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)!

 

Collections // 5

Reading // I’m currently reading Make it Happen by Lara Casey – a good motivational book for the start of the new year. I’m also still working on Theology for Beginners…it’s really an easy read and could be quick if I wanted it to be. But there’s a lot of truths that I want to sink in so I’m taking my time with it. Dante’s Inferno is also taking a while, but mainly cause there’s only so much discussion of Hell I can take in a sitting, ya know?

Cooking // Back to the Whole 30. I had been overindulging somewhat in all of Danielle Walker’s delicious grain-free treats for far too long. This time around, though, I’m trying to make my Whole 30 more economical, less all-meat-all-the-time (which can be tough with their guidelines), and use more of my blender. Like tonight I made sweet potato hash, which was delicious.

Baking // Nothing as of today! For 30 days!

Watching // Kevin and I got our fill of a few Christmas favorites over the past few weeks. My contributions were Love Actually and The Holiday – I will never tire of these two films and the joy they bring me. We also watched Home Alone and It’s a Wonderful Life – classics! As of right now, I’ve been on a bit of a Friends binge…this was by far my favorite show for so long (it still might be) – it’s just so familiar. I can put it on in the background and laugh while doing more serious things.

Listening // The Holiday Pandora station is a GOOD one. We’ve been enjoying it a bunch. But I’m also a 21st century woman and I am still not over Adele and her new music.

Wanting // These Gap sweater leggings! We’ve hit a real cold spell here in Duluth – the past few days have been in the negatives and I swear something is off with our heating (or it’s in my head). My favorite lounge pants are dirty and so I’ve been wearing double leggings…and my winter coat. IT. IS. COLD. Which means I’ve been thinking about sweater leggings.

Making // I’ve been trying out hand lettering for a bit now. I really like it! Just because I like it, though, doesn’t mean I’m good at it, sadly. I tell myself if I work on it enough (which I don’t) then I’ll get better.

Traveling // Besides our recent quick trip to PA, there is nothing on the books until May. So I’ll probably need to change that. Maybe another trip to the twin cities at least? There’s just not as many places exciting places accessible via car then there are in the northeast. Unless you count my new favorite local coffee shop, Pelican Coffee. I go there at least once a week…daring, I know.

May your Tuesday be a bit less boring than mine 🙂

Links I love

These are just a few of my favorite things on the internet right now 🙂

This article: In Defense of Domesticity. There have been a bunch of fascinating articles trending related to Norwegians and their winter as of late (this is another one), and this might just be my favorite. It centers on the term “koselig” which is a beautiful word meaning a sense of coziness. Read it!

This silly article on stages of getting to see your long distance best friend. Of course I immediately emailed it to my best friends.

This post on questions to ask instead of “what do you do.” I really enjoy this. As I’ve moved a few years out of college, I’ve met a lot of people who either don’t like speaking about their jobs, are embarrassed or ashamed of their jobs, or don’t have jobs. It doesn’t occur to us that asking about work might be an insensitive or personal question. Kevin, as long as I’ve known him, has been aware of this and instead, when he meets people, likes to ask “what do you do when you’re not [insert whatever you’re doing at that moment – ie: at Church]?”

This great post from Darling Magazine has a similar message to the one above, but I just think it’s one that people really need to hear.

Now I am by no means a feminist (at least as the world would define one today), but for some reason I absolutely loved seeing the new female lead in Star Wars. This is just one take on the awesomness of Rey [Skywalker?? just kidding, who knows!].

 

Goodbye, 2015.

Another year. ANOTHER YEAR. It always amazes me how time flies. But at the same time…this year has been a full one and I feel ready to move on. In a good way.

It seems as if every year, for the past several years, I’ve not known what to expect looking ahead to the new year. We couldn’t have known God would lead us back to Kevin’s hometown, let alone his childhood house (we were actually both hoping New Hampshire would work out!). We suspected, but couldn’t have foreseen the great difficulty we’d have in conceiving a child, requiring medical guidance, and then not being able to sustain the pregnancy when we did achieve. We didn’t know we’d be welcoming two wonderfully adorable & perfect neices. We never would have guessed our married life in Duluth could be so good, or that we’d connect with such amazing people.

There is so much we didn’t know, and I’m glad of it. Everything happened on God’s time, and in His way. And here we are. Not free of struggle, but trying to be liberated of all fear. I look forward to the surprises this year next year will bring.

