Category Archives: Uncategorized

Birthday Freebies

list of birthday freebies, birthday free, free birthday stuff, reward programs with free birthday

Last year for my birthday I put together a giant list of freebies you can get on your birthday.  Who doesn’t love free stuff?  I had a list of free food, discounts, and reward points.  I thought it was time to update my list and make it a bit more complete this year.  Nothing says birthday like free gifts! 

Here’s my best tip for handling your reward programs and freebies.  

If you don’t want a ton of junk emails through out the year then go ahead and create a separate email account specifically for freebies.  I have a separate email that I check once a week or so that I use for store rewards programs.  That way your regular inbox isn’t overcrowded with emails and you can keep everything in the same spot.  

Alright, now onto the list of free stuff!  

Food Birthday Freebies

Applebees – Free dessert.
Arby’s – Free 12oz. milkshake with any purchase.
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels – Free pretzel (that’s what I received last birthday.)  They also send monthly coupons all year long if you sign up for their newsletter.
Baskin Robbins – Free 2.5 oz scoop of ice cream on your birthday plus other promotions when you join the Baskin Robbins Birthday Club.
Bob Evans – Free dessert and/or free kid’s meal.
Boston Market – Free kid’s meal coupon for kids under 12.
Buffalo Wild Wings – You either get a free dessert straight up or with a $5 purchase, depending on your location.
Burger King – Free kid’s meal to all kids club members.
Chevy’s – Free dessert.
Chick-fil-A – Free meal, good for two months!
Country Buffet – Join the Mega Bar Meal club and get a free meal on your birthday AND a free meal just for signing up!
Country Kitchen – As long as you have valid ID, you get a free dinner entree up to $8 in value.
Cracker Barrel – Come in on your birthday and you will get a free dessert.
Culver’s – Free sundae.
Dairy Queen – Free BOGO ice cream coupon via e-mail.
Denny’s – Free original Grand Slam breakfast, but only on your birthday!
Dunkin Donuts – Free Coffee!
Dutch Bros. Coffee – Stop in on your birthday and get a free coffee as your birthday freebie.
Einstein Bros Bagels – Free bagel and shmear
Famous Dave’s Barbeque – Free birthday surprise and free kids lil’ wilbur meal.
Fazoli’s – Join their eFamily and get a coupon for a free dessert.
Firehouse Subs – Sign up and get an email for a free sub.
Great American Cookies – Free cookie!
Hard Rock Cafe – Free dessert.
Hometown Buffet – Join the Mega Bar Meal club and get a free meal on your birthday AND a free meal just for signing up!
Hooters – 10 free hot wings.
Houlihan’s – Free coupon for an entree during your next visit up to a week after your birthday.
HuHot Mongolian Grill – Free dessert and free kid’s smores
IHOP – Come on into IHOP and get a free meal (a sundae at some locations) on your birthday. (May not be available in all areas.)
Jack in the Box – They have a printable coupon for a free dessert valid only on your birthday.
Krispy Kreme – Free half dozen glazed donuts and a coffee mug with either coffee or soda in it! You might want to sign up ahead of time (only at participating locations).
Logan’s Roadhouse – Join their Nut Club and get a coupon for a free slice of cheesecake.
Lone Star Steakhouse –Free Appetizer!
Maggie Moo’s –Free Birthday Surprise!
Marble Slab Creamery – Kids can join the Marble Slab Kids Club and get a free ice cream cone on their birthday up to age 12.
McAlister’s Deli – Free birthday surprise.
Mimis Cafe – Free entree with purchase.
Moe’s Southwest Grill –Free Entree! and Free Kid’s Birthday Meal!
Noodles & Company – Free meal coupon for your birthday when you signup for their newsletter.
Old Chicago Free Pizza!
Old Country Buffet – Join the Mega Bar Meal club and get a free meal on your birthday AND a free meal just for signing up!
Old Spaghetti Factory – Free Kid’s Birthday Meal!
Old Spaghetti Warehouse – Join the Warehouse Club and get a coupon for a free meal on your birthday.
Olive Garden – Free birthday surprise.
Orange Julius – Free birthday drink.
Outback – Get a free dessert.
P.F. Chang’s – Free cake or cheesecake via their e-mail list.
Papa Murphy’s – Sign up for their e-club and get a coupon for a free cookie dough on your birthday.
Qdoba Mexican Grill – Free burrito on your birthday, as well as free chips n’ salsa just for joining up.
Quizno’s – Join their mailing list and get a free cookie on your birthday. You’ll also get a coupon for a free Sammie when you sign up.
Red Lobster – Join the Overboard Club and they will email you a surprise for your birthday.
Red Robin – Free Gourmet Burger if you pick up a Red Royalty Card at your local restaurant and then register it online. You also get a dessert when you say it’s your birthday in the restaurant!
Starbucks – If you have a gift card to their store, register it and receive a free coffee on your birthday. If you shop there often, it might be worth buying a gift card just to get the free coffee!
Steak ‘n Shake – Free steak burger with cheese and fries.
Texas Roadhouse – They send a coupon for one free appetizer or sidekick of ribs.
Waffle House – Join their Regulars Club and get a special coupon.
Wendy’s – Free kids meal for the little ones and a free frosty for us adults.
Zio’s Italian – Come in and get a free dessert on your birthday.

