Halloween Safety: 13 Tips for Trick-or-Treating

Look out behind you: Here comes Halloween…that magical holiday when kids’ imaginations soar and anything seems possible!

But Halloween has a spooky side, too. From carving pumpkins to skipping around after dark, Halloween offers its own unique hazards. For example, did you know that kids are four times more likely to be struck by a car on Halloween? That’s what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found after studying more than 20 years of statistics from the National Highway Safety Commission.¹ Now, that’s truly scary!

So, as you prepare for the Big Night, and then escort your little trick-or-treater on his rounds, practice good safety habits, including these 13 tips.

1. Always stay on the sidewalk, if there is one. No sidewalk? Stick close to the curb, facing oncoming traffic.

2. Never choose the shortest route over the safest one. Emphasize the importance of crossing only at corners. Crossing mid-block increases your risk of an accident.

3. Remind kids to look both ways (left-right-left) before crossing the street, and don’t assume that motorists will yield to you.

4. Limit your territory to familiar streets and neighbors. Make it clear if certain areas or houses are off-limits. There’s advantages to trick-or-treating with a group: there’s safety in numbers, and it’s more fun!

5. Don’t wait until Halloween to layout the trick-or-treating ground rules; kids will be too excited to pay close attention. Instead, start reviewing your safety rules several weeks in advance.

6. Halloween is a great time to remind kids about stranger danger! Teach your child to be polite but cautious around neighbors they haven’t met, and to never, ever enter a stranger’s home or car.

7. Beware of black cats…and other nocturnal critters. Halloween, with its constantly ringing doorbells and throngs of people, can make even calm pets nervous. Advise your child to steer clear of pets she doesn’t know, and consider removing your own pet from all the action.

8. This one is never popular…but don’t let kids sample their treats until you inspect them. To lessen the disappointment, serve up a fun, Halloween-themed meal first. How about a Worm Sandwich (hot dogs cut into squiggly strips, curled up on a bun)? Or Spaghetti and Eyeballs (with strategically-placed olives embedded into the meatballs)?

9. Although food tampering is rare, inspect your child’s candy closely. Discard those with loose wrappings and homemade treats (unless you personally know the baker). Remove choking hazards and age-inappropriate goodies.

10. Set rules regarding candy consumption, starting on Halloween night. It’s no coincidence that physicians see a rise in upset stomachs after Halloween!

11. Spook-proof your yard for visiting trick-or-treaters. Clear the walkway of wet leaves and other obstacles; turn on all the lights. If your decorations require extension cords, get them out of the way.

12. As far as Jack o’ Lanterns go, never let young children near carving tools. Non-toxic paint, stickers, and push-in picks are safe decorating alternatives. Or let your child draw the face, while you do the carving. Instead of candles, illuminate your pumpkin with a safe, battery-operated alternative.

13. Falls are the leading cause of accidental injuries on Halloween, according to the National Safety Council. So shorten that hem, leave the high heels home, and safety-proof that costume. And then have a BOO-tiful Halloween!


*Article courtesy of OneStepAhead.*

Butternut Chilijack


2 butternut squashes, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 red onions, diced
¼ cup sliced jalapeño chilies (from a can or jar)
1 tbsp mild chili powder
¼ tsp cayenne (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tomatoes, diced, or 1 cup drained, canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups frozen kernels, thawed
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
A handful of fresh cilantro leaves, torn in pieces


  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Combine the squash, onions, and chilies in a roasting pan and season with the chili powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
  • Drizzle the grapeseed oil over and toss well.
  • Roast until just tender but still with some texture, 25-30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and tip into a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, corn, Monterey Jack cheese, and cilantro. Mix gently until the cheese begins to melt. Serve warm.


*Recipe courtesy of Charlie Ayers, chef and owner of Calafia Café, Palo Alto, CA.*

Image: Boaz Yiftach / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Give the imaginative, snuggly and entertaining gift that gives back – IKEA Soft Toys! From November 1st through December 24th, approximately $1.35 from every IKEA Soft Toy purchased will be given to Save the Children and UNICEF, so that children in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia can have access to quality education. Since its inception in 2003, the IKEA Soft Toys for Education campaign has assisted more than 8 million children in almost 40 countries around the globe! How? Simply purchase one or more of their Soft Toys, including huggable stuffed animals, puppets and books. The Soft Toys can be found in IKEA stores as well as online, and it will be very tempting for you not to purchase more than one!

