Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2019: My thoughts, tips, and what I bought!

Grab a snack, this is gonna be a long one!

I have always had a love/hate relationship with the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. The concept is fantastic because you don’t have to wait until the end of a season to buy whatever is left at a discount price. The sale features new items for Fall and Fall seems to be one of my favorites for fashion – who doesn’t love layers and boots?! So I get excited to purchase #allthethings and then I feel so let-down by Nordstrom every year. Orders are cancelled, sizes are gone… I think a lot of people feel let down by Nordstrom to be honest. This year might take the cake on that one.

Let me back up a bit and explain a few things. If you’re familiar with the sale and are just here to get angry like me, continue on to the rant. If you just want to know what I bought, scroll a little farther.

If you don’t know about #NSale, it is the Nordstrom “Anniversary Sale” that goes on every July. What makes it *special* is that NEW stuff for Fall goes on sale FIRST, as soon as it hits the shelves. When the sale is over, prices go UP (if there’s anything left in-stock!)

Every year, those who have a Nordstrom credit or debit card (they no longer offer the debit card for new members) are granted early access to shop the sale. They usually run out of stock or sizes on popular items but sometimes they restock things. The powers that be decided to offer fewer items but more stock in those items this year to try to help with that (it didn’t work). They also decided to let the *top tier* card holders (the big spenders) shop before the bottom tier card holders. This included basically every blogger and influencer and, well…

Problem #1: …all those influencers scooped up the most popular items so they could try to convince everyone to buy said items. And by the time the sale opened up to the rest of the cardholders, there was none left for the rest of us.

Problem #2: Nordstrom was really pushing the -Buy online, pick up in store- method for this year. They even offered a $10 reward to everyone who took advantage of this option (I have yet to receive my $10). I don’t know about everyone else but here’s what happened to me: I placed multiple orders right at 12:30 when the sale opened up. The orders placed were meant to be available for pickup SAME DAY. I then went to the store and shopped to see what I might have missed and try on some things. I stayed until the store was closing and there were several orders they hadn’t even started on yet. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the sizes and colors in my order were probably available in that store when the order was placed at 12:30 pm but mysteriously unavailable at 11:00pm. I didn’t realize I was relying on a short-staffed and underprepared department to fight for sizes selected from the same stock as thousands of excited sale shoppers who were there in-person.

Problem #3: *Double Points Days* …WASTED. Cardholders get points for every dollar they spend. Earn enough points and you get bonus *cash* to spend in their stores. Depending on your level, you can select a day or days during the year when you earn double the number of points on your purchases. I get 2 days per year and I usually use 1 during the anniversary sale and 1 around the holidays. Like SO many other cardholders, I used one on Friday because I was planning to make the most of my purchases on Day 1 of the sale. Well, so far around half of my items have been cancelled and we are all being told to try again when the sale opens to the public because they will restock. But we lose out on the double points. It’s like – hey, you ended up only getting 3 things out of the 20 that you ordered on your double points day but go ahead and (re)buy those 17 cancelled items on this other day when they are suddenly in stock again and lose out on $60+ of bonus cash. Um….no.

Dear Nordstrom, PLEASE do better next year. Staff your departments appropriately so that there are enough employees to pull orders before store shoppers can get to them! Or, separate your inventory. OR open online orders BEFORE those cardholders are allowed to shop in-person so your staff has time to fulfill orders before everything is gone!! Also, figure out a way to honor purchases for a minimum period of time before cancelling. Like, maybe keep all those pending orders as pending until you do a re-stock instead of cancelling the orders and then re-stocking. Or maybe you could at least create some kind of sign-up for re-stock notifications on items?! Just about every small boutique store online has this capability now so surely a behemoth store like you can figure it out? Something to look into! And, Nordstrom, I say all of this to you out of frustration but also out of love as a loyal customer. *They* say that the people we love the most can make us the most angry. Love you. Mean it.

Moving on…

In addition to hearing of others’ frustrations about the sale, I’ve heard a lot of shade being thrown at it for various reasons. Some social-media-type-people say they aren’t sharing the sale because people are sick of hearing about it. Some say it’s just a bunch of crap you don’t need. Some say it is overhyped and the only reason people buy things is because they are being *influenced* to do so. Blah, blah, blah. I love to play devil’s advocate about nearly everything (my Mom tells me I should have been a lawyer) so I could argue all sides but let me attempt to explain my un-influenced opinions on the whole thing:

I completely agree, 100% that sales can be a TRAP and you (I) end up spending more money on things I don’t need. I’m really trying to live quality over quantity and only buy the things I need so I keep a list and try to stick to it. Rather than browsing what’s available and buying everything I like, I decide ahead of time what I think I need and then try to find items that match the descriptions on the list. In theory. (I also like to keep a list of all the things I really want that are not clothes or that are a LOT more expensive which helps me avoid overspending!)

My specific list looks a little different every year but I usually stock up on some staples and then try to add a few new investment pieces as well. There are some items that are available every year or are available year round but are included as part of the sale. Sometimes I use it as an excuse to stock up, and sometimes I talk myself out of a purchase for the same reason. If it’s classic and timeless, it will be available next year too.

I buy a LOT more than I intend to keep. This is a controversial topic, I know. I’m not trying to advocate for spending all your money without a care or racking up debt. PLEASE don’t do that! But, particularly for this sale, and particularly for a store with the best return policy on the planet, I know that things are going to sell out FAST so if I think about it too long, I’ll miss out. I don’t hem and haw over any decisions – if it’s remotely under consideration, I snag it and decide later. If I’m not sure on a size, I buy two. If I can’t decide between 2 colors, I get both. If I’m not sure about something, I buy it anyways. Once I have everything at home – I try it on. I create outfits. I pair items with things I already own. I take pictures. I accessorize. And the things that obviously don’t work for me go back immediately. And then I take what’s left and I decide which items make my heart sing. Which items am I going to get the most use out of? I keep those and return the rest! It takes a lot of discipline for this method to work. Do so at your own risk! And while buying everything isn’t an option for a lot of people, I still highly recommend using this method for sizing if you can’t try things in store.

