Spotlight on: Trader Joe’s Bath and Body

Recently, my friends Regan and Katie from Cardigans and Couture, posted about their go-to Trader Joe’s food recommendations. As a frequent TJ’s shopper, I couldn’t agree more with their recommendations (though I might add this and these to the list), but it also got me thinking about all of the bath products that I use from Trader Joe’s. Here’s what I’d add to their list from the TJ’s “beauty department.”

I keep this hand soap in my kitchen at all times. It’s smells great, and it lasts forever. Don’t believe me? Here’s a great review from the I’m A Trader Joe’s Fan blog.

Speaking of lavender, this all-natural scrub is great for the shower. I use it after shaving to get really smooth, soft skin. Joluxe blog happens to agree with me.

Since we’re talking about shaving, I highly recommend the honey mango shave cream from TJ’s. It’s gentle on skin, smells great, and you don’t have to deal with a rusty can of shaving cream crudding up your tub! Check out what the gloss has to say on the subject.

This is my most recent TJ’s discovery, and I’m totally in love! It gives your scalp a tingly feeling when you’re using it, and doesn’t cause unnecessary buildup. At $3.99 a pop, it’s well worth the price. Urban Bush Babes put together a great review. Oh, and there’s conditioner too!

What about you? Have any items to add to this list?

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Correspondents Dinner Rundown

This weekend’s dinner was a huge success! There is nothing like spending a Saturday night hobnobbing with celebrities (and by hobnobbing, I mean standing next to and staring at celebrities).

First things first, the outfit. After much hemming and hawing, I opted to wear a dress I already owned. I tried to get this dress from Rent the Runway, but I couldn’t get it in time for the dinner.  I looked at other options, but the ones the I liked were all well over $200 to rent. As we know, I had a $150 budget for the dinner so that wasn’t going to work. I decided to spend my budget on primping instead. I got a mani pedi at my favorite nail place, Vicky’s, and then hit VSL for my up do (thanks to my fairy godmother). Here is the final result (photos courtesy of my fabulous and patient neighbor). You might recognize the earrings from an eBay oops earlier this year.

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The hair was ok. I  always have high hopes that it will look different when I get it done, but it always ends up looking the same. In the back was a simple bun – no photo needed. I wanted to do something easy since I was going to a cheaper place. I will say that she did a nice job, and I was happy with my $58 spent. I think next time I need to put more thought into what I want and maybe I’ll get that spectacular look I was hoping for.

The party, on the other hand, did not disappoint. I get sheepish about approaching celebrities for pictures, so I don’t have a ton of those. I did manage a spectacular photo bomb in my friend Kyle’s picture with Ty Burrell at the ABC party. When I realized what was happening, I knew I had 2 choices – duck or embrace the moment. Clearly, I embraced.

CKR_MS_Ty

Amazing right? Something about movies stars turns me into a total nut. Sigh. At one point during a mid-dinner ladies room run, I found myself sharing the bathroom with Amy Poehler, Olivia Wilde, and Morena Baccarin from Homeland. I couldn’t bring myself to ask for a picture in the ladies room, so I just I washed my hands for a very long time and then left when I was on the verge of being a real creep.

All in all, it was a pretty amazing evening. I was happy with my outfit, and I didn’t spend a million dollars either. Total budget breakdown below:

Dress and jewelry: FREE
Hair: $58 plus tip (courtesy of the hair fairy)
Nails: $42 plus tip (sponsored by my Aunt who took one look at my toes on friday and said “I hope you’re going to do something about those”)
Uber ride to the party (to arrive in style): $22
Taxi home: $8

Total expenditure: $148
Minus subsidies (Thank you Aunt T and my fairy godmother!!): -$118
GRAND TOTAL SPENT: $30

Not too shabby for a star-studded evening if I do say so myself! What do you think?

 

An Ode to the Hair Fairy

I have a new godmother. A FAIRY godmother to be exact. I have had regular godmothers since I was born – three of them to be exact – but this is my first fairy godmother. And man, did she show up at the right time.

