Where This Life Has Taken Me

Lately I have had some extra time on my hands. I have used it to start and even finish some projects that have been looming in the shadows.

I have been blessed with the ability to travel through many of the organizations and projects I have been a part of. I started traveling first with my family on camping trips. Even though we did not go cross country, I visited the states that surround Oklahoma to go spelunking with my dad, mom, and brother. I then started traveling with my Girl Scout troop that I was a part of for seven years. My favorite trip was when we went to Georgia to visit the home of our founder in Savanna. I have traveled with many different programs that are affiliated with the Cherokee Nation (of Oklahoma). I have become very familiar with North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia to further learn about the Trail of Tears and my people’s homeland. Other trips with CN have taken me from Washington state to Washington D.C. One of my favorite organizations that helped me travel was TSA. I competed in Technology Student Association for five years.There I met some amazing people and made memories that I will never forget.

I am getting to the project… I promise.

Even though I have not been able to travel outside of the US… YET!, I have been to many of the 50 states. I saw a cork board cut out of the United States (on Pinterest, of course!). The cork board had a ribbon attached to the back to allow the map to be hung as a reminder of places visited as well as a decoration. I had to make me one! When I was in college I tried to make my jail cell… I mean dorm room, reflect all the things I loved to remind me of home. This lead to me buying tons of cork boards in all shapes and sizes to pin things up all around me. When I graduated I had a surplus of cork boards that were not being used but I hated to throw them out. Now I am glad that I did not.

This is the picture that inspired me to do this project:


When I started this project I tried to look up how other people had done the project before… and that is when it all started to go down hill, quickly. I had no idea that this was going to be such a difficult project. I definitely think it is worth it I just was not expecting it to be as hard and time intensive as it was.

Most people I read about used a projector. Some were lucky enough to have an actual projector and others made their own. Since I do not own a projector and none of the teachers I knew were in their classrooms around 11:00 p.m. (when I started this project) I decided to make my own. I still do not know what went wrong but the projector was a major fail. I even had to enlisted my brother to try and help me.



What we came up with was rigged together with love, frustration, hope, tears, failure, and of course duct tape. BUT WE NEVER GOT IT TO WORK…it was a sad night. I have no advice if you ever try to make an at home projector because that is apparently one of my weaknesses. If, however, you ever manage to make it work I want to share with you the process I would have used to trace the outline of the US.
First you need to google an image of the outline of the United States, make sure that the lines are thick and bold, it will help when you blow it up on your (imaginary) projector. Print it out and put it in a page protector. Take a sharpie and trace around the edges of the US and all the states. Take out your original copy and viola! a traced map to project… or try to project in my case.



Then you attach the outline to your projector and draw it on your cork board… but I never got to that step. I first decided to print out eight sections to make a huge USA… I was successful in this endeavor. Then I realized that did not help me get it onto the cork board at all. I could go over the lines until the sharpie bled through but that would have taken a great deal of time and sharpie. LET’S FREE HAND THE OUTLINE INSTEAD! I know not all of us are artists out there but that does not mean we can not try. I have a problem with scale when I draw and this made it hard to draw Maine when I came to the left side (BUT you probably would not have even noticed if I did not point it out).




To cut out the outline I used an exacto knife… This was the second longest part of the process (drawing took the most time… no WAIT, trying to make a projector and failing took the most time!). I think all the intense cutting gave me arthritis, my hands hurt for days. Poor me! I would like to remind you of the time when I started this project… 11, so by that point it was well into the wee hours of the morning.

Why did I not wait until later to finish you ask…?

Honestly, I do not know… I kept trying to tell myself to just leave it and finish it tomorrow. I just could not stop though. I had already failed to make a projector (as you can now tell that really hurt my ego) and I WAS NOT GOING TO QUIT NOW!!!

