Sunday, October 31, 2010

Haunted (Slaughter)House - Not For the Chicken-Hearted (Tee Hee!)

Halloween 2010...
Unsuspecting trick-or-treaters arrive to a gruesomely realistic sight... Blood... feathers... chicken body parts... everywhere.

 Nothing is left to the imagination...

Haunted House? No. Horror movie set? No. Professional Fright Fest...? No.
My sister's house.

Earlier in the day, when my nieces had been out in the yard with their dad, apparently one of their roosters jumped on baby Piwu's head and attacked her. Scratched up her face and bruised up her forehead.

So... chicken for dinner! Unka Rop was in the kitchen when we arrived, gutting or skinning or cleaning (whatever you call it) the rooster. I thought it looked kinda creepy, since I could tell that it wasn't a grocery-store chicken, even though it was pink and dimply and headless, like a grocery store chicken. My sister tried to defend herself by reminding me that it had attacked her child. Oh, yeah. I'm totally with ya there. Pets/animals who attack children need to be put down (and eaten, if appropriate.) But I thought it was creepy to see something I've seen before, only realer.
Plus, you know. I've met this chicken. We weren't best buds or anything. He was the one who liked to crow just outside the guest room window from about 4am on. I've been rooting for his demise for months! [She wanted to eat the one who didn't crow and wouldn't mate with the hens, as she doesn't feel useless animals should be tolerated. I prefer the quiet rooster.] But at least he didn't have a name. I've never tried to eat an animal I've known who had a name.

We were visiting to go trick-or-treating nearby (they close off the main roads at the downtown shops and the stores all hand out candy (or Boehm's chocolates, at the Boehms, and ice cream cones at the ice cream shop!) and it's a huge thing.) People come from all over. Grammelena came with, and she met some ladies, one who comes from another state just to sit and watch the trick-or-treaters here each year! (And visit her friend, the other lady, of course!) People bring their dogs in costume even. It's a real blast. Crowded. But fun.

So Unka Rop put the chicken in the fridge, and the other bits in a bag to do something with later. It's unclear to me whether they were headed for the garbage, or being saved for later. The girls romped around outside while the adults got all the costume bits and Grammelenas into the cars.
So we took 2 butterflies (no. Not fairies. Not fairy princesses. Butterflies.) and a Little Red Riding Hoodlum (I changed the name, since she was looking tough and ready for a fight with her beat-up face!) off to trick-or-treat amongst the masses.
Tualy and Z were butterflies...
Notice my butterfly net (borrowed from Kayneen) poking out in the lower left corner.
I was a butterfly catcher. Get it?
Little Red Riding Hoodlum.
Total coincidence that this was taken in front of a law office, but I think it's hilarious.
Like she's gonna sue the pants off that rooster!
So after a few hours of slogging through crowds, getting into line after line at each storefront for some measly little Jolly Rancher (except at Boehm's! We got quality chocolate there. Little Z's didn't survive the Mommy. Omnomnom) getting separated from cousins and grammas, and endless whining, whinging, crying and carrying-on, we went to a pizza-by-the-slice place we had seen at the beginning. And they had a deal: 2 slices and a soda for $6! Sweet!
We wait patiently in line, while Z grows increasingly louder and toddler-ier, just to have the dude in front of us buy the last 5 (!!!) slices [Seriously? Buying the whole stinking pizza would have been cheaper at that point, Bub!] and be told that they would need to start another by-the-slice pizza fresh, so it would be ready in about 15 minutes. Well.. EFF THAT! So we went to another one further away, but towards the car (we had to park pretty far. It was a popular event!) and not only did they have actual pizza, but they had 2 slices and a soda for only $3! Granted, their slices were smaller and they had canned soda instead of free refill fountain drinks, but by golly, we were eating pizza a good 10 minutes earlier than we would have otherwise! We ended up getting 4 slices and 2 cans of soda for $6. Not bad at all.
Auntie Kayneen wanted to take her kids door-to-door, for at least a few houses, to give them the normal Halloween experience, since where they live you're walking more than a block to get to the next property, then in a ways to actually get to the house. And, as luck would have it, there were lots of convenient neighborhoods just outside the downtown businesses loop! 
Z opted to be done, so we headed back to my sister's with Grammelena to wait for them. 
We got home to a gory surprise in the kitchen!
Turns out their dog, Spirit, had found the bag of chicken goodies and wreaked her vengeance upon them. If this had been my house, I would have flipped, but since it's not, I thought it was freakin' hilarious, and I delightedly called my sister to tell her the good news. Grammelena thwarted me by cleaning it all up before they got back. Nuts.

