Pros: High-quality articles, unique decorating tips, beautiful garden photographs, tempting recipes, useful parenting/health/nutrition information, crafts
Cons: Expensive newsstand price, many ads, not enough time to do all the great projects
This popular magazine is Better Homes and Gardens. It appeals to readers interested in creative ideas for their families, homes and gardens. The magazine has ideas for home owners and apartment dwellers alike. Articles are targeted for either gender. They contain ideas for readers on tight budgets as well as luxury ideas for readers who are not. I think the mix of articles is great for everyone interested in home decorating, remodeling and backyard/patio gardening. The magazine covers a lot more than these topics. Let's not leave out the great section just for kids. There are also wonderful articles on family living and others on health and food. I am a long-term subscriber of Better Homes & gardens. Even after I downsize from my home in NY and relocate to a smaller space (condo) in Florida, I'll continue my subscription.
The Meredith Corporation publishes Better Homes and Gardens monthly. Issues run between 212-256 pages. Covers picture kids hideaways, beautiful lived-in gardens, romantic cottages or inviting interiors. Colorful lower case fonts announce the featured articles. The magazine conveniently lists the pages on which you can find the articles. This is good because you have to wade through 8 full-pages of ads to find the Table of Contents page called simply, What's Inside. Although the magazine has an abundance of ads, they are all tasteful and relate to the contents of the magazine.
Better Homes and Gardens Magazine always begins with the Friends and Family Department. The one page bhg.com section is a regular feature that alerts readers to the content of the Website. Floral-arranging ideas, garden shopping e-mails, quick-and-easy meals, a quiz on your home IQ plus ideas for theme kids birthday parties are listed. There is much more on the site than this page lists. You'll fine lots of tempting recipes, creative craft ideas for kids and adults, unique decorating tips and helpful entertaining advice. I found their terrific on-line store that carries a ton of other publications by Better Homes & Gardens, all at discount prices. Subjects range from Attic & Basement Remodeling to Patchwork & Quilting Ideas and everything in between.
This department also contains the monthly letter from the (new) editor-n-Chief, readers' solutions to a variety of home problems and a real terrific Better Homes & Garden's Kids Department. The fabulous kid's section is filled with great creative ideas for kids' games, crafts and projects. The riot of colors makes the 16-pages appeal to kids of all ages. Even the ads in this section are creative and fun to view. The September issue has a Back-to-School theme. Find something for every school subject that is educational yet fun for kids. Chinese Jump rope, Balloon Badminton, Around the World Cookies, Instant-Magnet Messages, Edible Art Work, Dice Fun, Big Number Toss, Gone Fishing and Munchie Math Game are just a few of the creative ideas. The Reading Jar, Shelf Liner Book Covers & Place Mat Pads along with a colorful Carry-Along Journal, Oompah Stick, Rain Stick, Paper Bag Maracas and the No Spill Paintbrush Station make wonderful and easy rainy day activities that relieve boredom. Although I don't have any young children, these ideas are great for the classroom as well.
The Friends and Family Department also closes each issue and leaves readers smiling. The final page of each issue is called The Family Next Door. This humorous page of cartoons is always funny and relevant. Cartoons revolve around a theme. This month the cartoons poke fun at the modern technology communication lunacy-fax, cell phone and walkie-talkies.
Each month the magazine has a spectacular Gardening Department. Every issue carries The Gardener's Almanac that features a different flower. In the September issue, readers learn about the Clematis. In August, we learn about Lilies and in June - Chrysanthemums. Tips are also given on how to grow healthy flowers and shrubs. See beautiful lily ponds, gracious rock gardens and welcoming entrances. Learn why textures and contrasts are important in landscaping your garden. Discover how to arrange all those beautiful garden plants and flowers into bouquets for the home. Apartment dwellers can use the step by step illustrations with flowers from a florist. The pages on gardening are always filled with greenery that invite a second look. I enjoy looking at this colorful section each month. I save lots of ideas here on plantings and arrangements for the following year. Readers who have small balconies or terraces can benefit from the frequent articles on container grown plants.
It is the Interior Design Department that most grabs my attention each month. The September issue has great ideas for valances, cornices, plate rails, pressed flowers and hints for incorporating your collections into a decorating theme. I enjoyed pillowcase embellishments, the great corner office ideas and tips on using a monochromatic scheme. The article on creative candle ideas and the cover story on how traditional decorating can be comfy and fun are interesting reads. Male readers who live in apartments will especially enjoy the terrific decorating ideas for a gentleman's small flat. Readers can adapt these ideas for small homes, also. I especially enjoyed the article about how to turn plain boxy rooms into dramatic spaces by adding decorative panels, stenciling or textured wallpaper to the walls. Another great article showed how to transform worn, marred tables into nifty stylish tables. Other great inexpensive ideas include using pre-pasted floral cut outs from wallpaper for decorating the risers of stairs.
