Archive for the ‘Explore Oklahoma’ Category





A Local Pampering and Giveaway

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013







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Shawnee’s Best Kept

Secret





For those of you who live in the area of Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Guthrie…well…all over the state of Oklahoma, or who live in Kansas or Arkansas or Texas and come to the Oklahoma City area every so often, I have discovered a diamond in the rough in our little town of Shawnee, Oklahoma that is worth your attention. Oh my goodness. It’s the Grangeville Rose Tea Room and Emporium and if you can get a day to pamper yourself, this is the place to do it.


I met the owner of this wonderful and elegant tea room, Cynthia, at the Central Oklahoma Lavender and Herb Festival as a fellow exhibitor. We chatted and shared products and she invited me and a friend of mine to come try out the tea room. Finally, on Monday, we had the opportunity to take advantage of the invitation.


The Grangeville Rose is located at 322 West MacArthur Blvd in Shawnee, Oklahoma. It is just east on MacArthur from Kickapoo and is on the north side of the road. It is kind of easy to miss because it sits back off of the road in a little strip mall and is the very first building of the mall. The large, plate glass front window is black with white lettering and you have to be looking for it. In fact, when you first see the outside, you might wonder exactly what is behind that window! But when you open the door, you are carried into a world away from your mundane life!


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A step through the front door, brings you into a little alcove that has been created to reflect the outside of an old home, complete with lovely sea green siding and wooden sashed window. Looking through the window, into the home, one sees a gorgeous, cut glass lamp framed by unusually, tailored curtains. To the left is the “front door” to the home where you enter into the tastefully decorated and luxurious dining room of an old, home – a Jane Austen home. Lights are low, soft music dances in the background and beautifully draped and decorated round tables, surrounded by high-backed chairs, are centered with floral lamps offering a gentle light for the guests. The menu reflects all things Jane Austen, including the Bingley’s Jane Austen Tea Series.


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What a surprise we got when we were served on Royal Albert Old Rose china. Absolutely beautiful. And the flatware was Wallace silver plate. What a gorgeous table was set!!


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I chose the Summer Trio for my lunch and was treated to three awesome salads – an unusual chicken salad made with grilled chicken. fruit and what tasted like maybe, sour cream, a pasta salad with the most amazing basil dressing with paper thin slices of fresh parmesan cheese, and a green salad with chef Brian’s personally created raspberry vinaigrette dressing. Brian is Cynthia’s nephew and smartly dressed in his French chef’s coat, he creates concoctions that are just to die for. Dessert was a treat of two lavender scones – yep, lavender – with apricot jam and I am here to tell you, I’ve never had a scone lighter or more delicate than these amazing morsels!! Everything was accompanied by a light, hot tea kept warm over a flaming trivet. Peach iced tea and hand-squeezed strawberry lemonaide are also available.


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A china cabinet full of delicate pieces, elegantly framed pictures, a fireplace and buffet topped with silver coffee service only adds to the Victorian ambiance of this “Longbourn” place. (you’ll have to read Pride and Prejudice)


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Gifts of Spode china, Moss Rose and other vintage items grace the shelves of the Emporium, along with hats straight out of Sense and Sensibility. And as of today, an antique wash stand, with bowl and pitcher, presents our own Prairie Blessings Soaps for sale!


Unbelievably reasonable prices, extraordinary food, a ‘high tea’ party once a month and the perfect place for a bridesmaids’ luncheon, birthday party or business lunch makes the Grangeville Rose Tea Room and Emporium a place that is worth whatever travel is required to get there! Beginning July 23rd through July 27th, the tea room will be celebrating Christmas in July, complete with decorations, gifts and special foods. “A winter Holiday respite during the hot days of summer.” For tea room hours and reservations, call 405-273-6464.


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And to make somebody’s day really, really special, I have purchased a gift certificate for an enjoyable lunch in quiet splendor. Just leave a comment below and you will be entered into a drawing for this gift certificate. Please do not enter if there is no chance that you can make it to Shawnee for this treat. We want someone to be able to truly enjoy this gift. The drawing will be held on August 1st.



Happy Dining!



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MB
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Random Travels – And Pictures!

