Fall Looks: Splurge or Save

When it comes to fall fashion, I must admit that I’m just not ready for it yet. In my mind it is still summer (at least until September 23rd); the sun shines late into the night, the days are warm, and August isn’t over yet. But I know that before long, these days will come to an end; summer dresses will get traded in for long-sleeved shirt dresses, tee shirts will be hidden under oversized cardigans, and my sandals will be replaced by flats. I know that this is the natural progression of the seasons (and fashion!) and that I need to embrace all that comes with the cooler days ahead…like pumpkin lattes, changing leaves, and oh, a fall birthday! The good news is that there are a few trends I’ve spotted that are making the transition a little easier for me. So come September, get set to lace up those ballet flats, grab that bucket bag, and throw on your favorite pair of skinny jeans. But until then, let’s enjoy the last bit of summer and just keep dreaming of fall fashion for a few more weeks.

Below are some of the items on my fall wish list with both splurge and save options!

Fall Looks: Splurge or Save

Trend Tribe Trinket

Trend Tribe Necklace

On Sunday I went to the Long Beach Arts and Crafts Festival. I grew up near Long Beach and spent many a summer day at the beach there. I haven’t been back since I was a kid, and hadn’t seen the area after Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012. Walking on the boardwalk (even though it had to be rebuilt after the storm) brought back memories.

Despite an overcast day, the weather was perfect for perusing the vendor’s wares and watching the plethora of surfers trying to catch a wave. It was a small festival, which made walking the boardwalk when the sun popped out bearable. Although I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, it should go without saying that I found a necklace that caught my eye.

Trend Tribe had a booth at the festival, and I loved some of their pieces; they are a New York based accessories company that focuses on affordable jewelry (everything is under $50!). They also partner with college students to help them build their resumes while providing them with experience as philanthropic fashionprenuers.

The necklace I purchased from Trend Tribe was simple and elegant, and it will pair nicely with similar pieces in my jewelry arsenal. I’m all about layering, so I loved that this necklace could be worn at varying lengths. I’ve donned it alone as a dainty statement piece and I paired it with my initial bar pendant necklace from BaubleBar and a jeweled headpiece for a boho-chic look. It’s a great everyday necklace and one that can get mixed and matched with your favorite pieces. What’s not to love?

Au Revoir August

To honor this being the last full week of August (tear!), I thought I would share some of my snaps from the summer. With any luck, we will be graced with warm days throughout September, but in the meantime I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. I’m looking forward to the Hampton Classic horse show this week and another visit to Fire Island. I hope that you enjoy whatever plans you have for this final August week, and don’t forget to tag #livinginsteil on Instagram so I can see how you all are saying au revoir to one of my favorite months!

Kickboxing

{Saturday Selfie}

Horse

{Horse Hour}

Sunset at Heckscher Park - Huntington, NY

{Summer sunset at Heckscher Park – Huntington, New York}

H&M Swimsuit

{My favorite H&M swimsuit}

Catching Clouds

{Catching Clouds}

Sag Harbor, New York

{Day Trip: Sag Harbor, New York}

Fish and Chips, Sag Harbor, NY

{Couldn’t pass up the Fish & Chips – Page at 63 Main, Sag Harbor, New York}

Sag Harbor, NY

{A room with a view!}

Yummylicious, Sag Harbor, NY

{Ice cream from Yummylicious! – Sag Harbor, New York}

Standup Paddle Boarding

{A little R&R on the Connetquot River}

Dunkin Donuts

{Donut worry. Be happy!}

Summer Reading

{Summer Reading}

Southdown Coffee, Huntington, NY

{Croissant & Cappuccino – Southdown Coffee, Huntington, New York}

Long Beach, NY

{Taking in the view at the Long Beach Arts & Crafts Festival}

It’s almost here…

Hampton Classic 2014

{Hampton Classic 2014}

Can you feel my excitement? About what, you might ask. This weekend the Hampton Classic begins. That’s right, my favorite horse show out on the East End starts on Sunday. Not only can I hardly contain myself for a day out East, spent amongst the most gorgeous horses and talented riders you would ever want to watch, but I’m looking forward to finding new vendors and fashion to love for fall. And, almost as much fun as being at the show, deciding what I’m going to wear has crossed my mind more than a few times.

