Cool Things Are *Happening,* People!

I have a long history of being easily amused. Okay, so it’s actually to a ridiculous degree – as in, I’ve been known to bound out of bed on a Monday morning because I have a new kind of coffee or tea to try out. (And, considering my general enmity towards Monday mornings, this is saying a lot.)

So, considering this particular quirk, last week involved two discoveries that made things pretty awesome.

First, I found out that Starbucks is now offering coconut milk as an option for the dairy-free crowd. I’m trying to avoid dairy when I can, and soy and I just don’t jive – so I’ve been hoping and praying for aaaaaaaages that Starbies would get on board and find another non-dairy, non-soy option.

(A quick disclaimer/caveat: I know chai lattes aren’t the healthiest things in the world, so they’re not on heavy rotation in my life. However, I like to try and get them on Fridays – it’s a “Yay, self, you made it through the week!” self-care thing. I’ve also been known to do this if I’m having an exceptionally crappy day, since a chai will keep me from merely slogging through until close of business while being tired and cranky. In these circumstances, I figure the less-than-super-healthy chai latte is absolutely worth it.)

Anyways, they started offering coconut milk on February 17th, but since we had Tuesday off work on account of the snow (yaaaaaaay!) I wasn’t able to take part in the coconut milk revolution until the end of the week. But when I did? Sweet fancy Moses. In case anyone is wondering, coconut milk chai lattes are fantastic.

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As for my second awesome discovery, I was perusing this month’s InStyle magazine – which is slightly ironic, in the sense that I love fashion but a) wear really basic clothes in real life, b) more or less live in yoga pants during the weekend, and c) pretty much refuse to shop anywhere other than Marshall’s and Target – when I saw that The Limited is offering a whole line of clothes based on Olivia Pope.

YOU GUYS.

As anyone who watches Scandal knows, Liv’s wardrobe is to die for. (Side note: is anyone else sick of the Liv-n-Fitz Eternal Angst and Drama motif? Sh*t or get off the pot, you two.)

Granted, I can’t afford these threads (like I said: Target and Marshall’s 4-EVAH) – but if any of you are in the market for some new clothes and spend as much time admiring Kerry Washington’s Scandal wardrobe as I do, this is like a goldmine of awesomeness. I mean, this dress?

Scandal Dress

If I were 30 pounds thinner and psychologically able to handle the idea of spending $170 on a dress, I’d buy two of this. Not even kidding.

So, all this is to say that between the snow day, coconut milk chai, and the mere existence of an Olivia Pope line at The Limited, it was a fairly exciting week. What’s happening in your world?

Friday Faves

HAPPY FRIDAY! This calls for a celebration, does it not? And what better way to celebrate the end of the workweek than with a list of some favorite things? (Ok, yes, I know that better ways to celebrate the end of the workweek generally involve happy hour, but it’s 0700 and I’m fighting off a cold. So, we shall focus on other things!) With no further ado, here are some Friday faves:

The fact that this is going to be a long weekend: Real talk,y’all: I basically live for the weekend. So when a long weekend comes along, guess who has two thumbs and is totally doing the Kermit the Frog happy dance? This girl!

 

 

Alba Botanica face cream: I’ve been on a long and arduous journey (ok, it wasn’t all that long or arduous in real life, but let’s pretend like it was) for good facial moisturizer that isn’t laden with freaky shizz like phtalates and parabens. Adding to the fun, a lot of natural products — including Aveda, which I used to love — contain wheat protein. No bueno!

It took a lot of searching around Amazon to find a gluten-, paraben- and phtalate-free facial moisturizer, but, just as I was starting to get frustrated…EUREKA! The good folks at Alba Botanica came through in a pinch! I ordered it up and have been using it vigiliantly since the day it arrived.

And I must say, this stuff is awesome. It moisturizes fabulously, smells amazing, and it doesn’t make my skin break out. This is a big deal, since my skin is a total hater and basically searches high and low for reasons to break out. (Hormones? Zit party! Hard workouts? Zit convention! Change of seasons? Zitapalooza!) So, this find is a serious keeper for yours truly.

