Archive for July, 2008

Organize Your Desk With Magnets

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Dynomighty Design Inc. refers to these magnets as a "versatile desk accessory" that can be used as an organizer, picture holder, desk sculpture, business card holder and stress reliever. I agree, these Desk Dots can be used for organizing, but I’m afraid I’d play with these super powerful ceramic magnets and not get any work done! Check out this video to see just a sample of what they can hold together.

I do love the modern design and look for the magnets. I could imagine them holding receipts or business cards on my desk before I enter each into my database. According to the FAQ on Dynomighty website, I wouldn’t want them to close to my iMac .

The nice thing about this organizing product is they will never break or fall apart. That is, unless you have a ‘hot’ project on your desk which ignites a fire over 250 degrees Fahrenheit. What are your thought? Are they worth the price of $20.00? Do you think they’re more useful as an organizing tool or as a toy that relieves stress? Leave a comment below with your response.

Shop Tax Free for Organizing Supplies in DC!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Mayor Fenty’s office just announced the
District of Columbia will offer its second
Sales Tax Holiday beginning Saturday, August 2 through Sunday, August 10. The 2008 Sales Tax holiday grants an exemption from the 5.75% sales tax for school supplies, clothes, shoes, and accessory items. To qualify, each item must be $100 or less. I guess this is the District’s way of apologizing for our taxation without representation the other 51 weeks of the year. Oh, sorry, I digress.

Use this opportunity to buy office supplies for both yourself and your family. The sales tax exemption will apply to each eligible item, no matter how many items are on the bill. Don’t go overboard with the purchasing supplies you do not need. A bargain isn’t a bargain unless you need the item on sale. Buy what you need to get organized and know that you can always buy more in the future.

The supplies are defined as pens, pencils, stationary, art supplies, book bags, lunch boxes, calculators, and other items purchased for educational use in the classroom, at home or for any school activity.

My iPhone Saved Me Over A Thousand Dollars!

Friday, July 25th, 2008

I recently had drama with US Airlines while trying to return home from my vacation, but my iPhone saved the day and a huge amount of cash.

I tried to check-in for my flight online the day before my return flight but received an error message saying the system was unable to process my login and to call US Air. If you’ve ever called US Air customer service, you know this is not a pleasant experience. Their customer service is outsourced to locations outside the US. When I finally reached a representative, she explained that the number of people allowed to check in online had been reached, thus requiring me to check in at the airport. The agent said this was due to a T.S.A. regulation. I believe you save time at the airport, if you check-in online. Although I had not heard this maximum number of people reached rule before, I could only believe what she suggested and planned to check in at the self-service kiosks in the morning.

I arrived at Miami International Airport around 6:30 AM and walked directly to a kiosk. Using my reservation confirmation code, the computer could not find my reservation. I tried to pull it up with my flight numbers and last name–still nothing! I grabbed my bags and headed for the short line to speak to a human. Well, wouldn’t you know it, they were having computer problems. Although there were only three people in line, it took almost 25 minutes before I reached an agent. It’s now 7:20 AM and I’m leaving at 8:15 AM. The rather frazzled-looking agent looked for my name in the computer. Within seconds she found me and said my flight had been canceled. She told me there were still seats available and that she could get me on the flight, but wanted to find out why my seat was canceled.

She started talking about change fees of $150 and paying the full fare for the flight, which was hundreds more on top of the change fee. The US Air agent then told me my flight was canceled because the computer reported it was on the 16th, not the 17th. Now, I may be blond, but I do check details, especially when spending hundreds of dollars on a flight. I knew there was a glitch in their system.

I pulled out my Macbook and looked in my email for the US Air receipt, but realized it was on my home iMac. Since the airport doesn’t offer free WiFi, I couldn’t use the ‘Go to my Mac’ feature on Leopard OS X. I was starting to sweat, thinking she was going to charge me over $1000 to fly home. I asked her to waive the charges, because I was certain the computer was wrong and I was correct. She promptly told me that was not possible, as there was no way for her to override the system.

