Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Seven Quick Takes--Writing Updates, Birthdays, A Wedding....

7 Quick Takes, family, writing, the bookEmily DeArdo4 Comments
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

-I-

If you missed it, my sister got married last week!

It was a beautiful day! I’ll have more about travel logistics up soon, as well as the second part of my April trip…..bad me, I know! I’m being a slacker blogger!



-II-

But I have a reason to be slacker blogger—it’s time for edits! Which means:


I got edits up to Chapter 11 (there are 15 main chapters, plus the prayer section, and the intro and preface, so 17 chapters and prayers) from my editor yesterday, so now it’s time to DIVE IN. So if it’s quiet around here, that’s why. Amuse yourselves by looking through the archives!

(Or buy Catholic 101! $5!)

-III-

So yes, I’ll be in the office, by Corgi corner, writing. :)

What is Corgi Corner?

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This. :)

It’s a Corgi Calendar that my friend Sarah sent me for my birthday, a card with a leaping corgi on the cover, and my Susan Branch Royal Corgi mug, because hello it’s THE BEST.

I fill the mug with tea, and I write. Corgi corner keeps me going!


-IV-

Happy First Day of Summer! It’s been so rainy here that when the sun is out I feel like Gollum:

It’s only going to be 75 today so not quite warm enough to swim, but warm enough to get outside and squint at the bright thing in the sky!

-v-

We’re hitting the big Birthday Stride in our family: Dad’s birthday was on Wednesday, my new brother in law’s is today, my mom’s is tomorrow, mom and dad’s anniversary (their fortieth!) is on the 30th, and that’s also my grandma’s 89th birthday.

WHEW!

-VI-

The trip to CO was our big trip of the summer so the rest of the summer is delightfully free. Of course I’m working on edits because they’re due before the Fourth of July, but after that, who knows what’s going to happen? Well, other than clinic in July—the big yearly testing date, with CTs and bone density scans—and then my fourteenth transplant anniversary on the 11th!

-VII-

I also need to update you about books I’m reading but we’ll do that later…..I’ll add it to my blog list. In the meantime, tell me what you’re reading! I’m always looking for new titles to pick up!

A Wedding In the Mountains: Melanie and Jason

essays, family, travelEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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(Photos by Mel’s photographer, not me! :) )

My sister got married last week, and I have a new brother!

We’re excited about this. :)


The wedding was on June 13 at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.

This is a beautiful church! Pope St. John Paul II visited it during World Youth Day in Denver in 1993.

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The church was stunning……so here are pictures (especially for family members who couldn’t come, but really, for everyone, because we all need beauty!)

St. Francis with Brother Elk. I saw quite a few people coming to pray here while we were there. It seems like a really popular devotional spot in Estes Park!

St. Francis with Brother Elk. I saw quite a few people coming to pray here while we were there. It seems like a really popular devotional spot in Estes Park!

Isn’t she gorgeous?!

Isn’t she gorgeous?!

The stained glass windows around the nave showcased the sacraments. Thought this one was especially appropriate!

The stained glass windows around the nave showcased the sacraments. Thought this one was especially appropriate!

The altar and tabernacle—the tabernacle has the five loaves and two fishes on it.

The altar and tabernacle—the tabernacle has the five loaves and two fishes on it.

View from the doors

View from the doors


It’s a really gorgeous church, with a statue of the Sacred Heart, a St. Michael window in the choir loft, and last but not least, a really amazing priest! He gave a beautiful homily on how marriage is about joy and sorrow, how marriage really begins the time you have your first fight (basically) or have a bad/sad moment, and how marriage is about being selfless, instead of selfish, because you’re one now. You’re not two. It was appropriate he spoke about joy, because that’s my sister’s middle name! I wish I had a copy of the homily, it was so inspiring.

The reception was intimate, held at a local steakhouse. But there was still cake (well, cupcake) smashing….

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And a first dance….



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I was a bridesmaid, so I was busy throughout the day and didn’t have time to take a ton of pictures, but that’s what I have. :)

We stayed at The Stanley Hotel (AKA, where Stephen King got the inspiration for The Shining) and my room had a great view:

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So, that’s all I have right now, in terms of photos, but it was a lovely, intimate wedding in a gorgeous place, and I’m so happy for my sister and my new brother in law! :)


Stitch Fix Is Back!

Stitch FixEmily DeArdoComment

I know some of you have been asking about my Stitch Fix posts, and they’re back! Yay! I forgot to do one for my April fix, because it came right after I got back from Denver. Actually, it had come while I was in Denver so I had to hurry up and try things on! So no time for photos. But it was a good fix and I kept two things from it.

This fix was even better—I kept everything! Yay!

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If you’re new here, Stitch Fix is a personal styling service. Here’s how it works:

Stitch Fix is an online styling service that delivers a truly personalized shopping experience, just for you. Fill out your Style Profile and a personal stylist will hand pick pieces to fit your tastes, needs and budget—and mail them directly to your door. Each box contains five items of clothing, shoes and accessories for you to try on at home. Keep what you love, send the rest back in a prepaid USPS envelope. Shipping and returns are free—even for exchanges!

The Style Profile is really detailed--it's just not stuff like your weight and height. They want to know as much about you and your style as possible, from how much skin you like to show, to your proportions, and what kind of trends and styles you'd like to try. You can even set a price range for individual categories and ask them not to send certain things. For example, in my Style Profile, I ask for no bracelets, rings, or just about any type of shoe other than a flat or heel. 

There's also a place to add a link to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest Style Board, so your stylist can get a feel for what you like. Finally, there's the "style note", where you can ask for specific items, talk about events that are coming up (I mentioned my brother's wedding in the spring), or generally discuss your style or anything you'd like to see in the box. 

So, after you fill out the Style Profile, you will pay $20 as a styling fee. This is taken off any items you decide to keep in your Fix, so I look at it as a down payment on whatever's in the box. Keep in mind that a real person will personally select all five items that come in your box for you, based on what you've told him/ her. 
To see all my previous Stitch Fixes (including what happens when you’re not happy with your stylist), go here.

So, this time, I was sent outfits, really. It was the normal five pieces, but they seemed to break into three pretty clear outfits—two tops, two skirts, and a dress.

