Free Kindle Books Today – Eggs and Clutter

I’ve downloaded a few free Kindle book titles today. Note that often Amazon has free book titles for only a very short time, so they may revert back to regular prices at any time.

First, I found a title on egg storage. Even though we sell eggs, we often seem to have an extra dozen. I freeze many of them, but am interested in other methods of preserving.  Here is the free book (for now) link:

How To Preserve Eggs: Freezing, Pickling, Dehydrating, Larding, Water Glassing, & More


Next, I found two titles on simplicity and clearing clutter:

The Joy of Less – Volume 2 – Finding Simplicity: How to “let go” and learn to love yourself on the path to a simplified, de-cluttered life

The Joy of Less: Volume 3 – Purging: A step by step Guide to a Clutter Free Environment


I hope these free Kindle books are still available for you!






 An Ernest Holmes Quote


I’ve been reading and also working in the gardens this last week.  Here is a quote from Ernest Holmes that has caused me to spend time in thought while I pulled weeds and admired flowers:

Ernest Holmes Quote with Cape Cod beach background

You cannot heal anyone of his trouble if it is the result of some mental attitude which he will not surrender.”  – Ernest Holmes

I guess we each have had times when we needed to hear this. It’s not an easy idea to accept, but that doesn’t make it any less true. So many times our loved ones have to find their own path. We can only watch and pray.


Cape Cod beach photo by Patti Tokar Canton

 Wisdom from Rumi

Rumi quote

I have lived on the lip of insanity wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door.  The door opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside.




Rumi Quotes – Wisdom for today

Photo of door courtesy of artur84 and

 On the Verge of Berries



Strawberries on a cutting boardI walked across the meadow to the wooded area of our property tonight.  We call it “the woods” even though it is only about 2 or so acres of trees.  Nothing like Pooh Bear’s Hundred Acre Woods.

This year it looks like we are going to have plenty of blackberries.  A few weeks ago, the whole woods seemed graced by clouds of small white flowers on the blackberry bushes.  Now the flowers have been replaced with hard, green, baby berries.  I wonder how long before they turn into tender, ripe blackberries?

As well, the mulberry trees and bushes are covered with green berries, although there are some patches of pale pink berries in the first stages of ripening.  It will still be awhile before they ripen to purple-black mulberries.  (Check my earlier blog post on picking mulberries.)  We should have all the mulberries we care to pick this year, too.

Back in the yard, the raspberries are in the stages of ripening, too, although it looks like the blackberries will ripen before the raspberries do.  We’ll see.  Nature is in charge and I am just the rewarded spectator.

I didn’t even mention the best part so far:  Chris picked well over a gallon of sweet, bright red strawberries a few days ago!  And there are more strawberries almost ready for picking.

It’s times like these when I see the berries, the woods, the vast blue skies over the fields, the trees filled with bird song, the chickens grazing contentedly in their yard, the newly planted flowers blooming in the flower beds, (and so much more) that I feel peaceful, happy and very grateful.

Yes, life is berry, berry good.  :)


See also How to Pick Raspberries on the Simple Life Blog.

 Listen or Be Alone



couple refusing to listen to each other“When we stop listening to the other person in a relationship, we’re no longer in relationship with them.  We are by ourselves in a room with another person.”
~Brooks Palmer, from his book “Clutter Busting Your Life

According to Brooks Palmer, listening means really hearing what the person is trying to say or trying to protect.

It does not mean hearing the other person only when they say what you want or expect them to say.

Listening does not mean waiting impatiently for them to stop talking so you can correct them or trump them with what you want to say.

It does not mean pretending to listen while you really watch TV, send text messages, or make grocery lists in your mind.

How to Listen

Listening does mean being vulnerable to hearing a perspective that is different from what you want or expect.

It does mean listening deeper than words and realizing that anger (in all its forms, including sarcasm, bitterness, and resentfulness) is really protecting something – some pain or fear.

It does mean letting the other person have their own opinion and further it means listening to that opinion with curiosity and non-judgement.

Learning how to listen better also means looking at your own interactions and recognizing when you are protecting some pain or fear or confusion by being angry or, by being bitter or critical or caustic … or just plain bitchy.

It even means not being plastic polite or distant or even pretending to be agreeable just to avoid a disagreement or unpleasant talk.

It means always adjusting back to the truth, back to the reality of matter, back to the core.

