Archive for the ‘A Day In the Life Of An Okie’ Category

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

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We are all up and running at last. All the code is in its place and I have a happy face! :-)

Its a beautiful, crisp and sunny day before Thanksgiving Day and I am just overwhelmed with joy. I will be spending tomorrow with family and friends – 25 all total – and with lots of food. You know me! Food is good!! We will be having our traditional dishes and, I’m sure, some new ones and half the clan will be bringing guitars, mandolins or banjos for an afternoon of picking and grinning. This is a time to just kick back and recognize that even with problems, difficulties, concerns and even heartaches, we can be grateful for our God – our provider (the reason for the FIRST Thanksgiving!), for our loved ones, for our friends and for our country> I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!!

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Happy Eating!

And Many Blessings!!

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Would You Be Willing To Help?

Friday, November 1st, 2013

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Heh all! We had our drawing for our October giveaway and Denise Thompson of New Jersey is our winner! She should have her mixes in hand. Congratulations, Denise!!

Now, I have a huge favor to ask. This request is for you readers who have Facebook accounts. We are entered in a grant competition in hopes of getting enough money to build a store front for everybody to come visit us and in which to teach classes on site! It would include a sage garden to roam in and pick sage and for our Rosemary/Peppermint/Sage soap that is our most popular fragrance. It is loaded with real, hand-rubbed sage. So, we need votes. 250 votes!! We are now at 93 and that is simply amazing because I’ve seen companies bigger than ours getting fewer votes. In fact, in the state, we have the third most votes of around 25 companies! I sure would appreciate it if you all would click on the link below and vote and then share this with your friends, on Facebook or through Pinterest, so they can go vote. We can do this!! We have until November 15th. Thanks to everybody!!!

Mission Main Street Grants

Happy Voting!

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How to Offend A Coffee Aficionado And A Giveaway!

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

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Two For Tea?

When I was young, it didn’t take me long to figure out that Europeans were first introduced to coffee by the tribes in South America in order to stunt their growth and make them less of a threat to said tribes. I mean, really, if you coffee drinkers were honest, you would admit that you would have been at least six inches taller with better muscle tone, if you had not daily ingested multiple cups of that horrible stuff.

Yes, I hate coffee. For something that smells so good in the morning as it perks, how in the world can it taste so close to burnt and bitter dirt? I can’t really say that I’ve ever tasted burnt and bitter dirt, but I can imagine what it tastes like and that is exactly how coffee strikes my taste buds.

I’ve had quite a number of people tell me, “Well, it is an acquired taste.” Why? Why would I want to try over and over to choke down a hot liquid in order to acquire a taste for burnt and bitter dirt? I mean, I won’t eat raw oysters, either, and the only difference there is that they don’t taste burnt or bitter – just dirty.

I can’t even stand coffee IN anything. Put it in a cake and call it Tiramisu? Are you kidding? Why ruin perfectly good pound cake? And coffee toffee? Bleh. If I’m going to pull my teeth out on candy, give me a caramel any day!!

I suppose that you have figured out that I don’t order any Caramel Toffee Pumpkin Spice Mocha Macchiato Vanilla Frappucino Vinte Lattes at any of those hoity toity Dobie Gillis Coffee House wannabes. (For those of you not older than the dirt that coffee tastes like, that would be the Dobie Gillis 1950’s television show.) No. I am a tea drinker and I am a persnickety tea drinker. I don’t like just any ol’ tea. My favorite two teas are our Irish Breakfast Tea and our ultimate Oklahoma Prairie Wedding Tea. The first one is a rich, dark, full-bodied organic tea with just a hint of natural sweetness and the latter is a light black tea infused with Kiwi, Raspberry, Strawberry and Mango flavors. Yum. They so totally beat dirt three times over.

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So, the other evening I got a little crazy. I’ve seen what you coffee drinkers do to your coffees with the whipped cream and gently sprinkled spices or cinnamon sticks. I’ve always assumed that it is to keep from having to taste how really awful the stuff is. But as I was reaching for some cream to put into my cup of tea the other night, my eye fell onto a can of Real Whip hanging out on a tray in the door of the refrigerator. I grabbed that can and contemplated my next move. A pretty swirl of whipped cream wrapped around the surface of my tea and I lightly sprinkled cinnamon and nutmeg over the swirls. Oh my gosh. That was the most incredible tea I’ve ever had. Yummy. It could have been dessert!

So there you go. If you want to try something tasty, just relax one night with a lovely cup of tea and gild the lily. Who knows? Start drinking tea instead of coffee and you might catch up to the height you should have been in the first place!!

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And while you’re at it, leave a comment below to enter our October Giveaway. On October 18th we’ll draw a name out of the hat and the lucky winner will receive our luscious New England Cupboard blueberry scones mix (with a can of real, wild Maine blueberries!) and a package of our new frybread mix. Two treats from two cultures! And you can enjoy them with a cup of spiffed up tea – or – if you really, really feel you have to do it, with a cup of coffee. Good luck!!

Happy Sipping!