Racking my brain, I finally realized
I had my new 3-G iPhone in my pocket. I pulled it out, went to the US Air web site using the Safari web browser that comes on the phone. I was able to log in, pull up my travel schedule and prove to her that yes, I was right–my travel was on the 17th! So, the iPhone saved me over $1000.00. It was amazing how she was able to suddenly override those charges when she learned I was right.
Because this process took an hour from my arrival, I lost my original seat and the flight was full. I firmly yet politely insisted she put me on the flight, because I purchased my ticket long ago and it was their system error. I ended up in the back of the plane, sandwiched in a middle seat between two very large men. One guy joked how he “should either fly first class or loose 100 lbs.” I thought he should give me $100 because he was sitting in at least that much of my seat.

So, lesson learned. Do print out those confirmation emails (just recycle them when you’re home) and have an iPhone so you can have instant internet access to save your ass from US Air’s faulty reservation system. Having the iPhone paid for itself that day, three or four times over.

Book Donations For A Cause

Friday, July 18th, 2008

Donate and Make a Local Impact

I love Books for America, a local organization in DC.
They have the inspiring goal of building and improving libraries in area schools, shelters, and hospitals, supporting reading programs, and providing children in the Nation’s Capital with their first take-home books.

The organization’s retail location, called ‘A Bookstore with a Purpose’ and located in Dupont Circle, is a fun place to visit. I stop in to both donate and buy books.

A Bookstore with a Purpose
1417 22nd Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Hours: Mon, Fri & Sat 10-6; Tues -Thurs 10-9; Sunday 11-5
What should I donate?
How do I arrange for a book donation pick-up?

Donate and Make a Future Impact

The number of incarcerated individuals in the U.S. is staggering. Although we have less than 5% of the world’s population, we have more than 25% of the world’s prison population. Most inmates are only allowed to receive books donated through programs such as Books to Prison. Books can be dropped off in DC at Foundry United Methodist Church on Wednesday evenings, or in Brentwood, Maryland at the Quixote Center during normal business hours. They’re located approximately four blocks from the Glut Food Co-op.

Foundry United Methodist Church
1500 16th Street, NW (16th & P ST NW)
Washington, DC 20036

Quixote Center
3502 Varnum St
Brentwood, MD 20722
301-699-0042

Find a local Books to Prison program in your area by visiting their online directory.

Donate and Make an International Impact

Book donations can also have a big impact internationally. According to the Camel Book Drive in Kenya’s blog, children’s storybooks are most popular, general fiction is also in high demand, and there is much interest in nonfiction books covering topics like astronomy, geography, and history. Books by African authors are especially appreciated. Both gently used hard and soft-cover books are welcome, but paperbacks are preferred due to weight considerations. These books often reach their final destinations via camel! The librarians suggest that the donor inscribe a note in the books, as this helps the patrons feel connected to places which they can otherwise only imagine.

Wajir Library
For Camel Library
Librarian in Charge, Mrs. Maryan Osman Warfa
P.O. Box 217
Wajir, Kenya
How do you donate books?
Where do I send the books and what’s the cost?

Check out this amazing story, compliments of the Video Journalist Africa, that shows the Camel Library in action.

For more resources on book donations, check out this list published by the American Library Association.

Opting Out Saves You From Unwanted Credit Offers

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

The volume of credit offers I see cluttering the homes of my clients is unreal! All the paper, postage, gasoline to move those letters, and time to deliver them is such a waste. Needless to say, they usually just go into the trash and fill our landfills.

Take a stand and opt out of these credit and insurance offers! Here are two to choices to help you opt out.

According to the FTC’s website, you can opt out of receiving credit and insurance offers for five years or opt out of receiving them permanently. Call toll-free 1888-5-OPT-OUT (1-888-567-8688) or visit www.optoutprescreen.com for details. The telephone number and website are operated by the major consumer reporting companies. When you call or visit the website, you’ll be asked to provide certain personal information, including your home telephone number, name, Social Security Number, and date of birth. The information you provide is confidential and will be used only to process your request to opt out.

