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Double Duty: Style that Works as Hard as You Do

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Submitted by annageorgakis on Tue, 12/05/2017 - 15:14

You put so much effort into making the holidays perfect for others; sometimes it's a good idea to look inward.  How you feel and look matters.  You owe it to yourself to look at least as dressed as the turkey.  Here is one reader's suggestion on what to wear, whether you're cooking, moving chairs from the garage or posing for a photo.

It's an all-too familiar setting when you're hosting holiday events at your home… Every family member is either ready to eat or about to arrive, and you’re still running around throwing things in the oven, mashing potatoes, or setting the table, rocking yoga pants and a ponytail.

We often experience a downside to providing for everyone else- we neglect ourselves in the process. I know too well how much our clothing and overall appearance contribute to our confidence and happiness. 

With your comfort in mind, I created a Holiday Style Guide, complete with six outfit ideas, to help you feel self-assured and poised even while cooking and pouring holiday cheer, You are so ready to handle anything the holiday throws your way. 


outfit idea 1, holiday style guide


My first inspiration is this stunning Madewell x No.6 Silk Magical Dress in the color Vintage Rose paired with black tie-back booties. The Madewell dress loosely drapes over the body so you'll be able to run around with ease, and the wedge heel makes the boots comfortable enough to wear all day. Once guests start to arrive, throw on this set of two chokers also by Madewell to quickly dress it up.


outfit two, holiday style guide


I am loving this light pink bell-sleeved Tunic Top by Halogen. Nordstrom describes is perfectly, calling it "unapologetically feminine," to which I would have to agree. I mean, look at that velvet bow tie-back… Pairing it with gray straight leg twill pants keeps it casual (Bonus: they’re stretchy.) Adding a pair of snake print mules and Kate Spade silver studs adds an unexpected touch. 


outfit three, holiday style guide


Okay, hear me out. This spotted J.Crew jumpsuit may be totally out of your comfort zone but trust me, there is not an easier and more comfortable outfit out there. You won't have to worry about finding a cohesive top and bottom; this jumpsuit does it for you. Adding these red pointy-toe pumps and matching tassel earrings makes this outfit a no-brainer.


holiday style guide, outfit 6


This lantern-sleeve top pairs perfectly with washed-black wide leg crop jeans, both from LOFT. The outfit is relatively casual on its own, but can be quickly dressed up with the addition of these light blue ankle strap sandals and a black onyx beaded bracelet. Interestingly enough, the black onyx gemstone has been known to protect against negativity, just in case you encounter the evil eye or the stray, barbed comment from that certain family member over the holidays. 


outfit 5, holiday style guide


For a more effortless look, I bring you these relaxed utility pants. They're perfect for a hectic day. But don't be fooled, they look so chic when paired with a black and white striped wrap top. Add a pair of platform slides and rose gold chevron studs and you'll have an outfit you'll want to wear all day long.


outfit 6, holiday style guide


Lastly, I have these gorgeous weekender jeans paired with this delicate ruffle bell sleeve top. This combination is so understated, yet stunning. Throwing on this silver layered necklace and a pair of block heels easily takes this outfit to the next level. 

Remember, self-care includes loving how you look and feel in your clothes.

The holidays are full of fun and stress, especially when you’re juggling expectations and trying to sprinkle magic for others. Spend some time and money on yourself, and make sure you don’t put yourself last in all the preparations. You deserve the same comfort and joy you bring to others.

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Anna Georgakis

Hipatia Lopez on Life As a Female Inventor and Her Passion for the "Empanada Fork"

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Submitted by Kelly Smith on Wed, 08/23/2017 - 06:03

Hipatia Lopez dared to invent her own solution to an everyday problem and is now apart of the elite group of women that make up less than 20 percent of U.S. patent holders. As an inventor and entrepreneur, Hipatia’s kitchen utensil, the “Empanada Fork” has gotten major recognition, including being one of five winners of the HSN Project American Dreams. She shared with us some of the ups and downs of her journey and how this invention came to be:

Q: Have you always worked/wanted to work as an inventor?

A: I always knew I wanted to be a business owner of some sort one day. Inventing a product happened out of frustration in the kitchen. I did not plan to be an inventor because honestly, I did not know it was possible.    

Q: Can you tell us a little backstory to how the product came to be?  

A: My husband, Henry, is Dominican and is the cook in our family (we have 3 children). I had an idea during the Thanksgiving holiday season while my family and I were preparing the holiday menu in my household. We were making 100 empanadas and naturally I was the “closer” which I did not like because it took forever and my hand started to hurt.  I stopped and thought, “I wonder if there is a utensil I can use to close them?” So I started to do some research and had the idea on my mind 24 hours a day. When I told my family what I wanted to do – they said “Go for it!” so I started to contact lawyers and realized I was on a road to something great.  

