How to make a Hogwarts student costume

Hufflepuff Halloween costume

After our visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the boys' subsequent discovery of the Harry Potter series, how could we not dress up as Hogwarts students for Halloween?  To make things even more perfect, we took the Sorting Hat quiz on Pottermore, and we each got sorted into a different house -- 3Po to Slytherin, Jammy to Gryffindor, The Pea and Alfie to Ravenclaw, and yours truly to Hufflepuff.  Houses of Howarts, represent! Assembling your own Hogwarts costume couldn't be easier.  Here's how to do it:

Halloween Costume Watch 2013: Students from The Four Houses of Hogwarts

I'm so excited to be doing a family group costume once again for Halloween 2013! The first and last time I managed to pull it off was in 2007, when we all dressed as pirates.  Then the kids got older and started decided for themselves what costumes they wanted (so inconvenient!).  Fortunately, this year the boys have discovered Harry Potter, and I was only too happy to join them as a Hogwarts student!  

How to make a Toy Story Alien costume

This year, The Pea and her 2 BFFs decided they wanted to be Toy Story Aliens for Halloween.  We found ready-to-wear costumes, but they all looked hideous, so the gals decided they would make their own.

Ideas for No-Carve Halloween Pumpkins

This has been the busiest Halloween season ever!  Usually my decorations are up and ready by October 1 (okay, by the first week of October), but this year we were halfway through the month before I even opened my Halloween box.  We like to carve our jack-o-lanterns at least a week before Halloween night (okay, by the weekend before Halloween night), but this weekend we had so many things going on -- a conference, a party, a school fundraiser, Nutcracker rehearsals, a soccer tournament -- that I barely had time to buy pumpkins, much less decorate them.

Right now it looks like the only time we'll get to carve our Halloween pumpkins is the night before Halloween.... but that doesn't mean we can't transform those pumpkins into fun and cute Halloween decorations!  I decided to turn two of our pumpkins into Mickey Mouse pumpkin and a voodoo man while they're waiting to be carved.

Will you boycott Ender's Game?

I recently finished reading the sci-fi novel Ender's Game, and it was one of those books that I just could not put down.  After reading it, I immediately bought two more books in the series, and went online to find out when the movie would start showing in theatres.  I was sure the movie would be a certified hit; after all, Ender's Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, won back-to-back Hugo and Nebula awards, and the series has entered the realm of science fiction/ young adult classics.

So I when I Googled "Ender's Game Movie", I was shocked and disappointed to discover the controversy surrounding the book's author, Orson Scott Card -- there's a big movement to boycott the Ender's Game movie because of his position on LGBT rights.

Well, that was a certainly a surprise. It's quite ironic that an author who writes about life in the future would hold such prehistoric views.  I certainly couldn't tell from the book.  In fact,some of the themes of the book include tolerance for people who are different from you, empathizing with others, finding a way to communicate, and working together.  Discovering Orson Scott Card's hateful anti-LGBT views after reading Ender's Game was like devouring a Death By Chocolate cake... then discovering that the molten chocolate part in the middle had been riddled with maggots.

Nutty HOWLoween Cookies

It's funny how my blog somehow morphs into a craft and food blog when October rolls around!  There's just something about my favorite holiday that inspires me to create.  Today's Halloween treat is so easy, anyone can do it.  I wanted to make something with the mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups I received from Hershey's, and I thought they would make cute owl eyes.  Most of the owl cookies I see on Pinterest are beautifully frosted, cut-out creations that would intimidate anyone .  This owl cookie recipe is perfect for beginning, busy, or lazy bakers who still have a crafty monster inside who wants to come out!  You can use refrigerated cookie dough or make your own.

Kooky Spooky Kit Kat Cookie

I love to bake any time of the year, but there's something about fall's crisp, cool weather that makes me crave warm baked goods.  I received a boxload of Halloween candies from Hershey's that we can't (or shouldn't) eat all on our own, so I've decided to use them in my baking and share them with friends.   First up: special Halloween Kit Kat bars coated with orange colored white chocolate! I took my inspiration from the Kit Kat Cookie recipe from Life with the Crust Cut Off, and created my own Kooky Spooky Kit Kat Cookie.

See you at BlogHer PRO 2013!

I'm speaking at BlogHerPRO '13!

Having missed all the excitement of BlogHer '13, I've resolved to end my 2-year BlogHer conference hiatus and attend BlogHer '14.  But with two international trips already looming on the summer 2014 horizon, I can't say I'm attending BlogHer '14 for sure until I figure out when and where it will be.

I've been so fixated on stalking BlogHer's twitter feed for conference updates that I almost missed the news about a great BlogHer conference being held right here in Silicon Valley: BlogHer PRO 2013.  In many ways, BlogHer PRO is actually a better fit for me because I've been blogging for such a long time now that I'm more interested in conferences that deal with taking blogging to the next step rather than introducing the basics. I also missed out on BlogHer PRO 2012 because we were in the Philippines (my timing sucks!), so I was determined to catch this year's conference, at least.

Well, there's no missing BlogHer PRO 2013 now, because I've been invited to join the keynote panel discussion on the final conference day!  I'll be in the company of some great bloggers, including Beth Blecherman from, Jim Lin from Ketchum PR and Busy Dad Blog, and Sarah Penna from Big Frame.  We'll be talking about something near and dear to my heart: how brands and bloggers can work together.  If you want to join us, (I might need a cheering section, or at least a few people to wave and signal from the audience in case I have spinach stuck between my teeth), check out the BlogHer PRO registration page for all the deets.  Or enter my giveaway for a BlogHer PRO conference pass. Either way, I hope to see you there!

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