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Trick-or-Treating Safety Tips

Day 303: "Candy bowl"

Tonight is the big night! It’s that one time of year where children can eat unlimited candy, play games, and run around – all while dressing up in a cool costume. It’s an exciting day for kids, and as fun as Halloween is, there are always safety precautions that you and your kids should take. Follow these tips for a happy and safe Halloween night!


Some costumes have a lot of bells and whistles. While that might be nice for pictures, try to avoid overly elegant costumes. Long dresses will usually end up stuck in a bush, or with someone getting tripped. Any swords, bats, or anything similar should be soft. If your child is wearing a mask, make sure they’re able to see clearly out of it. Masks that only cover the front of the face are usually OK; ones that cover the whole head can slide around a lot! As an alternative, try using makeup or face paint. On a final note, decorative contacts lenses should be avoided. They aren’t good for your eyes, and they could make it harder to see at night!


It’s understandable that your kids don’t want to trick-or-treat in the daylight. If they’re going out in the darkness, make sure their costumes have something reflective or bright on them. A flashlight is always a good idea. And as for drivers – they should be driving extra carefully on Halloween night – but there will always be people that don’t. Your kids shouldn’t assume they have the right of way! Stay on well-lit side roads, and avoid any main roads with small shoulders.


Also make sure your kids stay away from unlit houses. On that same token, make sure they never go inside a stranger’s house to get candy, even if they’re told it will just take a second. When you come home and dump all of the candy on the floor, it’s important to remember that unsealed candy should be thrown away. The same goes for any candy that looks suspicious or isn’t in the original wrapper. You can never be too careful nowadays. When in doubt, throw it out.


If you own a pet, they should be in a different room while trick or treaters are coming to the door. Many pets are scared of Halloween costumes. You don’t want your pet running out the door, especially if they’re running after a trick or treater! You don’t want your pets near the Halloween candy, either.

Above all, remember to have fun! These are general safety precautions that parents and kids should know, but always remember to use your head!

Felicia Walkins is a freelance writer for Jackson Twenty-one. Connect with her on .

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Tips For Outdoor Fall Decorating

Autumn is finally here, which means it’s time to replace those summer decorations on your porch with some beautiful fall ones. And what better way to celebrate the season than with natural decorations like pumpkins and gourds? Use these outdoor décor tips as you would like – put them on your steps, front porch or even in a vintage wheelbarrow. These decorating ideas will last the entire season from October through Thanksgiving. From wreaths to mumkins, here is some fall inspiration for your home:

PUMPKINPATCHPorch Pumpkin Patch

Rather than your traditional pumpkin on the front porch steps, include gourds, stalks and hay bales. Combine some purple and yellow mums to complete the look. When people arrive at your front door, they will feel as if they just stepped onto a pumpkin patch!

Autumn-Themed Wreathwreath

Welcome your guests with a beautiful autumn-themed wreath! Whether it’s made with pumpkins, corn husks, apples, or other natural ornaments, door wreaths are perfect for the fall season. If you have a large home with many windows, consider hanging matching wreaths from these windows too.

pumpkinmanMr. Pumpkin Man

Love carving pumpkins, but hate the mess? Well then, Mr. Pumpkin Man is the perfect outdoor decoration for you! All you need are three pumpkins, in three different sizes. Just pound a wooden rod through the pumpkins to hold them in place. Add a hat and some twig arms, and there you have it. Mr. Pumpkin Man!

The Mumkinmumkin

I’m sure you’ve seen these around your neighborhood a time or two. Start by picking a large pumpkin and carving the top wide enough to fit a 4-inch or 6-inch plant. Clean out the inside of the pumpkin and let it fully dry. Next, leaving the plant in the nursery pot, insert the plant into the pumpkin. Smaller versions also make for beautiful centerpieces indoors!

fallchalkboardDecorative Chalkboard

We all have a lot to be thankful for, now you can display it on a festive chalkboard! Or, if you’re feeling creative, come up with your own prayer or saying. Just free hand it onto a chalkboard and place it on your front steps. It will make for the perfect fall welcome sign!

Fall Ambiancelantern

Whether you light candles or a jack-o-lantern, it’s nice to create a little bit of fall ambiance on your front porch. You can also use hanging lights or a luminary, which create breathtaking ambiance but are much safer. Lanterns also make great outdoor décor!


Felicia Walkins is a freelance writer for Jackson Twenty-one. Connect with her on .

