Monday, December 31, 2012

Party Dresses

                                 Zara dress, Nine West ankle boots
Get ready to bring in the new year with all eyes on you. Once you know what kind of party your attending the outfit choice is pretty straight forward.
Here's the basic rule of thumb:
WORK PARTY: Think classic and elegant. Velvet and lace in neutral colors are very sophisticated. Keep your outfit balanced- if your dress is tight make sure the length falls just below the knee. The idea is future partner not wife.
PARTY WITH FRIENDS: Here's where you get to be fun and sassy. It's the perfect place to take risks and step out of your comfort zone. Try a backless dress or a mini. If your going to go short though channel Jennifer Lopez and keep your neckline covered. There's a thin line between sexy and hoochie!
                                                     Zara top, H&M skirt
                   The mini done Jennifer Lopez style-classy and sexy
If all else fails a simple LBD will always work. Finish your dress off with a glamorous overcoat and a beautiful smile.
Happy New Year for tonight.
Be safe and have fun!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Arizona Petits fours

             Spending time with my cousin in between sessions

I had the pleasure of attending the 25th Annual Grand Canyon Baha'i Conference in Arizona over the past weekend. The focus of the conference was on the Manifestation of Light in the West.

My petits fours for this week are all from Arizona.
                 Depiction of Tahirih, an extraordinary woman of history
                  Some of my notes from the talks that I attended
        View from my room at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge resort & spa
                       Nothing like a good American cheeseburger

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My denim love affair

                   Per Se denim shirt, Pink Party jeans and Nine West boots

My love affair with denim has been going strong since the age of fifteen when my English teacher Mrs. Walsh introduced me to the world of Levi's advertising. Levi's advertisements took the meaning of wearing a pair of jeans to another level, representing so much more than a pair of trousers. They are iconic of American culture-strength, freedom and beauty. All so appealing from the stiffness of the polyester skirts and starched shirts of our school uniforms. I have to admit I tend to stick to darker denims nowadays but no matter what my curves feel right at home.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Hostess Gifts

Gone are the days when women would read books on how to throw parties or what they should wear to attend one. We live in a day and age where women are expected to be career women as well as perfect wives and mothers. As a child I would watch my mum making things all the time and we would never show up at a dinner party or gathering without a gift for the hostess. She taught me to appreciate others and show thanks whenever possible, but to do so with thoughtfulness. There isn't time to spend hours making something to give as a hostess gift so I have to put together a few simple ideas that will let the hostess know that you put effort into it and the idea truly came from the heart.
                                          Make some seasonal cupcakes
            Chocolate ganache Trader Joes and cake stand Homegoods
If the idea of baking makes you run for cover buy a dessert and nice serving dish. If you do not know the host too well it is best to stick with a white dish as it will go with everything.
Banoffee Pie( another one of my mums magnificent creations)!
Centerpieces are fun and easy to make. Get creative, try to match the theme of the party or the season. I used glass beads, faux berries and paper ribbon to create a festive center piece. The hostess can easily reuse the vase after the party.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Questions in Tragedy

I write to inspire other women and hope that I can somehow make another person's day go a little smoother. I honestly don't know how to address the tragedy that took place one week ago today at Sandy Hook Elementary. When I heard about it on the news I felt everything from anger to grief. There are so many questions and no definitive answers. What I do know is that I have felt an overwhelming need to tell everyone how much I appreciate and care for them.

We can ban guns and increase mental health awareness but if there isn't any compassion left what good will these bans be? It may sound really simple but its so easy to get swept up in our busy schedules and forget about our neighbors, coworkers and friends.

I hope that from our grief we can learn to protect and love each other more.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weekend Away Essentials

I'm very excited to being going away for the weekend to a conference but every time I attempt to start packing I stand there like a headless chicken! It can be overwhelming figuring out what to pack.
Here's a list of the essentials for going away. Use this to get your packing started!

Mac Pro laptop, Polaroid camera, prayer book, notebook, DVD and thank you cards

My laptop and notebook are obvious essentials but everything else are personal wants that I have. Let's face it having a Polaroid camera is fun, fun, fun! Saying prayers is a good way to start and end your day( I particularly love the prayer book shown above because it is an entire collection of prayers for women). It's complicated is a hilarious movie that I like to watch to relax so I'm taking it along in case I have some down time. Take some thank you cards with you as you never know who you might cross paths with and learn something from. It's important to show others your appreciation.
              Levi's jeans, Bebe coat, Halogen pashmina

Black jeans look good in the day with a tailored jacket and at night with heels. Versatility in the items you pack is a must! This trench looks great with jeans as well as dresses-it pulls the whole outfit together. Pashminas look beautiful and keep you warm simultaneously.

For your toiletries use miniature versions of your usual products. Department stores have bonus offers on brands such as Clinique and Lancome. If you already use some of their products its good to buy something during the promotions as you will get a free makeup bag with minis of their top buys. You can always go to Target as well- it has a whole section dedicated to travel size containers.

