This isn’t goodbye…

…no, really!

It isn’t goodbye!

It isn’t even, “see you later”. This is a, “see you next door, at that other party!”

So, basically, what I’m saying is that after a 2+ year break from writing; I’m back, but I’ve moved this shindig to my own, personal domain. I have recently returned to my first love, written word, but if I’m going to do it, I want it to be right. To be totally mine. I wanted that to start from the ground up: with the online address.

So, for those of you that want to catch up on all of the adventures I have had and all of the changes that have taken place since last we met; head on over to my new home-base:

Speaking Of Sara

I love you guys, and I can’t wait to see you again!

xoxo
GossipGirl

wait, no. That isn’t it… It must have been so long since I’ve written, that I can’t remember how to do this…

It would truly be an honor if you would hop on over to the new site, and maybe subscribe… you know… if you want to.

See you soon!
Sara

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes…

Okay.

I know I’ve been missing in action for a bit, but I have some reasons… be them good or not.

You see, I wrote you a post about being responsible with your money to make traveling easier, specifically about avoiding impulse purchases. So let me tell you how dense I am. After religiously avoiding all unnecessary purchases for several months, I decided to impulsively buy… a house.

Like I said: Idiot.

I wasn’t even intentionally looking at houses. I just saw a listing online and fell in love. I went to see it and put an offer in that day.

So that, dearest readers, is where I have been for the last month. Signing my name no less than 1,000,000 times. Reading over stacks of paper that have environmentalists everywhere shaking their heads in disapproval. Getting surveys for this, inspections for that and tests for something else.

So this process has been going on for a month… My closing date is tomorrow. TOMORROW. That is the day that I own my personal, private little piece of the world.

Except that my lenders called yesterday to explain that the condo association was upside-down financially and a few other things that make the property unwarrantable.

Like a punch in the stomach. Just like that.

So, I don’t have a house. And I won’t for at least a year or more. I will be better prepared with my savings by then.

I can also admit that I was a little relieved. A house is a huge commitment, and I was soundly questioning  the haste with which I had made my decision.

I would have loved to own that house, but alas, now is not the time.

PS. then April Fool’s Day was Cardigan Weather’s 3rd birthday. This blog that started as a way to keep my sanity has morphed into something that I hold very dearly. Thanks to all of you who read this.

How I Afford to Travel

Now, I would like to preface this post with this: I don’t have this mastered yet. I’m still working on saving the necessary funds for a long term trip, while still taking some smaller trips in the meantime. In full disclosure, it is going to take me twice as long to save 18-25k to see the world if I don’t stay put, but I’m going to be considering various route options and doing some planning, while saving, to stay focused. The things I want to talk about are not the full extent of things that can be done to save, but they are what I’m working on.

Trimming unnecessary expenses

I am the world’s worst impulse purchaser. I decide that I might enjoy making some video blogs, and within 48 hours I have purchased a $500 digital HD video camera. Problem? Have you see me post a single video blog? No. So then, I replaced my laptop (that I had gotten for free) with a new one with faster processing capabilities (for video editing, of course). $700. Then I had to buy a new HD, 1080p LED TV because my shiny new impulse purchases looked silly next to my second hand clunker. And what better to go with a new TV than a HD Blu Ray something-or-other?

Does this sound exaggerated and contrived?

Because it isn’t. This is my real life. It’s this kind of behavior that is detrimental to saving for travel.When I save, I make a spreadsheet with my total goal, progress toward and how much is left to save. Whenever I make a deposit into my savings account, I update my spreadsheet. I draw one of those obnoxious thermometers (like there was when you had to fund raise in elementary school) and post it on my desk at work. I set weekly alarms on my cell phone’s calendar to remind me to spend thoughtfully, instead of impulsively.

