You’ve Got to See These Incredible Jack O’ Lanterns

It’s hard to fathom what 5,000 Jack O’ Lanterns looks like until you’re standing in a field surrounded by them. Even then, the awe comes in waves: First, there’s the surprise of the sheer volume — so many pumpkins! Then, the manpower behind them: How many hours did it take to carve them all?! Even the really basic, triangle-eyes-and-semicircle-mouth variety takes a while. And what happened to the guts? They must have pumpkin seeds for weeks!

Photos: Nathan Davison

But, the true shock and awe comes when you check out the pumpkins on pedestals — the ones that clearly took hours to sketch, scratch and carve, recreating spot-on Disney princesses, Draculas and Freddy Kruegers.


Even crazier, still, are the human-sized piles of pumpkins, carved to look like full-size creatures (dinosaurs! Spongebob Squarepants!) or classic cars and trucks.

This isn’t an anomaly; this event’s known as Rise, and it takes place in five cities across the country: Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Pomona, CA and Secaucus, NJ. Each one features 5,000 hand-carved pumpkins, offering tours to the public all day (and night) through Oct. 30th.


Check out some of our favorites from the New York event. It may inspire some last-minute carving — or a road trip.


Can you believe It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is 50 years old?! Rise had an entire series of gourds dedicated to the classic cartoon.
lbw-rise-jackolanterns-greatpumpkin lbw-rise-jackolanterns-sesamest

Some kid-friendly fun. lbw-rise-jackolanterns-skulls

Look at the detail in that skull! It’s more than 6 feet tall.lbw-rise-jackolanterns-bb8 lbw-rise-jackolanterns-pumpkintime



Everything You Need for Halloween ’16

The Halloween countdown has already begun (less than two weeks!), and unless you’re totally anti-All Hallows Eve, there’s a good chance you’ve been mentally debating (A) what to be, (B) what to do that night, and (C) how to make the most of the spooky season.

We hear you, because we’re right there too — and we’re here to help you out. For the fourth year in a row, Collegiate Cook‘s running its three-week-long tribute to the holiday (known this year as #Halloween16). Every weekday, the site posts a fresh costume idea, party inspo or Halloween-themed recipe to help you make the most of the days leading up to Oct. 31st.

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3 Self-Help Books That Won’t Make You Gag

Let’s be real: It’s hard not to roll your eyes at the very topic of self-help books. So many of them are treacly at best, filled with the sort of one-size-fits-all advice you grew up seeing on posters in middle school guidance counselors’ offices.

After working at for a few years, I felt like I’d seen it all. Books of every variety crossed my desk, but I soon learned there’s a select few that are absolutely worth your time. They’re often business or psychology books, written by professors and laden with research to back up their anecdotal experiences.

This fall, two books have totally bucked that trend — and I still recommend them to everyone I know. The first are more memoir than anything else, but the authors peel back every layer of their experience, provided the raw, unfiltered truth (and the lessons gleaned in hindsight later), that I couldn’t get enough of them.

If you’re looking for something to read over the next few months, try one of these.

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Celebrate Your Roots

New York’s one of those cities people dream of living in someday. Not me. I never planned to move there, let alone live there more than a year, and yet, almost seven later, it’s the place I call home. During those first three years, I had a love-hate (but mostly, overwhelmingly hate) relationship with the five boroughs, and then, one day, we hit an understanding. Yes, it’s bitterly cold in the winter, and the people can often be brusque and moody, but it’s a lively place, brimming with ambition and the resources to make it happen.

While New York is currently home for me, Florida’s just as much “home” too. As Nate jokes, home is wherever you’re not — as in, I’ll always say I’m heading home whether I’m in the Southeast or the Northeast. Either way, I take pride in my home state, even if it is, quite possibly, the most bizarre place in the U.S.

Right now, there’s a trend toward celebrating your roots with simple jewelry and understated tees that runs counter to the traditional souvenir kitsch (though, let’s be honest: I love kitsch). I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites, in case they inspire you to show off your home state pride wherever you happen to be.


The Home T, $32 (You can find even more options here, including the Florida “y’all” tee shown at the top of this post.)


Vintage map, $49-$139 (depending on size)


Bar necklace, $24-$56 (depending on metal and other customization options)


Cutting board, $19


“Home Is Wherever I’m with You” tote, $9

Astoria’s Not-So-Well-Kept Secret Speakeasy

It looks just like any run-down, probably-thrived-in-the-’70s hardware store. You’ve got your questionably out of date cleaning solutions in the front window, the pegboard displays, the old-school gummy sticker price tags haphazardly tagged on every hammer, screwdriver and tube of caulk shown.

But then you realize it doesn’t open until 5:30 p.m.

What is this, some not-too-subtle New York drug front?!

