How To Quit Your Soda Habit for Good with Slim Lemonade

This is the tale of how my hubby quit his life-long soda habit by swapping chemicals for super simple Slim Lemonade. Read on to hear How To Quit Your Soda Habit for Good by sipping delicious and nutritious fresh-squeezed lemonade instead!a slim lemonade

First thing’s first, the literally easy as 1 – 2 – 3 recipe!

Slim Lemonade

3 lemons
2 quarts water
1 teaspoon liquid stevia, or sweetened to your liking


1.) Slice 3 lemons in half.


2.) Squeeze those lemons!


I prefer to use the freebie juicer above (the best things in life are free!), but any tool from an automatic juicer to a pressed juicer like my cooking idle Rachael Ray uses or even just your hands alone will work in a pinch. Woah, there are a lot of cool tools to choose from!

If hand squeezing, use super ripe, juicy lemons if possible or get a not-so-ripe lemon’s juices flowing by popping it in the microwave for a few seconds or firmly rolling it on the counter.


Collect  juices in a 2 quart pitcher.


I love the square space-saver pitchers I purchased recently but there are so many other beautiful options to choose from too. In all honestly I got new glass pitches to switch from my grandmother’s old plastic, probably BPA ridden puppies (which I obviously still used a few months ago when I first thought to share this whole concept, oops.)

3.) Fill the remaining pitcher with water.


4.) Stir liquid stevia into the lemon water, sweetening lemonade to your liking.


5.) Taste test the lemonade to ensure the sweetness is spot on.


Bring a little sunshine and a lot of good-for-you goodies into your everyday with sweet refreshing Slim Lemonade or just plain lemons.

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After hearing about all of it’s fabulous qualities, I’ve recently started keeping sliced lemon in the fridge for tea and water. These tart treats are cleansers that flush toxins out of the body, exactly the opposite of soda. Lemons are packed with nutrients and antioxidants and rich with energy, immune, nerve and brain boosters. These bright-yellow babies support heart health, aid digestion, freshen breath, plus they fight inflammation, infection, blemishes, wrinkles, hunger cravings, anxiety and depression. Apparently lemon can also help soda addicts quit the habit for good!


Before I kept our fridge stocked with Slim Lemonade, my hubby had a fierce soda habit.


While some-what on topic, I think it’s worth mentioning that back in the day, not long after entering the real world work force hubs switched to diet soda, cut out mayo and almost immediately lost 20 pounds. But that’s another story!


Over the years as we learned more and more about the nasty side effects of the harmful ingredients that make up soda, Brian decreased his soda habit to one a day, which he drank with dessert each night. He attempted substituting in homemade sodas but the carbonation level just wasn’t the same and the flavors were way out of whack.


I’m not sure why but one day out of the blue, life handed me lemons so I decided to make Slim Lemonade. Brian began replacing his daily dessert time soda with lemony goodness until he had completely kicked his soda habit for good!


Do yourself a favor and squeeze a little lemon into your life with Slim Lemonade or simply lemons! You will soon see and enjoy so many lovely benefits. Cheers, mate!

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Bake Them a Cake – Lessons I’ve Learned as a Chronic People Pleaser


I was bullied by adults as a child. (And for some odd reason, I loved to wear heels.)


Probably due in part to my chronic people pleaser habit, I attempt to exude positivity into the world by sharing the happy, healthy, fun and generally good things in my life on this blog, but the reality is not every part of my life is perfectly positive. Surprise!


I hope you don’t mind if I deviate from my normal travel, food, fun and mostly positive posts to share something, dare I say negative, that has affected my blog and the “freedom” of its content.


If perhaps you do mind, for now please focus on this warm fuzzy photo of our furchild instead and if preferred, redirect your browser to happier articles on skinny sweet recipes or recollections of sunny tropical islands.

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 Don’t you deserve to get to know me on the real life nitty gritty dirty details level? After all, I’m just like you and everyone else on this planet, not some Barbie doll who floats around surrounded by rainbows and butterflies (when I’m not in my garden, of course).


I’d also like to make it clear that I share this story not to hurt or attack anyone, but to educate people pleasers like myself and inspire self education in psychology being that the subject is not part of a K – 12 curriculum as far as I’m aware. (I’d also like to credit my mother-in-law for inspiring me to start self educating in psychology. Thank you!)

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So getting back to the story at hand, as a child I was bullied by adults, by public school teachers and an approving principal to be exact. (To be clear, I personally have not been bullied by anyone photographed here in this blog post.)


