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The Simple Life

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  • Sheryl Simons
    The Simple Life ~~~ ~~~ Under the Sea! Just as they did in the movies, I flipped backwards off the glass-bottomed boat. I had been waiting for this moment
    Message 1 of 23 , Feb 2, 2004
      The Simple Life

      ~~~ ~~~
      Under the Sea!

      Just as they did in the movies, I flipped backwards off the
      glass-bottomed boat. I had been waiting for this moment all my
      life. For the past 20 minutes our group of tourists and two guides
      had been chugging through the bluest water imaginable along the
      coast of Cozumel, an Island off the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
      The water was crystal clear, but my eyes were torn between looking
      down and looking across the water. After passing over the wreckage
      of an airplane that had not survived its trip, we headed out to
      sea. I began to feel very small as our tiny boat passed next to a
      large ship.
      To the East, huge cruise ships shared long concrete gangways.
      Smaller vessels sailed in various directions daring me to think that
      this could be a routine day in such beauty. Was it really possible
      that people lived and worked in this beautiful corner of the world
      where year-around temperatures averaged 80 degrees? Imagine making
      a living by taking 20 tourists snorkeling several times a day – what
      hardship! I would feel as if I should pay someone to have a "job"
      such as that.
      To the west, across that water that was such a beautiful blue
      it gave you tears in your eyes, the mainland of Mexico rose from
      glistening sandy beaches to long expanses of green palm groves. As
      our boat slowed, we can see to the bottom in most places, anywhere
      from 15 feet deep and down. Several other canvas-topped tour boats
      were not far off. Snorkelers bobbed along the surface looking not
      unlike ducks with their heads underwater, casually looking for a
      minnow to nibble.
      I took a moment to assess our group as we dropped anchor along
      a reef not far from shore. A few families, two young couples, and
      a group of middle-aged singles joined my daughter Holly, my partner
      in crime on this adventure. We were a rather rag-tag group of tall
      and small, but we were all a bit pink-cheeked and wind blown.
      We were given a few moments of instruction and received our
      equipment, one guide dove effortlessly into the water and swam a few
      yards away from the boat, beckoning us to enter and follow. I was
      the first to enter the water. After coughing out saltier water than
      your mother ever gave you to gargle with, and realizing that
      plugging my nose might have been a good idea, I nonchalantly began
      to get acquainted with my snorkel and mask. The foot flippers made
      it almost effortless to float. The water was not cold or warm - it
      just felt wet. Choppy waves splashed against my face as I tried to
      get used to a small, round, plastic windshield on my mask. I tried
      breathing through the snorkel while my head was still out of the
      water. As soon as I would put my face in the water, I would forget
      to breathe. Small colorful fish swam around us. There were bright
      yellow, cobalt blue, and turquoise in various shapes. Holly had our
      underwater camera strapped on her wrist and was already beginning to
      snap a few pictures of the schools of fish and the shapes of the sea
      plants and reef structures.
      I went back to learning to breathe. I would manage to take a
      few breaths underwater, but as I reached out to touch the fish, I
      must have been pulling my snorkel underwater. After a few minutes
      and one big mouthful of that salty water, I finally began to get the
      hang of it. I could swim for a minute or so just watching the
      darting fish and reef shapes that ran in a ridge parallel with the
      shore. Then I would bob up and make sure I was staying with the
      group. One hundred or so yards off, a few people swam on a sandy
      beach giving you a secure feeling with a beach so near.
      Our tour guide helped a few people who were still learning, and
      he tried to keep us from wandering too far off from the group. It
      was so easy to just keep floating along the reef and forgetting
      where the group was while swimming in the silent underwater world
      that had, been, before that day, unknown to me. I had, of course,
      seen documentaries of diving shows, but this – this was beyond
      describable!
      What amazed me were the people who stayed on the boat. Several
      women and one of the fathers were content to just sit on the boat
      and watch. I couldn't help thinking that if they had only tried,
      they would have really loved it.
      Once we were floating on top of the water, the next step was
      to dive below the surface and really get close to the reefs. I
      began to think that it would be impossible to drown in salty water.
      It takes tremendous strength to get under the water.
      Holly and I handed the camera back and forth, snapping pictures
      and wishing we could truly capture our experience and take it home
      by simply clicking a button.
      All too soon we had to head back to the boat. As I had been the
      first one into the water, I hung back, greedy to savor every last
      minute in the water and be the last one to climb the ladder. I'd
      never thought I might like diving underwater, but now that I had
      tried it once, I knew I wanted to try it. It was so amazing!
      Arriving back at our ship, we changed into dry clothing and
      headed back to the island to drink in the gentle breezes, sights,
      sounds of the shops, the narrow streets with bicycle taxis, and the
      view of the ocean with boats and fountains and gardens and sidewalk
      vendors. This above water world was almost equally incredible with
      all the sights and sounds of Mexico. Later this afternoon we would
      board our ship to begin our return trip across the gulf to America,
      but we pushed this from our minds, not wanting to waste a moment of
      our day with unhappy thoughts of leaving this awesome paradise.
      Looking out the window at several feet of snow, I often pull
      up my warm memories of our snorkeling trip and that alone will get
      me through to spring!
      * * *

      'Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life
      you've imagined!'
      ~~ Henry David Thoreau
      To have ideas is to gather flowers; to think, is to weave them into
      garlands.
      ~~ Anne-Sophie Swetchine

      * * *
      I told you last week that I had started a few tomato plants
      indoors. The seeds have sprouted and the plants are now a couple
      inches tall. I will soon be repotting them to bigger containers.
      They were covered by a clear plastic bag until they were all
      sprouted, but now they uncovered and doing nicely. If all goes
      well, we should be harvesting tomatoes in 65 days.
      Put this recipe away for this summer when you have too many
      tomatoes! You can also air dry them, by laying the in the sun, or
      putting them in your dehydrator on low.
      Sun Dried Tomatoes
      Taken from Gardener's Paradise

      Sun Dried Tomatoes - Cut each tomato in quarters and place on a
      baking
      sheet. Mix equal parts of sugar and salt and sprinkle mixture over
      tomatoes.
      Bake at 150 degrees for approximately 10 to 12 hours until the
      tomatoes
      Become wrinkled. Store in freezer for larger batches.

