Curb your cosmetic clutter

The drawers in our bathroom are small and disorganized. Without pointing too many fingers, my wife’s cosmetic drawer is mostly to blame. The drawer is disorganized mainly because there isn’t a way to control where items are placed in the 12″ x 20″ drawer. Everything is chaotic, and tubes of things constantly roll around whenever the drawer is opened and closed.

We remedied her makeup drawer problem by purchasing the Expandable 6 Compartment Cosmetic Organizer. It helped to organize my wife’s cosmetics drawer so well that we purchased another for my drawer of toiletries. Now, everything has its own little cozy place. Also, while I was separating the items, I was able to get rid of the things I never use and my wife trashed a bunch of nail polish she didn’t need.

June 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 June 2007 a great month at

June’s top 5 most popular posts:

Additional Highlights:

  • Dean from the band The Dead Milkmen weighed in on our Consider Charitable Giving post. He said that he’s a fan of uncluttering, but wasn’t 100 percent certain that someone from his band once mailed my friend Joel a sock.
  • Organizational giant Peter Walsh took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. I’m still giddy just thinking about this interview.
  • Cooking legend Emeril Lagasse’s blog linked to our recipe organization post. It’s difficult to impress my mother, but this link from Emeril’s site gave her something to brag about to all of her friends.

A man in uniform

MacUser points us to an article by design academic Steven Heller in the AIGA journal about Steve Job’s wardrobe. Heller imagines a fictional interview with the Apple iCon in which he only has one question:

Heller: Mr. Jobs, it’s not easy to get you to sit for an interview, so I’ll make this short. Why do you always wear blue jeans and a black turtleneck?

The question’s never answered in the “interview,” but in the comments Heller suggests that Jobs understands that he is part of the Apple brand and therefore brands himself consistently whenever he’s acting officially. I think that might well be part of it, but here’s a recent photo of Jobs at one of his kids’ soccer matches — he’s wearing jeans, a mock turtleneck, and presumably white New Balance shoes. So it seems he always dresses like that.


Improve performance by getting files off your OS X desktop

Keeping files off the OS X desktop is a simple way to improve system performance. Why does this make a difference?

According to Rob Griffiths of Macworld:

“The operating system treats each desktop icon just like a full-size Finder window—the icon takes up a chunk of memory, and the system has to track its position and size at all times. Drop enough files and folders on your desktop, and you may start to notice side effects (such as spinning beach balls) when you’re trying to do something as simple as open a new Finder window.”

The act of maintaining a clutter-free desktop also encourages you to file away useful documents for retrieval when needed. So be sure to put them in some kind of clearly named directory structure that will allow you to easily find things when you need them.

Weekend project idea: Clear clutter from your medicine chest

First, before I get into the depths of this post, I want to say that you shouldn’t be storing medicines in your bathroom. Humidity is bad for your medicines, and most in-wall cabinets don’t have locks on them and can be accessed by little ones. So, you should begin your weekend project by getting a lockable chest that you can store in a closet or another dry place in your home for your medicines. (I found that Ikea has a handful of good ones at reasonable prices, but they only sell them in their retail stores.)

Next, get rid of all drugs that have passed their expiration dates.

Third, clear out all items that are not actually medicine-related from your medicine chest and find proper homes for these items.

Fourth, evaluate your medicine chest for duplications and missing items. You should have at least one thermometer, but not four (like I just found … how in the world do I have four thermometers??).

Finally, lock up your medicine chest and enjoy the rest of your weekend knowing that you helped restore sanity in at least one aspect of your life.

Trash the dress!

For three years after I got married, my wedding dress sat in a lump on the floor of my closet. It had chocolate icing smeared down the front of it, a bourbon and coke stain on the train, and half of its lining ripped out as a result of my husband’s superb dancing skills. Eventually, the dress made its way to the dry cleaner’s where they did a little magic on it. The stain on the back of it remains clearly visible, but the icing was removed and the tear was repaired.

I think the idea of one day having my daughter wear it is downright cruel (An out-dated dress that has a big stain on it! You’ll be the envy of all your friends!), so I’m not really certain why I’ve kept it all these years or even took it to the dry cleaners to be “fixed.” Some friends have suggested that I cut it up and make it into something new, the way that Andie Walsh did in Pretty in Pink. And, I honestly like this idea, but have never acted on it.

