Coffee Break: Kelsey Top Zip Large Nylon Tote

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m always a fan of a nylon tote that zips, because it’s lightweight, durable, and easy to keep clean. This one from MICHAEL Michael Kors is a bestseller over at Bloomingdale’s and looks like a great basic tote. It’s not terribly exciting, but sometimes that’s not what you’re looking for — you just want something large and functional to carry all your stuff to work. This bag is 18″ x 6.25″ x 12.25″ and has great reviews. It’s also at Amazon in black, navy, and tan, and at Macy’s in several color options. Kelsey Top Zip Large Nylon Tote

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Comments

  1. Anonattorney :

    Curious: what is your process for voting in local elections, especially on ballot measures or initiatives (if your state does that)? In other words, do you just read the voter pamphlet, or do you do outside research? Do you rely on newspaper editorials, etc.?

    Or, maybe, do you just have a basic set of principles that you follow in most situations: e.g., generally against bond proposals, so you always vote No.

    I’m trying to improve my civic engagement and make sure I’m an informed voter, so I’m curious what other people do. Thanks!

    • We always have a ton of amendments to the state constitution and other initiatives. I look at what the newspaper recommends, but I also don’t often agree with them. I have a few friends on Fb who are very politically active who will post articles where each one is explained in laymen’s terms and give a recommendation (which I don’t always take). I try to seek those out and read up on what these things actually mean, especially when the language is so dense or jargony. Then I just go in to vote and hope I remember!

      • Anonymous :

        Is it LA that has the super-long state constitution or is that TX?

      • I ask Dad what to vote on and who to support as a candidate, tho he is on LI, and I am in NYC, he knows who the winner’s are and who the loosers are, and I just take those note’s in with me when I vote. I do NOT like the new voting booth’s b/c people look at me when I am filling out the ballot form, and I am always worried they are looking at my tuchus, b/c Dad says they do b/c it is to big. FOOEY on him for giving me grief b/c of my tuchus. I wish I could work less hours so I could spend more time at the NYSC, but that is really impossible given my 7900 hour requirement this year. DOUBEL FOOEY! I hope to go with Myrna to Disneyworld for along weekend this month or next, but that is up to the Manageing partner and Frank, depending on my billeing’s. TRIPEL FOOEY!

    • NY sends out a voter guide outlining the arguments/pros and cons of various initiatives. I usually just follow that and only do additional research if I’m unclear on something or it’s something controversial like the recent constitutional convention vote we had here. Maybe your state has something similar?

    • League of Women Voters and local newspapers are my go-tos for general issues, and for judicial elections the Houston Association of Women Attorneys does very in-depth interviews and comes out with recommendations I usually go with.

    • Sloan Sabbith :

      I review our local news sources- both our big name paper and our smaller alternative papers. I also read the Voter’s Pamphlet and if I really can’t decide and have no idea the impact of a vote (for example, a recent election had a bunch of commissioner spots for a local port on the ballot) I go with the person I liked more reading the different bios. If I really can’t decide and it’s betweej a man and a woman, I vote for the woman.

      In terms of levys, bonds, etc., I tend to vote yes, especially if the proposal helps support any kind of education or social services. For transportation and infrastructure, it might not be an immediate yes but I go back to what local news sources say.

      I also liked going to events about the different candidates and proposals this past election.

  2. Clementine :

    How is it only Tuesday? And how is it still winter?

    I feel like I need something to look forward to as work is just really difficult. Any tips for a trip with small children to DC? We were thinking AirBNB for a full apartment – any tips for a good neighborhood? Thinking April-ish.

    • Anonymous :

      I’ve always just gotten a suite with a kitchenette when traveling with kids (if no husband, I tend to just cram into one room b/c I’m so zonked at the end of the day that I match their bedtime and don’t need a room just to be an up-late grownup). Hotels can be much easier to use with transit and have elevators. “Walk to metro” can be vague, as can “walkable to amenities” like shops/restaurants.

      Going to Farragut West / Dupont area with gradeschoolers later this spring. If your kids are younger, and need a park, Holiday Inn Key Bridge is on the bike path and if you walk up it, there is a park less than a mile away. And the Key Bridge is pretty and there are shops/restaurants nearby.

