Echolac Bags 

I bought a diaper bag while I was pregnant and I like it, but I don’t find it convenient to pack or carry. Because Y and I travel quite often, I decided that a backpack style diaper bag would be much easier.

I stopped in a luggage store while taking a quick walk at the mall. I found a backpack that I liked and next to it was a little shoulder bag.

Continue reading


Work Dress Code

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Teachers, staff and students at PNU all have to follow a dress code. We are required to wear ankle length skirts and shirts with at least 3/4 length sleeves. The skirts shouldn’t be sheer or have large slits. The shirts also shouldn’t be sheer, have cutouts or be too low in the front. However, it is also possible to get away with wearing a long dress as long as it fulfills the requirements.


Before I started work I expected the style to be quite formal, but a lot of the students wear sporty style sweatshirts and even sneakers. Some of the teachers and staff wear different patterns and colors. Some of them wear regular long sleeve t-shirts, some wear collared shirts and some even wear a suit jacket.


I’m 100% supportive of this kind of dress code at the university setting. It is clear enough that you don’t have to second guess your clothing choices and  I think that it requires everyone to dress appropriately, but also gives some freedom of expression.


These days if you attend a university class in the USA you’ll see at least one or two students wearing their pajamas, you’ll probably see one wearing sweaty workout clothes and you’ll probably see one or two who are showing inappropriate amounts of skin for the classroom setting. “Freedom” is not an excuse.

There is a huge difference between getting all dolled up and looking presentable. A little bit of effort goes a long way.

I’m happy that I don’t have to think too much about what I’m going to wear everyday and also that I don’t have to look out at a class full of students who seem like they are ready for sleep, the gym or the nightclub, hahaha.

Remember that life is easy if you make it easy. Think positively, be flexible and don’t have so many expectations.



My First Saudi Wedding

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Remember the post that I wrote about my friend’s family here in Riyadh? After my last visit they invited me to attend their cousin’s wedding. I was thrilled at the thought of finally experiencing a Saudi style wedding that I have heard so much about in the past couple of years. I didn’t really know what to expect, but my first thought was what they heck am I going to wear? I didn’t pack any heels with me or any nice dresses, because I really didn’t expect to have an opportunity to wear them so soon. I felt like I was going to stick out like a sore thumb in my knit jersey dress and pair of flats. Luckily, I had a chance to buy a pair of shoes and a dress at the mall with one of my new friend’s Tuesday night. I chose a black dress with an empire waist, lace detailing and a gold colored lining and a pair of black heels with a pretty cut out design. ّI wore a set of gold jewelry that was given to me by Y’s mom and dad and a small beaded bag that belonged to my great-grandmother.

wedding11s_wedding3s_wedding7s_wedding5s_wedding1© smyh 2014

Weddings in Saudi Arabia are segregated by gender. Because of this weddings are the ultimate time for women to wear their best clothes, put on makeup and do their hair. The women can remove the abaya and hijab (the long black robe and headscarf) that they typically wear in public and enjoy their time in a female-only environment. You’ll see all kinds of styles from classic to advant-garde and probably the best way to describe it is as some kind of red-carpet event or fashion show.

I’ll be honest, it was a little bit overwhelming at first. As soon as we walked in the room we started greeting people with our hands, kissing cheeks and giving Salaam (peace or hello). These are the moments that I wish I spoke more Arabic. I just tried to say “Hi, how are you? Alhamdullah, I’m fine” with a big smile, hoping that would suffice.

At one point I felt a tap on my should and when I turned around there was an older woman smiling at me. She started talking in Arabic and I didn’t catch much of hit, but she took my hand and I kissed her cheek. Every time my friend’s family would say, “This is A’s friend from America” the other women would give me a huge smile and say “Mashallah” (which is a phrase used typically to show appreciation).

We sat down at a table. There were containers of coffee and tea and women were walking around with trays of sweets and snacks. Throughout the night I continued to meet others, standing up, presenting my hand, kissing cheeks and attempting to say hello. All the while there was a group of women at the back of the hall singing and playing drums, while many of the guests danced.

The music changed and everyone looked to the front of the hall. There was a large staircase leading to the aisle and the bride appeared and ever so slowly began making her way down. Everyone just watched her and a few photographers snapped her picture. She finally got up to the stage and stood in front of the couch. Her family members came to hug her, kiss her and congratulate her. After that, everyone else in the hall made their way up in groups to do the same. She wasn’t there very long, the music changed and she started to make her way out.

