Thursday, October 27, 2016

Parenting Pointers: Halloween Etiquette

It’s time for scary costumes, carving pumpkins, candy and trick or treating.  As Halloween approaches, there are somethings parents and children need to remember.   

Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author, and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, offers these 10 Halloween etiquette tips and tricks:
-        Select Appropriate Costumes: Costumes that represent a culture, race, ethnic or religious group or someone with a serious illness, poverty or other hardship, are inappropriate.  Sexually explicit costumes and those mocking LGBT or gender identity encourage negativity. During this election year, our public political figures are certainly on the table; expect to see Clinton and Trump. 
-        Age Appropriateness: While many adults enjoy Halloween dress up, remember this is mostly a children’s holiday.  What your teenager might wear, is not a good fit for a first-grade Halloween party.  Gage the costume based on your child’s age, and the age of his or her peers. Even if you think your young child might be able to handle dressing up as Freddy Krueger, it might be too much for his or her friends. 
-         Candy Alternatives: Traditional chocolate or sugar-laced candy are always a hit. With more health conscious parents, consider sealed mini bottled water, pre-packaged popcorn, coloring books, pre-packaged healthy snacks, small inexpensive toys, or pens/pencils.
-        Don’t Ring Doorbell or Knock: By simply turning off the outside lights, you will alert trick or treaters to skip your house and go on to the next.  As an option, consider leaving a bowl of candy by the front door.  Putting the car in the garage may also remove the question of whether someone is home. 
-        Knock One Time and One Time Only: If no one answers, move on to the next house.  There’s no need to be excessive and knock 10 times. The homeowner might be on an important call or trying to help a baby to sleep. On a related note: know when it’s appropriate to knock. Trick or treating generally starts just before sunset and ends by 9pm. 
-        No Homemade Treats: While it’s a nice thought to want to bake homemade Halloween treats, don’t do it.  Parents have heightened safety concerns for good reason, and will discard these items.  Buy pre-packaged candy from trusted brands like Hershey, M&M, Skittles, Dove, Reece’s. 
-        Teach Your Kids Manners: Halloween is a great opportunity to teach your kids manners, such as greeting and thanking each homeowner who gives them candy. Explain to older kids and teenagers that bullying and pushing smaller kids out of the way won’t be tolerated. When they encounter a bowl of candy at the door, make sure they are considerate and only take one or two pieces.  Be sure they respect private property, including homeowner decorations, and don’t leave unwanted candy or wrappers in lawns.
-        Never Arrive Empty Handed: Anyone invited to a Halloween party, does not arrive empty handed.  Bring a small hostess gift such as tea towels, diffuser, candle, coasters, fresh fruit, wine, packaged sweets, or children’s game.
-        Office & School Policies: Office culture varies, so be sure to research your workplace policy. Ask a trusted colleague about the ‘unwritten rules.’ Some offices encourage tasteful costumes, while others frown upon the practice.  Education policies vary, so don’t assume children may wear their costumes to school.  In many school districts across the nation, costumes are prohibited for safety reasons. Double check and don’t assume. 
-         Stay Safe: Younger children should always be accompanied by parents or a designated chaperone. Older children and teens should trick or treat as part of a group.  Never enter someone’s home you don’t know, no matter how nice they seem.  Carry a flashlight and mobile phone.  Follow your intuition and if you have a bad feeling about something, avoid it. 

Pet Pointers: Halloween Pet Safety

BOO! Halloween is almost here and that means ghosts, goblins and lots of situations that could be harmful to our furry friends. From Halloween decorations to trick-or-treating, precautionary measures must be taken to ensure the safety of pets.
Erin Askeland, CPT-KA and Training and / Expert at Camp Bow Wow (North America’s largest and most trusted pet care franchise), has offered her insights and tips for Halloween Pet Safety.

