The Steele Maiden: Beach Body Positivity

For the past few years, Summer has tended to be the time when I’ve felt best about my body. My skin is sun-kissed (after an early Spring trip to someplace warm) and I’m usually in my best shape (after a Winter/Spring spent running on the treadmill and sticking to a strength training routing). And that’s not because of any number on a scale (I haven’t weighed myself in probably 2-3 years) but simply because of how I feel. It means I can keep up with a long run or hard work-out and feel strong, fast and capable. It’s a great feeling.

So what happens when life hands me a really difficult Winter/Spring and instead of working out or jetting off to someplace warm, I spend a season of life indulging in one too many beers/pasta dinners and hiding under the covers? Well, I’ll call it approximately 5 extra pounds of “emotional baggage” and not even a hint of the muscle tone that was out to play last Summer.

So that’s the beach body I’ve got this Summer. Not quite as tan or toned.. but you know what? Still my body. And it walks me to work everyday and it miraculously wards off most of the germs in this city and it’s starting to fight it’s way through runs along the river again and if I give it time it will get back to the place where I feel strong. And honestly, I don’t regret all of the beer (okay maybe one or two of ’em) or the pasta… because I think my body just needed it at that point in time. And that’s okay.

Maybe you’re growing a baby this summer (like my super-woman of a sister) or you had a similarly shit season of life and aren’t exactly in your old racing form. Let’s cut ourselves some slack. Throw on a bathing suit and go to the beach anyway. Summer only comes around once a year after all.

The Steele Maiden: Beach Body Positivity

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The Steele Maiden Book Club: Chapter Three

Back in the Spring I kicked off #SteeleMaidenBookClub and not only has it encouraged me to devote way more time to reading this year (the way I used to before endlessly scrolling Instagram became a thing), but it’s also become on of my favorite posts to write here on the blog. So without further ado – my third installment (you can see the last post’s here and here) and if you want to see/hear me talk about this month’s book club picks I’m going to be posting a short video to IGTV here.

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt: This was the story of a young girl in the 1970’s who runs away with her high school teacher. It flips between her story (which takes some twists and turns) and the story of the sister she left behind and the woman who raised them. I think I ended up liking the flashback stories more than the ones that followed the main character.. but in general it was a good, easy read. This could make it into your beach bag this summer for sure.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney: I love, love, loveddd this book – but I think that’s largely because I really related to it. The story follows Lillian’s life – flipping between when she was a copywriter/ad executive in New York in the 30s/40s and now, in the 1980s when she’s a much older woman, still living in the city. So much of her feelings towards her career and this city felt so much like my own which I rarely find in characters. But even if you’re not a Manhattan or nothing diehard, this book was very well-written and fun look at one woman’s life at two very different time periods.

The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride: Ahh… where do I start? I guess on the first 5 pages because honestly that’s all I could bear to read of this book. It is very rare for me to start a book and not give it at least 100 pages, but honestly the dialect is so difficult that I just couldn’t muster through it. Maybe in the winter when I’m cooped up with nothing but time I’ll come back to this, but in Summer I wanted a book that sparked my imagination or sucked me in page by page. Not something I had to read slowly in a silent room. Let’s put this one on the shelf, shall we?


After feeling like I picked only ‘new fiction’ this past month, I wanted to really switch it up for the month ahead – and I’m particularly excited about these three picks (full disclosure: I snuck ahead and have already started/finished some of these and they’re gooood). The Woman in the Window is an edge-of-your-seat thriller (perfect for the beach or tearing through on a rainy day), Motherhood is writer Sheila Heti’s honest account of her inner struggle to decide if being a mother is for her or not and Kitchen Confidential was Anthony Bourdain’s first book and after being such a fan of his, I wanted to go back and hear more about where he started. This book is a tell-all memoir about his early days in the kitchen’s of New York City… the good, the bad and the ugly. So far I know I’ll never be eating fish at a restaurant on a Monday night again.



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The Steele Maiden: Before and After - Apartment Entryway Makeover

Welcome to the apartment entryway! There’s been quite a bit of radio silence on the blog between this spring and early summer but this entryway project felt like it really got the creative juices flowing again and I’m so excited to get back to sharing regular content with you all. Starting with this little space. It’s the first in the apartment to be “done” and even though it’s not a large area, I do think the changes made a big impact. Keep scrolling to see the ‘before’ and full ‘after’!


The Steele Maiden: Before and After - Apartment Entryway MakeoverThe Steele Maiden: Before and After - Apartment Entryway Makeover

The entryway leads into the living area and so I wanted it to feel a part of that space (and the things I have planned for it), while still feeling like it served distinctly as an entry space. This meant I wanted a last minute place to check my lipstick and somewhere we could hang our keys and jackets on the way in and out.

The first thing to go was the ‘rental white’ paint color. I can’t stand it and so my Mom (an absolute master painter) generously lent her skills to repainting the living room and entryway in Benjamin Moore’s ‘Shoreline’. The facing wall I painted this deep navy teal (I had literally been dreaming of painting a wall this color for years) and love how it turned out as a nice rich accent.

