wednesday: The Spiralizer

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Although I don’t own a food processor, I can see why people do. With all the various blade attachments, they can do everything from finely chopping nuts to creating julienne and ribbon cut vegetables to mixing pie doughs. They grate cheese and mix dry ingredients superbly. Most of my friends use theirs to make fresh and fancy baby foods and curly fries for their kids. I’ve even seen models that have blender attachments. Food processors are great multitasking appliances if you have the space for them in your kitchen.

What is not a great multitasking appliance is this week’s unitasker selection, The Spiralizer:

The Spiralizer is for all those times you only want to cut your vegetables into neat looking ribbons. Which, unless you have some kind of specialty restaurant that exclusively serves ribbon-cut vegetables, I assume would be pretty rarely used in the average home. But, let’s say your kid will only eat ribbon-cut vegetables for some reason (mine only eats carrots that are julienned, so I get it), for the amount of space it takes up, I’d just get a food processor that ribbon-cuts vegetables and also does so many more things — this single-purpose device is enormous:

(In comparison, the Vegetable Twister Garnish Processing Device unitasker looks downright tiny.)

I like the name, though: The Spiralizer. It sounds like a futuristic or alien weapon. Marvin the Martian would most certainly have a Spiralizer!