my favorite thrive market products

Nearly every month (sometimes twice a month), I make a purchase from Thrive Market. The best way I can describe Thrive Market is like a mini-Amazon, but with wholesale prices (25-50% below retail price) on products I feel confident buying. They offer a wide variety of food, health, and household essentials. The products sold at Thrive are healthy, natural, and free of any of the main-stream harmful ingredients we see so often in most things we’d pick up at a grocery store.

The following are a few of my favorite things from this lovely company:

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1 // Dr. Bronner’s Castile Liquid Soap

This bottle (32 fl. oz.) costs me about $17 at Target (honest & true), but I get it at Thrive for $10.95. It’s the only soap I’m comfortable using on a daily basis, and it lasts me a decent amount of time. And I love the smell – peppermint! Lavender!

2 // Paleo Baking Ingredients

It can be so pricey to get things like almond flour, coconut flour, or arrowroot powder at a grocery store. Like, really expensive. So whenever I’m placing a thrive order, I check my stock of these favorites and purchase when I’m in need. They’re a good 30%+ off what I would pay at a store around here. And I trust the brands on Thrive as well.

3 // Dr. Bronner’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

This brand of coconut oil (the 30 oz jar) costs $20 on amazon, but $14.95 at Thrive. We go through a lot of coconut oil at our house, so the bigger the jar I can get the better. As much as I love those inexpensive jars at Trader Joe’s (which we don’t have around here anyway), they’re just so small!

4 // Herbal Tea

I’ve transitioned recently to drinking much more herbal tea, trying to slowly replace my coffee habit (which I don’t think will ever fully happen, but it’s definitely an occasional treat now!). They have brands like Yogi and Traditional Medicinal, which I love. Their teas are over 30% less than standard prices on amazon or in-store. So I stock up. My favorites are honey lavender (yogi), echinacea (traditional medicinal), ginger (traditional medicinal).

5 // Mrs. Meyer’s Cleaning Products

Mrs. Meyer’s is the only brand of cleaning products I have besides those I make myself. I use the dish soap and hand soap, both about 30% less than retail. And once again, those smells. So fresh. I particularly love the geranium & lavender.

6 // Vitamins & Supplements

These are the real steals. Vitamins and other supplements can be an expensive health choice. But I do believe in the power of a few choice products, and these can be up to 50% off. A few of the ones I invest in through Thrive Market are Natural Vitality Magnesium (powder form), Garden of Life Raw brand (zinc, vitamin b-complex – all good), and Vital Proteins Pasture (beef gelatin).

Other notable mentions:

  • Organic Coconut Milk
  • Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Organic Raw Honey
  • Grass-fed Beef Jerkey
  • Tom’s of Maine products (toothpaste, mouthwash)
  • AND SO MUCH MORE!

If you like what you see, I encourage you to signup! You will get a 30-day FREE trial pus 15% off your first order! They are super kind over at Thrive, and they personalize everything. If you’re not enjoying the service, you can cancel at anytime. After the first 30 days, you will be enrolled for a one-year membership for $59.95.

Finally, I was not compensated for this post or asked to write this, I just really love Thrive Market! But if you do sign up through my referral link, I’ll get a little bit of credit to shop with. 🙂

 

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 🙂

Whole 30ing all over again

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Last March/Lent was when I committed to my first Whole 30. I had always been someone who believed all diets/cleanses were fads (I thought gluten-free people were just being ridiculous) and were pointless. As long as you ate balanced and lived a healthy lifestyle, you should be fine. But I guess almost two years ago now is when I began really to think hard about the connection between food & health. There are obvious no-no’s when it comes to nutrition, but what if things like my cycle, my period, my skin, or my fatigue could all be improved by changing the way I eat? What if I didn’t have to get a prescription for every little symptom that arose? What if it was, in fact, all connected?

So by this time last year after a great deal of research, I had begun to limit my intake of dairy & grains, but would still eat both casually here and there. The thought of eliminating them entirely was overwhelming – my solutions for quick & cheap meals had consistently been homemade pizza, fruit & yogurt, a sandwich, or a dish with rice/quinoa.  As for the legumes, that’s what I had replaced most of our grains with – so that was kind of a big deal as well. And sugar? I didn’t realize how much sugar I consumed on a regular basis until it was entirely removed. That was difficult (mainly because of the sugar withdrawal headaches).The alcohol portion, not a huge deal as I’m not much of a drinker anyway.

While I didn’t complete the Whole 30 perfectly, I was still pretty dang faithful. And I felt good. But very soon after, I went back to occasional dairy (mainly goat products, but not exclusively), dry/soaked beans, and slowly sugar crept its way back into my life again. And I’ll be honest when I say as much as I avoid grains like the plague, if it “accidentally” shows up in something I’ve ordered out at a restaurant (like breadcrumbs) – I eat it. And then there are corn chips & potato chips…my greatest downfall of all time. With the one exception, perhaps, being those tasty (and expensive) Starbucks lattes.

