2016 Reflections

December 28, 2016

2016 was a year of tremendous growth.  I completed a two-year accelerated graduate program.  For two years I woke up at 6:30AM every Saturday morning to be in school from 8AM-4PM after working the whole week.  I took classes and worked on group projects that challenged me and made me question my ability and drive to go on.  I was lucky to have some of the best classmates who pushed me to understand things about myself that I had never been forced to look at.  I spent countless nights after work and on Sundays at a Barnes and Noble or at my dining room table studying, writing papers, and preparing presentations.  I felt insecure, vulnerable and unworthy.  This is what grad school does.  The first semester was the worst of them, I was trying to orient myself to school while working a demanding full time job,  settling into being a new wife, purchasing and moving into a new home and doing my absolute best to support my teenage son who was coming undone.  I cried, I screamed, I rationalized dropping out dozens of times but my ego and my husband, who is a constant source of support for me, wouldn't let me.  I am so glad I pushed through those moments because it was in those moments that I grew in strength and realized just how much I could bend without breaking. I found a new level of comfort and acceptance of myself.  I am not perfect, I don't need to know everything, I don't have to always have it together, I can cry, I can question myself, I can be vulnerable, I can say "I don't know", I can get a B or a B- on a paper (lets not get to crazy! You have to maintain a 3.0 at all times!) and none of it changes who I am, all I've accomplished or all that I will.   The last piece of grad school is the capstone project, a "cap" that brings together all you have learned in the program, in the form of a very long "actionable" paper of your choice.  It was to be the longest most involved paper I ever had to write and there were moments of pure panic, "could I do it?, did I have the focus and writing chops to complete this monumental task?"  Well the answer is yes, I did!  It was hard and I questioned myself throughout the entire process but I got it done!  ("I am the king of the world" kind of moment, lol).

Similar Look

2016 also marked the second year of my marriage.  My husband and I have been together for almost six years and married for two and a half.  Our story is a magical one.  We met, we fell very deeply in love, we got married and gave our boys a family.  We have had our personal challenges, like grad school, parenting, a career change and we have made it through together and stronger.  My husband is quiet, patient, agreeable and my rock but the truth is he is so much more than that.  He is so wise, he knows so much more than he lets on.  He knows who he is and he is always ready to learn more about himself and the people he loves.  He gives me so much room to explore who I am and in moments where I have lost my way, with a few words and a warm hug, puts me right back on track.  He is the best human being I know, he accepts me with ALL of my flaws and reassures me that I am worthy of all the love this world has to offer.  He offers his unwavering protection and his detached availability at the same time.  The beauty of marriage is that it is the closest relationship you will ever have and if its a good one, it allows you to dive deep into who you are while providing the comfort of knowing that someone will be there when you return.  I once believed that when you were married there were no more insecurities, you've made the ultimate commitment and just like in the movies, the hardest part is over.  So not true!  The journey has just begun.  We are each others champions and biggest fans.  Together there is nothing in this world we can't accomplish.

Parenting..did I mention I have a 17 year old son? LOL Well I do!  This year has been a great one for us.  Parenting a teenager is a humbling experience, you have to switch gears from the "because I told you so" parent, to a "well lets talk through what you are thinking and feeling and try to get to the best decision together" parent.  If you are smart and pliable, you switch gears and become your child's loyal consultant and confidant.  You realize they are their own person and have thoughts and ideas about the world that sometimes don't match your own and that is OK.  You realize your job is to make sure they feel secure enough in your love to explore themselves and who they are becoming.  You support their interests even if it isn't something you are necessarily interested in.  You respect their privacy while leaving an open line of (non-judegemental) communication so they know they can talk to you if they need to.  My son and I are very close.  I cherish my time with him and look forward to all he will accomplish.  I learn from him every single day and I thank God for what he has brought to my life.  Did I mention just how proud I am to be his mommy? lol I am proud of him every single day.  

Ok guys I could obviously go on and on but I am going to stop there.  Let's just say I am happy living in this moment right now and looking forward to all 2017 will bring.

What are some of your reflections?  Take a moment to think of them and share below!

Thanks for reading!  xoxoxo ๐Ÿ’‹

by LifeStyledbyErica 

Hostess with the Most-ess Tips!

