Thursday, October 20, 2016

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkins! Pumpkins! Pumpkins! I don't know about you but I've been seeing pumpkins everywhere! Since they are so readily available right now, it's also the perfect time to use them in delicious recipes. That's part of why we've decided to nickname October as Pumpkin Month and share our favorite recipes with you. You're going to love today's recipe - it's the ever classic Homemade Pumpkin Pie!

This recipe calls for pumpkin puree as a major ingredient. We recommend making it yourself but if that's not an option, you can use store bought puree. We can't guarantee the taste if you use store bought since we used our own Homemade Pumpkin Puree in this recipe. All of the steps are listed below for your enjoyment but we've also created an easy to print PDF version that you can find at the end of this post. It's perfect for downloading to use later or for printing out and adding to your cookbook!

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Kitchen Items needed: large bowl, pie tin, spoon, aluminum foil, oven, cookie sheet (optional)

- 2 cups homemade pumpkin puree (or one can of store bought)
- 2 eggs
- 3 ground cloves
- ¾ cup of brown sugar
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp ginger
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 14oz can of condensed milk
- pinch of salt
- pie crust (premade or homemade – your choice!)


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

3. Press pie crust into pie tin following directions for the crust.

4. Fill the crust with pumpkin mixture.

5. Place in oven for 1 hour. (Halfway through, cover the exposed crust with aluminum foil to avoid burning.) Tip: Place the pie tin on a cookie sheet for added support.

6. Insert knife or toothpick into pie. If it comes away clean, it’s done. If not, bake a little longer.

7. Let cool for an hour before serving.

P.S. You can always have a little fun and create a smiley face on the top of your pie using a knife!

Are you a pie fan? We'd love to hear about your favorite ones in the comments below!

Don't forget to grab your printable version of the recipe by clicking on the picture below!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Deployment Survival Kit for Military Spouses

Deployments are hard. They're difficult for the people who leave and for those that stay behind. That's why I'm bringing you a few things that you should have in your "survival kit" if you're a military spouse going through a deployment.

*Affiliate links are used in this post. Don't worry - they don't bite! They do help us keep this blog running by helping us with all the behind the scenes costs.*

Are you facing a deployment? Know a friend that's facing a deployment? Then it's time to create a personal deployment survival kit to help them through the tough time!

You can easily substitute the wine with tea, coffee, or another favorite drink. The point is to have some sort of "comfort drink" available for hard days. (I highly recommend drinking your chosen drink in moderation! I do not encourage getting wasted.) Make it a bit more special by picking out a special glass just for those rough days.

Stuffed Companion
This one is super important! Your bed is going to get a bit lonely with your spouse away. Fill it up a little with a comforting stuffed companion. Pick out one that's unique to you! We picked out a stuffed pig named Porkchop for my mom when my dad went away. I have a stuffed Razorback pillow pet named Razor for my companion. He even accompanies me on my travels!

Chick Flicks
Deployments are the perfect time to enjoy those movies that your husband doesn't like! I love indulging in chick flicks when the husband is gone. (Here's a few of my favorites!) If you're not a fan of chick flicks, then I recommend finding a favorite new series on Netflix to spend your time watching.

Epsom Salts
I love my weekly Epsom salt baths! Bubble baths and special body lotions can be good as well. Take a little time for yourself and practice a little self care while your husband is away. Indulge in something special!

A lot is going to happen while your apart. Make sure that you have a good camera to help capture those moments. Let's face it - not all phone cameras produce high quality pictures. I loved emailing some of my favorite moments to my husband while he was deployed. It's a great way to stay connected.

There is going to be a point in the deployment when you start counting down to his return. A calendar will become your best friend during this time! I recommend investing in a whiteboard calendar so that you can adjust dates as needed. Remember, dates are never definite with the military!

So there you have it - a few simple items that can help make your next deployment a little more bearable! Are there any items you would add to the list?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Roll a Date Night

Date nights can be an important part of a happy marriage. They can also be stressful to plan and put together. We smetimes opt for simple dates when we choose to have a night focused on the two of us. There's something special about just spending time together in a low key way. Today, we thought we'd bring you a fun way to pick future date nights. It's a method that will even work last minute!

Sometimes the hardest part about date night is simply making a decision. There are so many things to consider - location, activity, money, etc. We get so caught up in the details that we forget to actually enjoy the night. And what about those random last minute moments when you suddenly have a date night opportunity? How can you decide on something quickly?

We have a fun and simple way to make a decision and all you need is dice! (You decide how many you want to use.)

