Life

8 ITEMS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN 2018

The Steele Maiden: 8 Items that will change you life in 2018

I give you – 8 items that will change your life in 2018. Okay, okay – so ‘change you life’ may be a bit dramatic. But I honestly think they all changed mine for the better. And I really believe in surrounding yourself with things that simplify and streamline your life whenever possible and these items do just that. In the chance that you may not be familiar with all of these, I wanted to share. Here’s to living our best lives in 2018.

  1. Tripod & Timer – Even if you’re not a blogger, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve tried to get group shots at family gatherings or a quick snap of Adam and I when we’re traveling and this would have come in handy.
  2. Google Home – I’m not a huge tech person and never gave the term ‘smart home’ much of a thought. Until we were sent a Google Home to try. For the simple fact alone that I can ask it the current weather every morning before I walk to work and tell it to turn on the TV and play a specific show on Netflix – it’s worth having to me.
  3. Quip Toothbrush – I hate the look of regular, neon plastic toothbrushes in our otherwise, neutral bathroom but had never considered going electric. My friends at Azione PR sent me this Quip Toothbrush to try and not only does it look SO much better sitting in my bathroom – but it’s quite honestly the cleanest my teeth have ever felt without going to the dentist. Which is kind of startling. Safe to say I actually look forward to my twice daily brushing now.
  4. The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin – If you only get one thing from this list – get this. Gretchin Rubin is the best-selling author of The Happiness Project which I read nearly 10 years ago and also has a podcast called ‘Happier’ that I highly recommend. But it’s her personality theory called ‘The Four Tendencies’ that changed my life. Basically everyone falls into one of four categories (I’m a classic Upholder while Adam is a by the book Questioner) and once you understand that it makes it SO much easier to understand yourself and those you have close relationships with (boyfriend, boss, etc.) and improve those relationships. For example – I no longer feel frustrated when Adam isn’t quick to make a decision. As a questioner he is just naturally inclined to weigh all of the options SO thoroughly until he finally feels like he’s come to the very best choice (true story: he once spent nearly 2 hours on Yelp trying to find a place to eat in a small town that only had about 10 total options). But it’s who he is as a questioner. So it honestly no longer bothers me at all. In fact, I now find it actually endearing because I recognize it as something that feels innately Adam. Just think if you could do that with everyone in your life?!
  5. Travel Steamer – Another game changer. This steamer has zero bells or whistles but it gets the job done every time. I’ve stopped using an iron all together at home and absolutely never travel without this (it’s also dual voltage so will work abroad). There’s nothing worse to me than a wrinkled dress or sweater that just screams ‘this has been stuffed in my suitcase all day!’.
  6. Dagne Dover Neoprene Backpack – I got this at the end of last year and am so surprised by how often I’ve ended up using it. Dagne Dover is a brand I’ve loved for a few years now – their simple, classic bags are so thoughtfully organized on the inside (think slots for phone and lipstick, an extended clip for your keys so you never have to dig through the bottom of your bag again..). This neoprene backpack comes with me as a carry-on, overnight bag, gym bag and even to work when I need to pack a load like my lunch, laptop and a change of shoes.
  7. Phone Grip/Stand – This is the one I don’t have yet but am dying to get! These little knobs stick on to the back of your phone and gives you something more to hang on to than the slippery edges of a phone and also work as a stand to prop your phone on the table if you’re watching a video or filming a hands-free IG story.
  8. Tile App – Adam got me this for Christmas (most likely after seeing me struggle to find my keys/phone/wallet in the apartment one too many mornings). It’s an app and corresponding chip that you can attach to your keys, stick in your wallet and sync with your phone so you never lose a thing.

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GOALS FOR 2018

The Steele Maiden: Goals for 2018

I think resolutions get a bad rap sometimes. While I don’t really believe in sweeping notions like ‘lose 20 pounds this year and save $20,000’ I do believe in thinking about the year ahead with intent. Below, my own personal goals for 2018 and the strategic ways in which I plan to implement them. I think setting clear, actionable strategies is the step that often gets forgotten and because of it, the resolutions themselves end up being faint memories by about February. I am planning on sharing a bit on each of these throughout the year, hopefully it encourages you all to help turn your own big dreams into a reality this year!

PRIORITIZE RELATIONSHIPS:

  • I spend a considerable amount of my time (honestly probably like 75%) working. I have a demanding full time job, manage this blog and do freelance writing. It’s a lot. And I often allow myself to be consumed by it. This year I want to be sure that I’m creating more of a balance and prioritizing my relationships (Adam, friends and family).
  • Adam and I used to have Wednesday date nights, to ensure that at least one night a week I wasn’t working and we were spending quality time together. I want to reinstate those asap.
  • I want to better schedule my work so that I’m opening up my schedule. This means sticking to a calendar when it comes to freelance and blog work instead of squeezing that work into every free moment.
  • Be better about asking friends and family to spend time together. I often get so caught up in work that I forget to suggest plans and hope that others will do the leg work. I’d like to change that.

