Groupon, groupoff: On becoming a travel discount master (mistress?)

We leave for London in a week! A week! Don't know whether to get really excited or to throw up about leaving my babies. It maybe kind of helps that little Loki has been a lot like this lately:

adorable but also dangerous and maybe slightly deranged

When I started dreaming about this trip, I signed up to receive notifications of London and Liverpool deals through Groupon.co.uk, Livingsocial, and Wowcher. And then my inbox exploded so full of offers for afternoon teas and Brazilian waxes that it was insane. Also alcohol. Sooooo very much of alcohol.

But it was worth it, because I have scored some really great deals for things. I did have to use some self-control, though. It would have been easy to buy a ton and then basically have our entire schedule dictated by needing to use up the Groupons we'd paid for. So I really only chose things that were actually on our list. I also spent a lot of time on Yelp and Tripadvisor to make sure that the restaurant/experience/whatever was worth choosing.

I installed the Ebates button into my browsers so it could remind me when I'm on a site where I can get cash back. (For example, 6% back at Livingsocial.) So that happened too. And here's what I've got so far!

Groupon for London Fish & Chips in Covent Garden (yes, it looks like a weirdo chain but actually has great reviews)

This wasn't actually on my list, because I didn't know about it. But it looks fun.
Groupon for the Liverpool Big Wheel

Groupon for an afternoon tea.

I've never done the tea thing, but decided that a civilized afternoon tea in London is a thing I probably should do in my life. Also it's pretty much my birthday. So there. I spent, no lie, at least a month researching afternoon teas and checking out every Groupon/Livingsocial/Wowcher/whatever that came my way. I agonized. Agonized, I tell you. My salvation finally came through Christin, a lovely blog reader living in London (lucky!) who was also looking into afternoon teas. She sent me a link for the Wellington Afternoon Tea at the Wellington Lounge in the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel and the heavens opened and I may have started sweating. 

You guys. This tea. Go read about it right now I am not even kidding. 

And while I enjoy my afternoon tea, I can think about the part where I am sitting exactly on the site of Queen Elizabeth's childhood home, where she lived with Colin Firth until they moved into Buckingham Palace. Which turned out to be a good thing, since the house was destroyed during the Blitz of London. So, um, I guess thanks for that, Wallis Simpson?

Colin Firth not shown.

Except yay, there he is!!
Seriously. If this thing turns out to be a disappointment, I may level the building a second time.

Picture: Tolga Akmen/REX
2 for 1 Tower of London entry. (Why thank you, 2for1 London.) The red ceramic poppies filling the moat are a special installation to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WWI. Each poppy represents a British military fatality, and there will eventually be almost 900,000 poppies covering the moat.

image source Porters Restaurant

2 for 1 dinner at Porter's English Restaurant in Covent Garden. I'm leaning toward the chicken, mushroom, and bacon pie myself.

image source Porters Restaurant

And a dessert. Because culture.

2 for 1 Thames sightseeing cruises

Discounted Beatles London Walking Tour (You'll never guess who needs to see every single Beatles site in London. But I found the tour and the discount because I am awesome.)

Discounted tickets to see Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense. But before we get too excited, is Matthew Macfadyen still playing Jeeves? Answer:

But that's ok. It will still be delightful.

And then there are the things I'm just going to have to suck it up and pay full price for:

Matilda the Musical

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

The private taxi Beatles tour of Liverpool

Warner Brothers "Making of Harry Potter" Studio Tour

All the foods at Borough Market. (Pssst. Click on this link, but don't let the people around you hear the sounds you are about to make.)

And of course we are going to hit museums and the British Library and walk all over the place, but do any of you have some spots we should consider? Tell me now before I miss out and hate myself forever!


Dinosaur Train Swag Giveaway Winner

Any guesses on which one secretly wants to eat the other one?
TM and © The Jim Henson Company. All Rights Reserved

Remember that one time when my local PBS station emailed me and I geeked out like a fangirl? And we had a giveaway? Yeah. Me too.

Aaaaaaaaand according to Mr. Random Number Generator, the winner of the Dinosaur Train goodies giveaway is . . . Amber!

amber said...
Loooove Dinosaur Train. All three of my kids would adore those goodies.
Liked on facebook x 3!

Yay for Amber! Please drop me an email so I can arrange to get this stuff to you. 

Sadly, I didn't make it to the zoo this morning for the supercool event because I didn't get home from the Paul McCartney concert until 2am. Am getting to old for this [stuff], I tell you. Too old. It was a fun night, though!


PBS Kids Giveaway and Dinosaur Train at Hogle Zoo!

Behold, my very first giveaway, and it's to do with public television! That's all the warm feelings, right there.

You all know how much I love me some Sumptuous Literary Adaptations, and PBS is basically my SLA dealer. It brings good things to my life, like Sherlock. It's what I watch when I'm up in the night feeding babies (Downton Abbey Season 1 with the Tiny Dark Lord, The Paradise Season 1 with Loki). Did you know they even have apps that let you watch stuff? Best. Ever. 

