Friday Introductions

Happy Friday! Anyone else have an immeasurable amount of love for the weekend? (Hand raised high!) I thought that now that I’m using this space in some capacity to share the stories of other inspiring women, perhaps I should give a {re} introduction of myself here and on Instagram too for any new followers who haven’t been around since those early days. (And for those whom have stuck around, I commend you.) Here’s a bit more about who I am (interview style)!

Photo by Shannon Duggan Photography

Age: 30
Hometown: St. Louis, MO

What do you do in your day job?
Sometimes it seems so easy to follow along with other bloggers and Instagrammers and instantly assume that blogging and Instagramming is their full-time life, but alas, that’s not always the case (however for some, it is!). Outside of my Instagram loving life, I work in fundraising and alumni development in the world of business and higher education, and I love it!

How long have you been married?
Seven years (this week)! Tim and I started dating in high school, went to college together, were engaged two weeks post-graduation and married a year after that. We have grown so much together since the day he asked me to be his girlfriend when I was only 17 years old.

Do you have any kids?
No kids yet, however we cannot wait to start a family (more on this to come, I promise). In the meantime, we have two furry, four-legged children who we so love. Both Bentley and Emma were adopted; Bentley is an eight-year-old Beagle mix and Emma is a three-year-old Border Collie mix (or so we believe). They keep us very active and busy and sure do have a way of keeping our lives exciting! 

Favorite color? 
It’s always been pink – all shades of it!

Coffee or tea?
An iced vanilla latte or a glass of sweet tea – I love them both (and I have a sweet tooth)!

What’s your go-to when it’s ‘5 o’clock somewhere?’
A glass of rose or a moscow mule (with mint!)

Favorite city?
St. Louis is home, and it’s amazing to see the growth and transformation of our city. I love this place and always will. But, I love exploring other cities too (and I think this is something so important for all of us to do). Chicago makes the top few on my list, being a city I always thought that we would move to (and also where we got engaged!). New York was my dream city since I was a little girl, and I still envision living in a brownstone in Brooklyn, but after living on the west coast, Los Angeles has a very special place in my heart too. I love to travel and learn about the different cultures and ways of life in cities other than my own, and I feel like I can always find a little sense of home in every city that I visit.

If you could share a meal with one woman, who would it be?
Hoda Kotb, Co-Anchor of The Today Show

Favorite musician?
Andrew McMahon (If you don’t know him, you should; he’s a phenomenal storyteller.)

Favorite movie?
You’ve Got Mail forever!

Favorite bingeworthy TV show?
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has been a big favorite within the last year on Amazon Prime. This show is my favorite era, has amazing music and costume and is so funny. Highly recommend! As of late, Tim and I are obsessing over 13 Reasons Why. We watched season 1 as soon as it came out while we were still living in California. We started season 2 as soon as it came out, and now, we’re back to rewatching season 1. It’s so real and emotional, but can’t seem to get enough!

Random fact about you?
I am a big germaphobe – hand washing and sanitizing are a constant in my life. You could say I’m a bit fearful of the germs that surround us everywhere!

What has been a dream job that you have always had?
I’ve dreamt of being a magazine editor in NYC since I was a little girl OR of being an anchor on the TODAY Show (I’ve been watching since I was little with my mom and still can’t go a day without having it on the TV while I get ready in the morning). I have always been passionate about the world of journalism (storytelling!). I still dream of bits and pieces of that life. Various aspects of my life and career have had more characteristics of this vision than I think I ever truly realized.

Today’s biggest aspirations?
Seeing women continue to persevere and push for progress, growing as a leader and contributor to my community, and to one day become a mom.

A few of your favorite things?
Fresh flowers ($3.99 bouquet from Trader Joe’s is the best!), local finds, iced coffee, blush pink and gold accents, gluten free pretzels

Words to live by?
“This world can be ugly, but isn’t it beautiful?” -Andrew McMahon

Feel free to share more about who your are too! I love getting to know each of you. Stay tuned for the next Women Inspire Women interview coming your way next week.

Happy Weekend!


Meet Jenna!

