Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New Places to Eat in Lake Charles

Here in southwest Louisiana, we get pretty excited when there’s a new place to eat. I’ve tried two new restaurants recently.
First, there’s a new wiener shop in town on South Pujo St. called Botsky’s.
 
If you live in Lake Charles, you’ve probably already been there.  I’ve never been a big fan of hot dogs, but seriously, everyone has been raving about this place. They offer all types of crazy dogs (buffalo, alligator?) and even more unique and exciting toppings to choose from. Like Subway for gourmet hot dogs.
This guy was very patient while we placed our order. With a menu like that, it’s hard to decide!
 
I am often an adventurous eater, but on my recent visit (probably my one and only, not because it wasn't good, but because I generally don't eat hot dogs) I went the safe route and ordered a kid-sized turkey dog with olive salad and mustard. Bob had some sort of brat with Cajun kraut (very spicy, naturally). And the fries were very good.
 
They also have a good selection of beers on tap.
 
AND, I am thrilled to announce, after waiting six long years (since I’ve lived here), Lake Charles finally has a Panera Bread!
 
They plunked it down on Nelson Rd right beside the 210 Highway. I can’t believe such a perfect spot was still available. The place has been a madhouse since it opened close to a week ago. (I’ve been there twice already.)
In Pittsburgh, Panera is all over the city. Every neighborhood has one. And I got rather used to them when I lived there. It’s the place all the moms would meet after dropping the kids on the first day of school. My writer friends and I would meet there for coffee and critiques. I could go there and kill time with a good book or the newspaper. It’s comfortable, they play nice music, and the food is good. I love their bagels, soups, sandwiches, and salads. Love the hazelnut coffee. So, yeah, I’m pretty excited that we finally have one in Lake Charles.

 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On Becoming Empty-Nesters

So, we returned yesterday from Dallas after depositing son number two (he’s six minutes younger) at the University of Texas at Dallas. We took his brother to Southeastern Louisiana University the week prior. And suddenly, after 18+ years of raising our twin sons, we are the proverbial empty-nesters.

I remember the day Bob and I brought the boys home from the hospital. We set them on the floor of the living room in their little car seats. We sat on the couch and looked at these two newborns. And we felt an overwhelming sense of Okay, what do we do now? If my mom hadn't been there to help, we might still be sitting on that couch, trying to figure out this parenting thing.

Returning home from Dallas was a similar emotion. We walked into the house. The empty house. And we wondered – What do we do?

“Just you and me now, babe.”

“Yep, that’s it.”

The boys have become young adults. Our job as parents is essentially over. Did we teach them enough? Did we love and nurture enough? Can we remember how to simply be spouses, without the parental component? What do we do now?

Well, we’re not going to Disney World. But we are excited about the prospect of having the time to travel, explore, and discover -- just the two of us. We’re looking forward to all sorts of outings, weekend trips, vacations, and sailing excursions.

There’s no doubt about it. We’re going to miss those boys like crazy. Thanksgiving can’t come fast enough. It’s an uncertain time of transition at our house. I’m not sure yet how I feel about it. There’s a bittersweet mix of sadness and excitement. I don’t know exactly what it looks like, but knowing Bob and me, whatever we do, it will be an adventure.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Green Pea, Lake Arthur, LA


Lake Arthur is one of my favorite little Louisiana towns. I’ve been there several times: to kayak, take the boys to the beach, or simply for an ice cream cone. I LOVE the LA Regatta Restaurant. Eric and I enjoyed a delightful lunch there, then had ice cream for dessert at Sugar Chic, a sweet bakery/ice cream shop. You can read about the time I took my sons and a friend to Lake Arthur here (FYI: LA Scoops is now closed) and the time I went on a night paddle in Lake Arthur here.

When I was asked to write a story on a little art studio in Lake Arthur this week, I jumped at the chance to head southeast to this quaint village nestled on the Mermentou River.

 
Chris Zaunbrecher opened The Green Pea four years ago. It was a live-long dream of hers come true. In her quaint boutique-style studio, she teaches art classes, hosts birthday parties and art camps for kids, and encourages timid painters to draw out their creative natures and express themselves. She also teaches art at Moss Bluff Middle School.



 
To learn more about Chris and The Green Pea, find the studio on Facebook and read my story in the August 15th issue of The Louisiana Jam.