With oh-so-soft oversized carrots and broccoli heads to play with and cuddle, or a whole puppet circus to create amusing puppet shows for the entire family, this is definitely one gift you can feel good about giving! Plus – all of the IKEA Soft Toys are affordable, ranging in price from $0.49 – $19.99, so they won’t break your bank either!

Mom’s” daughter just adores the gigantic head of broccoli! It is so large that it can actually be used as a soft pillow if needed, and it definitely makes for an interesting conversation when you see such a humongous broccoli on the floor or bed!

To learn more about the IKEA Soft Toys for Education Campaign, to locate an IKEA store near you, or to order online, visit www.ikea.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

Autumn Maintenance For Your Green Grass

Green eco-friendly gardening is a great way to give back to the planet and keep your family healthy in the process. Traditional lawns are environmentally taxing and have an excessive upkeep process. With winter fast approaching it is important to prepare your lawn now so it will be beautiful for the spring. So why not invest in a “green” lawn and garden that can successfully weather all the seasons.

Making Your Lawn Eco-Friendly

One of the basic premises for all green living is that you are using things in a sustainable way. By using grasses and shrubbery that are native to your climate, you will already be a step ahead in building a successful garden. That being said, you will want to select a grass seed that is inclined to thrive in your area. After you’ve chosen the seed it is important to see that your soil is ready for planting.

The key to creating an organic lawn is to be sure that the soil is bio diverse. This means that it must contain an optimum mixture of live organisms as well as the physical soil itself. Basically it must have bugs such as earthworms and other microorganisms that by their nature keep the soil moving and evolving. This will provide a healthy, rich environment in which your grass can flourish.

Once your lawn is 1 to 2 inches high you will want to mow it for the first time. Keep your mower set to the highest setting so you can leave the grass blades as long as possible. This will result in your grass getting the nutrients that it needs. Grass clippings are a great food source so get into the habit of leaving about 1/3 of them on the grass so it will further break down into the soil. As for watering, in order to be more eco-friendly it is important to water less frequently but when you do, water deeply. Drip hoses are ideal for this method. Always water in the early morning when the grass will retain the most moisture.

Autumn Maintenance

So now you have your awesome green and eco-friendly lawn. But what is the best way to prepare for the onslaught of winter? In autumn, the warm soil, coupled with the cool nights is the ideal condition for seed germination. Reseed your lawn with a native mix ideal for colder weather—ask your local nursery for the proper blend.

After seeding, it is important to tap the seed down with a rake to ensure a good seed-to-soil ratio. Then top with a light layer of paper mulch in order to keep in the moisture. You must keep the soil from getting dry until the seeds have sprouted. The fall is also an ideal time to fertilize—be sure to use an organic product like Garret’s Juice, it will help your lawn grow and is an environmentally responsible option. Your lawn will go dormant after the first few weeks of winter so the key to keeping your lawn healthy through this season is to continue to water every 2-3 weeks. This will give your lawn a solid basis to “spring back” when the weather gets warm again.

Green lawns are a great addition to any home. By using a bio-diverse process with your soil, as well as keeping seeds to a native variety, you can build a lawn that will thrive in your climate. Be sure to use only organic products as well as natural methods to keep your plants and lawn healthy. When you provide the necessary investment into your lawn up front, you can be rewarded with a low maintenance eco-friendly option that is safe for your family and pets.

About the Author

Jonathan McGraw is a natural landscape designer who writes for naturesfinestseed.com, a great source of environmentally friendly grass seed for your home or commercial projects.

*Image: graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

“To make this dish super easy and super cheap I turn off my oven and fire up my Crock Pot. This recipe is my absolute favorite since I love the sweetness of the honey mixed with a punch of the dried mustard. At Google I had a large vegetarian audience so I grew adept at vegetarian cooking. At Calafia I continue to make sure that we have something for everybody; and every body. For parents this is a great way to get your kids to eat their veggies and you can even expand the recipe to serve more people or to have leftovers.” – Charlie Ayers, Chef

Homemade Baked Beans Recipe


1.5 lbs (3 cups) dried small white beans, or navy beans or cannellini beans
1.5 cups vegetable broth
1 cup mushroom broth
½ cup tamari
½ cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste mixed with ½ cup of vegetable stock until smooth
½ cup honey
½ cup organic brown sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 ea bay leaf
2 tablespoons dried mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sautéed minced onion

Preparation (for prep in Crock Pot)

• Soak navy beans overnight. You can soak longer — up to 12 hours — for even softer baked beans.
• Drain beans and rinse off.
• Add all the ingredients.
• Stir all ingredients together.
• Cover Crock Pot and cook 6-7 hours on high, or 10-12 hours on low. These slow cooking times are approximate, so cook until the beans are soft and the sauce is rich. Add water to the Crock Pot, if needed.

