Month: July 2015

The August Agenda

The August Agenda

The summer has come, and it is almost gone. But it is still giving us a heat wave to contend with this week and one final month of beautiful weather. Let us not waste those precious August days, and instead let’s get out and send the summer off in style!

Try: New beaches are definitely on the list for August! It has been a long time since I have seen anything other than a North Shore beach (with lots of rocks!). It will be nice to explore different beaches on the Island and actually see a wave or two. Jones Beach is always a crowd favorite!

Read: I am looking forward to catching up on some magazine reading this month. Namely, my American University Alumni Magazine and the Long Island Pulse magazine’s 10 year anniversary issue.

See: The Long Island Philharmonics are performing at Heckscher Park in Huntington on August 8th. Every year I intend to go, but seldom make it. This year I have made it a priority and marked my calendar well in advance. Heckscher Park is the venue for great concerts, art exhibits, and theatre productions (this year is the 50th anniversary of the Huntington Summer Arts Festival). Events usually fill up fast, so make sure you get there early or put a blanket down to hold your spot.

Go: My summer just wouldn’t be complete without my annual trip to the Hampton Classic at the end of the month. Even though my horse show days are long behind me, there is something special about going out to Bridgehampton for the day as a spectator. Of course, the fun doesn’t start or end there. My morning usually begins with breakfast at Tate’s Bake Shop in Southampton (they have the best chocolate chip cookies!) and wraps up in town with some afternoon shopping and sightseeing.

And a day trip to Fire Island is also on the itinerary this month!

Do: Since developing a new found love of art museums, I will be spending the next rainy summer day at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn. Located on Long Island’s Gold Coast, the museum houses a permanent collection of over 500 artifacts.

I can’t wait to share some exciting news with you, so make sure you stop over on Monday for details!

#GiveGrace

#GiveGrace

I first learned about the Give Grace campaign after I took a calligraphy class with Scarlet & Gold, and started following them on Instagram. The campaign began after the owner, Megan Smalley, shared her story of infertility and failed IVF attempts. To help Megan and other families who have faced this issue, Scarlet & Gold has created a line of beautiful prints and gold temporary tattoos to raise money and start a conversation about this cause.

As someone who has dealt with my own health issues, I know all too well how alone one can feel when going through personal tragedy. It’s easy to become withdrawn and isolated from friends, perceiving those who don’t say or act a certain way as not being compassionate. Megan’s courage in sharing her story should serve as a reminder to give grace for what you have in your life and for those around you. After my thyroid cancer diagnosis I realized the importance of having my health, something I previously took for granted. Today, when I think about the word grace, it conjures up images of strength, resilience, and mercy. To give grace is the ultimate form of selflessness. It is an act of expression to show others in their time of need that you are thinking about them.

Megan’s story is inspiring. I urge you to read it in its entirety on Scarlet & Gold’s site and follow them on Instagram. Support their mission by purchasing a print from their shop, sharing what #GiveGrace means to you, or sporting a flash tattoo!

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.