4.23.14: Wednesday Wisdom

Written on April 23, 2014 at 10:34 am , by

Celebrate Earth Month, the Green and Gorgeous Way!

Written on April 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm , by

By Reisa Feigenbaum 

To celebrate Earth Month and show appreciation for our precious (and delicate) planet year-round, we’ve put together a list of all-natural, eco-conscious products free from chemicals and chock-full of good-for-you ingredients from some of our favorite environmentally minded beauty brands. Happy Earth Day!

1. KIEHL’S Limited-Edition Label Art Series Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Masque, $23 
Remove dirt, toxins and dry, dead skin cells with this complexion-smoothing masque. It’s made with Amazonian white clay, which is known for its skin-detoxifying properties. For the month of April, 100% of net profits (up to $50,000) will benefit Recycle Across America, which is dedicated to stimulating the environmental economy.

2. KISS MY FACE After Play Air Power Crème, $12
While many SPF products contain chemical additives harmful to marine life, Kiss My Face offers sun care that is free of parabens and artificial fragrances, and rich in sustainable plant-based ingredients. This protective spray is full of antioxidants like green tea, goji berry extract and vitamin C, which work as hydrating defenders against harmful UV rays.

3. ORIGINS Limited-Edition Earth Week Tote, free with $65 minimum purchase
Look and feel good with the ultimate eco-friendly tote, which features Origins’ “Do Good” philosophy in eight languages. From April 17 to 26, Origins is gifting the tote with any purchase of $65 or more. Plus, Origins will plant a tree that will help to bring forestation to areas in need.


4. ALBA BOTANICA Good & Healthy Range, $10 each (Anti-Oil Weightless Moisture, Oil-Free Radiance Cream, Tinted Perfector, SPF 15 Moisturizer and Spots Be Gone Corrector)
The name says it all: Alba Botanica’s new line of Good & Healthy facial moisturizers is just what the environment ordered. Powered by extracts from leafy greens like kale, spinach and Swiss chard, this certified organic range will rejuvenate your complexion, no matter what your skin type.

5. KORRES White Grape Body Butter, $29
This apothecary-inspired body cream has softening shea butter and hydrating quince extract plus sunflower, almond and avocado oils to nourish and restore the skin’s elasticity. Plus, the company’s plant operates entirely on renewable energy, and 99% of its packaging is recyclable.


6. AVEDA Light The Way Candle, $12
According to Aveda, every scent matters. The company is donating 100% of the proceeds from the sweet and spicy candle to Global Greengrants Fund, a nonprofit that channels high-impact grants to solve environmental problems.





Treasured Moments

Written on April 22, 2014 at 2:40 pm , by

By JM Randolph, the Accidental Stepmom

A couple of years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to finish The Norton Anthology of Literature By Women, a heavy-duty tome that despite its name is packed full of enjoyable reading. I’m still working on it. In my reading, I discovered that many 19th-century female authors developed mysterious ailments that kept them largely confined to their (solitary) bedrooms with the occasional outdoor excursion “for air.” These unidentifiable psychosomatic ailments got them out of household tasks and gave them time to write. Most of the literature by women from this time comes from authors who had at least a period of such an illness.

Have you heard the term “winter recess”? It’s an East Coast creation: a random week off from school in February, guaranteed to be the worst weather week of the year. If you don’t have plans to leave for warmer climes, you’re going to be trapped inside the whole week with your kids.

One winter recess, I got one of those 19th-century female problems: I pulled a calf muscle. There was nothing mysterious about it, and it made me realize that every other time in my life I’ve used the term “pulled muscle,” I have used it incorrectly. It felt like my muscle had become a rope that pulled taut and jumped off the bone, then shot nails and razor blades throughout my leg. I couldn’t walk at all for twenty-four hours, and then walked with great difficulty for the next 10 days. How did I pull it, you ask? Yoga? Running? Kickboxing? I leaned over and picked up some papers for recycling.

Therefore, a dark and dismal tone was already set at the start of this winter recess. While I complain that I’m trapped in the house with the kids, remember that they are also trapped with me. About halfway through the week they wanted to escape so badly that they voluntarily shoveled the entire driveway and scraped off the van, then came back inside and begged me to take them to Target.

