Thursday, December 8, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #76 - Advent tranquility & journaling...

Happy Thursday all! And happy feast of the Immaculate Conception! Thank you for joining me for another installment of:

This week I talk all things Advent and Christmas shopping, and we chat a bit about holy days of obligation. 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

Items mentioned in this episode:
What are you up to this Advent? How are your Christmas preparations going? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Anticipating Joy: 2nd Week of Advent...

Happy 2nd week of Advent everyone! I am feeling particularly joyful this week, and I think it's because Christmas is just a little bit closer. Or maybe it's because I finished my grading for the semester yesterday.

*trumpets blare!*

Never, in all of my years of academia, both as a student and librarian, have I EVER been happier for a semester to come to a close. Good grief!

At any rate, here we are nearing the halfway point of Advent. And I have my handy dandy journal prompt for us to delve into this week. Ready? Get your tea.


John encourages us to change our lives to prepare for Jesus's coming. What changes do I need to make this Advent?

This week's gospel was the dramatic retelling of how wacky St. John the Baptist was living in the desert by himself, wearing some sort of camel hair garment (ouch! could you imagine sitting down in that thing?! :0) and eating locusts and wild honey. Confident and self-assured in his own eccentricity, John the Baptist was. ;-) And his message is quite bold:

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"

 "Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

Matthew 3:1-12

The message from these passages is clear to me: John does not want us to be passive Christians in our relationship with Christ, and in our example to others. We need to LIVE the Christian message. Although John did not shy away from shouting out provocative messages, I do not think he is telling us that we have to be in anyone's face loudly reciting the Gospel message. He wants us to be bold in our proclamation by example.

So what does this mean for my life? I am a Nervous Nelly. I should be constantly at peace with my faith and my Lord, and yet am I? I am not. :0 I am always frittering about to and fro, anxious about this thing and that. And why, and for what? This is a useless exercise, and no amount of self-awareness on this issue has ever effected a long term difference. But Advent and Lent always offer us a fresh start in terms of self-examination and spiritual goal setting. This week, I am going to try and take John's advice. I am going to adopt peace as my aspirational Advent goal, living that out within my own little universe, and passing it on to others where I can.

That is the change that I need to make this Advent. What is your Advent goal this week? What small thing can you do to change your life this Advent? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Adventures in the arts this 2nd week of Advent...

Happy feast of St. Nicholas everyone! :) I am coming off of a SUPER packed weekend with the kids, journeying to various productions in the performing arts. I just love this time of year. *heart*

Henry, in particular, had a REALLY big weekend. He was cast in a kids speaking role for our local community theater's production of "Get Smart," which had its opening weekend this past Friday. AND he had his very first ever experience as an altar server at our parish's 5 pm vigil Mass for the 2nd Sunday of Advent!

Henry in character ;-)  

I was really worried about the play, because Henry is a more reserved child. On top of that, he has struggled with a speech disfluency (commonly known as a stutter) for a number of years now, and so this was a big undertaking for him. That usually is only an issue (when it even is an issue, which isn't all the time) in conversational speech, so I was cautiously optimistic for reciting memorized lines. And indeed, he did GREAT. We are all very proud of Henry. Going to all of the rehearsals, memorizing lines, helping out with scene changes, performing his role...that's a lot for an 11 year old. Very impressive!

And right before the Saturday show, he had his inauguration as an altar server. :0 Mike and I were beaming with pride as Henry made his way down the aisle as a candle bearer in the opening processional. He was shepherded carefully by a more experienced server, and he performed all of his duties perfectly. In a totally surprise move, we were asked by one of the ushers to bring up the gifts during the Mass, so the whole thing was just one big warm and fuzzy. Henry told me that he loved serving at the Mass and that it made the time fly by. ;-) I'm looking forward to seeing him thrive in this role throughout the year.

On Sunday, while Henry was performing at his matinee, Anne and I made our annual pilgrimage to see "The Nutcracker."

All dressed up and ready to go selfie :-)
Anne seemed much more into the story this year, and I REALLY enjoyed sharing it with her. We also did a bit of Nutcracker-related shopping, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, spent FAR too much on glittery wooden nutcracker dolls and marzipan Christmas tree ornaments. You only get to do it once a year, right? ;-)

Anne posing with creepy animatronic reindeer during the shopping portion of our excursion
"The Nutcracker" is very special to me. We go every year, and it is a tradition that I savor. It is so festive and cheery. I really hope that, even when they get older, I can drag a child/grandchild to it for the rest of my life. They owe me this. :0

After our busy weekend, the kids happily set their shoes out by the hearth last night, and sure enough, St. Nicholas came for an overnight visit!

