Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #59 - Spiritual dryness & a vodka tonic...

oooo la la! We have a change of venue for this week's edition of:

Indeed, I'm not at the office for this particular recording. I am at home, and waxing philosophical about life's challenges amidst a spell of spiritual dryness. Accompanied by a refreshing vodka tonic. 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:
Have you ever experienced a spell of spiritual dryness? Changed up your daily prayer routine lately to something that's really working for you? I'd love to hear all about it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

1 small stage. 7 women dancing with swords on their heads. What could go wrong?

Hi all! I'm with you for a brief spell today, but I had a few interesting things to share. The first is that I already recorded Tea Time for the week, and it's a little different this time. I hope you like it! You'll have to wait til tomorrow to see what all the fuss is about. ;-)

That's our housekeeping for the day. As for me, I have officially entered the obsessing phase about the big art festival that my troupe is slated to dance at this weekend. It's both days, Saturday and Sunday, two separate hour-long sets per day. We're dancing our new upbeat instrumental choreography, the new sword piece (yikes!), the newish baladi, and three of our regulars (drum, Shaabi and pop song). I also have a solo in the 2 pm set each day. That's a LOT of dancing, especially outside in the heat. I know that it's going to be quite draining, so I'm doing my best to amp up for it. At least my solo is prop-less, which should ease the stress a bit, unlike last year. That's one of my favorite dance posts ever, so if you weren't reading my blog yet last summer, do check that one out!

Unfortunately, Sword is going to have his big moment in the group number, which he's SAVORING, trust me, but it's a lot less daunting to balance when you're in a group. In some ways. In other ways, it's much worse. :0 Expect an amusing dance post next week, for sure!

Pray for me. ;-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I suppose I should mention the time that this conversation was initiated:

2 am.

When one no longer has an infant in their home, being woken in the middle of the night by something other than your own bladder is rather unexpected. But, you know, it's just one of those things. I dragged myself out of bed, and stumbled down our short upstairs hallway to Anne's room. I open the door. Anne is sitting up in bed:

*hands me colored drawing of a rainbow*

"I made this for you, Mom. You were supposed to come get it when you got home."

*stern look*

Apparently I was in trouble, hence the late night wakeup call. I was at a photoshoot for my dance studio when she was put to bed by Mike earlier.

"I did come in here, darling, after I got home, but I did not see this drawing. Is that why you called me in here?"

"I need fuzzy socks, my feet are cold."

*long suffering sigh*

Is it any wonder why I feel like I'm dragging my way through this week? If I'm being honest, I'm struggling with a few things right now, and that feeling of overwhelment (is that a word? If not...I don't care :0) and spiritual dryness is threatening to consume me. I'm going to talk about this a bit on the next Tea Time.

Until then, the kids do make me smile:

Christmas in July train set up and running
...AND, I finished my summer knit-along shawl!

*drum roll*

I bought blocking wires that are designed to stretch out lace fabric in a pleasing way, and I have to say that I'm quite happy with the results. I'm also very happy to have this shawl off of my needles, and to have moved onto something else! I'm in manic finish-it-up mode, trying to complete in-progress items so that I can feel good about myself and deny my own lack of commitment to craft projects prior to the onset of fall. Hey, I can try, right? ;-)

How was YOUR weekend? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #58 - "Who are you & why are you here?!" Teaching adventures abound...

Good day to you all! It's a fun, adventure-filled morning to discuss on:

Today I give a Skype crisis update, and relay my teaching and writing (or lack thereof) foibles so far this summer. But come the fall...well, you'll have to listen and find out!

**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 summer going so far? Are you prepping anything fun for the fall? Do you have a morning prayer routine to share? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Long time readers of this blog may know that I really love birds. I love listening to them, I love watching them, I love observing their feather colors and identifying them with my nerdy bird reference guide. My daughter has also picked up the birding gene. She LOVES to watch them in our yard and learn about the different birds common to our area. We watch the birds and go through the bird guide together. It's a whole big warm and fuzzy Discovery Channel moment. So we got a bird feeder.

