Stories by Anna Kuchment

  • In the News: Sweet and Low

    Diabetic patients have a new way of keeping their blood sugar in check. Last week the FDA approved Januvia, the first in a new class of oral drugs that patients can take alone or in combination with insulin and other treatments. The pills, from Merck, work by inhibiting the breakdown of incretins, hormones that help insulin do its job. "Taking Januvia helps your body work a little bit more normally again," says Dr. James Underberg of New York University School of Medicine, who participated in the clinical trials. Existing oral treatments work by stimulating the pancreas to make more insulin or by helping the insulin your body produces work better. When compared with glipizide, one widely used drug that falls into the former category, Januvia caused fewer cases of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. "This gives people a new option in case they don't react well to one of the other medications," says Dr. Richard Jackson, a senior physician at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston....
  • Halloween: Going Gaga

    They may be too young for Hershey bars, but they're old enough to get dressed up. Infant Halloween costumes have grown more and more elaborate. Need help sorting the tasteful from the tacky? Old Navy's two-piece fleece dragon ($19.50; oldnavy.com ) is soft and easy to crawl in. Babystyle's fuzzy Fly the Coop Chick ($19.99) and its golden Go Fish bunting ($24), both at babystyle.com , are among the most beautifully designed, though sizes run large. PsychoBaby's black pumpkin tutu-and-hat set ($30; psychobabyonline. com ) is cute, not prissy. But buy now; kids' costumes sell out before you can say "trick or treat."
  • Environment: Flooring It

    You no longer have to cut down a forest to build a gleaming parquet floor. In fact, some of the most popular new materials aren't made of wood at all. A look at some environmentally sound options: Cork: Usually taken from a bottling company's leftovers, it's softer underfoot than hardwood (from $6.50 per square foot; greenfloors.com ). Recycled glass: It's more slippery than ceramic, so use the smallest, one-inch tiles for your bathroom (about $30 per square foot; sandhillind.com ). Renewable rugs: Flor ( florcatalog.com ) is one of a growing number of companies offering partially recycled, adhesive-free rugs (from $6.50 per square foot).
  • Style: It's Such A Cinch

    After years of unembellished waistlines, belts are back in style. This season's look is the "corset belt," says Women's Wear Daily's Roxanne Robinson-Escriout--a thick strap worn at the waist. Some, like Carlos Falchi's black patent leather one (top right, $280) and W. Kleinberg's python belt (top left, $425; both at Saks Fifth Avenue stores), are as wide as four to six inches. Others, like Anthropologie's leather belt (lower right, $178) and Alexis Bittar's mesh belt (lower left, $198; both at Anthropologie stores), are slimmer but sport elaborate buckles. Wear them over a loose sweater or potato-sack dress with a pair of leggings or slim-fitting pants. But beware: they're not for the thick-waisted. If you have a wider waist, look for a belt that rides on the hip. Either way, says Robinson-Escriout, don't be afraid to make a statement: "Think of it as body jewelry."
  • Technology: Want to be a Video Star?

    Ze Frank's daily video blog looks simple enough. In each installment of "The Show" ( zefrank.com/theshow ), one of the most popular "vlogs" on the Internet as ranked by technorati.com , the 34-year-old New Yorker riffs on airport delays, politicians' names and other topics. But what takes viewers a few minutes to watch, takes Frank nearly six hours to produce. Coming up with fresh material, he says, is a daily struggle."There is a myth that you can just put a video on YouTube and suddenly it's going to get watched by a million people," says Jay Dedman, who moderates a video-blogging discussion group on Yahoo.com . That myth fell away last week when the popular vlogger lonelygirl15 ( YouTube.com ) turned out to be an actress starring in an early version of a film. Lonelygirl had attracted a following with her snappily edited monologues about life as a home-schooled teen with strictly religious parents. But even if you don't have movie-studio muscle to devote to your monologues, there...
  • Moms Mean Business

    It wasn't long into my maternity leave when I hatched my first idea for a new business: I'd start a "night-care center" where sleep-deprived parents could drop off their newborns and head home for eight hours of uninterrupted slumber. In my case, it was more of a 3 a.m. fantasy than a viable plan. But, since having my daughter, Eliza, seven months ago, I've met a surprising number of moms who've launched ambitious businesses within months of giving birth.It's such a phenomenon that there's even a trademarked term to describe it: Mompreneurs. "It definitely is a trend," says Sharon Hadary, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Women's Business Research. Earlier this year the center released a study showing that one-woman businesses, the group that most new moms fall into, have been growing at twice the rate of the national average. You can see evidence of this each time you Google a new baby product: moms are marketing their own hand-embroidered burp cloths, pacifiers that...
  • Dermatology: What a Stretch

