A Weekend Downtown: The Best in Tulsa Architecture and Food

The Homes building is one of  the best examples of great Modern architecture in downtown Tulsa.

The Homes building is one of the best examples of great Modern architecture in downtown Tulsa.

This weekend I stepped out to enjoy the rainy weather in downtown Tulsa with my good friends, starting with the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture’s Modern Tulsa tour, which I photographed and wrote about here.  The post showcases some of my very favorite buildings and it’s a tour I’ve been wanting to take for a long time.  I hope to spend some more time at each of the buildings and take more pictures when the weather is more conducive to photography.

Elote Mexican Cafe

Elote Mexican Cafe

After that we stopped at Elote, a great little Mexican restaurant that serves free range meats and vegetarian options.  It also happens to be extremely yummy; and I managed to post about it, too, on Tasty Tulsa.

Now I’m headed back downtown for an evening of music.

Take care.

Currently Playing: Chopin’s “Fantasie” Impromptu

piano-octopusI’ve currently picked up a piano piece that I had started playing last year, Chopin’s “Fantasie” Impromptu.  I don’t have any parts of the song ready to post yet; I’m just getting my fingers back in shape with some Hanon exercises and doing slow practice on the metronome for now.  So here’s a video of one of my favorite pianists playing the song.

Here is Vladimir Horowitz playing Chopin’s “Fantasie” Impromptu:

 

Tiki Love

vintage-hawaiian-postcardAs a fan of tiki culture, one of my favorite places to blog for on this site is the Tiki Room.  I even designed the theme for it, though it’s a bit outdated now and I just don’t have time to update it. However back in the day I created many WordPress Themes, including the tiki one, for other site owners to use, and I even have a few themes on the WordPress site from then.

We had a chilly weekend at home, so I did some needed post-NYE house cleaning while relaxing to my new tiki mix, which I spent the last week putting together (yes, it takes about a week of serious searching for each mix I make!) and I have just added it to the Tiki Room.  There are a few different genres of tiki music, but for this one I focused on exotica lounge tiki music because I find it to be the most relaxing, and it’s actually my favorite kind of tiki/lounge music to listen to.

You can find the Tiki Pleasures mix here.

My 2017 Anthem – Of Montreal’s “It’s Different For Girls”

Of Montreal

Of Montreal

After careful consideration, I have chosen Of Montreal’s “It’s Different for Girls” as my 2017 anthem. The song is from their 2016 album, Innocence Reaches.

If you like sounds like this, then check out my music section of the site, where I post the newest in dream pop, chillwave, indie rock, and much more, as well as some fun throwbacks.

Important Steps to Take When Starting a Site

milky-wayI don’t know how it happened, but a flurry of site builders and bloggers all started creating their blogs and websites around 2002, including me. I actually had many niche sites after a while and between trying to write about all of my passions on various sites, running some keyword-laden sites for monetary purposes, and having to pay for a dedicated server to host them all in the end, it became too overwhelming. I was seriously out of control with close to 100 different sites! There was a time when I would pick up my mail in bins from the post office on a weekly basis because so many CDs were coming in for reviews for my music site that they would not fit into a box! It definitely had its ups and downs and I learned a lot over the years about site building, so I think it’s high time I discussed some of my site building experience. Though let it be known that I am no expert, just an amateur sharing my finds.

If you are starting a new site, I would recommend considering three things: choosing only a few niches that you are passionate about and really have time for, selecting or creating a site design that you are happy with, and creating some base content before focusing too much on building visitors.

Choose niches that you are passionate about.

Here’s a little background information on how I chose my current niches…

So I recently started over, with only three sites with three new beginnings: Uteki, Tasty Tulsa, and White Fox Bath & Body. And it takes all of my willpower not to start new niche sites based on ideas or other hobbies that I have. Before I discuss the beginning of a site, let me explain a bit about why I chose these three topics.