                                                 Nike running shoes

Taking your running shoes along for a trip is a great way to exercise and explore a new city. Ask the hotel concierge to help you map out a safe route. If the weather doesn't permit this then you can always just go to the hotel gym(see no excuses)!

If you have any other tips for packing for a weekend getaway I would love to hear them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Women in the ring

I'm not talking cat fights here but something far more prevalent in our society. As women, we are so diligent about telling our girls "don't let that man treat you like that", and we cry in outrage when we hear of domestic violence. So why are we so quick to put each other down?

When another woman walks into the room, don't fold your arms and suck your teeth because she's put together and is holding her own. Don't look on in disdain when a female coworker gets a promotion. Women are the primary educators of our future generation; it's not coincidence God made it this way. Therefore, we must look to each other for courage and strength. Learn from each other. Teach one another and embrace your sisters. I became a Phi Sigma Sigma when I attended the University of La Verne and day after day I was driven by the strength and grace of my sorority sisters. No matter if I had questions on homework or working out or of life in general there was always someone there eager to help me out. I remember these acts of kindness and challenge myself to do the same with all the women I come across in life.
     Courtesy of b2rianLS

Take a good look at the women in these pictures. Do you think they accomplished what they did by looking down on other women? Would they have been proud of each other or in competition with each other? Look to the strong woman in your life for answers to these questions, if need be.

If you are just starting out, encourage those around you to keep pushing forward on their journey. If you are a woman who has reached a higher position at work, don't forget how hard it was to get there. Reach out to other women and be a mentor for them. 'Abdu'l-Baha says "Regard humanity as a single individual, and one's own self as a member of that corporeal form". Once we understand that we are are all members of one humanity, it will be harder to turn a blind eye.

I have always felt a kindred spirit with other women, regardless of our differences. Unity amongst us is essential to the progression of women all over the world.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Gingerbread House

Hansel and Gretel by the Brothers Grimm helped popularize gingerbread houses in Germany. The German settlers were the ones to bring the tradition to America. The origins of gingerbread however date back to the ancient Egyptians and were not introduced in Europe until the 11th-century. At first only the wealthy could afford the spice but over time it became more affordable for everyone. Gingerbread was molded to tell a story or depict a person of royalty.

Gingerbread houses are easy and fun to make. It's a great way to spend some quality time with your kids, even a good project to give your out of town guests when they visit to help everyone bond. They also make a great center piece for a dinner party.

I really like the gingerbread house kit from Trader Joe's, it literally contains everything you need except for one egg. Check out how easy this fun filled project was...

                                Whisk the egg up till it becomes very thick
    The icing acts as the bonding agent to bring the house together.
                                          Start icing the gingerbread house.
                                   Decorate to your hearts content.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ipsy: Beauty in the mail

                                      My December 2012 Ipsy Glam Bag

I was closing the front door when I caught sight of a pink shiny package barely peaking out from amongst the days mail like a sparkling jewel from Aladdin's treasure chest. What was in the package? I hadn't done any on line shopping, as a Baha'i I don't celebrate Christmas so I figured it wasn't a gift, and I certainly don't have any admirers! Then it hit me- I had signed up for a subscription with Ipsy late one night about a month ago.

Ipsy is a monthly service that sends you a Glam Bag with 5 products( most are sample size) so that you can try new products that you may not usually buy. Sample sizes of makeup really appeal to me because I wear minimal amounts. My makeup routine in the morning consists of mascara, eyeliner and lip gloss which takes all of five minutes( after I have moisturized of course)! The sample sizes allow me to branch out of my usual products without feeling that I am wasting money. It's very simple- Ipsy requires you to take a short quiz so that they know what hair type, skin type and style suits you best. Pay 10 dollars and wait to be surprised!

My first Glam Bag contained:
MAI COUTURE Highlighter Paper: This is to add radiance and glow to dull skin. I've never used highlighter paper before but think it will come in handy as a pick me up for those extra tired days when not even a gallon of coffee can help me out!

MIRABELLA Primer: This is a 2-in-1 product, you can use it for your face and eyes.

URBAN DECAY Eye pencil: Eyeliner is a great way to pull your look together. It's actually my go to product in the morning if I don't have time to put any other makeup on.

NYX Ultra Pearl eyeshadow: I'm excited to use this! The shimmer effect is so appealing to my inner Princess and arrived in perfect time for all the holiday parties I've been invited too!

be a...BOMBSHELL lip gloss: I think the Ipsy style expert that put my Glam bag together must have been reading my mind because I have been craving a tantalizing lip color for the winter season. Don't be scared by the boldness of the red, it goes on quite sheer and intensifies with multiple swipes.

BONUS: Each month the products arrive in a makeup bag perfectly sized for your handbag.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Home First

“My home is the home of peace. My home is the home of joy and delight. My home is the home of laughter and exultation. Whosoever enters through the portals of this home, must go out with gladsome heart. This is the home of light; whosoever enters here must become illumined.”

