My living room plans are just about done!  Once Clayton comes home and helps me arrange one more thing, I'll snap a whole bunch of pictures and post the album with the others.  So, if all goes according to plan (which it rarely does, but you can always wish me luck), by this time tomorrow I'll have a whole new batch of pictures up.  If you're one of the readers who checks in just to virtually size up our house, tomorrow should be a great day.  Personally, I'm looking forward to comparing the new pictures to the ones from last Christmas.  It always amazes me what a difference a little furniture makes.  Well, check back soon!
 
 
Hello, dear readers.  As you know, I've been trying to make my house more orderly.  To do this, I've been doing lots of research, mostly by reading the blogs of mommies and grandmas who have a lot more experience in this area than I.  Most of these blogs are much spiffier than mine is, and they have awesome sponsors who help with promotions.  By commenting on The Intrepid Baker, I won an awesome little kitchen scale.  This promotion was sponsored by SlimKicker.com, a pretty cool weight loss/management website.  
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Some Nutella fudge I made, sitting on my new scale!
SlimKicker.com works much like SparkPeople.com or Weight Watchers; you enter your meals and exercises each day, and are given "points" of some sort to help you keep track of your progress.  Those sites all proclaim that this method keeps people interested in living a healthy lifestyle, rather than constantly focusing on what the scale says from one day to the next.  What makes SlimKicker unique, though, is that it is designed like a video game!  That is to say, your goals are labeled "Challenges," and as you progress, you "Level Up."  You unlock achievements as you go along, and are granted real "Rewards" for your work.  SlimKicker's video game based template is really exciting to me.  The only reservation I have is that I've come to depend on a smartphone app to help me track my exercise and diet, rather than trying to remember to enter the data when I'm on my computer.  If SlimKicker develops a Droid app, though, I'll be leveling up right away!

Even cooler than the SlimKicker concept, though, (to me anyway) is this wide world of free stuff that can be had- just from reading other people's blogs!  The Intrepid Baker has some awesome recipes.  Other bloggers have great printables for crafting or organizing.  Still others have tips for ways to save money by making your own cleaning supplies or holiday decorations.  I know that I post some small projects or recipes now and then, but seriously, some of the bloggers out there have done something amazing!  They're so good at putting out regular content that they've gotten support from sponsors, who sometimes throw them some free stuff to give their readers.  My favorite place to find out about giveaways like the one I won, is TipJunkie.com, which sends out a weekly email of bloggers giving things away.  I don't have kids, so I can't take advantage of all the freebies, but it's always worth a look.  Anyway, all this is just to say, check out other people's blogs!  They have great ideas, and sometimes they give away free stuff just for leaving a comment.
 
 
This past COMIC BOOK DAY! I stopped in at a fabric store we always drive by.  I sure am glad that I did, too!  They had everything, including indoor/outdoor fabric, upholstery fabric, seasonal prints (even those currently out of season), fringe and other trim, floor rugs, and so many other things that made my little crafter eyes nearly pop out of my face.  I took pictures of some of my favorites, and I was hoping we could just deal with how cool this set is for a moment.
These charming bolts were in a bin labeled "Super Hero Prints."  I want these in my bedroom really, really bad!  No, I don't know in what form, and no, I do not own a sewing machine.  Honestly, I'm not really into sewing enough to warrant getting my own machine, but I am wondering if there are any quilt shops around here with machines I could borrow (in store, of course) for an hour or two.  What do you think?  Do you think these are super cool (like I do), or do you distinctly remember seeing a picture of your dad/husband/brother wearing these prints in the form of pajamas 40 years ago?
 
 
OK, I get it.  My readers are not big on leaving comments, especially when I ask for them.  That's fine, because they are very loyal anyway, even when I get pushy.  Thanks for coming back and reading, all the same.  Today I have something fun for you, and I'll even post pictures!  

As you know, I love using Pinterest!  I've tried some recipes from it, and it's a great place to get craft or decorating ideas.  It was on Pinterest that I found these instructions for making your own chalkboard paint- in any color you want.  It's easy- all you need is unsanded grout and acrylic paint in your color of choice.  For the cost of the ingredients, it's a LOT cheaper than the jars or cans of pre-made chalkboard paint, and of course, you don't have to settle for one of the colors or shades on the shelf.  I chose a pretty, bright green paint (I knew my chalkboard was going in my kitchen, where I use a lot of red and green) for my chalkboard, and I recycled one of the many metal trays that were used as centerpieces at our wedding (which you can get at the Dollar Tree in a range of sizes and shapes). 
The surface on my board is a little rough, probably because of the brush I used.  If you do this project, I recommend using one of those spongy brushes, such as the one pictured in the original tutorial link above.  Sorry about the quality of the pictures, the lighting was not very good in the house that day (much like today).  Someday I'll sit down and learn about aperture, exposure and other photography vocabulary words that elude me right now. 

P.S.  Bonus points if you know the name of the shade of blue I'm using as my new font color!
 
 
Hello, dear readers.  Just some quick questions for you today.  When do you start decorating for fall?  What are your essential decorating priorities throughout the year?  That is to say, if you only had the time or resources to decorate one part of your house (inside or out), what would you choose?  For instance, do you absolutely need a wreathe on your door each season?  Or, if nothing else gets done, will you settle for having a centerpiece on the table?  Please leave comments about what you do to decorate.  I like what we have in our house, but there's something so exciting about having things that change throughout the year.  So please, please share your thoughts on this.  Thanks!
 
