Oct 16, 2010

Pumpkin Picking

As daylight grows shorter and the air turns crisp it is time for one of my favorite fall activities -- pumpkin patches! I may be a city girl, but there is something magical about tromping around a farm while hunting for the perfect pumpkin and picking it straight off the vine.

Even though I love Halloween, and autumn in general, I'm not much for scary movies, haunted forests or any of the frightening things that go with it, thus the pumpkin patch is just my speed. We've taken Grayson to TG Farms near Norman over the last several years and it's fun to look back at the pictures of how he's grown.

Grayson's first TG Farms visit at five weeks old

Checking out the strange gourd textures during our 2009 visit

Picking out his own pumpkins this weekend

Grayson isn't the only thing that has grown. Every year there seems to be something new at TG Farms. From hayrides to a petting zoo to a hay bale maze perfect for kiddos Gray's size, we always stay busy and have fun on the farm. I also love the idea of Grayson growing up knowing that pumpkins come from a vine, not from a bin at the grocery store.

Here are a few pics from this year's visit.

The many pumpkin varieties available at the entrance of the farm.

 The entrance to the corn maze which was a little more intimidating than the smaller hay maze we attempted.

Grayson would have gone up and down the hay bales and slide all day if we let him.

The pumpkin patch


Oct 13, 2010

The Plaza District

OKC's Plaza District
When we set out to create this blog we wanted to introduce you to places we know and love in our local neighborhoods, while also showing you new things we discover in our travels across the state. One place that immediately comes to mind for me when thinking about local personality is the Plaza District.

Located on NW 16th between Classen and Penn Ave. in Oklahoma City, this small commercial district sits right in the middle of a neighborhood brimming with creative energy. From art galleries to restaurants to retail shops featuring wares made by talented Oklahomans, the Plaza District has come a long way from its days of abandoned storefronts.

Last weekend the Plaza District hosted its annual festival and I was reminded once again how much I love this colorful part of OKC. The vibe of this community is evidence of the many artists that are staying in and moving to Oklahoma. Ten years ago this wasn't the case for most creative types, but I'm thrilled that this is changing and continues to evolve into a vibrant and thriving art scene.

I don't just mean galleries and music (although those things are good), but everything from cutting edge hair dressers to tattoo artist to t-shirt designers are contributing to Oklahoma's creative culture. The best part is these shop owners are so friendly and welcoming, it's easy to feel a part of the community.

My husband and I have enjoyed many art galleries and art openings, but it's always more meaningful and memorable when we get to meet the artist in person. This is a common occurrence at the Plaza District which makes me understand and appreciate their work on a deeper level.

I also love to support local designers whenever possible and the retailers along the Plaza District make it easy to find jewelry, apparel, housewares, even baby stuff all made by hand or by local Okies.
The Plaza District is perfect for cruisin'

Here's another great way to cruise this family-friendly strip
A caterer + event planner + photographer = 1708, a creative co-op

Collected Thread is always one of my weak spots, as is DNA Galleries

Check out the live mural painting going on during the festival. Very cool!

Looks like I'm not the only one that's impressed!
Didn't make it to the festival? Don't worry, just mark your calendar for LIVE on the Plaza which happens every second Friday of the month and features live music, film screenings, performing arts and more.
-- Lindsay

Oct 11, 2010

The Toy and Action Figure Museum

Lacey and I recently took a trip to the Toy and Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley. This is a place that strikes a strong emotional chord with me for reasons that hearken way back to another time and place.

I spent my grade school days growing up in central Florida (my family relocated to Oklahoma in '93 when I was in the 5th grade). At the time my parents were very young, and very poor, a state of being that was further compounded by having two kids and my dad being a full time college student. To make ends meet, my parents would frequent garage sales looking for clothes, kitchen gear, furniture, and anything else you could think of to survive on a meager budget.

It didn't take long for the both of them to realize that people were practically giving away things that were actually worth tons of money - or at least tons of money for two young struggling parents. Pretty soon they were grabbing the local "Penny Saver" news paper every week, charting garage sales by location with maps and time tables (keep in mind this is well before the days of the internet). They'd wake me and my brother up at 5:00 AM and off we'd go for hours and hours hitting every garage sale listed in the paper until the the back seat was full of antiques that could be resold at the local flea market for an impressive mark up (once again, this was in the days that existed before Ebay).

The benefit for my brother and I was that we got to take home tons of comic books and toys, most of which were strangely obscure and random (as is the case with things bought second hand in that manner). Likewise the back seat of the car was always full of collectors guides that my parents could use to cross reference the value of whatever discarded junk people had sitting in their yards. Aaron and I practicly memorized those books, skimming repeatedly over the pictures of rare forgotten Star Wars toys and Spider-Man merchandise produced well before we were even born.

