february | read, reading, to read

Each month I love to share some of my reads. What can I say, I'm a book nerd and I fully embrace it.

- Behaving Badly by Isabel Wolff // super fun, light-hearted read. If you're heading to a beach, bring this along. (Also check out A Vintage Affair by Wolff)

- Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton // I've never read Momastery (not a Mom) but I love this book and her call for us to live authentically -- sharing the good and bad moments.

- Divergent by Veronica Roth // I just got this from the library. My friend told me that the first two books are incredible but that the last book in the trilogy is terrible. I'll start with this one ahead of the movie. :)

Check out my other book lists: January | OctoberAugust | May

Read any good books lately? I'm looking for some for my long, long, long plane ride to Africa!

xo, erika

p.s. do any of you use Goodreads.com to find books to read? I'm on there if you want to connect. :)


thoughts on fashion blogging

If you think about it for awhile, fashion blogging is an odd thing. Putting photos of yourself out there, on the Internet. It feels entirely foreign. It can feel self-obsessive.

But when I think about where we used to get style inspiration, fashion blogging seems like such a good thing. Style inspiration used to be primarily through magazine features that showcased perfect models in stylized, editorial shoots with big budgets and high-end clothing. The fashion blog is a democratizing of the fashion magazine. Rather than perfect models, it's real people. There's no big editorial shoot -- unless you call my friend taking photos of me at the local community center "a fashion shoot" -- and the budget is small, teeny-tiny, even, and the clothing, at least in many cases, is decided not high-end.

Sure, fashion blogging, like anything, can become narcissistic. It can become obsessive. But so many things in our life can turn that way. I do think a lot about how I fell into this weird thing of sharing what I wear. And I admit that I like the selfish parts of it; I like the compliments and little buzz of comments. But I also like to imagine that I am somehow inspiring someone -- that I'm showing them how a real person is wearing something. Maybe they'll see my post and be inspired to look in their closet and try something new or pull something out they haven't worn in ages. Maybe they'll feel encouraged to start their own blog, to share what they're wearing. These are "maybes" that I hope turn true.

On a similar note, I put together a video sharing where faith and fashion blogging can coincide and even co-exist beautifully over on the member portion of the Influence Network (you can find it under the videos tab). I'd love to hear what you thought and maybe what you think about fashion blogging in general. Love it? Hate it? Indifferent? I'd love to know.

xo, erika

sweater: target
necklace: modcloth (similar)
skirt: thrifted
shoes: seychelles


sometimes life (and my house) is messy

Growing up, my mom would occasionally make us do deep cleanings of our bedrooms-- like pulling everything out, donating stuff, dusting spots that never get attention -- kind of clean. I remember in the midst of the mess, pulling everything out and organizing, she would say: "It has to get messier before it gets cleaner."

True of my room growing up, true of life, too, and very true of my house right now. 

When we bought our little Seattle house four years ago, we knew that there would need to be (some day) major work to be done. Our house was built in 1942 and has original everything. That original everything -- especially the wiring and plumbing -- sometimes has made for some house adventures (read: lots of repairs.)

That some day of major work has come. It's an odd choice, perhaps, as I'm leaving for Africa (!!) in two weeks, my day job is busier than ever and I'm still trying to keep my head above water with other things.  But sometimes the right time to do something doesn't always have feel like the easiest time.

So our house is ripped apart-- we're spending weekends working on odd house jobs, and weekdays trying move our stuff from room to room to keep it out of the way of the electrician replacing the ancient wiring. I can barely get to my sewing machine and there was one point last week when we didn't have heat and we could barely get to our bed. Our living room is full of the boxes we once hid in our basement. The contents of closets can be found in our guest bedroom and on various chairs. There are several things I can't find right now. I'm sure they're beneath some ginormous pile, somewhere. 

But, hey, that's life, right? Literally so very messy. And as my husband points out to me, there is nothing I can do about this mess but just enter into it and work with it. It's a good metaphor for life, I've decided.

And on the bright side, look! Walls going up in our basement! And a shower! A small light to the end of the messiness.

xo, erika


gallery wall

One thing I've been wanting to do for a long time is make a gallery wall around my TV. I never loved how our TV just sat, the focus point in our living room, so I thought that by surrounding it with art would help it blend in.

There isn't a right way or wrong way to make a gallery wall-- I've always been told to collect the things you love. If you love them all, there will likely be a connection with them-- whether it's color or style.

I like what I've so far-- but like the rest of my house -- I feel like it will never be done -- it will always need further tweaking.

