I’m Still Here!

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Well “here” as in at Starbuck’s in Keene because we’ve been told as of a few minutes ago, we won’t have internet in the house until Christmas Eve! Luckily we can get wifi at good old Starbuck’s! We were also told our house shipment was delayed for about a week and all of our things won’t arrive until at least the 14th of December. But fear not, we are handling it just fine. It’s giving us time to get the house in order. (The internet part…we’re not handling so well…Ha!)

The inspector told us to add bleach to the bathtub water and run the jets…this is what I found after leaving the bathroom for a few minutes. Eeeek! Thank goodness I wasn’t gone longer. That dark paint on the walls is also going bye-bye and being replaced with a brushed sage color.

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I’m taking a lot of pictures and will have them ready for you when we finally have internet and I can do a proper post. And I promise that soon, this will turn back into a food blog and not so much of a travel and moving blog.

So far we are absolutely loving the new house. The neighbors we have met are extremely friendly and helpful and we are slowly exploring the area in between paint and supply runs. There were a few rooms with some odd paint (One was a little girl’s room with pink and white stripes that took two coats of heavy duty primer to cover)  that we are fixing and we’re focusing on general cleaning in hopes that our furniture and other items will be delivered on Friday as they said they would be.

There are TONS of restaurants here offering gluten free choices and even dairy free choices! I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s like a whole new world of dining out options have been opened for me. As a matter of fact we just at lunch at  Elm City Bagels. The BEST gluten free sandwich…well, maybe the only gluten free sandwich I’ve ever had in a restaurant. They also sell gluten free bagels and wraps…all made from scratch, right there in their restaurant. So nice to have options! The other night we had gluten free pizza at Pizza Haven, a family owned restaurant right up the road from us. Their gluten free crust tasted so much like the real thing it freaked me out. It was delicious and the best part is that it’s owned by one of our neighbors.

Speaking of neighbors….evidently we have some that raise Turkeys. These silly things left their yard and followed some kids off the bus. We thought they were wild but the owners came up in their truck and corralled them into cages. They were really neat to see up close. I had no idea they were so colorful! The owner said the males were showing off for me. These were taken with my phone so you can’t see their gorgeous colors very well. Their heads are blue.

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This is the female. She wanted to peck at my sparkly, red, nail polish. They were all very curious.

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I hope you are all doing well, I sure miss seeing all of your blogs and your comments on mine! Oh, before I go, I woke up to beautiful bluejays in our backyard the other morning. Just gorgeous! And I’m also told there are Cardinals in our area. As soon as my zoom lens arrives with the rest of our things I’ll try to get pictures.

Talk to you soon ~ April

Buffalo Soup & A List Of Firsts

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Nothing is better than a hot bowl of soup on a chilly night.

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This soup is about as easy as it gets. Brown organic ground buffalo meat, saute onions (1/2 and onion) and garlic (3 cloves minced), add them to a pot. Cover with organic beef broth. Add fresh organic vegetables such as carrots, green beans, broccoli, and frozen peas. Add fresh herbs, I used rosemary and oregano. Bring to a boil and simmer until veggies are aldente. Season with kosher salt and pepper. 

This new life adventure we’re on has racked up a lot of firsts for me. I’ll admit I like to have a somewhat quiet and predictable life. This has been anything but that, but at the same time it’s been so much fun and we’ve experienced a lot in a short amount of time. Last night marked a biggie on the list of firsts for me:

The first time camping by myself 

Yep, unfortunately Tony cannot stay on vacation forever.  This is a first I don’t wish to experience again. It was spent with me sandwiched between two dogs under the covers, a cat that wanted to sleep on my head, bad dreams, weird noises, and a huge rain storm. I’m happy that Tony returns today…I think I’m going to be in need of a nap!

Abigail keeping an eye on the owner’s cats.

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The first time traveling further east than Colorado 

Because flying to and staying at Disney World doesn’t count. I have loved seeing parts of the many states we’ve traveled through on our way to New Hampshire.

The first time winging it on a major trip

My husband just wanted to “go”. If you know me well, you know that’s completely against my nature. Most of the time I like to plan and map and be prepared. I can’t say I’m a fan of “winging it” but I did it, and that’s all that counts.

