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Fall Edition 2019

Inside

 Illinois River Valley home features stunning views  Gray family offers cottages on Fort Gibson Lake  Lake Eufaula draws builder away from winter weather

MUSKOGEE muskogeephoenix.com Green Country Living

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Green Country Living

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Fall Edition 2019 Issue 53

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64 Featured Homes

Inside

6 Young

52 Art of the Matter

Couple builds home on Illinois River Valley.

16 Swanner Collectibles, antiques and heirlooms on display in home.

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Gray Family rents lake home, cottage to visitors.

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Parry Lake home sports views, vistas.

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Riggs Couple finds Oklahoma area perfect for retirement.

Publisher Dale Brendel Editor Elizabeth Ridenour Contributing editor Angela Jackson Layout & Design Josh Cagle WRITERS Melony Carey, Heather Ezell, Leilani Roberts Ott, Cathy Spaulding PHOTOGRAPHERS Mandy Corbell, Tony Corbell, Chesley Oxendine, Cathy Spaulding ADVERTISING Director Marci Diaz Apple ADVERTISING SALES Krysta Aich, Kris Hight, Angela Jackson, Therese Lewis Green Country Living is published by the Muskogee Phoenix. Contents of the magazine are by the Muskogee Phoenix. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior consent of the Muskogee Phoenix. Green Country Living, P.O. Box 1968, Muskogee OK 74402. email eridenour@muskogeephoenix.com - Editorial: (918) 684-2929 Advertising and distribution: (918) 684-2804

O n t h e C over

Patricia Ridge Bradley shares stories about her passion for art and career path.

Fall Edition 2019

58 Scene & Be Seen

Riggs home built to escape flooding of Houston area.

Chat, hang out, relax and smile because you’re on camera.

64 Cook’s Pantry 9-year-old Turner Ketcham gives a mouth-watering look into his domain.

70 Wonderful Wine Elbows off the table in this refresher course into the forgotten art of dining etiquette.

INSIDE

 Illinois River Valley home features stunning views  Gray family offers cottages on Fort Gibson Lake  Lake Eufaula draws builder away from winter weather

Photo by Mandy Corbell

MUSKOGEE muskogeephoenix.com Green Country Living

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Young

Home built with

views in mind

5-acre lot offers spectacular view of Illinois River Valley

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aura Young loves what she sees when she sits on her back deck in the morning. Coffee in hand, she watches the sun rise over the Illinois River Valley, fog from Lake Tenkiller rises

and clears. “My favorite time is to get up in the morning and the fog clears,” she said. “My husband found the lot years ago, and he knew the views would be spectacular with the river and the lake back there.”

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos by Mandy Corbell

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The Tyson and Laura Young home looks like a sweeping ranch home from the front. But the back yard features three stories of woodsy hillside views.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Young

Laura and Tyson Young built their 5,005-square-foot house on a five-acre lot within city limits. He is from Woodward and she is from Edmond. They were attracted to Tahlequah when Tyson’s brother attended Northeastern State University. “And we just liked the rivers and lakes,” Tyson said. “When the leaves are gone, you can see the Ozark mountain ranges.” The Youngs own Zenith Construction of Tahlequah and a sister company, Homes By Zenith. Tyson said they used an Oregon architect, but Tyson was the general contractor for the house. “We had the property for some time, and we built the home according to the lot,” Laura said. “Once we started we had to do a lot of earth work.” The Youngs and their two daughters, 9-year-old Adele and 4-year-old Wesley, have lived in the house for nearly three years. A series of thick hammer beam trusses support a woodpaneled cathedral ceiling that runs from the front porch, through the living room to the back porch. “They’re heavy. We had to bring a crane to lift them up,” Laura said. Tyson said the trusses came from British Columbia. The solid oak floor features wide 5-inch planks.

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ABOVE: The Young family can watch wildlife and the changing seasons while dining on their deck.

RIGHT: Stairs descend to a sloping backyard.

The back porch extends across the entire house and around the kitchen.


Stone for the living room fireplace came from a nearby quarry.

The spacious living room and breakfast area offer multiple windows to enjoy outdoor greenery.

The fireplace features stone blocks from a Tahlequah area quarry. “We were particular about the stone,” Laura said. “We wanted the right color, kind of a muted earthy color and feel.” A ledge surrounding the fireplace is accented by a solid wood mantel. “The mantel is part of the truss system,” Laura said. “When we brought in

Trusses from British Columbia support a vaulted ceiling from the front entry through to the back porch.

the trusses, we also included a wood truss to add to the mantel.” A bookcase by the fireplace features cabinets that open to reveal a wide screen TV. The kitchen and master bath feature soft pale Ceasarstone countertops, which Laura said are versatile and easy to clean. Tyson said Ceasarstone is like quartz, but

is a harder surface. Laura said she likes the variety the brand offered. “We wanted kind of a concrete look without having to do a concrete countertop,” she said. “This fit pretty well. You get a very smooth look.” Mix-and-match wooden bar stools push up to the kitchen’s broad island,

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Young

Caesarstone countertops offer an easy-to-clean lightness to the kitchen.

A kitchen island offers yards of space for preparing. cleaning and eating.

The family dining area offers nature views from two sides.

which also features a stainless steel farmhouse sink. A moveable faucet over the gas range allows the cook to fill pots there instead of moving them from the sink. The Samsung stainless steel refrigerator/freezer features double doors, a deep freezer on the bottom and a flexible storage drawer with different temperature settings. A cubby beside the refrigerator features a coffee pot, wine chiller and small sink. Laura said the four-chair dining set by the kitchen belonged to her grandmother, “and it was passed down from

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her mother.” A hall leads from the kitchen to a spacious laundry room brimming with cabinets and space to fold clothes. The hall features a half-bath and a mudroom locker for coats and boots. A mother-in-law suite over the garage features a TV area and sleeping area, as well as a full bath. The master suite on the other side of the living room features solid 8-foot white oak doors and a small fireplace. His-andhers walk-in closets feature sliding doors. The master bath features a standalone

tub and a separate shower with a steamer. “Turn a valve and it fills the whole shower with steam,” Tyson said. A broad back porch, held up with 3-inch support columns, extends across the second floor, and swings around the kitchen. The Youngs keep a charcoal grill and a smoker by the porch’s kitchen area. Tyson said he’s most pleased with the outdoor decks. “I think we spend more time on the decks than anything, especially when the leaves fall,” he said. Wide stairs lead down to the girls’


ABOVE: A TV viewing area and packed bookcases are in the Young’s basement.