 
Mwahahahaha!  Please excuse the unrestrained outburst of evil mirth.  You see, today I have in my little hands the nonsecret-secret handbook for "Marine Officers and Spouses," so I'm feeling like a little bit of an interloper.
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Normally I take pictures on my kitchen table, but this publication demanded a more serious looking background. Behold! The most ancient piece of furniture I could find!
Although this publication looks super serious (and the actual text makes it clear the writer is abundantly full of themselves), it's actually a free publication that was sent to our library today.  Since my husband is an NCO (non-commissioned officer), it isn't really clear whether or not I rate one of these.  However, we certainly aren't going to check the IDs of any Marine or spouse who picks one up, and at any rate, one of my coworkers is the spouse of an officer, and she said I could take hers.  Within these meticulously laid out pages are the secrets to success for all Marine Corps related social occasions.  Indeed, the sections about etiquette at dinner parties, or for introducing people, could really apply to similar situations in the civilian world just as easily.  Some of our *favorite* parts at work included instructions for eating food.  
"Fruit  At a formal dinner, fruit is to be eaten with a knife and fork.  ...  Cake Cake is eaten with a fork, or a fork and spoon. ...  Bacon Bacon is to be eaten with a fork." 
After skimming through the chapters, I'm left wondering several things besides the obvious "How do you eat a grape with flatware?" and "How dare they impose any rules on the consumption of bacon?".  Primarily there is the problem that with every sentence, I'm visualizing people with clothing and hair that could date no later than the early 1960s.  I know that there are periodically important events officers and their spouses attend, which may require a few extra manners, but are any of them still using calling cards that contain only their name?  Do you still "call" on someone, and if they are not home, leave "your card" to let them know you stopped by, or do you telephone them first, and make prearranged visits?  Does everyone have a monogram properly engraved on their own personal letterhead, or do we order special stationery for special events?  If you unintentionally arrive at a party 3-5 minutes early, do you come in and help with last minute preparations, or do drive around the block and arrive at the appointed minute?  Do you eat chicken wings with anything other than your fingers?  In short, while this book is very clear on what the letter of the law is when it comes to dinner etiquette and other social graces, I wonder to what extent even an officer's wife would find it useful.  Perhaps I'm wrong, and within a week every copy we have will be gone, but I rather doubt it.

Perhaps the most important question to be asked is, now that the Marine Corps Association, "The Professional Association for All Marines" has released this profoundly useful guide for officers and their wives, do they intend to publish a more useful publication that could be used by "All Marines" and their wives?  Something that answers silly questions like "How the (insert expletive of choice) does TriCare work?"  "Should I get a new driver's license?"  "How do I build a career when moving every few years?"  "What the (insert choice word again) are my taxes going to look like?"  and "It's nice that the PX is tax free and all, but why are the clothes so darned expensive in the first place?".  At least this book gave me some guidelines for greeting sentries at the gate.  Apparently wishing they'll stay dry when it's raining is entirely too friendly.  Then again, these are just rules for officers and their spouses.  Maybe the beauty of being the wife of an enlisted Marine is that I can still act like a normal person, albeit a frequently clueless one. 
 
 
I have one more reason to be proud of my Clayton today!  He just got promoted!  Once again, he will never make a big deal about the things he does.  As his wife, though, I delight in taking pride in his achievements.  So congratulations, Clayton!  I love you so much, and I'll never get tired of bragging about you.
 
 
Hello, dear readers.  Before I dive into my new post, I need to tell the spammers to stop right now.  I LOVE getting comments on this blog, but please don't copy and paste my first paragraph into the comments, and write an ad for sneakers as your "name."  No one likes it, and it won't work, because I'll delete it right away.  Other bloggers don't tolerate it on their sites, and I certainly won't accept it here.  That said, I still encourage everyone else to leave comments of their own.  I can see very basic stats about how may people come here each day, but it's very encouraging when someone leaves a note about what they think about a certain post or photo album.  Now that that's out of the way, back to my regular shenanigans.

It's been a while since my last post, so I have some things to share.  First of all, I have a job now! It is only part time, but it is at the station library and therefore about as close to my house as a job can get, without being retail.  I still have a name tag (some of you know my theory about name tags), but it's a much nicer one than I've ever had.  The dress code has been surprisingly difficult for me.  This library requires slightly nicer outfits than others I've worked in before.  Unfortunately, it's really hot here, which means almost all the nice blouses and dresses I have don't have sleeves.  The dress code demands sleeves, which I only don't find insane because the library has air conditioning.  After an hour of shopping at the New Bern mall, I had my answer.  For those of you familiar with the New Bern mall, you know that being there an hour means I went into every single store and tried on every garment I thought might do.  I'm not really sure what the garment that has rescued my wardrobe is called.  Some stores are calling it a vest, a wrap, or a cardiwrap.  It is like a cardigan with no buttons in front.  At any rate, I bought one in gray with 3/4 sleeves, and it gives my sundresses and blouses sleeves!  So many of my outfits that were previously inappropriate are now great work ensembles.  Also, for the first time ever, I bought cute shoes at Maurice's!  They've had adorable shoes for a while, but only recently started carrying them in my size, thereby saving me from the embarrassment of shopping in the kids' section of the shoe store, and having all the fashion sense of a nine year old as a result.

I'm still working on some projects around the house, which I'll be sure to share when they're done.  I might not be trying new recipes for a while, since Clayton is training and not doing dinner with me as often.  Speaking of Clayton, he and his coworkers' latest accomplishment can be found in this article from The Windsock, the base paper.  He would never ever brag about this, but as his wife I get to be all proud of him when things like this happen!  His shop was recognized by the American Petroleum Institute for pumping more fuel than ever with a decreased staff.  Of course, Clayton insists that doing anything less would have meant he and the other Marines were shirking their duties.  All the same, I think the guys do a great job, and they definitely deserved that award.