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.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

We are All On the Same Team --- Whatever our Skin Color, Language, Religion or Continent

Master, the tempest is raging! The billows are tossing high! 
The sky is o'er-shadowed with blackness. No shelter or help is nigh. 
Carest thou not that we perish? How canst thou lie asleep?
When each moment so madly is threatening A grave in the angry deep?

Master, with anguish of spirit I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled. Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish Sweep o'er my sinking soul,
                     And I perish! I perish! dear Master. Oh, hasten and take control!

The winds and the waves shall obey thy will. Peace, be still
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies The Master of ocean and earth and skies. 
They all shall sweetly obey they will: Peace, be still; peace, be still.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will: Peace, peace, be still.

Text: Mary Ann Baker, ca. 1874
Music: H. R. Palmer, 1834-1907
New Testament Scripture References: Matthew 8:23-27 and Mark 4:36-41

This morning I read  "Calm the Storm Inside"  by Ashlee Birk. It really touched me and is, I feel, a message for all of us.  I contacted Ashlee and she gave me permission to share her message with you.  

Sometimes it is hard to watch the news — attacks in Paris, the recent shooting in California. Tragedies remind us all how powerless we are. We hurt for the wounded of heart, of spirit and of mind. We mourn for the loss of those who have fallen, for their families, and for a safety we once took for granted.
A few days ago I kept getting dark thoughts about "why?" Why do these terrible things happen? Bitterness and anger began to build. I could not snap out of the agonizing feeling of chaos that filled my soul.
By late afternoon, my 4-year-old had gotten his feelings hurt and was going on about how his sister wouldn’t include him. Finally he said (with added breaths for effect), “Maybe I should hate her too.”
I took his hand and tried to think of ways to distract him. An idea came. I said, “When I don’t understand something I open my Bible to a random page and read."
So we did.
We opended to 1 John 4:18, which reads, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
I almost burst into tears; it felt like those words had been written for me. I had been living in fear and hadn’t even seen it sneak in.
With that awakening, the day began to feel brighter.
That night, I stood in the hall as my 6-year-old daughter’s voice echoed through its walls as she sang: "I am a child of God, and He has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday."
The whys of my fears were again hushed as I was surrounded by the truth of his love.
Fears are the lies that surround us now. Fear that we are all prisoners to terrorists, power, and hate. Chaos and turmoil are tools to make us live without faith. We have to fight for grace.
God is there. It is hard to imagine that it is his sons and daughters he is watching hurt each other.
I used to believe that this world was divided by religion, social classes, countries, states and cities. I used to think that we were all divided — by waters.
But we aren’t. What divides this world is not oceans and borders. We are divided by lies, secrets, hate, pride and fears. Politically, emotionally, physically and spiritually — we don’t want to be wrong — and we sure as heck don’t want to lose.
But what we are losing — as we fight to be right — is our faith. What we are losing as guns sound to show power is our courage. It takes courage to live life in a shattered world we cannot control. And it takes even more courage to let others believe differently than we do. But it is when our beliefs blind us — and make us think we are better — that courage is lost.
We are all fighting the same war … and it isn’t about who is right or who is better. It is about finding love for ourselves, for each other, and for our Creator. If we found a way to unite against the real enemy, our world could find peace.
So today, whatever our religious beliefs, we are on the same team. This world is only broken because we have lost sight of the truth that we are all connected. Maybe we don’t all share the same skin color, or language, or religion, or continent, but we are all one.
We are connected in the fight against evil.
Others can try to take away our sense of safety — and unity — and even our lives. But they can’t take away our faith. Be strong. Have courage. Look for the light, for even though he cannot take away the storms around us, he can calm the storms inside.
Ashlee Birk is the author of "The Moments We Stand," the blog and book series of her healing journey after the secret infidelity and murder of her husband in 2011. She is a graduate of Utah State. Her webiste isthemomentswestand.com

Friday, December 18, 2015

No-Sew Activity Books---Simple and Quick . . .

to help you out if you don't sew or are in a time crunch for making gifts for those you love. . .

and/or for those who need a little love. 

(This is a "re-gifted" post from two years ago)

'Tis the Season for gift-giving but for those in special circumstances or who have special needs there is no special season.  Anytime is the right time if you have a little extra time.

Besides your own children or grandchildren, think of all the places (even for adults) were they would be lovingly welcomed:  Safe Houses and Homeless Shelters, Nursing Homes, Rehabilitation Centers, Hospitals, personal homes of those we may be aware of who are less fortunate than we are. 

