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The Ultimate 2020 Summer Playlist (With TSF Commentary)

Back with your favorite TSF commentary. #feelz

5-8 min read

The sun is out! Rather than being at home, you’d rather be doing ________ [fill in the blank].

Trust me, I totally get it. When I was in college, I was still studying through mid-June since classes were held on a quarter system. When the spring and summer months rolled around, I just wanted to go to the beach, relax, and drink passionfruit La Croix. #FlashbackFriday

Once you have a full-time job, you may miss having an entire summer to do everything (or nothing) that you wanted to do. You really need to savor those precious PTO days. But, then again, you’re (hopefully) getting the weekend off. You can choose to take care of your plants, get some ice cream, use your jade roller – whatever R&R means for you. You do you, smarty femme!

Keep in mind that you can still have a great summer. Whether you’re inside or outside the house, being in a good mood (and mindset!) is essential.


To help, here are some summer tunes to get you in that sweet zone, with TSF commentary:

P.S. The Smarty Femme’s 2020 Summer Playlist will be linked below. Follow The Smarty Femme so you don’t miss a post. Click the Follow button on the top right-hand side (desktop) or bottom right-hand side (mobile).

Continue reading “The Ultimate 2020 Summer Playlist (With TSF Commentary)”
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TSF Guide: How to Use a Jade Roller and Get Glowy Skin

A major glow up is in store for you…

5-7 min read

Shoutout to @vnstphnie for suggesting this topic! For future topic requests, DM me via my Instagram @tiffihearts

I’m a skincare junkie, no question about it. While my skincare collection hasn’t reached levels to that of people featured on Hoarders, I do have a lot of skincare products. I enjoy testing out different formulas and I try my best to be diligent about my skincare routine. 

Not only does it feel good when I’m slathering on some yummy-smelling moisturizer (#amirite), but I find it important to be investing in your skin’s future. Take care of your skin now to prevent problems later. You don’t want to look back and wished you should’ve taken better care of your skin five years ago. 

In my recent blog post, I showed an unexpectedly useful item I use – my jade roller. I really like the jade roller since it helps to de-puff my face, increase circulation, and develop glowy skin. I’m not an skincare expert, but these were the things I’ve seen when I use the jade roller frequently.

How to Prep Your Jade Roller for Use:

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Continue reading “TSF Guide: How to Use a Jade Roller and Get Glowy Skin”
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5 At-Home Workouts That Use No Equipment and Need Minimal Space (TSF Tested!)

Time to burn off the bag of chips you ate the entire day!

5-7 min read

Did I really just eat that entire bag of chips? Quarantine life might’ve got you feeling some type of way, especially if the only workouts you’ve been doing are from your fridge and to the couch. If you’re like me, I like to munch on things when I’m bored and being at home makes it so much easier to eat everything within my reach. Chocolate chip cookies, aka my weakness, are only 20 steps away. Yikes!

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It takes a lot of effort to be mindful of what you’re eating and make sure that you stay on your diet and fitness track. If you’re trying to avoid getting the “pooch” around your stomach area, you’ve come to the right place. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve tested out at-home workouts that don’t need a lot of space or equipment.

I live in a high-rise building in the heart of San Francisco and having space is a luxury. My husband and I try our best to limit the things we buy (except for necessary and useful items, of course) to avoid cluttering our space. I personally have found that over time, we tend to accumulate so many things – clothes, shoes, decor, and random gadgets. When I was moving to and from apartments, I really had to de-clutter and let go of many items since there was too. much. stuff!

What helps to keep me motivated is that my friends and I like to work out together via a Zoom call. It’s a lot more fun when you have friends that keep you accountable in working out. We work out together once a week and try out different exercise routines. When you do your next workout, why not bring your friends along for the ride?

Below are my top picks that are becoming my go-to workout routines. I also add in some Vinyasa yoga every once in a while.

Continue reading “5 At-Home Workouts That Use No Equipment and Need Minimal Space (TSF Tested!)”
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3 Things I Did This Weekend and 3 Things I’m Choosing to Focus on This Week

So much to do, so little time

5-7 min read

Weekends are blissful. After working a long work week, it feels so refreshing to be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. You want to take a sip of your homemade iced tea lemonade? You want to binge-watch The Circle?* You want to take care of your thriving house plants? Yes, you can do all that and more on the weekends. Ahhh, amazing.

On the flip side, you can also be productive, if you choose to do so. This weekend, I chose to take care of some things on my to-do list, and I am so happy I did so.

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Below are three things I did this weekend:

1. Cut Up Fruit

Chopped Fruit in the Fridge

When you’re starving and looking in your fridge and pantry for a snack, it feels so easy to reach for unhealthy snacks since they’re so accessible. For healthy snacks, you may need to wash and cut them up before you can eat them. But when you’re absolutely starving, you think, “It’s okay if I eat this unhealthy snack this time. I’ll do better next time.”

Unfortunately, you find yourself saying it a little more often than you like.

To curb those unhealthy habits, it’s a good idea to start forming new ones. On the weekends, I like to chop a lot of fruit and place them in these glass containers (which I received as a bridal shower gift – thank you!). Since I’m already using a couple of glass containers for leftovers, I had to resort to using some plastic containers. But, I typically enjoy using the glass containers since I find that they help fruit last longer.

In the photo above, I cut up pears, apples, grapefruit, oranges, and mangoes. I’m actually taking a bite of the mangoes as we speak. So delicious!

2. Wash bed sheets, bath towels, bathroom rugs, and living room blankets

I had to do several loads of laundry this weekend. I like getting started at laundry first thing in the morning so I can do other stuff while I wait for them to finish.

When my husband and I were trying to find a place in San Francisco together, we made a list of things that we wanted our place to have. Having an in-unit washer and dryer was high on our list, since we really didn’t want to deal with laundromats and wait around for our laundry all day.

Laundry took me the whole day since I was doing other things at the same time. I didn’t feel that it was too much of a chore since whenever I wanted to take a break from doing whatever I was doing, I just did more laundry!

3. Deep Clean My June Oven

The June oven is an amazing tech + cooking device. It’s not just a toaster oven since it does so much more. We use it every day from making toast, roasting vegetables, to cooking and broiling meats. My husband won it from his company’s hackathon and chose the June oven as his prize (Yay!). Given the amount of things that we’ve toasted, cooked, and baked, it was definitely overdue for a deep cleaning.

I created a paste mixing equal parts of baking soda and dish soap. I also covered the oven burners with aluminum oil so the paste wouldn’t get on them. I used a sponge to apply the paste and let the mixture set for about 45 minutes. Afterwards, I used a slightly damp paper towel to clean the paste out. The June oven is looking so much better after the deep clean!


So, those were the three things I did this weekend. Below are three things I’m choosing to focus on this week:

3 Things I’m Choosing to Focus on This Week:

1. My Skincare Routine 

I recently ordered some skincare and hair care items from Sephora. When the package arrived two weeks ago, I organized my skincare products in my drawers, but I haven’t figured out which products to try out first.

I’m going to carve out some time to look through my skincare and haircare items and pick out a few items to play around with this week. I’ve been sticking to my regular skincare routine (and my jade roller is a part of it), but it’s time to add a few new products to the mix. I can’t wait!

2. Deep Clean the Bathtub

This is probably my least favorite out of the three things I’m choosing to focus on this week, but one that I really need to do. When I last cleaned the bathtub, I ended up destroying a sponge since I scrubbed a little too much. This time, I’ll be using a long handle brush to clean it. Hopefully it goes well!

I’m a fan of non-toxic ingredients for cleaning solutions. My go-to solution is a mix of baking soda and vinegar. I find that vinegar is especially helpful when you need to tackle hard-water stains.

