Monday, December 22, 2014

The Obligatory End of Year Summary

It's that time of year when we look back, tie up loose ends, and reflect on the year gone by.  Social media and the countless number of apps available allow us to do this with incredible ease. I'm a nostalgic person anyway, so I really eat this stuff up.

Here's my end of year summary from 2014 made with Flipagram.

Hope you had some wonderful moments and made great memories this year. 

See you in 2015.

Monday, September 1, 2014

August Photoaday Summary


I mentioned on here that I started another month of photoaday. Throughout August, I shared my photos on Instagram. In case you weren't able to follow me there, here's a little video I put together of my photos:

That was fun! Hope everyone had a great summer!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Twas The Night Before Kickoff 2014

A couple of years ago, I wrote this poem to commemorate Mizzou's inaugural season in the SEC. I made a little update for 2014.

Twas the night before kickoff and in every house
not a fan was sleeping, just ask their spouse.

The coolers were packed full of bratwurst and beer.
It's almost September and football is here.

We're choosing our outfits, our black and our gold,
I swear this excitement will never get old.

The buses will stop, the team will unload.
They'll be fired up, ready to explode.

On Sasser! On Murphy! On Ray and Mauk!
On Golden! On Boehm! We're ready to rock!

The cannon will fire, the band starts to play,
the stands will be full, it's finally game day!

Every True Son exclaims all through The Zou
Fight Tigers, Fight for ol' Mizzou! 

Friday, August 29, 2014

College Colors Day!

It's the most wonderful time of the year! It's the day before the first football game. Campus is full of excited students. Everyone is wearing black and gold for College Colors Day. Mizzou is full of team spirit, and I love it! Football season is finally HERE!

To celebrate, I'm in black and gold from my head to my toes. Literally!

And my office mates and I entered a door decorating contest sponsored by the MU Staff Advisory Council. I had college flashbacks of pomping floats. I think it turned out great! Now if we can just preserve it for the rest of the year. And hopefully we'll win the prize! Voting will start on Monday on Facebook!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Burn It Down Tour

This Saturday my sister and I had the pleasure of seeing Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean on their Burn It Down tour. We saw them at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in St. Louis, MO. The place was packed. Every seat around us was filled and the lawn was completely covered. Amazing crowd.

"It gets wild, yeah, but that's the way we get down."

And it was HOT! Not only were the artists hot, but the weather was a stifling 95 degrees (felt like over 100). Super hot! Thank goodness a very nice radio station was handing out paper fans. They became my new best friends.

The heat was well worth it though. The boys from FGL played all my favorite songs... Cruise, Shine On, Round Here, Stay, Dirt.... and even debuted one from their next album. It's due out in October! They even had a few shots of Fireball Whiskey at the most opportune time ("...and that fireball whiskey whispers, temptation in my ear...").  It was definitely a feeling alright Saturday Night!

"Get your Shine On!"

Jason Aldean opened up with Hicktown (the song that made him famous) and rocked out for a near 80 minutes. He sang Amarillo Sky, Big Green Tractor, The Truth, When She Says Baby, Night Train, and many more of his many hits. He saved my favorite, She's Country, for the encore. The only cheesy moment was when the fake Kelly Clarkson sang... they projected her image on the big screen during Don't You Wanna Stay. The coolest moment was when he brought FGL back out for The Only Way I Know.  They should definitely record a song together.

"It sure left its mark on us, we sure left our mark on it."

This was the third time I've seen Jason Aldean and each show has been fantastic. He's a great entertainer. Go see him if you have the chance. I hope he'll be back in Nashville at the CMA Fest in June!

"That's the way she was born and raised... she ain't afraid to stay - country!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Rivalry Run 2014

It's that time of year again! The fifth annual Rivalry Run was held in downtown Kansas City on August 16. Missouri and Kansas has had a long rivalry that has existed since the Civil War. I will always love to hate Kansas. So whenever there is a chance to beat up on them, I'm there.

For this run, each registration earns a point for your state. The top three finishers in each age group earns points. The overall finishers will earn points. And fundraising dollars for the Domestic Violence Protection Services Agency earns points as well. The first two years, Missouri was the winner. The last two years, Kansas has taken the cup. Will Missouri win it back and break the tie?

Even though Missouri had more participants, there sure was a lot of blue.
This year I also registered my son. It would be his first competition 5K. He ran last year without a bib and did very well, so this year he ran as a participant. And he did awesome! Look at that time!

He was disappointed with coming in 4th in his age group. So close to a medal! But that only fueled his desire to try harder next time. We're considering doing the Komen Race for the Cure in Columbia on October 4th. Plenty of time to train between now and then. 

And I'm happy to report that Missouri WON the cup. We smoked them 556 - 487. 

Until next time! Mizzou-RAH!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Pet Peeves - do you have any?

Today's photo of the day prompt is "pet peeve."  My first thought was I don't have just one... I have whole kennels of irritation! But I did narrow it down to my top four which led to this blog post.

Here's how to really push my buttons...

Top Left - see that toilet paper roll? It's WRONG! No matter where I am, I will turn that thing around. I'm an over the top gal when it comes to toilet paper. And the lid? Please, for the love of Pete, close it.

