The Quicker Fixer Upper

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



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


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


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 


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. 

Its springtime folks! And that means it’s time for a little Spring Cleaning. Time to fling open the shutters and roll up your sleeves and reclaim your space as a home, and not the den of hibernation you spent the winter in. Perhaps a light cleaning will do the trick or maybe an overhaul is in order. Whatever the case may be I thought I’d share some of my most favorite new uses for old things with y’all, so while doing your spring cleaning you can keep your eyes peeled for some of these otherwise overlooked items.

A Tape Cassette Case

if you haven’t shipped all of these off to the Smithsonian yet, you can repurpose it as a fantastic storage case for your earbuds. A great way to keep them neatly stored away and knot free.

Rubber Bands

I am a super fan of the rubber band, it is my MacGyver go to. But my favorite use for it keeps closets looking spit spot. Slipping a thick rubber band onto each of end of a hanger will keep those strappy little tanks and summer dress from slipping off and becoming unsightly heaps of strappy things.


For those little metal office trash bins that seem to always lose their plastic liner at the bottom, try using magnets as trash bag holder! Just pull the trash liner over the rim of the trash bin and set at least 4 magnets around the edge to keep the liner in place.

So, those are some of my favorite new uses for old things. What are some of your favorite new uses for old things? Be sure to share them with us!

Post authored by Josh Schulteis

There I things I just adore, but I don’t know what in the world they actually are. Tasti D-Lite for example, somehow “70 calories (or less), with fewer than 1.5 grams of fat and 14 grams of carbs per four-ounce serving,” but SOOOOOO good?! So what is in there? What IS it truly? If some flavors are also dairy free, gluten free, kosher and sugar free – what is left?! I don’t know and I don’t care – it is that good.

There are many similar items in my life. I don’t know what in the world they actually are, but they are  SOOOOOO good, I don’t care. The trick is, they are soooooo good at doing things completely other than what they say they do. Here are some of my favorites.

Blister Band-Aids

You may have used these for their proclaimed purpose and found in fact they do not work on blisters and will not stay on your feet even though they are about $5 for 6 “Ampoules.” Band-Aid likes to think of their Advance Healing product like this:

Cushioning gel pad relieves pain while protecting the blister. Waterproof, superior adhesive stays in place for multi-day use. Flexible form conforms to skin for greater fit and comfort. Seals out water, dirt, and germs that can cause infection.

I like to think of them as a one ampoule solution to just about everything, except dealing with a blister. Try this:

– Cut a blister Band-Aid in half and stick in on a huge zit, or on a huge zit you know is coming but has yet to sprout in it’s full glory. Take it off in the morning and be amazed. Spend your money here and ditch the coverup.

– Cut a few blister Band-Aids into strips and stick to the grout in your shower or around your sink that you can never manage to get completely soap scum or mildew free (CLR and Scrubbing Bubbles having already been tried). Leave them on overnight and peel off in the morning. Now try scrubbing with hot water and soap. Beautiful huh?!

– Wrap a blister Band-Aid around a pen or pencil tip, sticky side out. Now run it between the rows on your computer keyboard, in those impossible to clean crevices in your kitchen appliances where crumbs always get stuck, or just about anywhere you can’t seem to rid of crumbs, lint and other daily debris. Now all of that yuck is stuck to the Band Aid and not to your stuff. Blister Band-Aids are perfect because there is more sticky surface than on a regular Band Aid.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

Now this handy little guy is rumored to:

Brighten up your home by helping to renew its surfaces. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser Original will help your walls, baseboards, floors, switch plates, blinds and more look like new again by easily removing scuff marks and dirt.

It in fact does do all of those things, but oh so much more. Did you know Mr. Clean can also:

– safely clean your Apple computer products

Follow the instructions on the packet, wetting only a small corner and wringing out until it is essentially dry. Scrub your less than white computer keyboards, exteriors, palm rests and screens with Mr. Awesome Magic Thank God Someone Thought of This, and voila, your sweaty palms are now something only you know about. Warning: this is the only sponge like thing you should EVER use on a keyboard and be sure to squeeze out every drop of extra water – it will still work even though it feels dry.

