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Now that she's on her own, Simpson (left, in Beverly Hills on Jan. 29; right, in West Hollywood on Jan. 26) has hit the town, dining at trendy eateries Koi and Il Sole with pals including CaCee Cobb and having drinks with Eva Mendes. As for rumors of a romance with Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine? "She's not ready to date," says a source.
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Meanwhile, Lachey (on Jan. 26) already has a regular Thursday night date – cheering on brother Drew at his Dancing with the Stars performances. "Ever since he found out I was going to do it, he's been jokingly giving me a hard time," says Drew of his older brother.
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HITTING THE GROUND
Simpson turned a clumsy spill in an L.A. parking lot Jan. 20 into a photo op with sister Ashlee. "We're holding tight as a family," says Ashlee of nursing her sister through her breakup. "We all love and support her."
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DAY AT THE RACES
Lachey (waving the starter flag at the Ford 400 Nascar Nextel Cup in Florida on Nov. 23 – the day the breakup was announced) "is a good guy and we all liked him," says Simpson's uncle Gary Simpson. Proving just how good he can be: Over the holidays, the pop singer handed out presents in the pediatrics ward at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.
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At the People's Choice Awards on Jan. 10, Simpson gave a sexy performance of "These Boots Are Made for Walkin' " – and walked away with the prize for favorite song in a movie (The Dukes of Hazzard). The one downside: host George Lopez joking that Lachey couldn't be at the event "because they didn't need any more seat fillers." The comedian has since apologized.
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They sold their $3.75 million, 6,500-sq.-ft. Mediterranean style home in Calabasas, Calif., to Malcolm in the Middle actor Justin Berfield, and they're each moving on: In December, Simpson purchased a $3 million Beverly Hills home (top) and Lachey bought a modest house in his Cincinnati hometown with his father, John (bottom).
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Simpson, who lived with her family before marrying Lachey, has been enjoying her newfound independence by doing simple things – like shopping for groceries (in Beverly Hills on Jan. 12). "This is the first time she's making her own decisions," says a source close to the 25-year-old singer.
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CHARMED, HE'S SURE
Lachey, 32, lays on the charm for Twins star Molly Stanton while guest-starring on the WB show. The budding actor – who has had stints on Charmed, Hope amp Faith and American Dreams – has signed on to do a TV pilot in which he'll play a newly married pro baseball player.
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Just days after their breakup went public, Simpson and Lachey had somber talks over lunch with pals (left; on Dec. 5; right, on Nov. 29). "As upsetting as this is, she knows she made the right decision," says a Simpson pal about her filing for divorce on Dec. 16.
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Along with her pal and hairstylist Ken Paves, Simpson went on a shopping spree to an antique store in Hollywood on Dec. 4. Her scores: two 19th-century Louis Vuitton trunks, for which she shelled out $20,000.
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A self-avowed sports fanatic, Lachey (at a USC game against the University of Texas on Dec. 30) occasionally hosts college football segments for ESPN and has reportedly looked into becoming a co-owner of his hometown baseball team, the Cincinnati Reds.
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Making her first post-breakup appearance at VH1's Big in '05 Awards on Dec. 3 was tough for Simpson, who won the Big Stylin' award for her fashion sense. She "didn't want to go," says a friend. "Her friends had to convince her she had done nothing wrong and to hold her head high."
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Still cordial, "they've talked less and less," says a source about the onetime lovebirds. Simpson (in Hollywood on Jan. 28) is working on new music and films (including the comedy Major Movie Star) and has endorsement deals. Meanwhile, Lachey (at the SAG Awards on Jan. 29) is recording his sophomore album and will launch the teen chat and networking site http://www.yfly.com.