Jun 28, 2010

Laundry Colors - Go Ahead, Mix 'Em Up

If you haven't already discovered the beauty of the Shout Color Catchers, your wait is over. My sister-in-law Linda told me about this and it has saved me loads of laundry. Basically, you throw one, or half (I rip them in half for small loads) of a Color Catcher sheet into the washing machine with your clothes and these babies suck the color out of the water so it doesn't transfer to the other clothes. I threw all three of the sheets above into different loads - the white sheet still remained white because I threw it into a white load with only a couple of colored things just to make sure color didn't get onto my whites.

I'm not going to tell you that throwing one of these into a batch full of new red shirts with white ones will stop any color from transferring. I am going to tell you that in general it makes it possible to mix colors with whites. Such a lifesaver when you don't have time or enough of each to do them separately. Love these!

What are your tried and true laundry tips?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 25, 2010

The Loudest Chomp

Getting my kids to willingly eat their veges is a real hit or miss around these parts. Usually a miss. The other night we had eaten I think it was cheese pizza for dinner, so I got out some carrots and snap peas to save their little systems from oil overdrive. Instant refusal. Then, my husband Joey grabbed a carrot and said all animated, "Let's see who can make the loudest chomp!" The kids eyes lit up and their little hands reached into those baggies so fast and my mouth hit the floor. They wanted to play it again and again, and they were eating their veges with smiles on their faces. Brilliant.

Do you have any secrets to get your kids to eat their veges?

CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 23, 2010

Guest Post: Canister Goodie Bags

I had a bunch of crystal light cans stashed away. We drink a lot of "crystal light" around this house (I know, I know, it isn't good for us) and I hated throwing away these containers knowing one day I would find use for them. I thought of these babies when it came time to make the "goodie bags" for all of our little guests.Then I put my little helpers to work. This job was easy for them because there was hardly any adhesive holding on the labels.I added scrapbook paper with double sided tape. And then I added a simple ribbon with name tags for our friends. And I totally forgot to take a picture of the final product. Lame-O me.

Linda, Illinois

Do you have any creative and simple crafts to share?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 21, 2010

Brighten Your Own Day

I love flowers. When we lived in Wisconsin and the winters were long I decided I was going to start buying flowers for myself to brighten up my kitchen. It was the greatest decision ever. Don't get me wrong, my man buys me flowers! But can we women ever get them enough? I just find seasonal flowers or whatever is cheapest (I don't spend more than $5) at the grocery store. They last a couple of weeks and make everything more cheery.

What do you do to brighten your surroundings?

CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 19, 2010

Understanding Why

I have three kids. Kaela, my oldest and I hit a rough patch after I had baby number three. She was a persistent four year old, I was hormonally challenged, and we were constantly in cahoots with each other. There seemed to be no resolve to her disobedience and my impatience. One day I felt inspired to pick up this random parenting book. In reading it, I had a huge “light bulb” moment. I needed to start asking why and listening to Kaela’s views/thoughts/reasons before reacting. To this day it still saves our relationship and brings many arguments into understanding.

In fact, I just used it on my 3 year old Luke the other day when we were outside. I looked over to see him peeing (yeah, I'm just going to say it like it is) on our porch. Before I reacted, I simply asked why he would do that and his reply was, “I’m making a waterfall mom!”. Instead of boiling up inside, I turned my head and started laughing. Here is just a snippet of what inspired this change:

“When you find yourself entering an argument with your children, listen. “You’re upset; tell me why….I didn’t understand that. I’m sorry. Tell me more.” You’ll be surprised at how the conversation changes. Rather than state their positions, your kids may explain their points of view. Instead of building walls, you’ll find them falling.”

“…try to learn your son’s point of view, rather than get stuck in your own. You ask why he thinks you are unfair, rather than quickly reject his opinion. Once you understand his thinking, you can help him understand yours and work with him to find a compromise.

Listening well may be more like a habit than a skill. Rather than rush to solve a problem or settle an argument, slow yourself enough to learn from your children why you differ. Once you do, you will be more persuasive when you talk.”

How to Negotiate with Kids…even when you think you shouldn’t, by Scott Brown

Have you had "light bulb" moments with parenting?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 18, 2010

Guest Post: Icey Grape Drinks

I don't know about anyone else but I don't like my soda to be watered down in the summer with melting ice. Here is how I stop that. You know the grapes at the end of the bag that are good but just not as firm as you would like them to be. Well I throw them in the freezer and use them instead of ice cubes. My drink is cold, not watered down and I have a snack at the end of the drink. It works great.

Christy, Wisconsin

Do you have any other savvy food tips?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 17, 2010

Laundry Basket Toting

My sister-in-law Jill has discovered that the laundry basket has a dual-purpose. It becomes a really great "box" to carry things in when there's more than your two hands can hold. It can hold stuff for long car trips, for church activities, for beach trips, for taking dinner to a friend, for camping...the possibilities are endless. She will tell you that the hip-hugging laundry baskets are best for the job.

