Tag Archives: Real Simple magazine

Real Simple September 2012

Real Simple Encourages Readers to Embrace Their Vices

Real Simple VicesIs Real Simple’s October feature “5 Vices You Should Embrace” a playful poke at our uptight nature or an unhealthy step away from self-control?

For its October issue, Real Simple gathered five experts “including a moral historian and a romance novelist” to reveal the five vices they find occasionally beneficial. And while this short piece smacks of playful innocence, it also suggests that there are times when we should let our moral compasses slide and just indulge.

Perhaps what makes this bite-sized article a little alarming is the range of “vices” that make the list. Among those recommended are “gossip at the office,” “embrace sloth,” “eat meat,” “enjoy schadenfreude” (pleasure at the misfortune of others) and “be lustful.”

The two that bear the greatest initial shock factor in my opinion – “embrace sloth” and “be lustful” – are in reality quite tame. Speaking of “sloth,” author and editor Erica Jong rejects the American work ethic, which is to overwork. To remedy the habit, Jong recommends embracing sloth by taking a vacation. Likewise, in her “be lustful” blip, best-selling romance novelist Sabrina Jeffries remembers a time when speaking of anything sex-related was taboo, asking “why can’t we even talk about it?”

Then there’s the vice “eat meat,” which to some would seem appalling and to others not a vice at all. Graham Hill, founder of TreeHugger.com and LifeEdited.com, insists that “an all-or-nothing approach is impossible for some people,” adding, “I’m one of them.” Rather than cut out meat altogether, Hill has become what he calls a weekday vegetarian.

But where the playfulness seems to turn to masked egocentricity for me is with the two vices “gossip at the office” and “enjoy schadenfreude,” which encourage exactly what they say, with no subtle wink at anything else.

“I don’t talk about others more or less than the average person, but I have a friend at work with whom I jokingly have explicit trade-offs,” says Yale Psychology Professor Paul Bloom. “If I present him with a piece of information, he owes me an equally juicy nugget in the future. There’s an unseemly pleasure to gossip, but it can also be beneficial.”

Though he argues that information is power, his assertion still feels like a cop out. It’s like someone sidling up to you and assuring you that your desire to hurt someone else isn’t great, but hey, who can really control themselves when it comes to that anyway?

Ringing in the same key is University of Virginia Moral History Professor John Portmann’s “enjoy schadenfreude” section. Prefacing his paragraph by saying that “religious and secular scholars alike agree that envy is awful,” he then jumps into an argument that the pleasure you get from another’s misfortune “can feel great.” He cites karma-heavy examples like your mean boss being caught cheating on her taxes and facing a penalty. Feels great, right?

Since when has the argument “do it if it feels good” led to anything balanced or productive? I’m not arguing against pleasure or fulfillment, but it seems odd to take something so potentially harmful and try to make it feel lighthearted and harmless. To me, it’s the difference between saying, “Go ahead and indulge in that piece of chocolate after dinner” and “Go ahead and binge eat when no one’s looking.” One just doesn’t strike me as humorous.

What do you think? Is this article what it would appear – an invitation to loosen up – or is it a slightly convoluted free pass to engage in potentially harmful behavior?


4 Steps Toward Eating Seasonally

Nashville Farmer's Market

The Nashville Farmers Market is just one market with a wide selection of locally grown, seasonal produce.

If the idea of seasonal eating conjures up thoughts of boiled squash and plain cabbage, it’s time to open up your mind to the diversity and delectability of eating what’s ripe right now.

It can be tough to think about eating seasonally when what we see in the produce aisle so rarely changes. Sure, we’re more likely to score good strawberries and sweet corn in the middle of summer than in the dead of winter, but that’s about the extent of the average American’s seasonal eating.

While it’s certainly convenient to enjoy fresh tomatoes on Christmas Eve, we may be missing out on the benefits of eating seasonally — benefits to our bodies, the environment and our local economy just for starters. Plus, cooking with foods that were picked when they were ripe makes for richer, more flavorful dishes.

What does it actually entail to start eating seasonally? It might not be realistic to expect to eat 100 percent seasonal, local produce, but it’s definitely realistic to start taking some steps in that direction. The benefits are immense, but some basics are that you’re supporting your local growers, you’re eating food that wasn’t shipped across the world at a cost to the environment and you’re also avoiding foods like ethylene-ripened tomatoes, which are picked green and made to ripen quickly with ethylene gas.

Once you get started, you’ll be surprised by how enjoyable (and, yes, even delicious) seasonal eating can be. Here are four simple steps you can take:

1. Visit Your Local Farmers Market: If there’s one place to find seasonal food, it’s at the farmers market, where local farmers sell their produce directly to consumers. This supports local growers, cuts out the middle men and ensures that you get the freshest produce available. Use Local Harvest to find a market near you.

