As I drive out of Oklahoma City this morning on my way to the next chapter awaiting me in Pennsylvania, there really seems no more fitting post than a tribute to the city I’ve come to love beyond measure. Seamus Payne of The Coolist visited recently and put together this documentary – City Rising // Oklahoma City – that captures the city I know and have watched grow for the past decade. Our city is everything here and much, much more. So goodbye for now Oklahoma, you’ll always have a piece of my heart.
There was a time, not long ago, when cities like Austin and Portland didn’t exist as we see them today. Before these towns became great American cities, they were communities on the rise just waiting for their stories to be told. There are more like them, and one stands out. For every covered wagon or cowboy hat in Oklahoma City, there’s a tech startup and cultural story waiting to be discovered. I traveled to OKC to witness these stories firsthand. I trained with Olympic athletes, spoke to entrepreneurs and craftspeople about the businesses of tomorrow and even stood on the Chesapeake Arena’s center circle where NBA star Kevin Durant goes to work. I left intrigued and encouraged, having witnessed a city on the rise that is just waiting to be discovered. OKC will surprise you. (It surprised me.) It’s a rising beacon of tech, culture and sport in the center of the Great Plains. Join me as I experience Oklahoma City firsthand.
Welcome to the Oklahoma City stop on Kohl’s #DestinationSummer virtual road trip across the USA! As someone who works long hours and has a difficult time stepping away from her inbox, I love the idea of exploring the reaches of your own town and taking full advantage of what’s right at your fingertips! While I love traveling there’s something to be said for sticking to a budget and ending the day in your own bed. Ahhh on all counts.
Oklahoma summers get hot, and they get hot fast. I’m most definitely an indoor girl at heart, so my warm weather excursions happen either early or late in the day. Avoiding triple digits is key to my summer survival! I love taking my dogs Piper and Bebe for walks, and one of our favorite places to stroll in the morning is along the paths around Lake Hefner. The lake is a fast five minutes from my house and boasts bike paths, trails, and plenty of space for kite flying. Even on the rare dreary day it’s still booming.
I like to grab a big tote and stuff it with a few toys, water for both of us, and maaaybe some snacks (for me). The dogs are generally way too busy smelling everything and eyeing up other pups to pay much attention to the toys, but it makes me feel like an overachieving dog mom so I do it anyway. (Anything for bonus points!)
Low-key outdoor evenings spent with friends are one of my favorite things about summer life, add some delicious small bites and I’m on cloud nine! It’s the perfect time to throw on a sundress and pull together a fast picnic with your favorite people. A tablecloth stands in for a picnic blanket, melamine cups and plates make great sense for the outdoors, now just add in a few throw pillows for comfortable lounging and you’ve created something special.
Starting your picnic at sunset is a stroke of genius, if I say so myself. Everyone is much more relaxed and the slow and quiet slide of the sun below the horizon lends the most beautiful mood lighting that money could never buy.
I like keeping the food small and the drinks simple. Platters are great to pile with fresh fruits and vegetables to nibble as you chat away the night. Check back in tomorrow because I’m going to share some of the small, simple food we pulled together for this particular picnic with my friend Ali!
(We thought Bebe and Wally would go for the honey-drizzled plate, but they couldn’t get enough of the leftover butter!)
Photography: Caroline Cohenour
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Kohl’s, however all words and opinions are my own as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush going!
Heeeyyy, Oklahoma City! Saturday, October 26th I’ll be speaking at Confluence, a conference celebrating OKC’s bloggers and digital influencers. Because you know what? We’ve got a lot of them. Confluence was created by David Christopher (an Oklahoman by way of Britain, funnily enough) as a way to bring us all together to meet, mingle, and learn from one another. Such a simple yet brilliant premise that I can’t wait to be a part of. I’ll be talking about growing your online community, but you can check out the whole Confluence lineup of speakers right here. If you’re in the OKC area and want to attend you can register here, use the code earlybird when doing so before October 12th for $10 off. Can’t wait to see you all at the end of the month.
POPS is on Route 66 just off of I-35, and you’ll know you’re there when you spot this gigantic 66′ tall pop bottle and straw sculpture. When the sun sets its LED lights kick on and the ensuing light show is something to behold.
The sculpture is a hint at what lies inside, and the lined glass walls of POPS is the big reveal – over 600 varieties of pop! Over 1,000 bottles line the shelves on two of the building’s four walls.
POPS also has a great 50s style diner menu, including a Shake Shop that features ten hand-dipped flavors and endless float options.
