Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Hello my dear ones! You'll be seeing this on December 23rd, the date that officially hearkens my annual blog hiatus between Christmas and New Years. I will miss you dearly, but we will reunite on January 3rd! I will have lots of holiday and dancing adventures to relay then, I am sure. That's about a weeks worth of posts, right there. :0

In the meantime, please do follow me on Twitter @CatholicTiffany.

I would love to chat with you there! Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I am looking forward to an exciting and joyful 2017 with all of you.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #77 - Nefarious illnesses & belly dancing into the New Year...

Hi all! I'm happy to be with you again for Tea Time, even if I'm muddling through a week's worth of illnesses to do so...

Today I fill you in on the evil pestilence that has been sweeping through my household, as well as the exciting (albeit nerve wracking) dance gig I have coming up at a restaurant on New Year's Eve.

A sword.
A buffet line with lots of transversing people who may have been drinking.
A somewhat clumsily inclined belly dancer.

What could go wrong?!

**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 Advent ending? What are your Christmas plans? What is your Christmas Mass timeslot of choice? I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Anticipating Joy: 4th Week of Advent....

Hi all. It is indeed a good day to anticipate joy. ;-) This is what my overnight sounded like:

2 am: *dramatic sneeze*

2:02 am: *trip to bathroom*

2:03 am: *loud sneeze*

2:04 am: *coughing attack*

2:05 am: *back to bed*

2:06 am: *toss*

2:07 am: *turn*

2:08:30: *toss turn*

2:09 am: *trip to bathroom for water*

2:10 am: *rustling of warmer clothes being pulled on in bedroom*

2:11 am: *back to bed*

2:11:30: *coughing attack*

2:12 am: *light blares on*

To be clear, this was not me. It was my adorable, lovable husband. Who I am ever so glad packed up his pillow and went downstairs to cough for the rest of the night. :0 I felt bad for him, but it was rough going with all of the sickness symptoms. He was down there for about 5 minutes when we hear:

"Dad. COULD YOU COME IN HERE?!" The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, with that one and nighttime wakings.


At any rate, I'm alive, here, and ready to talk about our prompt for the 4th Sunday of Advent.

*beatific beam*

Paul reminds us we are called to be holy. What am I doing this Advent to draw closer to God and others?

My response to this is that I have tried to be more aware of my faith in the midst of daily distractions, particularly this past week. In the 'keeping it real' category is the fact that this Advent hasn't felt as special and set aside to me as it usually does. I've been getting a lot out of these weekly posts and the journaling prompts, but that's pretty much it. I have forgotten to light the Advent candles every single week except this past Sunday (and technically Henry lit them), and the kids have been taking the reigns with the Advent calendars. I haven't been consistent with my Advent devotional reading, and I didn't make it to the Advent Penance Service.


That being said, for the past week or so it has occurred to me how much my faith means to me. Things had felt a bit dry, which led to a sense of complacency. When I started thinking about making more of a structured effort to get to confession and pick back up Advent traditions, that sense of peace and solace washed over me again. I'm not completely back on track, but I feel connected again. I think that over the Christmas season all will be well again. I feel a lot better about everything. And Mass this Advent has been WONDERFUL, especially with Henry in his new role as altar server. *beams*

What are your thoughts on the prompt this week?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Patron saints for 2017, and New Years resolutions!

Our bookworm friend, St. Jerome
Hi all! *another weak smile* I am back at work, but the winter sicknesses have a strong hold on our household. Anne is mostly better. I *was* mostly better, but then Mike started saying that his throat hurt and that he was stuffy. Next thing you knew, my throat hurt anew and I was stuffy again. So I think that I actually have yet a new manifestation of the nefarious pestilence that is currently sweeping its way through our family. And let's just say that I am not very happy about it.


I'm doing my best to be upbeat, but I'm not loving being back at work. Especially when I have hours of lesson planning to do (and aforementioned lesson planning doesn't really seem all that much less onerous than the fall nightmare we swore we would not repeat), and in a weakened state to boot. But I'm doing what I can.

Once I started dwelling on New Year's resolutions, it also reminded me that I select a patron saint for my blog each year using the random Saint's Name Generator. So when I got into my office this morning, I fired her up, and guess who I got?

