Our Changing Lives http://ourchanginglives.com VISIT LIKE A LOCAL Wed, 22 Nov 2017 13:46:06 +0000 en hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9 http://ourchanginglives.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/cropped-Our-Changing-Lives-Icon-2-1-32x32.png Our Changing Lives http://ourchanginglives.com 32 32 Tacos Don Francisco – Hole In The Wall Dining In Tulsa http://ourchanginglives.com/tacos-don-francisco-hole-in-the-wall-dining-in-tulsa/ http://ourchanginglives.com/tacos-don-francisco-hole-in-the-wall-dining-in-tulsa/#respond Wed, 22 Nov 2017 09:55:03 +0000 http://ourchanginglives.com/?p=5688 We always make an itinerary for our research trips, since it helps keep us on track. While many of the attractions are the base for our visit, we try to be a little more fluid with our restaurant plans. While I will certainly select a few “must try” locations, some of the others are open for change, as new information comes to light. This was certainly the case for our unplanned visit to Tacos don Francisco in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The sign for Taco's don Francisco signals the home of some great Mexican cuisine.

Unassuming Exterior

During our visit to Glacier Confection (You can read more about this chocolatier here>), we got into a discussion about local restaurants. The topic of the conversation turned to Hole-in-the-Wall joints that offer surprising value and taste. A restaurant was mentioned that had not been on our radar, but certainly sounded intriguing. I made note of it, so that I could investigate later. It turned out that we would be somewhat in the neighborhood toward the end of our trip, so we decided to insert it in our plans. Tacos don Francisco is like so many of those places that people drive by, and hardly notice. It sits on a busy road that is lined by an assortment of small businesses. Pulling up to the building, we were hopeful that the outside didn’t reflect the quality of the food.

A bowl of Queso cheese dip is served with crispy tortilla chips.

This family operated business is no-frills dining, and has just a handful of tables for seating. Most of the customers appear to grab their meals to go, but we opted for the full “dine-in” experience. The prices are quite affordable, so we ordered a nice assortment of items from the menu. We started with some Queso cheese dip, which while a little thin, still had a nice flavor. This would tide us over until our main dishes were ready.

A tamale and enchilada share a plate.

Real Food

Before long, our plates arrived. It quickly became apparent that they do not skimp on the quantity of food they serve. The presentation reminded us of many of the Mexican food restaurants we visit in our hometown of Kansas City, Kansas. Our selection included a tamale, which was standard, but had a nice texture to the corn masa. The plate also included an enchilada, which comes topped with cheese and their red sauce. They included a small cup of hot sauce for drizzling, but it was a little too warm for our liking. (Okay, we aren’t the fiery heat lovers that some may be.)

A plate filled with street tacos also holds refried beans and rice.

Amazing Flavors

The other plate was their Don Francisco, which is the signature platter. This usually includes three “street” tacos, but they tossed on a fourth, so that we could sample the different meat options. These were all delicious, but the beef pastor, and the chorizo were simply amazing. The dish comes with sides of rice and refried beans, which were also just standard fare. They also threw in a Chili Rellino, which is stuffed with cheese and enchilada sauce. We had more than enough food for two, and ate all that we could, before throwing in the towel. Our visit to Tacos don Francisco was a reminder that you can’t judge a restaurant by its exterior. What “Hole-in-the-Wall” places have you found to be hidden gems?

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Dining In Style On The Eureka Springs Train http://ourchanginglives.com/dining-in-style-on-the-eureka-springs-train/ http://ourchanginglives.com/dining-in-style-on-the-eureka-springs-train/#comments Mon, 20 Nov 2017 10:06:06 +0000 http://ourchanginglives.com/?p=5865 A visit to Eureka Springs, Arkansas offers a chance to slow down from the hectic pace of everyday life. This quaint town in the Ozark Mountains is more geared toward leisurely pleasures, and we certainly were looking for some to sample. The Eureka Springs Train hosts a lunch ride that looked perfect for a romantic lunch date. We haven’t spent much time on trains, so the idea of dining onboard was quite intriguing.The railroad yard at the Eureka Springs Railroad.

The Train Yard

We pre-scheduled our visit, which includes picking the date, and meal choices for everyone in the party. We arrived about a half hour prior to our departure, which gave us a little time to look around the grounds. The Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway once serviced a large territory throughout the Ozark Mountains. Other transportation modes eventually replaced the need for the rail service, and these days it is mostly used for tourism. We watched as the engine scooted down the tracks to hitch up the dining cars for our trip. It was a beautiful Fall day, and we waited with the other passengers for our chance to board.

The interior of a 1920's dining car.

All Aboard

Much like we have seen in countless movies, once the train was in place the conductor gave out the familiar cry of “All Aboard”. This trip was actually hosting two different options. Our lunch train party all filed into the 1920’s era dining cars, while the excursion group had their own cars. Once everyone had found a seat, we heard the sound of the train whistle. The initial lurch of the cars meant that we had started our journey. The dining cars are quite comfortable, with leather tufted seats, and solid wood dining tables. It is easy to understand why this form of transportation was so popular. It lends an upscale feel to traveling, as well as the dining portion.

