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.
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