Collections // 8

Reading // The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Ligouri. There’s a few other books next to my bed right now, but this one was recommended by my spiritual director and, while I’m taking it slowly, it is without a doubt the most powerful work I’ve read on Mary…ever. Highly recommend. It may take my a year to finish at the rate I’m going, but it’s worth it!

Cooking // Ugh, sometimes nothing. Poor Kevin! This summer feels like it’s been quite full (how is it almost August?!), and while I grocery shop with the best of intentions, I usually find myself scrounging for something easy & quick most days. Which is tough because easy & quick doesn’t often align with my dietary restrictions. Buttttt occasionally I’ll be on a roll with some food prep, and we make it last. This soup is absolutely amazing and lasts us a few meals. Also, plantain cakes have been my jam lately. Blend ripe yellow plantains with a bit of coconut flour and gelatin and voila! a perfect protein filled fibrous snack that can be eaten sweetened or savory.

Baking // We got some rhubarb recently in our farm share box, and believe it or not, I had never had rhubarb before. I wasn’t interested in putting the effort into a paleo pie, but I did make a plain boxed cake (paleo!) and some strawberry/rhubarb jam to accompany it. The cake didn’t last long, but I think we still have a bit of jam! It’s delicious.

Watching // I can’t believe I’m gonna say this…Downton Abbey. For years, I’ve had friends telling me how I needed to watch it because I’d love it. I resisted because I know how addicted I can get. Well, I gave in. And it’s awesome.

Listening // ehh not much other than the radio on my commutes, which can be so repetitive and annoying. I need to opt for more silence.

Wanting // to have all the time in the world to do all the things before this baby comes! Since I work for a campus ministry and August is around the corner…that’s not gonna happen. Fall is a full schedule!

Making // LOTS. Well, Kevin is. We have some exciting things in the works. We recently made the decision for him to pursue his art full-time. This has been a long time coming and the Lord has been steering us this way for a couple of years now. We are finally saying yes! And we are so excited.

Traveling // Off to San Diego in a few weeks! My brother and his wife & daughter live out there, so that’s where my big summer family vacation will be this year. Kevin and I are so excited – these vacations are usually a preeeettttty nice getaway for us. And I’ve never been to San Diego! Land of the perfect climate.

Collections // 7

Reading // I’ve recently re-started Orthodoxy by Chesterton. For some reason, I didn’t make it through the whole thing last time (a chronic problem of mine). I partly blame Kevin because the book is SOOOOO destroyed – a sign of his big love for it. But I got past the first two chapters, which felt so foreign and uninteresting to me, and now feel like I can push through the rest. Chapter three was great. Other books I’ve been slowly making my way through (because of my hardcore reading ADD): The Two Towers (re-read), Madame Chic (fun, short, total leisure), and Liberty Defined (it’s broken up into topics, and I’ve mostly ready all the topics I wanted to read but still intend on “finishing” it).

Cooking // With the new year, I’m back into making a few staples like bone broth, water kefir, and coconut milk yogurt. Gotta take care of that gut health! I also recently bought my first bag of Cassava flour (all the rage in the paleo world right now), which is basically ground yucca root. It works much more like regular flour, as opposed to nut & seed flowers that require a totally different way of cooking. I made waffles last night, and we were both very impressed. Two thumbs up!

Baking // Besides those dang good waffles, not much else. But I intend on experimenting with Cassava flour in other types of recipes! (Obviously, only those which are grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, refined sugar-free…such fun.)

Watching // We discovered that Pirates of the Caribbean, which I have not seen in YEARS, was on Netflix, so naturally we watched it. We then felt compelled to watch the next two, which we located at a local record store for dirt cheap. They get progressively worse in story (we recently read that the script was being written as they were filming with no real planning involved – makes sense if you watch the movies), but do not disappoint in the entertaining action. From there, we watched some behind-the-scenes footage, which, especially for large productions like this, always fascinate me. That lead me to dabble back into the making of Lord of the Rings on the extended edition DVD’s – be still, my heart (the singular piece of work that made me want to abandon everything and move to New Zealand to work on a film – obviously).

