How to Repurpose Leftovers

How to repurpose leftoversI recently had a get-together and made a mountain of fajitas. Unsurprisingly, I made way too much. I thought, well, at least these will be good leftovers. The next day came and went, and the next—but I made new dishes. I just wasn’t in the mood for fajitas. And it didn’t help that my fridge gusted Casa Bonita every time I opened it. I was totally fajita-ed out just by the scent. But I had to use the meat—I wasn’t about to be the prodigal consumer and throw it away. Then it occurred to me: I could repurpose the leftovers. But how? Hmm…well, I couldn’t put it in an Italian dish because the spices would be a bit across the pond from Italy, and I couldn’t put it in, say, an Indian dish because that would be like putting a sombrero over a cup of chai—it’d cover up the flavors. (Although, Indian-Mexican fusion is starting to catch on in California I hear; we’ll see…) So I decided that the meat was best suited for my red chili. The spices and herbs on the meat—cilantro, cumin, chili, jalapeño, and garlic—were all chili-friendly, which is not hard to do because chili is so versatile. It’s the kitchen-sink of dishes.

I chopped the meat into small chunks, and made my chili the way I always do—apart from having to cook raw ground beef. And it was great—better than my usual! My husband had thirds.

Beaming with success, I started to think of other dishes that end up as leftovers and how I’ve repurposed them into something new (or didn’t but could’ve): Steak, rotisserie chicken, turkey, bolognaise, pot roast, mashed potatoes, corned beef, meatloaf, and roast beef come to mind. So many options!

The Sammies: You can pretty much put a piece of last night’s meat in between bread and call it a sandwich—this is actually my favorite thing to do with cold meatloaf. Add a squirt of ketchup, and I’m twelve again eating lunch with my mom on a rainy Saturday. But there are quite a few more ways to reinvent the cooked meat sitting in your fridge. Poultry can be chopped up and mixed with mayonnaise, celery, and green onion to make a “salad” sandwich. I like putting a ½ teaspoon of curry in mine. You can pull apart your pot roast or pork roast meat and mix it up with barbecue sauce and have a barbecue sandwich hot or cold. You can thinly slice your steak or roast beef, sauté some onions, throw in the meat, lay some cheese over the top, then just as the cheese melts, spatula it into a hoagie for a cheese steak. Another sandwich you can make with your leftover roast beef is an Italian beef: thinly slice the roast, boil it in a beef broth spiced with Italian herbs and garlic, sauté some bell peppers, then put it all in a hoagie and throw some giardiniera on top. Gotta corned beef lying around after St. Pat’s? Make it into a Reuben: put your corned beef on rye, layer with Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and Swiss, then grill it up.

Zee Soups, Stews, and Salads: Stews are like chili; you can let your imagination fly. Any meat can be put in a stew—just don’t get too wild. Like if you have some leftover salmon (not the band), I wouldn’t put it in a thick beef-based stew with heavy vegetables (yucky); it would be more suited for a cream-based stew like chowder or a wineo -based stew like bouillabaisse.  Leftover chicken is amazing in a homemade or canned chicken soup—I love to put it in chicken ramen with some frozen peas then finish it off with an egg drop. Of course chicken and steak are great on top of salad. Steak goes well in an arugula salad with gorgonzola, red onion, and tomato, drizzled with a vinaigrette. Yesterday’s chicken is nice on top of a Caesar salad, or a pear-walnut salad.

Veggies: Mashed potatoes are usually given away in mass quantity at my family’s holiday parties. They’re great to heat up and serve with bratwurst, mustard and sauerkraut (bangers and mash with a German twist). You can also make potato patties out of your mashed potatoes, which basically involves sautéing green onion, folding them into your mash, and mixing in an egg. Fashion your mixture into patties and fry them in the skillet. Overdid it on the vegetable tray? If you think you need to throw away the food because it was “public” and you don’t know whose nose-picking son picked up a carrot stick then put it back down when he saw a cookie, think again (after you rewash and inspect for alien bits). You can cook the veggies and they will be no more germy than a tomato that, before you cooked it, was squeezed by five strangers at the grocery store.  Save your cherry tomatoes for chili or red sauces, and your carrots and celery for shepherd’s pie or a stir fry. Snap peas are great in a stir fry as well.

