Emily M. DeArdo


Food Friday 4: An Outer Banks recipe

Food Fridays, food, recipesEmily DeArdoComment
From Our State magazine 

From Our State magazine 

This is one of my favorite recipes from The Outer Banks Cookbook. Whenever I feel the urge to get the beach, but can't, I usually make this. Shrimp are one of my favorite foods, and they're a good nutritional deal too; they protein-packed (one shrimp contains about 3 grams of protein, and 3 ounces of shrimp is almost equal to a 3 oz chicken breast for protein, having about 20 grams), and provide important nutrients like selenium, Vitamin B12, and phosphate. 

This is a very, very easy recipe--it requires only one pot and, aside from the shrimp and Old Bay, these are probably things you keep around your house. (Unless it's my house, in which case, I always have shrimp and Old Bay!) Even if you don't like beer, try this. Trust me. 

Shrimp 'n' Beer

from The Outer Banks Cookbook by Elizabeth Wiegand

2 pounds shrimp, unpeeled

one 12-ounce beer (not lite)

1 cup water

1 medium onion, sliced

1 lemon or lime, sliced

4 garlic cloves, slivered

1 bunch parsley, coarsley chopped (or about 1/4 cup dried)

1 tbsp salt

2 tbsp Old Bay seasoning

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. whole black or mixed peppercorns

1 c. prepared cocktail sauce (your favorite brand)

Rinse shrimp and set aside to drain. 

In a large pot, add beer and all other ingredients. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and allow to bubble for two minutes, reduice heat if necessary to keep it from boiling over. 

Make sure the beer mixture is at a raucous boil, then add the shrimp. Stir often, and cook just until the mixture returns to a boil and the shrimp turn pin. Drain. 

Serve in a large bowl, with an extra bowl for discarded shrimp shells and a small bowl of cocktail sauce.


Sometimes Old Bay seasoning is labeled "Chesapeake Bay seasoning" or "Chesapeake Seafood Seasoning". You can usually find it in the seafood section of the grocery store, or at places like Williams-Sonoma in the spice section. 

(And congratulations to Abby, who won a copy of Reading People! Thanks to all who entered!) 

Yarn Along No. 61: Barton Cottage Crafts and Linen

yarn along, books, knittingEmily DeArdoComment


Barton Cottage Crafts is what I call my nascent scarf business. It's named after the Dashwood ladies' house in Sense and Sensibility, which is also what I call my own little house, and I think it has a nice ring to it, right? So this week I'm showing you what I'm working on there, as well as linen piece progress.


This is the Anne Shirley scarf, done in an autumnal colorway to channel Anne's love of October. 


This is the Lady Edith, done in blues and greens, and named after Downton Abbey's Lady Edith Crawley, who looked quiet lovely in these shades (even if she wasn't my favorite character. :-P) 


This one is in progress, and it's the Brianna Randall, named after the Outlander character. I chose to name this bright colorway after Brianna because of the Day-Glo colored dress she wears to the moon landing party in Drums of Autumn

All of these scarves have been commissioned, but I'm hoping eventually to knit up enough stock to have an Etsy shop for them. If you want one, just drop me a line and we can talk! 

For my own personal knitting, we've got the linen kerchiefs going on.  There's the supermoon one, in purple linen (Venice colorway): 


And the sans kerchief, in the Truffle colorway (these are both Quince and Co.'s sparrow yarn). 


The Supermoon has a textured pattern, so each row is different; you work in sets of seven rows at a time. The sans is just stockinette stitch, so it's a lot easier! It's also the project I brought on vacation because I thought it would be nice and relaxing to do, which it was, for the most part, but linen can be a pain when you're purling, especially in the beginning. Gah! 

When I have commissions, I work on my own pieces on the weekends only, usually Sundays, because I want people to get their pretty scarves as soon as possible! So I've been going back and forth between the two linen projects. No rush on those, especially on Supermoon, since it's a bit more complicated than anything I've done before. 



Postcard: Duck, North Carolina

travelEmily DeArdoComment

This is an update to a post I did a few years ago, which focused solely on Duck. Now, while my family has stayed in Duck every time we've gone to the Outer Banks, this year we ventured further afield and went to Corolla, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Devil Hills, so I've included my recommendations for restaurants and shopping (when applicable) there as well. I hope you find this entry helpful if you're planning a trip to the Banks (which you should totally do). 

Getting There

You can fly into the Outer Banks--the Richmond, VA airport is fairly close--but I recommend driving, because, if you're spending a week at the beach, you're going to need a lot of stuff. For me, it's a drive that can be done in one very long day, but both times I've gone, the drive has been split into two days on the way there, and done in one on the way back. 


The house we stayed in was a Sun Realty NC rental. They have a HUGE variety of properties to fit every budget, are pet-friendly, and are fantastic to work with. (They also support the CF Foundation!) They have everything from tiny beach bungalows to multi-story houses with pool tables and in-ground pools. 



The food in the Outer Banks (Hereafter OBX) is fantastic, especially the seafood. Here are some of the places we've enjoyed eating: 

In Duck...

The Blue Point for a nice lunch or dinner. Located in the Waterfront Shops, you have a lovely view of the sound. 1240 Duck Road. 

Duck Pizza Company: It's a Sunday evening tradition--don't go grocery shopping, get Duck pizza. They deliver, or you can eat at their shop in the Scarborough Lane shops. 1171 Duck Road. 

Duck Donuts:  Incredibly delicious. Yes, they have locations around the U.S. now, but eating Duck Donuts in the OBX is something special.  1190 Duck Road (locations throughout the OBX, check their website for locations and hours--the one in Corolla is only open until 3 pm!)

Sooey's BBQ and Rib Shack: Get some Carolina cue in the Scarborough Faire shops (right next to the Scarborough Lane shops).  1177 Duck Road. 

Duck Deli:  A large menu, indoor/outdoor setting, and a casual vibe. They also offer take out and live music and entertainment on some evenings. 1223 Duck Road. 

Roadside Bar and Grill: My favorite new place--the shrimp and grits were absolutely perfect. There were so many delicious sounding things on the menu that I could've eaten here every day of our vacation and had something new each time! 1193 Duck Road

In Manteo...

Big Al's: We ate here on our way to see The Lost Colony (More on that below) when we visited in 2010. Fantastically fun retro diner. 716 S. Highway 64. 

In Corolla....

La Dolce Vita: An Italian restaurant that has upscale/casual vibes. If you can be both at one time, this place is. Beautiful decor and fixtures but still a place you can visit in your shorts. :) The food was delicious! There are familiar classics, like spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmesan, but also dishes like chicken saltimboca, which aren't seen as often--and is delicious. Located in the TimBuck II Shopping Village, 798 C Sunset Boulevard. 


In Kill Devil Hills...

Jolly Roger: OK, this place looks sort of weird from the outside, but inside, it's a great Italian restaurant, but with plenty of other dishes, like their fantastic crab cakes, to whet your appetite. And characters from The Little Mermaid are painted on the walls! 1836 North Virginia Dale Trail. 


Grocery Stores

Food Lion in Corolla is your big box grocery store; there's also a Harris Teeter. In Duck, you have two smaller choices: Tommy's, which is a gourmet market and sells a ton of fresh seafood, general household goods,  as well as other gourmet eats, is in the waterfront shoppes. Your other option is Wee Winks, which is less pricey and But Tommy's is our general pick for groceries. 



