Friday, July 3, 2020

Christmas in July crafting begins, and preparation for the changes at mass...

Happy July everyone, and I hope that the new month is starting off well for you! Given our current situation, I see the start of a new month as an opportunity for a fresh beginning, and for new hope. It will also herald the return to mass for our family, which I'll circle back to.

Late June/early July always means that I start to think about crafting holiday gifts, and this year is no exception. If anything, being home more amidst the pandemic means that I'm thinking about crafting even more than usual! :-0 My current goal is to finish things that I have in progress so that I can begin working on a gift list. That means the Journey shawl that I've mentioned here a few times. And it is nearly done, save for a few ends to weave in, and blocking!

Pattern is The Journey via Expression Fiber Arts, yarn is the Journey Hues kit in Alpaca Silk DK  

Very pleased with this! I used nearly all of my yarn, so just fyi to make sure you get gauge if you decide to make this. ;-) It's *very* warm, a definite late fall/winter wear in terms of use. But so soft and cuddly to wrap in. As I was binding off, I was marveling at how large it was once it was freed from the needles!

I'm also finishing up a pair of socks for myself, and as soon as I finsh those, I plan to cast on for these:

Custom dyed NFL themed yarn in Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills colors for Mike, Henry and my dad. And so the gift knitting will begin!

Thus, we have socks. Those are on the gift list. Also, my mother-in-law asked for a cotton top that I have the yarn for and will cast on soon. I have a cabled cardigan for Mike that is partially complete and has been in my in-progress pile for something like 5 years. 😂 It's just a big undertaking, I tell you! And I'd like to make a few cowls for my grandmother and aunts that see on Christmas eve each year. So that's...3 pairs of socks. 1 top. 1 complicated cardigan. :-0 And 3 cowls. That's mangeable. I think? I'll post updates throughout the summer and fall!

One thing that made me smile this week:

I saw this series of seasonal songbird quilted totes in Anne's monthly issue of Birds & Blooms magazine. Yes, my 9 year old has a print magazine subscription, her mother is a librarian, after all. She and I absolutely love birds. So I went to the Bradford Exchange website and signed up to recive all 4. The first one came this week, and I have to say that I love it, and the quality is high. It's well made and thick, has a zip top and interior pockets, and has a detachable bird house charm. Only problem is that the price I thought was for the entire series of 4, is for a single bag. 😂 I could just keep this one and cancel the subscription for the rest, but to be honest, I think I'm going to keep the subscription. I need more smiles these days, and the size is perfect to tote my kntting and/or work supplies around in. So I can look forward to receiving a new bag every 2 months! The one above is the spring edition, and I'll receive summer in late August. :)

And so the other thing on my mind these days is returning to mass. I'll be honest, I'm trepidatious, because the sheer volume of restrictions and full on prohibition on socializing and interacting while at the church really depresses me. I understand, mostly, it seems to me that a lot of this is common sense, and as adults that have been living through this the past 3.5 months, we could be trusted to do the right thing without quite so much structure, but it is what it is. I did wonder if I should wait a few weeks before going back (the dispensation is in place for the indefinite future) just to give things time to settle in a bit, as I'm sure the first few weeks will be the most awkward with everyone getting used to it. But then I reflected on the fact that I haven't received the sacraments since mid-March, and told myself to stop being so stubborn. :-0 So, as requested by the parish, I emailed in my intention to attend the vigil mass, and we'll see how it goes! I'm sure it will be fine. Jesus is there, after all, and that's all that matters.

*group hug*

And I'm so excited to bust out my new missal!

St. Paul Daily Missal

How are you all doing this early July weekend? We started chatting last week about returning to mass, which I really enjoyed. If anyone has updates about their parish, I'd love to hear about it!

Friday, June 26, 2020

Staying Connected with scripture this summer, and returning to mass...

Hello all, and happy Friday! Last week of June, hard to believe. But right now, I have to admit that while I don't want to wish my life away, getting past each month seems like a victory and a step towards (more of) a sense of normalcy. It's not totally normal, that's for sure, and I'm doing my best with it, as I'm sure you all are too.

