For this month’s Ten Things, we are featuring our lovely friend Harlow Skalwold, unstoppable human creator, art director at DellamorteCo. and chief coffee pusher at Banshee + Cinder Coffee. I began chatting with Harlow a few years ago, either for interview purposes…or…something else (I don’t even remember now!) and our friendship has grown and blossomed to the point where sometimes I find myself texting or DMing her about this, that, or the other thing on a daily basis. Sometimes frivolous or ridiculous, and sometimes more solemn, weighty matters–I think we’ve found in each other a kindred soul with whom to share our thoughts, no matter what form they take.

When I reached out to Harlow to ask if she’d be interested in contributing a “Ten Things” installment, she suggested “Ten Things That Got Me Through 2018”. Though I was sorry to hear that she–or anyone– had a rough go of it last year (mine wasn’t so hot, either), I felt very passionately about giving the opportunity to someone who had a painful, challenging year, to share a few helpful things that alleviated their suffering during that time.

At the same time I have been talking to Harlow about this post, reading her words, formatting the images she had thoughtfully chosen, and thinking about her experiences overall, I have also been reading Megan Devine’s It’s OK That You’re Not OK, and in this wonderful book and excellent resource, Megan talks about pain versus suffering, how to tend to your pain and adjust your suffering.

“There’s so much helplessness inside of grief, so much pain that cannot be fixed. Suffering, however, is optional. That distinction can help you figure out what things can be changed, and what things simply need to be supported.

In grief, pain gets tended, suffering gets adjusted.

You might ask yourself, where is there suffering? What tangible problems could be solved in order to reduce suffering? Are you eating, sleeping, moving enough? Can you spend more time with people who support your pain, rather than try to talk you out of it? Are there any places that induce even the smallest bit of calm inside your heart?”

I like the idea of knowing the things that induce calm in your heart while the rest of your world is in turmoil. The things, however small or inconsequential seeming that may relieve the pain in some small degree, or introduce a modicum of peace and stillness when everything feels like it is falling apart. Thank you, Harlow, for sharing the things that made your world a little better last year 🙂

undies1. Awesome Underthings

TomboyX Iconic Briefs
Something about women’s underpants really pisses me off. I like a pretty bra, sure, but I do not want all that lacy, frilly crap on my butt. It’s also difficult to find good women’s underwear with a Halloween print. TomboyX has catered to all my desires and they have these y-front briefs that really tickle my fancy. I bought 2 great Halloween prints, a pack of black briefs, and then went on to get a pair with an octopus print, and one with cats! Normally I’m all black everything, but for these underpants I’ve gladly made an exception. AND the Iconic Briefs are built with a front pocket so you can pack! So cool! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry about it!

2. Redecorating

I redecorate every year, but it generally consists of shifting my generous collection of art and oddities around the house. This year I indulged myself, embracing the modern, stark tones of Blade Runner and Delia Deetz. My living room is shades of grey with shots of red, ivory, and black. It is eclectic but clean, minimalist, and unapologetically not Victorian or witchy.
A big change that you have control over can be incredibly cathartic.
(You get to see my living room as a fancy collage because I haven’t finished painting the walls yet and I’m terrible at taking interior design photos.)


3. This sculpture by Kiki Smith at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ



4. Sawbones & Science Vs Podcasts

Sawbones is hands-down my favorite podcast. It’s the only podcast I listen to consistently. They are funny, witty, informative, and talk about one of my favorite topics, messed up medical history. They tackle important modern day issues as well, and being a liberal, science minded couple from West Virginia, things can get pretty interesting!
This podcast is therapy for me. I turn on a new episode while I work and I can just focus on their stories. My anxiety from the day subsides. My overactive, ruminating, worrisome brains finally shut up. This podcast is part of my self care, and something I really, really look forward to every week.

I occasionally listen to Science Vs when the topic intrigues me. Their The Science of Being Transgender which aired in December was eye opening. I’ve struggled to understand my gender identity since I was 10 years old. It feels a little ridiculous to have an epiphany because of a podcast, but there it was. All my confusion was simply because I don’t have a gender. Like a person’s sexuality, gender is something that is instinctual. Most people just know that they are a girl or a boy, whether that matches their sex or not. I don’t have that instinct. I don’t suffer from dysphoria either, though. I think I would have been okay in whatever body I was given. I’m perfectly comfortable with my body and my sex. I can identify with being a woman because of my sex, but I just don’t “get” a lot if things. I suppose like being colorblind, you don’t know you’re missing something until the world (people, society, podcasts, whatever) makes it glaringly obvious. Hey! Guess what! You’re agender!

Poppies from the manuscript Codice Rinio Codice Roccobonella, 1445. (1)

5. Online Support Groups
In May my mother was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, out of the blue. I thought she was going to die. Her doctors thought she was going to drop dead at any moment. It was the single most horrifying thing I’ve been through in my entire life – the idea of losing my mother. Friends helped find me an amazing resource for those going through treatment and their loved ones. I was able to join a group for caregivers and close family almost as soon as I signed up. And it helped. The moderator was knowledgeable and sympathetic and just urging enough to get a bunch of strangers to open up and start talking to each other.
My mother survived her first chemo treatment, barely, and then her second, and her third, and then surgery, and then more chemo. My mother is still going strong and the doctors call her a rockstar. My mother IS a rockstar.

Connect with others in support groups for cancer patients, loved ones and people who have lost a loved one, led by oncology social workers.

If you are troubled by a death, illness, disorders, trauma, social issues, identity issues, severe depression, anxiety, the loss of a beloved pet/familiar, anything… there is help out there, people who have been or are going through what you are. If you are troubled I urge you to please put google search to work. You are not alone.


