May the Road Rise to Meet You…

Well, the road certainly rose to meet me for this “adventure”. As soon as I said I wanted to go to Europe, the whole Universe conspired to make it happen. Around Christmastime, I casually mentioned  to my aunt that I wanted to visit Europe, namely Italy…or France…or Spain. She soon informed me that a First Class flight experience topped my 90-year old grandmother’s Bucket List, and that my uncle was able to cash in his flight points to make it happen, but that no one in the family was able to take her anywhere far enough away to make the flight worthwhile…

A few months later, on Valentine’s Day, my “cousin” – a silly formality for a woman who’s closer to a sister – birthed a sweet, red-headed Irish lass in a Dublin hospital, where her and her husband now live. I wanted to meet our new addition so badly, but I’d have to wait until they came to the US in June. Unless…My aunt asked – Would I be able to take my grandmother to Ireland, in exchange for a free luxury flight whenever I wanted? Umm, YES!

The “hitch” was that we had to fly out of Philadelphia, where my grandmother lives. Now that I live in Charleston and work remotely, I visit my Philadelphia office every 6 weeks. Luckily, I was able to schedule our Europe trip right after heading to the job site for a few days. That got me “back home”, so my super cute Nanny, Mary Ann, and I could hop onto an international flight from PHL to DUB.

I’d been to visit Ireland before, so this trip wasn’t about wearing the most fashionable clothing while traipsing around the Cliffs of Moher. It was about taking a thousand pictures of a child whose parents don’t want any of them posted on social media. It was about spending time with my “sister” and catching up on all of the loving insults that we share. It was about laughing at the joys of being a caregiver for the first time ever. It was about having tea with way too many sugar cubes in an Irish country manor house. It was about going shopping in downtown Dublin by myself, only to realize that I’d much rather get back home to that cute, cute baby. It was about getting flipped off by my Grandma when I told her she wasn’t allowed to save leftover First Class snacks.

I posted a few photos of my journey, wore a few outfits more than a few times, and laughed until I had tears coming out of my eyes. Although it wasn’t necessarily the Mediterranean vacation I had originally planned, Ireland sure made me feel lucky.

 

 

The Truth

Since the new year, I’ve been inspired to take this blog more seriously. But more than that, to fill in the gap with what I feel is needed. I am NOT an Instagram Model, and I don’t aspire to be. I want to be a Role Model. There are so many opportunities to compare yourself with others on social media, and it’s seriously exhausting. I’m hoping to take an alternate approach and tell it like it is: with humor, honesty, and a realistic budget for the everyday single woman. At this point, I don’t get anything for free. I buy everything myself. On one salary. And I want to show you how to “live an abundant life” the same way. It IS possible to live fabulously AND save at the same time, and never feel like you’re missing out!

Having said that – I’ve been sitting on this post for several months now. Half of me wanted to share all of my secrets, the other half wanted to keep it all to myself. But, I went to the Sisterhood One Night event at my church in September, and the guest female Pastor was speaking about when you’re vulnerable and share your struggle with other women, they can share in your miracles too. And it got me thinking, “I’m never ashamed to talk about the deals I’ve scored, so, why should I be ashamed about the other things I do to keep myself feeling good?” If y’all can share in my struggle of trying to keep up with all of the other women, then y’all can share in the joy about having it all. Suddenly, we are all on the same team! And instead of trying to out-do each other, we instead share in the sisterhood bond of taking advice and tips where we can, so we can be the best versions of ourselves. The best women to get tips from are the women we admire – The women who ask for help when they need it, women who live the lifestyle we aspire to, women who have the relationship we desire, women who have scored the boss-job we crave, and yes, women who admit that they go to Hair Cuttery for trims to save money. Today, I’m hoping I can be the sister that shares her vulnerability, so that we don’t feel alone in our struggle to do/be/have it all.


Do you ever see Instagram or Pinterest photos and think, “I didn’t even know women existed that could look like that?!” Every contour is perfect, hair is flowing, clothes are endless, bodies are incredible, homes are out of a magazine, engagement rings are the size of a small car, oh, and their husbands are usually millionaire models.

