Emily M. DeArdo

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Seven Quick Takes--Writing Updates, Birthdays, A Wedding....

7 Quick Takes, family, writing, the bookEmily DeArdo4 Comments
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Linking up with Kelly!

-I-

If you missed it, my sister got married last week!

It was a beautiful day! I’ll have more about travel logistics up soon, as well as the second part of my April trip…..bad me, I know! I’m being a slacker blogger!



-II-

But I have a reason to be slacker blogger—it’s time for edits! Which means:


I got edits up to Chapter 11 (there are 15 main chapters, plus the prayer section, and the intro and preface, so 17 chapters and prayers) from my editor yesterday, so now it’s time to DIVE IN. So if it’s quiet around here, that’s why. Amuse yourselves by looking through the archives!

(Or buy Catholic 101! $5!)

-III-

So yes, I’ll be in the office, by Corgi corner, writing. :)

What is Corgi Corner?

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This. :)

It’s a Corgi Calendar that my friend Sarah sent me for my birthday, a card with a leaping corgi on the cover, and my Susan Branch Royal Corgi mug, because hello it’s THE BEST.

I fill the mug with tea, and I write. Corgi corner keeps me going!


-IV-

Happy First Day of Summer! It’s been so rainy here that when the sun is out I feel like Gollum:

It’s only going to be 75 today so not quite warm enough to swim, but warm enough to get outside and squint at the bright thing in the sky!

-v-

We’re hitting the big Birthday Stride in our family: Dad’s birthday was on Wednesday, my new brother in law’s is today, my mom’s is tomorrow, mom and dad’s anniversary (their fortieth!) is on the 30th, and that’s also my grandma’s 89th birthday.

WHEW!

-VI-

The trip to CO was our big trip of the summer so the rest of the summer is delightfully free. Of course I’m working on edits because they’re due before the Fourth of July, but after that, who knows what’s going to happen? Well, other than clinic in July—the big yearly testing date, with CTs and bone density scans—and then my fourteenth transplant anniversary on the 11th!

-VII-

I also need to update you about books I’m reading but we’ll do that later…..I’ll add it to my blog list. In the meantime, tell me what you’re reading! I’m always looking for new titles to pick up!

A Wedding In the Mountains: Melanie and Jason

essays, family, travelEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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(Photos by Mel’s photographer, not me! :) )

My sister got married last week, and I have a new brother!

We’re excited about this. :)


The wedding was on June 13 at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.

This is a beautiful church! Pope St. John Paul II visited it during World Youth Day in Denver in 1993.

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The church was stunning……so here are pictures (especially for family members who couldn’t come, but really, for everyone, because we all need beauty!)

St. Francis with Brother Elk. I saw quite a few people coming to pray here while we were there. It seems like a really popular devotional spot in Estes Park!

St. Francis with Brother Elk. I saw quite a few people coming to pray here while we were there. It seems like a really popular devotional spot in Estes Park!

Isn’t she gorgeous?!

Isn’t she gorgeous?!

The stained glass windows around the nave showcased the sacraments. Thought this one was especially appropriate!

The stained glass windows around the nave showcased the sacraments. Thought this one was especially appropriate!

The altar and tabernacle—the tabernacle has the five loaves and two fishes on it.

The altar and tabernacle—the tabernacle has the five loaves and two fishes on it.

View from the doors

View from the doors


It’s a really gorgeous church, with a statue of the Sacred Heart, a St. Michael window in the choir loft, and last but not least, a really amazing priest! He gave a beautiful homily on how marriage is about joy and sorrow, how marriage really begins the time you have your first fight (basically) or have a bad/sad moment, and how marriage is about being selfless, instead of selfish, because you’re one now. You’re not two. It was appropriate he spoke about joy, because that’s my sister’s middle name! I wish I had a copy of the homily, it was so inspiring.

The reception was intimate, held at a local steakhouse. But there was still cake (well, cupcake) smashing….

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And a first dance….



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I was a bridesmaid, so I was busy throughout the day and didn’t have time to take a ton of pictures, but that’s what I have. :)

We stayed at The Stanley Hotel (AKA, where Stephen King got the inspiration for The Shining) and my room had a great view:

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So, that’s all I have right now, in terms of photos, but it was a lovely, intimate wedding in a gorgeous place, and I’m so happy for my sister and my new brother in law! :)


On the Ninth Day of Christmas....

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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Hi everyone! Happy New Year!

It’s STILL CHRISTMAS! Do not take down the tree! RESIST! (Unless you have a real one, which has become a fire hazard. Then, of course, get rid of it. But there are advantages to having a fake one, like my $20 Target tree….)

The ninth day of Christmas was always my favorite as a kid, because in the song it’s “Nine ladies dancing” and that just gave me a nice image. Also, my mom’s Christmas china has the twelve days of Christmas illustrated on the dessert plates, and “Nine Ladies Dancing” is the prettiest, so I always wanted that one. My mom, being a piper (she played bagpipes in high school!), is partial to the 11 pipers piping, obviously.

(I need to take pictures of the plates so you can see them! They really are gorgeous. I have 12 days of Christmas ornaments, but not the whole set yet—Hallmark is releasing them one a year, and they’re only up to ‘8 maids a-milking’.)

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Anyway, how is your Christmas season going? Did you do anything fun? Are you enjoying wallowing in the Christmas books you got, like me? :) (Seriously, SO MANY this year, it’s an overflow of riches.)

Coming up here on the blog is a yarn along post about blocking (I know that thrills the non yarn people among you, but guys, it makes a HUGE difference, so it’s for the fabric-oriented), goals for 2019, and some writing updates…..but I just wanted to pop in and say hi with this entry.

And share this little guy’s picture, because he’s adorable. Did you have breakfast with Cookie Monster last week?

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#7 Fajitas with Mel (and Ember Days start tomorrow!)

Catholicism, family, journalEmily DeArdoComment

My sister lives in Colorado, so I don’t get to see her that much, which is sad. She’s an RN at Colorado Children’s, the only children’s hospital in the entire state. She’s also getting married in June!

