Tales From A Hungry Life

October 21, 2016

The Best and Worst Halloween Candy

By Maria Schulz

I ventured outside my cubicle the other day and saw that my old nemesis had returned to haunt me. No, I’m not talking about one of my coworkers. I’m talking about this guy.


Come to me…

Do you remember him? I’ve written about him before because someone in my office takes him out every year about this time and fills him with things I can’t resist: Snickers, Almond Joy, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Three Musketeers, and 100 Grand Bars.


I can’t resist either

I was hoping to research all that candy and get permission to indulge my raging sweet tooth, but instead I found this article that ranks the 52 Best and Worst Halloween Candy.

almond joy

When you feel like a nut.

When I was little, I didn’t worry about eating candy. I simply spent weeks dreaming about getting as much as humanly possible. First. I would spend weeks thinking about what costume I’d wear, assembling the ensemble, and getting every detail just right. Whether I was Snow White (hot plastic mask and all) or Raggedy Ann with red yarn hair, my costume had to be thought out and ready for my big day.

Well, that was the way until I was about 9 and I decided that being a gypsy or bum was the easiest and fastest way to get out the door and begin my quest for more candy than one human could carry in a brown paper bag.

VALUE VILLAGE - Pop Culture Inspires Halloween Trends

Back then, I was guaranteed to walk around the neighborhood for a couple of hours. I didn’t worry about having to burn off all the calories because I knew I’d bring that bag of candy home and six big, hungry boys would eat 95% of it within hours of my arrival.

I miss those days. Now, if I bring home two tons of candy, there’s a good chance that my little family and I will eat more than is good for a small village. So I try to keep the candy out of my house until the very last minute, and then give away big handfuls to anyone who comes to my doorstep. Yes, even the mailman gets Kit Kats and 100 Grand Bars so I don’t eat them myself.

kids playing

Did someone say CANDY?

The fact that Smilin’ Jack is right outside my office door makes it harder for me to stay on the straight and narrow, but I’ve learned something along the way of this “eating right” journey. Deprivation is the mother of all food binges. If I want one tiny candy bar, I have it. That way, I can stop thinking about it. I don’t let that pumpkin scare me anymore. I save my energy for the truly scary things in life.


Now that’s scary

Once I’ve satisfied my craving,  I watch all the people sticking their grubby hands into that pumpkin and I realize…maybe I’m not so hungry after all.

Recipes: Healthy Halloween Ideas


Here are some really fun, healthier treats that you can whip up for your kids (or keep ’em for yourself…I won’t tell). You’ll find recipes for Monster Sandwiches, Frozen Banana Mummies, Goblin Potion, and more.

So, Hungry Lifers: what’s your favorite Halloween candy? How do you avoid eating too much of those little candy bars? What’s your best Halloween recipe? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!



October 28, 2015

Not-So-Scary Halloween Movies

by Maria Schulz

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat

With Halloween coming, there are a ton of commercials on TV for the latest spooky, scary, spine tingling, made in a day and cheap as can be movies out there. If you can play a slasher, stalker, zombie, psycho, witch hunter, demon slayer, vengeful demon, or homeowner of a possessed home you refuse to leave, you’re in luck.

If you’re like me, these movies do nothing except add onto the already sleepless nights you’re having. Is that noise on my roof an acorn…or A SEVERED HEAD? Is Jack the Ripper coming back through a portal in my closet TO KILL ME? How do I protect myself from the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE? I’d take a sleeping pill, but nobody needs me out driving around while I’m still asleep.

Since I don’t need any help frightening myself, I’ve come up with a few Halloween movies that people like me can really enjoy. So, here are my:

The early years

The early years

8 Not-So Scary Halloween Movies for Wimps Like Me

  1. MIDDLE AGED WEREWOLF: our hero remembers his glory days as a Teen Wolf when a terrifying night out meant lots of blood, huge memory gaps where he apparently painted the town red by killing lots of people, and some severe social problems caused by being a blood-thirsty maniac. These days, he works all day long at a soul-crushing desk job, does 12 loads of laundry at night, drives his teen werewolf kids to paint the town red, has huge memory gaps that are not caused by having any fun, and goes to bed by 10 pm. “Terrifying!” Middle-Aged Parent
  1. ZOMBIE H.R.: In the post-apocalyptic world, our Zombie H.R. hero must navigate the many social issues caused by regular folk having to work with zombie folk. He must call humans into his office to remind them that they have to wear torn, bloody rags, not have their mothers call to complain about work policies, and stop threatening to kill their co-workers just because they want to eat their brains. Since most offices don’t have lots of workers with brains, the carnage is kept to a minimum. “I’d love to find a motivated worker, even if he was a zombie.” H.R. professional
  1. SEVEN + SEVEN: A psycho has been leaving the word LEGCAPS in perfect script on a chalkboard easel along with the math problem of the day, with a note explaining that it needs to be re-written 100 times in perfect handwriting, erased, and then both erasers clapped for at least 5 minutes or there will be HELL TO PAY. The cops have no idea what that’s supposed to mean. The break in the case comes when one of the officers (a Catholic school kid) realizes that LEGCAPS stands for the Seven Deadly Sins (Lust/Envy/Greed/Covetousness/ Avarice/Pride/Sloth) and that the math problem can’t be solved because it was never taught. A used tissue on the ground makes him realize that the psycho is actually SISTER FELICITY! “I knew it was her all along!” Terrified former student

    Is that you, SISTER?

    Is that you, SISTER?

  1. GRIMM REALITY: After a poor performance review, God realizes that the Grimm Reaper is burnt out. In His infinite wisdom, He sends Grimm to earth to live among mankind where he must work as a midlevel business executive. He goes by the name “Mr. G.,” works endlessly in PowerPoint and Excel, participates in fantasy football, and talks a lot about metrics, quotas, and return on investment. He soon realizes that he would like to kill himself, but he can’t, since he is Death. “What a nightmare!” Non-business executive
  1. DEMON SEED: A demonic force possesses the soul of a landscaper and wreaks havoc on all of the lawns in town. Crabgrass! Dandelions! Burnt patches! Empty spots! Untrimmed Bushes! Now the local priest with a green thumb must take on this unholy visitor and send it back where it belongs…the city. “CRABGRASS! UGHHHH!” Stressed-out suburbanite

    OH NO...WEEDS!


