Friday, February 26, 2021

Lenten Book Club Week 1 - Of haircuts and Mantellates...

Hello everybody and welcome to the first installment in our book club series for Lent 2021, I am SO EXCITED!

😎

Today we are set to reflect about Part 1 (technically called Book 1 within the text), which encompassed the first 7ish chapters. I was worried that maybe these chunks would be too much for me to read in a single week, and that maybe we would have to modify the schedule. Um, that is not a problem at ALL as it turns out, πŸ˜‚ and I absolutely sped through this section! I LOVED it, and cannot wait to chat with you all about it!

OK, so Book 1. We are in the 14th century with St. Catherine, who is age 19, and living at home with her family. St. Catherine comes from a big family, I knew that she was youngest of 25 children, although I didn't realize that so many of them had sadly passed away as infants, it sounds like. The book mentions her having, I believe, 13 living siblings. When the story begins, we find that her mom is very concerned with finding her a husband and marrying her off. I suppose that was the 14th century equivalent to lying awake at night with your stomach in a knot worrying about your shy teenager not socializing enough, and learning to drive next year. 😳 But I digress. Mom wants Catherine to get married, but Catherine does not want any part of getting married. She is a very devout young woman, has had a very close relationship with Jesus her whole childhood, and wants to dedicate her life to Christ and the Church.

The opening of this book was so poignant to me, because I related to both of these women in different ways. The mom is being a bit pushy, to be sure, and her daughter is now a grown woman who can make choices for her vocation on her own. But at the same time, as a fellow mom, I empathized with her desire to see her daughter safe and secure in a good situation for her life going forward. Her other children got married, that's the known route. Plus women didn't exactly have an easy time of things back then; that scene description of the festival time leading up to Lent, and the out of control behavior, gave me chills. 😒Having a husband would provide Catherine with some manner of protection against the lecherous element of society. But I also understood Catherine's desire to make her own decisions, and to honor the calling she had to a more religious life. It would be a change from the traditional process for young adults at that time, but change is necessary sometimes to help us to thrive and grow. 

And so that early scene with the mom talking about how beautiful Catherine's hair is, and how that will lure in a good husband, gave me a strong sense of foreboding. πŸ˜‚ And indeed, at first opportunity, Catherine procures a pair of scissors and cuts off her hair. And I was on her side for this! She's a grown woman, she can wear her hair as she pleases. At the same time, the scene at the sauna? 

😨

Sorry Catherine, I'm with your mom on this one, no deliberate walking into scalding steam!!!

But to her credit, her mom does acquiesce, with some help from the dad, to allow Catherine to follow her desire to join the Mantellates, a group of laywomen who devote themselves to the teachings of St. Dominic. Although they do not live in community, they worship and pray together, work together on community service, and generally follow a religious rule that they developed for themselves. Granted, the mom was hoping that the group would reject Catherine's desire to join as she was significantly younger than the other, often widowed, members, but no matter. The mother superior is pretty skeptical, but ultimately Catherine's piety wins them over. She is accepted into the group, and her family welcomes her to continue to reside in their home as she lives out her religious vocation with the Mantellates. 

Immediately, of course, she encounters some drama. :-0 Some of the other members are jealous of her devoutness, and generally insecure about how different she is from the rest of them. So young, and yet seemingly goes into ecstatic fainting spells after receiving the Eucharist. Her confessor is consulted, and he backs her up: she's not faking this, she's genuinely experiencing something, or at the very least, truly believes that she is experiencing something divine. Here too, I can see both sides. One does have to be cautious about supernatural phenomena, and I can understand that the group was concerned that Catherine may either be having visions that weren't from God, or was experiencing something physical and not spiritual. She is asked to receive the Eucharist only once per month to keep these little episodes to a bare minimum, and this sacrifice is a huge one for Catherine, but she accepts it without question.

When we leave off at the end of Book 1, Catherine's family is talking over the dinner table about shenanigans with the pope moving between Rome and Avignon, and Catherine receives a call to leave her home and go out to serve Christ in a new and different way. OOOOOOoooooo! I can't wait to read Book 2! 

I am absolutely loving this book! What are your thoughts on part 1?!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Birthdays and book club schedules: Lent 2021 Week 1...