Listening // Lord of the Rings Pandora station – Howard Shore’s score is, in my opinion, THE greatest movie score of all time. I talk Kevin’s ear off often about this so I don’t even know what to write about it…it just moves me in a way that nothing else does. I was regretting (for a hot second) changing our wedding song from Into the West (final song in Lord of the Rings) to Coldplay at the last minute, but then again…Coldplay. 🙂

Wanting // to find a good beginners yoga class in the area to use this winter! I think I’ve found a groupon that will allow me to try out different types of classes (so if the yoga ends up being a bit spiritual or whatever, I can move over to barre).

Making // I have a few shirts that need some serious TLC (one from a bleach stain, the other got small tears in the wash). So I’ve been on a journey to really learn how to take care of my clothes (not a natural skill of mine – Kevin is always torn when I offer to do laundry). I recently bought Molly’s Suds Oxygen Whitener and have since soaked some of my lights in it that had some pretty noticeable stains (coffee, concealer makeup, random stains that I was totally baffled by) and ALL of it was cleaned! The items look beautiful! Except for one poor striped shirt that we tried to fix months ago but ended up bleaching the dark stripe at the collar – so a future project I have is to try and alter the collar to a boatneck to just get rid of the stain. The other somewhat success I’ve had is fixing two small holes in a relatively new sweater after it went through the wash – with a combo of fusible bonding web & fusible interfacing (thank you, Joann’s fabric), it is minimized and should not tear further. And I shall hand wash that item, along with the rest of my sweaters, from now on. So many lessons being learned.

Traveling // Nowhere! Thank goodness! My body, while in its gut healing phase, just does not do well when I am out of routine. Reactions galore! So for the next couple of months, local exploring it is.

2017: what lies ahead

I have a lot of goals for this year (many of which are not written here), and I’m okay with that. I love entering into this reflection period and looking ahead to all that God might work in us during this next stage of life. 2016 was another great foundation building year for our family, but still with many changes. I commented to Kevin the other day that it still feels like we are in the pre-planning phase of our life (which probably sounded quite negative to him), but it’s true. We’ve done so much, and yet some days feel like we still have this massive mountain ahead of us to climb. Of course, that is life. But there are specific ways we want to live our life while climbing that mountain (careers, children, a house, etc.) and we are just not quite there. And that’s okay! This is how God is forming us. And I really believe that He is preparing us for something wonderful. Our road is not common, and people often don’t understand while we are still pursuing these lofty dreams. But we know why.

So for 2017, I’m really hoping to develop better routines for the life stage we are in right now! And if God calls us to something else, we adjust. That’s how life goes.

Actively work towards our professional goals

  • Learn how to use our new used mirrorless camera
  • Put more energy into the blog (aka write more substantially)
  • Open up Etsy shop with Kevin’s art (step one of many other steps!)
  • Develop Kevin’s website further

Nurture my health (physically & emotionally)

  • Take a fitness class this winter to get out of the house
  • Limit coffee to 3x/week (unless I find I need to eliminate it entirely…been down that road before)
  • Read at least 2 books per month (get a good variety of spiritual, educational, & leisure)
  • Continue to purge & cleanse our life (been working on this for a while, and it’s going well!)

Go deeper in the spiritual life

  • Intermediate social media fasts (weekly)
  • Daily, non-negotiable prayer routine
  • Find a spiritual director! (They have been so elusive.)
Cultivate new & old relationships
  • Step outside my comfort zone in this new city and try to make quality connections with others
  • Send birthday/special occasion cards ON TIME
  • Call family members more frequently
  • Accept limitations and do not feel guilty when I’m truly not able to do something for someone else

Invest completely in our marriage

  • Create a formalized routine for breakfast/dinner together
  • Take a class together (maybe some sort of dance, like we did when we were dating)
  • Take walks together in winter (it’s the only season we struggle with)
  • Find new ways to pray together daily
  • Take a trip together (with any luck – to Quebec! again!)

I’m quite excited for 2017. And I am so grateful for this time of year. While in some ways it’s really just starting a new calendar, there’s a deeper level to is as well. And to begin the year in the octave of Christmas! That is not coincidental. May God bless us all in this new year!

P.S. – my Saint of the year (using this online Saint generator) is St. Catherine of Genoa!