The walls of POPS are cantilevered, and several of the dining tables sit directly under them giving a great overhead view. (If you look closely you can see the glue that holds the display bottles in place and keeping them safe from grabby hands!)
The entire site of POPS is really something to experience. So if you ever find yourself nearby take the time to stop in.
660 W. Highway 66 | Arcadia, OK | 73007
To wrap up this first edition of Oklahoma City Week we’re going out with an artist instead of a shop. Meet Jason Pawley, the brilliant mind behind these neoned, patterned, exciting works of art that I can’t stare at long enough. ( If you’re the observant type you probably noticed his handiwork on the back wall of DNA Galleries yesterday.) I like Jason’s patterns on their own, but am completely blown away by the pieces that include subjects tattooed with those same lines and angles. And I’ve just convinced us all that he would design great tattoos as well, right?
PHOTO: DNA Galleries
DNA Galleries is a small contemporary art gallery and artist-made retail space that is a key part of the burgeoning art scene here in OKC. They showcase artists who like to work in non-traditional styles, host artist openings the second Friday of every month, and have several works for sale under $50 for collectors who are just starting out. Also a whopping 95% of their goods are locally made! DNA recently moved into a new shop that’s nearly double the size of their old location and are making great use of the space, I’ll be sharing more on that killer wall mural later this week!
1709 NW 16th OKC, OK 73106
Eat more pie! I think that’s a pretty good mantra to live life by, and so does Pie Junkie. This small shop is run by two moms with a passion for classic baking with a modern twist, who both grew up by their grandmas’ sides in the kitchen. Pie Junkie offers a mean menu full of both sweet and savory crust-encased goodies, along with the occasional spur of the moment addition. (So far) I’ve tried their southwestern quiche and coconut cream pie, both of which made me close my eyes and emit mmmm sounds of delight. I’m already deciding what to order next!
1711 NW 16th Street OKC, OK 73106
The second stop for Oklahoma City Week is Olive & Co, a shop full of 20+ premium olive oils and 16+ balsamic vinegars. One of my favorite appetizers in the world is a simple dish of olive oil with a (sizable) dollop of balsamic and all the crusty bread I can get my hands on, so Olive & Co is a veritable mecca for me. The moment you walk in you’re encouraged to try as many of both as you’d like, little plastic cups and bread are located on the tables. Each cistern has a description of its contents similar to that of a wine which is vastly helpful, and oils and vinegars are available in four sizes that they decant directly from the cisterns you see here . Turns out the vinegars were so delicious I didn’t even need the bread and just tasted from the cup after the first! Both the traditional balsamics and white balsamics were so layered in flavor and depth that they were seriously life changing to the palette. I picked up bottles of strawberry balsamic and grapefruit white balsamic and have a little something up my sleeve to share with you all later today – stay tuned!
7602 North May Avenue Oklahoma City, OK 73116
This past Tuesday I had a lovely lunch with a friend, and then spent the rest of the afternoon making my way through some local shops in OKC. It’s something I don’t do nearly enough, especially now when the city seems to be experiencing a notable growth spurt. Then and there I decided to dedicate the first post of each day this week to some of my favorite Oklahoma City locales. This is just a drop in the bucket and I’m planning on sharing more down the road, so stay tuned and join me for our first Oklahoma City Week!
First up is Just OK, an offshoot concept of next door neighbor Blue 7. Just OK gathers and purveys the best of the best products and art made right here in Oklahoma. We Oklahomans have a lot of pride in our state and Just OK does an amazing job of sharing that with everyone who comes in their door. Their tagline says it all, Oklahoma Goods for the Good of Oklahoma.
7518 N. May, Suite C Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73116
Today I’m thrilled to announce a collaboration between Design Crush and Anthropologie to help raise money for the rebuilding of Plaza Towers and Briarwood Elementary Schools! The tornadoes that swept through my town of Oklahoma City last month have left not only a hole in our community, but in my heart. I’m lucky that my own part of town was left unscathed, but not everyone was that lucky. And it seems like the children got hit extra hard this time around with not one, but two elementary schools bring leveled by the May 20th twister.
And that’s where you, my fellow Oklahoma City dwellers, come in.
On the evenings of June 26th and 27th I’ll be leading a String Art Workshop at the Classen Curve Anthropologie location. From 6 to 8pm come hang out! For a suggested donation of $15 that will go towards Build a Classroom’s Donate For OK campaign, you’ll enjoy delicious refreshments, do a little mingling, then sit down and create some string art that I promise you’re going to love.
I’m looking forward to these workshops more than words can say and I hope to see you there! Spaces are limited, so please RSVP to email@example.com as soon as you decide to join us for this community event.