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City Dweller Tips

Mary Poppins has got nothing on my bag. She might have a lamp in hers and some kind of black magic at work, but I’m pretty sure given fifteen minutes I could MacGyver my own lamp AND a handsome set of nesting tables all from the contents of my bag.

Meet My Bag

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Yes, I normally tote around a bag that looks as if it was used on the Pony Express, and yes, I could probably be subletting it out as a LES studio with a sleeping alcove, but I’ve just grown accustomed to lugging it around. The use of my bag has probably funded my chiropractor’s kid’s private school education, but I like to think of myself as an urban-free-thinking-all-inclusive-boy-scout-LMP that lives by the motto, “Be Prepared.” Over-prepared? Perhaps. But my sensible Marc Jacobs denim shoulder tote has yet to fail me.

Everything is in this bag and everything has to be. I’m all over this city doing anything at any given minute and have to have the things that help make “doing anything” possible. Though it can’t just be thrown all in there. There has to be some kind of method to the madness. I’ve organized (of course) all like things into zipper pouches. There’s one for electronics, one for office supplies, and one for sundries (love that word). Here take a look at what’s in this monster of a bag and how I keep it in line.

Meet My Electronics

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I’m MAC-centric… I blame good marketing!

My iPhone is my life line.

My charger is my savior

My MacBook is my rock.

My iPod is perfection.

I keep a microfiber cloth in there to keep my babies looking good!

And the all important USB, a must!

Meet My Office Supplies

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Post-its for quick note taking when I’ve got to remember what’s what, who goes where, and who’s who.

 Binder clips… you’d be surprised how handy these little guys are. Keeping papers and files in line, organizing electronic wires, or an emergency tailoring fix.

Rubber bands always a must.

Sharpie Marker… is there any other way to write?

 Uni-Ball Pen, because you always need a writing implement AND its the best pen EVER!

An envelope and stationary… because you’ll look like a hero when someone needs it.

Scissors… always handy. Just don’t forget to leave at home when going to the airport.

Mini-stapler… because my mini obsession is a sickness!

Super glue, a great quick fix for almost anything and its easier to carry around than Duct Tape (and less creepy).

Highlighter, it keeps you looking prepared for meetings and adds dimension to your doodles.

Stamps… because everyone asks for a stamp.

Meet My Sundries 

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A Mending Kit because sh-stuff happens.

Mints because no one likes a stinker.

Deodorant for those times you’re UNSURE.

Stain Stick… much like that mending kit.

Bacitracin and Adhesive Bandages, because an ouchy needs tending to.

 A Lighter is useful to have on hand to help set some mood lighting.

Tissues for the sniffles.

Chap Stick to keep those lips kissably soft and works as a good cuticle cream in a pinch.

A wine key… because when you need it, you’ll be happy you’ve got it.

With all due respect, take that Mary Poppins.

 

Post authored by Josh Schulteis. 

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Being a twenty-something in New York City is not for the faint of heart. In fact, if you are still experiencing philomacrostembioticosistic outbreaks you may want to consult your doctor. But seriously, we live in a land of extremes. You can have the worst day of your life here, and then wake up the next day only realizing everything is completely different.  As a collective, I feel like me and my friends have huge goals. We all moved to NYC to accomplish something big. We also have limited incomes. Here is the kicker, we are in a place filled with opportunity and during an average week you can get offered all sorts of opportunities.

In the past week I have had to manage an opening night, a high profiled gala, and a private party with people I want to impress. Did I mention I have a limited income?

I have some insights for the men who are reading this. If you are lady be sure to bookmark this and use it on your next man friend/date/lover/etc.

So how do you do it? How can someone like me with two suits, a tux, and a few blazers to my name make things work? The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind, but also it is right under your nose. First of all, if you don’t have a tux, go get one from a rental place preferably after prom season. Those establishments will usually sell their used tuxedos after prom season for a surprisingly cheap price. The idea is they need to clean out there old things, and you need to acquire something new to you!  It is a small thing, but something you will be so glad you have when the occasion arises.

For formal, but not black tie events, accessories are where it is at my friends. For me, ties, and blazers are exactly what I need to make a look entirely different. You can get these things from all over and there are probably thrift store finds waiting for you in your neighborhood! If you can pull a great blazer and tie together guys, then your job is mostly done.

