Posts – Reader's Digest Wed, 21 Jun 2023 06:30:07 +0000 en-US hourly 6,32 Posts – Reader's Digest 32 32 13 “Polite” Ways You’re Talking About Disability That Are Actually Rude Wed, 21 Jun 2023 00:29:12 +0000 Disability is a delicate topic, but these tips will help you approach it in a way that's caring and considerate to those living with a disability.

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Talking About Disability Ft Gettyimages 1179580885

The delicate task of talking about disability

There is no doubt we’ve evolved as a society when it comes to how we treat people living with disabilities. For starters, we discuss disability far more openly now than we did even just a few decades ago—the hashtag #disability boasts over 15 billion views on TikTok, and social media influencers have made huge strides toward normalizing disabilities.

To see a change, just look to the travel industry. These days, you’ll hear stories about disability-friendly airlines making vacations easier for disabled travelers. You’ll come across autism-friendly resorts and tour companies dedicated to those with disabilities.

“Things have gotten better just from social media and people being better advocates for themselves,” observes Allie Schmidt, a disability and accessibility expert and the owner of Disability Dame Consulting, which helps businesses make their packaging and marketing more accessible for the disability community. “There are more institutions throughout the U.S. that are doing a better job of helping people with disabilities advocate for themselves. No one wants to be unaware or do these things unintentionally.”

“Polite” doesn’t always mean “helpful” in the disability community

For those not in the disabled community, however, talking about disability is still a tricky subject. Obviously, using deliberately offensive terms is unacceptable. But according to experts, there’s also the matter of polite habits most people dislike. Several of the “polite” things able-bodied people do or say can actually come off as rude or unhelpful, even when they’re trying to acknowledge someone’s disability with care.

“Words are powerful, and the language we use matters,” says Melissa Blake, a disability expert, activist and social media influencer whose upcoming book—Beautiful People, about what it’s like to live as a disabled person in a non-disabled world—is slated for publication in March 2024. “So much of the language surrounding disability is misguided at best and downright rude and insulting at worst; it’s meant to make non-disabled people less uncomfortable, but it ends up hurting disabled people in the process.”

So how can you navigate these unspoken etiquette rules without unintentionally hurting someone? After all, being mindful of people with disabilities requires a different approach than, say, following proper aging etiquette or mental health etiquette. We asked several people who live with a disability—including Schmidt and Blake—to share their recommendations for avoiding mistakes.

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The Power of Using Microjoys to Live a Grateful and More Present Life Tue, 20 Jun 2023 23:01:58 +0000 Finding those small joys in life can make all the difference.

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Microjoys: Finding Hope (Especially) When Life Is Not Okay by Cyndie Spiegel

The foundation of microjoys is subtlety. In an age of provocative headlines and FOMO, we are deeply attuned to what is loudest and most visible, leaving little space for nuance, quiet beauty and the absurdity of the day‑to‑day. So much of life occurs during the in‑between. And while we are gifting our full attention to the shiniest objects, we allow moments of profound joy, humor and meaning to simply pass us by. Like the rare sound of a bird chirping outside of your loud city window, the gorgeous light formation reflecting on the floor from a slightly open door, mistakenly wearing your underwear inside out (Oh, that was just me then!?) or the first time you notice you have the same hands as a cherished loved one. Ordinary moments like this happen quickly, and within seconds they become missed opportunities for joy.

Microjoys require us to pay attention to the details and acknowledge the fleeting, often miraculous nature of the everyday. As you read these next essays, I invite you to examine your own ordinary and delightful moments of microjoy—those that you’ve already experienced as well as those to come. As you do, try to remember that it is a choice to “put yourself in the way of beauty.”* And also in the way of humor and symbolism too.

* “There’s a sunrise and sunset every day. You can choose to be there for it. You can put yourself in the way of beauty.” —Cheryl Strayed in Wild, quoting her beloved mother

Finding microjoys in a spice shop

My favorite Mediterranean spice shop is in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. It’s been around for well over a century. Though we recently moved, I return to the shop as often as I can. And every single time, I leave with paper bags overfilled with more lovely items than I could ever possibly need.

I walk in and am enveloped by the delicious smell of fresh spices, a multitude of olives and more grains than I ever imagined could exist; bins full to the brim with goodness. I see the same smiling faces of the people who’ve worked there for decades. There is also the one man who insists on singing every time he sees me; it’s equal parts embarrassing and charming, but that kind of familial recognition is just another reason why I keep coming back.

I take a number to purchase bulk foods and wander the store while patiently and impatiently waiting for my number to be called. I hear the sound of fresh peanut butter being ground, a cheesemonger talking about his cheeses in striking detail and the hum of voices and languages that surround all of the daily activity of filling bins, buckets and shelves.

On a recent visit I picked up (in no particular order) lemon salt, rose petal preserves, Sicilian lemon extract, three kinds of olives, pink peppercorns, flake salt and, of course, dark-chocolate‑covered ginger. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with most of these items. But every time I see that jar of rose petal preserves on my counter at home, I’m instantly transported back to that bright winter afternoon that I walked into one of my favorite little shops in Brooklyn.

A place that’s been around this long could easily be overlooked as just a neighborhood grocery. But choosing to vividly see, touch, smell and listen to what happens when I walk through those doors—that is the fundamental magic of being present.

Finding microjoys in a glass piggy bank

On a business trip out West, I picked up a crystal‑clear glass piggy bank from a local shop. I had no particular reason for buying it and no specific person in mind to gift it to. I simply fell in love with it and allowed myself the indulgence of not needing any justification to purchase it.

When I arrived back home, I placed it on a shelf temporarily until I could figure out what to do with it. As the days turned into weeks, I’d drop coins—and sometimes bills—inside. There were two very lucky occasions that $20 bills made their way in as well.

After about a year, the little glass pig overflowed with money, and all of it was found. Shiny pennies discovered in puddles, a nickel left behind on a subway seat, a handful of change from the pocket of a thrifted jacket, a $20 bill left unclaimed on the floor of an empty elevator. Money, in all denominations, seemingly kept appearing wherever I went.

Of course, finding money is a microjoy, an ordinary lovely surprise. But another near‑missed microjoy is the recognition that in not having a specific reason for buying this little glass pig, I’d inadvertently given us a clear vessel to tangibly witness the abundance found in simply paying closer attention to the world around us. And in recognizing that, we experienced so much more of it. Since then, we’ve purchased a second matching glass piggy bank. It, too, is almost full.

Long live small indulgences.

How microjoys make us more in tune with ourselves

Microjoys are accessible to us when we are present. But the paradox is that they can also occur as insights made clear only by looking backward. Microjoys ask that we find beauty in the seemingly mundane, but they also require us to hone the ability to accept life as it is and still find beauty wherever we are. These tiny joys live in the ordinary space of accepting and holding both this … and that; both past and present as truth. Like deep grief and brief moments of pure joy, or overwhelming chaos punctuated by intermittent points of calm. Tragic and peaceful. Large and small. This and that, at any time, can both be true.

Unavoidably, in life we will face difficulties. And when we do, the occasional moments of observing microjoys are profound gifts that allow us the respite we need to briefly come home to ourselves. The time to recognize that though we may be broken, we will become whole once again. Sometimes it is within the confines of two opposite truths that we find the deepest acts of grace. And when that time comes, because inevitably it will, we must learn to be in that middle space and still allow ourselves moments of reflection and reprieve.

Many of us view the world through a simplified lens of right or wrong, leaving little room for nuance with the human experience. But when we do this, we miss out on the middle space of But. And. We miss out on the wisdom in knowing that we can be both happy and sad. Grieving and joyful. Rich and poor. Angry but grateful.

Microjoys teach us to experience and accept multiple, sometimes opposite, truths at once. When we allow ourselves to simply be in that middle space, all things can be true. And this deep knowing is both benevolent and permission giving. It grants us the compassion to accept joy in all forms always, even when life is most difficult.

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5 Best Dog Shoes for Summer To Protect Your Pup’s Paws Tue, 20 Jun 2023 22:47:28 +0000 When the temperatures soar, pavement becomes dangerously hot for puppy paws. Choose dog shoes for summer fun to protect precious paws at the beach, on pavement and from allergies.

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Canada Pooch Soft Shield Dog Boots

Best overall dog shoes

Canada Pooch Soft Shield Dog Boots

The Soft Shield Dog Boots receive top ratings for their performance in winter snow, ice, rain and mud, as well as their ability to protect against hot surfaces. One significant challenge associated with dog shoes for summer is the process of putting them on and taking them off. However, these Canada Pooch boots tackle this issue by incorporating a wide opening, ensuring easy removal for your pet.

The boots securely fasten to the paw using a combination of a toggle at the top, a reflective strap and a hook-and-loop wrap, providing both comfort and practicality for your furry friend. Consider adding them to your essential dog items to keep in your car for off-road adventures.


  • Water-resistant and easy to clean
  • Lightweight canvas construction
  • Ultra-wide opening
  • Soft and flexible rubber grip on sole
  • Four sizes with clear sizing instructions


  • Once wet, takes a long time to dry

Shop Now

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If You See a Yellow Ribbon on a Dog Collar, This Is What It Means Tue, 20 Jun 2023 19:35:05 +0000 Why would a dog have a yellow ribbon on its collar? Hint: It's not a fashion statement. Here's what you need to know.

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If you’re a dog lover, you’ve probably never met a dog you didn’t like. And if you’re a dog owner, you may be the parent of a playful, friendly pooch that wants to be buddies with every new dog they encounter. But dog facts are dog facts, and the fact is, no two dogs are alike. Some are playful, some are fearful, some are anxious and some aren’t as friendly as others. This could be their personalities, or it could be related to trauma, age or nerves. Fortunately, color-coded systems, like yellow ribbons on dog collars, help us decipher dog behavior.

“When a pet parent places a ribbon on their pet, they are looking to communicate with others and may be working to get their dog more comfortable in public or social environments,” says PetSmart training expert Jodie Havens. This system is a great way to indicate which dogs like to be petted by strangers or don’t mind being butt-sniffed by their canine counterparts, and which dogs need a little more space. Just like a red dog collar is a sign of an aggressive dog, a yellow ribbon on a dog collar or leash is a big clue as to that dog’s temperament. But what exactly is an owner or pet trying to tell you when it’s wearing a yellow bandanna or ribbon?

Why You Shouldn't Approach A Dog With A Yellow Ribbon Infographic

What does a yellow ribbon on a dog collar or leash mean?

For owners of skittish dogs, a yellow ribbon is an effective way to communicate with others that this pup needs some space to feel safe and protected, even when out for a walk. A yellow ribbon signals that the dog is most likely fearful or anxious, which might make him snappy with people or pets, and thus, should not be approached.

“Fear of other people or pets is one of the biggest reasons a dog may need more space,” Havens says. Dog anxiety that results in a dog being scared or aggressive could stem from a number of issues. “It could be a lack of early socialization, a lack of enrichment or even a previous history of punishment or previous negative conditioned emotional responses. These issues could make a dog more reactive or aggressive toward others, as most reactivity or aggression stems from fear.”

The dog with a yellow bandanna or yellow ribbon on its dog collar might be a(n):

  • Traumatized rescue dog that’s still getting used to life with its new family and environment
  • Older dog whose senses are dulled and is thus more fearful
  • Deaf, blind or otherwise sensorially compromised dog
  • Dog that’s been attacked by another dog and has PTSD
  • Dog with health issues that cause it pain when touched
  • Nervous dog that’s skittish on a leash and around other animals and humans
  • Service dog in training that needs minimal distractions

Is a dog with a yellow ribbon dog collar aggressive?

A dog with a yellow ribbon won’t necessarily be aggressive. But its fearfulness or anxiety may lead it to cower, growl or try to flee, any of which could create havoc in a dog park. It might also have “fear aggression,” which is aggressive behavior, including barking, snarling and biting that manifests when the dog feels cornered or threatened and can’t remove itself from the situation.

Why did people start putting yellow ribbons on dog collars and leashes?

In North America, the practice of putting a yellow ribbon on dog collars began with the Yellow Dog Project, a movement to help nervous, flighty dogs and their owners. Dog trainer Tara Palardy was a driving force behind the movement because as a trainer, she saw the need for a way for owners to communicate from a distance that their dog didn’t want to be approached. The yellow ribbon or bandanna is visible to individuals who might otherwise approach the dog to play with or pet it.

What to do if you see a dog with a yellow ribbon

The purpose of a yellow ribbon dog collar is to communicate to others that this dog needs its space. So if you see a dog with a yellow ribbon or bandanna, your job is to avoid it. “Respect the space they need,” says Havens. “Go about your business, but avoid eye contact with the dog, slightly turn your body away from the dog and avoid speaking to the handler. These small changes can make a big difference.”

If you’re walking your dog on a leash and you encounter a yellow ribbon dog, just swing a wide berth—let the dog pass with at least several feet between it and your dog. “Do not move closer to the dog, stare at them or try to interact or pet the dog,” says Havens. “Also, do not let your dog approach them, and don’t try to start a conversation with the handler, as this could be triggering.”

If a dog with a yellow ribbon should approach you, Havens says to stay calm. “Slowly turn sideways and move away,” she says. “If you have your dog with you, slowly make a U-turn and calmly move away. Try to prevent your dog from staring by luring him or using cues like a hand target to redirect eye contact.” If your dog is off-leash at the dog park, call it before it can run up to greet the yellow ribbon dog.

And remember: No matter how much you love dogs, no matter how well versed you are in dog behavior and dog facial expressions, don’t think that you or your dog are the exception and that the dog with the yellow ribbon will warm up to you. Chances are that the owner is already anxious about taking their dog out in public and they’re trying to work on its fear issues. It’s not your job to break the dog’s pattern. Be respectful of the dog and its owner, and just leave them alone.


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I Tried the Viral Monos Carry-On, and Its Useful Travel Features Are Seemingly Endless Tue, 20 Jun 2023 19:10:42 +0000 Stop gallivanting around the world with dad’s old piece of luggage from the '80s, and invest in the Monos Carry-On or Carry-On Plus.

The post I Tried the Viral Monos Carry-On, and Its Useful Travel Features Are Seemingly Endless appeared first on Reader's Digest.

Thumbnail Img 2423 Monos Luggage Caitlyn Fitzpatrick

Traveling with the wrong luggage can be a nightmare. No, really. Broken zippers, oversized carry-ons you end up paying an arm and a leg to check and jammed wheels can make a day at the airport way harder than it needs to be. Although it can be tempting to go the budget-friendly route, investing in a piece of high-quality luggage, like the Monos Carry-On, is actually more economical in the long run—and I’m the ideal person to test it.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’m the queen of taking the wrong bag to the airport (so you can trust my judgment on if this carry-on is a pain to take to Timbuktu and back).

What is the Monos Carry-On?

The Monos Carry-On is a sleek piece of luggage designed to fit into virtually any airplane’s overhead bin. Besides being just the right size for a weekend getaway, the Monos Carry-On is crafted with high-quality materials, including aerospace-grade polycarbonate, made to last a lifetime. This polished and functional carry-on has extra-large YKK zippers, a TSA-approved lock and a smooth-operating handle with a hidden button.

 Monos Luggage Caitlyn Fitzpatrick

Shop Now

Monos Carry-On features

If you adore a pop of color or a fun pattern, you’ll be stoked to see that Monos hears you loud and clear. The brand offers a variety of colors for purchase year round and limited-edition prints, like terrazzo, available sporadically.

Besides the color options, you can choose from four different Monos carry-ons: the regular Carry-On, the Carry-On Plus, the Carry-On Pro and the Carry-On Pro Plus. The Carry-On Pro and the Carry-On Pro Plus are the slightly larger versions of the original Carry-On, but are still said to fit into most (but not all) overhead bin space on major airlines. The Carry-On Pro is the same size as the Carry-On, but has the added bonus of a protected laptop space in the bag.

OK, back to the original Carry-On. This bag has a set of four spinner wheels (gone are the days of tipping your suitcase back on two tiny wheels), which spin an impressive 360 degrees. So yes, if you suddenly realize you NEED an iced caramel latte from Starbucks before your flight, you can quickly pivot your suitcase without issue.

I was also impressed with the bag’s built-in compression pad, which helps you stuff every last T-shirt into your bag. To be honest, this was the lifesaver I didn’t know I needed, and it might be for you, too, if you’re a chronic overpacker.

