The Strategic Homemaker

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

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The Conclusion of the Unpaper Towels

A few months ago, I listed on my New Years Resolutions Post my desire to switch to “unpaper” towels.  I eventually cut up an old flannel sheet into 11″ x 11″ squares and 11″ x 5.5″ rectangles and stuck them in a drawer in a kitchen. I debated zig-zag stitching around the edges like I did with my baby wipes, but this post convinced me not to. I did do an experiment to see if pinking shears cut down on fraying:

Rag on the right, straight cut. Rag on the left, pinked. I think it worked okay, although the zigzag stick would have really eliminated fraying, albeit been a lot more work.


We’ve been using them for at least a month now–I’ve just been delayed on posting.  Here’s the deal though– While this has definitely cut down on our use of paper towels, there are times I find the paper towel better–mostly for gross things. Considering that we have a coin-operated washer, I just don’t like doing a

I have determined that I like having six cleaning “paper” products around the house: cloth napkins, non-bath washcloths (good for spills, the table, kids’ grubby faces and hands), unpaper towels (thinner than a washcloth, and used for draping over the rice cooker and cleaning mirrors and windows), paper towels (for gross messes), kleenex, and toilet paper… and sometimes I spoil myself with Swiffer-type wet moppers for the floor. I think I’m going to stay with that arrangement though, and have to modify my resolution from “Switch from paper…towels to cloth” to “cut down on paper towel usage.” That is the conclusion of the matter. Let me know your conclusions on paper towels!

Hope you have a great week!

***By the way, our garage sale went okay…the traffic was low, possibly due to the cold, gray morning, and we were selling a bunch of college stuff at the wrong time of year (microwave, anyone?), but we still made more than a hundred, got rid of a lot of stuff, and combined with the Craigslist and Ebay sales from the previous few weeks netted over $400 on stuff we wanted to get rid of. Not too shabby!

***Also, if you like homemaking books or homemaking blogs, you might be interested in this huge Ebook sale Erin at the Humbled Homemaker is having. It goes through May 4, and you get 91 e-books with resources on cooking, budgeting, homeschooling, natural living, exercise, decorating, etc for less than $30. Truth in the Tinsel, a book recommended to me back at Christmas is in the mix, and The Grocery Budget Toolbox, a cumulative guide to cutting your grocery bill, are in the mix. It doesn’t help me or anything for you to buy…I just thought it was a really good deal.



The Reading List

We’re starting to pack for our upcoming move, and, because we’re going to be in temporary housing for a month without projects to do, I set aside some books to read. The rest are getting packed and stored. Here’s what’s on the list:


Rotary cutting: Basics and Beyond. Speedy Cutting Techniques…  I am all about improving my speed in projects.


The City of God by St. Augustine. A classic, which I probably should have read a long time ago. Rescued from my Uncle Bob’s library before any estate sale. Hmm. Just now while taking the picture I realized this says “Vol II.” and I don’t have Volume I, unfortunately. May need to hunt that down at the library.

The Standard Book of Sewing by Drucella Lowrie.  Since I mostly make projects off online tutorials, I figure I could benefit by learning some basics. I think I got this and the rotary cutting book as hand-me-downs from a friend.

The Vanishing Word: The Veneration of Visual Imagery in the Postmodern World by Arthur W. Hunt III. I really have no idea what this one is about, but it was highly recommended by my mom, and I picked it up from her at Christmas.

Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges. Also from my mom’s library, this one promises to be convicting.

Have you read any of these? What are you planning to read this summer?

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An Eventful Week and A Call to Prayer

We’ve had a big week here at the Strategic Household. TSH’s parents and niece came last Friday and ran in the Virginia Tech Run to Remember with us. IMG_6915

Then Tuesday we got to see TSH give the pinnacle presentation of his grad student career. The man is now signed off by his committee as approved for a PhD in Engineering. He did such a stellar job on his dissertation that only one committee member even had any corrections. I’m just a little proud. 🙂


But in the midst of celebrating, I have been saddened by nationwide events. The Boston bombing is the obvious one, but reports of the Kermit Gosnell clinic, a shooting at a mall near us by one of my friend’s co-workers, and remembering the 32 killed at VT have me feeling surrounded by evil.  The Texas plant explosion adds more heartache on top.

How should I respond to these things? I don’t want to just continue in my normal routine, or just pour over the news.

I am reminded of II Chronicles 7:12,

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

I think we don’t just continue on, we don’t just look for the good, but we pray. We pray for God to send revival to us, our towns, and our nation. One Cry is a nationwide movement of praying for revival, and you start by asking God to send revival to you.

We’re going to be praying tonight, for revival; for Boston; for West, Texas; and for victims; and I hope that you will join us.

