Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Yarn Along No. 47

yarn along, booksEmily DeArdo1 Comment

It's baaaack!

For Christmas, I got some lovely Harmony circular needles, and I knew that I wanted to use them to start a basketweave scarf. I've been looking at this particular pattern for awhile but I just hadn't cast on yet. After three tries (!) I finally managed to stay in the pattern, figure out how to start a purl row on circular needles, and this is what I have so far: 

 

The yarn is Knitpicks Chroma Twist Bulky in the Vermont colorway. Needles are Options Interchangeable Rainbow, size 6, and the pattern is from Chicks With Sticks. One of the things I love about this is how springy the scarf is, since it's a bulky yarn being knit on size 6 needles. 

I have a feeling this is going to take me awhile, though...this is about five inches of knitted scarf, and the total length is around fifty. So you might be seeing this for a loooong time. But at least it's pretty!

The book, as you can tell, is well loved around here: In This House of Brede. Pleeeease do yourself a favor and read it if you haven't. It's fantastic. 

 

 

Daybook No. 123: A week into 2017

DaybookEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window:: (on Sunday morning, when I wrote this one!) 

This weekend: Sunny with a few clouds and cold. It's 12 degrees but it feels like 0. We've been in a cold snap for a few days now and there comes a point where cold is just cold. I was driving home from my parents' last night and the car refused to warm up. When I got home I checked the temperature and saw why I was cold even under all my layers of sweaters and tanks and heavy coat and scarf--it felt like -3 outside. Well, OK then. 

Fortunately we're in a warming trend now. 33 for a high sounds tropical!

Reading::

In This House of Brede (If you've never read it, please do, because you are in for a treat), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Fire Within, Kim

Music playlist::

Still the Christmas music. But alas, this is the last week for it. Sigh. I will miss it. 

Around the house::

I have to start taking things down. I leave the nativity scene up until Candlemas (February 2), because that's what my church does, and it's traditional. And I love it. But the tree and the rest of the decorations are beginning their slow decent back into boxes.

Goal updates::

I'm thinking that once a month I'll do a goal update post, if only as another way to keep me accountable! After a week, I'm glad to say I've made progress in editing my ebook, cleaning/decluttering the house (I even cleaned up my enormous yarn stash!), and I've been reading the bible for 10 minutes every day, as well as doing some form of exercise, whether it's just a quick plank/push up/sit up combo, or an hour of cardio. This is where my Apple Watch is really great, because I love seeing the goal rings close. It's really motivating, especially when you see that you're really close to closing one of them. It's fantastic incentive to do a little more!

I made it to weekday Mass twice last week--yay!!!--and the contentment challenge is going well. The only thing I've bought this month that weren't food was a set  of bedsheets (I needed another set since the last one gave up the ghost around Thanksgiving) which I found during a white sale. So I saved a good amount of money, too, while buying something that I needed. Sadly, my mini food processor also died this week, after 11+ years, so I have to buy one of those sooner rather than later, since I use it for a good amount of recipes. God bless Bed Bath and Beyond coupons. 

Yay cleaned up yarn stash!

Yay cleaned up yarn stash!

 

Liturgical Year::

Since the calendar is all messy this year with Christmas being on a Sunday, the Baptism of the Lord, and the current end of the Christmas season is tomorrow. Normally Baptism of the Lord is a week after Epiphany, but not this year. So after tomorrow, back to Ordinary Time (hence the removal of my Christmas decorations.). 

On the calendar::

* So excited to have lunch with my college friend, Liz, today! I haven't seen her in years and it'll be great to catch up in person! 

*Lunch with Dad

*Eucharistic Adoration on the 11th

*Writing more in my crazily bedraggled journal. :)

Photos from around here::

 

 

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Welcome, 2017

Daybook, essaysEmily DeArdo1 Comment

(And psst, it's still Christmas! Really! )

I've always liked this graphic from Ann Voskamp, and it especially works this year, because my word for 2017 is Courage. (actually, it's two words: Be Courageous.)

You might be wondering why I chose that word. Well, because sometimes I'm a 'fraidy cat. I don't audition for a show because I think I won't be cast. I don't take that trip because I'm afraid to travel alone. I delay in sending a book proposal because I'm afraid it will be rejected. 

And of course, all those things are true, if I don't go for it. But in being afraid that I won't be accepted, I don't try at all. And that's not a good thing. 

This year, I want to be embrace courage and the Nike motto: Just Do It. Just be brave. Don't give into fear. 

If an agent doesn't like my proposal, that's not the end of the world. There are tons of agents out there. 

This leads into words I've used in the past, especially TRUST. I'm still working on this Trust thing. It's hard. But trusting helps me to be brave, because it's like working with a net under me. I know that someone is going to catch me when I step out in faith. 

I hope 2017 is a year of Bravery. 

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

-- 2 Timothy 1:7

The Lord is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?

--Psalm 27:1

 

(Did you make new year's resolutions or set 2017 goals? I did, and my list is here.)

