Happy Wednesday! It has been a busy work week, but a lot of fun this week as well. It is all about balance, to find that live + love moment.  These are some of my latest discoveries and everyday beauty.

I spotted these sunny chevron glasses  at West Elm, and realized I must buy them pronto!

Maya and I did a quick road trip to Charlotte for an audition, and on the way I needed to get coffee. Looking for Starbucks we discovered this monstrous chest of drawers (yep, the world’s largest furniture store).

Lola wants to play,and how can I resist when it is a beautiful day and finally signs of spring in Raleigh.

Have you ever wondered what life is like with an Ironman? And, I am not talking about Robert Downey, Jr.  I would not be complaining about that Ironman.  No, I am talking about the the Ironman athlete. The one who trains every week as if it is a part-time job.

I am living with one…again. My husband is an Ironman. Thirteen hours and thirty-one minutes and twenty-eight seconds. He heard the announcer say…Bilal, you are an Ironman.  Apparently, that was not enough. He has signed up for a second one, since he knows what to expect from the race. And of course, he wants a better time.

75916_10151233563644870_1070562651_nBilal, you are an Ironman (Panama City, Florida 2012)

I was not sure if my marriage would be able to handle it. All the training. Going to sleep at 9:00 pm and waking up at 4:30 am to go for a run or a bike ride.  I would tuck my kids into bed for the night, and tuck my husband right afterwards. His training schedule was insane. Twice a day work outs. Training in the summer was a nightmare. Date nights became less and less. Social time with family and friends became less and less. The reality was on a non-training day we just wanted to hang out together. The marriage survived. He survived the race. All is well.

So when my husband said he wanted to do a second Ironman, my jaw dropped, I gulped, and I said okay. But the promise was made that this would be the last Ironman. OKAY!!

The best thing my husband did the second time around for his Ironman training, is he started working with a coach. I highly encouraged him to work with someone because I knew that his coach would not only help him train, but help him balance his training with his life. Stacey is his coach, and she owns TRIstacey. And she is my ally. Before we go on vacation or a weekend trip, I tell her because I know she can alter his workouts. Whatever is written in his schedule he will do. So when she said that Bilal needed to do more of a core workout, I suggested Pilates to her. And, she wrote it in his schedule. So we went to Pilates together a few times. And then he had to do yoga.

Being left all alone on the weekends so that your significant other can go and train for five hours. Do. not. take. it. personally. Paranoid people will think, my spouse does not love me. Why on earth would they want to spend all that time exercising. Repeat after me. “This is not about me. This is not about me. This is not about me.” This journey of being a triathlete is about the triathlete.  You just happen to be there for the ride.

For those of you who are not training, make sure you have an awesome support system. Friends. Family. Wine. No really, you need to find people who want to hang out and talk to you. Because after your significant other comes home, he or she is mentally drained. They do not want to make any decisions about what’s for dinner. They do not want to have small talk about what you did all day.  And do not expect any sympathy from your athlete, because no matter how much pain you are in…they are in more pain. No matter how tired you are, they are more tired. So find it in yourself not to complain. Be cheerful. Be the reason why your athlete wants to come home.

And for goodness sake, find something that you can be passionate about. I had started taking tennis lessons.  A couple of months later my husband suggested that I start training with him. I must have had a look of panic on my face. At least that is what I felt. And I blurted out that tennis was my thing. I made it my thing. I said I was joining a team. I did not want to run, bike or swim. Athletes, do not pressure your spouse to join you. If they want to join you, they will.

Also, though they are training for the BIG race, they will do many smaller races leading up to the one. And these smaller races, are still big races. Marathons. Half-Ironman Raleigh. Sprints. It just does not stop. And do not get me started on how expensive this “hobby” can be. But at the end of the day, no matter how much it costs to do races, the gear, the travel…the benefit is good health.

A couple of races are coming up, but now I am looking forward to his next Ironman. I got to pick the location. Hello, Ironman Nice! Yes, family vacation to France at the end of June. And, the best part is that we will have the rest of the summer to work on being a family again… without the training schedule.

Here is a conversation of a wife and her triathlete…for fun.

I have always wanted a tattoo.