The pros to doing this is that I’ll probably take a bath after my work is done. Can’t wait to use some Lush bath bombs!

3. Carpel Tunnel Prevention Exercises

I feel like I’m always on my computer. For work, I’m on it for 10+ hours every weekday. Then, I edit my YouTube videos and write my blog posts on The Smarty Femme. As a former athlete, I find that it is very important to take care of your body, and I realize that I haven’t been doing so these past couple of weeks. I’m choosing to focus on doing some prevention exercises such as these so I can prevent getting carpel tunnel. A little massage doesn’t hurt, either.

Hope these things can help inspire what you’ll be doing this week. You choose what you focus on, so make some good choices. Stay smart, you smarty femme!

*Shubham/Shooby is our fave, btw. Who’s with me?

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YouTube: Easy DIY Face Mask Tutorial

Keeping my promises…

1 min read, 15 min video

As promised in my previous blog post, I made an easy DIY Face Mask Tutorial on my YouTube channel. You can subscribe to my channel here to get notified of my future videos.

I made the face mask from my husband’s old jacket and it took me only 20 minutes to make. Plus, you don’t need a sewing machine.

Hope you find the DIY Face Mask tutorial useful!

Feel free to share it with your friends and family. Stay safe, you smarty femme.

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5 Unexpectedly Useful Things (That’ll Make Your Life Better)

Making your life better, one useful thing at a time

3-5 min read

I’ve collected quite a few things that I think you’ll find useful. Honestly, I purchased some of these items on a whim and was pleasantly surprised at how much I like them. What other unexpectedly useful things do you have?

1. Jade Roller

Jade Roller

Trust me, I was initially skeptical of the jade roller. I thought it was a gimmick, since it seemed like it was a rolling pin for your face. But after I’ve used it for a couple of months, the jade roller has been a consistent part of my skincare routine. 

I like to pop it in the fridge overnight and use it first thing in the morning. Or, I use it as an afternoon pick-me-up. It definitely helps to de-puff my face! I’ll make another blog post to show you how I use it, so stay tuned. To stay in the loop, you can enter your email address on the bottom right-hand side, if you’re on mobile (after you click Close and Accept), or on the top right-hand side (desktop).

2. Wick Trimmer

Wick Trimmer and Candle

I love lighting a candle a couple times a week. Not only do I like the fragrance, but I also appreciate that it zaps up any lingering smells after a major cooking sesh. I love my Volupsa candles, but I have been lighting these candles (in the photo above) that my husband and I made together at a candle-making workshop. It was a fun date activity, where we customized the scents!

I noticed that when I light a candle, the wick can get really wild. It looks like that it can cause a potential fire hazard if anything gets accidentally caught in the flame. I used to cut my wicks with scissors, but it would nick the candle and leave dents. Over time, it was not a pretty sight. By using the wick trimmer, those nicks are minimized. You also don’t have to touch the wick that you just cut, since the wick trimmer catches them (how convenient). If you’re a regular candle user, I really recommend getting it!

3. Easy Grip Jar Opener 

Easy grip jar opener

I’ve had so many jars that I’ve struggled to open (pasta sauce jars, canned jars, and jars that I closed while hot and won’t open when cold). When I lived by myself, I had a jar of peanut butter that I left in the fridge for 3 months since I couldn’t open it! Recently, I’ve discovered that I can make my life so much easier by getting an easy grip jar opener.  

I purchased the easy grip jar opener (shown in the picture above) and my parents have this one. My jar opener can fit different sizes since it’s more of a grip cloth. My parents’ jar opener is sturdier, and fits most, but not all, sizes. It is so much easier to open jars now. I wished I had this years ago!

4. Cable and Cord Case Organizer

organized case of cords and cables

I have way too many cords, cables, memory cards, and USBs. Previously, I had it all organized in a drawer, but I quickly realized that it was still difficult to find certain cables. In the process of trying to find one cable, other cables would get tangled together in the process. 

I bought this cord case organizer from Amazon and it was such a great purchase! It helps save me time and effort to find the cables that I need, when I need it. Every cable and cord has its own spot and there are no more tangled cords. Hooray, no more headaches!

5. Lodge Cast Iron Scraper 

lodge cast iron scraper

I love my cast iron skillet, but cleaning it can be quite challenging. I like using the cast-iron skillet to cook meats and I use it at least once a week, so having the right tools to clean the skillet is a must. I have been using these, where I purchased them at my local Target. I was surprised at how well they work to scrape off all the gunk out. And for $3, they’re a steal.

Hope you enjoy these useful things, you smarty femme! Let me know which of these things you’d like to try.

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The Smarty Femme

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An Open Letter to My Mom on Mother’s Day

To my mom, whom I love dearly

8-10 min read

Below is a special Mother’s Day edition of The Smarty Femme. Enjoy!

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An Open Letter to My Mom on Mother’s Day:

Dear Mom,

Happy Mother’s Day. I’m sorry that I won’t be able to see you in person since we’re quarantining in two separate places. This is the first time we haven’t seen each other for Mother’s Day since I got married, and it makes my heart slightly ache inside. But, we’ve never really celebrated Mother’s Day anyways. To you, every day was Mother’s Day, since you constantly felt the love from those who care and love you, including me. Unlike most people, you didn’t need fancy flowers delivered to the front of your doorstep or a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. I know you’re not a gift person. 

I long for the day where I can give you a hug since it’s been way too long. Times are changing, Mom. When Yeye passed away a few years ago, I realized how short life can be and how things can change so swiftly. We need to cherish our time we have with each other. When I danced with Opa during my wedding, I sobbed, with tears streaming down on my face. I wondered if this was going to be the last time I’d see him before he and Oma left to go back home, oceans away from us.

When I started working in San Francisco, I grappled with whether it was selfish of me to live away from you and Dad, out here in the city. I know that a lot of people tend to move out at the ripe age of 18 for college. But, I had the luxury of attending a university that was close to home, where I could still see you and Dad every day.

Not everyone had that, and while I took it for granted at that time, I can now see its meaningfulness.

San Francisco to San Jose is only a train ride away, but we went from seeing each other every day to seeing each other at most once or twice a week, if I stayed over the weekend. But you reassured me, and said that this was the start of my future, and that this was exactly where I belong. You knew that this was all God’s plan. I know it wasn’t easy to see your only child go somewhere beyond your comfort zone. But I think that God teaches us in mysterious ways. You may feel that you’re never ready, but God knows when you are. You’ve had your fears, and I’ve had mine. 

Thank you for raising me to be a strong, smart, and independent woman who loves God tremendously.

You encouraged me, challenged me, and allowed me to pursue my (many, many) passions. When you knew I didn’t like something, you sought out ways to make it better for me. That meant changing teachers, changing classes, and changing the ways I learned. Some might think that it’s too much and really inconvenient for you, but for you, it was never too much and never inconvenient since you loved me dearly so. 

Thank you for homeschooling me when homeschooling wasn’t a thing 20 years ago. It was quite a foreign topic at that time, wasn’t it? Who thought that an immigrant parent, who had no background in teaching and a former (and I must add, rather famous) jewelry designer would be able to homeschool? I remember when you told me that you faced challenges along the way, but you didn’t let them faze you. From facing microaggressions to doubting eyes from other parents, you chose not to dwell on that. Instead, you chose to bravely seek out resources and materials beyond what was needed. By God’s grace, you ignored the naysayers and was able to push through – and I thank you for doing that.

You’ve taught me to control my emotions and exhibit self-control in every situation, even though it is one of the most difficult things to do. You remind me to not let things get to me, and while sometimes it does, I am still encouraged by you.

