Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #35 - Assorted Lenten & fitness updates, plus "You want to write your paper on *what now*?!"

Ooohh, it's Thursday, which is quickly becoming my favorite day over here on this blog. :)

Today I have a Lenten update, a fitness update, and a tale from my Library Research Methods course, which you would think would be boring, wouldn't you? ;-)

 **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.

Items mentioned in this episode:
Do you have books to add to the Lenten reading list? Please do list below! Also, how is your Lent going? The campus minister here during Mass yesterday made that the point of his homily - that we should try and remember the faces we glimpse at Mass, so that when we see one another around campus, we can ask, "Hey, how's your Lent going?" :)

I covet your comments, and as ever, I'm looking forward to talking to you again next week!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Is that a knitted Amoeba?" Adventures with mystery shawls on Ash Wednesday...

Good morning to you all, and a very blessed Ash Wednesday to you. I am all discombobulated today in terms of Lent beginning. I've been excited about it all week, did tons of Lenten-related retweeting all day yesterday, pulled out the book at the top of the Catholic Book Club list for spiritual reading during the season, and then...this morning I woke up all punchy. I felt rather down and beleaguered and didn't want to get out of bed. My hair would not straighten properly and looks like I stuck my finger in an electrical outlet, and I forgot to pack my Kindle so that I could begin my reading over lunch. I also forgot my print copy of the Magnificat Lenten Companion and didn't think at all about the Lenten fast while I packed my lunch, which thankfully by complete coincidence does not include meat. I am just all sixes and sevens over here. But I'm hanging in there.

I'm on the reference desk this morning, and then I am planning to go to a noon Mass with ash distribution here on campus. I'm rather looking forward to that, and hope springs eternal that it improves my disposition. I mean, if it's any indication, I just kicked a student out of the reference desk chair, which had been moved AGAIN overnight, as that has become a huge pet peeve of mine. Ordinarily I would have sat in one of the other, less comfortable chairs and said nothing. Not today. This is what we're working with here. :0



I did do it nicely. *nostril flare*  And things in my crafting world are not going much better. Granted, they are not going *terrible*, but they are moving along at a glacial pace that is making me antsy. After nearly a freaking month, I finished clue 3 of the Downton Abbey mystery knit-along. Here is what we have:

Let's not even get into the specifics of the many inappropriate things we could say this looks like, because there are too many to count. I think that where we're headed is that the center motif (which is currently all misshapen for reasons that are not its own) will become more prominent, and we'll add on a second wing on the other side. I've started clue 4, and we're decreasing, so this wing is coming to an end.

The lace is now going seamlessly, so no troubles there. I do like the center motif, but while I don't hate the lace on the wing, I'm not in love with it either. I think that with these mystery shawls it can be hard to gauge your feelings on the design until the end, because things are just so underdeveloped for so long.

And speaking of underdeveloped, here is our crochet cousin, who is a little bit further along in the process, at the completion of clue 4:

Terrible picture, sorry
This guy now has two full wings, so it's not looking quite so fetal. I've peeked at spoilers for this shawl, and I will say that clues 5 and 6 make it absolutely GORGEOUS, with layers of scallops along the border. Right now, he's looking a bit mesh-y and like he's not quite sure where he's going in life, but I am optimistic that things will improve for him. The colors in this variegated yarn are definitely pooling, as I knew they would, but given that I love the autumn colors, I'm happy with it.

Overall, given that they are lace, both shawls will benefit tremendously from blocking when they are complete, which will stretch out the design and show it to its full potential. I hope.

So, that's the progress update. How are your shawls going? I'd love to hear. :)  And let me know how your Ash Wednesday is going so far! All the details, pretty please. And we have Tea Time tomorrow, yay! I always look forward to that time with you. ;-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Super Bowl feasting leading up to the Ash Wednesday fast, a pre-Lenen check-in!

