Inspiring Turkey Trays

Part centerpiece, part meal, these “turkey” trays are a fun way to add some special oomph to your Thanksgiving table. Check them out and get inspired.

The Fruit Trays…

The Veggie Trays…

And our favorite, the Dessert Trays…

The countdown is on! Are you ready for Turkey Day?

2014 Holiday Shipping Tips and Deadlines

Here’s a handy guide to keep you ahead of the game for the holiday season. Between holiday parties, performances and general hustle-and-bustle, shipping your holiday gifts can get stressful. Keep tabs on this information to avoid holiday headaches.

SHIPPING TIPS

  • Did you know that you can shop for holiday gifts from Mrs. Fields anytime and choose the day you’d like them delivered? That’s right, you can shop early, but have your fresh, delicious gifts delivered just in time for….well, whatever! You pick the delivery date and pay only standard shipping rates. Genius, right?
  • For packages you ship yourself, did you know that you can order free Priority Mail shipping supplies on usps.com and have them delivered to your door, free of charge? This allows you to skip the lines at the post office altogether.
  • Use at least one inch of cushioning around items shipped. Fill in any empty space with cushioning, so that when your box is sealed and you shake it, there is very little movement inside.
  • Beware of re-using cardboard boxes too many times for shipping. The materials are more likely to break down, tear, or rip after three uses.
  • If you’re purchasing large, heavy or otherwise awkward items for gifts, consider purchasing them online and having them shipped directly to your recipient. The manufacturer will have better supplies and more expertise with shipping such items.

SHIPPING DEADLINES
Mrs. Fields Christmas Shipping Deadlines:

  • December 17 – Last day for Standard shipping
  • December 18-22 (2:45 p.m. cutoff) – 2-Day shipping deadline
  • December 23 – Overnight shipping deadline

USPS 2014 Christmas Shipping Deadlines:

To ensure that holiday mail and packages are delivered in time for Christmas, the Postal Service recommends the following mailing and shipping deadlines:

  • December 2   – First-Class Mail International
  • December 2   – Priority Mail International
  • December 10 – Priority Mail Express International
  • December 15 – Standard Post
  • December 17 – Global Express Guaranteed
  • December 20 – First-Class Mail
  • December 20 – Priority Mail
  • December 23 – Priority Mail Express

You can find out about UPS shipping deadlines here and FedEx deadlines here.

Give Your Oven a Holiday Tune-Up

The last thing you need during the holidays is an oven failure, so we’re getting you ready for holiday kitchen overdrive with a simple oven tune-up to keep you running smoothly from Thanksgiving appetizers to New Years desserts.

1. Clean the oven. No need to dread this task. Most modern ovens have a self-cleaning function, but if not, there is no need to buy dangerous chemical cleansers. A spray bottle of water and a box of baking soda will do wonders.

2. Check the thermostat. The thermostat is the mechanism that helps measure and regulate the temperature in the oven. They can go bad or become unreliable, but are replaced easily. The most common indicator of a bad thermostat is an oven that overheats. You should be able to identify the thermostat in your oven by looking inside for a long tube near one of the side walls. To replace it, be sure to disconnect the electricity to the oven before starting and consult the owner’s manual for any specific instructions. It is most often a process of disconnecting the wires on the old thermostat, removing it, and installing the new one in the reverse order.

3. Check the heating elements. If you’ve noticed things baking unevenly in the oven, or taking much longer to cook, the heating element could be going bad. Replacement is quite simple. Be sure to disconnect electricity before beginning, then follow the instructions in this simple video.

4. Inspect the flames. For gas ovens, ports for the flames can easily be blocked by debris. Turn the oven on and check to see if flame levels are even in both size and disbursement. Clean away any debris or blockage. If the flame seems too low, consult your owner’s manual to find where adjustments can be made. The manual should also indicate the recommended size of the flame for your particular unit.

5. Clean or replace the bulb. The oven light is one of the most underutilized tools, since it allows you to check on foods without opening the door and letting hot air escape. If the bulb is dirty or failing, replace it before the busy season.