list of birthday freebies, birthday free, free birthday stuff, reward programs with free birthday

Retail Birthday Freebies

Ace Hardware – signup and receive $5 off on your birthday.
CVS – If you have an Extra Care Card, register it online and get $3 ECB on your birthday.
Disney – sign up for Disney Rewards and get a credit for a free DVD.
DSW Shoes – $5.00 On Your Birthday.
Famous Footwear – Free Birthday Surprise.
Hallmark – 20% off coupon for one item and a free card.
Helzberg Diamonds
 – Sign up for free email updates and receive a coupon for free pearl earrings for your birthday.
Journeys Kidz – 15% off gift card for your child’s birthday.
Kmart – Children get $5.00 Birthday Bucks, a birthday crown, happy birthday certificate, and birthday Fun Pack with surprise goodies!
Missouri Lottery – Free-play ticket.
Old Navy – Get a coupon on your birthday.
Proctor & Gamble – A batch of BOGO coupons for various products.
Sephora – Sign up as a Beauty Insider and get a free gift from Sephora on your birthday.
Swagbucks – 50 free Swagbucks
The Children’s Place – Register for their Birthday Club and receive 15% off on yours and your child’s birthday + coupons during your birthday week.
Toys R Us – Sign up ahead of time and once your child’s birthday rolls around, they’ll get a personalized letter in the mail. Plus, bring your child into any Toys R Us and they’ll get a hat & balloon before having their birthday announced over the loudspeaker. You’ll also get a $3 gift card in mail.

Ulta Beauty – Free Birthday Surprise!
Walmart PictureMe Studio – Free Birthday Portrait Collage!
World Market – Free Birthday Gift!

Bonus Tip – Sign up early

Now if you know you’re going to be going to a specific restaurant or store on or around your birthday, then try to join the rewards program before going.  I recommend joining about 2-3 weeks before your birthday.  That way your information has time to be processed in their system and you can get an email with your coupon.  Most stores have caught on to people signing up just for the instant coupon, so now they wait a day or two to send an email with the discount.  If you sign up early then you can ensure time to receive the goods.

How To Recover From Your Kid’s First Birthday Party

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

Well we survived.  Baby Boy’s first birthday and party was a huge success.  We went with the Gone Fishing theme and had so much yummy food. Now that it’s over I feel like I need an extra day just to recover.  I spent months planning this party and then just like that it was over.