And if you’re into being a responsible consumer, you’ll love Monos’ commitment to being a climate-neutral brand. According to its website, it was one of the “first luggage brands to have net-zero carbon emissions.” Additionally, the brand gives 1% of its revenue to nonprofits dedicated to fighting climate change. How cool is that?

How I tested it

Thumbnail Img 2431 Monos Luggage Caitlyn Fitzpatrick

I recently went to visit my brother in Alabama for some quality sibling bonding time. And wouldn’t you guess that I brought my brand-spanking-new Monos Carry-On for the trip. Besides feeling simply adorable as I walked into the airport, I also didn’t feel like I was dragging a 25-pound boulder behind me. It was easy to move throughout the airport, and it fit neatly into the overhead bin on my regional jet. I was initially concerned it wouldn’t fit in the extremely tight space on such a small plane, but it slid in without issue.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful (in terms of my suitcase), but isn’t that what you hope for with a good piece of luggage? The outside protected my clothes and shoes and kept them dry, and the zippers didn’t move whatsoever during transit. I also felt like the laundry and shoe bags were particularly handy to keep my stinky clothes away from clean items.


  • Only weighs 7 pounds and easy to hoist into overhead bin
  • Outside is water-resistant
  • Inner lining is antimicrobial
  • Comes with internal laundry and shoe bags
  • Compression pad pushes clothing down
  • Available in a variety of colors and patterns
  • 360-degree wheels
  • Outer shell is made of polycarbonate
  • Handle height has four adjustable settings
  • Discrete lock to keep valuables safe
  • High-quality YKK zippers
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Climate-neutral certified
  • Financing is available


  • Pricey
  • Online colors may appear differently in person
  • May scuff slightly in corners


Monos Luggage Caitlyn Fitzpatrick

Does the Monos Carry-On Plus fit in overhead bins?

The Monos Carry-On fits in every overhead bin on any flight (according to the website, I haven’t been on every plane ever). The Carry-on Plus fits in most overhead bins, but not on all smaller regional jets. If you’re someone who takes a lot of regional flights, I’d recommend choosing the regular Monos Carry-On over the Carry-On Plus.

What other reviewers had to say

Want to know what other shoppers truly think (besides yours truly)? Check out their Monos luggage reviews:

“After spending countless hours researching every major luggage brand, I ended up going with Monos and couldn’t be happier,” raves verified buyer, Sarah S. “I purchased both the large check-in and carry-on in olive green. They are so stylish and the quality is top notch. The way the interior is designed is so helpful when it comes to staying organized, and the included laundry and shoe bags are such a nice touch.”

“I appreciate the clean look of the bag and every last detail,” explains five-star reviewer, Elizabeth K. “It rolls so smoothly, it holds so much, it fits everywhere you need it to and it looks like a million bucks.”

“I LOVE the brown carry-on case from the terracotta collection,” says another five-star reviewer, Natalie F. “It’s so sleek, modern and warm! I’m also thankful it works for all airlines, including United (which has one of the smallest dimension requirements). I’m very excited to travel to Spain next month with this beautiful suitcase.”

Final verdict

Honestly, the only people I wouldn’t recommend the Monos Carry-On to are those on a budget–but even then, financing is available through Shop Pay, so no guffawing at the cost! You get what you pay for the majority of the time and, in this case, you’re paying for quality.

If you’re looking for a suitcase that won’t make traveling harder than it needs to be, the Monos Carry-On is it. I was impressed by the caliber of construction, lifetime warranty and careful attention to detail. It’s clear that this is a brand that cares about its consumers and makes sure the little things are just right. And isn’t that the type of product you really want to have for a lifetime?

Where to buy the Monos Carry-On

Monos Carry On Plus

Ready to take flight with a suitcase you can count on? Grab the Monos Carry-On on the brand’s website or Nordstrom. BRB, booking a last-minute trip!

Shop Now

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Readers Share the Best Advice They Ever Got—and These Wise Words Are Gold Tue, 20 Jun 2023 19:01:03 +0000 Readers share the life-changing lessons they were taught by others.

The post Readers Share the Best Advice They Ever Got—and These Wise Words Are Gold appeared first on Reader's Digest.

Has someone ever taught you an unforgettable life lesson? What about sharing life-changing quotes or giving you advice that you’ve followed ever since? Readers wrote in with the best advice they’ve ever received and how it has shaped their lives. For more advice, check out these inspirational quotes or learn the secrets to how to be happier.

Half of a fortune cookie

Clear a path to the door

My grandmother told me to “clear a path to the door every night before bed.” It makes for a smooth escape if there’s ever a fire in the night. But “clearing a path to the door” came, in time, to mean so much more. I learned I’ll be much happier tomorrow if I tidy all the clutter tonight. And it’s a good habit when getting involved with new people or activities. Trying mountain climbing or whitewater rafting becomes possible when I know I have a safe exit plan if it becomes too risky. That “clear path” is always a wise plan. —Glynda Hamilton, Vancouver, WA

Bring the ball

My family moved to a small Virginia football town when I was in fourth grade. I loved football, but I had three strikes against me. I was the “new kid,” from “up north” and—gasp—“a girl.” When I came home from school dejected that nobody would let me play, my mother said, “If you want to play football, you bring the ball.” By next season, if you wanted me on your team, you had to take my little brothers too. I never forgot the lesson. I’ve been “bringing the ball” ever since. —Jacqueline Travers, Woodbine, MD

Know when to go

I was on a four-day float trip down the Colorado River with a large, fun group. At the end, when I said I didn’t want to get off the river, another woman said to me, “It’s always best to leave while you’re still having fun.” It changed my outlook that day, and I’ve applied it to many other circumstances since. —Maren Hirschi, Cedar City, UT

Half of a fortune cookie

Silence your inner critic

While learning to paint landscapes with my boyfriend, I complained that I couldn’t turn off the critic in my head. He told me, “When that happens to me, I say ‘Be quiet, I’m painting here. I’ll talk to you later.’ ” It worked for me that day, and later in graduate school while I was writing papers. His advice made me a more confident person. —Kate Johnson, Conway, SC

Curb your appetite

“Don’t have a champagne appetite on a beer pocketbook.” That was my dad’s mantra. He had been well-to-do early in life but hadn’t changed his spending when he wasn’t any longer. Fortunately, I have a beer appetite. —Mike Fleischmann, Fort Collins, CO

Don’t impress, express

My choir was stressed before a big competition. Right before our turn to sing, our choir director said, “We are not here to impress; we are here to express.” It made all the difference. —Shawn Mecham, Sandy, UT

Half of a fortune cookie

Create a home you love

“Fill your home with things you love, not things you think other people will love.” That was something my mom always said. My home is full of flowers, rabbits, birds, nature, lovely fabrics and elegant glassware. Others tell me it’s beautiful, comfortable and welcoming. But everything in it brings me joy, and that’s what matters. —Becca Brasfield, Burns, TN

Give a gift to a giver

A co-worker gave me a Christmas gift, and I felt bad because I hadn’t gotten one for her. She said, “Every time you receive a gift, you allow someone to be a giver.” She made me feel so good, and I never forgot that. —Cathy Beck, Mesa, AZ

Let it be the squirrel

I was 16 with a new driver’s license. I asked my dad if I could take the car for the afternoon. As he handed me the keys, he said, “Angela, if it’s you or the squirrel, let it be the squirrel.” I realized my dad knew how softhearted I was. I thought I’d hidden it well. —Angela Conti, Turners Falls, MA

Half of a fortune cookie

See the work

My mom was a woman of few words, but one phrase of hers that stuck was “see the work,” which meant see what needs to be done without being told. If toys are left out, put them away. If dishes are being washed, grab a towel and dry. If litter is strewn along the road, pick it up as you walk. I’ve shared “see the work” with countless students, and our halls are always clean and the chairs stacked by the end of the day. Simple advice from a quiet woman. —Wendy Baures, Fountain City, WI

Don’t be too quick to judge

My Mississippian mother used to tell me, “You can’t tell the depth of the well by the length of the handle on the pump.” I think this must be the Mississippi version of “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” —Sarah Jane Garner, Tuscaloosa, AL

Keep it sweet

My dad used to say, “Make your words soft and sweet. Some day you might have to eat them.” Thirty years later, I still hear his voice encouraging me to be patient. —Pattie Weiner, West Springfield, MA

Half of a fortune cookie

Keep moving forward

Several years ago, I heard actress Doris Roberts give a speech in which she said, “Look back, but don’t stare.” She had many words of wisdom that night, but that stuck with me and never left. —Liz Hormel, Fremont, CA

Make time to do it right

“If you don’t have time to do it right the first time, how are you going to find time to do it over?” Advice from my 91-year-old dad that I’ve shared with my daughter and granddaughter. —Sharon Price, Mobile, AL

Habits are like cobwebs

Succinct advice from my grandfather: “Habits are like cobwebs that turn into cables. They can hold you up or hold you down.” —Kirk Goebel, Albuquerque, NM

Half of a fortune cookie

Get your spouse a drink

On planes, they always tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. That advice doesn’t always apply to marriage. Years ago, I heard a wedding officiant say, “When you’re thirsty, get your spouse a drink.” I took it to heart and make every effort to acknowledge my husband’s needs. After 20 years of marriage, he’s gotten even better at it than I have. Marriage isn’t 50-50. When both partners give 100 percent and put one another’s needs before their own, the outcome is far greater than happily ever after.
—S.H., American Fork, UT

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Dog Owners Need to Be Extra Careful Outside This Summer—Here’s Why Tue, 20 Jun 2023 18:35:58 +0000 This common grass could lead to major vet bills. Here's how to avoid any incidents.

The post Dog Owners Need to Be Extra Careful Outside This Summer—Here’s Why appeared first on Reader's Digest.

As dog owners, we have to watch out for a dozen different dangers in our own backyards. Whether that’s a busy lane of traffic, a suspicious stranger or toxic food on the sidewalk, the world can be a scary place for a curious dog. But there’s one common danger many pet owners miss when they take their dog out: foxtails. Here’s everything you need to know about this common plant to keep your dog safe this summer.

What are foxtails?

Foxtails are a type of grass that looks similar to a bushy, short wheat plant. They contain pointy, barbed seeds known as “grass awns” that have long, whisker-like hairs attached to help them disperse in the wind. Foxtails thrive in almost every part of the United States, including urban environments, posing a particular threat to dogs in the summertime.

Why are foxtails a danger to dogs?

a Macro close-up of a Foxtail Plant Pictured on a black background

Because of their unique pointy shape and barbed surface, grass awns can lodge into a dog’s fur and burrow into the dog’s skin. In the most benign cases, this causes irritation and potential infections. However, in the more severe cases, awns can dig all the way through the skin and get stuck internally. Some vets have found the awns in lung lobes during surgery, or that awns have broken open a dog’s eardrum.

Where do foxtail seeds lodge in a dog’s body?

Foxtails can really burrow anywhere on a dog, but some body parts are more vulnerable than others, such as the paws, nose, and ears. Dr. Ashley Bourgeois, a board-certified pet dermatologist in Portland, Oregon, explains that dogs can “step on these little barbs, get them embedded in their fur. We can also see them go in other areas of the body. Up the nose is not uncommon. As a dermatologist, I’ve taken quite a few out of ear canals.”

Which dogs are most commonly affected by foxtails?

Foxtails tend to impact dogs with long or fluffy fur most often. These fur types give the grass awns plenty of surface to latch onto, as well as limit visibility for owners. Additionally, working or hunting dogs that spend a lot of time off-trail may be particularly susceptible. Still, short-haired dogs are not immune. Even cats can be burdened by foxtails if they go outside.

How can I prevent foxtails from hurting my dog?

You can prevent foxtails from bothering your fur baby with a few key steps. First, always avoid walking your dog over obviously foxtail-laden terrain. Second, after each outdoor excursion, scan your dog for foxtails. Bourgeois suggests looking in between the dog’s toes and flipping back their ears for a full inspection. Third, comb your dog’s fur to find and dislodge any potential foxtails.

Lastly, know the signs that your dog may be in pain due to a possible foxtail implant. If your dog has any red or irritated patches of skin, is scratching their ears, or licking their paws, they’re trying to tell you something! Additionally, Bourgeois explains, “If [a dog] gets a grass awn up their nose, one of the signs that we’ll hear of is very abrupt sneezing. So, also just [look] for things that aren’t normal.”

What do I do if I see a foxtail on my dog?

Dried spike of foxtail grass in the red hair of a long-haired dog

If you suspect a foxtail awn has lodged itself into your dog, call your vet immediately. If left unattended, awns can burrow deeper, so time is of the essence. If caught immediately, vets can often simply remove the awn, flush the area, and monitor the dog. Because awns can cause irritation, monitoring is crucial. “I have had cases where I remove something, I think it’s looking pretty good, and then we’ll find out a week or two later there is some infection.” If the awn is deeply embedded, surgery may be necessary.

Fortunately, many of these more dire situations can be avoided with just a little extra attention. As Bourgeois says, “If [you]’re being proactive, preventative, [and] seeking care early if it’s not getting better or something acutely is happening, then you’re really going to prevent a lot of those extreme things from occurring.” Here’s to safe summer walks with your best friend!

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The 3 Best Airlines for Disabled Travelers Tue, 20 Jun 2023 18:15:13 +0000 Which airline is best for disabled passengers? While air travel can be overwhelmingly inaccessible for many, a few airlines are working to prioritize the needs of those with disabilities.

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The first time my wheelchair was damaged by an airline, I was 10 years old and heading on a two-week family vacation to Hawaii. I remember gleaming with excitement thinking about all the things I’d experience on this getaway of a lifetime. Unfortunately, the trip would mark the beginning of a lifelong battle with inaccessibility while flying, as well as a heightened understanding of which airline is best for disabled passengers.

Our itinerary included a stopover in Dallas, where we waited on board the plane for my wheelchair to be brought to our gate. Looking through the window, we watched as baggage handlers unloaded everyone’s luggage, piling it high on large trolleys. Amidst the flurry of bags, however, we noticed something alarming—my sparkly purple wheelchair, the lifeline that allowed me to navigate the world, was carelessly hurtling down the conveyor belt. It was treated no differently than a bag filled with beachwear.

My parents and I watched in horror. This wasn’t just mishandled baggage or bad customer service. How could it get any worse? Then one of the employees jumped in my wheelchair and gleefully zoomed around the area as if it were a toy race car. My parents banged on the plane window, desperately trying to get their attention. Equally stunned flight attendants scrambled to radio down and caution them to be careful. But the damage was already done. When my wheelchair arrived, both back tires were punctured, the armrests were broken off and the joystick was hanging by a thread. I was robbed of my mobility for the duration of our two-week paradise retreat.

Challenges of flying as a disabled person

Unfortunately, not much has changed since that incident. Air travel remains overwhelmingly inaccessible for disabled individuals. It not only requires meticulous planning, but disabled travelers must also accept more risks and endure more discomfort than other passengers. Consider this:

  • Wheelchairs may not be used on flights. Unlike when traveling by bus, train or virtually any other mode of transit, disabled people are not permitted to stay seated in their wheelchairs during flights. Instead, they must be transferred into a seat. The risk of injury while being transferred into the aircraft is significant, and many individuals also become increasingly susceptible to pressure sores from being out of their specialized seating.
  • Airplane bathrooms are rarely accessible. And they are rarely large enough to accommodate a caregiver if required. Disabled people may be forced to hold their bladder or resort to uncomfortable methods like catheters or diapers.
  • Crews may not authorize the transportation of necessary items. While every airline has different policies, it is not uncommon for airline crews to give disabled passengers a hard time regarding the transportation of medications, specialized medical equipment or service animals. And often, a burdensome amount of paperwork is required for prior authorization.
  • Thousands of wheelchairs and mobility aids are broken every year by U.S. airlines, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Air Travel Consumer Report. Damaged wheelchairs may be caused by crews physically lifting them onto conveyors, leaving motorized vehicles out in adverse weather or not securing them in cargo holds. This mishandling leaves disabled people without mobility, independence and dignity.

Which airlines are best for disabled passengers? recently conducted a ranking of the best and worst airlines for disabled passengers using the DOT’s Air Travel Consumer Report, which collected data from November 2021 to October 2022. The evaluation focused on various factors, including mishandled wheelchairs, disability complaints, on-time arrivals, canceled flights and extreme delays.

While Spirit and JetBlue are popular budget airlines, they were ranked as the worst airlines for disabled passengers, primarily due to their high rates of mishandled wheelchairs. Both airlines mishandled wheelchairs more than 5% of the time (the industry average is 1.55%).