You tell me that you have to turn your lemons into lemonade, bravery over fear, and humility over pride.

Most of the time, it’s not easy. But with God, all things are possible. 

As an adult, I look back and see all the things you’ve done for me. Every little things doesn’t go unnoticed. To mothers out there who have young children – one day, they too, will notice all that you’ve done for them. To mothers out there who are struggling – one day, your children will remember all that you’ve done for them.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.

XO,

Your Daughter 

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5 Things I Made This Week (With Pictures)

After I took my exam, obviously

3-5 min read

Today’s Friday. Give yourself a pat on the back because you made it through the week!

Honestly, I almost forgot that I took my exam this past Monday. Do you ever get that feeling when you have a lot of things going on, you forget when you did what? This week felt like one of those weeks for me. But I must say that it was a truly productive and happy week. Yay!

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Below are five things I made this week:

1. DIY Face Mask

I made a DIY face mask using my husband’s old jacket! Not the ones that you use to moisturize your face, but the ones that you use to go to the grocery store these days.

The only materials I used to create the face mask were 1) part of the old jacket, 2) thread, and 3) sewing needle. I don’t have a sewing machine, and it worked totally fine. Using a sewing machine probably could’ve sped up the process, but this little project took me 30 mins tops.

I’ll be releasing a tutorial of how I did this on my YouTube channel. If you’re interested, you can subscribe to my channel here to get notified when my video is released.

2. Martabak Manis (Indonesian sweet pancake dessert)

This is called martabak manis (pronounced mar-tah-BAHK MAHN-niss), a sweet (or savory) Indonesian pancake. It’s basically a glorified pancake, but even that doesn’t do it justice.

My grandparents love this stuff. My parents love this stuff. I love this stuff. My friends love this stuff. My aunt’s twice-removed cousin’s father’s niece love this stuff. This stuff is really, really good. You must try it for yourself, so here’s the recipe I used.

It doesn’t taste exactly like the authentic thing (since it’s usually drippin’ in delicious oils, cheese, peanuts, and lots of chocolate). Still, it’s pretty good.

Usually the filling is made with chocolate, cheese, and peanuts. It may sound like a weird combination, but once you’ve eaten it, you’ll be forever changed and there’s no going back.

3. Bittersweet Dark Chocolate Ice Cream (Homemade)

When I visited Las Vegas a couple years ago, my mom and I always made it a point to visit the Sprinkles location in the Strip. I love their cupcakes, but what we really enjoyed was their dark chocolate ice cream (which I always had in their red velvet cone). Sadly, Sprinkles shuttered down their Vegas location on the Strip and the Sprinkles location closest to us doesn’t sell ice cream, only cupcakes.

So, a smarty femme’s gotta do, what a smarty femme’s gotta do.

I tried to emulate the dark chocolate flavor by following this recipe from the NY Times. I incorporated some tweaks of my own, and it turned out pretty well. It satisfied my chocolate craving, but it still wasn’t quite the same as Sprinkles’ dark chocolate ice cream. Looks like I have go on a trip to LA next year, since this year is definitely out of the picture.

4. Tofu & Garlic Fried Rice (That Actually Tastes Like Fried Rice)

After trying to perfect my fried rice recipe for so long, I am finally getting it right. It just took a lot of research and a couple of creative batches.

The ingredients I used were the things I had in my fridge: rice (I used long-grain brown rice), tofu, half a red onion, eggs, and garlic. But I’m telling you, the secret is in the sauce. I used a mixture of soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and Chinese cooking wine (which I found at my local Asian grocery store).

To me, cooking feels like an art form and is a bit therapeutic for me. Some recipes may call for exact proportions, but cooking may take some trial and error. You have to experiment a little to see how it turns out. The journey is as important as the destination. Really, you only need to invest a little more time to be 100% better. Think about it.

5. Recorded videos for Mother’s Day

I actually recorded multiple videos – one by myself and another with my husband. I won’t spoil the details here, since it’s not Mother’s Day yet. I’ll have an update in a couple of days!

Have a great start to the weekend, you smarty femme! I’ll be doing a special piece this weekend, so stay tuned…

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The Best Time to Start a New Routine

Is it after a big accomplishment?

5-7 mins read

I had an exam at 8 AM yesterday and took the rest of the day off. Last week, I was concerned that my exam was going to be cancelled and that all my studying had to be re-done at a later point. Thankfully, I was able to take it and found out I passed (yay!).

While I was studying for the exam, I created a list of things that I wanted to do once my exam was over. Have you ever felt that when you have so many things to do, you wish there were more hours in the day?

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Below are some things you might have thought of:

“If I have more time, then I’ll do _______ [fill in the blank].” 

Or, “Once this is over, I want to ________.” 

Or, probably the most likely one, “Ugh, I wish I didn’t have to do ______, so I can do ______!” 

I often had these thoughts in college, when opportunity costs were at an all-time high (ha, my econ major in me is coming out!). I was swamped with classes, student orgs, a part-time internship, and figure skating practices where I woke up at 4 AM every Saturday to get to the skating rink 45 minutes away.

I was definitely craving for more time.

But what if we change our way of thinking? Instead of complaining of not having enough time to do certain things, we need to acknowledge that we can’t do them now, since we are focused on doing a different task. We can, however, set aside some things that we can work on later, after we’re done doing whatever that is we’re doing.

Below was my list of things that I wanted (or needed!) to do after I finished taking my exam:

My List of Things to Do on Monday
my list of things to do after my exam

As you can see, I wasn’t able to check off all the items on my list. And that’s totally OK. By having the list, I was able to remember what things I wanted (or needed) to get done and focused on doing them. 

After you’re done accomplishing one big task, continue that momentum by jumping into a new routine.

Also, not all things on my list are necessary adult-ish things (cooking, cleaning, budgeting, etc.). I had plenty of fun things such as doing my nails, having a spa hour, and eating tiramisu (that I was saving until after my exam). Really, anything goes!

Here are a couple of steps to help get you started:

  1. When you are busy, you may think of certain things that you want to do once you’re out of your busy period. Write these things down in your planner while you have these thoughts.
  2. Refer back to your list once your busy period is over, so you can get motivated and focus on the next thing you want to do!

Stay sharp and smart, you smarty femme!

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Things I’ve Been Doing Wrong During Quarantine (That You Might Be Doing Too)

Oopsie daisy, I didn’t mean it!

3-5 mins read

During this quarantine season, I’ve realized that I’ve been doing several things just plain wrong this entire time. Chances are that you’ve been doing them too. We might’ve been doing them unintentionally, since some habits form naturally over time. Not all habits are good, sadly.

We need to acknowledge, understand, and proceed to change our bad habits. Or, do we just need a vacation? Let’s unlock our full potential, us smarty femmes!

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Below are things I’ve been doing wrong during quarantine: 

1. Not Taking Enough Breaks 

It’s so easy to plop down at your desk (mine is a makeshift desk, aka the dining table) and be glued to it for the entire day. With the exception of going to the bathroom and making some food, I find myself staying in one location for most of the day. We really need to make a conscious effort to get away from our desk, although it can be difficult at times.

Here are some things to try out:

  1. Set your water bottle away from your current location so you can get some steps in.
  2. Commit to eating breakfast, lunch and dinner away from your desk. If you eat away from the desk, it can help you be more mindful of what you’re actually eating. Your brain deserves a break too!