You might be wondering why I don’t have any pictures from the actual wedding. That is because cameras or cell phones with cameras aren’t allowed. I know this seems a little strange but just imagine that everyday you take the time cover your body and your hair in front of men and then you’re at a wedding looking your best when someone takes your picture and perhaps puts it on the internet (or shows it to others). No one would feel comfortable in this situation. So, unfortunately, I can’t show you exactly what the hall looked like, or the food we ate, but I’ll do my best to describe it anyways.

IMG-20130823-WA0017IMG-20130823-WA0015 ↑ These are pictures that ‘A’ sent me a while back of a different wedding that she had attended. It is very similar to the one that I went to. The bride and some of her family members sit on a sofa at the back of the hall. The guests sit along either side of an aisle. I’ve never seen anything like it in the USA and apparently it is quite standard here. 

A new song would start and women from tables all around the hall would suddenly get up and make their way to go dance. You’d see young girls dancing, teenagers, young women and even the older ladies. It is really lovely. I guess I am going to have to try and stop being so bashful in this situation and just give in. Next time I will in sha Allah (God willing).

After some time in the main hall all of the guests began moving to another room. There was a buffet dinner set up and more tables and chairs for sitting. There was all kinds of foods: salads, spring rolls, rice, chicken, pasta, vegetables and more.

Something interesting about this place was the area of sinks at either end of the dining hall. They were small open rooms containing just sinks with mirrors. Saudi’s often eat with their hand and so hand washing (they also rinse their mouths) is necessary afterwards.

We went back to the main hall to sit, listen to the music, chat a bit and wait for our ride.

Lastly, and just as an fyi, if you attend a Saudi wedding make sure that you get a lot of sleep the day before. I left my apartment at 10pm and didn’t get back until 4am. It’s party time between the night prayer and the morning prayer, haha.



November Shoes of the Month

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

It seems that each month I have a pair of shoes that I wear almost every time I go out of the house. I thought it could be fun to share which shoes were my favorite this month.

Last spring I bought a pair of brown lace up leather sneakers with white fuzzy lining that folds over at the top of the shoe. I got the last pair on clearance for $19 at JCPenney.

I’ve been wearing these all month and as you can see, I did beat them up a little bit. The leather has gotten soft and the color on the robber soles has rubbed off a bit. Even the white lining has got a bit dirty.

As the weather got colder this November, my shoes got warmer.


October Shoes of the Month

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

It seems that each month I have a pair of shoes that I wear almost every time I go out of the house. I thought it could be fun to share which shoes were my favorite this month.


I bought a pair of grey canvas Vans lace up sneakers in the Spring of 2012. I didn’t wear them that much when I first got them. Honestly, they gave me blisters on my heels. I have worn them in now and they are my go to pair of shoes when the weather is not too warm and not too cold.


They are a little scuzzy these days, but I think that we all should have a pair of sneaks like that. The pair with the slightly dirty white laces and the white rubber that really needs a good scrubbing but you never actually bother.

They were pretty and classic when I first got them though and I think if I actually did get around to cleaning them they could look like this again. These are a good pair of sneakers for those who don’t like to wear trainers when you aren’t actually working out. I think when I bought them I paid $29.95 and I think they are worth that. They haven’t ripped or torn and the rubber is still attached to the upper (which is a common problem I have with casual sneakers). Also, there are usually a good assortment of colors and sometimes textures and patterns.


September Shoes of the Month

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

It seems that each month I have a pair of shoes that I wear almost every time I go out of the house. I thought it could be fun to share which shoes were my favorite this month.


This past summer I was in Malaysia and I got a pair of flats from a store called Padini Concept Store at the Genting Highlands mall. First of all, shopping in Malaysia is so fantastic because of the price. Every time I converted a price from MYR to USD I would jump for joy. At the same time you will find a lot of stores that you haven’t seen before, which means new and unique styles. My purchase wasn’t something very unique, but they are extremely light and comfortable.


I guess I would describe them as a dark taupe/brown color with a snakeskin texture. They are light and yet my feel never hurt from wearing them. I’ve also never had any blisters from them, even the first time I wore them (and that day I walked for 3 – 4 hours around the 10 story Berjaya Times Square mall in Kuala Lumpur). Pretty impressive if you ask me, especially considering the 25 MYR price tag ($7.75 USD).