Blog Posts by Real Simple Magazine

  • Best Ways to Enjoy Summer

    21 ideas to make the most of summer, from finding the ultimate beach reads to making a lobster roll.

    The Best Way to Catch Fireflies
    David TsayDavid Tsay
    How? With womanly wiles: "Fireflies blink to attract a mate," explains naturalist Lynn Havsall, director of programs at the George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History, in Bar Harbor, Maine. "Males fly around while females sit in trees, in shrubs, or on the ground. So find a female and watch her blinking pattern. Then imitate the pattern with a pen flashlight and the males will come to you."

    A plus: The bugs move slowly, so they're easy to trap in a jar. Punch some holes in the lid and add a little grass and a piece of fruit for moisture. Admire your pretty night-lights till bedtime, then let them go.

    Also See: Summer Party Planner

    The Best Way to Get In and Out of a Hammock
    Everyone looks good lazing in a hammock―it's getting in and out that's tricky. To make it less so, try these tips from Penny Waugh, a buyer for Ditte IsagerDitte Isager

    -Position your backside

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  • Should You Follow Mom’s Nutrition Tips?

    She said that eating your spinach would make you smarter and that carrots would improve your eyesight. Find out whether the scientific evidence supports Mom's 10 favorite food and diet credos.
    By Stacey Colino
    Lilli CarreLilli Carre

    Mom's Kitchen Wisdom
    When you were a (well-behaved, respectful) kid, you listened. But now that you're feeding yourself, should you be following all the advice that Mom dished out? To learn the truth, Real Simple consulted a panel of nutrition pros. While they didn't always agree, their opinions will give you-and your mother-something to chew on.

    Also See: What Ingenious Cleaning Tricks Did You Learn from Your Mom?

    "Spinach Is Brain Food"
    Lilli CarreLilli Carre
    Tara Gidus, M.S., registered dietitian and nutrition consultant based in Orlando, Florida, and the author of the book
    Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for Dummies ($20, Absolutely! Spinach is loaded with lutein, folate, and beta-carotene. These nutrients have been linked with preventing dementia. I know neurologists who recommend

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  • Summer Stain-Busters

    The best ways to remove barbecue sauce, grass, and other tough seasonal stains.
    By Tamara Frankfort; reporting by Madaline Sparks and Yolanda Wikiel

    Dana GallagherDana GallagherGrass

    Apply a paste made from an enzyme detergent, such as Wisk, and water, and let sit in a warm place for 30 minutes. Use an eyedropper to apply a solution of one part ammonia or white vinegar and two parts water to bleach any remaining stain. Rinse with cool water. Finish with a regular wash cycle.

    Treat with a combination solvent, such as Shout, and let sit for 15 minutes. Use an eyedropper to apply a solution of one part ammonia or white vinegar and two parts water to bleach any remaining stain. Rinse with cold water.

    Also See: Best Ways to Enjoy Summer

    Dana GallagherDana GallagherMud

    Let dry, then brush off as much as possible. Apply a gentle detergent, such as Woolite, and water. Rub to form suds, then rinse. Next, bleach any remaining stain with a combination of one part white vinegar and one part water.


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  • 5 Ways to Make Your Summer Items Last

    It's a cruel, cruel summer when the grill gets gunky and your white jeans get funky. These strategies will help keep everything shipshape through Labor Day. By Julia Edelstein and Yolanda Wikiel

    Beach Chair

    Midseason slump: The frame is starting to rust.

    How to beat it: "Salt is one of the main causes of rust," says John Carmona, the owner of the Rust Store, in Madison, Wisconsin, a business devoted to getting rid of the brown stuff. Before you fold up your chairs at the end of a beach day, "give them a quick rinse with fresh water to remove the salt," says Carmona. At home, use a towel to wipe them down before storing. For preventive care, you can coat the frame base with car wax: The oil will repel salt and water.

    See More: Summer Stain Busters

    White Jeans

    Midseason slump: They're turning dingy and yellow.

    How to beat it: One to two wears is the max you can get out of white jeans before cleaning them. "Unless a garment is 100 percent cotton, avoid

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  • Ways to (Subtly) Change the Topic of Conversation

    What's worse? Being (a) trapped in an elevator, (b) stuck on a train, or (c) stranded in a tiresome-or contentious-cocktail-party discussion? If you answered (c), read below. Five savvy experts, including a former FBI special agent and a bar manager, divulge their finest conversational exit strategies.
    By Michelle Crouch

    Leif ParsonsLeif Parsons
    1. Make a Pit Stop

    Back when I worked as an undercover officer for the FBI, if someone started asking me a lot of questions, I had to throw him off so he wouldn't figure out who I was. I would excuse myself, head to the restroom, and remain there for a few minutes. When I returned, I would immediately ask him about something new. It's much easier and less awkward to change the subject after you've taken a short break than to stop a conversation midstream. I still do this when I want to switch topics if I'm stuck next to someone on an airplane or at a social event.

    Joe Navarro, a former FBI special agent, is the author of What Every Body Is Saying ($20,

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  • Packing Light for a Weekend Trip

    You can get through a whole weekend-at the beach, in the country, or in the city-with no more than six key clothing pieces.