Rent: Now, I’m cheating on this one a bit at the moment, (I moved back to my parents’ home a little more than a year ago, to make it easier to save for a house.) but if I weren’t, I would be renting somewhere that I’m not on the hook for a lease. Subletting a room in a friend’s apartment or house would be my first choice, if living for free wasn’t an option

Eating Out: I eat out as little as possible. Point blank. Eating out is a money suck. I can generally get by on ~$50 in groceries for a week, if I avoid all of those silly impulse items. This week I have been doing really poorly at this, but my general rule is that I will eat out once every two weeks with my coworkers, and once with my family.

Movies: Redbox is incredibly cheap if you return them in 24 hours. Some theater chains have discount days, as well. The Rave chain of theaters in Louisville has $5 Tuesday for showings all day! I’m also not above bringing my own snacks, because it kills me to pay the 1,275% markup at the theater.

Clothes: Honestly? I don’t go clothes shopping. On the rare occasion that I do, I buy on sale or I don’t buy. If I need pants or jeans, I go get some, but I’m tighter than those weird vinyl bottoms that Miley wore at the VMAs. I do my very not to go perusing clothing stores if there isn’t something I need. Also. This girl? Not above second-hand stores.

Cosmetics: I paint my own nails, color my own hair and trim my own ends between 6 month cuts. I buy brands like CoverGirl and N.Y.C. over MAC and O.P.I. HELLO?! One bottle of MAC foundation is enough for a night at a nice hostel in most countries! A mani/pedi: a flight from Sydney to Brisbane. A cut and color: 4 FULL DAYS/NIGHTS in Athens(lodging, transport, meals, a couple of beers, and a standard priced attraction).

Planning ahead: Keeping an eye on fares for a while before going somewhere is going to get you a better deal. If I know that flights from Louisville to Paris are usually $1,100, and I see a flight for $699, I’m going to snap that up. I got my flights from home to Toronto to Jacksonville for <$275 in August by watching the fares.

Mailing Lists: Phenomenal way to watch your fares! I’m planning on going to Vancouver at the end of summer and I know that American just started a new route from Nashvegas to Vancouver for HALF of the price I was expecting to pay! WOOHOO!

Hostels vs Hotels: HOTELS are STUPID! You don’t meet new people in hotels. They don’t have people on staff with inside knowledge of things to do in their city that are off the usual tourist path. They are expensive. Most hostels are clean, have free wifi, cool people to go explore with, inside scoops and discounts for both unique and well known attractions. For the price you will pay at a budget hotel you could get a nice hostel, right in the city center, and they’ll probably have free breakfast, as well!

Some great ways to save that aren’t an option for me at the moment, or that I just don’t want to do:

Cell phones: You don’t really NEED that smart phone with it’s $100/month price tag! Downgrade! Voice and text only will save you about 70% on your phone bill.

Transportation: Public transit is not an option for me. Living on the outskirts of a medium sized city, it just isn’t an option. You had better believe that if I lived in Philly or Boston, I MIGHT own a cheap car, but I would make public transport work for me.

Cut Coupons: A dollar here. 2 dollars there. Money saved adds up quickly, I’m just a bit too disorganized to do it. I am working on it though. Keeping a regular grocery list and meal plan make it easy to cut coupons and avoid impulse buys. If it isn’t on the list, it isn’t in the cart. Suck it end-caps.

An Ode to Valentine’s Day: My Best Break-ups

Those who know me, or feel like they know me from reading the stuff I post here, probably think that my interactions with the opposite sex are at least entertaining, if not comical. I don’t know how I ever got to be so predictable, but those people are 100% right. Here is a post for those singles out there not really ‘feeling’ all the mushy, gushy junk on this day of corporate profit love.

I think it all started with my made up boyfriend in 7th grade. I was having this existential crisis about being the ONLY 13 year old on the planet without a boyfriend. I thought, “I can’t make anybody be my boyfriend, but I CAN make people believe I have a boyfriend.” I did my research: watching whatever made-for-tv movie marathon Disney channel had going on, and based my fictitious relationship off of that.