Either way. Best. Halloween. Evar! [Yes. I spelled it wrong on purpose. It's an internet gamer thing.]

Are You REALLY Going To Eat All That?! - Other Fun Uses For Holiday Candy

*This post will be updated periodically as I find new links and tips to add, and I will try to re-link to it on my Facebook and Twitter pages around all the candy-giving holidays (Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc.) Anything added after the original post was written has been given dates.

Halloween is a lot of fun. Mostly. And stressful. And it has always seemed silly to me how some parents get all lost in the frenzy and lose sight of the fact that, Really. I could just buy my kid this stinkin' candy. Me too. I found myself with 3 Halloween parties with my moms groups (plus the one at my sister's, and the one at my husband's work) plus I found a place offering trick-or-treating the day before Halloween too. And we plan on going out with my other sister and her kids to two places, plus maybe the local 'posh' neighborhood Halloween day.
It's not even like I'm going to let her eat all her candy either. We'd probably throw out a lot of it. Halloween isn't until tomorrow, [Well, today now. I'm up late!] and she already has a year's worth of candy (Daddy's work went super crazy with the treats!) But then I got some great ideas for other ways to use the leftover candy...

Update 10/4/12 - Now that we are artificial-ingredient-free, I will not redistribute any of our candy loot to other kids, just because I don't know if it would affect them too, and I will not contribute to that issue. I WILL, however, redistribute to adults, via donating the the troops, trading with the dentist (who donates to the troops,) and having Hubby take stuff to his candy bowl at work. Most of the kids affected by the artificial ingredients either grow out of it, or the reactions diminish. (I am starting to notice mild headaches and feelings of irritability when I ingest fake colors, but I haven't comprehensively documented or kept track, so it's just a feeling I have, and not a fact.)
The ideas in italics are the ones that I would still consider doing myself, to keep my girls safe, and to not risk harming other dye-sensitive children.

I have also added a bunch more "non-eating" options I've found. By letting her still participate in the experiences, I'm helping her make good choices by CHOOSING not to eat the fake candies. And by experimenting and crafting with them, we get to see just how UN-FOOD-LIKE they really are, and help disassociate them from the other things that we DO eat!

She blinded me with science!
I read a magazine article a year or so ago, about using candy to do science experiments, instead of eating it all. It was really neat, and made my 3 years of Chemistry seem less useless as a SAHM. And then I saw the author's byline.... Loralee Leavitt. Hmm. I knew a girl in High School named Loralee... but a different last name... And then her picture... huh. That looks just like... waitaminnit! How awesome is that? We even took Chemistry together!
She now has a website, which is good, because although I saved the article, it got puked on by a cat and stepped on and torn by the Oompa-Loompa, and thrown out by the husband. She has fun ideas for testing acidity in different candies, getting color separation from the dyes, making chocolate bloom show, testing which candies sink versus float, and more! Did you know that the 'S's on Skittles float off whole when soaked in water?
10/28/11 - Found some new science fun with candy too!

Candy Crafts
11/11/11 - You can also use leftovers in a home-made advent calendar, or glue or tie them together into a holiday garland or wreath. (Thanks Mom On Timeout for the ideas!)
My advent calendar craft ideas: You can use empty toilet paper tubes (or paper towel tubes cut into several smaller parts) or empty kiddie yogurt cups glued to a base to make an advent calendar which has enough space inside for small toys or mini candy bars! Use scrapbook or craft paper circles with countdown numbers on them taped to the fronts to hide the contents! You can even paint or use craft paper to decorate the sides too! To be even MORE festive, if you place them in a triangle with 6 cups/tubes on the bottom, then 5, then 4, 3, 2, 1, and the last 3 under the row of 6 (with brown paper or paint on the outside, to be the trunk,) you can make them into a tree shape! (See below!)
I've also seen ideas for using small boxes, like matchboxes (with beads glued on the fronts, for drawer-pulls,) small gift boxes, or home-made tagboard ones. Or even a storage drawer unit for hardware bits (I like this one, since it's such a great price, but it has 30 drawers. You can find 24-drawer ones too.) You could also use paper envelopesflattened toilet paper tubes with the bottoms glued or stapled shut, or cloth pockets clothespinned onto a string.

