Emily M. DeArdo

Celebrating Ordinary Joy

Friendship and Guinness Cake

food stories, recipesEmily DeArdo1 Comment

I've always loved to bake, even when I was a little kid and I didn't quite grasp that if you bake, you must clean up. And I've made a lot of cakes in my life, including a three layer Peanut Butter monstrosity for a friend's Christmas party one year. 

But this cake....this is really the only cake I make anymore. 

This is a Guinness Cake. Do you see the resemblance to a pint of Guinness with the foamy head? (No?) And this cake is really the only cake recipe you ever need. 

I have made this cake for parties, birthdays, dessert after a dinner party--you name it, this cake has been there. It's a cake that men adore, probably because it's not too sweet. This is a damp, rich cake that is also good for breakfast. (No judgment, right?) 

I almost never make it unless it's for a friend get-together, so when I make it, it brings back a lot of good memories. Try it, and make some memories of your own. 

But once you start making it, you'll never be able to stop making it. People will ask for it forever. It's a hard-knock life. But this cake is worth it.

Guinness Cake

from Nigella Lawson's Feast 

Notes: Before you start, make sure the butter, eggs, and cream cheese (for the frosting) are room temperature. You will have a much better cake! * I set the pot over medium heat--the recipe doesn't specify a temperature, but medium's always worked for me. * I usually bake the cake the day before the party, and then frost it the day of. The cake is so damp that it will hold very well. 


1 c. Guinness (I use extra stout) 

1 stick + 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 c. sugar

3/4 c. sour cream 

2 eggs

1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking soda

For the icing: (optional)

8 oz. cream cheese

1 1/4 c. confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)

1/2 c. heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and line a 9" springform pan with parchment paper. 

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan (I use my Dutch oven, actually), add the butter in slices, and heat until butter's melted. Whisk in cocoa and sugar. In a separate bowl, beat the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla together and then add them to the beer mixture. Finally, whisk in flour and baking soda. Whisk until well-combined.

Pour the cake batter into the pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. It's a very damp cake. 

When it's completely cool, make the frosting. Lightly whip the cream cheese until smooth, sift over the confectioner's sugar, and then beat together. Add the cream and beat again until it makes a spreadable consistency. Ice the cake. (This makes a lot of frosting. You want to frost this cake thickly, so try to use all of it, if possible.) 



Catholic 101: Confirmation

Catholic 101Emily DeArdoComment

Confirmation is a hard sacrament to explain. 

It's NOT a coming of age thing--although most people think it is. 

It can be given at a variety of ages; in some places, it's given before First Holy Communion; in some places, it's not given until sixteen years of age. Parishes within the same diocese vary greatly: at my current parish, it's given in sixth grade; at my parochial school, it was eighth grade; at the parish in my parents' town, it's 10th grade. 

What is going on?! 

Let's try to get down to basics. 

In Confirmation, the confirmand (person to be confirmed) receives the gifts of the Holy Spirit. 

We've talked about form and matter previously. So here, the form is the bishop (or designated priest, if the bishop can't perform the sacrament for some reason) saying, "be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit." The matter is the holy chrism (Which is also used in baptism), which is placed on the confirmand's forehead in the sign of the cross. 

The Scriptural basis for Confirmation is from the Acts of the Apostles: 

Now when the apostles, who were in Jerusalem, had heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John. Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost.For he was not as yet come upon any of them; but they were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost.-- Acts, 8:14-17. 

In Confirmation, the Confirmand also received the gifts of the Holy Spirit. There are seven of them. Confirmation gives the confirmand strength to live out their Christian vocation and their specific calling. 

The confirmand also chooses a patron saint. The Church asks that a baby be baptized with the name of at least one saint (my name is two--there's a St. Emily, and Michele is the feminine form of Michael--St. Michael the Archangel.). However....that doesn't always happen. In Confirmation, the confirmand selects a saint that is meaningful to them. I chose St. Therese of Lisieux. 

Confirmation completes the sacraments of initiation. At this point, you are an "adult" in the sense that you are fully "initiated" into the church, having had all three sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation). 



Seven Quick Takes No. 122

7 Quick Takes, food, books, writingEmily DeArdo2 Comments


Happy Friday, everybody!!!!

Here's what I wrote about this week, ICYMI: 

Hospital Hair Salons (With a follow up next week!) 

Catholic 101: The Eucharist


We FINALLY had rain! Lots and lots of rain! My plant doesn't look like it's going to die now! Yay!!!!! (Even when you water a plant copiously, when it's 90+ degrees for many days in a row, the plant will look very sad.) Just in time for school starting, the weather has become less hot and more normal--70s and low 80s. I can handle this. In fact, this is sort of my perfect type of weather. I am ready for my sweaters!  


This was this week's Kitchen Adventure: 

This is the Guinness Cake. The Cake of My Heart. And next week, it'll get its own Food Stories post!  (It's been awhile since I've done one of those!) 


I'm falling down on the reading this month, but I do have the new Mother Teresa book, A Call To Mercy on my iPad, as well as Shauna Niequist's Present Over Perfect.


In my own writing: I'm working on some submissions and still editing the memoir. Always, right? And NaNoWriMo 2016 is over the horizon, so I need to come up with a novel idea to write this year!


After a long hiatus, I'm back to the knitting, because my new yarn bowl arrived. So back to those knits and purls. I'm using up some odds and ends of yarn so this is definitely a project for me, and not a gift. And I need to start thinking about Christmas gifts too, yikes! And birthday gifts for my fall people!


Has school started where you are? I remember when it started at the end of August. The beginning/middle of August feels so odd for school start dates. Course they also get out a lot earlier than I did, too.But starting on August 16 (when a lot of schools here started) seems wayyyy too early for me. 




Hospital hair salons: An idea to support mental and physical health

healthEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I know that, when someone says, "You know what hospitals need?" your first answer probably isn't "a hair salon!" 

And, OK, it's probably not the most pressing need in hospitals. I know that. I'm very fortunate to live where I live and have access to world-class hospitals that are fully stocked with vital equipment, supplies, drugs, and staff. I don't have to worry that the hospitals don't have an X-ray machine, or lack sterile needles. 

But more and more, hospitals are focusing on providing not just the basics of health care, but providing a more holistic approach to care. The hospital I'm at most frequently has a massage therapy department, child life specialists, play groups for all ages, teachers who tutor students, and evening entertainment is often scheduled. Even in adult hospitals, there's a focus on providing creature comforts, like lots of TV channels, increasing the quality of the food served to patients, and improving rooms so that patients have more privacy and comfort. 

I think having a hair salon-like area would fit right into this scheme at many hospitals. 

Think about a regular week for you. How often do you shower/wash your hair? And if you're like me, you don't just take baths for utilitarian reasons. You take them to relax, unwind, or just enjoy the hot water and bubbles. 