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GENIUS.

I walked into class the next day and, when the topic of boyfriends came up, I joined the conversation. To which one of the girls replied, “Sara, you don’t even have a boyfriend, so your opinion doesn’t matter.” (eyeroll) So I said, or screamed possibly, Yes! I do too! At that point, my best friend, with whom I always had a very open and hilarious relationship, started asking questions. And I answered them. Name. Age. What he looked like. Where he went to school. I pulled that mess off.

Until approximately 3 hours later when she turned around in her seat and said, “I don’t believe that you have a boyfriend. I know that you’re making it up because your mom would NEVER let you have a boyfriend who has a tongue ring.” To which I graciously replied (and this was completely normal in our friendship), “Yeah? And I know that your boobs are really a WonderBra, so shut it.”

Sad part is that she was TOTALLY right.

Sad part is that she was TOTALLY right.

Thus began my comedic dealings in the dating world. I’d like to share with you my most entertaining, embarrassing and eyeroll worthy break-up moments. Some of them I am getting dumped, and some I’m the one doing the dumping, but none are probably considered ‘healthy’. Some are boyfriends and some are guys I was casually dating, or (my favorite) ‘he’s not my boyfriend, we’re just hanging out’… (everyday, alone, texting CONSTANTLY, and occasionally using pet names). This is my dysfunctional love life, please enjoy it as much as I do.

4. The Arguer
I was in the middle of breaking things off… in a pretty amicable way, I thought… with someone things had been pretty serious with. He said he didn’t know where this was coming from, and if I had been having these feelings, I should have talked to him about it sooner. Then this happened: “I thought you were always honest with me! Well, Sara, this was a lie! You pretended everything was fine and then  you throw this in my face out of the blue!! I should have known you were nothing but a liar! You always say how turkey clubs are your favorite kind of sandwich, you preach that sh!t at me! But what do you buy at the grocery store?! You buy ham! You’re a liar and I don’t know how I put up with your lies for so long!!!!” I. Don’t. Even. Know.

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3. The Texter
– Him: Hey pretty girl.
Me: Hi there, how are you?
H: I’m really good, what did you do today?
M: Oh, you know, just work. Did you have a good day?
H: This isn’t working out. I think we would be better off as friends.
M: Well, that’s a little off topic, but okay. Sounds fine to me.

text_breakup_B

2. A Poor Play at the Sympathy Card.
I had been dating this guy, long distance, for about three months when I was 22. Around that time I was also planning my first trip overseas with Ash. Now, this relationship wasn’t going very well from pretty much the beginning. He dropped the L-bomb after a week. I refused to say it, because I didn’t feel it. He started to get really controlling and overbearing, so I had decided that it was time that we called it quits. I had grown pretty exhausted of getting yelled at during phone calls and Skype chats so I decided to be immature and lazy and just do it via e-mail. It actually went pretty well, I thought. I’m much better at putting things into words with my hands than I am with my mouth. That was, until he messaged my mother on Facebook and, among other things, ranted about how I had dumped him to go sully myself in the gutters of Europe with any man that was so inclined, that I was losing the best thing that I would ever have, and that Mom should be ashamed of the daughter she raised… or something along those lines. Yikes.

Hint: Don't start my telling my mom you think I'm a slut.

Hint: Don’t start by telling my mom you think I’m a slut.

1. The Switcheroo.
I was 19 and had met this older guy at a wedding. By older, I mean he was 30. We had done a bit of talking and hanging out. It was okay, not earth shattering, but there was that initial excitement of newness. I knew he had a kid, but one night while we were chatting on the phone, he mentioned his ‘girls’. Huh. Turns out he had two kids. Which is fine. Maybe. When you’re not 19. Sooooo I started fishing, only to find out that one of his daughters was 11. 11. That made her 8 years different from me, while I was 11 years different from him. “Hi, I’m your new mommy… wanna go to the mall?” At that point, I hung up the phone. Full blown panic. I don’t know what possessed me, but when he called me back, I threw the phone at my mother and screamed, “You have to break up with him!!”, and I ran out the door attempting to put as much distance between me and my phone as humanly possible. Yep. My inability to date normally is a family activity.

