Emily M. DeArdo



Yarn Along No. 66: SCARF FOR SALE!

books, Barton Cottage Crafts, knittingEmily DeArdoComment

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

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


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

lady sibyl BCC .jpg

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

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

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

Now, for this week's project: 

I finished the shawl!


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

And I'm working on this scarf: 


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

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


Yarn Along No. 65

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

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

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

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




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

Check out that tweedy goodness!

Check out that tweedy goodness!


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

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

Various and Sundry:

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

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


Catholic 101: FAQs and Gift Giving!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Yarn Along No. 64

knitting, yarn along, booksEmily DeArdoComment

It's back! Whew!

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




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

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

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


It is here! Catholic 101 RELEASE DAY!!!

behind the scenes, books, Catholic 101, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Cue the confetti! 

It's the release day for Catholic 101!


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

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

Have questions? Check out the answers here

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

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

The release of Catholic 101

behind the scenes, books, Catholic 101, Catholicism, writingEmily DeArdo1 Comment
Catholic 101 (1).jpg

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

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

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

Here are the details: 

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

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

*A list of recommended books

*A compendium of basic Catholic prayers

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

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

1) How much is it? 

The book is $9.50. 

2) What the heck is Gumroad? 

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

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

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

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

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

5) When is the book actually available? 

November 2--the feast of All Souls. 

6) Why pre-order? 

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

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

Right. Same price, same everything. 

I have a question you didn't answer

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

You can pre-order here: 




Yarn Along No. 63

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

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



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


Yarn Along No. 62

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo1 Comment

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

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


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


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


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

Yarn Along No. 61: Barton Cottage Crafts and Linen

yarn along, books, knittingEmily DeArdoComment


Barton Cottage Crafts is what I call my nascent scarf business. It's named after the Dashwood ladies' house in Sense and Sensibility, which is also what I call my own little house, and I think it has a nice ring to it, right? So this week I'm showing you what I'm working on there, as well as linen piece progress.


This is the Anne Shirley scarf, done in an autumnal colorway to channel Anne's love of October. 


This is the Lady Edith, done in blues and greens, and named after Downton Abbey's Lady Edith Crawley, who looked quiet lovely in these shades (even if she wasn't my favorite character. :-P) 


This one is in progress, and it's the Brianna Randall, named after the Outlander character. I chose to name this bright colorway after Brianna because of the Day-Glo colored dress she wears to the moon landing party in Drums of Autumn

All of these scarves have been commissioned, but I'm hoping eventually to knit up enough stock to have an Etsy shop for them. If you want one, just drop me a line and we can talk! 

For my own personal knitting, we've got the linen kerchiefs going on.  There's the supermoon one, in purple linen (Venice colorway): 


And the sans kerchief, in the Truffle colorway (these are both Quince and Co.'s sparrow yarn). 


The Supermoon has a textured pattern, so each row is different; you work in sets of seven rows at a time. The sans is just stockinette stitch, so it's a lot easier! It's also the project I brought on vacation because I thought it would be nice and relaxing to do, which it was, for the most part, but linen can be a pain when you're purling, especially in the beginning. Gah! 

When I have commissions, I work on my own pieces on the weekends only, usually Sundays, because I want people to get their pretty scarves as soon as possible! So I've been going back and forth between the two linen projects. No rush on those, especially on Supermoon, since it's a bit more complicated than anything I've done before. 



I'm at ESTJ, how about you? (And Why It Matters) And a Giveaway!

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Reading People Quote.png

If the headline of this post doesn't make any sense to you, that's OK. Hopefully it will shortly. 

If you're like me, you love personality quizzes. I remember taking them in Teen and Seventeen back in high school--"what fall makeup look is for you?" "What Drew Barrymore heroine are you?" (Yes, that was a real quiz). And I've always loved them. I've taken the "What Jane Austen Heroine?" quiz are you many times, bouncing between Marianne and Elinor until I've finally, consistently, landed on Elizabeth Bennet. As much as I originally wanted to be in Gryffindor, many Sorting Hat Quizzes have led me to Hufflepuff, where I have finally become a Proud Badger. 

But why do we do this? Is it just for fun--or do we take these quizzes to learn something about ourselves, to try to figure ourselves out? Anne Bogel thinks that it's the latter. In her new book Reading People, she walks the reader through several major personality typing systems, and doesn't just give us the information on them--she shows us how knowing ourselves, through the lenses of these systems, can help us live better lives. 