      IMO babyproofing a hotel is easier than a house (I have inlaws in DC and would stay with them except my kids probably wouldn’t survive all of their houses, so downtown hotels have been much easier for us).

      • Maps exist to look up Airbnbs, and hotels for that matter, before booking. You don’t have to rely on descriptions.

        • Anonymous :

          “child friendly” is not self-explanatory in a city AirBNB. Much more as-advertised with beach houses where families usually go than in city spaces, IMO.

          Hotels like double-trees are good b/c no one has meds / liquor / tip-able bookcases / stairs / too much glassware / other non-kid-friendly or kid-proof issues

          My favorite was bedroom config that made baby-gating impossible or hosts who didn’t want needed baby gates to mar their paint (a fair point, to be sure, but then you are stuck).

          • Anonymous :

            TONS of hotels have tip-able bookshelves or dressers. There’s nothing you can really do about them, but please know that many of them can be tipped and watch your kiddos carefully when they’re not secured in something like a pack n play.

    • I’ve often stayed at One Washington Circle Hotel, which is across from the GW Hospital. They have suites with kitchenettes and livingrooms because people who have family in the hospital often stay there. There is also a Trader Joe’s within walking distance, so you can stock the fridge. I always like to have breakfast in my room so that’s helpful! It’s also walking distance (a bit of a hike) to the Lincoln Memorial and it’s only half a block from a Metro stop and walking distance to Georgetown.

      https://www.thecirclehotel.com/

      • Sloan Sabbith :

        We stayed at an AirBNB literally a block away from that TJs and it was great. Full kitchen, one downstairs bedroom, one upstairs bedroom (which could be large enough for a pack and play), one master bath, one smaller bath. Corner apartment, walking distance to Georgetown, Metro stop, food, and a bunch of other stuff. There are steep stairs, so it may not be good for tiny kids.

    • Anonymous :

      Why DC? If you want to really get away from winter, I’d go somewhere warmer and I think DC is a fantastic place for elementary school age and older kids because of all the museums and historical monuments. A trip there seems like kind of a waste with really little kids. Just my two cents.

    • If you don’t have to be right downtown, look into Crystal City – there are restaurants and hotels there and it can be a more affordable way to get metro access.

      April = cherry blossom season = higher lodging prices and insane crowds (~1.5 million people visit every year during those two weeks).

      There are very few food options near the Mall, so unless you want a hot dog from a cart, you’ll need to bring snacks with you.

      The zoo is really great, and while it’s technically walking distance from the metro, it’s a haul up a big hill.

      A couple general tips for DC:

      – Avoid the metro during rush hour if you can – it’s packed and people are in a hurry.

      – People are serious about the “stand right, walk left” on the escalators – if you aren’t going to climb the stairs, scoot over to the right.

      – If you need them, cabs are safe and plentiful and easier to get than an uber 95% of the time. The best cabbies are the ones driving newer Toyotas (Toyota’s warranty and maintenance deals make them very attractive to local cabbies). Avoid the old Ford Crown Vic cabs – they’re loaner cabs given out to part-time drivers and are almost always in awful condition.

      • Anonymous :

        “The zoo is really great, and while it’s technically walking distance from the metro, it’s a haul up a big hill.” The way to avoid this is to go one more stop! The zoo is halfway between Cleveland Park and Woodley Park metro stations. Get off at Cleveland Park on the way there, return via Woodley Park. The zoo itself is also crazy hilly, though. But it’s FREE!

    • Conde Nast Traveler did a fab article on how to do DC with kids in the past few years. Google and it’ll come up. It had tons of suggestions, such as – go here for an afternoon meltdown stop. Really. It was genius.

    • wildkitten :

      I’d stay by the zoo.

  3. J. Crew is offering fewer wool suiting options, and more “365 crepe” options. Has anyone tried on the crepe suiting? Do you like it?

    • I used to exclusively wear their wool crepe, back in the day. I can’t comment on whatever this new iteration is, but I loved their old crepe. It wore like iron, didn’t wrinkle as much and generally looked really posh. This was ~15 years ago.

    • The new J. Crew crepe suiting is not wool, but 100% polyester. Haven’t tried it, but this shift makes me grumpy.

