An Update: Fall 2016


I fell off the planet for a solid month there. I’m sorry about that – and thank you for those that keep checking back! 

September turned into a transition month for us. I prepared a full blog schedule for the whole month and was really excited to start – then life happened, of course. We hosted my in-laws, had a housewarming party (finally!), completed all of my yearly doctor visits, and started training for our half marathon in December. Overall, a very productive month. Unfortunately, life sprinkled a few ‘scares’ in between. Our pup is limping on one leg (to this day, there is no sign of a broken bone or anything), my husband had a work scare, and I had an event that caused a moment of low morale. All this stress manifested into a giant pimple on my cheek and a beautiful canker sore in my mouth.

Then out of nowhere – like a movie – the weather cooled off and the surrounding mood changed as the month came to a close. I had enough motivation to rearrange my work desk and make these orange creamsicle gummy hearts with the leftover orange juice we had from our housewarming party mimosas. These small changes helped me get back to my normal.

It’s taken a bit to shake off, but I’m finally back!

The biggest change that will affect the direction of the blog is my pending half marathon. We signed up back in May as a way to test our endurance and prepare for our proposed Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu next spring. This training really helped me get out of my comfort zone. I joined ClassPass to try out random classes around the area. I’ve added cycling, crossfit, and more yoga to the mix. In addition, my diet drastically changed and my sleep greatly improved! 

I try to create posts that will help my readers. While it can be cathartic to write out my feelings and the day’s events, I mainly want this blog to be a tool to help others get to where I am today – clear of mind and an overall happy person. Because of this, I will try to add more health centric posts to guide you to findingyour best diet/exercise combo so that it becomes second nature.

Lastly, I will FINALLY post my fall work capsule wardrobe on Monday! Woot! It taken a long time, but in my defense, it is barely fall in Dallas right now.

Sincerely, Tania

How to Travel Light for International Trips

We all romanticize vacation. We romanticize roaming the streets. We romanticize new cities. We romanticize experiences.  The main idea that everyone forgets with travel is traveling

While we all want to be cute in our vacation photos, we also must remember practicality. The reality of vacation is travel. Travel means schlepping your things across all modes of transportation. You want to have a good vacation? Minimize the weight you have to schlep around town – without sacrificing personal style.

Figure out your perfect tourist uniform. Everyone’s style is different – and the area you are visiting is a huge factor. Review your plans and look for a pattern. Sightseeing around town? It’s best to bring your most comfortable and broken in shoes. Lying on the beach most times? Then you can probably get away with flip flops all day, every day. The main idea is to find things to match your activities and bring only those. 

  • Don’t bring heels if you only plan on wearing it for one night out. Most countries find them to be more out of place than wearing simple flats. Consider all activities and plan accordingly. 
  • Consider your most loved pieces. There is a reason you wear the same few tops every week.
  • Pack multiples of the same uniform. Wear the same formula – but different pieces – throughout the duration of the trip so you will be fuss-free. Example formula: fitted tee + bouncy skirt + comfortable sneakers.
This is my usual formula for European trips. Since flights usually take the bulk of the vacation budget, we like to stay longer and explore as much of the country as possible. A medium jacket keeps me warm in the cooler countryside, while flats keep my feet happy during all the sightseeing. For trips that involve a fair amount of aimless roaming, I rely heavily on a hands-free bag. Tip: Confirm that individual items pair well with one another for ease of mixing and matching.

This is my usual formula for European trips. Since flights usually take the bulk of the vacation budget, we like to stay longer and explore as much of the country as possible. A medium jacket keeps me warm in the cooler countryside, while flats keep my feet happy during all the sightseeing. For trips that involve a fair amount of aimless roaming, I rely heavily on a hands-free bag. Tip: Confirm that individual items pair well with one another for ease of mixing and matching.

Leave the hair dryer. Most hotels or AirBNBs have hair dryers on site. If this is a big deal to you, it is worth the time to do extra research and make sure your lodging provides them prior to booking. Not only will this save in cutting extra bulk, it will also save you the hassle of getting plug adapters (or worse, transformers).

Find your minimal makeup routine. While you might be a fan of strip lashes and fun lipstick during the work week, you might reconsider both if you plan to do a beach trip. Likewise for adventures through Asia as the humidity will melt everything. Find a look you can do in a few minutes and makes you feel good.