Looks for the Hampton Classic

So, I’m throwing the question out to you, my lovely readers. You can get reacquainted with the top three contenders here, here, and here. Or, perhaps I will surprise you with a darling little number that has been waiting in my closet for just the right occasion. Don’t forget to leave your pick in the comments below (you can opt for the mystery dress, if you like!) and follow on Instagram to see which outfit won the coveted spot of “Hamptons Steil 2015.”

If you are on Long Island, or fairly local, I highly recommend squeezing in some time at The Classic. You can catch-up with last year’s post here and find some recommendations in the area here.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Me

Big Sur, CA

By now, you probably know that I like to shop. Love summer (and summer dresses). Spend a lot of time at the beach. Enjoy day trips. And, never pass up a good brunch! But I wanted to share a few things that you might not otherwise have gleaned from my posts.

1. I am a very picky eater. I don’t like spicy foods, pretty much anything green (I have never met a celery stalk I liked. No, really, I can’t even be in the same room with celery!), and I could eat the same thing day in and day out without getting tired of it. This fact has been confirmed by the results of a recent BuzzFeed quiz. I wouldn’t eat a whopping 53 out of 87 items on the list. See how picky you are here.

2. Growing up, I wanted to be a veterinarian. Somewhere in my college years that changed and I was intent on becoming a lawyer, specifically a prosecutor. Now, I think I’ll stick to blogging and writing.

3. Before I was an equestrian, I was a competitive figure skater and also took ballet classes. I have been known to hop on ice skates from time to time and think that I can still jump like when I was a kid.

4. I want to move to California (like, yesterday!). When I was on the West Coast in March, I fell in love with San Francisco. Aside from the fact that it is home to Ghirardelli, I loved being by the water, the landscape, and the weather. If you were to meet me in person, I would probably tell you this within the first five minutes of our introduction!

5. I am a huge choc-o-holic and aficionado of sweets. Okay, this you probably know if you follow me on Instagram and see all of the ice cream I consume and the amount of times I used the hashtag sweet treats. But did you know that I strongly dislike chocolate milk and hot chocolate? Yeah, I didn’t think you did.

6. I have a skull obsession — don’t worry, it’s harmless. If you remember back when I unveiled my new home office, Zigi made it into a few shots (the metallic skull is from Z Gallerie so it was the best name I could come up with). I thought it was a fun piece and it works well with the decor in the room.

7. I not-so-secretly think photographers have the coolest job in the world. I could spend hours on Instagram scrolling through beautiful photos. My favorites are always black and whites and landscapes.

8. I have struggled with anxiety my entire life. In my adult years, I’ve taken up yoga and it has helped me work through my anxiety issues. Flying still makes me the most anxious.

9. I’ve owned two horses. Both were grey.

10. I am in a long-term relationship with my iPhone. It may or may not be healthy.

There you have it. Ten random facts about me that you didn’t know before you read this post.

Navy Number

Old Navy Dress

In case you’ve been keeping score, this would be the second dress I purchased back in March for my trip to California (you can catch up with the first one here). Unfortunately, it never saw the light of day on the West Coast, as a nasty sunburn almost as soon as I arrived foiled any hope I had of wearing a strapless dress on that trip. But all is not lost. This summer on the East Coast has had some scorchers, making it the perfect time to break out an ensemble such as this. Not to mention, in just a few short days the annual Hampton Classic horse show (August 23rd – 30th, for those of you with a countdown of your own) will begin and this outfit might make the cut for the event.

This dress was another find from Old Navy. I thought it would be a great piece to brave the California weather in, and also something that would get a lot of wear come summer. This simple navy number transforms once off the hanger and has a bit more volume to it than may appear at first glance. I love the eyelet detail, the fitted bodice, and the length (since I am petite, that’s an important factor!). If your end of summer plans include a barbecue, family outings, or one last vacation then scoop this dress up while you can for under $25!

Old Navy Eyelet Strapless Dress

Old Navy Eyelet Strapless Dress

Old Navy Eyelet Strapless Dress

Old Navy Eyelet Strapless Dress

Old Navy Eyelet Strapless Dress

Going Through a Tough Personal Crisis? Learn How to Overcome and Navigate Your Career at the Same Time

Career Contessa

I’m thrilled to have my first article published on Career Contessa and to be a #ContessaMovement Ambassador. If you are unfamiliar with their mission, they are a site devoted to “honest conversations by real women about work and life — to help you achieve fulfillment and balance in both.” Career Contessa is my go-to for inspiring career profiles and where I turn when I need help navigating the next steps in my career. Want to be inspired, too? Sign-up for their weekly newsletter to get great career advice delivered to your inbox!

