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’ve posted about SUN, my favorite self-tanner here. That post was from 2012 (ah!) They’ve recently changed their formula, so I might look into another one, but this one does the trick for now.

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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Word of the Year: 2019

Hello!

It’s been quite a whirlwind the past few months. I’ve been going on dates, making a ton of friends, getting involved, and keeping myself creative at work. And I’ve truly never been happier. It’s like anything I’d been doing before was just, well, a half-life.

You know I do a Word of the Year every year. Check out 2018’s word in this post, which links to previous year’s words! Last year, “Welcome” came to me so clearly. I barely had to think about it and it appeared! However, I thought that it meant that I would be welcoming new people into my life, welcoming new situations. But March 22, 2018, as I was living my best life on vacation in Charleston, I walked past a pineapple sketched on a chalkboard sign…and “Welcome” scrolled across the bottom. Everything aligned and I had so much clarity! Welcome…to Charleston! Whatever fog I had been in was lifted, and I knew exactly what the year was going to bring. #captainobvious

This year, my word came to me early, but not so clearly. I wanted Commitment. Or Security. Or Abundance. But, that’s not what I got. I struggled: “Are You sure that’s my word? Really? What about Limitless?” *prays to anyone who’ll listen*

No. None of them were my words.

But, now, now, I’m kinda excited about it. Gahhhh! OK, actually I’m super excited about it. Like jump-around-the-room-tell-EVERYONE-post-it-on-your-Insta-feed-AND-your-Stories excited about it. Maybe like if you really wanted a girl, and you find out you’re having a boy, but then you start creating a boy’s room and buying boys clothes, so your baby can look like a mini version of your hubs…so then you’re all, bring it! You with me?

Here we go! Literally…

 

An adventure is an exciting experience that is typically a bold, sometimes risky, undertaking. How could I not be FREAKING out in excitement?!

When I think about my 2018, there were so many totally unexpected, cool, kick-ass things that happened to me. So, I can’t even imagine what 2019 has in store. I have so many questions: What kind of adventure? Solo trips? Romantic getaways? Friend journeys? Finding a copilot to do life with? Blazing a new career path? Finally redesigning my blog format? I don’t know! Damn, this is gonna be a good year.

What’s your word?

Cha-Cha-Cha-nging to Cha-rleston

Hello Friends!

I know it’s been SO long since I’ve posted, and you know it’s always because I’m out enjoying life. But…

I’m FINALLY moving to Charleston! This incredible photo I took on my last visit is *basically* going to be my view EVERY DAY!

Last year, my friend, Abbey, gave me a pocket journal. When I visited on March 21, 2017, I brought it with me and wrote things like “I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be at any time and if I’m being truly honest with myself, then I need to be here”, “It’s the most magical place on earth”, “I just love it and I don’t want to go home” You know, real subtle proclamations of love. 😂 So, a year and a day later, when I found myself in Charleston again, I opened the journal and read my words. Everything just clicked. I was having such an amazing time, I extended my trip, and decided I needed to do it fo’ realz.

Once the decision was made, I started to look for a place. Back in April, I found a cute little studio in an amazing location, with a fireplace, parking, and even a sweet entry that I could make into an office, since I’ll be working from home for a few months. But, it was over-budget. While I was negotiating pricing, it got leased out from under me, and I was so disappointed. How am I ever going to find anything that compare to that?! *Insert Universe laughing*

And then –

I found a beautiful gem of an apartment…a huge one bedroom…in an old mansion…with 2 fireplaces…10 foot ceilings…transom windows…wood inlaid floors…1 block from the water…right on budget…and I’m allowed to make renovations (ahhh!) The cherry on top was signing my lease on my 32nd birthday (double ahhh!!) I’m not going to lie, I might actually be the luckiest woman in the entire world.

The past 4 years have been extremely transformational and if this is my “consolation” for the challenges I’ve faced, then I’ll take it – gladly!

I’ll be photoshopping some of the rooms, since “rough” is a good word to describe my new home’s current state 😂 I’m SO excited to share the Before and Afters with you. So keep your eyes open for a Sneak Peek in the next couple of days!

❤ The Huntress

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Thank You

Happy Valentine’s Day! As I get older, I have the benefit of experience to make sure I am attracting only quality people into my life. Sometimes they don’t stay as long as I’d like, but yet, they really leave an extra large imprint in an extra small amount of time.

This is a huge Thank You to those who have shared their kindness, their time, their insecurities, their humor, their kisses, their dreams, and their honesty. You have filled my heart with joy, laughter, and maybe, just maybe, a little bit of love.

 

 

 

Word of the Year: 2018

Happy 2018, Loves!

Maybe this will give you some “light reading” as you’re nursing your hangovers 🙂

2017 was full of lessons helping me to Trust the Process (which was fitting for this Philly gal) It took me until August to really embrace trusting. And I can honestly say that the past couple months can only be described as a whirlwind. I made an impromptu move into the city, asked for (and received) a promotion, enjoyed a solo vacation, and packed my social calendar with fun events. I am not bidding Good Riddance to 2017, but I am glad to usher in a new year of really amazing experiences.

This year, I am feeing more ready-than-ever to share my Word of the Year with you.

