Instagram

Monday Mantra: Take a Digital Detox

Social Media

As someone who spends a lot of time on social media, I’ve started to recognize how important it is to come up for air every once in a while. It’s easy to get into a routine, as I have, of waking up, scrolling through Instagram, browsing your Twitter feed, and perusing Facebook…all before you have even gotten out of bed. What’s worse, is that I have found myself scrolling through Instagram every chance I get—whether that’s in the check-out line at the grocery store or into the wee hours of the night (when I should be sleeping). So what’s a girl to do when you love your social media feeds, but really need to take a timeout? Insert the digital detox.

I’ve read plenty of posts on doing a digital detox, reaping benefits from it, and limiting your social media usage at critical times of the day, like before bed. Since we are bracing for a major snow storm on the East Coast this Tuesday (foiling my plans of having my scan done in New York City this week), I figured this past weekend was a nice time to take a hiatus from social media.

In the past, the idea of being “offline” for a whole weekend would scare me. Just thinking about all the posts and pictures I would miss makes me scream #FOMO. But after blogging for more than three years, I have learned that it’s okay to take a step back. Sometimes you need time for yourself or a little breathing space to feel inspired to post again. And that’s okay.

While I did post on Instagram once during my digital detox, I spent much less time scrolling through content. Rather than feeling like I was missing out all weekend, I felt free. I wasn’t tethered to my iPhone or trying to find the perfect picture to post, but I was able to enjoy my weekend and capture each moment with my own eyes…instead of my iPhone.

Now that my weekend digital detox is over, I am looking forward to jumping back on all of my beloved platforms (especially Instagram!) with a renewed appreciation…and perhaps some self-imposed time limits.

Tell me, have you ever done a digital detox?

*Image via PicLab Studio

Blogger Problems…Take Two

Blocked

I’ve been blocked! Yup, you read that right. Did you miss my comments and likes on Instagram over the long weekend? If you did, please accept my apologies. I was temporarily blocked.

Apparently, Instagram took issue with how many photos I was liking within the span of an hour (or a day). But what are bloggers to do when they have a lot of content to peruse and only small blocks of time in their day?

Fear not. After reporting the issue numerous times and even sending Instagram a note explaining that I am a blogger and not a spammer, it seems like my account has been restored. Phew!

My question to all you bloggers out there: Has this happened to you? And how do I prevent it from happening again? After this ordeal, I’m a little trigger-shy and have only been liking a few photos here and there—for fear of being blocked again. With working a full-time job, sometimes I will have 11 hours of content to go through by the end of my work day—which takes me a while and seems to be a cause for concern on Instagram’s part.

I will admit, it was nice not to be a slave to social media over the long weekend, and perhaps this experience taught me to take a step back and do without scrolling so assiduously. But I am happy to be reunited with my Instagram family after my mandatory hiatus. So if you have any tips to share with me on this subject, I welcome them.

And, Instagram, I apologize for being too like-happy for your taste. In the future, I promise to slow it down!

Monday Mantra: Inspiration from Instagram

I’ve heard a lot about the comparison game when it comes to blogging and social media. When you’re going through various platforms and you start scrolling through all of the gorgeous images of houses, places, and things, you may start to wonder, “Why doesn’t my life look like that?”

Lately, when I have been scrolling through my feed, I have found myself pausing more — but not to get a better look at a photo. I want to stop and read the text or quote. Often, the words are profound, resonating with me so much that I decided to take a screenshot so they could live on infinitely in my camera roll.

Today I am sharing the words I’ve found while scrolling. I hope these words inspire you on this Monday as much as they did me.

instagram inspiration 2

{Image via @thecompanyinspire}

instagram inspiration 1

{Image via @laurenlearnslife}

worrier pose

{Image via @gemmacorell}

instagram inspiration 4

{Image via @talkthyroid}

instagram inspiration 3

{Image via @calm}

What are some of your favorite inspirational Instagram accounts to follow?

How to Make Your Instagram Images Stand Out

Landscape Photography

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I love photography — especially landscape photography. I took photography classes in high school (fun side note, my teacher’s sister-in-law was actually a famous photographer!), where I learned the basics of photography, such as how to do the following: make contact sheets, dodge and burn for contrast, and develop my own film and photos. Of course, this was all in the days before the iPhone (and selfies!). So it’s no surprise that Instagram has become my favorite social media platform. As much as I like to snap and post photos, I also enjoy following professional photographers, including a few with National Geographic and plenty of food and commercial photographers. I intend to create a separate post soon with some of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow.

But the more familiar I’ve gotten with Instagram, the more I have learned about what makes a good Instagram photo — and my photos themselves have improved. When I first created an account, I wasn’t even using hashtags (#gasp). I remember asking my former college roommate how you come up with good hashtags — and feeling confused and overwhelmed each time I posted.

More than a year later, I’m still learning about the platform as I go along, but here are some tips:

Use filters: When I first joined Instagram, I was completely against the use of filters. I still have a love-hate relationship with them, but I can appreciate their value with certain images.