– deal with your nasty feet

Using a serated kitchen knife cut off a corner of your Magic Eraser diagonally, leaving a jagged edge at an angle. Wet the jagged surface you have created, add some body scrub and have at those nasty boot heels (sandal heels for those of you not in the frigid Northeast). Make sure to rinse well with soap and water and do not do this on open wounds.


Not just for your grandmother. Efferdent is a denture cleaner – here is what they want you to believe:

Its powerful effervescence cleans even hard to reach places in between teeth and kills odor-causing bacteria. So you’re ready to go out and enjoy life knowing your dentures are sparkling clean. Go on: be your effervescent self with Efferdent® Denture Cleanser.

But did you know Efferdent is also….

– the 100%, hands down, completely and without a doubt BEST jewelry cleaner EVER? For everything that is not: silver, gemstones other than diamonds, anything you don’t want to put in a cup of water – like a watch.

Following the instructions on the box, dissolve one tablet into a glass of water, letting the tablet dissolve completely. Dump your rings, pendants, chains, bracelets in and let soak for 15 minutes. Put a stopper in your sink and remove your jewelry from the Efferdent solution, scrub gently with hot water using a vegetable brush or soft toothbrush and pat dry. Prepare yourself for strangers’ unsolicited comments about your fabulous jewelry.

– a great grease buster

Dissolve one tablet into a bowl of hot water, letting the tablet dissolve completely. Dip your sponge into the mixture and reclaim your stove. Also works on non-stick pans, but do not attempt on chef grade stainless cookware or cast iron.

What are some hidden uses for things lying around your house? Here is a great opportunity to offer great advice without being one of those people who offers unsolicited advice constantly…!

Post authored by Brooke Stone

I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to my writing implements. I like pens and fine tipped markers in black ink only. Lately, my pen of choice is a Uni-Ball Vision Elite 0.8mm Bold in black ink. Though, my Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Marker is always on standby should the job call for it. Manila envelops, labels, and nametags just look better when a Sharpie is used. These markers have one part professional gravitas, one part youthful mischief, and one part pure swag. They are magic and I love them!

Except when they bleed through the paper and stain my desk. Permanent marker stains give me the hardcore whams – I hate them! I just can’t bring myself to quit my Sharpie habit. The fact that my desk looks like it has track marks brings me to tears, but my discerning taste for fine writing implements continues to threaten the future of my desk and other furniture deemed suitable as writing surfaces. What to do?!

In lieu of an impending intervention that played out in my mind like the scene from Beauty and the Beast when the furniture fights back, I came upon my salvation. I discovered a quick solution for getting rid of permanent marker stains on surfaces – TOOTHPASTE! Yup, regular toothpaste (not the gel kind) will clean most surfaces of those unfortunate run-ins with permanent markers.

  1. Apply a generous amount of toothpaste and rub into the stained surface with a paper towel or cloth.
  2. Allow the toothpaste to set for a minute or two on the stain.
  3. With a soapy and damp paper towel or cloth, scrub the toothpaste and stain away – Voilà! The stain is gone.

Sharpie fans need not fret; the senselessly marked innocents of permanent markers are no longer stigmatized by your folly. These presumably permanent spots are out, out, out and it’s all thanks to this Quicker Fixer Upper. All it takes is a little elbow grease and some toothpaste. You’ll be having your desk looking new in no time and smelling minty fresh.

Post authored by Josh Schulteis

Have you ever looked into your closet and made the realization that yours is a black hole simply by definition? Items go in, but never come out. Don’t worry you’re not alone. Here are some ideas to help de-clutter and make sense of the abyss that has become your closet.

Good Lighting

If you are blessed with a light bulb in your closet, try adding an adapter that can create up to 2 more light fixtures for you. These can be found at your local hardware store. If a light fixture is not in the cards, get one that is battery operated. They are easily installed with either adhesive or by screw and come in all shapes in sizes.

