Tuesday, December 23, 2008

New Years Eve in Tulsa

UPDATE: Dec. 31//If you're still making plans for this evening, here are a few links to check before you head out: 
Jennifer Chancellor at TW

Because I love my TDT readers, I'd like to offer you a distraction from the short work week, holiday plans, gift wrapping and obligatory casserole baking.

Answer me this: What do you do for New Years Eve in Tulsa? Spare me the dud plans, which include staying home and chewing twizzle sticks while you boast that watching the ball drop on TV is much better than being stuck in the crowds at Times Square.

I'm talking about the New Years Eve goings on that are worthy of a resolution the next morning, over black-eyed peas for extra luck.

I think we all deserve to know about the most fun New Years parties in town, even if some of us will be caught in what Stefanie Wilder-Taylor calls "the black hole of childcare." I want to be able to smugly say to my husband that evening, "Hey, at least we're not at one of those loud, happy, glittery, wild parties - being here is much better than being stuck in a sea of sun-shiny, smiling faces somewhere," even though I'll have to say it really quietly, lest I wake the little man who has decorated our guest room in elephants and Dr. Seuss books and who wouldn't exactly be down for a game of airplane as the ball drops on TV. Early to bed, early to rise, as he would say.

Tell me what you're going to do to make me "glad" the evening of Dec. 31!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Two Weekend Photos

From Kupcakz, 71st and Mingo. We came out of the bakery with four cupcakes but, well, you know, things...happen, especially around here, and particularly when cupcakes are involved. What was left: Boston Dreamer (inspired by my favorite birthday cake, Boston cream pie) on the left, and the ones on the right are the Morning Buzz (chocolate and coffee - what could go wrong?) and My Peanut Buttercup (the chocolate and peanut butter combo done right) cupcakes. I can't remember which was which, but they were both gone about 2.5 seconds after I took this photo. Because they were delicious and sinful and said my name and fives lines from Prufrock. Unlikely but true, maybe.

Our little (?) man visiting Santa at Utica Square. Can you believe it? He didn't cry! He didn't even wimper. He was more stone-faced than is usually typical of him, but I don't blame him one iota. The whole concept of a giant man dressed in red hanging out in a miniature house with a lady armed with a camera and photo printer makes me feel a tad uneasy, too, and I probably look stone-faced when I'm thinking about it.

For more Christmas fun, later my family and I will head out in hopes of making a commemorative Christmas ornament at Purple Glaze on Brookside, since we heard they have several available. But, I just realized this morning that even if we make the ornament this evening, it won't be available for pick-up until well after Christmas is over. We might be headed to the mall (dun dun DUN!) instead. Blast.

If we don't talk before Thursday, have a merry one!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sweet Find on Black Friday

For the first time ever, I ventured out of my house on the morning of Black Friday. Unshowered and dressed mostly in what I wore to bed the night before, I loaded up my little brood and headed for Tulsa's mid-priced retail mecca: 71st St. and Memorial Drive.

Our first stop was Toys R Us, where the checkout line wrapped around the inside perimeter of the store. Though we managed to find a few things we liked enough to buy there, we didn't feel especially excited about them. We sure weren't looking forward to buying enough batteries to keep them flashing and sounding off until little man moves on to bigger and better things in, oh, three months.

Holly told me about Lundeby's Eco Baby a few months ago, and I have always wanted to have a look. I am so glad I finally did. My only regret is I didn't go there before I spent $70 on plastic toys at a non-local retail big-box.

I'll tell you what we bought. Just don't spill the beans to our baby and spoil the surprise, okay? We're pretty good at doing that ourselves without your help. We couldn't help but give this to the little guy right away:Little guy loves to chase this thing. I'm sure he'll really love it when, once he begins to walk, he realizes he can pull it behind him. We love it because it's not plastic and because it's a simple, classic toy. It's a pleasure to behold, and it makes this great clacking sound when it's pulled along.

Know how to tell if a toy will be a five-star hit? If your husband can't stop playing with or talking about it. Heck, I can hardly get Aaron to even look away from the darn thing. I can't talk trash, though, since I've taken it for a few spins down the hallway during naptime myself.

We also scored these:We could hardly get our baby to stop playing with these long enough for us to buy them. He loves to beat on things, and with these toys, his efforts are rewarded with "music." Mom and Dad are happy, too, since we don't have to hear the ever-loving ABC song every time he barely touches it, unlike some of the other toys he has. Plus, neither requires batteries.

Lundeby's is situated in a smart, easy-to-access little space at 3638 S. Peoria Ave. Park along the street in front or in the lot behind the store. Lundeby's owner Tiffany will chat you up as you browse organic cotton baby clothes, eco-friendly diapering, breastfeeding support goodies, and her extensive stock of toys. I noticed she called nearly each customer by name, and by the time we headed out the door, she pretty much knew our life story. She's likable, to say the least.

Though I wouldn't dub us as a green family, we do try to limit our consumption of everything from gasoline to food packaging to water. Even from that perspective, it's easy to appreciate a shop like Lundeby's. For me, it's about the thought and consideration behind green products, which generally produces a better design on the other end. Though I'm willing to pay for good design, I can't normally spring for everything I'm nutty about. Lundeby's delivered again: I was surprised I could get out of a Brookside boutique with an arm-full of stuff for less than $60.

