Riley Heruska
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Flu season is officially here, and there's no better time to protect yourself than right now. The CDC has urged all Americans to get their influenza vaccines before Halloween. The shot could lower your risk by 40 to 60 percent, and health officials are hoping that it will decrease the number of flu-related hospitalizations in the 2018-2019 season. 

Last year, only 43 percent of Americans received their annual flu shot. In an effort to increase that percentage, many pharmacies and in-store clinics are offering free flu shots to people who are covered by health insurance. Some places are even offering extra incentives like coupons and gift cards just for getting vaccinated with them. 

If you still haven't gotten your flu shot, here are some of the places you can go for a free or discounted one if you have insurance. Make sure to get it done by October 31 to maximize your protection. 

Don't have insurance? You can still get vaccinated without spending much. Costco offers its members flu shots for $19.99. The second best options are probably at Walgreens for $40.99, Target for $39.99 or at Walmart Care Clinics for $39.84. Although you might cringe at spending that kind of money on a shot you don't have to get, keep in mind that Tamiflu could cost upwards of $200 without insurance. You're better off biting this bullet upfront. 

Have you gotten vaccinated yet? Do you recommend one pharmacy over another? Let us know in the comments. 

Riley Heruska
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As many of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Organizations and individuals throughout America have donned pink to support research and spread knowledge about the disease, and we are all encouraged to donate to non-profits and hospitals that are making differences in the lives of thousands of women. 

The sad truth is that one in every eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Breast cancer incidence rates have decreased since 2000, but there's still a chance that you'll face the disease at some point, especially if you are genetically predisposed to develop breast cancer. Besides skin cancer, it's still the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.

To make women more aware of their risks for breast cancer, scientists and hospitals have released many tips on lowering your odds of developing the disease. Here are the top five things you can do to stay safe and help keep breast cancer at bay. 

1. Get checked every year. The number one thing you can do is stay on top of your self-examinations and doctor appointments. Don't brush off your annual mammogram as an unnecessary nuisance; it could help you stop breast cancer in its tracks before it becomes life-threatening. Also, learn the early symptoms of breast cancer so you know when to have a medical expert check things out. 

2. Ask your doctor about how birth control affects your risk. Some research has suggested that older forms of hormonal birth control were linked to higher risks of breast cancer. Although most newer forms of contraceptives are considered relatively safe, it's still a good idea to speak with your doctor about your situation.

3. Avoid smoking at all costs and minimize your consumption of alcohol. This is a huge step you can take to decrease your risk. Firsthand and secondhand smoke is incredibly dangerous, and even one drink per day can increase your risk of developing breast cancer. Have a drink every now and then, but don't become someone who sips beer or wine every day after work. 

4. Watch your diet. According to the American Cancer Society, eating a diet that is high in veggies, fruits and whole grains and low in red meat, processed meat and sweets is an important way to lower your risk. Not only will this diet help you maintain a healthy weight, but it will also reduce inflammation and decrease your risk of other serious problems like heart disease and diabetes. 

5. Exercise multiple days each week. There's a solid link drawn between a lack of exercise and a high risk of breast cancer. By working out for four to seven hours each week, you can lower your risk and eliminate extra fat cells that increase your odds of developing breast cancer. Even if you do develop breast cancer, exercising for three to five hours per week can improve your chances of surviving

To learn more about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as well as the warning signs of the disease, visit

Riley Heruska
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Trick-or-treating around the neighborhood isn't the only way to snag free snacks on Halloween. Several chain restaurants are giving away free food and others are offering scary good discounts on their usual fare. Check out this list to see which bargains you want to snag next week. 

On Halloween, this ice cream shop is offering scoops of any flavor for $1.50 in honor of the Celebrate 31 promotion. 

IHOP. Once again, this pancake house is hosting the "Scary Face Pancake" tradition. Children under the ages of 12 are invited to get a free Scary Face Pancake if they dine-in between 7 AM and 10 PM. 

Papa John's. This chain's jack-o'-lantern pizza is the perfect dinner to serve before trick-or-treating. The pizza costs $11, and to order it, you need to use the code "JACKOLANTERN" on the Papa John's website. 

Chipotle. If you show up in costume between 3 PM and closing time, Chipotle will give you a $4 burrito, bowl, salad, or order of tacos. Also, if you take a picture in your costume, submit it on Instagram and tag @chipotle, you stand a chance to win free burritos for an entire year. 

Krispy Kreme. Wear your Halloween costume to the shop on October 31 and get a free donut of your choice. There are event Halloween-themed options like the Trick-or-Treat Donut or the Monster Batter Donut.

