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




New Giveaway And A Prepper Reality

Monday, March 14th, 2016







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It is long past time for a giveaway. How about a ‘Baking Giveaway’? We have a set of two, brand new square cake pans that are nice and smooth and ready for somebody’s favorite cake recipe. This giveaway will go through March 31st. Just leave a comment in the comment section of this post and any upcoming posts and your name and email address will automatically go into the drawing. Only one comment per post will qualify for entry. So, enter away!!


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OK. Now, I have to tell you our tornado shelter story, for those of you prepared for any event. And just know, Mr. Fix-It was not happy.


Being the prepared one in the family, (I was a Girl Scout all the way through Senior Scouts, don’t you know?) I put together a backpack filled with “necessities” – you know, a change of clothes for each of us, medications, a first aid kit, toilet paper and etc. I also include a bag of M&Ms, dried fruit and nuts. Oh. And a deck of cards. You NEVER know when you might need a deck of cards. This big bag sits by the back door, ready to grab as we vamoose out the door to head to the shelter at the sound of the sirens during tornado season. .


Back in the fall, we had a new, larger shelter installed and we feel like regular gophers. It is a flat-top job that drops 8 feet underground and is big enough for several cots so that we can sleep down there during a long night. There are also folding chairs, a table, shelves and various and sundry emergency paraphernalia like lamps, a radio and paper towels. The door to the cellar is flush with the concrete top at ground level and lifts open to reveal a long set of narrow, metal steps to descend into our “fraidy hole” and they are quite a bit steeper than our old, small shelter. Since you already know about my lack of grace and poise, I’m still waiting for the outside handrail to be installed so that I don’t have to slide down each step on my butt. Heh! It’s a long, long jump to that concrete floor there, I’ll have you know!!


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The truck arrived with the shelter in two pieces – top and bottom



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We had already had the hole prepared ahead of time



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The bottom half was lowered in first, edges were covered with really goopy glue and the top half came down on top of it.





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The surface of the shelter is incorporated into the porch of our new building being built. Unlike the door to the old shelter, the door is flush against the surface of the porch.



Now, prior to getting the new shelter furnished, all of our emergency stuff was still in the old, small cellar. It isn’t as fancy as the new one and is drastically smaller.


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This is the old shelter. Drastically smaller, not as deep and slightly above ground.



Instead of the nice, large folding chairs we have in the new place, we’ve always had some buckets of grains (you know I grind the grains to make the flour to mix the bread that MB builds). The coolness of the shelter offered a nice place for storage. The buckets were handy for putting a board across to make a bench to sit on. When I needed to get grain, I just lifted up the board and pulled off a lid to whichever type I needed. Besides our bench sitting arrangement, we also had a portable fan, a blanket that zips into a cushion, a couple of small, wooden folding chairs for extra occupants, lanterns, LED lights and radios.


With tornado season having started March 1st, this past weekend we decided that we had better get everything out of the little cellar to move to the big cellar to prepare for this year’s possibilities. Soooooo, it appears, that stupid me forgot to bring up my famous emergency backpack last June after our last trip to the “fraidy hole”. It has been sitting down there all Summer, Fall and most of the Winter. And, evidently, some little field mice were tired of being bopped on the head by Little Bunny Fu-Fu, who lives under the deck, and, were hypnotically lured by the fragrance of hot, melted chocolate M&Ms (they may not melt in your hand, but there must be a caveat about backpacks in the summer). They chewed a hole through the screen on the cellar ventilation turbine and dropped their little vermin bodies onto the shelf that held our “emergency” equipment. They must have had a jolly time sliding down the metal posts of the shelving to the “bench” below to a feast of chocolate, dried fruit and mixed nuts. I bet you didn’t know that mice are crazier about chocolate than even you are!!


So, those uninvited critters must have had a blast because not only did they tear up the backpack and everything in it, but having full bellies, they then tore into the package of 8 rolls of paper towels. They chewed, burrowed and chewed some more to make nests in order to have babies and then to raise those little tikes to make more nests to make grandbabies and great-grandbabies. There must have been ten generations because the entire floor of the cellar was covered in mouse droppings and urine….all the way to the corners. EVERYTHING was covered. And they messed all over the shelving, the radios, the lanterns, the fan, the wooden plank and even the buckets.