He always leaves chocolate coins, books, and saint dolls. ;-) This year, Anne received St. Teresa of Calcutta, and Henry got St. Dominic Savio. Anne packed up both St. Teresa and Pete the Cat and toted both to school with her to show her teacher.  So precious.

How was YOUR 2nd Sunday of Advent, dear reader? I would love to hear from you. *beams*

Friday, December 2, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #75 - 1st week of Advent busyness for precious Henry!

Happy Advent everybody!

Today talk about our busy first week of Advent, especially for Henry. We also talk new altar server duties, how I felt creatively energized by my Thanksgiving staycation, and Advent devotionals. 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

Items mentioned in this episode:
How is your first week of Advent going, dear reader and listener? I would love to hear all about it in the comments!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Anticipating Joy: 1st Week of Advent

Hello all, and welcome to week 1 in our series for Advent 2016: Anticipating Joy! There is no formal structure for these, it's just a place for us to leave our thoughts and aspirations for each week of Advent this year. I am using a few different Advent devotionals right now, including Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations, and Goodness and Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. I have been enjoying reading them in the evenings, and have been using them to keep things in mind as I proceed about my days this Advent. I also purchased a copy of the Living with Christ Prayer Journal 2017, and I started it this past Sunday, for the 1st Sunday of Advent. This is not a daily journal, but a weekly one, corresponding to the Sundays of the liturgical calendar and the Mass readings. And it occurred to me that each entry has a little prompt for us to use in these posts. That's a yay! So I'm going to use those for this 4 week series. Let's get started with our first one!

Paul tells us to put aside godless ways and live in God's light. What attitude or action should I reject this Advent?

Don'cha love it?! I really like this little journal. There is also room to write down names to pray for that week, and there's a reflection to read. I live for this stuff. But back on track... For this prompt, I wrote down:disquiet/frenzied worry and anxiety. Frenzied is a word that I often think of when the holiday shopping/meal planning season comes to mind. And I really want to work to avoid that. I want Advent to be a season of contented, reflective contemplation, and anticipation of Christmas.

For the past 2 years, our priest has chosen to process into Mass during Advent without an opening hymn. He and the altar servers walk in in silence, and then take their seats on the altar to quietly pray for a few moments before Mass begins. I am loving this, and I think it feeds into the sentiment I described above quite well.

That is my goal for the week: To be internally quiet and peaceful, and not give into the chaos that emotional turmoil and anxiety bring. What is YOUR response to this Advent prompt? I would love to hear all about it in the comments!

Monday, November 28, 2016

A crafty Thanksgiving weekend...

Hello ALL! It's been a week since I talked to you last, and indeed, a lot happened. But do I have the ability to detail it all out in all its fascinating-ness? ;-) No, I do not, because I am in GRADING HELL. Alas. This should be the last bad week, to week and a half, and then I will be free. Free to not have to dread checking my email anymore, and free to do something, anything, other than teaching, grading, and clicking various and sundry things in our course management system.


I'll make it. In the meantime, I will regale you with photos of my craft projects from the weekend, and we will definitely have our Advent Anticipating Joy series on Wednesday, and Tea Time on Friday!

SO. Crafty Busy Bee over here, reporting in for duty! I had SUCH a restful, invigorating staycation last week. Being at home and free from work for that spell made me realize just how much I *needed* that space and creative shot in the arm. So, so badly, I needed it. I feel re-inspired by my crafting and my dancing, and I have lots of fun news on that front! Here we have my current in-the-basket project, which is the Harry Potter scarf for Henry, in Gryffindor colors:

It's so thick and soft, I kind of want to keep it for myself :0
I made a ton of progress on it this weekend. I think I'm up to 4 blocks of each color now. So I'm about halfway done, I'd estimate. It's made using Tunisian Knit Stitch, and I'm really loving this new technique! I also got my craft queue all straightened out, in terms of both holiday gifts and winter items for myself and Mike/the kids. I feel excited to start some of those projects!

