Monday, April 22, 2013

Like A (Coupon) Virgin...

Tonight I felt like a magical couponing sensei and am proud to say I have coupon converts. Granted, teaching someone with OCD how to coupon is like giving drugs to an addict, but still, I'm happy to help anyone save money. Kind of makes you feel like Santa Claus.

I should probably preface this whole post by explaining that the night started out with my friend (and virgin couponer) Christine telling me she thought I was "sick in the head" (direct quote) and pictured that I was a big, creepy hoarder. (Friends, she meant all this in the kindest way possible I promise. Plus, let's get real, we all know I'm a bit crazy!) Anyway, I countered with some recent pictures of some of my best "hauls" and she did a 180. Or a 360? She was ALL about the coupons once she realized we weren't stockpiling dingy cans of beans or cases of toilet paper like Honey Boo Boo's mom. She demanded a trip to CVS on the spot and luckily there was one across the street. There always is. 

It's hard to describe this shopping experience at CVS, but when I say it was like a kid in a candy store I'm not lying. We went right to the coupon machine and scanned both her CVS cards to get the store coupons. Luckily, she got a few good ones we could use AND some Extrabucks so it helped jump start her first purchase! We only did one transaction on some Garnier Fructis shampoo and conditioner to practice. It's on sale this week 3 for $10 so she got one of each which came to $6.66. Here's a rough play by play at the check-out counter: 

Clerk: "Did you find everything okay?"

Christine: "Yes." And then announces: "I have coupons." (Spills them onto the counter) "I don't know if you need to put them in any special order."

Clerk: "It all adds up!" He finishes ringing everything in and then does the coupons. Total is down to $3 and something. Christine is so excited. "Do you want to give your email address to get a 20% off coupon?"

Christine: (freaking out) "Yup! Absolutely." 

Clerk finishes with her email and CVS card and the total is down to $2.32. (A savings of $4.24!) I take a picture to commemorate the momentous occasion! How happy is she?!

We then leave the store, at which point she says she's all in on couponing and that she apologizes for saying I was sick in the head. (Thank you and you're welcome!) We immediately schedule a Sunday couponing 101 date. Moral of the story: extreme couponing changes people's lives. Or at least makes them a whole lot happier to shop at CVS.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Henrietta Can Keep Her Table

Since Valentine's day was just last week last month two months ago (crap, I suck at this) I figured you'd all love to hear what our dinner plans were since we are super romantic and into that holiday and all. We went to Henrietta's Table in Harvard Square because I had gotten a $50 gift card there for Christmas, and Valentine's Day seemed like as good a time as any to use it. Except we didn't actually go on Valentine's Day itself, we went the day before because I am such a good husband I opted to go to class the night of Valentine's Day instead. It's a wonder I'm still married.

In any event, the bonus of going on Wednesday is that they run what they call their "Yard Sale" where you can get any two courses and choice of a side for $28 or any three courses and a side for $35. Now depending on what you order for your two or three courses, this might not actually turn out to be much of a value. If you get one of the salads to start and something simple like chicken, you are only really saving a couple of dollars and to me that doesn't really constitute much of a "sale". When you have choices like this, always buy the most expensive options and you'll come out much further ahead.

I ended up getting an herb crusted chicken with mashed potatoes and the Maine rock crab and corn chowder with bacon to start. Kendra had some sort of fish with beets and a salad to start. As you can see, we mostly didn't follow our own great advice. DON'T BE LIKE US! When you have free money, go big.

The dinner was very pleasant and the servers were really friendly and attentive, but not overbearing or pushy, which is always nice. I would rate the food as pretty good, as it was certainly tasty, but this is coming from a guy who thinks chicken sandwiches covered in buffalo sauce from Burger King are "good", so take that for what it's worth. It definitely wasn't as good as Birch Street Bistro, that's for sure. And that is where my issue comes from.

It's not that Henrietta's is a bad place to eat, per se. The service is good, the food is solid and the restaurant itself is spacious, clean, and comfortable (though populated with way too many intellectual/society types for me). I just don't really see the value in coming here and actually using real money on the food, since you are paying a premium for the local, organic, sustainably farmed, green handled, EPA certified, insert random "green" label here food they use and the location in the heart of Harvard Square inside the Charles Hotel. Not only is this not really my scene, but I think the premium you pay for the food is driven largely by location and proximity to Harvard and its money vortex, and not the quality and freshness of the food. Not seeing the value.

While I certainly appreciate the local, healthy food mindset I don't think what you are getting is worth the premium you are paying versus other options. If it was the best dinner I've ever had in my life, maybe I would reconsider but all in all I don't see this as a place we'll be eating regularly. I'm happy to support more local eateries with better food and better prices. Henrietta can keep her table for herself.