Hello, readers!  I am back to report that in the eight days since my last blog post, we have been busy!  The fifteenth was our first anniversary as a married couple.  We actually celebrated on Saturday, the thirteenth, by going to the Mum Festival and having a nice dinner.  Tuesday I went to the North Carolina State Fair with Laura and Stephane, two of the girls from my work.

We spent all afternoon wandering around the fair, eating fried foods and watching piggy races.  Later, we went to a couple malls- real malls- to buy some things each of us needed or wanted.  I got my favorite eye makeup remover and a new work dress from Macy's, Laura used up some gift cards she'd been saving, and Stephane needed a dress for her husband's ball.  After a full day of roaming the fair and shopping in real malls, we girls headed home.

This past Friday, the nineteenth, I went to my favorite salon in New Bern and got my hair cut.  I decided to try out long bangs this time.  A few days later, I'm still not sure if I'm going to keep them or grow them out.  Sometimes I love the new bangs, and other times I wonder what the heck I was thinking.  Hopefully in a week or two, the look will have softened a bit and I'll like it more.  

I'm posting a new album of all our October shenanigans.
Today Clayton and I ventured out to New Bern for the annual Mum Festival.  We didn't stay very long because it was VERY crowded, but we did stick around long enough to see some really gorgeous chrysanthemums.  We're planning on going to more festivals this month, so I'll put all the October festival pictures in one or two albums later.  For now, though, I'd love to share some pictures of the mums.  The flowers come in a variety of vivid colors, and almost all the potted plants we saw were overflowing their containers.
Also, I've tried my new tea kettle out a few times.  Its whistle is built into the lid, which sounds like a neat idea, but the whistle actually doesn't work very well.  Other than that the kettle is ok.  It's a nice size and pours well, plus it doesn't have any mechanisms that could be prone to failure on it.  The whistle is kind of a big deal to me, though.  I can't decide whether to keep the kettle or return it as innately defective, so I'm asking you!  Should I return the kettle, or keep it?
Happy Thursday, dear readers!  As you know, Clayton came home from two months of training last weekend.  The past week has been a combination of Doctor Who and How I Met Your Mother marathons and trying to readjust to living with each other.  Unfortunately, I'm a little caffeine deprived, because the whistle mechanism on my teapot broke!  People keep telling me I can microwave water for tea, but this is, of course, nonsense- an urban legend promoted, one could imagine, by the microwave manufacturers.  

The broken kettle should have been easy enough to replace.  It was maybe $25 at Walmart nearly two years ago (well outside the 90 day warranty), and there happens to be a Walmart right outside the base.  After wandering around Walmart like a couple of lost tourists for a while, I found an associate and inquired about the location of their kettles.  Two associates later, they all agreed that they don't carry tea kettles at this Walmart, kettles being "seasonal" items and all.  Needless to say, I did a mental table flip the whole way home (and every time I think about this exchange, for that matter).  Let's start with the broader issue first.  I'm willing to admit that this may be another strange regional thing, but I'm used to people boiling water for warm beverages all year long.  And they want a selection of kettles to suit their needs.  Maybe down here, though, they drink everything except coffee over ice, and I just have to get used to it.  Now for the second (and most idiotic) part: "seasonal?"  Walmart, it is getting well into October, and you've cleared half your teas off the shelf to make room for hot cocoa and cider mixes a month ago.  'Tis the season!  

Well, having been failed by Walmart, we betook ourselves to Target.  Target did have a selection of tea kettles, but none looked like they'd be any more functional or durable than our broken one.  We passed on Target's kettles, therefore, but we did buy some candy and drinks for the movie we were going to see (we saw Pitch Perfect, which was hilarious and unexpected).  In the end, I caved and went to Bed Bath and Beyond.  Their in-store collection of kettles wasn't great, but better than Target's.  I finally went with a nice looking kettle that has a whistle built into the lid, thus removing the need for any spout mechanism entirely.  We'll see how it goes.
Old Kettle
New Kettle
Both kettles are Copco, but other than that cheap plastic mechanism I really liked my red kettle, so I'm hoping the new kettle without moving parts will last considerably longer.  If you click the pictures, they'll take you to product descriptions.  Both are the same size when it comes to capacity, the pictures are just taken at different angles.

My kettle quest complete, for a time, I decided to use the rest of my afternoon by stopping in at all the little thrift stores we normally drive past on the way home from Bed Bath and Beyond.  I'm really glad I did this, since I learned quite a bit.  One store, aimed mostly at men, was really big and one big, tidy man cave.  They had everything from gently used hunting gear and sports equipment, to silly neon signs and bar sets made out of coconuts, to say nothing of the entire room of stylish menswear.  The next store I stopped in was much smaller, everything was very cheap, and quite nice.  It was there that I found a gorgeous navy blue ball gown from David's Bridal.  I tried it on, and apart from the fact that it's as tall from hem to bodice as I am from head to toe, it fit perfectly!  It's dark blue taffeta, with two tiers of pickups and two pieces of matching blue beaded applique.  It has some sort of strap that comes with it; a halter maybe?  I can't find any pictures of it so far.  Maybe once it's been altered I'll share some pics.  When I came home I was so excited to show Clayton my find, and I'm glad to say that he was excited that I found something so perfect and so far under budget.  In the next couple of days, we're both going to take a trip to the seamstress to get our respective ensembles cleaned up.  

That's all for now, but we'll be having a very busy month, so stay tuned!

Edit 10/12/12
P.S.  In case you're wondering why I'm so excited about finding a ballgown, it's because Clayton and I will soon be attending the annual Marine Corps Birthday Ball, which is a formal event.  I have a bunch of dresses that fit the bill for semi-formal, but I was long overdue for a new formal gown.  We just took our duds to the respective tailors to get them altered today.  It turns out that my dress had had several rows of pickups, which someone had removed for reasons unknown.  Once the seamstress had pinned the pickups back into place, it looked like she'll only need to hem half an inch on the bottom of the gown.  When I do my final fitting, I'll be sure to bring a camera so you can all see in the light of day what it looks like.  Ooh!  I'm so excited!
Today is a big day for us.  Clayton is graduating from lab school today, and then coming home to ME!  Not only has he completed the lab course, but he also had the top GPA in his entire class!  I'm so proud of him, and I can't wait for him to be home.  Normally, this anticipation would make today drag on, but I've got work all day, so that should keep me occupied.  Well, it will as long as they don't send me home again.  I've been a little sick for the last few days, but after two days of rest and untold gallons of hot tea, I'm feeling lots better (albeit I still have a nasty cough, but I don't have a headache or fever anymore!).  So, I've got a roast in the crock pot and a (hopefully) a full day of work ahead of me.  I'll be sure to post more updates when Clayton and I get back to running around the state, enjoying the local festivals.
Hey all!  I know we've been super boring lately.  I've been working a lot, and Clayton's still in training.  Clayton's coming home this next weekend, though, so we'll finally have more to report then.  Also, it turns out that October is North Carolina's big month for festivals and fairs.  With that in mind, brace yourselves for busy month of adventure and, of course, pictures.  Hope you're excited; I know I am!  In the meanwhile, thanks for staying tuned.