Anne discusses some of the main personality tests/divisions, starting with whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert (but you're never 100% one--everyone has qualities of both), or a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP--I'm not, at all). From there, she discusses other major personality systems and theories. While Anne writes about all of these in an accessible, conversational style, I thought I'd walk you through the systems and types she discusses and share insights I gained from reading: 

  • As I said above, I'm an ESTJ. I am an extrovert (E),which means I seek out stimulation, and I'm focused on the world around me, as opposed to being focused mostly inside my head. I, and all extroverts, actually think faster than introverts, because the neurological pathways in my brain are shorter. So if you hang around me long enough you'll probably hear me say, "No, we've moved on" or "keep up" (and this also relates to something else I discovered as I read Anne's book, but that we'll talk about in a second). Anne gives an example of a friend wanting to discuss an evening out after it's happened, and that is so me. I love to talk about movies, theater, etc. right after the event is over, and it probably explains why I'm so wired after a performance. I need to talk about it! It's a lot more than just preferring quite over noise, and I'm not a pure extrovert (because no one is a purse intro/extrovert)--in church, I find it excruciating, and highly irritating, when we have to "meet and greet" at the beginning of some Masses. I hate that stuff! 
  •  Highly Sensitive People. I am not a highly sensitive person. Sensitive, in this case, meaning sensitive to noises, emotions, tactile feelings, violence in television/movies/books, etc. (It's not that I don't have feelings!) One thing I found interesting here is that HSP are very affected by caffeine, which I am not; I can have a cup of coffee and then go right to bed. I don't mind loud noises, I can watch the news without freaking out about all the evil in the world (although I will get annoyed at the levels of stupidity I see), and I am definitely not very sensitive to pain. (I couldn't be, with the life I've had. I'd be a bawling, incoherent mess!)  
  • Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages: There are five love languages: Quality Time, Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Service, and Physical Touch. You can take a quiz (link at the bottom oft he post) to determine how you rank. My top two are  Quality Time (9) and Gifts (6). If you're around me, you'll notice I get annoyed when people text or look at their phones if I'm trying to talk to them: because this violates the rule of Quality Time. Now, that doesn't mean that if we're in a room together, I will FREAK OUT if you check a score on your phone, but if I'm having one-on-one time with someone, I want the person to be engaged with us, or it's not Quality Time. It's just time in the same space together, and then, why aren't I reading? :-P This is also why, since my hearing loss, I prefer smaller gatherings of people to large, big ones. It's not that I don't love all my friends--I do! But I can't follow the conversation as easily when it's multiple people, so I just get all annoyed. 
    "Gifts" does not mean what you think it means. It doesn't mean that I want actual pricey gifts all the time or I don't believe you love me! Dad made me really happy when, during our last vacation, he brought me back some shells from the beach that he'd gathered during his walk. That was a fabulous gift. My mom sends me a real birthday card in the mail every year, which is big for me. I love receiving that card. (My sister, on the other hand, doesn't rank gifts very highly at all--which is hard for me, because I like to get people gifts for their birthdays!)  
  • Keirsey's Temperaments: This is very similar, and connected, to the Meyers-Briggs Personality type, but it's less specific. Keirsey is focused on what we say, and what we do: how we use words, and how we use tools, a tool being anything that "can be used to affect action." There are four types, in his system: Artist, Guardian, Idealist, Rational. I'm a Guardian, which is the largest segment of the population. I am "sensible and judicious...reliable, dependable, and consistent." I love my routines and habits, and when I don't have routines, I tend to get flustered and unproductive. Nearly half the US Presidents have been guardians. If you've seen Mary Poppins you might remember Mr. Banks' song, "The Life I Lead": "My slippers, sherry, and pipe are due/ at six-oh-two/ consistent is the life I lead!" 
  • Meyers-Briggs: I'm an ESTJ, which we'll talk about in a second. 
  • Clifton StrengthsFinder: You have to pay for this test, so I haven't taken it, but the link is at the bottom of the post, anyway. From Anne's descriptions, it sounds really interesting. The idea is that you are only good at certain things: focus on what you do best, and do things that play to your strengths. 
  • And finally, the enneagram, which Anne calls the "negative system": this is the one that will most likely show you the dark sides of your personality, the things you mess up. 

But the two sections I found the most useful were the ones on the Meyers-Briggs types and cognitive stacks. MIND CHANGING! 

I'm an ESTJ, which means I'm Extroverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging. What does that mean in English?