*ominous music begins playing in the background*

I mentioned on a recent Tea Time that my love affair with our bird feeder recently went through a crisis due to an uninvited, furry interloper in our yard who was going after the the seed that inevitably drops to the ground. Said furry interloper is decidedly NOT a squirrel, whom I would not object to at all. Squirrels are CUTE. I know many people hate them, and classify them as the rodents that they technically are, but seriously. They have sweet faces and bushy tails, how bad could they be? Granted, I wouldn't want them in my house, but they have never shown any interest in such a notion. They want to scurry around and play with fire by dashing across the road in front of my car, eat bird seed off the ground in my yard, and then hurry back to their tree. Fine with me.

No, aforementioned interloper is far more nefarious than his squirrel cousins. He's full bodied and has a long, skinny, hairless tail.

*shudder of revulsion*

His name begins with an 'r.' I'm dying even as I type this. At any rate, we put out a catcher thing, which he promptly ignored, and thus we simply let the food source dry up. Anne and I mourned the loss of our bird friends who didn't find our yard nearly so interesting to hang out in without food awaiting them in the feeder. And our other "friend" also disappeared after a few days. We all breathed a sigh of relief, and I sprang into action in full-out librarian mode to find a solution to our little problem. A friend and fellow bird-lover suggested that it may have been our bird food. Switch up to a much less interesting blend of seed, and though we wouldn't get the same variety of birds to our feeder, we also wouldn't attract the scheming vermin. Done.

I waited a full week, missing our Cardinal pals the whole time. Another several days. Then Anne and I cautiously put the innocuous seed mix into the feeder for a trial run. The birds sniffed it right out and were delighted. We welcomed them with open arms. My heart sang at seeing the Cardinals, Blue Jays and House Finches once again pecking away in our yard. The feeder emptied, and I left it alone for another full week. I wanted to assure that the ground eating birds ate all of the excess seed before filling the feeder again.  The week passed, and so last night Anne and I filled the feeder again. Cautious optimism was alive in my heart.

As I came out of the shower yesterday after dinner, I saw the female Cardinal lounging in our backyard from out the back window. I beamed at her and headed upstairs to get dressed.

Several minutes later, I'm still upstairs getting ready for our evening of popcorn eating, movie watching and knitting when Anne bursts in:

"MOM! The Mommy Cardinal is out there!"

Indeed. Adore that Mommy Cardinal.

"And a sparrow!"

Not nearly so interesting, but I have no beef with the sparrows. They can't help it that they lack the pizazz of other birds. It's just the way God made them. ;-)

"And our mouse friend!"

"Yeah, and...Wait, WHAT?!"

I dashed to the window in disbelief. Indeed, the little *#!&er was out there helping himself, without a care in the world, blissfully unaware of the heartbreak that his presence was causing in our house. Because this second little foray made it official - we cannot have a traditional bird feeder. The urban neighborhood that we live in just does not make for the right conditions. I think that poor Anne was hoping that by elevating his status to a friendly one, we would let him stay and peacefully co-exist with the birds, but of course, NO, NO NO. We must once again dry up the food source. And then we cannot refill it.

I was teary-eyed watching the Cardinal pair last night before I went to bed. We probably will still occasionally see them after this, but only fleetingly and it won't be the same. I think we'll pick up a hummingbird feeder the next time we're at the hardware store, as they eat nectar, which as a liquid will not pose a rodent problem. Anne is excited about that, so we'll give it a go. I'll still in mourning over the loss of the other birds, but carry on I must.


I need to be cheered up. Who has an amusing story to share in the comments? :-)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

More outdoor dancing adventures, and a new member of my gadget family...

Hello to you ALL! I'm happy to be back with you again, as we navigate our way through a warm and humid July. I had a dance performance over the weekend, plus I got a new iPod, and we went to Mass as a family. I call that a fantastic weekend, right there! So, why don't we settle in and compare weekend notes...

I made a summer version of my chatting graphic!! :0 Do you like?
Saturday my troupe was dancing at a local artisan's market, and so off we trooped in our hot pink coverups onto the subway. I don't think I've ever posted a picture of my coverup, but it literally is a giant, eye-searingly pink mumu with super long bell sleeves. And while I feel conspicuous wearing it out in public if I'm going alone to a gig, I never do when we are together as a group.

"What are YOU looking at?!"

I mean, they're the ones not part of the hot pink dancing goodness, they're missing out. Pshaw.