I’m looking at the sale this year with a slightly different point of view. I don’t really want what everyone else has so if it’s popular and sells out then forget it. I want to avoid most of the trends, stick to silhouettes that are proven to work for me already, and build a wardrobe with quality pieces that makes it easier to get dressed in the morning.

So…here’s what I got, and some of what I didn’t get…and why:

Click the image to shop items directly!

Every year I get at least one set of the Nordstrom Lingerie Moonlight Pajamas. They are hands down my absolute favorite pajamas. I own several sets and at least 4 different colors/patterns (and wear both S and M). I might go back for the dusty pink set but for now I’ve added the grey stripe ones. These are incredibly soft and after washing them a million times they still look and feel new! They also come in shorts and short sleeve. There is something that feels very #adult about wearing matching pajamas.

I usually get a throw blanket but I didn’t this year. I have enough. And then some. My favorite blankets are part of the sale every year. Incredibly soft and wash really easily. They come in S I X T E E N colors and are under $26!

If you’ve ever wanted anything made by Barefoot Dreams, the sale is a good time to buy. I can’t justify the blankets when the Nordstrom ones are soft and a fraction of the price, but they really are amazing quality and ridiculously soft. I do have a blanket/poncho/wrap thing that I got last year and love and is available again this year. I am a big fan of the cardigans and they have the cozy lounge one as well as the one that looks like your average every day cardigan.

I grab handfuls of basic tees every year. People keep raving about the BP ones because they are $11 and although I do own several, I’m not a huge fan. I don’t like where the sleeve hits and they are SUPER boxy on me. The ones I love the most are the Caslon pocket tees with the scoop neck. I’m a Small but bought Mediums this year for an oversized fit. I also really like the Halogen ones (went with Medium this year for the long sleeve but Small in the short sleeve tunic). They are nice and long and SO soft!! Short sleeve, long sleeve, turtleneck, tunic, v neck, crew neck, ballet neck, ALL available! Not all part of the sale, but ALL a great price.

I wasn’t into the denim this year but it was a bit all over the place at Tyson’s and honestly I’m just kind of in between denim sizes right now. I do LOVE the Topshop Jamie jeans and I grabbed a washed out black pair this year (and have already worn them a few times!). Go UP a size (technically it’s 2 sizes but they only do even sizes). I went with the 30 and they fit like a glove! They are a good high waist (right above the belly button on me) that doesn’t make my arse look flat. Am I the only one who thinks high waisted jeans are super unflattering on the bum? If you like tummy control, grab the Ab Solution jeans by Wit & Wisdom. (Skinny, high waist, camo, distressed, plus size, and more!) If between sizes, go down for these. I also have several pairs of STS Blue that are great and there are several pairs of that brand included in the sale. I. CANNOT. Get on board. With DAD JEANS. (Don’t worry the sale pair sold out anyways) #sorrynotsorry

I usually grab a handful of bras and underwear each year. Hanky Panky is part of the sale and an additional discount if you buy at least 4 pair. I grabbed one of the True & Co bras that I keep seeing Instagram ads for all the time. The verdict is still out on that one and I might trade it in for a SPANX Bra-llelujah Bralette. I was impressed with several Halogen bras this year and grabbed a few of those too. I’ll add socks to this category as well. I try to buy all the same socks so I can simply grab two out of the drawer and not have to worry when one goes missing. I have a bunch of the Nike no show socks which are available in a 3 pack every year for 9.90. I’ve started adding the Zella socks to my collection as well. The Zella stay on better but hurt the top of my foot if I wear them too long.

Shoes. The shoes are good, y’all. GOOD. That is, if you can get any in your size. If I could only pick a couple things from the sale, boots would be on that list every time no matter how many times I change my mind. I’m still waiting on a few pairs to arrive in the mail before I make final decisions about what I’m keeping but there are a lot of good options this year! Nordstrom has already re-stocked (and re-sold out) of a few popular styles like the Converse I picked up, so let’s all hope they keep restocking! There’s a whole lotta snake print and leopard print going on this year in the shoe department. I’m still waiting to see if my second order goes through for the super popular studded snake print flats by Steve Madden. My main goal was a pair of low heel boots or booties and something comfortable but stylish I could slip on with most outfits. The Sorel boots have been on my list for the past 2 years. My husband hates them and I couldn’t care less. There are at least 3 pairs that he hates. (Love you, boo)

I usually end up with a coat and a blazer during the sale. The winter coat that caught my eye sold out in a flash but I also really love this medium weight North Face parka in the olive green color. There were several others that I had to talk myself out of because I have a closet full of blazers and the only winter coat I actually NEED is a ski/snow jacket. This blazer (in black, size S) wasn’t on my list but I decided I would get a lot more use out of it than the long plaid one I had originally planned to pick up. Now I want the same blazer in this pattern. I also wasn’t planning on getting any new cardigans but my Fall/Winter uniform is basically jeans, slacks (does anyone still call them that??) or a skirt with a plain or graphic tee and a blazer or cardigan. On repeat. So when I saw this one on the rack and realized it wasn’t a woven sweater like the rest of them but actually the same soft shirt material as my favorite shirts by the brand, I knew it had to come home with me! And another item in RED for me! (Who AM I?!)