How do they do it?? Well, I can’t answer for everyone, and I surely have some things that could be improved (currently working on snagging all of the above). But, I’m going to speak some truth and tell you my tricks for making me feel like a goddess on an everyday budget:

Beauty

SAVE:

I paint my own nails. I like Sally Hansen’s Complete Salon Manicure line, with her Gel Topcoat. I can usually get 3-4 days out of that!

I swear by a good self-tanner. If I could only do one thing, it might just be this. I recently linked  a new self-tanner on my Instagram profile that I tried and loooooved called Skinerals. It comes in a “normal” color that they call Californium Original Blend, and an “extra dark” version called Onyx Extra Dark Blend. It’s way affordable and you can get it on Amazon Prime!

I purchase my services in packages. I like to say that the only Italian trait my mother gave me is thick body hair. So, waxing is a MUST. For my Philly fans, I used to see Annie Morris at Salon L for the past 12 years! They used to take a percentage off of your visit if you “checked in” on Facebook. They may have updated their policy, but you could always ask if there’s a “bulk” discount. And just this past week, I just started seeing Liz Bailey at Bikini and Bronze by Liz. She gave me a great (and *almost* pain-free) wax, and I bought a one-time spray tan session to be used at a future date, since it was a little cheaper to buy them together! Same thing with purchasing mani-pedis together, if I feel like treating myself!

I buy some drugstore makeup products. In the winter, I mix my usual Lancome foundation with a drugstore brand, and I use drugstore mascara. I’ve tried expensive brands, but I think I get similar results with cheaper brands!

SPLURGE:

I REALLY REALLY REALLY need to have a skincare routine, and if I did, it would be in this section. Currently, I’m still in denial that I’m at an age where I need a skincare routine. Also, feeling overwhelmed with my options and the cost. I’ll need to resolve this sooner than later 🙂

I use Rodan + Files LashBoost. Using Rodan + Fields LashBoost isn’t cheap. I usually pay $135 per tube, but it lasts me about 4-5 months. However, it beats the cost of getting lash extensions every 2 weeks. *Note: There’s TONS of reviews, likes and dislikes about this product. I’ve had great results and I love it, but there’s a few other options you can look into if you’re still feeling unsure!

I buy a few good-quality makeup products. I love Lancome, Makeup Forever, and The Balm for my splurges!

I had Invisalign. OK, so this could be an entirely separate post by itself. And it will be. But I did spend the money to get my teeth to where they are now. However, I was able to save in a few ways – my orthodontist generously gave me a discount because my ENTIRE family (Step-dad, mom, brother 1, brother 2, ALL got their braces there) and I paid for everything up front, which saved me an additional 10%. Altogether, I paid less than $2,000 to get a straight smile.

I got Zoom Whitening. I probably would have wanted to get this anyway, but, after the Invisalign, I wanted to get my bonding re-done. Bonding only lasts 10 years, and I was running up in the 15+ zone, so it was time. It doesn’t bleach, so, in order for the new bonding to match white teeth, I had to get this done before the bonding.

I have bonding. Genetically, the two teeth on either side of my front teeth are extra small. This is called peg laterals. “Thanks, Mom and Dad!” So, bonding, which is *kind of* like an acrylic nail for your teeth, has really been helpful to create a seamless smile. This only needs to be updated every 10+ years, so it’s definitely not a normal splurge item.

Hair

SAVE:

I go to Hair Cuttery/Great Clips for all hair cuts. *Insert shocked face* I know…Can you believe it? Since I only ever get a trim anyway, it doesn’t make sense for me to pay more than $20.

I only get balayage 3x a year. By choosing a method that doesn’t require too much upkeep, I can keep my costs down, but still feel bright and sunny.

