Top 10 Books of 2022

I have always loved words. They have helped me convey a lot over the years. I’ve always been a reader. When I was in elementary school, I would borrow Black Beauty, The Wizard of Oz, any of the Dear America books, and so much more and would binge-read them at night. I loved picking books that piqued my interest in any way. I fell out of love with reading in high school when I started having mental health struggles and was forced to read 4 classics every year. I love the classics, don’t get me wrong, but The Awakening by Kate Chopin was the worst book I’ve ever read. I had to write my final paper on it in my junior year. AWFUL. I didn’t read much for pleasure throughout high school and college and I didn’t get back into reading until 2020. Over the past three years, I’ve read substantially more each year, and in 2022 I read 100 books. Some were incredible, some were trash, and some made it to my favorite books of all time. Here are my top 10 books of 2022 that I’d recommend EVERYONE read someday.

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Wow. I picked this book up thinking it would be your quintessential cartoon cover novel and I was 100% wrong. This book had me a little bored in the first half, but then I was hit with the biggest plot twist EVER that had me wanting more for the rest of the book.

I absolutely ADORE Nick and Daphne and everything that is their relationship and I want another book that just shows them being happy [no plot just mundane life] and growing old [Think A Court of Frost and Starlight by SJM]. I’ve read two of her books now and got two more for Christmas. I’m so excited to go down this rabbit hole of Weinger books.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

I loved People We Meet on Vacation because how can you not, as a teacher, love a book with a teacher in it. I’ve been looking forward to this book since I saw the title. As a book lover myself, [and traveler which I assumed it would cater to based off of the cover], I knew this was the book for me.

This book combines my favorite things [literature, small towns, big sister core, breaking the 4th wall] AND my favorite tropes [coworkers, enemies to lovers, I hate everyone but you] all in one book. Henry did it flawlessly, I might add.

I relate whole-heartedly to Nora in almost every aspect of her life and saw myself through her throughout the whole book [where is my “I hate everyone but you” literary boyfriend hmmm??]. She puts family first and is a people pleaser through and through. Her ending made me start to reconsider a few life choices I had made personally to please others as well… we’ll see how my ending plays out.

My sole complaint [in the book and about Libby] is the use of the name Libby. I hear Libby and I hear the toddler sister in Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging and that’s all I thought of while reading about her.

In conclusion, Charlie Lastra can get it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If I can’t have him, I’m glad my book twin Nora gets to. 

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

I’m not even sure where to begin with this book. I have never been a cartoon cover romance reader until this year. I always stuck with gen fiction, classics, self-help, etc. BUT THIS BOOK. This book could convert anyone to read solely cartoon covers for the rest of their lives.

Piper starts off as this annoying rich girl who becomes IG famous by using the wealth of her stepdad. After a night in the slammer following a party Piper barely even remembers, her stepdad sends her [and her sister Hannah accompanies her out of pity] to the small fishing town of Westport, Washington, where her deceased father owned a dive bar. Brendan had my heart from the first page. The small-town fisherman trope I have decided is my new favorite and maybe I’ll be moving to Washington to live out this newfound dream of mine.

Piper and Brendan’s love story pulled at every heartstring. The constant struggle for Piper to figure out what’s truly important in her life: Hollywood or the man that’s treating her so well. Piper definitely needed a major attitude change, but she always put her sister first in everything. She learned to cook, clean, and revamp the bar, all to make sure her sister was proud and happy for her. Once Brendan finally got his head out of his ass and saw all that there was to Piper, there was no contest. There were definitely a couple of plot twists that I didn’t see coming but everything worked out in the end for me, and them.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Even though the book is called They Both Die at the End, I was CERTAIN that Rufus and Mateo were going to defy all odds and not die because I really didn’t think that Silvera would give away the ending on the cover and because I thought there was a way to not die at the end. I was sorely mistaken.

First, I love the writing in this book. POV chapters are my CRACK, and this was the cherry on top of the cake for this book. Rufus and Mateo remind me of Luca and Alberto in Luca where Alberto gets Luca to live in the same way that Rufus gets Mateo to live. Watching Mateo live his life on his last day while simultaneously falling in love with Rufus made my heart soar.

