Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Grievances & Candy Hacks

No, this is not a blog about how to eat Halloween candy and not gain weight.  That, unfortunately, is just not possible.  Actually, this is a blog about Trick-or-Treating etiquette and also, the best ways to enjoy your huge sack of candy.

Firstly, the question that comes around every year:  How old is too old for trick or treating?  I say 12 or 13 should be the stopping point.  If your child is reluctant to give up this tradition of accepting free candy from strangers, set a limit.  Tell them, 13 is the cut-off or 8th grade is the cut-off.  If they have younger siblings, neighbors, cousins, etc. they could take the younger kids trick-or-treating and dress up themselves but not ask for any candy.  When offered, they may graciously accept but they should not demand candy.  Of course that's just my opinion.

When my oldest, Buffy, was in High School she and her friends would still trick-or-treat for canned food items to donate to the local Food Pantry.  I thought that was a great idea to continue the fun of dressing up and going out on Halloween night but not to be that annoying teenager who is still trick-or-treating in a lame costume (or no costume) and a pillowcase for a treat bag.  Put in some effort, Dude!

Since we're on the subject, I believe that every kid, no matter what age, should be in costume if they are going to trick or treat. Jeans and a T-shirt do not cut it unless the jeans are ripped up and covered in fake blood or in some way part of their costume.

And how late is too late?  Easy - 9pm is the absolute latest time anyone should be out trick-or-treating on Halloween night.  Try to knock off around 8:30pm if possible.  Do not ring the bell after 9pm.  Also, do not go up to a house that isn't lit.  This should be common sense but we had an incident a few Halloweens ago.  It was 10pm.  Our porch light was off.  Buffy and Cissy were little then and safely in bed after their exhausting night of trick or treating.  The Honey Bunch and I were eye-balling the remains of the candy bowl.  The doorbell rang.  I crept up to the peephole and there, in the dark stood a very tall murderer from the movie Scream with the black hood and the white ghost face.  I wasn't sure whether to open the door and offer candy or perhaps, call the police.  We took a chance and opened the door and in a deep, teenage boy voice from beneath the mask we heard, "Trick or Treat."  He got his candy and went on his way but Yikes! 

The following Halloween I implemented the two bowl system.  One bowl contains the good candy, fun-size chocolate bars, mini packs of M&Ms etc.  This bowl is for the kids in cute or clever costumes (or any costume really) and are of an appropriate trick-or-treating age, ie - the little kids.  The other bowl has the crappy candy that comes in a huge sack for $2.  It's the off-brand smarties and wanna-be Jolly Ranchers.  No chocolate in this bowl.  The candy in this bowl is for the kids taller than me with no discernible costume.  Sorry, not sorry.

Another disturbing trend I've seen is groups of people trolling the neighborhood, driving slow with van-loads full of kiddos.  They don't even live in my neighborhood!  This baffles me because, we're not in a posh area, just normal middle-class.  If you watch the show The Middle, that's exactly like my house and all the other houses in this area.  Nobody should be bringing in car-loads of kids from the projects to get the good candy from me - go to the ritzier suburbs folks.  And - sometimes they have an extra bag for, "my friend who couldn't come."  Oh Hell No - let them get their own damn candy.  That kid is probably trick or treating one street over with an extra bag himself. 

Okay - one more complaint and then I'll stop airing my Halloween grievances.  People who give out religious pamphlets instead of candy.  If your religion is one that does not participate in Halloween, then that is your right.  If so, just cut off the lights and lock the doors.  Go to the back room and watch TV and forget that the neighborhood is full of little heathens wandering the streets.  DO NOT - hand my precious baby girl, who is dressed as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books, a religious tract telling her that Halloween is evil and stories like Harry Potter are evil.  Can you tell that this actually happened to us a few years back?  I know who did it too and I have not forgotten.

Okay, enough griping.  Here are some Halloween Candy strategies from my friends, family and co-workers:
  1. Eat candy corn with peanuts and it tastes just like a PayDay candy bar.
  2. Eat a green apple with caramels and you get the flavor of a caramel apple without the hassle of making them. 
  3. Take a bite of a marshmallow peep ghost and a bite of a mini Hershey bar.  Delicious.
  4. Dip your Cheetos into chocolate pudding.  (actually this sounds kind of gross, also it's not technically candy)
  5. My Mom and a few of my colleagues agree:  If it ain't chocolate, it ain't real candy, don't waste your time and your calories.
Lastly, here is some advice from Cissy on how to savor your Halloween haul:

" After you get home, trade with your friends for the candies you like best.  Then, mix it up, don't eat all the good stuff right off the bat, have a few chocolate bars and then try some smarties or starburst.  In fact, save a few of your favorite candy bars until the end, that way you won't get stuck with nothing but Mike & Ike's.

