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MY SPRING IN NYC BUCKET LIST

Since I shared my Spring Wishlist (along with a disclaimer that I’m shopping quite a bit less these days) I figured I’d also share my Spring Bucket List – aka all the places and experiences – I’m looking forward to this season. And what better day to share than the first day of Spring!

  1. A stroll along South Street Seaport. I love this area but it can get SO crowded in the Summer. The first really nice spring day is great for walking along the water, grabbing tacos at El Luchador and eating on the benches with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
  2. Snagging tickets to see the NYC ballet’s rendition of Jane Eyre. I’m always looking for an excuse to go to the ballet (and Adam has zero interest), so when a friend asked me to join her for this Bronte classic I jumped at the chance! Tickets go on sale this weekend.
  3. A glass of rosé on the Met rooftop – this has become on of my favorite spring traditions. Even better when you can see all of the fresh blooms in Central Park from above.
  4. Running a 10k! This was on my list of things to do in 2019 (for now, my half marathon days are on hold while I see how my knees hold up to shorter distances) and Spring would be the perfect time weather-wise to do it.
  5. We may end up staying in the city over Easter weekend and if so – I definitely want to try a new brunch spot. Although Friend of A Farmer and Buvette (two favorites) are still contenders.
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SPRING WISHLIST UNDER $100

If you follow me on Instagram then you may have seen me mention I had officially gone 3 MONTHS without shopping for a single piece of clothing or accessories. In mid-December it was because I was spending on Christmas gifts for family instead. In January it was a concerted effort to practice self control and focus on my finances for the year ahead. But my February and into March it was simply because I really had re-set my attitude towards my wardrobe. Simply liking something in the moment wasn’t enough for me to own it. A sale going on didn’t need that I had to grab something just because it was a steal. In three months I’ve really been able to come to terms with what I want my wardrobe and shopping habits to look like going forward.

And that doesn’t mean I’ll never shop again. In fact, I finally broke the streak and just picked up this dress (which I know will work at the office with flats and a sweater, on a date with heels and on weekends with sneakers and a denim jacket). And I’ll likely grab a few more of the pieces shown here (the linen blazer and this little bag are top contenders) knowing that I’ll wear them constantly throughout the Spring and Summer ahead.

Happy shopping (or not – you decide for yourself).

SHOP THE STORY:

ps. this one bag is just over $100 but it’s so cute I made an exception.

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THOUGHTS ON PERSONAL GROWTH

One of my favorite mantras is “live in an environment of growth” – I try to keep this in mind when it comes to myself, my relationships and my career. The problem is, I’m not sure I’ve been living up to those words when it comes to this blog. Now 6+ years into the game, I’ve been feeling a little lost with the whole thing (hence the silence lately).

When I began I actually wanted it as a space to work on my graphic design skills. I had graduated with a degree in Fashion Design a few years prior, and was in the midst of transitioning from a career in Accessories Design into the graphics side of fashion and didn’t have much in the way of a proper portfolio. I also was spending a stint living in LA and thought it would be a fun way to document my adventures and love for clothing/interiors. Hence ‘The Steele Maiden’ – a first voyage if you will. I’ve now got a full time career as an Art Director and am neatly settled into life back in New York City. So if we’re getting technical, the original need has long since been fulfilled.


Somewhere along the way though I started sharing outfit photos, social media became omnipresent and well, here we are. And maybe its winter talking – because you all know I’m a vitamin D junkie – but I just feel sort of tired of the whole thing. Or perhaps more accurately, I feel bored of the whole thing. The witty Instagram captions and constant push to buy new clothing by influencers. The game of who can take the most extravagant vacation and be in the cutest couple. It’s started to feel like the internet equivalent of small talk to me – and I’m just not sure I want in on that kind of conversation anymore.

Don’t get me wrong – there are all sorts of amazing influencers in the world who talk about hard hitting topics and push this industry forward. But for the most part? A lot of it feels self-centered. I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts last week, Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard, and comedian Jason Mantzoukas said something that really struck me (to paraphrase) “Story-telling used to consist of someone grabbing the camera, pointing it at their world and allowing us to see it through their eyes. Now it consists of someone turning the camera towards themselves and them simply telling us how they see the world.” I can’t stop thinking about it.

To be honest, I still don’t know where all of this leaves me and The Steele Maiden. I love sharing bits of my New York life and travels, home decor and favorite outfits with you all – and for now I plan to continue, but I think it is also going to come with some sort of more personal writing. Something of substance. It also likely means that I’ll continue to operate this space in a somewhat more pared down version while I focus a portion of my mental efforts on building a new venture which involves a different medium of fashion storytelling surrounding that I’ve been daydreaming about for the past couple of years.

In short (or long actually) – I really appreciate all of you that have come along for the journey thus far. But I think it’s time I push myself back towards that environment of growth. And I hope you’ll come along for that voyage too.