Last note -- yes, the empty frame. My husband picked up on this right away and told me I was super hip for doing this. I didn't want to tell him that the "empty frame" isn't a new idea -- in fact, it might not even be "cool" anymore.


1) to do justly, love mercy & walk humbly print (one of my favorite verses) -- french press mornings

2) I painted this. (a cocktail + a little bit of inhibition = not bad abstract art!)

3) vintage find

4) isn't life lovely? print from cute new printable shop End Quote Studio -- check it out!

5) adorable little creature illustrations from IKEA. (They're $3 for a set of 5!)

also -- curtain panels are also IKEA, flowers are from The Felt Flower Shop and the blanket & the chair are thrift store finds.


chili is for lovers

While some people give cookies or cake or chocolate for Valentine's Day, I honestly think chili is just as good -- or maybe an even better -- option for the one you love. 

And let me get this right out of the way -- this is not a chili for the faint of heart or the vegetarian -- this chili has bacon and steak and beer in it.

But if you make it for someone who loves steak and bacon and beer, you're guaranteed a good response.

the best chili ever
1 walla walla onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, diced
4 pieces of nitrate-free bacon
1 lb steak, diced
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 black pepper
1 can of beer -- preferably a lager
2 cans kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 tbs tomato paste
1 can diced tomato and the juice
2 cans green diced chilis
2 tsp hot sauce (I like tapatio)
1/2 cup water

In a big pot of medium heat, cook bacon.
Remove bacon and drain on paper towels.
Pour out half of the bacon grease.
Cook onion and garlic in remaining bacon grease (yes, this is key!)
Meanwhile, rub steak pieces with cumin, paprika and black pepper
Place steak in pot, cook each sides for a minute
Pour can of beer over steak and reduce heat to medium-low.
Cook steak and beer until beer is nearly all evaporated.
Add beans through water and bring to a boil.
Boil for a minute, then reduce heat to low and cook for at least an hour (the longer the better!)

I let the chili simmer nearly all day-- this ensures a really deep flavor.

To serve, crumble bacon on top and serve with other toppings -- cheese, peppers, avocado, and more!

xo, erika


finding outfit inspiration

I have some really great coworkers at the day job and many of them have great style-- (which may be surprising for a Seattle tech company.)

One of my coworkers wore a silky-ish summer dress (or skirt, maybe?) topped with a printed sweatshirt and tights. It sounds odd but I realized that I could recreate the exact outfit with what I had in my closet.

I love that; I love being able to mix and match items that I already own-- creating something new to wear, something different.

Speaking of something new -- I also recently chopped my hair to my shoulders, which ended up to be quite a drastic haircut (almost 5 inches off). I told my hair stylist that I wanted shorter hair but it could, by no means, be "Mom" hair. (No offense Mom, but your bangs and shoulder-length bob of the early '90s is not one I want to emulate.)

I love what she ended up doing. I love that my hair cut is messy and different. And I love how much less time it takes to dry after washing it. I was starting to leave the house with wet hair, which in winter is really not the best idea.

xo, erika

sweatshirt: hello merchandise
dress: bridesmaid dress from h&m 
tights: target
booties: Toms (snagged them on major sale!)


getaway to astoria

We don't always do fancy date nights-- to be honest (unforunately) our weeks usually end up too busy for that -- but what my husband and I are good at is making time for weekend getaways every so often. The concentrated time together -- to relax, to catch up and to just be with each other with no agenda -- is something that I believe every couple should try and make time for. We don't go anywhere super fancy or far away, but just somewhere away from our ordinary.

Our getaway was my husband's bid Christmas gift to me. This past weekend we drove the three and a half hours south to the coastal town of Astoria, OR. (The Goonies was filmed there.)

It doesn't snow that often in the Pacific Northwest-- just a handful of times a year-- but randomly this weekend was the exact time that a crazy storm blew into Oregon turning our beachside weekend into a snow weekend. Not exactly what we had planned, but it turned out to be exactly what we needed. And it was so stinking gorgeous out.

p.s. We drove a rental car provided by STI and to be honest -- I was worried. A Kia handling snow? Turns out the Kia Forte was a champ, and its heated seats kept me cozy the entire drive down. Not to mention its gas mileage-- averaging 35 miles per gallon-- was pretty great, too.

p.p.s. do you do regular date nights? or getaways? or anything?

xo, erika


ways to find balance

Let me just start out by saying honestly, I am probably one of the least qualified people to offer any sort of advice on finding balance in life. I can stand on my foot-- ha-- but that's about as balanced as I feel like my life gets. 

But, I am trying. I really am attempting to create a balance of work and life. I think through my struggles with it, I am learning a lot about what works for me. 

