7 DIY Halloween Treats!

Written by on October 23, 2013

cauldron

Can you believe it’s almost Halloween? Gather the family around the cauldron and whip up some spooky treats for All Hallows Eve!

We’ve scoured the skeleton cupboards for Halloween treats for you, but beware of the creepy crawlies. Grab your ghouls and goblins and start your bubbling.

(click on photos for original link and recipe)

Cue the scary music as you pass out these headstone cups. Cumble up oreos (minus the cream) or chocolate cake mix, through a cookie on top and write RIP on them. Add party- goers names on each one for added affect.

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From one brain to another, we’ve encountered these bloody, yucky brain cupcakes. While mom may gag at the sight of sticking one of these in her mouth, the boys are sure to love them!!

Find brain candy molds or brain jelly candies to pop on top. Another option is a walnut.

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Vampire Bite

Doesn’t get much simpler than this: two cookies, red frosting, and marshmellows. Muahahaha!

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Back to the cemetary we go. This time it’s a fully graveyard made of cake-chocolate of course.

Crumble a dark candy of your choice on top and add peanut cookies dipped in white chocolate or lathered with white icing.

Use black icing for the eyes.

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Mummy links. Use a prepackaged dough (or prepare your own) and wrap around a sausage link of your choosing.

Cut longer links in half to double your amount! Add mustard dots for the eyes.

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For an alternate version, wrap with noodles and stick them inside of small coffins that can be found at party stores.

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 I have a funny feeling someone is looking at me…..there’s an eyeball in my glass!

Leave it to Martha Stewart to come up with this oogly-eyed recipe using radishes and olives!

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We love this o-so-creepy cheese platter!

Grab a cheese ball, shape it into a skull, and stick some olives in for eyeballs-so simple!

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Check out our Fall Fun board on Pinterest for some more Halloween fun!

If you’ve come up with some ghoulish treats of your own, snap a photo and share with us on our Facebook page!

Photo Sources- Ididafunny.com, Goddessaday, MarthaStewart, ImprovementsCatalog, Springpad

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Pumpkin Decorating

Written by on October 16, 2013

Angry Birds Pumpkin Mummy pumpkin

We are well into October and before you know it, Halloween will be here! Better scurry over to the pumpkin patch before the pickins get slim. While tradition has it, people have been picking pumpkins and carving scary faces into them for decades. In more recent years, the customary scary side of Halloween has gravitated towards the direction of humor and fun; cue The Mario Brother’s and Salt & Peper Shaker’s!

For the youngest of Halloween fans, carving a pumpkin can be quite tricky, not to mention mom and dad probably aren’t letting them too close to the carving tools. As a result, alternate pumpkin decorating has come forward in a multitude of ways incorporating crafty ideas for the family. Look at the fun ideas we’ve found!

Cookie Monster Pumpkin

Toddlers will love this brightly painted blue Cookie Monster sitting on your doorstep. Hand out individually wrapped cookies to keep it unique!
Beachy pumpkin

A beach pumpkin! We suspect this is an idea generated by those that once lived in a warm locale, but are now bundling up with the rest of us where the weather outside gets frightful!

Black cat

Black cats are symbolic of Halloween, just don’t put them in a place where you may find yourselve crossing their paths!

burger Anyone hungry?

Candy corn pumpkin

Who loves candy corn? Nothing screams fall like the site of these tri-colored candies on store shelves. Add some creativity to it and dress up your pumpkin like your favorite animal of the night.

Cinderella
Cinderella!

 

princess pumpkin
Which is your favorite? MiceCan’t forget her friends!!!

Football pumpkin

Celebrate football season with this creative football pumpkin. We suggest using a artificial pumpkin found at your local craft store and painting it with your team name.   Pooh pumpkin

Minnie

Snow pumpkin

A little Disney Magic! Tis the Season!!!

Crayon Pumpkin

You’ve seen it before, DIY melted crayon art. It seems to be the new craze and now has come to life on pumpkins everywhere. Opt for a white pumpkin to really give the colors a bright pop!

If you don’t want to waste crayons, simply recycle your candle wax once it’s melted.
Spider pumpkin

Frakenpumpkin

Keep it old school with this Franken Pumpkin.Jeweled pumpkin

Every girl loves jewels, dress up your pumpkin with gems to make it sparkle!Lite up pumpkin
Dads jump at the chance to bring out the tools, pick a pattern and get to drilling!

Superhero pumpkin
SUPER HERO PUMPKIN!

We know that little boys everywhere will be itching to have a super hero pumpkin at their house! (Dads too)

If you have ideas of your own, send them our way. We love seeing new creativity!!! Happy carving, paiting, drilling, glueing, and decorating!!!

It’s Pumpkin Season!

