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So I joined a competitive karaoke league...

May 27, 2014

DC is a great city for singles because it has endless opportunities to meet new people and do something with your free time other than watching TV. Apparently most people who live here are interested in running, but if you have a gimp foot like I do, you have a few other karaoke!

I was excited to hear about District Karaoke a couple of years ago but disappointed when I found out the weekly competition was on Wednesday nights, the night of a prayer meeting I try to attend. Then I found out the league had expanded to more nights and locations, so I signed up to be a part of Team NKOTB (New Karaoke on the Block) Tuesdays at Policy!

Every Tuesday from 7-9 we compete against five other teams with two solos and one group song. The first week we won with the group song "Africa":

Last week was hilarious when we sang "Summer Girls" by LFO, but we lost:

I burned a lot of calories laughing though, so there's a win in there somewhere.

Some weeks have a theme, like last week, which was "Guilty Pleasures." This week is "Songs Your Dad Likes," and I volunteered to solo for the first time! I chose a song that will hopefully get the crowd excited, which is the point of karaoke, more than how great you can sing, right?

In order to have an element of fairness in the voting, each week teams are paired to compete against each other, and everyone can vote on who wins a round with the District Karaoke app (online -- no need to download). So, regardless of how great a performer is, the winner is the one who has the most support.

Therefore...if you're not busy tonight, you should come to Policy and cheer me on (and vote for me please!)! We get very into it, with costumes, makeup, dance routines and props. Happy hour specials run from 7-9, so if nothing else, come upstairs for a rum punch then step outside on the patio area and enjoy the first days of summer. And then come back in to see me and vote. Yes?

See you there!

P.S. Don't forget to enter my Batiste Cherry Dry Shampoo giveaway

Stitch Fix No. 8: What should I keep?

May 23, 2014

It's Fashion Friday! And it's also nearing the end of the month, which means it's Stitch Fix time!

I got some great summer pieces this time, and, once again, I'm stumped. I had so much fun finding out your thoughts on the pieces last time, so will you help me choose again?

These chinos are made of a cool, soft, stretchy fabric called "Tencel," a natural cellulose fiber from wood. (According to the label: "It offers optimum moisture transportation for your skin's well-being.") They look like a light, acid-washed denim and have a button on each of the front pockets so you can put your hands in if you like or leave them flattened. What a thoughtful detail! These would be great as a jeans alternative.

This jersey number doesn't look like much at first glance, but when I put it on I felt so cute! The use of multiple stripe fabrics criss-crossing has a terrific shaping effect that hides flaws and adds shape to your figure. It's one of those dresses you can throw in a bag and slip on when you need to spruce up your look real quick. (I'm imagining the beach, of course, and a bucket of seafood after a day on the seashore!) 

I love a wrap anything. This sheer top is a pretty, feminine leopard print with a touch of pink, and the hem is actually a waistband with elastic running along the edge so you can position it where you like. I tucked it so it sat just below the top of my skirt. You have to wear a camisole underneath, but that's not that big of a deal. It would be pretty as a more casual look with black pants or jeans as well.

I'm crazy about all the colors and shapes on this blouse! And isn't the little back cut-out cute? Noli wanted to get in on this photoshoot, I think because I was having too much fun twirling. It's pretty blousy, which I wasn't sure was a good look for me, but after a while I felt comfortable, flirty and fun in it. Just think of the accessories possibilities! 
I don't always get an accessory, but this fix I got this nifty bracelet. It's so dainty and the clasp is genius! Little magnets basically clasp together for you as soon as you wrap it around your wrist. Can all bracelets be like this please?

AHH I like them all! Help me choose please? This will be my last Stitch Fix for a while because I'm on this budget thing that is a total drag but a total necessity if I ever want to purchase something more important than clothes, so the pressure's on! :)

This was an outtake but it was too cute to delete. I love that little polar bear bootie!
Want to give Stitch Fix a try? Sign up here and remember your $20 styling fee goes toward your purchase! 

