Sunday, April 19, 2015

Things That Made Me Smile #8

Happy Sunday! I hope everyone is having a nice, lazy Sunday filled with tea and good food! Here are a few of the things that made me smile this week.

1. Flowers. Spring flowers are in bloom everywhere and I'm absolutely in love. Who doesn't love seeing gorgeous flowers every time you go outside?

2. Finding calm. Yesterday I wrote a post about being 22 and what I hope to do this year. It was an exciting post for me to write and I feel so much more calm after coming to the decisions that I speak about in that post!

3. Congratulating friends. As we near the end of uni all of my friends are doing exciting things. They are presenting research at conferences, getting jobs, planning to move out of state, etc. I am absolutely thrilled for each and every one of them! Congratulations to all of you!

4. Yoga. I've been working hard to maintain a more consistent yoga practice every day. So far it has only been a few days, but I already feel better. I feel less lethargic and much more excited to go out and do things each day. I hope I can keep it up!

What made you smile this week?

P.S. the tea of the day is raspberry pineapple white tea ^_^

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Friday Firsts: 22

Happy Saturday! Apologies on this post being late! Yesterday just got away from me, so I decided to post my Friday First a day late this week. 

Last Sunday I turned 22, so for my Friday First this week I wanted to talk about being a new age. This birthday came at a pivotal point for me; I'm graduating from university in a few weeks and I still have yet to figure out exactly what I'm going to do when that happens. 

I realized the other day that the reason I am so unsettled about my post-grad plans is because I don't have my dream anymore. For most of my life I have known exactly what the next step is going to be. I knew that after high school I wanted go to college. I knew that my third year of uni I wanted study abroad. I knew that when I got back from study abroad I wanted start looking at grad schools. All of these things drove me forward and I worked hard to achieve them. Except when I came back from Japan, I stopped. The plan I had been so sure about a few months earlier seemed pointless and tiring to me. I had no idea what I wanted to do anymore.

The year of 21, therefore, was a year of wandering. I jumped from idea to idea, never settling on anything. Then this week, my first week of being 22, it all came together. I realized that it is perfectly okay not to know. It's not the end of the world that I don't have a set plan; because for the first time in my life I can spend some time exploring myself. 

22, therefore, is going to be a year of exploration. I want to focus on myself and not worry about my future plans. I want to work on the things that I enjoy and use those things to truly figure out what I want out of my life.

I want to deepen and expand my yoga practice. Yoga is something that I have done for a few years, but never too seriously. I always told myself that I would focus on it later. When I was done with school, when I had enough money to join classes, etc. 22 is going to make that future the present. I'm going to spend more time practicing and attending classes, because I don't think there is a better way to rediscover my dreams than learning about my body and mind through a practice I love.

I want to truly throw myself into a vegetarian diet. I am vegetarian now, but I've never done the research about vegetarianism that I've always wanted to do. Like yoga, I always told myself I would do it when I had the time. In the year of 22, I'm going to make the time. I want to read books and explore recipes to come to a deeper understanding of the diet I have chosen and improve the healthfulness of what I eat. 

22, I think you're going to be a great year. I think you will help me understand myself better and lead me to rediscover what I want out of my life. My expectations are high, but I don't think I'll be disappointed! 

What new things did you do this week? What do you do when you feel lost in life?

P.S. the tea of the day is ice tea ^_^

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Weekly Inspiration: Love Yourself

I saw this quote the other week on Sjana Earp's Instagram page (find it here) and I've been thinking about it a lot ever since. Over the past few years I have learned so much about confidence and this sums it all up so perfectly. I think our relationships with people and our outlook on life would improve so much if we kept this in mind and didn't put so much pressure on ourselves. Nobody is perfect and we should learn to accept all of our imperfections! 

What has been inspiring you this week?

P.S. the tea of the day is chamomile tea ^_^

Monday, April 13, 2015

Things That Made Me Smile #7

Happy Monday! It's time for a new post about all the things that made me happy in the past week!

1. Birthdays. Yesterday was my birthday and it just reminded me of how much I love birthdays! Everyone is always so happy and nice to each other. Since I live in a different state from my family, I didn't get to see them yesterday. However, they sent me a lovely package and a crown! I wish every day could be as happy and fun as birthdays.

2. Skyrim. I started playing the video game Skyrim this week and I'm having a lot of fun with it. Some of my friends play and they thought I would really like it so I decided to try it out. I haven't played a video game since I was about 13, so it was a little strange at first but I'm really enjoying it! 

3. Countdown to graduation. We only have a few weeks to graduation and it's getting so much more real now! I can't wait to see all my family and celebrate the fact that I made it through university! 

