A Few Good Reads: Erica's Book Recommendations

November 26, 2017



Who doesn't love curling up to a good book? I am a reader, always have been.  I've always been an inquisitive person, in school, at work, in life.  I am hungry for information and history.  I want to understand the "why".  Books have allowed me the luxury of the "why".  Books allow for the full range of human emotion and authors are our unsung heroes in a world that idolizes celebrities, but I digress.  I read a full range of books from novels to historical pieces.  If you follow me on instagram you know that I have been putting my local library to task.  Where I was once a book buyer, I am now a book borrower.  It saves, money, space AND a due date keeps me accountable (I never want to return a book unfinished, it bothers me, I. Just.Cant.)  I am always looking for a good recommendation and in that spirit I have rounded up a few of my latest reads.

1. A Beautiful, Terrible Thing: A Memoir of Marriage and Betrayal by Jen Waite

I read this book in a little over a day, it was THAT good.  As the title suggests this is the memoir of a woman who shortly after giving birth to her first child realizes that her marriage was nothing but a sham.  This was Jen's first book and she is currently pursuing a degree in psychology but I wouldn't be surprised if she gets behind a computer again and writes a follow up.  This book will leave you in nothing short of suspense and if you have ever been cheated on, a little heartbroken.  I found many parallels in Jen's memoir and my own experiences.

2) The End of Men by Karen Rinaldi

This one took me a little longer to get through.  I typically don't gravitate towards these types of books BUT I had just completed The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson and that book was INTENSE.  Don't get me wrong, my true passion lies in history but the hard reality of the past and realizing we aren't that far advanced even 50 years later can do a number on my mood.  Back to this book, it is about four girlfriends in their late 20's, early 30's balancing career, motherhood and marriage.  There are some interesting storylines, one that actually inspired a movie you may have heard about called Maggie's Plan.  In that movie the mistress of a married man actually GETS the man when his wife finds out and leaves him, along with their two kids and flies off to Paris destroying the carefree bubble their cheating left them in.  After a year, she realizes how incompatible they are and decides to come up with a plan to get him back with his ex. Juicy, right?

3) The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel by Nina George

Be still my beating heart..this book has everything. It has a super romantic story of unrequited love, friendship, parent/child relationships and it is set in Paris!  I mean need I say more?  This is Nina's first book and it left me totally in love and smiling hours after I finished it.  It is the story of an old recluse who never recovered from the loss of his true love many, many years ago.  But, did she really choose someone else or was this a total misunderstanding?  Ok, I won't say more.  Highly recommend you get your hands on this, read a little every night before bed. Thank me later.

4) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Ok, confession time. This is the first Charles Dickens book I have ever read.  I may or may not have read A Christmas Carol, but I feel if I had read it I would know with certainty because a Dickens book is just a treat!  Truly.  He loves the characters he creates, Pip is just a wonderful and heartwarming character in this story.  I am not done with this read yet, truth be told I have been watching a LOT of TV movies lately and I am not proud of it but I am not going to judge myself too harshly.  Shit happens.






Shop my look below.  


Thanks for reading loves. What are you currently reading? Any recommendations? Share the love down below. :) by LifeStyledbyErica

Cropped Sweater + Vince Camuto Booties

November 19, 2017


Hey guys, I am going to make this post short and sweet.  I have always been a creative person, I studied creative writing and literature as an undergrad with the hopes of becoming a writer.  I still haven't given up on that dream and for now this blog exercises my writing chops until I take that plunge.  This blog and my readers mean so much to me.   There isn't a lot I can control in my life and learning that has been my hardest lesson but having a creative outlet to pour my passion into has meant so much to me.  Now about this outfit.  I LOVE a leather skirt and this one has been on repeat for the last three years.  It is perfectly paired with a chunky sweater, crop top or with a tucked in blouse.  I've linked some comparable dupes for this look and included some booties that are super cute! Thanks for reading loves. πŸ’‹
 


How I Saved Money and Found Happiness

November 10, 2017

Hey loves! So in a blog post that went up in September, and since I am such a prolific writerπŸ˜’, I will link it here, I talked about creating a minimalist wardrobe.  Creating a versatile wardrobe that precludes you from spending money on fast fashion or buying pieces that don't really add value in creating  your overall style.  I may be aging myself here, but hey you don't age without learning a few things along the way, but style and fashion are two separate things.  Fashion is buying trendy pieces all year round and sometimes it adds to creating your "look" but often times, it doesn't.  These are pieces that you score at a relatively low price point, they work for a season and then they are cluttering your closet, your discard pile and your life.   You might have picked them up or out on a whim, you felt adventurous and avant garde and said "WHAT THE HELL?"


Style is a bit different, obviously we style fashion, duh.  But style is signature, its elevated, its simple and effortless. Think Audrey Hepburn, she IS watching you know!
You don't fret every morning or every night trying to decide "What to wear tomorrow?" Actually, the less you acquire the more creative you can be, crazy right?  Ok, well the point of this blog post is not to repeat my minimalist post its to update you on something else that results from thinking this way about your style, ready? YOU SAVE MONEY!!!


Now I will admit I am guilty of what I am now condemning.  I would spend a few hundred dollars a month on "wants" sometimes the impulse was a result of having a bad day and wanting to treat myself to something nice in order to feel better.  Waiting and tracking the delivery gave me such a high, but when I finally got it that feeling was fleeting and I needed another fix.  Sigh. It is an addiction, I can't say that I ever NEEDED any of the things that I purchased, I would visit the websites when I was bored or if I received an email from the company about some site wide sale.  They would get me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  But just like when you go for that second slice of chocolate cake, the joy and pleasure you got from the first bite is no longer there in that second slice and all you are left with is regret, a food belly and in the case of clothes..stuffing this new "get" into an already crowded closet. Not very rewarding after all.  So what to do?