Happy (? 😁) first week of Lent, everyone! I do so enjoy Lent every year with it's focus on spiritual planning and goals. 

*squeals*

This year, Ash Wednesday marked the first time I've ever had "ash sprinkling" as the mechanism for receiving ashes, but there's a first time for everything, I suppose. I'm just grateful that we'll be able to attend Mass during Lent and Holy Week this year. No scripture service this year, just ash distribution, so we were in and out of the church in under a minute. Alas. But we do have other Lenten things to look forward to this year!

My just-past-midway February birthday often falls during Lent, and indeed, it sometimes falls on Ash Wednesday. I have to admit, my preference is for it *not* to fall on Ash Wednesday, even a Lenten Friday is OK with me! This year was bonus in that it fell on a Thursday, a party day right between two days of fasting, BOOM. 

😎

And it was a lovely day. I was working from home with the kids here, but I took part of the day off and played in the snow with Anne and picked us up some Starbucks. Free birthday latte for me! 

*virtual high five*

I also made up an online ballet class via recording and practiced my finger cymbals. Mike and the kids had me pick out our dinner takeout (white pizza and antipasto salad) and got me a huge cookie cake with lots of frosting (my favorite!). It was genuinely a beautiful day.

Now we're at the first Friday of Lent, and I'm feeling jazzed for all of the spiritual nourishment that is to come! I have our Catholic Book Club selection for Lent 2021 all downloaded to my Kindle, and ready to go. In determining a schedule, I have tentatively come up with the following:

  • February 26th - Part 1
  • March 5th - Part 2
  • March 12th - Part 3
  • March 19th - Part 4
  • March 26th - Part 5

So we begin next Friday! And will wrap up just before Holy Week. The division into 5 parts makes this intuitive, but each of these parts is between 70 and 80 pages long (with the exception of Part 5, which is a little shorter). That's a bit longer than I'd like (I'm not the fastest reader anymore) so we'll see how it goes. If I need to adjust the schedule midway through to give us a bit more time and even extend into Easter, we can absolutely do that. Let's see how Part 1 for next Friday goes and we'll take it from there! I'm very excited to get started on this journey with St. Catherine of Siena!

How was your Ash Wednesday and general start to Lent? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Ash Wednesday is right around the corner, and Lenten Book Club 2021 plans!

Hi all, and happy Friday, the last Friday in Ordinary Time before Lent begins! As ever, I'm quite excited. In fact, I wrote about my joy in annual Lenten planning this month for Catholic Mom. I know it's a solemn time of penance, to be sure, but there's something about the wintry organization and focus that really makes me happy as a librarian. :-) Ash Wednesday marking the beginning of the season is something I always look forward to, and I always reflect on the dark days with the coming hope of Easter. 

This year, granted, Ash Wednesday will look a bit different in terms of our traditions (understandable, but still, I'm sad!) Our diocese is doing ash sprinkling over the head rather than crosses on the forehead this year. What is your parish doing?

In terms of a book club for Lent, I've definitely decided to run one on the blog this year, and based on the poll I posted in our Facebook group, and the responses I received in the comments last week, I have pulled Lay Siege to Heaven: A Novel About St. Catherine of Sienna, by Louis de Wohl as our winner!


SUPER EXCITED to read this book! I absolutely love historical fiction, and you know that stories of the saints are my very favorite! So now, how to proceed. Let's take 1-2 weeks to allow time for those who wish to participate to receive and begin the book. I know at least one person is going to be looking to request this via their library, and others may be ordering print copies that will take some time to arrive. Next week I'll put up an Ash Wednesday and general start to Lent post. We can get started chatting about the book on Friday February 26th. I want to assure we have plenty of time to read each section. I just downloaded the Kindle copy, and it looks like the book has 5 parts. I need to look at it more carefully to see how long each part is, but the book is 372 pages in total. I'll chart out a full plan with dates and pop that up next week. Sound like a plan?

I'm so excited to get started on this! Let me know if you're in for the Lenten Book Club 2021 down in the comments! 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Narrowing down the Lenten book club, and some in-progress winter crafting...