And then I learned about PBS Kids, which is basically how the Tiny Dark Lord coped with me ruining his life (ie., creating a sibling). During those rough first weeks months after Loki arrived he just wanted to watch Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, over and over and over again.

proof of the Daniel Tiger love

TDL goes through phases now of loving Daniel TigerCurious George, Dinosaur Train, and Peg + Cat. I must say the Peg + Cat is my least favorite. Yes, it helped him learn to count by twos and stuff, but it also taught him to say things like, "OMG" and "I am toootally fuh-reaking out!!" Anyone else out there feeling me on that one?

Dinosaur Train, though, I really like. (Alternate title: "Hey, grownups. Everything you learned about dinosaurs as a kid is wrong, neener!")

Now we come to the point. This Friday, August 8th, KUED Kids (the local PBS Kids affiliate) will be at the Hogle Zoo for a "Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic" event from 10:00am to 1:00pm. There will be hands-on activities and crafts, obstacle courses, educational goodies to take home, a mobile educational lab where you can try the new Dinosaur Train app, and a sneak peak of the new Dinosaur Train Classic in the Jurassic special (airing on August 18th). So if Hogle Zoo is still on your Summer Bucket List (or if you're looking for an excuse to go back) this would be a great day!

If you print this ad from their website you can get $1 off your Hogle Zoo entrance fees. Or you could stop by a Les Schwab Tire Center and grab a couple of their Hogle Zoo "Buy 1 Adult Ticket, get a Kid Ticket Free" coupons.

So, here's where the giveaway comes in. The good people at KUED are sending me a box of goodies to give to some lucky blog reader!

We've got books, pencils, stickers, a photo holder, and temporary tattoos! Your dinosaur fan will approve. And then will want to rush out and get a real tattoo because apparently that is what temporary tattoos do. Or something. To enter the giveaway, go ahead and leave a comment by 11:59 pm MST on Thursday August 7th. I'll randomly select one winner and announce it here on Friday (and I'll get in touch with you if you include your contact email in your entry).

For extra entries, here are a few other fun and personally fulfilling things you can do. You get one extra entry for each thing, just leave a comment telling me what you did!

Like KUED Kids on Facebook
Like KUED on Facebook (because hi, everyone should)
Like Hogle Zoo on Facebook
Share this giveaway on Facebook

On Thursday night we are seeing the Paul McCartney concert in SLC, so it's going to be a late night. If I can drag my sleepy carcass back down to Salt Lake on Friday morning I might see you at the zoo!

TM and © The Jim Henson Company. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: KUED Kids contacted me about this event and offered goodies to give away, plus a couple of extra stickers for the Tiny Dark Lord.


Baby Bear knits and also items for sport

Have been doing a bit of knitting for the two nephews I have coming. Both my brothers and their wives are expecting boys--one in August and one in September. I found a cute newborn bear hat pattern and decided that these Alaska babies need this in their lives.
This one is for the Alaska baby who will live in Utah. It's a washable blend and turned out super tiny. I warned Coolboy and Aubrey that they might need to stick it on him as soon as possible--perhaps while he is crowning--if they want to get any use out of it.

Baby Bear Hat (free download)
 Check out how tiny it is on this 3-month-old:

A sweet nephew on GH's side

 I just enough yarn left over to make these to go along with the hat:

Baby Mitts by Susan B. Anderson

I knit this next one in some leftover Patons Classic Wool and made it a larger 3-6ish month size, as it's going to the baby who does live in Alaska and will probably need hats year-round.

Baby Bear Hat by Gilda Knits (free on Ravelry)
The stars aligned enough for me to get to see my former domestic partner, even Amyjane, during her recent family vacation to Utah. And of course the first words out of my mouth were, "I need to put a hat on your baby and take a picture." Baby Jensen was a delightful model, even if he's too big for the hat.

I want to eat his arms and legs so much

Baby knits really are the best. They are so fast to make and the recipients lack the coordination or language skills to refuse them or yank them off. Win win! Cannot wait to see the two little heirs in them.

I also finally finished a project I'd promised a friend. You may not be able to tell from the way my assistant is modeling them, but they are golf club covers in University of Miami colors. Go Cranes Canes! (For that is what Internet tells me I should say.)

Golf Cover Clubs with Initials by Lion Brand Yarns (free pattern)

And now it's time to knit a few things for moi. Here's what I have in mind:

Spring Beret (free pattern) by Natalie Larson.
Image by Ravelry user chikka.
And this:

$5 in Paris (free pattern) by Anna Maliszewski.
Image by Ravelry user Caudagali


And so it begins (alternate title: Canning like a sister wife)

Seven years ago I posited these questions after a Relief Society lesson that was possibly titled "Jesus Wants us to Can Peaches."

Also? What's up with canning and all that? Why should we do it? If I already have a year's supply of peaches from Costco then shouldn't I be good? Why on this sweet earth should I spend a Saturday up to my elbows in sticky nastiness just to give myself botulism? I mean, if you like to do those things and you like knowing where your food comes from and it gives you a feeling of satisfaction, then that's wonderful and I say more power to you. But what if you just don't care?