When you're in the hospital for a long time (as in, more than three days), basic things become a lot of work. Things like being clean, that people in the real world take for granted. Seriously, when was the last time you got in the shower or the bath and thought about how you would be able to wash yourself if you had medical equipment and IVs attached to you? How could you wash your hair if you couldn't get one of your arms wet (Or either of them)? Or what if you couldn't get into a tub or shower at all, because you have chest tubes coming out of you, or you were getting constant IV infusions? (We won't even talk about things like shaving your legs. That's just well-nigh impossible.) 

I have, in the course of 34 years, been subjected to every kind of hospital hair washing arrangement that can exist. Let me count the ways:

1)  The communal bathroom: where the floor has one bathtub, which you have to watch like a hawk to get. Then you lock yourself in--with a parent, or someone to help you, because you can't wash your hair yourself. Mom would wrap Saran wrap around the parts that couldn't get wet, try to tape it up with medical tape (I say "try" because the tape wasn't really designed to be sticky in the humid conditions of a bathroom), and then wash my hair while I tried to keep the improvised "dressing" from getting wet. The benefit to this was that at least I could wash my body.

2) The "bed basin" method: you stay in bed, and a small, inflatable basin (it basically looks like a kiddy pool for Barbie dolls) is put under your head. Then you can get your hair washed, you don't have to move, and everything stays dry. The problem is, you didn't wash anything but your hair, and if your hair is long, combing it out after this method is a disaster. It's also hard to get all the shampoo out, because you're working with a small pool of water. So you don't get really clean hair. Meaning, you have to do it again, soon. Boo hiss. 

3) The lean over the sink method, forwardterrible. Same issues as above, water gets everywhere, it's a general mess, and if you have anything on your chest (like, say, my port), you are frantically trying to keep it dry. Not good. 

4) The shampoo "cap": It works in a pinch. But generally your hair looks and feels awful after this has been used. It looks like a shower cap with shampoo "built in". You add water and there you go. Not good. The much better option is dry shampoo (which is a godsend, let me tell you.). 

5) The lean over the sink method, backwards: At least you don't have water in your face with this method, or running all down your front. However, it's rather painful if you have anything attached to you--and the sinks aren't usually at a good level. I remember being put on a tall chair from the nurse's station (on wheels!), then titled back. Water, water everywhere. 

6) The "Shower seat" method: This involves taping yourself down, again, so that what's supposed to stay dry, stays dry, and you basically make a mess of the bathroom. You sit on the shower seat, while you use a hand held shower head to wash your hair. It's not the best method. (Mostly because you have ZERO privacy. At all.) 

You can see, all these methods are sort of terrible. They are difficult, they are messy, they take a lot of time, and they are not mentally or physically beneficial. I loathe washing my hair when I'm in the hospital. It takes--not kidding--about an hour, to gather all the materials, to tape myself up, and then try to do it with minimal issues for the staff, because they have enough to do without making sure I have enough towels. And we won't even talk about the hair dryers that you're given. (My hospital doesn't like you to bring in your own hair dryer. Strange, but true.)  

Some fantastic nurses try to work a hair washing into the day, coming in when they have down time. And I appreciate this. But, again, there's usually not a lot of privacy. I know, I know--nurses have seen everything. But I'd like some mystery left in our relationships, here! 

I want you to image with me for a second. Imagine you are sick. You feel like crap. It takes a huge amount of effort to do anything, including go to the bathroom. You know you should take a shower, but it takes a ton of effort. You know your hair looks awful, but you can't wash it on your own. So on top of feeling like crap, you also look like crap, and this makes you feel worse

What we need are hospital hair salons.

They do not have to be fancy. They could be one or two salon-style sinks and chairs, where patients could lean back--and not worry about hurting themselves or the equipment--and have their hair washed well, with clean water, in a sink that is appropriately deep. So the shampoo isn't getting the hair dirty again, and you're not using dirty water, and everything that needs to stay dry is staying dry! The body isn't in a weird position--it's supported by the chair. A towel cushions the sink neck rest, just like at a salon, so water is absorbed and not running down the back of the chair or the patient.  

You need to have someone who can wash the hair, comb it, dry it--with a good hair dryer, not one from 1970. That's it. No styling involved (unless, you know, someone really wants an updo for that meeting with the surgeon in the morning). Just clean, combed, and dried hair that will last longer and look better than anything heretofore seen. For the rest of the body, the patient can get into a tub and get clean, without worrying about hair or getting things wet. (In my hospital, each room now has a rather shallow tub. It's not meant for bubble baths, but you can get in and out very easily, and you can keep things that are on your chest or arms dry. It's revolutionary, I tell you.) 

You wouldn't need professional hair stylists, just anyone who knows how to give a good shampoo and can work a hair dryer. Instead of it taking an hour, it could take 15 minutes. Nurses wouldn't have to wash patients' hair anymore (with the exception of very sick patients who couldn't be moved). Parents wouldn't have to do it. I always feel so much better after a bath, and having clean hair is a great thing. I hate the feeling of dirty hair. (And really, how hygienic can that be?)  

A very quick internet search reveals that a shampoo chair costs range widely, but you can get one for under $200.  A porcelain shampoo bowl costs around $300 (plastic knocks the price down about $100.) Hair products (shampoo and conditioner) wouldn't have to be expensive--you could even use the hospital stuff, or whatever the patient brings with them (yes, I bring my own shampoo to the hospital.) A decent blow dryer? $50 or so.  So let's say $600 per setup, to give us a cushion. $1200 for two. (Materials that can be sterilized/wiped down between patients, to keep things appropriately clean, are tantamount, so that might force a certain material over another.) Obviously you'd have to have plumbing arranged appropriately, and a space that's dedicated to this. But when you think about how hospitals have showers in the ICU for parents/family members to use, it's not too crazy. 

$600 is not chump change. But the benefits to patients, families, and staff would be incredible. I've been in the hospital for a month at a time.  There are people who spend months in the hospital. How would you feel if you weren't really able to wash your hair--or have someone else do it properly--for months? You'd feel pretty gross after awhile. I guarantee you. Dry shampoo only does so much. Sink baths are cute for babies, but not for anyone else. 

When I floated this on Facebook, I got a huge responses from women who have been in the hospital and understood this. But it wasn't just patients--it was parents, too, who have boys and girls who spend lots of time in the hospital, and thought this would be a good idea. I was actually surprised by the amount of people who liked this idea.

So the question then is--how would we actually get these in a hospital? What are the logistical issues that would keep a hospital from having a set-up like this? 

This isn't just for kids. It's for anyone who's in the hospital for a long time. You want to feel human, even when you're sick. A hospital hair salon (or blowout bar, I guess this is) would do a lot to increase patient well-being, both mentally and physically. 

Can we make this happen? 




Catholic 101: The Eucharist

Catholic 101, CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment

OK, everyone. Buckle up. 

I mean it. 

I love the Eucharist. I could write a whole tome on it, here. I realize the Eucharist is one of the more misunderstood Catholic doctrines. So we're talking about first communion, but we're also going to talk about the Eucharist more generally. OK? 


OK, so first off, what is the Eucharist?

