Unfortunately I do not have much more to report than I did last time I blogged.  We're still in our little routine each day.  The most interesting things that happen to us, happen while we're at work.  Clayton lost his glasses on the beach during PT one morning.  I rushed to (read: got lost for two hours on) Camp Lejeune to bring him an older pair.  And so it came to pass that Clayton spent weeks wearing what are called BCGs, or "birth control glasses."  The week after this incident, we both got our eyes examined.  Clayton doesn't need a new prescription, but he does need new frames.  I don't need new frames (I'm using an older pair that were bent at one point), but I do need a new prescription.  

At my job, we're taking things one week at a time.  Actually, lately it's more like one day at a time.  This is due to the fact that one of my coworkers is hugely pregnant and expected to be on maternity leave at any moment.  We're working around this happy time bomb, all while we're getting ready for our summer reading program.  The DOD's theme for kids this year is "Have Book, Will Travel."  We've got some really fun activities planned for the children.  This library seems to have really great programs, but I wish they were a little more diverse.  Everything they have is good, but it's all geared to little children, with nothing for teens or adults.  Maybe in the next year or so we can get something going for other age groups.

While we haven't gotten out much, one activity I have not been able to avoid is cooking.  I have been taking pictures of some of our new favorites, in hopes that I would get an opportunity to write them up properly.  Today a dairy-free corn chowder went up for your enjoyment.  Corn chowder is one of my absolute favorite soups, but the stuff that comes in a can tastes so salty to me, and Clayton has been trying to cut back on dairy lately.  I got the inspiration for this recipe from a book I found in my new library, which uses the creamy properties of other foods to avoid using dairy products as thickeners.  That recipe is much more from scratch than mine, but since I didn't have half the ingredients, I had to come up with my own version using the same principle.  

This weekend Clayton and I both got a long weekend.  One of the benefits of our new jobs is that more often than not, we'll actually get these long weekends off.  We had planned to go camping and hiking on this long weekend.  We didn't book a site soon enough, though, so that got put on hold.  That was fine with us, however, because we really did need this long weekend to relax.  As usual, our nerdy friend came over for Saturday night.  I'm glad our weekly evening of games and BBC television is becoming a regular thing.

That's all for now.  Sorry our lives have been so uneventful lately.  Maybe next week will be more interesting.  Certainly I'll have more recipes to share soon.
 
Just.  Wow.  Now that we're in our new place, and we've started our new jobs, we're settling into a routine.  Routine is by no means boring, however.  

Clayton gets up crazy early to go PT with his Marines, often leaving without even waking me up.  Then he's at work until sometime in the afternoon, and comes home to fold laundry and play with Merlin.  I know that's vague, but he can actually be home any time between noon and five.  In the morning, I do some dishes, tidy the house, and sometimes run a load of laundry.  If I've got a plan, I'll make dinner early enough to have some for lunch before heading to work, and take my leftovers to have during my break at work.  The other serving or two I leave for Clayton to have when he gets home, and possibly take to work the next day.  When I come home in the evening, we usually have just an hour or two to hang out and catch up with each other, before Clayton heads to bed.

On the weekend, I might have to work for a few hours.  Clayton usually has the whole weekend off.  We take our weekend time to clean the house a little more thoroughly, mow the lawn, play with Merlin, and have friends over.  It will probably also end up being grocery shopping time.  

The last couple weekends have been very exciting for us.  May 4th was FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, and I got my hair cut for the first time in ages.  Of course we had to go to our favorite local comic book store to get our usual titles, pick up some free issues, and try out some brand new titles.  This past Saturday, the 11th, we had a friend from Cherry Point over to have dinner, play one of his board games (complex, but very fun), and watch BBC America's Supernatural Saturday lineup.  By the way, if you get BBC America, and you're not watching Orphan Black, you are really missing out.  It's supernatural, but not in a Merlin magic type of way, or in a Doctor Who time/space travel way.  It's not far from reality, as the "supernatural" factor in Orphan Black is less supernatural and more about one huge, illegal scientific experiment.  The plot is intriguing, and the main actress is astonishingly gifted.  

Anyway, we have been so delightfully busy, my head is still spinning from last week, and now I'm about to launch myself into another.  I've decided if I'm going to keep up on my blogging and other hobbies, it's going to have to be done during these morning pre-work hours.  Now go check out the Pictures page and see the few pictures I've managed to snap of this whirlwind.
 
I just posted an album dedicated to our new house in Jacksonville, NC.  So far, the pictures are only of the exterior, but you get to see front and back pretty well, I think.  As I was taking pictures of Clayton mowing the lawn, Merlin decided to bark at the lawn mower.  This shocked us both, as we hadn't heard Merlin bark in over a month.  Anyway, as we get the rooms decorated, we'll post pictures of the inside of the house.  For now, have fun snooping around the outside of our new home!
 
My last post was very short, just a quick announcement that we were all moved in to our new place.  It may have seemed rather unimpressive to my readers, but to me it was quite remarkable.  You see Weebly, the website designer/editor I use, finally developed an Android app.  So that last post was actually written from my phone!  I know that from now on that won't be a big deal at all, but just this once, it was.