Beautiful scenery is easily viewed from the railroad car during an excursion.

The train chugged along, and the familiar click-clack of the wheels blended with the piped in music overhead. The trip is not extremely long, and covers about 4 1/2 miles in 1 1/2 hours. This is plenty of time to reflect on the beauty of the scenery around us, while we enjoyed our lunch. A small creek runs beside the tracks, and moves closer until we crossed it on an elevated trestle. On our return the engineer stopped over the creek, and this gave us an opportunity to watch a school of small fish dart around in the water.

The Chicken Salad comes with fresh fruit.

Dining in Style

Just after departing the station, our luncheon began. Our server, Ronni, was quite efficient at making sure everyone had what they needed. Crystal had chosen the Chicken Salad option, which is served on a bed of lettuce, and comes with fresh fruit. It all looked so good, and she was quite pleased with her selection.

Beef Stroganoff is made with tender meat, delicious sauce, and served over a bed of egg noodles.

I didn’t want to pass up a chance to test out the Beef Stroganoff, which is ladled over egg noodles. Man, am I glad I made this choice. The beef was so tender, and the sauce had great flavor without being too salty.  My meal included a side of green beans, which are served country style with bacon pieces. The fresh rolls were a nice compliment, and the table service added a nice air to the meal. As we dined, we watched the countryside slip by.

A sweet treat of cake and ice cream goes well with fresh coffee.

Heading Back to the Station

The train is set on a straight spur, so it travels down and back. At the far end, we stopped so that Ronni could collect all of the empty dishes. Now that we had finished our lunch it was time for dessert. A slice of cake, which is accompanied by a scoop of ice cream blended perfectly with a fresh cup of coffee. Our trip back had begun, and now we slowly savored our sweet finishing.

Our server, Ronni, poses with the author for a quick photo.

Too soon we arrived back at the station, but not before I was able to capture a photo of Ronni with Crystal. We enjoyed our excursion, and recommend it highly to others who are looking for a memorable temporary escape. Thinking back on our experience, this would be an excellent place to host a Roaring 20’s party, as you roll down the rails. Just be sure that you tip your server. It doesn’t look easy balancing a tray filled with dishes on a moving train.

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Dinner And All That Jazz http://ourchanginglives.com/dinner-and-all-that-jazz/ http://ourchanginglives.com/dinner-and-all-that-jazz/#respond Fri, 17 Nov 2017 09:43:12 +0000 http://ourchanginglives.com/?p=5330 When we find a restaurant that adds live music to the mix, we know it will be popular. Jazz Louisiana Kitchen certainly falls into this category. What started just over 25 years ago, has grown to include six locations in four states. We dropped by their KCK location, which is found on the west end of the Legends Shopping Center. A weekend visit means that there will be a live performance taking place. They also feature periodic shows during the weeknight evenings, but you may want to check their website for show dates and times.Live Jazz music is featured for diners to enjoy during their visit.

Jazz at Jazz

Clearly the name of the restaurant hints at the music style that will be found inside. We have had the pleasure of hearing a variety of musical groups perform, and they all seem to be quite capable. Sometimes performing for a crowd at a restaurant can be quite the challenge for musicians. There are so many distractions, that it can be difficult to capture the audiences attention. We have witnessed groups that really get the crowd to interact, as well as those that seem to only be background music for dining. No matter who is performing, we try to make it known that their music is appreciated.

The walls at Jazz Restaurant have murals that evoke memories of New Orleans.

The interior of the restaurant is like many other family style dining establishments, except for the New Orleans themed decor. A few murals are scattered across the walls, and trinkets adorn various statuary and sculptures that dot the dining area. A metal circular staircase leads up to a balcony area that is used by the bands, and makes a good focal point for the bar area just beyond. There are three elevated dining areas, which add visual interest to the over-sized room. The seating is all tables and chairs, which can easily be assembled to handle most any size group.

A fresh green salad is a great start for dinner.

Time to Dine

We can be creatures of habit, and at Jazz we certainly have become just that. It goes without question that we will begin our meal with salads. We have always found them to be fresh, which is a must for us. While they aren’t fancy, like in some restaurants, they still offer a nice start to our meals. It also helps us justify the dishes we are about to have, by beginning with some fresh greens.

This chicken dish is coated with a Parmesan sauce mixed with seafood.

Not Too Chicken to Eat Chicken

My favorite menu item is the Chicken A La Mer. This dish consists of  a crusty coated chicken breast that is smothered with a Parmesan sauce. The sauce is loaded with shrimp and crab, as well as some bites of vegetables. (I’ve convinced myself that there aren’t as many calories in this sauce, as there probably are.) This entree is served on a bed of dirty rice, which has a nice kick. I always substitute hush puppies for the steamed vegetables. (Clearly the reason for the salads.) The main course is not overly spicy, but adding the rice to each bite certainly brings up the heat level. This is a dish that I could eat almost every night, so clearly I am biased of my choice.