Mateo’s death was CRUEL. He deserved so much more than what he got. really thought they would die in each other’s arms in bed, and I was robbed of my happy-sad ending. I knew from the start that this was going to be a book that was going to break me and it sure as hell did that. The message of “Live each day to the fullest because you never know when it’s going to be your last” really stuck with me and I appreciate the message, I just wish that Mateo and Rufus didn’t have to die in order for me to get that message. 

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Before the Coffee Gets Cold is a quick and lovely read. It answers the questions that so many people think about, what would you change if you could go back in time? And in this book, four customers at a small café in Tokyo get to find out the answer to this question, with tons of stipulations. They have to sit in one particular seat [that is only open when the resident ghost gets up to use the bathroom, they cannot leave the café, and they must return to the present day before the coffee gets cold.

Four different visitors want to answer this old as time question. One wants to meet the daughter they never got to know, one wants to see their sister, one wants to receive a letter from their husband who in the present time, suffers from Alzheimer’s, and one wants to confront the man who left them.

I think about this question far too often. Who would I want to see or meet, what point in time would I go back to, and what could I screw up for the present day if I meddled with time? It’s a lovely book with a beautiful translation by Geoffrey Trousselot. I’m looking forward to reading Kawaguchi’s other books.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

This book gets so much hate, but I really wanted to read another Rooney book after reading Normal People and watching the Hulu series.

I read this book in a bit under five hours and for the first four hours or so, I was enamored. The characters, the plot, everything. I was SO shocked by all of the hate from the book. Then I read the last three chapters and it all made sense.

I love Rooney as an author. I love her characters [minus Felix trying to hit on Simon which was weird] and I love her style of writing in this book. My favorite types of books are those that change perspective, and the email chapters were great to get a mix of 1st and 3rd person in the book as well.

The ending felt so rushed and made no sense with the rest of the book. I won’t put any spoilers here but there were three tropes that were added haphazardly and were so unbelievable that I just could bare the end of the book. This book was about to be a comfort book and I might just reread it but stop at chapter 27, so I don’t have to endure the ending.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

If you’ve been on Goodreads, been to a bookstore, or talked to anyone about books last year, I’m sure you’ve heard of Sarah J Maas. She has taken over the Fantasy world [just like Colleen Hoover has taken over Romance…] and there are a lot of mixed reviews. I’m someone who has very mixed reviews on her as well. I don’t think she’s that great of a writer. Her books are overall pretty boring and there are 300 or more pages of world-building per book and the only actual plot takes place in the last 50 pages. However, she has great characters, and those last 50 pages are like being slapped in the face over and over and over again with plot twist after plot twist. I loved this series [her other series are meh but also must-reads and I can’t say why]

I love Feyre and Reysand and I recommend everyone read this series. It’s definitely Romantasy so if you’re into that, you’ll love it. Be prepared for a SLOWWWWW start but it gets better [400 pages later]

The Bee and the Fly: The Improbable Correspondence of Louisa May Alcott and Emily Dickinson by Lorraine Tosiello and Jane Cavolina

I bought this book thinking it was real. Obviously, I neglected the authors’ names at the bottom. But a book about the correspondence of one of my favorite authors? I had to have it. I devoured this book in a day. I love books with perspective and the letters to and from made my life. I love how the letters reflected both of their styles. Alcott wrote longer letters and Dickinson wrote shorter letters and usually included poems at the end. It was so convincing on both ends; it could have been real. You cannot convince me that Alcott and Dickinson didn’t know each other and didn’t correspond in some sense.

I applaud Tosiello and Cavolina for the amount of research that they must have conducted to make this book as good as it was. It was so hard to pick a favorite book but this is one of my all-time favorite books. While not very popular, my goal is to get this book on the map.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This was the first book of 2022 that made me cry. Monique Grant is having a rough time until she gets the job of a lifetime: to document Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo’s life and all her scandalous secrets, including the timeline of all of her seven husbands. Monique, while flattered is a little stunned. Why would this Hollywood icon choose Monique to document her life?

Monique spends days in Hugo’s home, listening to her retell her life story, from romance, friendships, her career, and forbidden love.  With the right amount of plot twists along the way, it becomes clear why Monique was chosen for this job.

