Getting into the Halloween SPIRIT with a cocktail recipe

I’ll admit, I never really got into Halloween until I had kids. As a kid myself, it was really all about the candy. How soon can we start trick-or-treating. How long can I keep going? 

 I don’t really remember ever caring what my costume was—which is good because if it wasn’t in the family costume box then it wasn’t happening.

But now that I’m an adult, dressing up is fun because it’s fun for our kids ... and I get three bags of trick-or-treat candy, not just one. (Ha!)

We’ve been pirates (with our own parrot).

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The Frozen Family (never mind Spiderman, getting 4 out of 5 onboard is considered a great success).

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And StarWars (the SWAT woman was a character cut out of Episode 7—duh):

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However this year, I’m afraid the family theme is over unless anyone out there can thread together a theme for what my kids want to be: An eyeball, a ninja AND a pirate (not a combo, an actual costume change halfway through trick-or-treating), and a unicorn with a broken leg. 


Yeah, it’s over. 

BUT, that doesn’t squash my holiday spirits. There’s still plenty of fun to be had around Halloween, including this cocktail I found and slightly adapted from Self Proclaimed Foodie. She calls it The Vampire, I called it The Werewolf, everyone is calling it tasty.


Here’s how to make a big batch that serves 24:

The Werewolf Cocktail

·       20 oz Vodka

·       10 oz Amaretto

·       10 oz  Orange Juice (I used “with pulp” because that’s what I had and it added a spooky vibe to the drink)

·       30 oz Club Soda

  •    24 oz Raspberries —Fresh or frozen (I used frozen, about 5 bags)

·       24 Plastic Syringes —I found packs of six for $7 at Party City.



Mix all the cocktail ingredients together, except the raspberries ....and the syringes (of course not, what are you already drunk?)

Thaw the raspberries in the bag. Then blend all the raspberries on super high for about five minutes. It really does look like thick blood! Suck up wth raspberry puree in the syringes and keep chilled on crushed ice for added effect. 

Serve the cocktail over ice and with a raspberry-filled syringe as a cocktail stir stick. 

Note:  I highly recommend you do this with a Vitamixer (one of the best purchases of my life) so you pulverize the seeds. Otherwise, you have to strain the puree to rid the seeds—takes a ton of time and messy. The Self Proclaimed Foodie adds sugar and a boiling step, I skipped both those steps and found just straight up, cold raspberry puree in the syringes worked perfectly. 


The raspberry puree shots are too fun not to share with your kids (IF there are any extras), so here’s some kid-friendly things to pair them with:

Orange Juice


Cereal   (I put some on my Wheat Chex and I think I’m on to something)

Pancakes or Waffles


Ice Cream — Vanilla or Chocolate, yum!

Free (and almost-free) summer movies in KC

This summer, several places are making it easy (on you and your wallet) for your family to enjoy some movies on the big screen. From passes to pools, here is your guide to cheap family-friendly summer movies in KC.

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Watching on the big screen

See some new-ish favorites on the big screen without paying a big price.

B&B Theatres Summer Kids Series (Northland, Lee’s Summit, Overland Park, Shawnee): $3 movies (or just $2 for Backstage Members) Tuesdays through Thursdays (June 6-July 27) at 10am and 12:30pm.

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse Merriam: $1 movies Mondays through Thursdays (June 5-August 10) at 10am and noon. Or buy a 10-movie pass for $5 while supplies last.

Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse Palace on the Plaza: $1 movies Wednesdays (June 7-August 9) at 10am. Or buy a 10-movie pass for $5 while supplies last.


See some real stars

Enjoy a movie under the stars this summer with these outdoor movie events.

Johnson County Libraries: Movies in the Park
Free. June 10, July 8 and August 12. Locations vary. Family-friendly classics. Local concerts start at 8pm, movie starts at dusk.

Moonlight Movie on the Square (Independence)
Free movies every Thursday (June-early August) at 9pm in the Pharaoh Theater parking lot.

