Color Your Hair with Household Items

It’s always amazing to discover new uses for your household products, but these ideas really stand out…for your hair. You can switch things up with some bold color, go dramatically dark, or add soft highlights with simple items you probably already have in the pantry and under the counter. Follow the links for helpful instructions. It’s time to raid the cupboards and play beauty parlor!

Dye your hair brown with coffee: This natural way to color hair is totally safe (and smells good too). It even works to cover gray! The instructions recommend using decaf, but you might enjoy an energy jolt with regular beans!

Lighten your hair with honey: Blonde highlights are not just for summer months any more. Mixing honey and peroxide give you lighter locks with natural conditioning. (If you have very dark hair, this method will likely produce orange hues. Test a strand of underside hair first!)

Add a burgundy tint with beets: Dark hair can take on a rich, burgundy hue. (Not recommended for blonde hair.)

Take your hair a shade darker with black tea: A couple of cups of strongly brewed tea will take your natural color one to two shades darker and last for a couple of weeks. Just enough to feel new.

Add bold streaks of color with Koolaid: You’ll look great for your next home game or rock concert with this simple trick. Careful, though, depending on the natural color and health of your hair, this could be permanent!

Have you ever tried these methods? What did you think?

{Image via fineladyshop.com}

Great Oscar Party Ideas

Mrs. Fields Secrets Oscar Party
The hottest party in Hollywood is happening Sunday, but your house can be just as glamorous and fun with these clever Oscar party ideas. Invite some friends, don some fake eyelashes and get your acceptance speech ready because you’re about to to win best party host!

1. A range of flavored popcorns are perfect party fare. Have savory and sweet varieties.
2. These Tuxedo Cake Pops look so dapper. They might win best dressed.
3. You can recreate the Hollywood sign in a number of creative ways, but cupcakes would be dreamy.
4. Add a wedge of star fruit to give your bubbly drink the star treatment.
5. Make your napkins look like nominee envelopes for the ultimate touch.
6. Add your own labels to drinks so that everyone can enjoy an “Oscar Buzz.”

And don’t forget to download your free Oscar Dress Rating Card to keep track of your favorite (and least favorite) fashion looks.

25 Ways to Share a Smile

Smile Cookie Cake

If you’re pining for some sunshine, why not create some yourself by sharing a warm smile? Share a Smile Day is coming up on March 1, but you can get started now with these simple ideas. If we all work together, maybe we can bring on an early spring!

  1. Pay for the person behind you in the coffee line.
  2. Buy a package of note cards and write kind messages to friends or family and drop them in the mail.
  3. Pick up a bouquet of flowers and share them put them on display.
  4. Give someone a sincere compliment, something you’ve noticed but maybe never said.
  5. Write an email to a supervisor of someone who did a great job.
  6. Pick something bright and colorful to wear, even a crazy pair of socks. You’ll feel brighter and that brightness spreads.
  7. Ask someone to tell you about the thing they are most proud of, then listen.
  8. Invite friends over for a casual brunch.
  9. Think of a task your friend dreads and secretly do it for them.
  10. Slip a note of encouragement into your kid’s lunch box.
  11. Start an email chain with your friends asking for the funniest YouTube videos.
  12. When you see someone in military uniform, go up and thank them for their service and for their family’s sacrifice.
  13. Make a playlist of songs that make you smile and share it with your music-loving friends.
  14. Track down an old friend you’ve lost touch with and catch up.
  15. Make a donation to your favorite museum or charitable cause.
  16. Contact a local women’s shelter and ask about current needs, then organize a donation bin at work.
  17. Hold the door open on the elevator.
  18. Strike up a conversation with somebody new.
  19. When parking at a meter, feed a few extra coins into any nearby that are expiring soon.
  20. Think of someone from your past who influenced you and write them a letter.
  21. Take a walk outside and breathe in fresh air and invite a friend to join you.
  22. Break out the old home movies and watch them with the family.
  23. Visit an animal shelter and spend some time holding and petting the animals.
  24. Make your favorite “special occasion” meal just for fun.
  25. When reading, look for articles that would interest your friends and family and send them.

Of course, our favorite way to share a smile is with a fresh order of cookies from our Sunshine Collection. It’s practically impossible not to smile when you get an order of these.

