Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

So, me and every other blogger is doing their picks of the Anniversary Sale. What do you need to get in on the action now? A Norstrom credit card! If you don’t have one, it’s easy peasy to apply online, then make sure your online account is set up and you can shop online or in store before the sale is “open” to the public on 20 July!

For me, I started with the Kiehl’s gift set – a great value – and 3 full-sized products. It was hard to decide between the two sets TBH! I chose the “ultra healthy skin favourites” set for $69 but I also really liked the moisturiser that came with the “super age correction” set at $89. Tough choices!

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The Kiehl’s Ultra Strength Hand Salve is only $10 (normally $15) – which in Las Vegas or anywhere super dry – you need!

And everything else from my picks from the sale (except the Saint Laurent sneakers and Frye flats!) are below. Not all Nordstrom stores have everything in stock, so if your local store doesn’t have it, they can order it for you, or order online. My suggestion is to make friends with someone in cosmetics and shoes to really get the inside scoop!

  • Voluspa Candle set $26.50 – after sale $40
  • Frye “Carson” Flats $157.95 (4 colours – not part of Anniversary Sale)
  • Gorjana Power Stone Semiprecious Bracelet $31.90 (6 colours) – after sale $48
  • Halogen Leather Moto Jacket $229.90 (2 colours) – after sale $349
  • Saint Laurent Classic Court Sneaker $595 (not part of Anniversary Sale)
  • Kate Spade Drop Earrings $31.90 (7 colours) – after sale $48
  • BP Stripe Faux Leather Clutch $22.90 – after sale $35
  • Barefoot Dreams Circle Cardigan $76.90 (4 colours) – after sale $116
  • Josef Seibel “Caspian” Sneaker $84.90 (5 colours) and I love the idea of the red sneaker – after sale $129.95
  • Paul Green “Logan” Bootie $239.90 (3 colours) – after sale $360
  • Nordstrom Signature Stretch Leather Biker Pants $649.90 – after sale $999

The only other thing I totally recommend is the Nordstrom Lingerie Wash $10.90 (after sale $18) – it is the best for washing all sorts of delicate clothing items!

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And honestly, this is the first time I’ve really had a hard time getting excited about this sale… it’s de-motivating to shop for autumn/winter clothes when it’s 115F/43c outside and the weather shows no signs of cooling off at any point in the near future. Nonetheless, shop away!

Sunshine

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Well, the burning (no pun) question is whether summer has officially come and gone in the UK?!?! A week of temperatures (and matching humidity) over 30c and the country was good and baked.

This summer, I’m in Las Vegas (hello, overdose on vitamin D). In all the years of going to Las Vegas, I’ve never ever never visited in the summer. I don’t like extreme heat, and I certainly don’t like sustained temperatures of 35c+ (100F+) for days on end. The first week I was here, it was ok and I thought I’d survive. Within a week, triple digits! 40c+ and I was dying. (How deceptive does that header photo look, temperature wise?)

I don’t care about it being a “dry heat” – it’s HOT. I’m taking one of the dogs out for walks at 6-630am and that’s the only walk we get for the day because it’s not safe to be out. No evening walks because even at 930-10pm the temperatures are still in the low 100s (upper 30s). Thankfully, there’s a smart thermostat in the house and surprisingly, it’s set at a very, very conservative 80-82F.

The other problem with Las Vegas? Ignoring the fact that my life is not a huge pool party with a cabana or dance club adventure that lasts until 3am every night, I come in two colours – white and red. I burn very easily. First purchases, 2 straw hats from Nordstrom. I saved a tonne purchasing them during the half-yearly sale, and hopefully, they’ll be more stylish whilst still shading me (the cotton baseball hat I’d normally wear was making my head sweat too much).

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Next purchase – sunscreen. What kind? I generally buy SPF30 or SPF50. I love Australian Gold simply because of the smell – and reminds me of my first visit to Las Vegas years ago and I stayed at Treasure Island (TI). I purchased the one with the built in bronzer (I need all the help I can get). (Hawaiian Tropic is another that smells great and the oil that all the cool girls used – think it was probably SPF -2 back in the day!)

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At Target, I grabbed a bottle of Pacifica SPF50. Pacifica is an all-natural brand, and this has no sulphates, no phthalates, no parabens, etc. and is mineral based, leaping bunny product. It comes out of the can white, so you do have to rub it in a bit. The smell is supposedly coconut, but I think it smells like white birthday cake.

