The Strategic Homemaker

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

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10 Ways to Romance Your Spouse on the Cheap

Just because Valentine’s Day is over does not mean you should wait a whole year to do something romantic for your spouse, and doing something romantic does not mean you need to spend lots of money. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

Oh, and btw, if you or they have a Starbucks gift card you haven’t registered with at least $5 on it, register it before March 14, and get a free $5 added to it.

Back to the ideas:

1. Good old-fashioned love note. Even better if you know how to fold it into a paper balloon. Leave it somewhere they will find it.


2. Back massage, or back scratch, etc. Whatever they like.

3. Make a pdf card for their e-reader with hand-drawn illustrations. It can have several pages with coupons for redeemable services like back massages. (Don’t even try enlarging this illustration to read the fine print. It is purposefully small.)


4. Send them an Evite to a date night you come up with. Take note, if you give it a name like “Romantic Evening,” they might just RSVP “Count me in!” without actually reading any details, so make sure you mention anything they need to know to them in person.

5. Send them a romantic song while they’re at work. If you’re really ambitious, burn them an entire CD.

6. Do a household chore you don’t usually do.

7. Fry them eggs for breakfast in heart-shaped cookie cutters. (Grease the cookie cutters first.)

8. Make a meal fancy with placemats, nice glasses, etc. Um, assuming you don’t do this every meal. Ahem.

9. Draw a cartoon starring you and them.

10. Find a couple willing to watch your kids every other week or so, and you watch theirs the alternate weeks, so you can go out without paying a babysitter (Credit goes to the Highfields for this idea. We just watched someone else’s kids for free before we had a kid, and now someone without kids watches ours for free. )

Do you have any other ideas?



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!


Date Night Christmas Present!

In lieu of spending much money on gifts for each other this past Christmas, TSH and I signed up to take a knife skills class together at a local kitchen store. We’re good at spending time together talking about administrative things, but wanted to have a date doing something fun and non-administrative together. Thankfully, we have a couple of friends who are willing to babysit in exchange for pizza and cookies. (Yay, Halls!)

The class was last Thursday, and we learned a lot! I had apparently never known how to use a knife correctly (This requires a demonstration.) or peel carrots correctly (Go back and forth, using both directions of the peeler.) I should be much faster in the kitchen now. TSH is even better at it than me. It is tough to best that kid at something. Alas…

Here we are. I had forgotten to put the memory card back in my camera, but thankfully another student took a picture for me. (Thanks, Carolyn!)


What’s a fun date you’ve been on lately?

P.S. Papa Johns is giving away free pizza coupons if you guess the Superbowl coin toss correctly. So guess opposite from your spouse or a friend, and you’re guaranteed a free pizza! Here’s the link. You have to sign up by Saturday night.