Monday, October 19, 2015

October Popsugar Must Have Unboxing

I started getting the Popsugar Must Have boxes back in June. I normally share the contents on my blog, Hodge Podge Moments, but thought I'd change it up a bit and share my unboxing and thoughts here this month.

Overall, I was happy with this month's box. It wasn't my favorite of all of the boxes I've received but it definitely wasn't a bad box.

Savvy Sleepers Luxury Satin Pillowcase, $36

The first item I pulled out of the box was a satin pillowcase. I've never slept on a satin pillowcase before but I'm looking forward to trying it out since the label claims it can refresh your skin and calm your hair while you sleep. That sounds pretty awesome to me. We'll see how it works though...

Richer Poorer Hope Slipper Socks, $15

I love fuzzy socks so these definitely put a smile on my face when I saw them! They are pink and have grippers on the bottom. I'm looking forward to wearing these when the weather gets cooler.

It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product, $11.96

This is a leave in product that claims to work miracles. I'm looking forward to trying out this sample. According to the monthly guide, the company partners with Right Action for Women to provide advanced cancer screening for women. I love companies that support others.

The Honest Company Sea Salt & Sugar Body Scrub, $17

I've heard a lot of good things about the Honest Company, so when I saw a product from them in the box, I was excited. I'm looking forward to seeing if the company lives up to all the hype.

Belgian Boys De Stroopwafel, $1.59

I'm not going to lie - these don't excite me at all. I don't think I've been impressed by any of the snacks that get included in the boxes. I'm going to hang onto them and see if the husband is interested in trying them. I don't think I'll be trying them out.

Easy, Tiger Brown Paper Liquor Bag Set, $8

These are super cute. I would never pay $2 a bag for them but I will be using them for a special project since I have them now. I can't share the project at the moment since it's a surprise for the husband, but I'll share in the future.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling, $25

I knew this item was coming in the box because it was part of a sneak peek email I received. I'm looking forward to reading this book. I'm not sure if I would have picked it out on my own, but since it came in the box, I'm going to give it a try.

Do you subscribe to any subscription boxes? I'd love to hear about them in the comments! Which item was your favorite from the October box?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Sonoma County Home Brewers Competition

On May 23, 2015, we took a chance on a random event that the wife found via Facebook. The event was the Sonoma County Home Brewers Competition in Petaluma, CA. It's way past due, but we're ready to share our thoughts with you about the competition. The husband is taking the lead on this one since the wife has been doing a lot of the writing lately.

As the wife has a tendency to do, she brought up out of the clear blue, this "home brewers competition". Now, if you have ever had some unskilled home brewed beer, you know how nasty it can be. I pictured that guy from the Buffalo Wild Wings commercial with the hoses hanging all over his house. However, anyone who knows me also knows that I am not the kind of person to turn down an adventure, no matter how small or possibly gross.

The day finally comes and we arrive at the pre-determined destination with the help of Lola (our Onstar voice - Robbin Williams fans should get that reference). The location, that appeared to be a high school basketball gym (without the school obviously), was buzzing with people. We were basically rushed into the door. We paid our entry fee and were each handed a glass, 25 tickets, and 1 yellow card, then set loose into the mob. Confused, we made our way to the first table, where we handed one of our tickets over to the home brewer behind the table and were poured our first beer of the event. The first one I had was a rye beer (love the whiskey, hate the beer), and was immediately thrown back.

 (Sorry for the less than stellar pictures - there was terrible lighting in the venue!)

Needless to say, my first impression of this event was not exactly what I would call hopeful. That was soon to change drastically. After finally figuring out what was going on (with help from one of my shipmates who actually won the competition), we discovered one fantastic beer after another (splattered with the inevitably bad one, or the peanut butter stout that was probably the first beer I have ever just dumped).

During the course of this unique and fun filled event, the "Dixie Giants" made an appearance. They cut through the crowd like a marching jazz band having their own parade. Now, to top off the already livening atmosphere, we had very interesting music to go with our great beers.

The judging on this competition was quite skewed. The ten beers that gained the most golden tickets got called up for judging, regardless of the type of beer it was. So, porters and stouts were judged alongside sours and saisons that were up against IPA's and Pilsners, creating an impossible judging situation dependent entirely on preference.

Judging problems aside, This was one of the better events we have been to. Not necessarily up to par with the Dickens or Pirate fair (which we'll be reviewing in the future), but still a great event to attend. I personally give it a solid 7/10.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dear Military Spouse: Take Care of Yourself

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I asked if you were well? Well, I'm back again with advice on how to take care of yourself when you're being pulled in several different directions. One simple step is to sign up for the free, online Military Spouse Wellness Summit, which will be filled with lots of helpful infomation.