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Smoked Gouda Chicken Pasta

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

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Mission Main Street Grants

Summer’s End

I think that all of us have to admit that this has been a strange summer, weatherwise. Thankfully, our normally three digit temps did not appear, however, three monstrous tornadoes – one right after the other – destroyed much of our local landscape. Fires and floods in other parts of the nation have wreaked all kinds of havoc and our prayers go out for those in Colorado who are struggling through some of those floods, right now, after having to endure fires. Abnormally cool temperatures up north have kept places like Alaska in igloo conditions. But now, the days are growing shorter and there is a different feeling in the air. County fairs are popping up and the sound of college football, with its background of cheering fans, dominates the television on Saturdays.

Fall used to always be hard for me. No joke. It seems that everything bad that happened, occurred in the FAll. For the longest time, when that crispness in the air appeared and the tell-tale muted sunlight of autumn days rose, I would get this feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach – a heaviness of spirit if you will. But that has since passed and now the Fall is my favorite time of year with Spring my second choice. I can’t wait for Thanksgiving and I so enjoy the baking, canning and preparation that I do like a squirrel storing up nuts for the winter! I’ve included a recipe for one of those meals below.

I’ve decided to give you a peek into one of those “bad” Autumns so that you might get a little picture into my ready-for-psychiatric-research psyche. Perhaps you won’t find me so strange after all. And then again, this story may make me that much more strange!! Read on.

It was the end of August of 1992. I was 38 years old, skinny, full of energy and the mother of two young children. My sister and her family had invited us to Dallas, from Mt. Pleasant, TX, to join them at Six Flags Over Texas. The kids were excited. I was ready for a fun day. And it was fun…that is…until we hit the kiddie ferris wheel (emphasis here on “kiddie”). My daughter, all of 11 years old, begged me to ride with her and so I hopped beside her in a swinging chair and watched as the safety bar was lowered over our midsections. Shortly thereafter, the gears ground, the music started and we were lifted probably a whopping one and a half stories into the air. As we came to the highest point, open swing rocking and pitching, I discovered, for the first time in my life, that I am afraid of heights. And I don’t just mean “close your eyes and don’t look” afraid of heights. I mean “scream in abject terror and beg for mercy” afraid of heights. I began to hyperventilate. I started to cry. My heart raced and I gulped for air between screams emitted through clenched teeth. My daughter grabbed my arm and tried to soothe me. She looked genuinely stunned and dismayed – not embarrassed that her mother needed a straight jacket and an ambulance waiting at the foot of the ride. My family members in the crowd below, however, looked like they wanted to change their names and claim no acquaintance with the crazy woman who was unraveling on the kiddie ride.

When the ride finally stopped, I fell out of the chair, onto my knees, and struggled to stand. My makeup was a mess but that was no comparison to my mental well-being. My daughter led me to find our family which had scattered in embarrassment and someone brought me a Coca-Cola to fill me with caffeine and make me crazier. I finally gathered my wits and returned to a state of calm, trying to laugh off my apparent phobia. We moved on to food and more fun. We knew not to put me on anymore rides that went more than a foot off of the ground.

I know. You are thinking, “So?” I understand. But that isn’t the end of it. We continued our Six Flags experience and as darkness descended, my niece indicated that, as a last ride, she wanted to do the Splash Water Falls, a ride that sends a boat down a steep slide to hit, bow first into a deep pool of water, sending a wall of water over a walk bridge that acts as the exit for the ride. Those standing on the bridge, at just the right location, get drenched by water cascading over them. I was actually able to handle that ride and even enjoyed it as we plummeted into the water. I’m thinking that it had to do with the idea that falling into the water is safer and less painful than spatting onto concrete from the height of a ferris wheel. My children and I exited our boat and climbed to the bridge to watch my sister and niece take their turn. I pressed way against the back, concrete wall to avoid the water that would inevitably come from their trip. My daughter ran forward to the railing to get a better look. In a series of actions that could only have taken seconds, I first realized that my daughter would be soaked (and would soak the car as well, since we were leaving immediately). I then ran forward to attempt to pull her back as I called out for her to move. She moved. But I was caught in the very center of the width of the bridge. That wall of water came over the top of the structure, full force, hitting me squarely in the chest, picking me up off my feet and tossing me like a rag doll against that back concrete wall and then onto my back on the concrete walkway. All of the air was knocked out of my lungs and I gasped, looking, I am sure, like a goldfish poured out of its bowl, flopping in a huge puddle of water. There was not one inch of me that was dry. Did I mention that I had on white cotton shorts and a white cotton t-shirt? I’ll leave you to imagine the result of soaking white cotton. The guy running the ride and a number of visitors ran to help me up. I could see, “Lawsuit” written all over the poor Six Flag employee’s face. Down below, my entire family was rolling on the ground laughing so hard that they couldn’t even get up the stairs to help me. They didn’t stop laughing until they realized that they hadn’t gotten a video of the whole incident to win $10,000 on America’s Funniest Home Videos.

I headed back to Mt. Pleasant, beaten, bruised and assured that my children were going to be advertising for a new, less embarrassing mother. And again, you say, “So? What’s so bad that you would hate Fall?” I’m not finished.

The following week, still literally blue and smarting from my tumble and embarrassed by my fits of hysteria, I went about my normal work which included taking care of our pet raccoon. Rascal the Raccoon had shown up at our home as an unweaned baby whose mommy had been hit by a car while he was clinging to her back. We took him in and nursed him, bottle feeding him to weaning. Rascal readily accepted house training like a cat and soon had run of our home.

