Blog Posts by Real Simple Magazine

  • 9 Strategies to Sharpen Your Memory

    Wish your powers of recall were as powerful as this elephant's? Here are nine mind-sharpening strategies that can help.

    By Alice Oglethorpe


    Christopher Griffith Memory lapses can be both embarrassing (what's my neighbor's kid's name again?) and troubling (is senility coming on?). But a few slipups don't necessarily doom you to a future of utter forgetfulness. A memory is made by linking two or more of the 100 billion nerve cells in your brain, called neurons, then solidifying the connection so you can use it later, says Neal Barnard, an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine, in Washington, D.C. And "your brain continues to develop neurons and build new connections to strengthen memory as you age, a phenomenon called neuroplasticity," says Brianne Bettcher, a neuropsychology fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, Memory and Aging Center. "So it's never too late to improve your powers of recall." That's where these nine

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  • How to Get it All Done: A Thanksgiving Timeline

    Amy NeunsingerSpend more time planning and you'll spend less time panicking, says New Jersey native Judith Bluysen, co-owner of Thanksgiving, an American grocery store, restaurant, and catering business in Paris. Each fall Bluysen and her team of five prepare more than 150 take-out turkeys and turkey dinners. She sticks to a schedule. Here's how you can, too.


    See More on RealSimple.com:

    How to Roast Thanksgiving Turkey

    10 Recipe Ideas for Stuffing

    Thanksgiving Dinner Without Stress


    3 Weeks Before

    Decide which recipes you want to make, keeping in mind that there's only so much one person―and one kitchen―can do. If you really do need 10 side dishes, look for recipes that use the same oven temperature, so they can cook at the same time, says Bluysen.

    After you narrow down your menu, reread the recipes that remain. Most can be broken into steps that you can do ahead of time. Then make a list of what you want to get done on each of the days leading up to Thanksgiving, says

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  • Should You Try These Fad Diets?

    Yasu + JunkoIf you're looking for a life-changing nutrition fix (and who isn't?), read this before you head to the health-food store. Experts reveal the truth about the latest diet fads, from bee pollen to the paleo diet.


    By Janet Lee


    See More:

    The 30 Healthiest Foods

    The Best Frozen Hors d'Oeuvres

    Green Smoothies

    The trend explained: These super-concentrated blends of green vegetables and fruit can deliver your five daily servings in one glass. They're usually packed with the kinds of leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, that we don't consume enough of. Sometimes made with almond or coconut milk, they taste sweet, not bitter. Whether made from fresh produce or from a powdered mix of dried greens, these smoothies are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Proponents claim they boost energy and overall health.

    Expert opinion: "The phytonutrients in green smoothies may help lower inflammation in your body, which could help reduce your risk

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  • Surprising Fixes for Kitchen Spills and Slip-Ups

    GK Hart & Vicky Hart/Getty ImagesGK Hart & Vicky Hart/Getty ImagesHere's how to clean up mundane (and maddening) kitchen messes.
    Related: 7 Common Cooking Mistakes


    Splatters in the Microwave

    Combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 cup water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat the mixture in the microwave to a boil; let it boil for 3 minutes and stand for 5 minutes to allow the steam to loosen the debris, says Marie Stegner, a consumer-health advocate for Maid Brigade, a national green-housecleaning service. Wipe down the walls with a damp microfiber cloth and the mess should disappear. To remove any lingering smells, heat a small bowl filled with 1/2 cup water and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract just until it comes to a boil. Leave the door closed, with the bowl inside, overnight.


    Spill That Seeped Under the Oven or Refrigerator

    For wooden floors, mix 1/3 cup white vinegar andSteven Errico/Getty ImagesSteven Errico/Getty Images 1/2 gallon warm water. Note: If your wooden floors are waxed, avoid vinegar and use a waxed-floor cleaner, such as Parsley Plus All Surface Cleaner ($6

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  • Playdate Etiquette for Parents

    You've taught your kids to play nicely with others. Now how can you do the same with fellow moms? Here's how to handle common parent-to-parent etiquette challenges gracefully.