12/19/10 - I used a bunch of my.... errr her leftover Halloween candy on our gingerbread houses! Red Vines made a door and roof trim, Nerds speckled 2 side walls, and Ms on the roof! 10/4/12 - This would be a fun craft, provided the kids understood that these were for decoration, and not for eating!

10/4/12 - You can use the candies to make non-edible crafts, like mosaics or artwork using colorful candies and glue. Or make a lovely holiday centerpiece
There are some more kid-friendly non-edible crafts using candy as well. I love the picture frame idea!

And don't throw out those wrappers! You can craft with the wrappers as well!

Gives a whole new meaning to 'Candied Apple"!
Another fun idea is to repurpose the candies. You can slowly integrate them into dessert recipes, like caramel apples, where you can increase the healthy-food-to-candy-ratio that it takes to fill their bellies at dessert time. (You can melt down chocolate bars/Kisses/etc and drizzle or paint it on over the caramel as well. And add small candies, like M&Ms, and/or chopped candy bars. You can do this with whole caramel apples, or sliced ones where you drizzle the caramel and toppings on over.)
Also tasty on or mixed into ice cream, frozen yogurt, or regular yogurt! Chopped-up Skittles might make a nice addition to a fruit smoothie! Or use small or chopped candies to top cakes, cookies, cupcakes, baked into muffins... the possibilities are endless! Here's a fun, quick and super easy recipe for using walnuts, Rolos and pretzels to make your own Turtles!
You can save hard clear candies, like lollipops and Jolly Ranchers to smash up and melt into stained-glass cookies or shaped hard candies (melt into greased cookie cutter or candy molds) or use whole ones to make new lollipops.
And there are loads of sites with more fun recipes and ideas. You can Google "leftover Halloween candy recipes" or find some fun ideas here, or sorted by candy type here, or a few more ideas here, along with other options on alternate uses for your candy.
11/6/11 - Just found this great recipe for leftover-Halloween Candy Bark! Looks SO yum!

Party Ideas
Have a party coming up? Save some Halloween candy for the goody bags! [See shelf-life info below.]
Another fun idea is to tie a leftover lollipop to the ribbon on a present! You could even write on the wrapper in lieu of a gift tag!
11/11/11 - Can also be used to decorate cupcakes, cake pops, or cakes!
Or make a home-made card, using words that are candy names, and gluing the candy on. Some fun suggestions here and here, and some candy inspirations here.
Something like:
I hope you have MOUNDS of fun on your special day!
It's an ALMOND JOY to know you!
I hope your day is GOOD and PLENTY more to come!
This idea also makes for some witty and fun prizes for a baby shower Memory game. Check out here and here for some other candy bar game-related ideas!

Giveitaway, giveitaway, giveitawaynow...
Another option is to have someone (you, spouse, grandparent, whatever) take it in to their office and have a candy bowl/jar at their desk, or dump it into someone else's candy jar.

Food banks accept candy donations too. Obviously they prefer healthier fare, but they'll take what they can get!

You can also ask a local school or public library if they accept candy donations. Some give out candy rewards, use it for parties, or after story times. [Thanks for the suggestion, Ingvild!]

Or it can be sent with care packages to the troops! Click here and/or here for more details on 2 programs that accept candy for the troops! Not only is it a nice treat for the soldiers, but in conflict areas, they give candy and small donated toys [see first link] to local children and get tips on IED locations! Your extra candy could help save lives!

11/11/11 - Ronald McDonald House charities accept candy donations as well! Search for your local branch here!

Trade it up!
You might also search online or amongst friends and local dentist/orthodontist offices - some are offering money or toys in trade for Halloween candy! One by me is offering $1/lb of candy! Yes, that candy cost more than $1. But it wasn't your dollar! Your dollar went towards rotting someone else's kid's teeth! And to a kid, a few bucks to spend can be all kinds of cool! You might even offer to match, if they're willing to sort out their favorite few pieces and part with the rest! Here is a link to some places exchanging candy (but certainly not all of them!)
11/6/11 - I just heard from a local orthodontist that does a candy buyback program that our local food banks use the donated candy to help stuff stockings for less fortunate kids at Christmas! How cool is THAT? Other dentists donate it to the troops, so you can find out who does what and choose where you go accordingly!