Thursday, May 10th, 2012





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Oil Boom City


Once upon a time, many, many, many…ok MANY years ago, a chubby, dimpled child was brought into the world to a pair of teachers who were living in the garage apartment of a home owned by a wealthy employee of a wealthy oil company. I am sure that if it had not been for oil being discovered in Oklahoma with people becoming wealthy as a result, the birth hospital would never have been built (named after the oil man’s wife) and the teachers wouldn’t have had a place to live, thereby making it impossible to bring a baby into the world. In other words, I wouldn’t be here today. Yep, I was that chubby, dimpled baby.


The town was Bartlesville, Oklahoma, former home to Frank and Jane Phillips of Phillips Petroleum Company and it is that company that made Bartlesville into the beautifully landscaped and artistically pleasing town that it is today. It is truly a jewel in the prairie – as Oklahoma as the wind and as modern as any east coast city. And it’s my home town!!


The crazy thing is that last week is the first time that I have been back to my home town since I was a little girl. And trust me…that was a little while ago. Mr. Fix-It saw to it that I was going to make that trip and so on Wednesday, he announced that we were going on a day drive. We loaded up our little Ellie dog (long-haired dachshund) and headed out early in the morning. I did not know what to expect from the north central part of our state, but I can tell you that I fell in love. It is absolutely beautiful. So, I have included a few photos of the town of Bartlesville just to show you that we aren’t a bunch of country hicks down here. Next post, I’d like to share photos of the amazing Woolaroc Park just west of Bartlesville, former country ranch of Frank and Jane Phillips that has now been turned into a wildlife preserve and Native American artifacs/American art museum.


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When one first comes into Bartlesville, hillarious water towers labeled Hot, Cold and Warm are there to meet.


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The Price Tower is hard to miss as its 19 stories hover over the downtown. The Price Tower was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of quite a number of buildings in Oklahoma with his signature. This building is the only skyscraper built that was designed by Wright and is created along the lines of 1920′s Art Deco architecture. It was finished in 1956. Covered in decorated sheets of copper, it is one of the most unusual buildings I’ve ever seen.


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The “Spirit of Performance” Sculpture by Tasso Patsiri – it was presented in 1992 to the City by the Phillips Petroleum Company in honor of Phillips Petroleum Company’s 75th Anniversary


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In Oklahoma, many of the towns have taken on animal mascots and Bartlesville’s is the buffalo. Artist Jan Martin McGuire’s life-size bison, painted with various scenes, dot the city and stand sentinal in front of businesses and city buildings. These critters are on the grounds of the Community Center.


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I thought the architecture of community center was just lovely.


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Mr. Fix-It was fascinated by the huge, wooden replica of the first commercial oil well in Oklahoma near Bartlesville in Indian Territory, the Nellie Johnstone #1 well. It produced over 100,000 barrels of oil from 1897 until 1947.


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Frank Phillips built a home in 1909 in Bartlesville in order to bring his family from Iowa. Family remains philanthropic toward the community. Donated to the Oklahoma Historical Society, the home has seen wonderful care. Now open to tours, the home offers you the chance to truly step back into the early 1900′s since most of what is in the home is original.


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The houses in Bartlesville are just gorgeous.


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This was the Junior High near our home back in the ’50′s. Isn’t it pretty and well-kept for its age?!


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And this is the home where my parents lived in 1954 in that garage apartment at the back. It’s in awesome shape, isn’t it?!


I thorougly enjoyed my day trip to Bartlesville, getting to actually see places of my past. Mr. Fix-It sure knows how to make a day special!!



Happy Motoring!



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Breadbasket Country

Monday, July 18th, 2011





Alva, Oklahoma:

1930′s Deja Vu




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Mr. Fix-It and I and our little dog, Ellie (the Tin Man and Cowardly Lion weren’t available) followed the Yellow-Lined Road called I-35 to the breadbasket part of our state, Alva, Oklahoma, to see the son’s new digs. It was a sobering trip as acre after acre after acre of dry, parched farmland spread out as far as the eye could see. Brown and yellow with touches of green are the colors that painted the entire expanse. Lines of green trees spotted with yellowing leaves acted as windbreakers. Ponds had been reduced to half depths of green, brackish water and creeks and streams were simply dry beds.


