First Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

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First Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

First Trimester Pregnancy Essentials

Wait, why would I be an expert on first trimester goodies for pregnant women? That’s right: surprise! We’re expecting our first child in early 2018. We’re over the moon!

However, it didn’t matter how prepared I thought I was for pregnancy and all of its symptoms… It still surprised me the severity of some, especially while dealing with autoimmune disease like arthritis and thyroid disorder. Here are some of my favorite tips and items that made things go a little bit smoother those first 13 weeks!

Rest, nap, sleep, breathe… When you need it

The hardest thing for me to cope with during my first trimester was my guilt surrounding my need to nap… every single day. Even when my rheumatoid arthritis was at its worst, I had never felt more exhausted by simply waking up once I was pregnant.

It was a definite shock, but after I came to terms with the fact that is is more than okay to not only need a nap, but schedule one into each day, the easier things became. A sleep mask doesn’t hurt for those mid-day slumbers either.

Keep your doctors in the loop

If you’re like me and have chronic illnesses — most specifically autoimmune diseases — that you are currently on medication for, always make sure your doctors are in the loop. Personally, I have four specialist doctors who communicate between one another and decide the best treatment for my rheumatoid arthritis during my pregnancy.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the women who goes into remission during pregnancy, so I’ve remained on injections during pregnancy. In fact, my doctors were second to know (outside of my husband and I!) that I was pregnant so we could decide the best course of action. Always make sure your medications are approved by all your doctors, especially your obstetrician(s). And don’t be afraid to do your own research and ask questions. It’s now about you and your baby when it comes to your treatment!

A wedge pillow

You’ll see so many people tout how wonderful maternity pillows are, but if you’re early in your pregnancy, it may be a little too soon to jump into the full body pillow. I’m a lifelong stomach-sleeper, so to get myself prepared to sleep on my sides, I dipped my toe in the water: I bought a pregnancy wedge pillow.

And you guys, the hiccapop wedge has changed my life! Not only is it great for pregnancy, but it is awesome for arthritis, too. It’s primarily marketed mostly for sleeping at night, but I use it when driving as a back support (hello, tailbone pain), when I’m at my desk, on the couch… everywhere! There are so many ways to use it, too: between the legs, elevating your feet, behind your neck to sit up comfortably in bed. This is definitely my favorite first trimester purchase, hands down.

Belly band

I genuinely didn’t think I would need a belly band until well into my pregnancy. You can imagine my surprise when, at 11 weeks, I would pull on a pair of shorts or jeans like usual and when I would attempt to button them… no dice. Ingrid & Isabel belly bands have been my favorite so far and they come in a variety of colors.

Early in pregnancy, you can fold the band down (in half) for a little extra support for your tiny growing bump. As it gets bigger, simply unroll it to cover your whole stomach!

Pregnancy bath salts and thermometer

These two little babies go hand in hand. Experts say no hot tubs during pregnancy due to how hot the water can get, but I absolutely love taking baths, especially for my arthritis. I invested – ha! – in an incredibly affordable bath thermometer I found off Amazon. Works quickly, is accurate and gives me peace of mind when I take a bath.

My other favorite pregnancy bath product is Pink Stork Flakes. I originally picked these up because they claimed they could ease morning sickness… and it helps! Salts are a great way to relax your muscles and ease pain in your joints, whether you’re an arthritis warrior like me or dealing with regular pregnancy pains.

Preggie Pops

I admire and I’m a little jealous of women who go through pregnancy without any sort of morning sickness. Luckily for me, vomiting didn’t come around too often, but the nausea was almost debilitating for the first 10 weeks. While I was given prescription medication, I would still pop a Preggie Pop if I was having a particularly nauseating afternoon or driving somewhere… anywhere (oh yes, I had pregnancy car sickness!).

Now that I’m off the medication, I use these every now and then to combat the errant nausea. They last a long time and are easy to keep in your purse or pocket!


What are your favorite tips on getting through the first trimester of pregnancy?

In Health

It’s World Arthritis Day!

You guys, it’s World Arthritis Day! I’m currently part of the Cure Arthritis Crew, which helps bring awareness to and support research to help fight arthritis diseases. Check out the awesome resources from curearthritis.org to learn more about how you can make a big difference on World Arthritis Day.
 
Last year, I was finally diagnosed with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis after several years of mysterious pain and frankly, it has changed my entire life. Since then, I’ve learned a few things:

1) Invisible illness is real, y’all.

You may think the healthy-looking young man or woman taking up a seat on the bus, train or even a bench in the park is being selfish or parking in the handicap spot is wrong, but you may not know the pain they’re in. Someone may be super bubbly and seem totally physically capable out and about, but when they get home, they’re out of commission for an entire week because of pain. We’re good fakers.

2) It’s okay to be a “flake.”

I’ve lost touch with people because I either don’t have the energy to hang out, because of an arthritis flare or the activity is something I can no longer physically do. Some days are great days and some days are no-way-not-happening – you never know until it’s go-time. It’s also really difficult to see people you care about struggle – silence is sometimes how people cope with seeing others change with chronic illness.

3) Girl, you gotta rest.

Before my joint pain started, I used to do yoga, bike, run 5Ks and want to go-go-go on trips. I was even training for a half-marathon! Now, I’ve learned that I need to space out my physical activity (yes, even running errands, traveling, getting dressed up or social activities!). This was the hardest thing to learn and probably the most life-changing. I recommend looking up the spoon theory, if you’re interested in how this works!

