Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Daybook No. 125: Hi, February! (And a writing project update)

DaybookEmily DeArdo2 Comments

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Outside my window::

Currently warm (going to be 50 today) but it was cold over the weekend. It felt like 14, which meant bundling up to take out the trash. I've determined I'd rather sit in a boiling hot car than a freezing cold one. Neither is fun, but at least with the really hot one you can open windows and get some fresh air circulating. When it's cold, you have to wait for the heat to kick in, and even when it does, it can be anemic. 

 

Reading::

Out of the Ashes, by Anthony Esolen. I've long been a fan of Esolen's writing in Magnificat, and I've been wanting to read his Divine Comedy translation, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. This is a work of non-fiction about our culture and how to rebuild it. 

He makes an interesting point, and one I like, in what I've read so far: People object to money being spent on churches, but not on stadiums, or movie theaters, or other "things" for public consumption. And I've never thought of it that way, but it's true. I've often heard that the money the Church spends on art, vestments, architecture, etc. should go "to the poor" instead of being given "to the priests". One person told me that the money was taken from the poor, like it was forcibly removed from their pockets!

I currently attend a beautiful church, built by Irish immigrants in the 1840s and 50s. The floors are maple and oak; the pews are solid maple. The stained glass is gorgeous. The stations of the cross are real stations of the cross, carved and painted with care. The church has stood for more than 150 years. And the poor built it. They gave their money and their handiwork to glorify God, and did it so well that people generations later can still gather and worship God there. The fancy vestments and the stained glass are put in churches for God. We have built a temple for Him, and doesn't he deserve our best? The poor knew that. 

Marble! Maple! Oak! And yes, a communion rail! 

Marble! Maple! Oak! And yes, a communion rail! 

Too often today our churches have plywood pews and linoleum floors and the tabernacle is shoved off somewhere else (and it doesn't even look like a place where God Dwells! It looks like a dirty box!) and the Stations are abstract things and there's no crucifix or real art to be found. We think this is "thrifty", but doesn't it just downgrade our idea of God, and our worship of God? (And isn't it a waste of money? Plywood floors will never last like the maple and oak my parish has. Within a generation, you'll need to replace them. That's not good stewardship! Quality materials, quality craftsmanship, last.) 

Look at this Eucharistic Chapel! I mean, you can tell God lives there! 

Look at this Eucharistic Chapel! I mean, you can tell God lives there! 

And, as the French Sister Colette says in In This House of Brede, "It is for Le Seigneur." It is for the Lord. 

Anyway, that's what I'm pondering and reading. :) I'm also reading Fortune's Rocks and An Everlasting Meal

Writing Updates:

So, the ebook progresses. I've edited all the pieces from the series that I published here, to make them a little more well-rounded, and now I'm beginning to write the new pieces that are also going in the book. I hope to have them done (there's about five of them) ready for March, so then I can put the whole manuscript together and begin to edit and proofread for consistency, readability, and correctness (as well as format it all properly.). The hard part will be figuring out which format to publish to. So if you use an e-reader, or own an iPad, and would like to read the book, can you tell me what format you use the most? (And if you don't have an e-reader, you can still read the book via apps. More on that later.) Thanks muchly!

And I'm working on my next query. I read a piece awhile ago that says you send out eighty queries in the quest to getting published. I don't know if that was a real number or hyperbole, but it made me feel better. 

From the kitchen::

I'm working through An Everlasting Meal's food suggestions, and thinking about ways to both stretch food dollars and also eat more vegetables, and eat more simply. I love to cook, but I don't like to cook insanely complicated things--I want things that are more accessible to everyday life, like scrambled eggs with herbed cheese, or pork chops with a simple glaze. And I'd love to be more skilled in cooking vegetables without a recipe. I mean, one shouldn't need a recipe for veggies, right? The book has been really helpful and I've post-in note marked a bunch of pages of things I want to try, starting with her ideas for chicken (cooking one and using bits of it all week), and vegetables. Of course, one can roast veggies without a recipe. Crank the over to 400 and stick 'em in for 45 minutes or so. And while that's great, other methods are probably equally as great. 

Plans for the week:

Lunch with Dad; taking mom to the doctor; and lots of writing. Oh, and knitting! 

 

 

 

Yarn Along No. 49

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It's nice to blog about books and yarn, isn't it? Not that I'm in denial about the topsy-turvy state of the world, but things like books and yarn are safe, in a sense. And pretty. Really, pretty is a good thing. 

I'm alternating between Kim and this book, which is part of a mystery series. The scarf obviously progresses; I'm near the end of the first skein. I think it'll take at least one more to hit the 50" mark. Next week I'll show you a full length shot so you can get a better idea of how long it is! You can sort of see here, how it's draping over the edge of the tray. I also think this is almost the entire color variation pattern, too, so I have a sense of how the colors will play out. 

