Wearing Winter Well

Attention Belles,
The world’s temperature gauge seems to be on the fritz–snow in Houston? Australia has the hottest day on Earth?
Dallas has been moodier than usual, with 30-degree temperature drops in just under 8 hours. How’s a girl to dress for such volatility without feeling like a woman in menopause? With several years experience in the dry, cold state of Wisconsin–where winter stays for 7 months out of the year–I’ve got the Holy Grail you’re looking for, so keep reading!

1. Hydrate

I bet you didn’t expect this to be the first thing on our list but it is THE MOST IMPORTANT. Beauty stems from the inside out and the best way to look amazing is if your body feels amazing. In case you didn’t know, winter is dry, ladies! Up the amount of water you drink in the day by at least half to compensate for it. A happy, hydrated body shows its gratefulness in your hair by giving you plump, strong roots, and in your skin by keeping it bright and wrinkle-free. My recommendation: Opt for water when you go out for lunch or dinner, and make a transparent water bottle a permanent fixture on your desk at the office. That way, you always know how much water you’ve drunk throughout the day. Check out this sleek bottle from Urban Outfitters or this floral one from JCPenney.

2. Moisturize

Ever look down at your hands and think they look like your grandmother’s? Get yourself some lotion, missy, because your hands are dry! Dry skin doesn’t have the suppleness and elasticity of well-hydrated skin and, left unattended too long, can have painful consequences. Dry skin tends to wrinkle and crack much more easily, leaving scars. The only thing that has proven to effectively prevent signs of aging is moisturizing, so whether it’s your face, hands, back or feet, keep them youthful by applying lotion any time you feel them drying up. I keep a bottle in my car and several in my office so I’m never caught without! An added bonus of this: your makeup will glide on more smoothly and stay on longer without creasing. God-send, am I right? My favorites are the Chloe Love Story, this Stress Relief lotion from Bath & Body Works, and this delightful Lavender and Honey lotion.

Don’t have time for a daily full-body moisturizing session? Try this in-shower moisturizer that I’ve been loving!
Curel Hydra Therapy Wet Skin Moisturizer

3. Tie up your hair

Summer isn’t the only time to wear braids and cute updos. Winter can really suck the life out of our locks, leaving them limp and staticky, so keep them safe from all the static, knots, and split-ends by tying them up. Get creative! Add sparkle and fun with winter-themed hairpins and Elsa-inspired hairdos. Or let subtle metals enhance the elegance of an all-black outfit you’re rocking.
Need ideas? Check out this Youtube channel:
Kayley Melissa

4. Leave-in Conditioner/Hair Masks

Cold winter winds can be harsh and drying on your strands, so do yourself a favor and increase the frequency of your deep-moisturizing hair treatments. You’ll see your hair can look full and fabulous all winter long if you give it the care and love it needs.
The Macademia Nourishing Moisture Masque and the It’s a Ten Miracle Leave-In product leave my hair silky, full, and shiny every time.

5. Think Layers!

Staying warm and cozy is key in the winter, right? But how do we dress in layers without looking like a bulky marshmallow? One word: Cashmere. I highly recommend investing in a few cashmere sweaters of varying length to be worn over tanks, shirts, or even other sweaters! Stylish warmth isn’t an oxymoron when you’ve got these great pieces in your closet to mix and match.
Try this, this, or this beautiful design.

6. The Right Jacket for the Temperature

Frozen may be a great movie, but it’s not a cute look. What most people don’t realize is that jackets come with a temperature range. You wouldn’t wear a puffer jacket in the sweltering summer heat, would you? You shouldn’t wear a peacoat on windy, 30-degree days either.
– Temperatures in the 50s call for shorts! Psych! But I’ve seen that happen in Wisconsin, so don’t laugh too hard. But most light jackets like this faux fur leopard print coat or this chic, army green moto jacket work well in this weather.

– If you’re dealing with temps in the 40s or even upper 30s, a quality, wool peacoat like this one, a scarf and some gloves will get you through, nice and toasty–just remember to layer inside too! Check out this Burberry duffle coat, this Alpaca number, or this beautiful woolen parka.