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Rascal loved to hide under the couch and grab feet – human or dog – as they strolled by

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Rascal and our Australian Shephard/Border Collie cross, Jenny, played like the best of friends

A couple of days after the trip to Texas, I let Rascal out for a stroll. He was still pretty tiny and so I watched him carefully because I did not want him climbing into one of the huge trees of Northeast Texas. Of course, the first thing that he did was head for the biggest of those trees. I called out to Rascal and walked quickly to retrieve him from the tree trunk, not seeing the large tree root in front of me. The tip of my toe clipped under that tree root and I pitched forward. I tried to catch myself on my left leg, but my leg twisted so that my foot was inward as I continued to fall forward. The sound of a large tree branch snapping echoed through the Fall air as I hit the ground and I noticed that the lower half of my left leg, about 8 inches below my knee was laying in the totally opposite direction of the rest of my leg. It wasn’t a tree branch that had snapped. It was the bones in my leg. I did what any normal person would do. I screamed and screamed for help. And I reached down and picked up the wayward portion of my leg and tried to put it in the right position. Bad idea. My poor, stoic 11 year old daughter was the only person home and she came running out to see what had happened. She quickly assessed the situation, called a neighbor and brought me two ibuprofen and a glass of water without me asking. I was too in shock to know what I needed!! My neighbors arrived and slid a cutting board under my leg, securing it by wrapping and wrapping with a horse lead rope and then slid a blanket under me. They took corners of the blanket and lifted me to a car seat where I passed out. Two surgeries and a $20,000 hospital bill later, a year and a half of physical therapy and the leftover scars and arthritis of 3 plates with 13 screws, I walked out of the physical therapist’s office one Spring, relieved that I would not be a cripple the rest of my life.

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Rascal’s favorite perch

Rascal finally grew up and wandered off to find a woman Raccoon, but he left us with an unlimited list of funny stories and precious memories. He was a wild raccoon and needed to go back to his habitat. We eased him from his home life to the great outdoors and he finally did not need us anymore.

So there is an example of ONE of my bad Autumns. As I have said, those memories are a distant past and now I can’t wait until I see our first scorpion – emphasis on the word SEE – because we know that Fall is just weeks away. I start getting the urge to cook heartier meals and fill the house with the smells of baking. Here is a recipe that I came up with to use our Shawnee Mills Country Gravy Mix for a hearty, lower calorie pasta meal (I’m on a diet you know) and Mr. Fix-It, my critic, gave it a two thumbs up.

Smoked Gouda Chicken Pasta


3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 lb chicken breasts cut into strips
1/2 lb ground Italian sausage or 1/2 lb ground pork mixed with salt, pepper and fennel seed
8 large shrimp, shelled
6 large mushrooms, sliced
1 – 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 pkg Shawnee Mills Country Gravy Mix or Peppered Gravy Mix prepared according to directions
1/2 to 1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned (depending on your taste)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp. chopped red sweet pepper
1 cup smoked gouda cheese, grated
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
4 cups cooked bowtie pasta

Printable Recipe


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Prepare Shawnee Mills Gravy mix according to directions. As 1 1/2 cups water is heating, add tsp garlic powder and oregano to the 1/2 cup water and powdered mix.

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When gravy has thickened add tomatoes

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And add chopped peppers

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Add gouda and parmesan cheeses. Stir until cheeses are incorporated, cover with lid and set aside onto warm eye.

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Toss chicken and shrimp with Cajun seasoning. Separate chicken from shrimp. Add 2 tbsps. olive oil and 2 tbsps. butter to skillet and heat skillet to smoking. I am using a cast iron skillet here because I think it is best for a blackened meat. Put chicken into skillet and sauté until browned with black areas. Add shrimp and toss until no longer opaque.

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Add sausage and chop and stir until crumbles are cooked all the way through.

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Place meats into a bowl and put into the oven that has been preheated to warm or put into a warming oven if you have one.

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Return the skillet to the heat and add mushrooms to the skillet. Stir fry, constantly stirring.

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Cook mushrooms until browned and add to bowl of meats. Toss to mix.

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Prepare pasta in salted boiling water with a tablespoon of olive oil added. Drain well. Stir gravy sauce and slowly add to the pasta, stirring to coat until pasta is covered according to your tastes.

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Spoon pasta and sauce onto 4 plates and divide meat and mushrooms to top each plate of pasta. Drizzle leftover sauce over the meats and then garnish with grated gouda and parmesan cheese with chopped tomatoes. Serve with garlic bread and a salad.

So there’s a Fall meal for you! Hope you are ready to dive into this year’s season like I am!!!

Happy Cooking!

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Bull Shoals – A Little Place Of Heaven

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

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God’s Creation

Mr. Fix-It and I just got back from our favorite place in the whole world. It’s simple. It’s lovely. It’s laid back. And it’s cheap!! (That’s the best part) We love to visit the Bull Shoals, Arkansas area which includes Cotter, Flippin, Mountain Home, Fairview and Lakeview. We stay in various places whenever we go but our favorite place to stay is in a tent at the Bull Shoals State Park campground. What a gorgeous place to be!! The deer are so numerous that you can nearly walk up to pet them and the White River is cool, quiet and serene as fly fishermen silently cast their lines to snag hungry trout. It’s just God’s Creation at its best.

We only spent a few days in the area and actually stayed at an historic and popular resort called Gastons White River Resort since our stay was so short. We plan on going back in the Fall to camp for a longer time. But I thought that I would post some photos of the area just for you to enjoy.

