Ready to Run.

I’ve never actually considered myself to be a “long distance runner.” Ever since middle school track, I’ve been more concerned with speed rather than endurance. I typically comepted in events such as the 200, 400 or the 4×400 relay. I still remember the day during my freshman year of high school when Coach K bribed me (with a Dairy Queen blizzard) to run the 4×800. He said, “If you run it this ONE TIME, I’ll never make you run it again. And I’ll get you a Blizzard after the meet.” I reluctantly said yes. Turns out that I was pretty good at that two lap little race and I then ran it in EVERY SINGLE TRACK MEET FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON. Ugh. I was so mad. And I never got my blizzard! The 800 was the extent of my “long distance” running days in high school sports. Sure, I could bust out a mile when I needed to, but my focus was on quick, short races. Races that always required spiked shoes, not cushioned New Balances.

Well, obviously once I got to college I wasn’t going to sprint around the track for a good workout. Come on, now.  I had to shift gears a little bit so I started running around campus every once in awhile. I also took a lot of classes at the Rec and was a slave to the elliptical. The treadmill? No way, jose. I had a BAD encounter with the treadmill at a young age and steered very clear. But, I eventually faced my fears about 5 or 6 years ago when my parents got a treadmill in our basement. And ever since then, we’ve been BEST FRIENDS.

Hopping on a treadmill for a 3-4 mile run is a breeze! I set the incline at 0.5 to avoid shin splints, crank up the speed to about 7.4 and start running. Now, I always try to clock a 5k around 24-25 minutes because I know I can do it. That’s my problem though. I get tired after 3 miles on the treadmill because I’m running pretty quickly. Running outside is a totally different story. Wind, hills, rough terrain are all factors that make runnning in the outdoors more difficult than on a treadmill in a climate controlled gym.

But don’t get me wrong. I really love running outside. It’s the perfect time to relax and unwind and just run. I typically don’t run quite as fast, nor do I think about how fast I’m going because I’m not able to gauge my speed myself. (That’s not entirely true, I have the iPod shoe sensor thing that tells you exactly how fast you’re going, but that’s neither here nor there.) Anyway, here’s the deal. I want to run a half marathon. But the most I’ve ever run so far is 7 miles. EEK!

I am bound and determined to conquer this beast. I KNOW I can do it. I just need to buck up and do it, dangit! For the last couple of years I have looked at several half marathons and have gotten super hyped up about the thought of running one. But then I decide that it’s not worth it and I’m doing just fine running 3 or 4 miles at a time. Well, I need to set challenges for myself and this is one of them! Also, I know that I cannot train for this race soley on a treadmill, so that means I need to find some cold weather running gear and hit the pavement this winter.

Here are some of my cold weather running essentials:

winter running

So here’s the scoop ladies. I’m going to run the Prairie Fire Half Marathon in Wichita on May 5th, 2013. Cindo de Mayo. Perfect time to do it! And, since it’s nearly 6 months away, I have plenty of time to train. I think I’m going to use the Hal Higdon half marathon guide. And don’t worry. I’m not going to be one of those people who posts on Facebook after ever single damn run bragging about what they’ve just accomplished. However, I might do it every now and then on here. : ) Hehe so be warned. The name of the blog is “The Little Victories” for a reason! Also, if anybody wants to join me in this half marathon traning endeavor, please tell me!!! The more the merrier.

Advertisements

Get Cozy.

My senior year of high school I enrolled in an elective class called “Needleworks and Handicrafts” or something along those lines because I needed a few more elective credits. It was between that and choir and Lord knows I can’t carry a tune to save my life, so needleworks it is! We made different types of needle-esque projects like cross stitch (never finished mine), crochet (I was really good at making pot holders) and….knitting. Since I had mastered the art of the crochet hook, I thought surely I can handle a couple of knitting needles. Boy was I wrong. I don’t think I ever even stitched a full row. I tried with all my might, but senioritis had the best of me and I just couldn’t commit to making it work. I must have just sat there and chatted with all my classmates while they knitted and I held two empty knitting needles.  (Somehow I still got an A in the class?).

Fast forward 7 years and I still have some interest in knitting. I don’t want to be defeated, dangit! I can learn how to knit. I can do it. So i’m going to. Tomorrow I’m going to march down to the local Hob Lob and buy myself some knitting needles, yarn and maybe a “knitting for dummies” book. Because I would like to proudly wear a knitted snood around my neck and when people ask, “where did you get that lovely snood,” I can say without hesitation, “I MADE IT.”