 

Seven Quick Takes 130: Seven Books I'll Read in 2017

books, 7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment

OK, let's get real. I'll read a LOT more than seven books in 2017. But here are ones currently on my "to read" list: 

I & II

The God of the Hive and The Pirate King, both by Laurie R. King: these are volumes 10 and 11, respectively, in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series that I've been devouring since I read the first one in October. Book number 12 is coming in the mail but hasn't arrived yet. So I guess that'll be book eight! 

III

Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett: I love Ann's writing, and I'm excited to dive into this one since I've heard such good things. 

IV

The Alexander Hamilton biography by Ron Chernow that everyone is apparently reading. Also a Christmas gift. 

V

Kim, by Rudyard Kipling. A book I haven't read, but am curious about. In that same vein...

VI

The Forsythe Saga, by John Galsworthy. My friends have raved about this one and I keep trying to start it but this year I'm gonna do it. :) I feel like, as a person who majored in English literature with a concentration in Brit Lit, that I should be well-versed in All of the Oxford World Classic Brit Lit novels. So, this one is getting read. 

VII

Finally Fortune's Rocks, by Anita Shreve. Got it for a steal at one of my favorite independent bookstores, and it keeps sitting on the to-read pile. So I'll recuse it! 

What about you? Any good books on your lists? 

 

2017 Goal Setting

writing, essays, goal setting, Tidying Up, knitting, health, current projectsEmily DeArdo1 Comment

The last week of the year usually brings a few things for me--time with family, lots of books, and goal setting for the new year!

Ever since I discovered Lara Casey's powersheets, I've adored goal setting--and I've actually been getting things done. Her shop is called "Cultivate what matters", and that's what the powersheets do. Without them, there's no way I'd have finished my manuscript, written book proposals, sent queries, or upgraded my website/social media presence. That's probably the biggest thing the powersheets have done for me, but I've made progress in other ways, too. 

(And, no, I don't get paid to say this--I just love powersheets!)

I got my 2017 set in November and spent a few days doing the prep work. This is one of the best parts of power sheets. It's where you really get down to the reasons why you want to do things--why do you want to save money, or take that trip, or get that thing? What's your real motivation? Are you afraid to do big things? What's defeated you in the past from reaching your goals? (Lara's current blog series dives into this stuff, too!) 

So after doing the prep work and figuring out my "big" goals for the year, I then break those goals down into monthly, weekly, and daily goals for each month. The idea is that everything you do here is intentionally helping you meet a goal that will help you do what matters in your life. 

With all that said, here are my goals for 2017: 

1. To deepen my prayer life through more regular attendance at daily Mass and more times of daily prayer/devotions. If I don't have a deep, solid relationship with God, nothing else matters. 

2. Pay off the rest of my debts and grow my savings account. One of the things I really like about post-transplant life is my ability to travel, and I want to do more of that--and traveling takes money! So by cutting back on buying things I don't need (I'm doing the contentment challenge in January to help with this), I'll be able to pay off debts and have money for fun things like traveling! Again, there has been progress in this area, but I need to be more consistent. 

3. Be physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy by instituting regular workouts, weekly meal planning, and keeping up with my journal (I've been letting my journal slide of late. I don't want to do that!). I have grown in this area this year, but it's erratic growth. I need to make it a much more permanent part of life.  

4. Get the book published, offer a ebook for sale, grow the blog, and write what matters. I want to write things that matter to the people who read them--things that help you, inspire you, make you laugh, whatever. I don't want to write click bait. I want to write things that improve the lives of my readers. (So tell me what you want to read, OK?) 

5. Fuel my creativity by continuing to learn Italian, working on new art and knitting projects, and, of course, reading. I love learning new things! 

6. Simplify my space: Less stuff, more beauty, more organization, and increased hospitality. I made big progress on this this year as well--cleaning out my closet, taking many books to the secondhand shop (along with CDs and DVDs). So I'm proud of the progress I've made here. But there's more to do!

So those are my six big goals for the year. Each month, these get broken into monthly, weekly, and daily things I need to tend (in powersheets parlance). Daily things are things I want to make a habit--like exercise, checking my checkbook against the online transactions, reading the Bible for 10 minutes every day, practicing Italian. Stuff like that. 

Weekly things are things that get done every week: Daily Mass at least once, making a meal plan, doing a basic clean of the house, putting a certain amount of cash into my emergency stash here at home. 

Monthly tending are bigger things that I can do throughout the month. Some examples from my January tending list are editing my Nano 2016 novel, going to confession, completing a 30 day exercise plan.  

Some things are broken into monthly and weekly categories. The contentment challenge is broken into three months, with a weekly topic in a corresponding book. So there's a monthly "task", but also something to read each week. So the weekly devotion is written in my weekly tending list, so I don't forget to do that. 

I also write the daily tasks into my planner. That also helps keep me on track, because if my powersheets aren't easily available (though I always keep them on my counter, so I can find them quickly!), I can see at a glance what I'm doing that day. It's also great for things like the weekly cleaning--I can dust on Monday, vacuum Tuesday, etc. 

I find this is a better system than making resolutions. Resolutions are OK, but they usually don't have a plan or a why attached to them. "Lose 20 pounds" is a nice resolution--but how to do it? By going through the powersheets, I have an idea of how to do the things I want to do, how to achieve my goals, and how to be accountable to myself. I only have so much time here and I want to use it to the best of my ability!