SPLURGE:

I go to a good stylist. When I DO get my hair colored, I don’t mind paying a bit extra, especially because I only get it done every few months. Side note: I was enjoying a rare third mimosa at a restaurant this past fall, and couldn’t help but stare at a woman at the table next to me with perfect hair. I went over and asked her where she got her hair done, and she said she does it herself. SHE’S the stylist! Not only that, but SHE’LL COME TO YOUR HOUSE! Shout out to my girl, Jenna Frontiero #networkingwhiledrinking

Clothes

SAVE:

I shop at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and outlets. With so many bloggers linking their clothes to LikeToKNow.IT, and listing all of the sales, it makes it easier to navigate so many stores. But let’s face it, I cannot afford Nordstrom every week…even if the items are on sale. My post on my favorite jeans for “petite height with normal thigh width” girls is coming soon – but TJX always has my favorite brands. Going to outlet stores and/or signing up for their online notifications has allowed me to score some pretty great deals., especially at J Crew Factory.

SPLURGE:

I’ll *occasionally* get a few key pieces at a boutique. Sometimes you just need a few unique, good quality pieces. And I think it’s important to mix expensive and affordable items together. As I get older, I have a little more money to spend on myself, so sometimes I splurge. But, it’s funny, because there’s times when I still can’t justify spending money on clothes that I think I can find at a better price elsewhere. Case in point: The $108 Pistola boyfriend jeans that I did NOT buy, which I featured on my Instagram Stories today. But, I’m sure to check out the sales rack first to see what deals I can score. I never really did boutique shopping in Philadelphia (no idea why…) – I’m sure there’s PLENTY of cute shops there, but I do have a few favorite around Charleston. Post to come soon!

Fitness

SAVE:

I paid for a package gym membership. By paying for a 2 year membership in advance, I was able to save some money. Bonus, it includes ALL of the classes I want to take, so I have full-access!

I follow YouTube fitness videos in between trainings. Check out these videos that I watch to supplement my training and classes. I also follow Beach Body’s “Leandro Carvahlo’s Tummy Tuck videos from his Brazilian Butt Lift” series.

*Note: I’m not a fanatic about these, I just do them when I get bored.

I don’t drink too much alcohol. I’m not much of a drinker…I mean, if I could get drunk on Betty Crocker brownies, then I might have a problem, but I’d ALWAYS rather eat my calories. I’d say I might have 2 drinks a week. Maybe more, if mimosas are involved…

SPLURGE:

I pay for personal training. I see Tom at Pivotal Fitness 3 times a week for weight training. This cost was separate from my regular gym membership, but I really wanted some one-on-one time with someone knowledgable. Now that I’ll know how to use the machines, I’ll feel more comfortable doing this on my own, intermixed with classes.

MENTAL HEALTH

SAVE:

I listen to Abraham Hicks on YouTube. This is totally free and has helped me way, way, way more than anything has ever helped me before. It has opened the door for my relationship with God and to see the abundance around me every single day. Abraham has calmed me down and opened my eyes to the fact that every day is made for my enjoyment. And it’s true for everyone, which is so wonderful!

I go to Church. Now, this is something that’s kind of new for me. I mean, I was raised Catholic but would hardly consider myself “religious”. In Philadelphia, I occasionally attended Epic Church, but in Charleston, I’ve become really involved in Seacoast Church. It’s my time to reflect, pray, and mostly THANK God for everything I’ve been given.

SPLURGE:

I work with Jacki Crawford from Everybody Energy. Jacki has seriously turned my life around. I highly, highly, highly recommend talking to a therapist, meditating, going to yoga, reading, listening to inspirational speakers, going to Church, or whatever else gives you some mental peace and clarity. I can’t say that I would have always been ready for the kind of work that Jacki and I do – I had to get to a certain place of healing before she could help me be more “bright and shiny”, as she likes to say. But I can always talk to her about what’s going on in my life and we work on how to overcome any obstacles.

Home

SAVE:

I shop at HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, Target. I’ve found SO many pieces of furniture, accessories, lighting, bedding, dishes, and candles at these stores, that I can’t even imagine going anywhere else to buy things!

I repurpose hand-me-downs. I’m lucky to have some really great antique pieces that my family has given me. I love that they tell a story. My home feels so much like me, because it’s filled with my history.

Through my profession, I’ve been able to use my trade discounts on furniture. Everyone has a skill that they use to help them. I can get discounts on furniture, but I pay to get my taxes done…so, we’re even 🙂

SPLURGE:

I buy a few key pieces from brand name stores. A few years ago, I bought the Montclair sofa from crate&barrel. My first “Big Girl” piece. I love it and it was worth every penny.

