Blog Posts by Reader s Digest Magazine

  • Thanksgiving Foods that Are Toxic to Cats and Dogs

    Turkey (or any meat)
    All meat should be well cooked and always boneless.

    Cats are especially sensitive to this herb, it can cause stomach upset and central nervous system depression.

    PLUS: 13 Things You Didn't Know About Cats

    Bread dough
    Raw dough could actually rise in your pets sensitive tummy causing discomfort or an even more serious emergency.

    Cake batter
    Raw eggs can cause salmonella infection in your pet, just as it can for anyone in your family. Stick to dog biscuits and kitty treats instead of this sugary concoction.

    Too much of anything
    Little tastes of human food could cause stomach pains, diarrhea and even pancreatitis in your pet. The same goes for you, you should both practice moderation!

    PLUS: The Weird Differences Between Dog People and Cat People

    Dispose of aluminum foil, plastic wrap and wax paper. While licking up food left on these wrappings pets can ingest some of the wrapper, leading

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  • A Food Geek's Tips for Keeping Your Sanity on Thanksgiving

    Few holidays inspire as much anticipation as Thanksgiving. In-laws and cooking? The stakes are high, and something could go wrong at any moment. Fortunately, with a little food science and common sense, you can avoid the pitfalls that sitcom writers love to rely on.

    1. Keep it simple. Unless you're a culinary master, trying to pull out all the stops and create every possible dish that might show up in a Hollywood-perfect Thanksgiving feast is actually a recipe for disaster. Turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and a simple vegetable dish such as string beans is already a feast! If you're cooking for guests and nervous, pick dishes that you're comfortable making. If you're trying something new, give it a practice run a few days before.

    2. Go potluck. Even if you are a culinary whiz, divvying up the courses is a great way of bringing a group of people together, and an opportunity to pass along culinary traditions to younger generations. If you have young kids,

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  • What Your TV Salesman Won’t Tell You

    1. Buy your new TV in September or January. That's when the new models come out and the prices go way down on discontinued models. Another time to get a deal: Black Friday, if you're willing to brave the crowds.

    2. Shoppers' questions boil down to this: LED, LCD, or plasma? LEDs and LCDs use the same technology, but LEDs are thinner and more expensive. LEDs can also be too reflective in a bright room. Plasmas offer the best picture for your money, especially if you're watching at an angle, but they're thicker than the others, and ghost images can be an issue.

    3. Which brands do I recommend? For LCDs, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony have consistently been among the best in rankings by Consumer Reports. Among plasmas, Panasonic tops the list.

    PLUS: 13 Things Your Jeweler Won't Tell You

    4. Our margins on TVs are so thin, they're almost nonexistent. The prices are designed to get you in the store, and then we try to sell you the expensive cords, accessories, and, of course,

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  • How to Recycle the Hazardous Stuff

    1. Cell phones
    In most cases, recycling a cell phone means donating it to a worthy cause. Next time you upgrade, free up some storage space and bring that drawer full of older models to your local wireless retailer (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, LG, Sony, Best Buy) or big box office supply store (Staples, Office Depot). Many charities and local government offices also accept cell phone donations, and this information can usually be found online.

    2. CFL bulbs
    To conserve energy, you chose to illuminate your home the sustainable way, with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which require less power and last considerably longer than incandescent bulbs. But when CFLs eventually do burn out, how do you dispose of them? Because they contain toxic mercury, which can be released into the environment when they break, CFLs shouldn't be disposed of with household trash or recycled with glass. Instead, visit to find out whether your bulbs can be collected by or dropped off at a local

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  • 3 Good Lessons We Can Learn from the Kardashians

    Many of our families are more like the Kardashian/Jenner household than we would like to admit. Nearly six million families include a stepparent, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data - and that isn't necessarily a bad thing, says stepmother and author Janice Van Dyck. The positives of blended families? Read on.

    Stepkids tell the truth.
    For better or worse, "stepkids are more likely to be honest about what's wrong with your parenting style," says Van Dyck. "If you listen to them, you might find they're right about how you could be more effective."

    Marriage No. 2 can be a better model.
    "Your kids have been through divorce, and you can be sure they learned something - not always positive - about intimate relationships," she says. When parents are in a more positive marriage, they have "the energy to be better role models for negotiation, forgiveness, generosity, and love."

