Wednesday, July 29, 2015

People are different here...

People are different here.

They're nicer and friendlier and smile more.

They help strangers, they always say hello, and they're quick to give a hug.

They "Praise Jesus" and "Roll Tide."

They wave from their cars and say things like, "Yes, M'am" and "No, Sir."

People are different here.

They fake laugh and backstab.  They smile to your face and gossip behind your back.

They roll their eyes at minorities and say "I hope we don't get any more of those people coming here."

They hunker down in their subdivision on the "safe" side of town and ask the new girl, "So what do you think of black people?"

Photo via unsplash

People are different here...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Brazil Photo Album || & Why I don't like "Project Life"

This was my first time making a Project Life album.  I was drawn to the "scrap-book-esque" feel of it with the ease of a photo album.  I knew I had a ton of pictures, so I bought extra photo sheets.  I also bought an entire kit of decorative cards and pens.  I spent almost $100 on supplies because I knew I would be using them for many projects.  Big mistake!  Here's why - I didn't like it!  I probably won't use the Project Life system again!
Stop the presses!  What?!  How could I say such a thing?!  All the bloggers looove Project Life!  Am I crazy?! 

All kidding aside - it's not for me.  The albums are way too big, the page layouts are limiting, and I can't display it anywhere.  One of the biggest problems for me was the layout of the pages.  I had an odd number of horizontal and vertical arrangements and they didn't always match up with the page layouts, so I was forced to leave some pictures out.  I also had to cut pictures so that they could fit in two pockets so that they could stay with the pictures they were grouped with.  

See how I had to cut those two middle pictures in half so they would fit with this page?

Notice all those empty cards...

The other issue I had was that not all of my photos were the same size - phone cameras, my dslr, and my waterproof camera all shot photos in different sizes.  It was impossible for me to print everything as 4x6 without distorting or losing parts of my images.  So many of my photos are too small for the pockets.  I tried to tape the pockets shut with washi tape, but I don't really like how that looks.  Also the notecards are a cute idea but I found that I was using them just to fill in empty space, and I didn't write on very many of them.  

The final reason why I don't like the album is that it's too big.  I don't have a huge house with huge furniture, so it actually takes up half of my coffee table.  For me the whole point of making an album is so that family and friends can thumb through.  But even if I found a place for this in my living room, the pages are so huge that it's difficult to flip through.  

Overall I found ways to make it cute, I like the idea of it - the journaling and decorative cards - but it's just not for me.  I'll stick with regular photo albums (or smaller scrapbooks) from now on!  A Beautiful Mess have some photo books available in their store; maybe I'll check those out.


Want to see most of my pictures from our year in Brazil?  Click here for a roundup of blog posts from our time in Rio de Janeiro.

Linking up for Travel Tuesday

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Art Journal Update

While I wasn't able to post weekly updates for a few weeks, I actually have been working in my art journal.  Some of the pages were just junk... not worth showing on the blog.  I was practicing random things and the pages just don't look good.  But one thing that I have been doing is displaying my art journal pages on clipboards that I hung in my office.

Clipboards as photo or art displays were all over Pinterest awhile back.  Mine are certainly more functional than cute, but I still like to use them.  Maybe some day I'll buy metallic spray paint and make them cuter, but for now they work for me.

Sometimes my journal gets shut and put in a drawer and I don't look back at what I've done.  I like displaying the pages this way and rotating through them.  It gives a little inspiration and motivates me to keep working on a concept or idea.

I wanted to show you how they look hanging above my desk, but I recently rearranged my living room and office area and so the office is now a disaster.  I might post pictures once I get it all organized again.

Meanwhile I only have 2 weeks of summer vacation left before I have to go back for in-service and then the beginning of the school year.  I'm trying to get organized with my blog, plan posts out, and generate ideas for the future.  I'm worried that once I start teaching again my blog will be neglected (again).  

Please let me know what kind of posts you'd enjoy reading.  