I still don’t have a full-length mirror here at Orchard House, so I persuaded my dad to take the photos. Hence, the quality is…..iffy. (I love my dad, and he has taken some really good photos, but it’s not his favorite thing to do.) I’m wearing my Maritime Navy Rothy’s with everything. (And yes, I LOVE Rothy’s, they’re much better than Tieks—more comfortable and you can wash them!)

Outfit #1:

41 Hawthorne Eliee Lace Detail Mixed Material Blouse, $54.00

French Grey Rani Brushed Knit Skirt $44.00

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So, first off, this skirt has POCKETS. That made me love it right away. It’s also really soft material and in a different print—I don’t have anything with these colors, at all. I loved it with the blue top, which could be worn with jeans, or with skirts, and if I throw a cardigan over it, it can go to church or anywhere professional. Also, the fun detailing keeps it looking fresh and unique.





Better look at the detailing

Better look at the detailing


Verdict: Kept


Outfit #2

41 Hawthorn Ezide Textured Print Top, $58.00

Colette Mali Brushed Knit Skirt, $44.00

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This is probably my favorite outfit of the three. I love this coral-pink color and the skirt is, of course, awesome. (Can you tell I love a good skirt?) Again, this top can be dressed up or down, and the skirt can be as well—I could wear a t-shirt with it, or something dressier like this.

Verdict: Kept!


Outfit #3

41 Hawthorn Neal Dress, $68.00

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OK, so OBVIOUSLY, the first thing here is, I Need a different bra. OR I need to wear a cardigan over this.

But, that obvious note aside, I did like this. I didn’t think I would, but I did. I have a cardigan (from J. Crew years ago) that will work over this until I find a proper bra. But this is a fun, lightweight summer dress that is unique enough to stand out and yet classic enough to wear it places without feeling like a fashion victim. (Does that make sense?)

Verdict: Kept

If you’re an old hand at these posts, you know that you get a 25% discount if you keep all the items in your fix. So, even though at first I wasn’t nuts about the dress, it was worth it to keep it, because it was essentially free. The $20 styling fee is deducted from the price of what you keep, as well.

I was really pleased with this fix. My stylist has been hitting it out of the park lately, so I’m very pleased with that.

If you want to try Stitch Fix yourself, here’s the link. You get $25 toward any purchase, and I get $25 toward my next Fix. Stitch Fix also styles men and kids now as well, and it’s available in the UK! Yay!

If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments box!

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Also, just a note. If you want to make sure that you’re getting all my posts as soon as they’re published, and don’t want to rely on your newsfeed on FB, then subscribe to the blog! You will get all the posts when they’re published, a monthly newsletter (“Notes from Orchard House”, which is not a blog post!), and all the book news first! So you get the first bite at the apple for beta readers, giveaways, any sort of special book things, as well as news about pre-orders and speaking engagements and all the fun stuff!

You can sign up on the side bar, or by going here.


Postcard: Denver

travelEmily DeArdoComment
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It’s the first Colorado Trip Postcard!

I spent time in three main places when I visited Colorado last month: Denver, Littleton, and Buena Vista. Today is the Denver/ Littleton post card, and the Buena Vista one is coming after. So stay tuned for that.

The first thing to know is that, since I stayed with my sister, there’s no hotel recommendations here. So sorry about that! At the end of each post there will be a roundup of links and information of places I visited so you have the information at hand if you want to visit them too!

****

Wednesday

I flew from Port Columbus to Denver International on United. I flew United Economy, and I have to say it was a nice flight. United has screens on the back of all the seats so you can watch TV in flight, so I got to watch some HGTV and a bit of hockey while I read The Flight Attendant on my iPad.

As we know, Denver is at altitude. In Denver and Littleton, the only symptoms I noticed was that I got winded more easily, so I had to move more slowly than I usually do, but that was it. My symptoms were worse when we went to Buena Vista, which is at a higher altitude, but in Denver proper it wasn’t too bad. (In addition to my lung issues, I’m also anemic, which doesn’t help things!)

My sister picked me up and we went to the Tavern in Littleton for dinner. The burger is great here, as are the chips and salsa. The salsa is sweet, which is what I prefer, over really hot or spicy.


Thursday

This was a great day! I went with Mel and her fiance, Jason, to Union Station in Downtown Denver. Two of her friends, Jess and Bethany, were flying into Denver and taking the light rail from the airport to Union Station. Union Station is also a working Amtrak station, which was so cool.

Inside Union Station

Inside Union Station

One of the best things about Union Station is that there’s so much to do there—and you can do nothing. There are many tables, chairs, and other comfortable seating options for people to talk and relax (or in my case, sketch!) There is the bar, as seen here, and also a great coffee shop.

We had brunch at Snooze, which is a breakfast/brunch/lunch place, sort of like Scramblers or First Watch here in Ohio. The menu was full of great options but I finally decided on the Shrimp and Grits (in my opinion the eggs added nothing, so I just removed them and ate the glorious rest of the dish)

Shrimp and grits do not need eggs. They are glorious as they are. (And these were glorious.)

Shrimp and grits do not need eggs. They are glorious as they are. (And these were glorious.)


There is a small branch of Denver’s Tattered Cover bookstore in Union Station, but we walked a block or two down the street to the original location, which was fabulous.

What makes a fabulous indy bookstore? First off, selection. I want a broad selection of books, not just current best sellers or popular books. I want to be able to dig around and find Penguin Clothbound editions (Which happened here!), or books I’ve never heard of but look interesting. I want there to be lots of shelves to explore and fun things to look at that aren’t books (things like bookmarks, socks, pens, tote bags, etc.). If there are places to sit down and read for awhile, even better….and if there’s coffee or other treats? YES PLEASE!

Tattered Cover checked all these boxes and more, so I was really pleased with this experience.

After that we went back to Union Station to wait for Mel’s second friend to arrive, and I sketched a bit, had some great coffee, and read my books.

We had dinner reservations that night at Linger in Denver, but first we stopped at ViewHouse in Littleton for some snacks:

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You can see why it’s called ViewHouse…..

You can see why it’s called ViewHouse…..

