Filed In: Faith

My Favorite Small Shops for Holiday Gifts

I am a huge fan of Etsy and love supporting women and moms who are running small businesses. So, if you’re looking for creative gift ideas, here are some of my favorite shops and products:

Dear Knot

She has the cutest macramé wall hangings. How cute would this snowflake wreath be for a little girl’s room? I ordered some of these keychains as gifts and love them. They’d make great stocking stuffers or secret Santa gifts, too. 15% off with code CYBER15

These macramé keychains are about $6 each with the discount code.

Rose Henges

Probably my favorite Etsy shop to date. I adore her style. I took advantage of her sale on Friday and got this C.S. Lewis quote + lion painting that has been on my wish list for a long time. I also love these gorgeous letter prints that are less than $3 if you print yourself! P.S. The entire shop is on sale today.

Rose Harrington

This is a lovely Catholic art shop. I like this print for the kitchen. I love this quote too: “The world doesn’t need what women have, it needs what women are.” 25% off with code SHOPSMALL2017

Vintage Cloud Shop

A mix of vintage clothes + homegoods as well as art with a nature, fauna, and desert vibe. Nathan bought me an amazing vintage skirt from here a couple years ago (he’s the best). Nichol has such great taste and I love her nature-filled art. These cool temporary tattoos would make great stocking stuffers.

Seams Like

This shop is my new obsession. Isn’t it amazing? Stuff sells out almost immediately, but if you have a vintage lover on your list, maybe you could snag her a cozy sweater or something. Follow Jolie on Instagram to find out when she’s adding more to the shop (usually every two weeks). I bought Henry some cute vintage sweaters for Christmas. 15% off with code THANKS

The Fox & She on Minted

I have a large print of this painting in our dining room and love it! Minted is a great place to find high-quality, affordable prints by artists.

Lily Jade

If you’re pregnant, I highly recommend putting one of these diaper bags on your baby list. This diaper bag doesn’t even look like a diaper bag, which is one reason I love it so much. I also like that it converts into a backpack so I can have both of my hands free.

I heart this diaper bag. I can even carry my laptop in it.

Pacific Loom

I have a weave from this shop and like how it adds texture to my gallery wall. It looks like she has added macramés now, too.

The rust + cream colored weave is from this shop!

Middle West Knitting Co

A family friend had Anna make us one of these pixie hats for Henry when he was born and it was my favorite baby hat. He looked like a little gnome. I also like Anna’s pom-pom charms. 20% off everything today

See what I mean? Little gnome? #love (more…)

7 QT: Podcasts, Sleep, and Sugar

It’s strangely humid here in Minneapolis but the trees are also beginning to change, so I’m caught between something I love (fall trees) and something I don’t love (humidity). C’est la vie. To be honest, there are so many posts I’ve been working on but I feel stuck at a weird place with all of them, so for the sake of posting something, here I am. Many of the bloggers I follow do seven quick takes on Fridays. It’s mostly a Catholic blogger thing, but today I’m going to follow suit.

So, seven things right now:

1

I discovered a new podcast that I love: Typology. If you’re into the Enneagram, check it out. I read the book The Road Back to You this summer and had a book club discussion with some friends about it. Fascinating stuff.

2

I’ve been getting more sleep. Now that Henry usually sleeps through the night (as long as I dream feed him before I go to bed), I can actually get full night’s rest. I’ve been going to bed between 9:15-10:15pm and I finally feel rested when I get up with Henry around 6:00am. It’s made me such a happier person. Good sleep habits are as good as kale.

3

Bye, bye sugar. At least for a little while. I’m taking a break from most refined grains and processed sugar this month. This is nothing compared to the likes of Whole30, but I wanted to reset my habits and cutting out sugar has been helping. I’ve noticed a huge difference in how I feel after breakfast, too. I used to start my day with cereal or granola, but since I’m taking a break from processed sugar, I’ve been having either:

a green smoothie (something like spinach, peaches, banana, chia seeds, sunflower seed butter, and almond milk)

a couple slices of whole grain toast with avocado and eggs on top

oatmeal with walnuts, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, almond milk, cinnamon, and maybe sliced banana

If I’m in a hurry, I usually have a piece of toast with natural peanut butter and some berries.

4

Morning walks. This hasn’t happened every day, but I’m trying to get in the rhythm of going for a short walk with Henry after breakfast. Even though we live in the city, I find it most natural to connect with God in nature. I like letting my thoughts lead to prayer while I walk. (more…)

My Guide to Iowa City

“I can’t believe how huge these spinach fields are,” my roommate from Chicago observed on our drive through Iowa.

“Spinach fields?” my other roommate, from Iowa, glanced back from the passengers seat and looked at her.

“Yeah, there’s so much spinach everywhere!” my Chicagoan roommate continued.

The two Iowans in the car erupted in laughter. She and I did not know why.

“It’s soybeans! Not spinach. Spinach doesn’t grow in fields like this!” they explained, breathless from laughing.

Soybeans are things most Iowans understand. And I love them for it. As someone who grew up in the suburbs of big cities (Minneapolis and Austin), my agricultural knowledge is limited to comments I’ve heard and a few facts from books. Many of the Iowans I met during college grew up on or near farms and learned about the land experientially and from relatives.

The beautiful mural outside of Dulcinea.