LEFT: A mother-inlaw suite is above the garage. Laura Young works out of an airy office.

The Young’s master bedroom opens onto a back porch.

Even the master bath offers a look at the outdoors.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Young

A basement area features a fantasyland of play for the young daughters.

ABOVE: Adele’s room is pretty in pink.

BELOW: Wesley’s room features a playful bunk bed with steps.

Laura and Tyson Young enjoy the outdoors with their daughters, Adele, left, and Wesley, right.

realm. “We have a lot of traffic. The girls go up and down,” Laura Young said. “The wider the better.” The daughters’ playroom is a fantasyland with arts and crafts tables and hanging space for princess dresses. Artist Amber Watson painted an abstract mural showing pink and blue trees and snowy mountains. “She based it on our girls’ personality,” Laura said.

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Each girl has her own room. Wesley’s room features a bunk bed with wide steps. Wesley said she likes sleeping on the top. Adele’s pink room features a shelf for all her artwork. She puts a chalkboard under the shelf for plenty of creative use. A third room might become a yoga room, Laura said. French doors open to a backyard. The backyard goes deep into the woods. However, there is open space for

a fire pit. A swing hangs from a tall tree, which Adele said “goes very high.” “And it’s a little dangerous,” she said. “My dad put it up there.” She said she also likes jumping on the trampoline and play with her puppy in the backyard. Tyson said he loves how his daughters are able to run into the woods. The family sees deer, foxes, snakes and a number of wild birds, he said.


Fort Gibson O k l a h o m a ’ s O l d e s t To w n Rich In History

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Fort Gibson O k l a h o m a ’ s O l d e s t To w n

Rich In History

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Fe at u r e d Hom e S wa nner

The Swanners’ broad front porch looks out onto a pond, wildlife and the hills of Camp Gruber.

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Chock-full of

memories Swanner home filled with collectibles, antiques and heirlooms

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erry and Donna Swanner live in a clearing that brims with wildlife. “You can see the turkeys out running,” Donna Swanner said. “The deer, you have to be careful driving down the road. You hear all kinds of critters.”

They also enjoy watching their own horses and donkeys frolic in front of their house. One horse, Jay, wades into the pond and blows bubbles, Donna said. “The donkeys will come right up to the fence,” she said. “If you ever start petting one, you pet them all.”

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos by Mandy Corbell

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Fe at u r e d Hom e S wa nner A colorful mailbox awaits parcels and letters.

The Swanners built their house in 1998 north of Camp Gruber. Terry Swanner, a commercial and residential painter, was the house’s contractor. Donna used to own the Courtyard Bistro. Their front porch extends across the front and around one side. A wicker swing and a wood swing enable the Swanners to see the fauna and flora. Inside, the home brims with collectibles, antiques and heirlooms. “I collect so much stuff, and I’m getting to the point to where I need to start getting rid of a few things, Donna said. White china with delicate blue patterns fill an entry hall hutch Swanner bought from a stainedglass maker. Some pieces come from England, others were found at shops. “But some of these inexpensive ones were my mother’s,” she said. French doors lead to her special study area. A chair and ottoman face a big screen TV. “If I’m watching Hallmark, I sit here. I love this chair,” she said. “I can bring my Bible and come in Donna Swanner sits with her Shih Tzu, Callie.

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Wooden wind chimes add multiple musical tones to the screened back porch.

The Swanners’ back yard features a variety of plants.

A koi pond with stone waterfall adds serenity to the back patio.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e S wa nner

The Swanners can relax in the den, which features a wood hearth and leather furnishings.

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Donna Swanner’s grandfather’s oath of office, signed by “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker, hangs in a special place.

ABOVE: Sun shines on a cozy breakfast area. LEFT: A hutch features heirloom white China with blue patterns. Cherished pieces come from Donna Swanner’s mother.

here, just lay back and study.” The room also features a leopard print chaise lounge. A friend gave her a clock from Australia. Her father built a drop-top desk with a glass display case. Her grandfather’s oath of office, signed by “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker, hangs in a corner. A glass display case features ceramic items and things made by grandchildren.

Square columns frame the dining room entry. Blue patterned plates hang on the maroon walls. A glass hutch, which belonged to Donna’s aunt, displays heirloom china. Donna takes pride in every piece. “My grandmother was born in 1849, and this was her platter, she said. “It’s got a little chip on it.” The dining room table is custom-built. “When the kids come for meals, we

have a place to sit eight in there,” she said. “The family keeps growing.” An antique chopping block in the kitchen dates to 1921 and came from a Gore butcher shop. “There is a sunken spot where they chopped so much meat,” Donna said. The Swanners don’t chop on the block, however. “I set it over here because I don’t use it that much,” she said. “When we have

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Fe at u r e d Hom e S wa nner Christmas or Thanksgiving, and I’m always moving stuff, I always put desserts on it.” The kitchen island features a Whirlpool gas stove with a griddle that can change to a grill. Her parents’ dining room table and a white clad icebox sit in the breakfast area. A spacious utility room features a sink. Swanner said she found the living room’s wood mantel in Wagoner. Callie, a Shih Tzu, has her own pedestal by the leather couch. A guest bedroom features a fourposter bed and a high armoire. “When my grandkids come, this is where they sleep,” Donna said. A teddy bear in a red corner chair was owned by Donna’s mother when cancer rendered her unable to speak. Squeeze the bear’s paw and it sings, “Hello, hello. I love you.” The hall leading to the master bedroom is just big enough to squeeze in a desk. Swanner uses the desk for bills,

The kitchen features a convenient island. The butcher block in the rear dates to the 1920s.

Donna Swanner uses this room to read her Bible and watch Hallmark Channel shows. Her father made the droptop desk.