It means that I like to be around people; that I take in information via observable facts; that my decision making is logical, analytical, consistent, impartial, and task-oriented; and that I prefer to have decisions settled, and I feel better once a decision is made. "Judging" in this case means I prefer to have decision making behind me. I don't take forever to make a decision. This was evident when I was considering whether or not to be listed for a lung transplant. Once I knew that I needed to have it (and that's a key point: once I had come to that conclusion myself) I knew that the logical thing was to start to work on getting listed. Decision made! I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the pros and cons of transplant, because to me, the pros and cons were easy: without it, I'd die. With it, I might not. Easy decision! 

I like things to be systemic, and I like them methodical. I do get a sense of joy from crossing things off my list.  

I'm Minerva McGonagall: she's an excellent example of an ESTJ. She didn't give Harry and Ron any leeway when they were late for her class on the first day of classes; she has high expectations for her students; but she also has a rarely-seen soft spot for them, like when she offered Harry a biscuit in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, or when she tells Harry that it's good to see him before the Battle of Hogwarts. 

Now, the thing that was really mind changing for me was the idea of cognitive functions. This is different ways our minds are capable of working, and this really spoke to me. Because as an ESTJ, or a Guardian, one of the things I've always thought was wrong for me was the idea that we're not really warm people. I am quite warm--with people I know. I may be logical, but I'm not Spock or Sheldon Cooper. I have compassion, to an extent. I'm blunt, but only when I absolutely have to be. The rest of the time I'm like my namesake, Auntie Em: "For twenty-three years I've been dying to tell you what I thought of you. And now, being a good Christian woman, I can't say it!" (Or McGonagall's, "Oh, there are several things I would like to say!") 

 So am I not an ESTJ? 

Well, no, I am. But I have other functions too. Anne explains there are four levels in the cognitive stack: The dominant, the auxiliary, the tertiary, and the inferior. The dominant is the way you act, instinctively. The auxiliary can be the way you've learned to act, or requires conscious thought. It's the co-pilot. The tertiary and the inferior come into play, but they can be easily shadowed or not expressed. 

So for me, it works like this: 

Dominant I think in black and white: there are clearly defined boundaries, clearly defined "good" and "bad" in my world. I like to be in charge. My boundaries are solid. I don't mind confrontation (especially if it has to do with deeply held principles). And what I consider "confrontation" may not be what you consider "confrontation." 

A funny story to illustrate this: at one point, my siblings and I were having lunch with my co-workers. At the end of the lunch, one of my co-workers said to me, "Are you guys like that all the time?" Meaning, that...overwhelming, loud, and combative?  "Yes," I said. It's no coincidence that my little sister used to declare it was "[her] turn to talk" at the dinner table. The three of us have different personality types, but we are all strong personalities. We sound like we're yelling at each other, when really, we're just talking. 

Auxiliary I store data and information about people. I will know your birthday, your anniversary, your kids' names and quite possibly their birthdays, and your pets. (My mom is crazy good in this department. My brother has a crazy ability to remember what year movies came out.) I respect tradition and like things to be organized and structured, even just loosely. When I taught CCD classes the content of the lesson was less scripted than how the lesson would go. First, this. Then, that. (That doesn't mean that my environment  is organized--to the untrained eye, it's not. But I know where everything is. My books are highly, highly organized, as are my CDs and my DVDs). I can get nostalgic. 

Tertiary I call this my "web thinking" or "Wikipedia diving", or, more quickly, "RABBIT!" Remember "try to keep up"? This is that in action. I synthesize ideas, make quick connections, and will comment on it even if no one else sees it. This also has to do with my reading list. I read Gifts from the Sea on vacation, so now I'm reading the novel The Aviator's Wife, about Anne Lindberg, who wrote Gifts from the Sea. I'm reading Troubling A Star, about a trip to Antartica, so last night I was on wikipedia, looking up stuff about Antartica, and then searching for Antarctic cruises (not that I'd ever take one, but...). I can wikipedia dive for hours, clicking on links in articles that can lead me far away from what my original search term was. 

Inferior I actually use this one a lot--I could almost swap my auxiliar and inferior, sometimes. I have a strong sense of right and wrong, which is part of the Dominant, above. I'm creative, I feel things deeply, but I don't always express it--either because I think I can't, or I just don't feel comfortable doing so. It's like when Marianne says to Elinor, "Elinor, where is your heart?" Elinor certainly has a heart, but she's not Marianne. She doesn't feel she's a liberty to share it. 

All four of these work together to make my personality what it is. And the thing is--it's great that I know this, because I'm not just "being difficult" when I don't like the meet and greet before Mass, or when it drives me nuts that people say "let's get together on Saturday" and then it's Thursday and no plans have been made for Saturday. But there's the other side, too, because as Anne reminds us, the world isn't always as we want it. So there's coping--knowing that your spouse, or your best friend, also has her personality, and that they really aren't doing things just to annoy you. How can you reconcile your needs with the other person's needs, or actions? It's a fine line. 