One of the changes I'm having to navigate right now is returning to mass. Depending on where you live, you may have already experienced this, or you may be in a situation wherein you cannot yet physically return to mass despite your parish re-opening. It's going to be different for everybody here coming up, depending on your health and life circumstances. Our parish isn't re-opening until next weekend, and we just received the letter detailing all of the new changes to accommodate for the state restrictions. It's daunting to say the least, and I think this is how it is everywhere right now. Even though I completely understand why these changes need to be made, it's going to make our worship experience feel a lot different then we are used to. I'm wondering if perhaps daily mass might be more manageable for us right now, since Sunday will be more in demand? I'll have to see. But I haven't received the Eucharist since March, and I'm definitely feeling it! Have any of you returned physically to mass since your re-opening began? How is it going?

In other news, the Stay Connected Journals series has some new additions, and Our Sunday Visitor is having a sale right now, so I wanted to give you all the scoop! There are 3 new additions since the original three books debuted last year (my efforts being Exploring the Catholic Classics *halo*):

Becoming Holy, One Virtue at a Time: A Guide to Living the Theological and Cardinal Virtues (vol. 4)

Seeking Peace: A Spiritual Journey from Worry to Trust (vol. 5)

Make Every Day Blessed: Living the Liturgical Year (vol. 6)

I'm interested in all three of these, but especially the liturgical year volume! Right now, with code GOOD25, you can receive 25% off your order, and there is always free shipping from their website! I'm placing my order today, and can't wait to dive in! I'm thinking this is a nice way to keep up with my budding scripture reading this summer. Each journal provides relevant and relatable commentary, scripture assignments, study questions, and space for you to write your reflections and answers.


Are you doing any scripture study this summer? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Friday, June 19, 2020

New books and new inspiration...

Hello friends, and I hope that you are well! We wrapped up Anne's school year this week, much to the relief of the entire family. :-0 I'm praying that the kids are back in school in the fall, and it looks like they are planning to make that the case. She needs a school environment in order to thrive, that definitely became clear during the past 3 months! So we now have two and a half months just to take it easy and not fret about school work, and that definitely feels good. Both of the kids are registered to go back to their Catholic schools in September, and we're just hoping that all goes smoothly!

I've been amusing myself by taking an introductory ballet class, and you can see my fancy setup here:


It's all very low tech in the dance studio of the Catholic Librarian, but we make do where we can! I'm really enjoying taking a dance form at which I'm a total beginner. Technically, I studied ballet when I was a child, but that was so long ago that it's essentially like starting over. Our session is being extended by another 4 weeks, so I'll be happily plie-ing in our guest room all through July. I've also been doing a lot of belly dance, but that's par for the course! There are certain commonalities between the 2 types of dance (posture, arms, long and graceful lines, strong feet, and connection with the floor) that I'm enjoying honing in ballet so that I can apply it to my belly dancing. I'm feeling quite inspired by it all!

In other news, my Word on Fire version of the Gospels arrived this week!

I'm loving it, and apparently these are nearly all sold out until the fall already! I'm hoping I don't regret not getting one of the sturdier covers (I went with paperback), but I absolutely love it. There are a few paperback copies left to purchase as of when I'm writing this, and I will say this particular paperback is much thicker and sturdier than usual! I just started reading the opening commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, and so far, I'm intrigued. :-)

I also made a purchase I can't believe I didn't already have:

I mean...this is perfect for me, right? How did I not already own this? :-0 The Catholic All Year Compendium has suggestions for liturgical home living for the entire year. My sister mentioned populating her new academic planner with the designated "meat Fridays" (that fall on solemnities) for the year, and I was instantly interested. We don't abstain from meat on Fridays outside of Lent, but when have you ever known your Catholic Librarian to shy away from a challenge? ;-)  Lots of good stuff in here, I'm excited to get started!

Do you have any new books or new inspiration this week? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Friday, June 12, 2020

Some Catholic uplifty things for June...

Hello all! Happy Friday to you, and I hope that you are doing well.

*group hug*

I've had a good week, truly. Henry is done with his school year, and Anne finishes today. Can I tell you that I have NEVER been so happy to finish a school year before? :-0 It was a tough year, not only because of unexpectedly doing it all at home for the past 3 months, but also because each of the kids went through some growing pains this year, with Henry transitioning to high school, and Anne getting used to being at school without him for the first time. But we made it!

This week, we've been talking about summer plans, which I'm looking forward to despite this particular summer looking quite a bit different than usual. We'll still carve out some nice time with the kids and with our parents. Both Mike and I will be working from home until the fall semester starts, so that will help out a lot with family time.

