Sunday, May 8, 2011

Week 17: Home, Home on the Range

My turn.  The original plan was to spend the afternoon at the Wildlife Safari Park then have dinner at the Lodge Steakhouse at Mahoney State Park.  Our plans changed a little, as they sometimes do, but it was a great day! 

Corbin is quickly outgrowing everything, and it was time to upgrade him from an infant carseat to a convertible one, and since I had a 20% off coupon we decided to stop at Babies R Us on the way to the park to pick up a new carseat for him.  After a quick stop for that and a couple other things for him, we headed to the park. 

The Wildlife Safari Park is a drive through park divided into several sections for various animals.  There is also a place to park where hiking trails take you into the woods to bear and wolf exhibits.  We saw elk, pelicans, cranes, turtles, bison, deer, owls, a bear and several other varieties of wildlife. Although we hiked back to their enclosure, we weren't able to spot any wolves.  The park was much bigger than we'd expected, and we enjoyed the beautiful spring afternoon watching the animals and hiking in the woods.  We did, however, finish much earlier than I'd expected.  Cost for 2 with our Zoo membership was $11 - Corbin's admission was free.

It was only a little after 3 and the Lodge Steakhouse didn't open for dinner until 5.  We had realized there were a couple more things we needed to shop for - Mother's day cards and a sun shade for Corbin's window in the car - so we decided to head back into Omaha for an early dinner and the rest of our shopping.  I had recently read that Jazz had added new menu items and I was craving fried okra, so we headed there, although the sweet potato fries were the only new menu item we ended up trying.  John had scallops Lafayette and I had a shrimp poboy with sweet potato fries.  We shared an order of the okra and Corbin had some cheesy grits that he shared with his dad.  Total was $42 with tax and tip, but I had a $20 for $10 groupon so our cost was $32.   

Current balance of the date night fund is $110.

Week 16: Happy Birthday to Me!

It was John's turn to plan and it was the night before my birthday.  A new restaurant had recently opened in the local outdoor mall, so he took me to give Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers a try and then to pick up my birthday present that he'd ordered online.

Freddy's is a casual, fast-food type place complete with a drive thru.  The menu was pretty simple: burgers, hot dogs and chicken fingers pretty much covered it, and of course, the frozen custard.  We each had a burger combo.  The burgers were good, and a bit unusual in that the edges were very thin and crispy.  The fries were very thin cut and tasted like they were real cut potatoes.  Nothing stood out as spectacular, but it was all good and I'm sure we'll go back sometime.  Cost was about $13 for 2 combo meals.

Once we were finished eating we headed over to Best Buy to pick up my birthday/mother's day present that John had ordered.  I am the proud new owner of a new ipod touch. It was a great present and I'm enjoying it very much.  We then wandered the mall a little and after debating the available dessert options decided to head to Wheatfields where John had his favorite bread pudding and I celebrated my birthday with a big slice of strawberry wedding cake (half of which had to come home with me).  It was scrumptious as usual.  Cost was about $10.  When we were done we headed home to get the little one to bed. 

Strawberry Wedding Cake

Week 15: Quiet time

This week was my turn to plan.  I am, amongst other things, a wedding officiant and had a ceremony to perform this weekend.  Since it was at 4 I decided there was plenty of time for date night afterwards, but since things had been rather hectic for us for awhile and we were going to have a big and busy day on Sunday what I really wanted was a quiet night at home. 

Once my wedding ceremony was taken care of, I stopped at Panera Bread for take-out.  I was having a real hankering for their divine mac and cheese, so I got that and half a sandwich and soup and half a sandwich for John.  We ate together as a family then put the little guy to bed.  Once he was out we started the rest of our date:  2 hours with no technology.  No smart phones, laptops, TVs, iPods, etc. We turned everything off and spent the next 2 1/2 hours giving each other back rubs and talking.  It  was absolutely wonderful and we have decided to implement mandatory tech-free time several times a week.  Total cost was about $25 for dinner.

Week 14: The Annual Birthday Bash

It was John's turn to plan, but we both had a pretty good idea of what we would be doing.  Several of our friends have birthdays in April and every year for several years now they have thrown a joint birthday party. 

