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Winter Edition 2021

In s i de sto ries

Family shares tranquil log cabin surrounded by woods Home overlooking Lake Tenkiller birthed from 25-year dream

Homeowner gets crafty while decorating home Photographer lives, produces art among area wildlife

MUSKOGEE muskogeephoenix.com


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Green Country Living

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Winter Edition 2021 Issue 58

Publisher Ed Choate Editor Elizabeth Ridenour Contributing editor Angela Jackson Layout & Design Joshua Cagle WRITERS Cathy Spaulding, Melony Carey PHOTOGRAPHERS Mandy Corbell, Cathy Spaulding, Von Castor ADVERTISING Director Marci Diaz Apple ADVERTISING SALES Angela Jackson, Therese Lewis, Krysta Aich, Kris Hight

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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 th e C o v e r

Winter Edition 2021

Featured Homes

Inside

6 Williams

34 Beyond the Listing

Woods and water surrounds this log cabin east of Muskogee.

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Forsyth Home built near where owner’s family has lived for generations.

26 Todd Todd’s south Muskogee property offers peace and quiet.

Joan and Rob Forsyth enjoy the Lake Tenkiller sunset with their labrador retriever, Bodhi, and younger son Ty, seated.

Smith decorates home in blend of old and new styles.

42 Art of the Matter Photographer shows artistic skill with a camera and computer.

50 Cook’s Pantry Family helped shape new shop owners cooking skills.

Family shares tranquil log cabin surrounded by woods Home overlooking Lake Tenkiller birthed from 25-year dream

Homeowner gets crafty while decorating home Photographer lives, produces art among area wildlife

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Photo by Mandy Corbell

In s Ide sto rIes

MUSKOGEE muskogeephoenix.com


BRIGHTER DAYS AHEAD When the storm clears, we will gather again. To hugs, to play, to laughter. Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and Resort Collection hotels and spas will be here to welcome you. Stay safe. rtjgolf.com

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Wil li a ms

Woods and water surround Matt and Annette Williams’ log cabin east of Muskogee. It features pine and cedar inside and out.

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‘Peaceful, Relaxing’ Log cabin sits on five acres near Arkansas River

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flowing creek and tall trees make Matt and Annette Williams’ log cabin an ideal spot. “There’s a porch out back, so you’re able to sit and listen to the water,” Annette Williams said. “It’s very peaceful and relaxing, and you’re surrounded by woods.” Williams said she

especially was drawn to the home’s craftsmanship and style. “It’s probably the most well-built house I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’ve lived in several houses,” Williams said. “The craftsmanship is real good. The piering underneath the house strongly supports it — 12-by-12 posts are all underneath the house.”

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos by Mandy Corbell

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Wil li a ms A broad porch crosses the front of the Williams home.

The six-bedroom, three-story home sits on five acres near the Arkansas River. The Williams, who have five children, bought the house a little more than a year ago, but decided not to move into it. They chose to stay close to the children’s school. Still, they loved the house enough to keep it and update it for eventual sale. Annette Williams said they had to move rocks and cut down trees because “everything was so overgrown around the house.” The front yard features a foot bridge across small ponds. Williams said they plan to keep the bridge but fill in the ponds. “Most people don’t want the maintenance of a pond, so we’re just going to redo them,” she said. “There’s a walking trail pretty much all the way around the whole house.”

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The backyard slopes from the garage to ground-level basement access.

A stone fireplace and hearth with a wood beam mantel brings warmth to the living area. Green Country Living

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Wil li a ms

French doors, original to the house, open into the master suite.

A porch sweeps across the front. Iron latches, hinges and handles give the front door a frontier appeal. “But I wanted to be able to see, so I put in glass,” Williams said, noting a new window. A tiny entry area has original stone from the porch. “I thought the rock was a good touch, so I continued it from outside,” Williams said. Cedar paneling can be found throughout the house, adding a woodsy aroma. Wood beams brace the second floor and extend into the living room. A pine ceiling slopes from the second floor, offering a view from the balcony. The stone fireplace has a broad, stone hearth and solid wood mantel. A sliding door opens onto a back deck. Much of the interior needed decades of updating, Annette Williams said, adding that they’ve been remodeling for about a year. “We had pretty miserable weather, and then everybody was so behind because of corona,” she said, referring to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The Williams opened the kitchen to the living room. “We completely remodeled the kitchen,” she said. “It was closed off, and it looked like the 1970s.” The lower cabinets and drawers now have the simple Shaker lines. Several upper cabinets feature windows to display dinnerware. The white cabinets, drawers and porcelain farmhouse sink complement the black patterned white granite countertops. One corner features a built-in breadbox. The kitchen island has a butcherblock countertop. “There’s lazy susans, which is really convenient,” she said. A greenhouse window extends out above the kitchen sink. “There’s three of them,” Williams said.