In Catholic stuff for June, the Pentecost novena that we prayed together really lifted my spirits. In that vein, and prompted by the Pray More Novenas site, I started the Sacred Heart Novena a few days ago:

I love the prayers associated with this novena. You repeat the intention that you are praying for, and your hope and trust in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, three times, and it just really lifts me up. You can easily play catch up if you'd like to join in!

Also, the new Word on Fire Bible (the Gospels) is finally available for purchase, and I've had my eye on this one! You all know how I enjoy collecting Bibles. :-)

This edition is GORGEOUS with full color artwork and lots of great commentary from Church Fathers. It's the Gospels, rather than the entire Bible or even entire New Testament, but I feel like this would make a nice travel companion when you want ot focus just on those. I'm definitely tempted to order a copy to read this summer! But the key question is what cover type should I pick? :-0 I'm thinking hardcover!

How is your June shaping up? Are you praying the Sacred Heart novena? I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, June 5, 2020

Happy bursts of creativity, and summer reading mode...

Happy Friday everyone! Last week, I just...forgot to blog. :-0 That is very unusual for me! But my mind was actually pre-occupied by the creative projects I've been working on, and combined with the daily parts of our lockdown life that we've finally gotten used to (homeschooling, working from home, dance and fitness classes in our guest room, hee!) it just slipped my mind until Friday evening. But I'm happy to say that I have settled into this situation a bit better and my mind is often now in a serene and creative place, and so things slipping my mind lately are a result of that, and no longer related to anxiety and depression, which I see as a very good thing!

I've been crafting up a storm owing to the Knit-along and Crochet-along that I'm participating in, both shawls. They are both arranged in blocks, and as you finish each block, you post a photo in the Ravelry group and are thus eligible to win a prize. It's very fun! The Knit-along shawl is particularly spectacular, and is called The Journey:

Pattern is "The Journey" via Expression Fiber Arts

So far, I've knit the segments called Cabin of Complacency (see the little cabins in the green section?), and Forest of Fear (leaves are my favorite!), and am about halfway through the River of Doubt:

This is a very rewarding project to make your way through. The yarn is an alpaca and silk blend and is quite warm and heavy, so sometimes I have to put the project down depending on the weather. :-0 But I'm loving it!

The crochet shawl moves along very quickly, as crochet is wont to do. I have 4 of 5 blocks done. This one is called the Renata shawl:

"Renata" shawl via Expression Fiber Arts

I'm calling mine the Spring Blooms shawl based on the colors I chose:

I just have the light green final segment left to go, and I'm aiming to complete that this weekend! The details in each section are really delicate and lovely:

I've also been a busy bee with writing, and my Catholic Mom piece this month on summer reading list themes. Yes, themes. :-0 This summer, I'm reading lots of cozy fiction, and there is also an intriguing biography in there about a prominent Catholic author. Check Catholic Mom next week for all the deets! If you have summer reading plans, I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Friday, May 22, 2020

Holy Spirit Friday, settle in for a short chat :)

TGIF everyone, and this being the Friday of Memorial Day weekend in the U.S., I have to say that I'm happier than I've ever been before about the long holiday weekend. I mean, I know that there aren't exactly a lot of places to go (though that is gradually easing; here it is easing a bit more slowly than in the rest of the country), and a big BBQ is not exactly in the plans, but there is still something inherently soothing about this particular weekend. It's a good time to reflect on a lot of things, and to enjoy your loved ones.

To that point, my biggest struggle in our current crisis is the way that it has led to our social interactions being significantly cut away. Despite being an introvert, I'm very social, and love talking to people! I'm grateful for modern technology that allows to chat virtually, but a screen does not replace actual human interaction. It's definitely taken a toll on me (and I expect most people) as we are well into our third month of managing all this.

This is a roundabout way of getting to the fact that I have felt very spiritually dry since this all began, and not being able to receive the sacraments certainly isn't helping. I was watching the streaming masses at first, and's just not doing it for me. I mean, of course it isn't, nothing can replace receiving the Eucharist. But I know that many people enjoy the streaming masses. I just find it so difficult to concentrate on them, and next thing I know, mass is over, and all I can remember is the row I'm on in the shawl I'm currently knitting. It's a struggle, for sure. We're dispensed from attending mass, the streaming services are simply a way of trying to fill a gap right now, but for me, I'm finding that I need to fill the gap in other ways. My daily rosary is out the window since I'm barely in my car anymore (and you all know how I love to drive and pray the rosary), but I've been trying to focus on novenas more. They keep me centered and provide a sense of purpose in coming up with intentions for them and keeping track of the days.

