LET’S CATCH UP 1.21.24

I swear it always feels like January lasts 3 months and all of Oct/Nov/Dec lasts about 3 weeks. I’m reminding myself that in the second half of last year I would have given anything for an entire weekend to spend padding around the apartment, sleeping in, reading and writing, planning out the weeks and months to come. So I better go ahead and relish it now. And for the most part I think I’m doing a good job of it. But still, it’s a long month. Below – what’s on my mind, on my bookshelf and in my cart (it will have to linger there for awhile…) as we head into a new week ahead.


  • I credit Julia Child (see below) but I was feeling inspired to cook this week. I made this Sausage, White Bean and Spinach soup tonight and am going to try these Ginger Meatballs with Peanut Sauce (found via Meghan of Wit & Whimsy) later this week. I also meal prepped my lunches for the week and went with this super simple combo that I make often (no real recipe): Sauté brussel sprouts over medium heat, then add steamed lentils and top with sesame dressing. That’s it! Easy to re-heat at the office and plenty filling.
  • I can’t be the only one that’s itching for a vacation with this frigid weather. I’m dreaming of someplace warm but also really want to prioritize exploring some new cities this year. Alas, we’re also dreaming of buying an apartment. The budget is in a delicate balance these days!
  • The joy of really starting to prioritize my diet and fitness in the middle of last year (read more about those changes here) is that by now I’m about 7 months in and on a steady roll. I’m still finding the Sweat App to be great at targeting arms, abs or legs in 30 minutes flat and complete 3 of those workouts a week (I’m currently on week 28 of 3.0 HIIT). Outside of that I try to run twice a week and also throw in a treadmill hike or long walk as a low impact day. I’m also really excited to try Pilates at a local studio! Something that for years I’ve been interested in but too intimidated to do – but suddenly feel like it’s no big deal.. so what if I’m a beginner, that’s how you learn! One thing I’ve started doing is using my weekly planner to write out all of my workouts in advance – so there’s less wavering in the mornings. It’s already in pen on the page, there’s no erasing it!


  • I just finished My Life in France by Julia Child and absolutely loved it – it’s a love letter to France and food, but more than that it’s such a lesson in always staying curious about the world around you and finding and pursuing new passions at any age. Plus – her relationship with Paul was so lovely to read. Adam and I spent Saturday morning watching old black and white episodes of her cooking show on YouTube – I love when a book leads you down a rabbit hole!
  • My virtual book club (over 3 years strong!) has picked Mercury by Amy Jo Burns as our next book. It’s a family drama set in the 90s in Pennsylvania – as a PA native that rarely reads books set in the state, I’m interested to see how true I find the setting. I’ve heard rave reviews so far.
  • I’m doing my damndest to write an earnest first draft of a novel this year and have turned to Stephen King’s On Writing for encouragement after my best friend Claire (who is working on the same goal!) recommended it. I have admittedly never read King but his advice isn’t genre specific and I’m finding it really thoughtful.
  • I’m starting The Rachel Incident by Irish author Caroline O’Donoghue tonight – it was blurbed by Gabrielle Zevin (of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow fame, which I loved last year) so I have high hopes. Will report back!


  • The #75hardstylechallenge was all over Instagram at the start of this year and I’m doing my best to stick with it! Essentially you get dressed every day for 75 days (so until about mid-March), document every outfit and don’t buy anything new. Aside from the heavy snow/rain or bitterly cold days lately I’ve been doing a fairly good job at it so far. I’m not feeling like I need to stick to it 100% but it is certainly making me get more creative with my wardrobe and is a nice financial reset after an expense-heavy 2023.
  • That being said, I finallyyy treated myself to some new workout gear (I hadn’t bought anything new in probably 3 years) at the end of last year and so far the hero pieces have been this high impact sports bra (nothing moves, even when running!) and this jumpsuit that quite literally fits like a glove and is under $30.
  • While I’m doing my best to not shop these next couple of months, I’m keeping a running ‘wish list’ for things that catch my eye and then once I’m ready to spend, I’ll be able to really assess what will fill wardrobe gaps, what I’m still swooning over, etc. It’s actually been a fun exercise! On my list as of now: this punchy tweed cropped jacket, these classic cat eye sunglasses at a good price and this corset-effect denim dress (I wore a similar silhouette dress from this brand in white to the after party of our wedding and loved it SO much).
  • My current favorite lip combo – this Jones Road Beauty liner in Nude Rose and this Urban Decay lipstick in Love Trap. The result is a natural, rosy winter pink with just a hint of shine.
  • Adam got me this robe for Christmas and it’s SO cozy for a cold winter’s morning. Feels just like the super plush hotel robes I always love.



