Life

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Are any of you sniffling and coughing at this time of year, even though it’s past cold season? I spent most of the week struggling to fend off brutal allergies, but by week’s end, it was clear that I had lost the battle. In the interest of getting over this now cold with some degree of alacrity, I stocked up on all of the essentials: Emergen-C and Trader Joe’s turmeric and ginger tea.

Here’s hoping that I don’t have to scrap my plans of attending the Dan’s Paper Taste of Summer — Rosé Soirée event on Sunday and that I am well enough to enjoy my time in the Hamptons by then.

I’ll be taking a long weekend around here, so I’ll back with a new post on Wednesday. I hope you all have a happy and safe Memorial Day!

If you can dream it, you can do it

{Wise words}

Acai Smoothie Bowl

{My first smoothie bowl, courtesy of a kind co-worker}

Credo Beauty

{Found my new favorite foundation at Credo Beauty. Blog post coming soon!}

Shake Shack

{Couldn’t resist at stop at Shake Shack}

NYC Humor

{A little New York City humor}

The Solstreet Pop-Up Market

Solstreet Co Pop Up 1

On Saturday, I attended the Solstreet pop-up market at Pourt Café in New York City. The café and workspace on the Lower East Side was the perfect venue for local artisans to showcase their unique creations. From handmade greeting cards to natural soap made in Sleepy Hollow, New York, there was plenty to see…and buy.

My fellow Long Island blogger and friend, Kate of Taffeta & Tulips joined me, and together we had a great time shopping and catching up.

Solstreet Co Pop Up 9

Kate and I enjoyed a coffee at Pourt before heading into the pop-up market, which was conveniently located in the back of the café. We chatted with each of the vendors as we made our way through the cozy space. It was a wonderful way to be introduced to new-to-us vendors, and I am looking forward to seeing more events like this one from Solstreet in the future.

Here are some of the vendors we saw:

Solstreet Co Pop Up 2

Solstreet Co Pop Up 3

Solstreet Co Pop Up 4

Solstreet Co Pop Up 5

Solstreet Co Pop Up 6

Solstreet Co Pop Up 7

Solstreet Co Pop Up 8

Ready for the Weekend

Some weeks are just harder than others. This was a hard one. From starting the week off with learning that I would need further treatment with radioactive iodine to breaking the heel on my favorite pair of Vince Camuto shoes right when I got to the office (and was already running 30 minutes late, mind you), the only thing that made this week tolerable was that it felt like summer outside. That small consolation kept me going as I struggled to hold it all together through the work day and found solace each afternoon in resuming my daily walks around the neighborhood.

While each day seemed to bring a new challenge, I reminded myself that this too shall pass. I hope you all had a good week, enjoyed the summer-like weather, and are as excited as I am to kick off the weekend!

Here’s a round up from my week:

Anthropologie

{My new mantra for 2017}

Flowers2

{Beautiful flowers at my local Starbucks}

Donuts

{Donuts make everything better}

Spring

{Even the birds are loving this warm weather}

Spring Sunset

{My first sunset capture of the season}

Life Lately

Flowers

We all need a break from time-to-time. While taking a day off from our day job may not always be feasible, enjoying a respite from our side-hustle should be. After the weekend, I felt like I needed a break. I had a great post planned to start the week, but when I got home Sunday evening to write it, nothing flowed. A couple of years ago, I would have forced myself to sit and write something…anything…just not to miss one of my scheduled posting days. But, honestly, who wants to read something that doesn’t come from the heart, and has no soul? I value your time and this space too much to publish just for the sake of putting something out there. So, I hope you will excuse Monday’s absence and understand my need for a respite.

If you have been following along on Instagram Stories this week, you may have seen me talking about my recent appointment with my endocrinologist. I appreciate all of the well wishes and prayers that you sent my way on social media, so I feel that it is only appropriate that I share the outcome of the appointment here.

After almost six months of blood work, neck ultrasounds, and treks into New York City for follow-ups, my antithyroglobulin levels remain elevated. Weeks earlier, I had hopes that despite a modest 50 point decrease from my February numbers, we could stay the course and keep up our watchful waiting approach. But after my appointment with my endocrinologist on Monday, a new course of action has been prescribed. Next week, I will have a consultation with a radiation oncologist at a hospital closer to my home, and will likely have an I-131 whole body scan performed, followed by a dose of radioactive iodine. Since my surgery in 2013, I had been resistant to undergoing radioactive iodine treatment, but given the length of time that my numbers have been elevated, and on the recommendation of my endocrinologist, I have decided to pursue this option.