Unfortunately, JetBlue’s performance in 2023 hasn’t improved. On April 17, Colleen Flanagan, an employee of the Boston mayor’s disability commission, flew with JetBlue from Boston to Washington, D.C., during which her wheelchair was completely demolished after allegedly falling out of the cargo door. According to USA Today, the airline gave her a loaner chair while they worked on getting it fixed, but because Flanagan has osteogenesis imperfecta, she can easily break bones and relies on her highly specialized motorized wheelchair to safely navigate her everyday life. Her community involvement has been heavily impacted as a result of JetBlue’s negligence.

Thankfully, there are airlines that have a better reputation for transporting passengers with disabilities—and their mobility aids. Which airline is best for disabled passengers? Here’s the list.

United Airlines

United Airlines came in third place in’s rankings of the best airlines for disabled passengers. In fact, United ranked third in every major category that affects disabled passengers—mishandled wheelchairs, disability complaints, on-time arrivals and canceled flights.

Jody Schwartz, a recent passenger on United, shared that she had a very positive experience with the airline. Although her mobility scooter experienced minor damage in transit, the airline’s insurance company was extremely quick to rectify the issue and even replaced the mobility aid with a brand-new one, she says. Despite the original mishap, Schwartz felt that she was treated very fairly.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest took the second-place prize on this list, living up to its ranking as one of the best airlines for disabled passengers. It’s one of the best airlines when it comes to disability and general passenger complaints, according to the DOT’s Summary of Disability-Related Complaint Data. This data considers disability-related security issues, refusing to board a passenger, failure to provide assistance, seating accommodations and service animal problems. But while Southwest seems to outweigh its competitors in those important areas, the airline does rank low (No. 6) for mishandled wheelchairs. As such, disabled passengers without mobility aids might be best suited for this airline.

Delta Airlines

Which airline is best for disabled passengers? Delta Airlines. Delta knocked it out of the park, scoring best or second best in almost every category. Most important, Delta had a relatively low incident rate of mishandled wheelchairs, at 0.83%. (Keep in mind, though, that even this small percentage means that more than 1,600 mobility devices were damaged in one year—about 134 per month, or four per day.) While Delta fares better than its competitors, these statistics are still far from commendable.

With that being said, Delta Flight Products, a subsidiary of Delta Airlines, has revealed a working prototype for a new wheelchair-friendly cabin. Designed in collaboration with U.K.-based organization Air4All, the concept allows disabled passengers to remain in their own wheelchairs throughout the flight. This design seamlessly converts a standard airplane seat to accommodate a wheelchair, and notably, no structural modifications are required. The airline hopes to obtain approval for commercial use within 18 months, pending successful testing. I’m grateful to see Delta addressing the inequalities in air travel for the disabled community and actively working toward improvement.

Air travel will likely never be entirely easy or risk-free for individuals like me, even if we know the best Google Flights hackshow to book the best flightshow to get the best airfare or how to use flight price trackers. But knowing which airlines are best for disabled passengers (and which actually prioritize our needs) before booking that next flight can help alleviate some of the associated anxiety.


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8 Best Shampoos for Frizzy Hair Tue, 20 Jun 2023 17:26:14 +0000 Smooth hair starts in the shower with these frizz-busting shampoos.

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Briogeo Farewell Frizz Smoothing Shampoo

Best overall

Briogeo Farewell Frizz Smoothing Shampoo

For any hair from straight to curly, Briogeo’s frizz-smoothing shampoo claims to fight frizz up to 48 hours. The sulfate- and silicone-free formula rinses away excess oil and dirt while the rosehip, argan and coconut oils lock in hydration and seal out humidity—which everyone knows is the number one culprit for fuzziness. This shampoo also earned Sephora’s Clean + Planet Positive seal, for leaving out ingredients that may be harmful to human health and the earth’s environment.


  • Best for all hair textures
  • Sulfate- and silicone-free
  • Cleans while hydrating
  • Seals out humidity
  • Increases shine


Shop Now

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The 6 Best Dyson Vacuums for Every Home Tue, 20 Jun 2023 15:05:12 +0000 There's a reason that Dyson is a household name in cleaning. These are the best Dyson vacuums, according to experts and user reviews.

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Dyson V15 Detect Absolute

Best overall

Dyson V15 Detect Absolute

Looking for an intelligent cordless vacuum cleaner that’s powerful enough for whole-home deep cleaning? The recently updated Dyson V15 Detect Absolute is the best Dyson vacuum for you. This clever cleaning gadget is a handheld and stick vacuum in one, as the wand detaches and reveals a dusting and crevice tool.

The updated model features headlights that illuminate the floor as you vacuum to identify debris you might otherwise miss. Instead of having to manually change settings for carpet versus hardwood, the V15 detects floor type and dust volume and adjusts accordingly. A multi-stage HEPA filtration system captures allergens, making this a great option for homes with pets or people with allergies.

As for run time, the V15 gets up to 60 minutes of vacuum per 4.5-hour charge, which counts down on the crystal clear LED screen so you know how much cleaning time remains. Accessories that come with the 6.83-pound vacuum include two heads and three tools—including a hair screw tool to pick up both short and long hairs—a docking station and a charger.


  • The best Dyson vacuum for whole-house cleaning
  • A cordless stick vacuum and handheld all in one
  • Headlights illuminate so you can see what you missed
  • Automatically adjusts for different floor types
  • HEPA filter
  • 60-minutes of run-time per charge


  • Take 4.5 hours to fully charge

Shop Now

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I’ve Tried Hundreds of Viral Items—Here Are the TikTok Products Worth Buying Tue, 20 Jun 2023 14:48:50 +0000 We did the research for you! These popular TikTok products actually live up to the hype! Find out which trending items are worth buying.

The post I’ve Tried Hundreds of Viral Items—Here Are the TikTok Products Worth Buying appeared first on Reader's Digest.


Before And After Pink Stuff

The Pink Stuff All-Purpose Cleaning Paste

The Pink Stuff, one of those viral TikTok products that really works, has more than 112,000 five-star reviews on Amazon backing it up. Although I hate cleaning, I oddly find this all-purpose paste satisfying as it cleans virtually anything and everything. Recently, I rearranged my children’s car and booster seats in my minivan, only to discover the horrifyingly dirty condition of the seats.

I experimented with three different cleaning products in an attempt to remove the stains from the seats, but none of them proved effective. The Pink Stuff became my last resort before considering an appointment to have my car detailed, and to my surprise, the stains came off within seconds with minimal effort! So if this isn’t one of the best things to buy on Amazon, I don’t know what is.

Shop Now on Amazon

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10 Orange Cat Breeds That Have Head-Turning Coats Tue, 20 Jun 2023 07:00:00 +0000 Meowza! Nothing draws your attention like an adorable orange cat.

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Orange Cat Lying On A Grey Plaid

Orange cat breeds for the win!

Even if you’re not a cat person, per se, it’s hard to resist a gorgeous cat—or at least a gorgeous cat picture. That’s why you’re going to love scrolling through these images of sweet kitties with show-stopping orange coats. You’ll find a fluffy cat breed that loves to snuggle, a cat that looks like a tiny tiger, a rare cat breed and more friendly felines that make great pets. In fact, these orange cat breeds are so sweet and so cute that this story might convince you to adopt one (or another one), in which case you should check out these unique cat names.

Are orange cats rare?

While it’s not uncommon to see an orange kitty, it is rare to see an orange female cat. According to Science Focus, you’re three times more likely to encounter a male orange cat than a female orange cat. Why? The fascinating web of cat genetics. Turns out, the ginger kitty gene lies in the X chromosome, so males only need one X chromosome to get that gorgeous orange color. Females, on the other had, need two X chromosomes to don a beautiful orange wrap.

Ready to see these adorable ginger cats? Check out our list of gorgeous orange cat breeds and learn about their interesting personalities. And because there’s no such thing as too many cats, once you’ve become an orange cat expert, you’ll also want to learn more about these stunning black cat breeds and gray cat breeds.

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How to Turn Off Siri on Your iPhone Mon, 19 Jun 2023 09:00:39 +0000 Apple's smart personal assistant can be equal parts helpful and distracting. Here's how to turn off Siri and disable Siri suggestions on your iPhone.

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Since its introduction in 2011, Siri has revolutionized how many interact with their iPhones and other Apple devices. Apple’s intelligent personal assistant can perform various tasks with simple voice commands, answer questions, provide suggestions, give directions and even interface with many smart home appliances and accessories—including Apple HomeKit devices. The ability to simply ask Siri to do something for you is one of the handiest and most popular iPhone shortcuts out there.

While Siri is undeniably useful—and has become an ever-present helper in the daily lives of many iPhone users—there may be instances when you prefer not to have this smart assistant listening in. So whether you value your privacy, want to save battery life or simply find Siri’s suggestions distracting, we’ll show you how to turn off Siri and Siri suggestions on your iPhone so you can better customize your iPhone experience.

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How to turn off Siri

How To Turn Off Siri Gettyimages

When you get a new iPhone, you’ll be prompted to set up Siri during the initial startup process. If you decline to do this, Siri is disabled by default. However, if you’ve set up Siri on your iPhone and now want to turn it off, it’s easy to do. Simply follow these steps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and tap on “Siri & Search.” It should be in the third group of Settings options.
  3. On the next screen, toggle off the switch next to “Listen for ‘Hey Siri.'”

By turning off this feature, your iPhone will no longer respond to the “Hey Siri” wake phrase, effectively preventing Siri from listening for your voice. However, you can still activate Siri manually by pressing and holding the Side button (iPhone X or newer) or Home button (older iPhone models). Siri can also still be used with CarPlay when “Hey, Siri” is toggled off. To completely disable Siri, toggle off the “Press Side Button for Siri” option on this screen. Note that doing this will turn Siri off for all applications, including CarPlay.

Should you decide to reenable Siri, retrace the steps you performed above to toggle Siri back on. Siri will then be reactivated, and you can again enjoy the convenience of using Apple’s virtual assistant. Also, it’s never a bad idea to clean your iPhone’s charging port.

How to turn off Siri suggestions

Along with the aforementioned functions, Siri can provide suggestions to you in several ways. For instance, Siri can recommend apps, suggest keywords when you’re performing an online search or suggest contacts when you’re about to make a call or send a text message. While these can certainly be helpful, they can also be intrusive. If you find Siri’s suggestions on your iPhone distracting or prefer not to see them, you have a few ways to disable them. To start with, you can disable simple search suggestions by following these steps:

01 How To Turn Off Siri Suggestions Gettyimages

  1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  2. Scroll down and tap on “Siri & Search.”
  3. Locate “Show Suggestions” beneath “Before Searching” and toggle off the switch next to it.
  4. Additionally, under “Suggestions from Apple,” you can toggle off the switches next to other categories like “Show when Sharing” or “Show when Listening” to disable specific Siri suggestions. You can also disable notifications for Siri suggestions entirely by toggling off “Allow Notifications.”

To turn off app-specific suggestions, you must disable Siri suggestions for each particular app. Here’s how to do this:

02 How To Turn Off Siri Suggestions Gettyimages

  1. Scroll down to the bottom in the “Siri & Search” menu in the Settings app. You’ll find a list of every app Siri can interface with on your device.
  2. Select the app for which you’d like to disable or modify Siri suggestions.
  3. The available options will vary from app to app, but you can disable or modify Siri suggestions using the various toggles. For example, you can disable in-app search recommendations or prevent Siri suggestions from appearing on the Home Screen when that app is running in the background.
  4. Additionally, you can prevent Siri from studying your app usage habits by disabling the “Learn from this App” toggle at the top when you select an app. This stops Siri from tracking usage of that particular app and tailoring suggestions based on your habits.

Note that the above steps must be followed for every app in which you want to disable Siri suggestions and other Siri actions. Following these steps, you can disable or customize Siri suggestions and benefit from a more personalized (and perhaps less intrusive) iOS experience.

While Siri can be an invaluable tool for many users, there are situations where you may prefer to turn it off temporarily or even permanently. Thankfully, Apple offers users a lot of control over their iPhone experience—as well as useful tricks. By disabling Siri and Siri suggestions on your iPhone, you can regain control over your device’s functionality and better protect your privacy by preventing Apple’s smart assistant from listening in. Ultimately, the choice is yours, and following the steps above should make it easy for you to tailor your iPhone’s virtual assistant experience to your preferences.

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Meet the Man Who Raises Money for the Homeless by Painting Their Portraits Mon, 19 Jun 2023 08:00:23 +0000 A picture really is worth a thousand words.

The post Meet the Man Who Raises Money for the Homeless by Painting Their Portraits appeared first on Reader's Digest.

Brian Peterson with portraits of friends
Brian Peterson with portraits of friends

It all started with a simple question: “Can I paint your portrait?”

In the summer of 2015, Brian Peterson and his wife, Vanessa, had just moved to Santa Ana, California. Outside the couple’s fourth-floor apartment, an unkempt homeless man was often yelling on the street corner, sometimes keeping them awake at night. Peterson, 28, would pass the guy on his way to his job as a car designer at Kia Motors, but they never spoke. What could they possibly have in common?

One day, Peterson was relaxing in his living room, reading the book Love Does, about the power of love in action, when his quiet was disturbed by the homeless man. Inspired by the book’s compassionate message, Peterson made an unexpected decision: He was going to go outside and introduce himself.

In that first conversation, Peterson learned that the man’s name was Matt Faris. He’d moved to Southern California from Kentucky to pursue a career in music, but he soon fell on hard times and ended up living on the street for more than a decade.

“It was the weirdest thing to me,” Peterson recalled later on the podcast Top Artist. “I saw beauty on the face of a man who hadn’t shaved in probably a year, had overgrown fingernails, probably hadn’t had a shower in close to a year. But his story, the life inside of him, inspired me.” And even though Peterson, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art, hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in about eight years, he found himself asking if he could paint Faris’s portrait. Faris said yes.

Peterson’s connection with Faris led him to form Faces of Santa Ana, a nonprofit organization focused on befriending and painting portraits of members of the community who are unhoused. Working from a black-and-white photo of the subject taken with his phone, Peterson chooses ­colors inspired by the subject’s personality and life story, creating a poignant portrait. He showed one man winning his battle with alcoholism, for example, by transitioning the colors from a somber blue to a brilliant scarlet.

Peterson sells the paintings and puts proceeds into “love accounts.”

Peterson sells the vibrant 30-by-40-inch canvas—signed by both subject and artist—for a few thousand dollars, splitting the proceeds and putting half into what he calls a “love account” for his model. He then helps people use the money to get back on their feet.

Many of Peterson’s new friends use the donations to secure immediate necessities—medical care, hotel rooms, food. But Peterson has learned not to make assumptions about what a person needs most. “I’ve made so many mistakes thinking I knew what people wanted,” he says. “Then I realized: Why don’t we just ask them?”

Faris used the funds from his portrait to record an album, fulfilling his musical dreams. Another subject, Kimberly Sondoval, had never been able to financially support her daughter. She asked, “Can I use the money to pay my daughter’s rent?” When the check was delivered, “they both wept in my arms,” Peterson recalls.

In the eight years since Faces of Santa Ana was established, Peterson, who now lives in Miami with his wife and children, has formed a new nonprofit called Faces of Mankind, a collective of artists who are creating portraits of people experiencing homelessness around the country.

Peterson has painted 41 of these portraits himself. But there’s more to the finished products than the money they bring to someone who’s down and out. He’s discovered that the buyers tend to connect to the story of the person in the painting, finding similarities and often friendship with someone they might have otherwise overlooked or stereotyped.

“People often tell me, ‘I was the one that would cross the street. But I see homeless people differently now,’ ” Peterson says. “I didn’t know that would happen.”

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13 Annoying Habits That Could Be Sabotaging Your Friendships Fri, 16 Jun 2023 23:42:05 +0000 Two experts share the seemingly small things you're doing that could have a big impact on your friendships—and what to do instead if you want to know how not to be annoying.

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Happy oddball girlfriends embrace outdoors with watermelon in hand

How not to be annoying to your friends

When it comes to living a long, healthy and happy life, your relationships are the single biggest factor in how you fare, according to the ongoing Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest-running study of adult health and happiness in the world. And the research isn’t just talking about your romantic partners. In fact, some friendships can be just as, if not more, impactful over the course of your life. So knowing how important our friends are, how do we nurture these relationships and keep them strong? A good place to start is understanding how not to be annoying.

