Emily M. DeArdo



An Old School Easter Daybook

Daybook, hockey, Orchard House, the book, travel, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Remember how we used to do these all the time? Bringing it back. :) At least for this week.

“Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb”, Fra Angelico

“Resurrection of Christ and Women at the Tomb”, Fra Angelico

Outside my window:

The tree outside my porch. Isn’t she pretty?

The tree outside my porch. Isn’t she pretty?


Jeans and a navy blue and white stripped shirt that I’ve had forever and probably need to stop wearing outside the house, LOL.


I’m on a Laura Ingalls Wilder kick so I’m re-reading the series; I’m on By The Shores of Silver Lake. I’m also reading The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and I’ve got Cranford in my bag for the trip I’m taking this week.

Plans for the week:

I’m going to visit my sister in Denver for her bachelorette party! Yay! So that’ll be fun. I’ve never been to Colorado.


Easter! It’s an octave, so that means that it’s EIGHT DAYS OF EASTER. So be sure to keep celebrating! The Easter season is actually fifty days long, culminating in Pentecost. So get your celebration on. We fast and abstain and do penance for forty days of Lent, but then we have fun for fifty days! So have fun!

(But don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.)

If you normally give up meat on Friday, you don’t have to this coming Friday, because of the Easter octave. Yay! Woo woo!

I don’t pray the Glorious mysteries at all during Lent, but for the next seven days they’ll be all I pray when I say my rosary. Gotta fill up on the good stuff.

Around the house:

I’m putting up some wall art over at Orchard House. My couch has STILL not arrived and that’s holding up a lot of the art work because I want to see what works when the couch is here. But I have up two Rose Harrington prints in my office:


Aren’t they pretty?

Speaking of the office….


I’m doing pretty well on the book! I’m really excited about this. I’m almost 2/3 of the way done! Some of the chapters have been pretty substantially re-written from my first draft, but that’s ok because now they’re better. My editor is great. (She’s also patient, which is nice. Sometimes I get all rabbity in my thinking, meaning I’m all over the place. She helps. :) ) I want to have a draft of chapter 10 (Jesus is Stripped of His Garments) before I leave on Wednesday.

Listening to:

The “hallelujah!” chorus from Messiah and the studio cast recording of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (not the Disney movie. The musical that’s derived from the Disney movie. It’s good stuff.)

Sharing Contemplation:

In the Gospel of Matthew, the women at the tomb left quickly with fear and great joy.

Fear and joy go together a lot of the time, don’t they? I got the book contract and then I had to write the thing and I’m afraid I’ll write crap. :-P You get pregnant and you want a baby, but then….labor! Right? I’d never noticed that sentence before. Fear and joy, co-existing all the time.

Getting the transplant call—-fear and joy.

Bet you can think of your own examples.

Maybe I’ll put this in the book? :)

Other good things:

BLUE JACKETS!!!! Their second-round series will be with either Boston or Toronto and will start this week (most likely). That series is going to game seven, so whoever will play will be tired, to say the least—but the Jackets can’t let up. Hope they don’t! Very excited about this series!

A Little Catholic 101 on Easter and Pentecost

And I’ve started a monthly newsletter-y thingy JUST for blog subscribers. They will find out all the book news first, they get special behind-the-scenes glances of things, I might even do book giveaways, WHO KNOWS. Anyway, you don’t want to miss this, so SIGN UP.

Please and thank you!

A Little Daybook

Daybook, journalEmily DeArdoComment

I used to write a daybook entry every Monday, sort of like a diary, a look into my life on that particular day. I've gotten out of the habit, but every now and then I think it's a nice way to start the week. So a few things from around here, books, and some inspiration for your Monday? 

That image up top:: Ann always has great things to share with us. I find that at the beginning of the year, when we have so many expectations about how this year is going to be (X, Y, Z), we can get overwhelmed really fast. You miss a day of working out once....or you have the cookie....or whatever your resolution was, you break it. 

That's OK. Just pick yourself up and move forward. 

Speaking of great images, this might be my new favorite Marian image--"Madonna of the Rose Bower", by Stefan Locher

madonna of the rose bower.jpg

You can read about the painting here

(I love that Mary's a redhead!)

One of the great productivity things I found last week:: Pomodoros. Have you heard about this? The link gives you more information, but essentially, you perform a task for 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break. You do this four times in a row--after the fourth pomodoro, you take a 25-30 minute break. Then you're back at it. I've found this amazingly helpful in both organizing my days and in getting things accomplished. And it gives you free time! 

I don't use the actual timer--I use a plain old kitchen timer, or the timer on my watch. 

The other great thing is that, if you're getting calls or email, you know that you'll get to them during your "break" period. 


I re-read a lot. I know some people don't. But I do. So this week has been a lot of re-reading of the Lord John series, by Diana Gabaldon. If you're familiar with the main Outlander series, you know about Lord John already, but Diana has given him his own spin-off series of novels and novellas. So I've re-read Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and now I'm on Scottish Prisoner. As far as new books, I'm reading Pachinko, which is really good so far. 

On the calendar this week::

ENT appointment tomorrow, which is good because my Bionic Ear has been bothering me. And it's not the external part, it's the internal part--i.e., that part in my skull--that's been bugging me the most. It's been really painful lately, and I'm not sure why, so I'm definitely going to ask my Awesome ENT about this tomorrow. 

So, that's a little, brief daybook for you. How was your weekend? 

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

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Outside my window::

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing Updates:

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

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

From the kitchen::

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

Plans for the week:

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




Daybook No. 122: Christmastide

Daybook, books, family, holidaysEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window:: 

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


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


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

Christmas notes::

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

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

The Nativity scene at my parish. 

The Nativity scene at my parish. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Around the House::

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

Living the Liturgy::

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


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

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


Go immerse yourself in some joy today. :) 



Daybook No. 121: Fourth week of Advent

Daybook, books, current projects, writingEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

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


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


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

In the CD player::

The Christmas music playlist, obviously. 

Listening to :

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

Living the Liturgy:

Current projects: 

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

From the kitchen: 

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

Plans for the week: 

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

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






Daybook No. 120: Our Lady of Guadalupe

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

The Our Lady of Guadalupe mural at the National Basilica 

Outside my window::

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

I'm wearing::

leggings and a blue t-shirt

In the CD player::

the Christmas playlist. 