 

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Verily Magazine: I’ve written before about how many women’s magazines, which claim to be all about empowering us, just wind up making us feel like total and utter crap.

The Photoshopping is ridiculous, and the content is often a) vapid, and b) largely about how to be both skinnier and better in the sack. This “Get thinner, have the perfect tush, and be a total sex kitten” message pushes the idea that there’s a huge gap between how you are and how you should be, and that how you are now is largely inadequate. It pisses me the hell off, and that’s putting it politely.

Enter Verily Magazine: a women’s magazine that focuses on “celebrating the best of who you are” — and that’s who you are now, not who you’ll be after undergoing one of those heinous Tracy Anderson metamorphosis things. (Have I mentioned that I really don’t like Tracy Anderson? Because sweet fancy Moses, y’all, I really don’t like her. This article, followed by this one, really sealed the deal. But I digress.)

Unlike other women’s mags, Verily never, ever airbrushes or Photoshops its models. Not only that, but it specifically chooses models who look like normal people, as opposed to the emaciated waifs you see on the runway. (Am I the only one who often feels compelled to throw food at bone-thin models as they strut down the catwalk? I’m pretty sure I’d get kicked out of a real fashion show because I’d just start throwing quinoa and asparagus at them while yelling “Eat! For the love of all that is holy, woman, EAT!”)

Adding to the awesomeness, Verily actually offers articles that are directed toward womens’ brains, not their lady-parts or their abs. There are no “How To Blow His Mind in Bed!” or “Get The Perfect Tummy in Two Weeks!” articles here, friends: instead, there are pieces on culture, lifestyle, and fashion — as well as awesome articles that focus on issues affecting women around the world, such as the rise of rape warfare in Egypt and the increasing prevalence of sex trafficking in the United States.

One of my friends here in DC interviewed the founders of Verily, and the awesome Huffington Post article that ensued can be read here. These ladies are the real deal!

 

New yoga books:  I wrote yesterday about my love of DIY, at-home yoga, and I just invested in two new books on the matter — sooooo, I might be bouncing in my chair in sheer anticipation of  getting my grubby little paws on copies of Yoga as Medicine and Insight Yoga. I’m incredibly, absurdly excited for both of these books!

I’m a big believer in using alternative medicine/holistic practices like yoga to help complement Western medicine, and I’m fascinated by the intersection of the two forms of healing. The idea that yoga can be used to complement the effects of modern medicine is awesome, so I’m chomping at the proverbial bit to dive into these books and absorb as much information as humanly possible. A total geek-out will totally ensue. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be hearing about it next week!

 

With that, some questions for you:

What was the highlight of your week?

Do you have plans for the weekend?

What are you most looking forward to over the weekend?

MIMM: A Weekend of R&R

Good morning, everyone, and welcome to another week! I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend – along those lines, I want to give a shout-out to Meghan for running (and kicking butt) in the Tough Mudder on Saturday. Rock on, Meghan! (*Imagine me cheering and waving pom-poms.*) 🙂

My weekend can best be described as Objective: R&R. While it was super low-key – which I must say, is pretty darn marvelous in and of itself – there were many other marvelous things that only added to the experience. As always, thanks to Katie from Healthy Diva Eats for hosting!

MiMM MIMM #52 with Date Night and More!

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m now a confirmed Arrested Development junkie. I’m so, so glad we decided to start watching it, because my world has been immeasurably enriched by the antics of the Bluth family.

 

15 Gifs Of Lucille Bluth

 

I’ve been having lots of this tea lately, and I love it. It’s delicious, refreshing, and energizing. It ain’t coffee, but it’s fabulous in its own way!

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This weekend I also became the proud owner of a veritable crap-ton of CVS coupons. CVS coupons are hit or miss, but these hit the jackpot. I get inordinately excited about stuff like this – if I had the time, I’d be all about couponing. I take what I can get, though!

 

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Yesterday’s experiment in the kitchen yielded some awesome results: these Bananas Foster Muffin Tops. They’re effin’ delicious! (I also might have already eaten half the batch in the 24 hours since they came out of the oven. No shame.)

