Car Care: Last-Minute Fall Car Maintenance

Prepare your car for autumn with these maintenance tips

Fall brings cooler temperatures and shorter days, providing a seasonal reminder for much-needed car care. When the leaves begin to change, take some time to repair the damage your car has incurred from a long, hot summer and prepare it for autumn changes and winter stresses.

Tire check

Keeping an eye on the wear and tear of your tires throughout the year is a must-do for drivers, and fall is no exception. Not only should you check that the tread of your tires is sufficient for safe driving, you should also consider if it’s time to invest in a new set of wheels, perhaps even weather-specific ones.

“If you notice that your tires have less than 1/8-inch of tread left, then it’s time to go shopping. (The distance from a quarter’s rim to George Washington’s hairline is about 1/8 inch.),” advises Consumer Reports.

It’s also essential that your tires maintain proper air pressure with fluctuating temperatures. According to CarCare.org, “Air pressure in a tire decreases one-two pounds for every 10 degrees of temperature change.”

A light in the dark

Shorter days mean more hours driving in the dark, so make sure your car’s lights are at their brightest.

“Walk around the outside of the car and check the operation of all lights: headlights, taillights, parking lights, brake lights and emergency flashers,” writes TheCarConnection.com writer Suzanne Kane.” Make sure all lights are clean.”

Clean slate

With all the fun that summer brings, it also brings a big mess that seems to glue itself to your car. Before you add leaves, rain and muck to the mixture of dead bugs, bird droppings and tree sap, Consumer Reports suggests giving your car a thorough cleaning. For an extra layer of protection, invest time in a car wax.

Routine upgrades

Wiper blades are essential to safe driving, but wipers are surprisingly fragile. Check that yours are working well, and if not, swap them out for new blades, advises Kane. Now is also the time to do a fluid check.

“This includes washer fluid, along with transmission, brake and power steering fluids. Make sure they are all at or above minimum safe levels and refill as necessary,” reports Kane.

With the changing season, it’s also time to change your oil and air filter, and to top off your cooling system, according to Kane.

Mechanical monitoring

There is never a good time to get stranded with a dead battery, so Consumer Reports recommends inspecting your vehicle’s battery for clean and tight connections. You want a battery with a full charge to take you through your daily adventures.

Kane also recommends having your brakes checked and testing that your vehicle’s heater and defroster are in order as well as doing a thorough inspection of what rests under the hood.

“Look for leaks, cracks or loose clamps in the cooling system and squeeze the hoses and replace any that are spongy-feeling or brittle. Inspect the underside of drive belts for fraying and replace as required. If you’ve noticed any engine noises, experienced sputtering or other engine problems, have a licensed mechanic thoroughly inspect the engine and make any necessary repairs,” reports Kane.

By paying attention to car maintenance in the fall, you’ll be readying your car for a successful run through autumn and beyond.

Trick or Treat Safety Tips

Keep your children safe this Halloween with these nine strategies

Halloween should be high on spooky fun and low on safety hazards. Keep your family protected on trick-or-treat night by applying these recommended precautions.

Plan ahead

According to Reader’s Digest, it’s a good idea to map out a route ahead of time. Aim for a short path to avoid tiring your children out and hindering the fun. If you’re concerned about your young ones getting lost, consider a route in your neighborhood with familiar roads.

Beware of strangers

Instruct your children to stay outside of strangers’ houses when trick-or-treating, as the National Safety Council advises. Tell your little ones to go only to houses with porch lights and to avoid dark houses; they should also avoid going into strangers’ cars.

Illuminate whenever possible

Many Halloween costumes are dark, which can be festive but also less visible to cars. Keep your children safe by taping their costumes with some strips of reflective tape, as suggested by Reader’s Digest. Flashlights are useful to carry so children avoid tripping on uneven patches of sidewalk.

Minimize tripping hazards

When planning costumes, incorporate comfortable shoes that fit snugly to reduce tripping potential. Long garments are another potential safety issue per the American Academy of Pediatrics; have your child “test walk” while wearing his or her costume to make sure it is short enough to walk in safely.

Accompany your goblins

The National Safety Council recommends that a few responsible adults go with children on their candy rounds. If possible, volunteer to chaperone their trick-or-treating group. Encourage other parents to join in on the fun, to help keep all of your little ghosts and villains safe.

