Emily M. DeArdo

writer

Seven Quick Takes--St. Rose and Staycation

7 Quick Takes, travelEmily DeArdo1 Comment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

I.

Today is the Feast Day of St. Rose of Lima, a Dominican Tertiary! She is an excellent saint for our times.

II.

You may have noticed some blog silence round these parts—I tend to blog less in the summer. But we’ll be revving back up again, especially as book news comes out. If you want to know all the book goodness first, then sign up for my mailing list! (No spam. Only fun things. Pinky promise.)

III.

“OK, Emily, enough, tell me about staycation!”

OK.

So, we went to Colorado for my sister’s wedding in June, but, as you know if you’ve had a family wedding lately, they’re fun, but they’re work too—you have to make sure your clothing gets to the place unmolested, that your shoes fit, that the priest shows up, etc. etc. etc. And that you didn’t forget anything two thousand miles away. And I’d just finished the first draft of the manuscript. So yeah, I was beat when June was over!

I finally decided that I wanted to take a ‘staycation’ in August. I’d never done it, but it sounded like fun.

I made this a really cheap staycation. I did not have a masseuse come to my house, I didn’t hire a cleaning service to clean my house, and I didn’t get a room in a hotel (all of these are actual staycation suggestions I found on the internet. OK, folks. The hotel one was the only one I didn’t think was really out there. If you want someone to clean your house, fine, and that’s legit, but….as a staycation? I guess….anyway, I digress!)

I set a limited budget, and made a plan. That budget would encompass everything I wanted to do, just like a real vacation, except I was staying in town. Columbus has a lot of fun things! When my family goes on vacation to the beach, we normally eat out for one meal, and have the others at our beach house; I have a nice tea/coffee break in the afternoon; and I do a lot of reading. So all those things were incorporated as well.

IV.

Monday was sort of the planning day. Tuesday was when I ventured forth!

The first place I went was Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. They had several exhibits I wanted to see—a Chihuly installation (above and beyond what the conservatory already has, which is a lot), Blooms and Butterflies (where they release hundreds of butterflies into the Pacific Island Room), and a bonsai exhibit. It would also be a great time to sketch! So I packed up my sketching stuff and headed off to the conservatory.

(To see the gallery photos, swipe or use your arrow keys!)


I’ll have to take photos of my sketchbook pages so I can show you what I did.

It’s always a lot of fun going here. There are different “biomes”—Himalayan Mountains, Rainforest, Desert, and the Pacific Island Water Garden. The Bonsai exhibit was held in a different gallery, where it was very hot, because, glasshouse and it was 90 degrees. But it was still fun. I ate lunch here and grabbed a butterfly shaped silicone tea infuser to replace my tea balls that keep BREAKING!

After I had lunch and finished sketching, I went home, made some tea, read a bit, and then went swimming after dinner.


V.

Wednesday I took a trip to German Village. German Village is, as the name suggests, an area of town that was founded by German Immigrants in the 19th century. Many of the streets are still paved with bricks, and the houses showcase the original architecture. It’s also home to some of the city’s best eating!

I went to Schmidt’s, which was founded in 1886 and serves some pretty epic sausage. The thing about Schmidt’s is they don’t take reservations. So you either get here right when it opens at 11, you eat at off-times, or you just wait. OR, you come alone, like I did, and you eat at the bar, where there is usually no wait! Yay!

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After Schmidt’s, I headed to a local coffee shop and then to The Book Loft, which is an incredible independent bookstore built into an old house (or several!). It’s amazing. You could spend hours here, and you get all your steps in wandering around! :) Before cell phones it was interesting to go here with a group—you just sort of had to hope you’d find each other again. I think every book is 5% off, and some are really marked down, like more than half, or even 75%, so you can always find good deals here, and books that other places won’t have. It’s a little bit addictive. I sketched the fountain in their courtyard, and came home with some awesome Wizard of Oz magnets.

(If, somehow, you have missed my addiction to The Wizard of Oz— I have one.)


VI.

Yesterday I had tea with my friend Mary before she goes off to graduate school, and that was delicious, as always. (Cambridge Tea House is the best!)

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I also watched To Kill A Mockingbird and started watching Wizard, because it’s turning 80 on Sunday!

VI.

So that was my ‘staycation’. Today is the last day, and I’m having lunch with my dad this afternoon, which we do just about every week and I enjoy. (Last week it was lunch and shopping with mom, which was equally enjoyable!) This afternoon I’ll probably sketch a bit and knit and…do laundry. Which is part of a week-long vacation, anyway. :)

So that’s how I staycationed! Have you ever done this? Any questions about how I did it? Really, once I made a list of all the things I could do in town, it was hard to choose! (I might do one more thing tomorrow before Mass. We’ll see!




Living the Church Year: Assumption Party!

Catholicism, food, hospitalityEmily DeArdoComment

So we’re gonna start with the real-ness, here:

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Realness, people. It’s even blurry because I was tired, sorry bout that. :)

But also the sign of a good party, if there are lots of dishes and plates and cutlery and cups in the sink…..it means people ate and drank and made merry!

So, when I wrote about Feasting last week, I didn’t mean multiple courses and all sorts of fancy dinner accoutrements and fancy things like that.

No. What I meant was a dinner in your home with other people!

It doesn’t have to be complicated! You don’t have to have everything perfect!

Let me tell you what I did.

First: Invite the people

My table only seats four adults (unless I put the leaf in, which is at my parents’ house). So inviting three people was the max I could do for a sit down dinner. I checked with my friends, we picked a day that worked, which was also the day before the Assumption, so, Assumption Party!

Otherwise it would’ve been a late St. Dominic’s Day Party. :) OR a something something feast day party. :) We’re good at naming things around here.

Second: Figure out the menu

I didn’t want to make anything terribly elaborate. I always make Guinness Cake for dessert….

The cake, in mom’s cake stand, which she lent me! Thanks, mom!

The cake, in mom’s cake stand, which she lent me! Thanks, mom!

For dinner, I made Rachael Ray’s Drunken Tuscan Pasta, which is really yummy, and easy to serve to people. I don’t always like making pasta for a dinner party because you can’t really make it ahead. But then as I was making this, I remembered why I like it—it’s just so dang good. (I”ll give you the recipe.)

Third: Delegate

I didn’t do all of this myself. One of the guests brought sparkling water and a bottle of wine, and another brought the makings of an appetizer and a big, lovely salad, which she made at my place. It was so fun having someone to cook with in my kitchen! It’s so much more convenient here than it was at the old place, because I have an island instead of a “peninsula” sort of thing, so people can cook in multiple places!

Fourth: Make a plan

I wrote out my list of ingredients and went grocery shopping a week before (and then two days before, for the things I had to get sort of fresh, like the portobello tops) . The cake can be—indeed should be—made the day before, so I did that. That way all I had to do was cook the pasta when people were here. A few hours before everyone’s arrival I chopped rosemary, sliced mushrooms, and portioned out red pepper flakes into my little prep bowls. This just makes everything easier when people get there.

Fifth: Try to make it pretty

“try” being the key word here….

I used my pasta serving bowls, which I got at Crate and Barrel eons ago, but are perfect for this. I even dug out place mats and real napkins, because, hey, why not?



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And finally….

It doesn’t have to be perfect!

I didn’t have wine glasses. People drank wine out of mugs! It was FINE! We used the same forks for salad and pasta! It was fine! (We did have different forks for the cake, though, because I had enough for that!)