Many of us worry about being a burden to our friends, and the last thing we want to do is push our pals away. (After all, it’s hard enough to make friends as an adult!) But while we don’t go out of our way to be annoying, sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we still do things that can get on other people’s nerves. Thankfully, if your goal is to avoid being that person, there are steps you can take, from learning etiquette rules and etiquette mistakes (like these annoying texting habits) to understanding the polite habits most people dislike.

We asked relationship experts for intel on how not to be annoying and how to strengthen all your friendships. Read on to learn the habits that could be sabotaging your relationships—and what to do instead.

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Why Do We Laugh? The Science Behind Laughing, According to Experts Fri, 16 Jun 2023 20:42:20 +0000 There's way more to our giggles and guffaws than simply thinking something is funny. We asked a laughter expert to explain.

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No vocalization is more universal (or unifying) than laughter. There are no language or cultural barriers—everyone everywhere understands the concept—and there’s no learning curve. “Babies don’t need to have seen or heard laughter to know how to do it,” says Sophie Scott, PhD, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London and one of the world’s leading experts on laughter. But why do we laugh?

According to scientific studies, it’s not just funny one-liners, funny words, funny photos or funny movies that elicit chuckles. In fact, humor isn’t even the main reason we laugh. Curious about the cause of our giggles and guffaws, we asked Scott to explain the science behind laughter, including the health benefits. This is guaranteed to make you want to laugh more every day.

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What is laughter?

“Laughter is a nonverbal emotional expression,” Scott explains. “The emotion that we seem to be expressing with it is joy, but it’s a social joy that is primarily experienced with other people.”

The community aspect of joy is paramount to understanding the reasons we laugh. While people certainly can (and do) laugh when they are alone, they’re much less likely to than when they’re around other people. According to a scientific paper published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, people are 30 times more likely to laugh if they are with someone else than if they are alone.

But it’s not something we do intentionally, at least not when it comes to the sort of genuine laughter that bubbles out of us. What’s more, there are times when we can’t help but laugh (and can’t stop), such as if we’re being tickled.

So what exactly is happening in the body when we laugh? Scott explains that laughter is a physiological response. When we laugh, the brain releases endorphins, which relax the whole body. Our facial muscles and respiratory system are both involved in laughter.

In other words, we’re hardwired for laughter. Everyone has the ability to laugh, even blind babies who have never seen laughter and deaf babies who have never heard it. Other mammals laugh too, including rats when they are tickled. “It’s likely that many species of animals laugh and we just don’t realize it because we don’t know what their laughter sounds like,” Scott says.

Why do we laugh?

Lovely little girl smiling at the camera while playing on a swing set in playground joyfully

Sure, you’ll snicker at silly dad jokes and funny pickup lines, but contrary to what many believe, finding something funny is not the only cause—or even the main cause—of those chuckles. So why do we laugh? There are four primary reasons, and they relate to our need for social connections, our desire to cloak our emotions, our uncontrollable bodily responses and, of course, our sense of humor.

For social connection

Scott points to social connection as the main driver of laughter. Yes, this plays an even bigger part in your belly laughs than hilarious jokes or funny songs.

“Most laughter happens as part of social interactions,” she says. Scientific research supports that. Remember the findings of the Trends in Cognitive Sciences paper? We’re 30 times more likely to laugh if we’re with someone else than if we’re alone. Another study found that people who don’t have many social relationships and live alone laugh less than those who have more social relationships and don’t live alone.

To mask our emotions

People don’t just laugh to express joy. Scott says that sometimes we laugh to mask other emotions. Feeling anger, anxiety or fear can lead to laughter (hence the term nervous laughter). Whether consciously or not, we may use laughter to manage these difficult emotions.

It’s a bodily response

Some people laugh as a response to bodily stimulation—namely, tickling. Scientists still don’t know exactly why tickling leads to laughter, but they do know it’s uncontrollable and involves the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that controls mood (along with body temperature, hunger and heart rate); the parietal operculum, an area involved in sensory, motor, autonomic and cognitive processing; the amygdala, where emotions are processed; and the right cerebellum, which is associated with language.

We find something humorous

It may not be the No. 1 reason we cackle uncontrollably, but finding something funny does make us laugh. Consider comedy movies. Many people find watching someone fall, an essential element of slapstick comedy, particularly humorous. Why do we laugh at this? According to a scientific paper published in Neuropsychologia, the facial expressions of the afflicted can cause us to laugh. When someone falls and looks bewildered, we find this funny.

Is laughter contagious?

Cheerful young friends laughing while sitting on sofa during party

Chances are, you’ve been here: surrounded by friends and watching as laughter falls like dominoes around the group. Pretty soon, you’re all shaking, bellies aching with uncontrollable, unstoppable laughter. And it all started with a single, small snicker.

Yep, laughter is contagious. Scientific studies back this up, showing that laughter is contagious in the same way yawning is; often, it’s uncontrollable.

Scott says that the reason we laugh when we see someone else laughing has to do with laughter as a form of social bonding. It’s a way to demonstrate affection and (at least most of the time) shared joy. Social bonds are so critical to the human species that, sometimes, we don’t even realize we’re laughing as a way to connect with others.

Why do we cry when we laugh?

Just like laughter, the tears we produce when we’re laughing are uncontrollable.

When something has us in stitches—a witty dark joke, say—we’ll often find ourselves tearing up. This uncontrollable response is particularly interesting: We generally view laughing as an expression of a positive emotion and crying as an expression of sadness.

“Science doesn’t have a clear answer on why some people cry when they laugh,” Scott says. “One hypothesis is that people produce tears when they’re feeling helpless, and the tears are marking that. But it’s just a hypothesis, and it hasn’t been proven.” Either way, don’t be surprised if a sidesplitting episode of your favorite sitcom has you reaching for the tissues for a happy reason.

What are the health benefits of laughing?

Perhaps a better question than “Why do we laugh?” is “What are the benefits of it?” Science is clear that laughter is good for us. But Scott emphasizes that it’s virtually impossible to know if the health benefits stem directly from laughing or from the socialization that typically goes hand in hand with laughter. To her point, numerous studies have shown that social connection is beneficial for health and can even add years to our lives. Bearing this in mind, below are six health benefits linked to laughter.

Laughter relieves stress

“When we laugh, levels of cortisol—known as the stress hormone—go down,” Scott says. “You also get an uptick of adrenaline, and endorphins are released.” This leads us to feel happier and more relaxed. One study even suggests it’s a good add-on to the treatment of stress and depression.

So next time work has your stress levels creeping up (way up), pause to read funny work memes or scroll through humorous social media accounts to get a bit of relief.

It could relieve pain

Studies have shown that laughter is useful for people coping with both physical and emotional pain. Though the research is still young, the connection likely comes back to the fact that laughing releases endorphins.

It probably won’t take your pain from unbearable to zero, but humor could be just the distraction you need to get through a tough time. Give it a go by cueing up your favorite Hulu comedy, or picking up one of the funniest books of all time.

It strengthens relationships

Married couple embracing in front of residential home

When University of California psychology professor Robert Levinson invited couples into his lab and asked them to discuss things about their partner that irritated them, he found that the couples who tackled this stressful situation using humor and laughter had higher levels of relationship satisfaction.

On a related note, having the same sense of humor as your partner can strengthen your relationship.

Laughter burns calories

According to a Vanderbilt University study, laughing for 10 to 15 minutes can increase your heart rate and oxygen consumption enough to burn 40 calories. That may pale in comparison to an actual workout, but it’s not too shabby as a side effect of enjoying yourself.

It’s good for your brain

Research from Loma Linda University shows that laughing improves the short-term memory of adults in their 60s and 70s. In a randomized, controlled trial, participants who watched funny videos had 44% better recall ability than participants who were asked to sit quietly—a pretty remarkable difference!

Laughter is good for your heart

Heart disease is nothing to laugh at … or is it? Research suggests laughter may be good for your ticker. In a 2016 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology, University of Tokyo researchers asked people who were 65 years old or older how often they laughed aloud, finding that those who said they almost never laughed had a higher risk for heart disease and stroke than those who laughed daily, who may have been protected by laughter’s ability to reduce stress.

Laughter is the best medicine

Considering the many and varied benefits of laughter, you may be wondering whether smiling can be just as rewarding. Science does show there are benefits to smiling—it can create social bonds, for example. But it won’t make you feel happier or relaxed the way laughter can. Since it takes less effort to smile, it likely has fewer cardiovascular benefits and burns fewer calories as well.

So next time you feel the urge to laugh burbling up, don’t hold back. And if you need something to get the giggles going, consider spending time with people who bring you joy. It just might add years to your life!


  • Sophie Scott, PhD, professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London
  • Trends in Cognitive Sciences: “The social life of laughter”
  • BMJ Open: “Impact of social relationships on income-laughter relationships among older people: the JAGES cross-sectional study”
  • Cerebral Cortex: “Exploration of the neural correlates of tickling laughter by functional magnetic reasoning imaging”
  • Neuropsychologia: “Why do we laugh at misfortunes? An electrophysiological exploration of comic situation processing”
  • Frontiers in Psychology: “Hearing Someone Laugh and Seeing Someone Yawn: Modality-Specific Contagion of Laughter and Yawning in the Absence of Others”
  • PNAS: “Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span”
  • European Journal of Pain: “Laughing away the pain: a narrative review of humour, sense of humour, and pain”
  • International Journal of Obesity: “Energy expenditure of genuine laughter”
  • Advances in Mind-Body Medicine: “The effect of humor on short-term memory in older adults: a new component for whole-person wellness”
  • Journal of Epidemiology: “Laughter is the Best Medicine? A Cross-Sectional Study of Cardiovascular Disease Among Older Japanese Adults”

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5 Best Eyebrow Trimmers and Razors To Maintain Unruly Brows Fri, 16 Jun 2023 19:43:14 +0000 Your unruly brows don't stand a chance with these eyebrow trimmers in your beauty toolkit.

The post 5 Best Eyebrow Trimmers and Razors To Maintain Unruly Brows appeared first on Reader's Digest.


Tweezerman Brow Shaping Scissors & Brush

Best overall

Tweezerman Brow Shaping Scissors & Brush

Sometimes, fitting an appointment with a brow expert into your schedule can be challenging. That’s why there’s no better time than now to learn how to use at-home eyebrow trimmers. If you adore the look of perfectly shaped brows but find that occasional stray hairs need tending to, this highly-rated duo is perfect for you.

It includes Italian-made, stainless steel scissors with precision tips, guaranteeing that you only trim the unwanted hair. Simply brush the brows up with the spoolie, identify the strands that need to be removed, and trim each hair individually until you’re done.


  • Easy to use
  • Made with stainless-steel precision tips to prevent over-trimming
  • Compact and easy to travel with
  • Finger loop design offers optimal control


  • Some find the scissors too small for large hands

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11 Best Judy Blume Books for Every Stage of Life Fri, 16 Jun 2023 18:01:37 +0000 The best stories make us feel seen and safe, no matter what we're dealing with—and the gentle truths found in these Judy Blume books have resonated and stayed with us through time.

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Rd Judy Blume Books Opener

Judy Blume books for every occasion

Not every author has been bestselling, beloved and banned, but that’s Judy Blume for you. For over half a century, Judy Blume books have marked milestones for young readers, especially girls who, like many of her characters, stand on the cusp of womanhood. Considered the originator of the young adult (YA) novel, Blume has been writing realistic fiction about the messy but wonderful world we live in since her 1969 debut kids’ book, The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo. She’s written for readers of all ages, backgrounds and life stages—have I mentioned her rather steamy story for adults, Wifey? In fact, her most recent book, 2015’s In the Unlikely Event, is another adult novel.

More than 50 years on, Judy Blume books still resonate today with new and longtime audiences because she gives her readers an impression of being seen and known, a sense of belonging, a sort of homecoming and that wonderful “it’s not just me” feeling. Her witty, frank and empathetic stories weave in the good, the bad and the ugly while fearlessly tackling real matters that arise throughout life, including bullying, racism, death, sex, religion, puberty, friendship, love, fear and more.

Now, with the release of the long-awaited film adaptation of perhaps her most famous book, 1970’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, it’s time to pick up or revisit some standout Judy Blume books. Whether you’re looking for children’s books, teen novels, classic books, books for women or simply some of the best books out there, check out these best-of books for different stages in life.

Join the free Reader’s Digest Book Club for great reads, monthly discussions, author Q&As and a community of book lovers.

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6 Best Camping Hammocks for Ultimate Relaxation Fri, 16 Jun 2023 17:58:04 +0000 Hang out among the trees in comfort and style with our top picks for the best camping hammocks.

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 Eno Doublenest Hammock

Best overall

Eno DoubleNest Hammock

The Eno DoubleNest Hammock is one of the best high-value camping hammocks suitable for backpackers, campers or individuals who simply want to relax in their backyard. It utilizes 70D nylon and incorporates triple-stitched seams with tear-resistant fabric, ensuring both durability and effective waterproofing on rainy nights.

As its name implies, the Eno DoubleNest comfortably accommodates two people. Setting it up is a breeze thanks to the no-knot assembly and the heavy-duty aluminum carabiners. Rolling it up and storing it in the provided compression stuff sack is just as effortless.


  • Perfect for camping or backyard lounging
  • Big enough for two people
  • Made with durable nylon
  • Lightweight


  • Straps sold separately

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There’s a New Threat Targeting iPhones—What You Need to Know Fri, 16 Jun 2023 15:59:49 +0000 There's a new piece of malware that's threatening iPhone users. Here's what you need to know about it—and what you need to do about it.

The post There’s a New Threat Targeting iPhones—What You Need to Know appeared first on Reader's Digest.

Antivirus company Kaspersky has recently discovered a piece of malware that poses a significant threat to iPhone users. This iPhone virus targets models running up to iOS 15.7 through the iMessage app and exploits a security vulnerability in the form of a text message attachment.

Thankfully, it’s easy to avoid. Below, we’ll explain the nature of this malware and its potential impact, show you how to protect yourself and offer up a few other iPhone security tips for iOS users to secure their devices.

What’s the new malware that’s targeting iPhones?

This newly discovered malware leverages a vulnerability within an attachment sent through iMessage. When an unsuspecting iPhone user receives such a text message, the security flaw within the attachment is triggered automatically, enabling the execution of malicious code— without requiring any user interaction whatsoever.

By exploiting this weakness, the malware establishes a connection with a Command and Control server. This connection allows the malware to discover, access, and exploit additional vulnerabilities. This then grants the malware complete control over the targeted iOS device. With control of your iPhone, an attacker can access your contacts, accounts, apps, personal data, and even payment information if you’ve set up Apple Pay on your device.

How can I protect my iPhone from this malware?

A message notifying users of an important security update is displayed on an iPhone 11

The good news is that there’s an easy way to protect yourself against this malware. The most vital step to safeguard your device is to update your iPhone. Keeping the iOS firmware up to date equips you with the latest security patches, as Apple regularly releases security patches and updates to address new vulnerabilities. By ensuring your device is running the latest version of iOS, you significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to this malware and other mobile security threats.

Follow these steps to update your iOS firmware:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go to General and select Software Update.
  3. If there’s an update available, tap “Download and Install.”
  4. We also recommend enabling Automatic Updates if you haven’t done so already.

Since this malware exploits attachment vulnerabilities in iMessage without requiring user interaction, turning off automatic message previews is another step we suggest you take. This adds another level of security by preventing potentially malicious content from loading automatically. To turn off automatic message previews:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Scroll down and select Messages.
  3. In the Notifications section, toggle off the “Show Previews” option.

More iPhone security tips and tricks

A man takes a photo with the front facing camera of an iPhone

The above steps will harden your iPhone against this new iMessage exploit, but that’s not the only security threat you should be wary of. Here are some additional iPhone security tips to protect your device against spyware, viruses, and other malicious code:

  • Exercise caution with links: Always be wary of unfamiliar links received via text messages, emails, or social media platforms. Avoid clicking on suspicious links, which may lead to phishing websites or malware-infected pages.
  • Handle attachments carefully: Be vigilant when opening attachments, especially from unknown sources. Malware can be disguised as innocent-looking files, such as documents or images. Verify the sender’s credibility before opening any attachments.
  • Use Face ID in public: Set up your iPhone to always use Face ID in public. This prevents a would-be hacker from getting your iPhone passcode through “shoulder surfing” and potentially using that to access your device.
  • Install reliable antivirus software: Consider installing a reputable antivirus app from the App Store. These apps can provide an extra layer of security by scanning for potential threats and offering real-time protection.
  • Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): Enabling two-factor authentication for your Apple ID adds a strong barrier to entry to both your Apple account and iPhone. 2FA ensures that if your password is compromised, unauthorized access will be hindered without the secondary authentication method, which the attacker likely does not have access to.

