Selfie times + a FREE illustration PDF just ’cause you’re great.

Good week to you all.

I turned 30 a few weeks ago. My thoughts about the big three-oh are inscribed here, forever and ever or until something like Revolution happens.  Craig and I loved that show. WHY was it cancelled!?  For my thirtieth I got the trifecta of the cliche Housewives of [enter your city] Spa day– which I’ve never in my 30 years gotten to do!

A prenatal massage (foxily covered by our FSA!) at the crack of dawn?  Yes, I’ve had one before; but at 30, and after having three children, I must say it was infinitely more appreciated and enjoyed.

property of Carolyn Svellinger

Breakfast at Starbucks with the obligatory free Birthday coffee and cake pop? Yes. Best believe I haven’t missed that one since they came out with it.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

An hour to write, uninterrupted? Hardly ever, but YES. That hour produced this post.

A pedicure? Check.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

Lunch out with my baby sister? Amen.

[[No photo here because I was stuffing my face with Panera.]]


So I got to do all of dat in one day, and I was exhausted after it all. And then I was disgusted about being exhausted.  But the boys made it all worth it in the following hours and consecutive days by being screechy and pooping lots.  Scenes not shown in reality TV.

BUT, I know why you’re really here. WHO won my Favorite Things Giveaway?! I announced it on my Facebook page, and Rafflecopter has it displayed below the post.  There you go!

I really, really, really am bummed I couldn’t give to everyone, but there is something I can give- which won’t make up for the loveliness of the giveaway, but what about a free printable PDF of this little illustration I scribbled out?


Click here (or on the image above) to download your FREE Print :)

With all the snow hitting us and all the grams of the FOOT-age hitting –especially this lady– I just can’t get this line from Disney’s Frozen out of my head.
There you go! Love to you all– and keep your eyes open for a few more little giveaways.

HINT: Rimal Rit Raste. Comin back atcha soon :)


A few of my favorite Things {GIVEAWAY!}


Property of Carolyn Svellinger

Snifffffff… nothin’ like the smell of b*tchy resting face in the plain of day.

Welcome to a few examples of why Carolyn doesn’t fashion blog much.  Also welcome to my 2014 All Star list of favorite locally made and health-aware products.   These lovely items have outshone everything else among my items I consider a luxury which I am blessed to be able to wear and use on a regular basis.  Let’s untie that brown paper package, shall we?   **Note note note** that I love these products so much that I’m an affiliate for many of them, and I so appreciate you clicking on and purchasing through the links (at no additional cost to you) I give because it helps my family out. Thank you from me and mine.

giveaway, fashion, healthy living, essential oils, wrenn jewelry


{ Svellerella’s 2014 Favorite Things! }


 – The Wrapped Cardigan-

Seamly Wrapped cardigan, fashion

Say hello to my favorite cardigan this year:  Seamly Co.’s Wrapped Cardigan.  When I discovered Seamly Co through Instagram late last year, I purchased their purple wrapped cardigan while being totally excited to contribute to sustainable fashion and their awesome mission of producing US made goods.  After wearing it for everything from a cozy momiform to a flowy part of my Sunday Best, I’d worn the fellow out so much that I almost panicked knowing I needed a new one.

fashion, seamly wrapped cardigan

Seamly Co came out with a gorgeous oatmeal color this fall and will you cringe too much when I tell you …I fell? AH! My favorite thing about this cardigan is the flow-y forgiveness of a growing baby bump!  Blessedly versatile and look how cute!

fashion, seamly wrapped cardigan

Seamly Co shows us three different ways to wear this cardigan on their site.  Go look!

-Wrenn Jewelry-

Wrenn Jewelry, fashion

I know I’m singing the tune I’m every woman when I say I’m SUPER picky about the kind of jewelry I like.  By now I think I’ve made it loud and clear that I’m a lifer for Wrenn Jewelry.

Wrenn Jewelry, fashion


Alissa hand makes her simple, yet gorgeously sparkly lovelies with care and is so attentive to every detail.  Her pieces stand out individually, which is excellent because while I love (the right kind) of jewelry, I think less is more and everything she makes steals the show on its own.

