Friday, April 4, 2008

"U" are Unique

T.G.I.F. everyone. We have lots of ground to cover today, so we'll get right on it. First item of business is being closure to the challenge posted by Tera last week. Tera lamented about the small amount of storage space in the on-campus apartment where she lives. She was seeking storage solutions for the spacially challenged. Cassie, Heather, Anonymous, and cspgradstudent all offered up some helpful tips.

Below are some of my suggestions, based on tips I've heard and read over time. As you can imagine, there are no silver bullets. Organizing "stuff" is a learned discipline. That makes suggestion number one predictable. The more disciplined you are about what comes in your home, the less stuff you will have to find space for. If I can't imagine where I will put it or how it will get stored, then I try to resist the urge.

  • Many people have items they no longer use, but that carry some sentimental value (maybe a relative gave it to you, your first boyfriend won it for you at a fair, it conjures up fond memories of when you wore a size 4, etc...). Suggestion... create a "Give away box." When the right person for the item visits or comes to mind, you can give the item away. People love surprises and, in the meantime, it isn't cluttering your living space and you won't feel as guilty about getting rid of it.

  • Most things we store can be put into three categories... Active, Seasonal, or Dead. Pack and store accordingly. Active items are things we use multiple times a week (pots and pans are a great example). They get stored in such a way that is easy to access. Seasonal are things we use occasionally (decorations, etc...). They should be stored in such a way that retrieving them is not impossible. I won't dwell on this. We talked about it at length last week. Dead item are things you are storing with no real idea of when you will pull them out again (a wedding dress, family photos, etc...). Obviously, they can be tucked away in the most remote of spaces. Maybe even off-site storage. Maybe the three categories give you a new framework, though the concept is not rocket science.

  • Hang things from the ceiling. In our Louisville house, we hung our pots from a ceiling rack and baskets hung from hooks in the basement ceiling. Space freed up in one location creates new space for something else. There's a ripple affect to creatively utilizing space.

  • Use a shoe bag on the back of a door to store little items. Using one in an office could free up space by creating new homes for things such as paper clips, tape, glue sticks, thumb tacks, post it notes, etc....

  • Use space underneath shelves. Picture this.... Baby jar lids screwed to the underside of a shelf. In the jars you could store all sorts of office supplies or, if you're like me with lots of random crafts supplies, you could store rhinestones, beads, and buttons. The jars are clear so you know exactly what is in them and they won't actually take up shelf space!

  • Similarly, attach shoulder hooks to the wall and hang crates from them. Crates are deep enough to hold bigger heavier things (folds of tissue paper, spools of ribbon, or cartons of foam cut-outs).
  • Tera, if you really want to get elaborate and space permits... create a temporary closet. Identify a corner of your apartment for craft supplies. Secure two pieces of lumber to the ceiling (can be removed when you move out). Then staple gun fun material to the lumber. It will create a small nook in your apartment, allowing you to disguise your craft center and holiday items.

  • Cover Pringles cans in fun contact paper. They are tall and narrow, making them great storage space for pens, markers, etc... The less counter space they assume, the more space you have for something else.

  • If all else fails and you hate everything I've suggested, then might I recommend this book title, "Living Large in Small Spaces: Expressing Personal Style in 100 to 1,000 Square Feet," by Melissa Bartolucci. The book has GREAT photos of beautifully decorated New York City apartments. New Yorkers know maximizing space!

One final note on storage space... I used this challenge as an opportunity to pay homage to one of my favorite stores... The Container Store. If you've never been to one... put it on your Bucket List. If you have, then you know what I am talking about. Their solutions were similar to what we have already heard... use the backs of doors, the ceiling, store things in long and vertical ways. While there, Tera, I saw an irresistible item for storing things such as markers,pens, tape, note cards, glue, even a small hot glue gun (an essential for anyone serious about creativity). Made of sturdy canvas, it hangs vertically in your closet and actually has drawers. Consider it an early wedding present (tell Trey he can have five of the ten drawers). It's on the way to you.

Now onto Free For All Friday. Funny about that title.. it can go two ways... Free for all Friday or Free for all, Friday. See, by adding the comma I can take the title and give it another meaning. That's important for today because today... the day of U are Unique... I am making a free offer for all. So, it's not that today is a "free for all," but instead it is "free for all."

A few years ago my sister (not the one who just visited) mailed me a book that I have referenced many times for fun and creative gift ideas, as well as for fun ways to break the ice with people visiting my office. The book is "Colorstrology: What Your Birthday Color Says About You." The premise is, that based on the day we were born, we each have a color for which we possess an affinity (even if it's subconscious). My color, for instance is Languid Lavender - a color to which I am actually drawn. I'm not suggesting there is an ounce of science behind the book, but it is fun to flip through and read.

As noted earlier, I have used the book to pick out birthday presents for others, including in the package - of course - a copy of their personal profile. For instance, the sister who gave me the book was born on November 7. Her color is Chili Pepper Red (red was always her proclaimed favorite color as a child). For her birthday last year, I filled a box with great, fun, red items and chili pepper lights. One of items was an InspiRED shirt from the Gap (I love that campaign).

Other fun ways I have considered using the information... allow each of my kids to paint something in their room their assigned color (Ricky (1/20) = Light Mahogany; Matthew (4/16) = Virtual Pink; and Jack (3/6) = Pastel Lavender). Or, what about one piece of furniture in the family room painted to contain all five of our colors (add now me 10/7 = Languid Lavender and Richard 6/29 = Forest Shade).

So today, FREE FOR ALL... your unique and personal color, along with the corresponding profile. You post your birthday and I'll post the description. Here's the first example... in honor of a reader I know and love, but who I know is shy about posting.

June 19: Golden Ochre (a pretty shade of golden yellow): Lively, Verbal, Tenacious; If you were born on this day: You have a natural brilliance and are usually a step ahead of everyone else. Your mind is quick and alert. You have a youthful quality and even when you are older, you will always have a twinkle in your eye that belies your age. It can be difficult for you to relax. Compatible birthdays: May 23, October 27, November 25

I might say that anyone who knows this woman is smiling at how accurate this description is.

Signing off until tomorrow when this... yankee seeks yummy, not yucky, yellow (or golden ochre) things you yearn.

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