December 21, 2016

How gorgeous is this table my hubby set just for the shoot?!?! I mean...

Hosting for the holidays??  Don't fret, today I am sharing a few tips for hosting a great party (holiday or other)!  I have hosted my fair share of dinner parties, cocktail parties and house parties. Can I tell you, the pressure is on!  But let me let you in on a secret.  It doesn't matter if you have all the bells and whistles and your home looks like a Pier One showroom,  a great party starts with a great host.  If you are calm, relaxed and ready to have a good time, I promise you, your guests will have a great time!  Here are a few tips to reduce the stress and increase good party vibes:

1. Self Service Bar

Before your guests arrive get all your bar essentials out and easily accessible to your guests and this includes the ice!  You don't want to spend your evening going in and out of the kitchen to fill and refill drinks, when you should be spending time with your guests!

2. Buffet Style

This works for a cocktail party, prep and lay out all of h'orderves as your guests start arriving.  I do this in my dining room next to my bar but this works on a coffee table in the living room if you prefer.  The point of doing this is one, you aren't serving everyone from the kitchen and therefore you are actually mingling and enjoying your guests and two, this can set up an ice breaker for guests meeting for the first time.  What? You've never started a conversation with someone over a cheese platter?? :)

3. Introduce your guests and get the ball rolling.

Ok so a good host introduces her guests, a GREAT host breaks the ice.  Make the connection between your guests' common interests, whether they work in similar fields, or enjoy similar sports or music, or have children that are similar in age, start the conversation and then exist stage left.

4. Clean up AFTER your guests leave

I can't tell you how many times a hostess spent all her time in the kitchen cleaning and putting away dishes RIGHT after guests finished eating!  I mean it felt like my coat was just thrown in my lap and the front door was opened awaiting my exit, not cool!  I know it might be tempting to start the cleaning early but resist the temptation.  Your guests are there to spend some time with you, don't cheat them out of your company.  The mess isn't going anywhere, it will be there after your guests leave and in the morning too, just saying..

Now go out there and host the hell out of that party!

What are some of your hosting tips?  Share them in the comments below. And don't forget to click follow!

Thanks for reading! XOXO๐Ÿ’‹

By LifeStyledbyErica

Hi, here is the plate of napkins you asked for...

Holiday Look Idea Part Duex

December 19, 2016

Finally sharing this look Ive been teasing on the gram.  This is a fun, easy outfit you can pull together with some things you already own!  I pulled a comfy, oversized sweater over a cami-dress, threw on a pair of booties and a faux fur collar coat and I was literally out the door! This is a fun look for a holiday party or dinner that's 
comfy AND forgiving of those extra 5 holiday pounds we tend to gain this time of the year.  Oh, is that just me?? Well lucky you!  

Thanks for reading loves!

by LifeStyledbyErica 

White and Black Stripes

December 18, 2016

 Yesterday we had our first snow of the season!  I am not crazy about snow cause I tend to get my car stuck in it, or fall in it or get dirty in it but I know that it only makes me appreciate the warmer days that much more! Its all about give and take people.  Now lets talk about this outfit.  Winter is synonymous with layering.  Gotta get your layers on to stay warm on the colder days.  I am wearing H&M nearly from head to toe with the exception of the long striped shirt, which I picked up from Forever21 a few months ago.  See links below for similar style inspo.

I snagged this go-to, all purpose Kate Spade purse for 1/3 of its price! Wanna know how?? Have you ever heard of Thred-up , no? well get into it!  They buy and sell lightly used clothes, bags and shoes for AMAZING prices! Ive purchased two dresses, two pairs of shoes and this purse and I will tell you I have not been disappointed with their selection, quality, prices or packaging.  I am working on a post that will dive into my review but as you can see I have not one bad thing to say.  We have become a "throw-away" society with no regard to the planet, this site helps its customers make a difference.  Buy second hand, you won't regret it!

Thats it, thats all!  