This hardware store is really a cocktail bar. You've got to see inside.
Photo: Candace Braun Davison

Nah. It’s just another bougie, semi-secret speakeasy. And you’re going to love it. At least if you’re a sucker for kitsch and a good theme, like me.

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Frontiers: 6 Places You Need to Visit in the Florida Keys

Despite being born and raised in Florida, I’d never been to the Keys. I’d been to Miami a few times, but never made the 4-hour drive to Key West (or even the hour and a half to Key Largo). That all changed this summer, and after spending a few days there, I can’t understand what took me so long to go. I mean, really. The water is unbelievably crystal blue — so blue you’d swear someone’s filtered the heck out of it if you saw a pic on Instagram.

The Best Places to Visit in the Florida Keys: Islamorada
Photos: Candace Braun Davison

It’s got everything you’d want from a tropical vacation, without having to fly halfway around the world. If you get the chance to go, GO. Don’t waste a second debating it. Don’t begrudge the long drive from Miami International Airport, or even the road trip from wherever you happen to live, if hopping in a plane isn’t your thing. Just go. You won’t be disappointed.

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What You Need to Know About Oprah’s Latest Book Club Pick

If you cringe when people start telling painfully honest truths — if their honesty and their rawness makes you want to change topics, STAT — Glennon Doyle Melton’s latest book, Love Warrior, isn’t for you. But you should probably read it more than anyone.

The Momastery blogger has never shied away from getting vulnerable, bearing her scars — and the lessons learned from them — for the world to see, and in this memoir, she chronicles what happened after publishing her best-selling first book, Carry On, Warrior, when her husband told her he’d been cheating on her, and she found herself at a crossroads: Could she ever trust him — or any man — again? What would this mean for her kids? Her sense of family? Security? Love?

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Toasted Coconut & Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies are my go-to “feel productive” project. Whenever I’m spinning my wheels or feeling stuck on an issue, I take a break to pull out flour, butter, sugar and eggs, and get mixing. Oatmeal chocolate chip are my specialty — largely because they’re my husband Nate’s favorite, and because I continually try to trick myself into thinking the oats make them healthier (more fiber or something, right?!) — but I can’t help dabbling with the basic recipe, mixing in whatever’s in the pantry to create new riffs on the classic.

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Cinnamon adds a little spice to the cookie itself. Dried cherries give it a tartness to offset all the sweet. An Oreo stuffed inside creates a gooey, ultra-decadent core. Hershey’s Kisses are a chocoholic’s twist on Peanut Butter Blossoms. By far, though, my favorite spin right now is toasted coconut.

Best Toasted Coconut Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I had toasted an entire bag of unsweetened coconut flakes to go with a batch of pina colada “nice cream,” a dairy-free dessert. There was plenty leftover after the cookout, so I poured half a cup into my classic oatmeal chocolate chip dough. Jackpot! If you like Samoas, you’ll go crazy for these. (A drizzle of caramel would make them an excellent stand-in for the Girl Scout cookie, actually.)

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Little, Invisible Decisions That Can Erode a Relationship

The first time someone suggested deleting an Instagram post because it’d been 10 minutes and only a handful of people had liked it, I scoffed. How could you care that much what other people think of you? Why do you even pay attention to how many likes you’re getting anyway? I wondered.

Today, I completely understand the temptation; the desire, not only to present your very best, highlights-reel version of yourself to the world, but to get addicted, at times, to the follower counts, the likes, the shares, the little badges of honor, saying “you’re worthy” as the number climbs.

It’s a phenomenon Shauna Niequist touches on — albeit indirectly — in an essay from her new book, Present Over Perfect. In it, she describes a man who has an incredible knack for connecting with people, making them feel loved almost instantly. That very gift cost him his marriage and relationship with his kids, not because of some sordid affair, but because he simply couldn’t be there for them. He got addicted to the quick fix of making people feel important for a few fleeting minutes, and he’d gotten so used to giving the best of himself to his 9-to-5 that he didn’t have the time (or energy) to invest so heavily in his own family. When he was off the clock, he checked out of being a caring, supportive human being, leaving only a distracted shell behind, it seemed. Eventually, his family left him, feeling unloved and unneeded.

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Diner en Blanc: Pop-Up Picnics That Will Make Your Summer

Wearing all white to a dinner party seems like something only friends of P. Diddy — or people in a detergent commercial — would do, but Diner en Blanc makes an incredibly compelling case for busting out your brights. The organization hosts secret, pop-up dinner parties in major cities across the country, letting you know its location just hours before the big event.

Photos: Candace Braun Davison

You buy tickets and agree to the dress code (head-to-toe white, or as much as you can muster); they provide the entertainment, usually in the form of a live band and/or DJ, the tables and chairs. The party itself is more of a potluck — groups of people will haul coolers, plates and over-the-top table decorations, creating over-the-top tablescapes that’d make Sandra Lee proud.

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Make Every Day Feel Like Saturday.