6. Mab’s Drawlloween Club 2018

Daily art prompts for the entire month of October, hosted by Pop Surrealist painter Mab Graves. I’ve never done anything like this before and it was an incredible challenge that pushed me to my limits. It usually takes about a week for me to complete a full collage! I am so proud of myself for finishing, and I swear, I have never been so productive creatively in my entire life. Art is therapeutic for me, and while it kept me busy as hell, I absolutely loved the challenge.

You can check out my artwork on instagram:

voting7. Voting

Did you vote? I voted twice in 2018 – legally!*
We finally made a change and I have a little hope where there has been none in two years. We have got to put this dumpster fire out!

(*2 different elections, no voter fraud here…)

mourning8. A Mourning Tattoo and Mourning Jewelry

In 2018 I got another tattoo! My cat, Banshee, died in October of 2017, and I have never mourned for another living soul the way I mourned the loss of my sweet jerkface of a familiar. I was devastated. Distraught beyond measure. To celebrate our relationship, and keep her with me, I drew one of her owl like eyes and had it tattooed on my left hand. I am not hiding my love and my pain, and I am definitely too old to be squeamish about visible tattoos.
Then fate brought Copperelegy of The 8th House Collection to me. She inquired about an art trade… in return she created this this sterling silver urn bracelet containing the ashes of my dearly departed Banshee. It is gorgeous and perfect and fills me with such sorrow and joy. I was blessed to have had 11 years with that troublesome, possessive, mouthy, and loving little creature.

IMG_99229. Coffee

I had to stop drinking booze early in 2017 because of new medications. I quit smoking over a decade ago because it’s gross and cancer sucks. I’ve never been into the recreational drug thing, and they probably wouldn’t go well with my meds now anyway.
So what have I got??


I love coffee and you’d have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands before I give it up. I find pure joy in that first sip of the day. I love the aroma, the complexity of the flavor, the warmth on a cold morning. Or afternoon, or night… you know how it goes.

Coffee became a new focus for me in 2018 when I opened Banshee + Cinder Bespoke Coffee Co. Yes – I love coffee so much that I started selling it.
Sometimes when the world is bleak, you have to remember the simple pleasures to help get you through – because this bullshit lately is overwhelming…


10. Instagram

I really tried to make this last thing not be Instagram, but here it is. Instagram is one of the things that got me through 2018. I have my own little community of amazing people who have supported me through all my struggles, my new ventures, and random art attacks. This past year especially I have made some incredible new friends and acquaintances, and even met a couple of them in person!

I have been inspired, comforted, made to feel like I’m worth a damn. Thank you, Instafam, for getting me through 2018.

10 essentials

My 10 Essentials

Bombas Merino Wool Socks
So soft, so comfortable. I smile every time I put a fresh pair on my feet, and since I switched to wearing wool over cotton I no longer struggle with foot odor! Additionally, Bombas donates a pair of socks to homeless shelters for every pair of socks they sell.

Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm SPF 20
I can’t find a tinted lip balm with an SPF anywhere. I keep buying all these fancy tinted balms and I keep coming back to Neutrogena.

Nizoral A-D Shampoo
The only thing that has worked for my itchy, flaky scalp, and I have tried everything. I just wish I found it sooner!

Urban Decay Brow Beater Microfine Brow Pencil And Brush
The right size, the right color, and easy application. Seriously, all I want are good brows…

Fluevog Shoes
Goth/weirdo staples. With my Dada Donuts and my Derby Swirls I go from vamp to Brando without missing a beat.

My iPhone
I went to being someone who thought cellphones were a leash, to someone who can barely live without their better than Star Trek pocket computer.

Bird Ov Prey T-shirts
I live in these. Softest and coolest looking t-shirts ever. Jordan of Bird Ov Prey is an insanely talented designer, working out of Brooklyn, NY.

Batwing Sunglasses from La Femme en Noir
It took me two years to find the perfect damned sunglasses. I am finally satisfied, and I have a pile of sunglasses that I don’t know what to do with now. These suit my vampire aesthetic perfectly.

Eggo Gluten Free Waffles
The best gluten free waffles ever! I can’t find them sometimes and it makes me fantasize about buying a big freezer so I can store bulk quantities.

Hello Activated Charcoal Whitening Toothpaste with Fluoride
Black black black fucking toothpaste, I love it… I used to get charcoal toothpaste shipped from Japan because you could only get powder in the US. Finally someone has hopped on the activated charcoal craze, and lucky for me, their headquarters are 2 towns away from me!
(FYI they also make a black toothbrush.)

Find Harlow Skalwold instagram // art // Banshee + Cinder // DellamorteCo

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Mucha-Christmas-in-America-1919 Header

Sarah Chavez (interviewed previously) is a museum curator and historian who writes and recreates historical and cultural recipes for her blog, Nourishing Death, which examines the relationship between food and death in rituals, culture, religion, and society. She is also co-founder of Death & the Maiden, which explores the relationship between women and death by sharing ideas and creating a platform for discussion and feminist narratives. She is the executive director of The Order of the Good Death and serves as the Social Media Editor for Death Salon.

To continue our monthly installment of Ten Things, and just in time for our full moon, 2018 winter solstice, Sarah is here to share her Top Ten reasons as to why she loves the holiday season! There are eerie and wonderful and delights to be found here, indeed; I suggest you grab a cup of something steaming and fragrant, dim the lights, curl into your favorite seat, and tuck right in!

rau Perchta by Bill Crisafi
frau Perchta by Bill Crisafi

During this time of darkness, when one year ends and another begins, people have practiced rituals to honor and appease the dead. Similar to Halloween this threshold between the old and the new allows the dead, (along with demons, spirits, and witches), passage between our worlds.

We leave offerings of food on our tables and doorsteps for otherworldly beings, eat beans for good luck (which were once believed to be vessels that held the souls of the dead), and make noise (fireworks, gunshots, cheering) at midnight on New Year’s Eve to scare away unwanted spirits who wish to do us harm or bring misfortune.