In keeping with his decision to try places we've never been before, we started the evening at Lansky's for dinner.  Although we had both heard good things about them, neither of us had ever eaten there.  For those of you who aren't familiar, it is a casual place that serves mostly phillies, pizza and pasta.  John and I each had a philly and we split an order of breaded portabella mushrooms, an order of fries and a trip to the salad bar.  Everything was delicious.  I especially enjoyed my philly after the addition of horseradish sauce and we both agreed that the mushrooms were the best side.  The portions were generous and the prices were very reasonable.  Cost was around $25.

After dinner we headed to the Country Bar where had a beer while visiting with friends and wished the birthday boys and girls the best.  Cost was less than $10.

Week 13 - Just "Wing" it.

It was my week to plan.  John would be spending the day Saturday helping the fire department burn down a house, and since this usually is a pretty physically exhausting day I decided to just wait until he was done and see what he felt up to doing.  It was a beautiful spring day and the little guy and I actually went out and spent the day watching the house burn down. 

Once we got home, got cleaned up and rested a little we started discussing what we wanted to do.  After a very short discussion we agreed to head to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner and a beer.  We sat and relaxed over wings, onion rings, and a beer. It really hit the spot after a long day in the sun.   By the time we were done we were pretty well wiped out, so we called it an early night and headed home.  Cost was around $40 with tax and tip.

Training Burn

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Week 12 - Spontaneous and Free!

This week I had family coming into town unexpectedly - I found out on Wednesday that they would be in late Friday night.  We usually do our date nights on Saturdays - it's just easier that way, so we were thinking we'd probably just skip this week.  But then on Thursday night some friends of ours invited us to join them for dinner on Friday.  We decided to accept their invitation and count it as this week's date night. 

We met our friends Brad and Tabitha and their son Wyatt at Nettie's, a local Mexican restaurant. Neither John or I had been there in years.  I used to think of it as authentic Mexican food, but having since been to Mexico, I'm not sure anyone there would eat the cheddar cheese-covered Nettie's fare, but my American palate still finds it pretty delicious.  We tried the guacamole, which was yummy and had an unexpected kick, but I realized as soon as our entrees arrived why I'd never ordered it before.  The portions are ginormous, I took at least 3/4 of mine home after eating chips with salsa and guacamole beforehand.  John managed to take out most of his, but I think he and Brad were having some sort of contest to see who could eat the most. 

It was a great night catching up with friends, eating yummy food, and discussing our upcoming trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  And since they ended up picking up the check in return for some computer issues John had helped them with, it ended up being free!  (We did dip into the date night fund the next night to take my nephew out for Chinese though.)

Week 11 - Not-so Fine Dining

It was John's turn to plan our date, and he decided he wanted to have dinner somewhere we've never tried before.  After hearing good things from friends, we decided to check out Cedar Creek Steakhouse.  I was very excited when he told me where we were going, I'd been wanting to try it out for some time, but unfortunately we were both in for a pretty big disappointment. If the restaurant was trying to achieve fine dining as the cloth napkins, ambiance and pricy-ish menu suggested, they missed the mark.  They also managed to violate several of my restaurant pet peeves, no matter what kind of establishment. 

First, the server-and several others I observed that night, had long hair that wasn't tied back.  I'm not sure why this is such an issue for me, but it's a biggy.  I think it looks unprofessional and I worry about them running their hair through food without even knowing it.  Other than that, I thought the service was fine.  Not good, not bad, just fine. 

We ordered a garlic cheese bread appetizer ($4.25), John ordered the king cut prime rib (12 oz, $22.50) with a loaded baked potato, and I ordered the chicken fried steak ($11.75) from the "specialties" menu.  Both entrees came with salad and bread. 

I had assumed that our appetizer would come out first, but my second pet peeve of the night was violated and the salads came out.  They were a very uninspiring iceberg mix from a bag, topped with a single cucumber slice, a small chunk of tomato, a quarter slice of green pepper and a few croutons topped with at least twice as much dressing as needed.  There was still a large puddle of dressing in the bottom of my dish when I was finished.