4) Needles aren’t so scary anymore.

Now, I inject my arthritis medication myself on a weekly basis and have bloodwork done every 3-6 weeks. Even after several months of being on injections, sometimes when it’s time for me to inject, it’s almost impossible to find the courage to do it, but… it gets done. You can, too.

5) People with chronic illnesses of any kind are SO INCREDIBLY STRONG.

And when people reach out to others about how they’re physically feeling, it’s most likely because they can’t do it alone anymore. Finding the strength to reach out and ask for help is difficult, but makes you a total badass. For those of you with loved ones reaching out for help, lift those people up, support them. Everyone is fighting their own battle and we especially can’t compare our battles – physically or emotionally – with someone else’s. We all must speak up and support one another!
 
So, raise a glass to all of those folks battling arthritis diseases today – young and old! They’re some of the strongest people I know.

Fall Decor Finds on a Budget

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Fall decor finds on a budget

The best fall decor on a budget

 

1 Round Metal Wire Storage Basket  | 2 Pumpkin Gourd Garland | 3 Distressed Wood Lantern | 4 Set of Six White Pumpkins | 5 Metal Filigree Pumpkin Tealight Holder | 6 Round Metal Filigree Pumpkin Tealight Holder | 7 Autumn Wooden Sign | 8 Harvest Candle | 9 Large Distressed Pumpkin | 10 Burlap Jute Acorns

While most people go all-out for their holiday decor in December, I’m a little partial to the warm tones and coziness of what autumn brings! Bright orange pumpkins don’t have to be the main event when decorating for fall on a budget.

Throw in some warm colors like deep oranges and reds for a traditional focus on the season. For more of a glam, or even relaxed farmhouse feel, add some distressed whites and grays to your mantle to showcase those gorgeous white and neutral pumpkins this time of year!

There is often a debate as to how early is too early to decorate for fall. For some, it’s when the air starts to chill and even when the leaves start to turn. Being in Oklahoma, my guideline is just after Labor Day, the official end of summer since it can still be relatively hot even in October.

The gorgeous natural tones and the thought of cooler weather makes me want to turn on the fireplace and curl up with a good book and a warm drink!

In Food, Recipe

Summer Gluten-Free Cake with Berries | Recipe

Gluten-Free Cake with Berries and no icing from BrendaDalton.com

Perfect gluten-free cake for summer!

Summer is all about spending time outdoors – or ya know, on patios – watermelon, cookouts, and hot weather. But why does that mean cake can’t come to the party?

This little cake is a subtle nod to that popular summer holiday in the states, whether you call it 4th of July, Independence Day, or Firecracker Day (really, I’ve heard it all!). With strawberries and blueberries baked within and topping the cake, it’s a nice little tribute to America.

I’m all about transparency, so the story behind this cake recipe is this: I thought this gluten-free cake was going straight to the trash. Really.

For the first time ever, my frosting failed, the cake fell in, it took way too long to bake, and I was ready to taste the cake and immediately dump it.

But I didn’t.

Because it turned out amazing.

If you’re someone who isn’t a fan of frosting, this is the cake for you. If you’re someone who loves frosting and can eat it right out of the bowl (hi, that’s me), this is the cake for you, too. If you want an excuse to eat cake in the summer, this is for you, too.

Gluten-Free Cake with Berries and no icing from BrendaDalton.com

I adapted this recipe from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring’s basic vanilla cake; however, I made some major modifications to this gluten-free cake recipe thanks to the berries, my desire to make it a little less sweet, and my genuine screw-ups along the way.

I have one major tip when baking, because I always wanted to make cute little 6″ cakes, but until recently, didn’t have the cute little pans:

Never make enough batter for an 8″ cake pan and pour it into 6″ cake pans. Just don’t do it! Even by accident! You’ll regret your whole life!

Okay, you won’t regret your whole life, but your cake will take forever to bake and will become slightly dry. And your husband or wife will be forced to eat an entire bowl-full of the extra gluten-free cake you had to slice off the top.

Gluten-Free Cake with Berries and no icing from BrendaDalton.com

This cake isn’t your super-sweet, give-you-a-headache, covered-in-frosting cake. It has a light, airy sweetness thanks to the dusting of powdered sugar and strawberry and blueberry puree within the cake.

It even tastes delicious warm, room temperature or cool.

When you top this cake with the berry purees, it gives it a slightly tangy and satisfying bite that’s unlike other cakes, making it perfect for late spring or the hot days of summer.


Ingredients:

2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-to-1 baking flour

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 egg whites + 1 whole egg at room temperature

1 1/4 cups buttermilk at room temperature*

*If you’re like me and always forget buttermilk, here’s an easy substitute: Add 1-1.5 tablespoons lemon juice to regular milk, stir and let rest for 5-10 minutes. You’ll see it slightly curdle – that’s good. Stir before mixing with other ingredients.

5-8 strawberries, depending on size

1 cup blueberries


Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease two 8″ or three 6″ baking pans and place parchment paper cut to fit in the bottom.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, cornstarch, baking soda and baking powder. Add salt and whisk.

