Friday, February 11, 2011

I won a party...

Did you know you can win a party and host one every week?

As a consumer reporter, I've seen these promotional parties mentioned on coupon blogs and money saving websites rather frequently. I've even applied to win a few of them. You can check out to sign up to host a party featuring DiGiorno pizza or Charmin toliet paper. Zattarans is hosting a big one right now for Mardi Gras.

Well, I won one. A Coffeemate party. When I found out I won, I had to email invitations within three days, I had to host a party on Free Flavor Friday and and I had to hand out free Coffeemate coupons. Since I won a bistro baking party, I had to bake something too. I got loot like a free silicone pan to make heart-shaped muffins, a Coffeemate apron, a nice leather recipe binder, recipe cards, instant coffee, powdered Coffeemate, and of course coupons for free Coffeemate. We drink A LOT of Coffeemate in our house and considering I won't have to buy it for another 6 months...that's pretty cool.

Why do companies do this? It's an interesting marketing technique that tries to take advantage of word of mouth. If you invite some friends over and share your experience with a particular brand, that message will probably mean a bit more than a random television commercial or magazine ad.

My coworkers sure appreciated the early morning breakfast, coffee, and break.... I got to bring in a local expert and talk about promotional parties.... and we got free stuff. What's not to like?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The ice dams cometh...and bringeth Minnesota Nice

It has been a bizarre winter. We've gotten our fair share of snow and ice. We've had quite a stretch of sub-zero temperatures. We've also had our first encounter with ice dams.

At first we thought the icicles were beautiful and fun. They kept growing until they looked like something out of a Dr Seuss book. But then, I felt wet carpet and they didn't look so fun anymore.

It was a normal night and I was bathing Jack. I happened to look outside of the bathroom for no particular reason and I spotted a brown spot on the ceiling. The carpet below was a bit wet. Uh-oh. I finished bathing Jack and getting him into his pajamas and every time I passed by the brown spot would grow larger. As I got Jack down for the night, the spots grew before my worried eyes.

I put down towels. I called Dave. I started looking everywhere for more brown spots. Our foyer ceiling was becoming a dripping bowl.

That's when the best rendition of Minnesota Nice I've ever seen stepped in. At 10:30pm, our neighbor had just got home from his son's hockey game and came over with a roof rake to get the snow and ice off our roof. A roof rake is exactly what it sounds like.... a rake with a super-long handle so you can pull the snow off your roof while your feet are on the ground. Our trusty neighbor did a pretty good job of raking while wading through the four foot-plus drifts of snow that surround our house.

The next morning a father-in-law of a co-worker showed up and got his crew on our roof to get all the ice off. They had another job but stopped by before and after to clean off our roof. For free.

An ice dam happens when heat escapes from your house and melts the snow on top of it. The runoff forms an icicle coming off your roof, but eventually freezes, and dams up....until the melting snow has no where to fall. So the water seeps under your shingles and into your house.

I've done stories on the ice dam companies. This year they are raking it in... not just ice, but cash. One company I called said they weren't answering the phone anymore because they were too busy. If they do come out, it's 400-bucks an hour. And a minimum 2-3 hour job.

Now, our ceilings have dried and we now own a roof rake that Dave regularly uses. We will wait and cross our fingers until spring to see if there's any permanent damage. The best part of this experience was the genuine concern and help from our friends and neighbors. It was so nice... I guess.... Minnesota nice.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Remembering the joy of snow days

We don't get snow days here. When it snowed 16 inches in a blizzard, several things got canceled. But normally, we don our wool socks, our hand warmers, our long underwear, and inch to work in a snow-induced traffic jam anyway.

A friend of mine posted this great video on her blog. It reminds me of the joy snow days used to hold.

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