Rates and Uniforms

Our standard uniform is a black tie tuxedo, but we’re willing and able to clean, waiter, bartend, party plan, and butler for you in just about any uniform you’d want your Black Tie Cleaning Boy in — pretty much anything that fits your fancy will fit us well too. If you have special requests other than what’s listed below, an extra fee and added time will be needed to arrange costumes that aren’t in our inventory.

Basic Cleaning Services:

* Every new client gets an initial cleaning at an hourly rate.

* The first four cleanings will be billed at an hourly rate.

* After four cleanings, we sit down and look at how long it takes to clean your place and we negotiate a flat rate maintenance plan for you…since it takes about four cleanings to determine what exactly you need done, how long it will take, how many Boys you need, and how we can fit into your household budget. We will determine what system works for you, what schedule you want to be on, and how we can organize your home and life.

* Initial cleaning includes:  top to bottom, no stone unturned, cleaning of your house.  Dusting, mopping, sweeping,  scrubbing, vacuuming, etc.  Specifically, we will clean:

(1) Tables, chairs, sofas

(2) Vacuum carpets

(3) Dust mantle pieces

(4) Dust electrical appliances and TVs

(5) Light fixtures

(6) Doors

(7) Windows (interior) and sils

(8) Base board

(9) Furniture polish

(8) Glass table tops

(9) Surface worktops

(10) Clean kitchen appliances

(11) Oven (inside/out)

(12) Microwaves (inside/out)

(13) Sinks/faucets

(14) Empty trash, do your recycling

(15) Wash and dry your dishes

(16) Mop

(17) Cabinets/outside of the fridge

(18) Clean and Krugerize your fridge and cabinets

(19) Scrub your shower and bathroom

(20) Replace toilet paper and paper towels

(21) Clean floors

(22) Clean toilet basin, tiles, and medicine cabinets

(23) One load of laundry, dried, folded, and put away

Add-on Services: In addition to the Basic Services, we work on an individual basis with each client to determine what else they need done in their homes. Add-on services are negotiated ahead of time, to make sure we have the materials and abilities to complete the job.  These add-ons have included:

(A) Organizing closets, cleaning attics, clearing out basements

(B) Minor painting touchups

(C) Minor repairs

(D) Moving

(E) Gardening

(F) Dog walking

(G) Car washing

(H) Personal errands

(I) Grocery shopping

(J) Personal shopping

(K) Tour guides

UNIFORM OPTIONS

Tuxedo Clean: $20/hour per Boy…includes basic cleaning of your condo, apartment, or house…the Boys wear the standard tuxedo uniform: white shirts, black ties, black pants, black shoes.

Christmas Elves (available November 1st 2009 – January 2nd, 2010, 2 hour minimum booking): $35/hour per Boy…includes basic cleaning of your home…the Boys wear a holiday elf costume.

Sports Clean (need at least 2 days advance notice, 2 hour minimum booking): $50/hour per Boy…includes basic cleaning of your home…the Boys are shirtless, and dressed up in soccer shorts, football pants, speedos, baseball gear, etc. to fulfill your fantasy of having a sports team clean for you.

Call Bryan Phillips to arrange a free consult and walk through and to discuss what uniform options you’d like to consider.

BTCisforYou@yahoo.com

Halloween Hint of the Day: September 30th, 2009

For the month of October, we’re going to augment our usual Houshold Hints of the Day with a Halloween tip of the day (or two), to give you costume and party planning ideas we’ve acquired from clients while working here at Black Tie Cleaning.

We highly encourage everyone to make their own Halloween costumes, saving money and creating something unique and original that no one else at the Halloween party or parade will have.

But, if you want to buy your costume, or just buy cool pieces to assemble into a unique creation of your own, there are a lot of fun and interesting places in almost any neighborhood of Chicago where you can find inspiration and materials.

And you just don’t have to limit yourself to the “Halloween boutiques” that pop up in abandoned Pier One’s or Hollywood Videos around town.

In Boystown alone there are many unexpected places to find costumes — like going to The Brown Elephant on Halsted and Waveland or Ragstock at Belmont and Halsted.  Batteries Not Included on Halsted also has cool costume ideas, and the consignment shops in Boystown and Lakeview have a lot of great vintage finds.  Don’t forget to checkout Beatnik’s at Halsted and Roscoe’s, too.

