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!

Can Meatloaf Really be Tasty?

Monsieur Meatloaf

Salisbury Meatloaf

I know, I know, meatloaf doesn’t sound like the tastiest of meals. There have been jokes about grandma and her meatloaf almost as long as there has been a grandma making meatloaf. My own grandmother, as much as I love her, lost her sense of taste years ago. She can appreciate good food, and can be a good cook. However if she forgets an ingredient, and accidentally put in salt instead of sugar she won’t taste the difference.

That is why I want to provide you with a simple, easy to make meatloaf that actually tastes good. This is pretty nutrient dense, and because it packs such a punch it can feed a huge group!

Meat Mix

🥩Ground beef (2 lbs)

⚪️Mushrooms (4 oz)

🥗Spinach (2 cups, raw)

🥣Quick oats (1 cup)

🥛Milk (1 cup)

🥚Eggs (2)

💚Rosemary

🖤Black pepper

💛Garlic salt

~

Gravy Mix

🥣Brown gravy mix (2 packets/cups)

🥛Milk (2 cups)

~

▪️Mix all meat mixture ingredients together by hand in a large bowl (could easily add onion soup mix in here; I want to try that myself!).

▪️Bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

▪️Make gravy according to packet instructions.

▪️Serve meatloaf topped with gravy. Yum!

The great thing about this recipe is that it can also be easily made to be gluten free. Just ensure that the oats you use are gluten free and the brown gravy mix is as well. Let us know if you try the recipe in the comments below! Then don’t forget to check out our other recipes as well.

Meatloaf
Meatloaf really can be tasty!

Making vs. Buying a Bellydance Costume

Catlina and Rose Dancing

Hey there readers, Catlina and Rose here! We wanted to write an article together talking about costuming basics. Rose wrote a great article on the basic pieces that make up a belly dance costume, so now that we know what those pieces are, we can talk about where and how to actually get a costume. I know this may seem like a big topic–and it is–but that’s why we teamed up: to give you two different perspectives on costuming.

When it comes to bellydance costumes, you essentially have two options: 1) you can buy a pre-made costume, or 2) you can make your own costume. This article will show the pros and cons of making vs. buying a bellydance costume.

Both Rose and I purchased our first costumes. I had a costume purchased before I even paid for my first lesson or my membership into the belly dancing group. I quickly realized though just how many different ways there were to get a costume. You could find costumes on eBay, participate in costume swaps with other dancers, or go to local Ren-faires. I wish I would have considered all the things we will talk about in this article before I had purchased.

If you make you own costume, you can get the supplies almost anywhere. Craft stores like JoAnn or Hobby Lobby will be gold mines for materials, but almost any bra, T-shirt, or skirt in your closet can be converted into a costume as well.

There are a few key things that you will need to look at when making the decision to make vs buy a bellydance costume. Those include price, time, fit and customization, quality, frustrating learning curves, and ease of coordinating with other troupe members.

PRICE

Costumes can be made in whatever budget you want. Some professional dancers may spend thousands of dollars on pre-made costumes, but I also know dancers who spend less than $20 on supplies that they then turn into beautiful, handmade, professional-looking costumes. So really the question of budget depends on the type of costume you want and how much you want to spend.

PRICE: Make

If you plan on making belly dancing a regular part of your life, making your own costume will definitely be cheaper in the long run. Fabric can be bought at almost any craft store for only dollars on the yard. Most large chains like Hobby Lobby or JoAnn carry materials and have coupons on their mobile apps, or annual sales that make shopping even cheaper. Where making your own costumes gets expensive however, is when costumes get more complex, and in the upfront costs of materials. This is because in order to make costumes without spending hours and hours hand-sewing seams, you need a sewing machine, pins, pin cushions, a tape measure, thread, needles, beads, sequins, trim… the list goes on and on. And while these things are not expensive individually, they add up. It is very common for someone new to bellydance to walk into a craft store and spend $100-300 on supplies, make one costume, and never use any of it again. This is exactly what you want to avoid! Ask yourself if you will really use these items again, and set a budget before you go shopping.