Have you found a dual-purpose for common things around the house?

CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 16, 2010

Frozen Grapes are Nature's Mini Popsicles

The title of this post says it all. This little secret was shared with me by my good friend Kierstin. It is a summertime must and a great nighttime munchie. All you do is wash your grapes, pluck them from the vine, throw them in a freezer bag - or any plastic bag for that matter - and voila. Happy snacking!

Do you have any easy yet healthy snack ideas?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 15, 2010

Feature: Place Mats Make Great Pillow Cases

I wanted some yellow in my front room. bad. So I looked and looked for some throw pillows and couldn't find any...well I couldn't find any cute enough to justify spending $15-$30.

Next option was sewing my own. I began the hunt for some cute yellow fabric. A task much harder than expected. I went to lots of stores but had no luck; I had to get creative.

Then it clicked to look in the place mat section. There it was, the perfect embroidered yellow number that would compliment the other pillows on my couch. Any place mat with two separate pieces sewn together is a great pillow cover candidate. Best part is - the hard part has already been done for you.

Here is how I did it:
Step 1 = pick apart the stitches on the shortest side just big enough to stuff the pillow in.

Step 2 = stuff the pillow

step 3 = sew it back up.

Total Cost: $3.99 (I already had the pillow insert)

Here are my results:CLICK HERE to see Katie's full post with more incredibly beautiful do-it-yourself decorating tips.

~Katie Blacker, Ohio

Do you have any simple, savvy decorating tips?

CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 14, 2010

Feature: "Dishes Can Wait - Seriously" -NieNie

a typical post-dinner scene around these parts

I read NieNie. She inspires me. She is my definition of beautiful. She helps me to be a more present, joyful mother and wife. About a year ago she wrote a post entitled "Love" that made mention we are missing out on our children after dinner. Heaven knows that before dinner at my house it is none other than chaotic with tired, hungry children who drive me and my thinned out patience bananas. But after dinner there is usually a contentment that comes over the kids…and I’m usually in the kitchen cleaning up instead of taking it in. Thanks to NieNie, I am trying to be knee deep in my kids at their most pleasant, instead of the dishes. The dishes don’t seem to mind.

CLICK HERE to read NieNie’s full post on "Love"

Have you been changed by parenting advice that drifted your way?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Guest Post: Squeegee-Clean Shower

I must give a shout out to my incredibly sweet, intelligent, and supportive dad. He claims that he "might be the only man to ever submit something" to this blog, and I can't think of a better guy for the job. Get ready, this is one to remember...

Unless you love scrubbing off hard water and soap scum, this should brighten both your day and your shower. Just quickly go over your shower with a good rubber 8" Squeegee before you exit the shower and you will never (almost) have to clean your shower again. It's easy and even good exercise. Takes less than a minute. No need to wipe the squeegee with a towel or use any cleaning agents - just swipe and shake it off. Have fun!

~Roy, Utah

Do you have any great cleaning tricks you use around the house?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 12, 2010

Guest Post: Beginning Handwriting

1. Write any letter on a small chalkboard.
2. Have your child trace over the letter with something that is wet and something that will fit easily in their little fingers (we use a small sponge).

This is a tip that we got from a wonderful teacher. It has really been a lot of fun for my youngest daughter...the fact that she loves doing it is a huge plus! Her big sister has even enjoyed doing this with her. It has been great in helping develop fine motor skills and, of course, in helping with beginning letter writing.

~Kierstin, Utah

Do you know of any simple and fun ways to help kids learn?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 11, 2010

Accept a Compliment

Somewhere along the way, I think in college, I remember being scolded by someone because I wasn't able to just accept a compliment. They totally called me out and it hit home for me. After that, I realized I was always rebutting compliments with a "but..." or a "well..." or something of that sort. It took time, but eventually when a compliment drifted in my direction I started to say "thanks" and let it be. I've found that not only do I feel better about what is said when I don't allow myself to distort it, but it makes the person who complimented me happy too. Hey, I'm still not great at this but I think it does wonders to give ourselves a break and welcome the nice things that are said to us.

Have you ever been called out by some unexpectedly wise words?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 10, 2010

Pull Under Pony

When it comes to doing my girl's hair, I am admittedly so so at best. A few years back I was on the phone with my lifelong girl, Kierstin, and I was telling her my hairstyling woes. It was then she let me in on a special little something she learned along the way, what I like to call the pull under pony. This little hair trick has made my girl's hair go from drab to fab and must be shared.