The house was spic and span because it was the first party in the new hours, and we had house blessing (one of the guests was a priest) and the guests hadn’t seen Orchard House before so I wanted it to look nice. But really, I still didn’t go nuts. I didn’t polish all the fixtures until they sparkled. I didn’t freak out about water spots on the windows from a rain storm.

The point of a party is to get together and have fun and celebrate!

So, yes, make sure your house isn’t, you know, unsafe! :) Make sure it’s hygenic! :)

Make sure it’s comfortable, that people have places to sit, but really, don’t worry about everything looking like House Beautiful because it’s not going to happen!

And even if I didn’t make dinner and we just had Chipotle take out, it would’ve been fun. If the food doesn’t turn out, or you burn it, get a pizza and just chill. It’ll be fine.

I’ve found that having people over to share food and conversation (and prayer!) is a great way to build community, to bolster your feelings, to feel that you’re not alone, and that living the Christian life is a pretty great thing to do. We need community!

So go out there and plan a party!

St. Dominic, the Innkeeper, and Twenty-First Century Preaching

Catholicism, essays, politics, DominicansEmily DeArdoComment
El Greco,  St. Dominic in Prayer

El Greco, St. Dominic in Prayer

There’s a story about St. Dominic that’s familiar to every Dominican, and I think it has important implications for us today.

Here’s how the Nashville Dominicans tell the story on their website:

Two years later a diplomatic trip brought Dominic into the Albi region of Southern France. A strong zeal for the salvation of souls was enkindled when the young canon encountered an innkeeper who was steeped in the errors of the Catharists, a heresy which threatened the region. Although other religious had been commissioned to preach in the region, little progress had been made. After a long night of intense discussion, the light of truth prevailed and the innkeeper returned to the practice of the faith.


So let’s break this down. Think of a hotel. Imagine you’re in the lobby, getting something to drink before you go to bed, and you start making small talk with the desk clerk. You discover that he’s an agnostic.

You have a few options:

Don’t say anything. Just smile and say good night, but mentally pray for him.

Share that you’re Catholic. Don’t go any father.

Tell him that he’s going to Hell.

Say that you’re Catholic and spend the rest of the night trying to browbeat him into submission!


What did St. Dominic do? He talked to the innkeeper. All night. You can imagine that it wasn’t full of highly charged statements (like, hey, you’re going to Hell! Good night!) or polemics. It was probably logical—because we Dominicans love study—and it was probably methodical. And it was also probably gentle. I doubt the innkeeper would’ve stayed up all night if St. Dominic was banging him over the head with proofs!

There’s nothing wrong with a good discussion, including one that gets a little exciting.

My siblings and I are all half-Italian. When we have discussions, we get loud. We get boisterous. We use our hands! For people new to way we converse, you can think we’re arguing. (Growing up, our mother, who is not Italian, often told us to stop arguing. “We’re not arguing! We’re talking!”) St. Dominic was Spanish, so I wonder if he used his hands, too. Maybe!

But there’s a distinction between passionate arguing and getting personal. And on St. Dominic’s Feast Day, that’s what I want to talk about.

St. Dominic (detail) from “Christ Mocked with the Virgin and St. Dominic,” Fra Angelico

St. Dominic (detail) from “Christ Mocked with the Virgin and St. Dominic,” Fra Angelico


One of the mottos of the Dominican order is “Veritas”—truth. We love truth. We live to spread the truth of the Gospel all over the world! And that’s part of the reason we study, so that we can know what the truth is. Truth isn’t about what you think is true, or a “personal truth". (for example, children believe that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny exist. We could call that their “personal truths.” )

Truth is verifiable. Truth can be known. Sometimes, yes, there is mystery! We will never understand everything—and we’re not meant to. Some things are just beyond our reach on this earth. But we know the truth of faith because it’s able to be studied. It’s able to be seen. We believe in the truth of Jesus Christ. At Mass every week, we say the “credo”—”I believe”. This isn’t what just I believe, or what you believe, or what the pope beliefs, or what Fr. Patrick up on the altar believes. It’s what we have always believed, as a people, a family of faith.

If you are Catholic, you have to know what you believe, and why you believe it—and you have to assent to it. You can’t just say, well, that’s fine for you, but I don’t believe in Transubstantiation. (You would be….wrong!) I don’t believe in the Church’s definition of marriage. I don’t believe in Hell. Etc.

Truth is truth whether you believe in it or not. People believed the earth was flat—but it wasn’t. People believed that slaves weren’t people—but they were. People believe that unborn babies aren’t people—but they are. See how this goes?

It goes without saying that the truth needs to be spread far and wide. That’s part of what Dominicans do.

But, the question is “how to do it.” As the Wicked Witch of the West said, “These things must be handled delicately.” We can’t be too nice that we deny people the truth—because the truth sets them free, and truth is the best thing you can give someone! But we also can’t be so awful and hard-core that we turn people away from hearing the truth and listening to it.

Let’s take a story from the Bible. It’s one that’s familiar to everyone—the story of the woman caught in adultery. I’m going to quote it here, so we can all have it freshly before us:

John 8:3-11

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in their midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”


Do not sin again. That’s the crux, really. We are all sinners. Every single one of us. I am, you are, everyone. None of us is without sin. But Jesus doesn’t say to the woman, “Oh, what you did is fine. Go ahead, go home, it’s all good.” He said, I don’t condemn you. But don’t sin again. That’s what happens when we go to confession—we have to promise to try not to sin again. We can’t just think, oh, I can do what I want, because confession!

Jesus loves us more than we can possibly imagine. And because he does, he doesn’t want us to keep messing up. It makes him sad! Do parents like it when their kids make bad choices? No! But are they angry? Maybe. Are they disappointed and sad? I think this is probably more likely. (I mean, they might be angry at first. But I think then it becomes more sad/disappointed.)

When we discuss heated issues in the twenty-first century, we are not good about being gentle about it, like Jesus is here. Now, yes, Jesus also turned over tables in the temple. Sometimes we can be righteously angry. I get righteously angry whenever I talk about disabilities or abortion. That’s my thing. But if I slip and start calling people names, or want to incite violence against them, I am sinning.

We can be preachers of the word. We have to be, both preachers of the word and doers of it. We have to live the life of Christ. Sometimes that means standing up for people. Sometimes that means living a quiet life of witness. Sometimes it means both!

If you want to make your point, if you want to convert people, you aren’t going to do it, usually, by violence or hatred or name calling. We need to stop doing that. We need to do it like St. Dominic did it—gently, with facts, with truth, and then….step back. See how it goes. Conversions aren’t instantaneously. St. Dominic famously cried, “Oh Lord, what will become of sinners?” He cared about them. He didn’t just want to score a point like in a college debate match. He didn’t want to just win. He wanted the other person to see the truth because it would save them.

Politics in America has always been nasty (see the Election of 1800!). But we must stop seeing each other as enemies across a divide. We have to state our position, but also realize that we can be friends with people who don’t vote the way we do. In fact, we are required to love them.

I know things get heated in the public realm. I worked in politics for 10 years. I saw it, up close and personal. We cannot want to kill our opponents, guys. We can’t approve the shooting of congressmen and women because the victim disagreed with us! What kind of people will we be then?

A story was told to me by the first legislative aide I worked with, who had been in the senate a long time. She said that senators used to argue like crazy on the floor, and then go out to dinner together. They were friends with each other. That was becoming rarer and rarer

Christianity isn’t a religion for wimps. Jesus doesn’t ask us to be a doormat. He asks us—and St. Dominic shows us how—to preach the truth, to live the truth with our lives, to pray for our enemies. We can have discussions—even loud Italian ones! We can be passionate! I’ve always been passionate when talking about the Church.

