Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Stitch Fix Number Two

Stitch Fix, fun, fashionEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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Yes, my fashion friends, it is time for Stitch Fix! (If you don't care about fashion, go read Catholic 101 instead. ) 

This is my second Stitch Fix box. If you're new, hop over here to see what Stitch Fix is and what it's about in detail. But in brief, it's a personal styling service. You fill out a very detailed style profile, pay $20, and a stylist will personally select five pieces based on your preferences and what you've told her you'd like to see. (You don't have to do the stylist note, but it helps!) The $20 is taken off whatever you keep from the Fix. After the Fix is styled, it's sent to you, and you try on all the pieces in the comfort of your own home, with your entire wardrobe at your disposal! 

So this time, I had asked to try another striped top, some more cardigans, and a scarf in the seasonal favorite berry color. I love a good scarf! Above, you can see what I was sent in this month's box. So, without further ado....

Item Number 1: Crescent Leeanne Textured Knit Dress, $68

 

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Since my brother is getting married in the spring, I've kept a note in my style profile that I'd love to see dresses for that. And I just love a good dress anyway! This is a knit dress, which has some lovely stretch, and a fuller skirt than the dress in my last fix, which I love. This dress is great on its own, but when it's kicked up a notch....

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Then it really becomes special, to me. That's the great thing about this dress. It's so versatile. So this is now my Christmas outfit. 

Styled with: black patent leather Mary Janes (for that Downton Abbey vibe), red merino Banana Republic cardigan, and Touchstone Crystal earrings. 

A better look at the earrings I wore--the middle pair. The top is J.Crew, the middle and bottom are Touchstone Crystal. These are my earrings, but Stitch Fix does also style jewelry!

A better look at the earrings I wore--the middle pair. The top is J.Crew, the middle and bottom are Touchstone Crystal. These are my earrings, but Stitch Fix does also style jewelry!

You can probably guess the verdict on this one. :) 

Verdict: Kept

 

Number Two: Colette Chavez Pop Color Cuff Knit Top, $48

 

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I love a good striped top, and I love the colors in this one. However, it's a really thin fabric (you can see my jeans through the top in that second photo), and it's also the type of fabric that snags easily. I know I'll snag it on something and ruin it. Plus, it's so clingy that it makes me look rounder than I am. 

Styled with: Talbots jeans

Verdict: Returned

Number 3: Dreamers/Debut Barton Cable Trim Cocoon Cardigan $58

 

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When I first saw this in my Fix, I thought, ehhhh. I sort of have a cardigan like this. 

I was so wrong. 

This guy is so soft, with intricate little details tucked in the ribbing that make it really stand out. It's long and feels like a hug when you put it on. Really, it does! I can fit t-shirts under it without weird lines happening, which makes this very versatile for turning my summer t-shirts into things I can wear in the fall and winter without freezing. And I love the shaping at the bottom. 

Styled with: Talbots jeans, J. Crew Perfect V-neck tee (black)

Verdict: Kept

Number 4: Market & Spruce Marcello Cable Knit Cardigan $78

 

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This guy was just...too too. We had the "Little arms" problem again here--I had to roll the cuffs, which is fine, but the other problem is how low the cardigan hits, and how the buttons draw eyes RIGHT to my middle, which is not really where I want eyes. It was very warm and I loved the color (I'm a sucker for gray!), but, sadly, not for me. 

Styled with the same items as above. 

Verdict: Returned

Number Five: Octavia Russo Plaid Reversible Infinity Scarf, $34 

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I love the colors of this scarf. However...I feel like it's eating my head! If this had been a regular scarf I would've kept it, because it has great potential for being a great accessory. However, it was so big that it's only real purpose would've been to keep me warm if I was going to a Packers game in December, and I have my Hufflepuff scarf to do that for me already! 

Verdict: Returned

 

And now, for TIPS and FAQs. 

You do not have to receive a fix every month. You can receive one every 2-3 weeks, every month, every other month, quarterly...there's a bunch of ways to set it up! There is NO obligation to buy another box after your first one--it's completely up to you. I have heard that it can take two boxes to get you and your stylist to jell. (Christine and I are on the save wavelength, which I adore.) You can also adjust your Fix shipment schedule at any time. 

If you want to try Stitch Fix, I'd appreciate it if you'd use my referral link: I get a $25 credit for every Fix purchased via my link. However, my opinions in this post are totally my own. Stitch Fix didn't pay me to write this! 

Once you check out, your card will be charged for what you kept. The $20 styling fee will be credited to your purchases. 

If a piece in your fix isn't your size, you can ask for an exchange--sizes only, not colors. (At least not yet.) 

My Tips for Getting a Great Fix

1. Be VERY specific when filling out your Style Profile. I wrote things like "I hate pencil skirts, distressed/ripped items, dolman sleeves, and stilettos." I also dislike skinny jeans and ponchos, so I wrote that as well. I also noted that my brother is getting married in the spring, so I'd like to see spring dresses, and that I love flats and A-lines. 

In addition, you can write a note to your stylist after you schedule a fix. I wrote I'd like to try v-neck cardigans again, and see things that I can wear to holiday gatherings. I'd also like to see a scarf or two, since I love to accessorize with them. And what did I get in this Fix? Those things. :) Christine is really awesome that way. Of course you don't have to do this. But if there are specific things you want to try or need in your wardrobe, it's worth doing. 