Read about my past fixes here:

Have a nice long weekend! The countdown to summer begins...

Bastiste Cherry Dry Shampoo Giveaway!

May 22, 2014

Those of you who have been reading C&S for a while know that my life changed when I was introduced to dry shampoo. I first heard of it when Heidi Montag ran out of it on "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!" (That was really embarrassing to type. Of all the smut TV in the world, that one might have been the worst.) Not long after that, I tried Batiste and was hooked.

Since then, I've tried out other brands for comparison. The biggest thing I've noticed is some tend to be grittier than others. Too gritty and you look like you have dandruff. Not gritty enough get the job done, but you don't get the added benefit of a subtle texturizer in your hair, which, at least for my hair type, is a bonus! Batiste, I've found, is the perfect balance of oil-absorbing and texturizing.

In the winter months, the texturizing isn't as important, but in the summertime, if I've made it more than three days without washing my hair, it's gone into a sort of zen of shine, low frizz and magazine-worthy waves. My natural oils have reached peak saturation point, and I've curled it enough so the curls don't fall out anymore. Alas, this is also when all the hair around my face becomes stringy, and my scalp begins flaking ... not to mention my hair smells like outside, as I like to call it.

That's when dry shampoo does its magic, and when I use Batiste, it not only absorbs the oil -- it makes those previously stringy pieces do whatever I want.

Flyaways? Not a problem. Need more volume? Done. Hair keeps sliding out of a bobby pin? Never!

And, of course, it acts as perfume for your hair, so that 3-day-old smell vanishes. I tried the cherry scent this time, and it smelled like summer break in middle school. Love it!

Batiste is available in a variety of enticing scents and an array of color variants. The full size (6.73 fl oz) retails for $7.99 and the on-the-go size (1.6 fl oz) retails for $3.99. Select retailers include: Walmart, Walgreens and ULTA.

Want to try it out? I'm giving away a can to one hairtastic C&S reader! Enter below for a chance to win! Get your entry in by Wednesday, May 28th, and I'll email the winner on Thursday, May 29th. Open to U.S. residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Let's set the record straight on who should pay on a first date

May 21, 2014

Get over here NOW! I told my friend about you and he wants to meet you!

I looked at the text as my hairdresser fluffed my hair forward. "All done! Looks great!" she said.

(Okay that's a lie. This was four years ago and my hairdresser was a total B-word and she probably said something more along the lines of, "Well I did my best...")

I happened to be two blocks away from my friend and the allegedly eligible dude, so I didn't feel so desperate responding immediately to her text: Be right over!

She'd been mentioning this guy to me for a couple of weeks. He was a Marine who was tall, tan and had heart-crushing dimples that punctuated an almost too perfect smile. I'm always wary of guys who are too good-looking, but she'd vehemently vouched for him, so I thought he may be all right.

I walked in the sports bar and waited to take off my sunglasses until I was sure she'd seen me and pointed me out to the dude. Then I slowly took them off, gave my hair a shake and smiled coyly before I walked over and said hello. He couldn't take his eyes off me. I made small talk and commented on the game then ordered a beer and shifted my attention to my friend to seem nonchalant. Inside I was dying because his biceps were really, really hot. I couldn't keep up the act more than 20 minutes, so I made up an excuse and left.

As I walked down the stairs toward the street, I heard my name and turned around.

"Hey!" he said. " you want to meet up sometime? Maybe lunch, since we both work in the Pentagon?"

"Sure!" I grinned, stifling my excitement. We exchanged email addresses and planned for lunch in the main food court on Tuesday.

I remember what I wore that day because I wanted to look sexy like I would on a date, but it had to be conservative-sexy because it was a date in the Pentagon. I opted for a plum wrap sweater with slightly puffed sleeves and my best figure-flattering black pencil skirt with heels. When I showed up he was hovering near Subway.

