Seven Quick Takes No. 78

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

I.

mmmm. Summer Friday. Those are beautiful words in the English language, no? 🙂

II.

Since it’s summer, more people read. You can, of course, join the Jane Re-Read (Sense and Sensibility is what we’re talking right now). I’m still reading Prodigal Summer and Northanger Abbey. I just finished I Believe In Love, about St. Therese of Liseux and how she can lead us to a deeper spiritual life, and I really liked that one. There’s a lot to ponder and I’ll definitely be reading it again. (Who am I kidding. I read everything again….unless it’s Moby Dick or Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Shudder!)

I keep debating if I should read Girl on a Train. Yes? No? Thoughts?

III.

My 10 year transplant testing appointment is on Monday. To put this in perspective: UNOS (the United Network for Organ Sharing, which “does” transplants in the U.S.) doesn’t even have 10 year survival rates on their chart. The last one they have is 5 years out, and for women, that rate is 46.1%. I read somewhere that 10 year survival is around 30%, but I forget where.
So, for ONCE, the odds have been playing nicely with me. I rejoice in this. The actual 10 year date is in July, but we do the testing in June, usually.

IV.

I’ve discovered that a lot of women don’t know basic maintenance things. This sort of scares me, ladies. You should know to put gas in the car (and what kind of gas), how to jump a car battery, how to use tools, how to unclog a toilet. Even if you’re married, your husband isn’t aways around to fix things! I’m amazed at how many women I know who can’t do any of these things and I want to be like, girls. Come on now!

V.

My brother’s girlfriend sent me this photo of him at Disneyland, and I just love it:

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As Br. H said, “How many Evil Empires can you fit in one picture?”

VI.

I’ve started swimming again–yay! But man, the muscles feel it when you swim hard for the first time in a season. They rebel the next day. But it’s so good to be in swim season again, I do not mind at all.

VII.

Almost time for Edel 2015 in Charleston! I’m so excited!! I’ve never been to South Carolina and I can’t wait to meet all the amazing women who will be there!

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Dirt Under My Nails: My First Container Garden

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I’ve always been jealous of great gardens. My grandma always had perfect flowers and a tomato plant in her backyard; one of my favorite things to do with my grandpa was pick tomatoes from the vines and bring them to my grandma for use in summer dinners. There were always a few tomatoes on her kitchen windowsill, and her flowers were perfectly planted in the brick planters that bordered their front porch. My grandpa, a fierce gardener, also planted snapdragons around the lamppost in the front yard.

But as much as I loved this garden, I never really got to have my own. My house growing up had a really shady back yard, and the front yard faced north, which limited the amount of sunshine the plants received. My parents do put in annuals, like petunias and marigolds, every year, but since I rent, I can’t really put them in the landscaping. (The one time I tried this, they were uprooted and plowed over and covered with mulch. Fail.)

Now, though, I’m going to try my hand at a small container garden. This year, I’m focusing on herbs, and only herbs, but if they go well, I might branch out into flowers next year. In fact, I already have plans for some tulips in the front yard (tulips, based on what I’ve seen in other yards here, do well with the landscape abuse!)

So this is what I have so far:

  • A planter, left behind by the last tenant, that sits on my back porch and gets plenty of sunshine (it faces west);
  • Two packs of seeds–basil and cilantro, both of which I use a lot in recipes.

What I need to get:

  • Appropriate potting soil

Fortunately it’s not time to plant here in Ohio yet. That’s not until nearer the end of the month. So I need to figure out what type of potting soil to get, and how much of it, and then I can plant my seeds around memorial day…and hope for the best!

Do you keep a garden? What are your best gardening tips? Leave them in the comments!

trying my hand at container gardening! @emily_m_deardo

Daybook: Christmas Season

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Outside my window::

Bright, sunny, and windy. Seasonal–so in the 30s. It was almost 60 degrees on Christmas Eve!