  4. Anon for this :

    I will be speaking to a nurse at my RE’s office about this tomorrow but wanted to know in the meantime, has anyone ever had a mild yeast infection go away on its own? I was on 10 days of big antibiotics and despite taking lots of probiotics, I have some irritation in that dept. I have an IUI coming up and I will need progesterone up the vag for awhile after so I don’t want to try monistat at the same time. I’ve read conflicting reports about the safety of Diflucan in the two week window and want to avoid that too. That leaves me with probiotics and praying. Any chance this will get better instead of worse? I’ve been lucky to only have a couple in my life so not a lot of experience in this dept.

    • Anonymous :

      Yeah there’s a good chance it’ll go away on its own. Last summer, I ended up on 2 10-day cycles of an antibiotic almost back to back. By the end of it I felt like something might be going on in that department. It went away within a day or two after I stopped taking the antibiotic.

    • There are some single-dose treatments for yeast infections now. That might be an option for treating it but also having time between treating it and the progesterone.

    • Anonymous :

      Yes, more than once. My doctor even suggested doing nothing once. Apparently it is normal to have some yeast, and your body can often keep it under control or get it back under control.

    • Not sure if it’s just an old wives tale, but I’ve heard limiting sugar and carbs you’re consuming can help. Monthly hormonal fluctuation can also make a difference.

      • Anonymous :

        A former doc told me to eat as much yogurt as I could during an antibiotic course (this was before the probiotic boom) so your strategy has at least this anecdote behind it.

    • try garlic (as a suppository). it works for me. I’ve heard you can use yogurt too but have never tried it.

    • I swear by ph rephreash gel. Google it!

  5. Any tips and tricks on clearing nasal/sinus congestion? I’m recovering from a cold that had me down all weekend, and I’m up to the phase where I mostly feel better but I’m intermittently super congested. I get intolerable side effects from decongestants (shaky/can’t sleep) and expectorants (sluggish/high). I’m using a neti pot at night, but can’t do it at work – laughing while I imagine someone walking in on me in the shared restroom with a stream of water running out my nose – so what else is there?

    • Anonymous :

      Hydrating and misery.

    • Anonymous :

      Saline spray. All the benefits of a neti pot, none of the risk of brain eating amoeba.

    • Sloan Sabbith :

      Saline spray- quick and wayyyyy easier than a sinus wash. Also, inflammation goes down with ibuprofen, pain with Tylenol.

      Sinus rinses morning and night. Double salt if you can stand it. But be sure to use distilled water!

    • You need to be a little careful about how you use it, because there can be side effects if used improperly, but Afrin or similar nasal sprays work wonders when all you want is to be able to breathe clearly and get some sleep. I am prone to sinus issues and have similar reactions to decongestants, and nasal sprays can be a real life saver.

      • +1 for careful and limited use of Afrin. That stuff is a miracle.

      • The one time I used Afrin, I had such a bad rebound effect that I developed a nasty sinus infection. I lived for that 10 minutes of clear breathing, though. Amazing.

    • Anon in NYC :

      While at work, getting up and moving – walk the halls, etc. – helps some. Maybe walk up and down a few flights of stairs just to get the blood moving. I find the most relief from going outside in the cold air, so maybe do a coffee run or a walk around the block.

    • Gail the Goldfish :

      Hot and sour soup, or something else spicy:-)

    • Ask your pharmcist for a syrup or tablets which will help dilute mucus (different brands available, but I am not familiar with US offer), which will help with getting the remaining mucus out of your system and also help with the feeling of blocked nose. I also use pseudoephedrine tablets (rather than sprays) in the morning and the effect lasts for several hours. Saline sprays may help with the clearing, but my personal experience is mixed.
      If you do not tolerate conventional spray decongestants or tablets, try antihistamine/antiallergy nasal sprays – most of them will have decongestant effect as well.
      Also – drink lots of water to dilute the mucus, if you have access to, use air humidifier.

    • Flonase or another nasal corticosteroid so the medicine is just in your nose. Humidifier, hot showers, and tons of water and tea. Something spicy- Pho+ spicy sauce does it for me.