In a large bowl or bowl attached to a stand mixer, add butter, granulated sugar and vanilla. Mix on medium-high for 3 minutes until fluffy. You may need to scrape the mixture off the sides of the bowl halfway through.

Combine the egg whites, egg and buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute) into a bowl and whisk to combine.

Add the dry ingredients in 4 equal portions into the bowl with butter, sugar and vanilla, alternating with the milk and egg mixture. Mix between adding portions.

Continue to beat ingredients on medium speed until everything is fully combined and smooth.

Divide the batter into two (for 8″ pans) or three (for 6″ pans) and pour into medium-sized bowls.

In a food processor, chop up the strawberries until they’re mostly smooth – a few larger pieces are just fine. Pour half of the berry purée into one (for 8″ pans) or two (for 6″ pans) bowls of batter. Mix by hand to combine. Set the remaining berry purée aside for topping later.

Repeat the processing steps for the blueberries, adding a little less than half of the purée to the remaining pan(s). Set the remaining purée aside for topping.

Pour mix into pans until they’re filled evenly. Place the baking pans into preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick is clean and they are golden brown.

Remove the cakes from the oven and cool the cake in pans for 10-20 minutes before placing cakes onto a wire rack. Remove parchment paper and allow to cool completely.

To assemble the gluten-free cake, place on a stand, serving platter or plate. Place the first layer on the surface, then spread 1-2 tablespoons one of the berry purées on top until covered, but not dripping down the sides. Place the alternating flavor cake on top of the first layer. If using 3 6″ layers, spread the other berry purée and place the third layer on top.

If serving immediately, sift desired amount of powdered sugar on top and sides of cake. If serving later, wait until serving time to dust powdered sugar, since it will melt into the cake within a few hours.

Optional: Spread a tablespoon of each purée on center of cake, then top with berries or spread berry purée on individual pieces. Mix berry purée with cream cheese frosting and use between layers instead of puree-only.

Airplane Essentials | Travel Tips

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Airplane essentials for the modern woman. What to pack in your carry-on for easy and stylish traveling by air for arthritis and autoimmune disease. Read more from brendadalton.com!

For some people – like myself! – half the fun of traveling is packing and over the years, I’ve perfected my airplane essentials list. I’ve figured out the things I can’t live without while traveling by plane and the things that make my life with arthritis, a gluten-free diet, and autoimmune disease much easier. Most importantly, I’ve figured out the things that aren’t worth bringing because they never get used. I’ve even figured out the items that help me speed through security without an additional bag check, because that can slow down your race to the gate by a few minutes to half an hour!

First, it’s important to start with what’s on your body before you get out the door.

Things I never wear to the airport:

  • Statement jewelry
  • Dresses – especially maxi dresses – you’re more likely to be stopped by TSA for additional screening
  • Flip flops or strappy sandals – Mostly because you don’t want your bare feet touching the floor where thousands of others’ have, especially if you have autoimmune disease
  • Layers that are difficult to remove, like over-the-head sweatshirts and jackets
  • Belts
  • Hairstyles that require lots of bobby pins or metal hair accessories
  • Outfits that would work well in hot weather – because airplanes can be cold!

Things I do wear to the airport:

  • Sneakers, Sperrys or slip-on Keds
  • Socks (and if not, I have them ready to slip on at security/TSA Checkpoint)
  • Leggings or stretchy jeans
  • Tank top or plain tee
  • Oversized cardigan, preferably with pockets!
  • Simple necklace and earrings (these go in my carry-on until I’ve passed security)
  • Crossbody purse as a personal item

The number of items you may wear or pack depends on your ultimate destination, but here are my can’t-leave-home-without-’em airplane essentials that make traveling a breeze!

Travel Pillow & Blanket

This guy is a lifesaver. Not only is it easy to strap to your carry-on, but I also put some of the items that appear in this list in it: nose spray, facial spray, earbuds, a spare pen, Kindle, eye mask. What I love about this travel set is the pillow inflates when you take the blanket out, so you can control the firmness.

It works great as a lumbar pillow, regular pillow or just something to rest your hands on when tray tables are in their upright position. Shoutout to my arthritis friends! It’s also nice to have a little pillow and blanket in unfamiliar hotel rooms, too.

Lavender Mini Towelettes 

One time while traveling, I realized I was down to only one of these and still had a flight left before I was home. It was not pleasant. These delicious-smelling towelettes are a lifesaver on dirty planes, in not-so-clean hotel rooms and a great way to take makeup off or refresh your face at the end of a long travel day or a mid-flight nap. The lavender scent is also a great way to naturally ease any jitters before takeoff.

Since they’re antibacterial, I use these to wipe down the tray table, seat belt and everything around me when I board a plane. These are also great to do a little extra cleaning when you get to your hotel room, because trust me, it’s not as clean as you think!

Evian Mineral Water Facial Spray

My husband teases me about this one when I remember to bring it, but especially when we’re traveling early morning or late night, this is a lifesaver. It’s a great way to restore moisture to your face when you’re in a rush. And this spray lasts forever. Once you’ve stepped off the plane, spritz this facial spray under or over makeup. It’s especially lovely whether you’re on your way to your destination or back home to the real world.

Filtered Water Bottle

I do not travel anywhere without this thing. Seriously, it’s such a life saver. As someone with autoimmune issues, I’m not keen on drinking out of the tap or water fountains. I bring this empty water bottle through airport security and fill it up before I get on my flight.