Alas, the thing that I have been most excited about in revamping my blog – the Women Inspire Women series – is officially ready to launch! I cannot think of anyone more perfect to start this series with than my sweet friend, Jenna.

Like many of the inspirational women in my life, our relationship started thanks to the love of social media. It was in the world of wedding planning when our paths really crossed. Jenna was living in St. Louis (prior to her move to Kansas City, and now back to her hometown in Indiana) and working as a graphic designer for a wedding and events company here while I was in the the early stages of my events-focused career. I was enthralled in the world of weddings and special events, and Jenna even designed some pretty stationery products for one of my first styled photo shoots for Regale – the online space that Jenna was running at the time and that I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to write for, thanks to Jenna. (It’s been a few years since such fun things have been the main focus of my career.) Since then, I have followed along on Jenna’s journey as she traveled across the state and began to launch and grow her own business. It has been so fun to see how things have progressed as an outsider looking in. I’ve also used some of Jenna’s products, and I can vouch for the fact that they are indeed all the things she says they are. I also really love paper products, planners and to-do lists, so I feel like she really speaks to my heart. Jenna, I am so proud of how far your business has come, and I look forward to continuing to watch you and your business grow! (Oh, and ‘How I Built This’ is one of my absolute favorite go-to podcasts too…Not surprised!) Enjoy learning more about Jenna and her business – Workspacery – below!

Name: Jenna Murillo
Age: 29
Company: Workspacery
Title: Owner
Currently Located: Evansville, IN

All photos by Shanley Cox Creative

Describe yourself in 3 words:
Resilient, intentional, and curious

Describe your business and what you do:

Workspacery was founded with the mission of helping those who work at home create an inspiring, functional, and productive workspace so they can do their best work in any environment. I design planning and organizational tools to encourage working smarter, not harder, and I aid other businesses with creating their own custom planners, workbooks, and digital products for their clients, employees, and events.

How did you start in this field?

It all started with a love of paper and to do lists — and that love evolved into an entire business centered around productivity, planning, and the workspace! The product world is its own adventure; through months of research and trial and error, I created my very first planner back in 2015 and fell in love with the process of creating and selling a physical product. Knowing that my passion lies in the science behind working smarter and planning more strategically, I launched under the name Workspacery, my online hub for sharing this knowledge and these intentionally designed tools with the world.

Did you know that this was something you always wanted to do?

I always knew I wanted to start and own a business; I thrive in figure-it-out situations and fell in love with the idea of building something from nothing, while supporting others through fun job opportunities. I had no idea it would be in the paper and planning world — but looking back at my love of creating paper books and toys as a child, I’m not surprised! Life has a funny way of building your experiences on top of one another as you continue to evolve and grow as a person.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

At its core, Workspacery is all about creating an inspiring, functional workspace so you can do your best work; I have dreams of creating a beautiful workshop and space, inviting people to come in and create, collaborate, and connect with others. With more and more people working from home for others or themselves as business owners and freelancers, I’d love to help bring them together through a multi-functional space designed for collaboration and growth.

What has been a dream job that you have had since you were a little girl?

Ah, there have been many dream jobs that crossed my mind over the years! I was very into the arts as a child, and for a long time, I wanted to be an illustrator of comics and childrens books. There was another brief moment when I wanted to be a professional voiceover — like those you hear on commercials and infomercials. And then of course, thanks to Jennifer Lopez, I set my heart on becoming a wedding planner for many years. I like to think all of these interests came together to play a role in my business today.

In what ways do you see yourself inspiring other women?

Business ownership can be a very male-dominated world; over the years, however, my eyes have been opened to the vast numbers of women starting their own companies, and I love to think that I’m a part of that, encouraging young women to do the same. One of the biggest reasons I’m excited to hire a team and introduce internships is to share the experience of running a business with other young, ambitious women.

Who has been the biggest inspiration to you?

