Blogger Spies, Tries, and Buys

Blogger Spies, Tries, and Buys

Lately, I’ve been finding tons of things to add to my online shopping cart (ahem, I mean, wish list). Some of the items have seen a rapid status change to ‘sold’ (like the portable phone charger and the GiGi New York iPhone case), while others aren’t as pressing. Regardless, here are a few things that I’m currently coveting.

1. Kate Spade Portable Phone Charger: This isn’t the exact portable charger I got, but it is the one I had planned on buying. I’m not sure how I survived this long without one of these handy devices — given all of the time I spend on my phone. But now that I have one of these babies, I never leave home without it. And how stylish is this one from Kate Spade with the black-and-white stripes?

2. Ann Taylor Crystal Stacked Ring Set: Let’s add this item to the recently-saw-someone-wearing-on-Instagram-and-now-I-need category. I’m a huge fan of stackable rings and these look so chic. Plus, the price ain’t bad, either!

3. Formula X Nail Polish: I’ve wanted to try this nail polish brand for a while. But after Emily at Cupcakes and Cashmere posted about this coral color on her blog, the mad dash to Sephora to scoop up the shade is on.

4. RMS Beauty Master Mixer: You could say that I have become obsessed with trying new beauty products…and you’d be right. I’ve heard so many great things about this brand, and I’m loving the convertible lip and cheek stain — especially in all of the colors it comes in.

5. Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel: This product has worked its way into my skincare arsenal as of late, and so far, I’m very pleased with its gentleness and effectiveness. I have sensitive skin, and this soft lotion-like gel does a good job removing all of the makeup residue left on my face, while leaving my skin baby soft.

6. Denim Off-the-Shoulder Dress: This dress combines two of my favorite trends — denim and off-the-shoulder. Sadly, I don’t have a denim dress, so this is definitely a summer wish list item.

7. NARS Bronzing Brush: I started using the Laura Geller highlighters and realized that none of the brushes I have in my makeup bag seem to apply the products well. I’m on the hunt for new bronzing brushes, so if you have a favorite brand, let me know.

8. GiGi New York iPhone Case: This case (in the color shown) is on its way to my door as we speak. I’ve long admired GiGi New York’s products and decided it was time to upgrade my beloved Case Mate jeweled stunner (now that one-too-many of the stones have started to fall off). The best part of this purchase was being able to add my initials to the case and scoring the color that I wanted on major sale.

Montauk Magic Part II

The Surf Lodge

I can’t even begin to tell you how incredible the Montauk Magic Retreat was. First off, a huge thank you to Fern Olivia for having me for the day, Alyson Charles for making an amazing smoothie in the morning and for sharing her wisdom, and to Jacqlyn for ensuring a successful day for the attendees.

If you saw Friday’s post, I mentioned that I would be heading to the east end of Long Island on Saturday for a wellness retreat with Fern Olivia, the founder of Thyroid.Yoga. The day was both a transformative and restorative experience for me.

Montauk Magic Retreat

Montauk Magic Retreat

Montauk Magic Retreat

The morning began around 8:30 am with breakfast smoothies at a private home in beautiful Montauk. Alyson, a shaman and the co-host of the retreat, whipped up some delicious berry smoothies with avocado and cacao, while Fern served us a very healthy chia seed pudding. I’m no fan of avocado, but after one sip of the smoothie, I was sold! It may just be my new summer drink of choice. The morning smoothies proved to be a great time to meet the other attendees, all of whom welcomed me with open arms. After some brief conversations and getting acquainted with everyone, it was time for our yoga session at The Surf Lodge, a beachy hotel and restaurant on the water.

The Surf Lodge, Montauk NY

If you ever find yourself in Montauk, The Surf Lodge is well worth a stop for either an overnight stay or, at the very least, lunch at its scenic outdoor dining area. Its funky exterior and coastal interior will give you lots of cool decor ideas while you take a break from the summer heat.

Montauk Magic Retreat

For our yoga class, Fern and Alyson took over the outside patio area. The setting was ideal — the sound of the waves lapping in the background and the steady breeze made the July heat dissipate.