This is where much of Oklahoma’s wheat, corn, milo and canola are produced and this year has been rough. The wheat harvest in Oklahoma was 38% below 2010 numbers while the Texas harvest, just across the state line, was 63% below normal. Corn has not been much better. Oklahoma is over 11″ of rain behind normal, while Texas is as much as 25″ below normal. People are starting to talk of the Dust Bowl days and yesterday Oklahomans across the state prayed for relief at the request of our governor. Yesterday, it was 106º in Alva with 28% humidity.



YouTube Video by AJ67901 on Jun 12, 2011

This is a really interesting video of a fairly good harvest in Texas County, OK in June. It is pretty cool to see how the combines work together and how the grain is loaded into the trucks. My son helped with the harvest at an Alva wheat farm and sent me a 50 lb bucket of freshly combined wheat berries!



The amazing thing for me, on this trip, was finding that while I thought our area around Oklahoma City was so drought stricken, it is actually quite green compared to western Oklahoma. It is disheartening to know how much higher food prices are going to go because of the shortage of grains. Not good for Americans who are already struggling with food budgets and even worse for countries that depend totally on imported grains for survival. A shortage of grain impacts just about every foodstuff, including meat, but a shortage of water makes it even worse. Ranchers all over Texas and Oklahoma are selling off hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep because there is just not enough water or grass to feed them. This will have a long term impact on the price of meat in the supermarket.


But back to our trip – in spite of the water and heat problems, northwestern Oklahoma has a beauty all its own. I spent my time taking pictures so that I could share that part of my state with you. Traveling to the western part of Oklahoma makes one feel like one should be riding in a 1940′s Chevy truck. It is a step back in time with all the trimmings of today’s technology. Alva is no different. It is a lovely town with lovely people and the slow-moving pace of yesteryear. It is made up of the kind of people who suffered throught the drought, heat and dust of the Depression. Homes from the early 1900′s are scattered among homes of the 1940′s and 1950′s while huge, newer homes dot the outskirts. It is a small town but has those essentials of Walmart, Pizza Hut, Sonic and McDonalds! It has to because Alva is also home to Northwestern Oklahoma State University, a wonderful state secret. This university is near and dear to our hearts as two of our progeny graduated this school. A daughter even represeted NWOSU at Miss Oklahoma! The beautiful campus, caring professors and administration, mixed with the atmosphere of the kind of university my parents and grandparents remember, amazing scholarships and reasonable tuition makes this our favorite state institution of learning.


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Herod Hall, NWOSU Campus



And so, put on your overalls and follow me to Western Oklahoma in pictures.


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Along highway 11, grain bins dot the horizon and even crowd the street corners of tiny towns.


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Cars of yesteryear parked on Hwy 11 near Numa


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All across the prairie/farm landscape are dunes of sand covered in grass. These dunes were created by millions of tons of sand and dirt removed and relocated during the horrible years of the Dust Bowl. If you are interested, there is an amazing book written by Timothy Egan called, The Worst Hard Time. True stories and stunning photographs take you to the realities of those midwestern people of the Depression who suffered through drought, extreme heat and cold with dust storms that infiltrated every nook and cranny of their lives.


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The snowy white of The Great Salt Plains in the distance



The Great Salt Plains just outside of Alva is an international attraction. It gets its name from the salt crystals that cover the ground, leaving an almost ‘snowy’ landscape. The site of much history, Native American tribes fought each other for control of this landscape as it was a huge attraction for wild buffalo and deer seeking the salt.



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The area of salted sand is exactly 11,000 acres and the salt is continually replenished by saline groundwater that flows just a few feet underground. When the water evaporates, a layer of salt covers the surface. This also forms the unusual Selenite crystals that are hunted by visitors. We have a boxful from previous trips


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A Selenite Crystal



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Ellie’s “do” was showing that “windblown” look in the stout Oklahoma breeze at the Great Salt Plains. Note: Ellie was a “dump” dog. We figure a puppy mill dumped her at 12 weeks old because she has a terrible overbite and shouldn’t be bred. Their loss!! She’s a hoot.


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On down the highway and getting closer to Alva, the traveler will find a fenced off area on the south side of the road with an artesian well pumping thousands of gallons of mineral water a minute. Health concious people from all over bring water jugs to fill with the crystal clear water. And for those who like Watercress sandwiches, there is a hearty crop floating in the pond made by the running water. This place is a green oasis due to the underground springs.