 

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I also hit up Target for a few staples on Saturday, and while I was there, I…bought the whole store. Well, ok, not quite — but they were having a sale on cardigans, and I’m a serious cardigan junkie. Here in DC, once the summer heat and humidity arrive, most buildings go no holds barred with the A/C. It’s pumpin’ on overdrive from May through September, and for cold-blooded folks like myself, this means layers are imperative. Cardigans are my go-to choice for summer layering, since I can stuff them in my bag when I’m outdoors and then throw them on once I’m back in the air-conditioned splendor. I picked up a white cardigan in addition to these two beauties:

 

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I also got a cute skirt and a t-shirt to add to my summer sartorial selection. (Ok, I totally had to reach for the alliteration on that one. Forgive me!)

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 I also got to have a long and wonderful chat with my friend Sam, which was fantastic. Catching up with friends is a truly wonderful thing!

Hopefully you all had a fabulous weekend — I hope you all have equally fabulous Mondays! (Ok, so that’s totally not likely unless you adore your job, in which case I’d like to live vicariously through you — but hey, we can hope!)

What was your favorite moment from this weekend?

Do you have to restrain yourself from buying ALL THE THINGS when you go to Target?

Do you live in an area where summers involve uber-chilled buildings?

What’s your favorite summer fashion trend?

A brief health update: apologies in advance for being all Debbie Downer (wah-waaaaaaah)/TMI up in here, but here’s the sitch: the acute lady-troubles that plagued me last week got a lot worse yesterday into last night. I’m taking a sick day have a tete-a-tete with my doctor and possibly get more tests done, so hopefully we can get to the bottom of this and fix me up. My fingers (and toes) are crossed that things return to normal, stat! If prayers/happy thoughts/good vibes are your thing, please send some my way — this whole gig has me more than a little bit nervous.

Currently Survey

Good morning, everyone!

Yesterday I saw a post by Tina over at Carrots n’ Cake called the Currently Survey, and I thought it looked like fun — which, considering that most of us are headed back to work after the long weekend, seemed like something we’d all need.

Feel free to play along in the comments, or to do your own post on this — I love hearing about the little things going on in your lives!

 

Current Book: Ok, so I’ve always wanted to be one of those super-disciplined people who only reads one book at a time. I’ve tried to do it (and when I do, I always feel all accomplished and like I might actually have my ducks in a row), but then I get all excited about 10 different books all at the same time and I just. Can’t. Help. Myself.

At some point last year, I finally reached the conclusion that I needed to stop fighting my exuberant love of reading; I mean, it’s a leisure activity, so I don’t need to approach it in the same way that I approach actual tasks. For me, a good book is not something to be crossed off a “to do” list.

Since then, I’ve almost always had more than one book going at one time. Right now, I’m working my way through three awesome tomes:  I Thought it Was Just Me (But it Isn’t): Making The Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough,” by  Brene Brown, The Firestarter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte, and Keeping Hope Alive by Hawa Abdi.

 

Let’s just pretend that the bajillion books on my nightstand are similarly organized and pretty-looking, m’kay?

Current Music: I also have reeeeaaaallly eclectic taste in music – so, my current tunage involves both Florence + The Machine and country music. I’m slightly worried that iTunes might think I’m a schizophrenic.

Current Food: At the moment? Toast and coffee. However, last night when I started writing this, I’d just stuffed my face with kabobs since our dinner consisted of chicken shwarma kabobs with brown rice pilaf and grilled Halloumi cheese. I fell in love with Halloumi when I was in Israel, and I’ve made a convert out of Brandon too. That stuff is the bomb diggity.

 

Image source: paintedpeach.blogspot.com

 

Current Favorite Show:  In my perpetual search for gym entertainment, I just got hooked on Scandal – and wow. I thought it was going to be campy, but holy crap y’all: it’s really effin’ good. Also, I find that I keep pining after Olivia Pope’s collection of gorgeous trench coats. (Is that weird? Yes? Oh well.) I’m also waiting with baited breath for True Blood to return; Brandon and I got hooked on that show three years ago, and we loooooove it.

 

 

Current Wishlist: Bluetooth headphones, the aforementioned Olivia Pope-inspired collection of outerwear, a new mattress that doesn’t make my back hurt, a new desk, and probably a gazillion other things that I’m just not thinking of right now.

