It's Time to Spice Up Your Life

Reading time: 4 minutes 32 seconds

This lockdown has got us all feeling restless. Even someone like me who's a serious homebody struggled with the mandatory two-week quarantine when I came back to China. That was some serious stuff. We were not allowed to even step foot outside our own apartment - the unit itself, not the building. Some coworkers who got back before me even had cameras and alarms installed on their doors by the quarantine peepz, and every time they opened the door, even if it's just to take out the trash, an extremely loud and obnoxious alarm would blare, and Siri's evil twin would scream at them to get back inside. I know it's obnoxious because I would hear it, even from several floors away. Luckily, they had stopped this procedure by the time I got back. All they did with me was check the GPS record on my phone. Yes, it was still kind of an invasion of privacy, but after hearing all those horror stories, I didn't mind it one bit.

In the midst of this insanely mundane situation we've all found ourselves in, no matter where you are in the world, if you're feeling like you want to make life more interesting, let's talk about some ways to spice up your life, all from the comfort (I guess) of your home.

Spice Up Your Love Life

Let's start with this because it's probably what popped into your mind when you saw "spice up your life," and I know, I know, who am I to tell you about relationships, considering I've been single for the last six years, right? I'm not trying to tell you what to do because you know your relationship best, but having been single for so long has been enlightening in a way because it's taken the romance out of romance, y'know. It's also been terrifying to read article after article about spikes in divorce rates during the lockdown. China even had to start imposing a one-month cooling period for all divorce applications because they found themselves overwhelmed with the sheer numbers. It's scary because if all it takes to end your marriage is spending time together, that feels like it defeats the purpose of the relationship altogether, so sometimes, spicing up your love life doesn't mean try freaky sex things like the ones Cosmo tells you to try or making elaborate dinners or any of the five million other distractions that you hear about because yes, they're just distractions from the real problem. Spicing up your love life, in my opinion, should be all about communicating with each other about how the relationship is going, to check in with one another (not each other because there's sometimes more than two people involved in relationships ๐Ÿ‘€) to make sure that everyone's still happy. Otherwise, that conversation might have to take a different turn altogether.

Spice Up Your Love for Yourself

This one is easier said than done because everyone knows that they should be doing it. Hell, they probably also know how to do it, but actually doing it is a completely different story. One way that seems to work for me, and I've mentioned this in a different post as well, is to take the spare minutes that you have to take from your day for mindfulness activities. Something as simple as deep breaths to clear your mind, even momentarily, can do wonders. What I mean by the minutes you have to take are minutes from things you have to do like ๐Ÿšฟ and ๐Ÿ’ฉ. If deep breaths in the bathroom aren't for you, you can try reflecting on what good things happened in your day so far and consciously avoid thinking about the bad things. Even on bad days, there are good things hidden in there somewhere; trust me.

Spice Up Your Cooking

Of course, because it's me, I have to talk about spicing up your life, literally. With all this extra time suddenly on our hands, we can actually justify spending a long time in the kitchen. I love to cook, but I don't have time like I used to for meal prepping and experimenting with recipes. Now, that time is back! One ingredient that is a pantry staple for me is spices, all kinds of spices. It's becoming like a collection almost because I love, love, love spices. Even the most basic spices can make basic dishes taste delicious. I went through a phase when I was obsessed with fettucine but didn't feel like Italian flavors, so I just boiled the pasta, drained it, and stir-fried it with chicken breast, spinach, and garlic powder. That's it - no sauce, just the juices from the chicken basically and the garlic powder. I would also sprinkle some chili flakes in at the end.

