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.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Kids and the Art of Giving Them Control While Maintaining Control

There is no need to engage in power struggles or battles of will with young children who are seeking to exert their independence. 

1. Learning independence is a very important and necessary step for young children.
2. Allowing, and teaching, correct independence is a very difficult but necessary step for many parents.

With a little bit of forethought, you can help your kids learn decision-making skills and lessen verbal tug-of-wars at the same time ----- simply by offering choices.

Choices that are all acceptable and agreeable to you!

  • Would you like to wear this outfit or this outfit?
  • Would you like to take this toy with you or this toy?
  • Would you like to have peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and honey?
  • Would you like to skip to bed, walk backwards to bed, or take giant steps?
  • Would you like to take your nap now or after your bath?
  • Would you like to eat your carrots or your salad before you have your French fries?
  • Mommy needs some time to talk on the phone (or needs some quiet time, or whatever), would you like to look at books or listen to a tape?
You are showing respect for them by neither demanding --- nor asking them to decide from a "field" that may be too broad for them to even be able to cope with.   'What do you want to wear" or "What do you want to eat" may be beyond their ability to make a quick decision and may be even frustrating. It also leaves the door wide open for them to request something that is not acceptable to you. What happens then?

By giving specific choices between two or three acceptable choices, you are giving them the opportunity to make a choice. . .  at the same time you are staying in control of the situation.

Words are important and the seemingly little difference in what word you choose to use will make a BIG difference in the outcome.

Use the word "WHEN" instead of the word "IF."

"You may have ice cream when you finish your dinner" instead of  "You may have ice cream if you finish your dinner.

Do you see the difference?

WHEN is a reward! and  IF is a bribe.

Psychologists tell us we have lost our power when -----
  • We act inconsistently.
  • We let our children intimidate us.
  • We let our children manipulate us.
  • We let our children put us on guilt trips.
  • We let our children learn they can out-argue us or at least out-last us.
  • We try to be peers rather than parents.
Psychologist James Jones suggests that when a child disagrees with your request or decision, the simplest way to handle it is by saying "I know you don't like it but nevertheless (or regardless)...," then repeating the request or decision.  

And, he says to repeat the same phrase over and over (and over) as long as necessary, keeping your voice level and conversational. By doing this, you are acknowledging their dislike while at the same time closing the argument gap. They will probably be frustrated; you will be in control. 

If you implement these tools while your children are young they will quickly learn that:
you mean what you say. . .  
your rules and expectations are consistent. . .and 
so are the consequences. 

Your battles will be over, or over quicker, for the most part. Trust me----and the professionals on this.

If your kids are older and the battles are an everyday part of life, please don't give up. It is never too late to start, it will just be a little harder. Even when they fight it tooth and nail, and though they would never admit it in a million years, kids long for clarity and boundaries and the security both provide. 

Trite but True: It is never too late! Nothing is impossible; impossible just takes a little longer.

Those who do too much for their children, will soon find they can do nothing with their children. 
                                                                                                               Neal A. Maxwell

Cracking the Egg Myth---Using Substitutes, and More

Things Chickens Would Rather YOU DID NOT Know

They have never given us a straight answer on which came first. . . 
They have tried to stymie us with why one crossed the road. . . 

And, probably, they would croak cackle if they knew what I know . . .
and am about to tell you.
They might fear for their jobs--or being reduced to part-time like much of the rest of us.

Yes, it is true----cakes will rise and foods will thicken without an official egg. Many common pantry items can be used in place of eggs in baked goods, even though their added nutritional value will be lost. Each of the recipes below equals one egg. If two or three eggs are called for, increase the recipe accordingly.  Do NOT make a batch to keep on hand.

It would be wise to experiment now, before need arises and a variety of items are available, to see which you prefer.

For each egg needed, place  one heaping Tablespoon whole flax seed in a blender and blend until it becomes a fine meal. Add 1/4 cup cold water and blend 2 to 3 minutes until thickened and has the consistency of eggs.