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Many of the farmers in Western Oklahoma are using practices that reduce the chances of a dust bowl happening again. Using ‘No Till” farming, they plant rows of a new crop in the stubble of the previous crop without turning and exposing the dirt. This new crop of soybeans is pretty and green, but if you notice the grasses in the foreground, I am wondering how long they will stay that way. We saw no irrigation going on.


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An antique Chevy? I suppose you could say it literally got “driven into the dirt”?


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Coming into the town of Alva, many of the buildings and homes have a Swedish and German look to them due to the influence of the large number of immigrant families who settled the area. Also, Alva was home to a WWII prison camp for German war prisoners. Many of them loved the area so much that they stayed and made Alva their home after the war.


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Drilling new oil wells in and around the town and in the entire area, is nothing unusual. Western Oklahoma is rich in the black stuff and is also a huge producer of natural gas.


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We buzzed by the university


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Alva has a beautiful little airport with concrete runways – no grass strips there! – a terminal and rows of hangars for housing small airplanes. It is also home to Vantage Plane Plastics, a world leader in the production and installation of aircraft interiors. That is where our son is employed and so aviation has become an important part of our lives! Vantage has small planes fly in from all over the world to this little town for service.


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Of course, the son had to show us the plane that he is flying as he finishes up the requirements for a pilot’s license.


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I got a chuckle out of the various decals I noticed decorating several of the planes. At least there weren’t any naked women!! Good boy.


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Windmills and oil well pumps – part of the energy of Oklahoma



It was a pleasant trip on a hot, dry weekend, and it was wonderful. Northwestern Oklahoma has an appeal and a beauty that is unique. Jump in your car and make a visit!


Happy Traveling!



MB
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The Good Ol’ Days

Monday, May 16th, 2011





The Good Ol’ Days




On Saturday, I got to play and work all at the same time. Mr. Fix-It and I made a lovely trip down to Tishomingo, Oklahoma – my old stomping grounds – and participated in the first annual “Back To The Good Ol’ Days” festival, sponsored by the Johnston County Historical Society. Held inside and outside what was the original Chickasaw Territorial bank in Tishomingo, the ambiance was perfect. All of us were dressed in period costumes and the purpose was to educate visitors in the ways of life in the early to mid 1900′s. I donned a bonnet and floor-length dress and apron and demonstrated grinding grains and rolling oats, as well as – of course – the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™. The oat rolling was the favorite of the many children who strolled through. They bent down to look under my stainless steel wonder to watch the oat groats go from kernel to flat oatmeal. They had no idea that the oatmeal they ate in the morning didn’t come already smashed right off the farm. I had more than one adult who was equally impressed!

To my right was Nina, who demonstrated sewing on a gorgeous old black, Featherweight Singer sewing machine, and on my left was Ada, who kept a crowd of children around her as she let them embroider their own projects. Opposite me was Tammy, who was cheerfully making Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. Outside of the bank building was a demonstration of old timey laundry days, complete with washtub and board, clothesline, wooden ironing board and heavy metal iron. Handmade Indian flutes and stickball raquets, as well as various antique household items, occupied several booths and best of all, there was a game center with the games of yesteryear. Jacks, checkers, pickupsticks and paperdolls were available for quieter play, while marbles and hopscotch provided livelier entertainment for the young and young at heart. Visitors even voted for their favorite candidates by filling out a ballot designed just like the original Johnston County paper ballots. They dropped these into an original metal “ballot box” made secure by a padlock. Candidates included Sleezy Joe McGough for County Clerk, Gene Deadeye Smith for Sherriff and Hang ‘m High L. Taylor for judge. The aroma of pinto beans and cornbread permeated the air and at noon, for $5, visitors were served a bowl of beans, a corn muffin, old fashioned chocolate gravy cake with chocolate/nut icing and a glass of tea.

