An Ode to Craigslist

Have you ever heard of the blog, Listed District? It’s where blogger Ellen Richardson, who has been profiled in Refinery29 and Urban Turf and others, lists out her favorite Craigslist finds from the D.C. area.

I have long been a proponent of Craigslist shopping and selling. In fact, in true Listed District style, I listed my vintage bar cart for sale just yesterday. She’s a beauty, no?

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I’ve wheeled more cocktails around in this cart than I care to remember. It’s been my staple party service since 2006. I’m sad to see her go, but there is no room for her in the new apartment. I’m hoping she finds a good, cocktail-loving home.

By far, my most perfect Craigslist score is my couch. I bought it for $150 when I moved into my first apartment, and it’s been with me ever since. It’s the perfect apartment size couch. Big enough to lie down on (though my feet do pop off the ends), but small enough to not overpower the room.


It even came already covered in the adorable black and white fabric! It was the best $150 I ever spent. Hands down.

With the move this week, I’m not looking to add any new items to my ever-growing pile of stuff. However, I couldn’t help taking a quick look at CL to see what gems were lurking out there.

Check out this fun metal shelf.

I love this mirror too. Admittedly, I’m a little obsessed with mirrors. They help add some dimension to my mini Georgetown apartment. I own at least 6.

This vintage leather coffee table would be great with some leather conditioner, a new piece of hardware, and a fresh coat of  white paint. Perfect for a sunny room!

What about you? What’s your favorite Craigslist score?

Spotlight on: Trader Joe’s Bath and Body

Recently, my friends Regan and Katie from Cardigans and Couture, posted about their go-to Trader Joe’s food recommendations. As a frequent TJ’s shopper, I couldn’t agree more with their recommendations (though I might add this and these to the list), but it also got me thinking about all of the bath products that I use from Trader Joe’s. Here’s what I’d add to their list from the TJ’s “beauty department.”

I keep this hand soap in my kitchen at all times. It’s smells great, and it lasts forever. Don’t believe me? Here’s a great review from the I’m A Trader Joe’s Fan blog.

Speaking of lavender, this all-natural scrub is great for the shower. I use it after shaving to get really smooth, soft skin. Joluxe blog happens to agree with me.

Since we’re talking about shaving, I highly recommend the honey mango shave cream from TJ’s. It’s gentle on skin, smells great, and you don’t have to deal with a rusty can of shaving cream crudding up your tub! Check out what the gloss has to say on the subject.

This is my most recent TJ’s discovery, and I’m totally in love! It gives your scalp a tingly feeling when you’re using it, and doesn’t cause unnecessary buildup. At $3.99 a pop, it’s well worth the price. Urban Bush Babes put together a great review. Oh, and there’s conditioner too!

What about you? Have any items to add to this list?

I bought a house!

…and by house, I mean condo. After months of searching and several failed attempts at other offers, I was finally successful. I closed over the weekend, and I am now officially a homeowner!

It’s not much to look at now, so no pictures yet. But here are the vital stats:

  • One bedroom in the heart of Dupont Circle
  • 24 hour door person. No more packages being sent to the mailroom at work.
  • A block from the metro and a 15 minute walk to work (oh, and basically a 15 minute walk to everywhere else!)
  • Older kitchen, but it has brand new appliances, including a gas stove. I have been waiting years for a gas stove again!
  • Five, yes that’s right, FIVE closets.

Oh, and did I mention, there’s a pool on the roof?? See for yourself…

I’m in heaven!

I’m starting minor renovations this week to get the place in tip-top shape before I move in. More to come on that in the next few weeks.

Get ready for the Discountess to kick it into high gear this fall. Homeownership and renovations aren’t cheap! Still, I’m very excited, so I’m going to focus on that for the time being. Wahoo!

Gettin Gin-ny With It

Ok, lame title, but I couldn’t think of a better way to describe how I spent last Saturday. I recently found out that Washington has it’s very own gin distillery, New Columbia Distillers. People have been talking about the craft breweries that have been popping up around town, like this one, this one, and this one, but I only just discovered the gin.

Not only do I love a good G+T on a hot summer day, it should also be noted that as a native Washingtonian, I get really excited when we attract new, different businesses in this town. Living in a city that’s entirely centered around the government is super boring, so I love that people are diversifying the economy here. They are breathing much-needed new life into the city and making it a little cooler and more fun to live here. Way to go, New Columbia!

Anyway, I got on the Green Hat Gin website (that’s their brand) a few weeks ago to see what it’s all about. Upon quick inspection, I found out that you can sign up to volunteer to help them bottle on weekends. It’s free to volunteer, and you know I need weekend activities that don’t involve me spending money. Clearly, I was intrigued, so I signed up online and last weekend my number got called.

It’s a pretty easy process, and they let you do a little bit of everything. It took about 2 hours, but it went by quickly because they gave me a few gin and tonics for my trouble. Not too shabby!

The whole volunteer process starts with what they call the gin cow. That huge silver canister to the left is full of gin, and they raise it up so that it drips into the machine with the funny looking udders below.