Buddy system for the win

According to Instantcheckmate.com, a buddy system is another key strategy to keep children safe while on Halloween night. Pair up each kid in the group with a partner; each one is to know where the other person in the pair is at all times during the night.

Minimize fire hazards

So many costumes consist of synthetic fabrics; this includes wigs and accessories. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that parents help their kids select costumes that are labeled as flame-resistant. Also caution your children to steer clear of any sidewalk jack-o-lanterns or luminaries along the trick-or-treating route, so loose costumes won’t get caught on them.

Cell phone check-ins

Instantcheckmate.com recommends having your kids call you via cell phone to touch base during the outing. A missed check-in call can signal that your children might be in danger.

Halloween curfew

The National Safety Council advocates that parents should decide on a set time when trick-or-treaters should be home by. If they aren’t back by that time, or haven’t called you to say they’re running late, take action.

With plenty of forethought and parental instruction, your children will have a fun, sugary Halloween experience while staying safe.

Healthy and Delicious Halloween Snacks

Avoid candy overload with these healthier Halloween treats

Halloween is all about the candy, but too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. With the following recipes and snack ideas, you can still celebrate and enjoy all the sweetness of this ghoulish day without indulging in too much sugar.

Nature’s candy

Dipping fruit such as dried mango, apricot, papaya and peeled clementines into melted chocolate is a delicious combination, according to the experts at FoodNetwork.com.

If chocolate is your go-to, consider whipping up a batch of FoodNetwork.com writer Dana Angelo White’s recipe for dark chocolate bark that combines toasted hazelnuts, dark chocolate, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon and brown rice cereal. White mentions that you can also skip the brown rice cereal and use dried cherries and apricots along with slivered almonds as topping for the bark if you prefer.

Vegetable bones

Making a skeleton out of crisp, fresh vegetables is a creative way to benefit from healthy nutrients while celebrating the spirit of Halloween. According to EverydayHealth.com writer Brianna Steinhilber, in order to construct the “Veggie Skeleton,” you will need veggie dip contained in a small bowl that’s positioned at the edge of an elongated platter (this will be the skeleton’s head), baby carrots for arms, sliced mushrooms for hands, celery sticks for the neck and legs, round-cut-up cucumbers for the spine, pimiento olives for eyes, a sliver of red bell pepper for the mouth and more red pepper slices for ribs, pea pods for feet and a some leaves of lettuce for hair.

Pumpkin treat

Pumpkins are the quintessential decoration for Halloween. From jack-o’-lanterns and painted masterpieces to pumpkin sculpted snowmen, pumpkins scream Halloween. But, it’s not just their outsides that can be used for a special Halloween treat; the goop inside is rich in vitamins and fiber. Steinhilber suggests using pumpkin as a main ingredient for cupcakes; use her pumpkin-oat muffins recipe and adorn them with her homemade (and healthier) cream cheese frosting.

Halloween crispies

Marshmallow and rice cereal is a match made in tasty heaven, and it’s usually a favorite with kids of all ages. The experts at CookingLight.com advise putting a true Halloween twist on this classic treat by using cookie cutters to shape the treats into ghosts that you can top with white frosting and chocolate morsels for ghoulish eyes.

Sticky sweet popcorn

Popcorn is a quick and easy snack. To make the light, fluffy and crunchy treat more special for Halloween, the experts at CookingLight.com suggest adding a bit of caramel and peanut butter for a hearty and Halloween-worthy snack.

An apple a day

Apples are one of the beloved fruits of fall, and even though apple pie is more appreciated at Thanksgiving festivities, apples can make quite the impression at a Halloween celebration. The recipe for candied apples by the CookingLight.com experts is a traditional delight while their recipe for chocolate-toffee apples is a sophisticated and delicious compliment to the fruit of the season.

Celebrate Halloween with these healthier, yet still super sweet and delectable treats, and save the candy for another day.