4. Taking days for myself. Lately I've been trying a lot more to set days where I do minimal work and just have a relaxing day. It means more work on some days but I don't really mind. I've already noticed that I'm a lot less stressed even though it's coming close to finals week. 

What has made you smile recently?

P.S. the tea of the day is a Tazo chai latte ^_^

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Firsts: Sarah Beth Yoga

Happy Friday! Another late post, but it's better late than never! This week for my Friday First I decided to try some Sarah Beth Yoga videos. Her videos keep popping up when I search for yoga video's and I finally decided to try one! 

I absolutely love Sarah Beth Yoga! From the few videos I have done I got a really good impression. 

Her videos are filled with pretty basic poses, so they are accessible to all levels of yogi. She does offer some more advanced poses, but she always gives modifications if you need an easier option.

Her videos are also relatively short. They are usually 15-20 minutes, with some slightly longer videos as well. This is perfect for me since I don't always have time for the hour long videos that other yogi's post. As I near graduation I just don't usually have that much time to spare. 

Overall, my first few videos I did with Sarah Beth Yoga were awesome! I would definitely recommend her to all levels of yogi! 

Find her YouTube channel here

What yogi's do you guys like?

P.S. the tea of the day is green tea ^_^

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Weekly Inspiration: IISuperwomanII

Happy Wednesday! This week I've been feeling super inspired by Lilly Singh, also known as IISuperwomanII. Lilly is a Canadian YouTuber that I discovered earlier this year. Her main channel videos take on a variety of topics. She sometimes talks about different "types", like types of people on Instagram, types of friends, types of boyfriends, etc. Sometimes she'll do holiday related videos, such as a Valentine's Day gift guide. She also dresses up and acts as her parents and will have videos of her "parents" reacting to different music videos online. No matter what she does you can be sure that it will be riddled with jokes that are sure to make you laugh!

Besides making hilarious videos Lilly has one of the most positive outlooks on life that I have ever seen. I recently started watching her second channel videos that document her daily life. In one video where she is travelling back to Canada from India she talks about how when she was about to get on the plane she almost fainted and didn't make it onto the plane. However, instead of complaining about it or being angry, she was just grateful that she had made it home. Her positive attitude in every video always astounds me! I hope I can be half as positive as she is!

On a side note, can we just take a minute to appreciate how awesome this wall in her room is?!

The last thing that I love about Lilly is how ambitious she is. She is always out chasing her dreams and taking risks, no matter where that takes her. Recently, she announced her world tour! Talk about ambitious! Every time I watch one of her videos I am so inspired to chase my dreams, no matter what they are. 

Check out IISuperwomanII's YouTube here and her Instagram here!

Who has been inspiring you lately?

P.S. the tea of the day is vanilla chai ^_^

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Things That Made Me Smile #6

Happy Sunday! This week has been another really happy week! Here are a few of the things that I loved about this week.

1. Kitchen experiments. This week I tried to make lettuce pizzas. I don't usually branch out too much when I'm cooking; it takes a lot of time and I generally have a lot of other things to do. However, I felt like this would be a relatively simple thing to try. I really enjoyed how they turned out and I would definitely experiment more with different ingredients and different vegetables to use as the crust!

2. Applying for jobs. Although applying for jobs is time consuming and a bit stressful, I also really enjoy it. I find it super exciting to think about the future and plan out what I'm going to do after graduation!

3. Flowers in my room. The other day I bought some flowers at the grocery store. I absolutely love seeing them every time I walk into my room. Plus, they make my room smell amazing! 

4. Unexpected surprises. This week I have been surprised a few times by people and it made me extremely happy! For example, one of my professors said she would bring my resume into a company for them to look at in order to help me find a job. I was so grateful that she would go to such lengths to help me. Isn't it great when people surprise you with things like that?

What made you guys smile this week?

P.S. the tea of the day is vanilla chai ^_^

Saturday, April 4, 2015

#iamimperfectlyme Challenge Finished!

Happy Saturday! I am officially finished with my #iamimperfectlyme Lent challenge! I wanted to write a post to share my thoughts about the challenge now that it is done.

One of the biggest things I learned during this challenge was just how many issues I have with my body. It was scary how many times I had to write down for my jar that I thought I was fat. Without realizing it I had been poisoning myself each day with these types of thoughts. I'm glad I discovered this so I can work on being more positive about my body!

I found out, however, that with enough effort and motivation it is possible to stop these types of thoughts in their tracks. During the second half of this challenge I could feel a thought forming and stop it before it completely took hold of my mind. This felt very good and I was always proud of myself when it happened! 

