Ice Cream Soda Inspiration

Mrs. Fields Secrets Ice Cream Soda Inspiration
My current summer obsession is an old-fashioned ice cream soda. They’re cool, colorful, and so refreshing on a hot afternoon. Wouldn’t they be perfect at your next dinner party, baby or bridal shower or wedding reception? Try out these mouthwatering recipes or use them as a springboard for your own creative inspiration:

1. Strawberry Ice Cream Soda
2. Coffee Ice Cream Soda
3. Blackberry Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Soda
4. Lemon Ice Cream Soda
5. Blueberry Maple Ice Cream Soda
6. Peach Cocktail Ice Cream Soda
7. Chocolate Ice Cream Soda
8. Classic Coke Floats
9. Pineapple Coconut Sorbet Soda
10. Vanilla Raspberry Italian Soda
11. Orange Creamsicle Soda
12. New York Egg Cream Soda

25 Super Fun Outdoor Water Games

{Image via Pinterest.}

It’s steaming hot outside and everybody is looking for ways to cool down. If you don’t have a pool or a lake nearby to jump into, have no fear.  Here are 25 wet and wacky ways to beat the summer heat:

  1. Water Balloon Baseball: Pitch water balloons to batters. A hit is a burst balloon. Bases can be anything from kiddie pools to buckets of ice water or sprinklers.
  2. Water Balloon Piñata: Hang water balloons from tree branches or your playhouse monkey bars and take turns taking swipes at them.
  3. Noodle Waterfall: Cut holes in a pool noodle and hang it from a clothesline, then run the hose through it to create a waterfall.
  4. Sponge Relay Race: You’ll need two teams, two large sponges, and four buckets. Each team has one bucket full of water, one empty bucket and one sponge. Place buckets 50-100 feet across from each other and teams relay, soaking their sponge with water and wringing it out into the empty bucket. Team with the most water in their previously empty bucket wins!
  5. Water Obstacle Course: Create a wet and watery obstacle course with hoses, sprinklers, buckets, kiddie pools, slip ‘n’ slides, and anything else you can think of.
  6. Sprinkler Tug-o-War: Turn on a sprinkler and place teams on either end of a rope with the sprinkler in the middle. The team to pull the other across the sprinkler wins. (In this case, it pays to lose!)
  7. Water Bottle Waterfall: Have participants choose a number between 1 and 10. An adult with a knife or sharp tool pokes the chosen amount of holes a the water bottle and the players must try to drink as much water as they can. The person who ends up wearing the most water loses. (Or wins.)
  8. Jumping Jack Splash: Two people turn a jump rope while someone jumps in the middle holding two full plastic cups of water. The jumper tries to keep from spilling the water for one full minute. Anything left in the cups at the end of the time can be splashed on the rope holders.
  9. Water Balloon Launch: Two teams use beach towels to launch water balloons to bomb the other team. Start with a balloon in a slack towel with two people on either side. Pulling the towel taught launches the balloon!
  10. Water Limbo: Spray a strong stream of water from the hose to create a limbo bar, then have player see how low they can go.
  11. Musical Sprinklers: Blast some music and dance in the sprinklers. When the music goes off, everyone must freeze. Anybody who moves is out.
  12. Mini Lazy River: Go through the kitchen drawers, junk drawers and toy box to find objects to make a makeshift river, running water through a hose. Test the river’s flow with a ping pong.
  13. Frozen Footsies: Fill a kiddie pool with water and give each participant a large bowl. Dump a large bag of ice cubes into the pool. Players must transfer as many ice cubes to their own bowls as they can using only their feet.
  14. Bullseye Splash: Use sidewalk chalk to draw a large bullseye on the driveway with surrounding rings. Assign points to the various rings, the highest points in the middle of the bullseye. Players toss a wet sponge or water balloon trying to hit the bullseye. Player with the most points wins.
  15. Squirt Gun Tag: Like traditional tag, the “it” person has a squirt gun and tags others with water. The new “it” person takes the squirt gun.
  16. Ice Cube Painting: Color water with food dye and freeze it in ice cube trays, using multiple colors. Take an old sheet outside and let kids paint a mural using the cool ice cubes.
  17. Ice Blocking: Like summer sledding, all you need is a grassy hill and a block of ice. Sit on top and fly down the hill. (Not safe for small kids. Helmets recommended.)
  18. Dribble, Dribble, Drench: The water version of “Duck, Duck, Goose.” Players sit in a circle and the “it” person walks around behind players and dribbles water on the head/back of each player, then “drenches” a select player who then chases them, trying to tag before their place is taken.
  19. Squirt Bottle Wars: Squirt bottles make even better tools than squirt guns with more water and easier control. Outfit players with full bottles of cool water and it’s every man for himself.
  20. Slip ‘n’ Slide: All you need is a large strip of strong plastic and a hose and you’re in business.
  21. Sprinkler Jumping: If you’ve got a trampoline in the backyard, place the sprinkler under and enjoy jumping in the water. It feels like rain.
  22. Kiddie Car Wash: Get out the bikes, wagons, tricycles and have a good, old-fashioned car wash with buckets, hoses, sponges.
  23. Ball Blast: Place various balls on the ground inside a hula hoop. Players must use the hose to try to spray all the balls outside the circle of the hoop.
  24. Ice Prizes: Freeze waterproof toys or coins inside ice cubes or blocks of ice. Give each player an ice cube and see who gets to their prize first.
  25. Water Fight: No rules, no structure, just grab the nearest hose and try to defend yourself!