2023 was a year of incredible highs and some fairly challenging lows, which was great in the sense of personal growth – but when it came to my reading life meant that I often found myself struggling to find the time/brain space that I usually have. In total, I read 45 books last year – a totally fine number but low for me lately (the least I’ve read since 2019!) and much of that was in the first half of the year before things really went off the rails in the second half. All that to say, I’m really excited for the year ahead when I can reset and get back into the swing of my more usual reading routine. But before I do that – a look back at the books I loved in 2023. In no particular order, below are my top 10.

It was interesting to see that 7 out of 10 were backlist titles (published over a year ago) and 4 out of 10 were from authors I’d read and loved on past year’s lists. A great reminder to explore back into an author’s catalogue and also to not be afraid to look beyond shiny new releases to find books I might have missed (or never even heard of!) for the chance at discovering things I’ll love.

For even more great reading recs, here are my ‘best of’ lists from 2022, 2021, 2020 and 2019! What a fun tradition to look back on.

Now for the list:

The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett – I read 3 titles by Ann Patchett last year (I’m clearly a fan) and had a hard time deciding as I honestly loved them all – but her debut novel was absolutely stunning to me from a story-telling point of view. The main characters will remain in my mind for a long time to come. Honorable mention though to Truth & Beauty (a memoir on friendship) and These Precious Days (an incredible collection of essays).

Last Summer in the City by Gianfranco Calligarich – This book might have been the biggest surprise read of the year. I picked it up on a whim one day and took it with me to Central Park to read. I ended up devouring it and the story of a young restless man spending a hot summer in Rome has stayed with me. It was originally published in the 70s in Italian before going out of circulation and only much later was translated and re-published. Those in the literary world have since compared it to The Catcher in the Rye or The Great Gatsby though and regard it as a ‘lost classic’. It’s not a happy story but there was so much depth and truth in it and I found it really accessible for a translated work.

I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley – I love a good essay collection for when I’m in a reading slump. This one had Crosley’s signature self depracating wit – and while not all of the essays have held up fully since this was published in 2008, for the most part it was a fun time, and sometimes that’s just exactly what I want a book to be. Especially loved the essay on being a bridesmaid!

Strip Tees: A Memoir of Millenial Los Angeles by Kate Flannery – You might have had to have been an American Apparel wearing early 20 something in the years 2008-2012 for this to really hit home, but if you were – read this. This memoir follows the spectacular rise and crashing fall of AA during the early Aughts and the general Indie Sleaze (dying over this term but it’s truly so accurate) of that particular time in New York and LA. It was a wild time. I had fun reading this while also being horrified by the inner workings of that company.

Flight by Lynn Steger Strong – I read this right at the end of last year, and while it takes place over the holidays I think it would be a great winter read in general. It’s short but packs a punch as it immediately dives into a complicated family dynamic and is set over the course of a few tense days. If you liked the sort of quiet drama found in Commonwealth by Ann Patchett or Olympus Texas by Stacey Swann – I think you’d really like this.

Slow Days, Fast Company by Eve Babitz – This is my third Eve Babitz and I still find myself falling under the spell of her uniquely ‘Los Angeleno’ voice. Originally published in 1977 and the only other non-fiction that made my list this year, if you want to know what it was really like to find yourself young and restless in LA in the ’60s/70s – you want this collection of essays.

Eve in Hollywood by Amor Towles – A different Eve in LA! Last year I read and loveddd Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility. This hard to find novella follows one of the main characters from that novel, Eve, out to LA in a series of short vignettes. His writing was captivating as always and I loved getting a chance to revisit this character. (Note: this book is hard to find but it looks like it’s being re-published this spring along with a collection of his other short stores – preorder here)

Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano – Based very loosely on the structure of Little Women this story follows a group of sisters in a tight-knit family and a boy who intersects their lives – told over decades. I really loved this story – such rich and complex characters. If you’re a fan of The Dutch House, I think you’d like this one.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld – When I think back on the books that really stuck with me from 2023, this one is high on the list. I don’t know that I’ve ever read something that so archly bends the lines between truth and fiction – this story is an ‘alternate reality’ in which Hillary Rodham doesn’t end up with Bill Clinton and their political lives diverge and intersect throughout the decades to come. I thought it was brilliantly executed.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin – If I had to play favorites, this one would sit in the #1 spot. A novel about two childhood friends that go on to design video games together. It’s about love and ambition and creative pursuits and work and friendship and ego and.. just read it. I don’t care about video games at all and I loved this.