Listening to::

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


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

Living the Liturgy::

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Around the house::

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

Fitness and Creativity::

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

Fun Links:: 

A Christmas song for you!


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


Daybook No 118

DaybookEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

it was really sunny and blue skied earlier, but now it's clouded up. Might rain later? 


Jeans and a Boden striped top. I love these things. 

In the CD player:

Audrey Assad's Inheritance.


Chicken piccata with herbed basmati rice. There's not a lot of cooking going on this week since I'm leaving on Saturday for LA. I'm basically trying to use up all the perishables. 

On my mind::

LA. Packing, the taping, packing, driving a car around LA......all sorts of things. I'm working on iTunes playlists for the flight and books. It's a seven hour flight--the longest I've ever been on. So that's sort of exciting but also--gotta make sure I've got my reading material ready. I can't bring too many hard copy books because my suitcase is going to be pretty full, what with the clothes I need for taping and then the clothes I Need for a week in LA, plus things for the beach and Disneyland (and all that). I'm generally a pretty minimalistic packer--I can do a 3 day trip with just my Vera Bradley Large Duffel bag and my backpack. But this time it's proving sort of challenging. When you're going to be on TV in front of the entire country, it can inspire the Overpacking Tendency! I'm trying to rebel against that 


The Contemplative Hunger, Little House in the Big Woods (because why not), and my LA/SoCal travel books .


I have gone to TWO Barre3 classes! My first one was last Thursday, and I was very sore for the next day or two.  My second was yesterday and that was a lot better--I mean, it was still hard, but I can walk today. :) I have my third class on Thursday. There is a Barre3 studio in Santa Barbara, where we're planning on taking a day trip, but I think I'll just "be on vacation"--and I'm sure to get enough physical activity in during this next week. The great thing about this workout is the modifications. I can't hold a regular plank for two minutes--but I can if I'm doing it at the barre instead of on the floor. (The skin graft on the wrist really cut down on the flexibility and strength in my hand and wrist area.) Modifications are awesome, as the instructor said yesterday--and I'm not the only one who takes them. Even better. 

I have to fight against the tendency I have to not want to do things I'm not good at. Math is a prime example of this. I'm terrible at math. But Dad would tell me there were some areas, like algebra, where I really wasn't bad. Part of it was I just didn't want to learn--and the other part is, my brain doesn't work that way. But in this case, I have to realize that anyone who starts anything is not perfect in the beginning. It's that way with sports, art, writing, music--whatever. So I'm trying to be nicer to myself instead of demanding PERFECTION immediately. 

Potential Travel Ideas: 

This is what we've worked out so far: 

Sunday: Mass, the Getty, LA Farmers' Market

Monday: Hollywood 

Wednesday: Disneyland!

Friday: Santa Barbara Day Trip

I'm so excited to be going, and the weather looks perfect--low 70s. No jacket, no sweating like crazy. Win!


I think I've reached the end of revisions on my 2014 NaNo novel. Now I have to go back and put a solid ending on my 2015 NaNo novel. And fill in parts of the 2013 NaNo novel. 
And I'm still shopping the memoir manuscript. So, I'm not lacking for things to write, over here!


Have you been to LA/SoCal? Any places we shouldn't miss? 

What do you pack in your carryon when you fly? 

Daybook No. 117--Birthday week!

Daybook, booksEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Sunny! Bright! Yay! 

In the CD player::

Audrey Assad's various CDs


I finished At Home in Mitford last night, and I liked it, notwithstanding the incorrect stuff about transplants (no, an organ cannot come form anywhere in the world......we aren't that speedy yet!). I've started The Light In the Window (the second one in the series). For church reading, I've started The Contemplative Hunger, and I'm already underlining bunches of things, so that's a good sign. 


The dishwasher clank and churn. 


jeans, a scoopneck long-sleeved t-shirt. Nothing exciting. It's still cold here, which isn't a surprise to me; the day I was born, Columbus had a blizzard. So really, April can either be really hot, or really cold, or wildly swing between two extremes in the course of a few hours!

Around the house::

Just the general stuff, but the tail end of spring cleaning, too--the fridge and freezer. Whee!


Birthdays. I love birthdays. I always have--and not just mine. I like getting older. I mean, I might not like all the gray hairs I find, but even those, I enjoy because I'm around to have them--and then I pull them out. 

Guys, really, birthdays are awesome. You should like them, and celebrate them. 

this week's kitchen table flowers

this week's kitchen table flowers

From the kitchen:

I made this for dinner last night. It's amazing. I use mild cheddar and totally add the goat cheese at the end. It makes the soup so much better. Yeah, it's April, but it's still soup weather--see above!

For the rest of this week:

Curry with applies


Shrimp in some incarnation. 

Out on Saturday for my birthday. :) (Saturday is my actual birthday)

Also, Saturday is......OUTLANDER DAY!!!!!! It's back! Season 2, huzzah! A most excellent birthday gift. 

(If you haven't read Outlander yet.....do it. Really. It's good!) 


For California. There's a lot of logistical details still to be decided, including the ever-important questions of "What will I wear?!" and "How many books can I pack?!" 

Clothes? What are these  clothes  you speak of? 

Clothes? What are these clothes you speak of? 

The answer to the last question is probably "not many", because I'm going to need to pack beach stuff, and walking around for long periods of time stuff, plus the Jeopardy stuff (and a garment back), and etc. Sigh. I do have an iPad but I like real books for reading by the pool and the beach. I'm sure I'll figure something out. This is a good problem to have, right? I'd much rather pack for the beach and LA than for a hospital stay!

How was your Easter and the week after? Is it Spring where you are? 






Easter Octave Daybook

DaybookEmily DeArdoComment

(been awhile since we had one of these!)

Outside my window: 

Cloudy and cold! It's only in the 40s, but it was in the 70s yesterday. It was a really beautiful Easter. 

Listening to: 

The clanking of my blinds over the heating vent. They make this odd noise that scares new people to my house but at this point I'm used to it. 


A green elbow-length sleeve top, light green, and a skirt. I thought it was going to be warmer today!