It means being willing to risk having hurt feelings, uncomfortable feelings, and confusion just for the sake of really hearing, really making the effort to connect.

It means letting go of any intentions to change the other person.


When you learn how to listen better in a relationship, it will sometimes feel risky, confusing, or painful, but it will bring a much deeper and more truthful connection.  Isolation is replaced with respect, curiosity, new perspectives, and love.

A Listening Experiment

Habits must be consciously changed and it may take some work to learn to listen to your loved one.   Try starting with one 15-30 minute section each day where you  try to say as little as possible while listening fully as much as possible.  Make an effort to observe, understand, and be completely without judgement for those few minutes.  You can even make a game of it and listen as though your loved one is someone you just met and want to get to know better.

It pays to listen.  Sometimes you learn things.

Are you listening?


Image courtesy of and David Castillo Dominici.



 5 Decluttering Tips

I like to read through other blogs and websites as I have time.  Right now I’m spending a lot of time with my accounting firm, so I don’t read as much as I’d like.  But I was impressed with this video and wanted to share it.   Sometimes, maybe even most times, just finding a place to start and beginning to take regular steps is a good way to begin to simplify your life as well as make improvements that will make your life happier and more satisfying.

This is from a blog I recently discovered that has some very good advice for guiding your life as well as this video with good tips for decluttering your life:


The blog is The Utopian Life – Practical Wisdom for Personal Evolution.

What do you think?  Ready to start decluttering?


 Homemade Weed Killer – Long- Lasting Effects

In May, I posted an article Natural Homemade Weed Killer to show how I had treated our brick walkway with a hot water weed killer.

Yes, it was that simple: Just pour boiling water directly on the weeds, making sure to soak each one.  It is definitely the lazy way to kill weeds.

Of course, you have to be careful not to splash the hot water on your feet.  Or legs.  Or for that matter, anywhere on yourself, your pets, and your family. But with proper safety precautions, I found the hot water weed killer to be extremely effective.

I thought you might like to see a follow-up on the effectiveness of the treatment.

Here is the starting photo from last May when our brick walkway was overgrown with dandelions:

Dandelions growing on brick walkway








In the original post, I showed how the walkway looked the next day.  All of the weeds were brown and dead.

A couple of weeks later, a few baby dandelions grew back.  I treated the walkway again with fresh brewed boiling water.

A month or so later, I had some hot boiled water from making spaghetti, so I treated the walkway once again because a few more little dandelions had sprung up.

Happily, that proved to  be the end.  Here is what the walkway looks like now.

Brick Walkway Full Sept 2014











Not only is the walkway weed-free, but there are no harmful pesticides, and the only cost was the energy cost to boil the water!  The treatment has lasted all season.

I think the best part was that I didn’t have to painstakingly dig weeds out of each and every crack in the bricks.  My hands and nails are grateful, too.



 Natural Homemade Weed Killer – Easy and Effective

I’m still reveling in the arrival of spring. The apple trees are blossoming, the strawberries have white blooms, and the potatoes and onions are planted. But there is a dark side to spring … the dandelions are prolific! So begins my search for natural homemade weed killers.

I use as little pesticides as possible on our property. This works fairly well except for the brick walkway and the gravel driveway. With these we have to ramp things up a bit.

I recently read that boiling water will kill a weed right down to its roots. Hmmm. Water? That’s about as natural as you can get. I decided to try it.

The first place I have tried it is our brick walkway. Here are some shots from yesterday, before the boiling water experiment:

Dandelions growing on brick walkway



First, I filled a stockpot with water and brought it to an old-fashioned boil.

Stockpot on stove with glass measuring cup on counter


The stockpot full of boiling water was too heavy and dangerous for me to carry while it was full, so I used a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup to carry the water outside.  I also used a heavy oven mitt and hot pad.  Yes, they are a little grungy, but that is what I used.

2014-05-10 001 2014-05-10 010








Before I filled the cup with the boiling water, I made sure the door was unlocked, the path was clear, and the cats were safely out of the way.