      Keeping it Simple,
      Sheryl



      To visit the website, click on

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thesimple_life/

      to view recipe files, storys by Sheryl, and other articles of
      interest.

      See you next week!
    • Sheryl Simons
      The Simple Life Defining Success in Your Life What is success? Pulitzer Prize winner? President of the U.S.A.? President of Student Council? Fame? Fortune?
      Message 2 of 23 , Mar 8, 2004
        The Simple Life

        Defining Success in Your Life

        What is success? Pulitzer Prize winner? President of the
        U.S.A.? President of Student Council? Fame? Fortune? Do you have
        to win an award for what it is you do best? Success is not usually
        something that just happens to us. Success is not winning the
        lottery. Success is something we earn by hard work, accomplishment,
        and planning. Mother Teresa is a great example of success even
        thought she rarely had a penny to her name. She succeeded at who
        and what she wanted to be – against the odds of poverty and gender.
        You cannot be a great dad just by having kids. You work at
        it. You put the kids needs in front of your own wants.
        Great marriages don't just happen. You plan to spend special
        time together, listen to each other and encourage each other to
        greatness. You are there in the hard times and the happy times.
        Succeeding at your job happens when you do your best. You
        think about how to make your job enjoyable. You treat people with
        consideration and respect. You realize that your job is a big part
        of your life. People who are happy at work, have more overall
        happiness.
        True success is when your hand and heart work together.
        Success means integrity. To be successful when you are trying to
        hide something you are not proud of is not success.
        Success means not giving up. A wife and mother was a terrible
        cook. Everyone teased her that she couldn't boil water. She kept
        working at it, sought advice from great cooks she knew, and she
        became a successful cook. She still got some teasing, but now she
        also got compliments!

        True success endures because it is built on God ideas rather
        than merely good ideas. –~~JoAnn Wray

        * * *
        Simple Mix Ideas

        Taco-Burrito Seasoning:

        1/3 cup chili powder
        2 tsp. each cumin, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, and onion
        powder

        For Sloppy Joe mix - leave out the cumin and red pepper of above.

        Depending on your family's tastes, you can adjust the amounts for
        mild or hot. Store packets are $1. or more, but homemade versions
        cost just pennies. Don't be afraid to adjust to your tastes. If you
        like the convenience of the packets, use 15 minutes on a Saturday to
        mix some up, pop it in a jar or baggie, and there you go.
        Tartar Sauce - add some sweet pickle relish to mayonnaise or salad
        dressing.
        Add a couple drops of balsamic or red wine vinegar to taste.

        Arby's Horsey sauce is made by adding a small amount of horseradish
        to mayo to your liking.

        Cocktail sauce is a mixture of ketchup and horseradish.

        * * *


        Maybe being a `success' is just being the best you can be!

        Keeping it Simple,
        Sheryl


        Have a great week!

        Give your friends a chance to sign up for this newsletter! Click
        below!

        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thesimple_life
      • Sheryl Simons
        The Simple Life Just listen. The other night, when warm weather finally hit, I went to open the window. A symphony of birds, frogs, and all manner of night
        Message 3 of 23 , May 17 6:27 PM
          The Simple Life

          Just listen. The other night, when warm weather finally hit, I
          went to open the window. A symphony of birds, frogs, and all manner
          of night sounds filled the sky. I have been flinging open windows
          ever since. Winter is so silent, and the simple songs of spring
          are so welcome.
          We have also been inundated with showers. Rain several times
          a day, and often coming down in sheets have swamped our yard and
          garden. It will take several days of dry to be able to even walk on
          the garden. My friend Betty, who has raised beds reports her peas,
          lettuce and several other crops are up and running. Just one bonus
          to raised beds! So I'm still waiting to get on the garden, but
          there is MORE rain in the forecast. One good thing, our water
          levels are coming back, which were well below normal.

          Simple Summer Savings

          To get out of debt and stay there is the idea, right? Just
          think of the freedom you have when every last penny doesn't go to
          pay bills. Many of the things we spend money on we don't give a
          thought to. We easily spend our nickels and dollars while big
          ticket items seem out of reach. Some people spend $3 to $4 on a
          coffee before work. It takes only seconds to make a pot of coffee
          every morning and put it in an insulated cup. Or try getting it
          ready to turn on the night before. Some coffee pots even come with
          a timer. Or bring a pot to work and share with other employees.
          Want a flavored coffee? Still no excuse. An $8 bag of
          specialty coffee is MUCH less money than buying just one cup every
          day. Mix flavored coffee half and half with your favorite regular.
          You won't miss the flavor at all, and you will make that expensive
          coffee last twice as long.
          Kids drinks. Ouch! They can really put a whole in the old
          pocketbook. Don't go on a trip to the grocery store without taking
          a cooler of drinks and snacks from home. I recommend buying a 6 or
          8 pack of water and refilling them at home. You can even fill them
          ¾ full and pop them in the freezer. They melt quickly in summer
          heat. Water is best, but if your kids want flavor once in a while,
          make sugar free koolaid at home and fill your bottles with this.
          Keep this right next to the backpack of color books and small
          toys you keep in the car for long trips. Make sure the kids pick up
          before you arrive home each time. If you must buy soda pop, don't
          buy singles. Either buy 2 liters or 12 pack cans, or whatever is on
          sale. Plastic pop bottles can be refilled from a 2 liter bottle.
          Keep `em in the fridge when you need to grab one. 10 seconds at
          home is better than spending $1.25 and 10 minutes to stop! Never
          give a kid a whole can of pop or juice. Split one between two kids
          by pouring into a cup. They can take turns with the can if they
          want to.
          1/4 to 1/3 of Americans food budget goes to beverages! DRINK
          WATER!
          Milk savings. A friend told me that with rising milk prices
          she buys whole milk and mixes it 1/2 and 1/2 with water in a empty
          jug at home. Her family thinks its 2%! Saves 2$ a day for some
          families – that's $14 dollars a week X 52 = $728 a year! Really
          adds up, doesn't it?

