Planning for the Unexpected: Q&A with Abby Schneiderman, Co-Founder of Everplans

April 23, 2014

Everplans Image

If there is one thing that almost all parents and parents-to-be have in common is that they are always planning and preparing for the next step – whether it’s trying to get pregnant, preparing for the baby & birth, planning that first birthday party, or trying for number 2. But what happens when the unexpected happens?

That’s exactly the question that Abby Schneiderman, Co-Founder of Everplans.com, tried to answer when she she realized that there were many online resources dedicated to the happy events in our lives, such as weddings and pregnancies, but very few dedicated to the unhappy, unexpected events. And so Everplans was formed, the most comprehensive end-to-end resource dedicated to making it easier to plan ahead for your family so they’re taken care of when something unexpected happens, such as sickness or death. Everplans functions as a step-by-step guide for everything from financial and medical planning to spiritual and grief counseling.

NN: Tell us the Everplans story. What was the inspiration behind Company?

AS: I was getting married and using all of the great sites out there (theknot.com, weddingchannel.com) to help me plan. I had been engaged for over two years and then directly after the wedding I went right into planning for the birth of my first child. It dawned on me that there were so many amazing resources for people planning *happy* life events like weddings and babies and I wondered what was out there for people who were dealing with the not-so-happy events, like aging and death. My Co-Founder Adam and I started researching and it seemed liked there was a huge void; we couldn’t find a single company who was trying to offer resources and guidance in a way that seemed created for people like us. We’re both parents of young kids and also have parents in their 60′s and 70′s. We thought: What would happen if we needed help one day? Where would we turn? So we built Everplans.

NN: What is the background of you and your co-founder?

AS: Adam and I are both repeat entrepreneurs. Adam was on the founding team of a company called SixDegrees.com (which was the first social network), and then went on to co-found a company called Fotolog.com — which is the biggest site you’ve never heard of. They were sort of like a precursor to Instagram; people could upload a photo a day. In 2007 they had over 30 million members and were the 15th most trafficked site in the world. I, too, am a tech entrepreneur. Prior to Everplans I co-founded one of the first music social networks which was called Haystack and then went on to work for a tech incubator where I helped other people take their ideas and build them into businesses. But I was always itching to do my next thing. When I met Adam I knew I wanted to build something with him. We felt like we could take our expertise in building big consumer sites and put it towards an area that felt so drastically left behind.

NN: Many find it difficult to plan for the unexpected, what first steps do you recommend so that parents and parents-to-be can ease into planning for future?

AS: It seems overwhelming at first, but when you take a step back and look at the landscape there are only a few things of vital importance.

1. First and foremost, new parents need to name a guardian for their kids, which means doing a Will. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it needs to be official because if something happens to you and you don’t pick a person to care for your kids then the courts will be making the choice for you. As a mom, the thought of someone other than my husband or myself deciding who raises our daughter is infinitely more terrifying than creating a basic Will.

2. Make sure your family is financially taken care of in case something happens. This can be taken care of with Life Insurance. There are two main types of Life Insurance: Term and Permanent. Term covers you over a set amount of time and can be somewhat affordable depending on your age, health and habits. Perm (also known as Whole Life or Universal), never expires but can be a lot more expensive. Many people think they’re covered because they have a policy through their job. But the reality is, your company policy is usually not robust enough.

So even though there are other things you can do to plan ahead, just getting a Will and Life Insurance taken care of will be hugely valuable to your family.

Our goal is to take the mystery and confusion out of this planning, and focus on why you plan in the first place–your family and loved ones–so you actually want to do it.

NN: What type of services and information can people find on Everplans?

AS: In addition to the hundreds of articles, checklists, and guides that we have on everything from how to write a will, to what to wear to a funeral, we offer a planning tool  that helps people get their affairs in order. We take you through an assessment, find out what planning you’ve done, and then give you and checklist and personalized recommendations on what you should tackle first. We then allow you to store your documents and plans in your “Everplan”, and share your plan with the people in your life you want to have access (we call those people your “deputies”).

