Today I’m not talking about logos or design best practices or book covers or website tips or any number of design-related topics I usually cover. Instead I want to do something I don’t normally do: gush. I am not the most effusive person. My inner thoughts and emotions are usually played pretty close to chest, unless I know you really well. The face I present here is usually that of the professional designer. Which is not inaccurate, but not the whole picture either. There’s a real, live human behind this business, too, and today I want to give you glimpse into her world. So today I’m sharing (and raving about, in my own way) a few of my favorite things.
Plum Paper lets you customize the interior layout/content of your planner so you can get just what you want. I get a monthly spread overview, and then a whole bunch of lined Notes pages for each month. That’s it, but that’s what works for me. If we have a meeting in person or are talking over the phone, I’m taking notes in this thing. I always know where to find my notes or thoughts on something, based on what month it was when the meeting or project happened. I love these things, and they don’t break the bank. 2018 will be my 4th or 5th year using one of these.
Those notes I’m taking in my planner? I’m using this pencil. The M-301 .5mm stainless steel barrel pencil, if you want the nitty gritty details. This is the workhorse of my office writing implements, used for notes, sketching and jotting down odd thoughts. I think I’ve literally had this same pencil for years. I don’t mean same brand, same kind – I mean the exact same single pencil. It’s got a good grip, the lead never snaps off, the construction is solid (that metal clip is no joke). It’s just a damn good pencil.
I’m going to reveal myself for the hedonist I am right here, but one office supply item I think is seriously underrated is the desk snack. Specifically desk chocolates, and very specifically the dark chocolate sea salt caramel squares by Ghiradelli. These are the best, with the dark chocolate raspberry coming in a far second. Need a dessert-y item after lunch? Done. A quick afternoon bit of yum? Easy. A pick-me-up for a day not going well? Desk chocolate to the rescue. It’s a small thing, but small things make a difference. You can almost always find a pouch of those single-serve squares on my desk.
Speaking of delicious things! I have a favorite coffee shop here in Austin, and aside from the ambiance, parking, vibe, etc. one of the reasons it’s my favorite is because of their chai tea lattes. They are like liquid candy. SO GOOD. I’d been getting them for years (and getting my friends addicted to them, too), and finally learned they use David Rio chai mix. The Elephant Vanilla variety, to be exact. While I can’t quite get the foamy wonder of the coffeeshop latte at home, it’s pretty close. The Tiger Spice chai, Maple Moose chai and Tortoise Green Tea chai are also good. Stay away from the sugar free versions, though – blech.
Very select text notifications
I am not a person whose phone blows up with notifications. I have almost all of them turned off. I don’t get dings and red circles for emails, or Twitter, or FB messages, or any of the other dozens of apps I use. I basically only have 3 things turned on to make noise: phone calls, text messages, and reminders. So nothing makes me happier with a service I use than when I don’t have to download another app but can still get notified on the go without having to turn anything extra on. My favorite of these is my post office box. They actually send me a text message when I have mail in my box, so I’m not just making fruitless trips to the post office on the off-chance that check I’m waiting for has arrived. This has been a huge time saver. Shout-outs also to my library letting me know when a book on hold is ready, and my pharmacy for when prescriptions are ready to pick up. Life made easier: ✓.
In the same saving-me-time vein, Instacart cuts out the time I used to spend at the grocery store. We started using this service in earnest while I was ill/recuperating earlier this year, but it’s just so handy I don’t see us quitting anytime soon. Add the items you want to your cart, choose a delivery time, and checkout. Bam, groceries right to your door as soon as an hour or 2 later. Why did it take so long for this to exist?! There was a small bit of learning curve (when you add bananas to your cart and the picture shows a bunch and so you say 1, thinking 1 bunch, but then you only get 1 lonely banana…) but judicious use of the ‘add a note to this item’ option has helped iron those kinks out. HEB, Whole Foods, Costco, Petco, etc. – all available through Instacart. You’re welcome.
This set of pots, pans and cookware was nearly the only physical item on our wedding registry (we opted for mostly a honeymoon registry instead). Two years in and they are still nearly as good as new. The ceramic nonstick lining, once you season them with oil properly, holds up amazingly well and cooks evenly. And these are legit the easiest things to clean in the world! That nonstick designation is no joke. Plus the metallic copper color outside adds a nice burst of color to our kitchen (what? I am a designer after all). Functional + pleasing to the eye = good design + happy home chefs.
I first saw one of these at my sister’s house. She is admittedly a much more dedicated wino than me or my husband, but once my husband took up homebrewing, we suddenly had more wine on our hands than we knew what to do with. Pretty much any gathering we host now includes a bottle or 3 of wine, and this gadget makes opening those bottles a breeze. Plus it’s just so fun to use. The only small downside is that it doesn’t work on wines that have carbonation – your moscatos, champagnes, etc.
What are some of your favorite things, business-wise or life-wise?
*Inspired by a similar post from Paul Jarvis about his favorite things.
**The Sound of Music was one of my favorite movies when I was little, so of course I’ve had the song about favorite things stuck in my head the entire time while writing this. Hence the title image.