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SUMMER STAYCATION STYLE

The Steele Maiden: Summer Staycation Style

Suddenly, it feels like we’ve hit fast-forward to the end of summer and this is the last time I’ll be wearing this type of outfit for awhile. It’s always bittersweet isn’t it? Perhaps even more so when I feel like I didn’t even get a chance to really take a proper vacation this Summer. But the postcard print on this dress almost made me feel like I did. And this little stretch of New York, all secret alleys and white picket fences certainly feel transportive. Let’s consider it a Summer staycation.

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At least I’m headed off to the lake this weekend to soak up the last of summer’s boat rides, tan lines and flamingo floats. And then, I’ll do my best to say goodbye to this season and get ready for the next. Is it too soon to say the “F” word? I honestly love Fall just as much as Summer (especially clothing-wise), but the thought of the season after that makes me shiver even on an August day. Is anyone else as strongly tied emotionally to seasons? I think it’s why I didn’t like Los Angeles life as much as so many others do. I like the wave of change every few months – whether or not I’m ready for it. Here it comes.

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A DAY TRIP TO MONTAUK

The Steele Maiden: Day Trip to Montauk

Believe it or not (and I’m firmly in the camp of denial), there are only a few weekends of true, pre-Labor Day summer left. How that happened is always a mind boggling question – but if you are anything like me, you intend to soak them up. One of my favorite weekends of the Summer was the one that Adam and I spent road-tripping out to Montauk (at the very end of the Hamptons). Since I never got around to sharing some of our favorite spots from that trip I figured I would do it now – while you still have time to get out there!

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GETTING THERE:

There are a few ways to get all the way out to the ‘End of the World’ as Montauk is lovingly nicknamed by us New Yorkers – but we chose to drive. It’s our preferred mode of transport (Adam loves to drive in a way that few people I’ve ever met do) and I love the convenience of being able to pack 2 books and 3 pairs of shoes and not worrying about the weight of schlepping them. Win, win. If you don’t have the luxury of a car and don’t want to rent one, there’s the Hampton Jitney bus or the train. Weekend tickets tend to book up so buy ahead and if you’re driving I suggest leaving bright and early. We did so and avoided almost all traffic, making it from Manhattan to Montauk in about 2.5 hours.

WHAT TO DO:

When we plan a day trip we like to make a pretty good plan of attack (there is less of a luxury of ‘wandering’ the way we do on longer trips) so we went straight to the very end of Montauk first and then worked our way inland throughout the day so that by the end, we were already pointed out of town. First up was Montauk Lighthouse in Montauk Point State Park which was a complete gem of a spot. We didn’t bother going up to the lighthouse itself because we were there for the views and the rocky coastline. We ended up having the beach nearly to ourselves and wandered along the rocks in the morning sun. Well worth the $8 parking lot fee.

Later in the day we made a pit stop at Gurney’s Montauk (as I described in this post). It’s a little more of a “scene” than our style (for example: the parking lot was full of fancy, shiny cars and when the young valet kid brought around Adam’s loud af Subaru with no front bumper, grinding the gears because he clearly had no idea how to drive a race car – we both just burst into laughter. Like how did they even let us into this place?! We tipped him nicely for trying his best and left the place in our usual cloud of smoke.) – but if you’re looking for a glam place with a beachside bar to relax and hang with friends this is it. You can rent a cabana to yourselves to gain access to their beachfront without actually staying at the resort.

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK:

The Lobster Roll back on the main road into town is a true, East Coast family-run seafood joint serving up no frills fare and the lobster rolls did not disappoint. Worth the line outside for sure. For dinner/drinks/music the ultimate Montauk scene lives at the Surf Lodge. Regrettably the place was completely booked and we couldn’t get in even to the bar without having had a dinner reservation. Learn from our mistake and book ahead. Our back-up was to head over the Montauk Brewing Company, because it has all of their homegrown beers on tap, obviously, but also because it had a backyard style hang-out area that offered some shade.

Any other favorites in Montauk? I’d love to get back out there in the remaining weeks of Summer or early Fall!

