9 great Halloween books to read with your kids


Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

The one thing I try to do, even if I’ve failed at everything else for the day, is to read to the kids at night. And this is the fun time of year because between now and January, we have all kinds of holiday books to choose from.

There’s nothing better on a cold fall or winter’s night than cuddling up on the couch with a kid or two (or four…), a nice fluffy blanket, and a good book (ok, and maybe some pumpkin spice hot chocolate? Yes, that too.) Here are some of our favorites for Halloween.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything is a foot-stomping, hand-clapping, head-nodding bunch of fun. My kids love acting out the motions in this not-too-scary book by Linda Williams.

We love Farmer Brown and his animals, who have some definite un-barnyard-like antics. They’re back in Click, Clack, Boo! with more mischief. Written by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin.

It’s a monster! He gets bigger and bigger throughout the first half of the book, then slowly…disappears again. Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley is great fun, and will probably have your kids yelling at the monster before long.

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman and S. D. Schindler, is a great story about teamwork between a witch, a vampire, a mummy, and…a very small bat who turns out to be very important.

The Berenstain Bears Trick or Treat by Stan and Jan Berenstain is a great story about the beloved bear family and their adventures on Halloween night.

Just how much room does this witch have on her broom? Enough for some good friends, who work together to help her out of a jam. Room on the Broom is a funny, rhyming book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.

A great book for kids just venturing into chapter books — Nate the Great and the Halloween Hunt features one of our favorite pancake-loving detectives and his dog as they search for a lost dog and encounter some strangely dressed characters on Halloween.

It’s Halloween by Jack Prelutsky is full of silly poems and fun rhymes you’ll find yourself repeating even after you’ve finished reading it. Our personal favorite is “Skeleton Parade.”

Happy Halloween, Biscuit! by Alyssa Satin Capucilli is a good book for new readers just starting out. But kids who can’t yet read will still love the adventures of one of our favorite puppies.

What are your family’s favorite Halloween books? 

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.


Beware: Screaming pretzels (3 ingredients!)


Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

Halloween is just the best when you have kids.

We live in a neighborhood FULL of kids. They band together in groups, usually trailed by a gaggle of Ddads holding a cozy beverage or two. Kids in wagons. Kids on foot. Kids on golf carts. You name it, kids are everywhere.

Our house is a revolving door of kids throughout the night. They come in to go to the bathroom, to get some warm cider, to borrow some gloves, to grab a snack.

We came up with these salty sweet treats to set out for snacks this year. I’ll also put out some grapes and cheese/crackers, but our “sweets” are these adorable screaming pretzels. They couldn’t be easier and are perfect for little hands to help with. The less perfect they are, the better.

And with only three ingredients, these are guaranteed not to scare you away!

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

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Screaming Pretzels
I got my candy melts and candy eyes at Walmart in the cake decorating aisle. Also available at craft stores and Amazon. Get the biggest ones you can find so they don’t fall through the holes!

Pretzels – we use the Rold Gold Tiny Twists
Wilton candy melts in desired colors
Candy eyes

Melt candy melts according to package directions. (I add a tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil before melting to thin it just a bit. You want the mixture to only coat the pretzel and not the holes in it. If you find it’s too thick, add more oil, microwave for 10 seconds and stir.) Dip pretzels and shake to remove excess. Lay flat on wax paper or silpat. Place eyes on immediately. You can make as few or many as you like!

Get crafty and make these goofy witch pumpkins


Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

So you already know about my obsession with googly eyes. (Note to self: Begin brainstorming googly-eyed turkey crafts. And Christmas ideas. And Valentine’s Day cards…oh, the possibilities!)

Which means we had to make some googly-eyed witches for Halloween, of course.

witch pumpkins-pinterest


This is a simple craft, but you do have to allow some time for the paint and glue to dry. If you make them one day, they won’t really be ready until the next. But now that ours are finished, my daughter has named them and is carting them around the house, playing with them. A craft and a toy — we like multi-purpose objects.