What’s great about all of these places is that if you talk to the staff there they’ll be able to give you a lot of great ideas you might have never thought of, and also can clue you in on a lot of the costumes they have been hearing about.

Like, how about going as “The Real Housewives: Atlanta”?  We overheard a group of four guys on the train today talking about that, and fighting over which one of them got to be Nee Nee and who was stuck being Lisa.

Everybody wants to be Nee Nee, evidently.  That, or Kim.

But whatever you want to be, we hope this month we can give you some great ideas how you can get ready for that Halloween party with as little hassle as possible…even LESS hassle, actually, if you just hire us to plan and serve your party ourselves.

Household Hint of the Day: September 29th, 2009

Folding tee shirts is really easy if you make yourself a folding board, or somehow get your hands on an official one from The Gap or some other retailer.

The boards are roughly the size of an 8.5 x 11 pad of paper…so if you have one of those around the house, you can totally use the cardboard backing as a folding board (and, if you don’t have a pad of paper, go ahead and life one from the supply room at work…because “they owe you”, and you never really steal anything from the office, aside from all that Sweet n’ Low you stuff into your pockets at the end of the day and think no one notices).

Just lay your tee shirt down on a flat surface with the front down, and then place the board on the back of the shirt, centered where the neck is with the top of the board kissing the top of the shirt (how romantic).

Fold one side of the shirt over the board and into the middle of the shirt (also, conveniently, the middle of the board).  Adjust the shirtsleeve so it’s neatly folded against the middle as well…then do the other side.

Now, fold a little bit of the bottom of the shirt towards the bottom of the folding board….and then fold all that over and up to kiss the top of the shirt.

You should now have a tee folded to the size of your folding board, which is a great size for storing in your drawers or on your shelves.

Flip the shirt over, remove the board, and voila!, you’re done.

Don’t feel bad if it never looks quite as good as what they do at The Gap.  If you had all day to practice this and did almost nothing but fold over and over again, you’d get perfect at it too.  But, even the smallest improvement in neatness and folding technique can save you a lot of space in your closets…and thus a lot of time looking for things too.

Folding things properly…whoddathunk it could be such bliss?

Household Hint of the Day: September 28th, 2009

Trying to lose weight but running out of creative things to make for lunch or breakfast?

Try giving cottage cheese a starring role in at least one meal a day…suping it up with various fruits and vegetables to make it more interesting.

Whole, large curd cottage cheese is cheap (about $3 for a large tub at Jewel that will last you all week, at about 3 spoonfuls a day) and takes on the basic flavors of anything you mix into it.

One great trick is to use really thick and creamy flavored yogurt to give the cottage cheese a boost.

One of our favorite lines of yogurt is the Yoplait Thick & Creamy, with lemon custard, cinnamon bun, and Boston cream pie varieties to pick from.

Take a bowl, add three scoops of cottage cheese, then put the whole container of yogurt in the bowl and swirl it all up.  The cottage cheese gives the yogurt depth, and the yogurt’s thick, creamy flavor makes the cottage cheese so much more appealing.

You can also add different fruits and vegetables of your choosing to the cottage cheese.  Pears, plums, apples, and peaches are obvious…but what about sliced grape tomatoes, diced celery, cucumbers, and other flavorful vegetables?

It’s something different, and one of the keys to sticking to a diet is to shake your menus up and change your meals’ flavor profiles every day so you never get tired of the diet and veer off towards McGluttony at some fast food off ramp.

With the holiday season fast approaching, you surely want the only fat guy in the room to be the one in the red suit with all the presents.

A cottage cheese and yogurt breakfast can help keep your holidays merry, Mary, so give it a shot!

Household Hint of the Day: September 27th, 2009

 

Make your home personal and empower your spirit.

Make your home personal and empower your spirit.

The Chicago Tribune has a great piece today on Nate Berkus and what he did to help his brother turn a small rental apartment into a “refuge” for his family, without spending a lot of money or buying a lot of fancy stuff.  You should really read it, as it gives great advice. 

