Throw Blankets and Hot Toddies - Staying cozy in the cold

Anyone ready for Spring? This is starting to feel like the never-ending Winter, and it’s just January, folks so we’re not done yet. I have never been happier to have a hot cup of tea (or a cider toddy)  and a warm throw blanket to cozy up with. 

My living room throws get a LOT of use, and if you don’t have a couple of these around, you should get one. It’s one of those totally functional accessories that are an easily justifiable purchase, especially if this weather continues.

THROW BLANKET ROUNDUP

I like this simple cotton weave from Target:


And this one from Schoolhouse - reminds me of a country house in the woods.

Mudcloth is a trending but timeless material, and this is a great layering piece from Etsy:

Chunky knits are also a great layering piece - they work as a throw or at the foot of a bed and never look wimpy! This one also from Etsy has some great size and color options:

Want to dream a bit more? OK Ladies, get ready for this one -- a MERMAID knit throw:

I guess the weather has gotten to me. 

You're cozying up with your blankie and need something hot to go with it, am I right? For a real warm up, I like a hot apple cider toddy, with bourbon, my new favorite winter drink.

HOT TODDIES AND TEA

Here’s a recipe courtesy of WHOLEFULLY. 

You could substitute a pinch of cinnamon for the stick and just heat it in the microwave, then stir in the honey and bourbon. Boom. Done. 

I always stock up on tea at Trader Joe’s. Favorites are the Chai and Peppermint, but they have it all. 

NEW YEARS VICE

While at 'the Joe's' I  discovered this addictive Maple Pecan Shortbread Mix. It's a combination of pecan pie and shortbread. My sister used to make pecan bars just like them, and I swear these taste just as home made (sorry Monica).  It takes a bit of time to make but it’s worth it (and the hot oven will heat up the house!). If you see this package:

60812-maple-pecan-shortbread-bar-mix.jpg

Buy it. Buy two. You will thank me  — unless you made a New Year's resolution to lose weight, in which case you be very, very angry with me ;-)

Stay Warm!

Jennifer

PS - Ready for some design advice but don't want to leave the house? Book an e-design consultation by skype and email! 

Fun and Practical Ideas for Kids Rooms

  A number of years ago I wrote a book called, Kids Rooms, Ideas and Projects for Children’s Spaces. At the time this came out it was one of just a few books on the topic. Today I notice almost every parent wanting to do something special for their kid’s room. Although the book is now out of print,  I still love this creative playroom entry by designer Laura Bohn that we featured on the cover (above).

Wondering where to go next with your kids' space? Here are a few of the key features I like to include when working on a kids room.

1. Create display space to showcase artwork and memorabilia

magnetic board
magnetic board
435215
435215
clip2-1
clip2-1

2. Be consistent with storage. It doesn't need to involve expensive bins (see the potato chip storage below) but an effort should be made to use one system, whether it's bins, buckets, or baskets. That will create a clean, uncluttered look in the room.

img_1947-e1315395907498
img_1947-e1315395907498
boy-toystand_300
boy-toystand_300

3. Have some fun - infuse a little fantasy. I love how the playroom entry at the top of the post transforms a simple entrance into a wonderland.  Here's where you can play off a theme and inject a bit of whimsy.

weissflowerlight
weissflowerlight
secret garden before after
secret garden before after
1606shadelamp-stand
54c0cf87494c2_-_01-hbx-philip-gorrivan-kids-room-0613-s2
54c0cf87494c2_-_01-hbx-philip-gorrivan-kids-room-0613-s2

Here's a source for a similar light.

So have fun when you’re redecorating your kid’s room. Let your creativity loose and get your child involved in the process with you. If you’re not sure where to start,  download a copy of my free ebook– 10 Steps to Your Perfect Room Makeover. These steps will work for your kid’s room or any room in your house that could use a redo.