This water bottle is also a big money saver! Ever notice how water bottles can get pretty expensive in hotels? The filter in this water bottle removes all the gunk and leaves you with delicious water even from your hotel bathroom. The ounces markings also make it easy for me to track how much water I’ve had for the day. Gotta stay hydrated!

Kindle & Kindle Unlimited

If I had the time, I would read three books a week, minimum. While I use my Kindle at home, it gets the most use when I’m traveling. I’m a fast reader and once I start a good book, it is impossible for me to put it down. This is especially true when on planes and in airports where the wifi is spotty, expensive or non-existent. Plus, it feels a little better to pass the time reading a book than it does to mindlessly play games on your phone or scroll through Facebook, right?

My favorite thing about my Kindle – besides the fact I got it half-price through a Black Friday sale – is Kindle Unlimited. For anyone who reads more than one book a month, it is 100% worth it. For $10 a month, you have access to over a million books on your Kindle.

Considering Kindle books can be anywhere from $5 to $15+, if you read one or two a month, you get your money’s worth. They even have super popular books, like the Harry Potter series and The Handmaid’s Tale.

With Kindle Unlimited, you also get access to thousands of audiobooks and magazines in addition to the massive library of regular e-books. Double win!

Portable Electronics Charger

It’s hard to imagine traveling without a smart phone, laptop, tablet, and ahem, Kindle! Even on short flights, I bring a portable charger. This thing has saved many a situation and is at the top of my airplane essentials list. You never know when you might have to bust out the navigation on your phone, which is a total battery suck, or research gluten-free restaurants near your hotel without access to an outlet.

This particular charger from Anker has been my favorite. I’ve gone through a few, but the Anker PowerCore has lasted me a few years. It holds a charge for a long time (fully charges an iPhone from 0%), is so small it can fit anywhere – even a pocket! – and recharges itself quickly. As of June 2017, it’s on sale for 50% off (under $20!).

Smith’s Rosebud Salve

I’ve mentioned this staple in blog posts before, but it bears repeating: This stuff is amazing. It’s on the list for airplane essentials and life essentials. This sweet little balm goes beyond a simple lip balm: Calm cuticles, patches of dry skin, smooth flyaways, keep brows in place, and even as an emergency makeup remover.  It’s perfect for ladies with psoriasis to help soothe skin! It’s soft, gentle, and the little tin gives it a luxurious feel and makes it incredibly durable for travel.

Saline Nose Spray

This is a pretty recent addition to the carry-on essentials list and not super glamorous. About two years ago, I started to get incredibly painful headaches and facial pain upon descent on airplanes, no matter what. My husband’s grandmother recommended a simple saline spray… and it works like a charm. About 30 minutes before landing, I pop this guy out, spray twice and relax.

I later learned this headache actually has a name: Aerosinusitis or an airplane headache, as it is commonly known. What happens is some folks are unable to equalize the change in barometric pressure when a plane begins to land, and that causes pain around the eyes and face. It typically clears up within 30 minutes of landing.

Snacks on Snacks on Snacks

Airplane snacks and meals can be expensive and if you have food allergies, finding gluten free or dairy free food can be a challenge! Some of my favorite travel snacks are nut mixes, oatmeal, popcorn, jerky and dried veggies and fruit. For morning flights, I love to bring a banana (or two!) from home with some of Justin’s individual nut butters; however, but bananas don’t always travel well in a purse or bag. Check out my full list of favorite traveling snacks and where to buy them in this blog post.

Overnight Essentials

Knock on wood, I’ve never had my checked luggage lost, delayed, or stolen, but I am always prepared just in case. In my carry-on, I pack the necessities that will last me overnight once I get to my destination. These overnight airplane essentials include: A comfortable tee (for pajamas or another outfit), linen shorts or leggings, underwear, bra, swimsuit, travel toothbrush, makeup and skincare basics, comb, hair ties, flip flops, mini first aid kit, and so on. And for my spoonies: Always, always, always carry all of your medications (even over-the-counter meds) in your carryon or personal item.

Backpack

For the longest time, I only traveled with “cute” or designer bags. After I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, my doctors suggested I stop carrying heavy bags on my shoulders. I love fashion, so I was devastated. …Until I realized the joy in traveling with an adorable backpack. Backpacks – or bookbags – are 100% in now. They make travel so. much. easier. And so much less painful!

I picked up a Herschel backpack in a gorgeous gray and can fit all of the airplane essentials on this list, plus a few other essentials like my laptop, notebooks, and more with room to spare. I typically check my larger luggage because arthritis can make it difficult for me to lift and carry for hours on end, so having an easy-to-transport piece of luggage as my carryon has changed airplane travel for me.

What are some of your favorite airplane essentials?

Home Office Inspiration

Home Office Inspiration for the modern woman from Brenda Dalton - brendadalton.com

When we were house hunting a year ago, the thing that sold me on our house we eventually bought was the little home office set away from all the action of the living areas. However, ten months later, I still haven’t done much in terms of decorating. Things are getting a little out of control, guys. I need some major home office inspiration.