– Temperatures in the 30s or lower call for some kind of feather down material. That doesn’t mean it needs to be puffy. Check out this sleek, quilted coat from Eddie Bauer! They’ve got many more, but this was my favorite.

Quilted Parka.PNG


Stay Warm, Belles.


Dieting? Eat Turkey. Gobble Gobble!

Blog post written by: OhDaisyBi

It can be hard to keep fit and stick to your healthy lifestyle during the holiday season. You start a diet or exercise plan and tell yourself that you will only take one day off and then go back to being healthy. The only problem is that you don’t go back.

We’ve all been there.

The Holiday Season kick starts with Halloween, followed shortly by Thanksgiving, then Hanukkah and Christmas, and finally the New Year. The festivities never seem to end! And we aren’t considering delicious seasonal favorites like the pumpkin spice latte! The calories can add up fast.

Although the holidays fill us with lots of joy, they can be tight on our jeans’ waistbands. Here are a few “tricks” that will allow you to enjoy the festive meals and stick to your healthy lifestyle.

1. Wear a Corset.

One downside to our perception of the holiday feast is to eat to our fill, and then some. To stop yourself from overeating, wear a corset. The idea of a corset may seem archaic, something that came out of the Victorian days, but it has its uses.

The corset restricts the amount the stomach stretches and limits overeating. You can also wear it all year round. Other benefits include:

  • Eating slowly,
  • Eating frequently throughout the day,
  • Eating small quantities of all your favorite foods,
  • AND you don’t feel hungry!

What can be better than that?

I bought my first corset after my second pregnancy (I used a postpartum waist wrap after my first pregnancy). When selecting a corset, remember to be conservative with the sizes. I purchased two sizes, a large and a medium. The large helped me slim down to sizes 10 to 12, and the medium helped me get to size 6 to 8. I’m currently a size 6. If you want to know more about how I lost weight after my pregnancies (or losing weight in general), leave me a note in the comments below!

I personally recommend the Yianna Women’s Corset. This corset is a steal at $20.88 on Amazon. It is comfortable and hid well under my clothes. I’m also intrigued to try the Spanx Waist Cincher. This corset is sold at Target for $28.00.

So, put the corset on in the morning and wear it all day long while you munch away! You’ll stay within your calorie count, and you get to eat everything too. This is one time where you can have your cake and eat it too!

2. Eat Healthy

Keep in mind that the corset will not do all the work. You have to be mindful of what you eat too. So, stick to healthy carbohydrates:

  • Eat whole grain bread. Consider trying to cut down the amount of bread you eat altogether.
  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Eat turkey with light gravy.
  • Drink more water.
  • Include a larger quantity of fruit on your dessert plate with a small slice of pie on the side (Yum!)

Let the feast begin!

About the Author

OhDaisyBi is the newest edition to the Belles & Books blog. Lawyer by day, Mother of two by night, she will be posting about all things kid. She’s also passionate about answering the internet’s burning questions on the “Women Can Do It All” lifestyle– time management, budgeting and finance, and boss-woman things. In her “free” time she’s usually attempting Pinterest cooking ideas and working out. Join her on here every month for a new post!

Giving Thanks Under an Open Sky

Ah yes, Thanksgiving! It’s my husband’s favorite time of the year, and why not?  Football and an unlimited supply of food while lounging with the guys yelling at the TV, and looking forward to a mountain of leftover sandwiches for days to come! It’s any man’s dream! Of course, if your family is anything like mine, it can get a little cramped in the house. So this year, take thanksgiving…OUTDOORS! If you live in the south or have warmer weather during the holidays like I do, try to enjoy it out amongst the beauties of nature! It’s a fresh new outlook and offers a comfortable amount of space for large parties.

For all of you who love a little something new, below are a few of ideas on what you can do to make this into a reality!


What could be better than the natural canopies provided by trees? If you’ve been blessed with many trees in your backyard, it’s a perfect fixture to set and decorate your table. Hanging lanterns and fairy lights off the trees can add a little sparkle to your table décor and also help provide that soft glow if the natural light fades.


Centerpieces and table décor doesn’t have to be a huge expense! The best thing about fall is the changing of the leaves, and what better to adorn your tables than a bouquet of beautiful red, yellow, maroon and green leaves set with red and purple berries tied with twine string! This is a great way to get the kids involved in making some creative bouquets for the table settings!


