A Look Back on 2014

It's been an exciting year for me personally and Simply Sarah Style. This year, Ben and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary, sold a condo and bought a house. We both turned 30. Talk about some major life changes.

In the midst of all these events, some awesome opportunities came through Simply Sarah Style. I completed more decorating projects, was hired as a personal shopper and started partnering with more brands to share the word about products I love.

To wrap up 2014, I thought I would take a look back at the most popular posts this year:

#7 A Rustic Chic Dining Room

This was Part 1 of a series. You might also want to check out Part 2 and Part 3 too.

#6 My Top 5 Tips for Saving Money at Target

#5 Q&A with Spoonful of Sugar Cookies Baker Katy Clifton

#2 Sparking a Connection with Lindt HELLO Chocolate

#1 Bargains & Buyouts: Cincinnati's Best Kept Secret

Thanks for your continued support of Simply Sarah Style. Here's to 2015!

Your Guide to Dillard's Biggest Sale of the Year

I first wrote this piece for Fort Thomas Matters last year and it went over well, so I thought I would share it with you. After all, who doesn't love a great sale?

I must tell you…The best sale to hit town will happen in just a couple days! I stumbled across this sale several years ago and must say it is one that rocks my world. On New Year's day, all
 Dillard's stores offer 50% off everything that is already marked down, which is basically most things in the store. As you know, all stores discount their holiday decorations, winter clothes and boots after Christmas day. Compound these savings with an extra 50% off the clearance price and you have the jackpot! Dillard's is basically giving things away.

Here are my tips for acing this sale:

  • Arrive early - The stores open at 10 am. If you want a decent parking spot, arrive by 9:30 am. I was surprised to see so many people there so early, especially last year.
  • Hit the handbag section first - Don't expect to score a large, high-end handbag (e.g., Coach, Michael Kors, Dooney & Bourke or Brahmin) unless you're willing to arrive by 8:30 or 9 am and stand outside the door for an hour so you can be the first one in the handbag department. I have seen these people in action and am convinced they grab five handbags each and sell them on ebay. You can expect to score smaller name brand items such as wristlets and other accessories though. Those are typically not the first things to go. They will most likely be around until 10:30. Fossil, Vera Bradley, Kate Landry and Vince Camuto bags will also be available a little longer. I have found that Kate Landry and Vince Camuto make gorgeous handbags, clutches and wallets.
  • Hit the shoe department second - Like handbags, this department will be a zoo, but for great reason. The prices are ridiculously cheap! You can pick up high-end boots for under $50.
  • Hit the seasonal section third - If you need holiday or winter decor, you can pick up items for pennies. Think ornaments, holiday plates, fur blankets and gift sets. All of these items are beyond cheap. While you're in the home store, also check out the luggage and bed and bath areas. You'll see great deals there too.
  • Sneak back to your car to store your bags - I promise…your arms will get tired fast. Go put your bags in the car and head back inside the store. The home department at my Dillard's will even take boxes of your purchases to the back dock for you. You can then load your purchases into your car from there saving a lot of hassle.
  • Shop the clothes and jewelry departments last - These things will be less picked over. Enjoy time browsing the racks and take it easy. 

To give you an idea of the prices you can expect, here's a list of the deals I scored the last couple years:

  • Lucky Brand Booties - $35
  • Jessica Simpson Handbag - $35
  • Fossil Clutch - $33
  • Christmas decorations - Almost everything I bought was under $5. In fact, most of the ornament on my Christmas tree this year came from there.
  • Earrings - $2.50
  • Vera Bradley Keychain ID Pouch - $4
  • Huge Statement Necklace - $8
  • Men's Nike Hoodie - $17
  • Kate Landry Tote Bag - $20
  • Men's Sperry Top-Sider Dress Shoes - $33 
  • Jessica Simpson Flat Riding Boots - $44

If you are looking for great deals, this is the sale for you! It will be crowded, but is totally worth it. 

Happy shopping, my friends!

Simply Sarah Shopping at Your Service

I adore the art of gift-giving. Finding the perfect present and then packaging it in a way that will delight the recipient makes me so happy. This season, I had the pleasure of purchasing family gifts for a friend who lives out of town and couldn't make it home for Christmas. Instead of purchasing and shipping, she hired me to handle the concepts, shopping, wrapping and delivery.