If you have a baby on your Christmas list - especially if it's our baby - make sure to stop by Lundeby's. I dare you not to go there and accidentally spend an hour playing and chatting and cleansing your soul of the big-box shopping experience.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Day Light Trolling

Thanksgiving is here! As I sit here waiting for my country crust bread to rise and my herbed spaghetti squash to roast, I'd like you to help me rustle up some places to see some Christmas lights.

The first that comes to mind is the flurry of white lights at Utica Square, which comes on tonight at 6:30. The second is Rhema's larger-than-life light display, which went live yesterday.

We can't wait to swing our baby boy by both. The kid totally zones out when he sees lights, and though his current favorite are the track lights at Loops, I have a feeling Christmas lights will open an entirely new corner of his eager little mind.

Where do you go to gawk at Christmas lights?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Frustrating Night at BOK Center

I received an interesting note from a reader yesterday about the Tuesday night Metallica concert at the BOK Center:

We arrived at 7 walking from McNellies ([we wanted to take the shuttle over to the BOK Center from there, but] we never saw a clear shuttle stop in front of the restaurant.) The show started at 7 with the opening act and we figured we’d miss a bit of them.

We get there and there is a line a mile long. TO GET IN. People with tickets got extra screwed because the line was even longer to get in. They were metal detecting everyone and you had to empty your pockets and get wanded. That’s fine but it was so slow and inefficient. They had teenagers running it. It wasn’t professional. They banned several items ( cameras, spiked jewelry) but they don’t tell you until you get to the front. They could have saved a bunch of time if they had people going through the line telling people the rulz. Fortunately, we didn’t have anything.

Anyway, it was FREEZING outside and we were in line to get in the door with tickets for over an hour with frequent harassment from drunk guys ( to be expected) but the police were just standing there doing hardly nothing ( well, they did arrest a drunk kid.)

Okay, so we are almost to the doors and the SPRINKLERS come on on us! We had to move fast!

Then, we get in and needed to pee. The men’s bathroom line was forever long…took my husband about 30 more minutes. Took me about 10 minutes to get through but they only had the front bathrooms open, ½ the stalls wouldn’t flush, no toilet paper or towels, no attendants or workers to be found. The bathrooms have two openings to it was all confusing as to who was next in line which really didn’t speed up the process, either.

Also mad that we were one of the first ones to order our tickets and got the furthest back seats. We were told they were best available but people were buying groups of tickets and getting better seats than us. In fact, where we sat, it was all sparse. I don’t understand how that happened. The seats weren’t bad though…I don’t think there is a bad seat but still the worst of the good seats.

Fortunately, Metallica didn’t come out until 9 so we didn’t miss a minute of them. Got there just in time. The no smoking rule really cut back on the smoke…. I could actually breathe! Last Metallica concert I went to, I got second hand high and coughed up some nasty crap for a week.

McNellies was great. They gave us a reservation and were very quick with everything. We could stay parked there all night, too.

Sounds to me like McNellies was the best part of this evening. Anyone else have these types of experiences with shows at the BOK?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Overheard at the 31st Tulsa Run

Starting line: "Dude, it's, like, cold." The temperature hovered at about 40 degrees for the duration of the race, forcing many to don less-than-flattering exercise wear. Sparkly leg warmers, acrylic (a.k.a. plastic) mittens and a variety of unfortunate head gear were in wide use.

1K: "Count the number of people you pass and subtract the number of people who pass you, and we'll compare scores at the finish line." I don't see how this could have been doable, given that the race was probably two dozen racers deep from curb to curb. I guess it could have been a fun mechanism to employ to forget the chill, but then you would have missed the scenery.

The course began at 3rd and Boulder, stretched south to 15th, turned west to Denver, south again to Riverside Drive, east to the 23d Street Bridge, west back to Denver, up what I heard someone call "Murder Mountain" toward the BOK Center. Who would want to miss a chance to see all the parking lots - I mean, historic buildings - along the way?

Perhaps the more challenging game would have been to see who could count the most empty parking spaces on the south part of the course.

2K: "I wouldn't exactly call that motivational music." A band of kilted men playing bag pipes cheered us on about half way through the race. While it quickened my Irish blood, lots of folks were jonesin' for some rock and roll.

Two years ago, the last time I ran Tulsa Run, speakers blaring the Rocky theme were set up a little before the half-way mark. I was laughing so hard I could barely keep up with my friend Sarah, who picked up and moved away earlier this year and left me to run this year's race by myself. Alone. And cold. And sleepy.

I don't think she would have wanted to join me this year, anyway. I ditched her last year because I was too busy rounding out my second trimester, and she's doing just about the same thing this year. We don't think a fetus takes well to jostling - at least, not the first fetus. Maybe by the time we're pregnant with our third children, we'll be good and over all of that.

3K: I don't remember hearing anyone say anything interesting during this part of the race, but Tulsa county commission District 2 candidate Karen Keith gave me a cup of water. Thanks, Karen.

4K: "Oh, crap." *puff puff* "Maybe if this hill had been at the beginning of the race, I could have done it." *wheeze wheeze* "Without this hill, maybe this would actually be a run."

Wimps. If I made it up the hill on Denver between Riverside Drive and 15th Street, anyone can. Seriously. I had a baby earlier this year, an event for which I gained a cool 50 pounds, and though it's all off now, I'm by no means a lean, mean, running machine. Still, I can definitely see why the racers heading up the hill were gasping, "Good luck on the hill!" at the slower among us gliding down toward the turnaround at the bridge.

