US-Style Street Tacos

Photo by hayme100 on Pixabay. Chicken street tacos.

We LOVE tacos and would NEVER tell anyone to give them up! Here’s how to make US-style street tacos:

Ingredients

🌮Corn tortillas
🐓Shredded cooked chicken
🥗Romaine lettuce (chopped)
💚Cilantro
🧀Shredded cheddar
🥣Greek yogurt (plain)
🌶Red salsa

Recipe

1)Shred cooked chicken breast (can be prepared any way you like).

2)Chop up Romaine lettuce and cilantro.

3)Assemble your taco with all the ingredients you love!

This recipe brought to you with love from:

Rose Auflick of Mingled Vitality

Original post on Instagram

 

For more recipes, click here!

2-Ingredient Breakfast

Photo by Enotovyj on Pixabay. Cottage cheese.

The best breakfasts are often the simplest; after all, so many folks skip it even though it’s the most important meal of the day! So here’s a 2-ingredient breakfast that is so quick and easy you won’t have an excuse to miss out! As an added bonus, this recipe gives you a good balance of your macros (carbs, fat, protein) to boost your energy levels and keep you feeling full ’til lunch.

Photo and recipe by Mingled Vitality. 2-Ingredient Breakfast.

Photo and recipe by Mingled Vitality. 2-Ingredient Breakfast.

Ingredients

🥣Cottage cheese
🍓Strawberries (or any fruit!)

Recipe

1)Hastily dump cottage cheese into a bowl.

2)Throw some fruit at it (feel free to get creative and use any fruit you want!).

3)EAT! So easy!

This recipe brought to you with love from:

Mingled Vitality

Original post on Instagram.

 

To see more recipes, click here!

Poor, Little Woman’s Guide to Belly Dance Costumes

Photo by Brett_Hondow on Pixabay. Pink princes piggy bank.

While the greatest hurdle for a new belly dancer to overcome as she transitions from lessons to her first stage performance is confidence, the second-greatest hurdle might actually be the most frustrating: finding an affordable costume that fits right. Belly dance costumes aren’t exactly mass-produced in the same way standard clothing is, so a vast majority of the time, you’re stuck browsing online through limited—and often quite expensive—options. And if you decide customization is the only way to get what you want, you’ll typically be shelling out a MINIMUM of $400.

I have yet to reach a place in life where I can spend that kind of money, so when I started belly dancing five years ago, I had to get quite creative. Sorted piece by piece, here is a poor, little woman’s guide to belly dance costumes: the tricks I learned in order to come up with belly dance costumery that helped me fit in with other dancers onstage.

Tops

I have never been comfortable with dancing in a belly dance bra top. Even though it’s the most traditional thing a belly dancer can wear, I could never get over the paranoia of my boobs popping out from a bra that failed to secure them into their proper place. Heck, I even feel panicked when another dancer in a bra top goes to bend over. Just—nope—I refuse to wear a bra top until I can get one custom-made…with extra coverage…

Since that hasn’t been an option for me, I went the unique route of wearing crop tops. Luckily, crop tops turned out to be quite cheap, and, with a bra on underneath, they offered adequate coverage of my chest (from above the nipple line to just beneath the bust). I likely would not perform professionally or at a competition wearing a crop top, but for local events and just dancing for fun, they have served me well. Additionally, I have received numerous compliments for my tops, from audience members and dancers alike.

One of my first crop tops came from Forever 21 as a gift from my mom. It likely did not cost more than $25.

My photo. Red lace crop top. Rak the Brazos! Nov. 2014

My photo. Red lace crop top. Rak the Brazos! Nov. 2014

My favorite place to shop for crop tops was Body Central, where they usually cost $15-20. The business itself is no longer open, but multiple secondhand stores still sell their brand.

Photo by Tom Adams. Black and red rose crop top. TAMU Belly Dance Spring Hafla, Apr. 2018

Photo by Tom Adams. Black and red rose crop top. TAMU Belly Dance Spring Hafla, Apr. 2018

Lastly, eBay proved to be another great resource for crop top shopping; I found tops there from $5-10! Summertime is the best season to find them, but you can still find them year-round.

