The Strategic Homemaker

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


Home Decorating to the Glory of God

This summer, I decided to do a Bible study on home decor. I had some notes from a Sunday school class I took in high school, and I also looked up every time the Bible talked about furnishings, as well as read all the passages where God describes something he designed (creation, new Jerusalem) or gives instructions for it (tabernacle, temple). Those led me to some other passages too. It was a sort of Biblical scavenger hunt.

I was hoping to do a blog series on what I learned, but I’m having trouble making time to write these days, so here are the quick takeaways with a few of the supporting references:

1. The Bible talks about God’s designs for a place and home furnishings more than many people think. (Gen 1-2, Exodus 25-40, I Kings 4, II Chron 2-5, Rev 21-22)

2. Home decor should be done for God’s glory. (Psalm 19:1, Psalm 29:9, Psalm 115:1, I Cor 10:31)

3. God often directs symbolism or memorials to remind us of His works. (Deut. 27:1-8, Numb. 15:39, Zech. 6:14)

4. We should pursue hospitality in the way we furnish and decorate our homes. (Rom 12:13)

5. God’s Word should have a prominent role in our homes. (Deut. 6:9, Psalm 119:97)

6. We must avoid decorating in a way that dishonors God. (Exod. 20:4, Psalm 49, Prov. 7:4-5, Amos 3-6)


The study also led me to make some art for my house by which I could share the good message about Jesus Christ with guests. I got the idea from my friend Dan’s snowflake book that tells the advent story, and then came up with my own designs. TSH made the graphics below for me. Feel free to download the stencils and make your own.

Stencil templates




These snowflakes show the history of man according to the Bible. Adam and Eve disobeyed God when tempted by the serpent, and  “therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. “ (Rom 5:12)

            “Then Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people, [the third day he rose again from the dead” (I Cor 15:4)]…”

               …and will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Heb 9:28)

                  “He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him…and all peoples of the earth will mourn because of Him. (Rev 1:7)”

                And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” (Rev 19:9)

Here they are framed on the wall:


Do you have any ways you have intentionally sought to give God the glory with your home decor? Please let me know and send me a picture! I would love to put an inspiration book together.



Five Free Toddler/Preschooler Toys

I am always wanting to buy my kids new toys and fun things. Usually I get it under control and refrain. and sometimes, if I think about the toy long enough, I decide to make a version of it myself.  So here are five toys we made in the last couple of months totally free–and easy enough to do as a craft with your kid:

Sock puppets. These socks had been missing their mates when I cleaned out my drawer a couple months ago, and we got it into our heads to make puppets after reading If you Give a Moose a Muffin. Of course, as soon as I made them, I found the mate to the green sock under the washing machine. We may have to make another frog puppet soon.


New puzzles. My mom used Mod Podge (paint both sides of the picture with it to avoid wrinkling) to glue magazine pictures to cardboard, and then she cut them with a razor blade after they dried.


Rings to practice stringing or…


a snake! A papertowel tube or two was sacrificed for this one. (old spools [above] are a bead to string for the more advanced.)6-IMG_7902

A Personalized Memory game. I used blank index cards–just make sure it’s something you can’t see through. This has been played with more so far than several toys we own .


A playhouse–personally decorated.


No, these do not look professional, but the kid won’t care, and then you don’t feel bad about throwing them away when you’re done with them.

Let me know if you have any other ideas for quick, free toys!


Hot Air Balloon Baby Mobile

I’ve mentioned here and here and here, that I like giving baby mobiles as gifts. Just before we left Virginia, I finished up the hanging balloons for a mobile for a baby boy we’d get to meet on the trek to New England.


I used this girl’s pattern for the balloons, but that girl was too skilled for me. She sewed circles on the bottoms of her hot air balloons, but I couldn’t figure out how to get that to work. I just left them open and capped it with a felt basket, so no one could see anyway. I also had to start sewing the pieces from the top of the balloon, if I wanted them to line up at all at the end.

I made the baskets by just cutting out felt, folding it into a basket shape, pinning it, and stitching with embroidery floss in a backstitch–um, my only hand stitch. See here:


I then sewed the baskets to the balloons by using one long loose piece of embroidery floss and just knotting it inside the basket. I also tied a knot in a long satin ribbon and stitched the knot to the top. You may be able to see better here:


Have you given any fun baby gifts lately?

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Another State Pillow (and some observations on New Jersey).

My cousin got married in February, and I made her a state pillow since the last one was a favorite. We got to hand deliver it and meet her new husband on our journey up north. Here it is. New Jersey has a lot of bumpy coastline.


And since you guys liked the state observations so much, here were mine on New Jersey: (In which I have not spent a ton of time. We mostly drive through here on our way somewhere else, so these are all from the road).

1. The gas stations are all full service as far as we can tell. I kind of like this, since I don’t like to pump my gas, but TSH may have driven an extra 20 minutes trying to find a self serve station (and one we didn’t need to pay in cash). We failed on both counts. The gas was pretty cheap though.

2. We could not make a left-hand turn, or a right-hand turn. We could only go straight at intersections, so if we needed to turn, we had to take a small exit-like road before the intersection.

3. You need lots of cash to get through New Jersey. Both for tolls and for gas. I think we used up about $60 just in new Jersey. We thought we had planned ahead (neither of us normally carry more than $20), but we ended up having to write a check to a friend in NY in exchange for $30 in cash to make it the rest of the way.

4. Fun people live in New Jersey. It’s a long state, but we’ve never lacked a friend to stop at for lunch on our way through :).


2013 Resolutions Update

I revealed my new years goals/resolutions in this post, and I figured it was high time for an update.

1. Read one chapter of the Bible a day: doing well. haven’t been totally perfect, but I’m at least averaging a chapter/ day.

2. Memorize one verse per week: so-so. We’ve memorized a few verses, but I don’t have a good system for choosing what verse to do next or an easy way to review past verses. Maybe that will be a blog post when I figure out a good system. Right now I’m working on Romans 12:9-21, which I’ll talk about in a future post.

3. Switch to cloth napkins and paper towels: We have switched out the napkins; I don’t even think we’ve had any paper napkins in the house for a month, but I found a giant stock of paper towels that will last until we move, so I haven’t crafted any fancy huck towels to replace these yet.

4. Decorate the house: In progress. I finished my pillow shams, throw pillow covers, am working on a curtain. I want to do stuff for the walls, but am kind of waiting until we move, because I need to buy or paint a lot of frames.

5. Only watch one TV show per week: I haven’t exactly been successful here, but I have been watching about 2/week (which for the next stretch will be Psych and Duck Dynasty), which is less than last year (maybe 4?), so I am feeling pretty good about this. I have subbed them out for podcasts, (mostly Family Life) which are both entertaining and useful/uplifting.

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? Do you have any ideas for me on choosing verses to memorize or a good system to review them?


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!