a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Becoming Creative and Cheap---part one

You already know the WHY it is becoming more important to become creative and cheap. This post is to help you see--- 
the way it can be done. . . 
how you can survive when obstacles get in the way . . .
and how, by having the right attitude, challenges can be beneficial and fun!   

Because we have been broke, mostly intentionally* for most of our married life, life has been challenging.  Fortunately, it didn’t take me long to not only rise to the challenge but to love the challenge. Now, even though money is not so tight, I still love seeing what I can make myself instead of buying.

*I’ll explain in next Tuesday’s post -- Becoming Creative and Cheap -- part two

In some of the Copy-Cat posts you will see pages that appear to be from a book (sometimes, unfortunately, placed a little crookedly). If plagiarism flashed through your mind you can relax because they are from my books! Around 1995, I began writing and self-publishing a series of what I called "bookettes" because I didn't think they qualified as official books. Each title began with the word Simply. . . I hope they helped a lot of moms and homemakers.

In today's world the need for learning, or returning to, simple things is becoming more and more important---more and more of a necessity. Each day the challenges are becoming increasingly more challenging. 

Today’s new technology is the only way I can share my ideas and what I have learned with a lot of moms and homemakers.

I have always been technology challenged and trying to understand, even a tiny bit, what the 21st century has to offer, has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever faced.

In spite of the obstacles this wonderful God-inspired world-wide-web and other electronic technology presents me with, Dave and I feel very strongly that I am being guided and that sharing what I have learned is what I am suppose to do at this time in my life. It certainly wasn't in my plan and I am most certainly not doing it alone.

I owe many, many thanks to those who helped me get here.

our daughter-in-law Cheri for suggesting I do this --- (when she suggested it, less than two months ago, my response was a sincere and emphatic  “You are out of your mind!”)

my boss Mary from 20 years ago (who originally introduced me to the computer) and who suddenly, last month, reappeared on the scene and not only encouraged me but taught me, by e-mail, how to do a blog ---

my good friend Sandy who has patiently spent many hours by my side teaching me there is much more to a computer than word processing —

my sister Pat for unknowingly providing us with the title of our original blog:        “2 Coats of Paint.”
Years ago she accused Dave and I as being as tight as two coats of paint, which back in those days meant downright cheap.
Our new title seems to better sum up who I am and what I am about--- especially since we discovered our kids and younger friends were clueless as to a definition other than you “get better coverage if you use two coats of paint.”
Actually we were, and still are, and still prefer to think of ourselves as creative, frugal, and okay--- cheap! Creative Cheapskates!

the three small town newspapers in the Midwest who were brave enough to take a chance on me and publish weekly Simply, Gail columns — and to the faithful, supportive readers who followed the column regularly.

Dani, the editor of Desert Saints Magazine, who published my articles for years, and has given me permission to recycle them. Many of the articles I post here had their beginnings in it's monthly Simply, Gail column. Acknowledgment will be the bottom of those articles. The originals are in the archives section at www.DesertSaintsMagazine.com. ---

our kids, their spouses, and our grand-kids for their enthusiastic "go for it!" ---

Dave, my best friend, biggest supporter, and totally (it seems) honest critic (when I ask for it!)
Dave had been an English major and my major was journalism — back then journalism was “just the facts: the who, what, when, where, and why, and only in feature articles was opinion and speculation allowed— so our academic styles were like comparing apples to oranges.
We hadn’t been married long when he asked me to edit his seven page assignment. Without much effort, and not thinking about the apples/oranges thing, I quickly reduced it to a concise four pages!  Oops!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kids and Dogs and . . .

the SIGNS of our changing times.

Sometimes when we open our front door the person on the other side is laughing and we are taken aback. Then we remember why.

As you probably already know, we have six kids. Only one is a girl. We also have five "in-law" kids, and 13 grandkids and one great-grandson. Only two are girls.

Over the years, we have had four DOGS: Pinky, Amanda, Lady, and Koko --all girls!

Pinky couldn't stay with us long because when she came to us she was a tiny Weimaraner with cute pink eyes. She quickly grew to where she would literally mow down our 3 and 4 year old kids as she ran to greet them. Pinky was bigger than they were and she was still growing. They weren't growing at the same rate.They were petrified.

Amanda was a lively Dalmatian with beautiful blue eyes. We couldn't keep her because our yard couldn't keep her, in spite of a high fence.