Legacy Park Amphitheater (Lee’s Summit)
Free movies the first Thursday of each month in June, July and August. Gates open at 7pm, movies begin around dark (8:45pm). No outside food or beverages but concessions will be available.

WeekEnder (Crown Center)
Free. July 7, 14, 21 & 28, August 4
Enjoy local bands and food trucks starting at 6pm. Movies start about 9pm. No outside alcohol.


Make a splash

Watch a movie with your feet in the water or the sand.

Dive-In Movie: Moana (Fairway)
$3 per person. July 22, 2017.
Bring your own floatie. Plenty of pool furniture available. Free popcorn included. Doors open at 8:30pm, movie begins at dark.

Sand Cinema (Long View Lake Beach)
$5 per car. June 23 and July 21. Gates open at 7:30pm, movies begin around dark (8:45pm). Bring your own blanket or chairs for beach seating. No outside food or beverages but concessions will be available.


Pro Tips:

• Arrive early for best seats, especially if you’re going in a large group

• For outdoor movies, pack blankets, chairs and plenty of pillows

• For evening movies, dress your kiddos in PJs ahead of time so you can easily get them to bed when you get home

• Create your own movie memories for your family and friends by hosting your own backyard movie night.

Garage Sale 101

Summer is here. Which means vacations, pools, grilling and—my favorite—garage sales! Here are some Pro Tips on how to throw a successful garage sale together quickly and painlessly.

See that bouncy horse? No one bought it. I can't even believe it. Who wants it?

See that bouncy horse? No one bought it. I can't even believe it. Who wants it?

Get the word out.

• Post your garage sale for free on

• Pick up signs at The Dollar Store and put bold arrows (we’re talking black Sharpie here, not a pen) on them, clearly directing cars to your house from the main streets.

• Find out if your neighborhood (or a nearby one) is planning on doing a neighborhood-wide sale and piggyback on that traffic.


Price to sell.

• Ok, first: If you want to get the most money out of your stuff, a garage sale is NOT the way to go. Try eBay, CraigsList or Facebook’s Marketplace and connect with buyers who are specifically searching for exactly what you have to sell. Garage sale items need to be priced at you-don’t-need-this-but-it’s-so-cheap-you-kind-of-do-now prices.

• Kid clothes. These can be really hard to part with, but if you want to move them, you’ve gotta price them $1 piece. Yes, even those precious overalls your toddler looked sooooo cute in.

Group smaller items together. 

Instead of individual kitchen tools, rubber band 3-4 together and sell as a set. We had a whole bunch of toy musical instruments and instead of trying to sell them each individually, I put them in one box and sold them as “A Band in a Box.” Some cool (but foolish) mother loved the fun idea as a party activity for her kids and bought it.  

Make it easy.

•  I don’t have the time or patience to individually price all my items, so I grouped 90% of my items by price and had a $1 table, $2 table and $5 table. For bigger items, I made signs and taped right on the item.

•  Use sidewalk chalk to advertise prices instead of stickers.

•  Don’t mess with coins. Round everything up (or down) to the nearest dollar. If anything isn’t worth a dollar, throw it in the FREE box. Getting something for free will usually encourage shoppers to find something to buy, too.



•  Garage sales are prone to theft so be alert and smart.

•  Avoid selling anything small and valuable that you can’t keep an eye on.

•  And keep your sale money on you at all times. Avoid using a purse or cash box that someone can walk away with.

•  Examine large bills. I once had two teenage kids pick up the first cheap thing they saw and try and pass off a counterfeit $100 bill at my garage sale. Fortunately, my eagle-eyed sister rejected it before we lost $95 in change.


Get your kids involved.

We lucked out with great weather during our garage sale so it was a good excuse for our whole family to be outside. My kids learned quickly the advantage of clearing out old stuff in exchange for some cash. They each took a table and offered help (probably too much) and assistance in selecting items. If anything sold from their table, they earned a commission.

My top-selling salesmen working on commission. 