 

2016: a year in review

I’m going to tire of saying it, because I’m sure most people’s lives seem to be filled with more & more as the years go by, but 2016 was a full year. And a good year! We loved our time in Duluth with a fantastic community of people (my favorite Diocese!), we got to take trips to see friends & family for special occasions, and we made the move to St. Paul just like we had hoped for. Praise God! #gearns2016

I’ve started making a binder of our years in review (beginning with 2012, the year we met) and I was struggling for how to go about doing it. Do I go the Project Life route? I pondered it and said I’d only do like 2-3 pages per year, but then that became unrealistic because really how do you choose?! I thought of many ways to document our lives (I even made multiple trips to Michael’s – browsing, buying, returning), and in the end settled on what I had initially envisioned. I know people send out years in review for their Christmas cards – and I really like that idea – so I decided to begin our family binder of our years together. It may evolve and grow, but for now it consists of a one page summary (style and content varies each year) and a page of prominent photos (basically my instagram pics…because they’re already square). And we love it! Below is our 2016 (some content may seem a bit odd & personal as I wasn’t making it strictly for other people).

May you be blessed in 2017!

Collections // 6

Reading // I recently got caught up with Harry Potter book 7. Sometimes I can’t help it. But reading these novels always helps get me into a greater reading groove. However, after finishing, I went right into book 6. After this (which never takes very long), I’ll discipline myself better and start something new. I have also been reading, and thoroughly enjoying, Hallie Lord‘s new book, “On the Other Side of Fear: How I Found Peace.” I have not yet finished, but I would highly recommend this to any woman, especially married (and I can imagine it’d be even of greater benefit for those with children).

Cooking // With my newfound allergies (what else is new?), the kitchen was a bit of a dull space for me in August. But I’m resolved to not get into a rut, lest I be tempted to eat what I shouldn’t. So I’ve been reaching for some more creativity. Kevin recently placed in our shopping cart 2 lbs. of figs because they were on sale. Shortly after that, we both realized we didn’t absolutely love plain figs. So I made a fresh batch of fig jam using the smallest amount of honey and coconut oil, and it was delicious. Naturally, I needed to find more ways to use the jam. So I tried a trusted recipe for grain-free/nut-free/dairy-free pizza crust, replacing the required egg with a flaxseed egg, and made fig & prosciutto pizza (with arugula and goat cheese). Kevin has said I’ve found the greatest pizza recipe of all time (whether he was being totally honest or just complimentary, I still am not 100% sure).

Baking // On a similar note, I tried Danielle Walker‘s totally allergy-free cookie recipe. I had tested this out several times before, with a real egg, and the results were so-so. They tasted great, but looked like massive blobs. The flax egg version was a bit similar, but I used less oil and so they were less blob-like. But still super yummy!

Watching // Can I ever really stray from the classics? Parks & Rec and The Office, obviously. They never cease to brighten up a blah day. I think I’ll be starting the North & South mini-series soon, though. I’ve heard good things!

Listening // everything Coldplay. I just can’t not. Also, now that I drive to work, I put on the radio here and there. And it’s awful. There are literally five songs on repeat on every station and they are awful. Has this always been the case? I guess I just haven’t had to drive much during morning and evening traffic since high school.

Wanting // Sperry boots. And this dress. And maybe for the apartment to be in order soon :).

Making // a new home! I’m beginning to lose count how many times I’ve moved apartments/homes over the past several years. But here is another! We really love it, we just need to finish the furnishing process. But it’s getting there!

Traveling // We did just go to Utah, which was awesome. Coming up this weekend, we will be driving up to Brainerd, a city/town about three hours northwest of St. Paul known for the lake life. Our good friend, newly ordained, is assigned to a couple of parishes there and has invited us to stay at a vacant rectory for the weekend. Then the first weekend in October, we will be venturing out to Viroqua, Wisconsin! I’m not terribly certain of what we will find, but I have reasonably high hopes that it will be pretty. 🙂

 

7QT: a move, a family trip, and the state fair!

