Dates 1 – 10

Date 1: Pajama Party

On New Year’s Day, I woke up in horrific pain. No, it wasn’t a hangover; I had somehow managed to strain my lower back. So, our initial kick-off date (a long hike) had to be revised. We opted instead for a movie night pajama party at home. It’s been more than a year since we ditched our DVD player and stopped renting movies so this was a rare treat. We watch a lot of documentaries but very few Hollywood flicks, and after this, I know why! We rented Equalizer 2 and it was not great; however, the snacks and company were. Total cost: 99 cents.

Date 2: Love You With All My Heart

Good health is a key component of a happy life so this week’s date focused on putting our hearts in the right place. We started the day with an unhurried heart-healthy breakfast at Panera – Quinoa Almond Oatmeal, a fruit cup, and a banana. To keep it frugal, we brought our own banana and our own cup (with a tea bag inside). This was our first time to try their oatmeal (at $4.59 a bowl, restaurant oatmeal is quite an extravagance for us!) but it was a date, and it was delicious! Breakfast was followed by a visit to Sam’s Club, where they were hosting a free health fair for members. Angie’s numbers were perfect. I think everyone in the store heard it when her pharmacy tech exclaimed, “these are the best numbers I’ve seen all day”. I guess all that jumping around exercise pays off after all. I, on the other hand, could stand to do a bit more jumping. Let’s just say, there’s room for much improvement in the areas of cholesterol and BP. Though the numbers weren’t as great as I hoped, the date was, and it gives us something else to work on together. Total cost: $13.30.

Date 3: Bad Luck is Good for the Sole

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might think that the Universe is out to get us. Of our three dates so far, two have not gone as planned. This time it was a trip to the Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History that was thwarted by…of all things…our car! The battery died, which is not such a big deal, except that it died in my mom’s driveway in the middle of a rain storm. By the time we were able to swap it out, it was nearly 1 PM and the museum closes at 2 PM. We regrouped over lunch and decided on a Plan B date for the next day, brunch and indoor mini golf. But alas, when we woke up, it was snowing! Sure we can drive in the snow but who wants to?? So instead, we opted for a “spa date”. We made our own foot scrub, enjoyed a long relaxing foot soak, snacked on veggies, hummus, and mango smoothies (don’t let the cup fool you!), and watched a few tiny house/vanlife videos from the Youtube channel: Exploring Alternatives. At first, I was bummed by not “going out” but then Angie reminded me, it’s not about going out, it’s about spending time together. And that we did. Total cost: $0.

Date 4: We Rock!

Finally, a date that went as planned! Our library offers fun activities for all ages, most of which are free. This week, we visited the library for rock painting. People have been marking on rocks since the Paleolithic period but in recent years, it has become something of a popular pastime. We often find painted rocks while out on our walks and I believe you’re supposed to log them online (if they have a web address) or move them to a new location for someone else to find, but honestly, I don’t actually know. They just look cool and we wanted to paint one. So we did. Afterwards, we picked up our free pizza (courtesy of downloading the BOOST mobile app) from Papa John’s and headed home for lunch. Total cost: $3.47 (for the extra toppings).

Date 5: You Have a Glow About You

This week’s date was filled with new experiences, starting with lunch at First Watch. We had never been there, but at some time, I must have signed up for their birthday club because they sent me a coupon for a free entree. First Watch prides themselves on using fresh ingredients and they did not disappoint (though I could have used fewer onions). Angie and I both had the veggie burger, topped with smashed avocado. In all my life, I have never eaten an avocado. Once, I stuck my tongue to a chip with guacamole on the end but I never really tasted it. Now I have, and I can honestly say that I don’t see a lot of avocado toast in my future. Sorry avocado fans! After lunch, we went to Holder Family Fun Center – another place we’d never been before (though we have visited their bowling alleys) – to play a round of glow golf. I imagine that we’ll probably go back there again. They have a skating rink, bumper cars, old-school arcade games, and more. They even have the clown game we fell in love with on our last cruise. Yes, we really are just kids in larger packaging. Following our golf tournament, which I won, by the way, we went for a walk in the park. Total cost: $21.80.