“We don’t even have to buy anything!” they said. “Please?”

The 10-year-old said, “I’ll buy Sour Patch Kids with my own money and share them with you!”

Thankfully, it was my left calf so I could drive.

We spent two hours in Target and everybody got a treat. I used the cart as a walker. It was remarkably effective. We stopped for Subway on the way home. Somehow they made me believe I’d come up with that idea all on my own.

After the aeons that it took for me to limp slowly to the entrance, the 12-year-old pointed out a handwritten sign on the door: No Credit Card Today, Cash Only and asked, “Is that a problem?” Of course it was, because any time I get any actual cash, one of the six other people in my house needs it for something.

We all went out and got back in the van. They moved bags, retrieved drinks, fastened seat belts and resumed eating candy before I was even halfway there.

15-year-old: Can we road trip to another Subway?

Me: I guess I’ll go to the bank.

12-year-old: Wait, I have cash!

Me: How much?

They exchanged a meaningful glance.

15-year-old: Well, between the two of us we have, like $70.

They should be taking me out to dinner.

I turned the car off.

I panic at Subway—about getting the orders wrong, about other customers coming in when we’re in the middle of a six- or seven-sandwich order and holding up the line. This day we had three people behind us by the time they were on the second sandwich. I apologized as we left with our order to go. It was now 45 minutes since we’d first pulled up in front.

Back in the van, I began the task of doing the math with the 15-year-old.

Me: So I owe you $30.

15-year-old: Except I owe you $20 for the makeup at Target.

Me: I already owed you $25 for babysitting, so…

15-year-old: We’ll take that money and add it to the other money…

Me: We need a sheet. Or a ledger.

8-year-old: What’s a ledger?

Me: It’s a sheet.

8-year-old: Why do you need bedsheets to pay us our allowance?

15-year-old: Can I just state for the record that I love this family?

You can only imagine how much that statement means to me, especially coming from the one we affectionately refer to as our Violet from The Incredibles. Some mothers treasure first words, first steps, first days of school; I missed all that. I treasure every moment a teenager forgets to hate being part of a family.


JM Randolph is a writer, stagehand and custodial stepmom of five. She lives in New Jersey with her family and blogs at accidentalstepmom.com.

Girls: A No Ceilings Conversation with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton

Written on April 22, 2014 at 2:33 pm , by

“Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.” It has been almost 20 years since Hillary Rodham Clinton uttered those powerful words at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, but her commitment to the cause has grown stronger over the decades.

Since leaving her job as secretary of state, Clinton has made women’s and girls’ issues a central theme of her work. Last Thursday at the Lower East Side Girls Club in New York City, Clinton, along with her daughter, Chelsea, held the first installment of Girls: A No Ceilings Conversation, a series of talks that the Clinton Foundation will conduct to get feedback from women and girls across the country and around the globe. The goal is not only to collect data and celebrate progress, but to address the challenges and gaps that impede progress. Clinton is looking to create a 21st-century agenda for equal opportunity and help ensure the full participation of women in the world.

As the mother of a teenage daughter, I was thrilled to be in that room. Few things make me happier than seeing young women achieve greatness, and few things fill me with more rage than the discrimination and injustices that girls encounter around the world. Initiatives like this one, that give girls a voice, are an excellent place to open dialogues, raise awareness and make changes.

Moderated by actress and advocate America Ferrera, the empowering discussion brought together women of all ages to discuss their experiences and their hopes for the future. Questions came from girls in the room as well as from four schools in different parts of the country via Skype and thousands of others via Twitter and  Livestream. Topics of conversation ranged from the lack of women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and the value of good role models to the importance of asking for help and speaking out, our obsession with physical perfection and much more.

The event, already energized by major girl power, was further galvanized by the announcement of Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy. As mothers, our greatest ambition is for our children’s dreams to be limitless. Grab the other women and girls in your life (and the men and boys as well!) and get involved in the conversation. The Clintons want to know what’s working and what isn’t so that we, as women, can gather as a team to make global changes. The Clintons cite the African saying “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We can’t think of a better mantra.


