Tan Towel

Tan Towel

I am all about getting a gorgeous summer glow that usually comes from laying under the sun. But during my last beach day, I ignored the “reapply sunscreen” memo and ended up with an(other!) obnoxious sunburn. So, when my friend Linda mentioned an easy, no-mess way to get the color I craved without baking in the sun I was skeptical. I haven’t used a sunless tanner since high school, and even then I was no fan. The closest I’ve come in recent years was a moisturizer that added a gradual glow after each application.

Tan Towel

Welcome, Tan Towel! These are a far cry from the greasy, oily, and streaky sunless tanners I once knew. The directions indicated that a natural-looking glow would appear within two to four hours and that the product could be applied two to three times a week for a darker hue. The individually packaged towelette had a slight citrus fragrance and unfolded into a sheet the size of a paper towel, which was perfect for applying color evenly to your entire body (it can also be applied to your face, but since I have sensitive skin I just used it on my body). After my shower, I began gently rubbing the towel in a circular motion, starting at my ankles and working my way up. The towel seemed moist enough throughout the entire process and did not leave my skin feeling wet or greasy afterwards. Once finished, I threw pajamas on and was ready for bed (don’t forget to wash your hands immediately after!).

Tan Towel

In the morning, I awoke to a nice, even glow that bears no resemblance to the Oompa Loompa I feared I might look like. The results were natural and there was no residue on my clothes or sheets. I will definitely be using Tan Towel to maintain my glow…and help get rid of unwanted tan lines between beach days.

Instagram-Worthy Images

Instagram Images

If you are anything like me, you might spend considerable time during your day perusing Instagram. Even though I never intend to be browsing for long, all the enthralling images get me hooked.

And, if you enjoy posting to Instagram, then maybe you have wondered how all those images look so professional. I am no expert on the subject, but I have learned how to make my shots better, and with any luck, stand out.

Here are a few of my tips:

1. Have a good subject. I enjoy taking shots of Long Island, food (read: sweets!), my outfits, and of course, my morning coffee. I love photography, so wherever I am, you can be sure that I will be snapping away. Finding what you like to capture and making it stand out on Instagram may seem tough in the beginning. I remember when I first created my Instagram account I was unsure about what I should be posting. I’m drawn to nature and landscape shots, so my account teemed with them when I started; I probably overdid it. Now, I think I’ve found a happy mix of images that captures my everyday life.

2. Use hashtags. Just the other day I was going through my early photos on Instagram. I cringed. Not only was I missing a catchy caption, but my images were devoid of hashtags. If you aren’t sure which hashtags to use you can search to see which are popular and making the rounds. Some standard ones are #tbt (for Throwback Thursday), #ootd (outfit of the day), and #qotd (quote of the day). But the options are many, so have fun searching — or create something unique.

3. Play with filters. Aside from my obvious blunder of neglecting hashtags early on, some of the images would have been much more appealing (and sharper!) with a filter. While it’s nice to say #nofilter, the addition can go a long way. My favorite Instagram filters are Ludwig, Lo-Fi, and X-Pro II. Play around with all of them to get a feel for how they can enhance the image.

Instagram Images

4. Remember square mode. Nothing is worse than taking a gorgeous shot only to have it fail to fit in Instagram’s parameters the way you wanted (although even the best of us forget and need to use InstaSize from time to time!). I always try to snap a few shots on my IPhone in square mode, even if I’m not planning to use it on Instagram. You never know when that #latergram might come in handy!

5. Lighting is important. Sometimes even the filter can’t save the image if it was taken in poor lighting. I’ve had plenty of pictures that were unusable because of shadows or direct sunlight (not noted until after I took a bunch of shots!). Be mindful of where the sun is if you are shooting outdoors and remember, you can always adjust the brightness of an image on Instagram.

I’d love to hear some of your tips for getting the perfect Instagram shot!

Crunching it with Crunch Live

Crunch Live

I enjoy working out and staying in shape, but I wouldn’t consider myself a gym rat. My ideal fitness environment includes a class at a studio, or a work out in the comfort of my own home. So when Crunch approached me about trying their online Crunch Live program, I suspected I might get hooked. And I was.