Current Indulgence: Massages and pedicures. I tend to carry all my tension in my shoulders, so my monthly massages are a Godsend for my angry muscles. As for pedicures, I feel unkempt and just generally gross if my feet aren’t well tended to. It’s weird, I know, but my feetses need love!

Current Guilty Pleasure: A few weeks ago I read an article in which the author made an awesomely compelling case against guilty pleasures. (Of course, now I can’t find the article – damn you, Interwebz!) Basically, the idea that we should feel guilty about things that are enjoyable – be it chocolate, anything Kardashian-related, or sleeping late – is a load of crap.

So what if our musical/entertainment/literary tastes aren’t high-brow and uber-intellectual? (Case in point: I know Twilight is the thing that everyone loves to hate, but I read the books in less than one week. They were like literary crack to me.) So what if we looooove carbs and feel ambivalent about kale? We should feel guilty about things that hurt people, not about things that make us happy.

So, with that, my current so-called guilty pleasures about which I have no guilt include Us Weekly, three kinds of fro yo in the freezer, and Britney on my iPod. And, for added measure, I’d be lying if I said that I’m not mildly preoccupied with Prince William and Kate Middleton. I totally had a teenage crush on Wills, and the fact that a handful of friends found parallels between our engagement story and theirs was seriously amusing. Add that to the fact that our wedding was exactly three months after theirs, and I found myself relating to them from afar. I was wigged out like woah about having everyone stare at me while walking down the aisle at our wedding, and I kept reminding myself that if Kate Middleton could make it down the aisle of Westminster Abbey without freaking out, then I could make it down the aisle of our favorite church. There are worse things to be fascinated by than the next generation of British royalty, right?

 

 

Current Outfit: Pajamas. Boom.

Current Excitement: Hmmmm. Among the small things? Our dinner menu for the week (the aforementioned kabobs, chicken marsala, breaded Italian chicken, and Thai beef stir fry with GF peanut sauce), and the fact that it’s a 4-day workweek. The big things? Our summer vacay plans, which include a trip to my beloved Colorado. I haven’t been home in about 18 months, and I can’t freaking wait to set foot in the Motherland.

 

Image source: fivetdsisters.blogspot.com

 

Anyways, with all that being said, I’d love to hear about your current goings-on — and in the meantime, I hope everyone has an awesome day!

What’s your…

Current book?

Current fave TV show?

Current food?

Current wish list?

Current indulgence?

5 Random Things That I’m Loving Lately…And Some Epiphanies

Happy Friday, y’all! TGIF! Friday, Friday, everybody’s glad it’s Friday! (Am I the only person who gets Rebecca Black stuck in her head every single week?)

As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to get really excited about random little things. New shampoo? Excited. New songs on my workout playlist? Excited. New coffee mug? Practically crawling out of my skin with excitement.

I’ve occasionally been told that I’m too easily amused, but I see it a bit differently. As far as I’m concerned, my low threshold for happy dancing makes it easy to do what so many happiness and self-help gurus keep talking about: appreciating and being grateful for the little things in life.

So, with that in mind, here are 5 random things that have induced more than a few happy dances around here.

1) On a whim earlier this week, I picked up some Goody Spin Pins from CVS. I’d run out of hair ties, and I was re-stocking when the Spin Pins caught my eye.

Image source: makeupandbeautyblog.com

 

Considering that I spend all summer abandoning all hope of doing my hair — heat and humidity turn my tresses into a hot mess, and I don’t like spending four months looking like my head was mauled by a misshapen shrubberyI rely on loose chignons and buns to get me through those oppressively hot months.

And, wouldn’t you know, that’s exactly what the Spin Pins were made for.

After using them, I can say this much: my gawd, these things are awesome. They worked like a dream, which is really saying something considering that virtually nothing works like it’s supposed to on my hair. I twisted them into the loose bun I’d pulled up, et voila:

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I must say, I’m seriously excited about these bad boys. Summer hairstyling is going to be a breeze with these things in my arsenal!

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2) Wearing my favorite pink jacket to work, DC fashion rules be damned.