  • small pumpkins (I think white pumpkins are a little easier to cover with paint)
  • black tempera or acrylic paint
  • paintbrushes
  • black cardstock or construction paper
  • glue
  • scissors
  • googly eyes (of COURSE)
  • foam shapes for noses and mouths
  • yarn


Paint your pumpkin and allow to dry. Cut a 12″x12″ piece of cardstock and roll it into a cone. Glue or tape the side. Trim the bottom so the cone is straight, making the top of the witch’s hat. Place your hat on the cardstock, and draw a circle around it, slightly larger than your cone. Cut the circle out and glue the cone on to make your hat. If you’d like, you can punch a hole in the bottom of the hat for the pumpkin stem to fit through.

glued hair

Cut some yarn strands for hair and glue them to the bottom of the hat. Put the hat on the pumpkin and trim the yarn to the length you like. We put a little glue on our hat so it wouldn’t come off the pumpkin as well.

gluing eyeballs

Glue on googly eyes. Add foam shapes for noses, mouths, or any other features you want.

Allow to dry, and then name your pumpkin and carry it around the house. Or just put it on a shelf as decoration. Your choice.

Photos courtesy Laura Falin

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.


Rosette Cookies for Halloween


Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

Have you ever had a Rosette cookie? They always remind me of Christmas as a kid when my Grandma Kae would unwrap her giant platter full of an assortment of homemade cookies. The Rosettes were always the first cookies to go. I never thought of them to be a Halloween cookie, until now. So, imagine how thrilled was I to find both Christmas and Halloween Rosette Irons at the thrift store?!


Thrilled if you dig words like: deep, fat, fried, crispy, and sugary. Uh-huh. Rosette making is a tricky thing, the temperature of the oil has to be just right, the irons have to be hot from the oil each time you dip it into the batter. Here’s the recipe for the batter:

2 large eggs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1½ qt vegetable oil
¼ cup confectioners sugar
Special equipment: a rosette iron

1. Whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, milk, and vanilla in a large bowl, then add flour and salt, whisking, until just combined (do not overmix, or cookies will blister).
2. Heat oil in a 3- to 4-quart heavy saucepan with rosette iron in it until thermometer registers 370 to 375°F. Carefully lift out iron, letting oil drip off into pan. Dip all but top edge of iron into batter 3 seconds, then submerge iron in oil and fry (batter adhering to iron) until golden, 35 to 40 seconds (do not let go of iron; cookie will shatter if it hits bottom of saucepan). Lift out iron, letting oil drip off, and, working over paper towels, carefully pry off rosette with a fork.
3. Let rosette drain, hollow side down, on paper towels, then make more rosettes in same manner, heating iron in oil 10 seconds before dipping it into batter each time.
4. Dust rosettes with confectioners sugar before serving.


Here are some helpful tips for making rosette cookies:

– Use a thermometer specifically made for the high oil temperatures. A deep fry thermometer that can remain in the oil works best, so you can continually monitor the temperature and adjust as needed.

– Use oil that will withstand the high temperature for prolonged periods of time, such as canola or peanut oils.

– Season the molds before using for the first time. Following the basic instructions in our Seasoning tutorial, you’ll get the best results by putting them on a pan or cookie sheet in the oven, or, alternately, by keeping them dipped in 350°F oil for about 15 minutes.

– When using shell-type rosettes, leave the mold in the batter long enough to give the cup a chance to form. It must be solid enough to fill with your favorite garnishment.

– To make crispier rosettes, cover and refrigerate the batter at least 2 hours before using.

– Important: Do not cover entire mold with batter, or the cookie will get stuck on the mold. Only allow the batter to cover ¾ of the way up the mold.

– If excess batter adheres to the top of the mold, use a knife to remove the excess, then cook as usual.

– If the batter does not adhere to the mold, check the temperature of the oil. For best results, keep the oil at 365°F.

