Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Yarn Along No. 66: SCARF FOR SALE!

books, Barton Cottage Crafts, knittingEmily DeArdoComment

Today's a bit different: I have a scarf for sale!

This is a beautiful basketweave scarf in the "Lady Sibyl" Barton Cottage Crafts colorway. Much like Sibyl Crawley, it's sweet, but also somewhat unexpected with the edition of deep blues and teals that run throughout the pattern. 

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The teals and blues that run through it remind me of Sibyl's famous harem pants: 

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The colors run from deep ocean blue, turquoise, a light slate blue-gray, pinks, and lavender purples. It's a beautiful scarf in a great colorway, and would make a perfect Christmas present!

The scarf is $35 with FREE U.S. shipping. It's 40x6", and made of 70% superwash wool and 30% nylon. I send it priority mail so it'll arrive quickly! And it's all wrapped and ready to go. I have one scarf available

So if you'd like to purchase it, leave a comment, and we'll work out the details! It's really beautiful. 

Now, for this week's project: 

I finished the shawl!

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Holy cow, I love this guy. It's so warm and pretty!

And I'm working on this scarf: 

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I LOVE this colorway. This is "lupine", or as I call it, the "Marianne Dashwood", because, like Marianne, it's full of rich, strong colors with a strong romantic streak (check out that deep pink!). She's gorgeous. 

I'm reading The Miraculous Medal, which I got at our parish used book sale for ONE DOLLAR. I've been wanting to read this book for awhile, and here it is! Yay!

 

Sharing Contemplation No. 1

essays, prayerEmily DeArdoComment

One of the mottos of the Dominican order is, "to contemplate, and to share the fruits of contemplation." It's one of the ways we evangelize. So every so often, I'll be sharing the fruit of my contemplation with you. 

Romans verse .jpg

On my phone case is a Bible verse. I know, that's kind of weird, right? And it's not even a popular Bible verse. In fact, it's one whose meaning changes a little bit based on the translation. But this verse has played a big role in my life. 

May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Romans 15:13 (NIV)

In the Revised Standard Catholic version, "trust" is changed to "believe." And to me, that doesn't pack the same punch. I've always believed in God. I haven't always really trusted in God. 

There's a difference there. 

Believing in God means I know that He exists. My faith is built on that. But trusting in Him means that I believe He's going to take care of me, to do what's best for me, all the time. That He won't let me fall. And that's harder to me than just believing in Him.

Right after I left my job a few years ago, I went on a silent retreat. It was the end of Lent, and it had been a hard Lent. I knew, intellectually, that leaving my job was the right decision. I felt that God had led me to make that decision. But I wasn't at peace with it. I didn't really trust Him not to let me fall. 

At every meal, Scripture passages, written on small cards, were at each plate. I always sit at the same spot when I go on retreat. (I'm like Sheldon that way.) On Saturday at lunch, the card at my plate had this verse from Romans. And it stopped me in my tracks. Relief washed over me. 

Emily, I'm going to take care of this. Trust me to take care of it. 

It's hard. I still have to remind myself that God's got this, over and over again. Like Ann Voskamp says in One Thousand Gifts, "trust the bridge builder." If I trust my earthly father, shouldn't I also trust my heavenly Father, if not more than I trust my earthly father? (And I trust my parents an awful lot.) 

Today, while doing my Advent study, this verse was one of the ones suggested 'For Further Reading.' And once again, I was hit with God's reminder to trust in Him. To Rest in Him and acknowledge that He provides--often better than I ever could've thought He would. 

This video popped into my mailbox today, too. Coincidence? I think not. 

Is God invited you to trust, too? Step into that trust. Know that He can always always always be counted on. 

Yarn Along No. 65

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

This is a little different. :) I'm working on a new project! Rejoice! (I still have basketweave scarves being worked on, too, though. So if you've ordered one, don't despair. The knitting machine works overtime around here.) 

One of my Christmas gifts is yarn for a big shawl pattern. But before I begin that pattern, I needed to learn different ways of increasing. So, my lovely friend Sarah taught me two ways to increase stitches, and now I feel like an expert! 

