Port Royal Farmers Market

Even though this Saturday was a chilly one for us in South Carolina, we had the chance to check out a local farmer's market in Port Royal.  Walking around the Palafox Market was one of my favorite rituals in Pensacola so I was excited to hear about so many markets in the Beaufort area.
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The Port Royal farmer's market is held in Heritage Park, with the vendors scattered between tons of gorgeous trees draped in spanish moss.  Be still my heart!  While I'm sure there will be much more produce in the warmer months, I was impressed with the variety here.  Handmade pastas, philly style pretzels, pierogies, and local made treats.  We grabbed coffees from Cup to Cup and breakfast sandwiches on homemade kettle bagels and walked around the rest of the market.  I can't wait for many warmers mornings here!
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Afterwards, we headed back home and noticed tables set up outside of SILO (an online farmers market with pickup in Habersham).  It turned out to be a Burnbox Social, where Silo pairs with the soon-to-open restaurant, FARM, for a lunch pop-up.  Local beers from Holy City Brewery paired with made to order pork chops, collard greens and sweet potatoes....just a few yards from our home!  Needless to say, a meat and three plate became our lunch plans :)  Everything was delicious and eating outside in the sunshine was just what we needed to complete our day.

Best Valentine's Day Ever

I have to admit - I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day.  In fact, I am kind of a downer about it.  I am a big believer in little, thoughtful gifts (not "check in the box", "I'm doing this because I feel like I have to" ones) and I like dating my husband all the time, not just once a year when every single restaurant is packed.  Although, I will never turn down a box of chocolates ;)  However, this year was the tenth year that Rob asked me to be his valentine!  Ten years - that is crazy to me!
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And I have to admit, this year was my absolute favorite Valentine's Day EVER!
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We made reservations at Waffle House!  Waffle House is our hangover staple so when I saw that they were doing a special date night for Valentine's Day, I couldn't stop laughing and knew we had to go.  Valentine's Day = cheesy and this was the best of the best!  We got dressed up, took pictures, and headed to our (5pm! Early bird!) reservation.
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From the Martinelli's sparkling apple juice to the candlelit tables, I could not get enough!  It was so cute!  We ordered the Valentine's Special (two steaks, salads, hashbrowns, texas toast, and a piece of pie to split) and duh, it's Waffle House, everything was great.
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We truly had the best night!  I could not stop smiling and kept saying over and over how it was my favorite Valentine's Day.  Clearly I am easy to please!!  One of my favorite parts was an employee, Eric.  He kept searching his pockets and asking other servers for coins to pay the jukebox and put on cheesy, romantic songs like "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "How Do I Live".  The effort everyone made to make the night special made everything even better.  Will I do it again in the future?  Absolutely!

Red Velvet Protein Crepes

Six weeks into the 22 Minute Hard Corps test group, there is no way that I am giving up and cheating now.  But holidays always make it much more tempting.  The struggle of craving chocolates and champagne is real but I've found that if I can enjoy a healthier substitute, I don't feel deprived.
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These red velvet crepes are perfect for Valentine's Day, and really just any day.  They are packed with protein (15+ grams per crepe!) making them a great post-workout snack and the recipe can easily be cut down/doubled depending on how many you are feeding.  We filled ours with vanilla greek yogurt and fresh cut strawberries.  Paired with a faux-mimosa (La Croix with a splash of pineapple juice!), this Valentine's Day brunch felt extremely indulgent.
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Red Velvet Protein Crepes
Makes 6 crepes

1 cup Egg Whites
1/2 cup Cottage Cheese
1/2 cup Protein Powder (I used half vanilla, half chocolate)
1/2 cup Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Water
20 drops of Red Food Coloring

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.  Add more water if needed to achieve thin consistency.
Heat a nonstick pan over medium-low heat.
Add 1/2 cup of batter and gently but quickly spread in circular motion with spoon until smooth and thin layer.
When small bubbles appear on surface or edges begin to curl, flip.
Serve warm with your favorite fillings!

