Kid-friendly Places · Yummy Places

BBQ? Mexican? = tacocue. Yes, please.

In a world that is continually saying “yes” to fast casual eateries and most certainly places like Qdoba, Chipotle, Torchy’s, and Fuzzy’s, tacocue americano eatery has entered the scene as a unique twist on the typical taco. Just last week, it opened its first location at 9107 S. Sheridan Rd. in Tulsa.

Jeff Jackson, CEO and President of Legendary Q Brands, the franchisor of Billy Sims BBQ, launched tacocue and has hopes that it will become a franchise as popular as Billy Sims.

When I first heard about tacocue’s concept of BBQ and Mexican fusion, I was hesitant. I mean, I love BBQ, and I love Mexican, but combining the two? It worried me. I quickly discovered there was nothing to worry about when I bit into my tacocue burrito, loaded with pulled pork, guac, pico de gallo, and all the other typical burrito fixings (all of which are made from scratch at tacocue!). The tacocue pulled pork was soft and succulent, and the combination of flavors was delightful. When I followed my tacocue visit by a visit to Qdoba the following day, I wished I had gone back to tacocue!

The four menu items include the Taco Duo (two tacos), Bowl (Salad or Rice), Burrito, and Quesadilla. The eight different meats (Pulled Pork, Smoked Chicken, Hot Link, Chorizo, Hamlet Ham (because they’re co-located with the Hamlet for now), Brisket, Steak and Breakfast Bacon) are seasoned and smoked using pecan wood.

Upon selecting their menu item and smoked meat choice, guests can then choose from over 20 ingredient options to fill their item with, including three salsas – the spiciest of which is tacocue’s “KA-BOOM Sauce.” I tried the tiniest of bite of KA-BOOM Sauce, and let me tell you, it is not for the faint of heart! Only try this sauce if you’re ready to have chapped lips for the next couple days. I had the salsa verde (their medium sauce) on my burrito, and it was plenty spicy, but not overwhelming. And of course, there’s also mild sauce for the cautious.

I took the Taco Duo home to my husband. They were filled with smoked chicken and pulled pork, with a number of fixings, including cojita cheese, which I’ve never seen at any of the other taco joints. He commented on how flavorful they were and begged me to go back.

tacocue is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their breakfast menu offers tacos, burritos, bowls, and quesadillas served with Pulled Pork, Hot Link, Chorizo, Hamlet Ham, Brisket, and Breakfast Bacon served alongside eggs.

I was most impressed by tacocue’s beautiful patio room (below). It can be opened up to the outdoors when the weather is nice and includes plenty of heat lamps if it’s a bit chilly. With a couple of TVs, it looks like a great place to watch a game. The main dining room is filled with fun pop art decor, created by Jeff’s wife, who is a graphic artist.

Affordable, tasty, and unique, tacocue is a welcome addition to the Tulsa fast casual dining scene!

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Free Places · Kid-friendly Places

Tulsa Has a New, Old Library. And It’s Awesome.

img_5112Have you had a chance to visit the newly remodeled Central Library in downtown Tulsa at 400 Civic Center yet? Well, call me a nerd, but it’s now one of my favorite places downtown.

This library went over a major overhaul — three years of renovations totaling $55 million. It’s now a crowning jewel in downtown — a mecca of learning, creative thinking, oh, and coffee.

img_5119Yes, that’s right … coffee. The Central Library is home to downtown Tulsa’s first STARBUCKS! I enjoyed lunch and a Frappuccino with some friends on the Starbucks patio just the other day. I for one think it was a brilliant idea to put a Starbucks inside the library. Hopefully it will draw more people to the wonderful services that our Tulsa City-County Library System offers.

Speaking of those wonderful services… people, having a library card is the best free thing I have! (OK, I know I pay for it in taxes, but it’s totally worth it!). I LOVE our img_5117library system! You can do things on TulsaLibrary.org like download free audio books, read digital newspapers and magazines, and learn a language. I’m personally pretty old school, so I prefer books you can hold and audio books you pop into your CD player. So when I need these items, I can go on their website and request that those items by transferred to the library closest to me. The library makes it so easy for us! I love you, Tulsa City-County Library!

img_5114I really enjoyed strolling through the library during my recent visit. As a new mom, I especially loved the children’s area. It has a ton of interactive displays for the kids to play on. And books are organized in a more kid-friendly manner than they were when I was a kid, that’s for sure.

The new study rooms (left) are awesome, too. They’re beautiful rooms with views overlooking downtown. I’m going to have to find something to study just so I can use one of them.

Throughout the library, you’ll find really comfortable, modern-looking furniture. One room of the library is entirely dedicated to Tulsa, with books and other materials on the city’s history. Other impressive features of the library include a 3-D printer, a digital recording lab,  an educator meeting space with a kitchenette, movable furniture and magnetic board, pickup lockers in the lobby for patrons to retrieve items when the facility is closed, and a fantastic parking garage with free parking for up to 2 hours for library patrons (enter off Denverimg_5115; YOU’RE WELCOME!).

I look forward to spending many more lunch breaks exploring our wonderful new, old library.

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Kid-friendly Places · Yummy Places

Do Not Let the Summer End Without Going to This Tulsa Summer Staple

IMG_4495During the summer, do you ever drive by these little road side shacks that have epic lines and wonder, what’s all the rage about? If you find yourself asking that, then you obviously haven’t tried Josh’s Sno Shack, Tulsa’s destination for ridiculously delicious snow cones.