Photo by Tom Adams. Black velvet turtleneck crop top. Rak the Brazos! Nov. 2017

Photo by Tom Adams. Black velvet turtleneck crop top. Rak the Brazos! Nov. 2017

Hips

Although hip-wear isn’t always required, I preferred to include it in most of my costumes. At first, I started out with basic hip scarves/coin belts, which you can find on just about any belly dance costume website for about $10 (see Full Costumes section below for links).

Also, when in a pinch, a regular scarf will do as long as it is long enough to tie around your hips. Then you can either “diaper” it (the “technical” term for tucking a scarf or veil into the sides of your skirt) or tie it (after either folding it lengthwise or into a triangle). Target seems to be the most promising place to find large enough scarves, where you can get them for around $15.

Photo by Tom Adams. “Diaper-ed” scarf. TAMU Belly Dance Spring Hafla, Apr. 2018.

Photo by Tom Adams. “Diaper-ed” scarf. TAMU Belly Dance Spring Hafla, Apr. 2018.

Photo by Tom Adams. Folded scarf. Rev’s Belly Dance Night, Sept. 2018.

The last type of hip accessory I’ve used is an imposter—and a very effective one. Somehow I came across a kid-size shawl in some of my or my mom’s old stuff, and it was just long enough to tie around my hips. The thing was beautiful, all embroidered and bordered with fringe. Although I don’t know the price of that exact one, I browsed on eBay and found that kids’ triangular shawls can be found right around $5 each.

BlueFloralKidShawl_DTTS3.2015

Photo by Michelle Ochoa. Blue floral kids’ shawl. Dancing Through The Sahara, Mar. 2015.

Bottoms

For some bizarre reason I can’t figure out, shopping for pants (or tribal pants, at least) that fit my short-legged, curvy figure is easy (see Full Costumes section below for links), but skirts prove to be a whole ‘nother story.

First of all, you can’t simply buy a maxi skirt in a store that will work for belly dance. Most maxi skirts you’ll find in department stores are made of two panels stitched together at the sides, a design that is restrictive to movement beyond casual walking. Belly dancers typically need full-length circle skirts which are, as the name implies, created from a giant circle of fabric to allow for a great range of leg motion, including the splits.

Second, if you’re short like me, most circle belly dance skirts online won’t fit you. This is because most companies who produce cookie-cutter costumes create skirts with a minimum length of 36”. The longest skirt I can wear as a 5’3” person is 34”.

Some dancers have told me that they will buy the oversized skirts anyway and roll up the waistband several times over, but I can’t stand things that don’t fit right as they are. This leaves me with having to shop online through normal skirts, which leads me to the third problem: most normal skirts are designed to fit at the waist, not at the hips like a belly dancing skirt.

So what on earth are we tiny dancers supposed to do??? Fear not; if you use the following shopping parameters on eBay, you can actually find a decently-priced ($20 or less) skirt you can dance in:

Skirt Shopping Parameters

Bottoms Size: Your Size +3. For example, if you are normally a size S, go up 3 sizes to XL to find a skirt that will sit on your hips. If you’re normally M, go to 2XL, and so on. If you worry this won’t work, go to a store just to try on oversized skirts to test which size fits the best for your hips.

Length: Check “below knee” and “mid-calf”. You’re shopping larger sizes to wear lower, so the skirt length will be longer. But also keep in mind that some eBay sellers will be lazy and just list their skirt as “long”, so you can check that box, too. Regardless of what you check, ALWAYS check the description for an actual measurement of the skirt’s length.

Style: Check “A-line”, “Circle & Skater”, “Flare”, “Trumpet & Mermaid”, and/or “Wrap & Sarong” for best results. These styles of skirts flare out either at the hips or legs, which will prevent unsightly stretching of the fabric during performances.

Here are pictures of two skirts I’ve bought using those search parameters:

My photo. Black gypsy skirt.

My photo. Black gypsy skirt.