These books are simple, quick, inexpensive, adaptable for any age and ability level, and can be used over and over again.  No sewing nor skill required.


1. Remove coloring or activity pages from magazines or coloring/activity books or print them from the computer. (There are many free printable pages available for all age and interest levels).

2. Insert the pages into page protectors. You can put the two sheets back-to-back in each protector.

3. Put in a thin 3-ring binder. 

4. Include a small box of dry-erase crayons or markers and a small piece of cloth for erasing.

I buy most of my binders at thrift stores.  They often come with page protectors already in them. Even if you buy them new, there are soft vinyl ones available, in bright colors, at Wal-Mart for $1.00.  When I need new page protectors I use 50 percent off coupons  at craft stores. A inexpensive zippered pencil pouch that has holes to fit the binder rings is great for holding the crayons/markers and cloth.

If you want more information, here are three helpful.




Have a grateful day,
I am, Simply Gail

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Give the Gift of Self not Stuff . . . for Those Who are Far Away

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.

Another RE-Gifted post  from October 2011. On this short notice (if you decide to use one of these ideas) the gift, while possibly belatedly received will still be very well received---I promise.

 And, if not this year, maybe you will want to tuck these ideas away for next year!

I hope my ideas may help wrap up your needs.

I am Simply, Gail

Monday, December 14, 2015

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.


This is a post from October 2011 that I am "re-gifting" !

Sunday, December 13, 2015

We Start Early to Teach Our Children Respect . . . for Heavenly Father, Jesus, Others and Self

  • Image result for jesus with children
    and Jesus said,
     "Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not;
     for of such is the kingdom of God."
    Luke 18:16
  • I am a child of God.
    • I know Heavenly Father loves me, and I love him.
    • I can pray to Heavenly Father anytime, anywhere.
    • I am trying to follow Jesus.
    • I will remember my baptismal covenants and listen to the Holy Ghost.
  • I will be honest with Heavenly Father, others, and myself.
  • I will seek good friends and treat others kindly.
  • I will dress modestly to show respect for Heavenly Father and myself.
  • I will only read and watch things that are pleasing to Heavenly Father.
  • I will only listen to music that is pleasing to Heavenly Father.
  • I will use the names of Heavenly Father and Jesus reverently. I will not swear or use crude words.
  • I will keep my mind and body sacred and pure, and I will not partake of things that are harmful to me.
  • I will do those things on the Sabbath that will help me feel close to Heavenly Father.
  • I will choose the right.
  • I know I can repent when I make a mistake.
stable influence.jpg
especially in these troubled times.  Wishing (real hard) that we can all
learn to be like Jesus and love one another regardless
 of race or religion or circumstances.
  • Until next time. May there be peace and gratitude in your heart and in your home.
  • I am Simply, Gail

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

My Quiet Book Project Follow-up

Thankfully my on-going quiet book project* is going to be successful if the prototype was any indication.  We gave it to our granddaughter Wren for her first birthday.  Using 9x12 felt squares for the pages made it almost as big as she was, but as you can see that didn't stop her. 

17 month old Wren and her "special book"

Her parents save the book  for special occasions like when it is necessary for her to sit quietly and be occupied for long periods of time.

On Thanksgiving Day we received a call from our grand-daughter and her husband ---- we are going to be great-grandparents!!! Our first!  Three other grandsons are of marriageable age and I, for some reason, am
not getting any younger, so I must get back on the ball and finish up the rest of the quiet books while I am still around and still able.

*all of my quiet book pages, and how to's, are included on this blog site.

This desert snake page is one of the most popular
But . . .

 I have gotten side-tracked.

Background: My sister, from the time they were little, gave each of our children an ornament for Christmas.
With six children that was a lot of ornaments over the years.  And they all loved it and looked forward to putting their own on the tree each year.  As they got married they took their ornaments with them where they appear each year on their trees. 

We have done the same for our grandchildren (usually buying the ornaments when they are on sale after Christmas for the next year.) 

You wouldn't expect anything else from Simply, Gail the cheapskate would you? !!!

For Wren's first two Christmases we gave her cute, but commercial, bird ornaments.

This year I found a true treasure in Susan and her blog  
Downeast Thunder Farm.  


Susan designs and creates life-like (and almost life-size) birds using felt and generously provides the patterns free of charge! You can even request a bird if you want one that is not already in her on-going collection.
Her only stipulation is they can be used to make a profit.  