This journey, which started off with an idea that seemed crazy to me at first, has helped me grow as an individual and I feel grateful for this opportunity.  I realize now that it is okay to take chances in life. 

Q: What have been some of the biggest challenges/rewards to being an entrepreneur and trying to push your product?

A: The biggest obstacle I faced was learning the whole process of inventing a product to having to manufacture it. Once, I had my products samples – I was turned away over and over again with regard to having stores try it out. This was very difficult for me to understand but I learned to get over it in order to move forward.

Q: The biggest win to date?

A: My biggest win has to be the HSN Project American Dreams Contest which after pitching to judges, I was later selected as a semi-finalist. In the end, I was 1 of the 5 winners to debut my product on HSN network and overall winner for the social media favorite. That experience was super exciting and surreal for me.

Q: Growing up, who were your most important influences? How did they inform who you were as a woman?

A: My mother and father both played a huge role in raising me and making me the strong woman I am today.  I remember the great advice they instilled in me from early age – “Do not let anybody ever tell you that you cannot do something.” You might not get it right the first time but the more you keep at it than it will become a reality. This has helped me so much in life. My parents have always wanted me to keep pushing forward. They would tell me, “You do not need a husband to be successful because that you can do all by yourself.”

Q: Describe the time when you realized women were treated differently than men… how old were you… what was the situation?

A: It was in my first job where I accidentally overheard someone’s salary which was my male co-worker who started the same month as me. I got so upset. I went home and talked to my parents about it. My mom stated, “You need the experience and foot in the door.  As soon as you feel comfortable than you leave and move onto bigger and better things,” so I did that.   

Q: When do you feel your most powerful?

A: Being an entrepreneur has made me even more powerful than I thought I already was. It is a rough journey and it takes a strong person to get through it all. One must brush themselves off and treat each day in life as a new opportunity.  

Q: Do you have a mantra?

A: Si Se Puede! Yes one can!

Q: What do you carry in your purse or bag with you every day?

A: Chap stick, lip gloss and phone. 

Q: What are 3 things left on your bucket list?

A: I want to come out with a smaller and larger size of utensil. I want to invent another product that has been in my head for a while. I want to get my product in a ‘big box store’ one day! 

Q: You can pick one superpower… what would you choose?

A: I would pick healing as my superpower.  

Hipatia Lopez

YOUR CAMPFIRE: Introduce Yourself & Join Us!

Welcome To Your Campfire! Maybe this is your first time on HERdacity… or maybe you’ve logged in a few times before. Either way, this is your space to voice what matters to you and find support from like-minded women.

The HERdacity team would like you to comment in this space and let us know the issues YOU want to talk about. What sorts of topics are empowering to YOU? What do you want to share with other women? What everyday challenges or cultural biases do you face? How do you overcome them?

Simply get started here by telling us a little about yourself in the comment section below. Maybe you’re a teacher from Florida who wants to hear more about switching careers. Or possibly you’re stay at home grandma in Seattle who can’t wait to share some of your wisdom. 

No matter who you are or where you live, if you are ready to find your daring or if you are ready to empower other women to find theirs... you are welcome here!  

Exploration & Outdoors Breaking Down Barriers Parenting Sips & Bites How Do You Dare? Women's Wisdom (Seeking or Giving Advice)

My name is Imeh Esen and I am an entrepreneur and digital marketer. I'd like to contribute to the discussions, grow along and meet like minded women. I think women have so much to offer each other, so much inside of us, and can do so much - if we just believe.

Hi, I just happened across your site and I like it a lot. I'd like to see more conversations among the women on here. We have so much to share and learn from one another. I like the's different from other sites.

And I like what OctoberSky said below, too, about the cultural change. It's important. Thank you!

It would be great if these campfires were lead by topic by experts in their fields... Women we would be able to ask questions to regarding different issues. (I'm Katy from California!) 

Hello Everyone! I'm Larissa-- I'm the Community Engagement Manager at HERdacity. I would really love to hear how everyone wants to use this community. We have big plans and are daring to change the world but we need your help to do it. 

What is holding you back from daring? What topics do you want to talk about? What struggles do you face? 

Thanks! We hope to hear from you! 

Hello! I'm Jenn and I just joined a week or so ago. So far I have loved reading everyones comments and posting on my own. I joined mostly looking for advice on everyday problems and concerns of women and once I take in everyones knowledge maybe I can one day share some knowledge of my own :)

Can't wait to see this community grow! 

Hey everyone, i'm Kelly!

I'm a student at the University of Texas and I just joined the HERdacity team a few weeks ago as a Digital Marketing Intern.