The idea of going to the gym after work has never appealed to me. Add in that they are noisy and crowded and that is enough to make me skip working out altogether. For the past few years, I have enjoyed various apps on my iPad to help keep my fitness goals in check. But Crunch Live has streamlined the process by offering different types of workout classes of varying lengths all on one platform, thus simplifying my life, keeping me motivated, and reducing the amount of apps on my iPad.

The first class I tried with Crunch Live was Yoga Body Sculpt taught by Bethany Lyons. It was a fast moving yoga class and really got my heart rate up. Unlike traditional yoga classes, which focus on stretching and relaxation, this class was all about burning calories in a short amount of time….and, boy, did it accomplish the goal. Halfway through I felt as though I had done more work then in some of the longer fitness classes I’ve tried in a studio. Bethany was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and she offered accommodating variations for those who may not be comfortable with certain poses. That is something you don’t always see in online classes!

Crunch Live also has cardio and strength training classes (which were a great supplement to the kickboxing class I take on the weekend), Dance Rythms (something fun to do when you aren’t in the mood to work out, but just want to move around a bit), and Quickies, 15-minute workouts when you are crunched for time.

If you’re like me, and enjoy working out at home, or you find yourself traveling a lot for work and missing your fitness routine, then this platform is worth a try (and you can try all their videos with a 3-day FREE trial!). I found that even on days when I was tired after a long day at the office, Crunch Live made it convenient to squeeze in a quick workout without adding extra travel time to make it to a studio. With many different classes (they have over 70+ online workouts), all tailored to getting you fit in the shortest amount of time, this is a great way to stay in shape and have fun doing it.

Image courtesy of Crunch Live

Jumping into a Jumpsuit

LOFT Jumpsuit

I’ve been crushing on the jumpsuit trend for years. But, being petite, I never thought I’d be able to pull the look off without the garment suffering major alterations. That all changed when I found this darling black number at LOFT. The length is perfect (bonus points for being able to wear it with or without heels), and it met all required criteria to justify adding it to my closet — plus, I already knew that I didn’t own anything like it! This jumpsuit can easily be styled with a statement necklace, as I’ve done for a more formal look, or with a blazer for a conservative feel. Either way, I foresee my new jumpsuit getting a lot of wear time this summer. And let’s face it, aside from throwing on a dress, jumping into a jumpsuit is the next best thing!

LOFT Jumpsuit

LOFT Jumpsuit

LOFT Jumpsuit

LOFT Jumpsuit

Thank you for the photos, Claudia!

Beach Time

Beach Time

As you read this post, I will be sitting on the beach enjoying the sun’s rays and the ocean’s sounds. I’m not trying to make you jealous, but rather it should serve as a gentle reminder to get out over the weekend and take in the sights and sounds that make you happy. I don’t even remember the last day that I took off from work to simply enjoy the day. Those rare days “off” during the week are usually related to doctor’s appointments and follow-up care. But no longer could I sit idle and let the summer keep passing me by. Today, I am looking forward to unplugging — not checking my phone a zillion times (maybe just once or twice), answering emails, or replying to texts.

With any luck, a day in the sun — removed from technology — will help me recharge my batteries and kick start my weekend. The beach and a good book are just how I like to spend my summer days, and I often wonder why I don’t make more time to do such simple things.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, filled with good weather and the time you need to feel rested and recharged!

Wednesday Wanderings

This summer is going by way too fast (who’s with me?). I feel like I say this a lot, but the last couple of weeks have been a complete blur; and seeing my calendar read the middle of a July is making me sad. The nice weekend weather has me wanting to be out as much as possible, but come Monday I am beyond exhausted. Needless to say, I have neglected a few (okay, most) of my adult responsibilities like laundry, emails, grocery shopping, and cooking. I keep reminding myself that it is all for a good cause, though.

So, here’s how I’ve been occupying my precious summer days the past couple weeks:

West Neck Beach

{Beach Time!}

Flowers

{Pretty Flowers}

Dessert

{Afternoon Dessert}

Dressage at Old Field Farm

{Dressage at Old Field Farm}

Ice Cream Sandwich

{DIY Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich}

How are you spending the summer?

