Collections // 3

Reading // Right now, there is an abundance of books I want to read, but gosh I just have not had the time. And we don’t have library cards in our new place, so hopefully that happens soon. However, I did sit in Barnes & Noble yesterday and read half of this accessible book on economics (something I’ve somehow gotten more into lately). I would HIGHLY recommend this as an intro to the basics.

Cooking // Cooking? Hmm…more like Kevin makes me eggs for breakfast, lunch is omitted, and somehow dinner gets eaten. Life has been not so conducive to routine as of late.

Baking // However, I did make some pumpkin bread lately that got some rave reviews – a mixture of this bread (sans chocolate chips) and these crumblies (the favorite part). It’s not grain-free or paleo, but it’s autumn and I wanted to share it with people (I couldn’t eat it, of course…).

Watching // Gilmore Girls because it’s fall and I’m already missing the beauty of the East coast. Not that Duluth isn’t beautiful! But there’s a certain charm that the East coast has the I don’t think I can find anywhere else.

Listening // Lots of podcasts, per usual. But also, Kevin and I have been listening to this on audio book. Linda Rottenberg is hilarious and has a very engaging voice. It’s a great read on entrepreneurship and how everyone nowadays should be developing the skills of an entrepreneur.

Wanting // new fall clothing, obviously. It’s by far the best season to shop for clothing, BUT it’s not really happening right now. And that’s okay! I’m also craving just some good routine in our life. Hopefully that’s something we will achieve within the next two months.

Making // Essential oil lotions. Gosh do I love essential oils. In addition to some body lotions, I’ve been making some sprays too. We had a wee bit of a fly problem when we arrived in Duluth, but with some rosemary, lavender, and vinegar/water, it seems to have gotten a lot better.

Traveling // We drove out to Minnesota! Our stops included the Philadelphia area to see my family, State College, PA to see the Dills, Ann Arbour, MI to see Elise, Erin, WI, St. Paul, MN, and then Duluth! It was a lovely trip, but far too quick. I’m actually back in PA at the moment because Frontier airlines had SUPER cheap flights from the twin cities. I’ll drive down with my mom tomorrow morning to see my sister in DC who just had her first little girl, Millie!

OUTBOUND

Outbound from Boston!

(Warning: I’m in reflective mode and this will be more dramatic than it needs to be!)

 

Monday, August 31st, we set out from Boston on our two week adventure to Duluth. We are currently sitting in a Caribou Coffee just outside of St. Paul, just a few hours away from our destination. It all feels incredibly surreal to me. When I really try to think about it, I understand that this is a move and that we are not turning around. But for the most part, it feels a bit like a vacation. We traveled, saw family and friends along the way, will get to our destination, and then venture back to Boston. It feels like we’ve been in transition for months at this point, so the thought of something more finite and permanent is really hard for me to fully comprehend.

Maybe in a few weeks, once we’ve conquered all the insurmountable tasks that lay before us, I’ll feel a sense of permanence. But for now, I’m letting it be what it is. Because honestly, the thought of not going back, not seeing some of my best friends every week, not having our close-knit marriage bible study, not having ladies nights with my former roommates, not experiencing a New England fall (especially that we now have a car!), not being in the place where all our college friends come back to, not being able to visit Brother Sam and Mother Olga, being even even further away from my family, not having such easy access to all the things that come with living in a big city…it’s a challenge. And that’s not to say that I’m not incredibly excited for what’s to come and for the ways in which God will lead us through this change, but with most worth it ventures, there is a sacrifice (or many).

I spent eight years and one week in Boston. Those eight years carry with them a lifetime of experiences, growth, relationships. I’ll never be able to craft the words to express how different, and better off, I am for having lived there. It wasn’t necessarily the city of Boston that did it, though it has a unique place in my heart for being the place where it all happened. Mistakes were made. Some really big ones. But I transformed from an ignorant college freshman to a more mature woman that I would not have recognized back then. I went from not knowing my creator to having an intimate relationship with Him. I did not know what real community was, and I now have the greatest one that spans countries and oceans. I grew, sometimes painfully, alongside sisters and brothers that I will forever be connected to in deep friendship and the sacraments. I met my husband at such a providential time in my life, and spent the majority of my time in Boston outside of college growing in love with him and integrating that relationship into the rest of my life. Kevin and I conceived and lost our first child, one that I know God has welcomed into His Kingdom for our benefit as well as that of many others.