The only forethought involved in this method is the list we're going to tell you to create right now. This list will save you problems later and can evolve over time. What needs to be on the list? Any date night ideas you can think of!

We've started the list for you with six dates that you can do at home. In fact, you can just use this list if you're too busy to create your own!

1. Board Game Date
2. Movie Date
3. Dinner Date
4. Video Game Date
5. Spa/Relaxing Date
6. Outdoor Date

After you have your list, you'll need dice. For this initial example, we're going to use one die and the list above. How many dice you use will depend on the length of your list. (Bonus Tip: You can always make lots of smaller lists to keep things even more interesting.)

First, make sure you assign a number to each date on the list. Now, you're going roll the die to see what your date night is going to be. For example, if we rolled a three, then we would be planning a nice dinner at home for the two of us.

It's really that simple! Essentially, this method makes it easier and more fun to pick out a date night because you never know what chance is going to pick out for you!

What's your favorite date night idea? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

It's October, which means it's Pumpkin Month! At least that's what we're calling it around here. Pumpkins are everywhere! Since we officially have a kitchen big enough to experiment in, we thought we'd bring you some new recipes. To add a fun twist, we've themed them all around pumpkins this month! Check back every Thursday for a new one!

Many pumpkin recipes call for pumpkin puree. You have two choices - use the canned version or create your own from scratch! We're big fans of doing things from scratch whenever you can. Things are fresher this way, you know exactly where they came from, and you produce less waste in the process.

We're including lots of pictures with this recipe for those that are visual. In addition, we're adding a new bonus to all of our recipes and that's an easy to print PDF that you can use as a reference or add to your cookbook for later. (You'll find that link at the bottom!)

Homemade Pumpkin Puree

Total Time: 1.5 hours

Kitchen Items needed: large bow, cookie sheet, spoon, potato masher, aluminum foil, oven

- pumpkin
- olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Wash the pumpkin and cut it in half.

3. Remove the insides (a spoon can help with this!) and scrape the insides until they are a uniform color. (Save the seeds for roasting! Check back next week for the recipe!)

4. Place inside down on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

5. Rub the outside of the pumpkin with olive oil.

6. Put in the oven for one hour. (Bigger pumpkins may take longer.)

7. Separate the skin from the meat.

8. Mash with a potato masher to create desired consistency. 

9. Use immediately in another recipe or freeze for use in the future.

And of course, don't forget that silly selfie with a pumpkin! (You can tell who the pumpkin lover is of the family...)

Grab the printable copy of this recipe right here!

What's your favorite pumpkin recipe? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Milso's Guide to Self Care

I never really understood the phrase "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" until I got older and started learning about the importance of self care. Self care can be easy when you live on your own and only have yourself to worry about. It gets a little more complicated when you start building a family and have multiple people on your list of responsibilities. I'm a firm believer that you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. This means taking care of yourself as well. That's why I'm bringing you a new series called "The Milso's Guide to Self Care."

For the first post of this series, I want to share ten simple ways that you can practice self care. Future posts will talk about finding time, prioritizing, and various other aspects of self care. In fact, if there's something keeping you from taking care of yourself, let me know about it in the comments!

I know your time is valuable, so I'm going to keep these short, simple, and to the point. Here are ten easy ways to practice self care.

Take a bubble bath. 
Schedule 45 minutes when you can take a bubble bath surrounded by your favorite scents. Don't have 45 minutes? Pick out a new body wash to enjoy in the shower. You have to shower after all.

Enjoy a drink.
Everyone's drink of choice is different. Maybe yours is a cup of coffee while mine is a glass of wine. Take a few minutes and treat yourself to your favorite drink. It'll definitely bring a temporary smile to your lips as you sip away your worries.

Paint your nails.
If time allows, I'd highly recommend treating yourself to a pedicure. If time (and money) doesn't allow for this treat, then I recommend doing an at home mani or pedi. A little color on your nails can definitely help brighten your day!

Sign up for the Military Spouse Wellness Summit.
This is a free event that's happening online so that you can enjoy it from the comfort of your couch at your own pace. If you want a little more information on the summit, you can check out this post where I went into more detail or you can just trust me and sign up here. There's a free option, so you really have nothing to lose. (Don't forget to help a friend out and spread the word about the event!)

Watch your favorite show.
There are so many different ways to watch shows anymore and a lot of them can be done from anywhere with the help of streaming. Steal some time out of your day to watch one episode of your favorite television show. Need a recommendation? Check out a few of our favorites!

