The Refresh Weekly Planner

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You guys. The 2017 Refresh Weekly Planner by J.Lynn Designery is here, and I am so in love! It’s never too early to start planning, right? Not in my book 😉 I ordered mine early because A. I really am already ready to start planning for all things 2017, and B. I had the 2016 Refresh Weekly Planner, the first that Jenna had designed, and I absolutely love it. I take it with me everywhere I go. It’s beautiful, durable and fits right inside my purse, so it’s convenient enough to have on me at all times, which is perfect because despite the fact that I love my iPhone, Google Calendar and all things digital, I will forever be a fan of the paper planner. I can’t go to bed without looking at it every night. Call me crazy, but it’s true. My 2016 version even withstood a pretty massive coffee spill early in the year (not uncommon for someone such as me) so that tells you it’s pretty tough too.

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But as amazing as my 2016 version has been, the 2017 version is somehow even better. A couple of things that I love right off the bat – 1. The hardcover and the page quality; even more durability which will withstand a lot being tossed in and out of my purse and work bag day in and day out. 2. The goal planning in the front of the planner. I am a big goal setter, and I especially love having a place to put these goals. Having a place for them someplace that I turn to daily is really ideal for me.

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There are also two planner patterns that I was really torn between – the gray + gold agate pattern and the pink plus pattern. They are both beautiful, each with gold wire bindings and gold plated corners for protection (I love gold!). After much contemplation and going back and forth between the two, I decided to go with the pink plus pattern because it ultimately is the most me.

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There are also inspirational quotes to read each week which has been another one of my favorite features from the 2016 version. I stop and ponder the quote more than once throughout the week as I plan and prepare.

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Not only does the planner feature a beautiful design, inside and out, inspirational quotes, goal planning, monthly and weekly layouts, color coded tabs for each month, inside pocket and a built-in notebook in back, but there are a few other very significant key features as well including:

+ Hard covers with gold plated corners for protection
+ Beautiful gold wire binding
+ Pocket inside front cover
+ Full yearly, monthly, and weekly layouts
+ Notebook built into back of planner for all of your note taking and idea jotting throughout the year, including both lined and grid-style pages
+ NEW quarterly goal-setting feature
+ Includes same popular weekly layout from the 2016 edition
+ Inspiration quotes on every weekly spread to keep you motivated all week long
+ Plastic-coated monthly tabs for durability
+ Small, portable size that will fit in most bags, purses and backpacks

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I hope this has you as excited as it has had me to start prepping for the new year. It may only be October, but the holidays will be here before we know it, and it will soon be 2017! If you’re interested in getting a 2017 Refresh Weekly Planner for your self before the start of the new year, click HERE to pre-order yours today. Happy Planning! Xo.

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(Photos and images by J.Lynn Designery

Waiting for the Fog to Roll Out

“I’ve been in love with love, and the idea of something, binding us together. You know that love is strong enough, I’ve seen time tell tales about that systematic drug. That heart beats as one. It’s collectively unconsciously composed.

I lost my head in San Francisco, waiting for the fog to roll out. But I found it in a rain cloud. It was smiling down.” -San Francisco, The Mowgli’s

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-02-45-pmThis month we took our first trip to Northern California to visit San Francisco, another bucket list city and another pin to add to our map. Albeit foggy, and much chillier than Southern California, it was beautiful. I can’t say that it tops my list of favorite cities, NYC and Chicago still hold out strong in the top spots, and of course STL for obvious reasons, but I would say that SF makes the cut of top 5. It’s a very unique city, in my opinion, very vibrant, very Liberal, very bright. It’s neat. I definitely want to go back. While we live so close, that’s a definite possibility.

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The main reason we went when we went was for the baseball game, of course. The Cardinals were playing the Giants this month, so we tacked this on to our ‘West Coast Cardinals Tour.’ Since moving out here, we’ve seen the Cards play this season vs. the Padres in San Diego, the Angels in Orange County, the Dodgers in LA and now the Giants in San Francisco. The stadium was beautiful. No Busch Stadium, but I still loved it. PLUS, they had really delicious garlic fries! The stadium sits right on the water so the views are pretty fascinating too, but being right on the water made it that much cooler. We were pretty cold that night and unfortunately, the Cards didn’t bring home a win until after we left SF. Sigh. Still glad we got to see our boys another time on the west coast though.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-02-57-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-03-25-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-5-47-33-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-5-47-47-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-02-06-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-02-18-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-02-32-pmAlthough we were only in SF for a quick weekend, we still squeezed in a lot and did and saw a lot of musts in those couple of days. We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge (and of course took a selfie, because you basically didn’t go to San Francisco without doing that). We went to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 and had clam chowder from Boudin in a sourdough bread bowl (well, Tim did, I had chili which was also delicious and warm in the chilly NorCal weather…I’m worried I’m turning into a Southern Californian talking like this. Ha!). We rode the cable cars through the city and made sure we got a spot right on the ledge (I think this was the highlight. So much fun!). We saw the Painted Ladies from Alamo Square and watched the cars drive down Lombard Street, the crookedest street, and walked up and down the city’s hills. My oh my those hills. We had lunch at a little place called Street Taco in Haight-Ashbury and of course made our way to another bar arcade for a game of Ms. Pacman on Friday night called Brewcade. And, we even braved a very early morning waiting in line (4am wakeup call!) for tickets to Alcatraz, and it was worth it too. Even the boat ride over was worth the views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’re planning on going, though, I highly recommend grabbing your tickets online early, as in, weeks early. We grabbed a cup of Philz Coffee while we waited for our Uber back to the airport. We still didn’t get to make it to all of the places on our list including Sausalito, Chinatown, Muir Woods and more. There’s so much to see out here. So much in Southern California, the entire state of California and the west coast. So much to take in every single day. It’s fascinating. We loved what we did get to see of San Francisco this time around though. The public transit there is definitely very prominent, but even for being such a small (radius-wise, anyway) city, we found that Uber was our easiest, most convenient option. We typically take public transit everywhere we go when we travel, Chicago and NYC still proving to be the best, most streamlined, user-friendly transit systems, even for the non-locals. SF has a variety of options from buses to cable cars to subway tracks, but for timing and ease, Uber ended up working out best for us, but there were Uber drivers everywhere, we rarely had to wait, and since the city’s radius is is so small and there is not much traffic (not like down here, that’s for sure!), the fares were inexpensive so this ended up working out great for us. We also love to walk a lot but we were bouncing around from one side of the city to the other, and those hills…(insert wide-eyed emoji here…).