Some random other things I got for myself include this square neck top that I hope they restock because I want both colors (size M), this gorgeous dress that was the only thing that really caught my eye in the preview catalog (size 6, also comes in solid black), this puff sleeve top that I adore but makes me nervous because it must be worn with high waisted bottoms (size M for length), this long sleeve blouse that got me with the billowy sleeves and buttons (size S), this flowy blouse (in pink!) that is a perfect transition piece (size S), this lace trim cami that I talked smack about until I tried it on and then was super bummed I couldn’t find my size in more colors (size S), another cami, and this leopard denim jacket (size S – I could have done XS but wanted extra room in the pits). My husband met me at Nordstrom on the first day of the sale and I had just left the dressing room with a handful of clothes on hangers. The leopard jacket was draped over my arm because it wasn’t on a hanger and he legit thought I already owned it. True story. I also grabbed a wool hat from Something Navy (that is currently Sold Out). I adore it, but I’m not sure how many opportunities I have to wear hats when it’s cold out. (Dear local friends, let’s do lots of winery trips this Fall so I can wear my hat. Kthx)

The beauty department has some really amazing deals going on too! If you love Living Proof, there are a couple different sets to choose from. The Perfect Hair Day set is more than $50 off! It comes with the BIG pump bottles of Shampoo + Conditioner and a Dry Shampoo. I use the shampoo and I love the conditioner but since I can live without it, I’d rather spend my money getting 2 bottles of shampoo elsewhere. I wish I had purchased my GloPRO at the NSale this year instead of at the Sephora sale. It’s a better deal at Nordstrom and comes with the body attachment! Supergoop sunscreen is awesome and if you use the spray bottles, you basically get a free bottle when you buy 2. I have several T3 hair tools which are part of the sale. Got me a Kiehl’s Creme de Corps giant pump bottle of body lotion that should last me at least until next year’s sale and is almost 40% off. There are lots of makeup sets but I didn’t even allow myself to look unless it was something I already use and love and need a refill. (Spoiler alert, nothing met all 3 criteria).

There are about a million other things I probably would have bought if I endless funds or if I was truly a FASHION blogger, tbh. I have some tough decisions to make

My advice to those who want to shop the sale before it’s over:

  1. Don’t buy things because they are on sale, buy them because you have gaps in your wardrobe that you need to fill and you can do so for a great price.
  2. If the regular sale is anything like early access, you might have orders cancelled. If you are shopping online, check out in multiple small orders and have everything shipped to you. If something is available at your local store, go there and grab it in-person. I guarantee you’ll be faster than the *Buy Online Pickup In Store* department. Selecting that option DOES NOT RESERVE THE ITEM FOR YOU.
  3. Return items as quickly as possible so the inventory will be available for everyone else!
  4. STALK the site for re-stocks
  5. If you’re not sure or don’t feel like you can afford all the things you want, I encourage you to browse the sale for the types of things that are available. Take note, and make a list for next year! I try to do this myself every year even though I always pick up quite a few things. Next year, I’m looking at cashmere, Stuart Weitzman, and a couple of new beauty tools.

For reference, I am 5’8″ with a long torso. I wear an 8.5 or 39 European. My feet are narrow and FLAT and my calves are a 13″ circumference. I am all over the map with clothing sizes at the moment but generally speaking: 34D, Small tops, 27/28 pants, 6 dresses (hello, hips!), and super dainty size 4.75 ring finger.

HAPPY SHOPPING, Friends!!

Pantry Organization

Hi Friends!

Spring is here and that means Spring Cleaning! I typically do all that stuff in the FALL (I know, I’m such a *rebel*) but this past Fall was more about getting the house clean enough to host the holidays and not much more. I have more than made up for that this Spring!

*Spring* cleaning (no matter the season) usually involves making a MUCH LARGER MESS and then decluttering and putting what remains back in a tidy manner. Most of the house is currently in that LARGER MESS phase, but now that the first project is complete I have some motivation to keep going!

When I say “first project” I certainly don’t mean the first one I started. I started with the linen closet, got frustrated, started the pantry, got sidetracked, went back to the linen closet, dabbled in some clothes clutter, went back to the pantry, FINISHED the pantry, and now I’ve got my eye on the front coat closet. But the PANTRY!!!…

It’s EMBARRASSING to look at the *before* pictures. I didn’t want to post any but I feel like it can be helpful to others.

It might not be obvious, but when I look at the *before* picture I can see some level of organization going on. Like items were together, cans were contained on a large tray, and kid snacks were reachable. But it was chaotic and cluttered. Lots of things didn’t have a home so they were just shoved in front or in bins where they didn’t belong. Nothing was labeled so how could I expect anyone else to keep up?!

Even though it took a lot of dedicated effort and a solid week of having my kitchen look like a BOMB went off in it (for real though, the process is anything but glamorous – see photo below!), I’m so happy with the results and now I feel like I can tackle even the messiest closet in my house!

There are FIVE things that made the biggest difference to me in terms of functionality. I’m calling them game-changers.

