Tag Archives: Halloween

Happy Daylight Savings Day!

Happy Daylight Savings Day! And good morning to those of you with small children.

Please know that Swiss Mountain Dogs with a precise feeding schedule share your child’s excitement for the 6:00 hour. May you be blessed with a short nap at some point today.

So how many Elsa’s did you count on Friday? I was going to attempt the Elsa-spotting drinking game but then I remembered I wasn’t in college and had to go back to work for the rest of the day. Regardless I had a count of 8.

8 Elsas. If that sounds low to you it’s because it is. My sister said Jake had 5 Elsas in his class alone. I even bought enough candy for 250 Elsas, but apparently living behind a gate and between two family-friendly streets only gets you a handful of trick-or-treaters. Either that or the cold really did bother them anyway.

I guess a low of 65 will do that to Floridians.

bears family, chicago bears costume, pet costume, football player, swiss mountain dog, swissy, greater swiss, Finn

Disclaimer: When the home team is playing far worse than the Bears in an off-year, no one will heckle you for your last-minute Halloween costume.

pet costume, halloween, swiss mountain dog, bernese mountain dog, football player, greater swiss, finn

But as Cubs fans say, there’s always next year. And next year when that little 4-year -old Luigi walks right past and tells us he’s already had enough candy for this year, I will chase him down, shove a king-size Snickers in his tiny plastic pumpkin and tell him there’s no such thing as too much Halloween candy. Never give up kid. Never give up.

But I digress.

It did cool down ever so slightly this week so I decided to try out a new chili recipe. I was getting a few complaints from a certain someone who will now be my certain someone from this day forward that my go-to chili recipe didn’t have any meat in it so I experimented a little for this one. Fortunately it worked.

pumpkin steak chili, taste of home, chili recipes, fall recipes, dinner, dutch oven, quick chili recipe

I sort of loosely based it off of this recipe from Taste of Home but I’ve found that with chili you have a little more wiggle room on ingredients so don’t be afraid to try something new.

Pumpkin Steak Chili


  • 2 center-cut high-quality sirloins, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • chili sauce (garlic chili sauce and cholula)
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 C canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder

In a dutch oven, saute onions until transparent. Add chopped steak and cook until browned. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Add spices and chili sauce to taste and water to thin. Simmer for at least an hour. Add a bay leaf to bring up the flavor.

pumpkin steak chili, taste of home, chili recipes, fall recipes, dinner, dutch oven, quick chili recipeServe with chopped avocado, crackers or smoked shreddd gruyere cheese. Add more hot sauce.




What music do mummies listen too?

Wrap Music.

This Halloween joke was brought to you by Brent J. from Upper Arlington, Ohio

Thanks Brent!

I apologize for my blog infrequency but you know I’m not one to miss a holiday so it’s only fitting that I bring it back for one of my favorites.

I love Halloween. I would say it’s my favorite holiday but I say that about every holiday so I doubt you would believe me if I did.

Halloween is totally my favorite holiday.

I’m the kind of girl who gets into the spirit by making an entire batch of chocolate covered pretzels 7 days ago only to find out that Halloween was not for another week.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

Speaking of spirits.

Why do ghosts make good cheerleaders?

Because they have a lot of spirit.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

I found these googlie eyes a few weeks back and couldn’t get the idea of googlie-eyed ghosts out of my head ever since.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

If you were ever wondering where I get ideas for things to make, the above statement about sums it up. There’s really no planning involved. An idea comes out of nearly nowhere and once it’s in my head I can’t get rid of it until the sugar cookie dough has set, the royal icing has been mixed and the googlie eyes placed. It’s a blessing and a curse really.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

I won’t get into the recipes as I broke them down in this post, but just know that if you want a soft and chewy royally-iced goblin, you are going to need a few hours of outlining time.

royal icing, sugar cookies, halloween, iced ghost sugar cookies, halloween dessert, cookies, sugar cookies, goblin cookies, halloween treats

And outlining time takes away from what the heck are we going to dress up as this year time so I’m off to figure that out.

What do you call a ghost’s mother and father?


A Halloween Hangover

Happy day after Halloween to you all! If you have children, I hope you didn’t steal too much of their candy last night “for the sake of their health.” For those of you that did, I suggest a supervised withdrawal action plan that involves adding a Snickers bar to each meal to avoid crashes throughout the day. We’re in this together folks.