Next up on our list? Potentially Vegas. Can you believe we’ve still never been to Vegas, and now we’re just a short drive away? But the trips I’m looking forward to most to finish out the year? Home :) We’ll be back home for the holidays during both Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I absolutely can. not. wait. I can’t imagine spending a holiday without family. But in the meantime, we’ve got a busy work and life season ahead of us as fall kicks off and we jump into the holiday season! It’s been weird feeling like we’ve got a bit of a breather right now, but I keep telling myself to enjoy it, because the end of this year is going to fly on by. We welcome October this weekend (and maybe even cooler temps too?!). I put up the fall wreath, but I’m hoping to get the rest of the fall decor out, light fall candles, bake pumpkin bread, you know the drill. I love fall. It would be pretty basic of me to write a post about how much I love it, as I’m sure I’ve likely already done in the past, but if I get around to it, you can expect one in the weeks to come.

Xo.

St. LouIS (Read: St. Lou-is)

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{Here we go again with another way too long lull of no writing…I swear I’m constantly writing in my mind (or in my Notes on my phone for that matter), but by the time I open up WordPress at night, I’m always exhausted and ready for bed. Gah! Anyway, jumping right back in here…}

Last week we spent a few days back home for the first time in five months. To some, this may sound like nothing, but to me, five months is the longest amount of time I’ve ever been away from home. We’ve been living in California for almost 9 months now (can you believe it!? Already!? I can’t…and in my head, nine months instantly equates to nearly one year. Whoa!), and we’ve been home twice. We went back home in March to meet our new nephew, and we went home last week for a wedding, but itching to spend some time in STL, we made it an extra long weekend and spent time with family, with friends and visiting some of our favorite STL places. Those few days went by SO quickly, and we attempted to squeeze as much as possible in such a short amount of time which was no easy feat yet we still managed to squeeze a lot into such a short amount of time. My heart is so full after being home for a few days. My heart was also reminded, though, just how in love I truly am with that city and so many of the people in it. Being across the country from home and loved ones sure does pose its challenges, but being away also makes you realize how great home really is. Not that we didn’t already love everything about the city that we call home, but when you’re away from it for months at a time living in a place so different than what you know, you are simply reminded of all those good things. As much as we’ve always wanted to go and experience some place new, and as much as we’ve always expressed so much love for our ‘rival city’ of Chicago, we’ve always shared how much we also love St. Louis, our city. It’s such a special place for so many reasons, but there is so much culture, so much vibrancy, such a strong sense of community. We went back into our church doors and felt right back at home with the overwhelming feeling of love from others, so many others who care so much about the heart of the city and its people. That city has a story to tell, and it makes my heart smile. I oftentimes share with people here that they may not understand my love for that city because they’ve never been, but that’s ok. I feel like it’s my own little secret. One that I feel like maybe you only truly understand if you immerse yourself in it. You become a part of it and its community. If you’re in St. Louis or planning a trip to St. Louis (or maybe haven’t ever considered planning a trip to St. Louis) and don’t quite see what’s so attractive to many, I encourage you to look a little deeper, because there is so so much there. St. Louis has been getting so many good remarks from Thrillist lately, but read this post in particular which almost perfectly describes so much of the good, so much of what so many are simply missing. There are people who call the city home, and there are people who only seem to want to claim it as theirs when the Cardinals are well on their way to the World Series or when the talk of crime isn’t quite so high. For those on all ends of that spectrum, it’s a city with a story to tell. A really good story.

It’s fun out here, for so many reasons, but no matter what, that city is home. It may not have a beach, it may not have a steady 75 + sunny weather pattern, but I can name a whole lot more that it does have, I can assure you of that. And for the record, our favorite street tacos aren’t in California, they are from Mission Taco in STL. Who would have thought?

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Loving our adventures and all there is to here on the west coast and truly soaking up every bit that there is to do in this SoCal life, but I’m already counting down to the holidays to be back in the Lou again for a few more days. :)

Xo.

