Emily M. DeArdo



Above All: A beautiful, intentional companion for Lent

books, current projects, Lent, writingEmily DeArdoComment
Photo by Allison McGinley: @alisonbenotafraid on Instagram (all photos in this post are by Allison!) 

Photo by Allison McGinley: @alisonbenotafraid on Instagram (all photos in this post are by Allison!) 

I am so, so happy to present to you the completed Lent book by all of us at Take Up and Read! Above All is our newest edition to our library (you can see all our other books here), and I am SO proud of her!

Let me tell you a little more about her. 


First of all, this is a big book. It is 338 pages of goodness that starts on Ash Wednesday and takes you all the way to Easter.  

Each day has: 

A bible verse (as well as additional verses for further contemplation);

An essay by one of our wonderful writers;

A lectio divina page, with Biblical background and research to help you understand the time period and background of the day's featured verse;

A journaling page, with questions to help you go deeper, 

And a prayer page, with a unique prayer for every day! 

There is lots of white space, too. This isn't jammed together. We want this to be a peaceful, useful book for you! There is beautiful art, as well, and calligraphy, all done by our gifted artists. 

And every week, we focus on Scripture memorization. That's long been a pillar of Take Up and Read. For this book, we're focusing on a beautiful passage from the third chapter of Colossians. 


This book was designed very intentionally. We want you to have the tools to listen well to God, to go deeper into His word, and to be transformed by what you find there. You don't have to fill in every box, and you don't have to use every tool we give you. This is your book. Use it as you see fit!

I hope that you will join us on this beautiful Lenten journey, to put truly the love of God Above All

If you used Elizabeth's Put on Love study last Lent, you will find much that is familiar here. But even then, there are new essays by our wonderful writers, new art, and new tools for you. 

And the final, and really, most wonderful, bit about this? 


All of the profits from Above All will be donated to Adore Ministries in Houston, to provide Hurricane Harvey relief. 


I very much hope that you will join us! You can purchase your book here. There will also be a button on the sidebar, so you can always come here to purchase! 

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Yarn Along No. 69

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It's going to be 50 degrees today! As opposed to last week, when I was dwelling in Hoth! Oh, Ohio weather....(Next week? Looks like it's back to Hoth...) 

Anyway, time for a yarn along!


Still working on the shawl. It's coming. I actually had to frog quite a bit of it last week but I managed to save it, and now I'm sort of frogging-shy. :) Does that make sense? (Frogging is where you rip out stuff you knitted.) But I'm planning on diving back in today.

In the mean time, I've been working on this scarf, for an ebook customer who won this scarf as part of my release week** events! Isn't it pretty? 



This week I finished Pachinko, which was one of my Christmas books. The book revolves around four generations of a Korean family that moves to Japan--the book starts in the 1930s and goes until 1990 or thereabouts. I enjoyed it--mostly--but if you're not familiar with Korean culture, you might need to Google a lot of references, especially early on. 

**Speaking of the book (my book, that is!): If you haven't ordered it, you can do it right here. It's $9.50, but if you're a site subscriber, you have a code for 15% off! You can read all about the book here, but a few notes: isn't not something you have to read straight through. You can jump around to the sections you want to read. It has several new pieces that I didn't feature in the original blog series, and it's illustrated! (Not lavishly. But there are pictures.) I'll be writing another post that goes into more detail soon. 

(Note: There is WAYYY more than 80 pages of content. It's almost 200 pages! So I need to correct that!)

Yarn Along No. 68: Knitting to keep warm!

books, knitting, yarn alongEmily DeArdo11 Comments

I don't live in Ohio anymore. I live on the planet Hoth. :-P As I write this, it is -1 for the real, actual temperature. It feels like -16. Yeah. No thank you.  

(And yes, this is an old graphic, but I thought it was worth sharing because it amuses me.) 

So I am knitting to keep warm! And then reading, under mounds of blankets, also to keep warm. A good set of conditions for a Yarn Along. 

First up: some completed/almost completed scarves from Barton Cottage Crafts:

"Marianne" scarf 

"Marianne" scarf 

"Brianna" scarf 

"Brianna" scarf 

My big personal project is the drachenfels shawl. I am really liking working this pattern. It's not hard, once you get used to it, because the pattern doesn't appreciably change over the extent of the shawl. 


I'm using Quince and Co. Chickadee in iceland, bird's egg, and fjord. The needles I'm using are Knit Picks harmony interchangeables. 


Above, you can see how far I've gotten. Ignore the wobbly end bits that need woven in and tightened up! For the first part of the shawl, you do many repeats with color one (Iceland) and do a few rows of color two (bird's egg). I'm almost done with this first section. Then we get into using all three colors! Exciting. I won't exactly be sad to see the Iceland go. 

The book is one of many I'm currently reading. One of my goals for the year is to have a simplified, comfortable, cozy house, and Emily Ley's A Simplified Life is helping me do that. All the sticky notes are pages that have lists or ideas I want to accomplish/incorporate. I did a huge closet clean out last year and book purge, so that's really helpful, but if there's anything else I want to get rid of, this is the time! 

What are you knitting/ reading? 


Site notes: Catholic 101 is now available, and it's also listed on Goodreads! So you can leave a review if you've read it! If you haven't read it, you can pick up your copy here. Blog subscribers get 15% off! 



Yarn Along No. 66: SCARF FOR SALE!

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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. 

Screen Shot 2017-11-20 at 10.40.18 AM.png

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! 

Vacation book collage.jpg

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.