My photo. Black velvet skirt.

My photo. Black velvet skirt.

Full Costumes

Believe it or not, reasonably-priced, good-looking belly dance costumes do exist! From experience, I’ve found that costumes on the following websites do run about one size smaller than standard US sizes, so if you’re an M, buy an L, etc. Also be sure to have caution (as I advised before) if you’re shopping for anything with a skirt; these are the kinds of websites whose full-length skirts tend to be a minimum of 36” long. Dress Lily This website doesn’t always sell belly dance costumes, but they’re worth searching every once in a blue moon. I found a lovely red costume here for only $30.
DressLilyRedCostume_FF7.2017

Photo by Tom Adams. DressLily red costume. First Friday, July 2017.

Light In The Box

You do have to search “belly dance costume” on this website, but they have so many options available (including individual pieces like skirts, tribal pants, and hip scarves). I’ve purchased two beautiful, lacey costumes there, one of which had tribal pants which fit great, and the other which had a skirt that luckily wasn’t too long for me! Most of the costumes on this site are between $10 and $30.

Photo by John Trevino. LightInTheBox black lace tribal costume. Rev’s Halloween Belly Dance Night, Oct. 2017.

Photo by John Trevino. LightInTheBox black lace tribal costume. Rev’s Halloween Belly Dance Night, Oct. 2017.

Photo by Ka’ili. LightInTheBox blue lace costume. First Friday, June 2017.

Photo by Ka’ili. LightInTheBox blue lace costume. First Friday, June 2017.

BellyDance.com

Surprisingly, I have not bought anything from this website…yet. But with so many options for $30-$50, I will eventually! Since this website is solely dedicated to belly dance wear, it’s much more organized than the previous two sites and offers dang-near everything you could ever need including bindis, props, music, and more.

Coverups

Last but not least, every belly dancer could use a coverup! For those of you who don’t know, coverups are oversized, draping “dresses” that belly dancers wear over their costumes when they’re not performing. Most dancers think of it as a formality or as a sign of being respectful to other performers, so you could think of it as our version of a business suit. It separates our “business” self from our “performing” self.

So where do we get said coverups for cheap? Ross. That’s right, the best place to get cheap (but beautiful) coverups is Ross in the dress section for a mere $10.

My photo. Blue paisley coverup, One-Size.

My photo. Blue paisley coverup, One-Size.

Well, that's everything; thanks for reading!

This has been a poor, little woman’s guide to belly dance costume shopping! What have been your best costume finds? Share with us on social media or in the comment section below!

Still not quite sure what you’re looking for? Click here to read more about the pieces that make up a belly dance costume!

Want to know more about your costume options? Click here to learn about all the ways to obtain costumes, from making them to buying them!

When Pills Weren’t Enough

Pills. Image by qimono on Pixabay.
Pills. Image by qimono on Pixabay.

When I became mysteriously ill in 2016, I learned a crucial lesson: pills were not going to be enough.

Formerly a college student of average health, comfortably floating along on Prozac, Adderall, and birth control, I was shocked when I took a lab job and started experiencing nothing short of bodily retaliation soon after. I developed extreme fatigue, had three heavy periods within two months, and suffered panic and anxiety attacks for the first time.

Desperate to find a quick solution, I visited several different medical professionals. The general practitioner took me off Adderall, switched my antidepressant, and told me to take vitamin D. The gynecologist switched my birth control. The BioTE clinic shoved a testosterone pellet into my hip. The others, well, they gave me advice but couldn’t really help me beyond that.

Despite all the pills and the pellet, my health continued to plummet. Eventually, I had an anxiety attack so bad that I was practically bedridden for a couple of days, and during that time, I made the heartbreaking decision to quit my job. My father agreed to financially support me while I rehabilitated myself, and boy did I have my work cut out for me. After all, I’d just spent months trying to do exactly that, but at that point, it became clear to me that pills were not going to be enough.

I was very weak. My body needed fourteen hours of sleep each day, I was extremely depressed, and my confidence and self-esteem had been shattered. I could hardly do any housework, and I mostly laid on the couch for at least the first month. So I had to start very small.