Tonight she called me and we cooked together. I love FaceTime. She was making a cake while I made fajitas for dinner, and we talked about wedding plans and our brother and what we like to cook and how she was eating all the cake batter. :-P And I got to say hi to Bella, her cat. We also decided that I’d look up a place for the rehearsal dinner, because I really do love reading Yelp reviews and I want to help her out. :)

Sadly I didn’t take a shot of her on the phone—she was having an AMAZING hair day. She has thick blonde hair I envy. Mine is not thick.

But I did take a photo of the fajitas.

Homemade salsa in there, too!

Homemade salsa in there, too!


And—a few dioceses around the country, and many individuals, are re-instating the practice of Ember Days in their spiritual lives. What are ember days? They’re days that the Church used to use for prayers—blessings on the natural world, on crops, on the people who live in the area, etc. They happen four times a year, and the Michaelmas (fall) ones are tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday. They’re days for fasting and more prayer.

If you want to know more, check out this great article. I am terrible at fasting. But I will abstain from meat. Here’s a specific link on the fall Embertide. (The other ones fall after Pentecost, St. Lucy’s Day [Dec. 13] and after Ash Wednesday.)

(If you’re a blog subscriber, you’re getting this W morning….but you can still fast or do things on the Friday and Saturday! Not too late!)

Thirteen

CF, family, essays, organ donation, transplantEmily DeArdoComment

The annual transplant anniversary post tends to change, in form and shape, every year. This year, a lot has happened: 

Catholic 101 was published in November (buy it here--on sale until Friday!) 

My brother got married

(c) Erica Kay Photography , http://ericakayphotography.com/home

(c) Erica Kay Photography , http://ericakayphotography.com/home

 

My sister got engaged

Melanie and Jason (her fiance) leaving Bryan and Sarah's wedding (c) Erica Kay Photography, http://ericakayphotography.com/home

Melanie and Jason (her fiance) leaving Bryan and Sarah's wedding (c) Erica Kay Photography, http://ericakayphotography.com/home

I saw the Stanley Cup with my parents

I went back to Williamsburg and Duck 

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I started writing and editing for Take Up & Read. 

I celebrated my grandma's 88th birthday with my family

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I knit my first shawl. 

 

None of these things would've happened without my donor. 

It can be tempting to look at life in terms of productivity, what we do,  and I'm not trying to list my productivity. Look at what I've done! Rather, it's more like, these are things I never would've done, enjoyed, even conceived of, thirteen years ago. These are things that never would've happened. 

I would've missed my brother's wedding. 

I never would've met my new future brother-in-law and sister-in-law. 

13 birthdays, Christmases, holidays....all those things would've passed without me. 

In general, women post-transplant don't do as well as men. There isn't a lot of data, period, on women who have survived a transplant longer than 10 years. I'm in new territory here. 

I try not to think about that. 

Instead, these things I get to do are gifts, even when life is sort of sucky, because life is never totally perfect. I mean, things are overcome, yes--but just because something is overcome doesn't mean that everything is suddenly perfect. It doesn't work that way. 

Someone said, life is full of suffering, but it is also full of the overcoming of it. 

And that about sums it up. 

Thirteen years of overcoming is pretty good. 

With the cousins on my mom's side at my brother's wedding. This is not all of them, btw! 

With the cousins on my mom's side at my brother's wedding. This is not all of them, btw! 

To be an organ donor, go to donatelife.net/register

A Wedding

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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He's married. And so is she! I have a new sister! 

My brother's wedding was lovely, and glorious, and so much fun. Everything about it spoke to the personalities of the two people involved, and the love that God has given them. The Mass homily was especially great; the deacon, who had prepared them for marriage, spoke about the graces we all received just by attending the Mass, and the graces God gives us all for our state in life. 

 

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The joy really did overflow. It was a great party. The rain was spotty, and then gone, so we were able to take photos in the garden of the reception location, and also bring the party onto the deck that came off of the main room. Seeing so many family members and friends made it even better, especially friends of my parents that I haven't seen in ages. 

In Gone With the Wind, Melanie Wilkes says that the happiest days are when babies come. I think the second happiest days have to be when two people who are clearly so well-suited for each other get married. 

Bubby

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment
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My brother was the sibling that made me a big sister. 


I remember the day he was born very clearly. Mom and Dad bundled me off to Laurie's house (a friend of theirs) in my Grover nightgown, and I slept in one of the boys' beds (they have three boys), until Laurie and Barry (her husband) woke me up the next morning. 


"You have a baby brother!" They told me. 


I stood in their bedroom, rubbing my eyes in the morning sunlight and sort of grumpy.

 
"I wanted a sister," I grumped. 


Well, I got my sister four years later. And I was glad to get her. But I've really, really enjoyed having a brother like Bryan, who is unfailingly upbeat, friendly (EVERYONE seems to know him), supportive, totally giving of his time, great with kids, a sports fanatic (which has served him in good stead), and one of the most cooly collected people I will ever meet, which definitely serves him well, and which I envy. And he's just adorable and sweet. Which I probably shouldn't say because it's not "manly", but it's true, and it's a great thing, in my opinion. He's incredibly creative, with a great sense of humor. And he's strong--which is great to have in a brother, because you can use him for heavy lifting (kidding, sort of)--but also mentally, which serves him in good stead as a runner. (I like to brag about his marathon-running. Kid's run Boston and New York (twice).) 

We weren't always this close. In fact, when we were kids, we were downright feral towards each other, pulling hair and scratching and generally fighting a lot. It really wasn't until I went to college that we became good friends, and I'm glad we did, eventually, because I just love him to bits. (So, parents reading this--if your kids fight when they're little, that doesn't preclude them being close as adults!) 


And he's getting married. Isn't he still five? Wasn't I just reading Go Dog Go! to him?

Apparently not. 

I'm so proud of you, Bubby. You're going to be a great husband. And I love the woman you've picked to be your wife. I'm so glad Sarah is joining the family!