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Beams offer support to the second floor and a dramatic effect to the living-dining area.


Wood floors, wood walls, wood ceiling surround the living-dining area. Windows offer nature views.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Wil li a ms

The remodeled kitchen opens into the living-dining area.

“There’s one on the other side of the house and there’s one in the bathroom.” The dining area’s bay window is deep enough for seating. “People just don’t see this type of craftsmanship anymore,” Williams said. “They did a really good job on storage, because we have pantries, linen closets.” The house even has laundry chutes. The house also has a versatile layout. “Anything that has a closet can be a bedroom,” Williams said, adding that some also can be offices or dens.” One part of the original house the Williams kept are French doors that open onto the main floor master suite. The bedroom has a front yard view. The master bath has a complete new look, however. Williams said the old bath looked straight out of a 1970s disco. “Whenever the light came on, the tub was green, and a red light came on,” she said. “And it had all the 80s lights.” The bathroom now has a white ceramic vessel sink on granite counters. They updated the floor with tile that resembles wood. A walk-in closet is on either side of the bathroom. Original wood steps with a wood

The basement features a hot tub and access to the backyard.

A bay window with a seat adds a panoramic view from a second dining area.

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The remodeled kitchen features an island, farmhouse sink and white Shaker cabinets.

bannister lead to the second floor. One bath has a new tile shower and a new vessel sink. Ornate midcentury spindles beside the sink are on their way out, however. “Walk-in closets are in every single bedroom,” Williams said. The upstairs also features a walk-in storage space overlooking the garage. Two stairways descend into a basement. “This is a finished basement. We decided to let people do whatever they want with it,” Williams said. “We redid the stairs and kind of left it as an open slate.” A small sink and a 1970s oven form a kitchenette on one wall. One sunny bathroom has a Jacuzzi. The backyard slopes from the garage, allowing patio access from the basement. A creek flows behind the house.

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S m a l l To w n Welcome

Fort Gibson

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Forsy t h

Dream fruition comes to

Dallas family builds home overlooking Lake Tenkiller

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ob and Joan Forsyth’s home overlooking Lake Tenkiller culminates a 25-year dream. Joan Forsyth said her family owns 36 acres on the lake. Her grandfather bought the land in 1942. “My parents live right down the road,” she said. Meanwhile, Rob and Joan Forsyth lived in Dallas with

two sons. Rob Forsyth, a vice president with AT&T, said the family has been visiting the property for 25 years. Eventually, the Forsyths bought eight and a half acres by the Sizemore Landing Public Use Area. They built a 4,200-square-foot house, with a 1,000-square-foot detached apartment at the end of a winding half-mile road.

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos by Mandy Corbell

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Rob and Joan Forsyth’s Lake Tenkiller home features stone work by Brian Brannick of Sallisaw. The house is near where Joan Forsyth’s family has lived for generations.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Forsy t h Joan and Rob Forsyth enjoy the Lake Tenkiller sunset with their labrador retriever, Bodhi, and younger son Ty, seated.

“It’s been our dream to build it, and we’ve built it,” Rob Forsyth said, adding that the property has lots of wildlife, including turkey, deer and squirrels. Chance Parker of Vian built the four-bedroom gray stone house. “We both have the same tastes in just about everything,” Joan Forsyth said about the builder. “He would almost finish my sentences for me throughout the process. He has a really keen eye for detail.” Forsyth said she loves his choices in stone, paints and wood. “He just puts it all together beautifully,” she said. The cathedral ceiling over the broad front porch follows through inside to the living room. Wood columns support the porch ceiling. Most windows offer a sweeping southern view of Lake Tenkiller. “You can see the sunrise, and you can see where the sun

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Bodhi has a favorite, sunshiny spot on a back deck.

The Forsyth’s open plan encompasses the living area, dining area and kitchen.