It’s important to remember that if you have joint credit relationships, like a mortgage or a car loan with a spouse or partner, you are likely going to receive further unwanted solicitations until both of you exercise your opt out rights. Typically, the requests to opt out are processed within five days, but it may take up to 60 days before you stop receiving prescreened offers.

If for some reason you want to opt back in, you can simply reverse the process by calling the same phone number listed above. What are you waiting for? Do it now!

Marriott, Toilet Paper, and Excess

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Can you ever been so organized that it is too much?  Do you know anyone who has labeled everything in their house?  Personally I think you can go too far with a label machine and today I learned the Marriott is label happy.

I arrived at the Marriott Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida and had some time to relax.  So, I was taking my time to unpack my belongings.  As I was arranging my toiletries in the bathroom of my hotel room, I reached for some toilet paper to blow my nose when much to my surprise, I saw a label (see photo) on the sink basin.  Perhaps they thought the toilet paper was out of view, or perhaps the housekeeping staff was going overboard with their label machine?  Either way – I thought it was a little redundant.

Do you know anyone who’s gone overboard with labels in their home?  Can you ever be overly organized?

Could You Live Like These Three Women?

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

I was recently flipping through Domino magazine’s February Issue, “The Organized Home!” which contained three advertisements that really caught my eye. The first ad was by Citi Cards featuring their ‘Whatever your story is’ ad campaign. Grace lives in a small apartment in the big city and doesn’t cook, so she used her Citi Card to buy some closet organizing supplies to transform her kitchen into a walk-in closet. The ad continued by saying Grace saved room for plates, glasses and silverware, but I certainly don’t see any in the photo!  I love how the stemware holder is now used for sunglasses glasses and the coffee mug tree is used for bracelets. Do you know anyone who stores stuff in their kitchen or stove that’s not specific to cooking related?

Click on any image to see it larger.

The next advertisement for American Express featured writer/actress Tina Fey in their “Are you a card member?” campaign. Obviously she enjoys Post-it notes to capture her creative flow process. I am willing to give her some slack, because she’s a Macbook user and because her daughter is adorable. Tina’s perfect day “Coffee/Playground/Nap/Exercise/Flea Market/Playground/Bath Time/Dinner with Grownups/See a Great Movie/Asleep by 9 PM.” Obviously she does not have time to organize her office. Could you be creative in this mess?

Click on any image to see it larger.

The final ad was by Kohler and features this very glam Hollywood Mom, who’s devilish son (hiding behind the door) used the Purist® Hatbox® Toilet to hide one of Mom’s favorite hats. Perhaps if she had put away the hat, this wouldn’t have happened! After all, there are over 60 hat boxes in the photo that could have been used. Why is the toilet in the middle of the room anyhow? Kohler wants us to believe this $3000 toilet would work just about anywhere, including Bryant Park. You guessed it right, this high fashion toilet was debuted at Fashion Week in New York City.

Click on any image to see it larger.

Could you live like these three women? A kitchen for a closet, paper clutter in your office, or your hats strewn throughout your dressing area? If you have a favorite advertising campaign that features organizing or a lack there of, I’d love to hear about it.

Valuable Beatles Video Found in Garage

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Film buff Richard Jeffs finally got around to cleaning his garage in South London, where he discovered a hidden treasurer that had been stashed in the corner for decades. Stacked in a dark, damp corner of his garage were 64 unmarked canisters, many rusted and damaged from years of neglect.

With a bit of detective work, he deciphered the scribbled label found inside the film can and determined the names of the two presenters who conducted the interview in 1964. According to a story by the BBC, the faded handwriting was incredibly hard to read, but with patience he was able to read the labels.

This is the story of how a lost Beatles interview once again found the light of day. It offers a revealing insight into Sir Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s songwriting partnership. The nine minute interview took place in the studios of Scottish Television on Thursday, April 30, 1964.

