Friday, September 25, 2020

A perpetual novena? And misadventures with Zoom...

Hello all, and I hope that your week is wrapping up nicely. 🤗 I feel stressed, no big surprise, but hanging in. Things at both schools are still going well, and I guess (?) I've adjusted to working from home. It helps not having the kids here to entertain at the same time, to be sure. But the other side of the coin is that I'm lonely. I like going to my office, and seeing my colleagues. I miss them, and I miss the students. But we've been told to be prepared to not be back on campus for another year. I have to admit that I didn't take that news so well. I've felt down all week. This is all just so unnatural. I'm doing the best I can.

To top it all off, I started my teaching this week, and this year it's all on Zoom. Nothing like demoralizing bouts of screenshare fails and non-responsive audio to make a girl feel special. :-0 I did not enjoy it, to be sure. I will say that the second class went much better than the first. I got the sound issue fixed, and I experimented more with the screensharing ahead of time to troubleshoot the problems I was having and became much more adept with it. It still feels weird to only communicate with people through a screen, but it was a bit less bad. For now, I think that's as good as it's going to get.

To cheer me, I've been novena'ing up a storm. My piece over at Catholic Mom this month is about potential novenas for fall/winter 2020 (feast days that don't fall on Sundays being my criteria), and I'm pretty much planning to start a new one anytime I finish one up. I'm currently praying the St. Jerome novena, and I ended up adding in the archangels. I have the Pray novena app on my phone, and it sent me a notification about that one, so I figured, what the heck? It pushes the prayers to me every day, so it makes that one incredibly easy. If you do not already have that app, I highly recommend it! After we wrap up St. Jerome/archangels, I will be wanting to start a new one. I'll let you know which one I decide on! If you have a recommendation for early October, please let me know!

 I wanted to pray the St. Therese novena, and maybe *start* on her feast day rather than conclude on it. Thoughts? Or maybe we could select another from the list. Let me know what you think, along with how you're doing, in the comments!

Friday, September 18, 2020

St. Jerome novena starts Monday! And a few other prayerful life musings...

 


Hello friends and happy Friday! I'm so excited that we're starting our first community novena of the fall/winter season this year with St. Jerome on Monday! All of the deets and prayers are in the special page that I created for the novena, also linked at the top of the blog (desktop) or as an option on the drop down menu (mobile). St. Jerome is the patron saint of librarians and biblical scholars, and is also a great patron for students. If you have any special intentions that you would like the community to pray for, please leave them in the comments! :-)

For my part, I've been doing a lot of praying for my kids as their first full week of school wraps up. So far so good, but it's early days yet, for sure. Anne, in particular, seems SO HAPPY to be back to school, and she really loves her teacher and classroom this year. I don't even know how she's in 4th grade, as she still seems like my little baby to me. 😢 But during the spring and summer after everything shut down, I have never seen Anne so distressed and downright lethargic. And for a 9 year old, that is very worrying. Now, she gets up in the mornings very content and ready to get on with her day, whereas before she was sleeping way too much, and just languishing on the couch in her free time. With both Mike and I working from home, it was difficult to divide our time between attending to those reponsibilities, and also trying to keep the kids engaged and off of their electronic devices. It was such a nightmare, it's hard for me to even think back on it now. Needless to say, I'm so happy to see her thriving again! And Henry seems content, too, albeit in a quieter way, as teenagers are wont to do. He had an easier time adjusting to remote school back in the spring, as would be expected given the difference in their ages. But still, he's up and ready to head to school in the mornings now, in a good mood. It's heartwarming to see. 

In other big news, I am back to IN PERSON dance class again, after 6 months of online only, and I cannot fully express how good it feels. I'm grateful that I got to continue my training and learning in the midst of the nightmare that was the lockdown, plus I got to study with some internationally known instructors that I normally would not have been able to access due to geographic location. So those things were good, but still, it was *not the same* and there can be no meaningful level of correction in a group online-only setting. Not to mention how much I missed my troupemates and dancey friends. The disruption to normal socializing that this virus has wrought has been brutal for my mental and emotional health, as I'm sure it has for everyone. So I'm very, very happy to be getting back into a dance routine that involves rehearsing in the physical studio! 