I've also picked up my Great Adventure Bible and have been using the reading plan in the front to make a scripture study for myself each night before I go to sleep. There is a little spot to check passages off as you make your way through their recommended sections pertaining to salvation history, and though I don't get through an entire segment every night, within 3 nights I will, and so I check it off then. It'll take me longer than the suggested 3 months to make my way through the plan, but no biggie. If I read a chapter every single night, I am happy, and feel like I'm making positive progress towards a goal. This has been helping me A LOT. I'm really enjoying it.

So I'm doing the best that I can. It seems like public masses won't start back up in my diocese until late June or early July, so I just have to keep hanging in there. I'm mourning the loss of Anne's traditional springtime First Holy Communion (no word yet on that being rescheduled), and on Henry's altar serving days. The diocese has said that when masses resume, there will be no altar servers, and he was reaching that age when kids want to step down from doing it. This was probably going to be his last liturgical year. Those are small things, but with a lot of emotional resonance.

In the meantime, we have the Holy Spirit novena starting today, and I'm so glad that we'll be praying this one together! You can sign up with Pray More Novenas to receive the prayers in your email inbox each morning, which is how I'm praying it. I'll also paste the prayers for Day 1 down below. If you'd like to leave a comment with your intentions for the novena, we can all join you in praying for them!

Novena to the Holy Spirit - Day 1

Charity (tomorrow is Joy, we can all look forward to that! :-))

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Let us bow down in humility at the power and grandeur of the Holy Spirit. Let us worship the Holy Trinity and give glory today to the Paraclete, our Advocate.

Oh Holy Spirit, by Your power, Christ was raised from the dead to save us all. By Your grace, miracles are performed in Jesus’ name. By Your love, we are protected from evil.

And so, we ask with humility and a beggar’s heart for Your gift of Charity within us. The great charity of all the the host of Saints is only made possible by your power, Oh Divine Spirit. Increase in me, the virtue of charity that I may love as God loves with the selflessness of the Saints. Amen.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, through Christ Our Lord, Amen. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Pentecost novena upcoming!

After considering some ideas based on my call out for novena submissions last week ;-) I decided to highlight the Pentecost novena! The timing on this is quite perfect, as it will start next Friday May 22nd, and run through May 30th - the feast of Pentecost is May 31st! I'm excited! I even have a Pentecost rosary all lined up  for it, hee hee. It's bright orange with a Holy Spirit centerpiece. 👼

So! What we'll do is that next Friday I'll put up a post with the prayers to begin the novena. I'll also feature a Holy Spirit themed post (of some kind, I'll figure the specifics during the week) and everyone can chime in with their novena intentions and Holy Spirit moments. :-)

I love praying community novenas! It cheers me up so much. So I'm looking forward to this. Be compiling your Holy Spirit reflections for use next Friday, yay. See everyone then!

*vitual hug*

Friday, May 8, 2020

Eyelash malfunctions, and need community novena ideas!

Happy Friday everyone, and I hope that you all are doing well on this May day.

*group hug*

May is one of my favoite months of the year, plus it has my baby's birthday in it, so that's helping to keep my spirits up. We're nowhere near being out of lockdown where I live, so it's been an endeavor to continue working on a new sense of normalcy in our household. I've been crafting a lot, as I've written about the past few weeks (and more to come, but I figured I'd give you all a crafting break ;-)), and dancing a lot. I had another online show last Saturday, in fact. It went very well, but as is so often the case with The Dancing Life, and with Clumsy Me generally, the instant I stepped out onto my "stage" (aka my living room) one of my new magnetic false eyelashes became dislodged. I spent the rest of my performance obsessing in my head over whether the eyelash set would fall off and stick to my face in some horribly awkward way (it didn't btw, but it was terribly distracting!). You know, these are the ways normal people spend their Saturday nights. :-0

I'll take that problem any day though! It was really fun. But I've also been trying to instill a sense of peace within myself of late by praying novenas. Novenas provide me with a built-in timeline and sense of structure and purpose, and I really love that about them. Currently, I'm praying the Our Lady of Fatima novena, and her feast day is coming up on May 13th. After that, is there any interest in praying a novena together, at the end of May or beginning of June? Maybe I could design a short series of posts on themes surrounding whatever novena we choose. I'm rather excited about this idea! Let's see, coming up we have Pentecost, feast of the Sacred Heart, the feast of Corpus Christi...