    • Take an insanely hot shower twice a day. You don’t even need to be in the water–just hang out in the bathroom. This will definitely help. Also, drink tons of water. Use a humidifier. You gotta loosen all that stuff up!

    • Anonymous :

      Get your massage therapist to clear out your sinuses – it’s amazing!

    • You all are great! I’ll definitely use these suggestions. Thanks.

  6. Restaurant recommendations in Alexandria, VA?

    Thanks for the hotel/bar recs last week. Staying at Morrison House but don’t want to eat in the same hotel we’re staying in. Planning to reserve at PX as well. Thanks, Hive!

    • anon a mouse :

      Restaurant Eve is the best in town with prices to match.

      The Majestic or Hen Quarter for Southern-inspired food (Majestic is fancier). Vermillion is also good for a nice dinner.

      Hank’s Oyster Bar if you like a good raw bar.

      Fontaine for crepes the next morning.

    • Alexandria :

      Yay, my neighborhood! Hen Quarter for Brunch, Hank’s Pasta Bar for dinner, Haute Dogs for lunch/casual dinner and Pop’s for ice cream. I like the drinks (but not food) at Blackwall Hitch and since it’s right on the waterfront it has good views and a really nice interior, too. If you have time, there are nighttime walking ghost tours available (not too scary if you have older kids/are a scaredy cat yourself!)

  7. More travel questions –

    I got a thing in the mail from Westin offering $299 for 4 nights at a property in Cancun. I’m assuming this includes a timeshare pitch, although the materials do not state this as a requirement.

    I can’t find much info online but have gotten the impression that this is an older, run down property that Westin is renovating this year.

    I don’t see any downside to taking them up on this – we could get a long weekend away for about $1500 including airfare (not including meals or other excursions). We have to book by next week and travel within 1 year. I plan to call Westin with some additional questions (do we have to sit through a presentation? when will renovations be complete? why are you offering this?).

    Would you do it?

    • Anonymous :

      Does the offer specify that it’s at The Westin Cancun or just “a Starwood property” in the area? If it’s the former I think it would be fine. My parents stayed there a few years ago and loved it. It may not be uber luxury but I wouldn’t say it’s an older, rundown property. It looked really nice from their photos. Looks like the renovations are scheduled to end by July so if you can travel any time within the next year I think it would be easy to avoid them.

    • we got this too! I wistfully looked at the mailing, but I am pregnant so we cannot go. I think that hotels in Mexico are struggling due to Zika/other safety concerns that have made some people nervous about traveling there so they are doing what they can to drum up business. I think it is a promotion for starwoods card holders.

      • +1

        I will say, I am a member of the Starwood/Vistana vacation network and we enjoy it (it is a timeshare for sure). But we are very heavy SPG people in general and the locations work for us, which might not work for you. (google Vistana Destinations) I find the resorts to be lovely and I enjoy vacationing in condos with kitchens and laundry units.

        you’ll have to sit through an hour presentation. coffee/tea/pastries. Plan on an early morning one to get it out of the way and move on with your day. Give them a hard no and get through it if you’re not interested but want the vacation : )

        • That’s the weird part – I’m a big Marriott person but not so much SPG. And I don’t have an SPG card either.

          • Now that they merged they’ve probably recently shared mailing lists and are trying to get Marriott people more interested in SPG brands

        • Do you mind sharing your Vistana costs here? Just curious.

      • Congrats!

    • Never too many shoes... :

      Maybe it is just me but that doesn’t seem like that great of a deal when you can do a last minute all inclusive for 4 days for just about the same price (without the timeshare pitch) and way less hassle…

      • Anonymous :

        I interpreted it as $299 for all 4 nights, not per night. There’s no way you can do two people at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun for $75/night, and if there is some AI that offers that price it’s definitely not one I’d want to go to.

        • Yes, that’s correct. $299 total for 4 nights, plus 5000 points, daily breakfast buffet, and daily happy hour/snacks.

          Sorry if I was unclear!

      • Really? How would I do that? Every time we look at all inclusives its typically around 3 to 5K for 5 days plus expensive last minute flights. It never works out for us when we try last minute. Pro tips please!

