Yes, I was the one you shout at when you watch a scary movie, saying, "No! Don't go in there! Don't go up those creaky attic stairs! Are you crazy!?"
So sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a ghostly trip....
One of the perks about living in the North Eastern part of the USA, is that if you are into places with American history attached to them, there are a lot of old buildings that are still standing. We’re talking centuries old – with creaky wood floors, eerie looking attics, and dark basements - buildings that George Washington had once walked through, for example.
The North East and Midlantic areas along the Eastern seaboard, were the first parts of the United States settled by Europeans hundreds of years ago; and many of those formerly inhabited structures are now historical sites. There’s so much history – and legend - associated with these places – it makes for some great paranormal investigation! Yes, I’m talking about “experiences” that people have had in these buildings or in certain places that just don’t jive with what you would call “normal”, which prompt others to try to find out the causes for them.
Upon my visit to the location of the “ghost hunt”, I was probably sitting in one of the same chairs that George Washington himself sat in, as I was being briefed on what I was about to possibly experience.
It’s really kind of cool when you think about how you are retracing the steps of some of our country’s greats when you tour some of these historical landmarks. So when the paranormal investigator Gordon Ward, a well-respected professional in his field (as well as author, musician, and historian) asked me to go on a “ghost hunt” – I jumped at the chance! I get to do a lot of amazing things in my travels, but usually I don’t go around interviewing ghosts. I wasn’t going to pass up this opportunity!
See, Ward isn’t on one of those trendy ghost hunting reality shows because he’s not about the dramatic. He will double check the facts of legends and tales associated with buildings against dates recorded in bibles and on tombstones. He cross-checks an area to see if trains passing by can knock pictures off walls, or old pipes creaking is really what someone hears, versus an invisible presence. If he can disprove a ghostly presence, he does; and he has. That said, if he can’t explain something, and he uses his cameras and recorders to capture evidence of a supernatural something, you can believe him that it’s the real deal.
The Schuyler-Hamilton House was the site of the paranormal investigation in Morristown, NJ (USA)
Ward was asked to investigate the Schuyler-Hamilton House
in Morristown, NJ. A bit of background on the house that was built in 1760: A man by the name of Dr. Campfield and his wife Sarah Ward bought the house in 1765. They had one child. They lived there for 56 years. However, as was commonplace during the Revolutionary War, soldiers and doctors needed places to stay.
Fast forward to the winter of 1779-1780. George Washington’s doctor, Dr. Cochran, resided here with his wife, Gertrude. Gertrude had a sister named Betsy Schuyler, who stayed with them at that house that same winter. (Ah-ha! That’s where the “Schuyler” part of the house name comes from!) Betsy fell in love with the
Alexander Hamilton – you know – the Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington; one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Alexander Hamilton was stationed at George Washington’s headquarters, about a quarter mile away from this house at the time. Betsy and Alexander dated during this time – and spent time at this house, hence the name “Schuyler-Hamilton House”. So this place has some pretty impressive history.
This is a four-bedroom house that’s rather small. It’s amazing so many people PLUS their slaves and the children of the slaves all lived here. Talk about a full house! In 1895 the house was moved from its original location to where it resides now. There was a doctor who owned three acres of land which was devoted to different types of plants that he used for medicinal purposes. The Schuyler-Hamilton House was moved to this land.
Pat Sanftner and Kathy Cruger are the docents for the house now – which means they care of it. Sanftner’s mother used to be the docent, so she’s got a most comprehensive history of the events of this place all in her head, from recent times, dating back to its beginnings.
Photograph of Pat Sanftner's grandfather that kept falling down, despite how many times she rehung it. In centuries past, when photography was very expensive and not as accessible, photos were taken of the deceased prior to burial many times, so families could remember them, as it was the last time they would see them.
Sanftner, Cruger, and on prior investigations of this house, Gordon Ward, have all experienced and accounted for “the unusual”. Before Ward was called in, staff had been alone in this house and heard footsteps walking through the upstairs hallway – a clop, clop, clop on an all-wooden floor, from the front to the back of the house, which now has many area rugs strewn about. A photo of Sanftner’s great grandfather in the parlor kept falling down, no matter how many times she hung it back up; and last summer, every time Cruger went upstairs, she heard footsteps in other parts of the house. One time she heard a voice on the stairwell – a child’s voice – and no children have lived in the house since 1820. The house is empty most of the time except for once a week. So it’s restful – not disturbed. Well, not disturbed by humans, anyway.
This is the stairwell where a child's voice was once heard, but there was no child.
You know what? If I experienced these things, I might say “Who ya gonna call?”, too. And that’s when Sanftner called Ward, a professional in the field of discovering the undiscovered.
Ward sometimes gets calls from places that presume an unearthly presence. Sometimes the phenomena are legit. Other times – well, you just never know if an establishment is seeking some publicity by trying to gain credibility for being “haunted”. This is why he investigates a site multiple times. Just because you don’t find anything “strange” the first time around, doesn’t mean you won’t on a subsequent visit. At the same time, collection of evidence of the paranormal obtained more than once, does lend one to believe that a presence is indeed real.
Ward had already visited the Schuyler-Hamilton House before I came along. He had collected evidence of the supernatural in 2012: 2 EVP recordings – or 2 “sound” recordings if you will. One was of a man’s voice saying “You’re clumsy”, and the other was a woman’s voice saying “yes” in the stairwell, and laughing. (He has the sound bites to prove it.) He obtained a few more recordings on previous walk-throughs of the house, too. One woman’s voice in the attic said “I don’t think so,” when Ward asked the question if slaves were kept up there. Of note, the basement was built in 1895 when the house was relocated; and upon touring it at an earlier date, Ward recorded a whisper of “I’m here in the basement,” too.
Let me tell you – after I walked through this house – I can vouch that there is “something” in that basement. We’ll get to that.
So it was 1:45pm on a Wednesday in May when Gordon Ward showed me his camera, K-II meter (for measuring electromagnetic energy) – which tends to be present in larger amounts when spirits are present, and a sound recording device. No proton packs, no worries of getting slimed.
We all took a look at our battery powered devices – cell phones, recorders, etc. to check their charges. Sometimes when ghosts manifest, they drain the juice from batteries since they require energy to manifest. So I looked down at my phone and it read 98% charge. I was well-prepared for a supernatural syphon of energy. Bring it on!
There were 5 of us who were going to do a comprehensive walk-through of this house. It was daylight. We weren’t looking for the spooky effect. Ghosts can make themselves known at any time of day.
Ward started recording. He had himself, Sanftner, Cruger, one other interested party, and myself all introduce ourselves for the record. This might seem strange at first, but it sets a benchmark for establishing each of our voices. See, after Ward makes a recording of an investigation, he uses software to analyze sound and pick out voice patterns. If “someone” speaks on tape, that is not someone who was physically, and humanly present, he’ll know it, because every single person’s voice print is unique. He would know right away if it was me speaking versus someone from “the other side.”
So what do you do on a ghost hunt? You pick a room to start in and start talking! Seriously, you “interview” the “ghosts”. (I wasn’t kidding!)
We were in the sitting room with the Revolutionary War period chairs, and Ward asked who is in the house. When he did that, the dog started barking next door.
This was the first opportunity I had to use my electromagnetic field (EMF
) detector for my iPhone (Mr. Ghost
) and I put it to use. When that dog started barking my EMF reading jumped – a lot – to over 200. Normal readings are usually a bit lower than that, unless you are standing near wires or something that runs on electricity or battery power. I was starting to feel like we weren’t “alone”.
Ward didn’t get a response to his question – at least not one that we could hear. Many times a ghost will respond to questions asked but it is inaudible to the human ear. This is why it’s so important to make a sound recording and play it back on a computer. On a computer, you can visually see the wavelengths and patterns recorded to hone in on any inaudible sounds that may be voices. You can also peel apart the voices of the people present, plus weed out any background noise visually.
The downstairs hallway leading to the parlor on the right. Of note, area rugs cover all wooden floors in the house. When ghostly footsteps were heard, they were continuous as if the presence was walking on an uncovered wooden floor of long ago.
We went into the downstairs hallway and into the parlor. All of us took turns in asking the spirits questions – if they were there listening. I asked if s/he was the one knocking the photo off the wall. Different people asked the names of the spirits and what year it was, if they were slaves, and if they lived in the house at one point. We asked questions that if answered, would give us clues about who these people used to be.
We couldn’t be sure if the ghostly presences (yes, there’s more than one….you’ll see!) were there because of the land, the house, or objects in the house. Trying to establish a time frame of reference with any answers whispered to us would help us figure out who these people could have been.
The rooms were small, and the downstairs wood floor wasn’t particularly creaky. I had stepped on the boards trying to see if there was any plausible practical explanation for hearing footsteps. When trains passed by from the Morristown train station, I paid attention to see if frames shifted on walls or objects fell. None did. The heat was not turned on, and the water was not running, so there were no hisses and creaks generated by pipes. My mind thought about ways to disprove anything that we might encounter as we went from room to room. I couldn’t disprove a darn thing.
The downstairs front room of the house where Sanftner's deceased grandfather's photo of him in a coffin had kept falling.
We went from the parlor to the back room and then up the stairs to the very creaky floor of the upstairs hallway. We all took turns asking questions related to the history of the house and if there was anyone there. We didn’t hear anything – at the time. So far the house didn’t seem to give me any creepy feelings. I didn’t have a sense of fear. Cruger said she felt cold upon entering the room in the back of the house downstairs, almost as if you get that feeling of the little hairs on the back of your neck standing up, but everyone remained calm. There was no sense of dread.
