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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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?

 

Tulsa’s 5 Best Landmarks

If you’re visiting the Tulsa area, or if you live in Tulsa but have guests in town, these are the places you need to go. These spots are iconically Tulsa — the must-see places for the Tulsa visitor. So bust out your cameras or Instagram, and get ready to take cheesy pictures of yourself at these spots.

1. I’ll start with a1024px-Praying_Hands_at_the_main_entrance_to_the_campus_of_Oral_Roberts_University double-whammy of prayer, a spot in south Tulsa constantly frequented by tourists from all over the world: Oral Roberts University, an educational institution known worldwide for its unique architecture and two particularly intriguing landmarks.

1a. The Praying Hands.
The 60 foot, 30 ton bronze sculpture by sculptor Leonard McMurray (cast in Juárez, Mexico in 1980), is supposedly the second largest bronze statue in the world — at least that’s what I was told when I was in school there. The statue is located on S. Lewis avenue at 77th st. It was originally situated in front of the City of Faith (now CityPlex Towers), but it was moved to the University entrance on Lewis in 1991.

When I was an ORU student, rumor had it that you could actually crawl inside the Praying Hands. I’m not really sure if this is true or not, but I have witnessed many a student climb on top of the Praying Hands. (not that I’m encouraging that kind of rabble-rousing — please don’t take my degree away, ORU).


Prayer_Tower1b. The Prayer Tower.
Yes, a second landmark dedicated to prayer in Tulsa…imagine that! Truly, though, I love the Prayer Tower. It is a spiritual icon recognized worldwide. Situated at the center of campus, it includes a gathering room for corporate prayer and an observation room that offers great views of the campus. The flame located at the top of the Prayer Tower is known as the “Eternal Flame” because it supposedly never extinguishes.

The tower stands 200 feet tall. An aerial view of the Prayer Tower reveals the Star of David. From the ground a view of the observation deck represents the Crown of Thorns with red tips, denoting the blood of salvation.

gdriller2. The Golden Driller
Let’s move past ORU and on to the Tulsa State Fairgrounds. An icon of the industry that built Tulsa, oil, the Golden Driller stands 76 feet tall on 21st st. between Yale and Harvard.

The original Tulsa Driller was built in the ’50s by an oilfield supply company, which set him up in 1953 for a trade show at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds. That driller was so popular that the company erected a second temporary statue six years later.

A third and final giant, tallest of all at 76 feet, took up residence at the Fairgrounds in 1966. Built of steel and concrete, he weighs nearly 22 tons and is expected to survive 200 mph tornadoes. The plaque at his base dedicates him “to the men of the petroleum industry who by their vision and daring have created from God’s abundance a better life for mankind.”

IMG_2238 (1)3. The Blue Whale
OK, I know, I know, the Blue Whale is not technically in Tulsa…but it’s just on the outskirts in Catoosa. The Blue Whale, located on historic Route 66, has been an icon of the Tulsa area since 1972.

It was built by Hugh Davis, who wanted to erect something fun for his wife on the pond on his family’s property. The result was a 20-foot tall, 80-foot long structure, welded by Davis’s friend, Harold Thomas. In the ’70s, the Blue Whale quickly became a popular place for travelers to stop for fishing and swimming.

Sadly, the Blue Whale was closed in 1988 due to Davis’s crippling arthritis. Davis passed away in 1990, but thankfully, the Catoosa Chamber of Commerce refurbished and reopened the landmark in 1997. Still a popular spot for swimming and picnicking, the Blue Whale is a must-see spot just minutes away from Tulsa.

IMG_2035-e1417484768978-225x3004. The Center of the Universe
In case you’ve ever wondered where on earth the Center of the Universe might be…well, it’s right here, in Tulsa! Not geographically, of course, but acoustically…

Located in downtown Tulsa, the Center of the Universe is easy to find. A brick path leads to the pedestrian bridge that goes over the railroad tracks, accessible from the corner of W. Archer St. and N. Boston Ave. It is located directly northwest of the old Union Train Depot (now the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame) at 111 East 1st Street.