Blackened chicken rests on a bed of dirty rice.

Crystal also seems to order the same exact dish on each visit. Her entree of choice is the Blackened Chicken, which is seasoned and cooked in a cast iron skillet. (I’ve recreated this at home with mixed success.) The finished product is nestled on a bed of dirty rice, and comes with a boiled potato and some melted butter for dipping. She will also forego the steamed vegetables to make room for hush puppies. (Another entree that is probably a little above the norm for calories, but we will walk some of these off later.)  I have on occasion taken a small bite of her dish, and while it is quite tasty, I just can’t seem to change my order. We enjoy our dinners at Jazz, and look forward to hearing new performers serenade us, while we dine. On occasion, we will also visit their older location on the corner of State Line and 39th Street, which is just across from KU Hospital. How many of you have had the pleasure of enjoying this restaurant?  Do you always choose the same dish when you visit?

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Tulsa Children’s Museum Offers Entertaining Education http://ourchanginglives.com/tulsa-childrens-museum-offers-entertaining-education/ http://ourchanginglives.com/tulsa-childrens-museum-offers-entertaining-education/#respond Wed, 15 Nov 2017 10:02:29 +0000 http://ourchanginglives.com/?p=5883 We are baby boomers, and when we launched this blog, we expected that people our own age would be the only ones to read it. We couldn’t have been more off base. The analytics show that our largest age group of readers are actually in the 25 to 35 age span. We hope this is because we attempt to showcase a good mix of family friendly spots in our articles. We can still remember the days when our kids were still traveling with us. It was always a challenge to identify quality stops to add to our itinerary. While there are plenty of places using advertising to grab attention, sometimes it is difficult to know what you will get for your money. That is one of the reasons we try to add a few family spots to each of the cities we visit. In Tulsa, we took time to drop by the Tulsa Children’s Museum to see what they offer.The Tulsa Children's Museum is designed to appeal to all ages.

Timely Arrival

Visiting Oklahoma in August can bring on some hot days, and our timing was right in the heart of a heat wave. Being seasoned travelers, we plan accordingly, so outdoor activities are in the morning, and indoor during the afternoons. The day was warming up rapidly, and we were ready to seek shelter inside this unique attraction. We had scheduled to meet with Sarah Sadler, Marketing and Development Coordinator at Tulsa Children’s Museum. We arrived right on time, and Sarah was ready to give us a tour of the facility.

The Main Hall is filled with interactive, hands-on exhibits for visitors of all ages.

Learn and Burn Energy

After a short period of introductions, we headed off into the Main Hall, which is the largest room in the museum. The room is named Energy, and it showcases exhibits that show where energy comes from, as well as how it is used. The room is as large as a gymnasium, which allows plenty of room for the kids to burn off a little of their own energy. There are interactive displays lining the sides of the room, as well as a few down the middle. Having a variety of stations allows more people to be engaged at the same time.

Tulsa Children's Museum offers interactive exhibits designed for all ages.

One of the largest exhibits in the room is the Petroleum Pit. Tulsa is an oil boom town, and it is only fitting for there to be an exhibit dedicated to the principle of oil collection. Black balls are sent through pipes that represent various items that are powered by oil. The balls collect in a sorter that fills up, and finally will shoot the balls out of the oil derrick. This exhibit seemed quite popular with the kids. Nearby we watched a family trying their hand at a quiz display, which focuses questions about energy.

A tunnel and slide constructed out of packing tape is a popular exhibit.

Exploring the Tape Tunnel

Another popular exhibit is the Tap Tunnel. This is actually constructed from packing tape. Staff members assemble the tunnel and slide sections with roll after roll of the clear tape to demonstrate the strength of layers. It is sort of the same principle as trying to break one stick versus a bundle of sticks. We enjoy exhibits that teach scientific principles, and are fun to boot. The Energy room also has a toddler area dedictaed to those visitors up to the age of three years old. After watching everyone interacting for a while, it was time to move on to the other rooms.

Problem solving is a lesson learned throughout the exhibits at the Tulsa Children's Museum.

Problem Solving Skills

Where the Energy room is a place to run from exhibit to exhibit, in The Workshop and Featured Room there is a slower pace. Here we found a variety of stations that posed challenges needing to be resolved. A wind wall allows visitors to test the effect of various sail designs, and how they impact movement. We saw kids at easels working on designs, as well as practicing their problem solving skills. The level of concentration was high, so we tried not to interrupt the thought processes.

Guests try their hand at constructing buildings that can withstand a simulated earthquake.

I noticed a couple of kids building models on an exhibit, so i went over to see what was going on. They explained that the table would vibrate, and that they were working on a design that would survive a simulated earthquake. It made me think back to the lack of places like this during my childhood. It is nice to see that this type of interactive museum is becoming much more commonplace these days. It became apparent that the kids had great skills at seeing a problem, and determining an appropriate solution.

Visitors at the Tulsa Children's Museum hone their design skills.

