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Another Free Yelp Event

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Remember the last time I talked about a Yelp event? It was in November and husband and I attended a fancy-pants charity event (for free, courtesy of Yelp) and called it our anniversary date.

Side note about Yelp: I’m a Yelp Elite member. This basically means I use yelp a lot (they measure your # of reviews, log-ins, likes, picture uploads, etc.). If you are an Elite member you get invited to all kinds of free yelp events – they have at least one or two per month. It’s hard for me to go because you have to RSVP pretty far in advance, but then you aren’t notified if you’re “on the list” or not until 2 days before the event. This often precludes me from being able to go since I generally have to line up childcare farther in advance than that. But if you don’t have kids and/or your kids are older or you have a last-minute sitter… Yelp events are where it’s at. Lots of fun for free! They spoil us! All you have to do to become elite is join yelp (for free) and start becoming active on the website! Note, this is not a sponsored post in any way, just wanted to explain how I get to do these things for free.

Anyway…..

Have you guys seen these painting classes popping up all over the country? I’ve been wanting to try one for months! Seriously! When I was in Austin over Christmas I was begging my sister to go to one with me, but we just didn’t have enough time to make it work out. I am SO glad that I held out because here we are in March, only a mere 3 months after Christmas time, and I got to do one of the painting classes FOR FREE!!! Score!!!

Typically these classes run about $40/class. They supply a canvas, paints, brushes, related supplies (like aprons, easel), and you show up ready to have a good time!

Since this was a Yelp Elite event, we also had food catered. We enjoyed all kinds of stuff from Rene’s Organic Kitchen (a delicious eatery in Tucson) + drink tickets for drinks. This event also allowed a +1 on the RSVP, so I decided to bring a girlfriend. It meant I got some girl chat time, plus didn’t have to pay a ‘sitter since hubs could stay home with the kiddos.

And…..we had a blast! Here’s what we made. It’s called “Saguaro desert”

 

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An artist, I am not. But I still think I did a pretty decent job. I mean, I’m impressed with how it came out considering my lack of artistic ability.

So here’s my review of the art class in case you have any in your area and have been debating about going….

I had a great time. They did a fabulous job of walking us step-by-step through the painting process so we all came away with a work of art that actually looks pretty impressive! For real, hubs actually hung it on our wall.

One negative side of all the instruction is that there’s barely a break for simple chit chat amongst friends. We really had to be paying attention to get all the steps right. I would have liked it if were a little more laid back with more chances for talking with our friends during the class (not just before/after class). That could be a function of our specific painting (maybe some are easier or have fewer steps?), or maybe just our instructor’s style. The painting took about 60 minutes to complete in total.

Another negative is just the cost! $40 is kind of a lot for a night out if it doesn’t even include any food/beverage (again, we got food/drink since this was a Yelp event, but with typical events you have to pay for the extras).

Do I think it’s worth it? Would I go again?

Well, I would….but it’d have to be a special occasion. This type of event is “too rich for my blood” if its just a simple girls’ night out. But if it were a special occasion (e.g., sister’s birthday, christmas present), I might spring for the cost. It also depends on the place. I know the painting places in Austin are BYOB, which would be significantly cheaper than the studio in Tucson where the prices were $5/beverage (wine or beer).

So lots of “it depends” type responses. In the end, I’m really glad I was able to do this as its something I’d been eyeing for quite awhile. But I’m glad I got to do it for FREE! The bottom line matters these days, and you can’t beat a bottom line of $0!

Have you ever done one of these painting classes? How much did you spend and did you think it was worth the cost?


Cheap Anniversary Date

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Hi friends! Hope you’re having a happy Monday morning!

I didn’t mention it last week, but I was able to reschedule my missed interview for today (at noon, Arizona time), so everyone please keep your fingers and toes crossed for me to do well! I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but the thought of securing a full time position (which would provide excellent health/dental/vision coverage + increase my current salary by almost 50%), is pretty exciting! These things are always so political and there’s never any guarantees (remember my first phone interview that I blogged about – where I thought I nailed it for sure and then just never heard back???), so I’m really trying to calm my nerves and relax a bit so I don’t come across as too eager/excited. But regardless….send good vibes my way!!

This morning I wanted to tell you guys about our cheap anniversary date that we did last month! It’s a little late now (our anniversary was November 6th, and our date was November 13th), but I didn’t want it to just slip through the cracks!

First – can I get an “hallelujah” for a real date night?? We get them every once in awhile (generally when we are visiting family in Texas or someone is here visiting us, so we don’t have to pay for a sitter), but not nearly as often as I would like. It was so fun to get to dress all up and go out sans kiddos and not spend a fortune!

How did we do it?

