Call Wells Fargo, Another Warehouse Sale to Hit Your Debit Card This Weekend

 

OH. NO. Another warehouse sale this weekend, and this one is 3.5 hours CLOSER to home! Sadly, I think the old bank account cannot take another hit, but far be it from me to stand in your way from finding an awesome bargain or two.

I’ve been to several of these before, and it was nothing short of fabulous. Very good deals to be had. I’ve walked away with items from Tory Burch, DVF, Bettye Muller, Three Dots (love them for staples), and a $20, three strand pearl necklace from the 2009 sale that I wear all the time. Incidentally, my friend Laura found that necklace, turned it down, gave to me to buy, and she has regretted it ever since!

Some of the participating  boutiques include Hysteria, The Shoe Hive (where I got my Bettye Muller green patent leather peep toe flats in 2010), Periwinkle, and Current Boutique.   Here is the full list of participants. There are far more home and consignment stores this year than in the past, so it should have something for everyone.

Anyone planning to attend? Let me know what great bargains you come home with!

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Success at the J. Crew Warehouse Sale

My friend Sara and I headed to the J. Crew warehouse sale in Lynchburg, VA this past weekend to see what deals I could not live without. And, oh did we find some deals!

We left D.C. around 9:30am on Saturday morning and rolled into Lynchburg at 1pm. This is what we walked into.

warehouse

Hoards of crazy deal searchers wading through boxes that looked like this.

 

 

boxes

 

Clearly, this was not a sale for amateurs. We were greeted by staff at the door who handed us a trash bag and a price list. Everything was on sale, and I mean everything. If it wasn’t nailed down, you could buy it. There was no rhyme or reason to they way that things were organized, so finding items was based on sheer luck.

 

 

list

We started with the shoes and accessories, and then moved on to the clothes. We collected everything that we wanted and then found a quiet corner at the end to sort through our goodies (they didn’t want you to do this but we did it anyway to get organized). Once we finalized what we wanted to buy, we headed to check out. It only took 3.5 hours from start to finish. Obviously, you have to really want some deals to make this work for you, but I scored some great things for a fraction of the price. Consider me, one happy Discountess!

If you’re planning a trip to a warehouse sale soon, here are some things that helped us in our shopping quest. (You can also check out this helpful post or this one that I read before heading to the sale)

1. Dress appropriately. There are no dressing rooms, so wear layers and flats to make trying things on easier. Leave your coat in the car, and be sure to put on a cross body bag. It frees up your hands to find the best deals.

2. Inspect all your items. Look for holes, tears, and spots. No one has looked at these clothes in a while, so it’s up to you to make sure that you’re not getting a raw deal.

3. Ask yourself, do I really need it? I put back a gorgeous pair of flat, black suede boots that were on sale for $70. I would have loved them, but I already have a pair of black boots so I didn’t really need them. Taking inventory at the end helped me think things through and realize that I wanted to spend that $70 in another way.

4. Go with a friend. Sara and I navigated separately for the most part, but it was nice to have a sounding board to go through our items at the end. We also looked through the boxes with each other in mind. I found her a cute black dress, and she found me an awesome pair of gold studded flats. Now that’s team work!

This is what I got:

1 pair of pajamas

1 pair leather gloves

1 pair earrings

1 bracelet

2 pairs of shoes

1 gingham work shirt

1 blue button down shirt

2 belts

1 cashmere sweater

1 pair black cafe capri pants

2 skirts – one black and one grey metallic

1 green cotton shirt

1 cosmetic bag

1 leather pouch (for all my coupons, obvi!)

Check it out. Total spent: $213. Not bad, right??

loot2

 

 

The Great Oatmeal Challenge

Today is the start of the great oatmeal challenge. The Safeway currently has a special on Quaker Quick Oats for Just 4 U members–a whopping 42 oz. for $2.50. That’s a lot of oatmeal for not a lot of money, no? My goal is to see exactly how many breakfasts I can get out of that $2.50 canister.

Note: This is the part where my mom, who I might add fed us oatmeal for breakfast for YEARS on end, turns up her nose and starts talking about how gross it is. She’s lucky we didn’t feel the same way.

So,  starting today, I will eat oatmeal every morning (work week morning, that is, since I keep the canister at work) until my supply runs out.  Straight oatmeal for days on end might be a tall order, so I am planning on supplementing it with something to spice it up. Typically, I do a teaspoon of flax-seed (which gives it a nutty flavor) or some cinnamon with a splash of agave to sweeten it up. Today, I’m trying flax, strawberries, and agave. There is a whole list of ideas on the Quaker website. The PB&J recipe is a bit much (see below), but I’m sure there are others that I can tap into. Got any recipe ideas for me?

PBJOats

Wish me luck! I wonder how long this is going to take. Anyone care to wager a bet?

 

 

Home Waxing – A Cautionary Tale

Without my family’s annual winter beach vacation, I have been slacking off on – what I affectionately refer to as – routine maintenance. Part of it has been a time thing, part is a money thing (usually it’s about $50 a pop for a professional job), and part is just plain laziness.

