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.

Advertisements

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!

TREES, TREES, EVERYWHERE!

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.

BOUQUETS FOR DAYS

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!

CANDLES, GOURDS AND PLACE CARDS, OH MY!

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.

DON’T FORGET TO ADD A LITTLE HEAT

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.

BETTING ON A TRICK

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!

BETTING ON A TREAT

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 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.

 

Around the world, around the world…

Hey readers,

You may have noticed I flew around a lot this past year. That’s because I’ve been diagnosed with chronic travel bug. Since our trip to Pakistan last year, the FamJam has been itching for more and this year the symptoms are showing.

Since January, I’ve been to Chicago twice, Cleveland once, and to the great country of Turkey for the first time ever! The fun hasn’t stopped there either. My cousin got married this year too so we jetted off to Karachi again this summer (the heat. Oh God.) for 2 weeks (!!) to take part in the festivities. And this winter, I did a fun little road trip from Chicago to Toronto with the broski cuz bonding 💯. There was lots of color and to-die-for food that are just absolute must-have experiences. So, I’ve decided to add a few travel posts to the site. Expect one for Karachi, Chicago, and Istanbul in the next few months. I’ve got a hunch that I’m going to be adding a few cities to the list this year. 😉

Stay tunes, Belles!

Einstein’s Dreams

This book is old, you guys. A good 24 years old.  And it’s refreshingly good.

At 144 pages, Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams is a quick but heavy read. Lightman uses Einstein’s musings on time as source material, taking the many drafts of Einstein’s early work on the theory of relativity and building new worlds where time works in strange ways.

In one of my favorite worlds, we see time functioning like gravity,  growing increasingly concentrated and dense as we travel closer to its epicenter. To the observer,  two statuesque lovers kiss for what seems a lifetime. The lovers are wrapped in the sounds of their unified hearts’ slow,  laborious beating.

In another world,  time moves differently for each person in the presence of others.  A mother sees her little boy meeting a woman at a cafe while the boy feels himself aging fasterror and faster in the company of the woman he is sitting across from in the cafe.

What’s truly fascinating is,  though these worlds are mere fantasy, crafted from the crumpled and discarded pages of a theory, they all seem to relate to the human condition.  I caught myself relating to some of the eeriest representations of time.

Pick it up or buy it on your favorite ebook app and let me know which versions do you feel you relate to most! Let me know in the comments!

A Muslim Girl’s reflections

I’m reading Amani Al-Khatahtbeh’s Muslim Girl this weekend. I’m only halfway through but I’ve cried 3 times already! I didn’t realize how much my own experiences relate to hers, so much so that the lines between myself and the narrator are significantly blurred. We all know that our experiences are not unique and as much as we may think we’re alone in our struggles, we know there are plenty of people like us experiencing the same things, but reading them on paper! I never realized how much of an impact it would make.

Needless to say,  it’s been  very introspective read and is got me thinking about what it means to be an American Muslim Girl.

I was just recently naturalized. I’ve lived in the States for nearly my entire life and I’d pass the test that allowed me the privileges of citizenship,  but when I was speaking that oath I couldn’t help wondering, will the rest of society accept us as American? Does the rest of the country believe that a 10 question test is enough for one to attain the title of American that  leads so many to puff out their chests with pride?

Does it matter at all that I’m a Muslim American? There is so much history of American society turning on minorities among them, shouting the standard phrase, “Go back home!” It’s not just Muslims who have felt this pressure (and by Muslims I really mean people who look Arab, North African, or South Asian). The Chinese felt it sharply until 1965 when the Magnuson Act was repealed (because of the Masgnuson Act Asians were not only barred from immigration, but Asian Americans in all 50 states, including US citizens, were legally disfranchised and subjected to high rents and punitive taxes), Japanese Americans felt it soon after Pearl Harbor when over 62% of them were shipped to internment camps, and African Americans felt it as well. Their history is much better known than the others’ so I won’t go into the excessively cruel discrimination against them.