2. Do a Pinterest board. Here is mine, and you can see, my stylist definitely looked at it! If you don't have Pinterest, it's worth it to get it just to do this board. If you type in "women's fashion" in the search bar, five million pins will come up. I love how Duchess Kate dresses, so she figures in a lot of my pins. I have a fairly classic, pretty style, and that's reflected in what I've pinned. Take the time to do it; it's fun, anyway. At least I thought so. Also put "Stitch Fix" in the title, so if the link is wonky, your stylist can still find it. 

3. Do not lie about your measurements. Come on, ladies. Put your real weight, your real bra size, your real height. Just be honest. :) And update it! If you've lost or gained weight, put that in there. Always give the most recent information so you can get your best fix. This also applies to the Pinterest board--keep it current. If you search "Stitch Fix" on Pinterest, you'll get lots of ideas and see items that Stitch Fix has, so your stylist can pull them for you (if it's available)! 

So that's box number two in the books! The next one will be in December or January--I haven't decided yet. :) 

Simplifying the Holidays: The Gift of Presence

essaysEmily DeArdo3 Comments
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We're heading into the Holiday Season: Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, etc. All the joy. All the wonder. 

ALL THE STUFF TO DO!

Right? I currently have a very long list of things to do, and some of them need done this week, because my Thanksgiving is shaping up to be busier than my Christmas will be, in terms of guests in town and people I want to see. 

So, while I am doing some things to prepare (making people's favorite chocolate gingerbread, deep cleaning the kitchen floor, and writing out Christmas cards), I want to remember that the most important thing is to FOCUS

I want to give people my presence this holiday. 

That means, putting the phone away (Other than to take photos!). It means engaging in conversation, listening, having fun with people that I love. It means sharing stories and watching Christmas movies together, or playing Euchre, or getting hot chocolate at Barnes and Noble on Black Friday.

Gifts are great, but let's try to really focus on the people around us this holiday. Why are we working ourselves like crazy to get ready, if it's not so we can make magic for people in our lives? 

Let's focus less on magic, and more on memories that don't require a perfect living room, a perfect tree, or the perfect cards. 

Put your phones away. Talk to each other. Engage. Make memories. 

How you spend your time is how you spend your life. Spend it wisely. 

 

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Today is the feast day of Bl. Lucy of Narni. Yes, that Lucy, and that Narni-a. So avoid Turkish Delight, tea with fauns, and any white witches. But you can have tea with the beavers! Read about the real Lucy of Narni here

If you would like a great Advent devotional, may I suggest this one? (I'm editing the Lenten one!) 

And finally, Catholic 101 can be purchased here

I am not brave

essays, health, transplant, CFEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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Let's just get this out of the way. 

I am not brave. 

I am not courageous. 

I am definitely not a saint. 

Yet, people call me, and people like me, these things. 

This makes me really uncomfortable. 

Having CF, and having a transplant, do not make me brave. 

Are you brave when you get up, get dressed, have your breakfast, and go to work? When you do the dishes and get the mail and pay the bills? No. You're living your life and being responsible. 

When I did my treatments, took my enzymes, went to clinic, did IV meds...that was my life. When I take my meds in the morning, when I go to clinic now, that's my life. That's completely normal to me. It's not brave. It's not courageous. 

Deciding to have a transplant? It was just deciding to live my life, to do what I needed to do to extend it. I wasn't afraid of dying on the table, because I knew without the surgery, I'd die anyway. So, choosing transplant wasn't brave. It was pragmatic. 

Going to college? Getting my degree? Working? Again, no brave. Not courageous. Living my life. That's all.

When I see stories about how "Brave" people like me are, because we live with illness, I want to scream. It's not brave. It's just doing what you have to do with the hand you're dealt. What would you do? Curl up in a ball and refuse to leave your room? Refuse to do treatments? I guess. I knew CF people who did. 

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Bravery and courage are not what I have. I hated selling Girl Scout cookies. I'm not brave. I won't sky dive or even do a high-ropes course. I'm NOT A SAINT. I just am. I live my life the way all the rest of you do. This morning, I took my pills with my coffee. I've been taking pills with my breakfast since I was about two years old. It's not out of the ordinary. It's not brave. I'm not brave when I "let" people stick me multiple times to get an IV in. That's not bravery. That's what I have to do. What's my other option? 

My parents are brave. They hold it together when everything is threatening to fly apart. I am not brave. I'm just doggedly stubborn. 

Brave people are the people who rushed into the World Trade Centers on 9/11 to save the people inside, knowing they would probably die.  Navy SEALs are brave people. Soldiers, firemen, nurses, first responders--they're brave. I don't put my life on the line. I don't do anything to save other people. 

So please don't call me brave. I'm not. 

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(Catholic 101 is now available! Pick up your copy here: https://gum.co/RMkqu

 

Yarn Along No. 64

knitting, yarn along, booksEmily DeArdoComment

It's back! Whew!

Knitting definitely took a back seat during the frenetic pre-release period of Catholic 101. (Which you can purchase right here!)  But now that it's out in the world, I've got a bunch of orders to work on, starting with this little guy: 

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This is the Sugar Cookie Colorway, called "Lady Sibyl" in Barton Cottage Crafts parlance, because it mirrors a lot of the colors and personality of the youngest Downton Abbey sister, Sibyl Branson. And this is  tied with Lady Mary ("Red Velvet" colorway) as my top seller, so the Crawley sisters are dominating the BCC world these days. 

The book is Be The Gift, a photography book based on Ann Voskamp's The Broken Way. I really adore this little, pretty devotional, especially as we head into the holidays. Ann gives concrete ways to bless people's lives that don't involve a lot of time or talent expenditure--just a little bit of heart. 