My top-selling salesmen working on commission. 

Get rid of it.

• If someone wants your beloved lamp for $30 instead of $40, just give it to them and be glad to see it getting a new home.

• Saturday around noon is about when all garage sale goers pack it up and go home so don’t plan on many customers after that. Right around the noon mark, start making deals. People will buy more when tempted with a good deal. We had one last car pull up while I was just starting to pack up so I told them to make me a deal on anything. I made another $90 off stuff that was just going to be packed up and carried back into my garage.


Give it to a good cause.

Repeat after me:  Do NOT bring anything back into the house. Immediately box up everything that didn’t sell and donate it to charity.  These organizations upcycle your items for a good cause and offer free pickup:


Sherwood Center

Or, drop off your items at a Goodwill location near you.

Don’t forget to get a receipt so you can claim fair-market value tax deductions for your donation on your next tax return.


Embrace the circle of life. 

Now that you've got room in your closets and a fist full of cash, time to cruise around and hit up other people's garage sales so you can fill your home with some summer I-don't-need-this-but-it's-so-cheap-I-guess-I-want-it-now items. After all, you can always re-sell it all in the fall.  ....But seriously, does anyone want that horse? 

Big Fun with Mini Cherry PIes

Listen, if you're looking for someone's grandmother's award-winning pie recipe, keep looking. There's no lemon zest or almond extract in this one. In fact, there's only TWO ingredients—which means almost zero clean up. Perhaps they should give this pie an award for that. 


Mini Cherry Pies (makes 4)

What you’ll need:

•  1 package of refrigerated pie crust

•  1 large can of cherry pie filling

•  4 ramekins

•  Cookie sheet

•  Cutting boards for work surfaces

•  Pizza cutter


What to do:

• Preheat oven to 375.

• Cut both circles of dough into ¼ pieces, for 8 pieces.  

•  Have your kids roll each piece into a ball.

•  Let the kids smash down each ball and then help them use the rolling pin until the dough is round and flat.

•  Take a rolled piece of dough and place it in the bottom of the ramekin. Pinching the dough around the top edge. Repeat x3.

•  Have the kids scoop the cherry pie filling into each ramekin until it is full.

•  Using the pizza cutter, cut the remaining round and flat pieces into thick strips (about 6).

•  Criss cross the strips of dough over the cherry pie filing in the ramekins. Pinch dough around the sides so all the dough is sticking together.

•  Place all the ramekins on a cookie sheet (the pies may bubble over, so you can thank me later) and bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes on the center rack. If the top crust begins to get too dark, cover pies with tinfoil.

•  Cool about 1 hour before serving (especially to little ones).

Pro Tip:  Make the day before and keep refrigerated. They also taste great cold!



How to host a Gingerbread House Party that's nothing like Martha Stewart's

Last weekend I hosted a Gingerbread House party.

Picture it:  20+ kids. 20+ gingerbread houses arriving in parts and pieces. An unsupervised room full of every kind of candy you can imagine. Bags and jars of icing everywhere you look. A 3-year-old dumping an entire jar of white glittery sugar on his house. (Where was that kid’s mother?! Oh yeah, that was MY kid.)

My 3-year-old, hard at work on his house that just oozes the holiday spirit. 

My 3-year-old, hard at work on his house that just oozes the holiday spirit. 

This was by far the BEST worst idea I’ve had yet. It was crazy, the kids will be on a sugar high for the rest of the week, our Elf on the Shelf was traumatized, but it was so fun! Not only that, but it was probably the easiest party I’ve ever thrown in my life. I was literally walking around my house a good 15 minutes before the party started to see if there was anything else I needed to do. THAT NEVER HAPPENS.

Want to know my secrets on how to throw an easy, stress-free gingerbread house party? Get off Pinterest and follow these rules:

Don’t make the Gingerbread house molds yourself. For a hot minute this was going to be my plan before I did the math on how painful that would be.

Do have every child bring their own gingerbread house kit with them to the party.