Written by on September 25, 2013

Fall has officially arrived and we are extremely excited about all the yummy foods the season has to offer. When it comes to fall produce, there is no denying that apples and squash come to mind, but pumpkins are always in the forefront of everyone’s mind. From picking the perfect pumpkin, to scooping, and carving, visions of this orange fruit (yes, fruit!) is the ultimate reminder that autumn is here!

It is believed that pumpkins originated in Central America where seeds from related plants were found dating back to 5500B.C. Fast forward to today and pumpkins are widely known as one of the most popular crops in North America where 1.5 billion pounds are produced each year with Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California being the top pumpkin producing states in the country.

cinderella

You may be surprised to find out that pumpkin is a fruit (squash to be exact), and a member of the Cucurbita family which is comprised of squash and cucumber. The word pumpkin is derived from the Greek term pepon meaning “large melon” with countless varieties grown across the world. The different types have fun names such as Aladdin, Fairy Tale, Cinderella, and Baby Bear to name a few.

 

           Pumpkin Facts:

  • Great for a health-conscious diet!
  • They are low in sodium
  •  Seeds are high in protein, iron, and the B vitamins.
  • There are indented ridges running from top to bottom on the outside of the pumpkin. They are called Ribs.
  • High in fiber.
  • Low in calories.
  • Brains is the proper name is fibrous strands found on the inside.
  • Pumpkin seeds are called pepitas
  • Central and eastern Europe, consider pumpkin oil a delicacy used in traditional local cuisines
  • Pumpkins are very high in beta-carotene (an antioxidant) which converts into Vitamin A (believed to help delay aging).
  • The largest pumpkin pie weighed 916.25 kg (2,020 lb) and measured 3.7 m (12 ft 1 in) long. It was made by New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio, USA on 8 October 2005.—Guinness World Records
  • The heaviest pumpkin weighed 824.86 kg (1,818 lb 5 oz) and was presented by Jim and Kelsey Bryson (Canada) at the Prince Edward County Pumpkinfest, Wellington, Ontario, Canada, on 15 October 2011.—Guinness World Records

Now for the best part! Drum roll please…………………………………PUMPKIN RECIPES! We’ve scoured the net for the neatest recipes we could find, let us know if you agree:

Pumpkin Ravioli

Pumpkin Ravioli with Hazelnut Brown Butter Sauce and Balsamic Drizzle

pumpkin chili

Pumpkin Chili

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Bite Size Pumpkin Funnel Crispies

 

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie Pumpkin-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie-Dough-Dip-0031-1024x682Dough Dip by Chocolate Moosey

 

Photo Sources-Chocolate Moosey, All about pumpkins, Will Cook For Friends, Dine and Dish

October is Anti-Bullying Awareness Month

Written by on October 3, 2013

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The internet is the most abundant and utilized resource available to individuals across the planet. It provides the ability to connect with loved ones that you haven’t seen in years, or research information in the amount of time it takes to say the word research.

But oftentimes, with the good comes the bad. The explosion of social media (while a valued commodity) has given bullies the opportunity to successfully terrorize their prey while hiding behind the shadows of their computer screen. The hatred they spew may be fun and games in their minds, but to the victim, it can be life altering.

In the past few years, news reports have been flooded with stories of our youth taking their own life after becoming the target of online bullying. Thankfully, not all of these cases end tragically, but even so, the victim may end up with years of torment and suffering that can last into adulthood with negative lifelong results.

The month of October has been dedicated towards raising awareness against bullying. Websites such as Stop Bullying.gov and the National bullying prevention center have been created to provide an understanding of the definition of bullying, how it occurs, who is at risk, prevention, and how to respond in the event that an individual should face the unfortunate situation.

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What can I do right now?

Download documents to assist with training of personnel at your local schools, day care, or just for yourself and other parents or family members. Sign an online petition against bullying and share via social media sites and email.

Race to raise awareness against bullying by participating in Run Walk Roll Against Bullying 5K taking place on October 27 at Western Regional Park.

Classrooms can get involved by joining in Project Connect, an idea to create a peaceful chain out of orange construction paper linked together with hopeful messages written on them by students.ProjectConnect-Pic1a

 

Ray of Hope Wristband

Baltimore Raven’s Running Back Rack Rice has been a strong advocate for anti-bullying campaigns effectively bringing attention to the topic. He has created the Ray of Hope wristband which reads, ““You can be a HERO to someone, just by being their friend!” in an effort to raise funds for the cause.

Additionally Mr. Rice has collaborated with the website Booster to put together t-shirts for bullying prevention. The company will manufacture the shirts once 100 have been ordered. With less than two weeks left, they are almost half way there so head over and order yours!

Check out this page for a variety of bullying prevention tees create by other celebrities.

 

 

Remember if you see something, say something! It could save a life.

