Tag Archives: New Year

2015: A Fresh Start for the Bibliotaphe Closet

January 12. 2015

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis / @zara.tokiniha

It seems the doors of the Bibliotaphe Closet have been shut for about a month without much of an explanation from me. That’s what happens when you lose your keys, or in my case, a handle on a reading and writing schedule that worked quite effectively until I unexpectedly picked up a new obsession—pretty stationery, washi tape, mail art, snail mail, and penning letters.

After I agreed to an interview and feature on the Penpal of the Week website as well as having won a free three-month membership to the League of Extraordinary Penpals (LEP), a warm and active online community; I have quickly transformed from an occasional letter-writing penpal to approximately three correspondents to a fully engaged writer and snail mail addict who has unbelievably gained the interest of 50+ penpals within Canada, the U.S.A., and around the world.

Translation —> You will most likely find me in a paper craft store running for the bins that carry a myriad of pretty stationery sets, peony notecards and notebooks, a slew of rubber stamps, kawaii stickers, and an uncertain amount of decorative washi tape, sticky notes, and planner inserts.

Incoming mail from Diana in Australia: instructions on how to make fabric tape and a vintage Paperdoll postcard. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Incoming mail from Diana in Australia: instructions on how to make fabric tape and a vintage Paperdoll postcard. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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I have gone so far as to:

  • create my own envelopes and postcards
  • renovate my study into a small craft room that now stores all my snail mail and mail art supplies
  • install hooks into the wall to display my washi tape
  • create my own midori planners and journals based on a number of YouTube instructional videos
  • buy my own digital shipping scale to weigh my mail packages by the gram
  • memorize postage rates by domestic, US, and international locations
  • bribe “Santa” for a Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen with a fine nib
  • visit my mailbox on a strict rotation of three hours to check for incoming deliveries
  • and carry my mail, blank stationery, and pens with me everywhere I go just in case I have time to pen a letter
My creative writing space. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My creative writing space. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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That said, books and reading are still very much on my priority list. One does not usually forget their first love. But, as people grow, interests, too, tend to expand and develop (at least that’s what I tell myself since books have been left on the shelf).

With that in mind, I also hope to post stories about snail mail, mail art, and paper crafts on this blog. I may even have to consider revamping my blog’s site name, but I haven’t decided yet.

But, for starters, I encourage readers to set realistic reading goals for the year. This can be easily done through the HarperCollins of Canada 50 Book Pledge Program online, which acts as a database and personal tracker for a large reading community through a “To Be Read,” “Read,” and “Wish List” bookshelves.

As a preview, the first few books I look forward to reading and reviewing in 2015 are:

Alphabetique by Molly Peacock

alphabetique

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The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

strange library

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Little White Lies by Katie Dale

little white lies

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The Jaguar’s Children by John Valliant

jaguars children

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If I Fall, I Die by Michael Christie

if i fall i die

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Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

vanessa and her sister

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While I suspected there would be time during the holidays to read, write, and even pen letters, there was instead a perpetual food binge and all forms of lively procrastination.

The New Year rolled itself in and just last week I celebrated my 40th—cough—birthday! (But, more on that in another post.)

Regardless, now that it’s 2015, I’m happy to reconsider some new personal goals and resolutions, as well as give The Bibliotaphe Closet a contextual renovation and a clean, fresh start.

Here’s to more reading—and writing in the New Year!

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What are your reading goals for 2015?

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It’s 2014. Now, What?

zara red hair avatar - welcome 2014

It’s 2014. Now, What?

01.02.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

I usually greet the New Year with anticipation and “happiness,” and I did pretty good job for most of New Year’s Eve 2014. While it is more important for my family and I to spend New Year’s Eve in a quiet way as we usually do, we usually don’t welcome the New Year without some good food, sweet wine, and an even better attitude. The plan was to enjoy a good meal and spend the rest of 2013 participating in a movie marathon.

The kids enjoying our New Year's Eve slumber party. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids enjoying our New Year’s Eve slumber party. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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We had pasta salad, potatoes, roasted chicken, wild rice, samosas, red velvet cake, egg tarts, coffee, and blush wine. The children were already dressed in their pyjamas, the sleeping bags were on the floor ready for our slumber party—Daddy even wore his lamb onesie with matching lamb plush toy—but then, I called my parents and we soon realized they were alone for New Year’s Eve.

Daddy in his lamb onesie---and yes, it even has a tail! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Daddy in his lamb onesie—and yes, it even has a tail! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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We quickly packed our food, our clothes, and our toys into our car and raced toward my parents’ place to help them meet and greet the New Year with some company. The children were a little tired by this time, but they were able to take part in our cultural and family tradition of “throwing coins in the air” once New Year hit. We counted down to the New Year, threw our coins in the air, and greeted one another with hugs and kisses. (We even witnessed my usually-private-parents in an intimate New Year’s kiss!)