I realize November 1 often (OK, always) comes the day after Halloween but it’s especially jarring this year as I suddenly feel like I have to toss my candy corn (in more ways than one) and start thinking about turkeys already.

Halloween is becoming one of my favorite seasons of the year and I’m not ready for it to be over yet. I realize for some it’s just a day but if you don’t think it’s a season, just try to go into Target mid-August and NOT buy a bag of candy corn.  

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Halloween as a child, too. That probably has something to do with it. If you were scared by say a creepy BOZO wanna-be at a very young age you might have a different opinion. But for me Halloween was a day when my creepy, dark and damp childhood basement finally found use as a fun haunted house for our neighborhood friends. A day when I entered a costume contest as a bag of jelly beans only to realize I couldn’t use the bathroom or sit down until the voting closed that afternoon. And a day when my older sister actually agreed to share with me likely only because she hated my favorite kinds of candy.

OK fine. I‘ll trade you two Reeses for two, two-packs of Starbursts.

Deal! (opens Starburst packages and of course finds two yellows in each pack)

No fair! Do you take returns? 

There was a brief hiatus on Halloween in high school when sports took over most of our lives, but college brought it back with an onslaught of themed parties and exchanges. Golf pros. Tennis hoes. You get the idea. 

So that brings us to the present day and for the first time in a long time I’m going to credit Facebook for helping renew my love of something. Previously, on a post-Halloween morning, my newsfeed was filled with enough “sexy” versions of career paths to fill a job fair. I’m happy to report that over the last few years those photos are increasingly being replaced with cute babies and toddlers dressed as monkeys.

boy costume halloween simply social blog

I don’t think I’m alone in my love for Facebook’s costume extravaganza. After all, Halloween is a time where creativity is celebrated. Homemade costumes are awesome, nostalgic ones even better and you get a king size Butterfinger for those costumes that don’t make any sense until you really think about it. Like this one. or this one. Pop-culture references are fun but don’t seem to mean as much after the hype has gone away. And I’m not just saying that because my Supermarket Sweep couples costume lost out to a now-forgotten Eastbound and Down star at the 2nd Annual Bensko Halloween Bash.

halloween costume double dare supermarket sweep simply social blog

I don’t yet have a child to dress up as a monkey but this year I managed to go against everything I stand for in terms of dressing up your pet for a chance to catch Finn in the homemade moose antlers I made him. He was an elusive moose, that Finn.

greater swiss mountain dog moose antler costume

I thought it was fitting because he is awkwardly tall and clumsy. He chewed them off approximately 5 seconds after this photo was taken, but as of this morning, Finn the Moose has more likes on Facebook than a marathon finisher. And with a lot less effort!

It’s not just the costumes that make me love Halloween. It’s the chance to celebrate. The chance to build a sense of community through a shared interest. The chance to share food and treats with people you care about. The connection it brings to friends, family and complete strangers as people who may not otherwise interact share funny stories, compliments and lighthearted jokes.

It’s also an excuse for me to bake something. I ran out of time to do my traditional treat bags this year but I did manage to get a batch of thumbprint cookies out the door in time for work. So to wrap up the longest Halloween post ever, here’s a recipe for holiday thumbprint cookies adapted from this recipe.

orange and black halloween thumbprint cookies, simply social blog

Halloween Thumbprint Cookies

  • ½ C unsalted butter
  • ½ C sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 TBL pure vanilla extract
  • 2½ C all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Holiday colored sprinkles
  • Orange is the new black candy melts

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a stand mixer, mix butter and sugar until creamy. Add one egg at a time. Add vanilla.

Mix dry ingredients into wet until combined. Refrigerate dough for an hour.

Fill a small glass bowl with sprinkles. Line jelly roll pan with silpat.

Using a cookie scoop, scoop a teaspoon-sized piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Roll dough in sprinkles. Place dough onto baking mat and press center down with the back of a 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon. (tip: use non-stick spray on spoon if it gets sticky)

Place cookies in oven for 10 minutes. Remove just before they are done and place candy melt in center. Let cook for 1-2 more minutes until candy melts start to glisten.