2. Not Making Time for Yourself

I admit that I can be a bit of a workaholic. My friends and family jokingly say that I’m a “robot”, given my strict regimen and schedule. I, on the other hand, prefer to use the word disciplined. I like to make a schedule and I try my best to stick to it. Mind over matter, amirite

Jokes aside, I do find myself working more during quarantine season. I’ve had more time and I’ve been doing things I love, but I haven’t found any time to relax. I’ve been juggling work, my YouTube vlogs, The Smarty Femme (Click the Follow button on the top right-hand side (desktop) or bottom right-hand side (mobile) to follow my blog), and studying for my exam scheduled on Monday, which I just found out it’s still happening!

If you haven’t found time to relax, you may need to schedule at least an hour every week to relax and take care of yourself. You can invest in some new skincare products, play a fun board game, or do some relaxing yoga. TSF Tip: Try using essential oils in your yoga practice to awaken your senses! Manage the stress you have to become a better you, you smarty femme.

3. Not Getting Enough Fresh Air

It can be hard to motivate yourself to put on some real clothes, other than your cozy pajamas, and get some fresh air outside. We need to consciously remind ourselves to go outside and get some fresh air, even if that means just stepping out to our backyard or balcony (if we have one).

Getting some sunlight is important, too. It feels so good to have the warmth of the sunlight on your skin! I also find that I’m a lot happier when I get some sun. Is my true Californian self coming out?

4. Not Having a Clean Space

I usually clean our place once a week, but I find that things have been taking a turn for the worse. Dishes pile up, dust starts to collect, and hair seems to always collect on the bathroom floor (ugh). Given that we’re home a lot more than usual, this seems to make sense.

Instead of cleaning once a week, you may find myself needing to clean 2-3 times a week. This means vacuuming, wiping down counters, and mopping the floor more often. They’re probably not your favorite chores in the world, but they’re so essential.

5. Not Eating Enough Healthy Food 

Being at home all the time makes me reach for comfort foods. These include homemade mac and cheese, toast with Nutella, grilled cheese, pita bread, Lucky Charms cereal, Tate’s chocolate chip cookies (which I just bought four of – they’re so good!), and the list goes on. Clearly, I love my carbs and sweets. 

Since we’re now staying at home for likely another month, we may not be getting enough exercise. It makes it even more important to eat healthier foods. While “treats” every once in a while are good for the soul, make sure you fill your plate up with a healthy dose of veggies and protein. Also, check to see if you’re drinking enough water. Try to aim for 8 cups of water a day to stay hydrated! 

Hope these tips can help you release your inner smarty femme. Cheers!

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Other posts from The Smarty Femme:

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How to Study More Effectively (While Working a Full-Time Job!)

Quite the balancing act…

5-7 mins read

Disclaimer: These are all my opinions and thoughts only – not backed by science!

After undergoing four years of heavy test-taking in college, I decided to pursue a finance certification when I started my full-time job. Three years later, I’ve taken an exam every year for the past three years post-college (fun!). Right now, I’m also studying for another exam next week. In light of COVID-19, I’m not certain whether the exam will be postponed, but I’ve been studying rigorously to prepare for it! 

Working full-time and studying for an exam is a balancing act. It’s hard, but very possible. It does, however, take planning and discipline. You definitely want to study as much as you need in order to pass the exam, since you don’t want to take it again!

I’ve developed some good study tips over the past years that will be helpful if you’re working full-time and studying for an exam. These tips can also be used if you’re currently a working student or studying for an admissions test (such as the GMAT or GRE). 

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Below are some tips to study more effectively while working a full-time job:

1. Schedule your time meaningfully

Set yourself up for success by planning your schedule ahead of time. If you know when the exam or test is scheduled, determine what and when you will study. 

For instance: let’s say the exam is a month away. Schedule out (in your calendar or planner) when to study certain topics. Allow yourself time for review and to take practice exams. I like to take practice exams on the last four weekends leading up to the exam, so I have time to review questions I missed.

I also recommend to study topics that have largest weights first, to ensure you’ll capture the most points during the exam. You’ll get more points with the same amount of study time if you plan out your studying this way.

2. Set aside a block of time every day after work to study

I like to study for 1-2 hour blocks of time after work, and I do it after I first work out. I find that this length of time helps me to focus on the test material and I don’t get too tired while doing so. I used to be able to study for a longer time when I was in college (3-4+ hours per day and almost all day on the weekends – crazy, I know!). But after a long day working, it gets more challenging to focus on your studies.

I also discover that I‘m able to remember more if I study every day, instead of skipping days and making up for them by studying longer. Even if you can only study for 30 mins on a couple of days, that’s OK. On some days, I only have time to review my flashcards (see Point #4 below).

3. Study & Summarize Technique

When you read a passage that has some key items, summarize the passage in your own words and write it down in your notes. I find this technique to be very useful to help with my memory retention. Something about summarizing and writing things down does the trick for me.

I also find that saying things out loud can help my brain better remember things. Maybe, you just need a different way to absorb the material. It might feel weird at first, but give this a try! 

4. Use flashcards effectively 

I recommend making flashcards and reviewing them either 1) the first thing you wake up or 2) before you go to sleep. This tip seems to help me with my memory retention. 

For one of the exams I took, I had a stack of flashcards that equaled to 3 inches tall (sad, but not a joke)! When I had too many flashcards to review all of them on the same day, I would break the flashcards out by topic, and reviewed 2 topics per day. Aim to have the two very different topics (or as different as possible) to challenge your memory retention. It took me about 15 mins per day to review my flashcards.

5. Staying focused 

It’s so easy to get distracted while studying. It only takes a text message or notification to get sidetracked from your studies!

Here are some tips to help you stay on track:

  1. Close out all your tabs on your laptop that are not related to your studies
  2. Mute your phone notifications and messages
  3. Take breaks every so often, but not too often. TSF note: Some people like to take breaks every 30 mins, but I prefer to take breaks every 45 mins – 1 hour. I find that I am able to study more effectively during this length of time. When I know how long I have until I can take a break, it gives me more motivation to study since there is an end goal. Give this a try by setting a timer for 45 mins, and really try to study hard with no distractions. You may want to experiment with the amount of time you need before taking a break to avoid mental fatigue!

Hope your studying goes well, you smarty femme! Let me know what tips you like in the comments.

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Quarantine Date Ideas That You’ll Actually Want to Do

Being at home doesn’t have to mean boring dates!

~5-10 min read

If you’re single read this.

Think about how life was before the quarantine. (I know, it’s been a while!) Didn’t you look forward to date nights where you did fun things together with your SO or spouse? After being in quarantine together with my husband for the past month, I realized that it’s time to make our own date nights at home!

If you live with your spouse, you’re now seeing them all the time, 24/7. You probably feel that you spend more time together, but how much of that time is true quality time

If you’re dating, it gets more challenging to spend quality time with each other. You might not be in the same place together, and I’m sure you quickly realize that FaceTime can only do so much. 


TSF TIP:

Take Turns Surprising Each Other with Date Nights

Pick two dates in the month to set aside for date nights. The first date will be a date that you plan, and the second date will be a date that your spouse plans. 

It’s a win-win situation: you can get excited planning a date and you can look forward to the date your spouse or SO is planning! 

When we were dating, my now-husband would send me hints throughout the week before our date, and I would try so hard to guess what the date was going to be. You can also incorporate this by dropping hints throughout the week before a date. A bit of mystery is always fun!


Below are quarantine date ideas that you’ll actually want to do. You can do most of them virtually, too!

1. Have a couples’ spa night 

Approx. length of time: 45 mins – 1.5 hours

Person lying down and relaxing while having cucumbers over her eyes

After a long week, it’s time for some R&R. I recommend lighting a few candles and playing a relaxing playlist (think chill jazz) to set the mood. If you change into plush bathrobes, you’ll feel the “spa vibe” in no time!

