CaseApp Contenders

Can we chat about CaseApp for a second? Last year, I designed my first iPhone case with CaseApp, a company that allows you to create your very own custom phone case or laptop skin. So I was delighted when CaseApp reached out to collaborate with me again on another venture.

My design premise for my new iPhone case was simple. Since I declared 2017 the year of resilience, I thought my case should reflect one of my favorite words or phrases—perhaps a mantra or something empowering.

CaseApp makes the design process so fun and easy that I went a little overboard and came up with not one or two case options…but three (actually—there were even more than that—but I narrowed the would-be contenders down).

There is a tough choice to be made and I need your help to make a decision. Since I can’t decide which design to pick, I am letting you—my lovely, loyal readers—weigh in. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section on which of the three designs below I should select. I will share the winner with you as soon as I receive the case from CaseApp.

Thanks in advance for helping a girl out. I can’t wait to see which design makes the cut!

Work Like a Boss - CaseApp

{Option 1: Work Like a Boss}

Like a Boss

{Option 2: Like a Boss}

Hustle - CaseApp

{Option 3: #Hustle}

Rest, Relaxation…and a Recap

I hope you are all enjoying the long weekend. Today I’m sharing a quick Instagram recap (you can follow me at @livinginsteil). See you back here on Wednesday!

Tumbler from Nordstrom Rack

{Looking forward to using my new tumbler from the Nordstrom Rack}

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Hearts

{Snacking while I work}

New Workout Pants

{New workout pants for the win!}

Cannoli

{The right way to serve a cannoli}

Saturday Snow

{Some unexpected accumulation on a Saturday}

The Ins and Outs of InDesign at the Art League of Long Island

Exterior of the Art League of Long Island

You may recall that I mentioned I was taking an InDesign class at the Art League of Long Island last month (if not, you can catch up here). The class has concluded and I am now an InDesign pro—okay, that may be an exaggeration. But the teacher, David O. Miller, more than got me on my way.

This was my first class at the Art League, and when I began back at the end of November, I was unsure what to expect. I’ve taken graphic design classes before that have left me no better off than when I started. But I am pleased to say that David’s class was nothing like that.

Here’s a little about the class and my overall impression:

Duration
The InDesign class was broken down into four sessions, held once a week on Wednesday night. It ran from 7:00 – 9:30 pm, and to be honest, before I met David, I had secretly hoped that he would be one of those teachers that would shave off the last half-hour. But his gregarious personality and advanced knowledge of the subject matter made the class fly by. Thanks, David, for keeping us the full length of the class!

Class Size
The intimate class size was ideal. With only five students, it felt like you were getting personalized and individual instruction—which made asking questions and getting to know classmates easy.

Classroom at the Art League of Long Island

Computers
Obviously, InDesign requires the use of a computer—and the Art League had just the space and set-up for the class. Since I haven’t used a PC in years, I was delighted to see a room full of Mac desktops, all equipped with the Magic Mouse (if you are a Mac user, you need to get a Magic Mouse—it is, well, magical—trust me!).

Skill Level
I went into the class with a basic understanding of InDesign. When I started my new role in marketing last fall, I was tasked with having to update publications (despite never having worked in InDesign before). Thanks to a few patient graphic designers in my office (who answered all my questions), and a quick Adobe InDesign tutorial, I had just enough knowledge to open the program. David did a wonderful job getting us all up-to-speed and comfortable using the tools in InDesign, and even taught us useful shortcuts on a Mac (which I now use every day and have no idea how I lived this long without them). I would say the class is appropriate for a beginner-to intermediate-skill level with InDesign.

InDesign at the Art League of Long Island

What I Learned
I learned that you never stop learning…and that there is lots to know about InDesign….and that I may be slightly afraid of Illustrator (the next program I would like to tackle). In all seriousness, I walked away with a very functional knowledge of InDesign. To give you an example, one project at work was taking an incredible amount of time for me. I had to Google things like, “how to add a layer” and “why won’t this box move in InDesign” so many times that I grew frustrated. But after the class, all of the issues I had been struggling with seemed so simple—and the project that I had worked on for weeks was done and looking good (if I may say so myself).

Overall, this class covered everything from what each of the tools were used for (which is a good place to start), to all of the things that you can use InDesign for (like writing a book), to having us design a business card and flyer, and finally, teaching us how to package our work and send it off to the printer. Learning not only about the program, but what we can do with it, puts the whole application in perspective, and it provided a great stepping-stone to learn how to use other Adobe products.

Outcomes
Should you take this class with David, you can be sure that you will gain some degree of proficiency with InDesign. You may not be an expert (remember learning anything takes practice, dedication, and the desire to enhance your knowledge), but you will understand the basics. From there, what you do with the program is up to you!

