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The Simple Life

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  • Sheryl Simons
    The Simple Life By Sheryl Simons Home Simple Home A happy person can be happy just about anywhere. An unhappy person will be happy nowhere. I love the
    Message 1 of 23 , Jan 9, 2006
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      The Simple Life

      By Sheryl Simons

      Home Simple Home

      "A happy person can be happy just about anywhere. An unhappy person will be happy nowhere."

      I love the "Shabby Chic" look. In fact, most people don't know this, but I invented it -except I used to call it early Goodwill. It fits right in with my decorating sense of style, or lack thereof. My motto is, if it's comfy, it fits. Several old family treasures are among my non-part-with- ables. I have a lovely old yellow coffee pot in my living room. It sits perched atop a faded old white chair. Its lid has fallen open, and it has bright sunny sunflowers springing out the top. I don't care what time of year, it cheers me up. I only hide it for a few days at Christmas time. Our furniture matches reasonably well, but it's comfortable – the main consideration.

      There are several fleece blankets around for chilly evenings. There are lots of bookcases, for the books we both love. Our woodstove, an old early 1900's Round Oak, from Dowagiac MI, needs a new coat of stove black, but she doesn't complain. Just keeps happily warming us. She sets on the tile hearth next to the chimney patiently waiting all summer for the first fire of the fall. Richard and I have burned wood for years and wouldn't know what to do if we didn't. With all the logging in our area, finding wood to burn has never been a problem. We enjoy several trips to the woods each year, and we don't burn more than 6-10 cords of firewood in a winter, anyway. I keep a small humidifier going in the winter to combat the dry air. And, there's a pan of water on top of the woodstove, as well. Once in a while, there is a pot of soup there, instead.

      Blue is my favorite color, and once in a while I try another color, but if it's not some form of blue, it usually migrates back to blue. In the kitchen, I'd found a wallpaper border that featured old seed packets. I was given a set of green dishes for Christmas, so green was the color for a while.

      After a while it was time for a change. When I found a blue and white tiffany-type lamp shade at a yard sale the color came back to blue. I find that just one item of color can set the stage for the whole room. I have several sets of curtains, all with blue, that I change of through the year. Usually. Last year a friend teased me that I still had my snow men curtains up in June. Oops! A little past time to change them. This year I better try to get them changed by March so she won't notice.

      I had a little blue on my front porch/summer sleeping room. Then at an antique shop I found a bright blue coverlet for $10. That was one time I couldn't say no. And I'm glad I didn't. The coverlet graces the pure-white comforter at the bottom of the bed in cool tones that take at least 10 degrees out of a hot summer day. In fact the west-side-facing front porch is shaded all day, so even on hot days, it stays cool. Since the breeze is nearly always from the west opening the windows in the evening makes a great place to sleep, and reminds me of sleeping on my grandparents front porch at the lake when I was a kid.

      My back deck and 2 garden sheds are barnwood paneled. Old enamelware pans and washbasins (mostly blue, white, or gray) hang here and there, and mostly for the color. One old washbasin I found at a North Carolina flea market for $4. You can find a bargain anywhere.

      Yard and resale shopping is one of my favorite activities. But I often go home empty handed when I can't find anything just right. You can have way too much stuff, and when I feel overloaded, it's time to start packing boxes for a yard sale. I made a new friend at work this year, who has a yard sale on a main highway at her home every summer. She invited me to bring some things to the yard sale. We donated most of whatever was left afterwards. It's a great way to make a few extra bucks and downsize at the same time. I really don't know how people can spend tons of money "redecorating". Sometimes it might take a year or two to find that "just right" something. I have so much fun seeking out special items for next to nothing, just buying new things wouldn't be any fun at all!

      * * *

      "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." ~~Leonardo da Vinci

      "Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark." ~~George Iles

      "All I know is that when I pray, coincidences happen; and when I don't pray, they don't happen." ~~ Dan Hayes

      Simple Coconut Mounds

      (I can remember making these with a girlfriend when I was a kid!)

      3/4 cup mashed potatoes

      1 pound powdered sugar

      1 pound macaroon coconut

      1/2 tsp. almond extract

      Combine all ingredients. Roll into balls using powdered sugar to roll. Chill in refrigerator for one hour. Dip in melted chocolate chips or chocolate bark.

      Keeping it Simple,


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Sheryl Simons
      The Simple Life By Sheryl Simons At home, the simpler things are, the better. * * * Coming home from work the other afternoon, I got behind a car with
      Message 2 of 23 , Jan 16, 2006
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        The Simple Life

        By Sheryl Simons

        At home, the simpler things are, the better.