"Do you know what you want?" he asked after we'd said hello and awkwardly side-hugged.

"Um, Subway is fine with me," I said.

"I love the $5 footlong deal, but I never eat the whole thing," he said.

"Do you want to split one?" I offered. I always ate the whole thing, but I figured I shouldn't eat more than a Marine on a date.

"Sure, that's a good idea," he said. I told him to choose whatever he wanted because I wasn't picky. At the checkout counter, the lady asked us if we wanted any drinks. He ordered something and asked what I wanted. I got a green tea.

"Your total comes to $9.64," the lady said.

" do you want to do this?" he asked me.

Do what? I thought.

"Do you want to just split it with our credit cards?" Before I could answer he turned to the lady. "Is that okay if you just split it on our cards?"

You've. Got. To be kidding me.

"I have $5 I can just give you, it's fine," I said. This wasn't just disappointing -- it was holding up the line and outright embarrassing.

The date was okay. He talked a lot about his Marine adventures. He didn't ask much about me. I got the sense he was bored.

I never heard from the Marine again -- except for one email he sent with a link to a YouTube video of him skydiving -- and when I told my friend about it she said, "Yeah, I was afraid he might not make a good impression. He usually dates strippers and I was really hoping he'd give a normal girl a shot."

Two Things We Can Learn From This:

1) If a guy's type is a stripper, don't set him up on a date at the Pentagon.

2) He could have so easily impressed me by paying, if for no other reason than the fact that I would tell our mutual friend about what a gentleman he is. 

Okay. Here's the deal, dudes. You don't need to spend a lot on us. You don't even have to buy us dinner. (That's been a tough one for me to concede.) But if you want us to go out with out with you ever again and also not spread the news to our friends about what a cheapskate you are, you must pay for the first date. 

Yes we know the pay gap isn't as wide in DC. Yes we know dating is expensive. And yes, we know that most first dates don't lead to second ones and it feels like a colossal waste of time. 

But, dear dudes, this is not going to change anytime soon. We want you to pay. It's not about wanting free stuff and it's not about us needing to know you can provide for us. It's just how we're wired. A few women out there disagree and subscribe to egalitarian dating, but let me tell you...I know a lot of single women, and of all of them I only know one (1) who is okay with splitting the check or even paying on the first date. 

Get mad at me if you like, but a simple google search of this topic will prove I'm in the majority. But remember -- while splitting a $5 footlong isn't ideal, it's exponentially more likely to get you a second date than if you suggest a fancy bar and let us pay our half. 

Word to your mother,

April Birchbox Reviews

May 20, 2014

The April Birchbox was "rainy day" themed, which was kinda funny because it arrived on one of the first warm, rainy days of April.

I got really good use out of the samples, and I was thrilled to finally get a Cynthia Rowley beauty product (exclusively sold through Birchbox)! Here's what I got:

I've used a lot of dry shampoos, so I consider myself an expert on them. (Make sure to come back Thursday for a dry shampoo giveaway!) This one is lighter than others I've tried, which worried me a little at first because I wasn't sure how effective it would be. I was happy to find my hair was freshened and didn't feel gritty afterwards, and I was good to go without shampooing for another couple of days. The smell is really nice too. I went through the sample can during my trip home to Atlanta a couple of weeks ago, buying me extra time to spend with my sweet, dear, rambunctious nephews!

I am pale and freckly, so I don't like to get sun on my face in the summertime, and my face ends up being lighter than the rest of my body. Therefore, it's important to me that my daily moisturizer have a nice, natural tint with good coverage, but that's not all that easy to find. This is by far the best BB or CC cream (still struggling to understand the difference) I've tried that gives me the coverage I want. It's also super smooth and makes my skin feel great! Although it's on the pricey end, I might splurge this season.

