Saturday, December 27, 2008

Change Is Just Part of Life

Christmas has ended and it's time to rest from all the extra activitie that the season brings. We (Sidney and I) spent Christmas Eve with our children and our grandchildren and enjoyed the special time together very much. We always enjoy a time of food and take time to tease the kids about it not being time to open the presents, but usually, it's me that is anxious to see the response from the kids as they tear open the gifts.

As the evening comes to a close we say our goodbyes and the little ones get ready for the visit from the jolly old man called Santa. It's some of the best times of their lives (waiting for Santa); if only these times could last. But nothing lasts forever....

When Sidney and I leave our children's home on Christmas Eve we always take a ride through our home town of Horine, Missouri. Just a tiny speck on the map, but a real town where we both grew up. We drive the streets naming people who lived in each house back when.... We pass by my small, and I mean small, three bedroom home where seven of us lived, and we reminise of our first kiss. It was a simple kiss goodnight, but I got out of the car and fell in the ditch on my way into the house. I received my engagement ring 42 years ago in Sidney's driveway, under the old cedar tree. His old two story house and the cedar tree are gone now, but the memory will remain forever.

We continue down every street talking about the friends we once shared, the bicycles we wore out, our walks to the neighborhood store, and our Christmas's of the past.

While it's true that nothing can last forever and change is part of life, it would be nice to return to the days of the past, if even for a short time, to see if they were really as grand as we remember them. I'm sure we would find that most of the grandeur we remember would soon fade with reality but it's still nice to remember.



People today call it recycling but my Grandma just called it saving money....

Save your plastic lids from coffee, Pringles, butter, etc. and use them for small cutting boards, or use them under your flower pots to catch water drips. They also work for coasters. Let your imagination go to work.

Old panti-hose or knee highs work great for tying garden plants or roses to a stake. They stretch as the plant grows. Start saving them now.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Another Simple Pleasure

As I have written before, I have seven beautiful grandchildren with the youngest almost three years old. Olivia (know as Oli to those who know her)has always loved candy. Now all children love candy, but Oli LOVES candy! I have never witnessed a child whose whole countenance changes when she sees a piece of candy come out of a cabinet or purse. Her eyes light up, a smile comes to her face and she would follow you anywhere to get her taste of sweet stuff!

This was the first "trick or treating" that Oli really understood what was going on. I'm told by her mother that she eagerly held her bag out at the doors awaiting a sweet treat to be dropped in. I was told that even when the other children got tired Oli still wanted to keep trick or treating.

I got to see her last night and asked her if she had fun trick or treating and a big smile came to her face and she empatically said yes. I really believe for Oli that Halloween might just trump Christmas.

I know it seems insignificant to most that I can get such pleasure from watching a child enjoy a piece of candy but I do. I never tire of watching those eyes light up and that beautiful smile come to her face. Thank goodness that she has a mother who makes sure she eats healthy and gets the right things in her little growing body, because if it was up to Oli, the world would be made of sugar and look just like a gingerbread house!

Enjoying the simple pleasures....


Don't throw away those little bits of leftover vegetables but instead scoop them into a freezer safe container until you have enough to add to your favorite soup. You can also do this will leftover beef roasts or chicken.

I never buy chicken broth either; You can make your own and freeze it or keep granulated or powder chicken boullion in your pantry and just add it to water. It has more salt so be sure you taste before adding too much salt.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Remember When?

Everywhere I look I see signs of autumn all around me. Along with the colored leaves falling from the trees, the smell of crisp air in the mornings, the hurry to get all the jobs done that I didn't get finished in the summer, I see one sure tell sign that it is October; Halloween decorations are everywhere.

I don't have many trick-or-treaters where I live, but I still walk down the candy isles in the stores just to look at all the varieties of candy they bag up each year. This year I was in shock as I looked at candy prices....ouch! I don't know what I would do if I had several hundred trick-or-treaters knocking at my door.

I began to remember the special treats that I had received going door to door when I was a little girl. Popcorn balls were always special. Now we can no longer give out homemade goodies. I remember making popcorn balls with my grandmother, then we would wrap each one in wax paper and twist the ends to keep the popcorn balls from sticking together. What a sweet treat they were!

Then there were the fresh baked cookies that so many gave out! Wow, we hit the jackpot with cookies. My neighbor always made a huge sugar cookie every year. They were so good. I later asked her what was in her recipe that made hers so good, she showed me, and it was good old "lard". (Lard was also especially good to make pie crusts) Her cookies just melted in your mouth.

I also remember receiving pennies, nickles, and yes, sometimes even dimes. I think this would be cheaper than candy in some cases.

It's sad that our children can't have any treats that aren't individually wrapped. They miss the special times of the homemade goodies. The caring hands that prepared these treats, and parents miss being able to save some money.

I also witness something else sad about trick-or-treating; The day after the kids bring in their haul, the parents are giving it away to anyone who will take it. Doesn't this seem like a strange thing to do after we spend money on costumes, walk block after block to collect our haul, then give it away the next day? Why don't parents just go out and purchase two bags of their kids favorite candy, let them eat a piece or two (give the rest away), and save lots of money!
Things have changed through the years but certainly not for the better. This old Grandma remembers when, but really it wasn't so long ago, was it?


Money Saving Tip:
This is a money saver but also good for the earth; I purchased a dozen bar towels at Wal-mart and use them for napkins instead of paper one. I just wash them and use them over and over.
They are larger than a napkin and are very absorbant for greasy fingers!

Clean your sink drains by pouring about 1/2 cup of baking soda in them followed by vinegar. Wow, does this ever fizz! I never measure this. It will certainly unclog a sink and make it smell good afterward!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Grandchildren Are Truly Grand

There is a saying that says "If I'd known grandchildren were this much fun I would have had them first". I'm a grandparent that understands that statement to the fullest. I'm sure that some of you understand it too.