  1. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD DMV: The undead take over the local Department of Motor Vehicles…and for the first time in anyone’s memory, it begins to run with speed and efficiency. “I’ve never enjoyed going to the DMV more!”—Moviegoer
  1. CHRISTINE: A middle-aged woman takes a sleeping pill to get some rest. As far as she’s concerned, she’s asleep. Actually, she is driving around town mowing down unsuspecting pedestrians, eating tacos, and singing with a mariachi band. “Hey…that’s just like my dream last night!” Middle-aged movie-goer

    Are you a vampire?

    Are you a vampire?

  1. TWILIGHT: A young, bored teenage girl starts dating a local boy who may just be a 100-year-old vampire. Oh wait…this is a real movie. “I cried when Kristen and Rob broke up! I’m a Twi-Mom!” –Scariest Moviegoer of All

Here are my choices for some real movies that let you celebrate Halloween without the gore:

young frankensteinYoung Frankenstein

Arsenic and Old Lace

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein

Monster House


The Birds

Any Twilight parody

The Hunger Games

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Meet Me in St. Louis (funny Halloween scene, because as my husband always says, somebody has to kill the Brunkhorsts)

Monsters, Inc.

Get your popcorn here!

Get your popcorn here!

Recipe: Scary-Good Halloween Popcorn

2 cups Popcorn (air-popped)

½ cup gummy worms

½ cup gummy bears

½ cup M&Ms

½ cup of your favorite chocolate (Hershey bar, Kit Kats, or Nestle Crunch, chopped)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Cayenne to taste (optional)

Cinnamon to taste (optional)

Make popcorn. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus a little cayenne, or cinnamon instead. Toss the popcorn with the spices of your choice, and then add gummies, M&Ms, and/or a favorite candy bar that’s been chopped into bits. Grab a handful and enjoy! Don’t forget to share.

So, Hungry Lifers: what would the plot of your not-so-scary movie be? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks—and Happy Halloween!

October 7, 2015

My Halloween Kryptonite

by Maria Schulz

This morning, I ate a healthy breakfast (egg whites and spinach on an English muffin) and packed some snacks for later (bananas, apples, Greek yogurt). I even packed a big bottle of water that I could refill throughout the day, because I dehydrate easily.

I hit all my exercise goals yesterday and got a big jump on them this morning. I was feeling pretty good about myself as I strolled into work.

And then…I encountered my Halloween nightmare. No, it wasn’t Freddie Krueger, Sister Felicity, or Donald Trump. It was someone even scarier.

It was Smiling Jack…a.k.a. the office candy basket.

Come to me...

Come to me…

To put this in superhero terms, if I was Superman, Smiling Jack would be my Lex Luther….and the chocolate inside of him would be my kryptonite.

I met Smiling Jack for the first time last year. He sat outside my cubicle door, with his big, gap-toothed grin, radiating his pumpkin-vibed siren song. COME TO ME, he sang, sounding remarkably like France Joli in her 1970s hit.

This jaunty decoration/pumpkin tease made an early appearance last week, but no one felt like filling him with candy. Oh, thank you sweet Lord. Not because I dislike chocolate. I do! I really do! If chocolate was Sally Field, she could definitely say that I like her, I really like her.

I really do like her

I really do like her

I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s only the first week in October. Nobody would bring in chocolate this early! Or maybe I’d get lucky, and they’d bring in lollipops, sweet tarts, and candy corn. I hate candy corn!

But everything changed today when one of my co-workers bought a super deluxe, big-enough-to-hide-a-couple-of-giants-in bag o’sweet chocolate goodness for everyone. But mostly, I think, for me.

When you feel like a nut.

When you feel like a nut.

I didn’t expect to face this kind of temptation so soon. If I had to pick a character from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to perfectly represent my feelings when in the presence of candy, I’d have to go with Augustus Gloop.

augustus gloop

Almond Joy! Kit Kats! Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! Nestle Crunch! Was Smiling Jack laughing at me? I’m not sure, but I guess I could’ve asked him. We saw each other approximately 300 times today.

Why is it that bananas, apples, and Greek Yogurt don’t have the same siren song as Smiling Jack? Is it because there’s not some big Greek yogurt basket filled with healthy goodies sitting outside my office door? What would a Greek yogurt basket even look like? Would John Stamos hold it? Would he sing a siren song to me? If he did, would it be “Lady Marmalade” by Patti LaBelle?

Gitchy gitchy ya ya ya ya

Gitchy gitchy ya ya ya ya

Let me think about that while I munch on my 47th Kit Kat.

Fortunately, all of my coworkers also seem to have the bionic hearing necessary to tune in to Smiling Jack’s siren song. Within minutes of his arrival, they all showed up like locusts in a Bible story. Soon there was nothing left but empty candy wrappers, broken promises, and a trail of tears.

I must admit, I was the one crying once the candy was gone. But then my co-worker said, “Don’t worry! I have about 30 pounds more in my desk!”

“Great!” I said, when what I should have said was, “Please move that f!#4Ing basket away from my desk before I launch myself into a diabetic coma!”

I need to figure out a way to avoid the candy tomorrow. So, here are my:

I'll give you twelve good reasons...

I’ll give you twelve good reasons…

12 Ways To Talk Yourself Out of A Candy-Bar-Induced Haze

  1. Suggest candy corn refills for Smiling Jack. Pronto!
  2. Walk away. Or in my case, turn away.
  3. Move that orange bas!2rd across the floor
  4. Remember: you never liked that song by France Joli
  5. When in doubt, eat Greek yogurt
  6. Imagine how good you’ll feel when you’re not 300 pounds
  7. Ask yourself: are you really hungry?
  8. Stop telling yourself to shut up because you are really hungry. No you’re not!
  9. Two words: candy zits
  10. All the calories you ate in chocolate – all the calories you burned this week = 2 extra pounds
  11. Make believe you’re 10 and you gave up chocolate for Lent
  12. Ask yourself: WWJSD? (What Would John Stamos Do?)