My main house project goal for the week was to reupholster our kitchen chairs. They were DISGUSTING. This is what we're working with here:

Last Wednesday, Anne and I went to JoAnn's, procured new fabric, and now we have this:

Ta DA!
I'm quite thrilled with how they turned out, and the process was much easier than I thought it would be. I used this tutorial, if you're interested in refreshing your own chairs!

So, I was productive. We also hosted Thanksgiving dinner, I did a bunch of online Christmas shopping on Black Friday (online, because the alternative? *shudder*), we watched Gilmore Girls, and we procured our official Christmas tree of 2016:

It was a great staycation. How was *your* Thanksgiving?! I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving week, and Advent plans!

Hi all! I am home on vacation for the entire WEEK. The children are in school, I am in my pj's drinking coffee and crocheting non-stop, and I am downright blissful about it. I realized this weekend that this semester really started to eat away at my spirit. I lost my passion for my hobbies and the creative endeavors that I derive satisfaction in. I felt down and downtrodden a good portion of the time, and on the whole I was just beleaguered. Over the course of the semester, I held onto my love of writing via our Autumn Prayer Journal Curators/INSPIRE series, and in November, my choreography endeavors and holiday crafting revived that dormant creativity within me just begging to come alive again. It feels really, really good.

And so on this wintry late November day here in WNY:

First snow!
I am excitedly planning several things. First, this winter, I am planning lots of new dance and crafting stuff. Stay tuned for all sorts of posts on those this upcoming season!

In that vein, here is my current work-in-progress that I began this weekend:

Gryffindor scarf for Henry! The pattern is available for free here.
It's Tunisian crochet, which is a totally new craft for me. You use a crochet hook to pull up stitches in a long row, then do a backwards pass to finish them off all at the same time. This uses the Tunisian Knit Stitch, which makes the front side look just like stockinette knitting, but provides a much thicker fabric on the back. It's fascinating!

And on the dance mind is completely awhirl. I'm taking a choreography workshop at my studio that starts in January, the spring hafla is in April, and I'm contemplating going to an out-of-town workshop with a well-known dancer in June. Just thinking about it all makes me feel so  happy.

The other part of my planning process involves Advent. I have started compiling a few little somethings for the kids for the feast of St. Nicholas, and those have begun to arrive, like precious little St. Teresa of Calcutta here:

Shining Light Saint Dolls
Henry is getting St. Dominic Savio this year, he is still on his way. And I'm thinking that we'll definitely do an Advent series right here on this blog. I'm calling it "Anticipating Joy," and each week we'll have a theme and write in to each other with an anecdote about our week related to that theme. I'm going to be using Advent with St. Teresa of Calcutta, but I also have a new prayer journal and an additional devotional, and my theme could be inspired from any one of these. Your anecdote can be related to something you found in a devotional, or just something from your life generally. I'll probably post them on Wednesdays, I think that mid-week slot. Sound like a plan? We'll begin next week!

Speaking of next week, that is when I will be blogging again. I will be on blogging hiatus for the remainder of this week for the holiday, including Tea Time. But it's going to be a GREAT Advent and Christmas season this year, I just feel it, and I love that we're sharing it together. *heart*

What are your plans for Thanksgiving, dear readers? Mike and I are hosting our parents and my grandmother, so we're in full-on cooking and house cleaning mode. How about you? Write in and tell me all about it! And I'll be with you again next week. Until then!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #74 - An Advent devotional with St. Teresa of Calcutta

Hello to you all! And welcome to a special edition of:

Today I'm honing in on Advent, since it is quickly approaching! And I'm going to share a review of an Advent devotional that I cannot wait to use this year, Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta, by Heidi Hess Saxton. Let's sit together with some tea and chat about it! If you do not have time to watch the video, I am including a written review below the show notes, as well. :) But the video will have all the fun action shots of the book!

**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

Items mentioned in this episode

For those who prefer a written version, here is my review!

This cute little book by Heidi Hess Saxon is THE BOMB. I met Heidi at the CNMC last June, and given how sweet she was, I had a good feeling about her take on St. Teresa of Calcutta, and my expectations were more than met. This is a daily devotional for both Advent AND Christmas seasons (an author after my own liturgical calendar heart), and each short entry contains scripture references from the daily lectionary, a personal anecdote from Heidi relating to the theme of the day, along with quotes from St. Teresa, several reflection questions, and a prayer. There are special installments for the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and the feasts of St. Nicholas and Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the O Antiphons begin on December 17th. You'll be able to customize the book to each individual Advent this way, as the days fall differently during the week each year. There will be meditations you may not need one year, and so the next year it will all feel fresh and new again!