Get comfortable styling your hair. The hard lesson I’ve learned with my hair is that not all water is created equal. While water is incredibly soft in the US, the water in Europe strips your hair of everything for that squeaky clean feeling. Because of this, my hair is extra frizzy and dry during vacations. Combat this by learning simple hairstyles, like buns and braids, on those off days. Hair ties and bobby pins take up minimal space. 

Always have two pairs of walking shoes. You might be tempted to have one comfortable pair of shoes and one that is more fashion forward – but it is best to have two for you to switch between. In my experience, after so many hours in one shoe, your feet starts forming blisters on the smallest hot spots. To prevent this, I swap between two shoes. I add an extra shoe if the vacation exceeds 5 days. Tip: wear your bulkiest walking shoe to save packing room.

Beach vacations are when most people tend to over pack. We see how little space is needed to carry loose, tiny beach clothes that we tend to pack extra “just in case” items. In reality, all we really need are thin items that will air dry quickly and a general cardigan for the cool island nights.

Beach vacations are when most people tend to over pack. We see how little space is needed to carry loose, tiny beach clothes that we tend to pack extra “just in case” items. In reality, all we really need are thin items that will air dry quickly and a general cardigan for the cool island nights.

Bring thin layering items. When traveling in the colder months, you can generally get away with one medium weight jacket. When bouncing between different climates (like if you are traveling across one entire country), you can generally layer underneath the jacket if needed. I like to add one scarf to block out any ‘holes’ that the jacket does not cover. Additionally, I like to bring thin thermal leggings to wear underneath my regular pants.

Carry a smart personal item. When choosing a personal item, find something that can double as your vacation day pack. Don’t bring a cute weekender only to fulfill your flight needs. Bring a bag that you can comfortably use to carry daily essentials (water bottle, snacks, wallet, etc) during your trip.

Sincerely, Tania

The Most Important Question to Ask for Stress Relief

If you’re anything like me, you have a very difficult time shutting off your brain. Mental clutter is the most difficult thing to rid – but also the most effective in clearing brain space.

Worrying about things that have yet to happen or things that cannot be undone creates unnecessary anxiety and robs you of precious contentment. Have you ever worried about how tomorrow’s work meeting will go? Worried about whether or not the cable guy will arrive on time? Worried about whether or not you will have the time to work out tomorrow?

You know what they all have in common? These are all pending events. Next time you feel this happening, take a moment and ask yourself:

Is there anything I can do right this second?

If there is, it is in your best interest to do it immediately to get this anxiety out of your mind. If there isn’t, put this worry into tomorrow’s thought box.

  • Worried about tomorrow’s work meeting? Review so you can excel your part, and let it go.
  • Worried about whether or not the cable guy will arrive on time? Make your day as flexible as possible, so you can work around his arrival.
  • Worried about whether or not you will have the time to work out tomorrow? Prioritize tomorrow’s list of duties and see where fitness lies.

Everything else is out of your control – so there is no point to worry.

It is a difficult lesson to learn – but very simple to understand. Worrying when you have no control does nothing but punish yourself. Take that worry and tuck it away for the next time you have a chance at changing the outcome. Outside of that, start planning solutions to whatever happens next.

Sincerely, Tania

Throwback Diaries: The Morning of the Wedding

Castellina in Chianti, 2014


The morning is a crisp 40 degrees.

I tiptoe to the bathroom to plug in my curling iron and rinse my face. 

You're getting married today, I think to myself. I stand in front of the sink waiting for panic to set. I have spent countless hours reading marriage and relationship articles in an attempt to prepare for the worst. In everything I have read, it never fails to mention the normalcy of cold feet. Do you have cold feet? I stare at my toes waiting for a reaction. They are cold, but only because it is, again, 40 degrees. A more pressing thought came to my mind, what does it mean when you don't have cold feet?

I look into the bedroom and stare at my sleeping groom. I remember the very first time I laid eyes on him - a confident senior stretching out his hand while introducing himself. I remember feeling anxious because I have never met someone so forward, yet respectful. That same person is going to be my husband in approximately four hours. 

I gently curl my hair, taking careful consideration of every piece that is attached. I have done this hundreds of times but this morning I want everything to look perfect. I slowly apply my makeup while looking at the squirrel outside our window. We did not reserve the fanciest room. We chose a traditional Tuscany farmhouse. Out of all the wedding details, our room gets that factor.

