Discovering Kansas City

Kansas City is larger than any other city I’ve ever been in. Granted, there’s Kansas City and then there’s the Kansas City area, not the same but they might as well be. Steven and I have gone many times, a mixture of his medical training and trips to my fertility doctor. The majority of those visits were for a few hours, and mainly making quick stops at stores we love but don’t have back in the part of Kansas we live in. Over Labor Day weekend, we went for a few days, to try to experience all we could in a short time. These are the events that followed:

We got to our hotel, checked in and unloaded the car. We stopped in Lawrence for lunch and got to the city a bit later than we had originally planned. However, we did have a few hours to find and wander around River City Market Antique Mall before it closed. The outside of the building is covered in a colorful Lewis & Clark mural and looks HUGE! It’s four stories, including the basement. As soon as we walked in I knew I was going to love the place.


Too many old photographs to go through!


This place is after my heart!

If you are going through Kansas City and love collections of awesome and random things, this store is a MUST. From clothes, furniture, toys, home goods, there is seriously everything you could think of at a relatively decent price! We were in there for two hours and it was not enough to see everything.

A few blocks away is a must see for book lovers:


Kansas City Public Library (the parking garage!)


even the steps are books!

The sun was starting to get lower, and our stomachs were starting to grumble. On the way back to the hotel we made a stop in the Shawnee area of Kansas City to see a hidden gem I’d seen many photos of online:


Sauer’s Castle, Built in 1871.

It’s currently abandoned but there is a caretaker who lives in a separate home on the property. It’s completely gated off, but the caretaker said that almost nightly – someone is trying to break in. I honestly cannot blame the people for their curiosity, the place just reeks of history and creepy vibes. The current owner lives in New York, and does not seem to be in any hurry to restore the property. I hope one day soon he’ll change his mind and open it to the public. I would most certainly pay for a tour!

For dinner, we went to a little place called Mi Ranchito. It honestly was not much to look at from the outside, being attached to an auto repair shop, but the outside patio was packed with people – so we thought we would give it a shot! Manhattan and the Fort Riley area do not really have the Mexican food we are used to, but this place has been the best Mexican food we’ve had since moving away from California! It was also a gorgeous night, the weather was behaving itself, and the patio was a great place to be.

We went back to our hotel, tried to recover from walking and standing in the hot tub, and then retired to our room to look over the photos I had got from River Market Antique Mall as well as figure out what we were going to do the next day. Of course, until this happened:

Around 11:30 PM our hotel was evacuated. 200 some folks standing in the parking lot for a half hour because someone decided to smoke in their room. Kudos to the hotel though for having a very efficient alarm. There was no way anyone could sleep through it and/or take their time getting out of the hotel; it was so loud it could have easily induced a headache in no time.

We got up, got ready, checked out and headed out for more adventures. We ate a quick breakfast and then Steven was nice enough to let me make my way into an ULTA. The first one did not have any of the Naked Basics 2 palette by Urban Decay that had just come out, so we jumped on the freeway for ten minutes to the next. Can I say how unfair it is that Kansas City has multiple ULTAs in less than a fifteen minute drive radius, and Manhattan has none?! Anyway, I got my hands on the new Naked Basics palette, and yes, I love it!

Next it was off to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. This museum is COMPLETELY free to visit, minus the $8 to park in their parking garage.

There is art all around the museum, but they’re most known for the huge shuttlecocks that are in various locations.

The building itself is a piece of art:

Water Lilies by Claude Monet. I saw it and was immediately brought to tears. I’ve seen this series so many times in art history books and never thought it would be as big as it is. It’s absolutely breathtaking.

I also cried when I saw the few pieces they have by Vincent Van Gogh (Pictured Olive Orchard). To be in front of a canvas that he painted felt like such a huge honor. If only he could have known how much is artwork is known and loved today.


Modern & Contemporary Art Gallery (Can you spot the Andy Warhol?)

We spent somewhere around four hours in the museum, and by then our legs and feet were exhausted. We had originally wanted to go to Country Club Plaza after, but there was just no way.

We made a quick stop to Gates BBQ and had some of the best barbeque we’ve had since coming to Kansas (Oklahoma Joe’s who?). SO delicious!