Here's how they turned out:

Gift #1

"Sending Love to My Old Kentucky Home"

This basket included:
  • Kentucky Blue Wine from Elk Creek
  • Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale 
  • Woodford Reserve Bourbon Balls
  • University of Kentucky Tea Towel
  • My Old Kentucky Home Koozie & Artwork from The Pink House Press
  • Kentucky-shaped Cutting Board
  • Kentucky-shaped Cookie Cutter

Gift #2 & #3

"Cuddle Kits"
These baskets included: 
  • Classic Christmas Movies
  • The Big One Blanket (The softest and biggest throw blanket you will ever find!)
  • Monogrammed Serving Trays
  • Christmas Coco-Cola Bottles
  • Striped Straws
  • LaRosa's Gift Cards
  • Winter Candles from Bath & Body Works

I had a blast working with my friend to curate a collection of goodies that would excite her family this year! 

Looking to partner with a gifting guru for your next special occasion? 
Email me at sarah@simplysarahstyle.com.


Merry Christmas!

I discovered the most perfect gift idea and had to share it with you! I stumbled upon custom home ornaments on Facebook. I ordered one and thought it would be the perfect way to celebrate our new home.

All you have to do is send in a picture and Tricia Spillman illustrates a masterpiece on an ornament. I am so impressed with her talent. If you're interested in ordering an ornament for next year, email me and I'll share her information.

Merry Christmas to each of you! I hope you have a wonderful week filled with simple joys, sweet treats and special gatherings! 

{Christmas cards by Tiny Prints}


Home for the Holidays

Just thought I would share a little holiday update...It has been one heck of a fall! Between work and exciting opportunities for Simply Sarah Style, I haven't slowed down. I'm beyond excited to have days off over the holidays to enjoy time at home, especially since we have a new house to celebrate in this Christmas.

This year, we purchased a new tree from Target. It was a breeze to assemble - only four pieces. That's it! So amazing. Our other tree requires branch by branch assembly. Whew...It's rough and it sheds, and by sheds, I mean it leaves pinecone pieces all over the place.

I was inspired to mix up our Christmas tree decor and try a black and white theme mixed with metallics. Our tree is pretty simple this year. Actually, our holiday decorations are pretty simple. I quickly found that the decorations we owned at the condo barely cover ground at our new house.

During my short bits of free time, I've indulged myself in wrapping sessions. 'Tis the season to make everything extra pretty! Wrapping gifts is one activity I adore. In fact, this year I was hired to select, purchase and wrap gifts for someone else. Talk about a dream job!

I can't resist a roll of gorgeous, thick wrapping paper. I find the best rolls at Hobby Lobby, TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Marshall's. I'm also a ribbon snob. I'm so particular. For bigger packages, I love a big fluffy bow.

Last year, I picked up a canister of great gift tags at Target. They were on major markdown, so I'm glad I got them. They're perfect for my color scheme this year.

Here are a couple shots from around our house...

How cute is this mini nativity scene? My mother-in-law picked up it for us at the Taft Museum. 

I pulled inspiration for the chalkboard art from Pinterest. Now that I see this photography, I think I'll add garland for more contrast. 

I absolutely adore the White Christmas print I purchased from Lindsay Letters. White Christmas is my favorite holiday classic, so this print was the perfect addition to our Christmas collection.

I hope to score more decorations after Christmas, so I have a more robust collection next year. 

Thanks for stopping by! 


Bargains & Buyouts: Cincinnati's Best Kept Secret

IMPORTANT NOTE: I've received numerous emails regarding Bargains & Buyouts. Please note I am not affiliated with this store in any way, I just shopped there and wrote about my experience.  I hope you enjoy this place as much as I do. Happy shopping!

Have you heard of Bargains & Buyouts on the west side of Cincinnati? I've read numerous posts by local bloggers raving about this store.
I finally visited this store and the bloggers weren't kidding. This store is amazing! If you're in need of furniture or accents, now's the time to ask Santa for a little cash to save for a Bargains & Buyouts trip over holiday break! 

Since we've moved into a new house, I have plenty of furniture needs, so I decided it was time to make the trip to Bargains & Buyouts. I plugged the address into my phone and my mom and I headed out on Black Friday.