I was so proud when I could finally hold up my cork board outline of the United States of America and bask in all it GLORY
-cue heavenly noises-


I went to bed a happy camper. I did not have any of the other supplies need to hang it but that was besides the point, I WAS VICTORIOUS! Later that week my trusty best friend and I headed out to lob the hob. Going into Hobby Lobby is dangerous for the both of us nowadays. Luckily the day I went everything I needed (and thought I needed) was HALF OFF!!! Instead of ribbon I bought “fashion ribbon” to hang the cork board with. It is rhinestones linked together! The hook I bought is a crown, please do not judge me, and it is white. It mathces my new room wonderfully. The ribbon was $9.99 and the hook was $4.99 but I only paid half of that, or I would not have purchased that particular ribbon.

I decided to hang the piece above my bed… this is the spot pre-decoration:


And this is that same space now!


I have not decided what kind of pins I will use to mark the places I have been. I am open to suggestions! Some people just put a little flag, others put a little picture of when you visited. I love the way this came out even though it was a bugger to create.

On a completely different note, and to wrap stuff up, one of my dearest friends included me not only in her family’s Christmas this past week but also her most recent post. She is a highlight to me as well! Her whole family is =) I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! The Rudolphs and I sure did!



Cherokee Heritage Center

So last year I did a post about my job at the Cherokee Heritage Center. I was a master artist on a grant through the Oklahoma Arts Council. I worked there a few months on the grant making pottery and giving tours.
When I graduated I went back home to Claremore and worked at my long time job at Walmart. Lucky for me, a seasonal job came available in the village as a guide. I started back in the village in March and I have been there ever since.

When you visit the museum there are many different things to see. We have a rural village and also a new village called Diligwa. We also have an exhibit room that rotates shows and a museum centered around the Trail of Tears. If you want to check out our website you can follow the link.

I wanna share with you about our village and what the villagers do to ensure that our culture, heritage, and language never die out.

This year we have been blessed to be able to have as many villagers as we do. We are run by a non-profit organization and we all know that for non-profits money is always tight. But this year our rag tag crew is down right awesome.

The guys this year are: White, Nate, Francis, Tim (the star of our show), Pete, Danny, and Steve.

The ladies are: Sam, Feather, Emma, Danielle (me), Cat, and Cassie.

Both of these pictures were taken on the day the we had the grand opening of our new village Diligwa. The villagers each carried items from the old village to the new village during the ceremony to symbolize the move to our new home. I carried a buffalo hide and a fingerwoven belt. My other partner in crime was White, we were the buffalo people.



The last picture was the villagers waiting for our cue to head over to Diligwa. I was lucky enough to make it in an advertisement. I may be blury and in the back ground but I’m there!


I also am in another picture that the center used in one of its brochures. But again I am the one trying to get the ball our of Zach’s sticks so you can’t see my face.


Come to think of it I’m ALWAYS in the background. We did a shoot for Oklahoma Tourism’s new commercial and guess what!? I’m in the back too….

Looks as though that is my destiny. You can check out the video here… look in the back. I am the one holding a stick pounding hickory nuts (its really blury)… one day I will have the lead singing role… fingers crossed!

But enough about that, Let’s talk about the village. I don’t have very many pictures of the old village but I do want to tell you about it. It was built in the late 60’s and our oldest building is 47 years old. The council house was the first building to go up and it is still standing.

Our new village opened in the beginning of June of this year. It is really nice and a very acturate portrayal of Cherokee life in the early 1700’s. Our village, Diligwa, specifically focuses on the year 1710. We are still living in the traditional homes and wear the traditional clothing, but some European goods are making their way into our every day lives.

We live in two homes, depending on the time of year. We have a summer home and a winter home and they are built side by side.


Our men wear a breech cloth and leggings both made out of deerskin. They also wear a trade shirt in the cooler months. The women wear a wrap skirt and a one shoulder top both made from deer skins. A big difference in the way the men and women dress is that the men have more ornamentation and accessories (go figure). The men wear a belt and garters for their leggings that are finger-woven by our women. Which is what I mostly demonstrate. I also make most of the moccasins for the villagers (10 of the 14).

We wear pucker toe moccasins made from deer hides.They are a center seem moccasin that are make from one piece of leather wrapping around your foot and being sown down the middle.