Performing is still pretty unknown right now, which is an enormous bummer. As I've gotten older, I have come to treasure performing as an important part of my identity. I've been in some online shows, and while I'm SO grateful for those opportunities, those are also not the same as performing in front of a live audience. There is no energy to feed off of, no connection to make with other humans while you dance. I'm hoping small parties will be happening again soon, but the restaurant scene has just been hit so hard by all of this, I don't know when that will come back. The capacity limits plus the money they have lost make that unlikely for quite some time. We'll see, I suppose, I'm just trying to think positive. And we support our local restaurants with takeout orders every single week!

How is everyone else doing this week? It does actually feel like a new leaf is turning over this fall, yes, even in the midst of our larger global situation. What new things are you embarking on this September? :-) And don't forget to leave prayer intentions in the comments! 

Friday, September 11, 2020

Planning seasonal novenas...

Well, my kids are both at school as I write this. And I'm feeling pretty weepy. 

😭

They're both happy and secure. It's going very well. I was afraid that the adjustment this year would be much more daunting than usual because of the way things so abruptly closed back in March. But this is the best start to the school year we have ever had. Both seem happy to be back to a routine, and like their teachers. One day at a time, but I'll take it. I'm still feeling emotional, but that's just me. :-0

Given all of this, our novena chat (that I mentioned last week) couldn't possibly be better timed. 

   

What I'm going to do this year is pray 1-2 novenas every month this fall and winter. I'm going to start listing them in a separate page on the blog again, so that anyone who would like can see which one I'm planning to pray, and can join in if they like! It will be the tab listed on the far right if you're using a larger computer or laptop, or will be the last item on the drop down menu list via mobile. For September, I am planning to pray the St. Jerome novena. This will begin on Monday September 21st, and finish up on his feast day of September 30th. St. Jerome is the patron saint of librarians, biblical scholars and students! All of the information and prayers will be up on the St. Jerome page.


After we finsh that one, I think I will pray the St. Therese novena, beginning *on* her feast day of October 1st, to break things up a bit. ;-) And I'll post a new page with her information on it as soon as we finish up St. Jerome! Sound like a plan?

Are you joining in the St. Jerome novena? Or have other novena plans this fall? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, September 4, 2020

A reading list as we head into Labor Day weekend...

Happy early September all, and somehow we are moving into the weekend that heralds the unofficial end of summer. I will grant, this was the most emotionally exhausting summer of my life, and I'm thinking you all feel the same. I will admit to feeling a bit discouraged at this time. I'm trying not to dwell on it too much because there is literally nothing I can do about it that I'm not already doing. And getting myself re-upset is not helping me or anybody else. So I'm trying. 

I've been reading more, and as a librarian and lifetime lover of books, I realized how much I had gotten away from it since the pandemic started, yet how valuable it is for my mental health. It's like my brain has a harder time shutting real life down now so that I can escape to my happy cozy fiction worlds. I've been making more of an effort to do that, and keeping up with these little reading lists here on the blog is motivating me to keep moving through my Kindle queue (which is CONSIDERABLE :-0). 

So this week I finished Botched Butterscotch (which was a novella, so super short! Very cute too, involved a theft, not a murder), and embarked on the next book in the series (the newest installment!), which is Marshmallow Malice:


Caught in a sticky situation . . . 

With Juliet Brody and Reverend Brook tying the knot in Ohio’s Amish Country’s most anticipated nuptials of the year, Bailey King is determined to do everything in her power to make the event a sweet success. Except midsummer heat waves and outdoor ceremonies don’t mix, and an exasperated Bailey soon finds herself struggling to fulfill bridesmaid duties and keep her stunning marshmallow-frosted wedding cake from becoming a gooey disaster. Then much to everyone’s shock, the entire ceremony crumbles when a guest drops dead, and the cause isn’t sunstroke . . . 