Top Right - be QUIET when you are supposed to be QUIET. There is nothing more rude than a cell phone going off in the middle of a presentation or whispering during a lecture. Same goes for movie goers. I can't stand the people who ask questions throughout the movie. There will be plenty of time for discussion AFTER the movie. Be courteous. Be quiet.

Bottom Left - use your turn signal! Nothing gets me more irritated than an inconsiderate driver. And, here in the USA, please pass on the left and drive on the right.

Bottom Right - I think this goes without saying. Three distinct words with three different meanings. Please learn them and use them correctly. 

Okay, that's enough negativity for one post. 

On a positive note, the photo a day project is going well.  Follow me on Instagram!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

I'm baaa-aaack!

Look familiar? Yep. I'm doing a photo project again! I thought I'd give it a go for August. 

Are you laughing yet? I am... I just can't seem to stay away... It's been a couple of months since stopping my own photo project and nearly a year since I've done FMS Photo a Day. The break was nice (really nice), and just what I needed. Life is pretty calm this month, and I may just be a tad bored. That means it's time to focus on something creative.

I'll post a summary at the end of the month. Until then... follow me on Instagram: clmarksonlife

Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 100 Miles Challenge #July100miles

Am I crazy or what?

I joined this challenge on Facebook sponsored by The challenge was to run (or walk) 100 miles during the month of July. When you average that out over 31 days (thank you extra day in July), it is a little over 3.2 miles per day. That's doable. I joined knowing I probably wouldn't be able to run all of the 100 miles. I do love to run, but my knees don't love to run as much as my mind does. I told myself I'd run as much as I could and walk on the days I just felt like I couldn't.

I needed a fitness refresh, and this challenge was a great motivator. Plus, it taught me a few things along the way.

1. Morning workouts ROCK!  If you know me, you know I'm not really a morning person. I'm more of a mid-morning person. My favorite time to exercise is around 7:30 a.m. after I'm fully awake. During the work week I try my best to get my butt out the door by 6:30 a.m. Doesn't always happen, but when it does, I feel so much better. My metabolism is off to a great start, and I'm full of energy. Getting started is the hardest part. 

2. I love my Fitbit!  I should say I've been tracking my miles via my Fitbit. This may seem like "cheating" to some because I wear my Fitbit all day. If you don't know what a Fitbit is, it's a tracking device that records every step I take and adds those steps into a mile total for the day. I say... it's not cheating; I'm being smart. I'm tracking my activity (or inactivity), and everything should count. And I'm really close to reaching 500,000 steps. If I could complete 100 miles this month, I'll have met that milestone. Midway through the month, I hit 50 miles total. YES! Right on schedule.

3. It's all about attitude. But towards the end of the month, work was a lot busier and my activity level started to decline. After July 28th, I had completed 85 miles. That's only 5 miles per day, but more than my usual daily average of 3.2. My daily average the week of July 21 - 27 was only 2.55 miles. Ugh! Where was my momentum? Where was my drive? I was struggling with my knees, busy with family obligations, and making too many excuses and not enough time for me. I started to get a little nervous and wondered if I was going to make it to 100 miles by July 31.

And then I saw this....

Yes. This is MY challenge. I will not fail. This is MY journey, and no one else's. I will do this. I WILL reach 100 miles by the end of July! I found my positive attitude and kept going.

4. Self-discipline will get you there! I logged over 15 miles in the last three days. I met my goal of 500,000 steps and... I completed 101.47 miles this month! Set you goal. Don't lose hope. You will get there.

Proud? You bet I am.  Now beer me.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Happy Belated Birthday to my Blog

It was June 25, 2012 when I wrote my first blog post.  I honestly thought I started this in July, but June seems like a more likely month. July gets busier and busier as the month goes on. That also explains why I missed my blog's birthday. I've just been... busy.

So two years and one month later, my blog has a birthday. On every birthday or anniversary I like to reflect, evaluate and assess the year before. What have I learned? What have I gained? I saw a quote by Oprah Winfrey today that said, "No experience is ever wasted. Everything has meaning." I so agree with that. But the real key is LEARNING from those experiences. So let's look back....

I've definitely written fewer posts this year. A lot of that is because I've stopped my photo a day projects. I would post nearly every day when I was taking photos. Now I post two or three times a month which is pretty typical for most bloggers.

The posts I have made have been more quality posts and almost like a re-count of my life. An open diary, if you will, for all to see and read. That's okay. I wouldn't post anything I didn't want you to see or read.

The views have been less but I think that's only because I haven't been posting as much. Those two things usually go hand and hand. Also, you must share your posts in order for people to know there's something new out there to read (unless you are a follower, that is), and I've cut back on sharing.

What have I learned?
  • I don't miss my photo project. It became cumbersome and time consuming. The fun was no longer there. I'm glad that I stopped. No regrets.
  • I prefer quality over quantity. Always have, but it's been reinforced.
  • I now know the appropriate amount of information to share.
What have I gained?
  • I have prioritized my activities. I know which activities I should focus on and which ones should just fade away. 
  • I'm more present. I'm not constantly thinking about the photo prompt of the day and how I will incorporate it into a blog post. I'm not a blogger professional after all. I do have another job.
  • I've gained a LOT of knowledge about myself.

So I'll continue with this blog and post once or twice a month about my life. Mostly for me, but also so my children can go back and read the things that Mom liked to write about. I think the amount of information they will learn and subsequently gain from this blog is priceless. And because of that, I'll keep posting.