Anne's book makes what can be a very dry, academic subject interesting and lively, and I'm sure I'll be diving back into it often, since I love this kind of stuff. I highly recommend it! If this sounds like your thing, you can pre-order here. And if you do it by September 19 (next Tuesday!), you get lots of free goodies! 

So now that I've shared all my personality things with you, it's your turn. What personality test is your favorite? What's your love language? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Share in the comments!

Every comment will be entered to WIN a copy of Reading People!  You can get an additional entry by subscribing to the blog. The contest will run for a week, and I'll announce the winner on September 20!




HSP test

The Five Love Languages

Keirsey Test

Clifton StrengthsFinder

Enneagram test (one of many you can find online) 


What I read on vacation (and a new book preview!)

booksEmily DeArdoComment

I always read a lot on vacation, especially beach vacations. This year was no exception! So for the bibliophiles among us, here's my reading round-up. Books I bought will be noted, and where I got them! 

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The Three Year Swim Club: bought at Duck's Cottage. This book tells the story of Maui's sugar ditch kids--kids whose parents worked on the large sugar plantations and who learned to swim in, yes, ditches. Thanks to the work of an incredibly motivated teacher, these kids formed the Three Year Swim Club, with the goal of qualifying for the 1940 Olympics. A well-written, well-paced and engrossing story for anyone who likes nonfiction/sportswriting. 

Gift from the Sea: I read this years and years ago, and then forgot about it. When I was packing I thought it would make a good devotional, so I tossed it in. I was so right. If you haven't read this little book, please pick it up. It's easy to read, the chapters are incredibly relevant, and it's great devotional reading. So many ideas were sparked by reading Anne Lindberg's words. 

Pride and Prejudice: The more I read this, the more I realize what a true masterpiece it is. It is tightly plotted--nothing is wasted--the story moves so quickly, but the development is true. Jane knew what she was about when she wrote this one. 

Mediterranean Summer: This was one of the first books I bought during my first ever Duck's Cottage trip in 2008, and I love it. I read it twice on this trip! It tells the story of a traveling American chef's summer as the chef of a private Italian yacht. There's food stories, storms at sea, a crazy boat party or two, and the difference between pate and foie gras is explained. (Or not.) And there are recipes! 

The Whole World Over: This and I See You Everywhere are a my favorite Julia Glass novels. This one was one of the first 9/11 novels, but it doesn't feel contrived. It's just great writing, with characters that you think about long after the book is over. 

The Lake House: The second book I bought at Duck's Cottage. This is Kate Morton's newest, fresh in paperback. If you've read her others (like The Forgotten Garden) you know there's usually a strong mystery component. Well, this book kicks it up by actually making it a detective story--as in, detectives are involved! I was completely engrossed, and this is up there with Garden in my estimation. A great vacation read. 

The Cloister WalkOne of my old Kathleen Norrises. Good for devotional reading and quick dipping in and out--the chapters are various essays, some one page, some multiple, but almost all of them are good reading. 

If The Creek Don't Rise: Third from Duck's Cottage. This was....Ok. It had potential that wasn't reached. It's supposed to be the story of Sadie Blue, an Appalachia girl who is stuck in an abusive marriage who wants to learn to read and befriends various people in her community. But it ends up being almost a compilation of short stories and character sketches that add up to few concrete endings and lots of loose ends. Meh. 

The Beach House Cookbook: I picked this up at the Island Bookstore in Corolla. I love a good cookbook, and this one is all about beachy recipes--fun, beach house inspired, but simple, from author Mary Kay Andrews. I'm trying out several of the recipes this week! 

Faithful: Also from the Island Bookstore, except the Duck location. I've been wanting to read this new Alice Hoffman novel for awhile, but was determined to wait for the paperback. Glad I did, but also sad because this was a good book! It's about Shelby, a girl who was in a car accident with her best friend--Shelby survives without a scratch, but her friend is in a coma for the rest of her life. The novel deals with grief, creating a different life for yourself than you imagined, and family relationships. It's a winner. 

War and Peace: Also Island Bookstore, Duck. I know, I know. Beach read? Hardly! But I've been wanting to give it another go in a different translation, and this one seems palatable. 

Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Louisa Adams: Duck's Cottage. I've been wanting to know more about our first ladies, and this biography jumped out at me. Started this one yesterday.