Wrenn Jewelry, fashion
Did I mention Alissa is a mother of two who had her youngest baby while fighting Non-Hodgkins Follicular Lymphoma and Crohn’s Disease?  And have I mentioned that she’s the sweetest and one of the most generous people I’ve met through Instagram?  I know I have, but there it is again.
Check her site out, and treat yo’self. …or mention it to your significant other and offer to write his final paper in exchange for his purchase of the Green with Wrennvy Oval ring. I mean I didn’t do that, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Got a B. :(


-Primal Pit Paste deodorant-

Natural deodorant, whole living, health products

For the last few years I’ve gone through countless sticks of waxy natural deodorants in failed attempts to find something which keeps the stink at bay and also doesn’t ruin the pits of my clothes.  In the spring, my friend Ashley recommended I try Primal Pit Paste.   I ordered a jar of their patchouli scent. I ordered Craig a sample size because I can never be sure if he’s on board.  When I found myself angry that he kept stealing from my jar, I knew we’d found a winner.

We made it through the summer, with about three weeks of a broken AC, and guess whose pits never knew the difference?  Mine.
Guess what else? Primal Pit Paste now makes an actual stick of deodorant– but I’m too primal for that now and I love my jar of paste. ;)


-Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes-

Younique, makeup

Okay so I avoid online makeup/jewelry/handbag/nail wrap parties like the plague.  Why? Because in my experience, the product is never up to snuff, the style doesn’t jive with mine, and the prices are always more than I want to spend on something I don’t really like.

And then Ali messaged me about Younique 3D Fiber Lashes.  In my usual abrasive fashion, I told her of my skepticism.  But sweet Ali sent me a package in the mail and I found myself giving Younique a shot, despite my prejudices.  I’ve been using them for a solid 2 months and yep, she converted me.

BUT! The small catch about Younique Fiber Lashes –which I suspect is frequently misunderstood about the product– is that it’s not really a mascara.  The application process is totally different, though quite simple.

fashion, makeup, younique

When I first tried YM3DFL, I skimmed the instructions, and started slathering everything on in fast layers like a normal mascara and voila tarantula legs are shooting out of my eyelids and I look like a monster.   After re-reading everything and watching Ali’s tutorial, I carefully tried again– BA-BOOM!! My lashes were touching my eyebrows.  I looked Younique up on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database to check for the toxicity in their ingredients and I was impressed to see that it rates safer than my old faithful Bare Escentuals mascara.  I’m happy to have found another keeper!

This product truly is a little luxury, especially exciting to have around the holidays, and I’m giddy Ali was sweet enough to take a chance on queen Elsa.  Nah nah nah hey nah nah.

-Young Living Essential Oils-

Young Living, essential oil

I’ve been learning about using essential oils for a few years. Slowly I’ve tried a few different brands here and there, experimenting with different smells and since I’m predisposed to look for an alternative way to say, relieve a headache, calm a wild child at bedtime, sanitize grubby little hands, soothe an upset tummy, and relieve anxiety I guess I’m a big ol’ sucker for essential oils.  Last month I won a generous gift certificate to buy a startup kit with Young Living, and since I’d been talking with Craig for over a year about becoming a distributor (this is how slow I am about things), I finally signed up!  So here we are and I am super excited to be able to share my love of these wonderful oils with you directly.


Do you like my list?  I like my list.

Thanks to the generosity of my favorite companies, and as a huge thank you for your readership this year, you, my favorite Svell reader, have a chance to win each of these items in one big, virtual brown paper package tied up with the loveliest of strings.

The winner of my Faves of 2014 Giveaway will receive:

  1. A Seamly Co Wrapped Cardigan in your choice of color and size.

  2. $50 online Gift Card code to shop at Wrenn Jewelry

  3. One of Primal Pit Paste’s deodorants in your choice of scent, either a jar or a stick.

  4. Younique MoodStruck 3D Fiber Lashes from Ali Kettering

  5. A 5ml bottle of Young Living JOY Essential Oil

Come, come! Follow the rafflecopter prompts, do all the likes and all the things for more chances to win, and I’ll announce the winner Wednesday morning on my Facebook page.  US residents only, please.

EEEK! I’m so excited to see who wins!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


A 5 Faves linkup with Jenna!

My Turn! Ten Virtues of Mary: Profound Humility.

The words jumped out at me as if in all caps: PROFOUND HUMILITY.  I laughed. Okay then, God, I accept this challenge.

