Fun on the Fourth

Oakdale Fireworks

This was the best weekend of the summer, to date. We enjoyed near perfect weather on Long Island, I got to see not one but two fireworks shows, I spent an afternoon paddle boarding, and I finally made it to the beach (hallelujah!). I can now say that it feels like summer.

This weekend also gave me some time reflect. Be it the beach and the sound of the waves, or just all the time I spent outdoors, the last three days made me realize how fast time goes. It’s hard to believe we just celebrated the Fourth of July, and before we know it it will be Labor Day weekend. As I plan out the rest of my summer I know I want to make the most of these beautiful days. I want to embrace each day from the minute I wake up to the time I put my head on the pillow to go to sleep. I can say after this wonderful weekend that I truly made the most out of the three days and it has left me invigorated…and a bit tired, but in a good way. I know I can’t do anything to slow the days down, but I hope I can find the peace within each coming day that I felt over the weekend.

I hope you all enjoyed the long weekend and had a very happy Fourth of July!

Oakdale Fireworks

{Pre-Fourth fireworks}

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

{Stand-up paddle boarding on the Connetquot River}

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

{SUP selfie}

Red Velvet Cake

{It wouldn’t be the Fourth without red velvet cake}

July 4th Sunset

{Fourth of July Sunset}

West Neck Beach Fireworks

{Fourth of July fireworks at West Neck Beach}

Fourth of July Style

With the 4th of July mere days away now, it’s time to start planning my ensemble. And what better way to do that then with a sweet dress, a pair of wedge sandals, and some good old red, white, and blue?

Fourth of July Style

Fourth of July Style

Fourth of July Style

Fortunately, my closet is well stocked by now with an array of summer dresses. The most recent has been a cute knitted white number that I accidentally (on purpose) purchased during a late-night Target run. Yes – another Mossimo dress to add to the collection! I was drawn to it for its length and work-appropriateness, but a failure to try it on in the store left me realizing just this week that the sheer fabric, even with a slip, wasn’t going to work…at work! But the fit of this dress more than makes up for the oversight. And with the right undergarments—crisis averted!

I’m excited to watch the fireworks, hit the beach, and stop in at a BBQ in any one of the three outfit options above. I’ll be posting pics on Instagram throughout the long weekend so tag #celebratinginsteil to share how you’ll be spending the holiday.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

The July Agenda

It’s hard to believe that in just a few short days it will be the 4th of July. The holiday is always one of my favorites, complete with BBQs, fireworks, and plenty to do and see around Long Island. This month I am excited to add to my list of summer fun and plan to be out and about as much as possible.

The July Agenda

Try: George Martin’s Burger Bar has been on my list of restaurants to try for longer than I would like to admit. I have been frequenting The Original George Martin restaurant since childhood, and still make the trek to Rockville Centre for special occasions. But, with it being the 4th of July weekend, it seems like an appropriate time to finally check this place out.

Read: I wish I could say that I breezed through Aliza Licht’s book, Leave Your Mark, last month. But sadly, that is not the case (through no fault of the books, or course!). I did manage to purchase a copy from my local Barnes & Noble, but like a lot of things on my to-do list, finding time for reading was not in the cards. With any luck, I will have more success this month!

See: I had such a fabulous time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last month that I would really like to make it to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). I’m not sure why I am first now realizing how much there is to do in New York City, but I am appreciating the arts and all the City has to offer more than I used to.

Go: The beach is a high priority by now! Usually, my beach season starts in May, and by July I have a nice golden hue. Not this year. Thanks to an unseasonably cool June, complete with rain on the weekends, I haven’t even gotten my beach pass for the season. But here’s hoping that July will bring us some hot, sunny days and I will be back in business.

Do: I’ve wanted to try yoga on the stand up paddle board since last summer. Unfortunately, my yoga practice has come to a screeching halt as of late (thanks to kickboxing and the four days of soreness that accompany it!), but I would like to get back into it. And what better way to do so than out on the water?

What’s on your itinerary for July?

Climbing The Ladders

Career Advice

When TheLadders, a career resource for professionals, asked me to share some advice for recent graduates, I was elated. By no means am I an expert on the subject, but I’d like to think that six years after graduating from college I’ve learned a thing or two. I’ve certainly had jobs, changed jobs, and restructured my career path over the years — experiences that have given me insight into what I’m looking for and the type of career I want to have.