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First of all, I bet it’s been a long time since you’ve seen one of these at a motel! Gastons is still using keys for the doors to their cabins. Kinda quaint – and Psycho-like. :-)

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We woke up to this scene out of our window. It just did my heart good.

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We skipped over to Cotter for a few hours. The spring there and the park are just so pleasant. This is the Cotter Bridge which was built in the 1930′s.

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The dam at Bull Shoals was built in the 1940′s and harnesses the White River for electricity, as well as for Bull Shoals lake, a huge recreational lake that spans Arkansas and Missouri.

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On one side of the dam is Bull Shoals Lake

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And on the other side of the dam is the White River. I’ll give you three guesses why they call it the White River!

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On our exploration, we had to stop the car in the road to allow this aimless wanderer time to mosey across without a care in the world.

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In the town of Bull Shoals, I caught this advertisement and thought it was a hoot. Pretty creative!!

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There has been so much rain in Arkansas that the flowers are gorgeous. The drought seems to be over in that part of the state, anyway. This hibiscus was spectacular.

If you get a chance to head down Bull Shoals’ way, you should! And bring a tent for camping at the state park! (who needs a big, expensive camper!?) You might even get a raccoon or two to join you for dinner!

Happy Changes!

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A Local Pampering and Giveaway

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

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Shawnee’s Best Kept


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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Freedom, Safety and The Royal Berkey

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

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True Freedom

I have so much to say and don’t know where to begin. So much has happened over the last couple of months in our state and in our family that it gets just a little bit overwhelming. I’ll do my best to make sense and make my 1971 High School English teacher, Mrs. Carter, proud. But I have some pretty deep thoughts to share. This is going to be a little different from my other posts.

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You know that my community and others around me were devastated by three tornadoes that were so huge and powerful that very little stood up against them. Families have experienced the loss of homes, cars, personal belongings, pets and even loved ones. The immediate aftermath was a call for better safety measures….mandatory shelters in schools and homes, better warning systems and stronger homes. All across the land, “safety” has become the new “in” word. And I have to admit that sitting in our storm shelter on the night of May 19th, I felt snug, safe and strangely calm in the midst of the wind storm above me.

Then, yesterday, a video was sent to me. It had gone viral on the internet and was of a young student from my alma mater in Murfreesboro, TN who had been stopped at a DUI checkpoint, not because he was drunk, but because he was young. I think that he must have been a law student because he knew the legal terminology and the Constitution backwards and forwards. With his cell phone camera turned on and laying in the front seat, the young man recorded a most horrible and astounding episode of police intimidation, corruption and just plain meanness. At one point, one patrolman announced to the kid that the Constitution can be suspended in the name of safety. The very ones who have been charged with the duty to “keep us safe” had become people FROM whom one would want to be kept safe!

Last week was our country’s celebration of July 4th – Independence Day – the day that we set aside to remind ourselves of our escape from tyranny, of the blessed freedoms that we enjoy in this land and to think on those of the past who stood up for those freedoms. Many people, including myself, feel that a lot of those freedoms are being eroded away, but still, all-in-all, we are a people in a nation that enjoys the most freedoms of any other country in the world. Unfortunately, however, we keep giving up freedoms in the name of ‘safety’.

Ironically, in the same week as our Independence celebration, just two days prior to that day, my family experienced something that made us all feel that our freedom AND safety had been snatched right out from under us and it is taking some time to overcome that feeling. On Tuesday afternoon, shortly after 1:00 pm, in the middle of the day, my daughter, Mrs. Dance-A-Lot, drove into the driveway of her new home. She and her hubby (Mr. Guitar Guy) had moved into this house just weeks before and, though it is new and wonderful, the house isn’t quite home yet. Mrs. Dance-A-Lot had been on a special lunch date with Mr. Guitar Guy, taking a moment together while their little Miss Snicklefritz, was visiting the other grandmother and recovering from the very contagious Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. Mrs. Dance-A-Lot had only been gone from her house for 45 minutes. As she pulled into the driveway, she noticed that her garage door was open and that a car was sitting in the drive. The door from the garage to the house was open as well and in just a matter of milliseconds she was asking herself why everything was open, whose car was in the drive and if the new pest control man was back without calling her. But then, how could he get into the house without her there? She pulled up next to the strange car to exit hers as a very large man came toward her car, carrying her laptop, with two more men attempting to carry her big screen television behind him. Of course, she and the men all jumped out of their skins at the same time and as Mrs. Dance-A-Lot slammed her car door to back out of the driveway as fast as she could, the men carrying the television dropped it behind the man with the laptop and ran to their car . My daughter was on the phone with 911 as she vamoosed out of there, heart pounding and feeling like she was in some kind of alternate universe. All she could think was, “I have to get away.”

A home full of police, fingerprint dusting and providing their own fingerprints later, my loved ones had to face a ransacked house covered in clingy, fine, black fingerprint dust, a front door that had not only been kicked in but had taken the door frame with it, some missing personal items including jewelry and electronics and a feeling that everything in their “space” had been violated. Of course, the anger set in and pretty soon, the paranoia and fear – and that affected ALL of us. All kinds of things run through your mind like, “What if they come back?” “They know what I/she looks like.” “They know what they left.” “They know that I/she can identify them and their car.” An unsettling lack of peace followed. It wasn’t helped by the fact that on July the 4th Mrs. Dance-A-Lot’s Netflix account showed that someone was watching pornography on her computer!! Just one more violation.