Dinner, like I said, was at Linger, which is sort of a tapas-y place—meaning that the entrees are shared, but they’re not really big, so you order a few of them. This was my least-favorite place to eat in Denver, mostly because it just wasn’t my kind of food. Maybe my taste buds were off for some reason? But it just seemed like it was trying too hard to be trendy, and the flavors got lost.

BUT all was redeemed by a trip to Little Man Ice Cream!

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We ate ice cream at the little tables outside, since it was such a nice night, and this was really delicious.

After that, we went back to Mel’s house, and the next day we headed to Buena Vista! (That’s Part II)

Where I Visited—Links and Information

Tavern Littleton: 2589 West Main Street, Littleton, CO 80120, 303.730.7772 https://www.tavernhg.com/littleton

Union Station: 1701 Wynkoop, https://unionstationindenver.com/

Snooze at Union Station: https://unionstationindenver.com/dine/snooze-an-am-eatery/

Tattered Cover: 2526 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO 80206, 303-322-7727, https://www.tatteredcover.com/

ViewHouse: 2680 W. Main Street, Littleton, CO 303-797-4829 (other locations around Denver), http://www.viewhouse.com/

Linger: 2030 W. 30th Avenue, 303-993-3120, lingerdenver.com

Little Man Ice Cream: 2620 16th Street, 303-455-3811 https://www.littlemanicecream.com/



Seven Quick Takes Of Random

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment
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Linking up with Kelly!

-1-

This really is just going to be very random. No catchy titles this week. :)

ICYMI, here’s what’s been on the blog this week:

Yarn Along #90
Last Week’s Seven Quick Takes—You Are Not A Mistake


—2—

I’m getting a Stitch Fix box today! So I will have a post about that next week. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve done one, but one is coming soon! :)

—3—

This week has been sort of odd, one of those weeks that feels long and short, you know? It’s been so rainy here that I haven’t been able to swim much, but my little herb garden is going bonkers, so that’s good. I’m going to have to freeze a lot of basil!


—4—

Sort of going off what I wrote about last week, more thoughts: I like myself.

Now, don’t take that the wrong way. What I mean is, even if I could “remove” the CF from me, I wouldn’t, because then I wouldn’t be me. Does that make sense? I’d be someone else, and I rather like being me.


—5—

I guess that can segue into what’s been popular on Catholic Twitter this week, which is how you dress for church.

My mom never let my sister or I wear jeans to Mass. Or shorts. So I don’t wear shorts to Mass even now (I don’t really wear shorts, period). I have worn jeans, when I’ve been out doing other things and then gone to Mass, and on retreat I certainly wear jeans for all of the Masses except Sunday. But even then, they’re not “jeggings” or otherwise super tight.

The argument this time was about—shoulders.

Basically, ladies and gents, this is how I see it. If you’re going to Mass, dress like you’re meeting the mayor/president/queen/pope. You don’t have to wear a tiara or a poufy dress, but think about how you look and what you’re going to do. Even if you wear jeans, make sure they’re clean and not insanely revealing.

Although, I mean, if you want to wear a tiara, go for it….


Shorts—need to cover the business, guys. Come on now. Don’t wear something to Mass that is more appropriate for the beach or the boardwalk or Kennywood (amusement park in the ‘Burgh). If shorts aren’t at least covering your butt, then they are failing in their purpose, right?
But shoulders….yeah. OK. You can find sleeveless tank tops (tank tops! Not spaghetti strap camis!) that are fairly modest, like ones from Talbots. With these, you’re not showing an insane amount of skin, but you’re cool. In the summer, I love to wear my Land’s End Fit and Flare dresses (I wore one in my new headshots, which you’ll see next week!), but I put a cami under them, and generally a cardigan over them if I’m going to Mass. (If I’m just going out to dinner, say, I’ll still wear the cami/tank top under them, but not the sweater.)

But look folks. If it’s 90 some degrees, which it can be in my part of the world in the summer, and it’s that hot in church, the cardigan’s not even going to make it through the collect. Please make sure that the churches are appropriately cool so that I don’t faint from heat stroke if I’m wearing a cardigan over my dress.

(And yes—my mother’s home parish didn’t have A/C until I was in high school. So, yes, I know, we all survived without A/C. I don’t know. Maybe we were better adapted as a species, maybe we were just tougher, maybe we were just used to it, I got nothing. But I know that this girl is heat sensitive—thanks, prednisone!—, and so I’d rather not faint in the pew.)

When I dress for Mass, I’m not thinking about being an “occasion of sin” for the men in my parish. I’m thinking about dressing properly to see Jesus and to worship him. And yeah, proper dressing means that, to quote Mother Teresa, God probably doesn’t want to see so much of me. LOL.

Church isn’t the pool, folks.

So that’s all I’m gonna say about that. :-D I mean, really, it’s just common sense. And some fashion trends are just awful and we should all avoid them, right? Like the destroyed jeans look? What’s the deal there, y’all?

—6—

In the “Things the Church Does Well” file: helped invent sign language!


—7—

Like I said above, I should have my “corrected” (read: touched up) headshots next week and I will share them! Yay!!!! It was hard to choose the final winners but I hope you guys like them.

Yarn Along #90 (AKA, finishing the WIPs!)

yarn along, books, knittingEmily DeArdo4 Comments

Oh my gosh, so much knitting stuff to tell you! :)

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Settle in….

So one of the things I made a priority when I moved to Orchard House was finishing my works in progress! I had four going on, and now I have one so I am insanely happy about that.

One of them, the sans kerchief, is basically a really big linen square, and it has a ton of mistakes in it, so I basically used it as a big swatch, to see how linen works. I did it in Quince and Co’s sparrow (truffle colorway, gorgeous!) and I even put it in the washer and dryer, and it held up! So this is my linen “full of mistakes” swatch. :) But it’s off the needles and done and I’m sure I’ll find some uses for it around the house.

(No, there is no picture of it. :) )

I started another linen project: The Dahlia scarf with the sparrow yarn, in eleutherea this time. It is gorgeous.

Here it is, before I wound it:

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Really, I wanted a lightweight, long scarf I could wear in the summer and not melt. :) So I chose this nice blue. I also had made another scarf in this pattern—the main photo at the top.

