Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tea Time for Advent 2017 - episode 1!

Well HELLO there! I feel like it's been awhile, though it's not like I've been away from the blog for any length of time. :0 But Tea Time is back in it's seasonal format, and here we are at episode 1 for Advent 2015!


Today we talk about the format for Tea Time going forward and the seasonal way it will be produced for the foreseeable future (lots of catching up and what's happening, a Catholic tidbit, and then seasonal specials), before moving into our Advent Book Club! Horray! There will be a new Tea Time each week for the next 4 weeks.

CAVEAT: The audio quality this week is very poor, I'm so sorry about that! Being out of practice, I did not properly record the audio while I recorded live, and thus had to go back and capture it from the video, which leads to ca ca in terms of audio. It's something at least for those of you who prefer to listen rather than watch the video. There are also a couple of wonky spots where I had to edit out notification noises that I did not anticipate. *collapses* Next week, I will be back in the groove, I promise!

**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:

OK, let me hear from you! Are you praying the Immaculate Conception novena? Book Clubbers, what did you think of chapter 1?!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A 15 year milestone this Thanksgiving week...

Happy Thanksgiving week to all of my American readers! This is one of my favorite weeks of the entire year - I rarely take vacation days in the summer, and instead use them at Thanksgiving and Christmas to take an entire week off. So I'm home this week, watching Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel, crocheting in my jammies, drinking tea, creating a dance choreography in the middle of my kitchen...and all while having the house blissfully to myself.


The kids still have school until Thursday, and as much as I love them, I also love being able to hear the thoughts running through my own head, and being uninterrupted as I do...well, *anything*. GLORY.

I've also been reading, and I'm preparing for our first Advent Book Club post late next week, horray! I own the book in print, but sadly I may need to buy it for Kindle due to my eyes' inability to enjoy print books anymore, ugh. FYI for those of you not in the Facebook group where I already posted this, but Kindle Paperwhites are $30 off this week for Black Friday! I snagged one for Henry. 😎

So, I'm reading, but finishing up another book before I start The Christmas Quilt. I'm also coming up against the Christmas crafting deadline, and crocheting and knitting my little heart out. I need to finish a shawl and a scarf, and start on (yikes!) a pair of mittens and 2 coffee cup cozies. And maybe some dish cloths. It's doable, but I must stay focused. 😳

We're hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our house, so Mike and I are also busy with food planning and preparation. It's a lot going on, but in the best way possible. I love it.

In the midst of all this, Mike and I are celebrating a personal milestone - November 22nd marks the 15th anniversary of our first date. Back in 2002, we met the weekend prior at a gathering hosted by mutual friends. He set up the double date that week, and we went out on what was a Friday that year. It's also the feast of St. Cecilia, my confirmation patron!

*virtual fist bump to the communion of saints*

We became engaged in the autumn of the following year, and were married just over a year after that, in January 2005. Even though this dating anniversary is a much more informal event to commemorate, we still look back on that time very fondly because of the loving involvement of our friends, who are now also married. I almost didn't make the party that weekend because I was scheduled to visit my sister, brother-in-law and nephew for his birthday on November 15th, but a storm on the east coast prevented the trip. And so I met Mike instead.

Our first date was at a restaurant called Cecelia's (I'm not making this up, she's clearly a busy woman up there in heaven), and we go to dinner there often for date nights. Ever since our 10th wedding anniversary, we've started going to Cecelia's every November, on the Tuesday evening prior to Thanksgiving, to mark our dating anniversary. The restaurant sends us a coupon for it and everything. :0 This year is 15 years, and that feels really special!

I remember being in my 20's and wondering if I'd ever meet anyone. Mousy wallflowers who like to read and crochet don't exactly attract the star of the football team, if you know what I mean. I dated a few guys, but not many, before I met Mike, and none of the relationships were long-term or very serious. I feared that my reserved, introverted nature meant that I would never find a companion with whom to share my life.

And then I met another reserved introvert, and the rest is history. :) 15 years later, I'm more in love with my husband than ever, and very glad that God brought us together. *heart*

What are you up to this week, dear readers? How are your Thanksgiving plans shaping up? I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Advent Book Club winner!

Hi all! Hope that you are well. I'm freshly off of a sick day with a minor muscle injury, and can I tell you what a JOY it is to lay around in my pj's all day, watching Christmas movies, drinking tea, and shopping an online yarn sale from my laptop? I clearly need to do this much more often. I mean, I'd like to do it every single day, but I suppose the kids have to eat. :0

At any rate, being at home got me to thinking about the holidays coming up, and how I'd like to prepare properly for the Christmas season. First up, of course, is getting the Tea Time podcast started back up, which will include a segment with our Advent Book Club! Our poll closed Monday, and here we have our big winner!