Get creative with your left over Halloween décor! Chances are you still have a few of those tea candles and decorative pumpkins left over from last month! Recycle your décor brilliantly by experimenting with candles and small pumpkins as part of the table centerpieces. Candles of different sizes add dimension and a little fun to the whole theme of the table, and using simple place cards with a personalized message can be a beautiful way to show how much your family means to you.


Even with the warmest of weather, the evenings can get a bit chilly. Space heaters to the rescue! Help warm up the nights with a little heat so you can enjoy the outdoors a little longer without compromising that comfort.

Of course, there is no end to the creativity! These are just a few ways you can change up the holiday to add more space and sparkle and a little bit of your own custom touch to a meaningful get together!


MyFairLady is the latest addition to the Belles & Books writing team, so of course she’s an avid reader  ^_^ .  She’s a surgeon with a quirky side.  An ‘artsy’ mommy-to-be, she’ll be writing about design, decor, and DIY.  In her free time she indulges in new food finds around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. 
All images used in this post are from Google images.

Ready, Set, *Bang*: NaNoWriMo 2017

While some people are waking up to Nov 1st saying “Rabbit Rabbit”, writers all over the world have been up since midnight, furiously typing away in an attempt to write 50,000 words over the next 30 days. Why? Because it’s NaNoWriMo.

What’s NaNoWriMo?
NanoWrimMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. It happens every November and it is self-inflicted insanity. In every corner of the world, writers are meeting up online and in person, getting together simply to motivate each other to write their dream novels in a sprint-style race against the clock. The goal isn’t to have a publishable work, perfect and pristine at the end of the month. It’s to make PROGRESS. A typical novel has about 80,000 words. Getting 50,000 of those down on paper in a rough draft format is a huge accomplishment, and if you’ve ever been stuck with writer’s block, you’ll understand what I mean.

write everything

I first found out about NaNoWriMo almost 7 years back but never felt like I could do it. Not this year! This year, I’ll be joining the fray for the very first time and I couldn’t be more thrilled and excited to see what I can do when I’m really pushed to my limits. I’ll be busy typing away for the rest of the month so I won’t be posting live updates each week but if you want to know how I’m doing throughout the month, it’ll probably look a little like this:

NaNoWriMo Calendar.png

Check back here on December 1st for my reaction to what is, by unanimous vote, the craziest adventure any writer takes each year. Fingers crossed I’m not brain dead by then!

You should be writingWell said, Doctor. Well said. *Gulp*

Is Your House a “Trick” or *Treat*?


Post by: MyFairLady

OH, yes! Halloween! It’s that time of the year again, when you wake up to crisp cold mornings, oversized sweaters, pumpkin spiced lattes and well… outdoor decorations. There are essentially two types of Halloween decorations you see on the streets these days: the aspiring haunted house and the autumnal beauty, quite literally “Trick or Treat”.

Here are a few tips and ideas on how you can dress up your residence for the season.


Keeping It Simple

When on a small budget, the best thing to do is stick to one kind of scare feature! Sometimes subtlety is what makes the scare POP! Just pick what you think to be the scariest feature (skeletons, spiders, ghosts, ghouls, or even creepy pumpkins) and place it all over and around your residence. The effect is quite incredible.


Jump Scares

Sometimes the best scare is the one that comes at you unexpectedly and ends up giving you a mini heart attack! The genius behind this idea is making sure the scare is optimally hidden just long enough to allow for a jump scare. You can use human sized props and dress them to look like someone is standing by the door, or you can darken the front step and project screams and yells out of the front windows, or you can simply flicker the front porch lights when trick-o-treaters come by the house. Use the dark to your advantage.

Halloween Overload

This last idea is for those of us who like a bit of everything.  These are the homes where you will see a carnival of scares! Usually you don’t need a particular idea for this. All it involves is…well…EVERYTHING! From spider webs, to witches, flickering lights to skeletons, scarecrows and black cats, it basically looks like a Halloween ghoul party in your front lawn!


