The long road to California

Back in November my husband and I drove from North East Kansas all the way to central California. It took us 25 hours straight. A very long 25 hours.

There was a lot of excitement and anxiousness attached to our trip MAINLY because only about three people knew we were on our way to California. Our intentions were to just show up on Thanksgiving to our family’s dinners and take them by surprise.

We started driving sometime after midnight and made it all the way to Denver, Colorado, just as the sun was starting to come up. The one and only time we hit snow was in Wyoming. It was all over the mountains in Utah though.


Luckily, there was no snow on the freeways!


The Salt Lake flats ♥

We took turns driving and for the most part, it was a pretty easy trip. We got to Nevada right after the sun had set. We got to Reno, Nevada, when I learned a very humorous (now, but not at the time) lesson. I wanted to pick out healthy snacks for us on our drive, so when I ate almost an entire bag of dried fruit to myself, I gave myself a pat on the back. Turns out though, dried fruit have a WHOLE LOT of fiber in them. Snack wisely, my friends! Especially if you have at least another four hours of your road trip left.


BUT we made it!

We “hid out” at my very gracious friend, Heather’s house for a few days. When Thanksgiving morning rolled around, we drove up the hill to Steven’s grandparents house. There’s a gate at their property and Steven’s mom heard it, came running at us full force in excitement. When we headed to my Aunt Linda’s house for my family’s dinner, we made it before my parents did. We stayed in a back room while they came in for a few minutes but jumped into the crowd of my cousins who were greeting them. My mom looked right at me but it took a few moments to register who I was, and my dad did the same thing to Steven. If you’re reading this Brittany, you were the first one to figure out our surprise! ♥

I think being home for Thanksgiving made us holiday confused. It was like Christmas had already happened for us.

I tagged along with my cousin Brittany to Sacramento State University, where I graduated from, and she’s currently attending. I went to all my favorite spots on campus, even got to sit in on one of Brittany’s classes, and had a wonderful visit with one of my very favorite professors, Professor Gieger. Turns out he had been visiting Manhattan, Kansas, just the last summer!

Sacramento was GORGEOUS (like always). Fall is my absolute favorite season because it’s in the 60s (but ask any Californian and that is their “Freezing”) and everything is so colorful!


We played tourist in our own hometown.


& No trip home is complete without a trip to the city.


the most fun tourist traps, collection of souvenirs, and delicious food!


We will return for our hearts some day.

Our trip home was the fastest two weeks of my life. We did not get to see everyone we hoped to see and we did not get to do everything we wanted to, but we did eat a lot of good food! My scale will tell you I ate at least 7 pounds worth (oops! BUT totally worth it). I did not take nearly enough photos, either. I was definitely too busy enjoying everything to pull out my camera, but I’m kind of disappointed that I did not snap more photos of the faces I miss so very much!

We learned our lesson with taking a 25 hour drive and knew we wanted to do something different for the drive back to Kansas. We also wanted to avoid all the bad weather, so we took the Southern route, which is a bit longer. We drove straight through to Albuquerque, and couldn’t help but be complete Breaking Bad fans.


Walter White had decorated for Christmas!


Tuco’s hideout is actually Java Joes, and they make delicious coffee!


& We stopped at The Candy Lady, the store that provided all the prop meth for Breaking Bad.


The Southern route just isn’t as pretty as the Northern.

Hopefully our next trip home will not be so far off as this last one had been. We had been away for 20 months, and that was just too long!

Until next time! ♥

Antiquing in Abilene

It’s official! Steven and I have caught the antiquing bug. Steven is always on the hunt for a good coin and I’m looking for cameras and photos. There’s a lot of fun and nostalgic things to be found in the in between of antique stores. We went to five different antique stores, and I must say, they were all a bit overpriced. We did find a few goodies to take home with us, and I thought I would share some items that I couldn’t help but snap a few photos of!

Steven said, “People who own antique stores are really just hoarders that are okay with selling some of their stuff,” as we tried to make our way through a tight fit in parts of a one store.

I love that there’s a window over the kitchen sink. If you look close enough you can see that it shows a man walking through a gate and a child running to greet him.

I would have loved to have made this beautiful camera mine! It’s a Kodak Retinette 1A Schneider Kreuznach that was made in Germany. They wanted $90 for it! Although it’s pretty, it’s not worth that much!

I like the antiques that surprise you with a laughing fit.

I’ve seen this Smokey the Bear doll in several antique stores. It’s always on the pricier side and never with a hat! He is really cute though, and a good reminder that “only you can prevent forest fires!”

I feel like I should know who this invisible man with a removable face is, but I don’t! Do you know who this guy is?

Three states in between us and home, but it is always finding us here.

The drive to and from Abilene was much quicker than we originally thought! We’re going to have to venture West more often!

I actually ended up with a total of four cameras, but the one not pictured is for a friend!

& of course a few more photos to add to my collection!

Discovering Kansas City, pt. 2

Over the past weekend, Steven and I ventured our way back into Kansas City. This time around was a bit different, we were there for a marriage retreat with Steven’s company, but we did get some time to ourselves as well!

We got to Kansas City a few hours earlier than we were able to check into the hotel. The Kansas City (actually, it’s in Mariam to be exact) IKEA had just opened up on the 10th, and since we haven’t been to IKEA since moving to Kansas, we just had to go!

This IKEA is set up a bit differently than the one I am used to back home (in Sacramento, California). This entire IKEA is above part of the parking garage, there’s a separate parking garage alongside it as well. I don’t know if it was because of the parking set up or what, but the place seemed larger and well, more confusing! Since it was so new, and it was a Friday, the place was packed! Steven and I do not do well with crowds, so we passed up the showrooms and only wandered around the shopping area. We only grabbed a few things – BUT we will return one day soon! Or… when the “newness” has worn off a little bit.