Healthy Halloween Treats

Treat yourself to pumpkin pudding, chocolate dipped clementines, 5-Ingredient Dark Chocolate bark, and more.


So, Hungry Lifers: what’s your favorite Halloween treat (good, bad, or really scary?) Leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

October 31, 2014

Not So Scary Halloween Movies

by Maria Schulz


When you feel like a nut.

When you feel like a nut.

Yes, it’s Halloween again! That magical day when the kids dress up in costumes, ring doorbells, and beg for candy. It’s also that day when you realize how cute your neighbor’s kids are in their Frozen or Ninja Turtle costumes, and that you forgot to buy candy.

I love Halloween and I always have. I used to think putting on makeup and running from door to door to get candy was as sacred a ritual as the search for the Holy Grail. If that shopping bag wasn’t so full it was about to give me a hernia, then it just wasn’t Halloween. I like candy so much, I even wrote about it in I Like Candy.

I always enjoyed walking with my kids and dog for hours, pounding on doors and yelling, “Trick or Treat!” The kids spent weeks finding their costumes and perfecting them, and I enjoyed helping. On the big day, I’d put on a costume too (my go-to costume was a 50s poodle skirt dress, while my dog went as a yellow Labrador). It was a fun way to meet the neighbors, get a little air, and have enough candy to last me through the next millennium.

Unfortunately, my door-to-door begging days have passed. My kids are too old to go trick or treating, and my dog doesn’t want to walk more than a few blocks. The scariest thing I’m going to see this year is the pumpkin candy holder that my co-workers put outside my door. It’s filled with candy and I’m trying to resist its siren song.

Come to me...

Come to me…

I’m sorry to see my trick or treating days end (for now), so I’m looking to start some new traditions. I’d like to watch a scary movie, but let’s face it: I’m a coward. I have written about this in past Halloween posts such as : Halloween Candy and a Movie and Halloween Thrills and Chills. It’s clear that I’m not really cut out for a movie marathon that features demons, demon spawns, witches, vampires, gore, blood, and werewolves with anger management problems. Even the commercials scare me! So in honor of Halloween, I’ve come up with some movie ideas for wimps like me. Ready? Let’s go:



Ouija Boards and Teachable Moments

A group of teenagers gather around a Ouija Board and open a portal to the great beyond. Once opened, their 3rd grade teacher returns from the dead to haunt them because they never turned in their homework. Ooooohhhhh….ARE  YOU READY FOR YOUR FINAL EXAM? “I was up all night!”–Former 3rd grader.

The Cooking Exorcist

When a young girl starts vomiting pea soup and becoming disfigured, her worried family wonders if she is in fact possessed by the devil. They go to their Catholic priest for help, and he brings a world renowned Exorcist with him to help. However, after they eat at Mom’s table, it’s clear that the only thing possessed is Mom’s terrible cooking, and the kid’s disfigurement is probably just a result of Mom’s inability to leave out peanuts from her allergic child’s meals. “Scariest movie ever!”—My kids

It was a dark and stormy night

It was a dark and stormy night

Drag me to a Government Office

A bank loan officer turns down a sweet old lady for a mortgage, and that old coot gets nasty and damns her to hell. The loan officer ends up in a 12-hour-line at the DMV. Karma or coincidence? You decide. “I think I’ve met this old lady! Scary stuff.”–Person in line at DMV



The Atlanta Horror

A couple buys an old house as a fixer upper, but quickly begin to think that it may be haunted. The fragrance of peaches and Jean Nate perfume lurks around every corner, and crossword puzzles appear as if by magic. Just when they bring in a priest to exorcise the house, the old lady who sold them the house pops out from behind a false-wall, where she’s been living and enjoying free food and cable. She got the idea from her favorite movie, Bad Ronald. “I was absolutely terrified!”–My friend Lisa, who is still recovering from a childhood viewing of Bad Ronald

Sing it with me one more time!

Sing it with me one more time!

Psycho Sings!

Guests keep checking into the Tates Motel, but they don’t check out. Reports get out that an odd innkeeper never takes down his vacancy signs, and lots of eerie music comes out of there late at night. Eventually, we learn that the innkeeper bursts in on guests while they shower, belting out renditions of “Tiny Bubbles” as he plays his ukulele. He then kidnaps them and forces them to join his homage band to Peter, Paul and Mary. “I was never so frightened by Puff The Magic Dragon in my whole life.”–Joni Mitchell

A Nightmare on Elm Lane

Children are going to bed and being haunted in their dreams by a deranged sock puppet/religious fanatic who wants to teach them all about embroidery, how to escape the fires of hell and be saved forever and ever.

Are you a vampire?

Are you a vampire?

Fright Night

A vampire moves in next door, and between his whiny girlfriend, baseball-playing family, and glittery skin, the neighbor can’t get any sleep. They turn to Tales From A Hungry Life’s post, Halloween Fun, for more on vampires, their annoying ways and the people who love them. “Glittery vampires! Isn’t Edward Cullen dreamy?”–Twi Mom

Here's 50 things I need you to do by 9:30 a.m.

Here’s 50 things I need you to do by 9:30 a.m.


An evil boss with no fashion sense and no people skills lurks outside cubicles with an armful of work. His subordinates have no choice but to run and hide before he catches them and sucks the life out of them with his boring water cooler stories. “I have not only seen the movie, I’ve lived it!”–Every office worker in America


Killer Tacos

Alien Invasion

A crew on a space ship succumbs to a gut-wrenching, body-convulsing form of possession…until the last member standing realizes it was just the after effects of Taco Night.

Hell Raiser Meets Harold and Kumar

A teenager with multiple piercings, a crazy hairstyle, and so many tattoos that he’s now completely unrecognizable is on a bold and horrifying quest to find…White Castle.

