Wednesday, August 23, 2017

On headaches and 30 day prayer challenges...

Soooooooo, I had a totally different post planned for today about discernment. And happened. It was not a good day, work-wise. The semester starts Monday, and as is our new normal, we're all running around putting out fires that NEVER start back in June. They only start 2 days before classes begin. Every.Single.Time.

I felt frustrated. I felt stressed out and harried. I felt like I was forgetting things from moment-to-moment, as is always the case when I'm trying to do too many things at the same time. I developed a headache.

As I popped an ibuprofen, I thought of the text string I had with Sam last night. As we were talking about the stress of the new semester approaching (Sam is starting a brand new job as a teacher in a combined 1st/2nd grade classroom!) I said that I was really feeling deep in my soul how important prayer was going to be for me this semester. So that I wouldn't sink back down to the abyss of anxiety and depression and happened last fall (we will heretofore refer to the fall of 2016 as "That Semester" and shudder whenever we hear it's name). I had an official "Fall 2016 Managing Stress Series" last year for a reason. It's painful to reflect back on.

At any rate, back to prayer. Sam, my sister, and myself are in the midst of a 30 day yoga challenge for stress relief and relaxation.Which may not seem to have anything to do with prayer, but stay with me! :0 I mentioned to Sam how I longed to get back into a routine with praying the Liturgy of the Hours, but it's just SO difficult to stay consistent with it (footnote: the Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church; it is made up of hymns, psalms, and other short prayers relating to the liturgical season and/or feast day). She and I both then commiserated on just how many times we've failed miserably at keeping up with Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. Then I had a eureka moment:

"We should do a 30 day challenge for *that*!"

Right?! For 30 days, we'll endeavor to keep up with this form of prayer. Now, Sam and I both agreed that Morning Prayer? It's just not happening. We're realistic, you see. We're up by 6 (Sam even earlier than that), I have kids out the door by 7:20, Sam has a 40 minute commute, we both have classes first thing...Morning Prayer just isn't going to fit in there. Doesn't mean we can't pray a morning offering, but official Morning Prayer would only make us cry. So what we thought we would try is for 30 days, praying Evening and Night prayer. Something to look forward to after our long days, and both are designed to be SO soothing for weary souls. Would you like to join us?

If you own Christian Prayer, or the 4 volume set of the Liturgy of the Hours, you're all set.  If you'd like to use an online tool, there is the iBreviary app, which is available for both Android and ios, or you can use Universalis. I have the Divine Office app, but I know that isn't for sale currently while they work out a copyright situation. It doesn't matter what you use, as long as it allows you to pray!

We're going to start Monday, 8/28. I can have accountability posts in here from time-to-time, so we can check in with each other and see how it's going. It made me feel SO much better to think of this today in midst of my Nightmare Day From The Pits Of The Evil One.

If you'd like to join us, or just have thoughts generally on helpful forms of prayer for stressful times, please comment below!


Friday, August 18, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #109 - How to *not* feel overwhelmed...

It's an organization-focused episode this week of:

Had a little bit of a technical mishap today, and the audio didn't record on my video. 😡 So no video this week, but I do have the separate audio for the podcast feed, so that's all we have this week, sorry about that! I put lipstick on and everything. :0

This week we talk about strategies for evading that sense of being overwhelmed as we segue into Back-to-School season full force!

**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 "Feelin' Good" from

Items mentioned in this episode:

On My Bookshelf:  

Prayer Corner: St. Monica novena starts Friday 8/18, sponsored by Pray More Novenas. You can now also sign up for Facebook Messenger notifications by following the directions in this post!

Creative Commons: The Rhinebeck Sweater continues to grow. :0 I'll have a photo as soon as I join the back and can try it on!

What's going on with you this weekend, dear listener? What are your ideas for feeling less overwhelmed?

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

*lots of keyboard clacking* "Hum. Oh dear." Adventures in traveling, 2017 edition...

As I mentioned in Tea Time last week, I had a trip to visit my best friend Cristina planned for this past weekend, and we had been planning it since May. Saturday morning, my bags were packed, I was at the airport before 6 am for my 7:15 am flight (after a fitful night of sleep anticipating the early alarm), and I was ready to go. I walk up to the self-checkout kiosk thingie, type in my reservation number, and am greeted with the following message:


Well grand. Not exactly what I want to see before I've had even a drop of tea. I take the little slip of paper that it printed it out, and limp over to the ticket agent. She greets me with a smile:

"Good morning!"

That remains to be seen.

"How can I help you?"

I smile and hand her my ominous slip of paper. She looks down at it, still smiling.

"ooohhhhh. You're flying into Newark? That flight is cancelled."

BOOM. I wished I could have slept in before dealing with all of this. 😱


That's the understatement of the morning.

"Let me just see for you when the next flight is that we could fit you in on."

She begins that nefarious practice of typing on her keyboard with the constant clickety clacking sound that inevitably takes 10 minutes, yet results in a concise announcement just like this:



I really needed caffeine. This had never happened to me before. It was *6 am*. And there's not a single flight I can get on within a 24 hour time period? Apparently not.

"Tomorrow? Really?"

"Yep. It's weather related."

That really didn't fully answer the question, but I was too tired to dig for further details.

"OK, well...put me on that one, please."

She's still clacking away, while I text Mike to ask him to come back and get me. Suddenly, I had a painful thought:

"What time did you say that flight was tomorrow?"

"6 am!"

She said that so brightly. I groaned.

I deliberately had not booked the 6 am flight because it would have meant getting up at about 3:30 am. And I was already operating on one abysmal night of sleep. Plus, Cristina lives quite a ways from the airport, so this would mean a crazy early morning for her as well.

"Gosh, that's... a bit earlier than I'd like. What is the next flight out after that?"

More clacking.

"2 pm!"

*long suffering sigh*

I knew that there was a 90th birthday party that Cristina and family were attending on Sunday, and I was slated to be their guest. This would likely fall right in the middle of that, and they live 90 minutes from the airport.

A conferral with Cristina bore all of this out - the 6 am and 2 pm flights weren't going to work. Going any later would cut my trip ridiculously short. We agreed it would be best to just save the ticket for another weekend, and we would try to plan a road trip in the fall.


I can use my ticket for up to a year, but that does little to soothe my spirits. I am sad.


So here I am, home and cranky. But safe. Everything happens for a reason, right?

You need to give me this one little solace to cling to, people. ;-)

In the meantime, I did have a lovely weekend with Mike and the kids. I've been getting more writing done on my Bible study. AND I have lots of stuff to talk to you about in Tea Time this week! Upcoming novenas, Third Orders, books, fall crafts. Horray!