Here are a few cozy, cold-weather items I would like to be able to make someday:

Image

Image

Image
And if I become a master knitter, maybe i’ll knit a blanket or sweater or something really great.

I’m back.

It’s been months since I have written a new post for this little blog of mine and I feel like I have some explaining to do. You see, the reason I started this blog in the first place is because I had some free time at my first job and wrote a post a day in effort to make the clock tick a little bit faster througout the day. (Or at least get that sort of feeling). Creating a post each day also let me explore my creative side a bit more, which was fun and exciting. I looked forward to writing a new post everyday, even if I didn’t think anyone was reading it. It was kind of a “happy place” for me.

Well, in March I got a new job in Kansas City and sort of discarded the ole blog. It felt like my blog was a part of my life in Manhattan and moving forward to a new city, new job, new adventures meant leaving my blog in the past. So I basically haven’t written a single post since I moved here 7 months ago. I still look at other people’s blogs on the regular and look forward to it. So why did I abandon my own? I guess that only sort of makes sense.

I’ve gone through a lot in the last half of a year and I think that having this blog would have actually made things a bit easier. So now that I am without a job…I have a lot of free time again. Yep that’s right, the job I moved to Kansas City for is no longer mine. Due to financial difficulties and the struggles of a small business, I got laid off two weeks ago. The job search continues. But here it is full circle: lots of free time,  blog writing ensues. 

I’m not making any promises for super engaging posts or sources for inspiration, but I will say that for all you lovely people out there who read this blog– (Haley? Jess?), you’ll have something to read throughout the week : )

So here I am, back again. Thanks for joining. 

Image

Look At That Booty

I am totally loving the ankle boot trend that is happening right now. What’s so great about ankle booties is that they can be worn during practically all of the seasons thus making them very versatile. Wear them with rolled up skinny jeans, girly dresses or with tights and skirts! Celebs like Rachel Bilson and Rosie Huntington Whitley have been rockin’ them for awhile now and I can’t wait to get my hands, er feet, on a pair for Fall. I especially like these Madewell knock offs from Target. Target always seems to have the best knock offs, right?

black ankle boots
Madewell Zipcode Boot in suede (black sold out)

Vacation Plans

It’s that time of year again when I am itching for a trip to a far away place.  Since my friend Tana lives in North Carolina, I am traveling there the first week of May to visit her and explore the coast.  Tana lives in Raleigh, NC so we will start our vacation there and move onward to Charleston, South Carolina while I am visiting.

I guess I always imagined Raleigh as a charming southern city, but apparently it is much bigger than I had thought!  Above is a glance of Raleigh’s skyline at night.

Tana is a graduate student at North Carolina State so I really hope we have a chance to walk around campus a little bit.  Go Wolfpack! : )

I have a slight fascination with dinosaurs and “beasts from the past” so I would love to visit the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science during my stay! I’m sure Tana will have a lot of other sites to show me in Raleigh–I can’t wait.  Exploring a new city is always an adventure.

Speaking of adventures, we plan to drive to Charleston, South Carolina the second day of my trip, which just so happens to be Cinco de Mayo AND the Kentucky Derby. Margaritas, big hats (not sombreros) and the beach are all in order. The drive from Raleigh to Charleston is around 4.5 hours, so I don’t think it will be too bad. Plus, there will be a lot to look at on the way there!

Rainbow Row in Charleston, North Carolina.  I wish all houses were this pretty.

One of our quests is to find “The Speakeasy” in Charleston.  It’s a bar that has no address, so you have to know someone to find it!! Apparently it’s an authentic speakeasy-type bar and I am very excited and hopeful that we are able to find it.

One of the longest running plantations in Charleston is the Boone Hall plantation.  It also happens to be one of the most photographed plantations. I can see why!

Before we leave South Carolina, we are stopping at the Isle of Palms for a day at the beach! I can’t wait to soak up some sun and enjoy the warm weather and salt water. Now it’s time to get that “beach body” that I can never quite attain…

 

Springtime Swag

I’m not sure what it is about the arrival of Spring, but it always makes me want to overhaul my closet and revamp my wardrobe. Perhaps it is something about all the new floral dresses and open toed sandals that is alluring.  I wish I could get my hands on every item that I see online, but my bank account would immediately be empty if that were the case. I’m going to refrain from doing a huge Spring shopping spree, but I did allow myself to buy a couple of things for the upcoming season.

