Thursday, January 18, 2018

Reflections of a Doll Blogger

New Post Series?

Maybe. I've been reading quite a few book blogs lately. One had a great post about the Expectations vs. Reality for Book Bloggers (Entirely True and Not at All Hyperbolic). It got me thinking how some of these are true for doll bloggers too.


Books and Dolls Similar

Expectation 1/Reality 1

Organized with scheduled posts of awesomeness./
Writing a post on the fly.
I really like the idea of scheduling and having everything together to write a wonderful post. Sometimes I do have it together and can say, I'm going to post this on Monday, this Tuesday, etc. Post series titles help with this. Other times, well...


Expectation 2/Reality 2


I've been blogging for 3+ years so I know exactly
what I'm doing./Nope. Still learning!
Tea Time with Melody Q turned 5 this January. I love working on this blog. It's awesome. I love the followers, the comments, etc. However...

  1. I have no idea why some posts get lots of comments
    and others do not. 
  2. How to work ahead and actually have the scheduled post appear using the blogger schedule tool has eluded me.
  3. I recently learned I should have things like "terms of use" and "copyright reminders" and "privacy policy" and the like to be legal. (I will see about adding these this year.)

Expectation 3/Reality 3


I will take breaks when I need them and not feel bad./
If I take a break I will be forgotten and my blog will die.
Yep, "Fear of Missing Out" syndrome abounds here! There are other contributing factors to my trying for daily posts or at least posting 5 of 7 days. The reality of this reality is impending burn out from the self-imposed pressure to provide content. So post about your upcoming break and don't apologize for it. When you return, post about missing your readers instead.


Expectation 4/Reality 4


My blog will be very niche./Well, maybe not.
When I started Tea Time with Melody Q I thought pairing my dolls with tea would be super unique. It is on one level, but there are others out there who are doing similar things. Then reading other blogs...their influence creeps into my own. When I look back at some of my older posts I really love them and would like to reboot that initial energy and style, but can't seem to grasp it anymore.


Expectation 5/Reality 5


I will sit down to write a post and work ahead./
Why is the screen blank? OR
 I have to finish these chores, then I can write.
Rarely ever do I work ahead on a post. Writing this one is unique. Sometimes the pieces fall into place for working ahead, usually with a continuation post. Most days I login, have the photos open in slideshow form, and flip back and forth. Many times I compose as I view the photos. Sometimes I have an outline in my head and realize a photo won't support that outline...{crumbles thought like paper and starts over}.


Expectation 6/Reality 6


I will not add every doll outfit or accessory to my collection
because I'm wise and sensible and smart./
Watch that collection explode.
Doll finds and product reviews are HUGE in the doll blogging world. You see an outfit or accessory with a good review or used in a really cute photo story and inevitably the "I have to have it" voice starts calling. I admit my collection grew a lot between the day I started blogging relying solely on my four dolls and their existing wardrobe to today. Then the wardrobe was amassed in two Thirty-One large utility totes and one small chest. (I do keep the clothes in their boxes.) Now I have it organized in the equivalent of 7 or eight large utility totes plus that small chest. Sometimes it is overwhelming, but my wish lists are growing smaller due to thinking about what I/we really need.


Expectation 7/Reality 7


Everyone will send me things to review because I am
a fan and will promote like a boss./Very few if any
free additions to my collection.
Over the past four years I've received one ARC from an author to read and review (Blinded by the Light by Joe Kipling) and one or maybe it should be two teas, dark and light blends (Lost Pines Yaupon Tea). I am still ever so grateful for those samples. It is very special and exciting to receive this kind of help with your blog. In reality, the dolls and accessories and clothes I've added to my collection have been from my own pocket or as gifts from family and friends.



Specific to Dolls

Expectation 1/Reality 1

Every page of my blog will be up to date./
Posting takes priority over maintenance.
So why does it take so long for me to update the "blogs we visit" page? Well, some blogs come into my inbox every time there is new content others do not. The ones that come in regularly are easy to highlight in my notes. Then I visit each link I have bookmarked. If there is new content I've missed, I sit and read all those awesome posts and leave comments. If there is no new content, I think about the blogger and what they may be doing now and send them some positive energy. {On further consideration, this one ties in with the first under "similar." The contributing factors are not quite the same; that's why this is separate.}

And that button! A friend designed a great button for me (thank you, Mary), but due to some strange PC issue I can't access that part of the layout to make adjustments. 
I can't even access the gadget section to remove the old one. 😞 I will keep working on it!


