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!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Book Club! The Well, Part 1...

Well HELLO there, friends! Good to be with you on this book club Wednesday. This is the first part in an 8 part series, as we read The Well, by Stephanie Landsem. This is the first book in the Living Water Series, which take events and people from the Scriptures, and draw them out into full length fictional stories. This book in the series chronicles the journey of the woman at the well, from the Gospel of John. Today in part 1 of our book club posts, we'll be discussing chapters 1 - 4. *beams*

All right, SO, I'll be honest right from the outset and admit that this is not the book I voted for in our poll. :0 I loved the premise, loved that it was based on Scripture, and that this book had come highly recommended from my best gal pal Cristina. It absolutely deserved a spot on our voting list, but I tend to gravitate towards lighter, contemporary fiction. Thus, naturally, I voted for the cat in the library mystery book. 😂

So I started this book unsure of how my impression would turn out. I was worried that it might contain heavy material I wouldn't enjoy reading as much. That being said, I demolished the first 4 chapters lickety split, and while the setting is certainly not "light," it is quite thought-provoking, and the story is paced very well.

We have 2 main characters at the outset. Mara, our intended woman at the well, and Shem, a boy from a wealthy family who is going to be sent to Sychar, Mara's Samaritan village, due to an altercation he has with a Roman soldier in his hometown. Indeed, there are some things that happen early in the book that make a person wince. Mara's sweet little brother Asher, whom it sounds like was born with clubfoot, is seen as being punished for "sins" given his medical condition. The perception is that they are the sins of his mother, who is estranged from his father. Mara also knows that her mother is engaging in inappropriate activity with another man, and she is desperately trying to hide this information from the rest of the village, who would shun the family if they found out, and cut off their limited food supply.

Mara is bearing all of this emotional burden, plus the women of the village aren't treating her very nicely, seeing her as being less than them given her dire financial situation. Her mother, who rarely gets out of bed, is obviously suffering from a severe case of depression, but of course no one knew what to do about that back then. My heart just broke for the family.

Then we have Shem, who is injured by a Roman soldier while trying to protect a woman from the soldier's unwanted advances. Another wince worthy moment. Women are not treated or seen very highly in this society, and it is difficult to read about. Shem is sent away by his father, to protect him from a death sentence by the Roman soldiers, though his father isn't exactly sympathetic about the whole situation. But the scene with Shem's escape from his village over to Sychar was quite compelling.

These first 4 chapters certainly grabbed me. I read them all in a single sitting. I found the story intriguing, and the characters very relatable. I'm curious to see where the story is headed once Shem reaches Sychar, and I'm assuming, meets Mara.

What did you all think of chapters 1 - 4? Next week we'll move on to chapters 5 - 8!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"This year, I'm finally going to be realistic." Christmas in June! 2017 edition...

*unladylike snort*

I write one of these posts every year. If you select the "Christmas in July" tag that is at the bottom of this post, you'll see what I mean. ;-) Granted, I know it isn't July yet, but late June still counts for these purposes. This is what happens, every single year, without fail:

The weather gets warmer. Our non-centrally air conditioned house gets uncomfortably hot during the day. The evenings, especially when I cook, get hot and sweaty. I get irritable about being hot and sweaty. The kids fight more because they're hot and sweaty. And I inevitably take a long look at my yarn stash and realize that Christmas Fever has hit, and that I need to make a list of gifts I'd like to make for the holidays. Oh, and that I need to procure yet MORE yarn in order to make this happen.

What can I say? I'm weird.

There's something about this point in early summer that inspires my creative spirit in this way. It doesn't help that Knit Picks always has a summer yarn sale, either.

So I make a list. If you looked back through some of those posts I mentioned at the outset, you'd know that I tend to go overboard when I make aforementioned list. I mean...things can really get out of hand.

I know what you're thinking. "Tiffany. You're talking about your CHRISTMAS CRAFTING LIST, of gifts you'd like to make your friends and family to celebrate the birth of Our Savior. These are things that you will KNIT and CROCHET. Don't really old ladies crochet? You know, those toilet bowl cozies and granny square afghans that were all the rage in 1972? If they can do this, surely, this whole process can't be very stressful." That's what you would THINK. But the problem is that I get a tad...over ambitious. I make a list. A reasonable list. OK, a *slightly* more than reasonable list. Then I add to it. And add to it. And tweak it. Before you know it, I have hats and mittens out the wazoo, and I'm in tears on December 22nd, trying to turn the heel of a sock, knitting resentment into every single stitch. Resentment that I haven't worked on anything without feeling pressured (or for myself) since May, and that all of the joy and fun has been positively SUCKED out of the experience of crafting for me. And it's totally my own fault, but there you have it.

So, for what it's worth, here is the 2017 list. I like to hold myself accountable by checking back on the list in the fall so see how much I've gotten done. 😇

Shawl for my friend Irena - She requested this as a gift idea well over a year ago (oopsies!) and it's just gotten neglected on the list. It WILL be done for Christmas 2017. I've even started it *halo* and here is how much I have done:

soooooo, YEAH. Just a wee bit more work to do on this one.

Hat and mittens for Anne - She has outgrown her old ones and asked if I would make her a new set. How can I turn that down? I'm thinking an owl hat, and coordinating striped mittens in a soft merino wool.

Mittens, and new kitchen cloths and towels for my Mother-in-law. - She faithfully uses these items that I have made her before, and her current ones are getting worn out. She's very knit worthy, and so I press on with the kitchen cotton and yet more mittens.

The infamous Mike sweater that has been crossed off on Christmas lists for YEARS AND YEARS - So yeah, I should finally make this for him. ;-) He does have a cardigan I made him, but this is a cabled pullover that would be a real heirloom piece. It may take 2 years to make, so I'm promising nothing. :0

And that's it. Henry got Christmas socks last year, and I didn't make anything for Anne last year, so they're swapping turns. I also want to make some new accessories and a sweater for myself this year (more to come during Tea Time on all of that) so I want to save room. Thing is, if someone asks me to make something for them, I always do it. So you've been warned. If you ask me to make anything for you, you will have to live with the panicky knitting posts come October. :0

Do you plan a Christmas crafting list in the summer, or am I the only strange one? Bueller?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #100 - A milestone!

It's our first big milestone episode of:

Today we wax nostalgic a bit, I cry about Anne finishing Kindergarten, and we try out our new segments for the first time!

**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 - The Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter book 2), Murder Served Simply: An Amish Quilt Shop Mystery (book 3).
The Prayer Corner - Sacred Heart Novena  
Creative Commons - Kakurenbo Socks

So what's going on with you? Books, prayers, crafts? Prepping for the Summer Book Club? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June novena nerds, report in!

My latest piece over at Catholic Mom is up, and it got me to thinking!