Happy Halloween!  Be safe, be smart, have fun!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hoarder Confessions

Cleaning out the bedroom closet is never a fun prospect.  This time I'm taking it in short bursts of about 2 or 3 hours each weekend.  I've finally found the floor and the back wall.  Along the way I've come across several dust-covered items we've been hoarding for a number of years for NO GOOD REASON.

Here, in no particular order, are my top closet finds which are now firmly placed in the trash or the give-away box:

  1. Tote Bags - I found about 50 tote bags from various places we have worked, clubs we've been in and vacations we've taken.  I donated them but, honestly, if I don't want a tote bag from the M.T. Packaging Company, why would a stranger pick that up in the thrift store and say, "it's just the thing I've been looking for!"
  2. Empty Shoe Boxes - Around 30 empty shoe boxes, some small enough for the little-tiny shoes worn by a 5-year-old.  My kiddos are in their late teens now.  What on earth was I saving them for?  Shoe box dioramas? 
  3. Worn out handbags - There were only 10 of these.  I guess I thought I would decide to use them again someday, despite the frayed straps. Donated, but again, who's going to want them?
  4. An old broken guitar - The Honey-Bunch collects guitars.  This one, however, was a broken garage-sale find from over 20 years ago.  He originally intended to have his Pete Townshend moment by smashing it on stage back when he was in a band.  Another missed opportunity. (sigh)
  5. Stuffed animals from the 1980s - Some have been donated.  Others I'm thinking about selling on E-Bay, if there's a market for Opus and Garfield.  
  6. A Cat Calendar dated 1991 - I just could not part with those cute little kitties... until now.  
  7. Old Shoes - too many to count, some without mates, many crumbling from old age.  One pair was at least 50 years old.  It had belonged to Honey-Bunch's father back in the 1960s.  Was I saving them for a shoe bonfire?  I remember reading that burning shoes was a good way to get rid of ghosts. 
  8. Coat Hangers - We have not heeded the words of Faye Dunaway as Mommie Dearest, "No wire hangers ever!"  Instead, we have been hoarding the world's supply of wire hangers.  Some I put in a box to donate.  Some I will return to the dry cleaners.  
I think I better stop now before somebody stages an intervention.  I'm getting better.  I've let go of a lot of baggage this week, literally.  I only saved about 10 tote bags.  You never know, I might need them someday.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Have a Good Time for a Good Cause

So, you bought a costume for the office Halloween party and maybe you’re looking for more opportunities to wear the thing.  Or, maybe you’re just looking for something fun and different to do this weekend.  Well, if you live in the Houston or Katy area, you are in luck. The rockin’ist Halloween party in town is the 4th Annual Charity Boo Bash, this Saturday, October 24, at 6:00pm.  The location is the Mason Creek Community Center at 20201 Kingsland Blvd in Katy.  Tickets for the Boo Bash are $75 if purchased in advance and $100 at the door. Register online at  All proceeds benefit Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance (MHHA) for teens with Dysautonomia and other Hidden Illnesses (more about that later).

I’ve been to the Boo Bash the last couple of years and, let me tell you, it is an amazingly fun party. The costumes are top-notch so be prepared to dress up. There’s even a costume contest with some pretty awesome prizes so make an effort – or don’t – you’ll still have fun.  My Honey Bunch always wears a suit.  Last year he “stabbed” a box of Frosted Flakes with a huge plastic knife and went as a Cereal Killer….  get it?  But I’ve seen it all at the Boo Bash, witches, ghosts, zombies and then there’s the non-traditional but very creative costumes, such as Fred and Wilma Flintstone, superheroes, Beetlejuice, or even a Refrigerator.

The Boo Bash is an exciting evening for adults, with a delectable dinner from the Saltgrass Steak House, yummy deserts provided by an award winning baker, beer and wine and some fantastic prizes.  DJ Johnny Bravo will be there, so you can dance the night away.  There’s even going to be a totally awesome band, 80 Proof, so we can rock out to the hits of the 80s!

 And then, there’s the PRIZES!!  I’ve never been to a charity event with so many ways to score fabulous prizes. There’s a silent auction, a live auction, a raffle, a prize pull (ahem, wine pull), a 50/50 cash give-away, and the aforementioned costume contest.  You could walk away with more swag than you can fit in your car.  Last year the Honey Bunch and I almost won the bidding for a week’s stay in a swanky condo in Destin Florida.  Almost.  We did, however, get a lot of our Christmas shopping out of the way with some of the gorgeous silent auction items – jewelry, Aggie memorabilia, and some top-of-the-line bath products. This year, there are even more fantastic prizes at the Boo Bash including, the getaway in Destin, a Messina Hof wine tour, a tricked-out barbecue grill, a craft beer kit, a year of coffee (that one's mine), a year of date-nights, a family membership to the Houston Museum of Natural Science and a gift basket from the No Label Brewery. There's a lot more that I don't have room to mention. Checks and credit cards are accepted.

