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 💋

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! XOXO💋

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!  XOXO💋

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

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