More travel stories (I have tons left that I haven't written - Panama, Mexico, Peru, Korea, Romania, Italy, Brazil...), more lifestyle posts (recipes, outfits, makeup, diy), personal posts (day-in-the-life, life updates, thoughts on current social issues), artistic posts, or something else entirely???

Friday, July 24, 2015

Exciting New Venture || We Teach Music

I'm excited to share with you a new venture that I'm starting with my real-life bff, Kelly, from Perfect Harmonies.  Kelly and I met in grad school and bonded over our shared love of the local French cafe, classical music, Christian faith, and general getting-along-with-each-other-ness.  :)  She and her husband even came to visit us in Rio!  Anyway, long story short, Kelly and I are both music teachers, so we asked ourselves, "Why not start a blog about teaching music?!"  So we did!

Our blog is called "We Teach Music" and can be found at  Kelly will be sharing her experiences with High School choir and band in a public school, and I will be sharing my experiences with middle school-high school choir and musical theater at a private school.  We will be sharing tips and tricks, teaching resources, lesson plans, lessons learned, and much more.  The blog is not completely "ready" yet, but we've started scheduling content, so it's on its way!

Please tell all your teacher friends to check us out!

Blog content for Alone with my tea will not change.  Once school resumes I will have less time to blog, but I will still update with travel stories, life updates, and crafty projects.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Etsy Finds || Home Decor

Top Row L-R: Rustic Wood Large World Map, Reclaimed Hardwood Coasters, Vintage Stoneware Pitcher
Middle Row L-R: Set of 3 Painted Wooden Vases, Metal Fox Bookends, Minimal Wooden Clock 
Bottom Row L-R: Burlap Deer Pillow, Reclaimed Pallet Wood Sign , Silk Peonies Arrangement

What are you inspired by in home decor these days?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Guest Post on The Thrifty Gypsy's Travels

Thrifty Gypsy's Travels

Hey Everyone, today I'm guest posting over at The Thrifty Gypsy Travels.  Make sure you head over there to read about my personal struggles and joys of living overseas.  And while you're over there, check out the rest of Katrina's blog.  She has managed to live frugally in order to travel to some amazing places.  She's had some one-of-a-kind experiences, such as being in Germany when they won the world cup, local exploration of her home state of Virginia, swimming in a secret grotto, and camping with giant warthogs in Africa!  She has a great perspective on why you should visit Greece now, even in the midst of their economic crisis, and she wrote an insightful article that I love about how traveling provokes.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Happy 2nd Anniversary to Us || Our Love Story

Today marks two years of being married.  Last year we spent our anniversary at the location of our wedding in beautiful San Diego.  This year we're stuck in Southeast Alabama in the heat and humidity, maybe going out to dinner if we're not too tired.  So romantic!

Some of you have mentioned that you'd like to read about our love story - how we met and fell in love.  So I'll tell a little bit of it now.  I'll try to make it brief!

Peter and I met online.


Whenever people heard that I was online dating, they would say things like, "but you're so young and cute, can't you find anyone in real life?"  Well, even though they meant it as a compliment, I was always insulted.  Why, yes, I can "find anyone in real life."  But I don't want to find just any one.  I want to find the one.  Anyway, I had my reasons for dating online, and I don't regret it, obviously, because I met my husband!

So moving on.  We were matched around June 17th, 2011.  By July we were talking exclusively, and by August we were planning our wedding.  And we still hadn't met in person yet!  You see, Peter lived in Ohio, and a few weeks after we "met" online, Peter moved back to Brazil...  And I was in California.  We spent our days chatting on g-chat and google hangouts, sending emails, and Skyping.  We both knew after a few weeks that we wanted to marry each other, but we were both realistic of how that could be possible.  We needed to get to know each other better, and we needed to spend time in each others' physical presence.

Google Hangouts are really fun

Technology is great, especially when it freezes

Peter was planning on visiting me during his Christmas break (he was working at a school) but I didn't want to wait 6 months!  So I convinced him to visit in October.  He came for a week and met my parents and one sister and her kids.  He thought he met "sooo many" people on that trip but he would later realize how big my family is!

