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?

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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!

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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.

Wednesday

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!

Destination: Frederick, Maryland

Last weekend, I went with my friend Mary to pick up some furniture she bought in Frederick, Maryland. Aside from a wedding shower a million years ago, I have never really been to Frederick, and frankly never thought I wanted to. I didn’t really know what to expect, but what we found was a cute little town filled with antiques shops and boutiques.

Our first stop when getting to town was Emporium Antiques on East Patrick Street.

This place was amazing. Ah-MA-zing. It’s the kind of place where you can pick up a dining room table, vintage fascinator, a tea-pot, and dress form all at once. There was one table that was filled to brim with silver plate forks and spoons. No joke.

I could have spent HOURS in there.  Basically, it’s heaven. I did manage to make one small purchase. I have been looking for a small foot stool for my living room for a while, so when I came across this bad boy I knew it had to come home with me.

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I’m going to have it recovered eventually, but I’m going to have to wait for the next paycheck for that one. Recovering furniture is not Discountess-friendly.

Anyway, after Mary dragged me out of Emporium Antiques, we went down the street to this cute shop called Silk and Burlap. She had some adorable lemon yellow garden chairs there waiting for her, and this was waiting for me (sadly, it’s still waiting there cause I had no business spending $350 on a dress – boo). I would have been better served to pick up a more wallet friendly option at the neighboring, Chic to Chic, consignment shop, but we didn’t have time to go. That is definitely on the list for next time!

If you’re looking for a some additional info on what to see and do in Frederick, Washingtonian did a good write up last year. We had to cut our visit short since duty was calling back in DC, but I’m definitely planning another trip out this summer. Hopefully, one that will end with a meal here. (I love me some Top Chef!)

Any other stops that I should make when I head out there? Send them my way!

 

Reconnecting with an Old Friend – The D.C. Public Library

Courtesy of the original Discountess (i.e. my mom), I am the proud owner of a new Kindle Paperwhite.  I got it for Christmas, but had to finish out my regular paper books before I could really embrace it. Thankfully, my recent flight to California took care of my last actual book, so I could really start enjoying my Kindle.

Mom gave me a book on the kindle to get me started which I have been mowing through on my daily bus ride. Naturally, I was concerned about what to do when I finish. Much to my horror, the cost to buy a book on kindle is about the same as buying an actual book. WHAT? There are no printing costs! Clearly, the Discountess can not throw away all her shopping money fleshing out her e-library. Someone told me that the library will actually let you borrow e-books for your Kindle, so I decided that was the best course of action and went about figuring out how to do it this week.

This is the Georgetown library. It’s where I went when I was 4 or 5 to get my very first library card. I thought I’d have to go in to get a card, but a little online research revealed that I could sign up for my card online.  I haven’t had a library card since I was a kid! I was slightly worried about the sign up process because I checked out a book for a middle school science paper, lost it in my house, and then found it when I moved home after college. I returned it , of course, but was worried that the system had me flagged and I would have to pay $1,000 worth of late fees. Lucky for me, the process went off without a hitch – no late fee payment required. Phew!

They sent me an email immediately with a customer login and pin code, so I could start searching right away. The book download process was pretty convoluted, so it took a good old-fashioned phone call to the branch librarian to figure out how to do it.

He told me that they get 30% of the best seller titles in an e-version. Not the best selection, but better than buying all those books from Amazon. He also said that if I don’t finish my book in the 3 weeks I’m allotted, I can renew it online. Pretty cool! I downloaded the Tiger’s Wife, which I’ve heard good things about, and saved myself the $11.99 that it would have cost me to purchase it from the Kindle store. I feel like a literary champion.

Now all I need is some new book recommendations. Any ideas?

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!

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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?

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.

Splurge vs. Save – Hair Care

 vs. 

I just ran out of my Moroccan oil. A friend of mine turned me onto using it about a year ago. I love the effect. It makes my hair shiny, smooth, and really, really soft. BUT, it costs $35+ a bottle. Granted it takes several months to get through a bottle, but that’s still pricey.

So I went in search of an alternative and found Organix Penetrating Moroccan Argan Oil (Light) for $7.99 on my favorite website, drugstore.com. I always, always check the reviews. If it’s cheaper, but doesn’t do the right job then you are still out $8. Luckily, this stuff has a 5 star rating on the site and very good feedback. I decided to give it a whirl.

I’ve now been using it for 5 days. My hair looks and feels the same as it did with the more expensive stuff.  It doesn’t really have a strong smell, which I like. Sometimes the cheaper versions of products are downright stinky, but this is nice and light.

I’m definitely the kind of person who is a sucker for advertising. If you tell me that using gold-plated shampoo will help me look like Gisele Bundchen, then I’ll try it.  But this little experiment has taught me 2 things:

  1. Absolutely no one can tell what kind of shampoo or hair products you use. Whether they cost $50 or $5, it is entirely undetectable.
  2. I’ve been wasting my money on expensive hair stuff for years, and I still don’t look like Gisele. DAMN.

Time to give up that ghost…

DC’s Hipster Haven

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This weekend I took my first trip to Union Market in DC for the Crafty Bastards art fair. The fair was packed with local artisans, vendors, and most of all, people. I have never seen so many DC hipsters in one place! See below.

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I went to the fair to do some Christmas shopping, but of course, I found nothing for anyone, but myself. I only spent $30 though, so I think I did pretty well.

I scored a cool leather cuff bracelet from a local company is called Fisticuffs (eeeek!), and all of their work is original and one-of-a-kind (and discountess-friendly!). I also got a stamp of a bicycle from another booth. I plan to use it to make homemade tags for Christmas presents. I love stamps – they are so versatile (there’s definitely a post on stamps coming later!).

Anywhoozer, I didn’t get to spend as much time perusing the aisles on Union Market as I wanted. There were so many people that it made it hard to get around. That said, I’d love to go back on a normal Saturday. From what I can tell, they have great food shops, fresh veggies, wine and more. It’s the perfect place to grab a coffee, a paper, and do some serious people watching on a sunny Saturday. Talk about inexpensive entertainment!

RennFest 2012

I am now entering week 3 of living in Georgetown, but not shopping in Georgetown. I’ve been trying to find other, cheaper activities to occupy my time, so I don’t succumb to the temptation. It turns out that finding inexpensive entertainment takes some real creativity, which is how I ended up going to the Maryland Renaissance Festival on Sunday.

The real entertainment of RennFest is the people watching. It is AH-MA-ZING. It’s like going to a medieval people zoo, except none of the specimens are locked up. Seriously, you can just go and walk around and stare and you’ll be entertained­—free of charge.

The real hard-core RennFesters come in costume and act the part the entire time they’re there. We’re talking corsets, kilts, flower head dresses…the works. See example here:

Also, the food is pretty good, and not necessarily so medieval. They had gyros, chimichangas, and funnel cake. And, consistent with most fairs and festivals these days, you can pretty much get anything you want on a stick. Of course, you can also get a full smoked turkey leg which is ridiculous – especially when you watch someone eat it. Since the entry fee is $22 (6 day passes are available if you really want them), most of the food and games are subsidized too, so you’re not looking at spending a ton of cash.

Here’s my total tally of expenses:

  • Adult entry ticket – $22
  • 2 Snake Bites (half cider/half beer – they are like the pumpkin spice latte of beer drinks YUM) – $8
  • 1 Italian Sausage – $4
  • 1 Funnel cake – $5
  • Joust – FREE

Grand total for all that ridiculous fun: $39. Even better – I still have $61 left over for the rest of the month. SUCCESS.