Unflavored Gelatin:
Prepare right before starting recipe for cookies, cake, etc.
For each egg needed, combine 1 teaspoon plain unflavored gelatin (like Knox) with 3 Tablespoons cold water and 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon boiling water.

The following information was taken from http://www.pioneerthinking.com/cooking/solutions/eggsub.html

No one should eat foods containing raw eggs. This includes "health food" milk shakes made with raw eggs, Caesar salad, Hollandaise sauce, and any other foods like homemade mayonnaise, ice cream, or eggnog made from recipes in which the egg ingredients are not cooked.

To make a recipe safe that specifies using eggs that aren't cooked, heat the eggs in a liquid from the recipe over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 °F. Then combine it with the other ingredients and complete the recipe.

What is a good substitute for eggs?

Ener-G Egg Replacer - follow directions on box.
2 tbsp cornstarch = 1 egg
2 tbsp arrowroot flour = 1 egg
2 tbsp potato starch = 1 egg
1 heaping tbsp soy powder + 2 tbsp water = 1 egg
1 tbsp soy milk powder + 1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water = 1 egg.
1 banana = 1 egg in cakes.
1 tbsp milled flax seed and 3 tbsp water = 1 egg. Light, fluffy cakes!

 Homemade egg substitute recipe
Homemade egg substitutes are less expensive and just as satisfactory (as commercial products). They also have few calories. Here's a low cholesterol egg substitute recipe:

1 tablespoon of nonfat dry milk powder
2 egg whites from large eggs
4 drops of yellow food color

Sprinkle powdered milk over egg whites, then beat them with fork until smooth. Add food color, and beat until blended. This makes 1/4 cup, which is equal to 1 large egg. If you use this homemade substitute for scrambled eggs, cook it in vegetable oil or margarine so the eggs won't be too dry.

Thanks to Pioneer Thinking for the above.

Powdered Eggs
Eggs are an important source of high quality protein but to store long-term they need to be in powdered form.* Powdered eggs would be a good addition to a pantry. They can be purchased in cans, usually one-gallon, and stored in a cool room of your home, they will store for up to 10 years. After they are opened, they will keep for 12 months.

If you make any baked goods from commercial mixes, you are likely already using powdered eggs. Once you try using them, you'll find they are very handy for everyday use. They are less messy than fresh eggs and the possibility of the Salmonella bacteria is eliminated. Commercial bakeries use them to get consistent results from their baked goods. 

Since powdered eggs are pasteurized, they can be used to make your own mixes without worrying about spoilage. They are perfect for camping, also.

Measurements for Using Powdered Whole Eggs
To use them in your favorite recipes, just add the appropriate amount of egg powder** to the dry ingredients, and then add the additional water to your liquid ingredients. 
1 egg   use 1 T whole egg powder + 2 T water
2 eggs use  2 T + 1/4 cup water
3 eggs use 3 T + 1/3 cup water
4 eggs use 1/4 cup whole egg powder + 1/2 cup water
6 eggs use 1/3 cup  + 2/3 cup water
8 eggs use 1/2 cup = 1 cup water

*There are many Internet sites that will tell you different ways to keep fresh eggs for a long time but that is something you will have to check out for yourself if you are interested. 
**Often I will "smoosh" the egg powder through a fine strainer to make it finer, but I am not sure that is necessary. 

Powdered egg whites are also available. They are great for meringues and decorating icing.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eggs are $2 a Dozen! Making Treats w/o Them---Priceless!

I was in the mood for baking a treat when I went to Wal-Mart today to buy eggs. Instead I went into shock when I saw the eggs were $2 a dozen.

Less is More--Creative! Cheap! Priceless!

I left the store without the eggs but with a plan. As soon as this plan is posted, this cheapskate is simply going to make a treat that is more chocolate-y with less calories*, less expense* and with less energy expended (time and fuel).

* there are 90 calories in each 17 cent egg!