Miscellaneous dishes: Leftover steak works well in beef stroganoff. You can take your bolognaise from Wednesday’s spaghetti dinner and use in a lasagna or a baked ziti on Saturday. My sister likes to put leftover rotisserie chicken in a red sauce and make chicken cacciatore. You can also make salmon patties by mixing the salmon with breadcrumbs and frying them up in the skillet. And practically any meat or vegetable can star in a frittata.

Yes, repurposing leftovers. I admit it’s not an entirely savory way of describing it. (And that bit about nose picking probably didn’t help…) I like to think of it as food prep: I “prepped” the cheese steaks four nights ago when I wrapped up my gorgeously cooked roast beef and put it in the fridge. Re-cooking cooked food is like hiring an imaginary sous-chef—or finding a twenty in your jeans—you helped yourself out so long ago, you don’t even feel like you were involved.

So next time you’re stuck with three pounds of cooked meat, think of it as being one step closer to a brand new meal. Repurpose leftovers into a new creation. And if you feel stuck—like you’re just going to have to make last night’s steak dinner today’s steak dinner—all you have to do is chop it up and throw it in a chili. Or a stew, or make a sandwich, or put it on top of a salad….Serenity Icon

Hitting Puberty

hitting pubertyMy pre-teen has become an eye-rolling ball of snark. I’m doing my best to be cool about it. Hitting puberty, much? Most of his responses have a “duh” undertone nowadays that delights in so many ways. If I didn’t have such healthy self-esteem, I’d worry I was the stupidest person in the world. Simple questions like “Do you have a ride home?” or “Did you bring a jacket” are met with an insolent “Of course! Why wouldn’t I?!” The other day his Xbox was taking a long time to download a game. I told him our router was overloaded and he said in his most accusatory voice, “Oh gee, thanks a lot Mom!”  I suck.

He has an accent now too. This might be because he has about a pound of metal in his mouth from upper and lower braces and a built-in retainer. He has his own flavor of “ermahgerd,” I suppose. (Google this meme and you will see several iterations of a girl wearing a retainer holding Goosebumps books with various phonetic captions demonstrating her metal mouth speech, such as “Ermagerd! Gersberms!  Ma Farvrit Berks! Translation: Oh my god! Goosebumps! My favorite books!”) But one of his affectations is non-metallic in origin. He does this thing where he swallows his Ts. For example, a normal person would say, “Martin” or “Spartan” or “water.” My son likes to say, “Mar-in” Spar-in” and “wa-er.” We don’t know why.

This may be payback for what I put my parents through when I was an adolescent. I was the sovereign of snark. I also wrote poems that no one could possibly understand then slap my palm to my head in disgust when my poor parents were “too out-of-touch” to get them.  And I had an accent. To this day, my father signs off on his emails, “Love, Dald.” This is an effort to remind me of the “Oh ma gald!” valley girl accent I sported from age twelve to 17. Yes, I spewed extra Ls and “likes” and I will never, ever live it down. Geez, Dald! I’m like 42! Gald!

Because of my son’s sudden hormone-induced change in demeanor, we’ve been talking about the big P lately. When I “became a woman,” as my parents called it when I was growing up, my mother made me a special dinner. I ate my baked halibut and artichokes like a queen (with cramps).

What my mother experienced was quite different. In the early 60s it was all hush-hush and blush-blush. Back then, they had very romanticized packaging for feminine hygiene products. My mother recalls one that depicted a woman who looked like Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind. When she was little, she begged her mother for the product—its contents—a mystery. Her mother sharply shamed her, of course: “That’s not for little girls!” When her mother felt her daughter may soon bloom (which was two years premature), she took my mother on a walk past the dime stores and soda shops and told her about what was inside the box displaying the Scarlett O’Hara look-a-like. Her mother tried her best to explain the sanitary belt, napkins and their purpose.  To that my mother probed, “So it happens just when you go to the bathroom?”

“No! All the time!”


My mother told me there was so much confusion about it that when her girlfriend said, “I have a secret to tell you…I know what a period is,” my mother responded, “That’s nothing…I know what menstruation is!”  Even after they compared notes, they still had no idea that they were talking about the same thing.

When my mother’s “womanhood” appeared, she was at her Aunt Bonnie’s. It was her older cousin, not her mother, who gave her the tutorial.  They thought that would be best… I think they were probably right.