You have complete control over what you share and with whom, so you don’t have to worry about anyone seeing thing you don’t want them to see.

NN: What role has technology played in helping to achieve the Everplans mission?

AS: Everplans relies on a number of things that wouldn’t be possible without the use of technology: the ability for us to create a step-by-step personalized platform custom to each individual, the ability for us to allow them to securely store their information and scanned documents in their Everplan (which is in the cloud), the ability to share these electronic plans with different people, and the ability for us to put all of it in one place. The fact that we can create a simpler, more intuitive way for people to get this planning done is critical, we think, in getting more people the ability to get over the hurdle and DO this planning! And of course, it’s all online, so you can do all of it in the comfort of your own home if you choose to do so.

NN: What advice do you have for people that used Everplans and are ready to take the next step & find legal and medical consultation? Is there a directory or resources you recommend?  

AS: The first step is to take our quick assessment and get an overview of what you need to get done. For people who need to get a Will created, and want to do it online, we offer a link to a company called RapidDocs that is offering Everplans customers free wills and legal documents for our launch. But for people who have potentially complicated estates, we recommend you speak with an actual attorney to draft your will or set up trusts. And you should find your estate attorney the same way you’d find a good babysitter:  ask your friends, family and other people you trust for recommendations.

To document your healthcare wishes, we have resources for you inside the Everplan where you can create your Advance Directive, which includes your Living Will and naming a Health Care Proxy. These documents are free and available on our site along with state-by-state instructions on what you need to do to make them official. We just want to make sure you remember to add them back into your Everplan after you’ve signed them so that you store them and share them properly.

NN: How did you come up with the name Everplans? What is an Everplan?

AS: It was really hard! Ultimately we picked a name that felt like it conveyed that we were a company that would help you do this kind of planning. And we thought it wasn’t super cheesy like the rest of the names we were considering. :)

Abby Schneiderman is a repeat entrepreneur who loves finding ways to use technology to make people’s lives better. Prior to co-founding Everplans, Abby was a Principal at Tipping Point Partners, a NYC start-up incubator, where she was part of the team that launched several businesses, including AppOrchard, an iOS consultancy for the enterprise, and Cookstr, a recipe-driven nutritional technology company. In 2004, Abby co-founded Haystack Media, one of the first music social networks.

Happy Earth Day! Nine Naturals’ Favorite Earth-Friendly Tips

April 22, 2014

Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! As an all-natural, 100% plant based company, Nine Naturals not only loves moms & moms-to-be, but also Mother Earth. At Nine Naturals, we know that the products you use on your skin not only impact your health and well being, but also impacts the Earth and the environment around you. That is why our products are eco-friendly and free from artificial chemicals that could potentially harm the environment.

With Earth Day here, we wanted to share with you some of our favorite Earth friendly tips from our Nine Naturals Team!

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.19.43 AMGrace (CEO): Use products that are good for you and the environment!  When you use products like Nine Naturals that are 100% plant based and formulated without artificial chemicals, you are not only protecting yourself from harmful chemicals but also ensuring that these chemicals don’t enter the environment. Next time you use a product, think of how chemicals from your shampoo or bodywash re-enter the ecosystem once you flush them down the drain. For instance, chemicals commonly found in personal care products have been found back in drinking water and nanoparticles from personal care products have been found in fish. Use products that are safe for the environment, like Nine Naturals, Dapple, Seventh Generation.

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 10.21.21 AMAmanda (COO): Just say no to plastic bags! They fill up landfills, damage animal ecosystems, expose our households and food to toxic chemicals, persist in the environment forever and, when the wind is blowing in NYC, blow back and forth past my window on 6th avenue (think Forrest Gump’s feather but with a dark twist). I keep a stock of reusable bags to cover any shopping trip. And I always keep a compact bag in my purse.