When I was a young mother with three small active boys, I knew that my patience were too short, I worried more about a clean house and other household chores than I did about playing with my boys. How I wish I could go back and be the mother I wish I had been. I can't go back, but God in his goodness chose to give me grandchildren, and in a way, I feel that he has given me a second chance.

I have been blessed with seven wonderful grandchildren. Each one is so special in their own special way. There is nothing in this world that I wouldn't do for any one of them and I think they know it.

When the grandchildren come to spend the night all rules go out the window. The first thing we do is make a stop at our local grocery store and find as much junk food as possible. Oreo cookies, sweet drinks, ice cream, M & M's, and more make their way to my kitchen. There are not usually any set bedtimes although the parents do put their foot down on bedtime once in a while. After construction paper, glue, glitter, markers and more, the mess has begun. The play-doh usually makes it's way out to the table along with cookie cutters and other items to use while playing with it.

After we pick up most (some) of our mess the blow up mattress comes out to take its temporary spot on the living rooms floor. After a few jumps onto it from the couch we load lots of pillows onto it so the bunking party can begin! Grandpa pops the popcorn while I place the sheets and blankets in place. Cartoons or other kid friendly shows are turned on the tv set and we begin to unwind. It's not long that the youngest are sound asleep and the older ones breath a sigh of relief so they can have some time of their own. They are such good help to me with the little ones!

I know that these precious times won't last long. That's why I can sit work to the side and play for awhile. As my youngest grandchild grows up, I will begin to clean out the toy room. Play-doh won't be bought and there will be no need for contruction paper and glue. I know that these precious kids won't be wanting to spend their nights at grandma's house. All too soon they will be occupied with thoughts of dating, sports, college and moving on. But I have been left with good memories and hopefully this time, I won't look back with regret! I took time to play!

Money saving tip:
Why buy expensive jewelry cleaners? You can mix equal parts of ammonia (I prefer lemon ammonia) and luke warm water. Soak jewelry for 10 minutes in this solution. Remove from solution but do not rinse just let it dry. I have also used bottled window cleaner on jewelry. It really makes it shine.

Caution: do not use ammonia on copper or brass.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Tough Times - Tough People

If you are keeping up with the news these days you know the times are tough! We are all having to adjust our budgets just to keep up with gas and food prices. These times call for tough measures. While reading the newspaper this week there was an article saying that the cost of ice cream is going up. Now that's getting personal....don't mess with my ice cream!

Some of my fondest memories involve the times our family would get together and make homemade ice cream. My mother-in-law would mix the farm fresh cream, sugar, fresh eggs, and vanilla, and then the cranking began. Yes, I said cranking (we didn't have electric mixers in the beginning). With the mixer packed with ice and salt we began to take turns cranking the machine. The first to get their turn had it made because it was almost effortless, but as the ice cream thickened, it got really hard to crank. The men usually stepped in to show their muscles and soon it was time to sample the goods. Everyone hurried to get in line to fill their bowls with the smooth and tasty treats, and we were never disappointed.

I still enjoy the ice cream in the freezer sections of the local grocery stores, but somehow, on a hot summer day, nothing can beat the taste of the old fashioned homemade ice cream made in the old wooden mixers.

Simple tip of the month:

To save money you can buy a less expensive cut of meat and marinate it in 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup bouillon. It will cook up much more tender.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wonderful People Still Abound

I am in my third week of recovery from bilateral knee replacement. I was prepared for the worst in so many ways, but God was good to me and apparently spared me some of the pain that others experience. Oh, it has hurt, but not to the extent that I had been prepared for.

On my first day home from the hospital I was met with my husband and son helping me get situated into my home. My son quickly built me a 4 inch platform that raised my recliner to a height where I could get in and out without help.

Later that day a knock on my door brought food from my sister. She loves to cook and is good at it too. We knew what was for supper that day! You see, as good as my husband is to me, he isn't a cook!

The next day my daughter-in-law brought supper for 2 days (it was really enough for 4 days).

My daughter-in-law went shopping for me, and offered to do anything else I needed.

Other family members shopped, cooked, cleaned, etc. Hmmm....maybe this isn't so bad afterall.

Everyday I'm getting stronger and getting around better and better. This time has allowed me to reflect on on the good things that God has given me and all the wonderful people that I'm surrounded with. The simplest things in life are free! Visits, phone calls, cards, etc. They all mean so much to someone who cannot be out and about.

How about it? Isn't there someone you have been meaning to call or send a card of encouragment to? Stop! do it now. You will make someone's day!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Simple Life

As I sit here looking out my picture window, I am enjoying the wonderful world of nature that God created. I have watched the orange and black orioles feeding sweet nector from the feeder, along with several hummingbirds zooming back and forth. There have been bright red cardinals taking their share of sunflower seeds plus some yellow finches and other smaller birds. I love to watch the birds and realized that they bring me much pleasure. I guess you can't get much simpler than that for entertainment, can you? It cost me a little for feed but it is true enjoyment to my husband and I.

Out my back window I enjoy watching my little bluebirds as they are now feeding their young. I marvel at all the colors of the birds, each one different from the other, and each one so special in their own way. It's taken me a few years to slow down long enough to observe these little marvels of nature, but now I am learning to do so. Each bird even has their own patterns of flight and yes, their own way of communicating. I've not learned how to identify birds by their calls yet, but I'm working on it.

My husband and I have chosen to live the simple life, not needing much to make us happy. As long as we have a roof over our head, clothes to wear, shoes on our feet, and food for our bellies, we are pretty happy. Take some time to slow down, enjoy the moment....they go so fast. Watch the birds, smell the flowers, laugh with your children, hug your spouse. Work can wait a few minutes longer.