Remembering Vivi, the Greatest Aunt



It’s never easy to let someone go, no matter how long you’ve had them. On Monday, my family said goodbye to my Great Aunt Vivi, and I’ve been battling with my grief and bouts of deep sadness ever since. At 1:00 this morning, I cried on the phone with my Aunt Kathy, who put it best: “She wasn’t just an aunt. She was another grandmother to you.” And she’s right. This feels like losing my Nana all over again. Vivi has been the matriarch of our family since Nana’s passing in 1998, but she was a mother and grandmother to us long before then. One blog post couldn’t possibly convey my love for her, but I’d like to at least try. So today, I’m raising a glass, sharing a few memories, and toasting to a life well and fully lived.

Erickson sisters

You may remember this photo from my Nana Tribute a few years ago. Nana (my paternal grandmother) is on the left, looking at her older sisters Ginny (middle) and Vivi (right). Vivi was the eldest of her sisters, and the last of her generation.

Joe + Viv

Viv was quick-witted and always said exactly what was on her mind. She and her husband Joe (who passed away in 2007) were the most hilarious couple I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. One of my favorite Joe and Viv-isms is a story Joe would tell about how Vivi farted loudly in bed one night and Joe said, “I don’t know how I’m going to explain to the cleaners how I got shit on the outside of my pants!” Ha!!! :)

Though they had no children, Joe and Viv loved all of their 17 nieces and nephews, 32 great nieces and nephews, and 23 great great nieces and nephews (wow!) as their own.

South of the Border

They had a special spot in their heart for my Dad — the youngest of his siblings — and later, Suzi and I. Above, Vivi is flanked by Suzi (right) and I (left) at South of the Border in South Carolina on our way to Disney World in 1992 or 1993. Joe and Viv didn’t like to fly, so they drove us down to Florida and back. They loved recounting the story of how Suzi and I thoroughly trashed the backseat of Joe’s Cadillac so that when we got home he traded it in for a new one.

McDonalds at Viv + Joe's

I loved visiting Viv and Joe’s house. They had a few toys and office supplies to keep me busy, but I mostly liked shining up the chandelier in their dining room (what a weird kid!) or putting on all of Vivi’s necklaces and clip-on earrings (she never pierced her ears) or pretending to sell them to Viv and Joe. Going to Viv & Joe’s almost always meant having McDonald’s, which was a treat for us as kids. I used to stay home “sick” from school sometimes so I could watch movies with my Nana, and Viv and Joe would always come by around lunch time with McDonald’s. It’s no wonder I played hooky so often! I was totally spoiled.

Christmas 1997

And speaking of being spoiled, Vivi would take me shopping every year for pretty dresses for Easter and Christmas, and sometimes back-to-school clothes. The dress above (I think this is Christmas 1997) is almost certainly a Vivi-purchased dress. Nana is leaning over to inspect a present on the left and my stepbrother Zach is admiring my skirt (or trying to make his way to the Hot Wheels). When Viv took me shopping, Joe would drive us to the mall and as we went off to Lord & Taylor (Viv’s favorite store), he would plop down in the chairs in the middle of the mall and take a nap. We’d wake him up when it was time to leave or grab lunch.

Vivi + Stan

I apologize for the grainy quality of this photo — my photography skills have improved a lot since this was taken in 2009! Vivi never commented on my boyfriends much, until I brought Stan home. She loved Stan. She would always make sure he sat next to her, and she’d hold his hand the whole time they were together, and she’d tell him over and over again: “I never thought anybody was good enough for Sami, except you.” ♥ She’d totally hit on him, too! But, then again, after Joe passed away, Vivi would vocally fantasize about being with a certain local Catholic priest too, so her love knew no boundaries. The below sound clip is proof:

My Dad, cousin Steven, and I are discussing the guest list for Vivi’s 90th birthday party, and he’s on the list! (By the way, one of her favorite movies was The Thorn Birds…)

The same day we recorded the above, Vivi questioned our motives for visiting her, the proceeded to gush about me, then my Dad:

The “big fat Italian” she refers to so lovingly would be Joe. Real nice, right? ;)

Vivi had an excellent memory, and was a great storyteller. Over the past few years, I recorded a few snippets like the two above, and I have another one I’d like to share, but it may be disturbing to young audiences. Vivi’s claim to fame is her excerpt in Steward O’Nan’s 2008 book The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy, a study of the Hartford circus fire on July 6, 1944. Here’s Vivi’s story:

The file is large, so it may take some time to load, and there’s some distracting background noise later in the file.

Stan and I visited Vivi for the last time this past Saturday. It was hard to say goodbye, but I leaned in close to her “good ear” and told her I loved her. She wasn’t very responsive, but I know she heard me, she knew I loved her, and I always will.

Christmas 2013

“The ones that love us never really leave us.” ~Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (I love this quote from the movie). Vivi will live on in us through her stories, wit, and love.