Catholics believe that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus ChristIt's not a symbol. After the bread and wine have been consecrated by the priest, it IS Jesus Christ, here, present, fully, in the host. 

As Flannery O'Connor said: 

We take Jesus at His word when he said "this is my body." We take John 6 seriously. 

If it's just a symbol, then, so what? Why do it? Why have it? 

But to us, it's not a symbol. It is JESUS CHRIST. That's why we have Eucharistic adoration, why we reserve the sacrament in the tabernacle, and why we treat it (or should treat it!) with reverence. It's why we genuflect when we go into the pews--because Jesus Christ is actually present in our churches, in the Eucharist. 

Since we treat the Eucharist so reverently, not just anyone can receive it. That's why First Communion is such an important sacrament to Catholics--it's the day when you can receive Jesus in Communion for the first time. This is huge! 

For Catholics, you have to be at the "age of reason", which is seven years old. You have to be able to understand Who you are receiving. That doesn't mean that you have to understand the Ins and Outs of Transubstantiation, but you do have to know it's not just bread the priest is giving you. 

In some places, First Confession precedes first communion. But for our purposes, we'll talk about that later. 

I always told my CCD kids that I never, ever wanted to see them go up to communion sloppily. The number of people I've seen just shuffling up to communion, like they're going to receive a hot dog at a baseball game! NOOOOOO! STOP IT! You should be totally aware to what you're doing and Who you are about to receive. 

Going back to our discussion of matter and form: The matter is the unleavened bread and wine. No, you cannot use grape juice, or Pepsi, or water. It must be wine. And no, you can't use bread from Kroger, or Doritos, or pita bread, or crackers. It must be unleavened bread. I was absolutely shocked the first time I went to a Protestant service (it was orientation at college--I couldn't get to Mass, but then did offer Catholic communion from an extraordinary minister of communion). The pastor got out a loaf of Kroger bread, and Kroger grape juice. 

You don't have to receive both species (that's what it's technically called--the species). At my parish, we never offer the wine to the communicants. It's only ever the Host. But that's OK. 

The form is the words of consecration, said by the priest, as part of the Eucharistic Prayer: 

Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given up for you.
Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me.  

After the priest--and ONLY the priest--says the words of consecration, the bread and the wine have BECOME the Body and Blood of Christ. 

Since the Church believes that when we receive communion, we are taking Jesus into our very selves, there are a few rules: 

  1. You should have fasted for one hour before receiving (water and medicine don't count. And if you have to take food with the medicine, you can.)  
  2. You must not receive if you are in a state of mortal sin. If you are in a state of mortal sin and you receive communion, then you're committing sacrilege, on top of already being in a state of mortal sin. You're just making things worse! (This is one reason that my parish offers confession before every Mass.) 


Now, many of my Protestant friends have expressed disdain that they cannot receive communion at a Catholic Mass. A few points on that: 

  1. You could receive, if you really wanted to. There's not a Secret Catholic handshake before you receive. However: 
  2. You don't believe what you believe about it, so why would you say you do? That's what the "amen" after "The Body of Christ" means. Why would you do something that's basically a lie? Bad form!
  3. Communion isn't like a hand stamp that indicates you participated at Mass. Plenty of people go to Mass and do not receive communion (all the kids under 7, for example). You can participate fully in the Mass without receiving. I know, your head is spinning here, but it's possible! Receiving communion isn't like getting a heavenly check mark. "OK, Mr. Jones is here....." It is perfectly permissible to attend Mass and not receive Communion. In fact, if you're not properly disposed to receive, it's the better option! 

Here are the USCCB's guidelines for receiving communion. 


Like I said above, I love the Eucharist. I get very upset when I see people not treating the sacrament with the reverence it deserves. That means churches where the tabernacle is basically in another room, away from the sanctuary; where people just go up to receive like, la-di-dah; etc. 

Catholics! You are receiving God! Jesus is physically present in every Catholic church. If that doesn't fill you with awe, you need your awe-meter checked. 

As JRR Tolkien said: 

Catholics, please remember what a supreme gift we have in the Eucharist. Treat it accordingly! 



Seven Quick Takes No. 121

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment


Ohio weather is extreme. 

In the winter, we can plunge to Hoth-like levels of cold, when everyone wishes they had a Tauntaun to stay warm inside, and hibernation in the order of the day. 

In the summer, hibernation can ALSO be the order of the day--because it's SO DARN HOT. 

We don't quite hit Houston levels of heat (100+ for the temperature), but we've been in the upper 80s for a week now, and I'm about done. With my skin, I generally hibernate whenever it's super sunny (and almost always from noon-two), but when it's super sunny, AND hot AND humid? No. 

I would pay a lot of money for a decent rain storm right now. 

I love summer more than winter--I'd rather have this heat than freezing cold. So I'm trying to embrace it and remember that this will be something I want when I can't even take the trash out without putting on boots and scarves and hats and gloves and my Puffy Coat. 


Did you know there was a right way to put bobby pins in your hair? I didn't. But apparently you're supposed to put the crinkly side down, not up. Whoops. 

I'm such a hair fail. Fortunately my friend Andrea showed me this website, and now I'm going to try to become less hair impaired.  This style, especially, looks like it will be good for when the weather makes me want to shave my head. 


School officially starts around these parts next week. In other parts of the state, it started today. I can't believe how early school starts now, but I have to say, when I was in school, I was "done" with summer by now. I wanted to be back to a routine. Routine is my friend, even as an adult. I do like some spontaneity, but generally, if I don't have a routine, I end up sitting at home in my pajamas mindlessly watching Fraggle Rock, and that's no good (as much as I love Wembley and Red). 

I've finally disciplined myself enough to have the start of a good morning routine: get up, start the coffee, say Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours and read my daily devotionals, get coffee, have breakfast. It's finally reached a point where this is just what I do--it's become a habit. Thank goodness. 


Habits experts tell us that routine is a great thing, because it saves us from having to make decisions and use willpower. If we know we're going to get up and do X, Y, Z right away, then bang, it's done. You don't need to think about it. It's become like brushing your teeth or getting dressed. You just do it. 

The next step is when to work in my workout. I've found that doing it before lunch is actually a really good spot for me, but it's not automatic yet. I'm working on getting it to that point, whether I actually leave the house for barre class, or do a workout video at home, or whatever. 


Italian is a strange language. Verbs can be nouns. Nouns can be verbs. You can completely leave the subject out. But I'm on track to be 50% fluent by the end of the year, which is one of my Powersheets goals, so I keep practicing. I love the Duolingo app.  


I will OFFICIALLY be a Children's Hospital volunteer really soon, which is exciting. After spending so much of my life there, it's nice to give back a bit to other patients and families. And it gives me an excuse to find a cool lanyard for my volunteer badge. 


If you've read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, what did you think of it? Spill in the comments. 

Summer Scribbles: Journal keeping

essays, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Today's SITS girls prompt: 

Do you keep a journal? 

I sure do. 