Read on to learn how I managed my career while dealing with a personal crisis.

FOCUS ON YOURSELF DURING A PERSONAL CRISIS—ALLOWING YOU TO BE BOTH PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY READY TO TACKLE YOUR CAREER.

When everything seems to be going well in our lives, it’s hard to imagine anything derailing our well-formulated plans. But, like it or not, there are going to be bumps along life’s road. They will come in the form of tragedy, missed opportunities, and personal setbacks. Knowing how to handle them, learn from the experience, and move on is vital. Grantland Rice famously said, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” This is one of my favorite quotes, and after suffering a health setback in 2013, it is truer to me now than ever.

At the age of 26, out of nowhere, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. You could say my diagnosis was a shocker. During a routine annual exam, my doctor decided to perform a neck check and there it was: a lump on the right side of my thyroid. The discovery was jarring enough, and the timing could not have been worse. I was in-between jobs and my mind was flooded with a million questions: How will I continue my job search while facing surgery? Should I mention this malady in an interview? What if I get an offer?

Days went by as I digested the news and my worst fears—what would have been a good thing just days earlier—came true: I started getting calls for interviews. I reluctantly accepted them, but found my mind wandering when I should have been concentrating on the words coming out of my mouth. As I progressed with doctors’ appointments, consultations with surgeons, and surgical pre-testing, I decided to put my job search on hold and focus on my health.

My story is not unique. According to Cancer and Careers, approximately 80 percent of cancer survivors return to work after treatment. I guess you could say I was fortunate because I was between jobs, but it got me thinking about handling even basic personal crises while you have a job and how those situations can affect your career.

Here are some tips to remember should you find yourself in a similar situation:

DON’T TAKE ON THE WORLD

Throwing yourself into work may seem like the logical thing to do when you are dealing with a personal problem. Be it your health or an issue at home, remember to do your best at work, but don’t take on more than you need to.

If you have a lot on your plate emotionally, avoid adding another project, client, or more responsibility. I found this to be relevant even in my situation. Once I made the decision to focus solely on my health, I felt like I accomplished much more, and did a better job on my only task, than when I was trying to juggle job searching, writing cover letters, and seeing doctors.

TALK TO YOUR BOSS AND CO-WORKERS

You don’t have to suffer in silence, and you should let those you work with know what’s going on with you, especially if it may have an adverse impact on your work. Talk to your boss if you have a medical emergency, a death in the family, or some other situation that will require your immediate attention. I’m a firm believer in the old adage that “honesty is the best policy,” especially if you work in a collaborative environment and your absence could affect the team.

DELEGATE WHEN POSSIBLE

Once your boss and co-workers are aware of your situation, they might be willing to help you make deadlines or pitch in when you are out. Please do take them up on it should they make the offer—or simply ask for the help if you need it.

This also applies to other non-work relationships, including your friendships. I found it necessary to ask for assistance from friends and family when I was overwhelmed with appointments and confused about my next step. For me, this advice was applicable in the sense that I was able to have my friends help me vet doctors and work out all the “what-if” scenarios that ran through my head.

In some ways, I think the delegation process also made those around me feel included and more understanding of what I was going through.

MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF

Some weeks it’s harder than others to find that needed “me-time” with work, home, and personal responsibilities. But when you’re dealing with tragedy or trauma, that time to yourself is more important than ever.

Whether it’s drinks and dinner with friends, getting a massage, or just curling up with a book, down-time can improve your emotional outlook. I used the time during my illness to focus on myself—and really do things that I enjoyed. That meant walks on the beach with close friends, crépes from my favorite créperie for dinner, and short day trips. It took my mind off of everything and allowed me to return refreshed and with a clearer perspective.

A month after my surgery, I received a job offer. When I went to the interview, I was on my game because I knew there was nothing standing in my way and I was excited to get back into a routine. Once I accepted the position, I immediately told my new boss that I had undergone a thyroidectomy a mere month prior, and that I would have follow-up appointments with my surgeon that I would need time for. She was understanding and reassured me that they would work with me.