I was enamored with Marilyn Monroe as a child and Hugo’s story had me thinking of her. It made me feel closer to the Hollywood star that I obsessed over for years. This sparked my love for Taylor Jenkins Reid, and I look forward to reading her entire work

I’m Glad my Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

Many people have this book tagged as “Funny” and “Lighthearted”; truthfully, I’m not sure we read the same book. It had me crying more than laughing, although I did chuckle a bit at all of her awkward stories about friends, relationships, and growing up.

There is something so comforting to me, a person with a nonexistent relationship with a mother due to a poor connection in the past, seeing someone who no longer has a relationship with their mother [for obviously different reasons ie. mine is living] heal from their relationship with their mother just as I am currently. It’s one of those “I’m not alone” moments. Amid “Happy Mother’s Day,” “Missing my mom today,” and “My Mother is my Best Friend” posts that always circulate my feed, there are books like these that remind me: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GOOD RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR MOTHER. And I’m not a failure for not having one either.

I relate to Jennette in a lot of ways, more ways than I thought possible relating to a child Nickelodeon star. While we started out with different relationships with our mothers, they ended the same [I think], and we are both still working through all of the trauma that that relationship had on us.

As someone who has struggled with various eating disorders, going from anorexia to BED and feeling the complete and utter loss of control just as Jennette did and having your mother comment on it every step of the way, I felt that. From being told that you’re too much, or too big, or not good enough, I felt that. From learning at an early age that people pleasing and being a mediator [until you can’t take it anymore] is easier than dealing with narcissistic tendencies, I felt that.

It’s bittersweet in a way, having this book that so perfectly lays out my relationship with my mother. My heart aches for Jennette in all the ways that we are similar, but I am also grateful to know it’s not just me and that there are others who go through the same things with their mothers, and that we’re not alone in this experience.

Thank you, Jennette McCurdy, for writing one of the best books I’ve ever read. Thank you for being so open, so real, and so raw, in every aspect that matters when telling a memoir such as this. 

What were your favorite books you read last year?


If we were having coffee [and hadn’t chatted in a few years]

I got an email confirmation from WordPress a few weeks back saying that my URL was being renewed for another year. I couldn’t help but find it silly that 20 or so dollars came out of my account, and I hadn’t posted since I last got that email in November of 2021. My last post was in July 2021, and it was a catch-up post about my life. I had just moved into my first-ever apartment [which I still live in] and that was that. Nothing since. I’ve logged in a few times but every time I try to put finger to the keyboard, I’m overcome with anxiety that I should be doing something else: work, cleaning, sleeping, working out, walking my dog, etc.  Why can’t I just do something [like read or write] because I want to? Why must there be a higher purpose? If I want to sit on my couch, watch Dance Moms, and write a little blog post for a few hundred people to read, then why can’t I??? My goal in 2023 is to take care of myself: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Blogging does a lot for my mental health, and it makes me feel like I have a bit of a purpose. So, here’s to writing at least one post a month. If I write more, fab, but 1 post a month is my goal in 2023 and that’s that. So, for the first time in over a year, grab a coffee, and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m actually no longer drinking coffee. I kind of stopped drinking coffee in October? I drink it rarely but not daily like I was before.  I really only drink tea now and I’m feeling good about this decision. I love Chai now!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I was diagnosed with PCOS last January. It’s been awful and I have so many more questions, but I love the online support community that surrounds PCOS. I’m learning so much about my body through it which is good, but it truly sucks that my body doesn’t function like others do.  I would love to start posting about it here 🙂

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m reconsidering my profession. I think I’ve fallen out of love with teaching. It’s heartbreaking and I’m not sure if it’s my school or teaching, but I think a career change is in my future [that and my master’s degree for sure]. I’m having preemptive guilt because I love my coworkers and my students and the Spanish language and culture, but I come home every day exhausted [not to be mistaken for the lack of caffeine I’m drinking haha] and depressed. I don’t want to lead a life like that :/ I’m not sure what’s in store for me next year but I really need to reevaluate my life and what’s important to me and see if teaching gets better for me.

