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, July 19, 2013

Are We Spending our Valuable Time on What we Value Most?

When all is said and done --- 
the Best Things in Life are Not Things ---

and while I admit many of my posts have been about things, hopefully they have been good things.  

I have taught a variety of  subjects dealing with self-reliance in a variety of formats for 45 years. For the past two years (and over 300 posts) I have shared what I have learned as Simply, Gail---the Creative Cheapskate. 

My goals have been (and still are) to

  •  present a variety of helpful, practical and valuable ideas and thoughts in a variety of practical, thoughtful, and engaging ways----with humor added to the mix.  
  • provide direction in the areas of  couple-hood and parenthood in these increasingly difficult times; times when time is increasingly difficult to find.
  • help you learn how to rely less on commercial products and more on your own ingenuity. 
  • offer ideas for getting by in often less than favorable circumstances.
  • prepare you for emergencies when our normal resources are disrupted or . . . gone
  • make each post valuable to someone---and hopefully many.

There are too many electronic distractions these days that compete for our time.  I try not to get caught up in what I call "the thick of thin things" and I fear for those who spend most of their time in that thickness.

Not all, but most of my most popular posts are the ones on husband-wife relationships and parenting. This is rewarding, because, again,  when all is said and done, family and "real" things are the most important things. 

Food for Thought

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were as eager to fill our souls as we are to fill our stomachs?

Simple and free, yet priceless, things we can do

  • Start each day with a nourishing book: Spend a few minutes reading the Scriptures and communicating with your Heavenly Father or whoever your higher power is.
  • Conscientiously seek to balance your spiritual intake: Choose the good and the uplifting and the wholesome over the things of little or no lasting value or satisfaction
  • Count your blessings and fill your hours with the things that count
  • Include large portions of patience, forgiveness and good humor
  • Don't ration your servings of compassion, kindness and charity
  • Try to eliminate negativity, judgement, gossip and criticism: (One of the quickest ways to lose weight is to take the chip off your shoulder!)
  • Weigh your thoughts and values more frequently than your weight
  • Make it a habit: Take stock and renew each Sabbath Day, even if you can't make it to a/your house of worship
  • View your glass as half full or half empty ---- the choice is yours!
While our world does not know peace, Jesus has promised His peace to each of us.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 
                                                                   John 14:15

          I know from personal experience that even when there are things you absolutely cannot change, you can change a lot by simply changing your attitude and your focus.

          I am Simply, Gail and I try to keep life as simple as possible.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Quiet Book Page 2 -- The Desert Snake

Quiet book pages can be very simple. Or not so . . .  
the choice is yours.  

I found a very cute coiled felt snake while searching the internet.  He is very basic ---                    a simple green snake with button eyes and a felt tongue. I love him.

Snake Page for Create Your Own Quiet Book
The end of his tail was fastened to the unadorned background page so he could be uncoiled  and recoiled.

Snake Page for Create Your Own Quiet Book

Since babies like to touch things long before they can actually do them, I like to have a lot of different "feels" on each page.

So, using the basic idea I took it a few steps further.

My Snake in the Desert Quiet Book Page

  • I added rickrack and sew-on google eyes (I use dental floss or fishing line to sew on eyes, beads, buttons, etc.  so there is no chance of them coming loose and creating a choking hazard.)
  • I saw a darling alligator page, with a zipper jaw, that had a simple bird perched on the gator's head.  I didn't want to do the gator but I loved the bird so here he is!
  • I am not sure a ladybug* is a desert dweller but I had some and I thought they were fun.
*I use lots of "foamies" stickers on the pages because there are so many different fun ones BUT
I don't rely on the sticky part (except to hold them in place as a sew around** or over** or through** them). 

** Around them with a whip stitch, over the narrow parts with an overcast stitch, or through them as you see the bead spots on the lady bug.  (simply clean the needle with rubbing alcohol to remove the sticker substance after you have finished sewing through the foamies.)

Because I am a creative cheapskate I search the thrift shops for things I can use. (sometimes I find something that has me creating a way to use it.)  I make it a goal to never pay full price for anything. I always wait for a sale ( the 9x12" felt pieces were on sale for 20 cents each) or use their coupons when I buy something at the expensive craft stores. And, I always check the dollar stores first, followed by the discount stores.  The cute little dimensional stickers were just a dollar a package at Wal-Mart ---- and they had many different types.  The "foamies" brand stickers above were purchased with a 40 percent off coupon. The large ladybug was from a packet I was given as a gift because my friend knew I loved them. 

