10 Genius Camping Tips

Summer is officially here and the great outdoors is calling. Before you pack up your gear and head for the hills, check out these great tips that will make your camping trip a breeze (and make you look like a genius)!

1. No need to lug around an entire bag of charcoal. Fill an empty paper egg carton with Match Light charcoal for a simple and effective fire starter for the grill.

2. No coffee pot? No problem. Make individual coffee bags out of coffee filters and dental floss. Allow them to steep in boiling water for several minutes, just like tea.

3. Refill empty Tic Tac containers with your favorite spices. It takes up less space and you can store them with your camping equipment year round.

4. Add bundles of sage to your campfire to keep mosquitoes away.

5. For perfect s’mores, use a small block of wood on the outer rim of campfire to rest your cracker and chocolate while you roast the marshmallow.The wood will transfer heat to get the chocolate nice and melted.

6. Campfire Banana Boats are a delicious ooey-gooey alternative to s’mores. Or a good side dish for s’mores. Either way.

7. Freeze drinking water in jugs and use them instead of ice in your cooler. Not only does it save space, it saves your ham sandwiches from getting soggy.

8. Avoid soggy, slippery bars of soap by creating one-time-use strips of soap with a vegetable peeler. HINT: rub dry soap on a mosquito bite to relieve itching.

9. Place a few of unscented dryer sheets on the table (or under a tablecloth) to keep bees away from the food.

10. A first aid kit that fits in your pocket is a must-have for hiking. Use an old prescription bottle and fill it with bandaids, alcohol wipes, antibiotic ointment and some Benadryl.

Do you have a favorite camping tip? Share you ideas with us!

Oh Fudge!

Today is National Fudge Day, the day we all gather to celebrate the rich, chocolaty goodness that is known as fudge. But how will you pay homage to this perfect confection? Here are some favorite fudge recipes to inspire your day:

Instead of your morning coffee, how about morning coffee fudge?

Or swap your sandwich for Mini Mint Fudge Ice Cream Sandwiches.

Think you don’t have time for fudge? Think again. This recipe for Easy Chocolate Fudge comes together in only ten minutes!

And happy hour just got happier with fudgy Guinness Brownies.

Heat things up in the evening with a little hot fudge, because everything is better with Hot Fudge Sauce (except, perhaps, spaghetti).

Or, cool things down with some Homemade Fudge Pops, the perfect treat on a summer evening.

Whatever you do, enjoy your day enjoying fudge!

Colorful Ice Cubes

Mrs. Fields Secrets Flavored Ice Cubes

We’ve got a simple way to add a fun range of flavor and color to your summer beverages. Freezing concentrated cubes of punch or juice will not only cool your summer drinks, but infuse them with bright color and flavor. You can match the colors to your party theme or holiday fare (think red, white and blue), combine them in a beautiful pitcher or in individual glasses. As the cubes melt, the drink gets more flavor and color with each sip!

Rainbow Ice Cubes

3 packets Koolaid, different flavors/colors
1 cup sugar
6 cups water
3 ice cube trays

Directions
Mix contents of one Koolaid packet with 1/3 cup sugar and 2 cups water. Stir thoroughly to ensure that sugar is completely dissolved. Pour into one ice cube tray and freeze until solid. Repeat with remaining Koolaid packets and ice trays. Once frozen, place cubes in a punch bowl, pitcher, or individual glasses with water, wine or clear soda for a beautiful pop of color and flavor.

HINT: Dark, concentrated juices like grape or pomegranate work best for juices. Consider freezing berries inside ice cubes for even more color and texture!

Great Ideas for Tackling Road Trips

If your summer plans include a road trip with the kids, the difference between whines of “Are we there yet?” and happy campers usually comes down to some smart planning ahead. We’ve found some genius ideas to make life on the road easy, so take note and buckle up!

1. Tackle Box Snacks. Forget expensive gas station grub along the way. Get the kids their own inexpensive tackle box and fill the individual compartments with a colorful mix of healthy and fun options.

2. Individual Coloring Kits. Keep colored pencils and paper in a handy kit by reinventing a DVD case. It’s easy to pack and store for any kind of travel.

3. Canvas Shoe Bag Organizers. Keep the car tidy and everything in reach with this clever idea. A simple canvas shoe organizer can be tied around the seat  and filled with toys, books, snacks and supplies.

4. Stop for Scenic Outlooks. A great way to ensure fabulous photos from your trip and plenty of rest for the travelers is to commit to stop for scenic outlooks. There is often ample space to park, bathroom facilities, and the kids will enjoy watching for the random signs.

5. A Map for Everyone. One of the best ways to avoid, “Are we there yet?” is to equip the kids with their own map or atlas. They can follow along, look for upcoming towns, and they may even be able to help you avoid getting lost.

Do you have a favorite road trip tip? Share your ideas in the comments!

 

Pancakes On Sticks & Other Fun Breakfast Ideas

You’ve heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but did you know that it can be the most fun? We’ve gathered some incredible ideas to serve at your next summertime sleepover, brunch with friends, or even Father’s Day breakfast. Follow the links for full instructions or use them to inspire your own creativity.