Rob Forsyth, left, and son Ty enjoy watching the big screen TV over the fireplace.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Forsy t h

The dining area offers a broad view of the Lake Tenkiller sunset.

White cabinets and decorative lighting make the kitchen glow.

sets,” Joan Forsyth said. Floors throughout the house look like wood, but are luxury vinyl. “They’re waterproof. They’re basically scratch-proof,” she said. “It was so easy to go with this route, especially with the dog.” Bodhi, a white Labrador, enjoys trotting around the house. The entry goes immediately into a main room — an open plan that includes the kitchen, living room and dining area. An iron chandelier hangs from the

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“You can see the sunrise, and you can see where the sun sets.” — Joan Forsyth cathedral ceiling. “That was my first purchase for the house, period,” Forsyth said. “A yearand-a-half before we moved in... and it’s been my favorite piece ever since. A gray stone gas fireplace features a wide hearth and solid wood mantel.

The bright kitchen has cream-colored Taj Mahal quartzite countertops. “It’s just so easy to keep clean,” she said. “I didn’t go too light, where you see everything. I just like the natural color.” Light shines through rainwater glass windows above the white cabinets. Most of the stainless steel appliances, including the gas stove, are Kitchen Aid. The stove hood is made of wood, yes wood. “We had it patina-ed to make it look like metal,” Forsyth said, adding that the hood has its own vent system and costs


The separate apartment features an island kitchen with a snacking bar.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Forsy t h

A wood deck nearly surrounds the Forsyth home.

A bathroom features a walk-in shower.

less than a metal hood. Forsyth said she likes the kitchen’s size and efficiency. “The cool thing about this kitchen is that we designed the pantry to hold all the electronics,” she said. The toaster, panini press, even the coffee maker are on a pantry counter. The walk-in pantry even has a small

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There are plenty of wine options in the cabinet and cooler.

fridge for beverages. A cabinet and a stainless steel cooler by the pantry store plenty of wine. The master suite behind a sliding barn door also has a cathedral ceiling. The suite has its own opening to the deck. The master bath has a freestanding soaker tub with a sprayer. The walk-in

An apartment dormer offers a cozy space for a loveseat.

travertine marble shower has a pair of rain shower heads on facing walls. Forsyth said each bedroom has its own bath. The main floor also features a guest suite. A wood deck wraps all the way around the house. The deck outside the main room features wicker and wood


Brian Brannick did stonework for the downstairs fireplace.

The basement features space for a game room and den.

The laundry room offers plenty of space and storage.

furniture with white cushions. Bodhi likes to stretch out on one ottoman cushion. Downstairs has a large den with its own stone fireplace. A raised table that borders the back of the couch was cut from a tree. One son’s bedroom seems more like a hostel with two full beds and two

When it’s not COVID, we “have tons of company. ” — Joan Forsyth

bunks on wooden platforms. “When it’s not COVID, we have tons of company,” she said. “Lots of cousins,

lots of friends from Dallas.” The bathroom shower also features dual shower heads. Another downstairs bedroom has two full-size beds. Patios outside the basement include a fire pit and a dining area. Huge flat stones surrounding the cooking area are large enough for

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Forsy t h sitting. Four stones step up to the front drive. Grass Monkey out of Muskogee worked with stones found on the property, Forsyth said. A breezeway links the main house to the large two-vehicle garage and apartment. “It’s been so helpful when it’s raining and storming to cut through here and not get wet,” Forsyth said. The upstairs apartment features a cathedral ceiling, balcony and an island kitchen. A dormer has enough space for a love seat and ottoman. The bathroom features a walkin travertine marble shower. Joey Sport did trim work throughout the apartment and main house, Joan Forsyth said. He also built the bunkbeds. A drive, nearly a half-mile long, leads to the house. Brian Gates did the roadwork and site excavation.

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A cozy bedroom opens into a bathroom with a separate area for the sink.


GREENER DAYS AHEAD Great golf happens on great courses. And courses don’t get better than the ones on Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. With 11 locations, 26 courses and more than 400 championship holes, the toughest challenge may be deciding which one to play first. Our golf courses and staff are ready to welcome you back to the legendary RTJ Golf Trail. Summer and fall golf packages available. We are open and will be here waiting for you. Visit rtjgolf.com.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Todd

Kevin Todd’s wide open property in far south Muskogee offers plenty of peace and quiet.