As we stared at the total destruction before us, Mr. Fix-It muttered to me how insanely stupid it was to have an emergency backpack with M&Ms, dried fruit and nuts. He wanted to know exactly why I felt the need to have such a backpack. I meekly pointed out so many of our neighbors who, two years ago in the May 19th tornado, had their homes totally destroyed – nothing left, no clothes, no food, no meds, no nothing. We had been very fortunate. In a case like that, my backpack would at least keep us from being naked and, I smiled, we could always stay entertained with the cards. He was not amused.

Mr. Fix-It donned a mask so he wouldn’t catch Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome which I have no idea what it is or what it does. He put on tall, rubber boots and rubber gloves and headed down into the abandoned concrete mouse mansion. He dragged everything out, throwing away what could not be salvaged and stacking what I was to scrub with bleach water and soap. For hours I scrubbed items, sprayed them down, dried them off and then put them into the direct sun, while he continued carrying things up the stairs to me. What items I could throw into the washing machine, I did so in hot bleach water. The backpack was a total loss and was tossed in the trash – clothes and all. Evidently, the rodents had gotten tired of living in filth because we did not find one, single animal, although we gingerly pulled everything apart, fully expecting to be startled by an escaping mouse. Finally, Mr. Fix-It got the shop-vac and sucked up anything loose, tossing the filter when he finished. Next, the floor, walls and ceiling of the cellar were scrubbed with bleach water and soap. We left the door opened the rest of the day to dry the shelter out and crawled to the house, exhausted.

So, the old cellar, which is in like new condition (if nobody knows about its recent inhabitants) is now clean and ready to be dug out to hopefully go to the daughter’s family backyard. And I have my new, big cellar all ready to have a tornado party. Oh yes, and for that party, I AM putting together a new backpack with a change of clothes, a first aid kit, meds, a bag of M&Ms, dried fruits and mixed nuts…and a deck of cards. I might even add the game, Taboo. But I won’t be leaving it in the shelter, ever again. Heh heh.




Happy, Safe Tornado Season!



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MB
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Not Old Yeller – A Dog Story With A Happy Ending!

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016







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Not Old Yeller – A Dog


Story With A Happy


Ending!







Hi y’all! Hope your new year of 2016 has started with a bang and that the cold weather has made you want to create something warm and wonderful in your kitchens! It is hot tea and muffins weather for sure!!




I thought that I would tell you a really happy story – one that I hope will encourage somebody out there with a similar situation. It’s about a dog. Yep…a good ol’ dog story.


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No, this isn’t a dog. I know. This is Sway



I haven’t talked much about our menagerie of pets here at our Okie digs, but we seem to be animal magnets for other people’s animals. We inherited a cat, named Sway, from a newly married friend of the daughter’s way back around 2005 when the new hubby decided he hated cats. Of course, we were assured, “If you’ll only take him for a week, we’ll find him a home.” I don’t think that children, adult ones included, have any concept of time. Really.


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And then, of course, we have our precious Ellie, who ran in front of our car when we were on a trip to visit friends. We almost hit her and she was so very little (around 12 weeks old) and pitiful that we stopped, took her to the house from whose yard she bolted, only to be told that she had been dumped a half hour previously. She was so covered in fleas that it was like her skin moved and she was so thin and dehydrated that we were not sure she would make it. She had short hair on her body, but her tail and ears had long hair. We determined that she was a purebred, long-haired dachshund – probably from a puppy mill – but that because she had such an atrocious overbite, she had been dumped as unusable – unbreedable. We drove all the way back to Oklahoma City with this creature in a box and on arriving at home, dumped her into a tub of warm water, flea soap and oils. We washed her three times in fresh water and soap. She became a beautiful dog and has been the joy of our lives. She is in her waning years, with heart trouble, but is still a doll.


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Ellie would be show dog material except for her overbite!!