If we were having coffee, I’d let it slide that I’m no longer vegan. WHAT?! Here’s the deal. I went vegan in 2015 when I was in the grips of an eating disorder. I used veganism as another method of starvation and ate protein bars, smoothies, and bananas, and called it a day. I maintained this veganism for 6 or so years, hating myself when I slipped up and ate something with milk in it. I made the decision for myself that right now, veganism is too restrictive for me. I am still vegetarian and will realistically never eat meat again. Once I work out all of my problems with food and body image and eating in general, maybe I’ll make my way back to being vegan, but right now, I need to not be as restrictive so I’m a happy little vegetarian at the moment and have been now for well over a year.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’m ready to leave Chicago. When I was little, I always dreamed of moving to LA or NYC. That dream is long over. I want a backyard and grass for my dog to play in. I want to be within 30 minutes of an airport but without the hustle and bustle of Chicago. I want to be able to find parking dammit! I want things to cost a little less money. I love Chicago and always will, but Chicago isn’t [and never was] permanent for me. I never pictured myself here post-grad and I’d love to be in a city that feels like home. I’m not sure when I’ll move but I do know that I’m not staying in my tiny little apartment forever [which is bittersweet].

I’m sure there is so much more but that’s what I have today. I miss writing dearly, and every time I do open a blank document, it feels right, like this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

Chit-chat soon,

Alicia ❤

21 in 2021

As part of my Happiness Project [more to come on that soon], part of the first task was to make a list of 21 things to do in the year 2021. I’ve done these before but normally they were huge goals. This year, I’m making a list of 21 things that I would like to accomplish [big or small]. I’ll check back on this list at the end of 2021 or earlier if I happen to finish them before then. Here goes my 21 things to accomplish in 2021.

Physical Health

  1. Complete a workout program [any length, any kind, just complete it. Start to finish]
  2. Figure out what is wrong with my stomach and get It fixed [remove a food, try a new diet, etc.]
  3. Find a Workout class I enjoy
  4. Cook one new recipe a month
  5. Get the COVID vaccine
  6. Eat less ‘added’ sugar
  7. Stay sober
  8. Complete Yoga with Adriene’s 30 day Breathe Yoga Journey

Mental Health

  1. Read 20 books
  2. Practice self-care daily [workout, reading, face mask, cooking, etc.]
  3. Keep my social media hiatus until June [or longer]

Spiritual Health

  1. Meditate or do yoga for one hour per week


  1. Figure out my next move- Grad school, Peace Corps, teaching in America, teaching abroad – who knows?
  2. If I choose working… Get a job for the 2021-2022 school year.
  3. Blog 50 times
  4. Write 20,000 words in my novel


  1. Take a week-long vacation with my sister
  2. Visit one new country [COVID pending]
  3. Learn something new – Calligraphy, Crochet, How to Play piano – who knows?


  1. Pick my one-word theme for the year
  2. Replace an item with something that makes more ‘sense’ at the time

I like the last one the most. My goals might change over the year and that’s okay!!! So, if that happens, I get a freebie change to use however I see most fit. I’m also hoping to blog about each of these as they are completed and I will add a new tab on my blog called “Happiness Project” soon for all posts related to my happiness project.

❤ Alicia

2020 year in review

Hi all. While 2020 wasn’t anything like we’d expected [myself the least I think], I do think 2020 overall was a good year. While a lot of crap happened this year, a lot of good things happened as well. Of course, most of these from the comfort of my 8ft x 10ft bedroom, but good things, nonetheless.

I started off the year with a few of my best friends from high school, my first-time celebrating NYE at a bar… oh how I took that evening for granted. I also went on my first ever real date [sorry for ghosting you Adam but you only ever communicated over snapchat… big red flag for me] just before heading off to another country for another semester.

I spent my last semester of college completing my student teaching in Greece. Visiting other countries like Bulgaria, The Netherlands, and Belgium. I met some amazing people, Greek, American, Spanish, etc. while I was there. It was one of the best [and most eye-opening] experiences of my life. That of course got cut to an abrupt stop on a Thursday in March and I was then shipped back home after sobbing in the Thessaloniki airport when I thought there were no more flights back to America.  Nonetheless, I made it back home, in one piece, and subsequently, I spent the next 9 months quarantining…

March, April, and May were spent by moping around, walking my dog, beating every video game I own, cleaning my room, graduating college [oh ou, oh yeah I forgot about this], and spending far too many hours scrolling through tik tok.