If I could go back to my graduation day and do it all over again, here is what I wish I knew:

Research what you want: Before you even start applying to jobs, look at the job descriptions of positions you are interested in. Don’t worry if you aren’t a good fit yet, but take notes on the skills you might need: What interests you about the position? What might your career look like in that field? When I first started looking for jobs, I thought I wanted to be a paralegal. I was a political science major in college and was planning on pursuing a law degree. I figured being a paralegal would give me some experience in the legal field before law school. But after applying and interviewing for a few positions, I realized this career path was not for me.

Find a mentor: Mentors are invaluable and can really help you shape your career. I’ve been fortunate to have a couple of great mentors along the way who have served as sounding-boards for my career goals and aspirations. Mentors can be a college professor, a boss, or just someone whose career you admire. Don’t be afraid to reach out and make connections early in your career. Often, people are eager to mentor others and all it takes is an initial step. Once you’ve found a mentor, make sure you maintain the relationship either through emails or phone calls.

Change is good: Personally, I don’t ascribe to the advice that you need to stay in a position for “X” number of years. While I admire people who graduate college and instantaneously know what they want to do with their career, I was not one of them. Through the path I’ve taken, I’ve learned that it’s okay to change careers. As you get older, you change and naturally your idea of what works and what doesn’t changes as well. If you didn’t do an internship in college, and you are unsure of which direction to go after you’ve graduated, now might be the time to explore your options. An internship can give you a better idea of what the typical day-to-day routine looks like in the field you’re interested in than any amount of research, and it’s a great way to make connections and network.

Have a back-up plan: If you are fortunate enough to land your dream job right off the bat, congratulations! But always make sure you have a Plan B. When I posed the question, “What career advice would you give to recent graduates?” to my friends, they almost all echoed this sentiment. With luck, you will be able to do what you love forever, but the reality is with so many companies downsizing or eliminating positions, it’s become critical to think about your long-term career plans. Whether that means you freelance while working a full-time job, or eventually plan to own your own business, it’s never too early to start thinking about the future.

Never stop learning: If ever there were a time to continue learning, now is it. With the changing technological landscape it’s important to keep up with and learn new skills. Even if your job has nothing to do with graphic design, social media, or front-end web development, these are good skills to have and can set you apart from other applicants when you are searching for jobs. But this bit of advice pertains to any career where you may find yourself. There is always something to learn, and thanks to technology, learning does not require you to even set foot into a classroom. Visit your local library, take a webinar on a topic that interests you, or look into online classes. If you prefer traditional classroom instruction, community colleges are a great place to take continuing education classes and most are offered at convenient evening hours.

Being a recent graduate can be exciting–but also scary and overwhelming. Finding a job is time-consuming, and turning a job into a career takes time, hard-work, and patience. Perhaps you didn’t land a job right out of school. Knowing what you want and how to get there is half the battle. Make sure you utilize career resources like TheLadders at each step of your job search. And although this isn’t technically career advice, start saving and building up an emergency fund when you get your first job. Like having a Plan B, knowing that you have money set aside for a rainy day will make you feel more secure about your future.

And lastly, remember my favorite quote from Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Summer Beauty: Beach Hair Run A-Muk

Beach Muk

I’ve never won anything in my life (except that time I won a goldfish at a fair). So you can imagine my delight when I received a notification from the Long Island Pulse magazine telling me that I was the recipient of the summer beauty products they were giving away on Facebook!

I picked up my prize the next day and immediately started planning when I would try the products. The trio from Muk, an Australian haircare brand, contained Beach Muk, a sea salt spray, and Hot Muk, which included a thermal protector and a smoothing serum. I tend to flat iron my hair throughout the summer, unless I know it is going to be a beach day and then I will let it dry naturally. My hair is wavy, although it tends to get frizzy quickly, so it does require a fair amount of product to keep it from getting unruly. Since the weather has been hot and humid these past few days, I thought it was a good opportunity to try the sea salt spray.