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Quiet space Todd found perfect home nearby Davis Field Airport

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e v i n T o d d He said he had sold his first doesn’t have to house and lived with his parspend a fortune ents for two years. to make himself right at The three-bedroom, home. 1,700-square-foot house sits “After fixing up my old on a broad plain south of house, it was nice to move Muskogee. into a house that you didn’t Muskogee-Davis Regional have to fix up right away,” he Airport is only a couple of said. miles south, and Todd said Todd said he was attracted he likes watching airplanes to the house and moved out and military helicopters fly there about four years ago. toward Davis Field Airport.

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos by Von Castor

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Todd

Lance Mitchell, left, and Kara Mitchell enjoy a game of Scrabble with Kevin Todd and his dog, Emma.

The area also is quiet, and Todd appreciates that. He recalled the noise in his former neighborhood. “You can’t go outside without somebody screaming,” he said. Another attraction was the house’s “mother-in-law” plan, Todd said. His bedroom and a full bath on one side of the house and two bedrooms and a full bath are on the other. Ground lights accent Todd’s front garden and walkway. An arched entry caps the front stoop. The entry offers a warm welcome with smoky, gray walls. Tall, skinny table lamps top a drop-front secretary desk that belonged to Todd’s great-great grandmother. An arched entry leads to the living room, where Todd loves entertaining guests. Cushiony seats provide lots of comfort for games or conversation.

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ABOVE: New countertops and free-standing shelves were among the few changes Kevin Todd made in his house.

FAR LEFT: A dining area offers a variety of options for countertop snacking or formal dining.

LEFT: Initial letters accent this corner dining spot.

A small fireplace with a white wood mantel makes one side of the room seem extra cozy. A big screen TV sits on the mantel shelf between candlesticks. Walls are decorated with variety — hanging candle boxes, massive clock faces, tall decorations that look like doors or entry gates. Four fonts for the letter K decorate a corner dining area. Todd didn’t have to spend much

money to bring this rustic style to the house. He said he mostly goes to Hobby Lobby, Home Goods, TJ Maxx or Ross. He did get crafty with some of the decor, however. Three black rectangles on the white wall — two small ones and a tall one — actually are cabinet doors. “I had a cabinet and I took it off that,” he said. Todd said the only major change he made was to install granite countertops

in the kitchen and put up spacious, freestanding shelving in the kitchen, dining room and laundry room. He added open shelves over the new corner sink. Before, he had only plain walls. One cabinet has windows showing his white dinnerware. The kitchen features stainless steel Frigidaire appliances and a Kenmore refrigerator. Dining options include the corner

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Todd

RIGHT: The master bedroom features a tray ceiling and French door access to a back patio.

BELOW: The Todd home offers a second bedroom for guests.

The warm entry features an heirloom secretary desk and crafty decor.

table for four, a longer table for six and two stools by a raised kitchen counter. Three laundry room shelves stylishly display laundry supplies. Bleach, detergent, dryer sheets and other supplies are displayed in big glass jars, instead of being stashed in dull cabinets. The bleach and detergent jars have spigots. Gray square bins add pop to the shelves. Todd’s master suite is just off the kitchen. It features a tray ceiling with a ceiling fan. A bed with black headboard and

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footboard and plenty of pillows is on one side of the room. His dresser offers space for a quartet of candlesticks, backed by a dresser mirror. His master bath features his and her sinks. Open shelves above the toilet display white towels and large jars. A shower faces the bathtub, where he keeps his large plants during the winter. On the other side, one bedroom serves as a much-needed home office. Todd, who works for the VA, often works from home.

His black desk is actually a dining room table. “It just happened to match the hutch that goes with the table in the dining room,” Todd said. “It just looked like there was too much in the dining room with that.” No problem, though. The desk offers ample room for two monitors, a keyboard and laptop. The hutch looms behind the desk. Family photos are spread across a dresser across from the hutch.


ABOVE: A third bedroom offers plenty of home office space.

LEFT: Kevin Todd didn’t have to spend much to decorate elaborately.

Laundry supplies are creatively stored on open shelves.

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Fe at u r e d Hom e Todd The dining area welcomes visitors with a banquet table and snacking bar.