Josh’s Sno Shack serves snow cones unlike any I’ve ever had in my life. The ice is perfectly soft — none of that crunchy stuff you get at other places. This ice is truly like fresh-fallen snow. How is that possible?

Josh Juarez, owner and founder of Josh’s, told me that the staff is trained to make sure the snow is always top-notch and will make tweaks to the machine if the ice is coming out as anything other than super fresh. And the flavors (there are literally hundreds of flavor combinations) … they are all made in-house with cane sugar, so the syrups are super fresh and high quality.

Josh’s has your regular snow cone stand standbys, such as my personal favorite, Tiger’s Blood josh's(coconut, strawberry), Fuzzy Navel (orange, peach), and Mai Tai (lemon, orange, pineapple). But there are also lots of combinations you can find only at Josh’s, like the Mexican Fiesta (blackberry, lime, margarita) and Peachy King, pictured right (peach, pina colada).

Josh’s is super kid-friendly. With flavors like Bart Simpson (banana, blue raspberry), Finding Nemo (black cherry, orange), and Spongebob (banana, vanilla), your kids are going to be begging for Josh’s (if they aren’t already!). You can also have gummy bears or pop rocks added to any snow cone – fun!

One thing you’ll notice when you visit Josh’s is how incredibly friendly the staff members are. I asked Josh about this, and he said he puts a lot of emphasis on hiring quality people and teaching them great customer service. It really shows! I don’t think there’s been a time I’ve visited a Josh’s when the young person taking my order hasn’t been genuinely interested in how my day is going. It just helps make your snow cone a little sweeter.

You can book a Josh’s Sno Shack for a special event! How fun would that be, to have snow cones at your wedding or party? Josh’s has 7 free-standing locations (8 if you count the one inside Safari Joe’s H20!). Be sure to visit one (or all 7) before the summer ends!

 

Entertaining Places · Kid-friendly Places · Outdoor Places

Safari Joe’s H20 = Recipe for Summer Fun in Tulsa

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Photo courtesy Safari Joe’s H2O

It’s summer. It’s hot out there in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The only thing worthy of doing outside in this heat is getting in a pool! Or … multiple pools. When my friend Kelsey was recently visiting from L.A., we decided that we, two adult ladies without children, would escape the heat by going to Safari Joe’s H20… the destination formerly known as Big Splash.

Let me give you a little history here. I grew up in Tulsa. Many a summer in the 1980s and 1990s were spent at Big Splash, burning my skin on their tubes, which were formerly black (bad idea!) and getting the worst wedgies ever as I zipped down the Silver Bullet. Alas, my final trip to Big Splash was circa 1999 when I went with some fellow teenage friends and decided that I was officially “too cool” for Big Splash.

Now that I’m in my 30’s, pregnant, and hot all the time this summer, I’m not “too IMG_4580cool” for anything. Plus, I was curious to see how Safari Joe’s is different/better than Big Splash, so with Kelsey in tow, we made our way to Safari Joe’s on a Saturday after 4 p.m. to take advantage of the Short Swim for $10/person.

When we walked into the water park, we were immediately greeted by all sorts of wildlife — a huge snake (in a cage, thank God!), a tiny alligator (also in a cage), a huge tortoise, and all kinds of birds. There was even a parrot just hanging out in one of the trees. These are some fun additions Safari Joe’s has made that make it a little different than your typical water park.

We immediately made our way to the Tube Lagoon to rent a tube and a locker. Be forewarned: this is where you’ll probably end up spending a lot of money. It’s $6.50 for a single tube and $9.50 for a double tube, and you get a $1 refund upon return. Lockers range from $11-$16, with a $5 refund upon key return. The thing is, you can’t really skimp out on not renting a locker, unless you have someone in your group who is willing to sit and watch cell phones and other valuables while everyone else is in the pool. And a couple of the rides are just more fun if you have a tube! So we had to get both.

Our favorite spot at Safari Joe’s ended up being the Master Blaster. It’s a tube roller coaster, and it is truly a blast. We actually broke the rules by riding it because we noticed a sign that said “2 adults not allowed in double tube; weight limit 250 lbs.” I’m pretty sure this is the first time in either of our lives that we’ve been over the weight limit for something, but with this baby growing in me, I am definitely not model thin right now. Nonetheless, we made it on the ride twice without getting kicked out and had an amazing time going over twists and turns in our tube and finally landing in the Lazy River.

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Photo courtesy Safari Joe’s H20

I do have one complaint about the Lazy River. When you utter the words, “Lazy River”, to me, that should equal complete and utter relaxation. Not the case with this Lazy River. There’s a spot in the river with a huge waterfall-type feature where you will be soaked. If you’re in a tube, you can’t move super fast, so you’ll be soaked for a good 10 seconds. Consider yourself forewarned!

Other big attractions at Safari Joe’s are the Flumes, three slides that are four stories high, the Tiny Turtle playLagoons, pools that have only 8 inches of water in them for the little ones, and the Activity Pool, a great spot to sunbathe, zip down a small slide, or climb a rock wall.

