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, January 7, 2012

Ten Suggestions for Improving Our Self and Our Self-Esteem

As I've mentioned before I have been sorting through old boxes of "keepers" in an effort to simplify and categorize.  I have uncovered some jewels. I think this one would benefit each one of us, no matter where we are in life.

10 Suggestions for Improving Our Self  and Our Self-Esteem
 We must each work to . . .

  1. Develop a love and trust for others --- Take it for granted that other people love and trust you. It then makes it easy to do the same for them.                                                                                          
  2. Take life's disappointments in stride --- Just because a person fails, it does not make that person a failure. We must accept our own shortcomings. Everyone has them.
  3. Take time for yourself --- Set aside an hour or day when you do something just for you. Read a book, set a goal, paint a picture, run a race. Learn to enjoy your own company.
  4. Solve your problems as they arise --- Take control of your life. Accept responsibility and shape your own environment. Plan ahead but do not fear the future. Be prepared to deal with most situations that come your way.
  5. Respect what you really are --- You are unique. Be yourself. There is no one like you in the entire world. Be proud of who you are. Discover and appreciate your own special talents.
  6. Feel a sense of responsibility for your neighbors --- Reach out to others. Don't push other people around. Respect the many difference you find in people. Extend your help to those who are hard to love. Offer regular and sincere compliments.
  7. Control your negative emotions --- Don't let fear, anger, worry, jealousy, guilt and controlling love prevent you from developing a positive, easy-going attitude toward yourself and others.
  8. Accept praise with appreciation --- Take pride in your achievements. Accept all compliments with "Thank you." Remember your successful experiences are yours alone. Enjoy them!
  9. Have a goal for self-development --- Branch out. Find new ways to grow and change. Learn new skills or hobbies. Attend lectures and workshops. Read. Talk to happy people.
  10. Put your best effort into whatever you do --- Find satisfaction and success in going the extra mile. Help others do the same. Become competent in your chosen profession or responsibilities. Do more than is expected. Run the race hard and smart. Set your own internal standards. Never compare yourself with others.
May each one of us remember it is important to say to ourselves

Friday, January 6, 2012

Supermarket Survival---a thrift store find!

I picked up this book at a thrift store for $1.00. I haven't had time to read it yet but it looks intriguing. It was published almost 30 years ago. Pictured here is the back of the book. The confidence of the publisher in promising a full refund increases the hope of it living up to its content (even with the refund offer  outdated!)

From the inside book flaps:
"Americans spend twice what they should on groceries according to Barbara Salsbury, consumer advocate. In Cut Your Grocery Bills in Half! she challenges some of our most time-honored ways to save money ---- like coupons and refunds. She offers new, practical and tested ways to cope with the ever soaring cost of food and commodities, inside the supermarket and at home.
. . .delves into what manufacturers, advertisers, brokers, grocers and computerized cash registers do to your food costs. You'll learn how to avoid impulse buying--responsible for two-thirds of our purchases--by learning how supermarkets are designed to "entice" you. Discover how to use your new knowledge of marketing techniques to "take advantage" of the supermarket, for a change.
. . .learn all the trade secrets of this smart shopper: from buying in bulk to deciding where to shop, from reading ads, to in-store psychology.
. . . Learn how to buy the product, not the package; how to choose a brand that costs less but has the same ingredients as the more expensive ones; how to plan meals around seasons, form a co-op, even make some of your own groceries."

The prices listed in the book are obviously outdated but the cost comparisons probably stay compatible.

I just finished checking the Internet and found 617,000 "cut your grocery bill in half" sites. When I added the author Barbara Salsbury, there were 442 results.  If this "taste" leaves you hungry to learn more --- I found there are 13 copies currently available on Amazon.com starting at $4.99.

I can't guarantee the book but I can guarantee prices are rising and feeding our families is becoming more and more difficult.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Making Jam and Jelly --- out of season

Impatiently waiting for spring...
and all the wonder it brings
Last August amid the bushels of fruits and vegetables in season, I posted some of my favorite fresh peach recipes.

Today at the beginning of January I am going to introduce you to jams and jellies that can be made during the dreary days of winter, while waiting impatiently for Spring.

Their simmering sweetness really seems to lift the spirit while definitely adding a tantalizing aroma to the home.