    Related Links:

    11 Ideas for Fun Family Activities

    How to Joke Around with Kids

    Doctor's Tips for Keeping Your Kids Healthy


    By Rory EvansRead More »from Playdate Etiquette for Parents
  • 5 Lessons You Can Learn from Classic Novels

    "A great book should leave you with many experiences," Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist William Styron once said. Here, five noted authors share the life-changing wisdom they discovered inside their favorite timeless reads. By Kate Rockwood

    Related: Revisit Your Favorite Children's Books

    ShoutEmbrace Individuality

    I read The World According to Garp, by John Irving, the year I graduated from college, and I identified with Garp in so many ways: He wanted to be a writer, and he was trying to be an adult, but he messed everything up. However, the most memorable message from the novel was illustrated by outcasts, like the transsexual ex-football player and the woman without a tongue, who finally found a community to call home. These characters showed me that people can be accepting of each other's eccentricities, which is a big lesson to take from a book that is, in many ways, a romp. You have to give people room to be who they are and to let their true colors show.

    Sara Nelson is the

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  • How to Slow Down and Enjoy Life

    Sometimes it seems as though days have two speeds: hurried and breakneck. Want to learn how to hop off the roller coaster? Five savvy experts who know all about the fast track-including a website founder and a race-car driver-share their strategies.
    By Kaija Helmetag

    Also See:
    What Does Your Handwriting Say About You?


    Leif ParsonsLeif Parsons1. Play
    My time at work is spent on demanding, intense tasks that have specific objectives, but I have almost no routine on the job. So having rituals at home that aren't goal-oriented provides a calm point in an otherwise unpredictable day. When I'm playing with my children-whether we're reading books, jumping on the trampoline, dancing, or pretending that we're animals-there are no deadlines that need to be met. These are activities that are solely about being in the present. And when I put my son to bed every night, as I have done since he was an infant, it marks a nice, quiet part of the day that I would find hard to live without. It is a tradition that I will not

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  • How to Organize Your Refrigerator Drawers and Shelves

    Like real estate, cold storage is all about location. Shelf or drawer? High or low? Follow this expert fridge-packing plan to keep contents fresh.
    By Nicole Sforza
    Also See: 11 Surprising Items That Require Cold Storage
    Tom SchierlitzTom Schierlitz
    1. Eggs do best where the temperature is most consistent-on the middle shelf. Store in the original cartons (don't transfer to the fridge egg container).

    2. Milk tends to land on the top shelf, but it should be on the bottom, all the way in back, where it's coldest.

    3. Yogurt, sour cream, and cottage cheese fare best on the bottom shelf for the same reason. Stack items on a turntable to keep everything accessible and expiration dates visible.


    Also See: 5 Healthy Low-Fat Snacks From the Grocery Store


    4. Packaged raw meat should go on the super-cold bottom shelf. And if juices drip, they won't contaminate the whole fridge.

    5. Vegetables stay fresh longer with a bit of humidity. The drawer labeled vegetables or high humidity is the moistest spot in

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  • I Don’t Know How to Love You

    The bond between mother and child is said to be unbreakable. But what happens when the child is hard to reach? Alysia Abbott reflects on the challenging journey she has taken with her son-and shares the love lesson she received from a most unexpected source. By Alysia Abbott
    Related: Portraits of Love: How One Father Captured the True Essence of His Autistic Son

    Within the past year, my husband and I stopped showing up in the many drawings and cards our five-year-old daughter, Annabel, brought home from school. Instead nearly every creation was made for him: her "baby"; her "cutie boy"; her brother, Finn. A map to Candy Land for Annabel and Finny. A valentine for Finny. A magnet for Finny. Whenever she drew herself in a picture, he was always there, always small, sometimes crying. And whenever her name appeared, just below she wrote his, connecting the dot in the i of his name to the l in her name so that it resembled a lollipop. When we recently moved to a bigger home, Annabel was

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  • 10 Things You Should Not Refrigerate

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