ALLOW TIME FOR LEISURE:

  • Which leads me to my next goal – allowing time for leisure. It sounds silly but I really don’t ever let myself have down time. And that’s reached a point where it feels unhealthy.
  • Give in to the urge to do nothing on occasion – whether that means a face mask and a nap or a movie marathon on the couch. I need to give myself permission to slow down and relax without guilt.
  • Practicing my French and playing the piano are two hobbies that I really wanted to do in 2017 and while I from time to time used the Babbel app for French lessons, I never did get around to finding a keyboard I could practice playing in our apartment. These feel like they would really be revitalizing to me though and so this year I’m determined to readjust and carve out the time to do things that I enjoy just for the fun of it.

FIND WAYS TO BE CHARITABLE:

  • 2017 served up major reasons to donate to immediate causes (Planned Parenthood funding, hurricane relief), but in 2018 I want to find more routine ways to give back.
  • Ideas so far are a monthly charity that I contribute towards, donating gently used clothes/accessories and unused beauty products to local women’s shelters and volunteering my time to Girls on the Run (an organization that teaches young, underprivileged girls to run a 5k to help build confidence).

COMMIT TO HEALTH:

  • Return to my daily morning workouts – I feel noticeably less stressed and more balanced when I’m starting each workday with a trip to the gym.
  • Drink less diet coke, more water. This seems obvious.. but alas.
  • Go to the doctors – I’m embarrassed by how long it’s been since I’ve been to a dentist or eye doctor and that needs to change asap.
  • Set a bedtime – I think setting an alarm (just like I do to wake-up) that signals when I should be starting my bedtime routine would help. I find myself often getting caught up in blog work at night and before I know it, it’s 11:30PM and I’m exhausted the next day.

THINK BIG FOR THE STEELE MAIDEN:

  • This is a big one. For the past few years, while I’ve committed a lot of time and effort to The Steele Maiden, I haven’t done much strategic thinking about the direction I’d like to take it in the future and how I want to grow. This is the year I’ll be changing that.
  • I plan to introduce more personal posts this year and offer more practical advice on things like career and relationships.
  • Introducing video in 2018! I’ll admit, this one scares me as I don’t feel particularly comfortable in front of the camera (I honestly feel silly even talking directly to Instagram stories) – but it’s good to do things that scare you. I’m planning on sharing hair & beauty and travel videos to start.
  • As always, I want this to serve as a place to inspire you to have your own stylish adventures – and if there’s something you’d like to see more (or less) of in 2018 please let me know!
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2017: A YEAR IN REVIEW

The Steele Maiden: Where to Stay in Los Angeles - Carlyle Inn Beverly Hills

2017 – you were quite a year. To be honest, this year was one of the most trying for me personally – and when I think about the tragedies and upheaval our country faced I don’t think I was alone in this. I felt chronically stressed at my full time job, had a few health struggles (from a night in the ER after a deadly-feeling stomach bug to ongoing knee pain that took its toll on my running routine – something I love dearly) and turned 30 which threw quite a few of my life choices into question. In general it was a year that I felt a little bit stuck. Like I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be and the progress I’d planned wasn’t quite as fast as I’d hoped.

Although when I look back on my year in photos none of that shows. Instagram/blogs are funny that way, aren’t they? And despite the above, I feel grateful for this year. Not just because I think that struggling a bit makes me stronger in the end and spurs me to work even harder for what I really want in life – but also because I had a million happy memories too – from little things like Sunday breakfasts with Adam at our favorite neighborhood cafe to incredible travel that took us to new places and back to old favorite places – and feel thankful for the opportunities that the year brought. Below, I’m sharing my favorite moments.