I have since I was 12 years old, actually, and my Aunt Patty sent me a Hallmark diary for my birthday. It's one of those that had the little combination lock that after about 20 uses just popped open without the combination, so it wasn't the world's best security measure, but my siblings knew better than to try to sneak my journal (although I didn't really try to hide it. It was always on my nightstand.) 

Since then, I've always kept one. Sometimes I write with more fervor than others, but I've always had one with me, and I save them all. In my house there are two big bins full of my journals. My currrent one is a red Moleskine I got at the Strand in NYC a few years ago. I generally buy journals when I'm on vacation and then they get used a few years later; when I was in California I bought a Bouchon Moleskine notebook. I've also got a notebook my parents brought me back from Disney World when they went back in 2011. People also gift me journals at an alarming rate, but I don't mind this. 

My blog isn't my journal, and my journal isn't my blog. This is something I think people can easily get confused, especially younger bloggers. What I write on this blog is obviously public. What I write in my journal is intensely private. Sometimes I'll use what I've written in my journals as a springboard for public writing, but this space is not where I pour out my soul. That's what a journal is for.  

Blog is different from journal, journal is different from blog. Important distinction, at least in my world. As much as I love my readers, there are some things that I'm just not going to share with the interwebs. 


Catholic 101: Baptism

Catholic 101Emily DeArdoComment

So, we're starting with the first sacrament, the foundational sacrament: Baptism. 

In the Catholic church, we tend to baptism babies. Of course some people are baptized as older children or even as adults, but baptism usually occurs when a baby is under a year old. It used to happen the day after birth, way back in the day--now it's usually a few months later. 

We baptize babies for a few reasons: partially because Jesus said "Let the little children come to me", and also, to remove the stain of original sin. 

Everyone is born with original sin--the sin of Adam and Eve. Baptism removes the sin, grants grace, and makes the person an "official" member of the Church. Once you're baptized, you can't be unbaptized. It's a permanent character that's embedded in your soul. Even if you never go into a church again, even if you decide you don't believe in God--once you're baptized, you're baptized forever. 

Each sacrament has what's called matter and form. The matter is, to be blunt, the "stuff" involved. Here, it's water. You must have water. The form is what's said. "I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

If you don't have both matter and form, then it's not a valid sacrament. 

In an emergency, anyone can baptize, but usually, a deacon or a priest does it. An by emergency, they mean emergency. As in, premature baby born, in the NICU, etc. 

Baptism begins a person's Christian life; thus, it's the first sacrament. 



Seven Quick Takes No. 120: Let's talk about Harry

7 Quick Takes, booksEmily DeArdo5 Comments


Before we get into Harry Mania, here's this week's posts: 

Summer Reading: July

Let's Communicate


(Obviously: If you haven't read the HP books or watched the movies, there are tons and tons and tons of spoilers ahead.) 

Like a lot of other people, I picked up the "eighth" Harry Potter book on Sunday, the 31st--which is also Harry Potter's birthday. 

As you can see, it's a play--a two part play, actually--published here as a script. The "rehearsal addition" means that it's the script the cast was using in rehearsals, based on a story by Rowling. The final script will be published later. The show opened on the 30th, and up until a show opens, changes can be made (and usually are) in previews. 

(That doesn't mean that no changes are made once it's officially open, it just is pretty unlikely.) 

The story opens nineteen years later, with Harry as the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, Ron running the Weasley joke shop, and Hermione as Minister for Magic. Harry also has three children (mentioned in the Epilogue of Deathly Hallows)--James, Albus, and Lily. Albus and Harry have a...rocky relationship. And there are problems at work. 

I won't much more because I don't want to give anything away. But the script works well, both as a script (Ginny has a fantastic monologue in Part II that I would love to use in an audition), and as the next chapter in the Harry Potter universe.


So, obviously, after I read the play (And I HAD to read the female parts out loud, come on!), I decided I had to go back to the movies and the books. 

Right now I'm re-watching the movies, and it's really clear that Chamber of Secrets is my least-favorite. It's so long, and so unwiedly. So many important things are introduced in it, but yet, it is a movie I usually skip. 

This is the movie where we get Dobby, Ginny arriving at Hogwarts, a HORCRUX!....and the movie is just so SLOW. 

I also don't really like the book, because I don't think it "fits" in the rest of the series. 


I also have a beef about the diary as Horcrux. Does it feel like a sort of half-done thing to anyone else? The other horcruxes are crazy well protected, important items--and the diary is just given to the Malfoys! Who would give the Malfoys anything important?!?! 

And the whole "Riddle as memory"....that seems odd. The whole mechanics of the diary seem not well done. I sense authorial inattention. 


There are two movies that I dislike--Goblet of Fire and Chamber of Secrets. GOF because the book is just so rich, and so much is cut out in the movie. I know it probably had to happen, and I don't really mind missing SPEW, but I do miss all the other neat things, especially "after", when Dumbledore and Fudge are talking in the office, etc. "The Parting of the Ways" is one of my favorite chapters in the series.  
But I like Order of the Phoenix much better than the book. In the book it's all Harry yelling and being....teenagery. That's not interesting. I do like the bits on Occlumency, the Order, and St. Mungo's, but the series drags for me here. The movie is streamlined and focuses on the big points, which I enjoy. 


Book seven--and movie eight (DH part II)--make me cry. I cannot read or watch with anyone else around, because it's ugly crying. Like, sobbing. As soon as Harry goes into Snape's memories in the pensieve, I am gone. 


I mean, just that picture. Holy cow. 


Also, I am still mad at Lupin died. I LOVE Lupin. I would've married Lupin. He's my favorite teacher and he just DIESSSSSSS. 

Molly Weasley is also the Bomb. 

Share your thoughts on HP--really, anything HP related--in the comments. :) We'll have a Harry Potter party! 


Summer Scribbles: Let's Communicate

essays, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Continuing with the SITS Girls' prompts, this week's is: 

Do you communicate differently online than in person? 

Short answer: Nope. 

Long answer: Still nope, but with qualifiers. 

I try to write the way I talk. I want my pieces to have a sort of conversational air about them, like I was talking to you, instead of you reading words I've written. Some of my friends have told me that I've accomplished that, so that makes me happy, because it's one of my main goals. I don't think you need a stilted writing style to get a point across. I want to sound approachable and like myself. 

Now, when I'm communicating on things like Facebook, or comments sections of articles, I try to be a bit more circumspect, realizing that things like sarcasm don't exactly transfer. So I try to be nicer, in a way, than I am in person. Not that I'm mean! But writing WHATTTTT?!?!? on a Facebook page doesn't really convey the same thing that it would in my voice, with facial expressions, etc. So I can't do that all the time. I try to keep it cleaner for the sarcasm-impaired. 

But my hope is always that when you read my pieces, it's like we're having a conversation, and that my authentic voice comes through. 