Looking back on it, I’m glad that I took six months off and focused on my health. It allowed me to land a job that suited my skills and left me ready to tackle the position both physically and emotionally.

This post is by me and was originally posted on Career Contessa.
Photography by Stephanie Yang

Working from Home

Working from Home

It’s been a week and a half since I traded in my 9-to-5 for working out of the comfort of my home and being my own boss. So far, I love the creative freedom to do with my days as I please, and get work done…of course! But there are some things that I found myself missing on day one.

The first thing that was noticeably absent from the start of my day was not having to get in my car and endure a 40-minute commute (and traffic!). I can’t say that I miss it at all, but it was a strange feeling to walk from my bedroom to my home office, all of five steps away. I did miss my old morning routine of greeting my co-workers and the chit-chats we would have throughout the day. Somehow, random household appliances are a poor substitute for human interaction!

I found, almost immediately, that sticking to a routine was the best way for me to feel productive. So, I thought I would share how I’ve been structuring my days now that I have joined the freelance world.

8:00 am: I am by no means a morning person, so getting out of bed by this time is really the best I can hope for. I know for most of you this may seem late, but since I am fairly unproductive in the morning (especially without a few cups of coffee) this is a reasonable time for me.

8:00 – 8:45 am: I am not someone who can stay in pajamas all day (okay, I am, but I’m trying to work on that). Since I am working from home, I make it a priority to do my hair, put makeup on, and get dressed in a work-appropriate outfit to feel put together. Some days, “work-appropriate” means yoga clothes, but that is the beauty of being your own boss.

9:00 am: Starbucks run! I have tried and tried to curtail my Starbucks habit, but it just refuses to be curbed. It doesn’t help that I have made friends with half of the baristas at my local joint. I always wondered how many times a week you needed to frequent a Starbucks before they had your name and order down. The answer: every day!

9:30 am – 1:00 pm: Once I have my coffee fix I can start working. I usually check Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook before anything else. I purchased a Day Designer recently, and not only does it match the color of my office, it helps keep me on track and accountable for my daily progress. I spend a few minutes at the start of each day writing out my to-do list and seeing where I left off the day before. After I get caught up, I’ll begin reading and commenting on other blogs, responding to comments on my blog, posting photos to social media, and sending out a tweet or two. By then, it’s usually time to break for lunch (I’m still looking for quick and easy lunch options, so if you have any ideas send them my way).

1:30 – 3:00 pm: I am someone who can’t stay in one spot all day, so getting out for a bit is crucial. I like to take an afternoon walk, meet a friend for coffee, or take a slightly longer break and head to the beach to clear my head.

3:00 – 5:30 pm: I use the afternoon to work on writing, schedule posts for the blog, catch up on social media and emails, read the news, do photo shoots, and tackle anything else that needs my attention.

6:00 – 7:00 pm: Dinner and news time! I try to unplug from my iPad and iPhone for a bit (keyword is try!).

After dinner, it’s back to technology and one final look at upcoming posts being scheduled; I’ll scroll through social media, and check emails. My schedule is still a work in progress, and since the weather has been so nice I plan on taking full advantage of the ability to do day trips and “work” from the beach.

I’d love to hear how you organize your day, and if you work from home, how you utilize your time.

The Long Island Philharmonic at Heckscher Park

Long Island Philharmonic

What could be better than listening to live classical music on a beautiful summer evening? That’s exactly how I spent my Saturday night this past weekend. The Long Island Philharmonic performed at Heckscher Park in Huntington, New York in front of a packed house. The weather was perfect for watching the sunset and sitting out under the stars.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Huntington Summer Arts Festival, which now comprises 40 nights of performances. Saturday evening was the penultimate concert of the summer. It’s sad to think that summer really is coming to a close soon!

Long Island Philharmonic

Long Island Philharmonic

But not before we talk a little bit more about this wonderful performance that the Long Island Philharmonic gave. This was the first time I’ve heard them perform, although my friend who lives in the area and saved seating earlier in the day has seen them at Heckscher before. Under the direction of David Stewart Wiley, the Philharmonic performed renditions of J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto No. 3, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, Williams/arr. Burden Star Wars Medley, and Gershwin’s Lullaby for Strings, before ending the night with an “Armed Forces Salute” (arr. Lowden).