I really love the tone and feel of this book. Heidi keeps it simple, but profound and personal, and that is the EXACT right vibe I was anticipating from a book featuring St. Teresa of Calcutta. She really hits the nail on the head with her selections, and even the small format of the book captures this spirit.

This book retails for $12.99, and can be ordered right now through Amazon for $11.49 in paperback, $9.99 for Kindle. For devotionals, I prefer print copies, but everyone is different, and it's certainly nice to have options! Do you own a copy of this book and plan to use it during Advent? Let me know in the comments!

Say...what do you think of using this book as our journaling aid for Advent, in the spirit of what we did with the INSPIRE posts this fall? We could have a weekly post to chat about our thoughts on the weeks themes and scripture readings. Chime in please!

*I received a free copy of Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta from Franciscan Media in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Autumn Prayer Journal Curators, volume 8...

Happy Wednesday everyone! I am in a good mood today, and very happy to be with you on his mid-week moment that is bringing me much joy, given that it's heralding that the end of my semester is near.


I think that this will be the last week in our Autumn prayer journaling series. With American Thanksgiving next week, that is signalling the end of autumn, at least to me. Blogging will be sparse next week due to the holiday and family time as well. I'd like to do something special and reflective for Advent too, but it would obviously be somewhat different. Thoughts? I'll be getting back to you with my ideas as well. :)

In the meantime, let's get started with INSPIRE for the week!

Inspiration -My inspiration this week is my grandmother. She turns 90 today, and has more spunk than anybody I know. Her quote of the week:

"I never minded when people asked me my age. 88, 89, totally fine. But 90? I have to admit, that is a tough milestone."

Not sweating a milestone age til *90*? I want to be her when I grow up!

Nourish - I've been praying my 54 day rosary novena steadily. Accountability Moment: in the frenzy of the birthday party and hafla on Saturday, I totally forgot until Sunday morning. But on Sunday, despite still feeling quite distracted, I got back on track and have not forgotten again. *gold star!*

Spread Joy -Making the effort to not jump to conclusions about the intentions of others. Most of the time, people have good intentions. I've really been keeping that at the forefront this week.

Projects - I am on the crown decreases for Mike's hat!


And I ordered some yarn during Knit Picks' big annual sale. Self-striping yarn to make socks for the kids, an entrelac wrap for myself, a sweater for a group knit-along, and a hat for a friend. Feeling excited to cast on these new projects!

Involve - I am reviewing an Advent devotional featuring St. Teresa of Calcutta, and will chat all about it with you tomorrow on Tea Time! Let's get excited. ;-)

Reflect - Lord, I haven't always been at my best these past few months. Thank you for never abandoning me.

End Goals -To carry forward the fruits of this INSPIRE series into Advent with us!

Have an INSPIRE list for the week? Leave it in the comments!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Happy creativity and happy birthday!

Hello to you all! I'm still absorbed in the overwhelming nature of this Semester From You Know Where, but I'm hanging in. I certainly had a fun weekend, and I'm finding that I've been reveling in those more now; I savor the times I know that I can just be at ease and enjoy.

My grandmother's 90th birthday party went off without a hitch. Later that evening, my hafla too went exceedingly well, and guess who got to snuggle up to the adorable emcee?

That's my Mike :0
 Indeed, for the first time ever, our little dance studio had an emcee (so that Claire didn't have to do everything herself) and he was a gigantic hit. I was very proud that he is mine. *heart*<3 p="">
<3 p="">
And my choreography? I have to say, I LOVED having a choreography again! I felt so inspired by choreographing, I plan to do it that way again for the spring hafla in April. I'm already starting to listen to music so that I can begin the creative process. And after the soul sucking nature of this current semester? That feels GOOD. Really, really good, to be able to produce something creatively that I feel happy with. The key question is: what sort of song should I choose? I loved my little drum this time, but I suppose I should try something different. Sampling some music now!


I've got lots of fun posts coming up this week. We have the INSPIRE series tomorrow, and that may be our final installment for the year. Want to carry it forward for Advent? Send me in some suggestions for how we could do that! Thursday is Tea Time, and I have a fun Advent devotional to share with you on there this week, how nifty is THAT?!