Long Island

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:


{My new mantra for 2017}


{Beautiful flowers at my local Starbucks}


{Donuts make everything better}


{Even the birds are loving this warm weather}

Spring Sunset

{My first sunset capture of the season}

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.

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Old Westbury Gardens 5

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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!

Brunching Like a Boss

Toast, Huntington, New York

If there is one thing that I truly love it’s brunch. Since I despise mornings, brunch is the perfect way for me to indulge in my favorite meal (that would be breakfast), but at a much more civilized time (like, around noon). So when I find myself sleeping in on the weekends, a good brunch is pretty much the only thing that will get me out of bed—and starting my day.

This past weekend was no exception. When a friend suggested going to breakfast on Saturday morning, I excitedly researched new nooks that I had yet to try. A quick Google search of ‘best brunch spots on Long Island’ revealed a plethora of options, but one menu stood out in particular. A few lines into perusing the menu at Toast and Co. in Huntington Village, New York and I was sold. Something about the sound of chocolate stuffed cannoli cream waffles made looking at other menus seem superfluous. I immediately emailed my friend with my executive decision and set the time.

The café-like establishment with limited parking and people waiting at the door made me think of New York City hotspots. I was starving, so I feared a long wait. But to my surprise, we were seated immediately. Having salivated over those chocolate stuffed waffles since the night before, I knew what I wanted to order. Still, the menu was worth reading, and it featured the standard brunch fare—eggs benedict, French toast, waffles. You name it, it is probably on their brunch menu!

Despite the packed house, the service was prompt. After we ordered, we sipped our coffee and chatted until our food arrived. The inside of the café was small and fairly loud, but the copious amounts of coffee and prompt service made up for it.

Chocolate Cannoli Stuffed Waffles, Toast

I could hardly believe my eyes when my food arrived. It was a good thing that I was hungry and ready to indulge. I’m usually not a huge fan of chocolate waffles (which might seem strange for a chocoholic), but the rich waffles combined with the creamy cannoli filling almost melted in your mouth. When it was time for a break from sugar, I started working on the strawberries and whipped cream that came with my meal.

Overall, I would visit Toast again. The service was amazing given how crowded it was on a Saturday morning, and they have an impressive brunch and lunch menu. If you are looking for the best of the brunch on Long Island, this place is not to be missed!

The Friday Five

Goodbye, winter. Hello, spring (even if it does feel like winter is still lingering in the shadows). After suffering with back pain for the last week, I sure am glad to have two days off and no plans. Here’s to spending the next 48 hours away from my computer, somewhat off social media, and most likely on the couch with a heating pad, binge-watching shows from the week. It sounds like an ideal weekend, if you ask me.

La Boulange


Long Island Spring

{Hello, spring!}

Spring Starbucks Cups

{My latest obsession: the spring cups from Starbucks}


{A cozy dinner by the fire}

Chocolate Mousse Cake

{The most #instaworthy cake there ever was}

The Ins and Outs of InDesign at the Art League of Long Island

Exterior of the Art League of Long Island

You may recall that I mentioned I was taking an InDesign class at the Art League of Long Island last month (if not, you can catch up here). The class has concluded and I am now an InDesign pro—okay, that may be an exaggeration. But the teacher, David O. Miller, more than got me on my way.

This was my first class at the Art League, and when I began back at the end of November, I was unsure what to expect. I’ve taken graphic design classes before that have left me no better off than when I started. But I am pleased to say that David’s class was nothing like that.

Here’s a little about the class and my overall impression:

The InDesign class was broken down into four sessions, held once a week on Wednesday night. It ran from 7:00 – 9:30 pm, and to be honest, before I met David, I had secretly hoped that he would be one of those teachers that would shave off the last half-hour. But his gregarious personality and advanced knowledge of the subject matter made the class fly by. Thanks, David, for keeping us the full length of the class!

Class Size
The intimate class size was ideal. With only five students, it felt like you were getting personalized and individual instruction—which made asking questions and getting to know classmates easy.

Classroom at the Art League of Long Island

Obviously, InDesign requires the use of a computer—and the Art League had just the space and set-up for the class. Since I haven’t used a PC in years, I was delighted to see a room full of Mac desktops, all equipped with the Magic Mouse (if you are a Mac user, you need to get a Magic Mouse—it is, well, magical—trust me!).