        * * *
        Coming home from work the other afternoon, I got behind a
        car with several bumperstickers. Of course, I had to read them. I
        don't know where you buy bumperstickers like these, but they were
        not meant for car bumpers, nor were they meant for anywhere, as far
        as I was concerned. I know this is America. We do have the right to
        put just about any bumpersticker on our vehicle – yes, that's our
        right. But if we put obscene bumperstickers on our cars or where
        ever we so choose, it makes me think that we are only shooting
        ourselves in the foot. Why would we want to?
        I know that our forefathers didn't know they were fighting
        to give breath to a country that would one day make the likes of
        Howard Stern a multi-millionaire. They may have thought again.
        When we listen to trash like that, or any trash of any kind, we vote
        against our families, everything we hold dear, our country.
        I know whoever was driving the car in front of me, would
        only laugh had I had a chance to discuss the issue with them. I
        assume they realize that anyone from reading age on up could read
        their rear view billboard, and I would also assume that they don't
        care who reads it. That's too bad. But I know there are people in
        the world who just don't care. They don't appreciate the good
        things in life. Or maybe they resent the fact that life wasn't
        perfect for them. Maybe they never had a daddy who held them on
        their shoulders at a Veteran's Parade. Or maybe they never got to
        take swimming lessons, or spend the night at a friends. But I guess
        I know something they don't.
        Life is what you make it. You might not get to pick your
        family, but once you leave home, you are all on your own. You can
        put yourself through college. You can work at a grocery store. You
        can buy a house, or live in a box. It's all up to you. Or, you can
        throw it away.
        When I was a kid in Jr. High, my principals son Alex was
        around after school once in a while. He was good looking, and a
        great athlete. Scholarship material. Great home on the lake, great
        parents who would give him anything. Al decided it wasn't enough.
        He overdosed. Probably still in a hospital today. Wish I could give
        him another chance. One choice.
        You can be the dad who gives his kid a piggyback ride at a
        parade, or a mom who takes her kids to swimming lessons. No
        excuses. This is America. And once you figure that out, you can
        stop feeling sorry for yourself and take those obscene
        bumperstickers off your car bumper and replace them with something
        nice like, "America the Beautiful", because it is.

        * * *

        Simple Melt in Your Mouth Chicken
        ( I made this the other day. It's like chicken potpie, only very
        easy. If you have the chicken made ahead of time, it's even
        easier. You could also use leftover turkey.)

        1- 3lb. chicken (boil until tender or use leftovers)
        1 can cream of chicken or mushroom soup
        2 cups chicken broth (I used the water the chicken cooked in)
        1 stick melted margarine
        1 c buttermilk
        1 c self rising flour
        1 t salt
        1/2 t pepper

        Cube chicken and place in greased casserole dish. Combine the soup
        and the chicken broth and pour over chicken.
        Combine margarine, buttermilk, flour, salt and pepper and pour over
        above to make crust. Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.
        * * *

        "I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine"…
        Ephesians 3:20

        Five thousand breathless dawns all new;
        One million flowers fresh in dew.
        Five thousand sunsets wrapped in gold;
        One million snowflakes served ice cold.
        Five quiet friends, one baby's love;
        One white sea of clouds above.
        One June night in a fragrant wood;
        One heart that loved and understood.
        I wondered when I waked that day -
        In God's name - how could I ever pay?
        ~~Courtland Sayers

        "If the only prayer you say in your whole life is 'thank you,' that
        would suffice." ~~Meister Eckhart

        Keeping it Simple,
      • Sheryl Simons
        The Simple Life Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand. Simplify, simplify. ~~Henry
        Message 3 of 23 , Jan 24, 2006
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          The Simple Life

          "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as
          two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand. Simplify, simplify."
          ~~Henry David Thoreau

          by Sheryl Simons
          * * *

          It happened innocently enough. It was right after Christmas
          and I was just looking for an easy read. The magazine rack looked
          pretty tame. But it wasn't. Lurking behind the Reader's Digest,
          and right there in front of Martha Stewart – it didn't just catch my
          eye, it tugged. There was no way I could have missed it – the first
          brand new gardening magazine of the year. The bright shiny cover
          blazing with bright and sunny flowers. Wait a minute, my brain
          protested. Here in Michigan it's still the middle of winter! We
          have snow and ice and are lucky to see the sun peak out. We are
          still dealing with salted walkways and black ice. Anger was icing
          my brain cells. I had to look away. It was like looking at the sun
          for too long. But I couldn't get away. There was another! I
          looked the other direction – another!
          I had not gone to the garden section of my favorite Barnes
          and Nobles for that very reason. Too early to think spring. But
          no. Here in a local grocery store where I should have been safe.
          But too late.
          I couldn't help it, really. I picked one up. I took a deep
          breath and plunged into it. Pages and pages of flowers, vegetables –
          and ugh! – landscaping! I thought I could put it down, but I
          couldn't. I kept peeking. Several pages caught my eye. Images
          seared onto my brain of green grass, and daylilies in full bloom.
          Now what was I to do? Go home and grab a shovel? Walk
          through my back yard of the new 10 inches of the white stuff
          sniffing for rose blooms? Nothing irritates me more than being
          tempted with something I can't have, for months.
          We are months away from planting. Not days but months from
          turning the soil and more months from plucking a ripe cherry tomato
          from the vine. Our perennials are safely tucked away under the
          snow. It's too early to even pull out the seed packets for the
          But though the snow drifts and the wind howls outside, the
          sun will shine again. We will come out of our igloos and one day
          again we will wiggle our toes in the dirt and find that first
          zucchini. At least I have plenty of time to plan my garden. But I
          will stay away from the magazine racks for a couple weeks. If I can…
          * * *

          "Learn to laugh at your troubles and you'll never run out of
          things to laugh at." ~~Lyn Karol

          God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in
          the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces
          against evil." ~~E.M.Bounds
          "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know:
          the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have
          sought and found how to serve." ~~ Albert Schweitzer
          * * *
          We often have fund-raisers where different employees bring in crock
          pots of soup, dessert, etc. and the money donated goes to a needy
          family or other community cause. A friend at work made this beer-
          batter bread to go with some soup. It's very easy, no kneading!
          Great for when you don't have much time. Experiment with garlic or
          other spices. Makes great toast and a nice pot of chili or soup.
          Simple Beer Batter Bread

          3 cups self rising flour
          3 Tablespoons sugar
          12 oz. room temp beer

          Mix all together and pour into a regular bread pan..Bake 350 about
          30 minutes or until lighly browned on top....Remove when cool enough
          to handle and place on rack. Makes one loaf.

