Monday, September 1, 2014

Random Updates and a New YouTube Video

Happy Late Labor Day, everyone!  I hope you all had a wonderful day with your families and friends.

I thought I would take some time to regroup and talk about something besides doll reviews. ;)  Sometimes I get so involved in cranking out as many reviews as I can that I forget to include a few more personal posts on the blog, too.

I know this is kind of cheesy, but because I'm covering so many topics, I'm going to label each one.  That way, you can see what I'm talking about at a glance and skip the topics you don't care about. ;)

Doll News:
Of course, I can't have a post that doesn't talk at least a little bit about dolls, so here are a couple bits of news from the doll universe to start us out. ;)

My mom had to make an out-of-town trip this past weekend and spotted some exciting things at Target and Toys R Us.

  First, the Hearts For Hearts Girls in their new packaging have been spotted!  The new packaging doesn't have the cardboard flap with the doll photos on the front.  Pictured above are Dell and Consuelo. 
No sign of the new dolls advertised at the Toy Fair yet, but hopefully they'll make an appearance soon.  Don't get too excited, though.  Mosi wasn't released until an entire year after her appearance at the Toy Fair!

There were also a lot of the new Strawberry Shortcake dolls from The Bridge Direct at Toys R Us (no picture, sorry).  My mom was able to spot the SSC Toys R Us exclusive set, called the "Berry Best Adventure Collection".  It includes Orange Blossom (yay!), Cherry Jam, Strawberry Shortcake, Lemon Meringue, and Raspberry Torte (double yay!).  They are in play outfits instead of their original outfits.  The set is around $40, which works out to about $8 per doll.  I have a hard time spending that much at one time on little dolls, but this set is definitely on my wish list. :)  I was able to find a picture on an eBay listing, which I pinned to my SSC Pinterest board HERE, if you'd like to see it. :)

So now that I got that out of the way, on to the more personal stuff. ;)

Blog Awards:
I'd like to apologize to my readers who nominated me (or Tess and Maggie) for blog awards this past summer.  Juliet XD, Kewpie83, and The Pony Tales Sisters, thank you so much for your nominations.  When I first started blogging, I used to be great at participating in the blog awards.  As I've gotten busier and more involved (and as the girls have gotten older), I've found it more difficult to set aside the time to participate, especially in the summer.  I'm sorry I dropped the ball on that, and I'll try to be better next time.  I appreciate all three of you and love reading your blogs. :)

I also just looked through my spam comments and found a few of your comments mixed in there, some from way back!  I know there was one Anonymous comment from my BeForever post, a comment on my Frozen song cover from last March by MyLittleMegara, and a comment from Farrah Lily, I think on my post about my family day.  Sorry those got sent to the wrong place!  They're published now. :}

Yikes, and Belle is totally behind on her blog comments!  She just got them published, but it may take her a while to get all of them answered.  (I think she had about twenty seven comments awaiting moderation.)  Since she's not actively blogging anymore, she keeps forgetting to check for new comments.  Sorry about that!  She asked me to apologize to all of you who have left comments there in the past several months.

I know several of you who have emailed me in recent months are still waiting for replies.  I'm still plugging away, but keep getting behind!!  I can get as many as ten emails a week, and most of them have questions which require some time and thought, so it can get a little overwhelming.  Rest assured that I will respond to each and every one of you as soon as I can.

Okay, I think that's enough apologizing for this month! ;)  Let's get on to some other stuff, shall we?

Facebook Fun:
In blog/Facebook news, I had two exciting things happen this past week.  First, Strawberry Reef did a Facebook post on the official Strawberry Reef Facebook page with a picture of the fan art I did for her this past summer.  Not only did she showcase my picture and link to my blog, but she even used my art as her new profile picture!! :D  I was over the moon!