How was your weekend, dear reader? Care to commiserate on cancelled flights?

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #108 - Back to School, and Scentsy talk!

Hello all! And welcome to a Back to School themed episode of:

Today I talk back-to-school, fall Scentsy shenanigans, and my trip this weekend to see Cristina! Plus, I finally reveal my Rhinebeck sweater, and what the heck that is. 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 "Feelin' Good" from

Items mentioned in this episode:

My Scentsy website. Just send me an email if you'd like to join the Facebook group!

On My Bookshelf: Amish Quilt Shop series. Murder Plainly Read (Book 4), and Murder Handcrafted (Book 5).

Creative Commons: My Rhinebeck sweater, Opposite Pole, by Joji Locatelli. Yarn is Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes. My sweater specifically is in the Aurora Heather colorway. :) Link to the NY Sheep and Wool Festival!

Prayer Corner: Novena to St. Maximilian Kolbe! Watch for my piece about him on Catholic Mom, this coming Monday 8/14. 

What are you working on this weekend, dear readers? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 8...


It's the end of our Summer Book Club, and this Catholic librarian is feeling a bit emotional. It doesn't help that my kids are on a short overnight trip with their grandparents to a water park, and I'm all weepy about THAT, too.


My lucky husband. ;-)

But let's get down to business! The final segment in our Summer Book Club for 2017 is about to begin...grab your beverage!

All right, so we pick up with Shem and Mara on the run. They had met Mary, and are on their way back to Sychar, but with Mara trying to convince Shem that he must heed Jesus's call to follow Him. Shem, unlike Mara, is still very much unconvinced that Jesus is the Chosen One they've been waiting for. As Shem and Mara travel, they continue to grow in affection for each other. Shem decides that upon their return to Sychar, he will ask Mara to marry him.

When they return, they are happened upon by the roving band of bitter men that are always causing trouble in Sychar, i.e. Zevulun and his minions. 😒  They immediately accuse Mara of being just like her mother. Shem and Mara of course rightly deny this, but reason and honesty play no role with Zevulun. He drags them to the temple, where Mara is publicly accused of untoward behavior outside of marriage. Shem isn't too worried, because the punishment for this when both parties are unmarried is for them to get married. This is what they both want anyway. Right?

Mara does want this. But she feels deep in her heart that it would be wrong to prevent Shem from following Jesus the way he was asked to. She denies him her hand so that he will be free to follow Jesus's invitation.

Shem is devastated. This is a *very* powerful scene. 😢 And apparently, they now have to ask any of the other unmarried village men if THEY will marry Mara. If none of them will, she will be stoned.


Shem is still begging Mara to marry him when Enosh steps forward. And so Deltaflute and Melanie were correct!

Enosh wants to marry Mara, AND he defends her good name in front of everybody, saying that he will pay a full dowry for her hand in marriage, though in this situation, it is not required (as a way to further humiliate the woman in question). Enosh loves her. Though Mara hadn't seen Enosh in a romantic light as of yet, she is very fond of him, and knows that he will be good to her. She believes that she will only continue to grow in her feelings for him, and so she accepts. They are betrothed on the spot, and Mara consents to a one day betrothal as a sign of good will towards Enosh's kindness and generosity to her.

While all of this is happening, Nava walks in. Not only is she healed, but so is Asher! His club foot has completely disappeared.

Shem is in disbelief, but Mara's dramatic actions, and Nava and Asher's healing, have a deep effect on him. For Mara to be so convinced that he must follow Jesus, it drives the point home to Shem that there is something special about Jesus. He has a change of heart and realizes that he wants to do as Jesus has asked. He will go to Jerusalem.

He and Mara have a painful goodbye. He knows that Enosh will take good care of her, Nava and Asher, but his heart is broken that he cannot be with her as he wishes. Mara is also crushed, but still optimistic as her wedding day dawns.

In the epilogue, our worst fears are confirmed: Shem goes to Jerusalem to do the Lord's work, and is stoned by an angry mob. He isn't afraid, knowing that he will be going to his eternal home with Jesus.

Holy smokes. This was powerful. I have to admit, even though I know how this story has to end, I felt frustrated with Mara for not just agreeing to become betrothed to Shem during that dramatic scene in the temple. Surely, saving herself from stoning and being able to be there to take care of Asher, and making a family with Shem, would be a good and holy thing! Even with my firm faith in our Lord, I struggled with this! Her faith is an inspiration to me.

And that moment with Nava and Asher walk in! *swoons* I had tears in my eyes.

My take-away on the love story is that Mara will grow to love Enosh romantically, and that the first tentative steps in that direction have already been taken emotionally. Plus, she trusts him and he makes her feel secure. She knows that he will make her happy. This gives me a warm and fuzzy.

All right, I NEED all of your thoughts now! I *cannot wait* to read the next two books in this series with you all!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #107 - The epic dancing weekend, & morning offerings!

Happy Friday everyone, and welcome to our early August edition of:

Today I address the EPIC dancing weekend I had, more about performance jitters, a new trilogy from my favorite secular author who specializes in suspense set in Montana, the joy of Morning Offering prayers, and the Downton Abbey shawl is coming along!

**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 "Feelin' Good" from

Items mentioned in this episode:

Highlights from last weekend's epic dance performances

On my Bookshelf: Dark Horse (Whitehorse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping), by BJ Daniels.

Prayer Corner: Morning Offerings.

Creative Commons: The Downton Abbey shawl I will be gifting is coming right along!

Needs lots of blocking when it's done, but coming along nicely!

What have you been working on this summer? Are you looking forward to back-to-school season? Any Advent book club suggestions? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 7...

Hi everyone! Hope you are all well today. We had a longer swatch of our book to read today (chapters 25-29), and Great Googly Moogly did it pack a punch! This is our penultimate week, and it was certainly a doozy. Grab your tea cup!

Soooo, a lot happened this week. :0 I'm going to mention the things that stood out to me, but I'm certain that not everything will come to me right away, since there was so much going on in these five chapters. But here goes: Shem and Mara are trapped in that creepy guy's (Silas? We'll go with Silas) fancy house. Mara is very uncomfortable with the way she is dressed and made up by the female servants in the house. For the first time, her hair isn't wild and tangled, and she has make up on her face, and both Silas and Shem take notice. Shem, though, is a gentleman, and thus is discreet in his admiration and is in Protection Mode to keep Mara safe. Silas, on the other hand, is still lecherous, and grows more so as he drinks. Everyone settles into dinner, and Mara is hurt by Shem's attempt to be dismissive and rude to her in a ploy to throw Silas off their plan.