Safari Joe’s H20 has added on quite a few “play” areas that I don’t remember there being at Big Splash, like a pirate ship playground. There are also basketball and volleyball courts.

One of my favorite areas of all time has always been the wave pool. There, you can imagine you’re surfing the high seas on your tube (or if you’re really brave, just hop your body on top of the waves). It’s really only wise for experienced swimmers to go in the deep end of this pool … there’s a reason why they have 5-6 lifeguards on duty just in this one pool usually!

There are also plenty of concession options at Safari Joe’s. One of my favorite Tulsa summer spots just opened a location within Safari Joe’s: Josh’s Sno Shack! A snow cone while sitting by the pool is an amazing combo. Other food options include Peg Leg Pizza and Ocean View

Photo courtesy Safari Joe's H2O
Photo courtesy Safari Joe’s H2O

Cafe. There’s also The Shark Beach Bar for the adults. Speaking of adults, Safari Joe’s hosts an Adult Night (21+) every Thursday from 7-11 p.m. There’s live music, dancing, and of course, lots of bar time and swimming.

Safari Joe’s is open until through Labor Day, so make the most of this summer and go check it out!

Artsy Places · Entertaining Places · Free Places · Kid-friendly Places

8 Indoor Adventures to Have in Tulsa This Summer

It’s time to get out of the heat and into the A/C!

Here’s the deal, folks. It’s only June, and it’s insanely hot in Tulsa already. The “feels like” temperature has climbed up to 110 or hotter several times already. And when you’re nearly 7 months pregnant, your “feels like” temperature is automatically 10 degrees hotter than what the “feels like” temperature for everyone else is. Therefore, my summer resolution is to experience the Great Indoors!

Won’t you join me while I seek out adventures I can have in the Tulsa area this summer while enjoying the glorious invention that is A/C?
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8 Indoor Adventures to Have in Tulsa This Summer:

OKjazzexterior1. Check out the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.

Occupying Tulsa’s old Union Depot Building (the train station) is a hub jiving with the sounds of jubilant trumpets, sassy saxophones, and melodious guitars. Capturing both the rich history of Tulsa’s jazz past and welcoming an entourage of new musical talent, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is an entertainment mecca full of musical adventures.

The Jazz Depot hosts a weekly event that is perfect for downtown workers who need some time away from the office: Lunch and Jazz. Admission is free, so bring a brownbag lunch and prepare to hear some music for the soul, every Friday from noon to 1 p.m.

If you can’t hit up the free jazz on Fridays at lunch time, never fear; the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame also offers “Depot Jams” every Tuesday from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m., a free jazz jam session open to the public.

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2. Go to a cheap movie.

Who can afford to pay $10 every time per person to go see a movie? I just can’t justify it, seeing as how I know that in a few months, I’ll be able to see that movie for a $1.50, or better yet, free, thanks to Redbox or Netflix. But I’m all for going to cheap movies!

Have you been to Village 8 Movies? This is the old “dollar theater” at 68th and Memorial, but it’s under new ownership since late 2015 and looks and smells a lot better! Movies there are just $2 for kids 12 and older and seniors 60+, and $2.50 for everyone else.

If you’ve got kiddos in tow this summer, Starworld 20 has $3 kids’ movies on Tuesday and Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 12:30. This handy link has all the details.

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3. Explore one of Tulsa’s many museums.

There certainly isn’t a shortage of museums in Tulsa, and great news: They’re all air-conditioned!

I recently learned that Philbrook offers free admission to people under the age of 18 every day! (and also to college students with a valid student ID from a local university). Pretty sweet deal if you’ve got kiddos/teens. Another budget-friendly, family-friendly event at Philbrook is the free Second Saturday. Visit on the second Saturday of each month for free family-friendly art activities, tours and scavenger hunts for kids of all ages.

Gilcrease is also worth checking out and offers one of the best collections of Native American art in the country. Gilcrease also has free admission to anyone under the age of 18.

While Philbrook and Gilcrease are the two mainstay museums in Tulsa, there are tons of other museums to scope out. The Brady Arts District downtown offers a number of different museums and galleries, including the Woody Guthrie Museum, Philbrook Downtown, and the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa. You could easily spend most of a day wandering to each of these creative venues.

This summer, I intend to check out the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. I’ve heard that the Planetarium, which provides an exciting educational experience by pairing stunning high-definition visuals with state of the art technology in a theater, is truly amazing.

Other local museums worth visiting include the Tulsa Children’s Museum, Will Rogers Memorial Museum in Claremore, and Woolaroc in Bartlesville.

eastgate4. Get Your inner granny on and go mall walking.

OK, don’t mock me. I am an avid runner, and not being able to run at this point in my pregnancy is a real drag. So I’ve been getting my mall walking on. I’m sure you all know about Woodland Hills Mall and Promenade Mall, but have you been around Tulsa long enough to know the secret of Eastland Mall (now known as Eastgate Metroplex?). When I was a kid, there was actually a mall at 21st near 145th E. Ave.

Nowadays, that mall has been transformed into a bit of a business complex. However, the mall is still more than half unoccupied, so it’s the perfect place to mall walk in the A/C without having to trample over teenyboppers! While you’re there, you can also grab a drink or a bite to eat at Kaffe Bona or Subway.

nam hai5. Have a cultural experience.