Warm colors

Beauty is the theme here, choosing fall flowers and colors to accent and highlight the season all over your front lawn can make the home feel rustic, and beautiful. Warm colors like maroons, oranges, yellows, reds, and dark greens all mix well to present a beautiful autumnal scene on your front lawn. You can even incorporate a cute scarecrow or corn stalks and pumpkins to add a little personality to the decoration.


MyFairLady is the latest addition to the Belles & Books writing team, so of course she’s an avid reader  ^_^ .  She’s a surgeon with a quirky side.  An ‘artsy fartsy’ mommy-to-be, she’ll be writing about design, decor, and DIY.  In her free time she indulges in new food finds around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. 

Halloween: Last Minute Costumes for Babies

Blog post written by: OhDaisyBi

Halloween is around the corner and it’s time to find a costume.  For those of us with babies or toddlers, it can be hard to find the time to buy a costume. Making a costume at home can be a memorable experience, and it can save you a pretty penny too.  Babies are hardest to dress up because they are fidgety and don’t keep their costume on. Here are 6 homemade costumes ideas for your child:

1. The French Man

french man

What you need:

  • striped shirt (color of your choice),
  • black pants
  • a beret,
  • eyeliner,
  • handkerchief,
  • baguette

Tie the handkerchief around his neck and draw a small mustache with the eyeliner.  Voila! Baby Monsieur is ready to trick or treat!

2. A Fairy Princess

Fairy Princess

What you need:

  • A cute dress or tutu,
  • a shirt if you opt for the tutu,
  • glitter,
  • flower headband,
  • straw,
  • construction paper,
  • glue or glue gun,
  • cardboard box,
  • elastic band

To make a wand, first cut two stars out of construction paper and decorate it with glitter.  Then glue the stars onto the straw.  If you don’t have a flower headband already, take some flowers and glue them onto an old headband you already have.  Let the wand and headband dry.

To make the wings, take the cardboard box and cut out the wings.  Glue the construction paper onto the cardboard box and decorate it with glitter.  Take two pieces of elastic band and glue it to your wings.  Let them sit and dry.  If you don’t want to make the wings, you can also buy them.

Just like magic your fairy princess is ready!

3. Kitten or Puppy

Face Paint

What you need:

  • a headband
  • construction paper or felt, and
  • black eye liner,
  • black shirt,
  • black pants or tights

To make your cute little puppy or kitten, glue some construction paper (for upright ears) or felt (for floppy ears) onto a headband.   Use extra construction paper to make spots or distinctive strips on the clothes.  You can put white clothes and black spots for an adorable dalmatian, or all black clothes for a curious kitty cat.  Make the whiskers, freckles, and button nose with black eyeliner.

4. Bunch of Grapes (Toddler Only)

Bunch of Grapes

What you need:

  • green pants or tights,
  • purple shirt (or onesie for a baby),
  • 5 inch purple balloons,
  • string.

To make your yummy grapes, blow up all the balloons and tie them to a string.  Place the balloons 2-3 inches apart.  Wrap the string around your child’s tummy and shoulders. Pop the balloons around the bum so they can sit, and avoid wrapping around the neck.  Your scrumptious bunch of grapes are ready!

5. Clark Kent

clark kent

What you need:

  • A white button down shirts,
  • pants,
  • superman t-shirt,
  • fake glasses.

This one is easy! Put the white shirt on top of the superman shirt, and unbutton the top few buttons to reveal the “S.”  Its a bird, its a plane, its SUPER BABY!

6. Little Bo Peep. 

Little Bo Peep

What you need:

  • Full sleeve black shirt,
  • black pants or tights,
  • glue gun,
  • lots of cotton balls,
  • black eye liner.

Glue the cotton balls all over the shirt.  Draw the button nose and whiskers with black eyeliner.  Put it all together and you have your Little Bo Peep!

Photo sources: Pinterest

About the Author

OhDaisyBi is the newest edition to the Belles & Books blog. Lawyer by day, Mother of two by night, she will be posting about all things kid. She’s also passionate about answering the internet’s burning questions on the “Women Can Do It All” lifestyle– time management, budgeting and finance, and boss-woman things. In her “free” time she’s usually attempting Pinterest cooking ideas and working out. Join her on here every month for a new post!