I was lucky enough to be gifted a sewing machine, and came from a crafty family that had most of these basics already. So for me my upfront cost was relatively low. I used what I had, and my costumes were not pretty, but I didn’t care. I taught myself through asking friends and watching YouTube videos. For me, making my own costumes was an investment because the skills I learned and the equipment I purchased would last me a long time. I knew they could be used for making many other things besides bellydance costumes. For example, I used my skills on my sewing machine to re-do the couch pillows on my sofa, because I did not like the fabric that they had before. So when looking at the skills you learn and the other uses for the supplies you buy, it really can save you money in the long run.

There is also the possibility of turning your costume making adventures into a profit. If you make your own costumes you could potentially sell them. Even if you just made a few for your troupe that may be enough to cover the costs of the necessary supplies and then some. If you get really skilled than Rose and I know one dancer from our troupe that works with her mom to make costumes and sells them for high prices. This covers all of her dancing expenses and then some. So don’t e discouraged by the high upfront cost! If you teach yourself, ask for help, and potentially sell your own costumes than you can more than make your money back.

PRICE: Buy

Rose: Costumes that are purchased can also vary in price depending on quality. I know a few websites that sell full costumes for cheap (from $10-50). They are pretty, but I’ll explain later where these cookie-cutter types have their fallout.

Pre-Made Costume
Pre-made costume from DressLily.com, cost $30

On the other hand, if you want a legitimate, pre-made costume that essentially has nothing wrong with it, you can get one from a good designer…for a minimum of about $400. Yup, that’s right: MINIMUM. And prices quickly escalate from there depending on fabric (type and amount used), beadwork (pros usually hand-sew hundreds of beads and sequins on their costumes), and design complexity.

TIME

Catlina: Just like with price, time is a huge factor to consider when making costumes. Making your own will be time consuming, especially if you are teaching yourself to use new tools or techniques. Buying your costumes can have long shipping times as some costumes may be shipping from China, and take weeks or months to deliver. So which one takes longer?

TIME: Make

Rose: I remember spending hours at a time over several days during my attempt to make a costume, just to make an unhemmed skirt! I then wasted another couple of days measuring and cutting out patterns to create the top. Only to find that I had not accounted for fabric overlap needed for stitching in my measurements. So I would’ve needed to spend another two days, at least, making the top, likely needing another two days (again, at least) to piece it all together with elastic strips. And this is when I was out of school and unemployed! I can only imagine how much longer it would take someone with a normal life to make this kind of costume which, by the way, was an incredibly plain costume with zero embroidery, decals, or beadwork.

Rose's Unheamed Skirt
Rose’s sad, plain, unfinished costume attempt

Catlina: I, however, knew just enough about sewing to be dangerous. I could hem a skirt in an hour due to my sewing machine, Bertha. (Whoever says sewing machines don’t have personalities is obviously lying… that machine is more temperamental than my cat.) I would constantly find myself with a performance in two days, and not enough time to wait for something to come in the mail. (This was before I learned about Amazon prime… how did we ever live without this!?!?!). So I would stay up all night sewing, have a costume, and hope that in my sleep-deprived state, I remembered to pull the pins out. I certainly do not recommend playing with sharp needles late at night before a huge performance. But I can also testify to the friendliness of the late-night workers at most craft stores.

TIME: Buy

Rose: For someone like me who isn’t very skilled at sewing, buying a costume saves me a lot of time. Granted, most costumes ship from the Eastern hemisphere, so shipping to the US can take anywhere from 2 weeks to a month. Which probably sounds like a longer time than you were expecting given that it’s 2019 but you can’t rush qualtiy. Also, if you ordered a custom-made costume, it may take an additional couple of weeks for the costume designer to make it. However, keep in mind that, during these weeks, you’re not having to do anything except wait. No sewing, no trimming, no weighing down obnoxiously mobile sheets of chiffon…nope. All your “work” just involved spending an hour or two online clicking around and typing in your debit card info.

Ultimately, when it comes to time, it depends on your skill with sewing. Someone with a good grasp on sewing like Catlina might be able to make a costume in 2 weeks or less. But someone like me, who once sewed a crappy quilt in 9th grade and years later attempted and failed to make one belly dance costume, might be better off leaving that work to someone else.

FIT AND CUSTOMIZATION

FIT AND CUSTOMIZATION: Make

Catlina: This is where making your own costume truly wins. When you make your own costume, nobody else will have that costume. It can truly make you stand out from a crowd. Making your own also allows you to know exactly what you are getting, how it will look, and that it will fit. I have heard horror stories of girls ordering costumes from China, and after weeks of waiting, they are the wrong size, wrong color, fit awkwardly when they wear them, or don’t allow the same flexibility in dance moves. So be careful before you order, and take the time to read reviews and ask about sizing in detail. Good shops will have specific measurements, lengths, and/or bra sizes listed on their site. Look for these before purchasing.

