Cleaning by the Sign of the Moon

The Martins and McGhees used a website called My Family to keep in touch with all the cousins. They could post photos or chat. The site closed down a few years ago. It was great for such discussions as this one on the effect of the moon in inspiring cleaning and organizing.

Melba Lu (Gail Lee Martin’s cousin) Jan. 14, 2011 – Hello, family, thought I’d drop by and see what is going on with all of you! I am working on a new directory for our church, playing piano and cleaning SMALL areas.  The moon must be in the right sign for cleaning……

Cindy (Gail’s daughter) – Larry & I are working on revamping the office.   I’m cleaning out the closet, restacking books, moving pictures around on the walls, removed the clutter off the headboard of our bed. Let’s hear from others to see if they are cleaning as well.

Karen (another of Gail’s daughters) – Wow, it must be the moon!   I woke up today just raring to tackle house clutter!   (It doesn’t happen often, in my case.)   Nice to have the urge coincide with a day off, especially a day off that I’m not sick!

CJ (Gail’s sister) – I’m in awe of you guys. Haven’t seen the moon for so long, not sure what it could be inspiring me to do.

Gail Martin – Oh yes, it was the last quarter before the full moon and I talked to Susan the night before and she was cleaning her kitchen cabinets. While I spent most of that week cleaning out unnecessary emails and saving some to my back-up.   CJ, you don’t have to see the dang moon, just go with the flow and besides you were getting your meds organized, so yes, it was affecting you too.


Cindy (Feb. 1) – Wish that cleaning urge had stayed around long enough for me to have completed all my projects…..

Gail Martin – It never does. One week a month just gets you started, then a month later you have a whole month’s more stuff to work with!

So, what does it mean? I know Mom and Dad used the Farmer’s Almanac to plant their garden by the “right sign of the moon.” When I researched online, I found articles about How the Moon Cycles Affect Us. Apparently, it is the waning moon that inspires decluttering and wrapping up projects.

So, after a full moon, take advantage of the waning moon to tackle clearing out clutter or organizing at work or at home.

Keeping the Old Car Running

Gail Martin wrote this advice piece for the eHow website over 10 years ago.

The car is getting old, but there’s no money in the budget to replace it. What do you do? Here’s our experience of how to keep that older car running so you don’t lose your mobility. Ours has over 200,000 miles on it now.

Mom and Dad's old car

Here’s their faithful old car that lasted for years.

Ideally, you have some mechanical aptitude and can make repairs to the car yourself. This saves a bundle over taking it to a mechanic. My husband and son both taught themselves to fix most car problems we had. This is easier to do with an older car that doesn’t have lots of computerized parts in it.


Clyde Martin kept the family cars going for many years.

If you don’t have a friend who can show you how to fix things, look for a class through adult continuing education or a local community college. Something like a “powderpuff mechanic” or a “shade tree mechanic” course.

Go to the public library and ask to see their auto repair manuals. Usually, the Mitchell manuals or Chilton manuals are in the reference section or they might have it on a computer. Copy or print out the pages that tell how to fix your car’s problem.

Get the parts for the repair at the cheapest place, usually an auto salvage yard. If they don’t have the model or part you need in a junked car, then you’ll have to go to an auto parts store.

If you are unable to fix the car yourself, find a mechanic. Try to build up a relationship with one place so there’s less chance they will try to take advantage of you. Usually, a small mechanic’s shop will charge less than an auto dealership.

Tune up the vehicle regularly, so you don’t ruin it by letting it run out of oil or something else that’s preventable.

Keep some emergency repair items in the trunk. I recommend having some cans of extra oil, a charger to jump start the engine, and an air compressor that you plug into the cigarette lighter to reinflate a flat tire. It’s also handy to have a rug to lay on if you need to get under the car and some rags to clean your hands after a fix-up.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don’t raise the car just with jacks and get under it. We knew someone who was crushed this way.
car repair pixabay vintage advertisement

Vintage car repair advertisement from Pixabay

Recycle Pill Bottles

Thrifty Tips By Gail Lee Martin (first published on eHow)

Recycle Pill Bottles

Recycle Pill Bottles

Many people take medicine prescribed by their doctors. Soon the pill bottles start piling up. There should be a use for something like these containers. They have tight drip-proof lids and most are also child proof.