    Motherhood is beautiful. The scars it leaves behind aren't: more than 90 percent of women develop stretch marks during the last trimester of their pregnancies. Is there anything you can do to prevent them? "Choose different parents," says Denver dermatologist Barbara Reed. In other words: no, they're hereditary. Moisturizers will help soothe itching, but they won't improve your appearance. Dr. Andrea Cambio, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology, suggests asking your doctor to prescribe tretinoin (Retin A) during the early stages after delivery and nursing. It can help fade the marks. Or try laser therapy with a pulsed dye laser (from $300 per session; go to aad.org for more info). For a less expensive approach, Cambio suggests sunless tanning creams, which can help camouflage older, silvery lines. There are better lasers in the works, but, until then, you'll just have to wear your scars with pride.
  • Home: Think Like MacGyver

    If you've been craving a good crafts project, two new books will help put your hands to work: "Ready-Made" ($16.50; amazon.com ), by ReadyMade magazine founders Shoshana Berger and Grace Hawthorne, and "D.I.Y.: Design It Yourself," by Ellen Lupton, a professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and her students ($19.95; in stores next month). "Ready-Made" tackles everything from stationery to home decor (including a cool doormat made from wooden clothespins). An-other favorite idea: picture frames made from used hard-cover books with quirky titles (pictured). Most of the projects require only basic tools and found objects, like scissors, thread and old hubcaps, and minimal design skills.Lupton's book is more ambitious. It includes some simple projects, like a blank book with a cover made from sewn-together chopsticks, but also offers help with elaborate wedding invitations, blog design, embroidered shirts, handbags and sleek wall graphics. The authors' goals go beyond mere...
  • Food: Calorie Counter

    It's hard to know--or even notice--how much you're eating at a holiday party. TIP SHEET asked American Dietetic Association spokesperson Katherine Tallmadge to calculate fat and calorie counts for some of the most popular seasonal foods and explain how much gym work each one requires the next day. Anna Kuchment Serving Size Calories Fat % of Calories From Fat Time on Elliptical Trainer MiniQuiche 1 60 3 grams 45% 9 min. (for a 150lb. adult) Yule LogCake 2oz. slice 300 12 grams 36% 44 minutes Chanukah Gelt 1 coin 28 1.8 grams 57% 4 minutes Gingerbread Cookies 1 small cookie 140 5 grams 32% 20 minutes Pigs in Blankets 1 87 5 grams 52% 13 minutes Egg Nog With Rum 9.5oz. mug 444 18 grams 36% 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Family: 'It's My Party...'

    Birthday parties are a blast for some kids, but torture for others. "They can be pretty overwhelming," says Marti Olsen Laney, author of "The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child," out next month. Her advice on helping shy kids ages 3 to 9 survive their next bash: ...
  • Home: Blast From The Past

    Remember when pro-style ranges were a novelty? Now practically everyone owns a Viking. To stand out, design aficionados are turning to the next big thing: buying and restoring vintage stoves. Start with a copy of "How to Locate and Purchase the Right Antique Stove" ($18.95; antiquestoves.com ), which comes with a year's worth of free consultation. Look for ones built after World War II, which come with modern safety features and full insulation (expect to pay a few hundred dollars, plus repairs). Make sure it has all its parts and check its temperature readings with a thermometer (it shouldn't be off by more than 50 degrees). Sites like antiquestoves.com and antiqueappliances.com provide service and parts nationwide. Now get cooking.
  • Workplace: 'You're No Donald'

    You've met your deadlines and trimmed your department's budget by 10 percent. But your boss gave you a lame "satisfactory" on your year-end review. What can you do? Monster.com 's career expert John Rossheim says to first ask yourself if she's right. If so, have her put in writing what you need to do to improve and check back in about three months. If you think you've been wronged, take a couple of days to cool off before responding. Address in person any accomplishments she's not aware of (you just closed a $5 million deal) or circumstances she failed to take into account (three of your employees are on leave). But don't file an official, written reply immediately, because it may make your boss feel backed into a corner. Your best bet, though, is to avoid the bad review in the first place. Graham Alexander, an executive coach and author of "Tales From the Top," suggests meeting with your boss three or four times a year to head off any developing problems. Then you'll cut your...
  • Travel: New York Views

    Last week the GE Building reopened its 1930s-era observation deck for the first time since 1986. How does it stack up against other landmark views? A comparison. ...
  • Workplace: A Greener Commute

