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.

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

 

Wanderlust

imageWanderlust is a very real thing, and I’ve got it bad. We just got home from vacation last weekend and jumped right back into a very full work week this week. My family goes on vacation to Destin, FL every summer. There’s a big group of family and family friends that has been going ever since I was a little girl. I am so grateful for the opportunity to get to do this. For the opportunity to spend a week away, to spend quality time with family, to have this view right in front of our eyes when we wake up every morning and sit out on the balcony eating breakfast while listening to the sound of the waves crashing and the sea gulls soaring by.

imageEach day is is filled with a very subtle schedule of walking on the beach, sitting on the beach, enjoying a drink or two and going out to dinner. A schedule like this for an entire week is something that I am far from used to. This vacation, more so than most, has made me realize more and more the importance and beauty of what surrounds us, what truly lies right in front of us. It’s so hard to unplug in today’s say and time. I try to, I really do. I’ve done a social media free weekend , and it was amazing. When Tim and I went on our honeymoon to Jamaica four years ago we locked our phones in the safe and didn’t even turn them back on until we got back in the U.S. I didn’t miss my phone one bit. But now, even with an out of office reply, I can’t help but still consistently and obsessively check emails and check all of the social media business pages that I manage (this is really important regardless, in my opinion). I want to make sure that I’m still pleasing everyone, that even though I’m taking a break that everyone so deserves every so often, I’m still there for anyone’s needs, even if it is something that could truly wait a few days until I was back in the office and could give it my full, undivided attention.

Last week’s vacation was honesty the first full week that Tim and I have both had off since our honeymoon. Four years ago. Sure, we take the occasional long weekend, and we’ve been able to explore some amazing new cities and take frequent weekend trips to Chicago, but for the first time in four years we were off work, out of the office, for an entire week. That seems like quite some time. It seems like some people are constantly on vacation, and it seems like others never have the opportunity at all. I truly believe, despite my struggle to unplug and my workaholic mentality that I know I inherited from my father (not that this is a bad thing, but for one’s self worth, it’s certainly a challenge), I think that vacations should be far longer and far more frequent. Although it’s easier said than done, case in point, I think it’s import for us to escape reality, to escape the mundane, and to truly revel in what surrounds us. Last week was an amazing getaway, but being just a few months into my new job, I especially felt like I needed to stay as tuned in as possible even from afar, even when my coworkers told me not to. I am truly so grateful that even for being there just a few short months I was still able to take this week away with my family. Although I didn’t fully unplug, it was still an amazing escape, and today, all I can think of is the amazing views that we had all week long. Only God can make a something look this good. Seeing things like this make you truly think about the most important things in life.

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I love to travel more than a lot of things, even if it’s the same place I’ve had the opportunity to visit every single year. Every day, I dream of visiting new places and seeing new things. I want to see the cityscapes, the architecture and the beach and the sea. I want to travel the world, I really do. Maybe one day, this will be true. There is so much in this world to see. In the same way that time away refreshes the soul, exploring places that are different than home helps us to learn and grow too. All of these tags are such important key aspects in life.

imageIn the meantime, I will continue to dream, already anticipating whatever our next adventure will be.

KaseyLucasStLouis

 

 

 

 

Adventures of Bentley and Emma

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It’s been just about a month since Emma became a part of our family. I love her more and more each day. Sure, she’s a puppy, and she’s still got a lot to learn, but she is a quick learner and has already learned so much in such a short amount of time. She really is such a good dog too and so loving. She has already grown so much, and she is keeping us busy and active all the time with lots of extra walks and early mornings, but that’s not such a bad thing.

Bentley and Emma have been getting along too, and that didn’t take long, which is such a good thing. I’m glad that they both have each other. Every once in awhile, Bentley makes it clear that he still needs his space, but they love to play together and snuggle with each other. They’ve made so much progress in just a few short weeks, which has been amazing to see, and I can only imagine how much more progress they will continue to make as time goes by. In the meantime, feel free to follow along with either #adventuresofbentleyandemma or #bentleyandemmainthecity on Instagram to see more of my pup pictures. They are one of my favorite things to share via social. If you don’t love dogs, you probably won’t want to follow me on IG 😉 Here’s a little puppy love for you to enjoy…

PS – I am loving our new dog tags from Canine Habits (as shown in the first image in this post). Visit her Facebook and Instagram accounts to see more of her work and to find out when she shares special discount codes!

