Polished in Peplum

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Top: Phillip Lim | Skirt: H&M | Shoes: Michael Kors | Lipstick: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick – Carina

Ever have a day where you just wanted to get dressed up and feel glamorous? Even if the social event for the day is only your office, I say go for it!

I may be slightly over-dressed for a Wednesday at the office, but I couldn’t resist pairing my Phillip Lim peplum with a pencil skirt from H&M. The summer might be all about color and prints that pop, but this girl has a lot of black in her closet (and isn’t afraid to wear it!). If I’m feeling lazy when it comes time to decide on an outfit, it’s black pants…. Don’t know what to wear to work, throw on a black skirt….Need something to wear out, I grab the Little Black Dress. You get the idea! Black is so versatile and easily translates from day to night and formal to functional.

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This Phillip Lim top has earned a coveted spot as a work-wear accouterment. I have quite the love affair with peplums (in case you have any doubts, see this post), but the ‘bling’ around the collar really dresses it up and obviates the need for accessories. I have worn it in the past with skinny jeans, but I was pleased with how formal and polished the look became with a pencil skirt.

So yes, I was the one who looked like I missed the memo that Wednesday was a work day (and a dress-down day on top of it), but I just had to show my loyalty to a couple of items in my closet that were feeling neglected.

Catching Up….

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Typically my weekends consist of the three B’s: beaching, brunching, and browsing. This weekend I decided to stay put and enjoy the two R’s–rest and relaxation – and attend to tasks that I have been putting off. The weather only served as encouragement and further solidified my decision to remain indoors. With cloudy skies, cool temperatures, and intermittent showers, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on a precious summer weekend.

Last week was a hectic one that left me feeling drained, both mentally and physically. Not even my Emergen-C drinks and Starbucks kick could remedy it. It’s so pleasant to be out and about when the weather is warm and the sun shinning that sometimes I forget that I need to rest and re-charge for the upcoming week. I honestly can’t remember the last time I stayed in and had no plans. It was refreshing to snooze in bed late, enjoy brunch at home, and leisurely catch up on some reading. My inbox was full of newsletters I had been meaning to peruse as well as emails I needed to answer. Aside from taking care of some necessary business, like cleaning the house, I forgot how nice it could be just to enjoy a quiet space. It was a good time to reflect and review how I’ve spent my summer days, look for more inspiration for my home office, and just let my body dictate how productive I would be.

One thing that I always forget when I get busy is to take care of myself. I get pulled in so many directions during the week that sometimes it’s okay to just have a day to myself, with no plans…no expectations…and no demands.

Now that I have had some time to decompress, I feel like I am ready to tackle a new week and set some objectives. My goal for this week is to carve out an hour for myself in the form of a mid-day yoga class…and maybe kick (cut back?) my Starbucks addiction!

Waiting for the Weekend

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Ahhhh…at last! The weekend has arrived. I was beginning to think it got lost or somehow I slept through the two most glorious days of the week. This week was hectic, but some great reading got me through it. Here’s what I’ve enjoyed:

Patience – thecollegeprepster.com
Anyone who knows me recognizes that I am not the most naturally patient person in the world. As I’ve gotten older, I have been trying to work on it, and this post offers insight into this important virtue.

The Decoder: Beach Bag Beauty Essentials - camillestyles.com
Who doesn’t like seeing what other people carry in their bags? As a lover of the sand and sea (and frequent beach-goer, in case you haven’t noticed), I am always searching for new products to tote along with me. I love the items that made it onto the list, and I will certainly be adding a few of them to my own beach bag (hello You Smell Luxury Paper Soap!).

10 Things You Need to Know About Social Media – theeverygirl.com
I have been reading a lot of good articles about social media lately, but I thought this one gave a great overview of how to promote your brand.

Career Profile: Jennifer Taylor, Social Media and Public Relations Associate at Jack Rogers - thepreppypostgrad.com
This may be my favorite interview (ever?). I have loved Jack Rogers, both the brand and the sandal, since high school. My first pair of Jacks are still alive and well! I relish reading about Jennifer’s day-to-day work at the company; she does a fabulous job creating the voice for its social media.

What do you enjoy reading? Any good posts you’d like to share?

Happy Friday, my Steil-ish friends!

Working on the Workspace

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I start off every summer having great expectations for projects around the house that I would like to complete. Last summer I didn’t really plan on accomplishing much except for being able to move my neck again after thyroid surgery. The summer before last I attempted to tackle landscaping, which was an epic fail.

