Thursday, December 8, 2016


Dec. 8, 2016
First things first ....  winter has hit full-on. We are still having daytime temperatures in the high 40's and 50 degree range but we've had the first freeze for the year, which isn't bad at all considering it's already December!  We were able to get all of the potted plants that can't survive the winter into the house.  The kids have made progress on their house but now that the days are getting colder, the amount of time they can work on it is less each day.

Our friend Kelly from Austin came up to spend Thanksgiving with us. We had a pork loin instead of turkey, but otherwise all of the "traditional" fare was on the table, including both pumpkin and pecan pies, mashed potatoes, canned cranberry sauce, and green bean casserole.  It was a great time of thanksgiving.  We missed having Blake here with us, but she will be here for Christmas.

I've been focusing on "marketing" the B&B and fundraising for our arts foundation so that we can get that open.  We've had steady business at the B&B, with several couples who've returned two or three times.  Andy and Drew have been working on the Arts building in town. Andy's bought the glass block windows for the windows in the back of the building and has gotten some plumbing work done.  We moved all of our art supplies that we had in the basement of our church (since we have held several art programs for kids there) and took them to the Arts Center for storage. There is a new "regime" at the church and some of the programs we had started involving art and reading may not continue there.  That's also incentive for Andy to finish the renovations of the Art building.  In the meantime, I've been working with a couple who want to establish an after school program to help kids with homework and give them recreational activities. 

I am still involved with the Red Carpet Country tourism association and the 2017 issue of the Visitors Guide is ready to print. I haven't seen a "proof" of it yet so I'm eager for the delivery date of January 1st.  Being on the board has been a great experience for me as our meetings are held in a different town within the Red Carpet Country area (which is northwest and north central Oklahoma, including the panhandle and Blaine County being the southernmost part of the Country).  I've discovered several museums and other tourist attractions that I probably would not get to if we weren't having a meeting at or near those venues.  

The house concert we had last night was another success. We had made contact with a singer/songwriter from Tulsa, named Dan Martin (website is He has been on tour, from California, through Colorado, and was travelling from New Mexico on his way back home in Tulsa.  A really nice guy and great songwriter/musician like Steve Earle, Townes VanZant, John Prine. 
It was a great evening with good friends, conversation and storytelling, wine, and pumpkin cheesecake squares, along with a few other snacks. Can't wait for our next concert, which will be in January.  Stay posted by "liking" the OKLAHOMA HOUSE CONCERT facebook page, or send a text or email to us.   

THANKS for sticking with me through this narrative.   Now here is the recipe for the BACON JAM -- hope you'll try it. 

Sweet & Savory Bacon Jam  -  Makes 1 1/2 to 2 cups (can be doubled or tripled)

1 pound bacon
2 small sweet onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper  (I put the salt in last after tasting, since the bacon is usually salty enough. 

Fry the bacon like you normally would (I cooked it in a skillet so that I could use some of the bacon grease for the caramelized onion.) 

Set aside the cooked bacon and drain off some of the grease from the pan.  Add the onion to the pan you fried the bacon in and cook on medium heat, stirring regularly, until  onions are caramelized (can take about thirty minutes).

 Add the maple syrup, vinegar, Dijon, and Worcestershire sauce, and pepper to the onion. Pour in 1/4 cup of water and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes to make sure all ingredients are well mixed.  

Allow the mixture to cool for 20 minutes or so.  break up the bacon into smaller pieces and put those into a food processor or blender.  Then transfer the onion mixture to the blender or food processor.  Pulse a few times to puree the bacon pieces, stopping every pulse or two to stir and check the consistency — it should be thick and chunky, not a paste.  You can pulse a few times more if you want a smoother consistency. 

Transfer to an airtight (preferably glass) container. Bacon jam can be refrigerated for up to one month . Serve at room temperature (or transfer to microwave safe mini-bowl and heat on defrost for a minute).
** Recipe Notes
One “taster” said it was “too bacony”.   So on the next batch I cut the syrup in half, did not add the water, and added a can of crushed tomatoes (after draining) at the food processor stage – then it wasn’t quite so sweet and actually tasted like a BLT without the lettuce (which one could add for a sandwich.) 

I served it to guests with a toasted bagel, slices of tomato on the side, and a fried egg.  I wish I'd taken a photo of it; I'll have to do that next time I serve it to guests! 
Hope you enjoy it!! 