As the dinner wears on, it becomes clear to Shem that Silas plans to get Mara drunk, take advantage of her, and then dispose of her. In order to do so, he most likely plans to dispose of Shem as well. Mara and Shem end up improvising a scheme of Mara getting sick to get them out of dinner and away from Silas.  Back in her room, Shem wants to escape, but Mara is too exhausted to travel. He decides they can sleep for a short spell before making their move, but when Mara is startled awake, she peeks outside to see Silas leading two Roman soldiers into the house. Not surprisingly, he has sold Shem out.

Shem and Mara make a hasty getaway out the window. They have a perilous journey over to the sea of Galilee, where they meet up with Zebedee, a friend of Shem's dad. He helps them out and finally gets them to Jesus. There, Mara has a Moment, and then runs away.

*long suffering sigh*

She now feels unworthy to talk to Jesus. Jesus seeks out Shem, and their conversation makes Shem all the more skeptical. Apparently, Jesus tells him that Shem will be the first of many, and that his name is now Stephen.

Am I the only one with a terrible sense of foreboding here?!



Jesus also gives Shem a message to relay to his mother, Mary. *sniffle* Zebedee aids them back to Nazareth so that they can see Mary, and I just LOVED this part. I loved that we got to visit with her. *heart* Mara asks Shem why the soldiers are after him, and he finally tells her. Interiorly, Shem comes to the conclusion that if he survives, he wants to live in Sychar permanently, working in his grandfather's olive grove, and marry Mara. At this point, they have no idea if Nava is still alive or not, and Shem knows that he loves Mara, and wants to provide for her and Asher.

After visiting with Mary, Mara has a change of heart. She wants to try and find Jesus again, who is now traveling towards Jerusalem. She has a feeling deep within her heart that Shem should accept Jesus's invitation to follow him. Although Shem doesn't agree, he does want Mara to have another chance to ask Jesus to heal Nava. They head on their way.

Oh boy. I just...these chapters really grabbed me. Does this mean that Shem is St. Stephen?! And does this mean that maybe Mara will end up with somebody else? Enosh, like Melanie mentioned? God forbid, the guy who seems to kill all of his young wives?!

GOOD GOLLY. Next week is our last week, and that will take us through Chapter 33 plus the Epilogue. We'll be discussing next Wednesday! *heart in throat*

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

I survived. *collapses*

Well, I made it. This was the busiest dance weekend I ever had, and to be honest it's a bit of a blur because I'm so tired. :0 I don't quite have the time to write a full post on the whole shebang, but here are some highlights:

(1) "Try and be discreet when entering the wedding reception venue. Our performance is a surprise for the bride and groom!" Let's just say that giant iridescent wings are not so easy to discreetly tuck into your bag.

Exhibit A

(2) Balancing items on one's head that are actually lit on fire is apparently scary for some viewers. ;-)

(3) 8 belly dancers with Isis Wings and 2 balancing candle trays, on a small dance floor, makes for a bit of a dangerously cramped situation.

(4) Heat, direct sunlight, and asphalt do not make for a pleasing dance environment. 😱

(5) When rolling out the lovely solo arm work segment, sweat running down both arms only enhances the ethereal beauty. Or so I tell myself.

(6) Uneven surfaces make for unsteady belly dancers. Nobody actually twisted an ankle, so I guess we'll call this a win!

(7) Everybody still loves Sword, the little stinker.

(8) A person can actually sweat more during an indoor 15 minute solo set than during a 5 hour, outdoor spell, at a sweltering art festival. Now you know.

(9) Being a belly dancer and inviting women to get up and dance with you yields about a 50% success rate. That's actually higher then I would have thought. 😂

(10) People genuinely love and enjoy cultural dance. Seeing smiling faces, tapping feet, and rolling shoulders out in the audience when we dance brings me a lot of joy.

At my studio, the aim is always to present authentic Egyptian dance as an art form, in a classy and graceful fashion, with costuming that is elegant and modest. American conceptions of belly dance are often quite the opposite, and we are the Belly Dance Ambassadors, armed with properly draped beads and sequins to perform the dance in a beautiful light. We clearly need super hero shirts with a big sparkly B on the front. ;-)

Although exhausting, I had a fabulous weekend. And I will detail it ALL for you in Tea Time this week! Bet you can't wait. :0 What were you up to this weekend?!

Friday, July 28, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #106 - Battling nerves & exciting book club plans...

Happy Friday everyone, and welcome to our late July edition of:

Today I talk about performance jitters, the height of the summer festival season, and plans for future book clubs. 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 "Feelin' Good" from

Items mentioned in this episode:

This week's amusing dance adventures post

On my Bookshelf

  • Summer equestrian theme - Sabotage (Love Inspired Suspense), by Kit Wilkinson
  • The next 2 books in the Living Water trilogy for Lenten/Easter book club 2018 - The Thief (on sale right now for $4.99 for Kindle), and The Tomb.

Prayer Corner: St. Maximillian Kolbe novena

Creative Commons:  Downton Abbey crocheted shawl. Pattern is Happily at the Abbey, and the yarn is Knit Picks' Stroll Hand Painted.

Original finished shawl (colorway is the discontinued Hayride):

Newly started shawl in different colorway for Irena (colorway is Big Top):

What's going on with you this weekend? What do you think of my book club ideas? Do you have a book suggestion for our Advent book club? Please write in!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 6...

Welcome all! We're actually nearing the end of our Summer Book Club if you can believe it. Today, we are discussing chapters 21-24, and after this we just have two segments left to go! In today's chapters, we witness a lot of character growth between Shem and Mara, and the story focuses solely on them and their dilemma. Let's grab our tea cups and get started!

So Shem and Mara are on the road to find Jesus. They encounter some challenges along the way, but Shem is always protective of Mara. When they get to their destination, they are disappointed to find that Jesus is not there, he has proceeded on with his disciples. Shem is concerned about continuing, because their chances of encountering Roman soldiers will increase, and as we know, this would be a death sentence for him if he is recognized. Mara though, does not know about any of this, and is determined to press on to find Jesus, with or without Shem. Shem will not allow Mara to go alone, so they continue together. They have a long talk about Jesus, and their differing feelings about Him and His message. Mara can't fully explain why, but she believes in Him. Shem is skeptical, and does not see how He could be the Chosen One. Not only that, but Mara's belief that Jesus could heal Nava from afar is utter nonsense to Shem. For the first time, they stew a bit over their disagreement.

Eventually, they encounter a man who knows Shem's father. He is very wealthy, and insists that Mara and Shem stay overnight at his house. Shem does not trust this man, and this man is super creepy and lecherous with Mara, but Shem knows that if they refuse his offer they will offend him. And offending this guy could set off a chain reaction that is VERY bad for Shem, given that he is a powerful man and he knows about Shem's prior run-in with the Romans. So Shem reluctantly agrees, telling Mara to stay silent. He has told Creepy Guy that Mara physically cannot speak to keep him from asking her anything and suspecting anything about her.