My heartiest laugh came from a couple who stopped to watch my demonstration and who shared just the funniest story. Leroy and Rosalie Ussery stopped by my table and Leroy explained, as he watched my grain grinder in action, that he and his wife had grown wheat. He said that at the time, their son was in the second grade and as is the case with most second grades, Show-And-Tell was an important part of class each week. The Ussery’s son was eager to show his classmates all about the wheat that his family raised, combined and sold and so he took a sheaf of the grain to school. When his very young teacher saw the stems bending over with the grain heads, she was excited that her class of children would get to see the true origin of one of their foods. She completely took over the son’s Show-And-Tell moment and began explaining to the children that the flour used to make their biscuits, pancakes, etc came from the grains encased in the heads at the end of the stalks. She carefully removed a few of the grains and said, “Now watch” and started peeling back the husk around the grain. She told the children that when she squeezed opened the grain kernel, flour would fall out. The kids watched expectantly for puffs of flour to escape as she attempted to open several kernels with no luck. She finally said, “Oh. This wheat must not be ripe yet.” Mr. Ussery’s son was very distressed over the incredible misinformation given by the teacher but when his father asked what he had said to the class and the teacher, he replied, “Oh!! Nothing, Dad” Mr. Ussery encouraged, “Good call!” Yep, it isn’t healthy to make your teacher look stupid!!

Here are a few pictures from the day.


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The focal point of Tishomingo, Oklahoma is the beautiful and restored Capitol building of the Chickasaw Nation. Tishomingo is considered the capitol city for the Chickasaws.



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Down the street is the historic Chickasaw Bank building, now the home of the Johnston County Historical Society and Chamber of Commerce. Different examples of early American living in Oklahoma were set up along the sidewalk in front of the bank.



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The bank has been kept in its original layout, including the counter where people placed their deposits and withdrawals in early, pre-state Oklahoma.



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An old rolltop desk sits in the corner



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The ceilings are gorgeous



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A beautiful staircase leads to more exhibits upstairs



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There are many exhibits donated by locals



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Women, in costume, prepared the table of silent auction items to raise money for the Historical Society



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Learning to roll the hoop


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A game of checkers


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Wash Day!


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Blowing bubbles through wooden spools using soapy water


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Pickup Sticks!



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Hopscotch and stilts



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I demonstrated rolling oats and grinding grains. The stone grinder is in the background



It was a cool day and just perfect for an educational Saturday. As I was leaving, I overheard some of the society members talking about next year! If you are in Oklahoma, take time to visit this great town and friendly people!


Happy Reminiscing!



MB
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December In Oklahoma

Friday, December 10th, 2010





December

In Oklahoma



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I just thought that I would remind you of what Oklahoma looks like in the Spring before you see the following photos!



I have decided that every place on earth has its own beauty and every place on earth in any season of the year displays that beauty in many different ways.


Oklahoma is no different. From the “mountains” (hills to you Colorado folk) of the eastern and southwestern part of the state, the rivers and forests of the southeastern and southcentral part, to the wide open prairie and sand dunes of the western part of the state, nature shows herself in glorious splendor each and every season.

Yesterday, my dear husband and I made a day of it heading out to Altus, OK, home of Altus Air Force Base. From our starting point, the route winds through Chickasha, Lawton and Fort Sill, Cache and Snyder (home of General Tommy Franks) past ranches that spread as far as the eye can see.

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We started out in cold, brisk temperatures hanging around 32º with a dusting of snow on the ground. As we moved south, the cold air had hit warmer air and we were driving in the proverbial “pea soup”.


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I thought that you might like to see what our state looks like in the late Fall/early Winter before the heavy snows move in. I took these from the car as we were sailing along at a 70mph clip!


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These are the mountains that are evidently keeping Trader Joe’s from coming to Oklahoma. It seems their trucks can’t make it over our “mountains”? Yes, clerks at two different Trader Joe’s stores in two different states shared that secret with me. I’m wondering how they made it all the way to Tennessee from California!! Some of our “mountains” are leftovers from the Dust Bowl days. Large dunes of sand give testimony to those hare and terrible days. I think the view is spectacular.


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Every breed of cow you can imagine dots the countryside. I bet these Angus could make it over the “mountains”!!!



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Around Snyder, there are these strange outcroppings of rock that just rise right out of the ground.



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That isn’t snow! That’s cotton. I never saw so much cotton as I did on our drive.



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Those are bales of cotton and they were everywhere. With cotton prices soaring, that looked like gold bars in them thar fields!!



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The cotton bolls are sharp. It is hard to imagine how painful it must have been when hand-picking was the only way to pull the soft cotton off of the plants.