DIY Farmhouse Coffee Table

Back in Meridian while Rob was on the weapons detachment, I knew that I needed a project to keep me busy.  While Blair and I were in Atlanta, I got a wild hair idea to build a coffee table for our living room.  I've never built furniture before but while we were walking through Ikea, I decided that I could buy a basic, cheap table and then fancy it up to match our style.  How hard could it be, right?!
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The project turned out to be a much bigger one than I expected.  I initially thought I would just stain a few boards and use wood glue to adhere them to the table surface however building an actual tabletop turned out to be a much better idea in the long run.  Let's face it, this table is going to have to survive military movers - it had to be sturdy!  Although the workers at Lowe's had very little patience for me, you can truly learn anything on YouTube.  I watched numerous video tutorials on drill pocket holes and the kreg jig is now probably my favorite tool ever!
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As for a tutorial, there are much better and more detailed ones out there on the internet than I could ever write.  I'm not great at following directions and since I don't really have carpentry skills, a lot of it was over my head.  That means when it came to this project, I kind of just winged it!  Luckily, it all turned out!
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I used the Lack table from Ikea in white because I wanted to keep the legs white.  I built the top to fit the table (no real directions on the building part: I just cut the pieces to fit and drilled pocket holes everywhere to hook everything together!) and then stained it using Minwax Classic Gray and Walnut (letting the stain sit for 10 minutes then wiping with a rag and letting dry between coats).
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Considering the price of (albeit gorgeous!) coffee tables from Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn, this baby was a steal.  It also kept me busy and gave me something to brag about accomplishing when Rob came home from the DET.  Win-win!  Plus it survived the move to Beaufort without a scratch!

Oyster Roast

"The first one I ate tasted like river mud.

It was not that earthy, pungent, essence du monde that well-traveled people like to go on about over their quenelles aux huîtres. It tasted like wet dirt, only slicker, fishier, like what a tadpole would taste like if you sucked it right out of the ditch, or a wet hoofprint.

Of course, I was not a gourmand then. I was a sun-scorched boy in a dockside restaurant in Panama City, intoxicated by the aroma of coconut butter suntan lotion and piña colada lip balm, and flabbergasted by ten thousand teenage Baptists in tiny two-piece bathing suits. I wanted to eat oysters because it seemed like a thing a man of the world would do in 1971, like being a spy against the Communists, or owning an MGB. But that taste, and that horrible consistency—somewhere among raw chicken liver, Jell-O, beef tripe, and Dippity-do—haunted me for years." - Rick Braggs, Garden and Gun
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You don't have to drive far on a Saturday afternoon in South Carolina to find an oyster roast.  They are everywhere and immediately I fell in love with the concept.  Spanish moss, sunshine, a glass (or bottle!) of cold wine, a bucket of hot and fresh steamed oysters, tables filled with friends and laughter...this is all my type of fun!  The only problem?  The oysters!

I totally psyched myself out.  I believed that I HAD TO like oysters now that we live in South Carolina but was convinced that I was going to hate them.  Everything I read described them as an "acquired taste" and that they would "grow on you" with time.  Rob and I even convinced ourselves that it would take us six tries...not six oysters but six different experiences and that if we could just keep trying, by time number seven, we would be fans.

Luckily, it didn't take seven tries!
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This weekend, we went to our very first oyster roast at the Firefly Distillery on Wadmalaw Island.  The air was crisp, the wine was flowing (but unfortunately not for this girl for a few more weeks!), and the oysters were plenty.  After exploring the winery and distillery, we decided to grab a bucket of oysters and try our hand at shucking them.  Rob popped me open a perfect one, I took a deep breath and sucked it down and.....it's official: we can stay in South Carolina because I like oysters!  I loved the salty flavor and, maybe because these were steamed, didn't mind the texture at all!  My shucking skills need a little work but that can always improve with a little practice.
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A new friend we met explained that oysters are best in months containing an R (SeptembeR - ApRil).  Needless to say, I think this will be our first oyster roast of many between now and the end of April!
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Are you a fan of oysters?