Vehicle Profile: 2018 Kia Soul

Experience the turbocharged engine of the 2018 Kia Soul

2017 Soul Turbo

The 2018 Kia Soul provides drivers with the best of both worlds: high performance and great fuel economy. Earning up to 31 mpg* alongside a turbocharged engine, the Kia Soul ! is a force to be reckoned with. Inside the cabin, you’ll experience pure luxury with features like leather-trimmed seating, heated and ventilated seats and a Harman/Kardon® Audio System with Bluetooth® wireless technology. The Kia Soul ! is everything you’ve ever wanted in a crossover, wrapped up in a nice, neat package.

Turbocharged engine

As the range-topping trim on the 2018 Kia Soul, the! offers quite the powertrain. Under the hood, you’ll find a 1.6-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission for driver-focused handling. Together, the powertrain exudes 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. The Soul ! boasts exceptional performance, but the real beauty behind the performance is its efficiency. Despite having a powerful engine, the Soul ! offers fuel economy of up to 31 mpg on the highway.*

Audio experience

To deliver the best cabin experience possible, the 2018 Kia Soul ! is stocked with top-tier audio equipment. Drivers can opt for a Harman/Kardon® Audio System, styled with SiriusXM® Satellite Radio as well as USB and auxiliary input jacks. This system can be equipped with speaker lights, too. For hands-free connectivity, drivers can utilize the vehicle’s Bluetooth® wireless technology with steering-wheel mounted controls, Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™.

Dressed to impress

The Kia Soul !’s comes with Black cloth/leather seat trim with detailed orange contrast stitching, Piano Black trim, a Sport leather steering wheel, a leather-wrapped gearshift knob and a leatherette meter hood. Exclusive on the Soul !, you’ll find comfortable and convenient available additions like heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and automatic temperature control with a cluster ionizer.

The Soul ! is the highest standard of Kia Soul on the market. With advanced technology in the cabin and a well-rounded engine under the hood, you can expect nothing less than quality from the 2018 Kia Soul !.

*EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary with options, driving conditions, driving habits and your vehicle’s condition.

Family Halloween Costume Ideas

Family themed costume ideas to make Halloween sweeter

Although the candy, spooky decorations and chance to be out after dark are all outstanding features of Halloween, the best part about Beggar’s Night is definitely donning a fun, scary or outrageous costume. Dressing up as a family can increase the magic of the night, so consider the following family Halloween costume ideas for your night of trick-or-treating.

Wonderland wonder

With so many characters to choose from—all completely fantastical—Alice in Wonderland is a wonderful source for family Halloween costume ideas and inspiration. Liz Stanley, SayYes.com blogger, highlights a family of three in their Alice in Wonderland garb—mom is Alice, dad is the sophisticated suit-wearing white rabbit complete with large pocket watch and bunny ears and their baby girl is the Queen of Hearts in a red dress, heart tights and red crown headband.

Fun to be bad

Halloween is an excuse to be someone different and adopt a new identity for a few hours. And, as a family, sometimes being “bad” can be a lot of fun. Jennifer V., creator of TheCraftPatchBlog.com, showcases a family-themed costume idea that embraces the dark side—the villains of Disney. On her blog a family of four is dressed up as Jafar (dad), Cruella DeVille (mom), Maleficent (daughter) and Syndrome (son). Of course, with so many Disney villains to choose from, there’s no end to your family’s chance to be the bad guys on Halloween.

Out of this world

The sky is the limit when it comes to being creative on Halloween. Sara, creator of TellLoveandParty.com, takes Halloween creativity out of this world by transforming an Earth family of four into a Space Family. The family is decked out in silver spray-painted space suits, helmets, silver space boots and the little ones have their space blasters on hand. They are definitely ready for a space-tastic Halloween.

Yellow brick road

Take your family down the yellow brick road this Halloween with “Wizard of Oz”-inspired costumes. Ashley, creator of MakeIt-LoveIt.com, showcases four kids dressed up as Glinda the Good Witch, Tin Man, Dorothy and a Lollipop Munchkin. Although there’s “no place like home,” a Wizard of Oz Halloween night is sure to be a delight.

Adventurers in stripes

Sometimes it’s easier to have everyone in the family dress up in the same costume. Featured on Stanley’s SayYes.com blog, “Where’s Waldo?” provides the perfectly adorable theme for family costumes. Red hats with pom poms, red and white striped shirts and a red and white striped romper for baby create a standout, and easy-to-do costume for the whole family. Don’t forget the black-rimmed glasses for the final touch.