Eat Pretty Every Day: 365 tips for better health. Sounds good to me! In Duck's Cottage there was a display that said "September is the new January", and this book was one of the displayed titles. So, go display creator, you got me to buy it. :) 

And now....a new book preview!

reading people cover.png

I'm on the launch team for Anne Bogel's (Modern Mrs. Darcy) new book, Reading People. It's right up my alley--all about personality types, tools for figuring out your personality type, and how to live with others, based on their personality type. If you liked Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before, I think you'll really like this book. I'll be talking more about it next week, so stay tuned! If this sounds like something you'd enjoy, pre-order and get bonus stuff!  Yay free!  You have to pre-order before September 19th, so move it! 

What good books have you read lately? 




Saturday Miscellany

books, behind the scenes, current projects, Jeopardy, knitting, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Normally, as you know, I don't do a blog post on Saturdays, but I had a stomach bug on Friday, which derailed my plans to do one then, so, here we are: Saturday! (Stomach's fine now.)

First, the winner of the Cultivate Book: Cristina! Yay! I'll get this book out to you in the next week!

Second: Next week marks a year since my appearance on Jeopardy!, which you can read all about here. The Tour de France, people! :-P (If you don't get that, read the posts....or try to find my episode online. I wish Jeopardy re-runs ran around here....)

Third: Take a look at this!


I'm kind of a fan. Do you like it? Let me know! I took the photo at the Franciscans of the Holy Land Monastery in D.C. a few years ago and I thought it was a good choice for the cover. 

And finally, in the knitting area: here's the second Christmas gift in progress. 

Yes, it's the same pattern as the first scarf. But man, I love this yarn too! This is called Sugar Cookie--same yarn as the last one, too. 

So, that's my miscellany for this Saturday! Hope you have a great weekend! 

Giveaway: A copy of "Cultivate"!

books, goal setting, give aways, transplantEmily DeArdo6 Comments

In honor of my twelve year transplant anniversary, which is tomorrow (holy cow, that sounds amazing to write--incredible to believe), I'm giving away a copy of Lara Casey's new book, Cultivate, which you've all heard me babble on about for months now. It's so good, folks. I'm so excited to share it with you! 

(You can read my review here, and my preview here)

What do you want to cultivate in your life? Share it in the comments! It can be anything, big or small! 

What I Read In June

booksEmily DeArdo2 Comments

A sample of what I read in the past month. Read all the way to the bottom for giveaway news!


June was, surprisingly, light on the books. I read twenty-three, fourteen of them new, so that's something. Here's some of the ones I liked the best. 

A Man Called Ove. I know I'm late to the party on this one, but I really liked it. It was so sweet, much like My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You I'm Sorry. I read his books in the wrong order. His newest one, Beartown, is what I read first--and it's very different from his previous books. But I liked it because HOCKEY.

Carve The Mark. The latest from Divergent author Veronica Roth, this book has been on my to-read list since it came out in January, but I finally picked it up when I saw it was 20% off at Target. So, win. This is a very good start to another trilogy, one that I hope doesn't disappoint me like the Divergent one did.  It's hard to describe, but it's good. Trust me. 

Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow. Yes, the bio that inspired the musical. I'm using the word "inspired" here loosely, because the musical plays fast and loose with a LOT of history (and no, not just the basics, like Thomas Jefferson et al. being black rappers). In fact, the more I read, the more annoyed I got at the musical...but all that aside, the biography is well-written and I encourage people to read it. Hamilton really does deserve to be better known. 

The Seeds of America trilogy: Chains, Forgeand Ashesby Laurie Halse Anderson. The story of the Revolutionary War from two teenage slaves' points of view. Amazingly well-researched, wonderfully written, and totally engaging, they're definite must reads for anyone who loves American history, in particular the Revolutionary War/ Colonial period. 

Isabel is a slave in Rhode Island who was bought by new masters and serves in a house of Loyalists in New York City in 1775. She and her sister are brutally separated by the mistress of the house, who sends her south. Will Isabel ever find her sister again? 

Also in New York, Isabel meets Curzon, who works for a patriot household. He tries to involve Isabel in the fight for independence, but she wants no part of it. The two become fast friends, and their relationship is what makes up the rest of the trilogy. 

And to celebrate my transplant anniversary, I'm giving away a copy of Cultivate! Yayyyyy! Giveaway will run all week next week, with the winner being announced next week. I'm so excited to share this book with y'all! Come back on Monday to get the details!


