Sunday, November 30, 2014

When Life Gives You a Bag of Lemons...

We visited family over the holidays. Among the things we brought home was a bag of lemons. I love to use lemons. I start the day out with a warm eight ounce glass of water with the juice of one-half of lemon. I use it when I am cooking. Lemons are great for fresh lemonade, lemon meringue pie, etc... Needless to say, I love my bag of lemons!

A bag of lemons presents one problem for me. Faster than I can use them, they get hard and lose their ability to provide much (or any) juice! Since I hate to waste anything-wasted goods and foods are money lost to me-I take care of my lemons right away!

First, I get out my citrus juicer and juice all the lemons that I will not use in a couple of days. I am always careful to remove the seeds, Then I pour the juice into ice cube trays, place them in the freezer and let them freeze. When they are done, I put all the frozen lemon juice into a plastic bag. Using a black marker, I date the bag and place it in the freezer.

When I need lemon juice, I remove the amount I need from the bag. Each cube is close to one tablespoon. I usually let it melt. When I am making my morning drink, I just put the lemony ice cube into the cube and let it melt.

If you bake or cook with recipes that require lemon zest, make some before you juice the well-washed lemons. Dry it or freeze it!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Creative Christmas Gifts for Kids-Cheap but Great

Once upon a time, a young single mother told me she was devastated because she couldn't give her daughter a big Christmas. I reminded her that children learn what we teach them. Keep Christmas simple when they are kids and they will not get greedy, sure-to-disappoint ideas for gifts when they get a little older (at least not as often.) It proved to be true for her. How about you? What are you teaching your kids to expect?

Okay, so I am old enough to think every grade school child does not need to own a lot of technology. I still think hands-on gifts are the best and, if they include time with you-even better. There is no greater gift you can give a child than time spent with him or her. This year, when you are putting your gift shopping list together, consider at least one or more of the following ideas.

Craft gift: This is an easy gift to put together.  Craft papers-like construction paper, copy paper, drawing paper or card stock are needed.  Include colored pencils, watercolors, charcoal pencils, watercolor pencils, crayons, finger paint or markers. It doesn't need to be all of them.  One or two will work.  Add scissors, glue, glitter, yarn, ribbon or anything else that you want to add. Adhesive foam letters are inexpensive and fun. Foam frames, bookmarks and squares are all available at the dollar store.

Science gift: Go to the library and copy some simple, yet fun experiments onto colorful note cards. Put all of the ingredients for each experiment together in a separate plastic bag and either put each card in the correct plastic bag or staple it on the outside of the bag. Again, at the dollar store or your local chain store, you can buy empty plastic containers to store liquids. Snack bags are great to hold items like baking soda.

Construction gift: A simple hammer, nails, screwdriver and screws are great gift starters. Add scraps of wood, wood glue, craft glue, cardboard cut into different shapes, from squares to rectangles to circle. Save empty containers, bottle lids, paint, foam or poster board, hooks, chains, rope or anything else that can be used to build anything the imagination can conceive.

Cooking gift: Find a few simple recipes that a child can bake. Write them on his or her own recipe cards and put them in a recipe box. Add all the dry ingredients the child will need. Include their own apron, pan, bowl, spoon and measuring cup. While an Easy-Bake oven is a great toy for a young child, this kind of gift knows no age limit!