That was one of the WIPs and I just cast it off. It’s not as long because I ran out of the original color yarn and stupidly didn’t buy two skeins when I should have, so it’s got a bit of contrast yarn at the bottom, but I didn’t want to do the whole rest of the scarf that way, so I just cast off. But it’s lovely anyway!

The third project I’m working on is actually a gift, so I’m not going to show it here, and it’s not completely done yet, but it will be by the time I’m going to give it! :) It’s one of my basketweave scarfs, and y’all know what those look like. :)

So currently, I have three WIPs—the new Dahlia scarf, the gift, and the supermoon kerchief that I started eons ago and really need to finish! :)

I’m reading Susan Branch’s Girlfriends, which I was lucky enough to find a copy of, since it’s hard to find! I’m also re-reading my opera guides because I’m re-watching Wagner’s Ring cycle, because I’m a nerd like that. But it’s actually really good knitting music. :)

Seven Quick Takes--You Are Not a Mistake

7 Quick Takes, life issues, the bookEmily DeArdo1 Comment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

-1-

OK, It’s about to get really earnest and passionate in here, folks. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

With all the new pro-abortion laws coming out, the number of tweets I’ve seen, and articles I’ve read, about how mothers “need” to abort children who are disabled makes me want to scream. There’s nothing quite like the experience of being told that you are not worthy of living to make you really angry.


So we’re just gonna lay it all out here:

If you are a person with a “genetic anomaly”, like me:

You deserve to be here.

You are loved. You are here because God loved you so much that he wanted to create you. And here you are. You are not a burden. You are not a mistake. You are a beloved child of God.

Any one else who says anything else? Deserves to be smacked upside the head. (Verbally, at least.)

—II—

DO NOT give in to these people, my fellow genetic mutations. :) You are WORTH EXISTENCE. If I never write anything else, ever again, please remember that. Please remember that you are loved beyond all measure by God who created you.


-III-

Remember Pope Benedict:

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-IV-

OK, is that enough angst for you? And passion?

Because, seriously, folks. Seriously.


-V-

Onto other things! I have submitted my draft! YAY!!!! The first hurdle is cleared in the journey toward Real Bookdom! Yay!!!!!!

-VI-

If you just cannot wait until January to read a book of mine, Catholic 101 is available now and is five bucks!

-VII-

I have scrummy linen yarn sitting in my mailbox that I have to go fetch, so we’ll wrap this up. But remember.

You are not a mistake.


Seven Quick Takes--the book has a title, the Jane Re-Read, and summer kicks off!

7 Quick Takes, writing, current projects, booksEmily DeArdoComment

-I-

Hi everyone! Happy Memorial Day Weekend (if you’re in the U.S.)! It’s sort of the unofficial kick off to summer, so there will be barbecues and parties all over the place, and I begin the Great Jane Re-Read, where I re-read Jane Austen’s novels every summer. Want to join me? I’m starting with Sense and Sensibility.


-II-

In case you missed it, my book has a title! It’s a great one! I’m really excited! (Can you tell?) As soon as pre-orders open I will share it here. And, again, as a reminder: If you want book news first, before anyone else, sign up for the mailing list.


-III-

In other book-y news….

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Better Together is Take Up & Read’s new summer study! I just got my copy yesterday and she’s beautiful!

This book is all about Biblical Hospitality. Sometimes we get scared of hospitality, because we think we need to have the perfect house and the perfect food and the perfect playlist. That’s not what God calls us to do at all. Hospitality is simply sharing and gathering with people. We aren’t meant to do Christianity alone. Let’s get over the idea that hospitality has to be perfect!

This book would make a great summer study—I do hope you’ll join us!

-IV-

The big event of the summer is that my sister is getting married in Estes Park, CO, in June. So we’re all in the midst of preparing for that. I’ve got my packing list written but I haven’t actually started packing yet. And yes, I know I owe you a Denver travelogue, so that is coming, I promise!

-V-

This California bill is a terrible idea, on multiple fronts—if you live in California, email your reps about this?

The confessional has to be a place of absolute confidentiality. It just does. The state can’t mess with this, or it puts priests in a horrible position—they will either go to jail, or be excommunicated. And it put us, the laity, in a terrible position, because how can you be totally open in confession if you know the priest can repeat what you say? (Not that any priest worth his ordination would.)

No bueno, California! Stop it!

(article version of the video above here)

-VI-

Final edits for the book are being done! Well, not final final. Final as in, for the first draft. My editor will be getting me notes and I imagine next week will be a flurry of back and forth sending. :)

-VII-

And while Memorial Day is the kick off of summer in the U.S., let’s remember what it’s really about.




Coming January 2020-- Living Memento Mori: My Journey Through The Stations of the Cross

the bookEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Exciting news!

My book has officially been “launched” At Ave Maria Press, which means we have a title and a publication month!


Drumroll……….



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I love this title, but I know that you might be going, Memento huh?

Let me ‘splain.

Memento Mori is Latin for, "Remember that you will die" or, "remember death." Like a "memento" is something we have that reminds us of a person, place, or event, so memento mori is an item that is used to remind you that you will die, like a skull on your desk.

We do, as Christians, need to remember that we will die, that this world isn't all there is. A lot of us are in denial about this. 

So, that's what the first part of the title means--living with the knowledge that you are going to die. I've done that for an awful lot of my life, and that's a big part of the book.

The book examines this through the lens of the stations of the cross. So, each chapter is based around one of the 14 (well, 15, if you count the resurrection, which we are) stations--talking about Jesus' suffering, about our suffering, about memento mori, and using Pope St. John Paul II's letter On the Meaning of Human Suffering. 

It sounds like a lot, and it is, but it's a great "lot." I am trying to make it informative, hopeful, joyful (to an extent that the cross is joyful!--think "felix culpa"--O Happy Fault!), and with lots of C.S. Lewis references. 

So that’s what the title means!

January 2020 is the month before Lent starts—we get a February start next year, so may I suggest this will be FABULOUS Lenten reading?

Seven Quick Takes--The First Draft Exists!

7 Quick Takes, Catholic 101, current projects, hearing loss, Seven Quick Takes, writingEmily DeArdo2 Comments
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

I.

The FIRST DRAFT EXISTS!

Yay!

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When I first got the contract information, the fact that Ave Maria wanted a first draft by June 1 was daunting to some people I talked to. “Can you do it in two months?”