Then, just a few days later, the official Shopkins Facebook page shared quotes and pictures from and links to my Shopkins blog review (you can click through the pictures to see them all).  What made it even more special is that they included quotes from each of my daughters' reviews.  The girls were so excited to be quoted. :)

It's so amazing to get some official recognition from these guys!  I can't express my thanks enough. :)

Weight Loss/Healthy Eating Stuff:
Let's see, in other news, the annoying weight loss/eating right battle rages on! Last May, I rejoined Weight Watchers.  My first day was rather terrifying.  I've always had a hard time dealing with failure, and going to my first meeting with the same leader and checkout person, but at ten pounds over my previous starting weight, was very humbling.  Part of me hoped they wouldn't remember me, and part of me was worried that they would remember me and would be disappointed in me for falling off the bandwagon.  But they didn't do either (as I should have known).  They were both so gracious, and my leader even shared a story of how she had to start Weight Watchers again several times to get back on track.  I was so grateful for their compassion and encouragement.

Throughout the summer, I've had both victories and frustrations.  I lost five pounds at one point, but have pretty much gained it all back.  One of my biggest struggles this past week was that Oldest Gal started soccer.  The practices run so late that it makes food preparation very difficult, and things that are quick and easy are not always the easiest to figure out points-wise. :{  As a newbie soccer mom, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.  (Any advice from more experienced soccer moms would be greatly appreciated!)

It's so frustrating to struggle with this so much.  Yet, God is gracious, and like all other areas of life, I find myself much more successful when I go to Him and ask Him for the grace to deal with this issue rather than blundering stubbornly on ahead on my own.  I'm a work in progress, and I've got to keep plugging away.  I also have to remember that looking like a knockout is not supposed to be my goal, but getting my eating under control and living in a healthy way is. ;)

Draft Posts:
I've attacked my draft posts and whittled them down to a more manageable level, which is a great relief.  Starting this month, I'll be making a conscious effort to get those published and caught up.

I think I've brought this up before, but Hubby's job is changing.  He's slowly moving up the ladder at his primary job, but it's one of those positions where he's still going to be part time for quite a while before he becomes a full time driver.  In addition to that, because of regulations on drivers and how many hours they can work (at ANY job), he's had to cut back on his hours at his second job.  This has been both a blessing and a struggle.  It's a blessing because he's had a lot more time off and has been able to spend it with me and the girls.  It's been so wonderful having him around more, especially after such a long, busy summer with his crazy hours.

Unfortunately, it's also been a challenge for our wallets.  We're making a lot less than we were before, and so we've had to be a lot more careful about what we spend.  The Lord has provided, and we've been able to pay all of our bills so far, but this month could be a little hairy.

This period of financial strain has actually been really good for me.  I recently came to the realization that whenever I'm stressed or emotional, I turn to either eating food or buying new toys to cope.  Neither one brings lasting happiness, and both can lead to more guilt and stress if not done in a planned, controlled manner.  Having to prioritize my purchases has made me think through them a lot harder, and has led to a lot less impulse buying (I'd gotten really bad at that for a while).  Remembering to find contentment and happiness in Christ instead of things has been a good lesson for me this past month. :}
One of the things I'm considering is looking into getting a account.  I don't want this blog to have a mercenary focus, but it would be great if I could make a little extra at something I'm already doing.  It would give me a little play money for doll-related items, and also help pay the bills (especially school tuition).  I've done a bit of research on the site, and it seems pretty legit, just rather new.  HERE is a link to their FAQ page, which explains what Patreon is and how it works.

I would most likely do the donation per month plan rather than per post to keep things simpler.  Have any of you had any experience with this site?  Would you be opposed to my trying it?  The nice thing about doing Patreon is that it would just be a small little clicky-link at the sidebar of my blog and that's it.  No big ads or other distractions on the blog itself.  You could completely ignore it if you wanted to.

I also wanted to ask if you guys had any ideas for some of the rewards I could do for the different donation levels.  I have a few ideas of my own, but would love some feedback from you as well.  I can't guarantee that all of your ideas would be feasible, but I'd love to get your input and see what would interest my readers the most.

Speaking at the Writers Meeting:
As I shared in an earlier post, I'm the speaker at my writers meeting this month, and will be speaking on blogging.  I'll be sharing the comments you left me earlier about what you look for in a blog, and will be sure to let you all know how that goes.  The meeting is Monday the 8th.

Conclusion and YouTube Link:
I think that's about all the randomness I have up my sleeve for now. ;)  In closing, I'll leave you with another YouTube video I recorded just for fun.  This was my third attempt on my second song of choice after five attempts at my first song choice.  I finally gave up on the first least for now. ;)  Hope you guys enjoy the video, which you can see HERE.