I am super excited about not only becoming a member of the HERdacity community but helping facilitate it. Campfires are such a good way to form community so I would love to hear from y'all about what you want to see in campfires! Whether that means giving specific prompts or tips on how to improve them I would love to get to know y'all and hear your thoughts. 


ODD BUT OURS: Family Food Traditions

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Submitted by Larissa at HERdacity on Wed, 05/17/2017 - 19:55

No matter how beautiful the dining room set up, my family always ends up standing in the kitchen.  No number of perfect placemats, comfy dining room chairs, floral centerpieces, or other gorgeous eye candy will keep us from hovering over the remains of dirty dishes picking at the remains of the meal.  

The culinary delights that families fight over however, can be quite unique.  My family has a rigid holiday menu that can never vary.  You may add, but never subtract a dish, even if there is only one person who eats it.  It includes a fruit salad that is more marshmallow than fruit, 2-3 types of cranberry sauce, both fresh and canned, green peas drowned in cream cheese and a delicious Jello “salad” with fruit and more cream cheese.  These dishes are in addition to the traditional American menu of turkey, ham, potatoes, and green salad.  My father gets an entire casserole dish of date pudding each Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The recipe is a loose set of notes from his mother and the sauce has at  best a 50/50 success rate.   A gelatinous jumble of dates, sugar and thin dough bring tears of joy to his eye—while all the rest of us avoid it.             

I never thought that this menu was unusual until my husband joined my first family holiday and asked about the potato salad—at Christmas. We all cocked our heads and looked at him as he explained that every family celebration must have potato salad—never mind that this was in December in the snow, not a summer picnic.  This was our first foray into melding family traditions—and foods. (Note: I’ve since eaten potato salad at every family gathering of import for the past 17 years.)  

An informal poll of friends uncovered a secret world of family culinary traditions and dubious delights.  A few of the fun highlights of odd family favorites include:

Perhaps inspired by a toddler, one friend eats sandwiches that involve frying leftover slabs of Stovetop stuffing, cramming them on hard rolls drenched in butter to soften then topped with pickles and “lots and lots of ketchup.”   

From southern Louisiana, one of my Cajun colleagues explained that her family has a pig roast for most holidays.  A whole hog is roasted over open coals on a spit in a 24 hour vigil with rotating shifts based on who is still standing after the toasting.  The delicious roast pork however is the least sought after bit—the single pig tail is what everyone wants!

Schmierkase (a fancy name for cottage cheese) served with generous dollops of apple butter delights a friend’s family of four.  It’s the go-to for evening snacks or home in bed sick treat.  I’ll admit this didn’t sound good, but after a helping in the name of research, I’m hooked.   

One that I can’t yet convince myself to try is souse—a mix of “random meat scraps” sealed into a gelatin loaf.  Full of quivering bits of who knows what, souse is devoured by my friend Wendy’s family with gusto.  It’s “best when it’s just the scrapings and odds and ends from the butcher.”

A funny food flavor creates bonds between family and friends.   The community of “I can’t believe you eat that” makes fun, friends and the familiar—no matter how odd it may seem.  

Cady Auckerman is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Advancement and Chief of Staff at Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.   


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Cady Auckerman

Volunteering 101: Common Pitfalls Preventing You From Finding Your Passion

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Submitted by Larissa at HERdacity on Wed, 05/17/2017 - 12:40

We all want to make a difference in the world, no matter how small. Everywhere we turn, there are opportunities to spread love and kindness to those who need it. However, our lives are busy and wanting to get involved and actually getting involved are two very different things. Beyond the challenges of how to use our scarce free time, activism and volunteering can be intimidating! It’s natural to feel like an outsider when trying to join a new group - plus, how do you even know what group to join?

These are all very reasonable barriers to getting involved, but the good news is that they’re pretty easy to overcome. Most groups are delighted to add a new member to their mix and you’ll learn the do's and don'ts quickly. As long as you are passionate, you can make a difference in your neighborhood, your city and the world.

Activism equals passion because of the rewards you receive on so many levels: the camaraderie of the active group, the personal fulfillment of engaging in a challenging task, and the elation of having changed the world by even one small act of kindness. When you find what you’re passionate about, all those barriers melt away.

An activist can be anyone from a non-profit Executive Director to a grandmother who knits blankets for cancer patients. But where do activism and volunteerism start and how can you find your passion? 

Look in the mirror – who is she and what does she love? Gardening? Zilker Botanical Garden needs weeders. Cooking? Mobile Loaves and Fishes needs boiled eggs. Babies? Hand To Hold raises money to assist families of preemies. Identify what you’re passionate about in your daily life and the corresponding group will be your best fit.

Just Say YES! If you’re still trying to find your passion, this is a great strategy! Join everything that comes your way, and then cull once you’ve found your niche.

