Thursday, December 31, 2015

Year In Review

It's the end of 2015 which means it's the perfect time to do a year in review! Let's see what we've been up to this year!

This was the first year for our blog together so I thought we'd do a his and hers version of the year in review. I'm going to keep it short and simple too so that you can celebrate the new year with the ones you love! Feel free to steal these categories and replicate this on your own blog! All we ask is that you link back to us. I'd love to see more his and hers versions! :)

Favorite Movie of the Year
His: In The Heart of the Sea
Hers: Inside Out

Favorite Song of the Year
His: "Mercy" by Muse
Hers: "Renegades" by X Ambassadors

Favorite Book of the Year
His: The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks
Hers: #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

Favorite Drink of the Year
His: Moscow Mule
Hers: Mulled Wine

Favorite Restaurant of the Year
His: Mama Olla Restaurant in Lima, Peru
Hers: Pizza Antica in Lafayette, CA

Favorite Event of the Year
His: Dickens Faire
Hers: Dickens Faire

Favorite Day Trip of the Year
His: Livermore Wineries
Hers: Livermore Wineries

Favorite Overnight Trip of the Year
His: Temecula, CA
Hers: Crescent City, CA to see the Redwoods

Favorite Memory of the Year
His: Freezing while camping in the Redwoods
Hers: Anniversary trip to Calistoga

We hope that you have a great time ringing in the new year! If you choose to do a year in review post, we'd love to read it! What were your favorite memories from 2015?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Keychain to Ornament Tutorial

One of our traditions is to buy ornaments from the places that we have visited or lived. I've been searching for the perfect San Francisco ornament since we moved to this area. I just wasn't finding it. We recently made a trip down to the Fisherman's Wharf and while I was browsing a souvenir store, I found a keychain that I liked a lot.

"Why don't they make ornaments like that?" I asked myself. It took only a moment for the light bulb to go off in my head - I would make my own ornament! I got so excited that I snatched up a few keychains to make gifts for others as well. They were 3 for $10, so they were quite a steal! I brought them home and got to work. I was so happy with the end result that I thought I'd share a quick tutorial here!

The first step is to find a keychain that you like. I don't really have any tips on which ones to pick out but I would avoid ones that look "tacky." Think about your tree - what would you like to see hanging on it?

The next step is to disconnect the chain part from your key chain. I normally would use pliers but when I went to create the ornaments, I couldn't find any of our pliers. (As it turns out, they were right under my nose the whole time as my husband kindly pointed out when I asked. I'm still wondering where the pair from my toolbox went though...) Since I couldn't find pliers, I improvised with scissors. I used them to separate the chain from the bridge. Since there was a small metal tag labeled "Golden Gate Bridge" attached to the key chain, I had to close the bottom ring after opening it to hold the tag on - I wanted it to be a part of the ornament. This step will look different for different key chains.

The last step is to add an ornament hook and possibly a ribbon to turn it into an ornament. Ornament hooks and ribbon can be picked up for under a dollar making this an inexpensive craft. Each ornament cost less than $4 each to create. When you've finished creating your ornament, hang it on your tree or wrap it up for gifting.

Do you have a special ornament tradition? How do you select which ornaments go on your tree? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Happy Hour: Beer in Other Countries

In my travels through Central and South America, I have discovered a few very important lessons about beer. 

Lesson One
Truly good beer (as in craft beer) is almost impossible to find in the countries I have been to.  However, there is one gem that I have found to be a real delight. Tucked off to the side of Old Town Panama, there is a small craft brewery called La Rana Dorada (in English - the Golden Frog). I don’t know where the owners or the brewers came from, but with a full selection of beers made in house, this place is a true craft brewery. They are the only place I have found outside of the states that has really good beer complete with my favorite, the porter. If you’re worried about your selection and you are headed to Panama, they have an IPA , lager, and a few other beers on tap, all made small batch, and all in house. 

Lesson Two
Avoid the local beer in Peru. I’m not normally one to rule a beer completely out, because everyone has their own taste, but I can honestly say that their beer was plain awful. However, what they lack in beer they make up for with pisco sours. If you get the opportunity, in Peru or Chile, these are an absolute must.