Joe's Crab Shack: For every adult meal you purchase, get a free kid's meal on Halloween.  

Applebee's. This month's $1 drink special is the Dollar Zombie, made with rum, pineapple, passion fruit, cherry, lime and gummy brains. Grab one before the end of the month. 

The Cheesecake Factory. When you place an order for $30 or more on Door Dash between Monday and Wednesday next week, you'll get a free slice of Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake or Hershey's Chocolate Bar Cheesecake. Use the promo code TREATORTREAT at checkout. 

Know of other local deals and discounts? Tell us about them in the comment section! 

Riley Heruska
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Since black and orange are the undisputed colors of the Halloween season, it's always a little strange to see bright teal make an appearance on people's lawns. These colored pumpkins aren't just a unique statement or a new decorating trend; they're something much more important. 

In 2014, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) created a worldwide movement to make Halloween safe and happier for all children. When people set out a teal pumpkin on their doorstep, it means they have non-food treats available for children who suffer from allergies or other health concerns. It may seem like a small act, but in reality, this choice to serve treats other than candy makes Halloween a more inclusive, safe holiday for trick-or-treaters. 

To participate in this program, simply place a teal pumpkin in front of your home, add your address to the Teal Pumpkin Project map, and help spread the word about the project with friends and family. Together, we can make Halloween a holiday that every child can celebrate, not just the children without allergies. 

Learn more about FARE and their Teal Pumpkin Project here

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There are officially less than fifteen days until the next election, and you can cast your vote right now. Early voting in Texas opened up on October 22 and will run until November 2. If you want to hit the polling station before the chaos on Election Day, this is the time to do it. 

When you vote this year in Texas, you won't just choose between Republican Senator Ted Cruz or his Democratic challenger, Beto O'Rourke. You'll have the ability to vote for dozens of local and state seats, including the attorney general, commissioner of agriculture, district judges, and more.

Therefore, it's a good idea to do your research at home before you head to the polling station. To see a sample ballot, click here

Need help finding a voting location near you? Visit and click on Texas polling locations. The site will help determine whether or not you're properly registered to vote, then steer you towards the nearest poll location. 

Riley Heruska
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Although it might seem far too soon to start thinking about your holiday entertainment plans, tickets for the most celebrated Christmas ballet are already on sale (and are going quickly). If you're determined to see The Nutcracker live on stage this coming November or December, then it's a smart idea to snag your tickets this month. 

Fortunately, the DFW area is home to many ballet companies and performance halls, so you have more than a few shows to choose from. Here are ten of the best places nearby where you can see The Nutcracker with friends and family. 

1. The Texas Ballet Theater at Bass Performance Hall or Winspear Opera House 
Select Dates November 23 - December 24

For many in the area, attending a performance by the Texas Ballet Theater is simply a holiday tradition. This year, Ben Stevenson has choreographed a Christmas wonderland full of dancing wonders and magical costumes. Bass Hall and Winspear are excellent performance halls, so even if you aren't a big ballet fan, you'll enjoy making memories at one of their shows. Click here to get tickets. 

2. Tuzer Ballet at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson
December 15 - 16

This non-profit ballet company promotes the study, performance and enjoyment of the classic art. Devoted students spend 18 to 20 hours a week preparing for performances, and there's no performance more exciting than their weekend Nutcracker shows. Click here to get tickets for performances on Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening or Sunday afternoon. 

3. Moscow Ballet at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU
November 17 - 18

For one weekend, the Great Russian Nutcracker will come to life in Dallas. The Moscow Ballet is bringing their historical ballet to American children, and this year's "Dove of Peace Tour" presents world-class ballerinas and danseurs across North America. There are only three showtimes, so be sure to buy your tickets now before they're gone. 

4. Chamberlain Performing Arts at the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts in Richardson 
November 23 - 25

The company is returning with their annual production of The Nutcracker, and this time it's taking place Thanksgiving weekend. Take your relatives and guests to see a spectacle of talent as New York City Ballet Principal Dancers Tiler Peck and Tyler Angle star as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier. Tickets for one of the three performances start at just $15. Don't wait to get yours. 

5. Dallas Ballet Company at the Granville Arts Center in Garland
Select Dates November 30 - December 9

For 32 years, the Dallas Ballet Company has been putting on a holiday show worth attending. The cast includes more than 200 ballet students and has trained for many months to bring The Nutcracker to life this holiday season. Tickets almost always sell out before the curtain opens. Reserve yours here.  

