So I’m trying to win a free vacation

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I’ve been trying to win a vacation online since January 2015.

Up until now, I’ve just gotten some promotional, newsletter-y emails at my win-a-vacation specific gmail account. They are normally from Sandals.com, the Travel Channel and wherever else I’ve signed up. Other than that, I’ve been virtually unbothered and totally out of luck.

Until today.

My phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize. Because I’m on the prowl for a new job, I thought the call was from a place I had recently interviewed and my heart jumped. Here it is! My new life!

“Congratulations!!!” said the person on the other end of the line.

I thought it was a weird way for a place to tell me I got the job, but it’s 2015 and everyone is losing their minds so fucking hard, so I shrugged it off. That’s so festive! And amazing for me! But sadly, no. It wasn’t them.

The phone call was actually an automated woman that went on to tell me free cruise tickets were waiting for me (!!!) and all I had to do was answer a few simple questions.

The questions went as follows:

“Do you have any pain in your joints or muscles? Press 2 for yes, 3 for no.” uhhhh sorta but I don’t want them to know that. I pressed 3.

“If I told you there were medical breakthroughs in non-habit forming, pain relieving topical creams, would you be interested? Press 2 for yes, 3 for no.” I pressed 3, but in hindsight I should have pressed 2.

Then they asked me if I had health insurance and something else I forgot.

I was hoping for more questions about topical creams and to hear about other sketchy medical breakthroughs that might change my life in the worst way possible if I ever used them. But this automated message had no time to fuck around.

“For two free tickets sending YOU and a guest on a cruise in the Bahamas, press 1 after this message, and a travel coordinator will call you in the next 24-48 hours. “ Wow, that was fast! I thought.  Bahamas here we come!! My boyfriend is gonna FLIP! 

However, seconds later my hopes to finally win a free vacation were dashed, just like that time in 2006 I realized “doing fashion in Spain” wasn’t a viable career.

The automated message HUNG. UP. before I had a chance to alert the eager travel coordinator that I wanted my two free tickets. How could this have happened to me? MEEE!!!!

I felt tricked. Foiled. Humiliated on my own couch! How dare they turn me into a focus group participant without delivering their reward!

10 minutes later, after I had consoled myself with a fresh bag of Pop Secret, I got a call from what my phone said was coming from a Hollywood, FL. (Is that not the saddest imagery EVER for a city? I need that t-shirt ASAP.)

I answered.

“Hello?” I said in my normal, casual tone of inquiry.

No answer. Maybe they didn’t hear me, I thought.

“Hello??” I said, this time louder and with a bit more gumption.

Still no answer. Am I being fooled here? AGAIN? On my own couch, for the second time in one day? How much more of this can I take?

I hung up the dead line and sighed heavily. I guess I’m not winning any vacation today. But on the bright side there’s always tomorrow. And every day after that until I win a goddamn free vacation on the internet or via phone scam. I’ll keep you posted.

The nostalgia of chain restaurants

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I’m not afraid to say it: I enjoy the occasional trip to a chain restaurant. The guarantee that the food will be mediocre and really salty is sort of enchanting. Like a fairy calling your name from the suburban woods, telling you to come home because Grandpa’s sick and your colon hasn’t been blasted by shoddy food in a while.

Growing up in the Midwest, I took a lot of road trips. A move from Kansas to Minnesota when I was 10 meant that we were haulin’ it every summer and holiday to go home to Kansas to see friends and family.

When you’re in the car for 8-10 hours in one day with your nuclear family, staring at majestic corn fields, smelling luscious dad farts and spitefully snacking on the healthy nut mix your loving mom packed while suppressing a Preteen cry for Cheetos, there’s no room for debate about which quaint Midwest country restaurant you and yours will dine at during your trip. You need dependable food and a familiar menu before anyone has a hunger meltdown in your prestigious Dodge Caravan.

As was normal on many road trips down I-35, my parents awoke me from the third nap of the day at 12:30pm, which meant it was time to start hunting for the highway “FOOD” signs.

