Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A return to reality...

Well, hello there, everyone!

*waves*

I had a REALLY fun time talking to you all last week about our upcoming Lenten Book Club. Tons of interesting comments were left here and in the Facebook group, and the resulting discussion was fabulous! Lots of votes have been cast, and there's actually currently a tie! This is the most drama we've ever seen in a Life of a Catholic Librarian book club poll. :0

It's all very exciting! We'll see where the votes are ate on January 30th and go from there.

*beams*

In the meantime...yeah, it's officially mid-January. What does this mean? This means that the holiday/New Year's glow has faded, and we have gone from glamorous belly dancing gigs, festive parties, warm fellowship, amazing food and drink, and days spent loafing about the house in my bathrobe while simultaneously crocheting and watching Christmas Hallmark movies, to the following:

(1) The spring semester starts in less than 2 weeks, and to say that we are not ready in our course preparation is the understatement of the century. A feeling of impending doom pervades our floor of the library.

(2) The weather has gone from charmingly wintry and cozy, to gray and cataclysmically polar within a span of 48 hours.

(3) Our "days off" begin with $1200 orthodontic appointments for one of my offspring.

(4) The dance studio is so cold that glamour goes out the window in favor of gigantic fuzzy socks and shroud-like sweaters.

(5) My new car and cute new suede boots are both covered with salt.

(6) My DVR has become clogged with Hallmark Winterfest movies that I have no time to watch.

😭

Indeed, the bloom is officially off of the rose. I'm no longer basking in money showers and glittery costumes. I am stewing in a pit of lesson plans and dirty snow.

😡

It's too bad, truly it is. I suppose, though, that this is what makes those good times all the sweeter. We'll get there. The semester will start, and it won't be nearly so bad as I fear. And then Lent will come, and we'll all enjoy each other's companionship on that journey quite well, I am sure. I also have some fun dance events coming up, including a very dancey weekend, with two choreography-intensive classes, plus a show that I'm attending. Life is good! Snowy, but good. God save us all from this frozen precipitation "wonderland."

What are you up to this cold January day, dear readers? Report in for duty, please! :-)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lenten preparation! Because we are Catholic Nerds :)

Happy second week of January everybody! It feels like full-on winter right now, yes? I'm ensconced back at work, but the joy of New Year's Eve and the holiday break lingers on, and the spring semester hasn't started up yet, so I'm still in the Happy Zone!

I've been thinking a lot about Lent coming up on February 14th, and I figured the time was nigh for planning! We've talked about a few books for a seasonal book club (the Advent one went SO WELL), and thus I've put up a poll up for the Lenten Book Club! I have the books we talked about previously, plus a few more. Variety is good, right? *beams* Here are our descriptions!

We spoke about the Living Water Series, because we enjoyed The Well so much during our Summer Book Club. Therefore, I knew I would include one of the books as an option, but in the end I decided to include both of the remaining volumes! First up, we have Book 2, which is The Thief, by Stephanie Landsem:


A Roman centurion longing for peace and a Jewish woman hiding a deadly secret witness a miracle that transforms their lives and leads them to the foot of the cross.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

Nissa is a Jewish woman with a sharp tongue and no hope of marriage. Abandoned by the God she once loved, her only recourse is to depend upon Mouse, the best thief in Jerusalem, to keep her blind brother, Cedron, fed and the landlord satisfied.

Longinus is a Roman centurion haunted by death and failure and is desperate to escape the accursed Judean province. Accepting a wager that will get him away from the aggravating Jews and their threats of revolt, he sets out to catch the thieves harassing the marketplace.

When a controversial teacher miraculously heals Cedron, Nissa hopes for freedom from her life of lies. But the supposed miracle brings only more misfortune, and Longinus, seeking to learn more about the mysterious healer, finds himself drawn instead to Nissa, whose secret will determine the course of both their futures.

Cedron, Longinus, and Nissa are unexpectedly caught up in the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. As danger closes in on them from every side, they must decide if the love and redemption Jesus offers is true or just another false promise. How can the so-called Messiah save them from their shackles, when he cannot even save himself?
This is certainly a top contender, in my opinion. I loved this scriptural fiction genre when we investigated this series last summer, and the theme of this installment seems ideally suited to Lent.