Ready for a cheesy answer? I find immense inspiration in the stories and lives of those who have built empires from nothing. All of the “sharks” on the ABC show Shark Tank have incredible stories of how they started at ground zero and built thriving businesses — not without their individual challenges, struggles, and setbacks along the way. I think it’s important to look past the highlight reel and understand the entire journey it took to get them there. I also love the stories of entrepreneurs like Kendra Scott, Sara Blakely, and Kate Spade — all forces of nature that transformed industries through their resilience and innovative thinking.

If you could have coffee/tea/lunch/happy hour with one of your life role models, who would it be and where?

What a great question! My list is long — but if I had to narrow it down to one person at this time in my life, I would love nothing more than to have a long afternoon with Sara Blakely. Her drive for continual evolution and resilience in business is something I’ve admired for years, and I’d love to simply listen to her, ask her questions, and dive even deeper into her philosophies for life and business. I would fly anywhere in a minute to make this dream afternoon a reality!

What are 3 of your current favorite things (books, podcasts, music, beauty products, etc.)? 

I’m the biggest business book nerd, so this first one is for my fellow biz readers out there: “The Personal MBA” by Josh Kaufman. This book is packed with brilliant info and nuggets into the world of business, finance, marketing, consumer psychology, and more. It’s been an invaluable resource for me this year.

My favorite podcast on any given day is NPR’s “How I Built This with Guy Raz.” There’s that spark of inspiration I love surrounding myself with on the daily!

I also get asked quite a bit about my favorite photo editing apps — and my go-to for the last two years has been PS Express, the on-the-go Photoshop app designed for smart, consistent editing.

Here are all of the platforms where you can find Jenna and see more of her gorgeous work:


I hope you had fun getting to know Jenna, and I can’t wait to introduce you to more fabulous, inspiring, empowering women in the weeks to come!


PS – Know someone who would be great to feature as an empowering women? Contact me HERE, and let me know! I’d love to contact her and learn more!


Photos via Urban Harvest STL

If you know me, you know my love for yoga well. And if you don’t, well then now you do. I wouldn’t necessarily say that yoga is something that I’m particularly good at, but it it something that I’ve grown to love. I started practicing in 2011 – shortly before our wedding day. I was so enthralled in wedding planning, and although loving every single minute of it, I was seeking something to give my mind a break. I grew up dancing competitively, so that was my form of exercise while also being my emotional outlet (and also favorite form of community and socialization) nearly every day of the week and weekend. It was my life from elementary school through high school, and it took shape in different ways in college.

Following college, though, I needed something more. I wasn’t dancing daily anymore, I wasn’t a runner (I attempted – Tim even coached me through a 5K (a Santa run, mind you), and that was humorous at best. Just not something I thoroughly enjoyed.) and I didn’t really know what to do at the gym despite our Club Fitness passes that we had.

Then I found yoga. I wanted to try it so badly but was honestly scared at first. This is when it wasn’t as ‘trendy’ as it started to become. I started practicing at Blue Bird Yoga on Main St. in St. Charles while we were still living on that side of the river, and I instantly fell in love and couldn’t get enough. My practice began to grow, and once we moved into the city, I started practicing at Southtown Yoga in Lafayette Square, which to this day, is still my favorite studio in St. Louis. The overall vibe is lovely, and I’ve never felt a moment of discomfort when I’ve stepped inside those doors.

I started using ClassPass when we were living in California to better help me find a studio that I loved there, and I found several that way. Now that we’re back home in St. Louis, I’m continuing to use ClassPass, and have found a few others that I have really grown to love too – Shanti Yoga and Yoga Six being a couple of them.

I dream of the opportunity to do yoga teacher training one day. Not anytime soon, but one day. I’m still slightly terrified of inversions, though, and my upper arm strength is nowhere near where I would like for it to be, but it sure is a whole heck of a lot better than it once was, that’s for sure. I will give yoga the credit for that. I’ve still got a long way to go in my practice, and I know I need to dedicate more than a couple days a week to it to get to where I want to be, but I’m sure that time will one day come.