November 2016

It's already mid-November and I don't know where the time has gone..... the weather is still pleasant, no freezes yet and daytime temperatures have been ranging from 60 to 80 degrees.  I've been harvesting tomatoes both from our own garden and from the Community Garden, which I give away.  I planted some sweet potato slips kind of late in the year, but since the weather has held up we are hoping that we are able to harvest at least a few.  I just saw an episode of the OSU Oklahoma Gardening show on Saturday and they said the end of October is about the right time to harvest.  Next year I plan on getting the slips in the ground a month earlier.  This year it was a fluke -- I happened to have some sweet potatoes in the kitchen that looked like they were trying to grow "roots" on their eyes, so I cut those eyes off, put them in water, and sure enough they grew roots and voila, I had sweet potato slips to plant!  I took a chance and got them in the ground and they have survived.  We aren't supposed to get a freeze until the end of next week (Nov. 20 maybe), so I'll be checking to see if there is anything to harvest. 
We started the month off with a BANG, providing a venue for a pre-wedding pre-rehearsal dinner get-together on the patio with a wood-fired pizza dinner for 22 people who gathered here from all corners of the US - Okeene, Iowa, OKC, New Mexico, and some from Watonga.  We were honored to be able to participate in the festivities for this wonderful group of people, and made new friends to boot.  The party went on till all hours..... no names or other details (what happens at the Retreat stays at the Retreat!)

Then on the first weekend of November we had returning guests, a father and his two sons who come out to this area for a family reunion every year and spend time mountain biking at Roman Nose State Park.  This is the fourth year they have come to stay at our place, but alas one of the boys was unable to come due to the loss of a family member.  They are always great guests and bring homemade beer to share.  I made a new, special recipe for breakfast for them to  try.......

The acorns have been falling for over a month, and the leaves are starting to change color and drop to the ground. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

October 30, 2016

Dear friends,
If you've visited the Retreat in the past year, please go to and write a review! Thanks!

 I start my morning with the Lord's prayer and quiet meditation. Sometimes we have to look deep inside ourselves to find strength and comfort in dealing with the challenges of life.  Our philosophy is to keep on working, keep smiling, keep on hoping, keep on praying, and we know everything is going to be OK in the end.  We appreciate the blessings in our life and the opportunities we have to share those blessings.

The Retreat was booked up for the weekend of October 14-15, some  guests here for the cheese festival, some who just came out for a getaway weekend.  The weather was very nice other than a strong wind. For breakfast I made a frittata with a layer of hash brown potatos, eggs, sliced fresh tomatos, a light layer of cheddar cheese, garnished with fresh rosemary. Bacon on the side and fruit. We're still getting cherry tomatos from the house garden plants, basil, rosemary, and arugula. 

I spent that Friday morning in town and "interviewed" some of the vendors and some of the crowd, ate a smoked pork sandwich, and ran into several couples who had previously stayed with us at some point during the year.  You can take the word "wine" out of the name of the Watonga Cheese & Wine festival but that doesn't change the fact that Oklahoma wineries bring a huge crowd to the festival. What goes better with cheese (other than chocolate -- ah ah, there's an idea for a booth for next year)! On Saturday I worked the fundraiser booth for the Kiwanis Club, selling cheese.  This year the festival was spread out, with different activities at different locations other than Main Street, so I didn't have the chance to go to see quite a bit of the activities.   

This past week I decided to use some of the cherry tomatoes from the community garden for our dinner.  We've had a good crop and  I've given away two baskets of tomatoes so far.  We have some sweet potatoes planted in the beds there, and some okra, which is producing in spite of the late start.  Next year we'll get started  planting in the spring and hopefully have more young people come out to garden.  So, I used the cherry tomatoes, basil from our home garden, a little chopped rosemary, cubed mozarella cheese, garlic, a little pepper, some snips of green onion from my window "garden".  A splash of balsamic vinegar and some extra virgin olive oil, and voila, a salad to go with the spaghetti squash Drew made for dinner one evening.   We are blessed by the bounty of God's nature.

Our next house concert is Dan Martin, from Tulsa OK, on December 7.  I booked him to play at the cheese festival a couple of years ago, when I was in charge of entertainment for the festival, and we are excited to have him come out and play at our place.  We are currently asking for donations to Phoenix Circle Foundation so that we can continue bringing musicians out here (SEND MONEY PLEASE!!  See the Phoenix Circle Foundation facebook page).  This past week Andy and I went to OKC for an evening of networking with musicians and artists, and we toured the 21C Museum art gallery.  We made lots of contacts for future House Concerts, and got some ideas for our art gallery and studio space Andy and Drew continue to work on. 

