Social Media

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


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?

You Know You’re a Blogger When…Take II

You Know You're a Blogger When

It’s time for another installment of You Know You’re a Blogger When…. If you are a blogger, you will probably be able to relate to some of these thoughts.

1. You firmly believe that watching Snapchat should count as an Olympic sport. Speaking of the Olympics, is anyone else having trouble getting things done now that the Summer Games are on?

2. You have a permanent case of writer’s block because it’s so nice out and you just want to spend your days at the beach.

3. You’ve lamented almost daily (and maybe even blogged about this topic a few times) about how fast the summer is going. You’ve also created a summer bucket list in the hopes that it will stretch the remaining days out a bit.

4. You’re officially tired of hearing about the Nordstrom anniversary sale (and you and your bank account are glad that it has come to an end). And no, you’re not ready to start talking about fall fashion!

5. You have way too much fun playing with Snapchat filters (especially when they momentarily turn you into an Olympian!).

P.S. Apologies for my absence yesterday. I had a post scheduled for Wednesday that got scrapped at the last minute. And, well, the Olympics are on!

*Image via PicLab

Snapchat Shenanigans

I have way too much fun playing with filters on Snapchat! I love checking the app and finding new and improved filters to use to enhance my photos and videos. Of course, seeing what friends and other bloggers are up to is nice, too. Be sure to follow along at @livinginsteil.

Here are some of my favorite filters:

Snapchat Filters

Snapchat Filters

Snapchat Filters

Snapchat Filters

Snapchat Filters

Which filters are your favorite on Snapchat?

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


#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!

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?

Six Things I’ve Learned in Six Months of Blogging


I started my blog in mid-February 2014 and it has now been about six months since its inception. If you’ve glanced at my ‘About’ page, you may have read that I started the blog after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer and recovering from surgery. Mainly I saw it as a creative outlet and a way for me to find my voice. I have learned a lot in the six short months since I’ve begun the process – some things about blogging and social media in general and other things about myself. I am grateful for all of the people who have visited my blog, commented on my posts, and offered me encouraging advice along the way. Since this is my first blog and foray into the social media landscape, I am glad to have found a community that is so gracious and willing to help out a newbie.

1. Blogging is a Community: And a strong one at that! I have enjoyed following other bloggers and commenting on their posts. Some blogs have become like a morning ritual and my day just can’t start until I’ve seen what they’re doing. I am indebted to a couple of bloggers who took the time to answer my unsolicited emails asking for guidance {a special thanks to Jessi Afshin of The Darling Detail ( and Justine Lorelle LoMonaco of Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One (}. For anyone thinking of starting a blog, or just needing to ask a few questions, bloggers out there will help you, so don’t be afraid to reach out. Overall, it has been really nice to read people’s comments and connect with people I otherwise would never have known…even if it is only through their blogs.

2. Social Media is Critical: Okay, this should come as no surprise to most, but I must admit that I was a late-bloomer when it came to social media. I have had a Facebook page for less than a week now. I never really saw a need for social media in my daily life until starting my blog. I am surprised by how much I have enjoyed Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest so far. I look at it as an extension of the blogging community.

3. You Don’t Always Need to Have Something to Post About: When I began the blogging process I was afraid I would run out of things to write about. There have been days where I have struggled to put pen to paper — or fingers to keypad– but sometimes those are the days where I just want to be honest with my readers and write what I am thinking/learning/trying to accomplish in my life.

4. Read Everything You Can About Blogging, Social Media and Branding: If you are new to blogging, like me, just setting up your blog can seem daunting (thankfully, WordPress makes it virtually painless and offers plenty of support). Then came all the social media platforms and I was overwhelmed. I decided to tackle one at a time. I began with an Instagram account, then Twitter and Pinterest and finally Facebook. I have found invaluable links on Twitter regarding establishing your brand, making your content stand out, and building an Instagram following.

5. Find Your Voice: In the beginning it was challenging to be personal in such an impersonal way – over the internet. Not knowing my audience was like throwing paint on the wall and hoping it would stick. It wasn’t until I began writing about my thyroid cancer diagnosis, which was difficult but cathartic, that the process became easier for me. My suggestion is just to start writing and to write for yourself – as if nobody is reading your posts. Over time, it becomes easier to develop your own tone and to know what works for your blog and what doesn’t.

6. Tag Your Posts: I started tagging my posts early on, but attaching a few key words can help improve you viewership by allowing search engines to categorize your content better. I try to use words that convey the message of my post, establishments if they are mentioned repeatedly, or categories such as lifestyle, beauty, health, fitness, and wellness.

These are just a few things I have learned along the way. Most importantly, I think it is vital to enjoy the creative space you have and the process of developing content.

What advice would you give a new blogger? How did you get started with your blog?

Waiting for the Weekend


Ahhhh…at last! The weekend has arrived. I was beginning to think it got lost or somehow I slept through the two most glorious days of the week. This week was hectic, but some great reading got me through it. Here’s what I’ve enjoyed:

Patience –
Anyone who knows me recognizes that I am not the most naturally patient person in the world. As I’ve gotten older, I have been trying to work on it, and this post offers insight into this important virtue.

The Decoder: Beach Bag Beauty Essentials –
Who doesn’t like seeing what other people carry in their bags? As a lover of the sand and sea (and frequent beach-goer, in case you haven’t noticed), I am always searching for new products to tote along with me. I love the items that made it onto the list, and I will certainly be adding a few of them to my own beach bag (hello You Smell Luxury Paper Soap!).

10 Things You Need to Know About Social Media –
I have been reading a lot of good articles about social media lately, but I thought this one gave a great overview of how to promote your brand.

Career Profile: Jennifer Taylor, Social Media and Public Relations Associate at Jack Rogers –
This may be my favorite interview (ever?). I have loved Jack Rogers, both the brand and the sandal, since high school. My first pair of Jacks are still alive and well! I relish reading about Jennifer’s day-to-day work at the company; she does a fabulous job creating the voice for its social media.

What do you enjoy reading? Any good posts you’d like to share?

Happy Friday, my Steil-ish friends!