Novenas. I like to pray one per month, and I was slacking on June. ;-) It's always a humbling experience when you see Lisa Hendey tweet something out about a new article over at Catholic Mom, you admire the embedded featured photo, then think to yourself: "That sounds like something I would like to read." And only then do you remember that YOU wrote the article.

Middle age, peeps. It's the pits. 😄

So that's what happened again this month, and along with my hyper organized, early submission of aforementioned article, I also forgot to set things up to pray the Sacred Heart novena along with my group of friends like we had been planning.


We're back on track now. And the novena starts TODAY! Pray More Novenas is hosting this novena, so you can sign up to receive the daily emails with all of the prayers included, happily. I also tweet a link out to the prayers each day, so if you follow me on Twitter you can follow along that way as well. I put the Twitter widget back on the right sidebar of the non-mobile site for the blog, so you can link to it right on there if you'd like. I remember someone asking me about that widget a while back after I removed it (Cindy?) and I've been toying with putting it back, so now here it is, back. :0 I know not everyone uses Twitter, so this way you can still see what I'm up to on there even if you don't have a Twitter account.

The feast of the Sacred Heart is next Friday, June 23rd. I talk all about it over at Catholic Mom, if you'd like to go take a peek. We love comments over there!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Adventures in vegetation: A foray into a summer CSA...

So, I've been thinking about food a lot lately. ;-) I've been enjoying the foray I mentioned last week of moving into menu planning, and trying to get my kids to expand their palate into actual healthy food. A few years ago, my sister gifted me this book that first got me thinking about this issue:

I really enjoyed it. I love memoir/slice of life stories such as these. And back then, I started trying to incorporate more whole, unprocessed foods into our routine and refrigerator. I would definitely say that it had a lasting impact, albeit a small one. A large impact necessitates more action on the part of the main dinner supplier (me), and I was still a bit too chicken to puree up some Brussels sprouts and tell my kids that they had to try it. I was content that they started to occasionally try different foods and grow to like a few of them. We had actual nibbles of guacamole, and consumption of corn on the cob. Baby steps, right?

True, but at this glacial pace the kids would barely have moved on to an actual bean before college. I thought of the book again recently, and re-downloaded it from my Kindle Cloud to read again. It re-motivated me. Then Shauna'h introduced me to Prep Dish, and then I found out about this new CSA that would deliver right to my office.

CSA's have always fascinated me. For the longest time, people around here would mention them, and I would wonder what that vegetable share acronym stood for (Community Supported Agriculture). I just knew it sounded like a really wonderful concept. Seasonal, weekly fruit and vegetables, all locally grown and harvested. If only my family would eat vegetables.


I like most vegetables. Mike definitely likes them less than I do, but he always eats them. The kids? Well, they consider it torture to eat vegetables. They're pretty good about fruit, though Henry still requires a bit of prodding. Unless it's watermelon. Watermelon is the guy EVERYBODY wants to hang out with at the party.

I figured it just wouldn't be worth the money for me to sign up for one. There are lots of CSA's where I live in WNY. Tons of farms around here. And the ones I'd been familiar with required you to sign up and pay for the entire season up front. This new one I found out about is week-by-week, with no minimum number of weeks that you must claim. You pay a small registration fee ($15), and then from week to week decide whether or not to claim the produce. You find out on Fridays what will be in the boxes for the following week. If you don't want it, or will be out of town or what have you, you just put a hold on your delivery, and you don't pay for it. I decided to take a chance and sign up. I chose the smallest share, which is $16 per week if you choose to get that box.

Last week we got an English cucumber, 2 Hothouse tomatoes, a bunch of radishes, romaine lettuce, kale (yes, yes, I know, more to come on this ;-)), and a pint of strawberries. This week we're getting more strawberries and cucumbers, but also Boston Bibb lettuce, spinach, sweet potatoes, and a pint of yellow onions. Because Prep Dish always uses seasonal ingredients, there is inevitably overlap with what I'm getting in the CSA. Next week, the sweet potatoes, onions and spinach are going right into recipes from Prep Dish. The strawberries are always gone within a single day, regardless. Everybody in the house loves freshly picked strawberries. Mike and I both use lettuce constantly for salads at lunch. So it's been working out really well.

It's still early days, but so far so good. The kids are skeptical, there is no doubt about that. But let the record reflect that Anne ate baked Kale Chips yesterday and declared them good. I'm go claim my Mother of the Month medal right over here. ;-)

It doesn't always go so well. There was the Great Pineapple Salsa Incident of 2017. It had cilantro in it. Cilantro is green. Hence, it is met with utmost suspicion and disdain. The result of this little mutiny at the dinner table had unfortunate results for the entire family. But we made it through. Henry, in particular, looks particularly pained when he looks at the magnetic menu board I have stuck up on the refrigerator. His eating habits are much more ingrained than Anne's. But we're getting there, we are. He loved the lemon blueberry muffins that I made yesterday for breakfast.

I've been enjoying the heck out of finding out what my CSA box will have in it each week, and exploring the new recipes from Prep Dish. Summer isn't my favorite season, as you well know. I don't like hot weather. But I do love that it's dance performance season. And I am truly loving this foray into belonging to a CSA and really savoring seasonal food. I'm hoping this inspiration lasts through the fall harvest and beyond!

Any other CSA members out there? I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #99 - A few actual details on current writing and podcasting projects...

We're back with video and a fresh new format for the 99th edition of:

Today I talk about my plans for the 100th episode, how Tea Time will be structured going forward, and FINALLY, details on my book project. 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

Our freshened format will consist of weekly to monthly segments of:

  • What's Happening?!
  • On My BookShelf
  • The Prayer Corner
  • The Creative Commons
  • Saint of the Month 
Also, our timeline for The Well/Summer Book Club is now included in the Catholic Book Club tab at the top of the blog!
I'm very excited! I really think this captures the spirit of the show all along, and just gives it a fresh shot in the arm. What are your creative endeavors for this summer? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Feeling inspired with meal planning...

If your experience is anything like mine, your children have developed some eating habits that are, let's delicately say, less than ideal. Before I had my first baby, I didn't really think about this issue at all. I figured I would breastfeed for a year, and then my child would eat nothing but homemade applesauce and exotic gourmet meals that I would suddenly find time to make.

*hope springs eternal* 😇


The breastfeeding part worked out, but the rest went into the Giant Fanciful Idea Receptacle In The Sky. My toddlers ate exactly what I swore would never happen: vast amounts of Goldfish crackers, those weird little puff things, an obscene amount of macaroni and cheese, and a proclaimed love for pepperoni pizza. The most "exotic" thing they ate was french fries. Now, my kids are 6 and 11. While they no longer eat puffs, they are still quite reluctant to try new foods. They do like fresh fruit, but the "v word" makes their faces pinch up like someone has very indelicately relieved a gas situation.