Now it is Halloween.  The kids decorated the house and we plan on spending the evening reading  "scary" stories out loud. 

As for movies for the holiday, forget Nightmare on Elm St. and the Exorcist. Here is my list of creepy, scary movies:
Stir of Echoes (with Kevin Bacon)
Frailty (with Matthew McConnehey)
 Jennifer Eight (with Uma Thurman)
Suspect Zero (with Ben Kingsley )
Primal Fear (with Edward Norton and Richard Gere)
Seven (Brad Pitt)
The Cell (Jennifer Lopez)
The Gift (with Cate Blanchett)
The Skeleton Key (Kate Hudson)
and of course, Rosemary's Baby.  


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October House Concert

Wed. Oct 12.  My, how the time is flying by!
On Friday, I worked at the Whirlwind Winery in the afternoon.  It was a quiet day and I listened to the Glenn Roth CD "Welcome Home” while I got caught up on some writing.   
Thursday, Oct. 6,  was a busy day -- cleaning house, doing laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, and getting ready for the House Concert with Merry Ellen Kirk, Ruth Acuff, and Drew Lance.  Everybody pitched in – Jenna offered to make a beet, quinoa, and spinach salad for dinner; Drew made hummus; we had cheese curds, pate, and dark chocolate with wine and champagne. The B&B and events we host for Phoenix Circle Foundation take all of our efforts, working together. 
The Chaparral Retreat was the first stop on the second leg of Merry Ellen and Ruth's "EARTH ANGEL" tour.   


One of our friends from Tulsa drove in for the concert.  I promoted the show via multiple venues: flyers posted locally in windows of businesses, and  posters distributed to  shops in Weatherford, Canton, Geary, and Kingfisher, and at the Student Union, University Press, and Music Dept. at SWOSU.  I set up a facebook EVENT and posted on all of my facebook pages (my personal page, Oklahoma House Concerts, Phoenix Circle Foundation, Blaine County Community Events, Red Carpet Country Tourism page) and shared with all of the groups I am a member of.  We promoted on the Chaparral Retreat website, TravelOK, and the KOSU radio events calendar.  I sent out email invitations.  The week before the show, I sent in a press release to the local newspaper -- since Phoenix Circle Foundation is a nonprofit AND we pay for a weekly ad in the paper, I had asked that they print a listing in their “What’s Happening” section.  Sadly, the newspaper has not printed anything about the House Concerts sponsored by Phoenix Circle Foundation.  We do, however, receive a lot of response to our social media posts.  
Even though it had been a beautiful day on Thursday, we decided to set up indoors for the concert.  It had rained the night before and the forecast for rain on Thursday night was uncertain.  As it turned out, it did not rain until the late evening.  The audience was small but that just made for a more intimate evening.  We did have one new visitor and he was excited to learn about all that we are doing in the community.  Everything works out as it is supposed to be! 

Though Merry Ellen Kirk has played here before, and I knew her music to be fresh and beautiful, I did not know what to expect from a harpist.   Ruth Acuff's  songwriting, storytelling, her voice, and the way she was able to transport me to another plane with her fingers on the strings of the instrument was not like anything else I have ever experienced!  Merry Ellen's voice and songwriting are like fairy dust .... Drew's percussion work perfectly complimented both singers' music.   Our time together and conversation after the concert made it a magical evening.  I didn’t want to go to bed!

Before the musicians packed up for their trip to Tulsa on Friday morning, we all took a walk through the woods, checked on the chickens, and “toured” Drew and Jenna’s building project.  The air was chilly but it was sunny.  Autumn keeps threatening to begin, but we’ve had temperatures this past week as high as 90 degrees and overnight lows as low as 45.  On Thursday it was 66 degrees in the morning; on Friday morning it was 50 degrees.  We all needed sweaters for our morning trek.   The trio planned to go to Roman Nose State Park before leaving the area.

After breakfast on Friday morning, Andy and our friend from Tulsa took off for Dallas, to go to the Texas/OU game on Saturday.   [AND OU WON!!]  The TX/OU game has always been on the second weekend of October, the same weekend as the Watonga Cheese Festival,  but this year the Festival was moved to the weekend of Oct 14-15.   That actually works out better for us and our business.  In past years when Andy and I were involved with helping run the Cheese Festival, we devoted time not only before the festival, but from Thursday to Sunday we were in town from 9:00 am until 7:00 pm setting up, making sure everything ran smoothly, and then cleaning up; we were not able to tend to B&;B guests and ended up turning down business during that weekend.  Last year Andy went to the game in Dallas and I stayed here, and we did have house guests.  This year, since the Festival is a week later, we have a full house booked and Andy will be home to help. 