The Steele Maiden: Before and After - Apartment Entryway Makeover

The mirror in the entry is actually a window from the barn at my grandparent’s old house (where my Dad grew up). My parent’s salvaged a few of them before my grandparents moved and my Mom had mercury glass mirror put behind it. I love that it feels like a little piece of my Pennsylvania home here in New York. Above it hangs a sign saying ‘Entreé‘ which means entrance in French and was a sweet housewarming gift from a dear friend.

Another thing we replaced were the light fixture (reference the ‘before again… eek) and the door pull on the coat closet. Small changes that make a really big difference. I added matching knobs to the wall as makeshift hooks beneath the mirror.

The Steele Maiden: Before and After - Apartment Entryway MakeoverThe Steele Maiden: Before and After - Apartment Entryway Makeover

The bar cart is filled with lots of personal touches that I love – the photo hanging above it is from a perfect night spent wandering the canals in Amsterdam while the Buffalo Bill image framed below is actually a playing card from a deck picked up on our trip to Wyoming. It’s the Ace of Hearts which we decided was a good omen – to leave the house with luck and enter with love. The illustration framed in the lower part of the bar cart is a map of the Cotswolds from the cutest country Inn we stayed at there last Fall. And the bar cart itself is a $15 flea market find from when we lived in Los Angeles (it’s a vintage typewriter cart).

The Steele Maiden: Before and After - Apartment Entryway Makeover     The Steele Maiden: Before and After - Apartment Entryway Makeover

I wanted the downstairs living area space of the apartment to feel like New York in the Fall (crisp, rich colors and textures yet an overall warm and inviting feeling) and I think that the entryway is a good start to that. More to come!

The Steele Maiden: Before and After - Apartment Entryway Makeover

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The Steele Maiden Book Club: What I'm Reading

Earlier this year I kicked The Steele Maiden  (see the first installment here) and I’m finally back with another round.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler:

After binging the Amazon series ‘Z: The Beginning of Everything’ starring Christina Ricci about the early days of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald (which I loved) I knew I had to read the novel that it was based on. I, not surprisingly, loved the book even more than the series. If you’re a fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the 1920’s or just historical fiction in general I think you’d like this – but the themes of love within a complicated relationship and a woman finding her place in the world are universal here and so beautifully written that I can’t imagine anyone not finding something to relate to in this book. I can see myself re-reading this one.

You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein:

This one falls into the category of books like Lena Dunham’s ‘Not that Kind of Girl’ or Amy Schumer’s ‘Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo’ – easy, amusing reads that aren’t exactly going to make you smarter but are definitely going to make you laugh a few times along the way. I honestly can’t decide if I’d recommend this or not because I think there are stronger books in the female comedian turned writer category (I’ve always loved Tina Fey’s ‘Bossypants’) – but if you’ve already read all of the top titles you’d likely enjoy this one too.


Next month, I’m diving into Cruel, Beautiful World by Caroline Lewitt (about a young girl in the 60s who run away with her teacher), Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (about a young woman in advertising in New York in the 30/40s that flashes forward to her life as an older woman in the 80s – I’ve already started this one and really love it so far), and The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (set at a Drama School in 1990’s London).

All of those are new fiction though which means next go around I want to mix things up – maybe a good thriller or a historical biography? If you have suggestions send ’em my way!



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The Steele Maiden: Nightly Skincare Routine with Clairins Hydra-Essentiel

Things in my life have been fairly stressful lately. And this Winter weather just isn’t letting up (as I write this they’re calling for snow again in New York tomorrow). Combined, those two things can wreak absolute havoc on skin. Which is why after returning from my trip to Wyoming last month I knew I needed to switch up my nightly routine in order to help combat all of the factors that are working against me.

The Steele Maiden: Nightly Skincare Routine with Clairins Hydra-Essentiel

I first tried out Clarins’ Hydra-Essentiel skincare collection last year (full post here) and quickly became a total convert to their Silky Cream Moisturizer (I still use it regularly!). So when they offered me the chance to try a couple of their latest products, I was ready and willing.

Their latest Moisturizing Reviving Eye Mask and Replenishing Lip Balm are great for my routine right now because they’re super targeted. While I’m happy with my nightly cleanser and moisturizer I was finding that the skin around eyes was looking dry, dark and tired by morning and my lips were dreadfully chapped (is there anything worse?).

The Steele Maiden: Nightly Skincare Routine with Clairins Hydra-Essentiel The Steele Maiden: Nightly Skincare Routine with Clairins Hydra-Essentiel

So I’ve been making a conscious effort to set aside an extra 15-20 minutes each night to really devote to my skin and my general well-being. That means a cup of hot tea, a good book and a generous helping of the Replenishing Lip Balm each night (it leaves my lips feeling plump and smooth almost instantly!). And then a couple of times a week I’ve been using the Moisturizing Reviving Eye Mask as an overnight mask. You can also just apply it for 10 minutes and remove, but I’ve been really noticing a difference in the texture of the skin around my eyes (less puffiness and dryness) and the overall brightness of skin tone when I leave it on overnight. Plus, that way I can apply it and then crawl right into bed without having to worry about getting up again to wash off. Win, win!

My plan is to stick to this new routine and by the time Spring finally rolls, my skin and I will be looking just as lively.

The Steele Maiden: Nightly Skincare Routine with Clairins Hydra-Essentiel

*A thank you to Clarins for sponsoring this post. As always all opinions are my own.


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Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle. Based in NYC.