Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Updates and Questions: Where this Blog is Going and How I'm Getting There

So as you've seen I have been changing things around on the blog for the last few months. I am mostly happy with it, the only two things that I'm not quite happy with are 1) The Title and 2) The Theme. 

Every background I seem to choose is either too cutesy or too emo, and Tea and Shopping With Alice was a name I made up in Jr. High, and it doesn't reflect who I am now. Since I started breathing new life into this blog my general goal was to make it look more professional while still maintaining my personality. I feel that everything here does that except the title and background. which are really the only things newcomers notice. I've been brainstorming back and forth, hoping that one thing, either tittle or background, will lead to the other. But nothing has stuck, so weather you're a regular or not please don't mind the constantly changing background, It will end soon, I promise. As for names, I thought about things with my name, but I don't like anything I've come up with, and so I genuinely would love some suggestions. But this is really just a heads up that there will be a change in the not so distant future.

On a similar note I've been thinking a lot about the kind of content I share here on this blog. What I've done in the past, what I've been doing lately and what I'd like to do in the future. My favorite posts I've done lately are my reviews, and my reading updates, which I'll admit I stole from Erin at Just A Girl Kindling (go check her out), my travel/day trip posts, which are few and far between, and my holiday posts.  I've been looking over the things I've done in the past, and what I've thought about them as well.

My post on anxiety was supposed to turn into a series where I talk about mental illness. I thought about doing interviews with friends of mine who are working through mental illness, and I thought about doing a post about my own struggles with MAS (meconium aspiration syndrome) and anxiety. I've held back on posts like this in the past because I know that I can get a "woe is me" mentality when I start thinking about my own situation, and that would not be my intent. I keep going back and forth on it, and would love to see if there's any interest in it.

In the past I've also done Outfit of the Day posts, which I've enjoyed. I've been thinking about doing them again, but I've had doubts. In all honesty I've gained a lot of weight in the past few years, and I'm unhappy with that. I don't have a lot of clothes that are my style that also fit well, and honestly I don't really know what "my style" is anymore. It's changed a lot in the past few years. But as I've gone through my closet a few weekends ago I found some things that I love, that I look good in, and that I feel great in and I'd like to get back into the swing of outfit posts. So they will definitely be making a comeback.

On a similar note I'd like to start doing some posts on fitness. My goal is to just start regularly exercising and eating healthier, and in the past posting on Instagram has kept me motivated and consistent with my dietary goals. I thought maybe doing some lifestyle posts here would be helpful as well. My goal with fitness is and has always been health based. I know that often we can upset ourselves with how others look compared to how we look, and although I am no stranger to that (are any of us really?) I am going into this with the mindset of health being my focus, and not appearance.

Since puberty I've been a bigger girl. Genetics has caused me to put on muscle fast (cursing me to a life in search of wide calve boots), and the wild card of life has made me big chested since I was young. It's not my fault, these are things I need to accept. But that being said I am not good at saying no to sweets, and my genetic health has to be taken into account. I have many family members who have diabetes, and having seen firsthand what it can do to someone I do not want to go down that path myself. I think blogging about my health goals could keep me in check. I'd be keeping updates here on workouts I've been getting into and homemade meal prep I've been doing (no carb, but still delicious). This would include recipes, and storage tips (my sister found these great lunch boxes and she does all her meal prep with them). I love doing yoga, but since I've been saving for a car I haven't been going to classes lately, however my mom has a couple of workout DVDs around the house that I've been meaning to try out. I also love to go on walks and hikes, and just need to get myself on a schedule of going regularly, and making my health a priority. My plan is to use my blog to document how these things go.

