I think I selected the hotel I want to stay in…

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Annually my bestie and I travel somewhere for our bdays. We go either around hers or mine or somewhere in between as our birthdays fall within a month of one another. This year, we’re heading to New Orleans. I have only been once and that was as a kid. I don’t remember much so I can’t wait to go back…

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The Saint Hotel is located blocks away from Bourban Street and has a really funky design. I can’t stay somewhere that doesn’t have a nice designed interior. We won’t be staying in the Presidential suite but the Lucifer room (red) is gorgeous and is my favorite…

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My Review of Hotel Monaco in Chicago

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For my birthday 3 weeks ago, we stayed overnight at Hotel Monaco in Chicago which is a Kimpton boutique Hotel along the river downtown. I never stayed anywhere where every single person we came in contact with were super friendly. From valet to front desk, to the men pouring the complimentary wine during wine hour, the room service and luggage bellmen…everyone seemed genuinely friendly and happy to assist.
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We stayed in this room and it was worth the extra few bucks to ensure our view was that of the Chicago River. We were on the 14th floor. As a welcome, there was a platter with fruit and cheese and a card. I felt special!

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This was the view from the window seat. Some deets on the hotel, there is Wifi in all 192 guestrooms which is complimentary for Kimpton loyalty members. You can sign up for free and you will also get a $10 bar voucher. There was a small hiccup as I thought I could use it when we dined at the lobby’s restaurant but was told to give it to the front desk person at check out. When I done that, they explained it was actually for the mini bar in the room. We didn’t use that so hopefully I can still use the card at my next Kimpton Hotel stay.

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They had two animal print robes for your comfort. The beds and pillows were cozy and the window seats were as well. I could have stayed in and stared for hours but it IS Chicago and you don’t go there to stay in a room…

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The lobby elevators!
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Because you have to take a picture when mirrors have good lighting….

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My view during wine hour…
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Above the fireplace…
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After our boat ride we came back to the lobby to snap more pictures when it cleared out because during wine hour, almost every seat was taken…
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Above is my captures of the room and hotel. Below are professional shots found online of the hotel. It truly did look exactly like what was advertised…
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QOTD: what brings you joy on a budget?

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Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have good home style. Just because you have a strict amount of disposable income, doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself occasionally. We all work too hard to not enjoy fruits of our labor. This isn’t to say you should splurge or buy every pay period when you’re in debt up to your ears or have a large bill that you need to handle. Just try to at least think of ways you can enjoy your money without spending a lot.

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I think buying experiences is more meaningful than items. If I know a concert is coming up, I’d much rather use my own money to buy tickets than to go shopping. I’m all about not charging anything outside of hotels and flights and even my flights are booked with my debit card. It’s so much more better knowing you paid for stuff with your own money than borrowed.  So if I’m taking a sizeable chunk of my cash, know that it will be for something really fun like those Kevin Hart tickets or a wine and paint bar experience. I’d rather have several good shindigs to attend a month than random things. It helps me feel more fulfilled even when I haven’t bought something tangible. I at least have some exciting moments of the month to look back on. I spoke about that here.

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I also got in a habit of writing down everything I wanted and needed and DIY projects I felt I could complete in my condo. Having a house (my condo is stand alone, no shared walls) is awesome. I have so many plans for next year like landscaping and furnishing the rec room that I’m constantly dreaming of directions I want to go. Writing things down helps me keep track of my spending so that if I AM going to buy stuff, I’m at least tackling the NEED list first and want list second. I also have the list based on the rooms that need priority. It’s helpful in all aspects of our lives. If we know we need to get certain items of clothing or wardrobe staples, we should write it down so when we buy, we are deleting things off the need list and not adding to more junk. Nothing worse than coming home from the store and having buyer’s remorse because you just bought 5 shirts at the mall that you didn’t need and still can’t find a solid blue blouse to go with (insert pants here). Follow me? I do that often with jewelry. Maybe it’s old age. I just find that I am more fulfilled now when I shop more than ever and it’s not just because I have more money disposable. I’m truly getting what I need and making better decisions on buying what I want.

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I know when my job wasn’t giving us raises years ago due to the economy (meanwhile, everything else was increasing), it was very difficult to justify buying anything really. I started getting into buying fun colors for my nails. And no, I don’t buy brands that are near $10 a bottle. I actually love the N.Y.C. colors sold at
Target and they are 99 cent and 1.99. I would buy several at a time. Now I’m in a place in life where I get raises and have multiple sources of income. Though I still have a frugal mindset most of the time, I do often allow myself to buy something each pay period, whether it’s for my home or something for me. I still love the mall and affordable home décor places like Marshalls but buying one item (or a couple small items) does wonders. I don’t have to do happy hours weekly and dine out for lunch daily…I’d rather buy clothes, jewelry and décor and save my coins by bag lunching it mostly. You have to pick and select what is important to you if you can’t do it all. I’d rather drink at one of our houses instead of going out buying rounds at a restaurant for a drink that’s going to be watered down and overpriced. Also doing this allows me to really truly savor the moment when I DO decide to meet up with someone for dinner or lunch. I’d rather redbox movie it up than going to a crowded theater and getting irritated at cell phones ringing and loud mouth talkers.

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With traveling, a lot of times I stay in really nice hotels where a bulk of the money is going to the room because I enjoy laying my head in a room that is designed fabulously. I cannot do a rinky dink hotel even if I’m going to be exploring the city. With that said, I have a smaller spending budget. Some people would rather not travel if they can’t live it up. I’m happy traveling regardless of how much cash I have. As long as I can stay somewhere nice and still do the things I want, I’m fine with not being able to buy a lot of stuff to bring back with me.