St. Jerome!

Patron of librarians. *beams* Another of my resolutions this year will be to write more, and finish that long-term writing project that I've been talking about for over 6 months now. This all made me feel a lot better, and like I have direction for the coming year: in 2017, I will focus on writing and podcasting, with St. Jerome providing my back up moral support. I love it!

I'm also going to be taking a few short trips in 2017: To a dance workshop, and to attend the New York Sheep and Wool festival with my knitting friends. And I'm *hoping* that I'll be able to meet Samantha in real life next year as well. Lots to look forward to! And I look forward to sharing it with all of you. *heart*

How is your week starting out, dear reader?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Of sick days, dozens of Christmas movies, and crafts gone wild...

TGIF all!

*weak smile*

You'll notice there is no Tea Time this week. That would be because I am on Day 2 of a 2 day sick day spell, and though I am a bit better today (albeit home with a now sick and whiny Anne. Joy, so much joy) I am still SUPER stuffy, and do not want to subject you to my congested voice. Or my neck-wide fever rash in the video. Now that we've had our TMI moment of the morning...

I have lots of fun dancing news to cover in Tea Time, so we'll do that next week. Until then, I thought I would check in briefly from the sick bay. In summary, I have been doing lots of knitting and crocheting while I sit on the couch and watch Christmas movies. ALL the excitement, right there. Besides wrapping gifts and napping, this pretty makes up my life when I'm sick. I adore the Hallmark Channel. 24 hour a day feel-good Christmas movies push all of my happy buttons, especially when I am laid up. Yesterday I watched 3. No shame, no sir. 3 movies and part of a fourth. Plus I set the DVR to record several more. Always good to have those on reserve for couch time! I mean, they're on 24 hours a day, so no worries, ever, but I like to be able to choose my theme and fast forward through the commercials.


And now I've discovered Hallmark Channel's adorable cousin, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.


I am in love. Christmas movies, PLUS they're promoting some sort of sweet and sleuthy Nancy Drew-looking show that will debut after New Years. I may have to quit my job so that I can just watch full time.

"A Nutcracker Christmas"

"Journey Back to Christmas"

"Operation Christmas"

"The Christmas Pageant"

Coming up with unique titles must be a challenge, and consequently I cannot remember a single one of them, but that little factoid notwithstanding, I am one happy customer.

So, lots of movies it is. And while I watch them, I have been working on Henry's Harry Potter scarf, as well as finishing up a few other handcrafted gifts. Mike was pretty relieved when I finished up the project involving this borrowed visitor to our household:

When craft projects get creepy
But you want hats to be shaped properly. ;-)

Happy finished product about to be mailed to its new home
And the scarf is nearly done, finally. Scarves always seem like they stay the same length (approximately 800 feet long) and not *quite* long enough to wrap the way you want, for at least a month, while you continue to slave away, adding more rows. I think I'm finally on the last 2 color blocks of this one. Mostly because if I go any longer than that I will run out of yarn. So we're almost there! All of the couch/Hallmark movie time has certainly been aiding this cause.

I'm hoping that by Monday Anne and I will both be rash-free and feeling better, and able to go back to our regular routines. And somehow, coming up is the 4th Sunday of Advent, and so next week is the week before Christmas. I don't feel ready (typical), but am trying not to panic. :-)

How is your week ending, dear reader? It would really cheer my sick spirit to hear from you in the comments!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Anticipating Joy: 3rd Week of Advent...

Happy Wednesday everyone! I woke up this morning feeling decidedly less than 100% (never a good thing when your first thought as you wake is why your throat feels so weird :-/), AND we are under a lake effect snow advisory here in WNY starting at 1 pm EST. I'm thinking that I'm going to be leaving work early so that I don't have to drive home in the worst of it. And I also have to order a pair of snow boots. :-( My cute dress boots aren't going to cut it for all purposes this winter, that's for sure.

At any rate, I'm feeling slightly diminished, but in good spirits this Advent weekday in our third week. I enjoyed Mass very much this week, with the rose vestments on full display, and the kids bringing up their little Jesus figurines for a special Gaudete Sunday blessing. Speaking of, I just ordered each of them expansions for their nativity sets: the 3 Kings for Anne, and a Bethlehem Village Blacksmith Shop For Henry. Henry has quite a developed little town in his room each year during Advent and Christmas. :)

Henry's nativity scene

Expanding Bethlehem Village
All right, so what is our prompt for the week?