A great thing that worked out for us was having his party on Saturday.  That way anyone who was traveling from out of town could come for just the day.  The party started in the early afternoon so most of our out-of-town travelers came down that morning and we able to be home by 7 or 8 that same night.  We also wanted our guests to be able to have a day off before going back to work.  I like having parties on Saturdays.  Usually J and I are the ones having to travel to see friends or family and being home late Saturday or early Sunday morning is the best.  Then I feel like I have a full day to get things done around the house.

We also planned a Saturday party so we could have a full day to get the house back to normal and take lots of naps.  Genius!

gone fishing birthday, diy smash cake, first birthday party, birthday party on a budget, meredith rines

Here’s what we did to recover FAST from our Baby Boy’s birthday party:

Cleaned up first thing.  As soon as the party was over we started cleaning.  Threw away trash, put dishes in the dishwasher and put away and left over food.  I didn’t want to procrastinate and then be left with dirty plates and trash laying around.  It may not be a perfect clean up, but try to get the bulk of it before going to bed.

Deep clean the next morning.  I woke up early and finished cleaning the house.  I swept, cleaned the floors and hauled back the tables we borrowed.  If you need extra hands then I would recommend taking your little guy to his grandparents’ for a few hours to give you an opportunity to clean.  

Find a place for all of the new stuff.  I had a feeling that his first birthday was going to be bad (as in a lot of stuff).  But I had no idea.  

TIP:  Hide a few new toys in a closet and then in a couple months when all of their toys have lost their excitement, then pull out a hidden toy.  

Nap time.  Naps are important for your little one and the day after his party might be pretty hard.  So make sure you build an extra nap time in your day. 

I’ll be sharing how I threw his party on a budget and what tricks I used to save money… and what I splurged on later this week. 

Why I’m Against Receiving Lines At Weddings

Why I didn't do a receiving line at our

Have you ever been to a date to a wedding where you didn’t know the bridal party?  Then have to stand through the awkward receiving line, contemplating what to say, should you hug them, shake their hand, or just do nothing?  I have.  It was uncomfortable.

I went to a wedding years ago with a receiving line immediately following the ceremony.  I instantly started searching for an escape route so I could fake needing to use the bathroom just to avoid the receiving line.  Unfortunately the only way to get out of the chapel was to go through the receiving line.  I was someone’s date.  I didn’t know the bride or groom and I had never met anyone in their wedding party. To say it was uncomfortable would be an understatement.  I was miserable.  Awkward.

Let’s be honest, the bride and groom have way too much on their mind to even try to remember some random girl’s name.  So my date was trying to be nice and he introduced me… they didn’t care, I didn’t care and it was one of those moments that seemed to last forever.  Then I had to meet all of the bridesmaids, groomsmen and family.  I survived, but barely.  I swore when the day came for me to get married that I would skip the receiving line.

There were only a few wedding traditions that J and I rebelled against.  Honestly I like traditions and wanted to follow as many as we could, even if it meant having to shuffle plans around.  J and I talked about everything we wanted our wedding to be about and that’s what we worked for.  It was a fun day with our families and friends.  We spent the evening laughing, dancing and singing along to our favorite songs.  We even had our share of the unexpected, like when a homeless man tried to steal and then sell my wedding planner’s phone or when a family friend stole my entrance after the gates were closed.  It was funny and made the day even more special, in my opinion.

We tried hard to follow as many traditions as we could, like….

We didn’t see each other before I walked down the isle.  I wore something new, something old, something borrowed and something blue.  We shared our first dance.  We did the garter and bouquet toss.

There were a few things that we didn’t follow tradition on….

We didn’t have a ring bearer or flower girl.  We didn’t walk down the aisle to the traditional wedding march.  And the one tradition that I was dead set on not doing was a receiving line.

Traditionally it was a time for the bride and groom to thank everyone that came to the wedding.  With changing times, there are so many other ways to do that.  At our wedding we had a short thank you note printed and placed at each table setting.  J and I also went around to every table right after dinner was served to say something to each person.  Doing it while everyone was eating was a perfect time.  Everyone was in their seats, music wasn’t too loud and because everyone was eating it was pretty quite in the room so we weren’t shouting.  We also divided and conquered.  We tried to hit every table, but we split it up and started on opposite ends of the room to make sure at least one of us went to all of the tables.