The first time going through a toll booth that cost more than a quarter 

The last time I went through a toll was before I was a teenager. And I’m pretty sure people were up in arms because they raised it to twenty five cents, or maybe it was even as low as a dime…I can’t remember. We spent over $100 driving on tolls driving from Washington State to New Hampshire. It made me wonder how people who are on an extremely tight budget manage if they have to commute through tolls every day. I believe our most expensive one was $24.00.

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The first time on a turnpike

I had no idea what one even was…until we were already on it and I had to pee. I guess basically it’s a “toll road” and if you want to get off and on to do your business you have to pay twice.

The first time in REAL traffic. Chicago at rush hour.  

WOW. 

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The first time at Mount Rushmore

It was a really amazing experience and I’m so happy we took the time to see it.

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The first time I’ve ever been away from our son for more than 1 week…in his entire life 

Thankfully he tolerates me “checking in” frequently. (And posting childhood pictures of him on my blog.)

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The first time in my life I have not lived in the same town as my mother

It’s weird not to have her just a quick 5 minute drive away. 

The first time I’ve ever eaten long neck clams

And I didn’t even think to get a picture of them! They were good, but I did have to ask about the neck just to be sure. Here’s a picture off the internet (courtesy of The Alcoholian)

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Just kidding of course! That is a type of long neck clam but the ones I ate for lunch looked more like the one below. (Photo courtesy of KFG Wild Foods) They were very flavorful but by the time I neared the end of the bowl, it started to get to me and I’d had enough. It’s a lot of clam.

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The first time I’ve ever purchased a house without even seeing it in person

May seem crazy, but it worked out just fine. 

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The first time using navigation on my new phone and driving by myself in a completely unfamiliar area

It was nerve-wracking and I didn’t get lost…but still, I have to wonder…can you ever really trust those things? Isn’t just an old fashioned map the best way to go? I’m using Telenav right now, if you have an iPhone 5 and have any better suggestions, please let me know! 

The first time going without a bathtub to sit in and read every night

It’s been more than two weeks! Now to some of you non-bathtub lovers, this may seem trivial.  But those of you who use the bathtub and a book as a heavenly ritual every night to stay warm and mentally stable, you know exactly where I’m coming from. I seriously don’t think I’ve been warm once since the last time I got out of a bathtub. And mentally stable? Well, that probably depends on who you talk to. Ha! The first second I can, I am jumping right in the tub in our new house, which by the way is a jetted tub. Ahhhh…serenity now.

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We have thoroughly enjoyed our adventure over to this neck of the woods. It comes at a fantastic time in our lives and we were ready for it. That helps when you make a major life change. Friday we do the final walk through on our new house (that will be the first time I’ve seen the inside), and sign the final paperwork. More exciting times ahead and I can’t wait to get started on my Christmas baking! Yesterday I made Toasted Coconut and Pecan Haystacks. You can find the recipe here. Super easy!

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A Little Shopping in Exeter & Portsmouth

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We headed toward the seacoast for a little shopping yesterday morning. For now we’ll have to stick to shopping since it’s so close to Christmas, but later when we get settled, we’ll get serious about traveling and really learning about the history of each town. As you probably already know, the eastern part of the United States is rich in history.

The seacoast is about one and half hours from where we are camping. It was very foggy so we couldn’t make out much on the way, but we were very pleased when we arrived in Exeter to see that it was a beautiful little town.

On the way into town we ran into another gorgeous academy. This is just a tiny portion of their campus.

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Church bells were ringing in the background when I took this picture. Peaceful and beautiful.

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I’ve already fallen in love with the architecture in the east. Each of the small towns here are full of beautiful buildings. We’ve also noticed that when they do need to build a more modern structure that they try very hard to make it fit in with the older, historical, architecture.

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Below is the roundabout at the end of the main street. The building in the background is Exeter Town Hall. There’s a stunning statue of Lady Justice at the top holding a sword and scales. The scales represent truth and fairness and the double-edged sword represents the power of reason and justice that may be wielded either for or against any party. She’s also blindfolded, representing objectivity.