Wearing::

Jeans, grey flats, a blue tank top, a new cardigan (same as the photo below) , and sparkly earrings. It’s the holidays, it means party time in the clothes department. 🙂

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Reading::

Wow, what am I not reading? I got three books for Christmas: The Romanov Sisters, The Little French Kitchen, and Elizabeth of York, about Henry VII’s wife (and Henry VIII’s mother). I’ve finished The Romanov Sisters (good, but nothing really new in there), I’m marking up French Kitchen with stickies to mark recipes I want to try, and I’ve dipped into Elizabeth.

I also bought: In Cold Blood, The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, and Mastering the Art of French Eating. I’m reading both French Eating and Cold Blood, and I finished Manzanilla earlier today. That one is part of the Pink Carnation series, which I’ve been reading since its inception. There are eleven books in the series and the last one comes out next year. Whenever there’s a new one it always makes me want to go back and read the older ones, so I see a reading of the series in my future. 🙂

Basically, I’m being a Christmas book glutton.

Oh, and I almost forgot! Lara Casey’s Make it Happen. People. Go get this. Now. It’s amazing.

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In the CD player::

The Christmas music. 🙂 I try to rotate through all of them as much as possible, so Renee Fleming’s is up next.

Movies::

I watched Babette’s Feast last night, and I loved it. It’s such a “me” movie–France, Food, Faith. The three Fs, if you will. 🙂 The feast! Oh my gosh. And the part at the end about art….really, it’s a gorgeous movie. It will make you hungry. watch it. Please. 🙂

Pondering::

Why there are tablets everywhere I go. I admit, I’m prone to checking my phone when I’m bored, but I am really good at leaving it in my bag, unnoticed and unused, when I’m in church, when I’m with people, when I’m at the movies, etc. It’s not an umbilical cord for me.
But lately I’ve seen more and more kids with it all the time–at Mass, at nice restaurants, everywhere, like they can’t be without it, and it’s sort of ude. What are these kids learning? That they have to be constantly stimulated? That they can be rude to people? (Because it is rude, to ignore the waiter who’s waiting to take your order, if you’re trying to beat level 3067 on Candy Crush, or whatever and he’s waiting for your drink order.)

At Mass I see 8-9-10 year olds playing around instead of paying attention. Guys. Why is this happening? Why have we become so involved in our screens? Why are we not involved in the people around us? Also, why must we be “available” all the time? Really? ALL THE TIME?

Also, I’ve noticed that I’m a lot happier when I’m not on Facebook 24/7. It’s a great resource, and I do connect to people with it. There are things I like about it. But geez, I’ve been so much happier without living on it during the holidays. There’s a lesson there.

(Lara Casey’s new book Make it Happen is huge on this part. Absolutely huge.)

Around the house::

Decluttering, cleaning closets, mopping, vacuuming, putting things away. The general post-Christmas insanity and I’m trying to defeat it. 😛

Food::

Making chocolate gingerbread as a new year’s day dessert, and also the Guinness Cake for a party of sorts on Friday. Tomorrow is sweet and sour pork, because for some reason I eat Chinese on New Year’s Eve. Why is this?

family::

I had a great time with my family over Christmas–seeing all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and my sister, who was here from Houston (she leaves tomorrow) is always fun. Especially when there are cute little children that read books to me and cal my name and ask to sit in my lap. I love that part. 🙂

Seven Quick Takes No. 60

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I.

So we have to start with the big thing: I’m going to Edel!

I am so excited to meet Jen and Hallie and all the other lovely ladies, and I’m also excited to see the City of Charleston. I’ve never been to South Carolina, and my mom has always wanted to go to Charleston. So, we’re going!

II.

The best part about the gathering? Well, OK, the other best part?

My 10th transplant anniversary is that Saturday.

Really, people, how much better can it be to celebrate a DECADE of life post-transplant than with amazing ladies, great food, maybe a spa treat (there’s one in the hotel!)

This is the sort of thing I never imagined before transplant–getting to travel all over the country and have these amazing experiences.

III.