Today I’m joining Olivia in her beautiful series on The Ten Virtues of Mary, and I, much like Kelly, laughingly chose to write about Profound Humility, because I’m so good at it.           not.

According to Merriam-Webster, here’s the definition of the two words separately:


: having or showing great knowledge or understanding

: difficult to understand : requiring deep thought or wisdom

: very strongly felt


: the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people : the quality or state of being humble

These definitions set me up as a prime example of profound humility. Yes, I just knew this topic was for me.  Take my Facebook post from last week, as an example:

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

Hm. Maybe not so much?

My disclaimer about that little ranty rant is, if you remember, my family and I are currently squished into my Mom and Dad’s house while we find a new place to live, and destructo child #2 got into a box of stashed away markers and the rest of his brothers partook, and it was not pretty.  In my frustration over cleaning up the mess on my dear parent’s couch and clean tablecloth, I gritted my teeth and thought “I swear if ANYONE ever gives my children markers…” and then I impulsively wrote that little ditty.

The thing about this seemingly harmless, typical young mom stream of consciousness is that by turning it into a public service announcement, I’m lacking consideration for anyone who’s ever bought or might buy my children a gift.  I’ve perhaps now made a future gift giver insecure about what he or she might want to give my children because Ice Queen Carolyn’s going to scowl and post a public hatement about it on Facebook.
I’ve made it clear I can complain.  If that’s not clear enough, hi, I have a blog.  Go take a stroll through my older posts.
Did I mean it that way when I unthinkingly tapped “Post”?

No, of course not.
But that’s where humility resides: in thinking about someone other than myself, my inconveniences, my pains, and my frustrations.

 Understanding this can become a little confusing at times. It’s important to note there’s a difference between humility as a virtue, and being humiliated.   We can’t control when someone or some event makes us feel humiliated (even though that is also a great opportunity to seek God), but we can voluntarily take on a humble demeanor in those situations, and in everything else in order to love God and love our neighbor.

I should have exercised the virtue of humility in my case by keeping my mouth shut, my fingers scrubbing the marker stains in a physical form of prayer, and never letting anyone know about my little frustration.  But where’s the feel-good in that?

In our age, big mouths and Yoncé queens are celebrated to the mantra “be unapologetically you.”  With social media providing an immediate audience for nods and applauds of approval, it feels pretty good to get stuff like that off my chest, and then it’s easy to toss in “sorry I’m not sorry.”  Practicing a little humility is frequently met with rejection because our society tells us that to be humble it must require a suppression of who we are:

“I gotta say what I feel! That’s just how I am! I’m not gonna be fake!”

But to obnoxiously boast my loathing for the gift of markers really isn’t me being “just who I am.”
To shut my mouth and consider that I don’t want to hurt a beloved friend or family member does not mean I’m being fake.  Practicing humility calls us to swallow our moments of anger or frustration or desire in order that we may more deeply consider a grander picture; in order that we give Love a moment to enter the scene.  Capital L.

To strive for the virtue of humility, we begin by following what Jesus taught us: Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and then secondly, love your neighbor as yourself (Mk 12:30-31).  Each person we meet in every day life is not merely an equal, but a masterpiece.  

Humility, property of Carolyn Svellinger

Pope Francis spoke earlier this year in England and Wales during their celebrated Day for Life, saying,

Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect”.

That’s right.  I know what you’re thinking: The People of Walmart?  Masterpieces.

Mary was profoundly humble because she fully understood that life is a masterpiece– she had to know it in order for God to have specifically chosen her, and only her, to bring His only begotten Son into the world.

When she and St. Joseph arrived at the inn the night that Christ was born, she was probably in labor but she didn’t demand a room because she was the mother of Jesus, the Savior of the world.  She didn’t holler to speak to the Inn Keeper’s –what, wife? Manager?  She didn’t send Joseph to throw out some lowly “nobody” who wasn’t about to birth Jesus the Christ.  Knowing that the people occupying the taken rooms along with the Inn Keeper were all as loved and as wonderfully and fearfully made as she, Mary and St. Joseph took a humble place, a stable (or a cave, if you want to get nit picky about it), and she bore the King regardless.

If the mother of our Lord allowed her frustration over not finding a place to give birth to take a back seat, I have a lot of work to do because I just pitched a fit over a 10 pack of mini markers and let the world know it.

