Month: December 2015

Reflecting on 2015

As another year comes to a close, I wanted to thank my lovely readers for making my second year of blogging such a rewarding experience. It’s because of your support that I allowed myself to follow my passion this year — and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I’m grateful for the connections I have made through blogging and all that I learn from each one of your posts. Despite never having met most of you in person, I’m thrilled that I can share pieces of my life, and I hope some of my insight, with you.

This year was one of transitions for me — from venturing outside of what was my chosen career to slowly finding myself on this new path. What began as a creative outlet has given me something greater than I could have ever imagined — a sense of fulfillment and purpose. I find myself willing to sacrifice sleep (most unusual for a thyroid patient!) while I stay up late at night putting the finishing touches on each post, and rising earlier than normal to start my day and read all of your own blogs and comments. With each post I’ve published this year, I’ve grown as a person and as a writer. To me, that is the greatest reward I could have.

I’m excited to see what 2016 brings for both me personally and this site. I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year! I’ll be back with a new post on Monday, January 4th.

Here’s a look at some of my favorite posts from 2015:

Whiteface Mountain - Lake Placid, NY

{36 Hours in Lake Placid, New York}

American University, Washington, D.C.

{Life Lessons From My D.C. Days}

My Second Thyroid-versary

{My Second Thyroid-versary}

LOFT Jumpsuit

{Jumping into a Jumpsuit}

Old Navy Eyelet Strapless Dress

{Navy Number}

Hampton Classic Horse Show

{Highlights from the Hampton Classic}

Fishtail Braid

{Figuring Out the Fishtail Braid}

Evie Bag from Neely by VNB

{The Evie Bag from Neely by VNB}

Styling a Cape

{Styling a Cape with SheIn}

Catherine Malandrino Sorcha Over-the-Knee Boots

{Good Things Come to Those Who Wait}

What was your favorite post on Living in Steil in 2015?

How to Sparkle on New Year’s Eve

How to Sparkle on New Year's Eve

In just two days, it’s out with the old, in with the new! Now is the time to start finalizing those New Year’s Eve plans. And what better way to ring in a New Year than with a sparkly ensemble?

Since we aren’t trying to rival the Times Square ball, I’ve curated four looks for the evening that are sure to keep you celebrating in style. You’ve probably heard that rose quartz will have a major moment in 2016. So why not greet the New Year with a metallic version of this shade? This rose gold jacquard crop top can be paired with leather leggings for an edgy feel or with a black midi skirt for a more polished look. Whichever way you choose to style it, this top will make a statement long after the holiday season.

Sequin pants more your thing? These BCBG Max Azria stunners are sure to be the talk of the evening. Make sure to pair them with a neutral sweater and accessories so they can shine.

If a pop of gold is what you’re after, this rose gold top or striped glitter bodycon dress from Topshop are enviable options.

What will you be wearing to ring in the New Year?

Lessons From 2015

Lessons from 2015

We are coming to the final days of 2015. It’s always sad when another year comes to an end, irrespective of how good or bad it may have been. For me, 2015 will be remembered as the year that I went out on a limb and followed my passion. Isn’t it funny how one event can define a whole year? I’m grateful for all of my readers who visit this space daily and allow me to do and share what I love. I feel like I found a sense of purpose this year — one that is still being shaped every day.

As I reflect on the year, I’m reminded of epic fails (#sugardetox), exciting times (I won two giveaways — and I never win anything!), and milestones (2015 marked my second cancer-versary).

I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned in the past twelve months.

Nothing is worth sacrificing your health for: You know that demanding job that you dread going to and find yourself hitting snooze a zillion times every morning to delay the inevitable? I’ve been there. It’s not fun at all, but it may be doing more damage to your health than you realize. Constant stress can wreak havoc on your immune system and make you more susceptible to getting sick. Should you find yourself in a similar situation, adopt some coping mechanisms until you plan your exit strategy. Whether that’s doing yoga before you start your day, or taking a walk on your lunch break, inserting some “me” time can be a huge help.

You are never too old to follow your passion: A wise friend once told me that failure to act is just as bad as making a right or wrong decision. Think you missed your calling in life? Nonsense. You can always go down a new path. Sure, it may require late nights, learning a new skill set, or some sacrificing, but in the end it will be worth it.

Make yourself a priority: I don’t mean to sound selfish here, but make sure there is something in your day that is just for you. For me, that is my morning trip to Starbucks (sorry, Suze Orman!). It may seem silly to head to a coffee house when you can make it for a fraction of the price at home, but it helps me start my day off on the right foot. And when you find yourself working from home, it becomes more of a social outing than it once was!