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The Swanners’ dining room table was custom-built. Prized china is shown against the wall.

computer work and genealogy. An even larger four-poster bed and a Bombay dresser with rounded edges are in the master bedroom. Collectibles from Terry’s sister fill the room. An electric fireplace in the corner keeps the room warm. Even the master bathroom features collectibles and art. Donna said she fell in love with a Little Red Riding Hood picture. She got an old Cupid picture from a McAlester friend. She said she loves the red wallpaper. “I said, ‘As long as it’s not falling off, I’ll never change it,” she said about the wallpaper. Shelf areas surround a whirlpool tub. The bathroom also features hisand-her sinks and a walk-in shower. A screened porch and breezeway connects the house to the garage. Oldstyle screen doors came from Lowe’s, Donna said. A picture of her grandmother’s house, which a friend painted on a lid, hangs on a brick wall. The porch has room for a cast-iron Dutch oven, a grill and smoker, which Terry puts to use.

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A guest bedroom features a fourposter bed and walls full of memories.

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Four wind chimes, including one made of wood, fill the porch with multiple tones. Just outside, a stone waterfall trickles into a fish pond. Flowers, elephant ears, palms, pampas grass and other decorative plants surround a cool patio. One plant is a pencil-thin moringa tree, which a family member got for them. “Back in the Bible, how they picked the moringa to stir the water and make it clear,” Donna said. The backyard features an underground storm shelter. “We built that right after we came here because the storms were getting so bad,” she said. A side flower bed features a bicycle that Donna painted yellow. Terry has an office in a nearby shed, which he built. He also built a barn, as well as a cottage for visiting relatives. A friend now lives in the cottage.


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F e at u r e d H o m e Gr ay

Life on

‘Gray House Farm’ Family shares lake home, cottage to short-term visitors

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unner and Rebekah Gray love their 50-acre spread so much, they’re willing to share. The Grays live in a hillside house overlooking Fort Gibson Lake from its winding east side. They rent a threebedroom lake house and a tiny cottage to short-term visitors. Bunner works in

administration at the Jack C. Montgomery VA Medical Center. Rebekah is a nurse practitioner in Tahlequah. The two recently married, blending her two children with his two children. The oldest son is a freshman at University of Oklahoma. The oldest daughter attends Muskogee High School. The two youngest attend Hulbert.

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos by Mandy Corbell

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Josie and Thomas Gray feed free range chickens behind the Gray family home overlooking Lake Tenkiller. The family also has guineas, ducks, bunnies and bees.

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F e at u r e d H o m e Gr ay

Bunner said he originally used the three-bedroom house as a lake house. “We loved it out here so much we decided to live out here fulltime,” he said. They built a custom fourbedroom, four-bathroom house, using Harris Construction, and moved into it last January. “We found a plan we kind of liked, then we changed it,”

The Gray home sits on five acres east of Lake Tenkiller. The front yard would make a great meadow for bee-attracting flowers.

We wanted to see “everything from the

kitchen, dining room, living room and the master bedroom. — Rebekah Gray

Rebekah said. “We wanted to see everything from the kitchen, dining room, living room and the master bedroom.” Rebekah said the broad front porch is her favorite part of the house. “We like to sit out on the front porch and have porch time,” she said. “We have coffee.” Bunner said the porch offers a panoramic lake view in winter. The property is surrounded in trees during spring, summer

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Bunner, Rebekah, Thomas and Josie Gray embrace the outdoor life at their home overlooking Lake Fort Gibson.


LEFT: A cottage features a screened porch.

RIGHT: Shiplap paneling throughout the house comes from trees on an Arkansas farm.

and fall. He said he plans to plant beeattracting flowers on the sloping front lawn. “Turn it into a meadow, so the bees can have food and we don’t have to mow it as much,” he said. “We have a nice little trail that leads to the lake, and a dock. Our guests have access to it. They can go down there and swim.” The the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns the lakeshore property, he said. The Grays’ chickens, guineas and ducks roam up and down the hill behind the house. A hammock offers a place to rest, and chairs offer a place to sit around a fire pit. The steep backyard also has a hutch with two bunnies and a beehive, where bees make honey. “That’s something we leave our guests,” Bunner said. “We leave them fresh eggs and a little bit of honey.” A small back porch has space for a grill and two smokers. The family picks peaches from a tree and grows squash, tomatoes, peppers and other produce in a small garden. A screened breezeway connects the garage and house. Shiplap paneling in the dining and living rooms and master bedroom comes from trees that Rebekah’s father cut at the family farm in southeast Arkansas.

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F e at u r e d H o m e Gr ay The Grays’ kitchen features a farmhouse sink with hammered copper, along with granite countertops, open shelving and stainless steel appliances.

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Concrete floors provide an easy-to clean base for the dining area, kitchen and living room.

BELOW: The living room features unique pieces including a mantel from a Missouri barn, an old warehouse cart for a coffee table, even a 1960s console stereo.

Bunner said they were going to paint the wood, but her dad didn’t want it painted. The main floor is stained concrete. “It’s so convenient,” Bunner said. “It’s pretty. It’s easy to mop up.” The kitchen features granite countertops and a Kitchen Aid gas range with a steel griddle. A movable faucet above the range allows the cook to fill pots without moving them from the sink.

The farmhouse kitchen sink is made with hammered copper. Open shelves above the granite countertops tidily display glasses, plates and other dinnerware. Bunner said his brother-in-law, Zach Harper, did all the cabinetry, including a vent cover over the kitchen range, bookshelves on each side of the brick fireplace and shelves upstairs. The Grays got their pantry’s blue door

from a flea market on Muskogee’s Main Street, Bunner said. “I tell everybody I’m proud of all our furniture in here,” he said. “Every single thing in this house we bought used. We drove all the way to Mississippi, to Dallas, to Arkansas to buy pieces of furniture. We have a story for every piece of furniture.” Framed Marshall Tucker Band album covers hang on the living room wall

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F e at u r e d H o m e Gr ay

A sun room doubles as a spare bedroom for visiting family.

The Grays rent out a guest house to visitors.

ABOVE: The paneled master bath features a contemporary tub.