Do you have goals for 2017? What are they? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daybook No. 122: Christmastide

Daybook, books, family, holidaysEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window:: 

It's cloudy and almost sixty degrees. Merry Christmas to us? :) My sister arrives today from Houston so maybe she brought the weather with her! 

Wearing::

My pajamas, because it's the day after Christmas and I am reading books on the couch once I finish writing this. Eventually, yes, I do have to get dressed because I want to see my sister. But not for a bit!

Reading::

Oh, the treasure trove of Christmas books! I received Three Sisters, Three Queens yesterday and I read that. I'm still reading Silence. I also got Cooking for Jeffrey and I read that several times yesterday. I know a few of those recipes are going to feature in the menu for my Christmas dinner this week. I also still have Frog Music and the Hamilton bio to start. So the cup runneth over (And when parents give you an Amazon gift card, what do you get? MORE BOOKS. I'm basically Cookie Monster, except...with books.)

Christmas notes::

I saw a tree by the dumpster today and it made me sad. Christmas is at least 12 days, guys! We get to celebrate for days and days! Eat the figgy pudding! (Whatever that is.) I can understand if you have a live tree and it's....dead. Then, yeah, you probably want to take it down. But Christmas isn't just one day. 

My brother had to work yesterday (he's a Steelers sportswriter for 24/7 sports) but fortunately the Steelers won in a Christmas miracle of an ending, so that makes it better. It was almost 50 degrees yesterday, too, so that was unseasonal. 

The Nativity scene at my parish. 

The Nativity scene at my parish. 

We go to the 4:00 Mass on Christmas Eve, also called the "Children's Mass". The children's choir sings and the nativity scene is blessed (that's what the book in the front is: it's the Book of Blessings. It's like Fiddler on the Roof: "There is a blessing for everything, my son!"). The church is always decorated to perfection. 

The altar, and yes, we USE those communion rails! The kneeler pads were embroidered by members of the altar guild, I believe. The stained glass window you can see is of St. Dominic receiving the rosary from Our Lady. 

The altar, and yes, we USE those communion rails! The kneeler pads were embroidered by members of the altar guild, I believe. The stained glass window you can see is of St. Dominic receiving the rosary from Our Lady. 

The Mass ends a little after five, and then we went home for dinner: 

There was also Peppermint Stick Ice Cream which is just the best. Seriously. The best. Mom made it part of a dessert with a sugar cookie bottom. Yum. 

Christmas Eve is pretty low key around the house. We watched Christmas Vacation because Bryan's girlfriend had never seen it--Bryan and I exchanged gifts, and his girlfriend and I did too. They left around 11:30 ish. 

Christmas Morning my brother came over around 9:30. We did the gifts, we did late brunch, and then we just hung out. It was lovely. 

Today Melanie comes in and will be here until the 31st, so there will be appropriate partying and other things. I think Bryan, Dad, and I are seeing the new Star Wars movie tomorrow. Maybe. 

Around the House::

Gotta get it ready for the Christmas dinner I'm having this week but the kitchen is in pretty good shape, so winning there. 

Living the Liturgy::

We're entering a pretty big swath of saints here. So it's not just the Octave of Christmas, it's also a lot of Feast Days. Yay! 

Quotable::

Christmas must mean more to us every year, and we must not be afraid of immersing ourselves in its joy."

--Mother Mary Francis, PCC, Come, Lord Jesus

 

Go immerse yourself in some joy today. :) 

 

 

My Favorite Christmas Movies

moviesEmily DeArdoComment

I've shared with you some of my favorite Christmas songs, and Christmas books, and now it's time for Christmas Movies!!! Few things say Christmas more to me than certain films. 

In no particular order, here are my favorite Christmas movies (or cartoons): 

** Mickey's Christmas Carol: This is from the 80s and features some dynamite Disney animators in their early stages; names like Glenn Keane and John Lasseter are in the credits. It's not entirely authentic to Dickens' tale, but it's a great introduction to the story, with beautifully animated characters and a pitch-perfect Scrooge McDuck. And how can you not love the Ghost of Christmas Present? 

Candied fruits with spiced sugar cakes! 

Candied fruits with spiced sugar cakes! 

** The Santa Clause: Kids today will be blown away by the size of the cordless phone....but the movie holds up well. Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) finds a fallen Santa Claus in his front yard on Christmas Eve, puts on the Santa suit, and becomes...Santa Claus. Only he doesn't believe it. But when he starts gaining weight by the ton and growing an impressive Santa beard right after shaving.....maybe there's something going on after all. A great family movie that will probably make you want cocoa. 

Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) tries a cocoa recipe 1500 years in the making at the North Pole. 

Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) tries a cocoa recipe 1500 years in the making at the North Pole. 

**'Twas the Night Before Christmas: This is an OLD Rankin-Bass cartoon. The town of Junctionville, NY has annoyed Santa because someone wrote a letter calling him a "fraudulent myth". How can the town get Santa to forgive them? 