For a week now, many in our family and even close friends have been running through plans of what can be done to avoid this type of situation again. Alarm system companies are loving us as they are getting new orders, doors have been made more secure using the EZ ARMOR door security systems from Lowe’s (they cost $68), video cameras are being considered and discussions on what can be learned from the incident are underway. The issue of “safety” has come up again and a feeling of freedoms lost permeates conversations. And as usual, I’m looking on the bright side in the hopes that these sorry individuals are in agony with high fevers and blisters because they were exposed, in my daughter’s house, to the numerous. stuck on everything and highly contagious germs of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease!! Would that not be sweet justice?!

Laying aside that vengeful part of my personality, it has occurred to me that all of us need to recognize something about freedom and safety that often gets overlooked. In the Declaration of Independence, those great men who wrote that great document stated that our freedoms are ordained by God. We forget that our safety is in His hands as well. Yes, bad things happen but that does not negate the fact that ultimately, our great God who is the authority over all things is our protection and our safety when push comes to shove. We can plan until doom’s day, but all the plans in the world are just man’s efforts to stop something that is totally out of his control. We can monitor every phone call from overseas and still have some nuts blow up the innocence of a marathon race. We can install burglar alarms and fire alarms only to have them irritatingly announce that our home is burning down or that burglars were quick enough to grab and run before the police could get there. We can store up food for a crisis only to have it tossed over the countryside by a tornado or burned up in a fire or spoiled by varmints of some type. We can live in the country with farm animals, gardens and fruit trees to provide our sustenance, only to have drought, bugs, accident or disease wipe out every ounce of that provision. We can use wind power, solar power and generators to offset the loss of electricity only to have God’s electricity – lightning – destroy it all. “The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.” (Robert Burns) The fact is, using man’s schemes, we are never truly “safe”. If any person promises to keep you “safe” from anything, he is a liar. And if he promises you safety in exchange for your freedom, he is a tyrant.

Proverbs 28:26 says, “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” And what is wisdom? “The reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Proverbs 1:7 What kind of safety is scripture talking about? It can be physical safety, but more important, it is about spiritual safety. It is a safety from fear, unease, depression, discouragement, dread and all of the other negatives that cloud our joy and steal our peace. I have experienced moments when God has given me wisdom and warning that if I had just listened, I would have avoided a lot of physical heartache. But more important is that if I had just listened to His promise that He is my safety and salvation, I would have avoided a lot of spiritual turmoil as well.

God truly does have our best interests at heart. He is our calm in the midst of calamity, peace in the midst of chaos and joy in the midst of pain. Even when bad things happen to us, if we let Him, He keeps us “safe” from ourselves. He is the tornado shelter for our hearts that shields us from the winds of our fear and anger, the surveillance for our minds that keeps us safe from thinking we are in control and the burglar alarm for our souls that warns us of stolen joy or pilfered peace. It’s pretty amazing. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to your life.” Mathew 6:33

As I said, a lot has happened in our state and family that has messed with our perception of “safe”. And now that it has been a week since a first experience with the nature of people who don’t understand the concept of “this ain’t yours”, it has been hammered into my brain that when all is said and done, God is in control, God is the actual Justice and God is our protection from our own worst reactions. But I have to admit, in the dark recesses of my heart, I still catch myself hoping that those three men contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease and are scared to death that they have the Black Plague or something!

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But speaking of steps that you can take to better care for your family, I want to show you our wonderful, stainless steel Berkey water filter that I absolutey love. Isn’t it pretty?

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When ordering a Berkey water filter, you have a choice of charcoal or ceramic filters, as well as special ones for arsenic and flouride. We’ve had this Royal Berkey, which holds a total of 3.25 gallons of water, for three years, and the spigot makes it so handy to just keep on the counter for a quick drink. We pour new water from our well into the top half with the filters once a day and enjoy the clearest, sweetest water you can imagine. They are a little pricey, but the filters last for years if cared for properly. We did the math and determined that in the long run, the Berkey was the better deal for water filters.

So there’s my sales pitch. We don’t sell Berkeys or get a commission or even know anyone who sells the systems, so I can truthfully say that our endorsement is unbiased and for real!

Happy Filtering!

And Stay Safe!

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Video On A Unique Donation!

Friday, June 14th, 2013

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Another Way To Donate

Having lost our lovely, huge White Oak trees from the May 19th tornado, this video kinda struck a cord with me. It was produced by some friends of mine with our local news channel and some of the footage is at the church or around our area that I mentioned in my previous post. I was pretty surprised to see it and thought, “Hmmm. I never even thought about all the trees that have been lost!” You can’t imagine the piles of tree trunks and limbs that are gracing our roadways right now. Hope you enjoy.

You can donate from the video site or go here.

Happy Planting!!!

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Diary of A Tornado

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

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Americans At Work

It’s been three weeks since the mile wide, F4 tornado that swept through our community. It feels like it has been a year. Shockingly, in this short time, we’ve had so much help that some homes have been completely bulldozed off of foundations for new building to begin, roofs have been repaired on other homes along with all kinds of repairs, and piles and piles of debris have been neatly stacked in front of homes and properties for county pickup.

