Friday, June 23, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #101 - End of school year, and summer dancing!

It's a very summery and rehearsal-oriented edition of:

Today I talk about the beginning of the summer festival season, and new choreography mishaps. There's also lots of book talk in this one, and a new novena is beginning! Happy feast of the Sacred Heart!





**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 amusing spring hafla  post

On My Bookshelf - We've got a litany of things this week!
  1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  2. The Well
  3. Murder Plainly Read (Amish Quilt Shop Mystery #4)
  4. Melanie's recommendation for Henry: Will Wilder #1 - The Relic of Perilous Falls

Prayer Corner - Sacred Heart novena wrapping up. St. Maria Goretti novena starts soon over at Pray More Novenas!

Creative Commons - Anne's summer "tunic." Pattern is Merridy



What creative endeavors are you up to this late June day? How are you enjoying the Summer Book Club? Looking forward to chatting with you!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 1...

Well HELLO there, friends! Good to be with you on this book club Wednesday. This is the first part in an 8 part series, as we read The Well, by Stephanie Landsem. This is the first book in the Living Water Series, which take events and people from the Scriptures, and draw them out into full length fictional stories. This book in the series chronicles the journey of the woman at the well, from the Gospel of John. Today in part 1 of our book club posts, we'll be discussing chapters 1 - 4. *beams*

All right, SO, I'll be honest right from the outset and admit that this is not the book I voted for in our poll. :0 I loved the premise, loved that it was based on Scripture, and that this book had come highly recommended from my best gal pal Cristina. It absolutely deserved a spot on our voting list, but I tend to gravitate towards lighter, contemporary fiction. Thus, naturally, I voted for the cat in the library mystery book. 😂

So I started this book unsure of how my impression would turn out. I was worried that it might contain heavy material I wouldn't enjoy reading as much. That being said, I demolished the first 4 chapters lickety split, and while the setting is certainly not "light," it is quite thought-provoking, and the story is paced very well.

We have 2 main characters at the outset. Mara, our intended woman at the well, and Shem, a boy from a wealthy family who is going to be sent to Sychar, Mara's Samaritan village, due to an altercation he has with a Roman soldier in his hometown. Indeed, there are some things that happen early in the book that make a person wince. Mara's sweet little brother Asher, whom it sounds like was born with clubfoot, is seen as being punished for "sins" given his medical condition. The perception is that they are the sins of his mother, who is estranged from his father. Mara also knows that her mother is engaging in inappropriate activity with another man, and she is desperately trying to hide this information from the rest of the village, who would shun the family if they found out, and cut off their limited food supply.

Mara is bearing all of this emotional burden, plus the women of the village aren't treating her very nicely, seeing her as being less than them given her dire financial situation. Her mother, who rarely gets out of bed, is obviously suffering from a severe case of depression, but of course no one knew what to do about that back then. My heart just broke for the family.

Then we have Shem, who is injured by a Roman soldier while trying to protect a woman from the soldier's unwanted advances. Another wince worthy moment. Women are not treated or seen very highly in this society, and it is difficult to read about. Shem is sent away by his father, to protect him from a death sentence by the Roman soldiers, though his father isn't exactly sympathetic about the whole situation. But the scene with Shem's escape from his village over to Sychar was quite compelling.

These first 4 chapters certainly grabbed me. I read them all in a single sitting. I found the story intriguing, and the characters very relatable. I'm curious to see where the story is headed once Shem reaches Sychar, and I'm assuming, meets Mara.

What did you all think of chapters 1 - 4? Next week we'll move on to chapters 5 - 8!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"This year, I'm finally going to be realistic." Christmas in June! 2017 edition...


*unladylike snort*

I write one of these posts every year. If you select the "Christmas in July" tag that is at the bottom of this post, you'll see what I mean. ;-) Granted, I know it isn't July yet, but late June still counts for these purposes. This is what happens, every single year, without fail:

The weather gets warmer. Our non-centrally air conditioned house gets uncomfortably hot during the day. The evenings, especially when I cook, get hot and sweaty. I get irritable about being hot and sweaty. The kids fight more because they're hot and sweaty. And I inevitably take a long look at my yarn stash and realize that Christmas Fever has hit, and that I need to make a list of gifts I'd like to make for the holidays. Oh, and that I need to procure yet MORE yarn in order to make this happen.

What can I say? I'm weird.

There's something about this point in early summer that inspires my creative spirit in this way. It doesn't help that Knit Picks always has a summer yarn sale, either.

So I make a list. If you looked back through some of those posts I mentioned at the outset, you'd know that I tend to go overboard when I make aforementioned list. I mean...things can really get out of hand.