Well, first I had to admit I had a problem, I also had to admit that it wasn't making me any happier, more stylish or creative as a blogger.  So what did I do?  I decided to cut cold turkey! In August, my son and I made a pact (its easier when you are being held accountable) we would not purchase a single item of clothing or shoes for an entire month! Four weeks, 31 days, NADA!  Do you know what happened?  Well I found a loophole and started to buy more makeup, lol.  Change is never a straight line, be patient.  Once I owned up to "why I NOW needed to get new lipstick and that 3rd highlighter" it became clear.  I was fooling myself and needed to fight the urge if I would ever be clean again.  So, thats just what I did.  If I were honest with myself I would quickly realize that I didn't need any makeup, I don't wear that much to begin with I was just looking for a fix.


Why was I so hell bent on spending my hard earned cash on useless STUFF?  Well my friends, turns out we have been conditioned from the time we watched our first cartoon on tv and were bombarded with 5 minutes of programming and ten minutes of commercials promoting toys we just KNEW we needed and told our parents we wanted!  Its called capitalism and what is most profitable now? Debt!  The more you use your credit cards on things you don't need the stronger the capitalist economy is, you, however will find yourself never able to get ahead of your bills.

Here is where you might ask, "So, Erica, if we have been conditioned from such a young age, what ever should we do?" Keep reading!


Ok, so here is what I have been doing ever since my "shopping ban" to ensure I have cash in the bank, a low and easy to pay credit card balance and still feel satisfied and stylish.

1) Thrift!  

I have talked about this at nauseam but thrifting is AMAZING for your style,  your wallet AND, bonus, the environment!  My go-to when I want to add a piece to my wardrobe that I saw a favorite blogger wear or a look in some magazine that I want to replicate is to check www.thredup.com.  First I carefully consider the purchase, I say Erica, how often will you wear this piece? How versatile is it?  Can it be styled for work?  Do you have a comparable piece in your wardrobe already?   If the answer is positive for all questions and the piece is available at a good price, I will purchase it.  There was an occasion when I thought I needed a red skirt, I had to add it to my wardrobe, had to have it!  The last question, "do you have a comparable piece in your wardrobe?" forced me to take inventory and turns out I already owned THREE red skirts!  All kinds too, I had a pleated, a pencil AND a mini.  I definitely did NOT need a fourth skirt and with that I styled look below with pieces I already owned.  Check them out and use my code to get $10 off your first purchase.



2) Find Alternatives to Consumerism

Shopping is easy and everywhere you turn.  With no effort at all, you can shop from the comfort of your home, in your jammies or even from your Instagram feed with companies like LiketoKnowIt or ShopStyleCollective.  You don't even need to get your credit card out for each purchase, it is literally two clicks away from being yours!  I get it, look I add these features on my own blog, I get it, I do.  I am not saying you should never buy yourself anything, thats irrational and not very practical for the average woman and the average life cycle of our clothes and shoes.  They aren't meant to last forever and you will need to replace a few items and add a few items in your lifetime, no doubt.  BUT, if shopping is your only pleasure and always your go-to, then that's when you need to diversify and seek alternatives.  I have been finding great pleasure in cooking!  I have channeled my super internet surfing skills for good, like searching for recipes to try. 😍  Guys, I am not even exaggerating when I tell you it has brought me profound pleasure.  I find myself enjoying learning about food, shopping for ingredients and finally preparing and serving the meals to my family.  (My boys don't really care whats in their plate or how creative it is, but my husband loves it!) It really is the best form of self care and love you can show to yourself and your loved ones.  This might not be for everyone, I get that, but won't you just give it a try?



Need a jump start?  Buy this book! It has changed everything for me.  Which brings me to my next point.















3) Cooking at home, means Leftovers for Lunch

Ok, so up until this point in the post I have not referred to this journey as a personal exploration into a purposeful/intentional life but that is what it is.  Shopping/consumerism is a distraction, its a quick fix to other things left unresolved.  I mentioned that I shopped when I was bored, or if I had a bad day etc., in both instances buying that blouse or those loafers never resolved the actual problem.  So here is the deal, when you step back and take inventory of your life, your habits etc a powerful (scary to some) thing happens, self-reflection.  In step 2, I talk about finding alternatives to shopping.  What do you want to spend your time doing? What would lead you to pleasure or happiness?  Think about your life, what are your triggers? What are moments, or times in your life where you remember being very happy?  Ok, I realize that the title of this step needs some explaining, here is my thought process.  I have found pleasure in spending my time and energy in cooking at home which results in leftovers for lunch and means I save A LOT of money (and calories) each week, but the title is also a metaphor. Bear with me.  When you take a moment out of your day to check in with yourself, other things happen.  You begin to work towards a more purposeful and fulfilling life as oppose to one on autopilot and filled with "things".  See, leftovers.  LOL

4) Never Stop Absorbing 

I am a very curious person, my questions lead to other questions which lead to more questions..you get the point here.  I do a lot of research and a ton of reading, it doesn't make me an expert in any one subject BUT it gives me a lot to think about, not to mention material for this blog post!  Have you ever heard of Robert Lustig? Ok, he is a Doctor of Pediatric Endocrinology, a Professor at the University of California and the author of a few books including, The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains  intense title, I know.  However, he makes a really strong argument, dare I say better than I have in this post? about consumerism, capitalism, marketing and all things that keep us sick and unhappy.  Not a beach read for sure, but I want to share his concept.  The Four C's needed for happiness, that marketing agencies and corporations don't want us knowing and they are: connect, contribute, cope and cook.  Read about it here.