Happy Birthday, Blog!  Here's to another great year.

Monday, June 30, 2014

You only get so many...

I love summer. The days are longer, weather is warmer, and the schedule is a little less hectic. No school schedules to contend with and work is even a little slower... for a while. June is my favorite month of summer. The kids are finally out of school. They're not bored (yet). And I can take vacation time!

Bear Bottom Resort

We decided to spend our family vacation time at the lake. It was wonderful to get away and not have a schedule. We did whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. That meant spending a lot of time kicked back lying in the sun. It was pure bliss. We kicked a few drinks back too.

At the bottom of the water slides was a bar!

I told myself I wasn't going to check my email this week. Well, I made it until Thursday. Not bad, huh?!? I'm seriously addicted to technology, so I think this is REALLY good for me. While logged in I just cleaned out the list serve junk, the out of office updates, and the other stuff I didn't have to answer. I must point out that I didn't answer any of my email. In fact, I really didn't read most of them, so I still count that as meeting my goal. I have to tell you... I highly recommend it. Just log out and forget about what's waiting on the other side of vacation. It will definitely be there when you get back. Vacations are rare. Work is not.

On a boat with beer and good friends.

My favorite thing to do at the lake is watch one sunrise and one sunset from start to finish. I'm not really a morning person, but nothing beats watching the sunrise with a cup of coffee in hand on the dock. It's soooo peaceful. The boats aren't out yet, so the only sounds are the sounds of nature - fish flipping out of the water, birds flying, frogs get the idea. But in case you don't, I made a couple of videos from the photos I took. They're posted below. Check them out, and you'll see what I mean.

We're headed back to the lake for the 4th of July annual celebration, so more posts are coming! Hope you are enjoying every moment of your summer. Your sunrises and sunsets are numbered, you know. Log off, get out there, and get lost in the moment. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New Tunes Tuesday - Miranda Lambert

I have been looking forward to her new album ever since I heard the first single, Automatic. I have decided to write this review as a first response post. I'm going to write my first impressions during my first listen. The album is 16 tracks long, so stick with me, okay? Here we go.

1. Girls - Her vocals are superb on this song. It's got a country rock edge that I've come to love from Miranda. The song's about how very complicated we girls are. It's true, right? Can't live with us, can't live without us. Every girl, and probably every guy, is going to relate to this song.

2. Platinum - This is the playful Miranda. It's an anthemic song with a chorus of girls singing with her. "What doesn't kill you only makes you blonder..." Yep, when the going gets rough, touch up your roots. But it's a play on words too. "Something about platinum irrefutably / looks as good on records as it does on me." No argument there from me! This is the ultimate girls night out song. Love it!

3. Little Red Wagon - Oh, now this is a sassy fun one! This is the perfect "dance it out" kinda song (if you've ever watched Grey's Anatomy, you know what I mean). I would love to hear her sing this live.

4. Smokin' and Drinkin' - She collaborates with Little Big Town on this song. The mix of vocals is unexpected and wonderful! It has a wistful and nostalgic feel to it. Couldn't help but sway as I was listening to the chorus. "Smokin and drinkin on the weekend / like we did back in the day / Smokin and drinkin gets you thinkin about the one that got away / here's to all those nights all we felt was like smokin and drinkin"

5. Priscilla "You and me share a unique position / Married to a man that's married to attention." You know, music allows you to work out your realities and sing what's on your heart. Miranda does just that on this perfect song drawing comparisons between her own marriage to Blake Shelton and Priscilla Presley's marriage to Elvis - a queen married to a king. Art imitating life.

6. Automatic - This is the first single off the album and still my favorite. The lyrics of this song are brilliant. It reminds us about the days we did things by hand like writing letters, driving a three-on-a-tree, windows with a crank, and photos you have to shake. I still have a Rand McNally map, and I definitely remember recording the music countdown on a cassette, do you? Take a trip down memory lane with this song.

7. Bathroom Sink - I put this song on repeat after the first listen. Written by Miranda herself, it's a raw emotional song about not focusing so much on the mundane things of life when there are bigger things out there. You put on the make-up, put off the hard stuff, and try not to see the rejection in the reflection. Thank God for the day and be on your way. Such a smart song - I love the metaphor throughout.

8. Old Sh!t - Oh yes she did! This is Miranda doing what Miranda wants to do. It's a sing-a-long campfire song all about the old "stuff" she loves. Full of twang, harmonicas, and guitars, it's a great little song. And hey, I love old sh!t too.

9. All That's Left - A Western Swing song about leaving. She teamed up with The Time Jumpers, and wow, I loved this! Old school with a modern twist.

10. Gravity Is a B**ch - It's a bluesy, barroom song about how getting old sucks. Her humor really shines through on this song. And it's something we will all have to face one day, right? I guess it's best to just make fun of it.

11. Babies Makin' Babies - Small towns always have couples like this. Barely out of high school, and they're having babies of their own. "Well it's a tried and true equation / maintains a small town population."

12. Somethin' Bad with Carrie Underwood - I saw them perform this on the 2014 Billboard Music Awards. It's honestly not the kind of song I thought they'd record together. I think it's the weakest track on the record. Maybe it will grow on me.

13. Holding On To You - Her vocals are so, so strong on this song. You can feel the emotion in every phrase, every note, every word. It's a beautiful track. It's one of my favorites.

