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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
to the U.S. Department of Labor, women in the workforce in 2010:
Here's to the women
who make work work, both at home and in the workforce.
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
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 AgingCare.com http://bit.ly/49NVi has a useful article on apps to help
with all your elder care needs: 12 Handy Apps for Caregivers.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Teen clutter seems to proliferate faster than a hot You-Tube
video goes viral. Stop the runaway mess before it engulfs your home (or your
teen's room) with a few simple steps.
Make your teen a partner in clutter control. Teens crave privacy
and self-determination so consider letting them have more leeway in deciding
how clean to keep their own rooms. For example, clutter may be off-limits in
the family room, but permitted within reason in their bedrooms. When you enlist
your teen as a partner, and respect their growing ability and need for
self-determination, you better the odds of harmonious cohabitation.
Determine your own clutter threshold for the household and lay
down clear ground rules. Examples might include a "no food" policy for bedrooms,
requiring a clear exit path between the bed and the door for safety reasons,
and a rule that if any bad smells come from a bedroom, it then needs a thorough
cleaning by the teen. If these conditions are all met, grit your teeth about
the piles of laundry and other annoyances.
Everything in its
Place: Take time to evaluate your teen's room to determine if
they have the needed tools for neatness. Do they have adequate storage? If not,
consider investing in inexpensive shelving such as Ikea's Expedit units which can easily hold files for school papers and baskets and
bins for corralling small items and clothing. Work with, not against your teen:
if they don't fold and store clothes neatly, buy bins to hold clothing piles and
install a rack of pegs or hooks to easily capture garments.
Less is More: If the room is overstuffed with toys and clothes, encourage a
purge. Donating or selling the unused items can net your teen some money and
creates a more manageable set of belongings. Maintain order by doing a big
purge at least twice a year. Good times for purging are after major gift events
such as Christmas or birthdays.
House Rules: While teens may have leeway in their rooms, parents have every
right to set conditions about how shared rooms are managed. Rather than nag
constantly, assign every family member a chore that keeps order in shared
rooms. And give family members a designated basket or bin to be kept in the
mudroom or family room. Odds and ends can be tossed in the bins during nightly
clean up and emptied on the weekends.
incredibly creative and fun. Creating clever ways to store your craft supplies
can be just as rewarding. We've rounded up some ingenious DIY storage ideas
from a bevy of clever crafters.
Repurpose Old Furniture: A fresh coat of paint and shelves full of
colorful craft supplies can brighten any room. See how this former china hutch now does duty as a craft
station. Remember those bulky TV armoires?
Supersize flat screen TVs all but made them obsolete, but resourceful crafters
give them new life as storage centers. Why stop with furniture? This ingenious
crafter uses a wine rack to store ribbons, going from cheers
Recycle Household Goods: Old
coffee cans get upgraded to storage containers with pretty paper
and attractive labels. For stacked storage, use several dressed up soup cans in
a pyramid shape, seen here. Other trash-to-treasure
ideas include repurposing tissue rolls to hold pencils
and paint brushes and transforming empty
spaghetti sauce jars into ribbon-trimmed glass canisters. Cheap and
chic! We also love using
items designed for one purpose, such as a spice rack, for another purpose entirely,
such as storing sewing
See Clearly: Clear
not only make it easy to organize
and find craft supplies, they are a visual treat. No need to spend a fortune on
store bought containers, repurpose pantry items like baby food containers seen here or other food jars, decorated with painted lids and whimsical
Pegboard: We think pegboard is an organizing
wunderkind. See how it a savvy sewer uses it here to
store spools of thread, scissors and ribbons. Or attach hanging cups to capture pens and pencils. We love how this
pegboard marries storage and colorful décor.
Hang on!: Short on shelf
space? Task hangers with storing goods in oversize ziplock bags, seen here. Or repurpose pant hangars into ribbon holders.