A little of Berkus tends to go a long way…and like any of the style mavens out there, Martha herself included…you should listen to what they say and take away the best tips and most salient points that apply to your own life.  You do not have to follow these things to the letter, but instead lift ideas that give you inspiration of your own.  

For us, it’s like going to the Art Institute and finding that kind of inspiration in a painting or sculpture collection, then coming home and creating something of your own with that same “feel”. 

One of Berkus’ best tips in that article is about the photo wall he’s created.  

This is something, shockingly, we don’t see enough people do.  So many of the people we know have very beautiful, but very soulless homes…with rarely a photo or memento in site. True, we know people are probably reacting to the cluttered and kitschy homes they may have grown up in, but there’s a big difference between eliminating the garden gnomes and porcelain clowns your mother and grandmother crammed onto every flat surface and leaving your house as spartan and generic as something in a catalog. 

Fill your home with positive energy by putting your favorite photos into interesting, tasteful frams and creating a photo or memory wall the way Berkus suggests.  

One of our friends has a gorgeous apartment with all the bells and whistles everyone craves in catalogs…but as soon as you walk into his place, you are greeted with wonderful family photos of him and all his relatives and friends, with some spectacular shots of him off on many adventures as well.  When we complimented him on this wall, he told us it’s one of the sources of strength in his world…on bad days, he comes home from work and is greeted by all these people who love him and all these wonderful adventures he had when he was on top of the world.  That wall is the first thing he sees when he comes home each day, and the last thing he sees before leaving his condo in the morning. When he entertains, it is what greets guests…serving not just as a warm, personal welcome but also as a conversation starter where guests ask who the different people are or start talking about one of the exotic places they, too, have been. 

Somehow, having a bunch of generic prints you bought at World Market or Pottery Barn just doesn’t have the same impact.  

At Black Tie Cleaning, we’re firm believers in a holistic approach to order and peace in people’s lives.  Your house can be spotlessly clean but that won’t necessarily make you happy…and it won’t make your house a home either.  You can still live in a clutter-free showplace that’s personal, warm, inviting, and empowering to your spirit…but you have to see the space you live in as your HOME, not as your condo, not as your apartment, not as your house.  

A home is not just walls and furniture and Kenmore appliances or Viking ranges.  

A home is filled with love…even if you’re single, petless, and far away from family back in Wisconsin or Oregon or Ohio or wherever.  

All the people you love can occupy a small place in your home, but making an appearance on your memory/photo wall. 

Now, if you could only just get them to pay their share of the rent.

Household Hint of the Day: September 26th, 2009

 

Hope they gave Andy a good scrubbing before tossing him to the grouches!

Hope they gave Andy a good scrubbing before tossing him to the grouches!

It might sound crazy to tell you to wash your garbage before you throw it out, but that’s only because it is sort of crazy, in a Martha Stewart meets Joan Crawford by way of being mad at the dirt sort of way. 

But, think about it. 

You’ve just finished a Yoplait thick and creamy lemon custard yogurt (yum!) and are about to toss that little container into the recycling bin (or, let’s be honest, into the garbage…because between you and us, we don’t really believe those blue recycling bags go anywhere different in the end, at least not here in Chicago)…but think about how funky the remaining yogurt bits in that container will smell after fermenting under your sink in the garbage cubby for the next few days. 

You can cut down on an awful lot of kitchen smells (and the bugs they attract) by taking a few seconds and rinsing out any food containers you are going to throw away.  

Yogurt cups, TV dinner trays, pasta sauce jars, tin cans, you name it.  If it’s got food in it, or the remnants of food, just rinse it out before you chuck it and your garbage won’t reek.  

With large amount of food that’s gone bad or otherwise wasted, take the extra effort to bag that food up straight away and take it down to the dumpster in a special trip instead of letting it fester in your kitchen for days with the rest of your trash.  Ideally, the kitchen garbage should not smell much worse than the paper wastebasket by your desk or the tissue bin in the bathroom.  

Taking a few extra seconds to wash your food related garbage before throwing it away can save you a lot of extra hassle and stinkiness in the end. 

Give it a try for a week and see if you notice the difference!