The appetizer came out when we were about half way through with our salads.  It was over-buttered bread topped with melted cheese.  The garlic flavor was subtle, but good, however the texture of the soggy bread was a little off-putting. 

After the salad plates were cleared our dinner was brought out.  John said his prime rib was "OK", but nothing special.  The portion was rather small compared to other restaurants with similar prices.  His loaded baked potato was a plain potato wrapped in foil (yet another pet peeve of mine) with sides of butter and sour cream - again, very unremarkable.  My chicken fried steak on the other had, was the highlight of the meal.  The batter was much lighter than most chicken fried steaks I've had and seasoned deliciously.  The meat was tender and seemed to be of a better quality than the typical pounded round steak.  The portion was generous but not overly huge.  The mashed potatoes and gravy were good, but nothing special. 

Basically, when it came down to it, if the prices had been about 25% less and they were going for a diner feel we would have been satisfied, but we have had much better meals other places for this price range. I don't see us going back any time soon.

We had Corbin with us, and we have finally decided that it's time to find a sitter if we want to have a nice meal together.  He's past the stage where he sits quietly or snoozes in his car seat and just requires too much attention.  He'll still be included in some things, but not the nicer restaurants.

After dinner we went through the Dairy Queen drive through to get a sweet treat to take home with us.  John got a turtle waffle bowl sundae and I got a hot chocolate smoothie.  These were a welcome bit of deliciousness after the somewhat disappointing dinner.  We went home, put the little one to bed and snuggled on the couch watching TV with our ice cream, a great way to end the night!

Total price for dinner and ice cream was about $65 with tax and tip.
The highlight of our evening!

Week 10 - the "plans change" date

This week I had planned what I thought would be a pretty fun date for the hubby, the little guy and I.  However, when my husband reminded me mid-week that he would be participating in some controlled burning (he's a volunteer firefighter/EMT) that day, I realized he may be too tired for what I had planned, so I decided to scale it back a little.  Then the night before date night I had dinner with a friend and she offered to babysit the munchkin so we could have a night out without the bambino.  So I changed my plans again.  Then, just before we left, I came up with yet another plan. 

So we dropped the kiddo off with my friend and headed to Outback Steakhouse. This is one of my husband's favorite restaurants, and he hadn't been in quite some time, so I thought he'd really enjoy it, and we did.  We had a pretty great dinner and it was nice to be able to eat and talk without having to tend to the baby.  John had his favorite, prime rib - Outback style, and I had a small filet (which I noticed when reading the menu had gotten even smaller since the last time we'd eaten there) and we also split an order of the coconut shrimp.  It was way too much food and John ended up having some of it for breakfast the next morning. 

When we were done with dinner we went to Best Buy.  There were some things John had been wanting to look for, and he had a gift card from Christmas to spend, so we wandered the store looking at giant TVs and digital cameras and smart phones and laptops and so on and so forth, picked up a few small things, and decided to call it a night.

Dinner was around $50 with tax and tip.   

Monday, March 21, 2011

Week 9 - The Deja Vu Date

This week we revisited our former standard date night.  It was bound to happen sooner or later.  It was John's turn to plan, but in his defense I was the one who suggested it. You see, I had recently been having a serious hankering for China Road, and we still live in a 110+ year old house that still needs things from the hardware store all the time.  So we slipped easily back into our old ways for one night.

We started our dinner, as always, with an order of crab rangoon.  These have been a favorite food of mine since the first time I had them, but I've never eaten them anywhere that come close to as good as China Road's. For dinner, favorite dish at CR is the kung pao beef, but I'm still nursing and Corbin isn't a big fan, so I went for my second favorite - cashew chicken, extra mushrooms.  John had the chef's sizzling hot plate.  As usual the food did not disappoint, the service was wonderful, and since we had the little guy with us several of the servers stopped to see him and catch up with us.  I love this challenge and the places we've been going, but I sure do miss having CR more often. 