Lady, totally lived up to her name, all of her days. She was an abandoned shepherd mix and stayed with us us until she died on the 4th of July---apparently scared literally to death by loud fireworks when she was home alone.

We took her loss really hard and figured that was the last of dogs for us. The kids were growing up and busy with their own lives. Heidi, our firstborn, was leaving for college.

Just after Heidi moved out we got a call from a family that had a pure bred Lhasa Apso they couldn't keep. We really weren't interested in small dogs but decided to "just go see."  When we opened the car door to get out, Princess Koko jumped in---into our hearts as well as our car.

The boys all loved her. Heidi pouted that she had been replaced so quickly!

We had Koko for 13 years and when she became so old and ill, there was no choice but to have her put down. We held her as the vet injected her. It was so hard. Thankfully it was very quick and totally peaceful.  The boys were grown and out of the home by that time and we were empty nesters. We felt our dog days were over.  And they most definitely were!

Four years later I happened to be reading the classified ads---something I rarely do. And, I just happened to be reading the Pets section---something I never did.

The description sounded just like Koko. We decided we'd take a short 45 minute drive "just to go look." Two of our sons were visiting and they just laughed.

This dog "Puppy" had been in the animal shelter's small cage for 13 days (They said they just couldn't bring themselves to put him down as was the shelter's practice, at that time, after a week. Happily, now the shelter is "no kill."). He was a fairly frequent visitor so they knew his name. He was filthy, and smelly and . . .

We drove, making a few stops,  until we could find a groomer that could take him right that minute and it took the groomer three washes until the smell was gone. Nine years have passed. Puppy is about 13 now and while we dread "the day," we live for the now and the wonderful companion and friend he is.

We were, however, totally correct when we said we were through with dogs!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

27 Practical, Cheap, and Simple Household Hints That Have Been Around For Years

 But First. . . 

 I met Stevie when we were in junior high school. We remain good friends and yesterday she sent the following, asking if they would be beneficial to those who read my blog. Stevie received these tips from another friend, Virginia, who I have known since kindergarten! (That was 1947!) Virginia said they came from an 85 year old woman who goes to her church.

Some of these down-to-earth household hints were familiar and were great  reminders, and some were new to me. They are all so simple----and so practical. Amazingly, except for the Dawn dish-washing liquid and the aerosol air-freshener, all of these products were available "way back then." And like the Energizer bunny, they are still going and still going strong.

Today, we are inundated with products that claim we need them, specifically them, to do the same jobs-expensively! Yeah, right!

Now, to the question that accompanied the e-mail:

How Many of These Do YOU Know About?


Use Empty toilet paper roll to store appliance cords. It keeps them
neat and you can write on the roll what appliance it belongs to..


For icy door steps in freezing temperatures:  G
et warm water and put
Dawn dish washing liquid in it. Pour it all over the steps. They won't
refreeze.  (Wish I had known this for the last 40 years!).


To remove old wax from a glass candle holder, put it in the freezer for
a few hours. Then take the candle holder out and turn it upside down. The
wax will fall out.


Crayon marks on walls?
  This worked wonderfully!  A damp rag, dipped
in baking soda. Comes off with little effort (elbow grease that is!).


Permanent marker on appliances/counter tops (like store receipt
BLUE!) rubbing alcohol on paper towel.


Whenever I purchase a box of S.O.S Pads, I immediately take a pair of
scissors and cut each pad into halves.  After years of having to throw
away rusted and unused and smelly pads, I finally decided that this would
be much more economical.  Now a box of S.O.S pads last me indefinitely!
In fact, I have noticed that the scissors get 'sharpened'' this way!


Blood stains on clothes?  Not to worry!  Just pour a little hydrogen
peroxide on a cloth and proceed to wipe off every drop of blood.  Works
every time!  


Use vertical strokes when washing windows outside and horizontal
for  inside  windows.
  This way you can tell which side has the streaks..
Straight vinegar will get outside windows really clean.  Don't wash windows                                          
on a sunny day.  They will dry too quickly and will probably streak. 
Spray a bit of perfume on the light bulb in any room to create a lovely
a light scent in each room when the light is turned on.


Place fabric softener sheets in dresser drawers and your clothes will
smell freshly washed for weeks to come.  You can also do this with towels
and linen.


Candles will last a lot longer if placed in the freezer
 for at least three
hours prior to burning.


