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, October 14, 2011

#3 Give the Gift of Self . . . Not Stuff

Give a gift that keeps on giving—in the form of personalized coupons.

The skies the limit when you are giving coupons to your spouse or special loved one.

Many things money can't buy!
Recap: To get started just think of things you would appreciate if you were the recipient. Next,
think of things your spouse would like to receive and make a coupon or coupons for those things!

What special things does your spouse love?
Back-scratching, nail polishing, hair brushing or shampooing, massages?
Do it to them!

What chores does your spouse dislike? 
Car washing, lawn mowing, trash putting-out?
Do it for them!

What do they really like to do that you don’t care for?
Long rides, tennis, TV sports, action movies?
Do it with them!

What special real-effort-to-make treat do they love? 
Make it for them!

What are some special things you could do together? 
Make plans to do them!

Ideas for spouses are probably limitless, memorable, and often of much mutual benefit and enjoyment, with priceless value.

Presenting the Coupons                                            
More often than not, offers of services can be jotted down in a simple note format. Sometimes, the notes can be attached to a small item that ties in with the service. 

You can make your coupons any size, with any wording you choose. Above is an idea from coupon books I have made.

If you have a sewing machine, you can un-thread it and "stitch" down the left side of the coupons           to make "perforated" coupons. (Run the sewing machine at least one-half inch from the left margin so you have plenty of area to staple the booklet together.)

You can complete the coupon book by making a front and back cover. Sandwich your pages between the covers, staple it together, give it away and watch for it to come back to you----coupon by coupon.

I will conclude this series with an idea for coupons that were given to us many years ago. They were a special treat!

FROM the Babysitter: We had our regular babysitters give us coupons on special occasions for an evening of no cost sitting. Or they went the extra mile and offered to feed the kids their dinner and bathe them, do the dishes and pick up the house, as an extra gift to us.                                      

One time we found a coupon tied to our steering wheel after we picked up the sitter which read “This one’s on me!”

These are simple gift ideas because I am Simply, Gail ---- and I have learned that "little" things mean a lot!

This series of three posts has been  excerpted from http://www.desertsaintsmagazine.com/magazine_articles/Dec2003/DSM%20Dec%202003.pdf

Thursday, October 13, 2011

#2 Give the Gift of Self . . . Not Stuff

More Coupon Ideas-----For Those Who Live Away

Give a gift that keeps on giving—in the form of personalized coupons.

An offer for a future service is usually most welcome, especially when they are away.
Those who are away will especially welcome periodic contact!

Recap: To get started just think of things you would appreciate if you were the recipient. Next, consider what you are willing to do, like to do or do well, and combine the two.

For those away, the coupons would be different but with a little thought, there are still a variety of options.

Someone Moving Away: A promise to write every week, month, etc for a set period of time. No matter how friendly new neighbors are, moving from an old neighborhood is hard and letters are a welcome "upper."

For a Member of the Military, Missionary, or College Student: Let your imagination, their situation, and your relationship with that individual be your guide. Coupons can be provided for any number of items---letters, cookies, photographs, phone calls, or even new socks. They could be sent periodically or the recipient could redeem their coupon when they wanted the item.

Grandparents (or other relatives) who live alone or a distance away: Again, a promise to write as above---every week, two weeks, or a month, etc. Maybe include a photo when you can. Write a postcard if that is all you have time to do. You could even use the photo as the postcard!   I know your free time short and hectic, and I also know in many cases, their free time is long and lonely.

Even in this day of electronic correspondence and the telephone, there is something very special about a letter. 

Even in this day with the speed of all the
electronic correspondence and the telephone, 
there is something very special about 
receiving a letter.
     Years ago there was a short film "The Mailbox." Often I can't remember something I saw or read yesterday but this film I have never forgotten.
     An elderly lady lived alone on a rural country road. It was quite a long walk to her mail box but she made the effort every day, only to be disappointed----day after day. Occasionally there was a bill but nothing else. Her mail carrier would apologize if he was delivering when she happened along.
     Her children called her faithfully every week but she said it just wasn't the same. A letter you could hold and see and read--and re-read when loneliness became too much in between the phone calls.
     Finally there was a letter. She clutched it as she excitedly, and gingerly, made her way back up the long rough driveway. She eased herself into the chair and opened it.                                                                                                                                                          

And fortunately, she passed on before she could read it. Her children had written to tell her they were would be there the next week----to move her to a nursing home.