I chose these three because I know that I am consistently passionate about these things, and here’s why… I’m attracted to making an online magazine style site like Uteki because to me, editing and adding to it is like creating a patchwork quilt or a magazine collage. After I had graduated high school, I dated a guy that suggested that I make a magazine collage. He told me I simply needed to cut out magazine pictures that interested me and paste them onto a posterboard in some way that I enjoyed. He pointed out that it was an easy way to be creative, and he was right. That night I stayed up late making one, just having fun setting all of the images together. Adding to this site is always fun for me in the same way because it’s a way to celebrate the different seasons, to add pops of color to the site with the images, to work with various guest authors, to share some of my own projects, and to push myself to keep the front page fresh and interesting. It also gives me a bit of breathing room to explore other hobbies in one place if I want to, and to experiment with different site techniques.

Tasty Tulsa was an easy choice for a site that I wanted to focus on, because I know I’ll always have a passion for good food. This is a site that I started with my sister a few years ago and we had a fun time with it; when she moved away I stopped working on it, but I’m trying to revive it again.

White Fox Bath & Body showcases my bath & body items that I love making, like soap, candles, and perfume. Having a separate site for this was a no-brainer because it is different from these other sites, focusing on physical products rather than content.  And it’s a hobby that I love to do!

Choose a design that you are happy with.

It was also important to me to have site designs that I was comfortable with before putting a lot of time into growing visitors; getting the right design was an essential focal point for my beginner sites. One of my downfalls in previous years was spending way too much time tweaking the designs of my sites. This was a bit baffling to regular readers, who would visit a site that looked different every few months. Doing a site design overhaul is great every now and then, but spend some time choosing a design that you feel happy and comfortable with, so that you can focus on other aspects of the site once you’re settled in.

If you haven’t already discovered the joys of WordPress as a platform, I would highly recommend it, as they have many great free site themes to choose from. It’s also simply one of the best platforms out there.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your starting content.

Few things will turn away a site visitor as much as landing on a site that looks bare. There’s nothing like getting those emails where people ask why there’s so little on your site, which I have gotten, so just start experimenting with different kinds of posts that you find interesting.

In the beginning, a site is like a star, floating amongst a vast galaxy of stars. When you’re first building a site and adding content, at least for most people unless you’re pre-selling it, you write and nobody knows about it – it’s your own private space. This gives you a bit of freedom to experiment with writing styles and different types of posts, and you sometimes forget that someday people may be reading your site. Then you get a trickle of visitors, and if you’re like me, you start to rethink your content, and with that you also naturally focus more on writing useful, quality, inspiring, and ever-changing content in the future. Growing an audience builds these strengths as a blogger by keeping you a bit in check.

So now that I have chosen topics that I enjoy, have designs that I am happy with, and have established some content on these sites, I can think about where to take the sites from this point.

 

 

A Wonderful End to the Holidays

Yes, I consider today to be the end of the holidays.  They were great while they lasted, and I had a very nice last day taking another long nature walk and hanging out with my daughter and her very sweet boyfriend.  (Though I refrain from posting too many family pictures for the sake of privacy.)

Here are some pictures from the walk… day two, still motivated 🙂

Ray Harrell Nature Park

Ray Harrell Nature Park

Ray Harrell Nature Park

Ray Harrell Nature Park

Ray Harrell Nature Park

Ray Harrell Nature Park

Motivation!

Motivation!

 

New Year Highlights

Highlight of New Year’s Eve: hosting a super fun party for the kids.

Highlight of New Year’s Day: starting the morning with a nature walk.

Ray Harrell Nature Park

Ray Harrell Nature Park

And completing all of my hopes for day one.

I also started my perfume product line today and added a new Black Raspberry Vanilla perfume to my shop!

Farewell 2016, Welcome 2017!

2016 was a year of lots of love…

2016-love

…and adventures.