Summer Fitness

Kickboxing

If there is one thing I love more than summer, it’s all the sweet treats that the season brings. Take one look at my Instagram and you would know that I have been indulging in gooey chocolate chip cookies, sinful pudding, and homemade ice cream sandwiches. And while I’ve enjoyed eating all the sweet stuff, I also feel like I should be working out extra hard to burn it off.

I recently took up kickboxing and love the workout. The class is the hardest thing I have ever done and tests my endurance (which is seriously lacking). But during my last class I noticed that I’ve gotten much stronger and less winded. Don’t get me wrong, the class is still intense, but now I don’t feel like I’m going to have a heart attack after 15 minutes of rigorous exercise. After taking a two-week hiatus to enjoy the summer I need to up my fitness game — in the form of an additional evening kickboxing class this week (yikes!).

The only problem with this idea is that I’m still sore from the last kickboxing class. So, here are a few of my tips if you find yourself facing a similar workout quandary.

Try to work different muscles: Like, the ones that aren’t sore! Thankfully, my instructor is good at varying the class. My arms are still feeling all the bag work we did the other day, but they are noticeably less sore than my shoulders and abs. My plan for the next class is to work more on my kicks, if possible.

Rest up during the day: I like to take a two-mile walk on my lunch break, but since I will be doing this class after work, and probably will be tired to start with, I’m going to limit my daily activities before the class to working and eating. With any luck, this will help my body be ready come evening.

Stay hydrated: I tend to get headaches after vigorous exercise — and this happens frequently after kickboxing if I get dehydrated. To combat this, I’ve started drinking lots of water in the morning before my class and I make sure to drink throughout the day. Bringing along a frozen water bottle has helped and allows me to get a few sips in during an intense class (it melts nicely in the hot dojo, giving me a cold drink).

Stretch…stretch…stretch: I find stretching before and after a class very helpful, especially when I’m sore. I will be doing some extra stretching before the next class to help loosen up my muscles and avoid injuries.

Give your body some down-time: My second kickboxing class will be less than 48 hours after the first, and I’ve noticed that I am more sore on day two. After this class, I’m planning on taking the rest of the week off from any strenuous activity so my body can recuperate.

How do you stay in shape over the summer? I’d love to hear your tips for exercising when sore.

Hair Hopes

Hair Hopes

Every year I go through a phase where I want to change up my hairstyle. If you’ve been following along, you might remember that last April I chopped my hair off and donated it to Locks of Love. I was excited to have enough hair to donate, and was ready to don a shorter style. Well, now more than a year later I find myself pondering that same old question of what to do with my hair? My layers have grown out, and thanks to my daily dose of Synthroid I am convinced that my hair is thinner than it once was.

I’ve not so secretly envied (and admired) those girls who can go to the hair salon with an inspiration picture and a vision in mind and stick to their convictions once the sheers come out. But I am not one of them. I go in with the best intentions of cutting three, four, five, even six inches off and then I get scissor-shy and leave with a mere “trim.” I have been debating trying bangs, a look unfamiliar to me since I was a child, going for the ombré trend (are we still doing that?), or just finally embracing that short bob that I have always liked. Since it seems I am still a bit indecisive when it comes to saying goodbye to my long locks, I will admire those brave beauties who took the plunge and are living much lighter — until I can work up the nerve to do the same.

Guest Post: How to Find Your Dream Job (When You Don’t Know What You Want)

I’m thrilled to welcome back Elana Lyn Gross, who writes the career and lifestyle blog, Elana Lyn, to share more career advice. We’ve all struggled at some point with our job search and the right career path. And it can be hard if you don’t know where to begin. Elana offers great tips to get you started and advice to help you narrow down your options. I hope you find this post as insightful as I did. A big thank you to Elana for allowing me to share her wisdom!

How to Find Your Dream Job (When You Don’t Know What You Want)

Do you remember being eighteen and worrying that you didn’t have an answer when people asked you what you were going to do with your life?

Well it turns out that you don’t just decide on a career right out of high school or college and stick with it. According to a Forbes article, these days, you could end up having as many as fifteen to twenty jobs in your lifetime, and according to a Fast Company article, you could be changing jobs every 4.4 years.

So that means you could end up answering the question, “What are you going to do with your life?” more than once.