The fight against cybercrime is a constantly evolving arms race between hackers and those who thwart them. With this new malware threat targeting iPhone users, it’s crucial to remain vigilant and take preventative measures to protect your iOS devices. This is easy to do with a bit of diligence. By keeping your iOS firmware up to date, disabling automatic message previews, and exercising caution with links and attachments, you significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to this or any other malicious attack.


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What Is a Beige Flag? Fri, 16 Jun 2023 15:52:25 +0000 We all have one!

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Everyone has heard of green and red flags in dating—positive or negative signs of someone’s viability as a partner. But now, the internet is obsessed with a new flag: the beige flag.

Thousands of users have shared TikTok videos about their partners’ beige flags, receiving over 570 million cumulative views, and BuzzFeed has even made quizzes to identify your own beige flags. So, what exactly is a beige flag? Whether you’re currently dating or just want to keep up with new slang, here’s everything to know about beige flags.

What is a beige flag?

Like “negging” or “thirst trap,” “beige flag” is a new dating slang term. According to Urban Dictionary, as referenced in the below TikTok by influence Lois Choi (@lois_choi), a beige flag is “something that’s neither good nor bad but makes you pause for a minute when you notice it and then just continue on. Something odd.”

Many social media users have pointed out that they have long used the term “yellow flag” to describe a dating partner’s quality that is neither negative nor positive. However, the perceived “oddness” of a habit is integral to its labeling as a beige flag. As commenters on Choi’s video put it, a beige flag references “harmless and weird behavior” and is basically “just another word for quirks.”

@lois_choi please ignore the background music, currently coparenting with ms. rachel 😂 #beigeflags #beigeflag #btsarmy #btsfyp #btstiktok ♬ Funny Background – Stefani

What is an example of a beige flag?

One particular example that helped a commenter “truly understand what a beige flag is” comes from TikToker Catherine O’Brien (@cat.elizabeth). In her video, she explains: “My boyfriend’s beige flag is that he sets timers instead of alarms. It’s midnight and he needs to get up at six? He’ll set a 6-hour timer.” Harmless? Yes. But also, incredibly mundane and somewhat unusual.

@cat.elizabeth #boyfriend #beigeflag ♬ Summer Background Jazz – Jazz Background Vibes

Can beige flags be applied to people outside of dating?

As the term gains traction online, users have begun applying it beyond the dating realm. TikTok user The Moon (@dumplingkingdom) says that their cat’s beige flag is that “she only stays calm in the car if I meow the national anthem to her.” Moreover, TikToker Bryana Ashley (@bryana_ashley) applied the beige flag to her best friend, calling out her propensity to “stop responding and opening messages for an unknown period of time.”

@bryana_ashley I stg @✨Keana Montgomery✨ 😭😭🤣🤣 #beigeflag #trend #fyp #foryou #funny #bestfriend ♬ Summer Background Jazz – Jazz Background Vibes

Can one person’s beige flag be someone else’s red or green flag?

A Broken Heart Sewn With Safety Pin Over Turquoise Background

Beige flags—as well as red, green and yellow ones—are all subjective. Additionally, as the term has gained popularity, the definition may be getting muddled; many social media users have labeled behaviors as “beige flags” that others have called out as red or green ones.

For example, when one user made a video saying that her boyfriend’s beige flag was “that he gets impatient at restaurants and helps the waitress bring the plates to our table,” someone else on Twitter shared it with the caption, “Girl that’s not a beige flag that not even a red flag that’s an air raid siren.” Check out the early warning signs of unhealthy relationships.

On the other hand, another Twitter user wrote that “tiktok’s beige flags are the greenest most insanely healthy and amazing flags i have ever seen in my life.”

Examples include TikToker Taylor B. (@its.taylor.bee)’s boyfriend having “no rizz” and waiting to kiss her because he “respect[ed] [her] as a human being” and Cari Bear (@bitchybearz)’s boyfriend “randomly throw[ing] [her] themed surprise parties.” No matter what you call these behaviors, we stan a supportive, respectful partner.

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You Can Live in Walt Disney’s Mansion—But It’ll Cost You Fri, 16 Jun 2023 15:23:52 +0000 Feeling some Walt Disney magic may cost more per month than you think. 

The post You Can Live in Walt Disney’s Mansion—But It’ll Cost You appeared first on Reader's Digest.

Ultimate Disney fans dream of the opportunity to stay in Magic Kingdom’s iconic Cinderella Castle. Or, maybe they hope to attend some of the most special Disney experiences like dining with an Imagineer. Whatever the Disney dream is, fans can now add another one-of-a-kind Disney aspiration to their list—staying in Walt Disney’s mansion.

The home of the man who inspired millions to dream big is now available to rent. Known as Storybook Mansion, the magnificent California home is where some of the most beloved and iconic Disney films, characters and more were dreamt up. Read on about the mansion’s spectacular features, along with the price tag that may or may not surprise you.

What is the history of Walt Disney’s mansion?

Los Feliz Home Exterior Courtesy Joel Danto Of Theluxlevel

According to listing agent Chase Campen and the Compass real-estate listing, the 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath 1932 Los Feliz mansion offers an “unprecedented opportunity to immerse yourself in living history.” As Disney’s animation studio “was gaining ground,” Walt Disney acquired the land for the house. From there, it was built and Disney, his wife and their two daughters lived in the home from 1932 to 1950.

Additionally, the mansion has a home theater that Disney “watched dailies of his productions” in, Compass says. Some of these classics may have included Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, PinocchioFantasiaDumboBambi and Cinderella amongst countless others—all of which were released from 1937 to 1950.

Today, the theater is still intact thanks to “a touch of modern technology.” That means fans can watch Disney classics in the exact same room that Walt Disney did.

What does the Walt Disney mansion look like?

Living Room Los Feliz Home Courtesy Joel Danto Of Theluxlevel

Beyond the historical home theater, this mansion has no end to spectacular features. Architect Frank Crowhurst designed the 6,400 square-foot mansion that is home to a magnificent two-story living room, a beautiful pool and plenty of “old warm charm” combined with “modern convenience.”

The living room further maintains vaulted wood-beamed ceilings, wood-paneled walls, a brick fireplace and original leaded windows. From there, residents can witness the stunning backyard and downtown Los Angeles.

The exterior grounds of the home feature “well-landscaped walkways, lush grass lawn, [an] inviting pool, trellis covered outdoor dining area,” and an area that can act as a private park. Plus, an adorable Snow White-themed playhouse originally constructed for Disney’s daughters still resides on the grounds. The home further feels like a fairytale as magnificent ivy lines the outside of the mansion’s walls, too.

How much does the Walt Disney mansion cost?

Pool And Kids Playhouse Los Feliz Home Joel Danto Of Theluxlevel

While this mansion is certainly extraordinary, the price is not exactly the most affordable. Potential renters need to be ready to shell out $40,000 per month to stay in the historical home. Nonetheless, there’s no doubt that this mansion emulates the feel of “the happiest place on Earth.”


  • Compass: “4053 Woking Way”
  • IMDb: “All Disney Movies (1937-Present)

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Frequent Travelers Love The Beis Mini Weekender Bag—And Now Our Editor Does Too Fri, 16 Jun 2023 15:23:08 +0000 The Beis Mini Weekender bag is now my go-to travel bag for quick trips.

The post Frequent Travelers Love The Beis Mini Weekender Bag—And Now Our Editor Does Too appeared first on Reader's Digest.

Airlines seem to be charging an arm and a leg for extra luggage these days. That means finding the perfect travel bag is just as challenging as finding the perfect hotel. I’ve used a duffel bag from Target for about three years, and it’s served me well. But I recently got the Mini Weekender bag from Beis for my birthday and now my luggage just got an upgrade.

I tested the cult-favorite Mini Weekender on a recent trip to Mexico and a weekend camping trip. Even after just a month of use, I can see why it’s so popular for international and domestic flights and road trips alike.

What is the Beis Mini Weekender bag? 

Beis Weekend Bag On Suitcase Andrea Carrillo Jvedit

Beis, a chic luggage brand created by actress Shay Mitchell, rose to popularity with its functional and cute travel bags. Its famous Weekender bag is said to be the perfect carry-on with tons of space and an extra shoe compartment underneath. The Mini Weekender has all the amenities of its original model, just in a smaller size.  

Upon first inspection, I noticed that the Mini Weekender really isn’t so mini. It’s tall and wide (16 inches each way) and eight inches in depth. It weighs 3.4 pounds when it’s empty and uses polyester for its body, interior lining and straps.

People love the Weekenders because they’re so spacious, and the Mini is no exception. Pack it like a carry-on and you’ll still have room left over. It has the construction of an old-school doctor bag, and the bottom compartment is perfect for keeping shoes—or really anything—separate from the main compartment. The bags also keep their shape thanks to internal structuring. 

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Beis Mini Weekender features 

Rd Beis Mini Weekender 7 Beis Weekend Bag Andrea Carrillo Jvedit

The Mini Weekender has two main compartments for easy packing. The first is the general storage space with a doctor bag zipper opening. A laptop sleeve fits on one side, and two more pockets store smaller items on the other side. The bottom compartment holds shoes or other items and zips all the way around. On the outside, the bag has a trolley sleeve that attaches to a suitcase handle for easy transporting.  

While the regular Weekender is meant as a carry-on, some people worry that even the Mini Weekender is too big to be a personal item. But let me put that worry to rest. I flew with Volaris, a Mexican budget airline that’s notorious for its luggage limits and small airplanes. The check-in assistant didn’t bat an eye at my Beis bag and it fit perfectly underneath the seat. 

How I tested it 

Since I received my Mini Weekender for my birthday a few days before a trip to Mexico, I was eager to take it with me. My sister gifted it to me still in the packaging, which sports a big Beis sticker (a detail to keep in mind if your house or apartment is susceptible to porch pirates).  

I got the orange Creamsicle color from the brand’s latest Sherbert collection. Orange is one of my favorite colors, and this bag took on a very bright, neon highlighter color. I love that it’s a color not likely to get lost in a sea of black luggage, especially at Chicago’s busy O’Hare airport, where I flew out.

I paid for carry-on luggage, so I didn’t need to play the usual game of Tetris to fit four days’ worth of clothes, shoes and toiletries inside the bag, which I used as my personal item. Still, I fit the following items with extra room left over:

  • My toiletry bag
  • Makeup bag
  • Laptop and charger
  • Over-the-ear headphones and carrying case
  • Flat iron
  • Two jewelry bags
  • My prescription glasses and sunglasses with their cases
  • My eyelash extension cleanser bag
  • A small purse
  • A cropped jacket
  • An extra pair of sandals

My biggest woe with the Mini Weekender is how heavy it gets. Just because you can fit so much inside, doesn’t mean you should. Within the hour, my shoulder was starting to ache from the weight. Thankfully, I had rolling hardshell luggage that I could slip the bag’s trolley sleeve into, but without it I would’ve had to switch shoulders often.  

Another complaint I have is how easily the bag’s polyester material scuffs. Between the airport’s security machine, taxi trunks and just the regular floors, my bag looked like it could use a bath as much as me after a long travel day. Even the slightest scuff is noticeable on the bag’s bright orange coat. This might not be the case for darker colors like black or navy, but buyers beware. I may need to brush up on how to get rid of stains

On the flight, the bag fit perfectly underneath the seat in front of me. I did have to lay it sideways, but I had no issue with its size. I could also use the extra space to fit more souvenirs. While my back and shoulders might protest, I can see myself using this bag on all my future trips.  

It’s an ideal travel companion and the ample storage allows for just about anything. I also love it for road trips because it takes up almost no room in my car’s trunk. I did take it camping for the weekend, which put it in prime location for dirt. But with the right stain remover, the bag should come out looking good as new. 


  • Lots of storage space despite its small size
  • Easily fits under airplane seats
  • Has a separate zippered compartment underneath
  • Trolley sleeve lets it attach to rolling luggage 
  • Color is vibrant
  • Wire frame holds its shape
  • Under $100


  • Scuffs easier than I’d like 
  • Gets very heavy when full  


Rd Beis Mini Weekender 5 Beis Weekend Bag Andrea Carrillo Jvedit

Does the Mini Weekender bag fit under a plane seat?  

Yes! You may have to slide it sideways, but the Mini Weekender fits comfortably under a plane seat.

What is the difference between the Convertible and Mini Weekender bags?  

Size- and shape-wise, there’s really no difference. However, the bottom compartment of the Convertible zips all the way off to create a smaller bag.

Is the Weekender bag a carry-on?  

The regular Weekender bag is larger than the Mini, so yes, it works best as a carry-on.

What other reviewers/experts had to say 

Verified buyer Kelly R. writes, “This bag has everything you could possibly want in a weekender bag. No stone has been unturned. I love the bottom compartment for shoes. Can never have enough shoes! I have many different tote-type bags and this is by far the best!”

Five-star reviewer Taylor D. says it’s the best bag she’s ever owned. “This bag has exceeded all expectations!” she raves. “The Mini Weekender is larger than I expected, yet can fit as a carry-on through most airlines. It’s durable and the bottom storage is a game-changer. I love the extra pockets for my iPad. I’m now a Beis customer for life and can’t wait to buy the rolling luggage to match!”

“This bag has it all! It’s beautiful, has so much room and anything I buy will fit in it and I won’t have to worry about my suitcase being overweight,” writes Kelly C., a user who replaced her large purses with the Mini Weekender on her flights. “It has so many compartments and a nice wide shoulder band to carry it, or it also has wide handles for when you don’t have room to put it on your shoulder.”

Product comparison

The regular Weekender bag measures 15.5 inches tall, 18 inches wide and 10 inches deep. It weighs 3.8 pounds and features the same polyester material as the Mini. If you’re looking for a carry-on bag or something to hold more, the Weekender is a great option. The Mini is best for, well, a weekend trip at most or for use as a personal item.

Final verdict

The Beis Mini Weekender is a solid travel bag for any excursion. It’s great quality, has tons of storage and looks so chic. I see it becoming my go-to bag for weekend trips and vacations. Plus, for less than $100, I like knowing that this affordable luggage doesn’t break the bank.

I found that when the underbelly compartment is empty or unzipped, the bag has a harder time holding its shape, especially when the top is full. And besides the scuffs, which can probably be spot cleaned, I know it’ll hold up over time. Narrowing down a personal item is no easy task, but the Mini Weekender may just be the answer. 

Where to buy the Beis Mini Weekender

Rd Ecomm Beis Mini Weekender Via

The Beis Mini Weekender is available directly from the Beis website for $98. Don’t let your personal item be the stressful part of traveling.

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What Does Bussin Mean—and 9 Other Words in the Brand-New African American English Dictionary? Fri, 16 Jun 2023 14:59:38 +0000 There’s a new dictionary in town, and it’s about to give you a better understanding of the words you say every day.

The post What Does <i>Bussin</i> Mean—and 9 Other Words in the Brand-New African American English Dictionary? appeared first on Reader's Digest.


How many times have you used the word cool today? Or maybe you dissed someone jokingly and called them a goober for not being hip. You probably didn’t give it much thought at the time (or ever), but four of those words have African American origins that go back decades or even centuries. This evolution of language is the focus of the forthcoming Oxford Dictionary of African American English, which recently provided a sneak peek of 10 words that will be included in its first edition.

“Every speaker of American English borrows heavily from words invented by African Americans, whether they know it or not,” Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., editor-in-chief of the dictionary, said in a press release about the project. Yes, new words are constantly being added to the Oxford English Dictionary, but this companion dictionary compiled by Black authors, editors and scholars will feature terms that African Americans have grown up hearing from parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles. These words have deep roots in African and African American culture, and they have become embedded in American language as a whole.

With society’s new focus on the BIPOC community in the last few years—which has led, in part, to conversations about how to be anti-racist and the establishing of Juneteenth as a national holiday—the time was right for this dictionary. So, what is it all about, and why is a reference book like this such a big deal? Here’s what you need to know.

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What is the Oxford Dictionary of African American English?