**How The Grinch Stole Christmas: (both of them) Of course, the animated version cannot be beat. But the live-action one has its charms, especially in some of the dialogue. 

**A Charlie Brown Christmas: Right? I mean, you just have to watch it. 

 

** Muppet Christmas Carol: I LOVE MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL. I usually watch it at least twice. If you haven't seen it, you must, because it's the most faithful movie version I've found, with the narrator (Gonzo) actually reading parts of the prose as the narration. Michael Caine is Scrooge, Kermit is Bob Cratchit, and Miss Piggy is his wife, Emily. Rizzo the rat is Gonzo's sidekick. The whole gang is here, with great music, too. 

Michael Caine and the muppets 

Michael Caine and the muppets 

**The Family Man: This is sort of a take on It's a Wonderful Life. High-flying financier Jack Campbell has the perfect life: a penthouse in Manhattan, a fancy car, and a huge salary. But one Christmas Eve he gets the chance to see what would've happened if he'd chosen to marry his college girlfriend, Kate (Tea Leoni)--and he wakes up the next morning in suburban New Jersey, with a wife, two kids, and a job at a tire store. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Jack, in his alternative life, is given the chance to have the job he has back in "real" life. He tells Kate, "we could have a life that other people envy!"

"Oh, Jack," Kate says. "They already do envy us."

**The Holiday: A sweet movie wherein two women--Kate Winslet in England, and Cameron Diaz in LA--decided to switch homes over the holidays as they try to escape their lives. The movie really is sweet (meaning touching) and features great performances by Jude Law and Jack Black as the men in the women's lives. 

**The only "Old" movie on this list: Meet Me In St. Louis. I love it mostly for Judy Garland, and the movie gave us the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." Which, of course, Judy slays. 

 

**And finally, the coupe de grace of all Christmas movies: A Christmas Story. In my family, we could probably recite this guy. If you haven't seen the tale of Ralphie and his Red-Ryder BB gun (with this thing that tells time!), you are missing out. FIX IT. 

The Parker Clan of Cleveland Street: L-R: Mom, the "Old Man", Randy, and Ralphie. 

The Parker Clan of Cleveland Street: L-R: Mom, the "Old Man", Randy, and Ralphie. 

Daybook No. 121: Fourth week of Advent

Daybook, books, current projects, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

It's snowing. Again. We're receiving our entire winter weather in one wallop thus far, it seems. Snow, ice, temperatures in the single digits...but then it'll be almost 50 on Christmas Day. Ah, Ohio! 

Wearing::

A blue t-shirt, yoga pants, and oatmeal colored leggings--I'm writing this after I just did a workout at home. Go me, right? :) 

Reading:

I just finished The Catholic Table, which I highly recommend. For Christmas, my friend Tiffany got me Frog Music and the Alexander Hamilton biography that Hamilton is based on, so I'll be reading those this week. 

In the CD player::

The Christmas music playlist, obviously. 

Listening to :

Sherlock on the TV-John and Mary just got married. (I'm Netflixing the series.) 

Living the Liturgy:

Current projects: 

Working on editing the Catholic 101 ebook. I've been doing a few entries a week so that I can devote proper attention to them and not feel like I have to fly through them all quickly. Really excited about this project!

From the kitchen: 

Sicilian spaghetti tonight, involving yellow raisins, fennel, garlic, red pepper, and pine nuts. Should be delicious. I hope. :) Also a black bean soup and a Moroccan chicken dish. 

Plans for the week: 

Since it's the week before Christmas--trying to tidy up the house before the big celebration, finish any menu planning, etc, that has to happen for the post-Christmas parties and such. One nice thing about really cold temps (and ice) is that you have to stay inside, so that means a lot of housework can get done. In theory, anyway. :-P (No, really, I have gotten quite a bit down. But it just...keeps....coming....:-P) I'm also planning to swatch some new yarn for a basketweave scarf project, but that'll keep until post-Christmas. 

Christmas carol!: Well, OK, not really. But this was always one of my favorite parts of Messiah to sing. Handel loves altos. He sort of hates tenors and sopranos, but he loves altos. :) 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 129: Happy birthday, Jane!

7 Quick Takes, Jane Austen, books, holidays, history, linksEmily DeArdo3 Comments

I. 
Today is Jane Austen's 241st birthday!!! Yay!

This is definitely something to celebrate. So here's some links to help you celebrate, too! 

II. 

Here is one of my series on Jane's writing, if you want to catch up: 

Jane, Aristotle, and Aquinas

Also, Jane's characters figured prominently in my Seven Characters post! 

III. 

A wonderful way to celebrate today is to watch Pride and Prejudice. The ONLY Pride and Prejudice. As in, the one featuring Colin F as Mr. Darcy. Because I do not acknowledge any others. :-P Keira Knightly is not Lizzie in my world. 

IV.

If you would like to watch a Jane biopic, there is Becoming Jane, which I recommend. Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy are fantastic. 

Anne Hathaway as Jane in Becoming Jane

Anne Hathaway as Jane in Becoming Jane

V. 

You could also practice your instruments if you play any. Be like Marianne and play a "powerful concerto".  Or just listen to the Sense and Sensibility movie soundtrack, which is perfection. 