Clever Craft Spaces: Crafters, sewers,
scrapbookers...your imaginations are limitless. There is no end to your clever
storage ideas: we leave you with two we love/ One, a cunning little nook with a hinged drop down desk, built into the
eaves of a home. The other, a tiny vintage suitcase,
outfitted to house
craft supplies; it's equal parts storage and style.
Pet lovers, you know there is nothing better in the
world then a furry friend. But keeping track of all the kibble and bits,
leashes, and assorted pet paperwork (vaccination schedules anyone?) isn't
always a walk in the park. Keep a tight leash on pet needs with our round up of
Products: Nothing beats pegboard for organizing odds and ends. Create
a dedicated board for your pet supplies inside a coat closet door or on a wall
in your mudroom and never misplace a leash or pet brush again. Add a hanging
organizer with clear front pockets to capture supplies such as vitamins,
shampoos and chew toys.
Station: Consider creating a designated pet station for your
four-legged friends that houses both food and water bowls. Pinterest has a number of smart ideas for organizing the pets in your life. Turns out
furry friends and high-style interior design can mix rather well. Click here to get inspired.
Purging: Do you really need that ratty chew toy or shredded
scratching post? Just as you purge your home of unwanted and unused people
items, pet gear requires purging too. Did Fido get a new chew toy? Commit to
tossing its beat up counterpart. Is your puppy crate no longer needed? Find it
a new home with a neighbor or by checking with your local Humane Society. Many
chapters accept unneeded pet gear and extra food when finicky pets (we're talking
about you Meowsers!) reject a new brand.
Paperwork: Four-legged friends generate almost as much
paperwork as their human counterparts. Stay on top of important vaccination
schedules and health records with regular filing. Store pet health records with
your family's health files so all critical health records are in the same spot.
Also, keep a file handy for coupons for pet food, kitty litter and shampoos.
Ditto information on groomers and pet boarding. Want a paperless pet? Enlist
your smartphone or tablet to help track kitty's appointments and dietary needs
with apps like MyPetsPro and PetVetRecords.
Sitters: If a dog-walker or regular weekend pet sitter is part
of your life, use a pet crib sheet that provides a seamless information
exchange. You can use this free, downloadable sheet
from Microsoft or the stylish sheets from Etsy designers here, here and
Finally, if your furry (and feathery) friends are as
quick to shed as they are to snuggle, a vacuum cleaner is a necessity. Opt for
one built to tackle animal fur like the models listed in 5 Best Vacuums for Pet Hair.
If dialing for delivery is far
preferable to facing your disorganized pantry come dinnertime, it's time to
organize for a culinary reboot. With just a few simple steps, you will be back
to dishing up home cooked meals.
Pull all your boxes, cans and spices off the shelves. Dust and scrub until your
space is clean and appealing. Toss all items with expired dates and that you
just don't use.
Face all your labels out so you can easily see what's on the shelves. This
helps prevent the all too common phenomenon of buying groceries you already
have. It also makes it easier and less frustrating to find needed ingredients.
Savvy chefs group like items together, either by categories, such as pastas,
soups, dried beans, or by cuisines, such as Asian or Latin American
ingredients. Think about what system makes the most sense given your own needs
and explain it to your family so you can work together to keep order in the
Consider paring your pantry down to the bare essentials. Do you really need 40
spices? You may only use a dozen or so regularly. Consider storing less frequently used items
elsewhere so that your pantry just houses items you cook with daily. Keep a
typed list of stored items inside your pantry door so you know what (and
where!) less frequently used items are stored.
know the drill, buy better quality items, but fewer of each. Use this same
approach in your pantry. Do you really need five mustards, nine different
shapes of pasta? Identify what you love and buy it in the best quality you can
afford. And while you're at it: invest
in top quality clear containers so you can decant pastas, spices, flours, and
dried beans. When you can find it, you can cook it!
mid-way through winter so odds are good your coat closet is a mess of bulky
items and mismatched gloves. What's that you say? You can't find your hat? We
feel your pain (and your possible frostbite.) Read on for tips for whipping
your closet back into shape for the rest of the wintery season.