          Keeping it Simple,
        • Sheryl Simons
          By Sheryl Simons Simple living is being the same person on the outside as the inside. I was waiting in line at a store yesterday when a woman in front of me
          Message 4 of 23 , Jan 31, 2006
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            By Sheryl Simons

            "Simple living is being the same person on the outside as the

            I was waiting in line at a store yesterday when a woman in
            front of me caught my attention. Just minding my own business,
            thinking of spring, maybe getting some seedlings started on a
            windowsill, when my pleasant thoughts were so rudely interrupted by
            a woman whose mouth just wouldn't quit. The man she was with I
            assumed was her husband. I felt sorry for him. She began complaining
            about the poor service she claimed she received at this business.
            It all went downhill from there. The cashier suggested she move to
            an empty nearby line if she didn't want to wait. She didn't want to
            walk that far, and made it perfectly clear. There was no person
            within earshot who wasn't disturbed by the debilitating drivel that
            dripped from her mouth. I wanted to get as far from her as I
            could. The cashier remained professionally cool as she patiently
            waited on her customer and then the complaining woman.
            If the service was so terrible, why was the woman here, I
            wondered. No one else was complaining. I think some people just
            enjoy going through life whining. Maybe they like listening to
            their own voice. Or maybe they don't care what kind of attention
            they get as long as it's attention. I also know everyone was very
            relieved when she was gone. It was as if the sun came out. Not a
            pleasant experience, but a learning experience.
            I can go through life being a bright spot in someone's day,
            or an angry cloud. We all have things we can complain about. But
            why be in a hurry?
            I don't really like driving on bad roads, but when I slow down to a
            safe speed, turn on a nice radio station, and watch the pretty
            scenery of winter, I can still enjoy my drive. Most of life is all
            about attitude. Most of my time waiting in line, I can find
            something to talk about with even strangers, and often do. Maybe
            there is a baby to smile with, or an older person who shares a piece
            of their life with me. Before long I'm walking to my car feeling as
            if I'd made a new friend. I always tell the clerk I'm not in a
            hurry. I'm not. Life is too short. Why am I here for this moment
            in time? I can try to brighten someone's day in a minute or less.
            It takes no talent or special skill except for a smile!
            * * *
            "Joy is to feel the doors of the self fly open into a wealth that is
            endless because none of it is ours and yet it all belongs to us."
            ~~William Sloane Coffin

            "As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding,
            mistrust and hostility to evaporate." ~~ writes Albert Schweitzer

            * * *
            Simple Dinner Idea

            How would you like to have dinner delivered to your door several
            nights a week, without hiring a cook or paying for delivery fees?
            It will even save money? Four families with a small amount of
            cooking talent can easily do this.
            You each take one night a week to prepare a meal, but you make
            enough for four families. You can do easy meals like a large pot of
            chili or potato soup. Baked spaghetti, or other casserole. Add a
            salad vegetable, and or bread. One night a week you make the
            delivery just before the dinner hour and return home to your own
            dinner. The other three nights you just stay home while dinner is
            delivered. Get together with a couple other families and decide how
            you'd like to do it. Maybe you only do Wednesdays. Maybe you take
            turns hosting a family night at your house on Fridays. Maybe you
            are a bunch of single parents who also share childcare. However it
            works for you, it just takes a little ingenuity. It may sizzle out
            after a while, but that's okay. You will probably have to adjust it
            occasionally with schedule changes. That's okay too. Try it for a
            month and then have another meeting to discuss changes. It just
            might work for you!
            * * *
            Simple Sausage Lentil Soup

            The spices for this soup can be easily adjusted, as well as the
            sodium. Using different flavors of sausage can also vary the amount
            of spice needed.
            This soup is great with bread and salad!

            Ingredients: 1 16-oz. pkg. dry lentils, 1 lb. sweet Italian
            sausage,1 large yellow onion (chopped), 2 garlic cloves (minced), 3
            celery stalks (chopped), 1 lb. carrots (sliced into small pieces),
            6 cups chicken broth (or water with enough bouillon cubes to season
            to taste), Salt, pepper, oregano, thyme and basil to taste, Freshly
            grated parmesan cheese to garnish

            Directions: Rinse lentils according to package instructions.
            Brown sausage in a large soup pot and drain well. Add onion, garlic
            and celery. Cook until onion is tender. Add all other ingredients,
            except cheese. Cook until lentils are tender, approximately 30 to
            40 minutes.
            Sprinkle with cheese before serving.

            Keeping it Simple,
          • Sheryl Simons
            Being content where you are is the center of Simple living I really want to play the guitar better. I love going to the Dulcimer Festival, and enjoy the
            Message 5 of 23 , Mar 1, 2006
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              "Being content where you are is the center of Simple living"