Orange Jelly
One 12 ounce can frozen orange juice
2 cups water
1 box powdered pectin
4-1/2 cups granulated sugar

In large saucepan, thoroughly combine thawed juice, water and pectin. Heat over high heat, stirring constantly, until bubbles form all around the edge. Immediately stir in sugar. Bring to a full rolling boil and boil hard one minutes, continuing to stir constantly.  
Remove from heat, skim off foam, and pour into jelly jars. Seal.* Makes 3-1/2 pints.

Crock pot Apple Butter
Four 25 ounce jars applesauce
4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Cover and cook on high setting for 5 hours. Remove cover and continue cooking on high setting for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally, until it is as thick as you desire. Divide into containers and store in refrigerator.

Raspberry-Peach Jam
Two 29-ounce cans of sliced peaches
One 10-ounce package of frozen raspberries in syrup
5 cups granulated sugar
One four-serving package raspberry gelatin
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Drain peaches well. Puree peaches in blender or food processor. You should end up with 4 cups of puree. If necessary, add peach juice to bring amount up to four cups. 

Combine peach puree, raspberries with their syrup, and sugar in large saucepan. Bring to a low boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in gelatin and lemon juice. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour into clean jelly jars to 1/2 inch of top. Seal.*  Makes 5 pints. 

Occasionally a batch of jam or jelly will refuse to jell (firm-up). If that should happen, do not despair. This soft-set product is now a delicious waffle or pancake syrup, or ice cream topping! It is so good this way that I have, on occasion, added more liquid to my jelly-making just so it would stay soft and syrup-able.

There are also products available under the names  instant clear jel and ultimate gel  that you can stir in to thicken any product, either hot or cold. Both are modified corn starches and are commonly used in commercial foods. It is a helpful item to have around.

*Sealing Options
JARS, specifically designed for bottling, can be purchased in 1/2 pint, pint and quart sizes. They come with lids and bands/rings. You can also use jelly jars or other heat-resistant jars or container that you have saved after eating the contents. You can seal these with paraffin wax.

Sealing with bands/rings and lids: Make sure there are no nicks on the rims of the jars. Wash them thoroughly. Wash lids and bands/rings separately. Dry the bands/rings. Before filling jars, place lids in gently simmering water.

Fill jars, wipe off rim and edge of jar, remove lid from simmering water and place over top of jar, with sealing compound next to glass. Place band/ring over and screw down tightly and evenly but without excessive force. Turn jar upside down on folded towel. When contents have cooled, turn jar upright. After 12-24 hours test for a seal: If center of lid is down, jar is sealed, band can be removed, and jar can be stored in cool, dry place.

If a lid does not seal, store the product in the refrigerator and use within a reasonable period of time. The bands can be washed and stored for reuse. Trying to reuse the lids is not recommended.

Sealing with Paraffin Wax: Thoroughly wash a tin can and crush top to form spout. Place can in a pan of water and place over low heat. Place wax in can and heat until melted. Do not allow even a drop of water in with the wax. Watch very carefully as wax is highly flammable. 

Fill jars with product to within 1/2 inch of top. Clean unfilled portion of glass to remove any jam or jelly that may have splashed. Immediately and carefully, top product with 1/8 inch of melted wax. When jar has cooled, add another 1/8 inch of wax. Tilt glass and turn until edges are completely sealed. When wax turns white it has hardened and jar is ready for storage in a cool, dry place. (I cover the top with plastic wrap to protect from dust.)

'til we eat again,
        Simply, Gail

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Dishwasher Pantry

We moved from a large home with lots of cupboards to a small home with next to nothing in the way of cupboards. And a non-working dishwasher.

We didn't care about the dishwasher not working but I did care about the space it was taking up. And, being cheapskates we didn't want to spend money having a cabinet built in its place.

For years it served pretty well as a holder of extra bowls and other large or awkward kitchen things but I longed for it to have a more productive purpose. And one day, I came up with. . .

The Dishwasher Pantry!

My dishwasher pantry is nothing fancy but, it is wonderfully functional!!!

I removed the "guts" of the machine -- the sprayers, etc, The water source had long ago been shut off so it couldn't inadvertently get turned on.

