Masquerade Ball

Last weekend we were invited to a masquerade ball. We thought about buying masks at a party store but then we thought it would be fun to make our own.  We googled masquerade masks online and then headed out to Michael’s Arts and Crafts store. We ran around the store picking up supplies and very quickly an entire hour passed!

We brought our goodies home and started our construction. I covered my mask with a Tula Pink fabric: The Birds & the Bees Bees Knees Lapis.


Can I just say that I love Tula Pink’s designs?!

I added pearls, ribbons, and a peacock feather.


One of my favorite parts (that you can’t see in the picture) is we added wristlets to the bottom of the “sticks” so that our masks could dangle if we needed to free up our hands.

Jake’s mask had a much more masculine feel. I love the simplicity of his mask.


We actually didn’t even plan to color coordinate our masks, but I guess our creative juices were inline with each other!


And here we are…


We had a lot of fun designing our masks. Arts and crafts are fun. We are hoping we’ll get invited to another masquerade ball because we have a lot of ideas on how to make our next masks.

(if you look real closely you can see the beginning of my little baby bump….)

– erica

A baby quilt for Anika

I feel like I am always saying, “Marit is my most beautiful friend.” (My husband is cringing as he reads that sentance because of my poor grammar. I like to say things that don’t make sense like: “most beautiful”).

I remember the exact moment that I met Marit. It was at Match Day in 2006 at the University of Minnesota.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with medical training, you start off by doing four years of undergraduate college. Most people major in science or math (I studied Spanish).  Then you go to medical school for 4 years.  Are you done yet? Nope. Then you do a residency for a minimum of another 3 years.  Residency is the time when you are learning your speciality and working crazy, long shifts (think medical TV shows).

Match Day is one of those old medical school traditions, that seems absolutely crazy if you think about it too much. During the fourth year of medical school, each student submits a rank list of their choices for where they want to do their residency. And, each program also sumbits their own list. Then, a computer does some sort of algorthrithmic magic and spits out a giant “MATCH LIST” which decides where each medical school student will be spending the next 3+ years of their life doing their residency training. And, of course (I mean, why not?), when the computer does this magic, it turns into a binding contract that you have to honor.

Our school has a big party on Match Day and each person is called up to the podium to receive an envelope with their fate inside. Then we all open them up at the same time. It’s a bit nerve racking. I mean, what if the computer didn’t “match” you where you wanted to go… (binding contract, remember)?

So, back to Marit, I met her on Match Day in 2006. We found out we were both going to be spending the next three years at HCMC [Hennepin County Medical Center] doing our residencies in Internal Medicine. And I’m so glad. Thank you giant computer.

This picture is actually from our graduation party in 2009. Marit is on the left, I’m in the middle and Michelle (one of our staff) is on the right. Don’t we look happy?


These are some of the amazing, beautiful, smart, wonderful girls that were in my residency class with me. I could not have asked for a better bunch of girls.


This is Marit’s 30th birthday. There really isn’t anything better than 80’s parties.


And of course, here she is in my wedding! After arriving jetlagged from Australia, she rocked the high heels (while 5 months pregnant).


Anika was born in July (yes, almost a year ago now). We were back in town last August and I got to meet her. So adorable! She’s so tiny!


I wish I lived closer so I could see Anika more. Luckily for me, Marit sends me photos that always make me smile.


I bought this Kate Spain material before Anika was born (when we didn’t know if she was a boy or girl yet, because Marit didn’t find out).  I think it actually looks pretty girly, so lucky thing she’s a girl.


This is round two of the quilt. I like the diagonal quilting better than the straight line quilting here.

The quilt pattern is from Camille Roskelley’s book: simplify. The pattern is “coming home”. The fabric is Kate Spain, Fandango.

– erica

ps. Did I mention it’s also great to have a friend who is a cardiologist who can help answer your questions about the effects lupus has had on your heart? (My newly discovered heart issues might be a later post)

“home” in New Orleans

This weekend is exactly what I needed. I felt like I walked around with a smile from ear to ear for the past two days.