Summer Reading: July

booksEmily DeArdoComment

 What I read in July: 

  • The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas, by Madeline L'Engle. This very short story is part of the Austin series L'Engle wrote, which includes A Ring of Endless Light and Troubling a Star. (Ring is one of my favorite books ever). In this piece, seven year old Vicky has been selected to be the angel in the Christmas pageant, and her family is also awaiting the birth of their new baby. You don't have to have read the other books in the series to like this one, and it would be a great read-aloud for families with small kids. 
  • The Queen of the Big Time, by Adrianna Trigiani. This has been out for awhile, but I've only just read it. I like most of Trigiani's books, which are based in the Italian-American communities of America. She writes well, and she writes about what she knows. Her books usually feature some sort of conflict between family/tradition/duty and the main character's desire to live her own life. This one is no exception.

    In this novel, Nella Cestelluca wants more for her life than just working on her family's farm--she wants to go to college and become a teacher. She's also fallen in love with the most handsome man in town. But of course, things don't go exactly the way Nella thought they would. 

    I liked a lot of the book, but I thought that Nella was a bit one-dimensional. I wanted more about her, her relationships, and her thought process. Instead, the book jumps around a lot in time, and we only get brief pieces of Nella's relationship with her husband and her children, which can lead to abrupt moments that don't really fit the story. 
  • The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, by Philip and Carol Zaleski. If you're a fan of CS Lewis or JRR Tolkien-or both--you'll love this look at the lives of the Inklings. Two of them are not as well know as Lewis or Tolkien ( Owen Barfield and Charles Williams), and you may, like me, be tempted to skim their sections. But the Zaleskis have done an amazing job here, especially in bringing new light to Lewis and Tolkien. 
  • The Seven Secrets of Divine Mercy, by Vince Flynn. I picked this up because Jennifer Fulwiler recommended it, and I'm glad I did. Flynn unpacks the popular Divine Mercy devotion and shows us how very rich it is. You don't have to have read St. Faustina's Diary before you've read this, but if you haven't read it, read it after. 
  • The Childrens Act, by Ian McEwan. McEwan and I just don't get along. I wish we did. But his writing style is not my cup of tea. That being said, I gave this novel, about a judge who has to decide whether or not to force a Jehovah's Witness teenager to have a blood transfusion, a whirl. 
    The beginning was very good, but the end petered out and made me frustrated. I didn't understand why we needed the whole affair storyline, or the stalker patient. It was just a mess. 
  • Forgetting Time, Susan Guskin. Another novel that started well but ended...oddly. In this one, a mother is worried that her son is having delusions--he keeps talking about a life he had before this one, and another family. With the help of a scientist, the mother tries to see if her son's delusions could be possibly be true. Again, worked well in the beginning, but then petered out. 
  • The Madwoman Upstairs, Catherine Lowell. I loved this novel, even though I don't love the Brontes. If you've read Possession,by A.S. Byatt, then this is a very similiar book. Here's the publisher's synopsis: 
    Samantha Whipple is used to stirring up speculation wherever she goes. Since her father’s untimely death, she is the presumed heir to a long-rumored trove of diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts passed down from the Brontë family—a hidden fortune never revealed to anyone outside of the family, but endlessly speculated about by Brontë scholars and fanatics. Samantha, however, has never seen this alleged estate and for all she knows, it’s just as fictional as Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

    But everything changes when Samantha enrolls at Oxford University and long lost objects from her past begin rematerializing in her life, beginning with an old novel annotated in her father’s handwriting. With the help of a handsome but inscrutable professor, Samantha plunges into a vast literary mystery and an untold family legacy, one that can only be solved by repurposing the tools of literature and decoding the clues hidden within the Brontës’ own novels.

    A very, very enjoyable novel. I gulped it down in one sitting. 

  • Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie. This is Rushdie's version of The Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland, and it works amazingly well. Haroun has to save his father, a renowned storyteller who has recently lost the gift of storytelling--with disastrous results. A trip to a strange planet reveals that it's not just his father who is in danger--it's the entire Sea of Stories itself. 
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. Yes, Harry Potter is back. In case you've been under a rock, this is written as a play, not a story--the show opened in London on July 30th. I like reading plays, so this was easy for me, but if you're not used to it, it may take awhile for you to get in the groove. 

    Anyway, in this edition, Harry is 40, has three children (James, Albus, and Lily--last seen at the very end of Deathly Hallows), is the Head of Magical Law Enforcement--and is having problems with Albus. And his scar is hurting again. Could the problems he's having with his son be connected to the rumors that Voldemort may be returning? 

    It's a well-written story, and it fits in well with the 7 book series. And it's interesting to see how Harry, Ron, Hermione, and some of our other favorites have changes in the ensuing 19 years. I'm not going to say anything else, because, spoilers. But it's well worth reading if you're a Potter fan. 

Seven Quick Takes No. 119: 23 Rules for Sane Eating, and Dragons!

7 Quick Takes, Catholicism, family, foodEmily DeArdo2 Comments


The weekly recap: 

Intro to the Sacraments

Seeking Motivation


Last weekend, I visited my grandma with my parents. My grandma is 86 years old, and she's my last remaining grandparent--and I love her to bits. She raised eight kids on a music teacher's salary, and all 8 kids are married (STILL married! Not divorced!--several of them in the 30+ years category of marriage), and all have had children. There are 25 of us grandkids, and 9 great-grandchildren. Grandma gave me my lifelong love of piano. (And listened to me play even when it was more like....random noise.....than music.) 

Me and my grandma, celebrating her 85th birthday last year. 

Me and my grandma, celebrating her 85th birthday last year. 


Anyway, Grandma's house always has good reading. I was reading her back issues of Catholic Digest, and found some food columns written by Emily Stimpson, whom I love to read. And then I remembered that Emily had a blog about Catholic food and friendship and entertaining called The Catholic Table

So I went home and read through her archives, where I found this gem: 

23 Rules for Sane Eating. 

Really, don't we need these? Eating, one of our most basic tasks, has become so complicated, hasn't it? It was so refreshing to find Emily's level-headed advice, here. 

And I am definitely going to start entertaining people again. I love dinner parties, and though my place is small, I love having people over to eat. 


Today is the Feast of St. Martha. DRAGONS, people. DRAGONS. (Click the link for Dragons!) 

Seriously, I love St. Martha. She gets such a bad wrap for the "Martha, Martha" story. But geez. She is really a pretty awesome lady. 

Some musical inspiration, as well: 


This week I've been crazy into my painting and sketching. I'm working on adding some SoCal trip pages to my "big" sketchbook . Here's some of this week's work: 

Charcoal movement sketches as part of a SBS assignment. The idea was to catch people doing things, or in poses. So it was mostly line drawings, but I'm glad with what I caught here. The goal wasn't to be realistic. 

Charcoal movement sketches as part of a SBS assignment. The idea was to catch people doing things, or in poses. So it was mostly line drawings, but I'm glad with what I caught here. The goal wasn't to be realistic. 

A page in my big watercolor sketchbook detailing the SoCal trip with two maps--a larger (and wonkier) one with the general area, and then a more detailed one of LA and environs proper. I do have a travel sketchbook, but sometimes I want the larger pages. 

