The Strategic Homemaker

learning to follow the Father, care for the clan, and redeem the resources


Going to a Wedding without Breaking the Bank

Note: I’m still working my way through the books on discipline. Maybe by next week I’ll have a report. We’re relocating in a couple months, and this relocation business is time-consuming.

We went to a good friend’s wedding a couple weeks ago. One of the things this friend is known for is his frugality. So in his honor, I tried to save as much money as possible when going to his wedding. haha! This one’s for you, Mark! (Here he is with his new wife.)


I am all for buying gifts off of someone’s registry, and especially teaming up with people to get big things off their registry, but sometimes your budget says you can afford one serving spoon. Which feels lame. When this happens, I try to make something personal.

I decided to make this friend some throw pillows. In my opinion, most people do not have enough cool throw pillows. Not saying it’s not possible, but definitely not a common problem. On websites like red envelope, these run from $40-$70. I was able to make some for about $3 apiece, since I already had some stuffing on hand.

To do applique (or stick a design onto the pillow) you iron Wonder-under interfacing on the fabric you want to decorate with, cut out the shape you want, and iron it on to the actual pillow front. It will look a bit rough around the edges. Literally.


Then stitch around the decor using a blanket stitch, and voila! Here you can see the blanket stitch on the back side of the fabric.

IMG_5858Now sew the back panels on.

I made the pillow envelopes the same way I showed in this post. Since I had stuffing on hand, I actually made my own pillow forms (a plain white pillow that goes inside the pillow envelope) just by sewing two squares I cut from an old white sheet together, leaving a space, and flipping them inside out. TSH stuffed them for me.

Here are the final products:

IMG_6002 IMG_5999  IMG_5997IMG_6000

The Ohio and “T” pillow match their living room. The other one is just because Mark is a neurologist. TSH found the idea for it here on Etsy. To be honest, I actually wanted to make him a pillow shaped like a 3D brain. However, I’m not skilled enough at sewing, and I wasn’t sure his wife would go for that. Alas.

For a couple other gift ideas for gifts, check out these which were given to us at our wedding (actually by the friend we were making these pillows for and another groomsman at our and this wedding).



The other ways we were able to save was by staying with some friends of friends, who actually watched our daughter for us during the rehearsal dinner and wedding. I’m not opposed to hotels, but I do prefer to stay with friends or fellow Christians if it’s not a private getaway for me and TSH. Unfortunately we didn’t get a picture of us with this family, because they were really fun and encouraging. They run this hunting ministry for youth. We did get them a small gift, but it wasn’t close to the amount that 2 nights in a hotel plus 10 hours of babysitting would have cost us. That stay was a huge blessing to us in multiple ways!

And finally, the bride and groom saved us a wad of money by letting TSH wear his own suit and shoes in the wedding, and providing the shirt and tie. Here are the long-time friends.


and the bride and groom again:


Congratulations, Mark and Alyssa!



Sidetracked by Grace


I was going to write you all a review of the parenting book, “Shepherding a Child’s Heart,” but I got sidetracked reading another parenting book, Give Them Grace, and I am just going to continue reading it. So far it’s a great reminder of God’s grace to me! I’ll try to summarize both after I finish it. In the meanwhile, I’ve been trying to take more pictures of life around here, so here are a couple. Enjoy!


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What to do with Lent?

As I mentioned when I figured out my plan for Advent, Christmas is a holiday where we celebrate hope because the promised Messiah is come into the world. However, Easter (Resurrection Day) is when we celebrate the fact that Jesus conquered sin and death by rising from the dead. While Christmas celebrates hope, Easter celebrates the actual victory! That said, I want to put some effort into anticipating Resurrection Day and starting family traditions that do that.

I hardly knew what Lent was until a couple of years ago, but since then, I’ve decided that Lent is a good idea for all Christians to recognize–whether they come from a Catholic tradition or not.

If you are unfamiliar with it, people generally give up something for the 40 days before Easter, because this helps them in a small way identify with the sufferings of Christ in passion week, and they seek to grow closer to God and prepare their hearts to remember and celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection.

Forty days is the same amount of time Jesus fasted in the wilderness. However, Lent starts 46 days before Easter, because each Sunday is a mini celebration since Christ rose on Sunday, and you don’t fast from anything that day! This year Lent starts tomorrow, Feb 13, and Easter is March 31.

A couple resources from a non-Catholic background that might give you a place to start are these below. Let me know if you find any others.

