Here it is!  This is the menu I'll be putting on the table for Easter.  I designed these as quarter-page fliers in Microsoft Publisher, on two pages, and printed double sided.  The bunny and lamb graphics are from The Graphics Fairy, and I simply tinted them a soft gray and layered them behind the font.  If you like this menu and would like to use the template yourself, you can download it from the link underneath the pictures.  Bear in mind, you'll need MS Publisher to open or edit the file.
File Size: 708 kb
File Type: pub
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A bunch of little things are starting to come together.  We're hosting a small Easter dinner this year, so several weeks ago I started my preparations by making up a menu.  I might embed the adorable menu I printed up later, so you can see what I'm making, and how I'll display it.  Right now, though, I'll give you a peek at some of my intended party design. 
 Yesterday, we picked up a table that would actually fit all of our guests around it.  Later, I sorted out my bins of holiday decorations and pulled out all of my current Easter decorations, as well as some crafting supplies I might need.  Once I took stock of what I had, I ordered the few decorations I still needed.  Well, not decorations, so much as a tablecloth, napkins, and dessert plates.  I did have to order some small plates for appetizers, but dinner and dessert are going to be served on my new plates!  Next, I set up the table and laid out my serving dishes and wine glasses, and I set one whole place setting (Quick aside: Merlin was SO happy when we set up the new table.  He spent most of the day curled up underneath it, like it was this new dog house that we bought just for him.).  This was to verify that I had enough room on the table for all of the food and plates, and to ensure that I had enough serving dishes for all the food I plan to make.  All that's left to do is wait for my orders to come in, and then go grocery shopping for my remaining dinner ingredients.

We've also made a bit of progress on our move.  I made an appointment with a real estate agent to look at some houses.  From the listings we've seen so far, it looks like there will be a lot of good choices that we can easily afford, so that's a big relief.  Now we're working ourselves into packing mode.  I brought home some boxes from work (at the library) that will perfectly fit our books.  We bought a handful of large boxes that should fit linens or kitchen things.  Just thinking about packing makes me tense, but Clayton assures me that he's pretty much an expert on moving stuff now, so he'll do most of the worrying about that.  He's just relieved that I'm a paperwork expert, so I'm handling that end of the move.  I even have an adorable moving binder, full of our print-outs of real estate listings, house score cards, and inspection checklists.  

If you haven't emailed me your address yet (and odds are good that you haven't), please do!  I'm so looking forward to sending out change of address cards, but I need an updated address book in order to make that happen.  Also, if you have suggestions for which pictures I should take while we're looking at houses, please email those to me, or leave them in the comments for everyone to enjoy.
Ok, I'm back again.  I am planning the heck out of this move!  I'm reading books and articles, printing real estate listings and talking to Realtors,  and of course, I'm making checklists and other forms.  Most of these are adaptations of forms in the aforementioned books and articles.  Now, though, I need your help making an original checklist.  I've been Googling, Yahoo!ing, and all day, trying to find a checklist of pictures I should take.  So let me break down to you what I'm looking for. 

In a few weeks we'll be actually walking into houses, trying to decide where we'll live next.  The books et cetera all say we should be taking pictures of the houses we inspect, mostly to help us remember details about them the next day.  So for this first stage, what things should I be taking pictures of?  Any hints in this direction at all will be SUPER helpful!

For the next stage, I'd like to take some pictures during the move itself.  So far my list has:
  • Stacks of boxes
  • Loaded moving van
  • Clayton wielding packing tape
  Please help me add more photo ops to my list.  This doesn't have to be the best documented move of all time, but I would like some cute pictures for the website, and possibly for our change of address card.  Speaking of THAT, I already have people emailing me addresses (thanks to those who have; you are on the ball!), but there are a LOT more of you out there who I know will be sad if you don't get our Christmas card.  As I said in my last post, I want your mailing address even if you're sure I already have it.  That includes you, Mom.  Just go to my Communicate page, copy my email address into an email, and shoot me a quick note with the names of the people in your family, your mailing address, and (if you want to be super helpful) your birthdays.  I mean it, if you want mail from us again (including a card with our new address, or this year's Christmas card), let me know your address.