This of course does not necessarily *translate* to our gawking and incredulous fellow subway riders:

"Ok. I'm going to ask."

That's always how the conversation is initiated, 100% of the time. This person has obviously been debating whether or not to approach us for the past several minutes, and may have been dared by their friends to do so. This happened *4 times* on Saturday:

"Are you guys...[fill in the blank with one of an assortment of eclectic groups]?"

Last month, someone asked us if we were psychics. Because psychics travel in packs and often wear loudly adorned caftans? I'm not certain, but the guesses are always interesting. This weekend we got:


Well. That was a new one. I'm not certain that Wiccans wear such a vast quantity of hot pink either, but it's not like a I know a heck of a lot about Wiccan fashion. We quickly assured our questioner that we were dancers, not Wiccans. I suppose one could be both, but that does not apply here. :0


*another blatantly sizing up gaze*

"What...KIND of dance do you do?"

I think that in our part of the world, when someone says the word "dancer," the other person pictures hair buns and black leotards, not fuchsia mumus and Saidi canes, which we were also carrying.

"Middle Eastern."


They usually just look somewhat confused at this point, and we quickly sidle away.

Upon our arrival at the venue, we were grateful to feel the much reduced temperature from our last outdoor foray. There was a cool breeze coming off the water, and life was grand. Until we started dancing, that is.

I mean, everything was fine, and whereas audience members were paltry before we got there, a crowd gathered to watch us dance, which was lovely. But what happened is that once dancing, I started to SWEAT, even despite the milder weather. And sweat running into my eyes brings on the allergy situation. Apparently my eyes are already all sensitive due to seasonal allergies, and so when I get sweat in them, along with the inevitable sunscreen remnants, my eyes begin to twitch and tear. I swiped at them as best I could whenever my back was to the audience, but that only endeavored to make it WORSE. So, that was unfortunate.

#NotAGoodLook ;-)

In terms of actual dancing though, I was really happy. Everything went great, including my last minute improvised solo. We had a fantastic audience, and it was easy to feed off their energy. I was super pleased.

And speaking of dancing and music, I have a new member of the family to announce.

*drum roll*

A few weeks ago, I lost my beloved iPod, Cecilia. Let us mourn her with a moment of silence.


I rely heavily on having a separate mp3 player for dance music. I don't want to put it on my phone for various reasons I won't bore you with. A friend gave me her old iPod, which I am very grateful for. She is hot pink (!), fantastic, and we've named her Kateri.

I have all of my dance, workout and seasonal playlists on her, and I am just the happiest camper that I could possibly be. Now I am excitedly planning my solo playlist for the upcoming art festival and feeling pleased as punch.

Saturday evening, after the dancing frivolity was done, all four of us attended a vigil Mass together. Often, it's just me and the kids, so it's extra special when Mike comes with us. The church was warm from the heat, but it mattered not. The Mass was lovely. We are soldiering happily on during summer Ordinary Time.

How was YOUR weekend, dear reader? Are you praying the St. Anne novena? It started Sunday, but there's still plenty of time to join in!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #57 - Podcasting misadventures & chaplet organization...

Good morning all! I hope you have your morning beverage for a humid mid-July edition of:

Today I'm talking about troubleshooting some Skype misadventures, my upcoming Google Hangout on Air that you can join (!), and how I organize my embarrassingly vast collection of chaplets and rosaries. Come join in the fun!

**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:
  • Happy feast of St. Kateri!
  • My Chaplets page, which has about a dozen different video and downloadable audio recordings for you to pray along with.
How do you organize your prayer beads, or books, or whatever else you tend to collect? This librarian would love to hear all about it!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The art of the social interaction...

We wear matching shirts sometimes. Because we are nerds.
I am an introvert, you all know this about me, though I am now a lot more social than I used to be. And with all of the interviews I've sat in on lately, I've been thinking a lot about social skills. I'm still far from perfect in my own, but I have come a lot way from the shy teenager I used to be. I really notice more, as an adult, how other people navigate these same social waters and how at ease they are with it. With children, I can see how they are, of course, not born with this skill, and need help in refining it. Right now, it seems like both of my children have not yet honed their ability to initiate and pace conversations. This is totally normal. It is also, after a time, incredibly irritating. I really need to get this off my chest. :0

I don't know about you, but I'm often absorbed in my own head. I'm thinking about lots of different things, I'm also trying to read something, plus I'm stirring something on the stove. Some people call this scattered, but I just call it multi-tasking. ;-)

When you're lost in your own thoughts, and another introverted adult (who also happens to be my gorgeous husband) happens upon you, wanting to start a conversation with you, it generally goes something like this:

"Hey hon. Did you remember to pick up that cheese we need for tomorrow?"