  • ONE: The OXO Pop Canisters. They are air tight. They are easy enough (and FUN!) for kids to use. They are clear so you know when something is getting low! They can be pricey so I put off buying them for a long time but they are totally worth it. I would even pay FULL PRICE, they are that good! If the cost is holding you back, I would highly suggest buying one or two for your most used pantry items (think cereals and kid snacks). Then, if you decide they are awesome you can buy one or two at a time and build up your collection. Mine are all from The Container Store or HomeGoods. There are usually some fantastic deals online too so try here, here, here, and here.)
  • TWO: The Can riser. This was easily one of the least expensive things I added to the pantry and made one of the biggest impacts both aesthetically and functionally. Previous to the pantry makeover, everything was contained on a large tray. While the tray kept cans and bottles centrally located, it made things difficult to see and everything at the back was forgotten or expired. No More! And did I mention it expands to be wider and accommodate more cans if necessary?! It does. Mine is the MEGA size one which is big enough for cans and the regular one is perfect for spices. There are acrylic options available and ones with silicone padding but I like the look of this simple (and easy to clean!) option. It’s also really sturdy so I’m not worried about weighing it down with lots of products.
  • THREE: The Lazy Susan. This goes hand-in-hand with the can riser. I could have purchased a second riser and called it a day but this baby called out to me from the shelf at HomeGoods and is working out beautifully so far. The size here was KEY because my shelves are 18″ deep. Plus, it adds another texture and design element which I love. I don’t need to see what’s at the back of the shelf or reach around things because all of the jars and bottles are within reach. BONUS: It’s apparently super fun for kiddos to spin around to get the Peanut Butter. Obviously I can’t link you to HomeGoods but they were still in stock at 2 different locations the other day (in multiple sizes AND metal hardware options!). I also found the SAME ONE on Amazon and Walmart! There are plenty of similar less expensive options out there too!
  • FOUR: The Gravity Can Feeder. This is something that is marketed for canned goods, but we use it for beverages. There seems to be a variety of drinks in our house at all times and we usually end up with 3 of these, 6 of those, 4 of this flavor and 2 of that, etc. Traditional drink dispensers are designed to hold a 12-pack of the same drink, and every time you take one out a new one rolls forward. The organizer we have now fits 12 drink cans on each level and essentially allows up to 9 different types of drinks on the rack. This is perfect for all those odd leftover cans that used to hide in the back of the pantry for YEARS at at time.
  • FIVE: Labels. This little chalk marker now lives in the pantry. I wrote directly on all the clear containers and I used black gift tags from the craft store (love these on Amazon!) for the baskets. I promise, it wipes off every container AND tag easily if you mess up! Nothing in the pantry was labeled before so you either had to know what each basket was meant to contain or you had to look inside and make an educated guess. (Want to guess how often the hubs and the Kindergartener took the time to look in a basket and make an educated guess before they put something away? The answer is NEVER). Now everything is labeled and it helps keep us all accountable. Bonus points for teaching the kiddo to read cursive! If you’re going to organize your pantry on a budget and can’t swing adding all things shiny and new, I highly recommend labels!

In addition to these 5 game-changers, my ELFA over-the-door organizers from The Container Store have been used since day one in this house and are a great way to maximize space. If I didn’t already have them before the makeover, I would have absolutely included them in my top FIVE! I also think the shelf liners made a big difference. There are a lot of options available but I used these from The Container Store since they are already cut to size. They just help things stay upright without having to replace all the shelving.

I’ve had a few people ask for a step-by-step *guide* but I think it’s different for everyone depending on what space you have, your budget, how you work best etc. So instead, I’ve just compiled a quick checklist to cover the basics and MUST-COMPLETE tasks! It’s okay to do them out of order or go back and forth between steps (ex: empty one shelf at a time and declutter as you go) but if I skip any of these steps, I won’t get the same results!

  1. Empty EVERYTHING from the pantry.
  2. Declutter. Throw out expired goods, donate food items that you know you will not use, and remove anything that doesn’t belong!
  3. MEASURE. MEASURE. MEASURE.
  4. CLEAN. Take the time to sweep the floor, dust the shelves, and give yourself a fresh start. If you plan to paint, wallpaper, or update the shelves – now is the time!
  5. GROUP like-items. This will help you get a better sense of how to arrange things, how many containers you need, what to put on your LABELS, and if you’re over-shopping (or under-shopping) in any one category.
  6. LABEL. (EVERYTHING!) This will make things easier to find but also help keep everyone accountable!
  7. Do it ALL AT ONCE. This doesn’t mean it has to be completed in an hour, a day, or a week. But don’t organize one section or one shelf and pat yourself on the back. Chances are, you won’t be able to maintain it! The #konmari method isn’t for everyone but I understand why Marie Kondo says to tackle everything in a category at once.
  8. If it’s not maintainable, it’s not actually organized. It’s the biggest mistake I’ve made in the past and it is SO important. You can clean, categorize, contain, and label to your hearts desire – but if you know you won’t take the time to open that box of cereal and pour it into a pretty clear container when you get home from the grocery store, don’t torture yourself! If you want your kids to serve themselves snacks after school, try to stay away from heavy glass containers on high shelves! Make it work for YOU!

I know when a space is working for me (for us as a family) when it STAYS that way. If it starts turning into a mess then it’s just a disorganized space that happens to look pretty for a hot minute. If you *think* a space is organized and it’s starts to get a little chaotic, take a step back and address the issue. Sometimes all you need is a little tweak to get you back on track. Move it to a different shelf, change the container, make the label more specific, etc. Don’t be afraid to edit the space a bit over the first few weeks or months! I will definitely be posting any updates over on Instagram or in my Instagram stories (behind the scenes and updates aresaved to my highlights!) so check-in with me over there!

Serena & Lily Favorites and Sale Picks

I absolutely LOVE Serena & Lily. You can go all out with a very serene and beachy vibe or you can sprinkle items into almost any other style with ease. Their products are gorgeous, functional and HIGH quality. I feel like it can be a bit over budget sometimes and there are many other places where you can get that look and feel without the price tag. I mean, why spend $198 on a sheepskin rug when you can go to IKEA and get the same thing for $30? Am I right?? That being said, there are a number of things that are either hard to replicate, don’t have the same quality, or I just plain prefer from Serena & Lily.