Indeed, this is a magical time of year…but not for the reasons you might think.


1. Ghost Stories
“There’ll be scary ghost stories and tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago.”

Ghosts? On Christmas?
Ghost stories on Christmas were once an important part of holiday traditions –
“Whenever five or six English-speaking people meet round a fire on Christmas Eve, they start telling each other ghost stories,” wrote Jermome K Jerome in 1891.

This year, gather around a fire, or a pizza, to share ghost stories with your loved ones, or track down episodes of the BBC series Ghost Stories For Christmas and revive this wonderful, forgotten tradition.

film still from Dracula’s Daughter (1936)

2. Vampires
For me, the holidays season officially begins with St. Andrew’s Eve on the night of November 29th, when the vampires arrive. According to Romanian folklore, not only do spirits of the dead roam the earth this night but so do the undead. Be sure to rub garlic on your windows and your pets!

Holiday movies image from Bell, Book, and Candle
film still from Bell, Book, and Candle (1958)

3. Holiday Movies
If Hallmark Christmas movie marathons, and reruns of Miracle on 34th Street are not your thing (because they definitely aren’t mine), here are some alternative seasonal favorites that pair just as well with some popcorn and hot chocolate by the fire.

Bell, Book, and Candle (1958) – There’s witchcraft, a cat, and a secret nightclub for witches set against a Christmas in New York City backdrop.

Fanny and Alexander (1982) – Ingmar Bergen has a way of beautifully and painfully exposing the best and worst of human beings. In this lavish, visually stunning film he takes viewers inside the Ekdhal family’s Victorian era Christmas to explore the pain and joys of family.

The Curse of the Cat People (1944) – Intended as a sequel to Cat People (1942), this gem features the main players of the horror classic, but that’s where the ties end. In it, an alienated little girl makes friends with a ghost, and an elderly, reclusive actress. Critic Leonard Maltin’s descriptives of the film as “wonderful atmosphere [and] fine, moody fantasy” are spot on.

Night of the Hunter (1955) – I saved the best for last – Night of the Hunter is a masterpiece. This is essentially a fairy tale, both terrifying and achingly beautiful. If you’ve never seen it, here – this is my holiday gift to you.

Christmas Monsters image of The Tomten by artist Astrid Lindgren
image of The Tomten by artist Astrid Lindgren

4. Christmas Monsters
You are all probably already familiar with Krampus, but the holiday landscape is full of terrors, making it even more festive! Here are a few you may not be familiar with:

The Tomten are creatures that live in Scandanavia, and bear a strong resemblance to the Expedia Gnome. They reside among the dead in the burial mounds surrounding nearby homes where they act as caretakers, protectors and helpers of the household. But beware for they are easily offended and have quite the temper. The Tomten are known to act out their anger by killing livestock and playing nasty ticks on the home’s inhabitants, breaking things around the house, hiding important objects, (where did my car keys go?!), curdling the milk and tying the cows’ tails together. No cows? Your shoelaces will suffice.
There are even some stories of Tomten driving people insane with their tricks or even biting them. Their bites, being poisonous, typically lead to death.
You would be well advised to leave a gift of food out on Christmas Eve for this fellow.

The Karakoncolos is a version of bigfoot who can be found in Turkey, Serbia, Bulgaria and Macedonia. He appears during the Christmas holidays and lurks in the shadows on street corners awaiting the arrival of passerby. When someone crosses The Karakoncolos’ path, he asks them a riddle. If the word “black” is not incorporated into the answer, the unfortunate person receives a death blow from the monster.

Each year on New Year’s Eve the Japanese village of Oga carries out an elaborate ritual involving demonic-like ogre figures, the Namahage. During the grand annual festival fifteen Namahage march down from the mountain where they are said to live and descend upon the village. The demons hand out sticky rice cakes to the citizens of Oga, believed to ward off disaster in the coming year, which sounds pretty nice right? However, once that is done the demons visit every household in the village where they berate the women and children and then threaten to kidnap them. The family offer the Namahage some sake and do their best to convince them not to take anyone away this year. This usually does the trick.

music-Holly Ivy

5. Christmas Music
A hallmark of Christmas is the music of the season. We are all too familiar with the thematic elements of the overly cute, romantic, sentimental and of course, sacred songs of the holiday season.

When you think about it, it isn’t terribly difficult to find curiously macabre songs and carols among the pack. After all, even by Christian standards, this is the celebration of a figure who has always been linked to death.

The Holly and the Ivy
One of the most popular Christmas songs, The Holly and the Ivy may be burdened with the stamp of Christianity, but still manages to maintain its pagan fertility imagery – so obvious, there is no need to explain. It’s Christmas Sexy-Time!

Oh, the rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.
The holly bears a blossom as white as lily flower…

We Three Kings
Another popular Christmas song we all know, that little kids sing at school, and frequently plays over the speakers at the grocery store.

Myrrh is mine: Its bitter perfume
Breaths a life of gathering gloom.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.

Bethlehem Down
Composer Peter Warlock was experiencing financial difficulties. He had recently befriended poet and party boy Bruce Blunt. The first account of their mutual company was from a press report detailing their arrests for being “drunk and disorderly.” Lack of funds to fuel their party life prompted their collaboration on Bethlehem Down, which, in turn, won them the Daily Telegraph’s annual Christmas carol writing contest. The prize money funded an “immoral carouse” on Christmas Eve in 1927.

When he is King they will clothe him in grave-sheets,
Myrrh for embalming, and wood for a crown,
He that lies now in the white arms of Mary,
Sleeping so lightly on Bethlehem Down.

