Back in the day, as a single dad raising a daughter, every penny counted. Not that they don’t now, but back then—basically, the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s—they REALLY counted.
In order to avoid eating macaroni and cheese (the Kraft version cost 25 cents per box, as I recall) seven nights a week, my daughter and I got into what is now called “couponing.” We looked forward to Sunday mornings because that’s when we’d go buy the Sunday paper, take it home, and clip the various manufacturers’ coupons that could be found between the Sears and Bullock’s (R.I.P.) brochures.
Occasionally, I am not proud to admit, I’d “accidentally” take two papers from the coin-operated rack. We’d then have twice as many coupons to clip and use. My guilt was ever so slightly assuaged knowing that particular rack never ran out of papers; there always were one or two left come Monday morning. (Don’t ask how I came upon that bit of knowledge.)
Today, “couponing” is much more sophisticated. My daughter and I, in our separate households, still clip coupons…but we really don’t have to. There are numerous online sites that can do a lot of the work for us.
One that I like has a rather long but undeniably clever name: whosaidnothinginlifeisfree.com. Allow me to save your eyes some strain and translate: Who Said Nothing in Life Is Free. I use it almost every week, and while those pennies aren’t as precious as they once were, I’d still rather save them than spend them unnecessarily.
The mind works in strange ways, and for some reason, I thought of that site when reading about a special event being held this Wednesday (Aug. 1) at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo.
It’s the 2nd annual Wine and Wildflowers Garden Party, it runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m., and it features:
- Live music provided by the Bubbly Creek Bluegrass Band. Check out their version of the Traveling Wilburys’ “End of the Line” here.
- Five tasting stations offering mostly Southern fare, including fried green tomatoes, pulled pork barbecue sandwiches, shrimp, fried chicken and waffles, hushpuppies and more.
- A wide selection of wines, described by organizers as ranging from “fresh summery whites” to “richly decadent reds.”
The cost is $45 per person, and proceeds benefit horticulture efforts at the zoo, from the charming pink anemones to the golden sunflowers that hug the ponds.
So what does an event that costs $45 have to do with the concept of “free”? Well, throughout the year—all 365 days, and 366 this year—the Lincoln Park Zoo is absolutely free to visit. No admission fee is charged. Events like the Wine and Wildflowers Garden Party help make that possible.
So if you’re a wine lover who lives in the Chicago area, or will be visiting the Windy City this week, consider attending “Wine and Wildflowers.” It may not be free, but the price is reasonable, and the benefits derived from the event—the zoo’s beautifully maintained natural surroundings—are priceless.
Tickets must be purchased by today, and you can get them here.