Nam-Hai at 11528 E 21st St. opened a new location a year or so ago that is definitely worth checking out! They have all things Asian! Anytime I’ve needed to cook with a special Asian spice or vegetable, or that one time in high school when I was desperate to find ube, a special yam-based ice cream from the Philippines, Nam-Hai came through for me! It’s also just really fun to walk around and experience a different culture (or your own culture, if you are Asian!).

Another culture worth exploring is the Hispanic culture! Tulsa has a number of Hispanic shops and restaurants scattered around town. Many are in the vicinity of 21st and Garnett. Also in that area you will find the Martin Regional Library, which has the largest collection of Spanish materials in Tulsa. If you have kids, the Martin Regional Library is a great place to take them to help encourage a bilingual future! Another Hispanic hub in town is on Lewis around Highway 2-44. There, you can find my favorite Hispanic bakery, Pancho Anaya.

Andy-B-Web-2013-126. Go bowling.

So apparently, kids can bowl free over the summer at Andy B’s at 87th and Lewis. Sounds like a great activity to keep the kiddos occupied! Here’s the link with all the details.
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main event7. Get all kinds of fun on at Main Event.

Have you been to Main Event in Tulsa Hills yet? There is so much to do there, and it’s all indoors! YAY! You can climb the ropes’ course, bowl, play laser tag, play arcade games, or eat! I’ve been wanting to go there on a Monday night, when they have Monday Night Madness. You can choose from three specials: all you can play activities for $9.95, unlimited video game play for $9.95, or a $20 FUNcard good for food and fun.

Shark-Tank-During-Feed-1024x6828. Visit the Oklahoma Aquarium.

The Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks is a real gem, and it’s awesome that it’s located right in Tulsa’s back yard! During your visit there, you can see local aquatic life like catfish, but also aquatic creatures from all over the world, like sea anemones, jellyfish, and best of all… sharks! I absolutely love the Shark Tunnel at the Aquarium! The sharks will literally swim right over your head! It’s a hoot.

The Aquarium also has a little restaurant if you need to grab lunch there. Speaking of grabbing a bite to eat, it’s fun to watch the critters getting fed! Check out the feeding schedule so you can schedule your visit properly. I would think that with the release of Disney’s “Finding Dory” this summer, the Oklahoma Aquarium will be a very popular destination for families!

Did I leave anything out? What are your favorite things to do INDOORS in the Tulsa area?

 

Entertaining Places · Kid-friendly Places · Outdoor Places · Yummy Places

Flying Tee Has Something for Everyone (Even Non-Golfers)

IMG_4482I had a great time last week checking out FlyingTee, Tulsa/Jenks’ new driving range, entertainment, and dining venue during its Grand Opening. Even though I’m not a golfer AT ALL, I actually left thinking, “I’ll be back here.”

Let me explain. Yes, FlyingTee has the typical driving range that you’ll find plenty of other places. However, their driving range is equipped with all the latest technology bells and whistles, James Vollbrecht, co-founder and chief technology officer, explained to me. This means that even if you’re awful at golf, like me, you could play against Tiger Woods and end up winning. The computers in the bay area allow you to enter your skill level, so I can still play against the pros at my beginner level, and the technology will evaluate us individually according to our skill levels.

The technology in the bays also has plenty for the pros, offering the industry’s most advanced golf ball tracking technology to get real-time data on every single swing. You can even play pro courses like Pebble Beach through the technology. FlyingTee also has five instructors on staff who will help you constantly improve your game.

FullSizeRender (2)While many of the players in the bays are simply practicing their range, other players come out for the entertainment aspect the technology offers. James showed me how you can play a number of different games, such as Blackjack, 21, Horse/Pig, and Darts. If you bring kids, they can still play even if all they can do is putt! These games are perfect for golfers of all levels, and fun, too!

IMG_4475Aside from the games, Flying Tee is also a place to head for food. The venue offers three different restaurants! The Sports Bar on the first level is a great place to catch a game thanks to 16-foot wall of TVs. They also have a huge sports ticker running across the ceiling. Some of the food highlights in The Sports Bar are shrimp tacos, seared tuna salad, a variety of pizzas, and chicken wings. Folks playing in the bays can also order off The Sports Bar menu and have it delivered out to their bay.

IMG_4478The second floor restaurant is Ironwood, featuring a massive rotisserie grill. This is THE place to get meat and veggies skewered rotisserie-style. We’re talking rack of pork, yukon gold mashed potatoes, and grilled asparagus, for example. YUM! Other highlights in Ironwood include a Prime Rib Sandwich and Salmon Salad. Ironwood also offers a nice outdoor patio that overlooks the Arkansas River.

The third floor restaurant is Flite, and it is exclusively opened on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. It offers small “flights” of food, like the Crab Flight: Crab salad, naan bread, tzatziki sauce, romaine, carrot and daikon salad and Duck Two Ways: cast iron seared duck breast served with hoisin, green onion, maple shallot bacon, wonton and spring roll chips. Sounds exquisite!

IMG_4480James also pointed out that all of the menus at FlyingTee offer gluten free options, such as GF chicken wings, GF fried okra, and GF French fries.

FlyingTee is not part of a chain. It is locally owned and operated. James said they do hope to expand to more locations over time.

Personally, I think FlyingTee is a great addition to the Jenks Riverwalk. That area has been struggling over the last few years, and it’s likely that FlyingTee will breathe new life into it. Welcome to Tulsa, FlyingTee!