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Other helpful sites include Kids Against Bullying, Teens Against Bullying, and Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center (NBPC)

 

Benefits of Cinnamon

Written by on September 18, 2013

Blisstree

The temperature has dropped and there is a chill in the air reminds us that the fall season is right around the corner. Just walk into a grocery store and you will be overwhelmed by the smell of freshly baked pies and cinnamon brushed pinecones. The smells are amazing and reminiscent of the ever so close holiday season. While you are filling your cart with items on your shopping list, don’t forget to stop by the spice aisle and pick up some more cinnamon. As a matter of fact, just head on over to your local wholesale club and stock up on this treasured spice.

Dating back to 2800 BC, Cinnamomum zeylanicum is native to Sri Lanka and was later used for medicinal purposes during Medieval Times. Physicians would use it for ailments including coughing, soar throat, and hoarseness. So what are the known benefits of cinnamon in today’s modern culture? Have a look for yourself:

Fights tooth decay and gum disease the anti-bacterial properties helps rid harmful bacteria without damaging teeth or gums. Have you noticed that cinnamon is a common flavor amongst mouthwash, gum, and toothpastes?

Sore throat, colds, and cough-just as history has proven, the warming properties of cinnamon help to increase blood flow which in turn improved blood oxygen levels in an effort to fight against illness. At the first sight of symptoms, sip on some warm cinnamon tea to help ease throat ailments.

Controls blood sugar levels and is therefore helpful to those with type 2 Diabetes by increasing the amount of insulin production

Arthritis and Osteoporosis-cinnamon has high levels of manganese which the body needs for optimum health according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

•Good for cancer prevention-evidence suggests that cinnamon starves cancer cells and studies show positive results among both leukemia and lymphoma

•Candida (yeast infection of the body) is unable to live in a cinnamon environment due to it’s antifungal properties.

•Alzheimer’s-studies show that cinnamon is able to delay the effects of 5 different strands of Alzheimers.

•IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)-reduces bloating and kills bacteria in the GI tract. Feeling stomach cramps? Drink a few cups of cinnamon tea a day for relief.

Lowers bad cholesterol (LDL)-using a 1/2 teaspoon a day is an effective way to bring down your numbers.

•Improves memory-a German study found that cinnamon increases concentration and memory recall. Just the smell of cinnamon alone helps with cognitive functioning.

Weight loss has been associated with cinnamon consumption because it thins blood causing an increase in blood flow. In return your body experiences a boost in metabolism.

Cinnamon has been found to be a natural remedy for headaches and migraines

PMS the University of Maryland found that women consuming a diet high in manganese experienced far fewer cramps and mood swings associated with PMS

Other uses for cinnamon include:

•Fights E.Coli-mix with hydrogen peroxide and spray on your counter tops, sink, and cutting boards.

•Used in massage therapy-perfect for easing muscle pain when combined with essential warmed oils.

•Food preservative-cinnamon prevents bacterial growth. Sprinkle some on your bread to make it last longer.

Hair growth-stimulates your scalp. Try a hair mask which includes cinnamon.

Plum those lips-forget the Botox, just mix a dash of cinnamon with Vaseline and rub away for a smoldering look.

•Create a scrub to alleviate dry skin

Have a look at this long list of recipes which include cinnamon and if you have one of your own, be sure to send it our way!

Photo source-Blisstree

Reminder :Too much of anything is a bad thing. Although cinnamon is beneficial to your health, it is possible to have negative effects if over used. Please consult your doctor.

Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

obese-kids

23 million children and teens in America are obese which is equivalent to 1 in every 3 of our youths population. Medical experts consider this to be an epidemic which must be addressed immediately.

Sadly enough we have reached a point that there has been a month dedicated to childhood obesity awareness. September has been named National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. The goal is to get organizations throughout the U.S. to initiate activities to raise awareness through the support of national, state, and local leaders.

Did you know? One out of three children will develop type 2 diabetes over the course of their lifetime if there isn’t some decline in obesity rates. One in five children already have a cholesterol problem. Youth that are obese have an 80% chance of staying overweight as an adult. This puts them at risk for other health issues including sleep apnea, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and several types of cancer.

Amounts up to $14 billion a year on health care costs hit the economy hard with people spending 9% of their income on obesity-related illness.

 

Be in the know:

  • Weight-gains of 11 to 17.6 lbs increase the risk of Heart Disease (CHD) and non-fatal heart attack by 25%. 44 lbs or more increase risk by more than 2.5 times (250%).
  • Approximately 68% of arthritis patients are overweight. Don’t be fooled, joint damage and arthritis can attack even the youngest of the population. Each  pound of body-weight lost equals a 4-pound reduction in knee joint stress in those that are obese.
  • 1 in 8 preschoolers are obese.
  • Children are consuming fresh produce and more processed foods which in turn create empty calories. Cut back on items that are processed in a factory and move to the items picked from the farm.
  • Modern day technology has significantly change the way our children play and interact. Remind them of the great outdoors and all the fun that imagination has to offer!
  • Kids can exercise too! Teach children the benefits of working out-it’s good for the body and the mind. Don’t forget to lead by example, children mimic what they see.
  • Beverages are often forgotten about, but soft drinks and juices are high in sugar content. Increase water intake and cut out the number of sugary drinks your kids consume.