Thought. Image by TeroVesalainen on Pixabay.

The first treatment I could tolerate was Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with a licensed counselor, which I had started a couple months before I quit the lab job. I decided to continue meeting my counselor once per week, uncovering the roots of my mental stigmas, venting to get some of my burden off my heart, and most importantly, rewiring my brain by teaching me to view my problems in a different light. That latter component serves as the key behind CBT. Once I learned to reframe my thoughts, I began to see my life much more positively and regain some of my confidence.

Essential oils. Image by monicore on Pixabay.

The second treatment I added to my regimen was aromatherapy, an Eastern medicine practice in which one inhales purified essential oils as a means of boosting health. While many oils can soothe physical problems like headaches or allergies, I used them for their emotional properties. I quickly discovered two favorites: clary sage and lime oil. Clary sage oil helped me calm down and find mental clarity, and occasionally, it inspired me to be creative. Lime oil gave me a little energy and sharpened my focus. Aromatherapy became a critical component to my recovery by encouraging me to get off the couch and search for my next job.

Healthy food. Image by sansoja on Pixabay.

The next thing I worked on (and continue to improve in my life to this day) was cooking healthier. I finally had enough time to cook meals at home instead of ordering takeout, so immediately the quality of my meals leapt upward. After tracking my meals for at least a week on a few different occasions, I learned where I had deficiencies or excesses in certain nutrients, and I would then adjust my weekly meal plan to accommodate for them. This had the biggest impact on my energy levels and overall wellbeing.

(For healthy meal ideas, check out our Recipes page.)

Yoga. Image by StockSnap on Pixabay.

Lastly, once the first three additions to my life inspired me enough, I tried yoga. I practiced short YouTube routines only lasting about 15-20 minutes, but that small start in regular exercise created a lasting impact on me that developed into me doing weekly cardio, strength training, and stretching. Most immediately, learning to control my breathing and balance reduced my anxiety and depression, making me feel calmer and happier. Later on as I added a variety of exercises to my regimen, I regained my confidence.

Pills. Image from Canva.

All of this is not meant to discredit prescription medications, but rather to emphasize that health is multidimensional, requiring a balance among a wide variety of elements. In my case, I found medications that made me feel somewhat better, but I still needed to improve my diet, exercise regularly, learn healthy coping mechanisms and stress outlets, and reevaluate my career ambitions. Without all of those other things in check, I was weak and unfit to work. Now, I have more confidence and strength than I ever had before.

Pills only make up about half of the health equation, at best. I hope that my experience will encourage you to adopt a more holistic approach with your own health, not just within your body, but with the wide range of treatments and practices available, too!

From Bedleh to Baladi Dress

Belly Dance Costumes Egypt

What all is in a belly dance costume anyway?

Rose Belly Dance Oct 2013

My first belly dance performance, October 2013

When most people think of belly dance, they picture a woman in a bedazzled bra and skirt. While this image of costumery is correct, it is not the only acceptable attire for the genre. Dancers can wear pants, dresses, vests, and more with a wide variety of accessories. Fortunately, one only needs at most three items to meet the criteria of an appropriate belly dance costume.

Here are the bare bones of belly dance costumery:

One-Piece Costume

A belly dance costume can really be as simple as one piece??? Yup! In fact, dancing in a full dress has been a thing since the dawn of belly dance time, for both men AND women.

Females

Women will most typically wear a form-fitting Assuit dress (I’ve also heard dancers use the term “Baladi dress”) which is ankle-length and has long sleeves and a low-cut front. Also, dresses are typically used for older, more traditional styles of belly dance such as Saidi(1) and Baladi(2), but I have seen a dancer wear a dress in a Modern Fusion piece(3).

Males

Although I am uncertain as to whether public chest exposure was acceptable in belly dance’s early years, I do know that today’s men (in the United States, at least) can get away with leaving their chests bare, meaning that belly dance costumery for men can be as simple as an ankle-length skirt, harem pants, or tribal pants.