Out with the Unused: Closets turn into
catchalls quicker than snowflakes melt on a tongue. Identify unused and
unneeded items by emptying your closet-yup, we're starting with a
blank slate-and put back only those items that truly belong.
Saying Goodbye: Gather unworn clothes and paraphernalia
into groups: one to donate, one to pass along to friends and another to trash.
Be sure to keep receipts for any items donated to charity.
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow: Having trouble saying good-bye? Ask
yourself three questions: Does it fit? Do I wear/use it? Do I love it? If the
answer to any of these questions is no, the item needs to go. Consider working
with a trusted friend and their unbiased eye to evaluate your belongings.
Color Code: Once your closet is edited to include only
clothes and gear that are seasonally appropriate, it's time to color code items
by family member. Assign each member a
color that corresponds to hooks, bins and whatever other tools you use. Color
coding helps assign items a designated home and makes it easy for even the
youngest family member to neatly stow away their belongings.
Tame Odds & Ends: Don't let scarves and other cold
weather accessories overrun your closest. Maximize the space on the inside of a
closet door to hang small, frequently used items. Use clothes pins to clamp
gloves and mitten together so one doesn't go missing.
Neat & Tidy: Once your closet is shipshape, maintain
order by arranging all hangers in the same direction and by storing items
requiring folding, draped over hangers rather than in sloppy piles. Keep a
small trash can to corral dry-cleaning bags and wire hangers. You may also wish
to invest in a plastic or metal shoe tray to capture wet boots near your
Dear Dieting Resolution:
It was fun while it lasted.
Sincerely, the End of January
Ah, dieting; you always start strong but
somewhere near the end of the month, your resolve starts to fail you. This
year, stay strong with a host of electronic tools that will keep your weight loss
resolution on track.
Women's Health Magazine:
Best Apps for Weight Loss: This useful article features three weight loss apps and makes the case that their real time
feedback helps you make smart food choices. Plus, when you track what you eat,
it's difficult to lie to yourself or overlook indulgences. The proof is in the pudding!
Shape Magazine: The Best
Free Apps to Help You Lose Weight: Weight
loss is not just about diet, exercise is a must as well. Shape Magazine rounds
up 10 must-have exercise and diet apps that will have you fit as a fiddle (and
with a smaller middle!) in no time flat.
Finally, what good are all these weight loss
apps if your diet is easily derailed by the office pastry platter? For healthy
office snacks, that keep your engine humming and your diet on track, read our
past post Healthy Office Eats.
Yup, It's Possible.
Multitasking gets a bad rap: sometimes doing two things at the same time
makes perfect sense. Take organizing; when you streamline and edit your
belongings down to the things you truly use and value, you create the
opportunity to donate unwanted items to those who might better use them. Think
of it as purging for a cause.
Take a look around your home. Have stacks of unread newspapers? Turns
out the ASPCA can use shredded newspapers for
animals' cages. Outgrown clothes?
Dozens of organizations will happily take them off your hands. The same applies
to unneeded cars, unneeded sports gear and even books and toys.
If charitable giving is on your mind in 2013, we've rounded up a list of
organizations that would love the coat off your back (or those toys off your
Mission: Helps people with
barriers to employment learn job skills.
Donations Accepted: Clothing,
electronics, appliances, furniture, and more.
Mission: Community programs,
homeless services, rehabilitation, disaster relief.
Donations Accepted: Clothing,
furniture, household goods, sporting equipment, books, electronics, and more
Vietnam Veterans of America
Mission: Provides aid to Vietnam-era
veterans and their families.
Donations Accepted: Clothing, baby
items, house wares, electronics, small appliances, tools, and other items.
Mission: Supports individuals struggling with
challenges such as at-risk youth; the frail elderly; men and women returning
from prison; homeless individuals and families; people with disabilities, and
those recovering from addictions.
Donations Accepted: Clothing,
furniture, toys, and household goods for their thrift stores.