Travel

SAVE:

I fly Frontier as much as I can. Frontier has awesome deals, so I check their site first when I’m booking my flight. Sometimes I even book one-way trips, since it can be cheaper to mix-and-match flights.

I choose all-inclusives. Let me just say that I’m a super snob when it comes to hotels. I never want to stay at a place that isn’t as nice as where I pay to live every day of the week, so I can be picky. However, I’ve found some excellent all-inclusive hotels in the Caribbean, and even better,  I could budget the entire tript by paying for everything together and upfront.

I stay with friends/budget hotels. Sometimes I’ll stay with friends or a cheaper hotel for a majority of my trip, so that I can stay 2 nights at a really fancy place.

SPLURGE:

I’ll stay at a nice hotel for a few nights max. By treating myself to a 2-night stay in a fancy hotel, I still feel like I”m living my best life, but not depleting my bank account!

Finances

I allot portions of my paycheck to savings/bills. This is one of my FAVORITE tips to saving money. I have a direct deposit to my savings account so I’m constantly saving with every paycheck. I also figured out how much of my paycheck needs to go to my bills, so I have that direct deposited into another account, meant only for bills. Anything else is for me!

I negotiate pricing for living arrangements. Often, apartment complexes will run holiday or seasonal specials. Look for them! If you live in an old house, like me, sometimes you can negotiate the cost, especially if you agree to stay for a longer term, or pay more upfront.

I take on side projects. I take on some side hustle if there’s something important that I’m saving for. I’ve been blessed to have some great, repeat clients that have helped me!

I cook most meals at home. I do go out to eat, but by cooking at home most of the time, I’m able to save some money there! This is SO hard to do in Charleston, because literally, every restaurant is unreal!

I really hope that spilling ALL of my secrets has been helpful. And, go ahead, tell everyone. These are the kinds of secrets that are meant to be shared!

❤ The Huntress

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Hanging Out At…My Apartment, Christmas Village, La Viola, and the Kimmel Center

nacho-libreIf we were playing What Do You Meme (got this for my brother for Christmas, so fun, you must play) that would be my caption.

I really enjoyed myself this season! The festivities began when I hosted my Dad and Barb for our annual celebration the weekend before Christmas. I love finding the perfect gift, making sure the house smells good, that there’s enough to drink, the music is playing at the right volume in the background, and thinking of the perfect menu for everyone’s dietary needs. My challenge: Something satisfying that was gluten free and didn’t have red meat or bacon. Here was my invitation and menu:2016-christmas-invite-blogThe Farmer’s Casserole recipe was from the Better Homes and Garden’s cookbook I got a few years ago as a Christmas gift 🙂 It was perfect, because the “crust” was made from crispy hash brown potatoes, and I eliminated the bacon! The chicken apple sausage from Applegate Farms is always so juicy and flavorful, Barb made the roasted vegetables (a crowd favorite). img_1797

The Gingerbread yogurt parfait was a much simpler version of Bobby’s Flay’s creation. Regular plain yogurt (I’ll use Greek in the future), mixed with maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, sliced bananas, topped with whipped cream and a gluten free gingerbread soft-baked cookie! It was really warm that day, so the whipped cream didn’t last too long 🙂img_1802

And then my favorite cold-weather drink…Caramel Apple Sangria. I’ve been making this for about 3 years and it never gets old 🙂 I posted about it before here. The original recipe is from The Wholesome Dish, but see my version below!

Caramel Apple Sangria

2 apples (I like Honeycrisp)

6 cups apple cider ( I like Red Jacket brand)

1 bottle white wine (I like Barefoot Moscato)

1 cup caramel vodka

1/4 cup caramel sauce

Mix and drink…liberally

And then, no Ferenz family gathering would have been complete without the props and selfies…
img_1806 img_1816img_1809My apartment is small, but I really do love to entertain. I’m thinking it should be a goal of mine in 2017.