Now that the Lenten book buying fast is over...I bought two new books today. So I'm reading Life from Our Land, The Contemplative Hunger, With God In Russia (church library book)and Girl Meets God (re-read).  My birthday is in less than two weeks, so I didn't buy a ton of books, since I usually get books in abundance on my birthday. 

Good Friday at my parish. 

Good Friday at my parish. 


I'm going to be writing up my triduum notes over the next few days--sharing some good things I gleaned from the liturgies and the reading/ prayer time I had. Hopefully someone will find it enlightening or useful, but I always like to write up my triduum notes, anyway. I'm also working on a new short story, and yes, Catholic 101 will continue. As will knitting. :) Because I know you all want to see me knit something other than a washcloth. Or a scarf. 

I'm also going to be writing a piece about how sin is like a washcloth. Really. (Stick with me, here.) 

From the kitchen::

I'm really trying to crack down on what I eat and go back to making a lot more of my meals. Today I made meatloaf meatballs (basically big fat meatballs with meatloaf seasonings) and I'm waiting for them to come out of the oven, so I'll have to report back on how they taste. Later this week I'm making walleye, pork chops with Swiss Chard, and a curried chicken with apples. The last one I've made a few times and it's a definite winner. 

Around the house::

I did a lot of Spring Cleaning over Holy Week (at least, the first three days), and I'm pleased with the results so far. There are still areas that need attention, like my end tables and the Shelf of Cookbooks, so I'll be attacking those this week. 

In the CD player::

Audrey Assad's Inheritance, and the Benedictines of Ephesus CD Easter at Ephesus. 


California Trip::

Yes, it's happening at the end of April. That means I have to start thinking about Fun Things To Do and What To Pack. Yeeeeeeeehaw! 

Picture from this week::

Spring flowers for my table and tea tray. 

Spring flowers for my table and tea tray. 


How was your Holy Week/ Easter? Share in the comments! 



Daybook No. 114

Daybook, books, goal setting, Tidying Up, Sketchbook SkoolEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Outside my window::

cloudy, but I saw dandelions the other day. DANDELIONS! In December! probably because our weather has been a lot more like spring than winter, lately--we've had a few deep frosts but it hasn't snowed yet, which is weird. Normally we've had at least one snow here by December. 


Jeans and a scoop neck "dark cherry" colored top, my St. Dominic medal, and my watch. Bare feet, which is appropriate because I'm watching a movie about St. Francis as I write this. 


All the Advent books, and Communion with Chris: according to St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. I also read Rosemary, a book about the Kennedy's oldest daughter, who had intellectual disabilities, and who was lobotomized by her father in the 1940s. The book was pretty well -written (I had quibbles with the author's "explanations" of some Catholic things, but that's par for the course...), and you can't help by feel sorry for her and the rest of her family, who didn't know what had happened to Rosemary until it was done. 

Listening to:

The Hamilton CDs (again)--and some of my Advent CDs. I might have to put in Messiah for today and tomorrow, since tomorrow is the Immaculate Conception (a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics), and the first part of Messiah is perfect for this. 

Goal setting:: 

Last week I did a lot if Powesheets work--goal setting for the New Year, and I'm pleased with what I've done so far. This is always an illuminating process for me. I'm on the actual goal setting steps now and I'm working on that part pretty slowly because I want to make sure that I'm setting the right goals. 

In one of the Advent books I'm reading, Come, Lord Jesus, Mother Mary Francis talks about the "dream the Lord has of [you.]" I want my goals to reflect that dream. 



working on the Powersheets last week!

working on the Powersheets last week!

Tyding Up::

This is hard because everything is so topsy-turvy with the Christmas decorations being out, and moving things around.  But I'm hoping I'm on the last "purge" of books and DVDs, and that I can have a whole post about the process in early 2016. 


I'm on the fourth week of my Sketchbook Skool Seeing class. I have to tell you, last week was hard. We were talking about continual line drawing and I was terrible at it when I first started. But by the end, I think I managed to do some decent work: 

lemon, pear, and bottle of olive oil. 

lemon, pear, and bottle of olive oil. 

This week, it's nature drawing, with is hard because it's December and there's not a lot of "nature" around. :) But I'll try to catch some of the squirrels and draw them for this week's assignment. 

From the kitchen::

Tonight I'm trying a new Nigella recipe--a chicken "tray bake" (meaning it's baked on a tray--clever, eh? :-P), with fennel and a citrus marinade. Tomorrow I'm making stew, because YUMMMM, and it's a feast day, so winner right there! 

Plans for the week::
ENT appointment today (I actually like seeing him, he's a great doctor.) Sunday is jam packed with CCD, our catechist meeting (we have one quarterly), and our Lay Dominican meeting, where a few members will make their life promises! (I did that last December) It's always exciting when that happens. 


Daybook No. 113

Daybook, books, Catholic 101, current projects, fiction, holidays, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdoComment


Outside my window::

Grey and cloudy. This is helped by my tree, which is glowing in the corner, and the Joy candle I have lit on my counter. I don't mind rainy days and this is a good day to get things done after the holiday weekend. SO much goodness happened, which I'll be writing about below--but suffice to say, I don't mind a rainy day today!


a Pure Barre sweatshirt, Athleta workout capris, and....flats. Yeah. This outfit is AWESOME, right? :) I'm going to be working out shortly, and since I'm hanging out around the house, does it matter what I wear? Well, OK, probably. But  don't care. :) 

In the CD player::

Renee Fleming's Christmas in New York, alternating with Part I of Messiah. And yes, Adele 25 is sitting on my counter, waiting to be heard.


Cinder (again), and my crazy stack of Advent devotionals: 

Come, Lord Jesus is my FAVORITE devotional for this time of year. SO much wisdom, so much to pray about. 


NaNo is over and I'm not even going to ouch Tempest until January. It is, though, tentatively the first book of a trilogy, so I've done some note taking and brief preliminary planning about those two books. I'm not pressuring myself to write anything substantial in those for awhile, and I'm sort of afraid to until I do Tempest edits. Suffice to say I have a vague idea of the content of those books, but that's all it is right now--a vague idea.