6. Ballet Frontier at the Will Rogers Memorial Auditorium in Fort Worth 
November 16 - 18

After ten years of enchanting people with their holiday performance, Ballet Frontier knows a thing or two about putting on a good show. Special guest Kathryn Boren from the American Ballet Theatre will be dancing the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy this year. Tickets start at $35 and are available here

7. Dallas Youth Ballet at the Majestic Theatre
December 9

The Rockefeller Christmas might not be your traditional version of The Nutcracker, but it does include the entire second act complete with gingerbread children and special effects. You won't want to miss the jazz dancing, singing, tapping and live falling snow on stage. Buy tickets for one of the two showtimes here

8. LakeCities Ballet Theatre 
November 24 - 25

You can't get tickets for this performance yet, but if you're interested in spending Thanksgiving weekend with the cast of the LakeCities Ballet Theatre, then keep an eye out for their sale soon. Guest stars will include Sarah Lane from the American Ballet Theatre and Daniel Ulbricht from the New York City Ballet. 

9. The Ballet Ensemble of Texas at the Irving Arts Center
November 30 - December 2

BET is putting on four different performances over the first weekend of December and each of them promises to be just as spectacular as the rest. The dancers at the non-profit company love bringing the tradition of The Nutcracker to locals, and they bring only their best to the stage during the holiday season. Purchase tickets here

10. Collin County Ballet Theatre at the Eisemann Center for Performing Arts in Richardson 
November 30 and December 2

Once again, the CCBT brings Adiarys Almeida and Taras Dimitro to star as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her cavalier. These Cuban stars are sure to light up the stage as they have before, and the other talented dancers will keep viewers of all ages entertained. Check out the two showtimes to see which works best for you, then get your tickets today. 

Are you going to see The Nutcracker this year? If so, where? Let us know in the comments! 

Riley Heruska
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Every year, approximately 3.4 million cats enter animal shelters across the nation. Roughly 70 percent of these adoptable cats end up euthanized while only a third are taken into new homes. As sad as this sounds, there is one big way you can make a difference in the lives of felines and the organizations that protect them: adopt a new friend this fall. 

Not only is fall the perfect season for taking in a cat, but it's also one of the most beneficial times to adopt an animal from an organization. Here's why: 

1. It's about to get too cold outside for stray felines. Animal shelters often hit peak capacity during the winter months because the creatures can't be left outside when temperatures plummet. Therefore, it's helpful to adopt an animal now to help clear space for incoming cats and dogs later on in the year. 

2. Kitten season just ended. According to the Humane Society of the United States, kitten season begins in spring and comes to an end once falls begins. That means that too many kittens were born over the summer, resulting in overwhelming numbers of unwanted cats in shelters and rescue organizations. The more cats these places house, the higher risk there is of euthanization, illness and other risks. However, if you've been thinking about adopting a feline friend, this might be an opportunity to find a young, healthy cat to bring into your home. 

3. They'll take care of pests that sneak inside seeking warmth. Cold weather is rolling in, which means that rodents and other pests will soon look for shelter in your toasty attics and walls. Having a cat on the property will significantly decrease the pest population. This is especially important because many pests bring disease and filth with them, so eradicating them quickly is a safe choice. 

4. Owning a pet can improve your physical and mental health. Studies have found that owning a cat can lower your stress levels and risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 30 percent. Additionally, cat owners tend to sleep better and feel less anxious. At this busy time of year when the flu and other illnesses are circulating, we could all use a friend who keeps us happy and healthy. 

5. They require very minimal training. Adopting a cat actually doesn't require that much preparation, and once you own the animal, you simply need to invest in a litter box and food. Before you know it, your kitty will be completely adjusted to life in your family, just in time to mingle with others during the holiday season. 

If you think that adopting a cat might be an option for your family, consider visiting the animals at one of the following local organizations. 

Riley Heruska
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In Texas, early voting begins 15 days before Election Day. This makes it easier to fit a quick trip to a poll station into your busy schedule, so don't feel that you have to block out time to vote on November 6. 

Hopefully you've already taken the first step toward voting by getting registered. The second step is to think about where you'll vote and how you'll get there. Many people, especially in their upper teens and twenties, struggle to access transportation to the polls. In fact, lack of transportation options is one of the top three reasons people ages 18 to 29 didn't vote in the 2016 election. 

Thankfully, there are two big rideshare apps that are here to help. 