And these are some photos of the belts that I make. It takes me about 8 hours to finish a belt. The time does vary depending on width, length and the difficulty of the design. I do the regular diagonal, the chevron, and the lightning bolt. I also do the arrowhead but I don’t really feel like I mastered it yet….

This a garter set that I made Steve to match his belt.

This belt was made for Cierra, I make LOTS of belts for her and her many dresses! =)

This belt is a double lightning bolt that will be appearing in our upcoming Homecoming Art Show for Holiday. It will be my first art show!

This one is my weaving station in the village, I may need to expand.

This is one of my favorites, I love the color combination.

This belt was for wee emma, or turle runs as she is known in the village.

I have also taught a few of the girls how to make their own belts. I am really proud of sam. This is her first belt, it is the simple diagonal design.


Her second belt, which she finished today, also uses the simple diagonal the stands are just arranged a little different. The belt looks amazing, especially for it only being her second one.

She is all grown up and clothing her own village husband now. Time just flies…. hahaha.

I also started making purses out of cane which is what we traditionally split and use for our baskets. I have made three now and I’m really happy with how they are turning out. The diamond design is my first one and the one Sam is wearing is my third, I think it is the best so far.


I love working in the Village. It is definitely one of my passions to share my culture. Our new village still has some work to be done but overall it is an amazing place for us to share the Cherokee way of life with people. And people do come from all over the world to visit us. We are currently open 7 days a week from 9-5.If you are ever in or visiting Northeastern Oklahoma we would love for you to come out and visit!


Words to live by

I love quotes. Whenever I think about life I tend to get quiet. For me, I just need some time to look inward and contemplate some things.

Pinterest is addicting in many ways but I love to go to the quote section. When I can’t explain my own feelings it seems like there is a quote out there that describes the situation perfectly. I think reading those quotes and words helps me sort through my feelings and deal. I have a board that I save my favorites to, but I wanted to share some of them here. I also wanna tell you why I love these quotes, and why they are words to live by…

Some quotes I like because they motivate me when I need it most…









I love quotes about love…


But there are also those quotes about love that remind us that sometimes love isn’t always easy…




And some quotes remind me of times in my own life:

Last summer I decided to bike nearly 1000 miles and I realized just how strong I was. On the ride I learned that every thing we face is a mountain that we tackle one pedal at a time. Just like the quote says “we get stronger”

I think we have all encountered people who didn’t believe in us…

And then that leads me to…


And when I did prove everyone wrong I had a lot of help. There was someone who never left my side…


Some quotes make me think about who I am, what I stand for, and who I want to be…





And then there are those quotes and pins that have such a good message but completely ruin it because of profanity…


And then there are the quotes that make me laugh… And I do dearly love to laugh…




And finally there are the quotes that I believe with my whole heart and try to apply to my life…

… Words to live by.


I have this feeling. A feeling that 2013 is going to be an awesome year… Just in general. I love going down memory lane and reminiscing about all the good times and blessings I have had in my life. I think that our emotions follow our thoughts. A feeling can be fleeting but if you let it nest it has the potential to ruin your attitude and outlook.

I recently saw a memory jar on Pinterest. You write down your memories and blessings throughout the year. At the end of the year you take out your jar and read all the notes you made.

I personally feel that we lose sight of all the good things that happen to us and focus on the bad. This jar was a way to remind us to focus on the good things in life.

I went to my local Walmart and purchased some mason jars. I got the largest ones. Next year I may get those glass pickle jars in anticipation of many, many blessings! I had the rest of the supplies I need already. I went home and started on my project. I took a glittery yellow piece of scrapbook paper for the label. The paper was not long enough to go around the outside. I decided to put it on the inside of the jar and it worked perfectly! It was rather difficult to get it inside though.



I hot glued the 2013 label to the scrapbook paper. Then comes the trick part of getting the band into the jar.


The tricky part was getting the band in with hot glue and get it to stick to the glass in time before the glue dried.