Household Hint of the Day: September 25th 2009

 

Homemade costumes are always so much more fun!

Homemade costumes are always so much more fun!

There is more than a month until Halloween, people.  Which means there is no reason you have to settle for anything less than originality and perfection with so much time to plan ahead. 

The cheap, plastic-wrapped, mass-produced costumes are already on the shelves of drug stores and bargain basement emporiums. You know the ones.  “Clever” things like “Fisherman with Bass for a Penis Sticking Out of His Fishing Pants” or “Boobies Inspector” or “Drunk Sorority Girl” (and other costumes frat boys love to buy as a pretense for long-simmering urges to crossdress without fear of ridicule). 

There will no doubt be numerous Michael Jacksons, Farrah Fawcetts, and other ripped-from-the-headlines costumes like “John and Kate + 8″, “Kanye vs. Taylor Swift”, and whatever else gels in pop culture between now and Halloween. 

But, why be like everyone else when you don’t have to?  Why not think outside the box and do something different, and for a lot less money than something you can pick up at the costume shop the day before Halloween? 

Let’s take Michael Jackson for a minute.  Since you know there will be many Michaels out there, in all manner of costume (and skin tone), as he morphed himself from cherub to space alien through the years, why not set yourself up to be a great complement to a roomful of Michaels without being a Michael yourself?  

A group of our friends is going as 80s pop princesses…Madonna in “Like A Virgin” garb, Cyndi Lauper in “Girls Just Wanna” mode, Whitney “How Will I Know?” Houston, Paula “Straight Up” Abdul, etc. A group of 80s gals like that can play a fun game of “Find Michael” all night, looking for various Jackson impersonators to have their photos taken with, surfing the 80s nostalgia theme Jackson’s death helped crest, while not being one of the typical crowd. 

Bubbles the Chimp, Diana Ross, Elizabeth Taylor, Macaully Culkin, and the other Jackson Brothers (Tito, Marlon, Jermaine, Ringo, and Jesse) are other good options for people who know they’ll bump into a Michael out there for a photo op at some point. 

The same’s true for Farrah Fawcett.  

You KNOW at least a half dozen drag Farrahs will be out there…so why not go as Kate Jackson or Jaclyn Smith…or the even rarer Cheryl Ladd?  You could have a Charlie’s Angels reunion on Halsted, now that the real thing will never again happen in real life. 

To win even more points for the obscure, why not go as Lee Majors, in either Steve Austin Six Million Dollar Man mode or Fall Guy fashion? Your quest all night would be to find your Farrah out there for the photo op.  

That could be a fun game with your friends, too. 

Because money’s tight for everyone these days, why not also think about what costumes you could use again and again through the years?  A Robin Hood green outfit could be morphed into Peter Pan, The Green Arrow, The Jolly Green Giant, or a Christmas Elf with relative ease. You could even probably get away with wearing it at St. Patrick’s day too (though, to be honest, you could wear your Oprah costume on St. Paddy’s day and people would be so drunk they’d still think you were a leprechaun). 

Another great multi-purpose costume is a Care Bear. 

Yes, a Care Bear. 

Think about it. 

Pick any color bear you want, and remember the big white tummy can have whatever symbol you want on it.  The Care Bears orginally had little hearts, stars, clouds, shamrocks, and rainbows on their tummies.  But, add a martini glass to your stomach and it’s a fun grown-up Care Bear.  Add the leather bar “bear flag” and colors and suddenly you’re dressed up for IML Memorial Day weekend.  You could totally get away with sticking a rainbow to that tummy and wearing it at Pride or Market Days, too.  Add a Christmas tree or mistletoe or something yuletide and you’ve got a holiday costume…or something fun for Christmas in July. 

In the coming days, we’ll give you some tips on how to make costumes cheaply using only things you already have around the house or materials you can buy from JoAnn’s Fabrics for less than $50.  

You would spend more than that on poor quality, mass-produced, plastic costumes at the store that won’t last more than this year, and that won’t be nearly as fun.  

As veterans of six Halloweens in Boystown between the lot of us here, the Black Tie Cleaning Boys want to see as many creative and fun costumes out there as possible this year…and we’re committed to helping you make them!

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