About Hannah Diamond

I am the marketing administrator for UrbanGirl.com. I was an “Urban Teacher” for a decade before becoming an Urban Girl. I taught 9th grade English at a public high school, so I love reading, writing, and basically doing anything creative.

Unique Gift Ideas: Woman-Owned Businesses

We always love to support other woman-owned businesses, and making a holiday gift guide featuring unique gift ideas from companies owned by women has become a tradition here at UrbanGirl.

Here are some unique gift ideas for 2016 from woman-owned businesses!  None of the businesses paid or asked to be included.  I simply found products from woman-owned companies that were of interest to me.  Enjoy!

Darling Magazine

What do you get for the woman who has everything?  A magazine subscription!  It is something she will read and enjoy throughout the year.  Darling Magazine features stories about real women and vows to never use Photoshop to alter women’s faces or bodies, and to only write positive stories about celebrities instead of highlighting gossip.

Unique Gift Ideas - Darling Magazine

Pug Notes by Melissa Langer

I have two pugs, so I love Melissa’s whimsical pug artwork.  You can purchase these adorable pugs (and other breeds–she is not exclusive to pugs!) on many items from note cards to tote bags to dog bowls.

Artwork by Melissa Langer

SheroBox Subscription

The ultimate gift for women by women!  SheroBox, a woman-owned company, is a subscription box service featuring gifts from woman-owned businesses.  Surprise her with a new box of goodies every month that supports woman-owned businesses.

Unique Gift Ideas from woman-owned businesses

Curl Box

I love subscription boxes and I have naturally curly hair, so I had to include the Curl Box in this list.  Subscribers get high-quality hair product samples each month.  The company is owned and operated by Myleik Teele.

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Peeled Snacks

Noha Waibsnaider founded Peeled Snacks in 2004.  She wanted snacks that were both tasty and healthy, and could not find anything that worked.  Therefore, she started her own company making organic fruit snacks and more!

Unique Gift Ideas - Peeled Snacks

These are just a few ideas from woman-owned businesses that were interesting to me.  Feel free to leave your own suggestions by woman-owned businesses in the comments.  Don’t forget to check out our previous woman-owned business gift guides as well!  #BuyFromWomen this holiday season to help support woman-owned businesses.  (Remember, we are woman-owned, too!)

Hannah Tries to Keep an Organized Planner

I am not a naturally organized person.  I love the idea of being organized, but as a creative person, I find it difficult to actually be organized.  I admire my coworker Hilary who always has her weeks planned out in her creatively decorated and perfectly organized planner.  I love seeing pictures of offices on Houzz or Pinterest that are perfectly sorted, color-coded, and contained.  I love shopping on UrbanGirl or going to Ikea to buy cute and colorful desk organizers.

Madrid style organized planner

At-a-Glance academic year “Madrid” style 5″ x 8″ planner. I carry this one in my purse.

However, putting these ideas into practice just hasn’t worked for me.  I need my papers exposed and in front of me on my desk.  I find clutter inspirational.  I know where things are, even if it looks like chaos to someone else.  I am not sure that I will ever be an organized person, but I am starting small.  I at least want to keep an organized planner.

I want to become one of those amazing people who have an Instagram-worthy planner.  I want to have all of my appointments and reminders neatly and creatively stored in one spot.  I hope that by making my planner creative by decorating it with washi tape and stickers, that I will be more motivated to actually use it.  I may not have an organized desk, but I am determined to have an organized planner!

I decided that I actually need two planners.  I bought one small size to keep in my purse, and a larger one to keep in a central location in my home.  The larger planner will be used by both my husband and I to keep track of events, special occasions, appointments, and maintenance of our home.  For example, we can never remember when we need to change our air-conditioner filter.  That is something we can write down in our planner, along with changing batteries in our smoke detectors, giving our dogs their monthly heartworm pills, and keeping track of bills.

organized planner

At-a-Glance Vienna 2016 professional planner featuring weekly and monthly views. 8.5″ X 11″

I chose the Vienna Professional Planner by At-a-Glance to be the home planner.  It is 8.5″ by 11″ so it is large enough for both my husband and I to write in.  Also, it is beautiful, so I will enjoy looking at it each week.  I don’t have time to decorate two planners, so I decided I wanted a planner that was already nicely decorated.

For my personal planner, I chose the Madrid purse-size planner.  It is pretty on its own, but the simple black and teal pattern allows me to add embellishment.  I purchased the academic year version because I wanted to go ahead and get started and not wait for the new year.  I found the plain black cover to be too boring, so I decorated it myself using washi tape and Duck brand decorative tape.

Organized Planner

My planner, customized with washi tape and duck tape.