In the meantime, some of my favorite highlights of 2015:

  • Our marriage bible study in Boston with two couples who are so close to our hearts. This monthly gathering bore incredible fruit for everyone; it was an immense gift that we miss dearly. (Skype bib stud?!?!)
  • YOLMO – “You only Livingston Manor Once” – our annual YO_O trip with my best friends from college (spouses & babies invited this time) – this time in upstate New York. Lots of snow, laughter, tears, good food, and plenty of hugs. And twas the time we all met Joey – now our dear Elise’s fiance! May 6, 2016!
  • Doing my WHOLE 30! And since then learning to live, cook, and bake paleo(ish). It has transformed my life (while also increasing grocery bills).
  • Our multiple trips to Quebec! These trips are so good for our marriage, and we’re simply in love with Quebec and everything french.
  • The Brotherhood of Hope Alumni Retreat – Boston Edition. For many months, I worked part-time doing development & alumni relations with the Brotherhood of Hope at Northeastern University’s Catholic Center, and while commuting downtown in the winter two nights a week wasn’t always easy, it was a privilege and a joy to serve in this way. One of our great efforts was putting together the first alumni retreat, and it was all I hoped it would be and more.
  • Ladies day out in Boston in my last month there!
  • Our vacation in Plymouth with my family! A relaxing time with the whole gang just before departing the Northeast.
  • Our cross-country trip and seeing family & friends along the way! And Wisconsin. Gosh it was so dang pretty there.
  • And being here in Minnesota. I don’t have much to say right now, but it’s good. It is good we are here.

And my favorite posts of the year?

I hope 2015 treated you well and that this next year will be even better. 🙂

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Our Christmas Letter!

We sent this letter our to friends & family with our Christmas card this year. But the blog version has links!

A blessed Advent & a merry Christmas to you all! It is from our new home near Lake Superior that we write this letter to you. When reflecting on this past year, this particular verse comes to mind:

“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” [James 1:2-4]

It has been quite the year for us, and there has been excitement, doubt, frustration, and gratitude. But in it all, we knew God has been calling us to a deeper surrender.  When we reflect on the way God has blessed us this past year through everything, it absolutely amazes us.

Since last Christmas, we have survived Boston’s worst winter on record (woohoo!), Katie wrapped up her part-time work with the Brotherhood of Hope, Kevin finished his time at the Academy of Realist Art as both student and instructor, we made a fruitful pilgrimage to St. Joseph’s Oratory & St. Anne de Beaupre, we celebrated a beautiful first anniversary the same week we found out we were expecting, and we suffered the loss of that same child (Giovanna Raphael).

We had been discerning moving for a while and were granted some clarity. We ended our time in Boston with a wonderful Krouchick family vacation in Plymouth, MA, said hard goodbyes to the dearest of friends, and began our cross country move. We were blessed with time to see loved ones along the way, and arrived at our new home in mid-September. We’ve since also welcomed our first two beautiful nieces, Millie & Evie!

Through the recent months of transition, we have been continually called to trust in God’s goodness & mercy. While we sometimes ache for the familiarity of life out East, God has granted us immense peace that surpasses understanding. And a whole lot of joy!

We have received great welcome here in Minnesota, and our hearts are humbled by how good life is. The community has been warm & charitable, Kevin has found good work, Katie is continuing her Boston work (remotely, obviously), and despite living in the woods (according to Katie), there have been no sightings of bears/wolves/bobcats (praise God!). Just bunnies, deer, & partridges. 🙂

Only the Lord knows what this next year will bring, but we have faith and are content with today. We consider it all joy because through it all we are more united in Christ. A good year, indeed! We are praying for all of you this Christmas season (and this new year of mercy!!!)! May peace & joy reign in your lives.

In Jesus & Mary,

Katie & Kevin

November Reading

With our slower pace of life, my reading time has gone way up. Which I love! We got me a library card and I’ve been so excited! The Duluth selection of books isn’t as vast as we had at our last library, but we make do!

The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

I talked about this one a bit previously in a 7QT, but my goodness this one is so good. I hadn’t read much fiction in a while, and this book is what got me started. The story is loosely based off of Kate & William, which is fine by me – I love the Royal Family. It’s of course a bit drama-filled, but what did I expect, really? For a super secular read, I’d say it was pretty harmless. Obviously, the characters have some moral flaws, but it didn’t ruin the book for me. This was an addictive read that I completed in 3 days (outside of work time). The story and the humor were on-point and I’d totally recommend this one! I had a hard time even thinking about reading another book in the week following because I wanted another just like it.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? By Mindy Kaling