WTRMLN WTR

I’ve been taking a hiatus from my regular yoga practice, so I was thrilled to start the morning in such a rejuvenating way. I managed to secure a small piece of shade on the deck and laid out my colorful yoga mat. No detail was overlooked to ensure that we enjoyed the practice — including having refreshing WTRMLN WTR, a cold-pressed watermelon juice, and Supergoop! sunscreen on hand.

Our yoga practice began with chanting before breaking into a cat-cow sequence, moves that are beneficial for thyroid health. We also did a series of twisting poses, another fabulous way to relieve tension in the throat chakra.

Thyroid Yoga, Fern Olivia

Fern created a beautiful Morning Thyroid Sequence Book, which includes poses that are conducive to stimulating your thyroid, adrenals, and glandular system.

Montauk Magic Retreat

After getting our circulation up, we partnered with whomever was next to us. The exercise was for us to sit facing each other and to study the other person’s left eye — in silence. At first, it felt a bit strange to be staring deeply into a relative stranger’s eye, but after a minute or so, it began to feel tranquil and natural. The woman whom I partnered with, I later learned, also had a thyroid condition and we bonded over our similar treatment plans.

The Surf Lodge, Montauk, NY

The Surf Lodge, Montauk NY

The Surf Lodge, Montauk NY

As if the morning could get any better, after yoga we all sat by the water and took in the sights. The Surf Lodge has this incredible area in back with chaise lounge chairs…and even a swing. I could have sat there all day.

Grace Ajai, Fern Olivia Essential Oils

Fern brought her essential oil, Grace Alchemy, which includes rosehip, geranium, patchouli, and sandalwood, ingredients which are beneficial for overall health and healing. (Click here to watch Fern mix up my very own bottle of Grace Alchemy!) I’ve been using the essential oil in place of my perfume. The scent is calming and perfect for wearing during the day and before bed.

Montauk Magic Retreat, The Surf Lodge

The afternoon activities were just as enlightening as the morning session. Alyson led our group on a guided meditation to find our spirit animal, which is an animal that embodies our traits. I’ve been hearing lots of things about spirit animals lately, and I always wondered what mine would be. Now I know. Alyson did a fantastic job laying the foundation for us to connect with our animal. As she talked first about being in a meadow and then seeing this large tree, which led to a jungle, I began to feel an animal walk alongside me. It was large, powerful, and graceful. The more Alyson talked about the scenes around me, the more I could visualize this creature. It was fast and slender, but tender and gentle. Before long, it revealed itself. It was a cheetah, and it was both playful and shy. My intention for this guided meditation was to be given strength. And in my mind, there is no better animal for me to connect with than a cheetah. These large cats are majestic creatures that not only captivate you with their beauty, but also their speed, agility, and strength.

Montauk Magic Retreat

Our time at The Surf Lodge was ending and we were ready to head back to the house for lunch. But the day didn’t end there. Stay tuned for more about the retreat and what the experience taught me. Part III will come later in the week!

Montauk Magic Part I

Montauk Magic Retreat

What could be better than spending a day out in Montauk at a yoga retreat? That’s exactly where I’ll be tomorrow — at Montauk Magic, a week-long (from Wednesday, July 20th – Monday, July 25th) wellness event complete with morning smoothies, meditation classes, and a holistic guru (check the itinerary, as the events vary daily). To say that I’m beyond excited (or that my mind and body need this program right now), would be an understatement.

When I studied the daily events, I knew they were right for me. Finding out that Fern Olivia (who like me, suffered from Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, and is the founder of Thyroid.Yoga) was going to be teaching a guided meditation class on Saturday, confirmed that this was the day I wanted to attend. Actually, reading about Fern’s background and approach to self-healing made me think that there was some divine intervention at play here. If you’ve followed my thyroid journey, you know that I often feel tired and sluggish. It seems that no amount of Synthroid can improve these symptoms, which has led me to pursue a more holistic approach. So I was delighted to correspond with Fern, and I am even more elated to meet her in person and learn from her meditation class.