Photo Credits:

Joanna Goddard  (galvinized metal wall)

Paul Whichelow  (storage)

Julie Cadieux  (pegboard)

Mark Lund  (nightstand)

Via House Beautiful (feather lamp)

White House Black Shutters   (clipboard wall)

All other photos by Jennifer Levy/ CAVdesign

4 Finishing Touches that Turn Functional into Fabulous!

Do you have an area of your home that you’ve put some effort into, but it still doesn’t quite have that polished look you were hoping for? It’s common to run out of steam at the end of a design project or makeover and be left with a nice room, but not a great room. Maybe what’s missing is a little flair or your own personal stamp? Here are four fabulous finishing touches that give your space extra pizzazz without driving you crazy in the process. And get my free Pillow Cheat-Sheet right here!

 

1. Use color to unify.

Does your room look like it’s not very cohesive? Take a look at what you have in the space, and pick a secondary color or two to play with for your finishing touches. For example, a small patch of yellow on a rug or a touch of yellow on a painting can be picked up by a pillow. You can even introduce an accent color that doesn’t show up anywhere else! If you use these colors consistently in your pillows, art and accessories, you can’t go wrong.

2. Start with a clean slate, then add and edit.

If you already have some items on the space you’re working on, such as a shelf, table or mantle, clear them off and place things in one at a time, creating small groups to start. You do not have to use everything! Translation – you should not use everything. Most of the time, a smaller, carefully curated collection of things makes a stronger design statement than having a whole lot of stuff – even if you feel it has a similar theme or color story.

3. With pillows, vary sizes, and work those accent colors!

If you’re picking pillows for a sofa or loveseat, start with your largest pillow in the corner and go smaller from there. Don’t forget to repeat your accent colors, and look for a variety of weaves or textures to keep it interesting. And finally, it’s OK to buy a couple of extras – you’ll have a bit more to play with and you can return the ones that don’t quite work.

Emily Henderson Gallery Wall
Emily Henderson Gallery Wall

4 Hang artwork with a friend.

This is important and it’s not just for the company or for a second opinion. If you are hanging anything on the wall, you need to step back and see it in context. Your friend can hold it up and keep a pencil handy to make note of the best position. If you are  choosing what to put where, don’t be stuck on the ‘where’. Sometimes an unexpected location makes a great statement for your art, so walk around and try some different options. Finally, start at eye level for hanging. This means that the center of the piece should land around 60” above the floor. Of course feel free to break the rules if things look better at a different height but use this as a starting point. Sometimes it’s the small details in the room that really set it a part and make it a space you love to live and work in. So if your room feels just okay pick one or more of these fabulous finishing touches to give it a boost. Are you looking for a complete room makeover? Could you use some support? Click here to learn about my upcoming Design Coach Series, where I coach you through your entire room redo from start to the final finishing touch.

3 Ways to Get People to Take Off their Shoes at the Door

In the Summer months you and your family are probably in and out throughout the day. Has your entryway become a tripping hazard because of all the sneakers, flip-flops and other assorted shoes piled up by the front door? And what about your guests? Do you ask them to “please take off your shoes at the front door”? More and more of us do because we want to keep our homes clean and safe from pollutants being tracked in from the outside. I got into this habit myself when I moved to Brooklyn but my sister had done it for years in her Boston home, to the chagrin of our parents whose holiday outfit plans included the shoes and who felt lost (and cold) without them.

There are a lot of good reasons to remove shoes in a home — even one without kids. The key is to make it work for your family and any visitors, so here are a few steps to make it work for everyone.

#1 Let them know -- gently.

A please take off your shoes sign is a polite way to let your guests know you have a no-shoes policy in your home. It’s also a great constant reminder for your kids so you hopefully don’t have to tell them for the umpteenth time.

Something simple like, “Welcome friends, please bare your soles,” will get attention. I’m always in favor of using fun graphics and humor to break the tension, and here are some great examples:

take off your shoes

For something understated but eye-catching, how about framing a picture like this one?!

or this:

Please Remove Your Shoes Wall Decal - Family Wall Decal - Remove Your Shoes Sign - Remove Shoes - Shoes Decal - Vinyl Wall Decal -

This wall decal from Etsy will definitely get the point across.

barefoot
barefoot

If you're crafty, then this chalkboard version will give a nice casual feel to your request.

Please Remove Shoes Sign

This free PDF download will get you on track to a 'no-shoe' policy right away.