For the next few days, you can shop Serena & Lily for 20% off the whole site during their Spring Design Event! Sale ends Monday 3/25. Use code: INSPO

I’ve rounded up my sale picks for you! Some of these items I own, I love, and would buy 100 times over. Some of these items are things on my wish list (but I have a massive amount of decluttering to do before I will allow myself to purchase!!). I tried to keep this list to some of their lower cost items. Everything pictured above ranges from $46 – $398 with the discount!

  • Baskets: These La Jolla Baskets are probably my favorite baskets of all time. I love organizers of all kinds and my house is FULL of baskets. The La Jolla baskets are a beautiful decorative element alone but they are SUPER functional. For me, they are laundry baskets and a place to corral our clothing donations. I’ve seen look-alike options at places like HomeGoods and they are just not the same.
  • Stools: I’ve wanted this Teak Step Stool for years and I might finally pull the trigger during the sale. When you have small children and it’s necessary to keep a step stool out at all times, this looks way better than the plastic ones. My kiddo no longer needs a stool but we do have plenty of visitors so I’m sure I can find a way to justify the purchase. The Dip-Dyed Stools are used Every :: Single :: DAY in our house. I mentioned them in a favorites video on YouTube several years ago and I love them even more now. I will say, the 3 legs makes them less sturdy than others (read: please don’t stand on them). However, they are comfortable to sit on to do my hair, my makeup, my daughter’s hair, etc. I usually sit on the tall one and rest my feet on the short one because I’m one of those people who is incapable of resting my feet on the floor. Using these stools has been life changing.
  • Pillows: I don’t actually own any Serena & Lily pillows but they are completely my style. I love them! There are plenty of styles, textures, colors, sizes, shapes, etc to choose from that you could easily find ones to go with just about any home decor style. ( Navy Monogram | White)
  • Lanterns: The Whitewashed Hurricanes pictured above would be beautiful on a back deck or patio and even inside on a table or a little floor vignette. I’m so happy to see so many lantern options in all my favorite home decor stores lately! I’m digging these lanterns pictured above too.
  • Kid’s Furniture: I’ve always loved how the adult sized Riviera chairs and barstools look. They give a very Parisian café vibe. I also love how they have come out with a mini version for the kiddos! We just updated our playroom furniture but I might have purchased the Riviera Play Chairs and Riviera Play Table if I had seen them first. Très Chic!
  • Art: Serena & Lily has an incredible selection of original artwork and prints. The piece pictured here is gorgeous “January Buds” – very ME. It’s featured as nursery decor and there are a bunch of sweet images for a sweet babe’s room but I could place this floral print in just about any room. I’m obsessed.
  • Chairs: There are at least 8 different chairs I would love to have from Serena & Lily. They know how to do chairs well. Director’s chairs have been around in design for a long time. They’re classic and so are stripes. Enter the striped Director’s Chair. Use it indoors or out. You just can’t go wrong.
  • Beach Towels: Serena & Lily textiles are just plain good. I could link you to the beach towel here and just leave it at that. Just plain good. But I’ll just add that I love having a big stack of matching beach towels and these are soft, absorbent, big, and -buzz word of the day- QUALITY. They are also perfect to double as a blanket if you dig that whole sitting at the beach (or just outside) on a cool evening.

I would also love to throw a new dining set, some amazing lighting (in love with this sconce), and a new rug for the living room into my online shopping cart and I might have to try out their linen pajama sets!

Do you have anything from Serena & Lily that you love? Are you shopping the sale? Leave a comment below!

The Ultimate Halloween Playlist

springis here!

I searched “Halloween Playlist” and came up with the same sort of boring lists over and over again. I also noticed that a lot of the music doesn’t go together and isn’t really *party* music. So I set out to create a playlist that I actually want to listen to and just so happens to have a creepy/spooky/disturbing/devilish/Halloween theme to it. Today I’m sharing my playlist with you!  Really, I’m sharing a long list of music including ones that didn’t make the cut for me so that you can pick and choose which songs to put on your own playlist. I thought it might help to explain a few of the songs so I did that too. Some songs make the cut for their meaning and lyrics, some for the somber mood they evoke, some for both! Some just have keywords in them like “wicked” and “devil”. Do you know how many songs have the word “DEVIL” in them?! I could have called this “Devil’s Playlist” but that was bit much for me. There’s definitely enough material to go in that direction if you want to be super dark and creepy for Halloween.

 

If you just want to see a list of song titles you can skip to the end of this post where I’ve listed them and linked directly to my playlist on Amazon Music.

Photo_from__Hours_with_the_Ghosts_or,_Nineteenth_Century_Witchcraft__by_Henry_Ridgely_Evans,_1891_01

When we are HOME on Halloween we like to set up a table out front with adult beverages, hot cocoa, and non-sweet treats in addition to all the candy. For this, I like to play music that’s more background and leans towards that “spooky sounds” cassette tape we played out of a front window at my house growing up! Of course, this doesn’t have to be all instrumental but that whole *Organ playing at Dracula’s castle* is the vibe I’m going for. This year, I’ve added a little fast paced Tiesto (from the Hotel Transylvania 3 Soundtrack) because, well, I can. I But this post is really about the party music – with lyrics. No instrumentals.

For the indoor, get in-the-halloween-mood, dinner party, crowd pleasing playlist, I have a LOT of options to go through with you and I’ve got a pretty Pinterest-worthy graphic with the exact songs I have on my personalized playlist. I’ve also got a link to the playlist on Amazon Music in case you’ve got an Amazon Unlimited subscription! (Get a 30 Day trial!) My exact playlist is in a specific order. It starts slow and builds to a more danceable beat and then slows back down again. It runs for just under 2 hours at 1:52.

