7QT: Solemnities, Winter, and Prints

Happy Friday! Linking up with Anabelle (who is hosting this week’s 7QT) on this fine day 🙂

1 // This week started off pretty fantastically with the lingering graces from the Blessed is She Advent retreat. We had a small group of six women, and it was truly wonderful. I got in my sisterly community time while also being a happy hostess. Many thanks to Blessed is She for putting it together!

2 // I’ve done a fairly decent job so far of decorating our house and making it a bit of our own. There are limitations because the house is co-owned with Kevin’s brother, who is currently deployed. We don’t want to take over the house completely or alter it in anyway out of respect for him. There is still one giant wall, though, that is empty behind the couch. So I purchased this frame set from Amazon and also bought some lovely prints from Erica of Be a Heart Designs and the WanderlustStar Etsy shop.

3 // The amazon set comes with two 5×7 frames, four 4×6 frames, and one 8×10 frame. The prints I bought on Etsy will go into the smaller frames, and the 8×10 is going to be a seasonal print that I’ve put together. It’ll be my little way of adding some seasonal decor without trying very hard. You can grab a free copy of my winter print here! That photo is a picture of our driveway. Reasons why I’m hoping this winter is a bit mild.

4 // Tuesday was the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Aka one of the very best days of the year. Seriously. It’s a very special day for me and Kevin (and all practicing Catholics). We attended Mass, celebrated by our friend Fr. Michael, with Suzanne, had a few special moments after Mass, and then went to Fitger’s Brewhouse to celebrate! It was a wonderful evening with the four of us. Lots of laughter and happiness. There were a couple parishioners of Fr. Michael’s at a table nearby who ended up paying for our meal. I was blown away by their generosity! The whole day was simply splendid.

5 // Since moving here, I’ve been ecstatic about all the time I have to cook and bake from scratch. It makes the paleo(ish) lifestyle way easier and more budget-friendly. For some reasons, I entered into a total slump this week. It’s like I have no desire at all to do anything in the kitchen. Of course, I don’t really have a choice if I want to eat…so I do. But it’s so odd for me to feel this way! I’m hoping it’s just the blah of the cold and rainy weather.

6 // Speaking of rainy weather, it was pretty gross out yesterday and I looked at the forecast and it called for continuous rain until Sunday. I was so not having that. And then at dinner time I looked outside and saw that it had changed to snow! It really does make my heart happy to see the lovely snow fall around our house, but I’m conflicted because that also means snow removal. Yikes. And if you look at the print above, we have a pretty lengthy (dirt-road type) driveway. At least by my East coast suburban standards. So…I will take the snow…in little increments. So far it’s been beautiful!

7 // This weekend should be pretty exciting as we have quite a bit going on. Tomorrow is the Newman Alumni Christmas party for Kevin’s college campus ministry. A fair number of people are traveling into town, and a couple will be staying with us. It’s always a joy to host additional people here. Then on Sunday (Gaudete Sunday!), we’ll be going with a few friends to cut down our own tree! Not just to point at one and some employee cuts it down. We get to cut it down! I’m really excited for this. Kevin will still probably be the one to do the work, but I’m still stoked for the experience. Then we’re going to setup the trees at our respective homes and finish the night with apps & a movie. #livingthegoodlife

I hope you all have a delightful weekend!

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! 🙂

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!

 

Seven Quick Takes: Finding My Routine

Happy Friday! I’m linking up with Kelly over at This Ain’t the Lyceum!

[ 1 ]

This week Kevin started work, and thus starts the beginning of my time home alone during the days. I’m working from home at the moment (please pray the work continues, because it is a huge blessing for our family!), which has been great…and also weird. Now that it’s just me in the house, and work doesn’t occupy every single second of my day, I feel guilty for having time to do things I wouldn’t normally get to do! Like preparing more meals from scratch, picking up crochet again, praying more, starting beginners yoga…okay, now it sounds like I don’t work at all. But I do, I promise!

[ 2 ]

Speaking of meals from scratch, I made paleo tortillas this week and they were the bomb. Because of Pinterest, I rarely utilize a physical cookbook anymore (even though I still love them), but the one exception is Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain. The recipes are so good! I fed some guests the fudge brownies I made from her book, and I received very high compliments before telling them they were grain-free. The pancake and waffle recipe – also amazing.

[ 3 ]

We’ve been continuing to plow through Gilmore Girls – season five – and finished last night. At this point, it’s just plain addicting, and I will say that it’s not always satisfying. Rory just makes so many poor life decisions! But Lorelai and Luke – love! Also, anyone else have strong reactions to the announcement of a possible additional short season for Netflix?!