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We finally made it to Altus to sun and warmer temperatures. We went by the Air Force Base and it was humming with activity. The monstrous C5 Galaxy planes looked like battleships trying to stay in the air. They are so big that it is just hard to fathom how in the world they fly!!!


So there’s a little view into one part of our world on the southwest side of the state. Hope you didn’t get carsick!!



MB

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Tornado Alley

Sunday, May 16th, 2010







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A Shout Out To

Special Neighbors


This past week was a really rough one for many Oklahomans in the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ Company area. A total of 25 tornadoes pummeled our communities that left homes, businesses and churches in shambles and thousands of people hurting and baffled. Many are still without electricity. We, here, got to play “Little House on the Prairie”, ourselves, for three days.


I am amazed at the Okie spirit that permeates the people here. No sooner had these wind monsters attacked and vanished, then neighbors, safe in storm shelters, emerged to check from home to home to make sure that fellow neighbors were OK. Just yesterday, we were amazed by the stories of two of our neighbors, one of whom we were helping to recover what was left of their yard and their home. It seems that the wife of this particular family sought shelter with her little boy in their cellar, only to have a tree fall on top of the cellar, while their house was being torn to bits. The two were trapped, unable to lift the door under the weight of the heavy tree. Another neighbor was checking each home and heard the wife screaming. With the help of others, the tree was removed and the scared and exhausted duo gratefully emerged to the shock of seeing their destroyed home.


The house immediately to their east looks like a giant game of “Pick-up Sticks” and the owner’s story is even more incredible. The same neighbor who discovered the two trapped in the cellar, saw that the only thing standing in the next home, was the very center of the home, next to where the garage had been and with door barely intact. Inside was the owner of the home. As his home disentegrated around him, this poor man was protected by the tiny closet in which he took refuge. He was obviously in shock when the neighbor found him, but he will be fine.


All across this area, friends, neighbors and even people from other cities have joined together in the cleanup effort, giving of time, money, food, clothes and household goods. In the subdivision where we worked on Wednesday and Thursday, alongside friends of ours, it was just amazing to see the tough resolve that the affected families exhibited. They cut downed trees, hauled load after load after load to the street curbs, piled bricks and two-by-fours, covered destroyed roofs if they had any roof left at all, starting at first light and finishing near dark, only to return to start again the next day. There was no anger and no bitterness, just a deep resolve to move on. The police officers at the entrance to the disaster areas have been friendly and sympathetic, asking for IDs, names and addresses in order to keep an accounting of people who enter and leave the areas. It has been announced that no looting has occurred. That is also amazing.


I just want to say that I am so proud to be an Oklahoman. We have been through so many tragedies including the Dust Bowl, the Oklahoma City bombing, the May 3rd, 1999 tornado that was the mother of all tornadoes, the collapse of the I-40 bridge at Gore and these tornadoes this week. Throughout this state’s history “True Grit” has been a characteristic and the character of the people who live here shines through every time. So here’s a shout out to the special people in the Sooner State. You know what the term “neighbor” really means!!


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In a neighborhood, where we were able to help with a large group of friends, nearly every home was damaged


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It was just painful to see the damage to the beautiful homes.


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Just over from the neighborhood, on I-40, Anderson’s Truck Plaza and Love’s Truck Plaza were obliterated.


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Those who just suffered roof damage had to work precariously to place tarps over the affected areas.


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Many people willingly volunteered to do the dirty work of cutting up mangled and toppled trees, piling debris and fixing meals for those doing the dirty work. Thanks everybody!!



Proud to be an Okie!



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MB
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Taste Of Home Cooking Show

Monday, April 12th, 2010


Excuses, Excuses




It appears that I am running a bit late on my contributions this month to the blog. I really do have a good excuse. Really. Creating Concepts, Ent. participated, for the first time, with the Taste of Home Cooking School show and we had so much fun. However, it meant that all of my time was spent in preparation and the thought of sitting down to the computer was last on my mind. We had an absolute blast, met tons of nice people and enjoyed it immensely. Thanks to all who came by the booth! We had a drawing at the booth and the winner was from Seminole, Oklahoma. She won a Breadbasket Gift Set. Here is a picture of the booth and my trusty helpers. Oh! And we introduced the new line of aprons made from vintage patterns. The aprons will be up on the shopping page by the weekend!


And now I’ll move on to a real post!



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