Isaiah encourages us to be strong and fear not when God comes. What weaknesses and fears block my acceptance of God in my life?

Well, for me, this is an easy one to answer: fear of change and the unknown. This has been a lifelong issue for me, and all of these years later, it is still omnipresent. The sweeping reading this week from Isaiah reminds me that is something that I need to continue to work on:

"Courage! Do not be afraid. Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you."

Isaiah 35: 4.

Forge on I must, and my very favorite intercessor for this intention is St. John Paul II. In fact, he may be one of my favorite saints of all time. He certainly faced a number of challenges in his life, and yet he always held to his motto of "Be not afraid." Sometimes we do not know what is coming, but we must hold on to the hope that God will see us through, no matter what it is. Letting go of that fear will lead to peace. I know this, but it sure is difficult to implement! I'm thinking that perhaps another attempt at reading his biography would be a worthwhile endeavor for Lent.

What are your thoughts this 3rd week of Advent, dear readers? What fears are holding you back on acceptance of God in YOUR life?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Quiet joy and exhaustion on Gaudete Sunday weekend...

Did you all light your rose candles this weekend? I wish I could say that I did, but as has been epic this Advent, I FORGOT. I'm going to try to remember tonight.


But Anne and I DID wear pink to Mass yesterday, and she and Henry both remembered (at my prompting) to bring the baby Jesuses from their nativity sets with them for a special blessing that our parish does this Third Sunday of Advent.


Mass was particularly peaceful this week. Anne was very excited to bring up our gift to put under the Giving Tree, and Henry was very into paying close attention to the altar servers so that he could mentally review for his next serving Mass. He also went back into the sacristy afterward to solidify his place as a server for the 11 am Christmas Day Mass, and I'm *very* excited for this.

I think that I keep forgetting about the Advent candles because of how busy our weekends have been of late. This was Henry's second play performance weekend, and we also had a gingerbread house building event with Anne at school. Translation: Anne ate gumdrops while Mike and I got frosting all over ourselves and the table. But in the end, we managed a serviceable house.

*pins on gold star*

It was a great weekend. And then, at 4 am this morning:

"Mom! Dad! Could you come in here?!"

It was Anne. I was unconscious. Mike goes in to discover Anne heavily wiggling a loose tooth. He tells her to leave it alone until morning. Oh the level of parental naivete in the dark hours.

30 minutes later...


Mike, bless his soul, goes in again, while I toss and turn in our bed. Anne's tooth has fallen out. He tucks it into a paper cup and tells her to go back to sleep. The Tooth Fairy will come in the NEXT overnight session.

30 minutes later...

*Anne's door clicks open*

*Anne's door clicks closed*

*Anne's door clicks open*

*Anne's door clicks closed*

WHY GOD, WHY?! When I think about the sheer volume of sleep that I have lost owing to my offspring's after hours shenanigans, I want to weep.  I turn on the light while Mike goes to investigate. Anne has lost her lost tooth.


A massive toothhunt gets underway, because even at 5 am we know that telling Anne to go back to bed and we will find it in the morning will have the effect of tears and wails.

"Mom. I asked myself: 'if I was a tooth, where would I be?!' And so I looked under the bed. But it's not there!"

*long suffering sigh*

The tooth was eventually located amongst her sheets and we all went back to bed. But let's just say that the aftereffect exhaustion remains. The Tooth Fairy will be on a flying mission tonight.

Aside from being tired, I'm in good Advent spirits. How are you this Advent Monday, dear friends?

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?!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Anticipating Advent anew...

Happy Monday all! Just a quick pop in to let you know that my Catholic Mom piece on Advent traditions is up over at Catholic Mom:

Now that Thanksgiving is next week, I'm *really* starting to think about Advent. And indeed, there is a lot on my mind of late, which I'm sure is also the case for you. The weekend was jam packed between the party and my dance performance, I can talk about that more tomorrow. But until then, let's let our minds drift to the coming liturgical season, which I look forward to each and every year. If you'd like to chime in on your Advent traditions, come join me over at Catholic Mom and leave a comment!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #73 - Creative choreography & happy distractions...