Don’t shop for all the candy yourself.

Do make it a candy potluck. I had every parent bring one bag of candy per kid.

Just some of the candy at our party:  M&Ms, mini M&Ms, peppermints, gum drops, Skittles, Starbursts, Hershey Kisses, mini marshmallows, Twizzlers, Lifesavers, bubble gum, Hot Tamales, Mike & Ike’s, pretzels, red hots and jelly beans

Just some of the candy at our party:  M&Ms, mini M&Ms, peppermints, gum drops, Skittles, Starbursts, Hershey Kisses, mini marshmallows, Twizzlers, Lifesavers, bubble gum, Hot Tamales, Mike & Ike’s, pretzels, red hots and jelly beans

Don’t leave the candy selection up to chance. Assortment is key!

Do create a digital sign-up listing a wide variety of candy that doubles as a way to keep track of RSVPs.  

Don’t just invite the kids. (Good GOD, no.)

Do invite the entire family. The more adults on deck to help construct and assist with decorating, the smoother things will go. It also provides the parents a chance to tag team between their kids’ gingerbread houses and a beer.

Do set up lots of tables (including shorter ones to accommodate the little ones) for ample work spaces.

Don’t set up chairs. They take up a lot of space and you can fit more kids around a table without them.

Don’t try to construct your own children’s gingerbread houses once the party starts because you’ll be busy welcoming guests.

Do construct your kids’ houses ahead of time, buy the pre-assembled one from Costco, or cheat like I did with these plastic reusable houses.

Don’t offer drinks in cups. Can you image the number of spills and flooded houses?

Do provide plenty of juice boxes with straws.


Don’t serve food that requires you to be prepping in the kitchen or paying attention to oven timers during the party.

Do serve chili (that’s been simmering since early afternoon), hot dogs (that cook themselves—thank you hot dog roller!) and order some pizza for the kids.

Can you find our Elf who was moved mid-party via oven mitts to a safe zone away from the chaos?

Can you find our Elf who was moved mid-party via oven mitts to a safe zone away from the chaos?

Don’t go crazy with the number of pizzas. I’m a big fan of over ordering, but trust me.

Do consider that all the kids will be stuffed with candy by the time they go for a slice.

Fun? Check! Creative? Check! Clean? No way!

Fun? Check! Creative? Check! Clean? No way!

Don’t worry about the sprinkles, icing and hundreds of pieces of candy on your floor.

Do remember it’s just sugar and it all cleans up quite easily. (Exception: NEVER host this party if you only have carpeted rooms.)

What my floor looked like after the party. Totally worth it!

What my floor looked like after the party. Totally worth it!

I just knew when I was sending out invitations for this party it was either going to be a one-time event or a tradition my family would share with our friends for years to come. Oh yes, this party is definitely a keeper.

"Mom, can we eat our houses when you are almost dead?"  (Ummmmm, still no.)

"Mom, can we eat our houses when you are almost dead?"  (Ummmmm, still no.)

Gingerbread Party Pro Tips

•  Sprees and Starbursts won “Designers’ Candy Choice” at our party.

•  This party is the perfect use for your kids’ leftover Halloween candy.

•  Sugar ice cream cones make great trees for the gingerbread houses.

•  Putting tablecloths on all the tables makes clean up so much easier.

•  There’s no need to unwrap any of the individually wrapped candy. Trust me, no kid needs help in this area.

•  Plan the party close to your trash day. You’ll have a ton of boxes to recycle.

•  Smaller tubs of icing with plastic knives work way better than the more expensive squeezable tubes of icing.

•  Beware of the houses sold at Trader Joe’s which have powered sugar you have to mix to make the icing. (What is this, the year 1800? Ain’t nobody got time for that.)

•  Invite your dear mom so she can help your kids during the party while you concentrate on hosting (or drinking wine, whatever).

