Friday, October 17, 2014

5 Money Boxes: Piggy Banks and More

3D-printed piggy bank

Anyone who has loose coins all over the place might want to consider a piggy bank, and I’ve found some very cool ones recently. The one above, called Oinky, is 3D-printed! There are a number of designs to choose from, and the designs come in various colors. [via Erika Rae on Core77]

lacquered wood piggy bank

Newsmakers doesn’t seem to be making its piggy banks (which come in cow, sheep and pig versions) any more, but you can still find them at babatude and Not on the High Street. The banks are made from lacquered wood; the hind end is removable so you can get to the coins when needed.

green elephant coin bank

The Norsu elephant bank comes from MK Tresmer in Finland, which also has other banks; it’s part of the company’s Palaset product line. The bank is available from My Sweet Muffin in the U.S., Lagom Design in the U.K., and Monapart Living in Barcelona — which shares the story behind the bank:
In 1973 Palaset received a commission from the Swedish F√∂reningsbanken Bank: a piggy bank for children with the intention of cultivating in them the habit of saving. So far, nothing out of the ordinary, but since the “piggy” bank was so cute, the children did not stop to asking for it, and their parents opened deposits accounts just to get the prized elephant-shaped piggy bank. ... The word spread like wildfire and the precious Norsu Elephant Bank by Palaset soon became an icon in the Nordic countries, and it is still made with the same cast of 70’s and in the same factory in Helsinki.

leather piggy bank

If you really want to splurge, you can get this leather piggy bank at Shinola.

teapot coin bank

Want a coin bank that’s not a pig (or another animal)? Here’s a teapot coin bank. To remove the coins, you pull out the cork and pour.

Related Posts:
A Piggy Bank Menagerie
What a Pig! Piggy Banks and Money Boxes Worth a Look
Beyond the Piggy Bank: Tzedkah Boxes
Today’s Top 10 Piggy Banks
Piggy Banks: A Home for Your Spare Change
A Place for Your Coins: Piggy Banks and Money Pots
Organizing Products Inspired by Sheep

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tape Dispensers: Whimsical, Colorful, Practical

tape dispensers shaped like bunny rabbits

I’m always interested in the many ways something as basic as a tape dispenser can be designed to be more interesting. For those who like whimsical, there’s the desk bunny tape dispenser from Qualy in Thailand, also sold by design3000 in Germany and Molly & Fred in the U.K.

tape dispenser, two rolls, looks like an owl

The owl tape dispenser from Mustard is currently out of stock there, but you can find it at mzube in the U.K. — and there are a couple available on at the moment.

tape dispenser with gel base to stay in place

Want a tape dispenser that will stay put? The Stickit tape dispenser from Chris Hardy of Design Ideas has a “sticky polyurethane gel base” to keep it in place — but you can gently peel it up when you need to move it. It’s available many places, including See Jane Work, SmartFurniture and Fab. It comes in a range of colors.

tape dispenser with suction cup feet

Another stay-in-place tape dispenser (with a very different look) is the Bigfoot from the MoMA Store, with its suction cup feet.

blue tape dispenser

If color is your main consideration, head over to Poppin; you’ll find tape dispensers in 13 colors.

wood tape dispenser

This tape dispenser from ScanWood in Denmark places the tape flat on the desk, rather than in the upright orientation we’re used to. Hand-Eye Supply in Portland, Oregon carries this one. [via Better Living Through Design]

aluminum tape dispenser

Finally, let’s admire the Notchless Tape Dispenser, which has a special blade designed to give you a straight line when you cut the tape. It also looks pretty stunning.

Friday, September 12, 2014

For Vinyl Record Lovers: 3 More Ways to Store the LPs

storage cubes for vinyl LPs
Photos of Simple Wood Goods by Steve Paszt, Paszt photography

Vinyl lovers are always looking for good ways to store the LPs, so I’m glad to have a number of new options to share. While none of these are intended for huge collections, they can work for those with more modest needs. (For those with the huge collections, see the related posts listed below.)

First, let's admire these stackable storage cubes from Simple Wood Goods, hand made in Cincinnati, Ohio.

storage cube for vinyl records, with lid down

The cubes come in eight colors; custom wood stains are available, too. The acrylic lids can be kept up (for easy access) or down (for less dust, a cleaner look, and easier moving).

apple crate storage for vinyl records

Plantabox provides personalized record storage crates, made from sustainable FSC pine. The boxes are available in the pine color, or with one of seven stains. You get them directly from Plantabox, or through Not on the High Street. [via Retro To Go]

leather vinyl record storage box

TukTuk has leather record boxes, lined with cotton, in two sizes: 7-inch and 12-inch; there are five color options. Each one holds about 60 records. [via Retro To Go]

Related Posts:
Storing the Vinyl Record Collection: What to Do with the LPs
Record Album Storage: A Stunning Cabinet and Other Options
Storing the Vinyl Records: Options for LP Collections of All Sizes
For Vinyl Record Fans: 6 More Options for Storing the LPs
For Those Who Love Their Vinyl: LP Record Storage

Thursday, September 4, 2014

2015 Wall Calendars for Animal Lovers

cat and dog photos from 2015 calendar supporting animal rescue

You may not be thinking about 2015 calendars yet — but if you love cats and dogs, I’ve got two calendars you may want to look at now. Both raise money for rescue operations, and at least one of the two is available in limited quantities.