Podcasts I’m Loving

Happy Weekend, Friends (or the 1-2 people who may actually be reading this?! 😉 )! In a post a couple of months back when I was wanting to keep up with ‘Things I’m Loving‘ (and you know, life sometimes just gets a bit busy), I shared a couple of podcasts that I’ve been listening to and really loving. I remember when podcasts first started to make their way into the world several years back, and I just wasn’t overly interested. Probably similar to my feeling oftentimes when it comes to movies and TV shows. I like both, however, I love to read above all else. I’m seemingly a much better reader than a I am a listener, when it comes to entertainment and pleasure anyway. If I’m listening to anything, it’s typically going to be music, my other true love. Once I started to really take more time to discover podcasts, I have learned to absolutely love them. Now that I spend so much more time in the car these days (ahem…traffic…), I’ve been taking full advantage of this extra time and have been listening to a lot of podcasts. It’s safe to say, that I’ve become mildly obsessed with podcasts. They are so inspirational. I listen to a combo of Christian podcasts to inspirational stories of female leaders and entrepreneurs to marketing podcasts to adoption stories and a few fun and entertaining lighthearted podcasts too. All across the board. I’m grateful for an awesome group of girlfriends who I get to share conversations about most of these with (and who suggested listening to many of these too…We have group text Fridays which I should blog about sometime too, and it’s SO much fun being able to share our lives together with updates all over the country at the end of each week!). Here are a few of my favorites that I’m loving right now (I’m just going to give you a brief description and opinion, but I’ll link to their show pages so you can learn more for yourself):

The Limit Does Not Exist: Why limit yourself to one side of your brain, or one career path? I have a major crush on Forbes podcasts right now, but this one in particular is speaking my language in so many ways. Christina and Cate interview some amazing individuals who have both a scientific or mathematical mindset and a creative mindset. Mind. Blown. (Yup, it’s possible to have both.)

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Two Inboxes: Another one of the Forbes podcasts that is really speaking my language. Molly is a professional in the marketing and digital media space living in NYC, and she is also a prominent part of the infamous side-hustle generation. I can relate 100%. Molly interviews several others who are a part of the side-hustle generation, those managing two or more inboxes, and these individuals share insights to their success and how they bring their passions and professional lives together.

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And/And: Yes another Forbes Podcast that I am absolutely loving. Taylor and Sloane are an amazing couple with a newborn (and a dog!) and busy lives with jobs and side hustles who stress the emphasis on and/and as opposed to either/or. I love their way of thinking. Some tell us that we can’t have it all, but I’ve always had this mindset that we can, and these two help to make it all seem possible. My favorite part about their show description – “How about being an entrepreneur and wanting to have a life and care about the world and be successful?” Yup, I totally get what they’re saying here. They interview many individuals who are in the same boat and sharing their stories and successes (and maybe not always successes) too.

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The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey: Thanks to one of my dear friends, this is truly the podcast that got me hooked on podcasts. Jamie is a Christian woman and an adoptive mom who essentially has ‘happy hours’ each week with other truly inspiring women…women who have also adopted children, who have faced struggles with fertility, who have large families, who are entrepreneurs and authors and so much more. Some of my favorite bloggers and female entrepreneurs whom I have followed long before I even started listening to this show have been featured in episodes. How cool is that? Some episodes are incredibly uplifting and encouraging while others you may need to have tissues nearby, and you may not want to listen to on your drive to work, but each episode is so different from the next and well worth the listen. I feel like I’m enjoying happy hour in person with these ladies, and it’s so much fun! Bonus: She has started releasing bonus ‘Happy Half Hour’ episodes on occasional Fridays that are fun ways to jump into a Friday!
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The Popcast: The Popcast is a podcast about all things pop culture and, according to the show hosts Knox and Jamie, things that don’t matter. I’ll admit, I’ve never been overly into pop culture, but I do try to stay in-the-know with the latest and greatest, especially living in LA land. My Grandma was the best at all things pop culture and entertainment. Before she passed away, she received People Magazine in the mail once a week, studied it, then passed it on to me for my viewing pleasure. She was honestly the one who I always got my Hollywood scoop on. Plus, my mom’s pretty on top of what’s going on in the world of Hollywood too so she keeps me up-to-date which makes me realize I need to try a bit harder 😉 Popcast is a good listen when you just want something light and fun. I love listening to Knox and Jamie chat about the latest entertainment industry news.

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Be Still Be Free: A podcast inspiring women to be before they do. This was also one of the first podcasts that I got hooked on thanks to one of my dear friends. This is another Christian podcast that is very uplifting and encouraging. A lot of these podcasts are also composed of women from the south, and I love hearing that accent. These episodes aren’t coming out as frequently as they were early on, but I still love to listen when a new episodes is posted.

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The Lively Show: If you don’t know Jess Lively, you should. Not that I know her personally or anything, but listening to so many episodes sure does have a way of making me feel like I do. Jess’s website, courses, blog, vlog and show inspire her followers to live a life of intention, and she has such a special way of doing this. She has a lot to offer, and she lives right up to her name (Lively). She’s currently exploring Europe with no plane ticket to return back home any time soon, and she’s sharing every bit of this self-exploration adventure with her listeners. I’ve really enjoyed following along (and she’s making me really want to be right there with her!). 

Marriage More: This is a Podcast from a husband and wife sharing real life. I just enjoy listening to these two. Jeff and Mandy are also ironically from Southern Illinois, very near St. Louis(!), and STL and the Cardinals get a couple of mentions from time to time, as do a few very familiar Midwest-South road trips, so sometimes listening to these two just makes me feel right at home. They are raising three young boys, and they have been in the very long process of an oversees adoption and just recently shared the news that they are going to pick up their new addition to the family. They’ve shared bits and pieces of their journey along the way, but I can’t wait to hear more once they are back home and settled.