#2 Have a well-thought-out shoe and boot storage space.

When guest arrives, mention that they can leave their shoes in the designated area. Have a shoe rack or some sort of shoe and boot storage in the entryway. To save some embarrassment, make space in it before guests arrive so that you don’t experience an overflow.

This industrial shelving would make a great looking entry piece with space for shoes and a landing pad on top for keys and mail.

nook console
nook console

Don't feel like you have to limit yourself to ready-made shoe storage, you can repurpose consoles and other 'dressier' pieces for shoes.  If you have a narrow entry space however, nothing beats a space-saving shoe-storage cabinet like the stall from IKEA.

stall
stall

#3 Make it comfortable for guests to take off their shoes at the front door.

There are lots of great benches out there, so try to find a good fit for your space. If you're really tight on spare inches, then what about using a nice fold down shower bench?

Screenshot 2015-06-05 17.21.16
Screenshot 2015-06-05 17.21.16

or a colorful pouf instead of a traditional bench...

square recycled rag pouf

If you really want to go the extra mile you can provide a basket of clean socks or slippers by the front door to keep their tootsies warm. Available by the dozen here.

basket of slippers
basket of slippers

Here's a trick for damp shoes or boots (or boots that are taking a break for summer): put newspaper in them to absorb moisture and help them keep their shape. You can leave rolls of newspaper in a basket for guests to use on rainy days.

boots
boots

For a little 'design irony' you can craft a basket for the newspapers out of actual newspaper! I really liked this DIY for making a newspaper basket.

With a little practice, you can make the transition from shoes to no shoes easy for you and your guests.

Would you like more home design tips to transform your space? Grab my free ebook: 10 Steps to Your Perfect Room Makeover.

Coming Soon - An online course to help you get your dream space

If you're someone who's had a conversation with me in the past couple of years you know that I've been planning to create an online design program for a very, very long time! Well, that course is finally coming to life and it's really exciting. I love teaching and definitely hate to see people make costly mistakes or end up with spaces that don't work for them. I also know that it's easy to find a picture or a room you love, but a lot harder to actually re-create that look and feel in your own space. This course will walk you through the design process step-by-step with videos, worksheets, templates, and most of all, insider tips. If you want a taste of what the course will help with, download my e-book, "10 Steps to Your Perfect Room Makeover".  Signing up for the book will also put you on the list to stay in the loop about when the course is going live (and don't worry, I'm way too busy to cram your inbox with frequent mailings, just one every few weeks or so).  Oh, and did I mention that the book is free?

Screenshot 2014-11-25 13.36.35
Screenshot 2014-11-25 13.36.35

Here I am on the first day of video shooting - fun but I definitely feel more comfortable on the OTHER side of the camera!

IMG_6804
IMG_6804

I'll keep you posted....and let me know what YOUR biggest design challenge is so I can make sure to include it in the course.

Home Resolutions for a New Year

After the holidays, a lot of people talk about needing to “recover”. Whether it’s from fielding tricky moments with in-laws, overindulging in treats, or stressing about NOT being at work, it seems we need to regroup.

On the home front, regrouping can take the form of making improvements. Cleaner, less cluttered, and better-organized spaces create more enjoyable places to live. For me, I find that making improvements also allows me to reconnect with my home.

So, in the spirit of the post-holiday season, here are 4 easy tips to help you and your home “recover” from the holidays. These suggestions also work as New Year’s resolutions, and last well into the year ahead.

1. Reduce your “stuff footprint”.

If you’ve resolved to be neater this year, try doing so with less stuff. I’ve resolved to reduce my ‘”stuff footprint” by 30 percent in 3 spaces: my closet, my kitchen, and my basement. Also, if you’ve received home décor items as gifts, now’s the time to shed unwanted objects so that your home can easily absorb new pieces.  

table setting_remodelista

2.Do something kind for your home every day. 

Our homes, like our bodies, look and feel better when we tend to them daily. Like many of us, I’ve resolved to do something for my physical well being each day. (Exercise, of course, is on the list  – but treats like manicures count too!).