By multiple school officials on multiple occasions, I was pointedly kicked out of class and sent home to change out of skirts and dresses my mom herself had hemmed and deemed appropriate to wear while those donning clothes even shorter (and tighter, mind you) sat just a few feet away from me completely unnoticed. Dealing with such on occasion became even more difficult when I was suspended from the school’s parking lot and all after school activities the second semester of my senior year, making it necessary to walk a mile off school property to the closest public parking lot at the Dairy Freeze.


That fateful morning I had arrived a little late, was on the verge of being tardy and was hustling towards the school’s front doors when the teacher patrolling the then gravel (unmarked) parking lot called out to me that I had not parked close enough to the neighboring car and suggested I move my car. (Thanks to an article on new drivers that I helped with on the yearbook staff, I just happen to have a little proof of the parking lot situation -and yes, that is a corn field and a farmhouse in the background.)


I feel it’s important to mention that this teacher was well known for his jokester personality so I honestly thought he was joking given the absurdity of the situation. With the threat of an inevitable after school detention warranted by tardiness hanging over my head, I told the teacher I didn’t feel capable of parking my stick-shift vehicle any closer (which I honestly didn’t given the time constraints) and skurried inside the school.

Minutes after the homeroom bell rang I was called to the principals office and removed of my rights to step foot, much less park in the school’s lot and stripped of all after school activity allowances.

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Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), coincidentally I had failed to make the basketball cheerleading squad that semester after cheering varsity for 4 football and 3 basketball seasons, so sports were not a not a problem, but thoughts of the upcoming Senior Prom loomed before me.


When I went home that day to deliver the news to my parents, I feared the worst. I expected a stern talking to and restriction in some form but the only thing I can remember from that conversation was being told to “bake them a cake”. While I refused the advice, it was clear through lack of additional punishment that my parents sympathized with the unfairness of the situation. Still, I was angry at my parents for many years afterwards for putting what I considered my best interest behind what appeared to be their ego, their reputation and possibly my dad’s job as school superintendent.

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While most may think public school superintendent’s children have a leg up in the system, I hope this story once in for all proves they don’t. The average tenure of a public school superintendent back then was about 2 years. While the School Board determines the fate and income of superintendents unless they choose to leave on their own accord, my dad held his ground for 8 years before choosing to move onto greener pastures after being offered a position at the Governor’s Best Practice Center.

Now’a days I can better understand the pressure my dad was under and like to think my parents were attempting to teach me how the real world works, but in actuality regardless of their intent their lack of support towards the bullying only crushed my self esteem. Ultimately a longtime friend came to my rescue, because I was too shy and scared to ask, and basically lawyered my way into Prom. (Thank you for that, friend!)


Like an elephant, I (try really hard to) never forget kindness bestowed upon me. Every time I adorn myself with or use an item that was gifted to me, my mind automatically goes back to the gifter and I’m reminded how grateful (or admittedly ungrateful – eek, I’m only human!) I am to have that person in my life. On the contrary (and speaking of ungrateful), even though I try hard to forget all the ways people have wronged me, like good ‘ol Americans like to say these days, we will forgive but we will never forget.


It’s a funny little thing how the human mind tends to tally up all of the negative experiences we’ve had with a person once that final straw breaks the camel’s back, so to speak in terms of relationships.


 (Check out that camel hump and that hunk of a hubs my Freshman summer at Virginia Tech back in 2001! As I told him when I found this photo last night, I knew I had a camel photo but I didn’t remember you in it!! HaaaAaaay there!)

While the clarity and culmination of such is a harsh reality to face (over and over again on repeat in an OCD mind, ugh), I like to think it’s the brain’s way of sending our emotional well being a wake up call.

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By this point you must be thinking, “what in the world does all this have to do with blogging?”. Welp, not long after I started my blog I was asked to refrain from using the names of the two kids who are closest in my life, which I feel is a very reasonable request. More recently I was asked to refrain from sharing photos based on the sole purpose of protecting their privacy. Immediately I had a hard time wrapping my head around the reasoning given that the mother who made the request is a blogger herself who regularly publishes photos of those precious faces.

As seen on TV and in print, I thought the best way to protect the kids identity and therefore privacy while maintaining the blogging goal of documenting my life (kids included), moving forward I put forth much extra time and effort to share only photos that failed to show my favorite kido’s faces. I implemented a more artistic approach to my photography blocking their faces with hair, objects or in some form or another. (Like the photo below I took last night!)


Whenever the kids appeared in a group setting (like the many family style dinner table photos I like to share) I blurred or blacked out the kids in the most subtle manner possible using color shading to match surroundings, etc.


