Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When Life Gives You Lemons, 10 Fresh Uses!

We have a lemon tree in our yard, and I have been trying to figure out how to use all of these lemons. I was looking for some new and different ideas, besides 'make lemonade' or 'make lemon chicken'. I have already done those, and I still had so many lemons! Here are a few of my ideas, hope you like them!

1. Make your own lemon essential oil. Lemon essential oil is useful for a variety of things, including making natural cleaning products and relieving heartburn. I think I might need to do a separate post, just on the uses of this essential oil.

2. Clean a cutting board. You can use fresh lemons to clean your stained cutting board. And bonus, it smells great too!

Photo source: 

3. Remove hard water stains. You know those spots on your shower and tub hardware, that you can't get off? Lemons can get those off! You just cut a lemon in half, and rub it on the hard water stains! Here are full instructions. This falls into the category of a 'life hack.'

4. Dye your hair. Don't live in sunny Southern California? Or don't have time to lounge in the sun? Or don't want to spend money to lighten your hair? Try lemon juice!
Photo source: 

5. Make lemon bars. These are delicious! For a variety of other ways to use lemons in cooking, check out this recent article

Photo source: 
6. Get rid of acne. Sounds weird, right? Lemon juice contains L-asorbic acide, a natural astringent which dries out the acne, as well as antibacterial compounds that fight acne-producing bacteria. There are some guidelines, so see this site for details!

7. Clean your garbage disposal or sink. You will need a few other items, like baking soda and vinegar. This is a great use for the lemons, since you need to clean the sink regularly to keep the germs and bacteria out of your kitchen sink!

8. Make sore throat tea. This mixture of fresh lemons, and honey with boiling water make a wonderfully natural and soothing sore throat tea!

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9. Freeze them. When you pick so many lemons that you can't possibly use them all, but don't want them to go bad. This is a great option.

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10. Make limoncello.  For an adults-only treat, here is a recipe for an Italian favorite. If you can get your hands on Everclear! 
Photo source: Good Cocktails

What have I missed, have you done anything else with lemons?

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Wrong Ava

When my son came home with a Frozen birthday party invitation, I was unfazed. It was not the first Frozen party he would be attending!! It was for Ava, from his class. I knew Ava, I thought. Her mom was at the Thanksgiving feast, and I talked with her. I emailed our response, that we would be attending and 'Thank you for the invite.' I never heard back, but I figured that was OK. We picked out a gift, that she would 'definitely like' and J made her a handmade card with stickers. 

The party was on Saturday at 3 pm. I knew the location well, because we take swim classes there. J and I walked in at 3 pm. We walked past a sign that said, "Ava's 7th Birthday, in the Big Gym!" So into the gym we went, and he said, "I don't see her." I told him that I was sure she was there, go play and look for her. I looked around at the other moms, trying to find a friendly face. No one looked even vaguely familiar. When I realized who the party host was, I figured that my son (who is horrible with names, like his mother) probably had the wrong Ava. 

Ten minutes later, a familiar face walks in the door and heads UPSTAIRS. At this point, J is fully immersed in the other party. Lined up with the girls, walked upstairs to have cake, sat down at the pink table... and I realize WRONG PARTY! I stood at the door, and called him to come to me. "We were at the wrong party, silly!" and he laughs it off, and joins his friends in the other party. 

Photo courtesy of Zoloft

Part of me is mortified. Because I work, and I am never at school- maybe I was just really out of it. Maybe no one would look familiar. Maybe, just maybe, I am THAT out of J's day-to-day life that I do not know a single person that he hangs out with. I felt really alone, sitting on that bench watching him smile and make new friends. He fit in just fine, at the wrong party. What a great kid! 

At the 'right' party, I tell the other moms how I screwed up. Silly me. I was not that out-of-sync with my son, I knew several of the moms from his 1st grade class. It was just the wrong Ava.

Then, we went home and put on our Halloween costumes for the rest of the day...

P.S. J was one of only two 'special' boys who were invited, and the hug shared between J and Ava was the cutest thing I have ever seen. It made me think that I must be doing SOMETHING right!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

How to Use Essential Oils for Baby's First Cold

When our bouncing baby boy got his first cold, I was concerned when it didn't go away on its own in  a few days. We used the vaporizer in his room at night, and he was sleeping and eating but still very congested. I searched far and wide, read many articles about natural remedies and decided to give essential oils a try. 