Caring bears

Colorful and sweet, the Care Bears will bring a lot of love to your Halloween celebration. Featured on SeeVanessaCraft.com by creator Vanessa Rodriguez Coppola, turning your family into Care Bears is a simple, no-sew project. According to Coppola, you will need a hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants that you can dye with fabric dye to your desired Care Bear character and felt and fabric glue so you can craft your favorite Care Bear’s tummy symbol; don’t forget to add the bear ears on your hoodie and the Care Bear heart next to your bear tail.

With these costume ideas, your family will be ready for trick-or-treating and a night of Halloween glee.

Car Care: How to Prepare Your Car for Fall

Get your car ready for fall with these tips

Although it seems like summer just started, fall is right around the corner. Now is the perfect time to prepare your car for cooler temperatures, falling leaves, wet roads and shorter days.

“Getting your vehicle ready for winter while temperatures are still mild is a proactive approach to preventive maintenance that helps ensure safety, reliability and fewer unexpected repairs when severe winter weather strikes,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

Exterior fixes

Since big problems often start small, tiny scratches need your attention before fall’s biting rain and winter’s severe cold turn tiny scratches into rusty patches, according to BusinessInsider.com writer Matthew DeBord.

Make sure your wheels have enough tread to keep going round and round in fall. DeBord suggests swapping out tires that look worn-down or lack the proper amount of tread for a new set. If your tires are in great shape, he advises having them rotated to ensure even wear. If you live in an area that is blessed by snow, DeBord recommends investing in a pair of snow tires.

While you’re focused on your tires, don’t neglect the spare. DeBord suggests checking that the spare tire is properly inflated to prevent getting caught with no way to fix a flat tire in cold or messy weather.

To increase the life expectancy of your tires, improve your gas mileage and create better control and handling of your car, the experts at TireDiscounters.com recommend having your vehicle’s alignment checked.

Interior repairs

Before the leaves start to fall, take a look under the hood and check that your vehicle’s fluids, including oil, washer and antifreeze, are at the proper levels. Also ensure that your brakes are working the way they should be and that your heater will be able to fight against harsh temperatures, advise the TireDiscounters.com experts.

CarCare.org recommends replacing worn or damaged windshield wipers, checking the battery and charging system and keeping the connections free of debris and securely fastened.

To protect your interior from wet shoes, soggy leaves and mud, DeBord suggests investing in new floor mats that can trap all the muck that autumn tracks into your car.

Before summer becomes a distant memory, stock up on essentials to round out your car’s emergency kit, too, advises DeBord.

“You’ll want to have a warm coat—a cheap, lightweight down jacket can be a good choice—plus some gloves, a warm hat, a change of socks and a blanket. A few bottles of water are also a good idea, as are some non-perishable granola-type bars. This is also the time to make sure that you have an ice scraper, to deal with the sudden arrival of bad weather,” reports DeBord.

Take advantage of the remaining days of summer to get your vehicle ready for fall. With these tips, the changing seasons won’t catch you off guard and unprepared.

DIY Halloween Decorations

Celebrate Halloween with these fun do-it-yourself decoration projects

Halloween decorations have become expensive and often over-the-top, making decorating for the holiday seem like too much of a hassle. But don’t fret, as there are plenty of do-it-yourself (DIY) options to help you create a Halloween house worth haunting. Here are a few DIY Halloween projects to help you decorate your home this year.

Candy corn vases

One way to decorate your home is with fresh flowers; to add a seasonal touch, you can make some DIY ombré candy corn vases. For these easy, festive vases, save up a few empty wine bottles and remove the labels. First, use white spray paint to cover the entirety of the bottles. Then, using an orange spray paint, coat the bottom two-thirds. Finally, coat the bottom third in a yellow spray paint. By using spray paint instead of acrylic paint, you will get a beautiful ombré effect that replicates seasonal candy corn.

Pumpkin-less jack-o’-lanterns

Mason jars are traditionally popular for canning food items, but they have a variety of household uses. If you’re trying to avoid the mess (and the rotting smell) of traditional jack-o’-lanterns this Halloween, try using mason jars. You can create ghosts, mummies or your traditional pumpkin faces on the outside with paint or by using Modge Podge and some tissue paper on the outside of the jars. Place some battery-operated twinkle lights inside the jars and set them on the front porch or in the window to dazzle the trick-or-treaters.