Hello all and happy Friday! It's a windy day here in WNY, with a lake effect snow storm on the way, so it'll be a cozy weekend in for us. We're looking forward to some family movie time, and making some snacks for the Super Bowl on Sunday. :-)

I'll get to our Lenten Book Club in just a second, but first I wanted to post a little creativity update in terms of winter crafting. Winter really inspires me in my knitting and crocheting: the colors, the cozy accessories, the SOCKS, so many socks. :-0 I just love it. I'm in a sock knit -along with some other knitters themed around tea, and we decided upon the Mint Tea Socks, which is a free pattern! These are my yarn options:


I genuinely don't know which to pick, they're both so good! I should have them cast on by next Friday. 

I also received an order of Valentine yarn from Bumblebee Acres, and I'm so in love. 😍


Granted, there will not be a pair of socks knit by Valentine's Day, but I am undeterred! Valentine's Socks can be worn year round. ;-)

I did cast on a mohair wrap in soft glacial colorways, and I'm quite smitten with it:

Pattern is Hygge and Hearth Scarf from Bumblebee Acres

And I finished my Lotus Flower hats, complete with giant pom poms! 

Lotus Flower Beanie, from BKnitsHandmade

Gorgeous pom poms are from North Star Stitches on Etsy!

Very much needing the hats and scarves these days with the wintry weather we're finally having!

But OK, let's talk Lent. I got a little bit of interest in my mention of a fiction title that we would read together this Lent, but not a ton of other feedback. So I had a few suggestions, but am very open to more! In perusing my book shelf, I happened upon this title, obviously non-fiction, but I absolutely love St. Faustina! And she fits great with a lead up to Easter, I think, since Divine Mercy Sunday is so close in time thereafter:

Our Friend Faustina, by Emily Jaminet and Michele Faehnle

And in continuing with our saint theme, I happened across a copy of one of Louis de Wohl's books in his series of historical fiction focusing on the saints. I have The Quiet Light, which is about St. Thomas Aquinas:


But there are also books just like this in his series that feature St. Francis of Assisi, St. Joan of Arc, St. Benedict, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis Xavier...the list goes on and on. Do any of these sound appealing? I'm really feeling this saint theme. But I'm open to all ideas! Cast your vote by leaving a comment! :)

Friday, January 29, 2021

February is almost here, which means it's time to think about book clubs!

 

Friends! I hope that you're staying warm this extra chilly January day. πŸ€— As for me, I'm bundled up in a hoodie layered with a blanket, because both Mike and I working from home means that the thermostat is set at a temperature comfortable to both of us 0% of the time. 🀣 It's a bit rough, but we're makin' it! The weather has taken a definite turn for the wintry here in WNY. Highs today are in the teens Fahrenheit, and I just can't seem to get warm!

But I'm in great spirits, and it's Friday, so life is good. I've been doing a little book club work in the background this month that I wanted to share with you, and I want to start to plan for Lent, so we have a great booky theme for today!

Since the new year, our fab friend Allison Gingras, and editor of the Stay Connected Journals series, has been leading a book club for Our Sunday Visitor featuring the book of none other than yours truly! I've been at two out of the four sessions so far, and they are an absolute delight. They're concise 30 minute sessions featuring a discussion of one chapter a week, group questions and other musings on the chapter theme for that week. You can catch up on the recordings and/or register for the remaining sessions here. They are totally free, and the live sessions take place at noon EST, great for lunchtime book clubbing! If you'd like to purchase the book, OSV's bookstore has a coupon code for 50% off my book, Exploring the Catholic Classics, with the coupon code: CLASSICS. Free shipping with any $20 purchase over there, too! AND, of course, the rest of the books in that series are available there (if you're like me and spend more just to get to free shipping thresholds every single time, LOL!) and the new series themes are pretty amazing! I want to get all three of the new ones that I don't yet have, actually. We have one on living the liturgical year (this is my favorite new theme of the three, I must get it!), managing anxiety and learning to trust, and the theological and cardinal virtues. In fact, the virtues book will be the focus of the Our Sunday Visitor Lenten Book Club, and is available for 50% off with code: VIRTUE. These coupon codes are single use only, but you can order as many copies of each book that you like in that order! I'm plotting my order right now, pretty much guaranteed to get all three of the newer books, ha ha!