Label, Label, Label

Instead of just piling items on top of one another, try bagging or boxing like items together. Label them for quick access and watch your closet transform. For example, pair cardigans with cardigans and V-Necks with V-Necks… you get the gist.

Jewelry & Accessories

Looking for a necklace in a rat’s nest of tangled baubles and beads? A clear hanging accessory sorter is the solution you’re looking for. It’ll allow you to separate and see all of your pieces and your bling should be shown off!


A 6-prong belt hanger will stop the madness and is a quick fix for this storage issue. If you have the drawer space you might try a sock organizer as a new way to bring order to your belt collection, simply roll and sort.

Scarves, Gloves and Hats

Why not use an over the door shoe organizer to store these small, but very important items.

And let’s not forget the finishing touch, a dryer sheet. It’ll leave your closet smelling fresh and clean every time!

Post authored by Maria Skopas

Charles Dickens seems to have extended the seasonal expiration of ghoulish hauntings through to the winter Holidays. And while I love a parable steeped with tradition, caroling and possibly wassail, I do take issue when the haunting moves from the spinet to my kitchen. Nobody messes with my kitchen!

My plastic containers smell after the Holidays and continue to ‘til the spring. The unique mix of leftover seasonal delicacies, takeout, and homemade treats combine into this ghastly odor that you would imagine could only emanate from the walls of the Bates’ Motel. An odiferous mystery torments my roomates and me as we stare at empty plastic containers and ask each other questions like, “Is that peppermint or curry? When did we have cake and pad thai? Who had ham?” Their smell can only be attributed to supernatural possession; it’s the only logical explanation! I mean it’s what I imagine Slimer’s ectoplasmic goop to smell like… otherworldly and yet eerily familiar…

But have no fear; I’ve recently learned that Jacob Marley and his posse of spectral squatters can be easily smudged out from your plastic carry-alls with no smoking sagebrush required. In fact its so common you might have it in your cupboard right now; white distilled vinegar! Yup that’s it, no need for an exorcist. Simply dampen a cloth or thick paper towel with some white distilled vinegar and wipe the plastic containers clean, lid and all. Rinse with some warm water and they should be good as new.  And when they start to get a little funky again… who you gonna call? WHITE VINEGAR!

Post authored by Josh Schulteis 

There’s an inherent design flaw in Starbucks coffee cups. They drip. They drip from that spot where the lid meets the seam of the cup, and it makes me a special kinda crazy! The only drip I want my coffee to do is in the pot. Not on me!

As a person on the move I have to have things that can pick up and go with me. Things that can keep-up with my daily hustle; I expect my coffee to be one of them. But with the aforementioned structural snafu, my coffee certainly does not keep-up! The fact that my Venti-Soy-Misto with 3/4 coffee and 2 raw sugars drips in a way that can only be likened to a kind of medieval water torture has me worked into a high frenzy. But never the quitter I’ve worked diligently to remedy this dilemma.

Ladies and gentleman, may I introduce the “BIB”; a strategically placed napkin folded specifically to keep the best part of waking up from becoming your own private purgatory!

Allow me to explain –

Upon receiving your favorite caffeinated coffee treat remove the lid and proceed to doctor your beverage diligently. While adding the finishing touches to what can now be referred to as your morning coffee remove the sleeve from your cup and set it aside. Take a napkin and fold it a quarter of the way down, creasing it to ensure the fold remains in place. The next part takes a little finesse but if it ensures you a morning commute drip free and potentially a lower dry cleaning bill then all I can say to you is practice makes perfect. With your napkin now folded wrap it against the side of your cup so that it’s flush with the top of the cup and the seam runs up the middle of the folded napkin. Grasp the cup and the aligned folded napkin from above with one hand and work to slip the sleeve on with the other hand. Ensuring the napkin is snug between the cup and the sleeve and gently settle it into place. Voila! The bib is set secure and ready to face the day with you, drip free! And that’s my special kinda crazy folks.

Post authored by Josh Schulteis

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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