New Stuff
1. Polka Dot Dress  When I saw this dress I knew it had to be mine.  I almost bought a dress similar to this online earlier in the year, only it was peach. I kicked myself when it became unavailable while still in my “shopping cart”.  I can’t wait to wear this when the weather starts to heat up! I’m always a sucker for polka dots and turquoise.
2. Chevron Lamp Shade I found this at Target for $13! I think it will be a fun addition to my living room decor.
3.  Like Crazy DVD I can’t wait to pop this in the DVD player this weekend.  It will be the perfect way to unwind after what I know will be a stressful weekend of apartment searching…
4. Nude Patent Wedges These are ladylike and comfy–a great combination in a shoe.  I’m eager to pair these with springy floral dresses and cropped pants. Plus, they were a steal at only $19.99! I got them in black, too.

The Blonde Bombshell

“Goodbye Norma Jean
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled”

The opening lines of Elton John’s hit song Candle in the Wind  fueled my curiosity towards learning more about the woman he sang about, as I was unsure of the significance behind this song.  I remember my parents explaining to me that he wrote this ballad in remembrance of Marilyn Monroe after her death and that her birth name was actually Norma Jean. At this time I didn’t know much about movie stars and stage names, but found it peculiar that anyone would could just change their name to something else.  Just as easy as it was for Norma Jeane Baker to change her name to Marilyn Monroe; her acting career nearly blossomed over night, pegging her as one of the most well-known movie stars ever to live.

I haven’t seen many of Marilyn’s movies, as I would not necessarily call myself an  “avid fan.” (I am more of an Audrey Hepburn follower.) However, I have seen Some Like It Hot and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and can see why Marilyn became the sensation she was.  Even though Marilyn only filmed 30 movies in her lifetime, she will always be remembered for her roles in these films and even won a Golden Globe for her performance in Some Like It Hot . Her bodacious curves, bleach blonde hair, sultry voice all wrapped up together with an air of innocence were all qualities that make her the sex symbol of her era and still today.  I give credit for Marilyn for being an icon of her time, but ever since I learned about her affair with President Kennedy, she always left a sour taste in my mouth. How could she do that to such a classy lady like Jackie?! Scandalous. All that said, I am still intrigued and entertained about the stories surrounding her life and career as a movie star.

This year will commemorate the 50 year anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death on August 5th 1962, and her legacy still lives on. In the past year alone, both a television show and movie have been created in honor of this buxom blonde.  I recently started watching NBC’s “Smash” which is produced by Steven Spielberg and includes a great cast such as Debra Messing, Christian Boyle and Katharine McPhee.  I instantly got hooked about 20 minutes into watching the first episode.

The show’s plot features a team of writers creating a Broadway show called “Marilyn,” based on her life with songs referencing pivotal points in her career.  All odds are against Katherine McPhee’s character, Karen, an aspiring actress, as she auditions for the part of Marilyn against Ivy, who is the spitting image of a modern day Marilyn. Cast members put a spin on songs about Marilyn’s life such as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” which is about Marilyn and Joe Dimaggio and a song called “Let Me Be Your Star,” which embodies Marilyn’s transformation from a no-name brunette to a starlet.  Of course this show is not all song and dance–it shows the trials and tribulations all of the characters face as they try to make it big in Broadway.  Smash is definitely worth checking out!

Watch a clip from “Smash” by clicking the link below.

http://www.nbc.com/assets/video/widget/widget.html?vid=1383532

Not only was a television show loosely crafted around Marilyn’s life, but in 2011 a movie was created to showcase this starlet in “My Week With Marilyn.”  Michelle Williams portrayal of Marilyn Monroe earned herself an Academy Award for Best Female Actress at this year’s Oscars. I haven’t had the chance to see the film yet, but ever since I saw the trailer I have wanted to.  It’s obvious that Michelle Williams poured her heart and soul into “becoming Marilyn” for this role and that alone shows it is sure to be a good film.  Just from watching a short clip and the theatrical trailer, viewers can see that Williams captured the essence of Marilyn nearly perfectly.  I am anxious to watch this movie once it hits shelves on March 13th.

The Civil Wars “Barton Hallow”

The Civil Wars have been on my radar ever since I heard one of their songs on “The Vampire Diaries” about a year ago.  I don’t usually listen to anything that resembles country music because it just leaves a bad taste in my mouth or ears in this case, but recently I’ve really been drawn to bands with a more folk sound such as The Civil Wars.  Their music has a very down to earth, “raw” sound to it that I really enjoy. Although this duo has wonderful chemistry while performing, they actually are not romantically involved at all and are both married! Their entire album, “Barton Hallow,’ is a great listen, so I definitely recommend checking it out!  Other bands I have been listening to a lot lately: Angus and Julia Stone, Fleet Foxes and Of  Monsters and Men. Any suggestions??

