My poor little boy is a trooper. It seems I may have been more traumatized by Thursday nights events than he was. Good news though, we located the owner of the dogs....because they came back this morning...three times....in a hour. (Turns out I can run amazingly fast through blackberry bushes while in my pj's.)
The owner reacted with appropriate concern and will be covering the vet bill, however I find it very unnerving that the dogs were roaming loose given that the owner had heard the attack the previous day.
At any rate, Reuben is recovering very well and will be getting the drainage tube out on Monday.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Go Daddy is offering 30% off new ".com" registries and renewals.
Use coupon code: EMMA30
Friday, July 17, 2009
Keep it cheap by bringing water with you, split treats with a friend and walk, rather than re-parking constantly.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Between a wide array of wine shops, grocery stores, and websites (such as my favorite discount site, Wines 'Til Sold Out), there are plenty of discount and budget options for wine nowadays. Don't be fooled, wine makers are feeling the pinch of this economy, too, and it's starting to show in retail price tags across the world. Yet, if you've eaten out recently, you've probably noticed that it's not showing up on restaurant menus. Why is that? For starters, the markup on wine in most restaurants is usually at least 2 to 3 times the wholesale price they pay, which makes small discounts look like fractions of pennies. There's a valid reason for this, restaurants have a lot of overhead and waste they have to cover in their pricing structure, and alcohol (all types, not just wine) is a good way to recoup some of those expenses. Secondly, many of these places buy so far in advance that their current wine offerings aren't showcasing the discounts yet.
In the past, people have simply paid the prices, chalking them up to part of the experience of a nice evening out. But this doesn't seem to be the trend any longer. Everyone is looking for alternatives to pinch some pennies. And why not? Wine doesn't have to be relegated to the upper echelon of society or break the bank, nor does it have to be expensive to be good. It can be an enjoyable and affordable part of dinner. It just takes a little research and ingenuity. I've provided you with a few of my favorite budget-savvy options, but I'm sure you can come up with more. If you do, feel free to email them to email@example.com and I will make sure to test them out!
1. Bring Your Own Bottle ("BYOB")
Although this is not a new concept, it is one that is starting to make a comeback, in a rather deterrent sort of way. Restaurants are recognizing that their patrons may prefer to bring their own and are accommodating that desire - for a corkage fee. The corkage fee typically includes wine glasses and the waiter opening the bottle for you. At most places the charge runs $15 to $30 and is designed to bring the price of the wine closer to those on their wine list, eliminating the value of BYOB. In addition, many restaurants require that the wine brought in must not be on their current wine list. As a result of these rules, it only makes sense to utilize the service if you have a special bottle of wine (e.g. one you had at your wedding that you want to use for your anniversary) or you have a very expensive bottle of wine.
That said, not all restaurants are taking this route. My husband and I used to be regulars at a Thai restaurant that did not have a wine list. They allowed us to bring in our wine for free when we ate there. The "regulars" part is important to note in this situation as they did not allow everyone to BYOB. Sometimes building a relationship with restaurant owners can make a difference between getting a yes or no to your "may I drink my wine here" question. But in either case, it never hurts to ask.
Other places, often along wine routes or wine centered areas, recognize the value of allowing people to bring in wine and only charge a nominal fee (such as $6 for a place in Oregon recently mentioned in Wine Spectator) to defray the service cost. How can you tell the difference between which places have high prices and which don't? Call the restaurant and ask or surf the net for reviews that mention corkage fees and select your restaurant accordingly. It may take a while to find the places that are more BYOB friendly, but once you do, the time will be worth the money saved.
2. Take it Outside.
When my husband and I were first dating, we were fans of picnics for broke college student reasons. This is still a fun way to go for us in nicer weather months, but we prefer to add a little bit of entertainment to the bill. We live in the DC area, which offers a lot of options in that regard. Jazz in the Garden, for instance, is a free jazz concert in the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden every Friday night during the summer months. Wolf Trap, a Virginia venue, also offers inexpensive lawn tickets for music concerts (and even deeper discounted ones for pre-season purchase; if you're local, get on their mailing list for more info). Both places allow BYOB and food. We pack a picnic, a blanket, wine, and stake out a spot on the ground. Even with the price of the tickets at Wolf Trap, this is often cheaper than a meal at a restaurant, it lasts longer, and it feels better to be outside, enjoying the sunshine. Check out your local newspaper listings for events in your area. You may be surprised to find that many cities are offering similar entertainment.