              I really want to play the guitar better. I love going to
              the Dulcimer Festival, and enjoy the music. I even have a fiddle
              that I haven't played in a couple years. I love gardening, and
              sewing, and cooking. I also love playing golf, etc. etc. There are
              some important things that take time, but sometimes they get left
              out. I have several priorities. But sometimes I just end up
              reading a book, going for a walk, or doing something that isn't all
              that important. What about volunteer time, or family time, or time
              for my faith? I have to be sure that isn't on the back burner.
              Whew! Do you see what I see? When I do have a day off, how do I
              spend those precious hours? Way too many hobbies, and only so many
              hours in a day.
              Maybe this year it's time to prioritize my priorities! I
              know exactly what I should be doing. I am committing myself to that
              end. What about you? Do you know what your priorities are? What
              can you do to make it happen? If you have kids, that is your
              priority right now. You can't do it all. Do everything you can to
              make your time with your family your priority. After that, it's up
              to you. Don't waste it on stuff that doesn't really matter. It can
              all seem important. It isn't. Make a list and number them. If
              it's not near the top, lose it. Maybe not forever, but just for
              this year. Work on one or two important priorities. Think about
              it, study it. Get good at it. Now you can see what happens. Don't
              let the unimportant things block your path to the more important
              * * *
              "If you paint in your mind a picture of bright and happy
              expectations, you put yourself into a condition conducive to your
              goal." ~~ Norman Vincent Peale
              * * *
              Working in a local retail store, I can see what a difference
              it makes to keep your receipts. It's not that hard to put them in
              an envelope, shoe box, or file folder when you get home and empty
              your pockets. You might have a place in your purse or glove box.
              Many nurseries guarantee plants for a year. You don't have to keep
              all your grocery receipts, unless you want to keep them for only a
              month, or so. You could even have several large envelopes, one for
              clothing, one for tools, and kitchen tools, or furniture, or even
              home improvement. Some stores will take back items without a
              receipt, but only at the clearance price. Most stores will give
              full credit if there is a receipt that is less than 3 months old.
              It's your money! If you buy extra supplies for remodeling, take
              back the excess immediately. If a product goes out of date, such as
              a style of lamp, or furniture, and many more, once it is clearanced,
              you cannot get credit for it. Put it immediately in the front seat
              of your car to return at the next time you get near that store.
              * * *
              Here are some amounts for some common produce items! Copy this
              and keep with your recipes.
              Produce Yields
              1 medium onion 1/2 to 2/3 cups chopped
              1 medium pepper 3/4 to 1 cup chopped
              1 medium cucumber 1-1/2 cups sliced or chopped
              1 medium apple 3/4 cup diced, or 1 cup
              chopped or sliced
              3 medium apples 1 pound
              1 medium potato 1 cup cubed, or 1/2 cup
              3 medium potatoes 1 pound
              3 medium carrots 1-1/2 cups diced or sliced
              1 medium head leaf lettuce 4 to 6 cups torn up
              1 pound broccoli 3-1/2 cups florets
              1 pound green beans 4 cups trimmed

              Simple Cleaning: It doesn't take special sprays or formulas to get
              the sticky gunk off the counter, stove, dishes, etc. Just letting it
              soak with water is all it takes most of the time. Dishes soak for 15
              minutes before scrubbing. If the stove or counter has hard gook on
              it, I spray it down generously with water, and let it sit for a
              couple of minutes or cover with a warm and wet dishcloth. If it
              doesn't come off right away, I just spray it again, or let it sit
              longer. If you are worried about germs, use very salty water. Put as
              much salt in the water as will dissolve. The salt kills the germs. A
              doctor who volunteered in third world countries told this. That's
              what they use to kill viruses and germs in the hospital. It's easy
              to keep a spray bottle under the sink!

              Keeping it Simple,

            • Sheryl Simons
              The Simple Life By Sheryl Simons The happier you are with the simple things, the easier it is to be happy. * * * A Simple Faith A writer is always on the
              Message 6 of 23 , Mar 6, 2006
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                The Simple Life

                By Sheryl Simons

                "The happier you are with the simple things, the easier it is to be

                * * *

                A Simple Faith

                A writer is always on the lookout for interesting insight into
                things that happen in life. Whether it's for an article, or a
                novel, there is great material all around us.

                A couple weeks ago, a friend was telling me that he had a
                great professor in college. The professor had explained to the class
                that religions were just invented in ancient days by people who needed
                to somehow understand the meaning of life. They used religion to
                explain great tragedies such as earthquakes or floods. I was rather
                dumbfounded, but there wasn't time to ask any questions.

                A week or so later, this same friend saw me using a red pen.
                A simple little red pen, which had just happened to be available at the
                time I needed a pen. "Red! Why are you using a red pen!
                That's not good Karma! It's bad luck," he said.

                I laughed. "It's just a red pen. I don't believe
                in Karma anyway," I said. He handed me a black pen. "Here, use

                Right then and there, I knew I had my weekly column all
                wrapped up. It's true that everyone needs something to believe in.
                His professor was right about that. What happens when an atheist falls
                overboard in the middle of the ocean? He screams, "Oh God!, O
                God!" If given the chance we will all turn to God in the end. But
                why wait until the end?

                It's been said that anyone who had seen a baby, knows that
                God exists. Having seen my own babies, as well as my granddaughter, I
                have no doubt. All babies are miracles. Who could believe different?
                Miracles don't just happen. There was no "Big Bang" that
                happened billions of years ago, that "evolved" into man.

                It amazes me that we can go through life and chose not to
                believe in the God who gave us our very breath. We go through day after
                day and don't seem to care that the creator of the world is waiting
                to help us through each of those days.

                Ever watch a three year old getting dressed? You are in a
                hurry to get to an appointment, but when you try to help them, "I do
                it myself!" they demand as they put their arm in the wrong side of
                the shirt. We are not unlike that child. We demand from the
                air-craft-controller of the universe, "I can do it myself!" We
                hang on to our crutches and excuses, arrogantly believing that we know
                better. We could ask for simple guidance through our day, but would
                rather stick to our stubborn independence. We wander around in the
                deserts of our lives with the oasis just over the next dune. But we
                can't see it because we don't ask for directions.

                Everything that happens to us screams, "I am here! Call
                on me! I want to help you!" But when do we pull out our "Get
                out of jail free" card? We usually wait until it's a last
                resort. We wait until a loved one has cancer, or we get a flat on the
                way to an important job interview.