June and July were the first time I’ve seen real people since March [outside of my immediate family]. I celebrated my 23rd birthday with my parents and my sister at my favorite restaurant [thank god for it being on a corner and having outdoor seating] and then in July I visited some friends in Ohio and spent a week in Wisconsin at my cousin’s new home. July is also the last time I’ve had alcohol [and hopefully ever will].

August and September were a whirlwind of shipping my sister off to college, waiting for my visa for Spain to get approved, it finally getting approved, packing my life into a suitcase, duffle bag and my backpack until I finally left for Spain.

As we all know, October left me returning home from Spain for a multitude of personal reasons, which as much as I hate to admit, it was the best decision I could have made. October also consisted of me starting therapy and getting my first ever big girl job [Spanish Teacher at a K-12 school in Chicago]. I also deleted my social media which I still don’t use [and TikTok got the boot too].

November and December have been about getting into a routine of a 40 hour a week job while still taking time for myself and my growth. And now, here I am, sitting on my bed during my first vacation as a working adult, writing my first blog post in months.

2020 has been a year of personal growth, setting boundaries [for myself and others], and enjoying all of the little things.

I am hoping that 2021 is full of life, love, happiness, and goal achieving, no matter how big or small any of these are for me and for you.

See you all in 2021.

❤ Alicia

Orgain Protein Review

Disclosure: some of  the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no  additional cost to you, 
I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to treat my body as best as I can because I’m trying to love myself and part of loving yourself comes from treating your body right. I’ve been trying to eat a balanced amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. However, as a vegan, it can be a little harder to get in all of my protein daily, so, I usually have a protein shake or smoothie after my workout each day. I’m also trying to eat less processed foods which, unfortunately, a lot of vegan meats are high in chemicals and words I don’t know so, I was stuck in a rut with my diet for quite a bit.

I’ve used quite a few vegan proteins in my day however, there were none that I ever loved [either the price or the flavor] until this summer. While scrolling through vegan protein recommendations on a blog I was reading in April, I discovered Orgain Protein. Orgain protein is very plant-heavy and doesn’t have the chemicals that other proteins I’ve had have.

I’ve been using this protein for about five months and have loved every product I’ve tried. From their protein shakes, powders, and bars, everything is good!

My biggest thing when it comes to protein is taste. A lot of proteins don’t taste good and it can still be tasted when added to food. I’ve put the powders in smoothies and oatmeal and to my surprise, it tastes good!!! Depending on what flavor I use [PB or chocolate fudge are the powders I’ve tried and keep coming back to] it adds to the food I put it in and you can taste the chocolate or peanut butter in the food I’m eating. I also enjoy drinking their protein shakes plain or in a fruit smoothie with granola after a workout.

My favorite thing about Orgain protein is that there are tons of flavors and options for products. I love their creamy chocolate protein shake and their peanut butter chocolate vegan protein powder. The biggest thing I love about these is that they are soy-free [my stomach does not tolerate soy which is why I’m opting to eat less soy in my diet].

Overall, if you’re looking for a protein, in whatever form, I would recommend Orgain.

I loved them enough to become an ambassador. If you decide to give Orgain a shot, you can use my code: LIVINGOFFLEESH30 for 30% off your first order [they even had nonvegan protein and collagen]

Much love,

Why mental and spiritual health are just as important as physical health

I’ve become an absolute podcast fiend. I love having background noise in my life when doing mundane tasks like the dishes, cleaning, walking my dog, etc. and normally I would just play the TV. However, before I went to Spain, I started listening to podcasts regularly. I’ve learned so much from every episode and they’re so fun to listen to because it literally feels like you’re having a chat with the people on the podcast.

I’m a huge fan of The Health Code [Sarah’s Day and Kurt Tilse], A Whole Lotta BS [Brittney Saunders] and Let’s Do Life [Autumn Calabrese]. I also listened to part of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone [read aloud by some of the cast including Tom Felton and Daniel Radcliffe!] but that’s not what this post is about.

