February at its finest

Lately, despite a little bit of sickness (that’s what we get for diving back into grains – I knew the paleo lifestyle is what kept me healthy this past year! I’m back to it now after my week of frivolity!), we’ve been really living it up & enjoying our time together. We’re trying not to get a case of the February’s, and I think we’re doing a fine job.

[Early morning running along Lake Superior…trying to get back into a habit.]

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[Sunday breakfast at Va Bene #worthit #twosundaysinarow #ournewspot]IMG_1611

[Day trips with friends – and seeing a real life mine!]IMG_1605

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[Our short-lived relationship with grains – good, but not good enough.]IMG_1613

[Making new friends (or reuniting for Kevin) & enjoying good company.]IMG_1614

So take that winter! I hope you’re all staying warm & getting your cozy on.

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)!

 

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!

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!

A few of my favorite things.

It’s funny that my last post was on the joys of winter. I spoke too soon!! The past two weeks here in New England have been crazy in terms of the weather. I thought we were having a nice, mild winter and then the parade of snow storms started! Now, I’m trying to give Boston some credit…trying. I get it, it’s a super tiny & congested city, so at some point, too much snow is just too much snow. But my goodness! A two hour commute to work that should be 30 minutes?!?! It’s ridiculous. And they want to host the olympics?!?! They be mad. Bottom line: I’m over it.

It’s so easy to start feeling down in times like this when I don’t get my Vitamin D exposure, my rides to and from work are painful, and then quality time at home is limited. But I want to be happy! So I’m going to think about the things that bring me tidbits of joy!

Lattes. I will never be bashful about liking a good latte. Can I always slash ever afford one? Umm, not really. But they are delicious and they comfort me. And when my monthly spending allowance is low, I will make my own! Some good mystic monk espresso classico, frothed whole milk (or almond if it’s on hand!), tasty caramel sauce, and a dash of cinnamon! And voila – day. made.

Candles. Kevin and I are big on candles in our apartment. And when we find a super good smelling one like we did recently (it’s been in our closet for months!), we love to just let that thing burn all evening.

Soups! I’ve been making homemade soups lately – a lot less difficult that I thought – there’s just the time to cut up the veggies and then having to wash the blender afterwards. But the batches make large portions and a cozy dinner (topped with bacon and cheese when possible). We’ve done butternut squash soup, a super loose version of this cauliflower soup, and I’m hoping to try a kale & sweet potato soup this week. #lovinit

Romantic Comedies. In the past week, I’ve watched Notting Hill (oh to be back on Portobello Road!), 27 Dresses (aka a glimpse into my life), and Leap Year (if only just for the beauty of Ireland!). Thank the Lord for Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.

Long socks. Gosh, I love socks so much. And I have a few pairs of thigh-high socks and I LOVE THEM. They are so comfy and awesome to wear around the apartment when I’m in pajama shorts or something. Although…I did wear a black pair to work over my tights this week hoping that nobody would notice (just had to keep making sure my dress covered them!). Nobody did 🙂

Thrive Market! I got wind of this great site from Wellness Mama and it’s essentially Amazon Prime but for natural and sustainable products. Obviously, the selection is small(ish), but my first order I got 15% off and free shipping because it was over $49. But it’s awesome because I got products that I would normally buy at Trader Joe’s or order on amazon, but in bulk and at wholesale prices! Bam. Check it out!

And then there’s the blogosphere slash podcasts. I’ve been reading so much online content and listening to some awesome interviews. In terms of podcasts, I’ve really enjoyed a couple of episodes of Fountains of Carrots, especially the one with Hallie Lord. What a great interview on marriage! Also, Wellness Mama – she is the bomb. I’ve gotten to many awesome tips from her, and listened to some great podcasts on hormonal health, fertility, and thyroid issues.

Well, that’s my Wednesday!

The little joys of winter.

Hands down, autumn is my favorite season. Spring is a close second. Both, to me, are like bursting out from under water to pure, fresh air…that’s a bit extreme, maybe. But summer weather is too much for me. I don’t like humidity and sweating. Winter isn’t awful, but looking like a marshmallow all the time does get a bit old. And my body temp is cold by default, so below freezing temperatures don’t help me.

HOWEVER, I don’t hate it. And there are little things that make this season enjoyable for me and get me through it. Besides the obvious, like Christmas and snow (in moderation), I find myself [a bit too] excited over sunny days, homemade lattes, netflix, board games, and more.

Winter

There’s something to be said for a frigid day and bright sun. Like this morning, the light through our balcony window is blinding and it’s only 10 degrees. But we’re still excited to go for a walk. Winter vitamin D. It’s hard to get sometimes, but it’s worth it when you do. And it makes the cold more bearable.

And then there’s the homemade lattes. With our remaining Macy’s and Crate and Barrel gift cards from the wedding, we got a couple little things on sale and they’ve made a little bit of difference to our weekend mornings. We bought this espresso maker and this frother. Both work so well and kick our morning caffeine up a notch. Pleasantly enjoyed while we indulge in Parks & Recreation – Netflix’s greatest gift to my life.

And finally…if being inside is our best option (which it typically is), we’re fine with just playing a board game or catching up on some reading that doesn’t happen during the week. In the nicer weather, there’s more of a pull do “do stuff.” And we love doing. We love going for walks, looking at homes, going out and getting things done. But sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to stay in, spend a couple hours reheating my drink, or read my book with candles lit all around.

So for now, I’ll take it, January. God has made everything appropriate for its time. [Ecc 3:11]