Long Island Philharmonic

Despite growing up in Huntington, I rarely made it to events at Heckscher Park. But after seeing the Philharmonic perform, I have definitely been missing out. It was such a relaxing night and a great way to spend a summer evening. I’ll be looking forward to their next performance in town!

Day Trip: Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

For me, one of the perks of living on Long Island is the proximity to the Hamptons and Fire Island. As a child, I spent plenty of time on this 32-mile long barrier island facing the Atlantic Ocean. Summers usually involved an overnight on the boat and a day at one of the many communities that make up Fire Island.

The other day I took full advantage of my newfound freedom and headed to Ocean Beach, a quaint little Fire Island village. A short ferry ride (30 minutes) from Bay Shore across the Great South Bay is all I needed to feel like I had left Long Island and was on vacation. My friend Fran and her son Brody accompanied me for the day and the three of us set out to enjoy the beautiful summer weather and come back to Long Island refreshed — and that is exactly what we did. The ferry ride to Ocean Beach was calm, and the sky was serene and picturesque (which made it easy to get great shots on the way there).

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Once we docked, Ocean Beach greeted us. Fran and I had little on the agenda aside from taking it easy and spending time at the beach. We picked a great day to head over, as humidity was low and the temperatures had dipped a bit from the heat wave we experienced earlier in the week. The beach is an easy walk from the dock, and there are bicycles for rent if you prefer to sightsee that way instead. Fran, Brody, and I leisurely followed the path to the water, stopping to see all the idyllic beach bungalows. Naturally, I took lots of photos of everything from houses and flowers to garden sculptures!

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

The beach was beautiful, but proved to be a surreal experience for me. I haven’t seen a beach with luscious sand and crashing waves in years. If this is what you are used to then the North Shore beaches on Long Island may disappoint you. The hot, soft sand was a pleasure compared to the rocks and required water shoes I typically deal with. I also haven’t had to combat currents in a while. The lifeguards were definitely on their game and reminded us to swim between the red flags. We even saw a lifeguard come to the rescue of a swimmer! As the day went on, the waves got larger and larger, and the current stronger. Even in shallow, ankle deep water you could feel the undertow. If you aren’t careful you will definitely end up farther away from your beach bag and towel…or worse.

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

After a couple of hours at the beach, running away from crashing waves, and enduring the morning sun, it was time for the three of us to have lunch. Ocean Beach has plenty of eateries, so finding one was easy. I was in the mood for a burger, and Castaway Bar and Grill delivered. Right on the main strip in the center of the village, Castaway had everything you would want for a fast and satisfying lunch. The heat certainly makes you work up an appetite and my burger was exactly what I needed.

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Not that I really had room for dessert, but when on vacation you splurge, right? After my meal at Castaway, I found my way to Scoops ice cream shop, which was conveniently located on the way back to the ferry. I had some peanut butter concoction in a cone, which hit the spot. That alone would be worth another trip to Ocean Beach!

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

The day came and went quickly. By the time I returned home, I felt as though I had been on a vacation in a far away destination — in a good way, of course. My legs were tired from working so hard to stay in one spot in the water, and from the schlepping from the ferry to the beach. All in all, I am looking forward to a return trip to Fire Island before the summer officially comes to a close.

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

Ocean Beach, Fire Island

If you are headed that way, I highly recommend Ocean Beach. It’s a great spot to go for the day, or to stay overnight and enjoy a leisurely breakfast the next morning. The village is full of touristy shops, nice restaurants, and plenty of quiet streets to tour. Whether you are going with kids in tow, or by yourself, Ocean Beach will keep you busy.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your trip:

Check the ferry schedule and have cash on hand. The ferries do not take credit cards and a round trip ticket costs $19. Make sure you arrive at the ferry terminal early to ensure plenty of time for parking. Parking is $10 for the day.

Only pack essentials. If you are planning to spend a few hours or a day on Fire Island, you will likely be carrying your belongings. People who live there or visit frequently have carts locked up by the ferry, but if you have a lot to tote, you may want to bring a bag on wheels…and wear comfortable footwear.

Bring water and sunscreen. This is obvious if you are heading to the beach, but best to make sure you have these items packed. It is a bit of a walk from the beach back to town, so you don’t want to make it more than you need to.

Watch the weather and the currents. It was a beautiful day weather-wise when we were there, but the water and currents were very strong. Make sure you are swimming within visibility of the lifeguards if you choose to go in, and always listen if they tell you to move — it’s for your safety.