Love for the Little Apple

As a child, the idea of sitting in a car for hours on end with my backpack full of snacks, reading material and my Discman playing Celine Dion on repeat was exciting to say the least. If you prompted me with the same notion now, I might not be as enthused.  However, looking back on all of the many road trips my family took together whether it be the grueling 14 hour drive to North Dakota or the countless vacations to Colorado in the summers, I always created some terrific memories. There is something so special about hopping in a car and driving to a new city to discover what it has to offer.  Sure, our family would always do the “touristy” thing and hit up all of the main attractions, but it was even more thrilling to uncover hidden gems like a hole in the wall burger joint, a cave tucked into the trees of a forest or an abandoned ghost town in the middle of nowhere.

Although it wasn’t a far away destination like Chicago or Minnesota (my family went there, too), traveling to my parents’ old stomping grounds of Manhattan, KS as a child was somehow just as exciting.  My Mom and Dad met at Kansas State University in 1972 and the Little Apple has had a place in their hearts and mine, ever since.  Growing up, I can recall countless occasions of my family of six loading into our mini van for road trips to the same place I now call home.

I grew up in a house full of Wildcats and ever since we were little all of us kids knew that we would end up at K-State for college, since going to KU was not even an option in our household.  When we visited Manhattan I always envisioned myself as a “cool college student” walking around campus decked out in K-State gear and living in the dorms. Flash forward ten years later and I made that same dream a reality. I spent four years at K-State earning my degree and making fantastic friends and memories along the way.  I am so thankful for such a great college career and often find myself yearning to go back–for the sheer fact that I sincerely enjoy learning and miss being around a sea of people my same age.

I now have a totally different perspective of this college town since graduating nearly two years ago.  Instead of being in the hub of campus life and focusing on my academics (and fun) as a college student, I am now a “young professional” and have to be more creative about finding extra curricular activities.  I used to question my parents’ desire to move to Manhattan after retirement, thinking there “wouldn’t be anything to do” for the older crowd aside from K-State sports. (Side note:  my mom is obsessed with K-State football and basketball). However, now I realize that the city of Manhattan has so much to offer for families, retired couples and young people alike.  The Little Apple is truly a wonderful place to live for all ages and offers many of its own “little hidden gems” for people to discover. Although I don’t see myself living here for that much longer, (let’s face it–I’m more of a city girl), I’ve enjoyed my time here the past six years and will always cherish the memories I have made while being a resident of Manhattan.

Love for the Little Apple

1. Unique Restaurants

When it comes to food I pretty much like anything and everything. However, three restaurants (in no particular order) are at the top of my list for places to hit up when eating out. The first is The Chef, which is a breakfast cafe in downtown Manhattan.  It was around when my parents went to school here, but just recently reopened.  The Chef has THE BEST biscuits and gravy I have ever had in my life and other delicious breakfast items like the McGyver–a menu item that lets you “build your own pancakes.”  If you are looking for a great place to have brunch, I highly recommend the Chef–but be prepared to wait in line for awhile! Coco Bolos is a Mexican restaurant on the outside of Aggieville with “Spicy Music and Loud Food.”  My favorite dishes are the Tijuana Trainwreck  and the Baja Chicken and Shrimp Wrap.  Added bonus: $5 carafes of sangria on Wednesdays!  Coco Bolos is a fun place to go if you want Mexican food with a twist.  Finally, my third favorite restaurant is So Long Saloon–home of the “Nancy” which is a beer mixed with pineapple juice. In my opinion, So Long Saloon has the best burgers and fries in Manhattan. I always take my friends from out of town to this joint whenever they come to visit for the first time. Another unique menu item they have is the “Black Bean Raspberry Chipotle Dip,” which is to die for.  The best part of all three of these eateries is their unique and welcoming atmosphere which makes the dining experience that much more enjoyable.

2. Castles

Manhattan, Kansas might not be the first geographical region that comes to mind when you hear the word “castles,” but there are actually several of these majestic buildings right in our little town. Pictured above is Nichols Hall on K-State’s campus, which celebrated its 100th birthday last year.  It was originally the home of K-State Athletics before Ahearn Fieldhouse was built, and had a gymnasium and two swimming pools in the basement. Subsequently, when collegiate athletics were moved to Ahearn, the music department moved into Nichols and stored their instruments and sheet music in the building.  When a fire broke out in 1968, the entire building went up in flames destroying all of the instruments and sheet music inside.  Coincidentally, the band director had the sheet music for “Wabash Cannonball” in his briefcase, making it the only song the band could perform.  Now the Wabash Cannonball is perhaps one of the most recognized fight songs played at all K-State games. Nichols is near and dear to my heart because it houses the department of Communication Studies, which was my undergrad major.  Sitting inside a castle for classes makes learning even more fun!