Would I Take Another Class at the Art League?
The answer is an emphatic “Yes!” I am consistently impressed with the work the Art League does, not only for the community, but for artists who want to pursue their passions. The hard work of Charlee Miller, the Executive Director, and her dedicated staff make that all possible.

I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to take a class with David and get to work with the Art League. I swear, if they offered a degree program, I would enroll in a heartbeat.

Art Gallery at the Art League of Long Island

I looked forward to every class (despite being exhausted after a long day of work and way too many hours already spent trying to figure out InDesign). But I could feel a sudden burst of energy with each step I climbed up to the second floor of the art gallery, as I perused all of the new work being exhibited, and made my way to the classroom. The excitement of challenging myself to learn something new was palpable. And, hey, I was surrounded by incredible artwork in a beautiful building. It was the perfect environment!

If you are on Long Island, run—don’t walk—to the Art League. Even if taking a class is not on your agenda at the moment, life at the Art League is never dull and there is always something fun happening.

A big thank you to Charlee Miller, the Executive Director at the Art League, Annette Bernhardt, the Marketing Coordinator, who does a great job publicizing all of the exciting happenings on social media (follow the Art League on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook), and to David O. Miller, who made this class one of my personal highlights of 2016—and to whom I owe all of my InDesign knowledge.

How I Find Time to Meditate

Calm App Quote

Let’s face it. Despite our best intentions to fit everything into our busy days, there are only so many waking hours for us to get things done (unless you plan on sacrificing sleep—which I can tell you from personal experience—I do not recommend).

Since returning to the 9-to-5 life, I have found my days stretched in ways I could never have imagined. From starting my morning off with social media and blogging, then spending a considerable amount of time in the office, and finally ending the day with more social media, writing, and editing—in addition to all of the other adult responsibilities that I don’t need to remind you about—things like meditating have surely fallen by the wayside.

But in those hectic weeks, carving out some “me” time is exactly what you need to do. While finding ten minutes a day for mindful meditation may seem like a challenge, the restorative benefits are worth the sacrifice (I promise!).

I started using the Calm app on my iPhone last year—and then life got in the way. Fast-forward to a few months ago and I was gifted the app by a friend for my birthday (after Calm started charging for access to the daily meditations). Even though I didn’t spend the money on this app myself, this was definitely a worthwhile purchase.

Now, I use the app daily right before bed. On days that I know are going to be especially tight, I make sure I have my headphones with me and take ten minutes to listen to a meditation practice at my desk or at lunch. And if you are an early bird, listening to a guided meditation as you slowly wake up (and before your feet hit the ground) is a great way to start your day.

*Image via Calm

A Productive Start to the New Year

Don’t you just love the first week of the new year when you are your most productive self? I know I do. While my goals are still fresh, the start of a new year helps me also feel rejuvenated. Last week, I was my most productive self—both at home and at work. All of the things that I had been putting off doing, wanting to do, or needing to do, came together. And thanks to a sudden snow storm this past weekend, I had almost two full days at home to ensure I checked off everything on my to do list.

Sunrise Photography

{Saw my first sunrise of 2017}

Christmas Tree

{Said goodbye to my Christmas tree}

Kickboxing

{Returned to my weekly kickboxing class}

Calligraphy

{Found time to practice my calligraphy}

Snow

{Survived the first real snowfall of the season }

The January Agenda

Atlas Holding the World

Hooray! The first week of the New Year will soon be behind us. I will admit, it was rough heading back to the 9-to-5 come Tuesday, but with enough coffee, four chances to wear the nice things that Santa brought me over the holidays, and the possibility of some snow on the East Coast—we made it to the weekend. Congrats, my fellow cubicle dwellers and office mates!

The best part of this whole New Year thing is that we get to reset the clock in a way. Didn’t make healthy choices in 2016? You can do better this year. I’m still holding out hope that this will be the year that it’s announced sweets are their own food group and should be relished…but I digress.

So, if you are still going strong with your New Year’s resolution, you are to be commended. And if you have yet to make a single New Year’s resolution, have broken all of them six days into the New Year, or think you’re perfect just the way you are, cheers to your fabulousness!

Without further ado, here’s what I have on tap for the first month of 2017:

Do: One goal for 2017 is to save more money. I often wonder where my hard-earned cash goes, and then I look at the clothes in the closet, all of the makeup in the bathroom, and the Starbucks in my hand (#sorrynotsorry). In light of these vices, I recently signed up for my employer’s 401(k) where they offer a match. If there is one thing I feel strongly about it is not passing up free money—which is what you are doing when you fail to partake. As much as I might miss that 5% of pre-tax dollars that is being taken out of my paycheck bi-weekly, I know it is worth it in the long run. So if you work somewhere that offers a company match, take advantage of it. Yes, it might mean fewer lattes at Starbucks, but your inner Suze Orman will thank you—and you’ll feel good about yourself, too.