Don’t skip the trip to the doc: In the past I have been guilty of missing visits to my primary care for an annual check up. With a new year upon us, and many making resolutions, it’s important to get a routine check up. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2013 when a lump was discovered during an annual exam. I was actually planning to cancel that appointment because I was busy with work and felt completely fine. I’m glad I didn’t! Regardless of your age, seeing a doctor once a year is always a good idea. And make sure they check your neck and thyroid levels!

I’d love to hear about your year. Feel free to share any lessons, accomplishments, or milestones in the comments below!

Holiday Highlights

Happy Monday! If you celebrated the holiday last week, I hope you had a Merry Christmas. My quiet Christmas was perfect. Santa brought me great presents including a new pair of pajamas, my favorite body lotions from Bath & Body Works, and lots of sweet treats. Over the weekend, I enjoyed evenings by the Christmas tree, which was just what I needed to feel rested and recharged.

Here are some highlights:

Holiday Mani

{Holiday Mani}

Christmas Morning

{Just a few of the presents found on Christmas morning}

Holiday Window

{How cute is this holiday display?}

New Pajamas

{Feeling festive in my new pajamas}

Chocolate Chip Scone

{Indulging in some post-Christmas sweets}

How did you spend the holiday?

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

The day that we have all be talking about — planning for — and creating gift guides around — is here. I hope you have your shopping done, presents wrapped, and meals planned, and you can just relax in the company of family and friends.

I, for one, am looking forward to some down time. These last few weeks have been particularly busy for me (as I’m sure they have been for you, as well). Add in a hard spill that I took ice skating the other day while pretending to be Katarina Witt, and my tailbone and I could use some couch time.

My little family has a simple meal planned, complete with a delicious dessert (which yours truly was in charge of!). We will exchange gifts and spend some quality time around the tree (the first one I have ever done with white lights, by the way).

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas! I’ll be back on Monday with some posts to wrap up 2015.

P.S. Should you find yourself in charge of the dessert this year and need something quick and easy, don’t forget about the Reese’s No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars that I mentioned here. They are a crowd-pleaser — and your guests will be impressed by your confectionary competence. Just be sure to transfer the finished product to a nice tray before serving!

The Last-Minute Gift Guide

The Last-Minute Gift Guide

We are getting down to the wire! For all those last-minute shoppers who enjoy the rush of adrenaline that comes with heading to the mall on the last day before Christmas, get ready…it’s almost go-time. But if you are reading this post and secretly cursing yourself for waiting until the very last minute — realizing that you have missed the final day to order online and have your purchases arrive before the big day — and swearing that you will never put yourself in this position again, then listen up.

What if I told you that by visiting just a few stores you could have all of your Christmas shopping done? You can. Have a Nordstrom Rack, Target, Anthropologie, Starbucks, and Ulta near you? Great! You’re all set.

The Nordstrom Rack has great gifts for everyone on your list (like this initial circle pendant necklace). I could have done all of my shopping in that one store alone when I was there over the weekend. Oh, wait. I did!

Above, I’ve rounded up last-minute gift ideas that will help you out. With any luck, you’ll find them in a store near you — just in time for the holidays.

If you still need more inspiration, check out these gift guides for her, him, the host/hostess, and stocking suffers. Happy Holidays!

Shopping, Wrapping, and Celebrating

December has been a whirlwind. But my holiday shopping is finally done. See, it pays to procrastinate (sometimes?). I braved the mall on Saturday, something I vowed never to do after my experience a few weeks ago, but it was not as crowded as I expected. I narrowed down my shopping to a handful of stores and had a list all prepared (in my head). By 3 pm I was finished — gifts purchased, car packed, and in major need of a coffee or something sweet. Fortunately, IHOP was right across the street and satisfied my craving.

Now I just need to start wrapping everything…before Christmas Eve.

Stay tuned for my final gift guide coming to the blog tomorrow. And apologies for being slightly behind on responding to comments and visiting all of your blogs the last few days. I promise to catch up soon. In the meantime, here are some snaps from the weekend:

Shopping, Wrapping, and Celebrating

{How many should I “gift” myself?}

Shopping, Wrapping, and Celebrating

{A very expensive coffee machine or an extra from Star Wars. You decide!}

Shopping, Wrapping, and Celebrating

{This mug says it all….}

Shopping, Wrapping, and Celebrating

{Cinnabon French toast from IHOP}

Shopping, Wrapping, and Celebrating

{Finally, a truffle that’s large enough for a choc-o-holic like myself! PS – it was as big as a soccer ball.}

If you’re looking for ways to relax before the holidays, be sure to check out my movie night essentials for a cozy night in!

