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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dallas: Dreams Come True!

I am a total nerd for Dallas.
Not the football team.
Not the city per say.
More like... the TV SHOW!
TV now isn't what it used to be. I grew up in the age of two to three stations that came in, four if it stormed.  The big networks had our full attention.  Friday night was a BIG tv night because that meant Dallas was on. 

I wanted to be a redhead (aka "ginger" these days) like Victoria Principal. I wanted a ranch. I wanted access to a helicopter pad. I wanted a never-ending tree-lined paved driveway. I wanted to throw someone into the pool. Let's be honest, I wanted to live at Southfork. 

So, as I approach the 42nd year of my life, a buddy of mine kept mentioning I should come see him and his new abode in Texas. As that started to come to fruition, I tossed it out there - I have to go to Southfork. It's only about 30 minutes from his house, so why not?

In October on a Saturday afternoon, my dream came true and I got to spend several hours losing my mind at Southfork Ranch outside of Dallas, Texas. Travis was such a trooper. He's about 10 years younger than me, and not a fan of the show, but he really seemed to appreciate the ranch and my pure joy. 

People talk about "bucket lists" all the time. I used to think it was a great idea, but now I don't. I think we just have to constantly take advantage of opportunities to make our dreams a reality. 

Even if that dream is as simple as walking around a ranch that a popular tv show was filmed at; do it! Don't wait. Make things happen and keep chasing after those great moments. It's so worth it. 

If you like any of these images (even the one of Travis! ha!), feel free to contact me to order a print. 

Until next time, 
~ M of MK Designs Photography
Fall 2015 

PS New link to my website! is up! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

What Shows Up On Your Screen?

After a full 3 hours of geocaching, backroad adventure seeking, and trail walking, I was more than ready for rest Sunday night. Yet, to be honest, those 3 hours were a great "rest" from the jam-packed life I seem to lead these days. 
Once bedtime arrived, I asked my kiddo to lead prayers. She thanked God for the beautiful sunset we saw after our walk in the woods at Robertsville State Park. THAT made me feel good, like maybe I am doing something right.

Throughout this past weekend my daughter has told me how kids in her class say they feel sorry for her because of her apparent lack of electronics. Apparently her handheld DS & the iPad my mom allows her to use just aren't enough in today's world. 
For the record, I am ok with her not fitting in today's tech-crazed society. As a ten-year-old, I think she needs less screen time and more time with good books (that don't glow), her pets, nature, educational tv shows, family, travel, charitable work, art projects, etc. There is so much to fill a life with that an X-box can't even begin to hold.

All the studies I read state kids (and adults!) need more time in the woods, at a park, near nature, and time unplugged from the "glow" of a screen. 
Yes, my kiddo and I use technology to guide us on geocaching adventures and to document our escapades, but I would like to think we use it to enhance our lives; not escape them. When I notice we've strayed away from reality, I make an effort to unplug and get out. 
As we left the park Sunday night, my daughter joked that she bet some of her classmates didn't get to see the sunset because it wasn't on the screen in front of them. She says a camera or a windshield often has better views than screens do, but this is still the same kid who is jealous she has classmates who already have Facebook at age 10 and I am NOT letting that happen. 
I feel for her. I actually do. However, I would like to hope this is the right path for her. 

What are your thoughts on screen time and electronics for kids (and adults)? Am I just being old-fashioned, or is there something to the whole "unplug and get outside" movement?
Thanks for reading, and as always - I appreciate you stopping by! 
~ M of MK Designs 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Responsibility and Priority SHIFT!

As we age, responsibilities shift and priorities change.
My daughter's weekend art project for school! 

For example, it's October. Even up to a few years ago I was plotting out all my weekends around "Oktoberfest" - which I still love - it's just not a huge priority now.
October means playing in the leaves at my "day job."
We are learning how fast shutter speeds capture movement in images. 
Right now my October is full of things like helping my daughter with school work, and coming up with some fun fall activities for us. Apple picking, sunset watching, seeking the best Halloween costume, and her education are all important. 
Sunset watching with my girl!
October is also when I work at home football games to help offset the expenses of home ownership, my daughter's needs, etc.
HOCO Spirit Week - Jersey Day - at my "day job" :-)
Walking in New Haven the first weekend of October with my daughter. 
I also plan to fit in a very quick weekend visit with my buddy Travis in Dallas, TX...oh, and of course a few portrait sessions. I do love to photograph in October. The color here in Missouri is often stunning. 

Add all that up, and toss in my full time "day job" demands, Oktoberfest is taking a back burner. If it happens, great! If not, I won't be crushed. 
Hitting up Soulard Market with my kiddo! 
Speaking of priority and responsibility shifts, I've now obtained a third cat. I didn't want a third cat, trust me. However, a housesitting gig for a friend who moved to Texas turned into an adventure with Murphy kitty. 
Two is company, three is a crowd! I thought two was plenty...but...
Murphy is an interesting fellow who somehow landed on North Bend Road just outside Union. Apparently a lot of cats end up out that way. This guy, though, is super friendly and seems to like snuggles and a warm place inside. 

I tried (with no luck) to find this boy a home for nearly a month. I even talked to various vets, and the Humane Society. I finally let him adopt me.