Go: Back to kickboxing, for sure! I’ve majorly slacked off in the fitness department (read: haven’t exercised since I was 29—and if you were paying attention, you would know that means November!). I am fully prepared for the first class to be as grueling as getting through this week was delightfully motivating without leaving me sore for days.

Buy: Ah, who can resist buying Christmas presents for oneself when you should be shopping for others? Now that the holidays are over, I have no excuse. But I just couldn’t resist picking up a new nail polish at this cute little boutique I stumbled upon. I’ve started paying more attention to what is in my beauty products, and have been eliminating chemicals where I can. One way I have done that is by looking for nail polish that doesn’t have the ick factor—as in, you don’t have to paint your nails with the window open, or worse—outside (like I do). So when I found “Like a Boss” from Aila Cosmetics, not only was I wowed by the gorgeous rose gold hue, but that it didn’t have that awful nail polish smell. I’ve had it on my nails almost a week now, but I have yet to report a chip. I’ll share a full review once I have more time to test it—but so far, I am impressed.

Read: My reading in 2016 picked up and tapered off in about the same amount of time. I was doing so well over the summer, and then came getting back into the swing of a 9-to-5 and my reading came to a screeching halt (sorry, Brené Brown, I still haven’t had a chance to get through your book). But since this month is Thyroid Disease Awareness Month, and in light of everything that is going on with my health (how you doin’, antithyroglobulin!), I thought I would make an extra special effort to read The Thyroid Connection by Amy Myers. As we get closer to my upcoming February testing, I will need all the help I can get in the thyroid department. Be prepared for a few thyroid-related posts to come your way this month!

What’s on your agenda this month?

My Word for 2017

resilience

Happy 2017! Are you ready for an exciting, fun, and fulfilling year? I know I am. I’ve seen and read a lot about setting an intention or having a word to describe the New Year, and I have to say, I much prefer that to making a New Year’s Resolution (which I know I won’t keep). While it is great to have goals for a New Year, you don’t need to wait until January 1st — you can start them at any time and it’s okay if they change or evolve. They should!

When 2017 rolled around, I got serious thinking about what my word should be. Of course, I tried to cheat and find some random word generator (you would think Facebook has a quiz for that, since they have one for almost everything else). Then I saw that Fox News suggested “flourish” as the word for 2017. Seeking something a bit more personal, I scratched that and did some soul-searching off the Internet.

The last six months of the road leading to 2017 was rough for me. With anxiety issues, new concerns about my rising thyroid levels, long periods of waiting for testing and answers, and starting a new job — I’m pretty sure the words I would use to describe 2016 would be more like stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, tired, and anxious. Obviously, not words I would like to see carried over into 2017.

I am aware that this year will have its challenges — but also its rewards. In deciding on a word for 2017, I wanted it to reflect my journey — where I’ve been and where I am heading.

Resilience was the first word that came to my mind, but it wasn’t until I read an email from a friend in which they mentioned how much they admired my strength that I knew it was my word for 2017. Resilience will see me through this year, will give me the courage to face anything that is in front of me, and will ensure that I do it calmly, with grace and poise. It will be what makes me get to the other side with a smile on my face and a gentle laugh, as if to say, “Is that all you’ve got?”

Yes, resilience was the word that I was looking for and an attribute that will accompany me on my journey in 2017.

What’s your word for 2017?

Farewell, Two Thousand Sixteen

Times Square, NYC

Well, friends, the time has come to bid farewell to 2016. It’s hard to believe that another year is coming to a close and that I am writing the last post of the year. As I have gotten older, it feels like time has sped up. One year leads into another, and sometimes if it weren’t for Facebook reminding me of what I have done in years past, I might not remember significant events.

I am thankful for every year — despite the high’s and low’s that may accompany them. Each year I learn something new and I grow as a person. So when we get to this time in the year where we start counting down the days until the New Year, I like to reflect on all that has occurred over the last 365 days.

Two thousand sixteen came with unexpected hurdles, challenges, and ultimately a renewed perspective that led to a stronger me. But I am grateful for each one of those struggles. Along with the year’s low points, like learning that my antithyroglobulin antibody levels have increased (indicating a possible recurrence of thyroid cancer) and awaiting instructions on further testing (which has tried my patience), came plenty of positive notes. This year marked a career change and a return to the 9-to-5 life with a significant shift toward a more hopeful and optimistic mindset. I’ve challenged myself to try new things, like taking an InDesign class at the Art League of Long Island (a full review of the class will be coming to the blog soon), and I have experienced some of the benefits that accompany daily meditation. This year taught me that my strength is more formidable than I ever knew, that I can conquer whatever is in front of me, and that my only roadblock sometimes is myself.