    What's the Combination?
    Jim FrancoJim FrancoWhen it comes to packing for a getaway, there's generally a bit of a struggle: You want to bring enough clothing to see you through all scenarios, but you don't want to lug around an extensive wardrobe-especially in the era of baggage fees. The key to success on both counts: strategic packing. To see you through a weekend away at the beach, in the country, or in the city, Karen Montgomery, the creator of the Simple Packing travel planning kit, has picked essential pieces and worked out how to combine them for maximum usage. Just add two well-chosen pairs of shoes-one that will work day to night (such as a pair of metallic sandals), one that can double as slippers (canvas slip-ons, flip-flops)-and you'll be good to go. Yosi Samra's patent-leather flats are space-savers: They bend to tuck into any corner of your bag (from $66,

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  • How to Treat Bug Bites

    Experts weigh in on how to treat the suffering inflicted by seven common insects and answer a few truly pest(ering) questions.
    By Karen Asp

    Mosquito Bite
    Symptoms: A soft pink or red bump; intense itching; less commonly, hives.
    Grant CornettGrant Cornett
    How to treat:
    Wash with soap and water and use cold compresses to reduce itching. Some swear by a thick paste of water and baking soda; apply to the skin, allow to dry, then brush off. "There's no clinical evidence that this works, but it can't hurt," says Donald V. Belsito, a professor of clinical dermatology at Columbia University. If you develop hives, take an antihistamine, such as Benadryl, and then apply an over-the-counter cream with 1 percent hydrocortisone. Avoid scratching; breaking the skin could cause infection.

    Good to know:
    Mosquitoes can transmit a number of diseases. The greatest concern in the United States is the West Nile virus, a potentially serious illness that can cause fever, head and body aches, and vomiting, says Robert L. Norris, the chief of

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  • How to Save when Dining Out

    …and other penny-pinching secrets from an anonymous waiter.
    By an anonymous waiter, as told to Stephanie Taylor Christensen
    "If you become a regular at a local restaurant, you can reduce your costs. This is how: After repeat visits, you'll be able to acknowledge your server by name or mention a detail from your last meal. Gestures like these help you get more personalized attention-as well as free stuff, like complimentary appetizers or beverages. To save on drinks when dining with a group, order individual sodas or cocktails rather than a pitcher. The large container appears to be cheaper, but it's often filled with more ice than liquid and is therefore not a bargain. You can also spend less on wine and beer by asking for recommendations from the bartender or server. Say, "If you were ordering, which Pinot Noir would you think was the most reasonably priced?" He should suggest a wallet-friendly option.

    "As for entrées, avoid chicken and pasta. These are the cheapest items to

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  • How to Grill Nearly Anything

    This primer covers everything from hot dogs to cherry tomatoes. As for seasoning, most foods will taste great if you add just a little salt, pepper, and olive oil beforehand. If you want even more flavor, try a rub or a marinade.
    By Dawn Perry
    Also See: Cooking New Uses for Old Things

    How to Grill Beef
    Comstock/Getty ImagesComstock/Getty ImagesBurgers
    HEAT: Direct (uncovered), high.
    TIME: 3 to 5 minutes per side.
    INTERNAL TEMPERATURE: 140° F for medium.
    TIP: Don't press down on the patties during cooking or you'll squeeze out the delicious juices.

    Hot Dogs
    HEAT: Direct (uncovered), medium-high.
    TIME: 5 to 7 minutes, turning occasionally.

    Steaks, ¾ to 1 Inch Thick
    (such as flank and New York strip)
    HEAT: Direct (uncovered), medium-high.
    TIME: 3 to 5 minutes per side.
    INTERNAL TEMPERATURE: 130° F for medium-rare.
    TIP: For the best sear, turn steaks just once halfway through.

    Steaks, 1 to 1½ Inches Thick
    (such as rib-eye and porterhouse)
    HEAT: Direct (uncovered), medium-high, then indirect (covered), medium-high.

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  • Pet-Themed New Uses for Old Things

    The hidden talents for common household items.

    Antonis AchilleosAntonis Achilleos
    Rubber Glove as Pet Hair Remover

    Put on a damp rubber dishwashing glove and run your hand over hair-covered upholstery-the hair will cling to the glove, not the sofa. Rinse off the glove in the sink (with the drain catcher in place, of course).

    Also See: Ask Real Simple: How Do I Get Rid of Pet Hair?

    Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden ElstranErica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran
    Bleach Bottle as Cat Litter Scoop

    Cut diagonally across the middle of an empty, clean bottle, toss the base, and use the half with the handle to scoop up soil or cat litter.

    Also See: Where Should I Put a Cat-Litter Box?

    Erica McCartney; Styling: Linden ElstranErica McCartney; Styling: Linden Elstran
    Olive Oil as Cat Food Supplement

    Prevent hair balls. Add ⅛ to 1¼ teaspoon to your cat's food for easy digestion.

    Also See: New Cat Owner Checklist

    John LawtonJohn Lawton
    Key Protectors as Jingle Stoppers

    You love your dog and can even tolerate the occasional barking. But you could do without the incessant jinglejangle of his tags. Well, here's a new trick for you: Cover them with rubber key protectors.

    Courtesy of reader Jayne Burns of

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