The upstairs hallway, where continuous footsteps on an uncovered wooden floor had been heard by one of the docents when she was alone in the house.
We toured each of the bedrooms upstairs. The house looked old; quiet. Maybe a little too quiet. We walked up the narrow staircase to the old attic. I have to admit, this looked like a more likely place to get a case of the eebie jeebies than any part of the house we had been in so far – but – again, nothing jumped out at us. No one screamed.
Do we dare open the old, closed upstairs door? Yes, we dared!
The dark, damp basement was lit by a solitary light bulb. It was very cliché.
After walking downstairs again, we walked back into the parlor to see if that photo of Sanftner’s grandfather was knocked down again. It wasn’t. It doesn’t seem like we disturbed “anyone”. Ward was about to wrap up the investigation, when I reminded him that we hadn’t explored the basement yet.
I was facing this old, creepy looking door in the basement, while I stood under the single light bulb asking the ghost to flicker the light above my head if s/he could hear me. I knew ghosts gravitate towards any electrical devices to draw on their energy, so this prompted my reqeust. Yes, I'm an instigator!
The basement – with a low ceiling, and only one light bulb to illuminate the way because the main light was not working – was where I wanted to go. What was I thinking? This is the part of the movie – I mean adventure – when you are sitting there and should be yelling at me “Don’t! No! Don’t open that door! Don’t go in there!”
Yes, I was the crazy main character that did. But I had back-up! (Hey, if you’re going to go in a dimly lit basement, who better to go with than a pro!)
Ward and the three other women explored the underpinnings of the house with me. Sanftner turned on the one light bulb at the opposite end of the dank cellar, and that’s exactly where I headed. For some reason I was possessed to ask the “presence” to flicker the light if it was there. You know what? The light flickered. Ward saw it happen right after I made the request. (Remember, spirits need energy to manifest. They gravitate towards electrical sources…)
The basement was one of the areas of the house where Ward had previously recorded a voice, too.
I then asked what the spirit’s name was, and honestly, this was the first time, I had a semi-creepy feeling during the entire time we were there. Both Ward and I didn’t record any unusual EMF readings on our devices, though. I had later asked him if EMF’s are always an indicator of a supernatural presence. He said no. Sometimes you can see or hear or feel paranormal activity and your EMF readings will not jump off the scale.
The EMF meters are just a possible indicator. Sometimes the voices coincide with EMF fluctuations, and sometimes they don't.
“I have gotten great EVP when the meters are flat...and I've also recorded no voices when the meters were going nuts. EMF spikes don't equate to ghosts being present, but when they are, they often (not always) change the EMF fields. In the end, the meters are just another tool that is helpful in indicating the possible presence of an entity,” explains Ward.
A few days later I received an email from Ward after he had time to review his recordings made that day we toured the Schuyler-Hamilton House. Guess what? We were not alone. Ward obtained two voice recordings that did not belong to any of us humans who were on the ghost hunt that day. I’ve attached them to this blog. The best way to listen to them is on high volume, with headphones on.
The first evidence of a spirit in our presence is captured in the “Hello” file. You’ll hear Ward’s voice requesting the spirit to “Take a walk for us…in any room, just walk around so we can hear you.” Soon after, in a whisper, you will hear a faint “Hello”. It truly is ghostly. The “hello” is what investigators call a Class A/B whisper. It’s very faint and is easier to depict visually, or listen to with a good pair of headphones on. The first time I played the file I didn’t hear the “hello”. But on the second or third try, full volume, with headphones, I heard it.
This sound recording was made by Gordon Ward. Listen closely with headphones on full volume to hear the whisper of "Hello" from the other side.
If you are looking to being impressed more, check this second sound file out, also recorded on the same day. This was recorded in the basement – the room that creeped me out – the same place where I asked the ghost to flicker the single lit light bulb above my head - and it did. You’ll hear a “Thank you” very clearly, spoken by a woman in a high-pitched voice. This type of recording is a Class A voice, according to Ward; it’s clear, loud, and distinct.
You’ll hear Sanftner say “We’re doing a major electrical overhaul of the house because…” (and her voice coincidentally trails off) as you hear a different womanly high-pitched voice say “Thank you.” You can’t miss it.
This sound recording was made by Gordon Ward. Listen closely with headphones on full volume to hear a spirit say "Thank You".
Ward was impressed and finds these two recordings “amazing”. So do I. We didn’t hear these voices while we walked through the house. Perhaps because we were distracted by background noise, or our ears just didn’t hear them at the time. As I mentally retrace my steps through the house and know exactly where I was standing at the time these words were spoken, it gives me chills after-the-fact. We were not alone.
Right now it’s still a mystery as to who these voices belonged to. Maybe they belong to spirits just passing through; maybe to former residents of the house or the land. Ward is still investigating this house and hopefully after he compiles all of the evidence and recordings, he will be able to piece together and solve the puzzle of this “haunted” house.
To find out more about what Gordon Ward does, you can check out his website at: www.gtwservices.com
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A great way to find out about historical New Jersey haunts is to take a look at Gordon Ward’s book (available in hard copy, and becoming available as an eBook Summer 2013):
Ghosts of Central Jersey: "What ghosts roam within the historic sites and buildings of Central New Jersey? How accurate are the traditional stories? From the shadowed woods of the Somerset Hills to the dappled banks of the Delaware River, Ghosts of Central Jersey delivers a rich mix of factual history and the sound investigation of ghostly phenomena."
Also available Summer 2013 is Ward’s latest novel: Tracing Infinity: Bridging the Gap between Earth and Heaven (available in soft cover and eBook): "Tracing Infinity takes you on an exploration to discover God’s immersion in our lives. The clues are all around us! We just need to learn to see the holy breadcrumbs, the evidence of the Infinite, on life’s paths. Find out how the Divine touches us all on our incredible journeys."
Ashley Salazar showing her support for TheLadyinRedBlog in a signature t-shirt. She's looking RED hot! :)
So it all started on an ordinary Tuesday when I saw this message come across Twitter:
A surprise! From Ashley Salazar! I was very excited!Ashley Salazar - you may recognize the name - is Playboy's Miss Social of the Year 2013! (Click here to see some of her extraordinary photos from her Playboy photo shoot earlier this year.)
She's a Maxim
model, too. Ashley Salazar (now soon-to-be Ashley Stormborn with impending nuptials) and I had been following each other on Twitter for a while. We have a lot in common: We are both bilingual - although she speaks Spanish a lot better than I do! We share a love of nature and animals (She is highly active in efforts to save rhinos from poaching;) and we are both moms to little girls. I saw her amazing photos, such perfect presentation, exquisite lighting, and of course her natural beauty - and got to know that there was also a beautiful
businesswoman behind it all.
She's the CEO and founder of MissOohLaLaa.com
a professional photographer! She's not only great on
camera, but she's a star behind the lens, too. She's the force behind Lady Ashley Photography
- bringing out the beauty in everyone from aspiring models, to capturing special events like weddings. "
I have experience in front of the camera from my years as a model which I believe makes me very creative and flexible with getting more than just average shots. I can also offer my models make-up artists, stylist work, and modeling jobs," she says.Honestly, her experience posing in front of the camera is invaluable when it comes to photographing her subjects, because she knows not just the technical aspects of how to produce the perfect picture, but all about the posing point of view, as well. It's a rare combination to possess.
In the midst of planning her wedding, this lovely lady had taken the time to pose wearing one of my signature t-shirts and surprised me in the best way possible. Right after I had finished dinner, I saw Twitter and Facebook light up with this fabulous photo of her sporting a TheLadyinRedBlog t-shirt with her starlit smile.
She took my breath away! I can't tell you how thrilled I was to receive this surprise - revealed to the world in the best way. She's got a permanent place in my gallery
.I look to Ashley for inspiration. So do many others. She inspires women to be beautiful inside and out, to be proud of who they are, and do it with a smile at the same time.
And to the guys out there, yes, she's just downright gorgeous through and through.Thank you Ashley!
Ashley Salazar is in the running for Maxim Magazine's Hometown Hotties for 2014. Click on the button below to go vote for her on Maxim's website!
You can vote once a day!
To keep up with Ashley Salazar you can follow her on Twitter and Facebook by clicking on the icons below!
Stop by Lady Ashley Photography to see her latest work behind the camera, and give her page a "like" while you are there!
MissOohLaLaa.com is her online magazine featuring models, designers, stylists, musicians, make up artists, hair stylists, photographers, nightlife, MMA and more, too!And don't forget about her website!
I'm getting all choked up as I finish this celebration! Wow! Just wow! So many people coming together and supporting each other now all connected through TheLadyinRedBlog after just one year! I'm so happy! I hope that this Red Hot Birthday Bash
has brought many of you happiness, too! Let's keep it going!
I'd love to see you all swing by again to share photos of your swag, read some recipes, leave your comments on blogs I write, or listen to me on the radio from time to time and see what's going on in the world of RED!