Expectation 2/Reality 2


My photos will be awesome and my photo shoots or stories
will be fabulous./Where did the good light go?
My favorite camera breaks. I can't get the pose
in my head to translate to the real world.
I am learning. I am trying. I am working hard to get shots that are well lit and not yellow. Not an easy task in my house. Plus all those great photos take time and patience to frame just right. Patience is key. And no breeze. I can't tell you how many times I have a scene set just so and lean back to take the photo only to have a breeze come through and blow someone over. ARGH!

Other photo opportunity gaffes

  • Looks great on the screen, but blurry when downloaded
  • Photo bombs by furry friends
  • Flimsy or ill made shoes throwing the model off balance
  • Sudden rain drops
  • How did I miss the shirt ruching?
  • Flyaway hair
  • Sunsets faster than I thought it would



The key to all these realities is that my blog is my blog and I love working on it and enjoy sharing it with you; it's fun. Also my style is my style. I know others who are very much more organized than I. :-)

Did anything strike a chord with you? What expectations and realities have you experienced with your blog? Please share in a comment, I'd love to learn more.

Best wishes,

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Heavy Hearts Today

Princess Bella Forever in Our Hearts

With heavy hearts we announce today the passing of a beloved returning character in our Tea Time family. Lady Webby's darling Princess Bella crossed over to Rainbow Bridge this morning. 
Movie days will not be the same without her perky ears and wagging tail there to greet us. 

Please keep Lady Webby in your prayers.

Much love to our readers.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Melody's Birthday 2018

Hanging Out

Grace, Haley, Kaya, Kirsten, Lanie, Lea, Melody, 2 or more

(laughing)
It's been quite a day! One more game to go!
What a weekend for football!
I know, first the Eagles win...
(cheering)
Sad about the Steelers though.
(murmurs of agreement)
And your birthday, Mel.
I wouldn't want to spend it any other way than with you!
Awww!
Yeah, right!
(laughing)
I love this poster! You did a great job with it. Thank you for everything!
Love my new stuffies too! You know I'll share if you need one. Well, maybe. 
(laughing)
Dibs on mer-pusheen!
Ha!
Phil's the best!
I love that the sagoskatt hippo-dile was created by a 10-year old girl named Sonja.
(murmurs of agreement)
Time for the candle!
What did you ask for this year?
Banana cream pie.
Ooooo!
(singing) Happy, happy birthday to you...dear, Mel-o-deeeeee...happy birthday to you!
All right! Dig in!
(laughing)

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

If you look closely in the background, you'll see someone joined the party. Did you find who? [Hint: check pictures 1 and 5.]

Xyra's Food Notes
I like to use real food in our scenes; kind of a treat for me to clean up after. This feast included two small Lunchables - cheese pizza and nachos - and a Marie Calendar's singles banana cream pie. With regards to size all were perfect. With regards to treat, in my opinion, all failed. Well, actually the nachos were decent. I don't like cold pizza; however, I did heat these enough to melt the cheese and I thought it was good warmed up. After the shoot, not so much. The pie...the graham cracker crust is not evenly distributed, the pudding watery, the slivered almond topping - just ugh.

Best wishes,

Friday, January 12, 2018

Tea Review: Trader Joe's OGT

National Hot Tea Day

Trader Joe's Organic Ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea

What more fun way to celebrate Friday than with National Hot Tea Day and a tea review. Unfortunately, I have an herbal to review. To most it counts; others may take issue, "Tisane isn't tea." (giggles) I'm going with "herbal tea" as it is described on the box.
While Lady Darcia was east, she and Xyra went on a Trader Joe's run. Xyra picked up a box of Earl Great, I mean, Grey (giggles) and this Organic ginger Turmeric Herbal Tea. We've heard a lot about turmeric tea and wanted to try it.
Here we see the ingredients are "organic ginger root, organic turmeric, organic licorice, organic orange peel, organic orange oil, and organic black pepper." 
Hmm, well, Gramma Enne and Nonna won't be drinking this brew. The panel also shows the brewing instructions. "Place one tea bag in an 8 oz cup. Add boiling water and steep 3-5 minutes."

This panel give a Trader Joe's style description.
"Trader Joe's organic ginger turmeric herbal tea is a balanced blend of invigorating ginger and fragrant turmeric. Both are members of the ginger family (zingiberaceae), and both have been enjoyed for centuries in the cuisines of south and southeast Asia. This tisane is naturally caffeine free, making it easy to enjoy any time of day."
The tea bags are sealed in plastic pouches. Lady Marvin wouldn't like that very much.
Fragrant is right! The aroma is zesty and strong but pleasant.
I've added the bag to our pot and the boiling water. Now we wait.