I also linked to the mother’s blog where photos of the kid’s faces are shared regularly for that purpose and for the purpose of giving the mom props for putting forth such privacy protecting efforts being that I feel her nitch of mommy blogger supporters might applaud that action.

My, what I feel were efficient if not over the top efforts of privacy protection, were only met with more restrictions. Since, I have been told to refrain from sharing links and all photos of the kids, their parents and anything or anyone inside their home in any capacity.

Based on the facts above, I felt and still feel as if I was made out to be a villain and my blog itself was bullied… As if I had shared inappropriate content that could possibly put the kids at risk or be an embarrassment to them later in life after taking special care to avoid such with all people’s photos I share.

While this person has been in my life and at nearly all of the major holidays and events in my life for 14 years, I’ve always felt they’ve kept me at a distance. In an embarrassingly desperate attempt at getting closer and in hopes that food would somehow equate to love and/or acceptance, as I was advised all those years ago, I’ve made this mother many cakes, cookies and full on meals for her family time and time again to only feel her build up more barriers between us.

Through much self education in psychology, I’ve come to terms with most of the dramas in my life and finally realized it’s no longer healthy to virtually beg those who seem to shun me for acceptance, much less bake them a cake. I have learned to protect my emotional well being by distancing my mind, body and soul from those whom I fail to “feel the love” and support in general. Thus, I’m a MUCH happier and healthier person.

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So I guess I was wrong up there at the top. This story does end happily ever after!

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How To Preserve Good Memories

Easily organize your life in 3 simple steps! …well, as far as memorabilia is concerned. Here’s a quick, easy photo guided tutorial on How to Preserve Good Memories by keeping favorite photos, notes, tickets, cards, invitations, etc. memorabilia neatly organized and displayed in prelabeled pockets of  a memory book or scrapbook.

This Organization Obsession method  to the memorabilia madness makes storing and displaying momentos SUPER easy and eliminates the keepsake clutter!

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Book, binder or scrapbook with removable, replaceable pages

Page Protectors sized to fit the book (letter, 12×12, etc.) and counted according to organization preference (annual, semi-annual, monthly, etc.)

Paper sized to fit the book (letter, 12×12, etc.)

Labeling Tool (pen, pencil, printer, labeler, etc.)

1.) Secure desired number of page protectors into the book. I organize our memorabilia by month and dedicate one book to each year.


2.) Label page protectors as desired. I like to spice-up my niece and nephew’s books by using pretty papers pertaining to and labeled with each month of the year.


FULL disclosure, I mostly use boring black and white labels on my own books. Whomp, whomp.


3.) Store book in a convenient spot making it easily accessible for storing or sharing memorabilia on the spot!


One of my most prized material possessions is our memory book collection, which (no joke) is prominently displayed front and center in the great room.

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With memory books dating back to high school, coupled with childhood albums from our parents, we have quite the collection. However, within the last few years I’ve been spending more time on making memories and less time on preserving them, thus leaving no time to organize my memorabilia.

a note board

I’d been brainstorming ideas on organizing our steady influx of endorphin inducing notes, invitations, photos, cards and mementos but it wasn’t until a couple days ago while creating my nephew and niece’s annual memory books that this ingenious idea came along.

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Preserving good memories is a great idea for kids and adults alike. I find it fun to have a book (or encyclopedia) of fond memories, treasured mementoes and happy moments on hand at home and hope this tutorial inspires others to share the same enlightening experience,  including my niece and nephew who inspired this post. The first of my many autopilot memory books went to my niece on her third birthday!


I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally neatly file away my massive amount of to-be-organized memorabilia!  As we begin to pack up and move out of our current residence, this idea of How To Preserve Good Memories literally has arrived just in the nick of time!

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30 Awesome Top Activities In Oahu Hawaii

Following is a fun photo story of some favorite memories on the most populated Hawaiian island, all organized into a handy dandy reference list of 30 Awesome Top Activities In Oahu Hawaii.

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We first visited gorgeous Oahu on our honeymoon (left below) and most recently (right below) this map dot literally happened to be a halfway meeting point for Christmas the year my parents taught in East Timor. (Indonesia’s another adventure!)

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There’s something for everyone to fall in love with on this fabulous 596.7 square mile gem in the Pacific Ocean.


1.) Surfing 


Hawaii is a mecca for surfing, especially when the big waves come out to play in the winter.260447732406

We took surf lessons on Waikiki Beach our first time in Oahu.


It was an exhilarating, informative hour of full out fun.