There are lots of exciting things on their way - periodic giveaways, the Red Hot Store is opening this summer on TheLadyinRedBlog.com
, and there are plans for this media venture to expand!If you won a prize, please, email a photo of yourself, your pet, your kids, or your friends enjoying it at email@example.com It's not required, but it would sure be fun! :) I'll post it on my blog Facebook page and share it with the sponsors of the prizes! I'm sure they would love to see you having a great time with the gifts!The sponsors and I will be very busy sending out the prizes to all of you who won them over the next couple of weeks. Don't worry! You'll get them if you gave us a mailing address! If you live outside of the USA, it will probably take a few weeks for a prize to reach you once it is mailed, since it has to travel further and go through customs. Thank you for your patience!A HUGE thank you to all of my sponsors for this amazing one year anniversary celebration! I couldn't have done this without you!
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Charles Ramsey, the hero of the three kidnapped girls (Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michele Knight)– their angel – was eating McDonald's
when he heard Amanda Berry cry for help and rescued her from her captor(s). The subhuman kidnapper (whom I refuse to name, because he does NOT deserve any notoriety for his actions) had left the house that his victims were in because – he was going to get McDonald's food
I wonder if it was the same McDonald’s that Ramsey and the kidnapper frequented. I wonder if they passed each other on the street that day going to and from McDonald’s not knowing how they would change the course of each other’s lives, the lives of the three women in that house with the young girl, and their families.
Ever notice the irony of life sometimes? The things that we pass off as mere coincidence? Maybe it’s not coincidence. Maybe it’s fate.
Have you ever been driving somewhere with a destination in your head – like you were on your way to work, and have driven the same roads a thousand times before, but for some reason, you kept going straight when you should have made that right turn? Do you ever wonder why
that happened? I do.
Once I was on my way to a drugstore, and I made a wrong turn that didn’t make any sense to my conscious mind. I remember feeling momentarily frustrated that I then had to backtrack to get to where I was going. When I approached the road leading up to the store, I saw that a pretty bad traffic accident had happened about one minute before I got to that intersection on my re-routed journey. I would have been where that now demolished car was if I had driven my usual route. I stopped feeling so frustrated at that moment. Did my “wrong” turn just save my life? Maybe it wasn’t “my time” and fate or Divine intervention navigated those roads for me. Maybe I was meant
to veer off course.
You can’t tell my former co-worker that it wasn’t more than luck the day that he was late for work when the World Trade Center was attacked in 2001. He would have been in that building had he not had to wait in a really long line for coffee that morning. He’s alive today because he had a coffee craving, and the checkout wasn’t moving as fast as it usually was. He’s never been so grateful for a cup of java in his life.
I’m sure you’ve heard about the stories where people have missed planes and initially were very bothered by that inconvenience, only to find out hours later that the plane went down and they were thankful that they weren’t able to board.
When I observe situations like this, I can’t help but think that everything happens for a reason.
I’ve read a book about fate and coincidence: When God Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life –
by Squire Rushnell. It has become one of my favorite books over the years. I’m not a very religious person, and although the book references “God” in its title, it’s really not about God. The message is about fate, divine intervention, or coincidences too strong to ignore that are sometimes life altering. It’s about recognizing those signs in life, and when you do, embrace them, rather than dismiss them as nonconsequential. In this book, Rushnell gives many anecdotes about the lives of those who are our friends, neighbors, and people we pass on the street, to those who are famous, and shows that they are successful and happy because they have chosen to embrace these “signs” sent their way rather than dismiss them along their life’s journeys, and appreciate them, too – the “small” miracles.
It’s kind of interesting when you think about it.
If Charles Ramsey wasn’t walking by the kidnappers’ house that day, and it were a small child instead, playing outside, or an elderly woman hard-of-hearing, or a man on his way to work – too busy to stop and looking the other way – those girls would still be locked up against their will. It took a colorful man like Ramsey, who went with his instincts and didn’t over think things, who wasn’t too busy to rescue these girls and didn’t look the other way, to rescue them. He
had to be in the right place at the right time; not someone else, and not before or after. Fate. Thank God for McDonald's.
By May 13, 2013, this blog was also published via Patch Media all over the East Coast, and Patch rolled it out in Ohio over the weekend and on Monday 5/13, since Cleveland was the area referenced in this kidnapping issue. As a result of the increase in readership and public response, this blog gained national exposure via The Vine on Patch 5/13/2013.
This blog was also published via Patch Media in New York and New Jersey. In addition it was published in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, Twinsburg, OH, Beachwood, OH, Stow, OH, North Canton, OH, Strongsville, OH, Cuyahoga Falls, OH, Mentor, OH, Mayfield and Hillcrest OH, Avon and Avon Lake, OH, Fairlawn and Bath, OH, Shaker Heights, OH, Solon, OH, Westlake, OH, and Brecksville, OH.
A row of tini 'tinis.
Anyone can go to school to become a bartender. You don’t need a degree in psychology to become a server – but maybe you should! You have to assess your clientele and cater to the customer. Knowing what’s “top shelf” isn’t enough; you have to be “top notch” to take in the tips.
A pair of delicous cinnatinis. Imagine the flavors of pear and vanilla, garnished with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
There’s more to being a bartender or waiter than pouring a shot or dropping off drinks in front of a customer. If you follow these seemingly apparent pointers, you’ll not only acquire repeat customers, but you’ve got a great chance at making more tips than most.
If You Don’t Like People This Job Isn’t for You - Interaction with people is prominent as a bartender or waiter. If you are not a people-person and can’t put on that smile, even if your car just broke down this morning and you’re having a bad hair day, then this job isn’t for you. If you have a scowl on your face and could care less that I’m sitting there and let it show, well, why should I take care to count out that cash for superior service. Smile, like you mean it, even if you don’t. Like my grandmother always says, “Smile. It doesn’t cost you anything,” but in this case if you don’t, it can cost you extra tips and a repeat customer in the future.
Pay Attention, but not Too Much Attention - When people go out, they want to relax, not stress over wrong drink orders or have their conversation constantly interrupted by an over-attentive waiter. Let me tell you - I’ll always tip, but I’ll tip that extra bit if I get superior service. You don’t have to work in a four-star restaurant to bring home quite a bit of cash for the little things that count. When you pick up or pour, put down your problems and pay attention to the customers, first.
There’s nothing more annoying than sitting or standing at or near a bar trying to get a bartender’s attention and they are engrossed in a conversation with another patron – for ten minutes. You just told me that I’m not important by not even giving me a nod of your head for acknowledgement. I get it, you’re busy, but I’d like confirmation that I’ll be served soon and that you saw me.
Secondly, if you get my drink order right – I’ll remember that, and probably order another. Double drinks mean double the tip. Which brings me to my next point – if you take a drink order, it’s more than memorizing if it’s up or on the rocks. Ask what kind of gin they would like and be prepared to make recommendations; or if someone orders a dirty martini, for example, and says they want it very dirty, be sure to take that into account, or as a server, relate that to the bartender so s/he gets the drink right. If someone says “no olives” or “3”; “heavy on the garnish”, “salt rim” or “no salt” - or other details, if you get it right – they will show you their appreciation in the tip and/or by becoming a repeat customer and possibly bringing in new customers for you. Your service and attention to detail as a bartender/server will put you above the rest of your competitors and people will take notice.
And finally, if you see me talking to my friend and we’re having an intent conversation, please don’t interrupt me to ask if I want peanuts. Just plop them down and I’ll help myself if I want to. It’s nice for you to ask if I’d like anything else when you see that my drink is near empty, but it’s really not necessary to be a noodge and ask me three or four times “How’s everything?” when you see that I’m otherwise occupied with the people I’m with. That’s drinkus interruptus, and won’t score you points with me or an extra few bucks at the end of the night.
The Pom Noir - one of the drinks that TheLadyinRed got to name upon trying a bartender's creative genius: pomegranate juice, Grey Goose Cherry Noir and other delicious libations were used.
- I travel a lot. In my travels I’ve had many experiences at different restaurants, bars, and establishments that serve alcohol. While I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner, I’m always up for trying a new cocktail. I admire mixologists who get creative and deviate from the usual martini menus and dabble in daring drinks – that work
. Not all concoctions are worth raving about! (Case in point – I had a butterscotch martini the other night – and wish I hadn’t. Not everything translates to a good cocktail.) Just like a chef, you will have a few mishaps, but that’s how some of the most surprising combinations that really “click” come about.
I’m not a bartender, but I have had numerous drinks named after me and establishments do rely on my recommendations to friends, readers, and business associates because my opinion is valued. I’m always tactful, but truthful, if something isn’t up to par. However, when I find something truly praise-worthy, I’m all about gushing over the goodness. I guess this is why I’ve become a mixologist magnet.
People like to try new things. If you are new to deviating from the drink diary, start with small substitutions like adding flavored vodka to a martini or infusing a cocktail with fresh fruit juice. And if you’re really stuck for coming up with something innovative – there’s an app for that. (Mixology
and Mr. Bartender
are good to check out for starters. Mr. Bartender
allows you to shake your phone to generate a random drink recipe, and you can also add your own drink recipes and photos to the app as well. Mixology
lets you add photos and recipes, too, but only with the paid version.) I love Mr. Bartender
because of the shake factor for when I don’t know what I want to drink and don’t know how to make it. I can just flash my phone at the bartender and we’re good to go!
Mr. Bartender is an app that allows you as a customer or bartender to shake your phone to bring up a tried and true drink recipe when you don't know what to make, order, or need to find out what goes into a libation.
If you use Mixology on your iPhone, you will be able to search by drink name so you can create any concoction or have your bartender duplicate your drink.
