Beating Those Monday Blues: Sites to Browse

January 10, 2011

Blah. It’s Monday yet again. Where oh where did the weekend go? You’re now stuck at work with bags under your eyes on your fifth cup of coffee, still feeling just as miserable as when you walked into the office. Don’t worry; everything is going to be OK. CoupMe’s got a solution for you, and no it doesn’t involve pounding your head on the desk. Next time those Monday blues creep up on you, take a look at these websites to cheer you up! Oh, and we won’t tell your boss you took a mini break from filing papers either.

CoupMe & GoodTwo: We know you’re already a fan of CoupMe, but have you checked out our newest addition, GoodTwo? If you love CoupMe, then we know you’ll absolutely love GoodTwo, our fundraising brand. Here, we post amazing deals our fundraisers are running, and for every deal purchased (by people like you), the cause gets a donation. Hows that for doing good?

Foodzie: This is such a cool site to browse yummy eats near you! Discover and buy food from small producers and growers in your area. From zesty hummus spreads to out-of-this-world cheese, you’ll be sure to find something for your palate!

Damn You, Auto Correct! You know when you’re sending a text to your boss, boyfriend or mother and it comes out 100% WRONG? Words get switched around and it changes the entire structure of the text, often leading to shock, confusion and mostly uncontrollable laughter. We’ve all been there, and you’ll definitely appreciate this site if you like a good laugh.

Etsy: Hands down my favorite site to browse for trinkets and treasures. You’ll find anything and everything cute ‘n’ pretty on Etsy, and for a good price too!

PostSecret: We all have secrets, but sometimes it’s fun to look at other people’s deepest secrets. You know it’s addictive…

OMG Facts: Want to wow your friends at your next outing, or simply know little weird facts about anything and everything? Then this is your place!

What are your favorite sites to browse when you’re bored?

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Recipe Friday: It’s Chili Season!

January 7, 2011

Well, it’s officially winter in the Bean. The weather is frigid, you can see your breath when you walk down the street and it’s difficult to survive your commute to work with at least three layers. But all that being said, there’s on thing I absolutely love about the cold weather: chili season. Seriously, there is nothing like a big hot bowl of chili with a side of corn bread to soothe your soul after a chilly day. That’s why CoupMe’s here to share a few top-notch chili recipes for every type of palate. Enjoy!

For the meat-lover: Chili Lovers Spicy Three Meat Chili (Food.com)

For the vegetarian: Spicy Vegetarian Chili (WholeFoodsMarket.com)

For the Health Conscious: Healthy Turkey Chili (Tasty Kitchen)

For those Who Like it Hot: Spicy Chili Recipe (Taste of Home)

What’s your favorite chili recipe? How do you like your chili prepared?

~Rachel, CoupMe

 

 

Ball Where? Ball Square!

January 6, 2011

For many outside of Somerville, knowledge of the city stops with the ever-popular Davis Square, home to bars like The Burren and The Joshua Tree and trendy restaurants like Foundry on Elm. For those that are a little more hipster and adventurous, you’ve probably found yourself over in Union Square at The Independent or sipping coffee at Bloc 11 Cafe. But as a six-year veteran of the Somerville scene, I would say you’d be missing something if you didn’t make the 15 minute walk from the Davis Square T stop to check out Ball Square.

Ball Square is sort of a local secret, and unlike other areas packed with restaurants, it hits its peak in the morning. The area is the scene of the infamous “Breakfast Wars” between the owner of Ball Square Cafe and the owner of Sound Bites. (Here at CoupMe, we don’t condone getting violent over food, but we will say that this sort of rivalry is worth the trip–as are the gigantic portions and to-die-for hash browns in both restaurants.)

But it’s not just about the warring breakfast entrepreneurs in Ball Square. If you want to avoid the lines or the flying fists, you can check out Kelly’s Diner, a no-frills breakfast spot that even serves up stereotypical diner waitresses, or True Grounds Cafe, where they serve up breakfast burritos and scones the size of your head.

Not up in time for breakfast? No worries; our culinary tour continues with lunch and dinner! It’s amazing how much food Ball Square can pack into just three or four blocks, but each spot is better than the next.

If you’re looking for a great deal to motivate you over to the square, check out today’s CoupMe for Yak & Yeti, an Indian and Nepalese restaurant that recently opened. Serving up spicy and familiar Indian dishes, Yak & Yeti also lets you expand your palate a bit with Nepalese food in a sleek environment with a friendly waitstaff. It’s delicious and reasonably priced–even more so since your CoupMe will get you $25 worth of food for just $10!

