ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Museums, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Museum Cafe at OKCMOA


One thing I’ve learned over my years of travel is to eat at art museums whenever possible, or at least check them out.  If you find a service window, a chalkboard and bare table tops, move on.  However, if you see crisp white tablecloths and a printed menu, you’re in luck.  The Museum Cafe at OKCMOA is one of the good ones.

We’d Seen It All

Deb and I had been sightseeing all morning.  We’d had a good breakfast at the hotel, but that was several hours and many, many steps ago.  As we left the OKCMOA’s gift shop I suggested the restaurant in the museum for lunch and Deb didn’t argue, but she sort of used her go-along-to-get-along voice, instead of her I-can’t-wait-to-do-that voice.  We wandered toward the end of the building to look things over.  It was possible this was just an add-on opportunity with bags of chips and over-priced sandwiches.

When you enter the cafe from inside the museum, a sign tells you to find the hostess at the other entrance.  As we strolled through we saw upscale patrons enjoying delicious-looking platters at tables covered in white tablecloths.  The more she saw the more amiable Deb was to having lunch there.  We were seated at a table near a large plate-glass window, looking out over a nice patio.  Then we ordered wine.  It was going to be a good lunch.

Tough Decisions

Whoever put the menu together knew all about us.  We could have closed our eyes and pointed indiscriminately.  We would have still come out with something we loved.  Instead, with eyes wide open, we opted for the soup and salad platter – a generous cup of lobster bisque with a house salad on the side.

As we waited for our food we chatted about the many beautiful things we’d seen that morning and anticipated the event we’d be attending the next day.  Then the food arrived.  It was as delicious as its descriptions were.  We loved every bite.

The lobster bisque was hot and creamy with huge chunks of lobster floating around with the tasty puff pastry disk.  And let me tell you this was no iceberg lettuce and carrots salad.  Oh no, this was spring mix, apricots, blueberries, grape tomatoes, candied walnuts and boursin with creamy champagne vinaigrette.  The meal was perfect.

(Hello, Dallas Museum of Art, are you out there?  I miss Seventeen Seventeen!  I am not enchanted with standing in line and sitting at those bare-topped tables in your less-than-comfortable metal chairs.  It may all look very cool and modern, but I haven’t eaten there in years.  I’m a loyal patron and partner, but your cafe is not the reason.  Give me back my restaurant!)20150911_122755

Let’s Hit the Road Again

We’d parked just outside the museum, so when our lunch was done we were just steps away from the car.  We stopped on the patio just long enough to get this great shot of Deb.  I was having a bad hair day.  It was my own fault and I don’t want to talk about it.  Come back next week and I will talk about Wichita.


ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Chihuly at the OKCMOA

Chihuly in the lobby of OKCMOA
Chihuly in the lobby of OKCMOA


We were in Oklahoma City to see Chihulys. You might say Deb and I are Chihuly Groupies.  It doesn’t bother us to go a little out of our way to add a piece to our collection of Chihuly sightings.  We know we are not alone.

My Love Affair with Chihuly

Though Chihuly was not unknown to me, I really didn’t pay that much attention to him until 1995 when one of his creations was added to the Dallas Museum of Art.  All of Dallas became Chihuly crazy and we just haven’t gotten over it.  That love affair was renewed when the Dallas Arboretum featured him throughout the garden in 2012.  In my opinion, the garden has never looked as good.  Were I one of those mega-rich people, I would have just bought the whole collection so it could stay here.

Chihuly at DABS
Chihuly at DABS

In my wanderings I’ve seen Chihulys in the Bellagio in Las Vegas and in the Casino at Atlantis in the Bahamas.  He’s graced gardens from San Antonio TX to St. Louis MO.  I saw him in a museum in Portland OR and in Flint MI.  Once in California Bill and I were taking a little vacation in Palm Desert where he played one of their golf courses.  While he signed up for his game, I stood awestruck looking at the chandelier.  I asked just to be sure I wasn’t mistaken, but yes, a Chihuly graced the clubhouse.

OKCMOA’s Chihuly Collection

Bill and I made a pilgrimage to OKCMOA back in 2011-12, while the museum was celebrating the re-installation of their Chihulys.  It’s one of our favorite shared memories.  I’d raved so long and so hard about it that Deb was dying to go.  The Trip With No Name gave us a reason to satisfy her longing.

Chihuly takes up most of the third floor of the museum.  In the exhibit area, the ambient lighting  has been turned way down and bright spotlights on the art makes it seem to reach out and grab you.

