Have fabulous and safe holidays!
How to Organize Your Art Supplies
Rainy days sometimes inspire me to organize and we’ve been having a lot of them lately. One of my personal messy areas is my art studio. While a bit of chaos might spark some creativity, there are certain kinds of disorganization that, for me, aren’t conducive to working. Whether you are an artist, a quilter or an occasional crafter, you might find some of my observations and product recommendations useful when setting up and organizing your own space.
Now I’m not going to go Marie Kondo on my studio or anything, but there’s nothing worse than not being able to find the right color paint, or unintentionally stroking a dark charcoal pencil over some carefully modulated graphite just because all of my various pencils were jumbled together in a drawer. I keep my graphite separate from my charcoal and my paint types separate, as well as loosely organizing them by color. And yes, I also like to organize by brand.
Brushes are another important studio accessory that require special care, storage and organizing. I like to store water media brushes separately from oil brushes so that I don’t inadvertently get oil residue in acrylic paint or ruin a hog bristle with acrylic. Storing brushes upright in jars keeps the bristles from getting damaged but when I’m cleaning them, I lay them flat on a towel so that the water or solvent doesn’t sit inside the ferrule. Once they’ve dried overnight, I store them upright in appropriate jars according to size and style, i.e. flats, filberts, points and so on.
You may not be aware of this but kitchen lazy Susans are absolutely great for holding art supplies including brushes, mediums and other items. They’re available in a range of sizes and materials, including some double-tiered models. I use them to store small paint bottles and love the accessibility.
Because I work in a lot of media, I find drawers to be a great way to stash a lot of stuff. If you have a dedicated art or craft room, tabourets or similar furniture are great for keeping things organized. This colorful ten-drawer storage unit is easy to assemble, lightweight and has a flat top that’s great for storing brush basins, brushes or other items. Convenient wheels make it easy to move where you most need it and at only 13 inches wide, it takes up little space while providing a lot of storage in its 12 x 15-inch drawers.
For storing larger, heavy paint jars, this beefier cart fits the bill with roomy 15.875 x 11.5 x 2.5-inch drawers. It comes in black or white and also includes wheels for easy mobility. Recessed handles are non-obtrusive while making it easy to access the contents. The opaque, close-fitting drawers make for a clean appearance although you may want to add your own labels so you can quickly find your supplies.
If you’re lacking floor space, you might like this smaller 3-drawer storage unit that fits nicely on a desk, table or shelf. It has three drawers and clear plastic so you can easily identify the contents. It’s 9 inches wide by 12 inches deep, making it great for storing small drawings or standard-sized paper. Multiple units arranged side by side will give you a surprising amount of storage for paper, paints or other art supplies.
If you like to make work onsite, you might need a portable storage solution for your art supplies. This 5-compartment storage tote is perfect for storing inks, pencils, brushes, polymer clay and a host of other supplies. Even though I mostly work out of my studio, I have several of these for holding odds and ends. They’re inexpensive and easy to tuck on a shelf, which is great if you don’t have a dedicated art and craft space for your supplies. Just bring it out on your Sunday painting day and return to its shelf once you’re done. Of course, these are also great for art students taking classes or working on location.
There are some supplies that are better stored right under your work area so you can just grab them when you need them—especially when drawing is your medium. A well-equipped drafting table is essential to an organized studio. This wooden drafting table comes with a full-length drawer with five compartments for pastels, pencils, measuring tools and other supplies. The wood design is so attractive that even if you don’t have a studio, you might not mind dedicating a corner of a room for working. The table has an adjustable work surface to suit your preference. Organize-It has a large selection of drawing and drafting tables, some with stools and onboard storage.
When planning your work space, here are a few other considerations–consider the light source and windows when setting up your work area. You want to get maximum light on your work. If you are painting, consider some shelving that allows you to store your canvases upright. freedomRail is a flexible shelving storage system and you could easily build your own custom craft or art storage in a couple of hours. Purchasing modular storage units, whether it’s small drawers or a freedomRail system allows you to grow as your hobby or profession grows. Buy what you need now and add to it when you need to.