Dress for Success – And that doesn’t always mean stuffy, prim, and proper – and boring – I get it – dress code isn’t up to you. It’s up to the owner of the hotel, restaurant, or bar. However, here’s to hoping that if you have input on what’s acceptable to wear to work that the right ears are listening. It’s mostly about the drinks, but it’s also about the service and ambiance when someone frequents an establishment and brings in friends, family, and an entourage to follow. Every place can’t be everything to everyone.
If you’re a jeans and t-shirts place, then as a restaurant or bar owner, you shouldn’t have your staff dressed all stuffy. The white button down shirts and black pants look for a bartender isn’t going to bring in the tips. There’s a reason why the servers and bartenders in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, and some beer and burger joints rake in the extra money. It may not be PC, but the fact is, men like looking at a pretty-dressed woman behind the bar (Think Coyote Ugly). And women, they enjoy their eye candy, too. If you hire people with personality and allow them to feel relaxed serving up cosmos and Coronas, wearing a pair of jeans to blend in with the crowd, it will bring out their best. It’s kind of like casual Fridays at an office job – make your employees happy and customers will benefit from it, too. At the same time, please don’t make a woman dress like a man. You wouldn’t force a guy to get into a skirt would you? Then really, don’t make the mixologist maiden or waiter wear a tie. I’ve seen this. Really?
Cabernet by candelight
Patience is a Virtue - As a bartender, don’t jump right on the customer as soon as they pull up a bar stool. Give them a minute to decide what they want to drink. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear the “What can I get you?” and I’ve barely sat down. You can acknowledge a customer by saying “Hi, how are you?” and let them take the lead. Trust me – they know why they’re there. Better yet, if you’ve got any drink or happy hour specials, mention them at that point. If there’s a martini, beer, or wine menu, place it in front of them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to search for a blackboard to find out if there was a drink special, or ask a bartender if there was a martini menu. I love to try new things, but if I don’t know what you’ve got, I can’t read your mind.
Then, ask the patron if you can get them some water while they decide what they would like to have. This will give you something to do other than hover, and it will allow the customer to figure out what they want to drink. Some people, of course, will know what they want right away. So be it. At that point, take their order and be attentive.
I guess you can call this a list of where server etiquette lacks; but hopefully I’ve made some suggestions how to improve it, as well. Chances are many people have worked or will work in the beverage or food service industry at some point in their lives, so why not make the most if it. A happy customer means a better chance of you being happy with the tip, too.
Kuk Harrell (left), a four-time Grammy award winner (on left) enjoying some down time with Rihanna and a friend. - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
Are you a fan of American Idol? Are you looking for something more realistic and less rehearsed? Well, four-time Grammy winner, Kuk Harrell has got something better. He doesn’t just launch stars, he launches superstars into the celebrity stratosphere like Cher, Usher, Katy Perry, Celine Dion, Chris Brown, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Leona Lewis, Lionel Richie, Beyoncé, Rihanna, JLo, Lea Michele, and Justin Bieber - and now he’s doing it with “Kuk Harrell’s Worldwide Internet Talent Search” (also known as “Who’s Next?”) It’s a way for him to find the next superstar. Let me explain - but first, let me give you some background on this music magic making man.
“I believe in my journey of working with nothing but superstars” – Kuk Harrell - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
So, as I sat in my office speaking to “the man behind the music”, as coined by The New York Times
, for the first time on the phone, I was informed very casually that he was on his way to Cher’s house. Yes, Cher
. And while most people would probably be sitting there and be partially star struck, all I could feel pulsing through my veins was that I have to knock this interview out of the ballpark – I have to make this one count more than ever. Why? Because this man, is becoming one of those names that needs no introduction, nor explanation, nor last name in the entertainment industry - and I want to say I knew it when…
“I believe that in my journey I'm supposed to be one of those people that finds superstars and releases them,” says Kuk Harrell
in one of his YouTube videos. He can say that, too. He’s worked with the biggest names in R&B & pop and considered the best vocal producer in the industry.
Kuk Harrell has worked with Jennifer Lopez among many other musically talented superstars. - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
“This is the season that Rihanna and Justin Bieber are on the road, so right now I’m working with the legendary Cher, and Lea Michele [of Glee
],” said Harrell with much modesty. (Both Cher and Lea Michele are releasing new albums very soon.)
He speaks of his work with these superstars as if he does it every day; well – he does. There’s no time to get nervous or hung up on the fact that you are in the same room with highly successful people. I get it. When you are in an industry where you are a creator and instrumental to fostering the success of others, you constantly push yourself to the next level, and to do something more spectacular than before. You channel your energy into a tunnel vision focus and don’t even stop to ask yourself “Is this really happening?”
Harrell agrees with me - “Well, it’s the same as you. I know that I am considered an expert at what I do, so I know that there is a job to do; and more importantly the artist needs to feel comfortable - so I just keep my mind on the job at hand. I’m motivated by the fact that these superstars rely on me to bring out the best in them.”
Kuk Harrell at work. Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
This native Midwesterner goes by his nickname, “Kuk”, which comes from a show called “Kukla Fran and Ollie”. His family said that he looked like Kukla, back in the day, who was a little puppet. As a kid he watched his mom and her 2 sisters sing background for Aretha Franklin, so he knew from a young age he always wanted to work in the music industry.
Since then, he’s come very far as the founder of Suga Wuga Music, Inc
. (an artist development company), a song writer, vocal producer, album producer, and he has won four Grammys for “Umbrella” (Rihanna) (He co-wrote it.), the “Growing Pains” album by Mary J. Blige, “Single Ladies” (Beyoncé), and “Only Girl in the World” (Rihanna). Since he’s been surrounded by these talented people, his eyes and ears have been trained to hone in on the “it” factor for people that can become superstars.
Kuk Harrell in the studio. - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
“I always wanted to be big in the industry, but never knew when or how it would happen. I knew my career had taken off when I realized that the top artists were calling me to capture magic with their voices. I decided to go out on my own, because I feel like everything changes; and in order for me to do all of the things that are in my heart to do, I had to be the person making the decisions about my career, and moving out on them when I felt it was time to move…to make sure I was moving with the times...always taking advantage of all of the new technology at hand,” says Harrell about his own aspirations to excel as a superstar launcher in the music industry, and what the turning point in his career was for him.
"A lot of producers can find artists, but I'm looking for superstars. There's an "it" factor in Rihanna, There's an "it" factor in Justin Bieber.
Harrell wants to discover these artists, hone in on their talents and develop them, and take them to brand companies. His goal is to cut out the middleman, and put himself, and Suga Wuga Music
, in that place, and give companies an artist with great music and let that run.
“This is the YouTube generation. People are going out there and recording their own music and getting a million hits. But we don’t have the development. No one has the passion to develop the talent anymore. That’s where I come in,” says Harrell on YouTube.
Kuk Harrell in the studio. - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
All of this is what has led him to the culmination of “Who’s Next?
” a.k.a. “Kuk Harrell’s Worldwide Internet Talent Search
” - a web production where anyone can perform a song in a YouTube video, and then tweet @KukHarrell
the link to it with the tag #WhosNext. He views it, and then he determines who makes it to final groups. He looks for people in his Worldwide Internet Talent Search who have a distinct quality to their voice. (You know, you can close your eyes and hear someone sing and know who it is right away.) Once he has selected final groups, he conducts a web cam interview with everyone in those groups chosen and posts it on YouTube
This is the first season of the series,
and it is underway.
“It’s a game changer. The internet struck a blow to the industry because the industry wasn’t ready for it. This [Worldwide Internet Talent Search
] gets rid of the big old machine that gets in the way of the talent that really should be heard,” says Harrell.
“I have a Slogan for Suga Wuga Music
, and that is "Who's Next?" And It's not just who's next as an artist, but it's who's next as a person that is in charge of what I call a gatekeeper for the industry,” he continues on YouTube.
Kuk Harrell explains "The Vision" of "Who's Next?" - courtesy of Kuk Harrell's YouTube Channel
“…at this point I am the only judge/mentor for Who’s Next
. It’s really important to me at this point, because that’s what’s missing in the industry right now…someone who is actively making records now, with a hit track record, that has a true desire to not just judge aspiring artists, but mentor and develop them. After the interview with all the contestants, I ultimately find my one artist that I want to sign to my Suga Wuga Entertainment, [and] mentor them through the artist development process. Me and my team will write a record for them, release it worldwide, and have them debut on “Marie
” - Marie Osmond’s talk show on the Hallmark Channel. There are: Submissions to Top 20, Top 10, Top 5 then the final 1.
Kuk Harrell with Marie Osmond on her show "Marie" which airs on the Hallmark Channel. - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
The first season is in full swing and you can follow “Kuk Harrell’s Worldwide Internet Talent Search?” on Kuk Harrell’s YouTube Channel
, and catch up on past contestants, too. He always gives updates on Twitter
when a new performance is on deck.
The winner of "Kuk Harrell's Worldwide Internet Talent Search" will debut on "Marie" on the Hallmark Channel. - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
“All of my top 20 are special to me because I see things in them that other people don’t - but it’s too early to reveal who are my special picks thus far,” Harrell says when I ask him if he’s got his eye on a particular shining star that he’s seen perform so far.
He does look for certain qualities in those competing.
“First is the way they are with people. Do they know how to interact with people well? Then the gift, confidence, and the ever popular swag! Do they get everybody’s attention when they walk in the room?”
It’s the total package, I think. You need more than talent. It all has to come together, like with the Savannah Van Band
(Savannah Van, Matt Kwa, Nico Aranda, Ronnie Manaog, and Alex Strahle).