Skill Level
I went into the class with a basic understanding of InDesign. When I started my new role in marketing last fall, I was tasked with having to update publications (despite never having worked in InDesign before). Thanks to a few patient graphic designers in my office (who answered all my questions), and a quick Adobe InDesign tutorial, I had just enough knowledge to open the program. David did a wonderful job getting us all up-to-speed and comfortable using the tools in InDesign, and even taught us useful shortcuts on a Mac (which I now use every day and have no idea how I lived this long without them). I would say the class is appropriate for a beginner-to intermediate-skill level with InDesign.

InDesign at the Art League of Long Island

What I Learned
I learned that you never stop learning…and that there is lots to know about InDesign….and that I may be slightly afraid of Illustrator (the next program I would like to tackle). In all seriousness, I walked away with a very functional knowledge of InDesign. To give you an example, one project at work was taking an incredible amount of time for me. I had to Google things like, “how to add a layer” and “why won’t this box move in InDesign” so many times that I grew frustrated. But after the class, all of the issues I had been struggling with seemed so simple—and the project that I had worked on for weeks was done and looking good (if I may say so myself).

Overall, this class covered everything from what each of the tools were used for (which is a good place to start), to all of the things that you can use InDesign for (like writing a book), to having us design a business card and flyer, and finally, teaching us how to package our work and send it off to the printer. Learning not only about the program, but what we can do with it, puts the whole application in perspective, and it provided a great stepping-stone to learn how to use other Adobe products.

Should you take this class with David, you can be sure that you will gain some degree of proficiency with InDesign. You may not be an expert (remember learning anything takes practice, dedication, and the desire to enhance your knowledge), but you will understand the basics. From there, what you do with the program is up to you!

Would I Take Another Class at the Art League?
The answer is an emphatic “Yes!” I am consistently impressed with the work the Art League does, not only for the community, but for artists who want to pursue their passions. The hard work of Charlee Miller, the Executive Director, and her dedicated staff make that all possible.

I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to take a class with David and get to work with the Art League. I swear, if they offered a degree program, I would enroll in a heartbeat.

Art Gallery at the Art League of Long Island

I looked forward to every class (despite being exhausted after a long day of work and way too many hours already spent trying to figure out InDesign). But I could feel a sudden burst of energy with each step I climbed up to the second floor of the art gallery, as I perused all of the new work being exhibited, and made my way to the classroom. The excitement of challenging myself to learn something new was palpable. And, hey, I was surrounded by incredible artwork in a beautiful building. It was the perfect environment!

If you are on Long Island, run—don’t walk—to the Art League. Even if taking a class is not on your agenda at the moment, life at the Art League is never dull and there is always something fun happening.

A big thank you to Charlee Miller, the Executive Director at the Art League, Annette Bernhardt, the Marketing Coordinator, who does a great job publicizing all of the exciting happenings on social media (follow the Art League on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook), and to David O. Miller, who made this class one of my personal highlights of 2016—and to whom I owe all of my InDesign knowledge.

Welcome to the Art League of Long Island

Art League of Long Island - Exterior

This was such an exciting week for me. If you follow my blog, you may have noticed that I love featuring local organizations. As a Long Island native, I am always searching for events and classes to keep living here fresh and exciting. While the Art League of Long Island in Dix Hills, New York is far from a new venue, its modern building, beautiful Jeanie Tengelsen gallery, and incredible list of workshops and classes piqued my interest right away.

Gallery View LI Artists Exhibit Looking Up

It all began this summer when I was back on the job market after a year of full-time blogging. I was looking for a position that would enhance my newfound design and marketing background while utilizing the skills I gained from working in higher education. At one point in my job search, I visited the Art League and it left a lasting impression.

A Watercolor Portrait Demonstration at a Past Open House

Student on Pottery Wheel

Around since 1955, the Art League of Long Island is a not-for-profit organization that promotes art education to people of all ages through classes and events. One stroll through their impressive space will ensure that you return. But what sold me on the Art League was their array of classes. Interested in jewelry making, mosaics, photography, or sculpture? Or do you just need some studio space to pursue your craft? The Art League is the place for you.