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And then, a year ago, along came Mustard. Mustard is a very miniature short-haired dachshund who jumped into my car one day, in a busy intersection. He was running back and forth between cars, looking up into the windows as if looking for his owners. I finally found his owners, after canvasing the neighborhood for hours but they informed me that they didn’t really want him and that their pit bulls didn’t want him either. Mr. Fix-It was NOT amused when I showed up with another scared, little dog but as is always the case, he and Mr. Mustard are inseparable.


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No task, including painting trim, is easy with such a needy dog!!



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Belle, in the best of health this past summer



Finally, there is Blue Belle – better known as Belle. Belle, a blue heeler/Catahoula Leopard mix is “Sir Flying Ace’s” dog. When he and “Amelia Air-Heart” married, they could not have a dog where they lived and so we inherited Belle for the time being. She is getting older – around 10 years old – and is slowing down. There is a feeling of extra responsibility when taking care of someone else’s dog. Kinda like taking care of your grandchildren!!

So, anyway, when Mr. Mustard bounced off of the couch one night, right onto Belle’s back, causing Belle to literally let out a scream, there were definitely feelings of consternation on the part of me and Mr. Fix-It. But after Mr. Fix-It left the next day for a week in Houston and I tried to get Belle out of her kennel for her morning constitutionals, the feeling changed to horror. Belle was paralyzed from behind her shoulders down. She could pull herself forward on her front legs, but her back legs dragged behind her dead and useless. I couldn’t believe it and immediately called the vet. I carried this 40 lb dog, by myself and on a bum ankle, into the vet and cried when I was told that she would not get better. According to the x-ray, she had two ruptured discs at the top of her spine. Without a $5000 surgery, that might not even work, she would have to be put down. I took her home and spent the next few days carrying her outside and manually helping her to use the bathroom, then laid her on a mat in the dining room and administered muscle relaxers and pain meds to see if maybe, by some miracle she would get better. She was eating and drinking great but I could tell that her kidneys and intestines were starting to shut down. I called my son and asked what to do. He said to do whatever I had to. Mr. Fix-It wanted to come home, but had meetings and I insisted that he stay put. By Thursday morning, Belle was worse, and I was resigned to having to put her down. However, acting on a suggestion from a close friend, I called a chiropractor in a neighboring town to see if he ever had worked on dogs like this.

Dr. Hanson was totally positive. He told me to have Belle sedated and muzzled and to bring her up that night, along with x-rays. I carried Belle into the office, among patients who had evidently been told the story. Everyone was so supportive and cooed over Blue Belle, who isn’t really a very friendly dog to strangers!! (she’s a blue heeler, don’t you know!) And by this time, trust me, I had developed some muscles!! Dr. Hanson viewed the x-rays and said that no, there were no ruptured discs, they had misread the x-rays, but that there was a disc down by the hips that was rotated almost to upside down. He showed it to me and said, “I can fix this.” He was very aggressive at working on her spine and she squalled. I was told to bring her back the next evening, which was a Friday.

On Saturday, Mr. Fix-It arrived home and I had carried Belle out into the sun to warm and in hopes that she might go to the bathroom while lying in the grass. As we were talking, I looked out and Belle was standing at the foot of the steps, looking up at me through the windows as if to say, “You gonna come get me?” I squealed, “She’s standing up !!!!” Mr. Fix-It had not seen her at her worst and so I’m not sure that he quite understood the miracle that I was witnessing but I ran out and gently hugged that dog. She simply stood there and did not move, but by jove, she was standing. Mr. Fix-It carried her in and put her back onto her pad.


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Still in a little pain



After a total of 6 sessions at the chiropractor, at $35 per session, Belle was running outside. She could wag her stump of a tail and all of her bodily functions were completely back in sync. And she is still running a month later. The chiropractor said that we would need to watch her and if she starts to limp to bring her in for an adjustment every so often. We have told Sir Flying Ace to find a chiropractor who will work on dogs down in his area just in case. There are bunches.


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Today, Belle surveys her domain with pride and legs that work!