I am in New Orleans for the annual ACP Conference of Internal Medicine. I’m not sure how many physicians are here, but there are lots. During the day there are probably at least a hundred different lectures to choose from and in between lectures and in the evening there is time to spend relaxing with colleagues.


There are a lot of people from MN here, mainly people I know from residency. After spending 3 years there, it feels like I am “home” this weekend.



It is also navy week in New Orleans so over lunch on Thursday we toured the USS WASP. I got to hold a gun.


Thursday night we went to Emeril’s (the famous chefs’ first restaurant). We had an amazing time- and they were able to make me a very tasty vegan meal (my dietary choices have provided my colleagues with a lot of material for teasing me).


And speaking of dietary choices (vegan), I’ve been getting my share of red beans and rice.


It’s been a great time, but also excited to see my husband tonight. Four nights away might be my max.

The Important Stuff

I follow a lot of different blogs. Mostly fellow quilters. Normally I’m really excited to read all the new blog posts every day but for the past month I have not been reading them. It just felt like one more thing on the “To Do” list.  Last night I finally sat down and enjoyed some of my favorite blogs. And it felt a little bit like the good ‘ol days.

And when catching up on my blogs I read Lisa’s post Spinning Your Way Through Life and it really hit home for me. Lately I’ve been struggling with figuring out how to do everything I want to do. And it really does feel like anytime you do one thing, another thing gets left behind. And the more things I start doing the more I struggle with the frustration that I feel like I’m not doing anything well anymore.

So, I thought, how do I deal with this? I think the first thing is letting go of the idea that I have to do everything really well (easier said written than done), and the other thing is to reevaluate what is really important to me so I can focus my time and energy on those things.

Here we go: What’s Important to Me:

Being a great partner for my husband. Which means: Loving him by paying attention to what is important to him (for example I may believe that having the dishes washed and the house clean shows him that I love him, but to him that doesn’t mean anything compared to greeting him at the door when get gets home with a hug and kiss).  Supporting him in his professional endeavors, and being patient while he figures out what that is.  Listening to him (especially since after a day of listening to other people’s problems all day, I like to be the TALKER). It’s important to constantly be present in the moment and focusing on US together.

Being healthy. I feel like I am diagnosing pre-diabetes, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol all day long. It is super alarming. When I met my husband I did not have very many healthy habits: I ate a lot of packaged and cafeteria food (um, residency anyone?), didn’t exercise, and honestly didn’t really think about things too much. The combination of seeing a lot of unhealthy people with watching a few documentaries and reading some different articles, has really changed me. I want to eat mostly vegetarian, eat as little processed food as possible, and start to work out regularly. I feel fortunate to have just found a great fitness teacher at my gym (I am majorly externally motivated).

Staying in touch with friends and family. Since I grew up in Minnesota, lived in Costa Rica for a year, lived in Boston for a few years and now live in Los Angeles I have accumulated friends all over the world. And my family is still in Minnesota. So, other than moving everyone here to Los Angeles, I am stuck doing the long distance thing with lots of people. I am trying to Skype regularly with my niece and nephew and talk on the phone and email family and friends. All of that spells: T-I-M-E. So the first thing I did was increase my phone plan last month to account for this. I have learned that my commute is a good time to multi-task (don’t tell the traffic cops). And I am also trying to get back to Minnesota about every 3 months.

Quilting/Dancing/Reading/Blogging. Here’s all the other stuff I am trying to do. Each of these seems to go through its ups and downs depending on my mood and energy/fatigue level. These are the things that make me really excited, but seem to be at the bottom of the list and only get done when everything else has already happened. And then the guilt starts to creep in, and all the “shoulds” start to crowd my brain.

I just need to focus on what things are meaningful to me. And worry less about the rest.


One of These Isn’t Like the Others…

When I used to live in Boston (Wow, I can’t believe I can say that!), I used to go to Laura’s Sewing School on Monday nights for sewing class. It really was so much more than class. I loved the other women and looked forward to seeing them every week. It was great to get together to chat sew :-). And I also liked the strawberry pop (“soda” in Boston) and popcorn I ate every week.