This challenge has helped my confidence in so many ways. I haven't put a negative thought in my jar for about a week. I never thought I would be able to go that long without thinking something negative about myself! I don't want to lose this mentality as I have been so much happier recently. Therefore, even though the challenge is over I'm going to keep working at it. I won't use the jar because I don't feel like I need it anymore. However, I want to keep posting pictures to my Instagram occasionally. I hope that you will still follow along there to see how the challenge might evolve!

Thank you to everyone who encouraged me during this challenge and helped me with it! 

P.S. the tea of the day is green tea ^_^

Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Firsts: Fifty Shades of Earl Grey

Happy Friday! I apologize for this post coming later in the day than usual, it's been one busy Friday! This week for my Friday First I decided to try Earl Grey tea. Since I started drinking tea I've always been scared to try Earl Grey. I felt like the flavor would be too strong for me. So, whenever the opportunity came around I chickened out and just stayed with the types of tea that I knew I liked. However, my friends have a few boxes at their house and it always tempts me to actually try it. I figured that a Friday Firsts post would be the perfect opportunity to actually go ahead and try some. So I swiped a bag and here we are! 

Earl Grey should be steeped for about 4 minutes. It is a black tea so you don't want to steep it too long or it will start to get extra bitter! 

I was looking online and most people said to put either sugar or lemon in the tea. Milk was also an option, but not as popular. I decided to put in just 1 teaspoon of sugar and that turned out pretty well!

For my first experience I decided that Earl Grey wasn't my favorite tea. It was slightly more bitter than I like my tea and the sugar I put in didn't fully counteract the bitterness. However, as someone who drinks mostly herbal tea this probably isn't surprising. I still liked it though, and I can definitely see myself buying a box just to have. I imagine I would like it more with a sweet breakfast, like pancakes!

Do you guys like Earl Grey tea? Do you have any tips on how to make the perfect mug?

P.S. the tea of the day is an Oprah cinnamon chai latte ^_^

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Weekly Inspiration: Home Decorating

Happy Wednesday! After graduation in May I'm planning on moving into my own place. It will be the first time I live on my own other than living in the dorms at school! Therefore, I've been looking at lots of pictures of apartment/home decorating inspiration to see how I want to set up my future space. Here's some of the things that I especially liked!

From Rebloggy

I love the idea of putting pictures and other things that inspire me behind my desk so that when I am looking for creativity it will be right in front of me.

From Free People Bldg 25 Blog

Plants are another thing that I want to have throughout my space. I would need to research more into taking care of plants though, since my experience so far has mostly been killing the plants I get!

From We Heart It

From We Heart It

I definitely want to have twinkle lights throughout my space. I have some in my dorm room now and they make my room so cozy when I have them on. I also really like that bed-desk! I would absolutely love to have that for watching TV, reading blogs, or doing work if I'm sick in bed.

What types of things inspire your home decorating? 

P.S. the tea of the day is vanilla chai ^_^

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Things That Made Me Smile #5

Happy Sunday! First, I just want to mention that I have a new blog profile picture! My friend Dan was kind enough to snap some pictures of me for the blog and I absolutely love how they turned out! Below are a few more shots from the shoot ^_^

On to the main post! This week was a really nice week and there were so many things that made me smile that it was hard to choose only four to share with you! 

1. Soup when sick. I got a little cold this week so I've been eating lots of soup. I love soup all the time but there is something so delicious and comforting about soup when you aren't feeling 100%. Don't you guys agree?

2. Taking time to speak with friends. I feel like we get so caught up in our busy lives sometimes that we push our friends to the side. We tell ourselves that when we are less busy we will make time for a quick phone call or dinner. This week I tried to make more of a conscious effort not to do that. Even if it was just for 15 minutes I attempted to take  time away from my work and really listen to what they were saying. After all, relationships are the most important thing in our lives!

3. Writing in cursive. I've always wanted to write more in cursive. However, I'm not very quick at it so I don't use cursive when I'm taking notes in class or things like that. I've been trying lately to write more in cursive in things like letters or to-do lists. I think my cursive handwriting is really improving!

4. Practicing Japanese. After coming home from Japan I had limited opportunities to practice Japanese. It makes me so happy when I can watch some Japanese TV or speak to one of the Japanese exchange students here, my friend Moe. Even if it's not every day I feel like this really helps me keep up my Japanese!

What made you guys smile this week?

P.S. the tea of the is raspberry pineapple white tea ^_^

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Firsts: The Coffeehouse and Deli

Happy Friday! Yesterday my friend Amy and I went to a new coffee shop called The Coffeehouse and Deli. Since we only have a few weeks left until graduation, I wanted to go to a new coffee shop for my first Friday Firsts post. I thought it would be a good way to hang out with one of my friends while still being able to finish all of our studying.