Worth the trip.

Worth the trip.

The Bayside Witch Project

A movie crew composed of former Catholic schoolchildren wanders into an empty convent to see if they can find any evidence of demonic possession. But what they find is even more frightening: Sister Mary Margaret is STILL ALIVE! “AAAAAAAAA!!!”–her former students


Is that you, SISTER?

Is that you, SISTER?


Raisin The Dead Snack Mix

Here’s a snack mix for you to munch on tonight, in between opening the door for little candy-seeking monsters and watching scary (or not) movies.


Scary good.

Scary good.

So, Hungry Lifers…what movie would you make for non-scary movie lovers like me? What’s your favorite part about Halloween? Have any fun recipes? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks, and have a safe, fun, Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2013

Halloween’s Best Costumes

by Maria Schulz

Yes, folks, Halloween is almost here! This is really good news, since most of you are probably tired of Halloween posts from me. However, I can’t let this holiday pass by without a post about this year’s best costumes and my own tortured Halloween-costume-past.

This year’s top Halloween trends include:

  • Miley Cyrus “twerking” it at the VMAs
  • The characters from Breaking Bad
  • Duck Dynasty
  • That fox from the YouTube video
  • The Minions from Despicable Me
I think I have those overalls and glasses somewhere...

I think I have those overalls and glasses somewhere…

For those of you who don’t know who “the fox” is or the very important things he has to say, check out this YouTube sensation:

The Fox (What Does the Fox Say)


Here’s more on the Top Halloween Costume Trends for 2013:


According to some reports, we’re going “old school” and traditional costumes are actually in this Halloween. Folks will be sporting such costumes as:

  • Batman
  • The Great Gatsby (Flappers & The Roaring 20s)
  • Vampires
  • Zombies
  • Pirates
  • Princesses

Here’s a list of these trends for adults, kids, and even pets from The National Retail Federation:


I’m happy to see that costumes are still going strong, even though it’s been awhile since I wore one. I have loved dressing up since I was a little kid. Sometimes, though, the costume caused more trouble than it was worth.

The first time I can remember a Halloween costume driving me crazy, I was only 5 years old. I begged my mother to buy me a store bought costume. Oh, but not just any costume would do: I had to have one with a plastic mask too. You know the one I’m talking about: the kind with the eye slits in them and the little holes for your nose, as well as your mouth.

Sorta like this

Sorta like this

As anyone who ever tried to go trick-or-treating with one of those olden days plastic masks can tell you, the minute you put one of them on, you found yourself in a strange, Halloween-inspired nether world. In this strange place, you could only hear yourself panting hard and feel your skin broiling slowly. If everyone you were trick-or-treating with learned that the house four doors down had Almond Joys and full sized Hershey Bars, you would be out of luck since you:

When you feel like a nut.

When you feel like a nut.

1) Couldn’t see where everyone else was heading because the eye slits in your mask made peripheral vision completely impossible

2) Only found out where everyone ran to once all the candy was gone and the old lady at that house was now handing out pennies

3) Felt sure you were about to die of heat prostration because your mask was hotter than the surface of the sun

4) Were at a further disadvantage because the other kids without masks had already run off to the next house with full-sized candy bars

5) Would probably get run over after you dashed into the street to try and find your friends, who were scoring bigger and better candy bars than you

I learned these truths the hard way when my mother actually gave in and bought me that Snow White costume and plastic mask I had been coveting. Other kids, including my brothers and neighborhood friends, chose to dress in costumes that included a pirate, Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx (my brothers went through a serious Marx Brothers phase), Cookie Monster, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Count Dracula, Charlie Brown, Cinderella, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, and Betsey Ross (what can I tell you? That kid was either very patriotic or a geek).

Notice that no one else was wearing a mask. This was my downfall, and perhaps the reason that I chose to go mask-less for the rest of my Halloween trick-or-treat lifetime.

The person whose costume really irked me was my neighbor. Let’s call her Tawny. Tawny had the perfect parents, the perfect house (or as perfect as the exact same house as ours could be, minus the 100 brothers, the junk everywhere, and the mounds of clothes and toys strewn across every square inch of real estate), and the bedroom (all to herself!) that I always wanted.

She had a canopy bed! Wasn’t this the secret to a complete and fulfilled life? Tawny’s bed was about 2 feet off the ground, requiring a small ladder and/or running leap to get into it. I know this, because we used to spend hours running from her parents’ doorway and catapulting ourselves up into that pink, gauzy wonderland.

Her bed was enveloped in a gossamer canopy that was draped in layer upon layer of princess pink material that shimmered and resembled butterfly’s wings. Her room was decorated with castles and stars, unicorns and rainbows.

My bedroom was decorated with four bunk beds that I shared with my three brothers, and one nightstand, that I used to climb onto so I could get out of the top bunk bed.



The only decoration in that room was my Sesame Street cardboard town, which I had to move around at random times of the day and night. Why, you ask? Well, that’s because my brothers liked to threaten to destroy it if I left it unattended. So really, my Sesame Street neighborhood was like a person in the Witness Protection Program, and I was the official in charge of finding it a home where it could remain safe and out of sight.

As if five-year-old me didn’t have enough reasons to wish I was Tawny, the Halloween I was dressed in my broiling hot Snow White mask, she came out the front door in a witches’ costume, hat and broom that was nicer than anything the costume designers in the Broadway production of Wicked ever created.

I can't compete with that.

I can’t compete with that.

So, Tawny scored tons of candy while I lagged behind, pulling my mask off and tossing it into my less-than-full bag. It was then that I vowed: “As God is my witness, I will never wear a Halloween mask again!”

As God is my witness...

As God is my witness…

Even at 5 years old, I dreamed big.

As I got older, I started leaving the planning of my Halloween costume to fate, my Muse, or whatever I could lay my hands on. I wasn’t choosy; any interesting, discarded clothing that I could grab to create something half-way decent was fine by me. The result? I usually ended up creating a gypsy or bum costume.