But this got me to thinking: what would be like to do for Lent over here on the blog? I tend to enjoy book clubs or related Lenten themes for that particular liturgical season. In the past, we've actually done historical fiction for our Lenten Book Club, which I absolutely loved, since there are lots of other book club choices for non-fiction. We featured the Living Water series by Stephanie Landsem, I remember that very fondly. I could scour for some other title ideas for next week if a fiction book club sounds of interest. We could also intersperse with other Lenten themed posts about liturgical living and even related crafts. Let me know your ideas, and we'll begin exploring these and nailing down our ideas next week! Ash Wednesday is in two and a half weeks, if you can believe it! :-0

Friday, January 22, 2021

Creative Ideas Friday: Try something totally new that you've always wanted to explore!

Happy Friday everybody, and I hope you are hanging in there just fine this gray January day! Despite the bleakness in the sky, I love January, and always find fresh inspiration and excitement for all of the potential that lies ahead for the year. This week, I thought we would focus on a more general concept for our Creative Ideas Friday: trying out something totally new to you that you have always yearned to explore!

Let's face it: these at-home pandemic times, depressing though they may be, present an ideal opportunity to finally tackle that One Thing you were always so curious about. We have more time with which to tackle them, and the availability of online classes mean that the risk of embarrassing yourself in public is pretty low. :-0 For me, that thing was learning to play the finger cymbals. Dun dun dun!

Many dancers learn to play the finger cymbals when they first learn to dance, but that was not my experience. So now I've been dancing and performing for over a decade, and had to Google how to even strap these things onto my fingers. :-0 My sister gifted me a pair of smaller finger cymbals (the traditional starting size), which is what I'm starting with. These beauties are from Turquoise International, well-regarded makers of cymbals:

Oriental cymbals, size 2 1/4 inches

I'm taking a 30 minute class each lunchtime, Monday through Thursday, and it is absolutely perfect for drilling a new skill like this! I started right after the New Year, and now have 3 weeks under my belt. I can honestly say that I'm a lot less bad than when I first started. πŸ˜‚ I've learned 5 sounds so far (I hadn't even realized there were more than 1 common one!) and can play them in multiple simple patterns. The dancing at the same time part is still a work in progress, πŸ˜‡ but one can't expect miracles in 3 weeks! I can at least walk around a bit while playing them, that's the first step, and incorporate in some basic movements in time to the rhythm that we're playing alongside. I'm learning SO MUCH about the different rhythms within Middle Eastern music, and I am absolutely soaking it all up! The ability to mute myself during class is giving me life. 😎 Again, the online format is such a low intimidation factor in terms of taking on something completely new!

As my obsession grows, I naturally started going down some YouTube rabbit holes. I found out how to sew the elastic on my cymbals, rather than relying on small safety pins. I also discovered how different sizes, shapes, and metals can affect the sound of your cymbals. I wanted to be able to compare my smaller cymbals with a larger pair (and thought the larger surface size might also make it easier for me to make some of the sounds I was struggling with, and I was right) so I treated myself to these beauties:

Saroyan large Grecian cymbals in brass

Saroyan is a renowned cymbal company, and there are sound clips on their site of all of their cymbals, and I spent a delightful few days listening to all of them multiple times. I found that the bigger cymbals make a deeper sound than the smaller ones, and that brass presents a mellower tone than the more high pitched silver ones. Dancers usually have many different pairs of cymbals for this very reason, depending on the environment in which they'll be dancing (indoors vs outdoors, how large a space, what type of music will they be dancing to) so that they can pick cymbals that will achieve the sound they want. I absolutely love the mellower sound of the brass cymbals, and these Grecian ones are my new bff, but at some point I'll almost certainly add a silver set to my arsenal. I am having SUCH a delightful time exploring this totally new-to-me skill, and am so glad that I embarked on it! I don't know when I will perform with finger cymbals, if ever (though it would be nice to add them to my possibilities for gigs, when those resume again) but regardless, I'm thoroughly enjoying the process and the healthy challenge that they present to me. I'm also learning so much about Middle Eastern music that I can translate to all of my dancing. I plan to continue with my classes next month!

In other creative news, I just had to share this new hat pattern with you that I am currently also obsessing over. :-0 It is called the Lotus Blossom Beanie, and the effect is absolutely stunning, wouldn't you agree?!