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So these are just a few of my favorite podcasts right now. This gives you a little insight into what I’m doing during my commutes these days. I’m listening to a wide array of things, to say the least, with a bit of music mixed in between, and it has taken my commute to an entirely new level. Listening to most of these allows me to grow both personally and professionally and to learn more about so many new things. Do you have any favorite podcasts that you’ve been loving? Please share!

Xo.
Kasey

 

Six Months on the Coast

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – Miriam Adeney000058280002
Photos by Shannon Duggan Photography

Six months ago on a cold January day in St. Louis, we woke up and finished packing up the car to embark on what would be seemingly the most invigorating chapter of our story yet. We were moving to California. We were leaving behind our family, our best friends, our community and so many things that we loved for the unknown. Some may call us crazy. Some don’t understand why. For us, it just seemed to fit. As the pages turned, some days much slower than others, one thing after another seemed to fall right into place. For a bit more background, you can read more about when we found out we would be moving HERE. Still to this day, I tell Tim I don’t quite know how we ended up exactly where we did, how we got the great jobs we did. And his answer, “Everything happens for a reason.” He’s right. God has played such a big role in our story (well, he’s writing it, but you know what I mean), and every piece of this just seemed to fit. Was it hard to leave our family and best friends? Harder than I can even explain. I felt more emotions on the day that we left St. Louis as we were driving away from our house, the first home that we bought together, than I even expected to have. Since we had so much time to prepare leading up to moving day, I thought that I had gotten all of my emotions out at that point, but I hadn’t. Missouri was home to us our entire lives. We always had dreams of going elsewhere, despite how much we loved the city we lived in and especially the people in it, but to experience what else this world holds. Timing just never seemed quite right to make that bold move, but I have quickly learned that I don’t think there ever truly is a ‘right’ time for much of anything, and that’s ok. 

Once we got to California (you can read more from the start of our journey HERE), we of course went through that typical honeymoon phase for the first couple of months. Everything was new. We had so much to explore. So many things to see and do. But after the newness wore off, I came to realize just how hard being away from everyone, and everything, back home really was. We were so comfortable. I think that there are pros and cons to comfort. After those first couple of months here, I started to really long for that sense of comfort. A coffee date on a Saturday morning with a girlfriend, a Saturday shopping day with my mom, family dinner, weekly yoga dates with one of my best friends, inviting friends over for dinner in our home. Where were those things? Where were those people? Where was the sense of community here that I so longed for and loved? I’ll admit, after all of the new wore off and after a couple of months of being so seemingly busy with settling into my new job, I started to feel a little bit lost again. I wondered why we were here again. What brought us here? What are we doing? Everyone’s back home watching the Cardinals play at Busch Stadium, watching the Blues in the playoffs on the big screen at Ballpark Village, my family’s together for small gatherings with our new nephew, our friends were celebrating birthdays and baby showers and bridal showers together in the city. That made me sad. Really sad.

Being away from all those comfortable things truly forces you to step out, to find your own new sense of community, to make new friends. We’ve had to figure out what our new local favorites were, a new grocery store to shop at, a new church community that loves people and loves community as much as we do. That was tough. But then friends and family were starting to book flights and come to visit, and as we’ve been able to share with them the things that we’ve already come to know and love as new ‘locals’ of SoCal, I’ve realized that I do like it here. I catch myself talking less about the things that I don’t like, comparing less to the Midwest. Dare I say, dang you California for making me fall in love with you a little bit more each day. I think I’m afraid to fall in love with it here. I’m afraid that we won’t someday go back to what is home. I can sit here and say that in two years we’ll be here or there, but in all honesty, I have absolutely no idea where we’ll be. I never thought that we would be living in Southern California, less than 10 miles from beaches and the Pacific Ocean or that I would be working in a top 10 higher education institution as an associate director doing things that I love today. And somehow, that’s exactly where we are. And I love it. Yes, I still dream every single day. I can’t help the fact that I’m a dreamer, a goal-setter, a planner, and I can’t help the fact that there are so many things that I want to do and that there are so many places that I want to be. I envision us doing some big things. Some really big things. But for today, somehow after six months of trying to figure this whole thing out, I’m starting to realize that I really do believe that this is exactly where we’re supposed to be today.

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My mom, who is less than fond of the fact that we live so far away (and I don’t blame her, and I promise not to live this far away from home forever. I love my mom so much!), even reminded me on the phone one day, after complaining per usual about how much I love [sense sarcasm] the traffic out here, that I live in Southern California. I live in a beautiful place with beaches all around. I live where everyone seems to want to be. Pros and cons. Always pros and cons. If you know me, you know well that I strive to be living in a big city, in the middle of it all; that’s really where my heart is. Chicago. New York City. I’ve dreamt of these things since I was a little girl. Out here, aside from being just a few miles outside of LA, it’s more commercialized and more suburban than I ever would have expected. And one thing that we want so badly to have in a place that we live is a place that we can walk everywhere and a place with a wealth of public transit options. Also not options most places around here. But, for today, that’s ok. We’re getting used to what is the new normal for us. It may not be what we expected, but it’s still an adventure unlike any other in so many ways. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from this chapter thus far, it’s that stepping out of your comfort zone is so so good for you. It may not always be easy, but it’s one of the best things that you can do for yourself. 

