Are generic Sonicare brushes as good as brand name?

January 15, 2013

No. I recently tried “Up & Up,” Target’s private label replacement heads for Sonicare series E toothbrushes. They don’t vibrate anywhere near as much as the Sonicare branded heads,  your teeth don’t get as clean, and they suck.


The Sonicare brush is on the left.  The generic from Target is on the right.  They are not made the same way.

The Sonicare brush is on the left. The generic (Up & Up) from Target is on the right. They are not made the same way.

What should I do with all of these outdated subway maps?

September 22, 2012

First of all, you are a hoarder and you need help if you have many years worth of outdated subway maps in your apartment.  Get some therapy before it’s too late and some reality television crew needs to excavate fifty-odd years of life-sediment to recover your corpse for a tearful holiday episode.  That being said, I made paper with all of the many years worth of outdated subway maps I had been hoarding saving.

You will need:

  • old subway maps or any paper you want to recycle into new paper
  • a bucket
  • water
  • a blender
  • a small tub (see pictures below)
  • screen material (most home improvement stores have it; get aluminum because stiffness helps – see step 3)
  • sheet metal cutters to cut the screen material (or heavy duty scissors you really don’t care about)
  • old sheet or pillowcase you don’t mind cutting up (can use regular (non-HeavyDuty) HandiWipes if you want, but the texture of the resulting paper won’t be as fine as it would with a nice sheet/pillowcase)
  • 2 finely textured, lint-free dishcloths (no terrycloth! – see step 3)
  • a place for stuff to dry (see below)
  • time

Step 1 – Soak the paper – let it sit for at least a day (I let mine sit for 3 days).

Step 1 of papermaking

Tear up all your paper and put it in the bucket. Put in enough water to cover the paper pieces by at least an inch.

Step 2 – Make paper pulp

Step 2 papermaking

Put soaked paper into blender, making sure there is enough water to cover by at least an inch. Don’t fill your blender more than 3/4 of the way full.

Step 2b papermaking

Blend until homogenous. Chances are your pulp will be either greyish or brownish.

Step 3 – Form and press the pulp

Step 3a papermaking

Pour pulp into a small tub that is larger than the size of the screen material you cut. P.S. you should cut the screen material into the size of the paper you want to make.

Step 3b papermaking

Place screen in pulp, shaking it a bit, so that pulp covers over the screen completely.

Step 3c papermaking

Gently and evenly, lift the screen out of the water by supporting it from the bottom, so as not to disturb the pulp on top of the screen.

I was supposed to tell you to cut your old sheets/pillowcases to be a bit larger than your screen size, so that you have at least 2″ of cloth beyond the boundaries of the screen on each dimension.  Now you know!

Step 3d papermaking

Gently lay your sheet/pillowcase/HandiWipe cloth over the pulp, so that it is flat and even and doesn’t disturb the pulp.

Step 3e papermaking

Kind of like this.

Step 3f papermaking

Spread out your finely-textured, lint-free dishcloth on a flat surface and get ready to flip your pulp on it, sheet-down. You will need the grace of a gazelle, a cougar’s confidence and the speed of a cheetah. Perhaps you should meditate. I should have suggested this before you had your hands full of formed, wet paper pulp. My bad.

Step 3g papermaking

Kind of like this.

Step 4 – Blot the pulp

Step 4 papermaking

Use the finely-textured, lint free dishcloth to blot the excess water from the pulp by pressing it into the screen, which is still on top of the pulp after you flipped it in the last step.

Step 5 – Peel away the screen

Step 5a papermaking

After blotting, gently run your finger outward along the edges of the screen to pull any wrapped-around pulp off the screen and toward the edges

Step 5b papermaking

Like this.

Step 5c papermaking

Gently lift a corner of the screen to peel it away from the paper. If you blotted enough of the water away in step 4, the paper pulp should be flattened and stuck to the sheet/pillowcase/HandiWipe. If some of the pulp sticks to the edge (like you see in this picture), break it off and flatten it into the sheet below.