One of my classmates, Elena, is originally from Spain and teaches at Brandeis University. While we were together in class, she made an amazing dress for her daughter, a shirt for herself and was working on a quilted tote bag when I moved away. She had bought some adorable butterfly quilting pins and when I saw them, I think my eyes got big. She saw how much I liked them and suggested we swap a pin. So, now I have one butterfly pin in my collection. I was sewing this weekend and every time I used this pin I thought of Elena. I felt connected to sewing school.

So, can you tell: Which one of these isn’t like the others?

Miss you girls!! Keep me updated on your projects!

– erica


My life has felt a bit overwhelming and stressful lately, so I decided it was time to take a step back and think about some of the wonderful things in my life. And most of those are people. I have been blessed with many great people in my life.

Yesterday I was sitting in my new office (in Hollywood, CA) and I received a text message from Rosie, my friend and medical assistant, in Boston. It made me teary. Rosie really made my job in Boston special.

When I first started to practice in Boston I was coming from hospital medicine. Switching to a full time clinic job was more foreign than I anticipated. In the hospital, patients have already had a significant work-up in the Emergency Department and you already know that they are sick. In clinic, you have to decide if an issue is serious or if it’s something that will get better on its own. And, seriously, was not prepared for the questions patients would ask (“uh…. what?  Um…. I’m not sure…”). I mean, they did not teach us that stuff in medical school! Trial by fire.

And I’m super organized, which is good and bad. If things aren’t all done in order, I get flustered (which is probably why the move and all of our snaffoos have been so hard on me). But, luckily, I was partnered with Rosie, who saved me every day.

Rosie is very organized and pays attention to the details, just like me. So I could count on her, which allowed me to relax. I knew things were going to get done.

And, she’s also an absolute sweetheart. So, my patients also loved her. Which is doubly awesome.

We both had multiple stressors over the past year, and there was something calming about going to work and being a team. Even if everything else in our lives was chaotic, we could function and get things done at work. I think that was good for both of us. Seeing Rosie always put a smile on my face. Sounds cheesy, but, it’s true.

Rosie has been one of my favorite people to show my sewing projects to. She’s always interested (or at least pretends well ;-)). One day she asked if I wanted to go to a fabric store that she knew about in Cambridge, MA. Didn’t take much convincing. So we went together after work. I got the adorable polka-dots that I used for the back of Andrew’s quilt and a beautiful bird fabric that caught Rosie’s eye.

So, I had a yard of the bird fabric sitting in my apartment waiting for a project to make for Rosie. When I saw a tote bag tutorial, I thought, this is it! The fabric was a thin quilting cotton weight so I added fusible interfacing to it to give it more weight. I have added interfacing to pouches before and it worked well, but I don’t know if I did something wrong this time because after the tote was finished I noticed that if you folded the bag there would be a strange crease in the material from the interfacing bending. Has anyone else had this happen? Any ideas on how to avoid this? Did I not iron it long enough? Otherwise, I think the tote turned out really cute.

I did have some problems with the pattern though. The lining was cut out exactly the same size but had a smaller seam allowance so it was all bunchy when I tried to insert it. So, I had to go back and resize the lining.

I could literally write a novel about Rosie. Here’s a couple of parting photos:

Rosie planned the most amazing surprise bridal shower for me at work. I literally had no idea and when I walked in the conference room with all the decorations and food and co-workers, I cried. THANKS.

Before I left for CA, Rosie took me out for dinner at a Brazillian restaurant. We had “Mu-que-ca’s” (a Brazillian meal in a clay pot). YUM.

And she has the most adorable dog, Millie.

Rosie, I love you! You will be missed daily.


Bienvenidos Andrew!

Sarah and Francisco had a baby boy on March 8th! Andrew is adorable. I can’t wait to meet him in person. He is an absolute cutie!

When Jake and I were out in Los Angeles for my job interview we went to a quilt shop, Sew Modern, in Hollywood. It was my first big splurge on fabrics (Of course I had to celebrate). I bought this great car print that looked totally “boy” to me.

