We're real adults now, I thought, as our agent Mindy gave us the keys to our very own apartment. I felt such a surge of happiness about finally owning real estate in Brooklyn. But as we headed home across Prospect Park, Dash said, "Holy hideous bathroom."

"All the crazy tile makes my eyes bleed," I said.

"We'll do something about that. Someday."

Someday?! How about immediately? That's the kind of person I am. I jump into action. And I get speedy results - always.

Dash's had a big birthday that was only four weeks away - why not revamp that hideous bathroom? The perfect gift!

He said there would be no way we'd get it done in time, so it'd be more like an anniversary present. Renovations are notoriously slow, and I've heard they always go over budget, but I told him I was determined to make it happen. I texted our real estate agent, begging her to recommend a reliable general contractor who'd meet my crazy deadline.

She instantly sent me a link to Block Renovation, a company that specializes in kitchen and bathroom renovations. She said they partner with topnotch architects and builders to bring design, sourcing, and project management under one roof. They'd also be able to complete our bathroom within 4 weeks. No way.

Block provides libraries of designs that you can build off of and then matches you with a vetted contractor.

I clicked through Block's Design Library – they offer 4 different bathroom styles or worlds - and I quickly homed in on the Classic. Dash would love this - It's Timeless. Luxurious. Filled with light.

I read the customer reviews and got comfy with my research before we started in on Operation Beautiful Bathroom.

Free Estimate In Less Than 5 Minutes - We filled out a brief online questionnaire and received a renovation estimate within minutes. These guys must not sleep!

Video / Photo Share - The next morning, I was standing in the ugly hot pink tub shooting videos of the hideous bathroom on my phone. Once I sent them to Block, they delivered an in-depth project proposal complete with timelines and the scope of work within one business day. Now I know they don't sleep.

Total Transparency - Block's all-inclusive proposal provides transparent pricing upfront. Not only that, we paid online with a credit card.

Seamless Design - Block's expert team of architects and designers provided a complete package tailored specifically for the room. This included designs, building approvals, detailed drawings, a 3D rendering, and all finish materials. They don't fool around - they even scheduled deliveries directly to our new apartment.

Trusted Builders - Their network of vetted contractors go through a rigorous onboarding to ensure they're licensed and insured. On top of that, Block's contractors build within a set of proprietary construction standards. So even though Dash was ready for a season-long project, I was fully confident they'd finish our bathroom efficiently and on time.

Rapid Build Begins - My construction team started in on the bathroom demolition. Then came the rough-in of carpentry, plumbing, and electric. After that, the fixtures went in. And finally, the finishes.

I couldn't stop myself from occasionally dropping by with coffee and donuts to see how things were coming along. How satisfying to see those mish-mash tiles chipped from the walls.

Block's highly competent team was obsessed with getting things right - and what a clean, organized worksite.

The team finished earlier than expected with more than enough time for us to bring in cleaners and prep the new apartment for moving day.

From design execution to follow-through, the entire project was flawless. Block Renovation's end-to-end customer support and ongoing communication made sure of that. But the best thing is the straightforward cost. No unpleasant surprises. Just high-quality work right on time and on budget.

And so, the Friday night before Dash's birthday, when it was supposedly 100% complete, the two of us met in the subway to check out our new bathroom. The anticipation built as we fumbled with the key, but when we made it in, we headed straight to it.

Dash is completely floored. When he's able to speak again, he says, "It feels like twice the size it was! I can't believe it."

It was just like the 3D rendering. I ran my hand along the clean subway tile and new fixtures we'd picked out together.

"Happy Birthday!" I said. He kissed me, and we opened a bottle of wine - a Barolo I'd kept hidden in my peacoat - another birthday surprise. We raise our glasses. "Here's to the good life we're building together."

"Here's to it." Dash sips his wine. "Hey, your birthday's round the corner. What do you want?"

I glance at the beige fridge, beige counters, beige stove. "You know," I say, " Block Renovationdoes kitchens, too . . ."

Ever wondered if there's one place you could go to get all your essentials, without having to pay for branded items? Turns out, there is!

Brandless strives to supply you with brand-free products at big brand quality. Your home is your sanctuary, and Brandless has all your home must-haves.

There are sooo many amazing, great-value products on the Brandless website, but our editors have taken a look and chosen 10 of our favorites (but boy, it wasn't easy).

1. The Acacia Wood Utensil Holder

Whether you're decking out a new kitchen or just some of your utensils need replacing, Brandless is the place to go. They have every utensil you could possibly need starting at just $4 each: Silicone Spatula, Slotted Turner, Ladle, Serving Spoon, Slotted Spoon, Pasta Fork, Basting Brush, Utensil Holder. You name it, they have it - our top pick is the gorgeous wooden holder that holds them all.