When I published this post  yesterday the three below photos showed up in separate places where they belonged. When I looked at it today, where these photos had been, were blank spots with tiny jpeg symbols.  How can/did that happen? I've been trying to fix it for over an hour and this is the best I can manage.  The three are now joined as one!  And probably too small to really see.

Once again, sorry. And thanks for bearing with me.

On the right, Wren is 19 months old and sitting in her car seat with the quiet book
when she was in the car for over an hour on a long drive. Her parents sent this
photo saying "she spent one-half hour on just the mitten page."

The photo on the left is the winter wren ornament I made for Wren for this Christmas.

The middle photo is now-27-month-old Wren hanging her wren on the tree. 
I happened on Susan's site the very week our local fabric/craft store had felt squares on sale for 20 cents each!

No more after Christmas ornament sales for Simply, Gail!

Almost daily, I watch one-to-two hour block of  television and weekly, spend one and one-half hours in a support group for the loved-ones of addicts where we learn and teach how we can  live life without us being addicted to our addict.  (that's  another series of my posts)

Now this down time is being put to additional use!!  So far I have "under construction" cardinals, robins and a "fantasy bird" using the wren pattern in three shades of blue and turquoise.  I do the initial handwork during the TV hours and the around-the-edge blanket stitch during the support group.

Still need to add the beaks on two of them.
I am leaving openings at the bottom of each for the stuffing---
I'll add the stuffing to them later and then finish stitching them up.

Life is good!
Have a happy, peaceful, grateful day!

I am, Simply Gail

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Noah's Ark Quiet Book Page Redesigned ...

because  I haven't been happy with the original way I tried to keep the animals "penned" in (using felt straps) on the ark's ramp.  

I doubt if it has been a bother for our  little granddaughter Wren but I am sure it has been a bit of a pain for her parents when it's time to close that page.

In the middle of last night, an idea came to me on the way to revamp the ramp!

Velcro and shoestrings!

The entire page is constructed the same way as the original except  I cut  both sections of 3/4" wide  velcro in half length-wise to make the sections narrow. Then I sewed the loop parts along the sides of the ark and the smooth parts along the sides of the ramp. 

I only sewed the velcro pieces down the middle of each, not along the edges.

I used shoelaces to string the animals.

You can go to the original instructions for the Noah's Ark page by copying the below into your search bar.  

Be aware, however, that for some reason the first page to come up will be the counting page. Simply scroll down and the ark appears.


Yes, I am Simply, Gail and I am cheap and I can be creative but I am certainly/obviously NOT computer savvy

 Have a grateful and peaceful day.

“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 14:27

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Nine Quick, Easy + Budget-Friendly Non-Chocolate Goodies for . . .

Serving, Giving and Eating !!! 

Did you notice my last two posts --- yummy chocolate overkill !!!

Today I am going to share my favorite other-than-chocolate treats ---also yummy + quick and budget friendly !!!  Including a couple that are also mail-friendly!

Image result for white cookies
Mexican Wedding Cakes made from  Bisquick
OOPS, sorry about the formatting. I don't know how I did it and I can't find a way to undo it!

  • 1 cup powdered sugar + additional for covering
  • 1 cup softened margarine
  • 4 cups Bisquick baking mix*
  • 1 cup very finely chopped walnuts or other nuts
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract (or vanilla)
  • 4 Tablespoons water

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar and margarine. Mix in Bisquick. Add nuts, extract and water. (if not moist enough, add a tiny bit more water. ) Shape into balls.  Place on ungreased baking sheet  and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  • When slightly cool, roll in confectioners' sugar, then roll again. Makes approximately 6 dozen.
* I often use my home made bisquick-type baking mix---find in my cookbook section along the right side of the blog under Master Mixes. 

Image result for white cookies
Meringue Kisses

These meringue kisses were always in demand. Our children and all of the
many brides who asked for them for their receptions referred to them as
Grandma Jennie's white cookies.

3 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 heaping cup "filling" of your choice -- crushed peppermint sticks, chopped nuts, chips, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover large cookie sheet with foil and set aside. With electric mixer on high spead, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Add sugar 1/4 cup at a time beating after each addition until sugar dissolves (mixture will feel smooth). Continue beating until high peaks form. Fold in vanilla and chosen ingredients. Drop by teaspoon full onto foil. TURN OFF OVEN. Place cookie sheet in oven and let set until oven is completely cool, about 45 minutes.  They should be dry to the touch. Let cool. Peel off paper.
Food coloring can be added if desired.
Note: They will stay sticky (but still good) if made during times of high humidity.