One of the nice things about knitting is how you make something from nothing more than a bunch of yarn and two pieces of wood. The creative act is really soothing, at least I think it is. 

 

 

Circle of Life

life issuesEmily DeArdoComment
We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.
— Benedict XVI

Friday the annual March for Life was held in Washington, D.C. 

It was also Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

And the day that President Trump signed an executive order lowering the number of refugees that can enter the United States, as well as denying entry to certain refugees for 90 days, and a host of other things pertaining to refugees around the world. 

What do these things have in common? 

They're all about life issues. 

We in the pro-life movement are often accused of only caring about people "before they're born", and that if we really cared about people, we'd make contraception more widely available, so we wouldn't "need" abortions. We'd also support social programs that help people instead of cutting them. 

There's a lot to untangle there. And I wasn't even going to write about this, because people know how I feel (I don't really sugarcoat it). But I feel like there needs to be some sort of response to all this, even if it's my inadequate one. So here we go. 

First, there is no barrier to getting birth control. I really don't know why people think this. Condoms are available at any corner drug store or grocery. There was a basket of them in the entryway of my campus health center in college, free for the taking. Birth control pills can be prescribed by any OB-GYN in the nation. Yes, you have to pay for them. Shock. I'm of the opinion that things like birth control and Viagra should not be free, especially when people have to pay thousands of dollars for drugs that keep them alive. If you want to have sex, and you don't want to get pregnant, take the proper precautions. Be responsible. If you do get pregnant, abortion is not "health care." It is not birth control. It is killing a human being. Full stop. So, in order to avoid pregnancy, either don't have sex, or be responsible. And don't tell me that you can't afford a condom. And if the guy won't wear it, then, as a self-respecting woman, you need to dump him fast, because he is not a responsible dude who cares about you and the potential consequences of actions. Don't be dumb, ladies. Please. *

We care about unborn children because they need someone to care about them. They have no voice. They can't make cool YouTube videos or get covered by CNN as they hold a rally. They only have us. And if the most fundamental right--the right to exist--is denied, then how can we say we're for peace anywhere else? Is the logical failure apparent yet? It should be. We have to start at the bottom, at the bedrock. All life is worthy of being protected. 

Supporting social programs does not mean that you support government programs. Most of the pro-life people I know (If not all of them) also support pro-life charities that help pregnant women. They're just not government-run programs. They're private charities/organizations. Some examples are: 

Sisters of Life

Mary's Shelter VA

Pregnancy Decisions Health Centers

These are just a very, very few places. But there are so many more, that exist all over the country, and are spreading. Don't say that the pro-life movement doesn't care about these children and these women. Because we do. Small government conservatives generally don't want government doing a bunch of things. We want communities to do them--and they are. 

Now, does that mean that there shouldn't be a basic floor that people don't fall beneath? Sure. But that's sort of outside the scope of this discussion, and good-hearted and good-intentioned people can disagree on how best that should occur. 

Now, if we are to be pro-life in the best sense that does mean respecting all life--realizing that all life has value. That does mean that the death penalty has extremely limited applications (as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, here). That means we don't kill people who are old, or terminally ill. It does mean that we should help refugees. The vetting process is intense.  Now, does that mean that nations should let in whoever wants to come to their country? Well, probably not. States are sovereign and they are allowed to make decisions that they feel are necessary to protect their people (and immigration laws exist for a reason. But we're talking about refugees, here, not "regular" immigration.) But the Church says in the catechism that: 

2237 Political authorities are obliged to respect the fundamental rights of the human person. They will dispense justice humanely by respecting the rights of everyone, especially of families and the disadvantaged.
The political rights attached to citizenship can and should be granted according to the requirements of the common good. They cannot be suspended by public authorities without legitimate and proportionate reasons. Political rights are meant to be exercised for the common good of the nation and the human community.

Refugees are certainly among the disadvantaged. We shouldn't act out of fear, but out of logic, out of consideration for all sides. And this extends to administrations on both the left and the right. 

And Holocaust Remembrance Day? 

Jews tried to flee Europe in order to escape Hitler and the rise of Nazism. And the U.S. did not respond well. The book Alex's Wake tells the story of Jewish refugees who were coming to Havana, but were denied entry there and in the United States and Canada, and forced back to Europe and the Holocaust. 

Anne Frank's father tried to arrange immigration to the U.S., but was denied. And we know how that story ended.

We look back on these stories and ask, how could the government have made those decisions? Probably because of fear. How could the U.S. government incarcerate thousands of Japanese-Americans

I think we have to learn from history. And we have to support life. I can't imagine being one of the people in the airport, thinking they're going to be a place of safety, and being told that they can't leave--that they're doomed to stay in a war zone. Think about that for a second. 