 

 

 

45790_154891744523973_4641430_nValentina (Web Developer): My best earth day tip would be to GO PAPERLESS. I’ve switched to electronic banking, all my utilities are handled online, and even my magazine subscriptions are now purely online and paperless. It’s good for the environment and super convenient. You can also reduce your paper waste

 

 

 

Hetal (Marketing Director): If you can Walk, Walk, Walk! I’m a bit of a fitness nut and luckily live in New York, where I can walk everywhere. Not only is it good for my health and a great calorie burner, but it also brightens up my day to walk in our neighborhood in Tribeca (where the Nine Naturals offices are located) and get coffee at a local cart vendor, or go for a run in central park.  Even if you don’t live in New York, walking is a great way to run errands without using fuel or emitting chemicals into the environment.

 

 

-claire1Claire (Marketing Associate): Ditch synthetic fragrances and breathe in the good stuff! I love immersing my environment in a variety of scents but scented products like candles and sprays often contain toxic chemicals, like phthalates that are a big no-no in my house. A cheap and easy tip to make your home smell wonderful is to boil a large pot of water and add in your favorite essential oil blends. My favorite combo is Lemonpeel essential oil, Lime essential Oil, Peppermint Oil.

 

 

Happy Earth Day! What are some of your favorite earth-friendly tips?

Earth Day Sale! Enjoy 15% off Sitewide

Nine Naturals Earth Day Sale

Nine Naturals + Preg Prep Make That Baby Series: Get Time On Your Side To Get Pregnant Faster

PregPrep Ovulation Chart

Article & Photo is courtesy of PregPrep.

Before even becoming pregnant, many women start taking steps to prepare their bodies for pregnancy.  That is why Nine Naturals is excited to partner with PregPrep in the Make That Baby Series to help bring you helpful tips and information for preparing for pregnancy.

If you are ready to conceive and you want it to happen sooner rather than later the magic word is: TIMING.

If you don’t time your baby making to happen during the short window of opportunity each month, conception is impossible. That fertile window occurs on the five days leading up to and including the day of ovulation. The reason this window is wider than just the day of ovulation (when the egg is released from the ovary) is that unlike the egg, which only lives for 24 hours, the sperm can live for several days in the reproductive tract. But if you miss that period of time then you’ve missed your golden opportunity – until the next month, that is.

Some people handle the issue of timing by having sex every other day throughout their entire cycle when they are trying to conceive. But this can be exhausting and arduous for some couples. Those who opt to hone in on their fertile days and time sex to occur when they have the best odds may have a better shot. Here are a few ways women use to determine their ovulation date and fertile window.

Calculate the Date:

One of the easiest methods for pinpointing ovulation can be done with some simple math. First figure out the length of your cycle. For most women this is between 28-30 days. But some women have shorter or longer cycles. Once you have the length down, subtract 14 to determine your ovulation day. For example if your cycle is 29 days long, your ovulation day would be on day 15. (29-14) Count backwards an additional 5 days to determine the first day of your fertile window. (Days 10-15) Have sex at least once daily during this period for the best odds of conception.

Do a Temp Check:

It’s not for everyone, but some women have great success with charting their basal body temperature to determine when they ovulate. BBT method is based on the science of the body temperature increase that has been proven to occur right before the release of the egg. (Basal body temperature rises about half a degree.) It’s not the best method for timing sexual intercourse immediately, as it leaves little time left to conceive after you have figured out ovulation is occurring. But it does help pinpoint the date of ovulation in women with a regular cycle if you chart it for a few months, and can be used for future baby making scheduling. It does require the use of a special thermometer that is inexpensive and available in most drugstores.

Check In With Your CM

Cervical mucus may sound a bit unappealing, but changes in this important bodily fluid can help a woman determine ovulation, as well as enhance the success of conception. Some call it the “egg white” test, but when you notice your cervical discharge becoming stretchy and more abundant (like raw egg white), that’s a sign that ovulation is near.

Predict With A Kit

Most women have regular cycles, but some women don’t. For those with a more unusual rhythm, an over-the-counter ovulation predictor kit can be a great help. The kits can be found in family planning section of drugstores. Most of them use your morning urine to detect a surge in the lutenizing hormone that occurs just before ovulation. Less commonly found kits use saliva or sweat to pinpoint the date.