If after reading this you think “Well, looks like it’s the Middle East’s turn” then you’re missing the point. Putting aside the fact that you’ve just approved of discrimination and racism against the millions of “others” in this world, which you very well could be considered in any other part of the world, the fact is that this form of discrimination happened to legal American citizens. So what is the true value of citizenship in America? Freedom of speech? Freedom of/from religion? Both have been denied to one group or another in the past. Right to vote and the right to a timely trial and fair jury? The former was denied to Black Americans and the latter was denied to Anwar Al-Awlaki, Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, and Samir Khan, all citizens by birth, not even by naturalization.

What do you think? What makes an American? And what are the benefits of citizenship? Are we truly safe to live our lives in America as Americans?

You’re Not A Kid Anymore.

I have this problem where I perpetually think I’m younger than I am. Being the youngest of 4, I suppose it’s ingrained in me. All through my first two years of college I felt like a kid still in high school. When my niece turned one, I had just come to accept that my sister was a mother. I’ve been in the working world for almost a year and a half and I still feel like a college intern some of the time. Until yesterday. Yesterday a colleague of mine mimicked what I sound like back to me in a meeting. It was over-exaggerated and not meant to be malicious in any way, but it knocked me for a loop. I sounded like a meek, whiny, pushover–wringing my hands at the smallest request! I’ve always been described as a friendly, if not a bit direct, leader. To see someone portray me in such a different way was shocking. Here’s what I realized I was doing wrong:

“Never Say No” doesn’t mean what you think it does. I’d been told that when you start off in a new job, you should present yourself as open and eager to offer your time to assist in any project that presents itself. “Never say No”. I’d done just that, but what I didn’t realize was that I was sacrificing my assertive nature while doing it. I’m not saying that the advice I got wasn’t good, I just did it wrong. My biggest mistake was thinking “Never say no” meant “Always say Yes”. Now, this may be correct for the first few months when you’re figuring out what your responsibilities are and where your manager thinks your skills would best fit but this is also the time when you need to be watching to see what everyone else is accountable for, too. So when someone else makes a mistake and then says they don’t have time to fix it, you should know that they are responsible for their work and that they need to take ownership of it. You DON’T offer to fix their work for them.

You’re not in college anymore. While the dreaded popularity contest is still prevalent in the office space, it’s not as important as your work. Whether you realize it or not, your work helps your company make money. So, if your work is outstanding and you’re continually looking for new opportunities to shine, you’ll stand out. Your colleagues are not trying to be your best friend and you don’t have to try either. Common fact in the workplace: everyone’s here to work and they won’t put your friendship above their mid-year review.  So the next time you feel like you’re being given the runaround, take a pause, even in mid conversation, and assess how you’re speaking to the other person. Are you giving them a lot of power in the conversation to say Yes or No? Or is the other person genuinely busy? The simple way to find out is by stating (not asking) that you would be happy to set up a meeting to talk about the project. If they resist, that’s your answer. In order to make sh*t happen, make sure to draft an agenda for meetings and communicate any reading they need to do ahead of time.

There is no  student-master dynamic and your co-workers are not “your elders” that need to be respected like your parents. You’re co-workers. You’re part of a team. It felt so odd to me when a friend of mine told me I was another co-worker’s equal. I thought to myself, surely not! They’ve got years of experience on me. I need to suck up as much information as I can from them. They’re the smart ones. But while it may be true that they have experience on you, they find it just as strange when someone treats them as their superior. DON’T DO IT! It just fills their head with has and you become the weirdo wringing her hands in the corner when you need work done by your team.  If they have the same title as you, they’re your equal. Feel free to learn what they know, but don’t feel like you’re bring given the privilege of their company.

CC’ing your boss in tough conversations isn’t “snitching”. If you’re finding someone too difficult to manage on your own, ask your boss their advice. How would they deal with a situation like the one you’re facing? And there’s no need to avoid naming names when you’re talking to the boss. You’re not going to be considered a tattle tail by your boss or your colleague as long as you’re asking for some constructive advice on how to handle a difficult situation on your own. The worst that can happen is that your colleague takes offense and doesn’t do the work. The big plus in this “worst-case scenario” is that your boss knows you’re side of the story and can back you up if you face repercussions for it.

I’m going to give these a go at the office to see if people start taking me more seriously.  If I start seeing more results, faster, I’ll know it’s working. What do you think? Have you struggled with any of these mindsets? If so, what did you do to get out of these mindsets? Let me know in the comments below!