The plan right now is to get to Charleston on Thursday and stay until the following Wednesday, so we can see all we want to see and really enjoy the city, as opposed to “we have a weekend we must CRAM IT ALL IN NOW.” We shall take our time.

Dad is excited because they will be shrimp and grits and there’s a Starbucks in the hotel lobby. He’s pretty set for life, right there.

IV.

When I told my transplant doc that we were going to Charleston, he immediately said, “You must eat at Hominy Grill.” He’s not the only one who has said this, but he sure waxed poetic about it. If you have other suggestions for places to eat, pop them in the com box. 🙂

V.

I was basically a prisoner in the house Monday and Tuesday, because of cold and snow. NOTHING like Buffalo, but it was cold, for sure–unseasonably so. I cannot imagine living in Buffalo. How do you even begin to clear five plus feet of snow?!

VI.

I’m excited to see Mockingjay soon–either this weekend or next week. And also, of course, The Theory of Everything, which opens here next week! Yay good movies! I also need to see Big Hero 6.

VII.

What are your plans for Turkey Day? Ours involve getting Bob Evans’ “Farmhouse Feast” and eating it at home. We’re not huge Thanksgiving Let’s Go All Out People (we sort of were, back in the day). Now we just like it nice and quiet, with maybe a movie or two that day or the day after. We’re low-key peeps. And we do not do Black Friday shopping–unless it’s Black Friday at Barnes and Noble. Because, why not.

Things I Think About

A list of random things that are occupying my brain:

  • Does anyone else think the Comeback Canyon on Biggest Loser isn’t working? It’s like it’s always week two over there. The person who is the newest is always going to win. It’s a decent idea in theory, but in practice? not so much. (Much like many government policies!)
  • I’m always glad when people come out to see a show that I’m in. Heck, I’m glad when people support live theater in general! But if you’re going to come, don’t play video games. Don’t play with your phone. Don’t hold conversations in the middle of a big musical number. We, the actors, can see you! We can see the light from the phone, and we can see you talking! It’s distracting! It’s RUDE! STOP IT! You paid money to see a show–how about you, I dunno, watch it? A few random whispered things, like “I’m leaving to answer the phone, because the President is calling”, that’s fine. But these people were having a multi-person conclave across an entire row. Folks….just don’t. This is especially true in smaller theaters. It’s not like you’re at the Met and you’re in the family circle. You’re right in front of us!
  • My dad is a really funny guy. Proof here.
  • James Levine celebrates his 2,500 conducting outing at the Met today. That’s amazing, as is the music he leads. I’ve got  one of his Ring cycles on DVD, and one of his Otellos, and man….that’s good stuff. Bravo, maestro.
  • I wish it was November so I could start writing my novel, but I’ve got about a week of planning left. NaNoWriMo, here I come! I’ve got the family trees roughly sketched and a (rough, of course) timeline, and I think I need to start making some character notes, just so I have an idea. I don’t generally plot the end of my books. I like to see where characters take me.
  • In CCD tomorrow I’m teaching the kids about Abraham and Noah. Actually, that should be Noah and Abraham. I think. I always mix up who comes first. Thank God for the book. 🙂

Catholic Women’s Almanac No. 46

Outside my window::

It’s sort of snowing. What I mean by that is the snow is being uncommital in its desire to come down. It’s sort of just floating along.

Wearing::

Jeans, black flats, a v-neck cornflower blue long sleeved tee from Eddie Bauer. It’s a house day. 🙂

Reading::

A Dance With Dragons; two Christmas books, Mythology and Charles Dickens (a biography by Claire Tomalin), and trying to finish a book on Italy’s history. And re-reading The Book Thief. 

Creative::

That last Christmas scarf? Yeah. It didn’t get done in time. So I’m working on that. Also one of my goals for the year is to write every day in some form, so this counts as that, but also keeping my journal up to date. I’ve been really slackerly there lately.

In the CD player::

Loreena McKennit A Midwinter Night’s Dream.