0805SIM08

For your home, a kind act could be as simple as organizing a messy drawer, tackling a spot that needs a deep cleaning, or placing fresh flowers on your dining room table as if you were having guests. Go ahead – give your home some love!

kids cleaning_learnvest

3. Get the family involved.  

Find creative ways to get your family on board with helping around the house. Pump up the music while you fold laundry.  Hold a sock-matching race.  Have the kids fluff up the cushions, and allow them to keep the loose change they find (as long as they complete the chore). 

Turn tidying into a sorting game, creating piles by room, by category, or by task. As an incentive, create chore coupons with redeemable rewards.

4. Divide and conquer.

One reason people have a hard time completing projects is the long lists of tasks seem overwhelming. I’ve found many undertakings become less daunting when I break them down into manageable steps:

First, start by prioritizing your projects by importance and scope: i.e. “make the kitchen work better”.

Second, break down the larger project into sub projects: i.e. “fix the leaky faucet”.

Third, take a sub project and break that down into individual tasks: i.e. “reach out to 4 friends to find a reliable plumber”.

Focus on completing a single task rather than the final result. Once the task is finished, you’ll experience a sense of accomplishment – which is a great way to start the New Year.

5 Tips for de-cluttering

Now that the weather is (finally!) colder, I'm spending more time inside and noticing how quickly clutter is accumulating, so I'm putting some new habits on my calendar, and thought you might want to see if any of these would work for you!

5 tips for a decluttered lifestyle

In order to conquer clutter you have to exercise your de-cluttering muscle’ on a regular basis. You can slow down clutter if you can incorporate some new habits that will help keep clutter form accumulating in the first place. But, clutter happens, and it’s best to embrace it and have regular, small-scale de-cluttering be part of your weekly schedule rather than an emergency procedure which can feel overwhelming. Like starting an exercise routine, you’ll soon see small changes turn into big ones -- you just need to start with practicing a few new habits and getting them on your schedule (just like visits to the gym!).

Paper clutter:

As soon as you bring mail in the door, open all envelopes, sort into piles for the recipients, and put all empty envelopes and junk mail into the recycling. If you have a few people in your home who receive mail, create an inbox for each person.

Daily

Clothing, toy and book clutter:Keep a bag in your closet for charity, and place any thing that is unused, unworn, or unwanted as you come across it into the bag. Then, schedule a monthly family ‘run’ to the charity of choice.  This goes for books and toys as well. For daily clothes, put everything in one place and create a regular daily time to get everything hung up and put away. Once a month donation run / Daily clothing management

Drawer clutter: 

De-cluttering one drawer is very satisfying and a great confidence booster to move forward toward a de-cluttered lifestyle. Imagine if you took on just one drawer or small area per week what a difference it would make! First, take EVERYTHING out of the drawer. Throw away the obvious, then sort into piles of items you use often, seldom and never. You know what to do with the never items -- toss. The items you use most can go back in the drawer grouped by category using dividers, labeled containers, rubber bands, or any other system that is a good fit. Put largest item in first and work in the smaller ones. Package seldom-used items in a labeled container and put in a long-term storage area (like a high shelf). Once a week.Counter clutter: Do a sweep of each counter, categorizing items by what room they go in. Then, take the piles to each area. When you are done, go room to room to place the items in their rightful homes. If you have had ‘decorative items’ on a counter for some time, put them away for a week and see if you miss them or if you’d like to switch up the display. It’s easy to ‘stop seeing’ things in your own home and can be very calming to clear the space. Once a week.

Leaving things around as reminders clutter: 

This is a big one for me -- I think I’ll get it done faster if I leave out papers, tools, catalogs, etc. It doesn’t work! Pick ONE reminder system and stick with it. You can use a notebook (just one!) or a web-based system, like http://www.rememberthemilk.com/ or teuxdeux.com which you can set as your browser homepage. Try to get this into your Daily routine.

Hope this helps, and let me know what your design challenge has been so I can answer it next time!

Nw Years Resolutions

I'm noticing a pattern with my New Years thinking: less is more. It seems like it's about having less, and doing more. Most of these resolutions are an extension of stuff I've been working on already, and I've actually made a little headway on it, but there is a lot of room for improvement . I'd like to lose a few more pounds (I actually accomplished the first phase of this recently using Tim Ferris' 4 hour body).