(Yes, we call him "Bubby." I have no idea why. It's the shortening of a VERY long nickname we came up with for him when he was a toddler. That's a family secret. ;-) ) 

Weekend in the Burgh

family, journalEmily DeArdoComment

It was a good weekend in the 'Burgh.

Normally, any weekend I get to spend with my extended family is a good one. But when it's a chance to celebrate my youngest cousin's first communion (he's the little guy in the above photo), and the Penguins win their fifth Stanley Cup? It's a great weekend. 

I've been a hockey fan since I was about seven years old, and saw my first Penguins game at the old Civic Arena against a team that doesn't even exist anymore--the Hartford Whalers. So I've been alive for every Penguins Cup victory, which is special in and of itself, but watching them win is just tremendous. I was so happy, especially since the game was so crappy for the most part (Nashville, learn to make better ice! Come on!). 

And seeing my grandma is always great. I love her house and getting to spend time with her, probably because I'm aware that she's 87 and not going to be around forever, and partially because I just adore her house. She's my only grandparent left, so that makes every visit with her even more important/special. 

Justin is my youngest cousin and he is hysterical. He's eight, he wants to be a librarian when he grows up, he keeps itemized shopping lists (labeled "Toys R Us", "Dick's", and "Amazon) and is a YouTube video master. He also has some sweet dance moves. It's always fun to spend time with him and his older siblings. (Sorry, Paige, for having a party at your house that went until almost 1 AM the night before your finals week started.......) 

We usually get up to Pittsburgh to visit once or twice each summer. I hope we go back again, because I have to go to Kennywood, as is tradition. 

Daybook No. 122: Christmastide

Daybook, books, family, holidaysEmily DeArdoComment

Outside my window:: 

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

Wearing::

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

Reading::

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

Christmas notes::

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

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

The Nativity scene at my parish. 

The Nativity scene at my parish. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Around the House::

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

Living the Liturgy::

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

Quotable::

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

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

 

Go immerse yourself in some joy today. :) 

 

 

Houston Postcard Part II

travel, familyEmily DeArdoComment

It's time for Part Two of my Houston postcards! This is rapidly becoming a series!

In October I went to visit my sister for her birthday, and we had so much fun. We also ate really well and had fun browsing in FOUR bookshops. That's right: FOUR, people. 

So I'm here to share more Houston goodness with you!

(Here's the first postcard)

Food: 

This is up first because we had a lot of foodie fun. :) 

The thing you need to know is that the portions will, most likely, be LARGE. Just plan on that. 

Torchy's Tacos: various locations. Ours was the Rice Village one, 2400 Times Blvd. Mel said to me that they had big portions, but I thought two tacos wouldn't be that big, right? WRONG. They were big. And delicious. I had to admit defeat. The fact that they also sell spicy, amazing queso makes it even harder to stop yourself. They have Mexican sodas, but do not fear! The diet tastes a lot like Diet Coke to me, so I was fine. There's also lemonade and water. Fantastic eats. Yes, the location is small and it's loud, but hey, it's great food. 

Goode Co. Barbecue5109 Kirby Drive (basically, Kirby has a LOT of good food on it. Drive down this street and find good eats.) Texas does barbecue so well, and Goode's does it especially well. We both ordered the two meat platter and got the Czech sausage and the brisket. I have no idea what is in Czech sausage, but whatever it is, it is DELICIOUSNESS. The jalapeño cornbread was a revelation. Excellent good eats. They have a small dining room and a much larger covered patio outside. 

Down House:  1801 Yale Street. This place is cool and serves excellent food. This is where Mel's friends met her for lunch to celebrate her birthday. Mimosas were had (not by me), and there was a cheeseboard. 

The shrimp and grits were exquisite. I could eat here every day. We had a great waiter, and we could eat leisurely and enjoy ourselves, which is always a plus. 

El Tiempo: multiple locations, and I'm honestly not sure which one was ours! We ate here for dinner with Mel and Diane, who were both celebrating birthdays. This is more Tex-Mex than actual authentic Mexican, but it's very good. I had a platter and Mel and her boyfriend shared a fajita plate. 

Grace's 3111 Kirby Drive Mel and I had the best dinner here. (I know I keep saying that, but it's true!) This is owned and run by the people who run Carrabas (there's actually one of them across the street), and it's dedicated to the owner's grandmother, Grace. The restaurant is decorated like someone's house. It's dark and elegant. Me and I shared the beet salad and we both had burgers, because they were Waygu beef burgers, people. Delicious. Very classy place, and it's where Mel takes our parents when they come to town. We saw couples, people on business dinners, families--diverse clientele. Also had a lovely patio! 

The Chocolate Bar2521 University Blvd. (Rice Village) (there's another location in River Oaks, at 1835 W. Alabama) I wanted dessert at Grace's, but Mel said, no. We have to go here. 

THAT is Aunt Etta's cake. That is pure deliciousness. That is something you stomach NEEDS. Mel got the European hot chocolate and a slice of truffle cake. 

I did not eat all of this. But man, it's delicious. You must go to the Chocolate Bar. 

Sweet Paris 2420 Rice Blvd. (three locations) We went here for lunch. They have sweet and savory crepes, as well as waffles, and (my dad says ) Amazing Coffee. It's very cute, very Parisian, and very yummy. 

 

Bookstores

Brazos2421 Bissonnett St. Of course I had to return and bring Mel! A good time was had by all. 

B&N (We don't need to review this, do we? Just know they have them. :-D)

Murder By the Book2342 Bissonnet St. (Yes, it's right down the street from Brazos. This is an excellent street.) I had some reservations about this one, because I'm not a big mystery reader. Man, I was wrong. This place is great! They have more than mysteries (fantasy, thrillers, etc. are included in their sphere), and I picked up books, a journal, and tea! Loved this bookstore. 

 

Galveston

The Spot3204 Seawall Blvd., Galveston. This place has a great view of the Gulf and includes indoor and outdoor seating. I had the Gulf shrimp, because seriously, how much more local can you get? They have a big menu and it's a very relaxed atmosphere--we came here straight from the beach! Parking can be a little tricky. 