The Only Constant is Change

Sarah had led us through the whole building, and it was obvious that the staff are passionate about the lessons being taught. Everyone was engaged in activities, and you could almost see the wheels turning. The Tulsa Children’s Museum understands the necessity of rotating the exhibits to keep things fresh. In 2018 the museum will feature an exhibit named Math and Music in the Main Hall. Visitors will not only listen to music, they will also create and perform it. The Featured Hall is currently hosting a dinosaur exhibit, and this will be followed by Marvels of Science, which will highlight the strange and remarkable world of science. All of these sound like great interactive exhibits that will certainly entertain the kids for hours. The Tulsa Children’s Museum is a must visit for families traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Break Time At Aquarius Taqueria http://ourchanginglives.com/break-time-at-aquarius-taqueria/ http://ourchanginglives.com/break-time-at-aquarius-taqueria/#comments Mon, 13 Nov 2017 09:51:37 +0000 http://ourchanginglives.com/?p=5825 Spending a day exploring can create a powerful hunger. Sometimes we find ourselves needing a small bite to tide us over until our next full meal. Such was the case during a busy day in Eureka Springs. Fortunately, we were downtown where there is a plethora of unique restaurants to choose from. Aquarius Taqueria was originally on our dining list, but had been replaced by a last-minute suggestion from our readers. The removal of Mexican cuisine had left us wanting, so an in-between meal snack offered us an opportunity to satisfy our craving.A metal sign denotes the location of Aquarius Taqueria.

Relaxed Atmosphere

Previously we had dined at Local Flavor Café, which is owned by the same people as Aquarius Taqueria. (Read more about Local Flavor here>) We were so pleased with our earlier meal, that we were sure we would also enjoy the Mexican cuisine. Both restaurants are located along Main Street, and offer nice views of the downtown traffic. Some may find the idea of traffic watching odd, but in Eureka Springs it can be quite interesting. Our visit to the city coincided with a specialty three-wheeler rally, and it was fun to see all the unique versions.

The interior of the restaurant is colorfully decorated.

Aquarius Taqueria has certainly embraced the artistic side of Eureka Springs. A cool color palate on the outside gives a tranquil and inviting feeling to those passing by. Once you step inside you are transported to another place, one reminiscent of some of the Mexican restaurants we visit across the border. A bold use of color ties to the dark wood used for the tables. The whole thing hints to an upcoming fiesta.

A variety of outdoor seating is available at Aquarius Taqueria.

A Cool Spot For Gathering

Like so many of the restaurants on Main Street, Aquarius Taqueria is nestled in the crevice of the hillside. While it makes for limited expansion in the future, it creates an intimate courtyard feel for customers. The patio area offers a good place to huddle with friends and enjoy a few bites and drinks. We watched as people would group tables together to accommodate their ever expanding gathering. This place is clearly a magnet for social experiences, and the relaxed atmosphere helps guests mingle in comfort. The hostess asked us whether we wished to seat inside or out, and we decided upon an inviting spot overlooking the street. It seemed to be a popular vantage point, and most of the other seats were already filled with afternoon revelers.

Fresh tortilla chips are served with guacamole and salsa, as well as two varieties of margaritas.

Snack Time

We decided that some chips and guacamole would make a perfect snack. The chips are clearly made in house, and were hefty enough to stand up to dipping without breaking. The guacamole was fresh and flavorful, and the salsa packs a nice little kick. They offer a hotter version, but we decided to forego that, since we wanted to keep our taste buds intact. This is not your standard Tex-Mex restaurant that people are used to finding. A review of the menu shows that many of their dishes are from the southern regions of Mexico, so don’t go in expecting your standard tacos. Do be prepared for a new experience, and you might just discover a cuisine that you have never known existed. The menu also lists a nice selection of margaritas, so we chose a couple of varieties to sample. The blue colored Aquarius Margarita is a standard mix, but has the addition of blue Curacao. The drink on the left is their Jamaica margarita, which includes their homemade hibiscus tea. Both of these drinks were delicious, and paired well with our little snack. After our little snack break it was time to resume our exploration of the downtown shops. Eureka Springs has tons of unique little joints to search out, so why not make your own plans for a little research trip?

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Trying New Dishes At Margarita’s http://ourchanginglives.com/trying-new-dishes-at-margaritas/ http://ourchanginglives.com/trying-new-dishes-at-margaritas/#respond Fri, 10 Nov 2017 10:07:18 +0000 http://ourchanginglives.com/?p=5744 One big advantage to living in Kansas City is the wide range of cuisines available throughout the metro. It seems that no matter which area you are in you can find a good selection of restaurants. Some of the “local chains” have locations scattered around the city, so we can enjoy our favorites wherever we wander. One of these is Margarita’s, which has five locations in Kansas City.The restaurant interior has plentiful seating.

Plenty of Seating

It is a toss-up between whether we spend more time at the Margarita’s on Southwest Boulevard or the location in Lenexa. Obviously, a lot of it depends on where we are spending our day, but for this article we visited their Lenexa spot at 7890 Quivira Road. For years they were located on Johnson Drive, in a basement, which would have been a death toll for most restaurants. Their dedicated fan base kept them busy, until it became clear that they needed a location with better access. Their move to their current location allowed customers improved parking, and the restaurant certainly has more street presence. For those who have been regulars for years, there is an appreciation that the inside is a little roomier than their past digs. A variety of tables and booths offer plenty of seating, and customers can also choose to sit at the high-tops located in the bar area.