I made this project to help get the technique in my head. 

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This is the Urban Wrap shawl. It's knit on size 15 Caspian circulars, and the yarn is Sugar Bush Yarns' Canoe in the Whitewater colorway. I love the tweedy goodness of this yarn, and it's very soft and warm, which is great for this shawl. 

Check out that tweedy goodness!

Check out that tweedy goodness!

 

The original pattern called for this to be done in Stockinette stitch, however, since my big shawl is in garter stitch, I made this all garter stitch, too. But I love this pattern so much that I think I will make another and add it to the Barton Cottage Crafts inventory! So keep an eye out, if you want a shawl. 

The book I'm reading is A Gentleman in Moscow, which I finally got ahold of. I'm liking it so far. Russian history has always been something I've enjoyed, so this book taps that niche in my reading list quite nicely. 

Various and Sundry:

My piece on living a painless life was picked up by ForEveryMom.com! I'm so honored to be featured there. You can read it here

Don't forget to pick up your copy of Catholic 101! It has great tips for Advent and Christmastime inside, plus the St. Andrew Christmas novena! If you're a subscriber, you can still use your offer code until the end of the year to save 15%. If you're not a subscriber, subscribe to get the code! You can buy Catholic 101 here. (Don't forget that you can also give it as a gift!) 

 

The Fiction of a Painless Life

CFEmily DeArdo6 Comments
Me with my best friend, Anne (on the right), after our First Communion Mass in April 1990. I had just turned eight years old. I wouldn't be diagnosed with CF until three years later. 

Me with my best friend, Anne (on the right), after our First Communion Mass in April 1990. I had just turned eight years old. I wouldn't be diagnosed with CF until three years later. 

I have almost died five times. 

This is what it feels like. 

It is very easy, for starters. All you'd have to do is...nothing. Just sleep more, let the energy and life flow away. It's silent, it's simple. It really is like falling asleep. It's so easy.

It's much harder to be alive, because in life, you have to fight for it. 

I have almost died five times. 

I almost lost my right arm. 

I've lost most of my hearing. 

I have almost no vein access, anywhere but via the port-a-cath that's surgically implanted in my chest. 

I've learned to give myself insulin injections. 

My parents and siblings know how to re-constitute IV meds. 

I've had an IV line bleed out the night before my Algebra II final. 

I've had skin cancer, epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, thalessimia minor, and a double lung transplant. I've had tuberculosis and an infection that only one other person in the world had had. 

I've been to the ER so many times that it's like Cheers

I've had pancreatitis eight times. If you haven't had it, be glad you haven't had it. 

I've had four chest tubes. 

I've taken pills every day of my life since I was two years old. 

I could probably give myself chest X-rays by now. 

I'm surprised I don't glow in the dark, due to all the radiation exposure I've had. 

I've been twenty years old and planned my own funeral. 

I've spent most holidays in the hospital except Christmas and my birthday. 

I use the word "contraindicated" like most people use the word "like". 

Every month, my mom pokes me with a needle and I don't hit her for it. :) 

I have coughed up blood. 

I have had 17% lung function. 

I have been in a medically-induced coma for two weeks. 

I've had people tell me that my CF treatments, which kept me alive, annoyed them. I've had people say injecting insulin is gross--to my face. I've had people ask rude questions, time and time again. I had a classmate tell me that there wasn't any point in me studying, because I was going to die. 

But you know what? 

I am still alive. 

And I love my life, even with all its imperfection, even when it would've been easier to just let go and sail off into the West like Frodo. 

But this life is exquisite, no matter what. 

This world isn't my home. I know that. But it's so beautiful. 

Because you know what's beautiful? 

That I'm freaking typing this. 

That I am breathing

That I'm going to see my brother get married. That I've seen my godson grow up--because there was a time when I thought I wouldn't. 

Standing in the Pacific Ocean. 

Learning to knit. 

Watching little kids smear Oreo crumbs on their faces. 

Editing. 

Writing. 

Snuggling in bed. 