I decided to make a zig zag quilt. I’d been seeing many of them in “blog land”. I followed a tutorial that I found here that showed how to do a zig zag quilt without using half square triangles.  I decided to alternate the car pattern with coordinating solids. I have to admit that I think the quilt looks a bit too “Charlie Brown”.

I couldn’t decide on any single binding color so I did a pieced binding with all the solids from the front. I love how it turned out!

I also love the backing fabric- I actually love anything with polka dots. I purchased it at Sew-Fisticated (a discount fabric store) in Cambridge.

It’s very cute folded up. 🙂

I met Sarah in elementary school. We lived about 6 blocks away from each other. We would bike to each other’s houses and “meet halfway” which usually meant that Sarah went almost the whole way because it always took me a little longer to do the dishes than I thought it would (optimist).  In 6th grade she called me on the phone and told me (about the best news I’d heard so far in my life at that time) that her family was moving only ONE house away from mine! That was the beginning of endless adventures together.

I couldn’t help but put in this picture from summer camp. I can’t actually remember how old we were in this but our permed hair is awesome.  Sarah and I are in the front row: Sarah is in the middle with a blue t-shirt on and I’m next to her on the right with the short “poodle” hair do.  My friend Anne is right behind Sarah in the red t-shirt.

This might have been halloween in Junior High or early High School.

For some reason I know that this isn’t halloween. We really loved these nun costumes.

If I ever was even slightly cool it was because of Sarah. She was homecoming queen in 1996! I actually sewed the dress I’m wearing in this picture. Back in high school I did a little sewing (clothes for me and clothes for my American Girl Dolls). I was starting the DIY-Handmade movement in the 90’s, before it was hip.

Here we are on the last day of high school!

The summer after high school we worked together on the overnight shift stocking shelves at the local grocery store, Hy-Vee. We had a lot of fun. We went on a trip together to Lanesboro and put up a tent, tiki torches and did daily biking trips, so fun! There was a tornado warning during our trip so we spent time huddled in the campground bathroom with the other campers. So Minnesota!

For college, we both went to the University of Minnesota. And we both studied languages. Sarah studied German and I studied Spanish. I got into Salsa dancing and Sarah came out a few times to First Avenue for salsa night. She met Francisco Naranjo and they got married, YAY!

So adorable! What a cute couple!

This blog post was so hard to write because my life is filled with so many memories of Sarah that I had no idea where to start…. this only slightly touches the surface of our lives together. Now we live a long ways apart, but Sarah is always in my heart. She is a big influence on who I am today. Sarah, I love you.



Welcome Emma!

Another beautiful baby has joined us! Emma Yejin was born on June 4th to my beautiful friend Beth and her husband Sam. Emma has an adorable older sister Anna. I am so thankful I finished this quilt before they return back their home in China next week (because i don’t trust mailing overseas…).

I have to say I am absolutely tickled at how this quilt turned out, and it’s my favorite so far (shhhh, don’t tell Sarah, Samuel or Finn).  I got the fabric from the fatquarter shop and was initially super excited.  But then I went through a period of time where I wasn’t so sure anymore. Luckily after changing the pattern (and vision) I fell in love again.

The construction of the quilt turned out to be more complicated than I thought- it’s just a bunch of squares, right? I first pieced together the rows (horizontally) with the patterned pieces and white rectangles. Then, between each row there was a white strip- which sounds nice and easy. But all of a sudden you realize that you actually have to mark the strip or else all the patterened pieces won’t line up. I think it actually would have been easier to piece white pieces together (the same size as the patterned pieces and rectangles) so you could just pin and match seams.

I’ve been wanting to finish a quilt with parallel lines and this seemed like the perfect quilt to do that. I marked one line with a red chaco roller and then spent a long time freaking out that the red line wouldn’t wash out (but luckily it did!!). So, for the rest of the quilt, I used a hera marker to mark the lines, and I have to say that it’s a SUPER COOL tool. If you are a quilter and you don’t have one- get one!