In the meantime, though, I will continue practicing in St. Louis and in other cities that I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to occasionally travel to, and I will also continue to take advantage of the opportunity to support local organizations through yoga in our city. Just last week, my dear friend, Laura, and I attended Farm Flow Yoga at FOOD ROOF downtown, supporting Urban Harvest STL. It. was. lovely. And was taught by one of my favorite teachers from Southtown too! The views were spectacular, and the sounds of the city were ideal for shavasana at the end of the practice. The combination of yoga at a farm on a rooftop in the middle of the city seems like the strangest of things, yet somehow, it just works. Especially here. This particular event takes place once a month throughout the summer. I’m hoping to be able to attend again, and I highly recommend it. If you don’t know what Urban Harvest STL is, they grow organic food across different platforms in the city and deliver to their food access cluster partners the same day ensuring that nutrient density is optimal – among many other things. You can find out more about their mission HERE.

I now realize that this seems like some sort of a sponsored post. It’s not. I just like to share things/events/opportunities that I love. Not to mention, I am a non-profit gal. It’s my line of work, and I’m all about supporting all things local here in our community and consistently seeking new ways to do so. I hope that you will do the same. St. Louis is continually growing, and there is so much good that is happening here. I cannot wait to see what more is to come.


Women Inspire Women

Well, would you look at that? One month since my first post back in action, and I’m already onto the next. Not too shabby considering my lack thereof for the last year or two, eh?! I’m working on it. I do have quite a few drafts awaiting completion, but that’s another story. (Note – One of those drafts is of a few of my favorite places in Orange County, CA – I’ve had lots of people asking for places to go while they visit OC, so I thought I’d go ahead and put it all in one place…It’s coming, I promise!)

BUT, what I’m currently feeling so excited about is one of the main reasons that I ultimately wanted to bring the blog back – sharing stories of women who are inspiring other women, every single day. I’ve been chatting with a few pretty darn amazing women who are rocking it in their businesses and local communities, and I cannot wait to share their stories with you, and many more to come.

I believe women empower women. I believe in men as our allies. I believe that we all deserve a seat at the table. I believe that our stories can change the world.

Women constantly amaze me with their stories, their dreams, their pursuits. I continue to be encouraged and empowered by the stories I learn of other women and the ways, big and small, that they are changing the world. Some are birth moms, some are business owners, some are co-founders, some are foster and adoptive moms, some are non-profit and community leaders, some are CEO’s and everything in between. I hope that you can relate to some of these stories and that they can encourage and inspire you too.

Interviews coming soon!

Back again

2017 was one for the books. But then again, 2015 and 2016 were too. Of course every year has had its highlights, as well as its lows, but these last few years have transformed me in ways I’ve never quite thought imaginable.
If you’ve followed my blog(s) in the past (my how they have transformed over the years), you know that my last post on my most recent blog was from 2017. Actually, it was the first day of 2017. (Blasphemy!) I think that speaks volumes as to what 2017 was for me. It provided my husband, Tim, and I a season of change and a season of being still as we continue to dream of the future. After a very necessary, albeit seemingly short, time living in Southern California, after uprooting our lives and our dogs to the west coast, we felt a calling from God leading us back to our hometown. Life was good in California. Tim’s job was great, I got a promotion and loved my job too. We made some really great friends, got so lucky with amazing neighbors and, well, the weather and the beaches were quite lovely. Sure, there were things that we didn’t always love, like being so far from family and friends back home and the much more appealing cost of living of the Midwest, but really, life was so dang good.
When the opportunity arose a few years ago sending us out west, we knew we had to take it. We felt God in every piece of that season. It was challenging but wonderful. We were starting to finally feel comfortable living that west coast life, and I think we were living it quite well (Tim especially). When the plane would fly over the coast of the Pacific Ocean on trips back to the west coast, I looked out the window over downtown LA or the glistening blue water, and would smile to myself, saying ‘I’m home.’ It felt good to finally have that feeling.
Insert God. Again. They say as soon as we start to feel comfortable, He may intervene. He sent us on that West Coast adventure for a reason. For many reasons.
But we knew deep down, prayer after prayer and sign after sign, that He was sending us back home too. As in St. Louis home. In a series of events to follow from the end of 2016 to early 2017, one thing led to another, jobs and opportunities were extremely in our favor (in the Midwest especially), and while some things didn’t make much sense, so many things made seemingly perfect sense. We didn’t ultimately expect it to be so soon, but we knew that it was time for yet another {big} move.
And so, I came home in April (almost exactly one year ago now – what perfect timing to finally get that blog revamped, eh!?), Tim came home at the end of July, and we spent those few months in a long distance marriage whilst traveling cross country to see each other and to get our life packed back up to get everything moved back home. Once here, we were fortunate enough to have kept our South City home and had a great family living in it while we were away, but we needed to give them time to find a new place to live too, hence, we stayed at my parents’ house for a good chunk of last year. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) Insert our hearts’ strongest desires to start a family in the midst of these last few years of transition, all to no avail.
To say that 2017 was a whirlwind would be an understatement. We moved back into our home before Thanksgiving, and now that it’s spring of 2018 (despite it not quite feeling that way outside), we’re just now starting to really feel settled – In our home, in our jobs, with our church, with our community. For those first few months I admittedly didn’t know if we had made the right decision. But now, it’s all making so much more sense.
I’m happy to be back. I’m happy for what’s to come. I love our city. I feel like we are right at home, exactly where we are supposed to be.