Fun Ideas With Glow Sticks

Mrs. Fields Secrets Glow Stick Inspiration
Before you dismiss glow sticks as childish, check out these sophisticated ideas for using glow sticks to dress up your next party. Such fun and so unique! (Sources linked where available.)

1. Glow sticks in water balloons in pantyhose hanging from the ceiling make a dramatic display.
2. Glow sticks in the bottom of a beverage container make a festive focal point.
3. Glow sticks in jars of water make great lamps to line a walkway or poolside.
4. Serve cotton candy on a glow stick for a bright night treat.
5. Glow sticks in balloons, floating in a swimming pool are dreamy and fun.
6. Glow sticks in the bottom of the pool make for fun night swimming and a great diving game.
7. Empty a glow stick into bubble mixture for glowing bubbles.
8. Glow sticks hanging from the ceiling make a unique and colorful chandelier.

HINT: The shorter, thicker glow sticks tend to give off the brightest and longest glow.

HINT: Look for non-toxic glow sticks, particularly if you’re going to be breaking them open for the bubble idea.

Do you have great glow stick ideas? Share them in the comments.

Backyard Summer Forts

Summer is the season of escape, whether out of the country, to a sunny beach or even right to your own backyard. Homemade forts can make your summer absolutely magical, and they’re not just for kiddos. Take some inspiration from these tips, pack a picnic and invite your special someone(s) to join you in your own backyard escape.

Mrs. Fields Secrets Backyard Forts

1. How to build a stick fort.
2. How to build a dome kit fort.
3. How to make a colorful hanging hideaway.
4. How to make a clothesline fort.

HINT: Lighting makes a fort especially nice at night. Don’t take open flames into forts; stick to flashlights and LED candles.

HINT: Start a trend and invite friends and neighbors to build forts, then arrange a neighborhood fort tour.

{Top image via Pinterest. Source unknown.}

Recipe: Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

Mrs. Fields Secrets Cupcake Cones
Here’s a quick treat (part trick, actually) to whip up for your Fourth of July celebration. These easy, adorable Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes are too cute for kids to resist and so delicious, you’ll find the adults sneaking as many as they can. I’ve used my favorite Red Velvet Cupcake recipe, but you can use whatever cake recipe you like. (You could even use a boxed mix. I promise not to tell!)

Red Velvet Cupcake Cones

1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar (minus 2 tablespoons)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 oz. red food coloring
1 oz. water (use the empty food coloring bottle to measure)
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vinegar
24 flat-bottomed ice cream cones

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. In a small dish, mix a paste of the cocoa, food coloring, and water. Once it is well combined, add it to the creamed mixture, followed by the salt. Alternate adding the flour and the buttermilk to the mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Add vanilla and mix well.