I took a day off mid-week to stroll around the city and take in all of the Winter Wonders. The first stop was the Christmas Village in Dilworth Plaza. They have lots of local vendors that set up tents, and there’s a carousel, and food, and drinks, an ice skating rink, and lots of happy children!img_1848 img_1846img_1842They had a really cute photo spot with Christmas trees and a winter scene, but my arms were only long enough to capture the happiness that the whole season brings!

Afterwards, I treated myself Lobster Ravioli at one of favorite Italian restaurants, La Viola Bistro (East).img_1853And, obviously, I topped that carb-laden pasta off with some Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake.img_1854 I may be back in Philadelphia, but my Charleston appetite is here to stay!

And then off to the Kimmel Center, where I may have found myself a new annual tradition…my girl, Elise, at work told me that she was going to the Kimmel Center to watch Home Alone projected onto a big screen, while the Philadelphia Orchestra played the entire musical score. Ummm, yes please! After she told me this, I spent the next 2 days thinking about it, and then woke up on my day off, bought myself a ticket and enjoyed it, like no other! It was JUST like watching the regular movie, except that at the music parts, the orchestra would play. Heaven.img_1859 img_1861The music is already amazing, but being in this beautiful theater, knowing that Christmas was only 4 days away, it was about as close to a child-like Christmas magic I’ve felt in a long time 🙂

Then on Christmas Eve, I met my bestie, Sue, for a lovely brunch, where we talked, ate, and “aired our grievances“. img_1883

And then Iron Man and I jetted up to his hometown to spend time with his wonderful, loving, generous family ❤ img_1884After a late night of gift-giving, drinking, talking, and laughter, we got up early and made our way back so I could celebrate with my mom’s side!img_1904 img_1909img_1891Isn’t Caroline the cutest?! Her brother was supposed to be in the photos, but between the 32 people and 2 dogs in attendance, that photo ended up looking more like this:img_1900#truelife

And for the final Christmas Celebration of 2016, I got to spend some time with this little hunnie last night. Emmie in her feather boa. So cute!img_1942Hope ya’ll had as wonderful of a Christmas as me and my families!

I have a special post for tomorrow about my Word of the Year and an overview of last year’s word!

Life is Good.

bridge

To try and describe something that’s indescribable is always impossible. You try to find words that mean what you feel, but it’s like a phrase that doesn’t have a direct translation.

As I’m entering the last week of my trip, I’m realizing the impact that the last 2 months have had on my life.

The healing that has come out of this journey is really incredible. If that’s all that happened I would be grateful! It’s helped me to forgive myself, forgive others, and confidently lets me know that a different path is meant for me. It’s almost like a veil was lifted and I can finally start to appreciate all of the good in my life. It’s not that I couldn’t see it before, but everything has become brighter and clearer. But that’s not all that happened. I found my inner strength, gained confidence, was independent, and made some amazing friendships that I intend to keep forever.

I went out to dinner with a few friends tonight, and we were all talking about Charleston and what brought us here, and someone asked me, “What would you tell yourself 2 months ago?” And my answer really surprised me. “Nothing.”

My favorite part of this journey has been the NOT knowing. The beautiful unfolding of my life was so exciting when I DIDN’T know what was coming. This shocked me, because I’m constantly saying, “I just wish I knew what was coming next!” And for the first time in a long time, I’ve been happy with NOT knowing. With letting things happen as they do and enjoying the scenery along the way.

As I sit here, with my “butterfly bestie” Abbey’s beautiful piano song she played tonight still ringing in my ears, I’m trying to think of other
words that I can use to describe what this trip has meant to me, and I’m at a loss.

This rarely happens, so let’s relish in the silence, just knowing that life is good.

