Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Seven Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes, behind the scenes, current projects, knitting, life issues, memoir, Seven Quick Takes, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment
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Linking up with Kelly!

—ONE—

I haven’t done this in awhile, so, hey, time to do one! Especially since we’re supposed to get a big old snow storm with insanely cold temperatures this weekend, so if you never hear from me again, at least you have this. (I’m kidding. I’ll be fine.)

This cartoon made the rounds a few years ago, but once again it looks like I’ll be living in Hoth:

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—TWO—

There’s been a lot going on over here. I’m moving, so that’s the first thing—in March! So I have two months to get my place packed up. Which means that yes, I’ve been watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, and I love it. (And no, she’s never said that you only need 30 books, where did people get this?! I have WAY more than 30> I have more than 30 cookbooks, probably—yes, I might have a problem.)

But I’ve really enjoyed the process. If you haven’t heard of her, the idea is that you get rid of everything that doesn’t “spark joy”, or that you need (like, a screwdriver, for instance. Or copies of recent tax returns.). So you let go of things that you’re just holding on to out of guilt or uncertainty or “just because”, and it’s done in categories: clothes, books, papers, “komono “ (miscellaneous—she divides it down further), and sentimental items. I’m on “komono”, and it’s mostly household stuff and knitting stuff that’s left.


—THREE—

Speaking of knitting, here’s this week’s yarn along! I’m making a drachenfels shawl, again. :) Deets are at Ravelry, here.


—FOUR—

In other news, I’m very close to submitting my book proposal! Oh my gosh. This has been a few months in the making but I think I’m in the home stretch! Yayyy!

And you can help me!

Please subscribe to the blog! This is something that really helps me with publishers. It shows I have people who care about what I write! So do that, and then follow my author page on Facebook? Every follower/subscriber is important! If you already subscribe, thank you! Mwah!


—FIVE—

The proposal is a memoir about my life with CF and transplant and how it ties into the idea that life is always worth living, no matter what’s “wrong” with you. Today is the March for Life, so yes, I feel it’s a timely topic. I’ve had people tell me that I shouldn’t exist. But I DO exist and so there. :-p

—SIX—

I made a holy hour yesterday, since I might not be able to get to Mass this weekend depending on weather. If you don’t make a holy hour (Or holy half hour, or Holy Fifteen Minutes!), can I recommend that you start? It’s restorative, transformative, energizing….it’s time with the Lord who loves you so much! Get thee to an adoration chapel! Or get to Mass early, if you can. God wants to visit with you!


—SEVEN—

And, also, if you missed it, Take Up & Read has a new study! We’re starting on Monday but feel free to hop in whenever! It’s called Call Me Blessed (here’s my blog post about it!)—and you can get it at other bookstores besides Amazon! Yay!!!!! It’s all about our vocation as women, our dignity as women, using women in the Bible and the writings of Pope John Paul II. I do hope you’ll join us!

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Yarn Along #84: The Lambs and Wool Shawls

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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I’m about to be living in Hoth again:

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Seriously, it’s going to be so cold—I’m hearing negative numbers for actual temps on Sunday and Monday. Time to batten down the hatches!

At least when knitting a shawl in winter, the shawl keeps you warm! I’m into the striping section which is easy and pretty relaxing so I can watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo or Home Town while I’m knitting and I can stay sort of warm.

The Lambs * was a wonderful book about a lawyer who decided to close her firm and move to a farm in Virginia where she raised karakul sheep. The story is wonderfully written, and the book itself is lovely, with color photographs and gorgeous design. If you like to knit, like sheep, animals, or farming, or just a well-written, meditative memoir, this is the book for you.

*Amazon Affiliate link

Bible Study for the New Year!

Catholicism, current projects, Take Up and ReadEmily DeArdoComment

I’m so glad to present to you Call Me Blessed, Take Up & Read’s first book with Word Among Us Press!

Since this book is published by WAU, you can get it LOTS of places, not just Amazon! For example, Barnes and Noble has it! So you can use their coupons and your membership card to get a reduced price! Yay! Or you can get it 20% off the WAU site!

This is a really lovely journal, tying together the stories of women in the Bible with St. John Paul II’s Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women). So it’s a twofer; a beautiful work from John Paul II, and the Bible all in one!

There are also touches of color in this study, which we’ve never had before!

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I do hope you’ll join us. The kickoff is on Monday, but if you are a few days behind, that’s fine. We don’t believe in “Behind”. :) I don’t have an essay in this one but I did edit it and got to read all these beautiful essays ahead of time!

If you have any questions, just let me know! I do hope you’ll join us in this lovely starting and in kicking off 2019 with the Word, thinking about our role as women, and Christian/Catholic women, in society. How are we to live out our vocations? Let’s pray and ponder together!

Yarn Along #83--shawl progress and Mary Magdalene

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment
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Progress is being made! Yay!

If you’re new, it’s the Drachenfels shawl in Quince and Co’s chickadee yarn—here you see peacoat (a dark navy blue, not black), and camel. The third color that will be incorporated is gingerbread.