  • get rid of of 'out of service' items including furniture, books, and clothes. If it doesn't sell on Craig's List, donate it.
  • keep my office tidier.
  • wear the clothing that gets neglected
  • blog more, have fun doing it,  and provide lot's of value with  my blog
  • expand my virtual audience and community and have more of an exchange
  • provide a quick turnaround on work with clients
  • take a few hours a week to get out and look at things -- stores, fabricators (like a cabinet maker or metal worker), museums- places I might find surprises and inspiration and get out from behind the computer. This always ends up as a last priority so it is the first thing to go (along with exersise)
  • tackle my own home improvement and decorating projects, specifically, building the Lyndsey Adelman knock-off chandelier (sanctioned by her! see ....) for the dining room, getting artwork up in the living room, and making the bedroom feel finished.
  • become a happier cook (which I enjoy in theory, but not when it feels like an obligation at the end of the day when I'm tired)
  • delegate work appropriately so I have more time (this is the year I'd like to try a virtual assistant AND I plan on getting my son to pick up after himself more)
  • Stay on one task at a time (i just discovered egg timer, which helps.)
  • structure my time well so I can do all the above -- This one really is about creating a daily schedule and list. I love lists but I cant seem to commit to a format -- I vacillate between jotting a few things on paper, the elegant 'teux deux', stickies, the notes  app in mac. It's a matter of keeping something I can add to offline and online. This is a big issue for me!

Leave Your Shoes Behind

It wasn't until I moved to the Park Slope neighborhood in Brooklyn  that I became aware of entire communities (outside of Asia!)  that expect you to remove your shoes on entering a home. My sister had done it for years in her Boston home, to the chagrin of our parents whose holiday outfit plans included the shoes and who felt lost (and cold) without them.But, there are a lot of good reasons to remove shoes in a home -- even one without kids.  The key is to make it work for your visitors, so here are some tips and ideas from around the blogosphere to make it work for everyone. 

For the basics on how to make it work for guests, Here are 5 practical tips from Advice with Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee

5 TIPS FOR ASKING GUESTS TO TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES

1. Heads Up: when inviting guests over, let them know that you have a no-shoes policy in your home.

2. Arrival: when guests arrives, mention that they can leave their shoes by the door next to the basket or other area you wish to mention.

3. Basket: have a basket of clean socks or slippers by the front door.

4. Shoes Lined Up: have some shoes already neatly lined up by the front door to show that others have already taken off their shoes.

5. Chair: have a chair on which guests can sit while taking off their shoes.

I'm always in favor of using fun graphics and humor to break the tension, and here are some great examples:

A sign is a good start to get the message out.

“Welcome friends, please bare your soles”.

In the picture below, great graphics point you in the right direction....how can you refuse!

Source: Mark Seleen Photography

A 3-D treatment, made out of letter -- simple to do, more interesting than a sign, and certainly to the point.

Source: samantha johnson interior design

These graphic solutions presented in a frame get the point across with a gentle, funny nudge

Here are some more great ideas from TipJunkie

all crafts Remove The Shoes! {10 Creative Signs For Guests}
Home Decor:  Remove Shoes Before Entering (True) Art Print 8x10

From TipJunkie via Etsy

Source: April's Craft Nest

If you do expect folks to strip down, keep their tootsies warm by providing clean socks or slippers, and scented satchels or even rolled up newspapers to insert in the shoes to freshen them up

Offer stylish, roll-up house slippers - Fast Flats by Dr. Scholl's, Rollasoles, or Delicate Soles, so the ladies still feel fashionable.

For a cozy, informal feel, Pearl River Mart has great cheap, easily replaceable slippers in a variety of styles, but the Gymnastic Shoes are pretty neutral.

These Red on Black Medallion Slippers are also fun --and so exotic

Pictured below, Ikea also has slippers--the cozy Idgran slippers and the more basic Njuta slippers -- let guests keep what they use as a little gift.