Eyeball Warning:

If you like your eyeballs, do yourself a solid and refrain from opening the lid during the early hours of cooking. Dried mustard is volatile stuff, and the fumes will burn your pupils if you dare peep into the pot. This is a great dish to serve with Tofu Hotdogs.

Serves 4-6.

*Recipe courtesy of Charlie Ayers, chef and owner of Calafia Café, Palo Alto, CA.*

The weather is cooling down dramatically which means it is time to break out the crusty loaves of bread to dunk in hearty bowls of warm soup! Making dinnertime a healthful breeze is Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods®, who has recently introduced five new organic soups to its Vegan Ready to Serve Soup line!

The five delicious new flavors include Lentil Vegetable, Tortilla, Lower Sodium Black Bean, Lower Sodium Vegetable and Lower Sodium Tomato. “Mom’s” favorite? The Tortilla Soup! For extra nutrition, flavor, and crunch, try topping your bowl of Tortilla Soup with freshly sliced avocado and crumbled organic tortilla chips! Another gratifying choice is the Lower Sodium Tomato. Add freshly chopped basil to your bowl and dunk warm slices of whole wheat bread into the soup – simple, yet extremely satisfying!

All five flavors are high in both plant-based protein and fiber, are non-GMO and are Vegan and all-natural. In addition, the soup cartons are packaged in paper-based BPA-free packaging sourced exclusively from certified sustainably managed forests.

For cold evenings as we head into winter, Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods®’ Organic Ready-to-Serve Vegan Soups are a nutritious and simple dinner choice! You can find them at your local grocery store in the natural foods section, at many natural food stores, or online at www.rightfoods.com.

*Company generously provided samples and images for this piece.*

The Benefits of Eating Organic During Pregnancy

While organic eating certainly has its fair share of opposition (mostly from those who are concerned about e-coli), there is a lot to recommend the practice, especially for women that are eating for two. You may well be concerned about the risks associated with organic foods, but frankly, if you wash and cook them properly you have nothing to worry about. And when it comes to keeping chemical toxins, synthetic hormones, and antibiotics away from your unborn child, there’s no better way than to make the switch to an organic diet. Here are just some of the many benefits you’ll enjoy.

For one thing, organic foods tend to taste better (have more flavor) than their chemically-grown counterparts. While this is certainly preferable for anyone, it may be particularly helpful for pregnant women that are experiencing a heightened sense of smell and taste thanks to their condition. Since organic items are thought to spoil faster, they are often shipped to markets immediately (and they frequently come from local sources). So you may have to shop a bit more often and buy less, but you’ll get the freshest of the fresh when it comes to produce, meats, and animal products.

Organics are also better for your own health and the health of the planet. Not only will they help you to avoid introducing chemical toxins like fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides into your own system (and your baby’s); but they will stop the spread of these sprays to the soil, water, and air (as well as the damage they do to surrounding ecosystems). Although you may not notice any immediate results, organic foods could do wonders for your health over time. You may not realize the damage being done to your body until it’s too late. And with all the instances of cancer and other diseases springing up over the last several decades, it may indeed be something in the water (so to speak).

But you can actually do even more than shopping for local, organic foods. You can go a step further by opting for organic furnishings and textiles in your home. If you knew how many chemicals were part and parcel of the clothing industry, you might not wear a stitch! But there are chemical-free alternatives for average clothing and even bedding for yourself and your baby. All of these options can only help you to live a healthier and more environmentally friendly lifestyle all around, which is great for your growing family.

When morning sickness starts, you probably won’t be too keen to eat anything. But once you’re over the worst, why would you even think about eating foods that could harm your baby while he’s still in the womb? Take your own health and that of your unborn child into consideration when you select the foods you ingest and you’ll see that organics are the clear winner. While some mothers-to-be may worry about the risks, they’re fairly negligible when compared to the potential damage that can be caused by the chemical fertilizers and pesticides used to grow produce and the hormones and antibiotics found in most meats and animal products.