On the lower rack I bent and/or cut off the plate-holding uprights that were in the way of where I wanted to place my containers.  You can see from the photo that the shelf holds quite a few containers. The two in front hold flour and sugar (about 10 pounds of each). Smaller ones hold biscuit and cake master mixes I make up in bulk, whole wheat flour, dry milk and others I use on a regular basis.

I left all the uprights right where they were on the upper rack and filled those spaces in with spices, flavorings, baking soda and powder, and such. I wrote the spice names on the top of the lids so they are easily located.

My mixer and blender sit on the counter directly over the dishwasher --- making this its own compact and complete baking center.

We find there is great satisfaction and fun in "re-purpose-ing."  Hopefully the ideas I present help you come up with ways to make do with, or make better use of, what you already have.

Have a good day.

I am Simply, Gail

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Child's Seven Basic Needs . . . a reminder

  • Show him with your hands
  • Tell him with a pleasant voice
  • Show him with a smile
  • Tell him with kind words
  • Show him by your actions

  • Accept him for who he is
  • When he starts doing little chores, don't automatically redo them when they aren't up to your expectations
  • Do not be criticize
  • Over time, as he grows, gently work to help him do better
  • NEVER compare one child with another


  • Begin early, give him as many new experiences as possible                                                    
  • Praise and compliment your child when he earns it
  • Never shame your child
  • Prepare your child when he has to face                             something new or strange (like going to the dentist
  • Be consistent 
  • Do not overprotect 

    Be a good example
    Work on teaching  "self-control"
    Set limits early (and be consistent)
    Use when not if (if is a bribe)
    Be firm but never harsh
    Tell your child "why"
    Understand your child's feelings
    Unless it is a dangerous situation, let him experience the consequences of his actions (no matter how hard it is to "save" him---which keeps him from learning)


    • Show your child things (what is safe and not safe, what he can touch, squeeze, or throw)
    • Understand that your child is not grown up
    • Give him a five minute "heads-up" when it is time to change activities (dinner, bedtime, clean-up, etc)
    • Let him have some freedom
    • Encourage lots of play
    • Encourage him to share with others
    • Teach him that his "wants" do not always come first


    • Let him do things for himself
    • Give him things to do
    • Teach him about work
    • Encourage him to finish a task
    • Let him make a choice between two things when possible

    • Talk about your concern for someone who is in need
    • Teach (and remind) him that it hurts to be called names
    • Teach your child that it is good to help others
    • Encourage him to be polite
    • Teach him to wait his turn
    • Teach him not to interrupt
    Above adapted from a handout in the days of typewriters and mimeographs. Original author unknown.

    It is very important for each of us --- whether parent or child ---no matter who we are or where we are, to remember that we are each a precious child of our Father in Heaven who wants the very best for each of us.

    I am a child of God, and He has sent me here,
    Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear.

    I am a child of God, and so my needs are great;
    Help me to understand His words before it grows too late.

    I am a child of God. Rich blessings are in store;
    If I but learn to do His will I'll live with him once more.

    Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way.
    Teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday.

    Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way
    Teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday.
                                                                   Naomi W. Randall

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    It's that Jelly on the Woodwork & more . . .

    I quit my job last night!

    I walked right up to the boss, whose name is Dave and who happens to be my husband, and I resigned. He had just come in the door, whistled his familiar whistle, and called out, "anyone home?"

    I had a crying baby in one arm, and one was in the kitchen wailing for a peanut butter sandwich (and dinner was in 30 minutes) and the third was sitting in front of the television set, howling because he wanted two mouse cartoons instead of the usual one.

    Dave kissed me dutifully on the cheek. It was then that I gave my notice.

    "I QUIT! I've had it! If you can find anyone who will take this job on the salary I get, she's welcome to it!"

    Dave took the toddler from my arms, gave her a hello kiss, and sent her scooting. Then he put both his arms around me tight and kissed me special --- that tender kind of kiss that curls my toes and wilts my heart. "How 'bout a movie, Beautiful?" he whispers in my ear.

    I must say, my husband knows how to handle the help around here. I shudder to think what would happen if the office got wind of his phenomenal success and put him in charge of female personnel. I mentally tore up my letter of resignation and settled for a movie instead.

    Not that I don't like my job. I really do. Even though the hours are horrible. Even though the pay is... I guess I should say the pay just isn't.