*drum roll*

Yay! So we will have a fiction read for our Advent Book Club. This photo is of the copy that I own of this book, pairing The Christmas Quilt and The New Year's Quilt together, but we will only read the first book. This duo copy is actually pretty inexpensive at Amazon, just $7.19 right now, so if prefer to purchase it, you can continue on and read the New Year's story on your own after we finish. :)

Here's the tentative plan: I'm going to start Tea Time back up right around November 29th, so just before Advent starts. We'll have 4 weeks together, through December 20th/21st, before we break for Christmas hiatus. The book has 5 chapters, and in my particular copy, most of them are 45ish pages.
Here is the schedule I'm proposing:

November 29th/30th - Chapter 1
December 6th/7th - Chapter 2
December 13th/14th - Chapter 3 (this one is a bit longer)
December 19th/20th - Chapters 4 and 5 (Chapter 4 is a normal length, and Chapter 5 is much shorter).

I figure as we move closer to the end of the book, we'll be wanting to see what happens, and are more apt to read further. :) I'm not certain what day I'll post each week, but I'll endeavor the Wednesdays or Thursdays! Then you are free to comment anytime you wish, as you move through the book. You can comment on the Tea Time post with your thoughts each week, or over in the thread I'll start each week in our Facebook group. Fun, right?!

The options that did not get selected, but did get votes, were all non-fiction/devotional options. So there  was definitely interest in those titles as well. I'm planning to complete the Blessed is She Advent Journal this year, and if anybody is interested in following along with weekly Advent reflections via that journal or another of your choosing, I could start up a way for us to chat about that as well for the season. A thread in the Facebook group would be easy peasy. If you're not on Facebook, but would like that option, please comment below, and we'll figure something out. :)

OK, I'm all excited! What do you all think of the schedule?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Plans! This is what happens when I have some time on my hands :0

Good day to you all! I've been monitoring our little Advent Book Club poll, and have of course read over and considered all of your comments. I've also been dwelling over my return to the Tea Time podcast, and how this can tie in the seasonal book clubs I'd like to regularly do. I have some ideas! Grab your cup of coffee and let's chat. :)

So, this time away from podcasting has been good for me. The freed up availability led to a lot less stress for me during the crazy part of my semester, and it allowed me to think about what I'd like to do going forward. I was also able to devote time to a longer post each week, which I LOVED!

I think what I'd like to do moving forward is have Tea Time be a weekly, but seasonal podcast, like I mentioned in our last episode.The seasons would be for Advent, Lent, and summer Ordinary Time (June through August) each year. Looking at my weekly schedule in terms of my job and home life responsibilities, doing more than that is not what God is recommending to me right now. ;-) I think this is a fun, very liturgical calendar-driven approach, which makes perfect sense given the theme of this blog.

When I took a hiatus from Tea Time, I knew it would be back in some sort of seasonal format, but I wasn't sure how I would structure the episodes. I had added some features following the 100th episode (What's Happening, On My BookShelf, Prayer Corner, The Creative Commons), but besides What's Happening, I cover the other issues regularly over in the blog Facebook group. Having tea together lends itself to the What's Happening segment, to be sure, and I think what I will do is keep that, and then add in a seasonal special, depending on which season we're in. For Advent and Lent, that can be a book club. In the summer, I'm not sure. I may do a series on the saints, or Marian apparitions, or something like that, we can decide ahead of time! But doesn't that sound fun?

As well, adding the book clubs into Tea Time solves our dilemma about where to host the club. Many of you preferred the Facebook group for book club discussion, but a few others aren't on Facebook or otherwise would prefer to discuss it back at the blog. So here is our perfect solution:

Each week, I will discuss my thoughts on the book during Tea Time. If you're averse to Facebook, you can comment right on that post, and I and others will respond to you and get a conversation going over here. :) I will also post a thread weekly following the podcast in our private Facebook group. Then our little community over there can discuss the book in that forum as well. This way, everybody has a place to participate!

What do you all think? Once the poll closes for our book voting period (so far, the leading contender is the fiction choice, The Christmas Quilt), we can set up a schedule for reading. I may start up the week before Advent begins, a pre-Advent/preparation episode. :) Plus that gives us an additional week to read the book. Voting closes on Monday!

Thoughts? I'm super excited, y'all!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Advent inspiration! Help choose a title for an Advent book club...

Hi all! Over the weekend, I was struck by Advent inspiration. As well as a desire to scour my bookcases, which was also helpful. ;-) During this time, I pulled out a bunch of books that I thought would be LOVELY for our Advent book club, and figured we could have fun with a poll!

*virtual high five!*

I'll describe the books in detail here, and there is a poll to vote along the right side of the blog. I also need to know if you'd like me to host the weekly posts here on the blog itself, or over in the Facebook group. Leave a comment with your vote on that one! OK, here we go?

