Porch and patio storage

If you have an outdoor area where you spend a fair amount of time, there are sure to be items that permanently reside outside. Our back patio has a table and chairs. The chairs have cushions and we prefer to store them when not in use. The Suncast Deck Box is an easy solution that can handle quite a bit of storage. The cushions from our chairs take up quite a bit of space in our larger unit, but we still have room for our modest garden tool and barbecue utensil sets. If you don’t have seat cushions to store, you can select the smaller option.

In the event that you have more people than available seating this garden bench deck box gives you the option of extra seating plus a generous amount of storage space.

The Storage Table/Serving Cart would be a very useful addition to any patio or deck. It can serve as a prep station for your barbecue or become an outdoor wine bar (or soft drink bar — depending on the age of your dinner guests). It has wheels, lockable storage, and even a paper towel roll holder!

When you’re having a fancy outdoor party the last thing you want to be looking at are unsightly trash bins. Investing in a small storage shed will hide the bins from view as well as keep them protected from unwanted pests such as raccoons, possums, squirrels, etc.

With these convenient storage solutions, you’ll be able to enjoy your time outside with family and friends.



This post was originally published in August 2007.

Organizing your dorm room

College dorm life can be rather trying. Here is some 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 basket 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. A tall, plastic laundry basket will hold all your dirty clothes without taking up much floor space and you can easily disinfect it between loads with sanitizing wipes. Use a small basket to carry your laundry soap, fabric softener and the sanitizing wipes.
  • 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 bags 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. Now let’s just hope your roommate lives an uncluttered lifestyle. Good luck on that one.


This post was originally published in July 2007.

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.


This post was originally published in July 2007.

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 organizer and keep each pile of stuff separated into its own section.

Now make sure to keep the drawer in a orderly fashion and don’t just throw random items into it.


This post was originally published in July 2007.

Rid your shower of bottle clutter

Your shower should be a serene place where you can escape the outside world for a short time each day. You shouldn’t be distracted by a multitude of containers all over the walls and/or floor of your shower. The Better Living Dispenser Classic IV eliminates the need for the bottles that get in your way.

Let’s face it, those bottles are designed to fall over easily and scare the heck out of your loved ones in the next room. The bottles I recently knocked over are nearly empty, so they need to be perfectly balanced on their heads to get the last of the liquid out. (We are frugal and the need to use every last drop of shampoo is a must.) This dispenser eliminates the bottles, the balancing act, and the false alarm of a shower disaster. If you need more storage space, The Better Living Ulti-Mate Dispenser includes a soap tray, mirror, and hooks to store your razor.


This post was originally published in June 2007.

Unitasker Wednesday: The IceBlok

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

One of the reasons I hate refreshing cold beverages in the summer heat is the “shocking splash of wayward ice cubes.” Thankfully, the IceBlok set puts an end to such shocking, horrible events. Made from space-age material (I’m assuming), the IceBlok will keep terrifying ice from falling into your face. From the product description:

Simply add ice to glass, slide IceBlok in, and sip beverage; IceBlok stays in place to keep ice out of your face.

Stop using straws that do the exact same thing, and get yourself an IceBlok!

Thanks to reader jsn for bringing this unitasker to our attention.

Unitasker Wednesday: The dog umbrella

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

I recently had a big double take after seeing a pet umbrella in action at my local park. Did I just see that? Yes, yes I did.

Did the poor dog have a cold? Did other dogs make fun of him for retreating under an umbrella? Since when did a dog require an umbrella for a walk in the rain? Has the pampering of pets become such an industry that a product like this becomes a good idea for consumers? I had so many questions to ask the owner, but I had to be somewhere and the dog owner was probably unable to answer any of my queries.

Have any of you seen a pet umbrella in action? It is definitely something to see. Any owners of a pet umbrella out there? Defend it in the comments if you’d like. The wet dog smell is obviously a reason to employ the pet umbrella, but what else beyond that? I’m truly baffled.

A home office for a small space

Having a home office in a 450 square-foot space may be a pretty tough task. How does one make room for a home office and make it feel separate from the rest of the living space? The Unfolding Office featured in Dwell’s Dec/Jan 2007 issue is a unique option for a home office in a tiny space.


The Unfolding Office was a project of Michael Chen and Kari Anderson of Normal Projects who designed this solution for teacher Eric Schneider’s 450 square-foot apartment in New York City. The outcome was an all-in-one unit that holds everything from a desk to a bed and nightstand. For a better idea of the finished project, take a look at the slideshow.

Apple wool felt laptop sleeve

Laptop sleeves are a necessity if you are regularly on the move. They protect your computer from daily wear and tear while providing a quick way to transport your precious cargo. The wool felt laptop sleeve designed by redmaloo is a nice option because it serves more than one purpose. The sleeve protects you computer, but it also unfolds to provide a work surface with a mousepad (see picture below). The sleeve is available via ex49. ex49 imports was created to provide emerging, talented artists from Germany with the opportunity to exhibit and sell their products overseas.


(via Swiss Miss)

Unitasker Wednesday: Toothpaste dispenser

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

A streamlined morning ritual is always a good idea. Planning a morning routine is key to being on time, and the Toothpaste Dispenser is just the thing to help you with that time-wasting, strenuous task of putting toothpaste on your toothbrush. I can’t think of a single other method you could use to extract toothpaste out of the tube. This wall mounted dispenser not only saves you from extreme stress, but it also takes up a lot of space! We’re so lucky to live in 2009.

The dispenser comes in chrome (pictured) and white. So choose wisely on which color matches your decor the best. Also, don’t be afraid to invest in two (or more!) of these dispensers if your roommate, wife, husband, or child uses a different toothpaste. Your friends will be envious that you have cracked the code on how to get toothpaste out of the tube.

The deep drawer problem

deep-drawerOne drawer in our kitchen (pictured) is a real problem area for us. It is an incredibly deep drawer that is the depository for most of our food preparation tools. It contains everything from a whisk to a rolling pin. The depth of the drawer makes it prone to disorganization.

I looked into drawer dividers to find a stackable option and eventually came across the Lipper International Bamboo Drawer Organizer with Removable Dividers and Top Sliding Tray. This drawer organizer looks like the perfect solution for my problem. The top tray can be removed for access to larger kitchen tools below and the measurements (14-1/2-inch W by 12-1/2-inch D by 3-3/4-inch H) are just right.

Has anyone else had a problem with too-deep drawers in the kitchen? How did you solve the problem? Please share your solutions in the comments.

INCHworm shoes grow with your child’s foot

Children’s shoes don’t last very long. The main culprit is their growing bodies. I’d venture to guess an average pair of shoes lasts around six months — max. Depending on the amount of wear and tear, the shoes may not be suitable for donation after use, which is unfortunate.


The INCHworm shoe is a decent solution to the ever-growing child’s foot. The shoe is adjustable and extends itself by one whole size, in half-size increments. So a size six can become a six and a half and then eventually a seven. This would surely extend the life of the shoe by several months. From the product description:

Inchworm shoes are design specially for kids, both boys and girls. These shoes grow with your kids as your kids feet grow, one full size in two half size increments. With the 1 fit System you have the possibility to adapt the shoes to your children feet. Inchworm shoes are made in two parts with rubber outsole & PU midsole for the best comfort and support with anatomic insole and latex heel pad. The uppers are made from quality leathers and synthetic mesh. Inchworm shoes will last approximately 3-6 months longer than an ordinary pair of shoes. Simply push the button on the side of the heel and watch in amazement as the shoe grows.

This is a pretty cool idea. What do you guys think? Let your opinions fly in the comments section.

(via CNet’s Crave)