But there’s a fine line between being passionate, and being so whipped up into a frenzy that you can’t see the human being on the other side.

St. Dominic saw the humanity in the people he met. That’s what drove him to preach—his concern for them and his love for Christ.

Does the same thing compel us?




August yarn along--a bit of lace

yarn along, knitting, booksEmily DeArdo2 Comments

linking up with Ginny!



So, on Sunday I decided to try working on a basic lace pattern. I have to do lacework for my Find Your Fade shawl, and when I first tried it in January, I was really confounded by it! So I’ve been working on smaller projects to try to get the hang of it.

This is a horseshoe lace pattern bookmark…..

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You can see why it’s called horseshoe!

This really isn’t hard. I know it looks hard! But the twisting happens just naturally as the way the pattern is written. The problem for me right now is that this isn’t knitting you can sort of pay attention to—you have to pay attention the whole time. The pattern repeats in sets of 8, but if you miss a row, interesting things happen. (Ask me how I know this….)

The pattern called for size 3 needles, which I don’t have, so I used size 4, and the yarn is from my feile shawl. It was just too pretty to sit in my stash!

These are long bookmarks. They don’t look this long in the pattern photo, but trust me, they are….

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As for what I’m reading….

I’ve read The Lambs * before, and it’s just great. If you love stories about animals, the natural world, family relationships and….sheep, you’ll really like it!


I’ve also got this big stack—one library book, three pleasure reading novels, and a whole bunch of books for the Well-Read Mom year….


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There are two more books for the year that I haven’t gotten yet, and two more that I already have and are on my shelves—The Picture of Dorian Gray and Little Women. (Of course I have Little Women! My house is named after their house!)

I’ve also created a list that sums up all the knitting projects in the pipeline right now—a baby blanket, a scarf (new pattern! Exciting! I don’t actually have a long scarf for me to use in the winter!), my Find Your Fade shawl—I’ll at least do the set up section again and get that on the needles—and a cowl I’ve been wanting to make forever!


Feast, Feast, Feast!

CatholicismEmily DeArdoComment

Guys, it’s AUGUST!

And that means that it’s time to FEAST!

The Church calendar is just jam packed with feasts in August! This week we had…

Dedication of St. Mary Major (yesterday)

The Transfiguration (today)

Thursday is the feast of St. Dominic! (A feast for me, because, DOMINICAN POWER!)

And then we have the feast day of St. Edith Stein, and Maximilian Kolbe, and the Assumption is next week…..

It’s all happening!

Part of living the Catholic life is living liturgically, which means to fast when the Church fasts….and to FEAST when the Church feasts!

Remember to do that! It’s not just about the penance and the fasting! It’s about joy, too!

So be sure to celebrate!

Raphael, The Transfiguration

Raphael, The Transfiguration


I’m having an Assumption Party next week, so I’ll share all those details with you, to give you an idea of a feast you can have at home with pals.

But really, be sure you celebrate the days that are important to you. Celebrate your confirmation saint’s day! Celebrate the Holy Days and the Feasts! Join the Church in her party!



Seven Quick Takes--Easing Into August

7 Quick Takes, books, food, recipes, Seven Quick Takes, the bookEmily DeArdo2 Comments
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

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Hiya, August! Whew!

This summer has been sort of intense, at least June, and then July was sort of decompression, and now it’s August! In some places around here, the kids go back to school in two weeks!

So here’s what going on around Orchard House….

-II-

My city has a farmer’s market every week in the summer and then once a month the rest of the year (it’s indoor then, too). And now I live essentially three minutes away from it, so yesterday I decided to check it out. There’s a vendor that sells meat from his farm! That made me really happy, so I bought a brisket (which I’ve never cooked, but hey, why not), and a pound of ground beef. I also bought tomatoes and candy onions, and I should’ve gotten a LOT more tomatoes so I could make sauce, but…..next week!

Fortunately the market runs weekly through September, so I have two months to stock up on stuff. Looking forward to that.

-III-

I also made a few new recipes this week. I don’t really like to cook in the summer, but somehow in August my brain switches over and says, OK, we can cook now. No idea why. So I’ve made a few good things this week, all Barefoot Contessa recipes: chicken thighs in creamy mustard sauce (I subbed light sour cream for the creme fraiche), Israeli Couscous and Tuna Salad, and Raspberry Crumble Bars.

The topping is granola and some of the shortbread base.

The topping is granola and some of the shortbread base.

-IV-

In book news: I have a copy edited manuscript, and now I have to go over it to see if I want to make any changes (or to catch any glaring errors). So that’s due next week. It’s so weird to re-read what I’ve written…..I hope I don’t think it’s all awful and want to chuck it out. :-p

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We’re in a really busy section of the church year—there are so many feasts and saints’ days in August! And St. Dominic is next week!


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Here’s a look at the state of the To Read Stack:

WHEW!

WHEW!

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Also, if you’re looking for some daily spiritual reading, check out A Year With the Mystics. It’s not out until next month, but through an Amazon glitch, I got my pre-ordered copy early!



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It’s so beautiful, and it’s making for wonderful spiritual reading!

A Chatty Seven Quick Takes

7 Quick Takes, books, knitting, Seven Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelly!

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This is for my musical theater nerds!

I was thinking this week what the best Rodgers and Hammerstein musical is. (show, not film. In that category it’s definitely The Sound of Music, because it’s a fabulous film and I think it makes the original material better.) My vote is for Carousel, by a smidge (because I do like South Pacific); my dad supports South Pacific, and there was a vote for The King and I.

I think Carousel is the best for a few reasons: a fabulous leading man part; four good female roles (Julie, Carrie, Nettie, and Mrs. Mullins); a glorious score; and good use of chorus. The chorus actually has opportunities to do things often, as opposed to The King and I.

Is it perfect? No. I don’t think we need “Stonecutters” (and I think that was axed from the last Broadway revival), the whole “yes, someone can hit you and it doesn’t hurt at all” thing (eeeeek!), and the ballet can be too long. But, I think that we wouldn’t have had West Side Story, or Fiddler, or really any sort of true musical drama, without Carousel.

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I started working with my Colonial Williamsburg yarn this week. Some of you may remember my extra special Yarn Along about that, and it’s taken me two years to figure out what to do with the yarn! So I’m going to do something simple, but, hopefully, historically accurate. I’m making a scarf, with slipped stitch edges, on size 8 needles. I didn’t want to do it on big needles because they didn’t have big (like, size 12) needles in Colonial times, I don’t think. But this yarn is thick, so I couldn’t do it on a small needle, like a size 5 or below. So I thought a scarf would be a practical, Colonial thing, and I have a lot of yarn, so it’ll be nice and long and warm.

The source of my yarn! Leicester Longwool sheep!

The source of my yarn! Leicester Longwool sheep!


-III-

Reading: I read Where the Crawdads Sing, * and I LOVED IT. I really want to discuss it with someone! Highly recommend it.

I’m currently reading about five million things, but I’m also really liking Greek to Me, * because it appeals to two sides of my personality: A love of ancient Greek myth and culture, and word nerdiness. And book nerdiness!

-IV-

A note on the Mueller hearings, but a NON POLITICAL ONE!

