Last spring I purchased a Chinook Book* -a green version of an Entertainment Book- for my area (Portland) and realized that the coupons expired on Oct. 31. Since my birthday is the 30th, a plan immediately formed in my head: spend an entire day shopping at organic and eco-friendly shops, and redeem as many coupons as possible. Or least as many as affordable.
So the morning of my birthday, which fell on a Saturday this year, my husband and I set out for the city, baby in tow. (Our three older children were watched by our dear friends Keith and Sandy.) I had clipped out the coupons which I wanted to redeem and charted a course. My rule for the day (which I broke once) was that all the places we shopped would be with a coupon/discount.
1st Stop: Joann Fabrics
OK, so this wasn’t a Chinook Book coupon, but I happened to have two 40% off coupons, and took the opportunity without kids to stop in a choose 2 cuts of flannel to make into PJs for Christmas.
2nd Stop: EcoCarWash (SE Portland)
The coupon was for a free wash…I think their soaps are non-toxic, and water is recycled. Clean van, good to go.
3rd Stop: Bob’s Red Mill
Yes, the flagship store. Smells heavenly even before you walk inside…Heiko checked out the breakfast menu with a 1/2 price coupon, while I stocked up from their bulk section on a few baking items I needed: tapioca flour (for GF baking), baking powder, yeast (non GMO), etc. I used the Buy One Get One Free coupon on two 25 lb bags of tapioca flour, and a $.75 coupon on the yeast. Then I sat with Heiko (french toast and fried eggs) and had a gluten-free marionberry scone, while we showed off the baby to an elderly lady sitting near by.
4th Stop: The Healthy Bread Store (right across the street!)
I ran in while Heiko did a drive by (it was raining) and bought 2 loaves of day old Good Seed Bread (“say no to bread on drugs”) with a 2 for the price of 1 coupon.
5th Stop: Drive through Ladd’s Addition Neighborhood
Admired the rose gardens and gorgeous fall leaves.
6th Stop: Artichoke Music (Hawthorne)
Again a drive by for Heiko, while I went in a bought a rosin for my daughter’s violin practice; hers had broken. Used the 25% off coupon. Store with many beautiful folk instruments.
7th Stop: North Portland Wellness Center (North Portland)
It was now pouring, so we sat in the car for a bit while I fed the baby, then ducked into the Center, which is in a nicely restored Craftsman. I chose two scented handmade soaps with 2 coupons for free soap…mmm, the citrus scent smells so nice in my bathroom!
8th Stop: The Meadow
The Meadow has over 150 different kinds of sea salt from around the world; this is the largest collection of salts in the world to their knowledge. We sampled several, chose an economical grey salt for multipurpose cooking, and splurged on a bar of dark chocolate and a small bottle of flake salt for sprinkling.
Besides salt and chocolate, The Meadow sells only two other wares: wine and flowers. Salt, Chocolate, Wine, Flowers…somehow it all goes together, doesn’t it? As we checked out, I asked if they give birthday discounts (perhaps I wouldn’t have to break my rule…). No, but she she gave me a flower instead. How sweet! Love this shop.
9th Stop: Laughing Planet
Hungry for lunch, we walked 2 doors down to Laughing Planet, where the staff was having a scary costume contest (ugh…the one thing I don’t like about this time of year). But the Draper Valley roasted chicken burrito (Heiko) and bowl (me) were delicious and hit the spot. We sat by the window and watch a friendly old dog in the courtyard while other patrons admired our baby. Oh yeah, we used the 20% off 2 entrees coupon, and left the coupon for 2 smoothies for another patron.
10th Stop: Pharmaca (NW Portland)
Heiko strolled the baby while I chose eyeliner and lipliner pencils to replace the ones I’ve used up. Jane Iradale and Dr. Haushka brands respectively were the colors I liked best (after much debate), and I used the $5 off $20 purchase coupon.
11th Stop: Pottery Barn
After a parking change to avoid being ticketed, we browsed through Pottery Barn, an icon of eclectic and cozy decorating. I didn’t have a coupon for this store, but I had a gift card, which is even more fun. However, after browsing, I decided I’d rather wait for the after Christmas sale to redeem my gift.
12th Stop: Restoration Hardware (across the street)
And of course we always have to stop in here when in NW Portland: Heiko loves to look at all their do-dads and stocking stuffers. However, this year was a disappointment, as they have seriously cut down on the kitsch. And their looks has changed too: the sage walls and cream trim have been replaced with grey walls, ceiling, everything. Cool at first, and then the drab begins to feel depressing.
Of course there are several coffee shops right on 23rd Ave, but we went a couple streets over to get our late afternoon lattes at this place, since we had a 2 for 1 coupon with them. The Milky Way has almond and caramel syrups…yum.
14th Stop: Estate Sale
Lattes in hand, we ventured back into a few 23rd Ave. boutiques, then followed the hand written sign half a block to an estate sale. Found a great flat basket for gathering herbs (was told it is called a trug) for a few bucks (OK, no coupon, but it was still a great deal).
15th Stop: What’s Upstairs
Nice resale shop with a boutique feel on the top level of shops. The lady was kind to stay open a little longer while I tried on a cute top (25% off coupon).
16th Stop: Wild Wood Restaurant
White-linen restaurant with food that’s too gourmet for my husband (we had that discussion). He had the steak and I the quail; lovely flavors in sauces, veggies, and meat, on plates too large for the food (part of the definition of gourmet). Of course we used the 2 for 1 coupon for our entrees.
17th Stop: New Seasons Market
Heiko dropped me at the door to collect our free organic french baguettes and hand stuffed sausages (apple chicken feta, which was good, and Bratwurst, which was also good but still nothing like a true Bratwurst in Germany). 4 coupons redeemed.
Where 3 happy children in pajamas greeted me with birthday cards, and we all sat down to dark chocolate cake (GF) sprinkled with flake salt before sending the children to bed and playing pinochle with Keith and Sandy. Even though they beat us, it was still a fun ending to a great day!
*The Chinook Book offers some great money saving coupons. It costs $20, and I saved more than that in the first two purchases I made with coupons this spring (items I was purchasing anyway).