Over the last few years my interest in graphic design has grown. Shortly after starting this site, I decided that I could benefit from taking an HTML class. I immediately did a search of the local private and community colleges in my area for a continuing education class, but never thought to look beyond that. When I first visited the Art League in the summer, I was amazed to learn that all of the classes I wanted to take were housed in one convenient location.

Fast-forward a few months, and I am now taking an InDesgin class with David O. Miller to learn how to create page layouts for print material. After my first class this Wednesday evening, I am hooked. David made the 2 ½ hour class (after a long day of work) a breeze, and I am looking forward to learning from him.

Holiday Fair 2015

The Art League hosts many exhibits in their gallery throughout the year and gives local artists a place to showcase their work. Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing more about my InDesign class and experience at the Art League. I also invite you to visit their informative website to see for yourself all of the wonderful things they have to offer.

P.S. If you are on Long Island, you don’t want to miss the Art League’s Holiday Fair this weekend, December 3rd and 4th from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Spend the day viewing the work of 70 fine art and craft exhibitors, and enjoy live art demos, music, and free hands-on art activity!

*Images courtesy of the Art League of Long Island.

Modern Calligraphy Workshop with Swell Anchor Studio

Calligraphy Workshop with Swell Anchor Studio

Over the weekend, I took my first in-person calligraphy class with Swell Anchor Studio, based in Patchogue, New York. I have long loved the art of calligraphy and could easily get lost watching clips of people “writing pretty” on Instagram. So a year ago I decided to try my hand at an online calligraphy class. It was a great introduction and I enjoyed practicing on my own thereafter.

Since I had no formal instruction, I was left to assume that the ink splatters on my paper when I tried writing certain letters and the drag I felt on the page were normal and would eventually subside as I improved. Still, it would have been nice to have some guidance as I progressed. I wanted to follow up with an in-person calligraphy class, and when Swell Anchor Studio (whom I had found on Instagram) announced they were holding a workshop on Long Island, I jumped at the chance to sign up.

I am glad I did. When I was thinking of something to gift myself for my birthday, I could think of no better present. Not only would I continue to improve my craft, but I would meet other local Long Islanders who shared my interest in calligraphy.

This was the first time I met Christie, the owner and calligrapher behind Swell Anchor Studio, her husband, Ian, and sister, Lindsay, who were assisting with the workshop. The class was held at The Dusty Attic, a specialty décor and accessory boutique right in the heart of the village of Patchogue. If you are feeling creative, definitely stop into this place for some inspiration (and supplies!). The space was ideal for holding a calligraphy workshop and it really helped me get my creative juices flowing.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

When I arrived, I was greeted with pumpkin spice cupcakes and autumn-themed mimosas. Yes, please! Lindsay made the pumpkin spice cupcakes, and they were out of this world. It’s a good thing there was not an unlimited supply of these delicious desserts or else I would have eaten them all (#sugaraddict).

I found my seat, which displayed a beautiful name tag that Christie created for each of the participants. We were provided with all of the supplies we would need for the session – ink, nib, holder, tracing paper, and a clipboard.

Calligraphy Workshop with Swell Anchor Studio

Christie worked on a small chalkboard at the front of the table as we watched her write each letter, first in lowercase and then in uppercase. She instructed us on which part of the letter should be thick and thin, and Lindsay walked around to ensure that the nib and holder were held at the correct angle. Once we were comfortable with the alphabet, we began tracing words that Christie had provided for us and she talked about how and where to connect the letters.

Calligraphy Workshop with Swell Anchor Studio

I had a great time learning from Christie and her team, and I am grateful that I got to meet her in person and that I have someone who can guide me as I progress with calligraphy. Before we left, Christie presented us with a small tote that she personalized with our names. I’m keeping my bag in my home office as a reminder to take Christie’s tip of practicing for at least 15 minutes two to three times per week.

If you are interested in calligraphy, check out Christie on Instagram and visit her site to see more of her work. She will be hosting another workshop next month at West Elm in Huntington, New York.

Thank you, Swell Anchor Studio, for a wonderful workshop!