However, my main goal for the year is to start minimizing and scheduling. I have to admit I've become a little obsessed with the journal and planner people on Instagram and YouTube, and it's really helped me to start scheduling the above plans I have. I've been journaling since Jr. High, but I am not good at planning (the main reason that new Years Resolutions have never been successful for me). I tend to be someone who gets a wild idea and then tries to juggle too much at once. That's why I've made this post, it's a way for me to say, "Okay these are my goals in bullets, or paragraphs, let's pick one and start working on it." So ti complete this goal I'll be posting updates here on the blog on how my other goals are going, I'll be scheduling hikes, and blog posts and reading goals as I work through these goals, and I'll be documenting it all here. From what I see resolutions and goals are all about making new and positive habits that replace the old negative ones. Maybe I'll only be able to make one or two of these goals a habit this year, but I'll be able to look back and maybe pick up another one or two for next year. Changing your lifestyle is a lot of work, and a long road (for lack of a better metaphor) but I've been needing some change, and so here goes.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Reading Update 1/9/18

The first week of January is over and I have been reading like crazy! Well, I've been listening like crazy. Ever since I discovered Audiobooksync I have been listening to a lot of audio books. I talked about them in my 2017 Reading Post, but they are a website that gives out two audiobooks a week for 16 weeks in the summer, which is pretty freaking awesome if you ask me (#NotSpon).
Last year I started listening to a lot of audiobooks, because I could read while at work, and while travelling in the summer without bringing a load of books with me. Now it's become a bit of a habit.

On the fourth I finished Freakling by Lana Krumwiede, and I really liked it. It tells the story of Taemon, a teenage boy living in a future version of our world where people have developed Psi, the ability to manipulate objects with one's mind. After an accident Taemon's Psi goes away, forcing him to leave to a colony of non-Psi users, called The Dud Farm, where he learns about the dark side of this Utopian society. There are two more books in the series, and I'm thinking about getting them because of how weird and good the first book was, but it does work as a stand alone book. I rated it three stars because the world building was a little choppy but the overall story was really good.

Yesterday I finished In Our Backyard by Nita Bells. This book was really hard to listen to, but I feel like it's an important one to read.
In Our Backyard recounts the true stories of trafficking survivors who struggled for their lives during these traumatic experiences. Nita Bells works with trafficking survivors to work through the trauma, and rehabilitate them with jobs and a support system. The book goes into detail on the different types of trafficking and slavery that goes on here in America, how to spot it, get help for survivors, and prevent it from happening in the future. It is brutally honest in it's description of this secret world of traffickers, but for good cause. This is something that should be talked about more often. I personally didn't know how prevalent it is in the United States, and was shocked by finding out. This book also informs you about the various programs available for survivors, and how you can support them in their fight to end human trafficking. I highly recommend this book.

I am currently half way through 6th Grade Supernatural by J. B. Cantwell and I will post a review of that when I've finished. Let me know what your current reads are. It's starting to get rainy here, which always makes me want to hunker down with some books and coffee, and enjoy being cozy, so I might be readathoning this next weekend. Which just sounds wonderful!


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 In Books

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and that you are enjoying the new year so far! I thought it would be fun to look back on what I read in 2017, what I liked, what I didn't like, and how my goal went. And if you like this maybe I'll do it again next year!

At the beginning of the year I set a Goodreads goal of 10 books, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, I'm a bit of a slow reader, or at least slower than I'd like to be, so I thought 10 books would give me roughly 4 1/2 weeks to finish each book. Last spring with me starting school, I didn't have a lot of time to devote to reading for fun, and so I made little progress.

I did finish All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher which I loved. I know it's silly to admit it. It seems like everyone who runs a YouTube channel is coning out with books, but I really enjoy her blog so I thought I'd pick up her book, and I' glad I did. This is one of those books that I wish I had read when I was in high school. My senior year I dealt with a lot of senseless drama with some friends, and it really hurt  our relationships with each other. It hurt a lot when I was going through that, and if I had this book it would have been the kick in the pants I needed. Reading it as an adult was a great way to both make fun of the awkward people we all are in high school and feel a sense of solidarity that it wasn't just me. This book has been described as a big sister who's already been through the teen-age giving advice to her younger sister as she is about to head into it, and honestly it is! This book is filled with wonderful stories of a girl growing up in an extraordinary way with truly ordinary teenage struggles. It's like a hug in book form!