One year, I wanted to go as Lucille Ball stomping grapes. So, I grabbed my mom’s kerchief, some hoop earrings, a ruffled shirt and a flouncy skirt. Guess what everyone asked me? Not, “are you Lucy from I Love Lucy when she was in Italy stomping grapes?” but rather, “hey, are you a gypsy?”

Clearly, I am Lucy stomping grapes!

Clearly, I am Lucy stomping grapes!

Yeah, whatever. Just because you lack creative vision doesn’t mean I do!

Years later, I would enter a whole new world of Halloween costume craziness when I was working in a creative department. Human Resources encouraged everyone in the company to come in dressed in Halloween costumes, and then they promised to hand out ribbons in the cafeteria at lunch time and have an all-day orgy of Halloween cupcakes, cookies, and prizes. They spent the day walking around the building, popping in on employees and congratulating them on their costumes. “The crazier, the better” was their motto.

I didn’t really have a chance of winning the overall prize since that usually went to the artists, who were able to create special effects that made Hollywood make-up artists look like complete slackers. My only hope for a breakout moment was if I wore something that was funny.

I had a whole month to come up with something. But old habits die hard, and I didn’t have any costumes on hand the day before Halloween. However, I was in luck! My brother, Chris, offered me a clown costume he’d worn to a party that came with a rainbow wig, red nose, and yellow/green/red/blue striped jumpsuit with matching giant shoes.

“I think it’s too much,” I said.

“I got big laughs with this costume,” Chris said. “Wear it and you’ll see—everyone will get a kick out of it.”

So, with no other choices since I gave away that flouncy skirt, hoop earrings and ruffled shirt long ago, the next day I slipped into my clown costume, put on as much make-up as possible, and headed off to work.

Luckily, I did not get stopped by any policemen on the way there. Someone I used to work with years before had gotten pulled over while he was on his way to a Halloween party. The cops made him get out of the car and then fell over laughing at him because he was painted green from head to toe and was sporting a cardboard sign that said, “I’m Gumby, Dammit!”

Well, officer...just read the sign

Well, officer…just read the sign

Since the police were not out trolling for poor idiotic Halloween revelers that day, I arrived at my job without incident. Chris was right: everyone thought the costume was hilarious. I ended up in photos for the newsletter and made lots of people laugh. But that’s when I remembered that I had a meeting after lunch with a person from the business side of the company.

If it had been a meeting with someone from the 99% of the workforce that came in that day pumped and ready for Halloween candy and a blue ribbon for “most blood on a Halloween costume” or “Funniest giant shoes,” I would have been okay. If it was with someone in marketing or Human Resources, chances are that they would’ve come to the boardroom with a “hatchet” through their heads or dressed as Freddie Krueger.

This business plan is giving me a headache

This business plan is giving me a headache

Unfortunately, my meeting was with someone who had no sense of humor whatsoever and looked at me oddly even when I wasn’t in costume.

So, while everyone else was reveling in Halloween merriment, I went off to my meeting with the only guy there who wasn’t having any fun that day.

How was I supposed to know he had a pathological fear of clowns?

As I sat there with my pen and clipboard in hand and watched him frown at me for awhile, I forgot for a minute that I was in a costume. I thought it was pretty rude that he was staring at me like that, so I tried to have a serious conversation with him.

Is there a problem?

Is there a problem?

“Is something wrong?” I said, in my most professional voice.

“Yes,” he responded. “You’re wearing a clown suit.”

“It is Halloween, you know. I just came from the party.”

“I hate Halloween parties,” he said.

“Oh, really? I thought you were dressed up as a businessman,” I said, trying to lighten the mood.

“You know,” he replied, loosening his tie and sweating a little, “I HATE clowns.”

“Ha ha,” I said. “You should hear what they say about you.”

Not much was accomplished that day, especially since my colleague could not look at me without wanting to run away and hide. Which was fine by me, because I heard they had Halloween cupcakes downstairs and I had to hurry up or they’d all be gone.

That was one of my favorite Halloween costumes ever.

Halloween Recipes

Yum...spiderweb cookies!

Yum…spiderweb cookies!

Cooking Light put together this slide show of 25 Fun & Healthy Halloween meals, snacks & treats:



So, Hungry Lifers…what was your favorite Halloween costume when you were a kid? What’s your funniest Halloween costume “gone wrong” story? Will you be dressing–and twerking–like Miley Cyrus or telling the world “what the fox says?” Please leave a comment below and let us all know. Thanks–and Happy Halloween!

October 23, 2013

Halloween Thrills & Chills

by Maria Schulz

Anyone who has ever lived with siblings knows that Halloween (and really, any time of the year) often presents itself like a gift from the gods. Why, you ask? Because it’s the perfect time to scare the bee-jezus out of your little brother or sister.

My brothers used to have a really good time scaring me. That’s probably because I was the owner of a hyperactive imagination and I was convinced that the stairs in our old house were haunted. I was too young and naïve to hide that information from them, so they tortured me with it for years. They also always enjoyed:

  • Standing underneath the stairs to the basement (which was dark and scary in and of itself) and grabbing my leg while shrieking as I tried to walk by
  • Reinforcing our grandfather’s notion that the Boogie Man did, in fact, live in our boiler room
  • Suggesting that the entire house (including the staircase) was haunted
  • Letting me know that furthermore, not only was the house haunted, but I would soon be possessed
  • Telling me that no priest on Earth could save me
  • Playing television shows that weren’t inherently frightening, but watching for any signs of fear on my part and exploiting them exponentially. For instance, Alice Cooper may not have been the devil, but his makeup was scary, and once they saw me cowering in fear, they told me he would be coming for me



  • Finding new and bizarre ways to torture me, like playing the very corny and not at all scary TV show, A Year at the Top. Remember that gem? It was about two young guys who make a pact with the devil’s son to become rock-n-roll stars. My brothers were sad when it was cancelled just 5 shows into the season, mainly because they couldn’t watch me live in fear of the devil showing up.
  • Standing behind doors and screaming when I walked into the room
  • Encouraging me to stay up very late on a Friday night so I could watch The Night Stalker. If I made it, I would then be rewarded by being unable to sleep that night, or many nights to come
  • Putting on TV shows that were absolutely terrifying, including The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and an occasional Star TrekTwilight-zone-the-monsters-are-due-on-maple-street
  • Then of course, there was Creature Features on Saturday nights. The spooky music and the hand coming up out of the grave at the beginning of the show often put me over the edge, much to my brothers’ delight

Out of all of my siblings, my brother Chris didn’t try to frighten me very often. As my twin, we spent years being teased and frightened by our older brothers together, and so he was sympathetic to my plight. Our five older brothers would come up with ingenious ways to terrify us, and we always fell for it.