Reading books. 

Tickling babies. 

Reading Robin Hood to enraptured small children and doing all the voices. 

Christmas shopping. 

Watching hockey games, and yelling at my team when they suck. 

Learning to draw. 

Eating a Duck Donut. 

Eating anything, at all. 

The couch I'm sitting on. 

Godless on Netflix.

The Outlander series. 

The Wizard of Oz.

Elizabeth Bennet. 

Pretty dresses. 

My sister's cat. 

My siblings.

Fish and chips. 

 

All of those things--all of those beautiful things--do not exist without the list of ugly things. 

There is no life without suffering. There is no life without pain. 

And yet, people try to limit it by killing people like me. By eliminating people with CF, or Down Syndrome, or by saying that assisted suicide, euthanasia, and abortion is the compassionate choice. That it's better to be dead than alive with a hard life. That it's better to not exist than to exist with pain. 

I will never believe that. And I will never stop fighting for my right to exist, for my right to be here and to live the life that God has given me to live. And I will fight for all the other people like me, who are told that we shouldn't be here, that our lives are worthless because they are painful, because they make other people's lives hard, because we suffer

Suffering has made me better. It has made me stronger. Without it, I would've been a pale imitation of myself. 

My parents didn't kill me, obviously. My parents never went to court and said that my birth was "wrongful". They never made me feel like I was a drain on them, even though at times I've felt that way. They've always told me that I am worth it. 

We are all worth it. 

If you think that living with pain means life isn't worth living, then what are you doing here? 

"Life is pain, princess," said Dread Pirate Roberts. He was right. 

But there is also so much beauty in it. 

The very chance to exist--to be brought into existence--the chance to have this life? This is everything. 

And if you don't understand that, I pity you. 

 

Poems for St. Cecilia's Day

CatholicismEmily DeArdo1 Comment
Guido Reni, St. Cecilia

Guido Reni, St. Cecilia

Today is St. Cecilia's Day: she's an early Church martyr who is also the patroness of musicians. (Singers also have Pope St. Gregory the Great--the guy who invented Gregorian chant.) She's the patron saint of music and musicians because, as she walked toward her groom on her wedding day, she heard heavenly music playing, reminding her of her vow to be the Bride of Christ. (She was marrying against her will--and she managed to convince her husband to live in a celibate marriage. So she must've been a pretty gifted speaker, as well!) 

She inspires a lot of poetry, so I thought I'd share some of them here today. 

The first one is by WH Auden, and can be found here

Alexander Pope wrote a very long poem called "Ode for Music on St. Cecilia's Day". I won't quote the whole thing, but the last stanza is very nice: 

  Music the fiercest grief can charm,

  And Fate’s severest rage disarm:

  Music can soften pain to ease,        

  And make despair and madness please:

    Our joys below it can improve,

    And antedate the bliss above.

  This the divine Cecilia found,

And to her Maker’s praise confin’d the sound.        

When the full organ joins the tuneful quire,

  Th’ immortal Powers incline their ear;

Borne on the swelling notes our souls aspire,

While solemn airs improve the sacred fire,

  And Angels lean from Heav’n to hear.        

Of Orpheus now no more let poets tell;

To bright Cecilia greater power is giv’n:

  His numbers rais’d a shade from Hell,

    Hers lift the soul to Heav’n.

 

Detail of John William Waterhouse's St. Cecilia

Detail of John William Waterhouse's St. Cecilia

And finally, Dryden's "Song for St. Cecilia's Day", in its entirety: 

 

A Song for St. Cecilia's Day, 1687

by John Dryden 

Stanza 1 

From harmony, from Heav'nly harmony 

               This universal frame began. 

       When Nature underneath a heap 

               Of jarring atoms lay, 

       And could not heave her head, 

The tuneful voice was heard from high, 

               Arise ye more than dead. 

Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry, 

       In order to their stations leap, 

               And music's pow'r obey. 

From harmony, from Heav'nly harmony 

               This universal frame began: 

               From harmony to harmony 

Through all the compass of the notes it ran, 

       The diapason closing full in man. 

