Do Good: Give Back This Thanksgiving

November 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm , by

ss_101625444_wFor most people, Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where being thankful for our abundance (and sitting down to a table overflowing with holiday bounty, like the ridiculously good-looking truffle butter bird at right) goes hand-in-hand with being mindful of those who are less fortunate, and whose bellies are less full. Does your family volunteer or give back during the Thanksgiving season? It’s a wonderful tradition to start, and great a way to make Thanksgiving about more than just food and football (not that there’s anything wrong with either of those things…). Here are a few ways to give back.

- Does your family go around the table and say what you’re thankful for? (Love that tradition.) Put each family member in charge of coming up with a group volunteer idea for the upcoming year based on their “thankful” thing. That way you’ve got volunteer ideas for the year, not just the season. Kids count too! For instance, is your little niece Addie thankful for her pet kitty? Take everyone to the animal shelter to help out for a day.

- Take the pledge and donate to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. No child in America should have to go hungry on any day (not just a holiday), and Share Our Strength’s goal is to end childhood hunger by 2015. That’s a mission we can all get behind.

- It’s a cliche but if you’ve never actually volunteered at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, now is the time. But before you package up all your leftovers to bring along, call the shelter to ask about their food donation policy. Even better, sign up to volunteer on a monthly basis so your holiday spirit keeps on giving.

- I think we’re all thankful for our service men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our country. Operation Gratitude is a great organization that sends thank-you care packages to our troops, and they’d love your help all holiday season (and year!) long.

-  To find specific Thanksgiving volunteer opportunities in your area, do a quick search with our friends at Volunteer Match. Just type in your zip code and “Thanksgiving” as the keyword.

Thanksgiving Damage Control: Make Fitness Fun!

November 18, 2010 at 10:50 pm , by


When pigs fly. That’s when I thought I’d enjoy my baby sister’s boot-camp class—the one she teaches at dawn. Outside in the cold. Involving calisthenics. Me and dawn, we don’t get along. And calisthenics? Can’t think of anything more loathsome and boring. But after a number of years in which her class grew in popularity, guilt got the better of me and I told Caroline I’d attend. Dawn, my nemesis, broke on the morning in question and it was pouring rain. Of course it was. I decided what the heck, I’d do it anyway, maybe rack up a few extra sisterly love points because of the weather; what’s 45 minutes of misery in a lifelong relationship?

To my surprise, a few minutes into the class, I could  hear the flapping of little piggy wings… We broke up into supportive pairs and groups, cheering each other on, we played games—even cards!—which distracted me from the hard-core calisthenics and body-weight exercises, and despite the miserable weather it was gorgeous to be out in nature first thing in the morning. By the end of the class, I was hooked. (That’s me, the tall one in the blue raincoat.) I used to think our other sister, Isabel, was out of her mind for attending, even though it had strikingly reshaped her body. Now I get it. It’s somehow actually…fun!

Ideas on making fitness fun after the jump. Read more

5 Great Ideas for Your Thanksgiving Table

November 17, 2010 at 10:14 am , by

Turkey PlatterThanksgiving is coming up fast, and I’ve barely started to think about what décor will grace my table this year. Luckily, there’s a great selection of holiday-themed products available online. Here are my top picks for a beautiful turkey day table.

1. Snap up a new platter

These serving dishes are from West Elm‘s collaboration with Sesame Letterpress, a boutique letterpress printing studio based in Brooklyn, NY. I especially love the Turkey Platter: it’s perfect for heaping piles of mashed potatoes or sliced turkey, and right now it’s on sale for $31.

Final Orange stamp2. Make homemade place cards

To avoid any drama when it’s time for my friends and family to sit down and tuck in, I’ll spend Wednesday afternoon making place cards and figuring out seating arrangements. Pick up rubber stamps and blank place cards from Paper Source—they have a wealth of Thanksgiving-themed options to choose from. If that’s not your style, try a simple floral design like the one at left. Use gold ink on a dark place card for extra impact. Read more

25 Secret Weapons to Stamp Out Holiday Stress

November 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm , by

Why is it that time always seems to speed up during the holiday season (does everyone else realize that Thanksgiving is next week?!)? It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it goes so fast, and it gets more than a little hectic.

Our friends over at The Motherboard put together this holiday survival guide. It’s got 25 sneaky ways to shop smart, reduce the stress, and get ready for a happy, healthy holiday. Read it now and hopefully it’ll help you slow down the season.

