Closed For the Season… Sort Of 

There is one particular time of year that busy is an understatement. Fireworks season. This ear, I have also joined the ranks of Castle Christmas and will be running the Christmas Store in the Garden Room. Because of this, while the 365 Project will continue on Instagram, the coinciding blog posts will be hit and miss if they happen. I hope that you will follow me on Instagram as the photos unfold, because while in Muskogee and at the Castle, interesting pics are bound to happen. 

The best thing about working Christmas for me, is that I get to reunite with my beloved fireworks for sales from Dec 15-31. It will also give me an opportunity to dust the cobwebs off my other blog site:

Yes, we have our own 500 gram heavyweight! Posted originally on my fireworks blog site.

I have one more 365 post headed your way tomorrow, so be sure not to miss that one. Please have a safe and magnificent holiday season, and look for and capture the beauty in each day.


Day 19: Your Badge, My Heart 

Day 19: Your Badge, My Heart

Around this time 10 years ago, you were in weapons block. Doing qualifying rounds in ice and snow. You were a couple of months from graduating the academy. It had been a very rough time emotionally for all of us as we only got to see you a couple of days each week while you chased the dream that would become your passion, that would become an ever changing way of life.

As I sit and think about where we have come from since then, there are so many thoughts, so many memories, so many emotions, so may frustrations, so many joys. This has been a road met with challenges, some from without, a lot from within, but now as I consider all that has happened, I realize you can not come through any situation without going through the fire.

I don’t have to tell you the challenges law enforcement as a whole is currently going through. You live it everyday. We see it everyday. We worry about it everyday. And while I have the moments of not wanting you to give of yourself anymore due to the lack of appreciation and the hatred that seems to run out of control, it is only half of a coin. That half wants me to tell you to cut loose and get out. Why put your life at risk every single day? Why risk yourself for the possibility of the unthinkable? Why deal with the aggravation of being caught between and angry world and a broken system. Why do we have to continue to pay as a family? We sacrifice, we lose out, we are often on the back burner.  ODMP is forever in front of our eyes, and all we can do is grieve with the rest of the thin blue line family. Good, honest cops pay with their lives and somehow they deserve it due to situations they were never involved with. I fear for you. I fear for us. I fear for our kids.

But then, there is the flip side of that coin. The side that screams honor, integrity, pride. The side that shows what you do is not in vain. The side that shows how you listen, hear and try to find resolution to our citizens situations. The side that when I see you in uniform, I know that our county is that much safer because you care and aim to protect and serve.


Deputy Cross letting the kids check out his cruiser.

Do you know why you are my hero? It isn’t just because of the badge you wear. It isn’t because you helped protect those little girls by making sure the monster that hurt them will spend forever behind bars. It isn’t because you worked with a young lady and even though her life ended tragically, you don’t give up hope in spite of how it haunts you. It isn’t because you are standing for a little boy so viciously attacked by a dog and his parents seeing no legal resolution. It isn’t because you strive to offer the best training possible, or attend community events, or by going out of your way to talk with the kids of our communities or by double checking on our dispatchers to make sure everything is ok. It is because you are my heart, and in spite of all the times I haven’t come first, or a band concert or game or holiday was missed due to job, in your heart we are still first. It shows in your eyes, it is felt in your hug, it is confirmed in the words you speak to our boys. You are my hero because you stand for what is right and you don’t back down from it. You stand for what is lawful and you enforce it. You give me your love so freely and unconditionally. That even when you are so tired and sore and just want to crash, you give of yourself and let us know that we make everything OK for you.

We are 8 months away from 25 years of marriage. You became my hero at “I Do.”


Day 18: The Passage of Time

I find it somewhat amazing that there are buildings and structures that are still standing after hundreds of years. They stand tall in their history and glory and are stunning to behold. I find it equally amazing, that there are other buildings and structures that have not been around even a fraction of the time and are in heartbreaking disrepair and dilapidated.