In one of the podcast episodes [I can’t remember which because this was a BS-before Spain- podcast I listened to] they discussed that people often focus too much on physical health, or too much on spiritual health or emotional health and neglect the other two. You can’t have one without the others. This is why people who go really hard in the gym but have terrible mental health [me] aren’t quite content with the results they get. However, when you focus equal time and energy to all three, they all work together and you yourself come together in a more wholesome form than when you just focused on one. I have always advocated for all three [to my friends not to myself] and I realized that I mostly only focus on one, which always differs depending on what season of life I’m in.

My goal for the rest of the year is to pour an equal amount of time, effort, and energy into my physical, mental, and emotional health so that I can be more whole.

  • In terms of physical health: filling my body with whole foods that make my body feel good [which unfortunately might mean cutting out soy partially because it doesn’t agree with my stomach], taking vitamins, and moving my body every day.
  • As for mental health: my social media detox, therapy, reading, writing, and getting a job [to have something occupying my time] top this list.
  • Finally, my spiritual health. I will be meditating, doing yoga, and journaling [manifesting]. I will also be more active in learning about my spiritual health. I recently have discovered that I’m more of a spiritual person. I always knew I wasn’t religious, but I think the universe plays a big role in everyone’s lives and I want to learn how to work with the universe not against it [something I’ve been doing for a while I think].

Please send me any and all podcast recommendations! I have a long way to go with the TBB podcast [there are over 200 episodes with each being roughly one hour long] but once I finish, I’m looking for some! I like more health and wellness focused podcasts but would be down for lifestyle, vegan, etc. As long as I learn at least one fun thing per episode that’s all I’m asking for.

Much love,

Alicia ❤

Making oat milk

Happy Monday, as most of you know, I’ve been very much into sustainable living and all that jazz. One of the things that can help you be more sustainable is by making household products yourself. I’ve made soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc. but I wanted to take a more foody approach this time so I made oat milk! You can make milk from anything these days but one of the most sustainable kinds of milk to drink is oat milk [it uses the least amount of water to make] and I had yet to find a brand or type I’ve enjoyed, so instead, I made my own. I scoured the internet for recipes and didn’t find one I particularly liked so in true Alicia fashion, I wung It and made my own recipe.

I wanted to share that this experience was far from the many photos I see on Instagram of people holding one of those antique milk jugs filled with oat milk and sipping away.

First and foremost, I would like to say that I would not recommend using a food processor. You HAVE to use a blender. I swear by my food processor and use it to make ice cream, smoothies, protein bars, etc. However, when it comes to blending liquid, do NOT use the food processor. I turned that bad boy on and there was oaty water all over the place. While my food processor is bigger than my blender, I should have just made multiple small batches in the blender rather than one big batch in my food processor because I wasted over half of it as it spewed all around my kitchen [and onto me].

Nevertheless, it did taste good and I’d make it again just in my blender because then hopefully the oats would grind up and mix in with the water a bit more than they did as well to make thicker and creamier oat milk [I want to put it in my coffee] which is what I was going for.


  • 1 cup of oats [use more if you want it thick and creamy]
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2-3 pitted dates [depending on desired sweetness]
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla [I prefer my dairy-free milk to be vanilla flavored. If you don’t, you can omit this or add another flavor]
  • Shirt or cheesecloth [I used a both in my process and found an old -but clean- shirt can be much more useful because no oats get through the shirt whereas when I used the cheesecloth, a little did get through]
  • Jar [I used a quart ball jar]


  1. Place all food ingredients in the blender and blend until white.
  2. Add more oats or more water until you reach your desired consistency
  3. Place shirt or cheesecloth over the jar and slowly add milk onto the cheesecloth/shirt until there is no more liquid in your blender.
  4. Enjoy!

It’s quite simple [when you know what you’re doing] so I went through the troubles of being an idiot so you all don’t have to!

Have you ever made dairy-free milk? How did it go?
❤ Alicia

Why I’m taking a social media break

I’m officially back in America and readjusting to everything I just left. I’m unpacking, spending much needed time with my dog [I always forget how much of a de-stressor she is until I am so stressed out that I’m in tears] and I’m slowly getting into a routine.

Something that I think is so toxic to me at this point in my life is social media. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and I’m a very black and white person so I’m either on social media for 1912912 hours a day or none at all. While I do enjoy Instagram for keeping up with my friends’ lives and Twitter is great for the news and a good laugh, I really can’t take it right now. I spend hours upon hours scrolling through social media and I really can’t stand it because it’s the biggest waste of time [I’m looking at you TikTok].

