Blog Posts by Real Simple Magazine

  • Best Materials for Pots and Pans

    Michele GastlMichele GastlFour standouts and some considerations for each

    • Anodized Aluminum: This material, strengthened by a coating of aluminum oxide, takes time to warm up, but it evenly disperses heat throughout the pan, says Daniel Choi, Ph.D., a professor of metallurgy at the University of Idaho, in Moscow. Anything that's meant to cook slowly will benefit from an anodized-aluminum pot.
    • Cast Iron: "No kitchen is complete without a cast-iron skillet," says Food Network host and cookbook author Paula Deen. "Mine has always worked just as hard as I work." Cast iron gives a terrific sear to meats. Even slower to heat up than anodized aluminum (you'll need to pre-heat it on a medium-low flame for a minute or two), it maintains steady heat long after the burner is turned off, which works well when you want to keep foods warm. Many are sold preseasoned (the surface has been treated with a layer of cooked-on vegetable oil), but you can also season a pan at home. Just follow the manufacturer's
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  • Smart Storage Solutions

    Nine double-duty organizing products, whether your bedroom acts as your office or you just need to hide your stray bills in a stylish way

    Hidden Cabinet
    Try hanging the ilnnovators Concealed Cabinet on a wall; stash private documents inside it.
    To Buy: From $299,

    Unexpected Safes
    Consider Spy Yard's Diversion safes. The 7UP can ($7), Barbasol shaving-cream can ($13), and pillar candle ($21) are hollow, perfect for storing jewelry or cash.
    To Buy:

    Read How to Burglarproof Your Home at Real Simple.

    Secret Passage
    You've dreamed about it; now you can get it: a revolving bookcase (you know, the type you see in old movie mysteries) that swings open to reveal a room beyond.
    To Buy: From $2,000,

    Covert Home Office
    When closed, the Cyril cabinet appears to be a modern armoire. When open, it features a writing area, two drawers for holding CDs, and upper cabinets for concealing files.
    To Buy: $199,

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  • Meet Mallery Mayo

    Time Inc. StudiosTime Inc. StudiosShe's a work-at-home mom whose son seems to be the boss.

    Age: 38

    Home: Los Angeles, California

    Job: Research psychologist

    Family: Married to Terrance, with son Candler, 13 months

    I would describe myself as...
    The poster child for having a wonderful life -- but I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to enjoying it. I want to free myself of some of the stress so I can shine.

    Read Real Simple's Two-Week Stress-Less Plan.

    One thing I'm incredibly good at is...
    Picking great books to read.

    One thing I'm not-so-good at is...
    Fixing my hair.

    I wish I could...
    Entertain at home more. We always want to invite people over, but never ask them early enough.

    Read Real Simple's Guest Entertainment Ideas.

    I feel guilty about...
    Sometimes not being there for my son because of my career.

    My biggest time-saver is...
    Grocery shopping online. But finding the time to actually eat can be hard!

    My morning make-up routine takes...

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  • What's Your Eco-Downfall?

    I think it's true to say that the majority of us have taken steps to become more eco-friendly and conscious of the impact we have on the environment. For example, here are some of the changes I've made:

    • I carry reusable bags to the grocery store
    • I replaced my cleaning and laundry products with biodegradable options
    • I use public transportation
    • I recycle everything I can and donate instead of trashing appropriate items.
    • I replaced incandescent bulbs with CFLs

    But, even with those changes, I know I still have some work to do. For example -- I still use paper towels in the kitchen, and cleaning wipes at work (they are method, so I think I get at least 1/2 point for that).

    What is your eco-downfall? Anything you just can't seem to change?

    More from Real Simple:
    Earth-Friendly Cleaning Products
    Measure Your Car's Environmental Impact
    Save Money When Shopping

    Read More »from What's Your Eco-Downfall?
  • How to handle 3 sticky situations (including the fat behind question)

    Greg ClarkeGreg ClarkeTactical tips and talking points that can help you survive awkward elevator rides, unwelcome romantic advances, and other uncomfortable social scenarios

    Situation: A stranger walks by with his zipper down or arugula in his teeth.

    Solution: In many cases, it's not your place to step in. "If you're in a large group or the person is the CEO of the company, you don't have to say anything," says Jodi R. Smith, president of Mannersmith, an etiquette consulting firm based in Boston. However, if the faux pas is truly mortifying and no one is acting to correct it, look for a moment when the person is alone and quietly mention the problem. But always take care to distinguish between those times when a "flaw" can be fixed (such as toilet paper stuck to a shoe) and when it can't or might be intentional (a blouse that's too sheer).

    Read about Embarassing Fashion Moments.