If you haven’t seen Chihuly in OK City, then you haven’t seen Chihuly at all – and since I’ve seen a lot of Chihulys, I know whereof I speak.  At the gift shop I bought a package of cards decorated with photos of his pieces at the museum.  I told myself I was getting them to share with you and then I could use them for correspondence.  Well, here I am, sharing them with you, but I somehow doubt they will ever make it to the mailbox.  I’m thinking they will make spectacular pages in my scrapbooks.

So enjoy these wonderful postcards and then come back next week.  We’re going to have a fabulous meal at the Museum Cafe before we head off to Wichita.



ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Museums, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Oklahoma City Museum of Art


OK, I’ll admit a lot of things didn’t go very well as I planned this trip, but one thing went very right.  I discovered a collection of Faberge artifacts were on special exhibition at the OKMOA.  We would have gone to the museum anyway, because they have wonderful, marvelous Chihulys, but to also see Faberge Imperial Easter Eggs?  We were in heaven.  I don’t want to go all nanny-nanny-poo-poo on you, but the exhibit ended  back in September.

Faberge Eggs I Have Seen and Loved

The story of the Romanffs and their Easter Eggs are not exactly a hidden gem of the art world.  I can’t remember not knowing about them.  However, my first opportunity to get up close and personal with them was at the Kimbell Art Museum in 1982.  Sometime around that time I also saw some Faberge items in New Orleans, but back in those days I had no idea I’d be a blogger one day and I can’t find a shred of evidence to prove I was there or exactly where I found them.  I’m guessing they were a few items on loan to the New Orleans Museum of Art from the famous Hodge collection which were later featured in a full blown exhibition of the collection back in 2008.   Faberge Book

I do however cherish the book I got at the Kimbell exhibit.  I have read so many books and watched so many movies about the Romanoffs that I can’t tell you what I’ve actually seen in person and what was delivered to me via various media.

The OKCMOA Exhihibition

The signature item of the OKCMOA Exhibition, featured on banners throughout the city, was a lapis lazuli egg decorated with gold filigree.  I made the mistake of assuming the entire exhibition would be eggs, which was not true, but we were in no way disappointed, because the exhibit was full of spectacular, awe-inducing items collected by an avid American fan of Faberge.

Faberge pelican eggThe first egg displayed in the galleries was this darling piece with the pelican on top.   It was a gift from Nicholas II to his mother the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna.  Pelicans are not exactly my favorite birds, but according to the information provided by the museum, they symbolize motherly love and care, so that makes it more charming.  It was displayed as it is shown on this postcard, but a video showed how it opened up into a series of frames holding pictures of members of the royal family.  Quite a remarkable feat.

Along a wall, magnificent religious icons dripping in jewels and precious metals filled a case.  The lighting was low to preserve the artwork, but it also made it difficult to appreciate all the details.  However, you didn’t need much light to tell you they were spectacular.

The next case had a grove of gold, tree-like arms holding miniature eggs exquisitely decorated by Faberge.  The Pelican Egg, the icons and the miniature eggs filled the first room of the exhibition, but there were four other rooms full of treasures to enjoy.  There was everything from furniture, to serving pieces, to animals, to lots and lots of frames, to cigarette cases, to…well pretty much whatever you can imagine.  Photography was a new fad in those days, so a frame from your sovereign with a family photo was a real treat.  Pre-rolled cigarettes were newly fashionable at the time too, so cigarette cases are well represented.  I think the items which sparked the most interest for me were parasol handles.  Fashion demanded the well-put-together woman complete her ensemble with a parasol and woe to the woman who didn’t have an assortment of parasols to chose from.  Similarly, men carried canes with handles to rival the women.

The Technology

Audio tours were available on your smartphone and the museum provided earphones to cut down on the noise.  The information available, some of which I have shared here, is quite interesting.  However, the Kimbell has spoiled me.  Their acousti-guides are a little more user-friendly, because you don’t have to go in order.  You just input the number of the item you’ve happened upon and listen to what is said.  You really had to follow the order of audio guide on your phone at the OKCMOA, because there was no way to select a specific item.  You also used up a lot of phone juice.  I had to charge up after I left.

I also felt like they were stingy with their information.  There were so many wonderful items in the show and only a fraction were touched upon in the audio guide.  I know they can’t tell us everything about every single item, but the guide only explained 14 of the 230 items.  That’s not even a tithe of the objects.