– Rosettes can be stored in airtight containers for months. They also can be frozen, ready for any occasion. If needed, re-crisp in minutes in a 300°F oven.

– These cookies freeze really well too.

I’m curious, have you had or made Rosettes before?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

6 crafty kids’ costumes you can make with a cardboard box


Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

When the kids and I start talking Halloween costumes each year, I remind them of two things.

1.) I like to think of myself as crafty, but I don’t actually have a lot of crafty skills like sewing, or woodworking, or painting well. I’m a good faker. I like to look at things other people have done and try to figure out how to do it more easily. A costume hacker? I think I’m a costume hacker.

2.) I’m cheap. I’m a cheapskate. I don’t want to pay a lot for Halloween costumes.

So cardboard box costumes are my jam, y’all.



6 crafty kids costumes you can make from a cardboard box

I actually had to make that Steve box head twice because we loaded it into the back of the car after the school Halloween parade, and it promptly fell out, unnoticed and never to be seen again. And my poor boy was so distraught that I made another one.

6 crafty kids costumes you can make from a cardboard box

That is my instagram shot from last year and I will not tell you how much wine was left by the end (#Halloweenessentials #dontjudgeme). But the point is — it was simple enough to make that I did two.

Here are a few more excellent ideas for simple, inexpensive Halloween costumes that use cardboard boxes.

An awesome Rubix cube costume from Mitzi at Written Reality — I love this! You could make it a little easier and do a straight-up box, but the twisty parts are extra cool.

Steve from Minecraft only takes one box and a blue shirt (and some foam core if you want to make a sword and pickax). I made this costume last year following this tutorial from Kerry Ann Morgan.

Ana at Mommy’s Bundle did a Frankenstein mask. Great for kids who might not want a whole bulky cardboard costume.

I can’t paint…or draw…or sew…very well but I can duct tape the heck outta stuff. The Lego minifig costume I made a few years ago is mostly duct taped, with a painted yellow head. I got the idea here but I skipped the complicated styrofoam parts and just made him a little less rounded. You do what you can, you know?

Maggy at Red Ted Art made this great costume for her Box Trolls-obsessed child. Cute, quick, and easy to make!

This Mater costume might be my favorite of all the ones I’ve made! It takes a wee bit of time, but it doesn’t require any particular skill and my kids loved it. I wrote up a tutorial here for how to make your own Mater.

Do you make your kids’ costumes? Any tips to keep it simple and stress-free?

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

Homemade mac ‘n cheese with chicken and broccoli


Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

If you’re looking for a home run in the dinner department, here’s your winner winner (chicken) dinner. I actually LOVE this meal, but it’s may be high on my list because it’s a favorite of everyone in my family and it’s really darn simple. Also, it’s a complete meal-in-a-bowl with grain, protein and a veggie all included.

Here’s the important thing…two of my three kids do NOT like broccoli. But they do like broccoli covered in cheese. So even if your brood turns their nose up at broccoli, give it a try because this may be your best friend. Also, for some reason this is way more popular when I use the shell pasta vs. any other pasta. Go figure. The shells are what make it “mac and cheese” to my kids, vs. “some weird pasta” I’m trying to poison them with.

I usually have leftover cooked chicken breast in my fridge or freezer. If you don’t, no biggie — this is great without it too. You can also cut up a rotisserie chicken and call it good.

I make this pretty frequently and I have never had any leftovers for the next day. There’s my sales pitch, right?


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Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

Homemade Mac ‘n Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

8 ounces medium shell pasta
3 cups broccoli, chopped into florets
2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch teaspoon salt
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Cook pasta according to package directions. Add broccoli during last 2-3 minutes of cook time. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add flour and cooking, stirring, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk and chicken broth and season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is bubbling and thickened. Remove from heat and add cheddar cheese. Stir until melted.

Add the drained pasta, broccoli, and chicken and stir to combine. If sauce becomes too thick, add milk as needed to thin.