Postpone the inevitable...
Anything that will last, you can save for Christmas Gingerbread houses too. Here's a link to candy shelf-lifes, but the most helpful bit is here:
Here's a generalized idea on candy shelf life:
"The softer the candy, the shorter the shelf life, ever had a hard caramel??
BUBBLE GUM - Most gum such as Bubble Yum or Bubblicious Bubble Gum is good for anywhere from four (4) to six (6) months and this guideline applies to regular gums such as Chiclets, Dentyne, Trident, et al
CANDY BARS - The average shelf for a chocolate candy bar is anywhere up to six (6) months, however, certain candies such as Necco Wafers, Smarties, Starburst Fruit Chews or Nerds can last considerably longer due to their consistency.
GUMMI CANDY - Most gummi candies such as gummi bears, peachy penguins, strawberry puffs, etc are good for up to (six) months although they will diminish in quality if exposed high temperatures.
JELLY BELLY JELLY BEANS - The manufacturer suggests that the shelf life for Jelly Bellies is up to eight (8) months.
JORDAN ALMONDS (CONFETTI) -Although the shelf life is said to be up to five (5) months, we suggest that you do not hold them for longer than two (2) to three (3) months to ensure that they are absolutely fresh.
LOLLIPOPS - Most lollipops have a long shelf life but it is important to remember that exposure to high temperatures can cause the candy to permanently stick to the wrappers. Although most lollipops can last up to six (6) months, it is important that they are stored in cool environments.
MandM's CHOCOLATE CANDIES - According to the manufacturer, the life span of M&M's is up to thirteen (13) months providing that it remains in its factory sealed package and not exposed to heat.
NOVELTY CANDY - Most novelties candies are nothing more than candy such as bubble gum or dextrose encased in a plastic outer shell. The life span of most novelty candies is six (6) to eight (8) months and depends on the type of candy chosen.
UNWRAPPED BULK CANDY - Most unwrapped bulk candies remains fresh for five (5) to six (6) months, however, certain items such as Candy Roll Wafers, Runts, Rock Candy Strings and Candy Blocks will last longer due to their consistency.
Candies such as Good and Plenty, Licorice, Mexican Hats or Red Dollars tend to taste better when fresh and we suggest that you store them for no longer than two (2) months.
Chocolate candies such as Bridge Mix, Chocolate Pretzels, Double Dipped Chocolate Peanuts or Malted Milk Balls tend to have a shorter shelf life and this applies to any candy that has peanuts as one of the ingredients,
WRAPPED BULK CANDY - Most wrapped bulk candy remains fresh for five (5) to six (six) months especially if it is a hard candy such as a Butterscotch Disk, Starlight Mint or Root Beer Barrel.
Softer candies such as Caramel Creams or Brach's Royals have a shorter shelf life due to their consistency."

Other Idea Round-Ups
11/1/2010 - Just found an article with more ideas too!
12/19/10 - Even more great ideas! Many of the links here were already added above, but there are some other fun ideas here too!
10/28/11 - Many of the same, but a few new ideas from Parenting magazine!

Keep these ideas in mind after Christmas, Easter, Valentines Day, Birthday parties, etc. too!

However you choose to deal with all that Halloween loot, keep on top of the teeth brushing! If they're old enough, chewing sugarless gum after eating or drinking anything with sugar in it is a great way to get residue and particles off the teeth, especially if you know they won't comply with brushing after lunch or snack at school. (They can just pop it in and chew it until lunch is over, then spit it out, since most schools don't allow gum in class.)
I can tell you right now, I've already set aside some candy to incorporate into fun Muffin Tin Meals and bento lunches. My husband got a mini-candy assortment from Canada that has something like M&Ms, that will be great as eyes or other facial features. Even headlights or small wheels. Nerds for sprinkling on yogurt or to represent confetti or animal spots or something. Caramels, Spice drops and Gumdrops are great to mold into other things, as are Circus Peanuts. Tootsie Rolls, Laffy Taffy and Starburst too (microwave them 8-10 seconds first to make them easier to manipulate.) And I stashed some Gummy Lifesavers to use tomorrow, if I have time to do an MTM this week!

Halloweenapalooza Party! Spider Hat Craft, Cookie and House Decorating, and MORE!

On Sunday we went to a family Halloween party at my sister's house (Auntie Kayra.) She had loads of fun activities planned, and I brought some more.
We were running late. The cousins were already well into their art projects when we arrived.

Halloween Art Fun

Even Piwu got in on the action!
They had glittery foam Halloween stickers, glitter glue tubes, crayons, glue-on and stick-on googly eyes.
Tually made several beautiful pictures.

