Thanksgiving Activities for Kids

Mrs. Fields Secrets Thanksgiving activities
While you’re busy getting the last details of Thanksgiving dinner together, here are some great ideas to keep little kids entertained and out of the kitchen:

1. Fruit Turkeys will make a perfect quiet activity at the kids’ table, not to mention a great appetizer!
2. Turkey Bowling in a hallway will keep the kids occupied and laughing it up.
3. Oreo Turkeys are almost too cute to eat. Almost. You might even find a few adults taking part in this craft.
4. Decorated Marshmallows with edible ink can be used later in hot cocoa. Kids will love writing on their food.

Do you have any favorite ways to keep the kids busy on Thanksgiving?

Introducing the Mrs. Fields Basketball Team (And what’s in it for you!)

Mrs. Fields Secrets Basketball Team
We are so honored to introduce to you the Mrs. Fields Basketball Team! Our delicious cookies are the fuel behind this incredible team, coming to you from the Pinoy Asian Basketball League in the San Fernando Valley of California! This group of serious (part-time) ballers is dressed for success in the bright signature red of Mrs. Fields and ready to do some serious dunking. (They are equally adept at basketball and cookie dunking.) The new season begins this week and we’re inviting all of our Mrs. Fields cookie fans to become fans of this amazing team and follow along during the season. We’ll keep you updated with game highlights and player bios and treat you with fun giveaways to help celebrate the team’s success.

And speaking of treating you, local fans are invited to attend games where Mrs. Fields will have FREE cookies available for fans. So show up in your bright red, bring your posters and cheer on the team and enjoy a fresh Mrs. Fields cookie for free while you get to know Papa J, Boom, Dolph, Lolo and all the other players on the team.

You can keep up with the team on our Facebook page and Twitter feed as well as right here on the blog.

The first game is tonight, November 21.  Time: 9:15PM Location: Francis Polytechnic High School. Be there if you’re a smart cookie!

5 Tips to Make Houseguests Feel Welcome

If you’re hosting houseguests over the holidays, there are simple things you can do to help their stay go off without a hitch. I’ve got five great tips that will make all the difference:

1. Keep a well-stocked bedroom. Anticipate your guest’s needs by stocking their room or sleeping area with a few essentials: bottled water, tissues, a packaged snack food, and a magazine or book. If there is a TV in the room, leave a channel guide near the remote control. Leave a note with the wi-fi name and password, and extra pillows and blankets are a must. A nightlight is helpful, as is a small flashlight in case they need to find the bathroom in the night and don’t want to turn on lights.

2. Keep a well-stocked bathroom. No guest wants to quietly tap you on the shoulder and ask for a bathroom item, so have your bathroom well-stocked and organized. Have ample toilet paper, fresh towels, fresh soap, cotton balls, Q-tips, feminine products, and even a new toothbrush and toothpaste just in case. My other favorite bathroom item to keep stocked is a bottle of this little gem. It really works!

3. Plan for free time. Both you and your guest will likely need and want some time apart, especially during the busy holidays. Equip them with helpful information like maps and transportation information so that they can get around independently. Pick up free brochures of local attractions ahead of time so they can browse options. Supply them with an extra set of house keys, so they have the freedom to come and go as needed.

4. Have accessible snacks and food. Keep a bowl full of fruit out for snacking and a jar full of cookies out and ready for enjoyment. Make sure they know where to find a drink if they need one, and have easy self-serve breakfast food options in case they wake up earlier or later than you.

5. Let them help out. Nobody likes to feel like a burden as a houseguest. Invite them to help you make dinner or read to the kids while you’re  running a quick errand. If they offer to help, have a short list of tasks in mind that would be easy for them to do: wash the dishes, walk the dog, take out the trash, or even vacuum.

Do you have any other tips? Be sure to share them!

Join Our Consumer Panel for a Chance to Win Big

Mrs. Fields Secrets Consumer Panel
Our customer’s and reader’s opinions have always meant a lot to us, and today we’ve got another way to prove it. You can join our Consumer Panel, sharing your opinions on our brands, and be entered to win some fabulous prizes, including 5 iPad Minis, 50 iPod Shuffles, and 100 Amazon gift cards. So, turn your two cents into something much more!