On the way back home we stopped in Topeka to see the very famously offensive hate group, The Westboro Baptist Church. Their amount of arrogance, hatred, and downright disrespect for others is mind blowing. Across the street, however, is a wonderful sight to see. We took the above photo in front of The Equality House.

Turns out we should have left Kansas City earlier and completely skipped Topeka, though, because we got stuck in the middle of the worst storm we’ve had this summer. High winds, rain so heavy we were only going maybe 20 MPH in a 75 MPH zone and almost had to pull over, and not to mention the pretty but very scary light show:

I definitely fell in love with Kansas City that weekend. I’m ready to go back and explore more!

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100 Happy Days ♥ Days 91 through 100!

It has been over a month since I completed the #100HAPPYdays challenge and my apologies for posting it so late. On 100HappyDays.com the creator claims that 71% of people who start the challenge will not complete it, claiming lack of time as the reason why. I am apart of the 29% who managed to complete it! I started this challenge in attempts to mentally recover from having a miscarriage after battling infertility for two years. Halfway through, on Day 50 strangely enough, I suffered from a second miscarriage. I originally posted on Instagram that I would restart the challenge a week or so later, but I quickly went back on that, and continued on. The challenge is about finding happiness in your day, no matter HOW bad your day may be. Did I have time to be happy every single day? Not necessarily. I MADE TIME.

100 Happy Days, Days 1 – 10 & 11 – 20 & 21 – 30 & 31 – 40 & 41 – 50 & 51 – 60 & 61 – 70 & 71 – 80 & 81 – 90

On 100HappyDays.com there are claims that people who had completed the challenge benefited from some positive effects including: being in a better mood every day, they started receiving more compliments from other people, they realized how lucky they are to have the life they have, they become more optimistic, and they fall in love during the challenge. I suppose to each their own, especially when things going on your life can hinder or improve happiness. I would not say I was in a better mood BECAUSE of the challenge, but had a better attitude about the day when looking back on the photos of what made me happy that day. I would not say I necessarily received more compliments, but was better at accepting the ones I did receive. I have never been one to take life for granted and every day I’m thankful for the opportunities my husband and I have been given. I would definitely not say I became more optimistic, however, that was because of my situation and what it means to me. As far as falling in love during the challenge, I fall in love with my husband every single day. I think the “falling in love” benefit the website lists is more of a falling in love with life and happiness, rather than a person.

Monday, June 30th 2014

The day before my parents arrived for a visit I finished a few projects I had around the house, cleaned up the place, and washed all the laundry. I felt accomplished!

Tuesday, July 1st 2014

My parents made it to our house just in time for dinner. I made buffalo cauliflower (I HIGHLY recommend! My favorite recipe is from PersnicketyPlates.com) and Steven made a homemade pizza!

Wednesday, July 2nd 2014

For the FMSphotoaday challenge, the prompt was something beginning with K, so I took a photo of my Kodak camera! It was a day of taking mental images as my parents and I caught up!

Thursday, July 3rd 2014

Steven got off early from work so we drove to Manhattan, Kansas, and showed my parents around our favorite spots! We discovered Chris Barr’s Cabin in the process. It was found inside a home when it was torn down, and is believed to have been apart of the Underground Railroad!

Friday, July 4th 2014

Since fireworks are not allowed on post, we took it easy for the Fourth of July this year. We ate a big dinner and took my parents on a nearby hike along the river! When we made it back on post, it was perfect timing to sit up on the hill and look down to a nearby town and watch all the fireworks go off.

Saturday, July 5th 2014

Steven and my dad went fishing and my mom and I went to my favorite thrift stores! I found this Steve Urkel doll and could not help but take a photo or two of it. The TGIF television line up holds a lot of fond memories for me!

Sunday, July 6th 2014

There was a huge heatwave and it prevented us from wanting to do much at all! Temperatures were in the high 90s to 100s and the humidity way too high for our blood. We drove around Milford Lake and came across the discovery center and fish hatchery there. This little piggy in a tree near there was too happy not to capture.