Is it really Fall? ‘Cause this outfit thinks it’s still Summer

blue & gold outfit 2 - poorandpretty

I can’t believe it was warm enough on Wednesday to wear this outfit. Not that I haven’t enjoyed the unseasonably balmy weather, but that crisp Autumn air is one of my favorite things about Fall. Maybe this is just preparation for spending the last week of October in Florida? Our Universal trip is only 25 days away!!!

blue & gold outfit top - poorandpretty

I so can’t wait for our vacation. Work has been a bit stressful for me lately, but nothing a good getaway with my favorite guy can’t mend. I’m trying to decide whether or not we should do a dinner and a show (most likely the pirate one). My mom took us kids to it before and it was a lot of fun and the food was great, but it’s a bit pricey and we’d have to get a cab there and back. Hmm…

blue & gold outfit top back - poorandpretty

blue & gold jewelry closeup - poorandpretty

The heart necklace and opal ring are from two of my favorite women: my Nana and my Aunt Kathy. Funny story about that ring: When I was maybe 5ish, I was sitting with my Aunt Kathy, who always wore this beautiful opal ring that dazzled in the light and shone all different colors. So I asked her, “Auntie Kathy, when you die, can I have that ring?” (Hey, I was 5!) Don’t worry; she didn’t die! Shortly before my 16th birthday, she had it resized and gave it to me as a present. I rarely wear it because I’m so afraid of losing it!

opal ring - poorandpretty

By the way, this is the same Aunt Kathy who gave me this lovely butterfly necklace, and she used to pay us $1 to call her “the most beautiful, elegant Auntie Kathy.” I slept over her house all the time when I was little, and she’d give me snacks before bedtime and watch movies with me. Best aunt ever. ♥

wrist closeup timex + bracelets - poorandpretty

blue & gold outfit - poorandpretty

Outfit details: Aqua & Beige Tank: T.J. Maxx, $13 (similar). Polka heart tank: H&M, $8 (similar). Mint Jeggings: LuLu*s, $42 (similar). Stripey button wedges: Roxy, Famous Footwear, $20. Wooden ring: Helveta Vyotlag, $35. Watch: Timex Originals Classic Round, courtesy of Timex.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which may generate a revenue for Poor & Pretty when a purchase is made. You can read more about my affiliate link policies here.


SoWa Sundays & my new vintage skirt

My new vintage skirt - Poor and Pretty

This past Sunday, I vended at the SoWa Open Market again with Kleiner Eisbär, where I picked up this awesome skirt! Traffic was slow, so I was able to explore the different parts of the fair, including the vintage market.

Swift & Faire Co. vintage wall

I picked up the yellow skirt — made by dsb in the 1970’s — from Swift & Faire Co.

Swift & Faire Co. vintage

Another gem I found at the vintage market was Neatly Nested, run by Danielle Platzer, an interior decor lover and antique furniture enthusiast. Danielle breathes new life into run-down furniture through repair, reupholstery, and fresh paint, giving antique pieces a more modern look:

Neatly Nested dressers

Neatly Nested wooden bench

Neatly Nested wooden table

Danielle blogs about her new projects and house renovations at

IMPRESSED by nature booth SoWa 7-7-13

Back outside at the Arts Market, I fell in love with IMPRESSED by Nature, pressed botanicals sealed in thin plastic and turned into beautifully unique jewelry. It immediately reminded me of the pressed leaves and flowers Suzi and I used to make with our Nana when we were little.

IMPRESSED by nature earrings

Of course, these were much more elegant. I also loved the simplicity of the booth and displays.

IMPRESSED by nature necklace displays

We were also joined by our friends Rachel DeCavage of sugarplum USA and Julia Sloan, Brazen Betties, who were sharing a booth:

Sugarplum USA SoWa booth 7-7-13

And speaking of displays I love, Krissy and Dennis have fun ways of displaying their new screen printed baby and toddler clothing:

Poor and Pretty Kleiner Eiesbar SoWa booth 7-7-13

If you haven’t yet, come visit us at the SoWa Open Market on July 21, August 11 & 18, and we’ve added September 1 to our SoWa tour! :)

My new vintage skirt - Poor and Pretty


Outfit details: Sunglasses: Marshalls, $6. Cardigan: Jackie Cardigan in white, J.Crew, $20 on sale. Belt: courtesy of sugarplum USAWatch: Timex Originals Classic Round, courtesy of Timex. Skirt: dsb, vintage, Swift & Faire Co., $24. Shoes: Bamboo, Urban OG, $18 (similar).

This post was inspired by the delightful finds at the SoWa Open Market, and is a part of Independent Fashion Bloggers Project #103 Vintage Vixens.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which may generate a revenue for Poor & Pretty when a purchase is made. You can read more about my affiliate link policies here.