We have to protect life in all its stages. We cannot allow people to become "other" because we are all children of God. No one is other

We cannot look away. We can't turn aside. 

We might disagree on policy decisions--how best to educate children, how best to provide health care to people, what the tax rate should be. But we cannot disagree on the fact that all of us are human beings, and all of us are God's. We are responsible for each other at a basic level. 

Babies. Jews. Refugees. 

People

 

 

 

 

 

 

________

* That being said, I'm Catholic, and I don't believe sex outside of marriage is moral, nor is the use of artificial birth control inside of marriage. I know not everyone feels that way. :) I'm talking from a policy perspective here, not a religious one. 

 

 

Yarn Along No. 48

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo3 Comments

(this post contains affiliate links) 

The scarf continues!

I really love the color variations here, so that makes this a fun project to work on. Instead of just doing the same pattern in a solid yarn, which would be pretty, too, there's the extra fun of seeing the colors change as I work it up. 

Kim is a Christmas gift book and I'm working through it. It's been interesting, so far, but I was sidetracked by reading all about the President's wives--I zoomed through The Residence, First Womenand Upstairs at the White House this week, all of which were great and I highly recommend them. And now, back to Kim

 

 

"It's little, and broken, but still good"

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(If you're reading this in an email, you might have to click over to see the video clip) 

"It's little, and broken, but still good." 

This is true of so many things. 

We want life to be perfect, don't we? But let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. 

A life that is still little and broken is still good

Because no one isn't broken. 

Jane Eyre once described herself as poor and little. But Jesus also said that that's precisely who he came for--the poor and the little and the broken. 

So don't disdain that. Don't feel like your life isn't worth it because it's not perfect.

It's still good. 

 

The lie of fine

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"I'm fine."

"It's fine."

"That's fine."

It's all fine. Isn't it? 

I remember when I was on TV in that splash of incredible good luck, and I remember what someone tweeted: That I was ridiculously happy. The implication being, who is that happy? The follow-up: Surely, she's not really that happy

And no, I'm not. All those people who saw twenty some minutes of my life have missed the lie of "fine." 

How many times do I say I'm fine when really, I'm just a mess? 

I've been a mess this week. And it's only Tuesday.

The physical mess always starts first. Something is almost always breaking in me, and I don't share that, because really, who wants to hear that every day? Who wants to hear about my lack of energy, my long sleep that rivals Aurora's, the way I wake up every morning and look at the clock and wonder how in the world I slept so long. The day's to-do list running away from me before I've even properly opened my eyes, the groan of wasted time. The should haves start. 

How taking the ornaments off the tree and putting them away makes my heart pound faster than it should. Putting away laundry? Seems like running a sprint. 

How I can't shake this feeling that something is wrong, deep in the marrow of me, but there's nothing that's really jumping out and saying "pay attention to me!"

When friends ask how I am, I say "fine." Because who really wants to hear that I'm not? And they have their own burdens--children, houses, finances, pregnancies, unexpected things that burden the back in a way it wasn't burdened, five minutes ago, before the letter was opened or the email addressed. 

"I'm fine."

The uninvited guest, that voice that says "You are broken. You are unlovable. You are worthless." It always rears its head at times like these, and I know it's not true--I know that Christ loves me, that God is always good and I am always loved, that the value of a person isn't in personal perfection, but in the sheer existence of said person. That God made us at all. It doesn't matter how broken I am. Not to God. Not to the people who love me.

But the voice echoes, that voice that started back in the Garden, the voice of, "Who could love such a burden? Who would want such a burden?" Who wants the late-night phone calls with ER rushes and the medical bills that never end and an email that says hearing comes at a cost of $10,000? Who wants to be that constant burden to someone else? No one, right. Because we just want to be "fine." 

The yoke is easy and the burden light. Really? Is it? 

He says it is. And I know that I can trust Him, if I can trust anyone in this world, it's Him. But that Trust, that joy, it's so hard wrung. Why is it so much easier to believe the lie, than the truth? Why is hard to believe that we're loved---that I am loved--but so easy to believe the thoughts that I'm worthless, broken, not worthy. 

Why is it so hard to believe that Christ, that one who doesn't lie to us, and never will--the one who suffered so much to prove His love for us, the one that gives me everything I need--really loves me? Us? 

The battle for joy, for assurance, for love--it hides behind "I'm fine." Or behind those tweets or Facebook messages that people leave that are calling out for attention and affirmation. 

Ann Voskamp, in her latest bible study, says that we all just want to be loved. That's what everything comes down to. She also says that love is being inconvenienced. 