I’m reading (well, one of the things I’m reading) Saint Mary Magdalene Prophetess of Eucharistic Love*. It’s really good, in that it talks a bit about the history of Mary Magdalene, her presence in the gospels, and how that relates to Eucharistic Adoration today. I’m underlining an awful lot! I’m pretty passionate about the Eucharist, so this book is definitely inspiring me to get to Mass and adoration as often as I can!

Today I’m getting another package from KnitPicks, which has the needles I need to start either Felie or Find Your Fade….which one shall I start first?!?! The Drachenfels shawl is in a good place to stop; I have to do one more repeat of the main section and then I’m done with the first page of instructions. Which one do you think I should cast on first?

*Amazon affiliate link

2019 Goal Setting!

goal setting, current projects, writingEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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I really love Lara Casey’s annual goal setting series (here’s part one!), and I adore using her Powersheets. The Powersheets have really been instrumental in setting GOOD goals, and in accomplishing big dreams for my life, so I heartily recommend them! (I don’t get paid to say that—I really do just love them!)

So I always look forward to the annual series, which I read along with doing the Powersheets prep work, and this year, I’ve got four main areas I’m working on:

Faith

Finances

Fitness

Writing

(OK, I couldn’t think of an “F” word for writing!)

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First up: FAITH

To be consistent in prayer and deepen my spiritual life to create a deeper relationship with God.

If God is the center of my life—which He is—then I need to make my days revolve around that. To that end, one part of this goal is to consistent in prayer. As a Lay Dominican, I say at least Lauds and Vespers (morning and evening prayer) every day. I need to be consistent in these, because often I’m not, especially vespers, because that’s around dinner and chaos and all that.

Another part of this is getting deeper into the Bible, which is part of the work we do at Take Up & Read, anyway—well, part of the work, it’s all of the work. :) It’s our reason for existing! So I’m taking time to get into the word every day before I eat lunch. Recently I discovered for the first time Isaiah 54, and man, did it ever speak to me! More on the later. :)

Third, getting to daily Mass more often. To that end I’m working on waking up earlier so I can get to the 11:45 Mass on time. It’s downtown so it’s not just across the street, but I can do it! :)

Lastly, incorporate more holy hours. I LOVE holy hours. So I want to do one at least once a week, which will be easy to do once I move because there’s a church less than half a mile away with perpetual adoration. Winning at life!



Second: Finances

I made good progress on this last year, but I still need to save a complete emergency fund. So that’s the goal right now, as well as doing the Contentment Challenge and realizing that buying stuff isn’t going to make me happy, because, yes, sometimes I’ve done retail therapy. But I’ve also been better about that. So progress being made here, but it’s still an ongoing goal!

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Third: Fitness

Ohh boy. We know I don’t like to work out, right? Well my goal is to find something I liek to do and do it, even if it’s for five minutes, every day. When I was sick in November and December and my joints and tendons took a huge hit because of the meds I was on, I realized that it was better than it could have been—because I’d been keeping my joints and tendons nice and flexible and warm. But I still had problems with them, and my right knee still isn’t 100% back. So I’m working, right now, on that aspect of fitness—getting back to baseline with my knees. I know I’m closer to 40 than 30, so this is important going forward! Gotta stay sharp.

Also part of this is to continue to meal plan, to eat healthy(ier) snacks, and also work on saving treats for feast days. I want to eat more “liturgically”, if that makes sense—fast when the Church fasts, and feast when it feasts! No, that doesn’t mean hard core fasting, but it does mean saving the special meals like champagne risotto (New Year’s Eve meal this year—YUM) and creamy chicken thighs and things like that for patron saint days or when guests come over. I’m not going to eat lentils and honey a la John the Baptist, but at the same time, I’m not going to go nuts every day, either. Simplicity. To that end, I’m also reading From a Monastery Kitchen * and Sacred Feasts. *

And finally….

Writing

I am currently working on a proposal. It’s been a few months in the working but I was getting so frustrated with it—I was thinking that it had to be perfect, and if it wasn’t perfect I was going to blow it and all these other not happy thoughts—so I took some time away from it. Part of that was being sick in November/December and part of it was a deliberate decision. I backed off and actually prayed about it.

Last week, I dove into it again, and I was shocked to see how the words were coming—I was creating pages that I did not hate! Huge step forward. So I’m hoping to have the proposal done this month and sent to the acquisitions editor (pray for me and my little proposal, please?).

Those are the four areas I’m focusing on this year. Also, I’m moving in the spring, so there will be serious decluttering/cleaning/all sorts of goodness happening in that department as well!

What about you? Do you set goals or make resolutions in the new year? What are they?









*=affiliate links

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Yarn Along #82: The Swatch Post!

knittingEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Should this be Yarn Along Part A? Not sure. Because there will be a proper yarn along, as well, with shawl progress and book goodness, because who doesn’t need that in January (or anytime, really)? But this is the swatch and blocking post because I learned a lot from doing this and I wanted to share with you!