A Hands-on Thanksgiving Craft for the Entire Family

I really love fall but I really do not like the end of daylight savings time. Getting home from work and school when it’s already dark is so depressing and really limits our options for evening activities since we’re stuck indoors. This week we played a board game, brought up a box of band instruments (I’ve had smarter ideas) and did a cute little family craft to add to our Thanksgiving decorations.


These handprint turkeys are a quick and easy and reminder that “family” is high on the thankful list.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Construction paper in fall colors (one sheet for each member of your family)




Googly eyes (optional)


Here’s what you do:

1. Have everyone in your family select their favorite color paper

2. Help everyone trace one hand.


3. Help everyone cut out their traced hand.

4. Have the kids order the hands largest to smallest.

5. Glue each hand on top of each other, the largest hand should be on the bottom and the

smallest hand should be on the top

6. Add a gobble chin thing (what are those called) on your turkey and an eye.

7. Just so there’s no guessing down the road, be sure to write the year on the back.

7 things to do with all that Halloween candy. (Besides eat it.)

When I was six, my friend and I were left unsupervised in the next room after we went trick-or-treating and we ate EVERY. SINGLE. PIECE. of our Halloween candy that night. (My mom had four kids, I now have three that I can barely keep track of, so no judgments here.) 

I'm here to tell you that while eating all of that Halloween candy is definitely an option, I don't recommend it. Instead, set a limit with your kids, decide how much to keep, let them pick out their favorites and then get rid of the leftovers in one of these ways that I promise will make you feel so much better than I did that fateful night of ‘82:

Big brother and big sister trying to "help" the little man decide what to do with all his candy. 

Big brother and big sister trying to "help" the little man decide what to do with all his candy. 

Switch it.

Get a Switch Witch (or create your own) and convince your kids to leave their candy for the witch to take while they sleep in exchange for a surprise gift when they wake up—like an electric toothbrush! (Is that mean?)


Bake with it.

From Candy Corn Biscotti  to Candy Bar Croissants, there are all kinds of recipes out there featuring leftover Halloween candy as the main ingredient. Personally, I’m adding Twix & Banana Muffins to my next brunch menu.


Bank it.

Cha-ching! There’s two money-making options here:

1.     Your kids can earn $1/lb. (up to $5) for turning in their candy at Prairie Pediatric Dentistry (15230 W. 87th Street Parkway, Lenexa, KS 66219) to support Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages to our troops. All participants will enter to win a $50 Power Play gift card. You gotta hurry on this deal because it’s only good through Nov. 2, 7:30am-4:30pm. For more info, call 913-586-0770.

2.     The Learning Tree (Corinth Square and Park Place locations) is also accepting candy from now through Nov. 5  to send to our troops. They’ll give you a $5 coupon to spend in store if you bring them one pound or more of your candy.


Gift it.

Have a niece or nephew with a birthday coming up? Buy them a piñata and fill it with all your leftover candy. You’ll be the hit of their party. Or tape candy all over the next few birthday presents you give to up the fun factor for the birthday boy or girl.


Donate it.

Bag your candy in smaller Ziplock bags and find a food pantry, Ronald McDonald House, homeless shelter and/or and nursing home near you to drop them off. Make it extra meaningful and have your children create cards or write letters to stick inside the bags with the candy.


Experiment with it.

Science Experiments with candy? If someone had introduced me to this as a child I just might have become a chemist. There’s still hope for your kids. Check out these fun experiments here, here and here.


Save it.

The holidays are just around the corner so save some of the candy to use in your holiday countdown, stockings, St. Nick shoes, etc. All this leftover candy is also a great excuse to throw a Gingerbread house-building party. Actually, that sounds like a lot of work and unnecessary stress around the holidays, so scratch that idea. Eating all the candy now would be less painful.


Art, therapy.

I was really excited when Paint Glaze & Fire, a paint-your-own-pottery store, invited me out for their Halloween painting event. Just one little problem. Due to space, there was only room for me to bring one of my kids. Gulp. What to do, what to do.