How do you feel loved when the Enemy says that all you are is one big inconvenience? 

Why is truth so much harder to believe than a lie--especially when we know it's a lie? 

I don't know. 

For all the ridiculously happy moments, there are an equal amount of moments in the dark where the only prayers are the ones from the Psalms that cry of desolation. The words from the Cross. The "Lord, Lord...."....wordless prayers. Help me see that I am not worthless. Help me. Bring me up from this pit. You've got to carry this, Lord, because I can't. I just don't know what to do with this. 

The desire is there to not burden other people with all of us. All the human messiness, all the problems, all the emotions. But God made us for community. He didn't make us to hide behind the "fine." 

It's not always fine. But in a sense, it is, because God's got this. God is always good and I am always loved. No matter what the Enemy whispers in the dark places at night, in the moments when sleep is elusive and the heart pounds fast and worst case scenarios play out against the shadowed walls. 

We don't have to hide behind fine. It's not always happy. It's not always joy. Sometimes it's the hard, the twisted battles, the darkness. It's the feeling of total emptiness. 

But letting people in--that can break the darkness. It can bring the light. That doesn't happen when "fine" is all that happens. 

It's not always fine. It's not always happy. 

But there is always something good under all of that dark. There is something good that will emerge. The cross brought the resurrection. 

We are meant to shoulder one another's burdens. We are meant to be community. 

And sometimes, that means letting others bring the light, and opening the darkness to them. Inviting them in to see the true, and the messy--but maybe, also, the beautiful. The beauty in the mess and darkness and shadows. 

 

 

 

 

 

Daybook No. 124: entering Ordinary Time

Daybook, behind the scenes, fiction, travel, writingEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Outside my window::

Dark. I tend to write these on Sunday nights, so that they go up in the morning without me having to scramble to write. So it's Sunday night, but it was light until like 5:45 today! I love that. :) 

Wearing::

A skirt and a three-quarter sleeve robin's egg blue t-shirt. When I have to work around the house I'd rather do it in one of my dress down skirts because it's easier to move around in, and I was cleaning the kitchen this morning. 

Reading::

Kim, Anne of Green Gables, and I'm going to dig out my Queen Victoria books, because of Victoria on PBS. (No, I'm not watching it right now--the Steelers are on!) I have a feeling the series is not going to be as historically accurate as I would like, so I need to refresh my memory on the finer points. 

Played Disney Scrabble over the weekend. There are four "Disney words" in this puzzle: Song, Fox, Deb, and Hope. Do you know why? (Answers at the bottom)

Played Disney Scrabble over the weekend. There are four "Disney words" in this puzzle: Song, Fox, Deb, and Hope. Do you know why? (Answers at the bottom)

Looking forward to::

The Making Things Happen Intensive! I won a ticket to the conference, but I had to book my flight and hotel, and I'm done with my prep now! Yay! I am so excited to be attending this conference, and glad that the conference gets a good room rate and I found a decent airfare to Raleigh. 

Around the house::

Cleaning. Finishing the Christmas tree putting-away-ness. Putting it up, I usually have help. Taking it down, it's usually just me. So it takes a few days, especially since I like all the ornaments to go back--nicely--into their boxes. 

Random thoughts::

Is anyone else tired? What is it with this January? Is it the weird weather pattern of 3-4 days of FREEZING COLD and then 3-4 days of spring? I'm sleeping for 10-11 hours a night, and that's just weird. I shouldn't be sleeping like that. Anyone else, or am I just weird? 

Writing projects::

I'm making really good progress on the ebook editing, which is the first step here. I'm making sure every piece that I want to have in the book is first off, written, and second off, edited. Not finished, but edited. I'll have this goal met by the end of the month, then it's time for fine-tuning. 

I'm also editing my 2016 NaNo novel this month, to see if there's anything relatively passable in it. :) 

Fun Quote I found last week::

 

Tea is sacrosanct, thank you very much.

Dr. Gordon Wyatt, Bones

 

Plans for the week: 

*Lunch with Dad

* Mass at least once

*Finishing the Tree Takedown

*Taking yet more books/CDs/DVDs to Half Price Books

And knitting! Moreeee knitting--progress posted on Wednesday. 

 

Answers for the puzzle: In Disney Scrabble, Disney words are a wide variety of things and can include: ride names, movie titles, song titles, character names, etc. Obviously you have to prove it's a "Disney word." So in this case: Deb (character from Finding Nemo), Song ("Love Is a Song That Never Ends", from Bambi; "Happy Little Working Song" from EnchantedSong of the South; "With A Smile and a Song" from Snow White); Fox (Fox and the Hound), and Hope ("One Last Hope" from Hercules.) 

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

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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::

 

 

IMG_4634.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 DeArdo4 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!