A page in my big watercolor sketchbook detailing the SoCal trip with two maps--a larger (and wonkier) one with the general area, and then a more detailed one of LA and environs proper. I do have a travel sketchbook, but sometimes I want the larger pages. 

This is a watercolor version of my grandma's flower bed. I put the paint blocks in first and then drew in some flowers in ink once the paint had dried. The flowers are sort of successful, but I wonder if it would've worked with just the paint blocks. I think it might have. And obviously, my green got away from me. Too much green! 

This is a watercolor version of my grandma's flower bed. I put the paint blocks in first and then drew in some flowers in ink once the paint had dried. The flowers are sort of successful, but I wonder if it would've worked with just the paint blocks. I think it might have. And obviously, my green got away from me. Too much green! 

I'm trying to work with my watercolors and brushes, to get to know them a little better, and see what they can do. But I really had fun with the charcoal pencils. 


I'm on snapchat now as emdeardo, if you're in to Snapchat. I think I have the hang of it. Maybe? Not sure. But I do see how it can be fun. I haven't used any of the silly filters yet. :-p 


One of my favorite Columbus Summer things is next weekend--the Dublin Irish Festival! And thank goodness, it looks like decent temps for the day I want to go. I love going and hearing the Irish bands, eating the good food, and it's a great time for sketching. I brought my sketchbook for the first time last year and I had a lot of fun with it. I can't wait to sketch some more this year! One of my favorite bands is Cassie and Maggie, sisters from Nova Scotia. They don't just sing and play; they dance, too. Seriously. They are fantastic!


Does anyone else really like the month of August? I like June because it's like the unfolding of spring and summer. It's full of possibility. July, I don't really like. I don't know why. And this has even been a particularly good July, with all sorts of fun things happening. 

But August just seems like such a lovely month. A slow month, a month to sort of enjoy the summer and prepare for fall. I remember when I was going back to school and I was always ready for school to start come August. August is like that slow transition from summer to the demands of fall. (But I do love fall.) 

Summer Scribbles: Seeking Motivation

essaysEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I am a hard person to motivate. 

Well, wait. Let me rephrase that. 

I'm a hard person to motivate--sometimes. 

I'm not a hard person to motivate when it comes to doing things for other people. If the essay needed written for school, it got written. If I have to be at the doctor's office, I'm going to get up early and be there on time. If I have to go to a class, I'll be there. I'm good at being held accountable in exterior ways. If someone is depending on me, or needs me to be somewhere, I'll be there, and I'll do it. 

I am very bad at self-motivation. 

If you've read Better than Before, by Gretchen Rubin (and if you haven't, get on it), then you realize that I'm an Obliger. 

Rubin writes about how there are four tendencies--everyone is one of them. You're either an upholder, a rebel, a questioner, or an obliger. To determine what you are, you can take this quiz. But it basically boils down to how you respond to interior and exterior expectations. 

An Obliger, which I am, "Meets outer expectations but struggles to meet expectations they impose on themselves." 

So, it's hard for me to do things without accountability. Exercising and diet is a huge area where this is true. If I had someone to go to the gym with, or to go to class with me, or even someone I lived with to cook with and for, that would be a huge help when it comes to meeting the nutrition and exercise goals I've set--because I'd be responsible to someone else. 

One of the ways I work around this is by using my Powersheets--I have my tending list for the month, which has all my goals broken into monthly, weekly, and daily sections. I schedule my Barre 3 classes ahead of time, so they're in my calendar, and if I don't go, then I lose money. I have "meal planning" as one of my weekly goals. And yes, as sad as it may seem, I do get a thrill when I can check off the boxes indicating I've done these things. 

But it's much, much easier for me to get off track with what I know I should do if I don't have an external motivator or someone/something to keep me accountable for what I do. Or don't do, as the case may be. 

I also have an avoidance policy on things I'm not good at, like math. I probably, intellectually, could've done fine in Math. But I hated it, because I wasn't automatically good at it, and a lot of it just didn't make sense to me.  I'm that way with exercise--fi I don't get it pretty quickly, then I tend to give up and feel like a failure. I'm trying to get through that with my barre classes, and I have found that, as you would expect, the more I do it, the better I get at it. I'm just not a person that likes doing things that I don't have a natural affinity for, which probably makes me like most of humanity. 

I have some friends that I talk about nutrition and exercise with, and they do a good job keeping me motivated to keep trying. So they're my external accountability, for the moment. 

But I'm still looking for that fail-proof motivational tool. I'm guessing, sadly, it doesn't exist. 

What sort of temperament do you have? 

How do you motivate yourself to do things that you know you should do, but you don't necessarily want to do? 



Catholic 101: The Sacraments--an Overview

Catholic 101Emily DeArdoComment

A continuation of the Catholic 101 series 

One of my favorite things about being Catholic are the sacraments. Who hasn't seen a baby being baptized, clothed in white, or little boys and girls receiving their First Communions? Or seen the splendor of a Catholic wedding, or a priest's ordination? And of course, the confessional gets a lot of airplay in movies (even being the centerpiece of some, such as I Confess) , as does the sacrament of anointing of the sick, which was featured in the Outlander episode "Faith", in season two. 

Frances de la Tour (Mother Hildegard) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire Fraser) in Outlander

Frances de la Tour (Mother Hildegard) and Caitriona Balfe (Claire Fraser) in Outlander

(At some point, I will write about Catholicism and Outlander. Just not today.) 

Sacraments in the Catholic Church are also somewhat confusing to our Protestant friends. So I'm going to explain them over the next three weeks. Today, we're doing a brief overview of what a sacrament is and what the sacraments are. 

So, what's a sacrament? 

A sacrament is a visible sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace.

Well, that's nice, Emily. What's that mean. 

OK. Fair point. 

A visible sign--meaning, an action performed by a minister, usually a priest. When a baby is baptized and the priest pours of the water over her head, saying "I baptize you in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," that's a visible sign. When a little boy receives the Host, that's a visible sign. And so forth. 

Instituted by Christ--contrary to popular belief, the Church didn't "Make these up." All of the sacraments were instituted by Christ, and they all have Biblical support for their existence. 

to give grace--what is grace? Grace is God's life in our soul. (This is something the kids should be able to say in their sleep by the end of the year.) To expand on that--Grace is God's free gift of Himself. 

So, that's what a sacrament is. There are seven of them: 

  1. Baptism
  2. Communion/Holy Eucharist
  3. Confirmation
  4. Reconciliation/Confession
  5. Marriage
  6. Holy Orders
  7. Anointing of the Sick

I'm going to break these down into categories, for our purposes: 

  1. The sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation
  2. The sacraments of vocation: Holy Orders and Marriage
  3. The sacraments of healing: Confession and Anointing of the Sick

I hope that you enjoy reading these entries as much as I'm going to enjoy writing them. Sacraments--particularly the Eucharist--are my favorites! 