As of late, I’ve also been indulging like mad in sweet treats – all grain-free and mostly dairy-free – but still sweetened with honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and dark chocolate. And while most ingredients may be “compliant” for overall health, temperance Katie! There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these kinds of goods here and there (I’m not the food police!), but I’ve let it become my norm, essentially. While the whole 30 is a challenge with a time frame, it’s also a lifestyle. We are meant to learn from our experience, and apply those guidelines going forward if what we’re seeking is to truly improve our health. There is a reason this diet bans “replacement foods” with compliant ingredients.

So here I am. Ready for another 30 days of no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar, and no alcohol. And while we’re at it, probably no caffeine (which I’ve mostly adapted to recently anyway). Will it be difficult? Yes and no. But mostly no. Last year it was difficult. But one of the greatest fruits of a Whole 30 is changing our perspective on food. A lot of the habits that began last March have now become second nature to me. I try to check myself if I find it becoming an something of an obsession, but I think I really just enjoy the model the Whole 30 lays out, knowing and having confidence in what I put in my body, and the creativity that it urges me towards.

Now that we’ve entered ordinary time and the Christmas season is officially over (wahhh), let us begin. Day one, today!

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!].

 

Christmas & New Years // Pennsylvania & Minnesota

The holidays were a real whirlwind for us, Gearnses. It was a bummer to have Kevin working most days when my work kind of slowed down, but the solemnities, weekends, and evenings were quite beautiful.

dinner & a movie on Christmas Eve
dinner & a movie on Christmas Eve

We kicked off the Christmas season with a lovely Vigil Mass at our parish. Following Mass, we had a couple friends over for dinner & It’s a Wonderful Life. My family has watched this film every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember, so it’s a tradition I plan on keeping. We unfortunately didn’t finish the movie that night, though, as we had to get up for a 4am drive to the twin cities on Christmas day (eek!).

Kevin & Deacon Paul at the airport way to early Christmas Day

We made the drive that morning, met Deacon Paul at the seminary who would be looking after our car for the weekend, arrived at the airport, had a bit of an issue with our tickets (we owe many thanks to the generosity of others for that day!), but eventually made it to Philly early afternoon. When we got to my house (oh how I love our town), the festivities were already in full swing it seemed. We have quite a big family, and my parents always love to host. One of the big activities of the afternoon was, of course, family football across the street. Not to brag or anything, but my dad did name me MVP (I said it’s all those yoga poses stretches I’ve been doing…).

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Christmas evening continued as usual, with all the people in every corner of the house. One of the great joys of the weekend was simply being with my whole immediate family (which unfortunately doesn’t happen that often!) and getting to see the babies! Millie is almost 4 months now, and Evie is just about 2 months. Kevin and I stayed home from the annual Eagles game on Saturday night to spend time with the little ones, and I miss it so much! My nieces are absolutely the cutest.

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I look just a wee bit tired from the travels that day…but look at those babies in their matching dresses!

After a short weekend, we came back to Minnesota (it was a looong drive back to Duluth that Sunday night). Our nights have been spent watching Christmas movies together (Home Alone, Love Actually, the Holiday), and eating [paleo] Christmas cookies. We had a lovely evening with Kevin’s mom and uncle to celebrate & exchange gifts as well.

dinner at Duluth Grill New Years Eve
our grainy photo of dinner at Duluth Grill New Years Eve

New Years Eve (rather the Vigil for the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God) we went out to dinner with a few friends to Duluth Grill. I had heard so much hype about this place, and I don’t know if I’d say it lived up to it (there was a lot!), but it was still very good! We had a grand time in good company. And Kevin and I spent the next day at Mass and doing date-like things together (which for us means going to Barnes & Noble or Target and hanging out 🙂 #marriedlife).

It’s been a full couple of weeks, and we have our Epiphany party to look forward to this weekend! Yes, it’s a bit late as we celebrated the Epiphany this past Sunday, but it’s a rich feast that deserves good attention. After that, the Christmas season shall officially be over and it’s back to ordinary time for a bit. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Surrender

Last year around this time I attempted to come up with a theme for 2015. A virtue or discipline I wanted to work on. Kevin actually came up with it for me: the challenge to be more more present. Did I succeed? In some ways, yes. In some ways, absolutely not. To be honest, I probably forgot about this committed effort halfway through the year when things got more crazy. To be more present – in moments, prayer, relationships – is still something I want to work on. Ardently. But for 2016, the word I choose to give more focus to is surrender.

Last year, more so in the first half, there was so much I tried to control or hold onto. I had put months and months of my time into researching about the female body, nutrition, and naturopathic medicine. I’d spent an embarrassing amount of time on infertility blogs trying to figure out where I went wrong (worst thing to possibly do – don’t do it!). I tried to meticulously plan for every possible move we could have made, leaving me dejected when something didn’t work out. I tried to force certain variables into place when my heart was set on a location, a job, or just an idea. I’ve succumbed to anger, envy, and pride at points when I thought I was entitled to a certain result but left with something else. All because of my inability to trust completely in Jesus.