We fought through traffic to get to our hotel, which was across the street from the Kansas City stadiums WHERE everyone was headed. (Now I only insert this story mainly for my father if he reads this:) Walking up to the hotel by the entrance I see a woman wearing a “Posey” jersey. I couldn’t help myself and asked her if the Giants were in town (which is weird to me now, because I do not think the San Francisco Giants play the Royals – pretty sure they are different leagues BUT sometimes weird things do and can happen?!). She went to tell me no, but her husband cut in to say that she was confused (probably because the Detroit whoevers are also orange and black) – but I told him “No, she is right” because GO GIANTS! Laughter ensued.

Anyway, the rest of the night was taken up by the marriage retreat activities and hanging out at the hotel restaurant.

This is what 8 am us looks like on a Saturday. Confused on why we’re not still in our pajamas!

I’ll blame the beginning the day that lead to my What I Meant to Say… post on this #FMSphotoaday challenge prompt: Beginning. We started our day of with too many cups of coffee.

We were at the marriage retreat seminar/activities until noon. We ate lunch at the hotel and then ventured into the water park part of the hotel (CoCo Keys) until around four, all while Kansas City was fighting off a thunderstorm.

I did not take my phone or camera with me to the water park for obvious reasons. We did have a lot of fun though! I think this would be a fun place if you had smaller children especially. The lazy river was short and to the point (and extremely shallow for this long legged lady) but there were adult spas that were outside and indoors! Steven and I even went down the waterslide together at a very high speed in a very pitch black tunnel. Steven says I screamed a lot.

Saturday night’s marriage retreat session was Date Night. I had packed us semi-matchy outfits for the occasion. Also, notice the large cow image in the picture above – that’s randomly placed in the hotel.

Our plans fell through a little bit. We had wanted to go to the Country Club Plaza for dinner but due to the Plaza Art Fair and the thousands of people who showed up for it, we could not find any parking! I feel like Google Maps and the Yelp Apps have so many things MISSING from them. We finally gave up and ate dinner at a Red Robin. When we pulled out of the parking lot we saw a restaurant that we would have much rather eaten at, but was nowhere to be found on any app. Sometimes not knowing where you are or what is around you in Kansas City can be really frustrating.

The next day, we were released by 10 AM to check out of the hotel and do whatever we wanted to do in Kansas City. People were already piling in for the Royals’ game that afternoon so we wanted to get out of the area fast.

Said stadium from just outside our hotel’s parking lot.

I had wanted to go to the Kansas City Workhouse last time we were there, we just never got the chance. This time, it was our first stop! I need to go back here with my Canon DSLR because I did not even bother in most spots with my phone. It’s stunning, eerie, and enchanting all at the same time. It was once a jail though (late 1800s to early 1900s), so, there’s that.

Limestone makes me look and feel tiny.

To fill our bellies we went to Pigwich for lunch. As we were driving there I was sure we were in the wrong area, it’s in an area that feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere! It’s alongside several train tracks and a pretty cool looking bar/hangout called Knuckleheads.

The best cheesesteak of life. I will never visit Kansas City again without stopping here. The sandwiches and special made chips are AMAZING!

We were not sure what else to do, and the Country Club Plaza Art Festival was still happening. We walked around, amongst SO many people, so much beautiful and interesting art pieces, heard some good live music, and ate even more good food!

My pictures do not do it justice. This place was pretty awesome.

We were beat! The day got a bit too hot for us to comfortably browse the art along the street so we got in the car and headed back home

Needless to say, Tayte cat was very happy to have us back home (or at least our legs).

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!

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 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! ♥

100 Happy Days ♥ Days 11 through 20

2014 started off with quite the slap in the face. I struggled with being happy and positive because of it. Although with warmer weather now that Spring is amongst us, I wanted to take part in the 100 Happy Days Photo Challenge to remind myself of the good in each and every single day. This is apart of my healing process. (See days 1 through 10 here)

Friday, April 11th 2014

I received my Beauty Box 5 in the mail that day. I’ll be posting my review of everything tomorrow!
(I added the text with the A Beautiful Mess App!)

Saturday, April 12th 2014

Packing, packing, & more packing! This once belonged to my grandma.

Sunday, April 13th 2014

Lazy Sunday! My phone was going off all day with severe storm warnings & watches and so we stayed in our pajamas because of it! Teavana tea, Netflix marathon, and minimal makeup kind of day!

Monday, April 14th 2014

I had earned enough stars through Starbucks Rewards to get a free drink! That may be the only time I ever order a frappuccino THAT big!

Tuesday, April 15th 2014

& That day I got my Ipsy bag in the mail! I did not get the Lollitint sample from Benefit Cosmetics like I had hoped but I did get an Urban Decay eyeliner! I’ll post my review of the bag probably next week!

Wednesday, April 16th 2014

I’m usually the cookie maker of the household, but that day my husband did all the work!

Thursday, April 17th 2014

I received a letter from my baby cousin who is not a baby anymore!

Friday, April 18th 2014

My husband and I went for some retail therapy and my homesickness was showing.

Saturday, April 19th 2014

Since we’re packing, and going through things, I came across some of my contact sheets from a college film photography class. The 19th was that lil guy’s 9th birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Sunday, April 20th 2014

Hope everyone had a wonderful Easter! I started my day with a cup of coffee in one of my favorite mugs! I’m not a big Disney fanatic, but I DO love me some Donald and Daisy!

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! ♥