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.

25 Genius Uses for Your Kitchen Appliances

Use your slow cooker to bake fresh bread.

You may think you know your kitchen appliances, but you might not know all the amazing things they can do if you just think outside the box. Or the toaster, as the case may be. Check out these ideas and try them yourself!

  1. Your dishwasher is an ideal place to clean and sanitize baby’s toys and teething rings with no harsh chemical residue. A great idea, especially during cold and flu season.
  2. Your steamy dishwasher is also a great place to cook seafood! Wrap fresh fish tightly in aluminum foil with a bit of oil, spices and fresh lemon, then run through a short cycle (no soap!) and you’ll have fresh steamed fish.
  3. Use a pizza cutter to quickly chop fresh herbs. Simply bunch the herbs together and roll the cutter back and forth over them to get a fine chop.
  4. Your coffee grinder is perfect for grinding fresh spices like peppercorns, anise or cumin for big flavor.
  5. Grind rice in a coffee grinder to make fresh, quick rice flour for tempura recipes.
  6. Make a quick garlic paste by using a micro planer.
  7. Need to quickly shred meat? Place your meat into the bowl of your stand mixer with the regular paddle and turn it on. You’ll have evenly shredded meat in about 30 seconds!
  8. An immersion blender or a french press makes great whipped cream without a splattered mess or a tired arm.
  9. Use the hot plate on your coffee machine to toast a bagel or heat a muffin.
  10. Flip your toaster on its side and make quick grilled cheese sandwiches by placing a slice of bread with cheese on top into the slats and allow the toaster to broil the cheese. (HINT: Set it on the highest setting, then attend closely and pull the bread out when cheese is at desired consistency. You don’t want the bread launched out!)
  11. Your food processor can make homemade ice cream in minutes flat. Freeze your ice cream mix in ice cube trays, then pop into the food processor to get a quick, creamy blend.
  12. Your food processor is also an ideal place to make pizza dough, even better than your stand mixer or your hands. You’ll have better, more elastic dough in a shorter amount of time using the food processor.
  13. Preserve fresh herbs by chopping them and putting them in ice cube trays. Fill the trays with olive oil and freeze. Transfer the cubes to a freezer bag and use fresh herbs for your soups and sautés whenever you need!
  14. Use your pepper grinder to make fun, fresh flavors for different dishes. For example, fill it with your favorite cookies to create a fun topping for ice cream or cakes.
  15. Your turkey baster can be used all year long for your pancake batter. It’s less messy than your cup measurer and (bonus!) you can create fun shapes, almost like its a pen.
  16. Use your waffle iron to create crispy hash browns.
  17. Pour brownie or cake batter into your waffle iron for a quick dessert.
  18. Your bundt pan is a perfect roasting dish for your chicken and vegetables. Place the chicken’s cavity over the center ring, then fill the pan with your carrots and potatoes and onions. The bird will cook quickly and evenly and those savory juices will drip into the veggies!
  19. Your microwave is the perfect place to produce a poached egg for your eggs benedict. Crack the egg into a microwave save bowl, then add about 1/2 cup water and a 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar. Place a saucer over the bowl and microwave on high for one minute.
  20. Microwave lemons and limes for 10-15 seconds (depending on size) before juicing. The heat will help release juices.
  21. Use your slow cooker as a towel warmer for your Girl’s Spa Night.
  22. A slow cooker can also bake a fresh loaf of bread while you’re at work.
  23. Use your freezer to help restore stretched out clothing. Place stretched out sweaters or jeans in a plastic bag and freeze overnight. The cold air can help to tighten the fibers and restore shape.
  24. Use your hard-boiled egg slicer to cut strawberries, butter, and mozzarella cheese.
  25. The hot water from your Keurig machine is perfect for cooking a cup of noodles.

How to Clean Your Outdoor Garbage Cans

After a long hot summer, outdoor garbage cans have spent a lot of time roasting and the smell can knock you out (but not in a good way). We’ve got a great project to clean and refresh those bins while the weather is still pleasant. Try it out and thank yourself every time you breathe freely around your cans.