I've tried for many years now to get them to be more adventurous in their eating. It's a slow process, to be sure. But Anne now likes shrimp and Henry has tried Roast Beef on Weck (it's a Buffalo thing).


We're getting there. But the only way they try new things is if they have no choice via what I make for dinner. And making something healthy and exotic for dinner means that I have to plan it. I need to make the menu over the weekend, procure all necessary groceries, and have things ready to go for the week. This does happen, but not always. It can be exhausting. :0

While I was visiting my sister over Memorial Day weekend, she introduced me to Prep Dish.

This is a subscription website whereby you get a menu for the week of 4 dinners, a salad, a breakfast, a snack and a dessert. The other days, of course, you can have leftovers and other stand by's, go out to eat, etc. You get a big grocery list for the week, broken down into categories (Dairy, Fruit, etc). Then, you have a "prep day" in which you are guided through preparing each of these meals, and storing the prepared ingredients away into your refrigerator. As you move through the week, you pull out the necessary prepped items, and have only a few steps to complete the meal. This is very handy during the work and school week, as you can imagine. The food is based on either a gluten free approach or Paleo. We as a family do not need to use either of these restrictions, so I simply use the gluten free menu and just include an ingredient we would normally use rather than it's recommended gluten free counterpart. The meals are mainly based upon a whole food and fresh ingredient approach, which is of course universal. And it's delicious, truly.

This isn't an affiliate post, I'm gettin' nothin' for writing this. :0 I just signed up for the free trial, and I have to say that I love it. The grocery list is THE BOMB. The categorization made it infinitely easier to find things at the grocery store. It's fun trying new things, and the food tastes wonderful. Monday we had a citrus marinated chicken with pineapple salsa, and tonight we're having a ginger/soy sauce stir fry with beef and bell peppers. Friday is an egg fritatta with mushrooms and kalamata olives. I brought in the snack with me to work today, which is a yogurt dill sauce for dipping fresh carrots and zucchini.

I'm enjoying having someone else do the planning for me. Has anyone else tried a menu planning subscription like this? I'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Official Summer Book Club timeline!

Good afternoon friends! I'm happy to be with you today, as, if I'm being totally honest, it's been a rough couple of days. Both kids had allergic reactions or some kind of a virus over the weekend ("strip down, I need to inspect your red spots again!!"). So a lot of time was spent on aforementioned rash inspection, calls to the pediatrician, and administration of TLC. Everybody is fine now, but it was a stressful go. I don't have a ton of brain power to write a witty post, but I thought I'd be up to planning out our Summer Book Club. So let's have at it!

The consensus was weekly posts/discussions, biting off about approximately 4 chapters at a time. I still want to give time for people to procure the book and start reading, so how about we start the week of June 18th. That's the feast of Corpus Christi, which feels like a good omen. ;-) I'll aim for the book club posts to be on Wednesdays again, so that would mean our first discussion would take place June 21st. Sound good?

Our timeline would look like this:

June 21st - Chapters 1-4
June 28th - Chapters 5-8
July 5th - Chapters 9-12
July 12th - Chapters 13-16
July 19th - Chapters 17-20
July 26th - Chapters 21-24
August 2nd - Chapters 25-29
August 9th - Chapters 30-33 plus Epilogue

What do you think? The penultimate week has 5 chapters because there isn't an even number, and the last week has the addition of the Epilogue, but the others are all 4 chapters. I think this is doable!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #98 - A Franciscan faith journey...

It's a Tea Time special edition this week, with my beloved sister in tow!

No video this week, but an audio-only show in which my sister and I talk about faith journeys, Franciscan spirituality, and Third Orders (a way for lay people to affiliate with a religious order). Please join us!

If you'd like to download this episode, you can subscribe via the directions below, or you can click on that little pillar icon on the right side of the streaming audio bar to download just this episode from the Internet Archive.

**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 was your Memorial weekend, dear listener? Have you ever contemplated a Third Order, or in some way felt a special bond with a specific religious order and their charism? We'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Summer Book Club update!

Happy Thursday all! Our book club poll is closed, and our big winner is The Well, by Stephanie Landsem!

As a reminder, this is scripture-based historical fiction, and our description is thus:

In the rich tradition of Francine Rivers’s Lineage of Grace series, comes a beautiful retelling of the biblical story of the woman at the well—bringing to life this poignant young woman struggling to survive love and heartbreak.

Could he be the One we’ve been waiting for?

For the women of the Samaritan village of Sychar, the well is a place of blessing—the place where they gather to draw their water and share their lives—but not for Mara. Shunned for the many sins of her mother, Nava, Mara struggles against the constant threats of starvation or exile.

Mara and Nava’s lives are forever changed with the arrival of two men: Shem, a mysterious young man from Caesarea, and Jesus, a Jewish teacher. Nava is transformed by Jesus, but his teachings come too late and she is stoned by the unforgiving villagers. Desperate to save her dying mother, Mara and Shem embark on a journey to seek Jesus’ help—a journey that brings unexpected love and unimaginable heartbreak.

This is actually the first book in a series. The Thief (about the Roman centurion, Longinus) and The Tomb (about Martha) also chronicle the lives of figures in Scripture. I'm so fascinated by this concept! And I have heard excellent things about this series.

All right, let's talk timing and spacing. I'm open to starting anytime beginning in mid-June to July 1st. I just downloaded it (the book is $9.99 right now for Kindle, slightly more for a new paperback copy, but keep your eyes peeled, because it has gone on sale recently!), and this book is about 285 pages long, with 33 chapters plus an epilogue. That's a lot of chapters, but they are only 10-15 pages each, and this is fiction pages, not heavy non-fiction/spiritual reading. So, we have a few choices:

If we do a weekly discussion, I'd say we should bite off 4 chapters at a time. I don't want the book club to take longer than 2ish months/8 weeks. Or, we could do a monthly post starting in June and read the book in thirds. That translates to 11 chapters per month. Thoughts?! Leave me lots of comments, please. *beams*

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hanging out in Maine with family, friends and lots of bugs :0

Hello all! Very nice to be back with you on this last day of May. We're fresh from a family road trip to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and nephews out in Vacationland. And apparently, many people do indeed vacation in Maine, especially on Memorial Day weekend. :0 Let's chat highlights, and also what is coming up here in terms of the blog and the Tea Time podcast!