The way it worked was if you’ve never heard of the restaurant before, we’re not going there. Oh, no commercial on national television? In your dreams, Shane’s Rib Shack. Take a hike, Grandma’s Kitchen. Nice try, Lou’s Food Emporium. 

Back in 1998 when I was 10, there was no internet in your hand and on-the-go. Taking a risk on a lesser known restaurant was not something any travel fatigued family wanted to do. Stopping to eat takes up valuable road time and you mustn’t take chances on unknown places. What if their decaf coffee is terrible, sending mother into a tailspin worse than you letting your Gigapet starve to death? What if they don’t have chicken strips? You simply can’t take risks like that when you’re travelling with anyone. The fallout would be unbearable in such close farting quarters.

Luckily, all the Chili’s, Applebees and Pizza Huts were conveniently located next to the highway so we only had to argue over which chain to eat at, significantly lowering the number of “I’M NOT EATING THERE!!!” screams from my preteen big mouth.

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The dependable chain restaurant food was just that: dependable. The chicken strips were gorgeous, the Heinz ketchup was perfectly room temperature, and the Pepsi on tap was always a disappointment. It was heaven. Plus, where else are you gonna get a plate with cheeseburgers, criminally delicious SOUTHWEST ROLLS, and the mythically “loaded” potato skin boats all in one place? It’s the definition of heaven on a plate. The menu at any one of these fine chain restaurants is the definition of mediocre innovation–but that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful.

Now that I’m older and live in a big city, of course I have better taste, I’m not a total jerk. But once in a while, something greater than me pulls my body out to the suburbs like an alien magnate, where I find myself alone and uncontrollably smiling inside of a Chili’s. Yes Amanda, I AM just a party of one. Perhaps it’s because it reminds me of being young, or maybe it’s because you can’t get good chicken strips at nice restaurants. Whatever the case, chain restaurants will without a doubt always hold a beautiful mini-chimichanga space in my heart.

Serene Supreme polaroid photo shoot with DENNIS

DENNIS by Serene Supreme

DENNIS by Serene Supreme

If you follow the Minneapolis music scene, you’ve probably seen Polaroid pics of shows and parties shot by Serene Supreme. She’s the IT girl photographer of the music scene and she’s amazing. She shot Sarah and I last weekend for our music project DENNIS. Check out the post here and take a look around her website because she has some really cool shots of a ton of talented artists.

We wanted to include the t-shirts and sweatshirts that I hand paint with glitter on my bedroom floor and sell on our website. They started out as theme shirts for our last album “Don’t Fall in Love,” but the fun just didn’t stop. We kept creating more beyond the original “YUCK” shirts and went on to make “BARF,” “WORST,” and a new one “U.F. FAUX.” Take a look at our website here and see if any fit your fly ass style.

Katie (ME!) by Serene Supreme

Katie (ME!) by Serene Supreme

3 ways to better your wardrobe in 2015

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Every New Year’s Day, thousands of people make resolutions to get in shape in order to look better in their clothes. It’s an honorable goal, of course, and one that I regularly make for myself, but I’ve chosen to take a different route this time.

This year, my resolution is to make my clothes do the work to look better on me. I’m completely voiding myself of responsibility. It’s not me, it’s you.

Being that I’m on a tight budget this year, it’s my goal to make what I already have in my closet work for me in the best possible ways. Take a look at these three tips that can help you do the same.

Find Bras That Fit Right

Some clothes can look unflattering just because of what you have underneath them. Thongs may have helped women once in the way of panty lines. Given the number of us still wearing the wrong bra size, though, it’s a wonder we’re not just as concerned about back-bulge and under-boob spillage as we are with a VPL.