Thanks for reading my loves!  XOXO๐Ÿ’‹

by LifeStyledbyErica 

Unconventional Gift Ideas

December 11, 2016

Hello again! How has December been treating you?  In case you didn't already know it, we have exactly 14 days until Christmas and if you are like me you are a last minute shopper (thoughtful, but super last minute).  Judgement free zone..!!  It is stressful, anxiety inducing and not to mention expensive.  I know other bloggers have listed "things" you can buy your loved ones, might I take a different approach?  How about instead of "things" you can buy, you gift experiences and shared time together?  What does that mean?  Instead of buying a scarf or a gadget to add to the pile of a million scarfs and gadgets we already have, you shop sites like Living Social or Groupon to gift 5 free yoga classes, or a trip to the salon for a blow out or color, or a massage session for your bestie?  You can gift your mother a mother/ daughter mani-pedi day instead of a blouse or a pajama set.  I mean don't we ALREADY have enough stuff that we don't really need?  Some of the best gifts my husband has ever given me has been time we spent together exploring something new.  For example, two birthdays ago he planned a trip to Longwood Gardens that included a night at a super adorable and romantic B&B.  We made some great memories exploring the Gardens together.  Those memories I hold close to my heart more than any coat or boots I ever drooled over.  

Give a gift of time, health and relaxation, those are thoughtful and priceless.  Below I am sharing some groupon links for gifts that your loved ones might really appreciate. I am also including a link to Birchbox, have you heard of them?  You can buy your loved one a monthly subscription and every month for just $10, they will get a care package with sample beauty products.  It is great for the fashionista in your life or the man in your life.  Best part of this idea?  Its the gift that keeps on giving, they will be reminded of your gift every month for a year (or as long as you'd like)!  Pretty cool, huh?

Groupon Blowout


Groupon Massage


Groupon Yoga




These links aren't permanent but there are ALWAYS groupons for blowouts, massages etc so you can treat yourself or your loved ones.  I realize as a blogger it would seem I am pushing consumerism and I guess in a way I am, however I am also providing ideas and inspiring creativity.  Think outside the box this year.  Material possessions we have in abundance and the older I get the more I realize that they don't bring me real happiness.  The beauty that I radiate is from within, its from the love I share with my friends and family, not from the outfit I rock or the shoes I obsess over.  This Christmas think about gift giving a little differently.  It should be a token of your appreciation to that special someone so be thoughtful and mindful.

What are some other ideas you can think of?  Share below!

Thanks for reading..XOXO

by LifeStyledByErica

Holiday look ideas

November 29, 2016

Hi guys! I realize that you are just getting over the Thanksgiving weekend but can I just tell you Christmas will be here before you know it!  Holidays mean parties with coworkers, friends and family. Which leads to the age old question, "what should I wear?"  Do not worry my love, I've got you covered. Today I am sharing a perfect look for a more formal holiday occasion.  It's sheer in all the right places and the crushed velvet screams HOLIDAYS, I LOVE YOU!  I purchased this gem on missguidedus.com but (spoiler alert) IT'S SOLD OUT! Sorry guys.  I have linked a mini version of this dress from asos.com and some other swoon worthy dresses to get you ready for any event in a flash!  Happy shopping!

Thanks for reading! XOXO ๐Ÿ’‹

by LifeStyledbyErica 

Special THANKSgiving

November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving loves!  I hope you are spending the day with people you love and care for.  I pride myself on being thankful for all I have especially when I am feeling blue.  Being able to take a moment when my mind is racing with something I didn't get or something that didn't go my way, brings me back to reality and is the key to my happiness.  I don't need a made up holiday like Thanksgiving to be thankful for all I have, but Im a sucker for themes so here it goes.  Top four things I am most thankful for:

1) My marriage

This is both our second marriage. We both were unhappy in our first marriages and were given an opportunity to learn from mistakes we made in those relationships.  Having that experience only enhances and makes us appreciate what we have with each other.  It's magical.  I will share an example with you, its personal but so is this blog so here we go.  Yesterday I was having one of those days.  You've had them before, you feel unhappy, unattractive, empty and alone.  Yes, I have those days!  Let me be clear I was at work and wasn't alone but I felt alone.  I came home to my boys, the hubby fixed me a cocktail, we had dinner and then we spent the rest of the evening cuddled in bed watching 90's movies and Friends re-runs.  We stayed up until 3am and can I tell you how "full" I feel today?  The connection I have with my husband is nothing short of magical.  I am thankful for his endless love, patience, support and understanding.