Thus, if you do want to spice up your love life by preparing an elaborate meal, you can actually make a dish that looks elaborate but actually isn't. Get some porterhouse from somewhere like (Yes, you can still access a butcher during this lockdown ๐Ÿ˜‰). Pour as much olive oil as you think you'll need into a bowl, and sprinkle in a few shakes (I measure by sight, ok!) of coriander, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and of course some salt and pepper, mix them all together, and then rub the mixture over both sides of your steak. Finally, just throw it on the grill! ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿผ

How are you making life bearable during this difficult time?
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How to Find a Meaningful Career Path

Reading time: 4 minutes 7 seconds

In the midst of global crises such as the one we're facing right now, we might feel like we need a bit more meaning in life (cue that Stacie Orrico song). Something that might help is to get more in touch with yourself and figure out what you really want (cue that Spice Girls song ๐Ÿ˜‚). That, I feel, is the first step to addressing the elephants in the rooms of your life, one of which is your career. After all, we spend, on average, a third of our lives working, so why not make it count? Whether you're just starting out in the workforce or you've been ambling along in a career that sucks the life out of you and are ready to make a change, how do you get on the road to a meaningful (for you) career path?

Understand Your Interests and Personality

Since meaningful is such a subjective term, the first thing you can do is to understand the type of work you feel you have a connection to. Sometimes, it isn't so straightforward. When I was in high school, I was planning on becoming an acquisitions editor because I loved finding really great but not as well-known books and then reviewing them (I had a book review blog back in the day). However, when I was in college taking relevant classes, I discovered an interest in digital media, and I even interned with an e-book publisher. Throughout all of this, though, I was working as a tutor and a communication consultant, mostly because they were two of the highest paying jobs on campus. I enjoyed them immensely, but teaching had never been on my radar because, y'know, teaching. When I graduated, my most promising full-time prospect fell through, and I ended up picking up a teaching job that my friend referred me to because why not. Y'all, I fell head over heels in love with teaching, so much so that I applied to a master's program for the very next academic year. The rest is history, guys. ๐Ÿ˜Œ

The reason for that walk down memory lane is to say don't dismiss certain career paths just because you think you're not interested. Try out all opportunities that come your way. You never know what you'll discover about yourself. Besides, you don't want FOMO and all that. Once you find out what path you want to take, it's never too late to pick up the relevant qualifications, like the MA in applied linguistics I ended up doing or something just as unconventional like a master of engineering management. I did my master's one year later than most people, and I'm running three years (and counting) behind most PhD applicants. My GRE scores have even expired. ๐Ÿ˜‚ If anything, pursuing more niche programs than your undergraduate can help get your foot in the door of whatever career path you end up wanting to walk.

Look at Your Values

I hope those anecdotes did a good job of illustrating how, even in relatively short periods of time, we can change our interests and even attitudes. Therefore, it's still essential to check in with yourself every now and then to gauge if you're still doing something that's meaningful to you and aligns with your values. Self-reflection is key. If journaling and meditation aren't your cups of tea like they aren't really mine, just do something easy like mull over your current situation when you're in the shower or when you're mindlessly scrolling through Netflix for something to watch while you eat (you know who you are ๐Ÿ˜‰). Just, whatever you do, don't self-reflect when you're in bed getting ready to sleep. ๐Ÿ˜‚

If and when you discover that you're starting to feel unfulfilled or losing your enthusiasm, perhaps it's time to revisit the previous step of exploring career paths, but if it's not the industry but rather the position, it could be time for progression. In some fields, vertical progression requires new skills or updated and current skills, so you might consider picking up some quick courses from somewhere like LinkedIn Learning or Coursera, which are both recognized by most companies. If anything, it'll keep you up-to-date with regard to those skills. For example, we all know that interpersonal communication skills are super important, even if you're not in something like marketing and PR. Nowadays, a lot of attention in interpersonal communication is paid on how to communicate inclusively. Things like how you use gender pronouns or how you refer to marginalized populations may seem like no-biggie, but they have a world of impact on those concerned. It's no longer just about how to communicate with people effectively but how to communicate with all people effectively.

Now that many of us have found ourselves with some extra time (and a dash of pessimism) on our hands, we kinda owe it to ourselves to make it meaningful and fulfilling, whatever that may mean to us personally.