Explore other parts of the world (some more refined than others) with 30 different flavors of wings at Eat at Jumbo’s (they have vegetarian wings too!) or the Italian at Pescatore that beats out the North End in price and flavor any day. For authentic Italian subs made by a husband and wife team, eat at the esteemed Victor’s Deli. And if you’re still hungry, hit up the famous Lyndell’s Bakery for Italian pastries and their little-known home run: fresh donuts.

So wander over to Ball Square and get a taste of some of the best food in the Greater Boston area, all packed into a couple of square blocks. Don’t forget to grab your CoupMe for Yak & Yeti to give Somerville’s newest Indian restaurant a try!

Lookin’ Good!

January 5, 2011

Ladies, we’ve really tailored today’s CoupMe deals for you. As much as I like to say I’m a busy gal with lots of interests and extra curriculars, I’ve still got time for some good old self-pampering. Today, our friends at Frances Ray Jules Salon on Portland Street are offering an unbeatable deal: a wash, cut, blowdry, conditioning treatment, and manicure for $49. With an average of 4.5 stars on Yelp, there’s pretty much no reason not to go. From what I’ve been reading on my favorite online review site, the stylists are skilled, the service is super friendly, and their clients go home happy!

If you’re feeling lazy after spending all that time pampering yourself, pop over to the Burlington outpost of Soni Yoga for a month of unlimited yoga (a $110 value) for $50. If you’ve ever met Soni or practiced at her studio, she’s a delightful lady who offers some classes geared specifically for women.

Any thoughts for deals you’d like to see on our site, pampering or not? Tell us on Facebook here or drop us a tweet!

11 Ways To Make Your Resultion Stick

January 3, 2011

Were any of you lucky enough to catch this weekend’s dollar gym membership CoupMe? If so, I’m sure you are sitting in your office/apartment/kitchen as we speak wondering when to start. But if you remember last year, days turn into weeks which turn into months without hitting the gym and before you know it you’re back to square one again. What happened to all of that motivation you had on January 1st? Don’t worry though; it happens to us all. Whether your goal is to lose 10 pounds or learn a different language, resolutions can be tough to stick to. That’s why CoupMe’s here to help you stay on track for 2011. Good luck!

1. Grab a Buddy: It’s so much easier to achieve anything with a friend! If you’re trying to tone up, join a gym with a friend. If you want to start a new hobby (like cooking), sign up for cooking lessons with your sister. The buddy system truly works.

2. Start Small: Make realistic expectations that you can actually achieve. There’s no shame at all in starting small! If you are trying to lose 10 pounds, don’t cut out soda, join the gym and sign up for boot camp classes all in one week. Baby steps is the way to reach your goal realistically. Maybe cut out sweets and sugar. Once you get used to that, sign up for a yoga classes at your local gym. Take it step by step and you won’t be so overwhelmed! You’ll also be much more likely to stick to it.

3. Write it Down: Write your resolutions down on a piece of paper and hang it to your wall. When you see it written out, you’ll feel more accountable and determined to follow through.

4. One Thing at a Time: If you’re like me, you have many, many resolutions this year. I myself want to re-introduce myself to Italian, travel to Europe, practice yoga at least twice a week, etc. etc. But there’s no way I am going to do all of those things at once. Instead, take things one at a time, and you’ll feel much more accomplished.

5. Hang it Up: Put your resolutions up where you can see them. Post them to your bulletin board or hang them above your desk at work. This will remind you of what you are aiming for day by day.

6. Reward Yourself: Be sure to reward yourself for all of your accomplishments along the way, even if they are little. Lose a dress size? Treat yourself to a new outfit! Did you go a few weeks without smoking a single cigarette? Pamper yourself with a mani/pedi. It’s nice to give yourself a little “thank you” once in a while.

7. Review, Review, Review: Just as you’d study for a test over and over again to remember things, same goes true for your resolutions. Read them out loud every week to remind yourself what your goals are and what you need to do to achieve them.

8. Seek Support: Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you’re struggling with your resolution to cook more, cut back on swearing or whatever your trouble areas are, it’s OK to confide in a friend or family member. They will help give you the support you need to stay true to your goals and refrain from cheating.

9. Set a Reasonable Deadline: Just like anything in life, you need to be reasonable with your goals. That also comes with a reasonable deadline. Don’t try to lose 10 pounds in a month. Instead, give yourself a few months, and write down little things you need to do to get there. “Lose 10 pounds” is way too vague to accomplish in just 30 days. But hitting the gym three times a week or lowering your body fat percentage by 2 % is much more attainable.

