March 2013 - Posts

What's for Dinner? Four Tips for Healthy Weeknight Meals
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 8:11 PM

Getting a healthy, delicious dinner on the table each night is the Holy Grail of working parents. Our four simple tips help answer the nightly "what's for dinner?" question.

Greatest Hits: Do yourself a favor and commit to a weeknight rotation of four to six basic recipes that can be easily assembled and altered for variety. Roast chicken is simple; dress it up with an array of sides. Ditto grilled lean meats and fish. Chopped salads are also easy; just vary the ingredients for a fresh take. Shop on Saturday, prep foods Sunday (chopping veggies for the week or roasting a chicken for use in weeknight meals) and keep a running grocery list during the week so you can fill pantry holes during next weekend's shop.

Teen Chefs: Turn meal-planning over to your teens once a week. In My Sons, The Sous-Chefs,  NYT reporter Leslie Kaufman recounts how with some prep work (i.e. providing basic kitchen training and guidance on recipe selection) she was able to outsource two meals a week to her teen sons. Even tweens can help pitch in; have them assemble ingredients, defrost meats and prepared foods, make a simple salad and set the table so you save time each night.

Prep Work: Who has time to plan in advance? You do that's who. Take an hour each week to plan meals, grocery shop online and prep the basics (chopping, roasting) over the weekend.  An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of take-out. You will be amazed at how small investments of pre-planning yield delicious meals. For menu ideas read, Easy Weeknight Dinners. 

Fake It: Who says dinner needs to be made from scratch? Savvy weeknight chefs rely on pre-made and store-bought ingredients to get dinner from to-do to done. Read Fake-It, Don't Make it: 25 Recipes to see how simple short-cuts can put dishes like chicken tostadas and fish tacos on your dinner table quickly and easily.



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5 Documents Your Older Parent Needs
Friday, March 08, 2013 7:52 PM

Remember that awkward birds-and-the-bees chat with your parents about a zillion years ago? Now, as your parents approach retirement, it's time for another slightly uncomfortable talk: this time about finances and legal paperwork. Even if your parents are still active and healthy, the day will come when they need assistance. Make sure to prepare five key documents to protect their finances and health. And if you have children of your own, do them a favor by getting these documents for yourself.


Everyone needs a will, regardless of age and assets. Without a will, the courts will follow state law to distribute your assets. A will makes clear how you wish your personal effects to be distributed and helps avoid disagreements over the estate after death.

Revocable Living Trust

If you die with only a will in place, the courts need to undergo a process known as probate, a legal stamp of approval, which can cost as much as five percent of an estate and take up to a year. Talk about inheriting a legal tangle! Spare your heirs this process by setting up a revocable living trust, which allows you to retain control over your estate while making transfers to beneficiaries. Upon death, the trust protects the estate from probate.

Living Will 

Also known as a medical or health directive, a living will allows your parent to spell out what type of care your loved one wishes to receive if they become terminally ill and incapacitated.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health-Care

Ask your parent to designate a trusted person with a durable power of attorney to make healthcare decisions in case of incapacitation. Make sure it has a HIPPA release that allows access to health records and physicians.

Durable Power of Attorney for Finances 

Make managing your loved one's bills possible with this document which allows you to administer your loved one's financial affairs, pay their bills, dispose of property, etc.  



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Women & Work
Monday, March 04, 2013 8:24 PM

March is Women's History Month and this March comes on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the publication of what is widely considered a seminal work of American feminism, Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique."   Much has changed since Friedan first wrote her book in the 1960's and much has not. To wit: the New York Times recently ran a fascinating opinion piece titled, "Why Gender Equality Stalled."   Has gender equality stalled? Read the piece and draw your own conclusions. But no matter your viewpoint, what is without dispute is that women make up nearly half of the American workforce and are on track to be an even larger percentage in coming years.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women in the workforce in 2010:

  • Comprised 47 percent of the total U.S. labor force.
  • Are projected to account for 51 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018.
  • 66 million women were employed in the U.S.--73 percent of employed women worked on full-time jobs, while 27 percent worked on a part-time basis.
  • And of 123 million women age 16 years and over in the U.S., 72 million, or 58.6 percent, were labor force participants-working or looking for work.

Here's to the women who make work work, both at home and in the workforce.