Before reading this book, I didn’t know too much about Mindy Kaling except that she played Kelly on The Office. I haven’t seen anything else she’s done, to my knowledge. But I really enjoyed her book. It was a super quick and light read. I was quite impressed with her background – Massachusetts native, close-knit family, Ivy League graduate, screenwriter…I knew none of it. And she doesn’t seem like a trashy, Hollywood actress at all. She actually seems like a pretty cool person. I enjoyed how well she spoke of marriage as well as her desire to get married and have children. This book didn’t change my life or anything, but I liked it. Simple as that.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

What a fun & different read. I had no idea what to expect with this book, and wasn’t terribly thrilled with it in the beginning – it seemed a bit odd. But it quickly peaked my interest and kept me wanting to figure out where the story was going. This book is about a wife & mother who is perpetually escaping whatever might draw her back into real life. It centers around her relationships with her daughter, her daughter’s school, and her husband. This book is full of surprises. Just when I thought I knew where it was going, it took a turn. I didn’t think I’d like it as much as I did, but that surprised me as well!

Against All Grain by Danielle Walker

Not to be confused with her other book: Against All Grain, which I also own and love. I needed to get Danielle Walker’s first book to see the recipes I missed! This girl is so good. Every recipe. Golden. I especially love her dessert section in this book – the macaroons are delicious. She also has more basic recipes, which I was stoked for. Like coconut milk yogurt – I can get it on pinterest, but I now trust this woman so much that I only want to follow her recipes.

That’s it for now. What have you been reading lately? Any good recommendations?

 

7QT: 7 Influential Books

For this week’s seven quick takes (linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum), I’d like to share 7 of the most influential books in my life. Kevin and I often make lists together and it’s kind of a way of taking inventory of where we’re at with things or maybe there’s just more to learn about the other. For this list, he likes to make very clear: it’s not your favorites but rather books that have had a profound impact on you – whatever that may mean. Anyway, I may have forgotten some (and I’m going preface saying the bible is numero uno, but not on the list below), but I think for the most part this list is pretty accurate.

[ 1 ] Harry Potter 1-7 by JK Rowling

Yes. I mean, how could this not be on here? Let’s just say middle school was not exactly my favorite time of life, and I ended up diving into this magical world in a super deep way. Honestly, these stories got me through a lot. Granted, I didn’t really know the Lord at that time, so I’m sure God would have been a better replacement. But as it was, I would turn to these books when relationships were tough or when drama was about. I think to a degree it kept me a little more innocent and distant from some things I didn’t need in my life. Also, they are just so dang good. I still go back every now and again to enjoy the sweetness of these books.

[ 2 ] Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen. Oh how I love her writing. I’m not sure how to explain how this book has been such a great influence. But it may just be that it’s an exceptionally well-written novel that left me feeling content and better off for having read it. I don’t often read fiction books that have characters of such depth, along with simply beautiful language. When I read a page of Jane Austen, I feel like I’ve gained something. That may not make sense, but it is what it is. 🙂

[ 3 ] Mere Christianity by CS Lewis

Really, all of CS Lewis’ writings could be on here (The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, Till We Have Faces, etc.), but this was the first one I read, and it was at a time when I was experiencing a great “reversion” to the faith. I was a sophomore in college and began going back to the Church for nourishment, and this book proved to be a wealth of wisdom in helping me understand certain truths better than I ever had before. I remember taking this book into confession at one point and just saying to the Priest, “with great knowledge comes great responsibility. I have way more sins to confess than I ever realized.” So thank you CS Lewis.

[ 4 ] The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey

I had to read this book for a business leadership course my senior year in college, and it is by far one of the most fruitful reads I’ve ever done for school in my life. I actually read the whole thing, way ahead of schedule (which was not super characteristic of me for class reading), and even took notes! While I doubt I integrate all seven habits into my life in the day-to-day, they certainly left a powerful impression on me. Certain chapters truly made me re-evaluate the way I live my life (at that time as a super type-A personality, always on a mission and on the go, planning like my life depends on it). Simple things like “put first things first” brought to mind Matthew 6 and seeking first the kingdom of God. It’s definitely a book I could benefit from going back to every now and then.

[ 5 ] Confessions by St. Augustine

I remember going home to PA for a two week period after graduating college. I’d soon be going back to Boston, but not to BU. I reflected on the transition I was about to experience and I honestly didn’t have a ton of confidence I was ready for it. The Catholic community I had in school was phenomenal; in just three short years, I felt like I had learned and grown more than I ever thought possible. And to be honest, I was afraid there wouldn’t be more to come after that. During those two weeks, I picked up St. Augustine’s Confessions at a used book shop, which was one of the most providential things to ever happen. The beauty of it was two-fold. First, I felt like I could connect to him on a personal level, having experienced certain intensities in my spiritual life through times of conversion/reversion. Second, I realized how naive I was to think that my learning and growing would ever stop, unless I simply decided to turn away from the faith. He showed me just a glimpse into the immeasurable depths of God, and how I can seek out truth my entire life and I still may never scratch the surface. This revelation is what pushed me forward, and still often does.