Thankfully, the Lord (and mama Mary!) has been working on my heart immensely over the past few months. Maybe one of the unexpected graces of moving so far away from what I find comfortable and familiar. I truly feel God calling me to a deeper surrender. Even just the beginnings of letting go, the desire to be detached from what I think I want, has given way to great peace. As we head into this new year, there are still so.many.unknowns for me and Kevin. But I’m content.

Last year I was so often consumed with fear over what might happen to us if we made the wrong decision, or if we tried our best but it didn’t pay off. That is true work of the evil one (stay away!). One of the greatest gifts we can give to Jesus is to trust in Him. To trust in Him and His merciful heart. This is what I long to do more than anything. To please Jesus by giving everything to Him, and allowing Him to do with me what He will. I should know at this point, after all I’ve been through, that this is the only way to true joy.

I have an over-abundance to be grateful for this year, and I’m trying to give proper thanks, though it will take more than a lifetime to properly give. But let’s see if this year can be a time of growing in radical trust. Like Mary, may I have the courage to say “let it be done to me.”

Fiat

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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time to enjoy the Christmas season

Now that the rest of the world is taking down their Christmas trees, turning off holiday music, and resolving to cut out all tasty treats, we’re just getting started. It is a true sadness to see the way our culture treats this season. Advent gets no recognition, and Christmas is limited to ONE DAY. Ugh. Lame.

It can be so hard as someone trying to live the liturgical year properly. It’s almost as if we have to go into hiding for four weeks in order to seize the meaning and depth of Advent, and then we are seen as oddballs for keeping up our Christmas tree beyond the new year. But I suppose it starts with us. Person by person. Family by family.

So merry Christmas to you all! For the next several days, we will be enjoying the octave with cozy meals, homemade desserts, our favorite Christmas movies, and lots of festive music. We will exchange gifts with one another on the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. We will celebrate the Epiphany with a party. And our tree is staying decorated and lit either until February 2nd (the Presentation of our Lord) or it dies. Whichever comes first. 🙂

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Advent: the second half

Here we are quickly approaching the high feast of Christmas and I’m so excited. While our travel plans are not ideal (driving to the twin cities at 4am to catch a flight on Christmas Day to PA, flying back 2 days later), we are very much looking forward to being with my family for the holiday, even if for a brief time. The last couple weeks around here have been busy, but good busy.

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On Gaudete Sunday, we cut down our own Christmas tree with some friends. It was my first experience of actually cutting it down, though, I actually didn’t do it – Kevin did. It was a bit anti-climactic, but it was also cheaper than buying one pre-cut. So win-win.

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Afterwards, we went to our respective homes to setup the trees and ended up at Fr. Michael’s rectory for some dinner & Marvel entertainment. The Avengers is just that good.

We got some snow shortly after the tree cutting extravaganza. And I’m still not sure what to do with our driveway. So for now – we shovel. And we shovel. And we shovel some more.

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This past weekend was pretty awesome. Fr. Seth, another one of the Priests that con-celebrated our wedding, was in town (he is assigned at parishes way up north), so we went out for dinner Friday night. It was a truly wonderful time. Good conversation, lots of laughter, and delicious food. We went to Tycoon’s, which is on Lake Ave in downtown Duluth and it was a lovely restaurant: a nice interior, classy holiday decor, live music that wasn’t overpowering – an all around good time. After dinner, we met up with another friend all together at Olive Garden for some coffee & dessert. A rejuvenating night if ever there was one.

We also had a visitor on Saturday evening – none other than Deacon Paul, one of Kevin’s best friends currently down at the major seminary in St. Paul. He was up for a wedding and stayed with us that night. He is such a great presence to have around – a man of wisdom & peace. So Kevin was quite excited to have some time with him.

We also saw…STAR WARS. Oh my goodness. No words. I wasn’t really hyped up for this one, but I grew up loving the original trilogy, and am one of very few people who can appreciate the most recent trilogy ;). But for some reason, I just wasn’t excited to see The Force Awakens. We want to see it anyway, of course, and I was caught off-guard at how good it was. And I am loving the main character, Rey. She’s not an overpowering man-hating feminist, but she is a very strong leading woman and it was awesome. If you haven’t seen it – GO SEE IT.

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On Monday, I was able to go down to St. Paul with a friend here just for a little day out in the city. We had such a lovely time going ice skating, looking at beautiful homes on Summit Ave, eating lunch by St. Thomas, visiting the Cathedral, and obviously going to Trader Joe’s. I can’t not go to TJ when it’s nearby. Success!

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Finally, last night we attended Lessons & Carols at our parish. Very different from the version that the seminary in Boston would put on, but still a nice evening. Plus one big bonus: livestock. Yes, our parish had a donkey, a sheep, and two goats. It was great. So many happy things.

Now off to finish a bunch of things before the Christmas season begins!

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