My New Motto to Live By

My new motto to live by (long story).  Thanks to Susie at The Busy Woman for making the meme for me!

Special Mother’s Day eBook Give-Away!

  • UPDATE: The special Mother’s Day ebook give-away has ended, but there are reduced prices on several of the titles.

The ebook versions of three (3!) of my recently released (or re-released) books are FREE this week!  Tell your friends! :)   And if you don’t have a Kindle, no worries … you can download a free Kindle reading app for your computer, tablet, or smart phone!

41rIlTMZdiLThe Original Simple Mom’s Idea Book

Hints and hacks for home and family.  The Original Simple Mom’s Idea Book contains tips and suggestions for everything from cooking, saving money, celebrating the holidays, and just generally raising a family. If you’ve been looking for some simple ideas for life and homemaking … from someone who’s been around the block more than once or twice … look no further. Have no fear, the Original Simple Mom is here!

BookCoverImageMix-n-Match Recipes

Creative ideas for today’s busy kitchens.  Do you remember that old children’s story, Stone Soup? Everyone came along and threw a little of this and a little of that into the pot with the stone, and before their eyes, the first unofficial Mix and Match soup was born! And remember how much they all loved it? Contributing something to the finished product goes a long way toward increasing a child’s enjoyment of their meal.

Just think of Mix-n-Match cooking as an art form all its own. This book will give you the general guidelines and starting points—you take it from there and see what tasty concoctions your kitchen has hiding in the dark recesses of its shelves and drawers. To get started using this book, you won’t need to run out to the store to stock up on hard to find ingredients. Just pick from what you already have on hand.  Save time, save money, and save your sanity!

51BlGAcUHnLA Twaddle-Free Education

An introduction to Charlotte Mason’s timeless educational ideas.  Are you disappointed with dumbed-down reading material (“twaddle”) written for children? Do you wish for your children to feast their hearts and minds on noble ideas, fine art, and great literature? Are you hoping your children gain an appreciation of nature and a deep understanding of natural sciences? Most importantly, do you want your children to develop a lifetime love of learning? If you answered “yes,” you may discover a Charlotte Mason-inspired twaddle-free education is just what you’ve been looking for. In the mid-1990’s, I set up one of the first Charlotte Mason homeschooling websites and edited The Charlotte Mason Monthly ezine. I currently edit The Charlotte Mason eMagazine.

Hurry!  These special Mother’s Day offers are only good through Thursday, May 14th.  After that the ebooks return to their regular price of $2.99.  Feel free to pass this information onto your friends.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Announcing: The Original Simple Mom’s Idea Book — available today!

41rIlTMZdiLI’m excited to announce that my book, The Original Simple Mom’s Idea Book: Hints and Hacks for Home and Family, was just released. (This book was first released in 2007 as The Simple Mom’s Idea Book, but I revised the title to avoid confusion).

If you missed getting your copy the first time around, I’m pleased to tell you that it’s available once again!

You can order the new edition online from at:

Soon available in digital Kindle format, too!

Contents Include:

Homemaking Ideas

  • Simplifying Phone Calls
  • Saving on Home Heating Costs
  • Keeping Your Summer Organized
  • Simplifying Party Planning

Seasonal Ideas

  • Valentine’s Day on a Shoestring
  • Frugal Easter Basket Ideas
  • Teacher Appreciation Ideas
  • Successful New Year’s Resolutions

Family Ideas

  • Friendship Bags
  • Family Entertainment on a Budget
  • Frugal Family Field Trip Ideas
  • 200+ Summertime Fun Ideas for Kids

Kitchen & Cooking Ideas

  • Emergency Cooking Substitutions
  • Vegetable “Hide-and-Sneak”
  • Building a Better Burger
  • Healthy and Inexpensive Meat Substitute
  • Beating the Breakfast Rush Hour
  • The Joys of Crockery Cooking

Healthy Ideas

  • Setting Simple Exercise Goals
  • Avoiding Mosquito Bites
  • “Shoo Fly!  Don’t Bother Me!”
  • Striving for Balance … One Habit at a Time

Grocery Savings Ideas

  • Using Up Leftovers
  • Crisis Meal Planning
  • Low-Budget Meal Planning
  • Winning the Grocery Game
  • Simple Ways to Save on Groceries
  • Super Simple, Super Cheap Recipes


While starting life as a new wife and then mom to three children, Deborah Taylor-Hough always wished for a personal mentor.  Someone who could take her under their wing and show her the ropes of being a stay-at-home mom, live on a single income, survive in a tough economy, educate her three lively kids, and raise children who grew to be successful adults with character and integrity.  Deborah’s own mother had experienced several strokes which left her unavailable to offer generational family advice.

Well, that mentor Debi had hoped and prayed for never appeared.

Not to be deterred, Debi kept plugging away.  She also kept notes as she went about her day-to-day life, convinced that someday she may have opportunity to be that mentor she’d always longed for in her own life; a friendly guiding hand for someone else just starting out a similar life path.  Following her husband’s diagnosis with a rare degenerative brain disorder, she also learned firsthand about the special challenges of single parenting.

Now that all three of her children are grown, Debi’s beginning to see the fruit of her labors over the years; a loving family with kiddos who truly have grown into wonderful young adults.  And she even learned a thing or two about cooking and cleaning along the way.

The Original Simple Mom’s Idea Book contains tips and suggestions for everything from cooking, saving money, celebrating the holidays, and just generally raising a family.

So if you’ve been looking for some simple ideas for life and homemaking … from someone who’s been around the block more than once or twice … look no further.

Have no fear, the Original Simple Mom is here!

