Dec 2, 2010

Windex To Gum

The other day I was fortunate enough to get up from my couch to find a wad of gum smushed to my sweatpants. Seriously, I thought my kids were so great with gum! Those little rascals not only had it all over me but it was all over our leather couch. After trying to freeze it off and pick at it to no avail I found the golden ticket on Google. Someone suggested using Windex to get gum out of clothes and off couches. It was like a little miracle as I sprayed Windex and the gum scraped loose with the help of my fingernail. It worked on our leather couches and on my clothes without discoloring them.

When stuck in a sticky situation, I give Windex to Gum the Lemon Tree approval!

Nov 9, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Pomegranate Season

I have always enjoyed pomegranates, but remember as a youth trying to pick out all of those fruit bits while staining my fingers and tiring of the work. As an adult I have walked past the pomegranates every year remembering the painstaking efforts of eating the darn things and avoided buying the fruits for that very reason.

And then, I saw it! I don't remember where, and perhaps you already know the secret, but this year I am back to buying the miracle (as some say) fruit! I was really excited to introduce pomegranates to the kids and 2 out of 4 gave it a thumbs up.

Here's the trick I saw and stashed in my brain:

Slice your pomegranate in half. Have a bowl of water at the ready. Using a large spoon, spoon out your fruit, white pulp and all. Once the fruit is out of its skin use your fingers to loosen the fruit from the pulp. The white pulp floats while the fruit sinks to the bottom. After separating the two, you can easily remove the white flesh with a slotted spoon and strain the fruit from the water! Yay! I love this method, and while you still have to work a little, this is sooooo do-able and takes only a few minutes. 
Enjoy pomegranate season friends!

Nov 4, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Mixing it in.

I've tried to post this a couple of times, but blogger keeps freezing on me and I lose my work. Ugh! I'm trying again...

(If you don't like the look of raw ground beef avoid the picture below!)

I was given a recipe for blue cheese bacon burgers several years ago and really enjoyed the taste of the blue cheese and bacon mixed into the burger. I have since tried mixing ingredients in my meat and have found I LOVE this way of cooking burgers. I thought I'd share with you a few of the things I have learned over time.
  • raw veggies stay pretty crunchy after the burger is still cooked. Best to saute your veggies first. Ones I like are sauteed mushrooms, onions, and peppers.
  • Cheese is divine mixed in a burger. Cheddar and bacon--yum!
  • absolutely cook your bacon before mixing it in your meat.
  • Raw jalapenos are a little to crunchy for my liking, but I have since discovered jarred jalapenos and they are perfect mixed in the meat!
Try out different mix ins next time you make burgers. The kids love picking their mix-ins and we have much less burger mess with fewer toppings falling out of our buns.

p.s. We still like our pickles and lettuce on top of the burger :)

This ground beef has jalapenos and steak seasoning mixed in before grilling.

Oct 26, 2010

An Uninspired Respite

Me, in my blogging spot

To all the Lemon Tree huggers out there...I love you! Thanks for visiting and enjoying this blog. I have had a blast creating and posting to this fun project of mine.

However, lately I am, to say the least, a bit uninspired. Please forgive me. I personally blame it on the hormones that are so out of whack in this pregnancy and that have my brain in a constant fog.
I don't think it's fair to you or to this blog to just post randomness for the sake of a post that isn't really original or inspired. And I'm not finding the time right now to search the blogger world for the cool ideas that are already out there. I want each post to mean something to me and you.

This is not the end of the Lemon Tree. I know Linda's Lips still has plenty to share! I just want to be honest and let you all know that posts won't be all that often for a little while. Unless, of course, you all want to send in more ideas...which is the reason I created this hear from you.

Thanks again for all of your support and don't be strangers for heaven's sake!

Oct 22, 2010

Guest Post: Fun Halloween Dinner!

My sister in law, Jenn, made the cutest Halloween dinner for her kids! I love this idea and I am excited to make it for my girls. She carved the bell peppers like pumpkins and then filled them with fun and cute!

Kierstin, Utah

Oct 20, 2010

The Tank Half Full

This wise piece of advice is one I learned from my father. He always urged me to keep my car's gas tank half full at all times. I've tried. I too sometimes push the limit and ride until I'm gliding on hope with the gauge under the "E". Hey, nobody's perfect. As of late I have made a better effort to fill my car whenever I see it is half full. This way I won't be left wanting if an emergency occurs, not to mention I feel like I'm spending less on gas because I never feel the pricey sting of filling up the entire tank in one stop.

It's something worth considering, especially if you are one who is often caught off guard when you look down to see the "E" light blaring at you and find yourself praying your car will make it to the nearest station.

Oct 18, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Baking Soda Exfoliator

I don't know about you, but this time of year I find my skin beginning to flake and get really dry. One of my favorite (and really inexpensive) ways to exfoliate my skin is by using baking soda.

Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Rub in a gentle circular motion to exfoliate the skin. Rinse clean. This is gentle enough for daily use, and doesn't strip away your skins natural oils.

Oct 15, 2010

Slice of Oprah: Produce Cleaner

You know that foggy film left from pesticides and whatnot on most store-bought fruits and veges? This easily made spray will get rid of it and ensure they are squeaky clean:

Sophie Uliano's Veggie Cleaner Spray
1 cup water
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 Tbsp baking soda
20 drops grapefruit seed extract (at any local health food store)

Just spray it on your produce, wait 5-10 minutes, wash, and no more pesticides.

CLICK HERE to see the actual information on Oprah's website.

Oct 11, 2010

Halloween Mummy Dogs

It has become a tradition for our family to make hot dog mummies on Halloween as our trick-or-treat night dinner. They are easy, yummy, and fun. What you need is:

Pillsbury crescent dough

Hot dogs

Unroll the crescent dough, and gently push all the seams together. Then cut it lengthwise into strips. Cut your hot dogs to your desired size. Wrap the dough strips around your hot dogs and place on a greased cookie sheet. Cook for the time stated on the crescent roll package, until they are golden brown and enjoy.

What are some of your fun Halloween traditions?

CLICK HERE to submit your family tradition to the Lemon Tree.

Oct 9, 2010

Plastic Bags In A Box

This little tip came from Linda's Lips to me, literally. She recently discovered and shared with me that you can put all of your plastic grocery bags into an empty kleenex box to keep them neat and tidy. My bags were frightfully everywhere in the bottom of my pantry so I was anxious to put this idea into action. LOVE IT. It's so much neater and makes so much sense.

Oct 6, 2010

Slice of Oprah: "I Am Special"

Oprah has had a couple of recent episodes on the new documentary Waiting for Superman. It was created in the hopes that we as communities will demand, support, and help create better schools. Very eye opening to me. One of the teachers in the documentary was being interviewed on Oprah and he talked about how he has his kids look at each other and say "I am special" so that they begin to really believe it and therefore believe they can achieve anything.

My daughter, Kaela, asked me the other day in the car if I liked how I looked when I was a kid. It took me off guard and in talking to her I discovered that she is already starting to become self-conscious of the way she looks. She thinks everyone else at school has such beautifully shaped faces and that hers is just, as she said, "round and boring". What!? Does this already happen at age 6? Crazy. So, when the teacher on Oprah said he makes his kids say they're special, I knew this was something that would bless my little Kaela.

Now as I'm doing her hair before school, I have her say "I am special" to herself in the mirror. Her face immediately brightens and she can't help but smile a little each time she says it. I'm hoping that the more she says it to herself, the sooner she will truly believe it.

Oct 4, 2010

Guest Post: Easy Freezer Cookie Dough

I usually make a double batch of cookies and don't want to cook them all since they'll easily disappear from the counter and easily reappear as extra inches on my body. I really enjoy having dough on hand to throw in the oven for a quick after school surprise when the kids come home, an after dinner sweet, or treat for a friend.

Once you've made your preferred amount, roll the rest of the dough in balls and freeze on a cookie sheet. You can then put the frozen balls in a zip lock for easy use when the next craving strikes.

Stephanie, Arkansas

Oct 1, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Microwave madness

I don't know what it is lately, but I have been noticing the inside of people's microwaves.

Ewww! Ugh! and seriously, Gross!

Seriously friends, this is one of the easiest fixes in the kitchen. Grab a clean dishrag, get it wet with cool water and wring it out. Pop that baby into your microwave on high for 30 seconds. When the timer beeps, grab the steamy dishrag and wipe the inside of your microwave oven clean. It's that easy. Unless, perhaps you have serious layers of crud. Then you may have to try it twice. No excuses now!

Keep the microwave clean friends. That's all I have to say today.

Sep 29, 2010

Feature: "Two Pillows In One Pillow Case...Amazing!" -Alli

Our bed is filled with a number of those down pillows that have virtually lost their umpf. A typical night at the Wards consist of me trying to wad them all together to form one pillow. Anyone else do that? Well today the most brilliant thing happened. We discovered putting two pillows in one pillow case! OH MY GOSH... Can you believe that has never crossed my mind before? 30 years I've been "settling" for a less than stellar pillow situation.. NOT ANY MORE! WHOOH. Those in the same boat... try it! It is amazing! =)

CLICK HERE to see Alli's full post entitled "The small things in life" on her blog Diapers-N-Heels.