 

Food for Thought

I know I usually post so many things about where I’ve been eating and what I’ve been wearing, but lately, this trip has become more than all of that for me (even if I have been eating at great places and wearing fabulous clothes…)

I’ve really been enjoying expanding my circle of friends:

group-cocktail-club

On Friday, I met Amy (second blonde from left) at Black Tap Coffee so we could do some work out of the house. Not only did we get work done, but she also shared some great shopping sites:

Impressions

The Mint Julep Boutique

Dottie Couture Boutique

Magnolia Boutique

Ebates

After Amy left, I stayed for a while finishing up some things, and a gentleman sat down at the table next to me. We got to talking and it turns out he was visiting from Denver to officiate for his friends’ wedding. He was so excited to share with me that his wife was expecting their first child. He showed me pictures of her, because he thought “she looked so cute in this one”. It was obvious that the love he had for his wife and future son was just overflowing out of him, and he had to tell someone! My friend Sarah, and I call this phenomenon: “I can’t know it alone”. When you witness something so good or so bad that you just HAVE to tell someone because it’s basically bursting out of you! It was good to hear from a man that he loved his wife and was excited about a family. So excited, that he had to tell a stranger!

Michael said he was a pastor at a church in Denver. He asked me where I was from and how I ended up in Charleston. After telling him a little about myself, he asked if he could pray with me. Typically, I wouldn’t feel comfortable praying with a stranger in a public place, but for some reason, I felt like this is exactly what I was supposed to do. He left me with these words, “If God has confidence in your ability to make decisions, you should trust yourself to make decisions.” I’ve committed to making sure that I take advantage of every single little thing that is happening in my life now, so, hearing those words really resonated with me.

Then this morning, Abbey and I “Went on an Adventure” by walking Folly Beach out as far as we could to see Morris Lighthouse.img_0901 img_0899What started out as a morning beach walk turned into a wonderful whole day filled with meaningful conversation, lots of laughs, book recommendations, extra walks around the block, “double chills”, and cinnamon buns.img_0905You know when you meet someone and you just KNOW that your paths were meant to cross? Well, that’s how I feel about Abbey. She has such a gypsy spirit and radiates joy, no matter what lemons life throws her way. We got so caught up in laughing during lunch, that we may have even disrupted some of the other diners at the Lost Dog Cafe…#sorrynotsorryimg_0907I ended my day feeling grateful and happy and ready to accept the Universe’s plans for me tomorrow!

 

Whirlwind

I’ve really been off the radar, haven’t I??

My beautiful mother came to visit me last weekend, and we had the most wonderful time! I can’t believe this was the ONLY photo I have of us together!

img_0768

I picked her up from the airport on Friday morning and I had her traipsing all over Charleston in 86* heat. We went to lunch at Rue de Jean for a repeat meal of what I had before 🙂 And we talked, laughed, and talked some more, and then strolled King Street.img_0703 Before we knew it, we were both so exhausted we had to come home and take a nap! I guess from all of the walking and soaring temperatures, it didn’t give us much of an appetite for dinner, but she did request a Southern treat. So, after much research about the best place for macaroni and cheese, we ended up at Cru Cafe. And they did not disappoint. Not only were we seated at the sweetest table in the corner of the outdoor patio, but the mac n cheese was so buttery and a little bit crispy and amazing. That will be a place I’m hitting up again before the end of this month!

Saturday, we were up early and headed to the Farmer’s Market where we got brunch. Then it was off to see Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, the Batteryimg_0709White Point Gardens, and meander down cobblestone streets to marvel at the window boxes and other cute homes, like The Pink House at 17 Chalmers Street (which happens to be for sale right now!)

img_0704img_0708img_0706 img_0707img_0711 img_0712 Look at this tiny door! img_0713 img_0715Then we took a late trip out to Middleton Place where we  walked the incredible grounds. The last time I was there, my Dad and I spotted an alligator sunning itself on the lawn. I had a quick thought that I should mention this to my mom as we were walking the narrow path past the Butterfly Lakes. Well, as soon as I opened my mouth, my Mom grabs my arm and says, “Sarah, walk, walk quickly!” So, we held on to each other while laughing and running past the same alligator only a few feet away!img_0726 img_0729 img_0731img_0721 img_0722img_0724This is the stuff dreams are made of. I mean, look at this wedding that was being set up…incredible.img_0718 img_0717img_0723

Afterwards, we went to Blossom and ordered the Crab and Avocado Toast, Blue Crab Ravioli and Steak Oscar. All of which were incredible.img_0733 img_0732And for desert? Kaminsky’s Toll House Cookie Pie and Lemon Pie. Yum!img_0702 img_0701