That's right guys--book stores. Two fantastic independent bookstores!!!! Both have really friendly staffs and are heaven for book browsers. 

Duck's Cottage: My true love. I go there almost every day when I'm in Duck. Not only books--coffee and pastries, too, that you can eat in the shop or on the adorable porch outside. Treats and water for pups, too! Small, but an incredibly diverse collection, and they'll order books for you. 1240 Duck Road. (In the Waterfront Shops) 

Island Bookstore: Scarborough Faire shops. Packed to the rafters with all sorts of books, including ones that are crazy hard to find. A great place to dig around and browse. The Corolla location is a bit bigger and the selection is just as good. (1130 Corolla Village Road--it's sort of hard to find, but worth it!) 



Duck is known as a shopper's paradise, and there's a lot of great places to check out. The Scarborough Lane and Scarborough Faire shops are a good place to go when it's raining since they're more covered; the Waterfront Shops overlook the sound. The Fudgery at the Scarborough Lane shops is to die for, and the Christmas Mouse shop there is really cute. I love just about every shop in the Waterfront Shops. There's also a Life is Good store! 



The Beaches are divine. If you rent from Sun, you'll have private access routes to the beaches. You can also rent beach items--chairs, noodles, floats, even bikes--from various companies around town. The beaches all have lifeguards and boards noting the weather conditions, water temperature, and other things. Be aware of riptides and how to get out of them before you go, though--every house that Sun rents has information sheets about these in the main room. 



The Lost Colony is one of America's first outdoor drama performances, and it's one of the good ones. The performance features really cool sets and music, and is located in an outdoor amphitheater that overlooks the water. Wear bug spray and bring a jacket, because it gets chilly! But it's a great performance that details what might have happened to the "lost colony" of Roanoke. 1409 National Park Drive, Manteo, NC. 


If you want to see where the Wright Brothers took their first flight, head to the Wright Brothers National Memorial. (Even though the first flight was in Kitty Hawk, the museum is located in Kill Devil Hills. Go figure.) 


The OBX is a great place to learn to surf, SUP (Stand up Paddleboard), body surf, kayak--all sorts of things are available. There's fishing off the research pier, kite flying, and a lot more. 

Getting around/miscellaneous

Everything in Duck is off the main road--route 12, or the "Duck Road." It's easy to get around via car or even bike--and to get to the other towns, you either go north or south. Corolla, the city north of Duck, is pretty remote, and in Carova, you need 4x4, or you aren't going anywhere. 

Saturdays are crazy, because that's the biggest day for people leaving and arriving in the Outer Banks. Be prepared for slow traffic on the bridges and once you're on the island. It gradually clears up as you get closer to Duck. To avoid the traffic when you're heading home, leave really early in the morning. We found that if we're across the bridge by 11, we can avoid the traffic, and we usually get Sunday-Sunday rentals--the traffic isn't quite as bad then as it is on Saturday. Also be sure to study the hurricane information sheets in your hotel/rental, as well as the rip tide info. 

Your rental company will tell you what you need to bring in terms of cooking/household gear. If you're like me and you like to cook, you might want to bring a decent knife and cutting board, since those can be hard to find in rental houses. 




I'm at ESTJ, how about you? (And Why It Matters) And a Giveaway!

booksEmily DeArdo4 Comments
Reading People Quote.png

If the headline of this post doesn't make any sense to you, that's OK. Hopefully it will shortly. 

If you're like me, you love personality quizzes. I remember taking them in Teen and Seventeen back in high school--"what fall makeup look is for you?" "What Drew Barrymore heroine are you?" (Yes, that was a real quiz). And I've always loved them. I've taken the "What Jane Austen Heroine?" quiz are you many times, bouncing between Marianne and Elinor until I've finally, consistently, landed on Elizabeth Bennet. As much as I originally wanted to be in Gryffindor, many Sorting Hat Quizzes have led me to Hufflepuff, where I have finally become a Proud Badger. 

But why do we do this? Is it just for fun--or do we take these quizzes to learn something about ourselves, to try to figure ourselves out? Anne Bogel thinks that it's the latter. In her new book Reading People, she walks the reader through several major personality typing systems, and doesn't just give us the information on them--she shows us how knowing ourselves, through the lenses of these systems, can help us live better lives. 

Anne discusses some of the main personality tests/divisions, starting with whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert (but you're never 100% one--everyone has qualities of both), or a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP--I'm not, at all). From there, she discusses other major personality systems and theories. While Anne writes about all of these in an accessible, conversational style, I thought I'd walk you through the systems and types she discusses and share insights I gained from reading: 

  • As I said above, I'm an ESTJ. I am an extrovert (E),which means I seek out stimulation, and I'm focused on the world around me, as opposed to being focused mostly inside my head. I, and all extroverts, actually think faster than introverts, because the neurological pathways in my brain are shorter. So if you hang around me long enough you'll probably hear me say, "No, we've moved on" or "keep up" (and this also relates to something else I discovered as I read Anne's book, but that we'll talk about in a second). Anne gives an example of a friend wanting to discuss an evening out after it's happened, and that is so me. I love to talk about movies, theater, etc. right after the event is over, and it probably explains why I'm so wired after a performance. I need to talk about it! It's a lot more than just preferring quite over noise, and I'm not a pure extrovert (because no one is a purse intro/extrovert)--in church, I find it excruciating, and highly irritating, when we have to "meet and greet" at the beginning of some Masses. I hate that stuff! 
  •  Highly Sensitive People. I am not a highly sensitive person. Sensitive, in this case, meaning sensitive to noises, emotions, tactile feelings, violence in television/movies/books, etc. (It's not that I don't have feelings!) One thing I found interesting here is that HSP are very affected by caffeine, which I am not; I can have a cup of coffee and then go right to bed. I don't mind loud noises, I can watch the news without freaking out about all the evil in the world (although I will get annoyed at the levels of stupidity I see), and I am definitely not very sensitive to pain. (I couldn't be, with the life I've had. I'd be a bawling, incoherent mess!)  
  • Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages: There are five love languages: Quality Time, Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Service, and Physical Touch. You can take a quiz (link at the bottom oft he post) to determine how you rank. My top two are  Quality Time (9) and Gifts (6). If you're around me, you'll notice I get annoyed when people text or look at their phones if I'm trying to talk to them: because this violates the rule of Quality Time. Now, that doesn't mean that if we're in a room together, I will FREAK OUT if you check a score on your phone, but if I'm having one-on-one time with someone, I want the person to be engaged with us, or it's not Quality Time. It's just time in the same space together, and then, why aren't I reading? :-P This is also why, since my hearing loss, I prefer smaller gatherings of people to large, big ones. It's not that I don't love all my friends--I do! But I can't follow the conversation as easily when it's multiple people, so I just get all annoyed. 
    "Gifts" does not mean what you think it means. It doesn't mean that I want actual pricey gifts all the time or I don't believe you love me! Dad made me really happy when, during our last vacation, he brought me back some shells from the beach that he'd gathered during his walk. That was a fabulous gift. My mom sends me a real birthday card in the mail every year, which is big for me. I love receiving that card. (My sister, on the other hand, doesn't rank gifts very highly at all--which is hard for me, because I like to get people gifts for their birthdays!)  
  • Keirsey's Temperaments: This is very similar, and connected, to the Meyers-Briggs Personality type, but it's less specific. Keirsey is focused on what we say, and what we do: how we use words, and how we use tools, a tool being anything that "can be used to affect action." There are four types, in his system: Artist, Guardian, Idealist, Rational. I'm a Guardian, which is the largest segment of the population. I am "sensible and judicious...reliable, dependable, and consistent." I love my routines and habits, and when I don't have routines, I tend to get flustered and unproductive. Nearly half the US Presidents have been guardians. If you've seen Mary Poppins you might remember Mr. Banks' song, "The Life I Lead": "My slippers, sherry, and pipe are due/ at six-oh-two/ consistent is the life I lead!" 
  • Meyers-Briggs: I'm an ESTJ, which we'll talk about in a second. 
  • Clifton StrengthsFinder: You have to pay for this test, so I haven't taken it, but the link is at the bottom of the post, anyway. From Anne's descriptions, it sounds really interesting. The idea is that you are only good at certain things: focus on what you do best, and do things that play to your strengths. 
  • And finally, the enneagram, which Anne calls the "negative system": this is the one that will most likely show you the dark sides of your personality, the things you mess up. 