The first time we met in person!  We were so happy!
Peter came to visit again in December and got to meet my entire immediate family - mom, dad, three sisters and one brother and their spouses and their children, and my parents' foster daughter - totaling about 23 people.  Plus my aunts and uncles and cousins.  It was a little overwhelming for him.  But he was able to stay for 5 weeks and we all got to know him really well.  When he left that time I was sad because I didn't know when I would get to see him again.

Everyone loved him immediately, especially my nieces and nephews...

Luckily I was able to plan and save and by April (2012) my dad and I flew down to Brazil to meet Peter's family.  We stayed for a week and got to tour São Paulo.  It was a fun time.  But seeing each other a few weeks every three months wasn't enough - we knew that we needed to spend even more time together before we got married.

Me and my dad in Brazil

So a few months later Peter decided to take a leap and move to California.  Exactly one year after we met online, Peter moved to California.  I was getting ready to move back up to San Jose to finish my Master's (I had taken a year off due to health reasons), so Peter decided he would also move to San Jose.  He was able to rent a room from one of my good friends, and he found about 3 part time jobs to pay the bills.  It was tough, financially, but it was worth it.  We were able to get engaged and plan our wedding.

We got married July 20th, 2013, two years after we had met.  And from there, you know the rest... we had a lovely honeymoon in Julian and Dana Point, California, and 8 days after we said "I do," we packed our bags and flew down to Rio de Janeiro.  We spent a year there before returning to the states and moving to Alabama.  We've been in Alabama for a year now.

So much has happened in the past 4 years.  I told Peter that I can't believe we've only been married for two years because it feels like so much longer (in a good way)!  I'm not sure what the next 2, 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years will hold, but I'm glad I get to spend it with Peter.  Whatever reasons we each had for trying out online dating, I'm glad we did!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

10 Lessons Learned

Don't start a show on Netflix unless the entire series is available for streaming.  If there is another season coming out in a few months, DO NOT START THE SERIES!

If a clothing item says "dry clean only," don't put it in your washing machine...

It's better to own fewer high-quality items than a bunch of low-quality items.

Don't waste your time reading books with sad endings or watching movies where everyone dies.

Other people are not thinking about you as much as you are thinking about you.

If you misalign the buttons on your blouse, everyone will notice.

When you are feeling tired and someone asks you if you are pregnant, just start crying.  They'll never ask you again.

The difference between "sterile" and "homey" is curtains.

DIY is fun but sometimes it's worth it to save yourself some time and just buy something already made.

A hot cup of tea will always make you feel better.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

DIY Glass Jar Lanterns || Dollar Store Craft

I can't give credit to myself for this idea.  Jamie, who writes the blog Anderson + Grant, posted the tutorial on Craftberry Bush.  Both are blogs I follow and love.

This project was inexpensive and quick.  I got all the supplies from the dollar store.

Three jars - $3
Two packs of 2 LED lights - $2
One package of rocks - $1
Hot Glue Gun - Already had
Twine - Already Had
Total for 3 lanterns = $6 or $2 each.

While I didn't invent the idea, I can certainly show you some ideas for how I'm displaying these cute jars around my house.

You can vary the size and amount of twine you use.  You don't have to use rocks and LED candles - fill with colored sea glass, seashells, or other trinkets you want to display.  Other ideas include filling them with succulents, using real candles, hanging them from your porch, putting them outside your front door, on your night table, any end table, next to your kitchen sink, basically anywhere you can think of.

Going on a picnic?  Take a few of these.  Having a BBQ?  Put a few of these around your grill.  Having some friends over?  Scatter some large and small lanterns, with real candles, around your house for a relaxing vibe.

On a countertop with lights off:

Lights on:

"Mood lighting:"

In the bathroom:

On a bookshelf:

On a corner of your coffee table:

My husband loves how these turned out and wants me to make many more to put around the house.  

Do you think you'll give this super easy diy project a try?