Hello all! We have a fun dancing version of:

Today I talk about my teaching load easing, and the joy I find in creating things, including dance choreographies. 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:

Dia de los Muertos rosary from Rosaries by Allison
INSPIRE post, volume 7

 What are you up to this cold November weekend, dear reader? Tell me all about it in the comments. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Autumn Prayer Journal Curators, volume 7...

Hi all. A little bit of a tough morning, nationally speaking, I'm not going to lie. I do worry about the future of our divided country, and our situation with the individual who has been elected our leader. Rough stuff, right there. There's nothing we can do about it now, so I figure maybe an INSPIRE distraction is what we all need, yes? Here we go.

Inspiration - This week, I am finding inspiration in my close group of friends: Shauna'h, Allison and Sam. No matter what goes on in my day-to-day life, I know that they are only a text away. Their prayerful, soothing and humorous presence is balm for my soul.

Nourish - I finished Mother Angelica Her Grand Silence last night. The end of the book really focuses on Mother's advice to others to always live in the present moment. The past is history, the future is unknown, the only thing we can do is be present. I really took that to heart. My work situation has been stressful, and it's easy to will the time to move quickly because what you're doing isn't all that fun. I don't like doing that though, because it feels like I'm wishing my life away. I have resolved to try and enjoy what I can in each present moment, even when teaching.

Spread Joy - As ever, I am working on my patience. I returned a call today that I really didn't want to (is there anything worse than work voicemail?! :0) but I was determined to have a good attitude about it, and consequently, it was much easier to feel patient with the time investment involved.

Projects - This hat is taking me FOREVER. :0 It has a constant knit 2, purl 2, rib going, and that's why I think, but all the same... I at least remembered to photograph it this week.

Brim is long for customizable roll up options.

I'm within 2 repeats of moving to the crown decreases! I've also been finding creative inspiration the past week and a half in the drum solo I choreographed for the hafla. I'll talk about that tomorrow in Tea Time.

Involve - I took Henry to altar server training on Saturday and it was quite a joy. He's signed up as a volunteer for the year, and I hope it works out well for all of us. I feel trepidatious having our Mass schedule messed with because I love it so much, but I need to learn to be a bit more flexible. The way it works is that altar servers rotate amongst our 3 weekend Masses (5 pm vigil, and 8 am and 11 am Sunday morning), totaling 1-2 commitments per month. The schedule is done before Advent for the entire year, and then servers just switch with each other whenever they have a conflict. So, I'm going to have to get used to occasionally going to 8 am Mass. :0 We'll see how this works out, but Henry is pretty enthused about it, and given his age, I think it's an excellent thing to have something about his faith be exciting for him.

Reflect - Lord, help me to savor the everyday moments. There is much in life that we cannot control, but we can control our perspective and reactions. Help me to always see the good in others, and react in a positive manner.

End Goals - To stay productive and positive throughout next week's in-person workshop week.

What is your INSPIRE for the week? Leave it in the comments. :)

Monday, November 7, 2016

Time certainly flies...

Hi all! I hope that you had a smashing and relaxing weekend, as I did. My work day on Friday, while not terrible, took on a more stressful quality than I would have liked, owing to planning for the spring teaching load. Therefore, I was in need of going home and indulging in LOTS of distractions to forget about all of that. Happily, I had dance, and we're in major hafla planning mode, I'll talk about that on Tea Time this week. That helped. I'm choreographing a solo this time, and so that creative process has been dominating my thoughts in a positive way.

On Saturday, I took Henry to altar server training *beams* and Anne to the public library. I also took both kids to the grocery store to pick up a customized birthday cake for Henry. An excellent time was had by all. I also did my nails:

The height of frivolity, yes, but when one is feeling stressed, there is an important element to self- indulgence and self-care, I think we can all agree. I got that dark red sparkly gel in the mail on Saturday morning, and I figured, hey! Why not. :) It cheers me up to look down at them throughout the day.

Sunday was Henry's 11th birthday. I have no idea how on earth this has happened, but there you have it.