I fell in love with this quote as a young girl and made a promise to myself that I would exhibit these words in the entryway of my own home. 'Abdu'l-Baha promises so much in this quote, thus holding you accountable of what takes place in your house. 
We spend most of our days clocking in the hours at work, proving to our coworkers our worth. Yet the foundation of civilization lies in our families and the virtues we teach them. Whatever your family unit consists of: mother, father and children or mother and children, each role should hold equal importance. Make the effort to show every family member that they are an integral part of the home. Lay the foundation for the future you wish to see. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

English Countryside

                                                H&M Jacket, Zara dress

Normally I would shy away from such a busy print but the flowers of this dress infuse me with memories of the English countryside. Rain or shine we would stroll through the fields oblivious of time and the world around us.

Look through your wardrobe and find a piece of clothing that speaks to you; slip it on and let the nostalgia wash over you.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Petit four

A petit four (plural: petits fours) is a small confectionery generally eaten at the end of a meal (e.g., with coffee) or served as part of dessert. The name is from the French petit four (French pronunciation: ​[pÉ™.ti.fur]), meaning "small oven"(source: Wikipedia).

I am in love with Petits fours; the cashmere of dessert. Each delicate bite sized confectionery transports one to the era of Marie Antoinette when ladies dressed up for tea. Petits fours remind me of little presents that have the  power to lift ones mood instantly. 

I believe we are surrounded by sweet things everyday and would like to share with you the petit fours of my week. 
My daughter made this for me! 
The leaf was at my desk one morning and made me crack a smile as big as a Cheshire cat.

A friend of mine is working on a project and asked me to pose for her-it was a fun time. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Make your dream a reality

Stop wasting time and energy comparing yourself to others and worrying about what they’re up to. Focus on your own vision and set out to accomplish your own goals. The time spent on the actions of others is merely holding you back from achieving these goals. Climb with integrity, respect and kindness for others.

First, you need to know where you want to go. What is your dream? What do you want your life to represent?

Make a plan and then start running after your dream and don’t stop until you’re holding it right there in your very hands. I get that it’s not easy; trust me, I’m still chasing my dream. But I won’t stop, I refuse to.  As John Keywood says: “Love life and it will love you right back. Nothing is impossible to a willing heart”.

See, here’s the deal-that thing you always use as an excuse of why you’re still stuck at the start line is exactly what should drive you to succeed.  A job that requires you to work 16-hour days instead of 8; being a single mother; a career that requires a college education- these should be seen as fuel to burn. Get up and start making your dreams a reality, plot a course so that you can find a career that doesn’t require you to live at the office. You want to provide for your children, so push yourself harder, work on your dreams after you put them to bed- you can do it! So what if your dream job requires a college education? Sign up now!  If it means taking one class at a time, so be it.

Staying positive on this journey is key to reaching your goals. Wake up each morning happy and be grateful for what you do have. I find the more I smile the smoother my day goes. On those more intense days when your tired self is fighting your dreams, pump yourself up with a positive quote or mantra. I always sing a very simple line by ‘Abdu’l-Baha that goes “Be happy, be happy, be full of joy”. Go ahead- try singing it!

No matter what your situation is, if you have faith and determination, and aren’t afraid of hard work, you can start living your dreams.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mum's Traditional English Recipe- as promised!

This is my mums traditional English recipe for vanilla cupcakes. You can also substitute the vanilla for your own desired flavors.

Ingredients Needed:
Margarine 8oz ( 2 sticks)
Sugar 8oz
Self raising flour 8oz
Eggs 4
Vanilla Essence 1tbsp
Plain yogurt 1tbsp

Step 1:
Slice both sticks of margarine up and mix together with the sugar.

Step 2:
Add 1 egg at a time and a couple of tablespoons of sifted flour, mixing as you go.
Add the remaining flour and mix to a smooth consistency.

Step 3:
Add 1 tbsp of vanilla essence and 1 heaped tbsp of plain yoghurt. Mix together.

Step 4:
Divide mixture into 18 cupcakes.

Step 5:
Bake for 18 minutes at 400 F ( this is a good time to wash up).
Remove from oven and let cool.

At this point your kitchen should smell irresistible but it is not quite time to fulfill the needs of your taste buds. It's time to make the icing!

Ingredients needed: 
Butter 4oz
Powdered sugar 8oz
Vanilla essence 1tbsp
Milk 2-3 tbsp
Piping bag with tip

Step 1:
Mix all of the ingredients together till you have a smooth consistency. Add the milk at your discretion-this is really so that the icing does not get too thick.

Step 2:
Empty the mixture into the piping bag and get to decorating!

Try icing the cupcakes differently so that you can find the look you like best. Top them off with the ivory pearls and enjoy eating one with a nice cup of tea.