Turns out, the uninvited victim came equipped with lots of dirt on the devout reverend’s hidden past. As Reverend Brook tops the murder suspect list on what should have been the happiest day of his life, Bailey and her sheriff’s deputy boyfriend vow to clear his name. Can the duo boil down a series of baffling clues before Juliet considers her marriage a bad mistake—or the killer whips up another deadly surprise? 

Recipe Included!

This book is just delightful. I love the setting and the characters. I'm already about 25% of the way through! 

Also this week, I have a new download, which is Grilled for Murder (a Country Store Mystery)


Robbie Jordan may have had reservations about the murder victim, but she still needs to turn up the heat on a killer if she wants to keep her new restaurant open for business . . .

In the charming small town of South Lick, Indiana, Robbie has transformed a rundown country store into the runaway hit Pans ’N Pancakes. But the most popular destination for miles around can also invite trouble. Erica Shermer may be the widow of handsome local lawyer Jim Shermer’s brother, but she doesn’t appear to be in mourning. At a homecoming party held in Robbie’s store, Erica is alternately obnoxious and flirtatious—even batting her eyelashes at Jim. When Erica turns up dead in the store the next morning, apparently clobbered with cookware, the police suspect Robbie’s friend Phil, who closed up after the party. To clear Phil and calm her customers, Robbie needs to step out from behind the counter and find the real killer in short order . . .

This is just $1.99 right now for Kindle, and I found out about it via the Kindle Daily Deals newsletter, so if you're not signed up for those already, you may want to consider doing so. ;-) I love finding new books for less than $2!

Are you reading anything new this week? Have any plans for Labor Day weekend? I'm planning to plot our fall community novenas next week, so stay tuned for next Friday's post on that topic! :-)

Friday, August 28, 2020

Cozy wraps and cozy mysteries as we move towards fall...

Happy Friday everyone, it's hard to believe that it's the end of August, but here we are. I wish I could say that I felt like September will be better, but I don't think that it will, and all we can do at this point is keep up our spirits and sense of humor about it! :-0 The semester starts at the university for which I work on Monday, but all of my classes will be totally online. I'm actually rather sad about it, but it is what it is. I miss my colleagues so much, and I'll miss the students. At least I'll be home (working, but still home) if the kids need to be home from school. We'll try focusing on the positives!

I've definitely been working on lots of happy distractions lately, and I hope you have as well! My autumn quilted bird bag from Bradford Exchange arrived this week, and looking at it immediately lifts my spirits:

Just look at those cute blue jay crests!

And, as ever, I've been crafting. This week, I finished a wrap for my good friend Emily, and this pattern is just super cozy!

Pattern is Perfect Pockets Shawl

Unfortunately, it's been so humid that I was sweltering when I took this photo :-0 but soon it'll be time for cozy wraps, and now Emily will be all set! If you crochet, even if you're a beginner, you'll be able to make this wrap! YouTube is our friend, and I had to watch a video on the wrapped stitch that appears in this pattern, but after that I was good to go. :)

I'm also back to my cozy mysteries, and becoming absorbed in the universe of the Amish Candy Shop series by Amanda Flower is exactly what the doctor ordered right about now. There are a number of books in the series, and my current position is with this Mother's Day themed installment:


After this is the very newest book, "Marshmallow Malice," so let the candy shop antics reign on! 

This week I was also chatting with my friend Irena, who mentioned this book:

...which immediately went onto my Amazon wish list for Christmas, hee hee. Book recommendations always stimulate my mind and creativity! Do you have any new books that you've read recently, or that are in your queue, to add to our list? Pop them into the comments! :-)

Friday, August 21, 2020

Early fall novenas, and knitted gnomes and garments that are no longer a mystery!