Schedule volunteer time just as you would a haircut or a tennis match. Set a personal goal for activities within a week or a month, put it on the calendar, and don’t let yourself down.

Activism continues, sometimes for generations, because it brings with it so many rewards. Some of the greatest of these are the new relationships with other world changers. Once you’ve gotten plugged in, it’s only natural to want to bring new friends into the fold.

How do you get more people involved in activism and volunteering? 

Start small. Friends, family, and neighbors are your low-hanging fruit. They already enjoy being with you!

Incorporate fun. Carpool together, attend a weekend retreat sponsored by your charity, or keep it as simple as a cup of tea. The Women’s Symphony League Simònitas sing and hand out little instruments at elementary schools once a month, then go have coffee or lunch after. This tight sisterhood has been a staple of Austin society and philanthropy for over 60 years because they make helping others highly enjoyable.

Share your delight and others will come running. Growing up in small town North Carolina, our back yard was enclosed by a chain-link fence with three gates, and our dog, Prince, would occasionally escape and run rampant through the neighborhood. Instead of chasing him under houses and between clotheslines, we were instructed to go into the back yard and play and laugh and, in my grandmother’s words, have a “BIG time!” The lure of the fun was far more enjoyable than the escape, and Prince would race back to join the joy. This same principle applies to activism. Your backyard can be your literal backyard, but it can also be other places you go regularly, like your children’s schools, the gym or church. A major tool for encouraging new activists is social media and if you post pictures of your activism and check-in to hotspots where you’re doing your good, your circle will want to be a part of the joy.

That’s not to say activism is always going to be non-stop laughs. Sometimes it requires some serious mental and emotional labor, but the reward is well worth it, both personally and for your community.

Don’t let these pitfalls slow your activism: 

Ennui: I’m meh but don’t care enough to tackle something new. There’s nothing like a new project to break you out of a funk.

Life balance: Work vs. family vs. physical health vs. emotional health – my calendar is packed. Incorporating some good works into your life will help you put all of those stressors in perspective and give you something to look forward to.

Ignorance: No idea where I’d start or what I’d like to do. Just do something! Ask a friend what they’re involved in and join up.

Judgmentalism: I don’t like that group. You may not like the first group you join, don’t let that discourage you. There are thousands of opportunities to make a difference.

Celeste Cooke Hubert is a wife, mother and professional fundraiser. A 22-year Austinite, she hails from North Carolina and holds a degree in Communications and Political Science from NC State University. In addition to her board appointments and committee work for local non-profits, she derives great pleasure from dropping by an occasional home-cooked meal to a family in need and watching her husband and children play in the backyard when the dog gets loose.

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Celeste Cooke Hubert

It May be Slop but it’s Our Slop

Have you ever enjoyed a dish your entire life, only to learn that you’re the only person that eats it that way? Much like curly hair and double jointedness, we inherit weird recipes from our family - from the mundane (hot sauce on scrambled eggs) to the exotic (peanut butter and avocado sandwiches).

QUESTION: What’s your favorite unusual dish that emerged unexpectedly from the family pantry?

Sips & Bites

Just recently I was told by a son that I ought to be brining chicken..and then grilling it.  I do have salt, but only a flat griddle on my stove.  Brined some chicken breasts,marinated with whatever smelled good from my herb collection, cooked them, and then sliced them at an angle.  AND then divided them into baggies and put them in freezer.  Fantastic!  So if you are busy during the week, this is a super easy way to get great tasting chicken.  It kinda sorta works too with pork chops but the brining takes hours.

On July 4th, we always have red rice. And my mother makes the best version. There's nothing particularly special about the ingredients--but the recipe has been passed down for three generations, originally brought over from our ancestors who originated from a small island off the coast of Spain. It's a nice way to remind ourselves of where we came from, especially on a day where we celebrate liberty and freedom. 

I love cottage cheese....with capers, sliced strawberries, and pepper.  I know this sounds weird, but capers have become my default special fried eggs, just about anything.  And I have zero recollection of how I even stumbled into them.

I suppose it would be my grandmother's baked tuna casserole with crumbled crackers on top or tuna chili - yes you heard that correctly basically chili sans the beef but with canned tuna!  My grandmother was a homemaking teacher but also grew up in the depression.  She definitely experimented with food and knew how to make her pennies stretch far.  

Definitely my mother's famous 7-layer dip! It's the perfect blend of simple and delicious --- and requires JUST enough effort to be a unique dish to otherwise cookie cutter dinner parties.

When my kids were little (and even when they were grown!) and they were sick, I would make them"softy eggs".  Adding lots of milk or cream to a few scrambled eggs and slowly stirring in a buttered pan until they became the consistency of an egg custard!  It made my heart feel good when I watched them eat this!