Organized Charm: November 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Gift Ideas for Men (Advice from a Man)

It's no secret that men are difficult (practically impossible) to shop for. I mean, THEY have it so easy... My Christmas list sounds like this: "Walk into Anthropologie, choose literally ANYTHING, and wrap it”. Replace “Anthropologie” with Free People, Pottery Barn, or Victoria's Secret and it's still a recipe for success! 

Men? SO much more difficult. Maybe you have this problem, too? 

Luckily, I keep a man on retainer for just such dilemmas. Here (with Organized Charm's very first guest post ever) is my husband, Derek Horton, to give us some solid advice on what the heck to get for the men in our lives! 

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Advice on Gifting for Men
by: Derek Horton

It certainly isn’t easy.  But, then again, nothing worth having or doing should be, right?

Anything leather is a great place to start.  
Nothing more manly than leather.  There is just something timeless and cool about leather.  The beauty with leather is it gets better with age.  You simply cannot go wrong with any great leather piece.  For small everyday items: wallets, IPhone or IPad cases, flasks, sunglass cases, journals, key rings, etc.  For big-ticket items: there is nothing more iconic-cool than a great leather jacket.  Also one of the greatest gifts I ever received was a leather duffle bag from my wife.  The more miles I put on that thing the better it looks.  It personifies the phrase: ‘travelling in style.’

When gifting for a man, it is important to keep it simple and classic.  
You’re not re-inventing the wheel here.  Classics are classic for a reason.  A single barreled whiskey or aged scotch echoes classic male legacy.  Pair the whiskey with a hardcover Hemingway novel and you’ve got the recipe for awesomeness.

Also keep in mind men are obsessed with function, not frills.  
Women love frills.  Men, not so much.  The functionality of a gift is what men focus on.  The only thing a man wants ‘because its pretty’ is a woman.  Congrats, you’re the only pretty thing we need.  Now you can focus solely on function.  You’re looking for anything that serves a specific purpose rather than something just because it’s aesthetically pleasing.  Remember, we already have that pretty thing: you.

Men love gadgets.  
They serve as grown up toys.  That’s because they are grown up toys. A device that he can use to control all his other gadgets, remotely from anywhere, sounds perfect.   But, ‘why would you want to control the television from another room?’ you ask.  It doesn’t matter.  This ability alone is substantial reason enough.  Just because you will never understand ‘how this thingy works,’ doesn’t mean he won’t adore owning it.  You do not have to be tech-savvy to put this stuff on top of your list.  Don’t judge.  Remember your lesson on function.  New technology rules this category.  The more impossible this device seems the better.  Bonus points for being able to ‘link’ devices to one another.  I’m not really sure what that means either, but I do know it’s important. 

Now, stop thinking about it and just get it done. 

Need more advice? Have a comment or a question? Add it below. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

Charming Thanksgiving Celebrations

“It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Incoming Paper Organization

I’m not sure if everyone has a seemingly endless amount of papers coming into their homes each week, or it’s just me. But between the teaching and the grad school and the being obsessive about taking notes… I cannot stop the paper monsoon that seems to (constantly) take over my office!

Here is just a little glimpse at this problem. Oh, did I forget to mention that I refuse to get rid of all of my old scrapbook paper because "I might need it one day"? It’s true. 

By the way, this is the pile AFTER I threw 2/3 of it in the recycling! These are the things that I actually needed or wanted to keep. 

Luckily, during my last Target binge, I bought these adorable little file folders. I only bought them because they were pretty (because, you know, that’s a valid reason to buy things) and I literally had NO purpose for them. 

Until now...

I started out by laying out my papers and dividing them into 3 major categorized piles: 
Lesson Planning, Organized Charm, and U of M

 Then, I subcategorized the big piles into 4 smaller piles. For example, I subcategorized the "Lesson Planning" pile into: Blank FormsLesson PlansOutlines, and Strategies.

Doing it this way worked out perfectly because I ended up with 12 folders and 12 stacks of papers. Everything immediately had a home and my office was looking much better! Woo!

Finally, I labeled the folders. Of course, I started out with finding a way to color code them! I just chose to draw little color-coded hearts to symbolize the big category. 

I used a Sharpie pen to label the folders. Of course, printing these out is ideal (but I’m a poor graduate student and printer ink and paper cost money). 

So here is how the final product looks!

And the chances that every paper I bring into this house falls into one of the 12 categories in this bin are astronomical. In fact, I would go as far as to say that every paper I was bringing into my office falls under one of these 12 categories. Which is just fantastic! 

I also created a little place for my most frequently used writing utensils directly next to the filing system for making notes, highlighting upcoming or past events, etc. 

I set this bin right beside my office door. When I come in from class or work, I stop here and categorize my papers right away. No more stacks of random, loose papers all over the place!

And if (when) the folders get too full, I can just transfer the papers to a 3-ring binder!

And now I don’t even cry every time I walk into my office :) 

How do you deal with the all of the loose papers that sneak into your home? 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gatsby-Style Celebration

“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Best Pandora Stations for Studying

If you are like me, you have to have music to get absolutely anything accomplished. I cannot clean my house without it. I cannot exercise without it. I cannot work without it. And I cannot study without it. I currently have 85 Pandora stations and counting.

Okay, fine. It may be up to 100 now. Don’t judge. 