I know what you're thinking. "Tiffany. You're talking about your CHRISTMAS CRAFTING LIST, of gifts you'd like to make your friends and family to celebrate the birth of Our Savior. These are things that you will KNIT and CROCHET. Don't really old ladies crochet? You know, those toilet bowl cozies and granny square afghans that were all the rage in 1972? If they can do this, surely, this whole process can't be very stressful." That's what you would THINK. But the problem is that I get a tad...over ambitious. I make a list. A reasonable list. OK, a *slightly* more than reasonable list. Then I add to it. And add to it. And tweak it. Before you know it, I have hats and mittens out the wazoo, and I'm in tears on December 22nd, trying to turn the heel of a sock, knitting resentment into every single stitch. Resentment that I haven't worked on anything without feeling pressured (or for myself) since May, and that all of the joy and fun has been positively SUCKED out of the experience of crafting for me. And it's totally my own fault, but there you have it.

So, for what it's worth, here is the 2017 list. I like to hold myself accountable by checking back on the list in the fall so see how much I've gotten done. 😇

Shawl for my friend Irena - She requested this as a gift idea well over a year ago (oopsies!) and it's just gotten neglected on the list. It WILL be done for Christmas 2017. I've even started it *halo* and here is how much I have done:

soooooo, YEAH. Just a wee bit more work to do on this one.


Hat and mittens for Anne - She has outgrown her old ones and asked if I would make her a new set. How can I turn that down? I'm thinking an owl hat, and coordinating striped mittens in a soft merino wool.

Mittens, and new kitchen cloths and towels for my Mother-in-law. - She faithfully uses these items that I have made her before, and her current ones are getting worn out. She's very knit worthy, and so I press on with the kitchen cotton and yet more mittens.

The infamous Mike sweater that has been crossed off on Christmas lists for YEARS AND YEARS - So yeah, I should finally make this for him. ;-) He does have a cardigan I made him, but this is a cabled pullover that would be a real heirloom piece. It may take 2 years to make, so I'm promising nothing. :0

And that's it. Henry got Christmas socks last year, and I didn't make anything for Anne last year, so they're swapping turns. I also want to make some new accessories and a sweater for myself this year (more to come during Tea Time on all of that) so I want to save room. Thing is, if someone asks me to make something for them, I always do it. So you've been warned. If you ask me to make anything for you, you will have to live with the panicky knitting posts come October. :0

Do you plan a Christmas crafting list in the summer, or am I the only strange one? Bueller?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #100 - A milestone!

It's our first big milestone episode of:

Today we wax nostalgic a bit, I cry about Anne finishing Kindergarten, and we try out our new segments for the first time!





**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:

On my Bookshelf - The Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter book 2), Murder Served Simply: An Amish Quilt Shop Mystery (book 3).
The Prayer Corner - Sacred Heart Novena  
Creative Commons - Kakurenbo Socks


So what's going on with you? Books, prayers, crafts? Prepping for the Summer Book Club? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June novena nerds, report in!

My latest piece over at Catholic Mom is up, and it got me to thinking!

http://catholicmom.com/2017/06/12/experiencing-gods-mercy-feast-sacred-heart/

Novenas. I like to pray one per month, and I was slacking on June. ;-) It's always a humbling experience when you see Lisa Hendey tweet something out about a new article over at Catholic Mom, you admire the embedded featured photo, then think to yourself: "That sounds like something I would like to read." And only then do you remember that YOU wrote the article.

Middle age, peeps. It's the pits. 😄

So that's what happened again this month, and along with my hyper organized, early submission of aforementioned article, I also forgot to set things up to pray the Sacred Heart novena along with my group of friends like we had been planning.

Oopsies!

We're back on track now. And the novena starts TODAY! Pray More Novenas is hosting this novena, so you can sign up to receive the daily emails with all of the prayers included, happily. I also tweet a link out to the prayers each day, so if you follow me on Twitter you can follow along that way as well. I put the Twitter widget back on the right sidebar of the non-mobile site for the blog, so you can link to it right on there if you'd like. I remember someone asking me about that widget a while back after I removed it (Cindy?) and I've been toying with putting it back, so now here it is, back. :0 I know not everyone uses Twitter, so this way you can still see what I'm up to on there even if you don't have a Twitter account.

The feast of the Sacred Heart is next Friday, June 23rd. I talk all about it over at Catholic Mom, if you'd like to go take a peek. We love comments over there!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Adventures in vegetation: A foray into a summer CSA...