On the second go-round we attempted to teach my sister the skills learned from our lesson.


Our best beginner surfing tips include: don’t forget a rash guard (the name speaks to the purpose) and paddle, paddle, PADDLE …unless you’d rather just lay and look cool on a surfboard like we mostly did on that day!


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2.) North Shore 


The world famous North Shore is Hawaii’s top surf spot.


The perfect waves host countless professional surfing competitions, which lure droves each year to the more rural side of the island.


3.) Bonzai Pipeline 


Located off of the North Shore’s Sunset Beach, the infamous wave is every surfer’s dream but the dangerous rip-tide and jagged reef below threatens the worst of nightmares.

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4.) Waimai Bay

Waimai is also a popular surf spot that has a high jump rock for the double dare devils!


5.) Turtle Bay



Located on Oahu’s northern-most point, Turtle Bay boasts scenic views, luscious landscaping, a golf course, spa, restaurant and a host of luxurious leisure activities like…

6.) Horseback riding


The trail ride we took along Turtle Bay then back into the woods where television series Lost was filmed proved to be tons of fun, beyond beautiful and most definitely unforgettable.


7.) Wildlife


Hawaii is home to a hugely diverse ecosystem that houses a wide variety of unique land and sea creatures like the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal we caught napping at the North Shore.

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8.) Giant Sea Turtles 


Up close encounters with sea turtles easily rank among top favorite Hawaiian moments for many, so I’ve been told time after time and speaking from experience!


Giant sea turtles can be seen sleeping on the beaches (we saw these at the North Shore) more so in the winter)and swimming all around the island.


9.) Skydiving 

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…speaking of wild, if you’re looking for a sure thrill, skydiving in Hawaii is an experience like no other.


After signing your life away in waiver forms, jumpers are taken up up and away in a tiny plane (that’s the scariest part by far), then dropped off over the great wide open. I was completely chill leading up until that OMG moment hit right as I looked out of the airplane door and stepped out over the ocean to free falllllllllllllllllllll!


The fall is a blur of amazing mountain views and sea turtles swimming below in the beautiful blue Hawaiian water.


Eventually the wind whisks the parachute inland, an airfield quickly approaches and the ride of a life time is over in what seems like a instant.

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10.) Go Topless or Just Go!


A drive around the island of Oahu can easily be enhanced with a hair-whipping-in-the-wind jeep or convertible rental, but no matter what kind of vehicle takes the trip, even just one day of FULL island exploration is sure to be an amazing adventure.


We went all out on our honeymoon with a fun yellow jeep, then shared an economy rental on the family vacation.

11.) Pearl Harbor


The USS Arizona Memorial is a fabulous fortress that serves as a reminder of the Pearl Harbor attack, a dedication to fallen soldiers and a salute to America’s military forces.


A personal highlight from this part of our trip was seeing the USS Maryland (below), which protected hubby’s grandfather on that dreadful December 7th in 1941.



12.) Boating


Where there is water, boats are sure to be.


Oahu offers ALL kinds of boat rentals, charters, excursions, tours and more.


13.) Snorkeling


There are some amazing snorkel spots all over Oahu.


The Hawaiian waters are teeming with colorful coral, fabulous fish and yes, even coveted sea turtles which I can personally voucher for seeing in Hanauma Bay!



14.) Hanauma Bay 


Hanauma Bay offers some of the best warm water snorkeling in the Pacific and quite possibly the world. (There’s a lot of world still to explore!)


Though parking can be packed, an entrance fee applies and there’s a short informative, yet mandatory video, this amazing oasis is not to be missed!


We’ve indulged in the Hanauma Bay on both our Oahu occasions and would most definitely go back in a heart beat! The calm protected bay makes it easy to spot tons of diverse sea life.

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15.) Hiking

748627732406The island has a ton of hiking trails through an amazing variety of terrains.

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Speaking of hiking, it must be said that Hawaii itself is a hike! A trip from the opposite side of the country (the United States East Coast)  is about one flight layover and over 12 hours of travel for one way alone.

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We have frazzled pictures to prove it upon arrival (above). Believe us though, the major jet lag just makes the amazing Hawaiian experience that much more surreal, for real!

16.) Diamond Head


Diamond Head provides that iconic Hawaiian volcanic crater backdrop from Waikiki Beach and is also an awesome nearby hike.


The moderate hike up to the top is rewarded with the most beautiful vistas.


Although its’ the only hike we’ve conquered on Oahu, it’s so good we’ve done it twice!

