Graphic: Shep McAllister
Every house on the block will be giving out packs of Tootsie Rolls and Smarties. Want to give the trick-or-treaters in your neighborhood something special? Try these underrated candies.Flavored KitKats
You know KitKat, but Japan knows how to do KitKat right. The wild assortment of KitKat flavors you can find in Japan—like green tea, raspberry, or strawberry—are easily obtained on Amazon via importers. They’re much tastier than the boring old chocolate ones you’re used to.Lindt Chocolate Truffles
Lindt’s chocolate truffles look more like they’re getting dressed up for prom than for Halloween, but they’re the kind of gourmet candy that makes Reese’s Cups look like Mallo Cups. They’re pricier than your typical Halloween candy, so you may prefer to keep them for your own Halloween party rather than give them out to kids who, let’s be honest, won’t appreciate them like you will.Kasugai Fruit Gummies
When it comes to gummies, Haribo may be the standard bearer, but Japanese brand Kasugai makes some of the most unique ones around. This Snack Monster pack comes with 100 individually wrapped gummies in flavors like mango, kiwi, lychee, and even ramune, in addition to more familiar flavors like grape, watermelon, and strawberry.
Plenty of other varieties of Kasugai gummies are widely available on Amazon, so be sure to to browse.Ferrero Hanuta Hazelnut Sandwich
The phrase “hazelnut sandwich” may not sound like the kind of thing you’d give out for Halloween. Yet this chocolate wafer confection from the same company that makes Nutella is way more delicious than it has any right to be. A ~$20-$25 box (there are a few listings on Amazon) comes with 18 individually wrapped packs with two sandwiches each, so you’ll be forgiven for sticking to one pack per kid.Coffin Crisp
Straight from Canada, Coffee Crisp is a tasty wafer candy bar with a coffee cream taste. For Halloween, though, the company introduces a special edition, Coffin Crisp. There’s not much difference aside from a spooky skeleton on the box, but you do get 30 bars for about $17-$18, which isn’t the worst deal.
Image: Bruce Mars/Pexels
Breaking up is hard to do, especially when there are numerous public profiles where we can check in on everything our ex does. Looking at how the person you dated is filling all their days without you is a bad idea, but so hard to resist. Here’s how you can.
Writer Dana Hamilton over at The Cut was going through a break up, when Instagram, with its siren song, became a bit of a problem for her recovery process. Hamilton found herself checking in to see what her former boyfriend was doing, and it was setting her back emotionally. So, she passed her phone to a friend—and soon found herself laughing instead of crying.
“The last eight weeks are all pictures of him in the woods,” she told me. “That’s an alarming amount of time, Dana. He’s also writing poetry now. So I guess what I’m trying to say is I think you accidentally dated Bon Iver.”
Having a friend look at your ex’s social media feeds and describe them to you with as much sarcastic commentary as they can muster is a great reality check. You’re not imagining their life as bigger and better, but you’re also not actually seeing them and staring at their face with longing. You’re getting the truth from someone who has no lingering feelings for the person. Hamilton checked in with a therapist to see if she was onto something:
“Having a friend play social-media intermediary works because it gives you a little distance from what’s going on with your ex — without leaving you wondering what they’re up to and imagining it’s wonderful,” explains Jill Whitney, a marriage and family therapist based in Old Lyme, Connecticut. “You get the broad overview without bogging down in details … The key is creating some online distance between you and your ex, just as there’s space between you now IRL.”
Ask your friend to be a buffer between you and your need to know. Another thought I had while reading this story is that if I had to ask a friend every time I wanted to look at an ex’s Instagram, it might hold me back a little. There’s nothing like someone yelling, “Again?!” to make you take a long hard look at your obsessive behavior.
You can and should read the full story here.
Aimée Lutkin is a freelance writer who blogs a lot about dating. She is currently traveling the country and going on a date in every city she visits.
If you’re traveling around Christmas and haven’t booked your flight yet, you still have a few weeks to snag the best deal, according to travel app Hopper.
While the ideal time to book for the winter holidays was last week, Hopper tells the New York Times that if you haven’t finalized your plans yet, you should try to do so ASAP, and you might still be able to get an okay deal. “If you need to set yourself a deadline, make it at least two weeks in advance of departure.”