FIT AND CUSTOMIZATION: Buy

Rose: The pre-made costumes that Catlina is referring to here are the “cookie-cutter” costumes I warned you about, a.k.a. costumes that are mass-produced with no customization options. You don’t get to make them to fit, so you have to buy as close of a size to yours as you can, which can be challenging for a couple of reasons I’ll discuss in a later article (stay tuned!).

Another thing about cookie-cutter costume customization that can actually be a pro or a con depending on what you want, is something Catlina and I experienced in the belly dance club we were a part of in college. There was this one particular bra & bedleh set on Amazon that kept appearing on our fellow dancers, because it was cheap and easy to find. So we had several dancers with the same costume, just in different colors. It didn’t end up mattering then, fortunately, but had these dancers been hoping to stand out, they would not have been happy. On the flipside, for troupes wanting to appear more uniform, purchasing the same style of costume could be a plus.

Dance Troupe in Similar Costumes
Amazon costume coincidence at Dancing Through The Sahara, Mar. 2015

But now I need to talk about the custom-made costumes for purchase. It is common practice for professional belly dancers to choose their favorite designer and work with them to create unique costumes, so you CAN buy costumes that fit AND have a custom look! Here are a few examples of costumes one of my favorite belly dancers, Magnolia, had made for her:

Anastasiya Romania costume:

Dogan Gok costume: h

Yana Novikova costume: h

QUALITY

Catlina: Quality is similar to fit and customization. Work from online shops may not be guaranteed, but then again, if you are new to sewing your own outfits, your work may not be guaranteed, either. If you want true quality, there are several professional belly dance shops that guarantee their quality for life. Especially a few in Egypt and the Middle East that will ship to the United States or worldwide, however with this guaranteed quality you are paying high prices to match. Once you start knowing how to make your own costumes you know the weak spots, and tend to have higher quality than what you buy online and you know how to fix any issues that may arise.

QUALITY: Make

Rose: Like Catlina said, the quality of a costume you make is mostly dependent on your skill. The other factors that come into play are the fabric you choose, the stitch patterns you apply to hold the fabric together, and the embellishments. Lower-quality costumes tend to be made out of cotton, which looks cheap and gets worn out and “fuzzy” quickly, whereas higher-quality costumes will most often be made of silk or chiffon. When it comes to stitch patterns, a true seamstress will know which kinds will hang on better, where and how much to backstitch, how to hide as many seams as possible, and how to keep the fabric straight for an even seam. And lastly, embellishments can take a costume from “blah” to “huzzah!”. You can add embroidery, beadwork, fringe, coins, and many other things. For higher-quality embellishments, you can both buy more precious items (ex: sapphires instead of blue craftstore gems, bone beads instead of plastic) and SEW the embellishments on as opposed to hot-gluing them.

QUALITY: Buy

Unsurprisingly, buying the cheap cookie-cutter costumes means lower quality, whereas paying $400+ for custom-made costumes means higher quality.

Think you don’t care about quality when a costume is only ten bucks? Maybe that’s true…if you’re not trying to dance professionally. Now I don’t know if there is any written rule that states such specific costume requirements for professional events as fabric type and price, but I’m willing to bet that you won’t win any competitions or earn any paying gigs in your lint-fuzzed, loose-stringed wardrobe-on-a-budget. So keep your goals as a dancer (whether to go pro or no) in mind before you buy.

IN SUMMARY

Catlina: When it comes to making a costume, it may have a higher upfront cost depending on the materials you need and be VERY time-consuming, but it will result in learning many skills, being able to make costum∆˜hes quickly, and guaranteeing quality. It is possible to have lower overall costs when making your own costumes depending on how many you make. When buying a costume, it is a perfect example of getting what you pay for. Buying costumes can be cheap, easy, and quick to coordinate with troupe members, but can sacrifice quality and customization, OR it can save you the time and hassle of making a professional-looking costume at a high monetary cost.

Rose: So what do you think? Do you prefer to buy or make your belly dance costumes? Comment below!

STILL CONFUSED?