Sep 27, 2010

Slice of Oprah: Grilled Cheese On Another Level

A while back Gale, Oprah's BFF, did a search across America to find the most mouth-watering sandwich. I feel a secret kinship with Gale because she loves food as much as I do, but I think she may have one up on me when it comes to trying anything and everything. One of the sandwiches she found on her search was a gourmet twist on a classic grilled cheese. It sounded so enticing that I went ahead and tried to make my own the week after I saw it and DANG is it delicious! So I thought I would share. What you need is:

Havarti Cheese Sliced

Tomatoes Sliced
Basil, either fresh or dried
2 Slices of Hearty bread, I prefer sourdough
Heat up your pan and butter the outsides of your bread. Lay down a piece of bread, butter side down, in the pan. While it's sizzling, throw on your cheese, drizzle some honey, lay on your tomatoes and basil leaves, drizzle some more honey, and top it with your final piece of bread, butter side up. When the bottom is golden brown, flip it carefully over and brown it on the other side.

You are in for a delightful treat I tell ya.

You can CLICK HERE to see the segment on Oprah that inspired me.

Sep 24, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Give your kids control

Many families with children have their own way of assigning jobs/rewards. Here is something we have come up with over time that is working wonders in our home. I am sure it may change over time as all family plans have to be flexible, but for now we are thrilled with the results! Perhaps it's something you can pull from for your own family.

I was really tired of setting timers for computer time or TV/video game time and nagging my children to turn them off. In fact, I was tired of them asking for it all so often. I really wanted them to be more responsible with their use of time. We decided on some rules and presented them to the kids. They were sooooo excited!
  1. Everyone has jobs they are personally responsible for: making their bed, brushing their teeth, keeping their room clean, taking dirty dishes to the sink, putting their clothes in the hamper, practicing piano, etc...
  2. We also have jobs that help the family. Each person has 2 "stick jobs" everyday. The kids pull two sticks from a bag and they are responsible for those 2 jobs that day. These include: setting the table, unloading the dishwasher, vacuuming, clearing and wiping the table, wiping the cupboard fronts, wiping the kitchen table and clearing food/condiments, etc...
  3. On Saturdays, we work as a family, getting bathrooms cleaned, dusting, etc...
  4. When the kids do these jobs without being asked (this takes patient!) they will earn a dollar. The dollars have a fun name in our house that go with our last name. For example, if your last name was Bird, they could be Bird Bucks, or Dempsy Dollars. Catchy and fun for the kids. 
  5. At the end of our day when we come together as a family we go through each job and pass out our dollars. Each child has an envelope holding their money. For our money we altered an image we found online, but I'm sure you can find play money at the dollar store.
  6. Now for the fun part that puts them in control! Each dollar has a value. One dollar is worth 10 minutes of t.v. or computer or video game time OR the dollar is worth 50 cents. The kids get to decide. One rule is that they can only spend 6 dollars a day on electronics. 
The kids love having the control and they are soooo stingy about spending their money! My oldest (nine years) is saving up for the Lego Harry Potter game, so he never spends more than 2 dollars a day on electronics. My twin 5 year olds and my 3 year old are also very into this. The 3 year old doesn't quite grasp it all, but she loves earning her dollars! When the timer beeps now, they know if they don't turn off the screen, it means I get another dollar from them. I've never seen kids walk away from a TV so fast, or practice the piano, or clean up without being asked. They are developing great habits! I love that they have control and they are learning how to save in the process. As for me, my nagging moments have decreased by leaps and bounds!

Sep 22, 2010

Windex Away Temptation

I saw this clip on TV a while back and have to share. Basically, this guy sprays Windex on the cupcake he's given and throws it away so that he won't be tempted to eat it. I thought this was hilarious and on some bizarre level kind of genius. I mean, if you are trying to avoid food temptation, that is one way to completely obliterate it.

Sep 20, 2010

I Can Do Hard Things

My life has recently been flipped upside down. I am 11 weeks pregnant and we are thrilled to be having our fourth and final baby! However, pregnancy takes a serious toll on me. I have morning sickness for a good 5 to 6 months and nothing seems to help. So, here I am, a lump on a log. One who has no energy or desire to do anything, who can't change a diaper or wipe a bum without gagging for fresh air, who needs to eat every 2 hours and yet nothing sounds good, who has about 10 things to get done and is bedraggled after doing just one, who makes frighteningly odd sounds throughout the day while trying to keep from tossing my cookies. The truth be known, pregnancy is for me dreadful but so worth it.

Now to my point. Before finding out I was pregnant I happened upon a blog where a mother had recently lost her 18 month old baby girl. She was so inspirational and offered up a piece of advice I have taken to heart. As she tries to cope with her new reality, she has found it helpful to tell herself, "I can do hard things". I know my current trial pales in comparison, but I keep finding myself saying those very words out loud as I'm getting up to take the kids to school, or going to a social event, or making dinner, or anything that takes me off my bed or the couch for that matter. It really helps me to believe that I CAN do it and somehow motivates this lifeless body to move.