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First, though, we’re going to talk about this picture. Is this not awesome? It’s called “A Visit from the Angels”, but notice that Mary is knitting! I love it! I also love how Jesus is like, “Oh, angels. That’s cool.”


So, on to swatching!

I have never swatched before. But I thought, with the big Find Your Fade shawl coming up, that maybe I should. So I swatched, using the same type of yarn called for in the pattern (Knitpicks Hawthorne). You check for gauge in this case post-blocking, so I blocked it and measured it.

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Now, it’s not quite at gauge. I don’t really care about that, because it’s a shawl so it’s not like it has to fit a certain way. I’m actually under the gauge—the swatch should measure 4x4, but it doesn’t. It’s a bit short.

However, I knitted a few more swatches, because, why not? I used the same yarn, but in a different colorway, and what I noticed was what a difference blocking makes.

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On the left: a blocked swatch. On the right: Non-blocked. I mean look at that! Amazing!

I also knitted up swatches in different needle sizes: 4 (the size suggested), 6, and 8. It’s sort of hard to tell here, but you might be able to see that on the 8, it’s almost twice the size of the 4, which makes sense, but it’s also sort of sloppy. I had a hard time maintaining tension with this yarn on size 8 needles. After blocking it did look less sloppy, but it’s still pretty unpretty, so I’m using it underneath a vase on my kitchen table. :)




This is all post blocking: The 8 is in the back, 6 in the middle, 4 in front.

This is all post blocking: The 8 is in the back, 6 in the middle, 4 in front.

I didn’t hit gauge with the 6 needles, either—this time it was too big. I’m still relatively new to knitting, so I’m not entirely sure what this means….maybe I should’ve tried the five size needles? :)

Anyway, lessons to take away here:

  • Blocking is magic!

  • Swatches did help me learn how yarn feels on the needles, and I got used to working with this particular yarn.

  • It was also useful to see how it knits up on different size needles. Now I know, for example, that I’d never use this yarn on anything bigger than a 6. Maybe a seven. But on the 8s, it just did not work. A size six needle is OK, though.

  • I’m pondering doing a swatch blanket or something like that—it’s actually really relaxing to sit and swatch in garter stitch! And I think it could be a good way to stash bust as well.

Any thoughts on swatches, gauge, or other knitty things? Let me know in the comments!

Yarn Along #81 (Not the swatch post!)

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo3 Comments

This is NOT the swatch post that I promised here. That’s coming. So you’ll have to come back if you want that!

This is the “Yarn I got for Christmas and projects I’m planning with it” post. Also, “Books I got for Christmas”.

But let’s talk yarn first.

First of all, I got delicious Chickadee Yarn from Quince and Co., which you know I love for yet ANOTHER Drachenfels shawl! But this one is going to be autumnal in flavor. These shawls are really done based on colors I see and want to do—the Sage shawl was in part Sage influenced, but also influenced by early spring in Ohio.

Anyway, the colors for this one:

Gingerbread

Gingerbread

Camel

Camel

Peacoat

Peacoat

This is autumnal, but also inspired by Eowyn’s wardrobe in the Lord of the Rings movies. One of her outfits is that gingerbread color, she wears a dark blue robe in Return of the King, and her hair is the sort of camel color, but it also echoes some of the embroidery on her Rohan gowns. So again, this is a doubly-inspired shawl!

The next two projects were financed by my dear friend Sarah, who gave me a gift certificate to Knitpicks, which meant I could take advantage of their yarn sale and buy enough yarn to do a Find Your Fade shawl! I know I’m late to this party, everyone else did this years ago, but now I know the skills needed to do it (thank you Aunt Sue for your tutelage yet again!).

So here are all the colors for THAT. The yarn is Knit Pick’s Hawthorne line, in various types—kettle dyed, multi, and their speckled.

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Whew! So the fade goes from top to bottom, and the colors are: (KD=kettle dyed, S=speckled, everything else is the multi)

Sellwood

Goose Hollow

Delphinium (KD)

Alameda

Abernathy

Turkish Delight (KD)

Berry Smoothie (S)

I sort of adore these colors! Which is good because this shawl is SO big that I’ll be using them for a long time!

The last project is the felie shawl, where I’m using Frabjous Fibers yarn—their speckle in Victorian China—and the Hawthorne Turkish Delight you see above.

So, WHEW! Is that enough yarn for you?

As for books:

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I adored Marilla of Green Gables. I also got The Gown, News of the World, The Terror, and Book Girl either as Christmas gifts or bought with Christmas gift cards/money. So I’ve been reading a lot, and, as I always do at the beginning of January, I’m re-reading One Thousand Gifts. (those are Amazon affiliate links) I will report on the others as I read them, or you can follow me on Goodreads!

What are you reading/knitting?


On the Ninth Day of Christmas....

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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Hi everyone! Happy New Year!