When we leave off, Shem is lounging with their host, trying to get him to believe his story that Mara is his cousin, and that they are on some innocent errand. He wants to escape without this guy getting offended or suspicious of them. The guy, though, appears to be a bit of a hothead, and I am very anxious for Mara's safety. Shem and Mara need to press on the next day to get to Jesus, but their host wants them to stay for several more days. Now we need to see what happens the next morning. 😬

I enjoyed the dialogue this week between Shem and Mara very much. Mara's childlike faith in Jesus is very inspiring to me, though I relate to Shem's initial skepticism quite strongly. I am incredibly worried for both of them, and positively FLEW through these chapters. Next week we have 5 chapters (25-29) instead of the usual four, and I'm rather glad, because I didn't want to stop reading! Even though Nava didn't appear in these chapters, I still felt her presence. Her conversion and courage in promoting honesty and integrity, and in protecting her son, are an inspiration to me. I really hope that she makes it, and that she can continue to be a witness for Jesus's message.

What did YOU think this week, dear reader?! I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"Oh great! The Hawaiian dancers are here!" Adventures in summer dancing, take 343...

So, this weekend's dancing adventures were...interesting. We can say that for certain. ;-) Never a dull moment since I started training in Middle Eastern dance, and for a shy and timid gal, I suppose that is a very good thing. Grab your coffee or tea!

Saturday I had two dance events lined up: one was a larger studio performance at a local public library for a children's reading group themed around cultural dance. The other was a paid gig for 3 dancers at a country club for a corporate party. Each had it's share of challenges and amusements. :0

For the library event, we had a bunch of group dances scheduled. I was dancing with my troupe, and Claire had also asked me to do a solo with Sword, since she wanted a variety of props to showcase. You all know about my love/hate relationship with Sword as a balancing prop, but I do what I can. He's been a good boy lately, at least. But he adds an element of stress to any performance that I'd ideally like to avoid. So I was NERVOUS.

I was in a few group numbers before Sword had to come out. Our audience was quiet, to put it mildly. They were attentive (only one child was sleeping :0), and polite, but incredibly quiet, which can make them hard to gauge. Everything went great, although I was distracted by the hip wrap on our new gowns. It was sliding down a lot on my right hip, so I took some pins to it before my slot with Sword came up.

I posed with Sword, and my music started, and wasn't the music I had planned to dance to. :0 This is where being fluent in improvisation really saves your bacon. There was a miscue on my part when I told Claire what song I wanted to dance to. I hadn't specified the version, and I assumed that she had the same version that I did. Never, ever make that assumption, dear friends. 😂

I swirled Sword around, but without the same cues I had marked in my practice, I had no reference points for where I was in the music/where I planned to balance, etc. Not much I could do about it at that point though, so Sword and I soldiered on. The music seemed to be going on interminably, so I stuck Sword up on my head and he balanced like a champ. I took him off, and did a lovely spin, but then the music kept GOING AND GOING. So I stuck him on my head again and channeled Patronus Face for all I was worth. A little toddler came out to dance with me, and his mother was mortified. :0 I think she was worried about the presence of Sword, for which I cannot blame her. Having people come up and dance is fine in other settings, but with the sword present, (even though it isn't sharp) it just isn't the best time for it.

So Sword and I navigated all of that as best we could, and I have to give credit where it is due: he was excellent. No bobbles or other stomach churning issues to deal with. Huzzah!

We finished the group pieces, and our quiet audience departed. They seemed to really like it, and they grew in number as we performed, so I know people were interested. They were just quiet. :)

Then it was time to ready for the evening gig, and my stomach went into definite churning mode. Claire, Amy and I freshened up, and then headed to the country club. We were all schlepping our giant costume bags, and I had Sword safely sheathed beside me. It took a few minutes before we found someone we could ask about where we needed to go. Claire had been trying to get in touch with the event planner all week about specifics on the party and venue, but had received no response.

*ominous music cues up*

The guy that we eventually found told us that the event was being held outside, under a big tent.


We schlep out to the tent. Our approach made a few things abundantly clear:

(a) We'd be dancing outside. Not my favorite thing to do in summer humidity. And,
(b) The party appeared to have a luau theme.

This was alarming, because, well. It doesn't seem like Middle Eastern dancers really fit with a luau, yes?

The guy we met inside introduced us to an outside guy and departed. Outside Guy says:

"Are you all working for us tonight?"

Strange way of putting it, but sure. We all nodded our assent.

"Great. So, people will begin arriving about 6 pm. What we need you to do is stand next to this bowl of leis here and hand them out as they come in. Then you..."

"Um." Claire interrupts him. "We're the belly dancers."

Although I wouldn't have minded the lei handing out job, just for the record. :0 Sword may have been a bit much for that particular task, but still.


Glad that's cleared up.

"Great! Glad you're here. John, these are the Hawaiian dancers! Could you talk to them about how to get their music cued up to the sound system?"

Uh oh. In an instant, a trifecta of brown eyes between me, Claire and Amy meet up in alarm.

"I think there's been a misunderstanding." Claire, our fearless leader, never lets us down. "We're BELLY dancers."

*blink blink*

"Belly dancers. Middle Eastern dancers. EGYPTIAN dance."

"Oh!" It took a second for that to sink in for Outside Guy, but there you have it.

"We're not Polynesian dancers. In fact, there aren't any Polynesian dancers in this area. Perhaps that's why your event planner booked us?"

It's Outside Guy's turn to look mortified.

"Oh gosh. I'm so sorry for this confusion. don't dance in grass skirts?"

*pregnant pause*


Although if I could find a Polynesian dance teacher, I totally would! :0 A beautiful dance, there is just no representation around here, sadly.

Outside Guy apologized profusely that our time had been taken up on a gig that was not at all what we could have expected. We're not certain whether the event planner had thought belly dance WAS Polynesian dance, or whether, in the absence of actual Polynesian dancers, she figured: "eh, this will do instead"? At any rate, it was a giant misunderstanding for all involved. The event planner was not present, so we'll never know, I suppose. We were not the type of entertainment this party had been looking to hire, so we let Outside Guy know that we would just head out, and not to worry about the contract or paying us. He was immensely relieved, and took our information for future events that were not luaus. :0

So there you have it. Never a dull moment, no sir. And this weekend...*shudder* Never a dull moment is an understatement. We have the biggest festival of the year, plus I have 2 additional gigs (one with the troupe, one solo).  Sword's presence is once again being requested, and I suppose I can't begrudge him with how good he's been behaving. 😟 At this point, I need a vacation from my weekends. :0

But on we forge! How was your weekend?! Are you all set for book club this week? It's the third to last week, can you even believe it?!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #105 - Spotlight on St. Kateri!