No Bake Cookies
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 T. margarine
3 T. cocoa powder
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
pinch of salt
3 cups uncooked, quick-cooking oatmeal

Combine sugar, milk, margarine and cocoa in large pan. Bring to hard boil and boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter, salt and vanilla. Add oats and mix well. Working quickly, drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Let harden. Makes lots!!

Mint "Scout" Cookies (without the order form or sales pitch)
Chocolate "almond bark" or coating
Peppermint oil (do not use extract)
Ritz-type crackers

Carefully melt coating and stir in  peppermint oil to taste (tiny drop by tiny drop because it is very potent)
Dip crackers, one at a time, into the melted chocolate. Let excess drip off and place on waxed-paper covered surface to harden.

Mildred's Peanut Butter Pinwheels
Combine one cube melted margarine with about 2 to 3 cups powdered sugar. Place between two pieces of waxed-paper. Roll with rolling pin until you have a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Remove top paper and spread surface with creamy peanut butter. Starting with long side, gently roll up jelly-roll fashion. Cut into small slices. Chill.

And if you are willing to turn on the oven . . .

Quick Cake   (an old family stand-by)
Into a greased 9x13 pan add:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
6 T. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp salt
Top with:
10 T. salad oil
2 T. vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups cold water
Stir until combined and nearly smooth. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Cherry-Pineapple Dump Cake
1 large can crushed pineapple
1 can cherry pie filling
1 box yellow cake mix
3/4 cup crushed nuts, if desired
1 stick margarine, sliced
Butter 9x13 pan. Dump in pineapple with its juice. Top with pie filling (spread over pineapple---don't stir). Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over filling. Sprinkle with nuts, if used.. Place margarine slices randomly over top. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Serve with whipped topping or ice cream if desired.

'til we eat again,
Simply, Gail

P.S. Tomorrow I plan on covering  EGG SUBSTITUTES +

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Solving the Daily Bedtime Nightmare

Was it just our kids or do all kids fight bedtime?

There are many nights I would love to go to bed at eight or nine o'clock. Why do most kids fight it so? I doubt if ours were the exception. They prolonged bedtime as much as possible. Here is how we capitalized, somewhat, on this procrastination.

After each child was in bed either Dave or I would go to each one and talk to them, asking them what their best thing was that day. Since they wanted to avoid "lights out" they usually had something to share with us. We rarely spent more than a minute or two with each one but it was usually "quality" time, allowing us to both tuck them in and leave them with a pleasant thought before going to sleep.

On a few occasions that moment opened the flood gates and we discovered some unhappy deed or worrisome question a son or daughter was struggling with. At those times, the minutes extended into well-worth-it hours. Dad, mom and child would go into the kitchen and talk----perhaps over a cup of hot chocolate.

Hot Chocolate Mix
11 cups instant powdered milk
6 oz. jar non-dairy powdered creamer
16 oz container instant chocolate drink mix
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Combine and store tightly covered in a large container. To serve, fill a mug or cup one-third full with the mix (or to taste) and stir in hot water.

Gourmet Hot Chocolate

  • Top with marshmallow or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  • Create your own gourmet beverage by adding cinnamon, peppermint, orange, or other flavorings to your cup of hot chocolate. The flavored commercial packets cost at least 50 cents for a 3/4 cup serving!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011



Becoming Creative and Cheap --- part two

Two days ago I wrote that while we have been broke most, if not, all of our lives, you would have to call it “intentional.” That really needs explaining. I doubt if it will be what you are expecting.

I am not going to give you “the plan” for living broke and usually enjoying it. I can’t. Times were different “back then” and making changes to return to those times could be difficult, and in a few cases possibly even impossible. However, any changes, even little changes—even one or two changes— to simplify your life to create more time as a family is well worth it.

Our world and our life styles create stress! Previous generations experienced physical stress. Tough, physical stress, for the most part and for the majority of us,  is not part of our daily lives. I think what has replaced it is worse.

