10-10 i love lists. it’s one of my favorite parts of reading blogs. i always leave with a great idea or two. so what better way to turn over a new season then to list some of the things i’m loving right now?

1) the tightwad gazette: this gem comes courtesy of my mother-in-law. the tightwad gazette was a newsletter started by a stay-at-home mom in the 1990s. amy dacyczyn (last name pronounced “decision”) was incensed by all the news stories at the time purporting that it was next-to-impossible to raise a family without two incomes and so her newsletter focuses on all the ways we can live on less (her aim is not only to save money so she can spend more time with her family, but she also talks about how this way of living is more environmentally friendly.) her ideas struck a chord with me. i still freelance as a journalist (i’m currently helping edit textbooks for a publishing company) but we mostly live on a single wage so i can stay home with jameson. if you’re interested, dacyczyn wrote three books (which are basically extended versions of the newsletter). along with tons of easy recipes, there’s also tips on how to buy clothing (at yard sales of course) years in advance for your children and keep an inventory so you always know what you have and what you need to stock up on. there’s also great tips on grocery shopping (she feeds a family of eight on $180 a month). apparently, I’m not the only fan, a quick online search shows there are other bloggers who have adopted dacyczyn’s strategies.

2) fall cooking: my sister gave me this crock pot for our wedding and i remember thinking “when am i ever going to use this?” it turns out, a lot. from homemade chili, to vegetarian dishes that make you forget about meat (one word: lentils (i promise). most of the recipes i’ve been trying come from the tightwad gazette books but there are tons of recipes online (enter, my favorite place to look at food when i’m hungry.)

3) this sweater: i plan to live in this all winter. it was a “treat yo’ self” kind of purchase considering i earned enough freelance income this fall to finally kill off my student loans. i love this brand (free people) but i only buy something from them like, once a year, on my birthday because it’s so spendy. i only buy things i absolutely love and that i consider to be “one of kind.” this sweater fit the bill (do people still use that expression) and i decided to purchase only after i looked around at discount stores like marshall’s and couldn’t find anything remotely similar. (sidenote: urban outfitters is a sorta spin-off from the people who started free people.)

4) baby gap sales: in another tightwad-gazette-disapproved decision (amy would have probably hunted her kid’s snowsuit down at a yard sale and then negotiated to have the price reduced because a zipper was broken or something), i bought this for jameson’s first winter. this suit was originally $78 (which is flippin crazy) so i waited for a good sale and got it for $35 (a discount of more than 50 percent). full disclosure: the sale was $45 off $100 purchase so i had to purchase something else and decided on this denim shirt (discounted 20 percent after they accidentally sent me the wrong size.) jameson’s our first child, and while we buy most of her stuff on consignment at this place, we also splurge once in a while.

5) target’s cartwheel app: i tend to view these types of programs as discounts that really only save you money if you get in the door, don’t look at anything else, and buy just what’s priced down. but i have been extremely impressed with the cartwheel app, particularly on baby stuff. the app is also super easy to use, allowing you to pick which sales you want to add to your barcode, which is scanned at check-out. the discount is on top of store sales and coupons. for example, all target diapers were recently on clearance (they’re introducing new ones) and so i was able to get not only the clearance price, but an additional 5 percent off using the app. plus, the store had a spend-$125-on-baby-stuff-get-$20-off so i decided to guess ahead and buy jameson diapers and wipes that should last her through the next year. total: $118. (i should point out this buying strategy came from the tightwad gazette. i know that target’s store brand diapers usually cost 16 cents apiece because i keep a price notebook, as dacyczyn recommends, so when i crunched the numbers and realized that with the clearance price, the app, and the store discount, the diapers would be 11 cents apiece, i knew it was unlikely that i would ever beat that price).update: this is another app i frequently use to save money.

6) crane humidifier: we are running this little guy 24/7 since jameson woke up with her first cold. the crane brand beat out a lot of others in online reviews and we’ve been pretty happy with this one. also, the elephant looks enough like a toy to pique’s jameson’s interest so that when she’s in her walker she scoots over to it and just sits under the steam, which i love because right now it’s hard to imagine anything worse than listening to your baby try to breath through a congested nose.

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