So this is to encourage you to try chiropractic on your paralyzed pets BEFORE you make such a serious decision to have them put down. I can’t say enough how much we appreciate Dr. Hanson’s efforts. Pretty awesome!!!


Happy Barking!



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MB
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Because Mama Can

Saturday, July 11th, 2015







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The Best Laid Plans

of Mice and Men

and Wedding Planners





Well, we did it. We got the boy married off. Sir Flying Ace and his precious Miss AirHeart tied the knot to fly the friendly skies, united. The wedding was beautiful. The venue was breath-taking and the rain was pouring right up until 30 minutes before the outdoor service with beautiful weather until rain returned just as the guests started leaving. God is gracious.


And THEN there was the rehearsal dinner. That was assigned to me and Mr. Fix-It. We were supposed to put together a Texas Bar-B-Q shindig, at the request of Sir Flying Ace, from 9 hours away and in a venue never seen before – actually to be seen, for the first time, on the morning of the day of the dinner. Piece of cake, right? Wedding cake, that is.


Well, anyone who knows me knows that I love to put together an event. I love designing the invitations, making the favors, coming up with decorations, planning the menu – all of the creative things that go into making a memory. Getting it served and dealing with the chaos? Not so much. But I was a woman with a mission and for 3 ½ months, I spent night and day making notes, making lists, sewing, gluing, designing, printing and on and on. It was so much fun. Putting the centerpieces together was a blast. I even made the stands for the airplanes by cutting Plexiglas and then bending it with my curling iron to form these stands on which the airplanes could be hot glued. We were not allowed to bring any glass to the dinner venue, so everything had to be paper, plastic or metal. The candle holders were sheets of frosted Plexiglas, glued together and filled with iridescent beads to hold LED tea lights. The surface for each centerpiece was a red charger from Hobby Lobby, topped with a doily, blue bonnets and greenery.


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The Centerpieces



Because all this was occurring in a small town and because I was not familiar with the restaurants – what ones there were – and because I love to bite off more than I can chew, (no pun intended) I came up with the brilliant idea to smoke turkeys and hams and purchase smoked briskets to freeze ahead of time and then cart down to Texas to heat in wonderful, roasters that would double as serving stations. I got all the fixin’s for “from scratch” baked beans – three gallons of them – cole slaw, chips, all of the condiments and sauces, hors d’oeuvres , and desserts and all was packed into carefully labeled boxes to be stacked in various vehicles for transport. I was on an organized roll.


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The Drink Table



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We Used Cast Iron For Serving Dishes



But you know that poem by Robert Burns about the little mouse and best-laid plans? Yeah, I was the mouse. The night of the party, the tables were set, with favor boxes placed in a row down the center of each one, burlap banners were hung with bows and the serving tables were cute as could be.


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I was dripping in sweat with hair plastered to my head, but planning on hitting the shower within a few minutes. And then, it happened. An hour before guest arrivals, my friend, Deborah, hurried up to tell me, in hushed tones and through gritted teeth, that none of the food was cooked. None of the roasters were hot. The crock pot with cheese sauce wasn’t even warm. She and a couple of other friends were rushing from one roaster to the next, moving them to plug them into different outlets, only to find that none of the outlets worked. The beautiful, expensive venue was wired so badly that it would not even support the crockpot. Every electrical outlet would blow just as soon as anything was plugged into it. No food. Nothing but cole slaw, potato chips, hors d’oeuvres and dessert.


Now, I COULD tell you that I, in my calm and organized manner, took all in stride and barked orders, totally in control of the situation. Nahhhh. I grabbed my cell phone, saw that I had NO service, and began walking up a hill to try to gain service, all the while punching buttons to reach Mr. Fix-It. The longer I walked, no – limped, the more I gulped for air, probably hyperventilating. Finally, I got hold of my hubby. Now, I COULD tell you that I calmly explained the situation to him so that we could reason a solution together. However, I probably should admit that when I heard his voice, the tears rolled down my sweaty cheeks and I wailed, “We HAVE no food!!! We have 40 to 50 people coming in 30 minutes and we HAVE no food!!!!” I hiccupped. He, being the typical man, responded, “What do you MEAN we HAVE no food? What was all that junk we drove with for eight hours??” I explained and then, in a matter of seconds, a plan began to form in my racing mind.