I stare out the window, half excited for the day and half panicking for my bare shoulders. The sky is gray and I start worrying about potential rain. I know it is coming today. May is a very rainy month for Italy. I kept my fingers crossed all night all the while fighting my inner bridezilla that is trying to control the situation. 

How bad can it get? If it rains, we will just be wet. In our elopement ceremony. In a converted castle in Tuscany. Tania, stop. If it rains, you will look like the happiest wet bride rat.

I look online to check predicted rain start times. Right now, it will be clear throughout the ceremony. Somehow I calmed down and Chris slowly woke up. 

"Hi, baby," he greets.


“We’re getting married today.”

“I know!”

I smile and give him a kiss. He starts putting on his suit while I wrap my flowers with leftover tulle and the heirloom pendant his mother gave me.

I start making the bed and rearranging our collective jewelry while waiting for the villa owner and impromptu wedding witness to help button me in. 

Someone knocks on the door. I open it to see both the photographer and villa owner.

“Good morning!” says Rochelle, the photographer.

I leave her to take detail shots while I shoo Chris out of the room. After a few minutes, I shimmy into my gown. This is day five of our conjoined elopement in Italy and I have not held back on enjoying pastas and desserts. Please zip, please zip, please zip, I chant internally.

“Wow. This dress is a perfect fit!” says the villa owner.

I slide into my shoes and clasp my bracelet. I walk to the mirror to apply lipstick and give myself a quick once-over. I look like me. My makeup is the same. My hair is the same. I look like myself in a pretty white dress. Fully elated with the end result, I put on my earrings and veil.

Shit, I don’t have bobby pins. Without realizing, this ‘mistake’ set the tone for the rest of the day. I immediately stopped caring whether or not it rains. I stopped caring whether or not it is cold. I stopped caring whether or not my lipstick stays.

I walk out to the balcony. There are a handful of guests outside waiting for me. Rochelle hid Chris under the balcony near the small tunnel to the other side of the villa. I slowly walk down to meet him.

I turn the corner and we caught eyes.

Sincerely, Tania

Capsule Wardrobe: Everyday Makeup

Part of minimizing wasted time in the day is streamlining your makeup routine. For this capsule, I do not like to focus on the amount of items but rather on the items that makes you comfortable. I find this to be the most personal aspect of capsule creating. For example, because I am asian, I do not have much redness so I can cut color correction from my bag.

The important thing is finding a look that is easy and makes you feel confident.

In my makeup bag:

  1. MUFE foundation
  2. Bobbi Brown concealer
  3. Too Face eyeshadow primer
  4. MAC Mineralize powder
  5. Too Face bronzer
  6. Other blush
  7. Anastacia eyebrow pot
  8. Stila eyeliner
  9. Maybelline mascara
  10. Burt’s Bees lip balm

I start with applying my MUFE foundation with a damp sponge. Some people find this formula to be too thick but I find that only to be the case when my sponge is not damp enough. This bottle will last me a good 3-4 months. Next up, I dab concealer around my dark circles and eyeshadow primer over my eyelids to prevent creases throughout the day. I finish this off with the mineralize powder to help set everything in place. The bronzer is used for my cheekbones to give me some dimension, and the blush is to add a healthy glow. Then I fill in my eyebrows with the cream pot and create a winged eyeliner. Finish it off with mascara and lip balm.

To some people, this is a lot of work - I actually complete this in 6 minutes. To others, this might seem like too little. I guess it just depends on the look you’re going for. This is my everyday makeup. This is the bare minimum that I feel is acceptable in the workplace and cute enough for date night.

Find a routine that works for you and you can complete in 10 minutes and under – and enjoy the uncluttered drawer!

Sincerely, Tania

Three Simple Steps to Getting Rid of Expectation Guilt

Growing up, one of the main things that took up my brain space was guilt. Guilt in not being a good enough daughter, student, believer, friend, etc. I constantly felt like I wasn’t good enough because I didn’t meet (insert person/idea here)’s expectations of me. I spent most of my childhood, high school, and college trying to please everyone that I graduated not knowing anything about myself. That empty feeling gave me a weird out of body experience. I felt like I was going through the motions of life because it’s what society wants – but I had no passion.

