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!

Personalized Family Reunion Ideas

Do you have a family reunion coming up? I do, and I’ve been drawing inspiration from around the Internet. Check out these amazing personalized touches—from custom tee shirts and totes to frosted cookies with your family crest—each designed to enhance a celebration and make the memories last. These are my favorites.

MF Reunion Collage 1
MF Reunion Collage 2
MF Reunion Collage 3
MF Reunion Collage 4

1. Personalized Family Tee via Erica’s Bloggity Blog.

2. Personalized Reunion Totes via Blond Designs.

3. Family Photos in Mason Jars via Weeping Cherries.

4. Family Photos Table Runner via Oh So Beautiful Paper.

5. Family Reunion Tees via Kin.

6. Personalized Screenprint via Kin.

7. Personalized Frosted Cookies via Mrs. Fields Gifts.

8. Family Recipe Cards via Tiny White Daisies.

And in the spirit of personalization, enjoy free personalization at Mrs. Fields Gifts (shop the entire category here). Use code 11MER at checkout. Discount code is good through September 30, 2011.

Happy reuniting!

10 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Ah, the simple life. Where did it go? And more importantly, how do we get it back? Here are 10 great suggestions to help you do just that.

1. Get into routines. Organize your daily tasks into routines. Create a literal checklist of everything you need to have done each morning and evening and post it in a convenient place that you’ll see each day, like your bathroom mirror. Follow it every day and soon you’ll be in a thorough routine that will keep you from scrambling to do the same things. This will streamline your daily chores and free up your thoughts for other things.

2. Begin menu planning. Minimize the time you spend running to the grocery store and lamenting over what to make for dinner by creating a simple menu plan each week or month. You can also minimize waste by using the same ingredients for at least two meals. Invite the kids to help you plan and cook meals, too.

3. Unplug and go outside. Commit to spending some time outside each day, and when you do—even if it’s only a five minute walk—commit to unplugging yourself from computer, phone, and other electronic devices. Take in the beauty of nature, get some Vitamin D from the sunshine, and enjoy being unavailable to anybody but yourself for a few minutes. It’s heavenly.

4. Say no. It’s easy to fill up life with too many commitments, especially if they are all worthy causes. However, it’s important to be able to say no from time to time. In fact, it’s good for you. Try it.

5. Get rid of stuff. Clutter has a way of infiltrating a room, a house, and even your mind. If you’re overwhelmed with where to start, begin small, maybe with one drawer. Toss out garbage, donate things you don’t use anymore, and leave only the items you need and truly love. You’ll feel instant relief and rejuvenation as you simplify your belongings.

6. Single-task. Everybody is big on multi-tasking, but it can often complicate things and slow us down. For one day, work on single-tasking—focusing and completing one task at a time. The results will probably surprise you.

7. Eat slowly. It sounds simple, but simple is what we’re after. We often deny ourselves the simple pleasure of eating by rushing through a meal without taking time to thoroughly chew and savor each bite. People who eat slowly tend to consume fewer calories and enjoy the experience a whole lot more than the rest of us.

8. Identify your time-suckers. Most of us lose time without realizing where it went. Keep a log of your activities for a few days and see if you notice areas that devour your time. Maybe it’s sitting in front of the TV, or maybe you lose hours on the Internet, but whatever it is, identify it and then set parameters for yourself that will keep it from robbing your time and energy.

9. Breathe. Research has shown that simple breathing exercises can improve health, both physical and mental, specifically with anxiety and depression, as well as decreasing heart rate, blood pressure, and stress. Try this: Lie down flat with your hands on your stomach and breathe in slowly through your nose until you’ve reached capacity. Watch your hands rise with each intake as if you’re filling a balloon. (Your shoulders should remain still.) Slowly let the breath out through your mouth, in a soft, controlled movement. Watch your hands fall back down. Counting slowly to 5, 6, or 7  with each intake and output can help you stay focused. Repeat the process for 5 – 15 minutes every day.

10. Bake cookies. Take a little time to create something simple like a batch of cookies to enjoy and share with others. Roll up your sleeves, turn on some music, and invite a loved one (tall or small) to join you. The process of creating something is a simply satisfying experience, and the reward is, oh, so sweet!

Do you have tips for a simple life? Share them in the comments section!

Summer Reading List

MF Summer Reading
Looking for a good read? I love to get other people’s book recommendations, so I thought I’d share my own with you. My tastes include a mix of fiction, non-fiction, memoir, thrillers, and young adult titles. I hope you discover a title or two you love, and moreover, I hope you’ll share some of your favorites with me!

Summer Reading 2011

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (Fiction)
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (Fiction)
The Imperfectionists by  Tom Rachman (Fiction)
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume (Fiction)
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (Historical Fiction)
Bossypants by Tina Fey (Memoir)
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (Historical Fiction)
The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (Non-Fiction)
And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (Mystery)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers (Memoir)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Young Adult Fiction)
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt (Young Adult Fiction)
We Bought a Zoo by Benjamin Mee (Non-Fiction)
The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (Legal Thriller)

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite reads right now? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments section!

Father's Day V.. Mother's Day: Who Get's The Best Gifts?