Dinner was ready soon after we arrived. Intestines and Testicles (spaghetti and meatballs,) Bloody Lumps (BBQ meatballs,) and Vampire-Repellent (garlic bread.) Z ate approximately 2 molecules of dinner.

Then the kids donned their costumes and trick-or-treated around the living/family/dining rooms, cadging candy off aunties, uncles and grammas.
"Tikka-Teet! Omnomnom"
Then, while they were pacified with candy and goody-bag toys, we tried for a group shot. With mixed results.
Back row, left to right: Khiss (Buzz Lightyear,) Jotch (Vampire,) Babee O-wivya (chicken,)
Gamma Nanayra, [Jotch, Khiss & Cody's] Gamma Niwian (witches.)
Front row: Captain Z, Tually (Fairy Princess,) Piwu (Little Red Riding Hood,) Cody (clown.)
Auntie Kayra had goody bags for each kid -
with candy, googly-glasses, vampire teeth and more!
It was great fun watching the kiddos parade around with their loot!

Dirt Worm Sundaes
I tried to lure them away from their candy smorgasborg with Dirt Worm Sundaes, but only Tually was interested. She had fun mixing and crushing, then mixed the Oreos and worm in too, making a nice big gooey mess.

Cody ended up making one as well, before we got out the houses to decorate.

Haunted Houses
Auntie Kayra had pre-assembled little graham cracker "Haunted Houses" to decorate, but when I tried to lure the kids in...

"Who wants to decorate their gingerbread house?"
"Who wants to eat more candy at the table?"
[Stampeding herd of elephants.]

Nibble, nibble, little mouse...
Even Cody got in on the action!
Jotch, hamming it up next to his spooky house.
(The candy corns are plants, not a fence. FYI.)
Tually's house
Little Z's house. I'm surprised there was still candy on it after.
Her Christmas house was candy on, candy off.
I couldn't decorate it faster than she could eat it!

Halloween Cookies
We used the rest of the frosting (she had made a baggie of each color - pink, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple) to decorate sugar cookies! Kayra had baked them up before we got there. What a busy mommy!
At that point, most of the kids were done participating. So the cookies were mostly decorated by Cody, Auntie Kayneen and myself. Jotch and Khiss each decorated one or two before snarfing them down, but it was mostly us old folk.
Auntie Kayneen foolishly set her plate on the high chair tray, which wasn't snapped on, and it got knocked over by a kid. The dogs were thrilled. Mine were on the counter. :)

How to make: Fun Spider Hats
I had seen this hat on the neighbor girl the other day, and her mom helped us make one for Z, who was green with envy. I cut 2 thick strips lengthwise from black construction paper [I didn't measure or mark it out or anything. Mostly eyeballed it. They weren't perfect, but Meh. Kids didn't care.] I then cut 8 skinnier strips, also lengthwise. I used a little less than 2 sheets per hat [Probably 1.5 sheets per would do ya, if you made 4 legs out of half of each sheet, then the band out of the extra half.] For Z's the other day, I just cut 4 skinny strips and cut them in half for shorter legs, using only 1 sheet total. 
My friend's kid's hat used staples, which holds the parts together better, but is snaggier. We used tape at my sister's house, since I knew where she kept it, and rowdy boys might get scratched more with the staples. I taped the ends of the legs on the inside, after taping the 2 strips together to fit their heads. 
Since I was using tape, I also taped where the leg stuck out over the outside, to give added support. [If using staples, have the pointy ends facing out, rather than getting snaggled in their hair or scratching their heads. One staple per leg, and 2 at each side the bands connect should be fine, unless you're using particularly weak paper. Then maybe 2 staples per leg, one at the bottom where it connects with the band, and one at the top just before it is no longer touching the band. 
I spaced the legs in groups of 4 per side, and had them more in the back, so they wouldn't be flapping in the faces. 
Then I bent each leg at the top of the head band, so they weren't just sticking straight up.
I then gently curled them each around my finger to make them curve down. You can see an angle-y one that Jotch curled himself,. He had some folds in his technique. So whichever way you prefer. For more realism, you could make 2 folds, so each leg has 3 segments. Creepy.
The boys added stick-on googly-eyes left over from the craft. The neighbor girl's preschool used those 3-ring binder hole reinforcer stickers. If Z had cared, I would have glued on some of our googly eyes. Or you could just cut out circles of white paper, or white circle stickers, and draw on a pupil using black marker.