Tomorrow will be the final post in this three part "series."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

#1 Give the Gift of Self . . . Not Stuff!

It’s a gift-giving occasion! Often gift-giving time is stress time. Especially if the recipient "already has everything!" Doesn't want anything! Or you are short on time and/or money!

Give a gift that keeps on giving—in the form of personalized coupons.
An offer for a future service is usually, and universally, most welcome.

An offer for a future service is usually most welcome. 

To get started just think of things you would appreciate in a given situation, consider what you are willing to do, like to do or do well, and combine the two.

IDEAS to get you started:
Since we are usually deluged with goodies during the holiday season, consider giving your friends a  coupon for that goody--- redeemable about mid-January, when their larders are depleted and your time is freer.

Bride to Be: Copies of your favorite simple, seasonal treats, redeemable at the appropriate month throughout the year.

New Mother: What new mother wouldn’t appreciate an hour or two of babysitting (either with the new baby or if she has other children, taking them for a designated period of time), a casserole or special dessert at a time down the road when the attention has worn off and she is back in the grind, or maybe even a vacuuming of her home.

Young Family: An offer to take the children to the park or the library or wherever suits your fancy for an afternoon. The kids would love it, the parents would adore you.

Elderly or Home Bound: Coupon for lawn mowing, errand running, housecleaning, a special treat, or just simple periodic visiting.

Care Giver: If the situation is such that the care giver can leave you in charge for a period of time, they would truly appreciate an hour or two for themselves. If they cannot leave, you can offer to come over and read to, write letters for, brush the hair of, simply visit with the confined individual, or do whatever is needed—giving the care-giver an at-home break.

Child’s Teacher: Teachers need help with projects, bulletin boards, tutoring, or other classroom assistance, much more than they need “stuff.” Just pick the activity/help you feel comfortable with and the time you are available. Or, if  you are game for anything, give a coupon letting the teacher choose what she could use help with.

New Neighbors: If they are not familiar with the area you can give a coupon offering to show them around the town and a tour of the area; provide them with a list of local businesses and services that you have found economical and satisfactory; help for a project around their new home; a meal on a hectic day; or an invitation to come over and visit with you and some of the neighbors.

Tomorrow I will continue the gift of giving self----to those who are away. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Say Yes!!! to this Skinny Dessert

I really relate to this cartoon because years ago, between Independence and Blue Springs, Missouri on Highway 40, there was a gas station where the pumps were covered in a shiny silver reflective metal just like a mirror----except, unlike my mirrors, it reduced my reflection----my size proportionally!!! I have no idea how that was accomplished but I know the manufacturer would have made a fortune if they realized what they had accomplished. They locked in my business because as I pumped the gas I could see my high school shape! Pumping gas was never before, nor has it ever since, been so rewarding!

I was recently searching allrecipes.com (my favorite recipe go-to-site) for a simple mousse recipe. Many of them sounded great, but none sounded this simple. It was rated 4 out of 5 stars so that was pretty good.  The recipe contributor was Eagle Brand.

One of my favorite things about all-recipes is the addition of comments from those who have tried the recipe. Reading what others say, or recommend, is usually very helpful. This time I hit the jackpot!

Two readers changed the original recipe, by using all non-fat/non-sugar products and swore you could not taste the difference. I had my doubts but figured it wouldn't hurt to give the almost no-calorie, no fat version the first try.

Wow! Rich, creamy, rich----no funny aftertaste, no pudding taste----just rich and creamy. I could say almost decadent but I don't want to exaggerate.  

You can go the full-artery-clogger version at 382 calories and 16.5 grams of fat per serving if you want, but I can't imagine it would be any better. Definitely, not that much better. 

I thank Eagle Brand for their recipe but I used all off-brands with total success and great cost savings.

Skinny Mousse
60 calories and zero fat (one reader calculated it to be one Weight Watcher point---her favorite number!)

1 (14 ounce can) no-fat sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1 cup cold water
1 (4-serving size) sugar-free chocolate instant pudding mix
1 (8 ounce carton) sugar-free frozen whipped topping, thawed

In large bowl, combine condensed milk and water. Add pudding mix. Beat well. Chill 5 to 10 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Spoon into serving dishes. Chill. Garnish if desired. Store leftovers, covered, in refrigerator. 

Makes 8 servings (it is so rich this is the first time I have ever found a half-cup serving of anything to be enough at one time!) 