Most importantly, plan and organize the space that fosters your creativity, whether it’s through some feng shui, or just paying attention to how you work and what feels good. And remember that organizing is creative too. Check out our Organize-It Blog post for more on creativity and organizing. Have fun!
*Tip: sometimes a simple plastic shoe box is a great place to dump little odds and ends…
You’re probably taking down your ornaments and storing your Christmas tree or maybe you’re really efficient and have completed that task. Since it’s a new year and you’re likely feeling the urge to organize, have you considered dedicated storage for your holiday china? Read about storage options on the Organize-It Blog and to browse lots of dinnerware and other holiday storage products, check out the Organize-It Holiday Storage page.
Keep your artificial Christmas tree in pristine condition year round using a storage solution from Organize-It. We have bags to fit most-sized Christmas trees and a variety of options including standing and mobile bags. Check out our Christmas Tree Storage page for more information.
In a perfect world, money would be no object, right? Well, in this less than ideal world, most of us have a budget when shopping for holidays gifts, including a range for people, including relatives, friends and coworkers. Here are some of our favorite gift ideas for under fifty dollars. And if you are last-minute shopping and concerned about time, consider one of our gift certificates which require no work on your part. Just pay and plug in the recipient’s email.
Brava Wine and Cheese Set – $49.99
White Marble Wine Chiller – $31.99
Spiralizer – $49.99
Umbra Bathtub Caddy – $35.99
Cupcake Carrier – $36.99
Keurig K-Cup Holder – $36.99
Single Bike Storage Rack – $34.99
Wusthof Under-Cabinet Swinger Knife Block – $49.99
Techie Gift Ideas for 2016
A carefully chosen techie gift satisfies the digitally-inclined people in your life while making the Clutter Control Freak happy, whether it’s your mother, girlfriend, boyfriend or me. Device cords, controllers and small devices scattered around the house can be VISUALLY DISTURBING to those with orderly sensibilities – as well as making stuff hard to locate – so read on for lots of techie gift ideas in a range of prices.
Mobile iPad Desk – 287.00
It’s a desk; it’s a mini-entertainment center; it’s a mini-food bar; it’s work you bring home when you didn’t want to; it’s a mobile office in a dirty Coney Island – or in the musty, up-north cabin your partner insisted you visit next weekend. It has a hanging file bin to keep you organized and a small bottom shelf for gadgets, small pets or late-night sandwiches. Whatever you want it to be, it works, so feel free to add it to your shopping list for yourself or your favorite sales person. Even better, if you have an office, give up that expensive lease, reduce overhead, and, for around 287 dollars, a sedan becomes a super-efficient office on wheels you can take with you on adventures (yes, it is sized to fit on your front seat). Minimalism is a beautiful thing, and, no, Clutter Control Freak does not charge you a consultation fee for this techie gift recommendation.
Universal Tablet Stand – 39.99
A universal tablet stand is a GREAT gift for any tablet owner as it adds so much versatility to a tablet. Adjustable to fit most models up to 10.1 inches, and sturdy enough to trust with your expensive gadgets, this stand means movies anytime and anywhere – without having to hold or precariously balance your tablet. For your recipe-loving, culinary-enthusiast friends, this excels at displaying digital recipes when cooking, leaving hands free for kitchen magic. Use it for reading instructions while fixing household appliances, or watching YouTube how-to videos when your water tank breaks. How about a music stand when learning to play the guitar using online tutorials? You get the message. This is one handy techie gift for only 39.99.
Remote Control Caddy – 17.99
Okay, so some people have one TV but the real media junkie may have several – or an X-Box, stereo system, dedicated game station or a variety of other devices. This is the gift to manage ALL of the remotes so there are no more bumpy surprises when plopping down on the couch, plus you’ll eliminate those frantic under-cushion, late-night searches. Put all the remotes here – in one of the five pockets – and forget about them ’til movie night. Manuals, magazines or comics go in the center section. As a bonus, this remote control caddy spins completely around for convenience and has a leather-look finish for handsome looks. As of 12-8-2016, it’s on sale for 17.99, an inexpensive and yet super-useful techie gift for your favorite game boys and girls.
