Features

Reuse. Recycle. Repurpose.Transform discarded furniture and yard sale finds into new, useful treasures (1,100 words)
I’m always on the look-out for new ways to use old things. I love finding a second life for still serviceable items.











When you restructure an old dresser or find a new use for wine corks, you save on something you might have bought. Here are some of my favorite projects that breathe new life into items I would have thrown out, donated or offered for pennies at our cul-de-sac’s annual yard sale. And the best part -- you don’t have to be a design maven to pull off any of these re-dos.

Pillow Talk: Pick the perfect pillow for a good night’s sleep
(750 words) If you’ve lost sleep because you nestled your head on the unsuitable cushion, consider these tips before you start your quest for the perfect pillow.
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Six ways to discover this historic city (1,100 words)  Bourbon Street might be the most publicized attraction in this popular vacation spot, but families have discovered New Orleans’ bounty of kid-sized adventures. Paths along New Orleans’ Riverwalk and streetcars on Canal Street are filled with stroller-pushing families, enjoying this unique mixture of Creole hospitality and energetic activities.
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Picking the Perfect Pet: How to find your family’s Fido, Rocky or Boots(1,000 words) This article asks prospective pet owners to answer some questions before bringing that four-legged friend home. Click for more Family Matters.

Eating Out with Kids: How to take stress off the menu when dining with kids (1,100 words). Five moms, with 10 children among them, offer their tried-and true tips for a stress-free (sorta) dining experience. Click for more Parenting.

Climb Aboard the Party Express
(1,700 words) Easy ways to celebrate rites of passage and birthday milestones like first birthdays, Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, Quinceaneras, Sweet Sixteen Birthdays, or the Big 1-8. 

Party at the Park: Nine birthday themes perfect for the outdoors (850-words) Is your home too small to accommodate 10 seven-year-olds running around? Or are you the kind of mom who wants to be more hands-on with party activities. Maybe your budget won’t stretch this year to rent a party place. Click for more Party & Celebrations.

Field Trips to Benefit the Community Too: Service-oriented activities offer a win-win for student, teacher and community (750 words) Click for more Education

From Full Time to Flex Time: How to negotiate an alternative work arrangement (1,300 words) If the advantages of a flexible work schedule appeal to you, but you’re not sure how to get the ball rolling, this article will help. Click for more Women's

Meditation is Good for Your Health (900 words)
Recent studies confirm that meditation's positive effects on overall health and well being. This article outlines eight benefits of meditation. It includes a brief pullout box on how to meditate. Click for more Health & Wellness

Guarding Your Financial Stockpile: How to Evaluate Your Investments in These Challenging Economic Times (950 words)
          
Boomers on the Go: The benefits of remote access to your home security system (900 words) Click for more Baby Boomer News & Articles.

Make Room for Mommy (& Daddy) This 1,100-word article addresses the issue of having an elderly parent move in. It offers facts, help and real-world advice for those who are struggling with this decision. Click for more Caregiver-Aging

Bring your Binoculars – Leave the Laptop: Five Reasons Why Tech-savvy Kids Need Lo-Tech Summer Camp (950 words) Kids learn anywhere -- inside the home and classroom or outside under a tree. Click for more Summer Camp
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Get the Picture
NEW Under a crisp, sunny summer sky, serious faces study programs, debate odds and circle sure winners in the racing form. There are a few minutes to post as my family mills around, each one with an ink pen at the ready.










Reeling in the Deals
NEW The saying goes: It’s OK to be thrifty, but not cool to be cheap. It’s a delicate distinction to draw for this daughter of a single mother who didn’t buy anything unless it was on sale or she had a coupon for it. Glorious was my mom’s smile on those rare occasions when she managed to get both ends of the deal working—on sale and with a coupon. The ride home from the store was happy for a then second-grade girl who may have scored new Barbie clothes, Scooter Pies for her lunch pail or a shiny pair of black patent leather shoes.

From the Kitchen of…














You're Embarrassing Me!
Most people think teenagers worry about getting a date to the prom, scoring a goal in soccer or passing calculus.  Not true.  What keeps teens up at night is wondering when the next mom-sponsored embarrassing moment will arrive. It’s easy to be a source of chagrin to my kids. In the right setting, everything I do (including breathing the same air) can be considered embarrassing. Simple reminders about taking a jacket when it’s cold, asking what the movie is rated or the name of a new girlfriend can qualify for sincere eye rolls.

How My Garden Grows
Like many moms, I took time to garden with my kids, Shawn, Jake and Seth. We planted sunflowers in early spring and watched them skyrocket past each young boy's head by the time summer arrived. I've tried daffodils, tulips and sweet peas--all flowers guaranteed to grow easily for the novice gardener. I also dabbled in spearmint and basil. No luck. I have had great success with rosemary, but I think that's due to nature, not my nuture. My healthiest plant is silk.
I used to brag about my success in growing shamrocks. Then the neighborhood florist told me they were really weeds. That's when I gave up embracing horticulture with any passion. I've seen Ireland's 40 shades of green and my thumb doesn't qualify for even the lightest hue. The true gardener in our family is my husband Nick.

Look Son, No Hands
NEW With a controller in one hand and a spindly book of directions in the other, I’d spent the better part of Saturday morning failing to unlock the secrets of motion-controlled video games. Touted as a great way to infuse aerobic exercise into our daily routine, I’d bought the system for my husband, Nick’s birthday so we could bowl, river raft or score a goal in the comfort of our home.
I pushed every button and highlighted every TV screen option. No luck. Nick tried to help, but we both grew up in the generation that thought Pong and Space Invaders were futuristic. As I coached, Nick stood in front of the system’s motion-detector, resembling an amateur airman flagging down planes. He swung his right arm up, then his left arm out. He might have gotten a bit of a workout, but none of his gyrations got the console to perform.