Montauk Magic Retreat

According to the website, the Montauk Magic Retreat has lots to offer — from chakra and aura cleansing to energy and card reading (all of which is new to me). If you’re on Long Island, I highly suggest you check this event out. Fern has graciously offered my Living in Steil readers a special discount code to attend. The secret code MAGIC gives you $30 off day and week passes for the retreat at fernolivia.com. Follow @fernolivia for all of the amazing classes and DIY organic essential oil alchemy bars and thyroid yoga classes she has popping up around Montauk and Amagansett this week!

Montauk Magic Retreat

In addition to the events, Fern will be cheffing the retreat with haute all-organic plant-based cuisine and a specially curated Thyroid Yoga-approved menu.

I’ll be sharing some behind-the-scenes happenings tomorrow. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (username: livinginsteil) so you don’t miss out on the action!

Meet Fern Olivia:

Fern Olivia

Fern Olivia Langham, founder of Thyroid.Yoga™, is a LA-based instructor and wellness expert renowned for her artful approach to self-healing. Through her own journey recovering from Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism, Fern Olivia combines her extensive knowledge of yoga, meditation, breathwork, mantra, holistic health, and plant-based alchemy into a one-of-a-kind integrative approach. She has helped hundreds of men and women overcome their struggles with thyroid and hormone imbalances and you can learn her practices on her brand new MindBodyGreen video course. Fern Olivia will take you on a journey to empower you to create daily rituals that will support your sustained health and vitality. You’ll learn about the root causes of thyroid symptoms, and how to self-heal using the practices of yoga, meditation, breath work, mantra and holistic lifestyle rituals.

In addition to her MindBodyGreen video course and one-of-a-kind Thyroid.Yoga™ membership-based practice, Fern Olivia leads meditation and yoga retreats and speaks on the topics of conscious communication, self-love, and healing at events around the world. Fern Olivia also combined her passion for plants with her love of organic beauty to birth Ajai Alchemy as a luxury apothecary.

Connect with Fern Olivia on Instagram @fernolivia and Facebook for powerful resources and inspiration, and be the first to know about her upcoming Thyroid.Yoga™ teacher training program in LA and Australia, as well as her life-changing retreats.

Upcoming Events:

Thyroid Yoga Teacher Training for Healers and Wellness Practitioners

This one-of-a-kind experience will be offered live at Ra Ma Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology in Venice, California on Friday November 4, Saturday November 5, and Sunday November 6. Fern Olivia will be providing streaming access on Ra Ma TV for those attending virtually. Receive more information here.

We are offering a limited number of scholarships to those who apply by August 1, 2016. Please contact love@thyroid.yoga to inquire about our scholarship program.

*Images courtesy of Montauk Magic Retreat/Fern Olivia

Thoughts on a Summer Thursday

Summer Sunset

This summer is going by way too fast…as in, I’ve only been to the beach a handful of times and it’s almost the end of July…kind of fast. While I have no magical way to slow it down (if you do, please hook me up), I realized something the other night as I was driving home after my evening kickboxing class.

I wanted to see the sunset over the water, but didn’t want to wait the 20 minutes or so until the colors would be just right. So in my impatience, I continued on the dead end street — prepared to just see a blue sky and some clouds. But what I saw was even better. The sky was this beautiful shade of blue that was beginning to mix with a light pink. From the dock where I was standing, the sky could have been a painting.

It was in that moment that I realized some things you can’t plan. You just need to appreciate where you are, what’s in front of you, and the moment that you’re in. The sunset that I captured was one of the best I’ve seen. Not because it was rich and bold, but because it was unexpected and serene.

I’ve had it all wrong this summer. I’ve been trying to live every moment to the fullest, but perhaps I’ve overlooked the small moments that will also make memories. The iced cappuccino I randomly stopped for at my favorite cafe, the slightly cloudy beach day that culminated in rain, or the trip I’ll take out East this weekend that just popped up. Those spontaneous moments are the ones you remember forever.