Use a special body product.
Pick out a new body product to try and allow yourself to actually enjoy it. This could include a new lotion, sugar scrub, or even a face mask.

Plan a girl's (or guy's) night.
This one might seem difficult if you have to worry about finding a sitter. It doesn't have to be though. Technology allows for a lot of flexibility. You could plan an online girls night through Facebook or texting. Get creative and a solution can appear!

Read a book.
I love reading, but I find that I don't always "have time" to read. As a result, I started including it as part of my bedtime routine. I recommend reading one chapter before bed to relax your mind and body.

Create a happy playlist.
Compile all of your favorite songs onto a single playlist or CD. Use this playlist anytime you need a pick me up - or when you want to make household chores a little more fun. You have my permission to sing and dance.

Take a nap.
This one seems so simple but it can do a lot for our bodies. Sometimes a little extra sleep is all we need to get the pep back in our step. 

Which of these tips will you be trying out in the near future? Is there another way that you put yourself first? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Create Your Own Motion Sickness Kit

As you may recall, we're expecting our first baby in February and we just moved across the country. What you probably don't know is that the wife suffers from motion sickness during any trip that we take (this has been going on since childhood). Pregnancy meant saying no to the usual meds and finding safer remedies for our multiple days trip. Today, we're bringing you a guide to creating your own kit and saying goodbye to those meds for your next trip! (This kit seriously works - there was no throwing up that took place during the trip!)

*Affiliate links have been used in this post. Don't worry - they won't bite you! They help you find the items that we're talking about. They also bring in a little money so that we can keep this blog up and running!*

Most of these items can be found at the dollar store or your local grocery store. We've included links in case you want more information on the items or are an order online lover. 

Closed Container
Any container will do for this first item. I do recommend making sure that it will hold all of the other items and is big enough for you to use as a puke bucket. (Yes, I said puke on our blog.) Growing up, we always had a puke bucket for me to use in the back seat. On this last trip, I decided to buy a cheap container with a lid that would hold all of the goodies for my kit. (Seriously - don't spend a fortune on something you might be vomiting into!) I opted for a round container from the dollar store, but you could easily go with a shoebox shaped container instead. (Hopefully that gives you a size idea as well!)

Acupressure Wrist Bands
These were an absolute life saver and probably the most expensive item in the whole kit. There are several different bands out there, but I opted for these colorful Psi bands. I kept them on the entire time we traveled and I really think they helped a lot. I will say that I felt they helped the most on the first day or two. As my body got used to them, I feel like the effects wore off some. (That's where the other contents of the kit were helpful though!) I do highly recommend trying out the wrist bands if you're prone to motion sickness.

You're probably wondering if I'm losing my mind. Surely sugar and candy is the last thing you want to put into an upset stomach. I'd agree with you on this except for one thing - mint and ginger are both extremely powerful nausea aids. I packed Tic Tacs, peppermint gum, and ginger chews into our kit. I discovered that I'm not much for ginger; however, the Tic Tacs were a life saver on more than one occasion. Whenever my stomach would start feeling queasy, I'd pop a couple in my mouth and it would make a huge difference! (Want to make sure you get the right ones? Click here to double check!)

I'm going to recommend a few different drinks to have on hand. (I kept these in the cooler rather than the kit itself so that they would stay cold.) The first I'm going to recommend is an old remedy I remember from my childhood and that's 7-UP. This was our go to drink as a kid for upset stomachs and I still use it for that to this day. Another drink that's good for upset stomachs is ginger ale (remember that ginger comment above? Yeah - ginger ale doesn't work so well for me.) I also recommend having water and Gatorade on hand for rehydrating as needed. The water can also be helpful if you need to clean up at some point... (Hopefully you won't have to though!)

Bags are super important for two reasons - they work for storage and clean up. I packed several gallon sized sipper bags that could be used for clean up or storage. I also packed a few small trash bags that could be used for clean up. We ended up using them for our trash more than anything. 

This one is especially helpful for kids since they tend to be messier and less in control of their actions. It never hurts to have a change of clothes handy in case there is an inevitable mess that happens. I also recommend having a towel or two on hand for those messy moments that might happen!

I hope these items help you as much as they helped me! Do you have any other suggestions for motion sickness or morning sickness remedies?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ultimate List of Themed Dinner Nights

I love meal planning and finding new recipes to try. I also love being creative and planning themed parties. So, imagine my excitement when I discovered there was a way to combine these two loves! It’s a super simple method called themed dinner nights!

There are two different ways that you can use themed dinner nights to help you make dinner time a little more fun. I’m going to explain the different ways and then I’ll be sharing a list of ideas for themed nights!