  1.  To be on the safe side I use tweezers or forceps to dip the containers in boiling water so all medical residue is removed.
  2.  If you are saving money by taking a sack lunch to work, these little containers are ideal for taking mayonnaise, relish or mustard for adding to your sandwiches at lunchtime. This prevents the sandwich from becoming soggy between the time you made it in the early morning or even the night before until you are ready to eat it. Most workplace break rooms have a refrigerator to store lunches.
  3.  You could take a salad to work and place your favorite dressing in a prescription container to add fresh when it is your time to eat. After using the contents just toss the container in the trash or take home and recycle them again.


    Carry a single serving of salad dressing in a recycled prescription bottle.

  4.  I use my print shop to make labels for my recycled prescription bottles. They are easy to wash off and add a different identifying label for the next time you use it.
  5. If you need your pills with you to take at noon, use one of the recycled prescription containers for that. No need to buy a fancy pill case.


    Prescription pills and supplements to take with your meal.

  6.  I also save flower seeds to share with my friends and relatives. Especially my beautiful perennial sweet peas. These small containers are just the right size storing flower seeds. I label them the same way.

    2015-08-14 2015 august 007

    Save your flower seeds to use next season or to give away.

  7. Another handy use for these is to store your sewing machine needles in them. 


I bet Mom would have liked having a label printer like this one.

Buying Tips for the Farmer’s Market

Shopping at a farmer’s market is the best way to get really fresh and local food. For many years, we sold vegetables, homemade bread and jellies at farmers markets, so I’ll give you my insider tips for getting the most from a visit to a farmer’s market.

  • Post the schedule for the farmer’s market on your calendar so you don’t miss the day. If you get there early when the market starts, you’ll get the best selection. Sometimes everyone wants the fresh tomatoes or the first cantaloupes of the season. Before you know it, they’re sold out and latecomers are disappointed. The vendors have to set up real early, so don’t be surprised if you come right at closing time and everyone is packing up.

    2008-08-17 gail and ks photos 554

    Clyde and Gail Martin at the Fort Scott farmers market.

  • Be courteous and friendly. Don’t criticize the vendors’ produce, as they work hard to grow it and bring it to the market. Yes, it isn’t as cheap as the truckloads of produce shipped in from Mexico or Chile, but it’s a lot fresher. Most of it was picked that day or else the day before.
  • Tell your friends, fellow workers and neighbors about the market. You could even ride together to save on gasoline and it would help eliminate the parking hassle. Often a market has limited space.
    Don’t park in front of the vendors unless you are really handicapped. Park, so there’s room for other vehicles. Leave the space in front of the booths for buyers walk along looking at the produce and to and from their cars.Farmers Market Cottonwood Tree_1999
  • Remember who you buy from. If you get great fruit or vegetables, you’ll want to go to that seller again. If you weren’t happy with something, you don’t want to go back complaining to the wrong vendor.
  • Take a quick walk around to all the vendors to see what’s available. Most vendors have the same kind of veggies but some look better than others. Don’t pass up something really good though as it might be gone when you walk back.
  • In Kansas, the vendors are not allowed to use scales as the scales are not accurate when they are moved around. So they sell by the box, bundle or bag. Sometimes you can bargain on the prices if you’re buying a large quantity.
  • The vendors recycle clean grocery bags by bagging what they sell in them and are very appreciative of buyers bring them more bags. Some even give a bonus to the buyer bringing back canning jars.

    old fashioned thanksgiving vintage

    Gail Martin’s homemade jellies. Photo by her sister, CJ Garriott

Further Tips & Warnings
  •  Enjoy the visit to the farmers market, get to know the sellers and make it a fun outing, rather than just another shopping trip. You get fresh air, interaction with people and good local produce.
  •  Look for booths where the produce looks clean and neatly displayed.
  •  Produce that’s in the shade stays fresher.
  •  Don’t expect the farmers to have out-of-season fruits and vegetables. Sure you would like a juicy, home-grown tomato in May, but you have to wait for the weather and growing season to reach the right time.