Hello everyone, and welcome to a St. Kateri themed edition of:

Today I include the first installment in our Church Triumphant series: St. Kateri Tekakwitha! I also update you all on my summer dancing nerves and foibles, planning for fall teaching, kid updates, and summer family fun. 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 "Feelin' Good" from

Items mentioned in this episode:

What's on my Bookshelf - A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms

The Church Triumphant - Focus on St. Kateri Tekakwitha! 
How is your week wrapping up? Do you have a devotion to St. Kateri? I'd love to hear all about it! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 5...

Welcome back, everyone! Our book is getting so good, isn't it?! This week we read chapters 17-20, and we are officially at some serious action. Go grab your coffee or tea!

All right, so we had left off at the trial. Chapter 17 lays out the trial details, and as is not unexpected, the entire thing is the doing of Zevulun, and he has recruited some additional bitter followers that he has worked up into a frenzy about the entire situation. Alexandros is there as a witness. 😡 Shem tries to help, but he is overpowered by the bloodthirsty crowd. Nava admits her guilt. She takes responsibility for her poor choices, and asks for her husband's forgiveness. I really admire the way that she is changing her life.

Her husband still loves her, but he is hurt, and allows himself to be dissuaded from his sympathetic feelings by the crowd. Nava is sentenced to death and immediately taken out to be stoned.

This scene was amazingly powerful. I have always tried not to think about how a person was actually stoned to death, and this reenactment made it abundantly clear how this will all go down. Shem and his grandfather are trying to help, but we as the readers feel as powerless as they do as they try to fight their way through the ravenous crowd. My heart was beating a mile a minute as I read along.

Nava is eventually knocked unconscious by a blow to the head as she tries to protect Asher, who has skirted in to her aid. I think the others believe Nava is dead, and Shem's grandparents take her back to their house in the hopes she could possibly recover. Meanwhile, Mara realizes what happened, and is initially upset that she wasn't made aware of her mother's trial. Everyone settles down a bit as they care for Nava. Mara comes to the realization that the only way her mother will wake up is to be healed. And the first person that comes to Mara's mind as a healer is Jesus. She sets off to find him.

Everyone tries to talk her out of it, as Jesus has moved on to Galilee by this point, and the journey would be dangerous for her. She refuses to give up, so Shem accompanies her. He knows that they will face many challenges as they make their way. Mara is in danger as a Samaritan female, and he himself could be recognized from his incident with the Roman soldier. They forge on.

I'm worried for them. I feel so upset about Nava. But I'm so happy for her that she has experienced this rebirth in her soul. Her husband came around at the end and tried to save her, and I'm hoping that this means there is hope for their relationship as well.

I was so moved by this section of chapters. I can't get over the unjust way women were treated in this society. And the general lack of charity or compassion, which unfortunately carries forward to this day in many ways. I love Mara and Asher so much, and I now feel so bonded to Nava and her struggle to do the right thing. We can all relate to this, yes? What did you think, dear ones?! Next week we read chapters 21-24!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

When people already think you're strange...

...they might not wonder so much when you have bright green silk sticking out of your bag for veil practice at lunchtime, or take your daily walk with earbuds firmly ensconced, muttering to yourself, and accidentally smacking innocent passersby with an inspired arm idea. Because I do all of these things regularly. So at least it's not new news. :0

I have 2 dance gigs on Saturday. One is a cultural showcase for a children's reading program. The other is a paid dinner party/restaurant gig in which I'll dance a solo set. Let's just say I'm NERVOUS.

And when I get nervous, friends, I occupy my mind with preparation like nobody's business. So I listen to my set list multiple times. I practice improvised dancing to it, and film myself, on the lookout for weak hands or painful facial expressions that I can eradicate. I practice with Sword, or in his absence, a subbing umbrella, so that I can block that piece to within an inch of its life.

That's been occupying my mind quite a bit this week. It's just one of those things: this is my creative passion, and it means a lot to me to do it to the best of my ability. I will say, Sword has been a good boy. He's getting *4 gigs* this summer, and is downright gleeful about the whole thing. He's been on his best behavior.

But even when Sword is good, I am still highly suspicious of him, and his possible next move.
I was thinking today during my walk about how nervous I still get before I perform, even all these years later. And the restaurant gigs are the biggest anxiety-inducer among them. You're dancing for a lot longer than in any other situation, you have an uncontrolled environment containing food, moving people, and children, and your audience may be drinking/rude/completely indifferent or a combination of all three. See the potential for anxiety in there? ;-)

Indeed, when a person is nervous, it often shows in their face. And that's what I battle against the most when I practice. I film myself, and cringe when I see Thinking Face come out. Petrified Face is even worse, as you can imagine. So for the past year or so, more so then actual movements, I've been working on my face. :0

I mean, it's not like I can change my face. It's the face God gave me, and it does tend to look more serious than the average persons. 😬 I wish I could change this about myself, but there's only so much a girl can do. Claire always tells me:

"It's like acting! You put on your Happy Face even when you're nervous!"

And she's right. But I find that Putting On Happy Face on me actually looks like Don't Look At Me Sideways Or I May Cry Face. So last New Year's Eve, when I had the biggest gig of my career, I came up with a new idea. It's my Channeling Joy Via My Happy Place Face.

Seems like a subtle distinction, but it's an important one. :0 I'm not actually happy at that moment, you see. When I'm about to perform, and then begin to do so, I feel sick to my stomach. Pasting on a smile over top of THAT is decidedly not a good look. So I think about what does make me happy. My family and friends, for one thing. Indeed, Middle Eastern dance *does* make me happy at it's core; it's transformed this painfully shy child into a woman who isn't afraid to talk to people anymore, and to put herself out there doing the things that she loves. So I think about those things. And when I think about those things, I actually *feel* more joyful. I've noticed that my face, while sometimes still pleasantly contemplative, has become a lot more happily animated when I dance.

I think I can boil it down to this: before I dance, I am like Harry Potter summoning my Patronus. I  take my mind to the happiest memory I can think of. Then a big, ghostly animal comes and protects me from, I smile and project joy when I perform. ;-) Let's now call this the Patronus Face. I should procure a copyright on this phrase. ;-)

So I'm working on my Patronus over here, big time. According to Pottermore, mine is a Wild Rabbit. How fun. :0

We have book club tomorrow, and Tea Time on Friday this week! What is going on with all of you as we begin the week?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #104 - Summer meetups, and summer creativity!