14. Two Rings Shy - The song really reminds me of Sargent Pepper's. It has circus sounds throughout (no really) but very smart lyrics. "I don't wanna get dressed up just to be your clown."

15. Hard Staying Sober - the perfect tear in your beer song. The song begs the question... why do you think we all drink?!? Love the steel guitar. It has a really cool rocking end to the song too.

16. Another Sunday in the South - a nice laid back song to wrap the album up. She looks beyond the fame, the attention, and all the mean humors in the Tabloids to give us a little of who she is.

This album is as jam-packed as her life. It takes so many twists and turns. She's ambitious, playful and sassy. That's why I love this girl. Thank you for sharing your life with us, Miranda. I hope your album goes platinum. It's the best country album I've heard this year.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How much is just enough?

When it ceases to be fun, that's when you know you are done.

I don't know if that's a famous quote or maybe it was just said by me, but it perfectly explains how I feel right now. I'm really uninspired with my photo project. The quality of my photos is not good (really, really not good). I think because what started out as a fun project has now become a chore. It's like a job now. And not even a good job! So I'm stopping.

I know this decision comes just four days after my previous update, but it's time. I've been on the verge of stopping for a while now. Today just seems like the right day to do it.

I think it's important to say stopping and not quitting. After all it was MY decision to start, so it can be MY decision to stop and at any time. I honestly think that starting another year photo project was not a good idea. I started my first photo a day project almost two years ago. I met my goal and completed a full year. It was great! I got better at photography. It felt creative and inspiring. And looking back now, that's when I should have just stopped. 

But it wasn't all for nothing. In everything I do, I try to learn something and grow within. Here's what I've realized through this journey:

1. Photography is NOT my passion. If it were, I would still be energized to keep going and take a brilliant photo every day. I just don't want to anymore.

2. I'm a perfectionist. Did you notice I said "brilliant" photo? I strive for perfection. When that's no longer apparent or achievable, I stop. And it's hard, really hard, to get a brilliant photo EVERY DAY! Some days you just can't. Yet I would post something every day anyway because it was a daily project! I didn't feel like I could miss a day even though some days I probably should have.

3. I have a short attention span. If it doesn't keep me engaged and interested, I'm done! Plus, I had already met my goal of one year. Thinking I could complete two years was really ambitious.

4. I like round numbers. Just a random thought, but it's true. I'm stopping at photo 140 because it's a nice even number and just feels right. 

5. I was doing this project for the wrong reasons. This is the biggest thing and most important thing that I've learned. The photos I would take were shared on Facebook, on this blog, and on Instagram. Why? Not because I have a photography business. Not because I was trying to gain exposure for monetary gain. No, I believe I was seeking attention, and it became addictive. I can become so easily addicted, and social media is easily addicting! But when you post something to see how many likes you can receive, then you're sharing for the wrong reasons. 

Therefore, I'm switching my focus. My kids are getting older, and I'm not getting any younger. I will be sharing less on Facebook, less on this blog (which is down considerably anyway), and less on Instagram. Sharing milestones is one thing. Sharing something daily???  I've had enough. Time to stop.

One last video to share. The photos I included in this video are my favorites from the 140 photos I have shared from the project. There's some real gems in here, so I'm thankful for that. Hope you enjoy it.

And my photo taking days are NOT over. Heck no... just scaled back. Waaaaaay back to just enough. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

At the midpoint...

I'm mid-way through the month of May. The sun is finally shining, and it's Graduation weekend at Mizzou. Perfect time to give you an update on how my photo project is going this month, right?

It's been a challenge finding interesting things to photograph that begin with the letter M. Some days have certainly been more interesting than others. And some days, well... I've gotten a little distracted. But here are days 1 - 15 for you:

I have 230 days remaining in this photo project. That seems like a lot, doesn't it? And by the way, that's the number of days remaining in 2014 (in case you haven't made that connection yet). It's fun to come up with a monthly theme, but that's also been defeating the purpose of just shooting whatever I want when the moment comes. So... June will have NO THEME! The kids will be ending school. We'll be taking a little vacation as a family. And life is about to slow waaaaay down. I'm really looking forward to some relaxation.

Hope your month is going well. Stay tuned for the video wrap-up at the end of the month!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Day Santa Stopped Being Real

I knew this day would eventually arrive. I just didn't think it would arrive so quickly. I've always been careful and a little bit sneaky because I've wanted to keep the magic alive for as long as I could. I love the magic of Christmas which includes Santa Claus. I would wrap the Santa gifts at work in a different paper than all the other gifts, and I'd keep that paper hidden. Or so I thought... I wasn't really prepared when my youngest child asked me THE question last night...

"Are you and Daddy Santa Claus? Because I see that wrapping paper with all the rest of the wrapping paper.... Santa used that same paper! Don't you lie to me!"

Yep, there's the wrapping paper. And ouch! Don't you lie to me?

I didn't want to hear that accusation because I've never viewed it as a lie. Santa is magic. You know, he's like a card trick, an illusion, smoke and mirrors. Not a lie. That's how I have always felt about bringing the spirit of Santa Claus into my house every Christmas. But she saw it as a lie, and I couldn't have that. So I told her...