After that I picked up a bunch of different things, mostly audio books through Audiobooksync. A website that gives out two free books, every week for 16 weeks in the summer. I got a lot of audio books this year, and last, through this website, and I loved having something I could put on this summer while traveling, and back home while at work, it really helped to get me on track with my goal. One thing I liked about this website is that half of the books were young adult, mostly fiction, but they were always paired with a similar book that was either non fiction or a classic, always with a similar theme or topic. For example, The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagitch was paired with the Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde the first week, and it was cool to see these different horror stories play out back to back, and pick out the similarities in this genre. All of the audio books I listened to this year were from this website and I loved the variety in these stories. I would definitely recommend The Dead House, Bone Gap, The Red Umbrella, and Boy. They were all really good stories, and excellent on audio, though I did pick up The Dead House in paperback and I recommend reading it with both simultaneously to get the most out of that story.

I got a few of the reviews I needed to get done for a while out of the way this year with Carson Crosses Canada, When Santa Was a Baby and Hack and Whack. But I haven't finished 6th Grade Supernatural or The Fire by Night yet, and I will have those reviews out as soon as I do. Weirdly the majority of the books I got from LibraryThing were children's books this year. Partially because they seemed to be some of the more interesting titles offered this year, and partially because they are short and easy to review. I reviewed all of these books on LibraryThing, Amazon, and Goodreads, but I did post here about When Santa Was A Baby, and I'll be reviewing more books on the blog this year.

Currently I am reading 6th Grade Supernatural by J.B. Cantwell (47% complete), and The Fire by Night by Teresa Messineo (25% complete), both of which I will review here on the blog as soon as I've finished them.

And that was my year in books! Let me know how your 2017 reading goal went in the comments, and I'll talk to you soon!


Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year New Blog!

If you haven't noticed, I have been putting some new life into this sad little blog over the last few months. Not consistently, but gradually trying to make things better, more professional, and something that is more than just a reminder of the little weirdo that I was in junior high (don't worry, I'm sure you were a little weirdo then too). So I've been thinking about what kinds of things I wanted to start featuring here, as well as what things I think haven't worked. I'd like to get to having consistent weekly posts, if not twice a week. Among those I have a few ideas, but I'd like your opinion. What do you, reader, want to see? Here are some ideas I've come up with. Let me know which ones sound most interesting to you and which ones you're not too thrilled about.

  • Bringing Back Outfit of the Day - or What I Wear in a Week posts
  • Reading Updates - Cataloging what I'm reading, how I'm feeling about them pre review
  • Baking Projects - Recipe, and photos, may include dinners, deserts/desert decorating, or snacks. 
  • Fitness Updates - I am really trying to focus on fitness, despite my love for baking, and then having nowhere to bring said baked goods. My goal is to just get into shape, and start feeling healthier.
  • Movie and Book Reviews/Recommendations - I watch a lot of TV, and sometimes I read. I'll let you know what things stand out and what you should check out (movies/TV will be mostly Netflix based)
  • Writing Progress and Snippets - I've been getting back into writing, I really want to start focusing on short stories, so that I feel a bit of accomplishment, as I work on my novel. I'll post short stories, and ask for feedback, and reviews.
Those are just some brainstorming ideas that I think sound fun. I may also incorporate vacations and other such things as well. I haven't talked about it yet but for the last two summers I have been working with this camp for 10 weeks in the summer and I could do some snaps of  what that looks like. I also kind of want to start incorporating maybe some video footage to accompany my blog. I went out to Arizona for my cousin's wedding, and we went to the Living Desert and I got some fun footage and pictures that I will soon cut together in a little montage.

Let me know what you think! I'm excited for this new year, and the new things to come. Let's make it a good year!