(This article by Gail Lee Martin first appeared on eHow in 2009)


MargaritaBobita on 11/11/2009 – Good tips. Farmer’s markets are often freshest, most natural, least expensive and fuel local economies.

DelawareGeek on 9/13/2009 – I love farmer’s markets, they offer better produce and are cheaper than grocery stores

How to Raise Good Children the Old-Fashioned Way

(former eHow article by Gail Lee Martin)

I raised my six children in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, it wasn’t uncommon to be a stay-at-home mom. Raising six children was a full-time job.
Here’s my method for raising children.

Live in the country or a small town. Give them animals to raise and teach them to grow a garden.

Shannon_and_Kittens_June_1963 - Copy

This was taken out at the farm north of El Dorado. Shannon turned 5 that June. Owen, the oldest of us, would have just graduated from high school in May.

Teach them varied household skills like baking a muffin, sewing an apron, and decorating a room. Give them chores like ironing, bringing in the firewood or washing the dishes. Everyone contributes to the well-being of the family.

Develop their interests. 4-H is a good organization to introduce children to a variety of projects from photography to cooking, to news writing and many other skills.

Expose them to nature. Let them play in the creek and ramble the pastures. If they like butterflies, teach them to make an insect net, to identify the insects and label them properly. If they bring home an interesting rock, help them learn about geology. Make sure they understand about being kind to animals.

Teach them to love reading. Set an example by reading for your own pleasure. Read aloud to them. Take them to the library. Give them books as gifts.

Teach them resiliency . When they can’t do something, encourage them to try again or try it a different way. Learning not to give up is an important life skill.

Teach them to strive to be the best at whatever they do. Raise rabbits? Make yours the ones winning all the purple ribbons. Like bugs, become a national 4-H winner in entomology and attend the national conference in Chicago.



Shannon Martin with her award-winning insects display at the county fair.

Sit down to eat together. Put food on the table that builds healthy bodies. Use the dinner time to reconnect, catch up on how everyone feels, and to establish family values. Let them know what you think about the news of the day and about events in the neighborhood. This helps them learn what is acceptable and what is not.

Tips & Warnings
Take time to talk to your children. This is how they develop their language skills.
Take time to listen to your children. Keep the lines of communication open into the teen years by talking and listening over the early years.

lynsuz12 on 11/19/2009 – Bravo!!! Children learn what they live. The old-fashioned way is still the best way to do a lot of things.
trillity on 9/19/2009 – Awesome practical advice! Thanks! 🙂
mbailey18 on 9/16/2009 – How refreshing to be reminded of the proper way to raise children. In this day of kids being upset if they aren’t allowed to text message their friends or play video games all day, it is nice to be reminded of the basics. 5 stars and my recommendation
jonhensley said on 9/23/2008 – Good parenting is needed in this ol’ world today. This should be a must read for every new parent.

Gail’s Advice on Picking Wild Berries

(Another article by Gail Lee Martin that she wrote for eHow) During my childhood in the 1930s we picked wild berries along the Cottonwood River in Kansas. It was fun for me, but it also put food on the table. Here’s how to go berrying.

  •  Locate a wild area that you can access without trespassing. We had permission to camp on a farmer’s land by the river. He didn’t want to bother with the wild berries so they were free for the picking.Catfish for dinner
    We would gather mulberries and gooseberries on sunny summer days. These made a good dessert when cooked together to go with the fish that we caught in the Cottonwood River.
  • Be sure the area is free of pesticides or chemicals. If it is next to a farmer’s field, there might be some sprays drifting onto the wild plants.
    Wild blueberries
  • Don’t eat pokeberries!!Don't eat pokeberries!!

    Learn which berries are edible and which are not good. Ask someone to show you which are the right fruit to pick or check in a wild foods book. I’ve provided a link below to find books like that.