As for the photo checklists, those can be emailed to me, or left in comments.  This should be fun, and it gives you a chance to tell me exactly parts of our future house you want to snoop around in before we even get there.  So go ahead, tell me any fun thing I can add to either list, and I'll try to make it happen.  Of course, once we get to wherever we're going, you can expect to see these pictures right here, on our site.  That's it for today, and please pray for us that we won't go crazy in the next two months.  Thanks!
This may go without saying, but when we move, our address will be changing.  I definitely have plans to send out change of address cards once we know where we're going.  You may wonder why I won't just plaster our new address on the front of the website, but if you think about it for a minute, you'll see why that's a really bad idea.  This website is primarily for friends and family, however I do link recipes and projects to Pinterest and other websites, so lots of strangers have access to the site every day.  If you happen to be a stranger, thanks so much for reading!  I'd love to hear from you sometime, but I'm not telling you my address.  Sorry!

All of this is to say, if you want a change of address card from us, I need you to send me your address.  Email it to me, and I'll add you to our address book.  If you're concerned about the security of emailing me, there really is no reason to be.  You'll just be sending me a private email at my own Yahoo! email address.  If any of you know someone who does not have the internet or an email address who should be in our address book, please ask them to let you send their address to me.  Honestly, I want to see lots of addresses come in, even if you think I have it already.  Just write your name(s), address, and maybe your relationship to us.  For bonus points, you can include the birthdays of the people in your household.  I really want to update everyone's address books with our new home, and I'm looking forward to sending Christmas out this year, so please email me!

P.S.  If you're wondering where to find my email address, just go over to the Communicate page.
Ever since Clayton came home with new orders, I've been house hunting.  It's kind of fun, but I hate when realtors only post one picture of a property, or take really bad pictures.  One house had such grainy pictures, I found myself searching each one for a UFO, or at least Big Foot.  Also, there is a place for the person creating the listing to check boxes for various "amenities" the property may contain, such as air conditioning or a fenced in yard.  Many of the properties I see, though, don't list anything to do with laundry.  They didn't check the box for laundry hook-ups, washer/drier in unit, or anything.  Is it really possible for a house with two or three bedrooms, and 1-1.5 baths, to not have any provisions for doing laundry at all?  I can't believe someone would build such a house and not include even the hook-ups for a washer and drier.  Any thoughts on this?
On Wednesday morning, Clayton came home with fresh orders in hand.  This means that he will no longer be stationed at Cherry Point.  Normally, I would be super excited about this, but these orders were for pretty much the worst place one could be stationed after being at Cherry Point.  That's right, he's supposed to report to Camp Lejeune no later than May 3rd, and no earlier than May 2nd.  If you're aware of what day it is (it's ok if you aren't, I'm not half the time myself), you'll realize that they only gave us less than two (2) months to get our butts over there.  People have been known to get less notice, but the average is more like 3+, so I'm not pleased.

The relatively short notice is not the worst part about this situation, however.  In fact, Cherry Point is considered to be close enough to Camp Lejeune that the service member can commute from their current home.  This means that the Marine Corps has no intention whatsoever of reimbursing or otherwise compensating us for moving closer to the base.  Commuting is doable (there are Marines living aboard Cherry Point who do it)...but just barely.  Even people who live in Jacksonville (the city in which Lejeune is situated) have a 30 minute to hour-long commute, because the traffic to get on base is so dense in the morning.  Clayton would be driving 45 minutes to an hour, just to sit another 45 minutes to an hour in a traffic jam.  So we're looking to move ourselves, even if the Marine Corps won't cover the costs.  In the long run, though, we might save some money by renting in town instead of getting base housing, so it won't be so bad.  Perhaps the most exciting thing about this whole situation, is knowing that Clayton is still flagged for a B billet, and we might end up moving again within a few months (so don't expect to see me painting walls this year).  

At any rate, in between fits of growling at the paper pushers, I'm diving into this.  As soon as Clayton explained the situation to me, I started looking into our housing options.  Packing up the house ourselves will be a pain, but we're already targeting things that can be packed as soon as we get boxes.  Actually getting things from Point A to Point B won't be too bad, since we'll have time to get out of our current house (this is possible for the same reason the Marine Corps won't pay for us to move; they expect us to stay here, so we have all the time in the world to find another place and move in), Clayton's Tahoe holds a lot of stuff, and we know of several U-Haul places in the area.  All in all this won't be a terrible move, but I am still a tad bit cranky that it won't be quite as smooth as a typical military move could be, and that I'll have to quit my perfectly pleasant job over something that might be temporary.  

Oh well.  On we go.  For the next few weeks, we'll be spending our free weekends scoping out potential new homes.  Hopefully that will be a bit of fun, forcing us to get out of the house for a few hours each weekend.  If anyone has any tips on moving; living in Jacksonville, NC; or anything else that could make this transition easier, please feel free to comment or email me.  I'll be sure to keep you posted on any other developments.