For more information about the No Ceilings project, view their web page here:  http://www.clintonfoundation.org/

Watch the entire conversation below.


















You Make It, We Post It!

Written on April 21, 2014 at 8:53 am , by

It doesn’t get easier than combining five simple ingredients for dinner. Instagram user @theresakay13′s Grandma did just that did just that when she made our Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas. The crowd-pleaser uses a rotisserie chicken, making this is a no-fuss preparation meal that both parents and kids will love.


Want to be featured here as next week’s chef?

Here’s how: Make a Family Circle recipe, take a photo and share it on Instagram by tagging @FamilyCircleMag and #FCMADEIT.


Parenting Dilemmas: Where Do I Find Resources For Raising a Teen?

Written on April 18, 2014 at 9:49 am , by

By Jill Caryl Weiner

Last weekend, I attended the Brooklyn Baby & Family Expo for work. I must say, as a parent of a teenage daughter and a tween son, I was amazed at the incredible array of resources that were pulled together for this event. There was a panel of pediatricians, demos of the latest gear, advisors on family estate planning, book signings, local and long-distance businesses—from preschools to play spaces to a start-up offering the latest technology in baby spoons.

I think it’s fantastic, but I can’t help but wonder about the resources for parents of tweens and teens. It seems like parents’ magazines pay less attention to the issues and needs of older kids, and some people may even think we have it all figured out. Really? Do we have it all figured out?

I called my friend Jessica to get her take on this. I met Jess 14 years ago, just a month or two after my daughter was born, at a new-parent support group. Arlene Eisenberg, who cocreated the What to Expect book series, led a weekly Q&A to help us struggling new parents and to keep in tune with our concerns. I made some of my closest mom friends through that support group. Before I met these women, I admit, I felt pretty lost.

Jess and I compared this issue of resources—or lack thereof—for teens and tweens vs. babies and came up with a few ideas. Here are some differences.

Brooklyn Baby and Family Expo | Photo by Kelley Brusco

1. Money. The number of businesses out there targeting parents with babies is mind-boggling. For teens and tweens there seem to be lots of test-prep companies as well as camps, but for babies products and services are all across the board. This is actually good news for us parents of older kids. I mean, who needs all that stuff crowding up our homes? Plus the businesses we need are out there, they’re just not as obvious.

2. Shared Issues vs. Specialized Concerns. A lot of new parents share the same concerns about their babies, from feeding and sleeping issues to diapering and teething. But the needs of tweens and teens are more specific to the individual person, as they are discovering who they are and want to be. Parents’ concerns are no longer focused only on the basic necessities but on more specialized issues. Your daughter might require extra help in math or have to wear a retainer, or she might want to volunteer to help the elderly, but those concerns are very specific to her.

3. Bigger Kids, Bigger Problems. The problems we faced as new parents caring for these tiny fragile people seemed momentous. But now most of those issues seem so contained compared to teen and tween problems. Even if it’s just parental anxiety about what might happen (because actually things are going pretty okay), that’s pretty stressful. Parents of older kids may worry about issues ranging from overuse of the Internet, to bullying, to eating disorders, to dating and homework stress and so much more. It can seem like we don’t have anywhere to turn for answers.

Brooklyn Baby and Family Expo | Photo by Kelley Brusco

4. Support Systems. Even though there are a ton of resources available for new parents, these newbies often feel isolated. They don’t realize what’s available, and that’s why an expo can be such a great resource. Parents of tweens and teens have the friendships we’ve made over the years through our children. We have their schools as support systems. Schools offer clubs and teams and have Parent-Teacher Associations gathering experts to speak on issues we’re concerned with. Some recent meetings in high schools around my neighborhood have dealt with eating disorders, bullying—both kid-on-kid and kid-on-parent as well as cyberbullying—saving for college and substance abuse. School counselors are available to meet with students and/or their parents one-on-one.

I really enjoyed the expo. It was like being in a time machine and seeing my husband and kids when this whole parenting world was new and we needed everything. As for life with teens and tweens, Jess and I figured out that although we don’t have it all figured out, we have support systems, including friendships and schools, that are kind of like mini expos we can go to anytime. They’re unmistakable resources that make our lives a lot easier.