I love New England, particularly Maine given that my sister is located there, and I was looking forward to lots of fresh air and inspiration, which I received in droves. We embarked on Friday, with apparently the rest of the UNIVERSE who were also driving to Maine Friday afternoon. Things were fine all the way across farm country in New York State. Then we got to Massachusetts, and while I spent the first interlude on the Mass. Turnpike squealing over the little pilgrim hats that adorned the exit signs, we were soon embroiled in The Traffic That Would Not End. With antsy children in our backseat, we inched along through Massachusetts and New Hampshire. All of these people were going to Maine? Apparently they were, and they all exited at Kennebunkport. Who knew?! Meanwhile, our 8 hour trip was going into hour 11:

Henry: "I can't believe we've been in the car this long. I think I'm actually GETTING USED TO IT." *despondent*

But we made it, if a bit whiny. Over the weekend, we hiked, gazed at the ocean, camped, and procured vast amounts of seafood. The kids, in particular, enjoyed the camping part. I did too, especially because camping in this instance involved a cabin with a deck wherein we drank beer and played card games, but I have to admit that I was unprepared for The Bugs. We're city (albeit small city) dwellers. We normally do not have to, quite literally, coat every millimeter of available skin, including our faces, with the most toxic bug spray on the market, but there you have it. It was intense. And over time, the bugs clearly gathered and conferenced, because their efforts only intensified, despite the absolute force field of bug repellent that we were putting forth. It was so, so lovely to see the kids playing outside and with their cousins, though, rather than playing video games. The bug defense was worth it!

While I was there, Shauna'h and I also recorded a special edition of Tea Time. It's only audio (no video this week), and it's longer than usual (about 30 minutes), but I am SO STOKED for you all to hear it! In it, Shauna'h and I talk about faith journeys, and she shares with us her experience in formation with the Third Order Franciscans. I was very inspired by her words, and I hope that you will be too! That will be out on Friday. *beams*

Everyone was super sad to head home yesterday, especially the kids. They had a great time hanging with their cousins. I am hoping that we can go back next summer! Henry has announced that he would like to move to Maine, so we'll see how that works out. ;-)

OK, so tomorrow, let's talk books. And Tea Time on Friday! Episode 98, and I have fun stuff coming for episode 100!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #97 - New things are brewing!

Fresh winds of gentle change are breezing through out office studio on this week's edition of:

Today I talk about the upcoming 100th episode of Tea Time, and some plans for the future of the show and the blog. We also spend a little time discussing summer projects at work, and Ascension Thursday. 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:

My fun weekend dance post
Vote in the Summer Book Club poll!

Happy Memorial Day weekend! I won't be back on the blog until Wednesday, but I promise to talk to you all then! What do you have planned for the holiday weekend?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Summer book club poll is still open!

I've been nerdily monitoring our Summer Book Club poll on the right side of the blog, and so far our leading contender is the historical/scriptural based fiction title, The Well  Coming in a close second is our frivolously fun librarian fiction title, Arsenic and Old Books, A Cat in the Stacks Mystery. So much snorting, I love it.

I have the poll set to close next Tuesday night, I believe. So if you haven't officially voted yet, have at it!

Quick note that the paperback edition of The Well is on major sale right now for $2.35. Maybe we should scoop it?! I already have some dance DVD's and music in my cart. An extra $2.35 won't hurt anybody, right? ;-) Oh waiiitttttt... That's a marketplace copy, so $3.99 shipping applies, making it not quite as much of a bargain basement deal as I thought. The Prime shipping copy is $9. So about the same as it was before. Carry on. :0

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Rapid fire belly dancing on a Saturday afternoon...

Hello all, and happy new week to you! I'm perky coming off of a dance and birthday weekend extravaganza (Anne's birthday, that is), and excited to be chatting with you today! Do you have your tea? Let me go fetch mine...

OK good! Here we are. I had a FUN weekend. Sometimes I feel guilty that I get to share my life with such wonderful people. Family, friends, people that I know via my hobbies of dance, writing and my faith (that's not a hobby, but you know what I mean). I feel very, VERY blessed. One of those blessings is my dance community. Everyone is accepted for who they are in this group, and I have always felt so comfortable there. Every person has a story, and indeed, everyone has a *dance* story as to how and why they were drawn to this specific form of cultural dance. I brought my own story in with theirs, and it always seems like a happy melody to me when we are together.

Friday we packed up 2 belly mobiles ;-) and transported 10 dancers west to a small town in Ohio, home to the lovely and talented Sherena. We were scheduled for a group master class with her on Saturday afternoon, and allocated Friday to fun and frivolity. We checked into our hotel and got dressed up to have dinner at a local Middle Eastern restaurant and watch the dancer who was performing there that night. The dancer is one of Sherena's proteges, who was *excellent*. This is a town with a strong Middle Eastern dance heritage: Sherena is a second generation belly dancer, following in the footsteps of her mom. This restaurant has had a belly dancer perform every Friday night for 20 years! It is all so lovely.

Afterward, we talked and sipped champagne for hours, before finally settling in to rest up for our big class. And our class was AMAZING. Sherena has energy and enthusiasm abounding, and at 6 months pregnant no less! She also has an incredible knowledge of the dance and how culture informs the dance. It was a joy to learn from her, and we're hoping to take another class from her again in the fall. In just 2 hours, we learned an entire drum solo choreography from her, which all passed in a great big blur :0, but we have a happy video of the experience. Plus, I took away a ton of little nuances on traditional movements and arms that I had never seen before. I absolutely love when that happens.

We drove back Saturday evening, our ride filled with three and a half hours of nonstop dance talk. Then I got home to my babies in time to tuck them both into bed. After that, Mike humored me by listening to at least 30 full minutes of my detailed descriptions of what I learned, and how I can't wait to download some of the Golden Era of Belly Dance music that we discussed. He wasn't *quite* as into it as my belly girls, but he did pretty well. ;-)

Sunday, we hosted a family birthday party for our Anne, who milked her birthday for all it was worth. She got decked out in a fancy dress and asked for her hair to be braided. At Children's Liturgy of the Word, she told her catechist that it was her birthday, and the group apparently sang happy birthday to her. She was especially gleeful about being gifted the opportunity to blow out the little altar candle. :0 Upon arriving home, she wore her school birthday crown for the entire day, and was glowing for the duration of her party. A great time was had by all.

How was YOUR weekend, dear reader? Do write in! I think I'm finally getting over my cold, so I should be able to record Tea Time this week.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #...sorry. No voice = no podcast this week!

Indeed. I have seasonal allergies/cold/sinus infection/have no idea/just something nefarious, and my voice is a bit of a disaster. We have:

(a) incessant need to throat clear.
(b) general up and down/crackly situation ongoing.
(c) hacking cough whenever need to speak for any length of time .

None of the above lend themselves to pleasant podcasting for either you or me, I'm afraid. So instead of our usual audio and video time together, this week we'll be sipping a hot beverage over a regular old post.

So, what's going on with me? Well, today, May 18th, is a big day. It's my baby's birthday.