In my next post, I will show the inside pages of my planner to show that I am actually keeping up with it and writing in it every week.  Keep reading this blog to see if I can really keep an organized planner for the whole year!

Get it Together with Deflect-O Organizers

I love the Deflect-O organizers.  My favorite products are the Deflect-O interlocking tilt bins.  They come in different sizes and configurations and can be used to store small items in the office or craft room.  They keep everything organized, visible, and labeled.  While researching them for this blog post, I discovered more reasons to love the Deflect-O Organizers!

Deflect-O Organizer - Tilt Bin Interlocking Unit

I discovered that the tilt-bins are made in the USA and that the origins of the company are quite interesting.  In 1960, its founder invented the first air deflectors for factories and homes to make heating and cooling more efficient, hence the name Deflect-O was chosen for the company.  What in the world does this have to do with office organizers?  An employee turned over one of the air deflectors on top of a file cabinet and discovered it could be used to store and organize invoices.  The company took this clever idea and began to manufacture office organization products.  A random idea took the company into a whole new area of business.

From that lucky incident, Deflect-O now produces a wide range of office products including file pockets, sorters, etc.  However, for this post I am focusing on my favorite, the tilt bins.

The Deflect-O Interlocking Tilt Bins are an organizational system that you can mix and match to find the perfect storage solution for the classroom, home, or business.  Shown below are three bins stacked together to create a perfect storage unit for craft supplies.

Deflect-o organizers stacked together

Each of these modular units feature clear bins with a unique interlocking design that lets you mix, match and stack different sizes. Mount bin storage system to a wall or place on a countertop. Bins tilt out, stay open, and then close again with the touch of a finger. Each bin can be easily removed from locking mechanism for easy cleaning or refilling. Tilt Bin Storage System includes mounting hardware and identification labels.  The bins are available in black or white and come in a range of sizes from 3 to 9 compartments.

 

Is it OK to have a Colorful Office?

Yes.  It is more than OK to have a colorful office!  It is becoming more and more acceptable for both men and women to have offices that are fun and colorful, as opposed to stiff and boring with brown desks, manila file folders, and gray file cabinets.  Of course, at UrbanGirl, we love color so our offices may be a little more colorful than most.  Dyan’s office is pink, and even the guys have colorful walls in yellow, purple, and green.

In the 1980s, when more and more women began entering the corporate world, women’s clothing, as well as their office decor, was not that much different from that of men.  Remember the power suit and shoulder pads?  Suit jackets with padded shoulders gave women a more masculine appearance as women worked to shatter glass ceilings.

Office style of the 1980s

Now, however, women (and men!) can still be powerful leaders, but without all of the stereotypical masculine details.  Some of the biggest companies feature colorful office decor that is even childlike in its design.  See Google’s office, for example.  We  wondered if this trend would continue, and we asked several successful women how they felt about having a colorful office.

Many expressed that going overboard could be seen as unprofessional, and that different fields have different levels of acceptance of non-traditional office style.  For example, a creative business may have more relaxed decor rules, while a law firm may feel that traditional office decor portrays a more professional image.

Megan Christian, owner of Redbird Country Decor, says, “It is absolutely acceptable to have colorful office supplies or decor. It helps make work more fun and lets others into fellow co-workers personalities and style. I think there is a line you can cross with over the top bright and colorful that can make one’s image seem unprofessional, but a little color and fun allows you to stand out from the crowd in a good way.”

It seems that most people want a little more color and personality in their office decor, but most do not want to go as far as companies such as Google.  Nancy Taylor, owner of Nancy T Social Marketing summed this up nicely, “Let’s not go all Hello Kitty and leopard print, but most every industry can tolerate a little more color these days.”

Is it OK to have a colorful office

7 DIY Cubicle Decor Ideas

Cubicle Decor

Working in a cubicle does not have to be dull and boring.  You can liven up your workspace with your favorite colors and your own personal sense of style.  Here are some easy ways to change your ordinary office supplies into fabulous cubicle decor!

1.  Add Style to Your Sorters

Whether you use a wire sorter like mine, or those ugly plastic letter trays, you can easily transform them to match your decor.  Purple is my favorite color, so I decided to spray paint my black wire sorter with a deep shade of purple.

DIY Cubicle Decor

2.  Dress up Your Monitor Stand

Well, I didn’t really have an actual monitor stand.  Like many of us, I simply stacked a few catalogs and set my monitor on top.  It works, but it definitely isn’t pretty.  I simply taped my two catalogs together with packing tape, then wrapped them up like a present using pretty paper.  Instant upgrade!