Unisex

Going back to costumes that are typically only appropriate for old-fashioned belly dance styles, males AND females can both wear a galabeya, a loose-fitting, ankle-length, long-sleeved “dress” that is typically made of cotton and dyed in pale colors(1).

Two-Piece Costume

Once a belly dance costume graduates to being two or more pieces, all you’re looking for are a piece to cover the upper torso (from above the nipple line to just below the bust) and a piece to cover the crotch and legs. Most commonly for women, you will see a bra and skirt, as this was the first traditional two-piece style, born as a part of the Raqs Sharqi style(4).

Tops

Oh my heavens, do you have a million options for tops! The most traditional are bras and choli tops for women and Turkish vests for men. Other options include butterfly tops, tube tops, and crop tops.

Please note that, when I say “bras”, I do not mean women can just go onstage wearing their underwear; bra tops for belly dance distinguish themselves by offering much more secure straps as well as having the breast cups stitched closer together to really squeeze the girls into place. Bra tops are also usually quite bedazzled in such a way that wearing them beneath a shirt would look ridiculous.

Also note that, since tube tops and crop tops are designed for modern wear, one will likely need extra coverage beneath those garments if using them for dance costumery.

Bottoms

All of the items that men can wear as one-piece costumes can serve as a woman’s second costume piece, so ankle-length skirts, harem pants, and tribal pants are acceptable.

When it comes to skirts, make sure to select one that allows for a lot of leg movement. Skirts can cling to the hips (like mermaid skirts) so long as you can take long steps without getting hung up on yourself.

About the pants styles, I’ll quickly detail their differences here. Harem pants are typically a bell shape, fitting very loosely on the legs, whereas tribal pants cling to the thighs and flare out at the lower leg. It is common for either style of pants to have long slits in the outside of the legs.

Three-Piece Costume

The only thing that differentiates a three-piece from a two-piece costume is an extra garment on the hips. That garment can be a bedleh belt, a hip scarf/coin belt, or just a regular old scarf.

Bedlehs are matching bra-and-belt combos and are considered very traditional in belly dance. The belt part of a bedleh is wide and fits around the hips, covering the top part of your skirt or pants. Hip scarves, also known as coin belts, are wide strips of fabric (sometimes triangle-shaped) with several rows of coins or palettes, and these, too, are very traditional.

Using just a regular scarf tied around the hips is actually more traditional, even, than the two aforementioned options, but because it is associated with Saidi and Baladi styles of belly dance(1,2), you don’t see that particular accessory very much in modern belly dance.

In Conclusion: You should have what it takes to belly dance.

As a poor millennial who has been belly dancing for five years, I can assure you that, no matter where you are in life, you can afford a belly dance costume. After all, you don’t need more than three pieces to make one!

For more specifics on how to get stage-ready, Catlina and I wrote another article about the differences between making vs buying a bellydance costume. We talk about several ways to get bellydance costumes affordably without sacrificing quality!

Then, when you’re ready to upgrade the costume you have, follow our guides on jewelry and props (coming soon)!

Sources
1. Haas, Lauren. “Learn Bellydance Styles: Saidi and Raqs Assaya.” Bellydance U, 2015, bellydanceu.net/styles/learn-bellydance-styles-saidi-and-raqs-assaya/. Accessed 18 Nov. 2018.
2. Haas, Lauren. “Learn Bellydance Styles: Egyptian Baladi.” Bellydance U, 2018, bellydanceu.net/styles/bellydance-styles-egyptian-baladi/. Accessed 18 Nov. 2018.
3. “Seamless Amanda ~ Ghost Belly Dance Drum Solo.” YouTube, uploaded by Seamless Amanda, 10 Mar. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQjy_lNQDL4. Accessed 18 Nov. 2018.
4. “History of Raqs Sharqi Belly Dancing.” Club Cairo, edited by Adam Bull, Raqsarabia, 25 Apr. 2018, www.clubcairo.co.uk/html/history.php. Accessed 18 Nov. 2018.