2) My boys

My husband and I both have children from our previous marriages so we are what you call a blended family.  My son is 17 and his son just turned 13.  I won't sugar coat it, raising someone else's child is not easy and we are all still learning.  We have, however, gotten a lot better.  My husband and I are very open about our feelings and insecurities and that helps us be better parents to our boys.  Our boys are different in many ways, but their differences compliment one another.  They are learning from one another and we are learning from them.  They are both kind, respectful and loving boys.  I am thankful to be blessed with not one but two wonderful boys!

3) My friends

My friends are some of the best people I know.  We share the good, the bad and the crazy and I wouldn't have it any other way.  They are smart, loving, passionate, funny and I am so lucky to share this life with them.  My friends have become my family and there is nothing I wouldn't do for them.  I am thankful that they remind me that I am worthy of love on those days that I can't see it for myself.

4) My dog Timmy

Honestly you guys if my husband told the story he would say that I wanted to return Timmy to the pound the first week we got him.  And this would be true!  We had all just moved in together, juggling a home, kids, their schedules, work and everything else the hubby and I do, it was ALOT.  Bringing a puppy into the home is almost like bringing a new baby home (I said almost).  It takes a lot of time, patience and time. lol None of which I possessed when we brought our little guy home.  I broke, I told my hubby it was too much and we should return him.  It was a moment of weakness and I am beyond grateful that the hubby was strong for all of us.  Timmy made us a family.  All of us had to chip in to train, tend and play with him.  He is the heart of our family.  He brightens any mood I am in.  He is always happy to see me, even when I've just gone to the store he welcomes me home like he hasn't seen me in weeks!  He watches movies with us, takes naps by my side and shares our meals.  The boys argue about who has to walk him and who walked him last and I wouldn't have it any other way.  That is family.  It is messy and sometimes contentious but the love we share carries us through. I am thankful for Timmy making four strangers a family.

My heart is so full of love, not just today but everyday.  I am thankful for all my life includes and I hope you feel the same way!  I wish you nothing but love and peace.

What are you thankful for?  Comment below!

Thanks for reading!  XOXO ๐Ÿ’‹

by LifeStyledbyErica

Long Blazer: Wardrobe Staple

November 23, 2016

Hi guys! Ok I made a video on Instagram with three ways to style this long blazer and now I am finally sharing the details with you here!  I found this long blazer on missguided.com three weeks ago and I've worn it so many times since.  It is probably the most versatile piece I have.  I mean blazers in general are a great investment, they complete any outfit.  You look polished, chic and stylish within seconds.  People collect purses, I collect blazers.  I am always on the hunt for the right cut and fit.  I got lucky with this one and guys...it was only $60!! I paired the blazer with black pants, a grey tank and my patent leather pumps.  Follow links below.  

Thank you for reading loves! XOXO

by LifeStyledbyErica 

Friday Casual Denim Look

November 18, 2016

Hi guys!  Can we just take a moment to appreciate that we made it through another week and given Friday as a reward??  Ok now that we have done that back to the post.  So let's talk a little about jeans, we all wear them, they are a go-to on weekends and casual Fridays but fit is EVERYTHING.  I don't like anything too tight, I prefer a casual fit with a boot cut.  I ordered these jeans online from H&M, they were like $25!  Don't sleep on H&M denim, they are affordable and comfy, my only recommendation is to order up a size.  I normally wear a 6 but opt for an 8 when its from H&M.  There is no shame in ordering up, I learned a long time ago not to chase a size and instead focus on the fit.  Come to think about it I also learned not to chase a number on the scale, feeling healthy and staying active has nothing to do with a number.  I finished off this look with this chic blazer, tee,  Anne Klein block heels and clutch .  Scroll down for links. 

Three cheers for the freakin weekend!

What I do every Friday morning when I get out of bed..I swear.

Thanks for reading!  What are your plans this weekend?  Comment below..

By LifeStyledbyErica ๐Ÿ’‹

Hair Products I'm loving!