Whatever method you use, be sure to take the time to get your timing right, and you’ll be well on your way to increasing your odds for conception success.

As you prepare yourself for pregnancy, Nine Naturals knows that you are thinking about everything that you put in and on your body.  Nine Naturals is excited to offer the Nine Naturals + PregPrep Bundles, featuring Nine Naturals products of your choosing with the PregPrep Make that Baby Kit! Detoxify your beauty routine with luxurious all natural & sulfate-free products and get key nutritional support to bolster fertility and promote ideal reproductive health with physician-formulated natural supplements in the PregPrep Make That Baby Kit.

Cravings Made Healthy: Mac & Cheese

April 21, 2014

healthy mac cheese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article & Photo Courtesy of Well Rounded NY.

Janie’s Kitchen tweaks a few ingredients to create a creamy, gooey mac-and-cheese without a Lipitor chaser.

I am the mac-and-cheese fanatic. If it’s on the menu, I always order it. If it’s not and I think its an omission, I’ll request it. I might not always finish it, but will always indulge my inner child when a fix is available. Most of us crave mac-and-cheese but don’t eat as much as we’d like due to the high fat content. The béchamel sauce, which serves as the base for real macaroni and cheese, is one of the three mother sauces of French cuisine. Also referred to as a roux, it is comprised of butter and flour, which is then cooked in whole milk (note: we haven’t even talked about the cheese yet!). We all know that butter is high in fat, and not ideal for you in large concentrations to begin with, and flour (except the whole wheat kind) is likewise not nutritionally ideal. Adding this combination an already decadent treat is pushing it, especially if you’re pregnant. So how do we make healthy macaroni and cheese and still have it taste naughty and delicious?

My solution was substituting a secret ingredient that will change your views on mac-and-cheese forever: cottage cheese. Yes, you read it correctly – cottage cheese. Low-fat cottage cheese is your saving grace, especially when pregnant. Women need to consume 75 to 100 grams of protein per day when pregnant to properly care for growing mama and baby. One serving of low fat cottage cheese has 25 grams of protein, and nearly half of the four servings of calcium recommended daily.

Seriously, one 16-oz container of low fat cottage cheese puréed in a Cuisinart until creamy will provide a delicious béchamel substitute. The mac-and-cheese recipe below is my go-to anytime I have a craving. When complete, it serves four people the way mac was meant to be enjoyed — in big spoonfuls — or seven people on a diet. One serving of my mac-and-cheese has 42 of the 75-100g of protein and 100 percent of the 1200mg of the daily calcium recommended for expecting mothers. If you use whole wheat pasta, this recipe will also provide almost 100 percent of the whole grains needed daily. Talk about a gold medal winning mac-and-cheese!

Recipe courtesy of Janie’s Kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16oz.) Container of Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Grated Extra Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Grated Reggiano Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of Black Pepper
  • 1 Package of Whole Wheat Pasta
  • 1 Tablespoon of Salt (for the pasta water)

Directions:
1. Place cottage cheese in a blender or mixer and pulse until the curds turn creamy.
2. Grate the cheeses and in batches add to the cottage cheese mixture.
3. Add apple cider vinegar and black pepper.
4. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling add salt and follow the pasta instructions on the package.
5. Before draining the pasta save 1 cup of the starchy pasta water.
6. Drain pasta and place back in the large pot.
7. Add ½ cup of the pasta water back into the pasta and 1 large scoop of the cheese mixture and stir. Add another scoop of the cheese mixture and more pasta water if needed. The starchy water allows the pasta and cheese to melt together to create creaminess without butter or milk.
8. Stir in the last cheese mixture and place pasta in a serving bowl.
9. Optional: Add breadcrumbs on top of pasta and place in the oven on broil until the crumbs turn golden brown.
10. Serve warm.

This article is by Janie Box courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.