But the two sections I found the most useful were the ones on the Meyers-Briggs types and cognitive stacks. MIND CHANGING! 

I'm an ESTJ, which means I'm Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging. What does that mean in English?

It means that I like to be around people; that I take in information via observable facts; that my decision making is logical, analytical, consistent, impartial, and task-oriented; and that I prefer to have decisions settled, and I feel better once a decision is made. "Judging" in this case means I prefer to have decision making behind me. I don't take forever to make a decision. This was evident when I was considering whether or not to be listed for a lung transplant. Once I knew that I needed to have it (and that's a key point: once I had come to that conclusion myself) I knew that the logical thing was to start to work on getting listed. Decision made! I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons of transplant, because to me, the pros and cons were easy: without it, I'd die. With it, I might not. Easy decision! 

I like things to be systemic, and I like them methodical. I do get a sense of joy from crossing things off my list.  

I'm Minerva McGonagall: she's an excellent example of an ESTJ. She didn't give Harry and Ron any leeway when they were late for her class on the first day of classes; she has high expectations for her students; but she also has a rarely-seen soft spot for them, like when she offered Harry a biscuit in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, or when she tells Harry that it's good to see him before the Battle of Hogwarts. 

Now, the thing that was really mind changing for me was the idea of cognitive functions. This is different ways our minds are capable of working, and this really spoke to me. Because as an ESTJ, or a Guardian, one of the things I've always thought was wrong for me was the idea that we're not really warm people. I am quite warm--with people I know. I may be logical, but I'm not Spock or Sheldon Cooper. I have compassion, to an extent. I'm blunt, but only when I absolutely have to be. The rest of the time I'm like my namesake, Auntie Em: "For twenty-three years I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you. And now, being a good Christian woman, I can't say it!" (Or McGonagall's, "Oh, there are several things I would like to say!") 

 So am I not an ESTJ? 

Well, no, I am. But I have other functions too. Anne explains there are four levels in the cognitive stack: The dominant, the auxiliary, the tertiary, and the inferior. The dominant is the way you act, instinctively. The auxiliary can be the way you've learned to act, or requires conscious thought. It's the co-pilot. The tertiary and the inferior come into play, but they can be easily shadowed or not expressed. 

So for me, it works like this: 

Dominant I think in black and white: there are clearly defined boundaries, clearly defined "good" and "bad" in my world. I like to be in charge. My boundaries are solid. I don't mind confrontation (especially if it has to do with deeply held principles). And what I consider "confrontation" may not be what you consider "confrontation." 

A funny story to illustrate this: at one point, my siblings and I were having lunch with my co-workers. At the end of the lunch, one of my co-workers said to me, "Are you guys like that all the time?" Meaning, that...overwhelming, loud, and combative?  "Yes," I said. It's no coincidence that my little sister used to declare it was "[her] turn to talk" at the dinner table. The three of us have different personality types, but we are all strong personalities. We sound like we're yelling at each other, when really, we're just talking. 

Auxiliary I store data and information about people. I will know your birthday, your anniversary, your kids' names and quite possibly their birthdays, and your pets. (My mom is crazy good in this department. My brother has a crazy ability to remember what year movies came out.) I respect tradition and like things to be organized and structured, even just loosely. When I taught CCD classes the content of the lesson was less scripted than how the lesson would go. First, this. Then, that. (That doesn't mean that my environment  is organized--to the untrained eye, it's not. But I know where everything is. My books are highly, highly organized, as are my CDs and my DVDs). I can get nostalgic. 

Tertiary I call this my "web thinking" or "Wikipedia diving", or, more quickly, "RABBIT!" Remember "try to keep up"? This is that in action. I synthesize ideas, make quick connections, and will comment on it even if no one else sees it. This also has to do with my reading list. I read Gifts from the Sea on vacation, so now I'm reading the novel The Aviator's Wife, about Anne Lindberg, who wrote Gifts from the Sea. I'm reading Troubling A Star, about a trip to Antartica, so last night I was on wikipedia, looking up stuff about Antartica, and then searching for Antarctic cruises (not that I'd ever take one, but...). I can wikipedia dive for hours, clicking on links in articles that can lead me far away from what my original search term was. 

Inferior I actually use this one a lot--I could almost swap my auxiliar and inferior, sometimes. I have a strong sense of right and wrong, which is part of the Dominant, above. I'm creative, I feel things deeply, but I don't always express it--either because I think I can't, or I just don't feel comfortable doing so. It's like when Marianne says to Elinor, "Elinor, where is your heart?" Elinor certainly has a heart, but she's not Marianne. She doesn't feel she's a liberty to share it. 

All four of these work together to make my personality what it is. And the thing is--it's great that I know this, because I'm not just "being difficult" when I don't like the meet and greet before Mass, or when it drives me nuts that people say "let's get together on Saturday" and then it's Thursday and no plans have been made for Saturday. But there's the other side, too, because as Anne reminds us, the world isn't always as we want it. So there's coping--knowing that your spouse, or your best friend, also has her personality, and that they really aren't doing things just to annoy you. How can you reconcile your needs with the other person's needs, or actions? It's a fine line. 

Anne's book makes what can be a very dry, academic subject interesting and lively, and I'm sure I'll be diving back into it often, since I love this kind of stuff. I highly recommend it! If this sounds like your thing, you can pre-order here. And if you do it by September 19 (next Tuesday!), you get lots of free goodies! 

So now that I've shared all my personality things with you, it's your turn. What personality test is your favorite? What's your love language? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Share in the comments!

Every comment will be entered to WIN a copy of Reading People!  You can get an additional entry by subscribing to the blog. The contest will run for a week, and I'll announce the winner on September 20!




HSP test

The Five Love Languages

Keirsey Test

Clifton StrengthsFinder

Enneagram test (one of many you can find online) 


Duck: Days 5-7

travelEmily DeArdo2 Comments
Sunset on Thursday, August 31. 

Sunset on Thursday, August 31. 

Day Five 

We had a delicious lunch at The Roadside in Duck, which was a new restaurant for us, but one I must go back to, because they had the best shrimp and grits I've ever had in my life


The restaurant was really cute, with creative touches everywhere, like the following: 


After lunch, it was back to the house for more swimming, reading, and knitting. I brought a very simple project with me (just stockinette stitch) in Quince and Company's Sparrow linen yarn (Truffle colorway). I'll talk more about this in my next yarn along. 

