A Day of Remembrance

Last night I got an email from Kristen Hawkins, President of Students for Life (not a personal email, I’m not that special) saying that the annual Students for Life Conference would be cancelled this weekend due to weather. While I live nowhere near DC and had no intention of attending, this saddened me. My whole life I had been pro-life, but it was also never something I seriously considered. It just made sense. Don’t kill babies.

My senior year of college, though, I had the privilege to attend the March for Life along with the conference. Sitting in that auditorium with hundreds (thousands?) of students and listening to those incredible speakers: my heart was changed. The whole experience was so profound for me – I left on a retreat-like high. And while my life is quite different now than it was five years ago (ugh – five years?!) – I don’t get into abortion debates with the everyday acquaintance – I’m still changed by that event. Which is why I am so upset with this DC weather for thwarting it this year!

It is a tragedy that so many in our country are either passionately pro-choice/abortion, or (maybe worse?) just lukewarm to the topic. Even with most of the medical community now acknowledging that life does, in fact, begin at conception, the issue is still not resolved. Far from it. While there have been strides in the pro-life movement (I think you’d be surprised to learn that the pendulum is actually swinging in this direction these days, despite the loud efforts of opposing parties), there is still so much to be done.

What is one way we can support this cause? The cause of life. Maybe you’re attending the March in DC (or a local one in your city), maybe you have a conversation with someone who isn’t exactly convinced, or maybe you offer up fasting & prayer.  Whatever it is – kudos to you.

My favorite sign from the March for Life 2011.

 

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)!

 

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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