Last April I received an email from Beth Davis at Mountain Lake PBS. There was no text in the body of the email. The subject line read, “Call me” with Beth’s phone number. What a mystery! Of course, I called Beth right away.

The news was beyond my wildest dreams. I won Mountain Lake PBS’s dinner of the month raffle: twelve $100 gift certificates to the best restaurants in the region. That’s a free high-class dining experience every month for an entire year for those of you reaching for a calendar and a calculator. Or a straight up jackpot of meals for a frugal woman who can stretch a dollar, especially $1,200 free ones.

How many times last year did my boyfriend, Buck, and I look at each other and decide we weren’t going to cook? At least a dozen. Our year of free dining went something like this, and it’s not done yet. We rediscovered Mickey’s 2.5 times where they have fresh bread, great staff and giant portions. $100 at everyone’s favorite Anthony’s turned into at least two weekday lunches and a light supper. A night out in Lake Placid started at Smoke Signals with my two best friends from high school and their kids and ended at Ben and Jerry’s (not included in the raffle, hint, hint, PBS). If you go to Smoke Signals, get the pulled pork nachos—the large portion. With $100 from Irises, I treated co-workers to lunch from Delish and still had enough left over for a Saturday night dinner including a round of drinks for friends at the bar who were celebrating their anniversary. At a late summer evening dinner at Latitude 44, I ordered filet mignon. (I had been a vegetarian for six years before this life-changing win.) We headed to the Deer’s Head Inn in Elizabethtown for Buck’s birthday in September, with his parents, and ordered one of each appetizer. We still dream about the Brussels sprouts with preserved lemon—order two portions! A birthday celebration with a dear friend and her soon-to-be husband happened at the Hungry Trout, amazing wine may have tipped us over $100 there.

All of this fun and we still have four more restaurants to visit, because most of the generous businesses that donate let you use their gift certificates anytime during the year. $800 down and we still have $400 worth of delicious experiences and memories to make… or eat. All because I supported Mountain Lake PBS with a $20 ticket. Don’t delay! Get your 2019 Dinner of the Month raffle tickets today!