A third person commented  she has used several different flavors of pudding and white chocolate is her favorite. (I hurried out and bought a box.) She also said the mousse made a great filling for cakes. I tried it with a fudge cake!!! The seven people we shared the cake with agreed with her.

And I am thinking what a combination with diet-friendly angel food!

'til we eat again,
Simply, Gail

Monday, October 10, 2011

We Have Become Addicted to Frenzy!

When all our kids were at home and our schedules were hectic I cherished the first day of each month---the one day, for a few minutes anyway, I could turn to a new-empty-unscheduled calendar page. And those were simpler times!

I have posted and posted on how over-booked we have become and how too much of a good thing is not a good thing.Recently the Deseret News(paper) ran a feature by a young mother who is, herself, in the thick of frenzy. I think it is worthy of inclusion here. 

Tiffany Gee Lewis lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is the mother of four boys. She blogs at thetiffanywindow.wordpress.com.

In the Whirled 
"At the beginning of a recent week, I looked at my calendar with surprise. Besides the requisite errands, my week was surprisingly empty.

"In a near-panic, I did what any self-respecting person of the modern era does: I called friends and volunteered to watch their kids. I called other friends and planned outings. I invented errands just to get out of the house. I decided to repaint my office, spray paint a bedside table and end the week by throwing a harvest party in the backyard.

Addicted to Frenzy
"Only after the week’s end, when I was dutifully exhausted and overwhelmed, did I look back and realize what I had done. I had once again fallen prey to society’s addiction frenzy, the frenzy that comes from finding merit in a crammed schedule.

Ask people how they’re doing these days, and a common reply is “Busy!” As if busy has now become an emotion right along with happy, sad or fearful. . .We wear our chock-full calendars and to-do lists like Boy Scout merit badges.

"I feel this pressure especially from mothers. All the phone talk and park talk is of the multiple demands for our time. These are the bragging rights of parents today, and it’s hard not to feel a little inferior if you don’t have every night of the week booked with soccer, karate, piano, dance lessons, math club and tutoring. If I let my kids play outside after school, spinning circles and drawing with sidewalk chalk, I feel the guilt creeping in, especially when I see other mothers in their SUVs driving back and forth to basketball practice.

"We feel guilty, even when we hear more studies about how over-scheduling our kids turns them into adults who don’t know how to navigate the real world. There is still a sense that we’re missing a key part of life if we don’t drop into bed at night exhausted from the day’s activities.

A Lose-Lose Situation
"The ironic part, of course, is that no one benefits from this arrangement. The world is not getting happier. Everywhere I go, I see moms with tight, fatigued faces. Kids don't seem particularly pleased, either. The complaint I hear from my kids when I’ve scheduled one-too-many activities is, “Mom, I just want to play.” Oh, yes, that. Better put it on the calendar before I forget.

"Of course, being busy in not the crime. The problem comes when we try to find purpose in simply filling our days. My dad has a phrase: “transfixed by the tangential,” that he likes to use in referring to this modern-day phenomenon.

Making White Space
"When I worked as a newspaper editor, we talked a lot about “effective use of white space.” When you put together a newspaper page, you don't crowd a page with text and photos, because a reader’s eye needs some breathing room, some white space. Likewise, we need to make a concerted effort to find that white space in our lives.

So here’s a challenge: 
"Take a family walk after dinner. Sit on the back porch and watch the leaves drift down from the trees. Turn on music and listen with your eyes closed. Read poetry out loud. Pick one activity on your calendar and find a way to remove it from your life.

"It’s not easy to put the brakes on. It means saying no to a lot of good and worthy activities. It means being comfortable with some blank space on that calendar.

"Last week, in the middle of another busy day, I took my toddler on a walk to the lake, where we stood at the water’s edge and threw rocks.

"It felt supremely indulgent. After a token 10 minutes, I felt the to-do list attitude start to creep up on me. There were rooms to paint, people to serve … and then I took a deep breath. This was living, right here on the banks, skipping pebbles with my son. Listening to the plunk of each stone, watching the water ripple out in concentric circles — it was downright addicting.

Now that’s the kind of addiction I can live with."


Times are hard there is no doubt, and some are hurting more than others. If you can't cut out, please search for ways to cut back.  As much as it is possible, put aside the things of the world, and spend as much time as you possibly can with those
who make up your world.
Give up what matters now for what matters most. Their lives may depend on it.