                Many people believe that God is love, so everyone will be in
                heaven. Can't possibly be true. Why? Because of free choice. We
                choose to be kind, or hateful, or be a bank robber or a teacher. No
                matter what we believe or don't believe, it takes faith. It takes
                faith to be an atheist. It takes faith to believe the teachings of a
                charismatic professor. It takes faith to think, "I'll deal with
                this when I'm old."

                But no matter. God is patient. He will wait as long as it
                takes. Now or later. And sometimes, never. He just wants to hear
                those two little words, "I believe." Now how hard is that?

                * * *
                Simple Home Fries:4 large Potatoes -- scrubbed1/3 cup
                Vegetable Oil1/4 teaspoon Garlic Salt1/4 teaspoon Seasoned Salt1/8
                teaspoon Black PepperSauce:1/2 cup Miracle Whip®1/2 cup Catsup
                Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Using a large baking sheet, pour oil onto
                baking sheet and spread to completely cover. Sprinkle all seasonings
                evenly over oiled surface, then set aside. Using a large knife, or a
                decorative slicer, slice each potato into long strips, about 1/2" x 1" x
                4". Lay strips on oiled baking sheet, turning each one to coat with
                spiced oil. When all potatoes have been prepared on baking sheet, bake
                for 20 - 25 minutes, or until fries are beginning to turn golden on
                edges. Serve hot as a side dish with the sauce.

                * * *

                Simple Cider Cure

                A man had a serious problem with heartburn for the last three years.
                They were purchasing Pepcid Complete once every other week at around $17
                a bottle. He got a tip from a relative of taking a tablespoon of Apple
                Cider vinegar at night before bed or before any spicy meal. It's hard
                going down but does the job wonderfully. Since starting this, he has not
                had one episode of heartburn and the $2.49 bottle of cider (which lasts
                a lot longer than two weeks) is much cheaper than the $17 we were

                Keeping it Simple,

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • Sheryl Simons
                Spring is on the Way! The Simple Life By Sheryl Simons The happier you are with the simple things, the easier it is to be happy. It may be snowing outside
                Message 7 of 23 , Mar 14, 2006
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                  Spring is on the Way!

                  The Simple Life
                  By Sheryl Simons

                  "The happier you are with the simple things, the easier it is to be

                  It may be snowing outside right now (yes, it is!)
                  here in lovely `ol Michigan, but spring is in the air. Richard, (my
                  husband) saw 9 robins in the yard yesterday. I'm pretty sure they
                  are hiding today, but in a couple days, they will be back, pulling
                  the worms from the yard. We've seen cranes, already, in fact, the
                  whole bird population seems to be exploding.
                  Bird watching is a great family entertainment that
                  is not costly. Taking a walk in the woods where ever you are, is
                  cheap, especially when you pack a lunch. The exercise is a fringe
                  Keep a calendar. It doesn't matter which year. If you
                  see a bald eagle, or another rare sight, jot it down. Maybe you see
                  a bird really early in the spring one year. Or you visit the beach
                  and see another kind of bird for the first time. It can be quite a
                  fun hobby for the whole family. You can also take some photos and
                  keep them in an album. Whatever your hobby, your family can think
                  up great ways to enjoy it together. Do it on a regular basis. There
                  are all kinds of new things to notice with each season, as well.
                  The internet has also opened a great new world of exploration. When
                  you see a new bird, for example, you can find perhaps thousands of
                  articles of information on the subject.
                  I recently met someone who told me about being a naturalist.
                  I really didn't know what a naturalist was, but he learned it from
                  his own father. He and his family spend time each month noticing
                  nature, and documenting sightings of different kinds of plants
                  animals, and even bugs! It's definitely not expensive, but what a
                  great way to spend time as a family.

                  * * *
                  Simple Gardening
                  Did you know that for the most part, soil test kits are really not
                  necessary? After all these years "experts" admit that most soil, on
                  any given property is "average". Something most of us amateur
                  gardeners suspected all along. Most soils need amendments. Good
                  old fertilizers, such as manure, or green manure. If you know a
                  farmer, or someone who raises rabbits or has horses, manure won't be
                  too expensive, maybe free. Or, you might want to raise chickens or
                  rabbits on your own.
                  Composted manures are better since the weeds seeds have
                  been destroyed by the heating process in the composting. So if you
                  have sand, clay, or good ol' loam, you can all benefit from some
                  good ol' fertilizers. And whether you have sand or clay, you both
                  need the structure. Sand drains too well, so needs other materials
                  such as chopped lawn clippings, manures, chopped straw, chopped
                  leaves, or worked in green crops, to help keep moisture in the
                  soil. Clay soils need the same added structures to help it drain.
                  If you have very fertile soil, you don't want to add too much
                  nitrogen, however, to garden plants or flowers, because nitrogen
                  encourages "green" growth instead of flower and fruit growth. If
                  your land hasn't been chemically fertilized in a while, you may
                  qualify as "organic", which is really important lately with all the
                  new information about chemicals that we have been finding out. No
                  one really know the effect some chemicals could have on us, so
                  staying natural is important. If you sell your produce at all, being
                  organic is a really good thing.
                  So save the money from your test kit and just add some
                  simple compost.
                  * * *
                  "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right
                  thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing
                  you can do is nothing."~~ Theodore Roosevelt

                  "Every new opinion, at its starting, is precisely in a minority of
                  one." ~~ Thomas Carlyle

                  * * *
                  Sugar Cookies
                  1 stick oleo 1/2 t soda
                  1 stick butter 2 1/2 c flour
                  1 1/4 c sugar 1 t vanilla
                  1 egg

                  mix ingredients as listed. Form into balls. Roll in sugar and
                  flatten with fork. Bake @375` about 8-10 minutes until just lightly
                  turning brown. Remove immediately from pan.