First up, is the FIRST song on my playlist and is the perfect thing to set the tone for All Hallow’s Eve. Seriously…if you’ve got a dinner party and your playlist is doing it’s thing in the background, hit the restart button when you all sit down to dinner so everyone can have the heebejeebees. It’s called The Unquiet GraveThere are many variations of this song because it’s an old folk song that dates back to the 1400’s. The version I’ve got is from the TV show Penny Dreadful because it’s a short snippet of what is truthfully a long song and some full versions are even a bit peppy (in tune, not content). The long-and-short of the story is: guy talks to dead lover – guy wants to join her in death because he misses her too much – girl tells guy, if you join me our hearts will simply decay so please go live your life.

The Penny Dreadful version by Abel Korzeniowski is basically the girl’s part of the folk song at the end, in a quiet and folksy whisper of a voice complete with lightning strikes in the background. This song would be an equally good choice to END the playlist.

While I’m at it, the whole Penny Dreadful Soundtrack is good for Halloween tunes if you like the spooky instrumental thing. The Unquiet Grave is really the only one with words and it’s short.

Penny Dreadful

The second song on my playlist (which, again, is meant to be played in order but would be fine on *shuffle*) is The Devil & The Huntsman from the King Arthur soundtrack. It would work well as the intro song on the playlist too and I debated doing so. If you start here and put the whole thing on *repeat* then I guess it doesn’t really matter!

Ain’t No Grave from Johnny Cash is the next song on my playlist.

When I hear that trumpet sound I’m gonna rise right out of the ground
Ain’t no grave can hold my body down

You can’t go wrong with Hurt from Johnny Cash either or there’s also a Nine Inch Nails version of Hurt. It’s twice as long, has explicit lyrics, and isn’t for everyone but it picks up tempo at a few different points and definitely fits the slasher movie type of vibe. Another heavy metal slow ballad is Disturbed’s version of The Sound of Silence  which isn’t as spooky sounding from any other artist or group. And did you know that Marilyn Manson recorded This Is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas? The OG version is great too but I took it to the next level with the MM version.

A more classic Halloween song is Sympathy for the Devil, a story from the Devil’s perspective about some the world’s most awful and violent acts. This song (by the Rolling Stones) is one that fits in with Halloween more for it’s lyrics and meaning than it’s tempo but a playlist can’t be all depressing slow music if it’s for a party, right? There are many recordings of this song like the Motörhead and Guns n’ Roses versions, but I like the tempo of Jane’s Addiction from the Son’s of Anarchy album. The song The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie is not nearly as popular but has a similar sound and would make a great addition to your playlist if you like this sort of beat and the same type of story-telling song. I love a raspy voice in an artist and Colter Wall has a good one!

Speaking of slower-paced, Lana Del Ray has a song called Ultraviolence that is quite slow (and quite sad). It’s a beautiful song but the lyrics are quite dark – they almost make me feel uncomfortable! A woman who is addicted to the violence put upon her? Haunting, but appropriate for Halloween. (It’s not on my personal playlist.) A recent find that is slow, creepy tone, is all about the demons and the devil, and IS on my playlist is Devil’s Playground from The Rigs. I’m LOVING this one for Halloween and it definitely made the cut for my personal playlist.

Also slow but more playful is I Put a Spell on You. This one is featured in everyone’s* favorite Halloween movie Hocus Pocus and is probably on most of the internet’s Halloween playlists but this year I’m using the Annie Lennox version. It’s less Halloweeny but has a bit of a bluesy vibe to it which I lean towards for a more intimate dinner gathering.

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*I realize that other people have a different favorite Halloween movie so not literally everyone…but those people are WRONG 😉

Another sort of jazzy song but that picks up the tempo a bit is an old favorite of mine from Esthero called Wikked Lil’ Grrrls (Wicked Little Girls). I discovered this song from SATC (if you don’t know, look it up) and it has NOTHING to do with Halloween other than having the word “wicked” in it. But, that’s a qualifier and I like the song. Similarly, I added a Taylor Swift song to my mix using the same qualifications. The song is from her latest album and has been on a bit of a repeat for me lately – it’s I Did Something Bad and you can analyze the lyrics all you want, but I think it loosely translates to a Halloween theme enough to make the cut. It’s also super catchy and peppy enough for a party.

Also peppy and a good dance vibe is a Justin Timberlake song, True BloodIt. Is. LONG. Nine and a half minutes. It’s not a favorite JT song of mine, but it is perfect for Halloween.

Some other songs that I haven’t heard much (or at all in some cases) before but have great beats are Devil, Devil by Milck; Blood // Water by Grandson; Raise Hell by Dorothy; Dancin’ With The Devil by Lindsay Perry; and Dracula by Bea Miller.

I have never seen an episode of HBO’s True Blood. (Don’t Hate.) But it’s about vampires and has some pretty great music. There are tons of songs from the show that would be awesome but I narrowed it down to a few favorites. The more popular of the bunch is Bad Things by Jace Everett. It works with the theme but is definitely more about romantic bad things than scary bad things. Me and The Devil by Gil Scott-Heron has a jazzy voice mixed with a more modern track and is all about headed hell (to majorly paraphrase). And When I Die by The Heavy is about what it might be like after you die and if there’s a Heaven or Hell. It’s worth mentioning that there are a few songs from The Heavy (not from the show) that are worth checking out for Halloween.