  1. We have moved! It happened pretty quickly, but to sum it up – I had a few different people refer me to a position in the Twin Cities (the one that actually got my attention was a woman I met at Given). After a few interviews and an offer, we made the move to St. Paul within three weeks! (And we are praying that’s the last time something like this happens, but the Lord is humorous in his ways…). img_6232
  2. We are absolutely loving life here. Granted, we’ve only really both been here for two weeks with vacations and tying up loose ends in Duluth, but we are here, and it’s splendid. The Cities have so much to offer and I’m falling in love with so many different neighborhoods. And while I was a bit skeptical of our apartment location before moving, I really could not have been more pleasantly surprised.
  3. My new job is uhhhh-mazing. I have made a complete change in my career (no longer your friendly HR rep, but always happy to give employment-related advice!), and it’s a change I’m quite thrilled with. I’m working at the Parish & Newman Center at the University of Minnesota as the Development Director. While I had never worked for the Church before, I’ve known many to do so and not have the most positive experience. However, this team, this ministry, this everything – it is blessed. And I’m also working alongside the Brotherhood of Hope (they ran our campus ministry at BU). I have so much to be grateful for. img_6285
  4. Kevin and I went on a Krouchick family vacation to Park City, Utah, and I’ll admit – I kinda was like “Utah? Umm, okay.” But it was great. It’s always a joy spending dedicated time with my family AND the babies J. We explored the city, hiked some beautiful trails, enjoyed the fancy hotel life, and played far too many games of fishbowl. I’m already aching for Thanksgiving to come my way so we can all be reunited.
  5. On Labor Day, Kevin made his first trip to the Minnesota State Fair! I know, it’s absurd that he hadn’t been up to this point, but I was kind of glad I got to accompany him the first time. The funny part is that I HAD been before. It was quite random, but my best friends and I took a YOMO – you only Minnesota once – trip back in 2012 (our YO_O is an ongoing tradition, we’re considering Newfoundland next – YONO) and enjoyed the Great Minnesota Get Together. While this time around, I couldn’t exactly eat all the foods, it was still great to just walk around and take it all in.fullsizerender
  6. Speaking of foods I can’t have, I’ve been working with a naturopathic doc for the past few months and have discovered some interesting sensitivities (the big ones were foods I had already suspected, but hadn’t totally eliminated). So my absolutely no-no foods are: eggs, almonds, cashews, garlic, beans, and chili powder (this one confuses me too). So that’s now added to my avoid list, which already includes grains (although I can now experiment with rice & buckwheat on occasion) and dairy. It’s so interesting looking at the evolution of my diet over the past two years. I’ve gone from eating anything and everything (while still eating healthy & balanced) to whole 30-ing to paleo to paleo-ish to this. While I have very strong convictions around nutrition, I’m learning to let go a bit. Everyone’s body is different – I am still figuring out what works for me, and it’s such a process.
  7. It is September. And while we’ve had some terribly humid days in the 80s (which is nothing compared for my Arizona friends), I’m getting super excited for fall. Isn’t everyone? I did, however, mistakenly indulged in a PSL from Starbucks (coconut milk, of course), and it was too early. It just didn’t feel right. I’m going to hold off on any more of pumpkin until we’ve had a few days in the 60s. Every morning, I keep trying on sweaters hoping that my weather app will reflect chillier days, but alas, each morning I put those sweaters back in the drawers for a later time.

That’s us right now. I hope your day, your week, your month, and even your year are swell.

Coldplay!

For probably as long as I’ve known Kevin, I’ve known how important Coldplay is to him. Truly, it could be one of the first things I ever learned about him. And how, back in 2009 (I think?), he had tickets to see them in Omaha during his stint at IPF, but gave them away as he felt compelled to attend an ordination instead. Now, I don’t want to say that he regrets that decision…but he may, just a little. So I knew that the next time Coldplay toured in the US, we absolutely had to go.

As for me, I’ve always been a fan of Coldplay. It’s not something I’ve thought too much about, but they would always have been in my top five probably. And I’ve often thought that “Fix You” is the greatest song ever created. I could truly listen to it all day every day, and still cry each time I hear it.

Two years ago (almost to the day!), Kevin and I were driving home from my cousin’s wedding in Philly with my sister & brother-in-law. Coldplay came on the radio, and there began massive praise for all things Chris Martin & company. We agreed (post-wedding festivities, mind you) that we were GOING to Coldplay next chance we got.