Serves 5-6.

9 families who nailed their Halloween costumes


Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

I have so many thoughts for my kids’ Halloween costumes.

Since there are four of them, I have all kinds of ideas for group costumes — Goldilocks and the three bears. The three little pigs and the big, bad wolf. The four kids from the Chronicles of Narnia. And usually my kids shut me down. They all want to be different things.

But one year — one year they all humored me, along with my husband. Especially my husband. He gets teased at work all the time for looking like Gru from Despicable Me, so one year…we had to.


He was a very good sport about it (sidenote: Will no one stand still long enough for me to take one stinking picture? Apparently not.)

So. To inspire you this year, here are a few more families seriously rocking their group costumes. And since I’m not a sew-er or a complicated costume maker, most of these are ones that can be made pretty easily. You still have time!

The Girl Scout leader in me loves this, and the wagon is genius for tired little trick-or-treaters. Adorable s’mores from the Smittcamp family.

You could do The Flintstones with very little (or no!) sewing. Use a combination of normal clothes and felt, which you can just cut and glue together. Fake it, my friends.

 Pulling Curls has a whole host of family costumes to check out. And I’ve wanted to be Wonder Woman since I was five. I think this might be my year.

Timely. And I’d wear that shirt all year. The dragon costumes were purchased, in this case, and well worth it, I think. A great idea from Baby Birds Farm.

You know what I love most about the Clarks Condensed family pumpkin patch? When you have a newborn, you can’t be putting uncomfortable costumes on them. She uses normal infant pajamas or a bodysuit and a little hat (and as mama to a new baby, you probably don’t want big, complicated costumes either!)

Jolly and Happy featured the Inside Out crew one year. So cute!

I love this family and I love this costume! The Housewife Hellraiser’s family as KISS kids…(see all that snow behind them? That’s Halloween in Colorado for you)

I love Sara’s bug costumes — their family does theme costumes every year and I might already be stalking her Facebook page for this Halloween. Slacker mom tip: If you can’t sew the cape or bee costumes, try solid color yellow and red shirts with black fabric paint, or even duct tape cut into stripes and dots. Trust me, it works.

My minions. I knit these hats, but you can find minion snow hats easily, and then you not only have your costumes, but your hats for the winter as well.

Have you ever done family costumes? I’d love to hear your ideas! 

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.

Harvest kale salad with honey-ginger dressing


Lindsay Weiss

posted in Life & Home

Kale is one of those superfoods you want in your diet. It’s also one of those foods that needs a little help to be delicious. I love it in salads because it’s such a sturdy green that really holds up to dressing. And it’s the dressing that makes this stuff palatable, in my opinion. A good dressing does wonders for kale.

This is a great fall twist on a kale salad. Add some crunchy honeycrisp apples (which are a great combo of tangy and sweet) and a killer honey-ginger-soy dressing. Throw on some toasted sesame seeds for flavor and texture and you have the perfect accompaniment to any meal.

Kale by itself? Meh. Kale with apples and this awesome dressing. Yes.

Looking for more Sweets and Eats for the Whole Family? Find Lindsay at Sugar Mama.

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Harvest Kale Salad with Honey-Ginger Dressing
Toasting the sesame seeds is super easy — just throw ’em right in a small pan and turn on the heat until they brown slightly. Stir a few times. That’s it.

1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons sriracha
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

For the salad:
6 ounces kale, from a bag or bunch
2 medium honeycrisp apples, chopped bite-size
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

For the salad dressing, combine rice vinegar, honey, soy, ginger, sriracha, garlic, olive oil and pepper and whisk til smooth

Place apples and kale in a large serbinv bowl and toss. Drizzle salad with about 1/4 cup of the dressing. Toss to coat everything with the dressing. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Sprinkle salad with sesame seeds and toss one more time. Serve extra dressing at the table.

Serves 6.