  • Reserve time on or immediately after garbage collection day, so that you start with an empty can.
  • Technically, one person can perform the job, but it’s much easier with a partner.
  • You’ll need rubber gloves, a non-toxic disinfectant (we recommend Simple Green), a long handled broom, a flashlight, a garden hose with a jet attachment, and a sunny, safe spot like a patch of grass or a driveway to perform the task.
  • A power washer is not necessary, but extremely effective. If you use one, remember to wear safety goggles and be careful to avoid spraying any skin or paint.
  • Turn the can on its side with the lid open.
  • Use the flashlight to inspect the inside of the can and identify any areas that have stuck-on debris. Depending on the size, depth and color of your can, it can be hard to miss problem areas.
  • While wearing your rubber gloves, use the broom to shake loose any debris.
  • Use the jet hose attachment or power washer to spray into the can for an initial rinse. Hold the water on any problem areas for 20 seconds to give them a soak and loosen debris.
  • After rinsing, tip the can upside down to drain.
  • Turn the can upright and pour a thin drizzle of disinfectant all along the edge of the can, allowing it to dribble down and coat all the sides. Use your flashlight to determine if you need more. Once the sides are coated, pour a thin layer over the bottom of the can. Allow the disinfectant to sit for 15 minutes.
  • Tip the can on its side and use the broom to scrub the inside and bottom of the can. This should get sudsy and break down any debris.
  • Use the hose again to give everything a thorough rinse. Tip the can upside down to drain as much moisture as possible.
  • Tip the can upright and shine the flashlight to be sure you haven’t missed anything.
  • Spray and scrub any debris off the outside of the can and lid.
  • If clean, allow to air out (preferably in the sunshine) for an hour or two. The sunshine will help disinfect.
  • Finally, use the hose to thoroughly rinse your broom. Use disinfectant if necessary.
  • Enjoy a fresh, clean garbage can for months to come!

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Personalized Back-to-School Gear

BTS pic

It’s not only fun to personalize your school supplies, it’s practical! If your supplies are easy to recognize, they are harder to lose. Use some simple craft supplies you might already have and a little inspiration to make your school supplies look great all year through.

1. Washi tape wrapped in a pattern around your pencils, pens, and glue bottles is a fun, easy way to make supplies easy to identify and hard to misplace.
2. A personalized tote for teacher or student makes a great gift, keepsake, and useful tool.
3. Vinyl lettering for binders and folders helps students stay organized and looking great.
4. Use Modge Podge on backpacks, binders, even pencils to coordinate a fabulous look including monogrammed backpacks and super stylish notebooks and pencils.

Happy back to school!

Back to School Buying Tips

Getting the kids back to school doesn’t have to break the bank. A little bit of homework ahead of time can end up in big savings, which we think is worth an A+. Follow these tips and move to the head of the class:

  • Take inventory before shopping. Chances are, the backpack you put in the corner last June has plenty of items that can be re-used in September. And those jeans you put away in May probably still fit. Make a list of everything you need, then do an inventory of what you already have.
  • Never buy anything at full price. August is rich with summer clearance racks and back-to-school sales. Chances are, you’ll be able to find just about everything you need on sale.
  • Always sign up for rewards programs. Extra savings and coupons will come your way to remain loyal. You don’t have to be loyal, but why miss out on extra savings to entice you?
  • Use your smartphone for smart savings. Download apps like Favado to compare in-store prices. That’s less running around and more savings.
  • Ask for a student discount. Many retailers offer student discounts, especially during back-to-school time, but they rarely advertise it. Be sure to ask at checkout if there is a discount for students or educators.
  • Save receipts for price adjustments. If something you bought last week is discounted this week, many retailers will offer you a refund of the price difference, but only if you have a receipt.
  • Always consider used. Sites like Craigslist and ebay, as well as consignment stores, re-sale stores and thrift stores have incredible prices. You’ll often find better quality items than discount stores with lower prices too.

Do you have a favorite back-to-school shopping tip? Share your ideas in the comments!

{Image via Getty.}

Campfire Cones

If a campfire is in your weekend plans, then so should this delicious dessert. A simple sugar cone, loaded with flavors and textures that melt and mull together to make an ooey gooey treat to share in the glow of your cozy fire. What could be better on a summer of fall evening with friends? Easy to make at the campground, in the backyard, and even on the grill. Here’s what you need to get started:

Campfire Cones
inspired by Chef Jessica Bright

aluminum foil
sharpie marker
sugar cones
mini marshmallows
mini chocolate chips
salted pretzels
fresh berries
caramel
peanut butter
chopped candy bars
bananas
pineapple chunks
maraschino cherries
chopped cookies
ice cream (optional)

Directions
Let each person fill his or her cone with desired fillings. It’s a good idea to have at least 5 or 6 mini marshmallows in the mix to melt everything together. Once full, wrap the cone completely in foil and write the person’s name on the foil. Place wrapped cone in the outer perimeter of a campfire for about 3-5 minutes, or until marshmallows are completely melted. (These also work great on a hot grill. Cook for about 3 minutes!) Serve immediately as is or with a giant scoop of hard ice cream.

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10 Smart New Uses for Balloons

Mrs. Fields Secrets Balloons 1 Mrs. Fields Secrets Balloons 2 Balloons were once relegated to birthday parties and prom backdrops, but these inexpensive and colorful items can be transformed into so much more. Check out these 10 genius ideas!