Next, we have as an option Book 3 in the Living Water Series, this one about Martha and Lazarus, The Tomb, by Stephanie Landsem


In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?
Thoughts? Also a nice option for Lent. Nothing says we have to read the series in order!

Next up we have an apologetics option. In my 20's, reading conversion stories like this one changed my life and my faith. I have always had a soft spot for personal testimonies like this, and I have not yet read this particular story! It is How God Hauled Me Kicking and Screaming into the Catholic Church, by Kevin Lowry


A preacher's kid at a Catholic university, Kevin Lowry settled into a double major in beer and billiards soon followed by uncomfortable run-ins with pious students, failing grades, increasing anxiety, a missing night and the startling realization that some fellow students actually attended Mass the morning after a party instead of sleeping it off.
After getting kicked out, Kevin got his act together, got the MBA, and also got the girl. Meanwhile God was working, drawing him to the inevitable conclusion that Catholicism was all true despite his objections.
Kevin Lowry's journey to Catholicism is fascinating, often funny, and demonstrates God's unfailing, patient love for all of us.
Doesn't this sound interesting? I really want to read this one. If it doesn't win, I'll keep it in the hopper for the Summer Book Club!

Finally, I thought this was a lovely option. The Catholic Catalogue: A Field Guide to the Daily Acts That Make Up a Catholic Life, by Melissa Musick


The popular mother-daughter team behind the hit website TheCatholicCatalogue.com helps readers to discover, rediscover, and embrace the holidays and seasons of Catholic life through this collection of prayers, crafts, devotionals and recipes. 

This beautifully designed book will help readers celebrate Catholicism throughout the years, across daily practice and milestones. The Catholic Catalogue is a field guide, a list of far ranging topics, that should aid any Catholic, whether steeped in the tradition or just discovering spirituality for the first time, to understand the daily acts that make up a Catholic life. And like the most useful field guides, it is divided into user-friendly sections and covers such topics as the veneration of relics, blessing your house, discovering a vocation, raising teenagers, getting a Catholic tattoo, planting a Mary garden, finding a spiritual director, and exploring your own way in the tradition.

With more than 75 inspiring chapters, this book promises to be a resource that individuals and families will turn to again and again, helping to make room in their busy lives for mystery and meaning, awe and joy. 
You know me and the liturgical year, total fangirl. I think Kevin also enjoys liturgical living books, yes?

All right then, it's time to vote! I'll leave the poll up for 3 weeks and announce the winner at the end of January. *beatific beam*

I'll handle the structure very similarly to the Advent Book Club. I'll have either a Tea Time discussion or a post here on the blog with my thoughts each week (I haven't decided which yet), and also a thread up on the Facebook group. So you can take your pick as to where you'd like to participate. That worked out very well during Advent, and we had a lot of nice participation!

If you're torn between two books, don't forget: we also have the Summer Book Club! If you'd like me to keep one of the books that doesn't win in the rotation to vote on for the summer, make sure to leave a comment to let me know! Read, set, VOTE! The poll is up on the right side navigation bar of the blog!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Happy New Year, 2018! It's an exciting, dancey start :)

Happy New Year everybody! I'm still exhausted from mine :0 (you'll see why shortly), and the transition back to work wasn't an easy one. I had a lovely vacation at home with family, and braving the sub zero temperatures here currently in WNY to troop back to my office, away from the family love, wasn't easy. :-\ But let's reflect back on the fun, and look at where we're heading in 2018!

*streamers!*

Christmas was lovely. I did not enjoy having no 4th week of Advent though, is anybody with me? I know it just falls like that sometimes, but it's very unfortunate, in my opinion. Our church was already decorated for Christmas on the morning of the 4th Sunday of Advent, because there was no time to decorate before the Christmas Eve Mass that evening! :0 And Christmas Eve was hectic with family party festivities as it always is. But after that...BLISS.

Christmas morning Mass. Gift opening. And then days upon days of relaxing family fellowship and meals. I loved it.

And New Year's Eve? Was CRAZY. :0 In a really good and amusing way. Got your tea or coffee?