The calendar above comes from Castaway Animal Rescue Effort (C.A.R.E.), and I think the photos are stunning. C.A.R.E. is a “nonprofit 501-C (3) no-kill animal shelter and sanctuary that specializes in rescuing sick, injured, and abused animals in the Ozarks.”

Jan 2015 page of calendar supporting animal rescue - cat photo

The pages have some minimal advertising — one small ad at the bottom of each month — which doesn’t seem too obtrusive to me.

The calendars will be available in the organization’s Missouri adoption centers in the fall and winter, but perhaps (with a proper donation) they could also get mailed out. They're only $10 each. I don’t know the photographer’s name, but I'm asking — and will update this post when I get more information. Update: The photographer is Susan VanDoren, who donated her time to put together the photo shoots and the calendar.

And then there’s the celebrity pet adoption calendar from Anne and Will Wheaton. You get one when you make a donation of $40 or more to support the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA through its fundraising effort, the Wiggle Waggle Walk, held on Sept. 28. The calendars are limited to one per household.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

One Anti-Clutter Strategy: Buying Quality over Quantity

Flour sack dish towel that says Buy Things You'll Love Forever
Flour sack dish towel from The Heated

We opt for more instead of better. Better is better than more. — Seth Godin, via Minimal Mac by Patrick Rhone

This post was inspired by my wallet. It’s a basic black bifold wallet, with four slots for credit cards, a coin pouch, and a divided currency well — thus no photo, because there's no way to make it look interesting. But what does make my wallet interesting is that I bought it in 1997, and it’s still in good condition.

Now, I got it in Italy, at a reputable leather goods store. I don’t remember what I paid; it was probably on the expensive side, but not extravagant. And every time I pull out that wallet, I’m reminded of a wonderful trip (hurray for practical souvenirs) and how often it makes sense to buy less, but buy well.

Yes, we’re all working within budget constraints. But sometimes to have good stuff we just need to make purchasing trade-offs. Allen Tucker wrote a wonderful essay entitled Pay Too Much, which Nancy Friedman pointed me to; I recommend you go read the whole thing. It concludes with this:
My favorite pair of jeans gets worn 10 times more often than my other jeans. If I did away with the other jeans, I could afford to buy more of those things I really love. What if all of our stuff was mind blowingly awesome, even if we had way less of it?
And I see I’m not the only person writing about the joys of a good wallet. Here’s part of what Randy Murray wrote in his blog post called Just A Bit Of Luxury: Make Life Better Without Drowning In Stuff (found via Patrick Rhone):
I buy the cheapest printer paper, but I carefully select my notebooks and pens. Even when wearing my worn cargo shorts I carry a finely made leather wallet. And I’m replacing the stacks of disposable razors for single, finely made, double edge safety razor. Both the wallet and the razor are of such exceptional quality that they should last for generations (the wallet is guaranteed for 100 years!).

I’ve heard it said that you don’t own things, they own you. Owning fewer, better quality things makes my life easier and more enjoyable.

Friday, August 8, 2014

5 Ways to Store Shoes on the Wall

wall-mounted shoe rack, wood

Way back in 2008, when I wrote about 15 Ways to Store the Shoes, I didn’t make much mention of wall-mounted options. But a number of these have appeared over time; here are some of the more interesting ones.

The rack above comes from Mitz Takahasi of Montreal, who works mostly with recycled wood (and other recycled materials).

wall-mounted shoe rack for stilettos

I’ve mentioned the shoe racks from J-Me before, but this one designed specially for stilettos is new.

wall shoe rack for children's shoes

And J-Me also has a new wall-mounted rack for children’s shoes.

wall-mounted shoe rack, metal

This shoe rack is also available in a square version which holds four pairs. It comes from The Metal House, and is also sold by Bouf.

wall-mounted shoe storage - single pair of shoes

Finally, this rack comes from LoCa, in Denmark; it’s part of the Knax product line. You can find it at the Knax Shop or at Smow — or, in the U.S., at

Related Post:
Storing Shoes of All Shapes and Sizes

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cool Jewelry Stands for Necklaces, Bracelets and Earrings

steel jewelry stands for necklaces

I've written about so many jewelry organizers, but sometimes I still find something new — such as this steel moose necklace hanger from DesignByThem, available in four colors.

bamboo jewelry stand for necklaces

Another interesting option for necklaces is this jewelry stand from GioGio Design, made from bamboo.

bamboo jewelry stand for earrings

GioGio Design also makes this two-tiered jewelry stand for earrings.

