29 June 2011

Temporarily Husbandless

You may have noticed that my posts are a couple weeks behind. I've had so many stories to share about our first impressions of Lebanon and rather than bombard you with them all at once, I chose to stick to my usual posting schedule. Soon time will catch up with me, but it may take awhile because I am temporarily husbandless.

Yes, Scott has been and will continue to be away for a few weeks in Southern California. He is part of a chosen group of students participating in a condensed first year anatomy course at the main Western University campus in Pomona, called ISAC (Intensive Summer Anatomy Course). Western University offers a couple of summer courses that provide additional learning opportunities outside of the normal curriculum. We've been told that in the future these programs will be offered in Lebanon, but couldn't be this summer because the building is still in the final construction stages. These programs pretty much sealed the admission's deal for Scott. So far he's really enjoyed the program and the students he's met there.

You may be wondering why I didn't go with him. All along I've been planning to stay in Lebanon with the intent to job hunt. I'm glad I did! I've had the opportunity to apply and interview for professional jobs that may not have been available to me if I were still in Cali. But new (decent) jobs in Lebanon come about as often as sunny days here. So I've also spent a good deal of time in my apartment, bored senseless, creating new hobbies.

Exhibit A: Container Gardening

Remember that strawberry plant I bought at Newport's farmers market? Well I found this apple basket at a thrift store downtown that was screaming for a strawberry plant to be put in it.

I really haven't ever planted things before. When I was younger my dad and I would plant potatoes and snow peas in old tires in our backyard. Sitka doesn't exactly have gardening weather or terrain. Tire plots probably don't qualify as experience though since my dad and Miracle Grow did all the work. I just reaped the rewards. So what I'm saying is, I'm not going to post on my blog when these plants die.

I also bought an orchid on craigslist. I watched several YouTube videos instructing on when and how to repot and orchid. There wasn't any bloom when I purchased it, and it had dried roots coming out of every hole in the pot. I squelched boredom for an hour (or two counting videos and shopping) repotting this orchid. I will post another blog if this baby ever blooms!

My deck also features a lavender plant and SO much basil (thank you Target dollar section!). This occupied some time, but after awhile I decided I was spending too much time watching it grow and nit-picking. So I supplemented with another hobby.

Exhibit B: Cooking

Daily I'm checking couponing blogs for deals to snag. A few weeks ago I noticed that whole chickens were on sale for a great price. My sister-in-law Annie had made a fabulous roasted chicken in the crock pot when we visited for New Years, so I thought I would buy a couple small chickens and try it out. One for now as a tester, and another one for when Scott comes home. If he likes it I'll watch for more good chicken deals.

I used this recipe, and I think it came out GREAT! I may have overdone the salt and rosemary a tad, but that's why this was a tester.

I put the chicken in the crock pot in the morning, and by 5:00 pm it was falling off the bone. My home smelled like caramel! Not sure why, but it was giving me a nasty sweet tooth craving! I decided to add the red potatoes, but only added them about 90 minutes before I wanted to eat. Worked out perfect! I'll definitely do it again.

The only problem with my cooking hobby is that I'm the only one here to eat my creations. I also feel bad debriefing my culinary masterpieces with Scott during our nightly conversations. He's chosen to live off ramen while in ISAC, so I only share cooking successes if necessary.

Then there's blogging, blog READING, book reading, thrift store shopping, and Internet searching. This has pretty much been my life for the last little bit. But it was all worth the wait, because I got a job offer! In fact, I start work on Friday. Very exciting! I will update soon.

27 June 2011

Good & Miner U-Pick Strawberries

What to do on an overcast day in June? U-pick strawberries, of course. Good and Miner is one of the many local strawberry fields/stands in Lebanon. Oregonians are very proud of their superior strawberries. I was once told by a local that you couldn't find a better strawberry especially not in California, as Oregon strawberries are sweet and red to the center, never white in the middle. At $1 lb, u-pick, it doesn't get much better!

I came prepared with a vessel to transport my strawberries back home, and Good and Miner provided the buckets for picking. When I grabbed my bucket, the man at the stand made sure to tell me that I should be testing the crop as I went along! Bonus pounds of strawberries were definitely ingested onsite! Though I wasn't prepared with knee pads, I still managed to pick six pounds of strawberries (not included the ones I tasted) in less than an hour.