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6 Fun Fall Activites for Kids

Jumping in Leaves
Parents – lets face it. Kids only find jumping in a pile of leaves fun for so long. And you don’t want to bring them inside, because it’s way too nice out to waste the days playing video games. You’ve already gone apple picking, just like every other year. So what else is there to do? Here’s a list of 6 fall activities you can do to keep your kids entertained.

Run a Race

As I talked about in my last blog post, there are many reasons to run. Kids are great runners and they seem to have endless endurance. If you want to enter a 5K this fall, your kids can usually come along. Just make sure that they get plenty of walking and water in throughout the race. These events often have a lot of food to eat, and when you have the whole family go, it can be a bonding experience. If you’re not interested in a formal race, host some sprints among the kids in neighborhood, and watch everyone’s competitive spirit come alive.

Chalk Game Board

There doesn’t need to be a one game limit every time you go outside. Instead, draw a game board. In every box, write out a different game. For example, frisbee could be written in one box, football in another, and foursquare in another. Get some dice, and wherever they land is the game your kids play for 20 minutes. Keep switching games to keep it interesting.

Obstacle Course

The sky is the limit with this one. Kids love obstacle courses, so get those hula hoops, cones, ropes, and whatever else you’ve got to make it interesting. Make sure you’ve got some tossing, crawling, jumping, walking backwards, running, etc. To top it off, get some music.

Camping & Campfires

If it’s been awhile since the kids have had a vacation, you can hold them off a little longer with a memorable camping trip somewhere close to home. If that’s not something you’re interested in, have a fire in your backyard, and put the tent back there too. Get some s’mores, tell some ghost stories, and have your kids invite their friends.

Crafts/DIY Projects

Not every day is going to be nice to go outside, so save this activity for a gloomy day. Have the kids do some easy DIY projects with your supervision, like building a birdhouse or a shelf. Or try designing some art for the upcoming holidays. Make some spiders and ghosts for a Halloween party, some place settings for Thanksgiving dinner, or some ornaments for Christmas.

Hot Air Balloon Festivals

Putrajaya 2nd Hot Air Baloon Fiesta
When I was really young I attended two hot air balloon festivals, and I can remember them both. Even though hot air balloon festivals go on in in the spring, summer, and fall, there’s something special about attending one in the fall. It must be the fall foliage in combination with the colorful balloons. So get up really early, give your kids their own hot chocolate containers, and head to a festival. They won’t forget it.




Felicia Walkins is a freelance writer for Jackson Twenty-one. Connect with her on .

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5 Awesome Benefits of Running

217/365 - Ten Mile Run
Everybody needs exercise, and running is such a popular and beneficial way to workout. It’s so cheap to start; all you really need is a decent pair of running shoes and a set of goals. Unfortunately, many people lose the shoes after only a few days or weeks. There can be many reasons for this — they don’t see any change in their body, they find running boring, there’s not enough time in the day, etc. Since so many people quit running early on, I thought it would be good to cover some of the benefits of this great workout. If you’re on the edge about whether you should run or not, here’s the answer: you should!

Weight Loss

As I just mentioned, a lot of people start running and quit because they aren’t losing weight. This only happens if you’re not giving it enough time. When you first get into running, you won’t be able to run for very long. As you get more used to it, you’ll be able to run for miles. Here’s an example: in a 20 minute run, you can burn a good 200 – 400 calories depending on your weight. The longer you run, the more calories you’ll burn. Burned calories combined with a good diet will make you lose weight!

Stress Relief

Running is a big stress reliever, and I find it works even better when you’re listening to music. Running gives you time to be away from the house or the office, where you can set your mind free. You can use the time to think about something that’s bothering you, and you’ll find that you can usually get some great ideas flowing about how to fix it. You’ll also have less stress knowing that you’re getting in shape and staying active. When you run, your body releases endorphins. In other words, you’ll experience euphoria, and that’s always good.

Confidence Booster

Running will boost your confidence in many facets of life. As I mentioned before, when you run, you’ll also want a set of goals. When you can check off these goals, you’re building confidence for anything life throws at you. Running will also make you smarter. Seriously. When oxygen and nutrients are going to your brain, you’ll feel alive and focused.  And to top it off, your body will look better.  And you know what that means… a good old self-esteem boost.

Better Social Life

Many people prefer to run alone, but if you want to make your running life social, that’s up to you. Since we’re in 2013, it’s extremely easy to do so. There are plenty of apps where you can post and share your run with others. There are Facebook groups and pages that are devoted to running. Finding a 5K to participate in a piece of cake. It can also be a lot of fun to run with your friends, or meet people!