Cashew Chicken, extra mushrooms

Chef's Sizzling Hot Plate

After dinner we headed to Lowe's.  As I've said before, our house is over 110 years old.  In that time it has been subjected to several additions and some really shoddy renovations, so something always needs fixed.  This trip was to price the cost of some ceiling fan replacement parts.  The fan in our bedroom is circa 1980.  Some time ago one of the blades broke off.  This left it unbalanced and therefore unusable, so as a quick fix John broke off the opposite one.  A two blade fan wasn't as effective as a four blade fan, but at least it was a fan.  Then a third blade broke off.  John found it impossible to sleep without the fan going, so in desperation he took a blade off the dining room fan and put it on the bedroom fan.  So now the bedroom fan half worked and the dining room fan didn't work at all (unless we were to take another blade off it).  It was really quite a sad situation.  During one of her visits my dear Mother-in-law took one look at the pathetic fan hanging in our bedroom and took us to the store for a new one.  Since we were planning on replacing the hideous paneling on the bedroom ceiling with drywall, we decided to wait to install the new fan until the drywall project was done.  Well, it's been some time now, and the old bedroom fan is still there, half working, and the dining room fan is still short a blade.  With the warmer weather approaching I'd like to get all of the fans in good working order, so we found ourselves looking at blades and blade arms in the fan and lighting aisle at Lowe's.  We decided to just go ahead and install the new fan. Hopefully we will be able to get that done in the near future.  I'm sure this is more information than you ever wanted to know about the ceiling fan situation in our house, but I just thought you should know how desperate we were when we spent yet another date night at the home improvement store. 

The 2-bladed bedroom ceiling fan. 
   Again, I've lost track of the total cost for dinner, but it was somewhere around $40 including tax and tip - and we have a tendency to tip a little more excessively at CR.

Week 8 - Triple Date

This week John, Corbin and I invited our friends Jarrod, Jen and their daughter Kinley to meet us at Round The Bend Steakhouse for dinner.  They live in Lincoln so we thought it would make a great halfway meeting point.  I have joked since before they were born that Corbin and Kinley will have an arranged marriage, allowing her parents and us to skip the whole dating thing, so this was their official first date. 

John had a prime rib dinner - one of their specialties, the other being various animals' testicles - and I had a steak and shrimp dinner.  Both meals came with a salad, a potato (we both had baked) and dinner rolls.  The food was good, not great, but good.  For the price we could have gone somewhere else and had much better, but the company made it more than worth it. 

We had a wonderful time catching up with our friends and the babies were both well behaved, so all in all I'd call it a pretty successful night. 

Unfortunately I haven't been able to keep my posts up to date as often as I had hoped, and now since it's been so long I don't remember the exact total, but including tax and tip it was somewhere between $40 and $50. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Week 7 - "That there Clark is an RV"

This weekend was the annual Omaha Boat, Sports and Travel show.  We've enjoyed going to this the last few years and really enjoy looking at all of the RVs.  We were, for a short time, proud owners of a mid-80's motor home, but we decided it was a little more than what we needed or wanted, so we sold it.  Since then we have talked on and off about buying a smaller bumper-hitch trailer, but until we get serious about it we love to go look at all of the various options available.
So early that afternoon we headed down to the Qwest Center to see what this year's offerings were.  We decided to keep the bambino with us, so I strapped him into the Snuggli facing out so he could see the campers too.  It was pretty cold out that day and very drafty in the Qwest, so I left his raccoon hat on.  Apparently people can't resist a dimpled baby with a raccoon hat, so we chatted with lots of strangers that afternoon.  We even had one of the camper salesmen ask if he could take a picture of him.  My husband, always the haggler, allowed the guy to snap a picture of the baby in return for a business card and promise of a great price when we're ready to buy.  It was an enjoyable afternoon and we got more ideas for what we are going to be looking for when we ever decide to take the plunge.
After we had checked out the RVs, gone back and double checked the ones we had liked, and wandered through the rest of the show's offerings we'd built up quite the appetite.  Hubby hadn't made any particular dinner plans as part of the date (it was his turn to plan), so we picked something on the fly.  We ended up choosing Wheatfields where John got his favorite french dip and I gave the house special fried chicken a try.  Everything was yummy but I had to get a to-go box for most of my meal so I could save room for dessert.  After bread pudding and strawberry wedding cake (most of which also came home in a to-go box), we were ready to call it a night.