        • Sorry, meant to say 3 to 5K, part of which is the $$ flights. Anyway, any info on finding cheap deals to all inclusives is right up my alley!

          • Never too many shoes... :

            I read the post as $1500 plus food for the four days, which makes it about $2K. I feel like you could do an all inclusive for a long weekend for $1K per person. But maybe I just assume everything is cheaper from the US?

          • Ah, got it. No it’s $299 total for 4 nights. Sadly from where I am in the US flights to the Caribbean/Mexico are generally around $500 apiece, so it’s at least 1 K to get there. Then say $700 to $1000K per person for the hotel for 4 days, and it’s closer to 3K, usually closer to 5 because I am fussy.

          • Anonymous :

            We stayed at Live Aqua Cancun for less than $2k for 4 nights – definitely not as cheap as your Westin deal but nowhere near $5k even if you have to spend $1k on flights. We went in low season (July) but it’s a really nice resort with excellent food and I think it would satisfy even the choosiest travelers.

  8. kilted skirts :

    I have a woman’s kilt-style skirt that a dear friend got for me in Scotland. It is colorful and wool and I so desperately want to wear it b/c I am COLD and so tired of black and gray.

    How do I style this?

    I don’t want to look like I stepped out of a prep school circa early 1960s-1980s. But it looks so warm . . .

    • Anonymous :

      Turtleneck, black tights and booties?

      • Never too many shoes... :

        Yes to this. I have lots of tweed and coloured skirts and this is kind of my work uniform in winter.

      • Anonymous :

        The Duchess of Cambridge has worn this exact outfit (tall boots instead of booties) so I think if she did it, so can you.

      • Agree with this. Keep the rest of your outfit sleek and neutral and let the kilt be the star.

        Ignore questions about whether you’re wearing underwear under there.

    • Black or cream sweater + black tights + black boots.

    • There’s no way to do it except own that you’re wearing a kilt. Scottish kilts are gorgeous quality and gorgeous patterns, but except for the extremely muted versions like black watch, they read kilt. I think the short ones (slightly above the knee) are a bit less costumey than the midi length.

  9. p!mp my house :

    Hi people! We are closing on a home in the Chicago suburbs soon and I am very excited to make it our own. I have figured out a lot of stuff I want but may want to consult with a designer/decorator on a few questions. The house doesn’t need *any* renovation but it needs to be furnished and I’d like to figure out the fun stuff – paint, wallpaper, drapes, lighting, furniture, etc. I’d also like to understand what that looks like in terms of budget and timing as we don’t need everything done now — right now we are thinking $20k this first year and another next year. I don’t know if I will even go this route as I might want to do it all myself (I like this kind of stuff)– but then of course I’m eyeing a carpet that is designer only (humbug!) and I wonder what the “discount” designers have really looks like. Do you end up paying more? Does anyone have any trusted friends they would recommend in the area? Or has anyone used a decorator/designer in the past and felt it was a waste of money? Also, do you have to buy everything through them? My parents have indicated they might want to buy us a dining room table as a gift, for example. And a family friend has said she’d be happy to ‘buy’ us furniture with her employee discount at PB/West Elm, etc. (with us paying her back of course).

    • You can hire designers by the hour (“Could you give me a few tips on how to pull this room together?”) rather than big project-based designers (“Do the first floor!”). You should be able to find designers online. You may also want to specifically look into a color consultant – they’re amazing for homeowners who want paint but don’t trust their eye for color – they’re hourly and generally well worth it. (And they also do decorating normally too.)

      I used a couple designers when I was a newlywed. I went wrong when I didn’t speak up with the big project-based designer when she went on a design tangent (“Your front door is red, therefore you must like red!” Uh, no, my door is red because my exterior is black and white; I only showed you soft neutral inspiration pics.) and I ended up with lots of red things that I got rid of within a year or two.

      If a product is only available to the trade, it’s not necessarily their discount that you want – it’s that you simply cannot get that product without a designer purchasing it for you. Personally, I’d find another carpet because it’s just carpet and not worth that kind of money, but that’s me. My color consultant did have a 25% discount at Sherwin Williams that was useful.