Catlina: We hope this article has helped answer any questions you have about the pros and cons of making vs buying a costume. If not, please feel free to reach out to us through our contact us page! We are happy to answer any questions.

We look forward to writing more posts for you soon!

Catlina and Rose Dancing
Photo by Rachel Junek. Rev’s Belly Dance Night, Feb. 2014. Catlina & Wilderthorne.

 

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!

Aren’t we all a bit nutty for fruit?

Fruit and Nut Salad

Fruit and Nut Salad:

Ah Friday, the week is over and you are finally able to be home and start relaxing. There really is nothing quite like coming home and letting the pressures of the week slide away. 

This week we wanted to give you a recipe that was quick, healthy, and tasty so that you can enjoy the start of your weekend. Our fruit and nut salad will be a pleasure to eat.

This recipe is also perfect for meal prepping and taking to lunch during the middle of a busy week! I am currently writing this post with one cat asleep on my lap and one asleep right next to me. As adorable as these fur babies are they do not make it easy to get up and prep a large meal. I can never turn down kitty snuggles! So having a pre-prepped healthy meal like this fruit and nut salad helps me get the most amount of snuggle time with my fur babies while also taking care of myself and eating healthy. 

 

I hope you enjoy!

 

Fruit and Nut Salad:

🥗Mixed greens

🥄Quinoa

🍎Apple

🍊Mandarin orange

🍓Strawberries

🌰🥜Nuts/seeds (walnuts and pumpkin seeds pictured)

🥣Dressing of your choice

Mix to taste and enjoy! *Hint, if you are meal prepping this salad I recommend leaving the dressing off to the side. If you put it into a small container and leave it to put on just before you eat it will make your salad last longer.*

Let us know how your salad turns out in the comments!

Fruit and Nut Salad

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.

Story of Us

Read the Story of Us

We are an interdisciplinary team made up of pharmacists, bellydancers, social workers, artists, healthcare professionals, and many more. Learn more about our team and the story of us below:

Catlina’s Story:

Catlina is a pharmacy resident with a passion for mental health pharmacy and a set of feet that won’t stop dancing. She graduated with a Bachelors degree from Texas A&M University. There she began her career as a semi-professional belly dancer, making just enough money for some extra glitter. (Can you really ever have enough glitter?) While there she also volunteered on a crisis helpline, and wanted to learn more about mental health.

This lead her to pharmacy school, and a burning desire to know if dance could help those with mental illnesses.  She recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy with her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, and would not have been able to make it through without dancing. She hopes her experience and credentials will provide a unique experience, that proves pharmacists truly do make the best bellydancers, and vice versa. This blog is her way of exploring the connection between dance and medicine.

Rose’s Story:

Rose has always loved art and science. As a child, she frequently wrote poems and flipped through horse care books, and her interests matured as she delved into studies of literature and chemistry in high school, and technical writing and, well, ALL types of science in college. For years, she worked at various small and large animal facilities, pursuing her interest in health. On the side, she would belly dance. Art and science were always a part of her world.

The two worlds finally meshed for her shortly after earning her Bachelor of Science when her mental and physical health struck their lowest point. This forced her to rehabilitate herself via biomedical and alternative treatments. She learned that life and health required a balance between the structured, tested methods of Western medicine and the mysterious artistry of nature and creativity. Now, her heart has guided her toward wanting to help other people find that balance.

Cooper’s Story:

Cooper is a stalwartly optimistic chemist that believes in offering over-the-counter compassion. He also believes in mindful medication management, high doses of humor, and empowering patients to steer their destiny. His hobbies include taking long walks around hospital courtyards, drinking cafeteria coffee (500 mL PO TID AC + HS), and filling the spacious pockets of his white coat with mostly useless things. In addition to these activities becoming of a fine gentleman, he also likes to read books in the breakroom and contemplate philosophy.

Sun’s Story:

Sun is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapy Associate (LMFT-A) who lives in Texas with her 14-year-old dog. Prior to graduation, she spent her time working with university-level students struggling with various concerns that often directly impacted their academic standing. Whether she’s working with clients or students, Sun believes in collaborative work.

She firmly believes that every client is the expert on their own life, and utilizes that information to promote teamwork and positivity during session. When she isn’t working, Sun enjoys focusing her free time on different forms of self-care. This includes hanging out with friends, wood-burning, PC gaming, and getting lost in good music (to name a few).