Ashley Tisdale has been up since 4 a.m. promoting her debut album, Headstrong. But you'd never know it. "Retail therapy always revives her," jokes her mom, Lisa Tisdale, 51. (The venti caramel frappuccino that Ashley downed might've helped too). The self-confessed "shopaholic" took PEOPLE's Rennie Dyball along for the spree and chatted about everything from favorite purchases to musical inspirations and the highly anticipated HSM2.

• THE BAG LADY
Even before the Disney Channel made her a star (she's also on their series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody), "I've always loved to shop," says Tisdale, 21. "Designer purses have been my downfall." Still, "I'm not into getting one item that's really pricey. I like to buy a bunch of things." Label-wise, "Marc Jacobs, Bebe, Diesel and L.A.M.B. are my favorites. I love Gwen Stefani. She sets trends."

• FROM THE HEART
"I really want my fans to connect with me–my album's kind of an open journal," says Tisdale, citing Nick Lachey's 2006 album What's Left of Me as an inspiration. Seriously? "Yeah! He really put it out there. You get to know him and everything he was going through."

• CHART ATTACK
How does it feel to follow up the No. 1 High School Musical soundtrack? "I do feel pressure," she says. "I don't know how my album's going to do, so at least I've been No. 1 on Billboard once!"

• GUY ISSUES
Don't expect the single Tisdale to settle down with an A-lister anytime soon. "Unless it's Jake Gyllenhaal," she says. Her ideal guy? "Down-to-earth. My friends who are actors take a really long time to get ready–longer than I do! I don't know if I could be with someone like that. But I met Jake and he's really down-to-earth. And cute."

• WEEKEND UPDATE
Unlike many of her pop star counterparts, "I'm such a fan of being at home," says Tisdale, who lives in an L.A. condo near her parents. The perfect Saturday night? "At my house, watching a movie." What's more, "I don't drink, I don't smoke, and I don't really go to clubs," she says. "All people do there is stand around."

• SEQUEL SECRETS
Fans are coveting details about the upcoming High School Musical 2. Tisdale too. "I haven't read the script–haven't even gotten it," she says (filming starts in March, and it debuts in August). But she does know this: "School's out for summer, and it takes place at a country club. So it could be like a Dirty Dancing. We'll see."

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