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Bloggers Christie and Jess share their best and worst dating moments, what to do on a first date, and how to end a bad date early. By Emily Leaman
Jess and Christie after a night of partying in Philadelphia. Photograph by Chris Leaman

“Think of us as your online girlfriend.” That’s how bloggers Christie and Jess—who prefer to keep their last names out of the blogosphere—describe themselves on their site, City Girls World. Their blog is dedicated to all things women, from dating and advice to beauty and fashion. Oh, and there’s a good amount of shoe obsession, too.

Christie, who grew up in Vienna and now lives in Arlington, was the blog’s creator. When she launched the site in September, she convinced her best friend, Jess, a Philadelphia resident, to sign on as co-blogger. Though they blog from different cities, the pair has found a groove, posting regular features such as SingleGirl Chronicles, where they talk about their dating lives, and Ask Jess, an advice column.

We caught up with the perpetual 29-year-olds—“We’ve always felt 29 was a beautiful number,” they write—to get their picks for best date spots, biggest dating disasters, and the best pickup lines they’ve ever heard. Read on for their answers.

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Posted at 07:20 AM/ET, 12/02/2009 | Permalink | Comments ()
Architecture blogger Kashuo Bennett is up to bat this week. By Emily Leaman
Kashuo Bennett on the roof of the JW Marriott Hotel, overlooking some of DC's best buildings. Photograph by Chris Leaman

“I love photographing buildings,” says Kashuo Bennett. “It’s my church. I’m totally at peace.” Last January, Bennett started an architecture blog to share those photos with an audience.

On the Straight Torquer, he posts about modern architecture in Washington. While students and professional architects are his primary audience, Bennett says he’s found readers in passionate amateurs, too. His favorite way to find content? “I ride my bike around the city until I see a building I like.”

Bennett knows his stuff: After receiving a master’s of architecture from Virginia Tech in 2008, he moved to DC to work for a local firm. He spends his days designing buildings; right now, he’s working on a child-care center for the new headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration.

We caught up with Bennett to pick his brain about—what else?—Washington architecture. Greenest building? Favorite monument? Legos or Lincoln Logs? Read on for his answers.

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Posted at 06:34 AM/ET, 11/25/2009 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we explore Columbia Heights with blogger Andrew Wiseman. By Emily Leaman
Andrew Wiseman stops at 14th and Irving streets for a quick photo. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Andrew Wiseman has lived in Columbia Heights for 2½ years, but he’s been in DC for more than ten. The son of an Air Force officer, Wiseman says that’s a record: “I love DC—so much so, I’m even a Nats fan.”

Wiseman has been blogging about Columbia Heights since March 2008. He tried out lots of names for his site—Heights of Columbia (taken), New (Columbia) Heights (corny)—before settling on New Columbia Heights, a celebration of all the new shops, restaurants, and development in the DC neighborhood. Not surprisingly, Wiseman writes to an audience comprised mostly of his neighbors. He pens features on local bands, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, real-estate development, and even celebrity sightings.

We caught up with Wiseman to get the scoop on what’s new in his neighborhood. The best pizza spot? Architectural eye sore? Bizarre crimes? Read on for his answers.

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Posted at 07:06 AM/ET, 11/18/2009 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we talk hoops with Washington Wizards blogger Mike Prada from Bullets Forever. By Emily Leaman
Wizards blogger Mike Prada wearing his favorite jersey. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Mike Prada’s blog was named Bullets Forever by mistake. He’d been blogging under the name Bullets Fever—a nod to the Nils Lofgren song that was recorded after the team won the 1978 championship—when sports site SB Nation approached him about joining its blog network. Prada accepted, and when asked what he wanted his URL to be, he said “Bullets Fever,” but they heard “Bullets Forever.” “It was probably a blessing in disguise,” says Prada. “I bet a lot of Wizards fans don’t know who Lofgren is, and besides, lots of people—including myself—wish the Bullets never changed their name.”

Prada, a 22-year-old Bethesda native, has been a Wizards fan all his life. He started going to games with his dad in the late 1990s and continued to follow the team during college at Brandeis University. He wrote about sports for his college newspaper but missed being able to talk to fellow Wizards fans about his hometown team. That’s when he decided to start a blog.