It was perfect.

Now when I go to a wedding and they have a receiving line, I secretly cringe.  I flashback to that awkward moment years ago, my palms start getting sweaty and my mouth goes dry.

Not every tradition is perfect for each couple.  You have to pick and choose what’s important to you as a couple.  What traditions were/are important to you?

 

Chicago Part 2

Last week I started sharing J and I’s trip to Chicago.  I mainly talked about the Goose Island Brewery tour J had one through work.  It was such a neat experience to see the inside of a brewery, especially one that has such creativity!

We ended up staying until Sunday morning.  So we spent all of Saturday exploring Chicago.  I hadn’t been in over 10 years and J had never been to Chicago so we wanted to do as much as we could.

We woke up about 9am, which felt great!  It was so nice to not wake up to three dogs wrestling on top of you or barking to get their breakfast.  So nice!  We searched for a good place to eat and came across DMK Burger Bar, which had appeared on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  J loves that show and he always wanted to go a place that had been featured on there.  So we headed out the door for lunch.

DMK Burger Bar

This place was amazing.  J and I are still talking about how good the burgers were.  I got the number 1, which featured bacon, char-broiled onions, and BBQ sauce… my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  J ordered a simple cheeseburger – nothing fancy.  We also added an order of cheese fries to the mix.  The order was huge!  We split the fries and didn’t even tough half of them!  I was actually only able to eat half my burger – it was massive!

Afterwards we walked for a few blocks before getting a cab back to the hotel.  Someone… (cough, J cough) didn’t grab his jacket.  It was about 50 all day, so it was a little chilly for us.  We then walked to the Navy Pier to explore some more.  It was about a 30 minute walk to the pier, but totally worth it.  It was neat to walk along city streets.  Plus, we probably got there faster walker than driving.  Traffic in Chicago is crazy compared to what we’re used to!

Chicago Recap (1)

Navy Pier was fun!  I talked J into doing a caricature with me.  He wasn’t too pleased and didn’t smile at all!  So the drawing is pretty funny.  After the pier, we walked to Millennium Park to see the bean.  He wasn’t all too impressed with having to walk another 30 minutes to see a metal sculpture, but I loved it.  I took a ton of pictures and was smiling from ear to ear the whole time.

Afterwards, we decided to head to Willis Tower.  So he mapped it and walked a little over 40 minutes to get there.  We may have taken a wrong turn thanks to my directions, so J took over.  It went a lot smoother when he took over that job!

Chicago Recap (1)

 

Willis Tower was so neat.  I had never been there before and had no idea what to expect.  It was pretty cloudy that day so we walked in and the workers kept saying there was zero visibility from the top.  We both looked at each other and decided it would be worth to still go up.  The line was nothing – literally nothing!  We walked right through and had no problems!   I would give up some visibility to not have to fight crowds any day!

Afterwards we mapped to go back to the hotel and learned we wandered about 3 hours away.  Oops!  So we grabbed a cab instead of walking.

We then searched and found a local pizza place that had decent online reviews.  It was less than a 10 minute walk from our hotel, which was perfect.  It was called Pizanos.  We had original deep dish pizza and a few beers before calling it a night.

I loved Chicago!  I think J had a great time, too.  We can’t wait to go back!

My Favorite Greek Salad Dressing Recipe

Greek Salad Dressing Recipe

While living in St. Louis I had the chance to go to some amazing restaurants for one of my jobs.  We hosted seminars a few times a month and for coming to hear my boss speak, we provided you a tasty meal.  After the seminar was given, questions were answered and dinners were served, we would sneak away to eat our own dinner.  Usually it would be after 8pm before even getting a chance to order.  I would be starving and so excited about something new to try.  One thing I always got was a Greek salad.  I just loved them!  I devoured it every time it was placed in front of me.  I of course would order steak, sea bass or some other delectable entree to go with it.