It’s STILL CHRISTMAS! Do not take down the tree! RESIST! (Unless you have a real one, which has become a fire hazard. Then, of course, get rid of it. But there are advantages to having a fake one, like my $20 Target tree….)

The ninth day of Christmas was always my favorite as a kid, because in the song it’s “Nine ladies dancing” and that just gave me a nice image. Also, my mom’s Christmas china has the twelve days of Christmas illustrated on the dessert plates, and “Nine Ladies Dancing” is the prettiest, so I always wanted that one. My mom, being a piper (she played bagpipes in high school!), is partial to the 11 pipers piping, obviously.

(I need to take pictures of the plates so you can see them! They really are gorgeous. I have 12 days of Christmas ornaments, but not the whole set yet—Hallmark is releasing them one a year, and they’re only up to ‘8 maids a-milking’.)

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Anyway, how is your Christmas season going? Did you do anything fun? Are you enjoying wallowing in the Christmas books you got, like me? :) (Seriously, SO MANY this year, it’s an overflow of riches.)

Coming up here on the blog is a yarn along post about blocking (I know that thrills the non yarn people among you, but guys, it makes a HUGE difference, so it’s for the fabric-oriented), goals for 2019, and some writing updates…..but I just wanted to pop in and say hi with this entry.

And share this little guy’s picture, because he’s adorable. Did you have breakfast with Cookie Monster last week?

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Advent pondering: At the service of His plan

Catholicism, inspirationEmily DeArdoComment

I was reading my Advent devotional this morning and came across an essay that I dearly love to re-read every year. It’s so rich in pondering that I thought I’d share some of it with you, in the hope that we can bring this mindset into our Christmas and new year.

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The Service of His Plan

Those who place their lives at the service of [God’s] plan never have any reason to be afraid…Every day [Mary] placed her life at the service of his plan.

When we are really placing our life at the service of his plan at the general work, then, yes, by our manner of behavior there, by the sweetness that we bring, the patience, the humility, we could rightly say, “This is the Word of the Lord.” These virtues are his ‘words”, and he is being made manifest by them….

Things were always better where [Mary] was. Things we always sweeter and calmer at the well when she was standing in line…She was the one who said, “Yes, I’ll wait. I will not add another irritable word. I will bring the loving, calming word. I will be the one who sees something extra to do, not wondering why someone takes so long at her turn, but seeing if I can help her.” She was no less placing her life at the service of the Divine plan when she waited her turn at the well, than at any other time. …

We should make the word a little less unutterable, a little more recognizable by the way we live and serve and love. …

God has a great plan also in what we call the unexpected. It isn’t unexpected to God. He planned it from eternity…There is nothing unexpected in all of creation…nothing should ever take us by surprise, except the wonder of God’s plan…

God..is saying exactly this to us…”I don’t reveal all the details of those plans because I cannot deprive you of faith. I cannot deprive you of hope. I cannot deprive you of the glory of trusting in me. I cannot deprive you of the wonder of seeing my plan as it unfolds.”…

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We want to be come very intimate with him as the great mystics were in very simple, humble ways, saying, “Dear God, I don’t get this at all, but I’m so glad that you do. And I know that you have a plan and I only want to be at the service of your plan.”…

In our personal lives there is a wonder unfolding. It is wonderful to keep going forward. Even our Lady did not know the last page…let us determine in all the events of each day to place our lives at the service of his plan. This is the happiest way that a person can live.

—Mother Mary Francis, PCC, Come Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting

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Burdens

essays, family, life issuesEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum wrote a great piece about how everyone is a burden to someone at some point in her life. It’s not just people who are disabled, or poor, or old, or whatever. ALL of us were, or will be, a “burden” to someone.

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One of the things you hear when people talk about assisted suicide is that they don’t “want to be a burden” to their loved ones. But think about it. Babies are inherently a burden to their parents. They can’t do anything for themselves. We all started there, and we’ll probably all go back there as we get older.

This touched me specially because I had a call with a “disability caseworker” last week, and I’m working through the SSDI application process. This entire process is dehumanizing and humiliating. It boils down to what you can do, and strips away anything else. So at the end of this call, which involved both my parents, I burst into tears.


“Why are you crying?!” My parents asked.

“Because these things are so humiliating. I feel like such a burden to everyone, I can’t do anything, you guys are just stuck with me forever! No one wants me!”

“We want you,” my parents said.

And then they reminded me that they really did want me. This wasn’t just parents saying what they’re supposed to say (like when you ask your boyfriend if a dress makes you look fat. There’s a right answer to that question.).

My parents really wanted me. They prayed hard for me. They got married in 1979 and I didn’t appear until 1982. My mom always wanted to be a mother. They prayed hard for me, and, in an example of God taking people seriously, Mom had said in her prayers that she would take a baby who needed extra care, because she knew she could love and take care of that baby.

And believe me, she has. The things my parents have done for me would take a really long time to explain, but here’s just a bit of it:

  • Many, many, MANY ER runs (One during the Super Bowl, when the Steelers were playing. My parents are huge Steeler fans.)