Five years ago, I was shopping with my mom when a fabulous pink jacket from the Gap made me gasp audibly in delight. (I know that as an ardent feminist I’m not supposed to love pink, girly things and blah blah blah, but the fact is –as you may have discerned from the color schemes on this blog — I love pink.)

I bought the jacket as a graduation present for myself, only to never wear it upon arriving in DC. I was worried that no one would take me seriously if I rolled up in such a bright, feminine statement piece. Black pant suits are ubiquitous here, and there seems to be an unspoken rule that if you want to be respected and taken seriously, you can’t wear bright or overtly feminine clothes. And, y’know, this jacket is both bright and feminine. Trepidation ensued.

Recently, though, I’ve reached the point where I’ve just plain had it with all the unspoken rules about how to look and behave in DC. I am, by nature, goofy, funny, creative, innovative, expressive, and girly — all of which are big no-nos here.

Judy Garland I don't care

However, last few weeks I’ve found myself repeatedly thinking “F**k it. I can’t keep pretending to be someone I’m not in order to conform to cultural norms here. I can’t keep suppressing all these key elements of my personality. If I’m never taken seriously, then ok — but I’m tired of not being myself.”

When I opened up our coat closet this week, I saw my beloved pink jacket, and I knew: it’s time. Loud and proud, baby.

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3) The spate of gorgeous, spring-like weather we’ve had — and are supposed to continue having through the weekend — and the fact that the trees are now fully leaved.

Last night I was finally able to talk to my best friend (it’s tough to make our schedules work, since she’s in Seattle and thus three hours behind DC), and I decided to walk home from work in order to spend time outside while talking to her. It’s a four-mile walk along a gorgeous path, and I loved every second of it.

Some scenes from my walk:

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4) I luuuurve the new ring tone  on my phone. I was less than thrilled by the factory-setting ring tones on my iPhone, and I decided this week to see what other options are out there. I was sampling the most popular ones on iTunes when I thought “Waaaaaaaait a second. I wonder if they have Monty Python ring tones. Let’s check that out.”

A moment of context here: I love Monty Python. I come from a family of Monty Python (and British humor) devotees, and it’s to the point where we’ll all spontaneously re-enact scenes from our favorite movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Lo and behold, there’s a Monty Python and the Holy Grail ringtone! You’d best believe I downloaded it immediately, and now I do this whenever my phone rings:

 

5) Using egg white protein powder and almond milk in my morning smoothies, which gives me a luxuriously thick and creamy breakfast treat each morning.

This is a big deal for me for two reasons: first, I’ve been on a search for good protein powder that has, at times, felt like a scene from The Odyssey. My Greek epic novel-length quest has been frustrating, either in dealing with protein powders that taste awful or leave my stomach in a state of open rebellion — so I was profoundly happy when I found Jay Robb’s Egg White Protein Powder. This stuff is delicious, not chalky, and it hasn’t provoked any backtalk from el estomago.

Then we have the almond milk: I freaking love that stuff, but I haven’t been using it in my smoothies because, y’know, it has calories. I’d been using water instead, which — shockingly — lead to watery and decidedly meh smoothies. Just like my realization that I’m tired of conforming to DC cultural norms, I realized that I’m also tired of looking for every possible way to cut calories.

I love my almond milk, it’s good for you (all that calcium!), and I’m just plain tired of cutting myself off from foods I love — foods that are nutrient dense and actually really good for you — simply because they might be calorically dense as well. I want my granola, I want my pistachios, I want my GF bread with flax seeds, and dang it, I want  almond milk in my smoothies.

So, for the second time in recent weeks, I said “F**k it! I’m doing what I want in spite of all the nutritional advice to just use water and save calories. Almond milk it is!” Not surprisingly, using almond milk has turned my daily green smoothie into a thing of delicious glory. It’s thick, smooth, creamy, and generally mouthwatering.

All in all, I’m amazed by how good I feel after both the pink jacket and almond milk epiphanies. Deciding to dispose of generally ridiculous DC fashion rules and less-than-helpful nutritional advice made me feel like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. After trying so hard to be the round peg who contorts herself in an effort to fit into the square hole, calling it like it is made me feel really effing awesome.