10. Cut Yourself Some Slack: No one can be 100% perfect, so don’t be too hard on yourself. If your resolution is to take yoga three times a week, but you miss a class due to plans with a friend, it’s OK. Same goes with overindulging in the cookie jar one night. Just get right back on track the next day, and put your little “oops” moments in the past.

11. Envision the Results: Many of us are visual thinkers, and need to see what following our resolutions will look like. Pin up pictures of your ideal weight, cut out inspiring words from magazines, post pictures of you volunteering all over your wall. Seeing is believing!

What is your New Year’s resolution this year? What are you doing to hold yourself accountable?

How One New England Couple Makes a Difference With Potato Chips

December 31, 2010

All Things New England is back again with their Friday guest post. See how one couple takes advantage of the snack-food industry to help raise money to cure microcephaly. Oh, and Happy New Year’s Eve!

A white screen stares back at me as I struggle to find the words for this next story. It’s long overdue and I’m stuck, overwhelmed by my own emotion. I remember Kelly, a little girl I used to babysit for. She had the sweetest giggle and was the Queen of Silly. If I let myself, I can still see her, rolling around on the floor with her legs up in the air, laughing uncontrollably. We spent many afternoons together reading stories, eating popcorn and just making each other laugh. I was very close to her and her family. We were a big part of each others lives.  However, sadly, Kelly was plagued with numerous and very serious medical problems. We lost Kelly when she was only 10. I was a teen in turmoil  trying to make sense of a world that, to me, was already off kilter. Seeing Kelly’s  bright smile in a portrait placed  atop her little casket forever changed my life. I learned that life isn’t fair and that some very terrible things can happen to some very good people. I learned that sickness and death have no mercy, not even for children. Words like this seem unproductive, but, in my world, it’s the harsh reality of an unfair truth. That having been said, I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for people afflicted by disease, their families and caretakers whose lives are affected on a daily basis by disease and illness. It takes a lot of courage and strength to just keep on keeping on…to find joy and happiness in life’s little wonders and in the smallest of accomplishments. Perhaps this is why I was drawn to Rick Jewell and his daughter, Rylee.

Rick Jewell is a food broker from Longmeadow, Massachusetts. He is the father of two beautiful children, Ryan, 6 and Rylee, 4. He and his wife, Jennifer, have been married for over 8 years and, together they are conquering life’s challenges with purpose, dedication, love and commitment. Their youngest child, Rylee, was born with microcephaly which is a neurological disorder that causes the brain to stop developing properly. As a result, the head and brain grow smaller than average. There is no cure for microcephaly and the symptoms and severity of this condition vary from case to case making it hard for doctors to treat and even harder for researchers to understand. Microcephaly affects nearly 2.5% of the entire population with 25,000 cases in the United States each year. Rick laments, “Unfortunately, and what people do not realize is that Rylee is not going to experience life normally like many of us. Can you image every day struggling to use a feeding tube, breathe, and stay healthy. Or not be able to walk, talk, go to high school/college, have a job…” Rick comments. “We have come to terms with those facts and appreciate every moment with her. ”

Read the rest of this post over at All Things New England here

Fast Apps For New Year’s Eve

December 30, 2010


If you’ve been cooking and celebrating and hosting throughout the holiday season, you may be rethinking your plan to host a New Year’s Eve party this year. Putting together a party can be a LOT of work, and maybe it’s the last thing you need as 2010 comes to a close. But we have a way to make it quick and easy for you to put together a New Year’s Eve party that is pure class all the way. So put a couple of bottles of champagne on ice and get ready for an easy New Year’s Eve party–we’ve even provided the shopping list!

Cheese Platter with Baked Brie

You’ll Need

  • Three different types of cheese (we suggest: a cheddar, a blue or goat cheese, and a smoked cheese like gouda)
  • A wheel of brie
  • Pastry dough (find it in the freezer section>
  • A couple kinds of crackers

Arranging a cheese platter is easy, but what makes this one extra festive is the baked brie, which is a cinch to make. Get your cheeses to room temperature and arrange them artfully on a plate with crackers and garnish like grapes or cranberries. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 350 degrees and grab your brie and pastry dough.

Thaw the dough so it’s workable but still cold (usually takes about 10 minutes) and roll it out nice and thin so that it will cover the entire wheel of brie like wrapping paper. Then, cut the rind off the top of the brie. You can add preserves or nuts on top if you’re feeling fancy, but if not simply lay the pastry dough over the brie and join it up on the bottom so the whole wheel is covered.

Put it in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until the pastry dough is cooked. Then take it out and let it cool for a minute before transferring it to your cheese platter (or else you could have an exploding brie on your hands! Voila, an extra special cheese platter!