In less formal situations, try wearing your clothes in a different way. Layering different pieces can make things you have already worn look entirely new to the same crowd.

Also, do not be afraid of color! Use all sorts of colors and patterns. Just, do it. Use them and then swap them out with other colors and patterns. You will be surprised how different mash ups will surprise even your closest friends! Patterns with other patterns can usually work to your favor, but might need lady approval (so lady’s, be aware).

The most important thing you can do is assess your wardrobe. Know what you have and never be afraid to wear it with different pairings.

The lesson is you too can live on a shoestring budget and look like you are living on a six-figure budget. Afterall you’ve made it to Manhattan, anything is possible!

Post authored by Trevor Worden

 

Sure, money is tight – but that never means that life should not be lived to its fullest.  Here at Praxis we are always out to maximize our fun despite a tighter budget – so we’re on the hunt for Recession Lessons, those great deals and New York City secrets that let you in on awesome stuff for awesomely inexpensive prices.

Brooke recently posted about the Recession Latte – but I was shocked to discover that the Recession Movie Date is alive and well amongst my friends and co-workers in New York City.  Did you know that at many of New York’s cinemas, the first showing is half price?  This weekend I scored the best $6 movie I had ever seen – at 11:50am on Sunday I arrived at the Lincoln Square AMC pumped for the GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, to find that the theater was barely half-full – and my prime real estate in the center section waiting for me and my roommates.  We had grabbed egg sandwiches, coffees and a carton of orange juice en route, stuffed them in our backpacks, and spent a delicious brunch and movie together for less than $8.50 each.  Seriously folks, amazing.   See Rooney Mara steal the show (and maybe this year’s Best Actress Oscar).  Eat your egg, spinach, and fontina sandwich – or your egg ham and cheese – or your sausage egg and pepper sammy with your besties.  And then sieze the afternoon because you’re out so early and you’ve already had a blast.

A great date for $8.50?  Perfection in my book.

What are your NYC steals?  Share ‘em, post ‘em, let us know.  We’re always looking for that weekend rendezvous, great lunch on the go, or incredible deal.  Comment, Post!  Rooney, if you’re reading, I’m single.

Post authored by Jacob Liberman 

Hello, all! My name is Nikka, and I’m a performer, style blogger, and inhabitant of a 300-square-foot studio apartment in New York City (that’s REALLY tiny, trust me!). Having been in such small quarters for 3+ years, and now sharing it with my boyfriend as well, I’ve learned a few things about living stylishly while staying organized!

My Small-Space Philosophy

  • Have patience with your space. It’s going to take awhile before it truly feels at home, and that’s okay. Have forgiveness for yourself, and move as slowly as you need to.
  • Know your limitations/willingness. Really assess your levels of organization, cleanliness, and what you know you’re like at your busiest. That will help in the planning of your spaces. Are you a neat freak? Open storage might be an option, because you’ll take care of the visual clutter. Are you a bit on the messy side? Bins and cabinets will be your best friends.
  • Spatial awareness is key. Think above and beyond the basics of furniture. What else can you do to make sure you’re living in a space you can truly call home? Little things like photos on the wall can help make anything more comfortable while living in flux.

Here are a few ideas about organizing a small space.

Before Buying Furniture

  • LIST while living: it’s important to live in your space a bit to get inspired by it. As you figure out your way of life, think about these questions:
    • What do you want your space to accomplish?
    • What kind of a vibe are you after?
  • Find some online inspiration. Here are my favorite places –
    • Apartment Therapy has an amazing archive of small space ideas.
    •  houzz.com has an incredible archive of thousands of photos
    • decor8 is a fantastic blog run by Holly Becker
    • I love Pinterest.com for inspiration across the board – for home ideas for anything of any size!
  • Delineate your spaces. Find the function in every corner. For example, my apartment, although it is a studio, is divided up into four distinct spaces: kitchen, living room, bedroom, and office. There is, of course, overlap within the spaces, but I try to keep them as separate as possible. I found this to be key while decorating, and it also enabled me to exercise my style in different ways!
  • Measure/tape everything. Before I buy a new piece of furniture, I look at its specifications online and tape them out on the floor with blue painter’s tape. Then, before I lay any money down, I live with it for about a week, practicing moving around my apartment and seeing if it would be an option. I also have an idea of measurements in mind when looking for new furniture, even if I’m not looking at anything specific. I write down measurements and keep them in my wallet. That way, if I see an amazing piece at a flea market, I know if it’ll fit in my apartment before I take it home.
  • Clean out your closets. Yep, now. Do it twice a year, at least. Keep cleaning things out. I’m sorry, it must be done.