That morning, at the HEB Grocery Store, truly the establishment that gives reason why all should move to South Texas, there had been a sign advertising a shrimp and crawfish boil for the day. It would last from 11am until 6 pm. I looked at the time. It was 4:45. I breathlessly cried, “Shrimp!! Get some shrimp at the stand at the grocery store. See if they have enough for us to buy plenty. And get their corn-on-the cob too!” Mr. Fix-It got very quiet as he calculated what that was going to cost him and then asked, “How much? How much shrimp?”


I told you that my mind was a-whir. I told you that I was not calm. I told you that I was out of breath and had tendrils of hair clinging to my neck, face and forehead. That is my excuse, because instead of saying, “Enough for 40 or 50 people.” I said, “Enough for 40 or 50 POUNDS.” Oh yes. I did. And being the obedient, dutiful husband that he is, Mr. Fix-It went to the booth, explained the situation and spent $400 on 40 lbs. of freshly-caught and steamed gulf shrimp….a pound per person.


I, on the other hand, had only enough time to run into the venue restrooms and put my entire head under the faucet of the sink, where I let cold water run over hair and skin alike. I took an extra shirt and used it as a towel, and then dried my hair under the hand dryer. Fortunately I had a change of clothes and makeup with me, as well, and so, I pulled my hair up into a ponytail, donned fresh clothes and makeup and pretended to be as cool as a cucumber. The shrimp was a hit and fun was had by all and most were none the wiser.


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The Joshua Springs Park and Preserve in the Texas Hill Country, venue for the wedding and dinner



What, do you ask, did we do with all of the food? Two turkey breasts, two full hams, three briskets, 20 lbs of shrimp and three gallons of baked beans? Well, we got dry ice and took all of it home where I canned 21 pints of ham, 21 pints of beans and 14 pints of turkey and froze three briskets, as well as 20 lbs of shrimp in 2 lb bags. And in the next several posts, I’ll show you some recipes for that canned meat.


Oh. And did I tell you that there WAS a wedding?


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Happy ‘Flying’ By The Seat Of


Your Pants!



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MB
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The More Things Change…And All That


Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

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It’s been a long time since last Fall, I know. And a lot of things have happened – busy, busy, busy. Lots of changes and lots of work but the time away from the blog has been good for me. I’ve really focused on getting my ankle and feet back as normal as possible, with therapy, exercises and swimming. Yep, swimming. I am a regular Esther Williams now – well – minus the pink, sparkly swimsuit, fountains, lighted swings, rings of fire and synchronized swimmers. My swimsuit is more like something from the 1920s, including the skirt and the colors, white and black. I haven’t included the striped tights or the big hair bow, but I’m close. I’m taking a water aerobics class at the local college and doing free swims on top of that. The summer Olympics are the next step. I just haven’t been able to find a coach who believes my hair is platinum blonde and not gray.


But most exciting of all – we have a wedding coming up in just a few months – Sir Flying Ace is getting married! And the coolest thing is that he’s bringing into the family our own Ms Amelia Air-Heart – a lady pilot and aviation mechanic who is beautiful, smart and who has her own wrench with which to handle Sir Flying Ace when he gets out of line. Wish I’d thought of that. We are very excited.


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Basically, however, things have been pretty normal and I have continued down the same path of lunacy which has always been my life. An incident a few days ago illustrates this fact. First, I’ll set up the background. Mr. Fix-It and I are diligently trying to lose weight. I am diligent. He’s a man. That means that I struggle daily to count my calories, do my exercises, record every drop of water that goes into my mouth and faithfully weigh every Monday to note that I’ve gained another pound. Mr. Fix-It, on the other hand, has cut out Sonic Chocolate or Strawberry shakes and has lost 10 lbs in the same amount of time. I’m just wondering why, if we women came from a man’s rib, we didn’t get that male characteristic to go with it – the one that allows men to eat a foot-long sandwich and a Krispy Kreme donut and lose 2 pounds in one afternoon.


