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The art of the bubble bath

Dec 19, 2011

People close to me know that I prefer bubble baths to showers, and many of them think that to be strange. I think they're just not doing it right. There is nothing more indulgent and relaxing that is low cost, zero calories and healthy for you -- especially after a long day, stressful day -- than a hot bath overflowing with scented bubbles that soften your skin. Here's how to do it:

1) Clean your bathtub. 

I keep Clorox wipes in my bathroom so I can quickly wipe away any mildew or soap scum and start with a fresh slate. It only takes a minute and is a great habit anyway.

2) Bubbles! 

The best bubbles are not in liquid form as you may remember from your youth (I'm talking of course about Mr. Bubbles). Calgon Moisturizing Bath Beads are by far the best bubble makers. Don't ever skimp on how much you use, and be sure to pour them under your faucet running at full force as you begin to draw the bath.

3) Bath Salts. 

These are a must if your muscles are sore. Epsom salt draws out toxins from your muscles and helps them to loosen if they are stiff. Just remember to drink a glass of water afterwards so you flush them out. My choice is Ahava Eucalyptus Bath Salts -- a little pricey online, but you can often find them at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls for deals.

4) Aromatherapy Candle. 

My favorite is from Bath & Body Works -- Lavender Chamomile. You can find similar scents at most drug stores, or anything with eucalyptus will open your breathing passages and help you relax.

5) Bath pillow. 

This is tricky -- I've tried a lot of them, and they all are either not comfortable or mildew. Then I found a Memory Foam pillow at Bed Bath & Beyond, which is not only super comfortable, but it's anti-microbial.

6) Entertainment. 

Oh heeeeey Beyonce.
As nice as relaxing is, most of us don't know how to do it for very long. So turn on some music you enjoy, grab a magazine or stream some TV on your laptop (propped on a stool nearby where it won't fall in).  If you can make it 30 minutes, you will have done yourself a great favor.

And now it's time for me to go home and make this a reality!

UPDATED: Giveaway: Happy Hour at McFadden's this Thursday!

Dec 12, 2011

Yes, that's right, I said giveaway.

This week, my pick of the week is McFadden's, one of the best happy hour spots I've found in a while. Located a couple of blocks from the Foggy Bottom Metro, it's huge, friendly and packed during the week.  (Okay, so a lot of its frequenters are George Washington U. students, which means the guys are too young to date, but I still had a blast.)

And, while I'm not personally a fan, I know a lot of people are, so I have to mention that when "The Jersey Shore" cast visits DC, this is where they go:

One Cupcakes and Shoes reader will win a happy hour for this Thursday night!

The deets:

1) Happy hour goes from 6-9 p.m.
2) You can invite as many people as you want.
3) Each guest pays $10 for a wristband, and then they drink whatever they want until happy hour is over with no additional fees.

How to win:

1) Comment on any blog post.


Tweet a link to Cupcakes and Shoes, and be sure to cc me, @CupcakesDC.


Write me something nice on Facebook.

2) Check back Wednesday, December 14, at noon when I update this post with a winner.

3) If you win, email me at and we'll work out the rest.  If you win and don't claim it by 6 p.m. Wednesday, I'll announce another winner at that time.


Not one person entered this.  I was perplexed at first, and then another blogger clued me in -- they do these happy hours for just about everyone.  And here I thought no one was interested because it's where "The Jersey Shore" cast goes.  Oh well, I tried, people.  I'll have something better to give away next time.

Trader Joe's Seasoned Salts

Dec 5, 2011

If you step foot in a Trader Joe’s this month, you will be distracted by the Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s, Astounding Multi-Flavor Joe-Joe’s, sea salted caramels, Christmas candy, Candy Cane Coal and winter ales/wines.  It’s understandable that you wouldn’t bother venturing down the Seasonings/Rice/Pasta aisle when you plan to live off of sugar until your New Year’s diet begins in three weeks. But you would be foolish not to take a peek.

You see, TJ’s has these amazing new salts, pepper and spices (so incognito that I couldn’t find them on the website). I was first drawn to them because I needed some cinnamon sticks to steep in apple cider, and then I noticed “SMOKED” on a label. Despite (or perhaps in rebellion of) my father’s lifelong concerns about all things carcinogenic, I am in lurv with anything that is smoked. Ham. Turkey. Salmon. The competition. And now, EVERYTHING, because all I have to do to make something smoked is sprinkle a little SMOKED SALT on it (after it’s ground in the built-in grinder).  
Can you believe how amazing that is?! After buying it, I first tried it on some Mac and Cheese. Smoked Salt revolutionized basic Mac and Cheese. I had no idea making Mac and Cheese better was possible! 

Next, I had some friends over for dinner, and the culinary genius among us took pomegranate seeds and whipped cream and added the smoked salt. Sounds weird I know, but it was awesome. (And healthy!)

When I went back to TJ’s, I made a beeline for the seasonings shelf to see if they’d come up with anything else. I ended up with Flower Pepper, Lemon Pepper, Rainbow Peppercorns and – wait for it – Sugar, Chocolate & Coffee Bean Grinder. 

If you’re looking for a nice, innocuous holiday gift to give someone, my suggestion is to tie a medley of these with a ribbon.  And at TJ’s prices, your ROI will be a breeze.  You’re welcome!