Dishing It: I’m Crummy With Crust

November 11, 2010 at 9:08 am , by

ss_101628926_wlaurasmomMaking apple pie at Thanksgiving is something I’ve always left up to my mom. She is an absolutely amazing cook, but when it comes to baking she bakes one thing (and only one thing) really well: apple pie. I’m really the baker of the family. I make cookies, brownies, bars, cake, cake, cake… but for some reason never pie. So for “Dishing It” this week, I chose to make Ina Garten’s Deep Dish Apple Pie. Not only did I want to try my hand at pie, but I have to admit I have always joked that Ina Garten was my second mom — or at the very least, an aunt. So for this challenge I decided to pit Ina Garten’s apple pie against my dear mom’s apple pie. (That’s my mom on the left, and of course Ina on the right. You have to admit, they could be related, right?)

photo[1]First off just glancing at Ina’s recipe I see a few major differences. She uses lemon and orange zest as well as fresh lemon juice and orange juice! Whoa, I don’t think citrus in any form has ever entered mom’s pie, but I digress (sorry shameless Golden Girls reference there).

So, to begin, I started with Ina’s perfect piecrust. I followed the directions exactly, but when it came time to roll out the dough, the problems began. No matter how careful I was, the crust kept tearing. So I decided to ball it back up and add some more cold water…thank goodness this mostly did the trick. The recipe calls for 6 to 8 tablespoons of ice water, but I think it needs more, perhaps 8 to 10 tablespoons. Maybe this depends on the climate or my over-eager radiator, but mine was too dry on the first attempt. After I figured this out the rest of my pie making night went pretty smoothly. The only other change I made was after about 30 minutes of baking the top of the pie started to get too dark, so I just covered that section with a bit of tin foil.

photo[3]photo[2]After 60 minutes, it was time to take the pie out of the oven. I let it cool slightly, maybe 15 minutes, before I had to have at it. And the verdict is… Sorry Ina, mom wins this one. I’ll admit the crust was delicious and flaky, but I just found it way too citrusy and acidic. I think maybe a little orange zest would have delivered a hint of citrus to compliment the spice, but not with lemon zest and juice and orange juice. My mouth was on citrus overload!  Mom, I’m sorry for ever doubting you. And “Auntie” Ina, I’m sorry but this pie just wasn’t for me. (Don’t worry I still love you for your coconut cupcakes and every other baked confection). — Laura D’Abate, associate photo editor

Guest Blog: What We’re Thankful For This November

November 10, 2010 at 8:07 am , by

I met Jen Singer at a writer’s conference and became a fan of her blog, where she describes herself as “the mother of two boys who talk to me through the bathroom door.” We got to talking about the holiday season and how it’s fashionable to keep a gratitude journal. As LHJ’s health editor, I have to point out that expressing what you’re thankful for has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, help you sleep better and make you feel more happy. But we already know all the obvious ways: yes, we’re grateful for our families, our health, our jobs (if we’re lucky enough to have them). But beyond the big stuff, what about those unsung simple pleasures that can really make your day? For me, for example, I love that on these bright, dry, crisp days of November, my hair doesn’t frizz. Here’s Jen’s list. What’s on yours?


By Jen Singer

1. Chilly weather is an excuse to drink chocolate.

2. I no longer spend my extra “fall back” hour explaining to a toddler why 4:30 a.m. is an ungodly time to awaken for the day.

3. Mom jeans may be inheritajen-beach-10ble but, luckily, there is a cure.

4. I didn’t grow up at a time when every bad perm, lousy boyfriend and stupid choice (i.e. “upside-down margaritas,” belly shirts) are chronicled online forever.

5. “Forgot My Password.” Because too often, I do.

6. The Halloween candy is gone (except for the emergency stash I keep behind the coffee maker. Shhhhh.)

7. My wrinkles mean I have smiled a lot in the sun.

8. Politicians have stopped sending me mail—until 2012.

9. Nobody is wondering why I haven’t sent out Thanksgiving cards.

10. January.

Okay, now it’s your turn. What’s on your list?

Jen Singer is the editor-in-chief of and the author of five books. She is also grateful that this week is her third anniversary in remission from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. We say cheers to that!

Thanksgiving Sides Showdown: Stuffing

October 1, 2010 at 11:39 am , by

This year, we want to make sure we have the ultimate Thanksgiving menu nailed down, and we need your help! Every day we’ll post a poll on different Turkey Day options, and you tell us what’s best. First up: stuffing!