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 : )

Sweetheart Dance

About a month ago, Lori, Kendra and I sat down to talk fundraising for RSVP.  We lost a big chunk of money for this year so we have been scrounging to make some fast cash in whatever way we can.  We came up with the idea to have a Father Daughter Sweetheart Dance because it is something that has never been done (to our knowledge) in Manhattan before.  In about five hours’ time, we pulled together a major sponsor, location, DJ and photographer and I even whipped up a flyer.

Ever since our initial meeting, Kendra and I have been posting flyers, spreading the word about the dance through Twitter and Facebook, selling tickets, finding volunteers to make desserts, brainstorming decoration ideas and being incredibly thrifty at the same time.  We had a tight budget and I can proudly saw that we pulled off a pretty amazing event.

It was priceless to see all of the adorable daughters and their dads or grandpas dancing together at the dance.  I didn’t think it would make me emotional, but it was just so darn sweet to see how happy not only the little girls were, but their dads, too.  Everyone seemed to have a great time at the dance and it was very rewarding to be part of the team that made this event happen.  We had a lot of yummy desserts for the guests to enjoy, a photo booth set up to take silly pictures, great music, (their favorite song was “Party Rock Anthem”– so funny) and prizes to give away!










and last but not least…..


You’re The One That I Want

I really like this cover of the Grease classic “You’re The One That I Want,” performed by Angus & Julia Stone.  When I was in third grade I was ob-sessed with the movie “Grease” and wanted so badly to be just like “edgy Sandy” at the end of the movie.  You know the look: tight black pants, blonde curly hair, off the shoulder top, red heels. I think I know what my Halloween costume this year will be. : ) Even though I totally loved the movie and even performed “Grease Lightning” in the talent show with my sister and friend, most everything in the movie went completely over my head. Looking back, that is probably for the best.

Modern Day Audrey

One of my favorite Audrey Hepburn movies, aside from “Sabrina” of course, is the 1953 film “Roman Holiday.”  This film follows Audrey Hepburn’s character, Ann, who just so happens to be a princess.  When Ann and her royal family arrive in Rome, she is immediately filled with boredom and yearns to see Rome for herself, unaccompanied. Escaping her strict regimen, Ann sneaks out to explore the Eternal City. She hitches a ride in the back of a delivery truck and later falls asleep on a park bench when the after effects of a sedative she took earlier in the night finally set in. Gregory Peck’s character, Joe Bradley, who is an American journalist, finds the sleeping princess and takes her back to his apartment so she can rest peacefully.  (This sounds like a legitimate kidnapping, but I promise Joe’s intentions are harmless : )

The next morning Joe rushes off to cover the Princess Ann press conference, but doesn’t realize she is actually asleep on his couch. The film continues to show the growing relationship between Joe and Ann and how the secrets of their identities unfold as they traipse around Rome. It’s a pretty sweet little love story.

Above you will see my take on the “Modern Day Audrey” in Roman Holiday.  A beautiful minty green top with a bow tie front compliments this caramel, pleated chiffon midi skirt perfectly. (It sounds like I am writing about food, not fashion!) I think this ensemble has  just the right amount of “flowiness” for a ride around Rome on the back of a Vespa, a la Audrey & Joe  in Roman Holiday. Nothing says a vacation in a romantic city like your skirt blowing in the wind, right??  And of course when traveling by foot, a sturdy pair of gladiator sandals are appropriate, such as this braided pair.  In true Audrey fashion, one must wear a stylish scarf, but perhaps instead of tying this pretty paisley one around your neck, try it tied around the handles of your handbag.

P.S in the latest issue of Matchbook Magazine, a feature story about Ryan Gosling reveals that his dream project is to work alongside Natalie Portman in a remake of Roman Holiday. Swoooon. I really, really hope this happens.


I’ve managed to track down several different photo sets that are incredibly cute and festive for the upcoming holiday that some of us love and hate….Valentine’s Day.  I might not have such animosity towards this “day for lovers” if I actually had someone to spend it with but, that’s neither here nor there.  Nevertheless, I heart these photos below!

How fun are all of these Valentine’s Day inspired accessories from I especially like the heart headband and the big poofy flower pin.

These huge heart balloons from Giranomo Balloons are absolutely adorable!! Wouldn’t it be so fun to walk around town holding one of those?! Of course you would have to wear a super chic outfit like the girl above.  Check out this cute video showing more of the balloons!

Geronimo Balloons Valentine’s Day from hak lonh on Vimeo.

These little lovebirds shot a “Cupid” inspired engagement photo shoot via Green Wedding Shoes .  It’s adorable and I’m jealous. There I said it.

xoxo and not bitter at all,


Happy Birthday, Lauren Conrad!

America’s favorite Girl Next Door turns 26 today!! Lauren Conrad has been one of my favorite reality stars turned overnight celebrity since her role on Laguna Beach.  I’m actually currently re-watching all of the episodes of The Hills right now and it is interesting to see how much she has changed over the course of the series.  Since ditching her role on television, Lauren has dipped her hand in many other pots. First of all, LC was a spokesperson for mark makeup for a number of years and helped mark launch the “m.powerment”campaign to fight abuse back in 2008.  She started  her first fashion line, Lauren Conrad Collection, which unfortunately didn’t last long, but then redeemed herself by launching a line for Kohls called LC by Lauren Conrad and also a higher-end line entitled Paper Crown.

Conrad has also written three  novels as part of the “LA Candy” series. And yes, I admit I have all of them and even went to her book signing. Guilty as charged. Alongside her tween fiction writing, Lauren wrote and appeared in a “Style” book which gives readers tips on fashion and makeup.  She is currently working on another book for the L.A. Candy series and a “Beauty” book.  In the last year LC launched a website with her make-up artist and hair stylist called “The Beauty Department” which showcases all different kinds of beauty and hair tips. I’ve caught myself referencing the site on multiple occasions to help master a winged eyeliner look or to get pointers on retro curls. Lastly, she always stays on top of her personal website with fun content including recipes, her favorite pins from and she even started a live-chat book club!

I would go out on a limb and say that any doubt surrounding this starlet’s contribution to followers and her claim to fame can be summed up by the list of accomplishments above. (I’m sure I accidentally forgot a few things, too).  Sure, she started off as a rich teen living in Orange County who then landed a dream internship at Teen Vogue, but I think she has come a long way and earned her spot in the lime light. I think Lauren Conrad is a great role model for young girls and women and I am excited to see what she has up her sleeve for the future!! Happy Birthday, Lauren!

And just for the heck of it, here is a photo of when Tana, Taylor and I went to Kansas City a couple of years ago  to meet Lauren Conrad at her book signing.  I said something really dorky along the lines of, ” Is this your first time in Kansas?? Oh wait, I guess we are in Missouri now…” (coming from a girl who did not grow up in the KC area).  She responded by A. saying she had never been to Missouri or Kansas and B. That it was like a “Winter Wonderland” How precious. P.S. She’s very skinny and taller than I thought and has obvious extensions that she constantly played with, just like on her “Hills” days. : )