As I said, the last post was way too short.  This post, then, will be all about our new house.  Pictures will be coming, just as soon as we get the place tidier.  We picked a cute little ranch on a quiet street, which is just off of one of the main routes that runs through Jacksonville.  So while our own neighborhood is rather quiet, we're also within ten minutes of just about everything we need.  Another attraction to this location is its sizable backyard, which is entirely fenced in for our Merlin.  

The house has one master bedroom with full bathroom, two spare bedrooms, and another full bathroom.  We have a lovely kitchen, a cozy living room, and a laundry room.  So far the kitchen is pretty well set up, as is the living room.  One of our spare bedrooms is being used as our library, since this living room isn't as large as our last one.  Really, it might be the coziest room in the house now.  Our bedroom has all the right things in it, but they need to be arranged yet. 

At first glance, this house seems as big as our last place, if not bigger, maybe.  However, we're seriously lacking a lot of storage spaces that we had in our first home.  After taking account of all the walk-in closets I don't have anymore, I've decided this place is smaller.  That's probably for the best, though, because it will make us cut down on our junk even more than the moving process itself.  Plus, this house is probably closer to the size and proportions we should expect as long as the military is controlling where we live.  In short, we've come to the conclusion that our last house really spoiled us!

We spent a little over a week moving in, making one trip a day between the houses.  That seems like way too long, but we were also cleaning as we went, and making trips and phone calls to set up the utilities.  Some utilities we had to establish in person at city offices, and we had to wait at the new house in person for the cable guy to set up our cable and internet.  We used a U-Haul trailer for two days, but that really just helped us move our larger pieces of furniture.  

Early on we brought Merlin to the new house, so that he would not be tempted to run out the doors as we moved things into the truck.  As far as we can tell, Merlin loves this new house.  He seems to appreciate being able to keep track of his whole family on one floor, and he definitely loves running around his huge new yard.  We play tag and fetch with him outside almost every day.

Now that we're settling into our new home, check back soon for lots of pictures.  Also, please email me if you want our new address.  If I think you're super duper important, I'll hunt you down for my address book anyway.  If you want our address without me hunting you down, shoot me an email with your address.  
 
We are officially all moved in! I'll take time to write a longer blog post later, but for now I wanted to say that we are here and getting comfy. Also, today we bought a vehicle for me to drive to work and whatnot. So now we have two cars and NO CAR PAYMENTS! All in all, it's been a good day.
 
Yesterday Clayton began checking out of his current squadron, and he put a really big dent in the list of places that have to see him before he can leave.  He still has a few more to go, though.  So tomorrow morning he'll probably finish that process.  Then he'll have to do it all again next week for the squadron to which he was originally sent upon arriving at Cherry Point.  If this doesn't make sense to you, don't worry about it.  It just means a bit of extra running around for Clayton.

Speaking of running around, this morning we went out to Jacksonville again.  We were slated to see five houses, but only ended up seeing three.  The first house was a very new one in a somewhat cramped neighborhood.  The area was a strange place to me, because half the houses were quite old, and the other half were brand new, nestled in among the old ones.  The real estate agent told us that this is a neighborhood that is actively being developed and renewed, by removing or renovating the old nasty houses.  

The second house we went to see had some awesome features in the pictures online, but we never got to see them in person.  The little lock box on the door didn't have a key in it.  We looked around on the porch for places where it might be hidden, but it didn't turn up.  The third house we were to see only had about six pictures, so I was looking forward to seeing the rest of the house, but it didn't work either.  This time, the lock box was giving us an error reading, but the real estate agent didn't know what it was, so we moved on.

The fourth house was super cute, with a huge yard that would have been perfect for us.  It was a bit older, but well maintained and with lots of character.  It was along the quieter part of a busy highway, but set back from the road significantly, plus it had that huge yard in back.  There were a few color schemes in some rooms I wasn't thrilled with, but Clayton agreed if were going to be there long term, we could paint the few things I didn't like.  

The fifth house we visited was in a developed community.  It had an open floor plan in the living room and dining room area, that flowed nicely into the small, but well-equipped kitchen.  The yard was nice, but smaller than the others we'd seen, and it had a very nice deck and huge grill there for our use.  Also, the double doors in the dining area opened out onto the deck, which had me eyeing this large space from the front door to the end of the porch as a great opportunity for parties.  The bedrooms were nice enough, well portioned, but nothing extraordinary.  A couple of them were clearly kids' rooms, as they were painted sorts of colors only someone under 13 would choose.  Once again, if we were going to be here long term, we might paint them.

All of our houses either viewed or eliminated, it was time for us to decide which was our favorite.  Pretty quickly, Clayton and I decided we liked the fourth house, which had a big, gorgeous yard, and on the inside all sorts of character perfect for our personalities.  Our real estate agent, however, reminded us that because that house was so much older than the other two we got to see, it would cost us huge amounts in electric bills, especially in the winter.  Since we haven't had much experience in paying for utilities in this area (they're basically included in the cost of base housing), we took his word for it and ruled out our favorite house.  So then it came down to two perfectly good houses that we were pretty much tied on.  

