Want something “free” for your birthday?

free stuff, coupons, email lists, rewards, patronageI’m not a huge coupon-er.  I want to be, but I’m just not that organized.  A few years ago, however, a friend of mine mentioned how he was getting freebies on his birthday.  Since his birthday is two days before mine, I got excited and did a little research.  Thank you, Google.

I found a few sites that link to various restaurants and other retailers that give you free stuff for your birthday. See below for links.  Since I moved to a new area this year, there were new retailers to sign up for and from whom to get a little something.  This year, I got about $60 worth of food.  I got more coupons than I could use, of course. Here are a few tips on what to do if you want some freebies too:

  1. Have an email address specifically for these coupons.  If you don’t, your regular email address will be inundated throughout the year because you are signing up on email lists in order to get said freebies.
  2. Nine times out of 10, you will get a freebie just for signing up.  Sometimes this is better than what you get for your birthday.
  3. Take a few days to sign up.  You’ll notice that the lists are huge. Don’t attempt to do it all in one sitting or you’ll go cross-eyed.  Maybe not, but it’s tiring nonetheless.
  4. Note locations.  Some places make you choose your “local” restaurant and the coupon is only good there.
  5. Note the expiration dates.  About a week or so before your birthday you will start getting these emails.  Some of them only give you 14 days to use them. Some of them give you a full month.
  6. Note viewing restrictions.  Some emails can only be viewed two or three times and then no more.  So, print out the coupon as soon as you view it.

Most places hand out dessert.  I did get a free meal from a few places though.  Some were just buy one get one, which is better than dessert if you ask me.

One non-food discount I received was from Kimpton Hotels.  You have to sign up for their rewards program, but you get 20% off a weekend stay (during your birthday month), two glasses of champagne, dessert, and a surprise. I was tempted to do it, but decided to be frugal.

Links to freebie lists (there will be duplicates):

Last hint: These lists are pretty good, but there are probably a few places you frequent that aren’t on them.  Do your own research to see if those retailers have clubs or email lists.

Happiness is Little Dreams Realized

One of the many great things about living in Minnesota is that I get to try new things… While new fast food joints might not seem sexy or even cool, I was very excited about three news ones. Well, actually, it was just two and a half.

culver's, dairy, fast foodFirst, the half. We went to Culver’s. It reminded me of Foster’s Freeze, but cleaner, newer. The burgers were good, I’d been there once before when I visited Paul last December. The reason I was eager to go back was because of the custard…the frozen custard. It wasn’t over the top, orgasmically good, but it was good. It was like really creamy soft serve ice cream, maybe the way it SHOULD be…

The second place I’d been hankering to try was White Castle. I have hazy, very hazy, memories of this place from my childhood. I don’t specifically remember going to one of them because like in the movie, they weren’t easy to find in thefast food, hamburger state of New Jersey. So, Paul indulged my whim and took me to dinner there one night. Wow. Aside from the fact that it was on the edge of the shady side of town, the burgers were pretty bad. I’m not sure what I expected, but maybe I’ve just been spoiled by having too many good burgers lately. I mean aside from the onions on them, the little suckers had zero flavor. Plus, the texture was a little too mushy for my taste.

Finally, we have Sonic Drive-in. I’ve been wanting to go to a Sonic since 2005. That was the year I moved to Sacramento. I had seen the beginnings of one being built in Natomas, but everyone in Sacramento knows what happened to that site… The only alternatives were in Roseville and Woodland. To this day, I have no idea where the one is in Roseville. I’ve driven past the Sonic in Woodland a few times, but the only reason I ever went to Woodland was to visit family and Sonic was never an option.