I made the jars to give to some very special people in my life. I gave out jars to a few of the people who really helped me through 2012. So a big thank you to my jar receivers for being there for me.

I included a note that explained the jar.

The jars were then ready to deliver!

“Sometimes we never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory”

Pay It Forward

PAY IT FORWARD!!! One of my Facebook friends did a post about “paying it forward”. Basically you post a status and wait for five people to comment on your post. They will then receive a homemade gift from you sometime in 2013! I upped mine to ten and said that a “repost” was not necessary. One of my BIGGEST pet peeves is obligatory reposting, for any reason!

To date I have not gotten ten comments on my post. I only entrapped 7 people in my gift trap. But I am very excited to pay it forward this year. My seven so far are: Jackie, Noah, Brooke, Patrick, Suzie, Aarika, and Isaiah.

For my first gift I made a medallion. I have a friend named Noah and he’s been begging me to make home something. So I made him an OU medallion to rock! I have only made one medallion before and I used a round technique. You can see my seven pointed star in my last post about beading. This time I used a different technique because of the design I needed to make. The medallion itself is pretty large. I used two colors on the medallion: red and white. The beads I used are seed beads. The red ones are a very shiny brilliant red. The white is more pearly, but not too girly.

I started by making the OU symbol and filling it in.


I was really worried after filling in the letters because it did not look as nice as I had hoped. After you start to put more beads it does start to pull together though. Then it was time fr the red… ALL the red…


Then came the filling in of the circle. This took a Looooooooooooooooong time.




So close…

And then… It was done! Almost…

For those of you non-beaders out there the bead strings take a long time to put on. This is what the back of the medallion looks like:

It is an intense process. After I was finished with the beading I attached a leather back and a string of bigger black beads. This is me and the finished product!

Now this medallion is not for me, it’s for Noah. So I met up with Noah and his lovely girlfriend Madison yesterday at Braums. We had ice cream, talked, and then did the gift giving! He was so excited to get his medallion. He said “IT’S PERFECT!” I really like to make people happy and seeing his face when I gave it to him was just magical! The first of my “paying it forward” went really well. I can’t wait for my next gifts!



I am a crafty person. I really like making things instead of buying them. I think this is because my mom is a good seamstress. I have dresses she made for me when I was little. She clothed me and my barbies in play clothes in my early years. When I started competing for native titles she took up making tear dresses. Tear dresses are the official outfit for Cherokee women. These dresses are time consuming to make and are always hand made. I am very lucky to have my mom who made my dresses. I have many different dresses instead of just a few like most other girls.
Ive had some more time on my hands and lately I have started beading more and more. I have a few projects that I have had going for awhile like this Choctaw collar necklace:

This is not even half way done. The pattern continues all the way around the full necklace. This will take me about ten to twelve hours to complete.
A friend from NSU taught me to make these. Even though I’m not Choctaw I love this style. When it’s finished and spread out it is breathtaking.
My friend Jackie is home from Dartmouth and taught me how to do the peyote stitch. It is the stitch that is used to go around round objects like lighters, walking canes, and lanyards. I used this to bead my graduation tassel and my feather. The feather was a gift from the Stroud family to wear at my graduation.


Both of these went on my graduation cap which was beaded by one of my very good friends Isaiah Soap. He does beautiful work and I loved my cap. It was simple and elegant, just what I wanted. Isaiah is the guy on the right of me, Nicolette is on my left. We looked very native that day 😊


I am working on a beaded flap for some pucker toes moccasins. That is a simple flat stitch. Pucker toes are traditional Cherokee attire. I love making these moccasins.

In a Native American arts and crafts class I made my first medallion. it’s the seven pointed star, which is very important to the Cherokee. The number seven shows up in many different places in our culture.

Finally I want to show you the earrings I made tonight. If you want a pair I’m definitely in business!


I love my bead box! This is where i keep all my supplies. In there are needles, string, an many different kinds of beads. All the pretty colors make me happy. 😍

Since I graduated I think I will have more time to bead, and I think I will like that. I have a necklace in mind that I want to start and I think it will turn out pretty keen!