Living in a small space has taught me a lot. Here are some actual furnishings and ideas that have  saved my life in my small space.

  • The Elfa Closet System at The Container Store. Worth. Every. Penny. I have it done in every single closet, and I will for the rest of my life.
  • Shelving. Wall-mounted furniture. Furniture with legs. All of these things have small footprints, enable storage, and keep things looking light.
  • Fabric Bins. I can’t live without fabric bins. I store everything in fabric bins – linens, sweaters, spare cables and cords, scarves and hats – anything I want to keep hidden but also need easy access to- fabric bin!
  • Clear plastic shoe boxes. Easy organization, easy storage, plus they make you look really cool, like you have the kind of shoe collection that needs to be in shoe boxes.
  • Lucite storage – a lot of my jewelry is in Lucite drawers from Muji. I can see what’s in there, so I don’t forget about it, but it’s contained so it doesn’t look messy.
  • Mirrors! It’s a tried and true design element for a reason. They make every space feel bigger, bounce light to make it brighter, and you can always find cool mirrors on the cheap at flea markets.
  • Storage Bed. Mine is from Gothic Cabinet Craft, and it has eliminated the need for a dresser, making space much easier to come by.
  • Drawer Organizers – these can be found at IKEAfor about $6, and help keep small things organized in small spaces. I use them both in and out of drawers.

Post authored by Nikka Graff Lanzarone 

Nikka is a dancer, singer, stylist, blogger, and constant redecorator. She would like to be better at cooking, but cannot find the patience. She lives in New York City with her boyfriend and a lot of shoes. You can see find out more about her at www.nikka-graff-lanzarone.com.

Check out Nikka on Tumblr and follow her on Twitter @nikkalanz

You’re staring at your overbooked calendar searching for a time slot to fit in some errands. Aha! You find it. A three hour chunk of time, mid-morning on a Thursday that’ll be perfect. You quickly discern that a grocery run is the priority, as your pantry and refrigerator are rapidly becoming empty.

The decision has been made, but now comes the tricky part – the triple threat to living thrifty in NYC: managing your time, minding your budget and maneuvering the MTA when you’re a pack mule. Minding them is daunting no matter the task, but grocery shopping seems to take the cake as most difficult.

Being new to the city, I learned this fast. I just moved to Astoria, into my new three-bedroom apartment complete with two wonderful roommates and plenty of storage space. It’s a fabulous neighborhood full of families and delicious restaurants, and I love it! But not my grocery store schlep. After some trial runs, some blood, sweat, and tears, I’ve finally got my trip to the grocery store down to a formula. I’ve learned to plan wisely, think ahead, and pack lightly. So these are some of my tips for a joy-producing grocery store trek.

Start with the grocery store that is the closest option for you. Compare prices and products. If it isn’t ideal for you, seek out the nearest alternative that does have what you’re looking for. Please note that by “closest option”, I mean just that – the closest. This does not mean “close”. For example, after I determined that my local grocery store in Astoria was terrible, the Trader Joe’s in Chelsea became my best option and therefore my “closest option”. Being a Midwestern girl, I was familiar with the joys of TJ’s, so naturally I was thrilled!

Plan some meals and make a list. By deciding in advance what you will need for the week, you will ultimately save time and money.

Kill two birds with one stone. Head to the grocery when you are already in the area.

I’ve learned the rewards to strategic bag-packing and the secret is choosing the correct sized bag for your trip. Bring along two large reusable grocery bags (or more, if you can handle carrying them). You will then buy only what you can carry home.

For all other personal items, wear some sort of backpack or tote and pack lightly. Put your metro card and cell phone in your pocket before leaving the store, so you have easy access to them. This avoids the stress of shifting bags around once you leave the store.