As a host, have a few pairs of stylish slippers you wear to set the example. Some beautiful Moroccan slippers are usually a good choiceBut what to do with your guests' shoes? Have a shoe rack or some sort of shoe storage in the entry way and make space in it before they arrive. 

This cool shoe rack is a floating one from gnr8:

A DIY guide to making your own (more affordable) version is on Not Martha blog

.

The Shoe Wheel from Rakku looks like it could double as a party game...

Ikea has lots of great, affordable options too.

With a little practice, you can make the transition easy for you and your guests, and if you need more info, there are even entire sites and discussion groups dedicated to the topic.

Happy Holidays!

Easy to Assemble, with Illeana Douglas

I just came across Illeana Douglas's web series Easy to Assemble.   Now in its third season, the show follows Illeana's (she plays herself) quest to lead a normal, non-actor's life by working in an Ikea.  But, of course, it's hard to escape Hollywood... in Burbank.
Actor's Anonymous
While I can't call myself the show's number one fan (Bored to Death has set the bar pretty high), it's a fun, quirky love note to IKEA, and I am certainly a fan of that.  Plus, being Illeana Douglas, she pulls in huge cameos by actors like Justine Bateman, Jane Lynch, and Ed Begley, to name a few.  New episodes air on MyDamnChannel, and if you love it, you can catch up on seasons one and two there as well.

Upcycling by Danny Seo

My pal Danny Seo's Upcycling book that got some great ink last week by Apartment Therapy's Daily Finds blog last week:

In case you don't know him, Danny is an environmental lifestyle expert with a really great website and blog that highlights how his creative mind works when coming up with his awesome design projects.  Like Maxwell at Apartment Therapy, I can't recommend his book enough.  And I can't tell you how excited I was to work with him as the photographer for Upcycling. Here are just a few of my favorite projects from the book:

These are books recycled into 'vases' A 'stained glass window' made from tape

floating flowers -- the trick is that they are plastic!

Recycled bottles find new life at Danny's hands

Ever wonder what you could do with a whole lot of carpet samples? Danny does!

Danny has some great posts on his site about the things that inspire him and why.  He just put up a post of pictures that have inspired him. Thanks Danny, your enthusiasm and ingenuity always inspire me!

Here's Danny making plain pillowcases beautiful...

Happy Sunday!

Whittemore House Salon

As someone who is pretty frugal when it comes to things like haircuts and manicures, it took a Mother's Day gift certificate to get me to Whittemore House, a fantastic little hair salon in the West Village.  Of course, it was the interiors that put my immediate trust in the place...the  design combines original detail with newer surfaces that have layers of patina and pattern. It manages to have modern wall tile coexist with vintage wallpaper and chairs exposing their construction. Overall the impression is a statement on decay, renewal, and exposing the innards of architecture. Sold. I also have to say that I got my best cut and color ever from Angela Soto (cut) and Charlie Regec (amazing color, she paints it on -- got many complements). The cut and color looked great for a very long time, so even if it is a once or twice a year treat, I feel it's well worth it. The building itself has a colorful past: Built in the 1830's, the former boarding house had infamous tenants like Lincoln assasin John Wilkes Booth and was a stop on the underground railroad.

The entry has a taste of what's to come: chairs which appear to be in the process of being redone,  the layered wall treatment, original detailing, and exposed beams.
The cutting stations have this beautiful wall treatment which appears to be stenciled with metallics, washed and dripped over with thinned paints. It also could be a wash over wallpaper -- in any case puzzling over it kept me busy while waiting for my color to take.
In contrast, the washing area has a feature wall of modern relief tile. In the distance a great focal point (on the Central Axis of Vision, aka CAV)
I always make a point of visiting the bathroom in a design savvy space: this one has more of the drip treatment on the walls (a questionable choice in a bathroom -- what dripped?), a beaded mirror echoed by the sexy leather wainscott with a nailhead detail.