To clean artificial flowers,
 pour some salt into a paper bag and add the
flowers.  Shake vigorously as the salt will absorb all the dust and dirt
and leave your artificial flowers looking like new!  Works like a charm!


To easily remove burnt on food from your skillet
, simply add a drop or
two of dish soap and enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bring to
 boil on stove top.


Spray your TUPPERWARE with nonstick cooking spray
 before pouring
in tomato based sauces and there won't be any stains.


Wrap celery in aluminum foil
 when putting in the refrigerator and it will
keep for weeks.


When boiling corn on the cob,
 add a pinch of sugar to help bring out the
corn's natural sweetness.


Cure for headaches:  Take a lime, cut it in half, and rub it on your
forehead.  The throbbing will go away.  


To get rid of itch from mosquito bites, try applying soap on the area
and you will experience instant relief.


Ants, ants, ants everywhere.  
Well, they are said to never cross a chalk
line.  So, get your chalk out and draw a line on the floor or wherever ants
tend to march.  See for yourself.


Use air-freshener to clean mirrors.
  It does a good job and better still,
leaves a lovely smell to the shine.


When you get a splinter,
 reach for the scotch tape before resorting to
tweezers or a needle.  Simply put the scotch tape over the splinter, and
then pull it off.  Scotch tape removes most splinters painlessly and easily.


Now look what you can do with Alka Seltzer...
Clean a toilet.  Drop in two
Alka Seltzer tablets, wait twenty minutes, brush and flush.  


Clean a vase.  To remove a stain from the bottom of a glass vase or cruet,
fill with water, and drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets.


Polish jewelry.
  Drop two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and
immerse the jewelry for two minutes.


Clean a thermos bottle.
  Fill the bottle with water, drop in four Alka


Unclog a drain.
  Clear the sink drain by dropping three Alka Seltzer
tablets down the drain followed by a cup of  white vinegar.
Wait a few minutes, and then run the hot water..


Do your friends a favor.
  Pass this timely (and some not-so-timely)
information on to a friend! I know I just did.
 Thanks Stevie and Virginia.         

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What If . . . Disaster Strikes and


Rarely will I post on the same topic two days in a row. This is one of the exceptions.

Yesterday's post was a What If. . .? on keeping safe personally.

Later yesterday, for the East Coast, the words " What If" were taken out of the equation. The people of the area were fortunate. Very fortunate! Yesterday, over and over, the news commentators kept urging listeners to have a plan for themselves and their family. Earthquakes give no warning! None! Nada! If you don't have a plan there is no time to plan! You are out of luck. It's that simple.

I recently read an estimate  that only 40 percent of Americans have given much thought, let alone preparation to an emergency. Amazingly that 40 percent probably includes Californians and those who live in other earthquake prone areas! That would seem incredulous but if I were a betting woman, I wouldn't bet against that being the case!

The other news topic, interestingly enough, was of the approaching tropical storm Irene---expected to become a serious hurricane within the next few days---days that allow time to make a plan if there is none in place. Irene is in the areas that expect hurricanes---and still, amazingly you read each time of stores being depleted of the basics at the very last minute.

In Southern California, on October 15, 1962, my roommate Maureen and I, both caught up in our own world and naive to the things of the world, went to the store to buy bread and milk. To our amazement the shelves were practically bare. Why? The Cuban Missile Crisis - A potential event (2299 miles away) affected us that quickly!

There are many sites on the web that can help you learn how to prepare and sites that will tell you what the first 100 things to disappear off store shelves will be.  Not surprising, the sites for both topics will list different things and give different opinions, but. . . they will give you a place to start. . .ideas for what YOU need to do to take steps NOW, before a need arises.

My posts have already covered water and emergency sanitation. Future posts will address lighting, 72 hour kits/go-to-bags and much more.

Planning takes time and effort and it has to start somewhere.  I'm going to start you here with some of the most basic of the basics. Simple things you can step away from the computer and do right now. For some, you won't even have to leave home. Put those things you already have, where they can be reached immediately--- and then go out and buy the rest of them as close to immediately as you can.

PLACE a flashlight and batteries by each bed! (battery-operated "touch lights" are also a good bedside addition.)

PUT a pair of hard-soled shoes next to each bed!