          Clothing
          If you are available at yards sale time, typically Fridays or
          Saturday mornings, GO! Kids love new clothes, they don't care where
          they came from (unless they are older!) I recently bought 4 new (to
          me) tops at a yard sale for $4 each. I'd have spent at least $36.
          at a store. They were all in perfect condition. A friend even
          commented on what a nice top I had on. Don't overlook the curbs,
          either. My friend saw four ceramic boy and girl figures about 3
          feet tall. She brought them home and painted them, gave one pair to
          a friend, and put one pair in her garden. They look just like brand-
          new!

          Simple Latte at Home
          Mix 1/2 cup strong coffee with 1/2-3/4 cup of warm milk. Save $2 by
          doing this instead of buying a latte on the way to work every day.
          Add cinnamon, or sugar to make it just the way you like it!

          See how simple it is to save a few bucks! Just think of some
          ways you can save some $$$ for a rainy day.

          Send in your favorite ideas for saving money this summer!!!!

          thesimple_life@...


          * * *
          "Giving birth is little more than a set of muscular contractions
          granting passage of a child. Then the mother is born." ~~Erma Bombeck

          "Real learning is a process of discovery and if we want it to
          happen, we must create the kind of conditions in which discoveries
          are made. We know what these are. They include time, leisure,
          freedom, and lack of pressure." ~~ John Holt, Learning All the Time
          * * *
          Keep Clothes from Fading

          When washing colored or printed material for the first time, add one
          tsp. Epsom salts to one
          gallon of water. The material with neither fade nor run.

          KEEPING FLOWERS FRESHER
          LONGER

          For best and long lasting results with your fresh cut
          flowers, be sure to cut them early in the morning. They will be
          moist and not heat stressed during this time of the day. Also be
          sure to use very sharp pruning shears when cutting. Place the
          flowers in water right away.


          Keeping it Simple,
          Sheryl
        • Sheryl Simons
          The Simple Life To those who would crush religious freedom, our message is plain: You may jail your believers. You may close their churches, confiscate their
          Message 4 of 23 , Jun 17, 2004
            The Simple Life

            "To those who would crush religious freedom, our message is plain:
            You may jail your believers. You may close their churches,
            confiscate their Bibles and harass their rabbis
            and priests, but you will never destroy the love of God and freedom
            that burns in their hearts. They will triumph over you." --Ronald
            Reagan, in remarks at White House Briefing on Religious Freedom in
            the Soviet Union, 1988

            Ronald Reagan was a great man. I don't mean a good president,
            but a great man. Not only did world leaders speak highly of him,
            but his own children told such warm stories about their father, we
            know he was a hero without ever being an actor, a soldier, or even
            the President of the United States. Many of us didn't know or didn't
            remember what kind of man he was, what kind of character he
            exhibited. They spoke of a man, busy yes, but not too busy to
            spend time with his children, to help bury a turtle or give a pony
            ride.
            Some complained about the airtime Reagan's funeral received
            this past week. Others were indifferent. Some were glad to get
            reacquainted with a man who, no matter what your political views,
            was an outstanding leader in our great nation.
            We also got to know what kind of husband Ronald Reagan was.
            Ronald and Nancy were said to have greeted each other after five
            hours as if they had been apart for 5 months. Their letters, which
            they never tired of writing, tell a story of deep and true
            affection.
            Some might have thought that Nancy has been a prisoner of her
            husband's illness these past 10 years, but I believe that Ronald
            would have done the same for Nancy. She never gave a thought to
            where else they might be, or what they were missing, but just that
            it was where she belonged – by his side as much as possible.
            Nancy also showed incredible strength this past grueling
            week, with all the state ceremonies, she must have been exhausted,
            but never gave in to her own weariness.
            Reagan, like any other president, made errors in judgment -
            made mistakes – and there were those who disagreed with him often,
            but he left a legacy of faith, honor and service to family and
            country.
            Mr. Reagan, we have learned from you. Thank you for being a
            part of our simple world.
            * * * * *
            When we come to the edge of the light we know, and are about to
            step off into the darkness of the unknown, of this we can be
            sure.... either God will provide something solid to stand on
            or .....we will be taught to fly.


            Simple Gardening

            Getting Rid of Moles

            Try taking that old used kitty litter and fill the mole holes that
            pop up in your yard. They won't be back. Or, where there is a
            tunnel, dig out part of one and dump it in. It seem the moles are
            afraid of cats and their smell. Good way to get rid of used kitty
            litter, too! If you don't have a cat, you probably know someone who
            does!

            *********
            Don't call the Plumber!
            Run the hot water full blast and fill a bucket with the hottest
            water possible. Then pour it down the toilet. Do this three times
            and viola! The hot water will clear the toilet slick as a whistle.
            Also try boiling the water to a rolling boil and it will clear
            drains quickly and easily.
            Clears it every time. Try it. See for yourself. The cost is a lot
            cheaper than a plumber's house call.

            * * * * *

            Simple Recipes

            Cool and Summery Fat-free Dessert
            Orange Creamcicle

            1 box (3 oz.) sugar free orange Jello
            1 box (3 oz) sugar free vanilla instant pudding
            1 container (8 oz.) fat free Cool Whip
            1 small can mandarin oranges - drained

            Dissolve jello in 1 cup boiling water.
            Add 1 cup ice water.
            Beat in 1 box vanilla instant pudding (dry).
            Fold in Cool Whip and mandarin oranges.
            Chill. This dessert will become thick in less
            than 30 minutes.