The Sunday had started out hot and muggy. The wind had been blowing for two, straight days and it was so hard and so brisk that people looked around nervously and commented to each other, “I don’t like this. It doesn’t feel right out here.” The sky was clear and blue with big, puffy, cumulus clouds off in the distance.

That afternoon, I was on the phone with a friend and Mr. Fix-It came in and said, “Grab your camera! Those weird kind of clouds are covering the sky!” I told my friend that I was going to take pictures of some clouds and she said, “Oh! Mike Morgan (the weatherman) is talking about those clouds right now!” I didn’t take the time to turn on the weather to see what kind of clouds these were for fear of losing a picture.

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The whole sky was covered with what looked like a huge cluster of grapes. They gave an ominous feeling. Mr. Fix-It said, “This isn’t good. The last time we saw clouds like this was before a front that spawned tornadoes.” I felt weird inside. Something was nagging me that this day was going to be the day that we finally came face-to-face with the brutal force of a tornado. I had never experienced one of these twisters but had seen the aftermath of their devastation in the neighborhoods of friends. Somehow, our area had always been spared. In May of 1999, when the then largest tornado in history chugged its way through Moore, Oklahoma, I had been just south, in Norman, trying to make a getaway to get home, not knowing that two tornadoes were behind me. We made it to the cellar and those tornadoes lifted right over our area to set back down several miles behind us. We felt like we were blessed with protection. But this day…this day was different. There was a foreboding in the air.

Our neighbors must have felt it too because my cell phone rang in the early afternoon and my neighbor, The Horse Lady, said in a timid and questioning voice, “I think it could be bad this evening. Can we come share your shelter?” She and her husband have two little girls. I told her to come if the sirens went off.

At around 5 pm, our astute weathermen began warning that bad stuff was coming. We always keep our televisions tuned to the local stations when impending bad weather is possible. With their droned warnings in the background, I gathered up my laptop, a bag of goodies and water, my purse and a cloth bag with valuables that we would not want gone if the house was hit. All of these things went to the shelter where there is always a couple of lanterns, a battery operated fan, a battery operated radio and a backpack packed with a change of clothes for each of us, some jerky, dried fruit, copies of important papers, a first aid kit with bottles of our medications and toiletry items. The backpack would come in handy if we lost everything. Mr. Fix-It had cleaned the shelter, also known as a “fraidy hole” in Oklahoma, the month before, making sure that there were no spiders or other crawly things with which we’d have to share our space! We placed cat carriers at the back door, ready for Sway and Callie and little Ellie dog got dressed with a purple harness for a quick attachment of a leash. We continued our evening while keeping an eye on the television.

At around 6:00 pm, Mike Morgan, the channel 4 weatherman, declared breathlessly that a storm with a tornado was headed our way. He showed a timeline of communities in the path and just then my phone rang and a friend asked frantically if I was watching the weather. She said, “You could be a direct hit.” I assured her that we were aware. I called The Horse Lady and told her to get her family over to the shelter. Mr. Fix-It and I loaded the cats into their carriers and put a leash on Ellie and got the animals situated in their temporary surroundings. At 6:15, sirens could be heard in the distance. I wondered where The Horse Lady and her family were. It was starting to rain.

The Horse Lady and her husband and two girls suddenly appeared and came running through what was starting as quarter-sized hail. We helped them down into the shelter, little girls crying in fear, and got the door closed and bolted with the two, spring-loaded sliding bolts that slip into the concrete wall of the doorframe. It wasn’t long before texts on my cell phone started coming fast and furiously. We had lost all cell connection for voice, but for some reason, we could still get texts. My two dear friends were giving us blow-by-blow descriptions of what was happening outside our cozy, underground storm shelter and our children were wondering if we had made it to the shelter. I have never felt so at home in that place in my life!! I was ready to hang curtains! One friend managed to get through one last time by voice and I could tell she was upset. She lives in El Reno, Oklahoma, quite a distance away and she said she was trying hard to keep from crying because she could see what was headed our way. We could hear on the radio what she was seeing on the television.

Suddenly, it got very quiet and then the wind started picking up. It felt heavy in the shelter and the wind began a low moan. The moan rose in pitch and became louder and higher and a strange whistle like a tea kettle whistling could be heard over the loud chugging of the wind. I can’t describe it any other way than it sounded like demons howling outside. And it just kept blowing and getting louder and louder. Mr. Fix-It and I glanced at each other as the two little girls sobbed in absolute terror. We exchanged an understanding look which indicated that we fully expected for there to be nothing left standing when we opened the door to our underground safe room. It seemed like the wind blew forever.

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When it was obvious that the storm had passed, Mr. Fix-It unbolted the shelter door and peered out. I could see the back of our house. I was astonished. He came back down and whispered to me that all of our big trees were twisted messes and that the fence had been taken out. “Is that ALL??” I thought.

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A piece of twisted tin lay in the side yard and another was wrapped high up in a tree – the remnants of somebody’s tin roof. Debris was scattered across the acreage, but it wasn’t debris from our buildings!! All were standing as pretty as you please. Later, we would find out that our roof was totaled, as was the guttering, and the garage door was damaged along with most of the window screens. But we thought at the time that the tornado must have missed our area after all. We were not prepared for what we would see of our neighbors.

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This is the house and property directly behind us. It’s just a pile of rubble.

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This is the next house to the east. The stick hanging in the foreground is what is left of a power pole.