Resolutions can be divisive and I get that. I’m one of those admittedly annoying people that happens to love making a clear set of goals for myself at the start of each year. And while I won’t bore you with everything on my ’24 for ’24 List’ (some are as mundane as find a new dentist) I did want to share how I’m approaching them as a whole. Intentions and process rather than outcomes and shiny ‘afters’. As I look at the new year ahead I keep coming back to this phrase (from James Clear’s newsletter this week):

Think in decades, act in days. 

When I consider the areas of my life where I’ve been met with any modicum of success thus far, it’s been because – without phrasing it as such – I’ve adopted this outlook. 

– Career

– Personal Finances

– Health

– Relationships

All of it has been best served when I’ve had a long-term macro sense of where I wanted to be and then took small, measurable, daily actions in the interim towards those goals. I removed motivation and luck and divine intervention from the equation. It’s not fate that’s going to keep Adam and I together, or winning the lottery that’s going to stabilize my retirement, or some magic pill that’s going to help me stay in shape. It’s small acts, day by day.

In other, punchier, words: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. 

Case in point  – I’ve got several goals this year that this applies to perfectly. How do I publish a book someday? I write 1,000 words a week. How do I maintain my current strength/fitness? I wake-up at 6:15AM and exercise before work everyday, I add mileage to my running routine, I continue to be mindful to what I eat and drink. How do Adam and I plan for our financial future while also making the most of our current place in life as child-free newlyweds? We keep an active working budget that we review weekly and make joint decisions on new purchases/experiences along with savings/investments. It feels, if not easy, then simple.

In reality, I’m sure there will be days when this approach feels hard rather than frictionless, and I’m not talking about a year of relentless self improvement, but I do think that this simple phrase is a great guiding light for me personally as I look forward to 2024. 

I leave you with another phrase that gave me pause this week (it’s a week of motivational phrases – I’m not sorry!)

If it’s not: making me happier, making me money, making me better – I’m not doing it.

Here’s to 2024 friends.



If I had to name the moment that this year changed from a slow ascent towards a rollercoaster’s summit into a free-wheeling ride filled with highs, lows and some fairly profound personal growth – I’d pin it all on May 13th. The night of the Taylor Swift Eras Tour in Philadelphia. Her ‘hometown’ show and the day I turned 36. Maybe some magic was released from seeing her perform the soundtrack to the last nearly two decades of my life, a song to match every crushing heartbreak and soaring love, every personal stumble and hard-fought success. Perhaps it was being back in Pennsylvania with my childhood best friend, who was there the night I turned 18 (another formidably memorable birthday) and now, having exactly doubled our age, was still there laughing and screaming by my side. Or the fact that Adam drove two hours each way just to chauffeur us safely to the stadium (if you find someone that exhibits this type of endless generosity, I suggest you marry them).

Was it something in the confrontation of these past selves that allowed me to let go of some of the weight they’d been carrying? I could be giving Taylor too much credit here.. but I doubt it. You try standing beside 70,000 (mostly) girls and screaming a 10 minute break-up song written 10 years ago and see if you’re not changed for the better.

When I go to recap the specifics there was the highlight reel that you all saw – the early spring getaway to Palm Springs, the walking marathon of NYC, Springsteen at Madison Square Garden with my Dad and Taylor (twice!) and lots of other smaller shows in between, the fun nights out in New York, the weekends at the lake, our wedding (!!!) and subsequent honeymoon in Paris and the South of France. Core memories created.

On the flip side, there are the parts that are harder to capture on Instagram. Work nearly ate me alive at several points this year. Within a 2 month span leading up to our wedding Adam and I both had a beloved grandparent die. My Mom was diagnosed with Breast Cancer last month (I’m not sure that I’ll talk about this much more here – but send good thoughts, will you?). At one point I was so stressed I developed a stomach ulcer and then a small hernia. And that’s just the stuff that feels black and white, nameable.