More doll reviews and such coming your way, so check back later this week! ;)


Meritre said...

To comments (and emails and stuff): Don't stress, I for my part will wait patiently. And tell that Belle, too! (Both of you will get a few more comments from me and my four little girls:)
Congratulations on your facebook stuff! :) It's so good to get some official recognition!
Just don't give up and keep going! I know it is easy to write that, but I hope it'll still help you a little with your eating right battle.
I can't wait to have news from your writers meeting.
I love this song, it's one of my favourites, and you have a lovely voice. And don't worry about that it is usually sung by a man, such swithches are not rare at all, for example I've heard Fantintes song, I dreamed a dream performed by a man and it was great! :)

Nina said...

I love the new H4H packaging! I think it's a little easier to see the dolls.

Good luck!:)

Barb the Evil Genius said...

I'm not a soccer mom, but as a dance mom, I sometimes have the same issues. Have you thought about a crock pot?

Mahogany1960 said...

I can’t wait for the new hearts for hearts dolls! I like the one with the curly hair and brown eyes! (not the one with the nose ring thing)
I really really want her! I can’t wait for them to come out! She’d make a great friend for Zelia!
-Mahogany1960, Samantha(AG), Zelia(H4H), and Olivia( a my life doll)

beastsbelle said...

Hi, Meritre! I think Belle got to both of your comments, so we're starting the responding process. ;)

Thanks, it was so exciting to hear from Shopkins and Strawberry Reef!

And thanks, I'll keep pressing on. ;)

I'm looking forward to speaking and hope I can offer some insight for my writing friends who are interested in blogging. :)

I had a lot of fun singing "Bring Him Home", especially since a lot of it is softer, so it's a good sound for my non-powerful voice. ;) Glad you enjoyed it. :)

I think so too, Nina. I'm thinking it might be a little cheaper for them to produce, too.

Barb, I've thought about a crock pot. I was kind of hoping to wait until a little later in the season to use one if possible. It's still getting up to 100 degrees here, so coming home to a hot meal is not exactly appealing. I may go for it if I get desperate, though, because it would probably help a lot. ;)

I hope the new dolls come soon too, Mahogany1960. :)

Steph said...

I don't know anything about Patreon, but I have worked online in one form or another for the past 11 years. Why shouldn't you get paid for the work that you do and the value you provide? Is pay only for people who suffer through their jobs? That's ridiculous. If any of your readership balks at a few dollars you might make, then they are expressing that your time and effort over the last few years is utterly worthless to them. If they leave? GOOD RIDDANCE.

beastsbelle said...

Thanks, Steph. I didn't really expect anyone to leave over my trying Patreon. I guess I was more interested in whether anyone had heard about the site and what they thought about it. I like the idea of having a way to bring in income without it being a major focus. :)

Have a great day!

Farrah Lily said...

Wow, your voice is amazing! You have such a lovely vibrato (is that a word?). Really though, very well done on the song! Your speaking voice is also really nice...I've been reading your blog for a while so it's nice to hear your actual voice!
I am also very glad to see some of the Hearts for Hearts gals back on the shelves. I actually saw Tipi on the TRU website the other day and ordered her in an instant, but got an email back saying she actually wasn't available so I'm not sure what that was about! Then I saw Rahel on Amazon at her normal price, but she sold out very quickly.
I totally hear you about finances...we are a one parent income/one parent stay at home and it's tough, that's for sure! Hoping your hubby is able to pick up more hours soon.
I say go for it regarding the Patreon account! You put a lot of thought into your posts and they are enjoyable to read, so why not earn a little extra to support your blog! Good luck :)

beastsbelle said...

Thanks, Farrah Lily. :) I'm glad you enjoyed the video. I always like hearing the speaking voices of my favorite bloggers, so I understand how you feel. ;) (Oh, and vibrato is a word, by the way.) ;)

I'm excited to see the Hearts For Hearts Girls releases, too. Things have been really quiet on their Facebook page for a while now. It's nice to know they're still in production. Sorry that you haven't had success finding one of them online. I hope you find one soon!

Thanks for your input on Patreon. It's nice knowing there's someone else out there in the "one-income-family" boat. :} I definitely think the site could be a nice way to earn some extra without being too distracting here on the blog. :)

Have a great week!