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Getting Into The Spirit!

*Warning I talk about my experience at a blood drive in paragraph 5*

Whew! It has been a long first week of December. I volunteer with my church teaching preschoolers, and Sunday was a bit of a crazy one. As any teacher or parent knows there are some days where little ones are just not going to focus. I had one of those days yesterday. The morning started off well, they all seemed to be playing fine during check in, until two boys started fighting over a car ('they're four' I remind myself) so we have some talks and get some new toys out to share, and it seems fine, it even gets nice and quiet for a while, some kids are coloring, others are playing, they clean up very well when it's time to start the bible story, I get them into a circle, and then oh my goodness it's time for 20 Questions.

Child 1: "What are we doing?"
Me: "It's time for our bible story. We're going to talk about Christmas."
Child 2: "I like Christmas! I've got my list done! Do you want to hear it?"
Me: "yes, but after the story."
Children 4, 5, & 6: "I want to tell you my Christmas list too!" *Simultaneously start talking about the things they want, oblivious to each other*.
Me: "That's great, but let's get back to the story."
Children 4, 5, & 6: *Unfazed* And a Power Ranger, and Paw Patrol..." 

And it went on no matter how many times I did an attention grabber ("1 2 3 eyes on me", "put a bubble in your mouth", etc.). Finally they all felt that they had satisfactorily told me their entire Christmas lists, and we start the lesson a few minutes late, and just when we're about half way through, and they're actually paying attention: It's song time!

Our preschoolers are learning a Christmas song to sing at our Christmas Eve service, it's really a cute song, they've been practicing for a few weeks now and they're actually getting pretty good, but with the added craziness of the morning I was praying that our song leader would be a little bit late, if only a minute or two, and unfortunately she was not. But it ended up fine, our story ran a little bit late, and then they practiced their song, and it was time for coloring. And of course, they all calmly go and sit down to color, and play with toys, until parents pick them up. As if nothing that morning happened. In hindsight it was hilarious but I was both baffled and irritated at the time because the first half of the morning felt like an entire day in itself. But I guess that's the thing about kids, especially at this age, that I have to remember: their attention spans are incredibly short, and they learn in their own way. I talked with each one as they were being picked up about their morning, and they all seemed to remember the lesson and the song as if they had all been taking notes!
South Hills Corona

After the service our church was hosting a Blood Drive to replenish hospitals in the Las Vegas area. After the attack in October, hospitals in the area have been low on blood supply, and so we wanted to help out. It was the first time I had participated in a blood drive and the first time I had a needle in me since infancy. I'm not one of those people who get really freaked out by medical stuff, or needles, but because I had never had an experience like it before (my family chooses not to vaccinate, and I've never had an injury where I've needed to go to the hospital) I was a little on edge. I'll spare you the details but I'm glad I did it. Another fear conquered, and one I didn't know I had. And hey if I ever finish that book about vampires, well then it's research.

After that I felt braver. It was something I had never done before and now I know I can do it. We went home and then out to pick up some Christmas trees. We went to Greenspot Farms up in Mentone to get a Christmas tree. It was somewhere we had never been before and so we thought we'd check it out. It was a really cute place, that I would love to explore again. I was feeling really tired, as was to be expected, so I didn't get to explore as much as I normally like, so I didn't get a lot of pictures, but I'd love to go back and explore more thoroughly some other time. All of the buildings were these cute log cabins, and it was all decorated for the season! The farm does hayrides, they have a pumpkin patch, they have trees and wreaths, and a cute general store where they sell honey, maple syrup, decorations, and a bunch of other seasonal things. My siblings enjoyed seeing all the animals in the petting zoo they have, and just exploring the property. It was a really cute place to go, and I had no idea it even existed!
Greenspot Farms

Tuesday was a really weird day at Remnant, the youth group I volunteer at with my church, we had about two or three Jr. High girls at our bible study, where we normally have about nine or ten. It was to be expected what with the holiday season, and finals, but it was still a good night, we've been going through a series on the kinds of storms we have in our lives, and what we can do to fight through them and grow from them. It's been a great series and last Tuesday got really good! It's been a really great opportunity to get to work with these girls and hopefully be the person in their lives that I wish I had at that age. I have some amazing girls there, and some equally amazing co-leaders.