Krouchick siblings (minus Keith, who is away serving our country!)
Krouchick siblings (minus Keith, who is away serving our country!)

Needless to say, when tour dates were announced for Head Full of Dreams, we were all in communication. So this past weekend, Kevin and I got to see Coldplay in Philadelphia with some family members. Despite being practically in the nosebleed sections (it was best available even though we purchased them instantly as they went on sale to the public!), it was a truly phenomenal show. I haven’t gone to many concerts in my life (Backstreet Boys, Imogen Heap, Ingrid Michaelson, Trampled by Turtles – that may be it?), but if I never saw anyone else perform again, I’d be okay with it. This was spectacular.

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The playlist could not have gotten any better – they played all my favorites (but they’re all greatest hits as Kevin says). This band was made to perform. They are amazing. And Chris Martin – what a guy. One of Kevin’s total man crushes (I’m completely okay with it).

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We’ve now decided that we’re going to wait to take an international trip until Coldplay is on tour again, and we’ll see them in London front row…it could happen, right? 🙂

 

P.S. If you ever need a Coldplay song for various occasions – I’ve compiled it below 😉

Nostalgia/Melancholy

Clocks // The Scientist // Everglow // The Hardest Part // Warning Sign // Army of One

Feel Good

Message // Army of One // Lovers in Japan

Dance Party

Charlie Brown // Hymn for the Weekend // Princess of China // Every Teardrop is a Waterfall // Sky Full of Stars // Adventure of a Lifetime

Let those tears fall

Fix You // In My Place // Everglow

Moodiness

Midnight // Trouble // Amsterdam // Magic // Ink // Fun

Serenading your love

Til Kingdom Come // Yellow // Green Eyes // Swallowed in the Sea

Anthem Moments

Viva La Vida // Lost // Paradise

Happy days

Life in Technicolor // Speed of Sound // Strawberry Swing // Up & Up

 

There and back again

This summer (similar to last) has been one of lots of transition. And in the three week period that we had to find a place to live in a new city AND move…I decided it would be prudent to plan an impromptu trip to Boston. Not gonna lie – it added a little bit of stress to the situation, but I also think it was worth it.

I surprised my dear friend, Sarah, and her new boy, Rafa, at Boston Children’s Hospital with the help of her awesome husband. It was the first time I’d been back to Boston since Kevin and I left last summer. It was completely surreal and totally normal. However, it was only the fact that I was visiting that made the MBTA bearable (one of the tipping points in our move away from the city ;)).

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Me and some of my favorite people! I’m still not sure what Sarah was really thinking when I walked into their hospital room, but I hope there was some excitement there! To everyone’s surprise, Rafa was taken home just a couple days later, so these parents certainly had their hands full. I simply took in their presence in the little moments I stole with them. Such love <3

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I spent an evening at the Green Briar (an old neighborhood fave) with some truly wonderful people. My heart was exploding with how much I miss these people. The only thing that would have made it better was if Kevin was with me, but sadly he had to work (but he is in Boston right now, so he’s getting his fill!). There was just an immense amount of organic laughter and joy; I never wanted it to end. Which is pretty much how all moments are with the Boston community, no matter where we’re congregating.

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I was also tremendously grateful to have some quality time with this treasured friend! Mike has been in Rome the past few years studying at the seminary out there (he’ll be ordained a Deacon in September!), but is home this summer. So I got to catch up with him AND his family, which is always a treat. I somewhat crashed his family BBQ, but if anyone asks, I’m a long lost cousin…or just an old friend from BU.

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Another gift! Ammmmmyyyyy! I got a beautiful morning (and Mass) with her and her husband plus the beautiful daughter that I hadn’t met yet! All of these moments would have been worth the trip individually, so can you imagine my excitement that just compounded as my visit continued?!

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I was fortunate enough to visit Mother Olga’s new convent and spend an afternoon with her – a nice oasis in the midst of my go-go-go. What a Saint, that woman. And what a gift her order is to the Boston Archdiocese.