My knitting/reading chair--the natural light, and that lamp, were perfect! 

My knitting/reading chair--the natural light, and that lamp, were perfect! 

And Thursday night was the kickoff to the college football season. It was strange watching football at the beach! But like good Ohioans, we settled in to watch Ohio State play Indiana. 


Friday morning, September 1. 

Friday morning, September 1. 

Day Six 

All week, Dad had promised me Duck Donuts on Friday--Friday treat! (As I took to calling it.) And lo, there were donuts, and they were magical. But we'll talk about those in a second. 

First, though, a note about me and vacation. Normally, when I'm on a long-ish vacation, there comes a point where I start thinking about the things at home--not in a bad, panicky way, but in a sense of, how can I take this vacation sort of atmosphere back home with me?  And then, of course, I do start thinking about projects, and blogging, and things to write, and what I'd like to do at home. So Friday morning I spent some time in Duck's Cottage, writing and thinking about these things, while mom and dad walked around and browsed the shops. 

(I also bought new books. But that's par for the course, in the Cottage. I also bought some of their coconut crunch coffee to take home!) 

So when I was done, Mom and Dad picked me up, and we headed for Duck Donuts. 


There are locations all over the country now, but this is the original shop. The way it works is this: they have one "type" of donut--there aren't Boston cream or strawberry jam filled or anything like that. It's a basic donut, made fresh. What makes it different is the topping options: you can glaze, top, and drizzle to create whatever type of donut you desire! And no matter what, a donut is $1.50--so whether it's plain or abundantly topped, one price. 

You fill out your order sheet, pay, and then pick up your fresh, made to order, heavenly scented donuts .

Here: chocolate dip with rainbow sprinkles, and a simple glaze. 

Here: chocolate dip with rainbow sprinkles, and a simple glaze. 

That was our lunch that day, and it was delicious. 

Dinner was in Corolla again that night, and it was sort of eh. Not my favorite, but it was passable. 

I couldn't believe Friday had come so quickly. That's the thing about vacations, I've noticed--the days are long but the week is short! (And life, in general, right?) I was getting up around 7:45 every day--loads earlier than usual--and going to bed around 9:30 or 10, so my days were longer, but they were nicely full. Or maybe it's just being at the beach? There's something about it that naturally allowed my days to include lots of different activities. 


Saturday, September 2

Saturday, September 2

Day Seven 

It was our last day in Duck. I'm always sad about this, but determined to enjoy the last day--you know the feeling, right? 

I had a visitor during my morning prayer/journal/reading devotional time: 


Our plan on Saturday was to pack, clean the house (in as much as we had to), watch the Pitt game, and then go to Mass in Kitty Hawk and dinner in Kill Devil Hills. If you're not familiar with the Outer Banks, Duck is one of the northern beaches, along with Carova, Corolla, and Southern Shores. Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk are in the middle of the Banks, and there's a lot of activity down there--they're both bigger towns than Duck. 

Mass was...well, less said about that particular parish, the better. Dinner was fun though. We went to the Jolly Roger in Kill Devil Hills, which is an Italian restaurant--but it's so much more than that. The menu was huge, the crab cakes deservedly award-winning, and the decor was fun: 


And our final stop in the OBX was the Duck Donuts nearby, to get breakfast for the next morning--and to get mom a donut, since she hadn't had one during our first trip. 


Sunday morning was gorgeous--we got up a little before 6, in time to catch a sunrise before we left the OBX and headed home. 



Duck: Days 3-4

travelEmily DeArdoComment
Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning was, as you can see, gray. And rainy. And windy. It was going to be a day for indoor things. So I read The Lake House, which I'd picked up at Duck's Cottage on the first day, and we went to The Blue Point for lunch. 

A very wet Duck horse 

A very wet Duck horse 

I like to go to the Blue Point for lunch at least once during a stay in Duck, and Tuesday was our day. We tried to walk along the Waterfront Shops for a bit, but it was just really, really rainy/windy, and sort of gross. So we headed back home, but did venture out again for dinner, this time to Corolla, the town north of Duck, for Italian food at La Dolce Vita. After dinner, we visited the Corolla Village, which is home to the Island Bookshop's Corolla location. And behold, another horse!


We had high hopes that Wednesday would be better, weather-wise, and we weren't disappointed!

Day Four

Wednesday morning

Wednesday morning

The weather was perfect--sunny and breezy, so we spent a lot of time at the beach. The red flags were still up, but you could stand at the edge and let the waves wash over you. Because the moon was heading to full, the tides got stronger every day we were there. 

I experimented with watercolors, read books and magazines, and generally had a great time basking in the ocean. 

Wednesday was our "day in", where we didn't go anywhere except to get ice cream at the Waterfront shops after dinner, and a 1/4 pound of fudge from Candy and Corks (also in the Waterfront shops). It's not a beach vacation until there's some fudge eaten, that's my rule!

It was a nice night, so I took advantage of it to take more horse photos: 



What I read on vacation (and a new book preview!)

booksEmily DeArdoComment

I always read a lot on vacation, especially beach vacations. This year was no exception! So for the bibliophiles among us, here's my reading round-up. Books I bought will be noted, and where I got them! 

Vacation book collage.jpg

The Three Year Swim Club: bought at Duck's Cottage. This book tells the story of Maui's sugar ditch kids--kids whose parents worked on the large sugar plantations and who learned to swim in, yes, ditches. Thanks to the work of an incredibly motivated teacher, these kids formed the Three Year Swim Club, with the goal of qualifying for the 1940 Olympics. A well-written, well-paced and engrossing story for anyone who likes nonfiction/sportswriting. 

Gift from the Sea: I read this years and years ago, and then forgot about it. When I was packing I thought it would make a good devotional, so I tossed it in. I was so right. If you haven't read this little book, please pick it up. It's easy to read, the chapters are incredibly relevant, and it's great devotional reading. So many ideas were sparked by reading Anne Lindberg's words. 

Pride and Prejudice: The more I read this, the more I realize what a true masterpiece it is. It is tightly plotted--nothing is wasted--the story moves so quickly, but the development is true. Jane knew what she was about when she wrote this one. 

Mediterranean Summer: This was one of the first books I bought during my first ever Duck's Cottage trip in 2008, and I love it. I read it twice on this trip! It tells the story of a traveling American chef's summer as the chef of a private Italian yacht. There's food stories, storms at sea, a crazy boat party or two, and the difference between pate and foie gras is explained. (Or not.) And there are recipes! 

The Whole World Over: This and I See You Everywhere are a my favorite Julia Glass novels. This one was one of the first 9/11 novels, but it doesn't feel contrived. It's just great writing, with characters that you think about long after the book is over. 

The Lake House: The second book I bought at Duck's Cottage. This is Kate Morton's newest, fresh in paperback. If you've read her others (like The Forgotten Garden) you know there's usually a strong mystery component. Well, this book kicks it up by actually making it a detective story--as in, detectives are involved! I was completely engrossed, and this is up there with Garden in my estimation. A great vacation read. 

The Cloister WalkOne of my old Kathleen Norrises. Good for devotional reading and quick dipping in and out--the chapters are various essays, some one page, some multiple, but almost all of them are good reading. 