The Oxford Dictionary of African American English is exactly what it sounds like: a version of the storied Oxford English Dictionary, but one that focuses on the impact that African Americans have had on the English we all use today. A three-year collaborative effort between Oxford University Press and Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African and African American research, the dictionary is still a work in progress and won’t be published until 2025. A team of linguists, researchers, editors, lexicographers and scholars are working on the project, with Gates at the helm as editor-in-chief.

Gates notes that while dictionaries of African American vocabulary do exist, this one is unique in a very significant way: It is the first to “undertake a large-scale, systematic study, based on historical principles, of the myriad contributions that African Americans have made to the shape and structure of the English language that Americans speak today.” In short, it takes a closer look at these contributions to language in America, including where and how they originated, and gives credit where credit is due.

What types of words will this dictionary include?

Expected to contain around 1,000 words, the Oxford Dictionary of African American English will cover more than three centuries’ worth of language—from Middle Passage (the voyage by ship of enslaved Africans to America, starting around 1700) through the present day. This comprehensive reference book will include words about (and from) music, food, religion, literature, social media, slang and everything noteworthy pertaining to Black culture. And just like any other dictionary, each entry will list the meaning, spelling, pronunciation, history and real-world usage so that readers can fully understand the word.

“We are hoping this will be fairly comprehensive, extensive, broad and going beyond just sort of the slang terms that people typically think of when they think about African American English, and just show the full breadth of the vocabulary,” said sociolinguist Tracey Weldon, one of the dictionary’s executive editors.

Have some ideas you think should be included? Fill out a submission form on the dictionary’s official website.

The first 10 words from the dictionary and what they mean

The first 10 words touch on experiences many Black people in this country have in common. For example, being a kid and anxiously waiting while your beautician approaches you with the daunting task of taking care of that “kitchen” of yours with a hot comb. Or being in an actual kitchen and digging into a meal that was “bussin.” As you may have guessed, those are two of the words listed in the Oxford Dictionary of African American English. But if this wasn’t your cultural background, you might be wondering, What does bussin mean, and what is a kitchen in that context? We have the answers, along with the list of the first 10 words shared by the editors.

  • bussin (adj. and participle): 1. Especially describing food: tasty, delicious. Also more generally: impressive, excellent. 2. Describing a party, event, etc.: busy, crowded, lively.

  • grill (n.): A removable or permanent dental overlay, typically made of silver, gold or another metal and often inset with gemstones, which is worn as jewelry.

  • Promised Land (n.): A place perceived to be where enslaved people and, later, African Americans more generally, can find refuge and live in freedom. (Etymology: A reference to the biblical story of Jewish people seeking freedom from Egyptian bondage.)

  • chitterlings (n.): A dish made from pig intestines that are typically boiled, fried or stuffed with other ingredients.

  • kitchen (n.): The hair at the nape of the neck, which is typically shorter, kinkier and considered more difficult to style.

  • cakewalk (n.): 1. A contest in which Black people would perform a stylized walk in pairs, typically judged by a plantation owner. The winner would receive some type of cake. 2. Something that is considered easily done, as in “This job is a cakewalk.”

  • old school (adj.): Characteristic of early hip-hop or rap music that emerged in New York City between the late 1970s to the mid 1980s, which often includes the use of couplets, funk and disco samples, and playful lyrics. Also used to describe the music and artists of that style and time period.

  • pat (v.): 1. transitive. To tap (the foot) in rhythm with music, sometimes as an indication of participation in religious worship. 2. intransitive. Usually of a person’s foot: to tap in rhythm with music, sometimes to demonstrate participation in religious worship.

  • Aunt Hagar’s children (n.): A reference to Black people collectively. (Etymology: Probably a reference to Hagar in the Bible, who, with her son, Ishmael, was cast out by Sarah and Abraham [Ishmael’s father] and became, among some Black communities, the symbolic mother of all Africans and African Americans and of Black womanhood.)

  • ring shout (n.): A spiritual ritual involving a dance where participants follow one another in a ring shape, shuffling their feet and clapping their hands to accompany chanting and singing. The dancing and chanting gradually intensify and often conclude with participants exhibiting a state of spiritual ecstasy.

Why weren’t these words just added to the regular Oxford English Dictionary?

According to the authors, this is a chance to study the origins and effects of African American English in a singular way—and let it take the spotlight instead of being an afterthought. This reference book will help provide a deeper understanding of how language from African Americans has evolved and expanded throughout history while referencing historically relevant information and contextualizing the words’ origins.

“It will be much more expansive and inclusive of the language as opposed to [just] some words here and there,” Sonja Lanehart, a linguistics professor at the University of Arizona (who was not involved with the project), told NPR in 2022, when the project was announced. “And instead of just defining or spelling the words, the project will also provide some historical context. The etymology of a word and the history of the word is extremely important … in understanding how a language has developed, evolved, and who’s been a part of it.”

Why is this dictionary important, according to experts?

Black Americans have made a lasting cultural impact on this country, thanks to the contributions of writers, actors, musicians, scholars and so many more, but the origin of most terms is unclear, since there is a lack of historical documentation for the African American language. This has created both debates and misinterpretations, according to the University of Oregon’s Online Resources for African American Language. This dictionary will clear up that confusion. Plus, just like Black History Month shouldn’t be limited to a single month, African American language shouldn’t be relegated to the sidelines.

As Gates says, this dictionary will “compile, fully and systematically, the richness of African American English, using the lexicographical tools and historical principles that the Oxford English Dictionary embodies.” And it will do that with examples from Black literature and conversation, which will keep the spotlight where it belongs—on African American language and culture.


  • The Oxford Dictionary of African American English: “About the Oxford Dictionary of African American English (ODAAE)”
  • CNN: “Large-scale study will culminate in the Oxford Dictionary of African American English, a dream come true for historian Henry Louis Gates Jr.”
  • NPR: “A new dictionary will document the lexicon of African American English”
  • University of Oregon: “Online Resources for African American Language”

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This Man Spent Days in a Swamp After Losing His Arm to an Alligator—and Lived to Tell the Tale Fri, 16 Jun 2023 01:17:24 +0000 This is his incredible story of survival.

The post This Man Spent Days in a Swamp After Losing His Arm to an Alligator—and Lived to Tell the Tale appeared first on Reader's Digest.

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A battle with God

The stars burn brilliant over Lake Manatee as the man backstrokes through the dark water. He’s exhausted and frustrated by his lack of progress, but he believes he can swim all night if he must. Then a bristling intuition creeps upon him, and he sits up in the water and peers to his left. Just two feet away lurks the unmistakable shape of an alligator’s snout, the slitted eye yellowy in the starlight. The man whirls onto his stomach and flings out his hands to swim, but the gator strikes, seizing his right forearm in its teeth. The predator twists its powerful body, snapping the man’s arm back at the elbow. For a moment the man’s world goes black, as if lightning has struck inside his head. Then, still firmly holding its prey, the reptile dives, looking to drown its victim in the silent midnight depths of the lake.

The way Eric Merda saw it, the past two weeks had been one long, crazy battle with God. The 43-year-old father of seven had always had his struggles—addiction, street fights, run-ins with the law—but things had recently become clear. For one thing, he’d come to accept that his relationship with the mother of five of his children was over. For another, he’d begun to realize he was running with a dangerous crowd. Intelligent, creative and spiritual, a self-described weirdo, Merda knew he’d been on the wrong track. God was telling him to clean up his act and live up to his gifts.

So he’d been on a sort of ascetic quest. By day, he’d toil beneath the Florida sun in and around his home base of Bradenton, installing and repairing sprinkler systems as he’d done for 25 years. By evening, he’d wander and explore. For the first time, he had no woman or children to go home to. He spent much of his surplus time on Siesta Key Beach, where he gave himself daring challenges: How far out into the ocean can I go at night? How long can I float face-up with my head tipped back so far that my eyes stay in the saltwater? For a while now, there had been a thin line between embracing life and courting death. Which was it going to be?

Sometimes he slept unsheltered on the sand of Siesta Key. One morning he awoke to see litter scattered along the beach, and felt God telling him that he ought to clean it up. He began collecting trash. It felt good, so he made a habit of picking up litter wherever he saw it, not just on the beach. It became a kind of compulsion.

Into the swamp

On Monday, July 18, 2022, he had a job up in the rural portions of Manatee County. He was finished by late afternoon. Time to explore. Near an intersection of two country byways, he spotted a dirt road with a sign that read Lake Manatee Fish Camp. He nosed his old white work van down into the area, past a little country store and some folks pitching horseshoes, and followed the road. It ended at a boat ramp onto Lake Manatee, a man-made reservoir covering about four square miles, ringed by wild swampland. Trash lay strewn along the roadside. Merda jumped out of his van, leaving his phone and keys inside, and started collecting the garbage into piles.

After a while, a thought occurred to him—I’ve been working all day. Nobody’s forcing me to pick up trash. I’m going to see what’s in these woods. With the abandon of a schoolboy, he ran off into the trees. Before long, he encountered a seemingly impenetrable thicket of brush, thorns and vines. Seemingly impenetrable: a nice challenge. He charged into it and did battle for many long minutes. It was exhausting, but he pushed on. When at last he emerged into a grove of scrawny orange trees, he was sweaty, cut up and tired. He had no idea where he was in relation to the lake. He’d been pushing through the thicket for hours, and now all he wanted was to get back to his van and go home.

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He spent another couple of hours wandering among the orange trees, which were laid out in an endless grid. No sign of civilization. The lake and his van certainly weren’t out here in an orange grove, so he reentered the woods and soon found himself mucking around in swamp water. There seemed no way out of this bog. He labored for hours as the sun sank. Tall, thick grasses and thorns clogged his way; mud and water filled his boots. His feet hurt so badly that he took his boots off and carried them—but the twigs and brambles lacerated his soles, so he stopped and pulled the boots back on. He tried to navigate by the sun but kept losing it. Each time he picked out a landmark or chose a beeline course, he became hopelessly lost again after just a few minutes.

Darkness was falling when at last he reemerged onto the shore of the lake. There across the water stood the boat launch, now empty, and a little highway bridge, less than a quarter-mile away as the crow flies—or as the duck swims. He was beaten, sore and thirsty. Reenter the swamp? Out of the question. Who knew where he’d end up? He’d have to swim for it across the lake.

Deep-water danger

The water was surprisingly cold, especially as it deepened. He started out paddling strongly for the opposite bank, drinking lake water to quench his awful thirst. After a few minutes he realized he’d never make it with his clothes on. He shed every stitch, letting his work duds sink to the bottom of the dark lake.

He swam on, but some strange current prevented his progress. He was a good swimmer, yet he somehow kept diverging from his goal. He’d point himself at the boat launch, swim a few strokes, lift his head and find that he was way off course. It was maddening, but he refused to surrender to emotion. In a fistfight, the guy who comes into it panicking, with no self-control, he’s the one who gets whooped. The sun disappeared and the stars came out, and still he struggled, alternating between a backstroke and a crawl.

The alligator sank its teeth into his arm and dragged him underwater.

And that’s when he saw the alligator. Before he could swim a stroke, before he could save himself, before he could let out a scream, the creature struck like a snake. It sank its teeth into Merda’s forearm, breaking it at the elbow, and dragged him underwater.

Merda went into fight mode. He flung his other arm around the gator’s middle, clutching at its heaving belly as he kicked his feet to keep from going to the bottom. Man and beast resurfaced and Merda gulped air—but just as quickly the gator yanked him under again. The third time, the alligator did what alligators do: It barrel-rolled its entire body in a vicious coup de grâce, and Merda felt the flesh of his arm tearing away as the limb was severed. The creature disappeared into the darkness, carrying Merda’s forearm with it.

No pain yet, only terror. His one thought was to get out of the water. He swam furiously, paddling with the stump, and came to rest at the lake’s edge not far from where he had entered. He paused for a time, heaving, in the partially submerged grasses. Nearby stood an enormous tree on drier ground. He dragged himself over to it and stood screaming for help across the desolate lake.

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Then he realized, I’m the only one who can get myself out of this. Just like I’m the only one who can fix every other part of my life. He posted up next to the trunk of the tree and waited for dawn.

When the pain arrived, it was exquisite.

In the morning, he spotted two airplanes. Each time, he climbed up the tree and waved and hollered, which did him no good. He was stark naked in the wilderness, bereft of his right forearm and with nothing to use for a signal. Again, he started pushing through the tall grasses and immediately became lost anew, wandering in circles. He decided the best course was to reenter the water and wade the lake’s edge, following its quarter-mile curve until it reached the boat launch.

Hungry, thirsty and in agony, he stretched out and slept.

But that proved nearly impossible too. Submerged logs, tallgrasses, saw grasses, overhanging brush and sudden drop-offs stymied his progress. He howled in pain when he blundered into a stick that poked into the exposed muscle of his right arm. Chest-deep in the murky water, he looked behind him, and there, 100 feet away, stared the bumpy eyes of the alligator—or an alligator, anyway—silently following him. He moved to shallower water and the gator eyes sank beneath the surface. All through the long day, as he struggled along, the creature dogged him. Maddeningly, thanks to the meandering shoreline, the boat launch appeared farther away than ever.

As night fell, he happened upon a concrete structure at the lake’s edge, no doubt part of the reservoir system. Hungry, thirsty and in agony, he haltingly climbed onto it, stretched out and slept. He awoke in darkness with the horrifying awareness that he was only a couple of feet above the swamp water with his left arm dangling off the structure like a second proffered morsel. That was enough. He wanted out of the swamp. He wanted dry land.

Life or death

Up till then, Merda had been ambivalent about life and death. Now he could hear God telling him, “All right. After this, I don’t want to hear any more. If you choose to die, you choose to die. If you choose to live, then good luck to you, because it’s not going to be easy.” He’d always figured his concept of God would get him kicked out of most churches: By his philosophy, since we’re all made in God’s image, God is part of each of us, and each of us is part of God. Thus, to have faith in God is to have faith in oneself, and to quarrel with God is to quarrel with oneself. And he was done quarreling with himself.

In the dark, he blundered his way through an eternity of 10-foot-tall grasses whose roots lay beneath knee-deep water. Disoriented again. The sun dawned on a new day, his third out here, and before long the Florida heat set the swampland to broiling. Green horseflies swarmed his injury where the naked muscle twitched and the bare bone gleamed. The land was so soggy that even when he wasn’t standing in water, he could scoop at the earth with his good hand and a little puddle of filthy drinking water would fill the depression he’d made. He nibbled at some tiny purple flowers growing throughout the swamplands.

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He began to fade, ­utterly spent and bloodied. But he’d made his decision. He’d chosen life, even if it meant the pain and frustration of endless struggle. Whenever his fatigue overwhelmed him, he pushed over the tallgrasses to make a mat on which to sleep.

His quest was dry land, and at last he found it—only to discover it overwhelmingly choked with thorny vines. It was either the swamp or this endless wall of thorns—no getting around it, over it or under it. He must push through. It’s just a little pain, he told himself. You aren’t even going to remember it once it’s gone. So he dragged himself into the bramble, crab-walking at times, getting sliced and punctured, pausing periodically to psych himself up for more pain.

In late afternoon, he came across a brown quart beer bottle lying in the mud like a signal from civilization. He knew now that he was saved. How far can somebody throw a beer bottle—40 feet? That meant just 40 feet to the road. You can go another 40 feet.

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He did, and when he exited the thorns he found that he was staggering alongside the road near the turnaround spot for the boat launch. On the other side of a wire fence, a man stood beside a red car.

“Hey! Hey!” Merda yelled.

The man goggled at the stranger, naked save for the blood and mud that covered his body. “What are you doing back there?” he said.

“A gator got me!” Merda answered, waving his stump. “You got any water?”

“Holy … ! I don’t have any water, but I’ll get you some, for sure.”

The fence was the final obstacle between him and civilization. Merda had had enough. He lay down in the weeds on the swamp side of the divider and waited for the EMTs, who would cut the fence wire and carry him over to the helicopter that would whisk him away to the rest of his life.

A long recovery

Merda spent nearly three weeks in a Sarasota hospital. His wound had become infected in the swamp, so surgeons removed considerably more than the alligator had taken, leaving him with only about six inches of arm past the shoulder. It’s incredible that he didn’t bleed to death—but, by some miracle, he says, the wound barely bled.

He ate like a machine in the hospital, and sent a buddy out for one entree not on the kitchen’s menu: gator bites.

On his release, he tried to return to work. “I can still dig a hole,” he says. “But it’s with one hand, very slowly.”

