Thursday, March 24, 2011


I should tell you that when I get an idea or a project like this one, I immediately get so excited and gung ho about it that I have troubles sleeping when new things come to mind. This is usually followed by a burst in activity to make the idea come to life, and then not so long after followed by a lull in my interest and, for example, a blog with 2 weeks of a lot of work and nothing after Im really hoping to find ways to keep my interest in this project and not let it become another chore as my scrapbooks and some other hobbies have when I get behind on them. If it werent for the Nyquil last night, I wouldve laid awake and stewed (haha, get the cooking pun??) about ways to keep myself motivated. When I said on facebook that I tried a new restaurant a couple of weeks ago, I had a few people asking how it was and if it was worth giving a shot. It turned out that the place I mentioned then (Caffrey's Steak House) was not worth going back, and I said so. Which got me thinking that with so many good places to eat in Des Moines, I would really like to know if people didnt like certain ones so I could just skip over them without wasting my time and money on a bad dinner. So I thought I could review places we eat on here too. I even had a dream about it last night, but I digress....

Anyway, as you know I'm big on food...not just food Ive cooked though, I love getting recipes from friends and trying new things that they make (I am friends with some ladies and even a couple guys who are excellant in the kitchen and I have stolen many a recipe from them). Its funny because I used to be very picky and have seriously widened the qualifications for getting into my stomach in the last few years. I used to have a ban against anything that swam...if you lived in the ocean at any point in time, you were safe from my jaws. Now is a different story, we just got back from the Bahamas a month ago where I ate conch salad straight out of the ocean (we watched the local rip the conch out of the shell and beat it before he made the salad and served it to us...although brutal to watch, it was nummy to ingest! I also used to have a severe hatred for onions, and now (thanks to Justin) buy them by the bag and apply them to most recipes whether called for or not.

Conchs being pulled out of their lovely homes for us to snack on...

The point of this post is that I have learned to enjoy trying new things and new places so I have a big problem with the fact that there's so many good places in Des Moines that I have yet to dine in...the issue being it gets costly to eat out a lot. If Justin and I go out to dinner to a decent place it doesnt take much for us to hit $50 and if we add wine or drinks to the mix, its not a stretch to hit $100 for dinner and a tip. That's a little excessive to try and keep up with on a regular basis. Sooooo, I have this friend who is a severely addicted coupon clipper (for her anonymity, lets just call her Hynthia Cofer, haha). She has introduced me to world of savings and thanks to her, I can now add "coupon clipper" to my list of attractive attributes, right next to "cat lady".

Following in her footsteps, I ordered the 2011 Entertainment book for the Des Moines area. This has coupons for food, activities, salons, home improvement stores, mechanics, party planning stores, you name it. Before I go ANYWHERE, I consult with my entertainment book and see what it's got for me. The book cost $20 and I've already gotten over $100 worth of savings from it on things I would have bought at full cost anyway. Chalk one up for Hynthia, I may owe her lunch...but only if I can use a coupon. Here is the link for the books if any of you Des Moinites (Des Moinians? Des Moiners?) are interested....oh look, they are 50% off with free shipping too...lucky you!

After I got the bug, I couldnt quit there. I had heard of a couple of sites for coupons that are half off or more and subscribed to recieve daily emails from them as well. Im sure most of you have heard of Groupon but maybe have never given it a shot? I was leary at first but have purchased quite a few things off this site since subscribing, including massages, dinners, and pedicures for 50% or more off the normal price. They have a daily deal and you decide each day if its something that interests you or not. If not, just delete and carry on with your day...if so, purchase it, print it, and use it at your leisure. I love this site becuase there's no cost to join, you just choose what you like and decide each day if the deal is for you or not. I recommend anyone new to Des Moines or any other city, sign up for your local groupons to check out the area's eateries as well as fun activities you may never think to look at otherwise. Here is the link to sign up for this site:

Living Social is almost exactly like Groupon, they have daily deals and you are not required to purchase in order to see the deals available. Today's deal was actually emailed to me by one of my girlfriends as well (thanks Amanda!), just in case I didnt see it...because its a place that all of us LOVE after trying it a couple times. Irina's is a little Russian place that serves its own homemade booze (think horseradish infused vodka) as well as some amazing dishes. Ive been there twice, have been impressed both times, and bought today's deal since I cant wait to go back and try more menu items! To get a $40 gift certificate for Irina's for $20, sign up for Living Social here:

Another website I use for coupons is a little different. This one gives great deals (sometimes 80% off) but does carry stipulations. Where Groupon and Living Social have you purchase a coupon for say $25 but its worth $50 and works like a gift certificate, this website requires you to spend a minimum amount and charges an 18% gratuity for using the purchased coupon. The gratuity doesnt bother me as we usually tip 20% anyway, but the minimum order is sometimes a pain. I bought a $50 gift certificate for Christopher's for example (for a whopping $3 might I add), but we have to spend $100 in order to use it. This is one that will have to be used when we are with another couple or plan on drinking a decent amount to reach the purchase minimum. It does save money but is more of a pain than the other websites I mentioned.

That's about it for daily deals and piggy bank splitters that I check on a regular basis. We havent had a date night in a while so we are headed to Sam and Gabe's on Friday night, which is an Italian place in Des Moines that has recieved a lot of praise from people I know. We have a $50 certificate to spend there that I bought for $25 off of Groupon a while back, and I cant wait to try it! Dont worry, I will post a review this weekend for those of you looking for new places to try.

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