Sonic, fast food, beverage, drinksFast forward to yesterday. The place at which I’ve been doing some temp work is down the street from a Sonic. It was everything I’d hoped it would be. The food was tasty, but the drinks…the drinks! I had a strawberry limeade. It was one of the best things I’ve ever had the pleasure of swallowing. It’s deliciously sweet flavor tasted like the Midwest. There was something just wonderful about it. I can’t name it, it was more like a feeling, a perfect balance of happiness and satisfaction.  Next time, I’m going to try one of those slushes…possibly even the grape one!  Who am I kidding? It’s all strawberry all the time.

Mixing it up with some Sacramento Bloggers

frankfurter and beerYou would think that a beer crazy town like Sacramento would have a plethora of German themed bars or beirhalls if you will.

As far as I know, LowBrau is the only one. And while I was disappointed that there was no oompa-like polka music to be heard, it paled in comparison to the pleasure I got from the delicious frankfurter.

Also get your mind out of the gutter…but I thought it too as I wrote that sentence.

Regardless, yesterday I went to what will probably be my last Sacramento mixer. This one was put on by the Sacramento Bloggers group. If you are a blogger in Sacramento and you haven’t signed up on their site, what is your problem? They put together some really nifty shindigs.

Margaret Andrews, Nichole Beaudry and Stephanie Porter run the site devoted to all types of blogs based in the greater Sacramento area.

Their latest gathering took place at LowBrau, where they have plenty of mustards and other interesting sauces/toppings for your food. Who doesn’t love a good dipping sauce?

mustard

But, seriously, LowBrau, my first visit was during the SacTweetup held there. Like I said, I was hoping for a more traditional bier hall. A friend of mine, Jen, has a good rule of thumb:  You always have to give a place two chances before really deciding whether you like it or not. It’s sort of like dating.  She’s right. I’m glad I went back. While I’m not a huge fan of community tables, mostly because I’m anti-social, I do enjoy the self serve water station. Also, the servers were very friendly. And as most businesses know, good service goes a long way…even longer than good food.

What I love about going to Sacramento Blogger events is that you get an interesting cross section of people. You see people you’ve probably run into at other social media or blogging events in the area, but you also get the opportunity to meet new folks too. And you don’t just talk about blogging, although it’s a great way to break the ice.

Another hidden food menace…

No fruiting the tea!

No fruiting the tea!

When I move to Minnesota, I hope to lose my iced tea phobia. Here in California, iced tea is not always just plain, black tea in its delicious, natural form the way God intended.

OK, man intended. Whatever.

Here in California, they fruit up the damn tea…and don’t warn you!

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy an herbal tea every now and then, but I need heads up.

Now, I go into a restaurant craving iced tea and get something laden with mango or God forbid, passion fruit.  When I was a kid, this was not the case.  Iced tea was iced tea, not chock full of produce.  When in our history did we decide to fruit the tea?  It was probably in the 1980s.

It’s really disappointing.  I have to be “that” chick.  You know, the high maintenance one who has to ask, “Is the iced tea flavored?”

Why can’t restaurants just agree that iced tea is black tea without fruit.  It’s not unflavored. Black tea has a flavor and it’s delicious!  Why do people have to mask it?  If you want something fruity, have a glass of juice.

I’m hoping the folks in the Midwest get it. I’m hoping they haven’t been swayed by Hollywood to enhance the tea and try to pass it off as default tea.

Resolutions for 2013

Damn. Is it really 2013? The future is pretty rad. I’m totally bring back rad.

Dating, diet, and fitness ads abound on TV which means a new year is about to begin. It’s interesting that we don’t see many commercials about investing, saving money or retirement planning. Maybe that’s not as sexy as well, sex.

Last year I made some resolutions , I even achieved a few.  This year, I’ll some newish goals.

1. Writing – Since this is my passion, I want to focus on achieving more clout (not necessarily klout) in this field somehow. It might be monetary or accolades or both, but this is an area on which I’d like to focus much of my energy. I’d also like to try out new styles, join more groups & just generally engage in more ways with regard to writing.

