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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Magnolia State of Mind...Part One

I had to get away. 
- The fall semester was long and challenging this school year.
- My windowless classroom and endless run of days without seeing the sun was making me insane.
- Too many days I'd step outside and my face hurt from the sting of the cold Missouri air. 
- Simply put, I was coming undone!

So, I did what any logical gal would do and looked at when I had a chance to get in "Betty" and drive south. What route could I do in a day and get to warmer weather? Where could I change my latitude and attitude as Jimmy sings? 

B I N G O - Answer found! 
Google Map is dangerously fun! 
Mississippi is what the doctor ordered. If anything could cure my funk and tame my wanderlust, the Magnolia State sure could... and guess what? It did! 

I found a great deal (amazing winter rates!) on a home in Gulfport, MS and my mom was on board with the plan for a little weekend trip away. We left Missouri the Friday morning after Christmas and was in Gulfport, MS that evening. 
Vacation Home front room
My bedroom (mom had her own). Since it was just me, I took the lower bunk! ha!
On the beach night one. Windy and in the 60s! 
Saturday, it was rainy (warm!). After sleeping in a bit and enjoying the house, we hit Hwy 90 along the Gulf and headed east. We went as far as Ocean Springs, MS. Found great Mexican food and Gulf Islands National Seashore. I have been to the visitor area near Destin, FL... but not to this one in the Davis Bayou area of MS yet. It was beautiful.
I was a bit annoyed that I didn't see any gators except artist renditions when we'd walk around the area. However, one may think that's a good thing and not an annoyance!

P.S. Beyond Davis Bayou... I'd like to add that Ocean Springs, MS overall was beautiful. Charming. Artistic. A place I'd love to see again. 

Elizabeth Veglia created a series of these BEAUTIFUL pieces in the park.
In honor of the city... and its rebirth after Hurricane Katrina.
Now, how about Biloxi? Lots of casinos... a very cool visitor center, lighthouse, and pier. I am sure there's "charm" to be found there, but for the most part, seemed a bit "neon" to me. I need to revisit and go off the beaten path more to find that charm. 
One place that did surprise me with "charm" that we toured in Biloxi on Saturday was Beauvoir. 

This is the last home of Jefferson Davis and his presidential library and gardens and confederate cemetery and home to some former circus animals. I know that is a lot of ands. There was a lot going on here. 
How many of you have seen a camel in the fog at dusk in the middle of a confederate cemetery? I have. My mom has, too. So did the couple on our tour. Sadly, I wasn't able to click a picture that has said camel in it. I do have to wonder about it all. I think a fence to keep the critter off the cemetery is in order. 

After that leg of the adventure we found Po'Boys at the Harbor View Cafe in Long Beach, MS. I got shrimp and mom got catfish. They gave me so much shrimp, I felt some envious glances from across the table. Don't let it be said only children do not share because this time I gave mom a few. 

The long day out was rewarding. As I snuggled in at the house to work on school work (gotta love work laptops!) and other items, I was pretty amped about what Sunday had in store... and THAT will be shared in another blog entry. :-)

Until next time,
Michelle... the M of MK Designs.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Push Yourself to Take the Photographs No One Else Can (or will) Take

As you guys know, this MK Designs photo gig is not my "meat and 'taters" in my "meal of life." I would call it more of my "dessert." 

Teaching is my main pursuit, but the art of Photography is interwoven into my career. The thing that captured my heart at a young age is something I now try to get other kids jazzed about!
First, it was teaching Photography via Photojournalism (Yearbook). Then, a few years ago, I hopped out of Photojournalism (note: I still teach Broadcast) and into the Photography courses at my high school. 

They are housed in the Art Department and I can say that move has not only enriched my life, but it has made me feel more whole. 
There's not a day I am not working on, with, or for the art of Photography. Yes, it is for my students and their advancement, but I get so much joy from the experience when I have students who grow and step up to the challenges Photography presents us.  

I  face the task of teaching kids how to see and view the world creatively. That's hard.
We don't use Photoshop. We pretty much learn how to use the camera, maybe a touch of iPhoto, and/or some free online editors... but the key is to do as much as possible in camera and not rely on processing. (note: If they want to learn Photoshop, we have tech classes for that program. I am not anti Photoshop, I am PRO learning your camera and training your eye!)

Often to end the semester for Photo II, as a part of their final exam, I have students use objects I provide to quickly (and creatively) photograph and maybe lightly edit them on iPhoto or another basic platform. 

This time around...APPLES! 

I can't thank my neighbor across the hall, Juli of Olive and Ash Studio, enough for her apple donation!
I was impressed by the range of images I saw. Housed in this blog entry are my faves from the experiment.

I feel an assignment like this teaches us all to practice this lesson left to us by William Allard: “You’ve got to push yourself harder. You’ve got to start looking for pictures nobody else could take. You’ve got to take the tools you have and probe deeper."

None of these images are mine, they are my students' images and they gave me permission to post them here - please do not copy or use without permission. 

If you'd like to see a similar blog post with an assignment like the "apple" challenge... here's the link:

Thank you for stopping by. This could very well be my last blog post for 2014... or not? Maybe I'll find the time to get one last one in for the year before it is 2015. Since more of you guys are reading, I just might have to! 

Until next time,
M of MK Designs

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Be Still... and Know... During this Christmas Season

Another crazy-busy week. 