Some people live eight years in one place and leave no better, sometimes for the worse. I cannot thank God enough for every little piece of my time in Boston. Every trial, every victory, every tear, every laugh, every person, every messed up commute (yes, I can say that now that I’ve left), every Sunday morning sunrise I saw on Newbury Street when I had to work those dreadful early shifts in the hotel, every BUCC retreat/SNL/spaghetti supper, every sacrament, every moment with the diversified variety of roommates I’ve had the privilege to live with…everything.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned (and will probably have to learn over and over again), it’s that God can bring an incredible good out of suffering, and to take the sorrows alongside the joys in growing closer to the Lord. Yes, we have suffered, and we discerned that it was good for us to leave, but boy, did we have an abundance of joy as well, and that is what I choose to take with me. (And of course we will visit!)

“Son,’he said,’ ye cannot in your present state understand eternity…That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say “Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why…the Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven, : and the Lost, “We were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Summer Highlights

This summer truly is going by so quickly. I am torn because as excited as I am for this next phase of our life, it breaks my heart to leave the people I love and the place that has so much significance in my life. To recap the summer that has just came and gone, here are some choice photos…

Just a few of us former residents of 728 at BU in front of the Grotto where my life was literally changed on a retreat nearly 7 years ago.
Just a few of us former residents of 728 at BU in front of the Grotto where my life was literally changed on a retreat nearly 7 years ago.

June was the Brotherhood of Hope Boston Alumni Retreat. A beautiful reunion of friends from both the CC at BU and Northeastern.

Precious time with the Dills and my family!
Precious time with the Dills and my family!

The weekend of July 4th, which turned out to be a bit more eventful than we had planned, was still a really beautiful one. There weren’t any real plans, so I got to do my favorite things of going to Pat’s Colonial Kitchen for brunch, visiting Washington’s Crossing Park, strolling around Peddler’s Village, and spending time with the Dills and my family.

:)

Time with Sarah. This girls been here with me for seven years. We grew in faith together, lived together in two different places, were by each others side on our wedding days, became neighbors, and have just shared many joys, sorrows, and everything in between. I’m going to miss this lady so much…but I know God will provide and our friendship will grow in ways we cannot predict.

The VB's flew out to the East Coast!
The VB’s flew out from AZ to the East Coast!

Two dear friends, Christina and Ky, got married in Connecticut and it was a beautiful celebration! A few good friends came from quite a distance and it was absolutely lovely reuniting for a bit. Emily and Ted (far right) are expecting their first child in November and we were able to throw them a little baby shower in Boston the following day with some local friends out here.

Mother & Daughters

I went home again to PA in August to celebrate my sister, Kristen (blue dress), and sister-in-law, Jenan, who are both expecting their first children in October! Both girls!

Such an awesome group of people.

The Dills (A, J, and JP) drove up to Boston for Ashlie’s birthday, and Elise made it out from Detroit as well! It was quite the reunion and we had a beautiful evening bringing together many loved ones. Mike (tallest guy pictured in back) is a seminarian for the Boston Diocese over in Rome and has been back for just a bit this summer. Brother Sam (second from left, back row) joined us as well! That guy. Aka my former boss, campus minister, and always spiritual father.

Friendship, sisterhood, love, hats 🙂

The four of us ladies, Ashlie, Elise, Sarah and I, did afternoon tea/lunch at the Boston Public Library for Ash’s 25th birthday! We got all fancy and it was splendid. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves on a Monday afternoon, and then strolled to the courtyard for some photos and boy, did we get some stares or what (because of our hats). We loved every second.

Siblings and some cousins at Fenway!

A couple weeks ago, my family did a large vacation in Plymouth, MA since my brother and his wife are currently stationed not too far away for the military. We rented a magnificent home on the water, and some extended family joined us as well. It was a week of games (sometimes a bit too competitive), relaxing, riding bikes along the coast of Nantucket (#worthit), and going to a Red Sox game at Fenway. A wonderful trip (so grateful to my dad!), and a kind of last hoorah before two babies arrive and cross country moves are made by multiple parties.

Boston friends! Oh how we will miss them!
Boston friends! Oh how we will miss them!

Sarah & Javi threw us a little going away party with some close friends, and gosh…I get sadder with every day we get closer to our move. It is so nice being with these people; we had a great time of fellowship and of course, P&P (the game “pencil & paper” that will forever be my legacy in Boston).

Various generations of BUCC Alumni, former roommates @ Priscilla, good friends!
Various generations of BUCC Alumni, former roommates @ Priscilla, good friends!

And finally, a night out just before we left celebrating a friend’s birthday. It was a gift to have another reason to see everybody before we left.