Halloween Movie Review: IT

Every since American Horror Story started up, for me, Halloween has stopped being about trick or treating and taken on a new shape–one of true horror. This year’s remake release of Stephen King’s IT is exactly the kind of movie to put you in the Halloween mood.

Confront your worst nightmares this month with IT, as a young group of 7 often-bullied high school teens make it their mission to find out why so many kids are disappearing in their small town of Derry. There’s blood, there’s jump scares, and best of all, there is a ton of screaming, Stranger Things edition–Finn Wolfhard from the cast of Stranger Things does another fantastic job in an 80’s throwback movie, screaming for his life. (Speaking of, who’s ready for today’s premiere of Stranger Things 2?! This girl, right here.)

A terrifying clown haunts our screen and the back of our eyelids as it takes on the shape of each person’s worst fears, be they rational or irrational. And because IT transformed from one person’s to another’s so frighteningly accurately, I couldn’t help wondering what mine would be.

I especially enjoyed the dialogue in this movie. It was witty, sarcastic, and on point. Each character was distinct but when the group of outcasts banded together, they didn’t seem awkward with each other. In fact, there were many LOL moments in the movie alongside the jump scares and the more terrifying shots of a dark thing approaching at great speed. A perfect blend, I’d say.

All in all, if you’re looking for a great movie to get you down to Halloweentown, I’d recommend this movie–alongside the more classic throwback Disney hit Halloweentown.


Glow: My first time doing Bikram Yoga

Dearest Belles,

If you are like my sisters, you love the gym and can keep a great workout routine going for years. I, however, get bored with anything once it becomes “same old, same old”. That’s why I am always looking to try something new. My latest find on Groupon has been Bikram Yoga. I found a great deal ($36 for 10 classes!) so I decided to try it. I was looking for a new challenge anyway.

Darlings, was I in for a surprise! Now, I’m not a complete newbie to the yoga world–I attended a few Yin Yoga classes at my old gym but those were more for meditation than for balance and flexibility. The first thing that surprised me was the humidity. Yes, yes, Bikram Yoga is by definition heated yoga, But I wasn’t expecting to break out my sweat mustache for at least the first 5 minutes! Turns out, it’s practiced in a room heated to 95–108 °F (35–42 °C) with a humidity of 40%.

And I thought Houston was bad…

Well, I got through most of the poses alright with the exception of the Patient Tree and the Bow postures, but it really made me realize how much flexibility I’ve lost since high school. I used to be able to touch my head to my knees and arms to my toes with knees locked! I definitely couldn’t do that anymore.

My towel was soaked and I nearly passed out at one point from keeping my muscles so taut but honey, it was worth it. I felt great and I looked great. For the past 90 minutes, I stretched in several ways that promote blood circulation and sweated out what felt like every toxin I had ever come into contact with, and I was glowing!

Don’t believe me? Here’s a photo I sent my sisters right after my workout.

I’ve been going every few days for the past 3 weeks and I’m still completely loving it. But alas, the Groupon comes to an end soon and I must flit like a butterfly to a new buttercup. Hmm… maybe I’ll try boxing next?

Hah! Keep it adventurous, Belles!

xoxo, Zahra

Houston: Letting Life In

Ah, Houston. The city where zoning is a myth and flash flooding is a regular occurrence. I think that adds to the charm of the city, though. The greatest thing about Houston is you never know what fabulous hole-in-the-wall restaurant you might find just around the corner. Being 45 minutes from the Gulf and always booked with great concerts, it’s a fantastic place to spend Spring Break too! But most importantly, Houston doesn’t shy away from nature– it welcomes it into the city. 

1. Cockrell Butterfly Center

Houston is hot in the summer, but nothing beats the heat and humidity of a rainforest in the middle of the city! Get up close and personal with hundreds of bright, beautiful butterflies at the Butterfly Conservatory. Stay really still and you may get lucky and have one land on you. This is one magical experience you don’t want to miss. Snapchat filters have nothing on the real deal.