I run my graphic design and digital marketing business, 835 Creative, out of my home office. Over the last year, it has grown (yay!) but the paperwork, inspiration pieces and more are piling up with nowhere to be stored. Plus, my office has no straight theme. Not even a hint of a vibe. I know, it’s sad, and most days I end up working in other parts of the house because of the disorganized mess.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting inspiration and all the steps I’m taking to give my home office a major makeover, making it a serene and beautiful place to work every day! I’m so excited to share this journey with you.

Before we can even dive into even thinking about buying furniture and decor though, home office inspiration is a must. Who better to gain home office inspiration from than my fellow bloggers and boss ladies?

Home office inspiration for the modern woman

Home Office Inspiration from Polished Habitat - polishedhabitat.com

Functional & Fabulous Office from Polished Habitat

Melissa from Polished Habitat transformed her shared office into a beautiful space for her to work, create and prepare orders for her Etsy shop. This classic, feminine design is beautiful, well-organized and functional! Check out more from her office reveal by visiting her website.

 

Craft Room and Office Space from Thrifty Decor Chick

Sarah’s craft room went through several transformations before turning into this farmhouse-inspired, cleanly decorated multi-purpose room. It features space to work, craft, wrap gifts with enough room for two people, plus a dreamy window seat to relax.

 

Meet Interior Designer Laura Burleson on SarahSarna.com | Photo by Alyssa Rosenheck

Light, Bright Office by Laura Burleson

This gorgeous, light-filled office was featured by Sarah Sarna. The light fixture reflects the gorgeous gold accents to give the room a pop of color. Having enough desk space to spread your work out is ideal for makers and creatives. And a cute little window doesn’t hurt either!

 

How to Make a Small Office Space Work from The Fashionista's Diary | thefashionistasdiary.com

How to Make a Small Office Space Work from The Fashionista’s Diary

Lauren from The Fashionista’s Diary nailed her small office space. Carved out of a corner of her bedroom, this airy, feminine space packs a punch in storage, yet still allows her personality to shine through.

 

Historic Ivy Flat Designed by Alice Lane Home

Show N’ Tell Historic Ivy Flat from Alice Lane Home

Despite working with a tiny area, this precious office from Alice Lane Home features the trending “millennial pink” on the walls, a vintage light fixture and a statement mirror to reflect light around the room. This gorgeous interior design proves that you can make even the smallest of office spaces glam and functional!

Old Millennial Playlist | Spotify

This Old Millennial playlist is part of our series of Spotify playlists for every occasion.
View the whole series here!

Old Millennial Playlist - Spotify Music - Brendadaltoncom

 

Those of us on the early end of the millennial spectrum – ahem, old millennials – can get a lot of flack. We grew up without cell phones, can remember when AOL launched, and probably didn’t have social media until college (or later). As a lovely little throwback, here you have the old millennial playlist.

For those of us in our thirties, you can remember when these songs came out. Perhaps you even recorded them onto a cassette from the radio… because we hadn’t been blessed with Spotify quite yet.

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me to send them this playlist after hearing it, I’d have enough to buy a couple of outfits from Delia*s.

Download the old millennial playlist!

This old millennial playlist is perfect for rolling the windows down manually in your car and getting lost because we didn’t have navigation or a printout from MapQuest (or Google Maps, I guess).

Add this playlist to your faves and let the reminiscing begin! This playlist has pop favorites, one-hit-wonders, ’90s rock and a few early 2000s gems. Featuring Oasis, Beastie Boys, Mariah Carey, Dixie Chickens, *NSYNC, Hanson, Jewel, Missy Elliott, Britney Spears, Train, and many more.

 

Free Activities in Tulsa, Oklahoma | City Guide | Tulsa, OK

Free activities and events in Tulsa, Oklahoma

City Guide - Free Activities and Events in Tulsa, Oklahoma | Photo credit Kenyon Gerbrandt

Photo by Kenyon Gerbrandt

I was born and raised in Tulsa – or T-Town, Oil Capital of the World – and despite a few years in Texas, I’ve lived here most of my adult life. In the last ten years, Tulsa has seen a resurgence across the board in entertainment, free activities, events, and restaurants.

If you haven’t visited northeastern Oklahoma, I recommend you get here ASAP, especially to enjoy any of the free events throughout the year. Many of the sights and sounds can be taken in on a weekend trip, whether you’re looking for a quick couples vacation or a family-friendly vacay. Here is a list of the best free activities and free things to do in Tulsa.

Free activities in Tulsa

Photo by Raymond Bucko, SJ, Free activities and activities in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Photo by Raymond Bucko, SJ

Visit a museum

Philbrook Museum is a beautiful, historic mansion, once home to oil pioneer Waite Phillips and wife Genevieve nestled near Tulsa’s Brookside neighborhood. There’s something for everyone at Philbrook: Classic and modern artwork, key architecture, more than 20 acres of lush gardens.

Visit Philbrook Museum on the second Saturday of each month for free. On Second Saturdays, they offer kid-friendly activities, tours, scavenger hunts, and more!

Gilcrease Museum is the counterpart of Philbrook, located just northwest of downtown Tulsa. Like Philbrook – and many other things in Tulsa – Gilcrease has a oil pioneer background, having been founded by oilman Thomas Gilcrease as a private museum.

The museum sits on several hundred acres, including the 23-acre garden surrounding the museum and 136-acre Stuart Park, a great place to picnic before or after a visit! Gilcrease Museum is one of the largest collections of American artwork.