Pattern is Lotus Flower Beanie from BKnitsHandmade

There has been some talk in my crafting community about the price of this pattern ($11), which is more than hat patterns traditional cost. However, this pattern includes detailed photographs of the tricky lotus blossom technique, directions for sizes 6-12 months/infant through adult, as well as instructions for knitting it in either bulky or super bulky yarn. I'm already planning gifts for others with finished hats from this pattern too, so I do really feel like it is worth it! If you use the super bulky she recommends (although you could use any yarn you like), which is Malabrigo Rasta, you will get 2 hats by reversing the colors. Here is my first finished hat in a Valentine's theme:




I'm awaiting my order of gorgeous lush pom poms, and I have to share my new favorite pom pom shop on Etsy, which is North Star Stitches! I'm not normally a pom pom gal, but the featured photos on this hat really sold me on how a well coordinated pom pom really makes the design pop! For my pink/mint hats, I ordered a few poms to try in shades of blush, white and blue/green. I'm sooooooo excited for these to arrive! I'm going to be making a lot of hats this year, I'll share more about that endeavor next week!

What skill or idea have you always wanted to take a class on? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Winter crochet projects this week for Creative Idea Friday...

Hi everyone! I hope your wintry January's are moving along nicely. :) I know that I'm in the minority, but I actually like January, gray skies and all. Part of it is that my wedding anniversary is in January, part of it is that I enjoy the cozy feeling of deep winter. Speaking of wedding anniversaries, Mike and I celebrated ours on the 8th (16 years!) and as is the thing this year, it was different than usual. Romantic takeout, cocktails at home, and watching of The Crown marked our anniversary dinner this year, ha ha! But you know, it was absolutely delightful!

In other deep winter news, I've been hard at work on crafting. I started a baby sweater for Allison!


This is a Baby Surprise Jacket, one of my favorite baby patterns of all time. You knit what appears to be a blog, and when you sew 2 small seams, voila! It's a baby sweater. :0 It's moving along quite quickly, hoping to have a finished sweater to show you next week! 

But onto crochet, as that is our main theme for this week! I was listening to the We Crochet podcast this week (which I highly recommend, btw, if you're at all interested in crafts. I listen to their sister podcast, Connecting Threads, even though I don't sew, and really enjoy it!) and they got me all excited for a specifically crochet winter focus. The newest edition of their magazine includes a winter themed collection called Wintertide that I am really jazzed about now:

We Crochet Magazine, Issue 5

I do love projects that are themed after winter, as distinct from the holidays. I love holiday projects too, but they are different to me: there are holiday themed items, and then specifically winter themed items that have a cozy, warming feel, and often inspired by winter colors like blues white, and purples. Needless to say, this magazine is in my cart over at We Crochet. :0

Blankets are one of my favorite winter projects, because they keep you warm *while* you make them, so they do double duty! Each New Year, I am inspired by the Attic 24 blanket CAL (crochet -along) and despite having plenty of blankets in my house, I could not resist this year's edition, especially given our continuing pandemic situation. It's the perfect project to work on while snugged up at home! This year, the theme is a Meadow inspired blanket:

Attic 24 Meadow Blanket CAL

And aside from weaving in ends, I completed part 1 this week!


Once you get the stitch pattern down, this is a great and soothing tv watching project. If you're at all interested in crochet, I encourage you to give this a try! I would say it's advanced beginner level, and Lucy includes a step-by-step tutorial with tons of pictures, so you can do it, I know you can! Any yarn you like will do, but Wool Warehouse has the special yarn packs with the colors the designer picked specificaly for this blanket. Even with the current delayed shipping situation (and Wool Warehouse is in the UK), I got my pack within 2 weeks, which I think is amazing speed! But obviously you could also approximate these colors at your local craft store with a nice soft acrylic in worsted or dk. She just released part 2 of the colors today (it's week by week, but you can catch up super easily and work at your own pace!) and I'm sooooo looking forward to working on this over the weekend!

I've also been busily learning to play my finger cymbals, but that's a post for another day. 🀣 How are you doing this week, dear reader? What projects are you working on this January? Sending you lots of hearts this winter!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Creative Idea Fridays for the winter, and some cute crafting updates!