Monday, July 7th 2014

The weather was a bit cooler than it had been over the weekend, so the boys attempted to go fishing again. My mother and I went off post to some thrift stores, most of which were closed for the four day weekend. We did manage to find an open cupcake shop though!

Tuesday, July 8th 2014

My parents left that morning to travel a bit more before returning home to California. Kansas was back to being the state of Steven and Kristen.

Wednesday, July 9th 2014

I decided to leave the #100HappyDays photo challenge exactly the way I came into it: with a selfie! It’s up to me whether I choose to be happy or not. I have to be the one to fight for my happiness.

Was I happy for 100 days?! No.
Was I able to find something happy in every single day? Yes.
The #100HappyDays challenge showed me that happiness is a journey NOT a destination. You have to enjoy the journey, look for the good when you hit those bumps in the road. Looking over everyone who has taken part of the challenge, it also shows that the journey can be harder for some people. It’s easy to be thrown off course, and to be honest, I got back into a bad place after the 100 days was over. It’s really easy for people on the outside to throw out a “just be happy” or “choose happiness” when it’s not that easy.

I did it! I made it to 100 days! I recommend it. There’s so much good that can happen spiritually and emotionally from looking for the HAPPY in each and every day!

Can you find the happy for 100 days?

100 Happy Days ♥ Day 81 through 90

I’m almost caught up on my #100HappyDays posts! This is the second to last! I’m using this as filler for where I have been (short and to the point?) before I get into the usual posts. I have now completed the challenge (that’s how far behind my posts are!) and I am now working on FatMumSlim‘s July photo challenge.

100 Happy Days, Days 1 – 10 & 11 – 20 & 21 – 30 & 31 – 40 & 41 – 50 & 51 – 60 & 61 – 70 & 71 – 80

In case you are new to my blog, I have been taking part in the 100 Happy Days Challenge and I have been posting my daily happy onto my Instagram account @CameraKristen. This year started off emotionally draining and on April 1st I decided it was time to fight back! This project has helped me see the wonderful in every day – even if it is just something small. Halfway through, I was painfully reminded why I started this project but I didn’t give up. There is ALWAYS something to be happy about and thankful for, even when you are going through a tough time!

Friday, June 20th 2014

Nothing gets my husband to want to hang things for me more than an upcoming visit from my parents! At that point, we had been living in our new home almost two months AND some of the walls were still very bare! We finally had our bedroom furniture where we wanted it so I collected what I wanted to be hung – and my wonderful husband made it happen!

Saturday, June 21st 2014

We thought our new patio furniture was going to be delivered that day – BUT instead just the new table showed up at our door. It was a hot day but we spent it on our patio, testing one another’s knowledge of 90s music.

Sunday, June 22nd 2014

This is semi an inside joke, but not really! We had some friends over for a BBQ. After dinner the guys made a game of our bug zapper and even got the fly swatter involved. They tried to hit bugs into the zapper. It was definitely a “you had to be there” moment!

Monday, June 23rd 2014

It was a very good mail day! My husband brews his own beer and got a lot of new equipment to do so and I got my brand new Kindle Fire HDX! I cannot give Amazon enough credit for having such amazing customer service. My old Kindle Fire (the first ever to come out) stopped charging and Amazon gave me a huge discount on a new one! I was so excited to have books at my finger tips again as well as so many new cool features!

Tuesday, June 24th 2014

On the left, is my new Kindle Fire HDX. On the right, is my old Kindle Fire. That day I received the skin for my new one, exactly like the old. I’m a fan of Vincent Van Gogh and “Blossoming Almond Tree” is my absolute favorite painting by him – CAN you tell?

Wednesday, June 25th 2014

I cleaned the house, did tons of laundry, re organized what needed to be situated better, and Tayte was my shadow.

Thursday, June 26th 2014

Two days in a row of Tayte! I had been fighting the worst lethargy that I finally made my way to the doctor about it. They are not entirely sure what’s causing it, but kitty snuggles couldn’t hurt!

Friday, June 27th 2014

After a relatively relaxed and low key week, it was very nice to get out of the house and meet friends for dinner and drinks. Pictured is my favorite, a snake bite! It’s half and half, Guinness and cider beer!