Kuk Harrell sitting center with the Savannah Van Band - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
The Savannah Van Band
recently contracted with Suga Wuga Music and is one of those talents just waiting to break the barrier with Harrell’s finely tuned artist development skills. (Check out their new single "Maintain
" - LOVE IT! This song speaks to me!)
"You're something I can't explain, so for now I want to maintain...this way"
- Savannah Van Band / "Maintain"
Savannah Van signing on with Suga Wuga Music with her band. Check out their new single "Maintain". - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
Kuk Harrell with members of Savannah Van Band - (Savannah Van (left), Kuk Harrell (center right), Alex Strahle (right))- Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
Ronnie Manaog of Savannah Van Band sealing the deal with Suga Wuga Music - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
Matt Kwa of Savannah Van Band signing on with Suga Wuga Music - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
Nico Aranda of Savannah Van Band on the day he signed with Suga Wuga Music - Photo Courtesy of Kuk Harrell
It may seem obvious that people can’t just knock on Kuk Harrell’s door and expect him to take them on as clients. You’d have to take a seat behind Cher, and Rihanna, for example. He’s got agents contacting him on behalf of well-known artists, and he’s also selecting new talent via “Who’s Next?”. His advice for those trying to make it into the music industry and get noticed is to use the new model for anyone wanting to get discovered – social media!
With everyone wanting to grab that next Grammy, you might wonder how he selects from among the already big names out there who to work with next when they come to him.
“More than anything I look at personality. Even though the artist is a superstar that doesn’t mean that we will get along in the studio. A very important part of what I do with the artist is creating an environment of comfort for them. When we get into the process of recording, the artist and I become very like-minded. That’s how I get the best out of them. If our personalities don’t work, I usually pass on the project because the fact that we don’t mesh shows in the final product.”
It makes sense. People either “click” or they don’t, and if you want to create something amazing, there has to be chemistry.
Harrell told me that the most fun projects he’s worked on in the past are, “For starters the co-writing of “Umbrella” - then Bieber’s Christmas album, Believe, and all of Rihanna’s last three albums.”
It would be hard to narrow his list down! So much star quality music!
He does say that he would love to work with Rihanna again if he could pick someone.
“I always love working with all my clients, but I would have to say Rihanna. I love how we come together to create great work. She does her part and she trusts me. She doesn’t micro manage,” he says.
Kuk Harrell has been quoted as saying he “takes an artist vocally to where they’ve never been before” – so that may leave you wondering exactly how does he do that? It almost sounds magical. The people he works with already have extraordinary talent yet he pushes that limit so the artists exceed their own expectations. This is something very unique to Harrell.
Harrell explains that, “Because I’m a vocalist as well, I know what I’m listening for. When the artist sings that perfect performance, I hear it, call it, and move on to the next section or line. Having vocal ability, and having listened to so many singers all my life, I have a deep understanding and a deep mental and sonic library of what a performance should sound and feel like.”
That’s like “when you see it, you’ll know it” – or in Harrell’s case – when he hears it, he just knows it. That is his talent – just knowing that star quality. He’s the man with the golden ear and the expert eye for spotting the next musical artist to make it big.
The “it” factor is not just having talent, but having the drive to keep at it, and the direction to steer yourself in, too. You have to have the combination of looks, talent, confidence, and drive to become well-known; but to become a superstar, you need to be able to tap into that formula for success and repeat that magic over and and over again – like Madonna, Cher, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, Sting, and Rihanna. If you can’t repeat the “magic” when you have that “It” factor, you become a one-hit-wonder.
“My “it” factor is first and foremost the fact that God gave me the gift, talents, and desires to do what I do! With that viewpoint for me, I stay focused on the job at hand, not who I’m doing it with,” shares Harrell, when I had asked him what makes him magical.
Harrell does what he does because he loves it. That’s when you know you have found your true calling. So what’s next? for him? He told me that he will keep on nurturing and discovering superstar talent for the rest his life.
“… I will! Because not only is it what I love but it’s my calling, destiny!”
“And I would say for Suga Wuga Music, I'm next. Being the next person to discover talent and launch them.”
If you think you've got what it takes to be "Who's Next?", check out the video below, courtesy of "Kuk Harrell's Worldwide Internet Talent Search". Make a video singing your favorite song, and tweet it to @KukHarrell with hashtag #WhosNext. You never know - you could be the next superstar.
You can follow Suga Wuga Music and "Kuk Harrell's Worldwide Internet Talent Search" at:
Check out Kuk Harrell's magic making at Suga Wuga Music - the entertainment company behind the biggest superstars in music. TheLadyinRedBlog is proud to be featured in the intro on the website.
Two days after TheLadyinRedBlog published this story on Kuk Harrell's Worldwide Internet Talent Search, CBS (KCAL9) featured this four-time Grammy winner on TV showcasing his search for the next big music superstar.
Click here, go forth, and party!
It's an online celebration of TheLadyinRedBlog's one year anniversary!
"If you judge a fish by its 'ability' to climb a tree, it will spend its entire life believing it's stupid." ~ Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a smart man –and his intelligence was not measured by a standardized test.
Just the other day I was telling my daughter that regardless of how she does on a standardized test or a placement test, it does not make her less smart, less talented, or mean that she won’t be successful in life if she doesn’t get a perfect score, or place in a top percentile, or qualify for a special program.
It seems that many of her friends feel pressured to score practically perfectly on tests in school. While I agree that children should strive to do academically well, a perfect performance isn’t going to guarantee them a six figure salary upon graduation, nor a permanent position until retirement with a single firm. The stress that some of these children are feeling is placed in part on their shoulders by their parents, and in part by some teachers. I don’t blame them. I just don’t agree with them. Society has said that it’s important that children take these tests, and that you should want to be the best of the best and outperform all of the rest. But I stop and ask myself – why? Bragging rights?
Some of these parents even enroll their children in extra optional math and language classes on weekends in hopes that they will score off the charts. The poor kids don’t get a break to play Barbies or run around outside with their friends, it seems. To me, play time is a form of education, social adaptation, and imagination enrichment at a young age – which is just as important as doing well in school. And everyone needs to blow off some steam – even kids!
The local school district tests kids for a program they call "Reach", which allows selected students to do special projects and additional activities outside of the regular classroom. They can learn about artists and explore topics in science that wouldn’t be covered during a normal classroom stint. It is a great program. It actually adds back to the curriculum a lot of the things that have been taken out over the years because teachers are now more focused teaching towards having kids do well on state-wide standardized tests – so they “teach to the test” and leave out the “rest”. Well, I think the “rest” is just as important.
So now, with a “regular” curriculum, as a result of everything being geared towards “the tests”, there are less field trips, less detours from required reading, less artistic activities, and the kids learn exactly what they need to learn, so hopefully a majority of the students in a school district will do well and make the schools and faculty shine. They learn no more; they learn no less; and they are missing out on other types of learning that are equally essential. Some of my most memorable times in school were when the teacher deviated from a prescribed reading list, and I got to read books that other classes weren’t reading. Taking field trips to museums, radio stations, TV studios, and nature preserves was amazing, and I learned a lot that you couldn’t read from a book or calculate in a math problem.
Sure, people want to have some point of evaluation of how well their children are being educated, but a lot more goes into that than filling in dots on a piece of paper or writing an essay. There are hundreds of colleges that agree with me, actually. Many of them have stopped using standardized tests as admission criteria.
Unfortunately, “ the same cannot be said for k-12, where scores on achievement tests are in part used for everything from admitting students to prestigious public schools to placing students in gifted or remedial programs, allocating federal funding, and even evaluating teachers.”
(Time Magazine, October 2012
) If you need more reasons why standardized tests as a measurement of skill and intelligence is not all that it’s cracked up to be, here you go
. Add in, that for some children, English is their second language, and they may be a genius in their native tongue, but due to their inability to translate the test questions perfectly, they just got dinged for being unequally bilingual.
Here’s some irony for you – I’m a writer and I love to read. I don’t have astigmatism, and I have 20/20 vision (thankfully!) but I can never truly grasp the meaning of what I read the first time around. I always have to read something 2 – 3 times before my comprehension is the same as others who “get it” the first time they read a paragraph, chapter, or book. It takes me twice as long to read a letter, email, book, or contract as your average person. It’s been this way for me since I was five and first learned how to read. Teachers thought my comprehension skills would improve over the years. It never measurably did. And I never let it ruin my love of literature. Does that make me any less knowledgeable? No. Because something takes me a little more time to accomplish, does that make me less “smart”? No. But on a standardized test if I didn’t finish a reading comprehension section in the time allotted, the score sure would make me look stupid!
Tests, do not measure the achievements or the potential of students. Some of our greatest minds in society didn’t have the greatest test scores.
So, my daughter just took a Reach placement test for students in second grade. Not everyone qualifies for the special program. We don't know how she did yet. If she gets in, we’ll be happy; and if she doesn’t, we’ll be ok with that, too. I told her that the end result really doesn't matter because so many people possess talents that they don't even test for! What if you're an excellent horseback rider? They certainly don't test for that in school! You can juggle? Well that's not evaluated. She told me most of the test was centered around logic problems. I thought to myself right away, well, that's not exactly broad. What if you are a creative writer but just stink at math? What if your strengths are in other areas? Are you any less deserving of learning outside of the (test) box?