Asparagus Wrapped in Proscuitto

You’ll Need

  • Asparagus
  • Prosciutto di Parma (half a slice per asparagus spear)
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Toothpicks

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. While it’s preheating, chop the dry ends off the asparagus and spread them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus in the oven for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it–you want it to be bright green and the cooking time varies based on the size of the spears.

Cut your prosciutto slices in half, and wrap half a slice around each spear. Secure with a toothpick and arrange on a plate. When you are done setting them up, drizzle a bit of good olive oil on them for presentation.

Assorted Calzones

You’ll Need

  • Pizza dough (one for each calzone)
  • Cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Whatever stuffings you want (pepperoni, mushrooms, spinach, peppers, etc.)
  • Italian seasoning

Calzone doesn’t necessarily sound like the most elegant of apps, but when you slice it thin and serve it, it’s not only a pretty appetizer, but also a great hunger satisfier for any guests who haven’t eaten dinner. Plus, you can make it ahead and reheat it when the party starts.

Preheat your oven to 425. Start by flouring and rolling out the dough in a long oval. Down the center, sprinkle plenty of cheese and whatever topping you want. My suggestions are spinach and mushroom, pepperoni, or the classic Italian meat calzone, with lots of different salty cured meats from the deli, but you can also do buffalo chicken, roasted red peppers, or whatever you have in the fridge. All meat should be precooked before being put in the calzone.

Sprinkle Italian seasoning or any combination of garlic powder, basil, oregano, and parsley that you have in the cabinet over the toppings. Then, close the calzone by taking either side and pinching the two sides together in the middle, and flipping the ends up so you get what looks, in size and shape, like a long French loaf. Brush the top with olive oil.

Cook the calzone for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. The cooking time depends on how thick your crust is, so keep an eye on it!

Supplemented with a few appetizers from the frozen section at Trader Joe’s and a baked good or two brought by your guest, this quick and simple app menu will make your New Year’s Eve party a stress-free event. Plus, no one will leave hungry! Happy party planning!

Vacation Essentials

December 29, 2010

I’m not really one for packing light, since for me, vacation is all about feeling comfortable and having everything at my fingertips to experience the utmost convenience. Why “everything” includes pairs of jeans I haven’t worn in years and board games I know I won’t play, I can’t really explain. But, on the cusp of a relaxing long weekend away, I’ve started to assemble some stuff for packing, and have compiled a list of the major essentials:

1) Starbucks Via Instant Coffee. I never thought I’d be saying this, but this coffee giant’s instant product ain’t half bad. The packets are soluble in hot or cold water, or even milk, and they don’t taste bad. One of the perks of being an employee is I don’t have to shell out the near $1 a cup, either, but I still think they’re worth it. When I wake up in the morning, especially staying with family who aren’t big coffee drinkers or out in the woods away from certain modern conveniences, I just plain need caffeine. Plus, the packaging is simple and sleek. You can find it in classic blends Colombia and Italian Roast, and it’s also flavored (and fake-sugary) now too. The Christmas Blend via was a big hit in my house this year, too.

2) A water bottle. No matter where you’re staying, it’s nice to have your own vessel to drink out of. Plus, if you’re headed somewhere remote or with questionable drinking water, you’re set with 16-24 ounces of the stuff you brought.

3) A good book or magazine. Whether you’re off to spend time with friends, family, or a significant other, it never hurts to have some ‘me’ time. Also, if you haven’t picked up something in print for a while(a.k.a, you’ve spent too much time staring at that laptop screen), pack some paper! It’s quite a refreshing feeling to hold a physical entity that’s not a laptop or Kindle. (Ideally, you’re unplugged on vacation anyway.)

4) Your cell phone charger. Say what you want, but being completely unplugged will just stress you out. Opt to check mobile email or not, but having the option is nice. Plus, if your blackberry dies while you’re in the woods running from a grizzly bear, you’ll be pissed you didn’t charge it the night before. Turn the phone off if you like, but be prepared for emergencies by bringing that connection to the outside world with you.

5) Slippers. I can’t stress these enough during cold vacation months. They’re like the winter equivalent of a bathing suit. You need to be comfortable, and what’s an extra coupla inches in that over-full suitcase anyway?