An early shot of a happy Henry
I mean...

Both of us looking younger :0 And me with much shorter hair!
And now for the present day shot:

It's difficult to believe that that much time has passed from the early morning trek into the hospital at 39 weeks into my pregnancy, but there it is. Somehow 11 years has gone by. I remember grown ups talking about how quickly time passes when I was a kid, and always used to think to myself:

"Old people. They are so weird. What are they even talking about?"

Because a school year was an ETERNITY back then. Now, I sneeze, and 3 years goes by. I think back on fun events that seem like they took place within the past year. Nope, that was 5 years ago. Things that seems like MAYBE they happened a few years ago? 10 years ago. That's right. A freaking decade. :0

What can we do, right? Nothing but enjoy the present moment. More on that during this week's INSPIRE post, but in the meantime, what did you do this weekend, dear reader?

Friday, November 4, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #72 - Imposing cheer with rosary novenas...

I'm back to teaching this week, but I have my voice back! On this week's edition of:

Today I wax on about Timezone Resentment, continued teaching burnout, and a foiled Feast of All Saints, but joy in the new rosary novena. 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's new with you?! What are you up to this weekend? How are your Advent preparations going? Write in and let me know!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Autumn Prayer Journal Curators, volume 6...

Hi all! Back for another installment in our INSPIRE series. It's mid-week, and I am DYING to finish with classes for this particular lesson plan. Only 6 more to go. :-\ But we're getting there!

Al things considered, I'm having a decent week. A few bumps along the way, but such is life, yes? Let's have at our stress relief for the week!

Inspiration -EDIT: OK, this is funny. I forgot to fill this in in when I published the post.


I am inspired this week by my friend Krystin. Girlfriend has 7 kids and works out of her home selling Jamberry and Younique cosmetics. She holds it all together like a champ and inspires us all on Facebook daily with her humor and beauty. I thank God that I found her, and that she is a part of my life.

Nourish - The 54 rosary novena, Christmas edition, started yesterday! I had been slacking off with full rosary praying the past few weeks, so I was very glad to have an excuse to get back on the wagon. I'm really looking forward to praying this all the way through Christmas Eve.

Spread Joy - Being very patient wherever I can, even when responding to something uber annoying. ;-)

Projects - I'm still at work on Mike's new winter hat! Usually hats work up faster than this. :0 But this is lots of k2 p2 ribbing (time consuming) and cabling (also time consuming, as it turns out), so it's taking me longer than I anticipated. However, the result is quite lovely! I'm hoping to be done or nearly done by next week.

Involve - Henry has been expressing interest in becoming an altar server for some time, and finally our parish advertised a training session. I am taking him to it this weekend, and really excited to see how this goes.

Reflect - Lord, I pray for the perseverance to make it all the way through all of my classes this week.

End Goals -Finishing out the week with my spirits as high as they were going in, after my time of rest last week.

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

fyi: My voice is now about 95% better, so there WILL be a Tea Time podcast this week!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cold Halloween nights with warm beverages...

Hello all! I don't have much time to write today, but I do have a few photos, and thought it would be perfectly lovely to touch base briefly with you.

*blows kiss*

I made it through my work day yesterday, thankfully. The afternoon class was also fraught with technical difficulties; this time, the instructor workstation decided to install updates right before I got into the room, and did so for *10 minutes* while I sat there sweating, hoping the machine would be ready to use by the time I needed it.


So I got home pretty beleaguered. I got the kids dinner, got them all dressed, and thankfully Mike got back from class early so that he could pass out candy while I handled trick-or-treating. Henry went with some friends, so I took Anne out. Any bout of trick-or-treating that does not end with Anne tripping and tackling a fiber optic vampire on someone's porch, then falling into a sobbing heap amid a display of mums, I call a win.


I also remembered my drinky drink, so Mommy was a happy camper the whole time.


Mike did a great job of carving our pumpkin this year.

Anne was Cleopatra.

Henry and friend were creepy, scary things. ;-)
How was YOUR Halloween, dear reader? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Monday, October 31, 2016

When your day starts off precariously balanced on a chair in the front of the room...