Should I take our first grader who would definitely show off the most skill?

Should I pick our 4-year-old who does so much art every day at preschool it barely fits in his take-home cubbie?

Or should I take our little guy, age 3, who is so excited about Halloween already that he just might burst?

I knew they would all love it so the decision wasn’t easy but I chose … drumroll …our 4-year-old, Captain. I wanted to feed his new art obsession and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with our middle man. (Hear that, future Captain? Despite being the middle kid, you did get some extra attention growing up at least once. Be sure to tell your therapist that.)

Captain was so excited. He only “accidentally” told his siblings where he was going three times right before we left AND went back into the house twice to tell everyone goodbye.

Captain and I had a great time, the atmosphere was fun (art on the ceiling) and the staff at Paint Glaze & Fire was very friendly and helpful. They had a whole table of full of different Halloween ceramics to paint, the perfect size (and price!) for younger kids. Witches, spiders, ghosts and more. After much thoughtful consideration, Captain chose a Frankenstein to paint. I thought for sure he’d go for the pumpkin, but like I said, we were overdue for some get-to-know-you time.

Next, it was an artist’s dream to see paint from nearly floor to ceiling in any color you can imagine. Thankfully, there was a rule of only using three at a time so that made it easier to manage my little Picasso’s masterpiece. We took lots and lots and lots and lots of trips to and from the paint wall and back to our table. You’d think he used every single color but there was such a big selection, he didn’t even come close.


Another favorite thing for Captain to do was picking out paint brushes. Big, little, narrow, fat, medium …. he was able to experiment with all of them. If he had decided to paint a plate or something with a larger surface area, well, we’d still be there, but he could have also dug through the many baskets of stencils and stamps they had to give it some extra flair.


So at this point our Frankenstein was 6 different colors of green, 4 blues, back, white, red and yellow BUT, as Captain pointed out, our pal Frank needed some polka dots on his shirt. So we got special paint that you squeeze out of a glue-like bottle for that part.

While we waiting for Frank to dry, we walked around and checked out pieces other kids were working on. It was fun to see how creative and different everyone’s were. And the really strange thing? For a place that was full of kids, it was actually pretty quiet. There were plenty of kids, but they were all really concentrating on their masterpieces. Note to self: Might be a great calming activity for our extra-energetic Daisy troop.

Captain and I both had a great time, trying something new, flexing our creative muscle and spending some quality time together. Now I not only know why Frankenstein is Captain’s favorite Halloween creature, I also know what he and his friend played at recess that day, that he really likes the thought of his siblings in bed when he’s still up, and that he’s got an eye for blending greens together.

It was a good reminder to me that special time with my kids doesn’t need to be over-the-top, overthought, or so expensive that I’m not doing it as much as I should. Sometimes it can be as easy as sneaking out of the house and spending an hour or so painting together. It’s just a bonus that this activity comes with memento so you’ll both remember the fun times. (Or, to be used as physical proof of love and attention during a therapy session later on in life.)

Paint Glaze & Fire Ceramics and Coffee House is located at 12683 Metcalf Avenue in Overland Park, Kansas. For hours or information, call 913-661-CLAY. 

Trick or Treat? 20 ideas that aren’t candy.

For our first Halloween in the suburbs, we were the young (yes), cool (no), hip (no) couple without kids but that didn’t stop me from wanting to be part of the Halloween neighborhood fun. I wanted to be a hit with the trick-or-treaters so instead of candy, I thought it would be fun to hand out Play-Doh tubs instead.

When I was buying the Play-Doh I thought it was the best idea ever but as Halloween night got closer and closer, I really started to sweat my decision to buck the system with a non-candy treat. Were we going to be THAT house? The most disappointing house on the block? Would the neighborhood kids come back to egg our house later that night because we deprived them of their annual right to a no-restrictions sugar fix?