Doing dishes

by Debi

In her essay, “Trouble Man,” Dodie Bellamy states, “I’m a lousy housekeeper, and by the end of the week dishes are stacked on every available surface of my kitchen.”

Me, too. Surprisingly, even with an automatic dishwasher, the plates, cups, pots, and pans still pile up.  My problem is that the dishwasher needs to be emptied prior to loading in some fresh dirty dishes.  Maybe it’s not so much that I’m a lousy housekeeper, but that I’m a lazy one?  Emptying the dishwasher just seems like too much work.  In reality, it isn’t a lot of work when I actually do it, but my mind tends to make emptying the dishwasher seem like a huge task looming over me that will somehow disrupt my entire day.

Bellamy listens to Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack while she’s getting caught up on the week’s backlog of dried on kitchen gunk.  Sometimes I listen to music, too—my favorite dishwashing CD is the soundtrack to the No Reservations movie.  But usually I listen to the soundtrack in my head.  Either a song stuck in my brain, or just my quiet ruminations on life.

There’s something soothing, almost mesmerizing about doing dishes. The mindlessly repetitive, rhythmic movements.  The warm water and fragrant bubbles.  It’s satisfying to take the kitchen from complete disarray, and return it to a clean, shiny state.  Is that why I procrastinate?  Is it less satisfying on some internal level to just do little clean-ups here and there, but never have the transformational experience that comes from a complete overhaul?

Many things I’ve written have developed after a time of quiet personal reflection—believe it or not, usually while standing at the sink up to my elbows in warm, soapy water, gently scrubbing my plates and glassware.  Standing in one place, actively involved with a mindless physical activity, seems to release something creative in my mind.

Many writers over the centuries have used the mindless activity of walking as a physical meditative process.  For me, while I thoroughly enjoy a good walk, I tend to get so caught up in the sights and sounds, people and birds, creatures and weather around me, that my mind isn’t quite as free to wander as it is when I’m staring at a corner and small window of my kitchen.  The kitchen almost works as a sensory deprivation chamber.  There isn’t much to see, or hear, or experience.  Just the warmth, the steam, the water, the suds, the rhythms of the washing.

I wonder why I delay doing the dishes when it’s such a fruitful, creative time for me?  I have no answer.

But on that note, I have dishes awaiting me.  Meditation time is nigh.


(Found an older blog post on one of my other blogs and thought I’d share it here. I realized I’d never shared this particular story with The Original Simple Mom audience.)

Originally Posted to Life: The Journey on November 30th, 2011

I never set out to make a living from writing books or doing online activities.  Which probably explains why I don’t make very much money from any of it.  :-)

But interestingly, I’ve found myself thinking back a bit to the early days of when I first started writing and sharing about the things and happenings in my life.   It was more like an overflow of things I was learning and discovering in my own life that just seemed to need to be shared with anyone who’d listen.  Even if it was only a person or two.

I’ve been watching some of the ambitious moms online now with their multiple streams of income and continual marketing of themselves and their wares … and I find myself sometimes wondering, “But at what cost?”

I’ve had those times when marketing and publicity were the focus.  And those times were draining.  And now looking back, not very fulfilling, either.

This week, I’ve been remembering an evening a long, long time ago … sitting alone in my little house with a husband working Swing Shift and my kiddos tucked in bed.  Thinking about how my life seemed so small and cut-off from the outside world.  And so incredibly difficult, financially.  I remember crying quietly toward heaven and asking, “Why are things so very, very hard?  Will we ever get ahead?”

I didn’t get an answer.  At least there were no lights in the sky or any loud booming voices from the clouds.

But there was a still, quiet inner sense of peace that came over me.  Like I was getting a gentle cosmic hug.

And in my heart of hearts, I felt that I heard a whisper of, “You need to know what it’s like to struggle so they will know you understand firsthand what their lives are like.”  Then quiet in my heart again.


I remember sitting up and thinking, “Just who on earth are these ‘they’ people?  Here I’m stuck at home with runny nosed babies, no car, no money … and I barely have access to the outside world beyond the neighborhood where I live.  The world at large isn’t exactly beating a path to my door.”

Peace again.  A whisper.

“They will.”

And then it was over.  I remember almost shaking myself out of a fog of disbelief and thinking somewhat sarcastically, “Well, that was interesting.”

We didn’t even have a computer yet, much less the internet.  And actually, the internet didn’t even exist at this time, so it wasn’t even something I could’ve imagined back then.

But strangely, those words would come back to me often over the years.

When our family faced bankruptcy … “They will know you understand firsthand.”

As we faced illnesses and surgeries with the kiddos … “They will know you understand firsthand.”

In the struggles and the joys of married life … “They will know you understand firsthand.”

While we pinched pennies to try to make it another week without food in the pantry or money in the bank … “They will know you understand firsthand.”

After my husband’s diagnosis … “They will know you understand firsthand.”

During the past few years of single parenting … “They will know you understand firsthand.”

The return to college as a displaced homemaker … “They will know you understand firsthand.”

During unemployment … “They will know you understand firsthand.”

And in grief … “They will know you understand firsthand.”

I’ve never shared that story about the moment in my living room with the, “They will know you understand firsthand,” sense of peace or the subsequent echoes I’ve heard of it ever since throughout my life.  I hope you all don’t think I’m incredibly weird now.  :-)

I really don’t want to spend my time in this life “hawking my wares” online.

But I do want to share those things I understand firsthand … without worrying about whether someone pays me for it or not.  Somewhere there’s a balance in all this, or a way to find focus in the whirlwind of life.

I don’t even know if this makes any sort of sense to anyone but me.  Bear with me as I continue on this journey.