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Tiffany Rose Smith
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Mother Essentials: Austin-Based Storyteller Tiffany Rose Smith

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

“I’m more intentional about the life I’m building,” says mother of two Tiffany Rose Smith. “And it’s yielded much better results than any hustle culture I’ve subscribed to in the past. As long as I’m finding ways to tell stories, believe in magic, and dream dreams with my favorite people, I’m good.” Beautiful words for the New Year, indeed!

The author and all-around storyteller recently settled in Austin (after jaunts in New York and California and a childhood spent in the South), and currently splits her days between consulting, volunteering at her kids’ school, putting the finishing touches on her first poetry collection, preparing to launch a new venture, and watching the latest cult documentary (or Living Single reruns…more on that below!). “This wildlife may be short, but it’s wide, and I plan to pack in as much living and loving as possible,” says Tiffany. “It helps to have a few of my (and the kids’) favorite things along the way.” And with that, check out her thoughtful list of current Mother Essentials!

Walks With Water + Trees. “Our house was our least favorite choice, but the neighborhood backs up to a 300-acre greenbelt and park with a large creek, so here we are. When I make myself take the time, I can walk along the water while still in a canopy of trees, my absolute favorite thing. It’s the ultimate reset. When I’m with the kids, we pretend to be the cast from Craig of the Creek.”

Breathwork. “I have the word breathe tattooed on my wrist because it helps to have a visual reminder. Returning to my breath has been my best practice for integration and returning to myself. It helps me to remember who I am and what’s true at the moment. The kids and I practice staying in our bodies by taking a moment to breathe. Occasionally I see them remind the other to breathe, and it’s the proudest I feel.”

100 Diverse Voices on Parenthood. “I was so fortunate to be asked to contribute to this groundbreaking parenting book. Parenting books are notoriously lacking in diverse perspectives, and while that’s changing, this book is truly special. It covers everything from living far away from family (I wrote that one!) to navigating sleep patterns to budgeting advice. It’s the village I wish I’d had.” 100 Diverse Voices on Parenthood, $27.99, A Kids Book About.

Clevr Blends Matcha. “I’ve tried every single matcha on the planet, and this is the best. For years I never touched coffee, then I had children and stopped sleeping, so, ya know, coffee. But I prefer my longtime friend, matcha. Plus, it doesn’t give me night sweats. This one is delicious and has all these added benefits, plus I don’t have to zhuzh it. Just add water.” Matcha SuperLatte, $28, Clevr.

Our Place Pan. “This pan is worth all the hype. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and so pretty it’s more like kitchen jewelry. I cook everything in it. I thought I’d have a feeling about receiving kitchen items as gifts, but when I saw the box for this on my last birthday I was giddy. This is who I am now.” Always Pan, $145, Our Place.

Puzzles. “While exiled from Instagram (hacked and locked out for SEVEN months, y’all), I got into puzzles. We had a screen-free vacation and brought puzzles for the kids, and I was the one who fell in love. It’s relaxing but active, and there’s something about putting pieces together to reveal the picture that feels therapeutic. I frame the ones I love the most. I’m so excited to start this next one. As soon as I saw her, I knew she was meant to be art.” Some Refused To Work in the Fields Puzzle by Ronald Jackson, $36, FRTWN.

Siete Cookies. “On recommendation from one of our school admins, I tried these grain-free cookies, and now I keep an emergency bag in my nightstand. For years, my mom would send me Danish wedding cookies in care packages, but with my 40th birthday came a fun new gluten sensitivity, so I’ve been trying to find new faves. These are them.” Siete Mexican Wedding Cookies, $4.99, Target.

Austin Central Library.The Austin Central Library is not your typical library; it’s a whole vibe. Stunning architecture, gorgeous design, and it’s enormous. The kids’ floor is amazing. There’s a very cool gift shop and a cafe that makes the best (gluten-free) peanut butter cookies. They have every book I could ever want and a roof deck with gorgeous views of the Colorado River. It’s one of our family’s favorite Austin spots.”

Tree Fairfax Fanny Pack. “My husband gifted me with this BEAUTIFUL handmade bag right after I finished my 2nd and final year of breastfeeding as a sort of ‘hands-free’ celebration. It’s one of the most gorgeous things I own. The maker, Tricia Hash, is an inspiring woman, mother, and survivor. Something about knowing the love poured into each piece makes it feel magical every time I wear it.” Half-Moon Bag, $140, Tree Fairfax.

Blue Light Glasses. “Why did it take me so long to get blue light glasses? My friend LaToya tried to tell me years ago, but I was skeptical or lazy. Then I finally got this highly affordable pair. I no longer get headaches and eye fatigue like I used to. Now I wear them all the time, even when not on a screen, because they’re fabulous, and I feel like one of Tracee Ellis Ross’ budget-friendly alter egos when I wear them.” Men’s Oversized Tortoise Shell Print Square Blue Light Filtering Glasses, $12, Target.