Lesson Three
The United States really needs to quit being stingy with our beer and share the good stuff with the world. The only American beers I have seen in these countries are Budweiser, Miller, and Coors. Personally I think we need to share our great fermented barley and hops with these countries that have come to believe that Americans don’t know good beer because all they get is mass produced beer. 

There is something to be said about the beers they do have in these countries. I have become a bit of a fan of Imperial, Balboa, and Pacifico. None of these are beers that I will go out of my way to find. However, they are not bad beers (in my opinion, better than our exported beer) and every once in a while I do find myself craving an Imperial. 

So, for all of you sailors out there who are afraid of what you may be stuck drinking in these countries, fear not, for there is always a port in the storm. The standing rule is, that every country has people who love their good drink. My advice, find someone local you can communicate with (language barriers make it a little tough) and see what they like to drink. You may find yourself down an unusual but tasty rabbit hole. 

Last piece of advice - if you are ever in Roatan Honduras and someone asks you to try their local liquor, don’t… just don’t. It’s been two years and I can still taste that awful liquid. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Twelfth Day of Christmas: Holiday Wishes

On the twelfth day of Blogmas, The Coastie Couple shared their holiday wishes...

When we first came up with this prompt for the 12 Days of Blogmas, I was picturing a post where we shared our Christmas list with everyone. Then, I realized that we don't really have a Christmas list. Every time our families have asked what we want for Christmas, our response has been "We don't know." I think our families are getting really tired of hearing that. Next year, I think it might be a good idea to write out a list starting in October and keep adding to it. That way come December, we can share the list with everyone who is bound to ask what we want for Christmas.

In reality, we got the one thing that really matters to us for Christmas - we get to spend it together. With his job and deployment schedule, that's not always a guarantee. In fact, I'm sending virtual love to all the families that can't be together for Christmas due to deployment. Missing holidays is never any fun (been there, done that), which is why I want to send a little extra love your way.

We do have one Christmas wish and that's for all of our readers to have a happy holiday and an even better new year!

And here's our small gift to you - our virtual card since we couldn't possibly send cards via snail mail to everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Eleventh Day of Blogmas: Holiday Photos

On the eleventh day of Blogmas, The Coastie Couple shared eleven holiday photos...

Today's post is all about pictures! We love taking pictures and chose to share a few of the things we've done this December with you!  (P.S. These are in no particular order!)

The wife wore a Christmas tree skirt to an ugly sweater party. It was a big hit!

We enjoyed the holiday decorations at the Castello in Calistoga, CA.

We got this beautiful ornament in an ornament exchange at the spouses party.

We've had a lot of fun hiding the elf around the apartment! 

The husband posed with the nutcrackers guarding the tree in Petaluma, CA.

The wife had fun playing holiday games with friends.

 We created our very own tree on the wall to compensate for our small space!

We started off the season with a little decorating and an Elf movie night.

We enjoyed the Dickens Fair after Thanksgiving and the husband even dressed up!

The wife had a lot of fun decorating cookies!

We saw real reindeer at the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.

What have you done this holiday season? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tenth Day of Blogmas: Facts

On the tenth day of Blogmas, The Coastie Couple shared facts about them...

For today's prompt, we're sharing 10 facts about us! Some of these you may know - others you might not!

1. We got engaged on the flight deck of his ship during a tiger cruise (when family and friends get to ride on the boat with their coastie for a short amount of time).

2. We love craft beer.

3. We were neither one big wine drinkers before we met each other. We developed our love of wine together.

4. We love to hike.

5. We can't wait to move to a bigger apartment.

6. We both own Chevy cars.

7. We live across the street from a Trader Joe's and prefer to walk there instead of driving somewhere.

8. We're both from the Southeast.

9. We both love dogs.

10. We both enjoy writing fiction in our free time.

What's something you'd like to share about yourself? We love getting to know our followers!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Ninth Day of Blogmas: Holiday Songs

On the ninth day of Blogmas, The Coastie Couple shared nine holiday songs...