Step 1: tie pony a bit higher than usual

Step 2: divide bottom part of pony down the middle

Step 3: pull top of pony forward through the divide
Step 4: pull top of pony tight, wriggling as necessary, until it's a thing of beauty

Got any super simple girly hairdoos?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 9, 2010

Dance It Out

picture courtesy of my little lady, Kaela

So, I must confess that I love to dance. I woke up the other morning with little energy and too much to do. My daughter, Kaela, turned on my iTunes playlist and suddenly my body started to move. We're talking music high, stress out the window, shake your groove thing, let loose without a care until my insides were flying high and I was ready to tackle the day. So then I thought, does everyone do this? And then I thought, well, I hope they do! Even if dancing isn't your thing I think everyone should laugh and smile while going crazy to their favorite song when no one's around. I did. Not to mention, when I do this, my kids get a huge kick out of it and join in. It will raise your spirits. Guaranteed.

What gets you going on those tough days?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 8, 2010

Summertime Water Art

My jack-of-all trades neighbor Jill taught me a thing or two about creative things to do with kids in the summer. I'll never forget the day I went over and saw our girls painting away with water on her driveway. I'm sure my mouth gaped open as I watched them create and the sun erase. Ingenious if you ask me. Perhaps the entire world already knows about this, but I didn't, so I thought maybe someone could benefit from me putting it in the Lemon Tree. Hope it sparks summer fun at your place.

Do you have a creative and simple idea that's fun for the kids?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 7, 2010

Feature: Easy Yummy Veggies

Today's handy tip comes from my incredibly talented little sis, Katie. Let me just gush about her for a moment: she is as sweet as she is beautiful, she created the graphics for and helped me design this blog, and she has recently become one amazing photographer. I asked her to be my first feature because this is one dang yummy tip that even the least experienced cook could make! Seriously, vegetables will never taste better. She says:

My mom taught us how to make really yummy easy veggies that can be used as a side dish or thrown into anything:

Give the zucchini (with skin on) and red & yellow & orange peppers a rough chop
Cover them with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt (preferably kosher salt)
bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.
they should be soft and turning brown when you take them out.

Note that the recipe I give can be used on any and all veges.

CLICK HERE to read Katie's full post on her blog You Had To Be There.

Do you have super simple recipes that have changed your culinary life?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 6, 2010

Cooling Rack Cures the Soggy's

Call me crazy but I am squeamish when it comes to soggy breads. No kidding, it gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. I love all things crispy. For this reason the cooling rack has become a staple in my kitchen that is not saved for just cooling cookies. I use it to keep hot pizza, pancakes, waffles, toasted breads, hot sandwiches, and breaded fish/chicken/pork from getting soggy on the bottom. If need be, I place the cooling rack on the oven rack and put whatever was just cooked on it so it stays warm and crispy until serving time arrives.

What are your tried and true kitchen tricks?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 5, 2010

Kathryn's Laundry Tip

My friend Kathryn is what I would call a laundry extraordinaire. That girl knows things about doing laundry that are awe inspiring. One thing I remember from her and have become a devout follower of is:
  • Never use fabric softener when drying your towels – your towels will absorb water much better without it.
What's your proven method when it comes to laundry madness?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Potty Training Double Up

When in the throws of that exasperating thing called potty-training I have discovered that a pair of little underwear worn under a Pull-Up diaper can help your child to understand how it feels to be wet.
I'm not saying this is the answer to getting your child potty trained, because heaven knows I tried it all with two kids so far that took their sweet time. The undies under the diaper just helped my kids to understand how it really felt to stay wet, a feeling they didn't love that encouraged them to use the potty. Not to mention it helped keep my house stain-free, something I basked in! If you want to try it just be sure to tuck the underwear well into the diaper so it doesn't leak out.

What really worked for you when potty training?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Jun 3, 2010

Swim Diaper Washable

While having lunch with a bunch of girlfriends one of them, Haylie, took us all by surprise when she announced that she washes her kids swim diapers one or two times before she throws them away (not if a little present has been left in them of course, those are to be trashed immediately). We were all stunned this was possible and excited for the money it will save us in the future.

What are some savvy ideas you've come across when it comes to kids?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Make-up Bag Snacks

I've learned not to go anywhere with my brood unless I am armed with snacks to feed a hungry tummy, use as a reward for good behavior when out and about, or even to get me through a busy day. To my delight I discovered that a make-up bag can be used as a really cute snack bag in your purse that does wonders to keep the purse crumbs at bay.

What are some convenient tricks you've learned as a mother?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

Sharpie Covers Grays

Gray hair anyone? Unfortunately, hair dye is a necessity in my family, with the exception of dad who revels in the fact that his hair is "silver". My little sister Katie discovered early on that the right color Sharpie does wonders to cover those stubborn grays when you only have a few. I’ve found it to be a necessity when between colorings. Who knew.

Do you have any off-the-wall beauty regiments?
CLICK HERE to submit a post to The Lemon Tree Project.

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