3. Half-Price Bottle Night.
This is definitely not a new concept, but as the economy is dipping slightly south, it's popping up at many restaurants like it's the new bell bottom for the 70s. Take advantage while you can. In my area, I know of at least 6 restaurants that do this at least once a week. Even if you pick the more expensive wines on the list, you'll find that the prices are much cheaper than BYOB+fee. Recently, we did this at a restaurant close to our house. We bought a bottle of Alsatian Pinot Blanc and paid only $5 more than the same bottle sold for at the local grocery store.
4. Take Out.
This is a great alternative for my husband and me on our busiest nights. We grab a meal on the way home, pop the cork on a bottle of wine, and enjoy a date at home. Although we tip on carry-out, the tip is not as high and we find that we spend and eat less when not prompted with the menu every 20 minutes. So it's a money saving proposition all the way around. If you have some favorites for take-out, keep a few go-to bottles at home, at the ready for those "I need a break" nights. My favorite pairings include Viognier with Indian curry, Gewurztraminer with Thai, and Sake with Sushi.
5. Have it for Dessert.
If you still want to eat out, but you don't want to pay the fees or the wine list prices, then plan on having your wine for dessert. Skip it at the restaurant then head home and drink it. In the summer, we like to drink on the porch as the light wanes and the lightning bugs dissolve into view. In the winter, we light a fire in the fireplace and cuddle up beneath the blankets as the logs pop fireworks into the air.
However you decide to drink your wine, make it an experience. After all, that's really what wine is all about!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I adore my wedding ring. It's a gorgeous antique styled Simon G, that my husband paid a significant amount for. Imagine my horror, when six months into our marriage I was called out for allowing it to get so dirty it barely had any shine to it.
Determined not to allow such an embarrassing thing to happen again, I developed a new routine. Any time I take on a messy endeavor, the ring comes off and goes into the solution. Straight into the solution so that I don't lose it. (Did I mention that I'm forgetful?) Once my task is finished, I give the ring a quick scrub and rise, then back on it goes.
This routine has proven invaluable, not only for keeping my ring pretty, but intact as well. I've actually bent a prong before without knowing. Not until I went to scrub out the nooks and crannies did I see the peril my diamond was it. Thank goodness nothing happened!
Over the last year I've grown very attached to this cleaning method and had a mini-meltdown when I realized how dirty the cleaning solution had gotten. I didn't want to go BUY new container...but I also couldn't live with the ickyness. Major dilemma. (Aha!)
Grabbing a filter bag I use for my loose leaf tea, I poured the solution into a new container filtering out all the gunk. Clean solution, clean ring and I didn't have to spend a dime.
Still frugal, still fabulous!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Free shipping when you spend $200 or check for the free in store pick-up option.
Monday, July 13, 2009
This week will be little chaotic since my Dad is town for the week, but here is plan:
Monday - Tuna melts with chilled cucumber soup
Tuesday - Mexican corn, black bean and avocado salad
Wednesday - Dinner at Mom's
Thursday - Ricotta, lemon, basil pasta with sauteed kale
Friday - Out to dinner
Saturday - BBQ
Sunday - Salmon Caesar salad and french bread
Have you heard about the changes over at Hautelook? This is exciting!! In addition to a new layout you can now purchase from multiple sales in one cart. PLUS, for the next 30 days you only pay shipping on items from your first order. All other items purchased for that cart will ship free!
There are other great new features too. Larger and better quality photos, ability to set member preferences, detailed order tracking and a more simplified return process.
Props to Hautelook for listening to their costumers requests!
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I adore a farmers market. Perhaps because it reminds me of my summers on the farm. No, I'm serious, I really did spend my childhood summers on a farm. Every summer, my brother and I flew to Minnesota to spend time with our grandma. Those hours spent shelling peas while watching the Twins play will always be treasure memories.
However that is just the tip of the iceberg that is my love of the market, here are the others:
- Market produce is local produce. Keeping your dollars nearby increases the likelyhood they will come back to you.
- Market produce is healthy, for you and the earth. Not only are you going to find organics but because they haven't been truck all over the country (or world) they are fresher and there is no wasted fuel to be concerned with.
- A lot of green for a little green. Prices always amaze me, especially if you are there toward the end of the day. If one both is more expensive, just meander on to the next one.
Here's what I ran away with today, for just $20...and half of that was the fresh local ricotta and queso de oveja.