So, I've been thinking about food a lot lately. ;-) I've been enjoying the foray I mentioned last week of moving into menu planning, and trying to get my kids to expand their palate into actual healthy food. A few years ago, my sister gifted me this book that first got me thinking about this issue:

https://www.amazon.com/French-Kids-Eat-Everything-Discovered/dp/006210330X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1497291051&sr=1-1

I really enjoyed it. I love memoir/slice of life stories such as these. And back then, I started trying to incorporate more whole, unprocessed foods into our routine and refrigerator. I would definitely say that it had a lasting impact, albeit a small one. A large impact necessitates more action on the part of the main dinner supplier (me), and I was still a bit too chicken to puree up some Brussels sprouts and tell my kids that they had to try it. I was content that they started to occasionally try different foods and grow to like a few of them. We had actual nibbles of guacamole, and consumption of corn on the cob. Baby steps, right?

True, but at this glacial pace the kids would barely have moved on to an actual bean before college. I thought of the book again recently, and re-downloaded it from my Kindle Cloud to read again. It re-motivated me. Then Shauna'h introduced me to Prep Dish, and then I found out about this new CSA that would deliver right to my office.

CSA's have always fascinated me. For the longest time, people around here would mention them, and I would wonder what that vegetable share acronym stood for (Community Supported Agriculture). I just knew it sounded like a really wonderful concept. Seasonal, weekly fruit and vegetables, all locally grown and harvested. If only my family would eat vegetables.

😱

I like most vegetables. Mike definitely likes them less than I do, but he always eats them. The kids? Well, they consider it torture to eat vegetables. They're pretty good about fruit, though Henry still requires a bit of prodding. Unless it's watermelon. Watermelon is the guy EVERYBODY wants to hang out with at the party.

I figured it just wouldn't be worth the money for me to sign up for one. There are lots of CSA's where I live in WNY. Tons of farms around here. And the ones I'd been familiar with required you to sign up and pay for the entire season up front. This new one I found out about is week-by-week, with no minimum number of weeks that you must claim. You pay a small registration fee ($15), and then from week to week decide whether or not to claim the produce. You find out on Fridays what will be in the boxes for the following week. If you don't want it, or will be out of town or what have you, you just put a hold on your delivery, and you don't pay for it. I decided to take a chance and sign up. I chose the smallest share, which is $16 per week if you choose to get that box.

Last week we got an English cucumber, 2 Hothouse tomatoes, a bunch of radishes, romaine lettuce, kale (yes, yes, I know, more to come on this ;-)), and a pint of strawberries. This week we're getting more strawberries and cucumbers, but also Boston Bibb lettuce, spinach, sweet potatoes, and a pint of yellow onions. Because Prep Dish always uses seasonal ingredients, there is inevitably overlap with what I'm getting in the CSA. Next week, the sweet potatoes, onions and spinach are going right into recipes from Prep Dish. The strawberries are always gone within a single day, regardless. Everybody in the house loves freshly picked strawberries. Mike and I both use lettuce constantly for salads at lunch. So it's been working out really well.

It's still early days, but so far so good. The kids are skeptical, there is no doubt about that. But let the record reflect that Anne ate baked Kale Chips yesterday and declared them good. I'm go claim my Mother of the Month medal right over here. ;-)

It doesn't always go so well. There was the Great Pineapple Salsa Incident of 2017. It had cilantro in it. Cilantro is green. Hence, it is met with utmost suspicion and disdain. The result of this little mutiny at the dinner table had unfortunate results for the entire family. But we made it through. Henry, in particular, looks particularly pained when he looks at the magnetic menu board I have stuck up on the refrigerator. His eating habits are much more ingrained than Anne's. But we're getting there, we are. He loved the lemon blueberry muffins that I made yesterday for breakfast.

I've been enjoying the heck out of finding out what my CSA box will have in it each week, and exploring the new recipes from Prep Dish. Summer isn't my favorite season, as you well know. I don't like hot weather. But I do love that it's dance performance season. And I am truly loving this foray into belonging to a CSA and really savoring seasonal food. I'm hoping this inspiration lasts through the fall harvest and beyond!

Any other CSA members out there? I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #99 - A few actual details on current writing and podcasting projects...

We're back with video and a fresh new format for the 99th edition of:

Today I talk about my plans for the 100th episode, how Tea Time will be structured going forward, and FINALLY, details on my book project. 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 "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com


Our freshened format will consist of weekly to monthly segments of:

  • What's Happening?!
  • On My BookShelf
  • The Prayer Corner
  • The Creative Commons
  • Saint of the Month 
Also, our timeline for The Well/Summer Book Club is now included in the Catholic Book Club tab at the top of the blog!
I'm very excited! I really think this captures the spirit of the show all along, and just gives it a fresh shot in the arm. What are your creative endeavors for this summer? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Feeling inspired with meal planning...

If your experience is anything like mine, your children have developed some eating habits that are, let's delicately say, less than ideal. Before I had my first baby, I didn't really think about this issue at all. I figured I would breastfeed for a year, and then my child would eat nothing but homemade applesauce and exotic gourmet meals that I would suddenly find time to make.

