I confess that while I love to cook and bake I’m not the craftiest of moms. But somehow when Halloween rolls around I’m inspired to create spooky creatures out of cookies, marshmallows, candy, and chocolate. I still want it to be easy, though, since my crafting skills (and patience) leave a lot to be desired.
I suspect Christi Farr Johnstone had moms like me in mind when she wrote her new book Smart Cookie: Transform Store-Bought Cookies Into Amazing Treats. All of her goodies look amazing, but seem completely doable thanks to the fact that we’re starting with store-bought components. And, while I’m a bake-from-scratch kind of girl most of the year, on holidays I can get into the store-bought fun of it all especially when the result will be something that delights my daughter.
Christi kindly shared the recipe for one of Smart Cookie’s signature Halloween goodies. With only four ingredients and an active time of mere minutes these are my kind of treat.
Along Came a Spider
Black licorice laces (about 16 feet long)
12 chocolate sandwich cookies
1 cup white candy coating
24 candy eyeballs
- Cut the licorice into 48 strips, each approximately 4 inches in length.
- Gently twist open the chocolate sandwich cookies.
- Place four licorice strips onto the side of the sandwich cookie with the filling, and press gently into the filling.
- Prepare the candy coating according to package directions. Working one cookie at a time, spoon approximately 1 to 2 teaspoons of the candy coating on top of the licorice strips and cookie filling. Place the top back on the sandwich cookie.
- With a spoon, place a small amount of candy coating on top of the sandwich cookies where the spider eyes will be placed. Immediately place two candy eyeballs onto the candy coating. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Allow to dry for at least 2 hours.
Makes 12 cookies
Reprinted with permission from Smart Cookie © 2014 Christi Farr Johnstone, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group
Get more recipes for fun Halloween treats.
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Ashley Brickner and her family
Here’s the newest installment of a brand new series from the Parents beauty department about mommy bloggers. Each installment will feature what beauty means to real moms no matter what their beauty routine is like—and how they take time to themselves after having children.
For one Real Glam Mom, her blog is like an online scrapbook for her child. Ashley Brickner, created Words About Waverly for her 2-year-old daughter Waverly Maye to look back on one day “to see what her childhood was like and the fun things [they] did.” With a fashion marketing teacher as a mom, Waverly has had quite a chicly dressed childhood. I even envy some of her outfits! This week, we caught up with Ashley to learn more about how she keeps Waverly busy when she’s doing her makeup and her favorite hair products.
What is your beauty routine like?
I do the Proactiv three-step routine each morning and evening—either as soon as I wake up or right before I go to sleep. I find that I see a change in my skin immediately if I miss a couple days or if I forget to take off my makeup. Makeup is the quickest part of my routine. I take about 10 minutes in the morning and use mostly MAC products. My hair is long and thick, so it definitely takes the longest. I dry my hair at night and curl it in the mornings using a wand to create textured waves.
How has your beauty routines changed since you had Waverly?
Definitely the time. I have way less time to focus on getting myself ready these days. I find that breaking up my routine—drying my hair at night, curling it in the morning—helps to get it done. Also, I try to distract my daughter BEFORE I begin by pulling out her books or giving her an assortment of her “own” makeup, which is really just all my old packages that I have already used.
The importance of taking time to yourself is… HUGE. This is my biggest challenge as a mom—especially a working mom. I have a complete type-A personality and have always found it hard to relax. Yet ultimately, I am a better mother when I take the time for myself as I am rejuvenated to really focus on my daughter when I am with her.
The best beauty advice I’ve ever received is… to take care of my skin—especially as I get older. I have fair skin, and when in the sun, I always wear sunscreen and stay away from tanning beds. I also aim to follow my skin care routine each day. It can be a pain, but I know how important it is!
Do you have any beauty advice for moms?
Don’t lose your sense of style or feeling good about yourself. I still take pride in my appearance—most days!—because I feel I do better and am more motivated when I look my best.
Has your daughter ever commented on your makeup or beauty routine?
YES! She becomes more interested in it all the time, which makes me very happy! She loves to brush her hair, watch me put on makeup, and imitate what I do. I love buying her accessories and her own “makeup” tools to play with.
WORDS ABOUT WAVERLY’S FIVE FAVES
1. Proactive+: It has always worked for me since high school, and I see a difference in my skin when I don’t use it.
2. MAC Prep + Prime: I use this before I put on my foundation, and it is SUCH a difference maker, makes my skin soft, and the foundation go on more smoothly.
3. Target Makeup Remover Wipes: Great for getting off all your makeup and making your skin feel clean and refreshed.
4. Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Shampoo & Conditioner: Cheap and effective! I have never found it worthwhile to spend a lot of money of shampoo and conditioner.
5. Essie nail polish in Chinchilly: Essie is my favorite brand of nail polish. As a mom, I don’t have the time for manicures anymore, so this is the next best thing!
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Roll up your little ones’ sleeves because we’ve rounded up some of our favorite make-at-home treats that are spooky and scrumptious.