Galveston Bookshop:  A used/new book store in the "historic district" of Galveston. The website gives you directions, since it's sort of hard to find. It has a great selection of books about Galveston and Texas in general. (There is also a bookstore cat.) We didn't buy anything, but it looked like a good place to browse for hard to find books. 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 127

7 Quick Takes, drawing, family, travel, Jeopardy, hearing lossEmily DeArdo3 Comments

I.

In case you missed it: Thirty Days of Beauty continued this week. It was really all I wrote this week, since I was in Houston visiting my sister, and didn't bring the laptop with me. So go enjoy those posts. :) 

I will be updating my Houston Postcard next week with the places I did this trip, so it will be more Comprehensive for all you Houston-bound people!

II.

When I was in Houston I did a lot of sketching, including making a point of taking my supplies to the beach at Galveston. I knew that the paint would dry faster in the heat, but I wasn't prepared for how much faster. Still, I'm pretty happy with what I managed to get. 

III. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you are aware that my sister has a cat. Bella is a pretty sweet kitty, who flicks her tail whenever you say her name, and likes to try to get extra kibble out of the automatic feeder. (My sister is a nurse who works night shift, so automatic feeding for Bella is a good thing!) She discovered that by moving her paw under the slot, she could get extra kibble to drop down. Sometimes. Never having lived with a cat, I was hugely amused by her behavior. 

IV. 

There were FOUR bookstores visited on this trip, guys. FOUR. One of them, yes, was a Barnes and Noble, and I wasn't there for very long, but still. FOUR! 

Brazos, of course. I introduced Melanie to its beautiful-ness. Small but mighty. 

We checked out Galveston Bookshop--didn't buy anything, though. It looked like it might be a decent place to prowl around and look for books. It's mostly used books, with some new, and they have an excellent collection of books about Galveston and Texas, if that's your thing. They also have a shop cat!

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The last shop we visited was Murder By the Book, which was excellent. It's a lot more than mystery novels (at first I was like, mystery novels are not my thing), but I had a lot of fun here. More about this guy later. 

V. 

This chocolate cake, people. THIS CHOCOLATE CAKE: 

Does it remind you of this scene in Matilda, or what?!

It reminded me of that. :) And Mel and I love Matilda. So extra bonus points. 

And no. I did not eat that entire piece. Do I look crazy? But it was magically delicious. 

VI.

One of the things that I'm terrible at vis-a-vis traveling is unpacking. My suitcase sits in the main room and is gradually unpacked over a series of days. The longer the trip, the longer it takes to sort everything out! 

VII. 

And finally....

 I wrote a piece for the Cochlear Website about my Jeopardy! experience. You can read it here

It went up on Tuesday when I was in Texas so I didn't have time to write about it. :) But here you go! 

Seven Quick Takes No. 126

7 Quick Takes, family, travelEmily DeArdoComment

I. 

Until the election, I'm doing 30 Days of Beauty. It's a series where I post images, book and movie recommendations, and music to serve as a bit of peace and loveliness in the crazy. They're not very long, but hopefully you enjoy them as much as I've enjoyed putting them together!

II. 

Makeup recommendation time (this is where all the guys scroll down!): Best mascara I've ever tried is Maybelline's Last Stiletto. Seriously. Try it. Works just as well as Lancome's Definicils and better than any Bobbi Brown I've tried. Needed to share this with y'all. 

III. 

I am going to Houston on Sunday! My sister's birthday is on Monday and she wanted me to come visit her, so I am complying. I'll be there for a few days. 

The extra-fun part is that my sister shares a birthday with two of our cousins, one of which also lives in Houston. So it's gonna be one big party. Yay!

(I do love birthdays. So much.)

IV. 

On Tuesday we're going to the beach. Here's how that conversation went:
Mel: So we'll go to the beach on Tuesday.
Me: Guess I won't need to pack my sweater, then....

It's going to 90 when I'm there. The beach in October? That just seems wrong. 

Oh well! Better than not being on the beach, right? 

V. 

I haven't been to Houston in about five years, so I'm excited to go back. I also get to meet my sister's boyfriend, whom I haven't met yet. Hopefully I don't scare him away. :-P 

VI. 

The TSA agents really do not help women. I mean, seriously. ONE little bag to carry on of toiletries? This, and my meds, is why I have to check baggage. Seriously. I need more than one little baggie, TSA people. 

(First world problem, I know. At least I'm flying Southwest and my checked bag is free.) 

VII. 

Hockey season has begun and my heart is happy. Hockey season always makes me happy. Except when/if my teams are tanking. I don't want that to happen. That's not happy. 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 119: 23 Rules for Sane Eating, and Dragons!

7 Quick Takes, Catholicism, family, foodEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I. 

The weekly recap: 

Intro to the Sacraments

Seeking Motivation

II. 

Last weekend, I visited my grandma with my parents. My grandma is 86 years old, and she's my last remaining grandparent--and I love her to bits. She raised eight kids on a music teacher's salary, and all 8 kids are married (STILL married! Not divorced!--several of them in the 30+ years category of marriage), and all have had children. There are 25 of us grandkids, and 9 great-grandchildren. Grandma gave me my lifelong love of piano. (And listened to me play even when it was more like....random noise.....than music.) 

Me and my grandma, celebrating her 85th birthday last year. 

Me and my grandma, celebrating her 85th birthday last year. 

 

Anyway, Grandma's house always has good reading. I was reading her back issues of Catholic Digest, and found some food columns written by Emily Stimpson, whom I love to read. And then I remembered that Emily had a blog about Catholic food and friendship and entertaining called The Catholic Table

So I went home and read through her archives, where I found this gem: 

23 Rules for Sane Eating. 

Really, don't we need these? Eating, one of our most basic tasks, has become so complicated, hasn't it? It was so refreshing to find Emily's level-headed advice, here. 

And I am definitely going to start entertaining people again. I love dinner parties, and though my place is small, I love having people over to eat. 

III. 

Today is the Feast of St. Martha. DRAGONS, people. DRAGONS. (Click the link for Dragons!) 