Yarn Along No. 60

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdoComment

I'm working on a few projects at a time here, which I've never done before, so it's interesting. I've decided that, while I'm making Christmas gifts, "my" knitting (i.e., projects for me) will be done on Sundays/holidays, while the Christmas gifts get first priority. This has worked out pretty well so far, because I'm almost done with the first Christmas scarf. 

The Supermoon Kerchief is coming along nicely, though. I figure I'm about to the halfway point. 

The second Christmas scarf is the same pattern, just a different colorway. And after that, I have a dilemma. I have an idea for a gift, but I've never done the pattern before. It's really simple--just stockinette stitch with slipped stitches at the beginning of each row (A slipped stitch means you just move it from needle to needle, without actually knitting it). But I'm loathe to dive into a gift knit without having tested the pattern first, so to speak, by making one for me. Dilemma time. It's big--the same size as the Supermoon Kerchief--but it's easy, so I figure once I start it, it won't take long. Right now I'm planning the "test knit" to be my vacation project. 

Quince and Co. Sparrow yarn in Truffle, for the "test knit". 

Quince and Co. Sparrow yarn in Truffle, for the "test knit". 

As far as books, you can see them above: Mansfield Park, as part of the great Jane Re-Read, and then The Vengeance of Mothers, the sequel to One Thousand White Women. This book isn't actually out yet--I won an advance reader copy in a Goodreads Giveaway. Love me some free books. :) So that one came in the mail on Monday, and I've started reading it. I read One Thousand White Women awhile ago, so that's made the beginning of this book so of difficult, as I try (in vain) to remember what happened in that one. (I'll have a better review of this one once I'm done with it.) 

So that's the state of the yarn the day after Independence Day. 



Book Review: Lara Casey's Cultivate

booksEmily DeArdoComment

I know that if you follow me on social media--particularly Instagram--you've seen me almost jumping up and down with excitement about this book. :) And let me tell you, it's merited. 

Lara Casey's first book, Make It Happen was a big step forward for me. After I left my job and began freelancing, I was sort of stuck. I had lots of dreams, but how do I make those reality? Make It Happen helped me, especially in conjunction with Lara's Powersheets--and without it, I never would have written a completed draft of my memoir, never mind started soliciting agents. I've made things happen because of Lara and her book. 

So with Cultivate, I was wondering how the story would be different. How many times can you talk about goal setting, after all? 

This book isn't about goal setting, really. It's about living a cultivate life--a rich life, one that's full of things that matter, and doing the things that God created you to do. That's so different than just checking things off an arbitrary to-do list. Lara talks to her readers from the heart, addressing several big lies--and I've believed some of these! They include: 

  • I have to do it all. 
  • I have to be perfect. 
  • I can't start fresh. 
  • Small steps don't make a difference. 
  • I have to know all the details of the plan ahead

and five more. These make up the chapters of the book. 

Do you recognize yourself in any of these? I sure do. 

In Cultivate, Lara  shares with us how to cultivate a rich, meaningful life--right here, where we are, with what we have. She doesn't ask us to fly to Indonesia and enter an ashram, or run off to some spa in the Berkshires. She asks us to cultivate our lives right where we are

"But I'm afraid to get messy," you might say. "If I start thinking about these things, it'll be stressful and hard and I don't want to do that. Better just to play it safe." 


Don't you want that fullest life? I sure do. And with my twelfth transplant anniversary coming up next Tuesday, let me tell you: It's no fun to play it safe. It's no fun to wonder. We are made to do . We are made to live

Lara's books and products have helped me live life big, and Cultivate is the perfect answer to all of us who feel rushed, defeated, unsure...Trust that God is always with us, always loves us, and always has a better plan. 

In the wait, cultivate, Lara says. And it's true. I'm terrible at waiting. I suck at it, to be honest. You would think, having been on a waiting list in order to survive, I'd be OK with waiting for anything else, but not really. 

Lara's message of growing in the wait is a powerful one for me. I want everything right now! I wanted it yesterday! I want it all to be perfect, now! I don't want to wait. 

But in the waiting, God might be doing amazing things that we can't see just yet. 

This book isn't just a book you read--there's a study guide in the back, for sharing with friends; there are journaling prompts and questions. It's a book to really internalize and dialogue with, and ponder and pray with. It's a tool, like a garden spade or a rake. 

Give yourself the gift of a cultivated life. I promise you, you will not regret it. 