I never imagined that I would be making this decision. For the last four years, my numbers had been steadily trending downward—which is a good sign after surgery. I can still recall the sheer shock that overcame me when I opened the results of my blood work from November 2016 and saw that my antithyroglobulin level was more than double what it should have been. That was the beginning of this setback and I am finally ready to write the ending and close the chapter.

The last six months of waiting, wishing, and wondering have taken a toll on me—even if I have tried to suffer privately. These months have reminded me that despite my best efforts to push unsettling news aside, sometimes you need to tackle things head-on—especially when they pertain to your health.

As always, I appreciate all of your support. It means so much!

Monday Mantra: Community Over Competition

Montauk Retreat at Gurney's

I had the best weekend ever! Fern Olivia’s retreat at Gurney’s Resort & Spa was everything I had hoped it would be…and more. I’ll be sharing a full recap on the blog later in the week, but today I wanted to talk about the notion of community over competition.

The inspiration for today’s post came when I was tagging the photo above on Instagram. After spending the weekend surrounded by so many impressive women—who each in their own way embody the definition of girlboss—I knew the hashtag community over competition was most appropriate. Each time I attend one of Fern’s events, I walk away with a renewed perspective and new friends.

From yoga instructors, reiki masters, history teachers, to entrepreneurs, bloggers, and wellness influencers, each of the women photographed above is leaving her own mark on her respective industry. They have each found a way to turn their passion into a paycheck, and are more than happy to share their knowledge and connections with a newcomer.

As a blogger, I am always learning something new and I know that there is always something new to learn. That is one of the things that I find so interesting about blogging—and keeps me from getting complacent. But I also love the sense of community that is fostered through blogging. I have met many incredible women over the last three and a half years. Some have inculcated new knowledge; others have inspired me on my own journey (even if only virtually, and without even knowing it), but all have encouraged me to pursue my passion—especially when the road looks bleak. The community I have cultivated has supported me, made themselves available to me, and are my cheerleaders. For all of those things, I am grateful.

In the age of social media, it’s easy to get consumed with numbers, or to feel that you are only as good as a number. Number of followers, number of readers, number of retweets—you get the point. I have never been a numbers person…that probably explains why I wasn’t good at math. But to me, blogging is not a numbers game. Okay, fine. I used to obsesses a little over my stats when I first started out, but mainly that was to see if anyone was actually reading my posts. I began this site as a creative outlet and resource for people with whom I could share my own experiences. Therefore, I want it to be organic and relatable. And I want to be someone who is approachable and willing to help other bloggers when they are standing where I was three and half years ago. To the women I met at the retreat, I was a blogger who was there to share a day of wellness with them. They weren’t concerned with my numbers, but rather the energy that I contributed to the day and how I shared the space with them. It’s not the number of photos I posted on Instagram, but rather the discussions we had throughout the day that I hope they will remember.

So when I am fortunate enough to attend one of Fern’s events, it reaffirms my belief that in doing what we love, we are all building our own communities. And in building your own community, you never know how you can help someone else build theirs.

What does community mean to you?

The May Agenda

Flower

On Long Island the flowers are blooming, the weather is getting warmer, and the sound of the ice cream truck coming down the block has become a nightly occurrence. I know that we are on the way to summer now, and I can hardly contain my excitement.

This month may not have started off the best—with an external Internet cable wire getting accidentally snipped (let’s just blame it on yard work, shall we?). Just one night sans Internet begs the question, how did we ever survive before it? Then again, when you are trying to run a blog, having a functional Internet connection is an important cost of doing business. But all is well that ends well, and Optimum got me up and running in no time.

So now that my Internet woes are behind me (and I hope not to have to publish another blog post from my iPhone), here’s what I have on the agenda this month:

Try: By now, you probably have read enough posts on this site about Stila’s Stay All Day line. It’s true—I love it—except when the weather starts to warm up and I feel caked under a layer of foundation. This is no reflection on the makeup, mind you, but rather a personal preference during the summer months to apply something a little lighter. Perhaps you’re of the same mindset? If so, then head to your nearest Sephora and check out Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation. I know…I know. You’ve probably read a lot of reviews raving about this product. And with good reason. As the name implies, the foundation is smooth as silk—and as light and weightless as they come. While the price point may not be budget friendly ($64 for 1 ounce), a little goes a long way. I’ve only been using it for about a week now, but I am very impressed with the coverage given how light the foundation is. And while we are on the subject of new beauty products, I’ve also added a NARS bronzing powder and MAC highlighting powder to my collection. I spy a beauty post in the making!