Like a lollipop but better, these pancakes on a stick are too cute and super easy for serving.

Cheesy baked eggs inside potato skins is such a fun new way to serve individual eggs. Serve with your favorite hot sauce or ketchup.

Intermixing donut holes and fresh berries or fruit on a skewer ensures a balanced and beautiful breakfast. Plus, it’s so pretty!

Create lacy, lovely pancakes by using a simple squeeze bottle for your batter. Stack them up for a funnel-cake-like taste of sweet crunch.

Thin slices of fresh apple dipped in pancake batter create these delicious Apple Pancake Rings.

Betcha didn’t know you can make bacon cute. It’s actually quite easy with these bacon hearts. (Plus, you get a good mix of soft and crispy edges in each strip!)

And, of course, a little food coloring goes a long way. Create bright, colorful waffles in any color scheme. (We’re loving this red, white and blue!)

Do you have a favorite fun breakfast idea?

Fun Ideas to Commemorate the School Year

With the school year wrapping up, we’ve gathered some great ideas to help commemorate the year for teachers, students, and parents too. (Let’s face it, it’s a long year for all of us!)

Get all your friends to sign a t-shirt that you can wear and remember for years.

Have children’s artwork turned into an artistic screen print.

Use sidewalk chalk to write a “Welcome to Summer” message on the road or driveway.

Take a Last Day of School photo holding your First Day of School Photo for a fun comparison.

Decorate the car with washable paints.

After a year of learning and development, have the class make future predictions about their professions as a gift to the teacher.

Do you have a fun way to commemorate the year? Share your ideas in the comments section!

Graduation Gift Idea: On Your Own Survival Kit

It’s that time of year when graduation caps begin flying in the air and young adults head off on their own for the first time, either to college or the great wide world. If you’re looking for a great graduation gift idea, we’ve got it: an “On Your Own Survival Kit” complete with all the little things you find yourself needing when suddenly you’re the one in charge. Use our list as a shopping guide or as inspiration for your own gift. But whatever you do, don’t forget the cookies!

The On Your Own Survival Kit

  • Small sewing kit with buttons, needles, thread
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Rainy day funds gift card
  • Cookbook
  • Kitchen knife set
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Cough drops
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Air freshener
  • Basic medications like pain, allergy, antacid
  • Address book with family and friends mailing addresses
  • Duct tape
  • WD-40
  • Flashlight
  • Assortment of batteries
  • Safety pins
  • USB thumb drive
  • Laundry soap
  • Tooth floss
  • Toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Cell phone battery backup
  • Basic screwdriver set
  • Basic wrench set
  • Krazy glue
  • Scissors
  • GPS
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Road atlas
  • Reusable shopping bags
  • Ziploc bags
  • Clorox wipes
  • Multivitamins
  • Wall calendar
  • Board game
  • Emergency candles
  • Lint roller
  • Kleenex
  • Laundry basket
  • Sharpie markers
  • Box of ramen noodles
  • Case of toilet paper
  • Plunger
  • Travel blanket
  • Plenty of Mrs. Fields cookies

101 Questions to Ask A Relative

As you get together with family and friends for Memorial Day to celebrate the legacy of loved ones lost, take a few moments to interview your living loved ones. We’ve got a list of 101 questions to get you started. Use them all or choose some as a springboard for your own questions. The past will come alive and your loved one’s legacy will have voice in the here and now. Set up a camera or audio recorder and document it, or email questions to those far away.