Her birthday is hard for me every year, because she is most likely going to stay my youngest child. Never say never, I suppose, but I'm not thinking that a different course is in God's plan for us. And my memories of the day she was born are so wonderful, it's a little bittersweet and emotional for me each year. She's 6 this year, and just as sassy as ever:

She's a very sweet, good-hearted little girl. Did I mention sassy, though? ;-)

We all went out to dinner with her last night at a restaurant of her choice, and are hosting a family party on Sunday afternoon. She's all aglow about having her name on the announcements at school today, and getting to wear "the birthday crown." :0

So that's big news. Tomorrow is my overnight road trip/workshop with my dance troupe, and I'm super excited about that. Belly Adventure, here we come! :-) I'm certain there will be amusing anecdotes from THIS little escapade. 10 belly dancers. Hours of dancing. Loads of snacks and wine. What could go wrong?

I've also been doing a little brainstorming about ways to spruce up Tea Time following our upcoming 100th episode, and I think I'm onto something. It's nothing radical, your feedback was mostly to keep it as it is, but a few touches to make it more polished. We'll be trying that out together soon!

How is your week going, dear reader? Thank for for voting in the summer book club poll, and keep that feedback coming! I'll talk to you all next week!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A prayer for focus...

A little peek inside of the mind of your Catholic Librarian:

Dear Lord,

Hey, how's it going?! I know it's been a few days since I've been in touch in this way. I've been trying to be better about praying the rosary in the mornings, but. Wait...

*5 minutes elapse*

Sorry, back! I just remembered that the whole reason I sat down here was to take care of that email to Franciscan Media, and I wanted to do that before I forgot. Soooo, where were we?

Right! OK, so I need to work on this summer writing project. I need your guidance on this so much, Lord. I pray that the Holy Spirit...

*chime chime!*

"Tiffany speaking!"

*conversation ensues*

*5 minutes elapse*

*Tiffany hangs up phone*

*checks other notifications*

"Wait. What was I supposed to be doing?!"

 So sorry about that! I'm so easily distracted. And to be honest, Lord, THAT'S THE PROBLEM. I only have 2 months to get this project done, and let's just say that I have a llllooooooonnnnnngg...

"Hold on. Where's that notebook that I was working with last to keep tabs on where I left off?"

*searches piles on desk*

"Found it!"

OK, so Lord, you see the problem here? I need so much help in getting this project finished before the fall semester starts. Focus is a real problem for me, Lord. I need Your loving hand to guide me through this process, and for the Holy Spirit to inspire me with the words to write. Each morning, turn my eyes only to You, Lord, as I want only to do Your Will and glorify You through this work.  I ask this in...

"Crud! I forgot my lunch!"

Jesus' Precious Name. *sheepish*



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The book club poll is open!

Well, look at that, I remembered! We'll ignore the fact that it was a bit of a close one - I remembered as I gulped down my lunch at my desk and was mentally berating myself for not yet thinking of a blog topic for the day. But hey - we'll take it!

There is now a poll along the right side margin of the blog. If you'd like to read along for a summer book club, please do go and vote! The poll is open for about 2 weeks. Unfortunately, Blogger does not have the functionality added into the poll widget to add links (boooooo!), but I have all titles, series and authors listed there for easy copy/pasting into Amazon. And I'm going to briefly talk about each here with the links as well. Let's chat!

I kept 2 of the books we talked about previously during Tea Time, and I tweaked 2 of the others.

First up we have The Well, which is historical, scripture based fiction:

In the rich tradition of Francine Rivers’s Lineage of Grace series, comes a beautiful retelling of the biblical story of the woman at the well—bringing to life this poignant young woman struggling to survive love and heartbreak.

Could he be the One we’ve been waiting for?

For the women of the Samaritan village of Sychar, the well is a place of blessing—the place where they gather to draw their water and share their lives—but not for Mara. Shunned for the many sins of her mother, Nava, Mara struggles against the constant threats of starvation or exile.

Mara and Nava’s lives are forever changed with the arrival of two men: Shem, a mysterious young man from Caesarea, and Jesus, a Jewish teacher. Nava is transformed by Jesus, but his teachings come too late and she is stoned by the unforgiving villagers. Desperate to save her dying mother, Mara and Shem embark on a journey to seek Jesus’ help—a journey that brings unexpected love and unimaginable heartbreak.
We talked about that one during Tea Time. The other historical fiction option is The Secret Healer:

In the fourteenth century, opportunities for women are limited to the home. But spirited young Madlen finds her calling as assistant to the city’s trusted midwife, Clara. Working alongside Clara, Madlen develops a surprisingly soothing technique and quickly becomes a talented healer.
After Clara’s tragic death, Madlen alone rushes to assist the birth of a local nobleman’s child. But rather than the joy of birth, Madlen walks into an accusation of murder and witchcraft because of her extraordinary gifts. Forced to flee her own town, she establishes a new identity in the home of her aunt. Yet even though it endangers her life, she cannot resist the urge to help the sick patients who seek out her miraculous treatment. When she meets handsome Johannes—an investigator hired by the Church to bring her to justice for sacrilegious acts—she becomes drawn to the very man who could destroy her.
Will Madlen’s gifts bring about her downfall? Or can love and reason prevail in a time of fearful superstition?
I'm not certain whether the treatment of the Church in this one would be positive or negative, so that's a consideration in voting, for sure. It certainly is an intriguing premise, though.

For contemporary fiction, instead of How Firm a Foundation (which is a long book at over 500 pages), I decided to add in Pillar and Bulwark, which is book 2 in that series. A little unorthodox, I am, but book 1 would be a re-read for me, and I have to be honest and admit that the length made it a daunting summer read choice for me. Book 2 is somewhat shorter (still 400 pages, but a little shorter!), and the premise really grabs me:

After nearly losing his life to an assassin, Stephen LaPointe resigned from his pastorate as a Congregational minister. He made this radical decision as the result of a crisis of truth. This decision had many immediate ramifications for his vocation, his career, and most significantly for his marriage and family. Now a year later, no one knows where he is. He has disappeared. Out of love, as well as remorse, several people an old friend, his estranged wife, and a potential enemy set out separately to find him. This is a story of conversion of heart, of mind, and of love.
The story really sounds like it will stand alone, to me. So I do not think anyone would feel lost not having read book 1, and honestly, it's been so long since I read it, that it's like I'm reading this one as a stand alone.

Finally, instead of an Amish book, I thought a cozy fiction option would be nice. And so we have an installment in the Cat in the Stacks series, Arsenic and Old Books:

Lucinda Beckwith Long, the mayor of Athena, Mississippi, has donated a set of Civil War-era diaries to the archives of Athena College. She would like librarian Charlie Harris to preserve and substantiate them as a part of the Long family legacy—something that could benefit her son, Beck, as he prepares to campaign for the state senate.

Beck’s biggest rival would like to get a look at the diaries in an attempt to expose the Long family’s past sins. Meanwhile, a history professor is also determined to get her hands on the books in a last-ditch bid for tenure. But their interest suddenly turns deadly, leaving Charlie with a catalog of questions to answer. Together with his Maine Coon cat Diesel, Charlie must discover why the diaries were worth killing for before he too reaches his final chapter.
This title is book 6 in that series, but cozy fiction titles always can stand alone, so I think it would be fine for us to jump in at this point. I've read book 1, and this particular installment really grabbed me with the premise.