[3 minutes pass - timer sounds]

It's done.
The tea is yellowish in color, but if you're familiar with turmeric that would not surprise you.
Smells yummy. 
I think the orange and ginger are strongest in the aroma, but I've never sniffed the open turmeric spice bottle. (giggles)

Here you can see the color of the tea well. 
First sip. You know, there were no additions in the instructions, so all sips will be plain.
Hmm, all the flavors are very subtle. I can't tell the licorice at all.

Second sip...
Yeah, I like this. I might try adding a light honey - you know, not buckwheat honey maybe bamboo or wildflower - or agave to make it a bit sweeter, but overall the flavors are well balanced and pleasing. Great for a rainy January day.
This one gets a thumbs up from me. Do you think you'd like it?

Xyra's Notes


  • This box of 20 tea bags was not expensive. In fact, this is one item you do NOT want to find on Amazon it's over $6 and with shipping it's over $11! If you are near a Trader Joe's you can find a box for $2.49. However, it may be a seasonal item. So if you find it try it and love it go back for more immediately!
  • As it cooled, the pepper made its presence more known and the ginger tingles more.
  • The tisane left a yellow sheen in my mug. You know how your favorite tea mug may take on a tea stain after time and need extra scrubbing...well, this is like that. So I highly suggest a dark cup or mug. When I realized what had happened I drank up and washed up right away. I used hot soapy water with a rough sponge. Most came off so I went another round with toothpaste and could still see some yellow, so my mug will now soak over the weekend. Melody's smaller cup did not stain.
  • Speaking of lingering issues. If you steep in a pot before pouring out, you will want a separate pot specifically for this blend. Our ingenuiTEA pot is now soaking as well.


Happy National Hot Tea Day! Hope you enjoy some of your favorite blend today!

Best wishes,


Note: Tea Time with Melody Q is not affiliated with American Girl or Trader Joe's. The blend reviewed was purchased with our own funds for our collection. The review is unsolicited and comprised of our own opinions and words. Links are provided for educational and informative purposes. No purchase is required to enjoy the post.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2017 Year in Review

A Very Interesting Year

Kaya, Lanie, both

Are you ready to tell everyone about Tea Time's 2017?
Sure. Took some doing going through our notes and the archive.
Yeah, I've been looking over the stats too.

Overall


  • We had 169 posts in 2017. March had the most with 19 and September the least with only 7.
  • Most of our pageviews were from the US, but we also had a lot from Russia, Germany, Canada, and France.
  • Our most popular posts were: Interesting Holiday on August 2, Holiday Prep C December 8, Call Out to Crafters May 9, and Cool-O-Ween 2 November 1.


Post Break Down

How should we do this? 
I think just a list or table.
Um, maybe not. I just did the math and our table comes up with 174 posts. (laughs)
(laughing) Okay. So this year you'll find the most miscellaneous adventures around 72 or so. (giggles) Followed closely by holiday and celebration posts around 19.
The cool part is we stuck to our resolution from last year and have 17 tea reviews! That's almost double from last year. Yay! (claps)
Of course, each month had a Lego build so that's 12. And tied at 7 posts each: book reviews and Model Monday. 
We completed 6 tags and had 5 Fun Friday posts.
You'll find 3 awards, fashion reviews, movie reviews, and What's What Wednesdays.
2 Meatloaf's Rail Adventures, memorials, minis, support, and Wednesday Wonders.
(singing sounds like "five gold rings") One Sipping Sunday! (laughs)


New Post Series/Topics

We started two new strings: Sipping Sunday and What's What Wednesday.
The plan is to slip these into a more regular rotation.
Speaking of rotation, looking at this list, I think we can really start planning a monthly rotation of some of the threads.
That's awesome.

More Thanks

A big THANK YOU to our readers. You inspire and motivate us!
Here's to 2017! 
And 2018!

Much love,

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Celebrate Good Times

Come On!

Tea Time with Melody Q is Five!

Grace, Haley, Kaya, Kirsten, Lanie, Lea, Melody, 2 or more

Hey, Elee! The table looks good. Need any help.
Sure, lets set the sign.
I have the cookies.
Rice pudding ready.
The sign looks great.
I love the cakes. 
Where's Mel?
Here she comes! (giggles)
Wow! The party table looks fab! We just need to light those candles!
Are we ready? Everyone blow on three.
1
2
3!
Whhhfff
(everyone cheering)
Wow! Five years.
Yeah, time flies.
Seems shorter. (winks at Grace)
Hasn't been quite that long for us. (giggles)
It's great having you on the team and in the family.
Pyewacket!
(laughing)
Let's get a good photo!
CHEESE!


Thank you for celebrating this wonderful milestone with us
We are so thankful for all of our followers. 

Best wishes!