And a heartfelt thank you to all of you for coming along for the ride. Whether you just found my blog or have been following for years – one of the things that has always brought me joy (even when the rest of my life may have felt out of balance) has been this blog and sharing my adventures with all of you. I’m really looking forward to some of the things I have in the queue for 2018 so I hope you all stick around. xx, Jess

Photo above from our trip back to LA in April and our stay at the swoon-worthy Carlyle Inn Beverly Hills. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Spring Occasion Wear with Amazon Fashion - Nicole Miller Floral Lace Dress

Wandering the West Village on an early Saturday morning in March, in one of the prettiest dresses I’ve ever worn and an armful of hydrangeas felt a little bit like a movie scene. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Weekend Style - overalls and stripes

This simple striped overall look was one of my most liked on Instagram. It seems easy, casual looks are your favorites so I’m going to try to show more of that in the coming year. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Talbots Floral Print Shift Dress in Palm Springs

We visited Palm Springs for the first time in April (for the wedding of a dear friend) and fell in love with the colorful desert oasis. Adam and I joked that we’re going to start spending winters switching between Miami and Palm Springs – not a bad retirement plan, right? // Full post here and travel guide to Palm Springs here.

The Steele Maiden: High Waist Bikini and Straw Panama Hat

We spent a few days back in LA and had the most relaxing afternoon on Manhattan Beach (our favorite spot when we used to live in LA). These bathing suit pictures were outside my comfort zone, but when I look at them now I’m so glad we took them because it makes me remember how happy we were that day. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Floral eyelet midi dress and navy wide brim straw hat

We headed back to Charleston (it was our 2nd time there) to celebrate my 30th birthday and had the absolute best time – sealing the deal as one of our favorite cities in the US to visit. I got eaten alive by mosquitos on this particular night but felt like a Southern Belle in that dress wandering the pretty back alleys with Adam. // Full post here and travel guide to Charleston here.

The Steele Maiden: Summer Styling Tip - Graphic Tee and Eyelet Skirt

The basket bag was was one of my favorite trends of 2017 and this look was one of my most popular. Sometimes re-thinking old closet favorites (knotting a graphic tee and wrapping a handkerchief around a bag handle) makes things feel completely new again. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: How to Plan the Perfect Staycation in the City this Summer with Omni Berkshire Hotel

On a hot summer weekend in June, Adam and I headed uptown and had a staycation at the Omni Berkshire Hotel. We had a balcony overlooking skyscrapers and they set up a private outdoor movie screening for us, then we got dressed up and raced a few blocks over to catch the ballet at Lincoln Center. This city never stops feeling magical to me. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Anthropologie Gingham Crop Top and Wide Leg Chinos

These photos remind me of everything that’s perfect about summer in the city. I loved this outfit but I also remember having a really great day for no particular reason. No agenda, that humidity getting to my hair, and the fact that we got soft serve cones from the ice cream truck right after we finished shooting. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Sebago Shoes at the Lake

We spent plenty of days at the lake house this summer, and this corner of the dock continues to be one of my happiest places in the world. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: His and Hers Casual Fall Style with Old Navy

I convinced Adam to come out from behind the camera a few times this year and these were my favorites – because they feel most like us. On a casual day, driving back from the lake house, when we pulled over the car just because the street looked good. // Full post here.

NYFW Style: Seventies Inspired Style for Fall

Another NYFW on the books – this 70s disco inspired look was my favorite. And as always, Adam will do whatever it takes to get that shoe shot for me. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden - 3 Must Have Coats for Fall Travel

On a last minute whim, we booked an AirBnB for a September weekend in Rhode Island and explored Newport and the town of Bristol. It ended up being one of my favorite weekends of the whole year. // Full post here  and travel guide to Newport here.

The Steele Maiden: London Night Out Style - Leopard Ruffle Dress, Fisherman's Cap and Patent Booties

This was a big one. 10 years after studying abroad in London I finally made it back and this time had the joy of showing Adam around. We lucked out with the best weather and had such an incredible time. // Full post here and travel guide to London here.

The Steele Maiden: Cotswolds, England - English Countryside Inspired Style for Fall

While we were in London we drove out to the countryside to visit the string of tiny villages known as the Cotswolds. We stayed at the dreamiest cottage inn and I felt like I was living out a Jane Austen novel. Still working on my full travel guide to this area coming in the new year! // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Emerald Green Jumpsuit - Holiday Party Style

We also made it to Scotland for the first time and spent a couple of nights in Edinburgh. The whole city felt like a medieval dream – another travel guide I’ve got planned for you soon! // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: Fall Special Occasion - Velvet Floral Dress

I teamed up with my hair wizard Sarah Rappolt to shoot 3 holiday hairstyles and loved this simple, romantic updo the most. I’m hoping to bring you more of my easy approach to hair and beauty in 2018. // Full post here.

The Steele Maiden: His and Hers Special Occasion Holiday Style - Red Wrap dress and navy blue suit

Adam and I headed back to the Omni for a special holiday shoot. Midway through dancing on their rooftop and popping champagne in a private room we looked at each other laughing and said..  ‘not a bad day’s work, huh?’. None of this would be half as fun if I didn’t have him to do it with. // Full post here.