But in the last few days, it’s started to get the better of me. My go-to salon for waxing is the Red Door Salon and Spa. They use a special kind of wax that doesn’t hurt as much (to me at least), so I’ve been a devotee for years. Plus, there is one near my office, so it’s super easy to pop out on my lunch break to take care of business.

But lately I have been really busy (and poor and lazy), so I haven’t been able to get over there. So, as I was perusing the aisles of Target this past weekend, I saw these wax strips and decided to give them a try (for a grand total of $6.99). I suppose I was feeling extra Discountess-like that day. A total savings of $43 – not bad, right?

Well now, with the full experience in the rear view mirror, I can safely say I was wrong. SO SO SO WRONG. This is not something you should do at home. AT ALL. It was awful. AWFUL! Here’s why:

1. It hurts. Of course, it hurts when a professional does it too, but something about the element of surprise when someone else does it makes it an easier pill to swallow.

2. It takes a while. What is normally a 15 minute blip in my lunch break took me 25 minutes to get it right (insert more pain here). Slow is definitely not the way to get this done.

3. Without a mirror and some serious acrobatics, you can’t entirely see what you’re doing. This is not a time for guesswork. Trust me. One misstep, and you guessed it, more pain.

4. Did I mention that you can seriously hurt yourself? Let’s just say, I managed to give myself some sort of bruise in the process. Enough. Said.

So for you Discountess readers who are looking to cut costs, my recommendation would be–cut elsewhere. This is an experience that even many professionals screw up, and I was no exception. I was too big for my britches. I failed, and I have a bruise to prove it.

Weekend J. Crew-sing in Virginia

It’s a big weekend for the preppy population of the mid-Atlantic region. It’s the semi-annual J. Crew Warehouse clearance sale in Lynchburg!

Jcrewclearancesale

 

You might think I’m crazy to drive 3.5 hours from D.C. to attend this fine event, but I assure you I’m not. This kind of sale is my JAM. We’re talking boxes of clothes and accessories to rummage through and shoes, lots and lots of shoes. The last time my friend Liz went she left with 6 new pairs of shoes for $30 a piece. I can’t wait to see what J. Crew treasures I’m going to come home with.

Wish me luck! I will report out on my finds next week. Anyone else going to be there with me?

Ooooh Ebay, You Are So Dangerous

I feel I need to come clean. I had a HUGE oops on Ebay this weekend. A friend turned me onto a sale happening featuring her favorite jewelry line, so I toodled on over to check it out. And that’s when I saw these.

I have recently been obsessed with Buddhas, so I just had to have them. My sincere thanks go to Discountess-enthusiast Heather for really making me think about whether I wanted them. She did a credible job trying to get me to think twice, but in reality the horse was out of the barn at that point. I was 2 hours away from the finish line and ensconced in a bidding war with someone who I was positive didn’t deserve them as much as I did. And so, I swooped in at the last moment with the final bid, and BAM, they were mine.

I was elated! But even better, I was able to stick within my budget for them (though it’s a big part of my monthly shopping budget..eeek!). Yes, they are unnecessary, but they are so, so awesome. Also, through somewhat careful planning, I was able to pay for them via PayPal (since this is no credit card month, that was a must).

So the good news is that my new years resolutions are still in tact, and my new earrings are on the way to me from London. Will let you know how awesome they are in person when they arrive!

Fringe Benefits

For the past several weeks, I’ve been in desperate need of a haircut. DESPERATE. I hadn’t had a cut since my Aveda Institute experience in October, so clearly it was time. Though I made it out of the Aveda Institute unscathed, I decided to try a slightly pricier, but still discount option.

Fringe Hair Studio is a wonky little salon within walking distance from my Georgetown pied-da-terre. I started going there after I became outraged at the unmemorable $90 haircut that my old salon gave me. Essam and his team are great. The place is understated, but the stylists know what they’re doing (unlike my friend from the Aveda Institute). And they are reasonably priced to boot!

I went to see Abbie last week to fix my sad situation. The Aveda cut ended up being a great one, but it had grown out too much. Abbie took the cut to the next level by adding more layers, so it has a bit more shape. Results are below (apologies for the sad photo – I’m terrible at self portraits).

haircut

Hair Cut: $55

Tip for shampoo: $5 (the man had magic fingers. MAGIC.)

Tip for the cut: $10

Total cost: $70

(Price differential between Aveda Institute is $56 – STEEP. But probably worth it for peace of mind, no?)

What do you think? Too expensive for what I got or is this the bargain of the century? I’m not above going to some other place that’s a better deal. Got an idea? Send it my way!

I Seriously Believe My Dry Cleaner is Ripping Me Off

Suffering from a severe lack of clothes, last night, I headed to my usual dry cleaner to do a drop off/pick up. When I got the bill, it was over $100!. Granted I had included a table-cloth that had a severe beating at my holiday fete, so that was almost half of it, but STILL that’s a lot of money!