It's a super sticky and humid edition of:

Today I talk about tears following Sam's departure, a writing progress update, summer dancing gigs in full swing, a spurt of baby knitting, and tons of good novenas coming up. 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 "Feelin' Good" from

Items mentioned in this episode:

Sam's visit!

On my Bookshelf - Harry Potter for the foreseeable future, and of course, The Well. Also saw The Photograph by Beverly Lewis on sale this week, she's one of my original Amish authors! The Kindle edition is currently $1.99.

Prayer Closet - My Catholic Mom piece on St. Dymphna's patronage and chaplet. And happy feast of St. Kateri! Also, St. Anne novena starts soon.

Creative Commons - Knitted a striped baby hat for a friend. The pattern is free, and is Baby Bow Tie Hat. (I eliminated the bow tie for this particular hat, I've made it many times! Easy to customize). The yarn is self striping, and is Felici, available from Knit Picks.  Here is the link to the worsted weight version, now on very good sale!

Love Knitting Christmas in July email, with baby projects! 

What's going on with you, dear ones? Write in and let us know!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 4...

Welcome back everyone! It was an action packed segment of chapters for us this week, yes? We read chapters 13-16, and quite a bit happened. Let's dive right in!

We had left off with Nava encountering Jesus at the well and returning to Mara a changed woman. As we pick up the story from there, we can see there there has indeed been an encompassing change in Nava. Not only is she passionate about Jesus being the One they have been waiting for, her life is now seemingly devoid of mental illness - she's up and about, taking care of Asher and their home. The fact that Jesus interacted with her at the well is shocking to her and everyone else in their village.

There is a lot of time here spent on how Samaritans were seen by other people at that time that I did not fully realize. I did a little research on my own to understand how their faith was different from other Jews, as I was confused by this distinction. I love learning new things!

Nava actually gains some acceptance from a few kind-hearted villagers who are curious about Jesus and take him and his followers in for the night (Shem's grandmother and grandfather). There is, of course, still considerable backlash against Nava, and now new mistrust of Jesus and his sympathy with Nava. We spend some time getting to know Jesus and his apostles, and about the different reactions to them and their teachings. A lot of trepidation in the town, to be sure.

Creepy Alexandros returns and is abusive when Nava refuses him for the first time (big surprise there 😡). As well, Nava tries to spare Mara the knowledge that Zevulun has instigated a trial against her for adultery. When we leave off, the trial is just about to start, and Mara has been sent off on an errand so that she will not be aware of what is going on.

So! I really enjoyed the increasing action of the narrative. It's so refreshing to see Nava interacting with her children in this new way, and to see her clearly so rejuvenated physically, emotionally and spiritually. This all makes things infinitely easier for Mara, another perk, though I know that their danger has increased in other ways - Alexandros and Zevulun falling at the top of that list. Shem continues to grow into his role in his grandfather's olive grove, and it's lovely to see how he's noticing nuances amongst these new friends and family in his life.  This includes Mara, of course, and we're all still waiting to see how these two can end up together. As chapter 16 closed, my heart is hurting for Nava. Really looking forward to picking this up again over the weekend!

Next week we will discuss chapters 17-20. What did you all think of this week's chapters?!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Our Lady of Fatima and lots of Harry Potter movie watching - it's a nerdy weekend meetup edition!

When you get to be a certain age, you recognize that you are a nerd. I recognized this very early on in my life, right around mid-grade school, I'd estimate. ;-) At that time, nerdom was not seen in very high regard, it is true. I tried to hide aforementioned nerdom, and saw it as yet another thing that was wrong with me. Then one traverses the difficult teenage years and move into young adulthood. Sometime around there, I recognized that I was still a nerd. However, by that point you realize that maybe it's not so bad after all. Suddenly, you meet lots of other nerds and they are COOL. You want to be just like them. Oh, and you also realize that in terms of what other non-nerdy people think about nerds?

You don't care. And THAT is such a glorious thing.

This weekend, I had all kinds of nerdy things planned for my exciting meetup with Samantha, and I couldn't have been more happy and content. We affectionately called it the Great Weekend of Catholic Geekdom.


Sam and I met nearly 2 years ago via various channels of new and social media. We met in person for the first time back in May, but only for a brief lunch. This was our first opportunity to hang out in person for any length of time, 

Sam arrived on Friday afternoon, and everyone was all excited to greet her.

Immediate photo op :0

The kids were shy at first, but everyone came out of their shells pretty quickly:

Mike, to me privately: "Do you think I'm talking enough? Am I making good conversation? I want Sam to feel comfortable. I'm so bad at socializing!"

Me: "You're doing fine, sweetheart. I like the teaching conversation you initiated!"

I married another nerdy introvert. I love him. :-)

Our nerdy weekend started out with the entire family watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince over a large pizza, and the lot of us couldn't have been happier. Saturday, we journeyed about a half hour north to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima:

Our Lady, looking lovely at the top of the church

The kids absolutely love climbing up to the top of the church and hanging out with Our lady for a spell, so I attempted a photo:

Henry always looks like he's in a hostage photo

And the view of the grounds and the rosary pond is sublime:

Rosary pond

We spent some time exploring the grounds (after procuring various Catholic tchotkes in the gift shop, of course) and found a little spring that the kids waded in. I'm not certain they were SUPPOSED to do that, but there you have it:

They don't look guilty at all

And we enjoyed looking at all of the saint statuary that covers the grounds:

They bonded with Moses and the Ten Commandments
After heading home, Sam and I had a girls night dinner, which was an absolute *delight*, and we later watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, because you know, NERDS.

Sunday was a lovely quiet morning of puzzles and cards, followed by Mass and the Farmers Market. There were a lot of long faces when Sam had to pack up and leave us. Anne actually woke up crying that night, saying she missed Sam. :-\

I so treasure opportunities like this to meet up with friends I have met online! God is so good to us, no? What did YOU do this weekend, dear reader?!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #103 - Tornadoing cleanliness when houseguests approach...

Happy Friday everyone! It's an exciting meetup edition of:

Today I talk about the avalanche of dancing events I have coming up this summer, Samantha's exciting visit, lots of exciting craft inspiration, and how I read what feels like hundreds of pages each night, yet I advance so little in my Kindle progression percentage. :0

**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 "Feelin' Good" from

Items mentioned in this episode:

My first meet up with Sam!

On my Bookshelf - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The Well, as part of our Summer Book Club.
Prayer Corner - St. Kateri novena. Also, novena to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel begins Saturday!
Creative Commons: 

  • Also, Anne has a new owl hat! Pattern is called Owl Hat, and is another freebie! I highly recommend this one if you are a crocheter.