Sep 17, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Grated Butter

You know those recipes that call for drizzled butter? Well, sure, butter isn't always the best health option, but I still use the stuff every now and then.

I have several recipes that tell me to melt and drizzle butter over everything before popping it into the oven. I end up using more butter than I probably should or most of the butter ends up on one side of the dish and the other half gets hardly any.

I h ad an AHA! moment a while back that I would love to share. I now skip melting the butter and instead pull a stick straight out of the fridge and grate the butter over my dish. It works like magic, is evenly distributed, and I use so much less! Just note, the butter MUST be cold and you should move pretty quick. I simply move my grater over the dish while grating and viola! My dish is drizzled with butter. It looks almost like grated mozzarella cheese! This specific dish is a cheesy chip chicken. My kids love it!

Sep 15, 2010

Snack Time Fishing

I had the privilege of watching this cute little guy named Max last week. When it was time for a snack he asked if I happened to have pretzel sticks, peanut butter, and fishies. He went on to explain that he wanted to go fishing with the pretzel sticks! We were both pretty bummed that I didn't have the proper tools, but I thought this was the cutest idea and knew it would become an instant favorite for my kids. It's no wonder something so fun came from his mouth, his mother is a creative genius when it comes to entertaining little ones.

As you see in the picture above, you dab a glob of peanut butter onto a plate, scatter some fishies around, and give the kids pretzel sticks. It's then up to them to dip their pretzel stick into the peanut butter, pick up a fish with its gooey goodness, and pop the fun into their mouth.

Who knew snacking could be so exciting!

Sep 13, 2010

Guest Post: Sweet & Salty Pantry Bins

No matter how many times I cleaned and organized my pantry I could never KEEP it clean and organized. So a few months ago I thought of having one bin for our "sweet" snacks and one bin for our "salty" snacks and it has been so helpful! Just this one little change has kept my pantry clean and organized since I started using the bins. Everyone knows where to look for their snacks and they know exactly where to put them back as well. Hopefully this can help someone else too.

Kierstin, Utah

Sep 10, 2010

From Linda's Lips: WD 40--not just for squeaky doors!

I'm sure everyone has heard of many uses for this product, but one that I have used on more than one occasion and tell people about all the time is for getting out stains. I originally heard about this from the "Queen of Clean." She is one of my favorite ladies. I absorb her wisdom like a sponge!

Basically, if you have any oil based stain (lipstick, bicycle chain grease, grease splatter from last nights dinner, and my favorite--crayon) WD-40 can get it out.

I had heard of this once and stored it in one of those "useless fact" compartments in my brain, and then came the day when a crayon was left in a pocket of a pair of shorts and made its way into the dryer. You can imagine my horror (well, if you know me you can imagine). There I was, pregnant with twins and all of my maternity clothes were splotched with crayon marks. There was no way I was going buy new clothes for the remaining 2 months of my pregnancy, so then and there I armed myself with a bottle and took to the backyard. This was going to take some ventilation space. I would spray a bit of WD-40 on a spot, activate the stain, and then rub it with dishwasher soap and water to remove the crayon and the WD-40 completely out of the fabric.

It works ladies and gentleman. It really really works.

And to clean the inside of the dryer: I sprayed a bit of WD-40 on a rag and wiped out those crayon marks. Followed that with liquid dish soap and water, and then put some dry rags in the dryer to be sure they collected the residue (this little tidbit I got off of the crayola website after I had cleaned my clothes). I have since learned it will also get gum off of the inside of dryer walls as well. I'm thinking I need to inspect my pockets more carefully from now on...

Sep 8, 2010

"Plastic Spoon Puppets...Hours of Role Playing Fun!" -CE Alvarez

This is a cheap and easy craft that you can do again & again and can lead to hours of role playing fun!

What You Need:
Plastic Spoons, Felt, Permanent Markers, Scissor, Glue, Pipe Cleaners

WhatTo Do:
Draw faces on to the back side of the spoons with permanent markers. Carefully cut clothing, hair, hats, etc from felt. (Note: Fold clothing in half and use scissor to make a slit to slide spoon handle in) Glue hair on spoon. Wrap a pipe cleaner around the handle to make arms.

CLICK HERE to see more fun craft ideas at CE's blog, "The Mommy Mayhem Survival Guide"

Sep 6, 2010

The Countdown

We recently went on vacation to Yellowstone and before we left we got a surprise package with a yummy countdown from "Billy the Bear", affectionately named by Grandma. The kids were thrilled. And I thought, wow, that is a cute and simple idea!

She put treats into snack baggies, tied a cute string in the middle to make two separate pockets (I've also seen it done with saran wrap). Then she stapled as many bags together as she needed for the countdown. She attached it all to a cute bear cutout.

This idea can be used to fit any occasion. The best part is watching the kids light up as they open a treat each day in anticipation of the upcoming event.