My unrealistic desire to cut up my dress and repurpose it came to a sudden halt yesterday when I read an e-mail from my husband about the Trash the Dress project. My days of storing my wedding dress are finished. I have great plans of wearing it in the mud or under water or while skiing or in whatever crazy situation the photographer can imagine. (To give you an idea of my dreams of what to do on this project, check out this collection by photographer John Michael Cooper. Wow.)

If you have your wedding dress in your closet and are looking for a creative way to have it cease being clutter, consider participating with me in the Trash the Dress project.

Now I hope my dress still fits …

Photo at right courtesy of Mark Eric.

Unitasker Wednesday: Mango splitter

Ok, so how many mangos do you eat a year? I’m sure I’ll get a bunch of comments from mango lovers telling me that they can’t live without their mango splitter, but I just can’t justify purchasing a tool to split a specific fruit. I’ve seen a person struggle while trying to prepare a mango for a recipe, but unless your eating multiple mangos at each meal just follow these steps and forget about the Mango Splitter.

Home shopping contributes to clutter

Go ahead and tune into any one of the home shopping channels for a few minutes. It is a bit entertaining to see how excited the TV salesperson gets about ridiculous items like a bedazzled hat. These 24 hour shopping stations make it very easy for people to purchase things they don’t need.

Home shopping is convenient and definitely serves a purpose for people that are not crazy about shopping via the internet or unable to shop at traditional brick and mortar stores, but with that convenience comes the ability to easily accumulate clutter.

This story of a homebound woman is heartbreaking. She suffered a stroke and became infatuated with purchasing tons of items she didn’t need.

She couldn’t walk, but she bought shoes. She couldn’t cook, but she bought six Jack LaLanne juice machines. She rarely left home but she had two 12-foot closets stuffed with still-tagged evening wear when she passed away.

This is obviously an extreme case but QVC is a multi-billion dollar company with legions of faithful shoppers ready to shop at the drop of a bedazzled hat. The comfort that some of these people find in purchasing items is sad and a bit disturbing. If you know someone that has a shopping/hoarding problem, get them some help if at all possible.

Reader question: Which linens stay and which ones go?

Reader Pamela sent us the following question:

I have a question/problem I think you folks might be able to help with. I have been trying for the past few months to trim down – unclutter my home – since I had a roommate move in a few months back. So, far, I have been proud of how I am doing. However, I am still struggling with a few problems spots in the house — linens and books. You recently addressed dealing with books on your site. Would you consider dealing with the linen issue? Right now I have a TON of bed sheets and various quilts and blankets. I know I need to get rid of some of it. Thanks.

Linens, which for the purposes of this post I will define as sheets, blankets, towels, and washcloths, are often concealed clutter in homes because they have a designated space (like a linen closet) where they can hide. If you’re like me, though, you have a habit of putting linens into the closet, but never taking worn-out ones out of circulation.

The following tips can help you to know which linens are good and which linens are clutter in your home.

Sheets: I live in a four-season climate, so I support having two sets of warm-weather sheets (cotton) and two sets of cool-weather sheets (flannel or jersey) for your bed. This means one set on the bed, one waiting to be switched to on laundry day, and two in a sealed storage container for the alternate season.

Good sheets should

  1. appropriately fit the bed even after many washings
  2. have properly functioning elastic
  3. be hole and stain free
  4. be made of a soft and durable single-ply cotton with a thread count between 200 and 400 (learn more here) for your warm-weather sheets
  5. allow you to be comfortable so that you can sleep soundly.


Extreme minimalism Monday: hair is clutter

Eschew the trappings of our vain and materialistic culture by shaving your head. Did you know that you can replace the following items with a single razor and a can of shaving cream?

  1. Combs
  2. Brushes
  3. Shampoo
  4. Conditioner
  5. “Product” (Gels, Mousses, Waxes)
  6. Scrunchies
  7. Barrettes
  8. Hairdryer

It’s a practical and stylish approach that is surprising versatile–it works whether you look like Natalie Portman (pictured) or Telly Savalas. And with all the money you save on haircuts you’ll be able to buy cool white clothing and furniture so you can live out the kind of THX-1138 lifestyle that most minimalists only dream of.