Hello all, and I hope that you are having a wonderful week! It's a week of novenas on my end, and I have to say that I am enjoying it so, so much. I finished up Our Lady Undoer of Knots on Sunday, and I think I already have the answers to the questions I was praying about (not necessarily the ones I was hoping for in all cases, but answers are answers, yes?). I also started St. Monica on Tuesday. I had forgotten that her feast is in late August, and I absolutely love this one! I pray for conversions of heart back to faith, and it always gives me so much solace. Coming up in the early part of autumn, we have the archangels (Sept. 29th), St. Jerome (patron saint of librarians, Sept. 30th), St. Therese (Oct. 1st), and guardian angels (October 2nd). It's a wealth of riches! I think I'm going to start updating and publishing the novenas tab on the blog again, with what novena I'm currently praying and the link to the relevant prayers. Look for that to start again in September if you'd like to follow along. :-)

Speaking of prayer, both of my kids are slated to go back to school full time in early September. Since they go to Catholic schools, the lower numbers of enrolled kids means that they can accommodate the health mandates more easily. My kids really miss their school environments, and so I'm happy it worked out this way, although I'm worried about how it will go and if it will last. All we can do at this point is pray for the best! My teaching this semester will be mostly, if not all, online, which I'm a little sad about, but we'll get there.

To distract myself, I've been crafting, as per my pandemic usual. ;-) The mystery gnome that I was knitting is no longer a mystery, so meet the new member of the family!

Pattern is Nice to Gnome You

He is currently frolicking with our house plants, and I'm just so pleased with how he came out! This is my first gnome, and apparently there is a whole gnome crafting universe out there, WHO KNEW?! I am totally into this now. This designer specializes in knitted gnomes. Did you ever? And her next gnome MKAL (mystery knit-along) will take place during Advent.

😱

I literally cannot wait! I'm so excited for this!

I also finished the red cotton top that I was knitting for my mother-in-law:

Pattern is Kelda Tee

I kinda wanted to keep it :-0, but I managed to resist. But not before purchasing yarn to make one for myself in another colorway. ;-)

I'm also hard at work on my Advent doily:

Pattern is Wispweave Oval

This one is just SO PRETTY. The pattern is definitely a bit challenging for a beginning doily crocheter like myself, but so far the progress is good, albeit slow. I just love the different textures that this design is forming! I'm thinking I can use it for under our Advent wreath. The border is going to be silver. 😍

Do you have any novena plans coming up this fall? What is your September looking like? I know it doesn't look like it usually does for any of us! I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Friday, August 14, 2020

Knitting mystery gnomes, and other crafty delights...

Happy Friday everyone, and I hope your week was smashing! Well, I know a lot of things are decidedly NOT smashing right now, at least not in a good way. ;-) But I think things are slowly getting better, and we've gotta hang on to that positivity!

*virtual high five!*

Thank you for all of the lovely comments about Anne's 1st Communion! Even though the backdrop was not one I could have ever foreseen, it was a beautiful day, and I truly thought of all of you and your encouragement on that day! It just meant the world to me. 💗

This week I have been CRAFTY, and I've been promising a crafty post! Here we go. 😎 I've been working on a cotton top for my mother-in-law, and I'm almost finished!

Pattern is Kelda Tee from the Knit Picks Equinox Cotton Collection

Just have to finish the second sleeve, pickup and knit the neckline, and weave in what feels like 533 ends despite it all being a single color. :-0 This was a quick knit, and I highly recommend this collection! All of the designs are just stunning.

And DOILYS, who isn't excited about this one?! I've been promising that I would show the comparison photo of the 2 doilys that I made in the same pattern, one with size #3 thread, and one with size #10, and here it is:

Pattern is Simple Beginners Doily

Size #10 is the more traditional of the two for crochet thread, and it lends a less chunky feel for sure, but I have to say that I absolutely LOVE the larger #3 thread. It was a bit easier for me to see and work with, too. I've added a few more colors in that size to my collection. 😇

Going to make an Advent doily!

