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’‹

Latest Instagrams

© LifeStyledbyErica . Design by FCD.