Select your favorite face mask to use. I love this mud mask since it really helps detox your skin and this moisturizing mask since it makes your face feel like baby skin. Feel free to take a few photos together to commemorate your date night.

If you’d like, you can give each other massages with massage oil to truly make it a spa experience. You’ll definitely feel super relaxed after this date!

2. Dress up & have an elegant dinner

Approx. length of time: 1.5 – 2 hours 

If you miss going out to restaurants, have an elegant dinner at home. You can either cook your meal yourself (here are a few ideas) or order from a local restaurant (if they are open). Properly set up the dining table with your fancy silverware that you haven’t used since last year.

To create the ambience, feel free to to dress up like you’re going to eat at an actual restaurant. Lose those sweatpants and wear a nice outfit! After the dinner, head over to your living room couch to watch a movie. Props to you if you make your own DIY popcorn. A classic dinner and movie date never disappoints.

3. Recreate popular TikToks

Approx. length of time: 30 mins – 1 hour

Devote an hour or two of your Friday night to recreate popular TikToks and do some TikTok challenges. It may not be something that you’re normally used to do (or, it’s 100% something you’re totally into), but it gets the two of you off the couch!

After you download the app, try searching the following to let your creative juices flow:

  • Flip the Switch Challenge
  • Q&A Couples Challenge
  • You Can Really Dance Challenge
  • The Finger Challenge

4. Eating s’mores inside a cozy makeshift fort

Approx. length of time: 30 mins – 1 hour

holding up smore's over a campfire

This is a childhood classic that never gets old! I used to love doing this when I was younger. I had pretend tea time (cups filled with apple juice) in the fort with my stuffed animals (perks of being an only child).

Grab your large, cozy blanket and throw it over a couple of chairs to make a fort. You can add blankets and pillows to make the space inside the fort more comfortable. You don’t need a campfire to make s’mores – here’s an easy sheet pan s’mores recipe that you can do.

5. Write handwritten notes to each other

Approx. length of time: 20 – 30 mins 

fountain pen over a handwritten letter with purple flowers

If you live together, you can write cute sayings on Post-It notes and hide them throughout the house! I recommend putting them in places that you know the other person will easily find. It’s a sweet gesture that’ll bring a smile on the other person’s face. 

If you don’t live together, you can write handwritten notes to each other and mail them to each other. There’s definitely something special about receiving a handwritten note. It doesn’t take too much time to write a note, but is more meaningful than sending a text. Bonus points if you use cursive! 

When we were dating, my husband and I would send each other postcards while we were traveling, whether for vacation or work. We both enjoyed receiving postcards in the mail. I must admit, some postcards actually came after we arrived back from our trip! 

Hope you can incorporate these ideas for your next quarantine date night! Let me know in the comments which ones you’ll be trying.

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Instant Vacations You Can Take Right Now to Transport Your Mind Somewhere Else

With TSF commentary, of course…

~5-10 min read

I need a vacation. And so do you.

We’ve been sitting in our house for way too long. This morning, I was wondering what other “vacations” I can take from the convenience of my house. The “vacations” I’ve been taking are usually one of these options: me relaxing on my couch, me relaxing in the dining table chair, me relaxing in the lounge chair in the corner of my room, and me relaxing in bed. Needless to say, it’s not much of a vacation.

But, how about we channel our minds to think somewhere far, far away, in a distant land. Imagine your kind of paradise. Where would that be and what would it look like?

Would that be in a cozy beach cottage, steps away from the ocean, or up in the mountains, amongst the pine trees? It could even be the daily vacations, where we step away from our house and work in a cafe. Ah, the wonders of our lives without a pandemic!

Let’s take a look at some photos to transport your mind to an instant vacation, followed by The Smarty Femme commentary.

Below are links to transport yourself in the location of your choice:

The Beach – Sand and Shore

The Mountains – Hiking and Views

Coffee Shop – Coffee and People

The Snow – Ski and Cold Bliss

The City – Exploration and Living

The Beach – Sand & Shore

TSF commentary: Sand between your toes. The sun rays are shining bright, but not too bright to make it unbearable. The gentle roar of the ocean passes by. The cool water hits your toes and a smile forms in your face. You spot a cute hermit crab crawling by and you give it a name. You crack open an ice-cold sparkling water and throw your head back laughing at a joke your friend said. 

The Mountains – Hiking & Views

TSF commentary: You tell yourself, “You’re almost there.” Only a few more steps till you can reach the best views. The oxygen levels in the air feel thinner, but it might be because your legs are on the verge of giving out. You have been on this hike for the past couple of hours, but you’re keeping your mindset over matter. You finally reach the top. The view is jaw-dropping and it takes your breath away. You amazingly forget the pain you’ve just endured for the past few hours. You sit on a nearby rock and take a photo. You wonder whether you should take a selfie but you’re glistening with sweat, so maybe another time.

Coffee Shop – Coffee & People

TSF commentary: The smell of coffee hits your nostrils with delight. People are chatting with their friends, but the calming, soft-rock music drowns out their voices. You grab your steaming latte with oat milk and open your laptop to start “working.” You work for an hour and notice an old friend you haven’t seen since college. You end up talking for hours and get dinner afterwards and fall in love and get married. Just kidding, that only happens in movies. The reality is that you both awkwardly say hi, think about whether to give each other a hug, how are you, how is work, have you seen so-and-so, etc. After the small talk passes, you continue typing away, working on your never-ending project.

The Snow – Ski & Cold Bliss

TSF commentary: Brrrr it’s cold. Your cheeks are frozen and your nose is turning slightly pink. Strangely enough, the rest of your body feels that it’s overheating from the three layers of clothing you’re wearing. The snow around you looks like fresh powder (to make DIY snow, click here), and you can’t wait to make snow angels and drink hot chocolate later. You get off from the ski lift and you take your first push. It’s been a while, but your body somehow remembers exactly what to do. Ahhh, you forget how much you missed it! Another skier whizzes past you. For a moment, you think that you’d want to race him, but you realize that everyone is on different paths in life. You’re full of bliss being in your own lane, forming your own path. You’re doing you, you smarty femme. 

The City – Exploration & Living

TSF commentary: All the cars seem to have Uber or Lyft stickers. People are dressed either in athleisure or in suits, no in-between. They walk twice as fast as you are. You look to your right and the upscale taco joint looks packed. It is happy hour, after all. To your left, you see small, artsy boutiques closing their shops for the day. Quickly entering a tech shop, you study the latest gadget they have – a language translation device that costs $599. The price tag gives you a mild headache. You’re now craving for some ice cream since it’s such a pleasant day outside. You get in line and realize they have the craziest combinations – blood orange apple pie and smoked salmon chocolate chip? You take your first lick of the ice cream and joyfully devour the rest. You can totally see yourself living here in the city. Let’s move here already! 

Have a nice vacation, you smarty femme! Let me know in the comments which vacation above would be your ideal vacation.

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58 Things to Do When You’re Bored (That Doesn’t Involve Watching Netflix 24/7)

Been there, done that. It’s time to get productive!

~10-15 mins read

What do you do when you’re bored?

Growing up as an only child, I’ve learned to keep myself entertained. Whenever I feel bored, I know exactly what I need to do to stop feeling that way. When boredom creeps in, you feel that you don’t have motivation to do anything. But, it’s possible that you just don’t know where to start. Luckily for you, you’re in the right spot, you smarty femme!

Also, we all love to watch our favorite shows, but after binge-watching them for an entire weekend, it’s time to shake things up and be productive.