Yeah, so I saw spots and leprechauns in the parking lot at QT, but I made it up the hill, dang it.
Finish: "Natasha Ball!" "waaaahhh!" When the announcer said my name, Aaron cheered for me from the sideline. It was all too much for our baby boy, who screamed his head off with fear rather than excitement.

That's fine. His punishment is that he has to run with me next year, and I'd better not hear any nonsense about shorter legs, smaller lungs, just having learned to walk earlier in the year, blah blah blah.

This year's race was great. Lots of fun, lots of excitement. It's definitely a great way to show off downtown.

I'll post my results later. I was too busy grabbing bottles of water and a half-dozen candy bars, all free to the runners, after the race to check my official race time.

Hey, at least we can say I never made my motivation a mystery.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

7 Ways to NOT Find a Real Pumpkin Patch

1. Feel an intense urge to find a "real" pumpkin patch at 5:00 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon.

2. Don't use the Internet or other resource to look up stories on or directories of pumpkin patches or farms in the Tulsa area.

3. Drive "strategically" through the rural areas of the metro, flipping a coin to decide whether to turn right or left at intersections.

4. After one hour of hunting, interrupt friends' and family's evening plans with phone inquiries as to the location of their "favorite pumpkin patch - you know, the kind where you can pick your own?"

5. Stumble upon a real pumpkin patch! Discover the operation closed 15 minutes before your arrival. Peer through the windows of the retail area, looking in vain for straggling staff people, chiming, "We've got a baby out here lookin' to pick his first pumpkin!," hoping to guilt someone into opening up.

6. Take photos of off-limits pumpkin patch. Consider making off with one measly little pumpkin. Remember rural area+stealing=shot gun.

Take more photos instead.

Just in case you needed help spottin' the suckers.

7. After two hours and no freshly harvested pumpkin, drive home listening to the musical stylings of the famished infant in the back seat.

Assuage bad-mommy guilt by making three batches of chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, made from scratch using pumpkins purchased from good ol' Reasor's.

Mmm. Boy, do I feel better now.

Photos taken at Sanders Nursery & Distribution Center Inc., in Broken Arrow at 20705 E. 161st St.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Running Rules.

Guess what I've been doing for the past six months.

That's right. Running my hiney off.

Literally! Since I started (re)training after my my baby's six-week birthday, I've lost nearly 25 pounds. I'm back into the jeans I wore last spring, and my calves are lookin' amazing, y'all. Almost as good as they did back when I was in marching band.

Don't ask.

I knew since I missed the race last year that I definitely wanted to make this year's Tulsa Run. I wasn't sure if I could train up quickly enough to run the 15K - in the end, that was too much to ask of my body, which has been through oh-so-much during the past year - but I have been able to get ready for the 5K.

Plus, I hit a milestone yesterday: I ran for 33 straight minutes. Though I've been an on again, off again runner for the past four years, I don't think I've ever run more than 20-25 consecutive minutes (because - and I'll admit it - I am a wimp. W-i-m-p.). They may not be the fastest minutes a girl has ever run, but kids, I'm gonna give myself serious credit for that little accomplishment. It may be in the form of Kupcakz, but I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.

The clock on the TR site says there are 17 days, 13 hours, 17 minutes and counting until race time. You have until the 21st to register without paying the late fee. If you're ready to commit, go to the TR registration site now.

Go on. Make your mother proud. Or, at least, this mother. Because I look extra runner-esque when I'm proud of you.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quintessential Tulsa

I got this great e-mail from a reader, Chris, awhile back: 

One crazy question for you: for a tourist with one day (really more of a half-day) to see something distinctly Tulsa and/or Oklahoma, what would you recommend? 

I am trying to visit all 50 states before I turn 40, and am rapidly running out of time! Oklahoma is one of the 4 states I have left to visit before December...the opportunities [for daytrips] do not present themselves very often as I am mother to 3 kiddos under the age of 6...Any advice/suggestions are welcomed and much appreciated!  

First, I must say: People who have more than one child amaze me, but folks who have multiple kids under 12 defy logic as I know it. I have a seven-month-old son, and it's all I can do to hold down part-time work, get a few meals on the table and maybe bathe once per day. If you're someone who has more than one small child running around the house, please send me your minute-by-minute daily schedule so I can send it to scientists. You and your ability to bend the limits of patience and love should be studied.

Okay. I considered Chris's question for several days before I decided how to advise her. I was surprised by how difficult I found it to narrow a place like Tulsa down to an attraction or two for an out-of-towner looking to glean the essence of this city in a single, short visit. 

Always the brickhugger (to borrow a phrase from the SoChey kids), I told her she'd have plenty of options to "get Tulsa" if she planned to spend an afternoon downtown. I'm not so sure I gave her the right advice. Unless she scheduled one of those art deco or tunnels tours or had a specific event to attend, downtown may not be such a great destination for someone in town for just a few hours. Maybe better destinations would be Brookside or Cherry Street, Gilcrease of Philbrook, Tulsa Zoo or Oklahoma Aquarium. 

I didn't get very far along this line of thought before I started to feel, well, kinda stupid. I thought, I have a blog on things to do in Tulsa, and I can't come up with a quintessential Tulsa experience?

Then I realized that Tulsa just isn't a one-destination kind of town. 

