FROM THE MAGAZINE SHELF is an occasional feature of the FOUNTAINDALE LIBRARY REFERENCE BLOG. Postings will highlight titles that you might find of interest, but haven’t picked up to read and explore. In addition to the titles that are in the Magazines Area on the 2nd Floor of our library, postings will also include titles from RBdigital Magazines, formerly Zinio, the library’s digital magazine collection.

If you ventured out to shop this past weekend, you probably were in the company of a sea of shoppers, all looking for that perfect gift and trying to score the ultimate bargain in the process.

The week leading up to the coming winter holidays is, for many of us, a time that can certainly raise stress levels. The hustle and bustle of last minute preparations, the long check out lines at stores, the travel delays, and the race to to get it all done before the jolly old elf and his reindeer arrive, all add up to one big feeling of being overwhelmed.

But…it doesn’t have to be that way…

Our library has a prescription for you to try. It comes in the form of a magazine. The title is REAL SIMPLE. The magazine’s subtitle is LIFE MADE EASIER. You’ll find copies of this year’s issues as well as last year’s in our library’s Newspapers and Magazines area on the 2nd Floor. Directions to follow for this prescription: READ AS NEEDED.

REAL SIMPLE has been around since April of 2000 and our library has subscribed to this monthly publication for many of those years. Let me say, right at the at the outset, that the descriptions of REAL SIMPLE that I came across most often, as I was preparing this post, is that it is a women’s magazine. I’m sure that is the concept of the publication and how the magazine is put together and marketed. You can also clearly see this from the ads that appear in the publication. However, there is so much in each issue that has appeal to BOTH men and women that you would do yourself a disservice to dismiss REAL SIMPLE if you are a fellow.

I wanted to convey what REAL SIMPLE is about. I found the following good commentary about it from “A few years ago, many women realized they were stressed out, carrying too many responsibilities, and working too hard both at work and at home. These women decided to make their lives simpler. Real Simple magazine focuses on the simple lifestyle movement. With articles about easier ways to care for your home, your family, and yourself, its goal is to make your life smoother and stress-free while introducing you to the best ideas and products.

Real Simple magazine’s philosophy of simplicity is reflected in its layout style. Clean, uncluttered pages allow you to focus on articles and ideas. You’ll find articles about reducing stress, simple makeup and hair techniques that look fantastic, easy recipes, organization ideas, uncluttered decor, and ways to remove burdens from your life while retaining all its fullness. Pets, kids, cooking-no matter what you need to simplify, you will find it addressed in Real Simple.

Buying guides are a common part of this magazine, covering products in all price ranges. Real Simple magazine offers tips on spending your money in smarter ways and sometimes road-tests popular new devices to see how well they really work. Real Simple also includes issues on holiday entertaining and other special events like weddings, maintaining its simplification philosophy throughout.

In essence, content, and style, Real Simple magazine is the Zen of periodicals, seeking out different ways to help you calm down your crazy life. If you need some lifestyle simplification, it might be the right magazine for you.”

I’ve outlined below what a typical issue of Real Simple usually might include. It should give you a better idea of what Real Simple is all about…before you even pick up an issue to read.                                                                                                                                 

Each issue follows a similar format throughout the year.

An introductory section each month includes:

  • the Editor’s Note – a brief and timely commentary from Editor-in-Chief Leslie Yazel
  • Real Simple 24/7 (FOLLOW US ONLINE FOR EXCLUSIVE IDEAS, TIPS, AND WAYS TO MAKE LIFE EASIER – EVERY DAY) – A reminder that there is more content at Real Simple‘s online website,
  • Your Words – Readers respond to this month’s question. For December, people spoke to “What accomplishment are you most proud of this year?” Previous issues have included : “What’s your best piece of gardening advice? (June 2018) / “What is your go-to small-talk topic? (January 2018) – I thought this one was perfect for this time of year as many people might be at family get-togethers or parties /  “What’s the family rule that keeps your household running smoothly? (April 2018).
  • The Short List – FIVE BOOKS THAT WON’T DISAPPOINT. As a librarian, I find this feature always interesting. Some of the descriptor categories that appeared over the months have been “Delicious memoir” / “Modern family” / “Small-town whodunit” / “Great for book club” – THIS ONE APPEARS EACH MONTH…so it’s really a help for people who are members of book groups. / “Timely satire” / “Essay collection” / “Inventive debut” / “Historical fiction” / “Beach read” / “Frontier tale” / …and more.