LEFT: A tiny guest cottage features a loft.

above a 1960s console stereo. Bunner said he bought the console from a Muskogee High School girls’ soccer coach. Paintings by Bunner’s grandmother, Marbrie Hannis, cover a wall by the stairs. A brick wood-burning fireplace features an iron front. The mantel came from a Missouri barn. An old warehouse cart serves as a coffee table. The master bedroom features a

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leather chair and ottoman. Maps behind the bed show Bunner’s home state of Oklahoma and Rebekah’s home state of Arkansas. The master bathroom features a modern standalone bathtub, plus an old standalone gas heater they found in Muskogee. Rebekah said “my grandmother always had a heater to go in her house.” A separate shower has subway tile up the walls and a built-in nook for

shampoo and soap. Gray said his oldest son stays in a sun room off the living room. The room has windows along two walls, plus its own full bathroom and its own entrance. An inside wall has windows with wood shutters looking into the living room. Bunner said the shutters come from a flea market. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms are upstairs. The youngest son has his small bedroom. The two daughters each


The Grays keep their guest cottage rented through the summer.

have a bedroom with wide dormers and windows overlooking the lake. The older daughter has her own bathroom and two walkin closets. Another upstairs bathroom features a laundry chute that opens into a downstairs laundry closet. The Grays rent their other two houses through VRBO and Airbnb on a property called Gray House Farm. Rebekah said the cottage was rented back-to-back all summer. The cottage features a screened in porch, full bathroom, loft bedroom and corner kitchen. Harris Construction built the three-bedroom, two-bathroom lake house. It features French doors in the living room and a bedroom. There also is an open kitchen and a brick fireplace. The head from an 8-point buck, which Bunner shot, hangs by the fireplace. The broad front porch features Adirondack chairs and a grill.

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F e at u r e d H o m e Gr ay

Your local guide to home improvement ideas, products and services.

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Your local guide to home improvement ideas, products and services.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e PA rry

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Justin and Deb Parry loved the area so much, they built their home on Lake Eufaula to get away from the snowy winter weather of Sioux City, Iowa.

Retiring from

Couple abandons northern snows to build home on Lake Eufaula

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rom “Little House on the Prairie” to “Parade of Homes,” that’s how Justin Parry describes his first experience at remodeling the family home. He and wife, Deb, started their early married life in a 1910 900-squarefoot home in a suburb of Sioux City, Iowa. “We fell in love with

the woodwork and wood floors,” Deb said. That remodel started with her wanting him to screen in the front porch. By the time they were done, it was 3,600 square feet. It is where they raised their family, children Alicia Rosamond, now of Eufaula; Corey Parry, 29, of Iowa; and Paiten Parry, 21, who lives with them and attends nursing school.

By Leilani Roberts Ott • Photos by Mandy Corbell

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Fe at u r e d Hom e PA rry He followed in the footsteps of his grandfathers. One was a welder and the other a builder. He likes to build things, work on cars and loves animals. Justin said when it came time to retire, he didn’t want to start the season in a wetsuit and end in a wetsuit. He wanted sun and a chance for them to have a lake life. The parade continues 30 years later with the house he and Deb built on a hill overlooking Lake Eufaula near the community of Longtown. They are quite the team. He builds it and owns Arclight Builders. She gets a vision with colors and putting things together. They looked at several lakes like Grand and Tenkiller, and lakes around Branson, Missouri, to build their retirement home. Because of a chance meeting to come to the area when their son, Corey, played baseball with Marshalltown Community College, they visited Connors State College in Warner.

Justin and Deb Parry enjoy the outdoor space, even in winter, with an outdoor fireplace.

Some of the boulders on the property were kept when the couple began building their home.

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Justin spent a summer laying the flat rock patio.

The Parrys’s outdoor kitchen has stunning views of the lake.

“It felt comfy here,” Deb said of the area. “We came here to retire from winter.” Their retirement home is stucco in the front and the sides are Hardie concrete. It will not burn. It is 3,400 square feet designed for comfort and low-maintenance. It has two en suites with a bath and full master closets. These have

separate entries. “We built and designed it to stay in the rest of our lives,” Justin said. “It is modern Southwestern, and we laked it up. Deb and I did 90 percent of the building ourselves.” Deb said they love it. The home was built on a shelf rock. They lived in a fifth-wheel travel trailer

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Fe at u r e d Hom e PA rry

ABOVE: Ceilings are 12-feet-tall in the great room, which includes a massive stone fireplace.

LEFT: The couple’s bathroom features a 5-feet-by 9-feet window and has views of the side of the property.

for one year while working on the house. As they cleared the trees on the 2 ½-acre lot to build it in 2011, some boulders were left untouched and provide a ridge in the backyard space. Others were turned up and left like the approximately 15-foot-tall stone that protrudes out of the earth like pieces of art. The house, surrounded by trees, was complete in 2012. The nearest house is five acres away. Justin and Deb built it themselves. They only hired out the concrete work,

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roof and Sheetrock. “He’s a jack of all trades,” Deb said. “He’s good at everything. Building homes is his profession.” They love to entertain and even hosted their daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner. In the back, there is an outdoor kitchen on the first tier. It’s Justin’s favorite area. He enjoys cooking outdoors and seeing the animals like birds, red fox and deer. Their view of where Standing Rock was before Lake Eufaula was

built is captivating. Standing Rock was a stone that stood in the Canadian River as a point of connecting the Cherokee and Choctaw land. When the lake was built, it was covered in water. They play on the lake in their pontoon called “Lucky Enough” and their go-fast boat, an Advantage. The walls outside are colors called desert terra-cotta trim and sand. Rough cedar posts frame the area with colorstamped concrete flooring. Down floating stairs is the deck with a stone fireplace


and pergola. Down more stairs to the ground is the outdoor playground with cornhole and horseshoes. The massive stone patio was designed of flat rock found on the property and purchased stones. “I laid the stone by myself one summer,” she said. Justin said there is about $101,000 worth of concrete used to build the basement and 16 piers used to build the home and basement. It is a 2-by-6 construction screwed together, not nailed, for extra strength, Deb said. “This house isn’t going anywhere,” she said. There is a basement with plenty of room for a safe space. The heat, air and plumbing are under the concrete porch for 1,500 square feet of dry storage. There is a private entry to an en suite on the ground level or basement. It is used for guests. It has ceramic porcelain tile flooring that looks like wood stretching through the space. Running around outside and indoors are Bella, a hound/beagle, and Lily and Gatsby, with unusual spots. They are from a line of Bengal cats bred with a domestic cat and an Asian leopard. Lily is shades of black, white and gray. Gatsby is

ABOVE: Plenty of windows make the lake viewable throughout the dining area.

