Final Post


Thank you for visiting. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions over the past four years on this blog and the previous 10 years via the StacksandStacks Q&A feature. It’s time for me to move on now. But before I go, I wanted to share with you something I wrote a few years back. I hope you like it.

Sometimes simplifying can take you by the hand.

I used to have long, beautiful fingernails. From the time I was about six years old, my nails were a source of pride and protection: they were naturally hard and strong, and worked well as weapons—the only defense I had when my siblings or other children picked on me.

By my teens I was already obsessed with manicures, and all through my twenties I continued accumulating mass quantities of the implements and supplies required for maintaining perfect fingernails.  Having learned how to be my own manicurist from an early age, I took care of them expertly. I was proud of the way my hands looked and my nails were often the source of compliments.

When I was 31, I decided to follow a long-time dream: I wanted to learn how to play the Celtic harp. The first thing my harp teacher told me was, “You’re going to have to cut your nails.” I stared at her super-short nails as she played a beautiful melody on her harp, and suddenly knew I was at a crossroads in my life.

I didn’t even know how to cut my nails—I’d never done it. After agonizing over saying good-bye to my talons, I finally asked my husband to cut them for me. We had to do it gradually. For weeks, each time I returned for a harp lesson, my teacher said, “Not short enough!”

Getting used to the feeling of short nails took months, since the ends of my fingers had never been exposed (I’d always used the pads of my fingers for pushing buttons, etc.) and were therefore very sensitive. But as I eventually became accustomed to this new way of being, I also discovered how liberating it was to not have to think about my nails. Slowly it dawned on me how much time and effort I’d spent maintaining them, not to mention all the manicure clutter I could now dispense with. I got rid of a drawer full of nail repair supplies (no more need for glue and patches!), manicure tools and dozens of bottles of nail polish, and felt oddly relieved.

Now my life is simpler in small but satisfying ways. I keep my nails short and sometimes buffed but always unpolished.  I never have to worry about my nails breaking, nor do I obsess over how they look. And I get more joy out of playing my harp than I ever got from having long nails.

I’m not saying everyone should follow my lead. My point is this: Step back and look at what you think is important to you. Are there things you do that you’ve always done which may no longer be in line with who you are now? Could you be doing other things that you’d enjoy more and that might take less effort and/or space?

Perhaps it’s time to reshuffle your priorities and maybe even retire those that are no longer valid for your current reality.  Sometimes the things we quietly outgrow are the things that hold us back.

Harriet Schechter




Canned food organizers


Got a cabinet or pantry full of disorganized cans and can’t seem to get them in order?  Oh yes you can!

Here are three different types of canned food organizers that make it easy to keep all your cans orderly and accessible:

  • The slim (only 5.5 inches wide), compact Canned Food Dispenser stores up to nine 10.5- to 16-ounce cans on two levels. When you remove a can from the bottom tier, another can takes its place thanks to the gravity-feed release system. This space-saving can storage system also works well on refrigerator shelves to keep soda cans neatly stored and easy to grab.
  • The Wire Can Storage Rack provides three spacious shelves (18 inches wide by 16 inches) of storage space for canned goods, designed to accommodate a total of up to 45 cans of varying sizes. The shelves are slanted to allow the next can in line to roll to the front (a rim keeps cans from rolling off the shelf), and the base has rubber feet to keep the unit firmly in place.
  • The Canned Food Organizer Rack features six angled shelves with ample room to store all sizes of canned necessities. You can fit several cans on each rack–the number will depend on the size of each can.  This organizer is also versatile: it can be assembled into one large rack or two smaller ones.

Pet stuff storage


raised dog bowlsThere are many kinds of domesticated animals–but dogs and cats make up the lion’s share of household pets. That means lots of dog and cat necessities to organize.

The top dog and cat clutter culprits tend to be the supplies and materials that get the most use: food, toys and grooming products. Fortunately there are now a variety of pet organizers to help you keep your canine and feline accessories tidy. Here are three different types of pet stuff storage solutions designed with dogs and cats in mind:

  • The Pet Stuff Tower is a space-saving system for storing dry food, treats, toys, leashes and more in one easy-to-access location. The slender tower (12.8 inches wide by 16.7 inches deep, and 33.9 inches high) contains two storage bins with snap-lock lids to keep freshness in and pests (and pets) out.  Each food bin holds up to 15 pounds of dry pet food; a 1-1/2 cup food scoop is included. The bottom bin has a foot pedal for convenient hands-free access.  There are also side hooks for holding leashes and bags.
  • The Plastic Storage Chest with 4 Drawers is ideal for pet stuff storage–it has room for all kinds of  cat and dog necessities. The two deep drawers are useful for litter box fillers and bulky toys, while the shallower drawers are handy for holding items such as litter pan liners, grooming materials and small toys.  The optional casters make it easy to move around.
  • The Raised Dog Bowl Set is a combination pet food storage container and feeding station. The set consists of two quart-sized bowls atop a secure latched bin that holds up to 46 cups of dog food. The bin section is semi-sheer smoked plastic so you can easily monitor the food levels. Designed for medium-sized dogs, the bowls are elevated to help improve your dog’s posture and digestion. In addition to home use, this set is great for travel since it’s secure and compact.

More ideas for dog and cat food storage can be found in my post on pet food storage solutions.


Gardening supplies storage solutions


Triton garden tool organizerWhether you’re a green-thumb gardener or just a reluctant raker, keeping your gardening supplies organized makes yardwork tasks less of a chore.

Brooms, rakes, shovels and other gardening necessities can take up a lot of room. So it’s helpful to have gardening supplies storage systems designed to efficiently utilize every square inch. Here are three space-saving options:

  • The modular Garden Tool Organizer Wall System provides adjustable options for storing all types of tools plus pots and hoses.  Constructed from epoxy-coated heavy-gauge steel, the system includes a variety of shelves and baskets, plus a handy Recycle/Storage Bag.
  • The rolling Yard Tool Organizer Rack can accommodate 20 long-handled tools, 17 short-handled tools, a weed trimmer, a leaf blower and more. The slots provide side access to your tools so you don’t have to lift them vertically out of the rack; strong clips keep each garden tool in place yet release easily for quick access.
  • Another rolling gardening supplies storage solution is the Garden Tool Storage Cart –it features a removable vented shelf for potting or storage, a solid storage shelf, a 4-inch-high bin designed for mixing soil, and a sifter on the top of the cart that allows loose dirt to fall into the bin. There are also five side slots for holding all sizes of gardening tools.  The large wheels, along with a comfortable handle, make for hassle-free portability.

Picnic Organizers


picnic organizersSummer means beach picnics, park picnics or anywhere picnics. Sometimes all you need is the food, a blanket and some napkins. But if you’re bringing special beverages and edibles (such as wine and cheese) that require more elaborate treatment, picnic organizers can make your picnicking process much easier.

Here are three types of picnic organizers designed to help you relax and enjoy all your outdoor meals:

  • The Wine and Cheese Cooler features a fully insulated interior that keeps up to two bottles of wine or champagne properly chilled. Wine and Cheese Cooler Image The cooler is outfitted with two acrylic wine glasses, two cloth napkins, a corkscrew, a bottle stopper, a cheese knife and a hardwood cutting board–so you don’t have to think about packing any of these accessories.   A removable padded center divider prevents wine bottles from clanking together. The canvas exterior (available in two different colors and patterns) has a slim profile and comfortable adjustable shoulder strap for easy carrying.
  • The Collapsible Cooler Basket is an insulated space-saving alternative to the classic picnic basket–it folds flat for storage and has a leak-proof food-safe lining, a zippered lid and a front pocket for wet wipes, condiment packets, baggies and other picnic supplies.  It’s also available in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
  • The Picnic Backpack with Blanket comes fully equipped with all the supplies necessary to elegantly serve four people lunch or dinner al fresco.  Lightweight and ergonomically designed for safe and comfortable carrying, the backpack is only 15-1/2 inches high by 16 inches wide by 6-1/2 inches deep yet it neatly includes a 60- x 50-inch fleece blanket; four acrylic wine glasses; four 9-inch melamine plates; four sets of stainless steel knives, forks and spoons;Picnic Backpack with Blanket Image four cloth napkins; a hardwood cutting board;a cheese knife; a wood salt and pepper shaker set; and a combination corkscrew.  All of the included supplies stay secure inside thanks to the snap closure straps that keep everything safely stored while in transit. A Thermal Shield insulated cooler compartment is designed to keep food at the perfect temperature for several hours at a time. The removable leak-proof liner inside the cooler compartment helps to keep any spills contained. There’s also a handy detachable insulated wine holder on the side of the backpack, along with adjustable shoulder straps and a sturdy top handle.

