Thursday, December 29, 2016

Looking to the Future

It's the end of the year, which means it's the perfect time to reflect and set new goals for the future. With a little one on the way, next year is going to be extremely unpredictable. That doesn't mean we can't aim for a few small changes here and there alongside the major change. Let's face it - we really could just make our goal "survive the first year of parenthood" but where's the fun in that?


So, let's get into those goals for the New Year and what changes you might see coming to the blog as well!

Money
Each PCS move brings new adjustments to money as living situations and housing allowance change. It also brings adjustments to work schedules, cost of living, and a variety of other things. We're slowly figuring out what our new normal is for this area which is where this first focus comes in. I would like to see us rebuild our savings and incorporate more day to day savings into our lives.

House
We have so many goals for the house that I can't even name them all. It's been a constant project since we moved in! A few of the projects on the list for next year include a new deck on the back of the house and a garden in the springtime. Beyond that, you'll have to keep checking back to the blog for updates!


Health
PCS and travel took a bit of a toll on our health. It's really hard to eat healthy and at home when you're on the road and living in temporary quarters. Now that we have our own kitchen and items to work with, we've started back to eating at home. We're also slowly making changes to the items that are brought into our house to make sure that they are healthy. This doesn't mean we're perfect all of the time. It means we make conscious efforts everyday to do better. You can follow along with our healthy adventure on the wife's absandanchors Instagram account.



Marriage
We don't really have a "goal" to go along with this one. It's more a matter of maintaining a healthy marriage. We'll also be working on adjusting to life as a family of 3 (5 if you count the dogs) instead of 2.


Family
Honestly? I think do our best in our first year of parenthood should suffice for this category. Since baby boy isn't due until February, we'll be spending the beginning of the year getting prepared for his arrival. (P.S. Anything you'd like to us to share about our process?)


Blog
You'll be seeing a few updates to the blog over the course of 2017 and I'm excited to share them below:

He Said, She Said
This is a new series coming to the blog for the first part of the year. This series will serve a few functions - it will allow us to bring in some guests while we adjust to our lives as parents and it'll allow you to read some of the funny answers that come from a couple answering the same questions. Here's an example of a past He Said, She Said post. Normally, we answer various questions ourselves. For this one, we're inviting guests to join us and we'll be sharing their answers with you! In fact if you'd like to be a featured guest on the series, please email me at thecoastiewife@gmail.com with He Said, She Said as the title.

More Posts from the Husband
As I mentioned on Tuesday, you'll be seeing more posts from the husband in the near future! He's always been a part of this blog (coming up with ideas, recipes, taking pictures, etc) but he'll be getting back to writing posts. In fact, he has a DIY post that he's excited about for January.

More Home Posts & Less Deployment Posts
Now that we're home owners, you're likely to see more home posts sprinkled through the blog. In the same effect, the husband is no longer attached to a boat that deploys often so you'll see few posts about that topic as well. Don't forget that we have some great ones in the archives though! Simply click the military tab on our sidebar to get there.

Recipes
We'll be getting back to weekly recipes later this year. Each recipe will come with a nice printable as well. In fact, you could start building a cookbook from our recipes later this year.

And so much more!
I'm going to leave this section pretty open-ended because we're still making plans and the blog is still evolving as we do. It truly is an extension of our little family and I'd love to keep it that way.


So, here's to the New Year - may it be filled with baby snuggles, wet dog kisses, and lots of new adventures!

And because we're always curious - what are you planning for 2017?



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Self Reflection

Healthy communication is a huge part of a strong relationship. With that being said, I love the new link up I found from Belle Brita and plan to participate in each month. Each month, her husband and her interview each other and post the answers on their blog. They're now inviting others to join in and we'll definitely be participating in the future.


Normally, the husband would be answering these questions as well. It's taken us a few months to get past the humdrum of deployments, moving, buying a house, pregnancy, and him settling in at a new station. We're finally starting to settle in and he'll be rejoining me more here on the blog. (Seriously - he already has a post he's excited to write about a DIY project.) In the meantime, I'm going to be answering the questions for December. He'll be joining me in January for those questions.

You can expect a few new things from us in 2017 as our lives take a new direction as homeowners, pet owners, and parents. We'll still be sharing lots of great content, just with a new perspective on things. I'll be talking more about these changes in our next post though. This one is all about reflecting through the questions for the month.

1) How have you become a better person this year?
I have grown a lot as a person this year. I have learned to be me in all situations. I've spent this past year doing a lot of self reflection on my values and what I want out of life. Along with this has been many conversations about the same topics with my husband. After buying our house in the country, many people told me they were surprised by our choice. For me though, the choice feels exactly right. I grew up near a city but I'm quickly learning to be more of a country girl and I love that.