Crispy chips and salsa make a great snack while reviewing the menu.

Chips For Dips

We visited between the lunch and dinner rushes on a Saturday afternoon, so the seating was plentiful. We were seated immediately, and served fresh chips and salsa. Our server dropped by, and introduced himself. We seem to gravitate to the same menu items each visit, but decided it was time to mix it up a bit. After some explanations from our server, we finally decided on our meals. With our orders in, we could now just relax and snack on the chips. We are fans of Margarita’s salsa, and even buy it at the grocery store for use at home.

Chicken Argentine is a cheesy entree at Margarita's restaurant in Kansas City.

And Now For Something Different

For her meal, Crystal chose the Chicken Argentine. This consists of a grilled chicken breast that is coated with their signature Margarita Dip, which is a melted blend of cheese and spices. It comes with fresh tortillas, and a side of rice and beans. She used the tortillas to create her own version of a cheesy chicken burrito, and noted a little kick to the dish. Crystal always foregoes the beans in favor of more rice, which she added to her burrito. For my side dish, I choose to only have the refried beans, and leave the rice for Crystal. (It is obvious that opposites attract.)

Street tacos are a unique alternative to the standard hard shell version.

I usually order a chimichanga, but on this visit, went with the tacos. Our server explained that they serve a variety of fillings, and that I could mix and match. To get a good sampling of the flavors offered, I decided to order three different meats. One taco was a standard hard shell with ground beef. It doesn’t get any more regular than this, and it had great flavor. That taco didn’t stay around long. The other two were “authentic” style tacos, which are served with onion and cilantro. I selected one with roast pork, and the other with carnitas meat. They both were delicious, and had their own unique flavor. Our meals are always so filling that we can never finish them. We chatted with the server for a bit. before making our way back to our car. We realize that Kansas City offers a wide array of Mexican food options, and it’s great that so many of them serve good meals. So, which Mexican restaurant is your favorite?

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Taste The Freshness At Dilly Diner http://ourchanginglives.com/taste-the-freshness-at-dilly-diner/ http://ourchanginglives.com/taste-the-freshness-at-dilly-diner/#respond Wed, 08 Nov 2017 10:02:35 +0000 http://ourchanginglives.com/?p=5695 Have you ever eaten at a restaurant that sources it’s ingredients locally? Did you notice how much more flavor the dishes have? We had that opportunity during a visit to Dilly Diner, in Tulsa, as we checked out their breakfast menu. We were happy to find out the restaurant was within walking distance of our hotel. A scenic stroll helped work up our appetites, so by the time we arrived we were ready for our visit.Ample seating is found at Dilly Diner in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dilly Diner – A Local Favorite

For this meal we had arranged to meet up with Vanesa Masucci, the Vice President of the Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau. We were looking forward to this meeting, as Vanesa had been extremely helpful in identifying many of the places we visited in Tulsa. After introductions, we made our way in to start our visit. The restaurant has a nice open design, which can make it a little noisy when crowded. A long counter doubles as a bar, but most of the diners were enjoying the booth seating. We were escorted to our seats, and set about reviewing the menu for our selections. The manager brought over one of their signature croissants with some homemade raspberry jam. Once our orders were placed, we spent some time visiting. Our discussions ranged from places we had visited, as well as ones that we would have to see on a future trip. Tulsa has way too much to see in three days, so keep that in mind when planning your itinerary.

A plate filled with delicious Brioche French Toast topped with powdered sugar and sliced strawberries.

Picture Perfect Presentation

It didn’t take long for our meals to arrive, and my camera came out of it’s case. I had warned Vanesa that I wanted to take pictures prior to starting our meal, but being a seasoned professional, she was already expecting that. She had ordered the Brioche French Toastwhich is made with homemade brioche bread. Cooked to a wonderful crusty brown, it is topped with powdered sugar and fresh strawberries. This is one of my favorite breakfast dishes, but I had decided to try something different this morning, and I was wondering if I was missing out. Vanesa described just how delicious the dish was, and the warm maple syrup added a sweet smell to our table.

The Two egg Breakfast is a filling meal to start the day.

Crystal ordered her standard meal, which at Dilly Diner is named the Two Egg Breakfast. The makeup of the meal is pretty obvious, but it included some fresh fruit, which isn’t always offered by other restaurants. It should be noted that although she chose toast, she could have picked biscuits and gravy to accompany her plate.

Breakfast Tacos combine an assortment of unique flavors to create a tasty breakfast dish.