If you’re sticking to “traditional” Halloween songs (that seems like a bit of an oxymoron to me?) then the top of the list is Michael Jackson’s Thrillerduh. To be completely honest, I get annoyed during all the non-song parts of it unless I’m watching the music video. But the song is quintessential Halloween, everyone knows it kids and adults alike. It always makes the list. I wanted to take a second to give a shoutout to the SCREAM album though. It was released after MJ’s death, but is a compilation of  any and every Jackson family song related to anything mildly scary. It’s named after the MJ and Janet duo titled ScreamIt’s PERFECT for Halloween if you are a Michael Jackson fan. Aside from Thriller I only picked one other MJ song for my playlist, Threatened. It’s on the SCREAM album too.

Other go-to “traditional” Halloween songs that are mostly self explanatory include (but are certainly not limited to): She’s a Zombie Now by Meteors; People Are Strange by The Doors; Black Magic Woman by Santana; Shout at The Devil by Mötley Crüe; Witchy Woman by The Eagles; Devil Went Down to Georgia by Charlie Daniels; Ghost Town by The Specials; Witchcraft by Frank Sinatra; Maneater by Hall and Oates; Runin’ With The Devil by Van Halen; Devil in Disguise by Elvis Presley; The Devil’s Rejects by Rob Zombie; Spirit In The Sky by Norman Greenbaum.

And if you just want a list of *all* the possibilities, in (mostly) alphabetical order, here you go:

  1. Ain’t No Grave – Johnny Cash
  2. And When I Die – Heavy (from True Blood)
  3. Bad Things – Jace Everett (from True Blood)
  4. Black Magic Woman – Santana
  5. Blood – My Chemical Romance
  6. Blood on The Dance Floor – Michael Jackson
  7. Blood // Water – Grandson
  8. Bloody Mary – Lady Gaga
  9. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen (or Panic! at the Disco)
  10. Dancin’ With The Devil – Lindsay Perry
  11. Devil – Shinedown
  12. Devil Devil – Milck
  13. Devil Eyes – Hippie Sabotage
  14. Devil in Disguise – Elvis Presley
  15. Devil Like Me – Rainbow Kitten Surprise
  16. Devil’s Backbone – The Civil Wars
  17. Devil’s Haircut – Beck
  18. Devil’s Playground – The Rigs
  19. Devil Went Down to Georgia – Charlie Daniels
  20. Dracula – Bea Miller
  21. Dracula’s Wedding – OutKast
  22. Friend of The Devil – Mumford & Sons (or Grateful Dead, Tom Petty, Counting Crows)
  23. Ghost Town – The Specials
  24. Ghosts – Michael Jackson
  25. Gonna Be a Darkness – Jakob Dylan (from True Blood)
  26. Highway to Hell – AC/DC
  27. House of The Rising Sun –
  28. Hurt – Johnny Cash (or Nine Inch Nails)
  29. Heads Will Roll – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  30. If You’re Going Through Hell – Rodney Atkins
  31. I’m In Love With A Monster – 5th Harmony
  32. I Did Something Bad – Taylor Swift
  33. I Put a Spell On You – Annie Lennox
  34. I Put a Spell On You – Bette Midler (from Hocus Pocus)
  35. I Feel Like I’m Drowning – Two Feet
  36. Little Drop of Poison – Tom Waits
  37. Maneater – Hall and Oates
  38. Me and The Devil – Gil Scott-Heron (from True Blood)
  39. Miss Murder – AFI
  40. Our Little Doll – Rael Jones (from Harlots)
  41. People Are Strange  – The Doors
  42. Raise Hell – Dorothy
  43. Run Devil Run – Crowder
  44. Runin’ With The Devil – Van Halen
  45. Scream – Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson
  46. Seven Devils – Florence + The Machine
  47. She’s a Zombie Now – Meteors
  48. Shout at The Devil – Mötley Crüe
  49. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
  50. Speak of The Devil – Logan Henderson
  51. Spells – Orgy
  52. Spirit in The Sky – Norman Greenbaum
  53. Sucker For Pain – Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons… (from Suicide Squad)
  54. Sympathy for the Devil – Jane’s Addiction (from Son’s of Anarchy)
  55. Tell That Devil – Jill Andrews
  56. The Devil & The Huntsman – Sam Lee and Daniel Pemberton (from King Arthur)
  57. The Devil’s Rejects – Rob Zombie
  58. The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie – Colter Wall
  59. The Devil You Know – X Ambassadors
  60. The Sound of Silence – Disturbed
  61. The Unquiet Grave – Abel Korzeniowski (from Penny Dreadful)
  62. This Is Halloween – Marilyn Manson
  63. Threatened – Michael Jackson
  64. Thriller – Michael Jackson
  65. True Blood – Justin Timberlake
  66. Ultraviolence – Lana Del Rey
  67. Where The Devil Don’t Go – Elle King
  68. Wikkd Lil’ Grrrls  – Esthero
  69. Witchcraft – Frank Sinatra
  70. Witchy Woman – The Eagles

Series or Movie Soundtracks

  • True Blood
  • Penny Dreadful
  • Harlots
  • American Horror Story
  • Haunting of Hill House

Halloween Playlist | City Southern

Listen to my Amazon Music Playlist here.  If you don’t have Amazon Unlimited Music, you can use this link to get a FREE 30 day trial! You can still listen to most of the songs without a subscription but some of them might be hidden. I started my subscription over the Summer and it’s been awesome because I can listen to any song I want on demand and build some pretty killer playlists. Otherwise, feel free to use this list to purchase songs individually and build your own playlist! Hope you enjoy and if you have any songs to add, leave a note in the comments below!!

