This Week from Around the Web

Greetings from cold and rainy Washington! I’ve been slacking lately, but only in posting, not reading. So, I thought  would share my favorite Discountess-friendly posts from around the web this week.

This is my inspiration for retiring early. Talk about extreme savings! This is definitely what I’m striving for…but it doesn’t seem to be working this well.

I’ve been dying for an Hermes bangle for AGES. I have an orange and gold one all picked out, but sadly, I’m out of the many hundreds of dollars I need to buy one. This might help satiate my needs for a little bit longer.

 

This story makes me want to track down my long-lost Aunt Mildred to see if she has been holding out on the family. Oh and in this version, she’s french.

Check out this blog on the worst rooms for rent in New York. I might not own a house yet, but I’m so glad I don’t have to live in one of these places while I wait.

Hope everyone enjoys this trip around the world wide web. Happy Sunday everyone!

 

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Dry Cleaning That Won’t Clean You Out

ZIPS copy

This weekend, Zips changed my budgeting life. No. Joke.

I realize I wrote about my dry cleaner ripping me off quite a while ago, but due to various factors (primarily laziness), I didn’t try a different option. Until now.

I headed to Zips on a recommendation from a friend. MAN, what a difference! The aforementioned laziness had also contributed to a huge stockpile of dry cleaning, so by the time I managed to make it over there I had 16 items. Eek. In the old days, that would have meant that I would be bracing myself for a bill that was well over $100. But, not at Zips! My 16 items included 13 full service dry cleaning items and 4 shirts that needed a wash and iron. For all that, my grand total bill was $31.84 (paid in cash, up front). Ah-ma-zing.

To give you a frame of reference, I went and picked up the last of my dry cleaning from my old place right after I left Zips. I had three items –  1 dress, 1 sweater, and 1 pair of pants – that cost me a total of $24.31.

Say what??? For an extra, $7.53 at Zips, I got 13 more items done.

Consider me a changed woman.

Make Your Own Microwave Popcorn

This fabulous snack suggestion comes from my cousin who runs an adorable Bed and Breakfast in Jericho, Vermont.  Incidentally, her brother was our tour guide during our recent trip to St. John. I guess that side of the family digs the hospitality business.

Anyway, her suggestion is something that I’ve actually done before – not only to save money but also to have a diet-friendly snack food on hand at home. I crave salty snacks so homemade microwave popcorn really hits the spot and isn’t as bad for you as potato chips.

All you have to do is buy a set of brown lunch bags and a pack of popcorn kernels (I get bags of it in the bulk aisle at the Safeway). I put about 2 tablespoons of kernels in the bag, folder over the top a few times, and toss it in the microwave for about a minute and a half. The same microwave popcorn cooking rules apply here – if the popping noise starts to space out  then it’s probably done. Keep a misto sprayer on hand for when it’s done. I usually do a couple of sprays and add some seasoning. My favorite is Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning, but you can do all kinds of things.

Thanks to my darling cousin for doing the math. Here is the budget breakdown.

Total cost to purchase some chemical-laden Orville Redenbachers: $5.59 for 10 packs

Total cost for the homemade version:
1 pack of brown lunch bags, $1.29
1 package of popcorn kernels, $1.99

For a grand total of 50 servings at $0.06 a serving.

In her own words: Ba da bing, good, low-fat popcorn. Thanks for the suggestion!

Have any other Discountess (and diet) friendly snack ideas? Send them my way!

Crawfish Boil Cornbread

This weekend was my friend Dave and Sarah’s annual crawfish boil.  For those of you who have never been to a crawfish boil before, this is what it looks like.

Dave and Sarah had those suckers shipped in from Louisiana. This thing is no joke. We had 4 pots that looked just like this. It’s seriously a full-time job to get everything cooked.

Anyway, they always do such a great job with the party, so I wanted to bring them something to contribute. I went to my cupboard to see what I could come up with, and I decided on cornbread. Not only did I own all the ingredients, but I thought it would be a good complement to the crawfish. And, if we’re being totally honest, a little extra bread product is good to have at these things. You don’t really get a full meal from the boil, so the beer (or in my case, mint juleps) tends to catch up with you.

I adapted a recipe from one of my many Junior League cookbooks. It was a hit, especially with the kids who couldn’t handle the spice in the boil. I even had disposable tin pans to bake it in, so I didn’t have to worry about clean up! Double bonus.

Here’s the recipe.

Cornbread

1 1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 sticks of butter (12 Tbsp), melted and cooled
1 1/2 c. milk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together. Beat the eggs lightly, add the butter and blend. Stir in the milk.

mix

Add the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. You can do this with a whisk, no fancy beater needed! Dump the mix into a buttered baking dish (I cheated and used Bakers Joy to grease the pan cause I’m lazy).

cornbread

Bake for 30 minutes (but start to watch it after 25, so it doesn’t get dry). Serve hot or cold. Crawfish optional.