I'm not going to lie - the prospect of being a mother has also made me reevaluate my values and what I want to be passing on. This is an area that I'm constantly working on lately. I'm sure it's one that I'll continue to work on in the future. Making decisions for someone else is twice as difficult as making hard decisions for yourself.


2) What do you think about creative outlets? Do you have one, and if so, what is it? 
I love creative outlets and I have several different ones. The blogs that I run (Hodge Podge Moments, The Coastie Couple, and a new one coming in January) are a major creative outlet for me. In addition to the blogs, I also enjoy photography, crafting, cooking, and writing. I tend to be happiest when I'm being creative.


3) In a perfect world, what would be your top 5 priorities in life? 
I would like to think that my top 5 priorities are the same regardless of how perfect the world is - family, friends, happiness, helping others, and staying true to my values. These are values that I feel would be with me regardless of the condition of the world. I'm a strong believer in putting your community (family and friends) and happiness towards the top of your list.  (P.S. The dogs are included in my definition of family.)


4) What do you want to improve about your life in 2017?
I'll be talking more about exact goals in the next post, but I can give an overview now. The things I want to improve in my life are all centered around the way I live my life - the products I use, the choices I make, and the way I live my life. Check back Thursday for more details on each of these areas!

How was your 2016? We'd love to hear the highlights in the comments below!

Until next time, happy living and we hope you make the most of your day!

Oh and go link up at Belle Brita with your own answers!



Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Holiday Blogging Challenge

Last year, we teamed up with The Petite Mrs to bring you the 12 Days of Blogmas. This year, we're changing the challenge just a bit to be the Holiday Blogging Challenge. This is a challenge that we hope to make an annual challenge, with each year being themed around a different song. Read on below for all of the fun and how you can be involved!


Each year, we'll be hosting the Holiday Blogging Challenge with The Petite Mrs. This challenge is an interactive challenge built around holiday writing prompts and a link up. Each year, we pick a different song to inspire the challenge. Last year, we used "The 12 Days of Christmas" to inspire our prompts. This year, we went in a different direction and chose "The Christmas Song."(If you're not familiar with the song, you can watch this video or read the lyrics.)

Now that you know which song inspired our prompts, let's get on to them! You'll notice that the prompts are grouped by the song lyrics that inspired them.

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire"
What is your favorite food during the holiday?
Do you have a favorite holiday recipe?
What are your favorite holiday activities to do by firelight?

"Jack Frost nipping at your nose"
What's your favorite holiday movie?
What does it mean to you?
Which movies make your must see list every year? 

"Yule-tide carols being sung by a choir"
Do you sing carols?
What are your favorite holiday songs?

"And folks dressed up like Eskimos."
What's the weather like where you live? 
What are your winter weather clothing essentials?
Share your favorite winter fashion accessories.

"Everybody knows a turkey and some miseltoe
Help to make the season bright"
How and when do you decorate?
Do you have a theme for your decorating?
Do you prefer a real tree or a fake tree?

"Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow."
How do you make the season festive for your kids?
What do your kids look forward to every year?

"Will find it hard to sleep tonight."
Do you have a nightly routine?
How do you sleep when you're excited?
What do you do when you can't sleep?

"They know that Santa's on his way
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh."
What's on your wishlist?
What are some favorite gifts you've received?
What are some favorite gifts you've given?

"And every mother's child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly."
What is your Christmas Eve tradition?
Did you write a letter to Santa? 
Will you leave treats for Santa?
What did you believe as a child?

"And so I'm offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two"
What are your favorite holiday memories?
Do you have any traditions left from childhood?
What new traditions have you started as an adult?

"Although it's been said many times, many ways
Merry Christmas to you."
What holiday or holidays do you celebrate?
How do you wish people a Merry Christmas?

*Lyrics to this song are credited to Nat King Cole. 
Lyrics have been included in quotes and italics*


Now that you have the prompts to work with, I bet you're wondering about the rules. We've kept them pretty simple. The focus of this challenge is spreading holiday cheer in the blogging world - not creating unnecessary rules and guidelines to follow.

The Super Simple Rules

1. You are free to link up any holiday related posts, even if they don't fit perfectly with the prompts. The prompts are merely guidelines to help you out.

2. Please select a badge from those below and include it on your post with a link back to The Petite Mrs & The Coastie Couple.

3. You may link up one post per day on the link up. The link up is open December 1-25. This post is the one you should come back to each day to link up. We've kept it simple - there is not a new link up every day.