The actual Center of the Universe isn’t much. It’s actually just a concrete circle, about three inches in diameter. When you find it, stand in its center, and start talking. You’ll be amazed that your voice will echo back to you – a true acoustic miracle!IMG_2037

Several feet southwest of the Center of the Universe stands the “Artificial Cloud,” pictured above. Native American artist Robert Haozous erected the 72 foot sculpture for the 1991 Mayfest.

While you’re at the Center of the Universe, be sure to check out its neighbor, the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, as well as the many fantastic art galleries in the Brady Arts District, located just north of the landmark.

IMG_2353-e1417484708750-225x3005. Greenwood District
Greenwood is an example of how something good can arise even out of something awful. Greenwood, located at Greenwood and Archer St., is a part of Tulsa’s history that people don’t talk about a lot when you’re being raised here — trust me. I had no idea what had happened at Greenwood until I was a college student.

During the early 1900’s, Greenwood was one of the wealthiest African American communities in the Unites States, filled with successful shops, hotels, and more. Sadly, many of the businesses were destroyed during the riots, but were rebuilt to some degree following the riots. During the 1960’s, the area disintegrated due to desegregation. However, it is now experiencing somewhat of a revival thanks in part to ONEOK Field being built just on its outskirts, as well as several high rise apartments being built nearby.

It’s definitely worth taking a stroll through Greenwood and noticing the plaques on the pavement that acknowledge the former businesses that once existed. BeIMG_2347-e1417484742939-225x300 sure to head down to the Greenwood Cultural Center to take in the Black Wall Street Memorial. While you’re in Greenwood, you can enjoy some delicious food at Abears or Fat Guys Burger Bar. Thanks to attention from the African American community, Greenwood is once again a thriving part of the Tulsa scene.

Which Tulsa landmarks are your favorites? Let us know your favorite spots that are iconically Tulsa!

Guthrie Green, How I Love Thee!

Guthrie Green, an urban park and entertainment space in the heart of Tulsa’s Brady Arts District, has greatly improved Tulsa’s downtown scene over the last couple years. Here are just a few of the reasons why I love the Green!

One of my favorite venues that has boosted Tulsa’s downtown scene over the last couple years is Guthrie Green. I have already made so many fabulous memories at Guthrie Green. Guthrie Green, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

5. Free outdoor movies

During the warmer months, Guthrie Green shows free movies on the lawn. Who doesn’t love a warm summer evening, a cooler full of your favorite libations, a cozy blanket, and snuggling up with your honey to a movie under the stars? Last summer, my company was a bunch of gal pals (no, there was no cuddling), and the movie was perhaps the strangest of the summer films (“The Swimmer,” 1968). No matter the strangeness of the movie, we had a great time offering colorful commentary throughout the flick and people watching. Plus, it was free, so who’s complaining?

4. Sunday afternoon markets.

Every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Guthrie Green comes alive with vendors selling everything from vegetables to jewelry to vintage clothing. While you’re shopping, you can enjoy live tunes performed on the outdoor amphitheater. And it never fails that there are several food trucks parked around the Green, so be sure to gobble down some eats while you’re shopping.

3. Free exercise classes.

This day in age, the words “free exercise classes” are hard to come by. That’s why I think it’s absolutely stupendous that Guthrie Green has FREE classes, including:

Zumba in the Park — Sundays at 9:30 a.m.

Tai Chi — Mondays at 5:30 p.m.

Boot Camp — Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m.

Partner Power — Wednesdays at 6:00 a.m.

Lulelemon Community Yoga — Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m.

Family Fitness — Saturdays at 8:00 a.m.

Keep up with all the fitness classes at Guthrie Green at their Events Calendar.

2. Special Theatrical Events

Last summer, my husband and I had the pleasure of seeing a free live performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Guthrie Green. Folks brought lawn chairs and blankets, picnic baskets and coolers, and gathered around the outdoor amphitheater for a truly unique theatrical experience. I’m sure many local theater and dance companies will be hitting the Guthrie Green stage this summer, so keep your eye on their calendar!