In a small, separate bowl, mix the soda and vinegar together. Add the soda/vinegar mix to the cake batter and gently fold it into the batter with a spoon or spatula, but do not beat with a mixer. Place ice cream cones in muffin tins and pour batter in about 3/4 full and bake for 18-20  minutes, or until the tops are firm and spring back to shape. Allow to cool completely before frosting.


5 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk
1 cup butter (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
sprinkles (optional)
sour candy cherries (optional)

Mix flour and milk together in a double boiler over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until a thick paste forms. Cool mixture completely (you can use the fridge or freezer to speed it up). Cream butter at high speed until it is light and creamy. Add the sugar and blend until fluffy. Take a generous scoop of the sugar/butter mixture and add it to the cooled flour/milk mixture and blend it well. Add all of the flour/milk mixture to the sugar/butter mixture and beat until fluffy and light. Finally, add vanilla and mix well.

Pipe frosting to look like a soft-serve cone, top with sprinkles and a sour cherry candy.

Enjoy your holiday and be safe!

American History Fun Facts

Hip! Hip! It’s a holiday week! Before you don your red, white, and blue and fire up the grill, brush up on your American History.  Test your knowledge and see how you do. Better yet, print this out and quiz your friends and family at your party!

  • Whose face is featured on a two-dollar bill? (Jefferson)
  • Do you know the four presidents on Mt. Rushmore? (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt)
  • How many stripes on the American flag? (Thirteen)
  • Which was the first state? (Delaware)
  • Who gave the shortest inaugural speech? (Washington, his dentures were hurting.)
  • Which president had two bear cubs for pets on the South Lawn? (Jefferson, they were a gift from Lewis and Clark.)
  • Which president never belonged to a political party? (Washington, and he never lived in the White House either!)
  • Which president served in both World Wars? (Dwight D. Eisenhower)
  • Who was the first president to be born in a hospital? (Jimmy Carter)
  • Who was the only bachelor president? (James Buchanan)
  • Who was the oldest person elected president? (Ronald Reagan)
  • Which president went on to become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court? (William H. Taft)
  • Which is the oldest capital city in the US? (Santa Fe, New Mexico, founded in 1610!)

Did you know?

  • Fourth of July fireworks were first used as a mockery of the tradition of fireworks for British royalty.
  • Though it was always celebrated, the Fourth of July wasn’t an official US holiday until 1941.
  • “The Star-Spangled Banner” is set to the tune of an old English drinking song.
  • Lincoln logs were named after Abraham Lincoln and his childhood log cabin.
  • No president has been an only child.
  • Longtime friends and pen-pals John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826.
  • The national capital was originally Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • President Lincoln kept important notes and papers tucked in his famous top hat.
  • The “largest” city in the US is Juneau, Alaska. The city is larger in size than the entire state of Delaware.
  • Amelia Earhart also designed her own line of clothes that was sold all over the US.
  • Arlington National Cemetary was originally a plantation owned by Gen. Robert E. Lee and his wife, Mary Ann Randolph Custis (a cousin of George Washington).

Do you have any other fun facts? Share them in the comments and have a great holiday!

Homemade Lip Gloss

Mrs. Fields Secrets Homemade Lip Gloss
Got a gaggle of girls coming over for your daughter’s summer sleepover? Sweet fruity lip gloss is today’s easy peasy project you can whip up for yourself or with the kids. It’s the perfect party favor they can make themselves and customize any way they want with endless colors and flavors.

Homemade Lip Gloss

1 cup petroleum jelly
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 packet sugar-free Kool-Aid drink mix powder
food coloring
plastic ziploc bags
plastic bead holders

Combine petroleum jelly, coconut oil, and drink mix powder in a quart-size ziploc bag. Seal bag and microwave for 15-second increments, or until contents are warm and soft and easy to mix. Add small amounts of food coloring at a time, resealing the bag and working it into the mix until you have your desired color. Snip corner of bag and pipe lip gloss into containers and allow to cool and stiffen.

Make and Take Series: Lemon and Chocolate Checkerboard Brownies

Mrs. Fields Secrets Checkerboard Brownies
The Make and Take Series is all about fun foods to take on the go to your summer parties and potlucks. (Try my Greek-style Potato Salad and Spinach Artichoke Dip) Today’s recipe is big flavor and big presentation and so much simpler than it looks. A checkerboard of cake-y lemon and chocolate brownies that are cut into bite-sized pieces and ready to wow. I also love the combination of smooth chocolate with tangy lemon. (Try eating two at once. It’s divine.)