This Summit will take place from October 19 - 24. The entire event is online, which is super helpful since so many of us are busy and unable to travel for an event. If you'd like more information on the event, visit my previous post or visit this website and sign up.

Dear Military Spouse,

I wanted to take a moment today to talk about the reality of military life and why it's important for us to take care of ourselves. If you're reading this and you're not a military spouse, please don't turn away. The advice I'm about to give can be extended to anyone. I've addressed it to military spouses simply because this post is related to the Wellness Summit and is part of a series of posts.

I'm going to start by being real with you. I'm that girl that always says "yes" and has a hard time thinking of myself first. I'm constantly doing things for others and trying to make others happy. I'm not a people pleaser but I do like to take care of the ones I love and make their lives easier if I possibly can. I know I'm not the only one like that.

Last year, I moved across the country (SC to CA) in order to marry and move in with my coastie (definition: a member of the Coast Guard). We got engaged, found our first apartment, loaded everything into a uHaul, moved across the country, and were married all within about a month. It was a crazy, wild ride full of emotions. As if that wasn't enough, I found a job within a week of settling into life in California. This all sounds a bit like a fairy tale as I type it out but there were hidden dark layers that I couldn't have predicted.

Life in California proved to be more stressful than I ever could have imagined. Marriage and life with the husband was great but half of the things surrounding it were stressful. My job and health were at the top of that list. Being who I am, I continued to push through and was quite miserable at times, especially during the five month deployment we faced last year.

It was about halfway through the deployment when I made a tough decision - I decided to quit my job at the end of the school year. This was a tough decision for me since I've always been career oriented but in the end, it was the best decision I could have made. I discussed it with my husband (since it would be affecting us both) and we agreed it was the right decision. So, this year, I'm exploring the world of no job and looking forward to being back in the classroom next year. A year off was exactly what I needed to refocus my mind and my life after so many quick changes at once.

Why am I telling you this? Why am I sharing my story from last year? I'm sharing because it taught me something - something that I want to pass onto you. I was trying to do it all - be a good wife, teach a difficult class, and survive the lung problems that reemerged. I wasn't taking time for myself and I wasn't happy with things. I also wasn't able to help others because my life wasn't well and balanced.

I put myself first when I quit my job. (I didn't forget about my family - the decision was made with my husband in mind and with a lot of financial planning.) I didn't realize it at the time but this was beneficial to my marriage and friendships. I'm able to devote more time to making those around me happy since I'm more balanced. In short, an unhappy person is less able to help the ones around them.

So, how do you do it? How do you put yourself first?

Here's a few simple tips:

1. Find a hobby you love - one that is unique to you.

2. Carve out "me time" every week (at least - it's more beneficial to carve out time every day).

3. Exercise. (You help your body and this can also be used as your "me time." I find it hard to focus on others when I'm working out.)

4. Surround yourself with positive. Cut the negative out of your life.

5. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes a little help will lessen your burden and free you up to do the things you enjoy.

6. Downsize your responsibilities. Is there anything in your life that you can cut out? Decide what's the most important.

And perhaps the biggest thing you can do for yourself is to be happy. Don't ever forget that your happiness matters. Figure out what makes you happy and pursue it. (Just don't forget about your responsibilities in the process.)

This is just a small list of things you can do to take care of yourself. I could go on and on with ideas but this letter has gotten too long as it is. I hope you'll come back next Wednesday for more tips for maintaining happiness and wellness.

Until next time,
The Coastie Wife

P.S. Don't forget to invest in yourself - sign up for the Wellness Summit! It's free, so what do you  really have to lose?

Monday, October 12, 2015

Keeping in Touch Despite the Distance

The idea for this post came to me during an email session with the husband. It started as a post about deployments and how to keep in touch during them. Then, it evolved into a post about keeping in touch during a long distance relationship (which we did for a year). Finally, I settled on making it a general post about keeping in touch despite the distance. I'm going to be talking about things that can apply to romantic relationships, friendships, or family. With military families, you are often in a position of long distance from someone you love whether it's your spouse, friends, or family.

Below you're find several ways of keeping in touch with others when you're separated by distance. I've broken it up into categories to make it a little easier.

By Phone:

Instead of texting or emailing, call the people that you're close with on special occasions. A phone call where someone hears your voice means a lot more than text on a screen.