To find the best price, avoid booking your flight home on December 21 if you can help it—that’s when flights are going to be the most expensive. If you can squeeze in an extra day or two off, it’ll help your bank account to be flexible with your dates. Set a fare alert with something like Hopper, which can help you find a lower price.
So, too, will airport selection. Hipmunk, another travel booking site, “found that booking round trip flights with different airports can save travelers up to 14 percent on Thanksgiving weekend, and 17 percent off the week of Christmas.” That could mean flying out of a regional airport that’s a bit farther away from where you live. You can use this tool from Google to compare holiday travel prices at nearby airports and score deals.
And don’t forget to use all of your rewards cards perks before the end of the year—that could help shave a hundred dollars or so off your total cost.
The Time to Buy Those Holiday Travel Tickets? Now | The New York Times
Tirnga Milanese Loop Apple Watch Bands | $5 | Amazon | Promo code OE3N9LSH
Whether you’re getting a brand new Apple Watch today, or just want to accessorize your old one, this Milanese loop band is a great deal at $5, with promo code OE3N9LSH. That should work on any color and size, so you can match your watch’s color, or create a nice contrast.
Photo: Dan LeFebvre
Coding school App Academy has opened a free online interactive version of its 12-week curriculum. That’s a pretty good deal, since the Academy’s in-person classes in San Francisco and New York can cost as much as a semester in college. The online version involves less direct human interaction, but it includes online mentors and access to a community Slack chat.
At first glance, App Academy Open looks kind of like the popular free coding course Codecademy. An introductory course teaches basic coding concepts in a split-screen instruction interface and sandbox coding environment. Later lessons are structured as freeform assignments with text instructions, as the student works in their own development environment.
The major departure from Codecademy is in the curriculum. App Academy founder Kush Patel tells Lifehacker that while Codecademy is a good resource for all sorts of programming, App Academy Open is focused on “teaching folks web dev skills to get them a software engineering job.” (At the in-person school, tuition is tied to the student’s post-graduation salary.)
The curriculum also covers a wide range of social issues in tech: outward-facing issues like algorithms that reinforce human bias and discrimination, and tech community issues like representation and exploitation of racial minorities, women, and LGBTQ people in the workplace. Rather than shunt these lessons into a separate module that students might ignore, App Academy laces them throughout its coding courses, presenting them as the essential career lessons that they are.
If you can commit to twelve weeks of challenging work without the pressure of tuition and in-person classes, then you’ll be getting thousands of dollars’ worth of practical coding education, built specifically to qualify you for a job in development, for free.
App Academy Open | Home page
Photo: Lelia Milaya (Reshot)
For most, buying a new smartphone is easy—you just get the latest version of whatever it is you’ve been using. If you’re dissatisfied enough, or you don’t want the latest Galaxy, Pixel, or iPhone (to name a few), then it’s time to go shopping, and you’ll have a sea of smartphones to wade through in order to find the perfect one for you.
Given just how much there is to look at—thanks, Android—searching for a new smartphone can feel daunting. Thankfully, the fine folk over at GSMArena have a handy tool you can use to narrow the field. The site’s “Phone Finder” is an incredibly useful way to search for your next smartphone based on the specs that are the most important to you. And you can pick from a lot: price, size, thickness, display resolution, camera resolution, etc.
The Phone Finder won’t be the most useful if you’re looking for the best smartphone ever created—it doesn’t offer rankings, after all, just a list of phones that match the specs that matter most to you. However, if you don’t want to spend top dollar for the most feature-packed smartphone you can get, the Phone Finder is great way to start making those agonizing price/feature trade-offs. Or, at the very least, it can help you confirm if you can actually get a 6.3" smartphone for $200. (You can!)
Once you’ve picked your specifications and clicked on the big red “Show” button, you’ll see the list of smartphones that meet your criteria. You can click on any of them to see the device’s comprehensive specs, but I find it more useful to use the site’s “Compare” tool—right beneath “Phone Finder Results.”The “Differences” option is a great way to quickly see what each smartphone has compared to the others you’ve selected.Screenshot: David Murphy
Click that, then click on up to three of the smartphones you’d like more information about (aim for the boxes, not the images of the smartphones themselves). Click “Compare” again once you’ve made your picks, and you’ll get a giant table that spells out what each smartphone can do.
If the massive amount of data feels overwhelming, click on the “Differences” option to see what the smartphones have in common (gray text) and where they differ (black text), which might help make your purchasing decision.