To create the checkerboard, make both recipes and allow to cool entirely before cutting into 1-inch squares and arranging in a checkerboard on your serving tray.

Lemon Brownies

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with butter or non-stick spray. In a large mixing bowl, stir the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the softened butter and mix until you have a thick, combined dough (almost like a sugar cookie dough). In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, lemon juice, and zest together, then add to the flour mixture. Mix for several minutes on medium speed until batter becomes light and fluffy. Transfer batter to the baking dish and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10 minutes before adding glaze. (Recipe below.)

Lemon Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Pour evenly over still-warm brownies, using a spatula to reach all four corners of the pan. Allow brownies to cool to room temperature before cutting and serving.

Chocolate Brownies

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup water, boiling
1/8 cup cocoa
1 cups sugar
1 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanillaDirections
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, stir flour and sugar together. In a small mixing bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg, baking soda and vanilla. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa and stir until smooth and completely combined. Pour in boiling water, stir, and remove from heat. Add chocolate mixture to flour mixture and stir until smooth. Allow to cool for at least 2 minutes before mixing in egg mixture. Pour into a non-greased 9×13 brownie pan and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until center of brownies is porous and fluffy. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before topping with chocolate icing.

Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
1/2 pound powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa and stir until smooth. Pour in the milk and vanilla, stir. Add powdered sugar and stir until there are no lumps. Pour and spread evenly over still-warm brownies.

The Best Neighborhood Night Games

Remember playing night games with the neighborhood kids? It’s one of the great enduring memories of childhood. With summer officially under way this week, it’s time to bring night games back into play. Teach these games to your kids, play as a family, and ask the neighbors to join you!

Kick the Can – You’ll need a group of at least three kids and a can. One player is chosen to be “it,” and the can is placed in an open space. “It” counts to a designated number while the other players hide. Once “it” is finished counting, he or she tries to find and tag the other players. Once players are tagged, they go to “jail,” a designated area usually in sight of the can. Any player who has not been caught can kick the can, and if this is done without the person being caught, the “jailed” players are freed, and the game begins again. If “it” catches every player, the game is over, and “it” wins. Win by kicking the can without being tagged, or finding all players when you are “it.”

Capture the Flag – Divide into two teams and determine territories for the two teams. Streets, driveways, trails or fence lines all make good border markers. Choose two brightly colored flags for each team (a bandana or t-shirt works great). Retreat by team into your territory to hide the flag. The flag should be hung at head height and be visible from 20 yards away on at least one side. Split into attacker and defender groups within your team. Each team assigns some attackers and some defenders. Attackers sneak across the borders to find and capture the opposing team’s flag without being caught. If a team captures an opposing team’s attacker, via tag, that player is in “jail,” a determined area. Teammates can rescue their jailed friends by sneaking into the jail and tagging them “free.” Win the game by sneaking all the way into the opposing team’s camp, capturing their flag, and making it back into your own camp.

Sardines – This game is basically hide-and-seek in reverse. The “it” person hides, while the rest of the players count with eyes closed to 100. After counting, players seek out the hider. Upon finding the “it” person, players hide with him or her, packing in like sardines. The last player to join the sardine can is the next “it.”

Flashlight Tag – A fun variation of regular tag, this game is perfect at night. The “it” person has a flashlight and counts to 50 while other players scatter and hide. “It” runs around trying to find others with the light off, flashing the light on for only a second when they think they’ve found someone. Once a a player is tagged with the light, they become the new “it” and take over the flashlight.

Manhunt – Determine the boundaries of the playing field. You can begin with one hunter or up to three for a large group. Hunters count to 100 while other players scatter and hide. If a player is tagged by a hunter, that player becomes a hunter. Play until all but one player is found. The last player to be tagged is the winner.

Do you have any other night games you loved to play? Share them in the comments section. And remember to review safety rules and measures to keep everybody safe in the dark.

{Image via Tyler Place.}

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