I'd never heard of Paula's Choice products, but a couple of my friends were swooning over this Birchbox score. Paula's story is that she grew up with bad skin, and she felt frustrated that all the products she used had acetone in them, so she made it her mission to develop skincare without harsh additives. My skin is pretty even, so I didn't find any great benefit from using this. I'm more in need of an astringent for some isolated breakouts. However, I have nothing bad to say about it. It has barely any scent and makes my skin feel cool and refreshed. Worth a try if you're looking for this type of product.

I'd been pining for a Cynthia Rowley beauty product, and I was so pleased to get this eyeliner! The gel base makes application a breeze, although I had to adjust my pressure after the first couple of wears. I'm used to applying a lot of product, but that's unnecessary with this pencil. I got the black one, and then last weekend I hit the jackpot at a yard sale in Adams Morgan where a girl was selling a bunch of her unopened Birchbox items and got a tin of Matcha Chai Minteas for $.50 and a silver Cynthia Rowley eyeliner for $2! The black eyeliner is now my everyday, subtle cat-eye look, and the silver is fun for a shimmery, by-the-seashore look. I hope I get to try more from her line!

I got to try one of the dark chocolate bars, and it was so yummy! I ate it as a snack, but it was quite a decadent one. Each bar is made with five super grains, they're gluten-free and they're all salty/sweet. They're a little pricey for me at almost $12, but if I see these on sale somewhere I'd definitely pick them up!

Want to try Birchbox? For $10 a month, you get five samples of beauty products. Fill out a profile to have your samples tailored to your wants and needs, and cancel your subscription any time. 


500 Pens of Embarrassment

May 19, 2014

Well, it had to end at some point, y'all...

Not my blog! My blogging break! (Gotcha.)

Honestly, I didn't even mean to go on a hiatus. Work got busy and then I went home for 10 days (so many stories to tell you from that trip!), and I found myself not having any time to write. Three weeks was a little excessive though -- sorry about that.

To make it up to you, lovelies, I have a GREAT story for you. It's one of those that was so embarrassing, I actually wish someone I know had been there to witness it and vouch for me later on. Alas, I was all by myself, except for the couple thousand other people who were in the vicinity of THE INCIDENT.

From time to time I am called upon to man a table at an event. This time, the event was at the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor, and I was working the last day, which, for anyone who has ever worked a trade show or convention knows, is the day you are desperate to get rid of your swag so you don't have to lug it back to the office. I wasn't too worried about it because we were giving away gun locks, a pretty heavy item, but also a hot item. By the end of the day, I'd given them all away, as well as a bunch of pens and pamphlets.

I made friends with the guy next to me, and when things slowed down I watched his table so he could get lunch, and he offered to watch my table for half an hour so I could take a look around the exhibit floor. That's when I met this sweet fella:

These guys are service dogs that are trained by wounded warriors. Needless to say, they were pretty popular, right next to my gun locks.

(I don't get it either.)

At the end of the day, I only had two boxes I needed to take back -- one box of fact sheets and pamphlets, and one box full of pens. Five hundred pens, to be exact. My neighbor friend offered to help me take the boxes to my car, but they weren't that heavy so I thanked him but declined his help.


I hadn't taken into account that I also had a bag with my laptop in it, my general giant work bag with who knows what in it, plus a swag bag of military junk for my nephews, plus I was in heels and a stiff pencil skirt. On top of that, my left ankle is still pretty weak from last year's surgery, and I'm generally uncoordinated, so...

Here's a view of the Gaylord main area. It's echoe-y.

On the other side is a similarly open area, without the restaurant, and a very steep, long escalator will take you down into it. That's the escalator I attempted to go on to get to the parking garage. I couldn't find an elevator. I thought it was just two boxes and I could handle it. But those two boxes plus all my bags added what I'm estimating was 200 pounds. 100? Okay maybe 40. Or 20. Whatever it was, it was about one pound more than I could balance on moving stairs.

This is why I chickened out as soon as I stepped onto the top stair. I laughed nervously at the dude behind me and said, "Think I'm gonna re-strategize how to do this...please go ahead!"