 

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KaseyLucasStLouis

Meet Emma Rose

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Meet Emma Rose. Bentley’s (already bigger) little sister, and the newest member of the Lucas Family. Emma has officially been a part of our family for one week today, and we are so in love.

Tim and I have talked for awhile about how we would love to get another dog someday. Bentley is very much our ‘only child,’ though, and sometimes the thought of taking 100% of the attention away from him makes me incredibly sad because Bentley gets a lot of attention from us (and from his grandparents). Now that we’ve got a house and a backyard (talk about an amazing change of no longer having to use a leash every time we go outside!) complete with a privacy fence, another dog seemed more feasible. Although, we weren’t really thinking about making that change quite yet. But then came Emma. My dad was the one that showed her to me. He has some friends who do a lot with animal rescue and fostering, and one of them shared Emma on Facebook. Long story short, someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone, was fostering Emma and shared that she was ready to find her forever home. Emma was found alone on a highway near a trailer park about 30 minutes south of where we live. She was sick with mange and emaciated (she’s still pretty skinny). Her foster mom took good care of her, and in just a couple of weeks she was much healthier and ready to find her home. When my dad showed her to me, she instantly reminded me of both Bentley and Daytona in just her looks (Bentley’s size and stature and some of Daytona’s GSP coloring). I knew we had to meet her. Tim and I drove an hour west to meet Emma, and we instantly knew that she needed to be a part of our family. I talked to Bent for a week about it telling him that he would be meeting Emma and he might be getting a new sister (I know, I really am a crazy dog person). Emma came to our home to meet Bentley last Friday night and she stayed for good.

Bentley and Daytona get along incredibly well, and Bentley surprisingly does much better with bigger dogs than smaller ones. We knew that ultimately this would be a good decision for us and for Bentley because we can’t bring him out to my mom’s to be with Daytona everyday, and we thought that it was time he finally had a forever friend at home with him and with us.

Many people know how much Bentley means to us and how much of a part of our family he is. They’ve been asking how Bentley has been adjusting to the new changes. Bentley is a very high anxiety dog (he truly takes a special human) and is very protective of people and things. When Bentley and Emma first met, he wasn’t unfriendly, per se, but he also wasn’t my big hearted puppy that I know he soon would be. We were a little nervous and it did take Bentley a couple of days to warm up to her, but in only one week, I can already see how amazing this relationship will soon be (and already has become). When I was talking to one of the girls at church last weekend about the new puppy and getting the two of them used to each other, her response was, ‘Well, it’s just about the new norm, right? They’ll figure it out.’ So true. For all of us.

Emma was named ‘Emma Jean’ when she came to us. After first meeting her and talking both what we would name her, I didn’t really want to change her name (plus, I think Bentley + Emma sounds really cute together). We ended up just changing her middle name to ‘Rose’ instead of ‘Jean.’ We aren’t aren’t 100% sure what Emma is, since she is a rescue. Her foster mom told us that they believe she is part Border Collie and part Jack Russell…which would explain a lot. We believe Bentley has some JR in him (again, don’t know for sure since he, too, was adopted), but they have a lot of the same mannerisms, and this girl can jump. Tim’s excited because he thinks she will be really good at frisbee (which is what he really wants, but Bentley just isn’t a big fan). Emma will likely weigh in at about 35-40 pounds once she’s fully grown. Bentley is a whopping 15 pounds, and she’s already bigger than he is. We really wanted a bigger dog for Bent, since that’s what he loves, so I think this should work out perfectly.

The night we got her, we took the two of them right to the pet store. They both rode in the front with us. It was interesting, to say the least, but luckily the pet store is only about five minutes away from our new home. We got Emma a new collar and leash, bones for both of them, new food bowls and everything she needed to be a part of our home.

The next morning, we took them on their first walk together right away. Our first walk as a family of four was a success. For only being on a leash a couple of times, she did really well.

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And after just a few hours, they started to warm up to each other (well, Emma was trying to warm up since the moment she came home to us; she was constantly putting her paw on Bentley trying to get him to play, and he wasn’t having it right away, but he did allow her on the couch, and he let her get pretty close too).

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And just a couple of days later? They’re laying in bed together and coming up with mischievous plans (Emma discovered the art of unrolling toilet paper, and Bentley may or may not have stood by her side and watched it all happen).