Photo by Shannon Duggan Photography

Welcome {back} to the latest run of my blog where I intend to share not only a bit about my life and some of my story, but the stories of others who inspire me too. I believe that women empower women. I believe in men as our allies. I believe that stories can change the world.
I want this to be a space where women can relate to other women with their stories – whether that be about career paths, motherhood, infertility, adoption, foster care and everything in between. That sentence alone may give you a bit of a glimpse of the pieces of my story that I’ve been less vocal about in the last couple of years, but I’m ready to share more with the world and with each of you. I’m hopeful that a very new chapter for us will be opening up soon. 
Much more to come. Thanks for being here. Xo.

Farewell, 2016. Hello, 2017.

venicebeachPhoto by Shannon Duggan Photography

I love the feeling of newness and anticipation that every new year brings. We have no idea what 2017 has in store for us, but then again, who really does? I have a lot of big hopes and dreams and aspirations for whatever may lie ahead. This past year I’ve learned more than most that it’s important to not let what makes you comfortable stand in the way of what you are called to do. Instead of making any resolutions or goals or choosing a word or a theme for this new year, I’m going to let that quote carry me through.

This has been one heck of a transformational year. It’s a funny thing when you pick up your entire life and move it to the other side of the country. It’s a transformational thing, really. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and I’ve learned a lot about us. We’ve explored and learned so much new, living in a culture entirely different than what we’re used to. I’ve read a lot and written even more. Not publicly, but personally and privately. As much as I wanted to write more on here, revamp the blog, give it another facelift (and I would love to do all of these things in this new year as well), I have continued to learn that pen to paper is still my favorite way to express my thoughts, even if I’m expressing them to no one other than myself. Maybe someday I’ll share more of those thoughts with the world, but likely not any time soon.

2016 has been a challenge in many ways but an opportunity for growth and learning and adventure more than anything else. 2016 has been a really, really great year.

We came home on Friday night from our two week trip home to STL, and while it was so so good to be home with family and friends for the holidays, it also felt good to come back to our California home too. Isn’t it the strangest thing the way that we can feel so at home in one place and equally at home in another? It’s a complicated feeling, but I think a lot of it has to do with nothing more than the people we are with. Maybe it also has something to do with the fact that the months of August – December were non-stop travel for us. Really, it seems like all of 2016 was that way, and it’s been amazing, but this little bit of ‘downtime’ at home this weekend before jumping back into the busyness of work this week has felt so good. I feel rejuvenated and ready to dive right into this New Year. I know it’s going to be another busy one, I know there will be a lot of travel, but aside from that, God only knows what more is in store. Only time will tell.

Farewell 2016, you’ve been good to us.

Hello, 2017.


The Refresh Weekly Planner


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.

(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.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-03-39-pm screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-6-03-14-pm

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.


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


{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?



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. 🙂


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.)


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.


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!

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.


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.


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.


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!