Seriously, I love St. Martha. She gets such a bad wrap for the "Martha, Martha" story. But geez. She is really a pretty awesome lady. 

Some musical inspiration, as well: 

IV. 

This week I've been crazy into my painting and sketching. I'm working on adding some SoCal trip pages to my "big" sketchbook . Here's some of this week's work: 

Charcoal movement sketches as part of a SBS assignment. The idea was to catch people doing things, or in poses. So it was mostly line drawings, but I'm glad with what I caught here. The goal wasn't to be realistic. 

Charcoal movement sketches as part of a SBS assignment. The idea was to catch people doing things, or in poses. So it was mostly line drawings, but I'm glad with what I caught here. The goal wasn't to be realistic. 

A page in my big watercolor sketchbook detailing the SoCal trip with two maps--a larger (and wonkier) one with the general area, and then a more detailed one of LA and environs proper. I do have a travel sketchbook, but sometimes I want the larger pages. 

A page in my big watercolor sketchbook detailing the SoCal trip with two maps--a larger (and wonkier) one with the general area, and then a more detailed one of LA and environs proper. I do have a travel sketchbook, but sometimes I want the larger pages. 

This is a watercolor version of my grandma's flower bed. I put the paint blocks in first and then drew in some flowers in ink once the paint had dried. The flowers are sort of successful, but I wonder if it would've worked with just the paint blocks. I think it might have. And obviously, my green got away from me. Too much green! 

This is a watercolor version of my grandma's flower bed. I put the paint blocks in first and then drew in some flowers in ink once the paint had dried. The flowers are sort of successful, but I wonder if it would've worked with just the paint blocks. I think it might have. And obviously, my green got away from me. Too much green! 

I'm trying to work with my watercolors and brushes, to get to know them a little better, and see what they can do. But I really had fun with the charcoal pencils. 

V.

I'm on snapchat now as emdeardo, if you're in to Snapchat. I think I have the hang of it. Maybe? Not sure. But I do see how it can be fun. I haven't used any of the silly filters yet. :-p 

VI. 

One of my favorite Columbus Summer things is next weekend--the Dublin Irish Festival! And thank goodness, it looks like decent temps for the day I want to go. I love going and hearing the Irish bands, eating the good food, and it's a great time for sketching. I brought my sketchbook for the first time last year and I had a lot of fun with it. I can't wait to sketch some more this year! One of my favorite bands is Cassie and Maggie, sisters from Nova Scotia. They don't just sing and play; they dance, too. Seriously. They are fantastic!

VII. 

Does anyone else really like the month of August? I like June because it's like the unfolding of spring and summer. It's full of possibility. July, I don't really like. I don't know why. And this has even been a particularly good July, with all sorts of fun things happening. 

But August just seems like such a lovely month. A slow month, a month to sort of enjoy the summer and prepare for fall. I remember when I was going back to school and I was always ready for school to start come August. August is like that slow transition from summer to the demands of fall. (But I do love fall.) 

Seven Quick Takes No. 113

7 Quick Takes, Jeopardy, life issuesEmily DeArdo2 Comments

I. 

First up--this week's post roundup: 

SITS girls Summer Scribbles No. 1

Catholic 101: Those "Screwball Apostles"

II. 

I'm going to Pittsburgh this weekend for my godson/cousin's high school graduation. He actually graduated last week, but the party is this weekend. I can't believe he's that old, first off. I was fifteen when he was born! He'll be going to Pitt to study computer science. He's a good kid, and I'm so lucky to be his godmother.  

III. 

Just a reminder: my Jeopardy! appearance is July 18th!!!

IV. 

(Yes, that merited the cool font. You know it did.)

I'm actually sort of nervous about people watching it. I can see the whole slew of tweets and Facebook postings of "YOU IDIOT! How did you not know THAT?" And honestly, there's at least one question I'm still beating myself up about. :-P 

I did manage to impress Alex T., though. I did. But that is a story for the day the show airs. :) 

V. 

I did manage to whip the sketchbook out this week, not once, but TWICE! Oh yeah! 

Lunchtime sketching--lamp and a wonky pitcher. :-P (I was trying to do single line contour on that guy, so....)

Lunchtime sketching--lamp and a wonky pitcher. :-P (I was trying to do single line contour on that guy, so....)

Plant at Dawes Arboretum. 

Plant at Dawes Arboretum. 

VI. 

California legalized assisted suicide this week. Why that's a bad idea. 

VII. 

And my hockey team is continuing to hate me--game 6 in San Jose.....

Food Stories--Grilling in Houston

food stories, recipesEmily DeArdo2 Comments

 

Two weeks ago, I briefly mentioned my cousin Diane and her take on Mexican food. Since she lives in Houston, she knows of what she speaks. But she's also a good cook in her own right, and I got to experience that when I visited her a few years back. 

She and her husband, Matt, now have three children (and two cats), but at the time, she only had one, her oldest daughter. I spent a week with them in mid-July (July in Houston? Was I crazy? Maybe.), and one night for dinner, Di and Matt served grilled chicken, butter beans, and brownies, which were delicious. It was simple, yes but sitting around the table with some of my favorite people made it more than just the food on the plates. 

Diane and I have always been close--we're only six months apart in age. While we're different personalities, and have different gifts (she can do higher-level math, for one), we always enjoy seeing each other and talking when we get the chance (which is hard to find, because you know, three kids, two cats--she's busy!). But we don't get to see each other as often as we'd like. 

Diane and I with her youngest, Frank. 

Diane and I with her youngest, Frank. 

That's one of the great things about food. It has a power to bring back memories and people when you can't physically be together. So while we had a lot of good food on my trip there (steak! Real Mexican! Seafood by the Gulf!), this is a meal I can easily recreate when I want to be back in Houston. 

Houston Dinner

These recipes are all from Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals 2--which I'd gotten Di as a shower gift before her wedding. 

Honey Mustard Barbecued Chicken

Sauce: 

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

1/4 c. brown sugar 

1 c. chicken stock

1/2 c. prepared honey mustard

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. curry powder

CHICKEN

4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breasts

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

vegetable oil

salt and pepper

Preheat grill pan or griddle over medium-high heat. 

