Monday, January 10, 2011

Cool Ideas for a New Year

by Dina Sleiman

One of my friends has been posting her favorite things from 2010 on facebook. I thought this was a great idea. Share those little things that have in some way improved your life. So here are my great discoveries from 2010 to hopefully help brighten your 2011.

In Fashion...
The stretchy skinny jean has revolutionized my wardrobe this year. My kids have been wearing skinny jeans for a while, but they are now reaching the misses sizes as well. What's not to love? They look chic and feel like pajamas!  So trade in your frumpy mom jeans with their high waists and saggy behinds and get up to date. Pair your stretchy skinny jeans with long, loose tunics and slouchy boots for my favorite look that's comfy enough to sleep in and trendy enough to take out on the town. Notice I chose curvy models to prove that the skinny jean fashion is not for skinny people only.

In beauty...
After my long winded spiritual post about being youthful inside and out, I feel obligated to confess that I do employ a few youthful makeup tips as well. Think like an artist. This year I discovered that when makeup designers want actors to look old for stage, they ask them to scrunch up their faces and then apply black lines in the natural crevices to create a shadowed effect. take off five years every morning, I do the opposite. I apply light concealer to those shadowy areas around my eyes, nose, and mouth. Then I top it off with moisturizer to minimize fine lines and prevent caking.

In Health...
By December I found myself suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Usually I spend a lot of time outside riding my bike, but once the temperature dips below 50, the wind is just too biting for cycling. I decided to try a pair of toning tennis shoes for power walking and found a pair of Avias at a closeout store for $20. They work great. Not only has the outdoor walking improved my mood (and given my cheeks a lovely golden glow), the curved bottom of the shoe allows me to walk fast enough to get my heartrate up into the fat buring zone. In fact, I've even tried some jogging. Usually it's too hard on my knees and ankles. However, this balance ball technology provides the cushion and support I need to hit the open pavement.

In Fiction...
This year I discovered Lisa Samson. Where have I been??? If you haven't discovered her yet, it's high time you do. I started with The Passion of Mary-Margeret, my hands down favorite book of 2010 and a Christy award winner. I just finished Quaker Summer  and I'm moving on to Embrace Me. Unlike some of my inky sisters who opt for mindless romances supplemented by hard-hitting nonfiction, I love to find that sweet spot of fiction that really challenges and moves me. Add in an artistic touch, and I think I'm about ready to declare Lisa Samson my all time favorite writer.
In Writing...

While reading a fun book by my agent's husband, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Christian Fiction, I learned something priceless. Everytime you enter a new scene, place your reader in the fictional dream world. How do you do this, 1) place us firmly in the head, even the body of the point of view character, 2) twang one or more of the five senses,  3) show us where (and I would add when) they are, 4) progress with the story. The order can vary. If you have a long passage a dialogue, do this during and after to keep us oriented. Try out this technique and see if it revolutionizes your writing like it did mine.

In Spirituality...
I write a lot of posts on spiritual topics, but I was trying to think of one little tip that has really helped me. This year I've been trying to learn how to do things in God's strength and not my own. I find it easy to do things in my own strength, at least externally, but often something is off in my thoughts or attitudes. Over time I manage to mess things up and exhaust myself. On the other hand, if I just sit there and don't do anything, I'm not doing things in God's strength. I'm not doing anything at all. Then I read the simplest little tip in a Joyce Meyers book. Just ask. Ask God to give you strength. Acknowledge your need for his help. And then move forward conscious of your need for his assistance. Simple yet powerful.

So these are a few things that revolutionized my life in 2010. How about you? Any tips for the rest of us? New finds in foods, entertainment, child-rearing, music etc...? Anyone try the pretzel or coconut m&ms? Anyone own a new-fangled three barrel curling iron? Passing phase or here to stay?


  1. Great blog...short, sweet and attainable even for those who don't write! Currently trying to update that wardrobe myself so you caught me at the start.