Let cool on pan and then wire rack. Take a photo while it’s pouring outside and there’s no natural light to add a spooky orange Halloween vibe to your cookies.

halloween thumbprint cookies, simply social blog

If you’re wondering what I wore this year, we didn’t have any parties but my Yoga studio was encouraging costumes and I am not one to show up unprepared so I wore bears (bear ears) to my yoga class. If you don’t get it with that clue, see below.

Yogi Bear halloween costume

Part Yogi part Bear. Just missing the pic-a-nic basket!

I hope you had a fun-filled holiday. Here’s to the next one, which is right around the corner!

The Great Amazing Pumpkin Race

I’d say we are about due for a happy weekend wrap-up post, aren’t we?

Hit it.

I had a hard time excepting that fall had arrived until this weekend. I’ll admit, I was a little bitter at the lack of summer weather we experienced here in Chicago and I just wasn’t ready for a change in season yet. Fall is my favorite time of year so normally I can’t wait to buy stock in pumpkin and place it into every possible food, drink and decor imaginable. I’ll admit I was a little bitter until this past weekend.

I now realize fall has arrived and I’m welcoming it with open arms.

So I jumped into it head first and I’m not looking back. This weekend I:

Bought my first bag of candy corn.

candy corn dish halloween simply social blog

Lord help me. 

Ate my first pumpkin scone while visiting the farmer’s market with my mom.

pumpkin farmers market springfield illinois simply social blog

I forgot how good those things are.

Found out what my nephews are going to dress up as everyday from now until Halloween.

owen and jake spiderman captain america costume halloween boys

Did you know pizza tastes better when it’s made by superheroes? 

And finally, I checked ‘visit a pumpkin patch’ off my fall bucket list.

bomke's patch, pumpkin, simply social blog

My sister and I made the most of a beautiful fall Sunday and took my nephews to nearby Bomke’s Patch for the afternoon. It’s not far from where my mom lives and is run by a family that went to my high school. Living in Chicago for a number of years now has made me realize how much I miss things like pumpkin patches and tree farms. It sounds cliché, but being able to walk into an open field, yank a pumpkin from it’s stem (yes, yank because Jake wouldn’t give up the “snippers”) you appreciate the pumpkin so much more.

bomke's patch, pumpkin, simply social blog,

And just like their momma, my country pumpkins have found their place in the city.

We started our adventure at the barn where Jake proceeded to ride the ‘for photos only’ tractor away from it’s location over and over. Then we moved over to the playground where they had a series of unique slides, swings and corn boxes. 

bomke's patch, pumpkin, wagons, tractors, barn, playground, corn crib, simply social blog

Next stop, corn maze.

bomke's patch, pumpkin, simply social blog, corn maze, map

If it weren’t for Owen, Anne, Jake and I might still be in that corn maze. That kid is a pretty good navigator. We had fun trying to locate each checkpoint and avoiding dead ends. Our success later led to a discussion of Anne and I applying for the next season of the Amazing Race together. A discussion that will only be revisited if she takes back her presumption that I would always have to be right throughout the race. An unnecessary presumption as I think we can all agree my knowledge, wit and charm would obviously carry us to an eventual first place prize.


After the corn maze we grabbed a wagon and started pumpkin hunting. The weapons, obstacles and search for elusive species indicated that this was much more of a hunt than a pick.

bomke's patch, pumpkin, wagons, simply social blog

Letting me pick my own pumpkins is like sending a fat kid loose in the candy aisle. 30 minutes later we were down to 9 or so pumpkins (plus a Jake). I decided to re-evaluate my choices and let a few go because I was sure I was in for $50 worth of pumpkins at this point when my sister came back with the receipt.

15 dollars! 15 dollars for 9 pumpkins minus a Jake. We all know you can’t put a price on that gem of a kid. I could hardly believe it. Had I bought anything near those pumpkins at Home Depot in the city, I probably would have spent triple that.

Point country. 

Once I got over the fact that we cheated those pumpkin growers out of some beauts, we moved onto to the final activity of the day.

bomke's patch, pumpkin, wagons, tractors, petting zoo, miniature horse, goats, imply social blog
We took a tractor ride down to a small petting zoo where we met several goats, a donkey and a miniature horse I will call Beyoncé. No, I’m not saying Beyoncé looks like a horse. It’s just the way in which that little diva of a horse shook her hair that reminded me of Queen B.