And then the children were able to open some presents from their grand aunt, Mama Li,  that they had missed opening on Christmas, so it surely felt that the holidays weren’t yet over. Michael was thrilled to receive a LEGO Star Wars ATRT Playset while Xara was overwhelmed with a number of great gifts including a cozy hoodie, perfect for school with a matching winter hat, a pink turtleneck, Dora pyjamas, a Princess puzzle, a porcelain tea set, and Hello Kitty stationery! Thanks Mama Li and Papado! Your gifts certainly made the New Year bright for the kids.

Michael with his new LEGO Star Wars set. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael with his new LEGO Star Wars set. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Michael ripped open his new LEGO Star Wars set and he built it in less than 10 minutes! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael ripped open his new LEGO Star Wars set and he built it in less than 10 minutes! (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Xara playing with her tea set with her grandparents. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara playing with her tea set with her grandparents. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Little "Agnes" from the movie, "Despicable Me." (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Little “Agnes” from the movie, “Despicable Me.” (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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While all this was wonderfully fun, the New Year had yet to unveil more of its surprises—and some of them, not so good. Around 4:00 a.m. in the morning, I woke to great stomach and back pain only to realize later that I was struck with a bad case of food poisoning. A few hours after that, my daughter woke up vomiting. The entire day—yes, the very first day of the year of 2014—my daughter and I were quite ill.

It’s only today that I was able to get up from being completely bedridden, which is why my first post of the New Year is actually on January 2nd.

But, it is a new year, so best to try to have a positive attitude even when caught in negative circumstances. There’s only 364 days left to enjoy until 2015 rolls along. Here are some plans I look forward to implementing in 2014:

1. Re-focus my energy on my children.

Rather than truly be present in my children’s lives last year, I seemed to have whizzed by in a flurry of stress, paying only a portion of attention to them. While all their needs were met, I know as a parent, I could have been more present and involved in their interests. This year, my kids come first. (This may mean I will sit down and play with my children first before thinking about doing chores.)

2. Anger Management.

It’s more than just a movie. It should be a way of life. For those of you who don’t know (and can’t tell), I do have a quick temper. In retrospect of 2013, I know that I’ve “huffed” and I’ve “puffed” in response to things I didn’t like. There are better ways to expend my energy, I think. And this year, I plan on controlling my negative emotions in a more positive way.

3. Read and review books more consistently.

Last year, I was struck with unexpected illnesses and family issues, which put up a great road block in helping me succeed in reading the number of books I had planned to read. Instead, I ploughed through one book at a time as painstakingly as I could muster, and failed to meet my yearly book-reading pledge. It’s a new year and a new chance to clean that slate and begin again! Books, books, books. This bibliotaphe plans on reclaiming her name again. Here’s to a new page, a new chapter, and a new bookshelf to discover.

4. Opening my social circle.

When you’re a natural introvert, it isn’t easy to open yourself up to new people. But, it’s a new year, which means, I look forward to building new and healthy relationships—and maintaining them. (Hello, gatherings, here I come!)

5. Eat less and eat better.

Most people begin diets at the beginning of the year, but after I experienced an extremely bad bout of food poisoning, it seems mandatory. While I refuse to technically go on a diet, I do plan on being more mindful the next time I have the urge to “stuff my face” with food. And yes, I’ll take that second-helping of veggies vs. cake, please.

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What do you look forward to in 2014?

Do you plan on making some changes?

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It’s 2013! Happy New Year!

zara alexis ecstatic

It’s 2013!

Happy New Year!

01.01.2013

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Even though both my children and myself were sick for New Year’s Eve, I was especially touched  to celebrate the last evening of 2012 in a a humble and intimate way, which was a nice change from how we’ve celebrated it in the past.

What was exceptional about our last day and night of 2012 was our communal, positive attitude as a family considering how physically ill we’ve all been feeling recently from a bug caught at Christmas time.

We opted to order in a pizza deal rather than stress out to cook a lavish meal for our New Year’s celebration. And as a compromise, I baked a dozen cupcakes for the kids in return for letting me off the hook in the kitchen.

And much to my surprise when we sat down for a fun, casual dinner, my husband opened and lead us in thoughtful and genuine prayer—which is something we haven’t done in a long time together as a family. It set the tone for the evening and though it’s been a quiet night at home, it was a night full of anticipation for the future, mixed with peace and contentment at the same time.

And now that the clock has struck 12:00 a.m., from me and my family on behalf of The Bibliotaphe Closet,

Happy New Year! It’s 2013!!

New Year 2013 Photo

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