Stepping Out Of My Box

I had a discussion with the manager about some of the most popular dishes. One that he mentioned was something I had never tried. I decided to order the Breakfast Tacos, which sounded intriguing. Two flour tortillas are topped with scrambled eggs, avocado, cilantro, Cotija cheese, and a squirt of chipotle aioli.  After corralling the ingredients into a manageable shape, I tested my first bite. The variety of flavors blended so well, that I wondered why I have never seen this combination on a menu. My fear that the chipotle sauce would be too spicy was unfounded. It gave just a little kick, but the avocado quickly quenched any heat, and left a creamy coolness in its place. It was difficult for me to concentrate on the table conversation, as I was truly savoring the tacos. Too soon they disappeared, and I topped off my meal with the fresh fruit. With our meal completed, we spent a little more time conversing over our coffee. Before long, we all had to head off to our next destinations. Dilly Diner is certainly on our list for another visit in the future, and I’m going to test out that French toast.

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*We want to thank the Visit Tulsa for hosting our visit. Rest assured that the opinions are all our own.

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Testing The Local Flavor Cafe http://ourchanginglives.com/testing-the-local-flavor-cafe/ http://ourchanginglives.com/testing-the-local-flavor-cafe/#respond Mon, 06 Nov 2017 10:04:02 +0000 http://ourchanginglives.com/?p=5663 Our arrival in Eureka Springs, Arkansas was not met with grand fanfare. Actually, we just slid in down Main Street, and located a parking spot near downtown. After a drive filled with exploration, the first thing on our minds was lunch. We had polled our readers for restaurant ideas prior to our departure, and Local Flavor Cafe came up numerous times. It was clearly popular with most of you, so we knew it should be a good visit.Local Flavor Cafe offers indoor and outdoor patio seating.

Hanging With The Locals

This restaurant has been a staple on the Eureka Springs scene since 1991. Owned and operated by chef Britt Evans, we had high expectations for our meals. We had viewed the menu during the planning stage, and saw that Local Flavor Cafe had an eclectic mix of dishes. Many of these have interesting sounding flavor combinations. The restaurant is located on the main drag through town, so it is easy to locate. It sits on a hillside overlooking the street, and offers indoor and outside seating options. They have a nice balcony area, but we chose to sit in a cozier grotto type section, which is also outdoors.

The interior of the Local Flavor cafe features views of a natural spring.

As usual, I popped inside to get a feel for the seating arrangement. The place is very low key casual, and they have a seating area that offers a delightful view of a local spring. That is certainly something we forget about in between trips to Eureka Springs. It seems we are always surprised by the amount of running water in and around this town. The staff were caught off guard by my camera, but once I explained they relaxed, and were extremely accommodating. Blogging is certainly a great way to meet people, and a good conversation starter. After all, just about everyone likes to travel, so it’s easy to have something in common. I headed back to the table, and we ordered our meals. While we waited for our food we observed how tranquil the setting was around us. Even though some of the tables were filled, we still felt like we had as much privacy as we wanted.

The mushroom Swiss burger is made with fresh ground beef.

Fresh Eats at Local Flavor Cafe

Before long our food arrived, and we arranged the plates on our table. Obviously, I had to take pictures first, and fortunately Crystal has become accustomed to this protocol. Once the formalities were completed it was time to dig in. I was in a beef eating mood, so I decided to sample one of their burgers. There were two or three on the menu that piqued my interest, but I finally settled on the Mushroom Swiss Burger. I am a huge fan of mushrooms, and this sandwich had an ample supply. The condiments and accessories all arrived on the side, which makes it easier to assemble the sandwich to your own liking. The burger was moist and juicy, and they used a good quality Swiss cheese. Everything blended together in each bite to create a pleasing flavor. The meal comes with a side of their homemade Cole slaw, which had a nice tangy taste without being too sweet.

Turkey avocado sandwich is piled high with fresh ingredients.

Crystal went with the sandwich that I already knew she would pick, the Turkey Avocado Pepper Jack. It’s almost a certain bet that if a menu item calls out avocado in the title, then she will gravitate toward it. This also explains why we find ourselves testing the guacamole at so many restaurants. This Local Flavor Cafe favorite has a good amount of sliced turkey piled on a sourdough roll. The meat is topped with pepper jack cheese, as well as a generous amount of avocado. This dish also comes with a side of the slaw, and we tossed in an order of the french fries to boot. She enjoyed the freshness of the ingredients, as well as the flavor combination. By the end of the meal our hungers were quenched. Now it was time to get back to exploring.

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Grinter House – The House On The Hill http://ourchanginglives.com/grinter-house-the-house-on-the-hill/ http://ourchanginglives.com/grinter-house-the-house-on-the-hill/#respond Fri, 03 Nov 2017 09:58:50 +0000 http://ourchanginglives.com/?p=5789 When we pass the Grinter House, in Kansas City, Kansas, I try to imagine the life of the Grinters. Being one of the first homes in the area, they surely faced long periods of isolation. Built around 1857, it served as the home for Moses and Anna Grinter. A trail nearby led to the Kaw River, and it was there  that Moses Grinter constructed a river ferry crossing.A local character actor portrays Moses Grinter during Summerfest.