Jill Caryl Weiner is a New York–based writer whose work has appeared in Mom365.com, New York Magazine, Time Out New York Kids and The New York Times.

Turn Your House into Your Happy Place

Written on April 17, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Can’t get Pharrell’s “Happy” out of your head? Us either. So much so, it inspired us to find a few ways to add a little bit of happy to our homes. Here, our favorite colorful, fun and downright cute décor finds. Just one will brighten up your space — think of it as a reward for a job well done spring cleaning. 

Turn your front entry into a mini work of modern art. Triangle Mat, momastore.org, $48

The only swarm of bugs you won’t mind crashing your next outdoor party. Beetle Plates, crateandbarrel.com, $7 each

Hot pink, orange and gold dots dress up a set of chic tumblers. C.Wonder Tall Dots Glassware Set in Pink/Orange, $54/Set of 4.

A perfect fit for preventing water rings. Or snap two together, and you’ve got a trivet. Puzzle Coasters, boconcept.us for stores, $19/set

Get close up to a beautiful bloom with a magnifying vase. Big Bloom Vase, momastore.org, $40

This green guy can be a bedside table in a kid’s room or a stool. Turn it upside down, and you’ve got a bright storage bin or laundry basket. Assembly Home Wire Table, urbanoutfitters.com, $49.

Hot pink, orange and gold dots dress up a set of chic tumblers. C.Wonder Tall Dots Glassware Set in Pink/Orange, $54/Set of 4.

Book Bargains

Written on April 16, 2014 at 2:49 pm , by

Get reading—it’s National Library Week! Download an array of FREE reads. Check out our list of ebooks below.



Classic eBooks at Open Library

eBooks at Project Gutenberg

Easter Recipes for the Slow Cooker eCookbook

“JIFFY” Recipe Book

Flower Craft Ideas eBook

Australian Lamb Recipe Book

Gardener’s Idea Book

Gooseberry Patch Fall Favorites Recipe Booklet


These Kids Aren’t Spoiled: They’re Changing the World

Written on April 16, 2014 at 2:21 pm , by

I think it’s debatable whether todays’ kids are spoiled, overprotected, distracted, game-addicted or less polite than previous generations. That has not been my personal experience with the kids I know. And since the big, splashy, star-studded stage event We Day is currently touring the world, launching a year of social activism for youth called We Act, I happen to have some statistics at hand that I like—and that seem more in keeping with my experience—about today’s kids:

Through their involvement in We Act, over 2 million youngsters have gotten behind local and global causes, volunteered their time, raised money, attended camps to learn how to lead other youth to change the world, and used social media—another often-denigrated modern development—to raise awareness for causes they care about.

These kids have:

• raised $37 million for more than 1,000 local and global causes
• volunteered 9.6 million hours for local and global causes
• collected 4 million pounds of food for local food banks
• logged 7.5 million hours of silence to stand up for children in developing communities who are silenced by poverty and exploitation

It starts with the We Day event, which gets kids pumped up with the message that everyone—no matter how young—can make a difference simply by believing in a cause and doing something about it. Then the site provides schools and families with the resources they need to actually get involved in whatever social change they want to make happen. So maybe, instead of lamenting our kids’ failures (and our own parental mistakes that led there), why not watch the video (above) with them and see what happens?

If kids still doubt they can effect change, point out that We Day and We Act are part of Free the Children, which was founded in 1995 by Craig and Marc Kielburger when Craig was 12 years old. Craig rallied a handful of classmates to rescue children from child labor, and discovered that he could make a difference even though he was himself just a kid. Since then, Craig has become a social entrepreneur, a New York Times bestselling author and a syndicated columnist, and founded a youth organization that has taught 2.3 million young people that they can change the world for the better.

I’m sure there are some spoiled, overprotected kids out there. But they can change. And I can’t get behind this idea that today’s youth aren’t doing anything worthy. They seem like an impressive bunch to me.

Christina Tynan-Wood has been covering technology since the dawn of the Internet and currently writes the Family Tech column for Family Circle. You can find more advice about buying and using technology at GeekGirlfriends.com.