2. Health – Diets don’t work. What I want to do is act like a skinny person. I have stopped calling myself fat, for the most part. There are still those moments, usually fueled by hormones or emotions, when I slip up. But I have been getting better about portion control. I have tried to keep sweets away from me, but they somehow find their way into my awareness. I hate exercise. I do like to walk, so I’ve been pretty good about getting out of the office for 20 minutes to get off my ass.

3. Finances – While my financial habits have improved greatly over the past year, I’m still in need of improvement. I need to cut out some stupid costs which should have been cut last year. I need to watch my dining out habits. Avoiding dirtying a dish because I’m too tired to  bother is a lame excuse to go to Chipotle. I need to increase my liquid assets. I think that means putting more cash in my savings account. It doesn’t help that I can be an emotional spender. I’m sad. Ooh look at that pretty sweater!

Holiday Fever, Do you have it?

IMG_5650Is it just me or is anyone else having a tough time concentrating? I go into the office and I just want to listen to Christmas music, eat cookies and shop for presents. All of my Christmas shopping is done and I have work to do!

What is wrong with me? I’ve got visions of sugar plums dancing in my head during the day, that can’t be right. Maybe it’s because I’m taking almost two weeks off from work, something I rarely if ever do. In those two weeks, so many things will occur, and no I’m not counting the stupid Mayan Apocalypse, which by all accounts could happen because I always said that the world would probably end if I ever found myself in a relationship.

Miracle of all miracles, I am in a relationship with a great guy, so I really hope the world doesn’t end before I can see him again.  While we won’t see each other on Christmas, we will have a very Happy New Year.  That holiday is quickly becoming my favorite only because I will get to spend it with Paul.

But there is also Christmas, which I always love. Every year I enjoy it in a different way because I watch my nephews get excited about it. I remember the feeling of anticipation, the excitement at wondering what Santa left me under the tree and I get to relive it through them.

Of course, there is also all of the celebrations. My sister, my mom and I always go out together for a special holiday dinner just the three of us. We go to a restaurant in Sacramento with great food, enjoy some fancy cocktails, and other variations of holiday cheer.

The Festivus Tweetup is on Tuesday and various work function will occur throughout the week. Not to mention Pre-Christmas Eve taco party with friends, Christmas Eve with family and then Christmas Day with more family. It’s the food, wine and good times that I enjoy the most in the holiday season. I just want the fun to begin now!

We be clubbin’

Full disclosure: I’m not now nor have I ever really been into the club scene.  Even back in my 20s, I’m not sure what I was really doing at the Rage.  If you’ve lived in Sacramento for a decade or so, you probably know what I’m talking about.  But, when the Sacramento Bloggers had a gathering at the Reunion Nightclub in El Dorado Hills, I set aside my preconceived notions, and gave the place a whirl.

I’d heard that their target demographic is people in their 30s and up.  This definitely caught my interest.  One of the things that keeps me from going to a club, aside from the crowds, is the fact that I’d be one of the oldest people there.

VIP BoothsLet me just say this, I was really impressed with the decor.  It felt comfortable, but classy.  I actually found myself wondering how one might reserve one of these VIP booths.  They don’t have a cover charge most nights, unless a band is playing.  I saw the list of bands playing in December and saw one called Rebel Yell.  Since obviously Billy Idol gets it, I might have to check them out in the future.

Fancy Flyers

On Wednesday nights they have dueling pianos, which I’m pretty sure everyone enjoys.  You can make requests and dedications, but remember to tip them if you do.  It’s only polite.

Food and beverage in a club

They had really good food available too.  It was served buffet style, so you could help yourself between dance sessions, gab sessions, or drink sessions.

The crowd was just as I expected, in my age group.  The music they played reminded me of high school.  Pretty sure I recall hearing a Naughty By Nature song.  Hip Hop Hooray, if you are wondering. I felt comfortable and had a great time hanging out with some local bloggers.  So, if you, your friends and/or your significant other are looking for a new place to check out, I suggest you try the Reunion Nightclub.