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Entertaining Places · Kid-friendly Places

Get Rolling at Skates!

Bonita James

By Bonita James

“I wanna be a skate dancer!”

This was my epiphany while skating for the first time at Skates Roller Skating Center in Sand Springs. I want to be one of the cool kids, but first, I need to nail down this roller skating thing.

Yes, I am 35 years young and am just learning how to roller skate. I “skate” once a year at my nephew’s birthday party and really try to give it all I got. It wasn’t until this past party in May I felt like I actually “got it,” thanks to my yoga practice getting me in tune with my core.

The morning after the birthday party, I bought my first pair of roller skates! My leopard-print Moxi skates arrived a few days later and just in time for Adult Skate Night!

As the universe would have it, my new Facebook friend Penelope had posted that she bought Moxi skates too. We were immediate Moxi Girls! We can both thank this super hip Moxi video for bringing us and our purchases together. No Moxi Skate team in Tulsa yet, but don’t put it past us or other awesome Tulsa girls to start one!

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Penelope has been in the skating and derby scene for a while. My long-time friend from the OKC derby scene, Stormy, busted out her derby skates too. Before we knew it, we were all lacing up. Skates’ Adult Skate Night (18+) is from 8-10 p.m. every Thursday. Skates address is 401 E. Broadway St. in Sand Springs, but don’t count on your GPS to take you directly there. This gem is tucked away behind a couple of parking lots. Following the GPS will get you to the general area, but you have to turn left into a parking lot of what looks like duplexes and wind your way to the back. Skates Sign

There you’ll see the momentous SKATES sign. Pay your $5, put on your own skates or rent
Brownies for $2 or Speed Skates for $3.50 more. It’s the best entertainment/ exercise session $5 can buy!  

Newbies & Pros Welcome

Me being a newbie, the sheer speed of the real skaters zooming by me almost made me want to get off the rink, at first. Good thing I am determined! In my squeaky new skates, I was barely rolling on what felt like match sticks with sticky wheels. Stormy’s tools and advice lead me to loosening up my trucks and wheels. I finally loosened up my nerves and started making progress.

I have to say, this is the coolest skating rink I’ve been to. Although I was terrified of skating until this recent “facing my fears” phase in life, I’ve been to a lot of skating rinks. As an early roller derby fan, I’ve seen and heard about the good and the bad in rink floors at derby bouts.

Skates’ 165’x75’ rink is crafted from maple wood and is lacquered to a smooth finish. There is only one wall partitioning the rink from snack and party area. This forced me to be brave my first time around.

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Skaters of all kinds flow around the rink. Some skate at high rates of speed, and others are more in tune with the beat. It was immediately apparent there is an unspoken comradery and etiquette among the skaters. The first person I saw fell was quickly met by two skaters who blocked him from others, while a third swooped in and helped him up. Seeing this made me feel good and safe. If I go down, instead of whizzing past me, these guys will help me. My “newbieism” is oh so apparent, but I have only been met with smiles and quick words of encouragement as people blaze by me.

Even back in my day of covering derby bouts and cheering on my favorite girls, I knew derby would never be “my thing.” But, when I saw this group of guys with matching shirts skating together, I knew I found my groove. I could feel the epiphany swarm me. 

“I wanna be a skate dancer!”

I’m sure these guys would probably cringe if they heard me say that. They are a team of Jam Skaters, and they are bad-to-the-bone! They have rhythm, grace and killer moves. They know what they are doing, and Skates is where they practice their craft. On Thursday nights, the Jam Skaters just have fun, but the rink is designated for them the first Sunday of the month, 9-11:30 p.m.

My ignorance is bliss, so I will still strive to be a skate dancer! But for now, just getting around the rink is progress.

The next time I went, I noticed there were a lot of new faces from the week before. I saw some who I’m sure go every Thursday, but I was happy to see I wasn’t the only wobbly-kneed newbs on the rink. I watched a cute couple hug the wall together before one of them was brave enough to go at it alone. She kept meeting up with her man and finally encouraged him to take her hand.  They both, as did I, got better as the night went on.

IMG_0365Adult Skate Night is just one session Skates offers. There is truly a time for everyone to skate. Family Night, 7-10 p.m. on Saturdays, blares “Mom-approved music” and is $8, including Brownie rental. Cheap Skates, 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, keeps with the “Mom approved” theme and is only $3 for admission. Note: Adult Skate Night is NOT “Mom approved.” I didn’t even have to make my request before I was skating to one of my favorite jams, “Shoop” by Salt ‘n’ Pepa!

Check out all Skates has to offer on their events page. They’ve got it all spelled out for you, so planning your skating session is no biggy.

Birthdays, fundraisers, group skate, parties–Skates does it all! You can even sign up for skate lessons! Coached by two time Jr. World Artistic Skating Champion, Court Collier, anyone at any level can have private skate lessons. I may just have to do this.

Skates logoIf going super fast is your thing, you can join the The Tulsa Speed League through Skates. Practice and join the team to participate and compete in Inline and Quad speed skating.

Skates is the place for the The Tulsa Derby League. It’s not just a league for the ladies either. They offer roller derby for men, women and junior girls and boys (ages 9-17). Welcoming skaters of all abilities and sizes, the professional coaches of the Tulsa Derby League will push skaters to the confidence and agility needed to play roller derby. 