If The Creek Don't Rise: Third from Duck's Cottage. This was....Ok. It had potential that wasn't reached. It's supposed to be the story of Sadie Blue, an Appalachia girl who is stuck in an abusive marriage who wants to learn to read and befriends various people in her community. But it ends up being almost a compilation of short stories and character sketches that add up to few concrete endings and lots of loose ends. Meh. 

The Beach House Cookbook: I picked this up at the Island Bookstore in Corolla. I love a good cookbook, and this one is all about beachy recipes--fun, beach house inspired, but simple, from author Mary Kay Andrews. I'm trying out several of the recipes this week! 

Faithful: Also from the Island Bookstore, except the Duck location. I've been wanting to read this new Alice Hoffman novel for awhile, but was determined to wait for the paperback. Glad I did, but also sad because this was a good book! It's about Shelby, a girl who was in a car accident with her best friend--Shelby survives without a scratch, but her friend is in a coma for the rest of her life. The novel deals with grief, creating a different life for yourself than you imagined, and family relationships. It's a winner. 

War and Peace: Also Island Bookstore, Duck. I know, I know. Beach read? Hardly! But I've been wanting to give it another go in a different translation, and this one seems palatable. 

Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Louisa Adams: Duck's Cottage. I've been wanting to know more about our first ladies, and this biography jumped out at me. Started this one yesterday.

Eat Pretty Every Day: 365 tips for better health. Sounds good to me! In Duck's Cottage there was a display that said "September is the new January", and this book was one of the displayed titles. So, go display creator, you got me to buy it. :) 

And now....a new book preview!

reading people cover.png

I'm on the launch team for Anne Bogel's (Modern Mrs. Darcy) new book, Reading People. It's right up my alley--all about personality types, tools for figuring out your personality type, and how to live with others, based on their personality type. If you liked Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before, I think you'll really like this book. I'll be talking more about it next week, so stay tuned! If this sounds like something you'd enjoy, pre-order and get bonus stuff!  Yay free!  You have to pre-order before September 19th, so move it! 

What good books have you read lately? 




Duck: Days 1-2

travelEmily DeArdoComment

Since we were in Duck a week, I thought I'd break my journal entries up into a few days so that we can really get the goodness. 

We arrived in Duck around 10:30ish, which was part of the plan. We wanted to be over the Wright Brothers Bridge before 11, because that's when we'd heard traffic got nuts. We succeeded, drove to our rental office, and arranged to be called when our house was ready. 

In the meantime, we headed to the Waterfront Shops, where I indulged in visiting Duck's Cottage (AKA, Favorite Place on Earth), bought books, and had coffee while my parents walked around. 

We had lunch at Duck Deli across the street, which was good, and plotted out our grocery shopping list. Then it was back to the Cottage porch to wait for the phone call. I had a great time sketching and journaling from my perch with my Mucky Duck. 

We got called a little after one--our house was ready! Yay! After provisioning at Wee Winks Market (and having an issue with the cashier, but that's another story), we headed to Barrier Island Station, and our condo for the week. 


Our house is the lower deck and the floor beneath; my room is the bay window on the ground floor. 

The house had two levels, with two bedrooms, the laundry room, and a full bath on the ground floor, and the master suite, living room, kitchen, dining room, and porch on the second. So there was a lot of stair climbing involved for me, since my room was on the first floor! But hey, who cares? 

Dad and I were hot from the drive, and it was warm in Duck, so we quickly jumped in the pool and went swimming before dinner. 

We had pizza from Duck Pizza for dinner and we were all ready to go to bed sort of early, because we'd left Williamsburg rather early in the morning (before 8 A.M). 

When I'm at the beach, I always seem to go to bed earlier and get up earlier; I think it has to do with the sun setting and rising earlier than it does in Ohio (about a half hour earlier). And all that fresh air can make you tired!

Day two 

View from our deck of the ocean, Monday morning 

View from our deck of the ocean, Monday morning 

The winds were absolutely nuts, so we couldn't go swimming  in the ocean--in fact, the red flag that screamed NO SWIMMING was up almost all week. If you go into the water when that flag is up, you can be ticketed. We did go swimming in the pool that morning, though. 

We had lunch at the house and then went to the Scarborough Faire and Lane shops before eating dinner at Sooey's Barbecue, a place we'd eaten at before and enjoyed. At Scarborough Faire, I went to the Island Bookshop's Duck location. 

Well, hello, horse and teddy!

Well, hello, horse and teddy!

In Duck, the Winged Horses are a Thing--it's a public art installation celebrating the first flight's centenary in 2003. The horses are everywhere: along road ways, in shopping centers, and in stores. You'll see them a lot in my posts! This one is obviously well-housed in the Island Bookshop! (The horses are all throughout the banks, not just in Duck.) 

We grabbed a cup of coffee at Treehouse Coffee, and then headed to the Scarborough Lane shops, where I spent most of my time in the Spice and Tea Exchange, where I bought some new tea and a seasonings blend. When I was paying for my purchases I looked up--and saw it was pouring. 

"Welcome to the Outer Banks," the lady behind the counter said. Pop-up storms are not at all uncommon. 

We ran to Sooey's for dinner and had some excellent barbecue before heading back to our rental (named Seaside Serenity). By this point, it was crazy windy--a storm was clearly blowing in, quite literally! 



Yarn Along No. 60: Yarn in Colonial Williamsburg

yarn along, history, knittingEmily DeArdo1 Comment
Freshly dyed yarn in the weaver's shop at Colonial Williamsburg

Freshly dyed yarn in the weaver's shop at Colonial Williamsburg

This is an extra special yarn along, because today we're not talking about knitting, we're talking all about yarn! We're taking a field trip to CW and the Weaver's! 

A few months before I visited CW, I heard that it was possible to buy yarn that was completely handmade by the artisans at Williamsburg, using 18th century methods. Of course, this piqued my interest! I knew that I was going to want some of this special yarn. 

The yarn at CW starts with the wool, of course. The wool comes from their herd of Leicester Longwool sheep. 


Leicester Longwools were developed in the mid-18th century by Robert Bakewell of Leicester, England. The breed became popular throughout the British empire; George Washington purchased Leicester Longwools for his flock at Mount Vernon. 

According to the Leicester Longwool Sheep Breeder's Association, "The fleece of the Leicester Longwool is prized by hand spinners and crafters for its curl, soft handle, and lustrous beauty... The wool dyes exceptionally well, maintaining the purity of color; the natural luster still shines through. This premium wool is very versatile, working well for combing for worsted products, carding for woolen products, and felting projects. " 

The sheep are very rare these days, and CW plays a big role in keeping the breed alive. 

So, we have this gorgeous wool, which looks like this, in its raw state: 

Check out that curl! 

Check out that curl! 

The wool is incredibly soft, even in this "raw" state, and really pretty. At least, these pieces are!

The sheep shearing is done by other people. Before it reaches the weavers, the wool also has to be skirted (taking out pieces that are too short or too matted to use), and scoured (cleaned). 

After the wool is clean and dry, it's ready to card. 


Here you can see a few things--raw wool, that needs picked over (in the crock), wool that's been cleaned, but needs carded (back basket), carded wool that's being spun (on the spinning wheel), and finished thread/yarn on a bobbin (in the yellow basket, foreground). The bobbin will go into a shuttle, to be used in weaving, as seen below. 

The weaver is holding the shuttle in her left hand; here, she's weaving linen cloth. 

The weaver is holding the shuttle in her left hand; here, she's weaving linen cloth. 