  • John Piper has readings for either each Sunday of Lent, Good Friday, and Easter, and for each of the first seven readings he has you snuff out an additional candle during the reading, showing how it looked like darkness was winning. On Easter Sunday, however, all the candles are lit again, because the Light has triumphed!
  • Family Life has a kit for kids called the Messiah Mystery in which one evening a week, they go on a hunt to find clues telling them what Lent and Easter is all about. You can here Barbara Rainey talk about it here. It’s sold out right now, but there is a blog giving away one by tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, so you still have a chance to win one.

For our family, I made a paper chain to count down to Resurrection Day and TSH and I will read John Piper’s readings on Sundays. I’m not sure if I should announce our fasting and praying practices a la Matthew 6, so I’ll keep that to myself, but I’ll let you know later what we are doing for the actual day of Easter.


Do you remember Lent? Do you have any other resources?


Cheap Lunch Recipes Worth Repeating: Runzas

Runzas are basically homemade hot pockets. The first time I ate them was while student teaching in Kenya. The hired help would make these for us every couple of weeks, and then I’d take one with a mango for my lunch. They require planning ahead, but one recipe makes 15, and one of these and a fruit is a good square meal. You can eat lunch for about $1-$1.50, depending if you eat one or two. And that price estimate factored in grass-fed ground beef and an organic apple!


Here’s what you’ll need:

2 packages yeast (or 4 1/2 teaspoons)

2 cups warm water

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1/4 cup vegetable oil (or your fat of choice)

3 cups whole wheat flour

2 1/2 -3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup onion (or one small-medium onion)

6 cups cabbage, finely cut (about half a cabbage)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

dash of Tabasco sauce


Dissolve yeast in water.

Combine the next four ingredients in a large bowl and add the yeast mixture to it. Stir to combine.

Add 4 cups flour and beat thoroughly, by hand or with electric mixer. Stir in additional flour. Turn dough onto floured board and knead until smooth and elastic (adding more flour if needed). Let rise in greased bowl until double in size.  Punch down. Chill dough.

Brown meat and onion in skillet. Drain off excess fat. Add cabbage, salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce. Cover skillet and continue cooking over low heat, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender. Do not add liquid.  Cool slightly.

Roll out dough into thin sheets. Cut in 5″ squares (or into rectangles if you want them the shape of hot pockets). Place 2 Tbsp meat mixture on each square, pinch edges together, and place pinched side down on greased cookie sheet. Let rise 15 minutes. Bake at 350F/175C for about 20 minutes.

Let me know if you give them a try!

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Pumping Life Back into a Pump

The Strategic Husband here.  Part of being strategic around The Strategic Household involves fixing things.  Why throw a broken item away if it just needs a little TLC?  Even if we don’t need it, maybe someone else could use it.  (Unfortunately I did not apply this rule to our brother’s old printer/copier over Christmas break, which received a teardown instead.  It was, however, rather educational.)  Sometimes the fixes are ultra simple‒enter this bike pump:


My sister sent this back home with us after our recent travels to Upland, Indiana, with the oft heard caveat “pitch it if it’s no good.”  It then sat neglected in the back of our car for three weeks.  Until this morning, when I partook of the 69 °F weather and decided I ought to get around to TSH’s request to pump up the tires on PG’s stroller, lest the girls needed to get out of the house.  If you didn’t notice from the picture (though if you did, the fact holds), the pump is missing a key component at the end of the hose:


The rubber hose apparently succumbed to some sort of catastrophic failure around the compression fitting.  I unscrewed the compression fitting and removed the piece of rubber hose still in the fitting.  The other end of the hose was cracked and slightly dry-rotted, so I removed a small portion of it with a razor blade:


In case you didn’t notice the dry rot (and because I took the time to take the picture):


Next I applied a (very) small amount of petroleum jelly to the tip of the hose, hoping to prevent any more rotting…


…readied the hose and fitting…


…remembered that the nut needs to go on the hose prior to putting the hose on the nipple…


…and voilà, a new-to-us working bike pump.


What my sister didn’t know is I’d been debating buying one of these for some time now, as my bike tires and the stroller tires have been losing air recently (likely due to the freezing weather).  With the new pump, I was finally able to fulfill TSH’s wish of a working stroller, ready for the amazing day.


Alas, she was watching two girls today and took the double stroller instead.

A simple fix to a $10 bike pump.  (Thanks, sis!)