Guest Blog

Guest Blog: How to Start a Book Club

August 16, 2011 at 10:47 am , by

This week’s post comes from Barbara Drummond Mead, owner of book club wunder-resource Reading Group Choices.  Her blog, On the Bookcase, is dedicated to all things book club. “Book club members find pleasure, adventure, knowledge, self-awareness, and even solace in the covers of a book,” mead says, “and enjoy sharing their discoveries with others.” Here are her tips for starting a successful book club:

Magic Number: Ten to twelve people make a perfect size group.  You’ll always have plenty of participants, if even some people can’t make the discussion.

Who to Invite: Consider inviting work colleagues and personal friends, or ask your local librarian or bookstore if any patrons have expressed interest in forming a new club. Including those outside your usual social circle will help you discover new perspectives and challenge your personal growth.  Their enthusiasm in joining a book club is the key.

Locations Abound: Invite your club over to your home, if you enjoy entertaining.  A busy or budget-challenged host can choose a restaurant or coffee house for seating and refreshments with little effort, and members can pay their own way.

Make Contact: Send a courtesy reminder with the date and time, including a few fun things you have in store for the group discussion. Remember, everyone has a busy life — they need reminders!

Conversational Space: Arrange seating in a circle or U-shape so everyone can be seen and heard.

Mix and Mingle: Set aside 30 minutes of social time to introduce members, asking them about some of their favorite books book genres, and what they hope to get out of the book club experience.

Q&A The first meeting should set the tone, create expectations and facilitate connections within the group. Consult the group to decide meeting frequency, location and refreshments. Good food and drink go hand-in-hand with good conversation!

Choose a Winning Book: Review the next month’s LHJ Book Club Pick, peruse top reviews, and ask members to contribute title selections. By having members choose the books, your group will read and discover books that they might not have picked up themselves.


Guest Blogger: Catherine McCord of Weelicious

January 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm , by

Catherine McCord, the face of Weelicious.com, was kind enough to guest post for us today. She shares her thoughts and helpful tips for using a slow-cooker to whip up family meals, which is especially useful during this cold season. Weelicious is a site dedicated to recipes and cooking advice for busy people who want to keep their families well fed and healthy, including the littlest ones — she’s a resource to busy moms everywhere!

When I was growing up, I had dinner with my entire family every Sunday night. It’s a tradition that I continue with my own kids. But that doesn’t mean that mom cooks while everyone else sits around playing or watching. I get everyone involved. From cleaning and chopping the veggies to mixing, stirring and pouring, when everyone takes part in the preparing of the meal, it makes the whole process of cooking so much more enjoyable and it is truly what puts the “family” in family dinner.

One of our favorite new recipes is this Slow-Cooker Lentil-Veggie Stew (recipe after the jump). After a leisurely Sunday morning at our local farmer’s market, picking out beans, vegetables and all kinds of fresh toppings for the soup,  my husband, our kids and I head home to work as a team and put dinner together. I find that the more I involve my kids in the process of cooking, the more excited they become about eating the foods we make. And since there are so many family things we want to accomplish on Sunday, I always focus on meals that are easy. Around noon we simply dump all of the ingredients into “mom’s best friend in the kitchen,” the slow cooker, and then head out for an afternoon of family fun. At 5:30pm, we all sit down together, take fresh bread out of our bread maker, ladle some of this healthy, hearty stew into colorful bowls and then everyone gets to top theirs off with a dollop of herbed goat cheese as a finishing touch.

If you’ve never used one, slow cookers can make cooking and cleanup about as painless as it gets. And don’t forget, whenever you’re making anything in the slow cooker, double the recipe so you have plenty to freeze or keep as leftovers for the next few days when you’re running around and don’t have time to cook — something I know most moms can relate to. Who says cooking has to be time consuming and boring? It never is when everyone has a job and gets to be part of the fun. To me, there’s no better way to eat as a family.

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Guest Blogger: Plus Size Holiday Party Essentials

November 17, 2010 at 11:18 am , by

Today’s guest blog comes courtesy of Sarah Conley of StyleITonline.com and On The Plus Side – a great blog about plus size fashion. Thanks, Sarah!

Lane Bryant JacquardHoliday party season is right around the corner, which leads to the seemingly never-ending stream of one singular question – what are you going to wear? Finding fuller-figured options for any celebration may seem daunting, but don’t stress: Here are a few fail-proof options to take you from the office to the gala and right under the mistletoe – without missing a beat.

For low-key events, mix quintessential holiday elements, like sequins and velvet, with slim black trousers and pumps. Check out Just My Size’s Velvet Boyfriend Shirt ($16), a surprisingly chic & casual piece at an incredibly affordable price point. Lane Bryant’s Cropped Sequin Cardigan ($59.50) keeps the holiday spirit alive with an office-appropriate twist. Spice up your look after hours with Torrid’s Black Sequin Tank ($38). By far the most versatile piece, this tank looks great with a skirt, denim or a blazer. Consider it your wardrobe’s new evening workhorse!