The problem with music and studying is that it tends to be a distraction. I mean, if I’m trying to read the world’s most boring text book (which is Today’s Mathematics 12th Edition, in case you were wondering), I can’t have Rihanna telling me that she’ll drink to that.

No, Rihanna. You would drink because of that. 

So, in my true OCD fashion, I researched some of the best kinds of music to listen to while studying. The answer: Instrumental songs with a low number of beats per minute. 

After some exploring on Pandora, here are some of my favorite stations that I’ve found so far…

Obviously, this station was put together to help people study. It's great because it plays classical covers of songs that are currently on the radio. It is not over the top, it is not distracting, just great (and enjoyable) background music for reading and working!

Jazz Radio.
I love jazz SO much! And there are like 47 different sub genres of jazz on Pandora. Let me clarify that this station plays the kind of music that you would hear in a swanky hotel lobby or at a Gossip Girl-esque brunch. The music is relaxing but just upbeat enough to keep me working.

Ocean Waves for Deep Sleep.
Yes, I am aware that the title of this station might be confusing (I mean, we’re already struggling to stay awake while studying) but this is seriously one of my favorite stations! It’s great for creative thinking… In fact, I’m listening to it right now!

Let me just say that I would never have thought to listen to this kind of music if I had not read that this station was put together specifically for studying! This is what I listen to if I have serious work to do on a project. It is just enough noise to keep your brain focused.

The Piano Guys.
You know how sometimes at weddings you hear really beautiful classical versions of popular songs? And it just sounds so cool and refreshing because you recognize the song YET it’s still appropriate for the situation because it’s instrumental? I love that! And when that happens, it’s probably these guys.

 Well, of course, I had to include some Baby-Einstein-ish music! This station mixes in other composers but nothing too ominous-sounding ever comes on it. Which is great, because I really don’t want it to sound like someone’s chasing me while I’m doing research (on Pinterest).

Finally, this is my favorite station for stressful days (why yes, that is every day for me). If I am feeling overly anxious on my way to work or school (hello, Exam Week), this is the station I turn to. It is just the best! It really does remind me of the music they play during massages. Which reminds me...

Bring on Finals Season :)

Are there any specific stations you listen to help you focus?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Charming Birthday Week

My birthday week has been absolutely PERFECT (and not over yet)!
Flowers from my students… shoes from my husband…
and a Gatsby-themed party tomorrow night!

{Getting a little inspiration for this weekend's birthday celebration}

{Gifts wrapped in newspaper… card written on a (my) Post-It: That’s how my husband does it.}

{And Happy (late) Veterans' Day from my precious little school}

{Birthday gift from my mom… Mean Girl Honey!}

{By the way, never ask a bunch of young children how old you are turning on your birthday}

{Little black birthday dinner dress}

{So FETCH! Thanks, Regina!}

Cheers to this lovely November weekend!


Saturday, November 9, 2013

5 Ways to Brighten Up a Small Room

You know that one room in your house that’s a little depressing because it’s always dark? Or is that just in my house?

The third bedroom in our house is so small and pitiful and dark that my husband was using it as a “storage room” (I guess) when he lived alone. It was just this poor little unused room with the door always closed when we first met. To be honest, it creeped me out a little that he didn’t want me to go in it… I felt kind of like Belle being kept out of the West Wing!

Well, a room with no purpose (or decorating) was just not going to work for me! When I moved in, the first thing I tried to do was to turn it into an office… but the walls were this really dark brownish-greenish color. And the window faced the North. And nothing ever looked bright or pretty in this room. Ever.

And so… I read and I researched and I researched and I read. And then we did everything we could to brighten it up without knocking out any walls :)

1: Paint the Walls White
The first step had the biggest impact, by far. I did a little bit of researching about the psychology of room colors and found out that white gives spaces the illusion of being bigger, brighter, and cleaner (which is why it’s the color chosen for hospitals). Perfection!

Since white on its own can be boring, we also did a medium blue accent wall. Medium blue because it is interesting to look at but not over-stimulating (which is why its often chosen for high schools).

2: Use Mirrors
Well, I kind of adore decorating with mirrors anyway, so it’s just the icing on the cake that they reflect light and make small spaces feel bigger. I have at least one in every room!

3: Decorate with Glass Pieces
This is something I learned through all of my home staging research. Since glass is transparent, it doesn’t take up any space visually. Glass is the perfect choice for tiny spaces! Worth mentioning: I love recycling things I already have instead of buying new stuff. These small, glass bottles were the perfect organization solution for tiny office supplies. Good thing I have plenty. Can you tell I’m a teacher?

4: Use Neutral Tones
I brought nearly every white/off-white and metallic object in the house to “try out” for a place in this room. Neutrals just make everything look tied together which makes the overall feel of the room bigger. I mean, my entire Pinterest account is basically one neutral room after another… but I just can’t help it!

5: Add Some Pops of Bright Color
I used a bright blue because it is bright yet calming. We spray painted that once black chair turquoise  over the summer and I am SO HAPPY with it! Also I chose some beachy photos for the bulletin board because they had similar colors.

 And don’t forget the decluttering! 
Nothing sucks the brightness out of a space like clutter does. This room used to be the “final stop” for things in our home that had no other home… piled up against the wall or in the corner. We went through our pile and got rid of or found a home for EVE-REY-THING.

Now that this room is a space where we actually like to hang out, our “final stop” is the Goodwill :)

Any other tips or tricks I should add (try)? 
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