Internally, the year has felt even more monumental. Without giving it too much thought, I quietly started to let go of a lot of the beliefs I’d been holding about myself. Negative notions that I’d been grasping far too tightly for far too long without really realizing. Some are seismic: that I wasn’t ready to lead a department at work, that maybe I wasn’t really marriage material, that my body had changed in a permanent way, that certain people’s thoughts/opinions were always going to cause me to spiral. Some more nuanced: that I needed the particular food/drink I was giving to myself, that certain places in New York weren’t open to me, that I wasn’t good at baking (an echo from when some old forgotten boyfriend told me I wasn’t), that I couldn’t actually write a book. For a person who feels fairly confident in who I am, it was pretty astounding once I started to confront some of these. As it turns out, I could change.. just by deciding to! Just by releasing the white knuckle grip I’d had on it all.

And so we decided to get married. Our relationship feels largely unchanged but we had such a joy-filled marker of the past 13 years and look ahead to the next decades with a fresh optimism. I’m wholly happy with our decision to do it. I like being one half of ‘The Steeles’.

I radically changed my relationship with food and drink. Part of it started under doctor’s orders due to the stomach ulcer – and then it all sort of snowballed. If you had asked me a year ago if I could go a week without alcohol or Diet Coke (probably most clingingly, the latter) I would have hated to answer. But now – no big deal. Maybe I have a couple diet cokes a week. Maybe I have 1 cocktail. Maybe other people at the table are drinking them and I’m not. Sugary sweets feel like a treat, but no longer a real craving. I found an equilibrium to what my body actually needed. I also found new solace and resolve in my workouts and look forward to them (instead of feeling burdened by them) most days of the week – pushing myself further and regaining the runner’s form I felt sure I’d lost forever. I end this year having shed just shy of 20 pounds, meaning I’m back to weighing nearly the same as I did at 18. But radically stronger. And it’s not about that number – it’s about the fact that I feel free from having to eat/drink certain things to feel like I can make it through the day. That a dinner without carbs doesn’t feel like a punishment but an investment in my longterm health. It’s about the fact that I feel strong when I workout and no longer feel bloated half the time and that I sleep better. It’s about having back an energy that I haven’t had in a long time.

I stepped up at work and was challenged and rewarded by it. I started booking reservations at the restaurants I’d always wanted to try here in New York but always felt intimidated by. I resolved to stop letting a person in my life get a rise out of me with their outlook on life – it’s probably their problem, but it’s certainly no longer mine. I baked every dessert for my family’s Thanksgiving meal and they all turned out great. I’m excited to try new recipes. I have a few thousand words towards my novel with a plan for how I’ll continue writing this year.

I feel free and grounded in a way that I’m not sure I ever have. I feel no sense of longing for the single woman I once was, no shame for the specific body that carried me these past 5+ years, no contempt for the girl that would prefer to have a second, and then a third, drink, no burden by the negativity that someone else exudes. I just don’t need to hold it all anymore. In letting go, I gained so much this year. I’ll truly never forget 2023 – it’s unique highs and lows – and can’t wait to see what 2024 brings. I suspect there will be more joy, more challenges, more loss – and I feel better positioned to take it all.

Lastly, a sincere thank you to you all for being here – I felt bolstered by so many of you this year and I feel continually grateful for this small sliver of the internet. I hope that there were plenty of lessons and love in the past 365 days for you all. See you in the new year.

LET’S CATCH UP 12.27.23

Can you believe we’re in the final throes of 2023? What a strange and wonderful and wild year. I’ll have a full recap coming later this week, but for now – let’s slow down and catch up. I’m on my last more working day of the year before some much needed time off and am so looking forward to a bit of self care/home care (hair appointments are booked, closets are waiting to be organized) plus a few fun plans thrown in here and there. Below – what else is on my mind, on my bookshelf and in my cart (holy sales!). Hope you’re all enjoying the holidays and are carving out some time for yourselves this week.


  • We still haven’t made concrete NYE plans – but I’m leaning towards an early dinner out (so we have the chance to still dress up and feel the New York City buzz) and then home by 10ish to watch When Harry Met Sally (a NYE tradition of ours) and see the ball drop. In bed by 12:30PM. Sounds good to me?
  • I’ve had the itch to start a newsletter for years now as a way to collect ideas in a looser format than here on the blog – maybe 2024 will be the time? I’m loving following people on Substack lately, especially Joanna Goddard, Olivia Meunter and Becky Malinsky.
  • I’m getting the aforementioned, much needed, haircut tomorrow and I’m veryyy tempted to go full Jenny Walton – the ultimate in chic, no?
  • I can’t believe it’s taken me two months (a reflection of how hectic life has been) but I am finally going to see ‘Priscilla‘ tomorrow night. Since ‘The Virgin Suicides’ days, I’ve wanted nothing more than to live in a Sofia Coppola dream world.
  • Speaking of watching – we’ve been saving the following to get us through the dark nights of winter: Season 2 of The Gilded Age, the second half of The Crown final season, and the new season of The Great British Baking Show.