Beach Muk

Last night I washed my hair and applied a few sprays (okay, probably more than that and more than you might need!) of the Beach Muk. The fine mist didn’t feel greasy and it had a pleasant smell. For me, that is a win-win. I dislike products that make my hands sticky and leave my hair feeling hard. Even in the wet state my hair was in, I knew I was going to like this product. I put my hair up and slept with it damp. In the morning I had a beautiful soft wave. My hair was not completely dry, so I sprayed a few more pumps of the sea salt mist. By the time I left for the office I had the perfect beach hair, which was still completely work appropriate!

Beach Muk is a great summer hair product to keep in your arsenal. It’s easy to apply – just spray and go, it’s light, and it makes your hair look like you just spent a day at the beach. I love that this product added texture to my hair and held the wavy look all day without falling flat. I’m excited to try the other products the next time I flat iron my hair, but since this look is so flattering for summer, it may be a while.

Sweet Snaps

How’s the first official week of summer treating everyone? It certainly feels like summer with this heat and humidity. And that means the only rigorous activity I’ll be doing outside is paddle boarding. I’ve been keeping cool by indulging in some sweet treats!

Blackberry Sangria

{sipping on some blackberry sangria}

Peanut Butter Paradise

{it’s always a good day when Peanut Butter Paradise is on the menu}

Crazy Beans

{iced white chocolate mocha at Crazy Beans}

Crazy Beans Cinnamon Bun French Toast

{cinnamon bun French toast for lunch}

Hubert's Watermelon Lemonade

{cooling down with watermelon lemonade}

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A Day at The Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Last Wednesday was my second thyroid-versary, which I celebrated by spending the morning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I had a follow-up appointment with my surgeon later in the day and I am happy to report that other than a slight adjustment to my Synthroid dose, I am doing fine two years out.

I haven’t been to The Met in ten years, so I was excited to plan a return visit. With no agenda set, I had the morning to roam free and make my way to as many exhibits as time allowed. I began in the Medieval Art section, before heading to Arms and Armor (this was my favorite part of the museum!), the American Wing (where the famous Emanuel Leutze painting Washington Crossing the Delaware now lives, in case you’re looking for it), Egyptian Art, and briefly passed through Musical Instruments. My apologies to any exhibitions I forgot to mention!

{Arms and Armor}

The Met - Arms and Armor

The Met - Arms and Armor

The Met - Arms and Armor

Some of the current exhibitions worth seeing include Van Gogh: Irises and Roses, Fatal Attraction: Piotr Uklański Photographs, China: Through the Looking Glass (there are some gorgeous couture gowns on display), and Warriors and Mothers: Epic Mbembe Art. Most of these exhibits run through mid-August; however, Warriors and Mothers can be seen until mid-September.

{China: Through the Looking Glass}

The Met - China: Through the Looking Glass

The Met - China: Through the Looking Glass

The Met - China: Through the Looking Glass

The Met - China: Through the Looking Glass The Met - China: Through the Looking Glass

If you are planning a visit to The Met, you will need to budget a chunk of time — even an entire day — to explore, as the museum is large. The layout is a bit of a maze, so it would be wise to grab a map when you enter or take the self-guided audio tour (if it weren’t for my good friend and trusty tour guide who accompanied me, I’d still be wandering the Medieval Art section).

I had such a great time at The Met that my summer plans now include a visit to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), the Guggenheim, the Cloisters, and just because I’ve never been, the New York Public Library at West 42nd Street.

Minting it Up

Mojito Mint by Whim

What would a summer be without a new nail polish? It just wouldn’t be complete, right?  Well, fear not. On one of my many Ulta shopping trips (really, I should be banned!) I spotted a shade of nail polish I just had to have. I should preface this by saying that I went into Ulta to pick-up one item (Stila’s smudge stick eyeliner in Lionfish, to be precise, a coppery shade that completes my look), and not in the market for another polish.

But it was love at first sight. Unlike the usual question I find myself pondering when I see a nice color (do I already have this shade?), I instantly knew the answer. Not only did I lack this color, but it didn’t resemble anything I already had in my line-up. Corals and peaches are a favorite summertime trend for me. I probably own about five coral colors that I can only distinguish by the witty OPI name underneath. So buying a pastel polish, in a hue that you wouldn’t naturally find in nature, was a bit outside my comfort zone.