Step 5c papermaking

After you fully remove the screen, you can flatten out the edges and make sure your sheet/pillowcase/HandiWipe is flat and not rippled.

Step 6 – Dry and peel – after a few hours, your paper should be dry.  Once it is dry, gently peel it from your sheet/pillowcase/HandiWipe and make sure it dries out completely before stacking and/or storing it.  If you want it flatter, you can iron it with a medium hot iron (no steam).  If you are going to iron it, I would do it through a handkerchief, so as not to get pulp on your iron.

Now go make some homemade holiday cards and/or brunch invitations and send me one!  You’re welcome!

What should I do about my smelly house?

May 18, 2012

Opening windows for at least 30 minutes a day, every day, is always a good idea.  In terms of air purifiers, I’ve tried a five and given away three (if you want to buy my remaining ionic breeze, drop me a note!), and the one I kept was the Sun Pure (thanks for giving it to me, Marcy!).  Zeolite on its own has done absolutely nothing for me (I keep having high hopes for it).  However, I just recently added potpourri to my get-rid-of-cooking-and-renovation-smells toolbox.  I get my custom-scented potpourri at the wonderful Good Home Store on 24th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. (UPDATE: as of September 2012, the store is no longer there!  I guess you can order from the website?)

Good Home Store

Good Home Store

The Good Home Store has much more than potpourri, and pretty much everything they have can be customized to your scent preferences.  I’m a fan.

Best hairdryer?

May 7, 2012

Apparently, from the wonderful reviews it got on the Bed, Bath and Beyond website, the best blow drier is the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Portofino Dryer.  At $139.99, it better be!  BB&B regularly sends out 20% off coupons. I would wait for one of those before you shell out the clams for this baby.

Where did you get your appliances?

February 3, 2012

I purchased my appliances from Andrew Roehrig at Gringer and Sons in Commack, NY (on Long Island).  His phone number is 631-813-2400.

Andrew at Gringer

Andrew at Gringer, with my new steam oven.

I was very happy with the service I got from Andrew, and the prices were very reasonable.  I went out to Gringer on Long Island to see what was in stock and to make my final purchase (refrigerator, oven, steam oven, dishwasher, washer and dryer).  I was pleased with the selection and it was one of the few areas of my life where everything went smoothly.  I highly recommend him, and I’m saying that because he did a good job.  I received no discounts or consideration of any kind based on this blog post or referrals.  I just know that some of my readers may need appliances someday, and I’d like them to have a good, efficient experience.  You’re welcome!

What timer do you have?

January 24, 2012

I have two timers and I LOVE both of them for different reasons.

The Oxo Timer is awesome!

The Oxo Timer – if it was a dude, it would kick your ass and steal your beer!

I just recently picked up the Oxo timer, and love it for these three reasons:

  1. You can time three different things at once!  Plus, it has a clock!
  2. It tells you how long each of the individual timers has been going off before you stop it from beeping!
  3. It can be used as a stop watch (i.e., it can also count forward).

For timing how long a kid has to do something, I use the Time Timer because it shows them exactly how much time they have left in a way that is meaningful to them.

Are you paperless yet?

December 1, 2011

Fujitsu ScanSnap

I put my hand in the picture of the Fujitsu Scansnap to show the size of the footprint. The top of it flips down for smaller storage.

No.  I’m totally late to the game.  However, it’s my goal to be (mostly) paperless in 2012, and I’ve started early.  I spent the last two days scanning in documents with my new Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M (M is for Mac), and let me tell you, I LOVE THIS THING!  Seriously.  It is amazing.  It’s a document scanner, so it’s not the kind of thing you would use for photos, but oh man, for taxes, receipts you have to keep, notes from grad school, all the crap that makes up the mountain on (and around) your desk, it’s amazing.  I would not be able to achieve my paperless dreams without this thing.  The task is just too daunting.  When the ScanSnap is closed up, the footprint on your desk is slightly less than 6″ x 12″.  And it’s fast — blazing fast — and accurate.  Really.  OMG!  I have to get back to scanning, but for realz, the Fujitsu ScanSnap is da bomb.