Upstairs was a hands-on craft area for families to enjoy.  Many people had designed plans for their own Faberge Eggs using colored pencils and glued on rhinestones.  There was also a timeline with photos of all the Romanoff Easter Eggs.  The rest of the floor held the bulk of what was being displayed from their permanent collection.  We strolled through, but we were getting antsy to see the Chihuly’s

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, so I hope each and every one of you has a marvelous day.  I hope you come back next week and check out the Chihulys.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City OK

Conservatory, Myriad Botanical Gardens, Oklahoma City OK
The Conservatory at Myriad Botanical Gardens


Warning! Downtown OKC is under construction.  Your GPS won’t like it.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go.  It just means you need to be ready for it.  We found parking close to the art museum and walked the few short blocks to Myriad Botanical Gardens.  

An entire city block, being prepared for implosion.
An entire city block, being prepared for implosion.

There’s a Conversion Happening

Five or six years ago Bill and I took a few days in OKC in the days before blogging.  Much of what I planned for this stopover with Deb came from my memories of the trip with Bill.  I remembered OKC having a decidedly turn-of-the-century Western charm, but it was the turn from the 19th century to the 20th.  OKC is moving into the 21st century whether I approve of it or not.

A sign of the the times
A sign of the the times

The two buildings above may deserve the makeover, but there were others we were sorry to see included in the “improvement”.  They sported signs of architectural interest that will be lost when antiquity is replaced with skyscrapers.

The inscrpition says we are what we do. What has someone done?
The inscription says, “We are what we do.” I wondered “What has someone done?”

At least the city is trying to incorporate natural beauty in between it’s glass boxes, but Deb didn’t think much of it.  This small architectural feature was carved with a platitude and accented with a large stone.  In Deb’s opinion, it looked as if someone had failed to clean up after their pet dinosaur.  When Bill saw this picture, he felt the same way.

The Myriad Botanical Gardens had also changed.  I remembered them as having more green grass and less hardscape.  Not that they haven’t created a beautiful place.  It’s just not as botanical as I remembered.

The Conservatory

The gardens outside were different and I was still trying to decide how I felt about that when we arrived at the entrance to The Conservatory.  The last time I’d visited there had been a festival going on and the entry area was congested with small costumed entertainers.  This time everything was serene.

We made our way to the garden area and entered a wonderland.  It was amazing.  I won’t bother you with my ecstatic ramblings.  Instead I’ll just share my pictures.

Come back next week and I’ll share another downtown treat with you.  The Oklahoma City Museum of Art.




Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States, WRITING

Country Inn & Suites in Oklahoma City

No prickly problems at the Carlson, then on to the botanical garden
No prickly problems at the Carlson, then on to the botanical garden


The primary reason we stopped in Oklahoma City was their art museum.  We also wanted to visit Bricktown and the botanical gardens.  All of these sites were downtown, but for a quick overnight stay I thought the downtown hotels were a little pricey.  So we opted for the Country Inn & Suites on NW Expressway.  Downtown was mere minutes away and the reviews sounded pretty good.

Can You Say Mustard?

Nancy the Navigator told us the Country Inn was nearby, so we started scanning the area for a sign of our hotel.  There are several in the general area.  To help Deb locate it I said, “It looked yellow in the picture.”  Suddenly a mustard yellow tower with brown mustard trim came into sight.  We’d found our accommodations.  If you have an aversion to shades of mustard, stay away at all costs.  You will see more variations of mustard yellow at this hotel than you ever imagined were possible.

However, if you just need a place to spend the night in OKC, then this is a great place to stay.  We got the room with two queen beds for under $100 on Expedia.  With the exception of the pervasive mustard yellow and some renovations, everything about the stay was fine.

Compact But Adequate 

When we first arrived all we did was throw our luggage into the room and head back out to Bricktown.  Registration had taken only seconds and they had plenty of luggage carts.  Our room was right across from the elevator.  We noticed the bathroom had been specially equipped for handicap access, which meant a roll-in shower with no bathtub.  I can’t tell you whether it’s that way in all rooms or just the bargain room we got, but it wasn’t a deal breaker.  It meant I wouldn’t be having my usual bubble bath, but I’m a big girl, so I could live without it.

The other thing we noticed was that the room was tight.  The sitting area is completely separate from the sleeping area, which was nice, but there’s not much space.  Not a problem for overnight, but I’d want more space if I were going to be there for several days with a companion.

When we got back from Bricktown we were exhausted and hit the sack pretty quickly.  I woke up about five and decided to go ahead and write the article that had given me such a fit before we left.  I dreaded fighting the log-in on the hotel’s wi-fi, which is usually a hassle, but I wanted to unburden myself from my perceived obligation.  If you want to read about the exhibition I previewed, you can do that here. Being able to close the door and leave Deb sleeping peacefully while I puttered around made things easier and that wi-fi log-in? Piece of cake.