Photo: WoCinTech Chat
If you dream of becoming a writer, you have to eventually sit down and write. Whether you’re doing National Novel Writing Month in November, or you dream of being a writer “someday,” the first inescapable step is making the time to do it. Here’s a 15-minute exercise toward that end that you can do today.
You’re going to pick a few writing times—early morning, late night, commute time, what have you—and audition them. One a day is fine; that gives you ten chances before November starts. Here is the process:Find a 15-minute block of time (with no obligations, or ones you can blow off). Be ready with your laptop or notebook when that time arrives. Sit down and write.
If you plan to write a novel, you’ll need more like an hour or two each day, but it’s okay to ease into it. Fifteen minutes is perfect for a little bit of journaling or story planning, or an episode of a novel-writing audio course.
You can learn a lot in fifteen minutes. You’ll gain a sense of how to set up your materials and environment to be the least distracting, for example. And after keeping so many appointments with yourself, you’ll get better at showing up ready to do work. Don’t just take it from me; Dorothea Brande had this idea in 1934, and included it as a key step in her book Becoming a Writer. Here’s what she said about developing a schedule:
Now this is very important, and can hardly be emphasized too strongly: you have decided to work at four o’clock, and at four o’clock write you must! No excuses can be given. If at four o’clock you find yourself deep in conversation, you must excuse yourself and keep your engagement. Your agreement is a debt of honor, and must be scrupulously discharged; you have given yourself your word and there is no retracting it. If you must climb out over the heads of your friends at that hour, then be ruthless; another time you will find that you have taken some pains not to be caught in a dilemma of the sort. If to get the solitude that is necessary you must go into a washroom, go there, lean against the wall, and write.
Some of your chosen writing times will turn out to be terrible, and the only way you’ll find that out is to audition them now. Maybe you’ll bring your laptop into bed at 11 p.m., only to find that you’re drifting to sleep as you type. Maybe you’ll try to write on your lunch break, but your brain won’t stop fretting over deadlines and meetings. Great, you’re narrowing down the possibilities. Pick another time tomorrow.
And if you cannot bring yourself to do any of your scheduled writings at all, Brande has some wise but harsh advice (emphasis hers): “If you fail repeatedly at this exercise, give up writing. Your resistance is actually greater than your desire to write, and you may as well find some other outlet for your energy as early as late.”
Graphic: Karl Gustafson
Frozen pizza is the bastion of people who have no other alternatives: Too broke or hungry to cough up the dough or wait the 30 minutes for delivery, lacking the ingredients or wherewithal to make their own. For me, frozen pizza conjures up babysitter nights when I was a kid; since my parents were going out, it was one of the rare nights that my mom didn’t cook, so we’d get the pizza encased in plastic. I guess it was novel enough to be exciting, so much so that I stocked my own single-girl freezer with single-serving versions in my 20s, and deluxe versions as a newlywed.
So hello old friend, frozen pizza. What do you taste like all these years later? For this taste test, I grabbed a bunch of national brands, my family and some friends, and baked up a weeknight dinner party. Being able to tell these crusts apart might be my greatest challenge yet as a food writer.
Fortunately, I had some friends along to help, as well as my family, so kids and adults alike dove into these relatively well-known pizzas from the supermarket’s freezer section. (As always, before the cries of “you missed my favorite regional brand” descend, please note we only chose frozen pizza brands with national distribution.)Photo: Gwen IhnatDiGiorno Original Rising CrustPhoto: Gwen Ihnat
Well, this one stood out obviously, due to that classic DiGiorno puffy crustiness. Some people liked this (“It’s doughy and soft!”) and some didn’t (“This isn’t pizza—it’s bread.”) Another likened it to cheese and sauce on a biscuit. The sauce kicked off what we would soon view as a frozen pizza trend of thin, watery blandness; although the pepperoni had “a nice bite” it was still “a bit of a mess.” Basically, unless you love crust, this is not the frozen pizza or you. Or anyone.Home Run InnPhoto: Gwen Ihnat
Alllllll riiiiiiight—this was my single-girl jam. So maybe it’s the nostalgia factor that led me to like this one most of all (like other people might feel about Jack’s). Home Run Inn has that buttery crust that I just find super-satisfying in a frozen pizza. Excellent cheese coverage, and a significantly seasoned sauce.