This week is time to do some cleanup outdoors - rake some leaves, trim some overgrowth, sweep and pick up some of the billions of acorns that have already fallen. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Update for friends

I've been handwriting in my journal daily over the past couple of months as we've gone through many changes this summer.  The past month has been especially difficult but I've come to terms with it all and we are moving forward. We've had lots of guests at the B&B and are booked full for the upcoming Cheese Festival.
I turned in my resignation as church secretary and am now focusing on all the projects we've started at our house and in town.   Andy and Drew have been working on the arts building.  We hosted a house concert with Glenn Roth, a finger style guitarist from Connecticut, on Sept. 17.  It was a rainy day so we didn't have a lot of people come out, but those that did got to experience a very special show.  Glenn is a great musician and we were blessed to have him come out here.  One of the benefits of holding the house concerts is that we get to meet some really good people and make new friends from all over the country, not only the musicians but audience members too.  We've been promoting  the house concerts at the SWOSU campus and shops in Weatherford, as well as in OKC and suburbs.  On the evening of Glenn's show, Gentry Counce, an OKC musician, and her boyfriend came out to see Glenn perform.  While we were sitting around visiting after Glenn played, Gentry got out her guitar and graced us with a couple of songs.  She's a facebook friend and we are glad to be able to spread the word about where she is playing. 

It's been a bad allergy season and I got really congested in mid-September. That congestion turned into bronchitis and I ended up taking an antibiotic.  That was hard on my system and when it was all said and done, I was out of commission for more about three weeks.  All is well now.   


Saturday, September 17, 2016

GLENN ROTH performing tonight

Click on the above link for a sample of some fine guitar work by GLENN ROTH. 
Glenn will be at the Chaparral Retreat (Hwy 8A, 1 mile from Roman Nose State Park near Watonga, OK) for a House Concert this evening, Saturday, Sept. 17, at 6:00 pm. Sponsored by Phoenix Circle Foundation, the concert is FREE; tips are welcome and appreciated. It is BYO beverage, snack, lawnchair or blanket. Come out for a unique experience in rural OK under a canopy of native oak trees.
Glenn is a fingerstyle guitarist, his thumb riding the bassline and the melody driving all. His compositions suggest multiple guitars, but it’s really just one guy, ten flying fingers, one instrument. All instrumental, Glenn’s songs suggest moods and narratives that compel the listener to fill in the details.

Glenn's usual workspace is the vaulted splendor of Grand Central Terminal or the tunnels and platforms of the New York City subway system. A literal “underground” sensation, Glenn is a licensed performer in the MTA’s “Music under New York” program, playing for the most distracted and demanding audience in the world: legions of workers rushing to jobs throughout the Big Apple. And his fingers work magic, creating a soundscape of compelling melodies that invite them to leave the city rush behind on an aural escape.
Glenn plays regularly throughout the northeast and tours nationally & internationally to bring his music to new fans and locales.

The Chaparral Retreat is the ONLY place in Oklahoma Glenn is playing on his current tour. Come out and SUPPORT LIVE MUSIC.  As always, donations to Phoenix Circle Foundation allow us to continue to bring this kind of arts program and more to rural Oklahoma.  Thanks for your support!

[Linda Barrett, Ed.]

Saturday, September 10, 2016


Sept. 5, 2016  Monday  Labor Day

 In spite of this weekend being a traditional "holiday", many have been laboring with end-of-summer chores.  Drew and Jenna and Andy all went out before the break of day to help our local vintners, Brad and Don, and other volunteers to harvest grapes out near Fay OK. They then bring the buckets of grapes to the winery building in town and go through the crush and press process to get the juice for future wines.  It is a wonderful agri-tourism activity, with people coming from Edmond, other suburbs of OKC, and as far away as Dallas to help.  Brad's wife cooks and sets out a wonderful lunch for the workers. They are harvesting again this morning to try to get the last of the grapes off the vine, so it will be another busy day.

There were family reunions and gatherings all during the month of August in the area.  Motels were full, the Lodge and campsites at  Roman Nose  State Park were all filled, and Chaparral Retreat & Guesthouse B&B had a full house.  The weather has been beautiful, especially over Labor Day weekend.  There were more boats on Canton Lake than I have seen out there in several years, and the beach was packed. We took friends out to the Overlook restaurant on the lake -- they serve really good hamburgers and the best onion rings I think I've ever had.