One of the things that bothered me about the coverage was that people kept saying that Mueller needed questions repeated, like this was somehow a slam on his intelligence or “with it”-ness.

Guys. No.

I am crazy sensitive about this, because, hello, hearing impaired. I hate asking people to repeat themselves because I know they’re thinking I’m a dim bulb, or not paying attention, or flaky, or something. But really, I want to make sure I understood you!

I don’t know if Robert Mueller is hearing impaired. But I do know that we really, really should stop thinking that if someone asked for something to be repeated, that they’re stupid or cognitively challenged or whatever.

-V-

Nothing new on the book front yet. But please sign up for the mailing list! Then you get all the delicious news first and there might be fun things for subscribers! (Well, there are fun things—two printables I designed—but maybe more than that, who knows!) Sign up!

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July is like sports doldrums. Sigh. Once Wimbledon is over I just languish until sports pick up again in August. I don’t really like the NBA, and I’m a Pirates fan, so that’s sort of like constant baseball futility, but oh well. August and football will be here soon!

-VII-

I also joined a book club! Well, I’ve done it before. It’s called Well Read Mom, but this time, I looked into joining a group in my area, and there is one! Yay! I really miss discussing books with folks. I’m obviously not a mom, but any lady can join these! I love this book club because it’s not just current lit. There’s spiritual reading, plays, essays, novels….all sorts of things! It delights my little heart. (And this year Little Women is one of the books, which is so appropriate for my Orchard House dwelling soul!) Have you ever joined a book club or wanted to?

*==I’m an Amazon affiliate, so if you buy a book through these links, I get a tinnnny bit of money, which helps keep the lights on over here! :)


Seven Quick Takes--writing, pro-life ministry, and Washer Monster

7 Quick Takes, Take Up and Read, life issues, the book, knittingEmily DeArdo1 Comment
seven quick takes.jpg

Linking up with Kelli!

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Around these parts this week:

Doing the best you can with what you have

Prime Day deals—Prime Day is over, but if you haven’t checked in with Take Up & Read lately, we have a lot of gorgeous studies! Maybe it’s time to start Christmas shopping?




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This is sort of a…well, a sad take. But.

On Twitter this week I saw a woman writing about how she didn’t know how to get a casket for her miscarried child.

The Trappist monks of New Melleray Abbey provide infant and child caskets free to families.

Free. Gratis. No charge.

Go here, and scroll down to “child”, and select a size.

These are beautiful handmade caskets. In addition to the caskets, the monks will plant a memorial tree for your child, and remember your child in a special Mass. The parents also receive a keepsake cross made of th same wood as the casket.

If you need one IMMEDIATELY, call them at:

888-433-6934

They answer the phone 24 hours a day.

They also have a child casket fund, where people can donate to support this ministry, here.

This is such a beautiful service they provide. I know it’s terribly hard to think about, but I have had friends who have lost children to miscarriage. This makes one part of it easier—you don’t have to make your child’s casket or fumble around at a funeral home. The monks will do it, beautifully, for free.




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The book skips along! It’s done with copy edits so my editor has it now and is working on it. No cover art yet but the minute I have it I’ll share with you (subscribers find out first!)




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This week I finished a long linen scarf I knit to use in the summer. I love it. It’s a gorgeous color. So I went to block it in my washing machine. I had run a test piece of linen before and it came out fine so I thought I’d be fine this time.

NOPE.

Washer Monster wanted to eat it.



But my lovely maintenance man here saved it! Yay!



Yay! It’s saved!

Yay! It’s saved!

I’m always amazed at how well linen blocks. It’s just great. Such a difference!


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I’m on an Emily Blunt movie binge lately. I watched The Devil Wears Prada and A Quiet Place this week and I’m going to watch Mary Poppins Returns tonight. (My movie BF Colin F. is in it too. I do love his movies.)

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Sometimes we live in Hoth, here in Ohio, and sometimes it’s in the 90s with a heat index giving us a temp of 114. Yeah, it’s that day. So, movie binging and working on house projects today!

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It feels hard to believe that July is half over and that Target has school supply displays up. When do the schools in your area go back? Ours tend to go back in the middle of August now, but they get out before June.




















Doing The Best You Can With What You Have

CF, health, transplantEmily DeArdo1 Comment
Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as the Great Wave, from the series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjurokkei)”

Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as the Great Wave, from the series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjurokkei)”

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, who, like me, has had some health problems. And we were talking about how the things you do to save your life can later come back and have unplanned consequences.

“I’m dealing with that right now,” I said. We talked a bit more about how frustrating this is—but then we asked, Would we have changed anything?

And the answer is, probably not.

So I thought I’d write about this.

*

After my clinic visits, we always have to wait for blood test results. One of them that we’ve been watching lately is called the A1c, which I talked about in the last post. Basically, it’s a batting average for your blood sugar. And ever since I entered menopause it’s been going up….and up….and up.

This is not good. The more sugar is in your blood, the more that can lead to lots of problems. Problems that I don’t want.

This isn’t CF related diabetes, because my pancreas still works. (I don’t take enzymes to digest my food, so that’s how we know….) But at the same time, my body is clearly becoming insulin resistant.

I’ve been on steroids for 14 years. So the thought is that steroids + menopause=unhappy A1c.

Now, I can’t go off steroids. I’m on a low dose—5 mg a day. There is a 2.5 mg dose. And I might try that. But the problem is, my body has adjusted to them, and my joints, especially like prednisone. A lot. I had CF related arthritis before my transplant and that is helped a lot by the prednisone. I notice when I miss a dose. So when I tried to go off prednisone a few years ago, my body said, “nope.”

Why am I on prednisone? Because I had a transplant.

Which saved my life.

But we know that prednisone has a lot of side effects.

*

Another area where side effects come to play? Cancers. We’ve talked about that a lot here.

And, not pred related, but med related—my hearing loss.

So, these are all things that have happened as a result of staying alive.

But—what were my choices?

Well, to take the meds, or die. Really. It was that stark, in a lot of cases.

So I decided to take the meds. And live with the side effects.

And that can be sort of sucky, to be honest. Because you do things to save your life, but then…there are consequences, and you have to be ready to deal with those. It’s a long-term gamble.

But, and I said this to my friend, we do the best we can with the information we have. We can’t think about 5, 10, 15 years down the road when we’re looking down the barrel of the gun right now.

If you’re in that situation, I know how you feel. I know it’s hard not to google and think about the future. But really, in my opinion, the best thing to do is to talk to your doctors, see what the options are, and then go with what is best—for you, for the situation, for what needs to happen to achieve a good outcome.

Does that mean you’ll be thrilled with what you have to do? Well, no. I’m not thrilled that I’m injecting myself with five units of insulin every night. But it could be worse.

This is what I have to do to stay alive—to see year 15, year 16, year 17….post-transplant.

Now, are there things I won’t do? Yeah. I’ve always said I wouldn’t go for a third transplant. That, to me, is a bridge too far.

But right now, I take the insulin, I adjust my diet, and I do the best I can with what I have.

Prime Day Savings on Take Up And Read Studies!!

Take Up and ReadEmily DeArdo2 Comments

Hi everyone!

As you know, I write for the Take Up & Read bible studies, headed by the amazing Elizabeth Foss. And since it’s Prime Day (today, July 15 AND tomorrow July 16!), you can save $5 on our studies!

Use the code PRIMEBOOK19 to save $5 on any book over $15!

This would be great for Christmas shopping or getting yourself the studies that you missed!