I dropped the boxes and regretted not taking the help when I had it. Men and women in military uniforms were all around, as well as exhibitors dressed like me with clever dolleys to transport their boxes. I had a moment of "I have no plan on how to do this" and then my brain stopped working. I could not envision how this was going to happen. I somehow decided to just take one box down then come up and get the other one. No one would steal a box of paper, right? I decided against leaving my bags because someone just might take those, and I was at a military convention and didn't want to look like I was planting a bomb in a knockoff Louis Vuitton computer bag. These are valid concerns, y'all. 

I picked up the box of 500 pens. If I can get these down, the paper will be a piece of cake, I thought. I again stepped on the top stair. As it moved forward, I knew I had to commit in that second or jump back again. I committed. My ankle wobbled. I shifted weight to my right foot to compensate. My knee buckled. My right foot was no longer on the stair of my left. I was falling.

I glanced down the mile-long escalator and imagined tumbling to the bottom and ruining my shoes. My brain stopped working again. Thankfully, my arms took over. They knew that the only option was to lose the pens. Five. Hundred. Pens.

To the left of the escalator is a stairwell. Many people were using the stairwell because it's a military convention and people in the military like to exercise wherever they can find an opportunity to do so. I watched my arms thrust the box of pens to the left. I watched as the box beautifully balanced on the moving handrail for a couple of seconds, and I watched as the handrail quite magnificently launched the box into the air and over the stairwell. And, to my galvanizing horror, I watched as the box flaps opened up, and five hundred pens took flight over the men and women of our Armed Forces.      

I don't know if you've ever thrown 500 pens onto stairs from the top of a stairwell in a giant hotel made of glass, but it sounds akin to firecrackers going off. You see, 500 pens don't hit the ground once. They bounce down the stairs and hit over and over and over again. Basic math tells us that 500 pens bouncing down a mile-long staircase will make a popping sound 8,000 times each, which equals me being unable to move for the duration of the escalator ride and realizing I should have risked the computer bag bomb scare.

Some people jumped, startled. Some froze just like me, watching the bouncing pens helplessly. But one woman began howling laughing. It was the best thing that could have happened. You know when you're in a restaurant and you're looking for the bathroom and you trip and laugh it off and make eye contact with the people around you hoping they'll laugh with you because somehow you'll feel less stupid then? Well it was like that, but way, way worse.

Three hours later I made it to the bottom of the escalator. The rotating stairs nudged me off and that's when I felt the pain in my right foot and noticed it was bleeding. Awareness came rushing back to my brain and I realized this could have been a lot worse. The woman was still howl-laughing, but she was also picking up the pens on the stairs. Then everyone was picking up the pens on the stairs. I dumped my bags, found the box and humbly took it around to each lovely person who put the pens into it with a smile. I was so embarrassed, but everyone was laughing with me, and 500 pens were back in the box in a couple of minutes.

"Can I help you?" a man asked when it was all cleaned up. I hesitated, but he gave me a look that said he wasn't really offering inasmuch as telling me I needed help. I nodded yes.

"I just need to get the other box," I said, pointing to the top of the escalator.

"Well why don't you take the elevator? Why didn't you take it in the first place?" he said, looking perplexed.

"I couldn't find it!" I protested.

Another man who overheard said, "I'm going there now, want me to show you?" Yes. Yes to all the help I can get.

Turns out it was just around the corner from the escalator.

I made it to the bottom safely and without incident, and the first man was waiting for me with my potential bomb bags in hand. After all that, I'd completely forgotten about them.

"Let's switch," he promptly said. "Now, where are we taking these?"

"To my car in the parking deck," I said.

"The parking deck? The parking deck is on the same floor as the one you were on. We have to go back up."

And that, ladies and gentleman, is why it's a surprise to us all that I have made it this far in life.

Till next time (I promise it won't be three weeks),