Because of my mother’s kind celebration of my womanhood, I vowed I’d do the same for my girls. Two boys later with no girl in sight, I determined it wasn’t in my cards—partly because I couldn’t figure out the mark of manhood. I mean I could figure it out… if you think in terms of reproduction, the male pubescent equivalent to the female…. Ahem. Some things are better left silently celebrated. To reluctantly err on the side of sounding like a blast from the 60s, I needed a socially acceptable mark. And then I got one: My nephew sprouted a few hairs under his arms. While a few regarded this as a secret awkward thing, I saw a celebration.  I started to talk it up. “Son, when this happens, how about dinner and a movie?”

He looked at me with horror and fascination. My eight-year-old laughed and laughed. Uh-oh. Was I being “that mom?” The one who thinks she’s being really cool but she’s actually totally out-of-touch?

Last week I took the guys in for their annual physicals. I typically do them back to back with the same pediatrician, which puts us in the same exam room at the same time. My eldest has never had a problem with me being in the room when he was required to drop trou. But this time, the doctor suggested I leave, which wasn’t necessary since I was already headed for the door with his giggling brother. When we were allowed back in, the doctor stepped out. The youngest asked his big brother, “So…do you get to have an armpit date with Mom?”

To that he blushed and sputtered, “SHU’ UP!”

I queried, “Do you–”

He stopped me and shouted, “Leave me alone!”

So I did. Later in the week, I asked if he thought dinner and a movie would be fun when the time comes, and he told me that he thought his little brother would most likely earn the date before him. Great.  I was that mom. I forgot how agonizing it was to “earn” the special dinner. Let’s just say womanhood visited my girlfriends way sooner than it visited me. Hitting puberty is different for everyone.

So here we are. After all of that, we decided that we would have a date to celebrate his pre-pubescence. Possibly several dates… (Son: “Wha’? You wan’ uh PP date?! Don’ ‘ell anyone! ”) Or maybe one date… Cheers to staying a boy as long as you can!

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Profile of a December-Born

Christmas HollyIn celebration of my birthday, I’ve written about what it’s like to have a December birthday. I have listed 15 factoids.

Profile of a December-born: Holly Noel. Born during a blizzard in Illinois on December 15. Christmas baby.

Factoid #1: I dated a guy called “Snow” for 3 years. If I would have married him, my name would have guaranteed tea with Mrs. Claus.

Factoid #2: I have received many birthday-slash-Christmas presents from friends. When I was a teenager, to make the point that this was not an acceptable trend, I told one of my friends during her April birthday, “You remember that present I gave you for Christmas? Happy Birthday!” Sounds like the punch line to a snarky greeting card. You’re welcome, Hallmark.

Factoid #3: I have redefined the birthday-slash-Christmas present; my husband is allowed to buy me a little present for Christmas provided that he buys a big birthday present. (However, somewhere between December 16 and December 23, he forgets about the big birthday present, and buys me a normal Christmas present. Ah…the gift of giving. )

Factoid #4: I have received ornaments and Christmas decorations for birthday presents. Admit it summer babies; you’re totally jealous.

Factoid #5: I have actually asked for Christmas decorations for my birthday. What? They’re expensive.

Factoid #6: My birthday parties almost always coincide with office Christmas parties. To avoid this, one year, we decided to have a party at the beginning of December. Apparently, the office people didn’t get the memo that it was my day for a party; they were all about the Santa hats, eggnog and rum, and photocopies of their bums on my day.

Factoid #7: I have to schedule my birthday parties around weather forecasts. Blizzards tend to keep people at home. I’m lucky my mom showed up to my birth; she hates icy roads.

Factoid #8: Flu season is a factor. On my Sweet  16, I caught a little bug called the Shanghai Flu. It laid me out for 3 days. My dad reports that I, in a delirious, febrile state, wondered into the living room and tried to lick the Christmas tree. Stopping me before I did, he gently inquired, “Holly? What are you doing?” I told him that I was trying to reduce the molecules. He got me a big glass of ice water and tucked me back in bed. Who said the flu isn’t fun?

Factoid #9: I tend to get to go to Christmas events and parties on my birthday proper—provided that my birthday does not fall on a Friday or Saturday. In that case, I respectfully miss said event/party and do my own thing. It’s kind of weird when I have to attend. I’m torn between keeping it a secret or divulging it. One birthday, I decided to keep it a secret because my husband had to perform a classical guitar piece for a choir. His mother, who understandably was completely focused on her son, totally forgot that it was my birthday. At the end, she lavished him with roses. I smiled at him, and he gave them to me. His mother looked at him in a way that said, “So that’s how it works in your relationship .…” He kissed me and said, “Happy Birthday, Sweetie.” If you’re gonna re-gift, I supposed that’s the way to do it. His mother fully supported it.