When using essential oils for a baby (Liam was 5 months when I tried this), it is important to dilute with a 'carrier oil'. Olive oil or sweet almond oil are both great carrier oils. What we used was about a quarter-size amount of almond oil, with 2-4 drops of eucalyptus oil rubbed on the bottom of his feet (and the remainder on my neck, so he could inhale it at a distance). This gave the effect of a natural Vicks VapoRub. I could hear the difference it made in his breathing. Obviously, if baby has a fever or doesn't get better quickly- call your doctor!

I also used the oils on myself over the Christmas/New Year's holidays. Everyone around me got sick, and usually I get a sinus infection (every year!). This year, I didn't! It was so nice to be home, with the baby and HEALTHY! I am hooked, and eucalyptus also has disinfectant properties. There are so many uses for it! You can also use lavender essential oil in a diffuser to calm baby and help them get to sleep. 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and I am simply sharing what worked for us.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Right Now

'Some people' say that routines are good for kids. 'Others' feel you should follow your child's lead, especially when they are babies. Should I sleep train? Should I listen to the baby's cues? At some point in a family, you fall into certain routines. Even if you don't mean to. We do not sit down for a family dinner every night. More often, I am in the kitchen either cleaning or cooking, and the boys are at the kitchen table eating. I talk to them while they eat, and I used to say things like, "How was your day?" "How was school?" Then  I read somewhere that you can get more out of your child by asking the right questions. 

So every night, for a while now, I have been saying, "What was your favorite part of today?" and "Was there anything bad that you remember from today?" These questions usually get a canned response from the 6 year old, "Being with my family" and "Missing you while you were at work." Cue the horrendous mom guilt. I know he doesn't mean it negatively, but rather- he really does enjoy his family, and that is great! The 3 (almost 4) year old runs down every detail that he remembers. "We went to tumbling, then we had chicken tacos, then we walked to the park, then this, then that." I usually know EXACTLY what happened during HIS day. 

Last night, the two older boys and I sat down together for dinner. I had thrown together a box of Annie's Shells and Cheese- their favorite. I hadn't even thought about what to make for myself, and the hubs was going to be late. I smiled at the two boys, and found my mind wandering to what I needed to get done that night before I went to bed. Then Mayhem (the 3 year old) says, "Mama, what was YOUR favorite part of today?" He looks at me with his cherubic cheeks, and a very serious look on his face. He is really listening. It completely catches me off guard, in a good way. Is that the face that I make at him? Do I patiently wait for him to respond? I think I do, but today I am not doing a very good job with that. 

I stopped worrying about what to cook, what to clean, and what to pack up for tomorrow. I told him, "Right now. This is my favorite part of today." The moment was lost on him, and it passed quickly. He chattered on about his first day back to preschool. "My friends missed me SO MUCH! Ms. Pat told me that I am doing GREAT writing my name..." and I just smiled, and listened. I write about these moments here, so that I can look back and remember these little details. These little, treasured moments in time. In this New Year, I hope I can take the time to enjoy these far too brief pauses in the chaos of my life.
Jacob, Baby Liam, and Mayhem

Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 Christmas Recap

Christmas break is over and 2015 is here. Looking back on the past couple of weeks, it was pretty eventful! I hope you enjoyed some time with your family and friends, and are having a wonderful new year! Here is what happened at our house...

Christmas Eve crew, in Grandma and Grandpa's motorhome
Christmas Eve, my husband had to work. So I took the kids over to my parents' house to hang out with my siblings. The boys wanted to take a ride in Grandma and Grandpa's 'big bus' - so that's what we did! The kids love riding around in it, and the baby enjoyed the couch (only while parked, of course!). Then we celebrated in the evening with my husband's family. 

Irvine Regional Park
On Monday, December 29, Uncle John was hanging out with Mayhem, the baby, and I. Little J had a birthday party, and he was gone ALL DAY! My husband was working, so we had some time to go enjoy the sunny California weather.

Christmas Day was spent at Grandma and Grandpa's house, with Auntie Kim (Pictured above with the baby) and Uncle John (Pictured above with the Ergobaby) and my cousin Mike and his girlfriend Kristin. Great food, great company, and happy memories of the baby's first Christmas!

How did you celebrate?