That's when we broke out the house score cards and tried to quantify just what it was we liked or didn't like about both houses.  We each scored one house, compared scores, and then switched and scored again.  Both times, they came to within one or two points of each other (heck yeah, we used points!), so that didn't help tons.  Basically, we liked the first house best, but its cramped neighborhood wasn't very exciting for us.   The last house was very close to Clayton's work, and it had a garage, but we didn't like the bedrooms or yard as much as the first one.  I think in the end what sold me was the kitchen.  Of course there were lots of other factors involved, but when you see this kitchen, I think you'll agree it's a really nice space.  

Since you're probably still confused, we went with the first house.  We applied to rent it, and hopefully they'll call us tomorrow, asking us to come down with a deposit.  If someone else snags it first, we agreed we'd be all right in its contender, too.  If both get snatched up somehow, then I guess we'll have to look again (eww) until the stars and planets align, or whatever it takes to find us a new home.  Until then, we're getting packed.  So here's another chance for me to say this: if you want our new address, please email me yours.  I'm hoping to send out moving announcements once we get to wherever we're going, and I want to have a nice fat address book by then.  

Oh.  Here's a picture of the nice kitchen I might be using in a week.
 
So today was my last day of work at Cherry Point's library.  I still have to check out (yeah, I get a check out sheet, much like the Marines themselves when they leave), but once that's over, I'm officially done here.  Everyone at work was super mopey about my leaving.  One of our retired patrons brought us cookies, and he gave me my own batch.  My co-workers and supervisors also signed an adorable card for me with really sweet notes.  I'll certainly miss them all.

Not only was it tough saying goodbye to the co-workers who have turned into friends today, but I also just said goodbye to my Corolla yesterday.  This has nothing to do with moving, but my lease on it was up today, so we washed it yesterday and brought it back to the nearest Toyota dealership.  They didn't examine it with a fine tooth comb as I'd expected, or charge me a "turn in fee," even though I wasn't buying or leasing a new car with them.  Believe it or not, this lack of fuss somehow made me feel even worse.  That little car was practically my home for two of the three years I had it, and I drove down the coast in it at least once, and all I had to do to surrender it was sign two pieces of paper?

Anyway, as far as I'm concerned, this is the worst part of moving that doesn't involve boxes.  The box thing is pretty bad, but Clayton will do that part with me.  The whole leaving thing, he won't be doing that for a few more weeks.  Next week we're going to look at more houses.  We were just out in Jacksonville on Tuesday and saw three houses then.  The first was...ok.  The second would have been perfect for us, and the third one was just nasty.  Our real estate agent asked the rental company for the application for the second house, only to get the reply that it has already been let.  Clayton was really upset about this at first.  Ready to wait for base housing, in fact, but I showed him some pictures of the many other houses in our price range, and he has agreed there might be another good one out there.  I'll try to keep you all posted on any other updates as they come up.  In the meanwhile, if you haven't emailed me your address yet, please do so.  Sending out cute moving announcements is one of the parts to this I'm looking forward to, so please indulge me and help me update my address book.
 
Hello, everyone!  I hope you had as lovely an Easter as we did.  As you know, I had been planning our Easter feast for some time.  Just as I was hoping, I was able to have all of the food for which I was responsible done, as well as all of the dishes, before my guests arrived.  

This year, Clayton's parents, his brother David, and David's wife Rachel were our guests.  Merlin greeted them at the door, wearing a black bow tie; the rest of us were much more casual.  I decorated the living room with a purple garland.  Easter morning I set up our new table, added the green table cloth and purple runner, and set the places.  Clayton helped me fold our napkins (three were white and three were yellow) in the lily fold, which we then placed in the wine glasses.  All of the glasses were labeled with a person's name on a paper doily.  
Clayton insisted we needed to do Easter baskets for our guests.  I didn't really know who liked which types of candies, so we started with two family baskets and a couple of small, useful, non-candy gifts.  In the end, we did get candy, but we didn't put it straight into the baskets.  Instead, I set up a bunny buffet.  In the kitchen, along my highest counter, I set up some dessert stands and and brightly colored plastic goblets, and we loaded up the display with our candy, and later with the candy David and Rachel brought.  On my kitchen table, I used a vase Clayton bought me a few years ago, and we filled it with some pretty flowers from the store.  When our guests arrived, I put out the raspberry lemonade and deviled eggs.  Out of a dozen eggs, I made a dozen "regular" deviled eggs (egg, mayonnaise, and mustard), and a dozen wasabi deviled eggs (egg, mayonnaise, and wasabi paste).  Rachel later brought a tray of really cute, colored eggs.  She prepared hers with horseradish.  

After dinner, we cleared everything in the living room away.  We got comfy on the floor and the couches and played Hedbanz for hours.  It's your basic "Who Am I?" game, but with a timer and a simple way to keep score.  We all had a lot of fun, and played several rounds.  Eventually we put the game away and had our desserts.  Then David and Rachel went home for the night, and Clayton's parents spent the night with us.  If you want to see more pictures from Easter, head over to the Pictures page.
 
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.
easter2013menutemplate.pub
File Size: 708 kb
File Type: pub
Download File

 
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.