Well, for us, the most expensive thing is still the babysitter. I only have 1 close “Mommy” friend and I’ve asked a couple times about doing babysitting swaps (a suggestion that I got from you guys!), but she hasn’t seemed at all interested. The girls are still young enough that I don’t feel comfortable leaving them with your typical high school-aged babysitter (once they’re old enough to really speak and articulate what they did with the babysitter I’ll feel better about this option). So if you want high quality care….you end up paying high quality prices. In our case, we ended up paying $14/hour. Tucson (where we live) is a generally cheap area to live, but I’m a member of several Facebook Mom’s groups and this seems to be a typical price for our situation (two toddlers). The average range seems to be from about $10-$15, with more money going toward harder work (younger children, multiple children), and less money for less work (fewer children, older ages).

So that’s the big cost we incurred. We were gone for 3.5 hours, for a total babysitting cost of $49 (we rounded up to $50).

Since we were spending so much on the babysitter, it was imperative we do something for cheap or almost free. And that’s exactly what we did!!!

Is anyone else a member of the Yelp community? I joined after hearing from a work friend that she is considered “Yelp Elite” and telling me about all the cool benefits it included. If you are unfamiliar, Yelp is a website (and a phone app) that allows you to rate your experiences with all kinds of things. Most people tend to use it to rate restaurants, but you can rate it for anything (hair dresser, furniture store, moving services, etc etc etc). I was already a Yelp user – meaning, I would look up reviews for a restaurant before heading there – but after hearing from my friend I actually joined and started writing reviews for places I had visited, too. It didn’t take too long before I earned an “Elite” badge (you get voted on based on your activity with rating places, providing quality reviews, etc.). And then the elite perks started rolling in! Every month Yelp hosts some type of Elite event (some months they’ll do 2). I haven’t been to one in a long, long time because they’re rarely kid-friendly and we can’t just pay a babysitter every time an elite event comes along. Plus, they’re often last-minute events and its difficult to get a last-minute babysitter even if we wanted to go.

But November turned out to be a perfect storm that worked FOR us instead of against us. In November Yelp had paid for a table at a fancy charity event for March of Dimes. Each spot was $75 and I was given a +1 to invite someone with me to the event (that’s $150 value already, totally free!) That aside, March of Dimes is a charity that I really believe in (it funds research for premature babies)! Without going into too much detail, our girls (twins) were born 8 weeks premature and spent a full month in the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit). During that time, I read all about the advancements that had taken place with medicine and technology to allow our girls to survive. If they were born even as few as 20 years ago, our twins would never have survived. To say that I support and appreciate the work March of Dimes has done to expand research, testing, technology, and medicine for premature babies is the understatement of the year. Without them, we literally would not have our children right now. So, yeah. The organization is a big thing for me.

This charity event was all kinds of swanky! It was called the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction, and was being toted as a total “foodie” event. We were pampered and spoiled with all kinds of incredible food, drink, dessert, and good times! They also had a couple of games (with proceeds from the games going to March of Dimes), that were a lot of fun. Husband paid $20 to play a spin-the-wheel type game where we won a nice bottle of wine. But most of the night was spent noshing on incredible food and drink and simply enjoying the experience. I would have liked to have donated more money to the organization, but our finances wouldn’t allow it and I made myself feel better by simply occupying our seats. Even though we didn’t pay the $150 for the event, our seats were paid for by Yelp on our behalf. So we got to enjoy the event for nearly free, and March of Dimes still received their cut of money from our spots.

So, in all, we spent a whopping $70 on our date ($50 babysitter + $20 spin-the-wheel game). And we got to enjoy a glamorous night out at a fancy resort with incredible food and drinks and a fun atmosphere.

This definitely isn’t a sponsored post (I am in no way affiliated with Yelp, nor am I compensated from them in any way for writing this), but I just wanted to tell you all a little about the Elite experience. This month’s experience was a little different from most (most are exclusively for Yelp members, whereas this was a Yelp table purchased at a larger event), but every event I have gone to has been an absolute blast! It’s so easy to download the app and write a quick review whenever you go someplace new. If you have the time or energy, I totally recommend becoming part of the Yelp community (particularly if you have cheap childcare or no kids/older kids so you can go last-minute without having to worry about paying for childcare). It really is a lot of fun!

Are you a member of any community that offers cool perks? We also get lots of fun family-friendly activities to do for free that are sponsored by our local neighborhood’s association and/or the town where we live. At least once a month they do movie in the park, music in the park, or some other type of event. We just went to a holiday tree lighting were we saw all kinds of performances (dance, music), got free hot chocolate and cookies, the girls got to jump in bounce houses for free, and we got to see the epic tree lighting, which was really a whole choreographed thing set to music. It was so much fun!!!


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