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 again...at 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

Jul 21, 2010

Guest Post: Be Grateful For Your "Pooch"

I was complaining about my mid-section to a friend who recently adopted the cutest little boy. She basically told me that I should be grateful for my pooch because it is a reminder that I was blessed to have my own children. Every time I'm feeling sorry for myself about carrying a few extra pounds, I try and remind myself that I would never trade any of my children for a better figure!

Michelle, Wisconsin

Jul 19, 2010

Slice of Oprah: Weeding Out Clothes

Whenever I mention that I watch Oprah I seem to get one of two reactions, complete approval or complete disapproval. Hey, you can judge all you want, we're all entitled to our opinions. I thank my DVR for being able to watch her show and I feel like I've learned a lot from doing so. Throwing caution and your inner Oprah feelings to the wind, I will be highlighting some of my favorite Oprah "aha moments" through a new segment I will call "Slice of Oprah". I am going to start with this:

Peter Walsh, the organizing expert who has appeared many times on Oprah, said something on her show I found fascinating. He said, "We wear 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time. To weed out the ones you don't wear, turn all of the hangers in your closet one way. After you wear an item, turn the hanger to face the other way. Get rid of the clothes on the hangers that haven't been turned in the last year."

I tried this for one month and found it to be really eye opening. You can see what you really love to wear and what you need to consider getting rid of. There is something so freeing about purging things you don't really use or need. Not to mention it can help those around you who can benefit from your unwanted stuff.

CLICK HERE to see more of what Peter Walsh has to say about decluttering.

Jul 16, 2010

Healthy Sleep Schedule

There is one book that I go back to time and time again to help me normalize my kid's sleep schedule. Is it just me, or does everyone forget what to do with each new baby? It comes from the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth. Especially in their first couple years of life...I tend to forget how many naps they should be taking and when. After 3 months of age I find this schedule to be right on. It goes like this:

Start the day: 7am
1st Nap: 9am
(disappears between ages 1-2)
2nd Nap: 1pm (disappears between ages 2-4
3rd Nap: between 3-5pm
(disappears around 9 months of age)
Bedtime: 6-8pm

1st awakening

2nd awakening

We live by the 6-8pm bedtime for our kids and it is wonderful for both them and us.


Jul 14, 2010

Scissor Happy

Say "see ya" to your knife when it comes to feeding babies and toddlers. I have found kitchen shears to be SO valuable in the kitchen since having kids. I guess you could call me scissor happy. I use them to cut up anything and everything from macaroni to hot sandwiches to fruit. The options are endless and it saves a lot of time and hassle.

Jul 11, 2010

Guest Post: Making Your Shorts Fit You

With the ever-changing fashion trends it's hard to find shorts you're comfortable in. Whether you're short or tall it's nice to have control over the length of your shorts. I've found that buying a cheap pair of jeans that fit well can also make a really great pair of shorts. All you need is a pair of scissors and snippy snip. It's also a great way to use those out-of-style jeans taking up space in your closet.

*Great places to find cheap jeans: Nordstrom Rack, TJMaxx, Ross, Marshalls, and of course, the clearance rack at any store! I found the jeans pictured above for $12 on clearance.

Katie, Ohio

Jul 8, 2010

Girls Night Out

I know this is a common phenomenon, but I think it needs to be reinforced. Don't we all need a girls night out? Time away from all of our cares, from all of our norms, to just dive into delicious grub we didn't have to make, and laugh our heads off with friends. I know I need this and I think everyone should be doing it.

We recently moved to a new town and I have been really missing "my girls" and our girls nights out. We would try to get together a couple of times a month either to celebrate a birthday or to just chat. The other night I jumped at the chance to hang out with some new friends here and it was such a release to laugh and talk with them. If you're not already having some type of a night away from the everday - then get one started. It won't be hard to find takers and you'll rejuvenate your soul.

Jul 6, 2010

Guest Post: Stain Remover "for Pennies"

This stain remover works wonders and is pennies to make. Use as you would Spray n' Wash or Shout. Spray it on any stain soon after its appearance. Leave it on for one minute or days and then wash as usual. You'll be amazed at how well it works.

1/4 c. liquid dish soap
1/2 c. ammonia
1/3 c. white vinegar
2 T. borax
3 c. water

Marilyn, Utah

Jul 3, 2010

The Beauty of Tape

"Don't you guys know the beauty of tape!?", were the words thrown at us while we were unsuccessfully trying to chat with friends over a really loud toy. This tip has seriously changed our lives.

You just place tape over the little holes that allow the sound out. Masking tape works if the kids can't see it, and I've found clear packing tape to do the trick in more visible spots. The more tape applied, the softer the sound.

Jul 1, 2010

Corn Tortilla Spritz

I love Mexican food. I could eat it every day. I'm salivating just thinking about it. I also love corn tortillas, but wasn't loving all of the calories that came with the oil-warmed kind. My mom once showed me that you can actually spray or rub water onto the corn tortilla before warming it in the pan instead of oil. It turns out just as scrumptious and so much more healthy than when it is done with oil. Just use a nonstick pan. SO GOOD.

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