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Iowa City holds a dear place in my life. I arrived there when I was eighteen and left when I was twenty-five. It was the place where I found my love of words. The place where I struggled to integrate my creative passions–poetry and dance especially–with my faith. The place where I poured into others yet rarely knew how to let someone pour into me. The place where I floundered to know myself. Yet it was also the place where God always found me and brought me back to Himself. It was a place where I grew to depend on the Lord more than any earthly thing. I am grateful God brought me to Iowa City. I am grateful for the ballet classes and the writing workshops. The years as a writing tutor, a poetry editor, and a person learning how to be a friend. I am grateful for the years God gave me to work at church and pour into other women as a mentor and counselor.

A couple weekends ago, we drove down to Iowa City since it had been three years since I’ve visited. It’s both strange and grounding to return to a place after so much change has happened in my life: I’m married, have a son, own a house, and enjoy a calling as a stay-at-home mom who tries to write when my baby sleeps. (more…)

Springtime

Copied this template from The Fisk Files (I love Britt’s blog).

making: decisions about paint colors (we bought a house on Friday!). I’m usually fairly decisive but paint colors have me going to Home Depot again and again for more samples.

cooking: do roasted veggies count as cooking? Potatoes and carrots drizzled with olive oil, salt, fresh pepper, and dried herbs. Yum.

drinking: Decaf coffee on repeat. #nursing

reading: I was reading The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity but I’ve already renewed it three times from the library and had to return it today. I’ll finish it at some point, fingers crossed. It’s pretty woo woo but I love her premise that everyone is creative.

wanting: to be done moving! Boxes and a general sense of disorganization are my life right now.

looking: like I’ve lost a lot of hair. Postpartum hormones did me in and my hair is T to the hin. (more…)

Postpartum Complications Scene 13: My Drain Tubes Come Out

(Scene twelve is here.)

On Tuesday, eleven days since the Friday night when I went to the emergency room, I am alone in a hallway by the ultrasound rooms. I’m daydreaming about my ultrasounds during my pregnancy. I had my first one when I was nine weeks pregnant and I remember seeing his small body move like a jellyfish on the black and white screen. I think about how full of awe I was as I watched him. My baby, there you are.

I realize how different this ultrasound will be. Instead of searching for life today, they are searching for any problems still lingering in my torn up body.

After they push my bed into the tiny room, a young technician begins squeezing clear jelly on my squishy, childless belly as she searches for remaining signs of infection.

She is not saying anything.

“I sometimes forget that ultrasounds can be used for things besides looking at babies,” I say, trying to make conversation with her.

“Yeah,” she says, quietly probing my belly while she stares at her computer screen. (more…)

Postpartum Complications Scene 10: Emotions & God

(Scene nine is here.)

I am someone who loves to feel clean. I wash my hair everyday even though I know how bad it is for your hair. I put on lipstick even if I’m not leaving home. I swear lipstick makes me more productive. These are things none of the hospital staff know about me because day after day at the hospital has made me look wildly neglected. My hospital gown is awkwardly soaked with breast milk and I have no motivation to put on a new one. My hair is so greasy it doesn’t look blonde anymore. I haven’t brushed my teeth in days. My eyes are bloodshot from the lack of sleep. My skin is sad and severely lacking in vitamin D.

With tears I tell Nathan, “I feel like someone took my body away from me.”

My picture of the future is erased: colorless, blank, and unknown. These complications are ruining me, hollowing me out and leaving me breathless. I want to be with my baby, but feel like there is no me left to be with him.

I’m honest with God about how I feel. Most of my prayers are composed of elegant demands like “Get me out of here” and “God, I hate this” and, most often, “Help me.” God is patient with me through it all. He doesn’t need me to be strong. He just wants me to come to him. (more…)

A Mom Book

As I’m sure you know from real life, I had the baby!

Henry is now 3.5 months and is the sweetest little guy. He smiles and coos and makes the best facial expressions and loves to cuddle. Okay, maybe the cuddle part is me.

Henry’s birth was difficult (understatement of 2016) and I had some rare complications afterward, so it was not the easiest of transitions. But our days are gaining some semblance of routine. I love being his mom. I’ve been thinking about sharing more of his birth story and my postpartum experience, but I have yet to figure out how to share about such events on the internet, so we shall see!

Other news I’m sure you’re dying to know:

  • I googled “three months postpartum hair loss” today. Our wood floors are covered in my hair no matter how much swiffering I do and it is slightly freaky. But according to google it’s also normal. Thanks, Google.
  • We’re looking for a house to buy! I’m pretty sad to leave our beloved 660 square foot city apartment, but I’m excited to move. I get lost daydreaming about how I’m going to rearrange wall art these days.
  • I found two pairs of colored Gap jeans (pink and a muted mint) that fit PERFECTLY on ThredUp and I’m quite happy about them. I also got them for about $10 each, which makes me even happier.
  • I’m in the middle of reading Found by Micha Boyett and I feel like she is a kindred spirit.

(more…)

A Prayer for the New Year

I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.

If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,

thou wilt be with me in them;

If I have to pass through tempest of persecution and temptation,

I shall not drown;

If I am to die,

I shall see thy face the sooner;

If a painful end is to be my lot,

grant me grace that my faith fail not;

If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,

I can make no stipulation;

Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,

as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

-The Valley of Vision, “Year’s End”

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