My New Year’s Resolution: Laundry

My husband and I often have “mature” conversations that sound something like this:

Me: I really need to do a load of laundry, but I don’t want to.
Him: I don’t want to do laundry, either.
Me: Okay, it’s settled, we won’t do laundry.
Him: I love being an adult.

Hands down, laundry is the chore we hate to do the most. We used to hate doing dishes, but we got a new dishwasher last year that actually works, so laundry has moved into the top position.

I’ve never been able to figure out if it’s the time commitment, the labor, or the recidivistic nature of the chore that makes me loathe it so much. Sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting away don’t seem like such horrible tasks on their own … but put together, I find them to be awful. I know things are bad when I would rather clean toilets than do laundry.

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions, but I’m going to give them a whirl in 2008 and put “Get laundry under control” on my list. In fact, it will probably be the only resolution on my list of resolutions this year. It causes me more stress than everything else in my life, so it’s going to get the prominence it deserves.

I’m going to spend the next couple weeks getting things ready for my year of laundry control. I’ll start by reviewing the posts I’ve already written on laundry (Ending laundry chaos and More than 15 ways to handle recurrent clutter) and re-establish all of the systems I’ve tried to put in place in the past. I know, too, that there will be at least one trip to Goodwill with clothing donations before the new year begins.

What area of your life is the most cluttered? Have you thought about getting it under control as a New Year’s Resolution? If so, what steps are you going to take to make your resolution a reality? Feel welcome to share your plans with us in the comments section.

Unitasker Wednesday: Martini shaker

Mary O’Hearn, a reader who promises to be Unclutterer’s number one fan, sent me this unitasker that may be one of the most unitasking items I’ve ever seen. It’s the Waring Pro Electric Martini Shaker from Sur La Table.

From the catalog copy:

“Sure to become the life of the party, our martini maker shakes or stirs the perfect martini with just the push of a button.”

Luckily, the price has been discounted from $190 to only $99!

As Mary notes, “Perhaps it is worth it if you happen to have 2 broken arms.” But, then again, I’m not sure how someone could pour the alcohol into the metal shaker, insert the shaker into the machine, and then press the shake or stir buttons with broken arms?! Also, what happens if you accidentally shake it a little before putting it into the machine? Is it too shaken or too stirred?

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

Download free audio books from your local library

One of the things I love about my local library system is its Digital Books Program. With a valid library card and my computer, I can download eBooks and audio books from my library’s collection and onto my computer, PDA, or iPod. The files expire after a couple of weeks, but can be renewed the same as a library book. There is no charge, at least at my library, for using this service.

The downloading digital book program isn’t available at every library, but it is definitely worth exploring if it is. To learn if your library offers this service, you can search here for locations in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore and the U.K. There are a few libraries not listed on this search engine, so if it comes up empty be sure to double check with a visit to your local library’s website.

Design ideas: Wax candle holders and a step chair

One of my passions in life is good design, which means that my Google Reader is filled with interior design blog feeds. Recently, NotCot has shared a couple uncluttered designs on its pages that I wanted to pass along to you.

First up, I saw on NotCot a set of three candles that caught my attention. The candles, which are pictured at right, are candle and candle holder in one solid piece of wax. There is no need for an extra candle stick holder to clutter up the inside of a cabinet when not in use because the holder itself is part of the candle. They are designed by Roman Ficek and are available in red, black, and white. I don’t see myself throwing out my candle stick holders just yet — this was the only website I could find that sold candles of this type — but I like the idea of it immensely.

Another piece that struck my fancy on NotCot was the Folding Chair Ladder. Described as “an incredibly clever little side chair that turns into a step ladder,” it would be perfect for a small space:

Bucketless car wash

Green EarthIf you hate washing your car as much as I do, you may want to check out Green Earth Waterless Car Wash from Lucky Earth Products. From the CNET’s Crave blog:

The compound–made out of water, coconut extracts, silicone, and a bit of salt–gets misted onto your car. Once there, it attracts dirt via electrostatic principles and encapsulates it. The owner then wipes their car with a soft cloth.

A $20 jug containing 32 ounces of the liquid is good for about 10 car washes. Additionally, the company has liquids for cleaning tires (Tire Shine) and stains (Oopsie Baby).

The race car circuit uses a similar method for washing their cars, explained Tamara Garcia, a Lucky Earth representative. The company basically took the idea but came up with a cleaning formula that is made from more environmentally friendly substances.

So you can get rid of your bucket, sponges, and shammies and simply spray your car clean.

(via Crave)

Last night I played freezer Tetris

After narrowly escaping a smashed toe by a falling item from my freezer, I decided to stack the items in our freezer a bit more compactly. Day in and day out the items in one’s freezer become rearranged by family members and they tend to take on a different shape. This leads items to being stacked on uneven surfaces and the slick frozen surfaces also tend to make them more likely to slide out and crush your toes.

In a what turned out to be less than two minutes, I rearranged my freezer’s contents into an amazingly tight and compact block. I envisioned the items as Tetris blocks and made them fit accordingly.

So, rather than slamming the freezer door shut just before that microwave meal slides out onto the floor, take the two minutes to rearrange your frozen foods. Why leave a booby trap set for the next person opening your freezer door? That next person could be you again.

FYI – Tetris also helped Homer pack his car.