This was a perfect weekend to attract tourists to our area.  Last year I got elected to the board of directors of a state tourism organization, to represent Blaine County,  in the hopes that I could help give Watonga some exposure and let the town "leaders" see how tourism can work for the city as an economic development tool.  After eight years here, I've learned that there are thousands of people who come to our area but less than one percent of them know that there is anything to do in the nearby town or anything other than the State Park.  We are still waiting for the city of Watonga and the Chamber of Commerce to realize this.  Actually Andy and I aren't "waiting" anymore; we've accepted that the town itself isn't really interested in tourism dollars.  So we do what we can to give visitors something to do -- and believe me, there are lots of visitors that come here during the spring, summer, and fall.  Our concert series, called OKLAHOMA HOUSE CONCERTS, has grown this past year and we're becoming known as a unique venue for live musicians from all over the country.  We have so much fun with our guests and one-day visitors and people who come out for the music and art activities.  [I'm going to stop my fall down the rabbit hole now .... ]

 These concerts are  FREE -- we  provide lodging and meals to the artist, and accept donations to the PHOENIX CIRCLE FOUNDATION (a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational nonprofit organization to be able to bring music and arts education programs to rural Oklahoma.  Of course, tips to the musician and CD sales help them as they journey across country to share their talents. 
The evening is BYO Beverage, snacks, lawn chair or blanket.   We guarantee you'll have a special experience.  More information is available on our facebook page or the Retreat's website,  We also promote these events at and on KOSU Community Calendar.

The Blaine County Free Fair was held last the last weekend in August.  Winners in the numerous categories will be in the Watonga Republican.  On a personal note, I won ribbons on two photographs I submitted (below).  I encourage all Blaine County residents to start thinking about what they can contribute to the Blaine County Fair for next year!! 

(c) Linda Barrett 2016

 Merry Ellen Kirk and Ruth Acuff,  Oct. 6, time TBA

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Out in the middle of rural NW Oklahoma, just one hour from Oklahoma City, the owners of the Chaparral Retreat & Guesthouse have started  a series of OKLAHOMA HOUSE CONCERTS that is quickly becoming a destination for musicians from all over the country!  Next month (Sept. 17), Mr. Glenn Roth will be stopping in to perform here following his appearance at the  Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield,KS  and before he heads to Rio Rancho, NM and Taos ,NM.  We are so fortunate to be able to provide a unique venue for musicians and an informal and beautiful setting for these concerts.
These concerts are  FREE -- the proprietors provide lodging and meals to the artist, and accept donations to the PHOENIX CIRCLE FOUNDATION (a 501(c)(3) charitable and educational nonprofit organization to be able to bring music and arts education programs to rural Oklahoma.  Of course, tips to the musician and CD sales help them as they journey across country to share their talents. 
The evening is BYO Beverage, snacks, lawn chair, and cameras.  We guarantee you'll have a special experience at an OKLAHOMA HOUSE CONCERT.   More information is available on our facebook page or the Retreat's website,  We also promote these events at and on KOSU Community Calendar.

On Oct.6, we are in for another special musical treat.

Do you see WATONGA OK on this tour list?
If you do, Share with your friends and hear some of their music on youtube, We are very fortunate to be attracting a variety of talent from all over the U.S. to come to our area.
OKLAHOMA HOUSE CONCERTS are informal gatherings at the Chaparral Retreat, near Roman Nose State Park. FREE concerts,BYOB in a beautiful setting. We provide lodging for the musicians and they give us a concert for tips and CD sales.
ASO, PLease click on one of the like, comment, or share buttons on one of our facebook pages to let us know you've seen this the post!  Each month we hear from at least a dozen people who say "I didn't know you were having a concert at your place."  We want to get the word out, so THANKS for your support and sharing!

(c) Linda Barrett [Ed.]

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Watonga OK: MUSIC AND ART - the spice of life

Watonga OK: MUSIC AND ART - the spice of life: July 22, 2016 I met some very special, big-hearted, courageous, and talented people last night at the Paint Party fundraiser for Leah...

Monday, June 20, 2016


JUNE 19, 2016  Happy Father's Day to all who have experienced the joy of being a father and of having a father in their life. 
We didn't do too much special -- Andy had to get on the road after church to do his "other job".  It was pleasant in the morning, but by the time we got out of church it was hot and humid.  We had a full house all weekend ('tis family reunion season) so after all of that fun we all needed a restful day.  I had full intentions of cleaning out my closet and bureau drawers and putting things in boxes and bags for Goodwill.  I did a little of that, but I started to do laundry and decided to get through that before sorting clothes to give away.  I'm sure you've guessed -- I didn't get much "cleaning" done, but I did pull out a few things.  In between going in and out of the house to change loads of laundry, I read, I wrote in my journal, and caught up on some TV and movies I had recorded.  I watched "A Walk in the Woods" with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte.  It was a sweet movie; I recommend it for a Sunday afternoon respite. 