  2. Dina, you're so 'on top of things'!

    I haven't gotten around to "The Passion of Mary Margaret" because I know how Lisa Samson's books get into my head and heart. My favorite of her 'older' books is SongBird. Love that book.

    Hey, wait a minute. Mindless? ACK They sure don't feel that way when you're trying to write them, do they?

    On most of the rest, I'm comfortably slacking off. But I'd like to do more of the 'just ask' prayers, not just for the big stuff but for the little things too.

    Thanks Dina.

    My newest fad will occur when the current boxy tv dies and I buy an internet-ready flat screen. Actually hope that doesn't happen for a long time, but I'm researching now.

  3. Deb, I just got caught up in being sassy. I know a lot of writers do add some nice depth to their romance, but you must admit, some of it is fairly mindless. And, many romance readers admit they just want to enjoy and escape. There is a fine art to weaving in subtle messages, which is probably what takes so much effort.

    Blogger's been acting up, so I don't dare adjust my comment, or fix the typo I found for that matter.

    We got a flat screen tv last year. I love it. One warning, though, if you don't have HD, everyone looks 10 pounds overweight. We actually had HD, but it took us a while to figure out how to use it and to get our DVR schedule transferred over to those channels.

  4. Wendy, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Back in our secret Inktropolis bat cave, we're always brainstorming about how to be more accessible to readers, not just writers. So that is very helpful feedback.

  5. Oh, and Wendy, I especially like the skinny jean look the lady on the far left is sporting. I have several outfits with that basic look. The middle outfit is a bit skimpy for me personally.

  6. Thanks Dina! My face is scrinching in all on it's own... I like the concealer with moisturizer idea.

    I'll have to check out the Christmas Fiction book!

    One of my favorite food discoveries- Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter-YUM!!! Like Nutella but all natural.

  7. I haven't even seen a three barreled curling iron. How would such a newfangled contraption work. Seems like the hair would get all tangled. But then I have long hair, I guess it could work for shorter hair. Inquiring minds want to know.

  8. Hi Cheryl, I think my favorite food discovery this year might be Hardees hand dipped chicken strips. Not very sophisticated of me, but yum! I also really like the Kashi go lean granola cereals with 10 grams of protein per serving.

  9. Lisa, you can actually look up the three barreled curling iron on youtube and watch a video. The hair doesn't actually wrap, it's more like a big soft crimper. Makes "beach waves." The result is very pretty.

  10. Hello, Miss Dina. I enjoyed reading your post today however, the lack of decent clothing is quite scandalous to my mind. Imagine, showing off a woman's shape in that fashion. Now Miss Marvin's clothing is more appropriate.

    Please forgive me, I haven't properly introduced myself... Miss Anita Mae is indisposed today and I'm here on her behalf. Jecoliah Endicott, at your service. And yes, you may call me Liah. Well, I'm not actually at your service as I'm attending the party at Seekerville and ended up here while wandering around this blogosphere as you call it.

    But back to your post, I would like to say that I do indeed ask our Lord for guidance with almost every step I take. Out here in the Territories where so many dangers abound, it just makes sense to ask first.

    Oh, I believe I see Corporal Patrice Bisset of the North West Mounted Police. So handsome in his scarlet uniform. I really would like to hear how his little boy is faring so far from home. If you'll excuse me...

  11. Jecoliah!!! I'm so excited to have you here today. I agree that the middle picture is a bit on the "scandalous" side, but the three were attached, and I liked that the models weren't just size 00. I really like the picture to the far left and usually pair my jeans with a loose thigh length tunic top myself.

    Although, I must say that my daughter, at a size three, looks awesome in these jeans with any shirt.

  12. Jecoliah, I was thinking more about your comment. I think you would really like the palazzo style pant. It's loose on the leg but very fashionable. Another one of my favorites and very comfortable. I still like to wear them with long tunic style shirts and sweaters.