RIGHT: An en suite has a private entry for guests.

The deck has a fireplace and plenty of comfy seating. Green Country Living

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Fe at u r e d Hom e PA rry shades of black, brown and gray. They have their cat tunnel from Paiten’s room through the closet to outside. Paiten’s room is decorated in gray and yellow. From the outdoor kitchen, enter the indoor kitchen that opens to the great room. Arched doorways are throughout. Ribbed glass doors match kitchen cabinet glass. The ceilings are 12-feet-tall. Eyes are drawn to the tall stone fireplace. Justin said the mantle is made of an oak tree that had died on the property, and he had it cut up. A beautiful tile pattern is made of 24-by24 and 12-by-24 inches without a broken pattern. An arch divider is between the kitchen and great room. The kitchen cabinets are cherry with ebony crown molding. A curved granite island holds the five-burner stove with a power silver backsplash that comes up with the touch of a button when needed. The main floor has three bedrooms, three half baths, office, great room with kitchen, dining room, laundry room and pantry. It has a three-car attached

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Justin trims the trees to assure views in the wall of windows in the master bedroom.


Kitchen cabinets are cherry with ebony crown molding. The five-burner stove has a power vent that comes up at the touch of a button when needed.

garage with 11-foot ceilings big enough for a car lift. The master has a tray ceiling with wooden beams and eggshell walls. From a large window, there is a view of the lake. He trims the trees so they can see the water. The master bath has a 5by 9-feet glass window that gives a view of the side of the property. With all the trees, it’s like being in a tree house. Two hanging lighted windows drop from the

ceiling on wires over the ebony painted cabinets with double black sinks setting in fleck granite. Justin is still building using local businesses in Eufaula and Hughes Lumber in Muskogee for supplies. He and Deb created Calico Heights, a group of five upscale tree houses complete with highend amenities like granite countertops. They don’t use a blueprint. All the cabins

are different. She decorates the houses in different color schemes. “I can envision what I want it to look like,” Deb said. She left her job at OG&E in Muskogee to take care of the cabins. They are rented out most of the time. Her fun job is working part-time with the Lake Eufaula Association promoting the area.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Riggs

Retiring in

paradise Couple built home to escape extensive flooding in Houston area

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ony and Pam Riggs sit on their back porch every chance they get. “I almost thought about calling this the tree house,” Pam Riggs said. “Because, when you’re sitting inside and looking out, all you see is the top of the trees. You feel like you’re in the trees because of the slope.”

Their backyard slopes toward a ravine, which flows into Lake Tenkiller. The two often enjoy the breezes coming up through the trees. “We get a lot of deer,” Tony Riggs said. “We have had turkey on our back porch. We have a big bobcat that comes to visit, and we frequently see bald eagles out here. It’s a pretty special spot.”

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos by Mandy Corbell

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Tony and Pam Riggs’ front lawn offers a broad natural setting with minimal maintenance.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Riggs Pam and Tony Riggs often enjoy coffee and other beverages on their back porch.

Their quiet retreat is a long way from their former home in Tom Ball, Texas, a suburb of Houston. Tony said he and his wife wanted to escape extensive flooding in the Houston area. Tony said he had a client in Tulsa who invited him to a lake home at Tenkiller. “We liked the people, we liked it up here, so we decided to it was an excellent place to retire,” he said.

We only wanted in “this neighborhood

because we have a family of community friends here. — Pam Riggs

They settled on a place on South Pigeon Road, on the lake’s west side. “We only wanted in this neighborhood because we have a family of community friends here,” Pam said. “We had looked at some lakefront properties, but they were too crowded. We really liked being tucked in the woods.” The Riggs live about a half-mile from Tenkiller and about a half-hour from Tahlequah. Pam is assistant to dean of

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The Riggs can cook and take it easy in their retreat high up in the trees.


ABOVE: Windows along the living room and kitchen wall bring sunshine and natural views. The Riggs even saw a wild turkey on their back porch. BELOW: A vaulted ceiling stretches from the kitchen through the living room.

Northeastern State University College of Education. Tony is teaching accounting at NSU. They have two grown children and two grandchildren. Pam said her father, a retired architect, designed their four-bedroom, three-bathroom house. They first built a massive workshop and garage, moved a camper inside and lived in it while building the house. They still keep the camper, boats,

motorcycles and tools in the garage. They moved into the house last September. The Riggs put stones between their back porch and the ravine. “We wanted it as low maintenance as possible,� Pam said. Rain flows down rain chains, and Pam said she especially enjoyed seeing the chains ice over in

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Riggs

The spacious kitchen has acres of serving and prep space, as well as ample storage space in vertical cabinets and horizontal drawers.

ABOVE: Walk-in closets have shelves and pull-down racks. There also is hanging space outside the closets.

LEFT: Farmhouse doors open onto a pantry featuring a toaster oven and wine chiller.

