Happy 2019

Plate with pork, cornbread and greens

Lucky foods are a must for the start of the new year. Pork (forward progress), greens (spinach is our “cash”), black-eyed peas (pennies, also one of the few crops Sherman left Southerners following the Civil War), and cornbread (gold).

So far, we have been very lucky with warm, mild weather. I cleared gutters without falling off the ladder. We also witnessed a feeding frenzy at the bird feeder. Mr. McB got some great shots at the feeder. I spotted the cardinal after dinner and snapped a few pictures. I also got a photo of the squirrel who seemed unhappy that so many bids were eating from the feeder that he frequently robs.

Cardinal in the grassSquirrel

Louisiana’s Outback

Earlier this summer, we decided to explore the Creole Nature Trail. This wilderness route runs from just east of Lake Charles to Sulphur. The route has three spurs, two along the coast and one running to Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge.  The route does not have an abundance of gas stations and restaurants, so plan accordingly.

Our first stop was the Lacassine spur.  We saw a few small alligators and birds.

gravel road in Lacassinewater and lily pads in Lacassine

aquatic plant in Lacassine

Our next stop was Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. We took the Pintail Wildlife Drive. We saw several birds and an alligator. With a driving loop, the area is accessible for any visitor.

red-winged blackbird in high grass

Red-winged blackbird perched on a cattail

small orange dragonfly

Dragonfly on a reed

Glossy ibis in the sky

Glossy ibis

We drove along the coast stopping at a number of beaches, named and unnamed. We paid the admission fee to park and enjoy the Cameron Jetty. Even though we were only there for a short time, it was worth it.

pelicans in the water

Pelicans in the surf

brown pelican in the sky

Pelican

glass bottle found on beach near cameron jetty pier

If there was a message in this bottle, it disintegrated years ago.

Egrets in the gulf of Mexico

shrimp boat

Shrimp boat

After crossing the Cameron Ferry, we visited the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge before heading to our hotel in Hackberry.

bird on a pipe

 

DSC_0092DSC_0101bunny flees at Sabine Wildlife Refuge

The following morning we doubled-back to Holly Beach before heading home. I found a shark’s tooth and a number of intact shells. I would later learn that some of those were still inhabited by aquatic hermit crabs that met a sad fate.

The wildlife refuges were my favorite part of the drive. Blistering heat kept the crowds at bay making it feel like we were the only ones in the park, and sometimes we were. Some of the refuges offered photo-blinds. I would like to give them a try when fall and winter arrive.

As for the beaches, the unnamed beach stops are plentiful and offer a cleaner, more rustic experience than the named beaches. The amount of trash on some of the named beaches was disheartening. In my opinion, litterbugs are selfish, not careless.

If you want to explore the Creole Nature Trail, and I do recommend it, take plenty of water, sunscreen, and insect repellent. I also recommend having snacks in the car and not letting your fuel level dip too low.

 

War with the roses

The fun sensor in my brain may be damaged. Last Saturday morning, I wanted nothing more than to clean the tile flooring. Who gets excited about something like that? Still, it left me feeling satisfied.

This morning, I turned to the yard foolishly thinking I could beat the heat. It began innocently enough, watering plants and pulling weeds from around my moss roses/portulaca. It progressed to using the weedeater and then doing battle with the roses bushes that grow beside our front porch.

These floribunda bushes produce small hot pink roses and huge thorns. While floribunda is not my favorite rose type, I like the pop of color they provide. I sometimes cut the roses and place the fragrant blooms in my late grandmother’s small jadeite cups.

Taking care of the roses means scratches and scrapes. During our January freeze, it meant shredding an old sheet when trying to cover the bushes I continue my efforts to try to shape them, resistance also continues. This morning’s battle ended in a draw. I have a puncture wound and new scrapes, mostly on my gardening gloves; my loop cutter claimed a few old gnarly limbs. We’ll both live to fight another day.

Much respect

I was raised by a stay-at-home mom. Through our frequent moves, she was a source of stability. I never thought that her work was easier than moms who worked outside the home. Different, not easy.