Dresses instantly add an air of sophistication and in the holiday season, it’s easy to go overboard on the sparkle. Choose pieces that are figure-flattering and special, like updated little black dresses. If your style is a little more rock & roll, try Old Navy’s Metal-Studded Sweater Dress ($59.50). The shape is forgiving and the studs add an element of personality into your look. For a more classic piece, Lane Bryant’s Monochromatic Jacquard Dress ($89.50) can be translated for nearly every occasion. Feeling daring? Check out Monif C’s Marilyn Convertible Dresses ($195-$235), a chameleon-like piece that is only limited by your imagination. Tie the Convertible Dress into strapless, halter, sleeveless, one shoulder, off shoulder styles and more.

The key holiday party essential? Confidence! When you feel great, you look great and there’s no better way (or reason) to celebrate! Happy holidays!

Photo courtesy of Lane Bryant.


Guest Blogger: How Plastic Helped Me Find My Voice

November 3, 2010 at 1:20 pm , by

beth6-smThree years ago, I read an article and saw a photo that changed my life and helped me realize that I had the power to make a difference.  The article was about the growing problem of ocean plastic pollution, and the photo was of a dead albatross chick whose body was full of ordinary plastic pieces it had mistaken for food: plastic bottle caps, little plastic toys, even a toothbrush.  In that moment, I suddenly realized my direct connection to other living creatures on this planet.  Plastic was something I had control over, and I knew I had to act.

When I started my blog, Fake Plastic Fish, to keep track of my personal plastic consumption and report on plastic-free alternatives, I had no idea the impact and reach it would have or the lives it would change. I only knew I had to start with myself. Along the way, I have learned a few lessons about how we can take an idea or a cause that we care about and get results.

Trust your voice. How many of us have a great idea or cause we care about and feel that no one will listen to our opinion?  Learning to speak up is empowering. And all it takes is practice.  Speaking up to store managers about their plastic bags or visiting schools to talk about plastic pollution was hard for me at first. But the more I do it, the more confident I become.

Seek support. Yes, it’s important to start with ourselves, but real change takes many hands and voices. Writing one letter to a company is great. But encouraging others to write letters too, creating a petition, or joining an organization already working on the issue are ways to magnify your impact.

Use the Internet. The Internet makes it easier than ever to spread your message. Using my blog, Facebook, Twitter, email, and online petition software, I spearheaded a campaign to get Brita to take back and recycle their plastic water filter cartridges. Social media helped me connect up with other bloggers who could help me spread the word. And asking people to mail me their used cartridges made a huge visual impact.

Do your homework. Before contacting a company, writing a blog post or letter to the editor, or creating a petition, make sure you have your facts straight. Do some basic research. You don’t have to be an expert, and you shouldn’t let fear of being wrong stop you from acting. But having a clear understanding of the issue you’re tackling will give you confidence and help your cause.

Be persistent. Sometimes change happens over night. Once, I wrote to the owner of a small company about her plastic packaging, and she asked me to help her change it. Within one month, she had completely switched over to recycled paper. The Brita campaign, on the other hand, took 7 months of hard work and diligence. What kept me going was knowing that the only way I would fail is if I gave up early. Seeing a campaign through can be tiring but also incredibly empowering.

Give yourself a break. Persistence is important, but so is taking time out to rest and rejuvenate. Working nonstop is the way to burnout and disillusionment. For me, taking time in nature to remember why I am doing this work in the first place is what keeps me going. That, and playing with my rascally kitties who never take me too seriously.

What I’ve learned is that each of us has the power to change the world for good. We just have to learn to use it. When you care deeply enough about an issue to take that first step, a door opens through which you might never go back. —Beth Terry

blogher10-26a-sm-squareBy day, Beth Terry works as an accountant for a local home care agency, but nights and weekends she becomes an activist blogger writing about plastic-free living at FakePlasticFish.com. She’s a contributing editor to BlogHer.com and an advisor to the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Join Beth Terry via the web this Saturday, November 6, for the worldwide webcast of TEDx: Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an unprecedented event bringing together experts, activists, and artists like Van Jones, David de Rothschild, Jackson Browne, and Ed Begley Jr to speak about solutions to the plastic pollution problem. Beth Terry will add her voice to the mix, speaking about her plastic-free life and leading by example.


Guest Blog: A Real Mom’s 10-Minute Beauty Routine

October 27, 2010 at 9:47 am , by

audrey-about-us-2009This week’s guest blogger is Audrey McClelland of Mom Generations.