Also working on the new Catholicism series I talked about yesterday.  While I teach first graders, don't think I'm going to use first grade vocabulary and write like you are first graders, lovely readers. We'll use "big people" words and concepts. 


Tidying Up: 

I think I have just about reached the "click point" the book talk about--where you know how much of a thing you need. and you enjoy having. There are a few more books and movies that can go (this is like the fourth round of purging in that area), but I think I'm at the point of saturation. Yay! I didn't think I'd get here when I first started, to be honest. 

The second part of the book talks about finding places for everything. This is another hard thing for me because I have things that I need (like, Duct Tape), but where does it go? (It's too big for the junk drawer, it doesn't fit in the tool box, etc.) So that's what I'll be working on next. 

Since I've decorated for Christmas, there is some chaos around here, because I have to move furniture to put up my tree. But it's all good. 



I had a great holiday. Did you? I hope you did. Thanksgiving day was in the high sixties here, so we got to hang out on the deck and enjoy the warmth before dinner!

And yes, that's my sister, who came up from Houston to surprise me! She's here until tomorrow. We've had a LOT of fun while she's been here--she helped me decorate my tree, we went to the Penguins/Jackets game with our brother, and we all (us siblings) had a great meal last night at The Barn, one of our favorite local restaurants. Since Mel lives in Texas now, I don't get to see her nearly as often as I used to, and it's always fun when she comes up! 

I also had a great day with my friend Sarah (who made that GORGEOUS wreath two photos up). We had lunch and talked on a rainy Saturday while her husband watched the OSU/Michigan game with some of our friends. She's another friend I almost never get to see, and not nearly as much as I'd like. 

What was the best part of your Thanksgiving Weekend? 



Daybook No. 109

Daybook, books, Sketchbook Skool, Tidying Up, writingEmily DeArdo4 Comments

Outside my window::

Cloudy and potentially rainy. I wouldn't mind that. Stay inside with books and tea and fireplace on? Excellent idea. 


An asymmetrical hem skirt, a blue v-neck top (Eddie Bauer), a scarf a friend made me, and my watch. I'll put on my boots for the firs time this autumn when I go out. 


A Wind In The Door (I'm re-reading Madeline L'Engle's books, and the Time Quintet is the last one in my re-read. I realize I sort of went about this out of order. I did the Austins, then Polly's books, and now Meg), Crossing the Threshold of Hope, and The Comedy of Errors for an audition on Saturday. I've never read the play before, and it's funny, but it's also got some good reflections on the nature of marriage in it. 


NaNo starts on Sunday and I've begun to think about the novel's structure and make notes about it in my notebook devoted to this. I need to have a dedicated notebook to scribble down all the names, places, and ideas I have for each piece. 

I'm also still in my "seeing" class at Sketchbook Skool. 

Tidying Up:: 

Still in the throws of the "komono" category, but I'm making progress there. I want to finish it by the end of the month so I just have the rest of this week to do it. This is a hard category because it's not so much about things that "spark joy" as much as things I use or don't use, need or don't need. But looseleaf paper? Where can I put that? In a folder? In a binder? And then hope I don't forget about it? I can probably put it in a file folder in my office, because I'll remember it's there. 

After the Komono category there's only--praise Jesus!--two things left--sentimental items and photographs. 

Around the house::

Other than Tidying Up, there's the general cleaning things. I did wash a few of the windows last week when we had lovely weather, so that they can be cleaner before winter gets here and they get all messy again. Since I'm a small person, I can't reach the top of the outside of the windows, but that's OK. 


Fall is a great time to cook because you don't have to worry about the house getting too hot! I've got a stew on the menu this week (yes, another try at a new recipe) and a tomato bisque. I'm also making one of Rachael Ray's leek-y chicken recipes, because I've got leftover leeks from the last stew recipe, and I want to use them. 

Plans for the rest of the week::

An audition on Saturday, as I talked about earlier, and CCD on Sunday--the kids are doing saint "report" this week. Basically they find a few facts about a saint we assigned them, and they come up and tell the class about it. I have an eye doctor appointment today and then dinner with my parents after that. I'm actually home this weekend--yay! Next weekend, though, I'll been in Pittsburgh for my cousin's confirmation, but that's never a bad thing. 






Daybook 108

books, Daybook, writing, drawing, Tidying UpEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

It's really gorgeous; that perfect fall blue of the sky, a little breeze, and sun. The trees are all at peak color, or will be, shortly, so driving around is a visual feast, especially on days like this, when the sky provides such a nice backdrop.


Jeans, a v-neck royal blue top, and navy flats (or at least, I had the flats on when I was running errands. Now I'm barefoot.)


Those Who Leave and Those Who StayFire Within, about St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, and Daring Greatly

In the CD player::

The 25th anniversary cast of hantom of the Opera.


NaNo starts in just under two weeks, so I'm thinking about what I want to write. I think I'm going to stick with my original idea, which is a re-telling of Carousel--sort of moving it into the 21st century, and possibly with dual narrators, although that might not work. We'll see. I've done a dually-narrated novel before, and it worked well for that piece, but I don't think it works for everything. 

I'm still taking Sketchbook Skool classes. I'm two weeks into their Seeing course, and if you're looking for a place to learn to draw/create art, I highly recommend SBS. 

Two of my latests sketches/painting/drawings

For the top one, I used pencil, pen, and watercolors; the duck is just a Uni-ball pen. (In case you want to know.)

From the Kitchen::

I've got one new recipe up this week that I'm making tonight: Fish tacos from Outlander Kitchen. Tomorrow and Thursday I'm having dinner with my mom, and Wednesday night I'm making a really quick Italian chicken recipe. I'm all for quick chicken recipes--well, quick anything recipes, right? 