Factoid #10: I’ve never had an outdoor swimming party for my birthday. I’ve also never worn a sundress, shorts, flip-flops or flippers on my birthday. Note to Bucket List: Schedule trip to Aruba for my 50th.

Factoid #11: Friends and family from afar tend to show up to my birthday parties. “Aw shucks, guys! You came out for little ol’ me? Air travel is so expensive.” They tell me that they’re actually home for the holidays. I say, “Right. The Holly-days…” Sillies.

Factoid #12: My name has a habit of showing up in songs around my birthday. Check it out:  “Noel, Noel…” “Deck the halls with boughs of holly (bows of Holly)…” “The holly and the ivy…” “Have a holly jolly Christmas…” See what I mean? It’s freaky.

Factoid #13: My birthday presents are sometimes wrapped in paper that looks suspiciously like Christmas wrapping. Me: “Nice reindeer paper…” Gift Giver: “What? That’s a reindeer??? I thought it was an elk.”

Factoid #14: If on my birthday I feel like watching Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (both versions), It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (both versions), ScroogedA Christmas Story, or A Christmas Carol (all versions) chances are, I can.  All I need to do is flip through a few channels, and voilà.

Factoid #15: My birthdays are very beautiful: fairy lights dusting trees, snowflakes glinting like 1942 rhinestones, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, sleigh bells and sleigh rides, Baileys and hot cocoa, joyful children, and John Lennon reminding us we can stop the fighting if we want to.

Whew. Merry Birthday to me. Happy Holidays to you! Thanks for having a cuddle in March, Mom and Dad. I feel special in December. Peace on earth.Serenity Icon



Top 5 Scares

ScaresI think scaring people is enjoyable–probably much in the way horror authors and filmmakers or spook house creators do. That reaction—the yell, the jump, the popping eyes—tickles my funny bone. In honor of Halloween creeping up on us, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite ways I have scared strangers, friends and family.

1. The Trick-or-Treat Scare: For several years now, I have turned my yard into a graveyard for trick-or-treaters. On Halloween I am the candy giver. But my favorite job is the fog master. The faux gravestones, staked glowing skulls, floating ghosts and looming grim reaper set the scene, but the fog machine is the pièce de résistance. We hide it under rocks right by the door. Just after the doorbell rings, I press the fog button from inside my house and hear the screams. Mwhaaaaaaaah! It’s a pretty good scare:  I’ve gotten high-fives from suspiciously tall trick-o-treaters (trick-or-teenagers); I’ve seen wee princesses and ninjas run away without getting candy, and I’ve actually gotten apologies from parents for their toddler being too scared to approach the terrifying lady holding the candy bowl. (Shouldn’t I be the one apologizing??)  But now that I have told y’all my secret, I’m going to have to change it up. Nothing worse than a perfectly fearless 5-year-old zombie.

2. The Unintentional Scare. My father has always been sensitive to noise. To protect his ears, he built himself an office in the far corner of the basement to get some peace from his four loud children. Being sensitive to his auditory sensitivity, my mother would make one of her brood let him know that dinner was ready in person in lieu of shouting it from the kitchen. This too was a task that needed to be done with sensitivity. If you approached him too quietly then spoke, you’d be accused of sneaking up on him, which turned him into a sullen diner who’d ruin dinner. If you were too loud on the approach, you’d hurt his ears, and he’d hurt yours right back with a harangue and consequently, ruin dinner. I used to call it walking on egg shells. It was my turn to tell my father, so I trotted down the basement stairs with just enough clomp and stomp that announced me in an acceptable way. Feeling confident that he heard me because I saw him look up from an algebraic equation, I slipped into his office and said not too loudly, “It’s time for dinner.”

He screamed as if I were a monster who had just said, “You are dinner.” Not expecting his response, I reacted in the same way one might react to being jumped by a vampire: I screamed. Apparently, my scream was a frightening behavior and my father yelled yet again with the same vigor. I cackled as my father stared. I reenacted the ridiculous roaring and my father’s shell cracked. He laughed too. And dinner was delightful.