And in other exciting doily news:

Pattern is Ariel Snowflake

My first snowflake! This is the #10 thread, and it was HARD. 😂 But I'm glad I persevered, I'm happy with how it turned out! Although our snowflake friend does seem to be leaning into the breeze a bit, but hey, nobody's perfect. ;-) I'm thinking of making these as coaster sets for Christmas gifts!

But the thing I'm most excited about this week is this in-progress guy:

Nice to Gnome You MKAL

Yes, I'm knitting a gnome! My very first gnome, to be exact. I'm in love with him, don't tell Mike. 😂 And, AND it's a MYSTERY GNOME! Have you ever heard of anything quite this fun before? I'm betting you have not. ;-)

Every 2 days you receive a clue with instructional videos, and I am finding this process to be just an absolute kick. I'm currently working on clue 5, which is pretty far in advance of this photo, because I want to keep the mystery alive for anybody who may want to mystery gnome -along with me. :-0 I cannot even tell you the lift this has given me. Mystery gnomes, did you ever? Every pandemic needs a mystery gnome!

All right, how was your week? I finished up the Our Lady Undoer of Knots novena today, and it was absolutely delightful. I'm starting St. Monica on Tuesday, anybody want to join me?! Let's leave our intentions in the comments!

Friday, August 7, 2020

Making a lovely milestone out of pandemic challenges...

Happy August, everyone! I was going to chat about crafty things today, after updating everyone about Anne's First Communion, but I decided to save crafts for next week, and devote this whole post to the big day last Sunday, and to assorted other Catholic, uplifty things. 

*heart*

As I mentioned last week, I was grateful that Anne's school parish was able to reschedule First Communion this summer, and that we wouldn't have to wait any longer. But let's just be honest, the current coronavirus restrictions are a bit of a bummer. We understand why they are there, but any type of milestone this year has had a depressing cloud hung over it's head, and it's not always easy to deal with. BUT, Anne was able to be with 7 of her classmates at the mass, and also have her grandparents there, which was absolutely awesome. Dianne noted last week in the comments that focusing on the positives really helps, and she's right! There were a lot of positives about the experience. 

Anne in her dress and veil before mass!


The day was very humid (and we don't have air conditioning! :-0) but we managed to yank on our dress clothes fairly successfully and made it to the church on time. There were 8 first communicants, plus other members of the parish attending the noon mass. The mass itself was lovely, we were so glad to have our parents there, and there was a professional photographer present to capture a few moments with each young communicant, which made me very happy. The children were all able to receive the Eucharist for the first time in a beautiful and reverent fashion.

Social distancing photo op with Father

Afterwards, we were able to have our parents back with us to our house for pizza and cake, and it all went very well. Even though it wasn't the completely traditional experience I was looking forward to, I'm grateful that Anne has reached this milestone and that it went without a hitch. I think her preparation suffered a bit because of the pandemic, and I'm looking forward to working with her this fall and Advent to grow deeper in her faith. 

In other Catholic news, the Our Lady Undoer of Knots novena started yesterday, and I'm praying it with regards to discernment for the fall and the kids' schooling. I'm linking it here if you would like to join in! It'll wrap up on the feast of St. Maximillian Kolbe. 😍 If you have intentions for the novena, feel free to leave them below and we can all pray for each other!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Some musings as Anne makes her First Communion...

Hello all, and happy end of July!

*virtual hug*

July is my least favorite month of the year in terms of the heat, so I'm rather looking forward to August. What I'm *not* looking forward to in August is the school re-opening plan nightmare that is already unfolding and that is making me super anxious. But that is a worry for another day. :-0

I'll have another crafty post next week (with some exciting updates; 2nd completed doily and thread size comparison! Completed Steelers socks!) but this week I have 1st Communion on the brain, and thought I would wax reflective a bit. :)

Anne is my baby, and it's hard to believe that this will be my last child with whom to share this sacrament. I can't help but feel chagrined that it's happening during this terrible year that is 2020. There was no mommy and me retreat, no May Crowning at the school afterwards, no rehearsal at the church with the banner displayed that we made together, not even a completion to her preparation alongside her classmates. Even though I know that these things are not more important than receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, I can't help but mourn them. I won't have another opportunity to share any of those things with my own child. This has been a year of emotional losses such as these, and while there are other losses that are much, much worse, these still do incite a sense of sadness.

