Hi, everyone!  As we get into this new year, I'm already seeing some changes around me, here on base.  On a personal note, I'm still managing to lose weight (a couple slow pounds at a time), even after neglecting my workouts during December.  Yay!  Merlin finally got the last of his puppy boosters, so now we can get exercise in as a family, going on frequent walks, or "quests" as they are now known in this house.  I figure, after a couple more weeks of long quests, I will no kidding be taking back some of my pants from that dark corner of the closet where they live when they don't fit. 

Speaking of clothes, another surprisingly large change was at work, where we got a memo stating that the Commandant no longer wants to let us wear jeans on the weekends.  No big deal, right?  It's just three days a week (Friday-Sunday), and it's his library, right?  That's what I thought at first.  Then I realized that those jeans were actually a pretty important part of my work wardrobe, especially during every season that isn't the blazing heat of summer.  Bummed that I was losing such a versatile part of my wardrobe, I convinced Clayton that those bottoms needed replacing.  

Luckily for me, it's winter clearance time!  Today, after COMIC BOOK DAY! we went to Maurice's, where I found a number of sensible pieces on super-über-duper sale.  That is to say, some of the blouses I bought were only $2.99!  Even rounding up, that's just $3 for a really cute top!  And my bottoms were only six or seven dollars (except for one pair, for which we grudgingly paid full price, because they fit so well).  This isn't an ad for Maurice's or anything.  I hate how they always try to push the store card on me (although the lady today was very nice about letting me go).  Mostly, though, I just had to tell someone what an awesome deal we got on last season's trousers!  The thrifty shopper in me LOVES this time of year, because for the cost of one or two pieces at regular price, you can walk out of a store with ten or more.  This is true of almost everything from candles and room sprays to stockings and pajamas.  

Also in regards to clothing, does anyone know where I can find a tiny pair of comfy-but-cute shoes?  When I'm at work I'm on my feet all day, but we're expected to wear pretty shoes, which are almost never sensible shoes.  When I floated the question at my last physical the doctor suggested sneakers, but they aren't allowed.  For the moment I have some spiffy Dr. Scholl's inserts, which make almost all of my current shoes bearable.  A few years ago I had these adorable black pumps, which were also one of my most comfortable pair of shoes.  Ever since I've been trying to find something comparable, but with no luck.  So if anyone finds pretty shoes that will love my feet all day, please tell me where I can find them!  And remember, I have little tiny child feet.  You know, the kind that make people giggle when they see my shoes by the door (not naming names...).

Now for something completely different.  I've added pictures to the latest Christmas album.  Someone reminded me that I never posted the pictures of what our families got from us.  Mostly they were snacks like spiced nuts and peanut brittle.  Some people also got red wine jelly, which I've been making on and off for several months.  I attempted a mulled wine jelly for Christmas, but it just didn't come out as spicy as I wanted it.  Our mothers and married siblings got bottles of my homemade vanilla extract.  As far as I know, none of them have tried it yet, but they all agree it smells really good.  There were also some ornaments in the mix.  As I was adding the pictures of our presents, I also realized that I hadn't yet posted pictures from Clayton's shop party.  There aren't a lot from the party, because I feel weird taking pictures of all these other families, but you'll get to see what I made to bring.

Another new thing is my own recipe for potato waffles.  It's super easy and pretty darn delicious (if I may say so).  I love that it's so easy to scale up for more servings.  We actually just had that recipe tonight for the third time, but today I remembered to take pictures.  Anyway, now you know that picture is fre



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