And if you'd like a Basketweave scarf of your own, I'm currently taking orders! I have a pile of scarves to knit right now, so any orders will be ready late December/January, at this point (I think). I work on projects in the order I receive them, so first come, first served. So if you'd like a scarf, just drop me a comment and I'll email you back and we'll talk! The scarves are $35 each, about 40x6", and you get to pick your colorway. Just let me know! 

 

Making Life Accessible for All

ADA, essaysEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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 (I've written about the Americans with Disabilities Act here and here. ) 

I'm a big fan of the Americans with Disabilities Act. But I also don't think it goes far enough. And when people say, oh, we don't need it, it's unnecessary government intervention, I want to use this post as an example of how it doesn't go nearly far enough. 

I've never used a wheelchair on a daily basis. I've spent time in them in hospitals, but I've never had to move one myself. * My disabilities are invisible, for the most part. But I've become sensitive to how the ADA's application meets only the letter of the law, and not the spirit, and it was never more pronounced to me than this weekend, while I was out enjoying a day with my friends. 

Most people think that people in wheelchairs get pushed around by someone else. That's not entirely true. With car adaptations, different types of wheelchairs, and other innovations, people who rely on a wheelchair for mobility can get around by themselves--if the world decides to help them out. 

This weekend, I went to several places: a Mexican restaurant, a grocery store, a bookstore, and a movie theater. Only one of these places would've allowed someone who was in a wheelchair, or used a walker or crutches, easy access to the building. 

The Mexican restaurant had no handicapped button for the entrance, and there are two doors. The first one opens to a vestibule that has stools in it, and usually people waiting, and it's sort of narrow. You then have to open another set of doors to get into the restaurant, proper. And then you can get a seat, because they have wheelchair accessible tables. But if you're a person trying to get around without help, you're sort of stuck. 

The grocery store had sliding doors. Win. 

The bookstore is a local Barnes and Noble, and this is where I really noticed the problem. Barnes and Nobles have two sets of doors, in all their buildings, so they can sell discount books in the entryway. But the doors aren't power doors. So the person would have to pull open the door with one hand, somehow keep it propped open enough to wheel through, then open the second door, wheel through, all without, you know, hitting themselves, and assuming this can even be done. I'm guessing it can be, but it's probably difficult. 

The trip to the bookstore actually illustrated the problem I"m writing about here. There was a woman pushing another woman in a wheelchair. The woman pushing would've had to step in front of the chair, open the door, prop it open while someone else pushed the woman and her chair through, then prop open the next door and do the same thing. Instead, I held open the first door, and someone else held open the second. 

But think about this. This is madness. Why have a curb cut in the sidewalk leading up to the store, why have handicapped parking spaces, if there's no easy way for a handicapped person to enter without help? 

And then I decided to start taking photos. 

The next stop was the movie theater. This is where it got ridiculous. 

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This is the handicapped entrance, tucked off to the side. So at least there is one. 

But then this is the way into the theater from that entrance: 

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Do you see a problem here? 

When I started to think about it, it just got insane. We have curb cuts, but we don't have doors that allow easy access for wheelchair/walker/crutches users. What madness is this?! 

We need to start expanding the idea of disability. People who are disabled are also independent--or would like to be. But on my Saturday wanderings, my day would've been a lot harder if I'd been mobility-impaired. Now, I guess, if I was in a wheelchair, I'd be used to it, but that doesn't mean I'd like it

And of course there's all the other things. Stores having counters that are level so someone in a wheelchair can see over. Having accessible tables at restaurants (although I've seen this on the rise). The list goes on. 

The next time you're out, look around. How easy would life be if suddenly you couldn't walk? If you broke your leg or something? I'm betting your life would get a lot harder. And it doesn't have to be that way. 

We don't need these double entry doors. Put power doors on your entrances, if you're going to do that. Make it easy to find handicapped accessible entrances, and then don't block them! 

There is so much more work that needs to be done to give access to all people. So, yes, we need the ADA. We need it to be stronger, if anything--not done away with. 

*I have moved the chair, briefly, in hospitals. But not for long--they usually don't let you do that. 

Release Day Report

Catholic 101Emily DeArdoComment

It was incredibly busy, unnerving, nerve-wracking, and awesome, in the week leading up to releasing Catholic 101. There was so much to do--I spent Halloween night doing 20 PDF versions and I kept finding flaws in each one, but finally, on All Saints' Day, uploaded the FINAL version of the book to Gumroad. I was sort of terrified. What if no one buys it? (Other than the pre-orders, and I especially love you guys.) What if it's terrible and people buy it and hate it?

But I was so happy on release day--thank you all for your support and encouragement, and an especial thanks to everyone who has bought the book so far. I appreciate it so much. Really, I could just write thank you posts for the next five years and I don't think it would feel like enough, but...that would get boring for you guys to read. 

On release day, I popped confetti, I did a Facebook live, and I took a very relaxing bubble bath. 

My computer after the confetti pop. It was special confetti and I LOVE IT. 

My computer after the confetti pop. It was special confetti and I LOVE IT. 

On Saturday, I had Chuy's with my intrepid editor, Mary, and fabulous pal, Alissa (who is also like my unofficial publicist). 

Alissa and I even DRESS the same! 

Alissa and I even DRESS the same! 

And then I had the luxury of a movie (Thor: Ragnarok) with Tiff and Bill. It was a great Day of Jubilee, and just what I needed after the last month!

I am going to keep promoting the book on my social media channels, but I do other things there, too. I can write about new things here on the blog again! I can bring back Yarn Along! I'm doing NaNo this month too--at first the idea of staring at a screen and writing words was repellant, but I'm really enjoying this novel so far and I have very low expectations on myself fir this particular piece. And of course Thanksgiving and Christmas are rapidly approaching--my favorite time of year--so that'll bring fun things to talk about. And my parents went to Universal Studios and visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so I have all that stuff to talk about. 