Over the last month, I have been reminded how hard homemakers work. There’s always a meal to be prepared, a floor to be swept, clothes to be laundered, infernal weeds to be pulled, errands to be run… it is endless. And, I am only looking after adults. 

What happened to the Pinterest wonderland from my last stint as a trailing spouse? Anything I’ve pinned over the last word weeks deals with eradication of weeds and pests. Word to the wise, vinegar weed killer is pretty rank. Ask me about its effectiveness later this week. 

Despite my whining, I am thankful for time to find the right job. I appreciate Mr. McB for putting up with my craziness. Even though it cuts into my Pinterest time, I am fortunate to have a freelance gig.

I am also in awe of homemakers. They’ve got nothing but respect from me.

Catching up

Louisiana welcome signDespite my best intentions, I didn’t have the energy to chronicle my drive from Oregon to Louisiana with nightly posts. I have photos and stories, so those posts will come.

I have been running since arriving in Baton Rouge on the 18th. It took a few days to complete the work that Mr. McB began in the house. Most of the heavy lifting is done with just the storeroom left to organize. Some decorating remains, but it feels like home. We are establishing little routines and building the “boring” domestic life we longed for.

I forgot just how taxing daily life can be after a move. WAZE is my best friend. Though even after I find the store, I don’t know where to find the items I need. There are no quick errands when everything is foreign. In the grand scheme, this is a minor complaint, but it doesn’t ward off the anxiety and exhaustion. We all have those moments for one reason or another.

I find myself surrounded by helpful souls who are willing to aid in my transition. Their kindness and concern is overwhelming, in all the right ways. My spirits are also buoyed by thoughtful friends and technology that shrinks the distance between us. Time spent with family fills my heart with a peace and happiness that knows no words. 

A new job will come. For now I am keeping busy with the search, freelance work, settling in and caring for our little family. It’s amazing how those items manage to keep me busy.

Life is good and I am thankful for every minute.

Are we there yet?

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 9.33.15 PM

Head east on…

Here’s the drive ahead of me.

13 June Corvallis to Redmond, OR
14 June Redmond, OR to Pocatello, ID
15 June Pocatello, ID to Cortez, CO
16 June Cortez, CO to Albuquerque, NM
17 June Albuquerque, NM to Wichita Falls, TX
18 June Wichita Falls, TX to Baton Rouge, LA

Here’s a Google map that shows all the stops. I’m excited about seeing Arches and Mesa Verde.

Got a recommendation for food or sightseeing? Post it in the comments.

A lot to catch up on

“You should get back to writing on your website.”  A sweet friend, who speaks the truth

So much has happened since my last post. For starters, we are in the process of moving to Baton Rouge. Actually, I am in the process. Mr. McB is there and furiously unpacking. I love him for that.

I am a trailing spouse and on the job hunt again. That’s OK, I have been here before. I remember the lessons.

I am leaving Oregon and saying goodbye to dear friends, that is hard. I am leaving Oregon with a sense that I wasn’t tough enough for this wild place, that is equally difficult. Kind souls have told me that isn’t the case, but I can’t shake the feeling. Expect more on that as I have five days in the car to listen to loud music and think.

Feels good to shake off the cobwebs. Until later…

Various vittles

I haven’t blogged in a while and haven’t created a restaurant review in months. I am making up for lost time with several mini reviews in a series of posts. This will focus on eateries located near Corvallis.

Breakfast

In both Columbus and Greenville we had a hard time selecting a breakfast location, but for completely different reasons. In Columbus, there were too many delicious choices and in Greenville, there were too few. With a dearth of tasty breakfast restaurants, I became quite skilled at making breakfast and while my abilities grew, so did my standards.

breakfast, yogurt, egg, fruitThis is the rushed weekday breakfast at our house. Any restaurant has to beat this, and offer excellent service, to get my breakfast business.

Corvallis has both an Elmer’s and Shari’s. These are comparable to Bob Evan’s or Cracker Barrel, well maybe not quite CB. They offer a number of options ranging from indulgent to reasonably healthy. Both can have long lines on the weekends but this is to be expected, especially in the fall.