Today, we're sharing our holiday playlist! I'm looking forward to checking out all of the other playlists that link up today!

1. Jingle Bell Rock

2. Winter Wonderland

3. Thistlehair the Christmas Bear

4. The First Noel

5. 12 Days of Christmas

6. The Christmas Song

7. Grandma Got Ran Over By A Reindeer

8. Silver Bells

9. Do You Hear What I Hear?

You're getting a bonus "Christmas Songs for Kids" list because a lot of those kept coming to mind - probably from my years as a teacher! Here's 9 additional songs that kids will enjoy. :)

1. Little Drummer Boy

2. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

3. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

4. Frosty the Snowman

5. Santa Claus is Coming to Town

6. Twelve Days of Christmas

7. All I Want for Christmas

8. Deck the Halls

9. Jingle Bells

Friday, December 18, 2015

Eighth Day of Blogmas: Holiday Food & Drink

On the eighth day of Blogmas, The Coastie Couple shared eight holiday favorites...

This prompt came at the perfect time! I was just asking the husband what we should do for Christmas dinner earlier today. In case you're wondering, we haven't established our menu yet. I've set a deadline of the weekend for establishing what we're having so that we have plenty of time to shop.

1. Festive Appetizers
I'm sure you know the ones I'm talking about - one example are the trees made out of fruits and vegetables. Parties are a big thing for the holidays and with parties come a need for appetizers. If you search for holiday appetizers, you are bound to come across classic trays that have been converted into holiday shapes for more festivity.

2. Cooked Ham
I tend to think of ham as a Christmas food and turkey as a Thanksgiving food. Both are very labor intensive and take hours to cook which makes them great for holidays filled with family and festivities. I don't think our list would be complete without the inclusion of ham.

3. Turkey & Dumpling Casserole
This is a favorite that came to mind for the husband. This is a casserole that his grandma makes which consists of turkey, homemade dumplings, spices, and cream of mushroom soup. I haven't had this casserole yet so I can't attest to its value but the husband got very excited talking about it. It seemed perfect for the list too since casseroles are in high abundance around the holidays!

4. Homemade Macaroni & Cheese
I love macaroni and cheese - especially when it's homemade. It seems to be one of those things that comes out around the holidays more than other times of the year. I think I'm going to try to make my own this year. It's a nice side dish to that ham we mentioned earlier!

5. Candied Yams
The husband loves his candied yams! I will admit that they are a nice dessert type addition to our holiday meals. I'm not big on sweets but these do turn out well. They are also his favorite dish to bring to holiday get-togethers with friends.

6. Cookies
You can't have a list of Christmas foods without cookies. Cookie decorating is a huge activity for families this time of year! Between cookie swaps and decorating parties, cookies can be found in abundance when the Christmas trees come out. In fact, I'm going to a cookie party tomorrow night!

7. Mulled Wine
This has become a new favorite this year. When we went to the Dickens Faire, we enjoyed some of their spiced mulled wine. It was so good that the husband was determined to make some when we got home.  It turned out really well and we'll definitely be making some more before the holiday season is up. I haven't been able to talk him into sharing his recipe on the blog yet though.

8. Eggnog
Remember a couple of weeks ago when we shared our eggnog recipe?  This drink has been a holiday tradition for us since our first year of dating when the husband first introduced me to it. It's a drink that I look forward to every December.

What's on your holiday foods list? Have you decided on your menu yet for the big day? I'd love to hear what's on it if you have! (It might help me finalize our own menu!)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Seventh Day of Blogmas: Winter Activities

On the seventh day of Blogmas, The Coastie Couple shared seven winter activities...

I'm going to keep today's post short because today I'm experiencing one of the not-so-fun sides of the holidays - getting sick. It seems like the change in the weather always brings sickness with it for me and for others. Being sick is certainly not one of my favorite activities, but unfortunately it is an activity that comes with the season.

To brighten up my day (and your day), here's a list of fun activities for the holidays!

1. Decorating the house.  There's something special about all the greenery and twinkling lights.

2. Building a snowman. This one is a bit more regional and I'm hoping the next place we go has some snow so that I can enjoy this activity in the future.