Pants Organizers


pants organizersPants, slacks, trousers…whatever you want to call them, they need to be hung up when not being worn or in the wash.  (Unless, of course, you only wear pants that resemble pajama bottoms.)

Here are three different kinds of pants organizers (aka slacks organizers and trouser organizers) designed to keep these garments looking good and also easy to access:

  • Pull-out pant racks. This type of pants organizer requires installation but takes up minimal closet space.  The Trouser Pull Out Rack holds up to 10 pairs of pants and can be mounted on the left or right side of your closet.  It’s durably constructed of plastic-coated chrome-plated steel. Another option is the Closet Pull-Out Pant Rack, which includes removable epoxy-coated steel wire pant hangers and comes in two sizes–the 24-inch width includes 18 hangers, and the 30-inch width has 24 hangers. It features smooth and quiet full-extension glides, installs into existing melamine closet partitions, and is constructed of anodized aluminum in a variety of decorative finishes.
  • Tiered swing-arm pant hangers. These specialty hangers also save closet space while providing easy access. The Five-Tier Swing-Arm Slack Hanger accommodates four pairs of pants on swing-out rods plus a fifth pair on the bottom tier.  A very similar pants organizer is the Five Tier Swing Arm Slack Rack, which has blue gel friction coating on each of the tiers to keep pants hanging in place.
  • Rolling pant racks.  Pants organizers on casters let you utilize your closet floor for slacks storage (and not in a wrinkled pile, either).. The Rolling Pant Trolley–with 15 removable cedar hangers–tucks away under hanging shirts or blouses and rolls out for easy access. A smaller option is the Compact Rolling Pant Trolley, which has 10 removable cedar hangers.  If you need more of the cedar hangers, they’re available in packs of five.

Kitchen under-cabinet storage systems


Under Cabinet Storage SystemsKeeping kitchen counters and cabinets uncluttered can be a challenge. Under-cabinet storage systems provide a space-saving solution, allowing you to utilize the area above your counters. This type of storage also makes frequently used items easily accessible.

Here are three different types of efficient under-cabinet storage systems to help you keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free:

  • Under-cabinet stemware storage is ideal for households where wine is enjoyed on a regular basis. The Under Cabinet Stemware Rack is designed to hold a variety of stemware shapes and sizes, from wine goblets to martini glasses and champagne flutes. Featuring a unique mounting plate that permits easy installation on the bottom of frameless or framed cabinets (using just four screws), it’s available in three different finishes.  Another easy-to-install system is the chrome Under Cabinet Wine and Stemware Rack, which can hold six bottles of wine in addition to six wine glasses.
  • Under-cabinet knife storage lets you keep knives safely hidden away yet handy without sacrificing counter or drawer space. There are two kinds: the drop-down knife drawer that pulls down and angles towards you, with magnetic strips to keep knives in place; and the swing-out knife block with a 360-degree swivel (great for kitchen islands with overhead storage) and magnetized knife slots to hold knives securely. One crucial difference is that a swing-out block is visible whereas a drop-down knife drawer is hidden, designed to rest flush with the bottom of a cupboard.
  • Under-cabinet cookbook holders offer a simple solution to the problem of where to keep the cookbook you need to refer to while you’re trying out a new recipe. The spring-loaded Under Cabinet Cookbook Holder makes it easy to instantly access a cookbook when and where you need it, then stores it out of the way under a cabinet when you’re done.  It’s constructed of clear acrylic for complete invisibility.



Cleaning supplies storage


How can you make housecleaning chores easier?  The obvious answer is “Hire a housecleaner!”  But a more budget-friendly option involves keeping your cleaning supplies organized and handy.

Cleaning supplies can create clutter unless you have an effective storage system for them. The challenge is to keep your supplies to a minimum (try to avoid accumulating more products than you actually use) and easily accessible.

Here are three effective types of cleaning supplies storage solutions:

  • Portable.  A cleaning caddy is the simplest, most efficient and most economical way to store a small number of cleaning supplies.  Its portability makes it especially effective for quick Casabella Cleaning Supply Caddy Imageclean-ups.  The Casabella Cleaning Supply Caddy is a good example–it nests directly inside the Casabella Cleaning Supply Bucket, providing a streamlined system for keeping your supplies handy as you clean room by room. Featuring a comfortable, well-balanced handle, this caddy has a 2-gallon capacity with sufficient space for holding full-size bottles of cleaners.
  • Under-sink.  If you need something more comprehensive for your cleaning supplies storage, the Chrome Pull Out Cabinet Organizer is a well-designed solution.   It makes the most of your under-sink storage space while also providing an efficient carry-all.  Smooth-gliding extension slides allow this organizer to pull out of the cabinet for easy access to contents, and the basket section is removable so you can carry it with you from room to room. An adjustable carrying handle can slide to the side to accommodate under-sink plumbing.   The basket has a leak-proof tray to keep spills contained; a removable tray above the basket gives you room to store a roll of paper towels or other cleaning accessories.
  • Wall-mounted. For storage of long-handled cleaning supplies (including Swiffers and telescoping dusters), wall-mounted broom and mop holders are the most space-saving option.  I like the Clincher Mop and Broom Holder–it The Clincher Mop and Broom Holder Imagefeatures six spring-activated rubber cams designed to securely hold any type of broom or mop handle; five hooks to provide storage for dusters, cleaning cloths and other small items; a 4-inch-deep shelf for storing cleaning chemicals and spray bottles; and color-coded labels to help you organize your supplies.  The thoughtful design also keeps hanging supplies stored 4 inches away from the wall so you don’t have to worry about damage from wet mop-heads or damp rags.

Organizing baby supplies


baby organizersNew parents of infants are faced with an overwhelming variety of baby supplies. From bibs and bottles to diapers and wipes, the list of essentials for babies is mind-boggling.

That’s why it’s important to have organizers designed to help you keep your baby’s stuff in order, both at home and anywhere you take your infant. Here are three different helpful tools for organizing baby supplies:

  • Diaper Bag Organizer Pouches are a set of four color-coded, zippered cotton bags, each clearly labeled to help make taking care of baby easier when you’re out and about.  Designed to let you avoid the frustration of digging through a crowded diaper bag when it’s time for a quick snack, a dose of medicine or change of baby’s clothes, the back of each pouch is nylon mesh to allow for easy recognition of contents and proper ventilation. Large lettering and colorful accents make it simple for parents or babysitters to locate supplies. The bags are sized appropriately and color-coded: blue for Clean Clothing (14 x 11 inches); brown for Dirty Clothing (14 x 11 inches); sage green for Goodies & Snacks (10 x 6 inches); and pink for Extras such as pacifiers, toiletries and medicine  (7 x 7 inches).
  • The Stroller Organizer Bag has Velcro straps that attach to your stroller handles and support a large mesh pouch (you can easily see what’s inside), a smaller pocket with Velcro closure, and two drink holders. The small pocket keeps your phone, keys and other accessories safely stored away yet within easy reach. The large mesh compartment provides ample storage for everything else you need to carry with you.
  • The birch wood laminate Hanging Diaper Storage unit is a wall-mounted organizer with multiple compartments, designed to hold dozens of diapers and other changing supplies. The convenient towel rod allows you to quickly grab a towel when you need it.  Hanging Diaper Storage Image

Packing Organizers


packing organizersPacking organizers can save time as well as sanity by making it easier to pack. Some can even help keep your packed items organized and easily accessible while you’re away.

Here are three different types of extremely effective packing organizers:

  • Packable Shelves is a compact polyester organizer consisting of two open shelves and one zippered shelf, Packable Shelves Imagedesigned to fit inside a 21-inch carry-on suitcase and also hang on a closet rod.   To pack, you simply hang the shelves in your closet or over the back of a door, then place your clothes, shoes and toiletry kit on the shelves.  Then you drop the Packable Shelves, clothes and all, into your suitcase. When you arrive at your destination, unpacking is a breeze–just lift the organizer up from the suitcase and hang it in the closet or over the door. Your clothes stay organized and ready to wear.
  • The Pack This! Checklist Notepad is a 6 x 9-inch pad of 60 pre-printed sheets, each providing a comprehensive categorized checklist that’s a thorough inventory of what to pack. It lists everything from specific items of clothing and toiletries to travel aid and documents so you won’t have to worry about forgetting anything you might need while you’re traveling. The ultimate reminder list for travelers, the notepad even has slots at the top for Destination, Days, Special Events and Local Weather, and includes ideas for necessities you might not have thought of.
  • Mesh Packing Envelopes are moisture-resistant, semi-sheer zippered cases that let you easily pack and organize all types of small items, from toiletries to receipts. The set of seven includes a variety of sizes ranging from 6 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches up to 13 x 10 inches.  The PVC mesh material makes the contents viewable so you can pass through security checkpoints with minimal inconvenience.

For more packing tips, read my post on travel toiletry organizers.