On the third Sunday of every month, visit for free as part of Funday Sundays. The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. on Funday Sundays and offers free activities and scavenger hunts for kids.

Take in the sights and sounds at a festival

Tulsa is home to dozens of festivals, many of which have no admission fee!

In May, you’ll never be short of festivals to visit. First up, Tulsa’s crown jewel: Mayfest. Over the course of four days, Mayfest features classic festival food, live music, dancers and most importantly, artwork from around the globe.

The Blue Dome Arts Festival takes place in – surprise! – the Blue Dome District in downtown Tulsa. Typically held the same weekend as Mayfest, you’ll find a more alternative take on the arts festival with more Tulsa and Oklahoma-based artists and food trucks.

And to wrap up the May festivals in Tulsa, The Hop Jam is not to be missed. A newer event to Tulsa’s festival scene, The Hop Jam is a one-day craft beer and music festival held in the Brady Arts District. Founded by Tulsa music darlings, Hanson, the festival features dozens of craft brewers for those of legal drinking age and a full-day performances from a rotating lineup each year, with Hanson as the headliner. Yep, it’s a free concert, too.

Tulsa is home to some of the top festivals in the country; however, they aren’t all free. Looking for more fun and have a little more moolah to spend? Don’t miss Oktoberfest, Greek Festival, Renaissance Festival.

Tulsa Tough - Free Activities and Events in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Ride it out with Tulsa Tough

In the summer, don’t forget to check out Tulsa Tough, held the second weekend in June. Featuring professional and amateur cyclists from across the world, Tulsa Tough is one of the most popular cycling events in the United States.

The Blue Dome Criterium is an exciting, family-friendly race that takes a figure-eight around downtown Tulsa – a favorite of locals. If you’re looking for a party atmosphere, Cry Baby Hill on Sunday is legendary. Mind the gap and don’t forget to take Monday off after the weekend activities!

Find your way to the Center of the Universe

Have you ever heard your voice echo with no cave in sight? In Tulsa, it’s totally possible. It’s an unobtrusive, blink-and-you-miss it round piece of concrete in downtown Tulsa right next to the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. Stand on the concrete that’s surrounded by brick, say a few things and hear it echo and amplify right back to you.

The fun isn’t just in the circle, either. For those who are standing outside the circle, you’ll hear close to nothing or a distorted voice coming from another location.

Look for the “Artificial Cloud” statue – a black cloud shape atop a pole – near the Jazz Hall of Fame and you can’t miss it. It’s a bit of a hidden gem, but one of the best free activities in Tulsa.

Take in nature at Turkey Mountain

Unlike our western Oklahoma friends, Tulsa features rolling hills, flowing creeks and rivers and some of the most beautiful landscapes in the state. Get a bird’s eye view of it all at Turkey Mountain, near 71st and Elwood on the Arkansas River.

With hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, Turkey Mountain is one of most varied of outdoor spaces in the city. This urban wilderness area offers trails for beginners and those looking for a challenge, whether you’re a biker, runner or just going for a casual stroll.

Turkey Mountain has miles of trails within the wilderness area, but also leads out across the river to River Parks, which features more than 26 miles of paved trails. These trails travel throughout Tulsa and lead to Jenks (with the Riverwalk and Oklahoma Aquarium), Sand Springs, and the soon to be completed Gathering Place of Tulsa.

Art Appreciation at the First Friday Art Crawl

On the first Friday of each month, head downtown to Tulsa’s Brady district and you’ll find the streets buzzing. During the First Friday Art Crawl, all of the art galleries, museums, and shops stay open late (and free) with special exhibitions, activities, and best of all, free admission!

If you’ve never visited Tulsa’s art district, First Fridays are the best way to take in the Woody Guthrie Center, Philbrook Downtown, Hardesty Arts Center (AHHA) and so many more. The art crawl takes place 6-9 p.m. Get there early to beat the crowds or hang around the whole time to take in street musicians and impromptu performance art.

Wind in and out of the galleries and museums, grab a bite to eat at the many restaurants, and end at one of Tulsa’s many gems: Guthrie Green.

Work out, watch a movie, listen to music at Guthrie Green

Guthrie Green is an urban park in Tulsa’s downtown Brady District and offers every free activity under the sun. From weekday bootcamps to evening summer movies, the park has free events almost every day of the week in the spring and summer months.

Movies in the park happen on a weekly basis – bring a lawn chair, blanket, and a snack for the full experience. Free fitness classes include yoga, ZUMBA, bootcamp, self-defence and more with no RSVP required. Sunday concerts are filled with summer nostalgia as you listen to a different band as the sun sets. Check out the full event schedule here.

Guthrie Green is the host of dozens of events and mini festivals throughout the year, including 5Ks, Oysterfest, Austin City Limits Live!, Blue Whale Comedy Festival, Route 66 Marathon, and many more.

Though the Brady District has some of Tulsa’s best restaurants, Guthrie Green has dining on site with tacos, nachos, macaroni & cheese, and other scrumptious offerings from Mr. Nice Guys. Food Truck Wednesdays are a can’t-miss at lunchtime every Wednesday, offering one of the largest gatherings of food trucks in Tulsa.