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17.) Beaches


The most beautiful beaches big and small, sandy and rocky, public and private, narrow and wide can be found all over Oahu.


Exploring and experiencing Oahu’s amazing array of beaches can be done in a day or potentially over a lifetime!


18.) Waikiki Beach 


Hawaii’s most famous beach offers gentle rolling waves and wide sandy beaches right in the heart of the city.


19.) Swimming


The Pacific Ocean surrounding Hawaii is bathwater warm year round so dont hesitate, jump right in!


20.) Sunbathing 


The Hawaiian sun is both beautiful and brutal. Make sure to pack extra strength sun block, shades, sarong, hat, etc. uv protection.


21.) Boogie boarding


Next to surfing, boogie boarding also takes advantage of Oahu’s gnarly waves.

655175732406Boogie boarding is probably hubby’s most favorite pastime. That’s him with the yellow board!



22.) Kuhio Beach and Park


Conveniently located just south of Waikiki Beach near many eateries, shops and accommodations, the slightly less crowded Kuhio Beach and Park is probably our favorite hang out on the Honolulu side of the Oahu.


It’s also Hubby’s favorite with-in walking distance boogie boarding spot (just south of the pier).


Park benches, grassy knolls, palm trees and paved pathways along the beautiful beach are just some of the highlights here.


23.) Banyon Trees


These exciting trees with completely unique above ground aerial root systems are found alongside Wiakiki Beach and throughout the entire island. I enjoyed spotting these beauties.

24.) Honolulu


Five million (mostly from US and Japan) flock to this fabulous destination each year. As culture shock may have it on my first hop to Honolulu, I was really surprised it was just another BIG city with lots of traffic.


In fact Honolulu has ranked among the worst traffic in America BUT, just is a very large understatement of course with the natural appeal of the semi-metropolitan tropical paradise.


25.) Shopping

Honolulu houses one huge mall, department discount stores, souvenir shops and tons of ABC convenient stores that sell everything from scuba gear and sunscreen to eggs, milk and cereal.


If someone gets bit by the shopping bug, Honolulu has a remedy nearby to cure it!

26.) International Market

Expect a unique open air market of street vendors selling Hawaiian goods, souvenirs and such. If you’re in search for a treasure unique to the area, there’s a good change it can be found at the International Market.

27.)  Dole Plantation


Dole is family friendly destination offering plantation tours, the world’s largest garden maze and even a quaint cafe complete with pineapple ice cream!

28.) Pineapple


There’s no doubt, the pineapples are guaranteed to be sun ripened and freshly harvested here in Hawaii thanks to Dole. Pineapple is definitely a Hawaiian classic!

29.) Fresh Catch


Surrounded by sea, Oahu is a primo place to find a delectable array of  fresh catch! Hawaii is huge on sustainable fishing practices too, so don’t hesitate to dive right in!


30.) Sunsets


Amazing sunsets can be seen from Wiakiki Beach almost every night.


Hawaii has some of the most amazing sunsets we’ve experienced yet!



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These are just 30 Awesome Top Activities in Oahu Hawaii. There are so many more wonderful things about this one of a kind destination. Please share your favorites in the comment section!

How To Grow Pineapple

Bring the warmth of the tropics to any home with a welcoming pineapple plant! This is an incredibly easy three step tutorial on how to grow pineapple.

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Step 1: Hack off the top of a pineapple, bam!


Step 2: Plant the pineapple top in a pot filled with soil.


Step 3: Water the pineapple plant about once or twice a week as long as you both shall live.


Pineapples take about five years to start reproducing at which point both fruit and plants will start multiplying.


Since the first fruit appeared in our pineapple garden last fall, two baby plants have also popped up and are getting so big they’ll soon need their own containers.


[Check out this scrumptious Mind Full Food recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cookies!]


Historically pineapples have been a symbol of welcome and ‪‎hospitality which makes our pineapple ‪‎garden started by my mom MUCH more significant.


Opening our ‪‎home to others is a practice picked up from my parents that has truly enhanced and enriched my life. Thus, in additional to focusing on travel inspiration, we also love to share stories involving home gatherings here.


The first and only time I’ve ever seen a pineapple growing on a plant (other than ours) is at Dole Plantation in Oahu, Hawaii with my parents, sister and hubby on a Christmas holiday in 2008.


Looking back through the photos has inspired me to to start sharing travel style Throwback Thursday photo stories as a tribute to the 30 years of adventuring that took place prior to the start of Good Morning Merry Sunshine. Look for more Hawaii photos coming later this week!

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How ’bout them pineapples?!