From the kitchen::

Dinner party tonight. Menu is Tuscan pasta (the pasta is cooked in a bottle of Chianti), a salad, and the ever-famous Guinness Cake, which is currently under the cake dome. I frost that at party time so the frosting doesn’t dry out and get unattractive. The wonderful thing about this cake is it is so MOIST that it does not dry out. You can eat this thing for a week, easy. It makes a divine breakfast. (Not that I know that by personal experience, or anything)

Around the house::

After much wrangling with it yesterday, the dishwasher is working again, Hallelujah! So I’ve done a round of dishes already this morning. I have to vacuum and dust a bit before the guests come over, and I have to change the sheets and linens in the master bath.

Plans for the week::

My parish offers Midnight Mass on New Year’s Eve, so I’ll be attending that. Back to work on the second!

Seven Quick Takes Friday Vol. 33

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I.

Happy feast of St. John the Evangelist!

II.

So how was your Christmas? Mine, as usual, was pretty excellent, and it continues (Christmas is 12 days, y’know) with the family reunion, which kicks off today. We went to the 4:00 Mass on Christmas Eve at my parish, where the priest (a son of the parish, who was ordained in June–as a Jesuit, but we limited the Jesuit jokes) gave a wonderful homily based on a line from the psalm, “blessed the people who know the joyful shout”. He also talked about God’s intense love for each one of us, at every moment of our lives. It was a really beautiful homily. The children’s choir provided the music.

My parish altar, decorated for Christmas

My parish altar, decorated for Christmas

After Mass we headed to a local Italian place for the usual Christmas dinner, and then back to the house for the exchange of sibling gifts, and my brother and his girlfriend exchanged presents. There was much watching of A Christmas Story, per usual. We love that movie at our house.

III.

Christmas morning–my brother had to go to Mass on Christmas day (Since he worked the Eve), so once he was home we opened gifts and had the Traditional Christmas Morning Feast, which is sausage and cinnamon rolls. I look forward to that meal all year. I love it. I delight in it.

One of my favorite gifts: tickets to see the new US tour of Phantom of the Opera in March. My love for Phantom is deep and well-documented–it was the first professional musical I ever saw–and to see it again is always exciting to me, especially in a new production.

Christmas Day is a fairly low-key affair at our house. We stay in, nap, watch movies, and things like that. Bryan and I spent the night again while my sister went home (she had to work the 26th).

IV.

A nice “Christmas surprise” on the 26th was that my vacuum had given up the ghost, so dad ran to Best Buy and got me a new one. It’s nice, living where I do, in that there are three big box stores on one street, so it’s good when you need food and/or appliances. The new vacuum works amazingly well–it got up a crazy amount of dirt from the carpets. I was suitably impressed. As a reward for our efforts, we had Chipotle for lunch.

V.

Today kicks off the Annual Family Reunion and I am, as usual, psyched about it. It’s always great to see all my aunts, uncles, cousins, and my grandma for a few days, especially now that everyone is getting older and it’s hard to see everyone when my family visits during the summer. Most of the family lives in Pittsburgh but some live in NYC, St. Louis, and Indianapolis, and my cousin Diane lives in Houston with her husband and two girls. So at Christmas we get to see about 98% of the family. There is lots of food, drink, frivolity, shopping and movie-seeing.

VI.

On Sunday I’m going to a hockey game with a friend’s family–Penguins vs. Blue Jackets. This is a tough game, because the Penguins have been “my team” since I was about six years old, but the Jackets are my hometown team. Either way, a team I like shall win–but the game is here, in Columbus, so it would probably be safer to root for the Jackets? Maybe? I might just wear a neutral blue shirt and “Grover”, my North Face fleece. 🙂 Then I’m good either way!

VII.

As usual, I got several books for Christmas (to be augmented today–I got a B&N gift card, too): Longbourn, Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking, and Jane Austen’s England. Longbourn was amazing, and I highly recommend it. I was a bit wary of the premise–it’s the “downstairs” version of Pride and Prejudice, basically–but it turned out wonderfully well. And since my sister got me a scarf with a quote from P&P on it, it was a very P&P Christmas. 🙂