5 Dessert Ideas for Your Halloween Party

Party foods always seem so far down on the to-do list in October. Halloween is kind of the trifecta of busy holiday madness. If you have kids, you’re trying to get some costumes together, they have their own school Halloween parties and probably some parties with friends, and you’re trying to pull off your own spooky shindig with all the drinks, appetizers and goodies that entails. When you’re so busy, it’s best to have one or two dishes to wow your guests, and some simple but delicious cookies, cupcakes and other bite-sized sweets to add variety.

To help you out, I’m putting a few simple Halloween party food ideas out there to help fill out your party menu. And they’re mostly desserts because — let’s be honest — All Hallows Eve is more about the treats than the tricks these days.

Cookies, Cocktails and Other Spooky Side Dishes

Halloween cookies are bite-sized magic. Cookies are one of my absolute favorite fall treats, probably because nothing beats the cold like hot cocoa and a chocolate chip cookie, in my mind anyway. Moist pumpkin cookies are definitely a fall favorite through October and November. And may I suggest sugar cookies for the kids to decorate at your kid-friendly soirée; you’ll be knocking out a treat and an activity at once. Guests may not go back for a second helping of the grape “eyeball” salad, but they’ll constantly be snatching up cookies if they’re hanging around.

Everyone goes home with goody baskets. It’s always fun to come away from the party with a little memento of the fun you had. I always try to find some goody gift baskets or bag of treats to send people home with. I try to keep it neutral, something that everyone will like, such as candy or cookies. Throw in a few silly party favors or dollar-store toys for the kids. They’ll see their favors the next day and rave about your party to everyone.

Halloween concoctions lift everyone’s spirits. It’s not too early to whip up some pumpkin-spiced hot chocolate, and I think it’s about time I had some hot apple cider (with whip cream, a dash of caramel and some chocolate sprinkles on top). And a party is always the right time and place to try out some new cocktail recipes that are part of your holiday theme. A friend of mine made a cocktail for me last year with black vodka, coffee liquor and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I have to say, it was pretty awesome, and perfectly dark for Halloween. If you’re using a black light for fun, consider just about anything with tonic water in it; the quinine in it will glow. And a cube of dry ice is all you need to make just about any drink feel like a witch’s brew, brimming with fog.

Brownies are your secret weapon. Is there anyone who doesn’t like brownies? This one is kind of a cheat because they’re my go-to side dessert for just about any holiday part that I have. They have universal appeal, and they’re not specific to any theme or party until you add garnishes of, say, orange and green to make them Halloween-esque? It must be working, because I’ve never had any left over at the end of the night!

I think there are some winning Halloween goodie ideas, here. What are your go-to snacks and finger-foods for parties this time of year? And tell us your costume ideas, too!

Ask Mrs. Fields: Christmas Eve Traditions

Dear Mrs. Fields,

My small family recently made a cross-country move for a new job and we are spending our first Christmas far from family, friends, and the holiday traditions we’ve always known. Before we moved, Christmas Eve was always spent feasting and partying with parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. While we’re excited for our new opportunities, we’re battling a bit of homesickness and not quite sure how to make it feel like Christmas when everything is so different. Any ideas?

Sincerely,
Lucy

This is a great question and one that many people will relate. My advice is to make the most of things by sitting down together as a couple or a family and creating your own new Christmas Eve traditions. Most people have traditions handed down to them, but few people get to tailor-make their own! If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas to jump start your planning:

  • Family Game Night. Wrap up a few favorite (old or new) board or video games to play. Unwrap and play them one at a time. Think of creative ways to mix things up, like silly prizes or treats for the winners.
  • Pajama Night. Everybody can always use a new pair of pajamas. Wrap up a new set for each person, then pose for pictures, read favorite storybooks, watch movies, or play games.
  • Christmas Scavenger Hunt. Grab the family and a list of holiday items (Christmas lights, Santa suit, candy canes, manger scenes, reindeer, etc.) and snap photos of your group with each item. You’ll have fun hunting down each item, and you’ll have a photo history of your fun night.
  • Karaoke Night. A simple microphone, speaker, and your favorite holiday music turns your home into a fabulous karaoke lounge. Most of us know all the words to holiday music anyway, so it’s especially easy for everyone to participate!
  • Progressive Dinner. You can do this one of two ways.  Join up with new friends to host a progressive dinner (appetizer, entreé, and dessert) at three different houses. Or, if you’re solo, pick three favorite restaurants and have each course of dinner at a different spot.
  • Christmas Lights Tour. Most local newspapers feature the best holiday light displays in the area. Look it up and buckle up the family for a tour of the garish displays.
  • Egg Nog Taste Test. Purchase 4 or 5 brands of egg nog and have a blind taste test to determine which is the best. You can do this with practically anything, such as fudge brownies, potato chips, or any favorite snack or treat.
  • Soup Kitchen Service. Sometimes the best way to beat the blues is to do something nice for someone else. Contact a local soup kitchen or shelter and help serve a meal. It’s a guaranteed feel-good moment.