And so we have 4 contenders. Two have female protagonists, and two have males; 3 are either inspirational or religious-based fiction, and 1 is secular, so a nice mix. All of these books are available both in print, and as ebooks, so you'd have your choice, and can see if your public library has them in either form. What do you all think?! Go ahead and vote!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #96 - Exciting meetup edition!

It's a big meetup edition of:

Yesterday, I journeyed north to Toronto to meetup with my good friend Sam, who I've known for over a year, but never met in person!

**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 met someone in real life that you had only known previously online? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

It's an errandy kind of day, as I tornado about prior to a big meetup...

I'm off from work both today and tomorrow, which is a pleasant change from the main part of the semester. Today, Anne's kindergarten class is hosting the school Mass, and it's at 12:30, so it seemed pointless to go to work just for a few hours. I also had a list of things to do prior to my BIG MEETUP WITH SAMANTHA TOMORROW! :0 This includes testing out a borrowed GPS unit, since I'm driving about 1.5-2 hours to get to our meetup location. (is "meetup" even a single word? Well, it is now!! ;-)) I have a very old car that barely has a CD player let along a built-in GPS unit, and let's just say that your Catholic Librarian is a bit lacking in the navigational skills arena. If Mike gets turned around while driving, he whips out a bit street map, zeros in on our location, and plots a logical route from there. I...panic. Then say a swear word. Then I start to sweat. Then I glare at passing cars, like it is their fault that I have gotten myself lost. Then I sit and stew for a little bit before making an educated guess as to which way to turn. I figured this wasn't the best course of action for a trip like this one, which involves crossing an international border.

So I borrowed a portable GPS unit from my in-laws. It's more than several years old, so I'm nervous about it, but it seems to be working all right. I keep looking at it anxiously. I can feel myself slowly morphing into my mother as I type, being suspicious of the GPS unit and "not really trusting this thing." We'll see how this goes tomorrow. 😬

In the meantime, I'm flitting about the house getting other things done. Kevin left a comment on yesterday's Bible journaling post about the Summer Book Club, and that reminded me that I need to get that book poll together! I think that I'm going to add a few titles, and tweak a few based upon feedback from my Tea Time on this topic. I'm going to work on that this week, and aim to have the post up next Tuesday or Wednesday! I'm excited. Now that things have slowed down for me a bit, I've been reading more, and I have to say that I am LOVING it. I'm certain there will be lots of book posts this summer, even outside of our organized book club!

All right. I have to go make Mike miserable by tornadoing through his office to straighten it up. :0 I'm hosting an event on Saturday (a Lularoe pop up for those of you who also enjoy such frivolities) and this means that I transform into Frenzied Tiffany, overpowering microscopic bits of dust wherever I go. ;-) I will be recording Tea Time on Friday, and it'll be a Samantha Meetup Edition! If you still have book club suggestions, you can still leave those in the comments!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Scripture reading plans and Bible journaling...

Greetings all on a new week! I have lots going on this week, including a big MEET UP WITH SAMANTHA!!


More on that to come later this week. But I'm terribly excited!

Going into this week, for whatever reason, I've had Bible study and reading plans on my mind. I'd like to read some Scripture each day, even if it's only a small snippet. So, I was on Amazon this morning, surfing for Scripture reading plans. I came across a number of interesting titles (like How to Read Your Way to Heaven) and had in mind to find a plan I could use with my existing Bible (the beautiful Catholic Women's Devotional Bible, a gift from my Cristina *beams*). I'm definitely intrigued by How to Read Your Way to Heaven, which includes not only a Bible reading plan, but also the Catechism as well as other important spiritual works, but right now I really need something SMALL. :-) Just a way to organize myself each day to read a little Scripture. As I was searching I realized that my Bible *does* include a reading plan in the back, I'd just have to flip back and forth to find the necessary verses each day. Plus, happening upon Daily Mass Readings books on Amazon reminded me that I also have a subscription to Magnificat magazine. So I do already have a few tools at my disposal. This caused my little mind to be all awhirl.

As I was searching, I discovered something else terribly interesting. Remember that journaling post from a few weeks back? That got the most hits of any post in April, and a lot of interaction in the comments. Journaling definitely seemed to touch a chord with all of you, even if we collectively aren't all that great with being consistent with it. ;-) Suddenly, I came upon this:

A Catholic Journaling Bible (for Psalms and New Testament, and there is also one for the Old Testament). Cindy!!! I immediately thought of you! :0 Cindy had mentioned in the comments of the journaling post that she loved the idea of a journaling Bible, wherein you could write your own notes in the margin, but that she hadn't yet come across a Catholic one. These are brand new, came out in 2017. They include pages for painting or coloring, and a wide margin with thick paper for drawing or writing on each page. It's only *11.69* at Amazon right now for the New Testament volume! The Old Testament is more expensive at $29.99, but that makes sense in terms of length. What do you think, are you all intrigued?! I'm tempted to order the New Testament volume! My only qualm is with the font layout and size. Go read the comments over at Amazon and you'll see what I mean. There are no paragraph breaks aside from chapters, and the text size is somewhat small. So it's just low rows of continual text. That might be hard on these already compromised eyes, I'm not sure. But I LOVE the concept of this and wanted to show you all! What do you think of this idea?

Also, do you have a Bible reading plan? Which Bible do you use? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #95 - Summer blog planning!

It's a restless, trying-to-get-organized edition this week of:

Today I dwell on where I've come with Tea Time, as well as Life of a Catholic Librarian generally, and evaluate where we should go from here. Have ideas? 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:
Where should we go together this summer? Do you have any ideas for the Tea Time podcast and how I could freshen it as we move forward towards our 100 episode milestone? Let's chat in the comments!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Singlehandedly raising the average patron age at Piercing Pagoda by at least 25 years, we have...

...your Catholic Librarian, at your service.

Sooooooo, I'm not exactly what you would call an adventurous person. ;-) But every once in a while, I like to mix it up and pretend that I wouldn't spend the rest of my life holed away in a hermitage wearing sackcloth and ashes (so long as I had WIFI and could still communicate with everyone via social media) if I could. Occasionally, I get bold. Or, at least my version of Introvert Bold. And so, over the weekend, it occurred to me that I'd like to get my ears pierced.