Anyway, we’ve been on this long, calorie restricted journey and so the other night a special salad sounded really yummy. We had some leftover, grilled, New York Strip steak, so I decided to create a salad of mixed greens, iceberg lettuce, cucumbers and crumbled blue cheese and low-calorie raspberry-pecan dressing topped with sugared pecans and sliced New York Strip steak.


I needed to sugar the pecans and so added a tbsp. of butter to a stainless skillet, melted the butter and tossed whole pecans in the butter until coated. Then I sprinkled a mere 1 tsp of sugar over the pecans and continually stirred and turned until a caramelized coating formed. Ever the taste tester, I decided that I needed to know if I had used enough sugar and put a little of the caramel onto a spoon. I vigorously blew on the liquid but as I did so, it being slippery with butter, slid off the spoon right onto my lower lip – on the inside AND the outside. I dropped the spoon and let out an, “Oh! Oh!” and tried to remove the caramelized sugar with my tongue. The sugar had hardened and adhered to my lip, still burning through soft layers of skin to the point that I was terribly afraid I would have what looked like a lip piercing gone horribly wrong. I stuck my face under the kitchen faucet and poured cold water over my mouth. The burning was excruciating.


It was then that I remembered ice. Ice! My mother always used ice on a burn. So I grabbed a piece of ice out of the icemaker and shoved it between my lips, making sure that it was right on the burn….where it stuck…frozen to my skin and adding burn onto burn while adhering to my top lip too. I couldn’t open my mouth. Both lips were stuck to the ice, frozen like Flick’s tongue to the flagpole in ‘A Christmas Story’. Now I was really in pain and, though I was by myself in the kitchen, I moaned and squealed as I raced back to the sink and back under the solid stream of water coming out of the faucet. The ice came off, but the inside and outside of my bottom lip were severely burned and now swelling. When you look like you took a left punch to the jaw, how do you tell people that in reality you got your lips stuck together with ice??


So as you can see, nothing has really changed. Except that I AM back and ready to roll up my sleeves to see what more damage I can do. It’s a gorgeous Spring at the Oklahoma Pastry Cloth™ digs and the lilacs are in full bloom. The garden is in, asparagus is up and we’re just waiting on okra planting weather. Hope you are having as beautiful a Spring as we Okies are!


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I just have to show you what we’re doing here in our shop. Weddings seem to be teeming ’round here and brides are thinking “hostess” and “thank you” gifts. We are putting together some pretty cute ones with our Prairie Blessings Soaps and our new body cream, totally custom made to the brides’ specifications. This particular bride requested everything be Lavender and we gladly obliged. We pretty much pull off any fragrance desired and even play around to create something new if requested. Keep us in mind for your next really, really special occasion or gift needs. For custom orders, just give a shout to 405-275-5639 or email me at oklahomapastrycloth@oklahomapastrycloth.com.


Happy April!!



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MB





Veggie Popcorn – Is That Redundant?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014







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I Came. I Saw. I Ate It!





I grew up appreciating a good meal. And I don’t mean a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with potato chips. I mean a filet mignon at La Vendon in Quebec or an authentic meal of Sukiyaki (pronounce Ski-yah-kee) prepared by one of the international students who stayed with us from time-to-time. While others my age were buying Villager clothes (remember those?), sporting around in new Corvettes and swooning over the latest Beatles album, I was being dragged all over the country in, first, a 1959 Nash Rambler station wagon, then a ’66 blue Plymouth station wagon (with a third seat that faced backwards! THAT was safe in a rear end collision) and then a ’71 Plymouth Satellite wagon, all of which could house two adults and four girls, plus suitcases, make-up cases, games, food, drinks, pillows, a grill and maps in relative comfort if we all pretended hard enough, all the while trying new foods like we were searching for gold treasure. In high school, while friends showed off their new Bass Weejun loafers, I, in my Buster Browns, wanted to yell, “Yeah? Well, WE just got a crate of live lobsters in from Maine and they are still waving their claws!” It was all about priorities: Appearance or stomach – decisions, decisions.