*thinking face*

If you have a suggestion, please do leave it in the comments! I'll decide next week and post about it then. :-)

Friday, May 1, 2020

Crafty times in quarantine...

Hello all! And we've made it through another week, I'd say that's a win at this point. ;-) Plus, we made it to May 1st! I have to admit, I'm a bit apprehensive about what this month will hold, but I do feel like we'll be a bit more emotionally prepared than we were in April. This is all positive news!

My family and I are also adjusting a bit better to our "new normal." In many ways, I feel like it'll be difficult to go back (which we've all been longing to do!) because it will mean a big change again, and the change is what I struggle with the most. But it's still an improvement over where we all were back in mid-March when this first began. The kids are much more adjusted to doing school from home. Henry, in particular, being a teenager, is completely fine. He's happy to sleep in, do his school work in his pj's, and socialize with his friends via the online games they play together. Anne, on the other hand, has definitely been suffering more. But we've been doing what we can for her to set up online things for her to enjoy, and she's doing a little better.

For my part, I've been keeping up with my dance and fitness classes, and I'm performing in another online dance show tomorrow. Although it all feels a bit weird, it's what we have for now, and I'm enjoying them in their own way. I'm trying not to think about what I miss about performing and taking classes in normal, in-person situations, because I have no control over that and I have no idea when that will happen again, so focusing on it only makes me unhappy. I'm doing what I can, and it's helping!

I've also been crafting up a storm. I mentioned this Breathe and Hope shawl last week:

...and I received the yarn that I ordered for it yesterday!


This was all in support of National Local Yarn Shop day, and it makes me so happy to support that! Relatedly, the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival was supposed to be this weekend (cancelled, of course), so it's going online this year, and one of their big vendors is putting her coveted, special festival colorways online. I partook in that too, naturally. ;-) I just joined the online festival group on Facebook, and am excited to experience a little crafty community time this weekend!

I've been working along on my Find Your Fade shawl, and it's about 85% done at this point!

That's the second to last color I just added in. I also started a new Crochet -along, and this is my first block:

Pattern is Renata and is currently free!
This is all contributing to my quarantine happiness, to be sure. *halo*

How have you been keeping busy in isolation this week? I think things will start opening back up in the next 1-2 months, and suddenly that doesn't seem as long of a time as it did back in March! We'll take it. I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Dancing publicly, but in my living room, and other quarantine adventures...

Hello friends, and TGIF? Maybe? It's so weird anymore, the week days and weekends don't seem as much different from each other as they used to, but we do what we can. I do prefer weekends still because I don't have to chase after the kids to complete their school work, but at the same time, without the structure of having some schoolwork to do, and really no place for them to go right now, it's difficult to keep them entertained for long. We're doing the best we can. We're going to all be home definitely through May 15th here in NY, and I'm expecting news in the next 1-2 weeks about the rest of the school year.

I had mentioned that last weekend I was invited to dance in an online show, which meant that I put on makeup (the first time in what feels like forever) including false eyelashes, pulled on a dance costume, put on ACTUAL JEWELRY, warmed up, moved some furniture, and then danced in my living room for hundreds of people to see. 🤣 It was a bit surreal, to be honest, but I have to say that I *really* enjoyed it! It felt SO GOOD to perform again, and having that performance to prepare for gave me a happy project and a sense of purpose for a solid week leading up to this. It went really well, and I was on a dance high all day on Sunday as a result. Monday left me with up and down emotions again just like every day since this nightmare began, but any little escape is a good thing right now, to my mind. I have another show May 2nd, and I'm sooooo grateful for this!

The other happy distraction I've been indulging in of late is my yarn crafting, and today I thought I'd share this fun little tidbit with you: this weekend is the traditional Local Yarn Shop Day, with lots of yarn shopping and little celebrations, which of course is not taking place in person like usual due to our current global health crisis. So this year it is being hosted online, with yarn shops around the country all sponsoring the beautiful shawl pattern pictured below from casapinka:

There is a list linked in the pattern page I posted above of participating yarn shops, sorted by location. If you purchase a yarn kit to make this shawl from them, they will email you a code to download the pattern for free this weekend. I ended up ordering a kit from Four Purls, a mint combined with a heathered gray called Raindrops, and I'm SO EXCITED. I'm happily awaiting my pattern download code this morning!

So that's what has been happening with me. How about you? Any happy distraction ideas? :-) I'd love to hear from you in the comments!