I made chicken mole and took some to our new pastor, Tracey Ivy, along with some Hawaiian rolls to serve it on, and that's what I had for dinner.  It brought back fond memories; I wrote a short story about it. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summer 2016

June 9, 2016  - [I originally wrote parts of this as a "press release" and sent it to some regional newspapers.  Our local newspaper prints updates from several local organizations and covers events "in town" but does not cover what is going on out here unless it is a paid advertisement.] 

May was a very busy month for the Chaparral Retreat and Guesthouse.   Just this past week visitors have come from Edmond, Wichita KS, and Denton, TX.  Earlier in the month Watonga's local songbird, Katie Ballew, and her singing partner Kelly Potts, performed for a modest but very appreciative audience on a Sunday afternoon.  The Chaparral Retreat is the venue for Oklahoma House Concerts, and the second group to play there in May was a trio from Nashville called "My Politic".  Check them out on!  A honeymooning couple came to stay last weekend and experienced the beauty of nature at this quiet little paradise tucked behind fifty-year old trees.  If you don't know what you are looking for as you drive north from Watonga on State Hwy 8A toward Roman Nose State Park, you'll miss it completely (look to your right for a wood fence and a rock sign). The place is a hidden gem and has an interesting history to go with it.

The third wave of color on the property are just now blooming:  daylillies, coreopsis, canna lillies, moon flower, four-o'clocks, Indian blanket and other wildflowers.  Mrs. Barrett gives short tours of the property to show children what they can grow to eat:  basil, mint, rosemary, parsley, cilantro.  The larger garden hosts tomatoes, squash, and green beans.  Guests at the Retreat are able to hike along trails under the canopy of native trees on the property, or are directed to visit the state park just down the road where they can dip their feet in the cold natural springs there, learn about the native American history of the area, admire the amazing rock work of the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and eat at the recently-remodeled Lodge restaurant.  The temperatures have now turned "hot", spring is over and summer is upon us.  The swimming pool at the State Park is not yet open for the season but we are looking forward to it opening soon. 

This past week we were glad to get a visit from friends who live in Coppell, TX, where we raised our children. We caught up on what's going on with our kids, reminisced about band and Boy Scouts which both of our boys were involved in, and just had a relaxing time of it.  They explored the town, took pictures of some of the historic buildings, and spent a day hiking at the State Park. Drew and Jenna made pizza for dinner on the Carnes' last evening with us and we played Farkle (a dice game). 

The Barrett family is involved in establishing a new "Health & Hunger Community Garden"  in the town of Watonga, made possible by a collaboration between OSU's County Extension Service, the 1st United Methodist Church, and other community partners.  We have spent many hours during the past month  putting up fencing around the garden space and setting up four raised beds.  During the church's VBS we took children and their parents to the site and explained what was happening here, gave them information about composting and water conservation, and let the children plant the few tomato seedlings we had started.  There will be a community meeting at the Methodist Church in the next week or so where individuals and groups can get information about the project and sign up to "adopt a plot" or otherwise volunteer to work in the garden.  Everyone in the community is invited to participate in maintaining the garden space, growing and harvesting fresh produce, and learning about chemical-free gardening and composting.  For more information and to register to help with this project, contact Linda Barrett at 580-623-5269 or cell:  940-735-1065.  Check out the "Blaine County Community Events" facebook page for other things going on in our area.  /Linda Barrett

Friday, May 13, 2016

First Annual Arts Scholarship Awarded

As most of our friends know, Andy and I started a charitable and educational 501(c)(3) organization several years ago called PHOENIX CIRCLE FOUNDATION.  Since moving to Oklahoma, we have made this organization's mission to bring art opportunities to the rural area of Blaine County, Oklahoma.  Art classes are not offered as part of the school curriculum in Watonga.  The school system does have a great band program (Andy was the beneficiary of that program when he went to school here... many years ago...).  The goal of our Foundation is to provide opportunities to experience the Arts.  We sponsor and promote educational, charitable, and cultural events and provide programs, materials and resources in a community where not all families can afford art materials, art classes, field trips to museums, or other opportunities to experience the Arts.