                  Keeping it Simple,
                • Sheryl Simons
                  The Simple Life By Sheryl Simons When you are content to be simply yourself and don t compare or compete, everybody will respect you. ~~ Lao-Tzu Finding
                  Message 8 of 23 , Mar 21, 2006
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                    The Simple Life
                    By Sheryl Simons
                    "When you are content to be simply yourself and don't compare or
                    compete, everybody will respect you." ~~ Lao-Tzu

                    Finding peace in your life is all about the simple life. I
                    have to laugh at some of the incongruous ways that people try to
                    make a living. There are some pretty stupid criminals. The guy who
                    was trying to rob a convenience store and left his wallet behind.
                    And with all the surveillance cameras, you can't hardly get away
                    with anything. But who wants to go through life looking over his
                    shoulder wondering "will I get caught today?" One man fled to
                    another state after a crime, but recently was picked up after 10
                    years. Ten years of looking over his shoulder.

                    No one can be truly happy when there is no peace. Life is
                    about being true to oneself. It's about hard work, and honest
                    living. It's about integrity and being able to look yourself in the

                    Anything you can't be really proud of is an area that needs
                    improvement. It's not about getting even or seeking revenge, as we
                    sometimes feel. Guilt is a good indicator. What is it you feel the
                    worst about? You don't have to be a criminal to have things in your
                    life that beg for a deeper look. We can spend our lives trying to
                    prove to others what a "good" person we are, but we all deal with
                    being the same on the inside as we are on the outside.

                    I recently heard a man turn down an alcoholic drink. "I
                    know I can't handle it," he admitted. Wow. Humbling to be sure.
                    But he knew what he had to do. I don't know if he felt strong, but
                    he was really showing his strength. It takes a big person to admit
                    their weaknesses.

                    A woman I know realized she was yelling at her kids too
                    much. She sat down with herself one day and thought about it. She
                    realized it was the stress in her life, and had nothing to do with
                    her kids. It had also been a pattern in her family when she was
                    growing up, and she didn't like it. Right then and there she quit
                    yelling. She told me it wasn't even tempting once she figured out
                    why she was yelling.

                    A man had to quit a good job because he was being asked by
                    his superiors to do some dishonest things. He was told to look the
                    other way, at times. He did it for a while, but eventually, he
                    couldn't do it any longer. He quit. He gave up the paycheck.
                    Things were tough. He had to sell some "toys" that his family had
                    enjoyed. He may never find a job that pays as well. Maybe he will
                    move. But now he can live with himself. His life is already
                    better. He's spending more time with his kids. He hasn't even
                    realized that he did the right thing yet, because it still stings.
                    There is fallout to doing the right thing at times. Sometimes it
                    takes a while to realize you did the right thing. Simple living is
                    being right with yourself.

                    * * *
                    "There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship,
                    communion, or company than a good marriage." ~~ David Ben-Gurion

                    Simple Squash Casserole

                    1 pound yellow squash, sliced,1 onion, finely chopped, 1 cup grated
                    Cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup half and half, 2 Tablespoons butter, 1 egg,
                    beaten, Dash of nutmeg, Salt and pepper to taste,1/2 cup cracker
                    crumbs, Paprika to taste

                    TO PREPARE:
                    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Steam squash and onion until done.
                    Drain. Combine squash and onion in a large bowl, add cheese,half and
                    half, butter, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix well. Place
                    mixture in a greased casserole dish. Top with cracker crumbs and
                    paprika. Bake approximately 25-30 minutes until slightly browned.

                    Doesn't this recipe make you hungry for that fresh squash
                    from the garden? I can't wait to get my fingers in the soil, but
                    right now my garden is just a mucky mess. When you can walk on your
                    garden, you can plant peas, onions and a few other veggies that
                    frost won't hurt. It's almost here! It's not too late to plan how
                    big or small you want your garden. A grape tomato plant in a pot or
                    a –half-acre menagerie – it's up to you!

                    Keeping it Simple,
                  • Sheryl Simons
                    The Simple Life By Sheryl Simons Gardening is the heart of simple living. A special HI to all! Yesterday I found a local strawberry farm, and bought 8
                    Message 9 of 23 , Jun 28, 2006
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                      The Simple Life

                      By Sheryl Simons

                      "Gardening is the heart of simple living."

                      A special HI to all! Yesterday I found a local strawberry
                      farm, and bought 8 quarts of strawberries, just picked that
                      morning. There berries were fantastic! My friend had bought someat
                      a local fruit market, and they were all mushy. When she took them
                      back, she found out they were from Mexico! I don't know how long it
                      takes to get strawberries from Mexico to MI, but several days to be
                      sure! So if you want the most yummy berries, BUY LOCAL GROWN!

                      My hubby cleaned them, I chopped them up with my hand chopper,
                      the kind from Pampered Chef (works great) and made two batches of
                      jam. I like the reduced sugar Sure Jell. Making Jam is so easy. I
                      cook the jam, and put it in jars. My mom had given me all her
                      canning stuff, but when she saw my jam, she wished she had not given
                      it away! I gave her some jam, and told her we will do a batch
                      For dinner, we had warm homemade biscuits, covered with
                      strawberries and whipped cream. The biscuits were still warm.
                      Yumm! I always use the recipe from the back of the Clabber Girl
                      biscuit can
                      1/3 c marg (the recipe calls for shortening, but this is better)
                      2 1/4 c flour
                      2 t Baking Powder
                      1/2 t salt
                      2 T. sugar (my addition)
                      about 3/4 c milk
                      The dough should be almost dry enough to not be sticky. If it's too
                      sticky, add a bit more flour. For good biscuits, don't stir it any
                      more than you have to. Put some flour on your pan ( I use a baking
                      stone) Preheat oven to 450`. Pat out the dough on the stone, using
                      a bit of flour under and on the dough. Pat out to 1/2 inch. Cut
                      with biscuit cutter, or glass. place one biscuit on top of the
                      other to make a double high biscuit. Bake for 12 minutes. THESE
                      ARE THE BEST BISCUITS EVER!!!! Very Simple. If you have biscuit
                      mix, just add 2 T. sugar. You can double this batch easily!

