Give This, Not That: Halloween Edition



Back by popular demand!

halloween candy bowl

Want to be the cool house on the block come Trick-or-Treat time? Sure, the headless ghoul and ghastly sound effects – not to mention swirling fog and creepy doorbell – will go a long way. But to truly take your place in the hall of fame, you need to master The Give. To help you out, I’ve compiled a beginner’s guide to treats every kid worth her princess ball gown or his superhero cape will be looking for October 31st, along with the sure-to-scare-away equivalent:

First, the basics. Whenever possible, give:

  • Candy                  NOT         Candy Corn, Fruit, or Raisins
  • Full Size              NOT         Fun Size or Mini
  • New Candy         NOT         Last Year’s Easter Candy

chocolate bunny

Once you’ve mastered Candy 101, you’re ready to move on. Give:

  • Chocolate                           NOT     Breath Mints
  • Sour, Sweet, Gummy    NOT    Atomic Fireball, Tabasco Jelly Beans
  • Laffy Taffy                         NOT     Bit-O-Honey or Licorice
  • Caramel Anything           NOT     Coconut Anything (sorry Mounds)
  • ANYTHING ELSE           NOT     Pecan Logs, Sixlets, Necco Wafers

necco wafers





Finally, when you’re ready for the Advanced Give, give these a try:

  • Gross-out Candy (Zit Poppers, Gummy Tongue, Box of Boogers, Ear Wax Candy)

zit poppers


  • Goodies you may have on hand (Beer Nuts, Clif Bars, or 5-Hour Energy)

5 hour energy

Now that you’re all set to be the best house on the block come Halloween night, be sure to follow this last piece of advice: GIVE IT ALL AWAY (your skinny jeans will thank me come Thanksgiving!).

31 Days of Horror: Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (aka Part V) (R; 1985; 92 min)

Friday the 13th New Beginning

I was looking for a retro scare, so I turned to a franchise I loved as a teenager. I’ve also heard that a new installment is due on Friday, March 13, 2015, so I wanted to do some catch-up on the story. Seems I’m VERY behind, since there are seven more FTT’s after this 1985 film, including some crossovers with Nightmare on Elm Street…Movie Marathon time!

New Beginning catches up with Tommy Jarvis, the boy who killed Jason Vorhees, as a teenager living in a sort of half-way group house for mentally disturbed kids. One by one, the residents are brutally butchered in increasingly imaginative ways. Tommy, damaged and almost mute, sulks around a lot, while the music escalates and crazy neighbors hack at raw chicken carcasses. As the bodies pile up, Tommy befriends Reggie, a young kid whose grandfather works at the home. Together they must find the killer – could it be Jason reborn? – and try to live to see the 6th installment.

Overall, New Beginning is cheesy enough to be pretty funny, and features some terrible acting thrown in all around with no real scares. If you’re looking for a B horror movie to play a drinking game to, this just might be the one.

  • Top Scare: Uh, can’t think of one
  • Heartbeats: 1 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 1 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 15 or 16 and up

31 Days of Horror: Oculus (R; 2013; 104 min)



Ever feel like a horror movie has the possibility of being a great scare, yet it falls just short? That’s how I felt about Oculus. Even though it did have some scary-ish moments, and a decent horror movie premise underlying it all, it never managed to pull me out of my living room and into the spirit world like it could have.

Switching back and forth – sometimes quite confusingly (the director’s intention) –  between today and ten years ago, Oculus is the story of two siblings, Tim and Kaylie. Tim has just been released from a mental institute where he was being treated after murdering his parents as a young boy a decade ago. But Kaylie wants to prove via an elaborate set-up of alarms, switches and cameras that the murderer was actually an evil spirit residing in the antique mirror hanging in their father’s office, known as the Lasser Glass, and that the spirit has been murdering its owners for hundreds of years. A la Stephen King’s IT, Kaylie also wants Tim to keep his promise of coming back and helping her to take care of the spirit once and for all. The problem is, Tim doesn’t remember the events quite the same, until he is caught up in Kaylie’s efforts and starts to relive the night in question. But the evil that resides within the mirror has many tricks up its sleeve, all designed to prevent Tim and Kaylie from accomplishing their goal. The question is, who will be victorious?

  •  Top Scare: Evil Spirit in office
  • Heartbeats: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 3 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 15 and up



Christmas Gifts Sure to Make Them Say Wow!

bad wrapping

So you’re looking for the perfect gift for that certain someone, maybe a bit of jewelry or something special to wear. Look no further. Read on to discover my top picks in five big categories. You’re sure to find just the right thing for those oh-so special people on YOUR list!

1. Jewelry & Accessories

Plunger Earrings                      Guinea Pig Hair Clip                    Armadillo Handbag

plunger earringstaxidermy hair clip        armadillo handbag

Scorpion Bracelet                           Boombox Wristwatch   Glowing Spider Earrings

scorpion bracelet  boombox watch                 spider glow earrings or key chain

2. Personal Care

Ear Wax Vac                               Soap on a Rope                      Chicken Poop Lip Balm

wax vac      soap on a rope                    chicken poop lip balm

Finger-Shaped Nose Hair Trimmer

nose hair trimmer

3. Clothing

Underwear for the Hands           Instant Underwear                Booty Pop Undies

handerpants             instant underpantsbooty bop undies

Beer Beard

beer beard

4. Food and Treats

                      Yummy Chocolate?                                           Log of Old Fruit

            fartless candy log                           fruitcake

Coffee in a Toilet Mug

toilet coffe mug

5. Thinking of You Gifts

Poo-Related Goodies

 toilet golf game    poo penpoo book

Lazy Helpers

            pet petter               go girl

Anything Chia

chia britney               chia bullredneck chia pet



A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision langorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugerplums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife


box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!


Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:




Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

31 Day of Horror: Mama (PG-13; 2013; 100 min)


When two girls, Victoria and Lilly, are found after being left alone in a cabin in the woods for five years, their uncle takes on the challenge of trying to raise them. With the help of a psychiatrist, he and his girlfriend begin to make progress, such as getting them to walk upright and stop eating cherries for every meal (or certain creatures, as eventually becomes the case). But it soon becomes clear that they weren’t alone in that cabin after all – Mama was with them. And Mama does not want to give them up quite so easily.

With an almost unrecognizable Jessica Chastain, and an adorable Megan Charpentier as Victoria, Mama has a solid, believable cast. The majority of the movie is suspenseful, quite scary, and a bit gruesome, thanks to some great special effects. I was disappointed in the surreal-type ending, however, and wish the movie had stuck more closely with its horror theme. All in all, a great scare for your 31 Days of Horror.

  • Top Scare: Any with Mama
  • Heartbeats: 4 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 14 or 15 and up

31 Days of Horror: House at the End of the Street (PG-13; 2012; 101 min)

house at end of street

With Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, and Elisabeth Shue, I was happy to give this movie a try, and I’m glad I did. Though not the scariest of plots, it did have a few good jump-out-of-my-seat moments, some good suspense, and an interesting story. Plus, it had not just one, but two or three twists thrown in, and I’m a sucker for plot twists!

Teenager Elissa (Lawrence) and her wildish mom Sarah (an amazing-looking Shue) have just rented a house in the woods. They got it for a steal since the house next door was the location of a family slaying – a not-quite-all-there girl (Carrie Anne) had murdered her mother and father one night before disappearing into the woods to never be seen again. When they discover the girl’s brother, Ryan, has moved back into the abandoned house after many years staying with an Aunt, Elissa strikes up a friendship with him. As the friendship deepens, Sarah tries to put a stop to it, but Elissa is too clever for that.

Now, Ryan is a quiet, shy type of college kid, fixing up his family home in hopes to sell it one day. But as time goes on, we learn that there’s something very odd going on in Ryan’s house, something that involves Carrie Anne, who may or may not have disappeared for good on that fateful night. And just when you think you’ve figured it out – TWIST – you have to look at things differently. And as soon as you’re comfortable with that -TWIST – you have to figure it all out again. But it doesn’t stop there…you’ll be thinking this movie through right up to the very end!

  • Top Scare: In Ryan’s house
  • Heartbeats: 3 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 1/4 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 14 and up

31 Days of Horror: The Cabin in the Woods (R; 2012; 95 min)

the cabin in the woods

Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: five college friends head for a remote cabin in the woods. When strange things begin happening, and they are soon dying one by one, they realize they are not alone.

What? Stop? Are you sure?

But if I do, you’ll never discover the mind-bending secrets you can only discover if you watch this unique version of the story. Secrets too big and, um, different, to reveal here! Suffice it to say, you won’t want to miss this cult classic brought to you by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, if only so you know the secret(s) and can yuck it up a bit in the process at not only the storyline, but the acting too. And maybe enjoy a few small scares here and there as well.

  • Top Scare: Undead
  • Heartbeats: 2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 1 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 15 and up

31 Days of Horror: The Conjuring (R; 2013; 112 min)

the conjuring

Wow, wow, and wow! I’d heard great things about this movie, so wanted to be sure to include it in my 31 Days of Horror. I’m just glad I didn’t watch it late at night!

The Conjuring is based on real-life husband and wife team, Ed and Lorraine Warren, and their most difficult case as demonologists/paranormal researchers. In 1971 Rhode Island, the Perron family has just moved into an old, creaky-door house they got for a steal (uh, oh…red flag!). Almost immediately, they begin to hear strange sounds (flag), and soon discover the house’s boarded up cellar, stocked full of old furniture, toys, etc. (flag). The youngest of five daughters, April, soon has an invisible playmate (flag). The Mom is noticing strange bruises on her body (flag). And another daughter is seeing people and being tugged at while sleeping (flag).

Now, before you say, “I’ve seen this kind of movie a hundred times,” just wait. Because before you know it, the scares kick up a notch or twelve, with scares aplenty. You’ll be squeezing that pillow pretty tightly in no time flat! Because as soon as the Perrons decide to enlist the Warrens’ help, the spirits and demons living in the house start getting pretty mad about it all, and try to put a stop to their every effort. Adults, children, pets – all in the crosshairs. The question is, will the Perrons and the Warrens all make it through to tell the tale?

With amazing timing, special effects, lighting, and cast, The Conjuring is the perfect combination of “truth and scare,” one you won’t want to miss!

  • Top Scare: Very hard to choose, but I’ll go with bedroom scene
  • Heartbeats: 4 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 4 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 15 or 16 and up

31 Days of Horror: Tips Your House Might Be Haunted

31 Days of Horror: Tips Your House Might Be Haunted.