TCB

Are there things that are broken or don’t work smoothly, and every time you come across them you feel that momentary annoyance -- and then you forget about it until the next time you come across it and it annoys you -- again? 
I finally got around to fixing a few of those very small things recently and it really is a life changer. Now, when I make coffee I don’t have to unplug the blender to plug in the grinder. Solution? a 3-way plug. That bulb in the bathroom -- finally changed it.  Transferring items from purse to purse and losing track in the process? Got a ‘Purseket’. The hipster in me resisted, but it works so well to streamline things and the polka-dot pattern is actually very cute. None of these things take much time to do, but what a difference they make. 
My burst of 'organizational energy' was in part inspired by my recent work with professional organizer Amanda Wiss of UrbanClarity. She made some great suggestions and helped me not only with the physical space but with creating systems for easily maintaining order in my business as well as personal life.
What have you been tolerating that bugs you?
What small thing can you do today to make things go just a little smoother? Just pick one!
Here are some links to my favorite organizing tools and some of the handy items that have made a difference for me in “taking care of business”. 

TeuxDeux -- By Swiss-Miss design and lifestyle blogger, this streamlined web-based to-do list is easy to look at, and has a matching iPhone app. 

Purseket -- A bag insert that can be transferred from bag to bag.
Evernote -- This is what I use for all of my design notes. You can clip web pages, add multiple tags, and sort. I have categories ranging from apps I’ve come across to faucets to design inspiration. Evernote also has a companion iPhone app.  
3 way plug -- This one solved the “behind the file cabinet” problem. Also handy are flat plugs for behind furniture to send extension cords out.
Do you have one of these problems that you can't solve? Let me know...

Are Sporks really keeping our children safe?

I just saw Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, the new show documenting the abysmal state of America’s food education, school foods, and the health issues and obesity that are the result. I have always enjoyed Jamie’s cooking shows, had heard of his foundation in England for training at-risk youth and employing them at his restaurant and was aware of his mission to bring knowledge and healthier habits to the public and schools.

One thing that he pointed out really caught my attention: At school (and often at home) kids don’t get to use knives and forks. He says in his TED speech that if you are not getting knives and forks to eat with at schools, you are endorsing the consumption of fast food and you are not giving kids the chance to eat properly. Expecting kids at school to sit like ladies and gentleman at the table is pretty far fetched (try just getting them to sit), but we could set the bar just a little higher. And the spork isn’t helping. It’s a mediocre spoon, a lousy fork, and completely useless as a cutting implement. Even the official spork page admits that the spork fails as cutlery. However, a plastic knife isn’t much better and wouldn’t encourage ‘cutting technique’ to be developed -- imagine if the classrooms only had completely dull scissors for cutting paper -- utter frustration. The best solution would be to use real metal cutlery. While it would then necessitate a dishwashing line, I believe the long-term financial and environmental impact would be worth it. It’s time to let go of the spork. If you have a moment, please sign Jamie’s petition to save America’s cooking skills and improve school food.

Spring Cleaning

Last week I was sweeping my kitchen and heard a little ‘clack’. When I turned to where the sound came from (the stove) I saw this little yellow tag on the floor:

Remove and Discard. Now I’m not a person who is always on the lookout for ‘a sign’, but this one was pretty clear. Time to get cracking on cleaning up.

Here are some of my practical and inspirational sources to get started on a Spring cleaning project.

The Container Store - will inspire you to put away your Winter clothes, color-code your closet hangers, and find a display box for your kid’s signed baseball (guilty as charged...)

Stacks and Stacks - See above, plus furniture, kid’s things and a lot of everything. But remember, this is about NOT accumulating.

Easy Closets.com - If you have a DIY skills and want a custom closet without the expense, this company does an amazing job.

And for purging:

1800gotjunk

Shredit.com - Mobile document shredding -- you can even organize a community shred in your neighborhood. It's a party! a stoop sale! Just don't turn on the sprinklers at the same time or it will become a paper-making experiment. 

Here are a couple of personal favorites. The David Allen book is focused on productivity, but the byproduct is reducing paper clutter.

I loved the Karen Kingston book, and Feng Shui practitioners will tell you how important it is to declutter and keep stagnant energy from accumulating. Just skip the part about your colon...

I don’t expect my Kitchenaid to eject messages on a regular basis (like those mechanical amusement park fortune-tellers), but I will make a point of cleaning more often under the stove -- just in case.