How did you end up in your career?
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How to Find A Unique Style to Up Your Insta-Game

Reading time: 3 minutes 10 seconds

Imma be honest; I've seriously fallen off the Instagram wagon - straight down, face first, and into a questionable pile of brown. When I first started blogging, I was quick to clamber up the Instagram bandwagon (I'm gonna give myself 50 English-teacher points here for using two wagon-related idioms in two consecutive sentences ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿผ), but I kinda lost steam after a while, especially during the time when I was trying to establish an ~aesthetic~ and a ~personal brand~ for my page. Standardizing the type of shot, the color palette, the overall layout, and even the captions and hashtags proved to be a mammoth task, but I know it's worth it because I even find myself keener to follow pages that are cohesive like that. Along the journey, though, I picked up a few tips and tricks, so today, let's take a look at how you can go about showing your unique style on your Instagram page.

Think About Your Personal Brand

Consider the values that you hold as a person and how you want to express those values to the world. How do those values define you and your style? Are environmental issues at the top of your priority list, so it's important for you to support sustainable clothing brands or showcasing thrift and vintage finds (@fionayaporfavor is one of my favorites)? Are you passionate about championing inclusive fashion for mature folks (I love @iconaccidental) or people with disabilities ( is amazing)? Small details and anecdotes that you don't mind sharing with others are great, be it as small as sharing a picture of a hat you bought on one of your travels or as major as the story behind the cremation ash necklaces in glass that you sell. Not only will these boost your Instagram following, but more importantly, they will help you connect with said followers, all the while advocating for your values.

Use the Power of Color

Color may seem inconsequential, but as someone who was a lecturer in rhetoric, I can tell you that it is anything but. Color theory exists for a reason, right? A consistent choice across your pictures defines your brand and aesthetic. Think blue for travel bloggers who tend to include panoramic shots of the sky and sea to instill a sense of wanderlust in the audience. Many Instagrammers now use custom lightroom presets to make it easier to maintain this consistency, especially if they post a wide variety of pictures. If you're not sure what color palette to use, My Insta Palette is a good place to start. It's a tool that helps you figure out the most used colors on your page, which you can then use in your presets.

Plan Out Your Shots

This is the straw that broke the camel's back for me. I had a plan for my content, but it was hard to stick to because I didn't have the time to produce enough content for such a plan to happen, so days turned into weeks into months into years, and here we are. This, once again, helps solidify the brand that you're presenting to your audience, but more than that, it keeps your page uncluttered, and it makes it easier for followers to find and engage with your other content that they might also enjoy. Some aspects to consider are what types of content you want to include, what pictures work well together, and what spots can use a bit of balancing to make your page look exactly how you want it to. A tool that I've stumbled upon that can help with this is Planoly, which takes the time-consuming aspect out of planning your layout.

Of course, I'm giving all this another shot, now that I'm back posting more regularly on the blog, so fingers crossed! ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ

What advice do you have for establishing an aesthetic for Instagram?
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How to Refresh Your Style for the Summer

Reading time: 2 minutes 13 seconds

In my last post, I talked about summer makeup staples that you can experiment with even though summer is canceled. In this post, let's look at how you can play with your personal style to refresh your look for when you're getting your mask tan line on. ๐Ÿ˜ท

Try New Jewelry

Add some new jewelry to your look! Minimal jewelry is super on-trend right now, and because the whole point of it is to keep it minimalistic, it doesn't take much to adopt. Try something like a fine gold chain with a teeny charm on the end for a necklace, or try a geometric midi ring.

If minimalist is not your speed, go big or go home and go get a new piercing (when the lockdowns are lifted, of course ๐Ÿ˜‰)! This is a great time to support your piercer friends, actually. Since their income has essentially disappeared, many piercers are selling gift cards that you can use when they start piercing again, so go ask your piercer if they're doing something similar! I'm actually considering a titanium septum ring like this one from Urban Body Jewelry.