DIY spooky Halloween wreath


Kami Bigler

posted in Life & Home

Are you a fan of holiday decorating? I know some people that skip the “lesser” holidays and just stick with Christmas, but I just love Halloween so much I have to get all festive for it. In fact, I probably start decorating a little too early for it, but how can you blame a girl?! When do you bring out the Halloween decor?


Here’s a fun spooky wreath I made for our front door. Pretty basic, but sometimes the more simple something is, the more I like it. I used some paper cutting dies, but it would be so easy to trace out a little ghost and bat yourself. If you’re not comfortable sketching them on your own, I’m sure you can google them pretty easily. I bet there are tons of free downloads available online. Or, if you’d rather something other than bats and ghosts you could do little pumpkins or witch hats or skeletons. Really the possibilities are endless.

To make a wreath like this, I just used a basic grapevine wreath, and some colored card stock. Bonus: the supplies are really inexpensive. In fact, you can get a grapevine wreath like this one at most dollar stores. As for the card stock, if you don’t already have some on hand, then just ask a friend. Any self respecting crafter has tons of that stuff just laying around 😉


I’m loving the bat! I love how they are 3 dimensional. A good ole accordion fold can add so much to something and it’s so easy to do!

So, are you a Halloween decorator?

*For more craft tutorials, great recipes, free printables, fun giveaways, and real life you can follow Kami at NoBiggie.net, or find her on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

Make spooky gingerbread houses with your kids


Laura Falin

posted in Life & Home

We’re indulging our Halloween sweet tooth once more around here. Because candy corn. And frosting. And chocolate, amen.

Halloween gingerbread house-pinterest

The beauty of these Halloween houses is that haunted houses are supposed to be crooked and tipsy and sketchy-looking. So off-center candy and wonky frosting and walls that aren’t straight are a-ok around here. This is good, because often when I do projects with my kids, I have an idea of how I want it to turn out and they have an idea of how they want it to turn out and neither of our ideas match. And then I have to remember who I’m really doing all this for and back off a little.


Which is why we have candy corn in a perfectly good and spooky graveyard. Must…let…that…go. This parenting thing is hard sometimes.

April decorating house

To make your own Halloween house, or graveyard (with or without candy corn), or pumpkin patch, here’s what you’ll need:


  • 1 box chocolate graham crackers
  • 1 box square cookies (for the tombstones — we used Keebler Delux Grahams, but anything square will work)
  • candy corn and candy pumpkins
  • orange frosting
  • green frosting
  • orange icing (you can buy in the cake decorating aisle, or spoon some frosting into a plastic baggie, cut one corner off, and squeeze frosting out)
  • white icing


So pick and choose which parts of this you want to do — you can do all…or just one.

For the graveyard:

Place two whole chocolate graham crackers together and cover with green frosting. Outline your square cookies with white icing. Stick the square cookies so they’re standing up in the green “grass.”

pumpkin patch

For the pumpkin patch:

Place two whole chocolate graham crackers together and cover with green frosting. Place your pumpkins all over. You could use green icing to make vines and leaves if you’re feeling especially crafty!

featured pic

For the house:

Take two whole chocolate graham crackers. Turn them sideways and coat the bottom side with frosting, to help them stick to your surface. Stand them up parallel to each other to make the two sides of your house. Take one more graham cracker and break it in two to use as walls on each end of your house. Lay one half of a graham cracker over the back of your house. Take one more graham cracker and break it in two. Cover one side of each with frosting, and place the two together in front to make a peaked roof. You may have to hold them for a minute or two to help them stick. We also piped some orange icing along the rooftop, which helps even more. Decorate your house with candy corn and orange icing.

My sweet, cheerful six-year old then demanded we make some gingerbread zombies to live in the house. Um…I’ll get back to you when I’ve figured that out.

For more fun Halloween ideas, try one of these:

Photos courtesy Laura Falin

For more kids’ activities and easy recipes, you can find Laura at Peace but not Quiet, and on facebook and Pinterest.