I really am so proud to be a part of this ministry and to see the beautiful work that we do in the hopes of getting more people to read Scripture. If you haven’t tried a book, pick one and try it now? Sales are so rare, so take advantage of this one!

Here we are all our titles:

Our first study, Consider the Lilies

Second: Stories of Grace

Third: Ponder, our rosary book, and my personal favorite! There is also Ponder FOR KIDS!!! :)

There’s True Friend, our study on Biblical friendship!



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Flourish is our study on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Call Me Blessed focuses on St. John Paul II’s Letter to Women and examples of Biblical Womanhood.

And our most recent study, Better Together, about hospitality.





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Trust, Courage, Faith, and Transplants

Catholicism, essays, transplantEmily DeArdo1 Comment
Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you. --Matthew 9_22.png

I had a holy hour last week before Mass, and as I was paging through my Magnificat, I noticed a few things.

Do you see them, too?


Matthew 9:1-8

The Healing of a Paralytic. He entered a boat, made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings.


And here….

Matthew 9:18-26

The Official’s Daughter and the Woman with a Hemorrhage. While he was saying these things to them, an official came forward, knelt down before him, and said, “My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples.  A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak.  She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”  Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” And from that hour the woman was cured.

 When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion,  he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they ridiculed him. When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose.  And news of this spread throughout all that land.


Do you see it?

Before Jesus heals these people, he tells them to have courage.

A lot of people tell me I am brave.

I am not brave.

Doing what you have to do to keep on breathing is not brave. It’s necessary. Now, granted, I had to make the choice to go for transplant. If I hadn’t done that, then I wouldn’t be sitting here, writing this, precisely fourteen years later. In fact, as I write this (at 10:47 a.m.), fourteen years ago, I was in the OR. My surgery began around 6:45 in the morning (at least that’s when the epidural started, I think). So, yes, I made the decision to go for transplant. Was that brave? I don’t know. I don’t personally think so.

Really, though, a lot of the time, I did not feel brave. I did not have the courage Jesus is telling these people to have.

But as I looked at these verses, I thought, this is right. They need courage for what’s about to happen. Because it’s scary, to be suddenly plunged into a world you didn’t think was possible, something you had hoped for, but didn’t think would actually happen. It’s sort of terrifying.

These people had faith that Jesus could cure them. And I had faith, too. I’ve always had it. I’ve never doubted my faith. But did I have courage? Did I trust Jesus?

Ah. That’s the slow growing bloom of faith. Faith is the seed. But courage and trust? That’s later. That’s a result. It’s the result of a lot of dark nights and lots of tears and feelings of this is never going to happen.

And I can say that even if I hadn’t been transplanted. Remember, God is always good. I would’ve been cured, either in heaven, or here on earth. And I was lucky that I got my miracle here. Some people aren’t as lucky as I was. That’s the sobering fact.

Throughout, though, Jesus tells us to have courage, because something is happening. And it might be something great. But in the moment, there is fear. There is death, as we see with the little girl. But then…

life.

Even if it’s life on the other side of death. We know how this story ends. We know that death is not the winner.

Trust in Jesus sounds great, and it is great, but until you’ve really had to surrender your will, to say I have no control over this—that’s when you need the courage. It takes courage to trust in God.

Jesus knew that. And I think that’s why he tells these people to have it, to grasp it, to be strong in the moment. Because in the moment when the miracle happens, you might feel like you’re going to drown—save me, Lord, I’m perishing!

If I look brave, it’s really because Jesus gives me the courage to take the steps forward. It’s not my courage at all. It’s his.

My Dominican saint is Bl. Lucy of Narni—and yes, she’s the one C.S. Lewis used as inspiration for both the name “Narnia” and Lucy Pevensie. I’ve always loved Lucy. But remember, Aslan tells Lucy, “Courage, dear heart.”

We need to be reminded to have courage, to keep trusting.


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Day In the Life: Yearly Transplant Testing

CF, health, transplantEmily DeArdo1 Comment
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I thought that I’d give you a little glimpse into a day at clinic, but in order to get the most bang for your reading buck, I chose do chronicle a day where I do yearly testing—as in, clinic, blood draws, X-rays, CT scan, and a DEXA (bone density) screening. So come along with me on Monday’s trip….

6:30 am: Alarm goes off.

7:20 am: Out the door, to the hospital!

It’s not raining! Yay!

It’s not raining! Yay!


The hospital is only 12 miles away form my place, so that makes it easy to get there, but morning rush hour can be a beast. Fortunately, it’s not bad, and I get to the parking garage at 7:45, after being asked for the nth time if I’m a visitor. No, I am a patient. Deep sigh.

Excellent parking!

Excellent parking!

The hospital has a nature theme, so there are lots of animals and other nature-ish things around. In case you can’t tell, those big green things are acorns.

7:50: Heading to Crossroads Registration

dooooown the long hallways.

dooooown the long hallways.

I passed this bunny on the way in:

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Registration is in the middle of the hospital complex and sometimes it can be a pain. But there was a nice lady behind the desk, the kiosks worked, I had my wrist band, and was on my way to infusion for my first appointment….




Up we go!

Up we go!

The tower building used to be the main hospital—I’ve spent a lot of time here. :) The fourth floor (4AE) where infusion is is where the adult CF floor used to be. It’s where I almost died and it’s where I waited the night my transplant came.

The 4th floor is also home—or was—to the PICU. So yeah, the fourth floor has lots of great memories. (Seriously, some are good. Most are….not.)

It does, however, have a good vending machine.

Anyway!

8:00 Infusion

In the waiting room—Muppet Babies on TV.

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Great view, huh?

Great view, huh?

Since I was early, I got taken back early—yay!—into one of the rooms. Like I said, these used to be patient rooms. Now they’re smaller. Most of infusion is separated by walls and curtained off areas, but since I’m a transplant patient I go into an actual room.

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Sometimes infusions last for hours. Really, the reason I go to infusion isn’t to get meds, it’s to get my port accessed for blood draws. So the room has a bed, and the other areas have recliners, if you’re staying. I’m not. This is an in and out thing.

My great nurse comes in and sets things up….


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Fortunately no vitamin levels today, so only three tubes. We could not get that out of my veins. So—port!

The blurry part is the strips that have my ID number on them and get attached to various things when the blood goes to the lab.

And yes, everyone must wear PPE—personal protective equipment—when they access the port. Gowns, gloves, masks, and hair nets. It’s like we’re doing surgery here.

So, we’re running ahead of the game, but then my port decides to be dumb, so we have to wrestle with it for ten minutes, but finally it cooperates and we get the blood. Then we flush the line with saline and heparin, and de-access me. Yay!

I am free to go back down to the main floor!

Hallway out to the waiting room.

Hallway out to the waiting room.


Doooown we go.

Doooown we go.

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This used to be part of the old ER—the parking lot to the right is where we dropped me off the night of my transplant.

(Bunnies ahead!)

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This used to be “main” radiology, and the little hallway you see above used to run between radiology and the ER. This also used to be the main hospital through way—if you went to the end of this hallway you’d reach the main lobby. But I digress!

I’ve been coming to this part of the hospital for twenty-six years. It’s very familiar.

As is this hallway, but now they’re changing it! I don’t know what to do ! :-p




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8:40 AM: Chest X-ray

So I have my probably five millionth chest x-ray (that’s a conservative estimate), before which I ran into my post-transplant buddy Amber, who is also going to clinic. It’s always fun to see friends!

So, out of radiology, heading toward clinic, and passing the fish tank and the satellite gift shop.