Schedule "phone dates" with others. Set aside a day of the week and make phone calls together a regular thing. It's the perfect time to catch up on each other's lives and talk about all things random.

By Text:

Text is a great way to send quick updates or make quick comments to others.

You can carry on conversations with others via texting. It's perfect when you're trying to multi task or unable to use the phone to talk.

Use texting to send fun pictures to others. You can send pictures of kids or pets in addition to fun selfies and other random things. Sometimes a picture says more than written words.

Find a great link? Send it to your friend via text. It's the perfect place to share things you enjoy with others.

By Email:

Want to send a longer update to a friend but don't have time to call? Email them a letter updating them on everything going on.

Use the attachments feature on emails to send pictures, documents, and other surprises to your friends and family. It's an easy way to send everyone something bigger at the same time. Email allows a few more options than texting can.

Send fun ecards and memes via email. I have been sending the husband daily funnies via email during this latest deployment. Email is our primary form of contact when he's out to sea so I try to make the most of it. 

By Social Media:

Social media provides the perfect place to keep in touch with a mass quantity of people at a time. I use Instagram and Facebook to post general updates for all friends and family. It makes things easier than texting an update to a bunch of people at one time.

Some forms of social media, like Snapchat, can be used to send silly pictures and messages to other people.

Social media provides a creative outlet for keeping in touch with others. You can keep up with each other's lives without much effort. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. I do not recommend using social media as your only method of keeping in touch with others.

By Snail Mail:

Don't forget the classic art of letter writing! Snail mail is underrated today and doesn't get used as often as it could. Just think how surprised your friend will be when he/she opens a letter from you!

Send a card. I love sending Christmas cards and so do a lot of people. What if we extended that tradition to other holidays as well? Make sure you have an address book full of your favorite people and take a little bit of time to spread some love via snail mail.

Send a present or care package! Don't forget that you can send items via mail for others to enjoy. Know a friend that's having a rough time? You might not be able to provide a hug like normal but you could send them something small to cheer them up.

In Person:

This option will probably be used sparingly but it is one that's worth listing. Don't forget to schedule regular trips to see the people that you love. Nothing beats seeing someone in person!

What's your favorite method of keeping in touch across the miles? Are you a classic snail mail lover or are electronic methods more your style? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear how you keep in touch with the ones you love.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Thirty Ways to Celebrate a Birthday

I postponed our normal Friday post until Saturday this week for a reason. (For once, the reasons wasn't procrastination.) Today is the husband's 30th birthday and I wanted to celebrate with our followers. We'll be postponing our celebration until we're in the same location again but I didn't want the day to go unnoticed.

Today, I'm bringing you a list of ideas to celebrate your birthday. (Mine is coming up later this month so this list is perfect timing on two accounts! I won't be 30 yet though.) Since the husband is celebrating 30 years of being alive, I thought I'd include thirty ideas on the list. I hope you enjoy the list and don't forget to wish the husband Happy Birthday in the comments!

1. Send a card.
2. Throw a party.
3. Go out to dinner. (Birthday person's choice.)
4. Go to the spa.
5. Grab a drink.
6. Have a movie marathon. Birthday person's choice.
7. Host a game night.
8. Go to a concert.
9. Go to a renaissance faire. (I've actually done this for my birthday.)
10. Throw a surprise party.
11. Buy a present.
12. Go on a shopping spree.
13. Start a __ before __ list. (I'll be making a 30 before 30 list this year.)
14. Write your future self a letter.
15. Do something you've always wanted to do.
16. Splurge on something you ordinarily wouldn't.
17. Go to an event (festival, fair, carnival, etc).
18. Take a trip.
19. Get a massage.
20. Pamper yourself. (At home or with a simple pedicure.)
21. Order pizza and enjoy a night in.
22. Go for a hike.
23. Go sightseeing in your own town (or nearest city).
24. Get a makeover. (Haircut or have your make up done.)
25. Go out dancing.
26. Go for a nice stroll or carriage ride through downtown.
27. Have a retro night and pretend to be kids again.
28. Get crafty - make something for your birthday or a friend's birthday.
29. Postpone celebrating until a later date. (Sometimes this is the only option you have.)
30. Ignore the day entirely. (For some, this is their favorite option.)

How is the husband celebrating? See #29. I sent the husband several e-cards via email with a message about celebrating later (including a picture of the 30 made out of wine corks). When deployments overlap with holidays, you have to get creative!

Don't forget to wish the husband happy birthday in the comments! I'd also love to hear about your favorite way to celebrate a birthday!

Until next time,
The Coastie Wife