Like, SO excited that I’ve already been sharing it in person with some of you…

In October, I started to think about what I really wanted for myself in 2018. It took about 20 seconds before “Welcome” hit me like a ton of bricks. It was that clear, and that right.

-I am ready to welcome new experiences that I previously did not consider.

-I am welcoming anyone who wants to come “play” in my realm.

-I am saying welcome to happiness and laughter and joy and friendship and romance and abundance and travel and love and well-being.

-I am literally laying a welcome mat outside my emotional/physical/mental self and inviting those on the outside to come in.

Even just TYPING this post is giving me butterflies!

In August 2016, I thought I would never be able to fully love again. I thought I would never heal the way I wanted to, in order to have the life I’ve always wanted. I didn’t know where I wanted to live, or even how to figure any of it out. I am SO ready for this year and all of the goodness it will bring. I’ve looked forward to fresh starts before, but I have never been more excited about a new year than I am for 2018!

Read more about my previous words, Trust, Present, and Grow!

Do you have any words this year?

 

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Trust Yourself

This past Thursday night, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a conference called TogetherLive. The event featured powerful women speakers, like Love Warrior author, Glennon Doyle (who is just the absolute cutest in-person #obsessed), her wife, Former US Soccer Team Olympian, Abby Wambach (I know, I might have been the ONLY person that didn’t know they were married…), and New York Times bestselling author, Luvvie Ajayi, who you probably know, if you read her blog reviews of Scandal episodes. Click here, if you want to see the full line-up of boss ladies who killed it!

The whole tour focused on “How to live your love story”. This could mean so many things to different people. Mostly, how to live YOUR truth. There were so many incredible words I heard, but I wanted to talk about Glennon Doyle’s words specifically:

“Stop taking other people’s advice. Stop asking people directions to a place they’ve never been.”

Wow. Let that sink in for a minute.

Everyone has well-meaning friends and family who tell you what they would do if they were you. But, they’re NOT you. It’s not their path. It’s not their story. No one, except for YOU can figure out where you need to go, based on where you’ve been, and what you most want for yourself.

Interestingly, I went to see my *GIRL*, Abraham Hicks, a couple weeks ago (incredible!) and one of the questions was from a woman who said she was having a difficult time making decisions as an adult, because her parent’s made all of her decision for her as a child. In true Abe fashion, the solution was:

“Stop listening to other people’s advice. Learn to trust your inner GPS system. That’s why it’s there – to guide YOU.”

#strangenotstrange

To top it off, my 2017 Word of the Year is TRUST. Usually, it takes me a couple of months to really settle in with the word. And this year was exceptionally difficult. But here I am, in November, and I’m finally starting to get it.

And literally, right now, like, real time, as in, I’m writing this and had to go back and edit, because it’s that crazy – I’m watching the new Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath episode, and they keep talking about trust, trust, trust.

I’m not going to lie , “trust” has been the hardest word to implement. Just today, I questioned my own judgement when it came to trusting others. How did I misread the signs? But, I also felt proud of myself for handling the confrontation AND the disappointment clearly, honestly, and true to me. I didn’t ask anyone for advice. I just said what I felt and you know what? It helped get peace out of the situation much quicker. What used to feel like mountains are now barely speed bumps. BAM! There’s the lesson 🙂

Trust yo’selves xoxo

The Universe is Always Answering

This is sort of a Part 2 to my last post.

I’ve made it into a game (of sorts), where I ask a question or state an intention, and see how the Universe can answer me.

At the beginning of summer, Iron Man and I decided to go separate ways. The loss of him in my life was felt in so many ways. His wit, tattooed skin, and general admiration were just a few of the things I missed most.

Well, wouldn’t you know, I suddenly found myself surrounded by people who were making me laugh. Not with stupid humor, but with the intellectual banter that I was craving. I was laughing again.

I noticed that on a daily basis, at least a third of the people I came in contact with, were covered in tattoos. I laughed again. When I added “tattooed with a beard” to my wishlist, and I began seeing several rough-looking tattooed, bearded men, I laughed even harder – realizing that I forgot to mention “handsome” in the requirements. I looked up at the sky and said, “I see what you did there…”

When it came to admiration, this one took me a little longer to recognize. Recently, I started receiving compliments from so many kind people. One in particular just told me in similar words, “I’m so glad we met through so-and-so, I always look forward to seeing you, and you always make me happy!” Wasn’t that, like, exactly what I’ve been wanting to hear? And sweet friends saying, “I miss you!” Who doesn’t want to hear that?! And then there’s my bestie’s 4-year-old, soon-to-be step-daughter. She calls me “Silly Sarah”, tells my best friend that she wants “Father Christmas” to bring me to her everyday, begs for me to stay and play longer, tells me that she loves me, and asks me deep questions, like ‘what makes your heart happy?’ Oh, yeah, AND she FaceTimes me on Sunday night, after we’ve just hung out on Friday. (Can I find her in the form of a 35-year old man??) I’ve asked for all of these things, and they just keep coming to me, in ways that the old me never would have seen.

By acknowledging the manifestations and offering gratitude, I’m always getting what I want, just not in the forms I’m expecting.

So, how has The Universe been answering you lately?

 

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