Monday, April 30, 2012

Another Pause for the Blog

Due to transitioning Sweet Girl to her big bed, I will not be posting this week. I anticipated it taking time to help her fall asleep, but after a short half hour nap today, I realize now it might be more than just that. To make things simpler for me, I'm just going to take a break for the week. Who knows what the nights will be like, and I've learned over and over that Sweet Girl needs lots of time to adjust. If I free up myself to help her, then I have more patience. So, hopefully, I'll see you all back here next Monday!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Homemaking Saturday: Review/Preview

On Homemaking Saturday I share something I'm doing or learning to make my home a better place.

I think I will make it a habit to write my Review/Preview on the last Saturday of the month. It's just simpler and it does make sense. I want to update you on a couple things I've written about on Saturdays this month, so it just seemed natural.

I got almost everything accomplished in April that I had hoped to! I did have to slow down before and after Pascha, but lately I haven't needed naps in the afternoon, which I'm so grateful for! I know the days are limited so I'm trying to make the most of them!

I finally ordered new glasses for myself, Sweet Girl has an appointment for the dentist this Wednesday, and all the photos I have are organized in photo albums. I have pictures waiting to be ordered (when there's a special!). That last one especially feels good to be done. I hadn't bothered to order pictures (except of Sweet Girl) since we've been married! When you move around so much, you don't have a place for photo albums. However, now we do and it feels good to have that set.

Zinnia and Lettuce
I planted seeds the middle week of April and there are sprouts already in most of them. I think I will need to replant a few things or start them indoors like I did with the basil. I'm so excited to see growth, I just hope I don't kill them somehow! It will be so wonderful to have real plants! Sweet Girl is just as excited. She loves to water them and always talks about them when we see them as we leave the house.

And those curtains I mentioned last week? I finished them Sunday afternoon. They really make the room darker. I made them out of coat lining material I found at the thrift store. Four yards for $4! It's lightweight, yet non-transparent. It blocks those security lights too, which helps at night. I had to add some fabric at the top as it wasn't quite long enough. It's still not as long as I'd like, but it will do. It's temporary, really, as we won't be in this house much more than another year. I bought a cheap curtain rod at Dollar General. It's stretched to its maximum length and if we tried to open the curtains, it probably would come apart. So we just won't.

Here's my list for May:
1. Get more soil as well as tomato and broccoli plants. Plant.
2. Plan gifts and household needs through October and start shopping.
3. Start buying things for the baby.
4. Move Sweet Girl into her big bed and rearrange her room. Decorate it too.
5. Make dish soap.
6. Make a food plan with Coach. (Meals he feels comfortable cooking once in awhile after the baby's here.)
7. Get a curtain for the front door.
8. Make a cardboard kitchen for Sweet Girl.
9. Reorganize areas of the kitchen.
10. Reorganize storage boxes.

In my mind, it's really getting down the wire. I'm getting big. I'm going to be tired. I don't want to have a lot on my plate after this month. My list for June is small and I hope to keep it that way!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday: Developing a Sleep Plan

On Thoughtful Thursday I share thoughts on ways I'm working to improve myself as a woman, wife and mother.

About forty minutes ago, I finished the nap routine with my daughter and left her room. She was still awake and about five minutes later, she was sleeping peaceful. Ahh, so easy.

Well, it hasn't always been that way. In fact, only in the past four months has it been that easy, with big bumps interspersed in those four months (whenever something big happens, things get hard). And it's only been that long that she's slept through the night.

So with a second baby on the way, I'm hoping things will be a little easier this time around. But I'm not just hoping, I'm educating myself. I feel like I've learned a lot along the way, with my daughter, but I know there's more to know. And I want to have a plan (and a back-up plan or two). I know I can't be prepared 100% - who knows what this baby will be like - but I can try to be as prepared as possible.

I read/skimmed two books this week: Sleep Deprived No More and The No-Cry Sleep Solution. I'll give you a brief review of each, then share with you my thought process as I read them, and finally, my plan!

I only picked up Sleep Deprived No More at the library because I was looking for the other book and happened to see it. It was a super easy read; I skipped a lot. It probably had good information for those who specifically have sleep problems while pregnant (like restless leg syndrome), but I don't so I didn't read a lot of that. Also, for each trimester and after birth, she gave basically the same 10-12 tips, which were mostly common sense things that I already do. She had some helpful comments about getting sleep with a newborn, but mostly talked about how hard it really is and ways to cope. So, I didn't learn too much (except some about sleep patterns) there.