And since it's Christmastime (well, almost), we might wonder what carols would Jane have known? Here's a piece about Regency Christmas carols, and here's one from the Jane Austen Center. Also, Messiah was composed in 1741, thirty-four years before Jane was born, so she might have been familiar with some of the pieces. (It was first performed in Dublin, but had its London premiere in March 1743).  Her father was a clergyman, and the piece was performed in cathedrals around the country after the London premiere, so it might have been possible for Jane, or members of her family, to have heard it. 

Not familiar with some of the regency carols? I've provided some audio for your listening pleasure. 

VI. 

A little bit about Jane's family: her father, George Austen, was a clergyman who married Cassandra Leigh on April 26, 1764. Jane was the seventh of eight children and the second (and last) daughter--her sister, Cassandra, who was her best friend, was two years older than she was, and outlived Jane by twenty-eight years. 

The rest of the siblings were: Rev. James Austen; George Austen (who was severely disabled--either with epilepsy or cerebral palsy, we're not quite sure); Edward Austen-Knight (he was adopted by the Knight family as their heir, thus his last name); Henry Austen, Jane's favorite brother; Francis (Frank), who became a vice-admiral in the British Navy (giving Jane plenty of knowledge about the navy for her novels, especially Mansfield Park and Persuasion); and her younger brother, and youngest sibling, Charles, who also joined the Navy. 

Edward ended up being instrumental in the care of his widowed mother and unmarried sisters after their father died in 1805; he provided them with Chawton Cottage, where Jane did most of her writing, and where she died on July 18, 1817 at the age of forty-two.  (All of the brothers, though, helped support the women in the family after the reverend's death, with money and offerings of housing, etc.) 

VII. 

And finally, we must have tea! if you really want to drink tea like Jane did, get some Twinings, which was the brand she and her family drank! From the Twinings website: 

A century later, writer Jane Austen was a devoted customer because, at a time when tea leaves were sometimes mixed with tree leaves by unscrupulous vendors and smugglers, Austen could be sure of buying unadulterated leaves at Twinings. In an 1814 letter to her sister Cassandra, she mentions: “I am sorry to hear that there has been a rise in tea. I do not mean to pay Twining til later in the day, when we may order a fresh supply.” 

She visited the shop to buy tea for herself and her family when she was in town (meaning London) visiting her brother, Henry.  So, we must have tea on Jane's birthday. Their Lady Grey tea is an excellent choice for afternoon tea drinking.

 Here's a piece on tea in the Regency Era , and one on tea in her novels. 

There is also the delightful book Tea with Jane Austen as well as At Home With Jane Austen.  One day I WILL get to England and do the Jane Austen tour. My entire bucket list is basically that. 

Happy birthday, dear Jane!

Some of my favorite Christmas books for grown-ups

booksEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Around this time of year there are lots of lists of good Christmas books--for kids. But I don't really see good lists of Christmas books for adults! And there are some great ones. So I thought I'd give you my list. 

The criteria for it being a "Christmas book" is sort of self-explanatory--the action revolves around Christmas, or Christmas is involved in the book, somehow. This is not all-encompassing, it's just some of my favorites. And yes, there are some "kids" books in here. 

  • The Christmas Box, by Richard Paul Evans (and its sequels, Timepiece and The Letter): Isn't the Title sort of self-explanatory? Well, OK. But I read this when I was in seventh grade (I got it from the book order!) and it's just an amazing little book. Many of Evans' novels revolve around Christmas, so once you've read this, there are many more in his oeuvre to read. 
     
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott: "Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without any presents." The book starts at Christmas, and the holiday comes in and out through the narrative, usually with large-ish plot points--Mr. March's return from the war, Beth getting the piano, etc. 
     
  • The Handmaid and the Carpenter, by Elizabeth Berg: A re-telling of Mary and Joseph's story. Is it Biblically accurate? Well, probably not. But it's good anyway. 
     
  • The 24 Days Before Christmas, by Madeline L'Engle: This is part of the Austin family series. It's a short, beautifully illustrated book that talks about Vicky and her family on the eve of her brother Rob's Christmas birth. It's cute, for kids and adults for who are L'Engle fans. 
     
  • A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens: Obviously. But if you've never read it, do. There's a lot more to it than figures into most movie adaptations. (I have this version, which I adore.) 
     
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis: Probably the best known Narnia book, Christmas plays a huge role in the novel--the arrival of Father Christmas means that "Aslan is on the move" and breaks the White Witch's cycle of "always winter, never Christmas." The movie is great, too. 

Daybook No. 120: Our Lady of Guadalupe

Catholicism, DaybookEmily DeArdo1 Comment
The Our Lady of Guadalupe mural at the National Basilica 

The Our Lady of Guadalupe mural at the National Basilica 

Outside my window::

It's raining. It was snowing earlier and my car was covered this morning.  It's also been pretty cold but at the moment it's warm enough to rain and not ice, which is a blessing. Really. 

I'm wearing::

leggings and a blue t-shirt

In the CD player::

the Christmas playlist. 