Once, when Chris was about 3 years old, he started playing with the telephone when he hit “0.” An operator came on, scolded him for playing with the phone, and told him to hang up. He dropped the phone and told our brothers what happened. This was probably a mistake, since they told him the police were coming for him and then ran after him afterwards, clutching the phone and singing “OPERATOR! OPERATOR! OPERATOR! OPERATOR!”

Chris and I were terrified that the police would soon come knocking on the door to take him away. And what would I do then? I couldn’t handle all that brotherly attention alone.

When we were in the second grade, Chris was too sick to go trick-or-treating. I missed having him by my side and I felt so bad for him. Missing Halloween seemed like the worst fate that could befall anyone, anywhere. So, at my mother’s prompting, I carried an extra candy bag and asked all of my neighbors for another piece of candy for my sick twin.

Trick or Treat

Trick or Treat

People thought it was touching that I was getting my sick brother candy. They enthusiastically threw extra pieces into my bag and his. Why I didn’t think of that scam sooner was not lost on me, except that most of my neighbors knew my brothers and me. I couldn’t exactly ask for extra candy for my sick brother when he was screaming “Trick or Treat!” by my side.

Not us.

Not us.

However, our lives were not exactly the Norman Rockwell painting I’ve just described. At no time, anywhere, were Chris and I considered saints. We enjoyed teasing, tormenting, or playing practical jokes on each other. Just because he didn’t usually try to scare me doesn’t mean he wouldn’t do so if the opportunity presented itself.

So of course, the opportunity presented itself.

My 8th grade English class had just finished doing our own rousing, in-class version of “When a Stranger Calls.” I was cast as the lead, and if I do say so myself, I made a very convincing potential victim.

Coincidentally, I had a babysitting gig for a pair of twins (boy/girl, just like Chris and me) that Saturday night. I happened to mention to Chris that my little charges’ house was undergoing renovations, and it freaked me out that the second floor was covered by a tarp. “Couldn’t someone just shimmy up the trellis and come in?” I said, kicking my imagination into overdrive. Then, I also mentioned that their neighbors had recently been burglarized. Chris just shrugged. I wasn’t even sure if he was listening to me.

It was a dark and stormy night

It was a dark and stormy night

So, off I went to babysit. That night was gray, windy and damp. The upstairs tarp was blowing vigorously, making spooky noises and causing weird cold spots in the living room. I was secretly wishing there was a door separating the upstairs rooms from me, but I was sure everything would be fine. At least, I hoped everything would be fine.

I got the twins to bed after a rousing episode of WKRP In Cincinnati and sat in the quiet house, watching television. The Love Boat was almost over when the telephone rang.

“Hello,” I said.

“I’m in the house, and I’m WATCHING YOU.” Someone whispered.

I just climbed up the trellis and thought I'd pop in

I just climbed up the trellis and thought I’d pop in

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!” I screamed, as I dropped the phone and ran around the house turning on every light and hunting for a weapon. I smashed the phone back on the cradle and then picked it up again and called my parents.

Oddly, our line was busy.

As this point, I was pretty sure that the phone line would die at any moment, and a psycho would be heading down the stairs to kill me. I was in a total lather when the phone rang again and I grabbed it.

You may ask why I would pick up the phone if a psycho just called and said he was watching me. Well, I’m not sure, except that I was hoping it was the police with some information that was vital to my rescue. Or maybe I was hoping it was Sister Clara, because in my eyes, she was certainly more frightening and could tell me how to get myself out of this situation.

Maybe she can save me

Maybe she can save me

“MARIA! MARIA! MARIA! It’s Chris! I was only kidding! It’s A JOKE!”

I burst into tears. My two little charges came out of their bedroom and comforted me while I brow beat my brother.

“What are you doing? Didn’t you think I would get upset? What if I’d called the police? What if I dragged the kids out of the house and ran away? Now the twins are awake, and if I can’t get them back to sleep, I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!”

Chris seemed really upset. I like to imagine that my brother regretted what he’d just put me through and was truly sorry. However, I think he was probably just panic-stricken that I was about to call my parents and tell on him.

This would have had dire consequences, since it would interrupt their Saturday night ritual of watching Fantasy Island. In one possible case scenario, my mother could insist that she and my father get right in the car, drive to my babysitting job, and stay with me until the parents of my “kids” came home.

Now that's scary

Now that’s scary

The very idea of disturbing my father, getting him up, dressed, and out of the house while he was half-awake and watching Ricardo Montalban and Hervé Villechaize help D-List celebrities play silly characters was perhaps the scariest prospect of all.

Tearing him away from this quiet moment of mindless TV would probably make him really, really angry. The only thing scarier would be the moment Dad discovered you were the cause of it—because then there would be hell to pay.

Once the drama died down, the twins sat in the living room with me and held my hands to comfort me. I let them stay up and we watched the rest of Fantasy Island together. Meanwhile, it took a whole sleeve of Oreos and a gallon of milk to talk me down.

What support groups are all about

What support groups are all about

The only after-effect I endured from Chris’s prank phone call “Fright Night” was a nasty cold. I’m not sure if it was from:

  • The momentary shock and belief that I was about to be visited upon by a psychotic lunatic
  • The twins, who were like little cold incubators with more victims than Typhoid Mary and the psychotic lunatic upstairs, combined
  • The draft blowing down from that gaping hole that was the second floor
  • The psychopath hiding upstairs who just happened to have a cold himself

It’s hard to tell.