I read The No-Cry Sleep Solution before when Sweet Girl was three or four months. It really has a lot of great ideas! I wanted to review it mainly to refresh my memory about how much sleep a baby really needs at different stages. I was also curious as to what she said about the newborn-four month stage. I remembered she said that during that time babies just sleep when they are tired. I can't say I agree with that, but really the whole book is great! She's an advocate of co-sleeping, but doesn't make you feel like an unloving parent if you don't (which we don't, except for the first month or two). She has a lot of great tips and ideas and information I hadn't read in any other books.

With Sweet Girl, my whole approach was very rigid and structured (thanks to taking The Baby Whisperer to the extreme). I was trying to put a newborn on a schedule! I didn't think of it that way (it was a routine), but I was. I stressed if she didn't fall asleep on time or sleep long enough and I was NOT going to let her nurse to sleep (except at night).

This time around, I plan to have a totally different approach. One thing I learned from both books is that from newborn to three (or four) months, the biological clock (which regulates our sleep) is really not developed. In fact, it doesn't totally develop until close to 10 months! But, these first three months are really a time of adjustment. My sister-in-law said she heard of it as the "fourth trimester". I plan to be much more relaxed, especially in the beginning. I will still try to implement routine, but I will give it time and I will be more flexible!

Before I read the books, I decided I would just plan on nursing the baby to sleep. After all, it's the most natural, simplest way. I don't mind being the only one to put the baby to sleep for a while (this is my job), and the baby won't be crying, which is what I want to avoid (for me as much as for the baby!).

While reading Sleep Deprived No More, she said it is best to have a Eat-Play-Sleep routine (just like The Baby Whisperer says). She said if a baby learns to fall asleep while nursing, then when they have brief awakenings at night (which are common and normal for everyone), the baby will not be able to go back to sleep unless nursing again (or having a bottle or pacifier). Yikes! I also want to avoid waking up every couple hours with an older baby, like I was with my daughter. The way to put the baby to bed, she said, was to have a routine and put the baby in the bed while he is awake but drowsy and let him self-soothe to sleep. I remember getting this advice from a nurse and pediatrician with my daughter. It didn't work. (Granted, we didn't try it but a few times, but knowing her, I doubt it would have.) But the author made it sound so simple, I decided this would be my plan A.

Then, as I was reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution, she was talking about how natural and special it is to nurse a baby to sleep. And how quickly the baby stage goes... And I thought, "Yeah, I don't really want to put my 3 month old down for a nap and let him fend for himself. I want him to need me; it's natural for him to need me. He won't forever, why start so early?" So I was back on the nursing-to-sleep plan. But how was I to do that and help him learn to sleep on his own too - gently and slowly? Ah, she had that answer too! She too suggested putting the baby down when not totally asleep. To take the baby off from nursing before he's completely out. And if it doesn't work, then try again another time. This helped me to look at it as a process, not a one week training boot camp.

She has a great plan outlined in the back of the book for this newborn-four months stage. Here's what I came up with:

1. RELAX for the first six weeks. Let a pattern happen.
2. Around six weeks or so, lay him down almost asleep or very sleepy. If it doesn't work, try next time.
3. As baby gets older, try to do more and more. Sleep train over time!
4. Be sure to always swaddle! (We stopped early on with our daughter and I think it would have helped a lot if we'd stuck with it.)

Of course, I plan to do the things I have already learned: have a nap/bedtime routine, have a basic day routine, make the room dark (and we will have a sound machine too!), don't let him sleep too long during the day, do not change the diaper every single time he wakes up at night (yeah, I did that!), and to wait when I hear a noise to see if he's really waking up or just making sleep noises.

My plan B and C? Well, I'm not sure yet, but I could always try putting him down awake and see if he's one of those rare babies that prefers that or I could try rocking or "shh" him to sleep. My last resort would be to wear him in a wrap like I did with my daughter for the first three months.  I put her to sleep about three different ways over time, so I will most likely pick the one I think will work best and try that.