I’ve decided to take a bit of a social media hiatus [I’m keeping Snapchat for the time being because I don’t look at stories, I just send a picture or two to the same seven people every day and get on with my life but that might change… who knows? I’ll also keep TikTok because to me that’s not social media and I just watch Draco Malfoy, Harry Styles, and Robert Pattinson compilations so how bad is that? Both of these apps will be getting a screen time limit and the password will be chosen by my sister because it is far too easy to enter that screen time password and keep watching TikToks for hours upon hours not that I’m speaking from personal knowledge 😉 ]

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will be gone for a while. I did it almost four years ago for a whole summer and I think it was beneficial for my mental health. I also read and wrote a lot more, worked out more, was present, etc. I don’t think social media is the worst thing in the world by any means BUT I do think a hiatus can be an amazing thing every so often.

And of course, I’ll still be blogging as much as I can. I’m hoping therapy can spark a bit more motivation in me than what I’ve had.

Have you ever done a social media detox/hiatus? How’d it go?
❤ Alicia

Beginnings and Endings

Hi all. If you remember me talking about my BIG move to Spain to teach at a university here, well… it happened. I’m currently sitting in my Airbnb in Ciudad Real, Spain as I type this. I’ve been here for one week, and I’ve fallen in love with this city.

I’m not typing this post as means of a WOOHOO I’m in Spain… quite the latter. Unfortunately, I will be heading home. I don’t really want to get into why because I’ve been stressing for the past few days about it. I’m heading home and my life in Spain will have gone just as quickly as it came.

Although I’m very disheartened that this journey of mine is coming to a rather abrupt halt, I’m seeing the good in this whole situation and there are actually a lot of upsides to this situation I’ve found out.

  • I get to see my dog on WEDNESDAY. She is going to be so confused as to why I cried about leaving her for over an hour [I spent almost every waking minute with her since I started quarantining on March 18th… give me a break] and now I’m home so quick.
  • I get to see my aunt’s dog on Wednesday as well. My aunt got surgery and is going to be in rehab for about a month so until then, TWO dogs.
  • I get to make more money than I would have while in Spain. No matter what I do, I’ll be making more money in America per paycheck than per month in Spain [not that I cared about that, I wanted this experience more than any amount of money].
  • ~Hopefully~, I get to take a trip to Europe with my sister next summer. She’s always wanted to go to Paris, and I have a hankering to go to London and all of the UK, so hopefully, we’ll be able to head over there for a few weeks. We can take the HARRY POTTER tour, go to Harry Styles’ bakery, and see the Louvre. Also, she’s my personal photographer so the Instagram content from that trip would be AMAZING.
  • I get to VOTE. I left for Spain before early voting started in my county and I was unsure if my mail-in ballot would make it to Spain and back to America in time once I got my address. However, when I get home, I’ll head straight to the early voting polls and get to ~hopefully~ vote out 45.
  • I am going to be able to focus on me. I probably won’t be able to get a full-time teaching job [since the semester is halfway over] nor do I want one in the condition America is in right now as to not risk getting COVID in a room with 25 germ spreaders. I’ll probably find something part-time [retail, babysitting /e-learning help, substitute teaching, etc.] and I will have plenty of time to take care of myself. I will be going to therapy [probably twice per week to start], exercising, eating right, reading, writing, and doing everything that I love.
  • I might write a novel! I have always wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo and because COVID will most likely still be terrorizing America next month, I should have enough time to do it. I also have a great idea [or at least I think I do] so once I create some characters, figure out the rest of the plot, etc. NaNoWriMo here I come.

Finally, while talking to my sister last night [amidst my mental breakdown from this hectic week I’ve had] and she said I looked sad and emotionally drained. Honestly, I am. I don’t think it’s just from this week but from everything built up that I’m finally starting to recognize. It’s very easy to put your mental health off in college because it’s “cute and quirky” to be depressed and to be anxious and to be so stressed you cry. When you’ve graduated… girl, go to therapy. Also, this past week I’ve been alone most of the time. COVID is preventing me from going out and meeting people and every ‘tourist’ activity I want to do is also closed so I’ve been spending a lot of time in my hotel room, pent up with just my thoughts. And let me tell you, my brain needs a lot of help at the moment. I love traveling but my sister told me that I use traveling to put off getting mental help. It’s true [I hate it when little siblings are correct]. I live off that travel high long after I return and when I get back into my head aging, away I go on a new trip. So, while I wish I could have been living in Spain and working on me, I think for myself [present and future] I’m going to benefit the most from being home for the foreseeable future.