Any other ideas for Lucy? What are your favorite Christmas Eve traditions? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

P.S. DON’T FORGET! Today is Free Shipping Friday at Mrs. Fields! Get free standard shipping today on select holiday gifts! Use code 11YEZ at checkout.

And if you haven’t already, share your favorite Mrs. Fields memory as part of our 35th Anniversary Giveaway! You could win free cookies for a year!

Browned Butter is My Secret Ingredient by SugarPlum

MF Secret Ingredient Series II

I’ve invited a host of moms, bloggers, bakers, and otherwise interesting people to share their “secret ingredients” for success. I’m thrilled to introduce today’s post from Emily Hobbs, baker, finalist in Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown, not to mention a finalist in a Mrs. Fields recipe contest and creator of Sugar Plum blog where she posts delicious original recipes for you to enjoy!

Layered Amaretti Apple Pumpkin PIe

Layered Amaretti Apple Pumpkin PIe

My secret ingredient I use in baking is browned butter.  I cook butter in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking frequently, until it foams and turns light golden brown (about 2-3 minutes).  The browned butter adds a nutty flavor to cookies!

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Follow Emily’s beautiful blog and Twitter feed, and become her friend on Facebook to keep up with all of her great recipes.

If you would like to participate in the “What’s Your Secret Ingredient?” series, contact me, mrsfields[at]mrsfieldssecrets[dot]com.

3 Great Safety Tips for Trick-or-Treaters

Ready to trick-or-treat? Don’t head out the door without these three great tips to keep everybody happy and harmless on Halloween night!

Reflective Tape

Reflective Tape

1. Use Inconspicuous Reflective Tape. A few small squares of reflective tape on your trick-or-treater will keep them safe and visible to cars on Halloween night. The tape is available in a wide variety of colors, so it can be incorporated into any costume without being obnoxious. Be sure to place some on the heels of their sneakers, on their elbows, and on their tote bag—the natural movement of their feet and arms will catch more light.

2. Modify masks. Remember that masks hinder your child’s ability to see, hear, and breathe properly, especially in the dark. Use an ex-acto knife to enlarge eye, nose, and mouth holes. If a mask covers their ears, make inconspicuous ear openings to allow noise to penetrate. Adjust or replace elastic bands to keep mask and corresponding eye/nose/mouth/ear holes securely in place.

3. Hitch your wagon. If you have little ones, keep their excitement and energy contained in a wagon or stroller in between houses while trick-or-treating. This will keep them from darting out into the road while you’re conversing with neighbors, and will also keep them from tiring out too soon.  (Which, in turn, will keep you from tiring out while carrying them home.)

Happy (and safe) Halloween!

Perseverance Is My Secret Ingredient by Bakerella

MF Secret Ingredient Series II
I’ve invited a host of moms, bloggers, bakers, and otherwise interesting people to share their “secret ingredients” for success. I’m thrilled to introduce today’s post from Bakerella, famed blogger, author, creator of endless Cake Pop masterpieces, and an all-around wonderful person.

MF Bakerella

I think I would say my secret ingredient is perseverance. Most of the time, when I bake, I’m trying something I’ve never made before. Many times I’ve wanted to throw in the towel when I thought a recipe wasn’t going right in the kitchen. And 9 times out of 10 things worked out better than I’d hoped thanks to pushing through. That’s what’s been so fun about baking and learning new recipes and decorating techniques. It’s the challenge and the feeling of accomplishment when I create something that stretches my comfort zone. Like macarons and fourteen layer cakes and crazy cake pop designs. And I enjoy every minute of it because even if I do make mistakes…they are still sweet.