Maybe I'm being too presumptuous to have a plan, but I don't want to be scrambling when I'm sleep deprived with a crying baby (and toddler) and hormones all over the place! My main goal is to be flexible and take the time to step back and make clear decisions. And if I make a bad decision, to let it go. Over all, I really want to STRESS LESS!

And now I need to go - she's up! Short nap, but what can you do??

Monday, April 23, 2012

Money Monday: Saving, Part Two

As I was trying to fit the books my husband got for Easter on the bookshelf, I came across the book The Sound Mind Investing Handbook by Austin Pryor. My mother had given it to us a few years ago for Christmas or birthdays... can't remember. It was long enough ago that when I started to read it, I felt overwhelmed at our inability to even begin thinking about saving, more less investing!

Moving every six months and having your income and spending change that often too makes it very difficult to get a grip on finances, more so saving. Really, it felt like we were just spinning our wheels. The engine was running, but we weren't getting anywhere. I am so thankful our needs were always met and only once did we go in debt from an unexpected expense.

Now though, things are different. They are more stable; at least for this year they have been. We have been able, and are able, to save. At least some.

So I decided to take that book off the shelf to make room for the new books, and review the money book. He starts out the book answering the question, "What's my purpose in investing?" He says, "For the Christian, the answer is two fold: 1) to provide financially for the needs of your household, and 2) to increase your assets in order to serve God more fully." I'm on board with that.

I skipped to his chapter titled "Do You Have Adequate Savings?". The answer for us: no. So what do we do? Well, here's what I gleaned from the chapter, for us personally:

1) He recommends having a minimum of three months worth of living expenses and more ideally, six months. He said some people say $10,000. This money would be your contingency fund, as he called it. I prefer to call it emergency fund, like Dave Ramsey, because, currently, "contingency" is not really in my vocabulary. (I know, I'm no scholar!)

We have had a so-called emergency fund since we've been married and I read Dave Ramsey's book. He recommends starting with a $1000 and build as you are able. We have never really been over $1000 because something has always come up. This is a more realistic goal for us than $10,000, but we don't plan on stopping at $1000, of course. So there is one area we are, and need to continue, working on.

2) Austin Pryor suggests those in the 20's save 5-10% of their earnings. Check. I believe we are doing that. Our income is small, so it's not much, but we do believe it's better to save little than none. However, we are  not putting all our savings into our emergency fund. From what we are able to save, and whatever extra we have for whatever reason, we split three ways: 50% to emergency fund, 25% to a second car fund, and 25% to a house fund. Since we are hopeful to buy a second car and home upfront, I felt very strongly that we should start saving now, before we even have a foreseeable need. And if we can't pay in full when the time comes, we at least have some to put down upfront.

3) He suggests putting your emergency fund in an account that where the money is immediately accessible and completely safe. Four places you can do that are banks, credit unions, money markets, and US Treasury Bills. Now a days, you get hardly any interest in a bank savings accounts, and even money markets are low. We had a money market for a few years, but our balance got so low they closed our account! Now, I think we would be able to maintain it (God willing!), but I'm not sure we have enough yet to open an account. Right now we have a Silver Savers account, since my brother got my husband into buying silver. I'm not sure how I feel about it, especially now that I know about the importance of it being safe. Silver is really something to invest in, but maybe not so good for savings, as its value can fluctuate a lot.

4) He also mentioned having an accumulation fund for major expenses such as a new car, furniture, or a remodeling project. This is money you can save for more than a year before you actually need it. He mentioned that investments would be a good way to go with this so maybe our car and house savings would be fine in a silver account, but our emergency fund in something safer.

So steps I want us to take in our savings:
1) Continue saving!
2) Look into a money market for safer savings.
3) Keep accumulation funds (car, house) in silver account to earn interest.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Homemaking Saturday: A Couple Cleaning Tips

On Homemaking Saturday I share something I'm doing or learning to make my home a better place to live.

These tips are new to me, which may show my lack of cleaning skills, but I want to share them because I feel enlightened and excited... hey, maybe you will too!