A Cozy Holiday Movie Night With Casper

Holiday Movie Night with Casper

Today marks the start of winter. And while it might not feel like it in certain parts of the country (ahem, the East Coast!), trees still need to be decorated, presents purchased, and fun festivities planned. So when the mattress company Casper asked me to share my essentials for the perfect holiday movie night, it got me thinking about a cozy evening.

We all need a little downtime before the holidays arrive. And if you’re like me and waited until this past weekend (as in, the final weekend before Christmas) to start and finish your shopping, then you may be in need of a movie night as well. Go ahead, treat yourself!

Holiday Movie Night with Casper

My perfect holiday movie night consists of the following:

My favorite mug & and a warm beverage: The gold initial mug from Anthropologie is the perfect seasonal option for holding my beverage of choice. While I love my White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks, I turn to the soothing Trader Joe’s pomegranate white tea when I want to relax in the evening.

Holiday Movie Night with Casper

Warm layers: I’m not a cold weather person by any means, but I get excited when it comes time to layer up. Even when I’m in the house, I get comfortable and stay warm with my long cardigan from LOFT or a chunky sweater from Mossimo. They make an evening in bed with your favorite treat and movie seem that much more indulgent.

Cozy throw (and of course, an equally comfy mattress!): You can’t have a movie night without either of these, right? My Restoration Hardware throw is a winter staple and accompanies me when I’m relaxing on the couch, while I’m working from bed, or of course, when watching a movie.

Holiday Movie Night with Casper

A sweet treat: As any good choc-o-holic knows, a night in is not complete without something sweet. My favorite combination any time of year is chocolate and peanut butter. So why not throw a Reese’s No-Bake Peanut Butter Bar into the mix? This easy dessert takes no time at all, requires no baking skills, and needs few additional ingredients. Everything you need comes in the box, including a handy tray to prepare it all. After it’s chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes, your movie night is ready to begin.

Holiday Movie Night with Casper

All that’s left is a classic movie! Whether you opt for It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, or my personal favorite, A Christmas Carol (the best is the 1984 version starring George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge), you have all you need to spend a quiet evening indoors while embracing the holiday season.

What are you waiting for? Visit Casper to create your own checklist (and maybe gift yourself a new mattress this year). However you decide to spend the last few days before the holidays this week, remember to take some time out to unwind with all of your essentials that make you feel cozy at home.

Thank you, Casper, for creating my personalized holiday movie night checklist!

You Know You’re a Blogger When…

Southdown Coffee

You find marble cutting boards to use for photo shoots (which you will never use for actual cooking because they’re too pretty) and buy not one…but two. Not only do you shriek in delight upon finding said purchase, but you feel giddy after spotting a small chip in one. You ask for a discount.

You spend your day at home in sweatpants, but promptly get dressed and do your hair and makeup just so you can upload a photo to Instagram…even though you have nowhere to go.

You end sentences with hashtags. #enoughsaid

You ask yourself before buying something, “Can I put this on the blog?”

You take too many selfies with the infamous Anthropologie initial mug and the red cup from Starbucks. #guilty

You go to an event or eat at a new restaurant just so you can post a photo or write a review on your blog.

You’ve written numerous gift guides for the holidays, but have yet to start shopping yourself.

If you are still questioning your blogger status, this hilarious Instagram Husband video may hold the answer. Should you (or your significant other, family, or friends) find yourself nodding in agreement, then you my friend, are a blogger!

Does this sound familiar?

A Day at the Beach…in December

West Neck Beach

I never thought that I would be posting photos from my recent trip to the beach…in December. But that’s just what we have here today. If you are fortunate enough to live somewhere that has been enjoying record highs, then you’ll agree that it has been amazing. If you’ve already seen snow, broken out your winter coat, or had to wait for your car to defrost, then my apologies for parading these sunny beach pictures in front of you.

We will likely not have a white Christmas this year on the East Coast. But I’d like to think that the recent record temps have come because I finally broke down and purchased a new winter coat this year…that I might not get to wear. You can thank me now!

West Neck Beach

West Neck Beach

West Neck Beach

West Neck Beach

Have you been enjoying this gorgeous weather?