The Steele Maiden: Day Trip to Montauk The Steele Maiden: Day Trip to MontaukThe Steele Maiden: Day Trip to Montauk The Steele Maiden: Day Trip to Montauk The Steele Maiden: Day Trip to Montauk

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THE STEELE MAIDEN BOOK CLUB: CHAPTER FOUR

The Steele Maiden Book Club: August

And we’re back with another chapter of my #SteeleMaidenBookClub (and what is quickly becoming one of the posts I look forward to the most each month). In July I really switched up the type of books I was reading (you can see last month’s here), from my standard, go-to fiction, to a more diverse range. And I was thrilled with the results. Below, my thoughts on July’s reading + what I’ve got on my shelf for August. Hope you’ll find something here you might like too!

The Woman in the Window by A.J.Finn: Without giving anything away – the story is set in New York and centers on a woman who has a fear of leaving the house so she spends her days watching her neighbors through the window. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a thriller (I guess there was Gone Girl a few years ago, but aside from that it’s probably been a decade) and this one didn’t disappoint. Although I must really be out of practice at reading thrillers because my co-worker read this in the weeks after I did and totally guessed one of the major plot twists that I hadn’t suspected. Alas. Either way it was a quick, edge of my seat read that I really enjoyed. Not surprisingly, it’s going to be made into a movie. Do yourself a favor and read the book first.

Motherhood by Shelia Heti: Where do I start with this one? It was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It follows a loose storyline but is essentially just a stream of conscious, honest account of a 30-something year old woman thinking about her decision whether or not to have children. If you’ve wanted to be a mother since you were 5 years old or already are one.. this honestly might not be for you. But if you are a woman, who even once in her life has had the fleeting (or reoccurring) thought ‘I’m not sure if I’d be a great mother’, ‘I’m not sure if I really want to have kids’, ‘I’m not sure if kids would fit into the life I had dreamed for myself’, ‘I’m not sure if I want to have kids with my current partner’ etc. etc. – then I think this would really hit home.

I didn’t agree with everything here, but I don’t think that’s the point. The point is that for most of my life I’ve rarely heard women brave enough to say ‘I’m not sure if motherhood is for me’. I know a few who spoke about it being a firm no and almost all of the rest who seemed to follow the same societal script of ‘I can’t wait to get married and have kids’. Neither is right or wrong – but that grey area? It doesn’t get discussed as often as I think it should. Below, a few of the passages that I found particularly striking (and then I’ll move on):

“I don’t want to make somebody else. I want to make myself.”

“Being a woman, you can’t just say you don’t want a child. You have to have some big plan or idea of what you’re going to do instead. And it better be something great. And you had better be able to tell it convincingly – before it even happens – what the arc of your life will be.

“It suddenly seemed like a huge conspiracy to keep women in their thirties – when you finally have some brains and some skills and experience – from doing anything useful with them at all.”

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain: This was a tough one. Not because I didn’t love it (I really, really loved it), but because I think I was secretly searching each page for an answer as to why his life would end the way it did. Anthony Bourdain is someone I always greatly respected and admired, and this book only cemented that. He was a man that lived really fully and wasn’t afraid to make mistakes or start over. I like a person that I think would have my back in a bar fight and he would certainly be one of those people. Aside from all of that, this book is sort of a exposé on all things in New York kitchens. It’s hilarious, humbling and at times heartbreaking. I finished the book with such an respect for the people who make a living in a kitchen, but not all the answers. Aside from the fact that sometimes it seems, even the best of us can get lost along the way. I only wish someone had been there to have his back in the fight.

SHOP THIS MONTH’S BOOK CLUB:

For this upcoming month I’m sticking with a variety of types of books since I loved the results of that in July so much. I’ve got Mrs. Fletcher (a romp of a read apparently), Station Eleven (YA fiction set in the aftermath of an apocalypse), The Female Persuasion (a very-buzzy current fiction pick that I’m excited to dive into about female relationships between mentors, friends, bosses, etc.) and Born to Run (Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography) on my shelf for August. Feel free to read along with me!

SHOP NEXT MONTH’S BOOK CLUB:

 

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LET’S CATCH UP 8.4.18

The Steele Maiden: Summer at the Lake - Madewell Chambray Denim Jumpsuit

It’s been a long time since I’ve done these end of week ‘life lately’ type of posts and I found I was really missing them as a way to share the random bits that don’t quite fit into another full post. So I’m bringing ’em back! Read and then go forth, and weekend my friends.