Sunday, we stayed home and just talked for hours before finally venturing out for a late lunch at Hominy Grill. I wanted to come here specifically as a belated birthday brunch for my Mom, because one of her favorite breakfasts is Huevos Rancheros, and I knew they had that on their menu 🙂img_0735

Then, we went to Boone Hall Plantation and absorbed that beautifulness…img_0755 img_0751 img_0748img_0736img_0745 img_0740img_0762 img_0761

On the way back, we quickly stopped on the Sullivan’s Island beach and drove past the Old Village Post House Inn, which you may remember from this post. We weren’t too hungry, but the weather was perfect for eating outside, so we decided to stay, and it was a great decision. We were the ONLY people eating outside, the hostess, Amanda, was super-sweet, and our waiter, Andy, was the absolute best. So calming and laid back, he didn’t mind that we lounged for 3 hours just chatting and enjoying our food, which was the Burrata Salad, Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes, Lemon Berry Torte, Chocolate Pie, and Cheesecake to go. Yes. 3 desserts were ordered.img_0766 img_0765It was truly bittersweet when I dropped her back off at the airport on Monday morning. But we really did have a wonderful time talking and enjoying being friends. I missed her so much as soon as she left!

The weather was incredibly beautiful while she visited-as evident in the photos. We really lucked out, because on Tuesday at 3:45, Emily texted me telling me that Charleston was being evacuated for Hurricane Matthew. I quickly showered, not knowing when I might be able to do it again, threw my most valuable things into a bag, and tried to figure out what to do next.hurricane-matthew

source

Luckily, I have some wonderful relatives (who I haven’t seen in 30 years) that live near Charlotte, NC and were willing to host me (for however many days I needed!) I left my apartment at 7pm and drove around for 45 minutes trying to find a gas station that had gas and didn’t have a line into the next street. I caved and went to the next closest one, and anxiously waited for an hour, hoping that they wouldn’t run out, then FINALLY started my 3 1/2 hour journey, which turned into 4 1/2 hours, and arrived in Charlotte at 2:30am. Not fun.

My relatives are so, so accommodating and are making me feel so welcome. They are Italian after all 🙂 Interestingly, in June, I went to visit the same family of relatives that live in New York, which we rarely get to see. But the NC part of the family couldn’t make it to the gathering. I had no idea that I’d be seeing the NC family now. I’ve been here since Tuesday, and I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back to Charleston, so their kindness is so incredible AND reaffirms that I come from good stock! Again, so many blessings.

It has really been a wonderful family gathering right in the middle of my trip!

Where Have You Been?

Well, this past week was QUITE the whirlwind! Lot’s of meeting up with friends, drinking too much, lounging at the beach, and eating myself into oblivion…

Instead of separate posts, this will be one week of nonsense crammed into one!

HANGING OUT AT …39 RUE DE JEAN

WHAT I WORE

My cousin is married to a wonderful girl, Meghan, that we love. Meghan’s spunky sister, Emily, happens to live in Charleston and knows EVERYONE. Lucky me! She has been so sweet and invited me to lots of things, including lunch at 39 Rue de Jean last week. It was INCREDIBLE!!! No photos, we were talking too much 🙂 We shared the Mediterranean Artichoke Ravioli and then I got the Fried Goat Cheese Salad with Grilled Chicken. The chicken was so juicy and the goat cheese melted in my mouth! Oh yeah, and some Rose…Emily got the Mesclun Salade with Duck Confit, which she said is what she always gets, so it must be delicious!

Here’s what I wore:

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Top: J Crew Factory (new from June, purchased for my trip!) I’m noticing now that it is slightly see-through. Oooh -la-la (you know, because France…)

Denim: Bass

 

HANGING OUT AT…LOW COUNTRY BISTRO

Next up was a late breakfast on Wednesday at Low Country Bistro for my first ever taste of their Coleman Farms Chicken & Waffle. Let’s just say, I hope it’s not my last! This place was recommended to me by 2 different people, and they were right-it was goooooood! The chicken was so juicy and crispy, the waffle was made of sweet potato cornbread, and the butter was infused with pecans and bourbon.