All of this is for Mik’s Hidden Hearts Alliance, a charity I feel strongly about. MHHA is a non-profit organization that reaches out to homebound and hospitalized teens with dysautonomia and other hidden, life changing illnesses. It was founded in 2011 by a remarkable teenager, Mikaela Aschoff. She fell ill with dysautonomia in her freshman year of high school and her life has never been the same. You can read her incredible story at the website above. MHHA provides gifts, hope kits, and monthly socials for these chronically ill young people as well as the annual Anti-PROM, a formal dinner and casino-night party for teens affected by hidden illnesses. These kids often don’t have the chance to get-together with friends and just hang-out and be a teenager. The social events and the Anti-Prom provide a much needed break from doctors, treatments and hospital visits. The smiles I’ve seen on these kids at the Anti-PROM are so joyful.

MHHA also works to spread awareness of Dysautonomia, which is considered a “hidden illness” because the sufferers often look healthy to the casual observer. It’s a complex condition caused by a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system and can affect the cardiovascular, endocrine, metabolic and gastrointestinal systems. Dysautonomia can cause very painful and debilitating symptoms.

I hope you’ll join me at this year’s Boo Bash. It’s the most fun you’ll have in a costume this year.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Know-It-Alls Love the Internet

Know-It-Alls love the internet, especially Google, Wikipedia and IMDB.  As a recovering Know-It-All myself I find it gratifying to finally be able to win an argument by having the proof at hand, literally.

Before the internet and smart phones existed, people just had to argue it out until somebody got tired of it, or it was time to go, but the argument never really got resolved.  The hopelessly misinformed went along their merry, blissfully ignorant way, believing themselves to be right when in fact, they were dead wrong. The know-it-alls were left to ponder where they could get their hands on some proof of what they knew to be true, and how to bring up the subject again at some future time. It was frustrating.

Now, however, the proof is at your fingertips. In any disagreement you can simply whip out your phone, key in a few details and voila - instant factual corroboration. Like magic.  The misinformed are now left humbled, speechless and feeling rather foolish as you bask in the victory of your superior knowledge.

Of course, some people find us know-it-alls annoying, though I can't think why?  Here are some recent misconceptions that I was able to correct, and no one even thanked me.
  1. Kate Middleton is a Duchess, not a Princess.
  2. There never was a Ura Hogg.  Ima Hogg did not have a sister, only brothers.
  3. If you are being pretentious, you are highfalutin, not high pollutin'.
  4. If you would rather stay home and skip the party, you are acting like a hermit, not a kermit.
  5. When you write, "he does not want to be apart of their group," you have pretty much said he does not want to be away from their group when what you meant was, he does not want to be in their group.  
  6. The movie Funny Girl starring Barbra Streisand had a sequel called Funny Lady, which was released in 1975, also starring Barbra Streisand.
  7. People who correct your grammar are not Nazis.  They are helpful friends who should be thanked. 
I will close with a quote from Ricky Gervais, "Some of you are really smart.  You know who you are.  Some of you are really thick.  Unfortunately, you don't know who you are."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Keeping Away from the Kardashians

Keeping away from the Kardashians is impossible.

I Kould not Kare less about the Kardashians, or as I like to call them, the KKK family.  (Because all the kids have names that start with K, get it? .... oh, never mind.)

Anyway, I am frequently annoyed by the constant bombardment of news about, pictures of, and general incessant coverage of these people.  I know their so-called reality show has been on the air since before we all had mobile phones.  They are inescapable, believe me, I've tried. If you own a television, a computer or go to the grocery store you will have seen and heard about the Kardashians in much more detail than you would like.

In fact, you would be hard pressed to find anyone in the U.S. who has not been exposed to naked pictures of Kim Kardashian's butt. It was on the cover of a magazine, for cripes sake.  Get your butt out of my face, Kim!!

I've had my fill of the Kardashians and I've never even watched their program. I don't care about their marriages, their divorces, their babies, their clothing or lack thereof. I don't care about any of it!  I long for the day when the word "Kardashian" leaves our lexicon and we are all blissfully ignorant of their on-going drama.

And yes, that goes for Caitlyn too. 