  • Monthly blood draws when I was a toddler.

  • Driving to Cleveland in a snowstorm for an appointment.

  • Many many many overnight hospital stays

  • Learning how to reconstitute medicines and give them via an IV, even 8 or twelve hours—yeah, that means middle of the night stuff. WHEEEE!

  • Beating on my chest twice a day, every day, as part of daily CF therapy (now that’s not really needed, there are inventions that take care of it, but back then, not so much).

  • Many insurance phone calls

  • Learning how to dress a third degree burn, and then doing the dressing at the kitchen table, which was just par for the course at our house.


It’s a lot. And I’d be lying if I said I never felt like a burden to them, because I do. Our society makes it clear of what it thinks about “people like me”. I’ve had people tell me, to my face, that I shouldn’t exist. That’s sort of hard to deal with. And as I get older, I get increasingly sadder about this fact that I’m not married, so my parents have to handle everything for me, because I don’t have a husband to help out. (Not that every husband would help out….)

But really, Kelly’s right—we’re all burdens. We just are, it’s part of being human. We depend on each other. Think about it. Even a “normal” kid needs mom and dad’s helps. Even “normal” adults need help every once in awhile. We can’t do everything ourselves, it’s just not possible.

But we see this as being wrong, and as something that needs eliminated. Sure, we all want to be independent. I am very glad, for example, that I can use the bathroom by myself, because having gone through periods of my life where I’ve had to wait for a bedpan or three nurses to help me, I do not take that ability for granted. But you know, there are times when I haven’t been able to do that, when mom has had to wash my hair, or Dad has had to call AAA because I can’t call them.

It can be a lot. It can be humiliating, and it can be depressing. As a society, we need to really focus on the person, because we are all God’s chosen people, in that, God willed us into existence. This is my existence.

I’m glad that I am independent, in some ways. I’m glad that I don’t need to rely on my parents for everything. But at the same time, I know that even when I have needed that, they’ve answered. And I know some parents don’t—I don’t know them personally, but I’ve seen them, I’ve heard the horror stories. I’m lucky.

People are people to be loved, not to be called burdens or dismissed because of it. Really, we could all be burdens to God. Think about how slow we are. I mean, doesn’t he ever sit up there and just facepalm? Seriously, humanity?! WE COVERED THIS!!!!!

But God made us anyway. People love us anyway. Our worth isn’t about what we can do or what job we have or anything external. Worth is internal.




Re-set for Advent

Catholicism, essays, journalEmily DeArdoComment

Does this week seem weird to anyone else? Like, there’s all this extra time? I’m so used to going right from Thanksgiving into December that this week has been throwing me off. Don’t get me wrong, I like the extra time, but it means that everything is being done early chez moi. For example, I usually send out my Christmas cards after Thanksgiving—I actually mail them on Thanksgiving, usually—so having them arrive at places before December 1 hits is just weird this year.

Decorations at my  parents’ house—this is the front hall.

Decorations at my parents’ house—this is the front hall.

My shopping is done. I’m mailing out the gifts that need mailed and the things that need wrapped need wrapped. I’m not a great wrapper so I tend to delay it for as long as possible. :)

Thanksgiving was quiet, which was nice, because Christmas is nuts in my family. We have our big family reunion two days after Christmas, and then I’ve got friends coming home for the holidays so I want to spend time with them, and it’s just a big joyful crazy time, which I love.

With the “extra'“ time this week, I’ve been doing a bit of a reset. I read about reset days here (yes, it’s a guys’ website, but it’s good info!), and on Monday, I decided to do this. Being knocked out for two weeks because of Crazy Med made me lose a lot of time in November and I’m still not completely caught up on things like housekeeping and my NaNo novel but it’s all good.

So I used the “reset” day to reset before Advent (I like how that rhymes, too). Cleaning the house is part of it, but also getting ready for Advent—decorating the house, putting out the wreath, things like that. Making a big to-do list was really helpful.

An ornament I made in 8th grade art class.

An ornament I made in 8th grade art class.

I love Advent. I love the sense of preparation, and December is really the only time of the year that I like snow. Every other time it’s sort of meh. (That’s putting it mildly)

But I like the New Year aspect of Advent, too, because it is the new year for us, and I like the freshness, the starting over, the hope that comes in Advent.

So if you need a reset day too, you’re not alone. Let’s get ready for a new year, a fresh start, and the coming of the Baby Jesus!





Black Friday/Cyber Monday/ Small Business Saturday....oh whatever, it's a sale!

Catholic 101, writingEmily DeArdoComment

It’s that time again!

I put Catholic 101 on sale twice a year (If you’re a blog subscriber, you have a code for 15% off that you get when you subscribe, and that’s good anytime): on my transplant anniversary, and during Black Friday/ Cyber Monday/ Small Business Saturday, whatever it’s called. :) And that sale starts today!

So, from right now until midnight next Tuesday (December 27), Catholic 101 is $7, which is more than 25% off the retail price of $9.50. You can buy it for yourself, or give it as a gift! It’s available for all formats except Kindle, because Kindle formatting is…special. However, you can download it as a PDF and read it on your computer, if you only have a kindle.