K-State’s main library on Campus, “Hale Library,” houses a magical room called the “Great Room” which is often referred to as the “Harry Potter Room” by students.  Yes, it is indeed reminiscent of the dining hall in Hogwarts, which makes it a pleasant environment to study for finals.

Aside from buildings on K-State’s campus, Manhattan also has a residential home that was erected to look like a castle both on its exterior and interior.  “Kimble Castle” was built in 1894 and is composed of thick limestone walls and even has several turrets.  A rod iron fence encloses the yard around the castle and is tucked off the street of Poyntz Ave.  On the inside of the house, the owners decorated it to look just like a real castle including a suit of armor with a sword, stained glass windows, and original oak floors and fire places.  To see more photos and a virtual tour of this enchanting building, check out this website.

3. Other Attractions

Manhattan has one of the prettiest natural resources in the state of Kansas: The Konza Prairie, which is used for research for prairie ecosystems.  Its vast rolling prairies, tall oak trees and views of limestone walls embedded into the walls of this hills makes this landmark truly breathtaking.  It has several hiking trails and if you’re lucky, you might spot some cute wildlife creatures! It’s a great spot set off the beaten path to just go relax and take in the beautiful nature the Flint Hills have to offer.

St. Patrick’s Day has become quite the attraction in our little college town over the last decade. Because the actual holiday of St. Patrick’s day usually falls during the University’s Spring Break, the students have created their own holiday called “Fake Patty’s Day,” which takes place the weekend before the 17th.  This event covers all of Aggieville and people participating in what is essentially an all day booze fest start as early as 7:00 in the morning.  Area bars open their doors to a sea of people decked out in green and serve green beer throughout the entire day.  It can get a little bit crazy, so steer clear of Aggieville if this isn’t your scene.  If you would still enjoy celebrating this Irish holiday, the city of Manhattan puts on a family friendly event during the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day in Aggieville with a green eggs and ham breakfast, at 2 mile fun/run and 10k race and even a parade!!

Located in the nearby town of Wamego, KS the Oz Museum is a destination any Kansan or Wizard of Oz shouldn’t miss!  I grew up as an avid Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland fan and the film is one of my all time favorites. It is perhaps one of the most well-known and beloved films to date and I am proud to be associated with it as a native Kansan : )  Unfortunately, this is where my tale gets a bit twisted…  I shamefully admit that I have never actually been to the Oz Museum.  I have been inside the main doors to hang up a flyer for a work event, but have not seen the artifacts and memorabilia inside the museum. I hear that the museum boasts an arsenal of original pieces from Frank L. Baum’s book turned movie, including a fabric swatch from Dorothy Gale’s dress worn by Judy Garland, an original set of lines and scenes and 1 of 4 remaining rubber flying monkeys used for filming.  I would absolutely love to go to the Oz Museum and honestly do not have a reasonable excuse as to why I haven’t been before.

Although I didn’t capture nearly half of the unique attractions and traits about Manhattan such as the Wiener Dog Races, Johnny Kaw and the fact that K-State Alum and Modern Family star, loves his Alma Mater, the above reasons help solidify the fact that “Manhappiness” is a unique and wonderful place to live. If you ever find yourself in the Flint Hills region or are looking to take a little road trip, consider visiting Manhattan. Who knows, you could stumble upon your own hidden gem in the Little Apple!

Currently Craving

Spring Cravings

Spring Cravings by shannonpaiges featuring chunky necklaces

 

With beautiful weather like we had yesterday–nearly 70 degrees, I can’t help but have Spring fashion on my mind. Unfortunately, I’ll be donning my boots and coats for a few weeks longer, but it’s always nice to “virtual shop” for spring clothes to wear later.  I already bought the red dress from Forever 21 last night and am hopeful that it will fit! Nine times out of ten, clothing from Forever 21 is either way too short or way too cheaply made, so fingers crossed!

Other items I would really love adding to my closet?? –the pink J.Crew blouse, yellow polka dotted undies from Madewell and the Sam Edelman leopard print sandals. Wishful thinking : )