There has been much more goodness, but one can only make a post so long! I’m overwhelmed with how much there is to reflect and look back upon my eight years in Boston, but above all I am filled with gratitude. Deo gratias!

 

Carpe Diem.

It’s not every day you and your husband decide to drop your job (and primary source of income), leave the city you know, and take a leap of faith halfway across the country. Butttt that is where we are! We had been mulling over and discerning the possibility of moving to Minnesota for several months. Pennsylvania was an option, as was New Hampshire, but our hearts both seemed content (and thrilled) with Minnesota. However, it was St. Paul we were aiming for!

Things happened, job interviews were had, connections were made, someone (me) spent way too long lusting after cheaper real estate on zillow, we joyfully welcomed a pregnancy that altered some plans, but then that pregnancy went. And in those moments of loss and grief, we received peace and clarity. After Mass on July 3rd, we sat down outside the chapel and said it aloud: we should move to Duluth. I cling back to that moment, though, and trust that it was authentic and of God, because now as we get so close and I’ve given my work my notice, doubt inevitably clouds my vision! (Damn you, evil one!)

Yet even with the occasional doubt and fear, I know this is good. Even with the pain of leaving good friends and a home I love, I know God is calling us to greater things. Now…I’m not sure WHAT those things are, but I trust that they are GOOD. I am in no way tied to my “career path”, though it does lend a bit of security. So the prospect of potentially starting somewhere new and having more flexibility to “figure things out” was, and is, very attractive.

What will we do? Gosh, only the Lord knows. There is only so much we can do to prepare until we get there. Right now my head is filled with logistical nightmares of when to pack up my kitchen aid and how to sell all our furniture on Craigslist. I am re-evaluating a lot of things. I’ve always had my next move planned, and it’s always been on a certain trajectory. And while there was a time that I enjoyed what I do – that time has come and gone. While it will be tempting to apply to the classic HR jobs I’m used to, I really want to start fresh in something that gives me life.

I’d really love to do my own thing and work from home, if possible. I have a few ideas in my head and the wheels are spinning. Whatever I do is going to take some investment and patience. The frontrunners of the moment are:

  • Becoming a Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (a one year program, fairly affordable) and partnering with organizations that teach and/or promote Natural Family Planning. I’d love to work with people struggling with infertility, looking at nutrition first before undergoing tests & treatments that can be quite pricey.
  • Starting my own at-home travel agency that specializes in Catholic Pilgrimages (and maybe adventurous honeymoons!). I can somewhat utilize that hospitality degree and my love for planning & travel! I’d work with a host agency such as TPI or Outside Agents. They provide all the training and tools you need to start earning commission right from home.
  • Selling Young Living Essential Oils. Some people make this their sole income and it works. I somehow doubt I’d be one of those people, but nothing wrong with trying and maybe snagging a little supplemental cash. The best part is it wouldn’t be forced. I absolutely love these oils. I believe in their healing properties, and if nothing else, I get to spread the word of more holistic health options.

I’ll continue to pray on this and look into more details over the next month or so, but I would love if, when we arrive in Duluth mid-September, I can start working towards one (or more) of these goals. Doing something I love would bring me greater joy, but it would all be in service of cultivating a beautiful domestic life with Kevin and to support him in his mission and work. So may God bless our efforts and may the opportunities be great!

Collections // 2

Reading // As is my way, I got a little caught up in re-reading some Harry Potter recently. On book six at the moment – I keep myself to no more than a chapter a day.

Cooking // whatever is in our freezer. We only have about three weeks left actually in this apartment (we’re traveling for another two weeks) and I want to make sure all the meat I bought in bulk once upon a time gets eaten! Which it will. No problem.

Baking // grain-free breads. I’ve found a few good recipes, but this is my favorite. It’s not an everyday occurrence (don’t want to make a habit out of eating “bread”), but it’s super tasty when we have it.

Watching // umm…one of the Marvel films every week. You could say Kevin and I have a problem, but we personally think it’s a fine art being able to watch a film over and over. Especially when the movie is so rich! Last night was Iron Man 3, before that Avengers, before that Thor, before that Captain America…you get the idea. We just really love these films.

Listening // my younger sisters cd mixes. Since she graduated and will not be needing a car in DC, my parents passed the Acura onto us (which we’re so grateful for!). She generously left some fun mixes in her car, and it’s funny what similar taste we have. A fun variety to, from Coldplay to Tupac to the Weepies…it’s all over the place.