After the wool is spun, either with a drop spindle or on a spinning wheel, and the appropriate thickness reached (I'm simplifying, massively, for our purposes), it's time to dye!

At CW, there's an entire book about how to dye with their natural dyes. Since the colors are all natural, it's really hard to reproduce exactly the same colors. In fact, it's probably impossible. So when I went to buy my yarn, I chose two skeins that were close--but they're not identical. 

You can see, even dyed in the same vat, they're different--but close enough! The differences really drive home the hand-dyed nature of it, for me. 

You can see, even dyed in the same vat, they're different--but close enough! The differences really drive home the hand-dyed nature of it, for me. 

Here's what the CW website says about 18th century dyeing: 

Nature provided the colors used in dyeing textiles in the 18th century. Today, Colonial Williamsburg’s weavers use the same 18th-century recipes for dyes – all safe enough to drink. An insect called the cochineal from South America makes the color red. 70,000 cochineal are needed to make a pound of red dye that can turn everything from leather to makeup and frosting red – including paint and textiles. Brown comes from walnuts, blue from indigo from South Carolina, Spain, or South America. Purple comes from the Spanish log wood tree, and turmeric from India gives yellow its hue. Orange comes from the root of the madder plant.
Wool is the easiest fabric to dye; cotton is more difficult, and linen is the most difficult of all – the dye tends to sit on the linen, in a sense, not in it. Dyeing was often done on plantations, using different colors of clothing to identify slaves from the same plantation – colorful and expressive folk art came from this practice as slaves used the rich colors to express individuality. (For the rest of the article, click here.) 

As you can see, the weavers at CW get incredible colors from their natural dyes! They were really beautiful, even more so in person. 

I hope this post gives you a taste at how difficult it is to make yarn, especially if you're doing it completely by hand!  I'm so glad I was able to purchase some of it! 

If you go to CW and are looking for yarn, I found it for sale in the Prentis store and at the Milliner's. Be warned: It's going to cost you more than the $10 skein at Jo-Ann's! But I hope after reading this you'll see why, and appreciate the artistry that goes into handcrafting yarn. 

Some articles, if you want more: 

"Everything you've been dyeing to know about 18th century weaving", Making History Now

"Weaver", history.org

"Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing" Colonial Williamsburg Journal

Hamrick, Max. Organic Fiber Dyeing: The Colonial Williamsburg Method. AQS Publishing. 

Colonial Williamsburg

travelEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I've been to Williamsburg before, but it had been a long time--five, six years or so?--and I was excited to come back, because I adore colonial history, but also because there were some new things I wanted to see, like Liberty the briard (their new mascot), and the Market House. And the last time I visited CW, I wasn't a knitter, so I didn't care about the weaver's shop. This time, I wanted to get my hands on some completely CW produced yarn, and I was very interested in visiting the weaver and seeing how colonial yarn and fabric were made. But that is a completely separate post--tomorrow's yarn along. So those of you who love knitting and textiles can geek out with me, and those of you who don't can move along. 

This is an overview post--I'll be doing a post card with specifics--addresses, hours, websites, etc.--later this week. 

We got to Williamsburg on Friday evening, and after checking in at our hotel, we went to Merchant's Square for dinner. It was Freshman move in day for William and Mary, which abuts CW, so there were lots of Bright Young Things and their parents swarming around. But that didn't stop me from getting a Divine Sandwich. 

Virginia Ham and cheddar on French bread, with house dressing. Because you have to have the house dressing at the Cheese Shop. 

Virginia Ham and cheddar on French bread, with house dressing. Because you have to have the house dressing at the Cheese Shop. 

We walked around for a bit and went in and out of the shops before going back to our hotel. The Historic Area opens around 10:00, and I wanted to be there pretty early since it was going to be a warm day (low to mid 80s). I also was going to bring my big sketchbook and I wanted to get in some sketching!

Saturday was a great day. I had three goals for the day: Sketch, meet Liberty, and buy some CW made yarn. The yarn they sell is completely made at CW--the wool is from their Leicester Longwool sheep, and it's made completely on site. Again, more about this tomorrow. I achieved all my goals!

Recently dyed yarn in the weaver's shop 

Recently dyed yarn in the weaver's shop 

Liberty is a briard, a breed of dog probably brought to America by Thomas Jefferson from France. You can read more about Liberty here

I am not really a dog person, but she's so cute! 

There are actually two Liberties--a brother and sister pair of Briards that take turns appearing. These pictures don't really capture it, but she's a pretty big dog! Her handler also said that the breed changes color as they age, which I thought was really interesting. The colors of her fur now are not the colors it'll be as she grows/ages. 

Speaking of animals, I was also really excited to see the Leicester Longwool sheep, which are part of CW's Rare Breeds program. They are super cute! (More on them n the yarn post.) 

Sheep with their herder in front of the Randolph House. 

Sheep with their herder in front of the Randolph House. 


I had a lot of fun sketching the historic district. When you sketch outside, people comment, which I don't mind. It's sort of fun. I'm adding some more notes and collage bits to the pages, so they're not done yet, but when they are, I'll share them here. 

I always love going into the milliner's shop, which sold clothing, accessories, and toiletries, as well as sewing and knitting notions. CW actually has a milliner and mantua (dress) making shop, as well as a separate milliner shop, both based on historic records from the colonial era. In the former, you can see pieces being made and even try on colonial stays. The work the milliners do is exquisite. 

You can buy complete outfits from them, or, if that's too rich (and the outfits cost hundreds of dollars, which makes sense, given the work involved!), there are muffs, mitts (fingerless gloves), hats, handkerchiefs, and other smaller items. 

For lunch, we ate at The King's Arms, one of CW's four taverns. 


I had peanut soup and Virginia ham with sweet potatoes and a tiny biscuit. Delicious. 


On top of the peanut soup are "sippets"--basically day-old pieces of bread that have been toasted, like croutons. Sippets are technically made from Sally Lunn bread, a popular Colonial recipe. Peanut soup is divine. I'll be posting the recipe soon! 

After lunch we spent a few more hours in the historic area before we had to leave to go to Mass at a nearby parish. But we were back for dinner at Chowning's. 

We shared this "crock of cheese". And it was delicious. 

We shared this "crock of cheese". And it was delicious. 

We were seated on the second floor which gave a neat ambiance to the meal. By the end of the meal we were the only ones there! (There were more people below in the two dining rooms on the first floor.) 


CW was a lovely start to our vacation, and a nice break in the 10 hour drive from Columbus to Duck. We got to relax, sleep in nice beds, and have a good time. 

On Sunday we left around 7:30 and headed to the Outer Banks! 


travelEmily DeArdoComment

We're back!

This was one of the longer vacations we've (my parents and I) taken--we left on Friday, August 25, and got back last night, so 10 days of vacation. And every one of those ten days was fantastic.  

I've got so much to write about, especially since our vacation was really like two-in-one--we spent two nights in Colonial Williamsburg before spending the week in Duck, so I've got both places to talk about, and pictures to show, and all sorts of things to discuss--like yarn and colonial weaving and books and the beach. 

So this is just a teaser to say I'm back, happy September, and there's much more coming! 


Food Friday 3: Thoughts on Fruit

food, Food FridaysEmily DeArdoComment

There really aren't any recipes, here. Today I'm just being chatty. 

Everyone knows that we "should" eat many more fruits and vegetables than we do. The problem is most of us say we don't "like" them, or they're too expensive, or we never eat them all before they go bad, so we throw away fruit...