2016-adventures

Clockwise from upper left: downtown Portland, St. Helen’s Oregon, our smoky “fireworks,” Myriad Botanical Gardens, the Price Tower in Bartlesville, the San Antonio River Walk, a hibiscus flower in my yard, the Frank Wallace designed Visitor Center at ORU, and the San Antonio market in the center.

Now it is time to refresh and renew, and even if I don’t accomplish all of my goals, I always feel invigorated just basking in the glow of a time set aside for renewal.

This year is going to be the year of re-shaping things for me.  Last year, I started some new things, like my Etsy shop and the music section here, both of which have turned out to be very fun and exciting projects for me. Actually, finding a passion for them was one of the best things that happened to me last year; I have so many hobbies that sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I want to focus on and I stretch myself so thin that I accomplish very little, but making scented goodies and posting about music are always enjoyable for me.  I also already had some projects in the works before last year that I would like to reshape some more this year, and maybe, in the case of my novel, complete.

There are other types of things that I hope to reshape more effectively this year, including my body!  (I know it’s so cliche, but I have to refresh my fitness routine now or it will drive me crazy).  My fitness plan for 2017 is three-fold:

  • maintain a 1200 calorie a day diet, including exercise
  • walk 10,000 steps a day, weather and allergies permitting
  • drink 8 glasses of water a day

This allows for a bit of leeway for days when I’m not feeling well, but also offers the possibility of maintaining the 1200 calories a day, even if I don’t get to exercise every day.  Allergies have tripped up my fitness plans so many times that I know I need a backup plan this year.  The three-fold plan combines healthier eating with a decent amount of movement and a check to make sure I’m continually cleansing myself with water and that I am drinking more water than caffeine.

Honestly, my ultimate goal is to fit into my pineapple dress.  Last year I had bought a beautiful pineapple dress that I thought would fit so I didn’t try it on, but alas, when I brought it home from the store, it did not fit  🙁  This summer my goal is the pineapple dress.

Goals

Goals

Another major goal of mine is to swim more this year.  I don’t have easy access to a pool but I love to swim, so I need to check out the Boy’s Club or think of backyard possibilities.

Also, I need to set a schedule for myself, so that I can do the following daily (including the previously mentioned fitness goals):

  • enjoy more home time by cooking a wider variety of foods at home – fortunately my daughter and I both love Asian food, so I definitely want to add more to my menu
  • maintain a 1200 calorie a day diet, including exercise
  • walk 10,000 steps, weather and allergies permitting
  • drink 8 glasses of water
  • maintain a doable budget
  • add something unique-to-me here daily, whether it’s a blog post, a piece of random inspiration, new and/or interesting music posts, a soapmaking project, or something else

I keep a physical journal detailing my Uteki and White Fox Bath & Body ideas and plans; I had started doing this earlier this year and seemed to be more productive in those areas when I kept a handwritten journal.  The details will come more naturally from that than if I tried to plan them all here.

The rest of the goals can be maintained daily through apps, which I have moved to the front page of my phone to help remind me: Pacer for walking, MyPlate for calorie and water counting, and Mint for budgeting. I have found all of these apps to be very helpful to me in these areas.

So starting tomorrow, from my waking hours until I sleep, my hope is to keep these daily practices.

 

 

That Week When You’re Still Basking in the Glow of the Holidays and Prepping for New Year Resolutions

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

Yes, it’s that time again, and even though I failed miserably at keeping last year’s resolutions, especially some of the goals pertaining to this site and writing regularly, I’m excited to renew again and have some new goals for the start of the new year.

Hey, I did take a boat ride in 2016, and that’s important.