Recently this department also gave me an idea for how to solve a problem cramped, inaccessible crawl space area in my daughter's home. I can't wait to share it with her. I know she'll love it. In the June issue, I loved the simple, yet colorful, idea for using paint chips strips to inexpensively decorate a variety of items. Now where did I put those great strips of colorful paint samples left over from my recent kitchen make over? Most of their ideas are relatively inexpensive and simple to execute. This is what I like about the magazine. You don't have to be a decorator, seamstress or be even in Donald Trump's category to use their ideas.
Another terrific regular department is Building. Here readers can find exciting remodeling ideas. I can hardly believe how the magazine transforms ugly dark spaces into vibrant dramatic living areas with just a little remodeling. Ten articles cover sunscreen porches, solid surface windowsills, hot designs for driveway and multipurpose privacy fences. Love arbor and gate entrances? Then, check out the article called, "Rosy Reception." Read about all the new improvements in synthetic floors. If you need more pantry space then read the four-page article entitled, "Hardworking Pantries" for some great ideas.
The June issue has more than 20 pages of wonderful outdoor projects. The "Before & After Home Exteriors," 8-page article in the August issue will blow your mind. I am astonished by how four plain ranch-style home are transformed with cozy porches, dormers, gables and other touches into highly attractive gracious homes. Some of the remodelings won prices in the BH&G Home Improvement Contest. It is easy to see why. You have to check these out if you live in an old ranch-style home that needs updating. Wow, is all that I can say!
In their regularly appearing Family Matters Department, the reader finds consumer high tech information on topics like popular satellite TV packages. There are also articles on education. Recent articles include school safety; summer learning and finding your college graduate that perfect job. Some parenting articles include teaching kids about the world of work, "7 Secrets of Successful Discipline" and FAQ's about child rearing. Other articles in this section revolve around, "What's New, What's Hot, What's Not," in family cars. One interesting article discusses conflicting auto crash test results. Another one discusses the safest cars on the road. Still another covers safety features in SUVs. This department has lots of great information concisely written and geared to families. I find the information invaluable. All car owner families, which is just about most families, should read the articles on cars. Sometimes there is an article on the environment. Every article in this department is timely, informative and entertaining.
The Food Department is a strong department in the magazine. Usually there are six or seven great articles. Beautiful photographs always accompany the articles. You can almost taste the food. Food is always displayed in attractive dishes. This summer's articles include incorporating market fresh vegetables into your cooking, I tried the Mushroom-Stuffed Pork Chop recipe from last month's issue; it took 25 minutes to prepare and 45 minutes to cook. June had 13 simple recipes. My family enjoyed the BBQ Shrimp on Pineapple Planks and the pulled Chicken Sandwiches using a store-bought rotisserie chicken. There is always a great Cooking with Kids article. Other recent food articles include making homemade croutons, cool summer desserts and "12 Reasons to Cook Tonight."
One feature in this department I love is the Prize Tested Recipes Page that readers can clip and save in their Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, or any other cookbook for that matter. The recipes are always excellent and I use at least one of the four recipes each month. I wish they were on stiff coated paper, though, for more durability. All recipes include helpful information on preparation and cooking times. Nutritional information is also provided as are serving sizes. I can't praise the recipes enough.
Good Food, Good Health is another department that always has good articles related to healthy eating habits and other general health topics. Some good recent articles cover fiber, women and heart disease, dog bites, nurse
shortages, immunizations, backaches, "The Top 10 Dieting Myths," Diabetes, "4 Step to Fitness," flossing, hospital food and peppermint to ease stomach upset. The articles are short and interesting. Although I don't buy the magazine for this department, I like the variety of subjects covered. The topics are well-researched and accurate. If you don't subscribe to a Health magazine, then this would be an excellent source for some health information.
The final department is Shopping. Here readers find the monthly Buying Guide, the Directory of Architects and Designers and all the offers found in the issue. At the back of each issue is the Marketplace. Readers will find more ads for items they might be interesting in obtaining. Wallpaper & Blinds ads, China Replacement Services, Custom Table Pads and other such ads appear each month. I have ordered from a couple of these ads and found them helpful.
Each issue costs $2.99 on newsstands. A pre-paid postcard insert advertises 24 issues for $12.97 plus $4 postage & handling. Visit the Website, www.bhg.com for another offer. If you are not a regular reader of Better Homes & Gardens, why not pick up a copy of this high quality magazine and check out all the great articles. I'll just better you'll find at least one idea that will grab your attention.