3-tier bracelet stand

And finally, let's consider bracelets. The Woodshop's Daughter has one- and two-tier bracelet stands, but will also make custom orders that are larger. You can also get an add-on peg to hold rings.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kitchen Utensil Holders from Talented Artisans

stoneware utensil holder

Many of us find that the easiest way to organize our frequently-used kitchen utensils is in some sort of utensil pot — so let’s give thanks to the artisans who give us so many lovely storage options. And let’s start with vitrifiedstudio, which made this stoneware utensil holder.

stoneware utensil holder - aqua color
Photo used with permission from Back Bay Pottery

This delightful aqua-colored stoneware piece comes from Back Bay Pottery; it’s designed to hold 15 or more utensils.

ceramic utensil jar

This utensil jar comes from Tom Butcher Ceramics in Scotland as part of his Loch Long Stoneware range.

terra-cotta utensil jar

Henry Watson’s Potteries has a terra-cotta utensil jar.

ceramic utensil holder - stoneware

Made from wheel-thrown stoneware clay, this utensil holder comes from Willow Tree Pottery.

pottery utensil holder

Too many neutral colors for your taste? Take a look at the utensil holders from Prarie Fire Pottery.

stone utensil holder

And after all these pottery pieces, let’s end with something different: this utensil holder from Okanagan Stoneworks, which looks especially stunning with the red and white utensils.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Are You Using Your Email Inbox as a To-Do List?

Image entitled Breath while reading your email!, by Marie-Chantale Turgeon; found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

Current status: Using my Inbox as a to-do list. — Greg Lipper

My email inbox is basically a todo list of stuff I don’t want to do. — Tim Van Damme, via a number of other people

Lots of people will say you should never use your inbox as a to-do list, for lots of good reasons.

1. Email subject lines often aren’t a good indicator of what the to-dos are. As Gina Trapani wrote:
For example, you receive an email from a friend and the subject line is “hi.” The two of you go back and forth a dozen times, then decide to make plans for dinner, and suddenly it's up to you to make reservations at Rosarita's House of Tacos on July 14th at 7PM. Stick that into your “TO-DO” folder, and you've got a task that reads: “Re: re: re: re: re: re: hi.” That doesn’t tell you much, does it?
2. Emails are not nicely sorted into individual tasks, as Leo Babauta explained:
There might be multiple actions in each email. What if an email contains 10 to-do items? You can’t delete or archive the email when you’ve done one or two of the actions. It’ll remain in your inbox until all 10 are done, as if nothing has been done. Also, you might forget that there are multiple actions in an email and file or delete it when you’ve done one of the actions.
3. Not all tasks come to you via email, so you’re likely to wind up with two to-do lists: one in email and one somewhere else. And managing two lists can be problematic.

4. Using one tool for two purposes can make it harder to do either one well. As Jill Duffy wrote:
Trying to tweak your inbox to function like a to-do list results in a very poor to-do list. Guess what? It also creates a very poor inbox, so now you [have] two inefficiencies! If you try to manipulate your inbox to double as your to-do list, it leaves you flipping between operations.
5. As Rachel Andrew wrote, emails sitting in your inbox “feel like they are constantly nagging you to act on them, whatever their priority.”

6. And to quote Leo Babauta once more:
An email inbox contains distractions. ... If you’re looking at your to-dos in email, you’re in very big danger of new emails coming in and distracting you. ... I’d prefer a simple to-do list that allows you to shut off email while you’re trying to get important work done.

And while this all makes sense, some people find that using their email as their to-do list works just fine for them.

David Pogue, who was The News York Times’ technology columnist before moving to Yahoo, is one of those. In a column titled “Pogue’s Productivity Secrets Revealed,” he wrote:
I’m not a believer in the “empty your Inbox every day” philosophy; in fact, my Inbox is my To Do list, which works great. When I’ve dealt with something, I delete or file it. When I haven’t, its presence in that list reminds me that it needs doing.
As someone wrote in response to a Harvard Business Review article titled “Stop Using Your Inbox as a To-Do List”:
“Stop Using Something Which Works Perfectly Fine For Millions Of People”
As with so many organizing issues, it’s often useful to read the advice and understand the recommendations — but then figure out what works for you.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Labeling with Pictures, Not Just Words

labels on baskets, using pictures and words

What comes to mid when you think of labeling? If you hadn’t just looked at the photo above, you’d probably think of text-only labels, perhaps on a file folder or on a storage bin in the garage. But there are all sorts of ways to label things so you can easily find them again — and know where to put them away.

The photo above is from the storage area at Colors of the Coast — Ellen Joseph’s gallery and gift shop in Half Moon Bay. My friend Ellen sells giclee reproductions of her paintings, as well as items such as mugs and mouse pads printed with her various paintings. So she quite reasonably made her labels with images of those paintings, so it’s easy to tell which basket holds which items.

clothing-shaped labels on a dresser drawer

The same idea can be applied to labeling the drawers where children’s clothes go. These labels come from Crafterhours. [via Parenthacks and Cool Mom Picks] You can get a similar product from StikEez.

stickers to label kitchen cabinets with words and pictures

And while these kitchen cabinet stickers from Hyundae Sheet, currently available from, may not have the exact categories you would choose, I still like the idea.

Related Posts:
Why You Really Might Want a Label Maker
Be Your Own Professional Organizer, Part 3: Label
One Person’s Organized Space: CDs and Labels