3. Holiday festivals. I love going to see light shows and attending holiday events like the Dickens Faire.

4. Holiday movie nights.  I love putting on warm pajamas, fuzzy socks, and curling up to watch a movie. Add in some hot chocolate and it's nearly the perfect night.

5. Simple walk or stroll. I love taking walks in the winter (especially if there's snow). To me, a winter walk is much more enjoyable than a summer walk because I don't have to worry about my clothes getting drenched in sweat.

6. Holiday parties. I love all of the fun parties that come with the holidays - especially the fun themed parties. There's something great about having fun with your friends.

7. Baking cookies. I love to bake and the holidays always provide plenty of reasons to bake. I'm not the best at baking cookies but I am getting better every year! (Brownies really are more my specialty.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sixth Day of Blogmas: Holiday Movies

On the sixth day of Blogmas, The Coastie Couple shared six holiday movies...

 *Affiliate links are used in this blog post. They help you find the movies mentioned and we earn a tiny bit to help keep the blog running!*

Today, we're bringing you six of our favorite holiday movies. (P.S. Click on any of the images to find the movies on Amazon!)

The Grinch
The Grinch is a movie that kids and adults alike can enjoy. It has a fun story line complete with an important message - Christmas is more than material items.

Christmas with the Kranks 
Tim Allen seems to have a lot of luck with good holiday movies. We had to debate between The Santa Clause & Christmas with the Kranks when we were making our list. (We didn't want to show too much favoritism for one actor after all!) Christmas with the Kranks won for it's fun antics and good story line.

We had to include at least one animated classic on the list. Rudolph won by a long shot because it's one of my favorites from childhood. (Little known fact - my car is nicknamed Rudolph for it's bright red color.) Rudolph is a sweet story that focuses on differences being valuable as well.

Polar Express
This is a well-loved book that was turned into a great movie. The animation in this movie is outstanding and the story reminds us of the importance of believing. This one also lends itself to a perfect movie night cuddled up in warm pajamas!

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
The husband added this one to the list. (I hate to admit it but I've never actually seen it.) It demonstrates the essence of dysfunctional family get-togethers. It also displays the inevitable Charlie Foxtrot that comes with almost any holiday gathering. And of course you can't forget about crazy cousin Eddy - every family has one.

Borrowed Hearts
This one was my addition to the list. We started watching Borrowed Hearts when I was in high school and it quickly became a yearly tradition. It started out that we would always catch it on TV until it stopped coming on TV and we had to look for a DVD copy. It's a great reminder of what the holidays are all about and that people can change.

We also wanted to offer this simple movie and entertaining tip. If you're looking for a fake fireplace, Netflix has a Fireplace for Your Home available for the holidays!

What would make your list of Christmas movies?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Fifth Day of Blogmas: Golden Memories

On the fifth day of Blogmas, The Coastie Couple shared five golden memories...

So, the original plan was to share five memories. Instead, we'll be sharing four memories and a hope for the future. I decided I'd reflect on the holidays that we have spent together as a couple, which means four memories. (I'm adding on a hope for the future to complete the "five" of the fifth day!)

Christmas 2012
This was our first Christmas together. We spent Christmas Eve at my parents' house which is tradition in my family. We ate finger foods and played games together before going back to my apartment to open our gifts after midnight. We spent the next day watching Christmas movies, drinking wine, and snuggling with my dog on the couch.

Christmas 2013
This was our second Christmas together. It was also our Christmas as a long distance couple. The husband was able to take leave and we met partway in Arkansas where his family lives. We spent the holidays with his family which meant multiple celebrations with various family members. It was a lot of fun and there were even a few late night walks in the snow.

Christmas 2014
This was our first Christmas as a married couple. We kept it low key with dinner, gifts, Christmas movies, and some Wii time. The husband was only in for a short time from deployment so it was a bit of a bittersweet holiday.

Christmas 2015
This one isn't quite a memory yet but we've definitely done things already that we'll talk about for years to come - including our trip to Calistoga, where the wineries were already decked to the nines for the holidays. We'll also be talking about our wall tree for years to come.