By reading constantly and taking the time to ask myself what I want out of life, I managed to figure out the top three key items in helping me get rid of unwarranted guilt. The fact is, you are living your life for you. No one else can live it for you. Why waste precious brain space on guilt when you can use it to create the kind of life you want for yourself?

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. There are so many things at play outside of the beautiful life you see on social media. I do not blame those people for putting their best foot forward because no one wants to air dirty laundry in public – most people don’t, at least. For example, someone can show their talent in keeping a catalog worthy home, while you are a slob trying not to drown in tasks. What you might not realize is that they work part time, hired a maid so they don’t have to live in clutter, or spend their extra time cleaning because of their own OCD.  In the meantime, you are working full time, cook all your meals, and exercise 5 days a week. If the circumstances aren’t even, how can we compare them?

Say No. Many people think that saying yes is the only way to please the other person. This is correct when you are excited and fully commit to your word. What would please others is for you to say no when you don’t really want to do it and leave them enough time to get a backup person. There is nothing worse for your friend (and for you) than you showing up to go through the motions but secretly miserable. We all think we can put up a good front, but misery is very easy to spot.

Do Not Plan Your Life according to Someone Else’s Rules. Not even your parents. Actually – especially your parents. While your parents mean well, they lived through a different timeline. They grew up in a time when getting married is almost a necessity because it is almost unheard of to see an independent woman. They grew up where they are basically taught their worth is to raise children and keep a beautiful home. Obviously, you are in the most progressive timeline yet. You don’t have to get married if you don’t want to. You don’t have to have children if you don’t want to. You can create your own life.

As stated in my title, these steps are simple – but I find that the simplest lessons are the toughest to digest. Oftentimes you think, “Oh, that’s so easy. I can do that later,” and never actually get around to doing it. I’m here to tell you that it’s time. It’s time to sit down and think about each step at length and let go of that clinging guilt.

Take a deep breath and inhale positive thoughts. Exhale everything else out.

Sincerely, Tania

Four Steps to Moving Past Forgiven Emotional Baggage

I attended a meeting a few months ago that mentioned emotional baggage. She spoke about how many people do not realize they carry all this baggage that is hindering their own happiness. While emotional baggage is obvious when it comes to current issues, you forget about the ones that you have forgiven.

This struck me hard because my high school/college best friend and I parted ways last fall.

While I think it was a case of us growing apart and not necessarily anyone’s fault, we left on bad terms. We stayed connected on Facebook because I had hopes for a reconciliation in the future. After so many months of her being unresponsive, I grew more and more resentful – and I did not realize it. Until one day, I looked at her page and noticed that I had inexplicable anxiety. I finally connected it with residual feelings from our past and current situation. I was mourning our old connection; I was angry at how easy it was to drop; and at the same time, I felt relief for the end. While I truly wish her the best, I still felt a sting with how things ended. Finally, I up and decided to delete her off my feed.

While it may seem like a small gesture, I felt tremendous release the very next day. I felt like I closed that chapter out of my life and laid it down to rest.

Identify baggage. Recognize anxiety the moment it hits. At first, it might just be a ‘funny feeling’. After multiple exposure to the culprit – whether it be live, online, or spoken – you will start noticing a pattern.

Accept the baggage. For the longest, I wanted to be that strong one, the one that doesn’t get hung up on stuff like this. As a result, I couldn’t identify my baggage – out of denial. Because of this, accepting my emotional baggage was the toughest step for me. I had to let go of my own ego and admit that I am still bothered by it.

Wallow in the baggage. This sounds counterintuitive, but I think it’s very important to feel this connection before you close the chapter. The takeaway from this step is to be confident in your decision. After I realized the connection, I had even more anxiety. Did I make the right decision? Is there room for reconciliation? Take a few days (or weeks) to finalize your decision. Never decide while you are feeling anything outside of content. Make sure you are perfectly happy with your life so you can complete this step objectively.

Close the chapter. Delete the individual off social media. Delete them from your phone. Delete past texts and whatever form of break up you used. While it may seem small, it is a very necessary step in getting rid of hidden baggage. Like any other break up, it is hard to see someone that you’ve shared a history with move on. Even if it was amicable, you don’t want to be brought to that place of frustration and sadness.