Wall Cell Phone Holder – 6.99
This wall cell phone holder has a built-in clip to hang directly from an available outlet. Keep it here for overnight charging (or any-time charging) and it won’t get lost. At 6.99, it makes a great stocking stuffer and is a very essential gift. I mean, who doesn’t need one of these?
Bobino Cable Cord Wrap – 2.99
If you’re like me, loose cables everywhere drive me absolutely CRAZY! Even if you aren’t like me, you still need these – so does everyone else. And at 2.99, you can buy LOTS of Bobino cable wraps to create a blissful household devoid of tangled wires. Fun? Well no, but it’s sometimes okay to give people what you want them to have for Christmas. It’s small, easy to use, and also comes in red, making it almost fun.
Microfiber Cloth for Device Screens – 6.99
This is another of those universal gifts as literally everyone needs one. Safely clean screens with soft, efficient, reusable microfiber cloths from Casabella. It makes another great stocking stuffer, or accompaniment to those more expensive gift gadgets (like iPhones), but large enough (12 x 14 inches) to use on television screens and monitors.
Monitor Stand and Organizer – 56.99
Messy desk problems? Issue solved with this monitor organizer, which includes space to stash all those loose gadgets, devices and office supplies. Made of breathable-yet-sturdy steel mesh, this stand features two side pockets and a center drawer for notepads and other necessities. It’s great for college students, home offices and more. An added benefit is that it raises the monitor up four inches. Hint: most workstations are not ergonomic, and you’d be amazed at what the difference a correct-height monitor can make in physical comfort. Fact: most monitors are not set high enough for proper work posture.
Wall Mount TV Stand – 239.99
This white TV stand is our top Pinterest pin, and it’s no wonder, given its clean, sleek look. It holds up to 165 pounds, can support 58-inch televisions, and has a ton of space to store all your media. Three top compartments store peripherals with smartly-designed back recesses for efficient cord management. It’s available in black, espresso, or white.
There you have it, my techie gift ideas for 2016. Of course, you probably have ideas of your own and will certainly want to check out Organize-It for lots of gift ideas, as we have a ginormous selection of computer and desk accessories, kitchen gadgets, craft organizing supplies and decor.
Clutter Control Freak
Essential Oils – Tool Kit for Surviving the School Year
Economics. Biology. Cold pigs and half-dissected frogs stuffed in your dorm refrigerator. What to do with them?
Oh, those notes. Where are they? The latest Game of Thrones is on your roommate’s TV and it’s so much more interesting.
Algebra… How many Hillarys divided by two Trumps will it take to fill an orange crate? Oh, the debates are on.
Seventeenth-century painting just got less interesting when the resident advisor started a twerk session during the dorm’s first-Sunday, voluntary-dream therapy breakfast group, but wait, you came here to learn!
Let’s face it, dorms are distracting; as is life. Unless you’re not human, you probably struggle with focus. There are practical things you can do to help yourself, however. Often times, just switching the off button helps tremendously, but it may not be so easy if the switch resides in your head.
Essential Oils for Focus
Amazingly, there are some essential oils that may encourage focus. No, we don’t sell them, but we’re thinking about you and thought we’d share a few tips to help you get through the final leg of your term.
Oils for Concentration
- Clary Sage
- Juniper Berry
For studying, the best ways to use the oils are either by sniffing directly or using in a diffuser (one engineered for use with oils). The chemicals get to the brain faster when inhaled through your nose. That said, when cut with a carrier oil (such as almond or coconut oil), a topical rub applied to vital points is also very effective. Plus, you can do it in public without rousing suspicion (or risking confiscation or arrest). Rub on wrists, behind ears, around ankles, at temples – or use your intuition. Don’t use the oils straight, they need to be diluted in a carrier oil. One or two drops to two tablespoons should work (or ten drops to 30 ml.).