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Organizing an Elderly Parent’s Paperwork
Monday, March 04, 2013 7:47 PM

What would happen if you unexpectedly needed to take over your aging parents' finances? With people living longer, adult children are increasingly tasked with caring for aging parents. Are you prepared? If the answer is no, do yourself a favor and get a handle on the paperwork before an emergency strikes. This round-up of advice will help you, and your aging parents, navigate the paper trail.

The Talk: The first step in providing assistance is to get all parties to agree that help is needed. Open, compassionate communication is essential. Speak candidly, but kindly, to your parent about why you want to get involved in managing their finances or paperwork either now or down the road. Listen actively and carefully to their concerns so you can better assuage any fears. Make clear that you want to work with them as partners. For more tips on discussing sensitive issues, read the advice in How to Talk with Elderly Parents about Tough Family Issues.

Must-Know Facts: Money talk is often considered an impolite subject but in order to help your parents, candor is required. Plan for a time when you aren't hurried or distracted to have a frank and thorough conversation about your parents' finances. For starters, where do your parents keep their financial records? Are they working with a financial planner? Do they have a durable power of attorney to manage their finances should they become incapacitated? Ask for a thorough inventory, or create one of your own, that identifies crucial financial accounts, insurance and passwords or keys to access online documents or safety deposit boxes. For more ideas of what you need to know to be helpful, read 10 Things You Should Know About Your Parents' Finances. 

Tax Man: Tax season means paperwork. Help your parents greet the tax man with the advice in Your Aging Parents and Tax Season: A Getting-Started Guide. The article has useful advice on determining whether or not your parents even need to file (many seniors have income that falls below the IRS threshold) and tips on how to claim your parent as a dependent.

Bill Paying: Keeping up with monthly bills is a big job. Let your parents know you can help pitch in or take over the job entirely. Get started by assessing their annual income and monthly expenses. Then, you can help your parent write the checks, or if you have power of attorney, pay the bills directly from their accounts.  Keep in mind that unless your parent is totally incapacitated, that it's still their money and they should choose how and when to spend it. But keep an eye on credit card statements and the bottom line; the elderly are often scammed by telemarketers or are taken advantage of by friends, family or caregivers.

Helpful Tools: Taking on your parents' finances and paperwork in addition to your own can seem daunting. We've rounded up some useful tools to keep all the trains running on time. For the caregiver who prefers old-fashioned papers to digital, The Senior Organizer is a handy workbook designed to assist in gathering crucial personal, medical, legal and financial information. For smartphone-savvy app lovers, elder-care website has a useful article on apps to help with all your elder care needs: 12 Handy Apps for Caregivers. 



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5 Tips for Combating the Office Flu
Friday, March 01, 2013 7:45 PM

Hey groundhog, what early spring? Much of the East Coast is still getting walloped by wintery weather: cold and flu season is dragging on for the time-being. Read on for tips for dodging winter illnesses while at work.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat: Your mother was right. Washing your hands is the best source of defense against flu and cold germs. Make hand-washing a regular habit when you first arrive at the office and throughout the day. Lather up and scrub for at least 20 seconds-sing the A, B, Cs in your head to gauge proper scrubbing time-and you are good to go. In a pinch, use a hand sanitizer but make sure it contains at least 60 percent alcohol for maximum effectiveness.

Rest Up: A good night's sleep is clinically proven to help ward off cold germs so log at least seven, or better yet eight, hours of shut-eye on a regular basis. A rested body is a healthier body.

Colorful Diet: Add bright berries and colorful veggies to your workday diet to boost your immune system with powerful antioxidants. For more immune boosting eats, read 10 Flu Fighting Foods. And maintain optimum energy levels all day long with the ideas from our past post Healthy Office Eats. Yup, It's Possible. 

Reduce Stress: Take steps to reduce stress which can undermine your immune system. Add regular, moderate exercise to your daily routine and consider relaxation techniques such as mediation or journaling. Even a brisk 15-minute walk midday can be enough to boost your energy levels and reinvigorate your immune system. For other ideas, read Stress Less: Seven Simple Ideas to Cut Stress.

Add Tea, Subtract Wine: Even moderate consumption of alcohol can compromise immune response, so consider teetotaling during cold and flu season. Instead, add green or herbal teas to your evening's routine for both their antioxidant and relaxing properties. 



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