Hello ALL, how are you this Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, also known as the day before Ash Wednesday? Anybody going to a Mardi Gras party? :) For my part, I actually went to daily Mass today, since it was being offered for Mike's grandma who recently passed away. It struck me that this was my last Mass prior to Lent, which makes it significant in multiple ways. I will talk about this more during Tea Time this week. In fact, I have LOTS to talk about during Tea Time this week, prepare yourselves for a full 15 minutes. There's a Zumba update, a Lenten resolutions update, and some amusing teaching adventures. Life is never dull for this librarian, to be sure.

Before we get started, I promised a link to my newest Catholic Mom piece, and it's up!

More Lent talk, indeed. But it's the season, yes? I would LOVE for you to head over there and leave me a comment with your Lenten ideas!

All right, so let's get into this past weekend. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and we had friends over for food, feasting and frivolity. I look forward to the Super Bowl every year, although I do think the event rather makes a mockery of a traditional football game. Why can't it just be on a Sunday afternoon and not include a spectacle of a halftime show? We never watch the halftime show anyway, so I really shouldn't complain. ;-) But the Super Bowl just has a strange vibe about it, and not in a good way. What I enjoy is having friends and family to watch it with. Good company and conversation, always.

At any rate, this is my pre-party get up:

Super comfortable Randy baseball tee by LuLaRoe. I kind of love this clothing company, have you heard of them? :0
...and we prepared lots of delicious chip and dip combinations, meatballs in the crock pot, and crab melts. Deliciousness. Our friends arrived, and we ate, drank, and were merry. I worked on my Downton Abbey mystery shawls, and although I'm still President of the Way Behind In The Craft-Along Club, I *am* making steady progress on both, and I'll post photos tomorrow.

It was a good day. A good weekend, in fact. And then this week started.


I knew it was coming, but it hasn't been an easy week. Just super busy and crazy, and I can barely catch my breath. And my mom is having knee surgery today. Right now, in fact. Would you ever so kindly wing up a prayer for her?

So, I'm hanging in there. And to add insult to injury, I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to get ashes tomorrow. The morning Masses are out because I'm on 9 am reference duty and the ash distribution always takes a decent amount of time, so there was no way I'd make it in time. The lunchtime offerings are tough because I can't drive anywhere here in the middle of the day. Why, you reasonably ask? Well, because it would mean relinquishing my parking space, and if I do that, I might as well not bother coming back because there's no way I'll get another one unless I invent a spot on the grass, and that NEVER ends well. And I have plans to meet friends for dinner Wednesday evening that were set weeks ago (before I realized it was Ash Wednesday, oops. But vegetarian offerings on the menu). What is a nerdy ash-seeking Catholic girl to do? Well, happily the Newman Center here is offering ashes in the Student Union at noon, and I can walk to that, so whew! I just discovered that little gem yesterday, much to my great relief.

So I'll have my ashes tomorrow. And I believe they're holding a Mass as well, so shazam. Perfect. I'm looking forward to embarking on our Lenten journey, and I have tons of great stuff to update you all on in this regard on Thursday.

What are your plans for Ash Wednesday, dear reader? What time are you getting your ashes? I'd love to hear from you. :)

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #34 - Calling all people with Lenten ideas!

Happy Thursday everyone! And I'm pleased as punch to be with you for another installment of:

Today I'm talking about LENT! It's pretty close on our heels, somehow. I discuss what I'd like to do for Lent, and solicit your ideas. I also weave in family and general life anecdotes as I often do, so please do come 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 on Feedburner to your podcatcher of choice.

Items mentioned in this episode:
  • The ongoing Our Lady of Lourdes novena. Did I mention this? If I didn't, I should have. ;-)
  • My next Catholic Mom piece, also about Lent, is coming out on Monday. Link coming then!
So. What are YOUR plans for Lent, dear reader/listener/viewer? You have so many roles in my life these days. ;-) And you know, this weekend is the home of Super Bowl Sunday. We're party people, so we're having a party. :0 How about you?!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Novenas always make me feel better...

Hi all!


Our overnights are getting better, but we're still dealing with some early morning coughing that is heralding the start of my day WELL before 6 am, so I'm a bit tired. And I have the evening reference shift tonight, so I'm stuck here until 8 pm. I couldn't come in later today to compensate, due to the nefarious parking situation that I will not go into further lest I start having to strike out profanity.