A guest bedroom features a city motif. Bedside dressers feature models of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Empire State Building. Each also are shown in fanciful wall hangings. Todd has his own private patio outside the master bedroom’s French doors. It features its own portable wood-burning fireplace. “I had my niece’s wedding out here,” Todd said. “We had an arbor set up for it and everything. My niece’s mother-in-law purchased that for me.” A cozy conversation area with iron tables and seats surround the fireplace. A kitchen back door opens onto a fenced-in play area for his dog. The rest of the backyard is wide open space, where Todd has a black outdoor dining set. He likes to do his outdoor cooking on a grill.

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YOUR GUIDE TO

Winter HOME SERVICES

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BEYOND The Listing

Illinois River home

has it all Property offers full range of living, business opportunities for owners

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93-acre estate on the Illinois River offers endless possibilities, says agent Nocona Williams of Century 21 Wright Real Estate. She said the property, north of U.S. 62 on winding Oklahoma 10, could appeal to a business owner who wants to run a bed and breakfast or event center.

“Or it could be someone who wants to open a float place, maybe a restaurant,” she said. Maybe build cabins along the river frontage.” Williams said the six-bedroom house also could offer “an escape from city living.” Enter the property through a secure gateway with stone columns and an iron gate showing tree and wildlife silhouettes.

By Cathy Spaulding • Submitted photos 34

Winter Edition 2021


FEATURES »» ADDRESS: 13468 Highway 10, Tahlequah. »» ASKING PRICE: $2,900,000. »» SQUARE FOOTAGE: 6,270. »» LOT SIZE: 93 acres with potential for more. »» BEDROOMS: Six. »» BATHROOMS: Four full baths, two half baths. »» HEATING AND COOLING: Two heating, two cooling units, central, geothermal, zoned. »» APPLIANCES: Compactor, dishwasher, disposal, freezer, ice-maker, microwave oven, range/oven, refrigerator, wine refrigerator. »» FLOORS: Tile and wood. »» OTHER FEATURES: Central vacuum system, vaulted ceilings, sauna/steam shower, security system/owned, fourvehicle garage, storage shed, balconies, decks, enclosed patios, electric entrance gate. Access to Illinois River. »» SCHOOL DISTRICT: Lowrey, pre-K through 8, Tahlequah High School. »» INFORMATION: Nocona Williams, Wright Real Estate, (918) 456-5288, https://www.century21wright.com/ Logs, stonework, a round tower and a sweeping front drive highlight this home on 93 acres on the Illinois River.

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Beyond The Listing “That gate was done locally,” Williams said. “It’s one solid piece. A local artist did the painting on it — Sam Scott. She’s a Cherokee artist.” The house is made of lodge pole pines from Canada. Even the grand staircase leading to the front door is pine logs. Look at some of the logs inside and you might find a wooden raccoon or other animal, carved by Tulsa chainsaw artist Clayton Coss, Williams said. Gas fireplaces in the main room and the master bedroom look straight out of New Mexico with their smooth stucco and rounded heating spaces. Low stucco shelves separate the great room from the raised dining area. One two-story corner in the great room is nothing but windows and wood frame, offering a sweeping view of the creek, which flows into the Illinois. A driveway sweeps around the front of the house.

Above: Even the front porch steps are made of logs. BELOW: The iron front gate was crafted by a local artist.

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Logs and windows surround the entry hall.

Windows and decks offer a panoramic view of area woods and water.

White fireplace and decorative shelves bring a New Mexico style to the grand main room. Green Country Living

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Beyond The Listing

The spacious kitchen features an island snack area and gas range.

Look carefully, and you might find some surprises among the logs and woodwork inside.

Log beams and posts accent the kitchen-dining-living area, as well as support the ceiling.

The kitchen features a refrigerator and sub-zero freezer. Stainless steel appliances are commercial-quality Dacor. The dishwasher is Bosch. The kitchen and most bathrooms have granite counters. The main floor also features a windowed corridor perfect for large plants. It opens onto a deck. The house can come fully furnished, if desired, Williams said. The house has two sets of stairs, one at each end. Wood log stairs wind up and down the

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round turret, surrounding a glass elevator that goes to the basement. Enter through arched French doors with frosted glass to the master bedroom. The bedroom has a cathedral ceiling. A deck overlooks the creek, as well as a waterfall. A stucco room divider features decorative shelves, a bench and a two-sided gas fireplace. The master bath is on the other side of the fireplace. “His” side of the bath features an elevated sink. “Her” side features massive mirrors and a vanity.