            Easy Dinner

            During WWII, there were rations of meat. Mothers would use one
            pound of ground beef to make chili and put it over macaroni noodles
            to stretch for a large family. Sounds Yummy!

            Keeping it Simple,
            Sheryl


            Don't rely on someone to forward this to you! Take a moment and go
            to:


            http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thesimple_life

            sign up for yourself!

            Also - send me pictures of your favorite garden plant and I will
            post them in the photos for everyone to see!


            See you next week!
          • Sheryl Simons
            The Simple Life – The Best of Summer Family reunions are amazing gifts we give ourselves, aren t they? The food is great, but it doesn t matter if we have
            Message 5 of 23 , Jul 12, 2004
              The Simple Life – The Best of Summer

              Family reunions are amazing gifts we give ourselves, aren't
              they? The food is great, but it doesn't matter if we have steak or
              hot dogs (though, potato salad is a must!). It's so much fun to
              have everyone bring their own special dish. Just getting together is
              what counts – wherever it happens. Once a year, rain or shine, we
              laugh, talk, and enjoy each other for a few hours. We reminisce and
              make plans – we just are together for one day. We sit and watch the
              kids take a dip or play volleyball. We catch up on careers and
              hobbies – we reconnect. Then we must separate again for another
              year. (If we live far apart, anyhow!)
              There are sad things – my grandmother passed away this year –
              and there are surgeries and lost jobs, etc. but there are many happy
              things, as well – new babies, weddings, and happy events. Most of
              us – all of us who are there - are a year older, and hopefully
              wiser. Our children have grown – one cousin grew 8 inches this
              year! – and all have had accomplishments and achievements.
              There is much to catch up on. We may meet new cousins we didn't
              know we had. One cousin has started up a web site full of old family
              photos on the internet – full of old photos many of us haven't ever
              seen. Now we can all download and print them!
              Friendships are renewed, ideas shared, a few recipes are
              exchanged, prayers are said for those not able to attend or serving
              our country in distant lands, and we all go home richer and feeling
              blessed.
              * * *
              Simple Life Quotes
              "Other things may change us, but we start and end with family."
              ~~Anthony Brandt
              "All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a
              single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope." ~~ Winston
              Churchill


              Picnic Style Corn on the Cob
              The next time you have corn on the cob, get a large mouth glass
              jar. (like a pickle jar) Fill it 3/4 of the way with hot to very hot
              water and then add a stick of butter. The water will melt the butter
              but it will float on top of the water. Put a stick in the end of the
              corn and dunk it in the bottle and it will coat the corn and will
              not miss a spot!
              * * *
              Simple Weekend Ideas
              It's summer, right? We can't wait for Monday to get back to work,
              right? Those reports, phone calls, meetings – just what makes
              summer go `round – NOT! We wait for the weekends! And then what
              happens? They fly by and it's Monday again. So, what can we do to
              enjoy them more? Here are some ideas.

              1) Plan something fun. Use the weekend for fun activities. Take the
              kids to a park or get together with friends. Go biking, hiking,
              flea market shopping, sight seeing, or to a fair or carnival. Do
              something out of the ordinary that you consider pure fun - like
              reading a magazine when your mind insists you should be cleaning. Do
              your cleaning in short spurts after work, and get the kids and hubby
              to help. Weekends are TOO SHORT for too much work! Don't worry
              about a mess!

              2) Don't sleep in. If you need more sleep go to bed earlier during
              the week. Sleeping in not only steals your time, but it also makes
              you more sluggish. Get up early and enjoy the peace and quiet! Have
              coffee on the deck. Stroll through the garden and enjoy all the
              work you've done to the yard. Have blueberry pancakes and crisp
              bacon for a family breakfast!

              3) Create a 15-minute task list.
              Make a list of all those pesky little tasks that eat up your
              Saturdays. You will be amazed at how much weekend time you
              can "free-up" for other more energizing activities if you stop at
              the cleaners, change burned out light bulbs, do a load of laundry,
              reorganize a drawer, clean out the
              refrigerator or weed the garden during the week.

              4) Stay out of the grocery store. Shop during the week when stores
              are less crowded. Plan ahead, get organized and shop with a list
              during the week. Unless of course you consider pushing a cart
              through crowded aisles and standing in long lines fun!

              5) Take Turns with Dinner: Plan for a night off from the usual
              mealtime duties. Call for pizza or order carry out or home delivery
              from your favorite restaurant. Use paper plates and make it easy on
              yourself. Or if cooking is fun for you, prepare a gourmet feast –
              or pot luck! and ask your guests to help with the clean up.

              6) Turn off the TV. Get out and do something interesting! Volunteer
              in the community or spend time with someone who would enjoy your
              company. While canoeing or hiking, pick up trash along the way, to
              do something for mankind.

              7) We know some work has to be done on the weekend. Plan a big home-
              improvement project for a weekend or two weekends of the month. Get
              friends and family to pitch in. Have fun while you are working
              together!

              Relax, be creative, explore new ideas, have some fun, take a break
              from your usual tasks, celebrate life! You will be smiling on
              Monday and your co-workers will wonder what you were up to over the
              weekend!