Go ahead and try to think of just one, single thing that would provide a visitor with the Cliff's Notes version of Tulsa. Take your time; I'll wait. I bet that you could come up with several lists of things to do in Tulsa - something like ready-made Do Tulsa handbooks or something. One for food, one for history, one for architecture, one for art - you could fill any of those lists with dozens of things to see and do in the Tulsa area. 

Not ever sane enough to think about something for five minutes and then move on to something else, I thought of a few cities that immediately bring to mind a certain tourist destination, or vice versa: Seattle (Space Needle), St. Louis (the arch), San Francisco (Golden Gate Bridge), Paris (Eiffel Tower), New Orleans (the French Quarter), Orlando (Disney World)...

Tulsa: HA! No. 

It's easier to get a feel for Tulsa via a set of experiences rather than by visiting one attraction or one area of town. Plus, I don't think you and I would come up with the same set. I'm sure everyone has his or her own opinion about what a visitor should take the time to see here.  

If you could write a Do Tulsa handbook that details, say, five things to do in T-Town, what would they be? Chris, I hope you're reading... 

New Tulsa Blog: Green Tulsa

Shameless plug: Holly Wall (you may know as the managing editor of that little local paper that can be found in any nook and cranny that's any nook and cranny in this town, Urban Tulsa Weekly) is making some good headway on her new blog, Green Tulsa.

Posts since its August launch include a movie review, notices on sustainability forums held in the area and a guest post on ways to recycle old books. Holly has a great list of links going already, and I hear she's got some guest bloggers lined up, so stay tuned for those. 

Welcome to the Tulsa blogosphere, Holly!  

Monday, August 25, 2008

BOK Center Grand Opening This Weekend

From the latest Tulsa Now e-newsletter:

Come see the official Grand Opening of the BOK Center, and enjoy a free open house at the new arena. Everyone is invited! Take tours of the entire building, sample concessions for $1, sign up for giveaways, meet representatives from upcoming shows, and listen to live local music.

The ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at the Grand Entrance located at 3rd Street and Denver Avenue. Once inside, guests can enjoy music from popular local acts such as: Midlife Crisis, Rebecca Ungerman and the Frank Brown Orchestra, Dave and The Wavetones, City of Tulsa Pipes and Drums, and local high school bands. Also enjoy a live performance from the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra.

A FREE commemorative poster will be given to everyone who attends the Open House.

WHAT: BOK Center Grand Opening
WHEN: Ribbon Cutting at 10:00 AM;
Open House from 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
MORE INFO: www.bokcenter.com

Yeah, what they said.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Though temperatures haven't cooled and leaves aren't falling, fall is in the air. I can tell.

Some of my richest memories live in the autumn months. I was born in the late fall - that was a pretty good memory, I'd say. My little sister was born two weeks after my fifth birthday, and I think she's pretty good, too. I learned to drive when the leaves were turning; I fell in love for the first time after a Friday night high school football game; I ran away with Aaron to get married in a gazebo in the middle of my next-to-last fall in college:

Well, that's the gazebo, and there's Aaron. Thing is, this picture was taken on our first anniversary, and I'm not in it because I'm taking the photo. We ran away to get married, remember? And then we went to the movies and saw Team America.

Hey, I had midterms the following week, okay?

I also found out in the falltime that our little baby would be a bouncing boy:

I fully expect him to put my hand in warm water while I'm sleeping when he finds out about this.

There. That's better.

All of this to say, what's your favorite thing to do around town during this time of year?

I've gotta admit, my absolute, No. 1 favorite thing to do in the fall is to go to my high school's football games and watch the marching band. Or maybe I'd rather go to the fair. Or maybe I'd rather eat chili. Or maybe I'd rather do the Tulsa Run. Or maybe I'd rather flit through pumpkin patches. Or maybe I'd rather go on a hayride.

Or maybe I can't pick a favorite. I should just accept that and move on. And eat more sausage pancakes.

You're pulling your sweaters down from the attic (okay, maybe you don't have that on your calendar until late October...work with me here), you're putting the boy who rakes your leaves on speed dial, and your kids are hiding their homework from you again. We're coming up on falltime - what's your favorite thing to do around Tulsa at this time of year?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Devour Downtown

Devour Downtown, a DTU-sponsored event that spotlights downtown Tulsa eateries by featuring discounted lunch and dinner plates, is happening RIGHT NOW.

Oh, hi. You're still here. Thought you'd be downtown by now. Not really - you've got some time. The event ends Sunday.

Earlier this year during the inaugural Devour Downtown week, Aaron and I ate at Lola's at the Bowery (I don't see that they're participating in Devour Downtown this time, but who cares - eat there anyway, because it's fantabulous). We had:Bacon-wrapped chipotle grilled shrimp...

Margherita pizza...

A baby cake! Because I was pitifully pregnant at the time. Lola's a great gal, I tell ya. Anyway, we ended up spending about $35 for a very, very nice dinner downtown. That's pretty easy on the pocketbook, if you ask me.

Click here for a list of participating restaurants and specials, but put a drool cloth over your keyboard first.

Wait. You mean, I'm the only one who has three dozen of those?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kolam, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Hi. I'm Natasha, and I'm a food-aholic.

So much so, when I get a hankerin' for pork shoulder roast tacos with cilantro cream sauce, I don't care one lick that my oven will be on for six or seven hours on a late-August day. I just kick it up to 300 and say, hey, anything for my temperamental taste buds.