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The master bedroom has a sloping ceiling and a ceiling fan light. The chest with mirror is at least 100 years old.

winter. into the side of the wall. Square Winter gives the backyard a fir posts, and a thick fir mantel whole new personality, Tony said. frame the stonework. They see a farther distance and “One thing I like about the more wildlife. fireplace is that it doesn’t compete “You can see the top of what with the television,” Pam said. they call bullet mountain, and just “It’s right here and it’s cozy, but on the other side of bullet moun- we don’t have to put the TV on tain is the lake,” Pam said. top of the fireplace. This way, we During football season, how- can enjoy it and it’s still the focal ever, a big screen TV comes down point of the room.” so they can watch The great room also features leather the Texas A&M Aggies. One thing I like furniture. One end of the Pam said she porch has a stone about the fireplace loves the great cooking area featuris that it doesn’t room’s warmth. ing a smoker and “We built a fire compete with almost every night grill. The couple use it often. in the winter,” she the television. “Memorial said. “We went — Pam Riggs weekend we cooked through three or for 30 people, and four ricks of wood.” last night he cooked for the two The kitchen’s appliance pantry of us,” Pam said a few weeks ago. includes space for a big toaster Around front, the entry porch and a tabletop cooler for wine. has a cedar facade with fir posts. Two food pantries have narrow Exterior and interior stones shelves to keep things from getwere quarried nearby. ting lost in back. The kitchen also The front porch’s cathedral features a coffee bar with a sink ceiling continues into the entry and icemaker. and out to the back porch. Pam said she wanted “acres A wood-burning fireplace is on and acres of vertical storage” to the other side of the entry’s stone keep things like sheets, casserole wall. A firewood box is tucked dishes.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Riggs

ABOVE: Late afternoon sun shines into the Riggs’ entry area, which has a vaulted ceiling. LEFT: The master bath has a walk-in shower with dual adjustable rain shower heads. A laundry room is to the right.

She also wanted wide drawers instead of cabinets under the granite countertops. The Riggs furnished their home with items that span their 41-year marriage, and beyond. For example, the master bedroom has a mirror chest dating back 100 years. Pam said her grandmother got it at the age of 15. The master bedroom also features a sleigh bed.

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They put their washer and dryer next to his and hers walk-in closets. Her closet has a pull-down clothes rack. “It’s so easy to put the laundry away,” she said. A walk-in gray tile shower features dual adjustable rain shower heads. A hallway to the garage features seating area with a bench and hooks. Several interior rooms, such as Pam’s office, have transoms to let in natural light.

Pam’s office features built-in shelves and a sliding barn door. “I just wanted a little cubby off the kitchen,” she said. She also wanted each guest bathroom to have a separate water closet for the toilet. “When there’s lots of people going in and out trying to do things, having a separate compartment is important,” she said.


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A r t o f T h e M a tt e r

Patricia Bradley has pursued a passion for fine art throughout her life — and, behind that, an affection for the process of creating.

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Living her passion Bradley teaches, creates ‘process-oriented’ fine art

P

atricia Ridge Bradley’s career in art began with building a cardboard box in school, she says. “My teacher Ms. Diehl was instrumental in getting me on the path,” Bradley said. “The most important thing she ever did was teach

us how to construct a box. We had to make a box out of cardboard and wheat paste and paper tape. That one act I credit for helping me be a process-oriented learner, which is very important in learning how to make art, because it is a process. That was a pivotal moment for me.”

By Chesley Oxendine • Photos by Tony Corbell

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A r t Of t he M at t e r Bradley developed a fondness for drawing early, and she soon discovered a particular knack for drawing people, she said. “I’ve always drawn portraits. At that time, I was getting education through school. I wasn’t getting formal education like through an academy or anything. I had a knack for portraits,” Bradley said. “I started drawing portraits of rock stars off of album covers. I enjoyed drawing faces right away. At 16 years old, I started drawing people.” It was a passion that carried over into her college years at Oklahoma State University, where she hunted for classes that would hone those representative art skills, Bradley said. “In college, I had to take figure drawing, and my teachers were Marty Avrett, and Dean Bloodgood. Those were my figure drawing teachers, and I loved it. My college education was not representational, it was all experimental, abstract expressionism. They did not teach representational painting,” Bradley said. “The only representational thing I could take was figure drawing.”

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Bradley selects a piece of charcoal while working in her Coweta studio.


Bradley works in a variety of mediums, creating everything from charcoal figure drawings and portraits to landscapes in oils and soft pastels.

Bradley remembers graduating in 1975 alongside a class so small they were folded in with the architecture majors. “There were only seven students graduating in my class,” she said. “So few we had to graduate with the architects, we had to have brown tassels, which I thought was so unfair as an artist.” After that, Bradley and her husband Stephen struck out into the world, but finding a job with a fine arts degree wasn’t initially

in the cards. “I went to work for banks, and after that it was a dead-end creatively, so I apprenticed with an ad agency called Davis & Nauser,” Bradley said. “I got a crash course in graphic design from a very talented man in Tulsa named Jim Elmore. And he taught me about beauty and design and how to design a page, and graphic excellence.” That sparked a decades-long career in graphic design, working with clients ranging

from the Central City Opera in Denver, Colorado, to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. Bradley retired from graphic design in 2015 to focus on her passion for fine art, she said. “It feels wonderful. Graphic design was electronic art, and I like to work with my hands,” Bradley said. “I ended up with a lot of health problems from working on the computer, and I was just determined to get back to making art with my hands.”

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A r t Of t he M at t e r

Bradley’s work includes still life drawings and paintings, landscapes, and portraits. Her style swings between nearphotorealistic and stylized, depending on the piece. When she does work in color, she uses warm pastels and deep hues to create striking contrast.

The experience proved valuable, however. Bradley credits her work as a graphic designer for her talent with composition. “The best thing the graphic arts taught me was how to design a page. So many fine artists today do not understand composition,” Bradley said. “So now I’ve got that down, and now I’m refreshing my skills in the mediums. I always did figure drawing all through my career. I never gave that up.” In addition to her work as a graphic designer, Bradley also developed an affection

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to work for banks, and after that it was “aI went dead-end creatively, so I apprenticed with an ad agency called Davis & Nauser. ” — Patricia Bradley

for teaching, which led to the opening of a fine arts school in Enid. Now her teaching efforts aid the Muskogee Art Guild in their mission of spreading

a love of art to the surrounding community, she said, where Bradley hopes to continue helping people learn the basics. “I can draw anything, because I know


Bradley’s passion for fine art carried on in the background even through a decades long career in graphic design. Now in retirement, she relishes the chance to focus on traditional work. “I much prefer to be making two-dimensional art,” Bradley said.

how to look at it, because I’ve spent my whole life translating color into black and white and into value. Then they can go and translate value back into color,” Bradley said. “My classes are all process-oriented. In my fundamental class we start with how to use a pencil. Each lesson builds on the next one and by the end of the lessons, you can, by George, look at something and draw it.” Bradley’s orientation on the fundamentals has made her invaluable to the guild, said president Becky Lucht. “She has been great. She filled in a gap that I think we had. Sometimes when members join, they’re hesitant about their skills, and she’s teaching the basics,” Lucht said. “That makes them more confident, and they can take our workshops. It really filled a gap that we needed for a long time and didn’t know that we had.”