I told my daughter that no matter what the results are, she should not feel like she doesn't have talent, and she's definitely still special. Some of the most brilliant minds and the most talented people possess skills that can't be measured on standardized tests.
What I want to say to all of the kids out there is – when you don’t get a high score on a test to place into a certain program, or to get into a certain college, or are not in the top percentile on a standardized test – realize that you are off the charts – their
charts. It does not make you any less smart than anyone else. It does not mean you are not talented. It doesn’t mean that you can’t do great things with your life! Because you can! <-- THAT, is what should be taught in schools!
Andria Hall is going for the crown of Mrs. Wisconsin. She glimmers in her favorite color, green. - Photo Credit: Grace Hudson of Grace Anne Photography
Andria Hall describes herself as charitable, compassionate, and supportive. Come on in and see why this woman is ready to take on the title of Mrs. Wisconsin and continue on for the crown of Mrs. United States!
Meet Andria Hall - wife, mother, Zumba instructor, volunteer, mystery shopper, and aspiring pilot! Forties means fabulous! - Photo Credit: Grace Hudson of Grace Anne Phootgraphy
I’m always admiring powerful, energetic, confident, and dynamic women who take pride in what they do, while being proud of their appearance, and accomplishments at the same time. That’s why Andria Hall got my attention.
With a little luck, we will be saying that we know the new Mrs. Wisconsin in a few weeks. And by mid-summer, we could be saying that we know the next Mrs. United States! On March 2, Andria Hall will grace the stage that previous Mrs. Wisconsin winners have walked, and hopefully be crowned the next Mrs. Wisconsin
. If that happens, this July she will be contending for the title of Mrs. United States
in Las Vegas, Nevada! Andria Hall is currently the reigning Mrs. Northshore 2013 and is prepared to walk the stage in her swimsuit, evening gown, and knock ‘em dead in the interview portion of the pageant.
For many, walking out of a dressing room in a swimsuit can be rather intimidating, so to do this in front of thousands, takes a certain kind of confidence. Andria, like me, is all about embracing the sexy, confident, mom/woman concept, and she is a role model to inspire others. Her poise and grace when I spoke with her is that of a seasoned pageant veteran; however, she competed in her first pageant ever
in 2012, and claimed the crown of Mrs. Glendale!
Andria Hall ready to go for the interview portion of the Mrs. Wisconsin pageant in 2012. - Photo: Courtesy of Andria Hall
Andria Hall currently holds the title of Mrs. Glendale Wisconsin. - Photo: Courtesy of Andria Hall
“Last year was my very first pageant!” she stated with excitement. Unless you asked her, you would think she’s been competing in pageants for years, based on her winning confidence, contagious smile, and go-getter spirit.
Andria Hall is not just a vivacious wife and mother to four girls; she’s a burgeoning pilot, Zumba instructor, mystery shopper, and avid volunteer in her community. (Yes, I said pilot!)
Photo taken at Andria Hall's first flying lesson. "I started off afraid to fly. I had so much fun!" says Hall. She will continue flying lessons after the pageant. - Photo: Courtesy of Andria Hall
When many of us think of pageants, we think of Toddlers & Tiaras, or fierce, cut-throat competition. Hall explained to me that her experience competing in pageants has been positive and amazing, contradicting the rumors we’ve all heard.
I went in thinking “I’d better keep a close eye on my dress so no one ‘accidentally spills’ something on it, or one of my shoes comes up missing!” joked Hall. Well, really, I probably would have thought the same thing with some of the negative pageant propaganda of the past in the press. But there’s no dress destruction or shoe sabotage in the realm where Andria Hall competes.
Andria Hall (on right), with the other Mrs. Wisconsin 2012 pageant finalists. Photo: Courtesy of Andria Hall
“I found the Mrs. Wisconsin pageant contestants to be some of the most amazing and kind-hearted women I have ever met. I was one of two women who were first time pageant participants, and we were welcomed with open arms, encouragement, and cheered on. Susan Jackson, the director of the Mrs. Wisconsin United States pageant, runs an amazing, fair, and stress free pageant. She is always there for you to ask questions, she soothes all of your fears and has become a wonderful friend. I can say that I am still friends and keep in touch with all of the 2012 contestants and I am looking forward to seeing them and meeting new women in March!”
Here’s the real deal about competing in some adult pageants on the local and state levels:
“To compete in the Mrs. Wisconsin United States pageant we are given a personal interview. This is where we get to meet all of the judges and they are given the opportunity to ask you questions in a private session. These questions are taken from our biographies. This portion of the pageant takes place the morning of. During the pageant we walk the stage in our swim suit and evening gown. You are asked questions on stage, and the winner is crowned…simple right? We are not required to have a talent.”
You can see Andria Hall in the evening gown portion of the 2012 Mrs. Wisconsin competition starting at 3:30
Ok, she says that she doesn’t need a talent, but I think juggling her roles of teaching Zumba, volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee
and the Metropolitan Milwaukee YMCA
, devoting her life to her husband and children, mystery shopping, as well as exhibiting intelligence and balancing a career could qualify as one.
Party in Pink! A snapshot where Andria Hall was volunteering at the 2012 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Fundraiser at the Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo: Courtesy of Andria Hall
Being a working mother of four plus taking out time for her husband, career, and own goals occupies a lot of Hall's time. If she claims the title of Mrs. United States, she is prepared for the travel and time commitment involved, though.
"If I am crowned Mrs. United States, I am prepared for the amazing opportunities that come with the title. I have such a supportive family and they want this for me as much if not more than I want it for myself," stated Hall. "I would love the opportunity to promote my platform of volunteerism. It is so important for our youth to understand the value of volunteering as it impacts their community."
Andria Hall with her family. Left to right: Genesis, Venus, Patricia, Wisdom, Andria, and Andria's husband, Darwin is standing in the back. - Photo: Courtesy of Andria Hall
Hall is very lucky that she has the support of her husband and daughters. She says that they are supportive of her dreams and want her to succeed. With their encouragement, she has become a Zumba and Aqua Zumba Instructor, and went back to school to get her Associates and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Business Management.
Andria Hall dancing at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee Girls' Night Out Fundraiser
She believes in giving back to the community because as a child she was a latch-key kid, and has an appreciation for what organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee and the Metropolitan Milwaukee YMCA do for children. That's why she volunteers her time there and promotes physical fitness by teaching Zumba classes for the young girls. The YMCA has also always been a part of her life and she loves the programs they have, which is why she participates in teaching exercise classes there as well.
Center in RED - Andria Hall at a Toys for Tots event at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Milwaukee last year. “As a kid sometimes we didn’t have anything under the tree. Last year we had the marines there and the money raised goes towards the older kids that get left out. We buy them gift cards and t-shirts,” says Hall. Photo: Courtesy of Andria Hall
Contrary to what you may think, Hall doesn’t go grocery shopping in her tiara and ball gown, although she sets the bar for being fabulous in your forties.
“I can be found in the grocery store wearing workout clothing of some type…my YMCA uniform or Zumba wear because I am always at one or the other! My ‘must have’ is my earphones. I love listening to my playlists or Pandora while shopping… it gives me wings!”
Hall's wings have taken her from Michigan to Wisconsin. She was born in Grand Rapids and grew up in Kalamazoo. She later moved to Wisconsin in 2006. She has a poodle/Shih Tzu mix named Sugar, and her favorite color is green. Did I mention she’s “swexy”, too? Swexy is a fitness program started by Hall and a few of her friends. It’s all about being sexy and sweaty. (Sexy + Sweaty = Swexy!) It’s a concept for a clothing line they are just getting off the ground. “When women go to the gym, instead of wearing sweats, they can be sexy, too!” (I like it!)
The Swexy Crew: (left to right) Gloria Sanut-Tarrer, Lisha Jones, Andria Hall - Photo: Courtesy of Andria Hall
Hall is very into fitness and explains how she sort of fell into it, and now is an inspiration to others who want to get fit and have fun at the same time. Her journey into looking svelte and maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle began when she heard the rhythm call to her – let me explain.
“I entered our family in the YMCA and local news station’s ‘Healthy Family Challenge’ and we were one of six families chosen to participate. We had six months to see which family changed their lifestyle the most. So my first week at the Y, I was almost 180 pounds and walking around trying to find something I would like to do. I heard the music coming out of one of the studios and got excited - something I thought I would love. I walked in, stood in the back with my oversized sweats on, and fell in love with the Latin/International music and dance moves. I found myself in every Zumba
class I could find within 30 miles of my house. I couldn’t get enough!" explains Hall on how she got hooked on staying in shape. "
I lost 40 pounds over a year-and-a-half with a combination of Zumba, Body Combat (a kick boxing style workout), [running on a ] treadmill, and aquatics classes. After taking classes for so long, my husband encouraged me to get certified, and so I did. I love seeing the sweaty bodies and smiling faces of participants enjoying my classes, not realizing they are working as hard as they are! I just recently became certified to teach Aqua Zumba!”
Andria Hall and her family had the opportunity to meet Cullen Jones, the acclaimed U.S. competitive swimmer and Olympic gold medalist. As part of the American team, he holds the world record in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, and at the 2012 Summer Olympics, he won silver medals in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay and the 50-meter freestyle. (left to right): Darwin Hall, Venus Hall, Cullen Jones, Wisdom Hall, Andria Hall, and Genesis Hall. Photo: Courtesy of Andria Hall
If you are from Wisconsin, I’m sure you will lend your support to this lovely woman in her endeavors to claim the crown. If you are not from Wisconsin, you might be wondering why you should cheer on an out-of-state contestant for a pageant.