And last, at Trader Joe’s I picked up their own brand of SPF50. Super affordable $5.99 price too! It doesn’t really have a scent at all, and what I like about it – it sprays clear! So, when walking Flash in the morning, I’ll spray some on my hands, then wipe down his ears and the bridge of his nose. White dogs can sunburn too!

You can’t have too much sunscreen right? I’ve probably had three really bad burns in my life (typical) and growing up, you didn’t really cover yourself in sunscreen like you do today. It was almost a badge of honour to have that super red, peeling, lobster skin, right? Bad field day in 8th grade and my shoulders were toasted beyond belief; summer on a boat rental in Lake of the Ozarks and my face was cracked, oiled, and horrid like a basted Thanksgiving turkey; and college graduation lunch – Annapolis, Maryland – eating crabs at Cantler’s on the water with no hat. My head got so sunburnt it hurt to wash and brush my hair for a few weeks.

Regardless of where you’re spending your summer, whether locally or abroad, buy a hat and wear sunscreen. You’ll thank yourself years from now.

Balenciaga

Are you thinking of this?

Screen Shot 2017-05-27 at 07.59.08Or are you thinking of those timeless, iconic dresses and accessories when women “dressed?” Actually, properly, perfectly dressed.

If you want to see actual, proper dressing, head down to the V&A now until next February 2018 and see Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion. All the details are on the V&A website.

The outfits are hard to capture through the glass, but you get the idea. Members’ week at the museum and this was the preview night before it opens to the public this weekend.

Warsaw

It turned into a very unusual week and after Krakow, I had to dip up to Warsaw for two nights. Lots of running around to do (not the typical tourist activities), so I don’t have much to share except photos. I stayed at an Airbnb about a 10-15min walk straight (literally) from the train station (excellent Airbnb with a great host too). The train from Krakow to Warsaw cost 199zl ($54) for first class, and I think it was 129zl for standard – the whole journey took about 3 hours.

I’m going to gloss over the snow flurries that occurred right as I was arriving at my Airbnb after I took the picture of the arts and cultural building below (built in 1955 and now housing a variety of museums).

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Old Warsaw was destroyed during the war, with many of the buildings just shells of their former selves. The restoration work was amazing (see the header photo), with this part of the city being granted UNESCO world heritage status! (Between this, the salt mines outside Krakow, and old Krakow itself, I got 3 sites in 1 country!)

I wish I’d had more than 48hrs to spend in Warsaw – it is a city with lots of potential for a great vacation! (Ok, it snowed again a second time the night I arrived with big fat flakes.) It’s also a city filled with a mixture of period architecture, communist-era, and new, shiny modern – sometimes all on the same street. And from what I can tell, it is a huge, sprawling city with wide sweeping boulevards – fitting pedestrians, buses, trams, and cars throughout the city centre, lots of parks for recreational activities and relaxation, and amazing restaurants for a variety of cuisines and budgets (and like Krakow, McDonald’s everywhere). I need to go back (maybe when I’m better prepared for fluctuating weather)!

That being said, to head to the airport, I picked up bus 175 at the plaza between my Airbnb and the train station – it only cost 4.40zl ($1.15), took 30min, and dropped you off at the front doors of Chopin Airport! You can’t ask for easier than that, right?

Overall, go! Go to Poland! I was leery at first, but after one day there, between Krakow and Warsaw I was pleasantly surprised and you certainly will not be disappointed!

Krakow

Not the first choice of a spring vacation/holiday. I headed to Poland and everyone else was going to warm climates. I’m ok with that. I’ve wanted to visit Krakow since I was a kid. There was a classic book called The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric Kelly.  (And without giving away the whole book, you can still stand in the market square every day and hear the trumpet…)

So, cheap flight on Ryanair (ugh) and hotel booked via Expedia. Tourist card (picked up at the airport rather than pre-ordered) for €30/120zl. I was prepared for lots of rain so I tried to pack the best I could.  The train from airport to central Krakow 9zl (machine takes cash or card). DO get a ticket as they come by and check every ticket, every train, daily!