Below are 58 things to do when you’re bored: 

  1. Make your bed. Your bed is likely the largest piece of furniture in your room. Once you make your bed, the entire room will look instantly neater!
  2. Read a good book. See if your local library offers e-book rentals that you can access online (even if you don’t have a Kindle). Here are the books that I’ve been reading (slowly, but surely): This and This.
  3. Make banana bread. It seems that everyone and their grandmothers are making it. I mean, those bananas you bought a week ago are perfectHere is the recipe I’ve recently used.
  4. Organize and cleanup the applications on your phone and tablet. It’ll open up some free space, plus you won’t need to spend an extra 10 seconds trying to find that one app.
  5. Take a bubble bath with bath bombs or use your own DIY bath soak.
  6. You might want to first clean your tub first before doing #5, if you haven’t done that in a while!
  7. Do an impromptu photoshoot. Put up that tapestry that has been lying around, and place your phone on a makeshift stand (if you don’t have an actual tripod). Snap away, and post on Instagram, obviously.
  8. Take a look at your closet. For any articles of clothing you haven’t worn in a year, it’s time to find them a new place. Separate into three piles: Keep, Donate, Sell. You can also take a look at #20 and #52 for ideas to repurpose your clothes.
  9. Try a new recipe that you’ve been meaning to try. Here is an awesome macaron recipe – my friend Stephanie made them the other day and they turned out so well.
  10. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your makeup. Instead of putting on your everyday makeup look, why not try out something new?
  11. Make a delicious dessert using things you have in your pantry and/or freezer. Frozen blueberries can make desserts come alive in a pinch.
  12. Cut up some fruits and veggies now, so you can eat them later as a snack. It’ll help you avoid munching on unhealthy snacks so you can stay on top of your fitness goals. Healthy body, healthy mind. 
  13. Practice hair braiding. Try searching “Double Dutch Fishtail Braids” online. It looks super gorgeous!
  14. Start a bullet journal. What I love about a bullet journal is that you can use any notebook you have available. See below for one design I loved doing!
  15. That junk drawer of yours that has been left untouched for years? It’s time to finally organize and throw away any unnecessary items.
  16. Clean your makeup brushes. I recommend doing them over the kitchen sink so if you have any crusty brushes, they don’t clog your bathroom sink. I like using a brush cleaning egg and shampoo to clean them. Let them sit out to dry while you do other tasks.
  17. Do your laundry that has been piling up. Also, those towels that you’ve used for the past two weeks? It’s time to put them in the wash, too!
  18. Listen to new music. If you haven’t already, take a look at The Smarty Femme’s Weekend Playlist to Fit Your Mood.
  19. Put into motion a new skincare routine. Now is the time to see what skincare products you’ve hoarded over the last year (trust me, I have some!). Pick three new products to try out this week. Hello, glow-y skin!
  20. UP-cycle your old t-shirts into new t-shirts. For ideas, you can take a look here. You could even tie-dye them! I used to tie-dye my clothes when I was in Girl Scouts, and it was loads of fun. Messy, but fun.
  21. Throw out everything in your pantry that has expired. You might need to reach far back into those shelves, but you’ll finally get some space for new items!
  22. Call your parents. They’ll appreciate it more than you think. 
  23. You’ve always wanted to research about __________ (fill in the blank). Now, you get the chance to do that.
  24. Make a brownie-in-a-mug or a chocolate-chip in a mug. They’ll satisfy your sweet tooth and you only need to use the microwave. Score.
  25. Clean your toaster oven. I know, this isn’t the most fun but absolutely necessary. And yes, this is probably more of a reminder for me.
  26. Throw away food and condiments in your fridge that have expired. Clean out the drawers and shelves, and wipe them down. Your fridge will smell fresh and clean and your future groceries may last longer.
  27. Create your own Spotify playlist and break out into a dance party tonight. No one will judge! 
  28. Coloring for the soul. Find a printable online and whip out those colored pencils you’ve had since elementary school. Light a candle and play some relaxing music while you’re at it.
  29. Find yourself sneezing more than usual? It’s time to take out your Swiffer and start dusting away. Or, use a paper towel with cleaner solution to wipe down counters and shelves. If you don’t have cleaner solution, you can always use vinegar or dish soap diluted with water.
  30. Hang those frames that you’ve wanted to put up for a while. Don’t want to use nails? I purchased these to hang our artwork and picture frames. They are durable and don’t cause any damage to your walls!
  31. Evaluate your shoe collection. Try on old pairs and see whether you want to keep, donate, or sell. 
  32. Replace any old light bulbs that are not working. Make sure to unplug before replacing them!
  33. Make a delicious smoothie. You can attempt to make a copycat recipe of your favorite smoothie. I’ve been trying to make a copycat “You’ve Got Kale” by Native Co. and “Mango a Go-Go” by Jamba Juice. 
  34. FaceTime your friend who lives across the country. Tell him/her to read The Smarty Femme. I heard it’s a great blog.
  35. Figure out what to get your Mom for Mother’s Day. Shipping from certain stores can take longer, so it’s best to do this sooner than later. Also, don’t forget the card!
  36. Sanitize the microwave by using a slightly damp sponge with water and a small amount of dish soap. Please, your microwave has been through a lot
  37. Place pancake mixture in a squeeze bottle to create some cool pancake art. If you don’t have a squeeze bottle, you can place the batter in a ziplock bag and snip off a teeny-bit of the corner. For artistic pancake inspiration, check out this video.
  38. Give yourself a foot massage with calming lavender-scented body lotion. Your feet deserves love, too.
  39. Evaluate the kitchen shelves and take note of the things you use on a regular basis. Re-organize the items to make it easier to grab the things you use most You can also purchase these organizing containers – I have them and they are honestly life-changing.
  40. Do any of your clothes need to be ironed or repaired? It doesn’t have to be such a chore. Play some upbeat music while you’re at it.
  41. Use a face mask. Not the ones you wear to the grocery store, but one of these. Take a picture of you using a face mask and send it to your friends to tell them to use a face mask. Face-mask par-tay!
  42. Get into a productive mindset by reading this post.
  43. Make origami. While origami paper will make your creations absolutely stunning, you can use regular or construction paper.
  44. Put up spring decorations, and remove all of your Christmas/New Year’s decor that you still have up.
  45. Take note of products you use in your bathroom that you’ll soon run out and purchase them online! Your future self will thank you.
  46. Do your daily devotional. Here are some online options: Our Daily Bread and Bible Gateway.
  47. Step inside your room. Close your eyes for a moment. Open your eyes and take an unbiased look around. What things need to be organized and put away? 
  48. Make #47 a reality by doing the things you need to do. Let’s get to it!
  49. Try a new workout that you haven’t done before. Recently, I’ve been doing some boxing workouts which I am loving. Who knew cardio can be this fun?
  50. Do a DIY paint night, if you have the supplies on hand. Or, you can do a DIY fondue night. DIY chocolate night? I mean, anything DIY works.
  51. Notice those dirty dishes piling up for the past week? Time to wash them or use the dishwasher if you have way too many.
  52. Sew together a scrunchie out of your old t-shirts and a hair tie. Here are the instructions. It also has a no-sew option, if you’re not the sewing type!
  53. Check your medicine cabinet and throw away old and expired medications. You can finally place your skincare products in the remaining space. What a relief!
  54. Tap into your childhood and make those friendship bracelets that you’ve always started, but never finished. But you’re an adult now. Once you’re finished with it, mail them off to a friend. Or, you can mail a half-finished bracelet and include instructions on how to finish it. Up to you!
  55. Do some light yoga and stretches to relieve your aching back. You’ll feel 100% better.
  56. Re-focus on your goals. Read this to implement them, because what are goals if you don’t take the steps to accomplish them?
  57. Create a fort. All you need is a couple of blankets, pillows, and a flashlight to tell each other scary stories in the dark.
  58. Take out the trash, recycling, and compost bin. Someone’s gotta do it, right?