Guthrie Green1. Food Truck Wednesdays

Hump Day has become Guthrie Green’s shining moment each week, in my opinion. During the warmer months, each Wednesday during lunch time means that about a dozen food trucks (and growing) surround the Green with their tasty offerings. Food Truck Wednesdays are truly remarkable. People from all walks of life — business people, moms with a van full of kids, random people who apparently don’t have day jobs — come out to the Green to enjoy a chill mid-day break, and some delicious eats. Oh, and there is usually some a musical artist or two playing, setting a nice ambiance to your chomping.

foodtruckOn my most recent Food Truck Wednesday visit, I visited Mr. Nice Guys’ food truck and tried the Jerk Chicken Mac and Cheese. Whoever thought to combine mac and cheese with meat and a bunch of other delicious things was a real Einstein. This amazing dish was packed full of cilantro, roasted corn, black bean pico de gallo, sweet chipotle mayo, and of course, chicken and mac and cheese. For only $8, it was an extremely filling and tasty lunch.

Those are just a few of the many reasons I love Guthrie Green. How about you — why do you love the Green? 

Linnaeus Teaching Gardens Inspire Passion for Nature

The Linnaeus Teaching Gardens in Tulsa are completely free, and a great way to explore nature and relax!

This weekend, the Mr. and I were searching for a quiet spot to talk and unwind. Often, we head to the lovely Woodward Park for relaxing walks. On this particular visit, we were delighted that the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens were open for our perusal. Located behind the rose gardens at 2435 S. Peoria Ave., the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens are a gift to Northeastern Oklahoma — literally.

The gardens opened in 2006 as a result of donor contributions, the hard work of volunteers, and the donations of plants and landscaping features from industry sponsors. Over the last six years, the gardens have operated as a free, teaching center for the public. Much of the vision behind the gardens sprung from Tulsa Garden Center horticulturist, Barry Fugatt, who also writes the garden column for The Tulsa World.

The gardens were named in honor of Carl Linnaeus, Swedish naturalist and the father of botany. Tulsa sculptor Rosalind Cook created a six-foot tall bronze statue of Linnaeus, which stands in the entrance of the gardens.

The gardens are filled with educational exhibits, and volunteers are happy to help visitors learn. Parts of the garden actually demonstrate various techniques for growing vegetables, annuals, perennials and more. The gardens also host a compost/recycling station where visitors can learn environmentally friendly methods for dealing with garden waste.

Children are welcomed in the gardens, and a free story time is held every Thursday at 10 a.m.

I’m neither a gardener nor a child, but I love this place. It’s an incredibly relaxing place to go for a walk, write in your journal, or read a book. Devon and I enjoyed a earth-shattering, thought-provoking conversation on the veranda overlooking the Water Garden and imagined for about 30 minutes that we owned the whole place. There’s nothing wrong with letting your imagination run wild while you’re being inspired by nature.

If you’re the flower-tending type, you will flourish here (pun intended!). But even if your thumb is far from being green…like mine…you’ll still enjoy walking around, enjoying the trickling brooks and splashing fountains, colorful fish and tranquil lily pads, and the aroma of roses and the like.

There were a few plants that really surprised me. In the “Heirloom Veggie Garden,” we saw gourds that were bigger than my head. I’m serious. And I have a pretty big head. They looked like maybe they were aspiring to be watermelons but couldn’t really get the oval shape thing down. A gardener informed us that these are not just any old gourds, but they are African gourds. See, I learned something! Fun!

The Linnaeus Teaching Gardens are almost entirely run by volunteers. Volunteers go through a 12-week, 50 hour training program that teaches them how to maintain the gardens and share their skills and knowledge with the public. Pretty impressive! And what a beautiful place to invest your time! There are literally hundreds of volunteers who tend to the weekly upkeep of the garden and teach the public about the plants, so be sure to tap them for some horticultural wisdom.

If you haven’t visited the Linnaeus Teaching Gardens yet, you are missing out. It’s a completely free way to explore nature and relax! The gardens are open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you’ve visited the gardens, what is your favorite area?