Sep 3, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Hands Up!

A few years ago I was involved with a really fantastic playgroup. On one occasion we invited a child behaviorist to come observe us and our children as we played together. We all wondered if our children were "normal." Some wondered if their children needed speech intervention, some wondered if they were advanced/behind.

At the time, my twins were about 2 years old and I didn't really care too much about the spectrum, I felt like after watching my older son that they were pretty normal, but was curious nonetheless. After about an hour our behavior specialist talked to us individually and we learned some really great things about each of our babes and their different styles of learning. She then pulled us together as a group and gave us some great tips about things we could do to improve our parenting.

There was one thing that has stuck in my brain like glue. It changed my life as a parent. I now refer to it as the Hands Up! technique.

She quickly pointed out that all of us there that day (and most parents in general) constantly follow our toddlers around saying things like, "don't touch," "don't hit," "stop biting!" She explained to us that young children only hear the "touch," "hit," and "bite" in phrases like this and they get confused when we as parents get upset. Not to mention every phrase is negative in tone. She gave us an alternative! Yay! She told us that for the next 30 minutes we should change our phrase to match what we wanted the child to do. For example, if they were touching something they shouldn't, or hitting, we should say, "hands off!" or "hands up!" If they were biting, "mouths off" or "teeth off." It seemed sooooo silly to us, and for 30 minutes it was hard to change our ways. BUT it was like a miracle had occurred in that room. Our children listened to us! They understood what we were saying and everything was said in more happy tones.

These phrases now come very naturally to me because they are so much more effective! It definitely came in handy when we were recently seated at a restaurant right next to a fire place. My little miss quickly smiled and raised her hands high when my husband and I both said, "hands up!"

Sep 1, 2010

Feature: "Do You Have a Mystery Odor in Your Laundry Routine???” -Jane

In the past decade have you upgraded to a front loading washing machine? Do you think POWDER laundry detergent is a thing of the past?

I am particularly fond of good smells, actually, obsessed. In the past few years, I went to huge efforts to try and figure out why my laundry was not smelling fresh… I even brought in a couple plumbers to help me resolve the issue. I purchased a NEW set of washer/dryer and went back to top loader for my washer because I was convinced after all my research that it must be my washer that had the problem. After all, front loaders do have a ‘mystery odor’ reputation.

However, after an appointment with one very brilliant plumber, he informed me I should make the switch back to powder detergent. He said the washing machine needs that dose of powder every load to cleanse itself. I made the switch, and wah-la! My yummy-fresh smelling laundry returned. I was one very happy scent-obsessed housewife!

So, here’s the low-down on liquid… if you are having any challenges with a weird/nasty odor in your washing machine...good chance it's because the liquid soap is sitting-rotting in the plumbing pipes/tubes!!! And, if you have a front loading washing machine, front loaders are going to worsen the odor!!!

I recommend Tide He, *powder form only. CLICK HERE to check it out.

CLICK HERE to see all of Jane's laundry recommendations at her blog "See Jane Blog".

Aug 30, 2010

Healthier Alternatives

All of my life I was able to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and it had little effect on my shape. That is, until I turned 30 and had baby #3. My free ride came to an abrupt end and I found myself with 40 extra stubborn pounds to lose. I didn't want to starve or deprive myself too drastically. I did find it necessary to count calories for the first little while to get a better grip on what I was putting into my body. Eventually, I found some tricks along the way:

1. Eat Protein (an egg) in the Morning ~ you will burn more calories during the day.
2. Exercise ~ exercising with weights will burn more calories.
3. Cheese ~ sharp cheese gives you lots of flavor with much less.
4. Daytime Munchies ~ eat veges & fruit rather than chips or crackers (goldfish, flavor blasted thank you, are a calorie friendly cracker and air popped popcorn is a calorie must!)
5. Don't Eat After 7pm ~ use 0 calorie drinks (like Crystal Light) to get you through the nighttime munchies.
6. Quaker Mini Delights got me through many a sugar craving.
7. Take a Break ~ at least one night on the weekend I ate whatever I wanted, guilt free.

Following the above list while watching my calories, I was able to lose a couple of pounds a week and eventually got to my goal weight. Losing weight was no easy feat. It was definitely an internal battle of sacrifice and determination. I think it's important that we don't deprive ourselves completely of the things we love when we're trying to lose weight - but instead find healthier alternatives that work for us.

Aug 27, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Vinegar does it again!

While we were in Yellowstone this summer one of my nephews spilled some red kool aid on the carpet. We were a little worried about losing some money on the deposit on the place so we quickly looked for remedies online. I haven't been able to find it again to post a link, but this worked like a charm! We sprinkled white vinegar over the stain and then sprinkled baking soda over the vinegar and worked it in to the carpet. The next day, when the mixture had dried, we vacuumed up the baking soda and were totally shocked. The red was completely gone and the carpet was bright. In fact, the carpet looked brand spankin new!

