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Monday, April 10, 2017

Long Time, No Blog...and That's OK!

Well, my mantra for 2017 is this:
I have been doing so many things that my future self will thank me for that I haven't been as focused on this blog. Tonight, I shall update those of you who take the time to read these posts. The past few months have been exciting!

#1. I have been honing my skills as a writer. Sure, this may seem like a contradiction because of my lack of blog posts lately, but I promise you I have been writing. 

Articles I have penned have been published in the River Hills Traveler,, and most recently by MSTA in School and Community magazine. 

I love writing about a variety of topics ranging from a state park I enjoy to the need for media literacy. It's been such a blessing to be published and read by so many people lately. I am still not sure why people think what I have to say is of value, but they do and I am humbled by it! 
#2. Another moment where I just "did something" that I know my future self will thank me for revolves around Spring Break 2017! 

For the first time since I started teaching, the school I teach in scheduled a full Spring Break. I took advantage of it by suggesting to my mom that we take Karlene on her first flight. 
After looking at our flyer miles, we decided to fly to Arizona and spend a week seeing as much as possible. 
When my friend Terri asked me how it went, one word came to mind: harmonious. We all got along well. There were very few issues we encountered while traveling in Arizona. Things were smooth, peaceful, and fun. 

#3. Last, but not least, I have been physically getting off my a$$ a lot more already in 2017 than I did last year. 

There have been many walks and hikes at places like Shaw Nature Reserve, Robertsville State Park, and LaBarque Creek! They have all been beautiful and some have been challenging. Overall, I am happy to be out walking more in the outdoors.

On that note, Happy 100th Birthday to the Missouri State Parks system! Oh, how I love you so! I spent the day trying out the new Lost Hill Trail at Robertsville State Park in honor of the occassion. 

So, as I wrap this up, I do hope in some ways you are inspired to take a little bit of my 2017 mantra and apply it in your own life. Perhaps you can find those things that you can do NOW that will make your future self very happy!

Until next time,
M of MK Designs

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Out and About and Livin' the Insta-Dream

As you can see, I jumped on the Instagram train with my photography. It's been interesting. I've gotten fun feedback (and some spammers) and inspiration. 
FUN FACT: KOA (the amazing Kamping experience) liked one of my photos on Instagram so much they used it (with my permission) on their feed! 
Instagram has "opened my eyes" to what is trending in photography...and in life! Apparently living with less, flannel and coffee-filled mornings, hiking, van life, and car camping are all in style. Who knew? 
I think some of what I see is a very glossy view of it, but I have found a few free-spirited true souls to follow and I enjoy how they are living life. It's certainly expanded my view. 

As far as the whole "getting off my a$$ in 2017" and getting outside more, it's a work in progress. Things like weather, work, and a nasty stomach bug that had me down for ages REALLY cut into the exploring on two feet goal. 
Today was a gem at least... weather, work, and health were on my side. It was a fun Saturday of hauling off aluminum, running other errands, doing school work, and picking up a TON of sticks and limbs! When it's so nice outside in February you can have a fire pit with marshmallows to celebrate a job well done, that's a special day indeed.
Once the chores were done, it was a great opportunity to use that "walking pass" I purchased for Shaw Nature Reserve. We got in a little over an hour and luckily made it back to the car right before they closed the gates for the evening. 

Here's where today's walk took us:
We tried to explore areas we hadn't walked on our two previous hikes. Since we were pressed for time, I feel like we didn't stop to look around enough. Despite being rushed, I did click a few pictures (of course). 

I hope you had a great day, too. And, as always, thank you for stopping by. Your support of what I do is greatly appreciated!

~ M of MK Designs Photography

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lately... Ice, Kindness, Encouragement, Instagram, and more!

If you are new the party, welcome. :-)

Lately, it's been a bit difficult to get off my a$$ and walk/photograph more. Mother nature isn't very cooperative. On the days I am at the "day job" - she likes to toss me 60+ degree weather. The days I do not work are comprised of ice that could break my back. 
Yes, 1-13-17 is quite a time. Ice storm, Friday the 13th, and a full moon. I can't say I blame Soulard Art Gallery (and banks, schools, businesses, etc.) for closing. Tonight's opening of the "Driven to Abstraction II" show I am in has been postponed until next Friday. 
So today, I forced myself to get off my a$$ by working towards bettering my "photographic world." 