Advent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations, by Heidi Hess Saxton.

 In celebration of the canonization of one of the Church’s newest saints, Servant Books is proud to present this small book of meditations for the seasons of Advent and Christmas, including special feast days associated with those seasons. Mother Teresa’s life and writings, marked by a spirit of humility, simplicity and love, encourage readers to quiet their hearts as they prepare to receive the Lord. The book includes a foreword by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, whose friendship with Mother Teresa has been captured in several of her bestselling books.
Here we have a devotional option. That seems like an appropriate option for Advent, and I do love that St. Teresa of Calcutta. A disadvantage, I suppose, is that this runs through the Epiphany, and we won't be blogging right around the holidays (annual hiatus for family time). BUT, if we went with the Facebook group option, this would absolutely be doable! Just something to keep in mind when you vote.

Rooted in Hope, by Elizabeth Foss

Specially created for Advent 2017, this beautiful book integrates Bible study, journaling, and thoughtful planning for the season. For each day, you'll find Scripture, a devotional essay, pages for lectio divina, and space to organize your days. Clear and elegant design, hand-drawn illustrations, and lovely calligraphy make this book a treasured gift for the woman who uses it.
This book was suggested by Lisa over in the Facebook group, thank you Lisa! I LOVE the thought of us all journaling together and working through Scripture! I do not own this one, but would be happy to purchase it if others are game. To me, the only disadvantage is that it does seem to be aimed at women, and we do have some men that participate. So everybody make sure to vote!

 Goodness and Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas, edited by Michael Leach et al.

An anthology of inspired readings from cherished writers to enrich you every day of the season. From the first day of Advent through Christmas Eve to the Epiphany, these 45 readings from beloved writers, classical and contemporary, will surprise you, touch you with love, and comfort you with peace. Authors include Harper Lee, Kathleen Norris, Frederick Buechner, Maya Angelou, Pope Francis, James Martin, and Marianne Williamson.
Goodness and Light is a wonderful book for daily inspiration during the holiday season and to re-read for its beauty and wisdom on many days after.

I bought this last year, and was really looking forward to reading it, but fell off the wagon early on in Advent. This is ecumenical in nature, including authors of many different Christian faiths. I love the look and diversity of the readings, it looks like an engaging option!

Through the Church Year: Reflections for Feasts and Seasons, by Francis D. Kelly.

Msgr. Francis D. Kelly draws from a wide array of spiritual guides and theologians to articulate insightful meditations on the meaning of the feasts and seasons of the liturgical year.

This is not solely Advent based, but a look through all of the different aspects of the liturgical year. The liturgical calendar is fascinating to me, and I think this would be a great read to inspire us to stay in tune with the ebb and flow of the Church seasons throughout the year. Since Advent starts out the Church calendar, the timing is good for this one!

The Christmas Quilt, by Jennifer Chiaverini.

When Christmas Eve comes to Elm Creek Manor, the tenor of the holiday is far from certain. Sylvia Bergstrom Compson, the Master Quilter, has her own reasons for preferring a quiet, even subdued, Christmas. Her young friend Sarah McClure, however, takes the opposite view and decides to deck the halls brightly. As she explores the trunks packed with Bergstrom family decorations that haven't been touched in more than fifty years, Sarah discovers a curious Christmas quilt. Begun in seasonal fabrics and patterns, the quilt remains unfinished.

Sylvia reveals that the handiwork spans several generations and a quartet of Bergstrom quilters -- her great aunt, her mother, her sister, and herself. As she examines the array of quilt blocks each family member contributed but never completed, memories of Christmases past emerge.

At Elm Creek Manor, Christmas began as a celebration of simple virtues -- joy and hope buoyed by the spirit of giving. As each successive generation of Bergstroms lived through its unique trials -- the antebellum era, the Great Depression, World War II -- tradition offered sustenance even during the most difficult times. For Sylvia, who is coping with the modern problem of family dispersed, estranged, or even forgotten, reconciliation with her personal history may prove as elusive as piecing the Christmas Quilt.

Elm Creek Manor is full of secrets, from a Christmas tree with unusual properties to the sublime Bergstrom strudel recipe. Sylvia's tales at first seem to inform her family legacy but ultimately illuminate far more, from the importance of women's art to its place in commemorating our shared experience, at Christmastime and in every season.
You all know me, and I cannot resist a ficton option, yes? This particular packaging of 2 books (The Christmas Quilt AND The New Year's Quilt) is actually cheaper on Amazon than the books are separately, but we don't HAVE to read them both. We *could*, but that's totally up to our discretion. We could read The Christmas Quilt and be very happy campers, and it would take us less time.

I would love your thoughts both on the book AND the venue for discussion (blog vs. Facebook group). Make sure to vote also in the official poll! It's open through November 12th.