I will admit I am a novice in my endeavors, but even in the short time that I have been tailoring this new lifestyle approach I have found it to be very rewarding and fulfilling. My looks/style has never been better, I have never felt this creative with my style and level of confidence, I have lost a few inches and gained a few extra hundred dollars in my bank account.  Not kidding, this last paycheck I had $650 leftover in cash AFTER I paid my bills.  That's money that would go towards paying down my credit card debt, that is bananas to me AND that, my friends, also makes me happy!

Thanks for reading!

by Erica πŸ’‹

Life Update: What's Been Happening

November 4, 2017

Hey guys, long time no talk.  The past few weeks have been difficult and challenging for me and my family.  First there was the Vegas mass shooting that kicked off an emotional roller coaster for all of the U.S.  The way those people were murdered, I just can't.  I weeped for two days for the loss of people I didn't know but could have easily called my friends.  Families devastated for no reason other than profit.  Assault rifles should not be sold or collected.  Period. Protection requires a handgun, maybe but an arsenal? No.  I took a mental health day and was just in a fog for the entire day.  I tried to focus on a good book, cooking a yummy meal but I felt the loss very deeply and what is worse is knowing that this won't be the last mass shooting.

A few days later I lost my grandmother.  She was an amazing woman who was greatly loved and respected.  When I was child, I witnessed my grandmother suffer through mental illness.  I remember being confused and scared but as I grew older and started my career in higher education I have been able to use the lessons and experience I had my whole life with my grandmother with my students who also struggle with mental illness.  The loss was great but my memories are proving to be greater.  I love you grandma. πŸ’—

As we were healing from our loss, my husband received a call about his youngest brother who lives in Atlanta with his wife and two young daughters.  He was in the hospital and recovering from emergency brain surgery.  My husband drove to Atlanta to be with his brother and the rest of his family for the next few days.  I wanted so badly to be there with them but it made more sense to stay home with the boys and Timmy since they had school and I had work.  It was a very hard time, so much was unknown.  I am happy to say that my brother-in-law is making great progress but the road ahead it long.  All of this has shaken me to the core.  I find myself afraid to be away from my husband.  I realize more and more how deeply in love we are and how all we have can be ripped from us at any moment.  I realize that this seems so grim and I am sorry.  I don't mean to be.  I only share this because its real life and I know we all struggle through loss and confusion.  I hope that sharing our story will bring you some comfort and also help to explain why I haven't blogged for over a month.


I have been trying to keep up with my Instagram account because I enjoy taking pictures and sharing tidbits of my life with you and I think its important to enjoy your life even when it seems hard or wrong to do.  I will also say that last month marked my 1 year blogger-anniversary.  It has been a year since I launched LifestyledbyErica!  CARAZY! I have learned a lot about myself through this process, its been fun to see it grow and I won't stop now.  I am re-committing myself to this venture and setting intentions with my (busy) husband by my side.  We are going to take advantage of the warm weather and get as many shots in as possible before the snow visits NY.  I also have intentions to diversify this blog so it reflects my interests and lifestyle as it pertains to cooking and reading since I am quickly becoming a passionate, amateur cook AND an avid reader (well Ive really always been,lol).  A few weeks ago I got my hands on a book,  French Women Don't Get Fat guys I am not even exaggerating I have been exploring food and cooking in a whole different way.  It has been decadent and delicious, it feels like a spoil fest BUT I have gone down in inches.  How you ask? Well read the book! No, it isn't a diet book, no it isn't about restriction..just READ IT!! When you do, tell me what you think!

The take-away folks is this, life is short, so short, too short to not find happiness and pleasure in your daily lives.  It isn't the expensive trips you take, its cuddling on the sofa with the person you love binging on a tv show.  It isn't the fancy brunch spots you find yourself in, its the delicious meal you plan and prepare at home for the ones you love.  It isn't the gifts you hope to get for Christmas, its the time, the kindness, the patience you show to the people you know and don't know yet.  Let's spread love like confetti! I hope Ive done my part for someone reading this. πŸ’ž




Outfit Deets: Guys, my husband treated me to a pair of jeans and I picked out these Levis 721 High Waisted gems. OMG game changer.  Seriously for the price point you have got to GET yourselves a pair!  I have linked these exact jeans here.  Insanely comfortable and I have got some curves, thank you very much :) they fit perfectly.  I feel like I could take over the world in these jeans.  I am wearing a size 8 because I like to move around and I don't like anything too tight around my waist.  Check em out!  The sweater: red is in! Red with puffy sleeves, sign me up! I picked this sweater up on forever21's website and I have linked it here.  I am wearing a size medium.

Thanks for sticking with me and of course thanks for reading!

Love Always,

Erica πŸ’‹


Fashion 101: How to Create a Minimalist Fall Wardrobe

September 21, 2017


"Less is more", truer words have never been spoken.  Let's face it, trendy and I have no qualms but minimalist style is sooo becoming my thang!  Maybe it was the trip to Paris, maybe it was my "No Shopping August Challenge", maybe it's having a son in college, maybe it's being sick of looking at my closet, feeling overwhelmed and like I have nothing to wear or maybe I am growing up a little and feel like I am enough, I am confident and don't need the frills to feel good enough.  Maybe its one of those or all of those but I have been shopping less and curated an almost fool proof fall style palette with things I already own and I thought you might want in on it.  Let's jump in, shall we?  


