Put a Label On It
It happened over Thanksgiving weekend: Me and my best Le Creuset Dutch oven parted company forever at a neighborhood potluck. It's nobody's fault but mine; I didn't label the dish and forgot to even look for it until the next morning. Too late; long gone.
I usually avoid problems like this by labeling things I'm likely to lend or to lose. So, in the spirit of holiday parties yet to come, I thought I'd remind all of us about some quick, easy, and effective labeling strategies that I gleaned from experience (and saving old issues of Real Simple magazine).
I'll start with the fastest approach and then give you some links to web sites for other artful solutions. Take a minute to glance at the list to see if you can find a new way to make a name for yourself. Oh!--and by the way, I don't want you to repeat my potluck mistake, so place a sticky note on your car's rear-view mirror reminding yourself not to forget the empty dish.
Making Your Mark
Beginning with what you'll need for the fast, permanent jobs, I've also listed some other durable and classic ways to identify your belongings.
Sharpie Fine-Point Permanent Markers: (12-pen set in assorted colors for about $10.50)
Use them on the bottom of ceramic, glass, metal, or plastic serving dishes (it won't wash or cook off); CDs--the matte top surface; not the shiny bottom--and their jewel boxes; the wooden handles on small tools and hardware.
For serving dishes, buy inexpensive, plastic dishes and serving bowls at the Dollar Store or Goodwill
Sanford King Size Permanent Markers: (assorted colors; around $2 each)
Use them on garbage cans and their lids (instead of your name, put your street's name and house number), garden tools, coolers, and sporting gear.
Rub-a-Dub Laundry Pens: (around $1 each)
Use them on clothes, towels, and camping gear.
Pen-Touch Calligraphy or Metallic-Ink Gel Pen: (around $3.50 each)
Every time you get a new cookbook, mystery, or any other book you're likely to lend, use them to write your name on the inside cover.
Label Maker, like Brother's PT-1180 (around $40)
I love this label maker. Its laminated tape adheres to most surfaces and is heat and water-resistant. The tape comes with a clear or white background and black lettering, so it works equally well for organizing linen, china, and workshop shelves. (While I haven't used it on serving dishes, Real Simple's staff reports that it survives 400-degree heat and the dishwasher.)
Personal Identification Labels
Give honest people a chance to return your stuff. Maverick Label's are made for sports gear, golf clubs, cameras, electronics, cell phones, PDAs, sunglasses and thin tools. Order on line, and see how they use these labels. With one order, you get an assortment that will work on all of the above. (http://www.mavericklabel.com/id-my-stuff.html) $ 9.95 for 22 personal ID labels in 4 different label sizes)
Then there's always:
Personalized Embosser: Williams-Sonoma (www.williams-sonoma.com; starting at $40)
Use on books, gift tags, recipe cards, or any paper object. There are several plates/designs from which to choose, including your address, "The Library of," "The Kitchen of," and monograms.
Home-Use Electric Engraver: Check out Home Depot for the Dremel's #290 electric engraver (beginning at $20). It works on many surfaces (Joe still owns the hammer his dad engraved with Joe's initials for his sixth birthday).
I hope these labeling ideas help you from losing your mind and other objects you hold near-and-dear.