(Yes. There are two gift shops)

Sharkbait!

Sharkbait!

Past the coffee bar….


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To the elevators, and up to good old fifth floor CF clinic! :) Also been coming through this door for 35 years. :)

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9:00 AM: Clinic

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This is where I spent the bulk of my time. On a “yearly” clinic day, everyone comes in: the doctors, the dietician, the social workers—and things get a little more in-depth. (Not so much on the doctor end, since I see him every three months.)

*The dietician asks me to talk about what I normally eat: meals and snacks. She’ll then give suggestions. Right now, we’re dealing with weight loss and the silly A1c levels (more on that in a bit), so we want to make sure I’m eating the right combination of things. She made some suggestions, I asked some questions, and it took about a half hour, probably. I really like the dietician so that helps. :)

*My Doctor. I see one of the two docs on the team every three months. This time, he was happy with how I was doing, and we talked about the A1c thing.

Basically, the A1c is a test that looks at how your blood processes sugar all the time—it’s like a batting average. It’s how much sugar “sticks” to your red blood cells. For normal people, you want it to be under 6% For post transplant people, you want it to be in the low 6%, because the prednisone we’re one messes with how our bodies process sugar. So we aren’t aiming for normal people normal, but abnormal normal. :)

I had been testing my blood glucose levels (BGLs) for a few months, and my doctor didn’t think my numbers were really all that bad. (Again, we’re looking at abnormal normal here. Not normal people. ) He did say that if my A1c was up, then we’d probably have to start me on a low-dose, long-acting form of insulin. It wasn’t really because I hadn’t done what they asked—I lost weight, I’m being more active, and I’m checking my BGLs—but because I’ve been on prednisone for 14 years, and I’m in menopause, which, as we know, messes with hormones like nuts.

But my Chest X-ray looked good, and my PFTs were up a point, so lung wise, things are great. Sinus wise, things are great. I’m seeing all my specialists like I’m supposed to and I keep clinic informed of things there.

My doctor wanted me to do some other PFTs so I had to go back to the lab, but we’ll get there in a second. :)

*Social Work: Normally, they just come in and ask how I’m doing and give me a parking token. Since I’m working with some insurance insanity right now, we had more to talk about and they are going to look into some things for me which is massively helpful. So I was happy!

Finally, Pulmonary Function Tests, aka, PFTs.

Normally, when I say I’m doing PFTs, what I mean is I’m doing spirometry. Aka, the thing where you sit down, put clamps on your nose, and breathe in through a tube connected to a computer. You breathe easily for a few breaths (for me it’s two) and then on the third you take in a huge breath, like you’re about to go underwater, then blow it out fast and hard.

You then get results that look like this:

swirly bit is blocked out personal info. :)

swirly bit is blocked out personal info. :)

Now, this is in liters, and I generally look at percentages. As of yesterday I had about 54% lung function, which is good for me, and that’s the “moderate restrictive defect” part. It’s not anything to worry about, it just says that at the bottom.

I also did two other kinds of tests which check how gases are diffused in my blood and other breathing related things. Those were also fine. So yay there.

11:00 Finished clinic, back to radiology!

I finished in clinic, said goodbye, and my nurse said she’d email me with follow-up things. I then headed back down the elevators,

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past the fish….



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And back to radiology.

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This was a bone density scan that did scans of everything—we did hip focus and lumbar focus, and then the whole body. This is important because prednisone (don’t we love it?!) also causes issues with bone density and causes osteoporosis. Fortunately my bones are AWESOME. I hope they continue to be awesome—I haven’t gotten these results back yet.

FINALLY, the LAST TEST!

11:45 am: Chest CT

so heading back through the center of the hospital, to the Magic Forest!

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And into the CT room:


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This is just a regular old CT scan of my lungs to make sure we’re not missing any small things that might be happening that regular X-rays don’t pick up. Easy peasy.


So I was free, and said goodbye to the bunny, at around 12:15!

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I was really hungry at this point, because I’d only had a little breakfast—you’re not supposed to eat a lot before clinic visits in case something scary shows up in testing and you have to have a bronchoscopy that day. (Yes, that has happened to me before.)

So I was hungry and had walked about a mile and a half, not kidding, in the halls of the hospital. I hit my move goal for the day at 3 PM, so I knew that I’d get a decent workout on this day, lol.

This used to be a longer day—there used to be more tests. So I’m fortunate that this was a pretty quick day and everything went well, except for the silly port being stupid! :)

Yarn Along #91

yarn along, knitting, booksEmily DeArdo3 Comments

Hi y’all! Happy almost Independence Day (if you’re American)!

I’m still working on my Dahlia scarf: it’s four skeins of yarn, so it’s long, but I’m in the third skein now, so I’m past the halfway mark. It’s crazy simple knitting, just garter stitch, so that makes it really easy to do while I watch TV (Wimbledon!) or movies, or if people are visiting and I want something to do with my hands while we talk!

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The book is Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen, which I’ve been intrigued by since I saw it at Tattered Cover in Denver in April. which is about the author’s trip to Greece and how the Greek language influenced English.


A Little Book and Movie Talk

books, Catholicism, moviesEmily DeArdoComment

I know, I hardly ever write on Saturday, but, I wanted to share some things with you, and there wasn’t an “official” Seven Quick Takes yesterday, which is good because I was editing the last bit of the manuscript! So the manuscript is edited! My editor will read it again, and then send it to the copy editor at Ave Maria Press in early July.

I should also be getting cover design shortly….and pre-orders should open soon!

Can you feel the excitement? I can!!!!

(Sign up for updates to get the news FIRST on all the book stuff!)

Anyway, speaking of books that aren’t mine….

The Feast of St. Thomas More was on the 22nd (which is also my mom’s birthday).

The Fourth of July is this coming week

So, in the spirt of both those things, let me offer you some good reading and film suggestions!

(These are Amazon affiliate links, FYI!)

St. Thomas More

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If you aren’t familiar with this awesome saint, become so!

For movies, of course it’s A Man For All Seasons.

For books: The King’s Good Servant, But God’s First, by James Monti

For a look at the relationship with his daughter, Meg (which was a great one), read A Daughter’s Love: Thomas More and His Dearest Meg, by John Guy


American History

The Battle of Gettysburg raged from July 1-July 3. I highly recommend reading Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels and watching the film Gettysburg (which is based on Shaara’s book).

If you want to go back to the Revolutionary War, I suggest HBO’s series John Adams (Fabulous, based on the equally great book by David McCullough), the musical 1776 (great music, but also a great story), and the book 1776, also by David McCullough. Reading 1776 is an eye-opener. There was really no way the US was supposed to win the war, and that comes through with incredibly clarity in McCullough’s writing.

But we did win.

In terms of kid-friendliness—they can totally watch 1776. It’s very family-friendly. John Adams isn’t not family friendly but it’s sort of long, so I don’t know if it would hold kids’ attention, but older kids and teens? Definitely. Gettysburg is also long, and while it’s not incredibly graphic, it is about war. (Obviously) But I think kids could watch some of it. Teens, definitely.


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

7 Quick Takes, family, writing, the bookEmily DeArdo4 Comments
seven quick takes.jpg

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! :)


Stitch Fix Is Back!

Stitch FixEmily DeArdoComment

I know some of you have been asking about my Stitch Fix posts, and they’re back! Yay! I forgot to do one for my April fix, because it came right after I got back from Denver. Actually, it had come while I was in Denver so I had to hurry up and try things on! So no time for photos. But it was a good fix and I kept two things from it.