My tasters didn’t see my side of it, though, except for the hard-to-resist buttery crust part, which “seemed like a pastry.” Others offered descriptions like “kids birthday party pizza” and “I wouldn’t use this as a door stop.” Even my daughter’s friend noted that it was so greasy, “if you can hold it in the light, you can see the reflection.” Whatever. They weren’t there with me all those Sunday nights with Sex And The City, Home Run Inn pizza, and Walgreens chardonnay.Jack’s Original ThinPhoto: Gwen Ihnat
Surprisingly or unsurprisingly, Jack’s is the children’s choice. I believe this might have been, if not my babysitter pizza, very similar, and like me as a kid, my offspring and their friends totally gravitated toward it. They threw out words like “nice,” “perfect,” and, significantly on this low-bar scale: “fine.” Whereas the adults offered words like “disappointing,” bland,” and “wimpy.” I called it the pizza equivalent of water, possibly akin to ketchup on a cracker. The only zest at all came from the pepperoni, which had a slight bite to it, but not enough to elevate this frisbee disc into actual flavor.Original TombstonePhoto: Gwen Ihnat
Classic for a reason, Tombstone showed its mettle with a crunchy, not soggy crust, and nicely stretchy, melty cheese. With my group, it came close to running away with the whole thing, holding up rather well against something like Jack’s. But while the crust was significant, the sauce was still unimpressive, veering on an unappetizing sweetness (“Doesn’t anyone know how to use seasoning?” pondered a taster). And the kids were flummoxed by what they called “odd chunks of meat” throughout the sauce.Red Baron Classic CrustPhoto: Gwen Ihnat
Believe me, I tried to get these all in the same flavor (pepperoni) but Red Baron only had sausage. Maybe because everybody else had already figured out what my tasting crew did: Red Baron is the best frozen pizza—even removing the sausage novelty aside. The cracker-like crust was flaky, with a nice crunch and a crispy mouthfeel. This slightly thicker sauce had a forward hint of actual seasoning that featured oregano and garlic (my son said it had a “nice, flavorful tang”) that pulled the pizza together. My friend said it reminded her of a Pizza Hut sausage slice from 1981, which might have been the highest form of praise any pizza got all evening.Winner: Red Baron Classic Crust
But really, if you want pizza, may we suggest making it at home? I spent a few weeks this summer learning how to make dough, how to make great sauce, and putting it all together—and it’s all easier than you think. Still, there’s a time and place for frozen, and in those instances, may we nudge you towards Red Baron. Or maybe these leading brands are not the best versions available—please feel free to add your favorites in the comments!
Photo: sandro figliozzi (Flickr)
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things. All the people you have to get back to (usually with the sad starter-line “Sorry for the delayed response ...”). All the words you’re supposed to write. All the minutes you promised you’d run on the treadmill, all the meals you said you’d prep, all the closet clutter you’ve been meaning to get rid of for months.
Maybe you’ve started a task but have gotten stuck, paralyzed by the magnitude of the hill that’s in front of you. Instead of giving up, tell yourself this: Just five more. In a piece on the lost art of concentration, The Guardian explains the “five more rule.”
This is a simple way of learning to concentrate better. It goes like this: whenever you feel like quitting—just do five more—five more minutes, five more exercises, five more pages—which will extend your focus. The rule pushes you just beyond the point of frustration and helps build mental concentration. It’s a form of training as well as being a way of getting something accomplished.
I’ve been doing my own form of this. I call it “five to thrive”—cheesy name, but it sticks. The number five somehow feels manageable. Don’t feel like exercising? Do five downward facing dogs. Can’t bring yourself to clean out the whole fridge? Clear out five items. Taunted by that giant unopened novel that’s been sitting on your nightstand? Read just five pages. You’re giving yourself a jump-start—and once you get going, you likely won’t stop. (But don’t tell yourself that. It’s just five. Easy, right?)
I get it, you don’t know me or value my opinion, but everyone knows and trusts Shep McAllister, and he’s stated repeatedly that getting a discounted FoodSaver will pay for itself. I’m here to reiterate that. A FoodSaver vacuum sealer will keep your food safe from freezer burn and double the shelf life of food in the fridge and pantry. Grab the refurbished manually operated FoodSaver for $31 or go big and get the 2-in-1 Automatic Vacuum Sealing System for $119, both 40% off. Say goodbye to moldy cheese, rotten meats, and soggy vegetables.