I love all things beauty and fashion related. All my life it’s been this way. But it’s funny, because there are two definite versions of my fashion and beauty self: the one before kids and the one now, after kids. Running my fashion and beauty blog for moms, Mom Generations, and also being the Beauty/Style editor on Lifetime Moms allows me to share (and truly understand) the need for beauty routines that don’t take much time. We’re talking 10 minutes, tops. As a mom of four young boys (ages 2, 3 5 and 6) and a 50 percent work-at-home mom/50 percent work-out-of-the-home mom, I’ve had to simplify my beauty routine down to minutes. I no longer have the luxury to be in the bathroom for 30 to 45 minutes prepping and beautifying. I need to act quickly, and that means finding products that work well for me and apply easily. I have blogs to write and deadlines to hit by 7am. And, of course, my mom duties! When you have four boys asking to help them get dressed, put toothpaste on their toothbrushes, brush their hair, find socks that match, tie their shoes… you can see that my morning beauty routine is constantly being interrupted. But, you know what  It’s okay. This is why I have my beauty routine down to a well oiled-machine. I’ve come to rely on 6 products that save me every single morning and make my beauty routine, well… an actual beauty routine.

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1. Olay’s Deep Cleansing Face Wash This face wash leaves my skin feeling clean, fresh and soft. It’s the perfect way for me to start in the morning.

2. Lancome’s Imanance Tinted Moisturizer I love this product because it moisturizes my skin beautifully, but also leaves it with a wonderful tinted glow. Imanance also stays on all day long, which is a huge benefit because I’m usually running here, there and everywhere all day.

3. Estee Lauder’s Bronze Goddess I never, ever leave home without my “goddess” on. This is my hands-down favorite and must-have beauty essential. I love the pick-me-up that the bronze powder gives my cheeks. It’s ALWAYS on.

4.  Estee Lauder’s Double Wear Stay-in-Place Eye Pencil It’s amazing what a little eye makeup can do. It literally makes eyes come alive… even on mornings when you were up all night with your baby (or in my case, babies…).

5.  By Lauren Luke’s My Glossy Lips This gloss is utterly amazing. I’ve never had anything condition my lips the same way. It’s smooth and soft and gives my lips the ultimate shine.

6.  Dove Cream Oil Hand Cream Don’t laugh! I’m obsessed with this stuff! My hands are always dry. They’ve been this way my entire life. Add 4 little boys, washing, changing, laundering… you get it! This cream is my saving grace in the morning after I apply my makeup and all day long. It leaves my hands amazingly soft for my little guys and for me!


Michael Douglas, Greed, Cancer and Me

October 20, 2010 at 9:48 am , by

Update, June 2013: Ladies’ Home Journal has been reporting on the link between throat cancer and the HPV virus from oral sex since 2003. And we published this guest blog, below, in 2010. We were happy to learn this week that Michael Douglas is finally talking about this link in the media, which will help raise awareness.

According to a friend at Yahoo, searches for “throat cancer symptoms” are up more than 3,000 percent this month—“likely a result of actor Michael Douglas’ recent diagnosis,” she says. While I was sad when I heard Douglas was sick, I was hopeful that his ordeal might bring more awareness to this cancer, which is growing.

I first learned about the link between throat cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV; the same virus that can cause cervical cancer) years ago when I heard a researcher present a paper on it. Yes, oral sex can transmit this very common virus between two people and then, years or decades later, may lead to cancer. It happened to my friend Steve. And to a famous chef. And to the husband of another friend. And now Michael Douglas. (We don’t have direct confirmation about Douglas’ HPV status but publications such as People magazine have mentioned it.) Yes, women get it, too. Steve’s cancer treatment was brutal but three years later, he’s feeling strong and is cancer free. I asked him to share his thoughts in this guest blog.

Michael Douglas, Greed, Cancer and Me

By Steve Reynolds

It’s impossible not to have noticed Michael Douglas lately, given the press and his recent sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. A great actor, Douglas is cemented in the communal pop memory by his note-perfect performance in the 1987 film Wall Street.

It got me reminiscing about the ’80s, beyond yellow ties, pasta and cell phones the size of bricks. I was fresh from college, and New York was a blaring, braying juggernaut of energy, of greedy energy. “Greed is good.” It wasn’t just the guys in yellow ties who took that Gordon Gekko line literally. My own greed was a hunger to experience everything. I worked a job, did off-Broadway theater, partied as much as I could, had as much sex as I could. And now I wonder if it was then that I gave myself up to the HPV virus.

Douglas’ face and words are somehow part of those memories for me. And now here he is with the same disease: HPV-borne throat cancer, my throat cancer. He’s even being treated at the same hospital and maybe even by some of my same doctors. Read more