"Mommy and Daddy play Santa and buy the gifts that you've received from Santa. But I don't want you to think we have been lying to you. Santa is the spirit of Christmas - love, hope, giving, and joy. Santa is magical!  We give those gifts as Santa because it's fun. We love to see your face light up on Christmas morning. And as long as you believe in the true spirit of Christmas, you'll continue to receive gifts from Santa. Let me ask you this... What if you never received a gift from Santa?"

She really didn't like the thought of that. She realized that it's better to have experienced the magic than to have never experienced the magic at all. But I could tell she desperately wanted Santa to be real. For nine years he was, and she was sad to hear the truth. I have to be honest; I was sad too. My little girl is growing up. Will Christmas be as magical as it was before?

I think so...

"And one day you'll be Santa for your kids, and you will absolutely love it. You'll teach them to believe in something they can't see. You'll teach them to have faith. You'll teach them about giving from the heart and love. And those are the most important life lessons you could ever teach your children. Santa may not be a real person, but what he stands for is absolutely real."

She gave me a hug and told me she wished she could stay little forever. Oh sweetie, you have no idea how much I wish that too.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 365 Photo Project Wrap-Up

April is done! Spring is always a busy time for me, and this one was no exception. Oy! Between work travel and work projects, I had little time for personal projects. But I made it through my photo month...

Since I was so busy, I decided to put a theme to this month. I did a rainbow theme. One color of the rainbow each day, repeated for four weeks. It was a bit challenging at times (especially indigo) but very rewarding in the end. Here's a look at the video....

For May, I plan to do a month of "M" words. There is plenty of M things going on... Mother's Day, Memorial Day, and me!  My birthday is in May. So we'll see how this goes... Can I find 31 things that begin with the letter M?


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March Photo a Day Wrap Up

March went by rather quickly. It was a busy month for me personally and professionally.

I hate months like that. Little time for me. I hope that changes next month (but I seriously DOUBT it).

Nevertheless, I continued to take my photo a day and compiled this video for your viewing pleasure...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Tunes Tuesday - Eli Young Band

Hey, I'm on a roll!  Three music posts in three weeks! But there has been some great music released lately, and here's another one... 10,000 Towns by Eli Young Band.

The album title is not only the title to one of the songs, but also encompasses all of the places they have been while touring and putting on shows. I noticed a "on the road" kind of theme throughout the album. If they're not singing about the actual road, they're traveling down memory lane. I've always enjoyed their sound too. They do a great job of meshing rock with country and continue to do so on this album.

I love "Drunk Last Night" which was their lead single. The arrangement is modern without being too overdone. And who hasn't regretted doing some secret spilling after having one too many? That's a memory lane you might want to avoid.  "Dust" continues the road theme with a very catchy melody. The girl in the song could have been me back in the day speeding out of her small town and leaving it all behind. "Turn the radio up / Roll the windows down / She's got an open road / Nothing's stopping her now." It's their newest single, and I think it should do well on the radio.

Two memory lane tracks happen to be my favorites. "What Does" is a painful break-up song wondering what in the world went wrong. "I never thought we'd be one more tragedy / you and me / we're supposed to beat the odds... You hold on through thick and through thin / and when that kind of love doesn't win / what does?" And "A Lot Like Love" is a wistful look back at a lost love. Sometimes you don't realize what you have until it's gone. "Of all the memories good and bad / still find myself looking for what we had."

There are a few skip over tracks in my opinion simply because they feel geared toward a younger crowd. Advice is given to guys to "Just Add Moonlight" if you want a girl to fall in love with you. And "Let's Do Something Tonight" as long as it's worth talking about in the morning. They definitely had a particular audience in mind with these songs.

The final track is different from the other tracks and a favorite of mine. The harmonized "oooo-oooo" at the start hooked me in. "Prayer for the Road" is sung with feeling and emotion. And it was the perfect ending song to the road theme they had throughout the album.

Overall it's a fine album with a few bright spots, but they play it a little too safe for me.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New Tunes Tuesday - Dierks Bentley

Dierks Bentley has had an emotional year. During the recording of Riser, he lost his father and welcomed a son into his life. But music can provide fantastic therapy. The result is an authentic album that really comes from the heart.

The album kicks off with the moody "Bourbon in Kentucky." It never really took off on the radio. Not sure why because I thought the harmony with Kacey Musgraves was perfection. It's in these deeply heartfelt songs where he really shines. The connection is palpable on "Here On Earth" where he deals with loss and the confusion that follows. "There's not a stone in my heart I've left unturned / Not a piece of my soul that I ain't searched / The only answer that I found for all this hurt / Is there ain't no answer here on Earth." The title song "Riser" however states that he can rise above the hurt and sadness in his life. And "I Hold On" has him looking forward to the future yet still holds on to the memories.

There are a few bumps on the album, but they aren't terrible. "Pretty Girls" drinking tall boys, "Sounds of Summer" going down in a nowhere town, and chillin' on a "Back Porch" are all pretty interchangeable. The sad back story of "Drunk on a Plane" takes this song one step higher than the other three. He's leaving for the honeymoon alone because he was left at the alter. "On my way home I'll bump this seat right up to first class / So I can drink that cheap champagne out of a real glass / And when we land I'll call her up and tell her 'Kiss my ass' / Cause hey, I'm drunk on a plane"

"Say You Do" and "Five" are songs about lost love. He's hoping that even if you're not thinking of me, maybe you could just lie and say you do. I really like "Five". The lyrics are great and the guitar crescendo at the end just brings it home. "And this might sound crazy but maybe / You're thinkin' 'bout me tonight / 'Cause I'm thinkin' 'bout you tonight / Somethin' 'bout the taste of a first love, first touch / That don't ever seem to fade / Now you're 600 miles away / And a ten hour drive / But if you called me tonight, I can make it in five."