This particular strawberry field is huge, with many rows of unpicked strawberries. They also had a stand open if you'd rather just pick up a box of pre-picked specimens. But where's the fun in that? The Good and Miner stand is located just down the street from my apartment complex. It's just off of South Santiam Highway, and actually right on the other side of the cemetery.

A little too close in proximity to our deceased loved ones, but I'm willing to overlook that with how wonderful these strawberries tasted! I spent the afternoon removing the stems, then froze three pounds whole for future smoothies, two pounds sliced in a little sugar for future desserts, and I ate berries and cream for lunch! Mmm.

If you ever are visiting me in June/July (strawberry season) I promise to take you to get strawberries. Picking is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon, especially if you have some mini-me helpers to fill your bucket!

Update: Sadly, Good & Miner went out of business in 2012.

24 June 2011

Lebanon Public Library

Picture taken by me June 2011

Lebanon's Public Library quickly became one of Scott's favorite places in Lebanon. Western University has it's own reference shelf there with all sorts of biology and chemistry books. Our first few weeks here as Scott prepared for his intensive summer anatomy course, we visited the library DAILY! Scott would spend his time reading the reference books (and said it was "fun") and I would peruse the library's collection of novels, cookbooks, magazines, and videos. Conveniently the library is located two blocks from the medical school. So Scott can come study here any time he wants.

Can you tell that Scott was concerned at my taking pictures inside the library? It wasn't like I was talking loudly on my cell phone! I had to show you what a beautiful interior the library has to match it's serene exterior. The library building is rather new, though I forgot to check the plaque outside to see the dedication date. It has beautiful stained glass windows above, giving plenty of natural light. Then there is a lovely fireplace area with leather chairs for relaxing while you read magazines.

The library also has a space for it's many newspaper subscriptions and a bin where the library discards all the advertisements. You know what that means, ladies! I limit myself to one set of newspaper coupons, out of courtesy. I know that others are using this resource as well because when we've visited the library at the end of the week I noticed that all the other sets of coupons were gone.

I have a good feeling that the library will be a frequent destination of ours, especially when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

22 June 2011

Weekly Curb Appeal

I see this house weekly and I think it is the cutest home with serious curb appeal. I had to "drive by shoot," so sorry for the photo quality.

I heart:

-the rustic lincoln log fence
-street lamp
-front porch (I'm a sucker for porches, especially those that wrap around)
-massive mature tree to frame the corner
-how they put red flowers in front to add a pop of color
-the symmetrical lamps in the front windows 

What's not to love?

20 June 2011

Need A Bubble Break

Tell me if this is old news to you... I saw this public health commercial for the first time when I rented The Secret Life of Bees from our public library. The commercial is a production of California's Tobacco Free campaign. The music is available on their site for free download.

I had to laugh at the thought of a stressed out employee needing to take a "bubble break" possibly in the sectioned off bubbling area. The world would definitely be a better place if there were tubes of bubbles instead of packs of cigarettes and there were spare bottles in the car to blow bubbles at happy, healthy toddlers.

17 June 2011

102 Annual Strawberry Festival

The first full weekend in June marks the Strawberry Festival in Lebanon, Oregon. You know a city is great when it has a festival to celebrate the strawberry! The festival features a carnival and country fair, running races, organization sales, and Lebanon takes it one step further by making the World's Largest Strawberry Shortcake and marching it through the town in a grand parade.

We enjoyed the two-hour parade with some of the faculty and future students of Western University's Northwest campus. The theme for this year's festival was Strawberries in Paradise. Most of the floats and race contestants were decked out in grass skirts, flowers, and other tropical accessories. Here are some of my favorite moments from the parade:

Pictured above are Western University faculty and future students participating in the one mile and 5K race that preceded the parade on Main Street.

A video clip of the World's Largest Strawberry Shortcake and the Dean of Western University from Pomona

Animal Shelter puppies!

We had the great pleasure of sitting next to the parade announcers and radio show and enjoying their commentary and local insight on all of the floats and participants. One of my favorite announcer moments during the parade was the introduction of this participant, "Look ya'll another tractor!" Welcome to Lebanon, blogland.

Cute dance group, over the rainbow theme (note the strawberry clouds)
THE American Hero, literally on top of his carpet cleaning van making muscle poses without the assistance of a holding bar! So awesome!
Horses and cowgirls
Apparently clowns Patches and Ginger and their doll car have never missed a Strawberry Festival parade as long as the announcers could remember.
Astoria clown playing an organ (instrument has a special clown name, which I completely forgot) on the back of the clown car
Mini strawberry car
And the greatest, most laughable moment in this parade... the float "Labor in Paradise" sponsored by a local hospital birth center. I'm pretty sure that woman in the hammock was not in labor nor actually pregnant, but she was convincing enough that I was concerned for her welfare!