So I wound up with two dance gigs that night. We had a bit of a house of cards situation going on with dancers starting out at 2 locations, then funneling to a third as earlier sets finished up. As opposed to our usual tag team plan, with us switching out for each other at each set, this year Claire had to dance fully before me, and then jet to the second venue, leaving me alone to handle my sets for the final hour. This was uncharted territory for me, and I was nervous. :0 Oh, and I did I mention that the high that day was 4 degrees Fahrenheit?

!

We were starting off in a small Indian restaurant, and every time the door open to admit a new diner, a blast of icy air filled the space. And our "dressing room" was a tiny, closet-like indentation that we had to stuff ourselves into, with a window to the outside that also made it freezing.

#ugh

All glamour, all the time over here!

Claire got started right on time just as the restaurant was filling in. Everything went great, the audience was very happy and responsive. After her first set, she reported in that despite the polar air regularly being admitted to the restaurant, it was actually *sweltering* out near the buffet while dancing. This actually made us appreciative for the freezing dressing room between sets. Huzzah!

The rest of her sets also went great (as I expected they would), and she noted something I would find true in precisely 1 hour: the 3, 10 minute sets with full costume changes between each, all within an hour, were pretty tiring. We are used to dancing multiple 20 minute sets, but over a multi-hour time period, with huge breaks in-between while the other person dances.

She finished up, said goodbye to the owners, and then I was on my own from 8-9 pm. Sweating profusely. My delightful friend Brandy came to help me with my costumes and start my music for me, bless her soul. I was changed and ready for Set #1 at 8:05 pm.

Veil and I swirled out and it went great. It was a polite and quiet crowd, but very attentive and responsive. I made my way around the entire restaurant with ease, given the size. I had 4 playlists for New Year's Eve, so I kept forgetting what was on each one - It was a big surprise every time a song ended. :0

Set 1 finished, and I rushed to change in The Freezer. Set 2 is Sword's set, and as you can imagine, he was all excited. ;-) I tried something different this time, and emerged with Sword already balanced, and I have to say, I like this model better. If you're having a good sword night, you can remove it, do some other things with is, and then re-balance at various spots of the restaurant, but if you're not, you can just discard it with the pressure off and no one is the wiser. Plus, when you come out with a sword balanced on your head, it really gets everyone's attention. :0

Sword had his big drama sequence, and it went really well. I re-balanced a few times as I swooped around the restaurant, and then handed him to Brandy as I moved into my second song - which is to say, my favorite Middle Eastern song of all time, Shik Shak Shok.

Now, you see, Claire warned me about this. Before I ever did my first professional gig, she wisely told me:

"Always pace yourself. Have a slower song in each set so that you don't tire out before the end of the evening!"

And what did I do this past New Year's Eve? I put together a set with Sword (slower song, but still high intensity nerves given the balancing prop), the high energy Shik Shak Shok which I loooovvveeeeee, and a drum solo.

Shik Shak Shok starts. Let's just say that I got very into it. :0 I've never performed to that song before, and I danced HARD, circling the restaurant like it was going out of style. I mean, I love it, I couldn't help it. I don't think I've ever shimmied so much to a single song in my entire career, and this song is over 5 minutes long.

As it was wrapping up, I thought to myself:

"Oh boy. I'm *tired*."

😆

I pounded out the drum solo, but Great Googly Moogly. You could have scraped me up off of the floor with Sword by time that set was done. And then I had to wrench on yet a third costume and perform another set. And it was quickly approaching 8:45 pm, so I had to hustle.

I think part of the extra exhaustion factor was the quick costume changes, plus all of the new adrenaline rushes every time a set starts, all within a condensed period of time. Luckily, Set #3 didn't involve any props, and was much easier than the others. A fun pop song, a slower but upbeat baladi, and a very familiar drum solo. I got some people up to dance with me and all went well. After that, I changed, said goodbye to the owners, who seemed very pleased with how the evening went, and Brandy and I rushed off to Indian restaurant #2. Well. :0

This was a larger restaurant, and it had a nice crowd there. Claire was dancing when I arrived to a very lively audience, and I hurriedly changed and readied Sword (yes, AGAIN, *sob*!). To make things even more challenging, I had also put Shik Shak Shok into this set. WHY GOD, WHY?! I told myself that I could do this. I was tired, but it was just one more set. Granted, a 20 minute one, but that's cake. Usually. I hope.

