7QT: Christmas Celebrations

The Christmas season is still going strong, and while we could have been more intentional this Advent, we are grateful for the blessings we’ve received. Some of our highlights have been:

1 // Lessons & Carols at St. Paul Seminary –  since our first Advent together in 2012 (woah!), we have attended a Lessons & Carols Concert during Advent. In Boston, we went to St. John’s Seminary – typically the second Sunday (or Saturday night) in Advent – and it was always done sooooo well. It has always been the way we really mark the Advent season. Last year we attended the concert at our parish in Duluth – a bit underwhelming compared to the Schola at the sem, but still a treat nonetheless! This year we ventured out to SPS (in terribly cold & snowy weather) and it was, as always, a joy for the Gearns family. The one difficult part was not really knowing anybody. We said hello to a couple of seminarians that we’re acquainted with, but it’s such a different experience when I lack the connections to the Catholic community that I have in other places. I’m sure it will come, it’s just a void that is very noticeable.

2 // I’ve briefly mentioned how much I love our apartment, and it really shined this Advent. It’s not that it’s super large or fancy, but it’s got a cozy feeling to it (so much more so than our previous residences). We’ve really come into our own with decor and such – so just adding minor touches of a Boxwood wreath with a purple piece of fabric, an Advent wreath on a cake stand with beeswax candles, the a small nativity setup on our prayer shelf, and finally our purple cloth over our tv (a Gearns tradition) – it really lifted our spirits.

3 // We traveled to PA to spend Christmas with my family for the long weekend, and it was a good time. Different, since the older siblings/spouses/nieces were absent, but still a really great time with the rest of them. Sometimes it’s nice being home without every nook & cranny of the house crowded with people. I love it when we all get to be together, for sure, but the slower pace is also welcome. And like most holidays, my family hosts all the extended family the day of. So we still got to share the day with most of the cousins/aunts/uncles and had a delightful time!

4 // We saw the Nutcracker in Philly Friday night, which we looooved. Kevin and I saw it in Boston together when we were dating and have been longing to see it again. I also just love getting dressed up and going downtown for an occasion like that. So yay!

5 // I got some good quality time walking around my favorite spots back home. Kevin and I went for neighborhood walks – admiring all the beautiful colonial architecture (something that is sorely lacking out here in the Midwest, but I get it). Then I got to meet up with my best friends from high school at our favorite breakfast spot. The four of us have not all been together in a very long time – partly because one of them lives in Abu Dhabi now (world traveler, she is). So we had an absolutely lovely time and probably overstayed our welcome at the small restaurant.

6 // Christmas morning, Kevin and I went over to the perpetual adoration chapel at my family’s parish (it’s such a gem) and prayed for a bit. I absolutely love being able to do things like this – it really helps us to shift our focus as we ought for this wonderful celebration. After leaving the chapel, we prayed morning prayer on a bench outside and an elderly woman came up to us go give us a special prayer card for the precious blood of Jesus. She said it looked like we were praying for a special intention (which we were, and have been for quite some time) and that this prayer is incredibly powerful. So she gave it to us and then let us be. It was so beautiful!

7 // Now I know Christmas is not all about gifts (obviously), but I do want to mention a couple of things that I was SO SO SO excited to receive. My fabulous husband, who knows me so well, bought me this amazing lunchbox. Given that I eat practically an AIP diet (autoimmune paleo), my lunches are typically one container with spinach/kale, some protein, and then a variety of vegetables. And I’m not complaining about that because we eat well and I usually enjoy it very much. But sometimes it’s nice to have a little variety and separate the foods for a different experience. This lunchbox, eco-friendly, safe from all toxins, & cute! has multiple spots for all your fixin’s – vegetables, nuts, fruit, meat, two sealed containers (one for a dressing of sorts and the other for more liquid type foods). I am newly rejuvenated to eat lunch in 2017. So thank you, Kevin. You have won this round of gift giving. Other honorable mentions – this dress, these boots, and the annual matching sportswear that my dad gets everyone in the family (I’m being serious, he really knows how to pick this stuff). As always, I’m too spoiled, and my family is overly generous. But I’m super grateful as most of the gifts are quality investments that really help us out. So praise God for all that we have been provided for – we really do live super well.

Merry Christmas to you & yours!

7 shops for unique gifts

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! I’m linking up with Kelly today 🙂

I love gift giving. You could even say it’s my love language…which it is. Through and through. I put a lot of thought into the gifts I choose for people, and it’s often the way I express my love and gratitude. I especially love giving more personalized gifts, or things that don’t necessarily say “I cost $15” but rather are appreciated for the thought.

Now some of the shops below may seem a bit more expensive (while others are not!), but take it as general inspiration. I’ve often handmade gifts myself based on something I’ve seen online.

[ 1 ] Artifact Uprising

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I looooove this place. It’s my new favorite shop for photo-related gifts. I got something for myself the first time around and I can’t tell you how good the quality is. You upload your own photos and can make your own projects. And when you first signup, you get 25 prints free (5×5)! The paper is nice card stock and the pictures came out wonderfully.

[ 2 ] Brim Papery

What an adorable little shop, amiright?! Jolie makes the most beautiful products all herself and I love it all. She has stationary, mugs, calendars, prints, organization sheets, and more! Do yourself a favor and get over to her shop for some beauty.

[ 3 ] Uncommon Goods

This is an oldie, but a goodie for me. I haven’t bought anything from there in a while because I went through my favorite products a couple years back in gift giving. But I love their state/regional line of goods. I have friends/family that live all over and I’ve bought dish towels (which I’ve also received as a gift and love!), coasters, and other fun little trinkets.

[ 4 ] Hatch Prints

Who doesn’t love gorgeous hand lettered prints? And the quotes used often have a Catholic tone to them. If I was made of money, I’d buy all of these and then frame them for all over my home. Once, again – just gorgeous products from a small business owner.

[ 5 ] Young Living Essential Oils

I had to put this on here. I love these oils and they are definitely going to make it into some gifts this year. A gift of wellness & care! And they have some great seasonal products out right now, so go check it out. Check out my essential oils page for more info!

[ 6 ] Personalization Mall

This one is almost a joke at how well-priced it is. There are always so many coupons available. This one’s great for weddings, anniversaries, parents, and pretty much any occasion. You can get almost anything personalized for super cheap. I used this at least a couple times a year.

[ 7 ] Other favorites that aren’t a specific shop:

  • Instagram Coasters – I’ve had great luck with these for friends (I still see the coasters used when I go to their homes!).
  • Homemade Coasters – a bit more work, but my siblings have loved these coasters and my mom just requested I make her some as well. I get marble floor samples from Home Depot (4×4), and do a little bit of hodgepodge magic with some gloss finishing and voila!
  • Framed Map Prints – you can find these all over Etsy, but you can see an example here. I’ve mentioned many of my friends and family live all over, and some of them move frequently for the military or are away from their home town/state. A framed print can be a really sweet gift!

That’s all for now. Enjoy the weekend! 🙂