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I have to admit that I pretty much ate the whole damn thing.

 

HANGING OUT AT…THE COCKTAIL CLUB & HALL’S CHOPHOUSE

WHAT I WORE

During our lunch, Emily said I should come out with her and her friends on Thursday night. When I asked where she wanted to meet, she said, “The Cocktail Club…Everyone goes to The Cocktail Club on Thursdays!”

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I checked out their website ahead of time, and it’s a really cool place. Very rustic and industrial with moody lighting, creative cocktails, and live music 🙂 Here’s what I wore:

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Off-the Shoulder Top: Hummingbird via C’est La Vie. Remember when I posted about it here? I wish it photographed more clearly….

Black Shorts: J Crew Factory

Earrings: Charming Charlie

Clutch: Charming Charlie

I wore nude platforms from Nine West Outlet

Here I am really enjoying myself:

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And here’s what took me over the edge and kept me up all night wishing I had taken it easier…

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Drink courtesy of our second stop, Hall’s Chophouse, and the nachos from across the street, which they hand-delivered to us because we were hungry and their kitchen was closed. That’s why this place is voted among the top 10 Restaurants in the US…

 

HANGING OUT AT…CO & AMEN STREET FISH & RAW BAR

WHAT I WORE

I’ve walked by CO several times and someone told me that they enjoyed it, so I stopped in on Saturday night. It was a little confusing-a long line, but no hostess…I waited a little bit, got some menu recommendations in line, and then had a seat at the bar, where I ordered a Blackberry Cooler/Spritzer? and the ever-safe Pad Thai with Shrimp. It was SO SO good! I’m convinced there is no bad food in this town! A little spicy, with just the right crunch from the peanuts. I would DEFINITELY eat here again.

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Here’s what I wore:

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Dress: Forever21 (that I originally posted about here)

Booties: Madden Girl

And then I came home, sat inside for an hour watching the ID Network, decided I looked too cute to be sitting at home, and went on a mission to find me some key lime pie. Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar delivered.img_0635

Did I feel slightly uncomfortable that I went in by myself, at 10pm, on a Saturday night, sat at the bar, and only ordered pie? The answer is yes. Did the pie make it worth it. Also yes. Are all of my clothes seeming to shrink smaller and smaller as the weeks go by? Sadly, the answer is yes to that too…

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Earlier on Saturday, my new friend, Abbey, joined me at the beach on Sullivan’s Island. It was a slightly impromptu visit, and we had such a great time laughing and talking. She is just so sweet and insightful, and I met her through Emily! I feel so happy and excited that I am making some new friends to help me feel a part of the city 🙂

Sunday was another beach day which included more eating, laughing, talking, and sunning 🙂

 

HANGING OUT AT…SAFFRON CAFE AND BAKERY & THE NOISY OYSTER SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

Emily recommended Saffron Cafe and Bakery to me the other day, and so I took a stroll there this morning. I have been craving hash browns ever since I started thinking about them yesterday. This did not disappoint (see what I mean about no bad food?!)

I got the Eye Opener-2 scrambled eggs with American cheese, hash browns (obviously), and 2 biscuits, but I only ate 1! Yay! Don’t worry, that was the last self-restraint of the day. Eggs were buttery, biscuits were flaky, and hash browns were crispy. Incredible.

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I finished off my binge-fest with a spontaneous stop at The Noisy Oyster Seafood Restaurant. I’m sure any well-seasoned foodie would have said, “Out of all the places in Charleston, why would you stop there?” Well, it was on my walk home from Waterfront Park, all of their garage-style windows were open and I wanted to sit inside and read my book while feeling the breeze. So, there. That’s why. I got the Chopped Salad with Grilled Shrimp. The shrimp was actually really good-nice and pan-crispy. The salad was really flavorful and had a nice little crunch from the toasted almond slivers 🙂 And that’s it. I didn’t want anything else for the whole night. Just a plain old salad.

OK, I had the Old Fashioned Banana Meringue Pudding. Gahhh! Can’t. Stop.Won’t.Stop.

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