So it's going to be a long day. I will almost certainly be very tired tomorrow at this very same time as well. But we'll get there.

I was thinking this morning as I drove in, using my winter-themed Our Lady of Lourdes/St. Bernadette rosary to pray, that I love having a novena going. It really does help to settle my mind about many things. And novenas are especially meaningful to me when I pray them leading up to the actual feast day. I mean, there's nothing saying we can't pray an Our Lady of Lourdes novena in the middle of July if we really wanted to. And sometimes, if I have a petition related to a specific saint's patronage, I do just that. But when I'm in tune with the liturgical calendar everything jives even more in my soul, know what I mean? I just love it.

And yes, I am a total Rosary Nerd and I own rosaries that are themed around seasons as well as different saints. I keep 3-4 tucked into a holding spot on the driver's side door of my car that I rotate out every seasonal quarter. That way I can pick an appropriate one each morning as I drive. Right now I have St. Francis de Sales, the Our Lady of Lourdes that you see pictured above, and the Holy Family. Come March, I'll switch to spring rosaries like the one with a Divine Mercy centerpiece, and St. Dymphna. Maybe I'll add Pope Francis in as a spring rosary too, since he was elected to the papacy in the spring. ;-) LOVE IT.

What are your rosary and novena habits, dear reader? Do you have specific rosaries that you pray with at different times of the year? When do you pray the rosary? Do write in and tell me all about it. :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Of well-behaved swords and lack of sleep...

Well hello there, dear reader! I'm not wild about this new schedule yet, as it feels like a long time between Thursday and Tuesday, but it can't be helped. Mondays...


I do have Zumba on Mondays, which is going *splendidly* and delights my whole afternoon. This week, I didn't bump into anybody nor did I get hideously tangled in my own feet by losing track of the combination. I call that a Zumba Win!

But the rest of Mondays? Yeah, no time to blog. So for now, Tuesday through Thursday it is. 

In other news, today is the first day of the Our Lady of Lourdes novena! Head to the link to pray along and get the prayers emailed to you daily. I love it when we pray together!

So, let's see, the weekend. On Friday afternoon I received a call from my ophthalmologist's office that my new reading glasses were in, so I stopped to pick them up. Ta DA!

I like them. And they're not *ah hem* bifocals. I don't like those. And my distance vision isn't poor enough yet for them to make a big difference for me. So, reading glasses it was, and the frames are purple. A match made in heaven.

Friday evening found me back at dance troupe rehearsal, and I felt a lot less rusty this week. We continued our sword choreography, and that too went better this week. Can I even tell you how excited Sword is to be tucked into my trunk each week to accompany me to dance class? He is just pleased as punch. And then he gets a starring role in our choreography, doing lots of dramatic swooping and scooping. Pretty soon we'll get to the balancing part and then he'll *really* get into it. ;-) Right now, we're still working out the logistics of doing a group number with eight women all wielding swords:

"All right, now we all bend inward, swords towards the center...Oh. Brandy's sword is right above my right eyeball, we need to change this part."


Hopefully, by festival season we'll be good to go. No lost limbs or eyeballs.

So then, I get home from dance. I'm all energized and flitting around the house in a good mood. I drink a glass of wine with Mike. Then I hear:

"Mom?" *crying!*

That's not good. I hurry upstairs.The needy party is this one:

Showing off her new Valentine leggings in happier times
Who, when I enter her room, continues to cry, but refuses to tell me what is wrong. Mike and I both work to soothe her for some time. She's had a cold, so I figured it was some discomfort related to that, but it's hard to find a remedy without really knowing what you're dealing with.

Lots of sobbing. So much sobbing. Eventually, we ascertain that her head hurts, and so we administer some ibuprofen. We give her water. Some Vicks on her chest for her cough. Fresh blankets and snuggles. Then we tiptoe back to our room. Ten minutes later:

"Mom?!" *crying!*

*long suffering sigh*

I go back in. More head shaking and crying, zero information parsed out. She simply would not calm down, and so I ended up sleeping in her room. Which means me sleeping on *the floor*, which means every muscle in my body aching the next morning. When you're twenty, you can sleep on floors pretty easily. When you're *delicately clears throat* older than twenty, you cannot.