How are your summer holidays going, dear reader?  What new books are on your bookshelf, and which July novena are you praying? Any fun summer crafting projects? I'd love to hear about it!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 3...

We've made quite a lot of progress with our little book club, haven't we? We're now on chapters 9-12, and nearly halfway through the book! Things are really heating up for Mara and Shem in Sychar, aren't they? Let's get into the action of the week!

So, this week's selection started off with a bang. Shem is hanging out with his grandmother when one of the village gossips comes around. Alexandros comes up in the context of him selling jewelry at the market, and gee, where has he been? Shem, not realizing the gravity of the information he possesses, innocently mentions that he's seen this man's donkey over at Mara and Nava's house. He figures this must be a relative of Mara's. That, of course, is not the case, and the gossipy woman jumps on this tidbit immediately. His grandmother tries to shut things down, but the damage has been done.

Shem feels sick to his stomach as he sees the information making it's way through town, and what this will mean for Mara and her family. Zevuluh, the man Nava broke betrothal with all those years ago, takes it up as a personal vendetta to get Nava kicked out of town. Zevuluh's wife is downright rude to Nava in front of the entire village while everyone is out observing Passover. Nava does not take this lying down, and I can't totally blame her, but she does not consider the position she is putting her children in. Their situation is now much more dire than ever, because the townspeople will begin withholding the food offerings they had previously donated to the family.

And speaking of poor Mara...major squink factor comes into play in that her uncle has received an offer of marriage for her hand. This man is old enough to be her grandfather, and has already had two young wives who have had "accidents" after failing to produce an heir for him. I have no problem with big age differences in relationships, but not when one of them is still a teenager. Good heavens! The uncle wants her to accept the offer, because this would mean the family would not be cast out and starved. The prospective husband, unsurprisingly, given what we know about him, does not want to take Nava and Asher in, but he will provide food for them. Nava would have to begin caring for Asher, and do we really think this plan has a chance of success?

Poor Mara would be selling her soul, and perhaps even her life, to provide for her family. Meanwhile, Shem has growing feelings for Mara that he doesn't quite know what to do with. He just feels awful for his inadvertent role in her current predicament. And he doesn't even know yet about the marriage proposal.

When we come to the end of chapter 12, Nava is at the well. She knows that she has been nothing but a hindrance to her children, and thinks it would be better if she took her own life. She is contemplating throwing herself down the well when Jesus approaches. Her conversation with him changes something in her, and she finds new life in his words. She leaves the well with a reinspired lease on life, and rushes off to tell Mara about what happened. This is where we leave off.

What did you all think?! Quite a lot happened this week. I am so drawn into Mara's story at this point, I am absorbing all of the details like a sponge. I outwardly cringed when Shem let the cat out of the bag, but obviously, it was an innocent accident. I feel so bad for both of them. I'm happy to see Shem growing into his role in his grandfather's business, and I like where that part of the story is going for him. I just worry for Mara. Who knows what Alexandros and this violent marriage proposal guy have in store for her. The end of chapter 12 with Nava is intriguing, and we still have so much of the book to go. That happened a lot earlier than I was anticipating. I wonder where the story will go from here?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

"Oh dear. It's just a wee bit windy today." Adventures in summer dancing - hair and veil wrangling edition...

Welcome back, all! Given that yesterday was a holiday here in the U.S., I figured everyone would be too busy to be reading this humble little blog. Thus, I'm going to bump everything back a day for this week. I have a dance post from the weekend, then we'll do book club tomorrow, and Tea Time on Friday. Sound good?

This weekend proved another interesting one, as we move into full-on festival season mode. I thought we were going to be rained out, but nope. Instead, it was just windy, super humid, and waited to rain until we were 75% of the way through our set. Then it rained too. :0

When I woke up Saturday morning, we had no running water. *groans* There was some kind of street-wide problem, and the town crew had arrived on the scene, shutting off the water for several hours. Naturally, that was right when I need to make myself presentable and wrestle my hair into submission. It was humid, as I mentioned, and humidity makes my hair revert to its wild and feral state. It's not that my hair is curly - because it technically isn't. Curly hair is really pretty! Mine is this half-hearted situation in which it's very wavy and poufy in all the wrong places, like right up on my scalp. The Dignified Poodle look is not exactly what I'm going for, especially for formal events. It's like God got distracted when he was beaming down his finger to form my hair. :0

So I get it straightened, slap on some makeup and my costume, and am not even out the door before my hair begins its insidious journey upward. There was nothing I could do about it at that point, so I persevered on to my destination. By the time we arrived at the waterfront boardwalk that would be our stage, it was even MORE humid than before. It wasn't scorching hot, for that we were grateful. But it was also windy. Very, very windy. Wind and veils do not mix very well, even when they are heavier chiffon rather than silk. We readied our veils apprehensively, and awaited our noon timeslot.

It arrived, and immediately, Claire's iPod died.


She had some of the music on her phone, but not all of it. Oh, and did I mention that it died right in the middle of our first piece? Because it did. :0

We were standing out there with fixed smiles mid-traveling pose while Claire sweated behind us, flicking the iPod until it worked long enough for us to finish that piece. Then we had to re-do the entire set list on the spot to accommodate what everyone could access via their phones. We did the veil pieces in close succession hoping the wind wouldn't get worse before we could finish, but it did. Suffocation by veil in the middle of a public boardwalk isn't anybody's idea of a good time, but we do what we have to.

Fighting the good fight.
A few other numbers got off, and in-between, I was becoming increasingly aware of what we'll call The Great Hair Situation of 2017. As I mentioned, I have very thick and textured hair, and in heat and humidity it simply refuses to do my bidding. First, the waves start to come out. Then it begins the insidious expansion process, inevitably resulting in frizz and halos of the kind you definitely do NOT want. And this is what happens just when Hair is out and about in humidity. When you factor in gale force winds, and the fact that your dance choreography also includes spins in which we flip our hair around, the situation takes a decided turn for the worse.

Hair nightmare developing over in my end of the group
By the time we were approaching the end of our set, I was resembling SNL's Roseanne Rosannadanna:

But, you know. We press on.:0 The last two pieces of music Claire could find on her phone included an old standby that we hadn't planned on performing. That sounds fine, but we hadn't rehearsed this piece in close to a YEAR. I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about that one. Apparently though, these old brain cells are still kickin', because as the music progressed, I remembered each and every movement that went in the choreography.