I got a wild hair in 2017 and decided it was time to try Instagram again for MK Designs. So, today I read tutorials to add an instagram widget to my website mkdesignsphoto and to this blog you are reading. Wasn't easy, but I figured it out. 
Then, I designed a simple ad for my MK Designs facebook page that will also go in a local high school newspaper. I was gifted free advertising by a fellow photographer who had already purchased for the whole year, but is deciding to scale back a bit. I am blessed that through our friendship she thought of me when she made this decision. 
I don't understand the need to be in "competition" with fellow artists and photographers to the point of petty backstabbing or undercutting each other. Friendly competition is a good thing, but taking it too far burns bridges. I am thankful that the bridge between she and I is a strong one. 

On that note, I am excited that not only I made the "Driven to Abstraction II" show in Soulard, but another local photographer did, too. She even gave me a shout out on social media for it! 
I am a firm believer in kindness and encouragement. When I saw some of the work she posted, I felt it was perfect for a show. I didn't hesitate to let her know. THIS is how we should all treat each other, don't you think?

I have to admit that there's other things I could do today (1-13-17) to get off my a$$, but after adding more content to my website, starting this blog post, and many other things... my couch and a book are screaming my name. 

More to come later... 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017: The Year I Get Off My A$$ & Do More!

2017 is here and unlike previous years, I feel like my goal for the year is fairly simple. Since 2016 was a bit of a wreck for me (I had some health problems), I didn't get off my ass nearly enough. 

Pardon the bluntness here, but it's true. 

I didn't get off my ass to walk, hike, camp, take photos, be social, and so much more. So, the not-so-politically correct goal for 2017 is to get off my ass
What better way to be held accountable for this goal than the blog you are now reading? Blogging about my yearly goals has worked up to this point, so why not now?! 

Here's what I have done so far to remedy the situation: 

On 12-13-16 I drove to Shaw Nature Reserve with my daughter. I purchased a family walking pass that is good for a year. 

Then, we ended 2016 by walking at Shaw for a couple of hours. 

On 1-1-17, we did it again, but hit different trails and took my mom along for the adventure. 

Granted, I can not go to Shaw every day, but I can go when weather and time allow. 

I am not limiting myself to Shaw, either. I know there are MANY other areas to explore on my feet and with my camera in 2017. However, now that I have spent money for the pass to Shaw, you can bet I am going to do all I can to make sure I come out ahead on that investment! 

There was a quote in the bathroom at Shaw Nature Reserve that really hit home with me. I feel it totally stresses the importance of the goal I have set for 2017. 

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Everyday, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”  -Kierkegaard

I hope you enjoy these images from 12-31-16 and 1-1-17 at Shaw Nature Reserve! 

Until next time,
~ M of MK Designs 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A 2016 Grade Card: How did I do?

In 2016 I set out on a mission to follow this statement: "I want to be a woman who overcomes obstacles by tackling them in faith instead of tiptoeing around them in fear."
I declared that at least once a month, if not more, I would face the following obstacles with faith and not fear. 

So, how did I do? Here's my official grade card.

Cooking. B
I could have done better, but this was a HUGE improvement! Cheers to that! (PS This image is from a great little summer trip with my friend Jen!) 
Watching. B+
My Netflix finally paid for itself in 2016. I found new shows, movies, etc. to check out. I even decided to figure out what I could watch on Hulu and guess what? I found things on Hulu to enjoy! 

Oh, and I actually recommend the Tina Fey movie "Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot." It is NOT a comedy in my opinion (like advertised originally), but that's ok. I just watched it over Christmas Break and loved it. 
Reading. A+
I read more books in 2016 than I have read in the past 6 (or more) years combined. It was a pleasure to rediscover my love for reading. Forcing myself to slow down and enjoy a book has helped me on many levels. I am currently reading a novel by the title of "The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend." My aunt Sarah suggested and loaned it to me. I am normally a non-fiction reader, but this one is interesting. 
Finishing. B-
My health had me "drained" for over half of 2016, so this didn't live up to my "hopes." However, I did finish a mosaic that was juried into an art show (gave myself a little extra credit on that to push my score to a B-). Also, in November and December I got my "omph!" back and finally tackled my laundry room and lower level bathroom that I had been meaning to update all year. Painting, redoing cabinets, new lights, etc. It's been an adventure! Goodbye yellowish brown and hello "moose antler." (Who comes up with some of these paint names?)