About the time I finished my article, Deb was up and about.  We got ready and headed down for breakfast.  Breakfast was great.  The area set aside for the breakfast bar was actually quite nice.  The buffet offered everything from make-it-yourself waffles to bacon and eggs to fruit and yogurt.  I confess, I had the waffles.  Deb opted for the protein.  There was a baby who was making a lot of noise, but he was absolutely darling and it was happy noises, so we actually enjoyed him.

By nine we’d loaded up the car and headed downtown.  Let the fun begin.


Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Mantel Wine Bar & Bistro – Oklahoma City, OK


It’s about three hours to Oklahoma City from Dallas and we needed every minute of that to shake off all the frustrations which tried to keep us from leaving town.  Deb and I both needed this trip.  We were seriously devoted to radical attitude adjustment.  That’s why we put the pedal to the medal so we could start our adventure in Bricktown.


Though we were on our way to Wichita KS for a Women’s Ministry Event we were determined to have some fun along the way.  Bricktown was a great place to start.

Oklahoma City is a conglomeration of several interesting neighborhoods and I thoroughly recommend giving yourself several days to visit the city so you can enjoy them.  Bricktown isn’t a neighborhood though.  It’s an entertainment area.  There’s a baseball stadium, tons of restaurants and even a Riverwalk.  It’s not exactly San Antonio, but it’s well worth your time.

Deb and I blasted into town, threw our stuff into our hotel room and headed to Bricktown.  Along the way, Deb read through some of the brochures I had on the area and decided The Mantel Wine Bar & Bistro sounded like our kind of place.  Boy was she ever right.

Dark and Cozy

There was still daylight left when we got to Oklahoma City.  The GPS took us close to our destination but construction thwarted Nancy the Navigator’s efforts to get us to the restaurant.  After a little wandering around, Nancy decided she knew where she was again and she delivered us to the front door.  The exterior of the building is nothing to write home about, but there was a parking space right out front so we felt like we’d come to the right place.

The moment we stepped inside all hints of sunshine disappeared.  The place has a clubby, steakhouse vibe.  We were seated at a banquette.  I can imagine that being romantic for a couple, but Deb sat on the upholstered seat and I opted for a chair across from her.

The waiter promptly arrived and offered drinks, but we hadn’t figure out our game plan yet, so he left us to peruse the menu and wine list.  We decided to share an appetizer and an entree.  The entree was fish, so we chose a nice bottle of white to go along.

20150910_202211Seriously Delicious

I obviously left my bad luck in Dallas.  The wine selection was crisp and refreshing.  The appetizer was to die for.  Baked Brie is one of our favorite things in the world and when Mantel’s version of it was put down in front of us we wondered why we didn’t order two.  It looked perfect and tasted even better.

The entree was every bit as good.  The grilled mahi mahi was cooked to perfection and rested atop a scrumptious risotto banked by stalks of grilled asparagus.  The more we ate, the more we wanted, so we allowed the waiter to show us the dessert menu.  Everything sounded amazing so we asked for help.  Before we could finish the question he took the dessert menus out of our hands and told us we wanted the Lava Cake.

My half of the entree
My half of the entree

I’m sorry to report that I failed to get a picture of the dessert.  Two balls of ice cream were served next to a large ramekin of chocolate stuff.  He told us it was hot, but we just had to dump it out on the plate to mix with the ice cream.  The poor waiter nearly fainted when he came back to find us trying to handle the ramekin with our napkins.

Waiter Love

The waiter whipped up our plate and disappeared.  He returned moments later with our freshly dumped lava cake rolling around among the ice cream balls and he was obviously amused.  He told us we were the first patrons he’d ever seen try to attempt the feat.  We reminded him we’d warned him about ourselves.  He laughed and confessed he’d been very wrong about us.  He’d pegged us as salad-with-a-glass-of-wine types.  Then we’d ordered a bottle of wine, an appetizer, and an entree.  He hadn’t been surprised we also wanted dessert, but us playing hot potato with the lava cake had made his evening.

A Stroll Through Bricktown

Oklahoma City is not exactly the Big Apple and Bricktown on a Thursday night with no baseball game is a ghost town.  Still we decided to wander down to the Riverwalk and take a stroll.  I imagine that it can be a pretty exciting place to hang out, but it was eerie to be the only ones down there.

With nothing to distract us we went back to the car and returned to the hotel.  We had a fun day ahead.