And now I am totally that person turning my kitchen into a sauna and giving myself botulism. Not because I thinks Jesus wants me to, but because I actually do get a kick out of it. What can I say? Maybe it's living in a pioneer house that makes me want to do pioneer things (except not polygamy). And somehow stacking up my bottles of food up in the shelves makes me think cozy Lara Ingalls Wilder-y thoughts about how our winter shall be plentiful and safe and there will be no twisting of hay to create fuel. (And then yesterday I find a stash of 20 bottles of canned peaches from 2012 that I'd forgotten about and think, "Aw, crap." I may just give up on peaches. Clearly I am not getting through them.)

This year I actually grew real beets instead of shriveled acorns. So this was my first attempt at pickled beets. Am very hopeful that this will be good. These won't have high fructose corn syrup in them like the ones I usually get at the grocery store, so that will at least be an improvement, right?

The beets also did me the favor of making me think I was dying when I went to the bathroom and everything was pink. Thanks for that, beets. Nothing like a colon cancer scare as a reward for eating superfoods.

I've also done a big jar of 10 Minute Refrigerator Dill Pickles, which are delicious even if everyone else in my family prefers Western Family pickles like losers. Once I turned my kitchen into a steam-room with the beets I figured I might as well embrace being a sweaty stinky sticky mess and do some pickles too. I did the Hamburger Dill Pickles recipe from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving--this lovely blogger has included it here if anyone is interested.

Possible future projects include:

Dill pickle relish
Zucchini relish (also from the Ball Blue Book)
Plum jam if my trees produce
Canned pears if the 8 million baby pears on my tree turn out to be worth dealing with

That's where we are, expect updates whether you want them or not. But while we are talking updates, check out this progress on the Operation Best Friends (Because Maybe if I Say It Enough Times It Will Be True) front.

Behold: The Dark Lord consented to sit in a cart with Loki. Cannot overstate the big deal that this is.

Usually TDL does his best to stay well out of arm's reach of little Loki, and he may have a point. 

Progress, friends. Progress. 


If a garden grows unblogged . . .

Was chatting with Desmama last weekend (because I get to do that, neener) and she asked if I planted a garden. She said she didn't know since I hadn't blogged about it. SO. Fixing that now!

I did plant a garden, and it's actually growing! Maybe there is something to that whole "not gardening while pregnant" thing. (Sorry, pioneers. I realize you didn't actually have a choice--with regards to gardening or pregnancy.) I'm determined that this year my little spot is not going to be the neglected, overgrown, probably-concealing-plumbing-equipment-somewhere-in-there plot.

But yes, check it out!

spaghetti squash, beets, buttercrunch lettuce, rainbow carrots, and tomatoes
The spaghetti squash is trying to take over the world, Pinky & the Brain-style. And this year I'm actually getting beets bigger than an acorn! The people at Anderson's Seed & Garden told me to work bone meal into the soil at planting time, and I've actually been thinning them like you're supposed to. I'm experimenting with replanting the thinned beets over by the green beans and some of them actually seem like they might recover.

peppers & petunias
I was gifted a big flat of little petunia seedlings and read that they are good for gardens. So I've thrown some in and if nothing else they are pretty. 

more carrots, green beans, sugar snap peas

pickling cucumber & dill
 Check it out! The dill came up this year! I shall be a pickling goddess!

butternut squash, zucchini, yellow squash

baby pumpkins, sugar pie pumpkins, corn

cantaloupe, trying to not get smothered
I'm going to be scientific and keep a tally this year of how many zucchini I get from my two plants. I'm up to 7, starting last week. Need to start making friends with my Zucchini board on Pinterest. I was out weeding a few days ago when my neighbor (GH's great aunt) called out to see if I had any zucchini yet.

Me, while standing up: "Yep, just got 4 yesterday!"

Great-aunt: "Oh, that's too bad."

I turned around to see that she had her arms full of them. To be helpful, I took two and made Whole Wheat Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Bread. Because I'm a giver. I baked it in my mother-in-law's oven so I wouldn't have to heat my kitchen up. This has actually helped me to eat better: "There's a Ghirardelli brownie mix right here, but . . . I'd have to turn the oven on. Ugh, never mind, I'll just eat this carrot."


Because my brain is too damaged from the heat

There is no air conditioning in my house and I forgot to leave the bay windows open last night so it was already like 76 degrees in the living room when I got up.

I'm sure the pioneers are shedding a tear for me right now.

The only way we can get the boys to sleep at night is to prop fans up in (probably dangerous) positions on furniture so a breeze reaches them. And then I retreat to my room with the running window AC unit and feel all kinds of guilty. I'm pretty sure someone with a Mother Heart would let the kids have the air conditioning.

Let's hear all your favorite places to get out of the heat, preferably ones that would work with an infant and a toddler! (Please don't say the pool. Because that sounds like work.)

Here are the ideas I already have:

My bedroom
The library
My mother-in-law's house

Aaaaaand those are all of them. 

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