And that's basically been my week! Last night we had a Christmas Party for all of the volunteers at South Hills Corona, and we got to look at how far our church has grown in the year, and have a bit of fun as well. There was food, and games, and a white elephant gift exchange and it ended up being a really fun night. Unfortunately I left my phone at home all day and so I have no photos.

This weekend I need to do some TLC on my bedroom and bathroom, and bathroom, as well as some Christmas present work (I've barely started!), before the month gets too crazy! I've got Ikea on Sunday, Remnant on Tuesday, St. Lucia Day is next Wednesday, my sister Grace is having a Ugly Sweater party the 20th, and somewhere in the midst of all of that I have to figure out what I'm doing for people for Christmas presents because I have got to buy a car before next summer, and so I am trying to be more responsible with my spending.

Whew that was a long one! As promised I will have a few reviews coming up as soon as I finish reading the books, and I am planning to do a 2017 Wrap Up to my reading near the end of the month, though I may hold off and post it in the new year. Normally I am so anxious about the new year, especially when it comes to my reading goals but I am feeling really comfortable about the conclusion to this year, and the start of the next. I hope you are too!


Friday, December 1, 2017

This Autumn

Chelsea's Scones
Okay! I'm getting back into the swing of things, or trying to. I had three days off of work last week with a weekend following it, and I have to say I felt more tired than relaxed when I went back to the office on Monday. But it was a very delightful week. We had a lot of cleaning to do as I had been storing all of my yard sale stuff in the dining room because we had some rain a few weeks ago. I've been planning a huge yard sale because I'm trying to save for a car, and my family has been trying to de-clutter our house these past few months. My mom and sister Bri re-landscaped our front yard a few month back and a few of us had been helping with that. I sold my trailer that had been falling apart, and I'm putting the money toward my car fund.
Dessert Table
I took most of last week off because we had people coming for Thanksgiving and our house was a disaster! We spent the entire day getting things cleaned, setting out decorations, and making pies. Then Thursday came and it was a really nice day! We kept it small this year and so it was really relaxed. I got to sleep in a little (most of us didn't even get dressed until noon!), and my sister Chelsea made fresh cranberry scones for breakfast, and they were so good! We had a few people over but for the most part it was just the siblings and parents. We played board games most of the afternoon after watching the Macy's parade, which was so much fun! My family really loves board games and so we had a ton of fun relaxing all day. And then we sat down for dinner. It was a simple day and very much fun. Lots of quick games of Uno, laughter, puppies, and food. Especially since Dad's birthday was Wednesday, and for some reason my mother and I thought it would be a good idea to buy three cakes (it wasn't).
Cosying up with Penny(left) and Henny(right)
on the Couch.
Dinner Table
We've also been dog-sitting for my sister's friend, and so we've had his dog with us since October. Her name is Penelope, Penny for short, and she is such a roly poly of a dog, and an endearing pain in the butt.

Coco Dia De Los Muertos alter at our local movie theater.
Last weekend we went to see Coco, the new Pixar film and it was so beautiful! If you haven't seen it yet I highly recommend it, it's such a great story and the animation is beautiful. A really great family film for the holiday season. I was crying for most of it but it's also really funny, and a great story to add to Pixar's amazing lineup. My family really love Pixar films, and I have to say this one goes up there with Finding Dory in my absolute favorites. The whole thing was just so great, and I thought it was a wonderful time to go see it.