    It's the future of my job that holds such tremendous possibilities. And the people I work for just can't be beat. I have a dream of a husband and three shining pink babies. No one could ask for more. It's just that sometimes it seems like too much! Sometimes it all seems too overpowering for any one woman to handle. It is not the daily routine tasks. It's not the washing and ironing and the cooking and the mending! It's life's little emergencies that keep cropping up to disrupt my busy schedule.

    We just get over a bout with measles, and suddenly the flu bug hits us. We just get the tonsils out, and somebody falls off the swing and has to have three stitches taken in his scalp.

    It's the battle of the budget. It's one new pair of shoes after the other, and the dentist calling to tell us the x-rays revealed more cavities, and the milkman subtly asking me if I got the bill or did it blow away...

    It's never finding time to wash the windows. You know that one hall window where the baby kisses the mailman through the pane? Dave passes it on the way out the door every morning, and more than once he has slyly suggested, "Better get with it." And I always say, "Yes, dear. I'll do it for sure." Notice I don't say WHEN. What I mean is, "Soon as the baby gets off to college I intend to do a lot of things around there."

    It's that permanent jelly on the woodwork. I no sooner get it scrubbed off than it takes root again. It's the cookie crumbs on the floor and the cobwebs clinging to the ceiling. It's the mud pies that get tracked across the kitchen floor. It's the bottomless sand pile that never loses its sand despite all that seems to accumulate in front of the television and beside the bathtub.

    And the bulging closets! Every December when we get the decorations out I say with all good intentions, "Now I'll clean out that closet before we put them back." And, along about March, after we're still stumbling over the boxes in the hall, Dave puts them back again, and I say, "Next year for sure."

    It's missing our vacation because we had a tiny tot, and missing it the summer before because we were expecting that tiny tot. Then the summer before that we had a tiny tot, and  before that we were expecting that tiny tot. And the summer before that...more of the same, and the summer before that....still more of the same!

    It's confining a squirming baby in the supermarket basket and at the same time keeping track of the two who are wandering through the store putting unwanted articles in the baskets of unsuspecting housewives. It's standing in line and sorting out my purchases from the boxes of cookies and animal crackers that my little helpers have seen fit to select.

    It's a collection of assorted bruises, and bumps, and skinned knees, and runny noses and untied shoe strings and "I'm thirsty's."  It's the constant barrage of "Why?"

    Do you see why I threatened to quit my job last night? It was all of these things rolled together that suddenly seemed to overwhelm me. But that was last night. Tonight will be different. I discovered something today.

    I had some errands to do, so I took a dollar out of the milk money to pay a sitter. While I was gone, I discovered exactly what happiness is. It's this very thing I have just come home to ---- the four walls of  this happy house, the three little mouth all talking at the same time!

    It's a hard job, this business of raising a family. And like all jobs, sometimes its demands sweep over you with such unexpected force that it seems too much --- too difficult --- for you to manage. But even during those occasional discouraging days, I know it's a tender and rewarding job. A job I wouldn't trade for any other in the world. Because it is MY JOB. There happy little people are a part of me. They depend on me and need me.

    Oh, the most wonderful thing has happened! . . .

    We are going to have another baby!!!!

              Last Friday I was putting away our decorations and started cleaning out cupboards as I did so. I ran across this story as I was sorting through a folder of old articles ($1.00 for a babysitter for three kids would have given you a clue as to how old).
              I could have written this but I didn't. I would love to credit the author but she was unknown back then and remains so.  
              Over 40 years ago I was asked to give a talk before a large group of ladies. I was petrified and didn't know what to do. And, this is what I did:
              I agreed to talk, but advised the one in charge that I would not be sitting up in front before the program began. I indicated that I was pretty scared and asked that she call out for me when it was my turn. 
             She did. Actually she called for me twice. I hurried up the aisle. My slip was hanging crookedly below my dress and I had two curlers still in my hair. I had our baby under my arm with his blanket trailing behind. 
             I saw someone I knew and barely stopping, handed off the kid and his blanket, stumbled to the podium, took a deep breath and said 

           "Last night I quit my job . . .

    Motherhood is a partnership with God! There is nothing like it!

    Wishing you a wonderful 2012.
            Simply, Gail