It is now the generally accepted social norm that there will be a pause as you think about your answer:

"Hum? Oh, right. Yes, I did. Though they didn't have the goat cheese I wanted, so I got feta instead. I think that'll go fine in the recipe."

"OK great, thanks."

We both go back to whatever we were thinking about previously. We co-exist in the kitchen together in companionable silence. We are both happy.

The following is what happens when one of my children happens upon me lost in my own thoughts:


There is no expectation of a pause of any sort. If you do not immediately respond, they will continue shouting your name at you until you do.


I can't help it, I have a low threshold startle reflex. :0 They always catch me off guard.

"I have to ask you a question!"

I had already clued into that, but no matter. You must acknowledge, or they will not proceed. I now have to respond a second time, and let the record reflect that NO QUESTION HAS YET BEEN ASKED.


"Yes, Dear, what is your question?"

"Can I (fill in the blank. Usually something they know they are not allowed to do)."

"No honey, we've already talked about this."

"BUT...*insert incessant whining here*"

There is no end to this painful social interaction. :0 It goes on and on until either (a) the child is satisfied (pretty unlikely), or (b) they are sent to their room in tears.

It is all quite exhausting. Parents, let us BAND TOGETHER IN SOLIDARITY! Which translates to a virtual community glass of wine after the children go to bed.

On this same social note, Anne and I were out for a neighborhood walk together this past Sunday afternoon. I was pulling her along in her little wagon, her multitude of saint dolls also along for the ride. Suddenly, a women who was headed out to her car calls out to us:

"Do you go to St. Paul's?"

See, I had the pausal expectation on my side, so we were all good. I had no idea who this woman was, but she clearly goes to our church. I processed this all for several blissful seconds.


"I see you and your children there all the time! How lovely...(lots of highly pleasant talk of the parish and Catholic family life).

In the past, I would have been terrible at navigating such a scenario. While I was talking to the original lady, another woman came out. A mother/daughter conversation team! Talking to people that I do not know used to fill me with anxious awkwardness. Now, though I don't seek out such opportunities (who else hates ordering takeout over the phone?! Online reservation form COME TO MAMA!!) I actually enjoy putting myself out there and talking to other people. We now have a new friend at the 11 am Mass, and I couldn't be more thrilled.

How about you, dear reader? Do you relish or dread social interactions with unknown fellow humans?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Seasonal children's books to uplift our spirits...

Hi all. I'm having a bit of a melancholy morning. You know how it is - one things goes a bit crappy, and suddenly as if the universe is conspiring against you. ;-) It's just one of those days, tomorrow will be better!

At any rate, I was on Amazon checking my shopping list for any drops in prices on the Kindle books I have my eye on, and I was struck by inspiration for a writing topic today: Cranberry Autumn.

Last Saturday I took Anne to our public library. She picked out some books (several of the ADORABLE Gossie & Friends series), and I picked out a few. The children's books are arranged by author last name, so it's difficult to browse unless you know what you're looking for.  Cranberry Autumn caught my eye because it was shelved near the beginning of the of the alphabet, and because of the title. I LOVE autumn. It's my very favorite time of the year, so I snapped it off the shelf and added it to our pile.
When we got home, we made our way through the books, and truly, I enjoyed them all. I don't know about you, but my kids always want/wanted the EXACT SAME BOOKS READ TO THEM, OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. It's nice when the library brings a bit of variety in our lives. ;-)

I LOVE Cranberry Autumn, it is super charming and quaint, with quirky, fun characters. And indeed, it is part of a longer series entitled Cranberryport, all focused on the same seaside town. The autumn installment of the series has this as its description:

A search of Grandmother's attic turns up a valuable item for Cranberryport's fall antique sale while, at the same time, the wily trickster, Cyrus Grape, threatens to spoil everything, bringing Mr. Whiskers and the rest of the town to the rescue.
Not all of the books are still in print, but you CAN procure them through Amazon's Marketplace. The more popular installments are indeed available new, such as the Christmas and Halloween volumes. I put those on Anne's wish list, but we're heading back to the library this weekend to see what else our branch has in their collection, and we're nerdily excited. 