Listening to::

Outlander Season two, episode one. Watching the series again. :) 

Reading::

Fire Within (more on that below),  O Jerusalem (A Russel-Holmes book--it's book 5 in the series); The Best Yes by Lysa Tekurst, for bible study, and I Believe In Love, which is the Well Read Mom book pick this month. (No, I'm not a mom, but I love this group.) 

Living the Liturgy::

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which I've talked about here. Here's a little bit from that piece: 

Mary appeared to Juan Diego four times, beginning December 9, 1531, at Tepeyac. She spoke in Juan Diego's native language and asked that a church be built on that site in her honor. When he went to the local bishop, he (like most bishops and priests in these accounts) asked for a sign. On December 12, Juan Diego saw Castellian roses at the foot of Tepeyac, which weren't indigenous to the region. He filled his cloak (ilma) with the roses, and presented them to the bishop. However, the roses weren't the only miraculous thing--the interior of the tilma was imprinted with a picture of the Lady as she appeared to Juan Diego. (For technical information about the image on the tilma, see this Wikipedia article.) 

She is also the patroness of Mexico, the Americas, the Philippines, and the unborn. 

So if you want to eat Mexican food today in honor of Our Lady, I won't stop you. ;-) Or Mexican Hot Chocolate! :) 

Tuesday: St. Lucy. Who doesn't love St. Lucy/ St. Lucia? Have some St. Lucia buns! If you're a woman of a certain age (ahem, my compatriots), dig out your old copy of Kristen's Surprise and find your Kirsten doll. (I may or may not have a Kirsten doll. I may or may not have her St. Lucia outfit. I ADMIT NOTHING. :-P)

On Wednesday, it's the feast of St. John of the Cross, who wrote the "Dark Night of the Soul", and many other spiritual classics. He was a contemporary of St. Teresa of Avila, and at one point was her confessor and spiritual director. I'm reading Fire Within right now, about both of them, so my spiritual reading is timely! (It's a great book. You need to read it slowly. It's long. But it's great.) Since I've given you food recommendations for every other day, I'd go with something appropriately Spanish here. Or, you know. Tacos again. 

And then on Saturday, it's time to get excited, people. It's the beginning of the O Antiphons, and it's a week until Christmas Eve! 

Around the house::

Getting ready for Christmas with the rest of the housekeeping. Wheeee, right? :) And my dishwasher is broken, so I'm hoping the guy will be out to fix it today. 

Fitness and Creativity::

I've been trying to do a sketch every day this month, and I've been keeping up with it pretty well. My goal is to finish my current sketchbook by the end of the month. I've got about 13 pages to go, so it's definitely doable. 

Fun Links:: 

A Christmas song for you!

 

(Or, as it was fondly renamed in high school choir, "Do you know what I hear".....yes, it's very easy to mix up all the "hears" and "sees" and "says".....) 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 128

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdo2 Comments

This week's seven quick takes: Seven of my Favorite Christmas Songs (Carols and non-Carols!)

I. 

O Holy Night

I mean, really? We can't forget this one. 

II. 

In The Bleak Midwinter

III. 

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (And DO NOT CHANGE THE WORDS, y'all)

IV. 

The Seven Rejoices of Mary. You've probably never heard of this one, but it's great!

V. 

O Come All Ye Faithful

VI. 

Carol of the Bells (two versions, for your listening pleasure!)

VII

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (If you're not familiar with the history of this one, go here. Judy Garland just slays it in the movie, which I can't put here, but it's on TV like every day during the holidays.) 

And bonus: I was never really a fan of this carol, but I Love Loreena's Version of it!

What are your favorite Christmas songs? 

A Project for 2017

writingEmily DeArdoComment
Calvin and I are doing similar things here.....

Calvin and I are doing similar things here.....

If you've been reading regularly, then you know about my Catholic 101 series, which started as my project for 2015/2016. 

My Dad had a great idea--that I take the entires, add some new material, and publish it as an ebook. I've been wanting to do an ebook for awhile, and I think this is a great way to combine the old material with new material and create something really useful.

So I'm taking the entries, editing and enlarging them, and adding some new material, and I'll hopefully have something ready to go in the spring. I'm really excited to offer this! 

I'm not sure if it'll be Amazon or iBook format--maybe both. If anyone has experience doing this, can you leave your info in the comments in case I need help? :) Thanks!

 

 

Daybook No 119--Advent Monday

DaybookEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Long time no daybook, guys! So I thought I'd jump back in with one. 

Outside my window: 

It's dark, and possibly going to snow. (I'm writing this on Sunday night, so we'll see if the snow actually happened by the time this is posted in the morning.) 

Wearing::

comfy clothes. Black leggings, oatmeal colored legwarmers, and a long white sweater with gray stripes. I like layers. 

Listening to: 

the Steelers/Giants game

In the CD player:

My "Christmas" playlist, which is cycling back and forth with the Advent/Christmas part of Messiah

Reading::

About to start the fifth Mary Russell novel, O Jerusalem. These are mystery novels--Sherlock Holmes is a main character in them. Normally I don't like mystery novels, but the first in this series, The Beekeeper's apprentice, caught me, and now I have to read them all. 