And I know I'm not the only one who struggles to keep all the plates spinning, while still having sort of healthy level of relaxation, hard work, exercise, etc, etc. We stay busy. We pride on ourselves on being busy-- and I'm saying this about me, more than anything. I admit that I can revel in the fact that I can be really unbalanced. That shouldn't be something to be proud of. 

So I'm working on it. Really. And here are a few things that I'm trying.

1. Learning that saying 'yes' now could mean 'no' later.
Turns out you can't do it all-- even the fun things. So saying "yes" to happy hour with dear friends, may mean that I have to turn down dinner later on. Or, committing to a business partnership with one company may mean that I should turn down a partnership with another. Sometimes I'll regret the no or the yes, but if it means that my life is a little more balanced, it is worth it. 

2. Breaks are necessary.
I talked about this last week, but sometimes you have to step away for a little bit. I don't know what you might need to step away from, but if you can manage it for even a half hour, it needs to happen so you can return refreshed.

3. You need people to say hard things. 
For me, this is my husband. He will tell me when I'm taking on too much-- when I'm creating for myself a world that is limited by my work and my own expectations. You need people in your life who are going to tell you when it's time to work harder, and when it's time to let go. Find these people and hold onto them and make them be brutally honest with you. 

4. Go easy on yourself. 
You're going to fail. You're going to feel too busy, too overwhelmed and you're going to feel completely unbalanced. That's ok. I'm there too. 

Do you have any tricks or tips to maintaining balance in your life? Please share them. I need help and I'm sure others would love to hear them, too. :)

xo, erika


recipe: peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (gluten free)

I've always been someone who operates with the belief that sweets are just going to be bad for you. They have to have two sticks of butter, 12 eggs, and more butter, to be delicious.  When I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner -- that should be healthy-- but if I am going to have dessert, I am going to indulge.

However, I have a friend who has had stomach issues for years, so she was trying out an elimination diet to get to root of it.  But it was her birthday and I desperately wanted to make her something sweet and delicious that would fit her current restrictions, so I made this gluten-free, dairy-free brownies. And despite my initial skepticism, they were delicious (like, go make them now kind of delicious). And, even better, they were easy and didn't have any weird additives. I could make them out of what I had on hand.

So I started thinking... maybe desserts could be slightly healthy...

I started playing around with tweaking some other recipes, and for the Super Bowl this past week, I decided to make peanut butter oatmeal cookies -- but in a similar way to the brownies. And this is what I came up with (and yes, we ate them all in the first quarter.)

I don't know if I could call them healthy but they don't even have one stick of butter in them.

peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (gluten, dairy free)
1 cup peanut butter
5 tbs maple syrup (or honey or brown sugar)
1/4 cup sugar-free, natural applesauce
2 tbs melted coconut oil
1 1/2 cups oats
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or, you could be really healthy and substitute dried fruit or nuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Blend peanut butter, maple syrup, applesauce and coconut oil with a mixer until fully blended.
Mix in applesauce and vanilla extract.

Stir in baking soda, oats, and chocolate chips.

Batter will be relatively thick.

Place on sprayed cooking sheet in spoon-sized drops (I use parchment paper because it means even less clean up!)

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes.

Eat them all.

xo, erika


everyone needs a sweatshirt dress

don't forget my sole hope instagram auction! Today at 6 p.m. pacific-- @shoperougeandwhimsy

The best thing about a sweatshirt dress? You only look like you're dressed up. In reality, you're wearing something that feels like a nightgown you had in 2nd grade. Pair it with fleece tights (another incredible invention) and you're practically wearing pajamas to work. But you don't look like you're wearing pajamas. This is why everyone needs a sweatshirt dress.

xo, erika

dress: Gap 
tights: Macys
socks: Urban Outfitters
boots: Franco Sarto couple years ago


sole hope auction

I am going to Uganda in March with the non-profit Sole Hope (learn about them here) and to fundraise part of my trip, I am hosting an epic -- (yes, I'm using that word) -- fundraiser on instragram.

I have been blessed to have friends who have incredible handmade businesses who are generously donating items to the cause. Even if you don't bid, take a moment to check out each of these ladies listed below -- I promise that they are all very talented!

there may be an item or two from my shop as well. :)

speaking of my shop-- my etsy shop is back open. use ILOVEFREE for free shipping all week.

see you Tuesday on instagram-- starting at 6 p.m. Pacific/ 9 p.m. Eastern on @shoprougeandwhimsy

xo, erika

p.s. want to donate directly to solehope? You can donate here to the wonderful work that they do -- and if you want to donate to my trip, specifically, just include my name when you donate.

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