Change up your filters: I’ve heard people say that you should be consistent with your filter use. I’m not one of them. While I understand it’s a good way to make your Instagram account seem cohesive, I tend to alternate my filters depending on what I’m trying to highlight in the image. Some of my favorite filters are Ludwig, Amaro, X-Pro II, and Lo-Fi.

Instagram Tips - Manual Settings

{Manual Mode: Before and After}

Play with manual settings: Don’t see a filter that works for you? Try adjusting the contrast, brightness, saturation, warmth, and highlights manually. This is a great option if you want to have more control over the appearance of the final image. I’ve been adjusting these settings lately, and while it may take more time before you can hit post, the finished product will be well worth it!

No Filter

{#NoFilterNeeded}

#NoFilter, #NoProblem: You’re probably thinking “didn’t she just tell me to use filters?” You’re right. I did. But sometimes the natural beauty of an image can be overshadowed with filters and manipulation. And when that happens, I choose to tag my image #nofilter or #nofilterneeded to let the photo speak for itself. The shot above is one of my favorites. It was taken during a photo shoot on the beach last March (in 46-degree weather). I love how the colors all seem to blend together and resemble more of a painting than a photograph. When it came time to post it to Instagram, I couldn’t justify using a filter. So I didn’t.

What do you think makes a successful Insta-snap? I’d love to hear some of your Instagram tips!

Treats, Throwbacks, and Thanksgiving

Happy Friday, friends! This is the time of year that goes by quickly. Before we know it we will be ringing in 2016. But for now, let’s start to focus on Thanksgiving and eventually make our way to talking about gift guides – crazy, right? In just about a week I will be celebrating a birthday and sharing what I’ve learned so far in my 20’s. It’s been a great year and one of immense personal growth for me, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. There is a lot planned for Living in Steil that I’m excited to share with you.

Last week, after searching for Halloween pictures from my childhood, I came across a few from my equestrian days that really brought back memories. I’ve always loved photography and finding these photographs reminded me of the importance of printing out my images. While Instagram is great for sharing pictures, nothing beats having a treasured photograph to hold. I’m so grateful that my grandmother still had all of her old photo albums, and it was nice to go through some of the good old times with her.

I hope you all have a nice weekend!

Starbucks Red Cup

{The red cup is back!}

Little Equestrian

{Memory Lane: A 1st place ribbon at my first horse show}

Pumpkin Donut

{Finally found a pumpkin donut}

Fall Leaves

{Lovely Leaves}

Restaurant Week Dessert

{A dessert from Long Island Restaurant Week. More to come on that soon…}

Fall, Foliage, and Festivities

How is it the end of October already? While I’ve been loving all of the pretty fall foliage, the warm-ish days, my morning Pumpkin Spice Latte, and decorating pumpkins, this month has escaped me. In just a few days it will be November, I will have an upcoming birthday, and we will be talking about Thanksgiving and the holidays. Big box stores, don’t think I haven’t noticed your not-so-subtle hints about what’s to come!

But in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy these last few October days and Halloween (what are we all going to be?). I will slow down enough to watch the leaves that are changing right before my eyes; to take in those fleeting days where it’s chilly in the morning but warm by mid-day; and to start embracing fall!

P.S. I’ve teamed up with 6 lovely bloggers to giveaway a $120 Nordstrom giftcard! Be sure to check out my Instagram and follow the rules to enter before October 29th at 10pm EST. Good luck!

Fall Foliage

{Fall Foliage}

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

{Chocolate Chip Pancakes. Yes, please!}

Mossimo Plaid

{Mossimo Plaid from Target + Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick}

Starbucks

{A lovely greeting from Starbucks}

Fall Beach Day

{Fall Beach Day}

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!

Summer Snaps

Happy Friday! Why is it that the weekend always seems to fly by? Anyone else notice this? I’m excited to be taking my first calligraphy class this weekend with Scarlet & Gold. If you are into calligraphy, check out their Instagram account (and leave any tips for my first class in the comments below!). I’m looking forward to learning how to #writepretty and will be sharing highlights from the class on the blog soon.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Here are a few of my favorite shots from the week:

Monday Motto

{My Monday Motto}

L'Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Excess

{Hello…new favorite mascara}

Poolside

{Relaxing Poolside}

Flowers

{Pretty Petals}

Topshop Rio Rio Lipstick

{Matching my lipstick to my dress and manicure}

Follow me on Instagram to keep up with all of my musings!

Insta-instants

Happy Friday! I always look forward to Memorial Day weekend, which is the “unofficial” start of summer. This year is no exception. I am attending my second kickboxing class on Saturday (let’s hope I’m not sore for four days again!) and will end the day with a baseball game and fireworks. With any luck, the weather will cooperate and there will be some beach time and a little rest and relaxation over the long weekend.

I hope you all have nice plans and enjoy your three-day weekend!

Cherry Blossoms

{Beautiful blooms}

Do What Makes You Happy

{Sometimes happiness is a cup of Starbucks}

Trader Joe's Cinnamon Buns

{A morning treat on my favorite Anthropologie plate}

Kickboxing

{Think this will be me soon?}

Pink Punk Cosmo

{Pink Punk Cosmo from TGI Fridays}

Follow me on Instagram to keep up with all of my musings!