Tuesday, February 28, 2012


For about five years, I have organized a semi-annual clothing swap at my Church. It has been such a blessing to me and to my friends! You get to clean out your closet of the items you no longer want, and you get new (to you) items for free! It's also such a fun night. Here is the breakdown of how it works:

We lay out all the items in categories. Our categories are tops, pants/shorts, dresses/skirts, coats/jackets, jewelry, shoes, bags/belts/scarves/misc accessories, and home decor.

This is the back part of the "tops" section. We fill the pews' seats and backs.


If you like an item, you sign up for it. There is a sheet of paper on each pew. You describe the item and then put your name next to it. If another person likes the item, they can also put their name next to it, too.

Once you've signed up for everything, go eat some refreshments. (It's more fun if you hang the cookie out of your mouth, like Aimee!)

Put everyone's name on a piece of paper and lay it on the floor. Go through each list of items. If only one person signed up for the item, it's theirs! It goes to their pile. If more than one person signs up for it, it goes in one big pile to divy up later. (This part takes mere minutes when everyone helps).

There are two ways that we have divied up the items that more than one person wanted.
1. Everyone draws a number. The person who drew #1 goes to the pile and picks one item of their choice. The person who drew #2 goes the pile next and picks one item of their choice, and so on. Everyone then draws a new number. This way is quick but not very fun...we've only done it this way once.

2. I hold up an item, and everyone that wants it stands up next to me. I then ask them a question such as "What's your favorite ice cream flavor?" They whisper their answer in my ear and once I have all the answers, I announce them to the rest of the swappers. The other swappers then vote for the answer they like best. Whichever person's answer gets the most votes, gets the item. This way takes a while but is much more fun.

The items that were not picked by anyone get donated.

I encourage you to start your own swap. It's a great way to get a new wardrobe without having to spend any money. Some of my favorite clothes are from previous swaps! It also forces you to clean out your closet, and other people benefit from it with the donations.

Please let me know if you have more questions, or if you want me to remember you when we have the next Swap!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Small Changes to Eating Healthier

Lose weight! Be healthier! Here are some very easy, small changes that can help you to get a little healthier, and possibly lose some weight.

1. Eat Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. You are not going to lose weight by skipping breakfast. When you don’t eat for long periods of time (for instance eating dinner, then not eating again until lunch the next day) your body will hold on to anything extra that you have on you because it does not know when it will get food again. Also, eat the appropriate food for each meal. No pizza or donuts for breakfast.

2. Will power is over rated. If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it. Don’t buy all your favorite snacks and then rely on will power to not eat them. If you buy your favorite 5 snacks every week, next week only buy your favorite 4.

3. Switch out one non-water beverage every day for water. Make it your lunch beverage, or only allow yourself to drink non-water beverages during meals, and water during the rest of the day. Work your way to only one non-water beverage a day.

4. “Diet” food will not make you skinny. Sugar free, reduced sugar, low fat, blah blah blah, is not healthy food. Usually this means the sugar/fat/etc. is taken out of the food and either chemical sugar is put in, or extra sugar is put in to make up for the reduction in fat. Don’t fall for it. (*I believe one exception is dairy products).

5. If you want a snack NOW, you will probably grab an unhealthy snack because it’s quick and easy. To avoid this, prep your healthy snacks so they are also quick and easy. For instance, wash your produce all at once, and cut up your pineapples, melons, and carrot sticks, so they are ready for you when you want a quick snack.

6. Trust me, once you make the changes to more healthy food, you will start to get used to it, and you will eventually prefer it over the alternatives. For example, my whole life I would only eat white bread, I thought wheat bread tasted like dirt. Several years ago I decided to suck it up and switch to wheat bread, and it didn’t take long to get used to it. Now, I can’t even eat white bread, the taste and texture is not as good as wheat.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Presents From Nancy

At Christmas Eve Service, I didn’t give Nancy her Christmas gift, and she didn’t give my family ours. We did this every year to make us get together shortly after Christmas. She especially liked to see the Girls open their gifts. She was due to come over the Thursday after Christmas. That Thursday, I went to get a new phone, and Nancy was the first person to text me on it. She was thrilled that her nieces from out of state came over for a surprise visit! However, that meant that she was going to have to postpone our visit. That was my last conversation with her, and we never got to exchange gifts. I really wish that I would have seen her that day, but I am happy that she got to see her nieces. What a blessing it must be to them that they got to see her one last time.

On Saturday, at my Mother-in-Law’s birthday party, Nancy’s husband (our dear, “Gramps” as my kids call him) brought over the gifts. If you ever wanted to know how thoughtful and caring Nancy was, here’s a glimpse.

On the “To: From:” gift tags, she would write “Love” over top of the “From:” Because she wanted the gift to be “Love, Grammy and Gramps” not from them.

If the toy required batteries, she would do one of two things. One, she would include the batteries in the bag. Two, she would take the toy out of the box/package and put the batteries in herself. She did this with Caura’s gift, a kid computer. “Gramps” said it took them forever to get the computer out of the package, but it was a success. She wanted Caura to see it, love it, open the lid, and immediately start playing with it.

She knew Aubree loved Dora, so she got her a toy with Dora on it.

She always bought me gifts with flamingoes on it, Charleston Chews, and usually something with a cat that looks like my cat. This year she bought me paper plates and napkins with flamingoes wearing Santa hats on it. (We’ll have to come up with a great reason to use them.) She bought me Charleston Chews. She bought me a mug with shoes on it. She bought me a trio of little angel picture frames. I can almost hear her saying, “This is perfect for Denise, she has three little girls and there are three picture frames here.”

So many emotions ran through me that night. Happy that the gifts were given, sad that she wasn’t there to give them, conflicted as to whether I wanted to eat the candy and use the plates or keep them forever (I’ve already eaten the candy, and decided we MUST use the plates). Happy when “Gramps” got a huge hugs from my girls, including one from Caura where she literally flew into him and he almost spilled his coffee. The joy on his face was priceless.

She is still missed. She will always be missed. I am very thankful that she was an important part of my life. I strive to be as caring and thoughtful as she was.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hard Boiled Eggs: You Can Make Them.

Here is a foolproof way to make hard boiled eggs.

Put eggs in a pot.

Fill the pot with cold water so that there's at least an inch of water over the eggs. (Don't use a ruler, put your pointer finger on the top of one of the eggs, if the water comes up to middle of your two nuckles, then you're fine).

Put a lid on the pot. Preferably the lid that actually fits the pot. However, when you're looking for lid that actually fits the pot, make sure that your Mom's pie plate (that you kept forgetting to give back to her) doesn't fall out of the cabinet and smash to the ground.

Turn on high and let it come to a rolling boil where it steams and hisses out of the pot. On my oven, this takes about 7-8 minutes. (Sorry, didn't get a picture of this).

Take the pot off of the burner, and keep covered. For 4-6 eggs, let it sit for 14 minutes. For 7-9 eggs, let it sit for 16 minutes. For 10 eggs or over, let it sit for 18 minutes.

When the timer dings, get a bowl of ice water. Take the eggs out of the pot with a slotted spoon and put them in the ice water. This will reduce the green rim around the yolk. You can put this bowl in the 'fridge.

When you are ready to peel them, lightly crack the bottom of the egg (the rounder part), and peel!

(Yes, this is Saige's little hand, trying to get the egg).

Give it to your "cold" egg loving child for a healthy snack.