UPDATE 7/4/14:  I’m catching up on paperwork today (nice holiday, right?) and I’m using my ScanSnap, and I can tell you – almost 3 years later – I LOVE this thing.  It’s still going strong, I use it all the time, and it’s seriously the best money I ever spent.  I’m still not ENTIRELY paperless yet, but darn, I am CLOSE.

Alert: Down Comforter Sale!

October 4, 2011

This beautifully cooked chicken has absolutely nothing to do with this post.

Loyal readers, do you remember me going on and on about how much I loved my Down Factory comforters?  Well, October is sale month at Down Factory (I just got an email about it), so if you’ve been dying to get a down comforter, this is your excuse.  You’re welcome!



Organic housewares and linens?

July 7, 2011

I love Lifekind for bedding, towels, mattresses, pillows, linens, furniture, baby stuff, laundry stuff, bath stuff, etc.  I have ordered from them for years (at least 7) and I wrote a post a year ago extolling the virtues of their mattresses and pillows, but I thought it was worth repeating, because 1.) I love them so much, and 2.) they have a discount code “SUMMER11” for 10% off when you order online.  I don’t know how long that code will last, but it worked for me (I just ordered some pillowcases).

Many things about Lifekind impress me.

  • Their customer service is excellent.  They have intelligent and helpful people manning the phone.
  • When you tell them to keep you off the mailing list, they do it (unlike most other catalog companies).
  • Their stuff is VERY well made (yes, it’s definitely not cheap, but worth every penny, imho).
  • They’ll send samples of materials for allergy testing (not that I have had to use this, but it’s an awesome idea!)
  • A lot of their stuff is American made (my recent pillowcases are!) and it’s a good idea to support American manufacturing, especially high-quality American manufacturing, such as what Lifekind sources.
  • They make their own mattresses, and they make them to order.  If you need anything customized, it’s no problem.  You aren’t getting something that’s been sitting around in a warehouse.
Lastly, if you are interested, one particular thing that is on sale in their summer sale is the Organic Cotton Hooded Youth Robe in size 4/5 discounted from $69 to $34.50 (plus that 10% discount, which I assume would work on it).  I bought my son that robe years ago and it’s very well made.  Recently, I passed it along to a friend with a younger child, and I think it looked like it was still new.

What should I do with all the crap I want to get rid of?

May 26, 2011

Spring cleaning!  What a joyful time to be reminded of what a lazy hoarder you’ve been!  Maybe that’s just me.  I don’t know.

If you’re facing roomfuls of crap that you need to get rid of, here are some ideas:

  • Electronic waste: The Lower East Side Ecology Center holds electronic recycling events all around NYC (google Electronic waste to find out about events outside of the city), and this spring, you can even get ZipCar driving credit (see the bottom of the electronic recycling events page).
  • Clothes: Drop them off at Uniqlo (546 Broadway between Spring and Prince, 917-237-8811) and drop off clothing to be donated.  They have bright yellow boxes for Japan relief donations. (I would have mentioned clothing donations for midwest tornado and storm victims, but I read reports that what they are running out of space to store all the clothes they received – donate money!)
  • Women’s interview-appropriate apparel – Dress for Success is a very well-respected charity that helps women.
  • Clothing and toiletries – Occasionally, Swishpride, a gay-straight alliance that helps the LGBT community has collection events to gather clothes and toiletries.  I met some representatives from the group when they were collecting for Sylvia’s Place (an emergency shelter for LGBT youth, and worthy charity in it’s own right) one spring Saturday this year and was impressed by their work and energy.  Sign up for their email list to find out more.
  • Clothing and textiles – usable and unusable – see GrowNYC.  They have textile collection at a variety of farmers markets around the NYC area.
  • Everything else – Join a Yahoo Freecycle group (here is the NYC Freecycle Group) and post what you have to offer on a local board (see how others do it to get the hang of it) and before you know it, someone will offer to come pick it up.  Make the arrangements with the person via email, and have your stuff taken away!  I’ve gotten rid of a wide variety of things through Freecycle, and I highly recommend it.

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