Seven Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes, books, politicsEmily DeArdo1 Comment


I haven't done one of these in awhile, but I thought, since I had a lot of linkage to share, I'd bring it back! :) 


If you follow me on Instagram, you know I've been so excited about the launch of Lara Casey's Cultivate book! I'm so excited, in fact, that I'll be giving away a copy next month! So watch for details! Here is my preview of the book (my real review goes up soon!).  If you can't wait for the giveaway, you can get your copy on Amazon here or at your local bookstore!



Since we're talking Health Care (again), I thought I'd share some links on a series I wrote earlier this year: Parts one, two, and three. I might have something else about the Medicaid stuff next week. I know some of you enjoy my policy wonk adventures, but not all of you, so I try to keep it to a minimum. :) 

Essentially, what it comes down to is this--if we want to expand something--or even create something-- we have to make it solvent. I'm reading the Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton right now (the one that inspired Hamilton, although the more I read the book, the more I am annoyed at the liberties the musical took....), and Hamilton wrote something I found prescient: "Creation of debt should always be accompanied by the means of extinguishment." 

Or, in other words--how are we going to pay for this


As we're heading into the Fourth of July weekend, here are some of my favorite book/movie suggestions for you. They either talk about the revolutionary war, or revolve around July 4th: 

The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, and the movie, Gettysburg, which is based on the novel. 

Laurie Halse Anderson's Seeds of America trilogy: Chains, Forge, Ashes

The movie 1776 (the musical. It's great! Mr. Feeney is John Adams!) 

The miniseries John Adams, and the David McCullough bio upon which it's based. Also McCullough's 1776, which is amazing. 


Also, read the declaration, and the preamble to the Constitution: 

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

(And also realize the difference between the two--please?) 


If you love candles, but have a hard time finding a good summer scent, then you need this candle from the Laurel Mercantile Co. (It's run by Erin and Ben Napier, of HGTV's Home Town.) It is a divine floral smell that smells just like being outside in the spring and summer



Not only does it smell great, but it also burns very evenly and cleanly--both big bonuses. And, in fitting with the American theme of this post, it's made in Mississippi, so go American manufacturing! (Which was also something Alexander Hamilton supported. He wrote an entire paper on manufacturing and the sort of things he thought we should make.) 



I've been seeing a lot of "lose" vs. "loose" on the Internet this week. Y'all know the difference, right? :-p 


What I Read In May

booksEmily DeArdoComment

Sharing some of my favorite books from the past month

(this post contains affiliate links.) 

Beartownby Frederik Backman. This is the first of Backman's books I read, and I've since read two others. If you're familiar with Backman ( A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She's Sorry, Britt-Marie was Here), then this book is a departure for him--it's much more serious in tone. However, there's also his trademark wit and humor, even though the subject matter is much more serious. 

Here's the publisher's copy: 

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

The ending doesn't do what you think it will do--which is nice. 


Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner.  The story of two couples who met in their early twenties and have gone through life together, at varying levels of closeness, comes to a climax as one of the women is dying, and wants one last summer reunion. The story moves back and forth in time, showing how the couples met and how their relationships evolved, moving to the present day. Stengel is a fantastic writer with glowing prose and rich characterizations. It's not a long book, but it's a very satisfying one.


Mr. Rochester, by Sarah Shoemaker.  I didn't think I'd like this one, because of my issues with Jane Eyre.  (In short: Jane running off to the moors drives me crazy.) But I adored this book! The story tells the life of Mr. Rochester, the brooding owner of Thornfield Hall and Jane's eventual husband, from his childhood relationships with his father and older brother, to his marriage to Bertha in the West Indies, and finally to his meeting Jane. It's so well-written and well-crafted that I almost hated for it to end. I'll definitely be re-reading this soon. If you haven't read Jane Eyre, read that first. Definitely. 


The Dry, by Jane Harper. The first in a series of mysteries set in Australia, The Dry follows Aaron Falk, who returns to his childhood home after the death of Luke, his former best friend, his wife, and his young son. Aaron doesn't think Luke would have killed himself, much less his family, but how much did he really know about him? Secrets are all over the tiny town, and the severe drought that's slowly squeezing the economic lifeblood out of its residents isn't helping anyone's ability to remain calm and rational. The exotic setting and colorful characters made this a winner for me. 

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. It needs all caps. If you're a Janeite, I think you'll adore this. 

Rachel and Liam live in the future--but they're part of the Jane Austen Project, which will send them back to 1815. Their mission? To retrieve the lost manuscript of Jane Austen's The Watsons, and bring it back to the future. However--they have a finite window of time in which to do this, or they'll be stuck in 19th century London forever. The plan is to become friends with Jane, get the manuscript, and head home. 