Date 6: Shopping Just Ain’t What it Used to Be!

Can we skip dates after they start?” That was the question that I asked Angie as we sat in the library parking lot eating a veggie sub from Speedway on Saturday afternoon. The sun was shining but it was a crisp 45 degrees outside and our date, thus far, had gone nowhere near how we planned it. FarmFest, an event we go to every year and love, was a bit lackluster. Maybe it was the lack of vendors or participants. Maybe it was the fact that our favorite CSA was not there and as far as we know, is not offering service in our area this year. Maybe it was us. Neither of us could put our finger on why, but we both felt out of sorts being there…so we went thrift store shopping instead. Or so we intended. We always buy a pair of “yard” shoes at the thrift store just before garden season starts and part of our date was going to be shoe shopping. We tried, really we did, but our heart wasn’t in that either. So we went for a walk – a very long walk -instead. Total cost: $5.45 (for the sandwich).

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Date 7: Olympic-sized Fun

When we lived in Florida, Angie and I would go to our apartment’s pool every morning at 10 AM. We’d swim (or pretend to swim) for a while and then sit in the hot tub. We loved it. The first year that we were here, we joined our community center to use the pool year-round. We went maybe 10 times, hardly enough to justify the $480 annual fee. We’ve since learned that you don’t have to be a member to use the facility. To walk the track is $1 per person/day. To swim, it’s $5 per person/day. So for this week’s date, we went swimming. On Wednesday morning, we found ourselves alone in the Olympic-sized pool. We swam, we attempted water aerobics, and we sat in the hot tub. Total cost: $10.

Date 8: Tiny Tot Play Date

It’s a rare treat to get to spend the day with one of our favorite people in the whole world – our great-niece. We picked up our little tag-along on Saturday morning, with plans to go to the park for a picnic and a few hours of play, before heading to Nanny’s house for dinner. But…the weather had other ideas. Not to be deterred, the little one made a suggestion of her own. She wanted to go to the “big green slide”. After consulting Google, we found the slide at McDonald’s. Have you ever taken your own picnic INSIDE a restaurant? Angie and I did. Addison insisted on a Happy Meal with apple slices, which she ate in shifts, between running up and down the slide and entertaining a teenage couple on a lunch date with her free toy. 2 hours of fun cost us just $3.28.

Date 9: The Anywhere Drive-In

Believe it or not, there’s still a drive-in movie theater in our area. On weekends, it shows a family-friendly double-feature. When I was a kid, the cost was $5/car and you could bring food in with you. Today, tickets are $5/person and you can’t bring in outside food (not legally, that is). We’ve talked about going there but never have. Still haven’t. Instead, we created our own version of a drive-in theater this week. The cost was $0/person and outside food was not only allowed, it was expected. Since giving up our home internet, we’ve missed a few of our favorite shows (like How to Get Away with Murder). For date day, we drove to a shady spot (with free wi-fi) and propped a Kindle up on the console to catch a few episodes on Hulu. For our snack, we split a free chocolate croissant from Panera (courtesy of Panera Rewards). Total cost: $0

Date 10: Letterboxing and a Luau

Letterboxing is one of our favorite hobbies. We’ve pretty much exhausted all the clues in our area so we decided to take a day trip to Leiper’s Fork, TN (a quaint little village near Franklin). Leiper’s Fork is adjacent to the Natchez Trace Parkway, which is a great road trip in and of itself. We drove the 444-mile scenic route from Nashville to Natchez, MS in 2015. But I digress…we had a fun day finding 10 letterboxes in Leiper’s Fork, along the Natchez Trace, and in Franklin before stopping for dinner at L&L Hawaiian Grill. Total cost = $23.06.

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