24 People Interview for World’s Toughest Job…The Outcome Will Surprise You

Written on April 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm , by

Here’s something everyone will appreciate, especially moms. The video below was created by Boston agency Mullen, who posted this job listing online for a “director of operations” position at a company called Rehtom Inc.

Some of the requirements included:

• Standing up most of the time
• Working for 135 hours to unlimited hours per week, no days off
• No breaks
• No salary
• No time to sleep
• Be able to work in a chaotic environment
• Degrees in medicine, finance and culinary arts necessary
• The workload goes up on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and other holidays
• Did we mention no salary?!

The video takes somewhat of a while (4 minutes) to reveal who the client is. But, trust us, you’ll appreciate the outcome.

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Dove Beauty Experiment Hits a Rough Patch for Women

Written on April 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm , by

By Reisa Feigenbaum


What does it take to make women truly feel beautiful? Apparently, something as simple as a patch can do the trick.

Recognizing that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder, Dove invited 10 real women to take part in a two-week-long social experiment to enhance their sense of their own beauty through the power of a “beauty patch.” Little did they know that the patch contained nothing. But it helped us all learn a powerful lesson about self-perception.

The big reveal is inspiring, with an unforgettable message. After these women found out that their boost of confidence came through their own volition, their lives were forever changed in a way they could never have imagined.

The latest campaign has an important takeaway: Beauty is an empowerment that lives inside every woman.

“We hope to inspire all women and help change the way they see themselves,” says Jennifer Bremner, brand building director of skin cleansing for Dove.

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What the Easter Bunny and Inviting Elijah In Taught Me About My Parents

Written on April 14, 2014 at 1:54 pm , by

Confession: The Easter Bunny terrified me as a kid. And to be honest, I’m still a little wary of rabbits bearing Easter treats. That’s not to say that I’m afraid of bunnies in general, or even giant bunnies in particular (Harvey is one of my favorite movies).

It all started with the Bunny Incident. The fear brought on by that one event extended throughout my Easter-Passover (Esterover, to me) activities, even the opening of the door for Elijah at our seders. (Raised in a family with a Jewish dad and a Catholic mom, I was celebrating multiple holidays before Chrismukkah was even a word.)

When I awoke on Easter morning at the age of 3, my eyes popped. Not from seeing a basket filled to the brim with chocolate and Peeps (you could have bribed me to do anything with those bits of marshmallow goodness) but because of the circle of stuffed bunnies from my toy collection that surrounded the basket. Bunnies of all shapes and colors had their button eyes focused on my basket of treats. How did they get there? I knew they couldn’t walk. That left only one suspect: the Easter Bunny himself. This was the moment I came up with the Bunny Ban.

According to my parents, I shakily stated that I didn’t want the Easter Bunny (a giant 8-foot-tall pink-fur-covered creature in my mind) coming into my room and rummaging through my mountain of toys ever again. When my dad joked that if I didn’t want the Bunny to visit anymore I just had to say something, I pondered. Even at that young age I knew not to bite the hand that fed me. Then I clarified: I still wanted the baskets, but the Bunny had to leave them outside my bedroom door.

Thus the Bunny Ban went into effect. And that would be the case for the next few years. Still, I always felt a little trepidation on Easter night, and that feeling spilled over into our seders. Other than reciting the Four Questions (questions 3 and 4 were always a family effort, since I never could remember them all), opening the door to let Elijah in was my favorite part of the service. But after the Bunny Incident, I started thinking about what might happen if Elijah actually did come in or if the wine disappeared from Elijah’s glass. Similarly, I always wondered what I would do if I caught the Easter Bunny breaking my ban.

When I came to the realization that the 8-foot pink-fur creature was actually my parents, a sense of relief washed over me. Now when I recall the Bunny Incident, I break into a smile. I understand it was actually a very cute sign of how much my parents loved me. Not that I really needed a bunny circle to prove it. They tried to make everything special for me, even letting me open the door for Elijah all by myself as a young kid at Passover.

I also learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes doing something nice for a child backfires in ways you could never imagine. But even when parents make mistakes, most of the time they make them out of love.