How is Was
We were pretty much two average people when we met— average in every way.  Getting married and having very little was hard at first. But I took it as a challenge. And I think, if I could choose just one word that made our life rewarding and good it would be CHALLENGE. For the most part I didn’t let things, or rather lack of things, get me down. I took it/them as a challenge. To me, having a challenge is something I can tackle — it is an action word that overrides “not having.”

The Five Words and Three Steps


and we can emotionally raise to new heights easily by---

1. Changing our way of thinking.
2. Looking at our glass as half full rather than half empty.
3.Counting our blessings of all that we have, rather than focusing on all that we don’t.

Three simple no-cost things we can concentrate on to change our situations!

Happiness is not having all that you want.

Happiness is being happy with all that you have.

And no matter how little we have, no matter how trying our circumstances, the poorest  in the United States of America have far more than the richest of those in most other countries.

Dave was in the Army National Guard when we married and was home on a ten day leave. At that time we made three important decisions about our future life:

1. He would go back to college as soon as his National Guard responsibility was over, working towards a teaching degree in English.

2. We would move away from our families and start out on our own. This may seem weird because we got along great with our parents and new in-laws but we just felt it was important to start off totally on our own, learning to depend on each other.(Because of an illness we only lived  “far away” for six months but it did give us the start we wanted, and we have recommended it to each of our kids as they married.)

3. When we had children, I would be a stay-at-home mom, if at all possible. (It was easier to do back then, I admit, but definitely do-able.

You notice, by Dave’s major that we never had high expectations of wealth!

Our First Few Years
Dave went to school and I worked.
Heidi was born 18 months after we got married.
I stayed home, Dave worked during the day and went to school in the evenings.
We wanted our kids close together so we set about bring this about.  (We thought a one-year-old would be grown up---I am not kidding you about this—we were, euphemistically speaking naive.)
RD was born on Heidi’s first birthday!!!!  Heidi wasn’t even walking!
Dave’s work and school schedule stayed the same for a few months.
We decided that was too slow so Dave started back to school full-time days and I started working full-time swing shift in a factory while he watched the kids and studied.
After a while I became ill and had to quit work. . .so, Dave had to quit school and go to work full-time. We put the idea of a teaching degree out to pasture. He applied to, and after grueling training, graduated from the Los Angeles California Sheriff’s Academy.

The Next Years
We hadn’t liked the time we had to be apart during this work/school period but we knew it was for a relatively short time, and for a worthy goal, so we accepted it.

With this new career we made our 4th important decision. If/when optional over-time was offered he would always refuse. We would make do with what we had. His co-workers clamored for any over-time they could get and thought Dave was nuts. They couldn’t understand how we valued our time together as a couple and as a family more than all that extra money could bring in.

This simple stitchery reminds us that truly, no matter who we are or what our circumstances,
 "The greatest work  we will ever do will be within the walls of our own home."

After seven years, employment took us to the Mid-west where we stayed for 20 years. The pay was much less but we continued with our no-over-time policy. It wasn’t easy but we felt, and still feel, it was well worth it. Sometimes we had to find small part-time jobs but we worked together and as the years went by our children worked with us (four years after RD, we had four more boys at two-year intervals).

Okay, that is our life and obstacles in a nutshell.

Yes, life was simpler and gentler in those days.

Simpler because we were just beginning to get “modern conveniences” to ease our housekeeping responsibilities and gentler because. . .well. . .because it just was.

We didn’t have minute-by-minute stresses from throughout the entire world because we didn’t have instant satellite reporting on everything bad throughout the entire world—24 hours a day. And when there was something important  happening we had to physically sit by a radio or television to learn about it! Or, we received the news from someone by way of our cord-attached-to wall telephone, when we were at our home.
We weren’t hounded with constant media hammering of all the things we had to have and/or the credit cards to satisfy this impulsiveness.
And, we did not feel entitled to anything we didn’t earn or couldn’t afford.