Celebrating the Liturgy: 

It's the second week of Advent. I love adding another candle, seeing two flames on the wreath. Everything is up, including my tree, which was done with the great help of my younger brother, who always looks in dismay at all my ornaments, proclaims they're not all going to go up, but then, they miraculously do. 

 

Here's a post I wrote in the Catholic 101 series about Advent feasts and memorials. And don't forget to go to Mass on Thursday! (Read the link to find out why....) 

Rhythm in housekeeping::

Well...funny thing. I decided to go back on steroids, because I couldn't handle being off them--my body was just NOT happy about it. I finally decided, after a day that felt eerily like life pre-transplant, that if 5 milligrams of prednisone was going to help me feel normal for my favorite time of year, then dagnabbit, I was going to do it. Maybe I'll be back on the pare-down train after the new year but for right now, I want to have energy and not feel like I'm going to collapse any second. 

Anyway, all of this to say that now I have energy, and thus, my house is going to start looking a lot better.

Exercise::

It also means that I can exercise again. So I've done it, 5/7 days last week. I'm insanely proud of that. 

Creativity::

One of my goals this month is to do a sketch every day. So far, I'm 4/4, so I'm pleased with that. I'm messing with my paints, colored pencils, markers, etc. And I'll have a new type of sketchbook to use when I'm done with the current one! So yay! (Currently I'm using a Moleskine, for you art people--the new one is a Stillman and Birn Zeta  ) 

Not every sketch I've done is one I Like. But that's OK. I'm getting the practice in and getting the chance to be creative. 

 

Catholic 101: Answering some questions!

Catholic 101Emily DeArdoComment

So, today--in what's probably the last entry in this series (maybe I'll do Catholic 202 someday!)--I'm answering some questions that I've been asked!

(And also: Advent has started!!!!) 

What are relics?

This is a good question. They are something that perplex non-Catholics, probably. :) 

Relics have to do with saints. Essentially, relics are the bones, ashes, and/or clothing of a saint. 

A sign directing you to St. Therese's reliquary, St. Therese retreat house, Columbus, OH. 

A sign directing you to St. Therese's reliquary, St. Therese retreat house, Columbus, OH. 

A statue of St. Therese. The three items in the foreground are relics from St. Therese. 

A statue of St. Therese. The three items in the foreground are relics from St. Therese. 

The relics are divided into classes: first, second, and third.  Here's wikipedia: 

  • First-Class Relics: items directly associated with the events of Christ's life (manger, cross, etc.) or the physical remains of a saint (a bone, a hair, skull, a limb, etc.). Traditionally, a martyr's relics are often more prized than the relics of other saints. Parts of the saint that were significant to that saint's life are more prized relics. For instance, King St. Stephen of Hungary's right forearm is especially important because of his status as a ruler. A famous theologian's head may be his most important relic. (The head of St. Thomas Aquinas was removed by the monks at the Cistercian abbey at Fossanova where he died.) If a saint did a lot of traveling, then the bones of his feet may be prized. Catholic teaching prohibits relics to be divided up into small, unrecognizable parts if they are to be used in liturgy (i.e., as in an altar; see the rubrics listed in Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar).
  • Second-Class Relics: items that the saint owned or frequently used, for example, a crucifix, rosary, book, etc. Again, an item more important in the saint's life is thus a more important relic. Sometimes a second-class relic is a part of an item that the saint wore (a shirt, a glove, etc.) and is known as ex indumentis("from the clothing").
  • Third-Class Relics: any object that is touched to a first- or second-class relic.[38] Most third-class relics are small pieces of cloth, though in the first millennium oil was popular; the Monza ampullae contained oil collected from lamps burning before the major sites of Christ's life, and some reliquaries had holes for oil to be poured in and out again. Many people call the cloth touched to the bones of saints "ex brandea". But ex brandea strictly refers to pieces of clothing that were touched to the body or tombs of the apostles. It is a term that is used only for such; it is not a synonym for a third-class relic. 

So basically, relics are either from Jesus or the saints. There are relics of the True Cross, found by St. Helena. Nowadays you'll normally find documentation attached to relics. At the reliquary I visited (above), there were proofs of authenticity framed on the wall next to the relics. 

Basically, relics help put us in touch with the divine. Miracles have been attributed to them. But we don't worship them, just like we don't worship saints. But they are holy objects and thus are to be treated with respect. 

Does a child have to be baptized before she receives First Communion? 

Yes. Baptism is the "entry" sacrament, the sacrament that makes someone a member of the Christian family. All the sacraments build on that one. 
A child can go through a child's version of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults--the conversion process for people who either are Christian, but not Catholic, or not Christian at all), or a child can be baptized  the way babies are, with additional instruction, since the child is older. 

Does the Catholic Church ever allow abortion?

No. That's the short answer. 
The long answer, from the Catechism, is here--and I'm posting the whole thing. It's sort of long. 

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.72

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you."73

"My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth."74

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.75

God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.76

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. "A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,"77 "by the very commission of the offense,"78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."80

"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."81

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, "if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safe guarding or healing as an individual. . . . It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence."82

2275 "One must hold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but are directed toward its healing the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival."83

"It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material."84

"Certain attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities. Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being and his integrity and identity"85 which are unique and unrepeatable.