Uplifting. C+
Again, because over half of 2016 I was feeling pretty low due to some health issues, I didn't get to reach out to as many people as I had planned. I had the bar set high and I feel I could have done way better. However, when I did reach out to uplift others, I gave it my all. And, I learned that sometimes it's ok to admit you are the one in need of the "uplifting" because you aren't 100%. Below is a photo of one of those moments when I apparently needed some uplift in my life, so my student took charge of the situation. 
Expanding. A-
I have learned about all kinds of new things! I have been able to accomplish more because of the fact I have focused on expanding my knowledge and skill set about a variety of topics. It's ok to be a student at any age! 

Speaking of learning, look at that photo of the fireworks. I finally figured it out and I didn't have to contact my buddy Tyann for help over the summer! 

2017 is what's my next move? 
I have an idea of what all I hope to accomplish in 2017. Some are based upon what I missed out on in 2016 because of being laid up on a couch so much. I'll share that "plan" in time, but for now I do want to thank those of you who enjoy my photography, my ramblings, etc. It means a lot to me. Sometimes I am not sure why I keep up this little blog, but then someone comments on the blog (or to my face) about something I have shared... then I realize that this does matter to some folks out there! 

I am going to leave you with a moment in which I smiled a LOT in 2016. Look at all those sand dollars I found while my daughter danced in the waves!
Have a great New Year!
~ M of MK Designs 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

October Update: "There is something in October sets the gypsy blood astir." ~William Bliss

My "mantra" for 2016 is this: 

"I want to become a woman who overcomes obstacles by tackling them in faith instead of tiptoeing around them in fear."

Since May, I have had many moments of "fear." 

I have fears about my health, my career, finances, and more. However, at the end of the day, I am trying my hardest to meet them with faith and the belief that they will only strengthen me; not leave me defeated or broken. 
When I originally decided to focus on facing obstacles in faith, I didn't even think of adding health, finances, or my aging cats to that list. 

Yet, I am still sticking with the original list and plugging right along... 

Cooking. I have been cooking a lot more in 2016 and using my grill more often. I can grill a skirt steak that is out of this world and Karlene says I am mastering "oven-fried taters." Yes, we say "taters" in this house! I have also gotten better at preparing scallops and other foods that I typically only trust a "professional" to cook!
Watching. My latest veg out on the couch guilty pleasure is "Lakefront Bargain Hunt." I am impressed by not only the beauty of the homes, but by the fact they are more expensive than the one I live in. These are on the "bargain" list?!

A movie that I watched a few weeks ago that moved me deeply is "Unconditional." You can find it on Netflix. It is based on a true story and has a powerful message. Check it out! 
Reading. I cannot get over how many books I have read so far this year! If you visit this LINK, you'll learn more about some of them, as well as my mission to read more in 2016. 

Below are photos of all the books I have checked out since I have last updated this blog. 

NOTE: Two of them, Libby & Dying Out Loud, were highly recommended by my Grandma. 9 out of 10 times when she recommends a book, I end up loving it!

Finishing. Karlene and I figured that it was time to get back to work on our stepping stone project and we tackled that with beautiful results. We were able to add three more stepping stones to our outdoor collection. 
I also finally finished the mosaic I started YEARS ago. It's all Soulard Mardi Gras beads. It's only fitting that the final product was juried into a show at Soulard Art Gallery this past month! Below, you can see details of it in the lower right hand area of the photo collage. It's 16X20 and available for sale. Contact me if you are interested. 
Uplifting. I have received a lot of positive feedback about the Journalism Summit that I was able to help bring to Franklin County. Learn more HERE. I felt incredibly blessed to be a blessing to others that day. 

On another note, I love the bracelet I wore that day. My friend Jen is a KEEP designer and I love their jewelry with an uplifting message! 
Karlene and I also just finished our two Operation Christmas Child boxes. Additionally, we are both excited that our Compassion International Child, Beatrice, has been sending us letters! It's amazing to learn more about her life and how God is working in her life. 

Expanding. I have to admit that in this area, I am drowning in learning about women's health issues and how to deal with insurance companies. I am going to leave it at that. It wasn't on my list of new things to learn about, but "it is what it is" indeed! 

Last but not least, I want to brag about my child. 

She recently won First Place (again) in the annual Fire Safety Week poster contest in Washington, Missouri. 

Her poster goes on to the state contest this spring. 

If you can...  I want to toss this out there as a challenge for you today and every day.

Until next time,  
M of MK Designs 
October 2016