First of all, this store is huge. It has a warehouse feel, but a nice wooden floor. The heat was lacking, but I was able to forget about that when I saw the amazing prices.

Right away, I noticed the price tags. Each price tag featured the retail price and the Bargains & Buyouts price. I was blown away by how reasonable their prices were - cheaper than TJ Maxx, Home Goods and Target! And, these products were on point with the latest trends! They weren't outdated pieces.

Within the first ten minutes, I spotted an outdoor chair (marked $20) and two ottomans (one for $99 and one for $189) that I wanted to take home. I quickly grabbed a sales associate and asked him what to do. 

The sales guys response: "You want both ottomans. I'll do both for $200." My jaw dropped. What???? You can bargain the already rock bottom prices???? I was shocked, and delighted! I said, "Deal!" and with that, he told me to drag my pieces to the "hold" area in the front of the store. He also wrote me a little receipt outlining the price he quoted. He told me to hold onto the quote until I was ready to check out.

Knowing that prices were so cheap, I was so excited to see what the rest of the warehouse had in store for me.

In all, I ended up purchasing more pieces than I could fit into my car:
  • Two ottomans ($200 total)
  • Two small side/accent tables (one for $30, one for $40)
  • An outdoor chair ($20) 
  • A ghost chair ($30)
  • A floor lamp ($65) 
  • A massive area rug ($120) 
  • A rug for my sister-in-law ($75)
  • An upholstered chair for my sister-in-law ($75)
I purchased every item in this photo, minus the ladder, bed frame and Christmas inflatable, plus a few more things not photographed.

I loved the detail and shape in the upholstered chair I picked up for my sister-in-law. This chair was marked $120, but I negotiated a price of $75. A total win!

I also scored this rug for $75. We'll be using it for my sister-in-law's bedroom redesign. Catch a sneak peak of her room design project here.

I was totally in love with this chair. If they had two, I would have scooped them up for our master bedroom. It was marked $100, but I bet you could have negotiated down to $75.

I also loved this ottoman. So gorgeous!

A couple things to keep in mind when shopping at Bargains & Buyouts...
  • Dress warm, but comfy (you'll have to move some of the objects yourself) 
  • Negotiate with a sales rep before getting to the checkout counter. They have no patience for questions regarding your final price at the cashier's stand.
  • Consider your driving arrangements. Bring the biggest vehicle you can find. Also, pack blankets, tarp, bubble wrap, etc...whatever you need to project your furniture when transporting it.
Here's a quick look at one of the ottomans and one of the side tables.

If you're in need of furniture or home accents, I highly recommend you head over to Bargains & Buyouts to experience this for yourself! You definitely won't regret it. In fact, you'll feel like you've landed in furniture heaven.

Bargains & Buyouts
5150 Glencrossing Way
Cincinnati, OH 45238

Happy shopping, my friends!

A Tour Through Blogland

Nicole from Probably Polka Dots, a lifestyle blog based in Atlanta, GA, invited me to participate in A Tour Through Blogland. I actually learned about Nicole's blog a while ago from Sarah of Social Sara. It was so long ago that I can barely remember the context. Anyway, I've always admired Nicole's style. She has a knack for curating all things pretty! Nicole does a great job at highlighting small businesses. In fact, I have discovered many lovely Etsy shops just by reading her blog.

This Tour Through Blogland consists of two parts, so without further ado, onto Part I...

Part I: About Me

Q. What am I working on?

I'm very excited to be working on a brand new Simply Sarah Style initiative that will launch in January. I'm not ready to reveal the full details just yet, but can say it has to do with decorating and home styling, a pastime I thoroughly enjoy, and something people often ask me about.

Q. How does my work differ from others in it's genre?

One aspect of Simply Sarah Style I really take pride in is the fact that the items I talk about, the parties I plan and the spaces I decorate all can be accomplished on a very reasonable budget, which means it is obtainable for a broad range of readers. I love creating a space or event that looks like it could be found in a magazine using items a person already owns or finding inexpensive ways to create WOW factor. This is the same with fashion. I love creating the high/low cocktail as Hilary from Dean Street Society would say. The challenge of putting together something inspiring that doesn't cost a million bucks, or even a hundred bucks, makes me very happy.