The real shining moment on the album is the acoustic "Damn These Dreams." He sings of the struggles between chasing his dreams and leaving his family. It's a real life story told in a song. We all have to make tough decisions in our lives. Do you listen to your head or your heart? Another favorite is "Hurt Somebody" for its fantastic arrangement. He knows the girl is going to hurt someone (with her red lipstick gun), but he's really hoping it's him.

Overall this is a solid country music album. It's everything I would expect from Dierks Bentley and more. The sorrow he felt over his father's death has seeped into these songs and made it authentic and raw. It has strong country roots with a mainstream flare. Enjoy.

Grade: B

Friday, February 28, 2014

365 Project - February Review

Winter is still here. If there isn't snow on the ground, it's brown and dead looking. So... for my photo project, I decided to do a month of black and white photos (which just happens to be my favorite type of photography) with flashes of red. I had to throw a little bit of color in the mix. Plus... There were two significant red days for February: National Wear Red Day and Valentine's Day. Red seemed like the appropriate color.

Near the end of this month, I was running out of inspiration quite frankly. Thought I love black and white  photos, it's difficult to post everything void of color (except for the occasional red). So I went looking for ideas... and decided to find hidden letters in ordinary objects. Posting hidden letters in black and white sometimes makes it easier to see the letters. It was the end of the month, and I had six days remaining. Why not spell out a six letter word? Can you see it???

Celebrating 175 years of Mizzou!

MIZZOU! I really love the results and hope you do too. Definitely going to revisit the hidden letters later on this year.

Overall, I think it was a great month. The contrast of black and white during winter can be pretty powerful. I love the trees, the snowflakes, the silhouettes, and definitely the flashes of red. Here's my video recap made with Flipagram:

For March, I think I'll work on portraits, macros, flashes of green, and more indoor objects. Winter storms are in the forecast for this weekend. And though I think snow is pretty, I'm really getting tired of it. But you'll probably see more snow photos too.

Until then... live in the moment and capture those memories.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Tunes Tuesday - Eric Church

Eric Church holds nothing back. He tells you straight up like it is on the very first track. "They're the in-crowd, we're the other ones / It's a different kind of cloth that we're cut from." If you've been to one of his shows, you know he does things his own way and makes no apologies for it. And if you haven't seen him perform, check out "Caught in the Act: Live." It's the perfect transitional album from "Chief" to "The Outsiders." 

But only a true insider could produce an album like this and make it work. This collection of songs is full of heavy metal riffs and guitar solos complete with a Nashville-bashing diatribe spoken by Church. This is ultimate outlaw country. Not many can make a track like "That's Damn Rock & Roll" and "Devil, Devil" on a country record. And no, not many would want to, but that's who Eric Church wants to be. 

After the fist pumping anthem "The Outsiders," he slows it way down on track 2. "A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young" is a lovely ballad that ponders thoughts like how in the heck has he outlived Hank or Jesus despite his reckless ways. It's stripped down and draws you in. He attributes his calming down to his spouse who has always loved him (like Jesus does) and been there for him. At one point in his life he thought he'd die young, but now he wants to live forever with the love of his life. He admits in "Dark Side" that if he were to ever let this side see the light of day, "there'd be hell to pay." I think this song describes exactly who Eric Church is not only as a person but as an artist as well. It might be my favorite on the album. 

There are plenty of catchy songs too. He sings the nostalgic "Give Me Back My Hometown" with a hint of annoyance and regret. He's unable to enjoy his hometown because he's haunted by his ex. "Cold One" laments the girl who not only broke his heart but took his beer too (left him one short of a twelve pack)! He lost two cold ones in this story.... The irresistible beat of "Broke Record" about an unhealthy obsession with a woman is bound to get stuck in your head. "Talladega" is a made-for-radio tune about a road trip in a Winnebago with his buddies."Here's to turn it up, slowin' down and cars that go real fast." I hope he releases this one as a single.

There are so many layers to this album that you could dissect it again and again. It's not all country, it's not all rock, but it's all soul. It's a wild ride through the mind of Eric Church - a musical adventure from start to finish.

Grade:  B+

Monday, February 17, 2014

Take Time to Smell the Roses

Flowers don't last very long. They're not a practical gift at all. I hardly ever receive them because I hardly ever ask for them. I'm a practical person, and they're just not very practical.

But they are beautiful. So every once in a while (okay, maybe once a year), I will indulge. Valentine's Day seems like the perfect time. It's my least favorite of holidays, but at least there are roses (and chocolate). And since my husband is even more practical than me, I bought myself a dozen roses at the grocery store. Yep, bought them myself. I would never ask him to buy me flowers, especially since the only reason I wanted some was because I wanted to take some photos of them. I knew he would laugh. So... I didn't ask, I just bought them myself.

My theme this month for my 365 project is black and white with flashes of red. Throwing in some photos of red roses would be perfect! And I got the opportunity to mess around with some editing apps.

Here's the original....