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One of my cheapest trips was to NYC staying in Times Square the at the beautiful Ameritania Hotel during the Christmas Holidays. That was such a budget vacay for 2 nights and 3 days. I really didn’t come home with much outside of some jewelry from H&M, and a few other items. We didn’t dine out anywhere extremely fancy or expensive. We had the most fun walking all around looking at stuff for absolutely zero bucks. The holiday window displays, the skating rings at Bryant Park and the Rockerfella center, etc. There was so much to do and look at without paying for more than another hot chocolate beverage to stay warm. It was so much fun. I encourage you to continue to travel and see the world even when funds are small. Not sayin forego paying bills to travel but don’t get discouraged just because you don’t have a stack (1,000) bucks to spend while there.

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What are ways you enjoy life while being on a budget?


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Weekend Summer Recap No.2

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I wasn’t able to post yesterday because I had a very eventful day and night. It all started with me taking my god-daughter and teenaged cousin to Milwaukee’s botanical gardens, the lake (Lake Michigan) & the riverwalk downtown to eat at Rock Botttom…

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Here are some pics of the Riverwalk. I wish our river was more like Chicago’s and green. Hate this murky brown color..

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While dining out on the patio, we watched the boats go by. It was hot outside…

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There are some sculptures along the riverwalk too….

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Later that night I had drinks with a friend at the The Iron Horse Hotel. I have to blog about this place’s interior and patio soon.

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Since it was nice out, we even hit up another spot for rooftop drinks at Cafe Benelux. People rave about their brunches so that’s definitely on my to do list…

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The domes are 3 egg shaped buildings filled with flowers…

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This was my favorite picture…

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Hotel Indulgences: My review of the vibrant The Saguaro resort in Scottsdale Arizona…

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Beware of sensory overload with these colorful images of The Saguaro-Scottsdale. This above is my own picture. I lost a lot of photos when my Galaxy S4 wouldn’t turn back on so I had to resort to instagram screenshots and pics I emailed myself along with others found online.

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Yeah I know I am a whole 10 months late with this but with the constant rain and flip flopping 80-one-day-55-the-next tempertures, I have done little else than dream of going right back there…somewhere hot consistantly. This isn’t a sponsored post, I just really loved my two night three day stay there last August.

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Designed by Stamberg Aferiat Architecture, the Saguaro Scottsdale is a very vibrant, colorful fun stay in Arizona. It was a standout search for me as everything else is the color of sand and neutral. That’s because there are building codes prohiting the exteriors to be anything other than that. The colors are based on Arizona’s wildflowers.  It’s located in oldtown Scottsdale which is simple walks and short golf cart rides to restaurants, bars, and shopping. The golf cart rides are free, you just tip the drivers and that was a ball of fun. One recommendation is have them take you to the nearby CVS so you can stock up on snacks and waters for your room as there are no……..I repeat………NO soda machines or vending machines which I find incredibly odd. For the resort fee, the least they can do is offer you one complimentary bottled water per day per guest.

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The hotel used to be a motel so you walk outside to get to your rooms which can be noisy depending on where you face (pools vs cityview). We opted for a city view which pretty much was just the hotel’s check in area and landscaping. The balconies aren’t really big at all, just standing room but still nice to get fresh air. It would be nice if they had small stools that are bar height to sit on while out there. However people on ground level with pool views had little patios to lounge out on.

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The hotel looks exactly like the pictures which is all I really cared about. The beds were super comfy and the Kuerig coffee makers were a nice touch each morning. The landscaping and colors just really perked up my mood. One minor goofy thing was the bathroom sliding door. The idea is cool but it really didn’t leave you feeling private. It wasn’t as if there was a gap or anything just a little odd for a bathroom setting. I roomed with my friend so it was fine.
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Although we didn’t dine out at the hotel’s restaurant, we did partake in cocktails poolside at the main pool which was super chill.  We lounged at the pool before our spa appointments (which were affordable for an hour service and had complimentary drink vouchers to be used at the pool)! We soaked up enough sun to have 2 rounds of cocktails and burning skin. I guess the crowd didn’t come until after our spa appointments because afterward the pool was packed and the music was more lively than when we were there.

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I just loved the southwestern landscaping. The furthest west I’ve been was Vegas but I don’t remember much except the strip, the ride on top of the Stratosphere and seeing West Side mountains for the first time.  So this was a way for me to soak up all of the landscaping the desert has to offer.

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I just couldn’t stop staring at the unique formations of cacti…

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The pool was such a calming place on Monday. I guess everyone had left the resort on Sunday…

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Although we didn’t use them, I liked how the resort offers free use of the bikes.

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The pool bar had water misters that cooled you off and some shade for sun relief…

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Hotel Indulgences: The Ganesvoort NY

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So I have been meaning to blog about The Gansevoort Hotel in New York ever since watching The Kardashians take NYC. I remember drooling over the ginormous houndstooth chairs and the mix of patterns, textures and the glamorous look of … Continue reading

My stay at the Ameritania Hotel in Times Square New York…

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As you know I was in New York last Sunday thru Tuesday night. I knew it would be magical to stay in NYC during Christmastime and indeed it was. We stayed at the Ameritania NYC and I can’t deny part … Continue reading