Today we have a great number of wonderful, time and labor-saving devices. (Dishwashers in our day, were our children, even when they had to stand on a stool.) But, you must admit, we have many more unnecessary (Notice I am not saying useless— there is a difference!) gadgets, things, and stuff than we need.


Following is a list, not in any particular order, of how it was “in those days.” As you read each, you can make the comparison and the decision as to which way (yesteryear's or today's) is best in the long run.

Dinner was regularly a sit down meal at home at a consistent time.
Fast food places were just coming into being (our area had one of the first McDonald’s and In-and-Out’s; Pizza and Mexican foods were in speciality restaurants.
Eating out was a special occasion and/or treat, not a way of life.

Kids did not have every hour of every day filled with planned activities.
Participation in high school sports, cheer-leading, and other activities did not require previous years of organized teams and classes as a prerequisite.
Neighborhood pick-up games were common, and for the most part, unstressful. (There was an occasional fight!)
Children did not have to be entertained--- they found things to entertain themselves
There were very few channels/stations on the television and most went off by midnight.
Holidays were celebrated on the day they occurred, rather than an excuse for a three-day week-end.
Play clothes were for play and not for school.
Children used their imaginations.
Graduations and Recognitions/Trophies were reserved for real accomplishments.
Not everyone was automatically “a winner” of some sort in every situation.
Toys were toys and clothes were clothes—NOT advertising gimmicks or extensions of movies or such..
Play and toys required inner creativity, rather than being  “scripted” by commercialism.

You didn’t regularly “Shop ‘till you drop.”
Malls were non-existent.
Clothes shopping was a special occasion, usually reserved for back-to-school and Christmas.
Sales were occasional and “real” and you waited for them. Specific items went on sale at specific times of year (i.e. You waited and bought your sheets, towels and such at the annual January white sales.)
Stores closed at five Monday-Thursday. They were open until 9 p.m. on Fridays, 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and were never open on Sundays. And, everyone was able to get their shopping done.
The day after Thanksgiving was the start of the Christmas season.
The week before Christmas stores stayed open until 9 p.m. every night, except Sundays.
Mail-order catalogs were rare — the main two being Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward, and they were treasured and dreamed over.
There were no credit cards.
Stores had lay-a-way, where you could put a down payment on a dress, etc., pay a little on it each week, and take it home when you paid it off.
●     Stores didn't have bridal registries that printed off pages and pages of items the store had enticed and assured the young couple they "must have" at all costs (even the necessity of various utensils in a variety of sizes and huge serving size pieces for a crowd), basically turning a sincere gift-giving occasion into a gimme of commercial "this is exactly what I want and I want it now!"
When you started out on your own, you made do with a few simple pieces of hand-me-down furniture and slowly worked up, paying as you went, to “what your parents had obtained over the years.” You did not even consider starting off with everything.
Home ownership was something for the future when you had a down payment and the money to make the payments, and hopefully, a reserve for upkeep and emergencies.
Large families lived in small houses, shared bedrooms and bathrooms, didn’t have play rooms or family rooms, or theater rooms----and did just fine!
Sharing provided/taught many positive attributes.
The television was in the living room and families decided together what they would watch, and they would watch it together.
Purchases was needed, not just wanted.
Basic models did the job just as well as top-of-the-line models—with less to go wrong.
Items were built to last and to be repaired. When something did break, homeowners at least tried to fix it before they replaced it or did without. Sadly, today most things, in all areas, are built to be un-repairable, and even more sad, no one even tries.
The “blessings” of air-conditioning, home entertainment and garage door openers curtailed the blessings of neighborliness and community.
Family outings were usually participatory activities, not spectator---hikes, playing at the park, lawn and board games. . .

How Change Can Be Made---Rate the following in your life.
1. Can you honestly ascertain between needs and wants?
2. Can you categorize the things in your life between  necessary and luxury? 
3. Are any of the things in your life, in reality, an intrusion?
4. Would life, in every aspect - time, money, etc. - be better without some of these things? 
5. Are instant gratification and instant communication really all they are promoted to be?