Piecing Things Together
Forrest Gump compared life to a box of chocolates. I’m a chocolate lover (especially when it’s covering nougat), but I disagree. I think life is more like a box of jigsaw puzzle pieces—1,000 lopsided segments, odd-shaped bits and unfamiliar parts. Some pieces are smooth and easy to recognize; others are downright jagged and unwieldy. You know it’s going to take awhile to figure out which side is up. Like many moments in life, puzzles start out a jumbled mess, but with consistent effort, piece-by-piece, it all comes together. Fun, frustration and unexpected surprises intertwine as the fuzzy picture comes into focus.

Dad's A Catch!
Earlier today--5 a.m., to be exact--I found myself sitting at our kitchen table, both hands curled around a lukewarm mug of coffee. My sons, Shawn, Jake and Seth had just left with their dad for a day of deep-sea fishing. For some crazy reason, I felt the need to get up early and see them off.
      My quartet of fellas--donning jackets, gloves and baseball hats and carrying a tackle box full of fishhooks—looked somewhere between sleepy and joyful as they walked out the front door. An ocean adventure on the horizon. A day on the high seas is not my idea of a great time. The closest I’m willing to get to a body of water is a spa pedicure, like the one I indulged in this afternoon. Thankfully, none of my hobbies involve waking up before the sun rises, taking seasick pills or inhaling the scent of fresh mackerel.
 
The Best of Buddies













1,000 Things to Teach before They Graduate
Seth, the youngest of my trio of sons, graduates from high school this month. Mixed in with the pride of his accomplishments comes the reality that I’m being demoted. The title that I’ve coveted for so many years – through measles and bowl haircuts, Little League and Halloween carnivals -- will change.



























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Articles Your Readers Want.    Writing That's Fresh and Engaging.
Claire Yezbak Fadden is an award-winning journalist, columnist and editor. With more than 25 years of published writing experience, her feature articles, columns and essays have appeared in 100 publications across the United States, Canada and Australia.

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Woman@Heart Columns
Stuck 
on Sticky
Notes
People often ask: Where do you get ideas for your columns? Well, this one came to me during the cool down after my step class. In between calling out commands to stretch our calf muscles, our young instructor, Sabra, lamented that she’s starting to forget things. “I’m now dependent on sticky notes to keep my life in order,” she groaned as we relaxed the biceps in our upper arms. She feared her gray matter was having too many gray moments.    

Birthdays On the Bubble.
It wasn't until I saw my husband Nick, standing ankle deep in a wading pool of homemade bubbles that I realized I’d made a mistake. My son Jake, the birthday boy, and several of his 8-year-old pals wouldn’t have agreed. They were running amuck – bubble wands, hoops and blower guns in hand -- puffing, popping and shooting bubble ammo at each other. They stopped occasionally at this plastic oasis to refuel their bubble-making implements.
That’s A Twist
Standing on my yoga mat, I step my legs about three feet apart and point
my right foot forward. My arms form a T and I rotate from my waist sending
my left hand in the air and my right hand sliding down my left leg toward my foot. Patricia, our yoga teacher, encourages us to “Breathe deeply.”
Some 20 minutes earlier, I’d unrolled my mat in line next to Virginia, Marisol and Beatriz, my yoga pals. There’s a bunch of us who weave this bit of “me-time” into our routine. About 30 men and women relying on these bends, twists and stretches to help unite mind, body and spirit.
The Leader of the Pack
I stood in our backyard holding the chewed wires of what had been our  automatic sprinkler system. Looking up at me was Bandit, our excited, 12-pound rat terrier. Her docked tail wagging to beat the band, she was ready to chase a tennis ball or anything else I cared to throw her way.
    Her soulful eyes seemed to say: “What? What’s the problem?”
She didn’t know how much trouble she (and I) were about to be in with my husband, Nick.
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1,000 Things to Teach before They Graduate
Seth, the youngest of my trio of sons, graduates from high school this month. Mixed in with the pride of his accomplishments comes the reality that I’m being demoted. The title that I’ve coveted for so many years – through measles and bowl haircuts, Little League and Halloween carnivals -- will change.


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Enjoy the Journey

Family friendly
New Orleans

NEW
It's our annual Uncle George Day at the horse races. This group of about 20 is focused on how to parlay two dollars into two hundred.  Everyone, that is except me. My winning ticket involves capturing this moment with one snap of my digital camera. Corralling chickens is easier.
NEW  It’s not fancy. It uses five ingredients, and you won’t find it in the Joy of Cooking. Still, “Aunt Sadye’s Mac & Cheese” is the #1 most requested meal in my home. I’ve served it over and over since my sister Sadye first shared it with me years ago. It had been her son, Thomas’s favorite dinner. I know the recipe by heart, yet I pull out the card--tattered and oil-stained--and read the directions written in her hand.

Eager to help a young bride on the road to becoming a good cook, my sis had tucked a blank recipe card inside each invitation to my bridal shower. Along with dishtowels, waffle irons and food processors, guests supplied me with their family’s treasured recipes.
My family is standing near the avocado trees in a corner of our back yard. There’s whispered conversation, muffled sniffles. Lots of eyes stare at the ground. Occasionally, a finger moves to wipe away tears trailing down a cheek. My husband Nick stands off to the side holding a shovel.

It’s not the first time this solemn-faced group has gathered like this. The seven of us (including family friends, Lisa and Rachel) stood in this same spot two years ago to say good-bye to Max, our soccer-ball chasing terrier-spaniel mix. He’d joined our family 16 years ago after my oldest son, Shawn and then toddler Seth, picked him out as a surprise for their brother Jake’s 7th birthday.