I spent pretty much the entirety of my childhood in a house stacked to the ceiling with World War II paraphernalia, old back issues of Playboy, and other things a little boy might find interesting, but I was solely obsessed with Marvel comic books and any of the infinite merchandising that went along with them.

The garage sale era of my life ended around the time my dad got a degree, and my comic book obsession died out around high school, but to this day I can't look at anything "collectible" without being completely transported back to that very special time in my life.

Which brings us back to the Toy and Action Figure Museum.

The Toy and Action Figure Museum was opened in 2005 by toy designer Kevin Stark. Its since become a nationally recognized museum attracting thousands of visitors each year who stop in to take a peek at the massive toy collection. Inside you'll find plenty of memorable classics from years past, as well as a few unexpected action figure obscurities.

"Uh oh, he's been using brand xxxxxxxxx..."

There are a few themed sections of the museum, but the Batman room is the one I can most relate to. My garage sale days took place smack dab in the middle of the merchandising blitz of the first two 90's Batman movies. Walking into this room literally puts me face to face with an astonishing amount of stuff that was in my room growing up as a kid.

While the Toy and Action Figure museum is one of the biggest attractions in Pauls Valley, it certainly isn't the only one...

Ballard's Drive In is an old timey drive in restaurant that makes the best cherry limeades I've ever tasted. While drive ins with a nostalgic feel are a dime a dozen, Ballard's stands ahead of the crowd by being truly authentic. Built in the fifties, and most likely unchanged since, this place is unavoidably one of the coolest pieces of Americana tucked away in our great state.

And while the ambiance is enough to get me in the door, the food and drinks are honestly better than any fast food I can think of. The coolest part is that Mr. Ballard still takes your order and helps cook the food.

Ballard's is the jam!!!

Pauls Valley definitely wins out as my nostalgia headquarters. I can spend a day in the museum reliving my actual childhood, and then stop over to Ballard's to live out nostalgia that I wasn't yet born for.


Oct 5, 2010

Oklahoma Aquarium

Not the Oklahoma Aquarium, but an Oklahoma Aquarium

As I slog closer and closer to 30, it seems as if moments of inspiration come less frequently than they used to as a naive young whippersnapper. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to fashion my jadedness into some badge of honor, nor am I trying to claim any old man wisdom beyond my years - it just happens to be an inescapable, and unfortunate, part of getting older.

So when something does make an impact on me, no matter how trivial, I try to really embrace the moment.

Which is why I now own an aquarium.

You see, Lacey and I stopped by the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks a few months ago (pre-OK Dispatch) on a whim. What was meant to simply kill an afternoon, turned into something a little more lasting, as we found ourselves truly affected by the beauty and mystery of what was inside. Within days we had our own aquarium (pictured above), and we've had nothing but fun ever since learning how to keep a mini-eco system alive and healthy.

So with a little aquarium experience under our belt, we decided it was time to head back to the very institution that had inspired our newest of hobbies.

What I love about the Aquarium is how immediately you are put face to face with creatures that, up until relatively modern times, have gone completely undiscovered by mankind. I can't help but feel a slight bit of Lovecraftian fear peering into the tanks of plants and animals that exist in the most seemingly alien of conditions.

I am continually blown away by how each tank is a self contained living work of art. The compositions of color, movement and light are almost enough to overshadow the unique little critters that reside inside of them. Of course a lot of what you see is the natural product of functionality - keeping these self contained habitats alive and well calls for certain circumstances of plants, earth, and lighting to come together in a way that is completely memorizing.

Look close - That's a fish, not a rock! Scary.

I know most people dig the sharks and stingrays, but I am way more into the the aquatic plants and immobile animals like anemones. There's just something so foreign about them in comparison to my typical mammalian existence that I can't help but be fascinated by.

Of course the most amazing of all these types of creatures is the jellyfish.

It’s easy for me and Lacey to sit and stare at the hypnotic living swirl of the jellyfish's movements for uncomfortably long periods of time. Pretty impressive for a non-sentient psychedelic blob of goo.

The octopus tank is incredible, and yet again, terrifying in an existential sense. Seeing this guy slither around his tank was probably the most impressive thing we saw on our trip - which is saying a lot considering how incredible just about every display is!

The aquarium has an entire section dedicated to aquatic life native to Oklahoma. It's pretty amazing to see first hand the kind of unexpected wildlife present right here in our back yard. Compositionally speaking, these are the coolest tanks in the whole facility. There's something about the dark lighting and swampy vegetation that (like usual) appeals to my metal-head aesthetic.

I know I was dogging on sharks a little earlier, but honestly you HAVE to experience the shark tunnel. The water tunnel enclosure would be cool enough without anything floating around in it, but add some enormous under water predators, and you have a recipe for blown minds!