Here is my secret for eating more fruit: 

Get fruit you like to eat. 

That's it. 

I know, earth-shattering, right? 

Now, I know that this is not seasonal. This is not trendy advice. And I will say that if you live near a farmer's market or a fruit farm, by all means, go and get seasonal fruit when you can! It's usually the same price as at the grocery and it will taste great!

However, if you live, as I do, in a place where lemons and limes and bananas and kiwis, etc., do not grow ever in life, then...buy them. I don't do well with no lemons in my kitchen. They are vital to about every one of my favorite dishes, especially the quick ones. Lemons are magic. If you or your kids love bananas, then get them. Eat them. Enjoy them. Eat them like candy! 

I love to get a big bag of cherries and just eat my way through them. They're better than candy, some days. When I can find fresh berries, I do the same thing. They're yummy! They're healthy! EAT THEM!

If you don't like apples, don't buy them even if they are seasonal. If you hate a food, just don't eat it. That's waste. Buy what you like. I've found I like fruit that's small-ish, like cherries, berries, grapes...I can just pop them in my mouth. Apples are OK. They're a good choice to fill in the cracks at a meal, in my world. 

We're talking about eating well, eating good things for your body, in this series. No food, no matter how healthy, is doing you any good sitting on your counter posing for a Vermeer-ish still life. It's just not. 

Roesen, "Still Life with Fruit"

Roesen, "Still Life with Fruit"

Now, that being said--fruit does taste better in its season. But if you are buying it out of season, try to buy the ones that have good color, smell, texture. Learn what you should be looking for, and buy the pieces that fit that criteria as quickly as possible.

Also, there is nothing wrong with frozen or canned fruit! Just get the canned kind that doesn't have five million bits of sugar in the syrup. :) I ate a lot of fruit cocktail as a kid, and it's good! 

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Do what you can with what you have. Remember that seasonality does impart better flavors. But if you live in a place where seasonality would mean kale and rutabagas and potatoes for four months of the year, then be like Laura Ingalls Wilder and get an orange in your Christmas stocking. :) (Technically, blood oranges are a winter fruit, anyway! Score!) 

Also: be like the Italians and the Greeks, and have fruit as your dessert. (I think the French might do this too?) Have a little bit of orange or kiwi or something. Make it a treat. 

Eat what you like, like what you eat (to riff off of Life is Good's logo). Focus on eating the good stuff instead of the not-good stuff. Worry about seasonality and organicness later. 


Dog Days

journalEmily DeArdo4 Comments

Well, not really--we haven't had that oppressive August heat too much this month which normally I'd be OK with, but since I'm going on vacation next week I'd like it to be a bit warmer, where we're going, so I can swim, you know? But I digress. :) 

The last two weeks have been sort of rough, health-wise, because I've got some bug that is just determined not to go away, although at the moment we're blasting it with Cipro and steroids (Cipro is the drug they give you if you have anthrax). And it seems to be helping because I'm feeling slightly more human and more "with it", which is good, because I have packing and knitting to do! 


One of the weird things about post-transplant life is that you can get bugs and no one really knows where they come from or what they are--we just blast 'em with stuff. :) Because my immune system is so out of it, I get stuff that wouldn't even be a blip to regular people. But I never know--and the doctors don't really either--when it could be something bigger. So I tend to be a bit wary now of viruses and things that sneak in and treat them a bit more carefully than I did before, just because I'm not sure where the virus could lead--if that makes any sense. And since none of us are really sure, it can mean random ER visits, like the one I had a few Fridays ago, where dad and I ended up watching pre-season football while I got pain meds and other lovely things because my lungs were being silly and hurting for no reason, but were causing enough problems to make basic moving around difficult. 

So for the past two weeks I've been sort of hanging out and not doing much, mostly because my body won't let me do much; it wants to sit and stare at Sephora reviews all day. I'm trying not to let it do that. But now I'm starting to feel more human and I can knit and prep for vacation and all that fun stuff and not worry so much about viruses. 


Food Friday 2: Open Faced Avocado Sandwich

food, Food Fridays, recipesEmily DeArdoComment

Avocados are AWESOME. Really, they are! It's high in healthy fats (because we do need some fat in our diet, guys!) They contain more potassium than bananas, and are high in antioxidants. 

And did I mention it's delicious

One of the problems is that avocado flesh can become brown quickly once you've started to eat the avocado. So this recipe uses an entire avocado. All you need for this is a toaster (and you can probably do without the toaster, if you want). And it's really not even a recipe. It's so simple it's hardly even cooking!

One of the changes I made back in April was cutting out bread--but not entirely! I stopped eating pasta except on special occasions awhile back, and I honestly don't miss it. But I still loved cereal, bread, all that other carb goodness. And I've decided I can have it, but I have one piece in the bread basket. A soft pretzel is a treat, and usually when I'm having serious salt cravings in the summer (thanks to my CF genes, since my body doesn't regulate salt secretions appropriately. In the summer, I have to be sure I'm getting enough sodium, which means some not-so-healthy treats, like salty pretzels and popcorn, are important for that.) But sometimes you want a sandwich. Or toast. The key is to have one or two pieces--not four. 

I've started using Ezekiel bread (Trader Joe's carries it now! Yay!), which is good toasted. I don't really like it un-toasted. But you might. So try it. 

This is adapted from a Weight Watchers cookbook, and I've actually left out the prosciutto the recipe calls for, because I don't think it really worked here. But hey, if you want to try it, go for it. Just go easy on it. 

Open Faced Avocado Sandwich

Makes four slices 

1 ripe avocado

1 lemon, zest and juice (so zest it first!)

kosher salt


four slices regular bread or Ezekiel Bread

Toast the bread. While that's happening, split the avocado and put the flesh into a mixing bowl. Crush it with a fork to break the flesh into small pieces. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste, and combine with fork until well-mixed. Spread on toast. Place the rest of the mixture in a container such as Tupperware or Pyrex, and refrigerate. Can be used again the next day. 


Sketching Animals and preparing for vacation sketching

drawingEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Sketching animals is not really my forte, but I thought I'd share my completed zoo sketchbook pages with you guys anyway.

The only way you get better is with practice, right? So, here we go. 

OK so the first sketch was of a bonobo. This was first because it was the first really good place where I could sit and observe for awhile. Since I was with my friends and their children I didn't want to drag down their pace, so most of these are pretty quick. All of them are done with colored pencil. 

The bonobo liked to move, as many animals do (obviously), and I tried to catch that by drawing the limbs in a few poses. My favorite part of the sketch is the bonobo arm reaching up for the bar above. The face and all that is just a mess, but that's what happens when I decide to use colored pencils! The arm, though, is done correctly, just wildly out of proportion with the top torso. 

The Flying Fox was drawn in a sort of half-light--this was an indoor exhibit, and since these are nocturnal animals, the fox is hanging upside down, the wings enfolding the body. I tried to get the hard structural edges of the wings, and I think I succeeded pretty well. 

I knew I wanted to get the mandrill's face, since it's so colorful. This guy was very active, but I was able to get the basic shapes and the color variations on his fur. 

The flamingo is probably my favorite. They were out in full sun, and this one was quite obliging and stood still for awhile while I got the basic shape and did some shading with the feathers. I was going to color her in later, but one of the little girls I was with asked me to do it then, and I'm glad I obliged!