Moses Grinter

Moses Read Grinter was born in Kentucky in 1809. Little is known of his youth, but at the age of 21 he had begun his ferry operation in the Delaware tribe region. Many reports credit Moses Grinter as the first white settler in what would become Wyandotte County. His trading post was well known in the area, and frequented by settlers who passed through the area. Many of those customers also used his ferry to cross the river. The river crossing was also used by federal troops moving between the Fort Leavenworth and Fort Scott. Where I had always imagined solitude, in actuality they were probably visited frequently by various customers.

A pipe and tobacco rest on a table near the fireplace.

“Annie” Grinter

Around 1838 Moses married a Delaware (Lenapi) woman named Anna (Annie) Marshall. Her tribe had been moved to the area in the early 1830’s as part of program by the U.S. government to move the natives from their original lands. As a tribe member, Anna was granted a portion of land by the government. She was also one of about 25 Delaware women who were granted U.S. citizenship when Kansas became a state. Anna and Moses were parents of ten children, but not all lived to adulthood, which was not uncommon during those days. Annie was known to carry a small clay pipe and Bull Durham tobacco in her dress pocket. She would often sit in her rocking chair smoking her pipe in front of the fireplace.

The tour guide points out interesting facts about the Grinters and their home in Wyandotte County.

Touring The Grinter House

For many years the Grinter House hosted “Grinterfest” each Fall, but like many festivals, it fell of after a while. These days they still have annual events, and we stopped by during their Summerfest. This event includes a car show, a collection of vendor booths, re-enactors, musical performers, kids activities, and tours of the home. After a conversation with some of the Grinter Quilting Bee members, we were ready to take a tour of the house. The tour on that day was operating on a loop, which meant that new guests just joined in wherever they were at. You followed along until they got back to where you joined. Our tour guide was well informed, and imparted lots of stories about the Grinters, as well as the surrounding area.

A bible rest on a chest at the foot of a bed.

The Grinters were faithful members of the Methodist Church. For a while, church services were held in the Grinter’s home. They donated 1.5 acres for a Methodist church and cemetery to be constructed. Many of the Grinter family are buried in this cemetery. Throughout the house we saw mementos that pointed toward the religious background of the family. In one of the bedrooms a family bible sits on the chest at the foot of the bed. The bedrooms are in the upstairs portion of the home. As we passed through the home we were amazed at the structural integrity of the 160 year old house. The framework is native walnut, which was brought from Leavenworth. The brick exterior was constructed using clay dug on the property and fired in a kiln on-site.

The kitchen of the Grinter House holds various equipment common to the 1800's.

Moving To The Big House

After spending years in a cottage near the ferry, the Grinters were finally able to move in to their two story brick home around 1860. The construction of this new home occurred during the period that they were also operating their trading post. The store is thought to have offered around 160 different products, with many being vital for survival on the frontier. The family also ran a farm, apple orchard, and raised livestock. All of these things to do each day, and to think that we can feel overwhelmed by our daily tasks.

Members of the Grinter Quilting Bee work on a project.

A Different Type OF Bee

In 1950, descendants of the Grinters sold the homestead to a family who operated a chicken dinner restaurant. This stayed in business until the mid-1960’s, when it finally shuttered. In 1971 the state of Kansas acquired the site, and it became the Grinter Place Historic Site. These days a variety of groups focus on helping assist with the operations, as well as fundraising endeavors. The Grinter Quilting Bee is one of these groups, and were on-site during the Summerfest. They were working on a quilt that would be sold to generate funds to help maintain the Grinter House for future visitors.

A local reenactor interacts with the crowd at the Grinter House.

The Past Meets The Present

During the Summerfest there are a variety of re-enactors portraying various characters from the early days of Kansas statehood. The new Indian Territories ran along a line that followed the state edge of Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Along the line forts were constructed to maintain the peace between tribes and pioneers. The Civil War was looming, and with it the localized skirmishes that helped seal the titles of “Bloody Kansas” and “Border War”. All of this activity certainly created more ferry traffic for the Grinters, as well as the other ferry operators in the region. Over time bridges replaced ferries, and stores replaced trading posts. Through all of these changes the one thing that has remained constant is the “House on the Hill”. Have you ever toured the Grinter House?

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The Largest Collection Of American West Art – Gilcrease Museum http://ourchanginglives.com/the-largest-collection-of-american-west-art-gilcrease-museum/ http://ourchanginglives.com/the-largest-collection-of-american-west-art-gilcrease-museum/#respond Wed, 01 Nov 2017 09:57:37 +0000 http://ourchanginglives.com/?p=5748 Did you know that Tulsa, Oklahoma is home to the largest collection of art and artifacts of the American West? The Gilcrease Museum holds this vast array of objects, as well as a significant amount of Native American material. Located on the northwest corner of the city, it fit in perfectly after a morning visit to the zoo. As we made our way to the entrance, from the parking lot, we passed by some captivating sculptures spread around the landscape. The museum features themed gardens for visitors to explore, but our timing was on a scorching hot day, so we dedicated our time indoors.The entrance to the Thomas Gilcrease exhibit at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The Man Behind The Vision

Oklahoma is home to a variety of Native American tribes, who were moved to the area by federal forces. Thomas Gilcrease came from the Creek Nation area, which holds a large amount of land in and around Tulsa. When oil was discovered in 1905, which was two years prior to Oklahoma statehood, a portion of the oil fields were on his land. By the time Gilcrease was twenty years old, he was a multi-millionaire, and proved to be a good businessman. In 1922, he founded the Gilcrease Oil Company. He would move it’s office to Tulsa in 1949. That same year he unveiled the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art. Gilcrease lived out the rest of his life in a house adjacent to the museum.