If you feel hyper or scattered, the tree resin (Frankincense) and Juniper Berry are nice grounding oils. Peppermint is a great wakeup oil. Cool and stimulating, it can make you more alert. Try mixing some with your shampoo to get going in the morning (same ratios as with the carrier oil). Don’t apply peppermint near your eyes or other sensitive tissues.
When you’re studying for an exam, try sniffing some rosemary while you’re studying, then smell it again right before you take the test. Smells have a way of recalling memories and information. This a great memory trick and one worthy of sharing.
Essential Oils for Stress
We all have it. Sometimes a little stress is good, but not when it interferes with your concentration, your work, or your studying. The universe gave you lots of safe, aromatic plants to help you feel good. Many splendid oils come from trees, including the roots, resins, bark and blossoms. Ylang ylang is a great de-stresser and you can use it the same way as outlined above. A diffuser is great because you can use it while you’re sleeping – plus it helps relax you for deeper sleep.
Orange or bergamot are other great de-stressing oils and they can help modulate blood pressure – and have lots of other health benefits. Clary sage also has calming properties and it’s good for hormone-induced stress.
Oils for Reducing Stress
- Ylang ylang
- Cedar Wood
Lavender also has some amazing physical healing properties – especially for burns. You can find lots of information about essential oil properties online.
Essential Oils for Immunity
When you’re in school, it’s hard to avoid germs, unless of course, you’re doing it remotely or have a private room lined with Lysol-doused aluminum foil. Along with managing stress, it’s important to eat right and get lots of rest so you can feel and perform your best. Should you get sick, and you just might, sitting with all those germified “other people,” here are some great oils to have on hand:
Oils for Colds
- Cinnamon Bark
These oils all have amazing individual properties, but combined, they form a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-viral mix. The blend is especially effective when you use it immediately – just at the onset of the sniffles – on vital points such as the soles of feet, wrists and behind ears. I’m not exaggerating! This is a powerful mix! You can buy it premixed from a number of manufacturers under names similar to “Thieves” but if you mix it yourself, you’ll have leftover oils so you can play amateur alchemist in your dorm room just as soon as you finish dissecting those pigs and complete those impossible math equations.
For “Thieves” proportions, check out this website, and remember the “Thieves” oils are all inexpensive staples that are nice to keep in your medicine cabinet. Please note that before using any essential oils, you should perform an overnight allergy test to detect if you have any sensitivities. Put a drop of pure oil on your skin and cover it with a Bandaid overnight. If you have any redness or swelling, don’t use it.
These suggestions aren’t just for college students, they’ll benefit most anyone and make a great home or travel kit for minor cuts, burns, etc. Please note that the doses recommended in this post are for adults only. Child doses require greater dilution, so please do some research before administering oils to children (or pets). There’s a wealth of free information on the internet about medicinal and other uses for essential oils, including recipes for eco-friendly cleaning products.
Clutter Control Freak
For two de-stressing essential oil recipes, view our other post.
You might also enjoy this tea storage blog on our sister site, which features a tea storage box that gets repurposed into an essential oil holder. And check out this piece on getting focused at work (which totally translates into school studying habits).
Green Gifts for your Eco-Friendly Family and Friends
Green gifts help put the green in Christmas – so why not indulge your eco-friendly family members in a way that suits their conscientious souls? There are so many ways you can sustain the environment while pleasing the earthy-crunchy people in your life, I’ve decided to share a few ideas with you…
1. Edible Green Gifts
Some people do like green eggs and ham, so consider giving food this holiday season. Whether it’s homemade cookies or a loaf of chocolate cherry sourdough bread, everyone loves food, including your eco-conscious friends. Find a recipe tailored to your gift recipient’s particular likes to make it extra special. Pack it in a glass food canister or some other non-plastic container so it can be repurposed for food storage after your gift is consumed. Homemade granola packed in an oval-sealed storage jar adorned with your favorite ribbon (or twine) makes a lovely holiday presentation.