On my more sane days, I like to go here:
I had the misfortune of just discovering Kolam at 4844 S. Memorial about a month or so ago, and I'm pretty sure I've been missing out on this place for at least a couple of years. A friend and I had been meaning to try it, but she up and moved to Texas, and, well, I don't really have any excuses.

Aaron suggested we order some take-out from there a night not so many moons ago. See, when Aaron was in Afghanistan and had the choice of the spaghetti-with-ketchup-like-sauce dish they served at the base or food from the street vendors, he invariably chose to dine out.

The man still won't eat spaghetti, much to my chagrin.

Apparently Afghan street vendors serve a lot of Indian-like food. Disclaimer: I am totally ignorant about Indian and southwest Asian food in general. All I know is that it's good, okay? Back to my story. Aaron ate every curry he could get his hands on, those immensely varied rice concoctions got him every time, and...naan. Between long, lonely hours in a guard tower and his deepening take-out budget (there were no sports cars, stereos or telescopes for sale at the PX), the man was afraid his brain would turn to perfectly moist, tandoor-oven-cooked naan at any moment.

He could probably say a lot more about Indian/Afghan food than I could. After all, he ate it for none months straight. He eagerly gives Kolam his seal of approval.

Here's chicken curry, this incredibly aromatic basmati rice and traditional naan from Kolam.

Please disregard the baby bottle apparatuses. My home is under attack.

I wish the plural of apparatus was apparati. I would love that more than the sun and the moon.

I love Tulsa, but this chicken curry tempts me to give it all up and move to Calcutta. And learn to sing like that lady in The Namesake. And buy lots and lots of saris - orange and pink ones.

Check out the entire menu here (besides Kolam's signature chicken curry, I also recommend the veggie samosas, Kolam's signature naan, and the chili chicken), and put your take-out orders in to (918) 270.1445. Kolam is open for dinner 5-10 p.m., and I hear there's a lunch buffet to take you away from your workday worries.

When you ditch these Oklahoma plains for India's urban vendor-lined streets, even if it's just for a food-cation, send me a postcard. I'll stain it with a tear of jealousy and hunger.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Five Romantic Places in Tulsa

I just took an office poll, and here, in no order, are five romantic destinations in Tulsa:

1. Utica Square, especially during the holidays. It feels so ritzy and glittery and full of love.
2. The Palace Cafe. The atmosphere will make lovey-dovey pudding of your brains.
3. The Melting Pot, with its lover's lane. I have no idea what this means, but my boss suggested it, so I'm putting it.
4. Ambassador Hotel. I don't know much about this place, cough cough, because I've never been there, hint hint, but I would really like to sometime, ahem ahem (Aaron, if you miss this clue, I'm feeding you rice and beans for a month).
5. Woodward Park and Tulsa Rose Garden, especially with a sturdy blanket and a nice bottle of wine. I think. Is that legal?

I'd like to know your go-to list of romantic places in Tulsa, especially if it's a little-known spot. So, shoot.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday Night (High)Lights

Being new parents as well as an American family squeezed by the rising price of everything, Aaron and I plan a date night once per month.

Tonight was one of the most fun we've had, mainly because we didn't plan a thing.

We dropped Baby Man off at his great-grandmother's and headed toward Cherry Street for some dinner. Here's how the rest of the evening unfolded, play-by-play:

7:00: We arrived at Palace Cafe, a cozy little venue with a dining room that gets moody and beautiful after sundown. There was local art on the walls, knowledgeable wait staff and just enough company to make the restaurant buzz.

7:10: Aaron ordered the Grilled Atlantic Salmon, I ordered the Vegetable Tagliatelle; we both ordered wine, and we snacked on fresh bread and butter. Okay, yum.

7:45: Aaron was slumped over in his chair, and I was snoring with my mouth open, fork still in hand. Just kidding. We did feel like going to sleep after dinner, though. After being on the prowl for many months for a dinner out that hit the spot in my heart that itched for that ideal dining experience, we arrived tonight. After such a hard journey, we deserved a little shut eye.

8:25: Then dessert bentos and french-pressed Topeca coffee happened. Then we died. Then we came back to life. But it was only for another bite of that mini creme brulee. I thought Aaron was going to lick the ramekin.

9:00: Aaron wrote, "No...thank YOU" on the ticket.

9:15: We drove by Utica Square, just wasting time. I love to drive by Utica Square after dark. Even in the summertime, =it looks like one of those Christmas villages my grandma collects.

9:35: Drove by The University of Tulsa, just to make sure it was still there. It was. Headed north in search of Whittier Square (I know, a pox on me for not knowing exactly how to get there by now). I'd heard of this new place, Alisee Momo, a little coffee shop and cafe and entertainment venue between Circle Cinema and Zeigler. It looks lovely from the outside. We didn't stop in, since we had to hurry to QuikTrip. I'm starting to think my bladder will never realize we're not pregnant anymore.

9:45: The QuikTrip off of 412 at Gilcrease is yucky. The yuckiest. I washed my hands twice, and then I used hand sanitizer in the car, just in case.

10:00: I got on the highway and headed toward my Meme's for Little, and Aaron tells me to get off at the next exit. I thought we were going to get to neck or some such crazy, disgusting thing, but instead we watched this:

Completely off the ground in this one.

It is my new professional aspiration: to become a wrecker girl. I would wear heels and pin curls and talk with a New York accent and do my darnedest to personify Rosie the Riveter as I pull your jalopy out of a pickle.