You don’t need a special code or anything—the price is already reduced. Every purchase makes me really happy. So if you’re looking to shop small this year, I’d appreciate any support! :)

The book is 147 pages divided into four sections. It’s great for any Catholics in your life, or anyone who is interested in learning about Catholicism. It’s based on the series I wrote here on the blog, but there is also lots of new content that’s only available in the book.

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(And, additionally—if you’re looking for a good Advent devotional, may I recommend Rooted in Hope?)

On My Soapbox: When people say they want "healthy" kids

Catholicism, CF, essays, health, life issues, transplantEmily DeArdo3 Comments

and some theology

I know that when most people say they want a “healthy baby”, they’re not being rude or mean. They’re probably trying to be nice.

But guys, I wasn’t a “healthy baby.” I looked healthy, initially, but I wasn’t. I had seizures. I had (and still have) thalessemia minor (I think it’s called type b now? Not sure). I got the CF diagnosis when I was 11.

So, should my parents have just pitched me back? “Nah, sorry, we wanted a non-defective model.”

And I know that people do that now. People kill their babies in the name of the kids “avoid suffering” in their lives. Bull crap. “Yes, let’s kill you, so you never get to have a life.”

That ties into part two: saying “God is Good” only when things go the way you want them to go.

Guys. God is good all the time. He is Good. It is in His very nature to be good. But that doesn’t mean that God’s Goodness=what you want.

Because it doesn’t work that way.

God created me with my “defective” genetic code and my blue eyes and my blonde hair and my fair skin and my wonky teeth and an ankle that cracks oddly. I have a really good memory and I love children and I do a pretty good Sebastian the Crab imitation. I have The Phantom of the Opera libretto memorized. (And Les Miz. And Miss Saigon. And Ragtime. And Parade…)

And yeah, I also have CF. I had a transplant. I’ve got scars. And I do talk about it, because it has become clear to me that it has to be talked about, because people see illness as scary and something to be avoided and pain as awful, to the point that Canada is allowing pediatric euthenasia.

God is always good. And God made me the way I am for a purpose. Is it always fun? No. It is not. There are times when I’ve been really peeved about it, to put it mildly.

But at the same time, it has made me who I am, and in general, I like who I am. I wouldn’t want to change that for the world.

God is not being “mean” to me. He created me the way he wants me to be.

And health doesn’t always stay health. Health is a transient thing, guys. Everyone will get sick. Everyone will die. It seems that in our society now we are idolizing life and health to the point that it is fully unhealthy. We’ve forgotten that we will die, that life is fleeting, that our home isn’t here.

Children are a gift from God, no matter how they come.

And God is always good. And He always loves me.

He always loves you, too. No matter what.

As [Jesus] passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”

John 9: 1-3, NABRE

Preparing for the Savior: Rooted in Hope Advent Devotional

books, Take Up and ReadEmily DeArdoComment
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Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? I sure can’t. And after that, we’ve only got a week before Advent begins! The new church year is almost here!

If you’d like to give yourself some respite, some margin this Advent—some extra prayer time to prepare for Jesus’ birth—may I recommend Rooted in Hope?

This is our (Take Up & Read’s) revised Advent journal. We’ve added an entire extra week of reflections from Christmas Day to January 1, so that you can continue meditating on the greatest gift of them all in the days after Christmas—into the Christmas season, which is really a season in the Church, not just a day!

The REVISED COPY includes:


•8 more days of scripture, devotions, and journaling pages for Christmas week, all the way through New Year's Day,
•insightful research to make the lectio divina pages do-able during a busy season,
•undated pages to make this a timeless resource, usable each year.


Each day contains:
•scripture passage for prayer and reflection,
•a devotional essay, 
•pages for guided lectio divina, 
•space to organize your days. 

Journaling pages and useful planning pages feature clear and elegant design, exquisite hand-drawn illustrations, and gorgeous calligraphy.


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It really is a beautiful book. I adored using it last year and I’m excited to get my hands on the revised copy this year. One of my favorite things? The planning pages. It’s so easy to forget all the things we have to do. Here, you can write it all down, and then pray about it during your prayer time. If you’re like me, lists help bring you peace.

If you don’t want to use the planning pages, you don’t have to! Our books are designed to be used in the way that best suits you.


You can order your copy right here. If you have any questions, leave them below and I’ll answer!

Thirty-six or sixty-six?

health, transplantEmily DeArdoComment
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AKA: I’m getting too old for this. :-p

So for the last two weeks I’ve been on levaquin, a drug that my docs use to help with any infections I get—sinus infections, lung infections, etc. It’s our first line drug. But it’s not most people’s first line drug, because…they’re normal. :)

Me being me, I already take a fair amount of prophylactic (aka: drugs to keep me from getting sick) antibiotics. Since I’m always on those, when I do get an infection (which last happened during 2016), I have to go for harder core meds. It’s either cipro (which treats anthrax! Yay!), or levaquin.