Loose leaf tea packed in a basket or jar, combined with a travel tea infuser makes a lovely gift and encourages a little self-indulgence, while a selection of hand-picked bagged tea may be packaged (by you) in this delightful bamboo tea storage box.
Healthy food gifts presented in planters or small compost pals are a clever way to show you noticed while encouraging their eco-friendly ways. These are only a few edible green ideas to use as a springboard for your own brainstorming.
2. Green Gifts that Take Up Zero Space (for the True Minimalists)
Your minimalist loved ones may not want stuff for holiday gifts. Many prefer experiences: wining, dining, entertainment, sports tickets, etc. Experiences make great green gifts as they do not require maintenance, do not contribute to landfills, and do not require storage space. Think about your gift recipient. Who do they like? What are their causes? Classes in cooking, art, massage, essential oils, and blogging are just a few great ideas for your knowledge-hungry loved ones.
Digital music downloads and other entertainment services are great “experience” gifts that don’t take up physical space. Think subscriptions, online learning and media services (not advocating one here, just putting it out there – you know who they are).
3. Homemade Green Gifts
Homemade green gifts, especially consumable ones, are a great way to show people you care by adding a personal touch. Handmade soaps made from natural ingredients and essential oils make a lovely gift, as do gifts made from recycled goods. Buy some organic shampoo base and blend in their favorite oils for a personal gift tailored just for them. Making your loved one a luxury item goes along with the “experience” gift ideas by giving someone permission to ethically indulge in a soothing, luxurious activity.
4. Green Gifts Galore in the Form of Decor
Whether it’s renewable bamboo or hemp-woven rugs, sustainable decor makes a lovely gift for your favorite tree huggers. Organize-It has a huge selection of Lipper Bamboo products for just about any room or any purpose. Make your own set of office organizers from individual bamboo components, or deck out your loved one’s bath with gorgeous bamboo bath accessories. Fortunately, all of the Lipper bamboo and other products can be found in one convenient location on the Organize-It website.
5. Green Gifts that are Clean Gifts
While cleaning may not seem very exciting for a holiday, cleaning with Caldrea products almost seems like a luxury. Made with biodegradable ingredients with intoxicating essential oil scents, a thoughtfully selected array of Caldrea cleaners would be a welcome addition to most eco-friendly homes.
Caldrea sea salt/neroli-infused counter cleaner is a welcome addition to a vanity. Pair it with their corresponding laundry detergent and package in an attractive stainless steel compost pail, and you have a lovely, sustainable gift.
6. Green Gifts you can Grow Yourself
Even in the winter, plants make lovely gifts and serve as a pleasant reminder that the season will actually change, as they always do. These sets of small pails are ideal for planting herbs, but you could also fill them with homemade candies, seed packets or a variety of other items. They come in galvanized or copper finishes and include a deep tray to corral them (which looks great on a windowsill or countertop). Buying seeds is another idea and if you give your gift in a container, you can save the waste of all that wrapping paper (thinking really green).
7. Green Gifts from Recycled Materials
Whether you are buying from artisans or making it yourself, recycling materials is a great way to please both your eco-people and mother nature. Recycle boutiques can be found easily on the internet – or you can roll up your sleeves, haul out the sewing machine, and make a divine mess on your kitchen table. Gift-making can be a great family project, whether your make homemade wrapping paper, ornaments, wreathes or other handcrafted items. How about a crazy quilt from outgrown clothes, or candy tins made from tuna cans and recycled Christmas cards from last year? Or a groovy retro-knit beer cap vest or pantaloons? You’re only limited by your imagination here. Be creative. Go crazy. You have my permission (and I’m sure you were waiting for it).