Clearly, this caused me to look more closely at what I was being charged. After checking out the bill, I realized that they had been charging me $5.55 each for several “blouses” that I had in my stash. But, I didn’t have any blouses! I had a bunch of cotton work shirts that I love to wear around on weekend. I usually take them to the dry cleaners because I hate to iron (and I mean HATE it), so when I wash them at home I never get to it and then never wear them. A waste of money, no?

Anyway, I’ve seen said dry cleaner do a wash and iron for men’s shirts for almost half the price, so I asked them why they charged me more. According to the lady at the counter, my ladies shirts are too small for their ironing machine, so they have to hand press it.

I was outraged. There are small men! They get their shirts done at the dry cleaner for half price! Do they think I’m stupid or something? You tell me. What do you think the difference is between this men’s version:

 

and this?

NOTHING! My dry cleaner ripping me off because I’m a lady (and a lady only wears blouses, obvi). Bunch of sexists. They think I’m too dumb to notice.

Still outraged, I googled discount dry cleaning options in the D.C. area. Of course, there is Zips Dry Cleaners in Van Ness, where every garment is $1.99, but no other dry cleaners list prices online. Zips is great, but it’s a bit far away for me. If I struggle to get to my own neighborhood dry cleaners on a regular basis, it’s going to be even harder for me to get to one that’s 15 minutes away. This means, I’m going to have to shop around.

Does anyone else have a recommendation for a dry cleaners in Georgetown or Dupont that won’t overcharge for my basic wash and iron shirts? One that won’t assume that the lack of a Y chromosome means a lack of intelligence. Please comment and let me know!

 

Bargain Culture at the Phillips After 5

I’ve been trying to get to the Phillips after 5 for years now, but the timing has never worked. However, I vowed in my New Years resolutions to be better at trying some of the fun free (and/or discount) activities that Washington has to offer, so this seemed like a good first stop. The current exhibition is by Per Kirkeby – a Danish artist with a keen interest in geology that is reflected throughout his paintings.

I co-opted a good friend, who spent time in Copenhagen completing her Masters in Design from the Corcoran, to come with me. She and I rolled in to the gallery around 5:30 last Thursday, and it was already packed! I had no idea it was that popular. As a side note, you should check out her fabulous fabric collection. I’m particularly partial to this one that will be coming to a chair my living room in the near future.

We toured the gallery first, participated in the Lego challenge that was being run by the staff  (see my creation below), and then headed to the cocktail party.

lego

All-in-all I had a great time. If you are interested in attending in the future, here are all the things that you need to know about attending Phillips After 5.

1. Tickets should be purchased in advance. Tickets were $12, and available for purchase online. Apparently, the event often sells out, so definitely buy tickets in advance. Plus, it makes it easier to check in when you get there.

2. Drinks are not included. This was a bummer since I’d just shelled out 12 bucks to get into the place BUT since I am now a benevolent supporter of the arts, I got over it. Drink tickets were $5 for wine and beer. You could also get soft drinks for $2.50, but where’s the fun in that?

3. Dudes go. I was thinking that the ratio of women to men would be closer to 95:5, but I was totally wrong. For you single ladies, there were pretty good odds there. In fact, I ran into an old friend from high school who as there with a bunch of co-workers (all male), and apparently they go all the time. Very promising.

4. Good people watching. It was quite an eclectic conglomeration of people. Lots of first dates as well. I must admit those were pretty amusing to watch, especially the really weird matches. There was definitely a mom fix-up or two floating around.

5. Oh yeah, and there’s art. In addition to the exhibition, which I must admit was more lively and colorful than I was expecting, the Phillips has a lovely collection of modern art. The price of entry gets you into the general collection, so you are free to tour the other works they have. On Phillips after 5 days, they also have additional lectures and gallery talks, and even the occasional beer tasting!

Price of entry: $12.00

Wine: $5.00

Metro ride to the exhibit: $1.60

Ride home: Free (thanks to my fabulous aforementioned designer friend).

Total cost for a lovely, cultured evening out: $18.60

Breakfast of Champions

I hibernated at my mom’s house all weekend to help out with some things (very good for the old bank account). We found ourselves in need of breakfast on Sunday morning and without anything to cook. And then, I rediscovered Swedish Pancake, a family staple recipe clipped from Parade Magazine early in my childhood.  Not only is this dish easy to make (and I mean EASY), it is super Discountess-friendly. It uses ingredients that are regularly in anyone’s fridge and pantry, and it comes out looking like you are the chef at the Four Seasons (which, for the non-Discountess types, has a totally decadent brunch).

breakfast

Swedish Pancake

1 stick of butter

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. flour

2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Put the stick of butter in a cast iron skillet and place in the oven while it’s preheating. (Two notes: You can use a 9×13 pan too if you want it will just make a thinner pancake; Also, watch the butter to be sure it doesn’t burn). Whisk the eggs, flour, and milk together in a bowl until just blended. When the butter is melted and the oven is fully heated, add the mixture to the skillet. Cook for 12 minutes, until the pancake is puffed up and golden on top.

Serve hot with whatever you have. I used powdered sugar and berries. It’s also delicious with maple syrup or jam.

Perfect for a lazy Sunday or an impromptu brunch. Trust me, your guests will thank you.