So, no. To have an abortion, to help someone have an abortion, or to in any way support abortion, is a mortal sin. 

 

That's all from the mail bag. If you have a question, let me know, and I'll answer it here! 

Reviewing the Situation

transplant, healthEmily DeArdo1 Comment

(If you're not a musical theater nerd, the title is from a song in Oliver!) 

So, being off prednisone is fun. Kind of. 

In case you missed it, at my last clinic visit on Halloween, my doctor gave me the go-ahead to go off prednisone for a month. Then I'd do PFTs (pulmonary function tests) again. If things were stable, I could stay off. If they were terrible, then I'd have to go back on. 

I knew that, even though I was only taking 5 mg of prednisone once a day, that being on it for 11+ years would mean a fairly rough adjustment period. I knew there would be joint pain, for one, because my joints are like that. 

So I said I'd give myself a week to adjust. 

Now I figure I better give myself the month. 

Prednisone affect so many things. It affects hormones, which is really the biggest issue. But what that means for the body is that, when you remove it, all or some of the following can happen while your body adjusts back: 

  1. headaches
  2. joint pain
  3. muscle pain
  4. low blood pressure
  5. low blood sugar
  6. dizziness
  7. trembles in your hand and feet
  8. extreme tiredness
  9. nausea
  10. vomiting
  11. low energy levels
  12. Increased anxiety
  13. Weight loss (YAY!) 
  14. dehydration 

That's just some of them. Mine have mostly been physical, and they keep changing. At first it was just the joint stuff. Then the low blood sugar set in, which means I need to have sugar/candy/juice/carbs around the house, to prevent my blood sugar from going too low. I can't say I'm sad to have to have these things around.....but yeah. I was Christmas shopping today and at the checkout counter I was hit with a I have to eat now or I'm going to faint and /or throw up all over this guy while we were talking about gift receipts. Fortunately I held it together until I could get to Jimmy John's and have myself some sandwich and Diet Coke. (I'm still main-lining the Diet Coke as I do this, because I'm still trembly, which is a sign of low blood sugar for me.) To keep the blood pressure up, more salt is recommended, too, but that's sort of always recommended when you have CF, because your salt levels are so wacky anyway.

I tend to have spurts of energy in the morning and then around 12:30-1:00 have the urge to just nap, or curl up and read, which doesn't require a ton from me. Then I get another spurt of energy from about 5:30-10:00. Let's just say my housekeeping is sort of...all over the place right now. I'm trying to keep up with it during the spurts of energy. I'll nap, and then go to bed around 10, because I'm tired again. 

I have lost weight from last week--yay!--and I've noticed that my appetite has decreased measurably. Also yay. Two good things. 

There's also a little bit of brain fog. I'm working on countering that with writing lots of lists and trying to get enough sleep. 

So if you know me in real life, and I seem like I'm cancelling more often, or I'm saying no to things, or you come to my house and it's like, wow, that's a lot of dishes in the sink: I'm working at about half power right now. :) 

In the end, I have no doubt that it'll work out fine. I mean, to be off prednisone is a good thing. It means my bones will be stronger. My blood sugar will be more normal, as will my blood pressure (although it was already pretty normal). I'll lose weight! My appetite will go back to normal!

But right now, it's sort of like, OK, body, you're getting what you want. Hopefully on the other side of this is happiness!! Prednisone-free life!! That's the goal that I'm working toward. 

But if I fall asleep on you, it's not you. (At least, I don't think so. :-P)

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to be an Awesome Person (Inspired by Kid President)

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdo2 Comments

This is Seven Quick Takes, but it's not a usual one. 

Have you heard of Kid President? I found a video of him the day after the election, and it seemed oddly....appropriate. 

 

So I've spent a lot of time since then watching his other videos. He encourages people to "be awesome." So I'm doing the same thing here, because people, we need a bit more awesome in our lives. 

 

NUMBER ONE!

The Thumper Principle: If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all. 

NUMBER TWO!

Say please and thank you, like your parents and grandparents taught you! Thank everyone! The lady who bags your groceries! The kid at the drive through! The waiter who brings your beverages! THANK PEOPLE!

(And since today is Veterans' Day...thank Veterans? Good idea.) 

NUMBER THREE!

Be helpful! Hold doors for people. If someone drops something, pick it up for them. Etc. 

NUMBER FOUR! 

SMILE AT PEOPLE. Seriously. Smile. It's nice. 

 

NUMBER FIVE!

Send people notes! Real notes! In the mail! 

NUMBER SIX! 

Don't be a jerk. Turn on your lights when you're driving and it's dark outside. Use your turn signal. Return carts to the cart corral! Throw away your empty popcorn container after a movie! 

NUMBER SEVEN!

From the video: Treat people like people!!!!! Use the Golden Rule! 

Come on, guys. We're big adult humans. (Most of us who are reading this, anyway. I guess there might be some kids out there.) Let's be mature, reasonable, responsible, AWESOME PEOPLE.