November 14, 2016

Hi gorgeous!  I have a love/ hate relationship with my hair.  I love to see it long, shiny and healthy but I don't like to put in a lot of work.  The truth is some women have amazing hair without even trying, I am not one of those women.  I have done many things to my hair including coloring (Ive literally been all shades known to man and most not found in nature) a keratin treatment about two years ago and all sorts of leave ins and hair masks, homemade and other.  It left my hair dry, dull and damaged. But all of that is changing...

I've found the right combination of hair products that have been working for me and since sharing is caring I'd like to share with you what they are!   For the last six months I've been (religiously) taking Nature's Bounty Extra Strength Hair, Skin and Nails (pictured below) twice a day.  My hair takes forever to grow, true story but my hair has been growing like crazy. I didn't realize how much until I looked through some pictures on my Instagram Feed, thanks Nature's Bounty Extra Strength Hair, Skin and Nails, lol.  I picked up mine from Costco, but I think anything with Biotin works for hair growth.  Ive also replaced my shampoo and conditioner, I'm on week two of using CHI Keratin and I really like the results. I love the smell, but more than the smell, my hair feels manageable and has a healthy sheen.  It can be a little pricey, I think I paid $30 for the combo but it's worth the investment.  Trust me, I read lots of reviews before I hit "buy" on amazon.  So far, a great purchase.  The last "go-to" is my new Remington Pearl Digital Curling Wand!  I'm using the 1 1/2 inch barrel.  It's great for creating that tousled, beach wavy hair look.  I am challenged when it comes to styling my hair, but this wand is a no brainer AND it comes with a glove to prevent those burned fingertips.  SWEET. I've provided product links below!

What are some products you are using?  Comment below!

Thanks for reading! XOXO๐Ÿ’‹

By LifeStyledbyErica

Winter Whites

November 12, 2016

 Hi beautiful! This has been a tough week in more ways than one.  Of course the elephant in the room is Tuesday nights' Presidential Elections.  While the country was watching with bated breath who our next President was going to be, I had a stomach bug. OMG the pain and discomfort I felt that night was severe and it took the entire rest of the week to fully recover.  I am still in a bit of discomfort whenever I eat. I still can't figure if the "bug" was something I ate or just my nerves and anxiety taking a physical toll on me.  I have just a few words to say on the elections, we have a lot of learning and growing to do.  Listening to one another is a good place to start.  It can be difficult when you don't agree with what someone has to say, but not allowing a discussion just proves you are no better than the person you disagree with.  Words are powerful, don't underestimate your power.

Winter whites! This has got to be one of my favorite looks.  White and camel in the fall/winter months is such a chic look.  I paired a pair of skinny white pants from H&M with this white cashmere turtleneck sweater I scored from the Gap many years ago.  Finished the look with my favorite boxy camel coat from Forever21 and my go-to nude pumps I purchased via Shoemint.  Shoemint is another site similar to Shoedazzle which I explained in my Floral Print Dress Post except Shoemint has more wear to work friendly options, a bit more high end and classic.  Shoedazzle is all about the glitz and the glam, nothing wrong with that but a girl needs simple patent leather pump every once and a while.  I paid about $50 for these puppies and I wear them at least once a week, really a wardrobe staple! This whole look is under $100, minus the sweater, its an investment piece, Ive had my sweater for at least 8 years!  You can look like a million bucks without having to spend that much.  Check out the links below to see how you can shop for a similar look.  Keep, keep on, keeping on...

Thanks for reading loves! XOXO๐Ÿ’‹

By LifeStyledbyErica 

Pinks + Grays

November 7, 2016

Hi beautiful! Can you believe we are in November? I can't, I really can't!  I took this weekend "off" from the blog to spend some time with a good book (the gargantuian Power Broker) and a few of my old favorite movies.  I am a hopeless romantic who tends to watch the same movies over and over again.  I also gravitate to "junk" reality tv shows also about finding love like Catfish, 90 Day Fiancรฉ and Love at First Sight.  I can't help it, I believe in the power of love and wish for everyone to find it.   Maybe one day I will share with you all the bumps in my road before I stumbled upon the man that I would eventually marry, but thats for another day. ๐Ÿ˜‡

So lets get to this look! I love a pink/gray color palette, it is an unexpected compliment to a fall wardrobe and a welcomed alternative to the New York staple "head-to-toe black".  The skirt is a recent addition to my always hungry closet that I picked up from River Island.  Have you ever shopped there? They have awesome and affordable pieces, its worth a peek.  I finished the look with a comfy batwing turtleneck, my BCBG heels and clutch from H&M.  All links down below!  