Hope this list can inspire you to start doing things and relieve yourself from your boredom. Tap into your inner smarty femme.

Let me know what tips you’ll be doing in the comments below.

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A page out of my bullet journal:

Bullet Journal Design - TV and Movies Page
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How to Turn Lofty Goals and Make Them Into Bite-Sized, Actionable Weekly Plans

Easy peazy in three steps

~5-8 mins read

You might have set some goals for yourself at the beginning of the year. (If you haven’t, it’s not too late. You can find TSF tips here). Now that a few months have passed, it’s time to revisit those goals and see how you’re doing. Keep in mind to not feel discouraged if you feel that you’re not where you want to be. Good things take time. 

If you need to change some goals, that’s OK. If you need to tweak some goals, that’s OK. If you need to remove some goals to make room for new ones, that’s OK. 

These are your goals that will personally shape you – no judgements. No one should judge your goals except for you, because you know what you want and what you deserve. 

STEP 1: Once you have redefined your goals, place your goals in a list format.

Below is my list of goals:

STEP 2: Now, evaluate your progress for each goal.

Step 2A

For each goal, mark your current status: Complete, On Track, Not on Track, or Need to Start.

Step 2B

Analyze why you think your current status is the way that it is. If your goal is “Not on Track” or “Need to Start”, were there any circumstances beyond your control? Or, was there a lack of motivation?

Step 2 might be challenging because you need to be very honest with yourself. Your goals are specific to you and what you desire to achieve or improve in your life. There is no right and wrong answer with how you analyze yourself, but it’s important to evaluate yourself in an unbiased manner.

Think of it this way: If a stranger read your goals and saw your progress up to this point, would he/she agree with your analysis? 

Below is my analysis of my goals. I switched over to spreadsheet format to make it easier to read:

I have some goals that are On Track, and other goals are Not on Track or Need to Start. I have one goal that is complete because I created this blog. Hooray!

STEP 3: Place your goals into bite-sized, actionable weekly plans

It’s finally time for the fun part! Now, think about how you can break your goals down and put them into actionable weekly plans. What are the steps you need to do this week to get you a little bit closer to your goals?

Let’s use an analogy to help think this through.

Think about your favorite baked good. For me, it’ll be brownies. You mix ingredients together based on a recipe. In this case, you are the chef here and you need to make your own directions. The ingredients are right in front of you, which are your goals and your analysis of your goals. Now, think about the steps you need to do to get closer to your end result.

Below are the actionable steps I’ll be taking:

As you can see, I’m making a weekly schedule of things to do. The list is easy to follow and has clear steps. By doing this exercise, you can identify exactly what you need to do in order to get closer to your goals.

…And that’s it! Three easy steps. Easy enough, right?

I hope that this exercise can unlock the potential that is inside of you. Give this post a like, and let me know your goals this week.

Have a great week, you smarty femme!

P.S. Receive new posts on my blog by clicking the Follow button. It’s located on the top right-hand side (desktop) or bottom right-hand side (mobile).

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Celebrating Easter as an Adult

More than just the Easter Bunny…

~3-5 mins read

Long gone are the days of the Easter Bunny, dyeing Easter eggs, and Easter egg scavenger hunts. I mean, you’re a full-on adult now! When I was growing up, I’d wake up on Easter Sunday to chalk-drawn bunny prints in the pavement leading to my house and saying “hello” to the Easter Bunny who delivered my Easter basket! 

But Easter festivities don’t have to end with childhood memories. We can create new memories and traditions that make it meaningful for us and the people in our lives.

We may be in a period of quarantine right now, but let’s have some cheer and celebrate Easter! Below are some ways to celebrate Easter, quarantine-style:

  1. Discover a new Easter recipe. I’ve always looked forward to celebrating Easter together with friends and family. While this year might not be spent with the usual crew, cooking up something you absolutely love can help kindle the Easter spirit.
  2. It’s tempting to be in sweats 24/7 since we’re inside all day. But there comes a time when you just need to change out of them and wear that dress of yours in the closet. Why not make Easter Sunday that day? My go-to Easter outfit is anything floral or pastel, and 100% cozy.
  3. Treat yourself to your favorite Easter candy. My childhood favorites are: Cadbury mini eggs, pastel Hershey’s kisses, and my favorite – the chocolate bunny, of course. If you do get the chocolate bunny, you’ll have to make the difficult decision of which bunny ear to eat off first!
  4. Have you discovered the true meaning of Easter? If you haven’t, then make it your mission to find out how Easter started. Here are a few articles to help you get started: This and This.
  5. If you’ve never attended church before, then you can try it out at the comfort of your own home. Here are several options: Epic Church (multiple services throughout the day), IEC (11 AM PST), and Venture Christian Church (9:30 & 11:15 AM).
  6. Give this post a “like,” and let me know in the comments how you’re celebrating Easter!

Have an amazing Easter Sunday, you smarty femme!

P.S. Receive new posts on my blog by clicking the Follow button. It’s located on the top right-hand side (desktop) or bottom right-hand side (mobile).

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Your Weekend Playlist to Fit Your Mood

Because ain’t nothing like a dance party, amiright?

~5-8 mins read

THE WEEKEND. IS. FINALLY. HERE! Way to go #smartyfemme, you survived another week of work / housework / chores and now you get to enjoy the weekend!

You’re probably thinking about the adventures you’ll have this weekend, aka traveling from your bed to your couch to your kitchen and back to your bed. I’m thinking of channeling my inner chef this weekend to see what I can cook up for Easter lunch. Chef Tiffanié, in the house!

Below are the songs on my playlist designated to fit whatever M O O D you’re in. Enjoy!

HEAVEN by EMILEE

Mood: Good morning, sleepyhead. You’re casually journaling in your pjs, overlooking a window. Likely to be daydreaming your thoughts, hopes, dreams, plans, goals, etc.

BURNING BRIDGES by ELLA VOS

Mood: I’m ready to start being productive! I’m such in a good mood! I’m going to make pancakes for breakfast! No one can stop me! I’m reading The Smarty Femme now!!

EXPRESSING WHAT MATTERS by DISCLOSURE

Mood: Chillin’ on a pool chair, cucumbers over my eyes, and a flower tucked behind my ear. Taking a sip of coconut water straight from a fresh coconut.

TOOTSIE SLIDE by DRAKE

Mood: Let’s make a TikTok so you can show your dance skills to the world!

2 hours later…

Wow, this is harder than it looks.

I LOVE MY FRIENDS by STEVE AOKI

Mood: Checking your phone 836492457 times to see if your friends have responded from the texts you sent this morning. Finally, someone replied back. I LOVE MY FRIENDS.

WORTH SAVING by JESSIE REYEZ

Mood: In the shower, door closed. Steam everywhere. Time to pour your heart out by singing this ballad, complete with coordinating hand and body motions. This is your moment to shine, you smarty femme.

JUICE by LIZZO

Mood: In a Zoom call virtual happy hour, where your friends challenge each other to a dance-off. Werk it!

RELACIÓN by SECH

Mood: Post dinner, SUPER full. You don’t really understand what this song is saying but this is probably what my dog thinks of me when you’re trying to talk to him. Whatever, you still like it!

FLAMING HOT CHEETOS by CLAIRO

Mood: How did it get to 1 AM already? Wiping the tears off your face because somehow you have all these feels. Some of the hot Cheetos crumbs you were eating accidentally rubbed off on your face. Okay, it’s time to call it a night.