As if to add insult to injury, in the morning, as I kept my eyes shut and willed sleep that came so rarely over that night, I hear soft whispering start up in the bed above me. An invasion of The Others? Nope, just Anne starting her day. NOW, she wants to talk. I pretend to sleep. Then I feel a not-so-gentle tapping on my shoulder.


"How are you feeling, dear?" *bleary*

"I feel great! I slept good! My head doesn't hurt anymore, Mommy!"

Joy. All joy.

She did sleep without interruption the next night, but last night I woke to coughing at around 4:30 am. More water, more Vicks. Ugghhhhh... This winter season of illnesses seems like it will NEVER end. Someone has been coughing in my house for the past six months it seems. Perhaps pestilence is about to sweep through out land next.

All right, how was your weekend? Did you remember your novena prayers today? :-) Tomorrow, I will talk about...hum, I'm not sure. But I'll think of something! And Tea Time on Thursday, I got better at the audio last week, right?! What do you want me to talk about this week? Write in!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #33 - Winter fun & fitness!

Well hello there, dear reader, happy to have you with me for another installment of:

Today I actually did everything right, yay!!! So you should have much improved audio quality. As a result, you can hear my mini office refrigerator humming in the background. :0 At any rate, I talk about my New Year's resolution to be more creative in my fitness life, and discuss my foray into Zumba!

**To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe on Feedburner to your podcatcher of choice.

Items discussed in this episode:
How are your New Year's resolutions going, dear reader? Any new fitness adventures to report in? Have you ever taken Zumba? And are you planning to pray the Our Lady of Lourdes novena as we move into February? Do write in and tell me all about it! I will talk to you again to respond to your comments and then again next Tuesday! God bless, and thank you for being here!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I'm mystery-crafting-along. And along, and along and along...

Welcome everyone to a crafty day here at Life of a Catholic Librarian! I've been a very busy bee this winter with both knitting and crocheting, and every January for the past few years I've participated in a Downton Abbey-themed mystery knit-along sponsored by Jimmy Beans Wool. This year, there is both a knit-along *and* a crochet-along (hereinafter referred to as MKAL and MCAL, respectively). Guess which Fear of Missing Out Eager Beaver decided to do both?

*raises hand*

The way that these work is that the design of the item (we only know that both are shawls) is revealed week by week. Every Sunday the designer releases a new "clue" that is an additional segment of the pattern. We're now into week 4 of the process, and I posted back after week 1 as to how things were starting out, if you want to go take a peek at the beginning of each shawl. I know that a few of you are also participating.

OK, so week 4. *sigh* Accountability time. To the surprise of absolutely no one except me, I am behind. I did really well for the first two weeks.


**And if you don't want to see spoiler pictures of the mystery as it progresses, cease reading the post now!

So, the first two clues for both the knit and crochet versions involved what I'm thinking is a center motif. Here is the MCAL after two clues:

Autumn-hued loveliness
I really love it. It's slightly asymmetrical by design, and I like how the colors are pooling. Makes me think of the fall. *heart*

The knit version, meanwhile, was having a bit of a tighter squeeze of things. It's scrunched onto a 24 inch cable as we worked in the round, but it also is a center motif. It was harder to photograph as a result, but here is the MKAL after two clues:

"Somebody help me, please, this cable is strangling me!!"
I took that picture on our anniversary weekend, and by the end of the day Sunday, I had both clues finished and was ready for clue 3. Then came the troubles.

Well, maybe "troubles" is too strong of a word, but let's just say that I'm STILL not finished with clue 3, and the rest of the crafters are well into clue 4. Both shawls moved out of the round motif and onto a flat side in clue 3, into a bit of a...wing situation. I did manage to finish the MCAL clue, and here is what it looks like:

Sort of like the logo for the Detroit Red Wings
I still love the colors, and I have faith that as the design progresses, it will look less and less like something about to take flight, but right now it looks a bit odd. I have not been able to start clue 4 yet.