Happy Masks. “We’re some of the last people in the state of Texas wearing masks. My oldest son likes the security of a mask, while my youngest one agrees because the Happy Masks are cool. It helps when you’re one of very few in a mask if they’re cute, and these are. The boys argue over who gets to wear their favorite designs, so we’ve had to create a whole schedule around it.” Ultra Mask, $27, Happy Masks.

Spearmint Tea. “I’ve always struggled with acne-prone skin, and just as I think things are good, my face betrays me again. A friend suggested spearmint tea for hormone regulation, and my daily cup seems to be doing something. It’s also become a lovely ritual to end my day with a cup of tea, thanking my body—skin included—for holding me down for so long. But that’s all I’ll say because I’m afraid of jinxing its effectiveness.” Traditional Medicinals Organic Spearmint Tea, $4.94, Thrive Market.

UNO Flip. “I’m not much of a card player, but Uno was my jam growing up. Recently we played Uno Flip—an update on the classic—and it was so fun! Just when it looks like the game is going one way, someone will throw down a flip card and shake it all up. We’ve missed a few bedtimes wrapped up in playing.” UNO Flip, $5.99, Target.

Weighted Pillow. “This weighted stuffy was one of Judah’s birthday gifts, and it quickly became a family favorite. He decided to name it Snugglesaurus because of obvious reasons. I think everyone in the family will be getting their own for Christmas so that we stop ‘borrowing’ his.” Weighted Plush Throw Pillow, $20, Target.

Living Single Reruns. “Anyone who knows me knows I love a good ’90s TV rerun, but the ladies of Living Single are like my best friends at this point. I’ve seen the entire series at least ten times, most of the time listening while I do dishes or between books or sometimes while I fall asleep. That cast doesn’t get nearly enough praise for how funny they were. I’m a Kadijah sun, Maxine rising, Sinclair moon. No offense, Regine.” Living Single via Hulu.

We Can Do Hard Things Podcast. “Like many women, I was completely undone by Glennon Doyle’s most recent book, Untamed. So when she announced she was launching a podcast with Abby and Sister (Amanda), I tuned in. The guests are all of my favorite people, from Yaba Blay to Ashley C. Ford to Brene Brown. I listen the moment a new episode drops, and now we’re all best friends. It’s like being with my people for an hour. Even though she recently found out she’s actually an Aries (sorry, G), Glennon feels very much like my Pisces-cusp twin. Podsquad for life.” We Can Do Hard Things.

Aveeno Body Oil. “During a recent visit, my mom left this body oil behind (or I used it and never gave it back, I can’t remember). Y’all. I keep mine in the shower to use while my skin is still damp. It feels so luxe and smells amazing, and I think I love it even more because it’s only $10. Mama loves a good deal.” Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Oil Mist, $12.59, Target.

Black Women Writers at Work. “I may or may not have a delinquent copy of this book that I refuse to return to the library. The good news is they’re finally re-releasing this favorite! I keep it with me at my desk, and anytime I read a few pages, it’s like being in conversation with these incredible women. Such a gift.” Black Women Writers at Work by Claudia Tate, $23.20, Bookshop and Amazon.

The Kids’ Favorite Books. “In a rare break from their absolute favorites, Mo Willems’ Elephant + Piggie books, my oldest son recently read When Stars are Scattered and had such a profound response to it. I suggest it to all my mama friends with older elementary kids. We homeschooled for 18 months during peak Covid times, and books were everything. They’ve remained consistent readers, and it’s the ultimate silver lining.” When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson, $12.08, Bookshop and Amazon.

Little Cocoa Bean Co. “A former client and friend, Tracy Skelly, has created a wonderful purpose-driven company in Little Cocoa Bean Co. Everything is well-made and sturdy without compromising on style. Even though my kids have outgrown most of their products, we still use our insulated tumbler cups and straws daily. They recently opened a toddler cafe—such a cool concept!—near Boston, and I can’t wait to visit next time I’m in the area!” Little Cocoa Bean Co.

For more Mother Essentials, peep our recent features on Heidi Baker of OZMA, Phoebe Sung of Cold Picnic, Sach Paneer founder Jasleen Kaur, Essential Labor author Angela Garbes, The Mamas author Helena Andrews-Dyer, Olivia J founder Shae Jones, author Brynne BarnesTisha Thompson of LYS Beauty, Blueland’s Sarah Paiji Yoo, Heirloom’s Sri Bodanapu, Lady Falcon Coffee Club founder Buffy Maguire, the mama-duo behind Spring & Mulberry chocolate, Dear Bella Creamery co-founder Alice Cherng, designer Becky Hui Chan, author Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, ByHeart co-founder Mia Funt, Backdrop founder Natalie Ebel, Oui The People founder & CEO Karen Young, author-illustrator Grace Lin, the co-founders of ODDOBODY, Happy Family Organics’ CEO Anne Laraway, YA author J.Elle, kid-lit authors Karen Chan and Suzanne Greenlaw, the founders of EADEM, and Minimalista author Shira Gill.

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