This fix was even better—I kept everything! Yay!

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If you’re new here, Stitch Fix is a personal styling service. Here’s how it works:

Stitch Fix is an online styling service that delivers a truly personalized shopping experience, just for you. Fill out your Style Profile and a personal stylist will hand pick pieces to fit your tastes, needs and budget—and mail them directly to your door. Each box contains five items of clothing, shoes and accessories for you to try on at home. Keep what you love, send the rest back in a prepaid USPS envelope. Shipping and returns are free—even for exchanges!

The Style Profile is really detailed--it's just not stuff like your weight and height. They want to know as much about you and your style as possible, from how much skin you like to show, to your proportions, and what kind of trends and styles you'd like to try. You can even set a price range for individual categories and ask them not to send certain things. For example, in my Style Profile, I ask for no bracelets, rings, or just about any type of shoe other than a flat or heel. 

There's also a place to add a link to your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest Style Board, so your stylist can get a feel for what you like. Finally, there's the "style note", where you can ask for specific items, talk about events that are coming up (I mentioned my brother's wedding in the spring), or generally discuss your style or anything you'd like to see in the box. 

So, after you fill out the Style Profile, you will pay $20 as a styling fee. This is taken off any items you decide to keep in your Fix, so I look at it as a down payment on whatever's in the box. Keep in mind that a real person will personally select all five items that come in your box for you, based on what you've told him/ her. 
To see all my previous Stitch Fixes (including what happens when you’re not happy with your stylist), go here.

So, this time, I was sent outfits, really. It was the normal five pieces, but they seemed to break into three pretty clear outfits—two tops, two skirts, and a dress.

I still don’t have a full-length mirror here at Orchard House, so I persuaded my dad to take the photos. Hence, the quality is…..iffy. (I love my dad, and he has taken some really good photos, but it’s not his favorite thing to do.) I’m wearing my Maritime Navy Rothy’s with everything. (And yes, I LOVE Rothy’s, they’re much better than Tieks—more comfortable and you can wash them!)

Outfit #1:

41 Hawthorne Eliee Lace Detail Mixed Material Blouse, $54.00

French Grey Rani Brushed Knit Skirt $44.00

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So, first off, this skirt has POCKETS. That made me love it right away. It’s also really soft material and in a different print—I don’t have anything with these colors, at all. I loved it with the blue top, which could be worn with jeans, or with skirts, and if I throw a cardigan over it, it can go to church or anywhere professional. Also, the fun detailing keeps it looking fresh and unique.





Better look at the detailing

Better look at the detailing


Verdict: Kept


Outfit #2

41 Hawthorn Ezide Textured Print Top, $58.00

Colette Mali Brushed Knit Skirt, $44.00

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This is probably my favorite outfit of the three. I love this coral-pink color and the skirt is, of course, awesome. (Can you tell I love a good skirt?) Again, this top can be dressed up or down, and the skirt can be as well—I could wear a t-shirt with it, or something dressier like this.

Verdict: Kept!


Outfit #3

41 Hawthorn Neal Dress, $68.00

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OK, so OBVIOUSLY, the first thing here is, I Need a different bra. OR I need to wear a cardigan over this.

But, that obvious note aside, I did like this. I didn’t think I would, but I did. I have a cardigan (from J. Crew years ago) that will work over this until I find a proper bra. But this is a fun, lightweight summer dress that is unique enough to stand out and yet classic enough to wear it places without feeling like a fashion victim. (Does that make sense?)

Verdict: Kept

If you’re an old hand at these posts, you know that you get a 25% discount if you keep all the items in your fix. So, even though at first I wasn’t nuts about the dress, it was worth it to keep it, because it was essentially free. The $20 styling fee is deducted from the price of what you keep, as well.

I was really pleased with this fix. My stylist has been hitting it out of the park lately, so I’m very pleased with that.

If you want to try Stitch Fix yourself, here’s the link. You get $25 toward any purchase, and I get $25 toward my next Fix. Stitch Fix also styles men and kids now as well, and it’s available in the UK! Yay!

If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments box!

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Also, just a note. If you want to make sure that you’re getting all my posts as soon as they’re published, and don’t want to rely on your newsfeed on FB, then subscribe to the blog! You will get all the posts when they’re published, a monthly newsletter (“Notes from Orchard House”, which is not a blog post!), and all the book news first! So you get the first bite at the apple for beta readers, giveaways, any sort of special book things, as well as news about pre-orders and speaking engagements and all the fun stuff!

You can sign up on the side bar, or by going here.


Postcard: Denver

travelEmily DeArdoComment
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It’s the first Colorado Trip Postcard!

I spent time in three main places when I visited Colorado last month: Denver, Littleton, and Buena Vista. Today is the Denver/ Littleton post card, and the Buena Vista one is coming after. So stay tuned for that.

The first thing to know is that, since I stayed with my sister, there’s no hotel recommendations here. So sorry about that! At the end of each post there will be a roundup of links and information of places I visited so you have the information at hand if you want to visit them too!

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Wednesday

I flew from Port Columbus to Denver International on United. I flew United Economy, and I have to say it was a nice flight. United has screens on the back of all the seats so you can watch TV in flight, so I got to watch some HGTV and a bit of hockey while I read The Flight Attendant on my iPad.

As we know, Denver is at altitude. In Denver and Littleton, the only symptoms I noticed was that I got winded more easily, so I had to move more slowly than I usually do, but that was it. My symptoms were worse when we went to Buena Vista, which is at a higher altitude, but in Denver proper it wasn’t too bad. (In addition to my lung issues, I’m also anemic, which doesn’t help things!)

My sister picked me up and we went to the Tavern in Littleton for dinner. The burger is great here, as are the chips and salsa. The salsa is sweet, which is what I prefer, over really hot or spicy.


Thursday

This was a great day! I went with Mel and her fiance, Jason, to Union Station in Downtown Denver. Two of her friends, Jess and Bethany, were flying into Denver and taking the light rail from the airport to Union Station. Union Station is also a working Amtrak station, which was so cool.

Inside Union Station

Inside Union Station

One of the best things about Union Station is that there’s so much to do there—and you can do nothing. There are many tables, chairs, and other comfortable seating options for people to talk and relax (or in my case, sketch!) There is the bar, as seen here, and also a great coffee shop.

We had brunch at Snooze, which is a breakfast/brunch/lunch place, sort of like Scramblers or First Watch here in Ohio. The menu was full of great options but I finally decided on the Shrimp and Grits (in my opinion the eggs added nothing, so I just removed them and ate the glorious rest of the dish)

Shrimp and grits do not need eggs. They are glorious as they are. (And these were glorious.)

Shrimp and grits do not need eggs. They are glorious as they are. (And these were glorious.)


There is a small branch of Denver’s Tattered Cover bookstore in Union Station, but we walked a block or two down the street to the original location, which was fabulous.

What makes a fabulous indy bookstore? First off, selection. I want a broad selection of books, not just current best sellers or popular books. I want to be able to dig around and find Penguin Clothbound editions (Which happened here!), or books I’ve never heard of but look interesting. I want there to be lots of shelves to explore and fun things to look at that aren’t books (things like bookmarks, socks, pens, tote bags, etc.). If there are places to sit down and read for awhile, even better….and if there’s coffee or other treats? YES PLEASE!

Tattered Cover checked all these boxes and more, so I was really pleased with this experience.