GET a manual can opener!
About 40 years ago we interviewed families who had been snowed in, and without power, for several days following a blizzard. It was a great learning experience for them. Most had lots of canned foods on hand. Several did not have manual can openers!! And that was 40 years ago when electric convenience "things" were just coming into their own!

KEEP some nourishing canned foods on hand that you can eat cold if necessary!

STORE some bottled water, or fill your own clean bottles with water!

Is is also good to:

DETERMINE a specific place where your family is to gather immediately if evacuation of your home is necessary!

FIND out where the gas and water and power shut offs are in your home and how to shut them off!

Please, step away from your computer----and do something to prepare. Your peace of mind (now) and comfort (at time of need) will definitely benefit. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What If . . . 20 Warnings and Practices That Could Save your Life!

While the odds of something happening are remote, it is very important to consider, in advance, things you could do to help yourself if faced with an emergency situation. These tips are not presented to cause you to be overly afraid but to make you aware of possibilities and the precautions you can take and  actions you can implement if the need ever arises.  If they are thought out beforehand chances are great that they will be automatically recalled in a time of need, allowing you to act “instinctively.”

As the world continues to increase in darkness, it becomes increasingly important to be cautious. Desperate and drug-crazed individuals do not wait for what we would consider logical (i.e. isolated) locations or times to make their moves.

It is very important to always listen to your intuition or the promptings you receive.  This is usually the Holy Spirit whispering to you. DO NOT IGNORE THESE FEELINGS even if you feel they are inconsequential or would cause possible embarrassment.

1. IT IS ALWAYS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY. (And better paranoid than dead!)


3. IT IS IMPORTANT TO ALWAYS BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS, whether alone or with someone, whether walking for exercise or pleasure, or going to and from your responsibilities or activities — even in familiar and common areas; even in daylight.

4. USE EAR BUDS & OTHER ELECTRONIC DEVICES WITH  GREAT CAUTION. Whether you are walking or stationary, these can cause dangerous distractions making you  less in tune to promptings,  less aware of your surroundings, and  unaware of suspicious noises and activity --- ALL MAKING YOU EASY PREY FOR A CRIMINAL!

5. Tae Kwon Do Tip: The elbow is the strongest point on your body. If you are close enough to use it, do!

6. If a robber asks for your wallet and/or purse, DO NOT HAND IT TO HIM. Toss it away from you...Chances are that he is more interested in your wallet and/or purse he will go for the wallet/purse. RUN LIKE MAD IN THE OTHER DIRECTION!

7. If you are ever thrown into the trunk of a car, kick out the back tail lights and stick your arm out the hole and start waving like crazy. The driver won't see you, but everybody else will. This has saved lives.

8. Women have a tendency to get into their cars after shopping, eating, working, etc., and just sit (doing their checkbook, or making a list, etc. DON'T DO THIS!) The predator can be watching you, and this provides the perfect opportunity for him to get in on the passenger side of your car. MAKE IT A HABIT TO LOCK YOUR DOORS AND LEAVE AS SOON AS YOU GET INTO YOU CAR.

9. If someone is in your car when you get in DO NOT DRIVE AWAY FROM THE PARKING LOT! Repeat: DO NOT DRIVE AWAY FROM THE PARKING LOT! Instead gun the engine and speed into anything solid, wrecking the car. Your Air Bag will save you. If the person is in the back seat they will get the worst of it. As soon as the car crashes bail out and run. It is better than having them find your body in a remote location.

10. ALWAYS lock your car; even when you leave it for just a few minutes----                                

11. and ALWAYS re-lock it as soon as you get in it.

12. ALWAYS have your keys out and at the ready when going to your car. And, if anything seems amiss, as you approach, push the alarm button on your key. This may scare the perpetrator off, or at least attract attention in your direction.

13. ALWAYS be aware--look around you, look into your car before entering, both on passenger side floor and the floor and seat in back. Glance under your car as you are approaching it. Individuals have been known to hide under the car and slash your Achilles Tendon, disabling you, as you go to open your door.

14. ALWAYS enter your car from the passenger door if you are parked next to a big van. Most criminals attack their victims by pulling them into their vans while the women are attempting to get into their cars.

15. ALWAYS look at the car parked on the driver's side of your vehicle, and the passenger side. If a male is sitting alone in the seat nearest your car, you may want to walk back into the mall, your workplace or wherever you were and get a guard/policeman to walk you back out.