After that, Real Simple breaks the contents of each issue into sections:

  • what we love (EVERYTHING OUR EDITORS ARE BUZZING ABOUT THIS MONTH). For December those things included:
  • Little Helpers – Clever items that make every day better.
  • Presents that Pay It Forward (The December issue suggested purchasing a backpack that was stocked with school essentials for a student in an underfunded neighborhood ).
  • The Staple – Black peppercorns (Each month, Real Simple takes a look at a different food item that you might have in your pantry, like Long-grain white rice, Sesame seeds, Rolled Oats, Canned Tuna, Corn Tortillas …and more…along with interesting ways to use that staple.
  • Pretty Smart – “Beauty buys to save your sanity.”
  • the realist (UNCOMMON SOLUTIONS TO EVERYDAY PROBLEMS) – These vary from issue to issue. Here are a few of the solutions in December’s issue:
  • How to Make a Jar Candle Last – Tips from experts in the candle industry.
  • Hang Holiday Lights in One Day – A straightforward guide from the pros.
  • Cooking School – A trio of easy to put together punches that each require just one bottle of booze.
  • That’s a Wrap – A dozen ways to create appealing wrappings for your holiday gifts.
  • Drugstore Insider – The best beauty products in the aisle, handpicked by a pro.

Other solutions throughout the year have included:

  • Real Simplifier – How to drive safely in the snow (February 2018).
  • Organize This – Learn from a pro organizer the essentials for arranging the garage strategically, so you even have room for your car (June 2018).
  • The Only Cleaners You Need – The right products and utensils help make cleaning the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room faster and better. Selected by a panel of cleaning experts (April 2018).
  • Modern Manners Real Simple’s Etiquette Expert, Catherine Newman, Offers Her Best Advice On Your Social Quandries. This monthly feature is one that a number of readers of Real Simple liked and found helpful, when I was researching the magazine. The time between Christmas / Hanukkah and the New Year can be tense or stressful in many households and this expert has provided helpful information for many situations over the months.
  • Good Read – A new, short written piece (usually three pages) in each issue, by a published author, that is about relationships. The December issue featured “Love, Actually” (Rom-Con fan Priya Krishna wanted a storybook romance, not a practical one like her parents’. Until that’s what she had.” / The author is a food writer and has contributed regularly to The New York Times, Bon Appetit, and other publications. Her latest cookbook, Indian-ish, will be published in April 2019)
  • The Vets Will See You Now – Answers to Your Hairiest Pet Questions from several experts from across the country.
  • balance (WORK, MONEY, AND HEALTH ADVICE FOR BUSY PEOPLE) / These are a few of the selections in this section in the December issue:
  • Stay Healthy Away from Home – How to avoid illness when you travel on vacation. It includes a list of what to pack in a “basic medicine bag.”
  • How to Build Savings at Every Age – Tips from the experts to keep you on track when you are 30 years, 20 years, 10 years, or 5 years away from retirement.
  • How Do You Handle Gift Giving in the Workplace? – Five takes on what can be a difficult topic.

Other topics throughout the year in the balance section have included:

  • Project Declutter – How to succeed at decluttering the entire house, once and for all (January 2018).
  • Wake Up with More Energy – How to start things off right so you can feel peppy and productive all day long (April 2018).
  • Do You Need the Extra Insurance? – When to consider additional insurance for coverage on your pet, your phone, appliances / house systems, jewelry, and more (June 2018).
  • features (SPECIAL TOPICS THAT CHANGE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR) / These are a few of the selections in this section in the December issue:
  • 2018 Holiday Gift Guide – A step-saving way to find the perfect present for everyone.
  • Sweet Sparkles – How to add a little bling to those treats that you’ll be taking to this year’s cookie swap.
  • A Very Modern Mantel – Ways to decorate those difficult areas in your home, from the traditional fireplace to stairwells to doorways.

Features that have appeared during the rest of the year have been:

  • Design Your Bedroom for Better Sleep – A few thoughtful tweaks can transform your room into a dreamy refuge (February 2018).
  • Spring Cleaning By the Clock – Strategies based on how much time you’ve got (April 2018).
  • How to Make Everything in Your Home Last 100 Years (Give or Take) – The definitive guide to taking care of your stuff, so you (almost) never have to replace it (June 2018).
  • food (RECIPES / INGREDIENTS / TECHNIQUES THAT WILL PRODUCE TASTY RESULTS WHILE KEEPING IT SIMPLE / SEASONAL /These are a few of the selections in this section in the December issue:
  • Slow cooker black bean posole.
  • Chicken with salsa, olives, and lime.
  • Prosciutto penne with spinach.
  • Sheet pan salmon with potatoes and Broccolini.
  • Make It Yourself – Frozen pie shells.
  • Vanilla sea salt caramel sauce.

Now that you know a bit more of what Real Simple is about, I’ll leave you with this advice. Check out two issues of Real Simple. Read as needed. Try to keep it simple, as you celebrate the holidays this year.

Remember… what matters most during the holiday season are your family and friends. Enjoy their company and be kind to one another.

Have a Happy Holiday Season!

-Tom D.



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