Summer Hues

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Once the summer rolls around, my wardrobe changes to bright, light shades. A few months ago I stopped in at the Gap on my lunch break and scored a great pair of blue pants. They were on the clearance rack for less than $5, and in my size, which made for an easy decision. Also, they were work appropriate but could easily double in a casual setting–an added bonus.

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I held off wearing my new purchase until the warmer months, when I could pair it with a white sleeveless top I had from Vine and Roses. Of all the clothing I own, this top is the crown jewel of my closet. I was immediately drawn to the light fabric and the way it draped on me. And what girl doesn’t like a little ‘bling’ in her wardrobe?

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Shop Till You Drop

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As another un-summer-like weekend passes, I was again left last-minute to revamp my plans. The last two weekends have been disappointing in terms of temperature and clouds. Both weekends required the cancellation of outdoor activities and relegated me to the confines of my house. That was fine for one weekend, but certainly not two.

I decided to venture out on Saturday under the guise of running a few “errands,” but quickly found my way to the Nordstrom Rack. For those who missed it, I was there a few weeks ago and picked up the most amazing Zigi Soho shoes (catch the post here). It was during that visit that I spotted a pair of black and white Jack Roger wedges and regrettably I passed them up. Since then, I have not been able to get those shoes out of my mind. I have been wearing Jacks since high school (which is longer than I would like to admit). My first pair were brown with pink and turquoise stones. I loved them! They have graduated from College with me, seen countless countries and transitioned with me as I moved on to my first job. I think it is now time to retire those tired sandals and move on to something that will also work for the office. And since the Jacks I foolishly passed on the first time around were still there when I went back to The Rack, I feel like I was meant to have them. The Hamptons Mid Wedge is a new Jack Rogers style for me and the perfect height – not too high to make walking around all day unpleasant, and not as low as a flat. The fact that they are a neutral color will also make them a little easier to pass as suitable summer work attire.

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My next purchase was slightly more frivolous. I have been donning skull motifs since Ed Hardy was cool, and for some reason, I still like dainty little skulls. So when I spotted a pair of grey shorts with ever-so-subtle skulls gracing the front and back, I had to snag them. I have no clue where I will actually wear them, other than on those rainy days when I am stuck indoors, but hey, every girl has her vice.

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Finally, no shopping excursion would be complete without a new accessory (or two…stackable rings from The Rack). Although I had never heard of this store before, Charming Charlie is worth a pit stop if you happen to have one near you (and conveniently located next to the Nordstrom Rack in this case). Prepare yourself for sensory overload because this place has it all – clothing, jewelry and accessories in every shape, style and color. This color-coordinated store had some of the season’s hottest trends. I ended up settling on an orange trifold wallet with a black and white striped pattern on the inside. My favorite detail is the gold turn-style clasp to make opening and closing it a little more exciting – think bank vault. I have long favored using a wristlet as a substitute for a wallet; however, for $18 I couldn’t resist this purchase.

Happy Monday!

What’s Shaking at the Shack

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I don’t know about you, but when I’m having a stressful week, I like to do something special to vary my routine. Enter a mid-week visit to the Shake Shack. If you have never had a burger there, you must remedy that ASAP!

My first visit to Shake Shack was probably about ten years ago at their Madison Square Park location in New York City. After a tiring day spent walking around the Big Apple, I needed sustenance — and a burger joint seemed like the perfect place. Upon walking up to the outdoor kiosk in the park, I was greeted by a long line that stretched almost around the establishment. I had never seen New Yorkers waiting so patiently in my life. What was all the fuss about? Was the food really worth the wait, I thought to myself? Clearly the people in line ahead of me thought so. As a burger aficionado I decided to take the plunge and my place on the line. Reading the menu kept me occupied and made the wait not feel so long.

Once my food arrived, I immediately understood the Shake Shack obsession. The infamous ShackBurger was perfectly cooked and juicy, and when complemented with the secret Shack sauce it was irresistible.

Ten years, and a lot of fancy restaurants later, I still think the ShackBurger is one of the best there is (although I am partial to Z Burger in D.C. for filling in during my years in the District). Luckily for me, the first Shake Shack location on Long Island opened in November of 2012. Now when I need my burger-fix I only have to hop on the Long Island Expressway and head to Westbury.

My most recent visit to the Westbury location reminded me again why I enjoy going to Shake Shack so much. Usually I am there around lunch time, but I decided to treat myself to a dinner out and was pleasantly surprised by how quiet the place was. It was the first time I experienced no lines (clearly, I beat the dinner rush). I promptly ordered my usual – a double ShackBurger, vanilla milkshake and fries. Their hand-spun shakes are amazing and come in an array of delicious flavors. I can’t have a burger without indulging in one of their shakes. As usual, the meal did not disappoint and to my surprise, I was actually able to finish the double ShackBurger!

The best part of the Shake Shack experience is that the food is served fast, yet without the fast-food guilt that accompanies when you eat something loaded with calories. The fact that the burgers are fresh, never greasy and always taste great is what keeps me coming back.

If you are in New York City, I recommend stopping in at one of their various locations for a satisfying meal. They all have a different vibe, but my favorite is the one on the Upper East Side. I love how the outdoor garden area makes you forget you are in a big, bustling City and you can just concentrate on enjoying your food. If you go at lunch or dinner time, be prepared for a wait. But If you want to be savvy, check out the Shack Cam on their website beforehand to assess the lines. And although this should go without saying, I suggest arriving hungry so you can take full advantage of everything the Shake Shack has to offer.

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.