My mom called me yesterday to tell me that someone dropped an envelope for me at her house, and curiously the return address was from “the hair fairy”.  We both were stumped (and still are, to be honest) about who it could be. Anyway, I finally got to pick it up this weekend, and lo and behold my hair fairy has given me a “sponsorship” for my White House Correspondents dinner up-do. Woo hoo!

I’m headed to VSL Hair Design in Dupont Circle tomorrow where there up dos start at $58. My grandmother always focused on the front of the “do” versus the back. She said that no one should be spending any time looking back there. So with that in mind, I’m looking to do something simple in the back and looser in the front. Perhaps something like this, courtesy of Dianna Agron.

T-minus 12 hours till dinner time. Do we think this will work?

Dressing the Part

I AM actually making an effort to get over my gratuitous March spending, but April is turning out to have a lot of stumbling blocks. Something about springtime makes me want to have dinner and drinks out every night! Ugh.

While I’ve managed to keep it mostly in check, my biggest challenge is coming up in 2 weeks. I’ve been invited to be a guest at the White House Correspondents dinner. Woo hoo! I was actually lucky enough to go last year, and it was a blast. The best people watching ever – there were movie stars literally everywhere. It was totally cool and very intimidating.

To give you a sense, here’s my favorite picture from last year. It’s just me, my table mate (who was very nice), and our good buddy Reese Witherspoon. NBD. Reese was super pregnant in this picture BTW, and you can’t even tell. Totally sickening.

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Anyway, I can’t just show up to this thing in some old frock when there are people running around looking as awesome as (pregnant) Reese. But, then again, I don’t really need to be spending a zillion dollars on a new ensemble either. Hence the dilemma.

Last year, I bought a new dress, earrings, and lipstick (Note: Due to my new years resolutions, I haven’t bought a new lipstick since January. It’s KILLING me.). I also had my hair done (we all know that Reese didn’t do that herself!), and hopped an Uber to and from the event. Obviously, I ran up quite a tally.

This year, I’m attempting to do it for a fraction of the price. My goal is to get it all – new dress, hair, everything – for $150 or less. For dress, I’m looking at Rent the Runway, eBay, and other consignment stores (Current and Ella-Rue are my favorites), but haven’t found anything yet. The hair is also a challenge. Despite all of my googling, yelping, and other general research, I cannot seem to find an updo in DC for less than $80 plus tip. $80 to stick my hair in a bun. No thank you.

Obviously, I have my work cut out for me in the next two weeks. I’m not afraid to do things by myself – I just don’t want to look like I did it myself. Make sense?

What do you think – can I do it? If you have any suggestions to help my cause, please send them my way! I can use all the help I can get.

P.S. If I had unlimited funding (Read: $1,990), I would wear this. Sooo awesome.

Fringe Benefits

For the past several weeks, I’ve been in desperate need of a haircut. DESPERATE. I hadn’t had a cut since my Aveda Institute experience in October, so clearly it was time. Though I made it out of the Aveda Institute unscathed, I decided to try a slightly pricier, but still discount option.

Fringe Hair Studio is a wonky little salon within walking distance from my Georgetown pied-da-terre. I started going there after I became outraged at the unmemorable $90 haircut that my old salon gave me. Essam and his team are great. The place is understated, but the stylists know what they’re doing (unlike my friend from the Aveda Institute). And they are reasonably priced to boot!

I went to see Abbie last week to fix my sad situation. The Aveda cut ended up being a great one, but it had grown out too much. Abbie took the cut to the next level by adding more layers, so it has a bit more shape. Results are below (apologies for the sad photo – I’m terrible at self portraits).

haircut

Hair Cut: $55

Tip for shampoo: $5 (the man had magic fingers. MAGIC.)

Tip for the cut: $10

Total cost: $70

(Price differential between Aveda Institute is $56 – STEEP. But probably worth it for peace of mind, no?)