Well, maybe. I only own one pair of heels, and I broke them at a birthday party at The Summit Club last weekend. I get insanely large hair if I even think the word "curl" (think Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias), and my New York accent sounds just as bad as my Okie one. Fuhgeddaboutit.

10:30: I thought we should find some more wine, but we decided to drive by Sand Springs Station instead. It's also still there. We saw this neat looking bicycle shop on Main - anyone know anything about it?

10:45: Time to pick up our automatic drooling machine. He was sound asleep. He's got the prettiest eyelashes. And toes. And lips. I love the way his fingertips stick out from his swaddling blanket.

The kid is getting ready to grow out of his swaddling blanket, but he won't go to sleep without it. Looks like I need to get the sewing machine out. I just hope I won't be making a swaddling blanket with his high school's mascot patch on it someday, especially since I can't sew a patch very well. Once I sewed the American flag on Aaron's BDUs backward. Then none of the Army wives talked to me at the Christmas dinner, which was catered by Rib Crib...just like the year before...and the year before.

Army folks love Rib Crib. Thought you'd like to know that, just in case.

11:55: I've gotta get up and walk some of this baby weight off tomorrow morning, and I'm sitting here using time that should be spent on getting my beauty sleep to write to you lovely blog readers out there.

I'm also boiling water and sterilizing nipples. How's that for a wild Friday night? Now I'm gonna go howl at the moon with my crazy neighbor, The Colonel.

More about him later.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fans, Y'All

After several days of three-digit temperatures in Tulsa, and after being told by our AC guy that our air conditioner is doing what it can to cool our home to 80 degrees, we bought these:
We installed the first one in the baby's room last night. I must admit, I wasn't a believer in ceiling fans. I had one in my room growing up, but I turned it on for the white noise at bed time; I never noticed a difference in the temperature when it was on. But this new fan we installed - whew, doggy. It's likely to ice over in the nursery.

We'll probably not have to run the air conditioner nearly 24/7 now that we'll have three new ceiling fans in the house. That'll be nice for the pocket book, given the way the price of electricity (oh, and everything else) is headed nowadays.

Another break will come in the form of a cool front that just moved in, which will put daily high temperatures in the mid- to low-90's for the next several days.

It's funny that I just described temperatures in the mid- to low-90s as a break. What can I say, except, "Welcome to August in Tulsa!"

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tulsa Needs This

I know we've got something like a discount pass to the city in the form of the Entertainment Book, but this marketing is much better and more convincing:

For $50, you get the card that's worth hundreds in discounts at OKC restaurants, galleries, attractions, events and more while supporting the Allied Arts of Oklahoma City.

When I originally read about this concept in either Family Circle or Woman's Day (so I am subjected to a wide variety of media - sue me), I asked around to see if anything like this was being put together for Tulsa. As of right now, it's not.

That's a shame, because I'm sure a Tulsa non-profit could raise money until the cows come home with this deal, and the Convention & Visitors Bureau would have one more tool in its arsenal to bring visitors - and their money - to Tulsa.

Hey, it's better than coupons (even if they are really, really pretty). I guess I would rather fork over something that looks like a debit or credit card than a carnival ride pass that says FREE APPETIZER on it. Especially if I'm from out of town, on a date or...actually, that preference would go for pretty much any time, any place.

If a Tulsa card was available, I know I'd buy one every year. Am I a pushover, or would you buy one, too?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

And the Taquito Smiled Down Upon Us

We have been gifted.

Any time one wakes up and finds a QuikTrip taquito on her back porch, she can be sure that that day is going to be a good day.

Viva el QT Taquito!

Friday, August 1, 2008

It's a Bird! It's a Plane!

No, goofball. Those are balloons.

Keep your eyes on the sky, Tulsa. Gatesway Balloon Festival is this weekend, and our airspace will be crowded with dozens of lovely, colorful hot-air balloons until Sunday evenin'.

There is lots for kids to do at this festival, including arts and crafts and, of course, checking out the balloons. There are plenty of attractions suitable for adults, as well. Click here for a schedule of events. You can find some good food hanging around, too.

The balloons are fascinating to watch during the day:
But to really practice your ooohhs-and-aaahhhs, you should stick around for when the sun sets:Oh, Lordy.

This year's event will be at Will Rogers Downs, 20900 S. 4200 Road in Claremore (click that link for directions from downtown Tulsa). Admission per car is $5.

In case you didn't know, Gatesway is a non-profit Oklahoma agency that provides opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities. Services are provided throughout Northeastern and Central Oklahoma.

All the purdy photos are from the Gatesway Foundation Web site. Come this weekend to take your own!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Mos Jef Does Dfest

That's Mos Jef in the middle.

Well, it seems the planners of Tulsa’s seventh annual Diversafest did exactly what some people thought they would not be able to do – top last year. Dfest went from five years of obscurity to “the festival that brought out The Flaming Lips” last year. Despite how great The Lips were last year, as a whole this year was much better.

Remembering how long I waited in line for a bracelet last year, I went downtown in the early afternoon to get mine. I briefly stopped into McNellie’s to get a beer and I was reminded that, despite our big city music festival being setup out the window, Tulsa is still just a great big small town. I was upstairs with 3 other people. One guy was the bartender with whom I played little league baseball. Another guy I happened to meet at Big Splash two weeks earlier. The third guy I recognized as dating one of my ex-girlfriends.