We recently participated in a debate among our coworkers. The debate surrounded the issue of whether moms or dads receive the best gifts for their respective holidays? The answer was obvious to the men in the room while the women begged to differ. Neckties are one of the most common presents dads receive on Father’s Day. However, presenting ties as gifts at a backyard barbecue usually doesn’t break the bank. Men in our office suspected that much more is spent each year on moms but they didn’t have proof. So we contacted the National Retail Federation to learn whether disparities lurk between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day spending. The numbers surprised us so much that we are sharing them with you.

See the results here:  http://www.mrsfields.com/incoming/mday_vs_fday

If you’re struggling on what gift to give your dad this year, don’t skimp on dad like our research showed, add a batch of Mrs. Fields cookies to spruce up any humdrum socks, necktie or item-turned-paperweight.

Recipe: Out of the Box Cookie Dough Sundaes

You’ve had it happen before, right? At the last minute you end up with company with no plan for a real dessert. No need to panic with this great dessert idea from Breyers®. If you’ve got a carton of Breyers® BLASTS!™ Mrs. Fields® Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough ice cream in the freezer and a jar of hot fudge in the fridge, and some nuts in the pantry, you’ve got a dessert ready to go! Give it a try for impromptu dessert or planned-ahead delight. Either way, it will hit the spot.

Out of the Box Cookie Dough Sundaes

1 container (1.5 qt.) Breyers® BLASTS!™ Mrs. Fields® Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough Frozen Dairy Dessert, cut into 12 slices*
1 jar hot fudge topping, heated
3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted, or chopped walnuts

Arrange Breyers® BLASTS!™ Mrs. Fields® Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough Frozen Dairy Dessert on individual serving plates or large platter. Drizzle with hot fudge topping, then sprinkle with almonds.

HINT: Have some cookies on hand? Crumble them on the bottom of the plate for a tasty crust!

HINT: Create a custom look by using cookie cutters on the ice cream layer. cut away excess and serve your dessert in any shape you like!

Free Tin With Your Purchase

Haunted tin

Haunted tin

In a new string of never-before-offered offers, our fall catalog is featuring our next great idea. If you spend $100, you’ll receive this fabulous Haunted Tin filled with bite-sized cookies, brownies, and frosted cookies for FREE! With free shipping included, this gift is valued at $40! (That’s a 40% return on your investment!) Keep it for yourself or have it gifted to someone else. The choice is yours, but either way it’s F-R-E-E!

Isn’t that a sweet deal? Yeah, I thought so. Check out the new fall line and start shopping, baby!

Fall Catalog Preview!

In New York City, Fashion Week is underway and everyone is excited about the latest designs to walk the runway. Here at Mrs. Fields headquarters, we’re equally excited about our latest fall line, making its debut in mailboxes across the country in our Fall 2010 Gift Catalog. Here are some of the designs that are turning heads.

Fall Flurry Window Box

Fall Flurry Window Box

Our Fall Flurry Window Box is simply gorgeous–filled with all your favorites and so flattering to every decor!

Plentiful Harvest Box

Plentiful Harvest Box

The decadence! The abundance! The creamy frosting! Where do I begin? The Plentiful Harvest Box is one of my favorite pairings–our original cookies with our hand-frosted butter cookies. Honestly, this gift looks fabulous on anybody!

Fall Foliage Box

Fall Foliage Box

Without question, fall’s most fabulous accessory is this Fall Foliage Box. It looks as good on him as it does on her, and trust me–everybody wants one!

Harvest Hat Box

Harvest Hat Box

Hats are huge this season, but what’s even bigger? How about our Harvest Hat Box! That’s right. Just look at how those cookies are working it. Wow.

Autumn Harvest Wreath

Autumn Harvest Wreath

And of course, what collection is complete without a show-stopper? The Autumn Harvest Wreath is impeccably tailored to the most distinguished tastes. It’s got everything, and I mean everything, that defines a true modern classic.

See the rest of our collection online, or request a free catalog!

Back to School 9-1-1

Uh oh.

Your college freshman just called in tears. Everything is terrible. Her classes are, like, impossible. Her roommates totally don’t like her. And to top it all off, she seriously wore the dumbest thing EVER to the football game.

Have no fear. You’ll have her calmed down in a few minutes, convinced that life isn’t completely all bad. You’ll remind her that college life can be tough, for sure, but she can do it. She can definitely do it.

And then, in a few days, when she gets this delivery to share with her dorm, she might actually believe you.

Cookies & Brownies Galore Basket

Cookies & Brownies Galore Basket

How Do You Make Back to School Special?

Lunch Bag Best

Lunch Bag Best

Summer is drawing to a close and parents are descending on the bins of pencils, crayons, paper, and index cards at the stores to fill up the kids’ backpacks and send them off into another school year. I’m always sad to see summer draw to a close, but the anticipation of a new year’s adventures quickly replaces any reluctance on my part.

Speaking of new years, September 1 might as well be New Years Day for the kids. It’s much more monumental in their worlds than January 1 for sure. As I read in the blogosphere and talk to friends, I find that everyone has a unique way to usher in a new school year: some have a back-to-school fashion show in the living room, some have special dinners, some shop for new clothes, and some find other creative ways to celebrate.

My question for you is this: How do you make back-to-school special at your house?

I can’t wait to hear!

P.S. That photo? It’s my idea of a fabulous back-to-school lunch!

Save on back-to-school gifts at MrsFields.com with code BTS1. You’ll get 10% off a purchase of $50 and 15% off a purchase of $75.

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