Is your day sucking a little bit? Sam, I'm thinking about you. :0 Let's commiserate! Here is how my day started:

4:30 am - Wake up. Someone (*delicately clears throat*) set the alarm in our guest room without Mike or I noticing. Mike goes down to turn it off, but it woke both of us. We unhappily fall back to sleep.

5:30 am - Anne wakes us up when her and Oreo the penguin make a pilgrimage to the potty.

6:30 am - I blearily wake up and stumble out of bed. Long before anyone should be expected to employ coherent thought, I am pressed into service assembling Halloween costumes, pinning various things, and shoving not-nearly-stretchy-enough headpieces onto (apparently) heads that are far too large for aforementioned headpieces. This has always been a problem with my kids. Apparently, Mike and I make very tall, large headed children.

7:30 am - Mike takes the kids to school, and I unhappily head to work with my gigantic travel mug full of coffee.

8:15 am - Given the last minute nature of what we decided to do for our lesson this week, I am scrambling to finish up a few things before my class at 9.

8:50 am - I head to class, planner, notes, and coffee mug in hand.

8:55 am - I arrive at class. I greet students. I realize that I forgot my flash drive which contains an important MLA citation example exercise we will spend half the class time going over.

8:56 am - *$%#@^&$@!

8:56 am and 30 seconds - I race back to the library to fetch my flash drive, accumulating lots of extra steps on my Fitbit, but many, many unhappy thoughts aswirl in Tiffany's head.

9:01 am - I arrive back at the classroom, extremely proud of self, flash drive in hand. I re-greet students, pop flash drive in, and attempt to fire up the monitor on the instructor workstation. Aforementioned monitor fails to respond.

9:02 am - &^%$#@%*(!

9:03 am - I troubleshoot with the monitor, which translates to handling it roughly, shoving plugs in and out of holes, and moving the screen around in random directions. To the surprise of absolutely no one, nothing happens.

9:04 am - I resign myself to a non-working monitor and test out the projector. It works fine, despite the monitor not responding. I resolve to work bravely along with a crink in my neck as I lean painfully back and to the left to navigate with my mouse. Whatevs.

9:05 am - I turn to the projector screen to pull it down. The cord is wrapped around the rolled up screen several times, meaning that I cannot pull it down from ground level like usual.

9:05 am and 30 seconds - *&^%$$^&*&@!

9:06 am - With nothing but glazed over expressions greeting my every movement, I quickly dismiss the idea of asking a tall person to assist me, roll over the instructor chair, and carefully balance on it to unwrap the cord. VERY UNSTEADILY. Not the smartest idea I'd ever had, but hey, I was desperate. Somehow, it works.

9:07 am - We finally start class, me frantically opening browser windows and typing in URLs while wrenched to the side so that I can see the projector screen.

9:46 am - I finish class successfully, much relief in my heart. As the students file out, I call classroom services to let them know about the monitor:

"Hi! I'm in room 114, and the monitor isn't responding in here."

*delicate pause*

"Oh yes, we get calls about this all the time. Is the monitor powered on? The button is very tiny and hard to see, so people often don't realize that it is off. It's in the back, lower right side."

*Tiffany examines alleged button*

"Oh. There is indeed something there, let me press...Ah ha. Yes, that was it. It's fine now."

*Tiffany breathes sigh of relief that she did not identify herself at the outset of the call*

"A lot of people don't see it, no worries."

I had never seen the instructor workstation monitors powered down in the classrooms, they're always just sleeping and spring to life when you log in, so the thought didn't even occur to me. And the "button" is practically non-existent. So I'm trying to defend myself here, but I think I can sum it up by saying: I AM AN IDIOT IN NEED OF MORE COFFEE. PERHAPS WITH A SHOT OF BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM.


I now have to look forward to: Another class. Cooking for the kids and re-stuffing into Halloween costumes solo since Mike has to teach. Solo trick-or-treating, which will almost certainly include a "coffee mug" as was alluded to above. All before any of the other things I wanted to get done today. Bet you can't wait for tomorrow's post.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

No official Tea Time this week on account of my voice. But let's kibitz in writing!

Hi all! Whatever upper respiratory thing I have going on has weakened my voice to a hoarse whisper, so no audio/video Tea Time this week. I figured I'd spare your poor ears the raspiness that is my current lot in life. I should be back in good vocal form next week!