This year, I am avoiding New Year’s resolutions, given that they never stick. Last year, I vowed to eat better, become a morning person, exercise more, and limit my stops at Starbucks. Sadly, all of those things fell by the wayside — after the first week of 2016, no less! I have come to terms with the fact that I will probably never be a morning person (really, does anything good happen before 10 am, anyway?), that eating better will be a constant struggle, that sometimes I don’t want to wake up early on a Saturday and go to kickboxing, and that giving up Starbucks is not realistic. We will file these things under the “work in progress” category.

So, yes, this year has certainly had its share of difficult moments, but with each passing year, I get more comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone and standing in my truth. As always, I am grateful for this site and the wonderful blogging community, which constantly offers me support and encouragement. Creating content and having it resonate with you, my readers, is an incredible feeling. Thank you for all of your comments and engagement in 2016. I am looking forward to 2017 and being right back here on Wednesday, January 4th with fresh content.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year!

Christmas in the City

New York Public Library

{Patience and Fortitude at the New York Public Library}

On Monday, I finally crossed something off of my December agenda when I braved the crowds and visited the tree at Rockefeller Center, the New York Public Library, and saw store windows that were decorated for the holidays.

Since a lot of people were off on Monday, and the trains were running at an off-peak rate, the hour-and-a-half trek into the City was standing-room-only. Ironically, given how busy the trains were, the City seemed to be operating at its normal hustle-and-bustle.

City Views

{City Views}

The overcast sky gave way to intermittent drizzle and light mist, but the rain mostly held off and the mild temps (47 degrees) made walking many miles around the City comfortable. Of course, no stop in the City would be complete for me without visiting at least one university — in this case, two. I hit both the bookstores at New York University and Columbia University — just because it makes me feel like a college student again.

Gregorys Coffee

{Coffee at Gregorys}

Marimekko

{A quick stop at Marimekko}

After walking around lower Manhattan (and finding my way into a Marrimekko store), it was time for a well-deserved (and needed) coffee. I stopped at Gregorys Coffee, which I highly recommend for your morning cup of Joe. The reasonably priced coffee, coupled with the cozy lounge feel, made it a win in my book (it was so good that I later grabbed a second cup at a different location).

Ice Skating at Rockefeller Plaza

{Ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza}

Rockefeller Center

{Rockefeller Center views}

The Tree at Rockefeller Center

{The tree at Rockefeller Center}

This year, I got one of the best views of the tree at Rockefeller Center I have ever had (last year, thanks to SantaCon, all I could get was a brief glimpse as crowds of people ushered me along).

Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Window

{Saks Fifth Avenue holiday window}

I enjoyed walking past the store windows, seeing the New York Public Library at night with Patience and Fortitude in their holiday attire, and making a brief stop in Times Square, where the ball is ready to make its debut in just under a week.

Horses in NYC

{Horses in Times Square}

I’m so glad that I was able to close out the year with one last trip into the City and that I got to see all of the beautiful sights of the season.

Here are a few other glimpses of my day in the City:

Pastries at Eataly

{Delicious pastries at Eataly}

Max Brenner Chocolate

{Max Brenner Chocolate Bar}

The Tree at Radio City Music Hall

{The tree at Radio City Music Hall}

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and enjoyed some downtime afterwards. I’ll be back here on Friday with my last post of 2016, where I will share some highlights and reflect on the year gone by.

Procrastination, Presents, and Podcasts

It is probably fair to say that I am one of the last people to get moving on their holiday shopping (the perils of having a 9-to-5 job!). Yes, I will be doing as much shopping as one person can humanly do today — so think of me as you likely have your presents all wrapped under the tree and are spending your Friday resting up before the big weekend.

Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in my very first podcast with Ashley Jefferson from Post UnderGrad Life. The podcast is now live on iTunes (you can find it by searching “Post UnderGrad Life”) or you can listen to it here on SoundCloud. If you have free time this holiday weekend, download it to hear me talk about my career path, offer career advice to recent graduates, and share my top three tips that have helped me navigate postgraduate life.

Merry Christmas and happy holiday weekend! I’ll be taking Monday off, but will be back with new content on Wednesday.

Christmas Tree Envy

{Christmas tree envy}

Trader Joe's Snowman Cake

{A cute holiday cake from Trader Joe’s}

Cozy Fire at Honu

{Staying toasty over dinner at Honu}

Plaid Shirt from Gap

{My expression when I realized my new Gap shirt matched my Starbucks cup}

Red Nails from OPI

{Red nails from OPI}