[ 6 ] Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales

This was another one I read the year after graduating college, and what a good time as well. As I was figuring out how my prayer life would look now that I was working full-time and trying to be involved in young adult life (not to mention dating), I could not have asked for a better guide. St. Francis de Sales just gets it. He gets it all. His words to the laity are understanding, but not demeaning. He doesn’t give us lay people an easy out because we have to live in the world, but he also wasn’t advocating for 10 hours of adoration a day. He provides detailed instruction as to how to live a devout life even with all the demands of work, relationships, home life, etc. It is an incredibly timeless read; it was written in the late 1500’s/early 1600’s, and yet everything he was saying felt applicable to my own life.

[ 7 ] True Devotion by St. Louis de Montfort

While St. Louis de Montfort can sometimes come off a bit harsh and intense depending where I am in my spiritual life, this is a book I think I will always need to re-visit as a devotional read. It has had a profound effect on my life by helping me deepen my relationship with the Blessed Mother. And in countless ways, this has shaped my spiritual life.

There it is! The books that have left a mark. Please let me know if you’ve read any of the above and feel similarly! And what books have been most influential in your own life? I want to know!

 

Saying “yes” to the unknown

I was speaking with a friend earlier this week about my experience of leaving my full-time job this past August. She is discerning doing the same thing, but for different reasons. I don’t pretend to have everything figured out in my life, and the big catalyst for leaving the secure job that I had was because we were moving across the country. So in a sense, the leaving work was a consequence of a bigger life event. But regardless of how or what lead me to it, it’s still a big deal.

Now, I am incredibly fortunate because in my last week at that job in Boston, my boss offered me work on contract basis. I could do it from home, here in Minnesota. So that was, and is, a great blessing. However, nothing is guaranteed, and I am well aware that this setup could end at any time. And yet I still turned down a full-time job here when I was offered about a month ago. Why in the world would I do that and how do I not freak out about the possibility of being unemployed?

A few things I’ve learned, and once again – I’m no expert, about being able to make the leap from “security” to “unknown”:

  • Know thyself. I come from a background where hard work and practicality is greatly valued. For years all I can remember is identifying the path I was on and sticking to it. There was never a time I thought to hit the pause button, and before I know it I’m 26 wondering how I ended up in this field. With each year and each job I held, things got harder. And while there were many external factors that contributed to that, the reality is I did not love what I was doing. And I was not growing as a person in the ways I wanted to grow. Realizing this was the first step in being okay with making a change.
  • Discover your passions. It’s true that not every passion is going to be lucrative. I’m still working on figuring out what it is that I can realistically do that will allow me to flourish as a person. I’ve also changed dramatically since graduating college. It’s actually been a challenge to figure out what my interests are now without bringing to mind all the things I’ve invested in over the years. Discerning truly where my heart is has been a process, but this brainstorming needs to be done.
  • Have a plan, but be flexible. When we decided to move, I had a semi-plan when the offer to continue my previous work came. Whatever I was feeling at the time, I had to be prudent. I’m not in a place where I could start my own business and thrive, so this opportunity was actually a huge gift. It still gives me flexibility to develop other passions while performing work that I’m comfortable with. Whether you’re offered an opportunity like I was, or you can find part-time work to sustain you while you make the transition, it’s a step that many people need to take in order to get where they want to be.
  • Trust, trust, trust! I definitely have moments of fear; moments of dreading what may happen next month, or even next week. But I remember that in all my time of doubt, I’ve never been let down. Things don’t always go as I had hoped, but I’ve never been left in despair. Right now I am trying to focus on the paid work I’m doing, while also working on other projects that I may want to lean more towards in the future. When I dwell on the future “what if’s”, I am completely robbed of any joy and gratitude I have for the present. “Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself.” – Matthew 6:34

I’m still figuring out this part of my life. I don’t know everything that’s going to happen, and on what timeline. And as much as I might sometimes pine for life back in Boston, I am deeply convinced that I am doing what I ought in this moment. Not to mention, I have a loving God looking after me and a great husband supporting me along the way.

Have you ever made a decision that would mean a time of uncertainty? Have you made the leap into a new career that is life-giving for you? Tell me about it!