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Everywhere I look I see the latest trend of donning animal prints. From shoes to purses to headbands, the bold zebra prints, big giraffe prints, and sexy leopard prints are in style right now. I would always cringe and run whenever I saw these prints on clothes as I was afraid of being confused with the actual animal! Being a large woman, I always believed that those prints were not made for covering all my flesh.

During a recent shopping trip with my best friend, I caved and decided to experiment with adding these trendy styles to my own, more conservative wardrobe. I found a really cute black and white zebra print sweater at Lane Bryant. It has ĺ length sleeves, black onyx buttons, and is lightweight, which is perfect for layering. I wore this sweater over a black cami with black dress pants and red pointy toe flats. I have never received so many compliments on any one outfit as I did that day. I started off the day mentally teetering in front of the mirror asking myself, ďShould I really wear this?!Ē After a long debate and looking at it from every possible angle in my full length mirror, I left the house a little apprehensive as this sweater had me stepping out of my fashion comfort zone. But by dayís end, I was walking with my head held high. I felt fashionable, beautiful, and unstoppable. I couldnít believe that a sweater with such bold prints could make me feel soÖbold. At $34.99, it didnít break my budget but made me feel like a million bucks!

After that, I started looking at these prints in a whole new way. On a recent trip out shopping at Payless Shoe Source, I bought myself a pair of leopard print flats. Paired with my dress pants or with my jeans, they look adorable and can completely transform an entire outfit for only $19.99. Donít be afraid to add some of these trendy animal prints to your wardrobe. If you, like me, donít usually sport animal prints, start off small. Try carrying one of the ultra chic giraffe print purses or wrap a cute leopard or zebra printed scarf around your neck over a plain or dark colored top. With little spicy changes to your everyday wardrobe, you will soon be seen around your workplace or neighborhood as a fashionista. Strut your stuff, girl, cause you got it going on!

Up and coming trend to look out for: hounds tooth! Itís popping up everywhere from scarves to pants and tops. Read next month to find out my experiences adding this versatile pattern to my professional and casual wardrobe.

Editor Note: Zebra shirt available at the Lane Bryant website. Leopard print flats available at PayLess Shoe Source.

Written and submitted by: Nicole


With the colder months upon us itís important to take good care of your skin. We all know we should be using a facial moisturizer and SPF daily. While keeping your face hydrated and safe from harmful aging UVA and UVB rays is very important, your body needs some extra attention to stay soft and subtle. Keeping your body hydrated on the inside also helps keeps you glowing. Aim for the recommended 8 glasses of water a day. I always know when I am short on my water allowance each day because my lips begin to chap. As strange as that sounds, it keeps me drinking and reminds me how important staying hydrated from the inside out is. Between the cold air outside and the drying heat inside, my skin is crying for nourishment. Iíve found that no matter what body wash I use, I always need a moisturizer post shower in the colder months. The Dove products really deliver on their promises. I like their new Nutrium body wash followed by the Dove cream oil lotion. It doesnít feel waxy or heavy on my skin. It provides great moisture and doesnít break the bank. Costing about $5.99 each, this Dove combo provides a great one-two punch to knock out dry winter skin. I recommend lathering up with lotion immediately after toweling off from your shower or bath. After a long hard day of work and caring for my kids, I look forward to a hot shower to relax my muscles and ease my mind. All that hot water and steam does wonders for my mental health but actually zaps my skin of moisture. I find that my skin seems to soak up the lotion and really lock it in right after my shower when my pores are still open. Taking the extra 5 minutes before dressing is well worth it as my skin stays soft and moisturized and my clothes seem to glide over my skin like satin. Itís just another reminder that we women are sexy, beautiful creatures and deserve every second of pampering we give ourselves!

Next month preview: Kiss my Face! cleanser and moisturizer and using exfoliators in winter.

Written and submitted by: Nicole

Make Up

Iíve found a new favorite foundation. Itís the new Maybelline Liquid Dream Mousse foundation pump. It glides on light and smooth and really covers my imperfections. I have been using this for about two weeks now and am still receiving compliments at work about how nice my make up looks. I donít feel ďmade upĒ after I put it on. It averages about $8.99 and is proving to be worth every penny. There was a nice variety of shades to compliment different skin tones. I use a facial primer under to fill in any lines or creases before I put on my foundation. Since using this, I find myself going lighter on my other makeup and embracing a more natural look. I sweep on a champagne colored eye shadow, two coats of black mascara, and a nude or peachy lip gloss for work. I dust bronzer (itís not just for summer!) under my jaw line and around my hairline. It creates dimension on my face and helps me not look washed out or tired with less makeup on. The basic shades match any outfit and give you a beautiful look. For evening glam, I add some black eyeliner and draw a thin black line along my upper lash line then smudge. I will usually follow with a darker lipstick or gloss. Whether itís day or night, I have been having my makeup work for me by letting my natural beauty shine through. A good friend of mine always reminds me that my beauty has to come from within. It has to radiate out like a lighthouse does for the ships on the sea. I found her advice to be true. When I feel pretty I carry myself differently. Make it work for you. Try altering your makeup and playing with looks that let more of your natural beauty out. Donít hide behind the makeup. Use it to play up your favorite feature. When you feel more naturally beautiful others will take notice. One last tip: always remember to smile. Smiling lights up your face and makes you more radiant instantly!

Next month preview: Making Valentine red work for you without looking like Bozo.

Written and submitted by: Nicole

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"Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to."
~Bill Vaughn
" Many people look forward to the new year for a new start on old habits."
~Author Unknown

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