Claire came back to the dressing area, breathless, and we looked at our watches. It was 9:35, and dancing was scheduled to go until 10. The time was nigh.

She set up my music while Sword and I got ready, and we came out with all of Sword's dramatic flair. The crowd was LOUD and somewhat raucous. But in a really good way. :0

Sword and I swooped our way around. There was a table of little boys who seemed particularly taken with this part of the program. We did our thing, it went well, I handed Sword to Claire. And that's when things got interesting.

I was making my way around the restaurant when I noticed that a group of people had come out into the center of the room and were dancing, beckoning me over. So I danced over. Quickly, a circle formed around me. This was a first, but OK. I got this.

Next thing I know, I notice things flying out of the corner of my eye. That seemed somewhat alarming, so I made a circular movement thus that I could inspect further. It was MONEY. This was another first. :0 It is a Middle Eastern custom and sign of appreciation to shower performers with money as tips. I kept dancing, and the money kept flying over my head. I tried to keep my face not showing the surprise I felt that anybody liked my dancing that much. :0

There were lots of kids there, and they ALL came out to dance with me. By the time Shik Shak Shok queued up, I was having the time of my life, and flew around the restaurant with ease. I wasn't tired anymore, and this was the most enjoyable set of my career. I was starting to feel it a bit as my final drum solo started up, but I made it through no problem. That was FUN.

Afterward, Claire and I kibbitzed about what a great gig that was. The owner was very happy with how things went, and we left, aglow.

Then I got home, was all wired on adrenaline, and couldn't fall asleep until after 1 am. Happy New Year! :0

So, after all of that excitement, I am here thinking about the year ahead. I used Jennifer Fulwiler's new Word of the Year generator, and this is what I received:

Vivid

I like that! 2018 is the year of making things counts. :) I have always endeavored to do the things that I love, and to do them well, to the best of my ability. Vivid. I think it really fits.

So let's plan! Lent is approaching, and begins on Valentine's Day this year. Shall we do a book club? If I do one (likely historical/scriptural-based fiction from the Living Water series) who would be in? I'm thinking we could do a combo here on the blog and also at the Facebook group thing, and we could add in a devotional component. Like, each week we set some sort of spiritual theme or goal for ourselves. Maybe we could all take turns coming up with the themes for the upcoming week? I'd love a show of hands of who would like to participate, and then we could go from there!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tea Time for Advent 2017 - Episode 4!

Wow, that went fast! It's our final episode for Advent 2017!


Today I gab about the missing 4th Sunday of Advent :0, my trip to see Cristina, how it's suddenly a dance gig bonanza for New Year's Eve, and of course the conclusion of our Advent 2017 Book Club!



**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com

Items mentioned in this episode: 


What are you thoughts on Chapters 4 and 5?! What would you like to see in 2018 on the blog and on the podcast?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tea Time for Advent 2017 - Episode 3!

We're getting closer to Gaudete/rose candle Sunday! It's our third installment in our weekly series for Advent:

Today I gab about how our Advent is going, Christmas baking and traditions, my upcoming trip to visit Cristina, and of course lots of book club talk. Join me!





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com

Items mentioned in this episode: 

  • The Christmas Quilt, our Advent choice for book club.
  • The first book in the Elm Creek Quilts series is The Quilter's Apprentice, and here is a search for the series in Amazon so that you can purchase others if you'd like to read more! 
  • From the author's website, here is some fantastic information about the order of books in the series:
    The Elm Creek Quilts novels are a series of books written by Jennifer Chiaverini. The series includes twenty novels, one short story available as a e-book, and a reader's guide:
    • The Quilter's Apprentice (1999)
    • Round Robin (2000)
    • The Cross-Country Quilters (2001)
    • The Runaway Quilt (2002)
    • The Quilter's Legacy (2003)
    • The Master Quilter (2004)
    • The Sugar Camp Quilt (2005)
    • The Christmas Quilt (2005)
    • Circle of Quilters (2006)
    • The Quilter's Homecoming (2007)
    • The New Year's Quilt (2007)
    • The Winding Ways Quilt (2008)
    • The Quilter's Kitchen (2008)
    • The Lost Quilter (2009)
    • A Quilter's Holiday (2009)
    • The Aloha Quilt (2010)
    • The Union Quilters (Feb 2011)
    • The Wedding Quilt (Nov 2011)
    • Sonoma Rose (Feb 2012)
    • The Giving Quilt (Oct 2012)
    • An Elm Creek Quilts Companion (Oct 2013)
    • The Quilter's Ghost: An eShort Story (Oct 2015)
    In most of the books, the main character is a master quilter named Sylvia Bergstrom Compson. She and her young friend Sarah McClure open a quilters' retreat at Sylvia's family estate, Elm Creek Manor. Sarah and Sylvia run the "quilt camp" with the help of their friends, the Elm Creek Quilters. Other books are historical, featuring Sylvia's ancestors and earlier residents of the Elm Creek Valley.