And some edits with PicsArt and Repix.
They look ceramic here.

Kind of like a poster.

Another original....

And then cropped....

They are starting to turn dark now. Their life span sure is short. But that's why I take photographs - to capture moments before they disappear. So take time to smell the roses.... and don't forget to photograph them too.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Tunes Tuesday - Joe Nichols

It's been a while since I've reviewed some music here. It doesn't mean I haven't stopped listening; I just haven't found anything worth writing about until now. I have been playing the latest album by Joe Nichols, Crickets, on repeat lately. It's been out a few months, so I know I'm certainly late on getting this written. But better late than never. This one is definitely worth checking out.

One of my favorite tracks, and his first single, is "Sunny and 75." Welcome to the endless summer! You'll be dreaming of beaches and palm trees as you listen to this track. "You and me on a beach chair / Yeah, I'm so there every time I look in your eyes / Kissing you in the salt air / I can taste it, I swear / Sunny and 75."

Another favorite of mine is "Smile On Mine." He's been pulling out all of the stops for another kiss. "Don't play hard to get / Girl it just ain't fair / Don't you remember that night / There was magic in the air." Have you ever wished for just one more kiss?

If you want to get your redneck on, then "Open Up a Can" is for you. If you've had a bad day, or a long week, there's only so much you can take before you open up a can. I can relate. I can picture hands in the air swaying back and forth at his next concert to this song.

I love "Old School Country Song." He fits current times into classic country emotions. The steel guitar weeps as he sings... "Breakin’ up is still a mess / It don’t make a heart hurt less / Cause you text it from a mobile phone / All you’ve really done you see / Is modernize the melody / But it still sounds like an old school country song." This song was a great lead into a familiar country song... his cover of Merle Haggard's "Footlights." He gives it a soulful and heartfelt touch.

Crickets is aptly named because it's a laid back, chill by the river bank kinda record from start to finish. And he throws in the sounds of crickets chirping every now and then just for effect. It's a traditional country sounding album with very few skip over tracks. Enjoy.

Grade: B

Happy Birthday, Mizzou!

Today marks the 175th anniversary of the University of Missouri’s founding on Feb. 11, 1839. MU was the first public university west of the Mississippi River and the first state university in Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase territory. This wonderful timeline highlights other significant events in Mizzou's history.

One of my favorite bits of MU's history surrounds the Civil War. The war forced the university to close in 1862. The residents of Columbia formed a home militia and stood ready to defend the city and university. They were given the nickname "Fighting Tigers of Columbia." In 1890, the football team took on the nickname "Tigers" after the Civil War militia. We've been the Mizzou Tigers ever since.

Another poignant piece of history occurred after a fire consumed Academic Hall on Jan. 9, 1892. Board of Curators President G.F. Rothwell wrote these immortal words: 
 “… Let these columns stand. Let them stand a thousand years… a memorial to [those] who in their magnificent presence learned what life and duty are… to live the one and do the other. They will be a rallying point of future devotion and service to the university ….”
Indeed. The beloved columns are the most recognizable feature of our university and a subject I love to photograph. I'm very grateful to Mizzou as it has played a huge part of who I am today.  So, "here's a health to thee," Old Missouri. "Thy high fame shall last!"

Friday, February 7, 2014

Say It Ain't Snow

Alarm goes off like any other Monday morning, and I roll out of bed. I wake up my son for school, and we grudgingly go about our morning routine. Then the phone rings. The phone never rings at 6:00 a.m. unless it's terrible news. Who in the heck is calling us this early? It's Columbia Public Schools. No school! Really? We had received some ice over the weekend, but I thought the roads were somewhat passable. Nevertheless, no school today. So I let my son know and he promptly returns to bed. I walk into my daughter's room; she's still asleep. I whisper the news in her ear. Her eyes flutter awake and she smiles while rolling over to go back to sleep. Sounds like a good idea. I also head back to bed. I emailed work later that morning to let them know I'd be checking email at home. I had some things to get done because a huge snowstorm was on it's way. An extended weekend was sounding pretty good.

That evening we received texts and emails that just about everything in town would be closed on Tuesday. MU even closed the campus at 8:00 pm Monday night before a single snowflake fell. That's never happened. I thought to myself, "What if they're jumping the gun? What if this monster snow storm never reaches us?" Doesn't matter because I don't have to go to work the next day! So my husband and I open up a bottle of Westmalle Trappist Ale. Good stuff.

Well.... the snow storm reaches us.... in full force! It snowed for almost 24 hours. I set out my famous "snow gauge" to measure the snow. I bought some Mirror Pond Ale for the Super Bowl, so that was the snow gauge of choice. After a few hours of watching it blow and drift, I decided to increase the size of the snow gauge (the larger 750 ml bottle is the empty Westmalle from the night before). I'm glad I did because you couldn't even see the smaller bottle on Wednesday morning.

Needless to say, everything was closed on Wednesday too. I personally was happy to have an extra day to get the driveway clear. I wouldn't have been able to make it to work anyway. They closed school on Thursday as well because of the road conditions and extreme cold. The enthusiasm for my kids is now starting to wane. My daughter was calling it the longest weekend ever (indeed). Thursday night we started wondering if they would have school on Friday. Part of me thought what's the use of sending them to school for just one day? Let's just start fresh on Monday. 

