Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Photo a Day FAB FOUR

Today completes another month of Photo a Day. If you're not familiar with this daily photo challenge, click on the Photo a Day page here on my blog.

Last year, I wrote a post about every single photo I snapped for the challenge, and then created a monthly summary of all the photos for that month. This year, I decided to not post my photos daily and just include my Instagram feed in the menu on the right. But I still want to share some of my photos with you. Then I thought of the Fab Four.

Each day for the challenge a "fab four" is chosen either by Fat Mum Slim herself or one of her many wonderful helpers on the social media sites (Instagram and Facebook). If you share your photo on one of those sites, yours might get chosen. It's not a contest but just a way to highlight some of the photos that represented the prompt well or just caught their eye. By the way... mine was chosen once, and I was thrilled! Contest or not, it's still pretty cool.

So following that format, I will choose my own personal four favorites each month and post my own FAB FOUR. Here they are for August.

Top Left: Incomplete
Top Right: Macro
Lower Left: Cooking
Lower Right: Culture

Now it's time to gear up for September's list. Fat Mum Slim put out a call for topic suggestions on her blog, and the result was this list created by her followers. Some of them look to be very challenging. I'm pretty excited.

Do you like to take photos? Maybe you should give it a whirl! There are plenty of places to share your photos or not. It's totally up to you. It's super fun and a great way to see the world in a whole new way. 

Happy snapping!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Luke Bryan

Luke Bryan is having the time of his life right now. He sold out venues with his first headlining tour, "Dirt Road Diaries." Every single he's released lately has hit number one on the Country Charts. And now his latest album containing said singles has hit number one. His star is rising and shining brighter than ever. If there is anyone who should follow the "if it's not broke, don't fix it" mentality of making records, it's Luke Bryan. And he's done exactly that on "Crash My Party."

A few of the songs are predictable and heavily laden with country cliches. Especially the track "Shut it Down."  "Ooh, big, blue sky, half-plowed field / Bird on a fender, tractor sittin still" but I still can't get the dang song out of my head! That's what Luke Bryan does. His sound his contagious. I don't care how many times he sings about a Dixie Cup (and it's a lot); I want to be the girl holding that Dixie Cup!

Near the middle are the best tracks. My eye was immediately drawn to the track "Drink a Beer." But the meaning was not what I expected... it's a tribute to a lost friend that is very humble and personal. It'll be a hit if ever released.

The other sure fire hit and my personal favorite is "Play It Again." Country music is all about the story-telling, and this one is probably his best effort to date. This girl he spots at a bonfire continuously interrupts any pick up line he tries to give because her favorite song comes on the radio. It's clever, spontaneous, and yep, a Dixie Cup song.

Overall, the album gives his fans what they want without singing the same song over and over again. It takes you down rural dirt roads with plenty of headlights, dancing and beer. But it's the expressive melodies and arena-ready hooks that will make you want to say... "play it again, play it again, play it again!"

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Letter To My Daughter On Her Birthday

To my beautiful daughter on her 9th birthday,

It's your special day, sugar, and this birthday is extra special. Today you are nine. NINE! You're at the halfway point of your at home years. (Dear Lord, let them go slowly.) It's the last year before you hit the double-digits. And I'm sorry to say, but it's all downhill after that....

Kidding! Just kidding. All joking aside, this birthday is very special. You are now what they call a tween... defined as between a teenager and a child. I say define yourself! Don't let the media tell you how to look, act or feel. Be the best YOU that you can be.

I love that you are not yet embarrassed to kiss your mom good-bye in public or ask for a hug. I love your funny sense of humor that is witty and smart. You are incredibly smart, and I'm not just saying that either. You have good common sense and a nice work ethic. You are also very loving, generous, and thoughtful. You sure do make me proud.

I also love your sense of style! I smile each time I catch you trying on my shoes to see how close you are to sharing them with me (waaaay too close, by the way). You are creative and imaginative with your clothes and hairstyles that are uniquely you. I'm not sure how you learned to braid your hair the way that you do. You sure didn't learn how from me. That must mean you aren't afraid to try and learn new things. That will take you very far in life, my dear.

I know you have a firm grip on what is right and good. But I also know your beliefs will be challenged in the next few years. I hope and pray that you stay true to yourself. You will be confused and frustrated at times, but you have a great moral compass to guide you. And if that gets lost, you know where to find me.

I'm afraid that the next nine years will zoom by as quickly as the first nine, and soon you will be spreading your wings and flying off to your next adventure. I want you to, but I don't want you to just as much.

As you are blowing out your candles this evening and making a wish, I will be making a few wishes for you too. I wish you health and happiness, friends and family who love you and understand you, and the audacity to be yourself.