I decided to try it for myself upon our return home. There was an old stain in my boys room that drove me crazy every time I walked in. I sprinkled some vinegar on it, worked the baking soda in, and then returned the next day. Sure enough, it was dry and I vacuumed it up. The stain was much improved! In fact, to get a picture of the improvement I had to really work on the angle with my camera. It is almost undetectable! The carpet no longer looks matted, and when my son walked in his quote was, "wow! that spot is gone." I may do it again tonight to lighten it further. But it definitely works on fresh and old stains. Of course I would say try this in a hidden area first if you are worried about discoloration, but we had no problems on the darker carpet in Yellowstone or our light carpet at home.

Aug 25, 2010

Nonstick Crockpot

For an easy clean, always spray your crockpot with nonstick spray before you put anything into it.

Works every time!

Aug 23, 2010

Slice of Oprah: Get a Gift, Give a Gift

I recently caught up on my DVR'd Oprah's and couldn't get enough of the interview with Malaak Compton-Rock. You know, comedian Chris Rock's wife. This woman is truly outstanding when it comes to serving and giving. She shared one of their family traditions; on any holiday her two girls get a gift, they are to give a gift. Whether it be 5 gifts or 20 received they are to pick out the same amount from their current toys to give to kids in need. How great is that. I have a house overflowing with toys and plan to do this from now on.

They also played a little video of Malaak taking her girls with her to serve food at a local shelter. She asked them to pick out a few of their toys donate to the kids at the shelter. She explained that this was especially great because it taught her youngest girl to give a gift without always getting something in return, at least something tangible that is. Then Oprah commented that we women should do this with our shoes, get a pair, give a pair. I think the whole concept is inspirational.

CLICK HERE to watch the "Malaak Compton-Rock and Her Daughters Give Back" Oprah video

Aug 18, 2010

Guest Post: Shoe Horn Wonderment


You are scrambling to get the kids ready for school or church and they just don't want to put their shoes on.


Shoe horn. No, it is not an instrument. It is a little tool your dad probably used every day of his adult life. It is quite easy to use, the kids get a big kick out of it and they'll actually want to put their shoes on!! Simply wedge the shoe horn between your kid's heel and the back of the shoe, tell your kid to push and voila - smiles and looks of wonderment!

Don, Texas

Aug 17, 2010

Freezer Jammin'

There is something so mouthwatering about homemade jam. I have been supplied most of my life by my Grandmas, spoiled I know. Two summers ago my good friend Michelle and I got ambitious and went strawberry picking and made our own freezer jam to boot. I loved how easy it was. I went ahead and made my own this year because my family had the good fortune to pick fresh raspberry's from my Grandma's garden. It was fun to let my kids in on the making of it this time.

What you need is yummy fruit, a pack of Sure Jell (found by the jellos), a frightening amount of sugar (don't skimp on it though), a Cuisinart or blender, and containers. You don't need to go picking, you can just get some fresh fruit from the grocery store or your local farmer's market (although if a farm is nearby it is worth the work!).

Follow the Freezer Jam instructions found inside the Sure Jell package and in no time at all, you will have supplied your family with a tantalizing, preservative free delight. Not to mention this makes a fabulous, cost-effective Christmas gift for friends and neighbors.

Aug 16, 2010

Feature: "Complimenting On A Job Well Done" - Shauna

I have recently come across a few blogs that I find inspiring. Shauna's blog My Mix of Six is one of them. She is an incredibly insightful person and a funloving parent. I think a lot of what she has to say is incredibly valuable. I've chosen to feature her post entitled "The Use of Words". I hope you enjoy Shauna's words of wisdom as much as I have:

"Christmas parties are winding up and two different teachers are trying to get their classrooms under control. I was walking in between my kids' classes and this is what the fifth grade teacher sounded like, "You guys start picking up" - no one is really listening, the room is a disaster. "Everyone start cleaning up our room". It just felt like chaos. I then venture into the fourth grade room and this is what their teacher sounded like, "Let's get our room cleaned up, and then we can listen to one last Christmas story. Nathan can you and Olivia clean off the boards, ... Then she proceeds to walk around commenting to the kids, "Nathan and Olivia, you two sure work well together ... Jackson you sure are a quick sorter ... Madison you can always find EVERY last piece of trash on the floor..." I then go back into the fifth grade room. It is STILL trashed the kids are out of control and nothing is really getting done as the teacher keeps nagging them to clean up. I do one last check in the fourth grade room and it is totally organized with everyone sitting around listening to a Christmas story.