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Scene & Be Seen

Moonlight and Monarchs The Fifth annual Moonlight and Monarchs dinner helped support annual butterfly costs for the Papilion. Photos by Cathy Spaulding

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ART Guild Art SHow Art patrons flock to one of many art shows held by the Art Guild of Muskogee. Photos by Cathy Spaulding

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S ce n e & B e S e e n

Balloon Festival This year marked second year for the Oklahoma Festival of Ballooning at Hatbox Field. Crowds enjoyed good, flight competition and a performance from the Swon Brothers. Photos by Cathy Spaulding and Kenton Brooks

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Scene & Be Seen

MLT ‘Milties’ Muskogee Little Theatre’s award ceremony served as both an opportunity to review the 2018-2019 season’s work and to honor the actors, directors, crew members and designers that made that work possible. Photos by Chesley Oxendine

On The Menu Guide To Area Restaurants

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On The Menu Guide To Area Restaurants

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Food & Drink Cook’s Pantry

M astering the

art of

A

t 9 years old, baby food,” said his grandTurner Ketmother, Michele Orman, cham still who babysat Turner as an has a lot to infant. learn, and mastering the art In desperation one day of cooking is one of his she mashed up an avosubjects. A third grader, cado and let him try it. Turner, son of Casey The Cook’s Pantry He gobbled it down and Lindsey Ketcham and that was the beginMelony Carey of Muskogee, has been ning of his love of good exploring fine cuisine since he was 5. food that has led to his favorite breakYou could say he had a discerning fast, avocado toast spread with an palate even as baby. under layer of ricotta and seasoned “Turner would not eat regular with cracked red and black pepper.

Photos by Tony Corbell

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Food & Drink Cook’s Pantry

ABOVE: Turner serves as his own sous chef planning the meal, supervising the kitchen, and preparing his favorite Shrimp Linguini while mom supervise. LEFT: Turner’s copycat version of P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps includes hoisin and sweet chili sauce added directly to the dish.

Part of Turner’s education has come from watching Food Network shows, such as Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” or Ree Drummond’s “Pioneer Woman.” This has given him a repertoire of favorite seasonings and spices that include hot sauce, cumin, oregano, duck fat, and especially garlic. While cooking at his grandmother’s house one day, she handed him a jar of minced garlic, to which he replied, “I can’t work with this.” His preference is purple garlic for its better flavor, a taste tip not too many 9-year-olds know. Turner also likes to create copycat recipes that simulate restaurant fare. His take on P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps includes adding hoisin We supervise everything and sweet Turner does, but we give him chili sauce latitude with the recipes. directly to the dish, — Lindsey Ketcham which gives it a more savory taste. Also, wherever the Ketchams travel, they try to find a restaurant featured on Food Network, so Turner can try the real version of recipes he has seen on television. Whether or not this culinary passion will translate into a future career is hard to say. One thing for sure is that Turner is developing a lifelong skill he loves to share with family and friends. As he says, he is learning his math from recipe quantities and discovering new techniques from others as he goes along. Whether picking up tips from his dad or grandfather, Gary Ketcham, for grilling on the Hasty Bake or learning his

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Turner uses a stool to help him while sautéing at the stove.

ABOVE: Turner’s avocado toast contains a heavy layer of Ricotta cheese spread on top of Artisanal Bread. BELOW: Turner deveins the shrimp for use in his Shrimp Linguini.

The Shrimp Linguini recipe calls for fresh juice from two squeezed lemons.

Deveined shrimp cooks in a skillet with chopped green onions, fresh garlic.

neighbor Maria Zaroor-Owen’s recipe for Lebanese salad with tabbouleh and grape leaves, Turner is always on the lookout for his next culinary adventure. “Safety is paramount,” says his mom, Lindsey. “We supervise everything Turner does, but we give him latitude with the recipes. It’s a fun, family tradition now to shop for the unique

ingredients, turn on Frank Sinatra, and dance our way around the kitchen.” Here, Turner shares a few of his favorite recipes with readers. Shrimp Linguini 1 lb. raw deveined shrimp 2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter 2 cloves of fresh chopped garlic 4 chopped green onions 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) 2 squeezed lemons 1/2 cup white wine 1 package of linguini

Add olive oil and butter to pan, heat

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Food & Drink Cook’s Pantry

LEFT: One of Turner’s favorite meals is shrimp linguini, an elegant dish prepared with olive oil, butter, white wine, lemon juice and garlic.

BELOW: Avocado toast is a favorite breakfast food because it fills Turner up until lunch time. It pairs equally well with linguini.

Servings of Shrimp Linguini and Asian Lettuce Wraps sit on a plate ready to be served.

then add garlic, onions, and red pepper flakes. Stir until onions start to soften. Add lemon juice and wine, bring to boil on low for approx. 3-4 minutes. Add in shrimp. Cook until shrimp turns pink and is fully cooked. Place cooked linguini in serving dish. Pour mixture over and toss. Add 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan and slightly toss. Avocado Toast with Ricotta

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Quiche is another breakfast food Turner has enjoyed since he was a toddler.

Toasted Artisanal Bread Ricotta cheese Ripe avocados

Spread a heavy layer of ricotta over toast. Slice avocado and lay on top of ricotta. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper. Top with hot sauce or cracked red pepper (optional). Asian Lettuce Wraps 1 lb. ground chicken 2 gloves garlic, chopped

4 green onions, thinly sliced 1 8 oz. can of water chestnuts, chopped 1/4 cup hoisin sauce 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/4 cup sweet red chili sauce 1 tablespoon olive oil

Fresh romaine lettuce leaves, washed and chilled Add olive oil to pan. Add ground chicken and begin to brown. Add in garlic, green onions, and water chestnuts. Continue to cook until chicken


is fully cooked, chopping it up as you cook. Add in your hoisin, soy, and sweet red chili sauce. Stir, then reduce heat to low and cover, simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Spoon mixture into a leaf of romaine lettuce and enjoy. Easy Quiche 1 pre-made pie crust 5 eggs 1/4 cup milk 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese 1 cup crumbled, cooked bacon

Turner Ketcham, center, shown here with mom and dad, Casey and Lindsey Ketcham, and grandparents, Randy and Michele Orman.