*hope springs eternal* 😇

Well.

The breastfeeding part worked out, but the rest went into the Giant Fanciful Idea Receptacle In The Sky. My toddlers ate exactly what I swore would never happen: vast amounts of Goldfish crackers, those weird little puff things, an obscene amount of macaroni and cheese, and a proclaimed love for pepperoni pizza. The most "exotic" thing they ate was french fries. Now, my kids are 6 and 11. While they no longer eat puffs, they are still quite reluctant to try new foods. They do like fresh fruit, but the "v word" makes their faces pinch up like someone has very indelicately relieved a gas situation.

I've tried for many years now to get them to be more adventurous in their eating. It's a slow process, to be sure. But Anne now likes shrimp and Henry has tried Roast Beef on Weck (it's a Buffalo thing).

#VictoryisMine

We're getting there. But the only way they try new things is if they have no choice via what I make for dinner. And making something healthy and exotic for dinner means that I have to plan it. I need to make the menu over the weekend, procure all necessary groceries, and have things ready to go for the week. This does happen, but not always. It can be exhausting. :0

While I was visiting my sister over Memorial Day weekend, she introduced me to Prep Dish.


This is a subscription website whereby you get a menu for the week of 4 dinners, a salad, a breakfast, a snack and a dessert. The other days, of course, you can have leftovers and other stand by's, go out to eat, etc. You get a big grocery list for the week, broken down into categories (Dairy, Fruit, etc). Then, you have a "prep day" in which you are guided through preparing each of these meals, and storing the prepared ingredients away into your refrigerator. As you move through the week, you pull out the necessary prepped items, and have only a few steps to complete the meal. This is very handy during the work and school week, as you can imagine. The food is based on either a gluten free approach or Paleo. We as a family do not need to use either of these restrictions, so I simply use the gluten free menu and just include an ingredient we would normally use rather than it's recommended gluten free counterpart. The meals are mainly based upon a whole food and fresh ingredient approach, which is of course universal. And it's delicious, truly.

This isn't an affiliate post, I'm gettin' nothin' for writing this. :0 I just signed up for the free trial, and I have to say that I love it. The grocery list is THE BOMB. The categorization made it infinitely easier to find things at the grocery store. It's fun trying new things, and the food tastes wonderful. Monday we had a citrus marinated chicken with pineapple salsa, and tonight we're having a ginger/soy sauce stir fry with beef and bell peppers. Friday is an egg fritatta with mushrooms and kalamata olives. I brought in the snack with me to work today, which is a yogurt dill sauce for dipping fresh carrots and zucchini.

I'm enjoying having someone else do the planning for me. Has anyone else tried a menu planning subscription like this? I'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Official Summer Book Club timeline!

Good afternoon friends! I'm happy to be with you today, as, if I'm being totally honest, it's been a rough couple of days. Both kids had allergic reactions or some kind of a virus over the weekend ("strip down, I need to inspect your red spots again!!"). So a lot of time was spent on aforementioned rash inspection, calls to the pediatrician, and administration of TLC. Everybody is fine now, but it was a stressful go. I don't have a ton of brain power to write a witty post, but I thought I'd be up to planning out our Summer Book Club. So let's have at it!




The consensus was weekly posts/discussions, biting off about approximately 4 chapters at a time. I still want to give time for people to procure the book and start reading, so how about we start the week of June 18th. That's the feast of Corpus Christi, which feels like a good omen. ;-) I'll aim for the book club posts to be on Wednesdays again, so that would mean our first discussion would take place June 21st. Sound good?

Our timeline would look like this:

June 21st - Chapters 1-4
June 28th - Chapters 5-8
July 5th - Chapters 9-12
July 12th - Chapters 13-16
July 19th - Chapters 17-20
July 26th - Chapters 21-24
August 2nd - Chapters 25-29
August 9th - Chapters 30-33 plus Epilogue

What do you think? The penultimate week has 5 chapters because there isn't an even number, and the last week has the addition of the Epilogue, but the others are all 4 chapters. I think this is doable!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #98 - A Franciscan faith journey...

It's a Tea Time special edition this week, with my beloved sister in tow!


No video this week, but an audio-only show in which my sister and I talk about faith journeys, Franciscan spirituality, and Third Orders (a way for lay people to affiliate with a religious order). Please join us!

If you'd like to download this episode, you can subscribe via the directions below, or you can click on that little pillar icon on the right side of the streaming audio bar to download just this episode from the Internet Archive.


**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 "Tea Ceremony" from PlayonLoop.com

Items mentioned in this episode:


How was your Memorial weekend, dear listener? Have you ever contemplated a Third Order, or in some way felt a special bond with a specific religious order and their charism? We'd love to hear from you!