2. Join a CSA: A CSA, which stands for community supported agriculture, is basically a subscription to fresh produce from a local grower. You pay an up-front fee for a specified period of time, and then each week during that time you’ll receive a huge box full of fresh, local produce. This way, you can plan recipes based on what you have rather than what you see on the shelves at the grocery store. Find a CSA near you at Local Harvest.

3. Find Delicious Seasonal Recipes: If you’re not sure what’s in season, several magazines offer great recipe resources on their websites. Whole Living Magazine offers a seasonal foods tab; the Real Simple Magazine website features a seasonal food guide; Cooking Light Magazine gives great in-season recipes and Clean Eating Magazine has a wonderful seasonal recipe resource as well.

4. Try Something New: One of the most fun parts of eating what’s in season is that you often get to try new fruits and veggies you’ve never prepared or even tasted before. If you’re willing to try new flavors and enjoy them when they’re harvested, you’ll get the benefits of deliciously fresh and locally grown food.


The 10 Best Magazines for Sprucing Up Your Home

House Beautiful CoverSick of looking at that old paint color or empty corner? These magazines are here to help. They can’t actually do the work for you, but your inspiration will be overflowing.

You have had the same wallpaper since you moved in. That was way too long ago to even remember. You know it’s time for a change but you can’t quite figure out which direction you want to go from paint colors to reorganizing your book shelves.

Changing up your home can be overwhelming at any level from total remodel to picking the right lamp. But stop your worries and get your visual inspiration on with these ten great magazines.

Better Homes & Gardens: Not only will the inside of your house be picture perfect but the outside will be greener as well. This magazine is full of tips from easy entertaining to finding the perfect rug for your budget.

This Old House: Have you been bitten by the remodeling bug? This magazine is full of tips for the handyman at home and tips on where to spend money and where to save.

Real Simple: Sometimes we just want to get our “junk drawer” in order, but it seems to never get done. Real Simple shows you how to get it and keep it manageable along with other fantastic and easy tips for around the home.

House Beautiful: The title doesn’t lie. House Beautiful is full of great photos with some brilliant ideas from some of the best interior designers around the world.

Architectural Digest: Are you a lover of fantastic design? The photos in this magazine will knock your socks off all while giving you a peek into the homes of some celebrities.

Dwell: A publication full of new ideas, dwell always has an awareness for any space size. This is a great magazine for renters as well with ideas that are easily reversible.

Elle Decor: Like it’s fashion cohort, Elle Decor is a beautiful publication to flip through. High fashion lovers unite over finding a perfect couch for them based on the type of blouse it associates with.

Do-it-Yourself: Putting together Ikea furniture comes natural to you? This Better Homes & Gardens quarterly magazine will show you how to put your talents to use while saving money and making your neighbors jealous.

Traditional Home: A tried and true title, this magazine takes classic to a new level with small changes that anyone can implement.

Cottages & Bungalows: Have more of an artistic preference or love historic homes? This magazine will make you want to pack up your things and move to the beach or the mountains to enjoy your inside scenery.


Make a Promise to Savor the Summer

SummerDoesn’t it seem like summer always ends as quickly as it begins? Make a commitment this year to relish the moments that make summer so singularly refreshing.

It happens. Every. Single. Year. I get elated about the first day of summer, remembering the childhood magic of homemade ice cream, laps around the lake and the sound of rain thumping the ground as I played games on our screened-in porch. With hopes of summer feelings and freedoms, I enter the season with great expectations.

Now, I may be alone in this, but I’m pretty sure you know the drill. Suddenly I look at my calendar and realize (to my utter amazement) that every weekend has already been scheduled away, and I begin to wonder how and when I’m going to enjoy the outdoors and if I’ll get a moment to read a poolside book after work or squeeze in a hike or two or perhaps go camping and when, oh when did summer get so short?

I understand that adults don’t get a summer vacation, and while I’d gladly start a petition to accomplish as much, I’m committing to doing something a little more rational this summer, and I invite you to join me. I’m making a vow to pause and enjoy the moments that make summer entirely different from every other season.

I might give myself permission to read a book or Real Simple magazine on my back porch at night, when I can see lightning bugs dotting my backyard. Or perhaps I’ll lug ye olde ice cream maker out of the basement and invite the neighbors over. I’m also planning on taking a Saturday morning or two to visit Nashville’s wonderful farmer’s market for some fresh produce from local farmers.

What childhood memories made summer special to you? I encourage you to indulge yourself in a few activities this summer that remind you of those memories. Drive to a local lake and take a walk even if you can’t ski around it, make lemonade and sit outside for a bit, join a local pool and go after work. Whatever you do, don’t let summer slip past before you get to enjoy a bit of its relaxing charm.

While you and I may have infinitely more responsibilities than our 10-year-old selves, there’s a time for setting aside that to-do list, picking up the want-to-do list, blowing off the dust and putting a big fat check mark beside something that makes us feel happy. And I can’t think of a better time than summer.