It wasn’t practical to take up his old trade. So now he’s casting about for some way to make a living while sharing the things he’s learned. Consult? Teach? Write a children’s book? Take up public speaking? Try to become a comedian?

He says he wants to inspire people to think, If a skinny little dude from Sarasota, Florida, can fight a gator and walk out of the swamp, why am I afraid to open my own business, go to college or get a contractor’s license?

The road ahead won’t be easy. But then again, that was part of the deal with God. Sometimes he feels at a loss, as if his dreams sound too ambitious, too ridiculous. But, Merda says with the wisdom of a man who has done battle with the divine, “It sounded pretty ridiculous that I was going to make it out of that swamp alive too.”

The post This Man Spent Days in a Swamp After Losing His Arm to an Alligator—and Lived to Tell the Tale appeared first on Reader's Digest.

Camping for Beginners: Everything First-Timers Need to Know for a Fun, Safe Experience Thu, 15 Jun 2023 23:23:36 +0000 New to the outdoors? This guide for beginning campers will help you avoid bugs, bears and soggy tents so you can focus on making great memories.

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Though I don’t recall much from the one and only time my family went camping when I was a kid, I remember clear as day my first camping trip as an adult. It was terrible.

I should have known from the start it would be a disaster. Problem No. 1: I assumed my friend’s tent would be large enough to fit me too. But while her small tent was suitable for her petite frame, at 5 foot 8, I had to keep the front flap cracked all night to stick my feet out. This meant mosquitoes could get in our tent. We both woke up—from what little sleep we got—covered in bites. And things only got worse from there.

Fast forward 10 years, and I’m now a self-described camping enthusiast. Because I learned many lessons the hard way, I’m eager to share my tips for camping for beginners to encourage and support newbies. And there are a lot of you! According to The Dyrt’s 2023 Camping report, 7.2 million people went camping for the first time in 2022.

From where to camp and what to pack to what to wear and how to prepare for emergencies, here’s everything you need to know to plan a fun and safe camping trip as a beginner.

Types of camping

For some, the only acceptable way to enjoy the outdoors is luxury camping in a big tent with a comfy bed. For others, such an experience hardly qualifies as camping, and they prefer little more than a simple tent and a backpack full of supplies.

To help you sort out which one is right for you, here’s a glossary of the most popular camping styles.

Tent camping

Tent camping is the most popular form of camping for a few reasons. For starters, it tends to be the cheapest and most flexible option, since you can typically pack up and go (once you’ve invested in the necessary equipment). Tents range from a simple one-person style that can be set up and broken down in minutes to a spacious setup that can accommodate an entire family. The downside of tent camping is that it can be unpleasant during cold and wet weather, you might not have ready access to a bathroom and you need to book peak-season reservations at popular campsites, especially at national parks, weeks to months in advance.


Tent at glamping, night

“Glamorous camping,” better known as glamping, is comfortable camping under a canvas tent, teepee, yurt, dome or other unique structure. Beds, linens and pillows are typically provided, and many glampsites also include on-site bathrooms, kitchens and firepits. Glamping is a good way to introduce hesitant campers to the idea of sleeping under the stars, or for seasoned summer campers to experiment with winter camping, which tends to be more challenging. Since everything is included and set up in advance, glamping may not give a true camping experience—though that’s a plus for some! One con: Some glampsites cost as much as or more than a night at a hotel.

Car camping

Car camping involves loading your car or van with supplies and showing up at your camp spot. While you could set up a tent next to your car, if your car is large enough, you could sleep in it (just be sure to first check local laws). Car camping is a fairly easy form of camping that doesn’t require too much advance planning, and you don’t need to lug all your essentials in a backpack. However, because you’re sticking close to your car, you may also be stuck next to loud campers who also have the same plan.

Backcountry camping

Want to avoid crowds and really get away from it all? Hike out to the backcountry, where there are no vehicles or paved roads. Backcountry or wilderness camping offers silence, tranquility and unrestricted access to nature that is impossible to find at crowded campsites. For a successful trip, you’ll have to choose your route and determine in advance where you can camp and what to pack. Your packing list should include food, first aid equipment, a tent, camp cookware, food and other supplies, all of which must be carried in—and out—on your back. It probably goes without saying, but backcountry camping should be left to experienced campers.

RV camping

Rv Camping in the desert with a picnic table and fire pit

RV camping offers the convenience of having ready access to a bed, kitchen and toilet and is an easy way to take an extended road trip. However, it also tends to be the most expensive option. Whether you’re purchasing or renting an RV, you’ll also need to factor in the cost of fuel required to power a large RV. Plus, there are the additional challenges of driving and parking such a large vehicle. While many RV parks offer water and electricity hookups, you can also take your RV dry-camping or boondocking, which means camping outside of a traditional RV park without access to those basics.

Choosing a campsite

For beginning campers, sticking close to home at a popular campsite with more facilities, such as bathrooms, grills and trash disposal, is your best bet. Chances are you’ll feel most comfortable setting up your tent near other campers and at a location with an on-site director. Speaking of which, if you stay at a campground with an information center or reservation office, book a campsite near the main building for added security—and hands-on advice.

If you’re game to “rough it” and prefer the sound of birds, squirrels and other wildlife to people, research campsites off the beaten path, such as free camping sites in wilderness areas or on National Forest land. Should you go the remote route, just be sure you pack everything you’ll need to be off the grid.

Pitching your tent

Once you’re at your campsite, you’ll still need to find the best place to pitch your tent. Seek out a level spot so you won’t have to sleep off-kilter. Look up and around the area too—you don’t want to pitch your tent under a tree with dead branches that could fall or near large rocks that look like they could topple, advises Louis Juers, the family campout program specialist with Arizona State Parks and Trails. He also suggests clearing the area of sticks, rocks and other debris that could damage the bottom of your tent. This includes small rocks that “could become very uncomfortable at 2 a.m.,” he adds.

Before you set up your tent, lay a tarp down over your intended foundation. This provides a layer of padding between any rocks you missed, the cold hard ground and your tent. It will also help prevent any water from accumulating in your tent should it rain during your trip.

Camping essentials

Hiking equipment. View from above. Pine forest

The camping gear you need depends on the type of camping you’ll be doing, the season and how long you plan to camp. A general camping packing list includes:

Sleeping gear

  • Tent
  • Cot
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad/mattress
  • Pillow
  • Blanket
  • Ear plugs
  • Eye mask


  • Pots, pans and mixing bowls
  • Coffee pot
  • Camp dishes
  • Utensils
  • Camp stove
  • Fuel for the stove
  • Matches
  • Firestarter
  • Water filter
  • Several gallons of water
  • Biodegradable dish detergent

Personal care items

  • Toiletries (toothpaste, camp soap, deodorant)
  • Bug spray
  • Sunblock

Other items

  • Lantern/headlamp
  • Utility knife
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Portable charger
  • Camping chair
  • Trash bags
  • Ziplock bags
  • Bear spray
  • Waterproof dry bag

Download the Camping Checklist

What to wear

man Hiking while camping wearing an orange shirt, red pants, a backpack and trekking poles

Like your campsite packing list, your clothing checklist depends on the season, how long you’ll be camping and which activities, such as kayaking or hiking, you have planned. It’s always smart to pack layers, especially when camping in the mountains, where temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day.

Here is a general checklist:

  • Short-sleeved tops
  • Long-sleeved tops
  • Hiking pants
  • Hiking boots
  • Hiking sandals
  • Hiking socks
  • Underwear
  • Long underwear/leggings
  • Waterproof shell/jacket
  • Sun-protective hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Fleece or hoodie
  • Gloves
  • Waterproof dry bag
  • Daypack or a light backpack

What to eat

Son and dad making lunch in nature

Though I own virtually every item of camp cookware imaginable, I’ll admit that nine times out of ten, I do everything possible to avoid cooking at the campsite. While I like camp-fired pizza, cornbread, veggie burgers and other classic camp fare, I enjoy those foods a lot more when other people cook them. When left to my own devices, I pack foods that are ready-to-eat or foods I can prepare at home to take with me, like homemade hummus, bean-and-corn salad and pasta salad. Not only does this mean less time cooking at the campsite, but I can pack fewer items and don’t have as much to clean up.

If you’re going to be doing any dishes while camping, use biodegradable, camp-friendly soap and wash dishes (and your body, for that matter) in a bucket or bin that you fill with water at least 200 feet away from any natural water source. Why? Because even biodegradable soap isn’t meant for our rivers, streams and lakes and the aquatic life that calls them home. Sometimes, if my friends and I are only camping for a day or two, we’ll just pack our dirty dishes up in our bags to wash when we get home.

Here’s a list of some of my go-to, no-cook meals and snacks for camping:

  • Overnight oats
  • Bagels with cream cheese
  • Graham crackers with peanut butter
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
  • Cold-cut sandwiches (pack items separately to avoid soggy bread)
  • Pasta salads
  • Bean salads
  • Tuna salad (on a sandwich or in pasta)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Pre-sliced veggies (celery sticks, baby carrots)
  • Hummus
  • Chips and salsa
  • Beef jerky
  • Summer sausage
  • Canned sardines
  • Nuts
  • Cheese sticks
  • Crackers
  • Energy bars
  • Ramen noodles
  • S’mores ingredients (chocolate bars, graham crackers and marshmallows)

How to clean up

a couple walking with trash bags at a campground

Whether you packed all pre-made food or grilled up a multi-course meal, proper trash and waste disposal is essential to keeping your campsite clean and pest- and animal-free. While you’ll want to do a thorough clean-up before heading home, you should also clean as you go, gathering and disposing of all trash after each meal. If your campsite doesn’t provide trash facilities, seal your trash in sturdy, sealable Ziploc freezer bags, then store them away from your tent hidden in the brush or in some rocks until it’s time to leave. Dispose of them properly when you reach civilization, be it a gas station, ranger station, truck stop or home.

If you’re camping in bear-prone areas (more likely when backcountry camping), you’ll need to store food items and food waste in a bear canister, which should be stashed at least 100 yards downwind of your tent.

What to do

father and daughter playing cards in a van

Personally, there’s nothing I enjoy more than reading while camping, so I always pack a good book and a headlamp so I can read as late (or early) as I want. For others, camping is an opportunity to spend electronic-free quality time with friends and family while playing camping games. Whether your group includes young children or only adults, here’s a list of camp-friendly activities:

  • Sing campfire songs
  • Tell campfire stories
  • Play cards
  • UNO
  • Cards Against Humanity
  • “Two Truths and a Lie”
  • Frisbee
  • Badminton
  • Cornhole
  • Lawn bowling
  • Volleyball
  • Capture the flag
  • Build a fort
  • DIY obstacle course
  • DIY scavenger hunt
  • Stargazing

Rules for camping safely

To prevent unwanted potentially dangerous situations like wildfires and bear attacks, avoid rude camping habits like leaving food and fires unattended.

Weather safety

Check the weather before heading out to make sure you pack the right gear. After all, we can’t control the weather, but we can control what we pack—the quality and quantity of your gear will determine how safe and comfortable you are. For a rainy trip, a fully waterproof and windproof tent is essential, as are waterproof dry bags and Ziplock storage bags for electronics. Bring fully charged headlamps, flashlights and/or lanterns or a spare set of batteries. And if the forecast includes very severe weather, there’s no shame in postponing your trip.

Fire safety

Camping fire burning in the morning light along with the mist foggy flowing between the mountain hill in background

While checking the weather, also look to see if there are any fire restrictions, suggests Juers. If conditions are safe, he advises using or making a fire ring to contain the fire. Before lighting a campfire, make sure there are no potential fire hazards nearby, such as dry grass, overhanging branches, root balls or exposed roots.

If you’ve never built a fire, practice before heading out for your first camping trip. Gather twigs, leaves, small sticks and downed firewood (never cut down a living tree), or purchase firewood from the campground or a local store. In order to not introduce invasive species, it’s critical to only use local firewood and not bring wood from home.

Never leave a fire unattended. Extinguish it completely before departing on a hike or turning in for the night. To do so, Juers suggests dousing your fire with water and stirring it with a stick until it feels cool to the back of your hand held close to the coals.

Wildlife safety

One of the best perks of camping is being close to nature and wildlife. Understand, however, that animals do not exist for our entertainment, so for everyone’s safety—including that of the animals—it’s important to keep a safe distance.

Juers suggests following the thumb rule: Hold your thumb out at arm’s length while looking at the animal. “If your thumb doesn’t completely cover the animal, you need to back up!” he warns. Also important: Don’t feed any wild animals.

If you’re camping in bear country, secure all fragrant items (food and any scented soap and toiletries) in a bear canister, carry bear spray and know what to do if you see a bear.

Best places to camp

Camping And Fishing By The Lake

There’s no single best place to camp, because the notion of “best” is up to you! Some people like to be surrounded by trees, while others may want to be near water. Some like a very secluded area, while others prefer the camaraderie of other campers. Consider what you value the most—be it solitude or proximity to modern bathrooms—and plan accordingly. Happy camping!


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How to Make a Bed the Right Way, According to Experts Thu, 15 Jun 2023 21:40:05 +0000 Whether you're making your bed in the morning—or stripping it down, laundering everything and starting from scratch—here's how to do it right.

The post How to Make a Bed the Right Way, According to Experts appeared first on Reader's Digest.

We’ve all had mornings when the last thing we want to do is get out of bed—and the second-to-last thing is think about how to make the bed. Even so, according to a 2010 National Sleep Foundation study, 71% of Americans make their beds every morning or almost every morning.

One of the biggest advantages of making your bed as soon as you wake up is that you can check off one thing from your cleaning schedule before your first cup of coffee. And it may even be easier to remember how often to wash your sheets when you stay on top of things. Plus, if you invest in the best bed sheets, you might even enjoy smoothing out that luxe fabric every morning. Before you know it, you’ll want to learn how to fold a fitted sheet too. And we also give the full instructions for how to make up a bed from scratch after you’ve stripped all the bedding off and laundered it. So if you want to develop some of the habits of productive people, start by making your bed.

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What are the benefits of making your bed?

The focal point of a bedroom is the bed. So when the bed looks tidy, with straight covers and neatly positioned pillows, it can make you feel ready to face the day. Other benefits of making your bed include:

  • Your bedroom looks neater.
  • It sets you up for success.
  • It gives you a more organized mind and a calmer outlook.
  • It is relaxing and reduces stress.
  • It improves focus.

We asked a veteran cleaning pro and an owner of upscale vacation rental homes for tips on how to make a bed, both in the morning and after you’ve stripped and laundered the sheets and are making the whole thing up from square one.

How to make your bed daily

Clear the deck! You cannot work productively with clutter from books, newspapers and midnight snacks.

  • Remove all the extraneous stuff from your bed. Yes, even that chocolate bar you have tucked under your pillow.
  • Place all pillows on a chair or in a basket.
  • Turn back the comforter/duvet, blanket (if there is one) and the top sheet.
  • Smooth the wrinkles out of the bottom sheet, pulling the sheet tight and tucking the excess under the mattress.
  • Dust off the sheet with your hand. From any crumbs around the pillow to dirt from your bare feet—get rid of it.
  • Pull the top sheet up to the edge of the mattress and smooth out any wrinkles. Make sure the sheet drapes evenly on both sides of the bed.
  • Repeat the above step with the blanket, then with the duvet.
  • Fluff the bed pillows. I like to give my pillows a couple of punches on the sides and the ends every day. That fluffs them up really nicely. No need to fluff solid foam pillows. They don’t need it—and you might sprain your wrist or lose a nail if you try.
  • Place pillows (here are the best ones, FYI) over the covers with the open end of the pillow case on the outside of the bed.
  • Arrange the shams and throw pillows to your liking.
  • Add a throw blanket to the end of the bed.
  • Done!

How to make the entire bed in 9 steps

White pillows on bed

Who says spring cleaning has to happen only once a year? A nicely made bed—starting from square one—starts with clean linens. That’s why you should wash your sheets and pillow cases (including protective cases) every week or two, depending on how many people sleep in the bed (including pets), if you eat in bed, if you sweat a lot during the night and if you toss and turn all night. Your duvet or duvet cover should be washed every three to six months, or whenever it appears dirty (and the bedskirt should be washed in that same timeline). A pure white duvet will obviously show dirt faster than a printed or dark duvet.

Step 1: The bedskirt

When you’re making your bed, start with this item, which is also sometimes called a dust ruffle. Align the corners of the bedskirt with the corners of the mattress. Make sure the bedskirt is even all the way around the bed.