Grown-ups can get into the Halloween spirit with this creepily delicious sparkling creation from VOGA Italia Wine! Use organic pineapple juice – tastes blood-curdlingly divine!

Bride of Frankenstein


4 oz VOGA Sparkling

1 oz Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur

1 oz pineapple juice


Pour Chambord and juice into a Champagne flute. Top with VOGA Sparkling and garnish with a raspberry.

*Recipe and image courtesy of VOGA Italia Wine.*

On the tail (literally) of the wildly popular book from last season, ZOOBORNS, comes the latest addition – ZOOBORNS CATS! Let these cuddly little critters stretch, wriggle, and paw their way right into your heart as you turn the pages of this wildly entertaining book! Page after page showcases rare kittens and cubs from around the globe, in all their furry glory. From leopards and tigers to lynxes and ocelots, this book is filled with exotic felines — including some who have never been photographed before.

Chock full of interesting facts and amazing photographs, ZOOBORNS CATS! is as educational as it is entertaining. The charming cats inside the book represent fresh hope for their endangered cousins, and a portion of proceeds goes to benefit conservation efforts through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Each page features a feline friend who is just too, too precious, and you want them to leap out of the book and into your lap for a snuggle!

Children, adults and animal lovers will absolutely adore ZOOBORNS CATS! “Mom” and her little one couldn’t stop “ooohhh-ing” and “aww-ing” over these cuties!

Want even more cute-ness? Watch this ZOOBORNS CATS! trailer on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbmWs0jXIzs&feature=related

ZOOBORNS CATS! makes a great gift this holiday season, as well as a wonderful addition to any children’s book collection! Pick up a copy at ZooBorns.com.

*Company generously provided book copies and images for this piece.*

Cutting Back on AC Usage and its Impact on the Environment

If you’re the kind of person who can’t (or doesn’t want to) imagine living without air conditioning, you’re not alone. Walking into a nice, cool house after roasting in the sun is a great feeling. The problem is that temperatures are getting warmer and increased AC usage isn’t doing the planet any favors. Here are some suggestions for keeping your environment cool without breaking the bank or singlehandedly causing Earth’s downfall.

1. Maintain your AC

Regular air conditioning maintenance is necessary and important to keeping your system running properly. Experts recommend cleaning or replacing air filters at least once a month, which will increase your air conditioner’s efficiency. Likewise, installing an air mister can help your AC work more effectively by cooling hot air around the unit, reducing the need for refrigerant to regulate air before it enters your home. Homeowners have reported cost savings up to 30%.

2. Adjust the Thermostat

Turn your thermostat up by five degrees. Doing so will allow your home to remain comfortable, but it will cut down on the amount of time your air conditioner runs, which will reduce your energy bill by about 10% every month. We all like saving money and can get used to something a little different; ergo, win-win. This step is especially helpful since you don’t need to keep your house at igloo temperatures when you’re gone all day. Chances are you won’t even notice the slight increase in temperature, especially when coming inside from a hot day. Consider installing an ADT Pulse home security system. In addition to protecting your home, you can control the thermostat remotely, giving you the chance to conserve energy and lower your monthly utility bill even when you’re not at home.

3. Buy a Fan

A fan will help air circulate and can help you stay cool without taking your AC for granted. Capitalize on the literal power of your fan and grab a spray bottle of water. Should you get too warm, mist yourself lightly and let the fan’s air cool you off. If necessary, this trick can help you adjust to your slightly-warmer environment.

4. Change your Addiction

Here’s a piece of advice that some of us might need: Go outside. It’s easy to get addicted to air conditioning but it’s also possible to acclimate to higher temperatures. Buy a baby pool for your yard and splash around to stay cool. Have a squirt gun fight with friends or family. Sit in the shade with a cool drink. Go swimming at the public pool. Spending time outside and/or away from home will cut down on the number of hours a day you run your AC. It will also promote face-to-face time with friends.

5. Save “Hot” Chores for Nighttime

Consider saving “hot” chores like running a dishwasher or dryer for the evening when temperatures are cooler. Your AC unit will run more efficiently if you don’t force it to work harder than necessary. Your nod to the environment will also allow you to procrastinate without guilt.

Being smart about your use of air conditioning is entirely possible. While literally chillin’ in your home feels great, reserve the arctic temperatures for penguins. Just think: the more you do for the environment, the more bragging rights you have on Facebook.

*Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*