  •  Learn when certain types of berries ripen. It changes slightly with the weather, so you may have to check several times to catch the raspberries at their peak. Mark it on your calendar so you’ll remember to check around that time next summer.

  • Poison ivy – keep away from it

    Wear long sleeves and even gloves if you’re picking thorny fruit. Watch out for poison ivy and snakes. Don’t forget the hat and sunscreen.

    Poison ivy - keep away from it

  •  Take a lightweight bucket and start picking. Enjoy lots of cobblers, jams and other berry delights. They are tasty just to snack on too.

Comments on the Article:

momose said on 9/19/2009 – We always carry a “beating stick” for our blackberry picking forays – to beat the bushes a bit first to roust out any rattlesnakes that might be lurking. I’ll bet you have done that, Gail! Five stars for your berry picking tips!

bjs1979 said on 8/21/2009 – mmmm fresh berries. Recommended you and rated 5 stars! Keep writing great articles!
Mindee Lee said on 7/10/2009 – Nothing is better than snacking on a handful of wild berries. Teaching children identification of berries is a crucial point not to be discounted. Thanks for these great and important tips!
kittycooks said on 7/10/2009 – OOO, I love wild berries. So flavorful!  A good tip to watch out for poison ivy!

Using the Clues in Old Family Photos

(This is an article that Gail Lee Martin wrote for the eHow website back in August 2009. I was able to retrieve it with the Wayback Machine and add some photo examples to it.)

It’s so sad to see a box of vintage family pictures that no one knows who’s who. Unlabeled photos present a challenge, so you need to play detective to figure out the who, what, where and when that goes with the old photo. Here’s how to figure it out.

  1. If you recognize anything in the picture, use that as a starting point. If you recognize the setting (a room or the outside of a house) then you narrow down the possibilities. If that’s great-grandpa’s house, then start mentally reviewing your relatives to see if any look vaguely like these people.

    dated on front 8-16-1912, house with man, woman, 2 boys with bicycles

    Vintage family photo, dated on front 8-16-1912. It features a frame house with a man in overalls, a woman in a floor-length apron, and 2 boys with bicycles. We think it might be from our Joy family line.

  2. Even if you know only one person in the picture, that helps identify the rest. If that’s Aunt Margie, then the fellow with his arm around her might be her first husband that you never met.
  3. Try to establish the time period for the picture by looking at clothing styles and any known children in the photo. Bobbed hair, shorter skirts with a dropped waist, and long stockings indicate the 1920s. If you know that one child is Cousin Bobbie, then guess at his age by his size. If he looks to be about ten or twelve, use his current age minus 10 or 12 to get an approximate date for the photo.

    Reading Kansas_Cora and Gail Martin with Martin Kids 1952

    Gail Martin with her children and her mother-in-law, Cora Joy Martin.

    Once you’ve determined one child in a group photo, it helps you identify the other children. If this is Clyde, then this younger child has to be Howard and the baby must be Charles.

  4. If you have several photos with the same people wearing the same clothes, then review them as a group to figure out the event and who’s who.
  5. If the photo is faded and hard to see the details, scan it into the computer. Use any photo software to enhance the picture or brighten it. In looking at a picture of my mother in her 20s, I thought there were trees in the background. When I brightened the picture on my computer, I realized it was clouds of black smoke, possibly from a prairie fire.

    Ruth and the cow_edited

    Ruth Vining McGhee (Gail Martin’s mother) with the cow. Smoke clouds on the horizon.

  6. Take any labeled photos that you have and compare them with the unknown photos. Look for similar backgrounds, and similar clothing and haircuts. If this is Aunt Bertha, then probably this lady is her again but thirty years later.
  7. Take advantage of older relatives’ memories. Take your unidentified photos to a family reunion or make a personal visit to Great-Aunt Viola with them. In some cases, you can email the photo to a distant relative and ask for their help identifying the person and place.
 A reader commented on the article back in 2009 –  “Oh, I’m so glad I read this! I have all of my family’s old photos, tintypes and all, and I never thought to look for clues on the ones with no names or dates. Thank you very much for such a well-written and informative article!”