      The big designers where you have to buy everything through them are more rare these days (and cost an exorbitant amount of money). (Like if you remember those old shows on HGTV where 3 designers would come in and make a sales pitch, and voila, the house would be done in 3 months…it’s not really like that.) You can have designers go shopping with you at, say, Home Goods for accessories and that discussion as you’re browsing will teach you a lot.

      As far as how much money you’ll need for furniture, that really depends on how big this house is, whether you want everything brand new (sounds like it), and how much you have now.

    • Anonymous :

      Do not waste your money on PB furniture. It is poorly made and overpriced (even at a discount) and will look shabby very quickly.

      • Anonymous :

        +1 million to this. My experience is mostly with PB Kids but seriously the quality is worse than Target/Wayfair and it costs 10 times as much.

      • Anonymous :

        What do you recommend for good, reasonably priced furniture? My budget isn’t huge, but I also don’t want my place to look like an Ikea ad anymore. I was looking at PB, West Elm, and Crate & Barrel, but don’t want to spend what is (to me) a lot of money on mediocre quality.

        • We bought a sofa from EQ3 in 2014, and it’s still going strong — we’ve been really happy with the quality of it.

        • I have some pieces from Room & Board that ive been happy with, including some shelves I bought second hand that still look brand new. So, crate and barrel is generally a bit better than PB, IMO, though can’t say that for their couches. On the off chance you want to buy an expensive sleeper sofa, the only truly comfy one I’ve found is by a company called American Leather. They have non leather options, and I randomly stumbled on them, but seriously good quality.

    • I’ve always wanted to try an online decorator, such as those profiled here
      https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/online-decorator-makeover-we-tried-3-internet-design-services-to-decorate-this-rental-241478

      FYI, you might want to hold on to some of that liquidity for a few months. Every Chicago-area homeowner I know has had at least one big, unexpected expense in the first few months (new furnace, roof, etc.)

      • p!mp my house :

        We have a separate fund for emergency issues, but the house is 2 years old and under warranty, so we don’t anticipate major issues like that and have a separate fund for that – in addition to we can hold off on furnishing other parts if need be.

    • We used a designer that worked at a higher-end independent furniture store near us- the catch was you had to buy through them or you got charged a nominal fee for his designs. He did a site visit with us, then sent us 3 mockups with items picked out and suggested fabrics and we went from there. He also came on delivery day and made sure everything was set up correctly All in all, it was a good experience and the store had good prices on their furniture (we spent around $8k I think for a family room). Ethan Allen and some of the other chains also offer this service. I’ve also found that painters can get significant discounts at the local paint stores (25-40% for Sherwin Williams, Benjamin Moore, etc) so you don’t need a designer just to access paint pricing.

    • Anonymous :

      We use the designer that owns Relic Designs in Chicago. She respects budgets, but if you are going to pay an hourly rate for design, you typically end up getting nicer things.

  10. I booked a few hours with a HomePolish designer and I LOVED her. I appreciated the option to just book a few hours because I felt kind of intimidated about working with a designer, but there was absolutely no pressure to add on. I didn’t have to buy anything through her. She just recommended products, shops, and sites that I didn’t know about already (and I consider myself fairly well-versed in the local scene. I’m also in Chicago, btw).

    Highly recommend! You can set your budget in HomePolish when you sign up so you know exactly what you’re paying and you can always add hours if you want to later. Good luck!

  11. Related topic: has anyone found a nice-looking but sturdy LEATHER tote… that is large enough to fit redwalls?

    The long story is that I bought a cheap off-brand tote from Nordstrom’s and it’s a decent stopgap insofar as it seems to be indestructible and waterproof. But unfortunately, unless I empty the entire thing out (which is impossible, given the amount of detritus that instantly accumulates at the bottom of any bag I own) it’s not large enough to fit a redwall with any more than a few sheets of paper inside And it’s also tall, rather than wide, and has NO interior pockets, which means that my detritus stacks in layers at the bottom and I’m often left digging for my headphones beneath my wallet, keys, chapstick, pen bag, etc. I’ve been going to court more often recently, and it would be nice to be able to just shove my redwall into my bag, rather than having to tip the dang thing upside down first!

    I’m looking for something that has the look of a Kate Spade saffiano leather bag (like the Cameron tote) but significantly larger…

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