    If you want to read the books in the order I wrote them, read them in the order listed above. However, since I wasn't planning to write a series, I have written each book so that it stands alone. On my book tour, I often hear longtime fans tell new readers that the books should be read in the order I wrote them, but other readers have told me that they have read the books out of order and were able to follow everything just fine. Ultimately it's up to the individual reader. Please note, however, that later books inevitably give away events that occurred in previous books. If you would like to read the books in something approximating chronological order, please note the following:
    • The Christmas Quilt takes place in the interim between The Quilter's Apprentice and Round Robin.
    • The Sugar Camp Quilt is set in 1849-1850, so it takes place before the events chronicled in Gerda's memoir in The Runaway Quilt.
    • The Quilter's Homecoming is set mainly in 1925, but it branches off from a storyline introduced in The Christmas Quilt.
    • The New Year's Quilt immediately follows The Quilter's Legacy.
    • The Lost Quilter begins in 1859 immediately following the events chronicled in Gerda's memoir in The Runaway Quilt.
    • A Quilter's Holiday takes place while Bonnie is in Hawaii in The Aloha Quilt.
    • The Union Quilters begins in 1861 and runs mostly concurrently with The Lost Quilter.
    • The Wedding Quilt takes place after A Quilter's Holiday and The Aloha Quilt, with flash forwards to the year 2028.
    • Sonoma Rose is set in the Prohibition era immediately following the events of The Quilter's Homecoming.
    • The Giving Quilt takes place when Sarah McClure's twins are four and a half years old.

Whoa. Now I *really* want to go back and read the entire series! Next week we finish up and read Chapters 4 and 5! Let me know your thoughts on Chapter 3 below, or over in the thread on our Facebook group!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tea Time for Advent 2017 - Episode 2!

Virtual high five everybody! I'm back for a second week in our Advent Tea Time series!

Today in What's Happening, I talk about Christmas gift buying progress (*snort* it's not going all that well), and lots of dance news. We review the Blessed is She Advent Journal, before moving into our book club chat for chapter 2 of The Christmas Quilt! I thought this chapter was much more emotional than chapter 1.





**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com

Items mentioned in this episode:


Anne at The Nutcracker: 


How is your Advent going, dear ones?! Christmas shopping? Please do share thoughts on Chapter 2 of The Christmas Quilt, and I'll have the post up in the Facebook group as well momentarily!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tea Time for Advent 2017 - episode 1!

Well HELLO there! I feel like it's been awhile, though it's not like I've been away from the blog for any length of time. :0 But Tea Time is back in it's seasonal format, and here we are at episode 1 for Advent 2015!

*streamers*


Today we talk about the format for Tea Time going forward and the seasonal way it will be produced for the foreseeable future (lots of catching up and what's happening, a Catholic tidbit, and then seasonal specials), before moving into our Advent Book Club! Horray! There will be a new Tea Time each week for the next 4 weeks.





CAVEAT: The audio quality this week is very poor, I'm so sorry about that! Being out of practice, I did not properly record the audio while I recorded live, and thus had to go back and capture it from the video, which leads to ca ca in terms of audio. It's something at least for those of you who prefer to listen rather than watch the video. There are also a couple of wonky spots where I had to edit out notification noises that I did not anticipate. *collapses* Next week, I will be back in the groove, I promise!