“I think what sets me apart from other competitors in this pageant would have to be my heart. I truly want everyone to be successful, and no matter who wins, I will be their biggest cheerleader. I am about the empowerment of women and striving to do their best. I didn’t win last year…I didn’t take home anything. Was I disappointed? Yes. Was I sad that everyone last year walked away with something tangible except me? Yes. But I walked away so proud of all of them and I was proud of myself for putting myself out there without fear.”
“As mothers I think we all share a common thread…unconditional love for our children. Mommy will always pick her baby up when they fall, clap the loudest when they succeed, and cry the hardest when they are hurt.”
Pageants like the Mrs. Wisconsin pageant are so beneficial in elevating the confidence of women, and promoting philanthropy, that Hall hopes her participation in them serves as an example to her daughters and other women, who when they strive to achieve something, can gain the well-deserved recognition for it.
The Lady in Red loves you back Andria! Go get 'em girl! - Photo: Courtesy of Andria Hall
“I wanted my daughters to know that you can pursue your dreams no matter what your age is. I never want them to grow up and regret not doing something they had their hearts set on. If I thought I was too old to get my degree I wouldn’t have two now. If I thought I was too old to become a fitness instructor I wouldn’t have lost the weight I have lost, and become healthier, and I would not be a Zumba instructor today. I want them to know they can try until they die. No could have, would have’s here!”
Competing in pageants is fun, too! Remember playing dress-up when you were little? It’s fun getting glam! Hall says that if her daughters decided to compete in pageants she wouldn’t discourage them for a minute.
“My girls always want mommy to be happy. They love helping me pick out gowns, play in makeup and watching my photo shoots. They are very supportive, and my youngest even cried when I did not win last year. I told her that there is always a winner and those who gave it their all…I gave it my all and that’s what matters! I encourage my girls to do what their hearts desire. If they asked to compete in pageants I would support that 100%.”
Some women enter the world of pageantry at a young age. Hall had her own reasons for doing it now.
“I decided to start competing in pageants because I am at a place in my life where I want to do things I was always afraid to do. I have always been an extremely shy person….go figure right!? I hated being in front of people or in the spotlight. As an adult, I did not want my shyness to keep me from doing what my heart wants. I am not a good spectator!”
Life is definitely not a spectator sport; and you definitely don’t want to look back on a time when you say to yourself that you “could have, would have, should have,” with regrets that you didn’t take a chance. With Hall’s new-found confidence she’s going to pursue her dream to take center stage – literally!
Pointers for Pageantry
Andria Hall has some pointers for those who aspire to compete in pageants at any age:
On Family: “Make sure your family is 100% supportive. It can be very time consuming and costly,” she says. (This makes sense. The last thing you want is your family competing for your time and resenting your pageant participation.)
Look Local: Andria Hall recommends, “Look for sponsorships within the community you live. You can ask businesses you frequent; they know your face and will be most likely willing to support you as a loyal customer. Besides, who wouldn’t like to have a pageant queen at a grand opening or fundraiser if you do win! They can say ‘Hey she’s one OUR customers!'" (Your best backers are in your backyard!)
Research, Research, Research: “Research different pageants. Believe it or not, there are several! Some are more difficult than others, so check their websites to see what is required of you. If your family or job will not like you being away at competition for 3-4 days, that pageant may not be for you.” (Google is a start, but talking to others who have pageant experience also helps.)
Carve out Your Calendar: “Plan your year and stick to that plan. Twelve months goes by fast!” (Make sure you call the shots and don’t wind up with over committing yourself to events, or missing important deadlines and dates.)
Be Yourself: “That will always resonate with the judges and the audience. That was the best advice I received from several previous title holders. If you try to be someone you are not, it will show,” explains Hall.
Get Pageant Coaching: “You can either find a coach (and there are many professional pageant coaches out there) or find a former title holder and ask questions! Most are always very helpful and willing to help.” (You can’t just wing it if you are serious about winning. You need someone to show you the ropes, and share their expertise in the areas of self presentation, interviewing skills, and clothing selection for starters.)
Smile No Matter What: “I don’t think you need a thick skin...but you do have to be prepared to stand there and smile like you won, even if you didn’t.” (Perception is what you project. Walk like a winner and smile!)
Cleaning Your Closet: – (you know – getting those skeletons out): “Skeletons (she laughs)… Well, we all have a few but you need to come to terms with them for sure. No one is perfect, but if you think something is going to be a problem, you will just need to have an honest conversation with the pageant director. She will let you know if an issue is too big or maybe not as big a deal as you may think. Being in the public eye is key. Your family will have to be ok with that too! I always tease my husband saying that if I win, he will be Mr. Wisconsin! He’s a behind-the-scenes kind of guy, but knows that he will have to be there as my other half. Even though I didn’t place last year, I was still asked to do some speaking engagements, parades, special appearances, and so on.”
This blog has also been published via Patch Media in the areas shown below:
And went national with Patch Media via The Vine on 02/20/2013:
Trying on the Choos at Coco Pari in Red Bank, NJ before I brought them home. I never pass up a GOOD shoe sale. Shoe sales I'll pass up, but not for a brand worth its bucks.
Shopping is a skill – and a practical one! I always thought that they could teach a course on it in college. It’s not just important how to make money; it’s important to know what to do with it when you’ve got it so you don’t spend it all! Shopping is fun. There’s a reason why they call it retail therapy. But if you want to get some bang for your buck, you have to pay attention to the items you buy, their quality, and the timing of your purchases.
Designer pieces mean extraordinary fabric, fit, and quality. The money you invest in a few classic pieces that last a lifetime, probably equals the amount of money most spend annually on less expensive brands that look beat up after you wash, wear, and later toss after one season. Here, one of my Hervé Leger dresses.
I wish I had millions of dollars. I don’t, but that doesn’t stop me from looking like a million bucks. (And not all the time - I’ve got my jeans days, and I break out my flip flops and cut off shorts…. but you can dress me to the nines when the occasion calls for it.)
There are three things I love: shoes, hand bags, and lip glosses. (And men have their addictions, too – I know several who can’t pass up yet one more watch, or another pair of sunglasses.)
Admittedly, I have a lip gloss addiction. There are worse addictions to have! At the last count I had over 50 in rotation, and that doesn't count the ones I carry in my purse. I need my mauves, reds, neutrals, sparklies, stains, and berries. All pinks are NOT the same.
Don’t ask me how many shoes and hand bags I own. I never counted. At last count I had over 50 lip glosses in my current rotation; and yes, I use them all! (But not at the same time!) However, when it comes to my first two addictions, not just any old bag or pair of shoes will do. Now, I don’t need designer flip flops, and quite frankly, I wouldn’t want any – because flip flops are meant to take a beating, get wet and sandy, and I think I would cry if I ruined any pair of Manolos. But to me, certain brands do mean quality, and I am willing to invest in quality that lasts over time, when I know that I’m not going to be in situations that demolish my designer duds. (I don’t paint houses in Prada, and I won’t wear Gucci gardening. Get it?) And even within designer brands, not everything is quality.
My new Jimmy Choo Perfume suede wedge sandals in fuschia. These are from the Spring 2013 line and I got them for 50% off. It pays to subscribe - to newsletters from your favorite fashion houses. Subscriber only sales are not always on clearance merchandise!
I’m not a coupon clipper. I can’t be bothered. I don’t have the time. I don’t want to fish through my bag for tons of clippings for percentages off that I may or may not use before the expiration date. And most of the time, for me, except for make-up, the fashion houses I covet know that their wares are worth it, and don’t even bother with offering the kinds of discounts you clip and snip. However, give me a good online offer, and you’ve got my attention. I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for something or didn’t get a freebie at Sephora
. And recently, Jimmy Choo
was having an online sale, and I super clicked my way to savings. That said, there are
sales on premium purchases. You just have to know where to look – and when.
So I will share some of my tips with you for shopping on the chic.
These new Jimmy Choos were on sale! Love them!
I got this Michael Kors Fulton bag for 50% off, too. It was the last one left in the store. The copper-brown color can be worn year-round, but I dream of summer where I can tote around everything from my sunglasses, iPod, and hat around in it with room to spare. I can pair it with neutrals or accentuate navy and white outfits with this bag.
It’s Not the Quantity; It’s the Quality
Yes, I have a closet devoted entirely to shoes. I don’t know how many pairs I have. It would take too long to count. Suffice it to say, the stacks of shoe boxes run as tall as me. However, I didn’t accumulate this quantity of quality overnight. It’s taken years of shopping to find what I like, and to get it at a price I can afford. I also have a large hand bag collection. Again, I didn’t just go out last weekend and buy them all.
What I do is buy maybe two or three high-end designer hand bags, or pairs of shoes every year that I truly covet. I look for luxe materials like the softest, buttery leather that will last a lifetime and in classic colors. Some people buy five, six or more bags a year – but they are cheaper and quite frankly, not quality, and they don’t last a lifetime. They are lucky if they last six months of wear and tear before the zipper breaks or the lining rips. So meanwhile, they are probably spending just as much or more on bags as me, for something that is here today, and gone to the dumpster tomorrow. I choose to spend my money on fewer designer pieces than a myriad of lower quality selections that won’t stand the test of time. Truth be told, I’d rather have one pair of exceptionally expensive sunglasses than 5 dime store shades that fall apart after a day on the beach, or a single big Bvlgari bangle than tons of trinkets I wouldn’t have a place to put. So if you want your brand names, save your money and shop carefully, occasionally, and remember, it’s not a race to the finish line – those with the most don’t win anything – except for disposable deals.