Parking                 $8
Show Tickets        $18
Lemonade             $3
Dinner                   $43
Total                     $72

Previous balance $122 - $50 weekly - $72 = $150 current balance

Week 6 - "Free Hockey"

This week was supposed to be another try at the date we both planned, but late in the week my best friend Steph called and asked if we'd like tickets to the Omaha Lancers v. Lincoln Stars hockey game.  She also mentioned that there would be $1 beer, soda and hot dogs before the game and that she even had a babysitter (her mom) lined up for the little guy.  How could we say no? 
So we dropped the little man off with his "Aunt Donita" and headed up to the Omaha civic center.  Dinner consisted of pre-game hot dogs and beer - which is a rare treat for me since I'm still nursing.  We enjoyed the game (or at least what we saw of it), but were disappointed that the refs broke up all the fights before they had a chance to get good.  We also enjoyed catching up with friends and people watching.  Unfortunately, with the little amount of sleep we've been getting lately, we couldn't make it to the end of the game.  We left after the second period and headed home.

It was a fun night, relatively cheap, though not as cheap as it could have been, and it was nice to be able to enjoy a couple beers in the company of good friends.

Parking:          $6
4 beers:          $4
4 Hot dogs:    $4
Pretzel, water
& soda           $12
tips                 $2

Total:              $32

Previous balance: $104 + $50 weekly - $32 = $122 current balance

Enjoying the game!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week 5 - The Date That Broke the Bank

Veggie Pizza

Manhattan Pizza
 This week was John's turn to plan.  On Monday we met for lunch and he told me what his plan was.  I immediately started laughing because it was exactly what I had planned for my next turn.  When he asked why I was laughing and I told him, he decided to let me have it and plan something else.  I'll let you know what it was when we actually get to do it.  So that left him to come up with something else for us to do.  It was Valentine's weekend, so he decided that dinner would probably be a long wait or hassle and decided on a lunch/afternoon date. 

Our date started at the Apple Store.  John had been thinking about getting a Mac laptop for some time and wanted to go check them out.  He also thought I might enjoy having an iPad and wanted me to try one out for size.  I won't bore you with all of the gory details, but let's just say that a MacBook Air, an iPad and a few accessories later, Mr. Visa was moaning our names in ecstacy.

By then it was late afternoon and we were pretty hungry so we headed to Sam & Louie's Pizza in Gretna.  We had planned on using a Living Social $20 for $10 that I had purchased, but when we got there we found out they were having an anniversary special - 1/2 price on all pizza and draft beer - but you couldn't combine with the discount certificate.  We decided to take advantage of the special and save the certificate for another visit.  The pizza was delicious - I got a small veggie and John got the Manhantan with alfredo, meatballs and Canadian bacon.  The service, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired. 
After fueling up for more shopping we headed to the outlet stores.  I was in the market for some new jeans, which I found and got an amazing deal on at the Van Heusen store.  We also got a few items at Osh Kosh and Carter's for the little guy, including some swim trunks for his swimming lessons that start next month.  Then it was home for family nap time.  We are so wild and crazy!

Although this was another riff on our standard dinner/shopping date, it was, at least, different shopping. 

Date night fund: $84 + $50 weekly contribution - $30 for pizza = $104 current balance

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Week 4 - Who has time to date?

John, Corbin and I did some traveling this past weekend, so there was no official "date".  He's a quick recap of our weekend:

Friday afternoon we loaded up the car, picked up the little guy from daycare and headed south.  We were headed for John's mom's house in Fulton, MO.  It is normally about a 5 hour drive from our house and this was Corbin's longest car trip so far.  It took us a little longer than usual, but Corbin was a trooper and did awesome.  We stopped a little over half way there at a random Wal-mart, got him out of the carseat (and into dry pants) for awhile, but other than that he snoozed or played quietly with his toys the whole way.

While in Fulton we got to spend time with John's mom, sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew.  We also went to O'Fallon, MO on Saturday to attend the 3rd birthday party of a cool little man who happens to belong to some great friends of ours.  It was a great time and we got to catch up with some of our St. Louis friends. 