    Kids get a broader worldview.
    Every kid's upbringing seems normal to him or her;

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  • 6 Habits of Highly Successful Supermarket Shoppers

    1. Go food shopping once a week
    If you're hooked on impromptu food shopping, break that expensive habit right now. Attach a magnet-backed notepad and pen to your refrigerator, and the moment a food container runs empty and you need to replace it, add it to your list. This simple discipline will have a major impact on your family budget. When you don't keep a list, you're likely to drop into the store for one item here, and two items there. Instead, establish a time each week that you can go to the store when you have time to focus on your shopping and you aren't in a rush. Be sure to take your list with you on your way out the door.

    Supermarket managers love it when you don't keep a list, for several reasons. First, the more times you go into the store, the more chances you'll have of picking up unnecessary items on impulse. Also, when you buy goods on the spur of the moment, you're more likely to pay full price for them, since you didn't have time to look for a sale or wait for one

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  • 13 Things You Never Knew About Your Weight

    1. It Really Is Genetic
    When scientists first discovered it in certain chubby mice, they called it simply the fatso gene. Years later, when they scoured the human genome for markers that increased vulnerability to type 2 diabetes, the fatso gene (now more politely called FTO) showed up there too. Turns out, people with two copies of the gene were 40 percent more likely to have diabetes and 60 percent more likely to be obese than those without it. Those with only one copy of the gene weighed more too.

    Scientists now suspect that there are lots of fat genes. "There could be as many as 100 of them," says Claude Bouchard, PhD, executive director of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University System, "each adding a couple of pounds here and a pound or two there. That's a noticeable difference when it comes to how much more fat we need to burn off."

    As much as 16 percent of the population has two copies of the FTO gene, and half of us have one copy. So far,

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  • 5 Famous Billionaire Dropouts

    Be cool - stay in school, the saying goes. Recent reports show that a rising number of college graduates are topping off their résumés with $135,000 law degrees in hopes of getting ahead in the postrecession economy. But one look at this Forbes list of billionaires who never graduated from high school will make you wonder: If you want to be rich, should you ditch?

    Richard Branson
    A dropout at 16, he founded a mail-order record retailer, which became the Virgin Records stores and music label. Today, his empire includes 200 companies - airlines, music festivals, mobile phones - in 30 countries. His estimated net worth: $6.8 billion.

    Carl Lindner, Jr.
    This billionaire dropped out of high school to deliver milk for his family's dairy. In 1984, Lindner bought Chiquita Brands International (formerly United Fruit Company and United Brands Company) and ran it until 2001. Lindner's estimated net worth: $1.7 billion.

    François Pinault
    It's hard to believe that the third-richest man in France -

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  • 7 "Bad" Things that Can Be Good for You

    1. Computer Games
    They isolate children socially and distract them from learning, right? Think again. Researchers have found that kids who clock up regular console time can improve their hand-eye coordination, their grip on science, even their IQ.

    A British study of 700 children found that simulation games developed children's strategic thinking and planning skills. And researchers from the Department of Computing Science at the University of Alberta suggest that computer games can be a great way to explain physics concepts. Their game Siege integrates the concept of projectile movement and brings the effects of wind velocity and vertical angle into play.

    In another project, done in 2004, students at Edmonton's Holy Trinity Catholic High School created their own computer-game stories. Findings showed that while only one third of the students were interested in writing a second story as a traditional narrative, two thirds wanted to write another interactive story - even if it meant

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  • The Weird Differences Between Dog and Cat People recently polled more than 200,000 pet owners to find out if they were dog people or cat people. The site then crossed those responses with lifestyle surveys and arrived at the following conclusions. Anything sound familiar?

    Dog people: 15% more likely to be extroverts
    Cat people: 11% more likely to be introverts

    Dog people: 36% more likely to use a pop song as a ringtone
    Cat people: 14% more likely to cling to friends at a party

    PLUS: 8 Crazy Cat Beds

    Dog people: 67% more likely to call animal control if they happen upon stray kittens
    Cat people: 21% more likely to try to rescue stray kittens

    Dog people: 11% more likely to say they'd support cloning, but only for animals or pets
    Cat people: 17% more likely to have completed a graduate degree

    Dog people: 18% more likely to consider Paul McCartney their favorite Beatle
    Cat people: 25% more likely to consider George Harrison their favorite Beatle

    PLUS: 13 Things You Didn't Know About Cats

    Dog people: 9% more likely

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