Why would I want to practice the virtue of profound humility?

For one, without it we cannot open ourselves to receive the grace –which only God can give us– to be better, holier people.  Don’t we want to be better?

How to practice the virtue of Profound Humility:

Humility is about serving others and thinking of them before myself.  However, it is in the spirit of humility -instead of in selfishness- of course, that I must think about myself.  I begin by examining my own actions, words, and thoughts.

What is my inner dialogue? Are my thoughts angry? Are they jealous? Are they covetous? Are they constantly in pursuit of material comforts? Walk down Ten Commandment Avenue every night before you go to bed, without justifying those thoughts or actions.   Did I think it? Yes.  Did I do/say it? Yes. Who could that have hurt?
God, show me how to be better next time.

If you’ve never done this before, you’ll quickly gain a better self awareness.
Looking inward is humbling indeed, and at times painful.

Yet we don’t remain pained and hopeless about our failings. We bring our struggles to God like a child brings his father a broken toy:
“Dad, can you fix it?”
And many times, like a teaching father he is, he shows his son or daughter how to fix it themselves, but with his guidance.

If we don’t take stock in our own actions, words and thoughts, we can never grow in humility.  Striving toward this virtue enables us to love God and to love our neighbors more deeply. We remember that we are each beautiful masterpieces of God’s creation.  We think before we do and before we speak, and when we fail –because we will–  we look to our Holy Mother who has always pointed us to Jesus and said “do whatever He tells you.”

And He has told us.


This post is part of a series on the Ten Virtues of Mary, hosted by To the Heights and running every Tuesday until the middle of December. So if you need some help in the virtue department, here’s a great place to start ;)

October 7 – An Introduction to the Ten Virtues of Mary – Olivia of To the Heights

October 14 – Lively FaithMolly of Molly Makes Do

October 21 – Blind ObedienceKendra of Catholic All Year

October 28 – Constant Mental PrayerJenna of Call Her Happy

November 4 – Heroic PatienceKelly of This Ain’t the Lyceum

November 11 – Profound HumilityCarolyn of Svellerella

November 18 – Angelic SweetnessRegina of Good One God

November 25 - Divine WisdomBritt of The Fisk Files

December 2 – Universal MortificationAbbey of Surviving Our Blessings

December 9 – Divine PurityGina of Someday Saints

December 16 – Ardent CharityChristy of Fountains of Home

December 17 – Massive GIVEAWAY at To the Heights – Just in time for Christmas


Enter the Dirty Thirty. Gladly.

Hey thar. I took a leave of blogsense last week, as the Svells up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T from Happy House- i.e., we moved out. We’re kind of in housing limbo right now (crammed into my parent’s house) until we know whether or not we’re getting relocated for Craig’s job- so can I ask you guys to pray for God’s holy will to be done? Obviously, relocation in the middle of my pregnancy will be a total circus act and you can expect I’ll be a total drama momma about it, but it will be good in the long run for our family.  I’m already nursing the most extreme sciatica I’ve ever experienced and I’m only 18 weeks along!  Who gets sciatic pain that early?!  Me. I win.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
Home is where a TV is jimmyrigged to a three legged table showing Sleepy Booty. They don’t even notice it’s empty.

Boring stuff aside– It’s November!  That means ’tis the season of MY BIRTHDAY! And I am turning thurdy.  burdy.  I have a big fat giveaway planned this month for YOU in thanksgiving of your readership, loving comments and support this year- and I cannot wait to spill the beans– It’ll be a few somethings of gorgeousness, sparkles, good smells, and flowy loveliness- AH! I just can’t wait.  So stay tuned.  :)

Anyway, here’s what I’ve got going on in my brain about turning 30, if you’re so inclined.

ALSO! Make sure to check out Kelly @ This Ain’t The Lyceum for her reflection on Heroic Patience tomorrow for Olivia’s 10 Virtues of Mary series.  If any momma knows about heroic patience, I bet it’s Kelly.

xo, Carolyn



Enter the Dirty Thirty, gladly.

A while back, Jen asked us to share theme songs to our lives.  She asks what songs we have emotionally attached to a specific time in our life.