              Keeping Summer Simple,
              Sheryl
            • Sheryl Simons
              ~~ The Simple Life ~~ by Sheryl Simons I was tickled to death watching my young nephew Jon at the family reunion. My kids are all grown up and I m not around
              Message 6 of 23 , Jul 26, 2004
                ~~ The Simple Life ~~
                by Sheryl Simons

                I was tickled to death watching my young nephew Jon at the
                family reunion. My kids are all grown up and I'm not around young
                children that often. Now Jon is almost 3. He's always a pleasure
                to watch, so sunny and quiet – but this day in particular you could
                almost hear his brain in gear.
                Our family reunion takes place at my Aunt and Uncles place near
                Gladwin, MI. There is always a table set up under the large Maple
                tree by the back door that has large thermos jugs of ice tea,
                lemonade, and Kool-Aid for the kids. As my aunt and I sat chatting,
                we began to watch little Jon, who was just a bit out of range of his
                parents' eyesight. He was pushing the button on one of the big
                thermos jugs and filling a glass with blue Kool-Aid. Since there
                was already another full glass there on the table, it seemed he was
                just having fun filling cups with drink. Pretty harmless. We began
                to giggle. This time he began to take a drink, maybe thinking that
                if he drank more juice he could put more juice in the cup. He
                seemed to really be enjoying watching that blue liquid flow into the
                plastic cups. Sure enough, after a few big gulps, he went back to
                filling the cup. Now this is the essence of "the simple life" if
                there ever is.
                Here was little Jon (who's really quite a bruiser for an almost
                3 year old), and there was my aunt and I just sitting there having a
                good laugh watching him innocently play with a big thermos jug and a
                cup. The sun was shining on the pleasant day. All around us were
                the hum of people talking who hadn't seen each other in nearly a
                year, we'd had plenty of good food to eat, and truly a good time was
                had by all. Of course, we had to laugh at all the juice that little
                boy was drinking and, of course, what goes in must come out -
                eventually. His father caught on to what he was up to, so then Jon
                innocently just brought him a full cup of juice, and then went and
                got the other for himself, almost pretending that he hadn't really
                been having so much fun with that wonderful invention called a
                thermos jug. Later that day, I saw Jon sneak back to that table
                every chance he could to fill another glass or once just to watch
                that juice pour right down on the ground. Well, at least one of us
                was having a great time! It's amazing what a little kid can do with
                a new discovery.
                I can't help wondering what else Jon will learn from this world
                he is just beginning to investigate. Will he grow to see the world
                as a happy place filled with love and people who care about him?
                What will he learn from Sunday School, public school, books,
                television, his neighborhood? Fifteen years or so from now, I hope
                Jon sees a world in which a little boy can still play with a jug of
                Kool-aid and do no harm.
                If your kids are all grown, I hope you get a chance this summer
                to watch a little kid exploring his world and finding out what a
                great place it can be.
                * * *
                It is essential to learn to enjoy life. It really does not make
                sense to go through the motions of existence if one does not
                appreciate as much of it as possible. ~~Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

                "When we look to the unborn child, the real issue is not when life
                begins, but when love begins." ~~ The late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert
                Casey


                * * *

                Green Swimmer Hair???

                Summer brings lots of chances to swim, but for blonds the chlorine
                can turn your hair green! Try washing it out with a mixture of your
                regular shampoo and baking soda. It may take two applications, but
                it usually take the green out. To prevent green hair – wet your
                hair first from a shower or tap. Already wet hair will not soak in
                the chlorine like dry hair. You can also apply conditioner before
                you swim. Just apply, but don't rinse it out. Then after swimming,
                wash and dry as usual. Your hair will nice and silky soft.

                * * *
                Here is a great recipe for all those cherry tomatoes that are
                loading your tomato vines, or will be soon. I think this sound
                yummy! I will be harvesting my first tomatoes very soon. If you
                can't have bacon, I think you could substitute tuna salad, egg
                salad, or any number of fillings!

                BLT Bites

                16 to 20 cherry tomatoes
                1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
                1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
                1/3 cup chopped green onion
                3 tbsps. grated Parmesan cheese
                2 tbsps. snipped fresh parley

                Cut a thin slice off of each tomato top. Scoop out and discard
                pulp. Turn
                the tomato upside down on a paper towel to drain. In a small bowl,
                mix together
                remaining ingredients. Spoon into tomatoes. Refrigerate for several
                hours.

                * * *
                "It is chiefly through books that we enjoy the intercourse with
                superior minds... In the best books, great men talk to us, give us
                their most previous thought, and pour their souls into ours. God be
                thanked for books." --William Ellery Channing

                Keeping it Simple,
                Sheryl



                * * *

                SPECIAL NOTE:

                I am contemplating starting a "Simple Life" Discussion Group. If
                you are interested, please send me an e-mail and let me know. We
                will discuss family ideas, recipes, faith, family values, and, of
                course, gardening ideas.

                thesimple_life@...

                if you are interested in sharing! I will probably need one or two
                co-moderators to help me with the messages. I look forward to
                hearing from you. This is your chance to share your ideas, and not
                just listen to mine!
              • Sheryl Simons
                Death And Taxes??? Who ever came up with the idea that death and taxes were the only certainties, was a bit misguided. Death, taxes, yes, but how about being
                Message 7 of 23 , Jan 10, 2005
                  Death And Taxes???