Im a star...cause I slay, all day. We gonn slay.

Similar BCBG Pumps

Similar Oversized Beige Coat

River Island Skirt

Pink Clutch

Gray Turtleneck Sweater

Thanks for reading loves! XOXO๐Ÿ’‹ 
By LifeStyledbyErica 

Finding the Road to Forgiveness

November 3, 2016

Hi beautiful!  I openly admit it,  I am still in the process of understanding myself.  How I come to forgive someone is a big one for me.  I am not perfect, obviously, and I can admit that I sometimes hold people to unrealistic standards, especially if I love and care for them very much.  If they hurt me, it's difficult to find the road to forgiveness.  I eventually get there but it does take time.  Here are a few things I actively put into practice when I find myself struggling to forgive and move on.

1) Maintain Perspective

This is an easy one if you remain open minded.  Life happens.  People mess up.  You've messed up.  This "thing" that you are mulling over in your head is not life threatening, is it?  The answer is most definitely, no. Once you look at it through that lens, it shrinks and you soon realize it is something you can handle.

2) What is the Lesson?

I am a firm believer that every experience, every hardship, every thing really, is an opportunity to learn and grow.  Everything is shaping you into the person you are becoming and that is a good thing, when you maintain perspective (please see tip 1!).

3) Talk to a Trusted Friend

 Over the years Ive curated a group of trusted friends who have my very best interest at heart.  I will admit I have a small circle of friends, but that circle is EVERYTHING to me.  When I struggle to find a resolution that Ive gone over in my head, to the point of mental exhaustion and still can't figure it out, I know it's time to "consult an expert".

4) Let it Go

Too many times we hold on to these bad feelings as if it will change the situation when really what it is doing is rotting us from within.  Life is precious and we have too much to be grateful for to allow ANYTHING to have that much power over us.

Forgive the person. Forgive yourself.

I hope this helps.  I don't want to minimize feelings but the reality is forgiveness is more about you than the person who should be seeking forgiveness.  I remind myself of this every time I hit a wall.

What are some of your tips?  Please share below.

Thanks for reading.  XOXO๐Ÿ’‹

By LifeStyledbyErica

Floral Print Dress + Overcoat

October 31, 2016

Hi guys!  How is life treating you these days?  If you are anything like me, some days are better than others, right?  Well can I just share with you something I do to keep things in perspective when I find myself falling through the rabbit hole?  Gratitude. I take a minute to take stock of all of my blessings and 9 out of 10 times it has nothing to do with my material wealth.  Don't get me wrong I am grateful for my home and all the things I keep in my ever growing closet...but when I get down to the bare bones I am most grateful for my health, my family and the love we share with one another.  Thats it, that is the bare bones.  This weekend I found myself reflecting while taking a hot shower on a cold night  (something we don't even think about but others wish they had) and decided to sit my family down and remind them how fortunate we are and how much I love them.  My heart grew two sizes in that moment.  What are some of the things you are grateful for?

Ok, that was my reflection...I do that from time to time, now back to this look.  I am wearing this romantic floral print dress that is a great fall to winter transitional piece when paired with some high boots and a floor length overcoat.  You won't believe how much this overcoat cost, $60! Who says you have to spend $300 for a coat?  Not Forever21 and it is a solid, quality piece.

Ive owned these boots for years!  I think I brought them from Shoe Dazzle, its one of the older sites that provides you with a curated shoe selection based on a style test you take when you sign up.  I believe you are charged $40 a month which you can use towards a pair of shoes.  I find their heels are a little too high for a woman of my age...๐Ÿ‘€.  When I was younger I didn't respect my feet or comfort for that matter,  but you live and you learn.  Check them out, see if they tickle your fancy.

Thanks for reading my loves!  XOXO

by LifeStyledbyErica ๐Ÿ’‹

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