Saturday, June 28th 2014

It was such a lovely day! We went into town again, snagged some lunch to go, and ate it in our favorite spot in town. Last year the water was a lot lower and we use to walk out into it!

Sunday, June 29th 2014

“Donuts make people happy!” is the slogan for a local donut shop – AND I could not agree more! My favorite is definitely the one with the raspberry jelly center!

100 Happy Days ♥ Day 71 through 80

I got distracted by life again. I thought of posting something along the lines of where I have been and photos of all the in between, but I think I will save that for another day. Anyways, this is my happiness project and it pretty much summarizes where I have been! I have now completed the challenge (that’s how far behind my posts are!) and I am now working on FatMumSlim‘s July photo challenge.

100 Happy Days, Days 1 – 10 & 11 – 20 & 21 – 30 & 31 – 40 & 41 – 50 & 51 – 60 & 61 – 70

In case you are new to my blog, I have been taking part in the 100 Happy Days Challenge and I have been posting my daily happy onto my Instagram account @CameraKristen. This year started off emotionally draining and on April 1st I decided it was time to fight back! This project has helped me see the wonderful in every day – even if it is just something small. Halfway through, I was painfully reminded why I started this project but I didn’t give up. There is ALWAYS something to be happy about and thankful for, even when you are going through a tough time!

Tuesday, June 10th 2014

Sometimes I paint. Sometimes I add color to something new, sometimes I change the color of something old! This particular day I was painting plant pots!

Wednesday, June 11th 2014

We started to move things around the house to the way we really liked them (only took us two months!). We moved around our bedroom furniture and put our bed against a window – which seemed a little awkward. Thanks to Pinterest, I made it a bit more decorative AND in turn got a great reading light too!

Thursday, June 12th 2014

I finished up a few odds and ends around the house. This pot has a rainbow on it to reminds me to have hope that we will have our rainbow baby one day. I also (tried) to paint the footprints of our two angels that we lost.

Friday, June 13th 2014

We wandered around Manhattan and somehow I convinced my husband to stop by the JoAnn’s. Too many pretty things to choose from!

Saturday, June 14th 2014

We had got this pet bed on clearence at Marshall’s the day prior. Before the bed, Tayte (our cat) would lay on top of a blanket placed awkwardly over the couch. I think she almost thought we were trying to block her from getting into the window at all when we first put her bed in the window. She took awhile to warm up to it, but now it’s hard to get her out of it!

Sunday, June 15th 2014

It was father’s day and my womb was empty. We were lazy, we had heavy hearts, we took it easy. I did get to plant some of the flowers I had purchased a week before though!

Monday, June 16th 2014

It was the last day of a four day weekend for my husband and we kept ourselves occupied! The power went out for several hours around dinnertime. We had to order out and sat in the driveway waiting for our Chinese food to be delivered.

Tuesday, June 17th 2014

My wonderful husband hung this painting (from Hobby Lobby) and the mirrors (from Target) we had gotten the day before. Our living room walls started to look a lot less bare! In the caption on Instagram I mentioned that within a week’s time, I expected myself to crack and spray paint the frames to the mirrors…

Wednesday, June 18th 2014

… In actuality, it only took 24 hours!

Thursday, June 19th 2014

I joined a book club! We ventured into the post library for the first time since living here. Yes, it was love! Being surrounded by books is one of my absolute favorite feelings!

100 Happy Days ♥ Day 61 through 70

Yikes! I wanted to have this up yesterday BUT my body had other plans in mind! I’ve been fighting something not even the doctor is sure of, but hopefully I’ll be feeling back to normal soon!

100 Happy Days, Days 1 – 10 & 11 – 20 & 21 – 30 & 31 – 40 & 41 – 50 & 51 – 60

In case you are new to my blog, I have been taking part in the 100 Happy Days Challenge and I have been posting my daily happy onto my Instagram account @CameraKristen. This year started off emotionally draining and on April 1st I decided it was time to fight back! This project has helped me see the wonderful in every day – even if it is just something small. Halfway through, I was painfully reminded why I started this project but I didn’t give up. There is ALWAYS something to be happy about and thankful for, even when you are going through a tough time!