  • I can’t wait to have some time to really dive into books over my extended holiday weekend. My TBR stack has gotten a bit out of control and I generally feel a bit off balance when I’m not reading regularly – plus, as with every year, after indulging in a few back to back saccharine holiday rom-coms my brain is ready for something more literary. Here’s what’s in my stack:
  • I just picked up Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford – a historical biography from 2001 on the infamous mistress of Louis XV. The non-fiction feels like a nice mental change of space and I’m loving being transported back to Versailles.
  • Continuing on the backlist train, I found a copy of Empire Falls by Richard Russo (from 2002, it won the Pulitzer that year) and can’t wait to dive in. I’ve heard the setting of this novel described as a literary Stars Hollow (of Gilmore Girls fame) and you know I was sold.
  • Okay a newer one: Happy Hour by Marlowe Granados – The New Yorker called this as refreshing as gin fizz and likened it to having ‘all the barbed charm of Nancy Mitford’ – who just so happened to write the Madame de Pompadour previously mentioned. I love bookish serendipity like this! It’s a debut novel about a young ingenue moving to New York City in the pursuit of pleasure – didn’t we all?
  • If my library hold ever comes in, I’ll be able to start my next pick for book club: Go As A River by Shelley Read. A coming of age story set in Colorado, this has been billed as good for fans of Where the Crawdads Sing.



  • So. many. sales. I plan to do a big closet clean-out later this week and donate a bunch of things that no longer align with my style, don’t fit or just aren’t getting worn for one reason or another. That way I’ll be able to better see what gaps I might need filled in my wardrobe. My approach to the sales to this time of year is to stock up on basics, fill wardrobe gaps and snag pieces from great, quality brands that at full price might be just outside of my price range. Here’s what I’m eyeing and have already been buying:
  • J.Crew’s Sale is an extra 60% off – this lace jacket, striped henley and fair isle sweater are all hanging in my cart. You can’t beat those prices!
  • I have a similar pair of these Talbots shearling boots from a past season, but if I didn’t I’d 100% be grabbing these! So cozy and would be cute with jeans, leggings or even skirt and tights. They’re an extra 40% off right now + 20% off on top of that today! And if you don’t already own them – my favorite wide leg trousers are on sale too! Same goes for this faux leather blazer. Thank me later.
  • I’ve been watching Charleston based boutique Hampden Clothing for ages now – even more so after a colleague of mine moved back to South Carolina and took on an art director role there. They sell so many amazing designer brands mixed in with smaller labels that are new to me. They generously let me take a crack at their End of Season Sale section and I made out like a bandit – I can’t wait for this denim jumpsuit, these chocolate suede pumps and this suede mini skirt to arrive. All an extra 20% off right now!
  • Alex Mill is having a rare sale right now and I’m eyeing this corduroy vest. Grandpa-core is trending in case you haven’t heard.
  • Have you heard of Frances Valentine? It’s like the older sister to Kate Spade – same wit, but a little less sweet and a little more classic. I’ve long admired their bags and, at an extra 30% off the sale price, might finally grab this wool plaid one to add a pop of color against solid color coats this season.
  • Reformation is having a pretty killed End of Season Sale and stock is going fast. I grabbed this fitted cashmere cardigan (size up if you’re tall as it’s a bit cropped), this leopard print mini dress (just waiting for winter date nights) and these fun plaid pants to add a bit of spice to my winter wardrobe doldrums.
  • Shopbop has an extra 30% off sale styles too – I have this dress in a gold metallic knit but I love the slate grey/blue for a more dressed down vibe. Would be great for a warm weather escape this winter – and that price! A nice belt has been on my wishlist too and I love the look of this one – classic and not too logo-heavy.
  • French Connection is extra 40% off sale – this double breasted vest dress, this faux leather skirt and this tweed blazer and mini skirt set are all absolute workhorses in my wardrobe since fall – highly recommend. I’m eyeing this faux leather and fur vest.