Blog Posts by Real Simple Magazine

  • The Worst Cleaning Jobs Made Easy

    The quickest, smartest strategies for battling eight universally despised tasks.
    By Sarah Stebbins

    Dirty Job No. 1 : Changing or Emptying the Vacuum Bag or Bin
    Scott & ZoëScott & Zoë
    Time it takes: 5 to 10 minutes.

    Why it matters: When the bag is more than half full, the vacuum loses suction. The fuller it gets, the harder the machine works. Eventually it could work so hard, the motor will burn out.

    Step 1: Run the vacuum for 30 seconds to push any residual dirt in the machine into the bag. Unplug.

    Step 2:
    If you have a disposable bag: Before pulling out the bag, stick a piece of duct tape over the hole where the bag connects to the vacuum, says Louanna Henning, director of housekeeping at the luxury hotel Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, in Dallas. This will prevent a dust cloud from erupting in your face.

    If you have a reusable cloth bag or a plastic bin (as on a bagless vacuum): Work outdoors. Put the bag or bin inside a garbage bag and shake out the dust, says Debra Johnson, training manager for the

    Read More »from The Worst Cleaning Jobs Made Easy
  • Fake it with Takeout

    Put a new twist on takeout food to impress your guests.
    By Melissa Clark

    Caren AlpertCaren Alpert
    Tiny-Size Pizza Pies

    Start with: A large cheese pizza. (Ask for it unsliced and, if possible, slightly underbaked.)

    To make: Avoiding the crust, cut out mini pizzas with round cookie or biscuit cutters. Heat the rounds at 400º F for about 5 minutes. Top with slices of olives, marinated mushrooms, chopped prosciutto, an anchovy fillet, or fresh herbs (such as basil, flat-leaf parsley, rosemary, thyme, or oregano).

    See More: 10 Instant Hors d'Oeuvres

    Mediterranean Bruschetta

    Start with: Garlic bread from your favorite Italian spot.

    To make: Slather slices with prepared marinara or pesto sauce. Top with mozzarella or goat cheese, a marinated pepper, or an oil-packed sun-dried tomato, then toast in the oven.

    Also try: Hummus po' boys. Spread hot garlic bread with hummus and top with coleslaw or lettuce and tomato. Cap with more hot, crunchy bread.

    See More:10 Delicious, Easy Desserts

    Chicken- or
    Read More »from Fake it with Takeout
  • Easy Party Dips

    Spice up your party with one of these super-simple dip recipes.

    By Dawn Perry

    Tom SchierlitzTom Schierlitz

    Tomatillo and Avocado Dip

    Serves 8 (makes 2 cups)| Hands-On Time: 15m | Total Time: 15m


    4 medium tomatillosm husked and quartered
    1 avocado, pitted and peeled
    1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
    1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
    1/4 white onion, chopped
    2 tablespoons lime juice
    kosher salt and black pepper
    blue corn tortilla chips, for serving

    11 calories per one tablespoon


    1. In a food processor, combine the tomatillos, avocado, jalapeño, cilantro, onion, and lime juice and pulse until the mixture is the texture of relish. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Serve with the tortilla chips.

    See More: 22 Crowd-Pleasing Dip Recipes

    Tom SchierlitzTom Schierlitz

    Lemon, Pepper, and Pecorino Dip

    Serves 8 (makes 1 1/4 cups)| Hands-On Time: 05m | Total Time: 05m


    1 cup sour cream
    1/2 cup grated Pecorino
    1 tablespoon finely Read More »from Easy Party Dips
  • Great Valentine's Day Gifts for Her

    It's time to show her the love. These affordable Valentine's Day gifts top out at $50 and are sure to wow the special woman in your life.


    Caribbean Swirl Sunhat

    This raffia straw hat, bursting in shades of pink and red, has a generous brim that will shield her from the strong rays, whether working in the garden or lounging by the pool.

    To buy: $48,

    See More: Valentine's Day Gifts For Him

    Lancome Juicy Tubes Gift Set

    A dream come true for the lady who is constantly reapplying. A set of six shiny glosses in festive shades like Pink Bling, Spring Fling, and Magic Spell.

    To buy: $29.50,

    See More: Valentine's Day Gifts For Home

    Diane von Furstenberg Heart-in-Ear Headphones

    For the girl on-the-go: A pair of earphones-with a stylish heart on each bud-for breaking out during her morning commute or Saturday run in the park.

    To buy: $25,

    See More: Valentine's Day

    Read More »from Great Valentine's Day Gifts for Her
  • Delectable Desserts for Valentine's Day

    Romantic Brownie Sundaes
    Serves 2 | Hands-On Time: 15m | Total Time: 1hr 00m


    1/4 cup all-purpose flour

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    1/4 teaspoon baking soda

    2 tablespoons cocoa powder

    3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or semisweet chocolate chips

    3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing foil

    1/2 cup granulated sugar

    1 large egg, plus 1 yolk

    1 teaspoon vanilla

    strawberry ice cream, for serving

    Raspberry Sauce, for serving

    Calories: 875

    1. Heat oven to 325°. Line an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan with aluminum foil, leaving some extra foil along the sides of the pan to aid in lifting out the brownies. Grease the foil with soft butter.
    2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa. Set aside.
    3. Place the chocolate pieces and butter in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. When the chocolate has just melted, remove from heat. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk in the reserved flour
    Read More »from Delectable Desserts for Valentine's Day
  • Homemade Valentine's Day Decorations

    Mix and Match Votives

    Give those scraps of paper headed to the recycling bin a second shot to shine. This idea works with all kinds of paper-even your kids' artwork.