Prada says he writes for an audience of avid Wizards fans who know the game and the team inside and out. He opens a comment thread for every game and encourages fans to post thoughts and commentary as the game is being played. Prada was able to score press credentials this season, so he also does interviews and reports during games and practices. Readers can blog, too—a section called FanPosts allows anyone to post a link, picture, quote, or video.

We caught up with Prada to get his predictions for the 2009-2010 season, which got underway two weeks ago with a win against Dallas. There’s already a lot to debate—the team’s new coach, Flip Saunders, and Gilbert Arenas’s health, for starters—so read on for Prada’s answers. Then leave your thoughts on the team in the comments section below.

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Posted at 06:34 AM/ET, 11/11/2009 | Permalink | Comments ()
We check in with members of Capital Weather Gang and get their forecast on everything from Thanksgiving weather to government snow days. By Emily Leaman
Will it rain? Jamie Jones, Jason Samenow, and Dan Stillman are trying to decide. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Jason Samenow launched Capital Weather Gang, a blog about Washington weather, in 2003. Back then, he was the only contributor. “I immediately recognized a blog’s potential to facilitate a two-way dialogue between readers and forecasters,” says Samenow. “I also liked the dynamic nature of blog content given the dynamic nature of weather.”

In 2004, Samenow enlisted weather techie Jamie Jones, who converted the site into a group blog and helped add contributors. Last year, the Washington Post picked up Capital Weather Gang to host on its own site. Entries run the gamut from daily weather forecasts (obviously) to weekly commentary on climate-change issues. Says Samenow: “We try to write accurate, informative, and entertaining posts for the Washington-weather consumer.”

Today the site has more than a dozen contributors, almost all of whom have other full-time jobs. We sat down with Samenow, Jones, and lead meteorologist Dan Stillman to get their bests and worsts on Washington weather. Read on for their predictions about everything from government snow days to Thanksgiving Day weather—and find out what they’ve promised to do if they’re wrong.

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Posted at 06:23 AM/ET, 11/04/2009 | Permalink | Comments ()
With the cold weather ramping up, there’s nothing we want more than a pumpkin beer and a warm fire. That’s why we recruited the guys behind DC Beer for a little advice on what to drink this fall, where to get it—and how to stave off a hangover. By Emily Leaman
Mehan Jayasuriya, Mike Dolan, P.J. Coleman, and Andrew Nations grab beers at the Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan. Photograph by Chris Leaman

DCBeer began as Mike Dolan’s personal blog—he’d post updates every now and then, but he lacked a real focus and regularity. Wanting to start a blog about the local beer scene, Dolan relaunched his site in June as DCBeer, and he and his friends Andrew Nations, Mehan Jayasuriya, and P.J. Coleman began posting about local craft brewers, homebrewing, bartenders, and more. They even started an e-mail newsletter and a homebrewing club, and they’re teaming up with bars to host tasting events; the second one is tonight at the Black Squirrel.

The site is geared toward beer drinkers, brewers, and bartenders, but you don’t have to be a connoisseur to get something out of it. In fact, the writers don’t even consider themselves experts: “I’m a beer enthusiast,” says Dolan. “But I guess I’ve read enough and tasted enough to at least pretend to be an expert.”

We caught up with the self-proclaimed beer nerds to find out what they’re drinking this fall. Read on for where they go for a good beer selection (not Brickskelller!), their favorite beer that comes in a can, and their ordering tips for beer virgins. Sláinte!

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Posted at 08:43 AM/ET, 10/28/2009 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we peruse the sale racks with bargain-hunting fashion blogger, Kelcey Ostrega. By Emily Leaman
Kelcey Ostrega poses for a nighttime fashion shoot. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Kelcy Ostrega started her fashion blog, What She Has . . ., as a New Year’s resolution in January. She calls herself a “blog-posting camel. I can go long periods without posting, but when I do, I’m loading up.”

Ostrega has always been interested in fashion, she says, “but I don’t really think I had any idea what I was doing until two or three years ago.” She attributes her evolving sense of style to her husband, Piotr. “He’s Polish and has that innate sense of European style that a lot of Americans lack,” she says. “I used to buy a lot of things just because they were a good deal, and he’s taught me to buy things because they look great on me.”

Even still, Ostrega is a bit of a bargain hunter. As the blog title suggests, many of her posts are wardrobe wish lists, but she has a real knack for finding high-fashion riffs at more wallet-friendly stores. Need proof? Check out her Fabulous Finds Under $50 list.