And when I say always, I would say for at least the past ten years. I see people with a tattoo on their wrist, and I long to have one.  I do not long for it to be anywhere else, but the wrist tattoo just says something a bit more to me.  I am not sure why.  I just know that I want one.  And I kept putting it off.

I even went a few years ago with my twin sister to get a tattoo. She got one. I chickened out. Usually that is the case though. I would always let her do something first. See how it goes. Then I would follow. In this case I did not follow immediately.

I know why I did not get that tattoo a few years ago. I have a problem. I am totally afraid of commitment.

My husband would also say that I am afraid of commitment. He says that it even surprised him that I committed to marriage…and here we are going on almost 16 years!

tina_bilal_weddingGetting married in 1998

My past boyfriends (not that many) would tell you I am afraid of commitment, because as soon as it got serious, I would come up with an excuse to get out of the relationship. Of course, at the time I did not realize that I even had commitment issues.

A psychologist would say the commitment issues can be traced to childhood.  But I don’t want to go there.

The other reason I think (well I know) I have put off getting a  tattoo was I was afraid what my father would think.  I know, I know. I am 39 years old.  But I still care what my father thinks, even though I am married, have two kids, have traveled the world, owned my business, and am pretty independent in everything I do.  But the reality is, in my middle eastern culture, tattoos are considered taboo!  Though times are changing.  Having a dog as a pet is taboo as well, and I have one of those, too!

tina_babaWhat my dad thinks really matters to me

And this is why I knew that I wanted a tattoo on my wrist. I wanted it so that I can see it everyday. And I did not want to hide it, because I do not hide from anything.


I actually saw a pin on Pinterest that I liked, and thought it would make an awesome tattoo. I made this image my iPhone screen saver to see if I would get tired of seeing it multiple times a day.  I admired this images every day. Here is the picture of the pin. I am not sure who to credit for it. But I absolutely love it!


It says love and peace in Arabic. And, as you can see in the beautiful writing, there is also an image of a dove.  A dove symbolizes peace.  And this is a big part of my identity. A part of my being (and should be for everyone) and my personal philosophy is love, peace and happiness.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” ―John Lennon

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” ― Rumi

“The day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace.” ― Mahatma Ghandi

“World peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not just mere absence of violence. Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.” ― Dalai Lama XIV 

liveloveMy newest signature scent, Carven, exclusively at Saks, Nespresso makes me so happy, flower arrangements that are breathtaking, and my little sidekick, Lola.

Take a deep breath and enjoy those little things in life that truly make you happy.


Vine. Kik. Snapchat. ooVoo. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you are missing out on your kids “social” activities. As parents we want to know who our kids are hanging out with at school or after school. Now we also need to know who our tweens are talking to via social media.

This week my daughter had to go visit the guidance counselor, as did five other friends. She did not do anything wrong. But she was in the middle of tween drama! One of her good friends made an accusation that the only reason why she took a picture with a certain group of friends was to get more Instagram likes!  The funny thing is I was the one who suggested and took the picture after her friends came out to see her in the school play.  Apparently that one picture generated so many likes for my daughter, that her other friend, who was not there, was jealous.  Than this so-called friend started trash talking about my daughter via text to another good friend.  And in the end one of the friends showed my daughter the text correspondence. My daughter’s feelings were hurt. The text conversation went from friend to friend, and friends were picking sides. After visiting the guidance counselor, the girls learned not to talk about people and how texts can cause a lot of drama!

The reality is that our tweens out there are obsessed with popularity in real life and in their social media.  A common conversation you between tweens is how many Instagram followers do you have? Wow, look how many likes you got on that one picture!    

Do you want to know how I even found out about this visit to the guidance counselor? When I picked up my daughter from school, she was texting like there was no tomorrow.  Her phone kept pinging on the ride to her afterschool activity.  The texts seemed excessive.  Which lead me to ask, Wow! What is up with all the texts? Anything happen today at school? And this started our conversation.

Parents! Our children are in a different “techie” world. And I know many of you do not love social media they way I do. But you better get with the program.  Our tweens leave clues everyday on what is going on in their world via Instagram, Kik, and iMessage.  And if you know what they are talking about, you can actually have conversation with your tweens by asking lead questions to find out more.  You have to ask them lead questions to get them to talk to you!