Rosemary Beach, Florida | City Guide | 30A

Where to dine, shop and play in Rosemary Beach, Florida

This is the final post in a City Guide series on Florida’s 30A. This post: Rosemary Beach, Florida. View previous posts in the series: Seaside, Alys Beach

City Guide to Rosemary Beach Florida 30A - Places to eat Where to Shop BrendaDaltoncom

Rosemary Beach is a lovely mix of locals, weekenders and vacationers and could possibly be the quietest, most peaceful community on Florida’s 30A. The folks are friendly, happy to give recommendations whether you’re walking the sidewalks beneath the beautiful canopied trees or chatting with a sommelier at Wild Olives Market & Cafe.

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A
It’s a beautifully idealistic community on either side of 30A, designated by the Gulf side or the Park side and like Alys Beach, is the home of a number of breathtaking pools and parks. A morning walk around the Park Side of Rosemary Beach will lead you to a butterfly garden, fountains that make you feel like you’re on an adventure in a little Italian town and even a community garden with fresh veggies.
With a fitness and tennis center located within the community for residents and guests, you could spend weeks in Rosemary without ever having to hop in a car. In fact, one trip we spent four nights in Rosemary Beach and never once used our rental car until we were heading back to the airport!
Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide
When we first arrived at Rosemary Beach, we stopped by the Rosemary Beach Cottage Rental Company to pick up our keys to our adorable little carriage house nestled in the park side of the community. Just a block from the town center, it was a convenient location – just like all rental properties offered in Rosemary Beach – and was well-decorated and well-stocked with essentials. It even had an adorable balcony that overlooked the community. They offer a wide variety of carriage houses and larger homes, whether it’s a girls getaway, a romantic weekend or a big multi-family vacation and have top-notch customer service (and free movie rentals and bicycles!).

Our carriage house just a two minute walk from a number of shops on the park side. Some not-to-miss places are the Rosemary Beach Trading Company, Hissyfits Boutique for the littles, The Hidden Lantern Bookstore and Vivo Spa & Salon. It was especially convenient in the morning to take a short walk to Amavida Coffee & Tea!

And y’all, if you’re in Rosemary Beach on Saturdays, you must visit the Farmers Market. We had just finished brunch when we walked through the dozens of vendors and even though I wasn’t hungry, I walked away with countless number of gluten-free goodies. Blueberry hand pies, macarons, infused vinegars and oils and more fresh fruits and vegetables than you could wave a stick at!

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide

Havana Beach Bar & Grill

One of the most recognizable buildings on Rosemary Beach’s gulf side is The Pearl Hotel with its black and white striped canopies. The hotel is nestled closest to the Gulf of Mexico on Main Street, which is the home of Havana Beach Bar & Grill.

Havana Beach is incredibly accommodating when it comes to food allergies. Not only does it have an incredibly view of the Western Green and Gulf of Mexico from the covered patio, but the decor is luxurious and furniture plush. The staff was so friendly and absolutely on point; however, I’d highly recommend reservations for brunch, especially on weekends.

When dining out, especially anywhere but home, there is always a teeny-tiny (or sometimes HUGE) worry that we’ll walk into a restaurant that has stated gluten-free options, but the staff or servers aren’t up-to-date on the safety behind it. This is definitely not the case at Havana Beach. Once I asked for gluten-free options, our sweet server knew them off the top of his head, then mentioned he would speak to the chef to triple check. They even have a gluten-free bread!

And y’all, this was one of the best brunches I’ve ever had. On top of having a create-your-own Bloody Mary bar, delicious mimosas and fresh squeezed juice, the food itself was five-star. They pride themselves on farm-to-table ingredients, from the eggs and meat to even the honey.

Their menus feature a Cuban and Spanish flare, no matter the season. I had the huevos revueltos con chorizo, which essentially translates to a chorizo omelet. The chorizo was deliciously spicy and the onions and peppers mixed in had a slight crunch that made it even more savory.

If the patio is packed, head up to the rooftop for a brunch cocktail and food. The views are just as lovely and the atmosphere a little more casual.

Havana Beach Bar & Grill gluten-free musts: Ask your server what’s available for the season. Their menu rotates quite often, but you can’t go wrong with your server’s suggestion. The Bloody Mary bar is a can’t-miss.

La Crema Tapas & Chocolate at Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A

 

La Crema Tapas & Chocolate

It’s something wonderful when a restaurant is not only knowledgable about gluten-free, but has a gluten-free menu, especially with more items than just salads! La Crema Tapas & Chocolate’s gluten-free menu is quite expansive. Tapas (smaller bites), Grand Tapas (entrees), desserts, and a kid-friendly menu. The only problem was choosing what to have for dinner. In fact, anytime we visit Rosemary Beach, Florida, the trip isn’t complete without a dinner at La Crema.

If you’ve never had tapas before, it’s a shareable affair – they recommend sharing several appetizers and entrees with the table, which makes it a fun experience because you don’t have to choose just one. We split several small tapas before enjoying our own appetizer; however, the entree could have easily been split, too!

The serrano-wrapped figs are definitely something to write home about! It’s perfectly sweet, savory and a hint of spice (but not too much spice). The La Crema salad was perfectly fresh with a light balsamic vinaigrette with sweet walnuts, goat cheese and cranberries. Both tapas were small enough not to fill two of us up, but large enough to cull our appetites before the main course.

Both tapas paired perfectly with their red sangria. It was fresh, fruity and not too sweet, a perfect complement to the warm spring evening. Since you’ll be dining for a while, I recommend sharing a carafe!