“Bedskirts are not hard to put on, but they are hard to make look right after adjusting the mattress on top,” says Green Cleaning Coach Leslie Reichert. “Remove the top mattress. Put the bed skirt on the box spring. Pin the skirt to the box spring with large thumb tacks. Secure them into the box spring to hold the bedskirt in place. Then put the mattress back on top.”

Stretch the bedskirt evenly around, aligning the corners with the corners of the bed. Keep the plain, elastic side at the head of the bed. Check to see that the bedskirt hangs evenly all around.

Pro tip: When choosing a bedskirt, if you have trouble lifting your mattress, opt for an elasticized bedskirt that stretches around the box spring instead. It’s much easier to put on the bed.

Step 2: The topper

A mattress is a big investment, so it makes sense to have a mattress pad or a mattress topper to protect it from spills, stains, sweat and who knows what else. If you’re a hot sleeper, look for a cooling mattress topper or cooling mattress pad.

Donna Boue, owner and manager of upscale rentals on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, prefers toppers made with down alternative. “It’s easy to clean and hypoallergenic, unlike feather toppers that can irritate some people’s allergies,” says Boue.

Pro tip: When putting on a fitted pad or topper, start with the corner of the mattress that is the most difficult to reach. Next, slip it over the corner that is diagonal to it. It makes the job much easier. After all, you may still be recovering from lifting that heavy mattress.

Step 3: The fitted bottom sheet

Place the bottom sheet over the topper. As with the topper, start with the most difficult-to-reach corner of the mattress. Match the seams of the sheet with the seams of the topper and the mattress, making sure to pull the pocket all the way down until it slips under the mattress. (I always break a fingernail when I do this so be careful.) And if you’re in the market for a new mattress, here are our best mattress picks.

Move to the corner diagonally across and repeat. Match the seams of the sheet with the seams on the mattress and the topper. Stretch it and tuck it under the mattress. If your mattress is particularly deep, remember to buy fitted sheets with deep pockets, to ensure a good fit. If not, the fitted sheet will keep rolling off the corners and make your bed a complete mess every morning.

I love fitted sheets, but they do pose a problem when it’s time to put them on the bed. It’s hard to tell which is the shorter side because the elastic makes the sheet bunch up. I can’t count the times I’ve put on one corner only to find out it was the wrong way—either too long or too short to reach the other side. To solve that dilemma, I use a permanent marker to mark the inside seam of the one corner that I always start with. For me, it’s always the left side of the foot of the bed. That way, I never have to figure out which side goes where.

Step 4: The top sheet

There are a few things to remember about the top sheet. If it has a print, decide if you want the pretty side up or down. Some people put the printed side facing down so when they turn down the top sheet the pretty side shows. Others, like Boue, prefer the pretty side to be up. It’s your call.

Place the side of the sheet with the deepest hem at the head of the bed. Then position the sheet so it hangs evenly over both sides of the bed. Just eyeball it. No one’s going to bring a yardstick to your bedroom. Tuck in the sheets at the foot of the bed to your liking. If you like a nice, tightly made bed, tuck in the flat sheet using hospital corners.

To make hospital corners, after you’ve tucked in the sheet at the foot of the bed,

  • Grab the edge of the sheet about 18″ in from the foot of the bed. Lift it to form a 45-degree angle with the mattress.
  • Lay the angled part of the sheet on top of the mattress.
  • Tuck in the part of the sheet that’s hanging down.
  • Bring the sheet down from the top of the mattress.
  • At this point, you can stop and you’ll have a sharp-looking corner. Some people tuck in the side of the sheet all the way to the head of the bed. Not me! It may look like a neatly wrapped bundle, but it’s a pain to get into. You have to untuck the sheets so you can get into bed, or else slide your body in and sleep like a human burrito.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Step 5: The blanket

Blankets are optional, but Boue likes to add a woven cotton blanket between the top sheet and the duvet/comforter. “They have enough weight to make you feel cozy without being too warm,” she says. You can also try a specially designed cooling blanket.

For a finished look, Boue brings the top sheet about six inches beyond the head of the mattress, and the cotton blanket just to the top edge of the mattress. Then she folds that part of the top sheet over the blanket. I tried it and really enjoyed feeling the cool sheet, and not the blanket, against my face last night.

Step 6: The duvet, comforter or bedspread

There are several choices for the top covering for your bed: an all-in-one duvet, a duvet cover with a comforter insert, a comforter or a bedspread. All look great, but you want to ask yourself two questions before buying one: Will this be a hassle to handle, and how easy is it to keep clean? Read the care label, or do an internet search for some professional cleaning tips.

Making your bed with any of these bed coverings is easy.

Duvet or comforter

Making the Bed

  1. Place the bed cover on the bed, making sure the sides are even.
  2. Then pull it up to the top edge of the mattress.
  3. Some people fold their duvet/comforter about a third of the way down when they make their bed. “I don’t fold the duvet,” says Reichert. “It makes it too bulky.” In my opinion, turning down the duvet makes no sense because bed covers are there to protect the sheets from dust, dog hair or whatever is floating in the air, right?


  1. Drape the spread on the bed.
  2. Make sure both sides of the spread are even (well, as even as you can eyeball it) and that the foot of the bedspread isn’t touching the floor.
  3. Bring the spread up to the top of the bed. Fold it back enough to cover the bed pillows. Place the pillows on the folded spread. Pull the spread over the pillows. Nice and neat—and your pillows stay covered.

Step 7: Sleeping pillows

The next step in making your bed is to add the bed pillows. (And if you haven’t gotten new ones lately, they are definitely one of those bedroom items you should replace regularly.) First, cover the pillows with a protective pillow cover.

“Protective pillow covers are a must,” says Reichert. “Have you ever seen the stains on pillows that have not had a cover. It’s ugly.” If that comment hits home, no offense intended. But you may want to learn how to get yellow stains out of pillows before your mother-in-law spends the night.

There are a couple ways to put on pillow cases. For solid foam pillows, I like to fold the pillow in half lengthwise and slip it into the case. It unfolds nicely into place. This is particularly helpful when the pillow and the case are a snug fit. Another option is to grab the center end of the pillow, guide it into the pillow case, bringing each corner of the pillow into the corners of the case. Pull the case over the rest of the pillow.

Pro tip: If you want to add a touch of luxury to your bed, iron the pillow cases. “I do that when I have time or if we are expecting company and they are staying in the guest room,” says Reichert. Boue likes a smooth look to her pillow cases too. She irons her bamboo pillow cases because the corners wrinkle so badly. I used to starch and iron my own pillowcases, but I stopped after my tongue got stuck to the starchy surface.

Step 8: Decorative pillows

“Decorative pillows make a bed look beautiful, but they can be a lot of work,” says Reichert. There’s no limit to how many you can pile on—and zero is a perfectly acceptable number too.

“At our vacation rentals, we use Euro shams instead of multiple throw pillows,” says Boue. “They add a luxurious feel to a bedroom, and that’s what our clients like. At home, however, we don’t use the shams because, though they look nice, we have lots of pillows on our bed already—four king pillows and two standards.”

Step 9: Blanket throws

A blanket throw at the foot of your bed is the icing on the cake of bed-making. Not only are these throws perfect for taking a quick nap on top of the covers, they are great eye candy.

Choose where you place your blanket throw. Fold it lengthwise and lay it across the foot of the bed for a neat look or grab the center of the blanket and toss it diagonally across one corner of the bed for a more casual vibe.

How to keep your bed neat

After making your bed with such TLC, you’ll want to keep it looking lovely and neat. Here are a few suggestions for preserving that freshly laundered look.

  • Make it a hard-and-fast rule that nothing goes on the bed during the day—no purses, no packages, no mail, no pets.
  • If you have the space, put a chair in your bedroom so you’ll have a place to sit when getting dressed or changing shoes. That way, you don’t have to sit on your bed and muss the covers.
  • Take a few seconds to smooth out the duvet/comforter/bedspread when you make your bed every morning. That wrinkle-free look makes such a difference. “When the duvet cover gets wrinkled, I pass the iron over the top of it to make it look nicer,” says Boue. “I do that in both our home and the rental homes.”
  • If your bed pillows are washable, wash them at least twice a year, or more often, if needed. If you have pets that share your bed, or if you sweat profusely during the night (I didn’t want to bring that up, but facts are facts), you may want to wash your pillows four times a year. If you don’t know how to wash your pillow, now you will.


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This Body Makeup Helped My Skin Look Smooth and Even Thu, 15 Jun 2023 19:50:37 +0000 I tried Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Protector, which claims to cover scars and age spots and make your skin look even. Did it work?

The post This Body Makeup Helped My Skin Look Smooth and Even appeared first on Reader's Digest.

Great news—my daughter is getting married this summer! But I had her when I was almost 40, a fact that made me feel a little self-conscious about my skin when choosing my mother-of-the-bride dress. The reality is, as one ages, certain skin conditions may develop that leave you feeling less than confident, such as varicose veins and age spots.

That’s where the Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Perfector comes in. Whether you’re contending with the realities of aging skin, or looking to cover up a scar, tattoo or a bad bruise from last weekend, this waterproof body foundation claims to do it all.

What is the Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Perfector?

 Body Perfector shades

A type of body foundation, this Westmore Beauty makeup is a waterproof cream formulated to offer buildable coverage to conceal varicose veins, tattoos, age spots, scars and bruises for 24 hours, without transferring to clothes.

The product is very similar in look and feel to a face foundation but in larger quantity for applying to the legs, arms, hands, feet and chest.

Shop Now

Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Perfector features

The cream offers “instant coverage” as soon is you blend it in with your fingers or a body makeup brush. It takes 10 minutes to fully dry, but once it is, the foundation is waterproof and transfer-proof. You can also add more to conceal any darker blemishes, but you’ll have to wait another 10 minutes before dressing.

It comes in seven shades to even out skin tone from very light to deep, and three tube sizes.

  • Instantly concealing
  • Buildable coverage
  • Waterproof and transfer-proof
  • Long-lasting
  • Seven shades
  • Three sizes

How we tested it

Before And After Body Perfector on legs

I opted to use the product on my legs, which have some discoloration from varicose veins, for this review. To test the Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Perfector, I first prepped my skin. I used the Westmore Skin Conditioning Exfoliator, but any oil-free body scrub or soap will remove any dirt and oil. I applied lotion and sunscreen, making sure they were oil-free. This is optional; you can use these later once the product is dry.

I then applied the foundation to my legs, following the instructions to use upward and outward strokes to cover the area and letting it dry for a full 10 minutes before getting dressed. I found the product applied easily and went on smoothly while providing an even skin tone. It also didn’t feel heavy at all on my skin and didn’t wipe off on my clothing as I went about my day.

Once I had the Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Protector on my legs, I tested how it reacted to different situations.

First, I went swimming for about 45 minutes. When I came out of the pool, my legs looked the same, and there wasn’t any concealer on my swimsuit.

The temperature in my area wasn’t yet “sweating weather,” so I went into the sauna after I got out of the pool. I stayed in long enough to feel the sweat on my body.

Finally, I took a shower using an oil-free soap. Patting dry seemed to make the most sense. I did not rub dry, although I did rub in a small area for the sake of the review.

At the end of the process, there wasn’t any body makeup on my towel, even where I rubbed dry. The product met my approval, and I am ready for my daughter’s wedding.


  • Water- and rub-resistant
  • Did not come off on my clothes, furniture or bed sheets
  • Easy to apply
  • Even with drying time, it only took 30 minutes to apply
  • Evened my skin tone and hid some imperfections


  • Limited shade options may make it difficult to match skin tones
  • Does not have sunscreen in the formula


 Body Perfector

How long does the Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Perfector last?

At least the 24 hours promised! For me, the product lasted overnight and into the second day. Taking a second shower finally took the product off.

Can you use the Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Perfector on your face?

You can use it as face foundation, but it won’t last as long. This is because faces tend to have more oil than legs and the product information indicates it should be put on an oil-free area.

Does Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Perfector cover stretch marks?

It covered stretch marks like other imperfections, reducing their appearance but not eliminating them.

What other reviewers have to say

“Received compliments on my legs as soon as I used this product,” Westmore reviewer Marilyn writes. “Very cheering for an elderly person to hear. My arms look smooth and younger.”

“I’m three months shy of 70 years old. I’ve tried self-tanners and they were always a disappointment,” says shopper Cynthia M. on Westmore’s website. “I also have visible veins and an 8-inch scar from a knee replacement 11 years ago. My skin is translucent and does not tan anymore. I tried this product to cover veins, even skin tone and give some light color. I’m very pleased. It lasts several days, too.”

Westmore shopper Caroline C. also loves the look, saying, “Very natural-looking finish. I didn’t put it all the way into my toes since I’m wary of it rubbing off on shoes, but it blends so well. Covers imperfections and veins extremely well. I’m thankful to have something that makes me feel confident in shorts.”

Final verdict

With the Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Protector, my blotches and age spots disappeared, and my legs and arms look smooth. It conceals most imperfections, such as scars, skin discolorations and blotchiness.

I would recommend buying Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Protector and plan to use it at my daughter’s wedding. It didn’t cover everything as advertised, but it covered enough and evened out the skin tone on my legs. When I look at the before and after pictures, I prefer looking like the after pictures. And it isn’t just for legs. You can also use it on the arms and chest.

Now all I need is a slimming swimsuit to wear at the pool in the hotel.

Where to buy the Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Perfector

Body Perfector

Shop the Westmore Beauty Body Coverage Perfector at Westmore Beauty starting at $39 for the 2.5-ounce bottle. The company also offers “subscribe and save” prices, which save you 20% if you agree to regular deliveries. You can also buy it on Amazon.

Shop Now

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The 6 Best Vacuums for Stairs of 2023, According to Cleaning Pros Thu, 15 Jun 2023 17:52:02 +0000 Stairs are often a forgotten area of the home. Browse the best vacuums for stairs to make your house truly spotless.

The post The 6 Best Vacuums for Stairs of 2023, According to Cleaning Pros appeared first on Reader's Digest.

Shark Navigator Lift Away Adv Vacuum Ecomm Via

Best overall vacuum for stairs

Shark Navigator Lift-Away ADV Upright Vacuum

With this Shark upright vacuum, you’ll love the lift-away option for full transportability. The detachable pod is easy to use with a simple pod-release pedal. Once detached, use it to vacuum stairs or other hard-to-reach areas, like ceiling fans or banisters. This Amazon vacuum deep cleans every crevice, and the strong suction works on picking up layers of pet hair from the floors.

The three attachments include a crevice tool, dusting brush and pet power brush. We love that this Shark vacuum only weighs around 12 pounds (even less when the pod is detached). The precise swivel steering makes it easy to maneuver without straining your back. The Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology ensures a clean air experience that captures 99.99% of dust and allergens.


  • Detachable tools grab dirt in every crevice
  • Lift-away option lets you reach areas off the ground
  • Cleans pet hair on various surfaces
  • Weighs about 12 pounds
  • Captures 99.99% of dust and allergens
  • Available on Amazon, Shark and Walmart


  • Not cordless

Shop Now

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15 Things Chefs Always Buy Frozen Thu, 15 Jun 2023 17:45:03 +0000 Looking to save time and effort without sacrificing quality? So are professional cooks—and that’s why they stock up on these frozen foods at home.

The post 15 Things Chefs Always Buy Frozen appeared first on Reader's Digest.


Rd Frozen Foods Gettyimages 1270846841 Jvedit

The best frozen foods you’ll want on hand

The best frozen foods are just as much a godsend for professional chefs as they are for home cooks. Trust me—I’ve been cooking professionally since 2002, I’ve written multiple cookbooks and my freezer is perpetually packed to the gills with more than just ice cream. (Though there is a lot of ice cream.)

And here’s a food fact you may not realize: Just because a food is frozen doesn’t mean it’s not as good as one that’s fresh. The method for freezing food industrially is far different from how you freeze food at home, so you don’t have to worry about things like freezer burn. Special flash-freezing technology allows fruits and vegetables to be “suspended in time” at peak freshness in mere minutes, or even seconds. This not only preserves flavor and texture but nutrients as well, making some frozen foods healthier than fresh.

There are many reasons for chefs to turn to the best frozen foods, both at home and on the job, from saving time and kitchen space to simply sourcing a better product. (No one wants to use inferior ingredients when making their best recipes!) Here are some chef picks for the best frozen foods you’ll want to stock up on. Now the only thing you’ll need to learn is how to organize your freezer with all these new items!

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