Simple as that, your oven is ready for whatever your holiday schedule brings!

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Guide to Gourds

It’s pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere you go right now, but don’t let those beautiful orange orbs overshadow some of the other great gourds and squashes in season right now. Squash is healthy, delicious, and can be prepared in so many different interesting and crave-worthy ways. Here are 5 delicious gourds you should get to know, along with recipe ideas to get you inspired!

1. Acorn Squash
This smallish squash has a mild, buttery flavor and a smooth texture. Try this recipe for Roasted Parmesan Acorn Squash and fall in love.

2. Spaghetti Squash
This incredible squash, when cooked, flakes into spaghetti-like shreds that are savory and delicious and can literally take the place of spaghetti on your plate with a little marinara sauce on top. And the best news? You can cook it easily in the microwave.

3. Banana Squash
This winter squash has an earthy sweetness and when paired with chipotle peppers, makes an incredible Soft Taco Recipe.

4. Patty Pan Squash
You should still be able to find some of these UFO-like summer squashes, and when you do, try this delicious Overstuffed Patty Pan Squash recipe.

5. Muscat Squash
Sometimes called the “Cinderella Squash” or a “Cinderella Pumpin,” this gorgeous, squatty squash is great for cooking (not as great for carving). Try it in this mouthwatering Thai Pumpkin Curry recipe.

Do you have a favorite squash recipe? Share it with us in the comments!

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Halloween Home Tour

via Nifty Thrifty & Thriving

With nearly 6.9 billion dollars spent on costumes, decorations, and candy, Halloween is the silly holiday we love to take seriously. Not only do we dress up the kids, ourselves, and the inside of our homes, but many of us are decorating the exterior of our homes as well. And the results are scary awesome! We’ll take you on a tour of some incredibly creative (and spooky) homes.

We love the cob webs and boarded up look of this otherwise adorable home from Between Naps on the Porch.

Talk about an infestation! We love this house crawling with oversized spiders found on The Daily Party Dish.

What looks like an impressive choir of jack-o-lanterns, is a fabulous display from Ash Tree Cottage that has a wow factor in day or night!

The Kenova Pumpkin House in West Virginia features over 3,000 carved pumpkins each year, thanks to volunteer carvers. What a scene!

Green lights and strong silhouettes make an eery display and a haunting glow.

A Los Angeles house-turned-haunted-house called The Forest of Mirrors has a fiery skull pile that is as creepy as it is cool.

Vancouver Science World Halloween Theme

The Vancouver Science World transforms into a fabulous jack-o-lantern, lighting up the BC skyline.

An over-the-top look doesn’t require an over-the-top budget! Big, bold monster shapes cut out from paper with some backlighting will make a huge impact.

This homemade UFO crash is a show-stopper and so creative. (We have to wonder where it gets stored in the off-season!)

Now we want to see your homes! Post your favorite Halloween decorations to the comments section, or on our Facebook page!

Amazing Halloween Makeup You Can Do Yourself

The countdown to Halloween is on, and just in case you need a little inspiration, we’ve gathered some incredible makeup tutorials for you. Everything from vampires to sugar skulls to gory zombies, and you don’t even need to be a Hollywood makeup artist to pull them off. (Although we threw in a couple of crazy cool advanced-level tutorials for the truly adventurous.) Check them out for inspiration and give them a try!

Vampire makeup for kids. Skill level: Easy
Zombie Ghost for kids. Skill level: Easy
Cheek Scar tutorial. Skill level: Easy
Spiderman tutorial. Skill level: Easy
Simple Skull tutorial. Skill level: Easy
Comic Book Face tutorial. Skill level: Moderate
Easy Sugar Skull tutorial. Skill level: Moderate
3D Stretch Lips tutorial. Skill level: Advanced
Missing Eye tutorial. Skill level: Advanced

 

Easy DIY Fall Decorations

Mrs. Fields Secrets DIY Fall Decor

Ready to deck your halls with all things fall? We’ve rounded up some fabulous fall decor that is so simple, you can put them together in a jiffy. How long is a jiffy, you ask? Not long at all! From top left to bottom right:

  • Raking leaves and pruning trees? Save a substantial branch and use a drill to make room for tea lights. Brilliant!
  • Keep that drill out, because this hole-y pumpkin lets of a beautiful glow.
  • Wrap candles with burlap, ribbon, or even colorful leaves to give your everyday decorations a seasonal look.
  • Fill your antique pots and pitchers with tiny bunches of branches and berries. Rustic and ravishing.
  • Use glow in the dark foam to create eyes for your tree trunks. Fun, but not too spooky!
  • Fill a vase with candy corns in a vase and nestle a small candle inside for a darling decoration.
  • Tiny gourds on top of your regular candlesticks give height and presence to a little decoration.
  • Stark branches and small orange pumpkins fill a large vase and a large space.

Cold Weather Pantry Staples

When the weather changes, so should our pantries. A well-stocked seasonal pantry makes it easy to make homemade meals, even at the end of a long day. Stock up on these essentials and stay cozy and full all through the winter.

  • onions, carrots, and celery: these three are known as the trinity in cooking and are absolute staples for your pantry. Together, they are the foundation of soups and sauces, not to mention the ideal accompaniment to roasted meats.
  • potatoes: bake them, boil them, mash them or smash them, potatoes are hearty and delicious and strong enough to stand alone as the main course.
  • sweet potatoes: not yams, but actual sweet potatoes are delicious diced into soups, hash, even paired with spicy seasoning for tacos.
  • canned pumpkin: our favorite gourd that can be used in a savory or sweet manner for sauces, soups, pies, and cookies.
  • chicken broth: whether you make your own or buy it in cans, chicken broth can be used in beef, poultry or veggie dishes adding depth of flavor, and an extra can can turn last night’s leftovers into enough for dinner again tonight.
  • pasta: for a side dish or a main course, pasta is a favorite comfort food in cool weather.
  • beans: dry or canned, beans are a hearty ingredient in soups, chills, and wraps.
  • canned or jarred tomatoes: for a sauce, a soup, or a quick salsa, your favorite summer fruit is one that tastes just as good in its preserved form.

Those are our cold weather staples. What are yours?

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5 Ways to Enjoy Caramel Apples Without the Mess

Mrs. Fields Caramel Apple Hacks
You love caramel apples. You hate the sticky mess. Now you can have your caramel apple and eat it too (without the need for soap and water). Check out these five brilliant caramel apple hacks for the sticky-averse!

1. If you love the original, maybe you just need a crash course in how to properly cut and serve caramel apples. Serve individual slices with a toothpick.
2. One-bite mini caramel apples on a stick are great for kids or those who want just a taste.
3. Make an inside-out caramel apple by hollowing an apple half and filling it with caramel sunday syrup. Chill until caramel is firm, then slice into wedges!
4. A caramel apple martini is a delicious, no-stick grownup spin on this favorite treat.
5. Caramel apple trifles are ooey-gooey delicious, but served with a spoon!

Do you have a favorite way to enjoy caramel apples?

No-Sew Closet Sachets

Mrs. Fields Secrets Closet Sachet
It’s that time of year to box up the tank tops and shorts and transition your closet into cool weather wear, and we’ve got a great little trick to keep your clothes fresh and smelling great all season through. This no-sew sachet will cost pennies compared to store-bought alternatives and is easy to refresh every time you transition your closet. Make a handful of these sachets and tuck them into drawers and closet shelves. Your clothes will smell amazing, and you’ll keep pesky moths away too.

No-Sew Closet Sachet

9 x 9 inch piece of fabric
10 inch strip of ribbon
1/3 cup dried lavender flowers

Directions
Place the lavender flowers in the center of the wrong side of your fabric. Pull the corners in and tie the ribbon around tightly to secure. Place in dresser drawers or closet shelves for up to 6 months of freshness. After 6 months, untie the ribbon and replace the lavender flowers.

HINT: Use cloth napkins, scraps of fabric, or old clothing to up-cycle for this project.
HINT: Cedar chips, rosemary and pine needles are other great sachet-fillers that will give a lasting scent and deter moths.

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