Add vegetable oil to a small saucepan over moderate heat. Add red onion and saute, 3-5 minutes. Add vinegar and reduce by half, one minute or two. Add brown sugar and cook one minute. Whisk in stock and honey mustard, allspice, and curry powder. Bring sauce to bubble and reduce heat to lowest setting. 

Coat chicken with a drizzle of oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Place chicken on hot grill and cook 4-5 minutes, then turn. Baste chicken liberally with sauce and grill another 5 minutes. Turn once again and baste. Cook 2-3 minutes more, than transfer chicken to a platter and serve.

Butter Bean Salad

2 15 oz. cans butter beans, rinsed and drained 

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1/4 red onion, chopped (use the rest of the red onion from the chicken!)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 tsp. ground cumin

2 tbsp. EVOO

the juice of one large lemon

coarse salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Toss to coat beans and vegetables evenly in dressing. 

 

Corn on the Cob with Chili and Lime

4 ears sweet corn, shucked and cleaned

1 lime, cut into wedges

1/3 stick butter, cut into pats

chili powder, for sprikling

salt, to taste

In a medium pot, bring water to a boil and simmer corn, 3-5 minutes. Drain and arrange the ears on a shallow plat in a single row. Squeeze lime juice liberally over all the corn. Nest pats of butter into paper towels, and rub lime doused hot corn with butter. Season with sprinkle of chili powder and salt and serve immediately. 

Fluffernutter Brownies

1 package chocolate brownie mix, prepared to package directions

1 c. peanut butter chops

softened butter, to grease baking dish

2 oz. chopped nuts

1 c. mini-marshmallows

Preheat over to 425 degrees. 

To mixed brownie batter, stir in peanut butter chips. Grease an 8x8 baking dish with softened butter and spread the brownie mixture into an even layer in the dish. Sprinkle with chopped nuts and bake 20-22 minutes total, removing to scatter marshmallows on top for the last 3-5 minutes of baking time. Remove from oven and cut into pieces. 

 

 

 

 

Food Stories--South of the Border

food stories, recipesEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Living in Ohio, the closest foreign country is Canada--where I've never been. But my parents both like Mexican food (and no, I've never been to Mexico, either), even though in the beginning of our lives here in Ohio, Taco Bell was the only "Mexican" food around.

As my cousin, Diane, says, "There's Mexican food, and then there's Taco Bell." (She lives in Houston, so she should know about legit Mexican food. You'll spend more time with Diane in a future Food Stories installment.) 

For most of my childhood, Dad and I would share tacos and burritos from Taco Bell. When I was in college, I was introduced to the wonder that is Chipotle. I was one of the news editor for the student paper, The Chimes, and Wednesday night was Chimes night, when we edited and laid out the paper for printing that night, so it could be distributed on Thursday morning. Chimes nights were long, and required more sustenance than we'd get out of the Lohman Complex vending machines. So usually a few people would make a run to the Chipotle on Main Street, and bring back bags overflowing with burritos, bols, and chips and guac. Chipotle was editing fuel. 

My brother loves Mexican food. Many times when we get together for dinner, it's at a Mexican place by his apartment. WE solve problems and talk about sports over never-ending bowls of chips and salsa and our chosen entrees, which, for me, is usually a fajita or a cheese enchilada. 

Mexican food brings memories of family, long nights at the ancient Mac consoles, and my one trip to Texas. It's much more than the chain restaurants we know. 

 I've tried my hand at a few actual Mexican recipes, and they turn out really well--and they're simple. Here's one of my favorites, from Marcella Valladolid's book Mexican Made Easy

Garlicky Buttered Baja Shrimp

From Marcella Valladolid

Serves four

I lb. medium shrimp (15-20 count) in the shell, deveined (You can also make this with peeled shrimp--just omit the step regarding cooking with the shells)

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

salt and black pepper

1/4 c. minced white onion

8 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp. dry white wine

1 tbsp. fresh lime juice

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, or 1 tbsp. dried. (You can also substitute cilantro, if you don't have parsley on hand.) 

 Peel the shrimp and reserve shells. 

 Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and paper. Saute the shrimp until almost fully cooked, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. 

Add the shrimp shells to the skillet and sauté until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Discard the shells. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent and the garlic is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, scrapping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil for one minute. 

Stir in the lime juice and parsley, return the shrimp to the pan, and toss to coat with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary. 

 

You can serve these in a tortilla, or just on their own, but they are delicious in a tortilla. Marcella says you can also make a burrito out of them by adding refried beans to a warm flour tortilla and filling with shrimp. You can also use them in a pasta dish--cook some thin pasta and add the shrimp once the pasta is cooked and drained. Top with fresh cilantro and some olive oil. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 87: Happy birthday, Bryan!

7 Quick Takes, familyEmily DeArdo1 Comment

I. 

Today, my brother turns 30! So in his honor, he's getting my 7QT this week. 

II. 

80s stripes, y'all! 

80s stripes, y'all! 

Bryan is what teachers call a "good kid." He isn't mean or snappy, he gets along well with just about anyone, and can make friends anywhere. I remember when he was in high school, and my family and I were in line at Tim Horton's. A girl came up to us and said, "Excuse me, but are you Bryan's family?" She sounded like she was talking about the Pope, and then proceeded to talk about how great my brother was. We probably all looked at her a bit askance--it's not that Bryan wasn't great, but that we had no idea who this person was. This happens a lot. Bryan's very friendly, and going places with him can be like going places with a mayor. There's always someone who knows him. 

III. 

Halloween in the 90s. 

Halloween in the 90s. 

III. 

Bryan loves sports, but especially football, which makes sense, since he's now a Steelers sportswriter. It's hard to believe, but there was a time when our dad despaired of him ever liking football. Ha. Ha. Those days are gone. Bryan can tell you everything about every single Super Bowl, including the weather at kickoff. He once explained to me football defensive schemes at a restaurant using napkins and peanuts. And his knowledge isn't just about football--he can speak, intelligently, about baseball, hockey, basketball (he does love some Cavaliers basketball), and other sports.