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THE STEELE MAIDEN BOOK CLUB: CHAPTER SEVEN

January was a big reading month for me, but coming off of the amazing books I read at the end of last year (see that list here) I knew I wanted to kick off 2019 by diving right in. Below, what I read this past month, plus what I’ve got on my shelf for February:

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena: To be fair, I think this is about what I expected out of this book. A thriller that follows two sets of neighboring couples and a central crime – I think that if the writing had been stronger I could have felt more captivated by this. That being said, if you’re generally thrilled with thrillers this one isn’t without its exciting twists and turns. All in all I’d give it a ‘B’.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: An American classic I had somehow never read, I’m so glad I made time for this. I think sometimes we forget to go back to the classics, favoring newer fiction that’s “popular” instead – and at nearly 600 pages including plenty of jargon from the mid-1800s this wasn’t necessarily a breeze to read. But the story itself is timeless and was certainly a pre-cursor to a million novels that followed. Louise May Alcott, a feminist and suffragette, proved that women’s stories and voices were important, even if her characters were just living everyday lives. Sidetone: I can’t wait for the new film adaptation to come out at the end of this year. Could there be a more perfect Laurie than Timothée Chalamet?!?

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon: All in all really interesting if you like historical fiction – since there was a lot of true history to be learned from this one. This book follows the story of a woman claiming to be Anastasia Romanov – the young Russian princess who was believed to have been killed, along with her entire family, during the Russian revolution on the early 1900s. It flips back and forth over the span of 40 years telling a captivating story. I was definitely most invested in the early Romanov story since I know admittedly so little about Russian history. After I was finished this book I actually went on to do some internet research to learn more about the family’s story – I love a book that teaches you something you never even knew you would be interested in.

A Wild Swan And Other Tales by Michael Cunningham: From the author of The Hours (a book I love) this is a collection of well known fairy tales, with a modern (decidedly adult) twist. They’re short and simple so I ended up reading a few each night before bed and it was a fun way to end the month after a few heavier books. Added bonus – there are really cool black and white illustrations every few pages that help bring the stories to life.

SHOP THIS MONTH’S BOOK CLUB:

Since it’s a short month I narrowed my reading list to just two stand-out books for February. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – translated into English but originally an Italian novel – that I’ve heard great things about. It follows the story of two women growing up in Italy over the course of their lives and is apparently the first in a trilogy set to become a TV show. And Becoming by Michelle Obama – on my list for month’s now and I can’t wait to dive in.

SHOP NEXT MONTH’S BOOK CLUB:

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WHAT I LEARNED FROM DRY JANUARY: A MONTH OF NO ALCOHOL AND NO SHOPPING

At the beginning of this year (largely from the hype of seeing so many other people mention it) I decided to take a month off from all drinking and all shopping. I didn’t even think that much about it – aside from the fact that November and December always feels extra indulgent and expensive. But now looking back, I can honestly say that it affected me much more than I anticipated. Below – the truth about my “Dry January”.

No Alcohol: This was the big one. To be clear, I don’t have a drinking problem and we’re all adults here so I’m definitely not passing judgement on anyone’s habits but my own. But in an average week, I probably have a drink at least half of the days. Sometimes more. Sometimes just a mindless beer while I watch TV after a long day at work. And if it brings me happiness I’m fine with it. But sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes it was that one extra nightcap that left me feeling tired and sluggish in the morning. Or knowing that I had all those extra calories that I hadn’t even really savored in any real way.

How I Did: I didn’t make it all 31 days without a single drink. I had about 4 total throughout the month – once on our staycation uptown, another out to dinner to celebrate our friends’ recent engagement and the other two times when Adam went out to dinner. I don’t regret a single one of those drinks. I was in the moment, really enjoying myself and the single drink I had each time. But every other weekend night and every single weeknight I didn’t have a drop.

Results: I honestly feel like my entire mindset to drinking has kind of shifted. Which is pretty drastic since I’ve been drinking consistently since I was 18 and aside from giving up vodka around 25 (a story for another day) I’ve never really given it much thought. I really enjoy drinking. Brewery tours when we travel, trying out craft cocktails at cute bars around the city, popping a bottle of champagne to celebrate with Adam – all in. But now I feel like I can recognize it as something I’m choosing to do with intention rather than doing out of mindless habit. And that feels nice.

No Shopping: This felt laughably easy compared to the no drinking thing. To be fair, I probably don’t go shopping as much as it looks like I do and I definitely shop less than the average fashion blogger. But still – for the past few years there’s been this Instagram-induced syndrome that feels like I need to always have something new to keep up in some way. And I hate that bloggers likely cause other average women to feel that same deficiency. I want to buy something because I truly love it and it sparks joy and I’ll wear it, not because I need the latest and greatest to feel like I’m enough. But there is plenty in my closet already and instead I want this to be the year I’m focusing much more on my financial health than the new arrivals section of my favorite websites.

How I Did: I successfully made it! At least I’m counting that I did. In reality I bought exactly two things all month: a new nude bra (desperately needed) and a replacement set of sheets after our other spare set ripped at the laundromat. Neither was a fun impulse purchase and while I could have probably squeaked by until February – I really kind of had to pull the trigger on both of those asap.

Results: I shopped my closet much more and never once felt like “I had nothing to wear”. Funny how that works. Also, I was able to set aside a few extra dollars to go towards my bedroom makeover project that I’m working on. Something that will bring my more longer lasting joy than a random new sweater would have. Again I think it comes back to intention. Buying things with more thought and purpose and less carelessness towards my savings goals and a society-backed need for consumerism. A mindset I feel excited about carrying with me all year long.

Phew – that was a lot but I wanted to share since some of you have asked how I did! How are you all doing on your own resolutions?

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Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.