When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. We have all heard this over and over and over again, and to be honest, I was getting sick of hearing it. Over the last 6 months, I felt as if I was handed lemon, after lemon, after sour lemon but had no access to water or sugar, so lemonade was impossible, only sour lemon juice was left. And I didn’t even have a juicer.
It wasn’t that things were horrible; it was more like we just couldn’t catch a break. Things at work became so busy and heavy that 70-hour workweeks were normal. The kid activities of parties in school, field trips, soccer practices and games, dance recitals and shows were sucking up every ounce of our time and homework was a battle every single day.
But then something happened…. we made lemonade. Literally. Here’s my story.
Our daughter wanted to make lemonade. I have never made lemonade before and I complained and whined about it saying we could just buy lemonade from the store. “No” she exclaimed and refused to drink any pre-made lemonade. I found a recipe that looked easy enough with lemon juice that you could buy at the store…again a resounding NO came from my normally sweet daughters lips…demanding only freshly squeezed lemons be used.
I felt like the world was squeezing me like a lemon, and I had no lemon juice to give. I have to work 70 hours or more a week, roll out a brand new system at work, be positive, train people, show up to dance shows, be engaged with soccer, and fight and win the homework battle every single day. Then with whatever was left of me, I needed to cook dinner, feed our family, pay bills, clean the house and pretend to be happy while doing it. The last thing in the world I needed was to make stupid lemonade that I could buy at the store.
Then the craziest thing happened, my friend invited me to join in a produce co-op. It is a DEAL. $25 every 2 weeks and you get the biggest crate of produce you could ever imagine. So I joined in, thinking it would save me oodles of time at the store, and I would be providing local, healthy, organic food for my family…at least I would be doing something good for them if I didn’t have time to spend, the fruits they ate would be good.
Well wouldn’t you know it….I get this enormous crate of food home and underneath the apples, and peaches, and watermelon are 12 Lemons.
I kid you not. It was like the universe was yelling at me ”Make the freaking lemonade!!!!” But you know what I did?
I didn’t make lemonade.
I gave 7 lemons to my mother in law so she could make lemon bars, and used some lemons for salad and tea, but the remaining lemons just stayed there, in the fridge. Every time I opened the fridge I heard them holler “Hello….Dani….we’re here! You just need sugar and water!” But I ignored them, for a week, then another week, then finally at the store my daughter looked up at me and said very calmly and kind, “Mommy, we have lots of lemons at home, can we please make lemonade?”
I almost broke down and cried. Yes, we have lemons…lots of lemons. Lets make lemonade.
It was at this moment, with my shopping basket in hand, planning out the weeks dinner in my head with all my other “to dos” screaming at me…that we tucked ourselves out of the way in the store, and looked on my phone for recipes, there were plenty but many required a blender (which I don’t own…I know crazy right?) or hours of mulling….but then this nice and easy recipe popped up. I knew it had to be good, it was from Paula Deen and I would imagine she makes exceptional lemonade. But most importantly, it was easy and I could do it.
We removed the mint from the ingredients list, and made sure we had everything else. While shopping, my daughter timidly asked, “can we invite Grandma and Grandpa to dinner?” I decided we would have a gallon of lemonade based off of the recipe, so sure, we might as well invite some folks over to help drink it. I was cooking anyway so it will be a nice treat!
We got home, invited the in-laws, started dinner and then started on the lemonade.
What happened next still surprises me to this day. As we were squeezing the lemons, I calmed down. I had been like my own little tight lemon, all full of sour juice and squeezed into my tough skin, but as I cut each lemon and we hand squeezed the lemons as I didn’t own a juicer I found myself calming down. With every lemon we would roll it on the counter, slowly cut it, pick out the seeds and juice. Then squeeze again to see if we could get any last bit of juice out.
We talked, we giggled, we laughed and we squeezed. Every last drop of those remaining lemons we could get out with our hands was used. The in-laws came over right as we were finishing the lemonade and I tell you what. It was the best lemonade I’ve ever tasted. It was like our daughter filled me with sugar and water and my lemony personality disappeared.
“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Has such a new meaning to me. Life will always, always be full of lemons. Piles and piles of lemons. But it also will hand you buckets of water, and pounds of sugar if you let it.
I will never buy bottled lemonade again. And thank you to my wonderful mother in law, I now have a juicer too.
The recipe that follows can be found here through Food Network. I made very minor adjustments mainly removing the mint, however if you’re a mint fan, please add it back. I bet it would be delicious.
Paula Deen: Lemonade Recipe (Mint removed)
2 cups sugar
1 cup hot water
2 cups fresh lemon juice
1 gallon cold water
In a 1 gallon container, place sugar and hot water, and stir until sugar dissolves. Add lemon juice and cold water to render 1 gallon. Stir until well mixed. Pour lemonade over glasses of ice and enjoy.