“There is actually a refrigerator and a storage system across from the vanity if you want to have a coffee bar set up,” Williams said. A huge walk-in shower features a steam sauna. Massive windows line two sides of a whirlpool bath. “And it’s all marble in the bathroom,” Williams said. Each bedroom has its own built-in style and its own bathroom. One bedroom and bath is handicap accessible. One has its own deck. One has custom bunk beds.


LEFT: Wood stairs leading to the top and bottom floors surround an elevator that leads to the bottom floor.

Bottom Left: The master bedroom features its own vaulted ceiling and deck.

Bottom Right: A room divider features a southwestern-style fireplace.

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Beyond The Listing

The downstairs fireplace features large and small stones. Terraces down the backyard feature space for a fire pit and outdoor tub.

The basement features a copper wet bar with a microwave, refrigerator and sink. A Fort Knox safe by the bar opens onto a humidity-controlled underground room that can double as a wine cellar. “It’s a poured concrete form, so it can be used as a tornado shelter,” Williams said. “There are racks and racks of safe storage. “It would be similar to having a cave. Wine storage, and there’s a locked area that can be used as gun storage.” The stone fireplace in the basement features a piece that broke off from the front porch. Williams said the stone came from Hackett, Arkansas. Also on the first floor, windows surround an area used as a cardio and weight room. Sliding doors in the basement open onto a lower patio. An outdoor kitchen features an infrared grill, granite countertops, a sink and small fridge. A spiral staircase leads up to a wide main floor deck.

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A sun room offers plenty of space for plants.


A safe room offers shelving and space for no telling how many vintages of wine.

“You can see the creek from there, too,” Williams said. A landscaped stone terrace steps down to the creek. It features a fire pit, plus a plumbed and wired space ready for a hot tub. “There’s quite a bit of terraced area where there’s landscaping on a couple of levels,” she said. The property also features a 40- by 80-foot heated shop. Beyond the home site are dozens of acres where people can hunt, fish or simply enjoy nature. “There’s deer all over the place. There’s turkey. There’s duck,” she said. “Anything you can imagine out there. If you’re bird watching, there’s bald eagles right along the river.” Also, Williams said, take a quarter-mile walk “and you’ve got your own private gravel bar down at the river.” ABOVE: The Illinois River woods surround this home, which spectacular views at all levels.

BELOW: Space on the bottom floor can be used for a fitness area.

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

Wildlife photographer Ron Day shows skill with a camera and a computer as he produces art from nature.

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Spending days with

nature Photographer lives, produces art among wildlife, woods on Griffin Mountain

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ildlife photographer Ron Day often spends three or four hours behind camouflaged photographic blinds — waiting. “There’s days you’ll go out and get all your gear and spend the time to get set up, and nothing happens,” he said. “Then there are days you go out and you just can’t

believe how productive it was.” Those good days have produced beautiful pieces of art. Day lives among wildlife and woods on Griffin Mountain overlooking Lake Tenkiller. He sells his photos of butterflies, flowers, landscapes, birds and wildlife on his website, http://www.rondayphotography.com/ .

By Cathy Spaulding • Photos submitted by  Ronald L. Day

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A r t Of t he M at t e r “There’s so much of it that’s beautiful,” Day said. “When I spend a lot of time photographing something, I like to get to know the subject. I feel like if they accept me and don’t act scared, I feel like they say ‘okay, I know you’re there and you’re not going to harm me.’ That’s when I feel like the character of the animal or the bird comes out, in a relaxed situation like that.” Capturing the animal’s character takes time and dedication. “My philosophy is you get suited up every day and go for it, because if you don’t go out there, you don’t get anything,” he said. “I have found that if I get my gear ready and I plan to get ready and do something, I do have some success. More often than not, I get an image. If I get one image, I view that as success.” The Oklahoma City native said he loved nature as a child and began taking pictures at the local zoo. He moved on to photographing flowers, butterflies, birds and wildlife around Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City or Lake Stanley

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Ron Day’s photography crosses all seasons. A tripod keeps the camera steady as he awaits just the right shot.


Day has headed out in deep snow, including during Alaska’s long winter.