Mummy door

For kids trick-or-treating, your front door is always their final destination, so be sure to spruce it up. To leave a lasting impression, you can turn your front door into a mummy this Halloween. Wrap white streamers around your door in jagged patterns, similar to a mummy’s bandaging. Then, cut large eyes out of black and white construction paper and simply tape them to the front door. It’s a damage-free way to decorate for a spooky evening and is perfect for apartments and renters too.

Corn candles

For a subtle, fall decoration for Halloween, try creating corn candles. Take a pillar candle and place it inside a slightly larger round vase. Pour raw popcorn kernels in the jar around the candle and tie a straw ribbon in a bow around the vase and set it on the mantle. Popcorn kernels can be used as versatile decorations in your home; you can even fill a bowl with them with assorted fall fruits, like squash and pumpkins.

Eyes glowing in the bushes

To make the walk up to your front steps even spookier for the trick-or-treaters, you can add glowing eyes along your walkway. Simply take a few empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls, cut out two eye shapes and place a glow stick inside. Set the toilet paper rolls throughout your front lawn, in bushes and various plants, and you’re good to go.

Finding DIY projects for any occasion is easier than ever. Save some money and create your own decorations this Halloween.

How to Host the Perfect Football Party

Ideas for making your game day gala a winner

As autumn arrives and players return to the field to toss around the ol’ pigskin, you are no doubt planning to host a football party at your home to watch one of the televised games with your friends. Even during regular season games, it’s important to treat your party like it’s the big game, planning it with plenty of care and attention.

Setting the scene

It’s important that when your guests arrive, they know they’re at a football party. Party 411 recommends making this obvious by hanging a large, football-themed welcome banner across your front entrance. Inside the house, fill the space with the colors of the favored team by draping streamers and balloons. Hang some branded pennants near the food and viewing areas too. Because larger crowds can tend to be rowdy, Food Network suggests covering serving stations and placing rolls of paper towels near eating stations to contain spills.

Organizing the activities

Keep everyone entertained in between quarters by providing optional activities. When guests initially arrive, have them predict the final and half-time scores and give out prizes for the most accurate guesses. Food Network offers the idea of using stickers and tape to make a homemade version of “Pin the Football in the Goal Posts.” You can even have some real footballs available in the backyard to throw during half-time.

Preparing the meal

The grub is one of the most crucial parts of a party; if fumbled, things can get messy and guests can turn grouchy. Men’s Health recommends having the essentials, like chips and dips, nuts, meatballs and grilled hot dogs. For the main course, you can offer traditional plates like chicken wings, hoagies or burgers, including your own unique spin on them. Whatever food you serve, avoid messy dishes that require utensils to eat.

Have some snacks ready when people arrive—there’s no doubt many people will be arriving already hungry. Similarly, establish enough time for people to get food before the game starts; in other words, don’t set the party start time at kickoff. Spread the serving area out, potentially at multiple places, so you’re not getting a bottleneck effect of traffic in one area.

Ensure you stock up enough drinks for everyone attending as well, especially if they’re not bringing their own. For alcohol consumers, Thrillist estimates that most drinkers will consume around six beers over the course of a party. Offer appealing drinks to non-beer drinkers in the group, such as wine, hard cider or non-alcoholic sparkling juice.

Watching the game

At the center of this revelry, though, is undeniably the most important aspect of the party: the football game. Thus, it’s crucial that you offer your guests a comfortable, unhindered viewing experience. Food Network recommends arranging your viewing room’s furniture into an open seating plan, bringing in folding chairs and floor cushions to allow people to spread out; the more you arrange seating like bleachers, the better. Allow for unblocked, obvious paths into and out of the room so people aren’t stepping on toes or blocking the TV when they go for refills.

If you have two rooms with televisions—such as the living room and the basement—set up two venues for watching the game to pare down the size of the crowd. You could direct children and casual viewers to one place and serious viewers to another.

These suggestions are just recommended starting points for preparing for a football party, so feel free to customize your soiree to fit your venue, resources and guests’ preferences.