KaseyLucasStLouis - Emma4We’re housesitting for my parents this week and watching Daytona too (not the best timing to get a new dog, eh? Well, everything happens for a reason, and I’ve come to the realization that timing isn’t always in our own plans 😉 ). Daytona loves everyone so we weren’t worried about him. We were worried, however, about throwing Emma off of a schedule that she was starting to adjust to and yet another new home. ‘Grandma’s house,’ as we so call it when Bentley goes to see Daytona, is like Bentley’s second home though, and will soon become Emma’s too, so this isn’t such a bad thing. The dogs have been going wild since Wednesday morning and loving every bit of their time together (and expelling lots of energy which is an added bonus). It’s so funny because between Bent and Daytona, Bent is usually the trouble maker. Somehow now having a puppy is making Bentley seem like the most well-behaved dog I’ve ever met 😉

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It’s been a long few days adjusting to new family members, new schedules, lots of walks and extra playtime and even earlier mornings, but it’s so worth it, and after seeing how much Bentley and Emma are already bonding, I absolutely cannot wait to watch this relationship continue to grow, and I’m happy that Daytona gets to be a part of her life too. We’re a big family of dog lovers around here (if you haven’t already realized), so she fits in quite perfectly. I can’t wait to get Bent and Emma back to our home tomorrow and start to really get her into a routine with us.

And lastly, this morning, after waking up for another bright and early play session with three crazy pups, I found Bentley and Emma doing this:

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My heart literally began to melt. This makes me happier than I can even explain. Is it weird that I’m already envisioning the time in our lives that we bring children (not four-legged) into this world, and these two are protectors of them? Literally warms. my. heart. I could write an entirely different blog post on that though. We’ll save my thoughts on that for another day.

I’ve been sending frequent pictures and updates to Emma’s foster mom to let her know that she’s doing just fine and fits in so perfectly with our little family, and her latest response was, “I’m so happy she found her perfect family…Bless your heart for providing her with the love she deserves.” I think I cried a little when I read that. Dogs mean the world to me, and the fact that we’ve now adopted two of them makes my heart feel full. I cannot wait to see the adventures ahead for the two of them (well, three, Daytona too of course) and watch their love for one another continue to grow. The three of them are all played out from a morning of fun and are currently all passed out all of the kitchen as I’m writing this. I love it 🙂 Off to sneak in a quick shower before they wake back up and are ready to go at it again (is this what motherhood is like?!)!

KaseyLucasStLouis

 

On the move…

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Photo by SHD Photography

In November, Tim and I officially became first-time homeowners, and as of next week, we’ll officially be living with our new address. We’ve got a lot of big changes in store for the new year, starting with this one. I’m excited for what’s ahead, but it’s also a little bittersweet because I’ve loved our experience of living downtown for these last couple of years. We knew that we would be making a big move of some sort this year. We would either be moving someplace else (as in, outside of this city), or, if we stayed, we would finally decide to buy a home. I still have dreams of us moving away together to someplace new. We have envisioned a move to Chicago for years now, but alas, this is what’s best for us today, and we really love STL too and are happy that we’ve found the perfect little home still within these city limits. So for the next few years, this is our new life adventure. The projects have already begun, but we’ve wanted to soak up downtown living for as long as we can. The time has finally come though, and next weekend, we’re officially making the big move.

As soon as we closed on the house, which was actually before Thanksgiving, we jumped right in with attempting to find the perfect paint colors for the walls. If it were up to Tim, he would probably be content with the first color we chose. I, on the other hand, think things through a little too deeply. We’ve gone though one entire paint party with friends helping us out to find that the colors chosen we’re nothing like we thought. We finally decided to go for the Benjamin Moore paint I initially wanted to start with. Six (or so) sample cans and paint swatches on various walls in each room of the house later, we finally have colors on the walls. All this to find the perfect neutral shades of light and dark gray and white. It’s far more difficult than one would ever think! If you’re following along on Instagram, you’ve been fortunate enough to see these escapades thus far.