Monitor Stand

3.  Trendy Tissue

I went a little crazy with the wrapping paper and did the same to my tissue box!  Now I have  a matching set.

4.  Purple Post-it Note Dispenser

See a previous blog post in which I explain how I transformed my Post-it note dispenser with a little bit of spray paint.  Read about my DIY Post-it Note Dispenser.

5.  Snazzy Scissors

I decided I wanted my scissors to be purple, too.  It was easier than I thought it would be.  The important thing is to open the blades and cover them with painter’s tape before spray painting the handles.  Seem like too much work?  You can just buy purple scissors from UrbanGirl.

Scissors

6.  Hand-Wipes in Hiding

I like to keep a jar of antibacterial hand wipes on my desk.  However, they are ugly!  I decked mine out with some paper and Duck Tape.  See my DIY Duck Tape post for details.

7.  Bland to Bold Board

It was just a plain, brown bulletin board.  I put painter’s tape around the inside edge and painted the frame with silver chrome spray paint.  I let it dry, removed the tape, then taped over the frame to paint the board purple.

DIY Board

I then spray-painted my multi-colored pushpins with silver paint to match the frame.  I poked them through an old paper bag before painting, so I would only paint the plastic part and not the metal pin.

pins-detail

If you aren’t the DIY type, of course you can just buy office supplies in your favorite colors at UrbanGirl.  You can shop by color to find the perfect colorful desk accessories!

Office Supply DIY Custom Note Dispenser

purse-blog-header

My fellow UrbanGirl Jennifer and I both have this black purse-shaped Post-it note dispenser on our desks.  I love this dispenser because it is heavy and doesn’t fall over when I pull out a note, and it is cute.  However, the black plastic did not match the rest of my purple office decor.  Jennifer had the same problem.  It did not go well with her gold office supplies.  We decided to customize our note dispensers to match our workspace decor.

Before:

before-note

Here is how we customized our note dispenser.  First, we gathered up purple and gold spray paint, a cardboard box, some tape, and our dispensers.  We went outside and opened the dispenser to spray each half separately.  We taped over the note opening so paint would not go inside the dispenser.  We placed them on the upturned box and prepared to paint.

taping-purse

We spray painted each side and waited for them to dry.  We then spray painted the bottom, edges, and underneath the handle.

painting-purse

After both sides were completely dry, we snapped them back together with coordinating notes inside, and our customized note dispensers were ready to go!

Note Dispenser

I also spray painted my scissors to match.  In a later post, we will show our other DIY office projects including customizing a corkboard and pushpins, DIY monitor risers, and more!

purseandscissors

Carson Dellosa Ideas for Teachers

Carson Dellosa is one of my favorite manufacturers of products for teachers.  I taught 9th graders, so I didn’t get to use them much for my teaching career, but elementary and preschool teachers love Carson Dellosa.

Carson Dellosa Teacher Supplies

My mother is a retired early-childhood teacher.  I loved visiting her colorful classroom and seeing all of the ways she incorporated fun bulletin boards to teach and reward her 4-year-old students.  She always loved Carson Dellosa because of their quality and diversity of uses.

She used the borders to outline her bulletin boards and large class calendar.  She started each class with a talk about the calendar.  She would teach the students about holidays, seasons, the weather, etc with this activity.  She laminated everything–even pages from a cute notepad can be used repeatedly as an activity piece or bulletin board decoration when laminated.

Carson Dellosa Note Pads

Carson Dellosa Note Pads have a variety of uses. Laminate them and use them for bulletin board decorations and activities.

She used the cute star shapes to recognize class leaders and birthdays, and used certificates for rewards.  Carson Dellosa also makes many other useful classroom products such as record books, pocket charts, and more.

When I look through these products on UrbanGirl, it makes me wish that I had taught the younger grades.  Carson Dellosa classroom decor is just so cute and colorful, and has so many possible uses.

 

The 6 Types of Office Supply Thieves

6 Types of Office Supply Thieves and How to Handle Them

If you love office supplies like we do, then you know what it feels like to have a coworker take your favorite pen or borrow your stapler and never return it.  I have encountered all of these office supply thieves in both my career as a teacher and my career in an office.  Here are ways to handle the six types of office supply thieves:

The Accidental Acquirer

She doesn’t even know she is a thief.  She unconsciously grabs a pen off your desk to jot a quick note, walks off with it, and sticks it in her pen cup, all the while never knowing what she has done.  She may realize at some point that she has a pen that is not hers.  If she does, she will bring it back and apologize profusely.  Or, she will never realize it, use the pen all the time, and remain completely oblivious as you give her the stink eye for pilfering your favorite pen.