Day 18: The Passage of Time. Courtyard gate at The Heritage Manor

One such building, is where my husband and I got married, almost 25 years ago. The Heritage Manor was a lovely bed and breakfast found out in northwest Oklahoma, complete with hot tub on the roof. The ceremony was held in the courtyard, and we exchanged our vows on the middle balcony before friends and family. Complete with horse drawn carriage and singing to the man about to become my husband, July 25, 1992 will forever be the most important day of my life. It was the doorway for every other great memory to be built upon.

While out modern day treasure hunting, there was a cache listed at the entry to the drive leading up to the manor. When we pulled up, my hand went to my mouth as I took in the sight before me. How sad to see the place where we joined our lives together falling apart at the seams. Once the shock had passed, I then thought, how amazing this is on the flip side of that coin, to see what being forgotten coupled with time had done to the place. It then opened the discussion for the great what if. What if we could hold our silver anniversary vow renewal here, where it all began.

We had already been working on plans to have a zombie themed renewal and the possibility of having it in a cemetery, but what could be more perfect than to change the location to where our history merged. As we walked around the courtyard and up the stone steps, we talked about our wedding day and formulated plans and ideas for the upcoming event. What if we could replicate some of the shots from out wedding done in our zombie finery and the morbid setting that was once a storybook scene? I looked into the eyes of my husband, and as he looked back, they sparkled with glee at the thought of saying “I Do” here once again.

Before leaving, we stood upon the steps where one of our favorite wedding photos was shot and took a quick photo, letting the passage of time, the memories of the past, the promise of the future wash over us. It was nostalgic, bittersweet and one of the greatest afternoons of our married life.

Day 17: Them Bones

Day 17: Them Bones – found at a cemetery while geocaching

My husband and I are considered a tad strange. We love Halloween and go all out, we own a hearse, we used to live in what was once a funeral home and aren’t creeped out by it, we love things that are a bit morbid, we collect bones when we are out hiking and geocaching.

I am fascinated by the different skulls and bones that we have discovered, the condition that most of them are in and how well preserved they are. The physical make up of the bones themselves and how they are knitted together. I have never had a desire to become a vet, or go into biology, but there is just something about bones that is bewitching.

A while back, we visited the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City and were giddy with joy as we meandered around looking at bones and fossils of all types. It was an incredible journey into the land of bones. My camera had a smorgasbord to feast upon, shooting bones of a variety of animals. I literally squealed with delight when we came upon the section with the bat skeletons. How delicate their wing bones are, and it is mind boggling that such thin pieces of bone can maintain flight.


While the wing bones of bats seem tiny, they are nothing in comparison to that of the humming bird. They are such delicate creatures while hovering around flowers and feeders, but seeing what lies at the base of their being and how they can move so quickly is astonishing. These tiny birds with bones a wisp in thickness soar magically around us.


Of all the shots captured at the bone museum, my favorite has to be the picture of the cephalopod. It wasn’t until I got home and got all of the pictures transferred from camera to computer that I was actually able to see how well the shot really came out. I was nothing short of thrilled and even looking at it now, makes me smile and think, “Wow, I really captured that shot!” It has become one of the memorable, favorite moments behind the camera.


As delightful as the museum itself it,they also have a gift shop where you can buy bone related items, as well as actual bones themselves. Skulls, skeletons, bones of all shapes and sized.  many will look at bones as being morbid and death, for me they are the base of life. How would any living thing move without the strength of the bone? As we hike, as we cache, and as we continue to find them, we will collect these incredible skeletal treasures, the beauty of bones.

Day 14: 8 Legged Art

Most of my life, I have been arachnophobic. It all started with that 1977 horror flick Kingdom of the Spiders. It freaked me out and changed the way I looked at the little 8 legged freaks for a very long time.

Now that I’m an adult, I have gotten much better about my fear. I’ve used photography as a way to help work through a lot of it, taking photos of webs and different spider varieties. Am I all the way there? Nope, but I am now to the point that unless it’s so realistic it’s hard to tell it’s not real, I am cool with fake spiders on most levels. Of course it wasn’t always so, and I was unable to visit the Twisted Spiders booth at OKRF for several years.