Hmm, hmm good

Hmm, hmm good

Chicken Noodle Soup

If you’re feeling sick, there’s nothing better than a big, steaming bowl of chicken soup. Here’s a slide show of 25 Chicken Soup recipes that cover everything from the traditional recipe to delicious spins on the original:


Chicken soup is also a really satisfying meal after a day of trick-or-treating, or when you’re exhausted from a long day of tormenting your brothers or sisters.

So, Hungry Lifers: did your siblings ever scare you? What was the silliest—yet most terrifying—thing they ever did to you? Which TV Show freaked you out most: The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Creature Features, or was there something even more frightening? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!

October 16, 2013

Halloween Fun

by Maria Schulz

I was listening to the radio the other day when the DJ announced the results of their unofficial Halloween survey. The topic was: What are the Top 10 Scariest Halloween Movies of all Time? The answers weren’t exactly what I was expecting.

The happy family

The happy family

10) Poltergeist

9) The Exorcist

8) The Omen

7) Halloween

6) The Shining

5) Friday the 13th

4) The Blair Witch Project

3) A Nightmare on Elm Street

2) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

1) Psycho

Okay…what I want to know is: how on earth did The Exorcist come in at #9??? That movie freaked me out FOR YEARS! Likewise, The Omen messed with my head for far longer than I ever thought it would. And while I know from talking to my mother that Psycho was a truly scary, terrifying movie back in the prehistoric era—and it belongs on a scary movie list—there’s no way I would’ve ranked it as the scariest movie of all time.


I never thought The Shining was scary. Creepy, sure. Jack Nicholson axing his way through the door was kind of funny. But scary? Nah. Likewise, The Blair Witch Project did not scare me at all.

In fact, since The Blair Witch Project was a movie I saw on one of those early parenthood date nights, I remember being bored and almost falling asleep while watching it. At one point, the main female character yells, “We’re all gonna die OUT HERE!” and I yelled: “We’re all gonna die IN HERE!”

As you can see from my post, Halloween Candy and a Movie, I have a long and tortured history with some really scary movies. My Top Ten Scariest Halloween Movies list would look like this:

10) The Terminator

9) The Silence of the Lambs

8) Psycho

7) Seven

6) The Birds

5) Bram Stoker’s Dracula

4) Poltergeist

3) A Nightmare on Elm Street

2) The Omen

1) The Exorcist



And while we’re at it, here are five of my favorite “funny” Halloween movies:

5) Fright Night (the 1985 version)

4) Monster House

3) Scary Movie

2) The Nightmare Before Christmas

1) Young Frankenstein

young frankenstein

Speaking of movies that were funny and not necessarily scary, no Halloween post would be complete if I didn’t mention the phenomenon that was the Twilight series.

When my older daughter went through her Twilight phase, I read the books and watched the movies. I didn’t see what she saw in them, but I figured, “this can’t last forever…right?”

Right…until my younger daughter encountered Twilight. Oh geez. Here we go again.

I discussed this movie in some detail in my blog post Valentine’s and Vampires, but I still find myself wanting to understand more about Edward Cullen. Why do young women (and older women who should know better) love him?

It got me thinking…as long as I have to have this character in my house constantly, why can’t I ask him some questions along the lines of “what makes Edward Cullen TICK?” Sure, the answer is probably deer hunting and sullen-faced teen beauties, but come on! I have questions! So here’s my:

Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Interview with a Glittery Vampire

ME: So, Edward, thanks for coming here. I know how busy and tormented you undead folks are, so I really appreciate it.

EDWARD: Certainly. I understand how much it means to ardent Twi-Moms like you.

ME: Um…yeah. So, are you mad at your “father,” Carlisle Cullen, for making you a vampire?

EDWARD: Yes and no. Yes, because I kind of think it crosses the boundary of patient/doctor relationship. I mean, I was dying of the Spanish Influenza in 1918. Don’t you think maybe I would’ve preferred dying to being undead? I’m just sayin.

And then again, no. I really love being a tortured, undead person forever and ever.

ME: Really? Don’t you ever get sick of being 17?

EDWARD: Well, maybe a little. I mean, I am sick of going to graduations and listening to the valedictorian. You’d think I’d get at least one shot at being the valedictorian myself—I mean, I’ve had over 90 tries at it—but NOOOOO.

ME: You’ve got to be pretty sick of the prom, right? I mean, I only went to one and that was enough.

EDWARD: I know, right? Except my vampire friends tend to keep things interesting.

ME: How’s that?

What's not to love?

What’s not to love?

EDWARD: Well, there was this time that my vampire pal, James, crashed the prom and killed all the chaperones. Ha, ha, boy was that a fun prom. We had a keg and everything! Or the time that my vampire brother, Jasper, cried because he wasn’t voted Prom King and he killed everyone! Boy, those were some good times.

ME: So, I guess you were not surprised when Victoria showed up and started to plot Bella’s death at the prom?

EDWARD: Oh, I knew she was there. One of my undead abilities, in addition to glittering in the sunlight, is a very keen sense of smell. So I knew Victoria was hanging around.

ME: What does she smell like?

EDWARD: White Castle.  You can smell her from miles away.

Worth the trip.

Worth the trip.

ME: But when you caught her smell, weren’t you worried about Bella?

EDWARD: No, at first I was just hungry. It’s what I crave!

ME: But what about when you realized it was Victoria?

EDWARD: Oh, yeah well. Once I knew it was Victoria, I was kind of disappointed. But then, I was kind of glad. The truth is, that night Bella was a drag. I kinda wanted Victoria to kill her. I mean, she didn’t even compliment my tuxedo. AND what was with those clunky shoes?

ME: She had to wear those shoes since James tried to kill her…because of you.