The hats were a big hit. Huge. My younger nephew (Khiss) took his to bed with him. When we made Z's, she wore it for hours that day. So did the neighbor girl. Cheap. Easy. Fun.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ghosts of Halloweens Past

Inspired by my friend Kristen, I'm doing a Costumes of Halloweens Past... She's only 2, so there's not a whole lot of variety yet, so I'm throwing in anything I dressed her up in that looks costume-like.
Halloween 2008, almost 5 months old.
Pink Monster
Yarrrrgh! Pirate Pajamas.
November 2008
Halloween 2009, 17 months
Dragon (with eyelashes and hair bow added on to look more girly)
Panty Troll [Clerks II reference]
She had unsupervised access to my underwear drawer.
She came out  with these on, saying she had put on her bibs and was ready to eat!
November 2009
Yarrrrgh! More pirates!
I got these on super cheap clearance after Halloween (I think $5 for both!) 11/09.

Captain Z, possessed by aliens, 10/2010.
She wanted to stay in her astronaut PJs for Auntie Kayra's Halloween party, and we let her.
Here she is modeling her new google glasses and purple teeth from her goodie bag.
"Butterfly" at AMAT Halloween party, 10/2010.
She'll probably wear this or a similar dress with different wings on Halloween.

Equip Them Now

As a result of the over-use of anti-bacterial soaps, cleansers, and prescription antibiotics, new strains of antibiotic-resistant infections are popping up. A particularly nasty one is MRSA, which is a strain of Staph skin bacteria. More about it here. It is usually contracted in the hospital, but more and more it's being contracted via sports, both skin contact and equipment. Pretty scary stuff. I used to work in pharmacy, and I remember people coming in multiple times trying to battle a rough case of Staph. [I'd leave the paper on the counter until they left, then use our tweezers to pick it up. A pharmacy etiquette tip: Please have the doctor phone or fax in your prescriptions if you have something contagious. Nothing made me feel squickier than a parent letting their little kid with pinkeye hand over their prescription, rubbing their eyes along the way. Or *cough cough while holding paper to mouth* "How long to fill my prescription?"]

One way to help control and prevent the spread of MRSA amongst otherwise-healthy people (ie: those not catching it from a hospital) is to disinfect your sports equipment. is also teaming up with swapmesports,com in a campaign to collect disinfected used sports equipment in the Equip Them Now campaign. 
Collect. Disinfect. Donate.
You can gather up your outgrown/unused sports equipment, disinfect it with a solution of 3/4 c bleach per 1 gallon water, and donate it (or swap/resell yourself somewhere.) It would also be a good idea to do this with any used equipment you acquire, before using it!

Here's some other great tips on keeping some of the (surprisingly!) dirtiest areas in your home safer.

This issue was brought to my attention as a member of the One2One blogger network.

Running Myself Ragged

From Wednesday on, last week was a whirlwind of busyness for me! After ballet class Weds morning, we went to the grocery store, since I had to get my stuff ready for the kids cooking class. And my meat pies for Saturday's Halloween party. Plus a breakfast recipe I wanted to try. I also had fun plans for my MTM and WFLW posts, and had compiled a list of everything I'd need for it all. Oh yes. Did I mention my husband was out of town Monday through Friday?

For Kids Cooking Class:
[For pizzas]
2x Pizza crust dough ($4.86)
Canadian Bacon ($1.82)
Pepperoni ($1.70)
Mozzarella ($5.43) [Also used for my WFLW pizzas]
Green bell pepper ($.48) [Also used for my WFLW pizzas]
Olives, sliced ($1.08)
Olives, whole ($.98)
Spaghetti sauce ($.78)
Rolling pin ($4.63)
[For Dirt Worm Sundaes]
Cool Whip tub ($.98)
Jello instant pudding ($1.23)
Generic zippy sandwich bags ($1.96)
Gummy worms ($.71)
Oreos ($2.48)

For my WFLW:
[For a monster eyeballs thing I didn't end up doing]
Frozen turkey meatballs ($5)
Cherry tomatoes ($2.48)
Melon baller ($1.76)
Pesto ($2.81) [Also being used for the snail rolls]
[For some other things I didn't end up making]
Fusilli pasta ($.42)
Mini powdered donuts ($1.80)
M&Ms ($1.99)
Caramels ($1.98)
Spice drops & large gum drops ($.37)
Broccoli bunch ($.50) [Also planned to use for a breakfast recipe, but someone stole or hid all my broccoli!]