Do: I never would have thought to do a tour like this, nor did I even know one existed, but when I saw an upcoming New York City Underground Tour happening this month on Facebook, I was intrigued. Despite living in New York for most of my life, New York City and I are just starting to feel like old friends. And while I still walk almost everywhere I can (because the subway is just so confusing), this tour sounded like a great way to take in some New York City history—while perhaps gaining a better understanding of the subway system. The extensive two and a half hour tour begins at the Chambers Street Station and covers the old City Hall Station, Astor Place, and Grand Central Station.

Eat: I mentioned my new found love of RXBARs when preparing for my trip to Washington, D.C. If you love sweets as much as I do, you may have your suspicions about eating something that is healthy and actually tastes good. When I tried the RXBARs for the first time I was wary. There was something about the dates and egg whites in it that didn’t sit well with me. Then I tried the chocolate sea salt flavor…and, wow. It was delicious! While I would’t say it was like eating a candy bar, it was satisfying and sweet. This little treat is sugar addict approved!

Go: The wait is almost over for Fern Olivia’s retreat at Gurney’s Resort & Spa in Montauk, New York. If there were ever a week that I needed to head out East (Gurney’s is one of my favorite places and has the most incredible views) and get my relaxation on, it would be after this one. Well, you can still partake if you are in the Long Island area this weekend (May 5th – 7th; day rates are available, if you would like to attend for one day). While I can’t control the weather—and really hope predictions for rain on Friday and Saturday are wrong—this event will be memorable, complete with a well-come yoga session, followed by brunch, an aromatherapy and natural beauty workshop, and so much more. Click here to see the full schedule of events on tap for the weekend retreat, and be sure to follow me on Instagram Stories and Snapchat (@livinginsteil) for a behind-the-scenes look at the day.

See: If you just read the paragraph above, you know that I will be by the water this weekend. It has been a few months since I’ve stuck my toes in the sand, watched the waves crash against the shore, and took in the beachy sights. So, Mother Nature, if you are listening, could you just ease up on the rain this weekend? This working girl needs her beach time—even if it is only the beginning of May.

What’s on your agenda this month?

48 Hours in Washington, D.C.

Washington Monument

{The Washington Monument…at midnight}

While venturing to Washington, D.C. last week for work, I learned some lessons. First, anyone who spends considerable time traveling these days deserves a medal. I experienced a four-hour delay getting down to D.C., which resulted in an airline change (mind you, the flight is only one hour from New York City gate-to-gate). On the return leg, I endured a two-hour delay (where we sat parked on the runway awaiting further instructions from the destination airport regarding our departure). After these tribulations, I have no burning desire to head anywhere—unless Amtrak takes me there. But on a positive note, the trip made me realize how much I miss living in D.C. and all that the city has to offer.

Georgetown Waterfront

{The view from Georgetown Waterfront Park}

Now that I am home, I thought I would share some of the highlights from my trip. While I was able to make it to American University for a walk down memory lane, Georgetown for some shopping, and Dolcezza for two scoops of their delicious gelato, I was unable to stop in at Crumbs & Whiskers (perhaps I’ll have to book another trip to D.C….with Amtrak!).

The weather during my 48-hour stay was ideal. It felt almost summer-like, which was a welcome relief from the rainy conditions I experienced when I departed New York. Thanks to the warm weather, everything was in full bloom in D.C., which made for great photo ops.

Washington DC 1

Georgetown 2

Washington DC 4

Despite the travel snags, my time in the District was much needed, and I feel like I came home to New York with a renewed perspective.

Here’s a quick recap:

Hotel Room Views

{The view from my hotel room}

Daniel Webster

{Statue of Daniel Webster—Dupont Circle}

American University 2

{Welcome to The American University!}

American University 1

{My old study buddy at AU—right outside my dorm}

American University 3

{McKinley Building—one of my favorites at AU}

Washington DC 3

{Even the doors get in on the political action in D.C. LOL!}

Dean & Deluca

{Capitol Cookie at Dean & DeLuca}

Dolcezza - Georgetown

{Dolcezza—home of the best gelato in Georgetown}

Lunch - Georgetown

{Final meal in D.C. at &pizza}

How to Prepare for a Work Trip

DC Metro

I haven’t been back to Washington, D.C., home to my alma mater, since 2015. So, when a work event came up on the calendar, I jumped at the chance to head south and spend some time in the District that I once called home.

I haven’t attended many out-of-state work events prior to my current job, so I thought I would give a rundown of how I prepared myself—and what I will be packing.