This one was drawn inside, with light coming in from above, so I decided to do it in a deep indigo pencil and just get the outlines of the langeurs sitting on their beam. (There are a ton of ways to spell "langeurs" as I found out when I did an Internet search--this is how it was spelled on the exhibit sign). This started as a single line contour and then I went back in and drew heavier lines to differentiate the animals, with the one closest to me getting a bit of his facial fur drawn in. 

The other thing I need to remember next time is to bring the pencil sharpener! 

I'm working on prep for my first vacation with my sketchbooks, and I'm really excited. I think I've got my palette set. We're going to Colonial Williamsburg and the Outer Banks, so I need a variety of colors. I'm definitely going to be playing with mixes. I'll be doing some trip prep (Liz Steel inspired) sketches in my big book over the next few weeks. 


Happy St. Dominic's Day!

Dominicans, dominican saints series, CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment

Happy Feast of St. Dominic! Today is a big day for me since I'm a Lay Dominican, and I intend to make it a good Feast Day!

If you're asking, St. Dominic who? Go here

For more on some of my favorite Dominican saints, go here

And today would be a great day to pray the rosary, since St. Dominic was the one who got it from Mary, and all that. :) From my St. Dominic piece: 

Besides the Dominican order, St. Dominic gave the church another treasure: the rosary. The rosary was given to St. Dominic at Prouilhe in 1214. Bl. Alain de la Rouche, a Dominican priest, spread devotion of the rosary in the 15th century. The habit of Dominican friars, nuns, and sisters includes a rosary worn on the left side of the body, where knights use to wear their swords, since St. Dominic said that the power of the rosary was more powerful than any other weapon. Pope Pius XI said that, "The Rosary of Mary is the principle and foundation on which the very Order of Saint Dominic rests for making perfect the life of its members and obtaining the salvation of others." 



Summer adventures

journalEmily DeArdoComment

One of the great things about summer is the desire people have to get out and do things, and my friends and I are no exception. When you live in Ohio, or really any place with four seasons, you know that Winter Is Coming, and you won't be able to do these things!

My friend Gary and his wife Adelle brought their gorgeous baby daughter to meet us two weeks ago at the Columbus Hofbrauhaus. 

Me, baby A, and Tiff

Me, baby A, and Tiff

A bunch of us have been friends since high school (or more, in most cases), and we still love to get together, even though with kids and jobs and other responsibilities it's not as easy as it used to be. So it's even more fun when we get together now. And when adorable babies are involves, I'm all for it! 

Last Thursday, I went to the Columbus Zoo with one of my college friends, his wife, and their four children. They have a zoo membership and they graciously extended a free guest pass to me. I hadn't been to the zoo in years and it was great to be there with friends whom I also don't get to see that often, since they live about two hours away, and I hadn't even met the new baby yet!

Blurry, but that's what happens when you take a photo while you're holding a baby!

Blurry, but that's what happens when you take a photo while you're holding a baby!

The oldest girl especially liked to watch me sketch the animals and was very helpful in holding my pencils, giving me color advice, and asking good questions. We had a lot of fun drawing this flamingo!

She also liked the colors on the mandrill. Drawing animals is not, currently, my forte, but this was good for practice, and fortunately the flamingo stayed still! (Unlike the mandrill, who kept moving, so his face is a bit of a composite. But the essence of it is there. I love his colors.) 

Doing things in the summer was really hard pre-transplant--the heat and humidity, plus crappy lungs, really wore me out. It's still sort of hard because I have to make sure I'm amply covered in SPF, that the UV index isn't too high, and that salty things are readily available to eat. But before transplant, going to the zoo with four kids would've been impossible. I'd have dropped from exhaustion after two exhibits! So getting to do things like this are extra special to me.  


Food Friday 1: Salmon with mustard dill sauce

food, Food Fridays, recipesEmily DeArdoComment

This is one of the easiest and most made recipes in my healthy food box. I hope it makes it to your house, too!

I love fish, almost all of it. And that's a good thing, because we can get a lot of great nutrition from fish, especially salmon. It's an excellent source of high quality protein (which keeps you feeling full longer), potassium, selenium, and vitamin b12. They're also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to healthy brain, heart, and joint function, as well as general well-being. It's a power-packed bit of fish!

I know fish can be pricey, so try to find the best and most affordable source in your area. Even adding it to your diet once a week can reap great benefits. 

(And for the Catholics among us, it's good to stockpile fish dishes in the recipe boxes to use on Fridays during Lent, or every Friday, if you want to do that, or your diocese requires it.) 

This dish takes maybe 20 minutes, and 10 of those are preheating the oven. 

Salmon with mustard dill sauce

(from the book Dinner: A Love Story)

4 6 oz. salmon fillets, skin removed

kosher salt


1/2 cup Greek yogurt (any fat content, but I usually go 0%)

one lemon

1 heaping teaspoon dijon mustard

1/4 tsp. dried dill weed


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. While that's happening, place the salmon on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. (If you have a stoneware baking stone, that's great for this too, and easy clean up!) Sprinkle salt and pepper over the fillets and roast for 10-15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, add the yogurt, salt, pepper, dill weed, and mustard to a mixing bowl. Add half of the lemon, whisk together, and add the rest of the lemon if needed. Taste for seasoning and adjust as required. 

When the salmon's done, place it on a plate and top with the sauce. 


I use one fillet for me, and eat all the sauce. It's delicious and healthy and so filling. 

Roasted cherry tomatoes, or even raw ones, are good served along side this. You can also put them in a hot pan with some extra virgin olive oil and toss them around for a few minutes, until they start to blister/open, and serve. 

You can get fresh dill weed, but I prefer the dried, because it's more cost friendly (given how often I make this). 


New weekly series!

food, recipes, Food FridaysEmily DeArdoComment

So I've missed writing every week in Catholicism 101, but I haven't had any great ideas for a new weekly series, until recently. 

I'm going to be sharing healthy and easy recipes once a week. I know, there are five bazillion recipe sites out there. But I'm going to do this differently: one recipe a week, with some background about it, including why I love it. The recipe will be healthy and simple. It will not be overwhelming. It will cover dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even things you can take to parties that are healthy. 

Healthy in this context doesn't really subscribe to any particular bent. It's not paleo. It's not the Mediterranean diet. It's not vegetarian. It's just...simple, easy, yummy food that doesn't have a million ingredients. 

Since Easter, I've been implementing a new way of eating and I've lost 22 pounds so far. I'm really happy with this, but that doesn't mean that there haven't been hard parts. So I want to encourage people with these recipe suggestions, and show that just because you want to lose weight doesn't mean you have to abandon cooking, you don't have to use weird fraken-food substitutes, and it can still be yummy and delicious and simple

For a sample of what this will look like, this post is a good template. 

I'm excited to be sharing this with you--and maybe some food tips along the way? We'll see!


On The Town

journalEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Tiffany and I have been best friends since we were freshmen in high school--so, holy cow, 21 years now. She and her husband, Bill, like to take me out for my transplant anniversary, so it's the one night a year we go out on the town to a fancy restaurant and eat great food and have fun together. 

This year we went to Mitchell's steak house, and then afterwards to the Book Loft in German Village, which is a bookstore in an old house. It's fantastic. If you've never been there, come the next time you're in Columbus. It's 30 some rooms of books, and fun things like Baby Lit buttons: 

It's really sweet of them to do this for me. They're good people.