Ever since moving home, there as been one thing missing – Greek salads.  There just isn’t a good place around here that serves a Greek salad.  So I’ve had to make due.  With a few trial and errors, I’ve finally pinpointed the best tasting Greek Salad recipe.  …and the good part!? It’s not that bad for you!

Greek Salad Dressing Recipe

Here’s what you need for homemade Greek salad dressing recipe:

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon Oregano

Greek Salad Dressing Recipe

Mix the ingredients together and voila!  Serve on top a bed of lettuce and other toppings.  I like my Greek salads with a little bit of Feta cheese, tomatoes and artichoke hearts on top of Romaine lettuce.  When I made this I was out of pretty much everything except lettuce and cheese.  So my salad is a little blah, but the flavor of the dressing totally makes up for it!

Greek Salad Dressing Recipe

It makes about 5-6 servings.  You can store in an airtight container on the counter or in the cabinet for a few days.

41 calories / 0 carbs / 4g fat / 0 protein per serving

Day 2 of 7: Multi-Passionate

multi-passionate

I’m continuously fascinated with learning more, developing my skills, and becoming a better person.

I love the idea of growing into a deeper, wiser individual.  I’m passionate about helping others, expanding my horizons, trying new experiences and being with those I care for the most.

Being creative touches my soul and awakens my senses.

It all started in grad school (well this blog did, my other ones started in undergrad and that’s a whole other story!).  I needed a creative outlet to keep me sane during the long hours of class, school work and having three jobs.  I’m truly a creative at heart – not one particular area of interest.  I like to call myself a free spirit, a multi-passionate woman.  I took my nickname – Mere and my middle name – Lynne to create the site name.  It seem to flow off the tongue easier than my previous attempts at blogging.  I wrote about the stressors of working too much, studying too hard and not having enough fun.

I tried for a short period to be a fashion blogger, but I had to face the fact I preferred to be in jeans and a t-shirt over high heels and designer labels.  I have finally found comfort in who I am and where I want my blog to be.  I share DIY tips, recipes, my life, my love for our three dogs, and a lot of being married.  The love I have for my dogs and to create a more organized home really shine through.  I try not to force myself to fit into any box.  I think it’s more inspiring to let things flow naturally.

I’m following along Alex Beadon’s Feel Good Blogging Challenge.  Hop on and join us!

Feel Good Blogging Challenge

Alright, I need a kick in the pants to get my spark back for blogging.  I have ideas, I think about future posts but I have had zero motivation to come here and actually post anything.  I follow the super-inspiring Alex Beadon and jumped feet first for her Feel Good Blogging Challenge.  Today is day 1, challenge 1.  I am wasting no time to get started on this post because I know myself.  I will put it off and wait days, weeks or even a month before getting around to it.

brewery
We were asked to answer 5 questions about ourselves.  Here are my answers:

  • Who are you?

I’m Meredith, blogger and founder of merelynne.com.  I’m also a wife, a dog-mom who wants to rescue every stray dog I come across, and I’m a professional.  I recently moved myself and my family back to my hometown so I could start working for/with my Dad.  I’m slowly learning the business while beefing up his marketing efforts.  I love what I do.  More than I ever thought was possible.  I finally feel like I have a purpose and am excited to wake up every morning to get ready for work.

I’m passionate about so many things – my family, my career, helping others, being there to listen when someone needs a friend, taking pictures, being organized, and building a solid foundation with my husband.

  • Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging years ago during my undergrad.  I had a different site name and a different point-of-view.  I was mainly doing DIY projects, but that was hard to keep up with under a college girl’s budget and time frame.  Now under a new name, new domain address and with a little more maturity behind me I blog about my life.  I feel confident about who I am, where I’m going and who I want to be.  I like to share stories of being a newlywed, DIY projects (when I have the time), parties I throw, dinners I cook that don’t end up in the trash, and tips on being more organized with a busy schedule.

  • Who is your blog for?