Although I have procrastinated for months about taking on this much needed project, the time has finally come to organize my home office. Five years ago I converted a downstairs bedroom into my office. I chose a light blue color for the walls (I painted them myself!), which I thought would have a calming influence, and I purchased (and assembled!) a glass L- shaped desk. I replaced the room’s small window with a larger picture window that lets in more light and gives a better view of the outside. All was going well and I loved how the room was coming together.

Yet now, a few years later, I find I rarely have used the space for its intended purpose. I have become addicted to working off my iPad and like the flexibility it offers me to work from any spot in the house, usually the living room. As great as that is, I miss having a designated, usable area where I can write.

Part of the problem with my home office is its size. The room itself is small, and the desk takes up a good part of it. Finding suitable storage options for the space has been difficult and as a result my office gets cluttered easily. I roamed plenty of home decor stores over the past couple of years and found furniture that was either stylish but not functional, or practical but not pleasing.

With the help of Pinterest, I started a board to gather some ideas of what I want my home office to look like. Take a look at my Working in Steil board to see my inspiration. Within another month, I hope to have my office up and running again.

What essential items do you have in your home office? How do you keep your office organized and functional?

Steil-ish or Steil-eesh?

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Ever wander into a store with one specific item in mind and then buy it…and maybe a few other things? That is exactly what happened to me over the weekend. Exhibit A: The Nordstrom Rack. After a beautiful afternoon at the beach, I decided that some retail therapy was in order to complete the day. I had every intention of stopping at Ulta, but I received a tip that the Nordstrom Rack had the Stila skincare products I was desperately searching for at a better price. I rarely shop at the Rack, but after this most recent visit, I’m thinking that I have been missing out.

After securing what I really went in for, I took a stroll around the store. I thought I was safe until I spotted the shoe section. Who doesn’t need a new pair of summer sandals? I was proud of the restraint I had been exercising thus far – I even passed up a pair of Jack Rogers! That was until the mint, studded Zigi Soho’s caught my eye. Normally, these would not be a pair of shoes I would find appealing, as they are edgier than my normal conservative 9-5 attire allows. However, as I went to put them back on the shelf, rationalizing to myself that I had no need for these shoes and would seldom wear them, I looked at the price. For under $25, they were a steal—I had to have them. I concede that this was a splurge (sorry, Suze Orman!), but as I brought them up to the register I already began envisioning wearing them with white skinny jeans or a pair of shorts. Even though they will be reserved for fun summer day trips (or more likely, running around town), I have no buyer’s remorse. I am looking forward to wearing my bright, studded Zigi’s the next chance I get.

So what do you think? Are they stylish or style-eesh?

Waiting for the Weekend

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Can you believe it is the middle of July already? I know I’ve said this before, but the summer feels like it’s slipping away and I don’t want it to end. I’m not ready for the cooler weather to roll around, and certainly don’t even want to entertain the thought of snow. Yikes! I just want the summer to slow down a bit so I can feel like I have fully embraced my beloved three months!

These past couple of months have escaped me because I have been incredibly busy with work and family matters. It feels like the weeks never end, but the weekends are over before I can catch my breath! Can anyone else relate?

Since we are now just about halfway through July, it seems like an appropriate time to plan out the rest of my summer — and spend some time reflecting. My goal this year was to truly embrace life – everyday – and live in the moment. I want to leave the path of anxiety and stress behind me, and fully enjoy a quieter, more peaceful future. I have always been a high-strung individual, but after facing thyroid cancer I can honestly say fewer things ruffle my feathers these days. So far, I feel like I have lived up to the goal I set for myself. I have spent my free time this summer outdoors: at the beach, strolling around Port Jefferson, enjoying brunch with good friends and trying new activities.

My plans for this weekend include a little retail therapy and time by the water with the company of a good book ( I am really looking forward to starting David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell). Some things I have on the agenda in the near future include a weekend-getaway to Sag Harbor, checking out Battle of the Burger (August 3rd – Be there as Long Island restaurants compete for the title of best burger) and the always exciting, and honestly my favorite part of summer, the annual Hampton Classic Horse Show in Bridgehampton, NY (August 24th – 31st).

What do you do on the weekends to de-stress? Has the summer been going fast for you as well?

Happy Friday!

All Aboard

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Over the holiday weekend, I tried something I have been dying to do since last summer. I’ll give you a hint… it involves water, a board and paddle, and nice weather wouldn’t hurt… You guessed it – stand-up paddle boarding. Every time I am at the beach I see people enjoying the calm water while getting a good workout paddling. Since I spent last summer recovering from a thyroidectomy and trying to avoid the sun and getting my neck wet, I had to forgo the paddle board experience then.