I left downtown for a while and returned to catch the last part of moe. They put on a good show, but Dfest made for the third time I’ve seen moe. perform. The band that played immediately after them blew me away though. Ghostland Observatory is a two-man band that falls somewhere between dance pop and glam rock. I’d never heard of this Austin-based duo before, but I was thoroughly impressed by their music and particularly their stage show. I know many people were there to see the headlining Disco Biscuits, but I think Ghostland Observatory stole the show Friday night.

Ghostland Observatory

Saturday night I was convinced that DIVERSafest lived up to its name. I saw the first half of Helmet. Yes, Helmet. I haven’t seen a concert attract that many shirtless drunk white guys into a mosh pit since I was in junior high. I had no desire to smash around and dance like a chicken in front of a large audience, but I did enjoy watching it all go down. A short walk later, I was at Zappa Plays Zappa. The most violent thing happening here was glow sticks and beach balls being tossed around. The music was outstanding. Being a Frank Zappa fan, I didn’t know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. Once Zappa ended, I was getting pretty excited about The Roots. I view The Roots as a very significant band. Years from now, I think they will be viewed as one of the great hip-hop groups of the day. They did not disappoint. Rather than playing from their allotted time of midnight to 1:45AM, they played until 2:40. I left exhausted from the dancing.

Zappa Plays Zappa

The Roots

The Roots

Overall I would have to give an A+ to Dfest this year. I think last year The Flaming Lips opened up the opportunity for this festival to grow. This year having The Roots will further legitimize Dfest as a big music festival. I can’t wait to see what is going down next year.

Wooooo! Mosh pit

The crowd

The crowd and downtown Tulsa

Other accounts of Dfest: This Tulsa
Urban Tulsa's G.K. Hizer

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Drink Downtown

I have cool friends.

Chris Bouldin, proprietor of T-shirt and accessory company Rock City Outfitters and once-contributor to this blog, has made the above shirt design available to all you thirsty downtown lovers out there. Click the link to get your own.

Speaking of, where's your favorite place to get a drink downtown? Perennial favorites of mine are McNellie's and Arnie's, mostly because I see people I know at both of those places pretty much anytime I go in, and I love to see people I know. Arnie's is small, and sometimes it takes a solid 30 minutes to get a beer from a waitress at McNellie's, but I'd take them both over Orpha's or, heaven forbid, El Guapo's.

Sorry. I want to like El Guapo's. I really do. I've heard it has improved since I last went, but I've been scared to give it another chance. I don't know - their margaritas are about as big as my head (you didn't hear this from me, but folks, that's a giant head), and it's hard to stay away from that for too long.

So, Mack, what'll it be? McNellie's, Arnie's, or [insert your favorite downtown bar here]?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Primary Election Today

Today is a voting day! Voting is fun - you get to hide in a booth as you make your choices, you get to feed the counting machine and you get a sticker afterward. You also get time off from work to vote. It's also the greatest responsibility of the citizen of the United States of America. In sum, it's the best way to spend a few minutes of your time today.

Here is some great education on the candidates running in today's election. If ever you need to know more about any candidate in an election in Tulsa, visit the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa Web site. They work hard to make those voter guides available free to the public, and the guides are always thorough and organized.

Read up, and we'll see you at the polls!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Purple Glaze Studio: Something for the Kids, Perfect for a Rainy Day

I've been getting questions about what there is to do in Tulsa for kids. I'll answer since kids are people, too, mostly.

Also, I'm always on the lookout for great gifts, especially ones I can make.

Purple Glaze, on Peoria at about 35th St., and on S. 91st St., fills both orders.

We went to the Peoria location to make gifts for my mom and Meme for their birthdays. My mom turned the big 5-0 yesterday, so I wanted to make her something that would secure my status as her favorite daughter, once and for all.

I don't know why I was expecting a quiet little studio, but that joint was abuzz with all kinds of folks - a group of pre-teens, a mother and daughter on a night out, an early-20's couple on a date. We took the last available table, and for the plus-or-minus two hours we were there, no tables came free.

Let's rewind a bit and remind the seasoned among us what exactly goes down at Purple Glaze: You pick a piece from the wide array of pottery and ceramics available in the studio; get an idea for a design and pick paints; sit at your little table, draw, paint and have a great time. A few days later, return for your one-of-a-kind, professionally fired and glazed work of art.

Purple Glaze runs daily specials, ranging from Friday date nights where couples pay only half the $6 studio fee to after-school, $2 studio fees for students on Wednesdays. Since we went on a Monday, we didn't have to pay a studio fee at all. Pottery prices include paint, glazing and firing. We decided to work with large plates, which were $16 per - not bad for a handmade keepsake.

That's my hand print. Dainty, no?

That's my husband's hand print. Burly. Manly. Muscular.

The same size as mine.

Oh, well.

And there's our little guy, gettin' in on the fun.

Here's the finished product.

Go ahead and say it: This is the cutest darned thing you have ever did seen.

I've gotta commend Purple Glaze on its customer service. When I went to pick up our plates Thursday, the person in charge that day informed me one had broken during the firing process (good thing we made three, right?). She and her manager offered me a gift certificate that more than replaced the plate that had broken, and they let me keep the broken plate, of course. They were apologetic and professional in handling what was potentially an upsetting situation.

Mom and Meme loved their gifts. We gave them each a half of the broken plate first, just for laughs. They even tried to act excited about them, the sweethearts.

They liked their unbroken plates much better.