South Carolinians!

It's official....the boxes are unpacked and the move is complete!
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This is our fifth move in four years and every move is a little bit different.  Usually, I am super organized.  I start with my PCS binder and from there I organize every room and check every to-do list box.  Blame it on the holidays or the insanely hectic month or savoring every last minute but this move didn't happen that way.  This move I tried the "no-stress approach".  And guess what?  The movers came, everything got packed, and everything landed safely in our new home!  Sure, there were a few bumps in the road (like the HUGE truck not being able to fit into our neighborhood) but those are always going to happen!
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As for first impressions, I think we are going to LOVE our new home!  There are so many adorable restaurants and shops, lots of opportunities for riding bikes (my favorite!) and being outside, we are close to the water, AND the people are so so friendly.
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This story is the perfect example of why I already love Beaufort:  Our very first full day in town, we grabbed coffee from Common Ground and walked around a few shops downtown.  We went into an olive oil shop, Olive the Above, and were warmly greeted by two female employees.  They asked if it was our first time in the shop and when we told them it was actually our first day in town, they physically clapped and cheered "welcome to Beaufort"s to us.  It was like a scene from a movie and the joyous reaction that I always expect but never actually get.  I couldn't wipe the smile from my face -- I knew I could call this home!
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I think we are going to be just fine here :)

Military Move #5 Lessons Learned

This move was officially our fifth military move in four year.  We are no where near pros at this but every move I feel like I learn a couple new tips, tricks, or lessons to make things a little easier.  Our first move from Virginia to Florida we learned that DITY moves are not for us, no matter how much money you make.  Later we learned about Hire a Helper and the benefits of packing a new home box.
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This move, I feel like I learned three huge lessons:

1.  If you have the option, just pay the cleaning fee!

On base, the housing people encourage you to take the move out package where you pay a set cleaning fee ($120) instead of cleaning the house yourself when you move out.  We chose to do this and it was honestly the best decision ever.  Every other move, we spent so much time at the end trying to intensely clean baseboards and ceiling fans so that we would get our full security deposit back.  We also always had to set aside all of our clean supplies to clean all the room when our packers moved all of our furniture out.  This time, we wrote a check for the $120 and literally did nothing else.  We left the house in the condition it was in (just clean like a normal day, not scrubbed down), let the movers pack our things, and enjoyed our last few days with friends.  It eliminated something that is usually a stress and headache from our list and made move out so simple.  PLUS since we paid them to clean it, there is no way that they were going to charge us for something not being appropriately cleaned!  As for our budget, we simply calculated that into our DLA (dislocation allowance) money.

2.  Take advantage of TLE!

Every move before this, we would pack our air mattress in our car and sleep in our old/new home until our stuff arrived and our bed was set up.  Finally, I realized this is silly because of this wonderful thing called TLE!  TLE is travel lodging expense and what this means is that you (your husband) rate ten days of lodging expenses at your old and/or new duty station, not combined with your normal travel days.  In regular terms - you can stay at the Navy Lodge both at your old base while your stuff is being packed and your new base while you are waiting for your stuff to be delivered (up to 10 days total) and the military will pay for it.  Not only will they pay for it but they will also pay you per diem for those days to cover your meals.

TLE is an option whether you use it or not.  If you use it, you get reimbursed the money.  If you choose not to use it, you don't get the money.  I realized how much easier it makes a move to have a real bed, clean towels, tv, and wifi on those weird limbo moving days where everything is half packed and shut off.  Plus getting the per diem was awesome to cover all those meals out.  We will ALWAYS utilize this option now!

3.  Be nice to your movers!

Knock on wood, we have had really great luck with our movers so far.  I know this doesn't always matter but a lot of times I think a little kindness goes a long way.  Sure, our movers showed up a little late, complained about things that were in their job description and had a few hiccups but the least I can do (in my opinion!) is feed them lunch and tip them when they safely move everything I own from one state to another in just a few days.  I think the movers are always a little more considerate with your stuff (and your timelines) if they like you vs think you are a jerk ;)

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