Mojito Mint by Whim Nail Polish

Whim’s Mojito Mint lived up to my expectations, although at first it was looking a little dicey. As you may know from previous posts, I have been a loyal OPI polish wearer for years. I love their colors, the finish, and the durability. When it comes to trying a new brand I am always hesitant, and one that costs $10 for what looks like a minuscule amount of product is usually a deal-breaker. Fortunately, the color, and the fact that it is “Five Free” (does not contain DBP, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Camphor, and Formaldehyde Resin), enticed me enough to give it a try. But the proof is in the polish! How does it go on? And, how does it wear? Well, here is where that dicey comment comes into play. When I first began applying the polish it went on thin and watery. I was afraid that the pretty color wouldn’t come through on my nails. But after a slightly longer drying time between coats, and a second application, which went on smoother than the first, the polish looked as good on my nails as it did in the bottle. And after a week of wear, complete with a trip to New York City and lots of time typing away at the computer, I’m happy to report that the polish has good staying power. No chips to date!

I guess the moral of the story here is: don’t judge a polish after one coat! In all seriousness, I’m happy I splurged a bit and found a beautiful color (and brand!) that I will probably be wearing all summer long. The color is light, refreshing, and screams summer. As best as a nail polish can!

My Second Thyroid-versary

My Second Thyroid-versary

As I welcome my second thyroid-versary, which not only happens to be today, but is met with a follow-up appointment to see my surgeon in New York City, I am reminded of how far I’ve come in the last two years. I may have lost my thyroid, been put on Synthroid, and now have the pleasure of adding regular visits to see my endocrinologist into my busy schedule, but I’ve learned some critical life lessons along the way. I hope I can offer other newly diagnosed thyroid patients strength and perhaps wisdom as they embark on this next chapter.

I remember all too well those feelings of confusion, loneliness, and worries after being diagnosed. I wish I could say they passed quickly, but all I can say is that it gets easier. You can read some of my earlier posts here, here, and here about my diagnosis and treatment. There were so many emotions after hearing that I had papillary thyroid carcinoma that I do not know where to begin. Some days all I could do was scour the internet for information, while other days I found it easier to consume myself with plans and pretend everything was fine. Those were the days when denial took over. They had their high’s and low’s as well.

I don’t need to recap the last two years for you because if you’ve been following along you’ve likely seen the updates and milestones. I’ve gained a lot of perspective through this experience and it has changed me as a person. It has led me down a path that has shaped my career in ways I would have never imagined. It made me a more open person who is willing to share my story and step outside my comfort zone. And it has made me a stronger person because I have been left with an invisible illness and I know what it is to not have your health.

Today, as I embark on the anniversary of my second year as a thyroid cancer survivor, I am doing something fun to celebrate…something that I haven’t done since my freshman year of college. I am visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art before I see my surgeon. If I’ve learned anything from this experience it’s that life is short and you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things or do what makes you happy. I want today to be a celebration of the last two years and I’m looking forward to seeing what the next year brings!

Learning to Write Pretty

Scarlet & Gold Calligraphy Class

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend! I mentioned on Friday that I was taking an online calligraphy class over the weekend with Scarlet & Gold. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at the fancy writing style, now is your chance. They are offering another class next week, and did I mentioned it’s free? Head over to their website to sign up.

When I first found Scarlet & Gold on Instagram I immediately followed them. They offer prints, apparel, and phone cases all adorned with beautiful words in addition to their webinars. I’ve never had pretty handwriting and always admired those that did, so it was without hesitation (and a lot of excitement!) that I signed up for the class. And, I’m so glad that I did! Not only did I learn something new, but I really enjoyed practicing my penmanship and getting creative with my letters.

But first things first. Before the class, Scarlet & Gold sends a packet that you will need to download and print so you can practice and follow along during the instruction. It’s filled with beautiful sketches that you can frame, helpful tips about the tools you’ll be using, and some letters to practice with. I purchased all of the recommended items for the class from Paper Ink Arts. Once you’re signed up and confirmed for the class, Scarlet & Gold will let you know what supplies you need and the types to get. The basics are a nib, pen holder, and ink. Make sure you also buy the paper they recommend as you will need it to trace the letters during the class.

By the end of the class I was able to write ‘Let’s Write Pretty,’ although I am by no means an expert. I think the last time I practiced writing like this was when I was in second or third grade and I was learning cursive. This is such a fun hobby and I look forward to continuing so I really can write pretty!