Do YOU have any favorite children's books, dear reader? Either from your own childhood, or one that you read currently to the children in your life? I would love to add some titles to our library list!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Tea Time with Tiffany #56 - Summer novenas, holiday knitting, birds & blogging: What do all these things have in common?!

Hello all, and welcome to a jam packed edition of:

Today I talk about July novenas, my summer knit-along progress and holiday crafting list, some drama at our backyard bird feeder, and why I started (and keep on) blogging. 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:

July novena page.
Pray More Novenas, for monthly novena emails.
Busy, crafty plans - The 0fficial Christmas in July 2016 post!
The Sibley Guide to Birds

Are you praying any summer novenas? Planning your Christmas crafting list, or otherwise crafting anything new this summer? Do you have bird feeder advice, please, I beg you. :0 And do you enjoy writing? What is your motivation in doing so? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Crafty Christmas plans & saint stories on 4th of July weekend...

I'm back at work after a perfectly *glorious* three day holiday weekend. Can we all have a moment of silence while we emit a collective groan?


I am, however, hanging in there. I have more search committee obligations tomorrow which will keep me from blogging, so we'll be on a Tuesday/Thursday/Friday schedule this week, just so you know. And my thoughts are awhirl with all kinds of stuff. So...highlights!

Fireworks. Every year, prior to the big event, I regret having the kids stay up until 10 pm just to be able to watch them ("HENRY, stop touching my hair!!), but then I am glad that I did. We had a wonderful time, and built some lovely memories.

As well, my daughter is at a very adorable age. :-) For whatever reason, she has adopted St. Bernadette as her very favorite saint of all time, and so I ordered her a felt St. Bernadette doll from one of our favorite saint Etsy shops. St. Bernadette made her big arrival this weekend, and immediately began hanging out with her fellow saints:

Anne and the saint dolls. Sounds a bit like a budding rock band. ;-)
Our Lady of Czestochowa and Guadalupe, respectively, are quite tired over there on the left. But that is St. Bernadette in the center, and Anne LOVES her. She carries her around with her everywhere and it is absolutely precious. I'm already getting excited thinking about which saints I'll order for both her and Henry for the coming winter holidays


I also spent quite a bit of time knitting. This is that time, every year, wherein I get Christmas in July fever and go wild making lists of what I want to make this upcoming fall and holiday season. I'm currently working on a knit-along shawl that is due by the end of the month, so I devoted all of my crafting time this weekend to that:

Those are going to be leaves, which will become visible once blocked. Hopefully.

I made good progress (now on repeat 7 of 11!) and it inspired me to start my annual Christmas in July panic session: should I create my holiday crafting list?! This will cause me to panic even more, so OF COURSE I should!!


This is what I came up with:
  • Projects currently in the works that I'd like to finish by early fall. This includes the knit-along, 1 baby gift, a random lace scarf, and 1 in-progress poncho that I'd like to wear for the New York Sheep and Wool festival in October: Total of 4.
BOOYAH. I can totally finish all that by early October.

Christmas gifts 2016:
  • Secret Santa gift for my knitting group exchange.
  • A dress and amigurumi Cardinal for Anne.
  • New socks for Henry.
  • 2 surprises for Mike.
  • Requested shawl for my good friend Irena.
Total of 8 gifts. This is slightly less BOOYAH'ish, but I still think it's manageable. The operative word here is *think*.

What I worry about is that this list usually, ahem, EXPANDS as time flows into the fall. I get all ambitious, and decide to cast on additional gifts, plus random sweaters and accessories (I have my eye on a gigantic entrelac wrap kit, SOMEBODY STOP ME!), and all yarn hell breaks loose. We'll see what happens. I may need an accountability partner in this endeavor, I'll keep you posted. ;-)

Does anyone else have their fall and winter crafting list set up? If you do, CONGRATULATIONS, you're as anal as I am, and that means that I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. :0 Do share your list with us!

How was your 4th of July weekend, dear ones?!