We’re growing in so many ways out here, and it’s only been six months. We’re hiking, we’re exploring, we’re going to the beaches, taking up things like biking and surfing that you just can’t quite do in Missouri. We’re finally starting to find the community we’ve so longed for, we’re discovering our favorite local restaurants and coffee shops. We’re taking advantage of it all. And I think we’re discovering more about ourselves than we even realized. We continue to grow as individuals and in our marriage as we discover more and more what it is we truly envision our lives to be. I’m not sure what the plan for the next six months, the next year, the next five years holds. For today, we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be. It may have taken all of the last six months for me to realize it, but we live in Southern California. And I like it. 

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“I met a girl who kept tattoos for homes that she had loved. If I were her I’d paint my body until all my skin was gone.” -Andrew McMahon, Something Corporate

Xo.
Kasey

Midwest on the West Coast

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 8.37.58 PMAs I shared in my most recent post, my parents were here to visit early this month, and we had SO much fun while they were here. The weekend after they were here, our sweet friends, Jessica and Tell, came to visit next. We met these two back in St. Louis (Jess and I met through social media actually :) then later had grad school classes together at Webster then worked weddings together that I was planning and their company, Created Space Studios, was filming), and then these two left us to head a little bit west (but not quite California west) as they moved to Kansas City. We were so sad when they moved, but at the same time, we were inspired. We admire this couple and their dreams and ambitions and feel so much on the same page as them in terms of work, life, career, goals, everything. Their move may have been a little touch of inspiration for our own big move (along with a few other subtle touches of inspiration from a few others too). This is also a couple who loves to travel like we do, so we knew that they would definitely be coming out to visit. Not only do they share our love for travel, but also our love for baseball, and specifically, the Cardinals. So, their trip was planned around two conveniently scheduled series games – one vs. the Angels and the other vs. the Dodgers, and we made a full weekend of it.

We had an absolute blast at a winning game vs. the Angels the first night that Jess and Tell got here. Although Angel Stadium and Angels games have not yet proven to be my favorite, everything about this game was so much fun. The stadium had so many other Cardinals fans which made it that much more exciting. There was even a cat (see Rally Cat) that ran across the field in the middle of the game?! Ha, we couldn’t help but laugh. Toward the end of the game we moved down to the first section with the rest of what was dubbed ‘Busch Stadium West’ to finish out the game, and being surrounded by what seemed to be only Cardinals fans left in the stadium at that point, it was a truly phenomenal experience.

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Saturday was the Dodgers game, so we decided to spend the entire day being touristy in LA and Hollywood. We had lunch at the newly opened Shake Shack in West Hollywood (happy to have some of the East Coast here with us on the West Coast!) followed by a trip down the Hollywood Walk of Fame to take another look at the stars and the Hollywood sign. See it in the pic below? Ya, it’s not quite as big as the movies make it seem 😉

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We also took a Warner Brothers Studio Tour which was also SO much fun! We got to see all of the Batmobiles, studio locations for Fuller House and Big Bang Theory, I was a ‘stand in’ for Ellen (her studio and stage are beautiful!) and our tour guide gave us an extra special behind the scenes tour of the Pretty Little Liars set and so much more. We had an awesome guide who seemed to love our loud and lively group. My appreciation for the entertainment industry continues to grow out here. I’m absolutely amazed by it all. We finished up our tour with coffee at Central Perk, just like Friends! 

 

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Then came time for our next round of baseball. We were afraid to ask any Dodgers fans to take our picture outside of the stadium, so we had to wait for Cardinals fans to save the day, and of course, they did. We may not have taken home a win at this game, but we ate a lot of food, had great company and Jon Hamm was there (and we caught a glimpse of him on the jumbotron wearing a Cards hat. YES!) so we’ll take it. Another ballpark to check off the list (no worries, Busch Stadium is still my number 1!)!

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And before they had to leave to head back to the Midwest on Sunday, we took them to one of our favorite donut shops in Costa Mesa and took our donuts and coffee to the pier to watch the surfers catch some waves in the morning, followed by a quick drive down the coast so that we could give them a little taste of OC life too.

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My heart is so full after having family and friends here to visit and explore with us this month. I’m anxious for more visitors already so I hope we have more friends coming soon!

Xo.

We’re ‘locals’ now

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Ok, so we’re not really ‘locals,’ per se, but being here for five months now has us starting to finally get in a groove (although I still use my GPS to get everywhere, even in our neighborhood because there are SO many different routes to get everywhere…because traffic…) and starting to endure the SoCal culture. I figured I’d wait until at least the six month mark before I start sharing the things that I really don’t love so much about this SoCal life. In the meantime, though, we still act like tourists almost every weekend. With so much to do here, I don’t know that that will ever not be the case. But, it’s interesting the way that this place will do crazy things to you. For example, the 72 degrees that I once thought was so warm and cozy early on actually does not feel as warm as one may think. I no longer make fun of those jacket wearing folks when the temperature dips below 70 in the morning or evening. The Pacific air is just different I tell ya. Also, I’ve learned about ‘Gray May’ and ‘June Gloom,’ both times of the year through which the marine layer from the ocean forms cloud cover that doesn’t break until afternoon each day. It feels a bit more like fall than almost summer to me right now. Even though this place doesn’t particularly have seasons. Hm.