4. Please do not link drop and run! For each link that you add, please spread the love to two other bloggers in the link up.

5. Share this post with your blogging buddies! The more people that participate, the more fun and interaction we'll have!

P.S. You can do one holiday post or twenty five holiday posts. It's entirely up to you! This challenge is designed to work with your normal blogging schedule. (For example, we will be posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays like we have for the past few months.)

Snag a badge for your blog or post:






Now it's time to link up!
Don't forget to return to this post from December 1-25 to link up all your holiday posts!




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ten Unique Christmas Countdown Ideas

Hopefully we're not the only ones counting down to Christmas! It tends to be a pretty fun and festive time of the year, so we thought we'd bring you a few ideas for counting down to the big day! Feel free to share your own countdown traditions in the comments at the end!


You could do a simple countdown involving a daily piece of candy, but we thought it'd be more fun to be creative. So, today you're getting ten ideas for making your countdown unique this year. (Psst...you can always buy a candy advent calendar at the store if creativity isn't your thing.)

Countdowns can be as long or as short as you'd like. You could do one for everyday from 1-25, the twelve days of Christmas, or just the weekends. Essentially, it's up to you how long you make your countdown.

1. Give your mismatched socks a purpose.
Do you have a lot of mismatched or old socks hanging around? Give them new life by filling them with small goodies and hanging them on a clothesline. They'll look like mini stockings filled with a special treat everyday!

2. Create a movie countdown.
You can create a movie countdown in two different ways. The first way is to assign each movie to a day (much like the popular ABC Family countdown) or you can wrap all of your holiday movies and open a new one each night. This creates an element of surprise since you won't know which one you're going to watch until you open it!

3. Use local events as your countdown.
Look for local events that are happening and schedule one for each weekend leading up to the big holiday. This will get you in the Christmas spirit and out of the house for a while. Many of these events are free or low cost, so you can enjoy the holiday without breaking your budget.

4. Create a coupon countdown.
Make the countdown special with redeemable coupons that you make yourself. This is perfect if you're looking for a special way to treat your significant other or children to extra surprises. They can be as simple as "good for one hug." If you're making the countdown just for yourself, you could use self love coupons as a way to treat yourself.

5. Decorate the tree.
You could start a new tradition by turning the task of decorating the tree into a countdown of sorts. Each night, you could add a new ornament (or two depending on how many you have) to the tree until you have a full tree on Christmas day!

6. Create a nightly reading routine.
I've seen this one floating around for the past few years and I immediately fell in love with the idea. Unfortunately, I don't know where the idea originated so I can't give proper credit. Take 25 holiday themed books and wrap them in the same wrapping paper. Each night, have your child select a book to read before bedtime from the pile.

7. Use the reindeer for inspiration.
You could do a 9 day countdown using the reindeer for inspiration. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Maybe you dance around the Christmas tree on Dancer's night and wear red on Rudolph's night. There are lots of ways you can get creative with this one!

8. Create your own 12 Days of Christmas.
This could be a fun countdown to create for the family! Each day, you'll build on how many things you do. For example, on the first day of Christmas, you might decorate on the house. Then, on the second day of Christmas you might watch two holiday movies. Number a sheet of paper from one to twelve and let your creativity guide you!

9. Countdown using crafts.
Do you enjoy making crafts? Use the holiday season as an excuse to get crafty! You could plan your countdown around holiday crafts that you'd like to create. This is also a good way to make unique gifts for the special people on your list.

10. Learn about holidays around the world.
In the classroom, we turned the holiday season into a learning opportunity. Each day, the students would learn about a different country and the holiday traditions. They loved learning about new places and it was a great way to countdown the season. There are lots of books, craft ideas, recipes, and other goodies available on the Internet to make this a reality.

Bonus Idea: Make your own countdown!
You can always create your own countdown as well with different activities that your family will enjoy. You can do it in calendar form, with envelopes hanging on the wall, or even a good old fashioned paper chain. It may take a little extra work, but the personal touch will be worth it in the end!

Just for Bloggers: Countdown the holidays with the 
Holiday Blogging Challenge!

On December 1, The Petite Mrs and The Coastie Couple will be posting prompts and a link up for the holiday blogging season. We're inviting other bloggers to join us as we spread holiday cheer around the blogosphere. We'll be covering a wide variety of topics with our prompts, including fashion, traditions, movies, food, activities, memories, and so much more! Everyone is invited to participate by writing posts related to the prompts and linking them up to share. There is no set schedule or format, so you can easily incorporate it into your own blogging schedule! The link up will be live from December 1-25 to allow for lots of fun and interaction.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

We hope you're enjoying time with your family and friends on this holiday. We're wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and bringing you a reminder to be thankful today and everyday.