Correct Playlist Image

Catherine Calligraphy

Mini Fall Home Tour

Even though most of the leaves on the trees here are still green for some reason, it’s definitely *finally* starting to feel like FALL! Halloween is just around the corner and this is the time of year that really kicks off an entire season of family, friends, decorating, comfort food, fantastic fashion, and all things cozy! It’s my favorite!

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I decided to show off some of the spaces and vignettes in our home. I love me a good vignette and have them all over the house, and I’m constantly re-arranging things and tweaking them. As far as I’m concerned, nothing is ever finished (or perfect). As soon as all the Halloween stuff feels *just* right, Halloween will be over and I’ll cycle in all of the Thanksgiving items. (rinse, repeat).

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The framed skeleton hiding in the back was a DIY art project I posted about YEARS ago. I just printed an image and soaked it in tea to give that aged look. You can check out that tutorial here. (I really need to go back and update those photos! Don’t judge!!)

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I’ve always tried to keep the majority of my seasonal decor looking like it fits in with the rest of my neutral AF home decor. I think one of the reasons why I love this particular decorating season is because most of the seasonal stuff doesn’t look out of place next to the everyday decor. There are even a few things that I’ve truly thought about keeping out year-round and a few other things that ARE year-round items and look like I pulled them straight out of the Halloween bin. Again, don’t judge me!

Of course, ever since I became a Mom there are a lot more *cutesy* seasonal items I’ve added to the mix, but I try to keep that stuff in her areas of the house. Did you guys see the picture on Instagram of the table that SHE styled?? She selected the things she wanted, set them up on her table, and then hid underneath so there would be a creepy hand in the picture. Prop stylist in the making, perhaps?…

This is what her little table looks like now. Well, not at the moment because I’ve already changed up the books a little and my mini stylist likes to change out the decor as much as I do! But, you get the idea. It really does stay some variation of this – maybe not as tidy, but definitely not just for show!

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Our bar cart is the one that everyone and their Mama got from Target years ago. If we had the space for it, I’d throw a tray on top of a gorgeous sideboard and make that my bar “cart” or do a barmoire (bar+armoire) but for now, this baby is always styled for the occasion and I’m not sure I’ll ever truly get rid of it!

EXACT bar cart | Similar bar cart here| LOVE this one!!

“Poison” drink stirrers | Champagne Flutes | Drink Dispenser

This little terrarium was super easy to make and I already had most of the pieces on hand. The glass is actually an ice bucket (if you look closely you can see the word “wine” ) and I thought this would end up on the bar cart but it didn’t look quite right.

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I seem to have a thing with skulls. There are at least six or seven throughout the house.

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There are also a lot of decorations in storage somewhere that I’m just going to have to do without this year. But I’ll keep updating spaces and I’ll try to keep up with the changes either here or on Instagram. My desk-turned-console-table has already been re-styled no less than 3 times since taking these pictures and I don’t think I’m done yet! I think part of this is because these little styled areas of my home are real, living, breathing pieces of our everyday life! I use the candles and move them around as I do. We read the books (or play word-find with our learning-to-read 5 year old). We actually use the marble dishes, boxes, and trinket bowls. I LOVE fresh flowers and would put them on every surface of the house if I could afford it – I don’t just buy them for a picture and move on with life. And once I place decorations, I live with them for a day or two and edit as I go. That’s half the fun!! (And yes, my coffee table really looks like this with books, and candles, and breakable items. If you stopped by right now, there might be a couple toys and an old cereal bowl but don’t you dare roll your eyes and say it’s just for show because I’ve got a Kindergartener!!)

That’s all she wrote, folks. Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading!

Catherine Calligraphy

 

I’m on YouTube!

You guys.

I did a scary thing.

I put myself out there for the world to see! Blogging always allowed me to “hide” behind my words, so being on camera is a totally new experience! Yes, it’s scary but it’s also exciting and I’m loving it so far. I think I like it better than blogging! You can expect to see more consistent posting from me on YouTube than I ever did on the blog. *Pinky Promise*

City Southern

I’m still learning – I’m trying to figure things out and improve with each video I film and edit, but I would love for you to take a look and give me some feedback! I’d also love to know what types of videos you want to see!

…See you in my next video!

Catherine Calligraphy

Baby Valentine

Valentine’s Day was truly never a favorite of mine. It still isn’t a favorite holiday but it’s nice to feel extra loved and wear hearts, and I do get a little bit excited for Avery. She still has no clue what a “holiday” is and she can’t grasp the concept of having a Valentine but she does love all the things that go along with February 14th! A few weekends ago we snagged a few new pieces for Avery’s wardrobe that are perfect for the lovey-dovey occassion. I thought I’d share a bit of our heart-filled favorites for baby girl this year!

Baby Valentine

1: Heart Pajamas | 2: Sequin Heart Tee {long sleeve version} | 3: SMOOCH Hoodie | 4. Mother & Daughter Heart Necklaces | 5: Stripe Heart Tee | 6: Pink Hearts | 7: Knee Patch Jeggings | 8: Canvas Tote | 9. Heart Tutu Skirt

Avery uses hoodies and jackets as a security blanket. This morning she cried {REAL tears} because she wanted to put on “Jackie” but it was downstairs. This cream colored *smooch* hoodie from J.Crew will make her so insanely happy! These tops and bottoms are great for mixing and matching. None of them are too over-the-top so they can be worn until she grows out of them {which, let’s face it – could very well be BEFORE Valentine’s Day! #growslikeaweed} The canvas tote from ban.do is adorable for Valentine’s Day, or any day of the year! I hardly ever use a “diaper bag” these days but this provides just enough room for a few extra toys and clothes when we are going to a friend’s house or to visit with the g-parents. It might also find it’s way to Trader Joe’s!

Catherine Calligraphy