I go through my daughter’s text messages (she does not delete them).  I have made it clear to her that I do not look at her text messages to see who likes who, and who said what.  I am looking for inappropriateness for their age.  Trust me, by doing this you will also be able to know who you want your tween to hang out with and who you are going to make sure they steer clear of after school.

Netiquette? What is that all about?

We teach our kids etiquette, in their face to face social interactions.  Now it is time to teach kids netiquette with their social media interactions.  Be very specific with your tween on the way things are written can have a different tone than saying it out loud.  How many times have we as adults gotten a text or email and questioned the tone the other person projects?  It is so important for our tweens to realize that when they are texting  they need to treat people nicely, and not to be rude, cruel, or gossip.  When they send a picture, video, message screenshot, anyone can see it and it can be forwarded easily.

Here a few questions that I told my daughter should ask herself:

  • What would my parent’s think of this text? Picture? Conversation?
  • Would I actually say this in person to my friend?
  • Is this picture or text appropriate? If someone sees it will I be ok with that?
  • Am I saying something that might hurt someone’s feelings?

Forever and Ever…and Ever

This is a really hard lesson to learn.  My daughter learned first hand how a text conversation can go from one person to the other, and be totally misinterpreted.  Also, that picture or screenshot that was forwarded to your friend, is now and forever in cyberspace. It is very easy for a picture or message to be cut and pasted and taken out context. I explained Photoshop. Very hard concept to learn.  But show your kids examples.  I showed my daughter this example from our local newspaper, News and Observer.  These are real tweets from her peers that were showing up in a newspaper article.  Bottom line, if it is something you do not mind showing the rest of the world than it fine.  If you have any doubt that you do not want the whole world, school, good friends to see something…than think again about what you say. text,  or what you post.

Parents, technology is here to stay. We must come to the realization that our kids live in a real world…and a virtual world.  The sooner you accept this, the sooner you will have the conversations that come with our new reality!


Here is round up of my favorite hummus recipes, from some of my favorite bloggers! And remember, the only way that I consider hummus to actually be labeled as hummus is if there is chick peas aka garbanzo beans in the recipe. You can learn more about that here.

heavenlyhummuswrap_thepioneerwomanHeavenly Hummus Wrap courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

creamyavocadohummus_joythebakerCreamy Avocado Hummus courtesy of Joy the Baker

Wasabi Hummus_soupspiceeverythingniceWasabi Hummus courtesy of Soup Spice Everything Nice



live_life_3Spring cleaning my closet and rediscovered this gorgeous bracelet, visited the NC Zoo in Asheboro on a 2nd grade field trip, first time rock climbing at Triangle Rock Club, and took a road trip to visit the Greensboro Science Center.

Happy Wednesday! Lots of learning this week, and visiting new places. I love that I am always finding new places and experiences for my family to live and love at the moment!


Pack your bags! I met Leigh Hines a year ago at a networking event for bloggers in Raleigh, N.C. Immediately we clicked. She has a passion for luxury hotels. “The hotel is part of the destination,” says Leigh. Leigh shares with us in this month’s feature: “What’s in my travel tote?”

Leigh carries the Tory Burch ‘Ella’ tote, which comfortably carries her cosmetics, her Ziploc bag with liquids, and a small snack  of almonds. She always has a journal and a pen to jot down ideas. Mints, her iPhone and charger, a scarf, her Skimbaco business cards, and Dramamine (just in case). When she gets to the airport she always buys a big bottle of Smart water and a magazine.



Leigh started her blog, HinesSight Blog, to write parenting tales along with her obsession over luxury hotels.  About a year into writing, she started taking her  “Pack Your Bags” features on the road, and working with hotels on feature stories. That is when she realized that the blog was an opportunity to take her back to her original journalism roots.  Since starting the blog, she  writes a parenting column for Triangle Mom2Mom, online magazine Skimbaco Lifestyle, covering luxury and family travel. She also is a freelance travel writer for 



What are your 5 must have beauty items in your carry on?                                                                                      

I’m really not that high-maintenance when I travel, especially for air-travel. I use Tarte cosmetics, and I would be lost without my primer, foundation, lash primer, mascara, and lipstick. I also need my Tarte bamboo brush to apply my foundation.  That’s six things that are absolutely required.