1. Make sure your itinerary is set before you leave: This may seem obvious, but you wouldn’t believe all of the questions that I’ve pondered while packing. How will I get from the airport to the hotel? What if my flight is delayed and I get to the event late? I’ve even thought of questions like, “what’s considered an allowable expense when traveling?” I’ve always operated under the principle that it is better to be over-prepared than under, so I’ve made sure that all of my confirmations are printed out, in a safe place, and that the dates of my travel and stay are correct. If you use a different last name at work, such as a maiden name, make sure that you have the necessary identification in that name—and that all of your documents match up. Nothing could be worse than missing your flight because your ticket was under one name and your drivers license another.

2. Bring extra work clothes: Even though my trip to D.C. will be brief—and I know what I’m going to wear to the event—I still packed an extra set of event-appropriate attire. You never know when a sudden downpour (which is common in D.C.), could ruin your great idea of wearing those cute suede Vince Camuto heels with your black and white dress from Loft (yup, that’s what I’m actually planning to wear). Thus, it never hurts to bring a pair of black slacks along and a chic blouse.

3. Pack snacks: Work events can be fun, but they can also be tiring and stressful (read: leaving scant time for meals). I’ve learned to travel with granola bars at all times, and it is a must when I am going to be on the road for an extended period. I love Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Fiber Bars. They don’t have a tremendous amount of sugar, like others do, and they keep you satisfied. I recently tried an RXBAR in the peanut butter flavor and will be bringing those along to D.C. as well. With three egg whites and two dates per bar, they are almost a meal themselves.

4. Take your vitamins: You’ll need plenty of energy—and coffee—to make it through those 12+ hour days. Between time in the airport, flying, and then hitting the ground running, I always travel with a few packets of Emergen-C. Not only are they great for immune support, which you may need after flying, but with tons of B vitamins, they’ll keep you going strong. I’ll also be bringing a bag of Healthy Delights B-12 soft chews for times when I don’t have water handy (and cannot drink an Emergen-C). Packed with 2,500 mcg and tasting like a Starburst, it’s hard to stop at just one little gummy.

5. Explore (if time permits): Even though I lived in D.C., each time I go back I notice all of the changes that have taken place since I left. It’s interesting to see how neighborhoods have developed over time, but I am looking forward to returning to some of my familiar places. In D.C., Dolcezza in Georgetown, Cheoff Geoff’s, and Z Burger, are all tried and true favorites. On this visit, I hope to check out the cat cafe, Crumbs & Whiskers, and would love to hit up The Spy Museum, if there is time.

How do you prepare for a work trip?

Since I will be traveling, there will not be a post up this Friday. I hope you all have a great rest of the week and weekend!

Spring at Old Westbury Gardens

Old Westbury Gardens 9

This spring, I want to get out and explore all of the gems that are in my own backyard on Long Island. And that’s just what I did over the weekend on a beautiful Sunday when a friend suggested visiting Old Westbury Gardens.

I’m not sure how it is that I have lived on Long Island this long and never visited this site. These majestic grounds are a must-see should you find yourself in Old Westbury in Nassau County, New York (about 45 minutes east of New York City).

For my history aficionados who may be interested in the backstory, the mansion was completed in 1906 by George A. Crawley for John S. Phipps and his family. The impressive mansion sits on 200 lush acres that include a swimming pool, ponds, lakes, and various gardens that contain an array of floral specimen.

I was in awe of the various colors I encountered while strolling through one of the gardens. Everything was so vibrant and stood out against the deep blue sky…well, you get the picture. If not, just take a look at the photos below to get a better idea of this tranquil setting.

Old Westbury Gardens 8

Old Westbury Gardens 5

Old Westbury Gardens 10

Old Westbury Gardens 3

Old Westbury Gardens 11

Old Westbury Gardens 1

Old Westbury Gardens 4

Old Westbury Gardens 7

Old Westbury Gardens 15

If you find yourself heading to Old Westbury Gardens in the near future, be sure to check the website to see what’s in bloom during your visit. And if you have time, schedule a tour so you can learn more about this amazing place!

The Weekend Recap: Spring Edition

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and a happy Easter (and you aren’t suffering the lingering effects of a sugar coma). The weather on Easter Sunday reached a record high (around 75 degrees) and I was happily able to break out a lacy yellow sundress. Here’s hoping the rest of the week is just as nice, and that I don’t devour all of my Easter candy in the next 24 hours.

Starbucks

{Iced coffee season is here}

Spring

{Beautiful Blooms}

Chocolate

{I think the caption sums it up}

Glow Fish

{These fish got their glow on}

Lindt Gold Bunny

{This Easter bunny is out and about}