When we finished, I didn't even want to look at myself in a mirror. There was no way anything besides a titanium bristled comb was going to make it through the rat's nest I was then sporting as my hair, so I just carefully placed it over one shoulder and prayed for a swift journey home and into the shower. Hair and I had made it. Our next performance is also outdoors, and then I'll also have Sword to contend with.


Pray for me. :0

How was your holiday weekend, dear reader?! Don't forget to pop back in tomorrow for book club!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #102 - Summer vacation books and projects!

Hi all! Welcome to a very summery edition of:

Today we talk summer vacation, amusement park fears, summer reading and dancing, and July novenas. 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 "Feelin' Good" from

Items mentioned in this episode:

Start of performance season post!

On My Bookshelf - We have a bit of a Readers Advisory today!

  1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  2. Sam has some recommendations for us this week. If you like the Harry Potter series, you'll also enjoy the middle reader/YA books on this list!
  3. The Well, as part of our Summer Book Club, Part 2!

Prayer Corner - The feast of St. Kateri is July 14th. Her novena will begin July 5th! If you'd like to pray along with her chaplet, visit my Chaplets page for both audio and video.

Creative Commons -I started knitting a cabled hat that looks like the one Emma Watson was wearing in the film version of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The pattern is called Hermione Hearts Ron, and is free! 

What are your plans for this American holiday weekend? Are you working on any summery crafts, or starting new book series? Do write in and tell us!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 2...

Hi everyone! Time for our weekly book club chat, and it's really getting good, yes?! Pull up a chair with your tea cup.


Today we're discussing Chapters 5-8 of The Well by Stephanie Landsem. Last week was definitely a setting-the-scene type of feel, and now we're moving more into character development. Here are the most significant things I remember from this deeper foray into the book:

Shem is adjusting to life in Sychar. He's come to see the life of an olive farmer as satisfying in a way that he did not expect. He's also grown in love and respect for his grandparents. He tells them the truth about why he has come to Sychar, and how his father wanted him to be dishonest about it, as well as his plans for the future. His grandparents respect his honesty.

Shem also meets Mara at this time. She's a little in awe of the handsome stranger, and he finds her just odd at first in her skittishness. But we're clearly about to move into him finding out more about her and her warm and generous ways towards her family. I'm excited to see how a friendship blossoms between them.

Poor Mara is still busting her backside caring for the family because her mother is often too ill to get out of bed. She's trying to teach Asher to walk since he is getting so much bigger, and she cannot carry him for much longer. She also finds out some shocking information about her mother backing out of a betrothal that her own father had set up for her, bringing shame onto the family. This piece of family history explains some things to Mara about the way her mother is treated amongst the other villagers.

The one day Mara's mother is able to get out and about and do the shopping, she comes home to find the creepy Alexandros being creepy with Mara. My heart is just in my throat about where this particular storyline is headed. :-\ But her mother doesn't see him as creepy at all. She seems him as this exotic friend who comes into town to romance her. She spends the evening talking to him, and then clearly intends to have him spend the night. The awkwardness of this situation for Mara is painful to read about.

Once Asher is safely sleeping, Mara runs off for some alone time and bumps into Shem. That's where we leave off.

These chapters really grabbed me. I read them even faster than I read the first four! We're getting deeper into Mara and Shem's world, and they are both very likeable characters. I SO want Mara to end up with Shem, and thus not only find a good man as a partner, but also get her family out of the poverty they currently live in. Naturally, I envision lots of roadblocks along the way. And gosh, the way people treated each other! The differences in social class, as well as how (some) men treated women. It's startling. Mara is clearly a lovely young woman who gives of herself so readily for the betterment of her brother and mother. I want her to have a happy ending.

What did you all think?! Do write in!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"That stage is sooooooo questionable." Summer dancing adventures begin, 2017 edition...

Happy new week, everyone, and I'm super perky and glad to be back with you. I have to say though, waking up Monday morning to get ready for work, it wasn't so easy getting out of bed. Every muscle in my body ached. I had rehearsals on both Friday and Sunday, and my troupe performed on Saturday afternoon. I do love the dancing life, but there are a few more aches and pains involved than when I was younger. ;-)

We have two new choreographies, and I was feeling decidedly apprehensive about performing them for the first time as I strolled to the festival site, clad in my hot pink coverup mumu. The ridiculousness of me being worried about forgetting a hip bump or moving my arms in the wrong direction during the travel section in the new drum solo, while walking around in public looking like Mrs. Roper on her way to a particularly exciting evening, was lost on me, apparently. I found all of my mumu-wearing soulmates, and we congregated near the stage. A band was currently playing Brazilian music on it.

So the stage was...a problem. I remembered it being small from last year, and since then we've added a few more members. Not only was the stage small again this year (and by small, I mean SMALL. The three person band with their instruments barely fit on it!) but it was also topped by plywood that was gappy and uneven. There was serious lippage going on between some of the boards, and I was fearing disaster for the ankles of the clumsy among us. (ah hem. ME). Luckily, when Claire, our fearless leader, arrived, she took one look at the stage and declared that we would dance down on the street. :0 And that's what we did:

We're the super colorful specks in the distance. :0

And it went well! All hip bumps and new arms were accounted for. We wound up in different spots at the end of our new Shaabi number given that our surface area was so different from where we usually practice, and it was decidedly difficult to spin on blacktop. We also changed our directional front-facing during our set so that different people could see us, and twice I started facing the wrong way. Hey, a discreet hip circle to right oneself never hurt anyone. ;-) Oh, and the wind situation was not so good. Silk veils in wind do NOT make a good combination. Mine was wadded up between my arms at one point, and then cascaded down to cover my entire head. Lovely. But the new drum solo kicked booty! :0

We attracted a large audience and received a good reception from the crowd. I call that a successful festival. And we'll do it all again this coming Saturday!

How was YOUR weekend, dear reader? Don't forget, book club tomorrow!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #101 - End of school year, and summer dancing!

It's a very summery and rehearsal-oriented edition of:

Today I talk about the beginning of the summer festival season, and new choreography mishaps. There's also lots of book talk in this one, and a new novena is beginning! Happy feast of the Sacred Heart!

**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 "Feelin' Good" from

Items mentioned in this episode:

The amusing spring hafla  post

On My Bookshelf - We've got a litany of things this week!
  1. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  2. The Well
  3. Murder Plainly Read (Amish Quilt Shop Mystery #4)
  4. Melanie's recommendation for Henry: Will Wilder #1 - The Relic of Perilous Falls

Prayer Corner - Sacred Heart novena wrapping up. St. Maria Goretti novena starts soon over at Pray More Novenas!

Creative Commons - Anne's summer "tunic." Pattern is Merridy

What creative endeavors are you up to this late June day? How are you enjoying the Summer Book Club? Looking forward to chatting with you!