He cut his journalistic teeth on our high school paper and at OSU, writing for the Lantern, and covering the football Buckeyes for the college sports radio network. He also used to dress like Jim Tressel, with a sweater vest, when he went to the press conferences or covered games. It was great.  

IV. 

He doesn't just talk about sports; he plays them. In his life he's played football and soccer, and ran cross country in both high school and college. He loves to run, which, I'm going to tell you, I don't understand, but he's good at it. He's run in the Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, New York (including the one that was cancelled because of Sandy), and Boston Marathons. I think he could've gone to the Olympics, but he disagrees with me, and I guess he'd know--but I think he could have. He's a coach for our high school's cross country team now. 

V. 

Yeah, that's Bryan bawling his head off.....

Yeah, that's Bryan bawling his head off.....

He's great with kids--kids love him, and he loves them. He was a substitute teacher for awhile, and the kids just loved his classes, but he's also great with babies, toddlers, and small fry. 

VI. 

VII.

In addition to all that, he's a great brother. He's a good listener, an excellent clothes shopper (really, he likes to go shopping!), and has given me IV meds a time or two, which is also awesome. The day he was born, I said I wanted a sister, and I got one a few years later--but I'm really glad I have my brother. 

 

My Italian Kitchens

family, food, recipesEmily DeArdo2 Comments

My dad is 100% Calabrese (Calabria is seen above--it's the tip of the boot). His grandmother grew up on Mulberry Street, in NYC's Little Italy, at the turn of the 20th century.  Thus, when my grandparents got married, food was an important part of their household. 

 

My First Communion, April 1990, with my grandmothers: Grandma D is on the left, and Grandma H is on the right. 

My First Communion, April 1990, with my grandmothers: Grandma D is on the left, and Grandma H is on the right. 

One of the things I regret about my life is that I never got to know my Italian grandmother as an adult. She died when I was 20, and she had dementia for the last few years of her life, so I really only got to talk to her to my early teenage years. She scared me a bit a a child, because she was very particular about things. If I got an A on a math test, she'd ask me why I didn't get an A all the time. She didn't have  much of a filter when it came to talking to her family. But as I've grown up, I've realized how much we are actually alike. We both love food and cooking, and entertaining people. She received a college scholarship to study voice, but she couldn't take it. She did beautiful embroidery work. I would've loved for her to teach me how to cook. In a way, I guess, she did. 

Grandma D. certainly instilled a love of food and cooking in me. When I was a small child, we spent the Christmas holiday in Pittsburgh, and Christmas Eve was spent with my Dad's family. Grandma D's house was a great place for kids, because the basement was essentially another house. There was a kitchen down there, a TV, a bathroom, the parlor organ, a player piano, and furniture. A huge storage room held the tins full of Christmas cookies, wrapped in wax paper, that Grandma made all year. In the basement kitchen, my aunts would be peeling, chopping, slicing, and baking, their voices echoing off the concrete floor, which was covered in some sort of rough, fuzzy "carpet" material. The women always looked so happy, surrounded by cutting boards and knives, laughter ringing through the room. I wished I was old enough to help. I missed the Feast of the Seven Fishes, because I was too young. I ate at the kids' table, and we ate pasta. It was good, but it wasn't the magical meal of seafood that I would've loved (even the crazy parts). Her Christmas cookie plates and special desserts are still mentioned with longing by my dad. Mom got a pizelle maker a few years ago, and she'll make them at Christmas. They're a lovely throwback to Christmas at Grandma D's. 

Reggio Calabria 

Reggio Calabria 

When I was about eight or nine, Dad taught me how to cook pasta correctly. Our family al dente is a bit past "regular" al dente. In the Betty Crocker cookbook my mom had received as a wedding gift, Dad had scribbled a gnocchi recipe. He could make it from scratch, and his mom or grandma had probably taught him. We preferred red sauce to just about anything else; being Southern Italian, we didn't use the creamy white sauces of the north. The south is a poorer region not blessed with the dairy goodness of some other parts of Italy. Dad is a red sauce man all the way. I am too, actually. (Well, red sauce woman.) Not only is it easier to make, but it's so versatile. (You'll see what I mean in a second.) 

It's a cliche that food is love, but in this case--it really was. Grandma's affection for us might not have been in typical grandmotherly hugs and kisses and heaped up praise. It was hard, as a kid, to believe she really liked us. :) But now I think I would've understood her a lot better, and I hope we would've cooked together in the upstairs kitchen, overlooking the hills of her property that stretched farther than we could see. 

 

Basic Red Sauce 

yield: 4 cups

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

4 large basil leaves, or a palmful of dried basil. (If fresh, chopped) 

1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, and 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes--both with their juices

Coarse salt (I use kosher salt)

freshly ground black pepper

 

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch over over low heat. Add garlic and cook for 5 minutes. Add half the basil and stir for one minute. Add tomatoes, their juice, and the rest of the basil. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, season with salt and pepper, and let cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally and crushing tomatoes with the back of the wooden spoon. Cool and refrigerate. Use within 3-5 days. 

This basic sauce can be turned into a puttanesca sauce with the addition of red pepper flakes and anchovies. It's great for any shape pasta and reheats beautifully. You can use this for lasagne, too. 

 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes No. 84

7 Quick Takes, books, familyEmily DeArdo1 Comment

I. 

Another Friday, another Quick Takes! Here's what I've been writing about this week:Persuasion: The Last Entry in the Jane Re-Read; Sort of Knitting; Daybook with a Side of Sinus Trouble; Why I'm a Dominican; and  my August Real Housekeeping piece went live!

II.

To follow up on that last one--the sinuses are getting better. I think. Since I caught it early I didn't really have a lot of symptoms, per se. Only things that I, with my crazy knowledge and Spidey Sense, really picked up on. But it's always better to be early than late, when it comes to this sort of stuff. I felt sort of off yesterday so I took it easy, catching up on Netflix and reading. I'm on the second to last Pink Carnation novel and I'm still reading What Matters In Jane Austen and Middlemarch, but I've also started A God In Ruins

III. 