**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe via Feedburner in your podcatcher of choice. Intro music is "Feelin' Good" from http://www.purple-planet.com


Items mentioned in this episode:


OK, let me hear from you! Are you praying the Immaculate Conception novena? Book Clubbers, what did you think of chapter 1?!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A 15 year milestone this Thanksgiving week...

Happy Thanksgiving week to all of my American readers! This is one of my favorite weeks of the entire year - I rarely take vacation days in the summer, and instead use them at Thanksgiving and Christmas to take an entire week off. So I'm home this week, watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel, crocheting in my jammies, drinking tea, creating a dance choreography in the middle of my kitchen...and all while having the house blissfully to myself.

💃

The kids still have school until Thursday, and as much as I love them, I also love being able to hear the thoughts running through my own head, and being uninterrupted as I do...well, *anything*. GLORY.

I've also been reading, and I'm preparing for our first Advent Book Club post late next week, horray! I own the book in print, but sadly I may need to buy it for Kindle due to my eyes' inability to enjoy print books anymore, ugh. FYI for those of you not in the Facebook group where I already posted this, but Kindle Paperwhites are $30 off this week for Black Friday! I snagged one for Henry. 😎

So, I'm reading, but finishing up another book before I start The Christmas Quilt. I'm also coming up against the Christmas crafting deadline, and crocheting and knitting my little heart out. I need to finish a shawl and a scarf, and start on (yikes!) a pair of mittens and 2 coffee cup cozies. And maybe some dish cloths. It's doable, but I must stay focused. 😳

We're hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our house, so Mike and I are also busy with food planning and preparation. It's a lot going on, but in the best way possible. I love it.

In the midst of all this, Mike and I are celebrating a personal milestone - November 22nd marks the 15th anniversary of our first date. Back in 2002, we met the weekend prior at a gathering hosted by mutual friends. He set up the double date that week, and we went out on what was a Friday that year. It's also the feast of St. Cecilia, my confirmation patron!

*virtual fist bump to the communion of saints*

We became engaged in the autumn of the following year, and were married just over a year after that, in January 2005. Even though this dating anniversary is a much more informal event to commemorate, we still look back on that time very fondly because of the loving involvement of our friends, who are now also married. I almost didn't make the party that weekend because I was scheduled to visit my sister, brother-in-law and nephew for his birthday on November 15th, but a storm on the east coast prevented the trip. And so I met Mike instead.

Our first date was at a restaurant called Cecelia's (I'm not making this up, she's clearly a busy woman up there in heaven), and we go to dinner there often for date nights. Ever since our 10th wedding anniversary, we've started going to Cecelia's every November, on the Tuesday evening prior to Thanksgiving, to mark our dating anniversary. The restaurant sends us a coupon for it and everything. :0 This year is 15 years, and that feels really special!

I remember being in my 20's and wondering if I'd ever meet anyone. Mousy wallflowers who like to read and crochet don't exactly attract the star of the football team, if you know what I mean. I dated a few guys, but not many, before I met Mike, and none of the relationships were long-term or very serious. I feared that my reserved, introverted nature meant that I would never find a companion with whom to share my life.

And then I met another reserved introvert, and the rest is history. :) 15 years later, I'm more in love with my husband than ever, and very glad that God brought us together. *heart*

What are you up to this week, dear readers? How are your Thanksgiving plans shaping up? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Advent Book Club winner!

Hi all! Hope that you are well. I'm freshly off of a sick day with a minor muscle injury, and can I tell you what a JOY it is to lay around in my pj's all day, watching Christmas movies, drinking tea, and shopping an online yarn sale from my laptop? I clearly need to do this much more often. I mean, I'd like to do it every single day, but I suppose the kids have to eat. :0

At any rate, being at home got me to thinking about the holidays coming up, and how I'd like to prepare properly for the Christmas season. First up, of course, is getting the Tea Time podcast started back up, which will include a segment with our Advent Book Club! Our poll closed Monday, and here we have our big winner!