Since none of us can slow time down, I challenge you to live for those random moments in your day. Say yes to a friend’s offer of dinner after work or go to the classical concert you just heard about in the park. Those unplanned moments remind you of what life is all about — and they will make time seem to stand still.

July Beauty Buys

July Beauty Products

Few things in life get me as excited as when I receive a notification from Ulta saying that my order is on its way. Almost immediately, I click on the tracking number included in the email — even though I know the package has yet to leave the warehouse. When the UPS delivery arrives, I then run to the door and tear open the box like a kid on Christmas morning. That’s just what happened the other day.

Still on my hunt for the perfect lightweight foundation (#makeupgate2016), I scoured web pages and customer reviews until I found what sounded like my dream makeup — lightweight…paraben free…and peptide infused. Any guess what the mystery foundation might be? Drumroll, please.

Urban Decay Naked Skin

Let me introduce you to Urban Decay’s Naked Skin. We have a long standing history dating back to 2014 — when again I was in the market for a new foundation. That time I ended up with Stila’s Stay All Day Foundation, but not after endlessly staring at the Urban Decay Naked bottle in its fancy packaging. At the time, I needed a full-coverage makeup, and the helpful sales girl at Ulta was all but certain that the Urban Decay product would be too sheer for me. But after a couple of years of trying to rescue my skin, I was finally able to buy the product that I’ve been lusting after.

When I first tried the makeup, I felt both excitement and a sense of accomplishment wash over me. Not only had my skin improved enough that I could wear a more sheer foundation, but I was impressed with how quickly the product set and how beautiful the matte finish looked. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that a professional had done my makeup — it looked that good!

I haven’t been wearing the foundation long enough to endorse it, but so far, so good. Soon I will feature a post with tips on application and wear. As for the Laura Geller products, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to try all three of these highlighters (in smaller sizes, of course) for a fraction of the price of one full-sized version. What better time to have a gorgeous glow than in the summer?

I’d love to hear which beauty products you’re loving this month!

Find of the Week: Lagos Jewelry

Find of the Week: Lagos Jewelry

Over the weekend, I had a real #FOMO moment…although I didn’t realize just how much I missed out on until later.

A little backstory. This past Saturday, I received a text from a friend about a local jewelry store having a trunk show. The words jewelry store and trunk show are usually music to my ears. But if you follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (@livinginsteil), you may know that I have my weekly kickboxing class on said day (and some inside information — I’m usually not too productive thereafter). So we bagged the idea of venturing out to the trunk show on Saturday afternoon and decided to have a summer BBQ instead.

The day came and went, but I had the sneaking suspicion that we missed out on something good. With no hard evidence to back those feelings up with, I decided to browse the jewelry designer’s website. And there it was. My worst fears confirmed.

One look at Lagos Jewelry and you will understand the oohing and aahing that accompanied viewing each item as I perused their website. If you’re a fan of David Yurman, you best check Lagos out. I was immediately impressed with the craftsmanship, bold stones, and array of designs that they offered. Is it too soon to be making my birthday wish list?

The Caviar collection and line of unique turquoise rings, bracelets, and necklaces immediately caught my eye. But it was the stones in the pieces that had me sold — from Lapis Doublet to Abalone Doublet — these were some of the most exquisite colors I have ever seen.

I spent the remainder of that evening dwelling on missing out on the trunk show, but consoled myself with the knowledge that I found a new jewelry designer to love.

Summer Sweets

By now, you probably know that I love summer and that I love sweets. So, it should come as no surprise to you that I have been indulging in #NationalIceCreamDay since Friday (if you haven’t been following along, it was officially yesterday). Yes, I know, it is only supposed to be one day. But with temps and humidity as they’ve been, I thought I would stretch it out a bit.

If you’re struggling to get in the groove on this summer Monday, I hope these snaps help you and your sweet tooth hit the ground running!