The Coventry Carol
You may not recognize it from the name, but you know it. This carol was originally contained within a mystery play, retelling the story of Christmas. This song is sung by the mothers of the little boys under the age of two, who are destined to be brutally murdered by King Herod’s men. In the last lines, they say goodbye to their children. A truly haunting and heartbreaking piece.

witches vintage photograph of Perchta and her Perchten
vintage photograph of Perchta and her Perchten

6. Witches
In many parts of Europe, witches are a common and popular figure of the Christmas season. Prior to the Christian church taking over January 6th as Epiphany or Three Kings night, this was the holy night of Berchta, goddess of winter, witchcraft and animals.

Many countries have adapted Berchta to their own cultures and she goes by many different names and personas, from the kindly La Befana who leaves Italian children small gifts, to the sinister Perchta who punishes the idle and greedy by ripping out their intestines and replacing them with straw, rocks, and garbage.

food photograph by William Mortenson
photograph by William Mortenson

7. Food
By now it should be no surprise that many of our traditional Christmas foods are also attached to some dark folklore. For example, fat from the Christmas Goose would be left outside as an offering for witches who would use it to make flying ointment.

For me and many other Latinx’s, holiday season equals, tamale, pozole, and ponche season. Pozole is a soup that has been around for centuries, originating in Mexico prior to colonization. It was a common dish, made with a combination of herbs, peppers, corn and meat. When the pozole was served in conjunction with festival days, or as a part of sacred rituals, the meat in some cases was from the bodies of those who were sacrificed.
Nowadays we use pork and chicken, but making pozole is another way our traditions link us to our family, culture, ancestors, and the dead.

Grave candles in Helsinki 2004. Photo Darren Webb
Grave candles in Helsinki 2004. Photo Darren Webb

8. Visits From the Dead
As I mentioned previously, this is a time when the veil between the world of the living and the dead thins. Many different cultures welcome their ancestors with gifts of food, or even save them a place at the table.

On Christmas Eve in Finland families all journey to the cemetery to visit the graves of their loved ones and light candles. An area is set aside for visitors who do not have family interred locally. Here, they are invited to light a candle for their own loved ones who have passed on. The scene is reverent and magical.

Hyori’s Bed & Breakfast, Season 2

9. Gifting aka Treating Yourself
Not only do you deserve it, you probably need it. Holidays are hard and always cause some measure of stress – family, loss, changes, and a new year bring on all sorts of anxiety.

Do things that nourish and delight. Lavish yourself with love and care and gifts. Mind you, a gift doesn’t have to be a thing you spend money on – it can be time (which, imo, is the most valuable thing). These, compounded by living in a society that is suffering from feelings of loneliness and isolation, we are desperate to find connection and meaning in our lives and with each other.

Here are three of my essentials right now:

Teamotions Tea is not only delicious, using adaptogens to provide much needed emotional support. Created by a bereaved mother and her sister to help provide support through almost unbearable grief, their Have Hope blend will help you in the worst of times. My favorite, Seek Peace is a coconut chai that helps to “release pent-up emotions, especially anger and frustration.”

Yes! Liberation is an elixir for “healing, strength, protection and support in the face of racism, neocolonialism and oppression. Heals our broken hearts and helps us recover from trauma.” For most of us, this year has been rough. I started using this in September, and for the first time this year I felt like I could actually breathe.

Hyori’s Bed & Breakfast, Season 2 this Korean reality show, available to watch on Netflix, isn’t your normal U.S. reality TV fare full of tears, drama, and people being generally horrible to each other.

The series, which follows a celebrity Korean couple that reside on magical Jeju Island, who, (with their many adorable rescued pets), open their home to guests for the winter.

Watching this show is like a soothing balm as it leads viewers through every day tasks of cooking and cleaning, mixed with fun outings like sledding, and exploring the island. The hosts meet interesting people, have meaningful and hilarious conversations, and you get to see the delightful, healthy relationship between the celebrity hosts. This show so pure, and it just makes me happy.

Rituals- Alphonse Mucha, Christmas in America
Alphonse Mucha, Christmas in America

10. Creating Meaningful Rituals
Ritual is what elevates an ordinary event to a special one. It forges connection to culture, nature, community, and those we love.

During this time of year we are often burdened with doing things because of “tradition,” and these are so often traditions that fail to evoke joy or meaning to us as individuals. I want to encourage you to let go of what does not serve you, and to create rituals imbued with intention and meaning unique to you. Honor yourself, and the dead – there’s your New Year’s resolution. Blessings on your way.

Find Sarah Chavez: twitter // instagram

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spooky vegan feature

November’s Ten Things is brought to us by Sarah E. Jahier (another Sarah Elizabeth, just like me!) of The Spooky Vegan, where she shares vegan eats and treats, her love of horror, Halloween, and all things spooky! I’ve been following her blog for many years now and I always love peeking in on her scary movie reviews, her thoughts on the newest and tastiest vegan snacks, and the fun and fascinating glimpses of her lovely home!

Today, Sarah shares with us 10 things that are getting her through the post-Halloween blues (an issue that I know many of us can relate to and will be dealing with for the next 353 days!)
Read more below!

1 Cozy clothes lularoe leggings1. Cozy clothes – After all the excitement and events of the Halloween season, all I want to do in November is curl up on the couch in some cozy clothes. I have a drawer full of Halloween socks and love wearing them as soon as the weather gets cool enough (current faves are my “Everyday is Halloween” socks by Cavity Colors.) A slouchy sweatshirt or one of my well-loved oversized t-shirts and some soft Halloween leggings (I love the super-soft ones by LuLaRoe) round out my lazy, couch-ready look.

2 Autumn perfumes seance perfumes2. Autumn perfumes – I love evoking the feeling of fall with the perfumes I wear. Right now I’m favoring Séance Perfumes’  All Hallows’ Eve scent (it was a limited Halloween 2018 release, along with the candle and room spray shown in the photo above, and unfortunately it is no longer available) as well as Bath Sabbath’s November Coming Fire, which smells like burning autumn leaves, and Hexcider, which smells like caramel apples.