·         Fido may look adorable in his new superhero costume, but that cape won’t necessarily keep him out of harm’s way. Dressing up your pet for Halloween can be harmful. Costumes should not constrict the animal's movement, hearing or sight, or impede their ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also, it may be helpful to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed or shows abnormal behavior, don’t bother.
·         Before your pet participates in any Halloween activities, take a closer look at his or her costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that they could choke on. Also, watch out for ill-fitting outfits which can get twisted on external objects on your pet, leading to injury.
·         Putting make-up or face paint on your pet can be harmful. Paints could potentially irritate their skin, or may be eaten. Even make-up that is non-toxic could cause stomachaches or worse.
·         Candy bags are strictly for the enjoyment of trick-or-treaters, not your pet. Chocolate in all forms, especially dark or baking chocolate, can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Give your pooch their own Halloween candy by treating them to their favorite doggy snack. If you do suspect that your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or your local control center immediately.
·         Keep an eye out for decorative edible items like Halloween pumpkins and candy corn, when participating in this year’s festivities with your pet. While these are considered to be relatively nontoxic, they can be harmful, causing stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.
·         Do not take your pets trick or treating. It’s possible that your dog could get spooked by a ghost or goblin and a dog bite or fight could occur.

Thrifty Thinking: DIY Costume Ideas from Zulilly

According to a survey written by zulily, an online retailer obsessed with bringing customers special finds every day—all at incredible prices - it’s split nearly 50/50, among those who make their own Halloween costume (23%) and those who buy a Halloween costume (19%).


For those Halloween enthusiasts feeling crafty, Senior Lifestyle Editor at, Amy E. Goodman, shares easy, last minute costume ideas that you can make in a snap (or a snip)!


  • Odd Mom Out:  For a pop culture reference and a “punny” take on everyone’s favorite Bravo mom, iron on odd numbers to a shirt and draw arrows pointing away from the center = Odd Mom Out
  • Final Five: As a way to pay homage to the Olympics, why not create a winning group costume to wear with your besties?  Sport red, white and blue leotards with gold medals draped around your necks. Wear signature buns and high-ponytails to complete the look!
  • Sriracha – This costume is hot, hot, hot! Dress up all in red--the sexier the better--and add the rooster label to your midriff or as a hat. Don’t forget to carry a couple of bottles as props!
  • Baby Corn: For the little ones, cut out a corn-on-the-cob shape from yellow felt and attach it to your Baby Bjorn with the baby facing outwards. Write “butter” across the baby’s hat and your little ear o’ corn is ready!



Home Depot Kids Workshop November 5th

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Amazing Apps: Simple Habit

Simple Habit is a meditation and mindfulness app offering accessible, 5-minute meditations designed for busy people, ranging from urban professionals to students. Simple Habit’s unique platform and community allows users to access hundreds of guided prescriptive meditations from highly vetted teachers, addressing hundreds of specific topics - from deep sleep and stress reduction to morning sickness. What’s more, Simple Habit gives users the opportunity to personalize their mindfulness practice and discover new teachers within the Simple Habit community. As of today, you can find over two years worth of meditations on Simple Habit (via in-app purchases), with more added weekly.
Simple Habit was founded by Yunha Kim, a young, successful entrepreneur whose first startup, Locket, was acquired by Wish in 2015. Yunha developed a meditation practice of her own to combat the stress of founding a startup, which led to the launch of Simple Habit in June 2016. Since its launch, Simple Habit users in 115 countries have already meditated for a combined total of over 20,000 hours. The app is currently available for free download in the AppStore with in-app purchases.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Caring Causes: Box of Joy

Give the gift that pays it forward with a Box of Joy for a child in hurricane-ravaged Haiti or the Dominican Republic. Pack a box of small toys, toiletries or craft supplies plus $9 for shipping and support of charitable work and relief efforts, and your gift will share hope and happiness with a child already impoverished and now in dire circumstances. The Boxes of Joy are distributed to children, along with The Story of Jesus, by priests, nuns or missionaries serving locally.
Deadline: November 13, 2016