Please. Sorry, it was awful, but please never call me again.

Please. Sorry, it was awful, but please never call me again.

I know they’re pitiful, but I hope they made you smile a little on this cold, rainy Valentine’s Day. ❤

Considering Hair Options

My hair is best long. It’s as simple as that.

Halloween 2013 as Merida from Brave

Halloween 2013 as Merida from Brave

It looks okay short, but it just doesn’t feel like me. I think the shortest that it has been in the last 8 or 9 years is somewhere right about here:

Near Halloween of 2010, I think.

Near Halloween of 2010, I think.

The problem is, I have the 5 year itch. I usually go and get somewhere between 10 and 20 inches cut from my tresses, and follow that decision up with 6-9 months of self loathing.

So here’s the deal. I want to change it up, without totally sacrificing my length. I’m intrigued by this partial shaved trend. I don’t think I could commit half of my head to it, but maybe something à la Ellie Goulding?

My question, how does this work with VERY curly hair? And how do you go about growing it out without looking like your kinder-gardener got your hair with safety scissors while you were napping on the couch?

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My Hopes for 2014.

Why do we make resolutions on or around New Years Eve/Day every year? What is the motivating factor? Why do we all make the same ones?

Don’t believe me?

I want to lose ## pounds this year.
I want to eat healthier (or whatever is fad: low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, gluten free).
I want to save more money.
I want to de-stress.

If you claim to have never or contemplated one of these, I might be skeptical.

I think at the end of a year we’re forced to examine the last 12 months, and sometimes we tend to focus on what wasn’t perfect, as opposed to what far exceeded our hopes and dreams. I won’t pretend that I don’t wish a single thing had been different about this year or the one before. I mean, I would love to be in a great relationship, living abroad or wondering why my pants just keep getting looser and looser. However, I refuse to let that distract me from what was possibly one of the best years of my life. Seriously! Let’s look at 2013:

-I ‘found myself’ during 12 months of intentionally remaining single, after dating guy after guy after guy (seriously like 16-17 in 2012, varying degrees of seriousness), and losing myself while trying to find validation in a relationship.
-I set foot in 9 countries outside of the ole U.S.A.
-I met over 80 of the most AMAZING people, a handful of whom I will love for  the rest of my life.
-I got a goddaughter!
-Went skydiving.
-Ran two half-marathons
-Tried more new foods than I can count.
-Learned to navigate public transit
-Lost 30 lbs.
-Saw a very toned down version of the Aurora Borealis
-Used powertools
and -Grew a garden.

Just like a person, though, I’m not satisfied. There are a few things that I would like to accomplish in 2014. I am intentionally trying to stay away from standard resolutions, because I don’t want a standard year. I want another earth-shaking, never the same, be telling these stories until I die kind of year. I also want them to be realistic and practical. Here’s what I’ve got:

-To improve my photo skills. I hate showing someone a photo I took of somewhere incredible and having to say, “This picture doesn’t even begin to do it justice… here let me Google some better pictures.”

-To spend (probably unwisely) way too much money on travel.

-To stop distancing myself from people. I am incredibly lazy with my friendships.

-To do more, go more, see more, try more STUFF. I teeter being a borderline shut-in and being so busy doing so much that I forget to breathe, but I want to be consistently active.

-To be able to be happy for people in my life when they get the things that I haven’t, instead of this horrible mixture of sort of happy for them while throwing myself a pity party.

and for fun:

-To master the art of cat eye makeup with liquid liner and, in doing so, that gorgeous, old Hollywood glam. (that one’s going to be tough)

Do you want to see your life change in 2014?  If you are a resolution maker, what did you resolve this year?