What do you think? Too expensive for what I got or is this the bargain of the century? I’m not above going to some other place that’s a better deal. Got an idea? Send it my way!

Splurge vs. Save – Blowout Results

Weeellll, my bright idea was only marginally bright. All-in-all Bubbles did a great job. I sailed in a few minutes before my appointment and was seated on time with a nice, knowledgeable stylist. We decided on loose curls/waves for my doo. I actually have wavy hair, and having seen my stylist at DryBar blow dry beach waves into my hair, I figured it was easy to do.

However, my stylist took a different approach. She dried my hair first with a round brush, and then when I asked for more waves, she broke out the curling iron. What I didn’t realize was that a full treatment with the curling iron was $10 extra! So my nice cheap blow out became a $41 proposition. What do you think? Was it worth the extra dough?

blowout

Add my more expensive blow out to my impromptu manicure that I got just before the appointment, and it turned out to be rather an expensive day. Not the best way to end my inaugural year as the Discountess. Eek!

I guess the silver lining of all this is that I’m smarter now about how to get an inexpensive blow out. I still think it’s a good idea, as long as you know the right questions to ask. If Bubbles isn’t close to you, here are some other area salons that do blowouts on the cheap:

Aveda Institute in Chinatown – For a level 2 (Level 2 means a more experienced student), the cost is $20. It wouldn’t have worked for my Monday New Year’s party because they’re only open from Thursday to Saturday, but for a regular weekend on the town it would work like a charm.

Paul Mitchell Salon School in Tysons – For all you Virginia readers, this is a good option in your hood. A phase two student blow out will only cost you $15!

The Hair Cuttery on Connecticut Avenue (just below R Street) – Here you will have an actual qualified professional do your hair for $18.

Got a good option not listed above? Let me know, and I’ll give them a shot!

Splurge vs. Save – Blowouts

With New Years Eve almost upon us, I have been thinking about what I’m going to wear. Due to my reckless spending during December, I need to shop in my closet for my outfit (which makes me feel totally lame). BUT, everyone wants to look good on New Years, so I decided to treat myself to a blow out before my night on the town.

My darling brother gave me a gift certificate to DryBar for Christmas – the new blow out salon in DC. I visited the DryBar in New York during my last visit, and it was quite the experience. For $40, you got bottomless champagne, a shampoo, and a blow out. I paid $10 extra dollars to my stylist to rub my head for 10 minutes. I HIGHLY recommend this. In fact, I would wash my own hair and show up there just to have them massage my scalp. It was awesome.

Unfortunately, all of their appointments are booked for new years (and at $40 a pop, my pre-gift certificate self was not in a hurry to make an appointment). So I’ve been looking for a low-cost alternative.

Enter Bubbles Salon.

It’s about a 4 block walk from my office, and according to their website, they will do a shampoo and blow dry for $25. They say that cost depends on how long and thick your hair is, but my shoulder length blond locks shouldn’t put me in a higher price bracket. Of course, there is no champagne and no head rub, but I’m hoping that I will still get a fuss-free blow out that will make my old outfit on New Years look like new.

I have an appointment tomorrow after work. Best case scenario, I get a great look for my New Year’s party. Worst case it goes up in a bun for the evening. I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

The Grand Hair Experiment – Part 1

I need to get my hair cut. Most women know that this means dropping upwards of $75 for the cut and an extra $5 – $10 (depending on how stingy you are) on the tip! At one point several years ago, I was paying $90 plus tip for a blunt cut bob that anyone could do. Unreal!

Given my new-found frugality, that is not going to work anymore. I’ve always heard about the Aveda Institute – the cosmetology school that trains up and coming stylists and estheticians. They offer services (supervised by the teachers) at a far discounted rate.  Their haircuts range from $18 to $23, and they offer a full suite of spa services including nails, waxing, and facials.

I have my first appointment for a haircut and blow dry tonight. I’m thinking of something like this.

It’s not too far off from what I have now, so I’m hoping that it will be pretty easy to do. Wish me luck!

I’ll spill the details on the results tomorrow.