And so, I have had a love affair with food that has been passed down from generation to generation (just look at my family cookbook at the website) and which has made it very difficult, as I grow older, to face the fact that ‘food’ and ‘older’ don’t necessarily mesh well. Having a thyroid condition hasn’t helped matters, either, and never mind that aerobics or walking is out of the question at this stage of two broken feet!! All of a sudden, I’ve had to start paying attention to Dr. Oz’s latest diet or researching the Paleo diet, the Fungus Connection, and the South Beach diet, Weight Watchers and, my favorite, Sparkpeople.com, in order to look forward to my twilight years as something slightly smaller than a Beluga Whale. In my research, I have discovered that a Boca Burger has nothing to do with a tasty treat at the sunny beaches of Boca Raton, Florida (can we say, “Ick?”) and that a low-fat, protein shake, no matter how masked by strawberry or chocolate flavoring, is still disgustingly similar to a barium cocktail at your local gastroenterologist. While I love a salad, a perpetual menu of spinach, kale, lettuce and tomatoes renders me boringly unable to carry on a conversation about world affairs because I’m too busy visualizing a sirloin steak with mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes.


I have portion control down to a science – digital scale and all. I’m so efficient that if we eat out, I can divide my meal into halves or thirds or fourths and know exactly how many calories I’m NOT getting to enjoy. But with all of my careful calorie counting, organic and all-natural food purchasing, fat/carbohydrate/protein calculating and the purposeful attempt to drown myself in gallons of filtered water (I swear that when I walk, I sound like the tide rolling in at Boca Raton, Florida) I haven’t been able to lose a single pound. In fact, I’ve gained a few more. And I have a bigger problem. I like to snack. Life is not fair.


Four weeks ago, my endocrinologist made a suggestion to try something called the 5/2 Fast. She told me to research it and that she thought it might jump-start my metabolism. I started it three weeks ago and I have to admit that I am feeling really good. AND I have lost three pounds. The kicker is that I’m not having to focus so much on my daily menu. That is really, really, really nice. On Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, I eat normal meals of 1250 to 1500 calories per day (totally lenient span there) and then on Tuesday and Thursday I do a semi-fast of 500 calories per day. That really isn’t as hard as you would think. On those two days, for breakfast, I have one egg, one piece of bacon and a half a piece of toast. For lunch I have an apple or orange and for dinner I have 3 oz of baked or grilled chicken, all of the steamed veggies I want and a small potato or 1/4 cup of mashed potatoes or 1/4 cup of rice. Knowing that I get to have normal food the next day, makes my ‘days of want’ easy to get through! My head feels clearer, although Mr. Fix-It may tell you THAT’S all in my imagination, and my insides feel better too. Really.


As I said, I like to snack and so on my days of ‘fasting’ I’ve come up with a ‘snack’ that I can tolerate. I like crunchy stuff but popcorn, Cheetos and Cracker Jacks just don’t qualify as diet friendly foods. So, I’ve started cutting up celery, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and any other veggie I have on hand and mix those pieces together in a closeable refrigerator dish.


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Then, I add 1 tsp to 1 tbsp. of a dry dressing mix, like Hidden Valley Ranch, and toss it in with the veggies. I taste to see how much I want. Just a little is needed because as the mixture sits, it absorbs the flavor.


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I keep this “Veggie Popcorn” (alright, I realize that popcorn IS a vegetable, but, heh) in the frig and when I get the ‘munchies’, I put some into a bowl or bag and carry it around with me. As great as I was at pretending that I was comfortable, all those years ago and packed into a car like a sardine, I’m still pretty good at pretending I’m snacking too!! I’ll keep you posted on how the 5/2 diet is working. Hopefully, by next time, I’ll be on the cover of Vogue in a svelt Villager dress and Bass Weejun loafers.



Happy Calorie Counting!



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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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Help?!


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



Ingredients:


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






Directions:


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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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