Now that my neck is fully healed, I am always on the lookout for new activities to vary my routine, and stand-up paddle boarding was number one on my list. It has become a very popular activity on Long Island in recent years. Most of the local beaches and marinas offer either lessons or paddle rentals. I checked the rates online at a few places and they were steep – around $75 for an hour lesson, whereas just the paddle board rental ran around $40 for an hour. I was pretty sure that I did not need a lesson and was planning on just renting the board and taking it from there. However, the last call I made was to the Long Island Stand Up Paddleboarding Company, where I was greeted by a friendly voice offering to extend the Groupon price of $39 for an hour lesson to me. SOLD!

With several convenient locations across the North and South Shores of Long Island, this place has you covered wherever you live. On the day I wanted to go out on the water, Saturday, the South Shore had strong rip tides and I was advised that they would be giving lessons in Saint James, on the North Shore.

I love exploring Long Island – so I welcomed the opportunity to see yet another locale. The drive up to the water through Saint James was exquisite, and if you are a horse person, the equestrian estates along the way will leave you speechless. It seemed like every house on Long Beach Road was a Dutch Colonial with a barn in the backyard. The rolling, manicured front lawns complete with horse-proof fencing were similar to the Kentucky landscape. Almost every house had their horses grazing on their property. The Knox School at the end of the road was the pièce-de-résistance. I had heard of this private school before because of its equestrian program, but seeing it in the flesh was a whole different story. At first, I thought it was just another stable, but the sign was too obvious to ignore. If I were a kid, this would be where I would want to go to school. There were horses out in the paddocks welcoming you down the long majestic driveway, and it looked more like a showground than a K-12 school. I digress!

After regaining my composure, it was time for the paddle boarding (the whole reason for the trip in the first place). The final destination was not a beach, but rather a bay with some boats docked in the water. The paddle board instructor, Scott, was young, but seemed experienced. There really wasn’t much instruction needed on land or on the board. Scott helped me get on the paddle board and attached the board to my ankle. Once up, I paddled away, taking a stroke on each side with my paddle. The winds were strong, fueled by the fading but still powerful Hurricane Arthur, and trying to avoid a collision with the docked boats was probably the hardest part of the whole experience. But the cool breeze felt great under the hot sun, although be sure to don sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses (although not expensive ones, as people have lost them falling into the water). A few other people took the lesson-rental when I did, and I was even able to carry on brief conversations with them while paddling and maneuvering around the bay. The hour flew by and I was sad when I had to return to shore.

Overall, I found paddle boarding to be every bit as exciting as I thought it would be. It provides a great upper body workout without being too strenuous on the legs and back. I enjoyed being out on the water, and the whole experience had a peace and serenity to it. It was liberating not to have to talk, text, or answer emails for one whole hour, and to be able just to concentrate on myself. I enjoyed paddling by the boats, silently moored in the bay, and from the vantage point of the water I could observe the shore, too, with its beachgoers, fishermen, and traffic.

I would highly recommend the Long Island Stand Up Paddleboarding Company if you are in the area and interested in giving paddle boarding a try. (Even at their remote, mobile locations, they take credit cards, which was a marvelous convenience.) I certainly plan on renting a board from them in the near future and enjoying another hour of peace.

If you are new to paddle boarding, I suggest calling a few different places to get rates and also look for a Groupon. I didn’t particularly find the lesson very helpful, but if you aren’t sure, go ahead and take one. The key to paddle boarding is remaining balanced. Once you can do that, it’s not very difficult to stay on the board and paddle.

Celebrating in Steil

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So the holiday weekend is now behind us, and aside from Hurricane Arthur battering the East Coast Thursday night and all day Friday, I would have to say it turned out to be a beautiful couple of days.

To kick off the holiday weekend I went to see my first Long Island Ducks game in Central Islip, N.Y. on Thursday evening. I must admit, I’m not one for watching sports outside of the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, and I know practically nothing about baseball. But it was a fun evening. My friend Claudia had VIP tickets and had been to a Ducks game before, so she showed me the ropes. The turnout for the game was excellent, despite the ominous forecast calling for heavy rain and thunderstorms that evening as Arthur made his way near Long Island. We had great seats by third base. After watching a bit of the game, we walked around, checked out the indoor VIP lounge, and saw the Ducks mascot, Quacker Jack, keeping the crowd entertained.

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The highlight of the evening was the much anticipated fireworks show put on after the game. Unfortunately, what began as a slow drizzle turned into a deluge around 9 p.m. A rain delay was called, which lasted approximately 30 minutes and left everyone huddled under awnings or their umbrellas. Much to the delight of the crowd, an announcement was made that they would do the fireworks in the pouring rain! The show was spectacular and totally worth getting soaked for. I managed to get a few great shots of fireworks lighting up the dreary, dark sky.