The weather is one thing, but the food is another. Although I’m a relatively healthy eater (and I’ve also got that whole gluten thing that most people know about me), I still crave a good burger and fries and comfort food. By comfort food, I mean pizza, pasta, steak, potatoes…All the things that either my parents always made really really well or that St. Louis has some of the best restaurants for. Food is different out here. Think juice, smoothies, salads (I do love salads, thank goodness), but gosh some days I just want something with more substance! At a happy hour for work today, I discovered that I accidentally ate fish eggs (insert wide-eyed emoji here from the girl who doesn’t even eat seafood, no sushi, more or less eggs from a fish), and at a work lunch yesterday, I ate my entire meal at a Japanese restaurant with chopsticks. Not that that doesn’t make sense or anything, but at home (as in, back in St. Louis), it wouldn’t be a problem to simply ask for a fork. Not the case here. I’m embracing the culture, although I’m definitely a wee bit out of my comfort zone most days. Oh, and I was also complimented on how well I ate with my chopsticks. Ha.

Weather, food, weekend getaways. We also just booked a trip to the desert. We will be spending our Memorial Day weekend in Palm Springs. Who would have thought?! I’m sure I’ll have a lot to share following that excursion.

With us having been out here for a few months now, family and friends are finally starting to come visit us too which makes my heart so happy. This past weekend my mom and dad were here, and we took them all up and down the coast of OC and LA to share some of our favorite places.

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Brunch at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach with my family while they were here to visit.

Although we’re definitely still foreigners to the real locals around SoCal, to those who come to visit, we are able to share some local insight which makes me feel kind of cool 😉 I’m also catching on to the local terminology, like using ‘the’ before every freeway name (the 55, the 405) and talking about the ‘Santa Ana Winds’ like they’re no big thing (more on that to come some day I’m sure). Now excuse me while I go put on a jacket and find myself some darn good, greasy gluten free pizza and pasta con broccoli to satisfy my Midwest, yet ‘SoCal local,’ soul.

KaseyLucasStLouis

 

The Latest and Greatest

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So. Getting back on a schedule with my posts hasn’t proved to be much of a success for me just yet because, well, life. We’ve been extra busy with our jobs, and since I still have events under my belt, that also means evenings and weekends too. So, every little bit of time that we have together, even if it’s Thursday nights or Sundays, we are taking full advantage to get out and explore and do something fun. We got to go home for Easter a few weeks ago and meet our new nephew, and it was SO good to be back home in a city that we love with family. It’s only/already been four months for us being out here, and that’s also the longest that we’ve been away from home and away from family, which I will definitely admit, is tough. But, let’s dive right on it…

Currently Loving: 

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St. Louis sports and this great little package that my parents sent in the mail last week! The Cardinals are my number one, as I believe we all already know, and I’ve been making sure that everyone out here is well aware of how great they are too. We’ve got tickets to at least one game in every series that the Cardinals play out in California starting with a game in San Diego next weekend to celebrate Tim’s birthday. I am SO excited to see those boys out here and to wear all of my Cards gear loud and proud in the stands! I am not the biggest hockey fan, but I do of course support the Blues, and hockey is really Tim’s support. It’s playoff time for them, and I am of course cheering them on as well.

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Hiking! We have been taking advantage of God’s beautiful creation out here, and it certainly is nothing short of amazing. The views are phenomenal. We have been going on a lot of hikes with the dogs. We have some pretty great hills and mountains closer to us in North Orange County, we’ve done the touristy Runyon Canyon in LA (the city views were pretty spectacular here) and we’ve done some neat hikes by the ocean and the bay. I would like to do a post in the future on some of our favorites. There isn’t a ton of opportunity for hiking in MO (although there is some), but out here there are so many mountains, hills and trails to explore.

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Travel! We just booked some exciting upcoming trips including Portland and Seattle for our anniversary in June (5 years!) and San Francisco in September (where we will see the Cardinals play the Giants!). We’ve also got quite a few smaller weekend trips on tap. We want to take advantage of so many great places around us while we live out here. We are working on adding quite a few pins to our map. The west coast was looking pretty sparse, but it’s starting to fill up quite nicely.

Not So Much: 

Sweet tea and good BBQ are hard to come by out here. I LOVE my sweet tea, and BBQ (especially a favorite of Tim’s) are two things that we just haven’t nailed down yet. I think that these are two comforts that remind me of home too, so when we try out a new BBQ place, and it’s just not like St. Louis (not that I would actually expect it to be of course), I get a little let down. So, if you have any good BBQ recs in SoCal or any other suggestions on where I can get sweet tea aside from Chick-fil-a or the grocery store, please feel free to share :)

Listening:

MisterWives. Just got their newest album. So good. Fun, upbeat summertime music in my opinion; it just puts you in a good mood. We’ve been listening on our record player outside on our patio.

Watching:

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I watched season 1 when we first moved out here and absolutely loved it. It’s just so lighthearted and funny, typical Tina Fey style. Season 2 just came out. Something light and fun to watch when you want something sort of mindless at the end of a long day.

Reading: 

I tend to always be reading way too many books at once, but I recently started going through Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, guiding you through 40 days of purpose. His church is actually out here where we live, so we’ve visited one of the locations closest to us a few times. We’re still on the hunt for a new church home out here (no easy feat), but more to come on that in a later post.

Tomorrow starts another Monday, but it’s also Tim’s birthday week! We are getting awfully close to 30 this time around. Crazy! We have had a lot of milestones set for ourselves early on in our marriage when we reached 30 and/or five years of marriage. We celebrate five years of marriage this year, and 30 will happen for us both next year. Never would have imagined we would be living in Soithern California right now, and I can only imagine (and hope and pray about) what the next few years will bring. God’s got plans for us, and we are living out each new page of our story one day at a time. April is a busy month of work and life, but I’m extra excited for May because my parents come to visit, we have friends coming to visit and the Cardinals will be in town!