As Adam & Eve explains in this guide, well-fitting undergarments like bras help can help lift, shape, and smooth certain areas of your body that ill-fitting pieces can cause to look unflattering. For some, it can be beneficial to be professional measured. As a general point of reference for determining your size, A&E suggest comparing your breasts to the size of fruit: Plums = AA or smaller; lemons = A; oranges = B; grapefruits = C; and melons = D. You may just find that the right bra helps give your clothes a whole new look.

Make a Resolution to Buy Timeless Pieces

I love indulging in trends as much as the next girl. However, I’ve found it a lot more economical to invest in long-lasting, classic accessories in lieu of ones I’ll only wear for a season. That’s particularly true when my fashion budget is limited.

She Knows made a list of the “Top 10 Timeless Accessories” back in 2011, and every product included remains relevant today. From pieces that can work with a formal attire (tortoiseshell sunglasses) to the more casual accessories (an oversized carryall bag), their list gives a comprehensive look at pieces that have proven to stand the test of time. These also give you the best bang for your buck!

Learn How to Properly Launder Your Clothes

Sure, you probably learned how to turn over a load of laundry once you went away to college, but don’t pat yourself on the back for your Home EC skills just yet. With different fabrics, stitching, and even the occasional beading, washing the wardrobe of a fashionista isn’t as simple as separating the darks from the lights. Taking the time to properly clean those pieces based on material and/or by reading the laundering instructions on the tag can help them keep their color, quality, and especially their shape. Doing all of this can help to extend their longevity, meaning they’ll keep looking great on you.

If you have no idea what those little symbols on the tag mean, use the Home Laundering & Drycleaning Symbols guide from Textile Affairs. Also, if you’re anything like me and take something that says “dry clean only” to mean that it’s never, ever going to get washed—put on your big girl panties, and pay the $2 or so to get it cleaned. If it needs dry cleaning, it’s probably a nicer piece that you don’t want ruined from improper washing—or three-month-old cocktail stain.

A lot of people focus on making their body work for the clothes, but I say make the clothes work for your body. With a little conscientious buying, you can make your entire closet seem as if it was tailor made for you. No wardrobe (or body) overhaul necessary.

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Joan Didion for Celine is PERFECTION

Joan Didion for Celine

Joan Didion for Celine

I have always been a champion of fashionable ladies in their late years. Because why the fuck not! You can be anything you want for as long as you want. Celine, you rock for hiring Joan Didion, acclaimed author and all-around-badass lady, for your new campaign. Such a winner. I love it so, so, so much.

Not only does she look amazing, but this campaign might just inspire a whole new generation of kids to pick up one of her books. Check them out on Amazon and see if anything sounds good. I know I will be.

What do you think? Tell me your opinion below.

P.S. It reminds me of a fabulous documentary called “Advanced Style,” based on the blog about seriously stylish and vibrant old ladies in NYC. Take a look at the trailer and watch it on Netflix if it’s still there. It inspired me even more to dress however I please. Go with your style pulse. Definitely worth it.

A Nickelodeon Slime cocktail

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I invented an amazing cocktail just this evening inspired by 90s pop/soda/sody pop.

My roommate ordered a case of Surge off of Amazon, because apparently they sell Surge again now (sooo future). He bought them to give to coworkers as a nice and cool thing to do for the holidays. But we totally ripped into them the second they landed on our doorstep because how could you not? Nobody remembers what the fuck Surge tasted like. Just some blur of a neon, Secret World of Alex Mack, piss-colored 90s children’s soda.

This cocktail I made is inspired by everything Surge makes you think about and feel. Chemical spills, Nickelodeon and peeing your pants in front of your crush – and liking it – on a school field trip in kindergarten.

Photo from CNN

Photo from CNN

Ingredients:

Surge

vodka

3 ice cubes

1 orange

1 lowball glass

1 knife or whatever people use to peel stuff for cocktails

Put the ice in a glass. Pour your beloved amount of vodka. Pour your beloved Surge in the glass until it turns… pretty green. Take the orange and peel off a strip of orange rind. Place it in the drink wherever you think it fits.

ENJOY.