Happy Thanksgiving!
 
 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ten Reasons I'm Thankful for our Military Lifestyle

We have been through a lot of ups and downs this year. Some of these ups and downs have been related to the military and the lifestyle we live as a result. I've been working hard lately to focus on the positives and wanted to put some of this into text for others that might be struggling with the lifestyle.


There are times when the military lifestyle can seem like too much to handle. There are other times when the lifestyle presents us with opportunities that we wouldn't have experienced without it. It's not always easy to focus on the positive, but I want to encourage you to make your own list like this one!

1. It allowed me to meet my husband. (Seriously - he wouldn't have been in Charleston if it wasn't for the military.)

2. We have gotten to see the country more than once. (This summer was our second cross country move together.)

3. We have met some incredible people in the military community and outside of the military community.

4. I know exactly how strong our relationship can be due to deployments and other military moments. (Trust and communication are definitely high priorities in our marriage.)

5. Our lifestyle (and our frugal nature) is allowing me to be home with our baby when he's first born. (We both believe that those first years are pretty crucial ones.)

6. We were able to use a VA loan to purchase our first home together. (Buying a home wasn't the original plan when we found out we'd be PCSing to Michigan but it's one that we're happy we made.)

7. The military lifestyle has taught us what's important in life. (Hint: It's not money!)

8. We've gotten to experience life in many different climates which is pretty cool. (I had no idea how beautiful fall could really be...)

9. Although it can create extra obstacles, our insurance has treated us pretty well in terms of keeping medical costs low. (It's nice knowing that the birth of our baby won't cost us a small fortune.)

10. The military is a part of who we are and how we met, so it'll always be something important to our relationship.

I'd love to hear what you're thankful for in your life! How has the military made a positive impact on your life and relationship?



Thursday, November 17, 2016

Holiday Tips for Military Families

The holidays can be stressful. There's gifts to buy, money to budget, halls to deck, people to feed, and the list goes on and on. It seems like the work and stress is never over when you're dealing with the holidays. That being said, I feel like there are a few added stresses for military families due to geographical location and work schedules. That being said, we thought we'd share a few of our tips for tackling these unique obstacles!


As a military family, there are often many decisions you have to make regarding the holidays. Then, there are the decisions that are out of your control and the decisions that you sometimes have to bend and twist because things are always changing last minute. Flexibility is an important virtue for anyone affiliated with the military and it's even more important around the holidays.

Work might get in the way.
Wouldn't it be great if the world just stopped for the holidays so that we could all enjoy our family? Sadly, that's not the case and some people end up working on the holidays - especially in jobs where there's security and safety involved. If you find out that your military member is going to have to work during a major holiday, it's better to find a work around plan than to complain about it. You could schedule your family celebrations and traditions to take place on another day. Or you could plan to bring goodies to the workplace if that's allowed. Anyway it goes, remember to put a smile on your face and not be selfish - I guarantee you it's harder for the one who has to work during the holiday.

It's deployment time.
This one is similar to the previous obstacle. There are times when our loved ones are deployed through the holidays. Remember that statement about the world not stopping? Unfortunately, it means the holidays aren't a reason for a deployment to stop. This doesn't mean you can't still celebrate though. Send your deployed service member a care package and fill it with his favorites from the season. Write him letters or create a fun countdown for him. Take lots of pictures that will make him smile. (P.S. We have more fun ideas in this post.)

Family is miles away.
If you're used to celebrating the holidays with your extended family, it can be hard when you're miles away from them. We've spent the holidays away from family for over two years now. As a result, we've found little things that we can do to feel like we're still a part of the big family Christmas as well. We send gifts via snail mail every year. We also skype or call all of our family members to wish them happy holidays. Then, we focus on building our own traditions for us and our future kids. (Soon I won't be saying future anymore!)

Reach out to others.
This one isn't an obstacle but more of a reminder. You may be facing your own obstacles for the holidays, but remember that there are many service members who face these same obstacles and are unmarried, which means they have even less of a support network. Be kind and reach out to these individuals during the holidays. Invite them to spend some time with you or take them an extra treat if they're the one working so that your spouse can be home with his family. Let's aim to spread cheer to others this year.

Do you know how you're going to be spending the holidays or do you still need to discuss your plans?

A few other bloggers shared their tips and stories with me and I thought they might inspire you as well!