3 Thanksgiving food - vegan pumpkin pie at Whole Foods3. Thanksgiving food – Mmmmm, give me all the vegan roasts, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pies this time of year! I have been looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday, where I cook up an all-vegan feast before binging on horror movies. This year I picked up a turkey-less roast from Trader Joe’s, lots of cranberry sauce, peas, sweet potatoes, and plan on roasting veggies and making mashed potatoes, along with a few other sides for Mister Spooky and myself. I’ll probably pick up a pre-made vegan pumpkin pie from Whole Foods, along with some So Delicious Coco Whip to top it with!

4 hello fall4. Longer nights and cooler temperatures – I adore this time of year when darkness creeps in earlier and earlier every day. For some reason longer nights make me feel cozier and much more comfortable. I think it helps that it getting darker sooner also means that the temperatures are starting to cool off which makes it finally feel like fall here in Southern California.

5 Shudder5. Shudder – I finally signed up for this horror streaming service (think Netflix, if it was just horror movies/series) a few months back, and its extensive selection of horror movies, series, and specials has been getting me through this November. I’m currently re-watching Channel Zero (such a good, underrated series) and recently enjoyed the Shudder-exclusive Terrified, which is an Argentinian horror film that was a total mindfuck!

6 Black Moon Cosmetics highlighters and lipsticks6. Black Moon Cosmetics Liquid to Matte Lipsticks – I adore all the products I’ve tried from Black Moon Cosmetics (they also have some divine highlighters, a few shown in the photo above), but my favorite product from them is their liquid to matte lipsticks. These lipsticks are the only ones I have found that work with my skin color, have real staying power, are comfortable to wear, come in stunningly unique colors, and are cruelty-free and vegan. My favorite for autumn has been their Eternal shade, which is a blackened rose gold and reminds me of the golden glow of fall.

7 Califia Farms Peppermint Mocha Cold Brew7. Califia Farms’ Peppermint Mocha Cold Brew – The rest of the year I only drink black coffee, but something happens to me during the holidays (gasp – is it holiday spirit?!) and I am all about festive flavors! I am usually more of a pumpkin spice fiend, but this dairy-free Peppermint Mocha Cold Brew from Califia Farms is becoming my fave!

8 A to Z Candles Halloween collection8. Candles and incense – I am obsessed with the fall-scented candles from A to Z Candles. I loved their unique Halloween collection (shown above), but recently I have been burning their Apple Cider Donuts and Caramel Apple candles, which are both incredible at evoking autumn scents. The company is woman-owned and operated, and their candles burn clean and long and fill my home with their spectacular scents. I also love Cellar Door Bath Supply Co.’s  candles (Lavender Pumpkin is a favorite) and Burke and Hare Co.’s candles (their whole goth line is incredible). When I’m not burning candles, I’m burning Bloodbath Products’ incense – my fave scent from this company is Absinthe and Sugar, which reminds me of Dia de Los Muertos altars and sugar skulls.

WIC9. Horror Podcasts – I love listening to podcasts year-round, but my post-Halloween blues have been soothed by some of my favorite horror podcasts. Mind you, I’m not talking about the ones that tell spooky stories, though I love those, too, but rather podcasts that cover current news in the genre along with discussions, interviews, and film reviews. My favorite horror podcasts in this vein include Shock Waves, Women in Caskets , Nightmare on Film Street, Queens of the Damned, Sirens of Scream, and Boys and Ghouls, and Faculty of Horror. Female voices in horror are of utmost importance to me, and these are all co-hosted or entirely hosted by women horror fans.

10 Planning Next Years Halloween10. Planning next year’s Halloween season – I already am dreaming of next year’s Halloween festivities, which will include attending all my favorite Halloween/horror conventions, haunts and events here in Southern California, but I’m also hoping to squeeze in some travel, hopefully to the East Coast – my number one bucket list destination is Haunted Overload  in New Hampshire.

Find Sarah aka The Spooky Vegan: website  // instagram // facebook  // twitter

All photos in today’s post are the property of Sarah Jahier/The Spooky Vegan, with the exception of the Women In Caskets podcast image.

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Dark Autumn by Nelleke Pieters

October’s Ten Things is brought to us by Amanda Lynn of Ghoulish Delights Bath Shop. Amanda Lynn, a licensed Esthetician, blended her passions for skin care and horror in 2016 to create Ghoulish Delights Bath Shop, a venture melding science, nature and the macabre and which focuses on body and facial care with a dark twist. (Read more about Amanda in our Haute Macabre interview earlier this June!)

Today, Amanda shares with us her ten things she is loving for for fall. Read more below!

bonfire tea

  1. Tea

I joke that my life revolves around tea but it really does. There’s something therapeutic about it and I really get into it. Bitters, flavored sugars, elixirs, and whatever else I can find gets thrown into the mix. It’s my little sip of self care sitting patiently waiting for my tea to steep. I’m a huge fan of Adagio teas (they have killer autumn blends like Bonfire and Candy Apple). Adagio offers some of the best fandom teas created by others and their house blends are super tasty.  Why yes, I’d like t a tea inspired by Hobbits, please and thank you.


  1. Wool Socks

Hear me out! They are majestic in their scratchy thickness and I literally wait all year to bust out my precious Russian handmade socks with robins and deer on them. They’re big and floppy and everything you’d hate about normal socks but for some reason they turn magical once those leaves start turning.