Get a New Hairstyle

Since the salons are also closed, a new haircut might not be in your immediate future, unless you're brave (or talented) enough to cut your own hair. I've only ever tried cutting my own bangs (first unsuccessfully but then learning from my mistakes and finally nailing it), so I definitely won't be trying something like in this video:

An easier, less scary alternative is just to color your hair! That's super simple to do. It's tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's no trouble at all. I recently did an orange-and-yellow ombrรฉ for the Lunar New Year, but for the summer, I'm thinking of going back to green. I can do like a tutorial on Instagram if y'all are interested; let me know! ๐Ÿ–ค

Change Up Your Wardrobe

I hear people complaining about not being able to go shopping and stuff, but as someone who prefers online shopping, I'm not really that bothered. Sure, retailers are all closed, but their online stores are still open (thank you, essential workers, for keeping us all sane during these trying times ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ). I'm thinking more of a shoe refresh for me, since I'm literally down to four pairs at the moment. Maybe some platforms? Bulky white trainers? Strappy six-inch stilettos? Any of those would be a 360 in style for me. ๐Ÿ˜‚ This lockdown might be the perfect opportunity to do that, though - try out styles that are completely out of left field for you. What would that be? ๐Ÿค”

How will you level up your look this summer?
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Makeup Basics for Your Best Summer

Reading time: 2 minutes 56 seconds

I know many of you are bummed out that summer is most likely canceled this year. Personally, summer is my least favorite season, so it doesn't really bother me. What does bother me, though, is that I might not even be able to go home for summer break if China doesn't open its borders for outbound flights by then. That will suck in a major way, not just because I won't be able to spend time at home but also because the humidity here will kill me, so let's not dwell on the negatives. Even if we're still under lockdown when summer rolls around, we can still play with makeup to pass the time! ๐Ÿ˜„ Here are some makeup basics to experiment with for all your summer FOTD needs.


Tbh, this is the perfect time to experiment with those eyeshadow shades you've always wanted to try. For me, I've been wanting to try green and blue, but I've always been worried about looking too 00s. Sure, the decade's making a comeback, but that's never been my look. My go-to palette lately is the Urban Decay Naked Heat because I have been super in love with that dark, burned, red and orange look, but I have my eye (๐Ÿ˜‰) on the ColourPop Midnight Masquerade and Misunderstood. Since schools are reopening in China, and I go back to face-to-face teaching on Monday, I don't have as much time, but I might take one of these weekends to post an everyday makeup look using Naked Heat.


Mascara is a must-have for a lot of people, especially for me. Even when I'm too lazy to bother with makeup, mascara is a must-have, along with eyebrows. I usually just apply a couple coats of the Missha 4D Mascara. My lashes don't usually respond to mascara. Regardless of what the product advertises, be it length or volume, it does literally nothing to my lashes, but this one works wonders. A couple of swipes adds incredible length and definition to my lashes, and they honestly look like falsies, even more so than the actual Maybelline Falsies Mascara, honestly. ๐Ÿ˜‚ This summer, experiment with color mascara, especially if you're looking to go with a minimalist look. Instead of going all out with eyeshadow, you can try a minimalist graphic look with color mascara and maybe a cat-eye with some color eyeliner. Of course, with the heat and humidity ramping up, waterproof is the way to go. Pro tip: the Garnier Micellar Makeup Remover kicks ass when it comes to removing even the most stubborn of waterproof makeup.


I cringe at the thought of foundation in the summer because once again, the humidity here is killer, but also, my combination skin leans more towards the oily side during the summer, so most days, I skip foundation altogether, or it's breakout galore. With that being said, though, we still need SPF, and I specifically need color correction and redness control, so I tend to opt for CC cream as opposed to foundation, but if foundation's more your speed, try one that's light and airy that won't suffocate your skin in the heat and humidity. When I need more coverage than CC creams can provide, I go with the Rimmel Match Perfection Foundation.

With eyeshadow, mascara, and foundation, you're equipped with all the basics you need to experiment with new looks this summer. When you land on a look you love, and you can't run out into the street to shove it in people's faces, remember that we always have social media. ๐Ÿ˜‰
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