Because figuring out how to do the snake was a bit challenging I am going to provide 
some illustrations and basic instructions.
Step 1
Draw a rough pattern on a piece of white paper.  I have a oval crock pot and the lid provided the perfect outer line.  

Place a sheet of tracing paper over the original pattern and trace it.  (Actually I had to do this 12 times since I am making 12 books.)

Place two different colors of 9x12 felt together and pin the tracing paper pattern on top of the two.

Step 2
Notice I don't center the pattern on the piece of  felt because I want as much felt left over as possible to use for other things. 

Carefully sew around the outline, around the snake, and then once again, a very short distance away from the first stitching.  

When sewing most items to the backing page it is not necessary to match the bobbin thread with the top thread because the bobbin thread will not show.  For the snake you want to have the top thread match the top of the snake and the bobbin thread match the color of the belly of the snake, since they will both show.

The two rows of stitching creates the narrow "path" where you cut the snake. Again, carefully, cut along the path between the rows. 

When sewing, I leave the mouth area of the head open so I can reach in and sew on the eyes and insert the tongue after the snake is cut out.   Then I whip stitch that area closed.

The most tedious part comes after the sewing and cutting! You must tear the paper away. Some comes off in fairly large pieces, some can be scraped off with a fingernail and you may have to use tweezers for the tiny remaining pieces, being careful not to catch the stitching. Be patient ---- they will finally all be gone, I promise.

Next Steps

Coil the snake on the page. 
Sew (by machine or hand, your choice) along a portion of the tail to keep him in place.
Sew small pieces of  Velcro type hook and loop to the underside of the head and the matching place on the background so the snake will stay coiled during non-play times.

The snake can do more than just coil and uncoil.   He can reach out and check out the bird and ladybug. (or I guess pretend to consume them!)

Still I needed more.

I didn't want to leave the area under the snake bare. But, I couldn't decide what I "wanted to be discovered" when the snake was uncoiled. I considered several different things ---- and rejected them. 

Until. . . 

 "foamies" came to the rescue!

Remember back to my first quiet book post when I said there would be ways for Dave to help with this project?  He questioned the plain Velcro circle in the middle of the critters (it's matching circle is sewn to the underside of the head to keep the snake coiled).  I didn't know what to do with it so, until then, I had chosen to just ignore it. 

Thanks to Dave's creativity the circle is now a little turtle.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. . . Quick and Easy

Ever have some one drop in and you want to offer a quick snack?

The following is a great change from basic cheese and crackers ---- although it is, basically, cheese and crackers.

Costco warehouse store sells a great raspberry chipotle* sauce. The drawback is,  like most Costco products, it is packaged in sets of two large bottles --- about 32 ounces each!  While awfully good, 64 ounces is an awfully lot of something where a little goes a long way.

(*I thought chipotle (or chilpotle) was a type of chili pepper but learned it is an Indian word meaning smoked chili and is a smoke-dried jalapeno.)

 It is pungent yet I don't think it is as hot as a plain jalapeno. Plus it has a wonderful flavor and not just heat. Still, it doesn't take much to make its point.

Get Ready --- Go!  (there is no need for it to "get set"!)

Step 1

Simply drizzle the sauce over a block of softened cream cheese and serve with wheat-thin-type crackers.

Step 2

Enjoy the unusual treat and the compliments.


You can easily replicate the sauce by mixing the desired amount of a commercial raspberry (or any berry) jam and a very small amount of chipotle powder. I buy mine, an ounce at a time, in the bulk spice section.  Start with just a tiny amount of powder, tasting as you go, until it is the "heat" you like.

That's it!

For further savings, I make my own raspberry-peach jam, using fresh peaches and frozen raspberries.  This combination pairs perfectly with the chipotle powder. 

Check it out at 


Raspberries clipart + Peaches clipart+

 If you prefer to use canned peaches, along with the frozen raspberries, check this out


Often, you can duplicate a commercial product, by simply trying.  

'til we eat again,

I am Simply, Gail