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But, for today, I'm really thankful for all of you who have read, commented, encouraged, and supported my writing. It means so much to me. Thank you!

 

(If you want to order, you can do it on the side bar--there's the image of Catholic 101--and there's also the bar at the top of the page. Those are going to remain there for awhile!)

It is here! Catholic 101 RELEASE DAY!!!

behind the scenes, books, Catholic 101, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Cue the confetti! 

It's the release day for Catholic 101!

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This project has been years in the making. I'm so proud of it, and I'm so grateful for all the people who have already pre-ordered and have offered support and encouragement. 

If you haven't pre-ordered, you can grab it here

Have questions? Check out the answers here

I've been doing a lot of social media videos, so it's a good time to follow me on Instagram or Facebook to get all the goodness!

Thanks again for all the support. I really appreciate it! I hope you enjoy the book! 

Food Friday 7: Crock Pot Extravaganza Part One!

Emily DeArdoComment

Fall and winter are the times of year when I tend to really use my Crock-Pot. So for the next few weeks, we're focusing on Corck-Pot meals, but also meals that you can put in the oven or Dutch oven and cook low and slow for long periods of time. These are yummy, healthy meals! 

Our first recipe is from Outlander Kitchen. (I'm a huge Outlander fan, as you know!) This recipe is a chicken fricassee, which I made last week and loved. It's pretty healthy, too, if you remove the skin from the chicken thighs, which I did, and most of the prep work is simplicity. You do have to brown the chicken thighs first for the best color and flavor. But if you're really in a hurry, you can probably skip this step (and the additional oil and butter it calls me) and go right into the pot. Sadly, I didn't take a picture for this entry--bad blogger! But there's a great one on the OK site. 

I also skipped the sauce. I know. I didn't need any extra whipping cream in my life or on my hips. But if you want to, GO FOR IT. 

Here you go--enjoy!

(Also: Catholic 101 releases next Thursday! Have you pre-ordered your copy?) 

The release of Catholic 101

behind the scenes, books, Catholic 101, Catholicism, writingEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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So, I'm sure you've noticed that I've been talking up the release of my first ebook, Catholic 101, which has been in the works for well over a year now. I can't believe it's going to be going live! I'm really excited to share this with you. Today's post is going to walk you through the book and answer any questions you might have. 

Catholic 101, as long time blog readers know, started as a series here on the blog. Every Monday, I wrote a post about Catholicism based on the first grade CCD text I used in class (I was a CCD teacher at the time).  The reason? I'd noticed a lot of adult Catholics had big holes in their religious education--even cradle Catholics, and Catholics that had gone to parochial schools. As a Dominican, it's my job to spread the truth of the Gospel, and what better way to do it that to write a blog series? 

As the series progressed, my dad suggested that I compile the entries into an ebook, which would also give me the opportunity to expand on some topics, add new entries, and add resources in a comprehensive, tidy way that you can't really do on a blog. That's what Catholic 101, the ebook, is all about. 

Here are the details: 

*Over 80 pages of content, divided into four sections: The Basics, The Liturgical Year, Beliefs and Practices, and Prayers and Resources. 

*Six new or expanded entries in additional the original series content! New posts on Mary, Christmastide, the Ten Commandments, Angels, Papal Elections, and Papal Infallibility. (If you want to see what was covered in the original series, click over here.) 

*A list of recommended books

*A compendium of basic Catholic prayers

That sounds good, right? I think it does, anyway. We hit all the sacraments, Jesus' life, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, all the liturgical seasons, including a special look at Advent, Lent, and the Triduum. We talk about Mary and the rosary, and why the Eucharist is so vital to Catholic life. There are even Outlander, Pride and Prejudice, and Princess Bride references!

So, with all that goodness, here are the FAQs: 

1) How much is it? 

The book is $9.50. 

2) What the heck is Gumroad? 

Gumroad is the platform I've chosen to use for this release. I really like how they work on the business end (read: taxes are easy when it comes time for that) and the app is total simplicity. Just download it and bazinga! You can read your Gumroad products. 

3) I don't want to download Gumroad. Can I read it on other devices? 

You sure can! You can read it on Gumroad's website (which works on desktops, tablets, and mobile devices), and it will be available in formats for iBooks and Kindles. Wooo!

4) How do I know everything in it is right? I mean, you aren't a theologian. 

No, I'm not. I don't even play one on TV. But everything in the book has been copiously documented, with most of it coming right from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I've cited papal documents, websites, and lots of other resources, so you know you are getting correct information. I certainly don't want anyone to get bad information! That being said, despite the best efforts of myself and my editors, there's the possibility that there might be typos or things that aren't clear. In that case, drop me a line and we'll check it out!

5) When is the book actually available? 

November 2--the feast of All Souls. 

6) Why pre-order? 

Because you get it immediately! Those who have pre-ordered the book get it as soon as it's "live" on the Gumroad site. 

7) But I can still get it even if I don't pre-order, right? 

Right. Same price, same everything. 

I have a question you didn't answer

OK! Drop it in the comment box or use the contact form to drop me a line and I'll help you! 

You can pre-order here: 

 

 

 

My First Stitch Fix Box--An Honest Review and Tips

fun, fashion, Stitch FixEmily DeArdo2 Comments
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I've been curious about Stitch Fix for awhile, but my size prevented me from giving it a try. But since April I've lost 27 pounds, and I finally decided that the time was right to give this a whirl. If it was all terrible, well, at least I knew it wasn't for me, and I was out $20. But I was really intrigued by the idea of a stylist picking clothes for me. 