My mission in 2016 is to move every day. Every Thursday night, and maybe some Cheap Skate nights, skating will be my platform to accomplish this goal. It’s good to mix it up. I’m so happy the stars aligned to bring my new-found courage, Moxi skates, Penelope and Stormy together at Skates in Sand Springs. Whether it’s for nostalgia, a party, or a date, Skates is a great place to lace up and roll onto the rink.

I’m creating memories as an adult at Skates. Writing this, I can’t help but wonder, what are some of your best roller skating memories? Please share with me in the comments!

Entertaining Places · Kid-friendly Places · Outdoor Places

Tulsa Botanic Garden Adds to Tulsa’s Present & Future

IMG_4222By Lindsay Morris

It’s likely that you’ve never accidentally driven past the Tulsa Botanic Garden. It’s in an area in far northwest Tulsa on a huge, undeveloped plot of land. While the gardens are currently home to several attractions, the future holds even more promise for this land.

IMG_4237During my recent visit, my husband, sister, and I enjoyed exploring the A.R. and MaryLouise Tandy Floral Terraces. Over 3 acres large, the terraces display over 8,000 permanent plants including trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, roses and perennials on a hillside that offers views of downtown Tulsa from its peak.

A prominent feature of the Floral Terraces is the Garden Cascade, a six-foot wide central water runnel emanating from the top of the hillside and flowing down into the lake. Seasonal color display beds surround the water channel from top to bottom and provide vivid swaths of color from spring bulbs, summer tropical plants or winter annuals.  Over 100,000 bulbs were planted for spring 2016 – making it one of the largest garden bulb displays in the region.

Art Deco details throughout the garden reflect Tulsa’s rich architectural history. We enjoyed sittingIMG_4236 under a covered area that definitely had some art deco flair. While most of the tulips were droopy by the time we visited in late April, there were still plenty of lovely flowers and plants to enjoy.

Next we headed over to the Cross Timbers Trail, a 1-mile walk across 110 acres. The Cross Timbers Trail features tallgrass prairies from the west intersecting with eastern deciduous forests. The convergence of these two habitats offers an abundance of life and diversity. Each season offers something different: wildflowers, migrating birds, butterflies, changing leaves and majestic grasses. On our walk, we saw plenty of wildflowers, a snake, cool rock formations, and more.

IMG_4231I felt like the only thing that could have made our walk better was if our little Schnauzer could have been there — but alas, no dogs (except service dogs) are allowed in the gardens.

The future of the Botanic Garden is bright. Later this month, on May 15, the Children’s Discovery Garden will open. We got a sneak IMG_4235peak of this as we walked past it, and it looks awesome! The focal point of the garden will be the Stream Valley, with the water source emanating from the Spring Giant, a 15’ rugged stone face entered through a hidden grotto. The Stream Valley will include fountains of spitting animals, an art wall where kids can paint with water, and the Willow Thicket.  It will definitely be worth going back to visit this new facet of the Garden after our little guy joins our family 🙂

Also in the Garden’s future is the Lotus Pool and All Seasons Garden.  The Lotus Pool will provide an exceptional experience in the Garden overlooking the northeastern circular portion of the lake.  A new bridge will be built to allow visitors a short walk around the water’s edge with multiple vistas to enjoy the blossoms of aquatic lilies and lotus.  Iris and other water-loving plants will offer resting sites for darting dragonflies.  

IMG_4226The All Seasons Garden will encircle the Lotus Pool and display plants offering striking and unique seasonal interests. From winter to summer, spring to fall, this garden will constantly be alive with color, texture and form.

The Tulsa Botanic Garden is a great addition to Tulsa, and I look forward to many more visits to it in the years to come!

 

Kid-friendly Places · Yummy Places

Thai Village – Best Sesame Chicken In The Country!

PeterGoodBy Peter Biadasz

For nearly a year I have enjoyed the food at Thai Village Thai Restaurant on the southwest corner of 81st & Lewis. When I am on the road I always seek out the best Sesame Chicken I can find, but I have yet to find a Sesame Chicken dish as delicious as the one served at Thai Village. The chicken is always tender, the broccoli always extremely fresh, the sauce rich and full of flavor.

Tom Ka Coconut Milk Soup - Thai Village
Tom Ka Coconut Milk Soup

Thai Village serves a wide variety of exceptional Thai cuisine. Among the appetizers are a tasty Spring Roll and a full flavored Tom Ka — a coconut milk based soup with a very wide and unexpected flavor profile. If you want to try something different, yet traditional, you will not be disappointed with this soup.

Delicious entrees include: Pad Thai Chicken, their #1 seller (best Pad Thai I have ever had); Orange Chicken, a tasty alternative to sesame chicken; Chicken Pad Pak Raum, an excellent meat and vegetable dish, and Kow Pad, pork fried rice. If you are a fried rice fan, you will love this dish. All of these dishes have an amazing amount of flavor and are quite satisfying.

Chicken Pad Thai - Thai Village
Chicken Pad Thai

For 7 years Thai Village had been serving authentic Thai food in a warm, family-oriented atmosphere. I have had lunch there several times and have noted the many regulars the staff knows by name. The restaurant is designed to showcase several TVs to showcase key sports or news events. According to owner, Paul Her, a

Orange Chicken
Orange Chicken

remodel will occur later this year to better accommodate their growing customer base.

