Cloth {not paper} Towels

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I am so pleased to have my dear friend Serafina of A Gypsy Herbal guest posting today. We spent 2 1/2 years living at the same ministry in Mexico. Today she is sharing with you tips on how to ditch paper towels and use cloth rags instead. Her ideas and story remind me of my own family growing up and what I do with my girls now.

When I heard that Nourishing Simplicity was hosting a series on cloth and it’s great uses in the home last year, I first thought of cloth -instead of paper- towels. My family always used cloth rags or even the kitchen sponge in lieu of paper towels. When I realized that wasn’t covered in her series, I asked if I could share my experience with using rags instead of rolls of paper towels.

Typical uses for paper towels

  • kitchen cleaning
  • wiping up spills
  • drying dishes (who does that? lol)
  • wiping off utensils before switching to other part of project
  • drying hands
  • cleaning the bathroom
  • cleaning mirrors
  • __________________ (you fill in the blank)

Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money to spend. Being a frugal family, we didn’t like to waste our resources on disposable items, nor did we like to just throw something out that could be used again.  (Another example would be saving glass peanut butter jars and using them instead of zip top bags for food storage.) We would use cloth napkins, used glass containers, cloth towels, stock up on sale items…

What to use instead

For our rags (that’s what we’ve always called those old cloths which we use instead of paper), we would use older washcloths, cut up old tee shirts, the odd socks who’s mate had gone AWAL. Sometimes we’d even cut up larger towels that were too worn to use as hand/bath towels any longer. But the old cloth diapers which were left over from a couple decades ago have stayed in my memory as being the best to wipe up spills!

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Options

  • worn washcloths
  • old large towels (bath or kitchen), cut to size
  • odd socks
  • worn out tee shirts, cut to size (or ripped, whatever works for you…a surger would make neat edging…you could even do that by hand–but who are we kidding? this is for the rag bag!)
  • worn old fashion cloth diapers
  • cloth for washing cars
  • ripped or worn cloth napkins
  • any unwanted old fabric (as long as it’s absorbent enough)
  • make your own lovely roll of Fabric Towels

Storage Options

As I mentioned, my family always used rags growing up. My mother would set aside a spot to keep old worn out clothing, napkins and towels, and later use a little bit of time to cut everything up. It was simple, fast and efficient. Usually, if there was a spill or something needed to be cleaned, the rags that were ready for use would be right on top of the pile of old fabric items.

Now,  I have my own collection of “rags” for cleaning and instead of paper for the kitchen. I compared my collection to my mothers, and they were pretty similar, except that I’d added a new set of cloth diapers to mine! (Mama’s babies have long since grown, and the old diapers which served a second lifetime as rags are no longer. But remembering how wonderful they had been, I splurged once to add them to my little kitchen – even though I’ve not yet had the joy of babies in my own home!)

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Keep a basketful anywhere…

  • in the linen closet
  • in a kitchen window/cupboard
  • under bathroom sink

Or, make a bag with a loop from pretty fabric and hang…

  • in a utility closet or cupboard
  • by the bag of grocery sacks to reuse

You can keep a neat stack in the bathroom closet, or just make a messy pile, and don’t fuss over it! 🙂

What do you use for cleaning up? Paper? Cloth? What else do you use cloth or rags for?

Live a Life of Grace

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Grace, it’s such a beautiful word. For years it has called to me, slowly drawing me out. Somehow grace alludes me or maybe I’ve alluded it. In high school in my imaginary future family of 7 kids, my five daughters all had a name that ment some form of grace.

Even as I have failed to embrace grace, Grace has chased after me. Last week I had the privilege of hearing my favorite fiction author, Robin Jones Gunn speak. What was her topic? Grace, we are all victims of God’s grace.

For a few months now I have debated what my “word” for 2014 would be. At first I thought it would be hope or peace based off one of favorite verses, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him and overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV) It is still a wonderful, wonderful verse yet what do I need in my life right now? Grace. There’s no way around it.

We all have a story, we all have joys, trumps, tragedies and pain. We my friends have a choice in how we are going to tell that story. Are we victims of the situation or are we victims of God’s grace? It’s humbling to admit that have allowed myself to a a victim of the circumstance more often than have allowed myself to see God’s grace in the situation. Throughout life I have always seen my mother show me how to see grace through life’s circumstances, I’ve talked about it but didn’t live it.

Now that I am reminded that I am a victim of God’s undeserved, yet lavishly poured out grace. His grace is like a soothing balm rubbed on an open wound.

“For by grace you have been saved and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God-” Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.’ ” 2 Corinthians 12:9a (NIV)

“Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:29-30 (The Message)

Allow God to change your story. Tell your story of grace to another friend. Join me in being a kindred victim of grace. Live a life of grace. That is what is going to define my year and writing.

Blessings to you my friends!

If you want to read Robin’s book, Vitctim of Grace I highly suggest it. I am reading through it right now and savoring every bit of it! Plus I got to meet a new sweet blogging friend Laurie Wallin who is releasing her first book, Why Your Wierdness is Wonderful on the 18th! I am very excited about it!

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Special Tea Time Moments with Your Girls

It is important to create special moments with our daughters. I like to have tea times where we prepare yummy treats, dress up and have a few friends over.  This past tea was no exception. Princesses and fine ladies sat around a beautifully set table, nibbled on delicious treats and sipped fragrant tea.
Teas are a perfect time to remind our girls that they are daughters of the True King, our Heavenly Papa. We dawn on our best or most fun clothes and take time enjoy one others company while learning why we are important to God. 
For the rest of this story head over to Passionate Homemaking where I am guest posting!
Come back tomorrow to find out if you won the Tea Sampler Giveaway. Which means there is still one day left to enter!