However, their plans are foiled when Rachel and Liam manage to get deeply entangled in the Austen family's lives.  Jane's real life family, friends, and circumstances are vividly and perfectly woven into a novel that also has traces of Interstellar in its plotting. 


The Killer Angels , by Michael Shaara. If you haven't read this Pulitzer Prize winning telling of the battle of Gettysburg, you need to. Now. It's the basis for the movie Gettysburg and is told from the perspectives of various combatants, including General Lee, General Longstreet, Colonel Chamberlain, and others. A fantastic read. 

Also, if you haven't pre-ordered Cultivate, do it now! I've already read the book and I can tell you it's fantastic. Plus, pre-ordering means you get fun freebies!

What good books did you read last month? 

Memorial Day Weekend

books, Jane Austen, journalEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Memorial day weekend means a few things. Usually. 

1) Swimming--except this year, because stitches in my head. Yes. Still there. Will be there for at least another two weeks. Sigh. So anyway, no swimming, but I am greatly looking forward to the moment I can do that!

(I'm not really missing anything--the complex pool isn't open yet. Whew.) 

2) The Great Jane Re-Read Commences. Every summer, I re-read all of Jane between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This year I did it backwards, so I started with Persuasion

I knocked it out on Saturday afternoon and enjoyed every minute I spent with Anne Elliot. As I always do, because Anne Elliot is the bomb. 

Next: Emma. 

(Can I be honest? Emma drives me nuts. I really only like her starting about halfway through the book, when Mrs. Elton shows up. But I do want to go to Box Hill and have a picnic.) 

3) Time with friends and family.  

This was most of the weekend. :) 

On Friday, Mary and I went to Chuy's, because that is what we do, all the time. (Well, most of the time. But we love Chuy's. Some creamy jalapeño and some dulce de leches cake makes everything in life come into focus.) 

There's so much I love about Mary....

There's so much I love about Mary....

Chuy's art

Chuy's art

We also went to Elm and Iron, which I adore, to check out some home-y type things.

The purple rimmed candles are called "Wildflower", and totally smell like some!

The purple rimmed candles are called "Wildflower", and totally smell like some!


I managed to replay my Sperrys, which died last summer (after I wore them for about six years) when the upper became separated from the sole. I don't replace shoes until they DIE, people. I'm not a big shoe person. 

I am, however, a big rose person. I love these.  

Love these roses outside Macy's! They're so blowsy pretty. 

Love these roses outside Macy's! They're so blowsy pretty. 

I have big plans for my place this summer. Obviously funds do not allow me to do it all at once. :) But browsing is always fun and that's how I get my ideas and figure out what I'm looking for. I did manage to hit a TREMENDOUS sale at Macy's where I got half off the pillows, and then 25% off that. They basically gave the pillows away, guys! (Well, OK, not really. But seriously, 75% OFF? What crazy world is this?!)  So my bed is a nest now. And I'm so excited to just love on it.  

Caroline The Rabbit is the second oldest denzien of the Bedroom. Coach the Bear is the oldest, but he didn't want to pose. 

Caroline The Rabbit is the second oldest denzien of the Bedroom. Coach the Bear is the oldest, but he didn't want to pose. 

My bedroom doesn't get as much love as it probably should these days, since I spend most of my time on the first floor of my place. But now I've got the Great Chair in the office, so I spend more time in there, and now my bedroom is really starting to come together. 

Sunday started with some watercolor work. It's true--sometimes I love what I draw and sometimes I hate it and want to rip the page from my sketchbook. But I don't, because that would mess up the book. Sigh. Roses are hard to paint, y'all.  (And yes, I'm a midwesterner, and I say "y'all." Because why not. I also say "slippy", which is what people in the 'Burgh say for "Slippery." I think "slippy" is a much better word.) 

Sunday morning coffee in my Eat 'n Park mug, because my hockey team is in the Stanley Cup Finals! Which means my Nashville mug is verboten--because the Pens are playing the Predators (Nashville's team). I cannot drink out of the (temporary) Enemy's Mug. 

The parents and I got lunch at Marcella's, a cute Italian place, where menus speak the truth: 


And then we did some shopping. 

Then I came home and had tea, brewed with my new tea ball. 

Chocolate tea, people!

Chocolate tea, people!

Monday I played a lot of skee ball and arcade games with my parents at the bowling alley arcade, and there were hot dogs for dinner. I won a stuffed monkey! 

And hockey. Hopefully my hockey team wins. :) 


(edited. They did. In the strangest game EVER--a disallowed goal, a catfish on the ice, and no shots on goal for over half the game. But they won anyway.)