                  Who ever came up with the idea that death and taxes were the
                  only certainties, was a bit misguided. Death, taxes, yes, but how
                  about being treated unfairly?
                  When I was a kid I had this horrible bus driver named Sue.
                  That long ago, and I still remember her name. She had long reddish
                  hair and long fingernails, and in those days, she could smoke while
                  driving bus! I always tried to sit toward the back, just to get
                  away from that terrible smell.
                  Sue wanted order on the bus. Now, I can't blame her there, but
                  I was an orderly bus rider. I thought school was like a torture
                  chamber and the last afternoon bell was my ticket to freedom. I was
                  just minutes from a snack maybe a chore or two and then freedom to
                  ride bikes or play baseball on the corner. But first – the bus
                  ride!
                  Sue had a very annoying habit of stopping the bus for what
                  seemed forever, just to thwart a small bit of chaos. She'd
                  holler, "I'm not moving this bus an inch until it's quiet back
                  there!" I sat innocently in my seat, gazing out at the scenery or
                  lack it, just wishing that bus would get back in motion and take me
                  home to the neighborhood where fun with my friends clicked away with
                  each moment of the clock until we'd all be scrambling home for
                  dinner. And so I waited until the fracas was over, fingers tapping,
                  and I did eventually get home.
                  We all get treated unfairly. It's inevitable. We trust and
                  that trust is destroyed. A first boyfriend breaks up with us, we
                  lose jobs for unknown reasons, we wait in doctor offices for two
                  hours before our we get called, we get home with the wrong pizza, we
                  get a ticket when everyone on the highway is passing us! We all
                  have been treated unfairly, but that doesn't make it much easier to
                  know were not alone.
                  But what if it is for a good reason? Maybe it was meant to
                  happen for us to learn a lesson about how it feels so that we will
                  learn to treat others with love and fairness. Still doesn't make it
                  easy, does it? Maybe when we are in that situation we will act with
                  kindness and understanding. There is truth, but we have to ask for
                  it.
                  The really hard part is helping our kids learn from
                  unfairness. They get cut from the team, or get sick on the day of
                  the field trip. Ouch! The more we take it in stride, the better.
                  Sure it hurts for a while, but there will be more opportunities.
                  A friend recently lost a job she really loved. But she refuses
                  to be upset. She honestly believes there is a better situation just
                  waiting around the corner for her. I bet she's right.

                  * * *


                  Simple Rice Cooking on the Stove

                  Put one cup of water for each 1/2 cup of rice into saucepan. Bring
                  to a boil, turn down to simmer, set the timer for 14 minutes, and
                  put the lid on - all in that order to avoid it boiling over. To be
                  sure, add a spoon of oleo in he pan with the rice and water. In 14
                  minutes turn off the heat, take off the lid, and your rice will be
                  fluffy.

                  Simple Microwave Rice

                  Using a microwave rice cooker, put 1 c rice, 2 c water and
                  sometimes a t or so of chicken flavoring in the cooker. Microwave
                  on high for 20 min and fluff. Rice is better than perfect--not
                  sticky, not dry. ( adding 1T of olive oil -this separates the rice
                  easier.) Also, long grain rice is less sticky than short grain.
                  (Check your microwave recipe book for exact times for your microwave
                  rice.)

                  Simple Baked Batter- Dipped Veggies


                  1 c instant potato flakes
                  1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese
                  1/2 t celery salt
                  1/4 t garlic powder
                  1/4 c butter melted and cooled
                  2 eggs
                  4-5 c fresh bite size vegetables (mushrooms carrots broccoli peppers
                  zucchini or your choice)
                  dipping sauce (Ranch dressing)


                  * * *
                  Simple Quotes

                  "There is a direct relationship between joy and effort. The joy of
                  success is in ratio to the amount of effort expended to achieve it."
                  ~~ Denis Waitley

                  "I can't imagine a person becoming a success who doesn't give this
                  game of life everything he's got." ~~ Walter Cronkite

                  "There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between
                  mediocrity and accomplishment." ~~ Norman Vincent Peale



                  Keeping it Simple,
                  Sheryl
                • Sheryl
                  ~~ Back to the Past!~~ For a few years when I was a kid, we lived in Flushing, MI. Our family bought a house on Main Street that needed lots of fixing up, but
                  Message 8 of 23 , Jan 17, 2005
                    ~~ Back to the Past!~~

                    For a few years when I was a kid, we lived in Flushing, MI.
                    Our family bought a house on Main Street that needed lots of fixing
                    up, but Dad and Mom enjoyed doing that sort of thing. I can still
                    remember the day a big book case was smashed out between the dining
                    room and living room to make one big family room. Some of our family
                    had come to help on the big day. Wallpapering and painting were
                    done. It looked nice, from what I can remember, but I was a bit too
                    busy with my friends to notice much.
                    I was exploring the wide new world of school. My friend Robin,
                    lived across the street and we had lots of good times. I remember
                    talking and talking. Since she was two years older than I, she
                    taught me a lot about the world. What a laugh I'd have today if I
                    could go back and listen to a tape recording of those conversations!
                    The butcher's family lived down the street toward town. They had
                    8 children, two of which were twin boys. I didn't know them well,
                    but when they got BB guns for Christmas one year, I sure heard about
                    that! It didn't take long before everyone in the neighborhood knew
                    that one had shot the other in the eye! I don't remember seeing
                    them much after that. Maybe their mother didn't let them play
                    outdoors ever again. Or maybe I was afraid I'd never live through
                    playing in their yard, but I stayed away.
                    I didn't know just the kids. There was a lady, Mrs. Smithson,
                    with a huge crystal chandelier and another lady, who lived in a big
                    brick house and had cocker spaniels. I remember her house because
                    it had a one round window like a ship window that I thought was so
                    cool.
                    A boy, Joe Provost moved into the neighborhood and was in my
                    class at school. I don't think he liked me, because he never played
                    with us around the neighborhood, but I thought he was the handsomest
                    boy ever, while we lived there.
                    And then there was Katie. She wasn't as cool as Robin because
                    she was the same age as me, and Robin was very big stuff, being way
                    up there in 2nd grade, but she was fun to play with, especially when
                    no one was available to help me cross the street and go to Robin's
                    house. (It was a main street thing!)
                    Now Katie had a big brother and I don't remember his name, but
                    he was an older man about 10. He was also a patrol boy – now that
                    was big! I was at their house one day when a package arrived for
                    him. I was totally in awe. Right there in the kitchen was an
                    autographed photo of the Lone Ranger on his big horse (Silver, I
                    think.)! It was him on his beautiful horse, forelegs pawing the
                    air.. There were a few other photos – all big glossies, as well. It
                    probably was a birthday gift, or something.
                    Now I had seen the Lone Ranger. Tonto was his sidekick through
                    all kinds of trouble – his Kimosabe! (meaning trusted friend.)
                    One summer a girl came to live with her grandparents. I don't
                    remember her name, but there was always a big white horse in the
                    field, just pass the old high school. There was a small pony, as
                    well. I never got to ride the horse or the pony, but I can remember
                    sitting on the saddles in the barn and riding for hours. Those days
                    we were the heroes in our own stories.
                    There was also Roy Rogers. Those were such great stories for
                    kids, stories that had a moral code to live by and be proud of.
                    Remember those good ol' days?