So what is Stitch Fix? It's a styling service. Here's how the site describes it: 


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. 

When the box arrives, it's time for the fun--trying on pieces. This is where I think Stitch Fix has a leg up over normal shopping. Since the box is shipped to you, you have your entire wardrobe at your disposal when you get these pieces. You can see right away if the things that were sent work with items you already have! You don't have to stand in the dressing room and think, "Do I have anything that will go with this? How will this look with my favorite heels? Do I already have things this color?" To me, that was huge. I'll explain more in a second, when we get to the pictures. 

(A word about the photos: This was my first time doing this, so they're not great. I'm sorry. They will improve in future Stitch Fix posts, I promise!!)

So, here's what comes in your box: 

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Five items are in every box. Along with that, you get a pre-paid USPS envelope (A BIG one) that you use to send back whatever you don't want. It's already labeled, all you have to do is put the clothes you don't want in and drop it in the mail box! You also get a note from your stylist, as well as style cards for each item in your Fix. The style cards show two styling ideas for each item. 

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As you can see from my note, my stylist, Christine, went above and beyond! She looked at my Pinterest board, and read my notes, and took them seriously! Three of the items I received were directly based on what I asked for, and the other two are totally my style. 

So, here go the clothes: 

Item Number 1: Pixley Greenich Striped Knit Top $48 

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I love a good Breton top, which is evident on my Pinterest page, so Christine knew what she was doing when she sent me this! It was heavy, almost sweater-like weight, so it's not just a t-shirt. It was very comfortable and soft, and I loved it--except....

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Elbow patches that weren't elbow patches. These are more like forearm patches on me, because the sleeves were too long--I have short arms--so it didn't work the way it was supposed to work, and made the shirt look too big. I loved this item, except for those dang patches!

(Styled with my Talbots jeans--so many jeans are long on me, and I should've rolled the cuffs, but I was in a hurry to show gorgeous clothes to everyone! The earrings are Silpada studs.) 

Verdict: Returned

 

Item Number 2: 41 Hawthorn Nadia Cargo Rain Jacket $78

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This was an item I specifically asked for, and I love it! I love the navy color and the whimsy of the polka dots. The coat also has a hood, and an adjustable waist, so you can cinch it however you want. 

A better view of the cinched waist. 

A better view of the cinched waist. 

The coat has a lovely soft liner and great pockets, so I knew this was a keeper. It's going to be one of my favorite pieces! 

(Styled with the jeans and my Garnet Hill flamenco knit skirt from about 12 years ago. When I find something I love, I wear it until it dies.) 

Verdict: Kept!

 

Item Number 3: Pixley Selena Faux Leather Detail Cardigan $64

 

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I love a cardigan. I do. Especially a lovely, soft, v-neck cardigan. However....

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Sadly, I am like the T.Rex in Meet The Robinsons: 

So as much as I loved this one, it was a no go. 

(Styled with Talbots jeans, J. Crew indigo t-shirt, Clarks patent leather flats)

Verdict: Returned

Item Number 4: Margaret M Kayla Skirt $64

This was another item I asked for specifically--a jersey skirt. I hate pencil skirts and like A-lines, full skirts, anything that's not a pencil. Christine saw that and sent this one accordingly!

I styled it two ways: 

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Styled here with the same J. Crew indigo tee and black Clarks flats--the more casual look. 

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This is with a J. Jill white camisole and a Banana Republic red v-neck cardigan (very lightweight so it's a great layering piece). 

Here's a detailed shot of the skirt: 

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I adore this skirt. I love that I can interchange it with so many things--I even have a navy blue cashmere sweater from J. Crew that will look fabulous with this. I can wear it with flats, or I could wear it with tights and heels or my boots. This is a total winner!

Verdict: Kept!

Item Number 5: Pixley Millie Textured Knit Dress $58

This was the one item in my fix that I was sort of nervous about. I love dresses, but it can be hard for me to find one that looks good on me. However, I was so excited to see this navy blue and white piece! And it is, by far, the most popular item in this Fix, according to my Facebook and Instagram friends: 

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The white part is sort of fuzzy--very soft, and the navy blue detail around the neck is mesh, but it works! This dress is going to be great for so many things--Easter, wedding rehearsal, bridal showers, etc. I'm so excited to wear it! 

I didn't take photos--bad blogger--but I tried this with my red cardigan from the previous item as well as a J. Crew navy blue cardigan I had, and both were winners. This dress could be styled up or down, depending. I could wear pearls with it, or a more casual necklace; I could wear my gold Sperries or my favorite patent leather black heels. I love a good mix and match piece. And this dress was so comfortable!

Verdict: Kept! 

I would've kept everything in my Fix, if not for those pesky elbow patches. If you keep all five items, you get 25% off your order! But those patches were my downfall, so those pieces went back. 

Once you decide what you're keeping, you go to "check out" on the Stitch Fix page/app. Be very specific about what you liked/didn't like about each piece, so your stylist can get the best feedback possible!

And now, for TIPS and FAQs. 

You do not have to receive a fix every month. You can receive one every 2-3 weeks, every month, every other month, quarterly...there's a bunch of ways to set it up! There is NO obligation to buy another box after your first one--it's completely up to you. I have heard that it can take two boxes to get you and your stylist to jell, so I do think it's probably worth getting two boxes, which I would've done even if I hadn't loved everything here. The fact that I loved everything just made it even easier! You can also adjust your Fix shipment schedule at any time. 