If you follow my photography page on Facebook, you know that I'm in the middle of a 30 Day Photo Challenge. It's one of those things that I give myself as an assignment to push myself to be a little more creative. However,  today I stopped. I had to take the day off. This is what I posted instead of a picture. 

Sometimes we get so busy that we forget to take a break. We forget to be still. On Friday I got a great gift from a coworker that I respect (her blog: It was handmade by one of my former students (her blog: I took about 15 minutes off from grading final exams and enjoyed doing a little light painting photo project with it. And it has one of my favorite Bible verses on it: be still.
One of the devotional entries I read this week reminded me to be still, also. I decided to share it here, too.
There's nothing wrong with being busy this time of year. Holiday concerts. Beautiful Christmas decorations. Being able to get gifts from people that you haven't seen in a long time. Or the chance to realize that somebody that sees you every day thanks of you enough to give you a present, also. Those are all great things. So is cooking and shopping and gift wrapping and... (Insert more here!)

But as beautiful as those holiday things can be, they can also be overwhelming. Especially in my case, when I just endured final exams week and the end of almost all of my classes I teach. I have had so much to do at work, and with the holiday go-go-go time, that today I just needed to be still. 

...from what I can tell, all of the messages He has sent recently have told me that I should! So, today I didn't leave the house, I didn't fight off shoppers for some last-minute gift, and I didn't participate in the photo challenge. That's okay. I was able to drink some coffee and burn a few DVDs for work and really get caught up on laundry. I've also watched movies with my daughter. Oh, and most of the day I stayed in my pajamas. There is no shame in that. 

So the next time you feel that you need to be still, do it...without apology :) 

Look at paint samples, take some cheesy online personality quiz, and maybe have a chocolate while sipping something decadent. It's more than ok. Don't let society or the world tell you it's not. 

future basement paint color to hide that green the former owner did
cheesy online personality quiz! lol 
Until next time, 
Michelle with MK Designs. 
PS I am leaving you with one of my favorite images I have created lately. All in camera. Just gotta know how to use it! (NO PHOTOSHOP!)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Purrfect Sunday: Glassberg Family Conservation Area

Today I woke up and I checked the weather app on my phone and realized (as Patches was snoozing on my chest) this could be a Purrfect Sunday! (especially since no alarm clock screamed at me to wake up too early, ha!)

Based on things that I have seen via Camping Missouri via the facebook page and blog ( I just knew needed to do Young Conservation Area. My heart was set on it. 

I also knew that to avoid the situation at LaBarque Creek Conservation Area, I needed to leave early enough to not end up on a night hike. (Remember this blog entry?

I also decided to go out on a limb and invite someone along, a nice man that I finally met for dinner on Saturday night who actually lives on the way to Young CA. 

He asked when I'd have a window open to go out again, and I thought to myself, "If he can tromp around the woods with me, why not? Today is the day!" 

Breakfast, mapping, plotting, and breaking it to Patches she had to move...
Picked up my hiking partner on the way, and we got to Young CA... only to see the trail isn't clearly marked and this "bridge" on the map was something we couldn't find.  I want to try to go to again another time, but this trip it just wasn't working out. 
We did notice the brown sign just a hop down the road for Glassberg Conservation Area, so we tried this spot. 

The trail was very well marked and I could tell a lot of work has been done in the area. 

We met a couple near the start that said the trail now looped and the scenic overlook was worth it. So, we did it. Huffing and puffing and stopping at times, we made the full loop. 

For sure this was one of those "worth it" experiences. Just beautiful views, a lake that holds potential for a fishing trip, and more. 

The trip was great. 
- Took advantage of spring-like weather after weeks of grey & cold skies.
- Got to know someone a lot better than just sitting at a noisy restaurant. 
- Discovered a beautiful place close to home I hope to revisit again and again.
- Once again was amazed by how beautiful our state is. 
- Happy to meet so many people out in the woods today. Loved petting a pooch who was celebrating his second birthday.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Get Outside. Fresh air clears the lungs and the mind. It's good for the soul. So happy today was a Purrfect Sunday. 

Now, a few more things to do and then I think I have to pet Patches a lot before bedtime. She seems to have missed me. 

For more information about this special spot, go here:

Thanks for reading.
Until next time, 
Michelle of MK Designs
December 2014

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Seeing the Light at Robertsville State Park

A camera is a just a little device that records light. Simple. True. Light. It's all about the light.

Add how much I love my camera, finding the light, and Robertsville State Park. Take the sum of all three parts and then multiply it by the joy found in a near 70 degree day the Saturday after Thanksgiving. 

The solution to the equation is this: a 3 mile walk with my daughter (who wanted to stay on the pavement) with my camera in tow... eyes peeled for the light... at Robertsville State Park.

”Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”
– George Eastman

“In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.”
- Aaron Rose
 “What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.” – John Berger

“Wherever there is light, one can photograph.” – Alfred Stieglitz

 “A picture must possess a real power to generate light and for a long time now I’ve been conscious of expressing myself through light or rather in light.” – Henri Matisse

“The artist vocation is to send light into the human heart.” – Robert Schumann
Thank you for taking a 3 mile walk around Robertsville State Park with me today. If you want to see the park in person, it's just off Hwy O in Robertsville, Mo. Check it out online:

MK Designs Photography / Fine Art and Portrait. 2014. 
If you want to learn more about my images, or order any... feel free to contact me via my website and/or my facebook page.