Hope you all are enjoying a restful Sunday. And I will leave you with this quote that I stumbled upon last week – “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.” -George Washington Carver

Xo.

KaseyLucasStLouis

 

 

Things I’m Loving (and maybe a few that I’m not…)

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Hi All! I feel like it’s way too much of a challenge for me to find the time to post regularly over here, unlike on IG, but I want to so I’m trying to come up with the best way of doing so without it being too forced, you know? So, I think that what I’m going to try to shoot for is (hopefully) two weekly posts. One being a weekend adventure recap since many of our weekends out here are spent exploring SoCal, and two, I want to try sharing weekly ‘things I’m loving now,’ as inspired by the super great Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast that my dear friend Chelsea got me sucked into, and now I cannot stop listening! I think I may even do an entirely different post on a few of the podcasts I’ve been listening to thanks to this girl because now thanks to a significantly longer California commute to and from work each day (seriously, traffic is no joke around here), I spend a lot more time in my car, but I’m listening to some super great podcasts (and catching up on sermons from my home church because of it) so I supposed that makes the commuter lifestyle seem a bit better.

So anyway, here’s how I think I want to line out at least one of my weekly posts:

-Three things I’m loving right now.

-Something I’m not really loving so much right now (because as much as I don’t like to be negative, sometimes I just need to let out a little vent session, so one sentence here might do).

-Currently listening to (this may be favorite Spotify stations, podcasts, etc.).

-Currently watching (Netflix because since moving, we have given up cable, which I have mixed emotions about. I just really miss having HGTV on all the time!) 

-Currently reading (books, blogs, etc.).

A few of these things may vary or remain the same each week because, well as much as I love to read, it still tends to take me way longer than it really should to finish a book based on a way too busy schedule (will get into that at some other point, I’m sure).

Here’s what I’m going to start with for this week (even though it’s still the weekend; not sure which day I’m actually going to try to plan for posts yet, but schedules do definitely tend to help.):

Three things I’m loving right now:
1. Being an aunt! My first nephew was born this week! I will say that this has been the first real feeling of challenge being so far from home, BUT, we’re going home next week to meet him, and I couldn’t be more excited! (I also went to the TOMS warehouse sale earlier this month (perks to living in California!) and just had to buy a pair of these Tiny TOMS for Rhys.

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2. Everything at Target, not that this is anything new because I’m always loving everything at Target, but they are consistently continuing to rock my world. I’m especially loving all of Oh Joy!’s lines at Target.

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3. Dog + Bone dog collars and leashes made in Austin, TX. I am in love with this brand’s look, and Bent and Emma recently got new, bright colored collars and leashes.

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Something that I’m not really loving so much right now: 

Some of the oddities that I’m learning about California. The biggest example would be the fact that I thought this place was supposed to be so ahead of the game on everything, but even in the world of gluten freedom, they don’t have it. Like, at all. Before moving out here everyone said how easy it was to be gluten free in California. Hm. Maybe I’m just finding all of the wrong places? We just have to do some pretty serious digging every time we are planning to go out to eat to search for the best gf options. There are certainly some, just not quite as many as I would have hoped or expected. St. Louis is definitely way on top of the game when it comes to this, especially compared to here. Also, there is no good Italian food here. Anywhere. And Italian is my #1 so this is so sad! I’m still determined to find it. We are definitely spoiled by all of the great local restaurants on the Hill back home (with great gluten free pasta too!).

Currently listening to:
Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast (so many inspiring women on this show, go listen!)

Currently watching:
GIRLS HBO. I’ve been watching since season 1, and I’m seriously obsessed with this show. Trying to figure out what this twenty something life is all about? So are these girls so it makes me feel a bit more sane about having a million and one different dreams and goals and ambitions in one single moment.

Currently reading:
Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lisa TerKeust – Almost done with this one. I absolutely and have read a few of her other books too. As you can probably tell from the book title, she is a Christian author, and she also runs Proverbs 31 Ministries. They have a great app called First 5 with quick devotionals to start your day. It’s so great.

That’s it for this week. Let’s see if I can get this thing back on some kind of a schedule. Phew! In the meantime, Happy Spring! Yahoo! (Side note – This took me five days to actually even post…yet I had started it. Let’s see if we can keep this thing on a schedule. I wrote this over the weekend, and it’s already a new week sooo there’s that. Additional side note – I would normally be adding more photos and linking way more things that I want to share, but when I do these posts from my iPad, it complicates things a little and takes wayyyy longer than it should. So I’ll hopefully go back and do things, but hey, progress, not perfection, right?! 😉 )

Xo.
Kasey

We’re from Missouri

Kasey Lucas St Louis Palm Trees

The tall, skinny palm trees along the coastline are my absolute favorite; I think they have their own quirky sense of character. I’m still in awe that these surround us everywhere here every single day.

Whoa. I can hardly believe that we have already been living in California for a month and a half now. SO many things have happened in just a month and a half! I have been meaning to write since we got here and just haven’t quite found the time to do so yet (but I update Instagram frequently with #stltosocal adventure updates so feel free to follow me there!) I started my job out here with an amazing University of California school a week after we arrived. So thankful for the way that God has provided for us on this journey. There are definite reasons as to why we are here. We’ve both been busy with our jobs and spending any and all free time exploring all things Southern California. And let me tell you. There is so much to explore in Southern California. We still haven’t quite finished unpacking yet either, but when you’re across the country in a brand new place exploring so many brand new things, that tends to fall lower on the list, even for the perfectionist. Enjoying what we can of this adventure is what’s most important right now. (I never even got to share our full travel story with you, but we left the day after New Year’s Day, drove two very long days across the country with the dogs, waited two weeks for all of our belongings to arrive and are still trying to get settled in, but hey, it’s all a part of this adventure, and it’s teaching me to let go of the things that aren’t always in my control.)