If you want to try Stitch Fix, I'd appreciate it if you'd use my referral link: I get a $25 credit for every Fix purchased via my link. However, my opinions in this post are totally my own. Stitch Fix didn't pay me to write this! 

Once you check out, your card will be charged for what you kept. The $20 styling fee will be credited to your purchases. There is also sales tax, which I forgot about--it was about $15 on this order. (Can't we all be like Pennsylvania and remove sales tax on clothes? Come on!)

If a piece in your fix isn't your size, you can ask for an exchange--sizes only, not colors. (At least not yet.) 

My Tips for Getting a Great Fix

1. Be VERY specific when filling out your Style Profile. I wrote things like "I hate pencil skirts, distressed/ripped items, dolman sleeves, and stilettos." I also dislike skinny jeans and ponchos, so I wrote that as well. I also noted that my brother is getting married in the spring, so I'd like to see spring dresses, and that I love flats and A-lines. 

In addition, you can write a note to your stylist after you schedule a fix. I wrote that I wanted a jersey skirt and a rain jacket, and behold! They appeared!  For my next Fix, I have noted that I'd like to try v-neck cardigans again, as well as pullover sweaters, and see things that I can wear to holiday gatherings. I'd also like to see a scarf or two, since I love to accessorize with them. 

2. Do a Pinterest board. Here is mine, and you can see, my stylist definitely looked at it! If you don't have Pinterest, it's worth it to get it just to do this board. If you type in "women's fashion" in the search bar, five million pins will come up. I love how Duchess Kate dresses, so she figures in a lot of my pins. I have a fairly classic, pretty style, and that's reflected in what I've pinned. Take the time to do it; it's fun, anyway. At least I thought so. Also put "Stitch Fix" in the title, so if the link is wonky, your stylist can still find it. 

3. Do not lie about your measurements. Come on, ladies. Put your real weight, your real bra size, your real height. Just be honest. :) And update it! If you've lost or gained weight, put that in there. Always give the most recent information so you can get your best fix. This also applies to the Pinterest board--keep it current. If you search "Stitch Fix" on Pinterest, you'll get lots of ideas and see items that Stitch Fix has, so your stylist can pull them for you (if it's available)! 

So, that's my first Stitch Fix box! The next one is arriving in mid-November, and I can't wait to have another fashion-y post with you. Sometimes we just need something fun, right? If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Food Friday 6: Pork chops with apples and onions

food, Food Fridays, recipesEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Continuing my apple theme here on Food Friday, here is one of my favorite pork chop recipes (besides this one). Apples and onions are a classic combination and they work well with the pork chops. Pork is really easy to overcook, so be sure you don't--keep an eye on them! Dry pork is really terrible. The recipe also calls for apple cider, so we're really getting the full apple effect here. (If you don't have cider, you can substitute water or apple juice.)

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Mustardy Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

from Dinner: A Love Story

Four pork chops, about 1 1/4 lbs., without bones, salted and peppered on both sides

olive oil, for the pan 

one apple, sliced

one large onion, sliced to the same width as the apple slices (You want these fairly thin)

two tbsp. mustard (dijon, whole grain, whole grain dijon....whatever)

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1/4 c. apple cider, apple juice, or water

Heat a large skillet with a lid over medium-high heat and add olive oil to the pan. When it's hot, add the pork chops and cook for four minutes on each side (they don't have to cook through). Remove the pork chops to a plate. Add the apples and onions to the skillet (adding more oil if needed), reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. 

Add the mustard, cider, and vinegar to the pan, and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom. Bring to a boil for one minute. Add the pork chops back in, nestling them in among the apples and onions, and reduce to a simmer. Put the lid on the pan, and let cook for five more minutes. When time's up, remove the lid, and serve. If the sauce is still too thin, remove the pork chops and boil, uncovered, for a minute. 

 

Note: the original recipe called for the apple to be peeled, but I didn't peel it. The apple skin has a good amount of fiber in it, so not only is it better to eat the whole thing, but it reduced prep work! 

 

 

Yarn Along No. 63

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

Anddd we continue the knitting! Since I'm working on getting the ebook ready for publication (you can pre-order here!), I'm keeping the blogging to a minimum and devoting all my energies to editing, and knitting, because I have commissions!

 

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So here we have a commission: this is the Lady Sibyl (after the youngest Crawley girl on Downton Abbey). The book was pretty good. Adriana T. can be hit or miss, and I'd wondered about this when it first came out. It's got a bunch of side plots/characters that the book doesn't need, but the core story is good. 

 

Food Friday 5: A recipe for apple season

food, Food Fridays, recipesEmily DeArdoComment
apples.jpg

I actually have two recipes for apple season, but I want to share the second with you next week. 

This is a great time to see if there are any U-pick orchards or farm stands near you, because apples and so many other vegetables and fruits are peaking right now. Every year my parents make at least one trip to the fruit farm near us to buy cider (even peach cider!), apples, and other produce and locally-made products. So while you can always get apples at the grocery, when they're local and fresh, they're even better!

There are so many types of apples, it's enough to make your head spin.  I like Granny Smiths, Golden Delicious, Jonathans, Galas, Fijis, and Honeycrisps. You can taste test to see what you like best--I think it's fun to try the different varieties! Apples are high in fiber, vitamin C, and various antioxidants. So besides being delicious, there are plenty of health benefits in them. 

This year my bag of apples are BLANK HERE, and when I have the bag on my counter or in my fridge (and you can even freeze them for longer-term storage), I pull out my apple recipes. This first one is a very quick option for a filling breakfast the next morning and it takes less than five minutes to prep. Really. 