Blazers

I mean what can I say about a blazer that I haven't already said in this post?  They are awesome and literally finish every look you can imagine.  Dresses? Done. Jeans and a tee? Got you covered. Transitional piece to wear in place of a coat? Did we just become best friends?  The point is your wardrobe isn't complete without at least two blazers (thats going really minimalist there, I own at least 10 in all colors, shapes and sizes but I wear about 4 of them frequently).  White black, blue and tan, two, three or all four of these hues will get you through.  Feel like being adventurous?  Throw in a bright red blazer, you wouldn't believe how versatile that color can be especially through the fall and winter months.  
Jeans

Lord have mercy ladies does anyone struggle in the jeans department like I do??  Finding a pair that fit and stay fit (saggy butt anyone) is nearly impossible.  I am currently living in mom jeans these days, mom jeans come up a little high at the waist and skim the ankle.  This fit works really well for me since I have a mom "pooch" extra goodness in my tummy area that just never went away after I gave birth to my son 18 years ago! (Thanks Tyler, lol) High-waisted jeans celebrate the smaller part of your body, your waist and is forgiving in other areas, your tummy.  It isn't about seeking perfection, its about finding what works for you.  I picked up a pair from Zara and H&M, the price is affordable and the shape is long lasting.
Button Down Shirts 

You should have a few, I have three pictured here that are so versatile.  They look great paired with jeans, slacks, skirts over a dress, I mean, versatile.  A white cotton button down shirt is a MUST.  I can't begin to list all the ways you can wear this piece but I will say you can even take it on a beach vacation and wear it over a bath suit while you walk hand and hand with the person you love.  You will always feel chic and timeless in white cotton, you just will.  Don't argue with me! πŸ‘… The other two tops have a pattern which is visually interesting but it is still a very minimal pulled together classic design.  Stripes and polka dots, get your hands on them! The white cotton button down and the stripe blouse are both from H&M and the polka dot top is from Zara, which I got almost a year ago from Thredup, whats thredup? Do you want to save some money with a code?  Read more here.
T-Shirts 

Graphic tees are a bit trendy these last few years but that is because tees, graphic or not, is an American staple, am I right?  Fit, again is everything.  I am loving the feminine, politically charged tees like the #freethenipple tee pictured above.  Check out the hashtag to learn more about this movement, I could talk about it, but to keep with my less is more theme, I will leave it there.  The point is tees are being worn with everything, they are comfy, can be dressed up or dressed down, worn to work and on the weekend.  H&M has a great selection of basic tees that are loose, fitted, long sleeved, cap sleeved and tank top. Get. You. Some. Tees!
Shoes

This is a no brainer, minimalist style is all about chic, comfy, and the I-am-not-trying-to-pull-anything-off-but-of-course-I-am.  Loafers are a girls dream come true.  Now I will say I was a heels, all day everyday kind of girl especially at work.  Not these days, I have invested in a few fun but classic shoes that have literally been giving me life and add a little something special to my looks.







Scarves

Scarves are a chic and minimalist girl's best friend.  It is the easiest way to add a little bit of visual interest to an otherwise simple look.  Scarves also show your fashion chops.  I am telling you throw a gorgeous print scarf around your neck, a button down shirt, jeans, voila! Not only are you cool but you've got a little of the Parisian thing going on.  Timeless!

There are so many others tricks to this minimalist style I could share, for example hats, coats etc but this is the basic starter kit.  Of course you know there is more to you and life than your style.  I never want you to think that style is all that matters, cause it isn't.  Happiness, feeling grounded, having a sense of purpose, love, relationships all of those are important but self love is key.  You must care for your body from the inside out.  I believe that to my very core and I hope that is what I am imparting to you on my blog.  I had a lot of fun putting this together.  Let me know if you want a guide to a minimalist work wardrobe!



With love,

XOXO

By LifeStyledbyErica 

Going Away? Need a sitter for your pet? Read this!

September 10, 2017




A few weeks ago on Instagram I mentioned that my husband and I had a meet up with a potential dog sitter for Timmy that we connected with via rover.com.  A lot of you had questions about this process and I reached out to Rover and asked about a collaboration and they said yes!  (Great company to work with by the way, shout out to Peter!) Let's dive in.

I have great in-laws that help us out with our kids and Timmy, who they consider to be their third grandson, so when we plan trips, Timmy stays with grandma and grandpa.  Its perfect for us because Timmy is familiar with their home and its less traumatic for all of us! (I am referring to my husband and I).  Now my in-laws are retired and they travel A LOT.  We normally work around their schedule but as it happens last year we booked a trip at the same time they were traveling.  We tried to set up a sitter with another family member well in advanced but as it happens a little over a month before we were scheduled to board the plane, our sitter bailed.  I sent an S.O.S. on Facebook and after I had no takers I turned to good ole google to help me find someone!  I stumbled upon a site called dogvacay now rover.com .  At first I was skeptical, I mean yes we find so many solutions to our problems on the internet but a sitter for our Timmy in the vastness of the world wide web, no way!  Well we did!