 Merry Christmas everyone, and happy New Year! I'm very glad to be back with you for another year of fun chatting about creativity, crafty hobbies, wellness, prayer and books. 

πŸ€—

I hope that you all had lovely holidays this year. Ours were quiet, we certainly missed seeing family the way we usually do, but we still made a very nice time of it and truly enjoyed it. The kids are happy and healthy, and that's all that matters!

For my part, I did alot of knitting, and with a white Christmas and everybody home, it was the perfect cozy time for it! In big news, I finished frog and toad!

*trumpets blare*

Aren't they cute?

Let's have a closeup on the outfits, please.

Pattern available via Frog and Toad Cast. This includes instructions for both critters, plus both of their outfits!

I definitely enjoyed the challenges involved in knitting these two, especially the steeking for the eyes! I tell you, I needed a sip of wine to work up the courage to make that first snip into my knitted baby frog. πŸ˜‚ But it worked out, and it's so exhilerating to try new things!

I've also been enjoying my dancing from home this winter. Looky what Santa brought me this year!


I've been taking ballet classes on Zoom, and this portable, adjustable barre is soooooo much nicer to use than the back of Mike's desk chair. 😁 The feet swivel in for against the wall storage when not in use. It's perfect for me, and I absolutely love it! 

The other new dancey project that I have taken on is something within my main dance passion of Egyptian style belly dance, but is completely new to me: finger cymbals.

😬

Finger cymbals are...scary to me. :-0 As you can imagine, it is challenging to both play a musical instrument (one that is completely new to me), plus dance at the same time. Within Egyptian style belly dance, while you certainly see dancers and musicians playing finger cymbals (called Sagat), they aren't quite as common as in Turkish style belly dance. Here in North America, you often see dancers performing a style of belly dance called American Cabaret, which is a melding of belly dance influences, including Turkish. So those dancers are usually playing the finger cymbals (referred to in this context as zills), and American viewers often become familiar with them via seeing a dancer performing in this style in a restaurant. I've never studied with a teacher who instructs in American Cabaret style (though I've taken a few workshops in Turkish dance, which I LOVED, especially the folk dances, although the finger cymbals segment was a total disaster for me 🀣), so I've never received any long term formal instruction in playing finger cymbals. As part of my goals for the year, I have resolved to learn!

It helps that my favorite online teacher started a session for them as part of her daily drills series, and this format is absolutely perfect for a budding learner of finger cymbals. Everyday at lunchtime, Monday through Thursday, for 30 minutes, I sit in front of my laptop and drill finger cymbal sounds and patterns with her. Yesterday we (gulp) stood up to also do some simple hip drops and traveling steps while playing the cymbals. It's structured as a slow building process, which is exactly what I need. Each day this week, I could feel myself being slightly less bad at it, LOL! But it's coming along. And the thrill of taking on something totally new and intimidating like this has me in a very excited place! 

So! What we'll be doing here on the blog until Lent are a creativity focus that I'm calling Creative Idea Fridays, and then sometime in February we'll turn to Lenten planning and strategies. Maybe we'll do a Lenten book club? We'll see! I'm excited to see what kind of inspiration strikes! 

Do you have any goals for the new year? I would love to hear about them in the comments!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

4th Week of Advent: Baking and dancing towards Christmas...

Hello everyone, and I hope that your Advent is wrapping up beautifully, just as mine is. 😊 I have allllll of my wrapping still to do, but otherwise am in good shape. I made cookies this week, I should have taken pictures for photographic evidence, ha! Because I am not the best baker, but these turned out well. Most of them have already been consumed by children living in my house. ;-) We made Peanut Butter Blossoms and Italian Chocolate Balls (we put chocolate chips in instead of walnuts, though!).

We were also excited to light the final candle in our Advent wreath:

I wasn't feeling well on Sunday morning after a terrible night of sleep, so we watched the 8 am mass that my parish had streamed for the 4th Sunday of Advent. I have us reserved for the 10 am mass on Christmas day, so hopefully that all goes without a hitch!