Kindle: Is it worth it?

Since Amazon launched its Kindle e-book reader, I’ve been closely following reviews of the product online. With more than 90,000 titles available for download from Amazon, it seems like a terrific way to keep book clutter out of your home. Except …

… and that’s just it, there is a giant “except” ringing in my mind.

Audio books downloaded onto my iPod seem to make so much more sense to me as a digital version of a book. I already carry my iPod with me, and have no desire to tote around an additional device. With an audio file on my iPod, I can “read” while I’m driving or doing something else, and there isn’t a book cluttering up my shelves at home. E-book readers have to be held while reading, are larger than an iPod, and have only a little more functionality than a regular book. If I’m going to have a digital form of a book, I prefer the audio form. This just seems to me to be a way for Amazon to skip out on the costs associated with storing and shipping products since the e-books are downloaded (in a proprietary format) from their site.

The Kindle device costs $400 and is not currently available for purchase because of high demand. Average book download price for the Kindle e-book device is $10, which is comparable to all of the Audible plans for audio books.

Two of the reviews I keep re-reading about Kindle are from Scobleizer and Management Craft. I think they say a great deal about the product, so I suggest reading them to help formulate your own opinion:

Scobleizer’s one-week Kindle review

Management Craft’s initial review and her one-week review

Do any of our readers have the Kindle device yet? Have you used any of the hacks to get it to read other non-Amazon e-book files? Please chime in to the comments section to let us know of your personal experience. I’m interested in knowing if my hesitations are way off base.

Unclutterer’s Matt in the Washington Post Express

Unclutterer writer Matt is featured in today’s Washington Post Express! The article, “Experiential Gifts Create a Can-Do Spirit,” delves into the world of experience giving. It is really terrific, and it contains many ideas for giving uncluttered experience gifts this season. Check it out!

From the article:

Even kids — apt to toss a toy aside after a week of ardor — will get more out of an activity they can enjoy all year. Matt Niemi, who dishes out organizational tips on the blog, encourages intangibles for his 18-month-old daughter, Ella. “She’s in danger of becoming super-spoiled, so we’re trying to curb the toys that come into our house,” says the Pittsburgh Web designer. “We got her a year’s pass to the zoo last year, and, hopefully, she’ll get another one this year.” (Hint, hint, grandparents.)

Also, if you missed Matt’s post on experience giving as part of our 2007 Gift Giving Guide, be sure to read it here.

Join our Unclutterer Group on Facebook

Are you on Facebook? If you are, you should definitely join our Unclutterer Group! The Unclutterer Group is a group for “people who write for or love the website.”

If you’re not on Facebook, I wouldn’t use this group as an excuse to join. Facebook has a way of sucking time away from people who use it … trust me, I’ve lost many an hour …

But, if you’re on Facebook already, please join us!

Workspace of the Week: A car’s glove box

This week’s Workspace of the Week is Toffer’s glove box modification:

Toffer explains what is featured in the photograph:

I shoved my spare hipster PDA into the tissue dispenser of my glove box, took some pens and put them in the slot to load napkins and then taped a pad of re-stickable post-it notes to the side.

Repurposing a car’s glove box as an uncluttered, personal workspace is a brilliant idea! Thank you, Toffer, for the creative suggestion.

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.

Holiday giving to others beyond your close family and friends

During the holidays, I would love to give something to everyone in my book club, my knitting guild, my neighborhood, my co-workers, etc.–but that just isn’t a possibility. See, I do not have bank accounts overflowing with cash like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, so I can’t always give as much as I would like to give. When it comes to giving gifts beyond my close family and friends, I’ve discovered many ways to give that continue the generous spirit:

  • Baked goods. Easy to make, inexpensive, fun, consumable.
  • Secret Santa. Group members draw names and then buy gifts for only the person whose name has been drawn.
  • Homemade, useful, themed gifts. Book club members get homemade bookmarks, co-workers get homemade velcro cord ties to curb cable clutter, etc.
  • Group charity. Instead of everyone bringing gifts for each other, the group sponsors a needy family or gives a needed item to a local charity.

The list of ideas is seemingly endless. I’m identifying these ideas just to get your creative juices flowing. You’ll notice that I don’t suggest “white elephant” type gift exchanges because often they produce unwanted clutter. If you don’t want the singing, plastic, wall-mounted fish, it’s pretty likely your friends or co-workers don’t want it either.

Please feel welcome to post additional ideas in the comments!

Not all small appliances are unitaskers

cuisinart-griddler.jpgIn a prior post, I labeled The Panini Press as a Unitasker. It did one thing: make paninis.

Today, I want to talk about small appliances that aren’t unitaskers. For example, the Cuisinart Griddler offers more options than your regular panini press. This is a mulit-functional unit that serves as contact grill, panini press, open grill, and griddle.

When and if you decide to purchase a small appliance, take a few moments to consider its functionality. Can it do more than one, specific task?

Cuisinart has a dual Blender-Food Processor that makes space-saving sense, Kitchen Aid has an Ice Cream Maker attachment for its mixers, an Egg and Toaster unit makes both eggs and toast, and the Hamilton Beach Toast Oven is a toaster and a toaster oven in one appliance. You obviously aren’t obligated to have any of these small appliances in your home, but if you want to buy one, we encourage you to consider ones that aren’t unitaskers.