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Once the cow is full, then it’s go time. We dispensed the gin into the bottles, corked it, labeled it, and sealed it to go off to be sold.

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Here I am in the final step of the process, blow-drying the plastic top onto the bottle. Notice the beads of sweat on my brow, I was working hard!

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And, here is the finished product from my batch. If you happen to pick up a bottle from batch 43, you’ll know it was hand bottled by yours truly (and a band of other volunteers).

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The lovely owners gave us a discount on our work, so I took home a bottle for safe keeping. I was thinking of using to make this punch that I had at a party a few weeks ago. Or, I could try my hand at some of these.

So how about it? Have any of you had my hometown gin before?

The Ultimate Condiment: Caramelized Onion Jam

Every other week, I get a delivery of local fruits and vegetables from Washington’s Green Grocer. They deliver in-season fruits and veggies year-round and straight to your door. It’s a total indulgence, but I have loved doing it. (Incidentally, their website has a great blog and a whole host of yummy recipes for using their deliveries in the right way)

The issue I have about using the Green Grocer is trying to figure out how to use the entire contents of the box each week. It can be tricky, but I hate throwing away food so I try to get creative. Recently, they’ve been big on onions, so this past weekend, I took advantage of the rainy Sunday to make caramelized onion jam.

The beauty of this stuff is that it’s good on everything and it keeps for weeks. You can use it to top chicken or pork, add it to softened cream cheese and serve it with crackers for an hors d’oeurve, toss it in chicken salad, or my personal favorite, add it to a grilled cheese sandwich. Total perfection.

It does take a while, but you don’t have to pay much attention to it so you can get other things done. I highly recommend it. Here’s the recipe (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen).

Caramelized Onion Jam

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 pounds onions, halved and sliced through root end into ¼-inch-thick pieces
Salt and pepper
¾ cup dry red wine
½ cup water
⅓ cup sugar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar (preferably aged/good quality)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

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Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place the rack to lower-middle portion. Spray the inside of Dutch oven with vegetable oil spray.  Add oil and heat until it shimmers. Stir in onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover, put the pot in the oven, and cook for 1 hour. (The onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume.)

Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot. Return pot to oven, partially covered, and continue to cook, until onions are dark golden brown, about 1½ to 1¾ hours. Stir the onions and scrape bottom and sides of pot about every 30 minutes to ensure they cook evenly. Transfer onions to cutting board, let cool slightly, and then chop into rough 1-inch pieces.

Put the chopped onions back into the dutch oven, stir in wine, water, sugar, vinegar, and thyme to deglaze the pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until liquid is reduced and rubber spatula or wooden spoon leaves distinct trail when scraped across bottom of saucepan, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Transfer jam to jar with tight-fitting lid, let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. The jam can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.

Here is the finished product. It’s hard to imagine that all of those onions are jammed into this one little jar (no pun intended…well, maybe a little).



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There are a million variations to this recipe, so you can feel free to experiment as you like. Here are some other versions to get you started – try this from the Green Grocers site, this one from Oh Cake that uses sweet and regular onions , or this one which uses bourbon to add the sweet, tart flavor.

A Weekend Experiment in Hybrid Living

I have always driven old, foreign cars. I’ve gone from a gas guzzling Volvo to a glorified Honda wind-up toy. I’m currently driving a 15 year-old BMW that I bought for its automatic windows last year. Clearly, the idea of having a new car is somewhat…well…foreign to me.

So, when Ford recently reached out to offer me a new car for the week, I decided to see what a new, American car had to offer. Being the Discountess, I requested a hybrid to see what all the hubbub was about. Plus, I wanted to make that free tank of gas last all week (and last it did!)

Now, when someone offers you a spanking new (and bright blue, I might add) C-Max for the week, it’s only natural to take a road trip. So last weekend, some friends and I tested out the open roads in my new car. Meet the “boo berry,” our sweet ride.

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The purchasing budget for the weekend was $200. Our destination – the new and improved J. Crew outlet. The new location is twice the size, and therefore has twice the deals. Yes, please! We used the Sirius satellite radio to pump ourselves up for the savings.

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The new store was even bigger and better than I had imagined.



Yet, we each managed to stick to our respective budgets (total miracle). Here’s all of our loot.



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I got a dress, two skirts, a bracelet, a silk blouse, and a pair of pants for $148.36, approximately $52 under budget. Wahoo! I decided to use that $52 of savings to buy my groceries for the week on the way home. There is a Wegman’s right before you get on to 66, so we pulled in to check it out.


Wegman’s is like an amusement park for people who love the grocery store (and I LOVE the grocery store). You could get lost in there, seriously. Somehow, I managed to keep it in check, and I walked out with $47 worth of groceries for the week.

Weekend expenditures:
Clothes: $148.36
Groceries: $47.00
Gas: $0 (!!)

Total: $195.36. Not bad if I do say so myself.

And, the best part is that I arrived home, after putting 400+ miles on the car, with just over a quarter tank of gas. That’s some pretty awesome gas mileage. I’m not in the market for a new car now, but I will say that driving this car made a pretty convincing argument for buying a hybrid when it’s time.