Wanting // another Stitchfix box! I had a gift card from my birthday that allowed for two fixes (spent a bit over my allotted amount), and now I’m addicted. I don’t foresee it happening anytime soon, but a girl can dream!

Making // homemade organic & natural makeup! It seems that I go a little bit deeper each month into a more crunchy way of life, and partly because it’s so much fun and fulfilling to create from scratch (and to know everything I’m using/eating/surrounding myself with). I’ve made a pretty successful powdered blush and powdered foundation thanks to the recipes of Wellness Mama. The concealer didn’t turn out as I expected, but I think I know the issue…but it means I gotta re-do it. Another time!

Traveling // the past few weekends have been here in Boston, but August will be the month of travels – a grand family vacation on the Cape followed by another trip to Quebec! Followed by our cross country road trip to Duluth!

All grown up.

Mid-May, I was in North Carolina to see my youngest sister graduate from Wake Forest University. Now…when you’re one of five children, it’s a crazy experience when the baby of the family has a big milestone. Everything she’s done has pretty much already been precedented by someone else in the family. But that makes it no less special; in fact, I think we all get super nostalgic seeing her go through all these life things. And it makes us realize that the littlest one of us is growing up! She’ll be moving to DC this fall to start work! #whattttt

In addition to the last one graduating college, there will be two new additions to the family this year! Both my sister and sister-in-law are expecting in October, and we are so thrilled and excited. But it’s also so crazy at the same time. And this year is a Krouchick Christmas year meaning there will be 12 of us under one roof – the mom & pop, three married couples, two young singles, and two infants! Obviously it’ll be awesome and I’ll want to bottle it up before we all go to our separate parts of the country (PA, DC, VA, CA, possibly MN).

Nostalgia is my middle name, so don’t mind if I cry three times a week with all the changes. But it is all good – we are all moving in good directions and I’m excited to see how these changes play out in our lives. #ilovemyfamily

Twenty-six.

It seems ridiculous to me that I’m turning 26. I often forget and think I’m 24. I feel much younger (and people usually mistake me for muuuuucchh younger). 26 sounds like I’m on a downward slope to 30…yikes! Not that 30 is old, it just seems like things are flying by! And while I’m still so young with so much ahead of me, there’s so much that I would have loved to accomplish and have in my life by now! But at the same time…I’m still so young, and I’ve done a whole lot. So I’ll get over whatever anxieties I have about aging one more year.

The most remarkable thing about 25 was…getting married! To Kevin! The love of my life! He has made this year a delight and I can say with certainty that this has been my best year yet. I also am confident that 26 will be even better. Every year seems to have something distinct about it – it brings new challenges, new surprise, new crosses, new joys. There is always so much I cannot predict. I have many hopes for this year. Many many hopes. I’m doing my best to trust God and His divine providence. I want to entrust this year to Mary and Joseph. What will come will come! But for now, I have much to be grateful for. An incredible husband, loving family, amazing friends, a stable job, a homey apartment, a balcony that plays host to my little garden, and a God that loves me unconditionally. I’d say that’s pretty good!

Kevin and I will celebrate the evening with some Sushi (or as we refer to it as sruuuushi) and a movie (a picnic was in the cards, but alas spring has gone away again!). Then I get to have some of my favorite people join us for brunch on Saturday. How could 26 not be great with such wonderful people to start it off with?!

Peace out, 25. Onto the next one.

 

April: all sorts of amazing

Did I once write that October was my favorite month? If so…that may still be the case…but April is a close second. Not that it’s really putting its best foot forward here…spring in Boston tends to be about 5 days and it always comes later than you think, leaving earlier than it should. But I take what I can get.

April, in and of itself, though, is just a delight. With the timing of Easter, the sun making itself known, flowers starting to blossom, gardening projects at the ready, anddd my birthday – it’s a time of renewed hope. Our lord makes all things new, and I love that the celebration of His resurrection happens at this time of the year. The Church, in all her wisdom, knows best. There is so much goodness happening and coming…

Container Gardening // We are trying our hand at balcony/container gardening for the second year (though, last year was a bit hectic since my move into the apartment didn’t happen until post-wedding in June), and we have high hopes. Last year was pretty successful for some herbs and a couple veggies. So this year we’re going to keep on with several herbs and branch out to something new (like blueberries!). Keep it simple.

Spring Cleaning // We also plan to do some serious de-cluttering. It’s tough living in a small space, because sometimes no matter how organized you are, it still feels like we own a million things (which we don’t). Still, though, we still find ourselves collecting things that need not be collected. So let the purging commence!