    Your trip to the office takes a serious toll on your nerves. But it doesn't have to take a toll on the environment. This week, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation release their annual list of Best Workplaces for Commuters (see bwc.gov starting Wednesday morning), a ranking of companies that provide good incentives for workers to leave their cars at home. Past winners, like Intel and Cisco Systems, offer benefits like transit passes, generous telecommuting options and on-site amenities like bike storage, an ATM or a dry cleaner to reduce daily car trips. Currently, only 5 percent of workers get such benefits. To find out about setting up a program at your office, visit commuterchoice.com . Happy trails.
  • Fitness: Pull Your Weight

    Long used by Soviet athletes, kettlebells are catching on in gyms across the United States. They look like cannonballs with handles, and trainers say they melt fat and build muscle definition faster than traditional free weights. "More and more people are looking at this as really good functional training," says Terry Malone, director of physical therapy at the University of Kentucky. Kettlebell users work out by swinging the weights, which range from nine to 88 pounds each, with one or both hands while performing squats and other dynamic movements. "It trains the body as one unit, rather than isolating body parts," says Sarah Lurie, founder of Iron Core ( ironcorelajolla.com ), a California gym devoted to kettlebell training. Look for classes at Equinox gyms ( equinoxfitness.com ) or buy weights and workout videos on amazon.com .
  • Style: A Secret Picture

    Along with everything Victorian, lockets are back in style. Stores like Target and Tiffany's are selling bracelets and necklaces with charms that open to reveal secret photos. "They're in keeping with the romantic mood in jewelry: small, sentimental pieces that are personal," says Brooke Magnaghi, jewelry-fashion editor at W Jewelry. She recommends pairing a short locket necklace with a longer chain for a more modern look. Anthopologie's Tuvalu charm necklace ($228) and Cardinal locket ($119.95; both at anthropologie.com ) come prelayered with multiple strands. For something more traditional, photographer and jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann fashions lockets with delicate engravings out of silver and gold (from $190; mrkphoto.com for stores). But while the pendants have returned, the tradition of stuffing them with saints' fingernails probably will not.
  • Parenting: Ditching Diapers

    Christine Gross-Loh started toilet training her son, Daniel, when he was 3 weeks old. (She'd hold him over a potty when she thought he needed to go.) By the time he was 9 months, he could indicate that he needed to be taken to the bathroom, she says. When Daniel reached 18 months, Gross-Loh stopped using diapers for good. Gross-Loh, a stay-at-home mom in New York City, is part of a growing movement called "infant potty training"--or, in slightly ickier terms, "elimination communication"--whose followers believe that most parents are overly reliant on diapers. "We believe babies are born with an awareness of when they're going to the bathroom and a desire to keep themselves clean," she says. In 2003, two of her friends (who learned of the method from her) founded diaperfree baby.org, which now has support groups in 35 states. In the past century, the average age at which kids graduate from diapers to underwear has crept up from 1.5 years to beyond the age of 3. This, experts say, is...
  • CELEB T SHIRTS: FREE THIS TREND!

    If last summer's fad was the plain white T shirt, this year's is the instant-celebrity logo. Moments after watching Tom Cruise on "Oprah," West Hollywood artist Sheila Cameron designed one of the first FREE KATIE tees and sold more than 3,000 online. She followed up with I'M GLIB (a reference to the Matt Lauer-Tom Cruise spat) and TEAM PROZAC (for those who believe in drugs, not Scientology). Though the trend may have started with FREE WINONA and FREE MARTHA, it really took off when Eva Longoria wore I'LL HAVE YOUR BABY, BRAD in April. Now there's TEAM JOLIE, TEAM ANISTON (Aniston outsells Angelina 25 to 1 at shop kitson.com), FEED LINDSAY and--the newest ones--I WANNA BE YOUR NANNY and TEAM SIENNA. "It makes you feel like you're part of a club. You have to be 'on the in' to get it," says Stacey Pecor, owner of New York City boutique chain Olive and Bette's. Or maybe she's just being glib.
  • THE BLING'S THE THING

    It's a busy morning at Jacob & Co. jewelers. The shop's owner, Jacob Arabo, is about to sit down with a visitor when Sean (P. Diddy) Combs, the rapper turned fashion impresario, bursts through the front door with his entourage, including a tiny white dog. After a flurry of activity, the jewelry emergency is over. The star and his companions are sent on their way, the purpose of their mission a closely guarded secret.The event is pretty typical for the boutique on New York City's East 57th Street. Though Jacob & Co. opened its doors just last December, Arabo's relationship with the entertainment industry spans at least a decade, back to the day when two hip-hop stars discovered the young jeweler toiling at a booth in Manhattan's gritty diamond district. With his bold (some might say flashy) pieces, he's helped transform diamonds from a stuffy blueblood accessory to an indulgence of choice among the young, hip and moneyed. Today the market for rocks couldn't be hotter:...
  • BEATING BUG BITES