                    ROY ROGER'S RIDER'S RULES

                    1. Be neat and clean.
                    2. Be courteous and polite.
                    3. Always obey your parents.
                    4. Protect the weak and help them.
                    5. Be brave but never take chances.
                    6. Study hard and learn all you can.
                    7. Be kind to animals and care for them.
                    8. Eat all your food and never waste any.
                    9. Love God and go to Sunday School regularly.
                    10. Always respect our flag and our country.

                    * * * * *

                    Simple `Catalina' Dressing

                    2/3 c ketchup, 1/4 c oil, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 c brown sugar, 1/2 t
                    salt,1 t mustard (not mustard powder),1 t onion powder
                    Whisk or blend in the blender and whirl it until it is smooth.
                    Store in a pint size canning jar. Makes about 1 1/3 cups. Children
                    are especially fond of this one. Great for dipping chicken pieces.
                    * * *Determined Grandmother * * *
                    A grandmother was very upset that her son and daughter-in-law
                    was moving to Europe while he was in the service – and taking her 6
                    month old grandson. She feared he would never know her when he
                    returned, and she cried and cried. After they left she hit upon a
                    winning idea. She bought some special bed-time story books and had
                    her friends take pictures of her holding each book. The she read
                    the books slowly into a tape recorder, gluing the photos inside each
                    cover. She then mailed them, with instructions to read one book
                    each night, and always show her grandson the photo, and play the
                    tapes with her voice. Several years past and ever couple months
                    she mailed more tapes and books. When the family finally moved
                    home, her grandson came running up to her at the airport
                    yelling, "You're my Grandmother, you're my grandmother!"

                    * * * Cheap Kitchen Redo * * *

                    For the past year or so, I've been changing my kitchen over to
                    blue and white. They've always been my favorite colors for a
                    kitchen. I had a lot of blue and white items, already. I didn't go
                    out and buy anything, except some material for curtains and paint.
                    This past week we stopped at a second hand store and I found a
                    beautiful set of dishes for $5.50! I brought them home, scrubbed
                    them up with baking soda. It's a really nice pattern that is
                    perfect for my kitchen. To me, it's more fun to search for items
                    over time than to spend lots of money for something new. Sometimes
                    you can exchange things with a friend who wants to change kitchen
                    colors, too. It's amazing what you can find at a second-hand store
                    in an out-of-the way small town.

                    Keeping it Simple,

                    Sheryl
                  • Sheryl Simons
                    The Simple Life Imagine for a moment... By Sheryl Simons The happier you are with the simple things, the easier it is to be happy. * * * Summer is
                    Message 9 of 23 , May 5 8:08 AM
                      The Simple Life

                      Imagine for a moment...
                      By Sheryl Simons
                      "The happier you are with the simple things, the easier it is to be
                      happy."

                      * * *
                      Summer is almost upon us. But, before we know it, it will be
                      over. Imagine for a moment what would be your favorite thing to do
                      on a perfect summer day. Make a note of it. Can you do it once a
                      week this summer? What about once a month?
                      My husband and I found a perfect and remote sandy beach on
                      one of recent trips. It's a hike to get there, but not many people
                      would bother hiking nearly 2 miles to spend a few hours on a beach,
                      no matter how beautiful. We plan to visit it this summer,
                      hopefully more than once. It would be easy to reach September and
                      miss it, though. There are so many other things that could stand in
                      the way. We might work on the garden, or be too busy working.
                      Often, families don't take time off to play. We set
                      impossibly high standards and race around to try to meet them.
                      Before it's here, maybe your family can set down together and make a
                      list of what is their best idea for their perfect summer day. How
                      about spending a day canoeing? Or a week camping? How about a
                      fishing trip to your favorite spot? Maybe just a day in a hammock
                      with a good book or a game of golf with your son. What ever your
                      flavor – it's more than Baskin Robbins when it comes to summer. No
                      one has a job so important you can't take the weekends off to play,
                      or if you work on weekends, enjoy the weekdays off. However you do
                      it, spend your summer days as if there were no tomorrow.


                      "We all need encouragement. We can live without it just as a
                      young tree can live without fertilizer, but unless we receive that
                      warm nurturing, we never reach our full potential, and like the tree
                      left to itself, we seldom bear fruit." ~~Florence Littauer

                      "Neglect not the gift that is in thee." ~~ 1 Timothy 4:14

                      "The secret of a happy and successful life is to be
                      content with the abilities God gave and discontented with the use
                      you make of them." ~~ Burton Hillis

                      * * *

                      Simple Coconut Cream Pie
                      3 packages vanilla pudding mix (9 oz.)
                      5 oz cool whip
                      4 1/2 c milk
                      1 1/2 c coconut
                      1/2 c toasted coconut
                      2 baked pie shells

                      Mix first 4 items. Pour in baked pie shells and top with toasted
                      coconut. Chill.
                      Makes 2 pies.