Do you have a favorite way to share a smile? Share your ideas in the comments or on our Facebook page.

5 Fun Activities While the Kids Are Out of School

Looking for a way to entertain the kids (and yourself) on a rare day off from school? Try one of these five fantastic ideas to make the most of your day:

  • Build a giant fort together then fill it with blankets, snacks and books, or watch a movie together on a laptop or tablet. Flashlights are a must.
  • Venture outdoors for a nature walk. Equip each person with a camera if possible and have everyone look for beauty and details in nature. Then, put together a slide show with all the photos set to one of your favorite songs.
  • We use the phrase “like a kid in a candy store,” but when is the last time that actually happened? Look online for an old fashioned-style candy store nearby and take the kids on a field trip. Encourage them to try something different.
  • Escape winter by finding an indoor pool and spend the day barefoot in swimsuits. Go all the way by stopping for ice cream cones on the way home.
  • Preheat the oven, roll up your sleeves and bake batches of cookies together. Cookies are a perfect beginner’s course for young bakers. Read the recipe together, measure ingredients, explain the process, and most of all, remember to lick the beaters! Bake the cookies and let the kids bask in a job well done. (Looking for recipe recommendations? Try our Blue Ribbon Chocolate Chip Cookies or Melting Snowman Cookies.)

25 Last Minute Valentine Gift Ideas

Okay, maybe you fell in love yesterday, or maybe you’re the ultimate procrastinator. Either way, you’d better put something together quick! Here are 25 great ideas to rescue you from the Valentine’s Dog House.

  1. Head to your nearest Mrs. Fields store and get a decorated Big Cookie Cake. Call ahead and have your own personalized message (up to 20 characters) inscribed in frosting!
  2. Write a love poem. Think you can’t do it? Think again!
  3. Fill your valentine’s car with balloons.
  4. Enroll them in a sock-of-the-month subscription.
  5. Prepare a relaxing bubble bath with all the right ingredients: candles, music, fancy soap, warm towels and uninterrupted time.
  6. Track down your valentine’s favorite old movie  and have a romantic movie night in with buttery popcorn.
  7. Send a special, meaningful text one word at a time, every hour on the hour throughout the day so your valentine is anticipating each one and putting the puzzle together.
  8. Find a karaoke track of your favorite love song and give a private concert.
  9. Remember the first meal you shared together? Buy the ingredients and prepare it yourself.
  10. Make a special playlist of meaningful songs. Print out the lyrics and make notes in the margins about how it relates to your love story.
  11. Is there a task that you valentine has been putting off? A squeaky door, a broken drawer, a watch that won’t work? Surprise them by fixing it (or having it fixed).
  12. Make a giant homemade greeting card out of a big cardboard box. Pull out the construction paper, markers, glitter and glue to make it oversized and over-the-top sweet.
  13. Call a local radio station and dedicate a song. (Make sure you valentine is listening!)
  14. Buy a book or find some video tutorials and give your valentine a thorough, relaxing massage.
  15. Write love notes on the bathroom mirror in lipstick, soap or dry erase marker.
  16. Prepare a virtual vacation with photos from around the world that you would love to take your valentine. Make imaginary plans and explore them together.
  17. Make a silly online card with Jib Jab.
  18. A heart-shaped cookie cutter can turn any food into a valentine.
  19. Create a photo slide show of the two of you together set to a favorite song.
  20. Record a video of yourself listing all the things you love about your valentine and email it to him/her.
  21. Surprise your valentine at work with a special picnic lunch.
  22. Go old school and make a clever candy bar poster.
  23. What’s your valentine’s favorite cocktail? Buy the ingredients and play bartender.
  24. Plan a last-minute romantic road trip.
  25. Build an adult fort and fill it with pillows, blankets, chocolates and a book of love poems.

