Helping You Help Yourself #15

feature image via shutterstock

Of all the rooms in your house that are hard to keep clean (but also really regrettable to have dirty), the bathroom is really up there on the list. Here’s some suggestions for keeping it clean in only five minutes a day.

Remember when you were seeing those pressed-flower iPhone cases everywhere? Here’s how to make your own, just in time to keep some summer bounty around for winter. (OR how great would this look with tiny fall leaves? So great.)


I’ve wanted to do this project for YEARS and haven’t, so if one of you wants to use fabric as a temporary and renter-friendly wall covering or decoration and then come here and tell me about it, I would really get a lot of vicarious satisfaction out of it. Just saying. I feel like this could also be really cute on desks or small tables!

Do you have an enormous pile of mail by your front door that you occasionally remember you should look through to make sure there aren’t bills or any live animals in it? Me too. Here are some suggestions for how we can get our shit together.

10 ways to make small spaces feel bigger.


Are you cooking for other humans this Thanksgiving? Are you nervous about it? Here’s the simplest, easiest way to cook a turkey.

I can’t really help you with pumpkin spice lattes because I don’t think I’ve ever had one, but here’s how to make Western coffeeshop-style chai syrup at home if you’ve been dropping five bucks a day on chai lattes. Combine with black tea and steamed milk for a classic (Western) chai; try heating up with drip coffee and milk for a cheater chai latte.

HEY did you know that even though Amtrak sort of says that you can’t get a refund on train tickets you don’t end up using unless you paid for the “flexible” ones and the travel insurance, you can usually call their customer service number and tell them you didn’t use the ticket and often they’ll give you the full amount of the ticket in an e-voucher that you can apply to another Amtrak trip later. Hooray!

If you live in the part of the world where it’s about to get real cold, here’s what to do with your potted plants.

You’re running out of time to make matching Cara Delevigne and Annie Clark pumpkins with your boo. Here are some pumpkin carving tips to help.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. I went with the slightly less impressive “staple gun fabric to wall” method in my last place, which worked out just fine. After a couple of years gravity started to make it pull a little around the staples, but anyone getting close enough to see what gravity was doing to my staples was probably already familiar with what gravity was doing to me and not inclined to judge (out loud).

  2. In fact, I did stumble upon that Amtrack fact once before in my life! Well, at least something close to it. I once lost my return Amtrack ticket from DC to NYC, and when I called Amtrak they originally whoever picked up the call originally told me that they couldn’t help me and I would have to buy an ENTIRELY NEW ticket if I wanted to get home. I refused to believe it and asked to be transferred to the customer service manager- he gave me a voucher for the cost of the ticket. So even though I technically “bought” a new ticket, I didn’t have to use any additionally money to do it.

    Ummm… that story was longer than I intended. Sorry you guys! But, YAY AMTRAK!

    (Also- I’m making homemade Chai Syrup THIS WEEK! That’s a great find! Thanks Rachel!)

  3. Amtrak is actually shockingly flexible at any stage in the travel process. When I moved from NYC to Virginia I changed my plans plus or minus a million times and each time just changed my train ticket on their website – no human phone contact needed. I think it’s the policy that their cheapest tickets can only get Amtrak vouchers but all other tickets can be legit refunded if you let them know before traveling.

  4. I’m stressed out just from reading the bathroom tips. Do all of that in a minute? It takes me two just to find a clean cloth.

  5. I love this column.

    Thanks for reminding me to bring my plants in! It’s been unseasonably warm and I want to transplant these tiny purple flowers into something cat-proof. Maybe I need a dome or something. She is always chewing on everything.

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