EDWARD: Oh sure, get technical. Anyway, I can’t go to the prom with the same human every year! Plus I couldn’t really bust a move because James broke her leg. So that meant that I had to be all romantic. Yuck.

twilight prom

ME: Okay, moving on…. I need to know something. How exactly did you realize you glitter?

EDWARD: Funny story! I was still eating humans at the time (it’s a really hard habit to break. Sort of like smoking, or playing Candy Crush Saga). Anyway, I was tracking this big fat guy who would’ve held me over for days when I stepped out into the sunlight.

All of a sudden, I had 40 humans pointing at me screaming, ‘He shimmers! He sparkles! HE MUST BE RADIOACTIVE!’ Of course, that was when I lived on Love Canal, so I wasn’t the only one.

ME: You mean they didn’t realize you are a vampire?

EDWARD: What the hell kind of vampire did you ever hear of that shimmers? Most of the vampires I’ve met spend their days lounging in a coffin because they’ve got this Goth thing going on. But me? I had to have a vampire Dr/Dad from a beach town! He was totally into sunshine so now he glimmers in the sunlight instead of burning or tanning. And now every vampire he’s ever made does too!

ME: Is that why you skip school so often?

EDWARD: No! I’m working on my valedictorian speech. I’ve taken Intro to Statistics 95 times, and I can tell you that the odds of my becoming valedictorian get greater and greater every single year.

ME: Now that you have 95 diplomas, why don’t you just go to college? Or maybe get a job?

EDWARD: Well, my Dad says that people in college ask too many questions. Like, say I had to share a dorm room with 3 other guys. They might wonder why I never sleep or eat or drink. Plus, my 95 framed high school diplomas might give me away.

ME: But you could still get a job.

EDWARD: I had a job once working the late shift at the Taco Bell drive through.

ME: How did that go?

EDWARD: I was forced to quit after I ran after a carload of diners and dashers.

ME: Oh no! Did you kill them?

EDWARD: No, I gave them their Nachos Bell Grande before I realized that they never paid me. My boss got so mad he threatened to make me clean the walk-in-freezer, so I quit. I mean, that walk-in freezer is SCARY!

Wait! Wait! Your Nachos!

Wait! Wait! Your Nachos!

ME: All righty…let’s move on. Does Jacob threaten you? Are you afraid that one day Bella might leave you for him?

EDWARD: Well, I was in the beginning. But then I realized how much she loves me when I inexplicably broke up with her in the middle of a forest and left her laying there for days, despite the fact that Victoria was looking for her and meant to kill her. I mean, if that’s not love, what is?

ME: Don’t you think that was kind of…stupid?

EDWARD: Possibly, but when you’re a 112-year-old vampire, you see humans do lots of stupid things.

ME: Like what?

EDWARD: Let’s take Bella’s dad, for instance. He’s a cop that never seems to realize that his population of 100 people consists of about 98 vampires and werewolves. So, he and Bella are the only people who aren’t actually dead. Doesn’t that seem stupid to you?

ME: Sure does. But what kinds of stupid things have you seen Bella do?

EDWARD: There was the day she went to the gym wearing her “Team Jacob” tee shirt. She thought it was hilarious, but it took a dozen silver bullets and an entire box of milk bones to get rid of Jacob.

And he's the happy-go-lucky one

And he’s the happy-go-lucky one

ME: That does sound pretty dumb. Say, young girls really seem to love you. Can you explain why?

EDWARD: It could be the horrible way I treat Bella. Chicks dig that. Or it could be that I’m insanely jealous of that dog she hangs out with.

ME: Do you mean Jacob?

EDWARD: No, I mean Pepita, her Chihuahua. Pepita loves to say, “Bella loves me more than you!”

ME: Are you saying that you and the dog can talk to each other?

EDWARD: Yes and no. Pepita is from Tijuana, so her accent is hard to get sometimes. But mostly, yes.

ME: Okay! Look, I know you have a lot of important, undead-related activities to attend to, especially with Halloween right around the corner.

EDWARD: No problem, I’ve got all eternity! Ha, ha, ha. Little vampire humor there for you.

ME: Right! So if you could share the most romantic things you’ve ever said or done to win Bella over, what would they be?

Happier times

Happier times

EDWARD: First of all, say sweet things like, “I love watching you sleep when you don’t know I’m even here,” and “I hate you for making me love you. I wish you were dead!” Girls love that! And if your girl friend ever says, “did you follow me?” you should always reply, “Of course I followed you! I even watch you when you’re in the bathroom. I have X-Ray vision, you know.” Another line that always kills (literally) is: “I’d rather see you dead than with him.”

ME: Anything else?

Meet the in-laws

Meet the in-laws

EDWARD: Yes. Remember, when romancing a young lady, make sure to take her to fancy places like Rome. Introduce her to your friends, even if doing so can end up with her being killed by a weird Vampire council.

Next, promise her a beautiful wedding on a lush tropical island. Make sure you leave out the part about impregnating her with your demonic half-vampire spawn, though. It kinda ruins the fantasy.

Promise you will fight to the death for her no matter what. Then kill her. This way, she and your demonic half-spawn can fight too.

Accept her friends, no matter how much you might like to kill them. This one is true even for non-vampire relationships. Just remember to insist that they keep their shirts on, get de-clawed, and go for weekly flea dips.

ME: Unfortunately, that’s all we have time for. Thanks for answering my questions, Edward.

EDWARD: My pleasure! I haven’t had this much fun since World War I!

ME: That’s it, folks. Next year, I’ll try to interview Bella if and when her undead schedule permits.


Dead Man's Meatloaf

Dead Man Meatloaf

This recipe looks easy to make, got great reviews, and is a scream! I forgot to ask Edward if he likes meatloaf, but it looks good to me.


When I was little, my mom used to make the best stuffed peppers. Here’s a recipe for stuffed peppers with a Halloween twist:

Jack-o-Lantern Stuffed Peppers


halloween stuffed peppers

So, Hungry Lifers: which movies are your scariest Halloween picks? Funniest Halloween movies? If you could ask Edward Cullen one question, what would it be? Please leave your comments below, and let us all know. Thanks!