Now for the weed killing.  I poured about a cup or so of the boiling water right on the center of each plant and on its leaves:

2014-05-10 001 2014-05-10 008



I carried the water in the measuring cup until the stockpot was about half full, then I felt comfortable carrying the entire  pot of remaining water at once.  I poured the water on all the dandelions in the brick walkway and also had enough to pour on some of the weeds along the edge of the walkway.   I heated another stockpot of water and repeated the process on some of the bigger plants on the walkway and also several on the driveway:

Dandelions along the side of the brick walkway


Here is what they looked like when I was finished:

Dandelions slightly wilted after boiling water has been poured on them


Brick walkway after treating dandelions with boiing water. Dandelions are slightly wilted and still green.



All in all I had spent about 10 minutes in the actual application, not including waiting for the water to boil.  I did some kitchen cleaning while I was waiting for that.

The Next Day – Natural Homemade Weed Killer Success!

The best part came this morning (the day after the boiling water treatment:


Brick walkway the day after the boiling water treatment.  All are brown and wilted.


Here is a closer look:


Dandelions brown and dead in brick walkway.



Pretty impressive – weeds killed with plain water.

Nature is impressive, too.  Take a close look at the dandelion in the upper left.  Note that the determined little weed used it’s last bit of energy to open up it’s seed pod.  Unless I pull up that white bloom of seeds, the next wind will scatter a hundred or more dandelion seeds in my yard.  What a marvel of species preservation.


You may be wondering about the weeds that were treated along the walkway edge and in the driveway.  The boiling water treatment was not quite as effective:

Dandelions along the walkway - only one appears to be wilted.


Only one of the dandelions on this edge seems to be brown and dying.


The treatment seemed to get a few more of the driveway weeds, but it appears to me that I may have to treat them again to finish them off.  Or maybe I needed to use a lot more water with the initial treatment.

Wilted dandelions in the gravel driveway.

(You may need to click on the picture to get it to display clearly.  My preview is showing it a little fuzzy.)


All in all, I am pleased and encouraged with this method.  It definitely works well on the brick walkway.  It is moderately effective on the driveway, but I will continue experimenting.  I do know that anytime I boil water, such as for making spaghetti, I will try to toss the hot water on a patch of weeds in the driveway.


A note of caution: this method will kill the roots of any plant it comes in contact with.  So make sure that any plants you want to keep do not have a root system right next to the weed that you are dousing in boiling water.

Of course, you must use common sense and protect yourself and anyone around you from getting burned from the boiling water.  Use this method at your own risk.  Boiling water will cause severe burns. Be careful!


If you have any effective natural homemade week killer methods or recipes, please share them with us in the comments.


Photos by Patti Tokar -Copyright 2014 – All Rights Reserved











 Gardening Inspirations

I’ve been busy finishing up tax season and am now starting to turn my attention to the gardens.  It’s been a long, hard winter here in Indiana.  Spring finally arrived with a fanfare of crocuses and daffodils.  Welcome, Spring!

Here are some inspiring sites to get you in a Spring kind of mood ….

1.  Top 20 Clever and Simple Gardening Hacks

This is the first one and I’m putting it to use immediately.  I was just getting ready to buy some peat pots.

Make biodegradeable planter out of toilet paper rolls.

gardening hacks 1 Top 20 Clever and Simple Gardening Hacks

(Photo from

There are, of course, 19 more hacks, each one practical as well as lovely.


2.  Gorgeous Night Gardens – Amazing Night Plants


Well isn’t that something?  I hadn’t thought of enjoying the gardens at night, too.  I have Dusty Miller plants that I grow every year, as well as Lavender.  I may have to plant some Silver Sage, too, and take a few moonlight walks this summer.

Moonlight Tree










Photo – / domdeen


3.  Garden Craziness

This one is intriguing.  Love that creative spirit.   Abandon the practical; have something for the sheer joy of it.  (Maybe the full moon in the photo above is affecting me.)Pooktre Tree Shapers


Pooktre Tree Shapers

Pooktre Tree Shapers


Pete, Tree person and Becky







Photo courtesy of


Do you have any favorite or intriguing gardening sites?  Any gardening inspirations?







 11 Ideas for Easy Handmade Gifts

Let’s get this clear:  A handmade gift is one of those gifts that can go terribly wrong.  If it doesn’t fit, is the wrong color, wrong style, or if it’s just plain ugly, it can’t be returned.

Mothers and grandmothers will, of course, absolutely love a handmade gift, any handmade gift, from their child or grandchild – even if it is the most puzzling, atrocious creation they’ve ever beheld.