Image result for dipped sandwich cookies

Dipped Peanut Butter-filled Ritz-type Crackers

Simply  spread peanut butter between two Ritz-type crackers or mini-cracker sandwich style. . Dip each sandwich into melted white almond bark or other candy coating. Place on foil or waxed-paper covered try.
Dip a second time if more coating is desired.

Image result for peanut butter pinwheels
Quick Easy-Peasy Peanut Butter Pinwheels
Combine one stick melted margarine with about 2-3 cups powdered sugar. Place between two squares of waxed-paper. Roll with rolling pin until you have a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Remove top paper and spread surfce with creamy peanut butter. Starting at long side, gently roll up jelly roll fashion, Cut into slices. Chill.

Glasss Candy
Image result for glass candy food
Very Pretty and Very Yummy

3-3/4 cups granulated white sugar
1-1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 cup water
1 teaspoon oil flavoring*  (cannot use regular cooking flavors)
food coloring to compliment flavoring
powdered sugar

Cover large cookie sheeet with heavy alumunum foil. Lightly dust with powdered sugar. Set aside.

In  large, heavy saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup and water. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Boil, with out stirring until temperature reaches 300 to 310 degrees. Remove from heat and stir in oil and coloring. Pour evenly over prepared foil. Let cool. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container.

Cooking this makes your home smell wonderful!

This makes a great gift which stores and ships well.

*Oil flavorings are available in small bottles (that makes a lot) where craft and cake and candy making/decorating supplies are sold. Lorain is the most common brand.  It comes in zillions of flavors!!

You may also want to check out
Peppermint Bark and More under Candy in my cookbook column on the right. 

Mailing treats didn't use to be a bank-breaking experience. But alas, now it is. If  you have a loved one that is away from home and craving homemade goodies, here are a couple that travel well and relatively cheaply.

Popcorn Cake
One 6-ounce can of  cocktail peanuts
One 12-15 ounce package plain M&M's or other small candy pieces
One 16-ounce package miniature marshmallows 
1 stick margarine
Approximately 1 cup unpopped corn (enough to fill a bundt pan or an angel food-type tube pan when popped)

Melt margarine and marshmallows over low heat. Mix peanuts and M&M's into marshmallow mixture. Pour over popped corn and mix well. Butter hands generously and press mixture into well-buttered pan. Let cool in freezer to make it easier to remove from pan. Wrap tightly in clear plastic wrap. Pack in additional plain popped corn to mail.

  • This also makes great popcorn balls!
  • You can form the popcorn balls around peppermint candy sticks to make popcorn pops.
  • Or, unwrap lollipops or suckers and form small popcorn balls around the lollipop, letting the stick handle protrude.
This recipe, or the forever popular crispy rice cereal with marshmallows treat recipe, can be formed into many shapes to fit special occasions. We've made a "plaster" cast with protruding toes. Years ago, our daughter Heidi made a giant tooth and a surprise visit to the dental college on her husband's birthday. Both the plaster for the cast and the tooth enamel were made with melted white almond bark. We tinted the almond bark pink to cover the toes. 

White Chocolate Popcorn   Image result for white chocolate popcornImage result for white chocolate popcorn

The simplest way is to buy a large bag of already buttered popcorn. Melt white almond bark over very low heat or in microwave, stirring until smooth. Pour over popcorn, stirring well as you go. Spread out on waxed paper to dry. Can add peanuts if desired.

Some of our grand kids call this next one "Sugar Shrimp" and others call it "Pirates Booty"  I call it by its description: Sweet & Salty Corn Pop Stuff!

We ALL call it great!                                               
Image result for corn pops
This type of corn pops,
not the cereal type.

1 entire stick  plus 1/3 of a second stick of butter or margarine
2/3 cups white sugar
2 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring 
1 very large package of Barrel O' Fun Corn Pops (about 15 ounces)

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Melt butter in large sauce pan. Bring to a fast boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Pour over corn pops, stirring as you go. Spread on cookie sheets or in a large roaster-type pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour onto flat surface to cool. Break up as needed. 

Handy Hint: Cut open the empty Barrel 'O Fun bag and spread it flat on a counter or table. Pour the finished snack onto the bag to cool.  (Our dog loves it when a few overshoot the area and fall on the floor!)

Cheapskate Hint:  Watch the weight of the mailing boxes themselves!!! When mailing unbreakable items, I often mail in large cereal boxes or soda cracker boxes or similar. 

'til we eat again,

I am Simply, Gail