when the goin’ gets tough

Sometimes when life gets insane it’s good to escape.  So that’s just what I did.  I took a little mental health holiday to my favorite windy city, Chicago.

Let me back up just a bit, before my mental health holiday my parents visited.  They come and I try to make everything appear to be running like a well-oiled machine.  It never lasts long, thankfully, because pretending is exhausting.  They know my routine. They see the piles in every corner of my house, the out of season clothes I stacked in the den back in August but still haven’t moved to storage, they call my cell and can’t get through because my mailbox is full, they smell the rotting artichokes hiding in the back of my refrigerator, and the boxes by the front door that never made it to Goodwill.  Basically they know I’m a nutcase and love me anyway.  Which is fantastic.  My dad pitched in, he came to the office one afternoon and washed dishes (we have a dishwasher, but he prefers to wash by hand).  As he washed he discussed a company picnic with Allison and Lauren and claimed that one day he’s going to be the Director of HR at Urban Grace Interiors.

There’s so much on my mind writing this post is paralyzing me.  I’m just going to clean out my camera roll and give you a little glimpse of the goings-on around here.

Let me say this though… do you have favorite people?  I do.  And most of my favorite people live in Chicago.  Chance escaped with me, something we haven’t done since before Sloaney was born.  It was a perfect weekend (aside from the fact that I woke up Saturday morning with my left eye swollen shut, which is why I’m wearing sunglasses in some of these pictures).

Oh and I threw in a couple of photos from a baby shower at Marla’s house a couple of weeks ago.  It was pretty and I love petit fores.



Alright, maybe a little bit of info would be nice.  I had the best dinner ever at Girl & the Goat with my dear friends Annie and Whitney (above).  We managed to miss the Bulls/Heat game that we had tickets to that night (oops), but sure did have fun hunting down a karaoke bar. Spent a lot of time at the Merchandise Mart.  Had breakfast with Chris and Katie at Frontera.  Katie is carrying my godson in her belly and I cannot wait for his arrival!!  I spent most of Saturday alone wandering through the Art Institute which was delightful.  The miniatures exhibit is still my favorite.  While I was there Dad and Chance hit the Museum of Science and Industry.  Breakfasted with Andy and Sarah at Southport Grocery.  Had dinner at Q and at Piece, and lunched at Joe’s.  Dined with Dad and Cousin at Portillos and managed to do so without ordering a piece of chocolate cake! Picked up a cute little something for Sloaney B at Zara.

In a nutshell I recharged my batteries… and now I’m gonna drain them again catching up.

It was totally worth it.



  1. Amen, sister!

  2. Portillos chopped salad and the Thorn Rooms – what could be better! We have to wait until summer, thanks for the glimpse!

  3. Looks like a lot of fun! Sometimes you just need a mental break & change of scenery. Even if you it is not really physically resting – it usually is mentally refreshing. Where are those wooden seats? I like :) Oh – and the food sounds amazing. I will have to get some recommendations if i ever go to chicago! ive never been before.

  4. ahhhhhh….must know more about the bertoia-esque chairs. Simply brilliant with the wood. Need these now! ;)

  5. Chicago and Cadbury mini eggs?! Sounds divine. The only thing more perfect would have been making that Bulls game!

  6. You look gorgeous and refreshed! I am still trying to salvage my pregnancy hair (loss and texture) and my baby girl is 20 months? how does your hair look like a a hair commercial…secrets PLEASE!

  7. Love those wooden seats…..and the Schumacer fabric too! My parents wash dishes by hand too, even though we have a dishwasher and they do too! Good for you on getting some R&R!

  8. A grown up getaway sounds faaaantastic!!

  9. I love both Chicago and mental health trips. I am currently on one myself! You are very deserving after your streak of mishaps earlier this year!

  10. Good for you for getting away!! Much deserved! Love reading your blog!! LOVE the top you are wearing in the baby shower pic(with the coral embroidery)!! Do you mind sharing where it is from…(after you have had time to catch up of course!!)

  11. ps. I would love to know where the top is from also! (whenever you get a second to catch up.) its perfect for this warm weather we are having!