Favorite destination?                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Asking a travel writer if she has a favorite vacation destination is like asking a mom if she has a favorite child.  It’s just impossible to answer.  But, I’ve always had a love affair with London so I will name that as my favorite destination. I cannot wait to experience Great Britain with my family.


Favorite place in the world for a cocktail, coffee or tea?                                                                                                                                                    

I’m going to go local on this answer because I’m fortunate enough to be able to do it when I want to have a little escape. I think drinks on the terrace at The Umstead Hotel and Spa would be my absolute favorite experience. There is just something about stepping into the hotel that makes me feel as if I have been transported to a peaceful sanctuary.  This type of question is important to me because it’s basically the backbone of all of my travels. I will always remember having tea at the Ritz in Paris, a beer in a biergarten in Munich, or an Irish Toffee Coffee by the fire at the Inn at Biltmore. These type of experiences mean much more to me than spending the day sightseeing. I love to soak up the atmosphere of the places I visit.  I’m also a lazy traveler. One can’t see everything in one visit so don’t tire yourself out trying.


All-time favorite hotel?                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

This question is harder than the destination one, Tina. As a hotel lover, it is extremely difficult to name a favorite because when I check-in to a hotel property, I believe that each property shines in some way. I usually come away from a destination always remembering something special about my stay. For example, the grandeur of the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia is so impressive. I’ll always have fond memories of sitting by the fire pit there with my family on the croquet lawn.  I will never forget my stay at Four Seasons Vancouver either. Dining on room service, while overlooking the city on a cold and rainy night, was priceless. I did, however, name Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, N.C. my absolute best stay for 2013 on the HinesSight Blog. The rooms have so much character, and the bathrooms are just dreamy.


Your favorite in-flight activity?                                                                                                                                                                                                              

I read the airplane magazine, and decide where I want to visit next.


Window or aisle?



Where are you off to next?

I’m very excited about my next adventure. I’m going to the Primland Resort in Meadows of Dan, Virginia with the family.


What is your travel motto?                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

 A hotel is NOT just a place to sleep. It’s a huge part of the vacation experience.


livelove32614Happy Wednesday! This week has been busy…and fun! Definitely some live + love moments for sure.

I discovered Raleigh’s first blow dry bar, played my first singles tennis match of the season…and won (6-3, 6-2 just in case you were wondering), visited a tattoo parlor, and went bowling with the family.

Very diverse, very random…but that is my life!

Love and Peace,


Remember when our girls were little? They would go into in our closet, and put on our heels? We thought it was so adorable.

Flash forward 10 years! Is it still adorable? Most likely, you will say NO!

This week the reality hit that my daughter is really getting older. My daughter is borrowing MY things out of MY closet.

I spotted her wearing one of my white Gap button down shirts.  It is a fitted top on me.  She paired it with a pair of black leggings.  I decided the top looked better on her and gave it to her.

She also started wearing my Stella and Dot “arrow” necklace…and my Moon & Lola NC necklace went missing.  I gave her permission to “borrow” my stuff, but that she has to put them back after she wears it.  Next was my flat iron and a scarf.

Then I had to taker her shopping. Her 12th birthday will be here in a few weeks.  She does not want to shop in Justice anymore.  Gap Kids looks too “kid like” especially since she does not want to end up wearing the same outfit that a seven year old would be wearing.  So she has moved on to places like the junior section in Belk’s, American Eagle, and H&M.  Of course, her fashion choices have now quadrupled.  And, it is more of a headache for me.

Shorts are so short! It is so hard to find a short that is neither slutty nor matronly.  You would think that designers would make a short that is mid-thigh.

Do they not know the finger tip rule?  Girls have to put their arms down and their shorts/skirts must be the length of the tip of the longest finger.  You better believe I make her follow this rule.

And really, cropped tops and bandeaus to be worn with a shirt open.  Nope! Not happening now…and not happening when you are sixteen either.

Take note, that finding dresses and skirts for your tween is much easier! Thankfully Maya is girly, and likes wearing dresses and skirts to school.

Luckily, her foot is smaller than mine, so she has not started wearing my shoes.  Though I am sure that will be next!