Everyone else – be careful.  Your handmade gift may make some very awkward moments.

Well chosen and crafted, a handmade gift can be a delightful way to show someone how well you know them and how much you care about them.

Handmade gifts can also be great last minute gifts.

That said, I’ve been thinking about handmade gifts that have a good chance of being well received. Here are some ideas.

[12/07/16 Broken Links were updated and replaced]

11 Ideas for Handmade Gifts

1.   Make an Apron

This is a good gift for the person who likes to bake and cook. Especially when baking or cooking with flour, most cooks will at least once in a while want to wear an apron to keep their clothes from getting splatters and flour smudges.  Unless you are quite sure of the person’s taste, avoid exotic or cheesy designs and go for functional, yet pretty.

One thing that makes an apron perfect as a handmade gift is that it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece in order to be functional.  In fact, if an apron is too pretty the cook might be reluctant to wear it and risk staining it!

Here are a few easy apron instructions that I found:

30 Free Apron Patterns  Free Vintage Apron Patterns

The instructions are detailed and the aprons are lovely.

Martha Stewart has instructions for a Baker’s Apron


2.  Sachets

These are nice because they are meant to be tucked away in a drawer, which takes a lot of the pressure off of making them look perfect.

 Martha Stewart has a simple instructions for Patterned Sachets


3.  Little Notebook

This makes a small notebook that is nice for keeping next to the phone or in the car.  Add a pen to complete the gift.

For the really creative, this can be used to make an actual book, such as a book of original poems, or a book of quotes.

See Kate Sew – A Little Tutorial for Making Little Books

4.  Bath snowballs

– made with Epsom salts, so can be used for a foot soak instead.

Fragrant Bath Snowballs

These are very pretty as well as practical.


5.  Planted arrangement – spices, herbs, flowers

Try this Mini Succulent Garden from  Real Simple

or Christmas Flower Gift

6. Secret Treasures Book

I’m not particularly fond of cutting up perfectly readable books, so I suggest using a book that is hopelessly outdated, or perhaps has damaged or missing inside pages.  As long as the cover and spine are in good shape, this project can make an attractive hidden storage book.

How2dostuff has good instructions for How to Make a Secret Hollow Book

7.  Family Calendar

If you have a printer and a word processing program such as MSWord or OpenOffice you can make a personalized calendar.  Use photos of the family, the pets, the house, the surrounding city, or even favorite vacation photos for each month.  If possible, note birthdays, anniversaries, and other special days on the calendar.

Here are some calendar templates Photo Calendar

Microsoft Office has many free calendar templates


8.  Cookies or Bread in a Jar

– layer the dry ingredients for baked goods in an attractive pattern in a jar.  Be sure to attach a card or printout with the recipe and baking instructions.

Here is one for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Quick Bread

And one for Cowgirl Cookies

 M & M Cookies in a Jar

Christmas Cookies in a Jar



I love these beautiful bookmarks you can make with stray earrings


10.  Oilcloth Receipt Wallet

This one I personally like .  It’s unique as well as practical.  It can be used in a car or purse to neatly store all those little receipts, sales tickets, and scraps of paper.  It can also be used for storing the same small papers in a drawer or on a desk.  If you avoid the flowered patterns and go for a masculine color, this is even a great gift for the man in your life to keep track of papers in the garage or glove box.

Oilcloth Receipt Wallet

11.  Things I love about you list

There are many variations on this one … but I really like this one that uses a deck of cards:

52 Reasons i love you – this is a gallery showing many variations of the card book.  You can also purchase and download a template on this site if you are in a hurry.

50 Reason Why I Love You Jar – this sweet idea uses candy and small stickers to deliver the messages

A key to this gift is to make it personal.  Try to stay away from cliches like “You help me ” and instead be more specific “I love how you open the garage door for me when I get home.”


Hopefully these will give you some ideas for handmade gifts.  Now, you’d better pick your gift and get started if you want to get it done in time!

Merry Christmas!  I hope you and your family have a holiday filled with peace, joy, love, and prosperity.


Related posts:  Fat Dollar – Inexpensive Gift Ideas

Simple Life – Meaningful Gift Ideas

Fat Dollar – Last Minute Low Dollar Gift Ideas

Related posts from The Fat Dollar –  More Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas – $10 or Less!

Awesome, Yet Inexpensive Gift Ideas