Did I forget anything crucial? Let me know!
Safe Travels,
Allison

NYE: Your Excuse To Dress Up

December 28, 2010

New Year’s Eve is just around the corner folks. Yup, believe it or not it’s just THREE days away. As the minutes creep up to the big day, I’m sure many questions are going through your head. What am I going to do? How should I style my hair? What do I possibly wear? Then you look in your closet only to see last year’s dress and some rundown trousers. Suddenly, you’re in panic mode. Nothing to wear…on New Year’s Eve? That’s just not going to fly. After all, NYE is the one night you have an excuse to go all out…to get away with too many sparkles or too big hair. Don’t worry, you aren’t stuck wearing last year’s dress; CoupMe’s got you covered so you can ring in 2011 in style.

For the Dude (or the Nice Girlfriend): You are in luck this year! You aren’t doomed to wear those nasty ripped jeans or suit you’ve had for ten years. This year, you can fake the glam by renting a tux from Delux Tux. And with today’s fabulous CoupMe deal, you can get half off your next rental (just $59 instead of $125)! Pretty sweet, huh? Even better, you’ll have 150 styles to choose from, and rentals are good for a whole five days in case you need to sport your tux at a few different parties. Not to mention Delux Tux is the sole provider for the New England Patriots for the past 8 years. Sold? Click here to buy now. They have locations in both Walpole and East Central Street in Franklin. 

For the Ladies: Unfortunately, we don’t have a fabulous dress deal for you, but we do have some tips so you’ll turn heads and look like a ’10’ come New Year’s Eve. Rule Number 1: You can never go wrong with a Little Black Dress, both sophisticated and sexy. Browse through some of these beautiful dresses from Express to get you thinking…most are on sale for 50% off now! If you aren’t looking to spend a lot of money, ask your roommates if you can borrow one of theirs. What’s old to them is 100% new to you, and no one will even know you borrowed it! As for shoes, go as daring (think super high stilettos) or conservative (pretty flats) as you’d like. The most important thing is comfort. No one wants to be walking down the streets of Boston at 2 a.m. in pain, unless you have a date nice enough to carry you! Snazz up your outfit with pretty jewelry and fun accessories like ribbon or a headband in your hair.

What are you planning to wear this New Year’s Eve? Are you laying low or going out to a snazzy party? 

It’s All About the Family

December 27, 2010

Spending time with the family can be joyful, hilarious, and sometimes just plain chaotic, especially around the holidays. But with these last few weeks of “family things” from holiday gatherings to phone calls and good news (my uncle just got engaged), I’ve especially realized how important family is. After all, there is nothing quite like family to bring you back to your roots.

But why only make the holiday season all about the family? Family should be something you celebrate every day of the year. With CoupMe’s quick tips, you’ll find activities to do with that crazy family of yours all winter long. Enjoy!

1. Hit Up The Theater: There are tons of great shows to hit up in Boston and beyond right now. If you still can’t face the fact that the holidays are over, it’s still not too late to see the Nutcracker, the perfect seasonal ballet. It plays in Boston until December 31, so be sure to snag your tickets fast. Other popular must-see performances include Jersey Boys and Mary Poppins. Hitting up the theater is great to do with the whole family, as both children and parents can enjoy the shows!

2. Go Hibachi Style! There’s nothing quite as entertaining and tasty as Japanese hibachi-style dining. Bring the whole family for a great time and lots of laughs. If you’ve never been, these types of restaurants cook the food right in front of your eyes, usually with a hilarious chef entertaining you and the family along the way. Be sure to bring your appetite, as hibachi isn’t for the measly eaters. Then load up on steak, chicken, shrimp, veggies, rice and maybe even a little sake! Check out Fuji Steak House in Needham, MA for a delicious hibachi experience today!

3. Lace Up Your Skates: Bring out your inner child and take the entire family ice skating! Rinks are now open all over Boston, whether you’re closer to Community Ice Skating in Kendall Square or Frog Pond in the Boston Common. After you’ve had your fair share of skating ‘n’ music, cozy up with some hot cocoa at a local cafe. Now that’s the perfect winter day with the fam.

4. Hit the Slopes: With the one to two feet of snow New England just got, the mountains up North are in beautiful condition for skiing. Take your little ones for their first ski trip (throw them in a lesson for the day so you can enjoy yourself as well) or if your kids are older take a weekend trip away with the entire family! Lots of ski resorts offer fabulous deals around this time of year, so keep your eye out. If you’re heading up to New Hampshire, check out this site for discounts and coupons. Have fun & stay warm!

5. Host a Dinner Party: No one says you can’t simply stay inside in the toasty heat when the weather gets frightful. But it’s much more fun to stay inside with family and friends. Host a potluck dinner or family gathering – each guest can bring a yummy dish or drink to share with everyone. It’ll be nice to chat and catch up over homemade eats and good music as you watch the snow fall outside.

What are some fun activities you like doing with your family in the winter?