A collage of four pictures highlight some of the artwork on display at the Gilcrease Museum.

Gilcrease began collecting art and artifacts in 1912.His first purchase was an oil painting he bought for $1500. This started him on his journey of collecting, but he didn’t kick into high gear until around 1939. At that point of his career his offices were based in San Antonio, Texas. He opened the first Gilcrease Museum there, but eventually returned to his Tulsa roots. During the period of time that Gilcrease was collecting, the market showed little interest in the pieces he pursued. This allowed him to purchase large quantities in a relatively short time. By the mid-1950’s, declining oil prices had a significant effect on his company’s financial standing. Fearing the idea of his collections being split up, he offered the entire lot up for sale. The residents of Tulsa voted to approve a bond to pay Gilcrease’s debts, and in 1955 he willed his collection to the city.  That action would keep the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, and make it property of the city.

A native American pictograph shows a battle between tribes.

Preserving the Past at the Gilcrease Museum

Thomas Gilcrease had a vision to tell the story of the American West, and especially the portion that involved the native people. As we explored the museum, we were in awe at the massive amount of art and artifacts that are held within the walls. Gallery after gallery of sculptures and paintings from some of the most well known American artists can be found here. Did you know that the museum owns 18 of the 22 bronze sculptures originally created by Frederic Remington?  Of course, with a collection of over 300,000 pieces not everything can be on display at the same time. They also store many items that are rarely brought to public view. In their archive are the only known handwritten copies of the Declaration of independence and Articles of Confederation.

A collage of four pictures highlights some of the beadwork found in Native American pieces.

As we passed through the galleries, we found each one to be just as amazing as the one we just viewed. The artifacts tell the stories of civilizations who populated the lands for many generations. The details and intricacies of the artwork were unbelievable. We were joined by Melani Hamilton, the Communications Manager for the Gilcrease Museum, who spoke with us about the history and purpose of the organization. She began with the original vision, and moved through to the future of the site. A recently approved plan will add two new galleries to the museum in the near future. This will allow for additional pieces to come out of storage, and be on display for the public. It will also include a new underground parking facility, as well as an elevated restaurant, which will allow guests views of some of the 23 acres of gardens on the grounds.

The decorated entrance to the Kids Site inside the Gilcrease Museum.

Family Friendly Experience

At the Gilcrease Museum it is important that the attraction be appealing to all ages. They have included a couple of areas dedicated to the younger crowd, as well as the young at heart. The Kid’s Site is a room filled with scenes that allow children to expand upon some of the art they have seen in the museum. This open space is a perfect place to burn off a little excess energy, while entertaining the others in your group. The museum hosts visits for school classes from around the Tulsa metro, and helps build a bond between the children and the history of the American West.

A four picture collage shows some of the all ages hands-on activities found at the Gilcrease Museum.

We located two distinct areas in the museum that are hands on exhibits. In the first we encountered, there are a variety of touch stations, where children can explore the tools and devices used in daily life of the Native Tribes of the region. There are also some stations set up to mimic the daily activities of the members of the communities. Farther into the museum, we came upon the Kid’s Site. This room includes a stage area where kids can entertain the adults in the group with an impromptu play or puppet show. A work table allows room for crafts to be completed, and children can create their own pictographs, much like the ones viewed in the galleries.

The author poses in a canoe poised in front of a scenic mural.

Channeling My Inner Youth

Another area offers one of the most unique “selfie” spots we have ever seen. I could not pass up an opportunity to grab a quick click in front a tranquil mountain scene. No, I did not get in the canoe, we just used a little forced perspective in the photograph. I think it came out pretty well. As I said, it’s a great place for kids of all ages.

An extensive collection of artifacts and tools are on display at the Gilcrease Museum.

Additional Resources

After visiting all of the ground floor galleries, we made our way downstairs to the Kravis Discovery Center. This area holds a vast amount of artifacts from indigenous people from North, Central, and South America. Drawer after drawer hold implements and tools used by people for all sorts of daily activities. It is a great research tool, and was quite popular during our visit. The Gilcrease Museum also hosts an amazing amount of pictures from the museum’s inventory online. By visiting the “Collections” tab on their website, you can search through an extensive collection of their items. This is a great resource for researchers, but doesn’t do justice to seeing the pieces in person. We certainly hope you will have an opportunity to visit the Gilcrease Museum, and see the wonderful collection for yourself.

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*We want to thank the Gilcrease Museum for hosting our stay. Rest assured that the opinions are all our own.

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