                      Now what is more simple than a strawberry dinner in summer???

                      * * *

                      From a tomato in a pot to crops in a huge plot, a garden
                      grounds us. It brings us back to basics. It makes us see what
                      matters. It gives us the responsibility to realize that when we
                      nurture something, we touch the earth, and it touches us back.
                      If every child had a plant to take care of, or maybe a small
                      garden, the violence in this world would be almost non-existent. We
                      all need to learn to nurture. A child who learns to grow things
                      doesn't want to hurt things, but learns to take care of things. We
                      need to feed and water a plant to get it to grow. Watch a gardener
                      walk among his plants. He talks to them. He waters them, feeds
                      them, trains them in their growth. He waits for them through long
                      winters and welcomes them each spring. And each morning, he walks
                      among his plants, touching them, enjoying the fragrances, noticing
                      what kind of care his plants need. Weeds are plucked, flowers
                      deadheaded to encourage more blooming, watering here, harvesting
                      there. And then, enjoying the fruits of his labor. Sliced
                      strawberries on a bowl of cereal for breakfast, an onion slice on a
                      hamburger for dinner, or an ear of juicy-sweet corn steaming and
                      dripping with butter for dessert.
                      Gardening is a peaceful endeavor. Gardening is inexpensive –
                      from the cost of a seed packet or two, to the cost of a flat of a
                      variety of plants. Maybe a pot and some potting soil and a bit of
                      fertilizer. But when combined with some freezing, drying and
                      canning, it can be a money maker. Think of the cost of strawberry
                      jam for a year. Now think of the cost of a few jar lids and some
                      pectin, and you have free jam for a year! Gardening can be good
                      exercise, from building a new plot with a shovel (the best way), or
                      it can be merely relaxing by planting a few plants in a pot and
                      watering them.
                      However you choose to garden is your choice. But no matter
                      how you do it, it will make the world a better place. Even with a
                      few weeds, (and not all weeds are a nuisance) No doubt about it – it
                      makes your corner of the world a great place to start!
                      * * *

                      "Hope is seldom found in the things we can see; it is the sweet
                      fragrance of grace."

                      "I would rather live my life as if there is a God, and die to find
                      out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't, and die to
                      find out there is." ~~ unknown

                      "If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written
                      upon the heart. The spirit should never grow old."~ ~James A.
                      * * *
                      Simple Watering
                      Having a garden means watering. But watering doesn't have
                      to be expensive. Water plants well, and mulch with newspaper,
                      plastic, leaves saved from last fall, grass clippings, or old strips
                      of carpet. When mulched, plants need little watering unless it is
                      very dry.
                      If you must water, consider it a pleasure to walk among your
                      plants and water each plant. It gives each plant a good drink, as
                      well as a chance to observe insect problems, and also doesn't water
                      the weeds like a sprinkler would do. Watering each plant starves
                      the weeds. After watering, take a few more moments once a week to
                      move your hoe lightly along the surface of the soil. That is all it
                      takes to eliminate the small weeds. No large equipment needed. Or,
                      if you have a large garden, do several rows a day. Keeping it
                      simple in the garden.

                      * * *
                      Simple BLT's and Strawberry Shortcake

                      Fry up some bacon and slice up a nice juicy tomato from the
                      garden, and wash some bibb lettuce from the garden. Add some salad
                      dressing and you are on your way to a great sandwich dinner. Slice
                      some strawberries and mix in a bit of sugar or splenda. Spoon over
                      ice cream, with a dollop of whip cream. Put a sweet biscuit under
                      it for shortcake. To make easy biscuits, use a biscuit mix, adding
                      a tablespoon or two to a batch making them just slightly sweet.
                      Warm biscuits, fresh from the oven, under your shortcake is truly
                      the best strawberry shortcake there is!

                      Keeping Summer Simple,
                    • Sheryl Simons
                      The Simple Life By Sheryl Simons The happier you are with the simple things, the easier it is to be happy. Lessons for the Garden A garden that one makes
                      Message 10 of 23 , Jun 25, 2007
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                        The Simple Life
                        By Sheryl Simons

                        "The happier you are with the simple things, the easier it is to be

                        Lessons for the Garden

                        A garden that one makes oneself becomes associated with one's
                        personal history and that of one's friends, interwoven with one's
                        tastes, preferences, and character, and constitutes a sort of
                        unwritten...autobiography. ~Alfred Austin

                        "If we make our goal to live a life of compassion and unconditional
                        love, then the world will indeed become a garden where all kinds of
                        flowers can bloom and grow." Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

                        * * *
                        This week we put up a new arbor, painted Buttercream. I
                        mixed the color, adding just a little yellow paint to some white I
                        already had. It is not easy to paint an arbor, there are a lot of
                        nooks and crannies, but I did get it all covered. I had a
                        beautiful `heavenly blue' morning glory to climb up it, along with a
                        few other colors, and when it was all put together, the effect was
                        beautiful! I had some morning glories that came up from seed on
                        their own. But I had to transplant them. Why is it when they come
                        up from seed, they don't come up where they should be? The next
                        morning they were looking pretty wilted, even though I was so
                        careful. By the next day, though, they were looking healthier. They
                        are going to make it!