Happy birthday, Krista. I love you.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Another Year Begins

Today is the first day of school! So we must take a photo...

Out the door first was my son who is in the 7th grade. His bus route starts at 6:50 AM, and classes begin at 7:30 AM. Man, that's early! Good thing he's a morning person. He was up before me. I maaay have still been in my pajamas while taking this photo (ahem).

Next up is my daughter who is in the 3rd grade. Her bus route starts at 7:40 (much better), but I'm able to take her to school every day. Doors open at 8:05 AM, and her school is on my way into work. Perfection!

Can't wait to hear all about their day.

Here's to the start of a great year!!!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rivalry Run 5K 2013

The rivalry between kansas and Missouri has existed since before the Civil War. Even though the landscape has changed with kU and Mizzou in different NCAA conferences, the rivalry has not. I was raised to hate the kansas jayhawks (not a typo, I never capitalize kansas), and I'm raising my kids that way too. It's a competition kind of hate, mind you. So any time there is a mechanism in which I can participate in this competition, I am sooooo there.

August 17th was The Rivalry Run in downtown Kansas City. This was the fourth year for the race and the second year for me. This year I brought my twelve year-old son along as a last minute decision. He's been wanting to try a race, and so I asked him if he wanted to join me this year. He did GREAT! Based on his time, he would have placed third in his age group. I'm definitely registering him for the next one. This was the longest distance he's ever run, so we weren't sure how he would do. He just blew me away... He told me he liked running with a group of people and looks forward to the next one. A runner in the making!

I did fairly well. I must admit that I've been pretty lazy with my running lately, so I knew I would be slow. My goal was to run under 40 minutes, and I did that. I crossed the finish at 39:00. My son was there at the finish line cheering me on. That was the best part.

The next race will be the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on October 12 in Columbia. My daughter would like to run this one. We're going to start training together this week. Soon we'll be a family of runners!

I'm very proud of my kids wanting to participate in these races. Not only is it great exercise, but it's building their self-esteem. It's a great feeling of accomplishment when you cross the finish line.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Brett Eldredge


It's been three years since he released his first single "Raymond" in 2010. Later he released "Don't Ya" which has been played non-stop this summer, so the anticipation for the full album has been building. Wait no longer. His full debut album, Bring You Back, is finally here.

And it was well worth the wait, folks. He's not only an amazing vocalist but an amazing writer as well having helped pen 11 of the 12 songs. They are catchy, up-beat, and down to earth. It's near perfection from beginning to end.

I love the more bluesy and soulful tracks like "On and On" and "Waited Too Long." The latter is a song full of regret that he certainly brings to life. "I could beg, I could cry but it wont change the circumstance / Cause the truth is I should've pulled the trigger when I had the chance."

It's not all heavy stuff though. The first track on the album "Tell Me Where To Park" grabs you from the start. It's a fun up-tempo number that's made for the radio. In fact, any of these tracks could make a run on the radio if given the chance.

The real lyrical stand out track for me is "One Mississippi." Time has stopped still as he counts the seconds after she's gone. "Lipstick on the coffee cup / I know I should wash it up / But maybe I'll just wait here for a little while / I run my fingers around the top / Where your lips were I just stop / Cause I, I can almost see your smile." There is a live version of this song on Spotify that's wonderful.

There aren't very many albums with a "no skipping" seal of approval from me. So go out and buy the whole dang thing, won't ya?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

It's here!

I received my book that I made on in the mail yesterday. I am so very happy with the way it turned out. It is gorgeous if I do say so myself.

I have always been impressed with the quality from, especially since the photos in my book were all taken with my phone camera. Every page is crisp, clear, and the color is brilliant. Prior to now I've always ordered a paperback book. But this time, I ordered a hardback image wrap book for this special project. I am so glad that I did. This will be a wonderful keepsake for years to come. I may order some more for gifts.

Here's a peek inside..

The book is public and available for ordering here. It would make a wonderful gift for the Mizzou fan on your Christmas list.

It is really satisfying and a little humbling to see my photos in print. Thank you for taking the time to look. I appreciate each and every view. Please stay tuned because I'm already working on an idea for the next one.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What Alpha Phi Means To Me

Today's Photo a Day prompt is "this means a lot to me." So naturally, I started thinking about the items in my home that hold a lot of meaning to me. I really think I'm a minimalist. I don't like to keep an abundance of things because I don't like an abundance of clutter in the house. I like to be organized (or at least feel as though I am), so I try to clear things out once in a while. But I'm also very nostalgic. So even though I'm a minimalist, I'll keep it if it has significant value to me.

The stuff I've kept is not minimal.