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The weather in these parts was pretty torrential on the Fourth of July, and local firework shows got postponed. Even though the storm seemed to have lifted by Friday evening, Long Island had seen a good 24 hours worth of rain. So this year, there was no Fourth of July tradition to be had. Instead I spent my day at home relaxing – something I really haven’t done in a while. The evening called for indoor grilling of hot dogs and hamburgers on my Cuisinart Griddler.

Thankfully the weather cleared and we had a beautiful summer weekend here. On Saturday, I went paddle boarding in Saint James, N.Y. More to come on that experience later this week.

The fireworks that were scheduled for The Fourth in Port Jefferson, N.Y. were rescheduled for Saturday evening and advertised on major media outlets on Long Island as taking place on a July 5th. I was so excited to see a Grucci show, especially one by the harbor. Since I figured it would be chilly in the evening, my attire for the night consisted of my white Mossimo pants, a navy tank and a nautical striped blazer that I recently purchased from H&M.

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After attempting to secure an appropriate seating venue, and seeing crowds of people begin to claim their spot for the fireworks, I found my place on the dock facing Conneticut. I was not anticipating being chased off the docks slightly before 9 p.m. so they could be closed up for the night. Spot number two was a slightly less attractive option and certainly more crowded. I found the flattest rock I could find and laid my beach towel down — 9:00 p.m quickly turned to 9:30 and then 10:00 p.m. and still no fireworks in the night sky. It was fair to say the crowd of a few thousand by this point was growing restless and impatient – and I was too! By 10:15 p.m., with still no signs of activity except for the fireworks being shot off across the Long Island Sound in Connecticut, I called it a night and endured the single-lane ride out of Port Jefferson. Clearly a Grucci show was not in my future this year!

Aside from some mild disappointments, mainly weather and apparently scheduling errors, I enjoyed my Fourth of July this year.

Finding Your Fourth Celebration

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{July 4, 2013 – Cedar Beach}

Anyone else as excited as I am for the 4th of July? I know it’s kind of early to begin contemplating weekend plans, but here I am!

Each year I look forward to the Fourth. For one thing, I think fireworks are beautiful and I welcome any chance I get to see a good show. I also enjoy the food – burgers and hot dogs on the grill (some years even lobster has appeared on the menu). And lastly, the Fourth kicks off the heart of summer.

One of the best parts of living on Long Island is the endless ways to celebrate. Since graduating college, I have been spending the holiday on a boat in Oyster Bay, N.Y. Each year, I headed 45 minutes west to the North Shore of Nassau County and enjoyed the company of other boaters and firework aficionados. It was always a crowded but jovial scene and the water had a serene, calming effect. Around 9 p.m. the fireworks would go off with a bang. There is nothing better than being lulled by the water on a boat and looking up at a dark, exploding sky. Heading back to the dock when the evening wrapped up was like leaving a concert after the final song – but there was no rush.

Last year marked the beginning of a new tradition – watching fireworks from the beach. It was about two weeks after my thyroid surgery, and the thought of being on a rocking boat suddenly didn’t sound so appealing. Cedar Beach in Miller Place, N.Y. was the perfect venue. The beach stretched on for miles (which is rare on the North Shore), and there were plenty of people who had arrived early to claim their spot on the sand. Those with beachfront property built make-shift bonfires and lite them as the fireworks began. I have to say, the fireworks rivaled the ones I used to watch each year in Oyster Bay. They seemed to go on forever, with one boom bigger than the last.

This year I am looking forward to seeing a Long Island Ducks game the night before the holiday, followed by Grucci fireworks. If you’re looking for a good show, I highly recommend the production Grucci puts on. It’s always spectacular. The world-renowned Grucci family has been putting on their famous fireworks spectacle since the 1850′s. If you happen to be spending the Fourth on Long Island, you can catch one of their upcoming shows in Farmingville at the Penny Saver Amphitheater (but get there early), at Montauk’s Independence Day Celebration, or at Go 4th on the Bay in Fire Island. If you already have plans on the Fourth, there are some shows happening later in July and early August.

Fireworks not your thing? Long Island has plenty of other ways to help you celebrate our Independence. From 4th of July 5K races to town parades, there is something for everyone (for a full list of upcoming Long Island events click here). Head out for a scenic day on the East End, stop at a vineyard for a wine tasting, or just enjoy a dinner out. Whatever plans you end up making for the Fourth – I hope everyone enjoys the holiday and has a fun, safe extended weekend!