1. Create delicate, tissue paper lanterns from balloon forms.
2. Make a colorful modern vase for flowers.
3. Add dirt, water, seeds and even a tiny toy or two and create a fun, disposable terrarium.
4. Make homemade drums and rice shakers for an inexpensive band.
5. Instead of a piñata, hang a collection of filled water balloons for a fun party finale.
6. Make your own squish-able  stress balls.
7. Make your own bouncy balls from balloons.
8. Substitute a baseball for a water balloon to cool off on a hot summer day.
9. Turn a balloon into creative gift wrap for cash gifts.
10. Add bright colors to clear jars and glasses with balloons.

Tips and Tools for Capturing Summer

In the blink of an eye, summer is more than halfway over and the only way to make it last forever is to preserve your memories to savor later. A smartphone in your hand is the only tool you need to get started. We’ve gathered tips and tools for you to capture all the special moments of summer and pair them with incredibly easy technology to make them last.

First, the tips:

  • We’re good at snapping photos at family reunions and on vacation, but what about all the special days in between? Take snapshots of your garden, your house in the summer, your favorite park, your regular spot at the pool. Think about all the things you love about summer and take a quick snapshot to document them.
  • Give your kids the camera for the day. You’ll be amazed at what they choose to include, and you’ll get a surprising new perspective on your life from their point of view.
  • Use the video function on your phone to capture small moments. Movement, voices and sound enhance the memories you preserve.
  • Get in front of the camera. Parents (moms especially) tend to take all the photos but are rarely seen in them. Think about it, you don’t want to be a phantom figure in your family’s history, so regularly hand the camera to someone else and smile for the birdie!

Now, the tools:

  • Magisto is a fantastic, free app that accesses your photos and produces short video collages using your own photos, video and music. You can tweak them in a variety of ways, but the app itself does an incredible job of drafting creative videos based on different dates and events in your photo stream. Videos can be easily shared with friends and family on social media.
  • Stellar is another fun, new app that allows you to create micro stories using your own photos and text. The editing tools are simple to use and you can add video as well. It’s a great way to document moments big and small.
  • Chatbooks is an easy, affordable way to transfer your documented Instagram photos into beautiful printed books for–get this–only $6. For the price of a combo meal, you can have a high-quality memento of your favorite summer events.

Now get out there and capture some summer!

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25 Genius Travel Tips

 

Summer is full of long vacations and quick weekend trips, so we’ve gathered 25 genius trips to make your journeys sweet!

  1. When packing, roll your clothes to save space and avoid wrinkles. For clothes that have to be folded, use a sheet of tissue paper to avoid wrinkles.
  2. Pack a variety of snacks for the kids in a tackle box.
  3. Carry wet wipes on the plane and wipe down tray tables, arm rests, and anything your hands will touch during a flight.
  4. Use a sunglasses case to store chargers and cables.
  5. A dryer sheet at the bottom of your suitcase or duffle bag keeps clothes smelling fresh for weeks.
  6. Use your cell phone to take a clear snapshot of all your tickets, passports and other important documents.
  7. Wrap shoes in a hotel shower cap to keep dirty soles off your clothes.
  8. Stuff shoes with socks, belts, or scarves to utilize more space.
  9. For road trips, hang a shoe organizer on the back of the seat to have kids’ activities and items organized and within hands’ reach.
  10. Tuesday afternoons are statistically the best time to buy airfare for less.
  11. Marking your luggage with a “Fragile” tag usually gets it preferential treatment, like first in line at baggage claim.
  12. When traveling to a foreign country, use an ATM to withdraw cash. You will get the best exchange rate and avoid markup fees by banks.
  13. On your last day in a foreign country, gather all your cash and loose change and give it to a homeless person or someone in need.
  14. Use contact lens cases to store small amounts of cosmetics and lotions to save space.
  15. A rigorous workout the day before international travel will help you fight jet lag.
  16. On road trips, pull over for scenic photos and outlooks. It’s a great way to break up the drive and you’ll see amazing sights you’d otherwise miss, all for five minutes of your time.
  17. Tie a colored ribbon around the handle of your luggage for easy identification at baggage claim.
  18. Always keep a bottle of water and a protein-based snack in your purse or bag.
  19. Keep a stash of essentials (underwear, toiletries, documents) in your carryon, just in case your luggage gets lost.
  20. If you miss a flight or connection, don’t stand in line at the counter, use your cell phone and call the airline directly.
  21. For car rentals, hotels and any other type of reservation, always ask the booking agent, “Is this is the best rate you can give me?” They are obligated to answer honestly.
  22. Always sign up for frequent flyer and customer loyalty programs. The perks are plenty and add up quickly.
  23. The water on airplanes is not regulated. Order drinks without ice and always use hand sanitizer after washing your hands in the lavatory.
  24. Purchase park, museum, and tour tickets online and in advance. You may pay a dollar or two extra, but it will save you precious time standing in lines.
  25. Ask local people where to eat.

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