HELL YES I CAN.

II.

Why was I so confident?

Because I have journalism training. And political training.

And when you have both of those, you learn to write quickly, on ridiculous deadlines.

Deadlines? WHAT DEADLINES.

So, thank you to Professor Kelly Messinger in college for all the Chimes Wednesday nights where we ate Chipotle and wrote into the wee hours! And edited! And wrote! And edited!

III.

Now, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy, because sometimes….


But then I apply my Maxim: You cannot edit a blank page.

Get anything on the page. Anything. Let it sit there and then come back later and edit it. You never know what can happen.

Chapter 10, for example? WENT OFF THE RAILS. I had no idea where I was going with that one, and we went somewhere I had not anticipated. But there it is!

(It might not stay the way it is. LOL.)

IV.

Speaking of writing—my ebook, Catholic 101, is now $5!

That’s it. Five bucks, y’all.

Go get it!


V.

I also promise to have the Denver travel posts up next week. This week was just nuts, with getting the first draft done….oh, and getting a new CI processor!!!!!!!

VI.

So, if you want more on the CI, you can visit my series here. Basically I was glad to have hearing, but the processor I had had shortcomings. I couldn’t use the phone.

Now….I might be able to use the phone! I mean, what?!

I can listen to my voicemails and understand them!

So far, this new processor is a game changer.


VII.

Oh, one more thing about the draft—a question I’ve been getting a lot is, “Well, didn’t you have to write the book before you submitted it?”

Short answer: No. Most places, for non-fiction, want a proposal, with a chapter sample, but not the whole book. I’ll talk more about the parts of the process later (especially in my newsletter!). But, no. I had to write the book to the proposal specs.




Seven Quick Takes--manuscript work, mammogram redux, and sketching!

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdo1 Comment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

-1-

First off, if you missed it, earlier this week I wrote about how you can’t snap out of depression.
I
f you think you can do that, please read that post.

If you don’t think you can do that, please read that post.
Mental health is so important, and we, as a society, need to realize that it’s just as real as any other illness.

-2-

I know I promised y’all a Denver/Colorado travel write up. It’s COMING. I swear. I’m in the weeds on the manuscript because I need to have it all written by next Friday for my editor. There are only two more chapters to draft! YAY!!!!!

So once all that goes to my editor extraordinaire, then we edit, edit, edit, and polish, for two weeks, before we send it to the publisher.

-3-

In OTHER book news, I will have a pub date by the end of the month!


If you are a blog subscriber, you will get the news first. Everyone else will hear AFTER YOU.

So, if you want all book news first, plus the chance to have access to fun book things (yet to be determined, but totally fun), then sign up for the mailing list.


-4-

In the last edition I wrote about my first mammogram. Wellllllll…..

We had to do it again. Because there was something in the picture that the radiologist thought was me moving, although both the tech and I were like, there was no moving.

Anyway. Went back yesterday to take the pictures again, and this time, they are fine, both in quality and in terms of what’s there. So, normal! Yay!

All that to say, again: Ladies. Get your mammograms when you need to. Whether that’s 40, which is the normal recommendation, or earlier (if you have family history of breast cancer), do it.


-5-

Some of you may remember that I dabble in sketchbook keeping. Well, I’m back to that! Yay! I’m really glad because I enjoyed it, and I just haven’t had time to do it. I really kickstarted myself during the trip to Colorado, and now I’ve been working pretty steadily on filling books. Most of my work isn’t amazing, but you know, I’m happy with it. And it’s fun, which is important.

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I’m also working on some long-buried knitting projects, like a linen kerchief I started years ago when I was first learning to knit. Guys: DO NOT START WITH LINEN! Seriously! It’s fine now because I’ve had years of practice, but man, what was I thinking?!?!

-7-

Anddddd also!

If you’re looking for a scripture study for this summer, or maybe a summer bible study for you and your friends, may I suggest Take Up & Read’s new book, Better Together?



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This book is about hospitality, and summer is such a great time for that! Have people over! Embrace community! All the good things!

Anyway, more about this book is coming, but you can order it now! It has all the lovely features you expect from our studies: daily readings, Scripture memorization, Selah days on the weekends, and recipes!

You Can't "Snap Out Of" Depression...

healthEmily DeArdoComment
“Irises”, Vincent Van Gogh (I saw this at the Getty when I visited in 2016.)

“Irises”, Vincent Van Gogh (I saw this at the Getty when I visited in 2016.)

There are few things that make me as angry as willful ignorance.

I can understand people not understanding things about CF, or my hearing loss, or transplant, or whatever. They’re pretty rare things. There’s a learning curve.

What I cannot tolerate, or understand, is how, in the twenty-first century, people still think that you can “snap out” of depression, and that you just need to “be positive”, and that if you have depression, you’re just “giving up.”

And yes, those words in quotes? All things I heard over the weekend during a discussion about this on social media.

So, for anyone who believes that those things are true, some education:

  1. Depression isn’t the same as a bad day or a bad mood.

    Everyone has bad days. When I’m having a bad day, I say I’m being “Grumpy Cat.” If it’s a really bad day, then I’m “Grumpy Cat Deluxe.” But both those things are totally different from depression. Depression lasts. Depression doesn’t go away with a good night’s sleep, or watching a good movie, or working out, or going out to dinner with friends. Things that work to get you out of bad moods do not work for depression. They might help. But they won’t solve the issue. That’s because…

  2. Depression is a mood disorder that affects your brain chemistry.

    The Mayo Clinic says:

    “It's not known exactly what causes depression. As with many mental disorders, a variety of factors may be involved, such as:

    • Biological differences. People with depression appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain, but may eventually help pinpoint causes.

    • Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.

    • Hormones. Changes in the body's balance of hormones may be involved in causing or triggering depression. Hormone changes can result with pregnancy and during the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum) and from thyroid problems, menopause or a number of other conditions.

    • Inherited traits. Depression is more common in people whose blood relatives also have this condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing depression.”


Did you get all that? Changes in the brain. Hormones. Inherited traits. Brain chemistry. These are not things that just “go away” because you want to “snap out of it.”

And also, they do not go away “if you pray”, and you’re not depressed “because you don’t pray enough.”