What passion cannot music raise and quell! 

                When Jubal struck the corded shell, 

         His list'ning brethren stood around 

         And wond'ring, on their faces fell 

         To worship that celestial sound: 

Less than a god they thought there could not dwell 

                Within the hollow of that shell 

                That spoke so sweetly and so well. 

What passion cannot music raise and quell! 

         The trumpet's loud clangor 

                Excites us to arms 

         With shrill notes of anger 

                        And mortal alarms. 

         The double double double beat 

                Of the thund'ring drum 

         Cries, hark the foes come; 

Charge, charge, 'tis too late to retreat. 

         The soft complaining flute 

         In dying notes discovers 

         The woes of hopeless lovers, 

Whose dirge is whisper'd by the warbling lute. 

         Sharp violins proclaim 

Their jealous pangs, and desperation, 

Fury, frantic indignation, 

Depth of pains and height of passion, 

         For the fair, disdainful dame. 

But oh! what art can teach 

         What human voice can reach 

The sacred organ's praise? 

Notes inspiring holy love, 

Notes that wing their Heav'nly ways 

         To mend the choirs above. 

Orpheus could lead the savage race; 

And trees unrooted left their place; 

                Sequacious of the lyre: 

But bright Cecilia rais'd the wonder high'r; 

         When to her organ, vocal breath was giv'n, 

An angel heard, and straight appear'd 

                Mistaking earth for Heav'n. 

GRAND CHORUS 

As from the pow'r of sacred lays 

         The spheres began to move, 

And sung the great Creator's praise 

         To all the bless'd above; 

So when the last and dreadful hour 

   This crumbling pageant shall devour, 

The trumpet shall be heard on high, 

         The dead shall live, the living die, 

         And music shall untune the sky.

 

 

Catholic 101: FAQs and Gift Giving!

books, Catholic 101, Catholicism, writingEmily DeArdoComment
Catholic 101 (1).jpg

I've been getting some questions about Catholic 101--mostly about downloading it--so I thought I'd devote a blog post to it! 

1) Why are there two different products to download? What does that mean?!

There are two different choices for downloading Catholic 101, and I did that on purpose. 

Once you've bought the product, two options are available to you for download: one is a PDF, and one is an ePub file. 

The PDF works anywhere, but is best for reading on a laptop/desktop, or if you want to print it out. It will download to your device. You can read a PDF on an iPad. It's just not the best format for it, because....

The ePub  file is especially designed for all e-readers EXCEPT KINDLE. (Kindle is weird.) With the ePub file, you get access to the embedded web links, as well as the interactive table of contents, where you can click on a chapter to read it. The footnotes are also linked, too. Basically it's a much easier reading experience than on the PDF if you like links and things like that. 

If you have an iPad, this is how you get it to open in iBooks: 

*On your device, go to the Gumroad website in your web browser of choice. Log in to your account, and select Catholic 101. 

*Select the ePub format. When this downloads, it'll ask you what you want to open it in. Select iBooks.

*Open iBooks. It should be right there. Select it, and there you go! 

If this still doesn't work for you, there is Gumroad help, or I can help you. :) 

2) But there's no difference in content, right?

Right. The content is exactly the same in each format. It's just a matter of preference, and if you don't have an e-reader, then obviously you'll want the PDF, or if you want to print it out. 

Now, gifting the book! If you've already bought Catholic 101, but you want to give it to people as a gift, this is how you do it. 

* Click the Catholic 101 bar at the top of my site (or log into Gumroad. If you do that, click "Buy it again!)

*You will be at the Gumroad purchase page. Click, "I want this!" 

*On the next page, you'll see payment information. 

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See that little gift box? Click that! Then you can enter the recipient's email information and pay! Yay!!!! 


So that's it for today's FAQ installment. As always, I greatly appreciate all of my customers! :) Thank you for supporting my little book! If you have more questions, drop them in the comments!

 

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. 

 

*****************

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
ADA tag .jpg

 (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
Catholic 101 (1).jpg

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
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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!