But before I move on to 2017, I want to bask in the glow of some of the fun times I had with my daughter over the holidays:

Making cookies:

 

Christmastime ⛄️ #cookiedecorating #christmastime #gingerbreadman

A photo posted by Jennifer Lea (@kokomilc) on

 

Trying our hand at making those plastic bead ornaments that are all over Pinterest #thiswasntaveryrealisticendeavor

 

Round 2 ☃️⭐️️ #meltybeads #christmascrafts #christmastime

A photo posted by Jennifer Lea (@kokomilc) on

Ornaments ☃️⭐️️ #meltybeads #christmastime #christmascrafts

A photo posted by Jennifer Lea (@kokomilc) on

 

Chilling with Coco

 

Enjoying a cherry 🍒 wheat 🌾 in my new awesome koozie with Coco 😊 @debbiewirt #christmastime

A photo posted by Jennifer Lea (@kokomilc) on

 

Watching the other fur babies have even more fun with their toys than we did #thisiswhyfurbabiesneedgifts

 

Someone loves her toys 🐶💕 #christmastime #puppies

A photo posted by Jennifer Lea (@kokomilc) on

 

Love of my life and our newest fur baby

 

Christmastime 🐶💕🎄#christmastime #puppies #christmas

A photo posted by Jennifer Lea (@kokomilc) on

 

Our oldest fur baby playing with her Pepa Pig

 

Happy Christmas 🎄 #christmastime #doggielove

A photo posted by Jennifer Lea (@kokomilc) on

 

And now that things have settled down a bit, my immediate goal is finishing my tri-colored crocheted blanket

 

 

Also, I finally got a Spotify account and posted my Songs of 2016 playlist there:

 

 

I also made a winter 2016 playlist just for fun!

 

 

I have a feeling I’m going to be addicted to this Spotify playlist thing.

Up next, 2017 ideas…

Enjoying Solitude and How I Avoid Boredom

Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Tarkovsky

Few things bother me as much as the thought that I’m wasting time or losing interest, which is probably why I thought to write this post during my fall break from work, because I have all of this time and want to make the most of it.  I’ve been spending time with my daughter and friends, have enjoyed therapeutically cleaning the house, making things, enjoying the campfire at night, and helping out with the site, yet I’ve also enjoyed an outing downtown and some relaxing entertainment time, spending a few hours watching movies and playing video games.

Some of that time I spent in solitude, and that time was my sacred peace and wholeness time, and every bit as important to me as my togetherness times.  I worry about kids who don’t have much outdoor time, get bored easily, and feel like they shouldn’t enjoy solitude.  I feel like that’s a dangerous thing, and so did the great film-maker, and one of my heroes, Andrei Tarkovsky.

Tarkovsky once described solitude in this way:


 

When I start to feel bored, here are things that help get me out of it:

  • Play music.  I like to find a song that reflects my mood and practice it until it comes close to how I feel.  It is very satisfying to play even a few lines of music to my liking.
  • Create something physical.  Few things are as satisfying as creating something that you can actually put your hands on or physically enjoy in some way.  This could be cooking a great meal, writing a poem or story and putting in on paper, recording music and burning it to a CD, painting a picture, or making a piece of furniture. For me, currently my favorite craft is making bath & body items like soap and candles.
  • Give.  This is an obvious but sometimes forgotten.  Find out what charity you’re passionate about and give to that, find a soup kitchen that you can donate time to, or find a church or other organization that regularly contributes to society.
  • Reflect.  Keep a journal or blog to reflect on your thoughts, I have this and a journal by my bedside.
  • Surround yourself with positive energy.  From being near people who emit positive energy to spending time with your pets to something as simple as burning a candle that you love at home or watching a beautiful movie, find a way to surround yourself with positivism.
  • There is always nature.  Nature is last but not least for me.  My four favorite ways to enjoy nature are to walk my dog around the neighborhood and enjoy all of the action on the sidewalks and to watch how the sun shines through the trees; to garden, especially when I successfully plant food that I can enjoy; to sit under the stars by a fire in my fire-pit out back; and to lay on our trampoline during the day or night with eyes open or closed so that I can listen to all of the birds chirping, leaves rustling, and children playing.

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