    Situation: You run into someone whose last few phone calls you never returned.
    Solution: Accentuate the

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  • Budget Decorating in 5 Steps

    Holly BeckerHolly BeckerGreat decorating need not put you in debt. If your wallet is slim don't worry, I have a 10 step budget-friendly program that will make you feel better about your finances and your home. Here are some tips that come to mind the second I'm asked to help decorate on a budget, in no particular order...

    1.) Wallpaper: A spare roll can be all you need to transform a single wall, place on the exterior of dresser doors using Mod Podge, line shelves, a bookcase, or line the interior of a glass cabinet. Paint the exterior of the cabinet in a fresh new color, and viola! you have a brand new piece of furniture. With an exacto knife you can cut out a headboard silhouette using your favorite paper and place it on the wall behind your mattress if you don't already have a headboard. Wall decals are another affordable option.

    2.) Window Treatments: Often you can alter curtains in ways that transform the entire room. Add a thick red or patterned border to creamy white drapes. Paint a wooden

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  • Get your lingerie in order

    Michele GastlMichele GastlEven if your finances are spotless, your spice rack alphabetized, and your shoes stacked in easily identifiable boxes, your lingerie drawer is probably like most women's -- a tangled mass of straps and hooks and unmatched fabrics, with the bra you're looking for invariably somewhere in the middle. You deserve better. "For God's sake, it's the closest thing to your body," says lingerie designer Josie Natori, who keeps her bras and panties in drawers of their own, lined up like little soldiers. If the rest of your life isn't marching in tight formation, straightening out one unruly corner can give you a marvelously empowering sense of control (today the lingerie drawer, tomorrow the world); and besides, opening up a beautifully arranged drawerful of pretty panties all in a row each morning can be one of life's small pleasures. Here's how to do it.

    Out With the Old
    Your first job is to take all your underwear and dump it out on the bed. Why? Because before you can organize, you

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  • 10 Ways to Be Nice to Your Friends and Family

    Robyn LehrRobyn LehrAlmost effortless ways you can do a little good in the world

    • Channel your second-grade teacher and playfully give out gold-star stickers to all the people in your life -- young and old -- who somehow make your day a little easier.
    • If you know someone is going out to dinner to celebrate a special occasion, call the restaurant in advance and say you'll pick up the cost of her wine or dessert.
    • When someone is moving to a new city, supply friends and family members with stamped, preaddressed postcards. (Hand them out at the going-away party.) By the time the family pulls into the new driveway, there will be warm wishes awaiting them.
    • When you run across a newspaper or magazine article you think someone you know would find interesting, take a moment to clip it out. Attach a Post-it note that reads "Thought you'd enjoy" and drop it in the mail. This takes less time than writing a letter, but the gesture still shows the other person you're thinking about her. Laura Noss, who
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  • How much money is hiding in your house?

    Lucas AllenLucas AllenFinancial expert Farnoosh Torabi shows you how to find out if you're sitting on a gold mine. Literally.

    The Computer
    More than 15 million women post at least one blog entry a week, according to one 2008 study. If you're one of them, entice advertisers to your blog by suggesting products or adding a technical function -- two website traits desirable to advertisers, suggests Real Simple Real Life financial expert Farnoosh Torabi. Advertisers usually pay a CPM -- a rate based on 1,000 page views -- which can run from $10 to $20 per CPM.

    The Closet
    Sell retired handbags, scarves, and shoes to a consignment store. (A Prada messenger bag originally worth $500 could go for $150 on consignment.) To find a store near you, look under Consignment Services at (Watch a video on How to Organize Your Closet.)

    The Jewelry Box
    Turn gold scraps -- one hoop that's missing its mate, a broken bracelet -- into cash. Go to sites like Kitco and Monex Precious Metals

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  • Kitchen makeover: Reorganizing cabinets and drawers

    John GruenJohn GruenWhen the simple act of opening a cupboard is followed by the sound of breaking glass, it's time for an intervention

    Beth Jorgensen tries to be organized; she really does. About a year ago, for example, the 44-year-old mother of two from Fargo, North Dakota, decided to reorganize all her packed kitchen drawers, with mixed results. Among other things, she had heard that the dishes used most often should be kept closest to the dishwasher, so she decided to store the family's drinking glasses and stemware in an adjacent cabinet -- on a lazy Susan. A disaster waiting to happen with every spin? You betcha.

    Beth's husband, Mike, 41, a chiropractor, never liked the new system. Somehow, "it didn't make sense to him," she says. But Beth, a part-time legal assistant, couldn't face the idea of reorganizing yet again, even after she opened the door of another cabinet and watched her mother's cut-glass creamer fly out and smash to pieces.

    And there were more problems. Despite Beth's

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