It actually took me many hours to sew all the parallel lines- I spent more than one sewing class doing it. During one of the classes, Linda (a fellow classmate), said: “And then there’s erica over there, lawn mowing her material”. Which is kind of what it was like. I loved it. Very zen like, and peaceful.

 I find that it’s very hard to take good pictures of my finished quilts- to get them to look as beautiful as they do in real life. Suggestions?


My “lawnmowing”.


Tabacon loved this quilt. She was always running around on it. She might need her own quilt.

So, back to my friend Beth. We met our freshman year in college. We both lived in Territorial Hall at the University of Minnesota. One of my first memories is that she had a little minature fridge stocked with minature Sunkist orange pops (if you’re from the east coast: pop=soda). Our sophmore year we moved into off-campus housing and lived with two other girls: Mindy and Elizabeth. We had some weird quirks- one was taking silly pictures.


This is us raising the lamp in our living room (I think it’s supposed to mimic a famous flag photo?)


Beautiful fall weather in Minnesota- required: Minnesota college gear. (I almost forgot I’m a natural blonde).


This is one of my most memorable halloweens. We were an interactive fall scene: a peasant (me), a hunter (Beth) and a tree (Angie). Hours of entertainment. Unfortunately you can’t see my yellow socks that were my peasant feet.


Minnesota wasn’t so beautiful all year, it got cold.


I’m not sure why we are dressed up like this. I’m acutally a bit embaressed to show my short pixie haircut. Hmmm.


We dubbed our apartment “Coolie 302”. At the end of the year Mindy drew this beautiful whiteboard art that shows the four of us: Liz in her crew sweatshirt talking on the phone (note that this is pre cellphones), Mindy and Beth playing guitar and me sitting at my computer.

Beth and I lived together again our senior year, just the two of us. We continued to drink Sunkist pop and eat lots of Homestyle microwave popcorn.

Beth, I love you! You are such an important person in my life. I wish we didn’t live so far apart and we could actually spend time together. You have two beautiful girls. I send you my blessings.




Happy Birthday Carolyn!

When I first started working at Somerville Primary Care our clinic was separated into an A and B side and also had an upstairs (which means I barely saw anyone except my patients). But when we moved into our new clinic site I asked to have my office by the medical assistant station and was the next office over from Carolyn. Lucky for me! Over the past year we have become great friends and it’s so wonderful to have a friend at work. Even if some days it’s only standing in line to get our lunch.

In January we had several snowstorms. Pretty much every week, on Tuesday or Wednesday, we got dumped on (several feet each time!). Here we are trying to brave the mountains of snow to get to clinic. Fun, huh?


We had a couple of gorgeous days this past spring and we took advantage of them to grab food in downtown Boston. We went to this cute place twice (If it’s good, don’t mess with success!). Carolyn’s daughter, Sarah, came with us and it was a great excuse for me to order a hot dog so I could share a few pieces with her. She’s adorable- and so well behaved!


I was super lucky that Carolyn was able to come to California for our wedding and be my personal attendant. She was stunning- and it’s always nice to have another tall girl nearby (and Carolyn isn’t afraid to sport high heels!). Thanks again!

Carolyn just had a birthday. It was the hottest day of the summer so far in Boston. We took Sarah to a kiddie pool but strangely they had drained out the water. They still had water spraying down from above so we walked around in that. We finished the afternoon with a trip to Petsmart to look at the kitties and fish and then to McDonalds for ice cream. So much fun!

For Carolyn’s birthday I made her a little coin purse. I downloaded the pattern from Pink Chalk Fabrics and thought it turned out great. I had to remake the lining (smaller) because it was bunchy at first. I’m wondering if it would make sense to just make all linings for pouches smaller from the beginning- since they all seem too big (and by all, I’m referring to the TWO pouches I have made so far). Take a peek (sorry for the blurry shots):

Love you Carolyn! I will miss seeing you every day! (A little secret if you get to the bottom of this post: We’re moving to LA in October).