My blog is for me and women, who like me, are busy.  I may not have children, yet; but I do have quite a bit going on.  I know I’m not the only woman who has family living in different parts of the state, a full-time career, schooling to further oneself, a blog, side projects that bring joy, and so much more.

  • Something I’ve been working on lately that I’m really proud of?

Being healthier.  I joined the local Crossfit box and have fallen in love with it.  J and I have been focused on eating cleaner and at home more often.  I’m proud of myself and the journey that we’ve been on.  I’m excited about our future as a team and know that I will never be little-miss skinny Minnie, but I will be proud of my body and my confidence.

  • What’s one message that you hope people take away from my blog?

You can do many, many things with the 24 hours in your day – including spending more time with the ones you love.  That it’s okay to not be perfect and have a new post every day – people will understand and relate to you better if you’re a little more real.

Can’t wait for tomorrow’s challenge.  If you’re ready to take the jump then join me.
Bud's paw

Virtual Blog Tour

You may have seen this virtual blog tour on a few blogs lately.  I am so happy that Dani from over at This Workman Life invited me to play along.  I am so happy to share my little piece of the blogosphere with you all today.
merelynne about page

Q. What are you working on?

A. I am always daydreaming new posts and ideas for this little blog.  Right now I am working on a few decorative DIY projects for our new home.

Also, I am working on launching the perfect planner for the entrepreneur.  It has a section for your daily agenda, blogging and even your online store.  I am very proud of this little creation of mine and cannot wait to see it come to life.  The website is in the works right now and the final copy is being tweaked to perfection.  For the blog – I am constantly daydreaming new ideas and have a few DIY projects in the works, too.

Q. How does your work differ from others of your genre?

A.  I do not focus all of my posts on DIY projects or recipes.  I am more of a one-stop shop.  I offer tips on how I juggle my busy life, mix that in with some recipes and gorgeous photos then I add a dash of DIY projects.  I am honest with myself and that translates into my posts.  I do not try to be something that I am not.  I write about what’s important in my life, at that moment.  I’m newly married and just packed my husband with our two dogs up to move to my hometown.  We are both starting new careers and new lives in a whole new place.  It has its ups and downs and I like showing that part of me to my readers.

engagement photo
Q. Why do you do what you do?

A. I blog because I’m passionate about it.  I love to share my ideas and dreams with others.  I have multiple passions in life.  I am a driven businesswoman that has a strong love for my family and taking care of my home.  My blog is my escape and allows me the chance to focus on me for a moment.

brewery
Q. How does your writing process work?

A. I try to stick to a schedule of posting 3x a week, but that doesn’t always happen and I’m 100% okay with that.  I don’t want to make this blog feel like work because I have enough of that with everything else going on.  I start with an idea, whether it is a tutorial, DIY or a recipe.  I then start dreaming of how to accomplish my dream, which then starts the writing process.  Once the copy is finished for the post I then turn my attention to photos.  You need killer photos for a great post.

 

Tag some great friends:

1)       Mary from ModMommyMK

2)       Toni from 1ChoclateBox

 

Disappeared

Life has been crazy ’round here.  I haven’t had much blogging time between studying, working full time, spending time with our families and friends.  Okay, okay that’s not entirely true.  I haven’t wanted to blog over spending time doing other things.  I guess it’s a case of writer’s block or just pure laziness.  I like to think of it as the first one, but you can think what you want.

I promise that I will get my mo-jo back and get on a groove again.  Just need to get through my next test in the next few weeks.  Thanks for understanding!

Pause.

blog I’m at it again.  Needing to take a quick pause from the blog until Monday.  It’s only 2 days, but I really need a break.  I have some really exciting news that has happened and I cannot wait to share.  However, today is not the right time.

I will be back on Monday the 20th with a new spark in my step!  I am also working hard on keeping up with my Thankful Series that I started this month.  At the end of this month I will be sharing my second (ever!) vlog with you.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I won’t be so awkward.

Cheers!