Fun Facts on Olympic Eating

If you’re caught up with the rest of the world in the Olympics, here are some fun facts about what’s on the menu in Sochi for athletes and guests of the 2014 Winter Games:

  • The US Olympic team has a private chef to prepare familiar, healthy food for the athletes. Chef Allen Tran says the US athletes prefer spicy ethnic foods.
  • Mexican food is the favorite among US skiers.
  • The US brought maple syrup and Sriracha hot sauce with them for fear that it couldn’t be found locally in Sochi.
  • Inside the Olympic Park, the most popular food items are pizza, hot dogs and baked potatoes.
  • Favorite local foods in the Olympic Park are blini (buckwheat pancakes served with sour cream) and grilled shashlik (lamb kebabs).
  • Sochi is famous for a spiced meat dumpling called khinkali.
  • Craving  a Big Mac? There’s a huge McDonald’s right in central Sochi and another right on site in the Olympic Village for the athletes.
  • A favorite drink in Sochi is cha-cha, a grape vodka from Georgia that is usually illegally imported.
  • The concession stands at Olympic events sell Russian staples like cabbage coulibiac, meat coulibiac (a stuffed puffed pastry) or salmon and cream cheese bagels.
  • Snowboarder Sean White says he always eats a big steak the night before a competition.
  • After a big competition, some of the favorite “recovery foods” of Olympians are chocolate milk, pickle juice, sweet tart cherries, and beet juice.
  • The daily calorie intake for athletes varies greatly by sport. Downhill skiers need around 4000 calories per day, compared to half pipe athletes who need around 2000 calories.
  • Almonds are always on hand for snacking since they provide quick energy and protein.
  • Greek yogurt is a go-to ingredient in the Olympic diet. It’s perfect for breakfast or a snack, plus it’s a protein-rich substitute for mayo and sour cream.
  • Although sugar and candy are not a big part of Olympic diets, Chef Tran says that a box of oatmeal cookies has gone missing from his kitchen. Good to know our athletes have their cookie priorities straight!

The Best Homemade Valentine Ideas

Mrs. Fields Secrets Homemade Valentines

A homemade valentine is extra special, but doesn’t have to be extra hard. We’ve rounded up the best homemade valentine ideas on the Internet for you to try with your kids. Make them together and create some fun memories along the way!

(Clockwise from top left)
Homemade heart puzzle
 - Pretty paper, glue and scissors are all you need to get started. Try using old wallpaper sample books for interesting patterns and textures.
Handprint valentines - Super simple, but oh-so-cute, these sign language “I Love You” hands traced from your little one say so much.
Robot valentines
 - A little more time intensive, but ridiculously cute, these mini candy bars-turned-robots are a ton of fun.
iPod valentines - If you’ve got a little music lover, this valentine is perfect. Wrapped candy heart boxes with silver kisses for earbuds!
Illustrated valentines - Have your little one draw a heart design, then turn it into a coloring activity with this sweet idea.
Scratch-and-win valentines - This clever idea could be used in so many creative ways! Share a valentine wish or reveal a secret prize.
Homemade crayon hearts - Recycle your old crayon pieces in heart-shaped silicone molds, a perfectly useful valentine.
Paint strip bookmarks - A simple heart-shaped hole punch and some ribbon turns paint swatches into a sweet valentine bookmark.

And of course, we’re still partial to this idea we shared a couple of years ago…

Glow in the Dark Bathwater

Mrs. Fields Secrets Glowing Bathwater
Have you ever heard of glowing bath water? This is such a fun idea that could brighten up bath time for your little ones, or even serve as a romantic surprise for your valentine. This idea is completely safe, non-toxic, non-messy and only requires two simple items to make it happen. Here’s what you’ll need:

Glowing Bath Water
from Growing a Jeweled Rose

1 black light bulb (or more, depending on bathroom lighting)
1 (2 liter) bottle of tonic water

Directions
Replace the bathroom light bulb or lamp with a black bulb (or bring a lamp into the bathroom to use the black bulb). Fill the bathtub with water, adding the bottle of tonic water as you fill. The water will glow a brilliant neon blue!

HINT: Use sponges or brushes to “paint” glowing designs or words on shower walls.

Bake This Not That

Around here, we like to adopt a sensible approach to sweets. Life is short and we think it should be savored. It seems that finding the right balance when it comes to indulgence is a key to happiness. If you’re trying to recalibrate after a particularly indulgent holiday season, here are some choose-this-not-that ideas for your favorite baked goods.