These are in a class of drugs with a reaaaallly long name, but they have some fun side effects. (sarcasm font!) Cipro messes with my stomach; levaquin messes with my sleep. So when my ENT prescribed levaquin after seeing the start of a sinus infection, I resigned myself to alternating between Zzzquill and Tylenol PM for the next two weeks.

Well, this time, and in the “I’m getting too old for this” category, I’m having issues with my tendons, which is also a side effect of these meds. This is better than joint issues in one area only it isn’t nearly as painful. However, it is annoying because I don’t know how far I can force my body to go without a tendon rupturing (which does NOT sound fun). So far, my left knee, my right elbow, and my right wrist have been the most affected. Essentially, they’re just really sore, and I can’t do much. I can’t knit, which is driving me crazy, and it’s even hard for me to hold books, so I’m reading on my iPad (which thankfully I have). I’m essentially a lump on the couch.

Now, this irritates me to no end, because I do not LIKE being a lump. And I can’t even SLEEP or nap, because of the insomnia side effect. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

Anyway, getting too old for this. :-P But at least my sinuses are better! And I’m getting to read a lot of Harry Potter.

Being authentic

journalEmily DeArdoComment
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Authors these days have to have a “platform”, which basically means a blog, social media presence, things like that. And if I’m being honest, this is the hardest part for me. I sucked at selling Girl Scout cookies, so selling myself is even harder.

Some of the advice given to people who are creating platforms talks about “curation”, about talking about only a few topics, about having a consistent look across all platforms. Some of that makes sense. And some of it….doesn’t.

When you read what I write here, I hope it comes across as authentic. I hope it comes across like we’re talking over coffee or something. I share, because I want to, and I share all the things I like, not just things in a few topics. My IG feed lately has been yarn and books and flowers, because I love those things, but sometimes I take silly pictures of stuffed Darth Vaders at Hallmark, because it makes me laugh.

I want to be real. This is how I am. I want to think that if you met me in person, you’d know me; you wouldn’t be shocked to find out how I feel about being Catholic, or that I love kids, or that I am a Jane Fan Girl, or that I love hockey.

I don’t want to worry about curating myself on social media. I want to show you what’s real. That doesn’t mean I share everything, because the Internet is not my diary, guys. :) But I do try to show the good and the bad, because a big part of what I do is tied into health stuff—and I want to show you what that is, reasonably. I don’t blog about every single doctor appointment I have. I don’t IG selfies of myself in a waiting room or in surgery waiting, because to me, that’s sort of private. But I’ll certainly write about it later.

I love squishy yarn!!

I love squishy yarn!!

I won’t share everything about my life, that’s for sure. Because, you know, privacy is cool. But at the same time, I want to be authentic with my readers. And that means talking about all sorts of things, not just what I want to “curate”.

Yarn Along #80: Shawl finished!

Barton Cottage Crafts, books, knittingEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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I’m so pleased with how this little guy (well, not little!) turned out! My ravelry notes are here. And, yes, Santa is bringing me more yarn so I can make a third Drachenfels shawl. :) Can you tell I love this pattern?

I’ve also finished two Barton Cottage Craft orders. This one, below, was done in Knit Picks’ Chroma Twisted Lakefront:


And I finished a cowl! Well it’s not done done, it needs blocked, but it’s off the needles. Ravelry notes here.

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Also, I’m planning on making more cowls, to really hone my circular knitting skills. I’ll be using lots of this yummy Quince and Co yarn:

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As for what I’m reading:

Right now I’m rereading the Anne of Green Gables books, and I’m on the last one, Rilla of Ingleside. When I first read it as a kid I didn’t know much about World War I, and it’s been a long time since I re-read it, so I’m thinking that this time around I’ll have a much richer reading experience.

I’m also reading The Cozy Minimalist Home, and re-reading Circe, by Madeline Miller.

A Day in the Life of a Lay Dominican

Catholicism, Dominicans, prayerEmily DeArdo4 Comments
St. Dominic (detail) from Fra Angelico’s  The Mocking of Christ with the Virgin and St. Dominic.

St. Dominic (detail) from Fra Angelico’s The Mocking of Christ with the Virgin and St. Dominic.

Lots of people, when they hear I’m a Lay Dominican, want to know what that means—and I realized I’d never written a blog post about it! So I’m way overdue to write one about what this vocation actually means. :)

(It’s going to be sort of long. Sorry. But thorough!)

When St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers (that’s what Dominicans are also called—and it's abbreviated OP, so if you ever wanted to know what that means, now you know!)

The “First order” is the friars and brothers—they are priests, or “cooperator brothers”.

The “second order” is the cloistered nuns, who live in monasteries. Yes. Monasteries for nuns.

The “third order” is the laity and the sisters (the sisters live in convents. Nuns are cloistered, which means they don’t go out of their monastery without a good reason and permission. Sisters aren’t enclosed.). Dominican sisters in the U.S. are involved in many ministries.