The Coffeehouse and Deli has all types of coffee and, typical of a place that serves mainly coffee, has limited tea drinks. However, they do serve chai tea which is my obsession right now, so I was happy ^_^ They also serve assorted pastry items and have a full deli menu of all vegetarian/vegan items. I would definitely like to try some of their deli items sometime. They all looked so delicious!

The restaurant itself has tons of space for seating. They have an assortment of different size tables and different style chairs. I loved this since so many coffee shops have limited seating and it is hard to spread out if you have studying to do. The eclectic mix of furniture lends to a fun atmosphere which was very conducive to studying. It would also be great for eating dinner or just catching up with friends over a coffee/tea. They also have a bunch of artwork on the walls. I would love to walk around more if I go back and take a look at all the artwork!

I tried a chai tea latte and a strawberry cream cheese strudel and thought they were both delicious! My friend had a cafe mocha and was less satisfied but still thought it was good. Plus, they came in these awesome mugs! 

Overall it was a great experience and I would definitely go again. The all vegetarian/vegan menu is enough of a draw to get me to go back soon! 

Check out the Coffeehouse and Deli here!

P.S. the tea of the day was vanilla chai ^_^

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

New and Improved

Welcome to the new and improved Tea Time with Taylor! 

I've been thinking a lot about this blog lately. I originally started it to document my time studying abroad in Japan. I wanted to be able to share with my family and friends all the things that I was doing and seeing while living in Tokyo for the year. When I came back from Japan I loved my blog so much I knew I was not going to give it up. However, I had trouble finding a direction for it. I don't travel a lot, so it couldn't continue to be a travel blog. I like to dress up and try new clothing styles, but I am by no means enough of a fashionista to run a fashion blog. I don't use makeup so running a beauty blog also wasn't for me. I ended up just writing posts about things that were important to me; things that I was thinking about at that point in time. 

Therefore, for a long while I've been looking for more structure to my blog. I haven't been feeling inspired and I've noticed a decline in the quality of work that I put up here. After lots of thought I decided that I want Tea Time with Taylor to be a place where people can come to find inspiration and happiness. I started a series, inspired by The Tea Drinking English Rose, of things that had made me smile during that week. I have really enjoyed blogging this series and wanted to add on to it. So, enough chit chat! Here are the changes that I will be making to the blog! 

First, I have obviously changed the look of the blog. Do you guys like the new design? Anything you would like to see different?

Second, every Sunday I will be continuing with the Things That Made Me Smile posts. I'm super excited to share with you all the little things that make me smile throughout the week! 

Third, every Wednesday I will be starting a series called Weekly Inspiration. On this day I will be sharing something that inspired me that week. It could be a quote, a person, a book, a movie, some pictures, etc. The possibilities are endless! 

Finally, on Fridays I will be starting a series called Friday Firsts. Each week I will be trying something new. It could be a new type of tea, a new hairstyle, a new restaurant I ate at, or a cool new experience that I had! If you guys have any things you want me to try let me know! I would love to try out your suggestions and tell you what I thought about them. 

In between these posts I will still write about the things that are on my mind or travel posts if I happen to go somewhere. I love posts like this but they just weren't enough to keep me inspired.

I can't wait to see how this new structure will work out! Hopefully it will inspire me to write more often and put more effort into my writing! I hope it will also give you guys more to look forward to since you will have set posts to look forward to! 

P.S. the tea of the day is strawberry grapefruit green tea ^_^

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Things That Made Me Smile #4

Life has been absolutely lovely lately, so I thought I would share a few of the things that have put a smile on my face recently ^_^

1. Warm weather. Spring is here and it actually feels like it in Illinois! I've ditched my winter wear for light sweaters and brighter colors. Going outside everyday is now fun instead of a pain! 

2. Mail. I simply adore getting letters in the mail! This letter is from one of my friends in Japan, Erika. Getting letters is one of my favorite things in the world, so if you want to start writing letters just let me know! 

3. Freshening up my look. Last weekend I went and got my hair trimmed and bought a few new pieces of clothing at the mall. It wasn't a huge shopping spree but it was still fun! It's amazing how much only a few items can reinvigorate your wardrobe. 

4. Morning tea. I'm usually more of an evening tea drinker since I am too lazy to make it in the morning. Lately though, I've been making a mug each morning and it's wonderful! Now I wake up looking forward to the fact that I'll have a cup of tea in a few minutes. 