                      Simple Pizza Sauce
                      1 8 oz c Tomato Sauce
                      1 t Dry Oregano
                      1/2 t Marjoram
                      1/2 t Dry Basil
                      1/2 t Garlic salt
                      1 t dried onion
                      * * *
                      Container Gardening Tips

                      Plants in containers need fertilizer regularly. Since they
                      are not in soil, they need feeding even more. They also tend to try
                      out faster, so often need watering once or twice daily, especially
                      in full sun. Light colored containers dry out slower than dark
                      containers that draw heat. Also, reduce watering by mulching
                      plants. Make sure when watering that you completely saturate
                      plants. Container soil is actually resistant to water, so it needs
                      a good soaking, regularly.
                      Rotate plants by turning containers to give plants even
                      sun/shade. Bring plants back to full bloom by trimming long droopy
                      stems, and deadheading spent blooms. If plants are allowed to go to
                      seed, it tells the plant to stop producing flowers. There are some
                      new hybrids that do not need deadheading, such as wave petunia.
                      Reduce costs of plants by starting with just a couple plants
                      and starting some plants by seed. Once the seed get sprouted and
                      up, add more plants on your porch and deck when they are ready.
                      Keep shade annuals, such as Lobelia with other shade
                      annuals. Don't' mix with annuals such as petunias that need full
                      sun because their needs are so different.
                      In case of mistakes, keep a few extra annuals handy to
                      replace any plants that might get too dried out. Put dried out
                      plants with any life left in the ground, trim off all dead growth,
                      and keep well watered until it perks up again.

                      Keeping it Simple,
                      Sheryl
                    • Sheryl Simons
                      The Simple Life By Sheryl Simons The happier you are with the simple things, the easier it is to be happy. There was nothing simple about the terrible
                      Message 10 of 23 , Sep 3, 2005
                        The Simple Life
                        By Sheryl Simons

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

                        There was nothing simple about the terrible hurricane that
                        shattered the lives of probably millions of people on the gulf coast
                        of our country. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have
                        lost loved ones, homes, and most everything but the clothes on their
                        backs. Most of us have never known such tragedy. Most of us have
                        never gone without a drink of water for more than a few minutes when
                        we needed one, let alone several days. We pray that their throats
                        will be quenched, and their tummies filled. That their needs of all
                        kinds will be met. Many may never see their old neighborhoods
                        again, nor their way of life.
                        I can not imagine if in one day every single thing that I'd
                        spent my life working for simply disappeared.
                        I was so happy to see the local Walmart parking lot and the
                        volunteers this past week, who worked to fill the semi-trucks to
                        take food and supplies to the refuges in the south. In one day, not
                        one, but three trucks were filled. Parents volunteered while their
                        children watched, and learned to have a heart of compassion. That
                        is how our children learn.
                        Our country came together during 9-11, and we will do it again.
                        I'm
                        not so sure that rebuilding a city that is below sea level is a good
                        idea, and I'd vote to move it, myself. But to where do you move
                        a
                        city? For now, we just need to focus on bringing some security and
                        peace to so many lives that have been turned upside down. But what
                        we can be thankful for, is that even in tragedy, good things can
                        happen and the compassion of humans can warm our hearts, and God
                        will show us his goodness in many ways. Maybe our true thankfulness
                        is what bubbles out in helpfulness to others. Isn't it amazing
                        how
                        other's trouble helps us notice how much we have to be thankful
                        for?
                        * * *

                        "The world needs all the help you can give by way of cheerful,
                        optimistic, inspiring thought and personal example." ~~Grenville
                        Kleiser


                        "The small choices and decisions we make a hundred times a day
                        add
                        up to determining the kind of world we live in." ~~Harold S.
                        Kushner

                        * * *

                        Simple Macaroni and Three Cheese Casserole

                        Ingredients:

                        2 Cups Elbow Macaroni; cooked al dente
                        ¾ Cup Parmesan Cheese
                        ¾ Cup Asiago Cheese
                        ¾ Cup Mozzarella Cheese

                        2 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
                        2 Tbs. Flour
                        3 Cups Heavy Cream (or)
                        Evaporated Skim Milk
                        Salt and Pepper to taste
                        ½ Cup Breadcrumbs
                        2 Tbs. Melted Butter

                        Directions:

                        1. Cook the macaroni until al dente. Drain and set aside 2. Using a
                        medium saucepan,
                        melt the butter and combine with the flour and stir until a thick
                        roux develops. Now add the cream and stir well to combine and make
                        sure there are no lumps. Add the cheese and stir continuously so the
                        cheese is well incorporated. Add the macaroni and mix well. Season
                        to taste. 3. Spray a 9x13 oven safe pan with pan release and add the
                        macaroni, top with the bread crumbs mixed with the 2 TBLS. Melted
                        butter and place into a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for about
                        15-20 minutes.


                        Keeping it Simple,
                        Sheryl
                      • 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 11 of 23 , Jan 9, 2006
                          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,

                          Sheryl



                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • 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 12 of 23 , Jan 9, 2006
                            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,

                            Sheryl



                            [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 13 of 23 , Jan 16, 2006
                              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
                            • 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 14 of 23 , Jan 24, 2006
                                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
                                windowsill.
                                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
                              • 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 15 of 23 , Jan 31, 2006
                                  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 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
                                • 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 16 of 23 , Mar 1, 2006
                                    "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
                                    things.
                                    * * *
                                    "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.
                                    * * *
                                    Produce----Yield
                                    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
                                    mashed
                                    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

                                    --
                                  • 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 17 of 23 , Mar 6, 2006
                                      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 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
                                      this."

                                      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
                                      spending.



                                      Keeping it Simple,
                                      Sheryl


                                      [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 18 of 23 , Mar 14, 2006
                                        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 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
                                        benefit.
                                        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
                                      • 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 19 of 23 , Mar 21, 2006
                                          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
                                          mirror.

                                          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
                                        • 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 20 of 23 , Jun 28, 2006
                                            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
                                            together.
                                            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.
                                            Garfield
                                            * * *
                                            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
                                          • 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 21 of 23 , Jun 25, 2007
                                              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 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
                                              fruit.

                                              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
                                              other.

                                              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,
                                              Sheryl

                                              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
                                              columns.
                                              http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thesimple_life
                                            • 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 22 of 23 , Jan 28, 2008
                                                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
                                                Add:
                                                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,
                                                Sheryl

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