As for the knit version:


It's fine, it's just that it feels like the rounds of knitting in clue 3 may never end, and I will knit, and knit, and knit this lace pattern well into the next decade of my life. I was a bit intimidated by the start of clue 3 because the design calls for you to put a bunch of stitches onto waste yarn, and I was all scared to do that for fear that several stitches would take advantage of the situation to jump ship and nefariously drop their way down, ruining my lace work. I managed it all fine though, and began to knit, but there are something like 96 rows of knitting in this clue alone. I mean, I know that we're now knitting significantly less stitches than we were before, but I still feel like crying every time I pick this thing back up, look at the pattern, and find that I'm STILL on row 15. Wasn't I on row *19* the last time I worked on this? Am I actually moving *backwards*?! It's just seeming absolutely endless to me, and clue 4 is not even in sight:

"Ahoy out there, Clue 4! We're coming to get you! It'll just be another...week or two!"

In a development that seemed to be originating from the very pits of Satan's Knitting Realm, I found a mistake in my lace last night, and had to unknit stitches to fix it and align my stitch count again. Why yes, I am IN FACT GOING BACKWARDS, just as I suspected.


I was able to fix it with just a bit of improvisation ("What the *&$! How is there *still* one extra stitch?! Forget it, I'm knitting 2 together and moving on with my life"), the lace looks fine, and my stitch count is now correct. So I'm on row 19 again.

Why God, Why?!

I'm getting a bit sick of this winged shawl at this point, but I'm slogging on. I've just come to the conclusion that I will be behind in the MKAL and I'm going to have to live with it. I don't have to like it, but I do have to live with it. Ugh.

How are your shawls going, dear knitters? I need a knitting pick-me-up, so please write in and regale me with your amusing tales. ;-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A weekend that made me reflect on weekends, & a brief note about the blogging schedule...

St. Kateri brightens every day, yes?
Hi all! Before I get started, a quick note of housekeeping. The spring semester has officially started for me at work.

*insert groan here*

Yes, that's right, not only can I no longer swing my knitting bag without hitting a half dozen students walking aimlessly through the halls while checking their phones, but I arrived at the parking lot at 8:27 am and got THE LAST SPOT. That $#@! is messed up. :0 It'll die down, but in the meantime, I'm feeling mighty sorry for myself over here. I so enjoyed the holiday and winter break, and going back into the fray of the semester is not appealing to me right now. At all. Plus I have to start teaching again. I do like teaching, don't get me wrong, but once I get out of the routine, I get all rusty and anxious about it. :) So here I sit, rusty and anxious, and I have to teach in an hour.


Oh! But I got off track, didn't I? The whole reason I mentioned any of this is that my blogging schedule will shift just the itsiest of bits, and I wanted to let you know. Still plan on 3 posts per week, one of which will be Tea Time with Tiffany. But I usually post on Mondays, and this semester I'm just not going to be able to do that. Mondays are...*shudder* We'll just say that there is no blogging time and leave it at that. :) So I'll definitely post on Tuesday and Thursday, and then also on either Wednesday or Friday, depending on which of those works out better in a given week.

I just like to keep you posted on such things. :) And I have fun stuff to talk about this week (we need a bright spot this week, for sure). Downton Abbey mystery crafting-along! Adventures with new fitness classes! Plans for Lent! It's all coming up.

As for today, I'm just thinking about my weekend. And it was *glorious*. That's part of why I'm so sad to be back to the grind at work. *sniffle*

We didn't do anything out of the ordinary. Let's see...I had dance class and rehearsal on Friday. And can I say HOW MUCH I MISSED IT?! *4 weeks had gone by since I last attended class, just given the way the holidays fell and then the funeral and our anniversary trip. AND we're learning a new group sword choreography, so many good blog-worthy stories to come, just you wait dear reader!! You should have SEEN how pleased Sword was when I pulled him out and took him to class with me. He was just about bursting with pride to accompany me while Veil stayed home stuffed into a bag with my performance shoes. :0 And Sword certainly gave my arms a good workout, I'll tell you that, ouch! But I digress, as I am wont to do. Saturday we took the kids out for breakfast and later I made a slammin' new dinner recipe of quinoa and sausage stuffed peppers. Sunday we went to Mass, ran a few errands and had friends over to watch the NFL conference championship games. All fun stuff, to be sure.

