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! ♥

Found Photos: Boats & Benches

Welcome to the FIRST post of my found photos series! As I said in the introduction here, I collect photos that I find at antique stores or elsewhere to keep them special. As a lover of all things photography, I hate to think that the memory of a moment that was once thought special enough to capture, goes as something insignificant or forgotten. Now that I have quite a few photos in my collection, I thought I would begin to share them on my blog as a way to keep those moments alive, and maybe bring about thought and discussion on maybe who the people are and what they were doing! ♥

The following photos I purchased at Antique Emporium of Alma (in Kansas). There were a bunch of studio photos there from the early 1900s but this collection of candids caught my eye. I believe they depict a group of eight friends (maybe four couples) having what looks like an enjoyable day.

Based on the slightly edwardion fashion of these women, I would presume these were taken sometime between 1903 and 1907.

Although I’m sure the picture taker of this photo was disappointed that it was blurry, I think it give it character. Makes the story behind it a bit more mystical.

Then the picture taker handed the camera over to the other boat containing their other four friends. Even though their hand was a bit more steady, their eye was not as keen!

Do you think this photo was taken after they did their boat rides? They relaxed after rowing and told stories? OR do you think this photo was the first of the five? Maybe while sitting in this field they came up with the idea of taking boats out onto the water.

Sometimes I get lucky, and someone has written names or events, even places, on the back of the photos I “find.” These ones do not have any story or character names written on them, leaving it up to my imagination!

What do you think of this group and their day of adventure?

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).

Found Photos

I do not think it would come as a surprise to anyone that I am a lover of photography and photographs. If you took a look around my home, you would see so many framed photos, albums, and even a few boxes full of family photographs. I like being surrounded by the friendly faces of the people whom I love. Especially now that we live so far from our family, it’s nice to have a reminder of home.

This year I took my passion of printed photographs to a new level and began collecting vintage ones. It may be considered a weird hobby, to collect photographs of people you never knew, and to actually pay money to poses these photos. I have my reasons.

Even some fifteen years ago, before everyone had a digital camera and/or one on their cell phone, there was film. Film which then got transposed as a print. You did not know instantly if the picture turned out, if the flash had gone off just right, or even if somehow your finger had made its’ way in front of the view finder. Every single image was printed out, whether it was good or not.

With film, I think we really waited for those special moments. We didn’t take pictures of our food before eating it. We weren’t able to take a mirror selfie to confirm or deny if we should purchase a particular outfit from whatever department store. We were not able to take photographs as easily and slyly of those people of Wal-mart. Film exposures were saved for the more important times, times you most certainly did not want to forget. Photographs were keepsakes.

I think I wanted to start collecting photographs to preserve the memories that have now been forgotten and lost. Those photographs meant something to someone at one time. They posed for the photograph and paid for it. It was a family get together, a graduation, meeting a celebrity, whatever it may be, those photos were taken for a reason. They were special to the person who took it and/or the person in it.

Not to say that selfies or food pictures aren’t special. They can be too, in their own way.

I started to collect photos to keep these memories special. I may not always know what exactly is happening in the photo, but I like to wonder.

To keep myself as an active blogger and to share my love of these photos, I thought it would be fun to start a series of my vintage photo collection. Every Friday I’m going to share a photo from my collection, or multiple photos if they are in a series or from a particular event!

Keeping the memories alive!

I will also start sharing more of my family photos soon! You can see my old family photo series in their collection here.

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 ♥ 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?