Swirls and Twirls

{My first time at Swirls and Twirls}

Southdown Coffee

{Brunch before beach at Southdown Coffee}

Herrell's Ice Cream

{#NationalIceCreamDay Part I}

Cheers

{Cheers!}

National Ice Cream Day

{Still celebrating #NationalIceCreamDay…}

Follow me on Instagram and Snapchat (username: livinginsteil) to keep up with all of my musings!

Musings of a Blogger

Sag Harbor, NY

Today is supposed to be 91 degrees in my part of the world, which all but guarantees that I will be spending the day at the beach (catching up on emails and pondering blog topics, of course!). As another summer week seemed to whiz by, I’m left with a certain satisfaction of all that I have accomplished in the last few days. I finished each day with a checked off to-do list, new goals in place, and a decent sense of direction for the remainder of the month. So, I deserve a beach day, right?

Here’s a short breakdown of my week:

The week started out a bit rocky. After performing an upgrade on my iPhone, my beloved Calm meditation app (which I have been using daily for over two months) suddenly wasn’t free anymore. I loved my nightly guided meditation, so you can imagine how upset I was when I tried to use the app before bed one night and it was locked. Fortunately, I found another meditation app to take its place. I’ll soon be sharing more about my meditation journey and the apps I use!

I changed up my routine a bit and went to a Tuesday evening kickboxing class. Why is working out at night so much harder? Anyone else feel this way?

By Wednesday I was beyond sore, but mustered up enough energy to make friends with the new lawn mower, a Honda purchased from Home Depot. I admit, mowing the lawn is one of my least favorite activities (or it became one years earlier, when I was attacked by yellow jackets who had burrowed in the ground and were on the defensive after I mowed over their home! #grownupproblems). But this time, I felt a certain sense of achievement after mowing the lawn.

On Thursday, in an effort to reward myself for performing said manual labor mentioned earlier, I stopped at Ulta (you know where this is going) and picked up a new foundation and skincare products. Since I’m still hunting for a lightweight summer makeup, I did a little research before heading to the store. With reviews in hand, I made my decision and can’t wait to try my new liquid foundation. Look for a preview on my Snapchat and Instagram (@livinginsteil). A review will come to the blog soon.

And here we are at last — it’s Friday. I hope you all have a great weekend!

Fitness Fashion: Anthropologie

Anthropologie Laser-Cut Leggings

I swear my workouts are better when cute clothing is involved. In a post earlier this week, I mentioned that I purchased a new pair of Anthropologie leggings. I had been eyeing the laser-cut beauties (similar here) for quite some time, but couldn’t justify splurging on more workout attire.

Over the Fourth of July weekend that changed. I stopped at the mall to run a few errands and, against my better judgment, I dropped in at Anthropologie (which, if nothing else, gives me great decor ideas!). I have to admit, I dread browsing the sale racks — they’re in the back of the store and the room is usually packed with people grabbing at discounted pieces before your eyes can even comprehend what you’re looking at. But on this trip, I was in no particular hurry. My eyes immediately spotted the grey and coral laser-cut pants, and to my delight, there were two pairs — an x-small and a small. I tried on the x-small and they fit perfectly.

Anthropologie Laser-Cut Leggings

This purchase was one of the highlights of my Fourth of July weekend. I ended up scoring the leggings on sale for under $15. Just this week, I wore them to my kickboxing class and not only did they perform well, but I received tons of compliments.

This just goes to show that patience is a virtue…and it pays off when shopping!

L.I. Happenings: Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra

Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra

I love listening to live music, so when I heard that the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra was going to be performing at Heckscher Park in my old hometown over the weekend I was ecstatic. There is something about listening to an orchestra under the stars that just never gets old for me. Last year, I watched as the Long Island Philharmonic performed a classical rendition from the Star Wars soundtrack, and this year the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra performed hits from The King and I, Chicago, and The Producers. The Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra is known for delivering the latest hits from Broadway, television, and the movies, and they gave a great performance.

Heckscher Park - Huntington, NY

Heckscher Park - Huntington, NY

It was a beautiful night to be at Heckscher Park, blanketed under the stars, with some of my favorite tunes being played on stage. Nights like those are what summer is all about for me!