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A

The wonderful thing about La Crema is that they don’t rush you as you enjoy dinner in the cozy, patio seating. It’s the perfect place to people watch on Main Street in Rosemary Beach. When dining at La Crema, plan to give yourself at least an hour and a half to two hours to fully enjoy the experience. Tapas are meant to be savored, with life moving a little bit slower in the best way possible.

In terms of  entrees, the paellas are gluten-free, filling and, wonderfully spicy and savory. As a lighter entree, the lamb lollipops are not to be missed either, especially with the red wine reduction. As for the non-gluten-free diners, the lobster was a winner. Overall, the Grand Tapas servings are quite large and meant to be shared. Our plates weren’t eaten clean because… hello, chocolate fondue.

Yes, us gluten-free folks can have fondue here! You absolutely cannot eat at La Crema without having the chocolate fondue – it’s what they’re known for. We went with the classic milk chocolate, which – as a gluten-free option – came with apples, bananas and strawberries and marshmallows, which replaced the typical poundcake.

By the time we finished our meal at 7:30, there were plenty of folks waiting for a table. They do have a waiting list, which makes it easy to put your name on the list and jump down to another shop, take a quick walk on the beach just down the street or stop for a drink elsewhere while you wait.

All in all, La Crema is definitely a can’t-miss for any gluten-free diners in Rosemary Beach!

La Crema Tapas & Chocolate gluten-free musts: Sangria, serrano-wrapped figs, lamb lollipops, chocolate fondue.

Rosemary Beach Florida - A Gluten Free Travel Guide on 30A

Last minute tips for a perfect stay on 30A in Rosemary Beach:

  • Get to the beach early: Take advantage of the beach chair rentals when you stay with Rosemary Beach, but bring a credit card – they don’t take cash!
  • Rent a carriage house for a romantic getaway for two and enjoy the pools, fitness center, tennis facility and beach access
  • Check out the weekly wine tastings at Wild Olives every Friday from 5-7 p.m.

Disclaimer: Always contact restaurants in advance for their current gluten-free options and alert the restaurants you’re dining at if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. Reviews on brendadalton.com do not guarantee a cross contamination-free zone and complete safety from gluten or wheat.

Best Gluten-Free Snacks for Traveling

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Despite the fact that I work in my home office, I have been traveling a ton which means access to gluten-free snacks can be a major challenge.

The Best On The Go Gluten-Free Snacks - brendadaltoncom - Brendadalton.com

 

You’ll find a minimum of three snacks on me at any given time, no matter the size of my purse, mostly because you can’t let that blood sugar get too low!

I’ve learned which gluten-free snacks travel incredibly well and which snacks… well, don’t look like anything edible after two hours in my bag.

Almonds & Mixed Nuts

This snack is a given. For those without a nut allergy, almonds are most likely the easiest to transport – in a bag! in a can! in your hand! – and they won’t freeze, melt or get crushed. Lately, I’ve become obsessed with Target’s Raw Mixed Nuts in individual packets. They’re incredibly easy to throw a few in my handbag when I’m out and about running errands.

Oatmeal

Okay, so this isn’t necessarily a snack, but when traveling, one of the hardest things to find sometimes can be a gluten-free breakfast! With most coffee shops and airports only offering pastries and breakfast sandwiches, it’s hard to know what’s safe to eat first thing in the morning. And who wants to start the morning getting glutened? Bakery on Main’s Gluten Free Oatmeal has outperformed every other gluten-free oatmeal I’ve tried over the years, in taste and texture. The peach and strawberry flavors are my favorite and aren’t as sugar-filled as some other flavored oatmeal; however, you can never beat a plain oatmeal with a drizzle of maple syrup and berries mixed in.

Popcorn

Is popcorn easily transportable? Yes! Grab individually wrapped SkinnyPop bags and you’re good to go. They can easily fit in a tote or backpack for the day and I’ve even traveled all day on several planes and found the popcorn miraculously doesn’t get squished. One of life’s great mysteries is how SkinnyPop can make such perfectly delicious popcorn with so few calories.

Jerky

One of the easy snacks I missed once I developed my gluten allergy was beef jerky. Did you know that smoke flavoring and/or soy sauce are in a majority of jerky brands and isn’t safe if you’re celiac or have a severe allergy? Yeah, I know, total bummer. It took me a long time to find gluten-free beef jerky, period, and it took even longer to find my favorites: Duke’s and Lorissa’s Kitchen. Both brands are gluten-free, low sugar and much healthier than your regular convenience store jerky, plus they offer unique flavors like Hatch Green Chili, Cajun and Andouille sausage (Duke’s) and Szechuan Peppercorn (Lorissa’s). Bonus: Duke’s comes in big bags and single servings!

Harvest Snaps

Secret confession: I never liked peas until I tried Harvest Snaps. Seriously, guys. They’re a life changer. For those of you with an addiction to chips of any kind, swap them out for Harvest Snaps for a healthy alternative to knock out those salty, savory cravings. They’re low carb, high protein, and low sugar and are tasty on their own or paired with hummus, dip or even salsa. At this point, they have at least a bazillion flavors covering three categories: Lentil, Snapea (my personal favorite!), and black bean.


Tell me: What are YOUR must-have gluten-free snacks when you’re out and about?