  1. Eyeshadow

I barely wear makeup during the summer, so once it turns cool I feel energized and ready for some serious eyeshadow time. I’m currently loving the Rust Stack and The Gemini Palette by Melt Cosmetics and the Orb of Light Full Moon Palette by Black Moon Cosmetics. These have some of the best formulas around, plus they boast some serious fall color stories (which make my green eyes pop something fierce).

scary stories

  1. Scary Stories on YouTube

My mind goes 100 mph when I’m trying to sleep, so listening to scary stories via YouTube helps calm me down. I light candles, rev up the fake fireplace ,and hunker down to listen to collections that I randomly pick. Some are duds, some are nightmare inducing,  but I love the randomness of them. Bonus points if they have a video of thunderstorms playing while they narrate.

bbw candle

  1. Candles, all of them

I sadly admit I’m addicted to Bath and Body Work Candles. I can’t help myself. Give me all that pumpkin sweetness wafting into every crevice of my house (Pumpkin Pecan Waffles everything). I light candles daily but autumn makes me light up an additional 3 and saturate myself in pumpkin and dirt. My current favorites from small businesses are Sanctuary Candle Company’s Samhain, Witch City Wicks Sleepy Hollow, Laughing Crow Candle  Get Out  and Reel Life Candle Company Rick’s Garage.


  1. Local Farms

While I frequent my local farms all year, I get extra giddy when I see the corn fields being carved into mazes, acres of pumpkins, hot apple cider, and bumpy gourds. Being born and raised in Massachusetts, all of these things remind me of my childhood and make me feel both joyful and reminiscent. I look forward to these feelings every year and I’m always on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin or apple dumpling.


  1. Perfume

I adore perfume and wear it every day, but some of my favorite blends just smell better when the leaves are orange. I layer Foxcroft Fairgrounds and Cellar by Solstice Scents pretty regularly during October. I’ll douse myself with Vlad Dracul by Sixteen92, Vampire Vanilla Bat by Nocturne Alchemy or The Old Hag With A Golden Spinning Wheel by Blooddrop. [EDIT: Blooddrop has closed, but you can find the perfumer’s new venture at Astrid Perfume!]

steeped offerings

  1. Facial Steams

My first run in with a facial steamer was when I was a teenager and my mom bought me this contraption from Conair that made my nostrils burn when I inhaled. Since then I’ve dialed it down and opt for a big bowl, a kettle, dried flowers and a fluffy towel. Towards the end of September my skin goes sideways and gets dry and lackluster from all summer’s abuses. I grab my bowl of herbs and spend 15 minutes inhaling the fragrant steam in my makeshift towel dome.

Adam Burke

  1. Art

My art purchases always spike during autumn when artists are creating beautiful and dark pieces that have all my favorite colors; burnt oranges, mossy greens, flecks of yellow, blood red smears, and dark, earthy browns. One of my favorite recent purchases was from Adam Burke called “Emergence,” which is perfect autumn in my eyes.


  1. Horror Movie Parties

These evenings are some of my favorites as we gorge ourselves on horror-themed snacks while throwing our hands up as the protagonist trips yet again. It’s always fun to see what scares people and it’s such a great bonding experience. I love introducing people to new films and this is the perfect time to share the love of horror and tasty snacks. These evenings usually end with us playing horror VR games, screaming bloody murder, and high fiving each other for not tripping over the dog.  My watch lists usually include: The Possession, Scream, Young Frankenstein, The Exorcist, Wishing Stairs, Sinister, and Ju-on

Find Amanda Lynn and Ghoulish Delights: website // facebook // instagram

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I had so much fun with last months “What I Can’t Live Without” feature that I decided to do a monthly column spotlighting my favorite people and some of their favorite things! This month’s 10 Things list is shared by Nuri McBride, a lovely friend with whom I share many passions and common interests, and whose enthusiasm, insights, and support have bolstered me immensely in the past year, with regard to my creative projects.Nuri writes beautifully and extensively at her own blog Death/Scent, which explores the fascinating world of fragrance & funerals. She is also a Contributor at Death and the Maiden.

10 things Nuri books


I adore books (print, audio, and to a lesser extent, digital) and I could not live without them. Some of my most beloved authors are Neil Gaiman, Pablo Neruda, Umberto Eco, Michael Ondaatje and Margret Atwood. If I had to recommend a book from each it would be, in order, Anansi Boys, The Capitan’s Verses, The Name of the Rose, Anil’s Ghost, and a tie between The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace. [Bonus: I listen to Neil Gaiman read Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol every December while baking gingerbread men. I highly recommend it for a chill afternoon.]

10 things Nuri comics

Image Comics

A lot of people write off comics as juvenile and banal but there are amazing things going on both art and story wise in comics these days and nowhere more than at Image Comics. Who would have thought a publisher started by illustrators that founded a venue in which creators get to keep their copyrights would produce such diverse and interesting stuff? #sarcasm My favourite titles are Fatale, Pretty Deadly, Saga, The Wicked + The Divine, Sex Criminals, and Chew.

10 things Nuri perfume


I think Sarah and I bonded over our deep psychological need to smell like the Queen of Sheba. Picking one favourite out of my 300+ smell-babies would be impossible. However, I find myself reaching for Incense Avignon (Comme des Garcons), Incense Pure (Sonoma Scent Studio) Gypsy Water (Byredo) and Carnal Flower (Frederic Malle) the most these days.