Sweepstakes: Guadalajara Tourism

In honor of Day of the Dead (Día de Los Muertos), Guadalajara Tourism announces the launch of the “Day of the Dead” photo contest on Twitter. For one week, from now until Monday, October 31, users can enter by following @GoToGuadalajara on Twitter and sharing their best photos from Day of the Dead festivities throughout the world using the hashtag #DayoftheDeadGDL. One winner will be chosen at random to win a figurine of Catrina, the iconic character that is a central symbol of the celebration.
Day of the Dead celebrations take place annually from October 31 through November 2, as a tradition to honor and remember the deceased. With lively specialty markets and spooky tours of “haunted” graveyards, Guadalajara is a great place to experience the Day of the Dead, Mexico’s most surreal and eccentric festival.
Day of the Dead was designated an intangible world heritage by UNESCO in 2008 and holds great significance in Mexico’s indigenous communities. The celebration dates back to the 16th century and fuses pre-Hispanic religious rites with Catholic feasts introduced by the Europeans. Originally the festival took place in the summer, but over the years it was moved to its current date to coincide with Halloween and All Saints' Day.
One of the most prominent traditions connected with Day of the Dead involves building altars to honor the lives of family member and/or friends that have passed. In Guadalajara, everything needed to prepare an altar can be found at the Feria de Carton, a special Día de Los Muertos market in Parque Morelos, a few blocks north of the San Juan de Dios market in the historic city center. Popular decorations include Pan de los Muertos (bread of the dead), iconic candy skulls, wooden altars, brightly colored decorative tissue paper, scented candles and a stunning range of painted wooden or clay skulls. Depictions of Catrina, also known as “The Lady of the Dead,” are also often featured atop the altars. While skulls are commonly placed in the centerpiece, the altars also often feature Christian symbols like the cross and the image of the Virgin Mary, illustrating how the Day of the Dead is a unique synthesis of Catholicism and ancient indigenous ritualism.
For an unforgettable Día de los Muertos experience, visitors to Guadalajara can take a nighttime tour of the city’s oldest and most infamous cemetery, The Panteon de Belen. Belen once served as the burial ground for the old civil hospital, but in 1786 work began to transform the site into a proper cemetery. The cemetery was finally completed in 1844 and is divided into two areas, one for the poor and the other for the wealthy. Huge, gnarled trees give the site the appearance of a haunted forest. The cemetery’s gothic architecture is illuminated at night with atmospheric lighting that casts strong shadows across the sea of elaborate gravestones and giant, crumbling mausoleums. Bats flit across the night sky, and as visitors are guided along the perimeter walkway, they are stalked by hooded figures who slip silently among the gravestones. The Panteon de Belen is located in downtown Guadalajara at Belen 684. Daytime and nighttime tours are available from 25 to 68 pesos ($1.35 to $3.65 USD). Tickets can be purchased onsite.
Other seasonal events held in the greater Guadalajara area include Tlaquepaque, which takes place  October 29, 2016 from 2:00pm to 8:00pm. During this Day of the Dead celebration, locals and visitors gather to enjoy live music and traditional food, while having the opportunity to provide offerings for the dead, view beautiful altars and experience streets filled with children and adults dressed-up in lively costumes. Traditional folkloric dancing, brightly colored outfits and sounds of roaming Mariachis combine for an unforgettable experience. For more information, visit
About Guadalajara
The birthplace of iconic Mexican heritage including tequila and mariachi, Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico and considered the country’s cultural center. Each year, tourists travel to this cosmopolitan destination to experience a plethora of attractions including nearby magical towns such as Tequila, where the popular spirit is produced; explore colonial architecture; and visit museums and small towns with exquisite crafts and artwork. Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco, which is located in the center of Mexico, 350 miles west of Mexico City and 200 miles east from Puerto Vallarta along the Pacific Ocean. The metropolitan area of Guadalajara consists of four urban districts – Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque, Tonala, and Zapopan – and three suburban districts, Tlajomulco, El Salto, and Tequila.
Travel to Guadalajara is easily accessible via the Miguel Hidalgo International Airport (GDL), which is located 24 miles from the city center of Guadalajara, with non-stop daily flights from major markets across the United States and Canada.
For more information on Guadalajara, please visit, follow us on Instagram @GoToGuadalajara, Twitter @GoToGuadalajara and like us on Facebook at GoToGuadalajara.