This scenario happened over a year ago and I have reflected back to it many times and have used Ms. Schmuttermair's skills here in our home. I try to be specific about the tasks needing done, instead of just 'everyone clean'. I then try hard to compliment those working on jobs together, telling them how well they work together. I also try commenting on how well they are doing their chores. Rebecca wasn't an immaculate sweeper, UNTIL I started telling her that she was one of my best. Then all of a sudden I noticed the care she takes in getting ALL the crumbs and dirt. She will always say to me as she sweeps, "Why do you think I'm such an awesome sweeper Mom?..." because she is looking for the praise and compliments once again.

CLICK HERE to read Shauna's full post entitled "The Use of Words".

Aug 13, 2010

Guest Post: Color Code Your Kids

With four children I often feel out of control with my household chores especially when it comes to laundry. Well, I do not have the lemon tree solution to laundry (could we just do away with it completely!) but I do have something that has helped me out a lot when it comes to bath towels. I chose a color for each of my children and bought them a really nice fluffy bath towel in that color. They use this towel every single time they bathe or shower. Now, I know whose towel is on the floor and they can keep track of their own towel and when it needs to be washed etc. Let's just say that it is so great NOT to have 20 towels all over the floor each night!

I also do the color thing for their drinking cups. They get one cup each day (same color as their towel) and anytime they want a drink they get their cup and then wash it out. I simply wash the cup each night and we start over the next day. So instead of using 6 different cups in a day, they each have 1 and I only have to worry about keeping track of 4 every day. It has worked out nicely. Now if all their clothes, toys, etc. could be one color right? . . .

Jill, Texas

Aug 11, 2010

Clothespin Chip Clip

I know this post may not appeal to many (simply because you all don't have a bunch of clothespins lying around...or maybe you do?), but I'm excited about my recent discovery. I bought a ton of clothespins when we lived in Wisconsin. Most of the homes out there have clotheslines, ours included, so I decided to throw back to the simpler life with the rest of the Wisconsians (yes, a name I just coined) and line dry on occasion. Although, come to think of it, that isn't simpler than throwing it in the dryer! I digress.

Needless to say, I no longer have a clothesline but am stuck with lots of clothespins. My baby girl, Emmy, had them strewn about the house one day and when I discovered one in the kitchen and couldn't find a chip clip, its dual usage was inescapable. We currently have annoying chip clips so I was thrilled to discover how perfectly it worked! In fact, I vow only to buy cute clothespins in the future for my chipclip needs; they are smaller, just as strong, and you get at least twice as many for the same price.

Aug 9, 2010

Coupon Swagger

I recently attended a coupon class my friend Jennifer taught and she told us never to feel like we are putting a store out by using a coupon. At one time or another we may have all felt like we were a hassle to the store for presenting our coupon. You know the checker, the one who acts like the coupon is so inconvenient and she has to call over her supervisor and you start to wonder how this little piece of paper could be so difficult. Get this...stores make 8 cents on every coupon you use and they are reimbursed by the manufacturer. So, we are actually doing stores an 8 cent favor when we use them! Now we can all hand over our coupons with a bit of swagger, how great is that.

Aug 5, 2010

From Linda's Lips: Vinegar Saves Laundry!

Let's all give a warm welcom to Linda, a new official contributor to the Lemon Tree! Linda is my sista' from another mista' (aka sister-in-law) that I have already done a few posts about. Whenever I am with her I am always blown away by her treasure trove of ideas, tips, and tricks. She is a walking Lemon Tree gem that, unbeknownst to her, played a big part in inspiring this project of mine. So, if it comes from Linda's lips it's the tried and true real deal. Enjoy...

I'm not sure where I originally got the idea to add vinegar to my laundry, but I'm so glad I tried it! I first added it to a load of towels that I had washed and used fabric softener on. If you have read previous posts of the Lemon Tree you know this is a definite no-no. Over time the absorbency of the towels fade. Well, I added vinegar to the load, the towels were restored and they were soft! Dreamy.

I decided to add vinegar to a color load to see what it would do. Wonders! My yellows were bright again, and my colors no longer had a dull look to them. I now add vinegar to all of my bright colors and my towels. A cup will do. I add it when the water has filled the machine (if you have a front loader, you can add it to the fabric softener cup). Vinegar also has the same effect when used in the rinse cycle, I just don't have time to sit around and wait for it with my top loader. The smell of the vinegar disappears completely.

I have since learned you can spray full strength vinegar on those under arm stains before you start your load of laundry and the stains will lighten and the under arm odor will fade.

Have you left a load of laundry in the washer too long and forgotten it? You know the musty yucky smell? Add a cup or two of vinegar along with your detergent and the smell will vanish.

Go on, start a load of laundry! You know you want to...

Aug 4, 2010

Slice of Oprah: Travel Decor

Oprah's design expert Nate Berkus' take on and advice for decor is really eye opening for the design impaired, like me. I feel like I'm still in the throws of figuring out my style and I want my home decor to have more meaning.