Let’s sum this up really fast. :

Depression is not something that you can snap out of. It’s an illness, just the same as cancer or CF. People with depression need help from doctors, including psychiatrists/psychologists, and this help might include taking medication.

Do not tell people to “snap out of it.” You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer to do that. Don’t do it with someone who has depression.

Depression is not rational.

Feelings are not rational.

If some one tells you not to be depressed because you’re alive, or you have a good job, or a good family, or a nice house, or whatever…..that person does not understand depression. DEPRESSION IS NOT RATIONAL.

If you want a funnier—but entirely true—take on this, visit this post by Allie Brosh.
(Go read it and come back. Really. What follows will make more sense.)

I especially want to note the part about the fish.

Someone asks Ally, what’s wrong? She says, my fish are dead.

OK. Her fish are dead.

The person says to Ally, “Oh! That’s OK! I’ll help you find them!”

That’s not the problem she has. The problem isn’t that they’re gone as in missing. They’re gone as in dead.

No amount of positive thinking will bring the fish back to life.

Same with depression. No amount of being told “how good you have it” or “how happy you should be” will change your feelings! Because it doesn’t work that way!

Please, people.

Stop telling people with depression to snap out of it. Or that they shouldn’t be depressed. This is what leads to people not talking about depression, which makes the problem even bigger, and then it makes people feel like they should be ashamed of it! And they shouldn’t be!

If someone you know is depressed, please listen to them. Don’t tell them to snap out of it.



Seven Quick Takes--Colorado, Mother's Day, and Mammograms

7 Quick Takes, travel, current projects, health, the bookEmily DeArdo4 Comments
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

-1-

I was in Colorado last week (hence why no blog posting!) for my sister’s bachelorette weekend. I’d never been to Colorado before!

One of the floral butterflies in Downtown Denver

One of the floral butterflies in Downtown Denver

The Collegiate Peaks in Buena Vista

The Collegiate Peaks in Buena Vista

Mel and I at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs.

Mel and I at Mt. Princeton Hot Springs.


—II—

I’ll write more about Denver next week, but here’s what I learned, in short, about going to altitude:

Drink a lot of water. Like, insane amounts.
Bring saline nasal spray. My nose was SO dry!
Bring a portable charger, because altitude seems to drain phone batteries faster
SUNSCREEN. ALL THE SUNSCREEN.

—III—

Our trip included Denver (my sister lives in Littleton) and Buena Vista, where the cabin weekend was held. I didn’t realize it was sort of desert-y down there. I should’ve expected it, but some how, I didn’t. I had never been in that sort of environment before, so it was definitely a new experience. I learned that I like green!

—IV—
Anyway, more on CO next week. It’s been awhile since I’ve done some travel posts, so it’ll be fun!

—V—

Amy Welborn wrote a great piece about Mother’s Day and parishes, and I’d encourage you to read it.
Mother’s Day is, to put it nicely, fraught. I really don’t think it should be celebrated as part of the Mass. Mass is for the worship of God, not for the worship of ourselves. If parishes want to do something for mothers (or graduates, or whatever), then they can do it after Mass. Blessings, etc.? After Mass.

I know so many people who are struggling with infertility. I, myself, will never have children. Let’s also think about people who have lost their mothers, or have not-great relationships with their mothers, or have other issues with their moms. Let’s realize this. Sure, mothers are important! (Love you, Mom! :) )

But do we need to make it such a big part of the Mass?

Same thing with Father’s Day. And also, I don’t think we do Father’s day nearly as much as we do mother’s day.

Celebrate your mom, but parishes, please do this after Mass.

And for the love of the Lord, do not make people hug their mothers at Mass! (see the comments in the article for that one.)

(And yes, I love my mother. :) This isn’t about not loving Mom!)

—V—

And because it’s my blog, I’ll expound a little more. One of the comments at the bottom of Amy’s post was all about “celebrating” at Mass. Having visitors stand up, or graduates be recognized, or birthday people be recognized.

I got one word for this:

NOPE.

People. Mass is not the time for this.

Mass is for THE WORSHIP OF GOD.

If you want to recognize birthdays, do it in a bulletin.

You want to recognize the grads? Have a reception in June after a Mass.

I CRINGE at the thought of making visitors stand up. I hate this. Why do you think a visitor would want to be recognized?! And what does that have to do with Mass? (This visitor never wants to be recognized. Ever. Just let me come to Mass.)

Yes, I realize I’m an old and cranky person here.

But I think it was Benedict XVI who said something like, if we’re applauding during Mass, we’ve completely lost the plot. (I’m paraphrasing, obviously)

Mass is not about us.

If you want to celebrate community things, that’s great. Do it after Mass.

—VI—

Well, that felt good. LOL. .

Writing of the book is going well. My next newsletter for subscribers should be sent out next week, so if you’re not a subscriber, do it now!

I’m 2/3 of the way done with the manuscript. This week has been some hard sledding but you know, the important thing is to get words on a page. So that’s been happening. You can edit words on a page. You can’t edit a blank one.

—VII—

I also had my first mammogram this week. My mom had breast cancer at age 47, so I had to get my baseline done 10 years before her diagnosis—hence, at 37. Since I turned 37 last month, it was time.

I was nervous about it—I’d heard horror stories about it hurting, especially with transplant scars (this might be TMI, but—for my transplant, the incisions are about where a bra underwire is).

But I had a great, careful tech, who made sure that nothing was pinching, and it wasn’t really bad at all. Yeah, the skin is being squished, but that didn’t really hurt.

Ladies—you need to get a mammogram at age 40. You might have to do it earlier, if you’re like me and have family history. Please, please, please check your own screening requirements and set this up.

(And finally, if you missed it, there was a yarn along on Wednesday!)




Yarn Along #89

books, yarn along, travel, knittingEmily DeArdo4 Comments
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I’ve finally cast off my shawl, and now I’m in the process of weaving in the ends and then blocking it. Yay! I can’t wait to wear it!

This shawl has taken me a long time and part of it was because of the move, and then getting my blocking supplies from my parents’ where I stashed it before the move….but now we’re all caught up.