So, with that in mind, I hope everyone has an awesome Friday! Here’s to the weekend being within reach, y’all. 🙂 Some questions for you:

What do you like to use in your smoothies?

Do you have favorite movies that you quote, like, all the effing time?

Have you ever tried to ignore or suppress parts of your personality in order to fit in?

Post-Oscar Redux

Ok, so: can we please talk about the Oscars?!

I couldn’t stay up to watch the last half of the ceremony — my body enters shut-down mode around 10 p.m. — but when I looked at the news this morning, I was thrilled to see who the big winners are. There have been some years when the winners leave me scratching my head and saying “Bwwweeeeeh?”, but this isn’t one of them.

Anne Hathaway? Awesome. Daniel Day-Lewis? Amazing. Jennifer Lawrence? Incredible. Argo? Best movie I’ve seen in a long time.

To that end, if you haven’t seen Argo, I highly recommend it. When I was in grad school, the story Argo is based on was assigned reading for one of my favorite classes — and it had me riveted. It was rare for grad school reading to have me totally, completely engrossed like that, but I couldn’t put this one down. At more than one point, I found that I had a white-knuckle grip on my highlighter, and I found myself muttering “please let it work, please let it work” over and over. So, my dear readers, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Go see it! Go see it now! 🙂

And the fashion? Omigod, the dresses.

There are always a few hot messes during big awards ceremonies — I thank Joan Rivers and company at Fashion Police for pulling a few of these from the tons of photos and showing us that, sometimes, money doesn’t guarantee style — but overall, I thought a ton of people looked fantastic.

My best-dressed list goes a little sumthin’ like this: Charlize Theron, Kerry Washington, Octavia Spencer, Amanda Seyfried, and Jenna Dewan-Tatum.

Charlize Theron: She’s an incredible actress with impeccable fashion sense. I love everything about this two-piece dress: the cut, the color, and the way she makes glamor look totally effortless.

Image source: Glamour.com

Kerry Washington: Here’s another incredibly talented woman who also happens to look amazing. I feel like she’s so naturally gorgeous that she could wear a muumuu and still look fantastic, but she knocks it out of the ballpark with this dress. Everything about it is gorgeous: the red bodice with the intricately beaded top, the way it’s form-fitting without being totally ridiculous (Angelina Jolie and her “look at me!” right leg, I’m looking at y’all), the train…it all adds up to an incredible look.

Image Source: Elle.com

Octavia Spencer: I love, love, love how she dresses for her body type and refuses to be put into some horrid looking tent-dress. One of the major problems with Hollywood fashion is that anything larger than a size zero is considered a grounds for draping a woman in some unholy combination of a tarp, poncho, or circus tent. (Side note: I LMAO-ed for a solid 10 minutes when I read the portion of Mindy Kaling’s book where she makes them rip open the back of a size 2 dress that she wants to wear for a photoshoot. Atta girl, Mindy!) Octavia, though, has consistently shown that this doesn’t have to be the case. She looked fabulous last year, and she looks amazing again this year. I love the asymmetrical shoulder, the contrast between the bodice and the gown, the soft off-white color — everything about it flatters her, and she looks stunning.

Image Source: HuffingtonPost.com

Amanda Seyfried: The cut of this dress is spectacular. The halter neck, the keyhole  top, the fabric (granted, my first reaction with anything like this is something to the effect of “OOH, SPARKLES!”), and the way it’s form fitting without being over the top (cough cough — Angelina Jolie — cough cough) all join forces to create a fantastic look for her.

Image Source: Hollywire.com

Jenna Dewan-Tatum: Ok, so someday when I’m pregnant, I fully anticipate that I’ll continue wearing my usual get-up of yoga pants, a t-shirt, and flip-flops. Getting glammed up probably won’t even be on the radar for me, since it’s barely on the radar for me now. But holy heaven, Jenna Dewan-Tatum look amazing. The black lace dress is gorgeous in every way: the fabric, the cut, the fit, and the way she wears it are all fantastic.

Image Source: usmagazine.com

What were your thoughts on the Oscars? Did you like who won the big awards?