16. In a multi-story building you should take the elevator instead of the stairs. In our health-conscious society, stairs seem the ideal way to get a bit of exercise, but stairwells are lonely and provide an easy crime spot. This is especially true at night.

17. If the predator has a gun and you are not under his control, ALWAYS RUN! The predator will only hit you (a running target) 4 in 100 times; and even then, it most likely WILL NOT be a vital organ. RUN, Preferably in a zig-zag pattern!

18. Women are always trying to be sympathetic: STOP!  It may get you raped, or killed.Ted Bundy, the serial killer from the 1970's was a good-looking, well educated man, who ALWAYS played on the sympathies of unsuspecting women. He sometimes walked with a cane, or a limp, sometimes wore a fake cast, and asked “for help” into his vehicle or with his vehicle, which is when he abducted his next victim.

19. BE AWARE IN YOUR HOMES — Don’t automatically act on the “out of the ordinary.” Individuals intent on doing evil are inventive!  Keep your car keys by your bed and if you hear noises or something that concerns in the middle of the night, press the key alarm.  (Try this in your home during the day to see if you are close enough to your car to set the alarm off. I was amazed when I learned about doing this, and I was doubtful it would reach that far, but it did.) Stay alert and keep safe. Again, the police would much rather respond to a false alarm than a tragic event.

Situation One: A woman heard a crying baby on her porch late one night so she called the police     because she thought it seemed weird. The police told her “Whatever you do, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR..” The lady then reported that it sounded like the baby had crawled near a window. The policeman said, “We already have a unit on the way, whatever you do, DO NOT open the door.” He told her that they think an attacker has a baby's cry recorded and uses it to coax women out of their homes thinking someone dropped off a baby. He said they have not verified it, but have had several calls from women reporting baby's cries outside when they're home alone at night.

Situation Two: If after dark you hear, or are awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of your outside water faucets running or what you think is a pipe that has burst, DO NOT GO OUT TO INVESTIGATE! This ploy has the attacker turning on your outside taps full blast so that you will go out to investigate and he can attack.

20. ONCE AGAIN----

We are children of our Heavenly Father. He leads us, guides us, and walks beside us, and helps us find our way.          

We need to live our lives so the Holy Spirit can always reach us.  We must always be available and receptive to the Spirit. It is very important to always pray for guidance and listen to all of the promptings we receive.

We must never IGNORE THESE FEELINGS.  We must never feel these warnings are inconsequential.   We must overcome our natural inclination to help when the Spirit tells us otherwise---even when doing so seems rude.

Sharing this information with loved ones and others may help save them from misfortune.

 A special thanks to Betty S. and others who contributed to this important message.

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Recipes Using Sweet! Juicy! Ripe! Peaches

Last week I bottled a variety of peach jams --- over 40 of them (bottles, not varieties!).  Peaches pair wonderfully with so many other fruits.

And there were still more peaches, so I made cobblers. One is in the freezer. I freeze peaches but I have never tried freezing a cobbler. I am anxious to see how it thaws out. The others were shared with friends and neighbors. Plus, this cobbler, which was my mother's recipe, rates right up near the top on Dave's list of favorite desserts so there is never a problem with leftovers.

Sweet! Juicy! Ripe! Peaches
          photo courtesy of freeimages-photos.com/fruit-vegetable

Fresh Peach Cobbler                                       
3 cups sliced peaches
brown sugar to taste        
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
6 T. melted margarine or butter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter 10" glass pie pan. Add the sliced peaches and stir in brown sugar to taste. Combine thoroughly (or sift) the dry ingredients. Stir in beaten egg until mixture is crumbly. Top peaches with mixture. Drizzle melted butter over top. Bake 30-40 minutes.

This next one is also one of my mother's recipes.

Fresh Peach Sherbet
Pitted and peeled peaches to equal one pound
3/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups milk (Mom used powdered milk mixed with water*)
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 egg whites, beaten until stiff peaks form

Put cut up peaches, milk, sugar and extract in a blender. Pour into a bowl and fold in egg whites. Pour into shallow dish or bread pan and freeze until slushy (about 2 hours). Transfer to a chilled bowl and beat to break up ice crystals. Return to freezer, until ready to serve. Makes about 1 quart.

*If you use powdered milk you can mix it in the blender with it's water, before adding the remaining ingredients. I love saving steps and not dirtying another dish!