I was just in Denver for my sister’s bachelorette party, and while I was there I got to visit Tattered Cover, an independent bookstore chain there. It was pretty awesome, and of course I got a lot of books:

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I’ll have more on Denver in a travelogue post later this week or next!

What are you knitting or reading? Share with me!


An Old School Easter Daybook

Daybook, hockey, Orchard House, the book, travel, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Remember how we used to do these all the time? Bringing it back. :) At least for this week.

“Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb”, Fra Angelico

“Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb”, Fra Angelico

Outside my window:

The tree outside my porch. Isn’t she pretty?

The tree outside my porch. Isn’t she pretty?

Wearing:

Jeans and a navy blue and white stripped shirt that I’ve had forever and probably need to stop wearing outside the house, LOL.

Reading

I’m on a Laura Ingalls Wilder kick so I’m re-reading the series; I’m on By The Shores of Silver Lake. I’m also reading The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I’ve got Cranford in my bag for the trip I’m taking this week.

Plans for the week:

I’m going to visit my sister in Denver for her bachelorette party! Yay! So that’ll be fun. I’ve never been to Colorado.

Celebrating:

Easter! It’s an octave, so that means that it’s EIGHT DAYS OF EASTER. So be sure to keep celebrating! The Easter season is actually fifty days long, culminating in Pentecost. So get your celebration on. We fast and abstain and do penance for forty days of Lent, but then we have fun for fifty days! So have fun!

(But don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.)

If you normally give up meat on Friday, you don’t have to this coming Friday, because of the Easter octave. Yay! Woo woo!

I don’t pray the Glorious mysteries at all during Lent, but for the next seven days they’ll be all I pray when I say my rosary. Gotta fill up on the good stuff.

Around the house:

I’m putting up some wall art over at Orchard House. My couch has STILL not arrived and that’s holding up a lot of the art work because I want to see what works when the couch is here. But I have up two Rose Harrington prints in my office:

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Aren’t they pretty?

Speaking of the office….

Writing:

I’m doing pretty well on the book! I’m really excited about this. I’m almost 2/3 of the way done! Some of the chapters have been pretty substantially re-written from my first draft, but that’s ok because now they’re better. My editor is great. (She’s also patient, which is nice. Sometimes I get all rabbity in my thinking, meaning I’m all over the place. She helps. :) ) I want to have a draft of chapter 10 (Jesus is Stripped of His Garments) before I leave on Wednesday.

Listening to:

The “hallelujah!” chorus from Messiah and the studio cast recording of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (not the Disney movie. The musical that’s derived from the Disney movie. It’s good stuff.)

Sharing Contemplation:

In the Gospel of Matthew, the women at the tomb left quickly with fear and great joy.

Fear and joy go together a lot of the time, don’t they? I got the book contract and then I had to write the thing and I’m afraid I’ll write crap. :-P You get pregnant and you want a baby, but then….labor! Right? I’d never noticed that sentence before. Fear and joy, co-existing all the time.

Getting the transplant call—-fear and joy.

Bet you can think of your own examples.

Maybe I’ll put this in the book? :)

Other good things:

BLUE JACKETS!!!! Their second-round series will be with either Boston or Toronto and will start this week (most likely). That series is going to game seven, so whoever will play will be tired, to say the least—but the Jackets can’t let up. Hope they don’t! Very excited about this series!

A Little Catholic 101 on Easter and Pentecost

And I’ve started a monthly newsletter-y thingy JUST for blog subscribers. They will find out all the book news first, they get special behind-the-scenes glances of things, I might even do book giveaways, WHO KNOWS. Anyway, you don’t want to miss this, so SIGN UP.

Please and thank you!




JACKETS!

family, hockeyEmily DeArdoComment

I was lucky enough to be at the Columbus Blue Jackets playoff game last Sunday! (They ended up sweeping Tampa Bay last night!) So I thought I’d share some of the photos I took. If you’re not into hockey, read something else. :)

Heading into the arena.

Heading into the arena.

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(That’s dad. :) )

We had some time before the game—well, a lot of time. We got there around 3:45 and puck drop was at 7, and we had dinner reservations at 4:15 at Buca di Beppo. So we went into the Blue Line (the Blue Jackets’ shop) before the game to check out what was for sale.

After that, we headed to Buca:

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And had a great dinner:

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Gotta have coffee for cheering strength!

Gotta have coffee for cheering strength!

Buca always has great decorations, and pictures of cute things, like babies covered in spaghetti:

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After dinner—TIME TO PARTY!

Heading in to the arena

Heading in to the arena

Pregame show in the concourse

Pregame show in the concourse

One of my friends on FB asked what happens to the hats tossed to the rink when a hat trick happens. At NA, some of them go here:




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Shirts! And rally towels! (under said shirts)

Shirts! And rally towels! (under said shirts)

The game itself was OBVIOUSLY intense, with the Jackets winning 3-1, and the place exploded. It was so loud in there. I tried to get some video of that but it’s blurry, so I won’t share.

But it was a fabulous experience. I’ve always wanted to go to a playoff hockey game, so I can cross it off the bucket list.

Seven Quick Takes In a Deluge

7 Quick Takes, current projects, Seven Quick Takes, Orchard House, hockeyEmily DeArdoComment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

I.

OK, so, first, I’m thrilled to tell you that the talk I recorded for Kelly’s conference has been accepted! Yay! I’m part of the speaker’s library that attendees will have access to!

What is this conference, you might ask? Kelly has created a conference for Catholic parents of kids with special needs, called “Accepting the Gift.” You can attend in person, OR (and I love this part), you can attend virtually! How cool is that? So if you can’t make it to New Jersey, you can still attend!

Here is the conference page, so check it out! And do attend!


II.

This is also the first talk I’ve done as an adult—I did a witness talk at my parish mission when I was sixteen—but I really do like my talk, all things considered. :) It’s called “Joy Anyway”, and it’s about living life with a chronic illness, because, a lot of the time, we hear from the parents of people like me, but not the actual people who have the illness, and so I’m thrilled that Kelly asked me to contribute my thoughts, because I do care about this quite passionately, as you all know. :)

And of course I love the parents! Parents are awesome! But it’s important to get the perspective from the person with “the thing” as well, in my book. So, thanks Kelly for asking me! (And accepting the talk!)


III.