    What you need:

    Assorted paper, Washi Tape, Ribbon

    Double-sided Tape


    1. Wrap paper around votive for sizing; cut to necessary length. Adhere strips of paper to votive with double-sided tape.
    2. Be creative and have some fun. Wrap some with just paper and layer others with ribbon and tape.

    See More: Wonderful Quotes on Happiness

    Paper Flower Wreath

    Think tissue paper is only destined for gift boxes? Think again. This winter we're putting it on display.

    What you need:


    Tissue Paper

    Floral Wire

    Styrofoam Wreath

    Hot Glue Gun

    1. Cut tissue paper into 8"x 5" rectangles. Placing the lighter colors on top, stack 4-6 pieces of tissue paper on top of one another. Make ½" to 1" accordion fold creasing with each fold.
    2. Fold floral wire and put over center of folded tissue and
    Read More »from Homemade Valentine's Day Decorations
  • Classic Comfort Foods Made Healthy

    Here are blue plate specials with nutritious twists―so you can enjoy these beautiful dishes even more, without sacrificing one ounce of good taste.
    by Sara Quessenberry and Kate Merker

    Beef Stroganoff. Real Simple/Maria RobledoBeef Stroganoff With Yogurt and Dill
    Serves 4| Hands-On Time: 25m | Total Time: 25m
    12 ounces multigrain noodles
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1 pound sirloin steak, thinly sliced kosher salt and pepper
    1 pound button mushrooms, sliced
    4 shallots, sliced
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
    1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

    • Calories 535 Calories From Fat 22%

    See more: Comfort Food in a Bowl


    Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the steak with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. In 2 batches, cook the steak until browned, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the remaining oil. Add the mushrooms and shallots; cook,

    Read More »from Classic Comfort Foods Made Healthy
  • Organize Your Cleaning Supplies

    David PrinceDavid PrinceHow to tackle the biggest challenges of your broom closet.

    Find a Storage Space
    "During your precious Saturday hours, an organized, fully stocked broom closet will save you time, motivate you, and remind you what you need to do," says Cheryl Mendelson, author of Home Comforts ($20, If you don't have a whole closet to devote to cleaning supplies, part of a pantry, a nook under the staircase, or a corner of a room will work, too.

    See More: Cleaning Supplies We Love

    David PrinceDavid PrinceOrganize Your Cleaning Rags

    Rags everywhere.
    Solution: Don't put dirty rags back in the closet. It's too hard to distinguish between clean and dirty ones. Launder them after use. Keep small clean rags in a hanging bag so you don't have to worry about folding or stacking them. Larger towel rags can be stacked on a shelf.

    See More: Surprising Cleaning New Uses

    David PrinceDavid PrinceStore Your Vacuum Cleaner

    The vacuum cleaner is bulky, and the hose is always in the way.
    Solution: Position your vacuum cleaner front

    Read More »from Organize Your Cleaning Supplies
  • 10 Ways to Embrace Change

    John KernickJohn KernickBlindsided by a job loss, the author learned that the unfamiliar isn't to be feared: It can be a chance to turn your life around.
    By Katherine Russell Rich

    When it came to change, my father had it licked. His motto was simply "Don't let it happen to you." He proudly wore the same tie he'd had since college. He moved house just three times--ever. But his town and his life were epicenters of low upheaval. For most of us, change is an unavoidable fact, something I (re)discovered when, several years back, I lost my job in a shrinking industry. Far from ruining my life, that seismic shift gave me the chance to do two things I had always hoped to do: live in India and learn a new language (Hindi). In the process, I discovered a lot about how to survive when head-rattling transformations are thrust upon you. Here are some of the tricks I picked up along the way.

    See More: How to Cope With Loss

    1. Don't just do something; sit there.
    If you're facing a massive rescaling of your life, your

    Read More »from 10 Ways to Embrace Change
  • How to Get Over Overthinking

    Chris BuckChris BuckAre you lost in thoughts about what you could have, would have, should have done differently? Here are directions to help you find your way out.
    By Amy Maclin

    You share an elevator with your boss and she doesn't say hello. Do you tell yourself that she's quiet because it's the end of a long day? Or is this your mental ticker tape?

    She's disappointed because my morning report had a typo. Why wasn't I motivated enough to go to medical school instead? Because my parents never encouraged me. That's why I'm so insecure, which is probably why my marriage is in trouble.

    See More: 10 Ways to Cope With Anxiety

    When Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living," this is most likely not what he had in mind. Persistently dwelling on distressing situations from the recent or distant past (called rumination, as in that thing a cow does when it constantly rechews food) can be one of the most destructive mental habits. It's closely linked to depression, and it can sap our confidence, our

    Read More »from How to Get Over Overthinking


(900 Stories)