Most importantly, make sure you can get the groceries home right away! Allot yourself enough time to make this return trip and be sure to take into account things like rush hour and MTA service changes that might keep your perishables from the fridge.

There, those are my tips. Once you have successfully formulated your own plan, you will save time, energy, and money; you will gain a stocked kitchen, a productive mindset, a happy composure, and a solid workout in the process. Happy shopping!

Post authored by Kristen Evensen

If you live in a metro area chances are your primary modes of daily transportation are the subway, bus and occasional taxi. If you are an overbooked citizen, which many of us are, you may view the time you spend commuting as “available” time. With iPads and iPhones and Blackberrys (oh my!) just because you are on a crowded train no longer means you can’t draft an email, a tweet or a blog post (on the 1 train heading to the upper west side – guilty as charged). With the power of this technology we can use EVERY MINUTE and therefore GET MORE DONE!!! RIGHT?!?!

Wrong.

These travel moments in our day used to be for staring into space and reading novels. These moments used to be breaks for the body and brain from the constant intake and shuffle of information. The morning commute was a time to think about the day ahead and choke down a latte. The evening commute, a wind down from the good, the bad and the ugly the day threw your way. By filling these underground moments with the same ceaseless stream of information and tasks for which you are responsible above ground, you are not allowing yourself a fighting chance to use the time actually meant for emails, meetings and phone calls as productively as you could.

Try this: use your commuting time as a break from the constant chatter of your day

Notice this: you will accomplish more during the hours you have actually designated as “work” time

By recharging your brain and resetting your body and letting the Advil work (necessary from the 25 conference calls you had before the meeting you are going to now) you will arrive back at your to do list ready to go, minus the feeling of exhaustion and burn out you may have now.

So, here is your challenge. For one week DO NOT do work when commuting. I won’t either – seriously. Don’t read reports, Inc. magazine, draft emails, tweets or blogs, make lists, take conference calls in cabs or plot your next empire (except in daydream form). Play an iPhone game, read a novel, wear your sunglasses and covertly stare at other passengers – ANYTHING except work or about work.

Notice how you feel when you climb above ground or out of your cab – are you ready to go? I am.

Post authored by Brooke Stone

SHOES & PURSES! Need I say more? However, we all may be a bit guilty of not taking care of our prized possessions. Shoes and handbags can last a lifetime if cared for properly (seriously, my mother is still stylishly rocking her Frye boots from Woodstock and LV from her 5th wedding anniversary) so here are some  winter maintenance reminders. You will thank me in 20 years.

Take the time to bring any summer shoes that need re-soling, buckle replacing and strap reinforcing to a good cobbler while you are not wearing them. Any handbags that have fraying fabrics, worn bottom corners or stretched to snapping straps can be tended to by a cobbler as well. For fabric bags, clean with a solution of mild baby shampoo and hot water. Brush the solution onto your bag and use a nail brush to scrub any stubborn spots. This way everything will be fresh when the sun comes out. Our favorite cobbler in the city is Andrade General Shoe Repair at 2750 Broadway, between 104th  and 105th streets.

Hopefully you will have done this for your winter shoes and bags last April, but if not show yourself immediately to the cobbler with your bag of boots and hobos. Ask for rubber soles on all of your winter shoes, and a thinner rubber for soles and heels of all heeled shoes. This will prevent slipping and sliding (and falling) all over the wet floor as you clack into your favorite winter restaurant.

At home make sure your purses and upper shoes are ready for the weather. For leather, a coat of Lexol Leather protector will shoes and handbags look like new!  For suede, brush against the grain with a stiff brush and apply Melotonian “Suede Renew” (available at most shoe repair stores) for a quick pick me up! This will restore the color and gloss to sometimes dull/worn suede.  Don’t forget to follow up with weatherproofing as salt can permanently stain leather and suede.

As the season gets ugly, take a minute when you come in from the cold, snow, mud, sleet… to wipe the muck off of your shoes and bag (we have all been sprayed by a rogue taxi) with a damp paper towel. Allowing the much to dry on your shoes and bags will dry out the leather and suede and eventually lead to cracking.

And if you are reading this and you live in Florida… how DO you wear sandals all year and not get tired of them?!

Post authored by Maria Skopas.

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