3. The Intentional Scare. My friend was sitting on my garden-level patio patiently waiting for me to finish unpacking some groceries and join him. As I walked up the sidewalk, I could see him sip his beer through the fence slats. Back then, I lived in an old Tudor in Platt Park. My 75-year-old house had some unexplained happenings that I told my friend about: a securely placed ceramic soap dish plummeted to its demise all by itself; an old woman donning a black bonnet popular in the 1800s was sighted several times peering into my kitchen window; my toddler told me about a ghostly man in a black suit that would often stand in the bathtub and watch him sit on the toilet. To my friend, my house felt a bit spooky. So naturally, I decided to capitalize on that. I put my bag of groceries down and tiptoed to the perimeter of the patio. Hidden by the fence overgrown with autumn hops, I growled very softly. My friend stopped mid-sip and his eyes widened. I smothered a laugh with my arm and waited long enough for him to decide it was his imagination and get back to the business of drinking. His lips made contact with the beer bottle, and I knew that was my cue: “Grrrrrrrrrr…” All alarms on.  He was ready to fight or flee. With his posture on full alert, he waited for another growl. But I didn’t give it to him. I waited again. He sipped his beer looking left, then right. Suddenly, I peeked over the fence expelling a ROAR!  After he was finished swearing and wiping beer off his shorts, we had a laugh.

4. The Scare-OP. I was cute-pregnant and my sister, who was six months further along, was gigantic-ready-to-pop pregnant. She told me to go through her closet and find the maternity clothes that she grew out of so that I could wear them before I too was splitting at the seams. We had plans to go out to dinner, so she took a shower as I flipped through clothes. She must have forgotten that I was in her closet, because after her ablutions, she lumbered onto her bed in her birthday suit for an après shower repose, baby belly basking in the heated fall air. I was stuck in the closet faced with two options: I could announce myself behind the door and scare her inadvertently or just pop out and scare her purposely. I reasoned she was safe on the bed–either scare would not cause her to fall off—her belly alone would stop her from rolling. So I went for the full-on pop out of the closet. And that’s how we got my nephew. Just kidding. But to this day, she will tell you that she was so shocked she almost gave birth right then and there. I wouldn’t recommend this scare unless you’re skilled in birthing babies.

5. The Hiccup Scare. You may have heard about scaring the hiccups out of someone. Most of the time it doesn’t work, but if you get it to work just once, you will forever frighten friends to relieve them of this annoying diaphragm malfunction.  A friend of mine had the hiccups. We tried some crazy things to relieve him, one of which was to guzzle a glass of water with a pencil resting horizontally between his lips. Another was to drink water upside down, standing on his head. With those two failed efforts, we decided to wait it out. But he continued to hiccup. So I knew what I had to do: I would yell his name when he wasn’t expecting it. We were talking about some sensitive subject like hunger in Africa, then I seized the moment and yelled his name. He was so frightened he grabbed both my arms, unhinged his jaw and screamed a primordial “GAAAH!” I felt so bad that he reacted that way (as I was laughing my butt off), I apologized profusely and explained my intentions. He waited for the hiccup to happen. But it didn’t. Voilà.

So there you have it. If you are concerned about the “bad” karma I must be racking up, don’t be. There is another person in my house that likes to scare me. My oldest likes to stalk me in my basement office, spy on me in the kitchen, and walk closely, undetected behind me like a shadow. When he pops out, I yell every time and demand, “Don’t ever do that again!” But he doesn’t listen because he’s laughing too hard. And I don’t ruin dinner over it. Happy Halloween.

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Halloween Traditions

Halloween traditionsDepending on where you live and who you know, people have various Halloween traditions.  When I was a kid in Highlands Ranch, the customs were pretty straight-forward: We carved pumpkins, dressed up and went trick-or-treating. Sometimes we went to a party. Sometimes my dad would take us to a spook house (as he called it; they have terrifying names now like “The Asylum,” or “Primitive Fear: The Apocalypse”). My husband lived in New Jersey for a while and he had to trick-or-treat at his own risk: kids in those parts would get creamed with shaving cream by skulking ghouls. They would put an aerosol cap on top of the can so they could spray the shaving cream twenty feet. Nothing like the stench of Barbasol to complete a fairy princess and ballerina costume. I guess it was pretty fun if you were in a group and armed—ready to square off with another gang of cream-slingers. Plus, the consequences of being creamed were next to nil; shaving cream brushes off with little effort when it dries. What wasn’t fun was when some goons would use Nair instead. Scaremongering also seemed to be a custom in the 80s and 90s no matter where you were. The media’s unrelenting misinformation about Halloween poisonings and their resulting urban myths gave us something to “really” fear on Halloween. Back then, if any kind old lady was out of touch enough to offer something homemade like cookies, caramel apples, or hot cider, she might as well have been the Witch in the gingerbread house in Hansel and Gretel. Unfortunately, she’d probably be met with the same suspicion by some today.