How to get your stuff back:  Just ask her nicely.  She will return it immediately.

The Borrowing Buddy

This person always asks to borrow your stuff.  He is your friend so you say yes.  He uses your favorite red stapler, then conveniently forgets to give it back.  Unlike the accidental thief, the borrower knows what he is doing.

How to get your stuff back:  The only way he will ever return it is if you ask him about it.  He will then pretend that he forgot to give it back.  He did not forget.  He hoped you would.  However, once confronted, he will give it back.

The Sneaky Stealer

She hangs around your cubicle often.  She waits for you to step away from your desk, then she strikes to swipe one of your Post-it notepads.  She ran out, and didn’t want to deal with asking for some, or waiting until she could purchase more.  If you confront her, she will pretend that you are crazy and tell the whole office, “Why would I steal Post-it notes?  Who does that?”

How to get your stuff back:  Steal it back.  I suggest the Blatant Bandit method.  See below.

The Blatant Bandit

The blatant bandit finds victims who she knows are too nice to call her out on her bad behavior.  She will grab something off of your desk as you sit in your chair, dumbfounded.  She may even announce–not ask–announce, that she is taking the item.  As she grabs your notepad she states, “I’m taking your notepad, thanks!” and walks off like nothing has happened.

How to get your stuff back: Grab it off her desk and say, “I need this back, thanks!” and walk off as if nothing has happened.

Office Supply Thieves Infographic

The Finders-Keepers Fiend

It happens.  You leave your notebook behind at a meeting.  You return to retrieve it, only to find that it is not on the conference table where you left it.  You have been a victim of the finders-keepers fiend.  He believes that anything left out is fair game.  He will take it and not think anything of it.  When you ask the office if anyone has seen your notebook, he will act like he has no idea what you are talking about.

How to get your stuff back: You can’t.  You probably won’t know who stole it, and even if you figure it out, he will hide the stolen object.  For revenge you can steal something of his to make yourself feel better.

The Passive-Aggressive Plunderer

She shows up to a meeting without a pen to take notes.  She sees that you have a couple of pens next to your notebook.  Instead of asking to borrow one, she says, to no one in particular, “if I had brought two pens to the meeting, I would ask if anyone else needed to use one.”   You begrudgingly hand her one of your pens.  When you ask for the pen back at the end of the meeting, she says, “oh, here you go.  I forgot that you don’t make as much money as I do, so I guess you need to hang on to your pens.”  She hopes that you will become embarrassed enough about your lowly salary to let her keep the pen.

How to get your stuff back: Go aggressive-aggressive.  Don’t let her borrow anything, and if you do, demand it back.  She won’t know how to handle direct confrontation.

How many of these types work in your office or school?  How do you handle these office supply thieves?  Let us know in the comments.

Back to School Teacher Essentials

10 Back to School Teacher Essentials

Back To School Teacher Supplies

Whether you are a teacher yourself, or purchasing a gift for a teacher, consider this list of back to school teacher essentials.  As a former teacher myself, these are all items that I know teachers need.

1.  A stapler that doesn’t jam!

Teaching involves many frustrations; fixing the seemingly minor issues, such as stapler jams, can help a teacher’s day run more smoothly.  I always recommend the Rapid Plier Stapler.  It is the best stapler for a teacher.

2.  A fashionable and functional agenda.

Teachers need a planner, of course.  Why not have a pretty one?  UrbanGirl has several designer planners from brands such as Kate Spade New York, Ban.do, Emily Ley, Lilly Pulitzer, and more.

Back to School Teacher Planners

3.  Binders, Binders, Binders.

Binders are perfect for keeping papers organized.  Get a different colored binder for each type of paper.  One for professional development information, one for student information, etc.

4.  Color-Coded File Folders.

Even with many classrooms going digital, teachers still have to handle tons of paper.  Classifying papers using colorful file folders makes this arduous task a little more fun.  Get a different color or style folder for each class, or for each function–handouts, graded papers, papers to grade, etc.

animal print file folders

5.  Colorful Pens.

While teachers are known for marking papers with red pens, I always liked to use an unusual color like green or orange.  And, I just liked having different colored pens!

6.  Coffee.  (I guess this should really be number one!)

Yes, the stereotype is somewhat true as most teachers I know, myself included, start the day with coffee.  A cute travel coffee mug is indeed an essential school supply for a teacher.

Kate Spade and Ban.do Mugs

7.  A Plethora of Post-its!

Post-it Notes have so many uses…stick notes on students’ papers, use them for classroom projects, or use them for tabs in notebooks and binders.