OK so yeah, it’s deluging here right now. Lots and lots and lots of rain being dumped on Orchard House at the moment. I overslept this morning and this is probably why, because it’s really dark outside. Not that I mind—I generally like rainy days.


IV.

Today is part of the editing process in the writing of the book. My editor has sent me chapters back, and now I go through and play with them and see what I can do to make them better. Some of the changes I just accepted on the first go round because they were easy (like, adapting to the press’s style guide) or just made sense. Bigger changes require more thought and distance, so that’s what I’m doing today.


V.

My birthday was on Tuesday, so I’m thirty-seven now! And it was a gorgeous day, which is rare in central Ohio in early April—it snowed on my birthday (as in the day I was born). But yesterday it was 82 and kids were in the pool, which made me shiver just seeing them in there, because that water was going to be cold!

ANYWAY (digression over!), it was a good birthday with sun and good food.

No, Emily did not eat all this cake. Emily did not come  close  to eating all this cake. We shared it. :)

No, Emily did not eat all this cake. Emily did not come close to eating all this cake. We shared it. :)


VI.

I also think that everyone should like their birthday. Because birthdays mean you survived another trip around the sun! Yay!!!!!! Birthdays are great! I mean, yeah, I’m thirty-seven, but to me, that’s sort of awesome. I wasn’t supposed to hit thirty-three. I wouldn’t have seen twenty-seven without Suzanne, my donor. So, yeah. Birthdays rock.

VII.

It’s hockey playoff time, and Dad and I are going to see the Jackets play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday! This has been a bucket list item for me for awhile—seeing an NHL playoff game. The nice thing is that since the Jackets are playing Tampa, I can unreservedly root for them. When they play the Penguins in the playoffs (as they’ve done before), I can’t do that, I’m torn! But now, I can root for them all the way. It’s going to be great! The Jackets have all sorts of things planned—there’s a big plaza in front of the arena so there will be activities, and the arena opens up earlier than usual so people can head in and start the party. I hope the Jackets win! (They won the first game on Wednesday in Tampa in an amazing comeback. They play tonight. Pens are down one game to none against the Islanders. If you don’t care about hockey, I’m sorry this take was all hockey. :) )

Seven Quick Takes--House Updates, Writing, Hockey

7 Quick Takes, behind the scenes, current projects, the book, Seven Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

I.

So, first, the Penguins are in the playoffs for the thirteenth year in a row. This makes me happy.

(If you’re new here—I’m a huge hockey fan. The Penguins are my “main” team. The Blue Jackets are my “home” team and I want them to make the playoffs too, which they will do if they win one of their next two games.)

II.

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Orchard House is in the stage of “personalization” or “zhushing” as they say on Home Town. I’m putting up pictures and other fun things, like my refreshed ribbon board in my bedroom:


III.

If you want to see how tiny Emily was in college, here’s my college ID closeup, along with one of my favorite magazine cutouts:

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IV.

And about the button. It says “Italians for President Nixon.” Now, obviously, I wasn’t alive to vote for Nixon. But one of my best friends, Branden, is an auctioneer (as well as about 5 million other things, including our county clerk), and he loves political memorabilia, so he thought I’d like it, since I’m half Italian. And I do like it. It’s funny.

V.
The big pink piece of paper is an audience ticket my friend Amilia gave me. She was lucky enough to attend a general audience with Pope St. John Paul II, and she gave me the ticket. You can tell I’ve had it FOREVER, it’s all sun bleached, but I love it.

VI.

The dog picture? That’s Liberty, who used to be Colonial Williamsburg’s mascot. I was so psyched to meet her when we visited two years ago! She was such a good dog!

VII.

I could keep telling stories, but I’ll wrap up with a writing update! (Maybe next week I’ll tell more stories? What do you think? Because everything on this board has a story!)

So I’ve sent chapters 1-4 to my editor. She has sent me edits for chapters 1-2. So we are really making progress! Yayyyy!





Yarn Along #88

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo4 Comments

Linking up with Ginny!

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I’m in the last stretch of my Feile shawl. I’ve really enjoyed knitting this so I’m sort of sad to see the end coming, but I can’t wait to wear it! It’s so pretty!

I’ve heard about Peace Like A River for YEARS—seriously, a child life specialist told me about when I was probably 20 or so—so I figure it’s time to read it.

Once I finish the Feile I’m not sure what I’ll do! I want to use the yarn I got at Williamsburg but I don’t know what to make with it! I’m thinking I might go simple and make a cowl or a scarf. Or maybe a hat.

Seven Ways To Bring Joy To Your Day

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

So after my last post, I thought it might be helpful to give you some concrete ways to bring joy to your days when that might REALLY be lacking. So, here we go!

I.

Iris Murdoch said that, “One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” So, that’s how we’re looking at this. Small treats!

The first one: Eat your favorite meal. Do the comfort food thing. One meal (and I do mean one) isn’t going to send everything into a tailspin. For me, it’s usually Chuy’s or pasta carbonara. Eat something you enjoy. And enjoy it, while you eat it.

II.

Take a lunch break. When I was working full-time, a lot of my days were…rough. So I would go to Barnes and Noble on my lunch break. Even if I didn’t buy anything, just getting out of the office and into a place that I loved was a great way to reset my day and give me energy to get through the rest of the day.

III.

Go to Eucharistic Adoration. Just sit with Jesus. You don’t have to do anything. Just be there and rest in his presence.

IV.

If you’re not near a chapel, then take some time to pray—a decade of the rosary, reading the Bible, whatever works for you.

V.

Read your favorite book or watch your favorite movie. Say, “tonight is movie night. I’m going to go home and watch my favorite movie and eat popcorn and it’ll be great.”

VI.

Have something to look forward to. Schedule lunch with a friend, make a date to see a movie (even if the date is with yourself, there is nothing wrong with that!), but get something on your calendar that makes you happy, even if it’s something small.

VII.

This doesn’t always work for me, but it might work for some of you—do something physical. That can mean working out, but for me it can also mean playing the piano or singing or even knitting. Do something that moves your body and makes you focus on something else. Sometimes just saying to myself, I can work on that knitting project, or I can do yoga class on Friday, is really helpful.


These are just a few suggestions of things that work for me. I hope they help you!