Hubs and kiddo and I will be returning to Purple Glaze to re-make our own heirloom soon. I'm thinking this time we'll opt for a set of small, square plates - or maybe a set of bowls - or maybe I'll finally try a mosaic - or maybe we'll do it all, since we plan to make Purple Glaze a regular destination for our family outings. It's cheap, easy and fun. Plus, it gives us a chance to just sit around and be together.

If your kids are running here for baseball practice, there for ballet, and you're trying to fit dinner in between catch-up work on your laptop, walking the dog and scrubbing behind your ears, yell, "Wait a minute!" at the top of your lungs the next time your family is within ear shot and haul everyone down to Purple Glaze.

While you're making something together that you'll always treasure, even if you can't tell if it's a dog or a fish or a clown, and even if it looks more like it got dragged through the mud than masterfully painted, you'll get plenty of chances to take a much-needed, long, deep breath.

Until your youngest knocks over an entire shelf of ceramic Batmans. If/when that happens, be sure to take pictures. Send them to me so I can have a good laugh.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Parking for Dfest

I think some people shy away from spending time downtown because they think there is no parking available.

Well, maybe the kind of parking available in suburbia where you step out of your car, take a few steps and you can walk into your destination isn't widely available, but there is certainly plenty of places downtown to store your wheels.

Source: Tulsa Police Department. Click to enlarge.

I hope most of you will make it downtown this weekend for Dfest, Tulsa's premier music event and conference. Dfest officials estimate about 60,000 will show up downtown for some music this weekend, and 60,000 music fans can't be wrong.

You can still buy two-day passes for $30, which is next to nothing to pay for the level of entertainment that will be available during the course of the weekend. If you wait until the day of the event (starts tomorrow, gates open at 4, with first shows at 6), you'll have to shell out $40.

How often can you pay for an entire weekend's worth of entertainment for less than the price of a tank of gas? Especially entertainment that rocks.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Most Lifeless Intersection

Google Streetview

I overheard someone say once that the S. 51st Street and Memorial Drive intersection is "the most lifeless intersection in Tulsa."

I have thought about that comment a lot. At times, I've been convinced the person was correct. Two strip-style shopping centers riddled with national chains, a Shell station, not anyplace where I'd be enticed to dine, two lanes going in all directions, pedestrian lights about 30 seconds long, and a cemetery comprising the entire southeast corner.

It doesn't get more lifeless than a cemetery, you know?

Then I began to think of Tulsa in a new way. I've wandered the city by foot, car and mind, thinking of T-Town in terms of its intersections. Some are as happenin' as they come - 31st and Peoria, 1st and Archer, 71st and Memorial (like it or not, it's there). Others...well, others - 51st and Mingo, 9th and Boston - make me sad.

I also began to think of what exactly makes an intersection hip, or what sends it straight to lifeless-ville. Where's the tipping point, exactly? Does it happen when a chain, often too large in scale and discouraging of pedestrian activity, moves in on one of the corners? Does a cool independent restaurant or retailer have the capability of singlehandedly transforming a "lifeless" intersection into a hotspot (I think Elliot Nelson has answered this question with a resounding "yes," but think for yourself)? If so, what are the other parts of the formula to creating a hip hub of an intersection?

What would lists of lifeless and happenin' Tulsa intersections look like?

Feel free to weigh in on this in the comments section. If nothing else, give it some thought.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hola, Eloté

I had the most delicious beef nachos today for lunch, and guess what - I don't feel one little bit guilty about it.

At about noon today, a few co-workers and I mosied down to Eloté Café and Catering, in the space that once housed Nelson's Buffeteria at 514 S. Boston Ave., where the menu is centered on owner and chef Libby Auld's spin on Mexican cuisine that she coined "Fresh-Mex." I had my choice of familiar, south-of-the-border dishes from tacos to quesadillas to puffy tacos, all made with fresh ingredients.

The menu at Eloté is big on healthful food, which brings me back to my nachos: they were flavorful, light and not overly filling, a far cry from the greasy, heavy nachos I order at basketball games and Taco Bueno. Not that there isn't a time and a place for everything, including greasy, heavy nachos, but I'm trying to rid this world of some of my presence right now. Eloté can be good for those of us staring longingly at those skinny jeans.

One of my co-workers had the puffy tacos, one beef and one chicken, with eloté (roasted corn-on-the-cob served with a spicy, citrus aioli) and black beans. Puffy tacos - or "pouffy tacos," as another customer mistakenly and hilariously called them - could be closely compared to those Indian taco things available at the fair and Mayfest, only they're usually much smaller, and the range of ingredients varies much more widely. I've had the puffy tacos from Eloté once before, so it was fun watching someone else experience their fresh, pico-topped fabulousness.

It's hard to get rid of a $10 bill at this place. My co-workers and I each ate for $6-$7, including a drink. Considering that several entrees feature two sides, and since my plate of nachos was more than enough for two to share, any price less than $10 would be a great value.

Yet another reason to brag on Eloté: it's just a hop, skip or a jump from the offices of most folks who earn a living downtown. No gas money required.

Libby, the owner and chef, seems to be suited for the business. Both times I've been to Eloté, she has flitted between the kitchen, the dining room and the hostess stand, saying hello and checking in on everyone in between. Best of all, she can cook. I like that in a restaurant owner.

Eloté Cafe and Catering has the official Tasha Does Tulsa seal of approval, which means that if you mention this blog when ordering, you'll receive a fabulous prize. Not really. Unless you actually do.
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