Brandless kitchen utensils and holder

2. Luggage

Brandless also have the highest quality travel cases - they meet the quality of big expensive brands such as Away, but are way more affordable. Plus, their materials are durable with lightweight polycarbonate shells and sustainable, lined with recycled PET plastic.

Brandless luggage bag

3. Fluoride-Free Peppermint Toothpaste

One of their best sellers is the Fluoride-Free toothpaste. Fluoride-Free toothpaste is essential for babies, but a lot of adults also opt for it to reduce their Fluoride intake. At $5, it's a way better value than brands at shops like Whole Foods.

brandless fluoride free toothpaste

4. "Tree-Free" Facial Tissues - 2 Pack

Save the trees. Buy Tree-Free Tissues - for just $4!

2 boxes of Brandless tissues

5. Pro Blender

This blender is powerful and is sure to make your kitchen prep super easy. With stainless steel blades and variable speeds, it's high quality, but still more affordable than big brands – it's just $180. With this blender, you can finally become one of those people who has a smoothie for breakfast every morning.

Brandless blender with green smoothie

6. The Acacia Wood Prep & Serve Board

This cheese board is perfect for cutting cheese or bread. It's made from renewable wood and looks super classy in any kitchen. The matching Acacia Wood Handle Cheese Knives set slice like a pro.

It's just $9 for the board and the set each, a small price to pay to impress all the guests at your next party.

Brandless Wood Prep & Serve Board

7. Refillable Glass Cleaner, Cucumber Mint - Starter Kit

Refillable cleaning products are the new, eco-friendly way of cleaning. Brandless is all about the sustainable lifestyle, and these refillable spray bottles are Green Seal Certified. Plus, the refill formulas are non-toxic. The best part? They're just $6.

Brandless Refillable Glass Cleaner, Cucumber Mint

8. Green Apple Facial Toner

This toner is cruelty-free, contains no sulphates or phthalates and includes better-for-you witch hazel, which gently cleanses and refreshes your skin - for just $8 a bottle.

They have moisturizer for $7, too.

Brandless Green Apple Facial Toner

9. Fine Line Pens - 0.4mm Point

No matter how old you are, you never grow out of the enjoyment you get when buying stationary. This pack of fine line pens is only $5, and has every color in the rainbow.

Brandless Fine Line Pens

10. Packing Cubes

If you've never used packing cubes before, you don't know what you're missing. Made with sturdy mesh recycled plastic, you can organize your items separately in these 4 bags - no need to rummage through your whole bag to find your charger again. This 4-pack is only $40.

Brandless Packing Cubes in suitcase

These are just some of the hundreds of amazing products Brandless has to offer. It really is a one-stop-shop for all your needs.

Between all the Home, Health & Wellness, Beauty, Travel, Babies, and Pets sections, they have something for everyone, at a high quality, but great value! Brandlessproducts are better for you, and better for the planet. Stop paying for the name and start paying for quality.

Follow this link & use code WELCOME25 for 25% OFF your first order!
Excludes CBD and Gift Cards.


Are Home Warranty Plans Worth It?

HomeServe covers essentials systems your insurance wont

Basic home insurance doesn't typically cover systems like heating and AC that break down from normal wear and tear. Does everyone in the world know this except me?

Here's the backstory. My wife and I bought our home 3 years ago. And up until 2 months ago, things had been going smoothly and we loved being homeowners. Then, during the drudges of winter, our heating system decided to break down. I realized that our homeowner's insurance doesn't cover it ( wonderful, I thought to myself). The end result? It took us days to find someone to come fix it. Not to mention it ended up costing us an arm and a leg.

Confused by what exactly basic home insurance typically does cover, I did a little digging online. I saw a lot of homeowners talking about the importance of a home repair plan that covers systems like plumbing, heating, and cooling. And the name that kept popping up? HomeServe.

I figured getting a plan would be mad expensive and not all that necessary. Would another home system fail us? "Knowing our luck, probably" my wife said repeatedly.

So I decided to look into plans from HomeServe, and I was very surprised to learn these 5 things

HomeServe Special Offer!
Get 50% Off a Plan Your First Year.
24/7 Coverage
Apply Online In Minutes!

Easy to apply! All done online in a matter of minutes, or via phone.

The plans cover systems that breakdown from normal wear and tear which isn't usually covered by basic home insurance. AC, Heating, Plumbing, Electrical - the essentials and conveniences of everyday life and home systems that you would never want to be without!

When you have a plan in place and a pipe bursts in the middle of the night, just contact HomeServe's 24/7 repair hotline. A HomeServe representative will schedule a trusted contractor to fix it.

It's affordable. You can use the website to see what plans are available in your area.

We signed up for a plan from HomeServe. The best part has been the peace of mind. We are now prepared for the home repairs that may come our way.