  1. I lost my eyeglasses last week (that had an out of date prescription anyway) so it was high time I placed an order for a new pair. I went with these – somehow both bold and neutral at the same time? Either way I like them. And can’t wait to not be squinting at the TV anymore.
  2. If you have Amazon Prime I can’t recommend their series Marvelous Mrs. Maisel enough. The sets, the costumes, the humor. All of it is so so good (I watched it once on my own and am re-watching season 1 now with Adam). They’re filming season 2 in New York right now and I can’t wait for it to come out.
  3. I’ve been trying to get back into the swing of working out and found that if I do (at the bare minimum) this 15-20 minute routine (suggested by blogger Olivia Jeanette) every single day I feel pretty good. I only started last week so I’ll let you know what the results are. Basically, do 20 each of the following:
    1. Push-ups
    2. Bicep Curls (each side with 5-10lb weight – I use these 8lb weights)
    3. Tricep Extensions (each side with 5-10 lb weight)
    4. Shoulder Press (each side with 5-10lb weight)
    5. Crunches
    6. Leg Lifts
    7. Pelvic Thrusts
    8. Squats
  4. After last weekend’s sun-soaked adventure at the lake (as you can see in the photo above) my skin really needed some loving. This Elemis superfood charged facial oil and day-time & night-time moisturizer is pricey but I see a noticeable difference in the appearance of my skin when I use it consistently.
  5. With rain in the forecast and no plans for this weekend, I plan on jumping in to my August book club picks (sharing soon – you can see what I had on July’s list here). How cute are these floral sweatpants for lazy days at home?
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STEELE MAIDEN AT HOME: WHAT’S NEXT IN MY APARTMENT MAKEOVER

Steele Maiden At Home: What's Next in My Apartment Makeover

Ever since the Entryway reveal (full post here) I’ve been itching to tackle another home project. Since this is more of a slow burn rather than a marathon (meaning I want to carefully finish each room exactly how I want it instead of racing to finish just so I can share here or be ‘done’), I figured in the meantime I’d share a little bit more about what I’m thinking of next and things that are in the pipeline for the apartment.

Kitchen: 

The obvious constraint here is that it’s a rental, meaning the cabinets and the countertop have to remain as is. But to counteract the slightly off-white counters I painted the backsplash area the same deep navy as the entryway and love how it made the whole area seem richer. I’m considering updating the drawer and cabinet pulls and the most major project is potentially adding a faux backsplash tile behind the stove. Thinking this would be tiles adhered to plywood and then attached to the wall? Something fairly non-invasive. Still scheming here but the thought of adding a pop of pattern really tempts me. Otherwise, on the hunt for a cool wall clock or piece of art to anchor the area and maybe a small rug.

Steele Maiden At Home: What's Next in My Apartment Makeover

Bedroom: This area is definitely a work in progress. So far the standout is this custom blue velvet headboard that my parents (and Grandmother! Hi Mom-Mom!) and I put together the last time I was home in PA. I had fallen in love with the fabric (from Calico Corners – where my Mom works) but wanted to avoid the cost of custom upholstery and didn’t want to DIY from scratch – so I purchased this inexpensive headboard from Wayfair and then simply added batting and staple gunned this fabric around it to cover. Voila!

I’m still in desperate need of small nightstand/side tables and sconces to go above and am really wanting to wallpaper the wall behind the bed as a major accent. Since, again, it’s a rental I’d need to get the owner to approve that or go the removable route. Although I can’t find any I love quite as much as this paper from Anthropologie. It feels like something you’d see in a boutique hotel somewhere near a beach – which is essentially exactly what I want the bedroom to feel like. An idyllic escape and endless summer.

Steele Maiden At Home: What's Next in My Apartment Makeover

Living Room: This area has probably made the least progress but I’ve got big plans. That involve some bigger ticket purchases like a couch and arm chair, finding a piece of large scale art that I love and swapping a rather clunky large bookcase for something like a console and open shelves that feel visually lighter and a fireplace renovation. Remember those kitchen tiles I mentioned? I want to build a faux hearth in front of the brick fireplace to expand it. Hoping by year’s end I’ve got these things going.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with everything I want to do around here, but alas – Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither is a stylish small apartment. Here’s to crossing off one thing at a time!

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