It turned out that the Play-Doh was a hit (whew) and all our trick-or-treaters loved it. Not because they are huge Play-Doh fans but simply because it was unique. So, if you want to stand out as the house that does something different this year or simply don’t trust yourself with all that candy in your house, I’ve got some fun and affordable options for you:


I’m telling you, the kids loved them. And you won’t mind having some of these leftover because they're a great size throw in your purse to keep on hand when you need to entertain your kids outside of the house. 80 mini tubs for $33 on Amazon. 

Glow Necklaces

Fun and functional! You can get these 5 for $1 at The Dollar Store. Snap them ahead of time for two reasons: 1) So your trick-or-treaters can wear them immediately that night. 2) The glowing sticks will look really cool in your treat bowl. 

Flashing Rings

 Again, safety first. And again, bowl appeal. I love these, kids love these. Who doesn’t want to add a little flash to their costume? 96 for less than $40 on Amazon. 

Mustache Whistles

Ok, if you're not into the glow stuff, then this is the next best thing. If the cars can’t see them coming, at least they’ll be able to hear them coming. 48 for less than $8. 

Halloween Pencils

Lightweight, cheap and useful. Next month all that candy will be just a distant memory for the kids, but that pencil will keep the spirit of Halloween alive as you fight them on their math homework. 8 for a buck at Target.

Spider Rings

Super cheap. The rings, not you. But while we’re on the topic, you might want to give a few out to everyone. 144 for just over five bucks on Amazon. Seriously, better give ‘em all a handful. 

Vampire fangs

What’s more Halloween than vampire teeth? Answer: Glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth. I found some! If the kids don’t like these then they are probably too old to be trick-or-treating anyway, so you just did society a favor by making them realize that. 72 for under $7 on Amazon. 

Silly Straws

My kids love these. Even if they just last for one meal before getting thrown out, they still lasted longer than a 3 Musketeers. (Well, maybe not longer than a 3 Musketeers—but definitely longer than a KitKat.) 18 for $8 on Amazon.

Glow-in-the-dark sticky eyeballs

Sticky what? Huh? Just go with it. I will go ahead and guarantee you right now that you’ll be the only house on the block passing these out on Halloween night. 48 for about $8 on Amazon. 

Slap Bracelets

Dress up like a witch and “slap” them on the trick-or-treaters to give them a harmless scare or have them rolled up and ready to grab. 50 for $12 on Amazon.

McDonalds Treats

For just a buck, you can get a Halloween booklet at participating McDonalds with 12 coupons for free items at McD’s including an ice cream cone, apple slices, apple juice or milk, and hamburger. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Coupons are good through Dec. 31, 2016. 

Wendy’s Frostys

Also for a dollar, you can pick up a Wendy’s Halloween coupon book that has five coupons, each good for a free Jr. Frosty. Not quite as good a deal as the 12/$1 McD’s book, but 85 cents of every booklet Wendy’s sells benefits the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoptions, so it’s worth spending a little more. Coupons are good until Feb 1, 2017.


And the Best House on the Block award goes to ….

If you don’t get many trick-or-treaters you might be able to afford to step up your treat game. I grew up on a cul-de-sac without a lot of foot traffic on Halloween. I still talk about how one of our neighbors handed out those huge 1-lb Hershey bars on a silver platter to all of us neighborhood kids. One of the highlights of my childhood. In my eyes, that guy is a legend.

Here are some ideas that will run you about a dollar per kid. A small price to pay for going down in history as the “coolest neighbors ever.” (At least according to everyone age 10 and under.)

Hot Wheels


Nail Polish (hot tip:  Dollar store)

LED Party Wand

Glow-in-the-dark Slime

Puffy Toss Balls

Play Foam

Glittery Silly Putty (Kids, you’re welcome. Parents, so sorry.)


Please, please let's not go crazy with this non-candy thing. I'm not trying to start a trend. It’s fun if there’s one, maybe two houses in each neighborhood doing something different. But if there’s not still a very heavy ratio of Snickers, Twix and Reese’s in the mix on Halloween night, then I’m afraid everyone’s houses will get egged. By me. 