  1. When were you born?
  2. Where did you grow up?
  3. Do you remember your first house?
  4. Who were your childhood friends?
  5. What was your favorite toy?
  6. How did you celebrate holidays as a child?
  7. Where were your childhood vacations?
  8. Did religion play a role in your childhood?
  9. Do you remember the first day of school? Your first teacher?
  10. What was your favorite way to fill an afternoon?
  11. What was your mother like?
  12. What was your father like?
  13. What were your siblings like?
  14. Did you have any pets?
  15. Did you like were you lived?
  16. What was your favorite childhood food?
  17. Where did you shop for groceries and supplies?
  18. Did you have a favorite song or singer?
  19. What was your favorite subject in school?
  20. Did you get good grades?
  21. Did you ever cut class?
  22. What was the best thing about your childhood?
  23. What was the worst thing about your childhood?
  24. What is a favorite memory of your mom?
  25. What is a favorite memory of your dad?
  26. Did you spend much time with your grandparents? What were they like?
  27. Who taught you to drive?
  28. What was the first car you drove?
  29. What was your first job? Were you good at it?
  30. Do you remember your first paycheck?
  31. What were you most excited about as a teenager?
  32. Where did you hang out with your friends?
  33. What did you think you’d grow up to be?
  34. Who influenced you most as a teenager?
  35. When was the first time you felt independent?
  36. Who was your first kiss?
  37. Who was your first boyfriend or girlfriend?
  38. What was your high school prom like?
  39. What were summers like where you grew up?
  40. What were winters like where you grew up?
  41. Did you play any sports or belong to any clubs?
  42. Have you ever been in a fist fight?
  43. Describe a time when you felt jealous.
  44. Describe a time when you felt successful.
  45. Who was the first president you really remember?
  46. Did you ever have to worry about war?
  47. Did you go to college? Where?
  48. How did college influence or change you?
  49. Did you have a favorite professor or class?
  50. What was your first “real” job after high school or college?
  51. What did you wear to your first “real” job?
  52. Did you like your boss?
  53. What excited you most about adulthood?
  54. What worried you most about adulthood?
  55. What was a typical date like when you were young?
  56. Where have you traveled?
  57. How many times have you been engaged?
  58. How many times have you been married?
  59. How did you know that was the person you wanted to marry?
  60. Where did you get married?
  61. Who was at your wedding?
  62. What do you remember about your wedding day?
  63. Where did you go on your honeymoon?
  64. In what ways was marriage what you thought it would be?
  65. In what ways was marriage different from what you expected?
  66. How did you choose your career?
  67. When was your first child born?
  68. What kind of parent were you when your child/children were young?
  69. What did you enjoy about early parenthood?
  70. How did becoming a parent change you?
  71. How much did a gallon of milk cost?
  72. How much did a gallon of gasoline cost?
  73. What were your ambitions?
  74. If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
  75. What is your best personality trait?
  76. What is your worst personality trait?
  77. Describe your first home where you paid the rent/mortgage.
  78. If you won $1000, what would you have done with it?
  79. Have you had any health scares?
  80. What age did you look and feel your best?
  81. How were your thirties different from your twenties?
  82. How were your fifties different from your forties?
  83. How were your seventies different from your sixties?
  84. How old do you feel?
  85. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in life?
  86. What do you think is better about the world today?
  87. What technological advances were most significant in your lifetime?
  88. Do you remember the first computer you saw? Used? Owned?
  89. How are you similar and different from your parents?
  90. How are you similar and different from your child(ren)?
  91. If you could go back in time to any date in your life, what would it be?
  92. If you could spend an afternoon with someone from your past, who would it be?
  93. Have you traveled to any foreign countries?
  94. Describe your perfect meal.
  95. Where do you hope to be in five years?
  96. What do you hope your legacy will be?
  97. If you could give a piece of advice to the next generation, what would it be?
  98. What’s the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
  99. What is your greatest hope?
  100. What is your greatest fear?
  101. If you could describe your life in one word, what would it be?

{Image via curiositiesbydickens.com}

How to Cut a Mango

Mrs. Fields Secrets Mango
Whether you want to dice one up for a fruity salsa or to make a homemade sorbet, cutting a mango can be sticky business. Without the right technique, you’ll have mushy, misshapen pieces and handfuls of frustration. This simple method will have you slicing and dicing perfectly cut mangos in minutes. Give it a try!

Mrs. Fields Secrets Mango

Start with a ripe mango, soft to the squeeze, a cutting board, a large knife and a paring knife.

Mrs. Fields Secrets Mango

Stand the mango stem side up, and using the large knife and making the incision about a quarter inch from the stem, slice off one side of the mango. HINT: The pit is oblong and flat. If your cut runs into the pit, start a new cut another centimeter away from the stem.

Mrs. Fields Secrets Mango

Repeat on the other side.

Mrs. Fields Secrets Mango

Use the paring knife to cut the flesh from the two sides of the pit.

Mrs. Fields Secrets Mango

Use the paring knife to score each half of the mango, and each of the side slices, cutting to the rind but not through it. (If you want long slices, cut only one direction.)

Mrs. Fields Secrets Mango

Invert the rind and all the perfectly shaped cubes will pop out. Use the paring knife to slice them away from the rind.

Mrs. Fields Secrets Mango

Voila! Perfectly cut mango!

How to: Preserve Fresh Herbs in Olive Oil

Mrs. Fields Secrets Preserved Herbs
We’ve got a great tip to keep those fresh herbs from your garden or your crisper drawer from wilting and browning before you get a chance to use them. You can preserve them in olive oil for up to three months in your fridge, enjoying the same freshly-picked flavor. This works particularly well with basil and parsley, but try it out with chives, thyme, and your other favorite herbs.

Preserved Herbs

2 bunches of fresh basil or parsley
3-4 teaspoons of coarse salt
olive oil
small jar

Directions
Thoroughly wash herbs and allow to completely dry. Remove the stems and place the leaves in a food processor then sprinkle with the coarse salt. (The salt will help preserve the shiny green color as well as keep the leaves from sticking together.) Use the “pulse” function to chop the herbs into a fine mince. Drizzle olive oil all along the sides and bottom of a mixing bowl and transfer the herbs to it. Whisk the herbs into the olive oil and drizzle more oil in to give the herbs a chance to separate and become coated with oil. Pour the mixture into a small jar, then top with another thin layer of olive oil. Place the lid on top and store in the fridge for up to three months. Use a scoop or two at a time to add fresh flavor to sauce, or as a delicious dip for bread.

HINT: Pair this with a fresh loaf of bread and you’ve got a thoughtful gift!

 

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