I stayed at Hotel Legend, off sw. Gertrudy. It’s approximately 15min from the station (if you aren’t hauling luggage and actually know where you’re going). Lovely little hotel located at the far end of the old city near Wawel Castle. Would certainly stay again! The breakfast was amazing and that helped me save money as I generally didn’t need to eat lunch. Staff at the hotel was beyond friendly and helpful. They could arrange tours or guides if you needed, and most spoke excellent English. I had a basic room and it was more than comfortable for my 4 night/5 day stay. My room did face the main street, which also has a tram line that runs on it, so be warned of noise if you’re a sensitive sleeper.

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Scenes from Krakow.

Day trip to the salt mines nearby was very nice, and I opted for it on 3 May (Constitution Day – a national holiday akin to 4th of July in the US) as every other tourist attraction and most everything else in the city was closed! It was easy to take the bus there and the bus fare was covered by my tourist card! Tours of the mine are done in English and to be allowed photos was 10zl extra. Cost = 99zl = 23€ = $26 = £20 (approx)

I attended a concert at Sts Peter and Paul church for only 60zl (£12). Most churches offer evening concerts and this was amazing – featuring Vivaldi and Chopin. The only downside was that 14th century churches are super cold at night and generally don’t have heat. Sometimes it was hard to focus as I was SO cold! But the acoustics were beyond amazing – better than some symphonies I’ve attended.

Meals on average ran about 25zl. And don’t miss out on the pretzels sold by the corner vendors for 1.60zl! Flavours are poppy seed, sesame seed, or (asiago) cheese. And one day, it rained so hard, I grabbed a couple pretzels and ran to the Starbucks to hide out for a bit. Give me my overpriced tea, but I’ll sit and eat my outside vendor food.

Starbucks, Costa, and Cafe Nero are familiar sights in the city as well as McDonald’s. McDonald’s IS. EVERYWHERE. EVERYWHERE. Yes, I ate there once, when I was rushing to the concert at the church because I lost track of time walking around.

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For fun, get a QR scanner app for your phone. There are park benches dotted around town with information to promote literacy! Scan the QR code, learn about the person (ignoring my ad-filled QR app):

And while the Schindler factory museum was fascinating (and very crowded with group tours, it was a tad annoying at times), there were a few photos I took that I don’t think need to be shared online as there’s enough hate, right? I posted one on Instagram so pop over there if you want to take a look. My favourite though was the Galicia Jewish Heritage Museum – the photography was amazing and poignant.

Fitbit stats = over 100k steps for the week and 25,000 or so on the day I went to the salt mines. Lots of thick stone steps and belltowers – my legs hurt!

English Heritage Day Trip

Back in the autumn, I waxed lyrical about my English Heritage membership and all the historic sites across the country you can visit… Well, in the newsletter they email out, I learned Wrest Park (Bedfordshire) was hosting the largest St. George’s Day festival in the country! For a nominal fee (on top of the membership fee), we could go and enjoy all sorts of activities over the weekend! Even better – if tickets were pre-purchased online, you could save an additional 10% – excellent.

So, what did we do? There were a tonne of “living history” re-enactments – everything from Vikings and Romans who lived in England long ago, to Medieval/Renaissance knights and folk, Crusaders, and 18th-century lords and ladies! Plenty of food choices (though an equal amount of people brought picnics as the weather turned nice), activities for kids of all ages, falconry demonstrations, the ability to enjoy the amazing grounds and gardens, and the house was open as well!

My dad really enjoyed it – he’s still talking about it! For Americans, since there’s no “national holiday” like we’re used to with 4th of July celebrations, this was a fun substitute. I even got a little St. George’s Cross flag for that patriotic vibe!

Overhearing a worker when I was having lunch, I learned Wrest Park was expecting 9,000 – 10,000 visitors over the 2-day event! Easily comparable to many of the Civil War or Revolutionary War re-enactment events you’ll find on the east coast of the US.

There are over 300 English Heritage sites to visit across the country – a membership can easily pay for itself in about 4-6 visits.

Artist (not really)

So, remember how I went to Emma Bridgewater a few weeks ago with my mom and did the design your own mug? Well, 2 weeks later, guess what arrived at my door?

I’m not quitting my day job anytime soon 🙂 Nonetheless, I think my dad is secretly jealous he didn’t get a mug of his own.

Would we take the drive up to Stoke-on-Trent again and do another day at Emma Bridgewater? Absolutely!