Vintage Anthropologie Swimsuits

Vintage Styles Offer Alternatives to the Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Bikini

Vintage Anthropologie Swimsuits

These select styles from Anthropologie showcase the retro/vintage take on this year's swimwear.

It’s bikini season! Not thrilled? Well, rest assured because this season’s bathing suit styles pull from vintage themes that actually flatter. 

Bikini season is here at last! If you found yourself jumping for joy at that statement (or even doing an air high five to yourself or otherwise showing visible excitement) then this blog post may not be for you. For the remaining 95 percent of women, get ready to do an air five of your own because I have great news: When it comes to beachwear, our year has finally come!

Gone are the days when all you had to cover yourself was a mess of triangular, string-laden fabric. Past are the moments of weighing the skimpy bikini against the full-coverage but oh-so-matronly one piece. No, this is our year because this season’s bathing suits pull from fun and funky vintage and retro themes, finally making peace between the one piece and the string bikini and giving us a happy medium. Tankinis attempted to do as much, but let’s face it: They just didn’t flatter every shape.

This season, bathing suits are cut from an entirely different cloth. Many suits are going high-waisted, hugging the hips and showing off the slimmest part of the womanly figure at the natural waist. And if that’s not your style, you can still opt for a bathing suit bottom that offers a thicker swath of fabric around the hips — and no jumble of spaghetti strings to try to keep tied. Some suits are even flaunting the boy short look, really bringing it back to a vintage milieu.

Likewise, many bathing suit tops are trading out their geometrically triangular predecessors for a more rounded, full-coverage look. Accented with vintage fabrics boasting bold stripes or delicate florals, these can’t-miss new styles allow you to express yourself without overly expressing yourself (if you know what I mean).

Even one-piece suits have gotten a youthful facelift this year, with ties around the waist, ruffles at the top and all kinds of new and interesting cuts that make them anything but boring.

If you’re not even sure where to start this season, take a glance at this article on Real Simple magazine’s website, which will give you some great tips on what types of suits flatter different body types. It’s time you felt cute and confident on the beach, and with help from these flattering vintage styles, you can. Now when you hear someone joyously proclaim the onset of bikini season, you just might find yourself pumping your fist in the air with excitement (even if just to yourself).

Consumer Reports June 2012 cover

Gifts for Grads in the 7 Most Important Subjects to Keep Studying After Graduation

Consumer Reports June 2012 magazineIt’s easy to get caught up in the moment, but learning doesn’t end with graduation. It’s really just beginning in these seven essential subjects–and we’ve got gift ideas for grads in each.

College graduation is arguably among the most anticipated milestones of a person’s life. So much so that wide-eyed grads may find it difficult to focus on the new world of challenges that come with such achievements.

Living on your own, setting up your household, developing a successful career, budgeting your own money (without the safety net of Mom and Dad), preparing your own meals—those skills aren’t usually covered—at least not in the classroom—en route to earning a diploma.

Despite the excitement of freedom from all-night study sessions and having a steady—and bigger—paycheck, the reality is there’s still a lot to learn—especially about real-world responsibilities. A lot. So to help steer your grad in the right direction, magazine subscriptions and books like these that speak to the most important subjects that lie ahead would make great gifts this commencement season.

1. Finance: It’s never too early for new grads to start saving for the long-term. That means understanding retirement accounts, navigating taxes and making smart choices in personal investments, which are covered in magazines like Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.

2. Accounting: Speaking of smart investments, knowing how to select the most reliable car, appliances, electronics and other high-dollar items is another must that comes along after graduation, and Consumer Reports magazine is the go-to source for such reliable buying advice.

3. Political Science: Staying on top of world news and politics takes on greater meaning, especially as grads take on their roles as future leaders and influencers of society. Magazines like Time, Newsweek and The Atlantic are known for their thoughtful commentary on the day’s important topics.

4. Home Ec: Even if your new grad won’t be a homeowner just yet, titles like This Old House and other similar magazines may provide a goal to build toward. If she needs help decorating her new digs, House Beautiful and Real Simple can provide inspiration and budget-friendly tips.

5. Cooking: Assuming more adult responsibilities hopefully means paying more attention to personal health and fitness, like cutting back on ordering pizza and in favor of nutritious options. No time? No problem with books like The Eating Well Healthy In A Hurry Cookbook.

6. Leisure Studies: With less time to focus on studying, there will be more time to explore or devote to personal interests like travel, sports, art, music, gardening and more. Magazines like Sports Illustrated, Budget Travel, National Geographic and books like The Organic Vegetable Gardener are just some of the many options available.

7. Career Development: Within the new grad’s chosen field, there’s still more to learn—and even more will change over the course of it. Help keep him or her educated on emerging trends and the latest news with specialized titles like Psychology Today, Popular Photography and others that speak to nursing, banking, engineering or legal practice.