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HOLIDAY BEAUTY FAVORITES

The Steele Maiden: Holiday Beauty Favorites for a Night Out

From the lipstick that will stay put even after a glass or two of champagne to the hair product that rids me of winter static – here are my holiday beauty favorites:

P.S. these would make great stocking stuffers too!

SHOP HAIR + SKIN FAVORITES:

SHOP MAKE-UP FAVORITES

Also – can we talk about how luxurious it is to get ready in a large bathroom? If you have one at home I hope you don’t take it for granted for a single second. This particular one is in a suite at the Omni Berkshire – if you’re in to that sort of thing you should enter my giveaway to win a one-night stay here.

The Steele Maiden: Holiday Beauty Favorites for a Night Out

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HOW TO: EASY HOLIDAY HAIR STYLES

The Steele Maiden: How to: Easy Holiday Hair Style with Hair Accessories

A few weeks back on Instagram stories I took a poll and so many of you voted that you’d like to see more hair and beauty ideas. I consider myself pretty amateur in those departments so I was fairly surprised that you wanted advice from yours truly – but then I realized maybe that was the point. To get style tips that you felt like were actually achievable by a regular, non-expert, non-famous You Tube beauty blogger, real life lady like myself. Well ask and you shall receive.

I teamed up with my favorite hair stylist Sarah Rappolt from Wonderland Beauty Parlor to bring you 3 easy holiday hair styles. None of them took more than 5 minutes and all of them made me feel way more put together than usual. Perfect for any holiday occasion you’ve got on your agenda this season.

SHOP THE STORY

The Steele Maiden: How to: Easy Holiday Hair Style with Hair Accessories

CASUAL AND CUTE: Loose Waves with a Velvet Turban Headband

Perfect for Friendsgivings, casual family get togethers and ugly sweater parties. This hair style is way cuter than your typical ponytail or hair down look but not so perfect that you’ll feel bad taking a nap on it after you’ve eaten a big meal.

1. Start with clean, dry hair and add plenty of texturizing spray for volume and to help hold shape.

2.  Use a 1″ curling iron or wand and wrap random sections horizontally, holding each section for a few seconds before releasing.

3. Apply a light coverage of hair spray then brush through and tousle.

4. Create a deep side part and set headband just behind ears, leaving 1-2 large strands of hair untucked. Swoop back and pin just behind the base of the headband. Done! 

 

The Steele Maiden: How to: Easy Holiday Hair Style with Hair Accessories

SIMPLE AND CHIC: Half Up Twist with a Velvet Hair Bow

Perfect for tree-trimming parties, meeting your new boyfriend’s family and your office holiday party. It’s sweet but not fussy and festive but not overly formal. Basically the goldilocks of holiday hair styles.

1.Begin with clean, dry hair and again – apply plenty of texture spray to get a good grip (especially if you have fine or smooth hair like I do). 

2. Brush your hair straight back to hide your part, then grab two 1″ sections of hair from along your right temple.

3. Twist the two together, adding in additional small sections to the top section until you’ve twisted to the center back of your head. Pin in place then repeat on the left side.

4. Secure the two twists together with a thin ponytail holder. Then pin in your velvet bow. Done!

The Steele Maiden: How to: Easy Holiday Hair Style with Hair AccessoriesEFFORTLESSLY ELEGANT: Undone Up-Do with Crystal Bobby Pins

Perfect for a fancy holiday dinner, winter wedding or even New Years’ Eve. This look is deceptively simple but makes such an impact. Plus, since the look isn’t pin perfect it’s fine if it loosens throughout the night. Overall it feels special and sparkly – just like the holidays.

1.Start with clean, dry hair and apply hair powder to your scalp in 3-4 places. Then finger comb through. Add extra texturizing spray if your hair easily falls flat or is naturally very straight.

2. Create random, loose waves using a 1″ curling iron then brush through. You should be left with allover waves that feel natural and not too bouncy or perfect.

3.Loosely pull all hair back to the nape of your neck and secure into a ponytail (not too tight!).

4. Separate ponytail into two equal sections and twist together then secure at ends with a small ponytail holder.

5. Twist the twisted ponytail around into a bun shape and pin the side of the bun so that they stay in place.

6. Pull hair upwards lightly at the crown and allow loose pieces to fall to frame your face. Spray allover lightly with hairspray.

7. Insert 3-5 small crystal bobby pins leading along one side of your head back into the bun. Done!

P.S. If you’re in the New York area and interested in having Sarah (my hair magician) cut or style your hair this holiday season – she’s generously offering 20% off her services with code STEELEMAIDEN20. Contact her here.

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Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.