Our Later Life:
We continued this pattern of living even to the point of Dave retiring 24 months early, at a significant loss of retirement funds----because there were things we wanted to do while we still had the energy to do them. It was still hard and for us it was still worth it.  Dave is now accepting  “overtime.” He is over the “Biblical" allotment of years - 3 score and 10  (Psalms 90:10). And I am not far behind.

And we honestly, both the good and the bad, wouldn’t change a thing! It is hard to believe that anyone would be thankful for difficulties but we are hopefully stronger and  better, for them.

We are thankful to report that none of our kids have “gone in to debt.” They have gradually acquired their needs, and their wants, as their incomes have allowed. Their kids have also shared bedrooms and bathrooms and bikes and cars, and most everything. They have moved up in home size or enlargement as needs and money were available.

No matter how bad life may seem at times, life is generally good. I hope these cost-nothing ideas and thoughts will help your day-to-day life. I hope they have helped you see that "free" is also priceless!

Until next time,
I am Simply, Gail

Monday, August 29, 2011

Alternate Lighting and Cooking Sources and How Long Each Lasts

Information you need to determine what, and how much, you need to store for an emergency.

The following Emergency Preparedness Information was prepared by Jennie Smith

Candles and their Burning Times
Household emergency candle- 5" tall x .74" burns - 5 hours and 30 minutes
3/4" diameter X 4" - 2 hours and 20 minutes
7/8" diameter x 4" tall - 5 hours
2" square - 7 hours per inch (4" tall will burn 28 hours; 9" tall will burn 63 hours)

Life of Flashlight Batteries in a 2-battery light
Well-known brands of batteries were used for testing.
New batteries ran continuously for 7 hours
Batteries that were seven months old ran continuously for 5 hours

Fuel Consumption in Lanterns and Stoves
Coleman, two mantle gas lantern was used for testing. Burning at the rate of 5 hours per day, the following amounts of white gas would be used:
Per day - 5/12 of a quart Per month - 3-1/8 gallons
Per week - 2-1/2 quarts Per year - 38 gallons

Kerosene Lantern with a 1" wick was used for testing. Dietz Lantern information states that this device will burn 45 hours on one quart. Burning at the rate of 5 hours per day, the following amount of kerosene would be used:
Per day -    1/9 of a quart Per month - 3-1/13 quarts
Per week - 7/9 of a quart Per year - 10 gallons

Coleman two-plate gas burner was used for testing. With both burners burning for 4 hours per day, the following amount of white gas would be used:
Per day -    1 quart Per month - 7-1/2 gallons
Per week - 7 quarts Per year - 91 gallons

It's Simply, Gail, inserting herself here to add an important note regarding canned fuel for stoves, etc.  Not all camp stoves and fuel containers are created equally...or at least compatibly.  Be sure the fuel containers you buy fit your stove. The "connectors" between different brands are often not compatible. Some of our family members learned that the hard way earlier this summer after hiking, with all their gear, six arduous hours to the bottom of the Grand Canyon to  Havasupai Falls.


Consult distributors of fuel, or government agencies that would have information on the proper storage of fuels.

Since this page of information is from another source I did not want to infringe on it, but feel it is very important to let you know that OLIVE OIL AND CANOLA OIL WILL NOT BURN BY THEMSELVES, even if accidentally tipped over, ---A GREAT SAFETY FEATURE

Upon learning this, Dave and I experimented and confirmed  that we could not light a puddle of either oil. We also learned they both produce very little, if any, odor or smoke. During this initial experimentation, after keeping three different sizes of  jars/wicks burning steadily for 7 hours and 45 minutes, each had only consumed 1/4 inch of oil! We now keep these jar lights in our home ----at the ready.

There are a variety of sites that show you how to make a variety of oil lights. Watch for the Creative Cheapskate post on what we found was the easiest and most effective.