10 things Nuri tapophile


I am a taphophile and I love to stroll in a good cemetery, it’s my happy place. You can learn a lot about a town and its people by visiting the local graveyard. Wherever I go in my travels there is always a day devoted to the nearby cemetery and I enjoy visiting the old and forgotten little pocket cemeteries of 20 or so graves that are tucked about my city. Some of my favourite places of rest in the world are Abney Park (London), Bonaventure Cemetery (Savannah), The Old Jewish Cemetery (Prague), South Park Street Cemetery (Kolkata) and the Cross Bones Graveyard (London)

10 things Nuri Avene

Avene Skincare

Skincare is super personal. My run-into-a-burning-house-to-save-it holy grail cream is Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream, but when Sarah Elizabeth tried it she hated it. I think 90% of skincare is knowing what your skin needs and giving it that and nothing more. As such I am not loyal to brands but to ingredients yet the one brand I use the most for both face and body is Avene. Avene is a French pharmacy brand hailed for its gentleness and sensitive skin preparations. Yes, I am one of those bougie women that spray their faces with Eau Thermale water and I swear by it for my last step in cleansing. I love their XeraCalm A.D Lipid Replenishing Cleansing Oil in the shower and follow it up with the Lipid-Replenishing Balm to keep my skin silky. Their Antirougeurs Mask is great if you find your face gets dry and inflamed. I use a touch of the Cicalfate Post-Procedure Cream on recovering skin from a cut or acne breakout to keep scaring at a minimum. I would also recommend their Mineral Mattifying Facial Sunscreen because it is SPF 50 and doesn’t break me out.

10 things Nuri podcast

Stories of Strange Women

Oh podcasts, they save me on long bus rides and when I’m out walking my dog and people want to talk to me. What would I do without them, be forced to speak with people! I’m a big fan of Oh No Ross & Carry, Sawbones, and Welcome to Night Vale but the podcast that I feel not enough people are listening to and they should be is Stories of Strange Women. As a strange woman myself it makes me happy to hear the Hurley Sisters, interviewing other weirdos about the circuitous paths and interesting lives they lead. I find it very inspiring.

10 things Nuri Critical Role

Critical Role

So, most people don’t know this about me but I’m a huge table top role-playing nerd. It’s a form of collective story-telling that both requires and develops advance social and communication skill like empathetic listening, conflict negotiation, and improvisation.  This idea that all D&D fans are shut-in young men with no social skills is nonsense. Sadly, getting my party in the same room on a weekly basis with jobs, partners, and babies is a tall order these days so I satisfy my craving for the theatre of the mind by watching Critical Role (available on YouTube, Twitch, Project Alpha, and as a Podcast). Critical Role is a show with professional voice actors being professional dorks. It’s my lunch date almost every day, and it makes me happy. I recommend starting with the second campaign.

10 things Nuri boardgames

Dark & Dreamy Cooperative Board Games

I believe firmly that Monopoly is the worst game in the world. Not only does it promote ruthless land speculation by the 1% it also has shitty game mechanics that will lead to players getting eliminated long before the game is done so only the person that wins really has any fun. Isn’t Capitalism a hoot kids? I much prefer cooperative games were the players must work together. These games make sure everyone has a good time right and you might actually learn something about your friends. If the game is artistic and a bit spooky even better. While not a true co-op game Dixit is a magical card game everyone should have. It requires you to think empathetically about how your other players would interpret dream-like images. Mysterium is like Clue and Dixit had a baby in a haunted house. Betrayal at House on the Hill starts off co-operative before one of the players is revealed as a defector and you all need to battle against them and their unclean legions. If you like games with a lot of chance, the dice rolling Elder Sign is a personal favourite as is its big bother (we are going to be here for 5 hours minimum) Arkham Horror, both set in the Cthulhu Mythos.

10 things Nuri eye gloss

Butter London Eye Gloss

When it comes to makeup I’m a cream kind of gal. Cream lipstick, cream blush, cream highlight. I don’t really use powder and maybe that’s why I’m so crap at doing my eye makeup. But I always look cute in Butter London Eye Glosses. They are pudding-like shadows that go on beautifully and blend out great with just your finger. Plus, they stay put and don’t feel sticky. I throw on some liner and mascara and I’m done. Spark and Oil Slick are my go-to shades.

10 things Nuri gdt

The Films of Guillermo Del Toro

There are some creative people that just make the world a better place, not because they dress it up in ribbons and bows but through their stories of monsters and devils they show us something of ourselves and make us better people. That’s how I feel about Guillermo Del Toro’s work. Unlike some other directors beloved for their fantasy settings that are all style and no substance, Del Toro is using fairy tales to process the trauma of war, the terror of patriarchal love and the inhumanity of institutions that turn men into monsters. I highly suggest watching the Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth back to back as they are set in the same world just a few years apart and are part of an eventual trilogy based about the unprocessed trauma of the Spanish Civil War. Crimson Peak and the Shape of Water feel like precious jewels to me. Also, I adored the novelisation of the Shape of Water which delved deeper into the characters and the themes of the movie. You should read it.

Find Nuri: blog // facebook // twitter // instagram

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Julius Bramanto, Market Maiden

I have a confession: I’m a little bit obsessed with celebrity shopping, and the things famous people purportedly “can’t live without”. Amongst other outlets which probably report on such crucial issues, NY Mag has a recurring column about this very thing, and from this I can find out what kind of stuff that notable individuals such as Salman Rushdie or Tituss Burgess or Rupaul love– from the luggage they travel with (and they all seem to have an opinion on luggage) to the superior $50 toothpaste they use, or even learn that they buy bulk Shirataki noodles (ew!) and Crystal Light (really??) and Glade plug-ins. Wow. I mean, what’s the point of even being rich if you are still buying Glade Plug-ins?

I remember thinking, when I was younger, that I wish someone would ask ME what I couldn’t live without. At the time it was this horrifyingly green, kiwi-flavored gloop from The Body Shop called “Born Lippy”, which apparently they still sort of sell, but at a deep discount; probably because it’s really gross and no one ever buys it anymore. It turns out that in the span of time since that initial musing, no one, ever, not even once, as asked me what I can’t live without. Can you believe it? Super rude, right? To be passed up for such a thing?

I decided I’m not waiting any longer, and I’ll share with you right now the ten things I love and can’t live without (in no particular order). Take that, NY Mag! One day you’ll be sorry that you overlooked this lady and her goldmine of interesting stuff!