So this morning I was feeling extra melancholy. Not only am I going back to battling it out for parking spaces and ability to breathe in the hallways, but I was sad to leave Mike and the kids and part from our lovely time together.

This is all contemplation fodder for me because I remember a much different time back when Henry was 2 years old. To set the scene, we did not yet have Anne in our lives, and Mike and I had only been married for 3 years and were still fairly new to the whole parenting thing. Henry was going through the Terrible Two's, and Mike had a demanding job that he really wasn't loving (and I couldn't blame him AT ALL), and can I be honest about something? I always aim to keep it real here on Life of a Catholic Librarian. ;-) During that dark stretch of time, I would *dread* the weekends. Henry would throw epic temper tantrums that left me exhausted, we had to do ALL of the housework on the weekends because neither of us had time during the week due to work, the piles of laundry overwhelmed me just to LOOK at them, and I just felt like crying all weekend long. It was like that for quite a while. I had experienced some postpartum depression after I had Henry and I swear I didn't really go back to normal for years afterward. It was not an easy time.

Now, our kids are older and we don't have the temper tantrum issue anymore. Much. ;-) (Anne still has her moments sometimes...) I enjoy the company of my children now. I don't have that black shroud of depression hanging over my head anymore. Mike's job situation has improved immensely, and not only does he love what he does now (he's an adjunct professor of philosophy), but the flexibility of being an adjunct means that he's home during the day a lot to take care of housework, do the grocery shopping and pick up the kids, etc. Our daily "grind" isn't much of a grind anymore. And our weekends are a pleasure.

I really appreciate that now all the more given our past experience. I really, really do. It's not to say that challenges don't still come up, because of course they do, that's just part of life. But I treasure the good things that I have more now.

How about you, dear reader? Have any of you ever struggled with depression or getting through a particularly difficult time in your life? I'd love to hear about how your experience.

Tomorrow we'll be talking crafts, so if you're doing the Downton Abbey MKAL or MCAL, be ready with an update! :-)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #32 - Yes, it's actually a podcast! And a New Year's resolution check in...

Hi all! I was apprehensive about remembering how I did all of the new technological mumbo jumbo I did last week, and indeed we had a few snafus on this week's episode of:


First of all, I'm pretty sick, so I sound like Death Warmed Over. Lovely, yes I know. And THEN, the inevitable happened. I started the video, and had adjusted my audio recorder sound and all that good stuff, and I started chatting away, and nearly 15 minutes later when I stopped the video, do you want to know what I discovered, dear blog follower? Yep, I had forgotten to hit the start button on the audio recorder.


By that juncture, my voice was *worse* if that's even POSSIBLE from talking so much, and the spirit of re-recording was just not in me. So I had to grab the audio from the video, and in the process, the audio isn't fantastic, I'll tell you that. You'll have to turn your volume up a bit this week. Plus, you can hear a few notification sounds that came up on my machine while I was finagling this, so, SO sorry. A learning experience, I'll only get better from here, I promise!!

OK, so this week I discuss this new podcasting enterprise (instructions for subscribing are below) and also the state of my New Year's resolutions. How are yours going, dear reader?

These new podcast episodes of Tea Time will be about 10-15 minutes each week. I'm allowing myself to be a bit chattier since you have an audio only option now. :-) To subscribe to the audio version of Tea Time with Tiffany, just search for it in iTunes or use this link to subscribe on Feedburner to your podcatcher of choice.

Items discussed in this week's episode:
  • Again, Feedburner, if you'd like to subscribe to the show as a podcast. After a bit of an initial struggle, Feedburner and I are now friends. ;-)
  • Sacred Reading for the daily Gospel readings and additional short reflections. 
  • Living Faith devotional
How are your New Year's resolutions going? Oh! I mentioned maybe signing up for a new fitness class for one lunchtime a week at work. Do you have one that you go to and like? Zumba? Pilates? Yoga? Give me all the deets, I'd love to hear them!