Now, third order laity members don’t look different than anyone else. We don’t wear a habit or any sort of insignia regularly. (Alas!) We can wear a medal of St. Dominic or another Dominican saint if we want, or a pin that has the shield of the order. But we don’t look any different than anyone else.

We make promises, not vows. They’re not binding under pain of sin, but we do take them seriously.

A “day in the life” of a lay Dominican actually depends on the person! It can look radically different for everyone. The rule of life for Dominicans is very flexible and allows for a lot of adaptation, which is one of its strengths.

However, in that day, the four pillars of Dominican life are probably represented. These are:

  • Prayer

  • Study

  • Community

  • Apostolate

El Greco,  St. Dominic In Prayer

El Greco, St. Dominic In Prayer

Prayer is—well, prayer. A lay Dominican prays lauds and vespers from the liturgy of the hours and says a daily rosary. She attends Mass as often as she can, and attends confession frequently. A yearly retreat is a good idea. You’re taught how to pray the liturgy of the hours in your chapter meetings (at least I was), and you can use either the books of the breviary, or an app—whatever works better for you.

Since Our Lady gave the rosary to St. Dominic, of course we are devoted to it! :) We try to say one set of mysteries—five decades—a day. If you can do more, great!

Bernardo Cavallino,  St. Dominic receiving the Rosary from the Virgin

Bernardo Cavallino, St. Dominic receiving the Rosary from the Virgin


So, how does that look in my day?

I say lauds, generally, right when I get up. I go downstairs, start the coffee, and start lauds. When I was working I said lauds at my desk before the workday began.

I say vespers around 5:00—if I’m going out to eat, or have evening activities, it’ll be later, whenever I get home. The rosary I try to say right after vespers, but if that’s not possible, then I say it before I go to bed. My love of the rosary was an early sign of a Dominican vocation. It’s long been my favorite way to pray!


Study

Statue of St. Dominic on the motherhouse campus of the Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia, Nashville, TN.

Statue of St. Dominic on the motherhouse campus of the Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia, Nashville, TN.


In the above statue, you see St. Dominic holding a book. Study is key to the life of all Dominicans—St. Dominic wanted his family to preach the faith fearlessly. But to do that, they had to know the faith! That meant study. Even today you will find many friars assigned to universities around the world, where they interact with students and teach theology classes. Preaching is at the heart of the Dominican life—the holy preaching of the truth (“Veritas”) of Christ.

St. Albert the Great, a Dominican, gave us the scientific method. The “angelic doctor” of the Church, one of its mightiest theologians, is St. Thomas Aquinas, also a Dominican. But that doesn’t mean that you have to be a genius to be a Dominican. Blessed Margaret of Costello was blind and abandoned by her parents.

What you have to have is a love of study and sacred truth. This can mean daily bible reading, reading spiritual works, taking theology classes—whatever suits your interest. Sometimes chapters will study something together. But to be a Dominican, you have to love to read.

How do I do this? I’m generally always reading at least one spiritual book. I’m working on building the habit of daily bible reading (lectio divina). I love to read spiritual books and look forward to talking about them with my friends or writing about them here. You don’t have to read St. Thomas’ Summa. You can read “popular” theologians, like Scott Hahn or Bishop Barron’s writings. If you want, you can read the Summa! You can dive as deeply as you want. But you should always be learning more about the faith.

Community

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Community doesn’t really always play a part in daily life—there are monthly/regular chapter meetings (every chapter varies, I think most meet once a month), but in daily life, there’s not a whole lot of contact. Certainly I have Dominican friends, including the friars that I personally know, but this isn’t an area where I have consistent daily contact. Some people probably do. For the friars, sisters, and nuns, of course, community is daily; it’s how they live.


Apostolate






Fra Angelico,  Coronation of the Virgin  (Fra Angelico was a Dominican friar, by the way!)

Fra Angelico, Coronation of the Virgin (Fra Angelico was a Dominican friar, by the way!)



Apostolate is “contemplating and sharing the fruits of contemplation”—a twist on St. Thomas’s saying (one of the mottoes of the order: “to contemplate and share with others the fruit of our contemplation.”) My blog is one of my apostolates; I write about the things I discover in prayer and study. The Catholic 101 series and the resulting book are fruits of my study, prayer, and Dominican vocation!

Some Dominicans I know are hospital chaplains; others are CCD teachers, work in homeless shelters, or make rosaries. There are as many apostolates as there are Dominicans. Mine tends to be more on the writing end, so it’s pretty daily for me. I write blog posts, or essays for Take Up & Read, or work on manuscripts that have to do with Christ and the Church. That’s my apostolate.

To sum up: A Day in the Life of a Lay Dominican is drastically different for every one of us, but it’s always rooted in prayer and study, finds support in community, and brings forth fruit in the apostolate of each member.

Here are links to the Lay Dominican provinces in the U.S.

Eastern (that’s me)

Central

South

West

Do you have any questions? Send them to me in the comments!