    Oh, and tell your handsome corporal I said hi ;)

  13. Miss Dina, I've been thinking about your comment as well. I believe the problem lies in the fact that I'm very much out of my element here. Apparently it's quite normal to walk around in your nightwear these days. Back in 1888, a person would be scarred for life to be seen outdoors in such a state.

    And if the truth were known, I do wear my brother's pants when I help him on his farm. But, oh my, I would never allow anyone other than my family to see me dressed in such attire. What would be the point?


  14. Fun post, Dina! I think it's a great exercise, so I'm going to have to try this, too.

    I have never even heard of the coconut m&ms, and they sound like something I'd devour. Hmm. I did try a food this year (which probably isn't even particularly 2010) but I sometimes daydream about it: twice baked potato egg rolls. There isn't a single redeeming thing to them, except the small amount of calcium in the cheddar cheese. But I can't stop thinking about them. So. Good. Maybe in 2011 I need to break from them and eat more oatmeal or something.

  15. Dina, I loved your writing tips from your agent's husband. They're great. I'm not sure I'm ready to trade my "mom" jeans in for skinny jeans. And I love "mindless romance", but I also love the deeper more challenging novels, too. Just depends on my mood.

    Liah, I can't tell you how many people I see in their "nightware". In the grocery store, walking outside on a snowy day (brrr!), and I saw a lady in a restaurant the other day in her jammies and fuzzy slippers. It seems to be very common here, and I'm not really sure why.

  16. Oh my, Susanne, those do sound good. Everything in moderation, right.

  17. Yes, the wearing pajamas in public is a new fad I encourage you all to avoid! Clothes that feel like pajamas - good. Clothes that are pajamas - bad.

  18. love love love this post! saw lots of slouchy boots on the female spectators at a hockey game and thought of you!

  19. This is such a fun post, Dina!
    Dressing these days in an exercise in 80s flashbacks, IMHO. Boots, skinny jeans, long tops. *sigh* I'm a fan of for style help. She just turned 40 this year, too, and always looks incredible.
    LOVE the coconut M&Ms.
    Discovered "Vampire Diaries" on the CW network. My guilty pleasure.
    And for exercise, I just ordered two Bar Method DVDs to change up my P90X and Insanity routines (and give my knees a break).

  20. Yes, Bex, I have black suede slouchy boots and brown boots that look like they're crocheted or knitted or something. I like the brand of those, Bear Paws. My daughter has black and gray and we share the brown Bear Paws since they have some stretch to them and her feet are a size smaller..

  21. I have some new shows I like too. We discovered The Sing off, which was a competition between these amazing acapella groups. That's over for the season, though. Then there's Live to Dance, just started last week, so you can still jump on that show.

    I also love a show called Big. It's a drama about kids at a fat camp. I really hope that one will be back, it had a nice depth.

    And then guilty pleasures: Hellcats, which is a cheerleading dramatic tv series, similar to the Bring It On movies, and Make It or Break It, similar to the movie Stick It about gymnasts.

  22. Despite my attire today, I'd love to check out some slouchy boots. Bear Paws?
    (Debra is having flashbacks to the long tops and stirrup pants she wore for too many years)

    Liah, nice to see you over here in Inktropolis. The party at Seekerville got too noisy. My carriage awaits. A queen's work is never done.

    Trends? I'm demanding my staff prepare red lentil curry at least once a week now. So Raj, don't you think?

    Now where did Albert go off to?

  23. Deb, I think you'll find these 2011 versions have nicer flowy fabrics and silhouettes, although my bear paws would definitely remind you of some 80s legwarmers. Trust me, I was there.

    Loving this fun discussion today. We should do light topics more often.

  24. Okay, Dina, I'm popping in real quick to say, "Great post!" I think I saw those same shoes in Marshall's yesterday. Have wondered if they'd help me when doing my morning walk-run. Guess I need to get a pair.

    Must go clean. We have friends coming over for dinner.

  25. Yes, I definitely recommend getting the toning shoes, especially if you can find a good deal like I did.

    Oh, and Gina saw me in my favorite skinny jean, long sweater, slouchy boot combo in November.


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