Tidying Up:

Still in the komono category. I want to finish this by the end of the month, but we'll see if that happens. This is the category with all the little things in it, so it's not as straightforward as "clothes", "Books", etc. But I'm making progress. Some of the categories, like "electronics and appliances", don't really pertain to me, because I don't have any appliances I can get rid of. I rent. :) Electronics work, or they don't. If they don't work, they got thrown out a long time ago. Everything that's here, and that's electronic (my computer, my phone, my iPad, my CD player [yes, I still have a CD player], TV, etc.), is earning its keep. Also things like "Household supplies": I have what I need, and that's it. I don't have room for ten bottles of countertop cleaner, or 8 boxes of Swiffer dusting pads. 

round the house, otherwise::

Still working on the office, which was tossed about so much pre-exterminator visit, that I decided to do some deep cleaning while it was a mess, anyway. So today I vacuumed the floor, and began to put things back, like the magazine boxes that are stored next to the book shelves. I have to decide what to do with a few random books that have been stored there--do I want to keep them, or are they donate-worthy? 

Plans for the week::

An out-of-state wedding, so I have to pack for that. My month of travel continues. Fortunately, I get the following weekend "off", and then we're going to Pittsburgh for my cousin's Confirmation, which really isn't travel, in a sense. It's the easiest trip of the entire bunch! And I always love seeing my family. 




Daybook No. 107: Back from Boston

books, Daybook, drawing, memoir, Tidying Up, travelEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Outside my window::

Sunny, a few clouds. It's going to be beautiful today--in the low 70s. Yay!


jeans and a dark cherry colored elbow length t-shirt. Keeping it casual today. 


The Story of a New NameDaring Greatly, and the new Rick Riordan book, Magnus Chase--which takes place in Boston. :) If we'd stayed a few more hours I could've gone to the author's book signing! Drat! Since I did so much walking in Boston, my shins are not pleased with me--I get shin splints really easily. So today I'll be reading and putting some ice on the cranky body parts. But it's totally worth it. 

In Boston, I read Bird by Bird and Big Magic--both of which were excellent. I might have to re-read them both before NaNo kicks off. I especially enjoyed the parts that talk about publishing--and how getting rejection letters doesn't mean your work sucks! That's helpful, as I look at the following....


The Manuscript is being delivered TODAY!!!!! Eekkk! Then the three month counter kicks off. (That's about how long they say it takes for them to evaluate a manuscript.) NaNo starts next month, so I'm thinking about what I want this year's novel to be about. So far, nothing is hitting me yet, except last year's NaNo novel, that I had to abandon, because it wasn't working. I think this year I might have a way of making it work, but it may require starting from scratch, which would work for NaNo15! 



OK, so I don't want to do all Boston Palooza on you here--I'm going to spread it out over the week. So we can have Pretty Funny Happy Real Boston Edition, and then some Seven Quick Takes, Boston edition. However, I will talk about Jeopardy, here, because that's what we all care about right? :) 

Boston harbor, as seen from our hotel room 

Boston harbor, as seen from our hotel room 


The audition works like this: You go in, you get a polaroid taken, and then you are called into the audition room. In Boston, they divided us up into two groups--in NYC, we all went in as one group. You are instructed in the ways of the contestant pool--how you got picked, what's going to happen today, and what's going to happen after. We're in the contestant pool for 18 months, so until April 4, 2017. About 100,000 people take the online test, and from that, about 1000-3000 are selected for the second round of auditions. From there, 400 people are called to be contestants on the show. We were reminded many times to be loud and enthusiastic--two things I never have trouble with, ever. 

From there, we had a 50 question test--50 questions flashed on a screen, and you had eight seconds to answer each question (you wrote the answer down on a lined answer sheet). On the online test, you have 30 seconds to answer each question. After that, the tests are collected and graded, and then three people are called up at a time to play a practice round and be interviewed. The practice rounds and interviews are videotaped. 

I was in the first group called up. So we played a "round"--the game board was on a screen and we got to pick categories and everything, just like on the show, and we used the buzzers (more about those later this week, and How Crazy They Are). After that, you are interviewed, and I was interviewed second. Yes, you are interviewed in front of everyone. We were asked what we would use the money we won for, what we did, etc. Nothing really difficult--it was mostly for personality purposes. 

No, you do not find out how you did on the audition. But you just might get a random call summoning you to LA for taping. 


For today::

Happy Feast Day, St. Bruno! And since she's the Gospel reading for today: St. Martha and the Dragons.  Let's give Martha some love, guys!


Tidying Up::

The paper will be finished this week--my insurance stuff and tax materials are stored downstairs, and those have been sorted already, and are good to go. In the office are my other sorts of papers that I probably don't need and can toss. 

After paper comes the category of "Komodo", which is a Japanese term for miscellany, and in Kondo's book, it means: 

  • CDs
  • DVDs
  • Toiletries
  • makeup
  • accessories (non clothes)
  • valuables
  • electronics and appliances
  • household items and supplies 
  • kitchen goods/food
  • and Other: hobbies and such, so for me that's knitting, my music books, board games etc. 

You can see this is a BIG category and will probably take awhile. But after this there are only three more categories: Small change, sentimental items, and photos. 

I've already done the CDs, because those went with the Books to Half-Price, and I've done a lot of the DVDs, for the same reason, but I'm sure there are still some I can put in the sell/donate pile. 

This week::

Like I said, here on the blog we'll have several Boston reports, so you can look forward to that. In other news, I have a dentist appointment, the first BalletMet performance of the season (yay!), the Pirates Wild Card game against the Cubs  tomorrow, and a Lay Dominican retreat all weekend! Whew! 


Daybook No. 106--the day the manuscript is mailed!

behind the scenes, current projects, Daybook, writing, books, memoir, travel, Tidying UpEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Outside my window::

(Well, it's really Starbucks' window. It's 9:30 AM as I'm writing this and I'm being very sterotypically "writerly" by doing this at a Starbucks.)

Cloudy and windy. Only going to be in the 50s today. Well, hi, Fall.....


Jeans, pink flats with flowers on them, a long-sleeved gray t-shirt, fake diamond studs. (Big ones. Ha!)

Listening to::

Outlander Vol. 2 is in the CD player, but in here it's low talking and coffee machines humming and frothing. This Tanzania reserve I'm drinking is pretty awesome, btw. 


Guys. Today the book is getting ailed to a  publisher

Yeah. Squeal a little with me. :) 

No, they haven't already accepted it. This is my submission. It will take about three months to hear back. But it's getting mailed to a real, live publishing house. I can't even, people. 

(Actually, by the time you read this, it might already be out and on its merry way!)

How can you help me get this published? , you may be asking. 