Run for a Cause

Marines, soldiers, wounded warriors, cadets run in New York City Tunnel to Towers Run, Sept. 30
Running (or even walking) is a great way to support a cause you care about. For example, we’re currently in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are plenty of runs to support that cause. Even the most famous marathons aren’t just a competition of who can run the fastest. Many of the runners are fundraising to support a person or a group!


Hopefully you found these points interesting, so get out there and go for a run!

Felicia Walkins is a freelance writer for Jackson Twenty-one. Connect with her on .

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4 Fall Activities for NJ Families

Fall in NJAh, I love this time of the year. The weather is cooling down, the leaves are changing and the flavors of fall are abundant! While the pool and beach are no longer the hot spots, you might be torn trying to decide what to do during weekends in the fall with your family. We’re here to help!

Here are some great fall activities for NJ families to enjoy:

Wine festivals

Believe it or not, New Jersey is full of fantastic wineries. What’s great about wineries is that they’re open in the fall, and they’re not as busy as they normally are throughout the summer! With that said, be sure to find a wine trail in NJ that is easy for you to access and make some plans for the day. Rent a limo or get a designated driver for the day and make a list of all of the wineries you’d like to hit up! This can be an entire day worth of fun, so don’t cut it short.

Apple picking

One of New Jersey’s greatest foods are apples! Aside from just apples though, these farms throughout New Jersey have much more. Most apple farms in NJ offer hayrides, corn mazes, activities and even shops with delicious treats. Don’t forget – apple cider doughnuts are almost always sold at apple farms. These tasty, sweet doughnuts are a great way to end your day at the apple farm!

Bird watching

Yes, bird watching is a real thing, and the fall is the best time to do it in New Jersey! Bird watching is a great way to spend your day outdoors in nature, enjoying the fresh air of fall and observing the amazing wildlife at your closest nature trail or arboretum.


Rainy day in the fall? No worries, there are still some rainy day activities you can enjoy! New Jersey has a great deal of museums throughout the entire state that are totally worth the trip. From aquariums to art studios, you’ll be sure to find some type of museum that works well for you and your family!

Felicia Walkins is a freelance writer for Jackson Twenty-one. Connect with her on .

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How Yoga Improves Your Overall Health

Yoga_at_a_GymYoga is a practice, and if you take the time to study the practice, you’ll definitely see results. The problem is, many people are discouraged to even try yoga because they think you have to be flexible or totally in shape to do it. Well guess what? That’s a complete lie! All you need is a positive attitude and determination to stick with it and you’ll soon see all of the health benefits this practice offers.

Circulation and lung capacity

If you’ve never tried yoga before, it’s definitely quite the experience. There’s a big emphasis on your breathing in yoga, which gives you the opportunity to really examine the way you’re currently breathing. What’s excellent is that deep breathing can help to improve your circulation by allowing nutrients and oxygen to reach your muscles and organs more efficiently. This means you’ll have healthier skin and a better functioning brain! Another surprising fact is that deep breathing can help to expand your lung capacity, allowing you to stay focused and increase endurance during high-impact aerobic exercises. Pretty awesome, right?

Stress relief

As you practice yoga, you’ll notice a significant change in your deep breathing and meditative thinking. Because of this, you will also see a decrease in your stress level due to the fact that you’re bringing peace and a sense of relaxation to your mind. In addition to this, you’ll also be decreasing the levels of cortisone and adrenaline by practicing yoga, which are both hormones that can increase stress.


As you get older, it’s important to stay active as part of a healthy lifestyle. What’s great about yoga is that it can ultimately be practiced by anyone, and it can be extremely beneficial for older adults, possibly even helping to reverse the force of gravity on the body and in turn, experience fewer medical problems as time goes on. This is certainly a good enough reason for me to start practicing yoga!

No back pain

Yes, with aging comes back pain, but it’s also very common among younger generations now as well. Whatever age you are, you can find back pain relief through yoga! Not only will it benefit you in the now, but it will actually give you long-term results. By practicing consistently, you’ll find that you can increase elasticity in your spine, while at the same time strengthening the muscles in your back. You’ll be able to hold an appropriate posture whether you’re sitting at your desk working or exercising!

Felicia Walkins is a freelance writer for Jackson Twenty-one. Connect with her on .

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