Friday Faves 4.19.13

to kill a mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I never read this in high school, so I swiped a battered copy from my uncle’s house a few summers ago and devoured it over the past few weeks. It’s amazing how relevant the book is today, and sad too. Racism hasn’t faded entirely from our society, but I think our generation’s big human rights issues focus more on sexuality, especially with regards to gay marriage rights.

to kill a mockingbird - color quote

Catching Fire movie trailer. Along the same vein — focusing on inequality, with particular emphasis on the wealth gap — is the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins {a Connecticut native!}. The books are incredible – yes, they’re technically young adult novels but the message within them is perhaps even more important for adults. Plus, my dad was the first in my family to read them! Anyway, I was psyched to see the Catching Fire trailer launch at the MTV Movie Awards:

I’ll be there for the midnight showing, of course.

butterfly necklace

My “Iron Butterfly” necklace. Remember the tribute I wrote for my Nana last month? She used to call me an iron butterfly, beautiful and loving but also strong-willed. My Aunt Kathy saw this pretty necklace in a magazine and said she had to get it for me immediately. It’s a lovely reminder of the strong women in my life, and that we always have the power to reinvent ourselves.

solaris cardigan anthropologie - poor and pretty

Solaris Cardigan from Anthropologie. I love this new addition to my closet, especially since I got it for 50% off! I’m going through a major polka dot phase, and I love that this has sort of sporadic dots in different colors. The buttons remind me of my J.Crew cardigan hack. I’m wearing it today!

sunny afternoon herbal tisane - simpson vale

Sunny Afternoon herbal tisane from Simpson & Vale. My brother gave me this tea for Yule/Christmas, and even though it was on my list, I put off trying it because it smells like it would be way too sweet. I finally tried it a few months ago and now I’m addicted. It’s only slightly sweet, with strawberry leaves, cornflowers, and hints of vanilla and pear. I’ve found it’s perfect for dunking shortbread cookies in, and sipping while you’re enjoying a good book.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which may generate a revenue for Poor & Pretty when a purchase is made. You can read more about my affiliate link policies here.


A tribute to my favorite woman: Nana

I normally don’t post on Saturdays, but today is a special day. As I mentioned previously, March is National Women’s History Month, so I wanted to share a little bit about a woman who impacted my life greatly: my Nana. Today would have been her 83rd birthday.

Nana & Vivi

As my Dad’s mother, Nana {above, left} was the matriarch of our family. My parents divorced when I was two, so Suzi and I grew up in our Dad’s house. Nana lived upstairs from us, and there was just no one else like her. Some of my favorite memories of her are trivial things — looking back at her waiving while I walked up to the bus stop for school, creating Shrinky Dinks with her, her putting my doll clothes out to dry on the clothesline after I’d washed them all in a big pot of soapy water. She wasn’t sentimental, but she had a soft spot for her grandchildren.

Nana & Kathy

This is my Nana and her only daughter, my Auntie Kathy. This photo is probably from the late 70s/early 80s. Kathy tells great stories about Nana and about me as a little troublemaker. One of my favorites is when I got into Nana’s lipstick as a toddler and smeared it all over my body. When she saw me, I said, “Do I look pretty, Nana?” And instead of yelling, she and Kathy laughed, plopped me in the tub, and set to work scrubbing the lipstick off my body.

Nana Charity Ball

I found this newspaper clipping in an old photo album {Nana is the first woman on the left}. I can’t imagine Nana as the type to go to balls very often, but she certainly believed in charitable giving. She consistently donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. St. Jude would mail her photos of the children she was helping, and Nana would give them to Suzi, telling Suzi she could pretend they were her children. A little quirky, I know, but that was Nana!


Suzi and I joke that we never really learned to clean our rooms because Nana always did it for us. She would make our beds, vacuum, wash the dishes, wash and iron our clothes — she used to put creases in our jeans, yikes! — and clean up the messes we would make with craft supplies. After we’d forgotten about them, she’d hose away the mud pies we would set to dry on the front steps. In the Fall, Nana would gather fallen leaves with us and iron them between wax paper, preserving them forever.

Erickson sisters

This is Nana with her two sisters ~ the Erickson gals! Left to right: Vera {Nana}, Virginia {Ginny}, and Vivian {Vivi}. I’m not sure when this photo was taken, but I would guess in the 60s. Today, my great aunt Vivi is the last of her siblings. This August, she’ll be 92! As Irish lasses, they of course always celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, and Vivi was over my Dad’s house last Sunday for corned beef and cabbage. When Suzi and I were little, Nana would sneak outside and put piles of pennies in our backyard on St. Patrick’s Day and say that the leprechauns left them. Even though we were glad to have more pennies, we were always disappointed that we couldn’t catch the leprechauns.

Nana & I

It was hard to lose her to lung cancer when I was only 11, but I am still luckier than those leprechauns to have had her for the short time that I did. Through her example, I learned to be accepting of everyone despite their differences, to give back when I can, to take time to play, hug, and read. She might be gone, but she lives on in some of her favorite things — Columbo, murder-mysteries, Patsy Cline, poker, and us. I keep her with me always.