Seven Quick Takes No. 118: Aftermath

7 Quick Takes, JeopardyEmily DeArdo1 Comment


OK, so if you missed the wrap up on Tuesday: 

here you go. 

If you want more Jeopardy things, then click the "Jeopardy " link under the title of this post, and you will see all the goodness!


I was at a party, graciously hosted by Tiff and Bill, on Monday, so I wasn't tending to my social media. However, that didn't mean that social media didn't have thoughts about me....

So, um, I don't know what that means. 

BUT it did give me a great title for my memoir: Absurdly Happy. What do you think? :) There is a subtitle coming. I just don't know what. 

And some Tweeters did do a nice job sticking up for me: 

Matt wins the prize! :) 

Should I change my ringtone to Hello, Dolly? :) 


What Alex said to me after the show: He was impressed that I wrote down my answer for Final Jeopardy so quickly. "That was the fastest writing I've ever seen!" So, that can be my claim to fame, beyond all other things. 

He also explained why that was the Final Jeopardy question--the Tour is going on right about now. So, it's pertinent. 

(I mean, somewhere. Maybe not here--in Columbus it's All Convention, All The Time....)


Someone did recognize me in the grocery store yesterday....

I had a craving for cereal, so I made a quick run to the store. In the cereal aisle, a woman stopped, looked at me, looked at the cereal, looked at me....

Her: Can I ask you a weird question?

Me: Yes.

Her: Were you just on Jeopardy? 

Me: Yes. 

Her: (Squeal--no, I didn't make that up) We watch that every night! We were so happy someone from here was on! 

She was very nice. But it was very surreal, being recognized in the cereal aisle. 


After my episode wrapped, Mary and I went to the Santa Monica Pier and had lunch. I could've stayed to watch the rest of the day's episodes, but I thought it was time to get out of there....and I really didn't want to see another show that would've had "better" questions air. I didn't need that sort of thing. So we decided to leave right after I signed all the forms. One of the lovely producers called me a taxi, and we headed off to explore.


I don't know if I get a tape of the episode. I sort of hope I do? It's currently on my parents' DVR. :) 


It was definitely an excellent experience--one I'm glad I got to do, and I'm so glad that you all got to watch it (or at least, most of you.) It was also nice to bring some positive coverage to the CF community! 



Summer Scribbles No. 7: What is Courage?

essaysEmily DeArdo1 Comment

The SITS girls question of the week: 

How do I define courage? 

I actually think about this a lot. Does that make me weird? 

A lot of people tell me that I'm brave, and I don't think I am. 

To me, courage and bravery involve risking something when you don't, necessarily, have to. Firefights and policemen are inherently brave, as are soldiers. They are putting their lives on the line every day to protect and defend people, and they don't have to. (Well, OK, at least in the U.S., soldier wise.) 

People who save people from drowning, or rescue kids from burning buildings, or the people who ran into the buildings on 9/11--those people are brave. 

I don't consider myself brave. The things I do are the things I think anyone would do in my situation. The choices I've made, I've made to save my life. Choosing transplant wasn't brave. Without it, I'd be dead. Full stop. 

I know that not everyone with CF makes the choices that I've made. And I know that part of me decides to fight even when it might be easier not to. And I guess that's brave. 

Is it courageous to do those things that keep you alive, even when you don't want to do them? Were all those years of PT and nebulizers and giving myself IV treatments in the bathrooms at work brave or courageous? 

I don't know. To me, it was just life. The other option was death. And that's not an option I choose. 

I'm not afraid of death, by the by. I never have been. Maybe it's because I know that something better is awaiting me. (Or at least, Purgatory.) I trust that God's got this. He's going to take care of me. And I'm not really even afraid of dying--because I've done that process. I've gotten, really, as close as you can, I think, and done it twice. And both times,  I've been back. 

But does all this make me courageous? I don't know. I don't think so. Because to me, none of it was conscious choice

This, on the other hand. This works well for me: 

I have never, ever wanted to be defined as the girl with CF. Or the girl who had that transplant thing. I don't so much mind the latter, which pops up a lot. But I am so grateful to my parents for letting me have a normal life. Some CF parents don't send their kids to regular school because they're worried about all the germs floating around. Guys--we have an immune system. CFers can have totally normal lives. I don't want to live in a bubble. I don't want to have a live that's so protected from everything, tainted by fear of what might happen. My identity is as a daughter of God, and not as some weird genetic thing. 

Am I brave? I don't know. To me, all of this just is. And it always will be. 


The Jeopardy! experience

JeopardyEmily DeArdo1 Comment

So, assuming you all watched last night, you know what happened. :) 

I was actually really freaked out all day yesterday. Even though, obviously, I knew what was going to happen, no on else did--and I felt like I was going to let people down. Is that weird? It might be weird. 

I think everyone expects you to go out there and just smoke the competition. And that would've been nice....but, you know, that doesn't always happen. 

But I got money, and I had a great time. And I'm really glad I got the Final Jeopardy question right. At the end of the episode, when we were "chatting", Alex said he'd never seen anyone write so quickly. EVER! So that's my claim to fame. I knew what the answer was before he was done reading the question, so I was ready with my writing device! 

The website from Monday morning. 

The website from Monday morning. 

Both the people I played with were great people. Ellen and I had been in the Monday group together and we'd gotten to talk a bit, so I was glad that, if anyone was going to beat me, it was someone nice. Hans was a real gentleman, although, at over six feet, it was hard to get him, Ellen, and I in the same frame on the camera! There are squares you stand on that will go up to make you taller--but nothing to make you shorter! 

Alex was nice to us, which surprised some people. I mean, I've seen him be sort of snarky to people on TV, but he was nice to all the contestants I saw tape. And he was very patient when answering the audience questions, which he must have answered five bazillion times . 

In terms of questions-I'm mad I missed Franz Liszt. I'm pretty sure my grandma groaned when I missed that. But I was thinking of Hans, and.....yeah. I also new all the Dickens questions, but I only got in for one. And I knew that last one, but I didn't want to be wrong at that point in the game. I had to read Hard Times in college, and it's super didactic and very much not my favorite Dickens. Alas! 

It's easy to beat yourself up for the questions you missed. I'm trying too hard not to do that. :) Overall, it was a great experience and I had a lot of fun. Out of 100,000 people who take the online test annually (it's only offered once a year!), only about 400 make it on the show. So that, in and of itself, is something to be proud of, no matter how I did.

I will have more tidbits to share in the coming days! 


Catholic 101: The Works of Mercy

Catholic 101Emily DeArdoComment

Since it is the Year of Mercy, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. 

The Corporal works of mercy are the ones I'd bet most people are familiar with, because it's things like feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and visiting the sick. These are the sort of things that, when people think about "charity", this is what they think about. Whether it's donating to drill a deep well in Sudan, running a food drive at work, or donating clothes to the local homeless shelter, the "corporal works of mercy" are generally well know. Their Biblical basis comes from Matthew 25. 