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Just a few hours into our road trip from Missouri to the West Coast! Had to make a pitstop for Starbucks. Bentley and Emma did amazing on the two day trek.

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Day 2 of the trip. Once we started to see signs for LA, we knew we were finally getting ‘closer.’

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And once we crossed the California border we had to stop at a vehicle inspection to ensure we didn’t bring any ‘foreign objects’ into the state (just another reason why I feel like this place is a country of its own). Once we crossed the state line, we still had a long way to go. California is a massive state.

So, now to the important stuff. Everyone wants to know about California. It’s definitely quite the change from St. Louis, I will say that. It’s amazing out here, yet so different in so many ways. But do I miss home? Oh yes. The Midwest is absolutely home, and always will be so if you’re asking whether or not we will be back, the answer is definitely yes. While I don’t want to ‘plan’ too much too far ahead (and like I’ve said before, this was never particularly in our ‘plan’ either, as our plans aren’t always ours), I do know that at some point, that is definitely where we want to be. But for today? This is a fun adventure that we fully intend to take full advantage of.

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Or, as I like to say, our home sweet home AWAY from home, because of course, St. Louis is definitely home.

It’s only been a little over a month, so this will change as time goes on, but in this short period of time we have already learned quite a bit about this state. The one thing that I tell just about everyone here is that I feel like California is its own country. It’s just so different and strange in a lot of ways; this state has a lot of its own quirks that I don’t fully understand, and I’m not sure that I ever will, but maybe I will start to more so as time goes on, but I’m pretty sure I will forever hold onto my Midwest ways. But a couple of thoughts right off the bat:

1. Traffic. Is. Horrible. We’re in Orange County, so we thought that maybe being a little south of LA meant that traffic would be less frequent. Wrong. A drive to work in the morning that should take me no more than 15 minutes takes an hour. Or more. I cannot seem to wrap my head around the fact that people spend so much of their lives sitting in traffic here. I don’t love that. The plus side, though, is that I use my commute to either A.) listen to podcasts, B.) listen to sermons from the Journey or C.) call my mom and dad and other family and friends so at least I am able to put all of my car time to good use.

2. I don’t see Cardinals anything anywhere like I’m so used to at home. I LOVE our Cardinals. They are of course not so well loved around here. I have spotted a couple of STL Cards license plate covers since we’ve arrived though (and I get ridiculously excited when I do!!), and I recently added a STL sticker to my car. I have so much pride over that team and refuse to ever let that go.

3. There is quite a mix of people here who are either born and raised SoCal/Orange County or who are transplants from other cities. When I meet someone who is from across the country, I instantly want to become their best friend. Everywhere I go I also find it necessary to tell everyone around me that I’m from the Midwest (not sure if I’ll ever stop sharing this fact with strangers during our time here). What I’ve quickly learned, though, (and no, I am not speaking for everyone here) is that many of the people who are born and raised here seem to take all of amazingness that surrounds them for granted, and I don’t want that to become me. Sure, there are things that are bothersome like the traffic and the higher gas prices and other little California quirks that I’m sure I will at some point share, but the fact that I drive to work and see snowcapped mountains in my rearview mirror or the fact that I can drive 5 minutes away during lunch and stare at the ocean is so surreal to me. If you know me you know my love for all things city (and yes, I am longing for that I will not lie, but luckily LA is so close), but the beauty of God’s creations that are right in front of us, in conjunction with this amazing weather, are things that I never want to lose sight of. It’s snowing back home, and here I am at the beach after church then having iced coffee outside in 75+ degree sunshine. I don’t even feel like I deserve this so I don’t want to become one who complains at 60 degrees or who sits inside during lunch or on the weekends when there’s so much to go see and do.

I’m excited to see where this adventure takes us. While I sit here with a million and one ideas and visions and dreams and goals in my mind (I swear my brain never shuts off!), I still want to work to enjoy each and every day and take this all in. Our first month and a half here has gone by so quickly, but we’ve already done so much like explore LA, hike Peter’s Canyon, visit several beaches (and even take the dogs to the beach!), visit San Diego, enjoy the Farmer’s Markets in February and so much more. So yes, although I’m currently sitting outside writing, a piece of me misses St. Louis (and of course a huge piece of me misses my family and friends) and maybe even a little bit of the snow (gasp!), but this is us today, and it’s pretty incredible. There is so much more to experience, and this is what life is all about. I think that there is something to be said about experiencing an environment and a culture so incredibly different than what we’re used to.

Kasey Lucas St Louis

I had ironically found this saved in my random things box (I save a lot of random things) while we were packing. The perfect, subtle reminder.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain

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The west coast is the best coast? Nah. I was conveniently wearing my favorite ‘Midwest is Best’ tee when we passed this one day and clearly had to stop to take a quick pic.

Here’s to exploring and adventure. But don’t worry, as much as I love visiting and exploring other places, the Midwest is definitely still the best. But for today, California is pretty amazing too.

XO

KaseyLucasStLouis

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