For my MTM:
[Blood Worms]
Whipped cream ($2.48) [also for a dough recipe I didn't end up using for my meat pies]
Jello gelatin ($1.36)
Unflavored gelatin ($7.47) [Smallest size was 33 packets!]
Food coloring ($2.98)
50 straws ($.70)
[Other elements]
Mini pickles ($2.32)
Candy fruit leather strip ($.10)
Sliced almonds ($2.03) [Also for candy bugs I didn't end up making]

For my meat pies:
Onion ($.48)

For the breakfast idea and home-made meat pie dough I didn't end up making:
Unsalted butter ($2.88)
Green onions ($.38) [Left at Nana's by husband before I could use them!]
Dry yeast packets ($.50)

I also found loads of impulse buys. Spaghetti-Os, Rotary parmesan grater, fruit snacks, Halloween sprinkles and colored frosting writers, strawberries [which I ended up using in my WFLW,] a Christmas recipe magazine, Ziplocs, parchment paper, slow-cooker liners, assorted candies for undetermined future MTM/WFLW food decorations, and a few more items. All told, after tax and coupons... $142. Ugh.

Then nap and Little Gym.

Thursday morning was the Kids Cooking class.
Friday we skipped the pumpkin patch with the MOMS and vegged out at home. In the evening, I had a paid survey I was participating in, so Little Z got dropped off at Grammelena's, where she did very well. We hung out there after I got back and waited until Auntie Kayneen showed up, and socialized some more. We were there very late... either 11pm or 1am. I forget. Daddy was home when we got back, but she had fallen asleep in the car.
Saturday morning Z and I went to a Pretzel making tour.

Then we made the Blood Worms, Snail Rolls and Monster Pizzas, before racing off to Nana's, where we made the meat pies. Then off to the party! We were out late again, and Z didn't get to sleep until after 11. Sunday I got up and immediately went to work on my MTM. Then off to a party at my sister's house. Whew!

WFLW - Monster Mash!

Usually I just feature whatever lunch I happened to pack into an Easy Lunchbox and took pictures of each week, but for this week's What's For Lunch Wednesday, I not only made a fancy lunch, I planned it in advance! We had this after our Tuesday-morning gym class (where she did very well staying with the teacher the whole time while I sat in the center of the gym reading my book "watching.")

Monster Mash!
Z's lunch
On left: Zombie Snail Roll, Goblin Pizza.
On right: Swampghetti Thing, Strawberries From the Black Lagoon.

My lunch
On right: Sliced string cheese stick and mini Saltines, "Olive You" Monster.
On left: Sliced caramel apple, PB/honey sandwich
The Boring Stuff: I sliced up a string cheese cheese stick into little rounds and tucked them around a silicone muffin liner filled with mini Saltines. I had some Colby Jack tucked under.
The caramel apple was stolen brought home from Bob and Jessica's Halloween party on Saturday. It had chocolate with toffeed peanuts painted around in a design on the outside. I like to cut up my caramel apples, since they're easier to eat, easier to share, and fit better in my lunch box! [Plus I hate getting caramel all over my face while trying to bite into a whole one.]
I found these flattened bread rounds that I've seen at What's For Lunch At Our House and decided to give them a try. Glad I had them, as we were out of bread when I went to make my PB/honey sandwich! I sliced it in half to make it fit, and used some plastic grass baran to separate them. Z was delighted by the grass in "her" lunch.

Strawberries From the Black Lagoon: I used 2 small circle cutters to make eyes out of Mozzarella and Colby Jack cheeses. There are 2 McD apple slice "ears" on the sides, since I had 2 left from Monday's lunch. And I salvaged what I could of some strawberries we bought last Wednesday when we went to the store to buy supplies for the pizza cooking class, my MTM and this. I had originally planned to do a broccoli monster, like I saw a few weeks ago at Glory's Mischief, and had even purchased some on our shopping trip, but when I looked for it Tuesday morning when assembling this lunch, there was no broccoli to be found. [Couldn't find my green onions either, which were for another recipe I had wanted to try this week.]
If you look closely, the way the strawberry slices happened to land in the cup
made it look like a mouth on the bottom and 2 grouchy eyebrows on top.

Swampghetti Thing: I had planned on using spiral pasta to make this, since I saw an idea for a similar one when I was browsing for Halloween-themed food ideas. But I forgot to have Unka Seesee cook my noodles (bought especially for this purpose) with his when he made spaghetti last Thursday, and was too lazy couldn't justify going to all that trouble to cook up a handful of noodles separately. So I just used some of his leftover spaghetti from the fridge, along with some leftover mozzarella shreds that we didn't end up using at the pizza playdate, plus a green olive cut in half.