Jake preferred to feed the little goat (the real thing, not the restaurant) as I tried to explain that just because he was little, he wasn’t necessarily the youngest. He didn’t care. All 50 cents of feed when straight to that little guy. I understood. Us younger children have to stick together.

And so ends a lovely fall weekend wrap-up. If you have a kid in your life or you just like using kids to be your excuse to do fun kids things, go visit a pumpkin patch this month. Not that I ever use my nephews for that kind of thing.

Happy harvest!

Christmas in July?

I spent the better part of the weekend making chili, watching football and picking out pumpkins.

Time out.

What the heck is up with this weather, July? Apparently we set a record low in Chicago Saturday night. Meanwhile, we had plans to go to the beach.

Ok, so I didn’t spend the weekend raking leaves and looking for unique and non-trashy Halloween costumes, but the cold weather sure made me consider it. Don’t get me wrong I love fall and everything except the dreary winter that follows it, I just prefer it to come when it is supposed to and not in the middle of my summer.

Now that we’ve gotten that weather rant out of the way we can move on. 

My sister and nephews came up to visit this weekend so instead of heading to the beach, we took advantage of a few other kid-friendly activities the city offers: museums and tall buildings.

With a late-Friday arrival, I was fully expecting us to have to carry half-sleeping children up the stairs and softly lay them into bed. A quiet evening before a fun-filled weekend. Instead I got this:

simply social blog boys wrestling

Wrestlemania 2K13

And this:http://instagram.com/p/cQXcclTaUa/

Since the weather was less than summery come Saturday morning, my sister and I decided to take the boys down to the Museum of Science and Industry so they could spend the day exploring the exhibits, watching the baby chicks hatch and watching the baby chicks hatch. I had only been to the museum recently for a social event so I was excited to…wait for it…watch the baby chicks hatch.

Baby chicks museum of science and industry Chicago simply social blog

chicks, man.

It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you see one of those little birds finally break through that hard shell after what had to have been an exhausting few hours. And we were fortunate to see two hatch while we were visiting on Saturday. I hope the boys remember the experience when they get older. If not the chicks, perhaps the water guns or farming equipment.

exhibits at the museum of science and industry Chicago simply social blog

Saturday evening we had a nice dinner and then stopped by a new ice cream parlor in my neighborhood. I’ve been wanting to check the place out for a while but there’s something creepy about a girl in running clothes just stopping in to “look at the decor.”

cone ice cream parlor west loop chicago simply social blog

I believe it is the role of the Aunt to spoil her nephews as much as possible when they visit. This increases the likelihood of future visits as well as financial support when they make it big some day as an engineer or a backup dancer for Justin Timberlake’s glory days tour.

On Sunday morning we decided to go up to the Skydeck at the Willis (it will always be Sears) Tower. 4 sections, 1 movie and 1 hour and 42 minutes later, we were finally at the elevator. 60 seconds after that we were up 103 stories and 1,450 feet in the air in one of the world’s tallest buildings. Approximately 2 ring pops and 12 minutes later we were back on the ground. How’s that for numbers?

skydeck chicago sears willis tower simply social blog

We also managed to make it out on the ledge without me anyone freaking out. The boys didn’t even think twice when we asked them to walk out for a picture, which surprised me because I’m pretty sure my fear of heights was solidified by that age. If not by that age then shortly after the great log flume ride of death I narrowly survived at Valley Fair in the early 90’s. Definitely by then.

skydeck chicago sears willis tower simply social blog

We wrapped the weekend by singing “Go Cubs Go” at the top of our lungs in front of my building as we loaded the kids into the car. Owen had been waiting all weekend to belt out “Hey, Chicago, what do you say…” while pointing to all the big buildings around him. And as a good Auntie should, I begrudgingly belted out with him, only stopping to insert “Cards” at the appropriate times.

And then like that baby chick after an exhausting weekend, I took a nap.

baby chick napping museum of science and industry chicago simply social blog

Are you afraid of heights?

What did you do this weekend with unseasonably cold temperatures in the Midwest?

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? 

Have a wonderful week!