Draper in Midwest City. Day’s nature photography began in earnest when he moved to the Lake Tenkiller area 20 years ago. “I’ve got a lot of birds and wildlife in the area,” he said. Last May, he photog raphed a male eastern bluebird in his wooded backyard. “While the primary color photograph is beautiful, I sensed it needed to be taken to the next level,” Day said. Using Topaz software, he began the lengthy process of altering the image on his computer “to get the pencil sketch look.” “I can go in and adjust the size of the brush, the length of the strokes, the width of the strokes, the brightness, the darkness,” he said. “If I like where it’s going, I keep going in that direction until I get it finished. You can make one adjustment and it will change like 1,000 brush strokes in one second.” The result became “Eastern Bluebird Male Posed on a Teasel: A Pencil Sketch.” The image was among Best in Show images from the North American Nature Photographer Association’s

He caught a sunset shot of pelicans in the middle of a lake.

philosophy is you “getMysuited up every day

and go for it, because if you don’t go out there, you don’t get anything. — Ronald Day

2021 Showcase competition. Four more of Day’s photographs reached the Top 250 images in the competition. Day spends a lot of time

photographing his fascinating neighbors. A few years ago, Day spent nearly eight months photographing a family of red foxes in nearby woods. He said he followed them from the time they left their birthing to their sexual maturity. “I went out into the woods almost every day,” he said. “I’d get up early in the morning and wait, because they’re nocturnal animals.” Day said he took more than 16,000 photos. “There were times when I lost the foxes for a week or two because they

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A r t Of t he M at t e r

Day’s nature photography stands on its own. But digital enhancements add a look of their own. His works include, top left, a great egret; top right, an eastern bluebird, subject of his prize winning sketch; bottom left, a red fox; bottom right, sandhill crane.

move around,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was going to see them again or what, but I kept at it.” His e-book, “Spirit of the Fox, Images from Griffin Mountain,” details his time with the family. Day spends a lot of time on the lake, where he has photographed American pelicans during their fall migration. He also has shot photos around Grand Lake, the Wichita Mountains

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and the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve. “That’s a great place to photograph raptors, hawks, owls, and of course, the bison,” he said about the reserve. Beyond Oklahoma, Day has gone to Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. “That’s a fantastic place for large flocks of snow geese and sandhill crane,” he said. “I made three trips over there, several days for each trip.”

He shot photos of bull elk at Yellowstone National Park and bald eagles in Alaska. “During the harsh Alaskan winter, it paid off,” he said. “I got several good photographs.” He said he’d someday enjoy a trip to Antarctica to photograph penguins, icebergs and landscapes. “That’s a place I’d really love to go,” he said.


Day’s work shows diverse skill. Top, A snow goose spreads its wing feathers against a black background. Bottom left, a digital sketch shows a snow goose in flight. Bottom right, a snowy lane offers a chilly escape.

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On The Menu Guide to Area Restaurants

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On The Menu Guide to Area Restaurants


Food & Drink Cook’s Pantry

Love, grace and value are key for this family

T

hat family from Hilldale High is important School, knew they wanted to Jessica to come back to live in and Phan Muskogee. When the Nguyen is evident in everyopportunity arose to purthing they do. First chase property in the and foremost in their downtown area, they lives are their two The Cook’s Pantry saw it as a chance to small children who help strengthen the Melony Carey often accompany their local economy. parents to their new shop, Queen “We see so much love and hard City Oil and Vinegar located on work put into our downtown,” Main Street in Muskogee. The Jessica said. “There are so many Nguyens also consider themselves incredible shops in the area. We lucky to be a part of the downtown are excited to watch downtown conMuskogee family, including cus- tinue to grow and see our children tomers and fellow shop owners. have a place to spend time as they Jessica and Phan, who graduated grow, too.”

Photos by Mandy Corbell

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Jessica and Phan Nguyen turn cooking time into family time.

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Food & Drink Cook’s Pantry Everyone gets in on the action in preparing the meal. The Nguyen’s daughter pokes holes in the rosemary focaccia bread while their son cracks eggs for the blood orange brownies.

