Halloween at The Yahoo Lady's House

Marissa Mayer's home Halloween

The Must-Do Halloween House in our neighborhood is, without question, The Yahoo Lady's House. That's what all the kids call Marissa Meyer's home (they used to call it The Google Lady's House until she moved to Yahoo). She has a home just across the street from the kids' former elementary school, and just from looking at it, you wouldn't really think that it belonged to a multi-billionaire tech giant -- unless you happened to pass by during Halloween.

Marissa is always the subject of a lot of press, and not everyone likes her, but say what you will about her, she puts on an over-the-top Halloween show for the neighborhood. Every year the house is decorated to the nines, with cornstalks, pumpkins, and life-sized ghouls.  The highlight is always a giant carved pumpkin. She started out with just one, and now she has at least three or four. The pumpkins always look amazing at night.

On Halloween night, there are always long lines at her place, because she gives out movie theater-sized candy, as well as plush Beanie Babies! Usually parents send their kids to the front door to get candy while they hang around on the sidewalk, but not at The Yahoo Lady's House.  Here, the parents line up with their kids so they can check out the decor.... and get a glimpse of Marissa Mayer. She always hands out candy personally.

Last year, Marissa took a cue from Disneyland and created a mini hay bale maze so that people could look at stuff while they waited in line. Her front lawn doesn't have enough space for it, so she used the parking lot of the empty funeral home that she bought (she turfed up the parking lot and she uses the space to host fabulous parties).
Marissa Mayer's giant Halloween pumpkins

By the way, those are photos taken from Halloweens past.  I stopped by her house the other day to take some photos of this year's display. It's difficult to say which one is my favorite!
giant pumpkins at Marissa Mayer's home Halloween

giant pumpkins at Marissa Mayer's home Halloween

giant pumpkins at Marissa Mayer's home Halloween

giant pumpkins at Marissa Mayer's home Halloween

giant pumpkins at Marissa Mayer's home Halloween

See you at The Yahoo Lady's House tomorrow night!

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Five Must-Do Attractions at Great America's Halloween Haunt

We've been going to Halloween parades and festivals since the kids were babies, and now that they're older, we're starting to get into the spookier side of Halloween. This year we visited our first honest-to-goodness haunted house. To be more precise, we visited five, and all were at California's Great America Halloween Haunt. I fully expected to hate it -- not that I think any of those monsters are real, but I hate getting startled -- so it was a pleasant surprise to find myself having fun!

For Halloween Haunt, Great America offers ten haunted mazes, three Scare Zones, and about half a dozen entertainment stages. I've covered the bare bones in a post over on Bonggamom Finds, so I won't repeat it all here. If you want to find out what Halloween Haunt is all about, go to my post: Everything You Need to Know about Great America's Halloween Haunt. Keep reading for the scoop on our favorite attractions at the event:

Guac-O-Lantern Dip

Guac-o-Lantern Dip

Want to hear something scary? October is almost over, and I haven't written a single Halloween-themed post!  Usually my blog is filled with Halloween costume how-tos, recipes, and decor. It's not even that I've been doing my usual Halloween stuff and haven't had time to blog. I haven't even done my usual Halloween cooking/crafting/decorating extravaganza in real life. I guess life just happened (that's my standard excuse for 2015).

Well, better late than never. I've got two days left to turn the front yard into a graveyard (thanks to the drought and lawn watering restrictions, the dead grass will make the perfect setting). We'll definitely be carving pumpkins. And I did find time for to make a disgustingly un-appetizing appetizer for Alfie's office Halloween potluck. I like to call it my Guac-O-Lantern Dip!

Pumpkin Food and Drink at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival pie sign

Before I came to the Bay Area, I didn't really like pumpkins. I hated the calabaza (squash) and spinach broth that was a fixture of my childhood dinner table, and I figured pumpkins didn't taste any better. All I really knew about pumpkins was pumpkin pie, and I can't stand pumpkin pie.

I still hate pumpkin pie, but over the years I've fallen in love with pumpkins. Not only are they a symbol of my favorite time of the year, they also make for some really good eats! I've discovered a ton of pumpkin foods that I love -- and I've discovered that the best place to get them all in one place is the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival.

In case the name hasn't given you a clue, the festival celebrates all things pumpkin, including pumpkin crafts, merchandise, food, and drink. You could feast for days on nothing but food made from pumpkin!  Allow me to whet your pumpkin appetite by listing down all the pumpkin food and drink I saw at the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival:

Five Tips for enjoying the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival

Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival crowds

Free weekends are a rare and precious thing for our family. We're constantly carting our kids to soccer games, dance rehearsals, band performances, birthday parties, and Girl Scout campouts. When the stars align and we no events scheduled, more often than not we end up crashing on the couch, grateful to rest and watch TV and do nothing.

We're enjoying one of those free weekends right now -- but we're not staying home! Tomorrow we're making our annual pilgrimage to the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival. The festival is so popular, it brings huge crowds every year, which can be stressful and exhausting. We hate crowds, but we've found ways to manage the crowds and have the time of our lives. Here are five tips to help everyone make the most of the Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival:

A letter to the parents of the losing soccer team


To the parents of the opposing team,

My sons' soccer team played your sons' soccer team today. It's a game that you might not want to remember, because the score was 12-0.  The gap would have been wider, but our team's coach instructed our players to stop scoring. Possession was 90%-10% in our favor, and 90% of the match was played in your half of the pitch. To put it bluntly, it was a thrashing.

Easy black bean salad

I'm so thankful that my kids love salads. We got them started on Caesar's salad pretty early on, and since then they've learned to love practically every combination of fresh veggies and dressing. On busy weekday nights, having a salad dinner is an easy way to feed the family in minutes.

One of our favorite salads also happens to be one of the easiest to prepare -- just toss tomatoes, sweet corn, black beans, lime, olive oil, cilantro, crumbled gorgonzola cheese and seasonings into a bowl.  Sometimes I give the salad a bit of a kick by using a more peppery oil. Sometimes we'll substitute goat cheese or feta cheese, depending on what's in the fridge.

This salad goes great with a quesadilla and mashed avocado; you can also toss in some lettuce and have it with a wedge of buttered bread. The cheese and black beans are so filling, you might not need a main course!

What's your family's favorite salad?

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