Super Easy to Use 

Which comes first, the egg or the chicken?  So as soon as you entire the site, you can enter a search criteria for the dates you need a sitter and narrow done the available sitters using your zip code.  The site pulls up a list of near and available sitters.  It includes photos, brief description, rate and client testimonials and ratings.  All of this is accessible before you enter any information at all, which is a plus in an age of data collection.

Rover Understands the Dog Owner 

What I really love about this service is the "meet and greet" option before you book and commit any money to a sitter.  You are able, via the site, to set up an appointment to meet a sitter before you book a stay.  This gives you an opportunity to see how your furry friend feels around this person and also how you feel about this transaction.  After all, you are entrusting this person with the love and care of your best friend while you are out of town.  A bonus is to see the neighborhood the sitter lives in and even his or hers home.  Now this is important and different for each dog, but for example, Timmy is use to a very quiet environment and it is already traumatic for him to stay in a home he doesn't know, trying to account for the environment he is accustomed to is important.  I had a meet and greet with a lovely young lady who was a nursing student, she lived on the second floor of a five floor walk up.  That meant there was a lot of traffic passing by her door and the whole time Timmy and I visited he  was on super high alert, barking and circling around when someone was coming up the stairs.  She also lived by an elevated train with a nosey train passing by once every five minutes, another red flag for me and Timmy.   This may or may not be your concern but the service allows for this consideration and that is a plus.  Another thing to consider are the dog sitter's preferences, do's and dont's, for example, in our home Timmy sleeps on our bed, sofas anywhere he pleases really.  There is no reason to believe that your dog won't expect that same freedom at anyone else's home.  If those details aren't available on the sitter's profile, be sure to bring it up and see where they stand.

Cancelation Policy and Reservation Guarantee

Rover.com allows the dog sitters to set their own cancelation policies which is located in their account using flexible, moderate, and strict you can find what that means here.  This is important to consider, life happens and if something comes up and you need to cancel your reservation and get your money back you want to be able to do that.  It just so happens that was the case with the family vacation we took this past August.  We booked a sitter and then a friend offered to care for Timmy while we were gone.  We canceled the sitter a month before we were scheduled and received a 100% refund.  It was super easy and all done on the site.

Now, on the off chance that the sitter has to cancel a reservation (yikes) don't worry, again Rover has your back.  Check out their Reservation Guarantee here.

Creating an Account

This part is pretty self explanatory and it is important that you are as honest and upfront about what your dog's routine.  For example, I reached out to a potential sitter last year and my profile mentions that Timmy is walked an average of three to four times a day, that is more than average.  The sitter was in shock that Timmy was walked as often as he was and the bottom line for her was that she couldn't do that many walks and thats the point of the account and these meetings.  Not every sitter is a match to your particular dog's needs, knowing that upfront is key.  It saves time and energy.

What Happens Next  

After you meet the dog sitter of your dreams and confirm they are available and want to sit for you all you have to do is log on to Rover.com complete your account and book the stay!  Once you book and you board your plane, train or automobile you and your sitter can communicate via the site or exchange numbers so they can send you photos and updates on your pup.  Last year my husband and I were in Mexico and did not want to run up our cellphone bills, our sitter was nice enough to download WhatsApp and send us the cutest pictures of Timmy enjoying a walk, a treat and playing with his temporary adoptive family.  It was awesome!



Bottomline

I would use this site if I would ever need to book another sitter, if available, you can use your sitter more than once which is a plus.  I would also very highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in a similar dilemma.  BONUS!  I have a link that credits new accounts $25 that can be used on your first booking. Please click here  to reap those benefits and comment below if there are any questions you have that I didnt cover.


With love,

XOXO


by LifeStyledbyErica

Our Obsession with Perfection

August 5, 2017



Yesterday I had a regular dentist appointment for your run of the mill cleaning.  After I had my cleaning with the hygienist, the dentist (AKA salesman) entered the room.  Now we discussed one issue that I know I have to address and haven't because other things have taken precedent and if you have ever had any dental procedure done you know its costly and mostly never covered by insurance.  Now that being said, he pivoted and started discussing Invisalign as an option (another costly out of pocket expense) he said and I quote, "Your teeth are pretty straight but we can perfect your smile by fixing the top row." Now I will admit I do have some fang action going on but I never, ever hated that about my smile, I actually considered it one of the many things that make me me.  After our "consultation" I started thinking about how obsessed we are made to achieve perfection and what IS perfection anyway?  Is it looking like everyone else?  I thought of a scenario where everyone had the exact same, engineered teeth and I know its silly but how boring would that be??  Now listen I realize braces are necessary for many, many people.  My son had braces because he had a severe overbite, now thats different obviously and I am not casting judgment on people who pursue procedures that make sense for them.  I only question our reasons why?  Why should we all be "perfect", is it for happiness? For self-love? I challenge the idea that a nose job, straighter teeth, liposuction etc can lead to happiness and fulfillment.  I started thinking about social media and the pressure to post perfect, flawless, filtered-to-the-gawds photos idolizing thin bodies,  long wavy hair, heavy makeup and perfect locations and it makes me sad that we aren't allowed to love and value ourselves as we were made, flaws and all.  I am writing this because I have, of course, become victim of these same standards of perfection and it weighs so heavy on me some days.  I think as I become more public and share my life with you on the blog and Instagram I feel the pressure to look thin, unwrinkled, pressed, not a single fly away hair, no blemishes and I have analyzed the photos my husband has taken and started to critique them and think they didn't measure up to what I was seeing on the gram.  But when I found myself spinning down that rabbit hole I stopped and thought about the many years I have put into building my confidence and my self-love, it was a particular mission in my 20's, and I didn't want to undo all of that work because I wanted to pursue a passion project, this blog.  I mean my whole premise of creating this space was to promote self-love and self-care at any size, any age, any financial situation.  I want to inspire women and tell them they are perfect just the way they are.  I actually HATE putting on a "production" to shoot for the blog.  I have started to include on my gram me, everyday, without the extra effort of a blog shoot, you know living life!  It has been liberating.  I challenge this quest to be perfect!  Perfect, I challenge you to a duel! lol  