1) How to clean a hair brush. I humbly admit it... I have never truly cleaned a hair brush before. I would pick out the gunk, run it under hot water, or just get a new one (after a few years). It wasn't until I saw in a Real Simple magazine a link to instructions that I even realized there's an effective way to clean a hair brush! Here it is:

  • Fill a container with 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup white vinegar, and 20 drops of tea tree essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil or lavender essential oil.
  • Soak brush for 20 minutes. 
  • Rinse in clear water and air dry. 
Sooooo simple AND it worked! I used a tall plastic cup Sweet Girl plays with in the tub (something we don't drink out of). The only thing was that around the top of the handle (where it met the water), a ring of paint came off. But, I'd rather have a clean brush! 

2) Cleaning a porcelain sink with baking soda. I know baking soda can do amazing things cleaning, but I'm always skeptical and think of it last. I've been cleaning our porcelain sink with Comet, but a ran out a few weeks ago. I really wanted to find something different. So when I went to clean it, I decided to check my Green Clean book (which I should have done when we first moved here!). It said to wet a sponge with baking soda. I thought, "Yeah, right." But it worked! It might not be as bright white, but it was noticeably cleaner, and bright enough for me. I put the baking soda in a narrow glass jar, since the box had gotten wet, and put my wet rag over the opening, shook some onto the rag and just repeated when I needed to. Ahh, a safe and cheap way to have a clean white sink! (Just so you know, that's not my sink pictured above. If only...)

And, I apologize for only two (I was going to try to find a third), but I'm anxious to work on some curtains for the bedroom before Sweet Girl wakes up! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday: Pascha Memories

Note: In the Eastern Orthodox Church we call Easter, Pascha. We follow a different calendar so we usually celebrate on a different date. We celebrate it late Saturday night, instead of Sunday morning.

I have mentioned before that since my husband and I have been married, we haven't celebrated Pascha twice in the same place. As we were reminiscing one night, it occurred to me that it's kind of nice now because each Pascha has distinct memories. They don't all blend together, like they do for my childhood.

Sweet Girl's "basket"
Our first year we were in South Carolina. The service was to start at 11:00 pm, which meant we'd have to rush home after the game, change, and rush to church. However, that night there was a rain delay. The game started, but then it began to rain. They never canceled the game, just waited... about two hours, if I remember correctly. So we were about two hours late to church, but we still had a good hour to attend, so we didn't miss everything. Fortunately, there was no game the next day so we basically slept all day!

The next year we were in Virginia. That April was especially hard on us financially. We started out renting an apartment and I wasn't able to find a job. I literally didn't know how I was going to buy food for us. Easter was a few weeks before Pascha that year, and after a game Will handed me a $100 gift card for Wal-mart. It said, "To the married baseball couple." (We were the only married ones.) It was truly a miracle!

For Pascha, the team was on the road in Maryland. So on Saturday I drove out so we could attend a Greek church together. It was unique enough for us to experience Pascha in mostly Greek, but the feast afterwards was quite a culture shock! The first thing on the buffet was this good looking soup and we both got a big bowl. But after one bite, we knew we could eat no more. We were told later it was Lamb Brain Soup - a delicacy to Greeks, but I'm quite American and I felt very bad letting it go to waste. We will always remember that one!

Opening a present from Grandma and Grandpa
 Our third Pascha we celebrated in Florida at the tail end of Spring Training. We left for Virginia on Pascha (after been up half the night!). We were attending a Greek church, so the service was more familiar to us having attended one the previous year. There was no feast at the church, so we went to Perkins and dug into some awesome breakfast. On our drive up to Virginia (where we had been the year before), through a relay of phone calls (but not initiated by us), it was determined that we could stay rent-free in a brand new condo just minutes from the field! Not only had we not known where we would live before we got to a place, but this situation was the best one so far! We felt the spirit of Pascha all around us!

First egg hunt!
 Last year we were in Maine. Since we had moved their shortly before and were trying to get Sweet Girl on a different sleep schedule (which resulted in much less sleep for both of us while she was still adjusting), we decided that her and I would not go to the midnight service. That year, Easter and Pascha were on the same Sunday, and there was no baseball game! So during the day we celebrated with our wonderful host parents and went to the afternoon service (Agape Vespers) as a family. It was a wonderful day of fellowship!