I think I’m meant to live in Spain for an extended period… I do. However, this year just isn’t it. I will return one day to Spain but it might not be this year or even next year. Whether I return to Spain as a tourist or to teach again, I know I’ll be back one day. J

España, te quiero mucho y regresaré un día.
❤ Alicia

My flight essentials

Happy Tuesday. Now I know most of us aren’t doing much [if any] travel these days, so keep this bad boy saved for when you’re flying next. I, however, will be making another trip to Spain in the coming weeks. I was originally supposed to leave in six days, however, my visa has still yet to be approved so I’ll be heading there before the end of the month if plan B goes smoothly.

Something I’ve become quite good at is flying. I’ve loved flying ever since I was little, however, when I first started solo traveling [flying to and from San Diego when this blog was just a baby] I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I would bring so much stuff in my carry on “just in case” that I never ended up using // needing. After 20 or more [ I have no idea if I’m being honest] solo flights around the US, South America, and Europe, I’ve come to know what things are essential for your flight and what can stay at home or in your checked baggage. Here are my top 5 carry on flight essentials.

  1. Snacks – This will forever and always be my #1 flight essential. I’m going to count gum in this category too because I cannot and will not fly without a pack of gum for take-off and landing. For super long overseas flights or for flights with layovers, bringing snacks from home is always the better and cheaper option. Food and drinks in airports are EXPENSIVE and depending on the country’s exchange rate, just not even worth it. Because of this, I always bring an empty water bottle [to fill up after security] and a few snacks [some sweet, some savory] such as dried fruit, nuts, crackers, etc. anything to fill me up and get me to where I’m going. I find that when you have dietary restrictions such as myself, it’s even more important that you bring these on flight snacks. Just because they offer a vegan or gluten free or whatever meal option, does, BY NO MEANS, mean it will be a good one.
  2. Chargers – My favorite thing about longer flights is that they normally have a charging port on the seat back in front of you. My flight to Greece was 11 hours and I’m stupid and forgot to check in 24 hours in advance which meant a middle seat for me. It was miserable and I couldn’t get comfortable enough to take a nap. Therefore, I spent the 11 hours watching 6 movies, playing games on my phone, listening to music etc. When I switched my time to watching movies, I plugged in my phone so that it wouldn’t die during my layover or before I got to my new apartment.
  3. A book // E-reader – Not everyone loves reading on airplanes, but I personally do. I try to grab my computer and write on flights normally but not all planes have enough room to have a laptop out and elbows jabbing when you’re typing. I always carry a book in my bag for those tight spaces on airplanes and when you can’t get Wi-Fi at your layover airport [or if you have a 4-hour layover and only are allowed 1 hour of Wi-Fi … thanks Istanbul]
  4. Headphones – A lot of longer flights will gives you headphones to watch movies, listen to music, etc. They almost always suck. I always bring two pairs of headphones [my AirPods for my phone and a pair that works for the traditional headphone jack] so that I can enjoy movies on the plane and have headphones that I can actually hear out of both sides.
  5. A ‘just in case’ bag – this is 100% the most important in my opinion. The last thing you want to happen is for your luggage to get lost and you’re without a toothbrush, underwear, or deodorant. In my carry on, I always carry a bag of miscellaneous items I might need on the flight or after if my luggage is lost. This usually consists of: a hairbrush, bobby pins, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, travel shampoo + conditioner, tissues, soap, lotion, hair ties, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, etc. I then have an extra outfit [usually just bra, underwear, socks, t shirt and leggings] in case something happens to the clothes I’m wearing, or my luggage gets misplaced.

Obviously, each person’s carry on will depend on you and your interests, but I have to think that these items are pretty much universal, and anyone can and will need one or all of these at some point while travelling.

❤ Alicia