Christmas Future
Our hope for the future is to eventually have a place big enough for a real tree and family near enough to visit for the holidays. We don't know yet what the future holds but I can guarantee that we'll make the best of every situation we find ourselves in!

What's your favorite Christmas memory?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Fourth Day of Blogmas: Holiday Quotes

On the fourth day of Blogmas, The Coastie Couple shared four holiday quotes...

This was a really hard prompt to complete. There are SO many good quotes out there! We did eventually narrow it down to four but I can't say they are the "best" four since there's so many more we could have chosen!

"Son of a nutcracker" is a phrase used in the movie Elf. It's such a fun phrase that has multiple meanings depending on your age. Since Elf has become a part of our traditions, it seemed fitting to pick a quote from the movie.

This quote is a memorable one from Christmas Story. It's a piece of advice that is given in the movie and comes up a time or two. The husband felt like it was a good one to include on the list.

Christmas with the Kranks is another movie that we seem to watch every year. The husband randomly said "Free Frosty!" which is an integral piece of this movie and I felt it was a fitting quote to add to our list. I sure hope we never give up on Christmas like the Kranks did in the movie!

After a long discussion about how great Dr. Seuss was, we sat down to watch The Grinch for the first time this year in hopes of finding a great quote. This one is near the end of the movie and it sums up things in such a good way. It's a quote that goes beyond the movie and truly describes what Christmas is - it's not gifts or material things but rather a feeling that comes. This quote is a good reminder of what is important at the holidays.

What would make your list of quotes?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Third Day of Blogmas: Signs of the Season

On the third day of Blogmas, The Coastie Couple shared three signs of the season...

Happy Friday! I hope you have something fun and festive planned for the day. I believe we're going to the movies and then I'll be attending an ugly sweater party with my Bunco group.

Today's topic is all about the signs of the season. These are the things that tell you Christmas is right around the corner. To make today's post a little more fun, we did a "he said, she said" sort of approach. You'll notice our lists cross over a tiny bit but not a ton.

The Husband says:

Store shelves - I know the holidays are coming with floods of decorations start to appear on the shelves.

Christmas lights - When towns and homes start lighting up in different colors, it's a sure sign that Christmas is coming.

Christmas carols - Music is another signal that Christmas is on it's way. The music that comes with the holidays is very distinct and everywhere this time of year.

The Wife says:

Christmas lights - I know the holidays are coming when I see that the town has decorated the streets. I love seeing the twinkling lights.

Holiday movies - One of the signals that Christmas is coming is the ABC Family Countdown to Christmas and the holiday section on Netflix. There are those certain movies that are best enjoyed by the light of a Christmas tree.

Trees - Tree lots have popped up everywhere! They smell of evergreen and tend to have twinkling lights around them. When I start seeing the green of trees, I know the holidays are coming!

We would love to hear about the things that tell you the holidays are around the corner! We also invite you to link up with us below so that we can check out your great holiday posts!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Second Day of Blogmas: Acts of Kindness

On the second day of Blogmas, The Coastie Couple shared two acts of kindness...

Today, we're going to be sharing two acts of kindness with you. The husband has duty so it's the wife here today sharing her thoughts. I have to say that these may seem a bit unconventional but I have discovered that kindness had different faces in different parts of the country.

The first act of kindness I would like to talk about is the concept of "pay it forward." This can be as simple as leaving change in the soda machine for the person behind you or it could equal paying for someone else's meal while you're out to eat. The thought behind "pay it forward" is that if everyone does a small act, then the world will be a happier place. We once experienced a pay it forward situation when we were leaving Sacramento. Someone payed for our exit from the parking garage in advance. It was a nice feeling to know that a complete stranger had done something nice for us. I try my best to do small acts here and there that might brighten a stranger's day - including things as simple as leaving a little extra change behind.

The next act of kindness I want to talk about is a simple one that I took for granted when I lived in the south. In the south, we called this act of kindness manners. It's the concept of saying "thank you" and "have a nice day" even to service industry workers. I never realized that politeness was a truly southern thing until I moved away from the south. Now, I'm not saying that no one here has manners. I'm simply saying that I encounter it a lot less here. It still amazes me that a simple "have a nice day" told to a waitress or cashier can make them smile. It amazes me that this isn't a more normal part of their day.