"Corporal" means the works of mercy that pertain to the body--meeting our physical needs. They are: 

Photo credit: World Vision 

Photo credit: World Vision 

  1. Feed the Hungry
  2. Give Drink to the Thirsty
  3. Clothe the Naked
  4. Shelter the Homeless
  5. Visit the Sick 
  6. Visit the Imprisoned 
  7. Bury the dead

Most of these are pretty straightforward, right? The last one might give you some pause. In most places, we don't actually have to bury the dead. That's what funeral homes and cemetery staff do. But we can be there for people was are experiencing a loss. We can go to the visiting hours, the funeral, bring food by the house for the grieving family--etc. And at the very least, we can always send a card or an email to say that we are praying for the deceased and the family that's been left behind. 

But the Church has also taught that it's not enough to just take care of the body. We have to take care of the soul, too. Thus, the seven spiritual works of mercy: 

  1. Counseling the Doubtful
  2. Instructing the Ignorant
  3. Admonishing the Sinner
  4. Comforting the Sorrowful 
  5. Forgive Injuries
  6. Bear Wrongs Patiently
  7. Pray for the Living and the Dead

These are a little more....opaque, shall we say? It's a bit harder to see how we can put these into direct action, unlike the corporal works for mercy. So let's break these down a bit. 

Some of them are pretty simple, like the last one. Pray for the living and the dead--pray for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory; pray for the church on earth. The pope, our leaders, our world...all of this is fodder for prayer. (And in these times, don't we need it?) 

Bearing wrongs patiently and forgiving injuries are a way to more closely imitate Jesus. Jesus bore lots of wrongs patiently, especially during His Passion. Even a quick, cursory reading of the Bible accounts of Jesus' death will give you plenty of examples. Forgiving injuries is similar. When someone snaps at you, or accuses you of doing something that you didn't do, shut up about it. Let it go. 

(Now, obviously, that probably doesn't mean to go to jail for something you didn't do. I mean, that's pretty extreme. But if your office mate says you ate her banana, and you didn't, and you've said that, but she still believes you did it--there's nothing you can really do at that point. Let it go.)

Comforting the sorrowful we discussed above; sometimes you see this as "comforting those who mourn." But it can also mean people who are depressed, anxious, etc. 

Now we get into the Unpopular Ones. 

No one wants to be told they're ignorant. But we shouldn't want people to be ignorant of Christ, or the legitimate teachings of His Church. We can instruct the ignorant by teaching CCD or being an RCIA sponsor, but we can also just explain what the Church believes when the chance comes to defend the church in public. (I like to think that this series instructs anyone who's ignorant. In a nice way!) 

Counseling the Doubtful means being able to help people who may be having doubts about the faith, or the existence of God (etc.), that what the Church teaches is really true. 

And finally, admonishing the sinner. 


No one really likes to do this. And it doesn't mean that you should go around like the woman at the end of Game of Thrones, yelling "shame!" and ringing a cowbell. That's probably not the best way to get your point across. 

We are always to do these things in a sprit of love and mercy

If a parent sees a child doing something wrong, then he's going to stop that child from doing something wrong. In the case of religion, we want people to go to Heaven! And if they are deep sin, they aren't going to get there. 

Now, we know that we are to remove the plank in our own eye first. That's important. But if you see someone who is in grave sin--adultery, procuring an abortion, sleeping around, etc.--then you need to, in charity and love and mercy--talk to said person. Suggest that maybe what they're doing isn't the right way to go, and you love them too much to let them keep doing it.  That doesn't mean nagging the person. ("Are you going to stop smoking? You need to stop smoking. We talked about this yesterday! STOP SMOKING!" Or whatever.) 

Jesus loves us too much to leave us alone. As C.S. Lewis said: 

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. 

Jesus didn't die for us, redeem us so we could be ordinary, decent eggs. He wants us to be birds soaring up to Him. The works of mercy are part of how we help ourselves, and others, become birds. 




Seven Quick Takes No. 118: Transplant Celebration and Jeopardy reminder!!

7 Quick Takes, JeopardyEmily DeArdoComment


OK , first of all--

Jeopardy on Monday. 

Check your local listings and all that. :-p 



I'll be on Jen Fulwiler's radio show on the Sirius XM Catholic Channel on Monday! 

If you have Sirius, tune in. If you don't, there might be an iTunes link. I will try to post. 


On Sunday, my parents took me out to celebrate The Anniversary. We wanted to go to Fado, the place where we had eaten dinner right before I got my call, but it's an Irish pub that shows European Soccer, and there was a huge game on. So we went to PF Chang's instead, which is just as delightful.  

After that, my parents surprised me with a super-duper treat. 

Chocolate fondue, people. 

Sadly, I have no pictures of the Gloriousness that was Chocolate Caramel Toffee fondue, with magical pieces of fruit, a blondie, rice krispy treats, pound cake, and a brownie. Yes, all of that, per person. You got a lovely little tray of items to dip in the bubbling, magical chocolate. 

Guys, I would've married that fondue. Or at least licked the bowl if it wasn't so crazy hot. I didn't feel like burning my tongue. 

But it was so delightful. Right now, writing about it, I'm salivating. I want more! MOREEEE! 


And if you're not an organ donor, and you have an iPhone, you can sign up RIGHT FROM THE PHONE, people! RIGHT FROM YOUR PHONE! You don't even have to go to a pesky website!

Do it. Really. Sign up. 

Oh, you want to know why? 

Well, if not knowing me isn't cool enough.....here's a list of some of the things I've done post transplant. 


Gone to California; gone to Boston; gone to NYC and Chicago; discovered the epic-ness that is the Outer Banks; been in a ton of theater; tried tofu; been on Jeopardy!; been to Disneyland; eaten in Beverly Hills; started pin collecting; gotten my own apartment; had several jobs; left the job to be a freelancer; written a few novels and a memoir (that eventually someone will want to publish....) 


Seen my godson graduate from high school; seen my sister graduate from high school and college; seen my brother graduate from college and become a Steeler sportswriter; Penguin Stanley Cups!; been my cousin Paige's confirmation sponsor; pinned my sister at her graduation from nursing school; seen multiple small children be born that I never would've seen other wise (and that would have made the guy below SAD)

No transplant, no meeting Justin. He's only seven. 

No transplant, no meeting Justin. He's only seven. 

Been in my other cousin Justin's wedding, and met his adorable kids....


Been in a million OTHER weddings, including this couple's....

These people rock my world. A lot. 

These people rock my world. A lot. 

Met hundreds of people I wouldn't have met otherwise; been to Edel with awesome, awesome people; become a Lay Dominican; read the Outlander books (this would've made my life so sad, people....to not know Jamie and Claire!).....and about a thousand others....seen the resurgence of the Pirates into a good baseball team!....


Organ donation doesn't just save one person. It saves families. It saves friends. It saves entire networks of people. I mean, not that I'm all that or anything, but I do have friends and family that would miss me (I hope!). I would've missed so much without these 11 extra years

Guys. Be an organ donor. Save lives. Give people joy and grace.