What has made you guys smile recently?

P.S. the tea of the day is green tea ^_^

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

#iamimperfectlyme Week 4

Today marks the fourth week that I have been doing my #iamimperfectlyme Lent challenge (see what it's all about here). I thought I would give you guys a little update of how it's going! 

Since I wrote my last post (see it here) all the thoughts that I have put into my negative thought jar have been about my body. Whether it's that I am fat, I don't look good that day, etc., they all revolve around my appearance. I was thinking about this and I feel like this is due to the media. We are constantly told that we need to have the perfect body, even if that body is unobtainable. I've been trying really hard, every time I have a bad thought about my body, to think about it logically. 

For example, one of the thoughts I have frequently is that because my posture when I sit is poor I look fat. My posture being poor and me being fat are completely unrelated. If I want to fix my posture that's one thing. I can consciously sit up more or I can do yoga to work on my posture. Just because I am not sitting up straight does not automatically mean that I am fat. Thinking about my thoughts like this helps me realize how irrational these thoughts are.

One good thing I have noticed, however, is that most days I don't have too many negative thoughts. I can go whole days without thinking badly of myself. Part of this is that I am just busy. I only have about 5 weeks left of university before graduation. I think the majority, though, is that I have made such a conscious effort to stop thoughts in their tracks. I am able to occupy my mind with other topics, not just bad things about myself. 

Connected to this, I have also noticed that my thoughts tend to be constructive. I think things like "sit up straight" or "wash your face soon" instead of thinking that I look fat or ugly. This has overall made me happier with myself. I have found myself presenting myself better, dressing well, doing my hair every day, etc. I feel much more confident with myself and I enjoy putting the effort in every day. Sometimes when we feel fat, ugly, or whatever we think is wrong with ourselves, we don't want to put in any effort to ourselves. We don't get dressed in the morning, we don't shower for a few days and then we inevitably just feel worse about ourselves. It turns into a cycle that we can't get out of easily. 

These four weeks of this challenge have showed me how much strength I have. I am learning how much confidence I have in myself. This confidence generates a positive cycle in my life. I feel better about my appearance so I present myself better. Seeing that I look nice each day makes me feel better about myself, and the cycle continues. 

Overall, I think that so far this challenge has had a very positive effect on my life. I am obviously not perfect and still think bad things about myself. However, I am better able to stop these thoughts in their tracks and tell myself why this thought is wrong. 

The challenge is ending soon, so I'll do another post towards the end of it!

P.S. the tea of the day is chai tea ^_^

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Women Who Inspire Me

The other day my friend Katie suggested that I write a blog about the people who inspire me. As I brainstormed I realized that the most inspirational people in my life are all women. I planned on writing this post today before I realized that it is International Women's Day, so I ended up planning this perfectly without even knowing it!

1. Audrey Hepburn
I loved Audrey Hepburn the moment I saw my first film with her in it. As I've learned more about her I only became more impressed and inspired. She always looked classy and well put together. In addition, she was a huge advocate for human rights after she finished her acting career. What's not to love?

2. The Bronte Sisters
My favorite novel in the whole world is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I kept reading her works and eventually branched out into reading the other sisters' works as well. I've absolutely adored everything they wrote. Plus, they first submitted their work under male pseudonyms since the books they were writing weren't seen as proper for a woman to write at the time. Isn't that just too cool?!

3. Emma Watson
I, along with everyone else in the world, have a huge crush on Emma Watson. Like Audrey Hepburn she always looks classy. Additionally, she continued on to university after finishing the Harry Potter movies even though she had enough money to not need to go to school. Finally, she has became the UN ambassador for the He For She campaign. Seriously though, could she be more awesome?

4. Essena O'Neill
Essena O'Neill is an Australian blogger/Instagrammer/YouTuber. She mainly posts about her veganism but she has other unrelated posts as well. I love her outlook on life and I've learned so much about veganism from her even though I'm not vegan.
Her YouTube
Her blog

5. Brooke Saward
Brooke Saward is another Australian blogger/Instagrammer/YouTuber. Her blog is a travel blog where she writes about her solo travels around the world. I am so inspired to chase my dreams whenever I read one of her posts. You should definitely check her out, even if it's just to see her awesome travel photos!
Her YouTube
Her blog

6. Rachel Brathen
Rachel Brathen is a Swedish yogi who lives in Aruba. Her blog and Instagram are full of pictures of amazing beaches, yoga, and inspiration for how to live your daily life. Her posts always make me want to go live on a beach and just do yoga all day long!
Her blog

Who inspires you guys?

P.S. the tea of the day is Oprah chai ^_^