With that being said and explained, I want to encourage you to make a small change in your daily routine. I want to challenge you to tell everyone you meet to have a nice day - at least for a day or two. Then, I want you to reflect on how those people reacted. Were they surprised? Were they happy? Did they wish you a happy day in return? Moving across the country has taught me that small acts of kindness do matter and shouldn't be overlooked in our busy schedules.

What nice thing have you done lately? It doesn't matter how big or small - I want to hear them all!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

First Day of Blogmas: Tradition

On the first day of Blogmas,The Coastie Couple shared a favorite holiday tradition...

Traditions are a funny thing. They hold different meaning for different families. They also take shape in many different ways. My favorite types of traditions are the ones that come about naturally - the ones where you look up five years down the road and realize that you do something the same way every year. Since we're still early in our marriage, we're still working on forming traditions and that's okay. There's also the military plays into our equation on a regular basis.

Since we are a military family, this topic was a bit difficult to figure out for us. The husband spends a lot of time away from home, which doesn't leave much room for tradition. Hopefully that will change in the future when we're stationed at a different unit. Until then, we make due with what we have and I've listed a couple of things that pass as tradition for us.

Decorating after Thanksgiving
I don't like that Thanksgiving is often overshadowed by Christmas. Christmas is my favorite time of the year but that doesn't mean it should overshadow other holidays. For this reason, I always wait until after Thanksgiving to decorate my place. I often choose to do it Thanksgiving weekend because I have extra time during the holiday break. This year was no exception - we decorated our apartment together on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Elf Shenanigans
Last year, I purchased a cheap elf ornament from Target and used it for a little fun while the husband was deployed. This year, the same elf has made an appearance in our apartment. The difference is that we're both moving him around and having a little fun with him. We've even turned it into a little game to make the holidays more fun. I foresee more elf shenanigans in our future - hopefully with kids someday!

Like I mentioned above, it's hard to keep traditions going when deployment schedules are a frequent part of our lives. We do the best with what we can and I foresee many more traditions developing in the future!

Are you joining us for the 12 Days of Blogmas?  If you are, then link up below! If you're not, feel free to check it out and hop in on the fun at any time!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Book Review: The New Military Wife's Guide to Deployment

As you may know, we've been through several deployments during our time together. I've actually lost count at this point - I believe it's been five or six. This is why I was excited when I was offered the chance to read and review The New Military Wife's Guide to Deployment by Heather Goffrier of Happy Fit Navy Wife. I'm excited to bring you my review below.

I have to admit that I wasn't sure what to expect from Heather's book. I wasn't sure if I would be able to relate or not since every deployment and situation is different. I was pleasantly surprised to find myself saying "yes" to almost everything in the first chapter. I guess even though situations are different for everyone, a lot of the feelings and sentiments are the same.

I wish this book had been written three years ago - it would have helped me out a lot when we first started our deployments. Instead, I muddled along and found my own way, which has worked as well. I highly recommend this book for wives that are new to deployments and even to those that are old hats at it.

New wives will gain some insight about what to expect. As a new wife reading this book, you'll also gain some valuable tips on how to take care of yourself during a deployment. This is something that we often forget when our husbands are away. If you're interested in reading it, why not click here and use the special code of MIL20 for twenty percent off through the end of December!

Been through several deployments already? I still recommend giving this book a read. Like I mentioned, I've been through five or six deployments at this point (all 3 to 5 months long) and I still enjoyed reading this book. I enjoyed the book because it reminded me that everything I feel during a deployment is normal. I liked that it gave me the chance to feel like I'm not alone. In fact, I read this book at the end of our most recent deployment and found myself saying "yes" to a lot of the things Heather mentions.

Since this book is a quick read, I think I'm going to give it another read when our next deployment starts. (There always seems to be one right around the corner with this boat!) Want to join me in reading the book? Check out the sales page and get 20% off with the code MIL20 through December 31!