Thai Village offers several lunch specials in the $6.99 – $8.99 range. The service is always quick. They also serve dinner and have a very healthy take out side to the business. According to Paul, 10% of their lunch business and 60% of their dinner business is eaten outside of the restaurant. If you are at work and want to pick up dinner on the way home, you can call Thai Village at 918-528-3311 or utilize the Order On The Way app to ensure a tasty dinner.

Pork Fried Rice
Pork Fried Rice

A must try are the Thai Iced Coffee and Thai Iced Tea. They are cold, refreshing, and sweet. Both are amazing beverages.

For the health conscious, all meals can be ordered as vegan, the vegetables are fresh daily, no oil is used on the meats (which are very lean), and oil is utilized lightly in the fried rice and noodles.

Regarding authentic Thai spices and heat: you can order your dish on a heat scale of 1 – 5. Caution – A normal 3 is a Thai 1. Thus, a normal 3 is a Thai 5. Thai village also has 3 off menu hotter spice offerings – Thai Hot, Extreme Hot and “Way Off The Menu Hot”.

Paul mentioned later this year Thai Village will offer a Wing Challenge (their wings are currently an off menu item – Curry, Asian or Sesame). While challenge details are still being finalized, it will

Chicken Pad Pak Raum
Chicken Pad Pak Raum

involve eating a certain amount of wings coated in “Way Off The Menu Hot” in a certain amount of time. All winners will get their wings for free, a T-shirt, and their picture memorialized on a Wall Of Fame. The unsuccessful will have to pay for their meal and have their picture placed on a Wall Of Shame.

Stay tuned..…. But in the mean time, enjoy the food at Thai Village and check them out on Facebook.

 

Peter Biadasz, President of Total Publishing And Media, has authored/co-authored 16 books including “Write Your First Book”, now in its 2nd edition. He is also a very active public speaker, writer of hundreds of article, and even a few short stories. His areas of expertise include Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, as well as a degree in Psychology, aiding him to build bridges between the often diverse worlds of social and natural sciences. Besides writing, Peter loves to eat a wide variety of food. Enjoy Peter’s Video Shorts on YouTube and Facebook. Feel free to contact Peter at peter@TotalPublishingAndMedia.com

Kid-friendly Places · Outdoor Places · Weekend Getaways

Glamping in Chickasaw Nat’l Park = Perfect Oklahoma Weekend!

THE CREW
PhotoGrid_1449152809141By Bonita James

If it wasn’t for the National Park Service, we couldn’t make the memories we did during Spring Break, 2016. Huge shout out to the National Park Service for celebrating 100 years! Join in on the fun with #FindYourPark

We had a trip to plan. A big trip.

This trip had to do three things:

1. Be a meeting point for our family.

JAIDA2. Accommodate seven children . Yes, I said seven.

3. Have tons of inexpensive things to do as a family.

We do not have seven kids, but we are aunts to seven incredible children. In lieu of Christmas presents, we promised them a surprise during Spring Break. The trip planning (and saving) was on.

I personally love taking staycations in Oklahoma. As I inched into my 30s, my impromptu trips across the United States became less and less. Darn adulting! During one of my whine­fests to my Grandma about this devastating reality, she offered some great advice. “You’re always in a hurry to get out of Oklahoma. Why don’t you go explore your own state?”

It was a “duh” moment for me. Since then, I’ve explored beautiful Green Country (eventually deciding to move here!), traveled the Talimena Drive, and learned that I prefer “glamping” over camping at beautiful Beaver’s Bend. One of the stipulations for the trip was it needed to be only five hours from Lubbock, TX. Cousin Leslie was traveling with her 9-­year-­old son, and five hours was the limit.

GameBeing the super efficient planner and Okie traveler that I am, I hit up my favorite travel site, TravelOK.com. Bingo! With only a 2.5 hour drive for us and 5 hours for Leslie, we staked our claim on the Chickasaw National Park. After prepping, packing, and major grocery shopping,­­ Lost Lake Lodge became our home away from home. We barely stepped out of our vehicles before the kids took off in different directions. They set off to explore the house, the deck, the private walkway to the water, the canoe, the hammock, and before we could get the cars unloaded, a serious game of table tennis was well under way.

Score. We did good.

We arrived around noon on Friday and spent the day at the cabin. The kids took turns in the canoe. A table tennis tournament would pick up and dissipate off and on. I managed my way into the hammock for a little cuddle time with my oldest nephew. My youngest nephew decided he wanted to take a bath in the jacuzzi tub. As the sun set all around them, the youngest splashed away in the hot tub. Our two oldest bonded over single fishing pole at the pond.

Cabin

Aunt Ashley handled the sleeping quarters with a genius idea. Since our cabin had two living rooms, she tucked the blow-up mattress into the open space of the sectional. Boom. The Kid’s Cove took on a life of it’s own. All the boys claimed their spots as the night settled in. Our only niece got her own room. Leslie had the comforts of a California King all to herself, and we cozied up with a floor to ceiling view of our beloved Oklahoma.