Granted, my ears are ALREADY pierced. I had a main lobe piercing done when I was about 8 years old, the way everybody did back in the 80's: at the mall, sitting in a chair in the window at our closest Claire's boutique store, with 2 teenage girls pointing piercing guns at my ears. Yes, that's the way they did it back then, both ears at the same time! I guess it helped with little girls deciding they didn't really want the second ear pierced after getting a load of the first one. :0

And it wasn't that bad. I remember a few tears, but on the whole I braved it pretty well, and I loved having pierced ears. The piercing held up well, too. Before I was a performer, I'd go months without wearing earrings, and my holes have never closed. I never really thought much about it until this weekend. My best friend Cristina got her nose pierced, and it looks BEAUTIFUL, and I'm all: "maybe I should get a solidarity piercing?!" Because that's what friends do. ;-)

The idea gained steam as the weekend wore on, and like the true librarian that I am, I buried my nose in a little research. It seems that many people, when they get, you know, OLDER, tend to skirt away from the Claire's piercing gun and instead go to a tattoo and piercing shop, where there are experienced piercers on staff. Indeed, a tattoo place did sound infinitely more appealing to me than navigating the prom and Sweet 16 displays at Claire's, until I read that at a tattoo shop they use a needle to pierce your body part. Excuse me while I continue to live in denial, but NO THANK YOU. I choose to pretend that the piercing gun merely has a cupid's arrow inside of it, and not an actual needle.


I only wanted a second ear piercing. A piercing gun sounded just fine to me, even if it does have some drawbacks. I braced myself to be accosted by spinning racks of rhinestones and Justin Bieber posters at Claire's. Then I remembered Piercing Pagoda. A staple kiosk at malls everywhere, they offer more piercing services than Claire's, and I felt somewhat less conspicuous going there. Granted, I'm certain that their usual clientele is much *somewhat* younger than myself. But it seemed less teeny bopperish. AND they use an old fashioned piercing gun. And by old fashioned I mean newer and not nearly as scary as the 80's version. :0

Yesterday, I left work a tad early to head to the mall and Piercing Pagoda. The girl who was working wasn't a teenager, which I considered a bonus. PLUS, she had all sorts of awesome piercings and thus seemed super experienced. 😰 She was very pleasant and helped me pick out simple piercing earrings. Then she got ready while I sat in The Chair and contemplated whether this was all part of a midlife crisis for really boring people. Before I could determine an answer, she was ready, and carefully did some measurements. Soon, she was all set to go and so was I. They no longer do both ears at the same time (big surprise :0) so I was ready for it to feel like I was getting a vaccination. Except in my ear.

But really? It didn't feel like that. It didn't hurt AT ALL. :0 I'm certain other piercings do (that would be those that I can't even think about lest I faint dead away), but ear lobes are much less tear worthy than when I was 8. She did the second ear, and I was good to go, my cute little pink studs a badge of midlife honor. And here they are:

Not everyday that you get EAR PICTURES here at Life of a Catholic Librarian, but there you have it! I have to say: I LOVE THEM. I'm so glad that I got it done! So now every morning and evening I'm busily applying this little solution she gave me and twirling my earrings so that they'll heal properly. Yes, I do feel a little old to be doing such things, but you know what the good thing is about reaching a certain milestone age?

You don't care anymore. 😂

I love my little pink studs. They make me feel young and sassy. ;-) All right, this isn't typically how we close out a post, but here we go: do you have any piercings (that you feel comfortable talking about :0)? Are you hankering to get anymore? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Little girls who cough in the night...

Sunday night/early Monday morning, in the home of the Catholic Librarian:

*Tiffany and Mike blissfully sleeping*


*cough. cough. coughcoughcough. COUGHCOUGHCOUGH*

Anne has seasonal allergies, and spring is her roughest season. Obviously, I'm sympathetic. It just takes me longer to be enthusiastic about aforementioned sympathies at 2 am. Just like when I had newborns, I wait it out for several minutes, hoping that a miracle will come down from the sky and the child will fall back to sleep on their own. And how many times has THAT ever worked?


*long suffering sigh*

I drag myself out of bed and down the stairs. I sleepily fetch Anne's allergy medication, and carefully measure it out. I then drag self back up stairs and into her room. I give her the medicine, some water, an extra pillow to prop her head up more, and tuck her back in.

*jump back into bed*

*sigh of contentment*

*cough. cough. coughcoughcough. COUGHCOUGHCOUGH*

This goes on for what feels like hours while I wait for the medicine to kick in, but in actuality is only 10 minutes. I finally give up on sleep and head back to Anne's room.

"Anne honey, do you want to try and sleep on Mommy's chest so that you'll be propped up?"

Why yes, yes she would.

I lean up against the wall while Anne gets comfortable in my lap. Despite the fact that only 5 seconds have elapsed, my neck is already developing a crink.

"Anne. Are you settled yet?"


*jabs knees into my kidney*

"That's better."

Oh good. At least she's comfortable.


She's not coughing anymore, but she's also not staying STILL.


*removes elbow from ribs*

"Aren't you comfortable yet?"

"Well." *pounds head into sternum* "I'm rather hot, actually."

Oh are you really, actually?

"How about Mommy sleeps on your floor instead? You can stay up here in the bed."

Oh, she likes that idea.

Even though she isn't propped up, this seems to soothe her. I don't want to go back into our bedroom and risk waking Mike, so I adopt Oreo the penguin as my "pillow" and Anne's comforter as my blanket. The crink in my neck has now moved all the way down my back.

*cough. cough. coughcoughcough. COUGHCOUGHCOUGH*

Within about 15 minutes, Anne falls asleep. Guess who is still awake? But come 6:30 am...

"MOMMY!" *head peeks down!* " IT'S MORNIN' TIME!"

She's all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to start her day. I guess that's the 35 year age difference at play. 


And another thing that happens as you get older: I won't fully recover from this bad night for about another, oh, week and half. :0 How was YOUR weekend, dear reader?

Friday, April 28, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #94 - Summer Book Club plans!

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we have a bookish edition of:

Today we have some end-of-semester updates, and planning for a summer book club here at Life of a Catholic Librarian!

**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:
Are you up for praying the Our Lady of Fatima novena? What are your thoughts on the books I discussed, and do you have other suggestions? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 14

Wow. We have come to the final week in our Live Today Well book club that began back in winter Ordinary Time. It is also the final week of our classes here where I work, so that seems extra fitting. I'm excited about where we'll go from here! But first, we are slated to talk about "Mass and the Grace of Encounter." *happy sigh* Let's dive in, I have my tea!

St. Francis refers to the Mass as "the sun of all spiritual exercises," and pinpoints it as a "sacred moment." It is:

"...set apart (the root meaning of holy) in both time and place, for it celebrates God's doing, not ours."

Beautiful, yes? The Mass as the Church's Sun. That image really strikes a chord within my heart. When I was a child I thought (like many children, and certainly my own) that the Mass was BORING. I had no understanding of what we were doing or there to accomplish, it just seemed rote and monotonous to me. As an adult, I came to an understanding of the meaning of the Mass, and that changed everything for me. The Mass certainly has its comfortable rhythm from week-to-week, but it is anything but rote and monotonous.