We caught up with this 28-year-old fashionista to chat about Washington style. Read on for her tips on glamming up a work outfit, her biggest fashion pet peeves, and where she goes to flex her bargain-hunting muscle.

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Posted at 07:02 AM/ET, 10/21/2009 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we try some hobbies on for size with the ladies from Dilettante Club. By Emily Leaman
The Dilettante Club tackles its latest challenge: learning to play bridge. Left to right: Nicole Bono, Amy Schirmer, Kathleen Canedo, and Amanda Lonsdale. Photograph by Chris Leaman

What’s a dilettante? According to Webster’s Dictionary, it’s “a person having a superficial interest in an art or a branch of knowledge.” In other words, a dabbler.

That’s exactly what the four women behind the blog Dilettante Club consider themselves. They’ve tried lots of hobbies, but none has stuck permanently. And that’s why they formed the club three years ago—to indulge their inner dilettante and give them an excuse to do lots of activities one time only.

Here’s how the club works: Once a month, the group assembles for an activity. The activity must be a one-time event that runs no longer than five hours, cost $100 or less, take place in Washington, and end with a recap over drinks and food. Activities have run the gamut from hula-hoop-making to ceramics to palm reading to self-defense. The group’s successes—and hilarious failures—are then documented on the blog.

The club was formed after a cocktail party when the women discussed their sordid hobbying pasts. Kathleen’s dilettante tendencies led her to hold ten jobs in 15 years. Amanda has dabbled in languages and knows several—but only at a novice-to-amateur level. While Amy became a dilettante for strictly practical reasons—she learned flute, for example, to join the band and avoid gym class in grade school—Nicole has tried lots of activities, such as field hockey and dancing, for the cute uniforms.

We caught up with the dilettantes to talk about—what else?—hobbies. Read on for their favorite and least favorite activities, the strangest thing they’ve ever dabbled in, and one activity they hope they never have to try.

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Posted at 07:11 AM/ET, 10/07/2009 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, We Love DC bloggers show DC some . . . er, love. By Emily Leaman
We Love DC bloggers Jenn, Shannon, and Don taking cover from the rain on R Street, Northwest. Photograph by Chris Leaman

We Love DC was born in 2008 after ten bloggers from Metroblogging DC decided to start a new site. They wanted independence from the city-blog network—declaring it on July 4, naturally—and have since nearly doubled their volunteer writing team and, in the past six months, tripled their monthly readers.

Don Whiteside and Jenn Larsen were two of We Love DC’s founders; Shannon, who likes to keep her last name under wraps, joined the blog in April. It runs the gamut on coverage—everything from urban culture to food to breaking news—and includes short, digestible items as well as long-form features. Don covers technology news—and uses his background as a software engineer to keep the site running—while Jenn covers nightlife and the arts, and Shannon writes on urban development, transit, and neighborhood news.

We caught up with the three Washingtonophiles to find out exactly what they love about our city. And because we couldn’t resist, we got the scoop on a few things they could do without, too.

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Posted at 07:27 AM/ET, 09/30/2009 | Permalink | Comments ()
This week, we dive into prepster men’s fashion with Off the Cuff blogger Chris Hogan. By Emily Leaman
Off the Cuff's Chris Hogan in a custom wool suit made by Washington-based VM Clothiers. Photograph by Chris Leaman

Chris Hogan started his fashion blog, Off the Cuff, in 2006, but his love affair with personal style goes back to 1992, when he landed his first retail job at a Ralph Lauren store. “Ralph is the master of lifestyle branding,” he says. “I learned a great deal about the psychology of branding and brand identification.”

Hogan takes those lessons to the entries of his blog, where he helps men discover a style that works with their lifestyles and reflects their interests. He writes to an international audience—Hogan counts approximately 16,000 readers a month in more than 40 countries—so he focuses less on labels and more on pinpointing classic trends. Because he hails from New Haven, it makes sense that Hogan identifies his own style as “Ivy League”—think East Coast preppy—but that doesn’t mean he recommends his look for everyone. “I try to help my readers navigate all of the options and understand that real style is very personal and starts with the individual,” he says.

We caught up with Hogan to chat about men’s fashion in Washington. Wardrobe basics? Fashionable politicos? Skinny suit or classic fit? Read on for his picks.

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Posted at 06:32 AM/ET, 09/23/2009 | Permalink | Comments ()