Day 14: 8 Legged Art

When I conquered my mindset and began to look at the creations as the interesting jewelry that they really are, I developed  a deep appreciation for the craftsmanship and time invested into each spider.

I personally have two spiders. One a very iridescent and pearlesque creation, the second done from Tigers Eye matching the ring my husband gave me 26 years ago that had once been his mother’s. Both of these lovelies share space on one of my Lilly creations, that goes by the name of Calypso and they seem quite at home resting on said pirate hat. They are eye catching beauties and are an instant conversation starter.

Art comes in so many forms and fashions, and I love that The Castle of Musgkogee brings in vendors who truly have unique art forms that you just don’t see any and everywhere. They are individual, captivating and getting to visit their booths is like Christmas in May. (Or whichever month and whatever festival you may see them at.) I urge you to look up the artisans that I have shared the past few day, as well as those in your own area. Share them with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Help make their businesses and their art successful.  Enjoy the beauty of the distinctive art forms that grace our world. Beauty is art and the artists that create it.

Day 13: Food Is Art

I can proudly claim that my child is a culinary student. I can also proudly claim that my child is a food artist. Tristan knew from an early age that he was going to go into the culinary field. At 8 years old, his hero and culinary idol was none other than Bobby Flay. As he grew older, his food interest shifted to that of confection and his love and passion became that of cakes and cupcakes. He would bake at home and finally, his senior year in high school enrolled in cake decorating classes at the Vo-Tech in our area.

Day 13: Food IS Art

He learned the basics of decorative cake design, along with that of making various flowers. Letting his creativity run amok, he made numerous cakes for friends, family, school functions and my kitchen showed the love of his craft.

It wasn’t until he went through his dessert and showpiece classes at culinary school that his art undoubtedly began to flourish. With access to the tools and supplies of his dreams, his imagination and artistic ability took form, and his talent began to blow the minds of us all. The beautiful cakes, pies and pastries, along with his creations in tallow and chocolate were nothing short of spectacular, and taking this journey has opened up new goals for him.trist

When he was little, we used to tell him and his brothers that the only thing in the world that would ever stop him from accomplishing anything would be him, that there was nothing he couldn’t achieve. He took us at our word and his dream is to intern with Ron Ben-Israel and learn all that he can from the Sweet Genius himself. This small town Oklahoma boy is looking towards NYC and has great plans to make all of his culinary dreams come true. I have no doubt he will achieve his artistic and culinary goals and will one day be a force to be reckoned with in the food industry.

Day 11: Eggceptional Beauty

365 Project Day 11: Eggceptional Beauty

Today’s inspired photo is actually from a shot I took back in May of this year during festival. A one of a kind, hand crafted goblet made from eggshell, ostrich I believe, that was done for my son.  It is just one example of the breathtaking artwork of today’s featured artist. 

I met Yolanda, owner of Royal Eggs several years ago at OKRF. To explore her booth was and is nothing short of enchanting. To be able to take one of earths most fragile substances and turn it into ethreal pieces of art, jewelry, timepieces, is almost uncanny. Yolanda does it so Exquisitely and masterfully leaving you nothing short of amazed. 

Zombie cat egg

Police car egg

My husband an I each have our own personally crafted eggs that we gifted to each other. Being a fan of the macabre, my husband gave me the ultimate anniversary gift in the form of a zombie cat egg. To date, it is probably my most favorite gift he’s given me. A few years later, I in turn commissioned a police car egg. The touch of the little pig police officer was genius and brought a huge smile to his face. 

Yes, that’s really eggshell

It is not just the stunning art and craftsmanship of Royal Eggs that makes the Italian Quarter top notch, but it is Yolanda herself. Always on hand to lift your spirits, share her wisdom, offer a witty joke or story and simply bring light into your life. She unequivocally is one of the most outstanding women I have ever known. She is as unique as her art and even more lovely. 

It saddens me that I only get to see her in person, and the stunning eggs that she creates only a few days out of the year. But when we meet back up at Castleton each spring, it’s like we were just together the day before. Royal Eggs sincerely is some of the most extraordinary artwork you will ever encounter.