The month of December became a little crazy for us, hence my lack of anything blog related. Grad school got intense with my final weeks of courses and major projects and tests loomed, I was out of town for a big trade show for work, the holidays were, well, the holidays, and very unfortunately my grandmother passed away. Life got very tough, and I’ll admit that I had more breakdowns than one during those few weeks. I had a lot I wanted to write about in that time and just didn’t get to. Nonetheless, we made it through, we celebrated the new year with a wedding with friends and we happily put 2014 behind us and are beyond ready for the new beginnings that 2015 has in store. I’ve got 2015 goals to write about and a few reflections from 2014 to share, so hopefully I’ll get to those before Valentine’s Day 😉

Anyway, back to the house. Tim and I took a couple of days off this last week to get the Christmas decorations down, start doing some packing (yup, start…and we’re moving in less than a week) and to work on some things at the house. We’ve only got one room left to be painted, and Tim has done SO much (God love him for putting up with me throughout this process). I truly don’t know where I would be without him most days. We also took a fun day trip to Chicago on Friday (see, we decide we’re staying in St. Louis and still have to make an excuse to get back up to Chi) to go to IKEA and do a little bit of shopping for the house. Unfortunately the new STL IKEA is opening a few months too late (but I’m still anxiously awaiting that grand opening too!). We’ve kept most of the same furniture and moved it around with us since our first apartment when we got married, but we’ve decided we’re ready to trade a few things in, most specifically, our bedroom furniture. We found the most perfect headboard at IKEA that we brought home, and we ordered a few more pieces online that we should have within the next few days. I love to decorate, and this being the first place that we will actually own, I’m ready to make it really feel like a home so it’s exciting, yet a bit stressful and a lot overwhelming, all at the same time. It’ll be nice having a basement for storage and not having to store things away in a storage locker two floors down, so that’s a plus anyway 😉 I’ve been making frequent trips to Home Goods, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, West Elm and more. Today we got new lamps at Target, two beautiful mercury glass lamps for the bedroom, one of which I carried in and slipped right out of my fingers and crashed all over the hardwood floor. So, yes, there’s been an awful lot of that too, hence a breakdown or two. But, it’s ok. From what I hear, it’s all a part of this thing called home ownership. Not so sure that we’re ready for this or not (he’s been far more mentally ready that I have been), but we’re in and ready to dive right into this next chapter in our journey we call life. (Oh, and our privacy fence should be finished next week too…which means Bentley will have an entire yard to himself for the first time ever so this indeed is an exciting new feature!)

New adventures await, and I know that God’s got even bigger plans for us, so for today, I’m just going along with whatever those plans may be and with what each day holds. Here’s to our new year.

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KaseyLucasStLouis

The Colors of Fall

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In mid-October, we were finally able to see all of the beautiful colors of fall. The trees everywhere looked incredible. I went for a run and almost resisted snapping yet another Instagram photo of the fall leaves because I felt like I’d already posted so many (‘basic,’ right?!), but I just had to take yet another. The leaves were irresistible. My dear friend Shannon of SHD Photography (I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about her a time or two by now 😉 ) sent me a text message right away and said she needed to photograph those trees stat. It’s fun having a close friend whom is also a professional photographer and whom also lives just a few blocks away from us. We grabbed Bentley and went for a walk the following Sunday to meet Shannon where she snapped a few photos of us amongst the gorgeous colors of fall in the city in the combination of the most beautiful fall weather too. She’s been shooting a lot of film lately and wanted to use us as another film experiment. Naturally, we obliged. Bentley looks so handsome on film, I have to admit. I love seeing Shannon’s work on so many of our close friends, and it’s so much fun to be a part of it too! It seems like all of the pretty leave have already so quickly fallen from the trees, but at least I’ve got these photos to stare at for the rest of the season. Thanks for being amazing as usual, Shannon!

KaseyLucasStLouis

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Meet the Fam

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Photos by SHD Photography

Say hello to my crazy, goofy little family that I adore so much. The Lucas Family. Tim and I have been married since 2011, and we’ve had our dog, Bentley, since we were in college, before we had even gotten engaged. These two make me whole and make my heart feel very full. I couldn’t imagine life without either of them. Tim is my biggest supporter in all of my dreams and is the one whom I love taking adventures with. He gets me in a way that it just seems no one else does. I guess husbands have a way of doing that, huh?! 😉 And Bentley, well, he’s just pretty much the best thing to come home to every single day. His personality is always making me smile even when he does things that I’m sure deep down he knows drive me up the wall…like attempting to find Qtips in the bathroom trashcan and hoarding them under the bed…but that’s another story. I’m sure Bentley will get a post of his own at some point…he does turn 5 this year after all (I came to this sad realization just the other day actually). If I’m this emotional about my dog growing up, I can’t even imagine what I’ll be like when we have children someday, but Bent is our child for today 🙂 (He’s even got his own hashtag on Instagram: #adventuresofbentley) This is my family enjoying our little adventure in the city. St. Louis is home.

KaseyLucasStLouis

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