She took it quite seriously.
This year was a whirlwind. Early Saturday evening I tried to stop and pray that I would be able savor the moments. Even as I tried, it went by so fast! Sweet Girl did not get to sleep until 2:00 am, but she was great. She sat with my mother most of the time and seemed to be in awe of the joyful service with all it's different things happening. As for me, I was tired at times, but I could feel the joy as well, touching my hard, sinful heart, and lifting it up, if just a little. It is a hard thing to comprehend, the Resurrection of our Lord. Hard to even try. But God graciously let me see a glimmer a time or two during that awesome celebration.

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter/Pascha as well! 

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Christ is Risen from the dead!
Trampling down death by death!
And to those in the tombs,
bestowing Life!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Time for the Little Surprise!

The surprise is... we are having a BOY!!! 

Are you surprised? I was! I thought for sure we were having a girl, but we learned otherwise pretty quickly. As the lady was getting set up she asked us if we wanted to know and we said yes. She commented that she's seen a lot of girls lately and as soon as she put the wand on my belly, she then added, "Oh, not today!"

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Just a Couple Notes

Happy Easter to all those celebrating Easter today. For those who are Orthodox, may you have a blessed Holy Week!

I wanted to let you know I will not be posting for a week and a half. Not only am I going to try to be more focused spiritually this week, but, practically speaking, it is a packed week and weekend and I really need take care of myself and the one inside and rest as much as I possibly can. That means naps instead of posts!

I will, however, be posting a little surprise tomorrow, so be sure to check back in! After that, I will see you on Thursday the 19th. I'll be sharing some Easter memories.

A blessed Easter/Pascha to you all! Glory be to our risen Lord!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Homemaking Saturday: Gardening

On Homemaking Saturday, I share something I'm doing or learning to make my home a better place to live.

I have never gardened before unless you count when I was a child and weeding was a chore that I despised. Now that I see the value in growing your own produce, and I am finally in a position to, I am going to attempt it this spring and summer.

I am going to do container gardening since this is not our property. Around February we started composting in a container. I don't know how it's doing except things are rotting. Again, a new venture in which I don't know what I'm doing. So, I may or may not end up using some. I really need to look into it.

For containers I will be using the bottoms of milk and juice jugs (for herbs, flowers, and smaller plants) and five gallon buckets (for bigger plants). Glamorous, I know... My goal this year is not to make a pretty garden, but to grow produce.

I ordered seeds from Fedco, a company my former-CSA-farmer brother recommended. They should come some time next week. I will buy some seedlings next month.

For April I hope to start:

  • lettuce
  • peas
  • parsley
  • chives
  • cilantro
  • basil
  • dill
  • zucchini
  • yellow squash
  • flowers

In May I'll get tomato plants and start green beans and cucumber as well.

I have sort of a giddy, but anxious, excitement about this venture. I feel like a child, excited about the possibility and adventure, in awe of growth. But my rational adult side feels fear and dread at utter and total failure. Because, friends, I really don't have a clue what I'm doing! I've compiled information from books and my brother, but I'm getting the sense that this is something one must learn on one's own and only by experience. Kind of like having a baby.

So we shall see. Fortunately, I haven't spent that much money so if nothing works out, it wasn't a huge investment to begin with. And no matter what amount of produce I get, I hope to can at least learn and have some value from that. 

Are you planning on gardening this year? Any tips for newbies? Happy growing!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday: Healing from a lost dream

On Thoughtful Thursday I share thoughts on ways I'm working to improve myself as a woman, wife and mother. 

This week I learned that a player my husband played with, who's wife I was friends with, was chosen as a starter for the major league team we were affiliated with. You'd think I would have been excited to hear this; happy for them. I should have been. Instead, I felt jealous, disappointed. It simply revisited a site of healing that I don't visit often. 

In our new world here, of "normal life", with our family and circle of friends, and the new venture of coaching, we don't think about it much. That loss of the dream. The dream of playing in the majors one day. A dream my husband had since he was a child. A dream I shared with him from the beginning of our relationship. One we spent four years pursuing. And now is the birth of new dreams and ideas, but the old still lingers. 

I think it would be much like losing a business. You have hopes and dreams, ideas and plans. You invest time and money, energy and brain power. And it just doesn't work out. God doesn't always tell us why something can seem so right, even over a period of time, and then be revealed as not so. 