The Nguyens had come across some quality olive oils while traveling and wanted to bring those same healthful products to others. “We loved these products for their wholesome purity,” Jessica said. “We also wanted to keep our Muskogee roots as much as possible while designing our business. We chose Queen City Oil and Vinegar as a tribute to our town, which was once considered the Queen City of the Southwest.” The Nguyens believe that their products represent a large part of the relationships that their customers build over meals with people they love. They agree that now more than ever, we need to give others love, grace and value. They live this philosophy every day by creating a space where people who walk through their doors can feel a sense of peace, a welcoming atmosphere, and a place to take a breath from everything happening all around them. Family also played a part in shaping the couple’s culinary skills. Phan’s late sister, Lisa Ousley, was a well-known cook and baker

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LEFT: The Nguyen’s son, Jude, is quite the chef, stirring up a batch of blood orange brownies.

Below: Jessica Nguyen drizzles extra virgin olive oil over the top of the rosemary focaccia bread dough.

in the area cherished for her generosity with food. “We spent countless hours in the kitchen,” Jessica recalls. “She taught me all I know about how to cook and how to ‘correctly’ cut brownies. She will forever be our head chef, and our son, Jude, is quickly following in her footsteps.”

The Nguyens can often be found cooking meals together with their children, 4-yearold son Jude especially, handling cracking eggs, stirring ingredients, and honing his skills expertly. If family is foremost with the Nguyens then love is the foundation of everything they do. “All of our parents and siblings

have been our backbone,” says Jessica. ”We could not have started our journey and continued without them. We know God called us to a mission to love others, even if it is through the way of oils, vinegars, coffees and so much more!” Here the Nguyens share some easy favorite family recipes that readers will love, too.

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Food & Drink Cook’s Pantry

RIGHT: The beautiful glaze on the brownies comes from using blood orange olive oil in place of vegetable oil.

BELOW: Potatoes roasted in Queen City signature olive oil create a gourmet side dish.

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An easy but delicious meal can be prepared by adding a flavored garlic to simple pasta along with chopped fresh spinach and bruschetta seasoning. Top with fresh Parmesan.

A variety of flavorful oils and vinegars can be combined to make delicious dipping sauces.

Blood Orange Brownies

1 box brownie mix of your choice

Follow directions on the box, replacing regular vegetable oil with Blood Orange Olive Oil. Bake according to directions. Cut into squares and enjoy. Drizzle with Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar for a sophisticated taste.

Focaccia Drizzled with Rosemary Olive Oil 1 1/3 cup warm water 2 teaspoons sugar or honey 1 0.25 oz. package active dry yeast 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 cup Parmesan Garlic and Rosemary Olive Oil, plus more for drizzling 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, plus more for sprinkling 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Add warm water and sugar or honey to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough

attachment, and stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Give the yeast a quick stir to mix it in with the water. Then let it sit for 5-10 minute until the yeast is foamy. Knead the dough by setting the mixer to low speed, and add gradually flour, olive oil and salt. Increase speed to medium-low, and continue mixing the dough for 5 minutes. (If the dough is too sticky and isn’t pulling away from the sides of the bowl, add in an extra 1/4 cup flour while it is mixing.) The dough will rise two times. Remove dough from the mixing bowl, and use your hands to shape it into a ball. Grease the mixing bowl (or a separate bowl) with olive oil or cooking spray, then place the dough ball back in the bowl and cover it with a damp towel. Place in a warm location and let the dough rise for 45-60 minutes, or until

it has nearly doubled in size. Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and roll it out into a large circle or rectangle until that the dough is about 1/2-inch thick. Cover the dough again with the damp towel, and let the dough continue to rise for another 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Transfer the dough to a large parchment-covered baking sheet or press it into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Use your fingers to poke deep dents all over the surface of the dough. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil evenly all over the top of the dough, and sprinkle evenly with the fresh rosemary needles and sea salt. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the dough is slightly golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven, and drizzle with a little more olive oil if desired. Slice, and serve warm.

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Scene & Be Seen

MLK Day Parade This year's Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade was the first parade to take place since the MLK parade last year. COVID-19 has prompted either the cancellation or alteration of format to the city's usual lineup of parades. Photos by Cathy Spaulding

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Scene & Be Seen

Ag Appreciation Dinner The Greater Muskogee Area Chamber of Commerce decided to change its annual Ag Appreciation Dinner to drive-thru to prevent potential spread of the coronavirus. Photos by Cathy Spaulding

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Green Country Living — Winter Edition 2021  

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