8.  Germ Fighters.

Kids (and some adults!) don’t always cover their noses and mouths when sneezing, so teachers can always use products such as hand wipes, hand gel, cleaning wipes, tissue, etc.

Hand Sanitizer

9.  Colorful Copy Paper.

Important papers for students are more likely to be kept and read if they are on a color of paper other than white.  Schools don’t usually provide any color of copy paper other than white (if they even provide paper at all).

10.  Paper Trays in “Poppin” Colors.

This is yet another item on the list related to the organization of papers.  Keeping papers organized is essential.  Get a different colored tray for each class, or sort them by purpose…one tray for graded papers, one for to-grade, etc.

Poppin Letter Trays

 

Obsolete Office Supplies

Some obsolete office supplies make me sad, some nostalgic, and some I do not miss at all.  Mostly, these obsolete office supplies just make me feel old!  This list does not necessarily mean that no one uses these office supplies anymore, or that they no longer exist.  It just means that these items have been replaced by something more efficient, and are on their way to becoming memories.

5 Obsolete Office Supplies

1.  Typewriter

I hate to even include the typewriter on this list of obsolete office supplies.  I still own one.  I learned how to type on one.   I love the click-clack of the keys–which just isn’t the same on my computer.  However, my teaching experiences showed me that the typewriter is indeed an obsolete piece of equipment.

Obsolete Office Supplies

I taught 9th grade English for several years.  Sometime, around 2010, my students were typing essays on computers, and I said something to them about hitting the “return” key.  I received blank stares in response.  I wasn’t sure why what I said was so confusing, until a student asked, “Ms. Diamond, do you mean the enter key?”  I realized that all of the computers indeed called that key “enter,” unlike the Mac I am using now which has both “enter” and “return.”  It makes sense for the key to be called “enter” now, as that is what it is used for as opposed to a carriage return.  I just didn’t realize that my students did not know that the key was once always called a “return.”

Therefore, I sadly include my beloved typewriter as an obsolete office supply, along with the return key, ribbons, and correction tape.  At least computers and phones still use the “QWERTY” key layout, even though that is no longer necessary, as well.  The electric typewriter is still useful in some situations, and we do sell them at UrbanGirl.

2.  Carbon Paper

As a child, I thought carbon paper was really cool.  You could draw or write on one piece of paper, with the carbon sheet in between, and it would make a copy.  It was magical!  It could also be used for more practical purposes such as making copies of signed documents, or copies of typed papers.  Carbon paper is not really necessary anymore, with everything important now either digitized or simply copied on a machine.  However, it still has many uses, and we do still sell carbon paper at UrbanGirl.  The “spirit” of carbon paper still exists in our daily digital lives;  every time someone “CCs” an email, they are using an old term that means “carbon copy.”

Carbon Paper

3. Ditto Machines

I remember these from elementary school.  The purple ink, that distinct smell–if you are old enough, you know exactly what I am talking about.  Ditto machines were what teachers used to make copies before photocopiers.  Although it is fun to reminisce about the smell of fresh dittos, this is one machine am I glad is no longer used in schools.  I much prefer super-fast copy machines.

Ditto Machine

4.  Floppy Disks

The way we store information has changed so rapidly in the past few years.  Microfilm, floppy disks, CDs, zip drives–the technology is constantly changing.  Now, data is backed up in the cloud, rendering most of the physical storage methods obsolete.  I am not a fan of complete digital storage (I like my important photos and documents in physical form, maybe with a digital backup) so I do not miss the floppy disks that were flimsy and didn’t really hold very much data.

Floppy Disks

5.  Microfiche

Microfiche was the internet of my youth.  If I had to write a paper that involved any type of research, I went to the library and read articles on the microfiche reader.  Microfiche are sheets of documents printed at about 1/25 of actual size.  The documents are read through the use of a read which magnifies the image.  The small size and durability of the material made microfiche a great way to store and retrieve data in a library.

While the common use of microfiche may be obsolete, the item itself will likely continue to be used.  It has a distinct advantage over all other forms of modern data storage–nothing is needed to view it other than a magnifying glass.  Imagine uncovering a floppy disk from your past with something important you need on it–you can’t stick that in your iPad!  If the method of retrieving data is no longer around, than the data storage method is useless.  Microfiche will continue to be usable, even as technology changes, making it valuable for long-term preservation.

Microfiche_reader_and_source_code

While I love my iPhone, Kindle, computer, and iPad, I hope no more office supplies become obsolete, and this not just because I work for an office supply company!  I just love the feel of writing with a nice pen on quality paper.  I love Post-it notes and colorful tape.  I love organizing with colorful binders and file folders.  I would hate to see a 100% digital society with no need for tangible photos, papers, or books.