Overnight Apple Oatmeal

adapted from The Oh She Glows! Cookbook

2 apples

1 cup oats (I use steel-cut)

1 cup vanilla yogurt (you can use coconut or non-dairy yogurt if you want) 

Peel and core both apples. Grate one into a mixing bowl, and dice the other. Place the diced apple in the mixing bowl. Add the yogurt and oats and mix well. Place in the refrigerator over night (or for at least two hours). In the morning, you'll have a ready to eat breakfast, no cooking required! 

Yarn Along No. 62

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo1 Comment

I'm SO GLAD that I'll be having a new, fun, just for me project starting soon! But in the meantime, here are two recent Barton Cottage Crafts finished products for your perusal. :) 

First up, the Fanny Price. I chose this color way (called "Surf's Up") because of Fanny's brother's enlistment in the Navy, as well as Fanny being from Portsmouth, a naval port in England. 

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And here's the Brianna Randall, based on the Outlander character who wore a Day-Glo colored dress to the moon launch party in Drums of Autumn. I think she'd love these colors!

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Right now I'm reading The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker, which I checked out of the library along with several other novel, so I'm looking forward to reading them!

 

(Speaking of reading: Don't forget that my ebook, Catholic 101, is available to pre-order!

Catholic 101 is available for PRE-ORDER!!!!!

Catholic 101, current projects, writingEmily DeArdoComment
Catholic 101 (1).jpg

Guys! I'm so excited to let you know that my eBook, Catholic 101, is finally available for pre-order on Gumroad! Yayyy! 

It works just like regular pre-orders; you'll be the first to get it when it's officially released next month. You will need to download the Gumroad app on your tablet or phone, which is super easy to do--you can just search for it in the app store--and voila, access to the book! It'll also be available on desktops, you just don't need an app for that. It works right off the Gumroad website. How easy is that, right? 

It's $9.50 for 80 pages of content, with several pieces that are new and exclusive only to the ebook--you won't find them on the blog or anywhere else. I wrote special pieces on the ten commandments, Mary, angels, Christmastide, Papal elections, and the Trinity--six new ebook exclusives! 

I've been working on this project for over a year now and I'm so excited to finally present it to you. I hope that you all love it! If you have any questions, please let me know! 

Welcome, October

behind the scenes, essays, current projects, writingEmily DeArdoComment
anne october.jpg

 A month ago I was in Duck, NC, sitting in Duck's Cottage, writing in my journal and thinking about what the month would hold. And now it's October, one of my favorite months of the year. It finally feels like fall here in Ohio, so all the windows are gloriously open, the nights actually feel chilly, and it's definitely candle-lighting season at my house. 

September was a month of great progress, both inner and outer, and I'll be writing about that over the next few days. My October Power Sheet tending list is huge. A lot of it is small things, but there's a lot I want to accomplish this month! One of the big things is finally finishing my ebook and getting it ready to sell! Yay! It's so close, guys, and I'm so excited to present it. 

Do you set monthly goals? What do you want to accomplish in October? 

And happy Feast Day, St. Therese!  Little bloggy throwback there. 

Have a great Sunday, everyone! 

Kneeling, Standing, Sitting....

essaysEmily DeArdo2 Comments
I'm going to hide under the covers until the NFL controversies are all over....

I'm going to hide under the covers until the NFL controversies are all over....

While I'm on a controversial topic jaunt, I might as well address the NFL thing.

Here are my questions: 

What are the players who are kneeling trying to accomplish?

and

Is this the best way to accomplish it?

My answers are, I'm not sure anymore, and two, no. 

I think all this started with Colin Kaepernick wanted to protest police brutality against unarmed black men, and support the Black Lives Matter movement. OK. He has a right, as an American citizen, to do that. I'm not generally a fan of "awareness" campaigns; for example, I think we're all aware of autism, breast cancer, HIV/AIDS, etc. by now. The general public does not need to be made aware that these things exist. But let's leave that for a second. 

Some people have the idea that free speech= "consequence free", "say what I want any time I want to say it" speech. Much the same way that your right to extend your arm ends where my nose begins, protesting something on company time, and/or while representing a team/country/group, can get you into trouble. 

NFL players are citizens, and they have the same rights as all citizens do. But when they wear the uniform, when they go out to play, they are representing their team. And most teams, and most leagues, and most businesses,  have rules about appropriate behavior when you are on "company time". 

Which leads me to point two: this is not a good way to bring attention to the matter. First off, most people watching don't care what the players' political causes are. Let's just be honest. When people go to a game or a concert or any entertainment event, they usually don't want to hear the political stylings of the actors/athletes/entertainers involved. A famous example is the Dixie Chicks, circa 2005. Most people just want to be entertained. If people wanted politics on Sunday afternoon, they'd be watching CNN or MSNBC or FoxNews, not The NFL on CBS

So, any attention brought to these causes, during these protests or whatever, is negative attention, especially when it is done in a way that is sort of classless. One can discuss a cause that is close to one's heart during a concert or something. I've attended concerts where the artist has spoken about her love of the environment and protecting it, or the artist's particular charity. That's one thing. To do it in a way that is not quite so full of comity is a bit...gauche. And also, it's not productive. It completely turns off people from what you're saying to how you're saying it. 

 When you are an athlete who decides to take a knee during the national anthem, which holds a fairly sacrosanct place in American public life, you are most likely going to get backlash. If you're going to protest during a game, could you choose any worse time to do it? I think not, just from a PR standpoint, or even a common sense standpoint. 