Nate preaches that everyone should display things in their home from their travels. I recently took his advice. As a kid I would collect bucketfuls of sparkly rocks on my Grandma's property in Utah. In my eyes they were a priceless treasure. So when I had a chance to stay at her house this summer I seized the moment and collected a bunch of beautiful rocks to take with me. I love that they mean something to me and I can't wait to find the perfect place to display them.

CLICK HERE to read Nate Berkus' "10 Easy Tweaks to Update Your Home"

Aug 2, 2010

Carabiner Key Finder

I am that girl, you know, the one with her purse up on the hood madly digging through its depths for car keys. This is one thing about me that drives my husband completely crazy, not to mention how annoyed I get at my own self. He and I marvel at how I can have the keys in my hand one second and the next have no idea where I put them.

I like to blame it on my genes, as my mother suspiciously has the exact same problem. When I was with her this summer she raved about her new key finding system. She uses a carabiner (to all you non-outdoorsy people, it's what is in the picture above) to hold her keys so she can immediately latch it to the outside or inside of her purse when they're not in the ignition. This seems to have changed her life. I've been giving it a go this past week and I am in awe at how lovely it is to always know exactly where my keys are.

So, mom, I will no longer ascribe this fault of mine to you but instead praise you for finding a cure! This really is a life changing gem of an idea.

Jul 31, 2010

Plastic Knife Cuts Brownies Like A Dream

This tip comes from my incredibly talented older sister Marianne. She can create things out of paper that make you wonder why she hasn't made millions. Anyway, one day we were together and she was about to cut into a pan of brownies. I don't remember what we were talking about or how it came up but I distinctly remember her matter of factly saying, "you need a plastic knife to cut brownies, but everyone knows that". I remember thinking, um, I didn't.

The other day when I made a brownie like treat her wise words popped into my head and that little plastic knife worked like a dream! No more clumps of goo coming up or sadly shaped jagged squares, instead it created perfectly square bars and the knife even came out clean. I imagine it would work on lemon squares or any type of gooey treat that needs cutting. Give it a try and think of my awesome sister when you do.

Jul 30, 2010

Guest Post: The Gas Pump Arrow

I recently found out a handy little tip to save you from pulling up on the wrong side of the gas pump. Have you ever driven someone else's car or a rental and had to annoyingly switch sides at the pump because you weren't sure which side it was on? Look at your gas gauge on your dash and there should be a little arrow pointing left or right by the gas pump picture. This shows you which side you can pump gas into your car! I never knew! I'm pretty sure most cars have this but sorry if the car you're unfamiliar with doesn't.

Suzie, Arkansas

Jul 28, 2010

Slice of Oprah: Hooves to Heels

So, if it hasn't already happened to your gloriously soft and smooth heels, one day it will. Yes, it's true, our heels eventually feel the need to turn hoofish (is that even a word!?) My sisters and I recently had a little rant about this very dilemma - so nice to know you're not alone in this. The smoothness turns into roughness and cracks. Seriously not okay for our femininity! I was excited when Oprah brought in a beauty expert a while back who gave a simple and effective cure for this little glitch in our systems. Paula Begoun, author of Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, offers this solution:

Rub Stridex over your heels at night because it contains 2% salicylic acid that acts as an exfoliant. Then take Cocao Butter, Vaseline, or a thick moisturizer like Eucerin and layer it on top of the salicylic acid. Lay it on thick. Cover them up with a pair of socks, go to bed and after about a week you will never have dry heels again.

CLICK HERE to see her "Favorite Beauty Products Video" created for the Oprah show.

Jul 26, 2010

By Bye Taco Seasoning

I was helping my sister-in-law Linda make dinner one night and she showed me how yummy taco meat can be when you throw in a little salsa. It was a really exciting moment in my life as Mexican food is my favorite, but super strong taco meat is not.

That's right, say goodbye to that overpowering taco seasoning. Just mix into the ground up meat of your choice some of your favorite salsa (I prefer ground turkey with Pace), add salt and pepper to taste and you have some perfectly scrumptious taco meat. Once you try this, you'll never go back to the powdered stuff least I never have.

Jul 24, 2010

Guest Post: The Highs and the Lows

I learned this from a friend of mine who is a wonderful mother and has a great family. One day she shared with me a little thing they do at dinner called "the highs and the lows". It's a perfect way to learn about what is going on in your children's lives.

Every time their family sits down to dinner they talk about the highs and the lows of the day. They go around and have each child answer what was the best thing that happened to them that day. After all the highs are shared, then they ask each child individually what was the worst thing that happened that day. Then they talk about it, listen, laugh, or cry together.

I have found that this is a great way to know what my children are thinking and feeling.
As a side note: This is also a wonderful thing for teachers and leaders of youth to use to get to know them better.

Marilyn, Utah
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