Have a terrific weekend!

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Growing in the New Normal

Blooming in uncertainty is difficult, but not impossible

~ 2-4 mins read

I’ve been working from home the past couple of weeks and it’s definitely been different. It feels different. The shelter-in-place order feels like I’m living in a dream and I can’t get out. Inception, anyone?

I didn’t think that we’d be living part of 2020 staying inside, 100% of the time. At the start of every new year, you hope that the year will bring you great things. Maybe you thought that 2020 was going to be the year where you traveled the world, discovered new heights, and pursued your passions. Once the order came around, it seemed that all was lost and our future was grim.

But, does it have to be that way?

While it took some time for me to accept the new normal, I discovered some tips to help ease the transition:

  1. Think positive. You can’t change your situation, but you can change your mindset, attitude, and actions. Think about it.
  2. Know that other people are struggling too. You are not the only one that feel the way that you do. Call up your friend and say “hi.” Maybe they need it more than you think they do.
  3. Pray and have hope. We don’t know when things will get better, but it will. How do I know? I don’t, but I have hope.

Hope this helps, and that you’re staying safe!

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How to Be Productive When You’re Feeling Super Lazy

Because Netflix and chill can’t happen 24/7 😦

~ 3-5 mins read

Maybe today is that day. A day when you wake up feeling that you don’t want to do anything. It was only yesterday you told yourself that you are going to cross out five things off your to-do list tomorrow. Now, those thoughts have come to a screeching halt.

It’s totally OK to have a relaxing day and not do anything productive. But, let’s say you really need to get out of bed and tackle some tasks. You might feel lazy now, but it could be because you haven’t turned on your productive mindset and it needs a little help.

TSF TIP:

Some days, we need to think productive in order to be productive.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Change out of your pajamas and into something that’ll get you in a productive mindset. It can still be soft and 100% cotton, but change into something with the goal of making yourself feel ready to kick-off the day.
  2. Do a quick, 10-minute workout to get your body energized for the day. This doesn’t have to be a full-on HIIT workout with 8 lb weights, unless you want it to be. You could do 10 push-ups, 10 jumping jacks, some stretches, and a couple of deep inhales and exhales. That’s totally fine.
  3. Given the stay-at-home/quarantining circumstances, you’re not seeing anyone with the exception of your daily “coworkers,” aka your pet and significant other (if any; if not, ignore) and the occasional blurry video call from your boss. But, it can possibly help get you in a good mood if you take care of how you look. Comb that hair, brush your teeth, and use that scented body lotion (this is my favorite). Whatever it takes.
  4. Eat something substantial. Three bites of your candy bar from last night doesn’t count. Here are some delicious eats if you want to look at food pictures and drool over them. You can also have one of three options: 1) Oatmeal with cinnamon and fruit, 2) Toast with peanut butter and chia seeds, or 3) Banana and yogurt. Or, you can pick whatever you want to eat. Just make it good and insta-worthy, duh.
  5. Cool, you read through this entire post. Leave the comment: “I got this” and give yourself a pat on the back.

Hope these tips can help jump-start your day. Now, go own it, you smarty femme!

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Hack Your To-Do List and Make It Work for You

Because, not all to-do lists are alike

~5 – 7 mins read

I’ve had my fair share of to-do lists that seemed daunting to complete. Often times, I found myself tempted to give up since I thought, “There’s no way I’ll be able to complete the list, so why even bother doing it?” 

You might have found yourself in a similar situation, and it’s certainly no fun. To-do lists are supposed to help you, so you can actually get things done (duh!). It is so much easier when you know exactly what you need to do and how important the task is to complete today.

Luckily for you, I’ve tried many to-do lists (some of which were created with colorful gel pens) and discovered a list format that works best for me. I’m a big fan of this list format since I feel more motivated to tackle my to-dos. Also, it makes me feel less anxious and overwhelmed knowing what I need to complete next. Hopefully it does the same for you!

Let’s begin!

Step 1

Make three sections, labeling them: 

DO TODAY

TODAY IF POSSIBLE

IF TIME PERMITS

Step 2

It’s time to fill-in these sections with your to-dos. Here is how I classify them:

DO TODAY: This section is for urgent to-dos that you utterly, absolutely, 110%, need to complete today. Today, I needed to do my laundry, make a doc appointment, call my friend Kelsey, go to Trader Joe’s, and drink enough water. All very adult-ish things.

TODAY IF POSSIBLE: This section is for to-dos that can be finished today, although you still have the next couple of days to complete them. In my list, I wrote: clean my bedroom and pack for my trip to Yosemite. I don’t need to do them today. I can, in fact, do them tomorrow. There’s still some wiggle room here.

IF TIME PERMITS: This section is for tasks that are further out in the future, but if you are able to zip through the past two sections, then by all means start tackling this section as well. After all, we’re all here to become more productive.

I have some tasks such as organize my pantry and find a birthday present for my friend Michelle. If I don’t have time today, I can complete these tasks next week. But, let’s see how the day goes and if I’m able to complete my other tasks, then I’ll get these to-dos squared away.

Step 3

You’re ready to start tackling your to-dos. By using the format, you can clearly see what tasks you need to get done. I use this list format both at work and at home, and I find myself getting a LOT more to-dos done. Hooray for productivity!

You can use the list again for the next couple of days, depending on how many tasks you have on it. So, you don’t need to keep re-creating these lists unless you absolutely need to, saving you time to focus on actually doing your tasks.

Below is what I actually did today. I clearly need to drink more water.

Enjoy tackling your to-dos, you smarty femme!

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How to Create Goals for the New Year (Not Resolutions!)

Resolutions aren’t your thing? Don’t worry, neither is mine.

~3 – 5 mins read

Maybe New Year resolutions aren’t your thing, and it definitely isn’t for everyone (it’s definitely NOT my cup of tea!). While I think that resolutions can be a bit vague and it can be hard to hold on to once the months pass by, I think there is a wonderful thing about setting goals for yourself at the start of the year. 

I recently did this with my husband, and it was refreshing to have an open discussion about our goals, and what we wanted to achieve. I reflected on what goals I wish to accomplish this year, and he did the same. After we took the time to reflect on our goals, we sat on our living room couch and shared what each of us wrote. My notes were scribbled on a piece of paper, while his goals were listed on a color-coded spreadsheet, labeled with different buckets. Needless to say, we clearly have different personalities. 

TSF TIP:

Regardless of whether you’re writing these goals alone, with your S.O., or with your best friend, I recommend writing your goals out, whether you prefer writing on a piece of paper or electronically. It helps reinforce the ideas that you have when you see it for a second, or third time, instead of keeping it in your head. 

When my husband and I discussed our goals together, we made it a point to talk about the significance of why we wanted to achieve the goal and how we can go about doing so. For some goals, you don’t need to know how to completely achieve a goal at that exact moment (e.g. learning about a certain subject or learning a new hobby). Maybe you need to do some more research to see whether it would be possible, and maybe you realize later that it’s not worth your time — and this is completely OK. <insert hug here>

After discussing our goals, we gave each other our honest advice, and sought out ways on how we can help the other person out. If you are doing the brainstorming on your own, I recommend sharing them with a trusted friend or mentor, and ask them to give their honest and transparent thoughts. As a result of our sharing and advice-giving session, my husband and I both had a better idea of what are our goals, why we want to achieve them, and how we can try to achieve our goals. 

Most importantly, use this brainstorming sesh as a catalyst to jumpstart into driving these goals in formation. Keep your list handy so you can refer to it from time to time, and make 2020 your year!