How do you know if an industry or a career path is right for you? There are so many exciting career paths and ways to use your talents. For example, if you’re like me and love writing, you could be an author, a professor, a journalist, a content strategist, a public relations executive, a lawyer, and countless other things.

With all of the available job options, how do you know what path to take?

I’ve been there. A few years ago I applied for jobs in a wide range of industries because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do—everything seemed interesting. It was easier to figure out what I didn’t want to do than what I did.

I started doing something I love “for fun”, and it ended up turning into a career I now love. When I worked as a paralegal, I started writing blog posts every weekend and scheduling them to be published throughout the week. My writing improved, I learned some marketing skills, and I promoted the blog on social media. It ended up leading me to make the switch from the legal industry into social media, marketing, blogging, and freelance writing.

I serendipitously stumbled on the right career path for me, but I now provide career advice about how other people can do the same (although perhaps more intentionally).

Here’s my advice for finding a career you love.

1. Lead with your strengths:

Write down a list of your top strengths. I recently read StrengthsFinder 2.0 for a book club at work, and the advice really resonated with me. Another self-analysis resource that can help you figure out exactly what kind of career and work environment will resonate with you is the Myers-Briggs personality test.

It’s possible that you could be good at anything if you tried hard enough—but shouldn’t your strengths be indicative of what you should be doing? Won’t you be happier (and better at your job) if you find a career that is suited to your strengths? I have taken both the StrengthsFinder and Myers-Briggs and found that they have helped me understand my values, strengths, and what I should look for in a work environment.

For example, you might think that you’re not a math person, but find out that you love using logic to solve problems. In that case, you might actually love something you’ve never tried, like code!

2. Evaluate your past:

Answer these questions about every place you’ve worked. What did I like the most and the least about the company? What did I like the most and the least about the company culture? What did I like most and least about my manager? What did I like most and least about the people I worked with? What was the most challenging thing about working there? When was I the happiest or the proudest? What was my biggest accomplishment? What did I like the most and the least about my responsibilities?

Your answers will help you clarify what you liked most and least about previous workplaces so that you can look for similar or different characteristics in the future.

You don’t have to keep doing the kind of work you’ve always done, but you can analyze your past work to figure out exactly what you liked, what you didn’t like, and what situations bring out your best work and happiest self.

3. Talk to as many people as possible:

Talk to as many people as possible. Go on informational interviews and learn about their career paths and advice. Ask about their job, industry, and professional aspirations. Always come with questions in advance so that you get the most out of the meeting or phone call as possible.

And don’t limit yourself to people you know or are connected to in some way. Go on LinkedIn and read people’s job descriptions or go online and read interviews and articles about people you admire.

Before you set your heart on a career, or completely rule it out, make sure you find out what the job is like on the day-to-day.

4. Take classes and try something new:

Take classes, attend workshops, read books, watch countless YouTube tutorials, and try something new. You may find out that you’re passionate about coding, website design, graphic design, writing, or something else entirely. Technology makes it so easy to learn new skills. A new hobby can lead to an entirely new career like it did for me.

5. Consider the type of work environment where you will thrive:

Are people competitive with one another or collaborative? Are they friends outside of the office? Is the company hierarchical or flat? Do you work as a team or work primarily on your own? Is there a great deal of red tape or will you have the power to make decisions and move quickly? Can people work from home or are they expected to work in the office? What is the work-life balance like? What are your salary expectations?

Think about the type of work environment that will be a good fit for you and the lifestyle you hope to have. And if you aren’t sure, try taking up some work on the side to help you decide. If you work in a collaborative office, try doing some solo freelancing. If you spend your workdays by yourself, why not work on a collaborative project on the side? (Tip: coding projects are great for group work!)

6. Do what makes you happy:

People gave me two great pieces of advice when I was considering the right career path for me. One was to think about what you do “for fun,” and what you love so much that you’d be willing to do it for free.

The other was a piece of advice from my dad. He said that you shouldn’t necessarily choose the most “prestigious” job just so you could impress people at cocktail parties. Instead of choosing the most “impressive” offer—something I had been prone to do in the past—choose the one that will make you happiest and allow you to grow and learn.

This post is by Elana Lyn Gross and it was originally published on Skillcrush. Images are from PB Teen‘s Blog.

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}