Where am I going with this?  I feel most beautiful when I am happy and being myself,  dressing the way I want to dress, no makeup, hair combed or not, ok this might not be coming out the right way.  My point is that accepting yourself is the best investment you can make.  Pursue a happy, healthy life that starts from within, meditate, work to quiet the negative voices in your head, surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you, who make you laugh and enjoy being alive.

READ. Read a lot.  It is important to feed your mind and imagination with perspectives and stories of lives not like your own.  Reading expands your world. I can't stress enough how important it is to read.

Eat to nourish your body not to fill an emotional void that only leads to more self hate.  So often we treat our bodies like garbage receptacles feeding it unhealthy crap that don't serve any purpose only an impulse.  Eating that way doesn't add value and only leads to lethargy, moodiness and unhappy thoughts.  Practice mindfulness when feeding your body.  Don't eat what is quick and easy.  Plan.  Have good options available in your home, at work and in your bag when you are on the go.
Sidenote: When I am in a terrible mood one of the first things I focus on is nutrition.  Picking food and preparing a meal that will give me energy, balance and make me feel happy because I have chosen to make good out of bad. 

Workout as an expression of love for your body.  Workout to see your body evolve and become stronger everyday, not to punish and abuse it.  Our bodies are amazing! I mean what we can do with our bodies is nothing short of a marvel.  It doesn't have to fit a mold, seriously.  Wrinkles, rolls, stretch marks all of it, work to change the recording in your mind that your body isn't enough, that it's ugly and unworthy of love and acceptance.  Work to build a relationship with your body.

Practice mindfulness, take moments throughout the day to process feelings, surroundings I mean REALLY be mindful of all that surrounds you and how it makes you feel.  That is a tough one for us.  We are on the go and so distracted.  There are sooo many distractions that keep us with a very shallow understanding of who we are and how we feel.  We are taught that if we look good on the outside then we will be happy.  Not true, our mind is way more complex than marketing campaigns lead us to believe. We rarely take the time to really dive deep, silence the voices, the endless to-do's, repeating conversations and interactions that make us unhappy, to measure where we are.

Put more effort into your relationships with others.  We are social beings, we were built to live among and connect with other humans.  That's the deal.  I think people and relationships give our lives purpose.  I believe when you are pursuing purpose and not perfection you will anchor yourself to the world and not to the superficiality of exterior concepts of societal beauty standards.

So, what did I say to this dentist who tried to appeal to my vanity and persuade me to invest in a "perfect smile"? No thank you kind sir, I actually really like my smile and only want to have healthy gums and healthy teeth.  Perfection is not my quest; happiness is. (Ok I didn't say that last part to the dentist, that would be weird) but I did say I don't want perfect teeth, I never have.

Adventures in Paris

August 4, 2017

Hi guys!  The hubby surprised me with a 5 day trip to Paris for my birthday(I know, right!).  While your mouth is hanging open by how incredibly romantic this gesture is I am going to dive right into our trip and hopefully offer you so lessons learned so you can plan your trip to Paris, so here we go.

1) Flight

We flew AirFrance on a non-stop flight out of JFK.  I highly recommend getting a later flight so you are in the sky at night, land in the a.m. and have the whole day ahead of you for exploring.

2) Lodging

We stayed at the Hotel Eiffel Blomet, located in the 15th district and as the name might suggest, it was a short ten minute walk from Eiffel Tower.  It is centrally located with just a 3 minute walk to the metro and around the corner from a bustling Parisian main street, lots cafes and shops.  We absolutely LOVED this hotel.  The staff was friendly, they had a great spa and our room had the cutest little balcony.  We never did get to enjoy a cup of coffee on said balcony but I digress.  Now, price, I didn't pay for this trip and I believe my husband booked it using trivagio, so it was a flight+accommodations bundle.  A standard room is about $120-$135 a night for a standard room, well worth the cost.


3) The Paris Pass

Ok, the hubby and I didn't plan this trip together and I found out two days before we flew out so there was really no time to plan what we wanted to do and see.  That being said I am going to jump in to what we decided on in Paris.  So there are a lot of different versions of these all-inclusive sightseeing packages and you can get a 1 day pass, 3 day, 5 day etc.  We were in Paris for 5 full days and we decided to purchase the 3-day Paris Pass, what that included was an unlimited metro card good for three days, a 2 day museum pass and a huge selection of attractions all for free with the flash of the card, a day on the hop-on, hop-off bus (you know the kind where you watch people living their everyday lives while you ride around on the top of this huge double decker bus snapping pictures and gawking at them like they were on display at a zoo?? lol). Oh, another plus, you can skip the line with your Paris Pass and that came in handy at places like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

Cost: This was pricey and given the time constraints I can't say for sure that it is a bargain it just depends.  You see if you are married to my husband you are going to conquer the day and see at least five attractions a day, at minimum πŸ˜•, this worked out to be a good deal for us. Ok, so now the cost, $382 for the two of us.