I hope Simply Sarah Style readers enjoy the affordable (and obtainable) inspiration.

Q. Why do I write/create what I do?

Simply Sarah Style started a little over four years ago as an avenue for sharing inspiration and the projects I completed. This was before the days of Pinterest, so blog-reading was the best way to gather ideas. Since I loved reading others' blogs so much, I thought I would start one of my own.

Through the years, I've gone through ups and downs. When I first started, I would write several posts a week because I had so much to share, but then my schedule filled up and I found it difficult to make time to blog so often, so I set a new standard for myself. I would blog once a week - every Wednesday - and that would be that. I felt good with that commitment.

Sometimes, even making time to write once a week is hard with my schedule. When it gets difficult to fit in a post and I find myself wondering what to write, I wonder does anyone even read my blog.

Then, I meet someone new who is a friend of a friend and she tells me she reads my blog, and just like that, I am re-engergized, and flattered. I'm happy that people feel inspired when they browse the pages of Simply Sarah Style.

Heck, Simply Sarah Style, the blog, has led to great opportunities. Not only do I do parties, decorating, wardrobe styling and gift-purchasing for people, I also get to work with great brands, small and large. All the of those things make writing and creating worth it!

Q. How does my writing process work?

I publish a post every Wednesday. Sometimes they are planned. Sometimes they are spontaneous. On Wednesday nights, you'll find me snuggled up on the couch with my laptop finishing my post and watching the latest episode of Nashville.

My biggest challenge when making a decision on content is typically the quality of visuals. I'm excited to share that I finally broke down and bought a nice camera after years of debating. Hopefully, you'll see the snapshots of my projects improve with this new piece of hardware! Any beginner photography tips are greatly appreciated! ;)

Part II: Meet Some of My Favorite Bloggers

Now, let me introduce you to three blogs I love.

Oak Ridge Revival

Andrea is one home design blogger I just adore. What's better is that she lives in town, so I have the honor of running into her occasionally. I first formally met Andrea when I did a feature on her for Fort Thomas Matters. It received such a great response that it was selected to run in Fort Thomas Living as well. Andrea is crazy talented when it comes to decorating. Her home is stunning, especially her kitchen! You can check out her home tour here.

Sarah blogs about updating her historical home, which has quite the family history. I enjoy browsing her blog for inspiration. I was also inspired to make my own "30 before 30" bucket list after reading hers (although, I need to rename mine "30 for 30"). Head over to check out her latest home projects, plus she has some interesting gift guides. Sarah has already completed her blogger questions. You can find them here.

PS-I automatically love other bloggers named Sarah!

I first discovered Summer from Simple Stylings when I came across her back deck makeover. Everything about this space was perfect. It was so colorful, so inviting and ideal for entertaining. You'll find plenty of inspiration on her blog and Instagram accountSummer has already completed her blogger questions. You can find them here.
Please head over and show these ladies a little love!

Thanks for joining me for A Tour Through Blogland!


Gift Guide for the Kentuckian

I am a Kentucky girl through and through. Born and raised and a real wildcat. Are you a fellow Kentuckian or do you know one? If so, this gift guide is for you! I've curated a collection of unique Kentucky finds. This guide could go on forever - think bourbon, Kentucky Derby or Keeneland items, other Kentucky-made products, etc. - but I've limited this collection to a couple of my favorite items.

Kentuckians unite! Which is your favorite? 

Black Friday Deals (You Can Shop Now)

It seems like the deals are better than ever before, with every retailer competing for your holiday budget. In fact, you can access most Black Friday deals now!

Since we're in the process of decorating our new home, I've had my eye out for great accents. Here are a handful of stellar deals for the home. Think 40% to 50% off normal prices!

C. Wonder Cookie Jar & Glassware (40% off)  

Let me tell you...the blanket I included is LIFE-CHANGING. I received the brown and white zebra print version of this blanket as a gift two years ago and it is absolutely amazing. It's huge and so soft. Forget the stupid throws that don't cover your entire body. Get this one now! And, it's on sale for only $8.99 (normally $39.99). What a deal! I want to buy one of these for every single person I know. It's that amazing. Earlier this week, I saw they had a navy and white polka dot one that was adorable, but it isn't showing online tonight (total bummer).

What's the best Black Friday deal you have found?
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