Everyone crawled out of the shelter and we could hear a woman behind us crying for help. She was trapped in the rubble of her home. People were already there to help get her out. Mr. Fix-It and I moved toward the main road where we saw neighbors gathering. All have acreages and so some were walking from a distance. The Horse Lady and her family saw that there was a hole in their roof and our neighbor across the road showed us that the entire back portion of his roof had been lifted of its shingles to the decking. The neighbor to our south had a big tree in the middle of their house. But it was directly behind us that stunned us. Not a single home was left standing along a two mile stretch beyond our home to the east and for a mile to our south. Everything was either gone or exploded. Miraculously, nobody was hurt or killed. Just a few miles from us, though, two people were not so lucky. They died as their mobile homes were swept up by the tornado and hurled into little heaps of crumpled metal.

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This brand new home was finished just a few months ago. It was totally destroyed and has since been completely bulldozed off of the foundation.

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Power lines were cut, poles were toppled or snapped in half and there was no electricity for miles.

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But not to worry at our place. Mr. Fix-It in all his wisdom had installed a whole house generator this past Fall. It isn’t a huge one, but runs the well pump so that we have water, some lights, the little heat pump at the back of the house, as well as two window units that we have in the attic for emergencies. It also runs the refrigerator and freezer and washing machine. The generator runs on propane and uses very little of the stuff to operate. We have a wonderful Camp Chef propane cook stove and oven that Mr. Fix-It set up in the sun room for me to turn into my temporary kitchen. That home canned bacon, hamburger, chicken and soups sure came in handy!!

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The sunroom can be shut off from the rest of the house by French doors and then the side panels of the back door and the windows can be opened to ventilate the carbon dioxide.

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Devon Energy, the oil company, sent a semi load of supplies that arrived the next morning after the tornado.

In the midst of all of this devastation, a blessing came in the most unexpected way. All of us in this area rubbed shoulders with the American spirit of neighbor helping neighbor from both near and far. I have truly never seen anything like it. Within 24 hours of our disaster, semi-truck loads of supplies, tools, tents, blankets, food, water, gatoraid and all kinds of necessities from private donors came rolling in to the little church that is just to our south. This tiny church became a hub of disaster relief activity without even planning! People just showed up! Trucks of supplies from all over the country brought their donations to that little house of God and the members and neighbors jumped in to work night and day to get things organized for victims.

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U-Hauls, commercial trucks, pickups pulling trailers, flatbeds loaded with heavy equipment and even vans of workers waited in line to either unload their goods or to be assigned to a particular area to help with cleanup. On one day, there were volunteer vehicles from 37 different states!!

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The first morning, canopies were set up in the church parking lot to cover tables where people in the area could register for help, supplies and anything else they might need. This was all privately organized!!

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By day two, the church was overwhelmed with the generosity of Americans across the land. It was something to behold. A system was set up to provide meals for all of the people in the community who were trying to salvage what they could from their homes and Mr. Fix-It and I, as well as my friend and her daughter, jumped in with other teams to deliver those meals house to house. Mr. Fix-It and my friends and I averaged 130 meals a day for dinner or lunch. We also distributed paper towels, toilet paper, fruit, snacks, diapers, wipes, water and gatoraid. We saw other groups simply showing up at each location where homes were either gone or partially standing, just diving in to help with cleanup, tree cutting and stacking and sorting through belongings.

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This particular neighborhood was especially hard hit. We delivered meals here and were amazed at the number of people from the east coast who had immediately loaded up, made the trip to Oklahoma and were already in place with bulldozers, backhoes and tractors, volunteering their time, money and equipment to help these people who had lost so much. We gave lunches to these workers and they were very grateful.

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The church also provided three, hot meals a day for anyone who was able to make it to the church. However, much of our community was stranded at their homes because cars had been totally destroyed or swept away in the winds. The church is continuing to provide meals now, three weeks later.

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And in the middle of it all, the sound of chainsaws, the crackling fires, smell of smoke and the roar of heavy equipment has been our night and day experience. I even heard a chainsaw on our property and was surprised to find my brother-in-law, who had come all the way from Earlsboro, without asking, cutting up our twisted and destroyed trees so that Mr. Fix-It wouldn’t have to do it all himself. You gotta love everyday, plain folk Americans!!! When things need doing, they “gitter done!”

This was shot just over from our place, pointed toward our place, just as the tornado was passing over. It is because storm chasers, like this person, risk their lives that we get these images and information on how better to respond to tornadoes.

Yay America!

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Flat Earth Travelers and Cooking With Children

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

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Ha! I bet you thought that I am going to educate you on people who refuse to accept the fact that this earth on which we live is a three dimensional sphere! Nope. I’m going to talk about travelers who are flat! Really, really flat.

Well, yes…I know. I have been remiss in posting over the past few weeks. But we have been up to our elbows in soap…200 pounds of the stuff. We are preparing for the Central Oklahoma Lavender and Herb Festival at the farm of Country Cottage Primatives on June 1st. If you would like to have a lovely day of classes, vendors and lavender picking, set aside this day and make your way to this beautiful place. Look for our canopy and be sure to introduce yourselves!! Oh! And we did have our April drawing and Janet Black of Weatherford, Oklahoma was the winner of the canning tool set. Thank you for all of the entries. Stay tuned for the next give away.