So for the time being, we can just converse in the written form. Grab your beverage:

I was still a bit hopeful last night that when I woke up my voice may be somewhat better. When I woke this morning, I still felt completely exhausted and run down, and I could hear Mike go into Anne's room to get her up and ready for school:


Isn't that what every living being thinks upon wake up, adult and child alike? Unless you're a baby. Babies never want to sleep. :0

So I got up as well, and as soon as I tried to talk I knew it was no use. Thank goodness this is a non-teaching week.

All things considered though, I'm in really good spirits, and not feeling terrible physically, it's just this pesky voice issue. And here's a highlight: as Mike was taking the kids to school, I blearily perused my email. I am on the hunt for holiday gifts right now, I always start early in the fall and gradually pick things up so that it isn't a shock to the budget come December. And I had an email from a company I've been hankering to order from for some time, which is Tiny Hands Food Jewelry.

She makes the most adorable, scented (you know I have a weakness for scented things :0) food charms that you wear as a necklace. I've been wanting to get Anne one for months, and have also eyed several for myself. The email this morning let me know that she started a Necklace of the Month Club, and you can participate for however long you like, simply canceling when you want. It's perfect timing for Christmas gifts, so I signed up. :0

And you can too, if you like, right here. Right now it's $15 for the first 50 people to sign up (plus $4 shipping) each month, until you cancel. After the first 50 spaces are used up, it'll go to $19.99, still very reasonable as the necklaces retail singly for $23-$28 apiece. They are handmade, tiny and absolutely precious. The first month's necklace should ship within the next 2 weeks, and will be a cupcake necklace. Perfect for Anne! It will be one of four possible color schemes. The second month will be a cookie, one of four possible flavors. :0 She has the entire year laid out at the link, if you want to check it out. I am STOKED. The cupcake will definitely be one of Anne's Christmas gifts!

So that brightened my morning. Along with the new fox warmer I have warming Coconut Lemon Chiffon scented wax in my office:

Check out those perky ears!
Isn't he the cutest?!


He's my new officemate. ;-) He's my friend and I LOVE HIM.

So I'm in a great mood. How are you doing this rainy October day, dear reader?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Autumn Prayer Journal Curators, volume 5...

Hello all! I think that it is official: Anne has passed some form of the illness she had on to me, and I have passed it on to Mike.


We're not faring nearly so poorly as she did, though. We both have scratchy (but not sore) throats, and are losing our voices, but otherwise feel fine. I'm actually not sure if I'll be able to record Tea Time tomorrow if I don't improve, given the sad state of my voice at present. So we'll see! I'm just grateful to be in a really good place emotionally this week, and you all are a big part of that! Let's get to our INSPIRE for today!

Inspiration - This week, I am inspired by my husband. I am more in love with him than ever, and my appreciation for how much he does to hold down the fort at home has grown by leaps and bounds. He teaches multiple classes, takes care of household cleaning and grocery shopping, and also takes on quite a bit of running the kids around/homework duty. And he does it all good naturedly. I need to emulate him more.

Nourish - I'm back with Mother Angelica in the Raymond Arroyo book! I had taken a break to read a little nonfiction of the legal/true crime variety. I'm over halfway done, and as ever, finding lots of inspiration in her for love of my faith.

Spread Joy - I've been smiling more. I've been thinking about making eye contact with people I pass fleetingly to pass on the happiness I feel this week.

Projects - I'm working on a new winter hat for Mike! It's a lovely dark green merino tencel yarn, the colorway is called "New York at Night." It has a large ribbed band for folding/custom fit around the ears, and a cabled top. Perfect for men!

Involve - I'm starting to think about Advent, and the devotions I would like to practice both personally and with my kids. My November piece for Catholic Mom is about this very topic!

Reflect - Lord, I feel you with me throughout my days this week. I pray that I may always carry this feeling with me, even during weeks that are more challenging to navigate. Our Lady Star of the Sea, pray for us!

End Goals - I go back to in-classroom teaching next week for a three week stretch. My goal is to carry forward my progress from this week off into those weeks.

Do you have an INSPIRE list this week? Let's see it in the comments!