 In accomplishing our mission, the Foundation:
·         Promotes education in all areas, including health and wellness, the environment, the arts and humanities;
·         Sponsor and promote educational, charitable, and cultural events and opportunities for children and families.
·         Partners with local public schools, Head Start programs and other social programs by providing materials and resources and sponsoring activities.
·         Raises funds, applies for grants, and distributes monies, resources and programs to further our purpose.

Our Board and supporters firmly believe that the ARTS matter to communities like Watonga by providing            *  Economic Development Opportunities
                          * Well-rounded educational programs for our young people
    *   Preserved heritage and culture
                           * Enhanced quality of life

This year the Foundation was able to award the first annual Arts Scholarship to a high school senior, thanks to the support of community donors.  The $250 scholarship went to Katarina Larson, who intends to continue her education in the field of study of the Arts.   After graduation this month, Ms. Larson will be participating in an internship at LucasFilm’s Industrial Light & Magic Studio in Marin, California. 

A donation to Phoenix Circle Foundation is tax-deductible to individuals and to businesses in accordance with Federal IRS regulations.  Please consult your tax advisor for more information.
Phoenix Circle Foundation continues to strive to work with community partners for the benefit of our young people.  Our goal for 2016 is to establish an Arts Center in Watonga where children and adults can engage in creative activities and enjoy the benefits of the ARTS.  Anyone  can help us achieve our mission by a tax-deductible donation, or by attending our Liquid ART paint parties,  Oklahoma House Concerts, Wood-fired Pizza Dinner fundraisers, and ART for FUNd$  © opportunities.   For More Information, see our Facebook  Pages and “LIKE” us, or call Linda Barrett at 580-623-4269. 

Our 2015  End of Year Annual Report is available at “”. 

© 1/2016 Phoenix Circle Foundation  

Monday, May 2, 2016

First of May

For the past two weekends we've been blessed with visits from old friends and made new friends.  On one of those evenings we were laughing about how I've been called an irritant because I've questioned the status quo in the small town near where we live.  One of my friends commented "Oysters make pearls in response to an irritant," such as a grain of sand or another object, by secreting a substance that in essence covers the irritant. My response was, "Then I guess someday I'll be a pearl".  That moment changed my perspective. Thank you friends for your insight!    

We've had a pretty good spring this year, with no late freezes and sufficient rain.  The gardens began blooming early - that told me it was going to be an early spring. ..... (to be continued)  

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Chaparral Retreat in bloom - April 2016

Current photos of the grounds.  I'm still working on picking up leaves that fell last fall.

 The rest of the irises have
buds on them, about to pop!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Spring and summer in Blaine County

Who remembers swimming in this spring-fed natural pool? 
My husband grew up one mile from this park, on Hwy 8A outside of Watonga, OK. The first time he brought me from Texas to meet his family, we went out to Roman Nose State Park and I saw this swimming hole. It was beautiful. Now I live in that family home and we call it the Chaparral Retreat, a Bed & Breakfast. The swimming hole has been "updated" but the park is still a natural wonder. The swimming pool opens on Memorial Day weekend. The B&B is open year'round. We serve wood-fired pizza dinners and host Oklahoma House Concerts. Check us out at!


Friday, March 25, 2016


2015 ended with a bang - an ice storm that left us without power until the end of the day on January 1, 2016.  All of the cleaning in the garage we had intended to do was postponed, though we did get through a few boxes, rearranged some boxes we will store for a while more, and threw away at least four big black bags of trash.  We almost have room for a car now!!  We found our breadmaking machine in a cardboard box marked "Kitchen Stuff"--this  coming weekend we'll have to give it a try and see if it still works!!  Drew and Jenna make such fabulous handmade bread from scratch, I'm not sure keeping the breadmaker is worth it; but we'll give it a try! We found a box of antiques that I'll take into OKC to get appraised -- nothing we'll get rich off, but there are some nice glass plates and a set of painted plates, probably vintage '20s.  I have a box ready to take to the Goodwill store too. 

Drew and Jenna were on the road visiting friends and family,  and spent the holidays with Jenna's family. They returned safely to us on Jan 7.  Meanwhile, we fed and watered the hens and the cats, gathered eggs enough to give away a few dozen and still have some for ourselves, and made cinnamon & brown sugar roasted pecans. 

It's Already February, so buckle down for a long read.....