4) Tips on Eating

We did not have a bad meal, I repeat not a single bad meal! With that being said hindsight is 20/20 so our loss is your gain.  If you are trying to watch what you spend I would be mindful that the restaurants located closest to popular tourist attractions hike up their prices and that doesn't translate to a better meal just a bigger bill.  There are PLENTY of restaurant choices in Paris, PLENTY, so wander off the beaten path.  Try restaurants that are a little outside the attractions, get a belly full of yummy food and keep some of the euro for a espresso.


So, if we had to do it all over again here is what we would do differently:

Cluster attractions you want to see.  When you have a short amount of time and so much you want to do it is important to manage your time wisely.  Our first two days we were hopping all over Paris and wasting a lot of time on travel, we picked up on the waste on the third day and that helped a lot.  Not only in time but energy!  All of that walking did a number on my body and mood (don't say anything Michael, lol).



Figure out the Euro/ Dollar exchange rates. Now this is tough, I still don't fully grasp the concept but it wasn't uniformed across exchange agencies with varying service charges and fees.  We exchanged the first $200 at the airport (I know, it always costs more there but we had no choice) and got back $158 euro, another $200 at a Western Union by the Arc de Triomphe and got $168 euros, the best rate we received by far.  It pretty much stayed in that ballpark the rest of the trip.  We did, however, run into an exchange kiosk that tried to give us $138 euro for $200 by the National Opera House, we asked for a return of our american dollars and tried another place.  We did think about just using our credit cards instead of carrying cash, but thought that might cost us more and preferred having money in our hands, it helped us keep tabs of how much we were spending.


Paris is a beautiful city, I mean just wandering the streets of Paris can be a real treat, throw in all of the history, beautiful architecture, attractions, museums and culture and it can be a lot. Pace yourself! We were super ambitious the first day we landed, we walked for hours exploring the city and all it had to offer. I paid for that the first night and the second day, I was limping around with knee pain and had blisters, not pretty.  I guess what I would recommend is back to the first point, which is plan what you want to see.  We were overwhelmed with it all.



Traveling with a partner or friend or spouse can be tricky.  We each have our own ideas of what a vacation should be, some prefer a more leisurely approach, with stops at spots off the tourist path.  Others might want to have the real tourist experience and visit as many tourist traps as possible.  There is a middle road people! So my hubby, as I mentioned, is the energizer bunny, with endless amounts of energy and really a thirst and curiosity for life, something I really love about him.  The fun and good times never ends with him.  I mean, hello he threw a surprise birthday party and had me read a card that announced our trip to Paris!!!  Check out the announcment video here.  So here is the middle, I rallied and hopped all over Paris with my husband BUT when he wanted to climb the 400 steps to reach the bell tower of Notre Dame, I bowed out and patiently waited below.  He was able to check it off his bucket list and I was able to power up again with the down time.  My husband also went off our last day there to visit another attraction and allowed me to sleep in.  He was only gone a few hours but it meant the world to me, I was able to rest, write and just soak in the experience.  I needed that alone time and I am so grateful he gave it to me without a complaint.   Its all about compromise people, marriage, vacations..everything.




Here is the list of attractions we managed to sneak in on our 5 day trip:

Eiffel Tower (more than a few times)
Arc de Triomphe - you can climb up and my husband wanted to but we didn't get a chance to do it.
Wine Tour
Louvre
Picasso Museum - LOVED this place!
Notre Dame
Saint Chapelle
Montmarte
Bascilica Sacre Coeur
Avenue des Champs-Γ‰lysΓ©es
Pantheon
National Opera House by Charles Garnier- complete with an 1 1/2hr guided tour. It was AWESOME!
The City of Paris - it was a film house that only looped the history of the city.
Boat tour down the Seine River




Thanks for reading!  Want to see more? Check out my very first travel vlog below.



Don't forget to like and share if you want to see more like it.

Until the next post, with love,

LifeStyledbyErica





4 Pieces Every Working Woman Should Own this Summer

July 7, 2017


Summer is synonymous with flip flops, denim shorts and summer dresses.  Those are great staples if you don't work a 9-5 and spend your life by the pool or beach but what about the working girl?  I am rounding up my summer office staples to help you stay cool AND office appropriate this summer.

1) Summer Dresses

Pick breathable fabrics, cotton, linen, rayon, and silk.  All will help you get through the summer office months without overheating.

Length: Every industry is different so think about what "flys" in your office.  A rule of thumb in case you are stuck, never wear dresses to the office that hit you mid-thigh or higher.  The meatier part of your leg should be covered so stick with right above the knee or right below.  There are many exceptions to this rule, age being one of them but if you are a woman in your 30's in a professional setting: stick with right about the knee or right below.  Maxi dress? I am a bit of a stickler with this one.  I love a great a maxi dress, who doesn't? But not for the office.  Sorry I am not budging on that one.

Silhouette: You should always consider what works for your body type, shirt dresses, sheath, wrap and midi work best for me.  I try to stick to clean lines without creating too much volume to my bottom half.  Pleated can work it just depends on where it hits at the waist, too high and you loose your waist, too low and there is no definition just volume.  I prefer it hit right above my belly button and lays flat.

Sleeves or no sleeves: This is tough and again it depends with your comfort and your office culture.  Cap sleeves is a good compromised if your arms aren't your best feature or if sleeveless is taboo in your work place.



2) Blazers

If you follow me on Instagram then you know how much I love a good blazer!  I even broke down how to get the perfect fit in this post.  Fit IS key but again in the summer you want to invest in lighter fabrics and cooler colors, think white, blue, pinstripe family.  Here are a few options that will get you through the summer in style and comfort.