[ 4 ]

I’ve picked up crocheting again (more like – trying to figure it out all over again). I’m not the best with crafty things like this, but I’m giving it the old college try. I thought I was making a scarf, but I think I’m gonna cut it short, sew the ends together and make a winter headband. Maybe I’ll post the final results…maybe.

[ 5 ]

This past Saturday we attended the NFP Dinner Dance here in Duluth. A bunch of people congregated all in favor of the free use of terms like mucus, menstruation, and fertile days. We were invited by a family in the area and had a lovely time. Good food, dancing, great conversation, and, oh yes, someone gave us a raffled off red velvet cake that is like 3x the size of my head…and I can’t eat a single bite of it. WOMP.

[ 6 ]

So what did we do? We invited a family over Monday night to eat cake…after dinner, of course. This couple and their two little girls were a delight to host – Kevin knew the husband back from his days in seminary. It’s always fun meeting great married couples that we can talk with and relate to. And their little 3 year old girl was a hoot. Like, seriously. I loved it. And with Kevin’s help throughout the week, we’re slowly getting rid of the cake.

[ 7 ]

I’ve been diffusing En-R-Gee for the past few mornings and man does it rock. It’s such a good smell and I kid you not when I say it helps me wake up and be focused when I am trying to structure my day and get things done. I am able to delve much more into my oils lately and it’s so good. 🙂

That’s about it for today! Have a lovely weekend!

Seven Quick Takes

It’s been quite sometime since joined 7QT; though, to be fair, I haven’t had the most regular of schedules in a long, long time. So here it goes…

1 // Kevin and I, after a month of intense/crazy/nerve-wracking/risk-taking transition time, have begun to settle in this week. So much has happened in the past several weeks that has prevented us from being at ease, but this week is different and it feels so good. Within a few hours, I had a the living room and kitchen all decorated to my liking, the books all unpacked, and seasonal decor out in the open. Life is already infinitely better just because of that.

2 // The weather here has been very beautiful considering I was prepared to see snow at the end of September. There have been some colder days in the low 50’s, but that’s really as low as it’s been during the day (except for today…). We have been blessed with a number of sunny days in the 60’s and those days are pure perfection for me! I don’t imagine this will go on much longer, but I’ve been taking in the Minnesota beauty while I can.

3 // Sunday was the annual asian beetle invasion here in Minnesota…nuff said.

4 // Kevin and I are now on season five of Gilmore Girls. We go through our shows, typically ones that just bring us joy (like Parks & Rec), which GG sometimes does…but we’ve been heartbroken and let down lately with Rory’s sequence of poor decisions. We’re hoping it gets better. Our main draw to Gilmore Girls, though, especially right now, is the East Coast small town of Stars Hollow. While we are confident in our decision to move out here, we both have been missing our former home. Especially in the autumn!

5 // I began my first ever homemade batch of Kombucha this week! This has been a long time coming. I bought my SCOBY months ago and traveled cross country with it. But given that we’ve been in limbo-ville for quite some time, I didn’t feel the timing was right with fermented products sitting around for a couple weeks. I’m hoping it turns out okay! And maybe when it’s all ready, I’ll add some ginger or lemon flavoring.

6 // I’ve decided I need to read more. I feel like there was a period of my life towards the end of college and engagement when I read a lot. A lot of spiritual reading, primarily. And then life just got way busier and has not stopped. I’ve read maybe a few books since then (embarrassing to admit) and have just not been able to finish many more. First book? City of God by St. Augustine. I’ve owned this monster of a book since reading Confessions back in 2011 (which is one of my favorites). But by golly, this book ain’t no joke. It may take me a few years, but bit by bit. Second book? The Fellowship of the Ring because everyone needs a good nighttime read. I’ve read LOTR before and loved it, but am eager to revisit the story. And maybe some other quicker reads thrown in there.

7 // I made my own shampoo this week, and I just don’t know. I’ve wanted to eliminate store-bought shampoo for a long time, but it’s just. so. hard. I can deal with other product replacements, and I’ve had good success with some. But my hair. I’m sure there’s a decent time period that one is supposed to just suck it up and deal with the greasy and oily hair feeling but I don’t want to. I like the stripping effect of sulfates even if it’s not good for me! I like feeling like my hair has volume and is not droop-town, USA. So I’m still figuring this one out. Maybe I just need a new recipe; I’ll keep you posted.