Assign Each Night a Theme 

If you’re someone that plans your meals according to the days of the week, themed nights can make it a lot more fun. Simply pick a theme for each night and use it as a guide when coming up with ideas. Most of the themes allow for a lot of variety within them. You could pick different themes each week or reuse the same ones over and over again.

Use Themed Nights for Special Occasions 

You can also use the themed nights to make dinner just a little bit special every now and then. If you’re using them sparingly, then I suggest adding a little extra fun with decorations or activities that keep with the theme of the night. It’s a great way to bring your family together – no matter how big or small!

Ideas Organized by Days of the Week 

Manly Monday – Have the men of the house pick what’s for dinner on this night.
Mexican Monday – Use the many Mexican dishes out there as inspiration for this night!
Meatless Monday – See if you can create an entire meal without using meat.
Meatcentric Monday – Plan your entire meal around your meat. Allow it to take center stage tonight.
Make It Together Monday – Pick out a meal that the family can make together.

Taco Tuesday – Who doesn’t love tacos? You could also add a little variety with taco soups, casseroles, and more. This theme doesn’t have to be limited to just tacos!
Tossed Around Tuesday – Pick out a dish that is usually “tossed” in some manner and use it for inspiration. Salads of all sorts are a great example. The tossed around dish may just be a side but make it a special side!
Try It Tuesday – This is the perfect time to try out that new recipe!

Women’s Choice Wednesday – The women of the house get to choose the meal for tonight!
Winner Wednesday – Have a game night earlier in the week. The winner gets to pick tonight’s dinner.
Wacky Wednesday – Make tonight’s dinner slightly strange.

Throwback Thursday – Pick out something from childhood or that you haven’t enjoyed in a while.
Thrifty Thursday – Use things that you already have on hand. Think of it as the perfect way to save money and use up items in your kitchen.
This or That Thursday – Create a meal that can be used in two different ways. For example, taco meat can be used for tacos or for nachos. Then, create a serving bar and allow everyone to make it their own way!

Fun Friday – Center tonight around a fun activity and plan the food accordingly!
Festival Friday – Think in terms of festival foods. What could you serve at home?
Flat Friday – Tonight’s meal should be flat in appearance – think pizzas, flatbreads, sandwiches, and more!
Fried Friday – If your family loves fried foods, why not limit it to once a week with this themed night?
Fresh Friday – Create a meal using only “fresh” ingredients. No boxed or canned foods for this one!

Saucy Saturday – Let the sauce take center stage tonight! How many foods can you think of that feature a sauce of some sort?
Sandwich Saturday – I think this one is pretty self explanatory…
Souper Saturday – This one is great for fall and winter when soups are all the rage.
Special Saturday – Make Saturday special and make it the day that you eat out.

Spaghetti Sunday – Who doesn’t love spaghetti?
Something Leftover Sunday – The perfect way to get rid of all the leftovers is to assign them a day!
Sleepy Sunday – Make today’s meal a lazy one so that you can lounge around and relax before the busy workweek.

Additional Themes

Pasta – There are so many things that you can do with pasta that it really should get it’s own night!
Italian – Pizza, pasta, calzones…the list goes on and on.
Pizza Night – I’m a pizza lover through and through. I’d be perfectly happy with one night a week dedicated to it. Perhaps it’s a different food for you…
Movie Night – Theme the dinner around a movie. For example, spaghetti is the perfect dinner for Lady & the Tramp.
Someone’s Choice – Involve the whole family in meal planning by assigning each person a different night. This way, everybody gets something that they want throughout the week.
Pantry Clean Out – Start with the items you already have on hand and see what you can create!
Seasonal – Use the seasons to influence what you have. Fall might lend itself to soups while summer lends itself to cold cuts.
Casserole – There are so many different casseroles that you can make. These are perfect for busy nights as well since they can often be prepped in advance!
Crockpot – I love my crockpot! Crockpot night would be perfect for those busy nights that inevitably show up on our calendars!
Specific Meat – If family is big on eating meats, you could theme the nights around specific meats. Turkey Night, Chicken Night, Beef Night, etc.
Grill Out – Pick one night a week and make it the night you grill out. Just make sure you have a rain plan or flexibility in your schedule for this one!
Event themed – Theme it all around a certain event – a ball game, circus, TV show premiere, awards show, etc
Special Occasions – Use the special occasions in your life to create dinner themes. It could be birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, or other things you celebrate with your family.

What other fun nights can you come up with? Share them in the comments so everyone can benefit from them!