I never had much company use my spare bedroom, so after a two-day vet visit...this became Murphy's room at our house. 
We are slowly opening doors and letting him explore. The other cats are the issue. Zoey is angry. Patches is all over him wanting his friendship, which makes Murphy angry. Emotions run high! I can also tell that Murphy is wondering why he can't go outside anymore. I am praying he gets over it and accepts a life as a spoiled inside feline. 
I didn't want three cats, but as I said before: responsibilities (and priorities) shift as we age. 
Side-note: I am almost 42. I like myself more than I have in my entire life. This version of Michelle is very content (minus the extra pounds I carry, but that's neither here nor there right now - because I am actually taking steps to make those extra pounds a little less). 
Have your priorities and responsibilities shifted as you've made your way through life? I am willing to bet so... and if not... well, that is something you may wanna look into! :-)

Thanks for reading, M of MK Designs 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Big Trees Indeed in the Bootheel aka "Swampeast" of Missouri...

I have lost track of the number of times I have driven past the sign for Big Oak Tree State Park ( in Southern Missouri. 

Often it's in a hurried rush to get to the beach or a hurried rush to get home from the beach. 

This summer, instead of our usual beach trip, my family headed to Reelfoot Lake, TN for a little fishing and Union City, TN to an awesome Discovery Park ( 
When I realized I could easily head north to Kentucky and take the Dorena-Hickman Ferry across the Mississippi River on the way home and fit in a few hours at Big Oak Tree, I was beyond excited. 

I am always trying to find new experiences for my daughter and I to share. I have to admit the ferry ride kinda pushed my "fear factor" limits, but she loved it. When my feet were on solid ground in Missouri, that's when my appreciation for the ferry finally kicked in. 
It was a little humid (go figure!) for June in Missouri, but Karlene and I really enjoyed the trail we did at Big Oak Tree. It was elevated above a swampy area, so we caught a lot of glimpses of wildlife, plants, and (of course!) HUGE trees. 

My daughter told me several times that she bet those trees could really tell a story. I have to agree. 

They simply tower above you. Beyond their size and age, it's a true moment that makes one realize that we humans are only here but a moment and then gone. I had a similar feeling when exploring the redwoods in Northern California. 

When we were there in June, Big Oak Tree was GREEN and so full of life. I can only imagine the other seasons at this park. It's something I hope to experience soon. Can you imagine these trees covered in ice or fall color? I can! I bet this snake can, too... maybe? 
Overall, taking the "long way home" can be so fun. Sure, the way back from Reelfoot, TN to our home is about 5 1/2 hours. On this June day, we turned it into about DOUBLE that time. A roadtrip, a ferry ride, a beautiful state park, Mexican for a late lunch on the way home...that's a pretty good way to break up a drive and learn more about your country, your place in the world, and much much more! 
I encourage you to take the long way home sometime, and if you can - go see Big Oak Tree State Park. 

Until next time, 
M of MK Designs

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Franklin County Area Photographers: Getting Me OUT and CLICKING!

Sometimes I feel antisocial.

OK, a LOT of the time when I am off the clock I feel antisocial.
I am surrounded by people with my day job, side jobs, and more. Sometimes I feel like I am drowning in a sea of people.

Well, yesterday (Saturday) around 5:45pm I found myself sitting on my deck thinking, "Why did I RSVP 'yes' to this...why?"

However, I am someone that when she says she'll go, she goes. And, I am also someone who remembered she helped select the date of the event, so that would be even WORSE if I didn't show. 

I am thankful I did. 

As my images from the photo walk show, it was a beautiful time to go on a shoot!

The Franklin County Area Photographers group that my buddy Tyann Marcink founded several years ago has helped me in many ways. 
#1. I have expanded my (not-so-anti)social circle and made new friends. I enjoy their company greatly, even if I don't see them face-to-face as much as I'd like. 
#2. It gets me off my deck, couch, bed, etc. and SHOOTING. 
#3. How else would I have been able to test out a fixed lens for free yesterday if it wasn't for this group? (Thank you Mr. Covert!)

#4. In all honesty, this group has gotten me through difficult moments. How? See #2, but also note that when they first started hosting Photo Challenges...well, those lists of topics were a guide for my weeks. I would make it a part of my routine and, at the time, it was a WONDERFUL thing to zone in on instead of filling out disclosure papers, etc. for a divorce. 

#5. Now, all these years later, I am in a much happier place in life, but I still find that FCAP is a beautiful part of who I am. Tyann lets me help her with the group at times (even when I am antisocial), and when I look at the people it has brought into my life that I otherwise wouldn't have met... well, that's a joy to me. See #1. 

#6. This has pushed my photography to new places. I have tried new things. I have looked at the familiar in an unfamiliar way. 
This group reminds me of my photo buddies I had back in the day at CMSU (now UCM). We often would bounce ideas, share our images with each other, talk shop, and do photo walks before they were even called that. 
Whatever your hobby, escape, or passion is: make sure it's a healthy one that benefits and grows you as a person. Also, find your "people" - a group like FCAP is a prime example of how much we can benefit from the pack and not always being the lone wolf. (Yes, I made a reference to the classic laugh out loud comedy: The Hangover. Why? Because it's my blog and I can.)
You can find Franklin County Area Photographers on Facebook. Follow our page and pop in from time-to-time to see what we are up to. We have; photo walks, events, giveaways, SUPPORT, and more! 

Until next time, 
~ M of MK Designs Photography

PS Thanks for stopping by!