If you don’t already, follow Bakerella’s blog, facebook, and Twitter feed for even more inspiration.

If you would like to participate in the “What’s Your Secret Ingredient?” series, contact me, mrsfields[at]mrsfieldssecrets[dot]com.

Local Hero Winners

I’m so excited to announce the winners of our Nominate a Local Hero giveaway! We were flooded with incredible nominations from all across the country, giving us the enormous challenge of selecting our winners. Make no mistake, it was an impossible decision, as all of the nominations were stories of true heroes, but eventually a decision had to be made. Congratulations to the following winners who have already been contacted by email:

My nominee is Mama Lois Coleman, founder of Grace House.
Lois knew she wanted to help young people excel morally and academically, so she mounted a basketball hoop in her backyard and held cookouts for the children and teenagers in her neighborhood. The children soon began calling her “Mama Lois.” She later formed a club, called the Cultivators Club, to teach girls grace and manners.

Returning to Birmingham, Mama Lois worked with the Wales Gobel Ministry for over nine years. As a result, the Cultivators Club grew from being just a club to girls actually coming to live in her home. These girls were taught the same values she had been taught as a child. Not only did she work with these girls, but also worked with various agencies to send scores of inner-city children to camps each summer. It wasn’t long, however, before Mama Lois realized that there were more girls needing assistance than bedrooms in her home. She had a vision: to open a home to serve girls who had been abused or neglected.

Overcoming the big obstacles of funding, incorporating, purchasing property, and renovating, Mama Lois and a large host of volunteers opened that home in 1992, calling it Grace House Christian Home for Girls. At age 69, Mama Lois implemented a plan for operating this home: to provide a nurturing environment for girls from crisis backgrounds, where they could receive plenty of love and encouragement in a family setting.

There are now a total of three group homes operating in Fairfield, AL, which house up to 24 girls total. What began as a dream in one woman’s humble home is now Grace House Ministries, poised to make a difference in the lives of many young women and children in the 21st century.

Of all of the people I know, I have to nominate my 12 year old daughter Osjah. The child is truly amazing and that is not her Mom talking! By the time she started kindergarten she had enough community service hours to more than qualify her for graduation and since then has averaged about 1000 hours a year. Not only is she active in the community, but she finds problems and then figures out a way to solve them. Last year she adopted an underprivileged elementary school and supplied them with backpacks, school supplies, socks and jackets and held a fundraising event to supply them with money for special needs. She even managed to get a former Miss America and a Jets player to come speak to the kids and hosted a pizza party. She also held a Stocking For Soldiers event to ship Christmas stockings to Afghanistan to help brighten the holiday for the troops, food drives for the local food bank etc… She’s a gifted student and someday hopes to be a doctor or an attorney working with kids. You can Google this her. She is working now on getting her group (Osjah’s Wish – on Facebook) established as an official nonprofit. Some kids hang out with their friends at the mall on the weekends, this one hangs out with her friends working at the food bank or cleaning up the park. I couldn’t be more proud of her spirit and her heart.

I nominate my mom, Virgie. She has worked with LA County Children’s Services Department for 30+ years and finally retired last year. She dedicated herself to being a children’s advocate. She has implemented many of the parenting programs to teach parents how to discipline their children without abusing them. She even had a program for the parents that didn’t have to means to pay for classes where the social workers would watch the kids while the parents attended parenting classes in the evening (until the county cut the program)(sad but true). She wrote the developmental chart for children 0-18 years of age in which the county still uses today. This explained where a child should be developmentally in their growth stages. She was the supervisor for the emergency response unit in Covina, CA for many years. And I have to say the world is a better place because of her!! She has saved many lives with being a believer in continued education by keeping herself updated with all the latest news on health and disease issues like how to recognize certain illnesses that had similar characteristics to bruising that would be caused by abuse. She was actually recognized for saving the life of a baby with that type of illness. She has even had children that were raised in the foster system that came back after getting their education and worked for her as social workers and have become supervisors, deputies, etc. Her training and teaching techniques are amazing!
She just really made a difference in a lot of lives!! She has since retired but I would love for her to be recognized in any way possible. She is a “Hero” to all and we love her!!

Once again, thank you to all who took time to share a nomination, and thank you to all the heroes out there making our world a better place to live!

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