Our suspicions were confirmed later Thursday night. No school again! After my kids heard the news they responded back with "No! Will we have to go to school in July?!?" Not quite. But I know we'll all be complaining about keeping the school schedule after Memorial Day. June 5th is the last day of school as it stands now. And winter isn't over yet, folks.

So please, Mr. Weatherman, I'm begging you. The next time you report the forecast...say it ain't snow!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Where has the time gone?

So, it appears I'm a little behind on my blog posts. I can't believe tomorrow is February. However, the part of me that doesn't like winter very much is really happy about that. Did I mention snow is on its way to Missouri? Sigh...

You know, snow is a funny thing to me. In December, I love snow. I wish for snow. I want a white Christmas! So I embrace the cold with the holidays. I don't mind wearing fleece and fuzzy socks if I can watch the snow fall while staring at my Christmas tree. Thinking about that whole scene makes me warm inside. But soon after the New Year, I'm counting the days until Spring. Winter around here is just dark, dreary and grey. The Christmas lights are put away and the kids are back in school, so at that point the snow can STOP! But this year, my friends, it hasn't been the snow of my gripes and complains... it has been stupidly and ridiculously cold. I don't ever remember having negative temperatures like this growing up. And we've had weeks of below freezing weather this winter. Schools have been closed simply because of the wind chill. That's crazy! And I'm starting to get cabin fever.

Thankfully I was able to escape for a while this month and spend some time in Puerto Rico. I went there for a work conference which I must say was almost cruel. Yes, cruel. It was difficult to concentrate on my work when there were sunny skies and a beach right outside my door. Another sigh... I received little to no sympathy from my co-workers back home however. It really was beautiful there, and I had a lot of fun. I brought my husband along, so we stayed an extra day to see the sights. I would love to go back when I have more time to explore.

I'm also pleased to report that my 365 photo project is going well. Despite the cold and nasty weather, I haven't missed a day. OK, Puerto Rico helped (that was 6 of the photos), but I'm still proud of myself for sticking with it. You know why I'm sticking with it? Because it's FUN and makes me HAPPY! That really is the key to sticking with any project that you start. You have to love what you're doing or you just won't continue. I find the time to take my photos because I love it.

Here's a quick video recap of my January photos that I made with Flipagram. This is a really cool app that is FREE, and it's SO easy to use. I recommend you check it out.

Next month I will focus on black and white images with a flash of red on February 14 for Valentine's Day. Should be an interesting month, and I think it will produce a cool video. Until then, I'll close with this final thought about the seasons:
Spring is about renewal and rebirth. Summer represents exuberance and excitement. Autumn reminds us that change can be good. And the winter??? Winter is all about perseverance. Hang in there, kids....

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

365 Project - Week 1

Do more of what makes you happy!

That's my resolution for the year. 2013 was a really great year. I did some traveling, went to some fun places, spent time with friends and family, and made new friends. Near the end of the year, I let one of my hobbies slip a little though... photography. I completed over a year of photo a day using the prompts provided by Fat Mum Slim (a blogger from Australia). But the prompts started repeating themselves a little and I lost interest. However, I really missed taking pictures!

So this year, I have resolved to do my OWN 365 project. No lists. No prompts. Just whatever I feel like snapping. In my mind, I will have "assignments" for myself to improve my skills but nothing formal. I think that's what was inhibiting me. The prompts were confining my creativity instead of broadening it.

So here is how the first week went:

Off to a good start, I think. I may incorporate a few themes along the way. But honestly, I just want to let it to evolve on its own. I'll continue to post updates here so you can follow along.

Did you make a resolution for 2014?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Tunes Tuesday - Favorite 5 Albums of 2013

I've got two words for you.... Girl Power! This year I'm happy to say that 2013 belonged to the women of country music. Four of my favorite five albums were either made by a female star, female group or female lead singer. That's exciting to see! With the airwaves dominated by male stars, I'm hoping we'll see a turn toward the more feminine side in 2014.

And I know I'm a day late with this post... it's clearly Wednesday, but what the heck! That was my 2013 story... always running behind. I hope to be more on track in 2014.

So here's my list! You can read my review of each album by clicking on the album title.

5. Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves:  She won the Country Music Association's New Artist of the year and this album was nominated for Album of the Year. She has stirred up controversy, but that's what makes her cool. She's also been nominated for four Grammy's! She's definitely an up and coming star.

4. Annie Up by Pistol Annies:  An all girl trio made up of Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley. This album peaked at #2 on the country charts and contains some of my favorite songs of the year. They also appear on my next favorite album....

3. Based On A True Story by Blake Shelton:  The only male in my list belongs to the highly successful Blake Shelton. This is his 8th album and most sincere to date. It reached the number 1 spot on the US Billboard Top Country Albums with three very successful singles. His fourth single, Doin' What She Likes, will be released on January 6th.

2. Pioneer by The Band Perry:  Definitely the most creative and entertaining album of my list. It also reached number 1 on the US Billboard Top Country Albums. No sophomore slump for this trio! I expect big things from them in the future.

1. Like A Rose by Ashley Monroe:  This album is the most traditional sounding country album and that's why it's my number 1 choice. She's one-third Pistol Annie and 100% a true artist. She co-wrote on every song. The only thing wrong with this album is that it's not long enough. However, it's the perfect example of how sometimes less is more.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...