I have been working on this post for two days. That’s ridiculous. But I had it nearly finished yesterday, hit ‘save draft’ and instead of saving my draft, it got wiped out!! All of it!! There was some glitch that I have not figured out. It happened again this morning. I hit save again and it said, “You do not have permission to edit this document” and, “kerplooey!” everything was gone. I came very close to losing my normally pretty even temper with a shoe through the computer screen. But I didn’t and so third time is charm.

But back to Flat People…Facebook is awesome. There were so many people about whom I have wondered over the years, having lost touch with them for as many as 45 years. Facebook has put me in touch with those wonderful people, letting me see what they look like, what they are doing, what accomplishments they’ve made, their families and it has given me a chance to rekindle old relationships. One of those people, a former high school friend and classmate, Carol, contacted me and told me about a geography project in which her 8 year old granddaughter, Ali, was participating. The students were sending a paper doll, drawn by each student, out to as many people as they could find to be photographed at locations that would introduce the students to new and wonderful places. The doll’s name is Flat Stacy.

Mr. Fix-It and I volunteered to take Flat Stacy on our 2000 mile trip recently. It meant that we would stop along the way and take pictures of Flat Stacy in front of places of interest that we thought would be useful to the class. Now, there is nothing like watching the looks on people’s faces as a gray haired woman happily slaps a laminated, cut-out paper person that has been created by an 8 year old, up against some landmark to then step back and shoot pictures with a pretty nice camera. I figure that they wrote me off as some demented older person. But there WAS one place where a couple of young, college-age girls bounced up to ask, “That’s one of those flat people projects, isn’t it?! We did that when we were in school!” They hadn’t been out of school long enough to forget those kinds of things!! I do wonder, though, if they thought that I was somehow still in the third grade!!

Mr. Fix-It joined into the project with gusto. Normally, ready to drive without stopping until bladders are screaming for mercy, he would see a sign and say, “Heh! That looks like a good place for a Flat Stacy picture!” and we would detour from our designated route to take in a site, complete with pictures to prove it. I just love that man. Anyhow, I thought that I would share with you just a few of the many places that we visited on Flat Stacy’s behalf.

And Carol also sent me a recipe, to try, that her children, grandchildren and their friends brag about and can’t wait to eat when they are at her home. My granddaughter and I had a cooking day and tried these delicious treats so the recipe is posted below.

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We stopped in Tupelo, Mississippi to visit the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Very impressive. Flat Stacy had her picture made with the “King” in front of the Tupelo City Hall.

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Flat Stacy looked for the checkered flag at Talladega International Speedway in Alabama. I looked for Ricky Bobby.

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In Newnan, Georgia, we found Flat Stacy’s store – or, at least it SAID it was her store! She was kinda dwarfed by the structure.

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Outside of Wilmore, Kentucky, Flat Stacy had her picture made at Shaker Town, in front of a rock fence that was built before the Civil War.

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Our little, long-haired dachshund, Ellie, was Flat Stacy’s traveling companion. Unfortunately, Ellie wasn’t feeling very good on this trip and when we got back and her to the vet, we were sad to find out that she is suffering from congestive heart failure. She is too young for that – just 8 years old. We are treating her with natural remedies and prescription medication to help her quality of life. We want to keep her around for a long time because she is such a joy in our life!

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Near Mitchellville, Tennessee, Mr. Fix-It spotted these flat people who were just like Flat Stacy! In doing the research to find out about this sculpture, I found that the state of Tennessee has commissioned artists to do sculptures for each of the welcome stations. It just so happens that this one of the flat people was done by my former drawing professor at MTSU, Phillip Vanderweg! Small world.

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Of course, we had to get a picture of Flat Stacy in Oklahoma and what better place than in front of the only working oil well in the United States that is located on the grounds of a capitol building. Our beautiful capitol building in Oklahoma City is in the background.

Those are just a few of the pictures that we took. What a fun way to make a trip! And according to Carol, Flat Stacy went as far as Afghanistan for Ali!

Here is Carol’s great cookie recipe for you to try. They are light, crisp and buttery.

Meme Carol’s Tea Cakes

1 cup butter
1 cup oil (I used coconut oil)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
4-5 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla

Print Recipe

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Now would be a good time to introduce our newest product: Bakewell Cream. I was actually introduced to Bakewell Cream way back in the 70′s in Maine but had not used it since because it is not available around here. Now I can have it!! Yay. It is the most wonderful baking Cream of Tartar that makes the most incredible biscuits. I have tossed baking powder and use the Bakewell Cream with soda and oh my….You can find it at our shopping page.

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My granddaughter, Miss Peachy Pie, got her first cooking lesson, complete with her own “Li’l Cook” apron.” Typically, the batter wound up in her hair.
Cream butter and oil with sugar and eggs.
Sift flour, salt, soda and cream of tartar.
Stir into creamed mixture, add vanilla and mix well.

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My granddaughter “helped” put the dough balls on the baking sheet. If you are wondering why I cut faces in pictures – after the photo of my mother got stolen and used for unsavory purposes, I have ceased to show the faces that can be photoshopped and misused!

Place small balls of dough on cookie sheet.
Flatten each with a small flat bottom glass dipped in sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
(Do not grease pan!)

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Yep, they are TAAASTY! Miss Peachy Pie loved them.

Happy Traveling! Or Cooking!

Or Both!

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