Dress for Success
Mission: Provides interview suits and career development advice to low-income
women in over 75 cities worldwide.
Donations Accepted: Women's business suits and other
professional apparel, footwear, and accessories.
Mission: Provides low income job-seeking men with training, career
counseling, interviews, and professional clothing.
Donations Accepted: Men's suits, dress shirts, ties, shoes,
briefcases, and other interview-appropriate clothing.
Mission: Distributes shoes to people in need in over 125 countries.
Donations Accepted: All types of new or gently-worn shoes:
athletic, running, dress, sandals, pumps, heels, work boots, cleats, dance, and
Stuffed Animals & Toys
Animals for Emergencies)
items for children in emotional, traumatic, or stressful situations such as
natural and manmade disasters.
Donations Accepted: New or gently-used
Mission: Provides a "home-away-from-home" for families with
Donations Accepted: New toys, food, and household products.
World Computer Exchange
Mission: Provides used computers and technology to schools, libraries,
community centers & universities in developing countries.
Donations Accepted: Computers,
laptops, printers, hard drives, peripherals, software, and more.
Cell Phones for Soldiers
Mission: Recycles cell phones for money
to purchase calling cards for troops.
Donations Accepted: Used cell phones.
Kars for Kids
Mission: National organization addressing the educational, emotional and spiritual
needs of Jewish children and their families.
Accepted: All types of vehicles, including cars, trucks, SUVs, motor homes, boats,
airplanes, farm equipment, and construction equipment.
Habitat for Humanity Cars
Mission: Builds and rehabilitates houses for families
Donations Accepted: Cars, trucks, boats, RVs, motorcycles, and
Mission: The prevention and cure of diabetes.
Donations Accepted: Cars, trucks, trailers, boats, and RVs.
National Kidney Foundation
Mission: Funds programs and medical research to
prevent and treat kidney disease.
Donations Accepted: Cars, vans, trucks, and boats.
derails the fun of a snowy, winter day faster than a missing mitten. And
arriving at the mountain with one ski pole instead of two? Big bummer. Take
time to organize yourself for maximum winter fun.
Staples: Cold winter
weather means wintry ailments like the flu, chapped lips and runny noses. Stock
up essentials like chapsticks and tissues online. And be sure to stockpile
necessary meds such as fever reducers, sore throat lozenges and cough syrups
before illness strikes; dragging your feverish self to the pharmacy is never
fun. Consider purchasing travel sizes of chapsticks, hand
cream and tissues to keep in your hand bags or the car so you're never caught
Bag: If your family skies (or ice skates,
sleds, etc,) create a designated to-go bag for every member
of the family. Store hats, scarves, gloves and ski or skate passes and other
must-have items here. Don't forget the sunblock! Sun exposure during skiing and
skating can take a toll on unprotected skin. Take time to restock the bag after
each use, so when you get an unexpected snowfall, you're ready to hit the
slopes, confident that all your needs are close at hand.
your hall closet or mudroom into your winter command central. Swap out the
off-season gear and create a caddy that houses tissues, extra gloves,
chapsticks, etc. so family members can help themselves. Task hanging sweater
organizers or bins with storing rolled up ski pants, hats, gloves, etc.
Wet: Winter means dripping boots and bulky
gear. Designate a metal tray to capture wet boots and shoes near
your door and use a coat rack protected with outdoor paint for hanging sodden snow
suits and accessories to dry. Apartment dwellers may want to place an
attractive rattan hamper near the front door to capture wet items.
trips and skating outings can all add up quickly. Ward off empty-wallet
syndrome by clipping coupons and taking advantage of promotions. Designate a
small wallet or pouch to keep savings offers close at hand. Your bank account
will thank you.
the cold weather draws to a close, evaluate what gear and apparel need to be
replaced, and stock up on sale items for the following season. If kids will
have outgrown items by the following winter, don't store the bulky items during
the warmer months. Arrange to pass along the unneeded items to friends or
relatives or donate them to charity.
Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates
passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization. Believing in "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.