My Michael Kors charcoal Sloan bag has the softest quilted leather. He's one of my favorite hand bag designers. I love it when my bag feels like a leather pillow. This was an outlet find for 50% off. Michael Kors stores might be ready for Spring, but I, like the groundhog sometimes, have to get through at least 6 more weeks of winter. The color and style is timeless and I will proudly accessorize with this for seasons to come.
Don’t Let the Labels Lie to You
I remember about ten years ago, Coach brand bags were “all it”. If you had a Coach bag it was looked upon as a status symbol. It was worth something. Their bags were leather and withstood the test of time. Then something happened. Coach wanted to market to the masses. So they created this line called “Poppy”
. It was perky and trendy and guess what? It was canvas and crappy. The bags were lighter in weight and lower in leather. They were less expensive than their luxury leather line, but Poppy was still a pretty penny. Then, over the past five years, you could still find leather Coach bags, but they started to incorporate larger amounts of cheaper materials like straw, more canvas and cloth, and still charge the same price. So people were paying for the name, but not getting the same quality. Additionally, the lower price tags on some of the items made them more attainable for some to get their status symbols, but what were they really getting for their money?
So while certain brands may signify quality, the buyer should beware and really look at each item in terms of it lasting long enough for it to be worth their money. Every fashion house has higher end pieces in their lines and lower end ones. However, the price tags don’t always reflect this. Look at Louis Vuitton
. You’ll pay almost just as much for a denim cloth bag as you would for another purse from their classic monogram line. Decide wisely. Some pieces are not meant to stand the test of time. Usually accessories that are more trendy are meant for those where money is not a concern and they’ve got a landslide of Louis’s at home. Shop Sales – Designers Do It Differently
This may seem obvious but not too many people take advantage of seasonal sales – because they don’t know where they are and their timing is all wrong. Flagship and local stores want to clear out their winter merchandise and switch over to spring. Summer is barely over and they want to push their winter wares. They want to display the latest and greatest on their mannequins and in their store windows. Yet, the average shopper will never see a 50% off sign in a Michael Kors
store window, or a billboard saying that last season’s Christian Louboutin
s are now reduced. Why? Because these high-end designers do it differently.
Let me explain: About three weeks after the New Year, the flagship stores are gearing up for featuring their spring lines. They ship all of the leftover “last season’s” merchandise to their outlet stores all over the country. This
is where the sales are – the designer outlets. You’ll see sales (sometimes unadvertised) start to surface at the outlets pretty much at the beginning of that third week in January. Timing is everything. Remember, the sales people will get first picks. If they see something come off of those trucks that’s a good buy, they’ll buy it. But you want to be next in line. So stalk those stores. Go at an off-time if you can – like during weekdays. Develop a relationship with the sales people there so they will give you a heads up when the newest, “old” bags will arrive. And when I say develop a relationship – I mean that you have to buy things from the store from time to time. Don’t expect them to just like you for being you. They can spot a mooch in an instant. They know a loyal customer when they see one – come into the store and buy
things again and again (and sometimes that does mean paying full price … so save your money!)
Some people go outlet shopping year-round. While you can find eclectic pieces by chance year-round, the largest offerings with the biggest not-picked-through selections can be found in mid-January and mid-August, when stores do their biggest seasonal swaps.
There are also high-end stores, like Coco Pari
in Red Bank, NJ that cater to designer brands like Hervé Leger
, Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, René Caovilla
, and a myriad of others. These stores want to turn over their seasonal offerings, too. Unless you do a drive by their store, you can find out about which lines are marked down periodically via Twitter
. Again, look for incredible finds at a deep discount starting around mid-January through the end of that month, and again in mid-August. There are other sales, but the size selection on those discounted items may be narrowed down at other times of the year. ebay is Your Friend
I’ve bought designer shoes and bags on ebay
. While this may sound scary to some, any vendor worth their weight will show many photos of the merchandise, with labels intact, from all angles, and have impeccable ratings. You can do your research, too, and email the men (and women) behind the madness. Ask them where they got their merchandise from or to send you additional photos if you are still not sure about something. Ask about their return policy. Ask if they have an original receipt or certificate of authenticity. And never, ever pay cash for something to protect yourself from fraud.
A great way to test the waters is to buy a previously owned designer bag or a once-worn pair of shoes in your size and see what you get. These kinds of classic pieces will be in excellent condition (or should be), and offered at a reduced price. Some people never want to be seen wearing the same shoes twice and their “trash” can be your “treasure”. When it comes to bags, look for natural
wear and tear on the leather. Ask to see the lining in photos. Some scuffs can be shined right out with a good leather cleaner and a bit of TLC. Shoes – they can always be re-heeled if they are worn a little thin or lopsided for under $20 at a shoe maker.
If you buy a second-hand pair of shoes, don’t worry – if they are Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin, or Manolo Blahnik – they should feel weightless on your feet and more comfortable than anything you’ve ever worn if you get the right size. There are European size conversion charts online
that are very accurate. You’re not buying Payless here. There is no toe-scrunching or heel pinching involved. You’ll get a great pair of shoes for your pennies.
Once you know that certain ebay vendors are not selling knock-offs by getting your goods and verifying that they sell authentic designer pieces, go back and see what they offer from time to time. Sometimes they get brand new designer duds that they offer up for a sale price, too, and you will know that it’s the real deal if you make the investment. I got some new Jimmy Choos this way, and a Prada dress
I don't see Spring 2012 tattooed on this gorgeous navy and white striped Michael Kors dress. I bought it brand new for a fraction of the original retail price just because it's a year old. Its classic cut and colors will seamlessly work from year to year and no one will know that it's not from THIS year unless you tell them.
Don’t Worry About the Numbers
A classic wardrobe addition is when you add something that’s tasteful and timeless to your closet. When I say don’t worry about the numbers, what I mean is that when you are wearing a tweed skirt, or a classic navy blue and white dress, a black pair of stilettos, or sport that charcoal gray handbag – no one will know that it’s from last season and not this one. They don’t tattoo 2012 on the tags or across the chest. If you are not buying a fluorescent orange tank top, that’s screaming “this season only”, you can feel confident that making an investment in something from a coveted designer you can wear year after year, will be worth it. Again, with certain designers, you will find that the comfort, fit, stitching, and attention to detail is what sets these threads apart from the rest.
Not everything I wear is designer, but I like to mix in a few quality pieces with what I have when I can. It’s fun, and I like owning pieces that won’t wear threadbare after one year of washing.
Recently I found this navy blue and white striped Michael Kors dress and I saved a bundle on it. Why? Because it’s from the Spring 2012 collection, and now it’s 2013. I can wear this alone or with a blazer, and not just this year, but I picture myself pulling this out in years to come. Similarly, I didn’t need a purple sweater, but I couldn’t pass up this one from Michael Kors (original retail price $100) that was in my size for $20. The store might want to think Spring, but it’s still 20 degrees outside and I’ve got a few more weeks of winter to wear this! And I couldn’t find one that was as high quality for less at a chain store if I wanted to!
My new Michael Kors $20 lavender sweater. I couldn't pass it up for the price. It originally sold for $100! You can't even get knock-offs for what this cost me.
Stalk Sample Sales
If you’ve got really tiny feet, or can slink into a sample size (0 or 2), it’s definitely worth your while to travel to sample sales. Designers sometimes do a practice run for fashion shows and come out with limited edition shoes and clothing (sometimes even hand bags – but not as often), that they offer up usually for one day only in a metropolitan venue like New York City. These sample sales also consist of items that have been on display in stores and haven’t sold by the time the season is up.
Sometimes you hear about these sample sales from fashion or clothing websites like Net-a-Porter
via their newsletters, or even the big Condé Nast publications (Allure
, etc.) let the news leak on their websites or Facebook pages. Beauty bloggers and vloggers sometimes share the news, too if you subscribe to any. I’ve even seen people handing out flyers on the streets of Manhattan announcing sample sales.
Again, let the buyer beware. Before you go – go do your research. Take a look at the linings, monograms, and labels of your targeted designer merchandise in stores so you know that you’re not getting knock-offs at the sale. And be prepared to pay cash with a no returns policy. This means know your size in each brand – jot them down on a sticky note, or key it into your iPhone – sometimes your size is specific to a designer.
I do mix and match. The raspberry sweater is one that came from my own closet but went perfectly with my new Ann Taylor Loft tweed skirt. Again, I spotted a sale on an outlet item in a classic look and did not break the bank.
It Pays to Subscribe
I subscribe to all of the online newsletters of my favorite fashion finds. You can do this right on their websites. Sometimes that’s the only way you can find out about an online sale! Subscribers snap up the sizes fast, especially when it comes to shoes, so be sure to click on over as soon as you have a chance. It’s not just last season’s clearance that they put up for grabs either! Sometimes designers want to get their new line seen and out and about in the real world, so you can find discounted new items this way, too. The key is to act quick. Most people think subscribing to newsletters provides them with an email box full of spam. While there can be clutter, you can usually quickly weed out the sales that interest you. I like looking at previews of what’s to come down the pike, too!
Happy Shopping! If you’ve got any shopping on the chic tips, please post them in the comments below!