Uber has partnered with #Vote Together and Democracy Works to provide voters with promo codes that allow them to ride to a polling location for free on Election Day. There will also be an in-app voting button that reads "Get to the Polls" that will help you find the closest voting station in your area. 

Similarly, Lyft is offering 50 percent off on rides on Election Day. In some underserved communities, the service is even offering free rides through organizations like Voto Latino and the National Federation of the Blind. 

Regardless of whether you wait to vote on November 6 or head to the polls as soon as you can, it's important that we all exercise our right to vote in this year's election. Utilize these rideshare apps if you need to, and more importantly, make solid plans to hit the polls with friends and family. 

Riley Heruska
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As most of you already know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's a time when organizations and individuals throughout the country come together to promote education, provide support and increase breast cancer prevention. In honor of the month, everything from hockey rinks to hair can be dyed pink in support of breast cancer survivors and victims. 

However, wearing pink isn't the only way to make this month effective, nor is it the best. Here are five big ways you can easily contribute to breast cancer awareness during October. 

1. Schedule your own mammogram. Annual mammograms can detect the first signs of breast cancer and help women tackle the disease early. They improve chances of breast conservation, especially in women who are over the age of 40. Schedule your own mammogram, then encourage other women you know to do the same ASAP. 

2. Learn about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer. If you visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation's website, you'll find a helpful Know the Symptoms guide that is absolutely free to download. Educate yourself on the early warning signs and share your newfound knowledge with others. The more we know about breast cancer and its symptoms, the better we can become at halting the disease in its tracks. 

3. Share the story of how you or someone you know has been impacted by breast cancer. This month, to honor those who have dealt with the disease, the NBCF is accepting stories from survivors and their families and sharing them across their social media platforms. Help encourage others facing cancer by contributing your own inspirational or moving stories. 

4. Volunteer to pack breast health kits or HOPE kits. By working with the NBCF, you can help create packages that provide support and educational tools to women in need. Visit to learn how you can donate your time locally. 

5. Donate to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. Your money can help thousands of women access proper health care, including mammograms and diagnostic services. Learn more here

Riley Heruska
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When it comes to horror movies, not everyone can stomach high levels of gore or terror. Many of us don't see the point in watching a movie that will haunt our nightmares for weeks to come, even if it's THE thing to do during the month of Halloween. 

Fortunately, there are some horror movies that even people with weak stomachs will enjoy. Check out these seven films that are technically horror movies but still great for people who just want to dip a toe in the world of scary films. 

The Cabin in the Woods 

Although this film can technically fall under the horror category, it's got a fair amount of comedy and parody wrapped up in its plot. Five friends go for a trip at a remote cabin, but they soon realize they're involved in something horrible. The film has its scary moments, but overall, anyone older than sixteen probably shouldn't be too unnerved. 


If you're looking for more laughs than thrills, check out this lighthearted take on a zombie apocalypse. A gang of actors you know and love spend their days taking out the undead and surviving in a world that's as deadly as it is hilarious. A word of caution: things can get pretty bloody, so if you hate gore, maybe skip the zombie films. 

Get Out

This movie made huge waves when it hit the big screen a year ago, and it's still as dark and strangely humorous as it was then. A young African American man goes to visit his girlfriend's family over the weekend, and while he's there, he realizes that something is hugely wrong in their suburban home. Even people who hate jump scares will find themselves wrapped up in this mysterious plot. 

The Invitation 

Although this film isn't funny at all, adult viewers won't find it too unsettling. The Invitation follows a man as he attends a dinner thrown by his ex-wife and her new husband. What happens next is just creepy enough to satisfy your Halloween horror cravings, but not scary enough to make you sleep with the lights on. 

A Quiet Place 

Everyone will tell you that they were on the edge of their seat while watching this film, so if you hate tension and startling moments, you might want to skip A Quiet Place. Still, it's more thrilling than it is terrifying, like a rollercoaster through monster-infested woods. Watch apprehensively as a man tries to protect his family in a world where one accidental noise could end them all. 

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil 

Just a few minutes with Tucker and Dale will have you belly-laughing instead of screaming in terror. This might look like a horror film, but in reality, it's just a huge misunderstanding between two hillbillies and a group of young campers. There's blood and gore, but more than anything, there's A+ comedy. 

I Am Legend

In this classic American post-apocalyptic drama, Will Smith attempts to survive in a dead world full of surprisingly quick and smart zombies. It's definitely one of the scarier films on this list, but as long as you're not worried about zombies hiding in your closet, you'll probably enjoy the high levels of adrenaline.  

What horror movies do you like to watch during the month of October? Let us know in the comments below!