Prior to the bad night of sleep though, I had my online Christmas themed dance show, and that went great! Picture me dancing in a bright red gown in the middle of our living room, which was cleared of all easily movable furniture, a camera mounted on a ladder, and my family marooned in their bedrooms. πŸ˜‚ As the organizer wrote to us later, she appreciated our hard work, especially because she knows it isn't easy prepping a piece, setting up your own "stage," and being your own grip and director. There's certainly an unnatural element to performing solely online, with the lack of dedicated performance space and audience/performer energy exchange, but we're all getting a bit more used to it in the dance community, and making the best of it for the time being. I've finally gotten to a place wherein I've accepted that this is the way it is for the time being, and I might as well find the joy and new opportunities that these online shows present until we can go back to in-person shows. I'm lining up some opportunities for the first part of the new year, and really looking forward to working on some new pieces. I will say that performing online means that I have become more choreographed and artistic in my approach to what I present in dance, since there is no crowd energy to feed off of for improvising. It's different for me, and challenging in the best way possible, so I'm seeing that as a positive!

In terms of holiday/wintertime crafting, I've been a busy bee. I promised an update on the Advent gnome, and so here is my in-progress Gnutmeg!


The stitch marker is holding the spot for a belt buckle. The final clue is out today, and I can see that we will be assembling some of the other pieces we knit (nose and beard, various icords for limbs, I'm assuming) onto the gnome, and also adding some final surprises! I'll post a photo after the holidays when I have him all finished. 

I also worked a bit more on Frog:


Creepy, I know, with the disembodied eyeballs. πŸ˜‚ Terrifyingly, the pattern calls for you to *cut out holes for the eyes* and then stitch them on in a way to create eyelids. I have the spot marked out with stitch markers, but have been too chicken so far to proceed. I'm picturing unraveled green yarn all over my couch, and me in tears guzzling wine off to the side. Someone may have to come hold me afterward. 🀣 I'll post an update after the new year!

Speaking of, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and happy New Year! I'll be posting again the week following New Years Day, and using the time to recharge and think of creative new things we can chat and pray about in 2021! 

*virtual group hug*

Friday, December 18, 2020

Third Week of Advent: Preparation and Peace

Happy Friday everyone, and happy Third Week of Advent! I'm always excited to light the pink candle:


...AND our parish is still open, so we were able to attend our favorite 11 am Sunday mass! They announced this week that Christmas masses would be by reservation (to assure that the capacity restrictions won't be a factor) so I called and made ours for Christmas day at 10 am, also our favorite mass for that occasion. I know Christmas eve is a favorite for many, but there is a serenity on Christmas morning that has really taken hold of my heart in recent years. Plus, there is way less demand for attendance at that one, so it's always quiet and peaceful. :-)

Our Advent calendars continue to thrive! Here is our magnetic one, we're progressing right now through animals, shepherds and stars:


The Holy Family, of course, is reserved for the spots of honor. ;-)

Soooo, I am very much not a huge fan of the Elf on the Shelf tradition (it's just odd to me, but to be fair, I suppose one could say that about any number of holiday traditions), but Anne LOVES IT and has talked nonstop about the elf they have in her classroom at school. Mike lives for this kind of stuff, so he bought an elf, and he and Anne have been guiding this thing around our house for the past few weeks. Apparently, elves "just appear after Thanksgiving", rather than being bought at Target, I almost screwed that one up. 🀷🀣 At any rate, Felix the elf has become a member of the family, and he even helped me photograph my Christmas doily this week to submit in a class in my online crafting community:

Weird, but true

In other crafting news, I'm making my nephew a frog:

Pattern is Frog and Toad from From and Cast

Looks like a green blob right now, but I promise, it'll be a frog. :-0 He's green, so kinda Christmassy? Won't be able to say that about the accompanying toad, we'll save him for New Years. ;-) I'll make it my goal to get caught up on my Advent gnome this weekend, and photograph him for next week's post!

Speaking of New Years, there's obviously no belly dancing this year owing to all of the restaurants being closed for indoor dining right now (amongst other factors), but I'm in an online Christmas themed show this weekend that I'm *really* looking forward to! After that is done on Saturday evening, I'm excited to relax into the holiday season with some cookie baking and wrapping the next day with the kids. 😍

How was your Third Week of Advent? Look for next week's post a bit early, given how the holiday will fall in the week, I'm thinking Wednesday!