*drum roll*

https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Quilt-Years-Creek-Quilts/dp/143910025X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1510689315&sr=1-1&keywords=the+christmas+quilt+new+years+quilt

Yay! So we will have a fiction read for our Advent Book Club. This photo is of the copy that I own of this book, pairing The Christmas Quilt and The New Year's Quilt together, but we will only read the first book. This duo copy is actually pretty inexpensive at Amazon, just $7.19 right now, so if prefer to purchase it, you can continue on and read the New Year's story on your own after we finish. :)

Here's the tentative plan: I'm going to start Tea Time back up right around November 29th, so just before Advent starts. We'll have 4 weeks together, through December 20th/21st, before we break for Christmas hiatus. The book has 5 chapters, and in my particular copy, most of them are 45ish pages.
Here is the schedule I'm proposing:

November 29th/30th - Chapter 1
December 6th/7th - Chapter 2
December 13th/14th - Chapter 3 (this one is a bit longer)
December 19th/20th - Chapters 4 and 5 (Chapter 4 is a normal length, and Chapter 5 is much shorter).

I figure as we move closer to the end of the book, we'll be wanting to see what happens, and are more apt to read further. :) I'm not certain what day I'll post each week, but I'll endeavor the Wednesdays or Thursdays! Then you are free to comment anytime you wish, as you move through the book. You can comment on the Tea Time post with your thoughts each week, or over in the thread I'll start each week in our Facebook group. Fun, right?!

The options that did not get selected, but did get votes, were all non-fiction/devotional options. So there  was definitely interest in those titles as well. I'm planning to complete the Blessed is She Advent Journal this year, and if anybody is interested in following along with weekly Advent reflections via that journal or another of your choosing, I could start up a way for us to chat about that as well for the season. A thread in the Facebook group would be easy peasy. If you're not on Facebook, but would like that option, please comment below, and we'll figure something out. :)

OK, I'm all excited! What do you all think of the schedule?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Plans! This is what happens when I have some time on my hands :0

Good day to you all! I've been monitoring our little Advent Book Club poll, and have of course read over and considered all of your comments. I've also been dwelling over my return to the Tea Time podcast, and how this can tie in the seasonal book clubs I'd like to regularly do. I have some ideas! Grab your cup of coffee and let's chat. :)


So, this time away from podcasting has been good for me. The freed up availability led to a lot less stress for me during the crazy part of my semester, and it allowed me to think about what I'd like to do going forward. I was also able to devote time to a longer post each week, which I LOVED!

I think what I'd like to do moving forward is have Tea Time be a weekly, but seasonal podcast, like I mentioned in our last episode.The seasons would be for Advent, Lent, and summer Ordinary Time (June through August) each year. Looking at my weekly schedule in terms of my job and home life responsibilities, doing more than that is not what God is recommending to me right now. ;-) I think this is a fun, very liturgical calendar-driven approach, which makes perfect sense given the theme of this blog.

When I took a hiatus from Tea Time, I knew it would be back in some sort of seasonal format, but I wasn't sure how I would structure the episodes. I had added some features following the 100th episode (What's Happening, On My BookShelf, Prayer Corner, The Creative Commons), but besides What's Happening, I cover the other issues regularly over in the blog Facebook group. Having tea together lends itself to the What's Happening segment, to be sure, and I think what I will do is keep that, and then add in a seasonal special, depending on which season we're in. For Advent and Lent, that can be a book club. In the summer, I'm not sure. I may do a series on the saints, or Marian apparitions, or something like that, we can decide ahead of time! But doesn't that sound fun?

As well, adding the book clubs into Tea Time solves our dilemma about where to host the club. Many of you preferred the Facebook group for book club discussion, but a few others aren't on Facebook or otherwise would prefer to discuss it back at the blog. So here is our perfect solution:

Each week, I will discuss my thoughts on the book during Tea Time. If you're averse to Facebook, you can comment right on that post, and I and others will respond to you and get a conversation going over here. :) I will also post a thread weekly following the podcast in our private Facebook group. Then our little community over there can discuss the book in that forum as well. This way, everybody has a place to participate!

What do you all think? Once the poll closes for our book voting period (so far, the leading contender is the fiction choice, The Christmas Quilt), we can set up a schedule for reading. I may start up the week before Advent begins, a pre-Advent/preparation episode. :) Plus that gives us an additional week to read the book. Voting closes on Monday!

Thoughts? I'm super excited, y'all!