  12. I love the photo of you and your dad. It is great! How nice for you to have such a great photo of both of you together.

  13. I love when you post so I’m glad to see you’re back! Where is your top from in the first picture?

  14. Why do I love your work sink so much, is that weird? Glad you had fun and ate your way through Chicago (that’s is really the point of a trip, right?).

    It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one with piles in every corner of my house. Piles make me crazy, but I can’t stop making piles. Such a spiral.

  15. I love your blog and I follow both you and your sister’s blog faithfully. I wanted to thank you for being so forthcoming in your post. I am overwhelmed this year so much so that I cannot even muster any energy to write posts, or do any of my crafts or hobbies. The stress is so paralyzing sometimes that I work, come home cook, clean and then pass out when I put my child to sleep. I try to keep my home tidy but having a three year old makes everything so hard. He is the best thing that God has blessed me with, I just wish He would give me the energy to deal with everything that comes with it. I don’t want to be depressing, I just want to thank you for being honest and not making me feel that I don’t have my things put together. Hope that you catch up with your things and I pray to God that March will be better – energy wise for both of us. Keep going on you are helping people whether you know it or not!

  16. I love your sunglasses! Who are the made by? and your plaid scarf!

  17. Kelly P says:

    OMG! I just about fell out of my chair when I read you went to Piece. Very jealous as I am stuck in Tucson with subpar pizza options here. My husband lived in Chicago while we were dating and I demanded a trip to Piece every time I visited. Forget the deep dish stuff – Piece is the best!

    Sounds like a great getaway. I adore Chicago!

  18. Allison says:

    i love love love the top you are wearing with the embroidered sleeves. please share where you found that. it is just darling!
    cute pic of you and your dad.

  19. I just spent one night away with my hubby this weekend. It was also the first time for us since we had our baby, 11 months ago! It was great! We all need a little break every now and again! Good for you.

  20. Was that THE Grant Wood, American Gothic????? Always one of my favorites!

  21. FUN! Chicago is a great city! Have you ever had an Ann Sather’s cinnamon roll? To die for!

  22. Congrats!! You needed that recharge. Love Chi-town!

  23. chicago is a GREAT city!! we moved from dothan, al to central indiana a couple of years ago. being a 4 hour drive or, even better, a 45 minute plane flight from chicago almost makes up for being a zillion hours away from the beach.


  24. Such a lovely recap post! I love me some Cadbury egss- and I also love me some art institute!

  25. so nice to read an update! i hope you eye is better!

  26. Cortney says:

    I live in Chicago and have been to all the places you visited :) Next time you’re in town you should try Sweet Mandy B’s cupcakes in Lincoln Park! The. Best. Ever.

  27. seriously love the ivory top w/ coral embroidery – please share where you got it!

  28. I hope you had a vanilla cupcake at the Southport Grocery! They have some of the best cupcakes in the city. I know vanilla doesn’t sound so exciting; but trust me, if you didn’t have one you need to next time you’re in town. And you can’t lose with a night of Karaoke at “Howl at the Moon”. I’m a Windy City gal that has been silently appreciating your blog for a couple of months now. Glad you had a good time in my favorite city!

  29. Sometimes it’s good just to get it all out. It’s good to keep up appearances, but in reality most of us don’t come close to keeping it all neat and tidy. Not me for sure! I went to Chicago for the fisrt time this summer and loved it. I wish I would have had your recommendations on what to see and do. Although, I was taking on the city with a one-year-old and 3 1/2-year-old, so nevermind.

  30. I visited Chicago last weekend as well. It was my first time there and I loved it. Had an amazing lunch at Hannah’s Bretzle (so cool) and dinner at Le Colonial. Took in Les Miserables, hit the Art Institute, and soaked up all of the great architecture. Fun city!

  31. Chicago is such a fantastic city, what a great place to recharge. Sounds like you had a blast. I hope you get caught up soon.

  32. Glad you had such a good break. I love those curtains above your sink in the office and which of those little jackets did you get for Sloane?