 I've let time go by without writing here, but I did finish the script for the children's play I've been working on for three years!!  I am eager to do a "reading", hopefully sometime soon.  We'll get out some wine, assign parts, and read through the script.....
Christmas and the beginning of the New Year were quiet at the Retreat.  The ice storms caused quite a bit of damage to trees so we have our work cut out for us between now and probably April to get all of the dead wood cut up and stacked and trim off damaged tree limbs.  If you look at Google Maps and search for Chaparral Retreat, or 4978 OK Hwy 8A, you'll see how we are surrounded by forest.  The forest is less dense after the ice damage - probably won't show up on Google Maps for six months to a year.  
Andy and I worked on cleaning out some boxes from the garage to make room to actually park a car in there!  SUCCESS!  After Drew and Jenna got back from their excursion to visit her family, AJ and I went down to Dallas to visit friends and pick up the new baby.  We haven't had a new car in ten years, and this "new" one is a 2010.  Can't wait for warm weather when we can put the top down! 

The kids have made some progress on their house in spite of weather limitations—it is exciting to see.  We’re still having cold temperatures overnight and early morning, but the numbers are moving up slowly.  Then again, we can have five days of temps in the 30's and 40's  and wind, and then five days of temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s. 
As a board member of the Oklahoma Tourism group, Red Carpet Country Tourism Assoc., I’ve been distributing the annual Visitors Guide all around our  town and hope to get to other small towns both in our county and around the state.  Our B&B's audience is people traveling and looking for a nice, quiet, clean, and even something a little upscale (which we are), so we need to get the tourism guides distributed at hotels and convention centers in the suburbs.  We did drop some off at the OK/Texas border Welcome Center and at the Cherokee Visitor’s Center on I-40. 
Drew and Jenna have ordered worms for their composting bins and are busy shredding paper and hauling manure to get the bins set up.  Sounds exciting, doesn’t it!!  We're thinking about establishing a community garden in town, looking for a "Health and Hunger" grant.
We had a Liquid ART event on Friday, Feb. 12 – calling it a pre-Valentine date night.  On the 13th we had a full house of guests from Edmond, OK, and added a Valentine’s dinner for all on Saturday night.  I put together a menu of tapas with paella as the main course.  Our local vintner brought wine.  I miss the days in Dallas when we could go to happy hour and graze and sit for hours with friends, telling stories and laughing at ourselves.   Our recent trip to Dallas was a joy and a special treat, getting to see friends from Andy’s radio days and catch up.  I hope we were good enough salespeople to convince them to come up to BFE for a visit.   
In mid-January I attended a social media marketing seminar at our local library.  It was very very good and I came away with lots of tips on increasing traffic to our website and our facebook pages.  It just all takes time to implement those ideas!! 
We are heading into our busy season and getting calls about pizza dinner reservations.  We haven't had enough consistent good weather stretches to advertise set dates, but we are willing to take a reservation and plan on dinner with the understanding that it is subject to the weather. 
I have scheduled a couple of house concerts for the spring:  Caroline Cotter on March 23, and My Politic on May 16 (check them out on their websites or on youtube.  I have one potential booking for April but haven’t gotten confirmation yet. 
Easter is early this year and we have no special plans.  Our dinner with the Davis’ for Valentine’s Day went so well and smooth, I am considering doing a special dinner out here one night a month. 
I am planning the First Annual Scissortail Arts Day for May 28.  This year it will be a half day with sidewalk squares made available for chalk art drawings, for kids and youth AND adults (if any are brave enough to do it!!)  One food truck, and some live music in addition to a recorded playlist.  The point being, having something in Watonga to bring people here in addition to the one festival the town has and is known for – the Cheese Festival (which did not do well last October and lost some of its credibility with vendors).  This week I have to start on making flyers for the event, lining up the music, and visiting the local university art department to drum up some interest and maybe volunteer help.   We’re going to do a “trial run” in Okeene in April at the request of one of the shop owners there who is looking for something different to attract people to her storefront – the weekend of the Okeene Rattlesnake Roundup—yes there is such a thing and it’s a pretty big thing around these parts. 

Andy and Drew are in Portland, OR visiting Blake this week.  There is a "tour d'dirt" mountain bike event this weekend at Roman Nose State Park and I'm hoping to get a booking or two from that.  Tomorrow and this coming weekend are supposed to be beautiful, warm days, so I hope to get some gardening done.  The daffodils are blooming, as is the quince and crocus.  New iris leaves are popping up all over, along with baby daylily shoots.  Tomorrow I'll walk around and take an inventory, and maybe even plant some cilantro, parsley, spinach, and lettuces.  I LOVE SPRINGTIME!!