The tradition is that the after the parade travels through Main Street, the world's largest shortcake is sliced up and served to locals until it has disappeared. We actually didn't get to enjoy this healthy tradition, since it required traveling through the parade route to the carnival grounds at the other side of town. But if the strawberry shortcake was anything like what I've tasted at Burgerville, then I can only imagine that it was scrumptious!

There you have it folks, our first Strawberry Festival in Lebanon, Oregon.

15 June 2011

Downtown Corvallis

There are farmer's markets in all the nearby cities, but Corvallis is home to the largest of them. It spans two or three (wasn't really counting) blocks of 1st Street downtown.

Downtown Corvallis (30 minutes away, and pictured above) looks very similar to downtown Albany (15 minutes away). A tree-lined street, where old brick buildings sport antique hanging signs or strategically placed sandwich boards out front. Another commonality between Albany and Corvallis is the plethora of quaint furniture stores and bike shops. Not to mention, the typical overcast sky.

13 June 2011

Ixtapa in Lebanon

While my mom was visiting and helping us move in, we decided we would venture to a local restaurant, where the parking lot was always packed - Ixtapa. After surveying friends and family, we found that Ixtapa is not a Spanish word for external coverings, but rather a city near Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. It also happens to be a chain of Mexican restaurants in Oregon and Washington.

We had heard excellent things about the Ixtapa in Lebanon! The manager at Chase bank told us he highly recommended the place. He also mentioned that the restaurant has been newly renovated and now has double the space it used to have. On the day that we visited Ixtapa, the crew was making finishing touches to the new landscaping outside.

Sorry, photos were taken on Scott's phone

We were greeted, sat down to order, and enjoyed our chips and salsa. The menu is full of great options, though the menu pictures are old and not the best quality to stir one's appetite. My first order of business was to try Ixtapa's guacamole. A guacamole test has to be the truest method for Mexican restaurant validity. The guacamole was PERFECT! The avocado had such a pure taste that wasn't drowned out with spices. It was creamy and fresh, almost a palate cleanser after a bite of spicy salsa.

Before my hair cut... have I mentioned how much I love my new haircut?

I'm pretty sure that picture was taken after I had already devoured half the guacamole. It was GoOod! Our orders arrived, and the portions were much larger than we expected! We each had a large plate of food, even Scott who had just ordered an ala carte burrito. It was most definitely the size of an entree, rather than a side... which would explain why Ixtapa didn't put the "side" burrito in the extras section of their menu. Mmm! All the food was delicious and completely fulfilled my Mexican food cravings. We were stuffed!

But to top it all off, our waiter stopped by with the check and a complimentary dessert!

We each enjoyed a fried cinnamon chip with fresh whipped cream drizzled in strawberry sauce. We managed to fit that in! Heavenly, really. The perfect end to a great meal, and just another reason for you to come visit us in Lebanon!

10 June 2011

Fish and Chips

Ever since moving to Oregon, Scott and I have seen signs and advertisements to visit the coast of Oregon, specifically Newport. Newport happens to be a straight shot west from Lebanon, and only an hour and half drive. So after seeing this display of Oregonian humor on television I decided that Scott and I should take a trip to Newport for Memorial Day weekend.

Strangely, the commercial gave me a strong craving for fish and chips. I felt secure knowing that the fish selection in Newport would be fresh, practically Alaskan. The halibut was probably on it's way up to Sitka anyway.

The drive to Newport was lovely! The scenery here astounds me! It doesn't feel like anything I've really seen before. The rainforest reminds me of Sitka. The farm lands remind me of Utah, and yet there are rolling hills and so many beautiful barns and cottages that seem out of place in any of the other states we lived.

Then we arrived at the coast and Scott was memorized by the waves. He kept commenting on how much bigger the waves appeared here than when we vacationed in Maui. The beach and lighthouse reminded me of Maine, but everyone walking along the beach wore winter coats. The end of May and it was still quite cold, more so because of the wind.

The woman who took our picture came from Eugene. She said, like Lebanon, Eugene had been raining that morning when their family left for the coast. The local saying though, is that if it's raining inland, Newport must have great weather. And it was beautifully sunny!