It’s rather remarkable the film survived at all. It is now being stored safely in a professional archive in Milton Keynes, where temperature and humidity are carefully controlled.

Let this be a lesson to my readers. Don’t store ANYTHING in your garage or attic space if you can’t afford to have it ruined. The extreme temperature changes, humidity, and critters found in these spaces will likely damage your treasurers. Mr. Jeffs should consider himself a lucky man to discover this rare Beatles interview.

I wonder what is inside the other 63 canisters?

5th Street Ace Hardware Makes A Good First Impression

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

On Sunday, June 29, I had the pleasure of attending the VIP Grand Opening of the new 5th Street Ace Hardware at 1055 5th Street NW. It’s located in the CityVista project in the heart of DC.

In addition to over 9,000 square feet of retail space on two levels and more than 20,000 items in stock, the store is launching two product lines new to Ace Hardware–Mythic Paint and Schulte Storage Systems.

Mythic Paint is one of the first environmentally friendly, zero volatile organic compound (VOC) paints on the market, which should please homeowners who want to “go green.”

However, I was most excited to check out the Schulte Storage Systems. I have worked with Schulte’s closet line named FreedomRail system (previously I found it at Organized Living in Fairfax), so I know the system is easy to install, durable, and perfect for condo dwellers or anyone who wants to get the most out of her storage space. Organized Living closed a few years ago. Because 5th Street Hardware is located below the new CityVista condos, I anticipate this product line will be a huge seller for store.

FreedomRail has a basic ‘Profile’ system which is very similar to the Container Store’s elfa®. There is one additional step when installing FreedomRail as opposed to elfa®. The extra step involves screwing the upright into the wall for stability, which is not a drawback for FreedomRail, in my opinion.

I love the new tiered profile shelf (pictured to the left), which has a built-in stair step that maximizes visibility of items on the shelves. It can be installed level or at an angle, depending on your needs. I didn’t see this in stock at 5th Street Ace Hardware, but Gina Schaefer, the store’s co-owner, said they can fill special orders and requests, usually within a week.

Another item that sets FreedomRail apart from elfa® is the option of enclosed cabinets and drawers. I have several clients who have passed on elfa® because they did not like the mesh or grid wire baskets which make up the drawers. This could be the perfect alternative.

As expected, the store also has all the offerings of an old-fashioned hardware store: paint, tools, cleaning supplies, house wares, storage items, plumbing, electrical, a lawn and garden section, and more. If you can name it, this cool hardware store probably has it!

Trash Becomes Treasure – Recycled Art

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

DC has a very cool event each year titled Artomatic. It’s 1000 artist, displaying their work for 28 days and nights, all in one building, attracting over 50,000 visitors. The diversity of the artwork at this year’s event was amazing. I personally enjoyed all the artwork created with recycled objects. Over the next few weeks I’m going to highlight a few of the artists who’s work caught my eye at Artomatic 2008.

Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette
created a very cool 3-D display of bottle caps, title 1,584 Bottles of Beer on the Wall (I’ve Had My Share). Created with bottle caps and nails, I thought the 40″ x 50″ piece was very cool. It was inspired by her Grand Father-in-Law who gave up drinking around age 60. When he passed away, Elizabeth received two cans of nails he had saved. She used those nails for this installation. Check out Elizabeth’s Flickr Stream, she has great work much of it created with recycled materials.

Click on any image to view it full size.

I wanted to know more about how this display came about so I contacted Elizabeth. She told me the bottle caps have been collected over time from friends and family and that they were often brought back from vacations, or weddings. She created a permanent bottle cap mosaic wall in her house (which is for sale, by the way) with nearly 5,000 bottle caps. You can see more pictures of her house here.

Since her family is moving to Colorado, when Artomatic closed down, she couldn’t keep all the bottle caps. However, she did share this cool photo of a pot she created with some of the left over bottle caps.

I think this is truly ‘Pop’ Art! Do you know any other artist creating art from recycled materials?