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to the boo berry last week, but we’ll always have our road trip memories together…


Looking for a Wine Down

Last week, a friend and I were catching up over drinks. We were in search of a D.C. restaurant that offers half-price wine night. And on a Wednesday night, that’s a tough ask! I decided that I would start a handy list of half-price wine nights for all of you who want to drink in style, on the cheap.

I feel that it’s important to stipulate the two criteria I used to craft this list, so you understand how I determined what should and shouldn’t be included.

  1. It has to be an ALL night wine night. Half-price wine until 7 is happy hour, and in my book, it doesn’t count.
  2. Also, it has to be *somewhat* fancy. I’m not talking Citronelle (may she rest in peace), but it does have to have some ambiance. After all, if you want to go to BlackFinn, you should just drink beer. Period.

So here’s what I’ve found so far.

Sunday (for the “I don’t want my weekend to end” type person)

Clydes in Georgetown has half price wine all day.

BlackJack on 14th street has happy hour all day – food and drink specials to boot!


Veritas in Dupont Circle (they do it on Sunday as well).

Dino in Cleveland park has “wine madness” on Sundays and Mondays – 33% off all wines 50 or more.  

Chef Geoff’s  has half price all night on Mondays in both their downtown and Wesley Heights locations.

I’m making an exception to the rules to include Circa in Dupont because I love that place. They have half price wine until 9pm, so it’s a little better than your ordinary happy hour.

Peacock Cafe in Georgetown has half price all bottles all day. They continue the special with select bottles on Tuesdays as well.


A personal favorite – St. Arnold’s Mussel Bar – has half price wine and appetizers all night. Cleveland Park location only.

Town Hall in Glover Park is another Tuesday night option.


Paolo’s in Georgetown. Half price off their whole list, all night.

Cleveland Park Bar and Grill does the same thing. Check out their wine list to strategize your purchase.

Policy on 14th street has half price wine all night.

Friday and Saturday 

Bobby Van’s on New York Avenue has half price bottles on Friday and Saturday nights. SAY WHAT? No one EVER has drink specials on the weekend. This is a great find!

I could not for the life of me find anything on Thursday night. That’s not entirely surprising, but now that I found out that I can drink on the cheap at Bobby Van’s on Friday and Saturday nights, I’m thinking all bets are off!

As far as I’m concerned, this is a running list. Are there any of your favorites that I’ve missed? Let me know!

Getting in the Auto Zone…Again

Had more adventures with my car this week. I recently discovered that my hazard lights no longer work. Just after that, the car lock remote stopped working and the internal locking system followed suit.

It should be noted that until last year, I the car I drove was a glorified wind up toy. So when I was told that I needed to find the electrical panel to see of a fuse was blown, clearly I was confounded. Luckily, I made a swift recovery, and figured out where it was with the help of my friend Sara.

Of course, we had no idea how to tell which fuses worked and which didn’t, and I wasn’t about to try. I headed to the AutoZone in Alexandria on Sunday afternoon to see if they could help. That’s when I met St. Lemus of the automobiles. See below.


Well, actually, his name was just Lemus, but he was a saint to me. He came out and helped me figure out which fuses (2) were busted and then helped me replace them.


It turns out fuses are pretty cheap! I got a value pack for $7.99 plus tax, and it even included a fuse tester (that’s the yellow thing). We used a handy-dandy little guide from the box in my car to get the right fuses in their place. In 30 minutes, I was out the door with a working car remote.

Unfortunately, the hazards still aren’t working, so I’m going to need to tackle that this week. I think it might be a wiring problem. Not sure that I can figure this one out on the cheap, but I’m going to try! Any ideas on where to start??

Happy Birthday, iTunes!

I tend to be a sporadic iTunes checker these days. I got really excited when I brought home my first iPad and downloaded all kinds of crazy stuff only to realize I had no idea what I owned. Needless to say, I dialed back the purchases.
But, last night a friend tipped me off that iTunes was celebrating its 5th birthday this week. Apple is offering free apps to the masses to commemorate the occasion. My friend said it was mainly games, but I decided to check it out anyway and I’m glad I did. They are offering some gold mines in there! My favorite score: the iPad version of How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. It’s normally a $10 app (and $20 if you want the book version from Amazon), but for me, it was FREE.
For those of you who don’t know, I have a healthy obsession with Mark Bittman. He’s the lead food columnist for the New York Times. He’s a great cook (and dare I say, a great American!). I’m currently trying to live a VB6 lifestyle which he details in his latest book. I also love his Kitchen Express (a great purchase for people who have a fridge full of food and no idea what they are going to do with it). I have been meaning to pick up HTCE for a while, but I have no space for it in my tiny apartment (and no dollars to buy it either). Clearly, the cooking Gods smiled on me today!
In addition to my great find, iTunes is also offering a DJ app, which I downloaded to see of I can up my cool factor, and a map app with details on all the countries around the world. Oh, and there are games too. Lots and lots of games. It’s definitely work checking out.
Happy birthday, iTunes! I’ll be sure to bake you a cake from my new cook book.