Fitz and the Tantrums at The Paramount

Fitz and the Tantrums at The Paramount

So far, life as a 30-year-old has been sweet (and I don’t just mean because of all the cake!). As my birthday month continues, I celebrated the other night by seeing Fitz and the Tantrums at The Paramount in Huntington, New York. My friend, Claudia got tickets to see them live, and of course, I was up for tagging along. Ironically, I thought I was unfamiliar with the band until on my drive to the concert, I was rocking out to a song I had heard on the radio a few times before, but never learned the artist. Well, it turned out the song was ‘HandClap’ by none other than Fitz and the Tantrums.

Despite growing up in Huntington and spending plenty of time in the Village, I had never been to The Paramount. The swanky New York City-ish concert site was once a movie theater and then was an IMAX before being renovated to look like a fancy nightclub.

Fitz and the Tantrums at The Paramount

The venue was the perfect place for Fitz and the Tantrums to perform, and while I could have used the sound decibels slightly lower (I think I heard my brain rattling even with ear plugs!), I had an amazing time. The energy in The Paramount was electric — the room was filled with people dancing and enjoying themselves. For three hours, I felt like I was completely out of my element, but transfixed in my new surroundings. The lights, sounds, and crowd made this a lively and memorable event.

Fitz and the Tantrums at The Paramount

If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend seeing Fitz and the Tantrums live. Their music is upbeat and makes you want to get moving. As for The Paramount, I don’t know why it took me this long to finally check it out, but it is my new favorite venue on Long Island.

Breast Cancer Awareness with Bloomingdale’s

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On Saturday I attended a yoga class that Bloomingdale’s hosted for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A friend of mine had seen the event advertised and thought it would be a nice way to spend the morning. Being part of an event for a good cause and getting to meet other people who came to the Saturday morning practice made it a particularly enlightening experience.

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Bloomingdale’s deserves praise for their efforts in organizing the event. Every detail was perfect — from the pink Bloomingdale’s yoga mat (which participants got to keep) to the goodie bag, complete with snacks for after the class. The $10 reservation fee went to benefit the Marisa Acocella Marchetto Foundation and The Carey Foundation. Our yoga teacher, Samantha, was a wonderful instructor and I was particularly inspired by her own health battle.

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I left the class with a renewed sense of community, peace, and gratitude. A big thank you to Bloomingdale’s and Samantha for providing a restorative practice and for being part of breast cancer awareness!

The October Agenda


Thank you all so much for your support and kind words on Monday’s post. I truly appreciated the well wishes, and I found myself frequently revisiting your comments when the going got tough during the week. Change is never easy, but having a wonderful community full of encouragement has helped make the transition better.

As much as I love summer (and boy, do I), there is something about October that excites me. While I could live without the chilly weather, the thought of pumpkin and apple picking in the coming weeks makes me giddy.

My October agenda is packed with fall activities, so let’s get started:

See: I’m not much of a movie-goer, but every once in a while there will be a movie that I just have to see in the theater (partly because I’m too impatient to wait until it comes out on DVD). This month, The Girl on the Train is being released, and after reading the suspenseful thriller, I’m eager to put faces on the characters I read about. If the movie is anything like the book, it will be fantastic.

Go: I’ve mentioned before how much I love Long Island this time of year. There are fall festivals going on almost every weekend in different towns. This weekend, the Long Island Fall Festival is happening in Huntington, NY. The three-day festival has plenty of fun for the whole family, with live music, a carnival, and sweet treats.

Do: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Bloomingdale’s has events throughout the month to promote awareness. On October 8th, Bloomingdale’s nationwide will be hosting an in-store donation-based ($10) yoga class. Find a store in your area and reserve your spot to be part of a great cause — and get your Om on.

Visit: What would October be without a trip to an apple orchard? Last year marked my first visit to The Milk Pail in Water Mill, NY, and I want to make it a tradition. The orchard has the largest and juiciest apples I’ve ever seen. And while the prices may be a bit steep for a bushel, the overall experience is well worth it. When all of my apples are picked, I head over to the pumpkin patch to find just the right ones to take home and paint. Of course, no fall trip would be complete without an apple cider donut and candy apple for the ride home!

What’s on your agenda this month?