CCD starts this week, which I can't really believe. We used to start in September, so we are starting earlier than usual, but really, it's almost September? Most of the kids have gone back to school here already; in fact, I think they all have. I can't think of any districts that wait to start until next week. I think the football season starts next week, though I'm not sure, because I no longer have siblings in band. Your schedule was basically determined by the band performance/travel/practice/competition/Band Camp schedule. My high school's band was pretty good. I wasn't in it, but my brother and sister were, and they performed in the Macy's, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Rose Bowl, and other parades I'm probably forgetting. Even though I took clarinet lessons as a kid, I was always much more of an indoor girl. (Seriously--marching in rain, snow, wet? NO THANK YOU.)

IV. 

One of the movies in my Netflix queue was Apocalypse Now, which I'd never seen, so naturally I had to watch it. It was intriguing; the end, especially, at Kurtz's compound, was really well done. I wasn't over or underwhelmed. It sort of fit the expectations that I had for it. Martin Sheen did a great job. I also started watching Cleopatra. What was it with these epics in the 50s and 60s, that they feel the need to start with Tedious Narration, and have all these long, drawn-out sequences? People! Come on! No wonder the movie was so expensive to make. I didn't finish it yet, though, so I should probably withhold judgment. I've also got Three Coins in a Fountain, Cinema Paradiso, and From Here to Eternity in the queue. 

V. 

I have bought, officially, one Christmas present for the upcoming season. I always get my dad more or less the same sorts of things, and my brother and sister have birthdays in the fall, so I don't get their Christmas gifts until after their birthdays. Since my sister lives in Texas, anything I get her for Christmas has to be easy to fit in her luggage, if she comes home, or easily mailable, if she can't come home (she's a nurse, so her schedule isn't exactly at her disposal, and she makes more money if she works the holidays, so she doesn't really mind working them, if she can't get out of them.). Gifts for my friends are a whole other story. 

I really love Christmas, so I don't mind thinking about it early. 

VI. 

I'm ready for Fall. Since I was about 16, I guess, I've been ready for fall by the middle of August. I don't know why, in particular. But I got the September Southern Living today, and Reese Witherspoon is in it, wearing all sorts o adorable fall clothes, and I just wanted it to be fall. Football! Hockey! Leaves! Sweaters! My fireplace! Candles! All that stuff! 

(And no, I'm not a pumpkin freak, like so many other people are. I mean, I like them, but not in my coffee or my doughnuts or in my candles....)

I mean, look at these clothes!

Seriously? (And I can't get rid of the "ad" at the bottom, but come on, these clothes, people) I ooooove that cardigan in the bottom right photo. I'm sort of a cardigan freak. And the blue sweater in the cover photo? To die for. Blue, in case you haven't noticed from the design around here, is my favorite color. As another Southern Belle, Shelby, said in Steel Magnolias, "Pink is my signature color." Well, here it's not pink. It's blue. 

(Yes, shades of Sleeping Beauty, right?) 

I love this photo I took at Disney World. This is what goes along with it: 

 

VII. 

And finally....

I have an audition tonight. Hope it goes well!

Seven Quick Takes No. 79--A Trip to Pittsburgh

7 Quick Takes, travelEmily DeArdo2 Comments

It's Friday, so that means Seven Quick Takes! @emily_m_deardo

I.

We spent last weekend and part of this week in Pittsburgh celebrating my grandma's 85th birthday.

Me and Grandma

 We celebrated by taking a dinner cruise on the Gateway Clipper Fleet, which was a great meal and boat ride around the three rivers of Pittsburgh. We sailed by PNC Park, Heinz Field, the Point, and other Pittsburgh landmarks. Quite a bit of the family-- though not all--was there, and it was a fun way to celebrate.

 

Dad and my cousin Diane's youngest child.

II.

One of the best parts was seeing my cousin Diane, and especially meeting her newest baby (above with Dad). She has two older daughters, whom I'd met before, but I'd never met this little guy, who turns 1 in August.

Diane and I with her little guy.

III.

The next day we went to PNC Park to see the Pirates beat the Phillies in extra innings. I'd never been to a Pirates game where they won, so I was pretty excited about that! Dad taught me how to fill out the scorecard that was in the game program, so I feel very educated in the Ways of Baseball. (Sort of. I find baseball always has new ways to confuse me.)

Our seats were behind home plate and under the overhang of the upper deck, so we were in shade, which was great when it was 85+ degrees.

Pirates win and the Parrot takes the mound.

III.

 After the game we had another party at one of my aunt's houses. She has a pool and her husband grilled, and there was, of course, jello marshmallow salad, because it's not a family gathering on my mom's side without jello marshmallow salad.

Kids like cookouts.

These kids....

Grandma received cards and presents, and then there was Bethel Bakery cake, which is the Best Cake in the Universe. Not kidding. Our swimming was curtailed because of a huge thunderstorm that opened up, but that didn't deter the youngest from having fun....

ballooooonnnnns!

IV.

Diane's oldest girl (seen above, in the pink glasses) and I:

Me: So, Susie, what's your favorite movie? Susie: Frozen.

Me: OK. What's your favorite song? Susie: (As if I am deeply, deeply stupid) "Let it Go." Me: Well, there are other songs in the movie. Susie: No there aren't.

V.

Monday we went to Kennywood, where I hadn't been in over ten years, so it was nice to be back, and Diane's husband had never been there at all. Susie and I had fun riding rides, but when I took Bridget on the carousel, she seemed a bit wary, until the ride starting going. She also really enjoyed the ice cream cone.

I had to rescue this ice cream from hitting the pavement more than once.

 VI.

Kennywood really does have things for everyone, which makes it fun, but my grandpa's favorite ride was "The Restaurant", so we had dinner there. It's a large cafeteria style place and it has good food and, the real winning point, air conditioning. It was hot, so we got a lot of water rides under our belts, and then dried off with roller coasters.

VII.

Of course, some of us couldn't handle all the excitement:

Being this cute takes a lot of work.