There were many more moments not captured on camera, like visits with other lovely friends and my stay at my former apartment (back from my single days). And then just the beauty of Boston that seems so obvious and striking when you’ve been away for some time…

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Classic Brookline.
Beacon Hill!
Beacon Hill!
The original Trader Joe's in my book.
The original Trader Joe’s in my book.
Downtown.
Downtown.
"Star-Dunkin" - aka a little spot of compromise for me and Kevin just down the street from our first home.
“Star-Dunkin” – aka a little spot of compromise for me and Kevin just down the street from our first home.
The Watertown Public Library. THE best library we've ever belonged to. Ask anyone - it's legit.
The Watertown Public Library. THE best library we’ve ever belonged to. Ask anyone – it’s legit.

It was so rejuvenating to go back, and I am abundantly grateful for the opportunity to see people that I’ve missed terribly. It does, however, feel right that it was just a visit and nothing more. I love Boston, and I treasure the people, but we are happily at peace in Minnesota.

Though I’d also be cool if we took semi-annual vacations in the Northeast every spring & fall. And I’d be more than okay if all my friends moved to one big neighborhood. 🙂

wintering

As I’ve mentioned, it’s been a bit cold. Not unbearable, but just really cold. I attempted to put air in our tires yesterday at 7am and it was -11 degrees…I got through one tire. Besides things like that being a challenge, though, and having to dress extra warm in & out of the house, it’s been beautiful. I’ve found myself not very motivated in a lot of areas – there is so much I had laid out on paper for 2016, but I can’t bring myself to really do right now. And maybe that’s just winter. We do what we have to do, and let the season be.

I love the reset that the new year brings, but I also think January (and February & March if you live north) have a resting quality to them. I think it’s okay that I’m not going out and doing all the things. Staying in and drinking a cup of tea is quite acceptable. Reading a book for leisure over starting that massive project – that’s fine. And it’s not as if I’m doing nothing – I have a full-time job. But I think working from home sometimes makes me things I need to be doing more than I am.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately and a bit of paralysis regarding ideas I want to put into action. But I’ve decided to let winter be winter. Spring will come in all of its newness; it always does. Right now, I can focus on the work I have in front of me, the beauty of wintering in a real home, and the luxury of a bit more flexibility than we had last year.

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The above photo is on Lake Superior. Kevin and I took a [short] morning stroll in Canal Park on Sunday (-18 degrees…yikes!) followed by a cozy breakfast in West Duluth. Slow paced life can be so good. Our day off (MLK day), we went out for another breakfast with friends. There is such perfection to being in a warm place with good people while the wind & snow continue on outside.

I hope you’re enjoying the season in all its fullness 🙂

the little things

It’s been a cold week here in Duluth. Like…negatives and single digits cold. And I’ve never had to really heat a full house before (while also thinking about the $$ needed for it). Needless to say, I’ve been wearing many layers and wrapping myself in blankets. This is the only time I’ll admit it would be nice to work in an office all day where it’s probably well heated.

Regardless, it’s been a good week of productivity in some areas, and the rest is just cozying up and letting winter be winter. A few little necessities (and luxuries) have gotten me through this week, which also happens to be the start of our Whole 30. And I hope they’ll continue to do so as it continues to drop in temp!

This bag from Target that my sister got me for Christmas. It absolutely brightens up my day and gets me excited to take work out of the house occasionally.

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Young Living’s Joy Essential Oil! I recently got a new bottle of this amazing oil, and it really does lift the spirits. I don’t know how to describe the scent – spicy, happy, and warm? All things perfect for winter.

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Our wood burning stove. Admittedly, it took me several tries to figure out how to get a fire going. “You gotta kindle it!” Kevin would keep saying. “You’re so silly!” he kept saying. Well, I figured out how to properly “kindle” a fire.

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These dish towels! They were a gift from Kevin for Christmas that he sneakily bought when we were in PA at one of my favorite little shops. I eventually want our kitchen to be french themed, and this was our little start – some french dish towels!

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La Croix sparkling water! It’s the little things, right? It’s Whole 30 compliant (I think?), no sugar, just “naturally essenced” sparkling water. I think just the loveliness of the can would be enough for me.

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Happy weekend (and three day weekend for some of you)!