                        In the garden we are still planting some seeds. With no rain
                        now for a week, we are sure to give lots of water to our healthy
                        plants. Especially when they are just coming up, they really need
                        water every day to help keep them strong. It's getting harder to
                        find seeds, but there is still lots of time to plant things like
                        radishes, beans, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, and many favorites.
                        Even some plants that need a longer growing time, can be found with
                        shorter days to harvest. Good care helps, too. The proper watering
                        and fertilizing help to get plants producing. Too much dryness,
                        stunts growth, and keeps the plant just hanging on instead of setting

                        So, if you are wanting to plant some fall crops, pick up your
                        seeds while you can still find them! If you have extra seeds,
                        storing them in a cool, dry environment can help lengthen their shelf
                        life. I keep mine in tins, veggie seeds in one, flower seeds in the

                        For watering plants around my deck, I use tap water that
                        would normally go down the drain. My tap runs almost a gallon of
                        water before the water gets hot in the kitchen, but I don't just let
                        it run down the drain, I use it to water the plants close to the
                        house, and a few indoor plants. I try to conserve when possible.
                        Keeping my fertilizer right under the sink makes it easy to add to
                        the water.
                        * * *

                        Simple Pork Chops
                        4 to 6 pork chops
                        1 cup ketchup
                        1 cup Coke
                        Brown pork chops and place in baking dish. Mix Coke and ketchup
                        together and pour over pork chops. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 for
                        45 minutes. You could also grill these, wrapped in foil, on a medium
                        grill. Nice and tender!

                        * * *
                        No one has an exclusive on opportunity. When the sun rises, it rises
                        for everyone. ~~Chinese proverb

                        When your bow is broken and your last arrow spent, then shoot--shoot
                        with your whole heart. ~~Zen proverb

                        Keeping it Simple,

                        Please contact me with recipes, questions, comments and simple living
                        ideas that work for you. Email: thesimple_life@...
                        Join the online newsletter to print recipes and look up previous
                      • Sheryl Simons
                        The Simple Life By Sheryl Simons We can stay young by focusing on a dream instead of on a regret. Simple Good Oatmeal Muffins 1 C Old-fashioned Oatmeal 1 C
                        Message 11 of 23 , Jan 28, 2008
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                          The Simple Life
                          By Sheryl Simons

                          We can stay young by focusing on a dream instead of on a regret.

                          Simple Good Oatmeal Muffins

                          1 C Old-fashioned Oatmeal
                          1 C Milk
                          mix and let sit for 5 minutes
                          1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
                          1/3 c brown sugar
                          ½ t salt
                          ¼ c oil
                          1 egg
                          1 c flour
                          1 t cinnamon
                          1 T baking powder

                          scoop into greased muffin cups. Makes about 8 muffins. Bake @ 425
                          for 20 minutes until golden brown.
                          * * *
                          Special Delivery

                          When you wish to give a plant to someone in the hospital, put
                          together your own and take it to the hospital to the volunteer desk
                          with the patient's name and room number. It'll be "delivered" by the
                          volunteers just like the florist shop items! This can save a lot of
                          money because you use your own container purchased from a thrift
                          store or garage sale and your own plant and make your own delivery.
                          The patient just knows that you were thinking of him/her, and then
                          you can make a visit later that day or the next day if you are in the
                          same vicinity. Try it. No one questions your dropping off a gift to
                          be delivered. This also gives you incentive to repot those `extra'
                          plants, like those extra baby spiders plants, or take cuttings from
                          your philodendra. Even orchids make baby plants you can get starts
                          from! When you get them established, you can get them potted up in a
                          nice pot for a birthday or "cheer –up" gift. You could also look for
                          clearance plant sales, just to get a start! When a friend gave me an
                          orchid, she also gave me a note card with instructions for care, and
                          the likes and dislikes of the particular plant. It's easy to look up
                          plant names on the internet and make your own little plant cards and
                          keep them in a filebox for your own reference.

                          * * *
                          I try to get out every day and get some fresh air, and go for a
                          walk. Even though I don't often feel like getting out, especially
                          when the wind can be so frigid, but I really enjoy it, once I get out
                          there. The past few days 6(!)Bluebirds have been entertaining us
                          right in front of our bay window. I was watching them this morning,
                          and the thought crossed my mind that maybe we were the ones being
                          watched. Maybe they feel sorry for us, thinking we are stuck in the
                          cage called a house? Who knows who is the watcher and the watchee!
                          They flit about and sing, and ruffle up their feathers to look
                          bigger, and now that there are 6 instead of 2, and even though there
                          is about a foot of snow still, there they are. If they can stand the
                          cold and the snow, just maybe I will make it too. While they have
                          cheered me up this morning, who can I cheer up today?

                          * * *
                          I have been spending a lot of spare time working on our family
                          history this winter. There are a lot of free sites you can access
                          from the Internet, just by searching genealogy, family history sites,
                          etc. I am combing through family photo albums, and notes as far back
                          as I can find. The other day I was able to add my Great
                          grandmother's middle name (Nora), and some other details, all one at
                          a time. It's like adding more and more pieces to a puzzle. I hope
                          to just keep adding more and more. I even found a cousin Sue, that I
                          have never met on the internet. We share a great-great grandfather!
                          If you are looking for a simple, and yet meaningful hobby, family
                          history is really fun, and it can get creative and artistic. You can
                          find lots of ideas at libraries, and most local libraries have
                          genealogical societies, that will be glad to lend you a hand, and
                          point you in the right direction.

                          * * *
                          Keeping it Simple,

                          Email: thesimple_life@...
                          Join the online newsletter to print recipes and look up previous
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