And that was my Thanksgiving! Bri did a really cool job on the table decorations and I painstakingly tried to have seemingly good handwriting with chalk (I am getting better, honest) for the clip on place cards my mom has. I have got to get back to working on my handwriting, it's improved a lot over the years, but still it's pretty crap.

I decided to wear my hair down because I had bun curled it the night before and it looked great, unfortunately it was not practical for anything other than these pictures here. Setting the table, helping with food, playing games, and even laying down is just too hard when you have as mush hair as I do. A difficulty that was worsened by the weather making my hair both frizzy and static. But at least it looked good for pictures. The dress I am wearing is a gift from my sister Bri. She gave it to me for my birthday back in March and I just haven't had an occasion to wear it to until now, what with being at camp all summer long. Honestly I wish I had, it is one of the softest dresses I've worn and makes me feel a million feet tall (but maybe that's just the heels). There's a tan slip underneath with clear straps and then the black lacing over top. I need to see if I can take the straps in on the slip because it's a little low-cut in the chest and they would slip off my shoulder every once in a while, but the lining is so soft.

And that was my Thanksgiving! Besides all of that we got a lot of Christmas movies in and some Halloween ones we missed. Dad and I watched Arsenic and Old Lace, we all watched Miracle on 34th Street, and the siblings got in a viewing of all the cheesy Halmark and Freeform holiday movies, and even a viewing/sing-a-long of this gem.

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving as well, and that you enjoy the rest of the holiday season! ~Delaney
Outfit: Headband- Target, Necklace- Hand-me-Down,
Dress- Dress Barn(gift), Shoes - Thrifted

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: When Santa Was a Baby by Linda Bailey and Geneviève Godbout

Since I've been trying to write more often I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk about a few thing I've been doing this past week. And what better place to start than with a book review, especially one that's as seasonal as this. I have a few reviews I'm a bit behind on so I'll be doing a few of these this month. If you like bookish updates let me know and remember to follow me on LibraryThing, Goodreads, and Libib (@deelinnea).

This was such a cute little book. I really love reviewing children's books from LibraryThing because I can go through them quite fast (I'm a fairly slow reader when it comes to fuller sized books) and I like
having books I can someday read to my kids. I know, it's super sappy to say that, but I like the idea anyway. So over the past few years I've been collecting some children's literature as I browse books stores, and online. Some of my favorites are Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty (I have got to start picking up more from her), and Carson Crosses Canada by Linda Bailey. I saw this one  on LibraryThing's Early Reviewers and thought that it looked so cute. I mean look at that face! So I requested it. If you haven't done Early Reviewers I highly recommend it, it's a great way to get books for free. Just sign up, and under the "More" Tab select "Get Free Books". It does take a little while for them to get to you, depending on where they ship from (I've had some from UK or Canadian publishers every once in a while) but you can get physical copies or e-books for free. I will say I don't know how they choose reviewers, but it helps if you review some of the books you've already read. So onto my thoughts.

First off the illustrations, all done by Geneviève Godbout are so pretty all throughout the book. It's that rustic, airbrush look that always makes me think of Christmas or winter in general (like The Little Match Girl or The Snowman). It's got very vintage stylizing, and every page is beautiful. The story is, of course about how Santa grows up to be the jolly Father Christmas we know him to be. It starts with his first "HO, HO, HO!" and goes to show how Santa is a symbol of the kindness we show to each other, and the joy that come with having a generous heart. And the thing I love the most about it is the ability to say all this in a 30 page book without it sounding preachy, as many children's books can do when they have a moral lesson.

One of my favorite lines in this book is, "When Santa became a teenager, he continued to be unusual. He knew his own mind. He didn't always fit in with the crowd. But his parents thought he was wonderful." I think that's a very good message and says something that everyone, no matter how old, needs to be  reminded of: It's okay to be a little weird.

I think this is a really good book to get you into the spirit of the Holiday Season, especially if you have little ones to share it with. My little sister and I both enjoyed it very much, as I'm sure you will too!