After that we went back to Union Station to wait for Mel’s second friend to arrive, and I sketched a bit, had some great coffee, and read my books.

We had dinner reservations that night at Linger in Denver, but first we stopped at ViewHouse in Littleton for some snacks:

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You can see why it’s called ViewHouse…..

You can see why it’s called ViewHouse…..

Dinner, like I said, was at Linger, which is sort of a tapas-y place—meaning that the entrees are shared, but they’re not really big, so you order a few of them. This was my least-favorite place to eat in Denver, mostly because it just wasn’t my kind of food. Maybe my taste buds were off for some reason? But it just seemed like it was trying too hard to be trendy, and the flavors got lost.

BUT all was redeemed by a trip to Little Man Ice Cream!

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We ate ice cream at the little tables outside, since it was such a nice night, and this was really delicious.

After that, we went back to Mel’s house, and the next day we headed to Buena Vista! (That’s Part II)

Where I Visited—Links and Information

Tavern Littleton: 2589 West Main Street, Littleton, CO 80120, 303.730.7772 https://www.tavernhg.com/littleton

Union Station: 1701 Wynkoop, https://unionstationindenver.com/

Snooze at Union Station: https://unionstationindenver.com/dine/snooze-an-am-eatery/

Tattered Cover: 2526 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO 80206, 303-322-7727, https://www.tatteredcover.com/

ViewHouse: 2680 W. Main Street, Littleton, CO 303-797-4829 (other locations around Denver), http://www.viewhouse.com/

Linger: 2030 W. 30th Avenue, 303-993-3120, lingerdenver.com

Little Man Ice Cream: 2620 16th Street, 303-455-3811 https://www.littlemanicecream.com/



Seven Quick Takes Of Random

7 Quick TakesEmily DeArdoComment
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Linking up with Kelly!

-1-

This really is just going to be very random. No catchy titles this week. :)

ICYMI, here’s what’s been on the blog this week:

Yarn Along #90
Last Week’s Seven Quick Takes—You Are Not A Mistake


—2—

I’m getting a Stitch Fix box today! So I will have a post about that next week. I know it’s been awhile since I’ve done one, but one is coming soon! :)

—3—

This week has been sort of odd, one of those weeks that feels long and short, you know? It’s been so rainy here that I haven’t been able to swim much, but my little herb garden is going bonkers, so that’s good. I’m going to have to freeze a lot of basil!


—4—

Sort of going off what I wrote about last week, more thoughts: I like myself.

Now, don’t take that the wrong way. What I mean is, even if I could “remove” the CF from me, I wouldn’t, because then I wouldn’t be me. Does that make sense? I’d be someone else, and I rather like being me.


—5—

I guess that can segue into what’s been popular on Catholic Twitter this week, which is how you dress for church.

My mom never let my sister or I wear jeans to Mass. Or shorts. So I don’t wear shorts to Mass even now (I don’t really wear shorts, period). I have worn jeans, when I’ve been out doing other things and then gone to Mass, and on retreat I certainly wear jeans for all of the Masses except Sunday. But even then, they’re not “jeggings” or otherwise super tight.

The argument this time was about—shoulders.

Basically, ladies and gents, this is how I see it. If you’re going to Mass, dress like you’re meeting the mayor/president/queen/pope. You don’t have to wear a tiara or a poufy dress, but think about how you look and what you’re going to do. Even if you wear jeans, make sure they’re clean and not insanely revealing.

Although, I mean, if you want to wear a tiara, go for it….


Shorts—need to cover the business, guys. Come on now. Don’t wear something to Mass that is more appropriate for the beach or the boardwalk or Kennywood (amusement park in the ‘Burgh). If shorts aren’t at least covering your butt, then they are failing in their purpose, right?
But shoulders….yeah. OK. You can find sleeveless tank tops (tank tops! Not spaghetti strap camis!) that are fairly modest, like ones from Talbots. With these, you’re not showing an insane amount of skin, but you’re cool. In the summer, I love to wear my Land’s End Fit and Flare dresses (I wore one in my new headshots, which you’ll see next week!), but I put a cami under them, and generally a cardigan over them if I’m going to Mass. (If I’m just going out to dinner, say, I’ll still wear the cami/tank top under them, but not the sweater.)

But look folks. If it’s 90 some degrees, which it can be in my part of the world in the summer, and it’s that hot in church, the cardigan’s not even going to make it through the collect. Please make sure that the churches are appropriately cool so that I don’t faint from heat stroke if I’m wearing a cardigan over my dress.

(And yes—my mother’s home parish didn’t have A/C until I was in high school. So, yes, I know, we all survived without A/C. I don’t know. Maybe we were better adapted as a species, maybe we were just tougher, maybe we were just used to it, I got nothing. But I know that this girl is heat sensitive—thanks, prednisone!—, and so I’d rather not faint in the pew.)

When I dress for Mass, I’m not thinking about being an “occasion of sin” for the men in my parish. I’m thinking about dressing properly to see Jesus and to worship him. And yeah, proper dressing means that, to quote Mother Teresa, God probably doesn’t want to see so much of me. LOL.

Church isn’t the pool, folks.

So that’s all I’m gonna say about that. :-D I mean, really, it’s just common sense. And some fashion trends are just awful and we should all avoid them, right? Like the destroyed jeans look? What’s the deal there, y’all?

—6—

In the “Things the Church Does Well” file: helped invent sign language!


—7—

Like I said above, I should have my “corrected” (read: touched up) headshots next week and I will share them! Yay!!!! It was hard to choose the final winners but I hope you guys like them.

Yarn Along #90 (AKA, finishing the WIPs!)

yarn along, books, knittingEmily DeArdo4 Comments

Oh my gosh, so much knitting stuff to tell you! :)

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Settle in….

So one of the things I made a priority when I moved to Orchard House was finishing my works in progress! I had four going on, and now I have one so I am insanely happy about that.

One of them, the sans kerchief, is basically a really big linen square, and it has a ton of mistakes in it, so I basically used it as a big swatch, to see how linen works. I did it in Quince and Co’s sparrow (truffle colorway, gorgeous!) and I even put it in the washer and dryer, and it held up! So this is my linen “full of mistakes” swatch. :) But it’s off the needles and done and I’m sure I’ll find some uses for it around the house.

(No, there is no picture of it. :) )

I started another linen project: The Dahlia scarf with the sparrow yarn, in eleutherea this time. It is gorgeous.

Here it is, before I wound it:

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Really, I wanted a lightweight, long scarf I could wear in the summer and not melt. :) So I chose this nice blue. I also had made another scarf in this pattern—the main photo at the top.

That was one of the WIPs and I just cast it off. It’s not as long because I ran out of the original color yarn and stupidly didn’t buy two skeins when I should have, so it’s got a bit of contrast yarn at the bottom, but I didn’t want to do the whole rest of the scarf that way, so I just cast off. But it’s lovely anyway!

The third project I’m working on is actually a gift, so I’m not going to show it here, and it’s not completely done yet, but it will be by the time I’m going to give it! :) It’s one of my basketweave scarfs, and y’all know what those look like. :)

So currently, I have three WIPs—the new Dahlia scarf, the gift, and the supermoon kerchief that I started eons ago and really need to finish! :)

I’m reading Susan Branch’s Girlfriends, which I was lucky enough to find a copy of, since it’s hard to find! I’m also re-reading my opera guides because I’m re-watching Wagner’s Ring cycle, because I’m a nerd like that. But it’s actually really good knitting music. :)