3) Pants

Again a light trouser with a tapered leg work best for the summer.  Why tapered?  Because you can easily wear with pumps, flats, or flip flops (save for your lunch break or end of the day) without worrying about ruining your hem.  Easily pair any of these pants with a tee or a blouse some accessories and done! Check out my picks! 


4) Skirts

I think its important to have at least 2-3 skirts in your office wardrobe. They are versatile, comfortable and can play double duty on the weekend. Length? Follow the guidelines I laid out above when I talked about dresses. You definitely DO NOT want to wear a skirt that hits you mid-thigh at work. Not cute. My go-to is a well-fit pencil skirt, well-fit doesn't mean second skin, there should be some give. If the fit is snug one way to balance the look is with a flowy blouse. Be bold when it comes to patterns and colors, you can easily tone it down with a solid color top. Here are a few of my picks.





Thanks for reading my loves! What are some of your favorite summer office pieces? Share below!


by LifeStyledbyErica ❤️

How to Stay Productive this Summer!

July 3, 2017

Hi guys! Hello Summer, bye bye will to do anything, right? Wrong!  I know the heat can be debilitating and make us want to lay in the ac and binge watch anything really, but it doesn't have to be that way.  I am laying out some tips to help keep you focused, on task AND still enjoy yourself.  Ready? Here we go:
1) Get an Early Start

Don't SNOOZE! This can be tough, or can it? The sun rises a lot earlier and I find its much easier to get out of bed when the sun is bright, the birds are chirping and the days are warmer.  It's also a lot easier to get dressed no longer having to worry about layers and layers of clothes, coats, boots, gloves and hats etc.  It's a dress, a pair of sandals and you are out the door. Amen!
2) Plan Your Day

When you are a parent with a full time job, a moonlighting gig (AKA this blog) and a full social schedule, feeling overwhelmed can become the norm.  The truth is it doesn't have to be that way.  I plan EVERYTHING! Seriously, EVERYTHING.  And I make sure to keep order in each part of my life so that one doesn't bleed into another.  For example, at work I have a lot thrown at me at any given time and not all need to be done immediately but some do.  Prioritization is key and one way to keep things in priority order is creating lists! I am a visual person so seeing, in black and white, what I need to do and when helps me conquer the work day.  The best part of a list? Scratching off an item you've just completed, seriously.

In terms of parenting, the truth is I have two teen boys, so they aren't as demanding of my time as they were when I was carting them around for baseball, football practice, play dates and summer camp.  My oldest is working as a lifeguard this summer and starting to have more of a social life that doesn't include his parents.  I check in to see what his day is looking like.  Sometimes he knows what he is doing for the whole week with minimal tweaks, its rare but it happens.πŸ˜€  My youngest is spending the summer at Fordham University in their STEM program starting July 5th.  It's full time Monday-Friday for the month of July and first week in August, so that's exciting.

My husband and I keep seperate calendars but we synch them at least once a week with parenting, professional, and social obligations.   And let us not forget downtime when we can spend quality time together.  There is always time for that!

Blogging calendar, this one we are trying to get into a groove.  It's tough when our weekends are booked or washed out to get a shoot done.  When we do shoot, we plan for 2-3 outfits and that helps keep us from shooting two or three times a week because it just wouldn't be possible.  We don't have that luxury or energy!
3) Take Time Off!

I work in higher ed, so it's go, go, go during the fall and spring semesters but in the summer not so much.  Sure there are things to do to prep for the upcoming fall semester and the new freshman class but with proper time budgeting I can do all my to-do's AND take some much needed time away.  I very rarely take any vacation time during the fall and spring so I have accumulated a lot of annual leave.  I am experimenting this year and working 8-1, Monday-Thursday (we have Fridays off in the summer) and charging my time instead of taking full days off.  Taking full days can be hard to recover from and just ruin my groove.  Instead, if it works for your particular industry, working half days and charging the time can make your workday more productive and impactful.  For me it has helped to keep me on track at work AND allowed for some play time in the city.  Its a win, win.  Now I am available to the office on my cell, but I work with a good group of people who can figure things out until I am back in the office 8am the next day.

4) Stay Hydrated

Ok, this seems a little common sense but nothing kills productivity and the drive to get stuff done than dehydration!  It's true and sometimes we neglect that very basic need to hydrated leading to lethargy and worse a stint in the ER.  So remain hydrated at all times, I sleep with a glass of water on my nightstand and it is the first thing I reach for in the morning when I wake (ok, sometimes the first thing I reach for is my cellphone, lol) but seriously get that water in you!  To stay hydrated during the day, I keep a water bottle in my office.  Whatever it takes, do it! Not only is it great for energy, its great for your skin, hair...everything.  Water is life.  

That's all I got!  What are some tips you can share about staying productive this summer? Share below.

About this romper, I snagged this beauty from Necessary Clothing and I LOVE it!  Word to the wise, rompers/jumpsuits can be dressed up or down but one thing you can never play with is the fit.  Fit is key with anything but especially with a one-piece.  I don't like tight clothing in general but certainly not in my jumpsuit.  I went a size up and got a large and it fit like a glove (only a little looser, lol).  I just like room to breathe and in the summer no one wants clothes that stick, that aint cute! See links to this jumper and few Ive got my eye on below.
Exact 

I see you!
Swoon
Wide-Leg
                                
Thanks for reading!

by LifeStyledbyErica πŸ’‹


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