Movie Review: Keeping Up With the Joneses

I was looking forward to the sneak peek of Keeping Up With the Joneses because I’m a fan of Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and know Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) can bring the laughs. I expected them to be a dynamic duo in this action comedy about a mainstream suburban couple (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) who get their cul-de-sac world rocked when their new seemingly perfect neighbors (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) turn out to be secret agents.

The suburban couple quickly goes from jealous to suspicious of their Hollywood-like neighbors. And when some snooping reveals their new neighbors are definitely not what they seem, Mr. and Mrs. Suburban find themselves along for the ride (literally) on a secret mission whether they like it or not.

So here’s the good news, Jon Hamm is still easy on the eyes (as is Gal Gadot, if we’re being totally honest) and there were a couple laugh-out-loud moments in the film. The bad news? That’s the end of the good news.

It just wasn’t funny, but not for a lack of trying. Seemed like every other line was trying to grab a laugh but fell short. The comedy and action pick up quite a bit about halfway through the film but nowhere near enough to save it.

I give it a D for comedy and a C for action. If you’re heading to the movies this weekend, skip this one and keep looking. 

Keeping Up With the Joneses opens today, October 21. It’s rated PG-13 and runs 101 minutes.



Fall Craft: Ghost(boredom)Busters!

Sing it with me: Well, your husband's gone. And you're all alone (with the kids). Who ya gonna call? Ghost(boredom)Busters Craft!   

Ok, messing with those lyrics was a terrible idea. Apologies. 

The POINT is, I have a fall craft for you and your kids. And it's easy. E-Z. I needed a simple Halloween craft our 1st-grade Daisy troop could manage mostly on their own and this ghost craft fit the bill. It takes about 15 minutes per ghost and there’s no scary clean up. (I'm looking at you, glitter.)

Does your neighborhood play the "You've been boo-ed" game? These ghosts are perfect for that game. Just hang these on neighbors' doors with a small bag of candy and a "You've been boo-ed" note telling them it's their turn to surprise or "boo" someone else with their own bag of treats.

What you’ll need:

Half sheets of cardstock


Cotton balls


Googly eyes

Pipecleaners or yarn


Here’s how to make your ghost:

1.      Cut the cardstock into a ghost shape.  Confession:  My original plan was to pre-cut the cardstock into ghost shapes but I ran out of time. I’m so glad I never got around to it because all the different shapes helped make each ghost fun and unique. Our group of first graders had no problem cutting the paper themselves. (Note to self: Perhaps I can stop cutting up grapes for my kids now, too.) 

2.     Glue cotton balls on the ghost shape. I purposely didn’t give a lot of direction on this step. Some girls used a lot of cotton balls, some just used the cotton balls to outline their shape, some tore the cotton balls and gave their ghost a thinner layer of cotton balls. When it comes to art, there are no right or wrong ways to do things.

3.     Glue on the googly eyes. Offer an assortment and let the girls have fun mixing and matching the different shapes and colors of the eyes.

4.     Create a hanging hook.  Tape a pipe cleaner or yarn loop on the back so the ghost can hang.


The art of conversation.  After the ghosts are made, get your kids to do a little creative thinking and ask them some questions like:

What’s your ghost’s full name? 

Is your ghost friendly, mean or scary? Why?

How old is your ghost?

What’s your ghost’s favorite thing to eat?

What’s your ghost favorite thing to do on Halloween?


For the overachievers:   Before you give you ghosts away, hand out small awards to “The Scariest Ghost,” “The Silliest Ghost,” “The Craziest Ghost,” etc. Or better yet, let the kids vote.


Winner, winner, burrito dinner!

Free food alert! Chipotle is promoting its (very) short animated film “A Love Story” with a real ingredients matching game. The cute film is a great conversation starter with kiddos about real food vs. processed, the game is easy (watch out for the additives that will slow you down) and the prize is great—BOGO Chipotle. Dinner is served. 

While supplies last, so get moving to