If racial injustice/ police brutality is something these players wish to draw attention to, that's great. Do it on your own time, guys. It's not like any of you lack for a bully pulpit, should you choose to take it. If you genuinely care about a cause, then start a foundation. Give press conferences. Make speeches. Visit the mayor, the governor, Congress. Do it in myriad other ways than refusing to stand and salute the flag of the country that, with all its issues, is also allowing you to make millions of dollars a year playing a game.  The fact that you can do that, that you are doing that in America is sort of amazing in and of itself. And, oh, those millions of dollars? Are sort of dependent on not irritating the people who come to watch you.  Ask the Dixie Chicks how well politicking from the stage helps you to sell records. 

There are many ways to make a positive contribution to our political life, and there are many ways to protest. This is not a productive one. No one wants to see the host of Face the Nation  on The NFL Today. No one tunes in to the pre-game show to hear what Bill or Terry or Boomer or Shannon have to say about politics. They want to hear them talk about defensive schemes and coaching changes. If you want political commentary, you're watching a news channel, not sports. 

The argument can be made that people should be disturbed, they should be shaken up, by these things going on. OK, again, fine. That's a legitimate point. But there is a time and there is a place and there are much better tactics that will serve to make your point, other than refusing to stand for the national anthem. Think about other, more constructive options. Because what's happening is, attention isn't brought to the cause. Attention is brought to you, making it look self-serving and egotistical. 

Because right now, we're not talking about any Big Issues. We're talking about which team had the most players kneel during the opening of a football game, played in the Wealthiest Country in the World, by guys who are getting paid millions to catch, or stop people from catching, a ball. 

(And if you want to make your point, please don't wear socks that have pigs dressed as cops, because that's just horrible bad taste, and keeps you from making your point and helping your cause. )

**Just a side note: I don't mind that the players get paid a lot of money. It's a basic principle of economics. They do something a lot of people can't do, and a lot of people will pay a lot of money to watch them do it. I'm just using it to illustrate the point that they have a lot of resources at their disposal that could be used to further any cause they care to champion in a more positive way. 

What We Think It Means

Catholicism, essaysEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Most of us are probably familiar with the line from The Princess Bride : "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." 

There's a lot of that going on in our country today. 

Let's take a really common word: Sinner. What does this word mean? 

If you google the definition, this is what you get: 

a person who transgresses against divine law by committing an immoral act or acts.

If you're Christian, we could take this to mean--breaking the 10 commandments, for a start. But you can break that down into lots of other things. 

But the whole point of Christianity is that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, came to Earth and died to save sinners, which is everyone. No one is perfect. Every single person is a sinner. 

So when I see signs that say "sinners welcome" on church billboards, I wonder, where are the churches where sinners aren't welcome? Because that's the whole reason the churches exist

Now: that being said. There is a difference between a repentant sinner and a sinner who persists in sinning. When you go to confession, one of the key things in order to receive absolution is that you must be sorry for your sins, but you also must say that you're going to try to avoid it in the near future. So, if you go into the confessional, and you say you gossip, and you're really going to try to stop, but you don't mean it--you have no intention of stopping, you just want the "rubber stamp", so to speak, of forgiveness--then it's not true contrition. You have to have the contrition. 

But if you go in and say you're going to stop gossiping, and then you go out to dinner the next day with your friends and you gossip, and then your next thought is Oh dang it! , then you're trying to stop. You're not perfect. You haven't conquered that sin yet. But you are attempting to quit. That makes a difference. It's like a person who's trying to lose weight. Sometimes you gain some back, but the key is--are you still trying? If you are, then you're on the way toward success. If you're not, then....

Now, this is all wholly different than saying "we welcome sinners, and you can just keep right on sinning and that's just fine with us." NO. Nuh-uh. 

Every person, in every pew across the world, every weekend, is a sinner. But there's a difference between a church who says, "we love you, but this thing you're doing? It's not good. It's sinful. It needs to stop," and a church who says, "oh, we love you and your sin. You don't need to change. That's OK. Because it's not really sin anyway. It's just you!" 

What did Jesus say to the adulteress? Go and sin no more. Not, oh, it's OK lady, keep doing what you're doing. 

Sin is terrible. It had terrible consequences. We all sin. But that doesn't mean that we should keep doing it because it's our default, so to speak. We have to work against it, and try to become the people God created us to be. Everyone has a particular fault--or several--that they struggle with. I sure do. I'm sure you do. Everyone does. 

God applauds effort. The church applauds effort. Effort actually counts! But saying that a person's decisions are not sinful, that we just love them as they are--that's a lie. That's what GW used to call the soft bigotry of low expectations. 

Christians are required to love everyone. What's that line from The Incredibles? "The law requires that I answer no!" But as a wise Dominican once told me, "people don't have to like you. They have to love you." 

Love is hard  and love is tough. A parent that doesn't discipline his kids ends up with spoiled brats. A church that doesn't try to guide her people toward salvation, our highest possible God, and eternal life and happiness with God, isn't doing its job. The Church isn't loving you if it's not telling you the truth in charity. It's doing you an eternal disservice. 

 

 

Food Friday 4: An Outer Banks recipe

Food Fridays, food, recipesEmily DeArdoComment
From Our State magazine 

From Our State magazine 

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

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

Shrimp 'n' Beer

from The Outer Banks Cookbook by Elizabeth Wiegand

2 pounds shrimp, unpeeled

one 12-ounce beer (not lite)

1 cup water

1 medium onion, sliced

1 lemon or lime, sliced

4 garlic cloves, slivered

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

1 tbsp salt

2 tbsp Old Bay seasoning

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. whole black or mixed peppercorns

1 c. prepared cocktail sauce (your favorite brand)

Rinse shrimp and set aside to drain. 

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

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

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

NOTE:

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

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