Craving cookies? Bake Cranberry Oatmeal  instead of Triple Chocolate Chip. You’ll save about 35-50 calories per cookie! You can also make half-size cookies by cutting each ball of cookie dough in half. (Remember to monitor baking times, which will be 3-4 minus less for smaller cookies.) A half-size cookie means half the calories. (Our Nibblers bite-sized cookies are a perfect way to indulge with balance.)

Craving brownies? Try our Reduced-Fat Chocolate Brownie recipe. Or, if you’re using a mix, swap applesauce for vegetable oil in your recipe. You’ll save calories and fat, but won’t notice a difference in taste!

Craving cake? Our No Frosting Chocolate Bundt Cake is so rich and moist, it does not need frosting (which saves a ton of calories).

Craving bread? The darker the bread, the better for your body. If you’re not a fan of whole wheat or multigrain, try using half and half (white flour and whole wheat) to ease into the flavor. If you’re used to buying artisan breads, ask the baker to pre-slice it for you extra thin. You’ll save half the calories.

Craving donuts? Our Baked Cake Donuts recipe is still one of our most popular. You’ll get the great flavor of a cake donut, with nearly half the calories.

Craving a sugary breakfast or snack? Try our Healthy Breakfast Cookies, Homemade Granola or these No-Bake Energy Bites instead of a pastry in the morning. They will satisfy your sweet tooth, but keep you from having a sugar crash. These are also great for an afternoon snack.

Cutting back on gluten? Our Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is so good, you won’t believe that gluten didn’t get invited to the party.

Do you have other tips for being sensible with your sweet tooth? Share them in the comments!

Home Remedies for Dry Winter Skin

Harsh, dry winter air can do a number on your skin, but did you know that there are dry skin solutions hiding right in your kitchen cupboards and pantry? Check out these great home remedies:

For faces:

  • Avocado: Mash a ripe avocado and smooth onto a freshly cleaned face. Relax and leave on for 15 minutes.
  • Greek Yogurt: Spread a layer of yogurt onto a freshly cleaned face. Relax and leave on for 15 minutes.
  • Banana and Papaya: Mash the two fruits together to make a paste. Spread onto a freshly cleaned face and rinse after 15 minutes.
  • Honey: Spread warm honey onto a clean face and allow to cool and dry for 10-15 minutes. Wash off with a warm, wet cloth.

For hands:

  • Olive Oil: Work a few drops of olive oil into hands, especially dry knuckles.
  • Coconut Oil: A half teaspoon is plenty to serve as a rich and moisturizing treatment for dry hands or body. (Look for whipped coconut oil too, which is easier to spread.)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Wet a cotton ball with apple cider vinegar and wipe over itchy, cracked skin to soothe irritation. Follow up with an oil moisturizer.

For feet:

  • Baking Soda: Mix a 1/2 cup of baking soda for every gallon of warm water and give feet a 10-15 minute soak.
  • Vegetable Oil: Before bed, rub a modest amount of oil into cracked heels and feet, then cover with thick socks. Repeat for several nights.
  • Sugar: Create an exfoliating sugar scrub by mixing 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of petroleum jelly in your hands. Work the scrub into dry feet (or hands, elbows, or knees), then wash off with a mild soap before moisturizing.

For bodies:

  • Oatmeal: Grind one cup of oatmeal in a food processor until you have a fine powder. Add powder to running bathwater and enjoy a moisturizing soak.
  • Grape Seed Oil: Keep a bottle of grape seed oil in the shower. After showering, blot dry with a towel and immediately apply a liberal amount of oil to retain moisture all day long.
  • Citrus Water: Add moisture to the air in your home by simmering a pot of water on the stove with slices of lemons, oranges, or grapefruits. (It smells great, too!)
  • Avocado Oil: Used as an after-shower or before-bed moisturizer, avocado oil can help keep skin soft and moisturized.
  • Seafood: Cook salmon for dinner, order the tuna sandwich for lunch, or simply take an Omega-3 supplement each morning. The fatty acids are great for skin and hair.
  • Spicy Foods: Herbs and spices like tamarind, turmeric, cumin and coriander help promote the production of collagen in the skin and help you retain moisture.

{Image via Pinterest.}

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