Saturday, May 31st 2014

My husband’s friends from his unit were almost all home from deployment! We invited one of his buddies over for some delicious barbeque and the fun and amazing stories ensued!

Sunday, June 1st 2014

The locals say “If you don’t like the weather, wait ten minutes and it will change.” This was one of those days! It started off as a lovely day! I met my friend Brittney in town for margaritas and a pedicure all while it was nice outside! As soon as I got home the weather turned! Kansas definitely has some pretty light shows though!

Monday, June 2nd 2014

It was a pretty quiet day. I did receive this lovely bracelet from my mother-in-law! Thank you!

Tuesday, June 3rd 2014

This was an uplifting day! My husband and I made our way to Kansas City to meet our new fertility doctor and discuss what may have gone wrong the second pregnancy and make realistic plans for the future. She was very positive thinking – and that was definitely something we needed! The weather behaved itself and it was a great touristy day! (See the angel wings in the clouds?)

Wednesday, June 4th 2014

Next to the check out line in the commissary they strategically place all the junk food I love. These were that day’s choice: Jordan Almonds!

Thursday, June 5th 2014

There was a HORRIBLE storm that morning. We had wind gusts of up to 80mph in some places and pieces of homes were strewn about my entire neighborhood. Once it passed though, you would have never known how ugly it had once been!

Friday, June 6th 2014

When we lived in town we used to live a few minutes from an Asian market. Not until that day did we adventure into it. I do not know if it was a good thing (we would’ve spent all our money there!) or a bad thing (it’s now over a half hour away!) that we just now discovered its’ greatness! We found so many delicious goodies that remind us of home and that are so hard to find here!

Saturday, June 7th 2014

We put a California state flag in our patio. We thought it was slightly comical that Monarch looks confused on why he’s in Kansas!

Sunday, June 8th 2014

We said, “let’s make homemade pho!” and it was delicious!

Monday, June 9th 2014

It had been exceptionally humid over the weekend and the the rain was a great break from it! I LOVE that it rains here during the summer!

100 Happy Days ♥ Days 51 through 60

When I went on an unintential hiatus I fell behind with my posts on my 100 Happy Days Photo challenge! Please excuse the realitively close postings – but I am almost all caught up. These are the photos from days 51 through 60. I am currently on Day 78!

100 Happy Days, Days 1 – 10 & 11 – 20 & 21 – 30 & 31 – 40 & 41 – 50

In case you are new to my blog, I have been taking part in the 100 Happy Days Challenge and I have been posting my daily happy onto my Instagram account @CameraKristen. This year has been emotionally trying for me and my husband. In a few short months we’ve learned a lot of life lessons! This challenge is definitely helping me to remember to look for all the HAPPY in each and every day. No matter how tough times can get, there is always something to be grateful for!

Wednesday, May 21st 2014

This is easily my favorite road on Fort Riley. It’s lush and green, twisty and turning, and absolutely beautiful this time of year!

Thursday, May 22nd 2014

A post before this (not in the challenge) I said I would be restarting my 100 Happy Challenge later on and that I was having my second miscarriage. After some thought, however, I realized that that’s NOT what the challenge is about. It was about finding the good in each and every day. When I took this photo I was laying on a table in the doctor’s office, curled up in pain, waiting. I knew I was miscarrying even though I had not been officially told (this is something you just know is happening). There wasn’t a lot of happy that day, but I did have the image over their light reminding me to “just keep swimming.”

Friday, May 23rd 2014

It was Memorial Day weekend, which meant a four day weekend for my husband. The day started off lazy and sullen, but I didn’t want to be home to think about what was really going on. We wandered around town, not doing a whole lot, but my husband did get this hat!

Saturday, May 24th 2014

Again, not wanting to sit home and sulk, we went to Topeka. It was a muggy but rainy day, and I couldn’t help but feel like I had somehow conjured the ugly weather.

Sunday, May 25th 2014

All play and avoidance and no recovery made me a dull lady. I will save you the symptoms of miscarriage, but they do require some rest in the process. I had to take a day to do nothing but wallow in it.