Cockrell Butterfly Center-- Houston TX

Butterflies flutter around every plant inside the Houston center, tickling passersby with their feathery wings

2. Phoenicia

A mouth-watering bite of gyro sets me off to high places and no place makes it better than Phoenicia. Dare I say it: Better than Halal Guys 🙊

Everything is made right in front of you and it comes to you hot, fresh and juicy.  So if you’re taking in the sights downtown and feel a little rumble in the stomach, get yourself some. You’re welcome.

3. Downtown Aquarium

Talk about bringing nature to your doorstep! This aquarium is amazing. That’s all I’m going to say. You have to see it to believe it. )

The restaurant next door. Make sure to get the Fish n Chips 😜

3. Rice Village

Looking for something a pittle more high street while on your vacay? Take a stroll down the streets of Rice village. With tons of great shopping to be done and the cutest cupcake place youve ever seen, there’s plenty you can do, including an impromptu picnic on Rice University’s campus lawns. But if you’re not in the mood to get your knees dirty,  there are several other delicious restaurants within walking distance, including my favorite Turkish place, Pastas.

A delicious yogurt and eggplant dish at Pasha’s in Rice Village

4. Kemah Boardwall

Lastly, what’s better than a never ending carnival? Take in the cool boardwalk breeze and catch an amusement park ride or two with your sweetheart. You csn see this place off the highway and its always open. Enjoy the lights, the skyline, and Texas’s specialty– deep-fried ANYTHING.

Cleveland: Full of History, Full of Hope

I’ve visited Cleveland several times over the years, but I never really saw Cleveland until my last visit. Cleveland has often been viewed as a pock-marked with “bad spots”, especially after the recession of 2008. But the city seems to be coming out of a metaphoric chrysalis as of late. You can really feel the city coming alive around you. To truly capture the essence of Cleveland, you’ve got to visit these places.

1. Algebra Tea House

This is a place where people come to interact and discuss religion and politics and art and poetry and love. Bookshelves line the wall amidst pops of color and hand crafted mugs. This little tea shop was the first non-italian owned shop in Cleveland’s Little Italy district and it has given and received warmth to the community with its tea and friendship.

algebra coffe shop

Everything has a touch of the owner’s hand– chairs, tables, and even the front door is crafted by him and his paintings hang on the walls in bright bursts of color.

2. Superman wasn’t born in Kansas or Iowa… He’s from Cleveland

That’s right! The original superhero, Superman, was conceptualized in a house near Case Western University by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster. Like any iconic superhero, Superman is like a beacon of hope for mankind, shining bright and believing the best in us. It is fitting that a Man of Steel was born from the Cleveland community as Cleveland is finding its way again.


The first volume of the Superman series is displayed in comic strip form on the fence surrounding Jerry Siegel’s house

3. Lucky’s Cafe

Craving a little Farm-to-Table action? Lucky’s is the place to be. Tradition and diversity lead the way in their most interesting of flavors. You can have fun with some of their more experimental dishes like the Canoewreck, or you can go with their Forever-Delicious Baked Mac-N-Cheese. Whatever you choose, I guarantee you’ll love it.


Enjoy their outdoor seating in the warmer months!

4. Any one of the many Polish Catholic churches in the area

Poles came to Cleveland long ago and they brought their unique art form and food with them. Besides their delicious pierogis, some of the most stunning art is depicted in their churches–if you can find someone who works there to tell you the stories behind the different stained glass panels and gold leafed statues, it can be better than a trip to the museum. I personally went to St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Parma, OH where the minister walked me through his favorite panels and displays.


A polish catholic church

5. Rockefeller Park aka Cleveland Cultural Gardens

Last but certainly not least, there’s Cleveland’s little slice of paradise. Cozied up against Lake Erie, I found this little gem on my way to the airport, right at the end of the trip. A string of 26 nationality gardens, the site is unique to Cleveland, with each garden sharing the flavor of its nation in the architecture and landscaping. It holds busts and full statues of notable individuals like Gandhi, Tesla, Curie, Schiller, and Shakespeare.

ohio cultural gardens.jpg

Gandhi Statue at Cleveland Cultural Gardens

The theme of the Gardens “Peace through mutual understanding”, and the cultural diversity seen in the gardens stands at the very foundation of Cleveland and is a real joy to explore.