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!