If you are or know of an organization interested in participating in a awareness function for childhood obesity, download this kit to help get started.

Visit the National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month website for more information

Photo sources-ItsyBitsySteps

Side Effects of Sugar

As a follow up to our last post about the obesity epidemic across our nation, we wanted to touch base on one of the contributing sources- sugar. It’s addicting, found in just about everything we eat, causes over 100 negative side effects, and yet our body still needs it. Don’t get the idea that you can survive off of cake alone, everything must be done in moderation and unfortunately, food manufactures have made that nearly impossible when it comes to sugar.

In the year 1700, the average person consumed a conservative 4 pounds of sugar per year. By 1800, that amount increased to 18 pounds per year and in 1900 jumped to a whopping 90 pounds per year! If these numbers are a shock to a system, get ready to get light-headed over the significant increase of sugar consumption of 180 pounds per person per year in 2009. With the development of tv dinners, soft drinks, boxed snacks, and fast food chains, diabetes has become a common disease among Americans across the nation.

So what’s the 411 on this omnipresent sweet substance? Let’s start by breaking down the different types of sugar:

Fructose, Glucose, and Dextrose are simple sugars (monosaccarides)-

  • Fructose is a naturally occurring fruit sugar that is in fruit, cane sugar, and honey.
  • Glucose occurs naturally in both plants and fruits and is the form of energy in which our bodies run on.
  • Dextrose is very much the same as fructose.

When sugars are combined, they become a complex sugar. The most well known is Sucrose (table sugar), a combination of glucose and fructose using equal amounts of each. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the combination of the two with 55% being fructose and the remaining 45% glucose. While both HFCS and Sucrose contain the same two sugars, they are quite different. High fructose corn syrup creates higher potential for health risks due to it’s chemical form. The glucose and fructose are not bound together causing your body to absorb it immediately rather than break it down.

When sugars are consumed your body will do one of two things, burn it for energy or convert it to fat and  store it. You’ve heard the phrase, “a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” a million times. Glucose is used by most of your bodies cells and burned as energy, while fructose goes straight to the liver (and thighs). Due to the fact that corn syrup is far cheaper to produce than sucrose, the food and beverage giants switched over to HFCS in the 1970s.

sleeping_homerOnce sugar hits the blood stream, the pancreas releases insulin as a way to control the excess amounts. If there isn’t enough insulin, the body’s cells are not able to take in the glucose properly in turn raising the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. This can lead to diabetes. On the other hand, too much insulin leads to hypoglycemia, also known as a sugar crash. Our bodies feel the need to control this by consuming yet more sugar. Severe cases of hypoglycemia can be dangerous and symptoms should not be ignored.

For more facts about diabetes, got to the American Diabetes Associations Website

To learn more about Hypoglycemia, check out these facts on the Mayo Clinic site.

Other forms of sugar are:

  • Honey-best used in it’s raw form when it is in it’s natural state. Honey is roughly 53% fructose and has many health benefits when used in moderation.
  • Stevia-a natural sweetener which comes from the leaf of a plant in South America
  • Agave-derived from the agave plant, but often times processed with as much as 80% fructose. It has been said that agave coming from Mexico is HFCS. While
  • Sucralose (Splenda) is not a sugar but instead a artificial sweetener and can negatively affect one’s health.
  • Ethanol (alcohol in beverages) is also not a sugar. Certain types of alcohol do in fact contain sugar.
  • Sugar Alcohols suchs as gylcerol, sorbitol, and xylitol are becomming more popular as sweeteners. While they are not sugars or alcohols, they are absobed into the small intestine incompletely and may cause bloating, flactulence, and diarrhea.
  • Saccharin has been linked to increased risks in cancer  and labeled as dangerous, but the term was removed when the results were only found in lab rats and not replicated in humans.

Keep an eye out for this list of other sugars you may come across on food and beverage labels:

  • Brown sugar
  • Cane crystals
  • Cane Sugar
  • Corn Sweetener
  • Corn Syrup
  • Crystalline Fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated can juice
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Invert
  • sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Syrup
  • just about anything that ends in “ose”

In this article, we have covered the basics of sugar. Keep your eyes peeled for future posts with in depth concentration on specific topics such as High fructose corn syrup, side effects and health risks of sugar intake, and sugar addiction. If you have a particular topic you would like to see discussed, feel free to leave a comment on our Facebook page.