Lost Lake Lodge could not have been more perfect for our crew of seven kids and three adults. Windows stretched across the length of the cabin bringing outside indoors. If I was to have one gripe about the cabin, it would be the hanging cabinets in the kitchen. They blocked the windows and were unnecessary. I kept having to scrunch down to peak out at the kid’s chaos while preparing meals.

Saturday was our day to explore the Chickasaw National Recreation Park and Turner Falls. We packed a picnic and headed out. Being off season, it was only $4 per person to enter. As much as I wanted to bring Augie, our Boston, no dogs are allowed at the park or at our cabin.

Instead of driving my Prius through a spillway, the kids in my car and myself hopped in the back of the truck. I enjoyed one of my favorite past times as we climbed up a steep hill to the parking area.

scavengerI was surprised how high we were. It was incredibly windy during our picnic, but it just added flavor to the trip. I created easy peasy scavenger hunts, and everyone got a small paper bag to put their treasures in while we hiked down. I wasn’t sure how this would go over, but most of the kids and Leslie loved it.

We learned a valuable (and scary) lesson within the first five minutes of exploring. Seven kids can move out of sight quickly. The oldest kids jetted toward the sound of water. Next thing we knew, it was a game of Marco Pollo except they were to come back to us. The first trail we set on was a little too much for our 5 ­year­old. Once we had our crew all together again, we laid down some ground rules.

Safety first.

Oi! When you hear us yell it, you better yell it back and come back.

In groups of two or more, never alone.

Whew! Round two.

Look outWe found a look out overseeing the top of Turner Falls. Here we could see all 77 feet of the falls. Rushes of white flowing gracefully against Mother Nature’s shades of green.

Turner Falls are the largest falls in Oklahoma. Better yet, the falls lead into a natural swimming pool. This part of Oklahoma is breathtaking.

As we hiked down from there we found the historic castle­-like structure. I had learned about this castle from my sister. I am not sure what my expectations were but they were far exceeded.

CastleStory goes, this castle played an important role in telling the story of what this land has to offer. It was built in the 1920’s by Dr. Ellsworth Collings, a professor at Oklahoma University. Here he housed students to study the landscape and wildlife.

We were not the only one’s who had the idea to explore Turner Falls over spring break. There were tons of families and travelers ducking in and out of the rooms and taking photos. I heard more than one language while we were there. The fact that so many people are interested in a part of Oklahoma made this girl swell with Okie pride.

The castle doesn’t rest in one location. It expands from one part of the landscape to another, connected by crumbling stairs and stone. Some rooms still had original art depicting the local wildlife. Others were multi­leveled with steep stairs burying down into the land. There were fire pits built into corners with rusty metal doors to keep the flames in check. Simply put, this place is unique and cool.

Our kids were on a mission, exploring every nook and cranny of the castle. Pretending to be prisoners and kings and who knows what else. The only time phones came out was to take pictures. (Score again!)

The hike down lead us to the bottom of Turner Falls. It was a bit chilly but the sun beaming through the trees kept us warm. Crossing CASTLE2the bridge and overlooking the swimming hole we spotted a cave that went behind the falls. Plans were made to come back in the summer when we could swim and explore behind the falls.

Just past Turner Falls, we took the Crystal Cave Trail. The creek was the trail with water­-worn rocks taking on a smooth and fluid shape. Perfect for walking across, right? So I thought.

Someone had to bite it, and it was me. I took the fall like a champ! With only one wet foot, we kept on.

We were met at the end of the trail by a much smaller fall than it’s brother down the way. This beauty was an oasis in it’s own right. The kids could hike up and stand right in the middle of it. With a short hop across, they could hike right back down to us. This was probably my favorite part of the day.

Ash and I, with our questionable knees and grace, stretched out and rested along the rocks, soaking up the sun. Leslie finished up her scavenger hunt. Our kids were out exploring Oklahoma without a screen in their faces. This beat any purchased item we could have ever gotten them for Christmas.

Win.

What I didn’t anticipate was the hike back up to where we had parked. There are two ways. Back up through the castle or up the steep Firehill we climbed before in the truck. I’m not sure why we chose the road, but we did.

Be prepared for this folks. This road is steep.

We were all grumbling and breathing heavy. There’s nothing like having seven kids moaning and groaning while you’re just trying to not fall out. I felt that hike for days after.

After coming back to the cabin we made an epic meal of grilled chicken and dogs, sweet potato fries and corn on the cob. Happy bellies all around. Ashley took on the role of fire goddess and the last bit of s’mores were enjoyed by all. Except me. I managed this entire trip while on a detox. (Super happy personal win!)

On Sunday, Leslie and her son went through the Arbuckle Wilderness before heading back to Texas. We weren’t able to manage with all of our kiddos but I’m happy little Peyton got to experience a roadblock of Llamas. It’s great fun and I highly suggest it.

The kids played and whined that they wanted to stay. I couldn’t blame them but our trip had to come to an end. The Arbuckle llamma3Mountains, Turner Falls, and the Chickasaw National Park was a great way to spend time together as a family. To give you an idea of costs, each of the adults averaged around $350. This includes groceries and the cabin. It’s important to us to experience our world around us with our kids. And, I’m happy to say, my Grandma’s advice is being passed on. I hope as they get older they keep exploring our incredible state.

P.S. ­ During this trip we didn’t get to go to the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, OK. This will be high on our agenda when we visit again this summer.