Emily M. DeArdo



Simplifying the Holidays: The Gift of Presence

essaysEmily DeArdo3 Comments

We're heading into the Holiday Season: Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, etc. All the joy. All the wonder. 


Right? I currently have a very long list of things to do, and some of them need done this week, because my Thanksgiving is shaping up to be busier than my Christmas will be, in terms of guests in town and people I want to see. 

So, while I am doing some things to prepare (making people's favorite chocolate gingerbread, deep cleaning the kitchen floor, and writing out Christmas cards), I want to remember that the most important thing is to FOCUS

I want to give people my presence this holiday. 

That means, putting the phone away (Other than to take photos!). It means engaging in conversation, listening, having fun with people that I love. It means sharing stories and watching Christmas movies together, or playing Euchre, or getting hot chocolate at Barnes and Noble on Black Friday.

Gifts are great, but let's try to really focus on the people around us this holiday. Why are we working ourselves like crazy to get ready, if it's not so we can make magic for people in our lives? 

Let's focus less on magic, and more on memories that don't require a perfect living room, a perfect tree, or the perfect cards. 

Put your phones away. Talk to each other. Engage. Make memories. 

How you spend your time is how you spend your life. Spend it wisely. 



Today is the feast day of Bl. Lucy of Narni. Yes, that Lucy, and that Narni-a. So avoid Turkish Delight, tea with fauns, and any white witches. But you can have tea with the beavers! Read about the real Lucy of Narni here

If you would like a great Advent devotional, may I suggest this one? (I'm editing the Lenten one!) 

And finally, Catholic 101 can be purchased here

Food Stories: Birds and Biscotti

food stories, holidaysEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Since it's Thanksgiving week, I thought I'd share one of my contributions to the Family Feast--Biscotti.

I know, it seems weird, right? But there's reasoning behind it. 

We were going to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving about six or so years ago, and I thought, I want to bring something to the feast, that's not going to risk damage in the car, that's easy to make, and that can be in the car for three hours without going bad. 

This limited my options. But then I thought: biscotti.

As you know, my relatives love coffee after a meal. Coffee and dessert is a big thing. Biscotti are great with coffee--obviously--and they're almost indestructible! Christopher Columbus had them on the Santa Maria, for pete's sake!

So I brought a container of lemon biscotti with me to dinner at my Aunt Mary's. My uncle, who is a great cook and who was making the feast, seemed intrigued. Everyone ate them with relish after dinner, and my uncle even asked for the recipe, which I provided, because I'm nice like that. 

I've made the biscotti a few more times at Thanksgiving, because my dad likes a good coffee dunker, too. And who knows? Maybe they'll reappear this year. 

Citrus Biscotti

from Giada de Laurentiis' Everyday Italian


2 c. all-purpose flour 

3/4 c. fine yellow cornmeal

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt (table salt)

1 c. sugar

3 paige eggs

1 tbsp. grated orange zest (from about one orange)

1 tbsp. grated lemon zest (from about two lemons)

1/2 c. coarsely chopped shelled pistachios (I leave this out, but if you like them, go for it.)


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat baking mat. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until pale yellow and fluffy, about three minutes. Mix in the citrus zests, then the flour mixture, and beat until just blended; the dough will be soft and sticky. Stir in the pistachios, if using. Let stand for five minutes. 

Using a rubber spatula, transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet, forming two equal mounds spaced evenly apart. Moisten your hands with water and shape the dough into two 11X4 inch logs (it doesn't have to be exact). Bake until the logs are lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Cool for five minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the same baking sheet, and bake until the cookies are pale golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool before serving.



* Sometimes I just use lemon zest, because I always have lemons around. But use both, if the spirit strikes you, and you remember to get an orange! 

* Nutritionally, here's the info: each cookie has 53 calories, 0.5 g of fat, 11.1 g of carbs, and 1.2 grams of protein (for some reason I ran the nutritional info on this recipe, and scribbled it in my book. So I'm sharing it!) 


What's your favorite Thanksgiving menu item?