During the Mass, St. Francis emphasizes being engaged with our surroundings via our faculties: our minds and hearts:

"First of all we should place ourselves in the presence of God...When the celebrant invites the faithful to repentance we should acknowledge our sins, be truly sorry for them, and ask God's pardon."

Thus, he is expressing a concrete way to attune ourselves to the divine presence at Mass. And we continue in this vein up through the Eucharistic prayers and reception of the Eucharist.

"Then, in the time that follows our reception of the sacrament, we can really commune with God. Here again, the sensible moment (i.e. the taste or act of digestion) can pass quickly. For this reason, it takes an intentional act on our part to appreciate th4e real presence of God now within us."

I love this. Intentionality. This has certainly been a theme throughout our time with St. Francis de Sales this year. We do what we do on a daily basis with intention: we think about it first, we offer it to God and seek His insight, and we act on it. Even in the simple tasks of our everyday lives. When receiving the Eucharist:

"...we can think of ourselves as being in this moment in the same state as that of Mary, who literally carried the Lord within her, and we can respond accordingly."

YES. This is my favorite line of the entire book. As a mother, I remember carrying my children within me (although I know many people, both men and women alike, become parents without going through this process). In either instance, the point is poignant. Receiving the Eucharist is no mere swallowing of a piece of bread. It is receiving the Lord within our very bodies. It is significant and meaningful. We need to be mindful of not taking this for granted and setting our minds and hearts accordingly.

"Divinely blessed in this sacred moment of the liturgical celebration of the Mass and in the reception of Holy Communion, we are empowered anew to live the good life."

Well. What did you think?! I got a lot out of the book. As you know, I have a difficult time sticking with spiritual non-fiction. I have a short attention span, and heavy content gets me down quickly. I thought this book was very approachable in style, and reading it one chapter per week really made the process smooth for me. I'd love to hear your thoughts on both Chapter 14, as well as the book club experience as a whole!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Do you keep a journal?

Current (and successful) Easter journal
I've been thinking a lot lately about journaling. Throughout my life, even as a child, I have tried to keep a journal in an off-and-on sort of manner. As a bookworm who always saw herself as a budding writer, this seemed like it should be a natural fit for me. Except that it wasn't. I'd dive into a new journal with a lot of gusto: I'd spend hours selecting just the right notebook for this endeavor, days thinking up a system for what and how frequently I'd write, and even devote time to picking the perfect writing instrument. Then I'd go to town for a solid week. Then I'd move to every other day, then a few times per week...until I realized that it had been 10 days and I hadn't written anything at all. I'd go through an inevitable period of coercing myself to write every so often before finally giving up the ghost and admitting that I didn't want to anymore. I'm a person who likes to live in denial. ;-)

And I still cannot fully pinpoint why this happens, and why journaling does not appeal to me in a long term format. I'm currently keeping a journal for Easter season via Blessed is She, and I do really like it. But this is an extremely short form and short term project that will end at Pentecost. When I have a date goal in mind, I can usually stay motivated. It's the "throughout my life" thing that usually throws me the curve ball.

But indeed, I *have* been enjoying the Easter journal, and I'd like to start investing in the Blessed is She Advent and Lent journals as well. Same deal. Short term goal, so I should be good. I wish I would keep up with this during Ordinary Time, but I know that I won't, so I'll stop torturing myself.

You know what I HAVE been doing for a long time, though? This blog. I started it back in (I THINK *blows dust off of brain cells*)  2008. So, that's almost 10 years. I'll have to go back and look, I know that I started it during the summertime too. So next summer can be a big milestone celebration here at Life of a Catholic Librarian. ;-)

And it's interesting, because I have always seen this blog as a journal of sorts. Granted, with a good deal of censoring and not exactly baring my soul the way I would in a journal that nobody read but me and God. :0 But I do share a lot with you, my friends. I certainly use a lot of discretion, but blogging is indeed a form of online journaling. And why do I like it so much more than keeping an old fashioned journal? Maybe *because* I have to be more creative and editorial in what I choose to write about since I am writing for others besides just myself. Indeed, I'm writing for others, for you. That brings a certain level of appeal to this writer. I don't want to write just for myself. I love fostering a sense of community and feeling like at least a few people out there enjoy reading what I have to write about, despite my less-than-perfect abilities.

I love blogging, I really do. So if you choose to stick around, you can be stuck with me for as long as you'd like. ;-) But how do YOU feel about journaling? Do you keep a journal? Do you feel that blogging is akin to journaling in some ways? I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Tea Time with Tiffany #93 - Spring into creativity!

Happy Friday all, and welcome to a very seasonally springy edition of:

Today I talk about what is bringing me creative inspiration this spring: dance, crafts, novenas, and some upcoming trips!

**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 creative things are inspiring YOU this spring? Don't forget to write in with your favorite genres of fiction for our chat next week about a summer book club!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Live Today Well, Chapter 13...

Well, looky here! We're into the Easter season, and into the final 2 chapters of our book club. Well done, yes?! We started back in February. I'm very impressed with us! ;-) I'm very excited about where we can go after this in terms of a summer book club. I have some ideas for that, and we can chat about them next week!

OK, but for now, we're set to talk about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, better known as Confession. We all dread this one just a wee bit, right? :-) At least you do if you're me! Let's dive in.

I know that I dread Confession because I feel so guilty about the things that I need to confess, and I feel like a perpetual failure since I seem to repeat things a lot. Does anybody else relate to this? Interestingly, St. Francis has this to say:

"confession and penance render a man infinitely more honorable than sin renders him blamable" and that "the greater our misery, the more is the mercy of God glorified." Our author notes: "With this attitude in mind, we might approach the sacrament more frequently and more profitably."

I like this positive spin. Instead of feeling guilt and despair, I should feel hope and gratitude. Since our approach to the sacrament actually highlights God's mercy, we should go MORE often, rather than our natural inclination towards less.

Our author also addresses preparing for Confession, reminding us of the daily practice of the Examen. As well, if we go to Confession for frequently, it will be MUCH easier to recall what we need to confess. If we wait too long, it gets impossible to recall everything that we should.

Crucially, in terms of what we should confess, St. Francis suggests:

"...that we not only confess what we have done (or failed to do), but, more importantly, that we acknowledge the reason for it and the motive behind it. These are what allow us to see ourselves as we really are and become the place where we focus renewed energy, with the help of divine grace, in becoming who we are called to be."

This selection really spoke to me. If there are things that I need to confess again and again, WHY am I continuing to do them? It's not simply a matter of resolving not to do it again, then eventually caving and doing it again, it's a matter of what is causing that temptation or weakness to be present. This was a very useful insight for me.

What were your thoughts on the Confession chapter? Next week is our final chapter, and it's about the Mass! I'm really looking forward to that one. I have very much enjoyed our endeavor together with this book, but now that we're at the end, I AM excited about moving on to something else. I can't wait to chat about it with you!