Place pie crust in dish and crimp the edges. Add both cheeses in the center of pie crust and mix around until combined. Add in bacon. In a small bowl, whisk eggs and milk. Pour eggs mixture over the cheese and bacon. Bake at 350 degrees between 40 or 50 minutes, until eggs are set up firm.

Part of Turner’s education has come from watching Food Network shows, such as Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” or Ree Drummond’s “Pioneer Woman.”

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Food & Drink Wonderful Wine

Dinner etiquette:

social grace Wonderful Wine Heather Ezell Photos by Shane Keeter

A

s the years pass, polite society has adapted and changed, along with most everything else in life. Over time, dinner parties have become less common and even dinnertime shared around a table at home has evolved and is less frequent. 70

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Most families I know are on the run these days after school and after work, so a sit down meal is a rare or special occasion. Even at my house, our casual lifestyle has spilled over into mealtime. Our table is rarely used as supper is eaten at the island bar or (though I hate to publicly admit this) occasionally on a TV tray. Truly. Abhorrent.

Like all else in life, proper etiquette, when unused on a regular basis, is forgotten or lost. This became glaringly apparent to me over dinner at a friend's house recently. We had decided to cook together; she was interested in learning a new recipe which I was glad to assist her with and share a lovely bottle of wine in


the process. When we sat down to eat, I mentally noted that her children were so very polite and had the best manners. She mentioned that they convened at the table each night. This was overtly evident as their social graces were spot on! As the meal progressed, she and I were chatting and I made a terrible faux pax....I leaned in and put an elbow on the table during our conversation. I immediately

noticed the 9-year-old's eyes widened in disbelief, and I quickly removed my errant elbow. Of course there was no mention of my impoliteness because, frankly, their manners prevented such, but I was horrified nonetheless. Thus, my attention was brought to my impropriety. My mother is sure to be disappointed because I was certainly taught better. So when presented with the idea, I was enthusiastic about this

writing assignment. Imaginably this may be the universe's opportunity for me to redeem myself. Consider this a refresher course for those of us who were taught proper behavior which may have relaxed over time. When invited to dinner, whether it is a small gathering with family/friends or even a more formal affair, always RSVP. Especially if it is a written invitation.

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Food & Drink Wonderful Wine When someone takes the time to write out and send invitations, the least we can do is respond (either way) in a timely manner so that they can properly prepare. I'll skip ahead to after the meal to one of the most overlooked courtesies (or lack thereof) of our time. The "Thank-You" note. Send one. Always. After you have enjoyed dinner that your host has gone through considerable time, effort and expense to produce, send a thank-you note. Period. This small gesture takes minimal effort with maximum gain. People remember and appreciate this more than can be expressed, and I can guarantee that those who send thank yous, get invited back. For the actual event, keep in mind these conventions. To begin with, show up on time. If you are going to be late, (and it better be a good reason as to why — like serious good Samaritan work), let your host know as soon as possible. Your time is not any more important than anyone else's, so do not make them wait on you.

Thank-you notes show appreciation to the host for the time, effort and expense they put into the event.

Always place napkins in your lap, below, and never tucked into your shirt, top.

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When dining at more formal affairs with multiple utensils learn which one to use with each course.

It is rude to be on your phone at dinner. Consider turning phone off, leaving it or at the very least putting it away.

Subsequently, whereas it isn't required, yet a seriously nice gesture, bring a host/hostess gift. A candle, flowers, a bottle of wine, or whatever you deem appropriate for the circumstance. Deliver some small token to show your appreciation for being included. Even though these key points needn't be mentioned, I would be remiss if I didn't. First, put your phone away. Even better, turn it off or don't bring it at all. Being on your phone over dinner is completely rude. There. I said it. It is rude!

When finished with the meal, place napkin to the left of the plate.

Don't do it. Next, keep your elbows off the table. (Guilty, party of one, right here.) Following that, napkin goes in your lap, not on the table. And for the love of all that is good and holy, not tucked into your shirt. When finished with the meal, place it to the left of, never in, the plate. If this is a more formal affair with multiple utensils, learn which one to use with each course. Google it, watch "Downton Abbey," phone a friend, do what you must. It isn't rocket science, just good form.

Along those lines, where stemware is concerned, always handle it by the stem. The bowl of the glass should never be touched. Consequently, keep pace with the other guests while eating. I have broken bread with a few otherwise sweet, kind, wonderful men and women who looked like they learned to eat from a pack of hyenas. It's highly unbecoming, so try to slow down, savor the food, and enjoy the company. Lastly, and I don't know why I must say this but, do NOT chew with

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Food & Drink Wonderful Wine

When finished a napkin should never go in the plate.

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your mouth open or talk with your mouth full. (I reiterate, this shouldn't have to be covered, but I have witnessed this, so it undeniably does.) Lastly, all orifices shall be left untouched. Translation: Do not pick anything at the table. Your ears, nose, teeth, etc. That even includes the use of a toothpick. It is completely inappropriate. If you must, then excuse yourself from the table and head straight to the bathroom. End of story. Allow me to end this by saying, I'm no Emily Post or Miss Manners, far from it. I learned from my mother, by observation, by perusing books on etiquette and by being educated by friends who pride themselves on practicing proper behavior. Such protocol is sadly, somewhat of a lost art. These suggestions will save you from any unnecessary embarrassment as I suffered. Perhaps I should have been more cognizant, but a shocked look from a small child jolted me into awareness. I vow to do better! Bon appetit!


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Green Country Living — Fall Edition 2019  

• Illinois River Valley home features stunning views • Gray family offers cottages on Fort Gibson Lake • Lake Eufaula draws builder away fro...

Green Country Living — Fall Edition 2019  

• Illinois River Valley home features stunning views • Gray family offers cottages on Fort Gibson Lake • Lake Eufaula draws builder away fro...

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