But I'm grateful that the school found a way, within the current public health mandates, to still offer the mass and sacrament, and to do so relatively quickly. I was fearful that the kids would have to wait until the fall, or perhaps into the next calendar year, before they would be able to receive. And we will have the opportunity for beautiful photographs, and to have Anne's grandparents all there. She'll be attired in her spectacular lace dress and veil, and she picked out sparkly rose gold sandals (there's a definite St. Therese vibe to the get up ;-)). We'll be able to celebrate with our small family group back at our home afterwards, and that is bringing me a lot of comfort. So I'm focusing on those things.

Anne is at an age where "church is boring," and I'm hopeful that receiving the Eucharist will begin to turn her heart towards a more mature (relatively speaking) form of faith. I'm praying about this non-stop, and her recent feast day makes me feel that God will answer this prayer. If you would all pray for her too, especially at noon EDT this Sunday, I would be so obliged!

I'll let you know how it goes next week! Until then, let's move forward into August with hopeful spirits. I'm also going to be penning a Catholic Mom article next week. You have any topics you'd like to see me write about? Chime in in the comments!

Friday, July 24, 2020

The kids gain a small sense of normalcy, and summertime crafting continues...

Hello all and I hope that your week has gone well! Ours here actually gained back a bit of a sense of normalcy with the kids having actual activities to do, yay! Henry has been working at his Catholic high school to earn money towards his tuition, and Anne has had Girl Scout camp, both virtual and one day of in-person. She's also back to her martial arts classes, in-person, and this is all helping her so much, as she was struggling with everything just being online. It's been more running around, ferrying the two of them places, but it has felt SO GOOD for them to have real socializing with their peers, and to see more smiles on their faces this week.

In other good news, twin baby robins have hatched in our backyard! We've been having such a wonderful time watching them grow. No pictures, as Mama Robin is very protective and is never far from the nest. Anytime we're back there, she's giving us the hairy eyeball from a perch atop the power lines. 😂 She and Father Robin also "escort" any other bird or squirrel out of the yard that happen to wander in. :-0 It's provided hours of entertainment out our back window, to be sure.

I've also been continuing my crafting quests, and made great progress this week. My mother-in-law's summer top is coming along beautifully:


I kind of want to keep it for myself, but I'll try and restrain. ;-) I'm on the second of Mike's Steelers socks:


And Dianne asked about how my crochet thread was working out, and so I rembered to post a photo of my very first doily!

Pattern is Simple Beginner's Doily, and is available for free!
I'm very pleased with how this came out! I did use one of the skeins that is size #3 thread (thicker than the others are at size #10), sort of a training wheels approach, if you will. Now I'm going to make one with the thinner thread. But this looks great on our table! Really brightens things up. I've never been particularly into doilies, they seemed lacking in purpose to me or something like that :-0, but I appreciate how they cheer up a surface. I think we could all use a little cheer this summer, yes?
I'm plotting lots of these for gifts, and also some cotton dishtowels and cloths. I'll post pictures as I make things!

In Catholic news, I'm currently finishing up the St. Anne novena, and my Anne makes her first communion next weekend! What I ended up doing last weekend was taking just Henry to Mass, and this weekend I'll take Anne. It's definitely an easing in process with the kids, after them being away from Mass for so long. But we're getting there. I tried to use the car ride to talk to Henry about faith stuff, and I'll do the same with Anne this Saturday. In this way I can single the kids out a bit for individual faith attention. Pray for me! :-0

How is your week going, dear reader? Chat with you soon!