    You can count on mosquitoes to drain the fun from just about any summer activity. Fortunately, travelers have some new weapons this year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov) have issued new recommendations that tout Picaridin, popular in Europe and Asia, as an odorless alternative to DEET. It's found in Cutter Advanced ($3.99 to $4.99 for the 6-oz. spray), which fights mosquitoes for four hours (Off!, with DEET, can work for up to seven). For the organically inclined, oil of lemon eucalyptus, found in Repel (about $4.99), offers seven hours of protection, according to a recent USDA study. With West Nile virus present in every state but Washington, the CDC recommends wearing repellent whenever you go outside, "but especially from dusk till dawn," says the CDC's Emily Zielinski-Gutierrez. And that goes for city slickers and country folk alike.
  • TRAWLING FOR TAG-SALE TREASURE

    Chris Heiska of Lusby, Md., collects old shaving brushes, tin lunchboxes and antique ice-cream scoops. John Schroeder's passion is vintage radios; he's bought more than 100. Anyone can feed his obsessions on eBay, but for some collectors, there's nothing like the rush of rummaging through a great yard sale. "It's all about the treasure hunt," says Schroeder, a Minneapolis-based copy editor and author of "Garage Sale Fever!" ($12.95; gsfever.com).Garage sales have long offered a fun, if slightly geeky, way of spending a Saturday afternoon. But the explosive popularity of eBay, PBS's "Antiques Roadshow" and BBC America's "Cash in the Attic" have transformed them into a chic, mainstream obsession. While trawling for treasure in your hometown comes with its own rewards (Schroeder once found a childhood photo of his mom that way), many tag sales are worth a journey--or at least a detour on your next vacation.Florida: Its high concentration of retirees (read: decades' worth of accumulated...
  • HEALTH: WHEN DIMPLES GO BAD

    Until last month, Lindsay Christiansen, 26, hadn't worn a bathing suit in three years. The San Diego-based flight attendant gained weight after college and felt self-conscious about her increasingly dimpled thighs. "It got to the point where I didn't even want to wear shorts," she says. Then Christiansen heard about a new treatment that combines intensive massage and cool laser light. She signed up at a local spa and, after just a few weeks, saw a big difference: her legs were slimmer and less rippled--and she looked much better in jeans. "Every day, people are, like, 'You lost weight, what are you doing?' " she says.Christiansen's treatment, TriActive, is the product of a new wave of research into cellulite--part of an overall boom in cosmetic remedies. The orange-peel-like skin that forms around the butt and thighs affects 85 percent of all women over the age of 18. Yet, for a long time, dermatologists had little information about its nature or how to treat it. "Only in the past...
  • IN SEASON: FEELING CRABBY

    Each spring, blue crabs along the East Coast shed their hard outer shells, becoming what chefs and watermen call "softies," or soft-shell crabs. At your seafood store, look for "primes," crabs that are three to four inches from front to back. Make sure each one is alive and that it feels heavy for its size, which means it's fresh enough to have retained its water. Chef Pino Maffeo of Boston's Restaurant L recommends dipping the crabs in buttermilk, dredging in flour and frying in a generous amount of canola oil for around two minutes per side. Serve with avocado puree. For the full recipe, go to louisboston.com and click on Restaurant L.
  • WORKPLACE: BE MASTER OF YOUR E-MAIL

    If not managed rigorously, e-mail can ruin your life," says Marilyn Paul, a management consultant and author of "It's Hard to Make a Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys." That may sound dire, but having a messy inbox can lead to missed appointments and hours of wasted time. Here's how to show your e-mail who's boss:Put your inbox on hold. Most people open their e-mail as soon as they arrive at work. Big mistake, says Paul. "You can quickly lose track of time and forget a meeting." Instead, start your day by reviewing your calendar and noting the three to five most important things you need to get done.Avoid clutter. Be ruthless about getting e-mails out of your inbox. Set up folders to keep your messages organized. (In Microsoft Outlook, go to the File menu, select Folder, then New Folder, and choose Personal Folders as the location.) The most important one to set up is a Follow-up folder for messages that defy a ready response. Set a deadline for yourself to answer them, then...
  • HEALTH: MORE THAN CALORIES