Brand Castle Crispy Rice Pumpkin Kit
Make your pumpkin and eat it too! It only took us 35 minutes from set up to clean up to create six individual treats, and kids will love decorating their pumpkins with the green and black icing provided in the kit.
Available for purchase in-store only at Walmart and select Christmas Tree Shops.
Crypt Keeper Crescents
This delicious recipe is no longer under wraps. All you need is Nutella, bananas and Pillsbury Crescent dough to make this sweet twist on pigs in a blanket.
Get the recipe via Our Best Bites.
Photo courtesy of Pillsbury.com.
Harry & David Caramel Apple Kit
A splurge item at $34.95, this is a DIY-kit that’s just as much fun to look at as it is to make. Locked inside magical-looking spellbook box are fresh, in-season apples from the Pacific Northwest, ready-to-melt caramels and also cashews and mini chocolate candies that your little ones can use to make their treat one of a kind.
Order your kit online here.
Chex Mix Recipes: Deviled Chex Mix and Iced Pumpkin Chex Mix
One is sweet and the other is salty. Offer kids the Deviled mix – just in case they get tired of devouring all of that sugary candy. And satisfy sweet teeth even more with the Iced Pumpkin, which includes real pumpkin to get an authentic flavor.
Get the Deviled recipe here and the Iced Pumpkin one here, via Chex.com.
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Haunted Cookie Cups
When you use Nestlé’s premade cookie dough this treat is a snap to make – just bake and decorate. Warning: These little ghosts may just fly off your countertops!
Try out this recipe below:
- 1 package (16.5 oz.) Nestlé Toll House Refrigerated Chocolate Chip Cookie Bar Dough
- 1 container (8 oz.) frozen light whipped topping
- 1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
- 48 (about 1 teaspoon) Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels
- 24 (about 1 tablespoon) Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 24 mini-muffin cups. Place one square of cookie dough into each cup.
- Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. With tip of butter knife, remove cookie cups from muffin pan. Arrange on serving platter.
- Fill plastic bag with whipped topping; seal. Cut ½-inch from corner of bag. Squeeze bag lightly to pipe whipped topping on top of cookie cup to form ghost shape. Position two mini morsels as eyes and one regular size morsel as a mouth on each ghost. Serve immediately or store refrigerated for up to 2 hours.
We got to squeeze in a quick chat with Erica Hill, who between being a weekend TODAY anchor and mom of two boys, is training for the New York City Marathon on November 2nd, with a very dear person in mind. Go, Erica!
You’ve run two marathons but this is your first time running New York—and your first marathon after having kids. How would you compare where you are now, fitness-wise, to where you were pre-kids?
I’m 38 and I’m in better shape now than when I was 25. I think it’s because I have to be more committed than I was in my freewheeling twenties. I have to not just consider my schedule, but also my kids’, my husband’s, and work’s. Like any parent, for me it’s not just about “you” anymore. Being a mom has forced me to be more focused, and exercise has become more purposeful: Running for me has become my therapy. I feel like it gives me a break. I’m a more patient parent when I’ve had time to run.
How do you make time to train?
When I wanted to do the marathon, I told my husband and he said, “Absolutely. I support you.” I needed his support, and my sons’, because training is a huge time commitment. Mondays and Tuesdays are my weekends, and I do my longest training run of the week then. [Erica's last training run was over 20 miles.] I get up at 4:45 a.m. and I start that long run in the dark, but then what’s nice is I get home in time to bring my boys to school.
Have you always been a runner?
When I was in high school I ran, but I didn’t really consider myself a runner until the past six months or so.
But you’ve completed two marathons!
I have run two, but not well! It always seemed everyone else knew what they were doing. I’d say I’ve become more of a runner since joining a group a friend of mine, Nicole Burke, started in support of another friend of ours, Liz Shuman, who has cystic fibrosis (CF), OutRUN38. It has a Facebook page and members can log their running miles–or walking or biking or swimming miles—to help raise awareness for CF. And once you’ve logged onto this great group with all this community support you’ve made a decision: I am a runner. It’s a mindset: I’m going to be good at this, I’m doing this for my family, and I’m sending a good message to my kids of being healthy.
What do you love about running?
No matter where I am, I run. When I travel, I love to run because I think it’s a great way to see a city. With my friends it’s a social thing—we talk and we solve the world’s problems on our runs. When my older son was old enough to get in the jogging stroller, I could have him go with me. We would have fun chatting and then he’d fall asleep and I got in anywhere from three to six miles while he napped. What I love about running is that all you need to do to get ready is to put on your shoes and go.
We hear you’re running for a special cause?
Yes, I’m running with Fred’s Team [Memorial Sloan Kettering’s athletic fundraising team] in honor of and in memory of my dad.
What are you looking forward to most about the NYC marathon?