So choosing ONE THING for my photo a day was difficult. I decided to concentrate on things, not people, and that made it a little easier. Then I narrowed it down to specific "turning point" moments. You know, those moments where you have made a significant decision or a direction you've taken that has really shaped who you are as a person. Choosing to pledge a sorority was one of those decisions for me.

The choice to come to Mizzou was a relatively easy decision. It was close to home, and I received a scholarship that paid for my tuition (see, easy). I was pretty familiar with the city of Columbia and campus. My cousin lived in Columbia, and we would come visit her often. One of my good friends from high school attended Mizzou, and I would come up and visit her as well. Both of these individuals also influenced my decision to pledge a sorority. The problem was they were members of different sororities, and the final decision was between the two.

In the end, I chose the house in which my cousin belonged - Alpha Phi.

When I went off to college, a left my home town of less than 1,000 people to a small city of more than 80,000 (it has grown to over 100,000 today). My first class at Mizzou was bigger than my entire high school. It was both exhilarating and scary at the same time. I knew pledging a sorority would help me meet people and find a place to fit in. But it wasn't all about the social aspects. Being a member also gave me many opportunities to grow as a woman. I learned valuable leadership skills as the Rush (or Recruitment) Chair, the importance of service through our philanthropy, and it provided networking opportunities that I still use today. I learned how an organization works and functions, and the value of sisterhood. My sisters are my lifelong friends.

And that's what being an Alpha Phi means to me. One of the best decisions of my life.

So why are there two pins in the box? One is mine (the one with the charms) and other belonged to my cousin. She passed away six years ago. It means a lot to me to have her pin.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Calling All Beer Lovers

beer day

Oh lovers of beer of the world, we all need another excuse to drink beer, right? Well no not really, but this is a good one. It's the first Friday in August.... It's International Beer Day! A day to raise your frosty pint in a toast to all the brewers and bartenders of the world. A day to show your appreciation while participating in one of the greatest activities of all time... drinking beer!

I have a line up of new beers to try tonight to celebrate. I bought a mix-six and had a couple for IPA Day last night: Stone IPA by Stone Brewing and Titan IPA by Great Divide - both awesome. Did you celebrate last night? So many cool beer days in a row! I'm really thankful that this particular celebration day is on a Friday. I guess that makes Saturday International Hangover day? Maybe.... remember to drink your water.

Here's what I have on deck for tonight...

Blue Moon Agave Nectar Ale by Coors Brewing Company
Fire Rock Pale Ale by Kona Brewing Company
West Coast IPA by Green Flash Brewing Co.
Torpedo Extra IPA by Sierra Nevada

Need a celebratory playlist? I've got you covered. 45 tracks of my favorite beer drinking tunes.

So here's to you Mr. Brewer of Craft Beer Extraordinaire (remember the Real Men of Genius ads?). I raise my pint of ale in a toast. You are the beast of the yeast and the top of the hops. In the pursuit of hoppiness... you so totally rock.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Newest Blurb Book

I am sooooo excited to share this news! I've written about before (fantastic site, by the way), but this news is extra special. More on that in a minute....

Photography has always been an interest of mine. I remember putting together photo albums and scrapbooks when I was younger. I enjoyed documenting my time in high school and especially college. I have one book for each year and look at them often. Soon scrapbooking was all the rage. I have a scrapbook of my wedding, our vacations, and several of my kids, of course. One each year. And then life became really busy after my daughter was born. I think I stopped when she turned 2 (poor second children). Then Facebook came along, and now I hardly ever print a photo. I can share whatever I want with my friends and family online. And most of them are online now. So that makes it really easy to stay in touch.

But my interest in photography really increased after starting the Photo a Day challenge. And through that challenge I was introduced to the world of online scrapbooking. The best of both worlds! makes it soooo easy. It's fun, simple to use, and I can have the books printed at a reasonable price to give as gifts. I have uploaded photos directly from Instagram, Facebook, and my computer to make my books, and the quality has always been outstanding.

Now for the extra special news... As you may recall, I took a little break from Photo a Day in July. And I missed it actually. I'm really happy to be posting again in August. But during my month off, I had extra time to work on other photography projects. I have been busy putting together a book of my Mizzou campus photos. They were always some of my most popular photos, always received terrific feedback, so I couldn't think of a better subject for my newest Blurb book.... A Seasonal View of My University.

I would love to hear your comments about the book. And if you really like it, please order a copy for yourself on

I'll be back posting Photo a Day photos in August. I've really missed it and look forward to sharing my photos with you again. Be sure to follow me on Instagram: clmarksonlife. I will be posting only the monthly summaries here on the blog so follow me, won't you?



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