Of course we stopped off at a little fish and chips hut that was recommended on the internet. We had the halibut and chips. It was good, but I think Gaby Chandler's homemade recipe that I've stolen is better.

On our way home, I begged Scott to stop at the farmer's market! I can't avoid a good farmer's market, and Newport's did not disappoint. There were probably fifteen booths total, but the area was well represented. There were crepes, fresh squeezed lemonade, grilled pizza, a bakery, and lots of little plant and craft booths. As we were walking around I saw a couple selling strawberry plants for $1.50! A steal price! I didn't even think about it... just had Scott hand over the money.

I'm hoping to transplant into a strawberry pot someday so this new addition can build a family! Overall it was a very fun and successful trip to Newport!

08 June 2011

A View from Behind

This is a shot of the backside of our apartment complex from the highway into Lebanon. No, not the small white shed. We live in one of the larger two buildings behind that shed. There are six buildings total in our complex. Cascade Ridge Apartments are located on the western edge of Lebanon, just off South Santiam Highway that leads downtown. Kind of gives you an idea for our view from the sofa chaise, not to mention a snippet of what Lebanon looks like in the summer.

Our back porch view at sunset

06 June 2011


Where have you been all my life, Burgerville? My mom, Scott, and I chanced upon Burgerville on our first trip to Albany (about 15 minutes west of Lebanon). We were hungry, looking for a place to stop and eat lunch, and Burgerville happened to be the first fast food restaurant we saw. It was destiny!

First a little background: Burgerville is a chain of restaurants in Washington and Oregon, which would explain why I have never seen nor eaten here until moving to Lebanon. Burgerville's mission statement really says it all "Fresh - Local - Sustainable." All of Burgerville's packaging is recyclable/recycled materials. Ingredients are sourced locally and efforts are made for sustainable farming and eating practices. Burgerville is also very involved in local charities and environmental causes. With a mission like that, and good tasting food to boot, I began to wonder how many tree huggers have turned carnivore under Burgerville's roof.

I knew we had hit gold even from the parking lot, where there were signs for fresh Alaskan halibut (not farmed, they were specific), farm fresh salads, the season special featuring local strawberry desserts, and Tillamook Cheeseburgers. Even though I was already professing love based on the advertisements, I decided I would take a bite first before blogging about the place. I saw, I ate, I blogged. Fantastico! They even show your order's caloric intake on your receipt (mine reported minus 17 calories for requesting no ketchup on my Tillamook cheeseburger)!

I can't say enough good things about Burgerville! At our anniversary Burgerville lunch Scott said to me, "I don't know why you like this place so much. The burger isn't much better than Burger King." Blasphemous! He said it had to be mostly psychological due to my great love and bias towards Tillamook. He continued to think unreasonable thoughts, all the way up until he tried their fresh strawberry shake. Better than any he's had before, he said. He even liked it better than my fresh strawberry shortcake, topped with nonfat frozen yogurt.

Is your mouth watering yet? Though the meal will cost more than the typical fast food restaurant, Burgerville's spread is definitely worth the visit. It is my new restaurant of choice when eating out in Albany! And Burgerville is celebrating their 50th anniversary by having parties throughout the summer and fall at each of their restaurant locations. Albany's party is scheduled for October 22. Happy Birthday, Scott! We're going to Burgerville!!

03 June 2011

Visiting Our Neighbor to the North

Almost as soon as we were unpacked, we left Lebanon for a trip to Kennewick, WA to visit Scott's cousins. We had been preparing this trip since we went to Hawaii. Kennewick is so close, only three and a half hours from Portland. As it worked out, we were heading north anyways to drop off our Budget van and give my mom a ride to the Portland airport (no functioning airports near Lebanon) after her trip to help us get settled. We'd also been aching for a couples haircut and we knew that Kyle's beautiful wife Bridget was our go-to-girl! Bridget recently graduated from beauty school and is working at a salon in Kennewick.

When we arrived we found that Kyle and Bridget had an adventurous game plan for our weekend. We had the spa treatment from Bridget, with a round of eyebrow waxing for everyone and hair cuts for Scott and I.

Since Kyle knew about my debut as a high school theater critic, he arranged for us all to see a play at Hanford High in Richland. We ate multiple breakfasts out, including visiting Cavanaugh's Landing, Sharis, and the Food Network featured Spudnut shop.

And of course, we went four-wheeling and played games.
How do you like our new dos?
We had a blast! Thanks, Westovers, for planning such a fun vacation from our move! We were definitely in need of a break!