Don't get me wrong, I support the LGBT and sometimes Y community.  Not financially or anything, but I'm all in favor of people being true to who they are and wearing what they want and feeling comfortable in their sparkly ball gowns and 5-inch-heels.  After all, what woman doesn't feel comfortable in 5-inch-heels?  If you "identify" as a hot-young super-model then more power to you, Caitlyn. If you can afford all manner of plastic surgeries to make your body fit who you are on the inside, then that is your right. 

But enough already.  In 2015 it seemed like Bruce Jenner was on the cover of People magazine every other week, more often than the royal family.  Then he became Caitlyn and there was another slew of cover stories about that.  For somebody who claims to be a private person, Caitlyn sure does put herself out there.  There was the prime time Diane Sawyer interview, the cover of Vanity Fair, and now Cait has her own reality show.  How private is that?

I'm not a hater.  I'm just not interested in this he-said/she-said bitch fest.  I would love it if I could have a day free of Jenners and Kardashians.  Is that too much to ask?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Miley Cyrus' Tongue

As a long time subscriber to People Magazine, I consider it to be a cut above the trashy tabloids. The reporting is accurate and attributed to reputable sources; they don't print rumors or speculate about cheating scandals or possible baby bumps. Even so, it must be a sign that I'm getting old or out of touch when I've never even heard of many of the "celebrities" they report on.

Then there are the really annoying "stars" that grace the cover and the pages of People all too often. The overabundance of coverage they give to some so-called celebs gets on my nerves. I'm sick of seeing them in People or anywhere else for that matter. The winner for most annoying, over exposed media darling is......

Miley Cyrus' Tongue:  With her money-making Disney persona, Hannah Montana, long dead, Miley wants to show off her body parts so everyone can see just exactly how grown up she is. None of her parts are more irritating than her tongue. Not even the twerking is as off-putting. For a self-professed grown-up, Miley sure does stick out her tongue a lot.

I for one am sick of seeing this tongue in photos. You can't open an issue of People without being subjected to Miley's pink appendage.  Keep it in your mouth, Miley!!

(Sidebar - if I ever did meet Miley, I would totally call her Hannah Montana just to mess with her)
Being that I am not a fan or a follower of Miley, I had no idea about the scope of this tongue problem. It's not just her go-to pose, it's a big deal.

She's in a short film called Tongue Tied which you can watch on-line, although I don't recommend it. Surprisingly, it doesn't feature her tongue as much as her other nearly naked body parts. Perv warning - it's not erotic, just weird. But then, if you're a perv you've already seen it and you're not reading this so.... never mind.

In her last world tour she even rode down a huge tongue slide protruding from a massive cartoon of her face. A tongue slide?  I had no idea.

Sticking her tongue out is Hannah's, I mean Miley's, signature move. A couple of year's ago Barbara Walters asked her, "why the tongue?" (I'm paraphrasing.)  She replied that she felt so embarrassed having her picture taken by so many paparazzi that she felt awkward and didn't know how to smile. Yeah, right.  Her name is a mispronunciation of Smiley (if memory serves). The most photographed woman of the 21st century and she feels awkward and embarrassed. Puh-leeze.

Now, the tongue has T-shirts and copycat selfies and an artist in Britain has painted a portrait of Miley using his own tongue as the brush. This tongue thing is bigger than all of us.  It's madness!

I envision a huge tongue coursing down the streets of New York, knocking over sky-scrapers, crushing cars and leaving a river of slobber in its wake. Innocent citizens will be running for their lives while the Avengers shake their fists at it and say, "We're not licked yet!"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Journey of 1000 Miles

You may have heard this inspirational phrase or seen it on a poster or a meme or on Pinterest:

 A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step ~ Laozi

You may think it's a quote from Confucius but, you would be wrong.  It's Laozi.  I know, I Googled it.
I have never found this quote to be inspiring.  What is the thinking here?  Oh, it's only one step.  I thought it was a whole lot more.  Well, sign me up for that 1000 mile journey then because the next 9,999,999 steps will be easy peasy. 
You heard right, it takes 10 million steps to go 1000 miles.  I did the math.  Why are we walking that distance anyway?  It's too far.  Let's take a plane. 
I think we should change the phrase to: 
A journey across the room begins with a single step

I realize this phrase is supposed to encourage people to try something new, to take that first step.  I however have always thought about the rest of the process - because I'm looking at the big picture.  How many false starts have you had?  I've had quite a few.  I take the first step and several more and find that I can not complete the journey so, this phrase does not do it for me.

People are always saying, "start something new." I say, "finish what you already started."

Speaking of 1000 miles, remember that song by the Proclaimers?  Those Scottish twins? 
I would walk 500 miles and
I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walked 1000 miles
To fall down at your door

That's a lot of walking.  And, if you now have that song stuck in your head, then my work here is done.  This will all have been worth it.