You’d be surprised how much lighter your mind and heart become when you follow these steps.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #10

Finally, my last look of the summer 10x10 corporate wear series. As I look back on everything, I realize that I do not regret any pieces or match-ups. At this point, I know what I like to wear in everyday life and try to incorporate that into my business attire - so I rarely feel uncomfortable in my clothes and fully capable to handle all sorts of problems during the day. 

After spending most of spring and summer in these same pieces, I'm looking to change up a few things for the fall! I can't wait to reveal those soon!

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #9

This look is one of my favorites!

I l-o-v-e a good chambray shirt. It covers up everything you need, gives you structure, and soft to the touch. With the top leaning more toward the billowy, loose style, I try to pair it with something more shapely to define my body - an essential part of corporate attire. You don't want to be so stiff that you're uncomfortable, but also not so loose that you cross that casual line into slob status.

Again, it's important to note that polished hair and clean makeup is essential to tying the look together.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #8

I cannot say enough positive things about this top. This is the most hard working piece in my entire work wardrobe. It is machine washable, wrinkle resistant, and dryer friendly. This top is a dream. Had I known it would be this great, I would’ve bought triples of the same colors (I have another one in cream). 

I want to call attention to my long legs in these photos – mostly because I am a stumpy 5’3.5” with athletic legs that make me look even shorter – but check out these stems. I cheated with close fitting dark crops and nude heels – but it’s amazing how much more confident I get feeling this tall!

Of course, as per usual, I pair it with my work bag + simple makeup :)

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #7

Dallas’s humidity levels reached peak grossness recently. Every time I attempt to take outfit photos outside my camera lens fog up, rendering it useless. I haven’t settled into my new home enough to start researching studio backdrops – but I’m thinking this is now a priority.

In this outfit, we see my most favorite work jacket and a one piece black circle dress. I am slowly turning my entire wardrobe to this type of ultra-minimal, albeit bland, pieces. I really enjoy that the first thing you notice is me – instead of the color of my jacket, the cute print on my blouse, etc. While I believe people should be able to express themselves at work, I also believe that the number one image you should portray (if you have goals of progressing in your career) is maturity. After all, higher ups look for competency before they look at personality.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #6

We’re in the middle of that stifling Dallas humidity right now – the kind where the city is a ghost town outside of lunch hours and early evenings. It’s ridiculous. Surprisingly, this blazer kept me cool. The white bounces light, and the thin fabric keeps it breezy. Long sleeves sound crazy, but it covers you up from the burning sun. I had a tank top underneath for when the weather turns into a baking kind of heat, instead of broiler.

When I first planned on this outfit, I was afraid it might be a bit too casual – what with everything so flimsy and loose. Thankfully, the structured bag and heels improved the outfit as a whole. I think that is key to making casual items corporate friendly – balancing them with structured pieces.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #5

It's been quite a tough couple of weeks. Between a persistent sinus infection and current events, I haven't been feeling up to blogging. But recently I was able to spend an entire weekend at home and finished a lot of my home projects - and I'm back at it again!

I am forever in love with this color combination. Blush pink makes all skin tones more rosey and romantic. When paired with a khaki color, it just makes the whole outfit soothing and calm.

As you can see, my makeup is very simple and natural. I like to find a go-to look for work and make sure I am consistent every day. Bonus: the more you practice, the less time it all takes.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #4

Unsurprisingly, chambray tops are very versatile. Find a darker shade in a thin breezy fabric, and you’ve got a piece that will transcend all seasons and dress codes.

This outfit is especially perfect for summer days because the skirt is breezy enough to give a bit of breathing room, and the top is structured enough to keep it looking “put together”. Add heels and it’s an instant look.

I will be honest that I carry around a pair of flats to wear on the way to the office – or whenever I feel like my feet are swollen from the heat. If you have the same problem, find a pair of flats that are plain and solid so you can match it with half your closet.

Sincerely, Tania

Smart Business Summer 10x10: Look #3

This outfit is the most conservative of them all! 

And also the toughest to photograph.

This summer has been unforgivingly humid and I had to get my husband to play photographer for this outfit - notice the burst of giggles - because I can't be outside in it for too long or the camera fogs up.

I usually save this for important meetings and presentations. The pencil skirt is very stretchy so it does not pose an issue when you're sitting at your desk.

I enjoy monochromatic looks because it gives a very sleek and put-together vibe.

Sincerely, Tania