All the free things // For some reason, we’ve had a lot of free things thrown at us lately. The biggie – free Panera coffee for the month of April…ummm OKAY. I won’t ask questions. And there happens to be a Panera about a 12 minute walk away from our apartment. Then somehow we have four free drinks at Starbucks in addition to the gift card from my dad. Add that to a free meal from Blue Apron (a generous giveaway at Camp Patton), two restaurant gift cards, and we’re living the Easter season in a high and luxurious way.

Movement // Kevin and I recently began going on runs together about 3-4 times a week. It. Is. Lovely. Just getting fresh air and our heart rates up has been fantastic. We’ve also had the chance to get morning walks in together whilst the free coffee at Panera is a thing.

NOUS ALLONS QUEBEC // Yes, ladies & gents. We are going back to Quebec. This weekend. My heart can’t handle the excitement… 🙂

So much goodness. Lord, please magnify this time! What’s everyone else looking forward to this spring?

Collections.

Reading // Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Father Michael Gaitley. An inspiring read about how we can and why we should console the heart of Jesus. It seems to fit well with where I’m at in my spiritual life right now, and it’s helping me in ways I’d never imagined.

Cooking // anything whole 30 compliant. More specifically, I’m learning to add a whole lot of variety to foods I already love, like eggs, sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, cabbage and more. I’ve also made a few sauces, dressings, and spreads that I’m quite proud of.

Watching // still Parks and Rec. I can’t get enough of this show. It just leaves me feeling so happy. Also, I’ve watched Leap Year twice since I’ve been on a rom-com kick the past couple of months. Any innocent love story that takes place in Ireland has my heart.

Wearing // the in between winter and spring clothes. Which is really just winter clothing 80% of the time, with some spring pieces mixed in. I went for a walk today and wore a light jacket with my riding boots in replacement of my winter coat and snow boots. Today was a rare gem – back to the 30’s tomorrow. This week the sun is out and the snow is melting, so praise Jesus for that.

Listening // Celtic Pandora station. This music brings me and Kevin so much joy. I could listen to this music for hours around the apartment and not get sick of it. We just want to go to Ireland!

Wanting // these moccasins from Minnetonka. I love moccasins, but I always go back and forth feeling like there’s no season for them here. It’s either precipitating or hot and humid. But I still want them!

Longing // Spring! Every little bit of sun that hits my skin is like a gift from heaven! The days are getting lighter, the sun’s making more appearances, the temperatures are slowly getting higher. I don’t want to get my hopes up too much because, as I’ve learned, winter could come back in April if it wants to. BUT I am excited nonetheless!

Snapshots

My interests and goals seem to fluctuate a lot, and it’s been pointed out often by those closest to me. I often have a new “plan” for my life (and by extension, Kevin’s life) – sometimes I’m moderately serious about it, sometimes it’s just fleeting. I’m a planner and a dreamer. (Working on being a doer.) I’m slowly learning how to be more patient with life and how it moves, and to recognize that I’m still so young. Sometimes that’s a challenge, but it’s a journey.

The more and more I learn about myself, the more and more I discover within me an entrepreneurial spirit. I am in no way an entrepreneur at this point in my career – but I think, on some level, I’ve always longed to do my own thing. As a young teenager, among many things, I wanted to open up my own bed & breakfast (hence the hospitality degree!), and since then the ideas (good and bad) continue to flow in my brain that thinks far too much.

The biggest hold up at this stage in life is predominantly finances. I think that’s most people’s main concern when it comes to making a big lifestyle/career change. And Kevin is still in school, so there’s not much flexibility with our lives at the moment. Which is okay! It’s just the present state of life, and that’s perfectly okay. Kevin has unbelievable talent, skill, and wisdom that will help bring beauty back to this world some day, with whatever he does, big or small. So for me, he is the priority (though, he will humbly disagree). All this doesn’t mean I can’t dream, though! So I will.

What is it that invigorates my soul at the moment? Travel. Nutrition. Fertility. Writing. Allergy free baking. Cooking from scratch. Growing our own herbs & vegetables. Canada. Finances and budgeting. Catholic wedding planning. Small coffee shops. Essential oils. Ridding my life of plastic and harmful chemicals. Itinerary planning. Building my dream pilgrimages and vacations. New Hampshire. Farmers markets. Dogs, goats, and chickens. Tea towels. Photography. Beauty. Liturgical living. Pennsylvania & Minnesota. Small town living. Good devotionals. The UK & Ireland.

And a whole slew of other things. But I guess that gives a good overview. Maybe one day when things are slower and the time is right, I’ll take a few of these things and make something more of them.