This post is part of Friday Homemaking,  Mindful Mothering, Teach Me Tuesday, 

Loving Even When It’s Tough

It’s 10:30 at night and she is still awake. She seems blissfully unaware of the fact that she’ll have to be up at 6:00am which means that I am waking up at 5:30. She continues to giggle as I go over to her bed for the umpteenth time to tell her to go to sleep. Her head pops under the blanket as she fakes sleep. After a “Go to sleep!” and a kiss she settles down. I sigh and finish my cup of tea before getting ready for bed.

A few minutes later I hear the bathroom light flicker on. Light streams into the room. She’s not in her bed. I hurry to the bathroom to close the door so that the light doesn’t wake the other girls and to see what Little Miss is up to. She’s standing in the bathroom with pee soaking her pj’s. She couldn’t undo the zipper on her footsie pj’s. I make a mental note to not let her wear them to bed the next night and to give her less water before bed. I help her out of her jammies and give her a wet soapy cloth the clean herself up. Then it’s off to her cubbie to find her clean clothes.

Having used the bathroom and in fresh clothes she snuggles back under her covers and gives me a sloppy kiss goodnight. I turn back to my area and don’t even bother to look at the time, it will just stress me out. Time to sleep.

Last September Milagros joined our “dorm family”. Her name means Miracles. She is just that. Doctors weren’t sure if she would live but she did. Miss Milly as we call her is a bundle of joy. Life before she came was much easier but now it is so much more full. She brings a smile and joy to each day.

Sadly there are many things that Milly didn’t and doesn’t understand or know how to do by herself. She is Deaf just like all my other girls. Unfortunately many in Mexico and around the world think stupid, incapable, disabled, broken…. Milly is nine years old, she was eight when she came. She went EIGHT YEARS without having a clear form of communication! Eight years without having anything explained to her or having a way to express her thoughts! Eight years without being told “I love you” or even knowing that she has a NAME! Most of the boys and girls come to our school without having a language. Sure the would make up jesters and things to get by a little at home but never to a point of full communication.

As a result of missing out on language in those yearly years many of our kids have delayed education. So learning is a bit harder for some of them. Try learning to read and write  a language that you have never spoken or heard, just after learning that you have a name. Not so easy…. I admire all of my girls for that.

For Milly it’s more than just missing out on language in the early years. There are some things that just aren’t clicking for her or that she does that just don’t make sense. The first few months she was with me we had to watch her like a hawk. You never knew when she would cover her tongue with blue marker, pick up wood chips and eat them, lick a plywood wall or walk up to a bush and bite a twig off.  Thankfully those days have pretty much past.

You would think that Milly came from a horribly neglected background but she didn’t she came from a home with parents that adore her! That’s part of the problem. They let their fear of her deafness get in the way. As a result she never developed her fine motor skills because they did EVERYTHING for her. There are many things that she still after months can’t sign properly. We have slowly been teaching her the basics, that she has a name, that everything has a name, how to hold a fork, how to wipe herself, to change her clothes, wash her hands, how to be nice to people….

I know that it’s more than delayed education and learning. There is something else wrong, I don’t know what. Milly’s mom and dad have never had her tested, our school doesn’t offer testing. There isn’t really an accurate way to test her because her level of understanding concepts is still so low. Some have suggested autism. I don’t really know.

What I do know is that I will continue to love, to teach, to help, to encourage and pray for God’s grace and patience. Life is so much better with Milly in it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now that she is visiting her parents for the summer I miss her. I’m praying that they will realize that she is a beautiful little girl, capable of so much! I pray that they will desire to learn to talk to her in her language, Mexican Sign, and stop talking to her with their mouths and gesturing. They have wonderful daughter who is waiting to share with them if only they will be willing to realize that she CAN.

The fall isn’t too far away and I’m excited to see what new adventures it will bring for Milly. I love and miss that Little Miss!



This post is part of Mindful Mothering Mondays, 

Savor the Moments





Picking up a little orphan girl full of smiles that loves you even when she’s hardly met you

Homemade birthday cards

Small gatherings of friend old and new, celebrating an up coming wedding

Wildflowers in mason jars



Making homemade pizza

Foraging for greens

Holding a little boy with a cleft palate and tubes in his ears in your arms on a walk after he is too tired to go on after he had his rotted teeth pulled out.

Tears that follow open honesty over deep struggles

Secret May Day deliveries




Cuddling little precious girls while watching a movie

The sweet fellowship of Bible Study with my dear sisters in Christ

The smell of fresh baked bread

Hugs from my older girls



These are the moments from my first week of being 27.


I wouldn’t have missed them for the world.


These are the simple, raw and tangible moments to savor.


Life isn’t perfect; it is full of the good times and the hard time, joy and suffering.


Life is beautiful, life is happening all around us.


It’s cherishing the details that sometimes get overlooked, those simple gestures, a touch…you never know how it may change you or another person.
 


                    Psalm 126

                             A song of Ascents

1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,

we were like men who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,

our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”

3 The LORD has done great things for us,

and we are filled with joy.

4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,

like streams in the Negev.

5 Those who sow in tears

will reap with songs of joy.

6 He who goes out weeping,

carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.