Darrell’s used to be an option for breakfast, though we only ever took advantage of breakfast- all-day and ate there in the evening. I had cheese blintz with strawberries and home fries the last time I ate there. The food memories cause my mouth to water but alas, this is no longer an option.

Tommy’s 4th Street Bar & Grill is another local diner with a big breakfast menu.  Once again, we have only eaten there in the evening. I had the crunchy strawberry French toast. The portion was more than generous; the taste was quite satisfying though the berries weren’t fresh. Here are some photos from a visit in December when I ordered a patty melt with onion rings (delicious despite the grease) and M had a massive omelette.

tommy's patty melt corvallis, or tommy's breakfast

Tommy’s allows you to select a pancake as a “side” for your breakfast. M doesn’t like potatoes so this is a fine option for him.

Finally, Philomath brings us donuts from NutCakes. These things might as well be called “crack-cakes” since there must be an illegal substance in the batter; it is the only thing that explains the amazing flavor. I have enjoyed the maple bacon donut, a must for any good donut shop in Oregon, and the buttermilk bar. Both are delicious. The bear claw was the only disappointment since I wasn’t expecting to find chopped up apples inside.

image IMG_1263 IMG_1267

There are some good options here but we still eat breakfast at home most of the time. It’s a comfortable part of our routine.

Lunch and dinner

IMG_1007While it isn’t perfect, we have made Cibelli’s our go-to pizza parlor. Their flavorful pies are made with quality ingredients. This is some of the best pizza I’ve had in Oregon but it wouldn’t touch some of the good New York style shops in Greenville. The staff is friendly and the pickup estimates are always accurate. On one visit, they accidentally made a 24″ pizza for us instead of the 14″ we ordered. I took home a monstrous pizza (would only fit in the trunk) for the price of a much smaller pie.

There are a number of brewpubs and casual dining spots in Corvallis. I was not impressed with Flat Tail Brewing, the flavors and variety weren’t there. Squirrel’s Tavern is a decent option. The tots are delicious. After an undercooked burger, I will stick with the salad. Brew BBQ is really very good. If a Southerner tells you that your BBQ joint is good, that’s a big compliment. Downward Dog has phenomenal chicken fingers with an espresso stout BBQ sauce. At $4, this healthy appetizer is a steal. The chicken is so juicy and the light smoky flavor is a great balance for the tangy sauce.

Until a few weeks ago, I was a huge fan of Sky High Brewing. The oyster po’boy was my tried-and-true selection. I finally took Mr. McB a few weeks ago and found that the oysters had a strong, unpleasant flavor; I only ate about half of my sandwich because it was so noticeable. The tots arrived lukewarm which was another big disappointment. The Mister picked pizza. At first, he really liked it but as he ate a bit more, the story changed. I took a bite and immediately tasted cinnamon, making the whole pizza taste like Skyline Chili. Thanks, but no thanks.

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IMG_1951

Two spots we really liked were Fireworks in Corvallis and The Woodsman in Philomath.
Fireworks showcases their wood fired oven with their sizable menu. Mr. McB ordered pizza. The crust was light and crispy with a zesty sauce and generous supply of peps and cheese. I had the Polynesian pulled pork. I love tangy food and this sandwich didn’t let me down. The handout fries are also made in the wood-fired oven. It’s a small place and the meals do take time so pack your patience.

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Woodsman in Philomath OregonThe Woodsman might not look like much on the outside but it is a stellar Thai restaurant. The massive portions are piled with fresh ingredients. I enjoy the pad Thai and also find the stir-fry dishes to be very flavorful. You can easily eat your fill at the restaurant and still bring home enough for a couple of lunches.

Before wrapping this up, let me cover two restaurants on Monroe near OSU. University Calzone, my tastebuds would visit weekly but my waistline won’t let me.

university calzone

Bombs Away Cafe, you gave me chips from the bottom of a bag and lukewarm queso. Your food was either bland or unappealing. For me, you are a one-and-done restaurant.

Bombs away cafe