Fear gave rise to the “custom” of inspecting the treats. Last time I checked, I didn’t die from Halloween candy, but I still inspect wrappers for signs of tampering. Maybe this custom gave rise to the Switch Witch. Know this one? You can convince your kid to give up all their candy in exchange for money or a gift from the Switch Witch. That way, parents don’t have to deal with confection inspection (or spazzed out sugar kids for two weeks straight). One custom I could definitely do without is bobbing for apples. One year, my mom took my sister and me to a Halloween party at a fast food joint. We got there a little late because of trick-or-treating. I saw a wet-headed Spider-man and a vampire cheering on a headless Hulk. My mom said, “Oh look, girls they’re bobbing for apples!” Hulk’s head suddenly appeared with an apple hanging from its teeth. At first, I was game, then I saw the water. It was grayish blue with a white snot floating on the surface. Yeah. So I put my head in there—just kidding. GRODY TO THE MAX (was probably what I said). I guess it’s fine if you’re the first person.

A mysterious custom I learned about when I first moved to Genesee was the “Phantom Ghost.” (Yes, the name’s redundant, whatever.) So there’s this ghost or phantom or both that deposits treats and a note on your doorstep, then ding dong ditches you. The note tells you to make two copies of the note, get two treats, then ding dong ditch two of your neighbors. Pretty spooky, huh? Wait. Wouldn’t that mean that there’s really no ghost? What the? I’m gonna go out on limb here and say it’s probably a child who does it; I don’t know.

My family has our own Halloween tradition of going to a pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins. This is always a fun day. We go to Rock Creek Farm in Broomfield. (Get it, BROOM—field, Halloweeny, huh?) We walk up and down the field, prodding orange orbs until we find the perfect shape and ripeness for our jack-o-lanterns. Then we get lost in their corn maze for about an hour. We top it off with a scenic autumn hayride. We typically carve the pumpkins a couple nights before Halloween. When they are done, I put them by the hearth, illuminate them with candles, and turn out all the lights. We vote on which one is the scariest, the grossest, the prettiest, the most abstract, etc. I don’t know how it happens, but EVERY ONE OF US wins in a category! Oh, happy day. Then, with our walls glowing in jack-o-lantern light and the air filling with the sweet scent of candle-cooked pumpkin flesh, we put on a “scary” family movie. We typically watch Harry Potter, but last year we chose “Nosferatu”—that 1922 silent movie about Count Dracula. I was surprised the boys watched the whole thing—let’s just say there was some complaining during it. But their parents’ dramatic subtitle readings must have helped keep their attention. I have a feeling that movie won’t fly this year. We sort of tricked them into watching it; we told them it was REALLY scary. They thought it was really bizarre and too… silent and black and white. Maybe we’ll do “Arsenic and Old Lace” (1944) this year—that one has sound. You can’t go wrong with Cary Grant, and two freaky old ladies who euthanize lonely old men with poisoned elderberry wine and bury them in their basement. “Hey boys! Wanna watch…never mind.” We’ll probably just watch Harry Potter.

Speaking of pumpkins, there’s a custom that really bums me out—it’s right up there with egging and TPing houses after the goblins are safely in bed. It’s that one custom a band named itself after: Smashing Pumpkins. It’s bad enough if you forget to bring your jack-o-lantern in, and it gets prematurely munched on by an elk or squirrel, but smashed? By a person? Just for fun? Well, I say to those hooligans, “You might have just smashed a pumpkin that got voted ‘prettiest pumpkin’ by a six-year-old to make his mom feel special. Hope it was worth it.” Or something like that. At least they can’t smash the love behind it.

Halloween, with all its quirks and kinks, is for the most part good times. My youngest has been asking about it ever since school started back in AUGUST. “Is this the season that Halloween’s in? Can we buy a spooky book? Can we go the Halloween section? Can we get zombie arms for our graveyard? Can I decorate my room with ghosts and spider webs?” Halloween traditions are exciting! I’m so glad it doesn’t involve Nair here.

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