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!

 

Recipe: Melon and Mint Salad

DSCN3621
Today’s recipe is a refreshing summer salad that you’ll want to put on repeat the whole season through. It’s got bright crisp flavors of fresh, sweet melon, mint, tart lime, sweet honey and crunchy toasted almonds. It’s grown up enough to serve at any summer soiree and still accessible enough to please the little ones too. Trust us, this one is a keeper.

Melon and Mint Salad
from Susan Vaughn

1/2 large seedless watermelon, diced
1 cantaloupe, diced
1 lime
1-2 tablespoons honey
1 handful fresh mint roughly chopped
1/2 cup toasted almonds

Directions
In a large serving bowl, toss the diced watermelon and cantaloupe together. Cut the lime in half and squeeze one half over the melon, then cut the other half into wedges for garnish. Drizzle the honey over the salad and give another toss. Sprinkle the fresh mint and almonds on top before serving, and garnish with fresh lime wedges.

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?

Incredible Watermelon Serving Bowls

When is a watermelon more than a delicious summer snack? When it’s also a beautiful serving bowl. Use your best knives and your sharpest creative sense to create some incredible serving bowls and centerpieces this summer.

A hollowed out watermelon half is a simple way to serve refreshing Acqua Fresca. Remember to cut a flat edge on the bottom.

You can also add a spigot to turn your watermelon into a summer keg.

Slightly more sophisticated is this sand pail idea (use coarse brown sugar for the sand) complete with fun nautical-shaped melons from cookie cutters.

Some simple carving skills will transform a melon into a sea turtle riding a wave of fresh berries and melon balls. (HINT: Use your pumpkin carving tools!)

A lunging shark makes quite an impression with triangular, teeth-shaped melon slices and a scattering of gummy fish. Those pumpkin carving skills will come in handy for this one as well.

Something’s fishy with this watermelon bowl, which is why we love it!

Using a simple template as a guide, your serving bowl can also become a graduation party decoration. It’s a little detail that will get a lot of attention!

Another beach themed watermelon. You may have to raid the kid’s toy chest to bring this one to life, but it would be worth it!

If your watermelon is a little short and stout, then it’s perfect to make this teapot filled with melon balls and blueberries. Can you imagine anything more adorable at your tea party?

Of course, if you’re prepared to go all out, you can really transform an everyday melon into a piece of art.

And this carving is almost too beautiful to imagine eating…almost.

Here’s a great video tutorial to get you started on a basic serving bowl, with or without a handle. Try it out for your next party!

Recipe: Breadstick Cones

Mrs. Fields Secrets Breadstick Cones
This recipe is a must try for your next summer party or picnic. These breadstick cones are a beautiful, tasty and portable way to serve your favorite salads. Sprinkle them with poppy or sesame seeds, or leave them plain, then fill them with My Favorite Chicken Salad, egg salad, tuna salad, green salad or one of your favorites. You’ve got an on-the-go meal right at your fingertips.

Breadstick Cones

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups bread flour
8 sugar cones
aluminum foil
nonstick spray
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
poppy seeds (optional)
sesame seeds (optional)

Directions
Begin by wrapping a piece of foil around each sugar cone and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir yeast and brown sugar, then pour warm water on top and allow to sit for about five minutes until foamy on top. With a dough hook, mix in salt, oil, and flour and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 3 minutes. Allow dough to rest for 10-15 minutes. On a floured surface, roll dough out into a large rectangle and allow to rest another 10 minutes. Whisk egg white with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Using a pizza cutter, slice dough into 8 long strips. Spray each cone with nonstick spray, then wrap each strip of dough around the sugar cone, bottom to top, making sure to seal the bottom. Place each wrapped cone on a prepared baking sheet, roughly 4 or 5 to a sheet. Brush each cone with the egg wash, then sprinkle with seeds and allow to rise for 10 more minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake 10-15 minutes, or until rich golden brown. Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes before removing foil cone. Cool bread completely, then serve with your favorite salad.

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

Recipe: Banana Spring Rolls

Mrs. Fields Secrets Banana Spring Rolls
We’ve got the perfect dessert for your next Asian-themed meal. These Banana Spring Rolls are easy to put together ahead of time, keep them in the fridge, and fry them up when you’re ready to wow your crowd. They’re crispy, sweet, and dangerously addictive. We dare you to try just one!

Banana Spring Rolls

48 wonton wrappers
4 large bananas
1 cup Nutella spread
water
peanut or canola oil
caramel sauce (for topping)
chocolate sauce (for topping)

Directions
In a large pot, heat 3-4 inches of oil to 375 degrees. Cut bananas into four even pieces. Overlap two wonton wrappers by an inch or so and dab a bit of water to seal them together. Spread a thin layer of Nutella down the middle and top with a piece of banana. Dab water all along the edges of the wonton wrappers and then roll the banana inside and seal. (Depending on the size of the banana, you may need a third wonton wrapper.) Repeat with remaining wrappers and bananas. Once the oil is hot, drop 2-3 rolls in the hot oil at a time, turning after about 30 seconds, or when golden brown and bubbly. Remove with tongs and drain on paper towels. Serve warm with drizzles of caramel and chocolate sauces.

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!

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