Goblin Pizza: I had enough dough left from the pizza playdate to make 2 mini pizzas. This time I rolled them flat, then rolled them some more, and rolled them again, pushing really hard. And used parchment paper instead of foil.
I did one with tomato cheeks, olive eyes and nose and a green pepper mouth (left.) Little Z placed the eyes and nose for me, in between quality control testing the olives. I used some parts cut from the bottom of a green pepper that kind of looked like ears, with a Canadian bacon eye (with olive) and olive mouth (right.)
I made these on Saturday, and cooked them alongside the snail rolls (see below.) They needed to be cooked longer, so I just cut the parchment paper and slid the snails off into their box first, then let these cook longer.

Probably around 20 minutes total at 375 F, but it's hard to be sure. Unka Seesee and I were having stove wars, as he as trying to broil hamburger buns at 450 F, and I was cranking it down and baking for mine. He was unaware that I had turned it down, and had to hustle his buns out of the way [pun intended] to make room for my stuff.
I put these in Tupperware to save them for Tuesday. 

I liked the goblin-looking one the best, so that's the one I chose.
Zombie Snail Roll: Somehow I found this adorable fairy garden bento, and it gave me the idea and instructions for these adorable little snail rolls. [And I'm totally making those toadstools someday too!] I thought I had refrigerated bread stick dough, but as it turned out, I had buttery crescent roll dough, and I didn't know it was pre-cut into triangles until I had already opened the tube, so after unrolling it and smooshing the seams together as best I could, I cut off some dough and made my witch's fingers. The rest I slathered in pesto (bought especially for this project) on the bottom 2/3rds of the dough. 
I cut the dough into roughly 1" wide strips. Some of them I tried forming the head first, others I rolled the shell and just smooshed and tucked a head-shape under. Neither technique seemed ideal, at least with this dough. And the pesto was ooooooozing out and got all over, making them hard to hold together while forming the heads.
I cooked them on parchment paper at 375 F.
I tried cooking one on its belly, but it looked funny (cooked version top left,) so I laid the rest on their sides and they turned out better. The dough split along the pre-cut lines that I failed to merge properly, so a few were tasty, tasty failures. None of them look as awesome as the original one I saw, but this was the wrong kind of dough, and I was handicapped with the pre-cutting.
You'll notice the lower witch finger was a total fail. I tried cooking it on its side. Lesson learned. Still delicious dipped in pesto!
But Oh Goodness. Crazy delicious. I was in a rush making these on Saturday before leaving for Nana's before our friends' Halloween party, so I only got to try one before shoving them into Tupperware and hoping they wouldn't get ruined. I re-heated one Sunday for myself, for around 10-15 seconds in the microwave. Still delicious. I ended up putting the pizzas in the same container as the snails, which went okay, as they all re-heated nicely, and tasted good cold (when I couldn't re-heat,) but infused the snails with green pepper flavor. Bleah. Still delicious though. Just delicious with a flaw.
The combination of the buttery crescent dough and the pesto made these winners. I'll try it again and just make them into crescents, as intended. And eat all more of them while hot and fresh!

I used almond slivers as antennae for this one for Little Z's lunch.

"Olive You" Monster: Just whole green olives (sans pimientos) with the back-up pair of cheese eyes, and a pick through it's "head." [She loves to eat them with a pick, so I always try and include one now, even if it doesn't match thematically. Hence the name. Heart pick... "I Love You"... "Olive You"... Get it?]

She completely rejected her monster-themed lunch, and stole mine. At first I think it was because of the olives, but once she discovered the caramel apple slices, she was all about them.
Hmmm... Eeen-ter-est-ing...
Perusing the selection
She ended up eating all the olives (including the Spaghetti-monster's eyes,) all the cheese eyes, a few nibbles of my sandwich (when I threatened to take away the caramel apples if she didn't eat half the sandwich, the pizza or the spaghetti first,) maybe some cheese bits and some strawberries. She ate caramel off of 2 chunks of apple, and then ate a few apple slices (with caramel) too, when I told her she had to eat the apple too, or I'd take them away.
Caramel-apple-face ready for nap!
I ended up eating half a sandwich, the snail, the spaghetti, the pizza (minus the green pepper ears. Bleah.) some cheese and crackers, most of the strawberries, the de-caramelled apples, and most of the caramel apple. She polished off the rest after nap.

Bento Lunch