The Voice is a bullshit vehicle for stars with dead careers

image from an episode of 30 Rock

Image via an episode of 30 Rock

I do not watch shows like The Voice or American Idol. I think they are lame. I’m all for entertainment and shit, capitalism is whatever, but the false hope that these shows instill in the thousands of forgettable people who are featured season after season makes me sick.

It’s true that SOME people have come out of singing competitions like American Idol with a successful singing career. Kelly Clarkson had a good run. That bald guy from American Idol is doing okay I guess. Clay Aiken was on an episode of 30 Rock once. Out of the 13 seasons of American Idol, Carrie Underwood is by far the most successful. But that’s 13 seasons and only 4 people that are only kinda-maybe culturally relevant today.

As for “The Voice”, I can’t even tell you one person who has had mainstream success. That’s because it’s a pretty transparent vehicle to launch the stagnant careers of its already famous, millionaire coaches.

Exhibit A: Gwen Stefani’s new single “Baby Don’t Lie”

As you may or may not know, Gwen Stefani is a coach on the current season of “The Voice.” Which is weird, right? Because she hasn’t been relevant in the music industry since her solo albums in the mid 2000s. Sure, No Doubt tried to come back in 2012 with their album “Push and Shove” but it didn’t really land anywhere mainstream.

But wait! Today (October 27) she just released a new solo single called “Baby Don’t Lie,” while she is currently serving as a coach on “The Voice.” What a coincidence. Where does she find the time?! I mean, when’s a better time to try and restart your music career than when you’ve been hired to “coach” a “singing competition” on network television?

Exhibit B: Rotating judges on “The Voice” and subsequent releases

Christina Aguilera? Dead career. Usher? Pretty sure dead career, but maybe I’m just not aware of his phantom hits somewhere. Cee Lo Green? “Fuck You” was cool 4 years ago. Shakira? Released a song with Rihanna called “Can’t Remember to Forget You” in between her season 4 and season 6 coaching duties.

Don’t even get me started on Maroon 5. (PLZ for the love of god stop howling at the moon on the radio) I don’t even know what a Blake Shelton is so I won’t go there.

In addition to using the show to promote their own music careers, the fact that the coaches actually perform on “The Voice” chaps me to the core of my chapable human parts. It’s not about you, famous people. JESUS. 

Take this video, for example, of Gwen Stefani performing her biggest solo hit ever “Hollaback Girl” on “The Voice.” I love Gwen Stefani, really. But she is not a singer that I would regard as being able to give anyone a whole lot of singing tips. Especially when the song she chooses to perform on the singing competition show is one where she is talk-singing over backing vocals. Which is totally fine, I ain’t no vocal performance snob. But it’s a singing competition show. The point of it is singing well, not getting by with what ya got. That’s called real life.

Exhibit C: The music industry has been wearing sweatpants in its mom’s basement for over a decade

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Look, we all know the music industry struggles everyday to make money. Small artists definitely struggle, and big artists struggle to make millions off of their music, not including the 7 perfumes they launched this year and a fucking clothing line at Kmart.

Blame it on Napster, blame it on people not respecting time-based art, blame it on the rain. Probably blame it on MTV somehow too.

Let’s not be idealistic idiots. Money is fun. These coaching gigs pay a fuckton of money, so I understand why someone would want to be a coach on a huge show like “The Voice.” They not only get a sick paycheck but they also get to promote their brand. Neat. But taking advantage of these idiot nobody singers (I say with love!) trying to make it big in a show that will never make them big is fucking rude.

Let’s get real: most of these nobody singers are not going to have a singing career after their stints on “The Voice.” They are used as props to fuel viewer engagement and promote the artists telling them they’re “great” and they “love what ur doing” and “ur gonna b a star.” As sickly entertaining as it is to watch people’s dreams get crushed on shows like these, can’t we find another way to promote music on primetime TV that doesn’t involve monetizing false hope in the hearts of starving singers?

COMMENT BELOW and tell me what you think.