Lamentations 3:19-33

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
or grief to anyone.

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Working through the Scraps

We are moving in less than a month, and I have been trying to sew up all my fabric scraps before I leave the remainder behind. Here’s what I’ve been making:

Fleece scarfs for me and PG for next year. (TSH already had one.)

IMG_6911Here PG is modeling it.IMG_6773 Reusable nursing pads (patterns here and here) and baby wipes (mentioned here).


The completed project!


Ruffle curtain. This was some serious upcycling. The queen sheets I started with had been patched themselves, so I tried to cut around the patches. This isn’t totally done, because I decided I wanted to add another ruffle at the top, but you get the idea.  I got the pattern from here.


What is your favorite way to use scraps?

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Recipes worth Repeating: Caesar Salad

One of the ways you can save money on your grocery bill is by making things from scratch, for example, pizza and salad dressing.

This is a family recipe for Caesar salad. My mom had cut the original version out of some magazine, we tweaked it a bit, and now I make it from memory. Here’s it accompanying our homemade pizza on a Friday night a couple weeks ago:


Caesar Salad

1 head Romaine lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 teaspoon mustard

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

a dash lemon juice

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

freshly ground black pepper

Homemade croutons (Toss cut up bread pieces with a couple tablespoons butter mixed with herbs or [my favorite] Tabasco sauce. Then spread out on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 until dry.)

Combine olive oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire,and lemon juice using a blender. If you make the dressing ahead of time and keep it in the fridge, it will have a stronger garlic flavor. Pour the dressing over the lettuce and toss to coat. sprinkle black pepper and Parmesan cheese over the coated lettuce, tossing a little as you sprinkle so it gets evenly distributed. Enjoy!


How to Rejoice with People Who Get What You Want

Romans 12:9-21 in my Bible is titled: Marks of a True Christian.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another […]

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

I blogged after Christmas about my miscarriages and some of what God had taught me through that. Additionally, with the first miscarriage, God taught me how to “weep with those who weep.” (I’m not going to discuss it on this post, but for a good resource on mourning with hurting people, see here.)

This time around, God has been teaching me how to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” I’m ashamed to admit this, but it didn’t come naturally for me to get excited for those who are happily pregnant, who automatically assume their pregnancy will result in a baby when my average is that it will not.

But I didn’t want to be this way. Not just because envy is sin against God, but because I didn’t want to be the person who people are afraid to tell their good news to.  I want to bear the marks of the true Christian in Romans 12, and be like my sister-in-law, who when TSH and I got engaged, was really excited and gave me a “welcome to the family” gift bag. It included, among things I forget, yellow socks (wearing them now–though they are pretty worn), peanut brittle (family joke), and a sweet card. She was twelve years older than TSH and still single at the time, but she didn’t let that stop her from truly rejoicing with us.

Here is how I set out to become a rejoicer:

The first 3 points dealt with the root sin.

1. Confess my envy.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5)

14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. (James 3)

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.             (I John 1)

To be honest, I don’t even like saying the word “envy,” but just as with the ABCs of salvation, admitting the sin is the first step.

2. Memorize Romans 12:9-18.

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4)

13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.            (I Thessalonians 2)

3. Pray for God to change my heart.

 4 As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
    heal me, for I have sinned against you! (Psalm 41)

16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4)

The next three points take C.S. Lewis’s advice in Mere Christianity:

“Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.”

4. Pray for the friends I envy.

18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints […] (Ephesians 6)

As you pray for your friends, you will rejoice to see God answer those prayers.

5. Send a card.


11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (I Thessalonians 5)

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15)

No matter how broke you are, you are still able to write a note rejoicing with a friend. If you’re really, really broke, send an email.

6.  Make a gift. Give a gift.

10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12)

13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12)

Lately I’ve been making reusable cloth nursing pads for pregnant people (patterns here and here), but gift bags of yellow socks and peanut brittle work too. Or in the baby situation, you could go with mobiles or the more traditional baby clothes :). Making something for someone else takes more time, but it does make me really look forward to them using it.

7. Look for and be thankful for gifts God gives me.

6 I will sing unto the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13)

19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. (Psalm 68, KJV)

Look for God’s gifts in your own life, and you will find them, and you will feel blessed. Here’s a resource. (I have not read this book yet, so I cannot vouch for it, but it has good reviews.)

I’m not going to claim that I won’t struggle with envy from here on out, but it’s definitely been easier, and I am looking forward to celebrating more and more blessings God bestows on my friends and family. Seriously, I want to rejoice with you! Please send me an email or call me if you have good news to share!

Let me know if these ideas help you or if you have other ideas!

(P. S. Most of the Bible verses are from the ESV, unless otherwise noted.)