An old couple on their way to lunch stopped on the street to say hello to the dogs and chat. They’ve lived in Exeter for 40 years. They were the sweetest couple. They told us we had just missed the big Christmas parade the night before. Another thing I’ll have to remember is to look up the events calendar in each town.

As they walked away the sweet woman kept saying, “The dogs are gawgess, the dogs are just gawgess!” I’m also fascinated with all of the accents back here. New York, Main, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Massachusetts…there’s a mix of a lot of different accents in New Hampshire.

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Another beautiful church in the background. I could also probably spend several days just touring these towns photographing people’s homes. This one is very pretty and represents the typical look of many of the homes in Exeter. But there are also stunning, absolutely huge, historical homes in Exeter and all over the New England states. Maybe a home photographing tour will have to go on my agenda for spring. Some of them are unbelievable.

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More proof that people on the eastern side of the US are masters at decorating window boxes and decorative pots.

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We didn’t eat in Exeter but did get coffee and cocoa. Below is me and the dogs waiting for Tony to return with my almond milk hot cocoa. One very pleasing thing I’ve noticed since we’ve been in NH is that they are very “allergen aware”. Every town we’ve visited I’ve been able to get cocoa made with almond milk. In our hometown of Spokane, a city of 500,000 people, there were only two places I had found that would make me cocoa with almond milk…and I had to keep an eagle eye on them to make sure they were actually using it. I also always dreaded ordering gluten free and dairy free from places like that and restaurants because I could just feel the eye rolling. The west is supposed to be so health conscious but now that I’ve experienced something different, I can see that many of the western US cities are quite far behind in food options and attitude.

Also, so far every restaurant where we’ve viewed the menu or tried the food either has a gluten-free menu or at least gluten-free options such as bread and pasta. As we walked along the shops in Exeter we came across a little cafe that made gluten-free sweet or savory crepes. I tried to talk Tony into one but he was still full from breakfast (still trying to get used to the three-hour time change). The crepe cafe is definitely going on my list of places to remember and revisit!

Notice Romeo is wearing a jacket? That’s to keep him from having a complete nervous breakdown in the car. It’s a Thundershirt and they really do work. If you have a nervous nellie dog, it’s worth a try.

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We didn’t spend too much time in Exeter as Portsmouth was really the destination we were focused on. Tony also had to pick up a rental car for work at the Manchester airport later in the day (a nerve-wracking story I’ll tell you about another time), so we couldn’t dilly dally too much. So with hot cocoa in hand we hopped in the car and made our way to Portsmouth.

Portsmouth was much bigger than I had expected and full of really nice and interesting shops. This church is right in the middle of the shopping district.

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We had to drive around for quite some time to find a parking spot. We wanted to leave the dogs inside the truck and do some real looking around but didn’t want them to be too far from sight. While we were circling the shopping area looking for a spot we were probably two blocks off the main path and ran into this.

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Mountains of sand they were taking out of a huge ship. We weren’t sure why they were taking sand out of a ship, but the sand looked just like the sand that was flowing out of a sanding truck on icy roads the day before. Honey colored and beautiful. Real sand, not the black dirty stuff that causes air pollution in the spring and summer that we’re used to in the West.

We didn’t find anyone to ask so unless one of my readers can fill us in, it will remain a mystery.

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All of the light poles (which are styled to look like quaint lanterns) were adorned with wreaths and almost all of the shops were decorated for Christmas. I can’t wait to visit many of the NH towns in the evenings over the next couple of weeks. I bet they look beautiful all lit up with lights and Christmas decorations!

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It was a very busy shopping day for the town so I couldn’t get many really good shots of inside some of the shops. But here is a little taste of one of my favorites. It smelled fabulous!

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Another beautiful store front. This one was a women’s hat shop.

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We tried to see as much as possible within our limited time frame and only scratched the surface. Portsmouth will definitely be on my list for a “female” shopping day where I can meander (like us shopping gals like to do) and take my time looking through the whole town. Then I will get to the bottom of the ship sand mystery! Ha!