Saturday night we had dinner at a restaurant called "Stephanina's" in Wentzville, MO with John's family.  Since we weren't going to be able to squeeze a date in, we decided to pay for our dinner from our date night fund.  It's still John's turn to plan the next one, and I look forward to seeing what he's come up with.

Date night fund:
previous balance          $ 81.00
weekly contribution         50.00
Saturday dinner            - 31.00
GC purchases              - 16.00  (groupon, etc. deals for future dates)
Balance                          84.00

Corbin and Cousin Kate

Me having a beer with the girls....

.....while the boys catch a quick power nap.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Week 3 - Surf n Turf

I've started a spreadsheet of date ideas.  Unfortunately many of the things I've come up with require much warmer weather than what we are experiencing in Nebraska right now.  So after pouring over my list and several online suggestions, I decided to do a date night in.  Although it was incredibly enjoyable and relaxing, it didn't end up being nearly as cheap as I had hoped.  Definitely cheaper than dinner and a movie out though.

I arranged for a babysitter (Thanks Christy! I hope you let me return the favor one night), planned a dinner I knew we'd both enjoy, and loaded up the "watch instantly" netflix queue with plenty of movies.  I wanted to keep dinner pretty simple so I wouldn't spend the whole night cooking, but I also wanted it to be nice enough that it didn't feel like "the same ol' same old".  I settled on spinach and strawberry salad with feta, walnuts and strawberry balsamic vinaigrette, maple glazed salmon, a broiled New York strip for John, roasted potatoes, garlic bread and brownies for dessert.  I made the salad, vinaigrette and brownies ahead of time and the bread was store-bought, so once the peanut was at the sitter's it took me about 45 minutes.  The salmon baked while the potatoes roasted and the steak broiled while I got the table and plates ready.  

After dinner we snuggled in on the couch to watch "Ghostbusters 2" and had nice, quiet romantic cuddle time.  Although we enjoyed every minute of it, we did miss the little guy - it was VERY weird to be home and not have him with us - and we are so used to going to bed early these days that we called an end to our "date" at about 9:00 and I went to pick him up. 

Cost-wise, I spent about $27.00 at the grocery store for things I didn't have on hand.  The balance was $58, I added this week's $50 for a total of $108, minus the $27 for groceries and the current balance of the date fund is $81.00

Next weekend we are traveling out of town to visit some family and friends, so I'm not sure if we will be able to squeeze in a date or not.  I'll keep ya'll posted.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

Broiled NY Strip, Maple Glazed Salmon and Roasted Potatoes

Dinner for 2

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dates 1 & 2

Although neither of our first attempts were award-winning, we were able to break our normal pattern, at least a little. . . .

When I gave my husband the option of either going first or second, he of course chose second.  It left me with only a couple days to come up with something, so I decided to start small.  Instead of our typical dinner out at one of our regular restaurants followed by a trip to the home improvement store I decided to go for an afternoon of window shopping for furniture followed by an early dinner somewhere we don't normally go.  This allowed for a little shift from the norm and I wouldn't need to find a sitter, we could just take the munchkin along with us.

After a run to the bank to put some stuff in a safe deposit box we started the date at Nebraska Furniture Mart.  I don't know if it's like that every Saturday or not, but it was INSANE busy there.  We checked out some laptops, desks, sofas and beds.  By that time we were getting tired of the crowds, so we headed down the road to Furniture Row Outlet.  This was much more pleasant.  We checked out some living room furniture and found a sofa and chairs we really like - now we just have to save up the money.  Next it was to the Select Comfort store to check out sleep number beds.  We're still on the fence about those. 

For dinner I chose Granite City.  I was playing it a little safe.  We'd been there before so I knew we'd like the food and it would be ok to take junior in with us.  I ordered way more food than I could eat, but it was all delicious, and as usual the baby was on his best behavior (other than a rather messy trip to the restroom, but that's what babies do).  I honestly don't remember what John ate, I hadn't thought up this blog idea yet, so I didn't pay much attention. I had a portabella mushroom sandwich, a side of mac and cheese that was on a specials menu, a salad and an iced tea.

Total cost:  $40 for dinner - 1 salad, 2 meals, 1 extra side, 1 iced tea, tax and tip.