Well, I'll tell you!

First, if you already subscribe to this site, five thousand thank you. That's a huge help. If you could follow me on other social media (the buttons are over on the right sidebar), that would also be enormously helpful. Social media follows are a huge part of my "platform", as it were, and very helpful because it indicates people who might actually, you know, read this thing when it comes out--and buy it! Not just read it. Spend money on it.  

If you do not subscribe to the site, and you followed this link from somewhere else--please subscribe? I promise I won't do anything untoward with your information, and you won't get five thousand emails from me. You'll just get notices when blog posts go up, and maybe, occasionally, newsy things. (I haven't done that yet. But I could.)

Second, send prayers/good thoughts out about it. If you pray, please pray for its success! If you don't, then just send happy thoughts out into the universe, please? 

If this publishing house doesn't take the manuscript, then there are many other places I can try. This is by no means the only place. It's just the first place. 

And thank you to everyone who supports my writing on a daily basis. I am thankful for you! (That means you, readers.) 

Also: My Second September Real Housekeeping Piece is up now! 


The books I have packed for Boston are all about creativity and writing. Noticing a theme? Right now, though, I'm reading The Book of SHEFinding God's Will For You, and The Throne of Fire. I've also got arly Warning in my pile, but it is so not speaking to me....but I don't want to give up on it, yet. I'm also reading Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan series. I finished My Brilliant Friend, which I really liked, so I'm on to book two, The Story of a New Name. There are four books, total, in the series, and the last one was just published. Thanks to Richelle for letting me know about these! 


Thinking Ahead::

After Boston, I have our Third Order Retreat the following weekend, and then  blessed weekend at home. :) The weekend after that, I have a wedding of a good friend in Indiana. Then another weekend off, then I'm going to Pittsburgh to be my cousin's confirmation sponsor. So I'm thinking about ways to enjoy all of the awesome that's coming, but also stay sane with the things that have to be done--health, fitness,keeping the house clean, eating well, all those things. So it's going to be a balancing act, but I think a useful one. I'll have to use my weekdays to recharge and focus on the "here" things. 

In other news, my Boston bag is almost packed, and I think I've decided what to wear for the audition!

Tidying Up::

So the clothes are done, done, done! The last bag of donated items went out the door today. The books are a work in progress. I keep weeding out, a bit at a time, but so far 11 bags of books, CDs and DVDs have gone to Half Price books, and a few have been donates. 

The third step is paper, and I've got the paper on the first floor corralled and dealt with. Yay! Now the goal is to hit the office, where paper just lives. It's the Paper Capital of my house. So that's on tomorrow's agenda, I think. 

After the paper, that's when Marie K. suggests hitting the DVDs and CDs, but I've already done those, since they go with the books in the "to be sold" pile. I weeded out a lot of CDs, which made me happy, so now it's down to CDs that I actually listen to. What an idea, right? 

Looking Ahead::

I leave for Boston on Saturday, and I come back on Monday. So Friday is the mania that is finishing packing and making sure all the logistics are in place. It might rain, now, when we're in Boston, so I have to come up with a Rain Sight Seeing Plan. This might involve....museums. I don't think Dad likes museums. But I do? We'll figure something out. The Freedom Trail does have some inside sights, and we can always hang out in the North End and drink coffee with our Italian brethren all day. Nothing wrong with that!




Daybook No. 105

Daybook, books, fiction, Real Housekeeping, writing, Catholicism, current events, travelEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Partly cloudy and warm. I'm ready for fall.....I've got a candle burning to helpfully spur my "fall feelings" inside. :) I am, however, wearing jeans! 


Early Warning, Middlemarch, The Mark of Athena, A Year of Pleasures

In the CD player::

Sarah McLachlan's Shine On


A dear colleague/friend of mine, Cheri Mitchell. She was the former director of BalletMet, who had just retired, and I met her during my work with the Young Professionals board. She was so dedicated to her work and the arts in Columbus, but she was also incredibly supportive in my own writing and theatrical endeavors, often leaving kind notes or comments on my Facebook page whenever I wrote about theater project or writing updates. I will miss her. 

She was hit by a car when she was out running this morning. It's so crazy to think that she woke up this morning and was fine....and now she's gone. 

I will be keeping her soul and her family in my prayers. Can I ask y'all to do the same thing? 

However, Cheri would've been pleased with this next bit....

The book, as we know, is done. And it will be mailed out tomorrow! I have to scribble out a cover letter tonight, but soon it will be on its way to San Francisco....and then I wait!

My newest Real Housekeeping piece is up, as well! It's a little different but I think you'll like it.

And I also think I've solved the problem of my 2014 NaNoWriMo novel. Basically, I started writing this novel, and it just didn't want to write--I was missing something. But I think, with some thinking on it, I have a new idea an possibly a new format for it (multiple narrators). Now that THE BOOK is done, I have time to go back to some of my fiction projects that are in various stages of completion. 


I had a clinic appointment yesterday, and everything is stable, so that's good, and I got my flu shot. Oh joy! I had a dentist appointment today, and I've got my first cavity in like, 20 years, so I guess that's something....going back to have that fixed after the Boston trip. It's super tiny so it's not a huge deal but I was sad to break the streak of Awesome Teeth. :-P 


The Pope's visit and the Synod on the Family. Both of these things sort of give me the heebie jeebies. I miss John Paul and Benedict. I know we've had "average" popes before, but the majority of my life was spent under two amazing popes, one of whom is a saint. 

Pope Francis makes my head hurt. When I read Laudatio Si', I spent a lot of time going "what? What does that mean?" I know he's Argentinian, so he's coming to things from that perspective. I know he's South American. I know he doesn't speak English. But I just can't get a good read on him, or really understand what's important to him. He just seems so all over the place. I don't really like it when the pope is all over the place. 

I'm listening to Fr. Robert Barron talk at the World Meeting of Families right now, which is the precursor to the Synod, I think. The Synod also makes me nervous. I don't like changing things to be "modern" or "hip." I like things that are true. I'm a Dominican. I don't like to see things change that are contravene truth and what we believe. I'm hoping that doesn't happen. I'm also hoping the pope doesn't say something inexplicably crazy in front of the UN or Congress. 