1. My feet are always cold, so I’m perpetually on the hunt for super cute socks. Featured here are my current faves, some Totoro socks, found on Amazon.


2. Dermalogica Ultra Calming products. I know I’ve mentioned this several times before, but it’s taken a while to find something that (mostly) works for my skin, and works mostly consistently. Somewhere in my mid-30’s, my skin went from being slightly oily but mostly well-behaved to very sensitive, easily irritated, and red/inflamed and kind of a pain in the ass. I’ve found a few things over the years that seemed to work well…until they didn’t. The Dermalogica line is one I have been using for two years now and seems to do the best job that it can.


3. Vanity Fair high cut briefs. I have the occasional fancy bra & panty set, but for the most part, my unmentionables are not something I need to be bothered with. I want black, I want bulk quantities, and I want to reach into my underwear drawer in the dark and know that every time I am going to get exactly what I want. I also sometimes want to go twenty days without going laundry, so I buy A LOT of these things at once.


4. Punjammies from Sudara. I have a weird relationship with pajamas. I love the bottom portion, but the top portion feels like it’s trying too hard. Or maybe I feel like I’m trying too hard when I wear a full pajama set. I’m just not that person. I feel like pajama people probably use their planners religiously and are super serious about scrubbing their toliets. Nope, not me! I usually end up wearing pajama bottoms and a favorite, worn-in oversized tee to bed at night, and in a weird instance of actually being interested in a Facebook advertisement a few years ago, I learned of the sari pajama pants from Sudara, a company who has a really good story, and whose products I ended up loving so much that by now I have four or five pairs.


5. While I would not say I am candle-obsessed, I am certainly fragrance obsessed, and ever since moving away from my childhood home (which smelled like an unfortunate combination of cat-pee and cigarette smoke) I vowed I would always have living space that smelled nice. And the Baies candle from Diptyque is the nicest smelling candle I have ever had. “The scent of a bouquet of roses sweetened with black currant leaves” is how it is described, and it’s kinda weird, because I don’t typically like rose-scented items, but this is a fresh, ghostly rose, and if I could only have one candle for the rest of my life, this would be it.


Dracula and Rebecca

6. Dracula by Bram Stoker and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. There are few few books that I can read over and over and over again, but these two are definitely at the top of the list. The cover art shown here graces the copies I have on my shelf, though I am ashamed to say that the Dracula book I have also contains Frankenstein– and I have never read Frankenstein all the way through. I am especially sorry to admit this to those whom Frankenstein might be on your “I can read this book over and over” list.


7. Interesting jewelry. Ever since I was a small child, dressing up in my grandmother’s costume jewelry, shiny adornments were very important to me. I figured no matter how plain and boring you might feel in the faded Sanibel Island tourist tee shirt that your mother made you wear to school that day, the opal pendant you swiped from your Mawga’s jewel box and which secretly hung beneath the cheap cotton material made you feel glamorous and special, and very, very, pretty. I put it back, FYI. I felt awfully guilty about that. I have a roving eye when it comes to gems and treasures, but some of my favorite artisans are Flannery Grace Good, Chase & Scout, bloodmilk, and Arcana Obscura, and I am rarely without a trinket or talisman from at least one of these jewelers on my person.


8. Perfumes. I realize these itemizations are going slowly going from very specific product recommendations to more open-ended concepts, but as a further to no. 5 on this list, I well and truly could not live without perfumes and fragrances for reasons I have written about here and which I further discuss here. I am always trying new things and finding new scents to love, and here is a grouping of both recent favorites and long-time beloveds: The Holy Mountain by Apoteker Tepe (discontinued), Comme des Garçons ‘Series 3 Incense: Kyoto, Morocco from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, and Laveau from Seance perfumes (I know this is a photo of Dearly Departed, but it’s what I had to work with!)

bill safi

9. A black tee shirt. Or, well, several dozen, if you peek into my drawers. (I write more on this, here.) A black tee and jeans/skirt is my basic uniform, and if I am not wearing that I’m probably wearing a black tunic/dress and leggings. I especially love when my favorite artists produce wearable versions of their creations and I’m always quick to grab one. This tee from Bill Crisafi, however, was a gift that someone else grabbed for me. Thank you, BGF, you know me so well!


10. Honey Crisp apples. Wow, what a boring thing to talk about, right? But I was wracking my brains to think if there was anything I ate everyday, and food is a super important part of any list that I might be a part of, or putting together. And it’s true, I do eat an apple every day. I generally don’t care for fruit because I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Apples, for whatever reason, are the only fruits I can tolerate, and the honey crisp ones are my favorites. I eat them because I figure even if I’m making horrible nutritional choices the rest of the day, well, at least I ate an apple? Also, I read that apples are helpful for those who experience acid reflux, something about them being a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and it is thought that the alkalizing minerals may help relieve symptoms of acid reflux. Are you also a boring old broad who suffers from this affliction? Aside from medications (which is really a last resort for me in any situation), how do you remedy this?

Becky Munich

Bonus material! I asked my partner what he thought were some of the things I couldn’t live without, and his responses were so perfect. I guess he knows me pretty well.

  • Art . Aw, man, how could I forget that? Pictured above are some strange florals I just purchased from Becky Munich
  • Rainy, gloomy days.
  • Spooky stories. I told him I already listed Dracula and Rebecca, and he was like, “who’s Rebecca?” O_O
  • Popcorn. YES! This is my anti-apple treat. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • Polyvore (RIP). Or sites that let me play with fashion that I can’t afford. Right now it’s URSTYLE
  • Music. Right now it’s the Atomic Blonde soundtrack, and I’m sure he’s heard me singing aloud I Ran by A Flock Of Seagulls for weeks now

I’m thinking of making this a regular column and perhaps harassing some of my favorite people to tell me about their favorite things! What do you all think?