Healthy Habits: 4 Ways Your Cellphone Might Be Making You Ugly

Our cellphones have become so vital to our daily lives. Research has shown that the average person checks their phone 85 times a day and that we spend a total of five hours using our cellphones to browse the web or use apps. For many, our smartphone is the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we check at bedtime. Although quick glances at our phone may seem harmless, it can in fact be affecting us physically, mentally and emotionally. We caught up with some experts who help explain the ugly side of excessive cellphones use.

1. Ugly posture.
When we look down at our cellphones we are straining our necks and slouching our shoulders. Doing this can cause some serious damage to our overall posture even leading us to lose up to an inch to an inch and a half of height. “I see up to 10 patients a week complaining of severe neck and shoulder pain. When asked how often they use their phones the typical response is all the time. When pain becomes chronic and severe, surgery has to be considered,” explains Dr. Richard Samperisi, CoFounder of Campus Chiropractic Center at Florida International University & Functional Medicine Practitioner.

2. Ugly eye strain, bags and wrinkles.
Not only can staring at your phone all day cause serious neck and shoulder pain, the extreme use of our phones is leading to various eye conditions such as blurred vision, eye strain, headaches and dry eyes as well as to a condition they like to call “tech neck.” For those concerned with cosmetics and eye appearance constant squinting leads to wrinkles and under eye bags. New Bern, North Carolina plastic surgeon Dr. John Zannis explains that a combination of surgical and non-surgical procedures that address under eye bags, drooping and sagging usually range from 5 - $10,000 with a recovery time of up to 2 weeks. He’s also seen a rise in complaints about neck lines and wrinkling skin attributed to excessive cell phone use.

3. Ugly skin.
Are you constantly struggling with breakouts around your cheeks or chin? Instead of blaming hormones, junk food or a bad skincare routine consider looking at the device in your hand. “Our cellphones are filled with bacteria. We are continuously touching them with dirty hands, throwing them in our bags, stuffing them in our pockets or putting them on counter tops. Then without even thinking twice we put our phones right up to our ears where all of that bacterium from those dirty areas wreak havoc on our face,” offers Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Kaly Papantoniou.  She suggests frequently wiping the phone screen and using a face wash with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to rid bacteria from building up.

4. Ugly Manners
We see people at restaurants who are more focused on snapping a pic of their meal than enjoying each other’s company. Our persistent use of our cellphones can be affecting our relationships with the people and world around us. “When we focus more on our digital lives rather than the individuals we are with; we are not only giving off the impression that we do not care about what they have to say, we are also letting valuable and meaningful moments pass us by,” explains Dr. Sanam Hafeez a New York City based neuropsychologist and teaching faculty at Columbia University. She suggests putting the phone down and even going cell free twice a week.

Give it a try and see how cutting down on your phone use can also cut down on the ugly.

About the doctors:
Dr. Richard J. Samperisi, DC, of Miami, Florida, is a New York Native who completed his Doctoral studies at Life University in Atlanta, Georgia. His post-doctoral education focuses on functional medicine and clinical nutrition. 

Dr. John Zannis is a New Bern, North Carolina board-certified plastic surgeon and best selling author. A graduate of Stanford University and The University of Cincinnati Medical College, he received his formal training in General Surgery and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Connect with him via twitter @JohnZannisMD or his website www.zannisplasticsurge  

Dr. Kaleroy (Kally) Papantoniou is a Cosmetic Dermatologist, Board Certified by the American Board of Dermatology.  She is also a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai Health Center in New York City. Connect with Dr. Papantoniou via twitter @DrPapantoniou or her website

Dr. Sanam Hafeez PsyD is a NYC based licensed clinical psychologist, teaching faculty member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College and the founder and Clinical Director of Comprehensive Consultation Psychological Services, P.C. a neuropsychological, developmental and educational center in Manhattan and Queens. Connect with her via twitter @comprehendMind or at