Maybe I'm worrying too much, and maybe I just need to "let go and let God." But I still worry. And it's not that I feel "challenged" by him--it's that a lot of the stuff he says is so dang confusing!

Around the house::

Took five more bags to Half Price books today--CDs and books, mostly. Yes, I skipped ahead a bit and did my CDs today. The CDs are supposed to be done after paper. I did the downstairs paper, which is stuff like my lease, tax returns, etc. and tossed the stuff I didn't need anymore, and managed to combine what I do need into one vertical file. There are also the papers in the office, which will probably just be summarily trashed, because it's stuff that Kondo calls "seminar notes"--things I printed out, meaning to read them.....and then never did. Out they'll go. 

From the kitchen: 

I loved Jamie Oliver's chicken fajitas so much when I made them a few weeks ago that I'm making them again. I serve them with his really easy homemade salsa and some cheddar cheese, and no tortilla, to reduce the carb load. And let me tell you, it's amazing. I think next week we're going to have another Food Stories post up about Mexican Food. I'm also thinking about making my first kedgeree this week, which excites me greatly, because it's fish and cheese and other awesome things. :) 

Planning for Boston::

We've made two reservations--one at La Summa, in Boston's North End, and one at Legal Seafood by the New England Aquarium. The Jeopardy test is at 9:00 on Sunday morning, and let me tell you, I'm going to be HUNGRY after that test, so we'll be heading to the Faneuil Hall area of downtown first, so we can eat!

Daybook No. 104: A pleasant surprise!

Daybook, travel, booksEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Outside my window::

Sunny and blue skies; definitely a nice thing to wake up to.


I'm going to the gym shortly, so Athleta relay capris in a  bright orange red, and one of Athleta's tops--a gray t-shirt. 

In the CD player::

Audrey Assad's Fortunate Fall


MiddlemarchA Right to be Merry (about cloistered Poor Clares), and I'm picking up the latest Michael Vey installment today, because I love Richard Paul Evans. I've also got A Spool of Blue Thread in my Library Book Pile. 

Kondo update: 

(I call it "Kondo" update, because the book I'm using, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, was written by Marie Kondo. You can read about it here, if you're new to the whole thing.) 

So, the clothes are gone. Well, I mean I'm done with sorting my clothes. Ten bags, including one full of shoes. For my old job, I needed lots of "work clothes", including heels, pants, etc.--things I hate to wear in general. Well now, they are off to be used by someone else! 

The second group of items Marie has you work on are books. As one of my friends said, "You are getting rid of books?!" Yes, I am. I generally do this fairly regularly, but this is a big purge. I'm getting rid of all the books I don't love. That means there's probably about 75 books in several small piles in my main room. There are more books to be sorted in the book room, but I'm already thinking there will be four or five bags (Not trash bags, but like tote bags) of books taken to Half Price Books. That doesn't count the DVDs and CDs that are going to be sorted later, and that I'll also take there. 

So this week, I'll be finishing the books, and maybe moving on to the papers (her third category). 

The big surprise!::

Yes, I sort of hid it down here. I'm crafty like that!

So in 2013, I was invited to the second round of Jeopardy! auditions.  Basically--and you can read more about it at the link--the way it works is you take the test, and then you can't take the online test (the first part of getting on the show) for about two years. 

In January, I could take the test again, and so I did. I didn't think I did that well, and I promptly forgot about it. So I was pretty surprised when I found an email in my inbox Friday night saying that I'd been invited to the second round of auditions in Boston!

The audition is October 4 at 9:00 A.M. It takes about two hours. So dad and I will be spending a few days in Boston! I've never been to Massachusetts, so it'll be my second new state this year, and Boston will feed a lot of my history geek urges. I wish we could get to Concord to se Orchard House, but that's not going to happen. Oh well!

October is just crazy. There's Jeopardy!, then my Third Order retreat, then  a friend who's getting married in Indiana. So at least I'll be really good at packing, if I'm not already, by the end of that month! 


Last week I had two really great workouts back to back, and that excited me. It also re-ignited my desire to reach new milestones in what my body can do. I might not ever like working out, but I do love the way I feel after a great workout. So today I'm hitting the gym (the last two were outside workouts, because the weather was perfect--upper 60s/low 70s. When it's in the 80s, like it will be today, working out outside isn't such a great thing for me.). I've also been paying more attention to strength training.  I have a doctor's appointment on Monday, so, yes, that's also part of the motivation. 

From the kitchen::

More Jamie Oliver recipes this week. I've got a steak today, and then a chicken recipe where the chicken is wrapped in proscuitto. YUM, right? 



DaybookNo. 103, in which a manuscript is revised (again!)

Daybook, memoir, writing, books, Tidying Up, foodEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window:: 

Sunny and hot. Hot. Hot. HOT. Did I mention, hot? Not that I'm ready for two feet of snow, mind you, but I am ready for it to be not ninety

In the CD player::

Cassie and Maggie, and Joyce DiDonato's ReJoyce! recording. 


Cloud Atlas--I'm more than halfway through, and am by turns intrigued and frustrated. I'm trusting that the everything will congeal into a Pleasing Whole as I go through the second half. Since that's a library book, I'm giving it more attention than the other things I'm reading (including Middlemarch) and it's just one of those books that requires close reading, because if you put it down for too long, you'll forget everything, and that's not good in this book. 


So I am preparing to send the Memoir Manuscript to a publisher, to see if they'll take it. They want it completed. So I was doing what I thought was a brief perusal for formatting errors yesterday morning. No. It turned into a slash and burn editing session. I took out entire pages, plot lines, and people. I embraced the idea of "nothing that does not serve the story", and out went a lot of things. It was liberating, in a sense, and it definitely tightens things up. I also decided that it definitely needs an epilogue, which I'll write this week. Before I fell asleep last night, I was toying with the idea of moving some pieces around, and I think I might do that today/tomorrow too. This is what makes things better.  And it's sort of exciting, actually. It's like cutting away the fat from a piece of meat. 