Monday, May 26th 2014

There are subtle similarities to the house we recently moved into and the house I lived in as a toddler. One thing I remember about Spring and Summer nights there was watching the bug zapper. Steven and I had been talking about getting one, and even purchased and returned one before this, before we found the lantern style we were looking for.

Tuesday, May 27th 2014

With the warmer weather, it was obvious that summer has been approaching quickly. Nothing says summer quite like Sun Tea! This was our first batch this year!

Wednesday, May 28th 2014

I make magnets out of beer bottle caps! This particular day we got a new fridge – and I moved our collection to my husband’s chest freezer for the time being. But the new fridge was definitely my happy that day!

Thursday, May 29th 2014

I had got this tank top the day we went to Topeka, and wore it for the first time that day. My collection of “California” items is definitely growing!

Friday, May 30th 2014

As our own version of therapy and healing, we decided to buy a bunch of plants to put in our front yard. That poor sunflower didn’t make it much longer after being planted, though. My green thumb needs some work!

100 Happy Days ♥ Days 21 through 30

Well, well, well! I have some catching up to do! With our lack of internet since we moved (see my update here), I’m a little behind on posting my 100 Happy Days here on my blog! If you follow me on Instagram, though, you’ll see I stayed up to date and sacrificed the data usage on my cell phone.

In case you are new to my blog, I have been taking part in the 100 Happy Days Challenge and I have been posting my daily happy onto my Instagram account @CameraKristen. I chose to do this challenge because January was a tough time for me, my husband and I lost our first pregnancy after having tried for almost two years. I was devastated and found it hard to be happy. They say that with time the wounds will heal, but it doesn’t hurt to try a little extra to find HAPPY in each and everyday.

100 Happy Days, Days 1 – 10 & 11 – 20

Monday, April 21st 2014

The packing went into SERIOUS mode that day. When my makeup goes into bags instead of strewn about a counter space, it means it’s almost time to either move or go on vacation!

Tuesday, April 22nd 2014

That day was a little bit harder to find my happy. Everything of ours that could be taken apart or down from the walls had been (except for the clock, of course) and everything that was not going to be eaten was packed! Our neighbors started to party around 2 in the afternoon: beers, yelling, and their new favorite game of stump (also known as nails or hammerslaugen). In that situation, I tried to zone them out however I could. My favorite photo editing app Afterlight added this new frame, and I used it to express me imagining I was in my happy place: California!

Wednesday, April 23rd 2014

That day we did a bit of wondering around downtown and at the end of it, my husband got me this cute little bouquet of flowers!

Thursday, April 24th 2014

After a day of final checks of everything being packed, everything ready to be moved, and everything in between – happiness was putting my feet up and watching Bob’s Burgers with the husband.

Friday, April 25th 2014

We got the keys to our new house! It’s kind of weird when you move into military housing – they show you the place after it’s been reserved for you – and you can either say you want it and take it that day, or say you do not AND back on the waitlist you go! Luckily – WE love it!

Saturday, April 26th 2014

MOVING DAY was absolutely hectic. My happiness was this photo that was sent to me by my mom, showing that no matter what home we have, our real home is always beautiful California.

Sunday, April 27th 2014

We unboxed everything, tried to put away what we could, tried to organize the furniture to the best of our abilities, AND we tried to recover from the previous day. Bottle of beer: well deserved!

Monday, April 28th 2014

I had put away the major things on Saturday, and Sunday was the day to put together the rest of the puzzle pieces. CHAOTIC indeed!

Tuesday, April 29th 2014

It was a rainy and gloomy day and was actually cooler – very much appreciated on my part! We started to venture around post (which even though we’ve lived in Kansas for a year, we hardly know our way around the actual post area) and it was really nice to just be driving around without a load of items in the car with us!

Wednesday, April 30th 2014

We said goodbye to our first Kansas home! It was cute, but very outdated. A lot of hard times were had in that house, but some very good visits with people we love happened there too!

If you would like to see my daily posts as it goes along, follow me @CameraKristen on Instagram! If you are taking part in the challenge or are thinking about it, let me know! Let’s be happy together! ♥