I know we were following His will in our pursuit of that dream. I'm thankful for all the unique experiences we were able to experience, the people we got to meet, and all the lessons we learned, bringing us closer to God and each other. And I know that now that we are right where He wants us. 

I'm not sure if I can explain it, but for us, and others I've talked to, the baseball world is a totally different mindset. While we were home for the winter in the off-season, we felt comfortable and almost as if we could let go of the dream and live normally. But when we were in the middle of it - Spring Training, the games, stats, promotions, etc. - the dream was brought back to life and the desire rekindled. 

I know we have healed a lot because this recent news wasn't disruptive or depressing, but just rocked the boat a little. It showed that we still have some healing to do, but that doesn't surprise me. I know we are both happier where we are now, but sometimes we long for that dream and miss that life a little too. As these things come up, I try to welcome them as a time to think about it and let a little more healing happen. 

As I thought about this briefly this morning, I remembered a thought I had last March toward the end of Spring Training. I was blessed during that month to write in my journal almost every day. Reading back in it I'm able to see the progression from being anxious about my husband making a team to the peace God gave me if he didn't. Here's an excerpt that I was reminded of this morning:

"Last night at prayers I was sort of involuntarily praying for him to make it. I don't want him to 'fail' - I want him to make it. But then a thought came to me, "Then what? Would it just be like last year? Him struggling? Being unhappy about it? Wondering if he should keep playing?" 

"What if," came the thought, "baseball ended and he found something else he loves? Something he'd be excited about; he'd come home happy from... Wouldn't that be better than him 'making it' out of Spring Training?"

And although he did make a team, it was clear to us later that it was time to move on. We didn't know it at the time, but the beginning of the season was simply a bridge of comfort and employment before his current job opened up. And I am over joyed to say that, these days, my husband has found something else he loves. Something he's excited about and comes home happy from. That, my friends, is healing. Glory be to God who knows all things and cares for us in the way only He can!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Money Monday: Saving, Part One

On Money Monday I share ways I'm learning to save, make or spend money wisely.

There are two ways I think about saving money. One is saving through the purchases I make or don't make. The other is setting aside money for something in particular or just in case. This week I want to write about saving through purchases. 

"To everyone who is careful there is an abundance, but he who is pleasure-taking and slothful shall be in want." Proverbs 14:24

I feel like most of the tips I read in magazines, or even on sites designed for money saving tips, really still promote buying. While we all have to buy things, I think our culture makes us think we need more than we do. So one way I'm trying to save money is simply buying less. When I think of something we "need", I try to reconsider. I wrote about some ways I'm doing this a couple Saturdays ago. Usually a "need" gets put on a list and sits there for a while until I have money. By then I might realize that we really don't need it. 

When I do decide to buy something, I try to buy wisely. For me this means buying something that might cost more, but has a higher quality value too, so it will last longer. This is especially important the bigger the purchase. If it's something that just doesn't have a long life no matter what, I usually go the inexpensive route. 

Before I buy something big, I try to do my research. I might ask around, but usually I search the internet. Amazon usually has good reviews on everything and I weigh the opinions. Another way I try to buy wisely is to, as above, wait before I buy. Not only does this weed out the unnecessary things, but also allows me to really think about what is important to me when buying the product, therefore being happier with it and keeping it longer in the end.

I try to shop at thrift stores before I buy new, if it's something I don't mind having used. I really liked this post about thrift store shopping. (It's mainly about clothes, but I think the points can be applied to most things.) I am lucky that we have three great, yet varied, thrift stores in my town to shop at. Still, it is tricky to find just what you need, by the time you need it, and it be a quality product you will want to keep. 

When I need something new or specific that I haven't found, I often buy from Amazon. This past fall, I signed up for Amazon Mom and got a free trial of Amazon Prime, which gives me free shipping on most items. When I bought some things from their "baby store", they extended it. And since we've had baby things to buy lately, I have it until the end of May. The free shipping is good on other things, not just baby. So if you're in my situation, you could look into that. (And no, they are not paying me to say this, though I wish they were!)

Another thing I do when I know I'm going to buy something at a store is check out When I bought fabric for my bag, I printed off a coupon for Joann's from that site. Sometimes it's helpful, sometimes not.

I'm always looking for ways to save money either by buying less or buying more wisely, and therefore saving in the future. Have any tips to share?