Recession Weekend

Like most families, we are trying to watch our budget very closely these days while still enjoying some of our favorite activites.  This past weekend we hit the motherload and enjoyed some great activities on the cheap.

Friday night we tried BRAVO! in Eton for dinner¬†care of a gift certificate I won from the¬†MIT Mommy blog in the Plain Dealer.¬† We usually choose local, independent restaurants over chains so had never tried BRAVO! before. Since we¬†were on someone else’s dime we went all out starting with the calamari which were¬†crisp and light¬†– we even got M to try it – and ending with the yummy dessert trio.¬† Dinner was very good, my scallops were a¬†touch overdone but overall it was a satisfying meal.¬† It was a much more posh place then we usually take M but they were very child-friendly with crayons, a patient wait staff and nice kids menu.¬† I could see us trying it again for¬†a weekend lunch from their pizza oven.¬† Dinner out (a favorite weekly ritual): about $15 after tax and tip.

Saturday we had planned to attend the Rock-n-Tot/Synergy but the event was cancelled due to low ticket sales – a huge bummer as we had so much fun at the last one.¬† I can only hope that Naomi tries once more to get these events off the ground as I think they are a great time.¬† I managed to fill the day by checking out a new(ish) salon and getting a “saucy” new cut.¬† I love my cut, like the salon and really liked that I had a big fat coupon for it from my employers discount site.¬† And, I love that it was in my ‘hood – support local! The returned money on the event tickets just about paid for my discounted cut.¬† Bonus!

She bangs!

Luckily for Saturday night we got a last-minute offer of comped tickets to see the Cavs play the Heat and were off scrambling to find a sitter.¬† My boss has a teenaged daughter, E,¬†who is trying to get into the babysitting game and since our regular sitters were MIA we took her up on the offer of having M come to their house for the evening (that way if something happened with E, my boss would be there to pick up the slack).¬† The downside is they live way the hell on the far westside of town.¬† The upside is that since¬†E is young and didn’t come to our house, she charged a heck of a lot less then what we normally pay.¬† M had a FANTASTIC time and Mark and I got to snuggle in the seats see the Cavs trounce the Heat for free.¬† Cost: about $30 in babysitting fees + a few bucks spent on concessions & parking at the game.

Cavs Pregame

All in all it was a terrific weekend, relatively cheap.  Normally we would never have a date night and a fancy dinner night in the same weekend, but due to some luck we were able to enjoy what Cleveland has to offer at a bargain.

Photo Essay

Ever since M spent the weekend with my sister last month she has been¬†OBSESSED¬†with princesses, specifically Ariel from The Little Mermaid. ¬†Whenever we play, I am “Mama Princess Daisy” (apparently from Wii Mario Kart), she is “M Princess Ariel” and Mark is “Prince Eric”. ¬†She is also getting way into dress up and¬†imaginative¬†play, which is a lot of fun. ¬†This weekend she started talking to “bobby” – maybe it’s the start of an imaginary friend?

Princess Maggie Ariel

Princess bathrobe and purse from my Aunt.  Sunglasses from the sister noted above.  Necklace from my collection.

I also mentioned before that the box that our new dishwasher came in has become quite the plaything. We cut a door, windows and a couple of peep-holes in the sides and let M have at it with stickers and crayons. ¬†I sewed up a quick set of¬†curtains¬†for the window and that box has been the most played with toy in the house for the last two weeks. ¬†It’s been a house, a cave and a rocket; turned on it’s side it becomes a robot costume (I don’t get it either but, I go with it) and turned¬†upside-down¬†it’s a pool.

Playdate & M in the box

M & a playdate in the box house

Snacktime in the box

Note the Little Mermaid stickers – a “must purchase” during a trip to JoAnn Fabric to avoid a meltdown over the refusal to buy a $12 humungous sew-on patch of Ariel. ¬†$2 for the stickers seemed like a¬†bargain.

We also were gifted a hand-me-down easel which over the last few days has become the center of attention.  A chalkboard on one side and place for paper and paint on the other, it is a great way to keep her busy for a long stretch of time.  And watching M perfect her two-paintbrush at a time technique has her artist-daddy proud.Painting

Finally, I realized the other day that the awesome Hanna Anderson outfit my mom got M last January is still going strong after a year of heavy use. ¬†This is the third Hanna that has gone through the rotation in this house and has held up for over a year. ¬†Their stuff is pricey but it wears like iron and is made so that it grows with the child. ¬†I’m all over the next semi-annual sale!

Cousin & M Jan 2008

M & her cousin in January 2008

Hanna Feb 2009

The same outfit, February 2009