    Last week's Food Marketing Institute show in Chicago revealed a new lineup of functional foods. A guide to the latest ingredients:Plant sterols. "Evidence is very strong that they can help reduce total and LDL cholesterol," says the American Dietetic Association's Jeannie Moloo. The veggie compounds are in Yoplait's new Healthy Heart yogurt.Higher fiber. You've seen foods with three or four grams per serving. But Kraft's new South Beach Diet frozen pizzas boast 14. Too much? No, but keep in mind the recommended daily amount is only 25 to 35 grams.Choline. Touted in a new Kashi kids' cereal, this vitamin B-like nutrient helps with memory development, says the University of North Carolina's Steven Zeisel. For more info, search iom.edu.Probiotics. Lifeway has long added these "good bacteria" to its kefir, a yogurtlike drink, and experts think they're catching on. Probiotics aid digestion, and Moloo recommends them for the lactose-intolerant.
  • THE NEW BLING RINGS

    Jon Cronin's girlfriend would nearly cry each time she watched the ad where the guy slips his wife a giant rock on a trip to Venice. So when the Boston-based real-estate developer decided to propose four months ago, he flew her to Italy, where he popped the question in St. Mark's Square with a six-carat solitaire worth more than $100,000. "She's still in shock, I think," says Cronin, 38.These days, bling isn't reserved for hip-hop artists and Donald Trump. Young brides from Boulder to Boston are flashing rings twice the size of what their moms once wore. The Gemological Institute of America has seen a 41 percent jump since 2000 in the number of two-carat-plus diamonds that it processes. "For a long time, the one-carat stone was basically the standard," says Carley Roney, founder of TheKnot.com. "But for a growing set of people, it's just not good enough anymore."What's behind the zing for bling? Relentless marketing from the diamond industry, endless coverage of celebrity...
  • HOME: DESIGNING WOMAN

    Eva Zeisel is one of the 20th century's best-known industrial designers. Lately interest in her work has reached a new peak. Crate & Barrel recently re-released a line of her china designed in 1952 (Classic Century; crateandbarrel.com), and, this week, Washington, D.C.'s Hillwood Museum and Gardens (hillwoodmuseum.org) will open a retrospective of her work. Not that her career is behind her: the 98-year-old is hard at work on new vases and table-wear for companies like KleinReid (kleinreid.com) and Nambe (nambe.com). We should all be so prolific.
  • FOOD: SECRETS OF A CHOWHOUND

    Jim Leff speaks in a breathless staccato: "Incredible barbecue. In a shack. In Newark." He's raving about his newest restaurant find, which he says serves some of the best South Carolina-style mustard sauce in the Northeast. You may not think of Newark, N.J., as a culinary capital, but Leff has a knack for sniffing out great food in unlikely places. He shares his discoveries with readers of Chowhound.com, where thousands of food lovers swap tips on everything from which Queens street cart sells the best Indian dosas to how to get a reservation at Napa Valley's The French Laundry. Next week Leff's wisdom, along with that of his site's most loyal contributors, will be published in two new guidebooks: "The Chowhound's Guide to the New York Tristate Area" and "The Chowhound's Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area" ($18 each). We tagged along on a recent scouting trip to Newark to figure out how he can find a great meal anywhere.Search for soul. There are two types of restaurant owners,...
  • STYLE: TOTALLY TRENDY

    In the days before refrigerators, New Englanders used L.L. Bean's Boat and Tote bags to haul ice home from the rivers. That was back when totes were frumpy but practical. This spring, the workhorses are getting glammed up. L.L. Bean has rolled out shoulder bags in a slew of bright colors, like preppy pink and green. And high-end designers are riffing on the Bean classic to suit a more upscale crowd. Vanessa Bruno's hip cotton canvas bags come in pastel colors with sequin trim. Carolina Herrera has an elegant version with croc straps ($1,990; 212-249-6552). And Talene Reilly's is bright but businesslike, with a removable laptop case. It's chic yet utilitarian--a chip off the old block.
  • GADGETS: DIAL 'M' FOR 'MOM'

    Your kids want that new phone with the camera, Web browser and 12,000 ringtones. You want some measure of control over who they're talking to--and you'd rather not dip into their college savings to buy it. One good compromise: the new Firefly (fireflymobile.com), designed for kids 8 to 12. It lets parents program up to 20 numbers that kids can call and receive calls from, so strangers are out of luck. The phone has just five keys, including two for Mom and Dad. So far, availability is limited to Ohio ((cincinnatibell.com) and the southeastern United States ($199 for 1,200 minutes; (suncom.com), but it will soon debut nationwide. One downside: no text messaging. They'll just have to pass notes.