I’m kind of emotional about it. I’ve heard there are lengths of this course where there are just thousands of spectators cheering the runners on, so part of me feels like I’m going to be carried on this incredible wave of love and support. My mom, my dad’s sister, and a lot of friends are coming in to cheer me on. I’m just looking forward to seeing my husband, my sons, and my mom at the finish and knowing I’ve done it. Once I get that medal, I don’t think I’m going to want to take it off!
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In case you haven’t been counting down, there are officially 10 days until Halloween. Halloween was one of my favorite holidays as a child because I loved dressing up and the mild weather in California (usually) made for a nice night. However, my friends and I usually didn’t do the typical door-to-door trick-or-treating. We found we had better luck going to the stores at the mall instead, and our parents took us out to dinner afterwards, which was probably the highlight of the whole night. After all, it was kind of strange to be asking for candy at Banana Republic.
Even though our ‘hood wasn’t up to par, some, if not most, blocks are definitely worth taking a walk around for sweets. And Nextdoor is making the traditional trick-or-treating experience easier than ever with its new digital Treat Map, which we think is so cool that we featured it in our October issue. Here’s how it works: If your neighborhood is participating this year, your family will be able to see which neighbors are planning on giving out candy and map out your path accordingly. The screenshot on the right shows what it looks like on an iPhone. You can also send a private message to your block to organize other fun festivities such a a costume contest or a haunted house crawl. It’s networking just for your neighbors. I like how it fosters a sense of community and encourages people to stick around for Halloween instead of, say, venturing to the mall.
To celebrate this amazing feature, Nextdoor is giving away a $500 gift card towards a neighborhood party. To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and the end of the day October 27. View the official rules here. Be sure to check back on October 28 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well. Goody luck and happy trick-or-treating to everyone!
Plus: Decorate your home with this cute Halloween spider craft.
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For Josh Duhamel, it all comes back to being a parent. Whether it’s getting involved with Unilever’s child hunger campaign, Project Sunlight, or raising his son Axl with wife, Fergie being a dad has affected his perspective. Here at Parents.com we recently had the chance to chat with him about everything he has going on these days.
“It’s really about making a brighter future for children,” he shared about his work with Unilever. “And that never meant more than it does now to me because you just see things differently as a parent.”
But between that and his new movie and TV roles, you might be wondering how he has time for it all – don’t worry, we are too!
“Pretty much everything revolves around scheduling time to be with the fam,” he said.
To get the full scoop on some of his new projects and what he thinks of raising a toddler, watch the whole interview here:
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For every obscure Halloween costume that you spot, there will be dozens of witches and pumpkins—and this year, Elsas—ringing your doorbell. We asked Chasing Fireflies for the most popular costume trends this season, and here are their top five:
1. Frozen Can’t let go (ha!) of the popular movie? Dress your little Elsa, Anna, or Olaf in one of these costumes! Oh, and here’s more Elsa. And more Elsa. And, not kidding, even adult Elsa.
2. Ninjas and warriors, for girls and boys Both genders will get a kick out of these elaborate getups–whether they’re scary, glittery, silky, or studded.
3. Glamour and movie stars She’ll be ready for a walk down the red carpet when she dons a glam dress. Her toughest decision will be choosing between silver and pink!
4. Food Trick-or-treat! These candy-themed fairy and princess looks are certainly appropriate for the occasion. And this all reminds us of our own Parents candy rapper costumes!
5. Baby animals These pig and chick costumes are too cute. Plus, check out our ideas for homemade costumes!
Get in the spirit! Your child will enjoy this paper pumpkin craft:
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As fun as it is to shop till you drop, being a mom means that other endeavors often take priority (someone has to buy all those groceries!). While online shopping is super simple, it can still be just as expensive as heading to the mall (we’ve all thought, “I’ll just add one more item to my cart to reach the free shipping mark,” haven’t we?) However, several sites make shopping for clothing and gifts easy and inexpensive…what could be better?!
Poshmark This is one of the many buy-and-sell sites that allows individuals to list items from their own closet and shop others’ wardrobes. It’s easy to search by brand, size, style, price, you name it–whether you’re looking for an outfit for an upcoming baby shower or bridal brunch or just need some new day-to-day wear, it’s likely you’ll find what you need on the site! I’ve purchased items from brands including Ann Taylor LOFT, J.Crew, and Francesca’s Collections at much cheaper than retail price–and you can always try to bargain with a seller to further reduce a listing. Bonus: Poshmark offers kids clothes, too.
Etsy You’re probably familiar with the site in some form, but the next time you’re shopping for a great teacher gift or holiday accessory, look no further! Etsy offers tons of customizable options (perfect for that monogram-obsessed friend), and it’s also a great place to purchase affordable, clever art prints without scrolling from one website to another. You know that gallery wall has been calling your name for months!
Goodwill Did you know the famous secondhand store has a website? Of course, the shopping experience will be a little different than your normal on-site treasure-hunting expeditions, but you can still purchase items across a variety of categories. Bonus: no need to lug everything home as you would in person! This is a great site to check out if you’re searching for a vintage product or home good.
Shopping for a wee one? We have tips for buying baby clothes on a budget?
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