Around the house::

So while the above was happening yesterday, I also decided it would e a good day to kick off "Kondo-ing" my house. If you've been anywhere near a bookstore in the past year, you've seen Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I've read it a few times, but I decided yesterday to get to it, and I started with my clothes, as she suggested. So far, three bags (trash bags) have been filled (no, they won't be trashed--they'll be donated. If the clothes are full of holes and torn up, then they go in the trash.). There is a huge pile on my bedroom floor that will probably take another two bags, and the hangers! It's incredible! Today we move on to socks, bags, accessories, and shoes (or as many of those as I can get done today). 

From the kitchen::

I made Irish Tea Brack yesterday from Clodagh McKenna's Irish Kitchen cookbook. I had a piece for breakfast, and it was delicious. It smells like gingerbread when it's baking. For dinner today, I'm trying a Jamie Oliver salmon stir-fry. I've got a very small grocery list that needs tending, as well. 

So in case you can't tell, yesterday was the Epitome of Crazy Busy, but good crazy busy--the kind that leaves you feeling very satisfied when you go to bed and look back at what you did. A good start for the first full week of September! 





Daybook No. 102

Daybook, books, knittingEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window::

Sunny and hot. Figures that once the kids are back in school we get summertime temperatures--mid to upper 80s and maybe even cracking 90 on Friday. But the pool is still open for those of us who don't have school!


Gray skirt, pink t-shirt. Going to the gym later and I can work out in this t-shirt. I like to keep the time between changing and working out to a minimum, but since I'm also going to run errands after the gym, I need something on the bottom other than my workout pants. 

Listening to: 

Audrey Assad's Death Be Not Proud


Middlemarch, Cloud Atlas, The Sandcastle Girls, A Spool of Blue Thread. How much do I love being able to get library books on my kindle? WIN. I'm also loving Clodagh McKenna's cookbooks. I write a lot about Italian food, but I'm also Scots-Irish and German, and Irish food is really good. At least, I think it is. So I'm improving my skills there.


From the kitchen::

Salad with parmesan chicken from last night; dinner with Mom and Dad tonight. Meals this week include salmon stir fry, shrimp and avocados, and chicken fajitas. Two of these are new recipes, so we'll see how they go. They're from Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution cookbook, which I adore, so I'm pretty sure they're going to be delicious. I've only had a few misses with that collection. 

Praying for::

Guys, I've got some urgent prayer requests. Please join me in praying for these folks, especially? 

  • My friends Abby and Chris, who are trying to sell their house near Boston--they moved to Ohio (yay!) but still have to sell the old house (boo!). 
  • My friend Sage. Sage has CF like me, and she's in the process of being listed (or is already listed? I can't remember at the moment) for transplant. She's fighting a nasty infection with nasty medication--so really, life is misbehaving right now. Pray that she can kick this bug, and that he husband can get a new job in Wisconsin (where they have to relocate for the transplant). 

Thanks so much. And you're always welcome to leave prayer requests in the comments--always. I see all the comments that get posted here, and I'll pray for you!


September is like the new January, you know? Even though I'm long past going back to school, I always feel like it's a good time to start new habits or get back into a rhythm of life, after the sort of lazy summer scheduling. So I've got a new fitness tracking book, and I'm laying down some new fitness rails here. It helps that I took the last dose of the SCARY MEDICATION, that made me have lots of joint and muscle pain (to the point where standing was hard, sometimes), so my body is much more willing to move. Yay. But I'm also working on some new blog plans (post ideas), and I'm gathering supplies to print the manuscript off and mail it to a publisher. (I had to order mucho ink on Amazon today, so I don't run out!) CCD has started, so that alone means I have to keep that schedule and our syllabus on track. I'm also getting really excited about NaNoWriMo 2015. 

For some reason, I've always been sort of lackluster in August. September reinvigorates me. 

Around the house::

I've been a lot better about keeping the house in good shape. This was one of my August goals, and I'm proud of myself for achieving a weekly house cleaning schedule. Go, me! Since I work at home, it's important for me to have order, so I don't get distracted with a million other things. 


I'm making some bookmarks, because I have some beautiful yarn for them, and I need some more bookmarks around here! I will try purling again with a new ball of yarn, because the one I tried with before was just HOSTILE. 






Daybook No. 101

Daybook, writingEmily DeArdo1 Comment

Outside my window::

It's "partly sunny". All the kids are back in school, and the weather is in the low seventies, but will be in the 80s over the weekend. 


A robin's egg blue t-shirt and my tiered, gray skirt. Basically, my summer uniform. 



I finished A God In Ruins yesterday. I'm sort of torn about it. There were parts I really enjoyed, and then there were parts that I skimmed. I didn't really care about the WWII stuff, even though I know that was important for the protagonist. I'm sort WWII'd out in my fiction and movies. (That's probably awful) But unless it's really creative, like The Book Thief,  or a part that hasn't been done to death, like Life After Life, I'm sort of "eh" about it. 

Still reading Middlemarch and What Matters in Jane Austen

Around the house::

Well I've had a cold ontop of the sinus issues, so for the past few days not much has been going on around here. After I got back from teaching CCD on Sunday I pretty much crashed. But I'm feeling more human today, so we'll see what I can get done. At the very least, I need to go out and provision a bit more. 

In the CD player::

Cassie and Maggie, Sterling Road


Well, see above, I guess. At least I don't eat a lot when I have a cold. Hahah. If today goes well, I'll be back to the gym tomorrow. 


We have 28 kids this year. That's not bad, given that they can all write their names without help, and make the sign of the cross correctly. Having kids who already have a pretty good grasp on their letters is an excellent thing. We're giving homework this year. Not difficult homework, but still, homework. Mom had the great idea of having a drawing at the end of the year for a prize--every time the kid comes to class and completes homework (and brings it back), the kid gets an entry in each jar. "Truly, a little bribe never hurt." Right? 

The first week is always the introductory stuff--here are the books, here are the rules, here's the fire drill procedure, etc. Next week we start chapter 1, on prayer, and why God made them. 


I'm getting ready to send the manuscript out to another publishing house. This house wants it completed, and as a hard copy, so yes, I will actually have to print out the Behemoth, and mail it. The USPS is going to love me. Really. 

I'm also thinking about new writing topics for here. So, what do you want me to write about? Do you have questions/burning topics you'd love to see me talk about?