  33. Maybe time to get a cleaner or a PA to clear up the Goodwill stuff and just sort some stuff out? I had a ‘ahhhhhh’ day the other day, ended up writing a list the length of my leg and am systematically trying to go through it. Planning on taking a couple of half days at work to try and catch up. It’s incredible how much stuff there always is to do!

    I love the idea of escaping for the weekend. But I think I would just be worried about all the stuff that I still hadn’t done!

  34. Great minds think alike! I was doing the same thing about the same time- getting grounded in Chicago I called it. Love Piece and I have heard Girl and the Goat is amazing! I am lucky to have a sister and bro in law who seek out amazing restaurants all over the city and the burbs.
    On another note: it’s reassuring to hear other women who have the same piles around their house, especially other designers. Thanks for sharing.

  35. That Faucet is completely cool! I certainly feel your pain I’ve got goodwill stash by my front door and I need to hire a house cleaner. To releive stress take St.John’s Wart and grapefruit seed extract. Take it easy.

  36. This may come out backwards but….I am so glad to know that other designers have rotting artichokes in their fridge, small breakdowns and large piles of what not tucked (and not so tucked) away in corners.
    It’s a neat trick trying to balance a daughter, a busy design practice and a life. Cheers to you for being honest!

    I’m glad you love Chicago…I was born and raised and moved away at 30 to the South. I miss it so much at times that it makes my heart hurt. But I love Charlotte and my life/clients here.

    Hope you get a chance to breathe soon!

  37. Don’t be so hard on yourself. That’s the only advice I can try to give. Working and mothering is truly two full time jobs. I have three girls and I can attest to the piles to Goodwill, unmade beds sometimes, and artichokes left on the patio table on Thanksgiving. I actually forgot about them…they froze together in a bowl and I didn’t remember until the snow thawed one day in late December. Artichokes smell gross even when frozen and old. Good luck with the uncoming weeks. It will be okay. xo

  38. My family is in Chicago – such a great city! And such a fun post!

  39. i think I will print off that top part and give it to my husband so he doesn’t think I’m the only one with random piles and boxes laying around that I say “are on my list this week”-ha!

  40. You didn’t mention getting lost at the 59 train station or missing the 9:28 train:) I scrolled through hoping to find the picture of Rocky but no such luck. So sad we didn’t come to dinner with you all. I always laugh so much it’s my therapy. love you and miss you! XO

  41. I echo the others! I want to know about the top too!!

  42. Looks like fun! Q is a block away from my house :) Isn’t it so cute?

  43. Mental health escapes are SOOO important. Good for you for doing it! Handling life sometimes seems so unmanageable. Being a responsible and functioning adult takes so much energy and focus…aughh!
    I recently read this hilarious post (http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/2010/06/this-is-why-ill-never-be-adult.html) and it made me realize that everybody is just trying to keep it together and faking it. (Except maybe your parents?!) I found it very reassuring know we have company in trials like this. Plus, it made me smile

    Ps, I think you do great work AND you do it with a baby. Amazing!

  44. so happy you got to get away! The weirdest thing a couple of weeks ago and my eye was swollen shut, what was that!

  45. Love me some of that windy city, too! Thanks for sharing.

  46. i love your family, erika. and you know how to have a good time in chicago.

    i see someone else asked about the gorgeous wooden seats, so i now am going to scroll through the comments in search of an answer. :)

    sending happy thoughts your way ….

  47. As a Chicagoan who lives downtown…I was so happy to see some of my favorite places in this post. Glad you love Chicago as much as all of us who live here!

  48. Can you tell us about Marla’s chalkboard? How does she get it so clean in between uses and also does she just use regular chalk or chalk paint to write on it? Chicago is one of our favorite spots too. Thanks for sharing.

  49. This post makes me #1 want to eat a petit four and #2 add wood to my bertoia style barstools.

  50. Is that Christie Bortle Casilio in the shower pic? I grew up with her and have been reading your blog for years….such a small world! I love it!

  51. Brittany says:

    Where are your sunglasses from, or who makes them? I’ve been dying to find some that shape!

  52. great creativity, everything seems awesome.

Leave a Comment