I’ve wanted to do it ever since then- for example, The Killers’ Mr. Brightside will always, always, always extract me from the present and warp me straight to my sophomore year at the University of Cincinnati, into a friend’s hip apartment, crowded with dancing skinny jeans and cigarettes: hipsters before being a hipster was a thing, because- we were artists, oui.
Coldplay’s albums Rush of Blood To The Head , X&Y, Parachutes, and the Garden State Soundtrack will always transport me to a dingy drawing studio where I spent 10 hours a day scribbling my heart out.  Oh my gosh, what a fartsy little emo.

Jen has also asked  (even longer ago) the INTJ nightmare of “what song best describes your personality type?”  I knew right away that short of composing my own song, I’d never find THE one. The one which best describes me? pfft. I know how haughty that sounds, I do. But it’s not arrogance, I prom. It’s part of the INTJ personality; needing precisely what was asked for, not something kinda sorta close, not something with only parts of it which match, not something with lyrics that work but the music doesn’t.  So I didn’t participate because the limit does not exist. I really did want to participate- so it’s remained in my head all these months, something which I suspect is also telltale INTJ.


Since I’m turning 30 this month, I thought it’d be real good and annoying to find something which reflects my twenties, and the hindsight I have about it today.
Exit if you must. bye.

Also, Amazon affiliate link alert. ;)


It hit me at 8am one morning as I was kind of, maybe sobbing just a tiny bit over a mixing bowl filled with scone dough while listening to Mumford & Sons Babel:

Now that I can look back upon my twenties –I am so glad they’re gone, but they gave me so much.
Not to say that I’m not filled with gratitude for the gifts I’ve received in those years (I had a reconversion to the Catholic faith, I married Craig, we had 3 beautiful babies, and are expecting a fourth).

However, it has been a decade of stumbling, believing I was invincible, then being hurled through physical space –literally. 2 car accidents– and realizing that my own fear and avoidance of fragility and ordinariness was, in truth, the reality.

My twenties end in surrender, faith, and a deep longing to earn wiry, white hair …and even to eventually lose my straight, white teeth.

Babel describes the conflict and pull of earthly flesh, often stretched away from divine truth (which is etched into our eternal souls –whether we like it or not) while we seek out empty fulfillment and our own “personal truths” in earthly life.   Often, you’ll wonder if the artist sings to a lover.  Consider it a little further, and many of the songs might also be heard as a prayer, a cry, or even anguish sung out to our Creator, or even vice versa depending on the song.

When I first pressed play and listened to the whole thing, beginning to end, I felt the pain and loss of parts of my soul which I’d so purposely shredded and thrown to the sky as confetti in my early twenties, not expecting to see it ever again –yet I was later shocked to learn it lands, and the tattered parts of my soul had now become the filth stuck to the bottoms of others’ shoes, and I felt dirty and unworthy. And how could that ever be washed away?

I felt the utter loss of control over things in my life which I’d felt rightly entitled to own, experience, and make happen the way I felt it was supposed to go.
But musical and lyrical beauty rush through and reflect in Babel, showing the other side of despair:

property of Carolyn Svellinger

The strange, redemptive beauty of realizing that pain and suffering and loss have not been for nothing, if you have the patience and courage to face it, learn from it, and use it.
And that’s where my inner emo girl usually weeps: the understanding of redemption.  (And for the record, I don’t think that’s emo. I think that’s called grace.)

The bittersweet wisdom that I will unquestionably continue to face physical and emotional pain; I will continue to stumble, and trudge, and sometimes grow obstinate and angry; that I will come to know intimately the dark vacuum of loss, and perhaps more intense than I’ve ever imagined– is not for nothing.

In fact, these are tools for my strength and if I so wisely choose to wield them in the proper way, this instrument of suffering is necessary for my redemption according to God’s holy will –which I can never know with certainty.

Ironically and quite counter to our cultural norms, these musicians welcome that battle in their music.  And finally at thirty, so do I.
This is what I think of when I hear people use the oft crassly-meant term of “dirty thirty” : the willingness to enter war for our souls and those of our loved ones.

…and those of our loved ones.  I understand that in my suffering, no matter how little or intense, I can use it to aid in the redemption of my loved ones– especially those who do not know God.  Don’t let your suffering go to waste. Offer it to Jesus on the Cross in reparation for the sins of your loved ones, the sins you don’t know.  This makes bearing that suffering a weapon against evil, and ultimately, eternal fire.

Here’s faith I have many years to learn better and love deeper.