Thrifty Thinking: How To Survive Retirement In A Pension-less Society

Most people nearing retirement have had to adapt to a changing world along the way.
At one time, retirement rested on what financial professionals like to refer to as a three-legged stool – Social Security, savings and a pension.
That stool went wobbly, though, when most private-sector pensions began to disappear.
“Years ago, the idea was that your employer and the government would take care of you,” says Chad Slagle, a Registered Investment Advisor and president of Slagle Financial, LLC (
“But those days are gone. Now the burden is on each individual to make sure they’re prepared for their own retirement. That’s why it’s important to have a game plan.”
Don’t despair, though. Slagle suggests there are a few steps anyone can take to survive today’s pension-less retirement, including:
• Map out a retirement strategy. Often, even people who are stashing away money for retirement don’t have a firm handle on what they’re trying to accomplish. Slagle says it brings to mind the old saying: “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” Having a strategy helps you know your ultimate goal and what you need to do to accomplish it. Once you develop a strategy, you also need to remember that conditions don’t always remain the same. Changes in your income and expenses, along with fluctuating market conditions, can all have an impact on your plan. Slagle recommends that about every three years you review and, if necessary, update your strategy.
• Live within your means. It’s difficult to save a comfortable retirement nest egg when you’re spending more than you earn and racking up debt. Create a budget and stick to it.
• Don’t ignore the cost of health care in retirement. Perhaps people just assume they will be healthy forever. Or maybe they just don’t think about this subject. Either way, Slagle says, too many of them don’t plan for or underestimate how much health care could end up costing them. It’s been estimated that a 65-year-old couple who retired in 2014 would need about $220,000 to cover health care in retirement. So you need to work it into the equation.
• Remember to account for inflation. Just when you think you’ve saved enough – you haven’t saved enough. At least you didn’t if you failed to take inflation into account. The cost of living is going to go up. That means the value of the dollars you saved is going to go down. “You need to factor that in when you plan for your financial future,” Slagle says.
• Prepare for the possibility of long-term care. This is another cost that many people don’t plan for, but the necessity of long-term care is a reality at some point for 70 percent of people over 65. The average annual cost of a private nursing-home room is $77,000, so it’s unwise to overlook it, Slagle says.
“You need to start thinking about all this now, whether retirement is decades away or a few years away,” Slagle says. “The sooner you begin saving and planning, the greater the odds are that you’ll have a happy and secure retirement.”
About Chad Slagle
Chad Slagle ( is president of Slagle Financial, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor. He and his wife, April, reside in Edwardsville, Ill., with their two sons and two daughters, Grayson, Mabry, Hudson, and Nola.
If you would like to run the above article, please feel free to do so. I can also provide images to accompany it. If you’re interested in interviewing Chad Slagle, having him provide comments or receiving exclusive content, let me know and I’ll gladly work out the details.

Pet Pointers: Pet Food Safety

October is National Pet Wellness Month, so it's a good time to look at pet food safety.

Your pet's food can carry harmful toxins and bacteria. Luckily, there are ways to minimize the risk of contaminated food to your four-legged loved ones. The experts at premium pet food maker Natural Balance suggest looking out for the following when choosing a pet food for your furry friend:



Many pet food brands don't test for safety before distribution to store shelves. You should feel confident that your pet food is being tested for some of the most common contaminants across toxins, bacteria, and chemicals.


Artificial chemicals are often added to pet foods to help with flavor or shelf life. Make sure to read the ingredients list (just like you would for your own food) and opt for pet foods without added dyes or chemicals.


Bacteria like Salmonella and E. Coli thrive in warm, moist environments. Make sure your pet's food is tested before it hits the shelves and store the food in a cool, dry place once you bring it home.

Resources are available to help provide pet-related advice, including how to select and care for pet food. Natural Balance offers services beyond what one would expect from a pet food brand, including Buy With Confidence® experts who are available to discuss pet-related topics through online chat, email and phone.

Every bowl of food should be tasty, nutritious and safe—that is why Natural Balance is the only brand with an ISO-certified testing facility that checks for the nine most common contaminants across toxins, bacteria, and chemicals, before distribution to store shelves.