Next up was hubby's turn.  He decided to switch things up a bit and arranged for a baby sitter on Thursday night.  He then took me to Jazz-A Louisiana Kitchen for dinner.  Another safe choice, we love Jazz, but we really don't go there very often so it was very enjoyable and delicious.  There was live music, which made it even better.  By the time we were done eating we realized why we don't go out on weeknights - at least not now, with a small baby at home.  We were both stifling yawns, but we were determined to enjoy our kid-free time.  We decided to spend a little more time at Jazz and splurge on dessert, then went to the bookstore to browse - one of my favorite things to do. We also stopped and picked up some things at the pet store.  By then we were pretty much beat so we headed to the sitter's to pick up the little one and called it a night. 

We had an order of fried okra for an appetizer.  I had the shrimp po'boy.  It usually comes with either Cajun coleslaw or sweet potato salad and a couple hush puppies. I'm not a fan of the sweet potato salad and my nursing baby isn't a fan of coleslaw, so the I asked for a few extra hush puppies instead.  For dessert I ordered a gourmet turtle chocolate cake, but they were out so I "settled" for strawberry cheesecake.  John had scallops Lafayette - scallops in a cheesy cream sauce served with a scoop of dirty rice in the middle and bread pudding for dessert.  Everything was delicious!

Total cost:  $50 for dinner - 1 appetizer, 2 meals, 2 desserts, 1 iced tea, tax and tip. Minus $10 in groupon savings = actual cost of $40

Shrimp po'boy and hush puppies at Jazz
On a side note, each date came in $10 under budget but we used some of that extra for drinks at a function we attended, so the current date night fund is $58.  My plans for this weekend should come in well under that, but you'll have to come back next week to see for sure.


What a typical weekend evening sounded like in our house a few weeks ago:

Spouse 1:  What do you want to do tonight?
Spouse 2:  I don't know, what do you want to do?
Spouse 1:  I don't care.  Are you hungry? 
Spouse 2:  I could eat.  What are you hungry for?
Spouse 1:  I don't care.  What do you want?
Spouse 2:  How bout Chinese?
Spouse 1:  No, Chinese doesn't sound good.
Spouse 2:  Ok, what does sound good?
Spouse 1:  I don't care, anything but Chinese.

Add nauseum.....

Long before we were married my husband and I decided we would commit ourselves to a weekly date night.  We would go to dinner, movies, concerts, occasionally theater.  But as time went by and as our family expanded to include our son, our date nights became incredibly predictable.  We'd go to dinner - usually at China Road, Red Robin or Outback - and head to one of the local home improvement stores to shop for items on the never ending list you have when you own a 111 year old home.  It had become so routine that we often didn't even discuss what we'd do beyond which restaurant we would eat at.  That changed (at least a little so far) a couple of weeks ago.  I read an article about the importance of date nights in a relationship. It emphasized not falling into a dinner/movie routine (or in our case a dinner/Lowe's routine) and trying to keep things new and exciting.  It suggested taking turns planning the dates and making a sort of contest out of it.  I thought it was just what our date nights needed and approached Mr. M about it.

Much to my surprise he was very enthusiastic about it.  He even upped the ante, so to speak.  Our family budget includes $50 a week for date night - what doesn't get used one week stays in the fund, so if we go cheap one week we can splurge another.  Mr. M suggested that the contest not only be for the best date, but the cheapest.  I have accepted his challenge, which brings us here. 

The rules are simple.  Each week we take turns planning a date.  Whoever's turn it is is responsible for all details, including securing a babysitter if needed.  At the end of the year we will pick a winner.  I created this blog to keep a chronicle of our dates, so we can go back and review.  And in case we can't pick a winner amongst ourselves, I wanted ya'll to be able to vote on your favorites too (assuming anyone reads this).

Please bear with me.  I am new to this blogging thing and just figuring it out.  As I get a little better at it (and find time - a hot commodity when you have a 4 month old) I will pretty it up a little.  I'll do my best to post our weekly dates a day or two after they happen, again, time permitting.  Check out my next post to see a short recap of our first 2 dates.  Now that I know I'll be blogging about them, I'll make sure to get better details to share.