8. Green Gift Cards – You Don’t Have to Decide
Buy a gift card and let your green person select their own green gifts. Organize-It sells them here, and we have about 20,000 products (not all green, but all colors and varieties) to select from, including recycling products, kitchen accessories and techie gifts. Gift cards are also great because they are so EASY – no shipping, no packing, no wrapping. Just plug in the email address, pay, and leave the rest to us. It’s all digital, behind-the-scenes magic. Whatever you decide to do to make your holiday green, have a fabulous one!
Clutter Control Freak
Whether you are de-stressing from the elections, or just from your work day, using essential oils for stress is a safe and natural way to reset your nervous system. There are many oils with stress-reducing chemical properties, but here are a couple quick recipes to get you going.
Note: Be sure before using the oil to test yourself for allergies by placing a drop on your forearm and cover with a bandage overnight. Remove the bandage in the morning. If any redness or lumps appear, do not use it. You can also test with the individual oils to pinpoint the sensitivity. Allergies are rare, but some people do have sensitivities.
Stress Relief Essential Oil Blend #1
- 10 ml. of carrier oil (such as coconut oil)
- 3 drops of lavender or chamomile
- 2 drops of frankincense
- 2 drops of lemongrass
Stress Relief Essential Oil Blend #2
- 10 ml. of carrier oil (such as coconut oil)
- 3 drops of ylang ylang
- 2 drops of patchouli
- 3 drops of bergamot
- 1 drop of geranium
Rose is an emotionally powerful essential oil but also one of the most expensive, so if you happen to have some (or some rose absolute, an inexpensive alternative), it’s well worth experimenting with. Other good oils are orange and neroli (from bitter orange tree blossoms).
Apply to temples, wrists, back of knees, chest, back of neck, and/or behind ears. Alternately, skip the carrier oil and add the essential oils to a diffuser or a warm bath before bed. Add a cup of chamomile for sound sleeping.
Warning: this is an adult dose. For children or pets, please seek out sources for proper dilution.
Using essential oils for stress is a safe alternative to toxins and a great way to pamper yourself and recover from a hard day, week, or election year. See our other post for suggestions for a basic essential oil kit for everyday living.
Love, Clutter Control Freak
You might also like the following, to help you de-stress:
Must-have kitchen gadgets for a Thanksgiving feast
Ready or not, here comes Turkey Day — AND your hungry family. If you have been honored with the task of hosting Thanksgiving, make it easy on yourself by investing in the proper tools.
- Electric knife: I know it seems goofy, but this Electric Knife from Cuisinart will make it super simple to cleanly slice up your bird or ham come the big day. Carving a turkey can be a real chore, but this handy blade takes the guess work and grunt work out. It comes with a solid hardwood stand and handle storage so you can keep it properly stored and it will be like-new every year. Switch between the two stainless steel blades, designed for carving meat and bread respectively. A safety button and a four foot cord makes this electric knife user-friendly and safe for everyone.
- Meat thermometer: You won’t overcook the turkey when you check it with this digital thermometer. This speed-read models gives you accurate readings in 8 seconds or less in both Celsius and Fahrenheit. Pre-programmed settings for veal, beef, pork, chicken and fish give you at-a-glance readings for rare, well-done, and other degrees of cooking. It’s great for the grill or the oven.
- Food chopper: Chop veggies for your stuffing, pecans for pie, garlic to spice up your potatoes and much more with this easy hand chopper by Cuisinart. The plastic base allows you to chop without the addition of a cutting board. The covered design also keeps you hands out of the way, so you can cut and dice without worrying about slicing your fingers. This safe, easy to clean (throw it in the dishwasher!) and user-friendly chopper is a great addition year-round. Plus it’s on sale at a super-affordable price.
- Food processorBlendtec: Cut your prep time in half with a Blendtec. Blendtec’s have the most powerful motors on the consumer market, plus they replace most of your other kitchen appliances. Chop and puree’ foods plus make nut butters, smoothies, and other foods (hot or cold). An early holiday gift is sure to make preparing food for all those winter holidays easier.