"My husband's last deployment we were living quite far from family so when Christmas came we decided to go to Manhattan just because we could! It was the perfect distraction and I wrote a post on it that you can read here." - Kim of She is Fierce

"When we lived overseas, we sometimes travelled on Christmas. Waking up in a new city was an exciting adventure! Then we followed the local tradition of not opening presents until January 6 (Epiphany ). Now we live in the States, but equally far from family, so the Grandparents are flying out to spend Christmas with us." - Lizanne of Seasoned Spouse

"We were stationed in Japan. Hubby was out to sea, so we got together with a couple of other families and enjoyed one another's company. Not only did we build friendships, we learned others traditions and tried new recipes. Yummy food and good times."- Sybil of Preschool2Teen

A few other posts you might enjoy from fellow bloggers:




 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Making Holiday Decisions as a Military Family

The holidays are a hard time for most military families. Even if the military member is at home, there are still decisions that have to be made about the holidays. In many cases, these decisions need to actually be discussed in advance. That's why today, we're bringing you this list of decisions to make. Hopefully this post will help you get the conversation started!

*Legal Obligation: This blog uses affiliate links to direct you to some of our favorite items. We make a little money from these links which helps us keep the blog running.*


Thanksgiving and Christmas both present many topics of discussion regarding the holiday and how you're going to spend it. If your spouse is deployed or working for the holiday, you might find yourself making these decisions alone. However, if you're lucky enough to have your spouse around for the holidays, then you might want to discuss a few things ahead of time.

Where will you be spending the holidays?
Most military families do not live close to their extended family. (If you do, then count yourself among the lucky ones!) Therefore, it's important to decide ahead of time if you'll be making a trip home to see any of the extended family. Make sure you discuss the pros and cons of making a trip home for the holiday before you settle on your decision. We also recommend making this decision early to allow for the proper leave paperwork and plans to be made. (And of course, always be flexible as things can change last minute! Back up plans are a must at the holidays.) Remember, you don't have to go home for the holidays. Since getting married, we have yet to make a trip home for the holidays.

Who will you be spending the holidays with?
If you're going home, you'll likely be spending the holidays with your family. If you're staying put, then you might want to discuss how the holidays are going to go. Many military families like to get together and spend the holidays together. In many ways, our military friends are a part of our family after all. Last year, we went to Friendsgiving hosted by another couple. This year, we're inviting his station mates over to our house for the holidays. We'll be using our handy planning guide to stay organized this year. Christmas tends to just be the two of us, but we haven't thought that far ahead yet - one holiday at a time for us.

What will you be doing for the holidays?
This one may not require much discussion if you have a holiday tradition in your family. However, if you're like us and still establishing traditions, then it might be worth discussing what you'll be doing for the holidays. Will it be a movie marathon? Big dinner? Gift exchange? Don't forget that your activities will be influenced by the other decisions you've made regarding the holidays.

When will you celebrate?
This one goes along with the other questions mentioned above. It's important to decide on the details, especially if you're inviting others (friends or family) to join you for the holidays. We like to open gifts on Christmas Eve and make dinner with a movie marathon on Christmas Day. Every family is different. (If you're traveling home for the holidays, make sure you find out what the plans are as well - this will help curb your holiday stress.)

Make the holiday yours.
There's one thing you should always remember when you're making your holiday plans. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate a holiday. There's simply the traditions and memories that you choose to make together as a family.

Do you know what your plans are for the holidays? Do you have any fun traditions? We'd love to hear about them in the comments below!


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Avoid Thanksgiving Stress with a Plan

November is here and that means Thanksgiving is just around the corner! We'll be bringing you more recipes this month, but in the meantime, we thought we'd offer up some tips for avoiding Thanksgiving stress. And guess what? All it involves is making a plan! We're even providing you with a printable planning page that you can print out today to get you started!

*Affiliate links are used in this post. They help us keep the blog running and allow you to find recommended products.*


Whether you're hosting Thanksgiving for 2 or for 20, it's always easier to host a dinner when you have a plan. We're opening our  home up to the people that the husband works with so we could be hosting for a much bigger group this year. Good thing we bought a house! We're going to share our tips and ideas for using this page. All you have to do is click on it, print it out, and reference our tips for each section - easy, breezy, and a lot less stressful than throwing it all together last minute!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-KDIjblJlxPQXJIY1M5QVZ6S1U/view?usp=sharing

The Basics
The first thing to consider are your basic details. How many people will be attending? Will it just be family or are you opening your home up to friends as well? If it's just family and no one extra is coming, then your timing is more flexible. If you're inviting others, then you need to consider a time of arrival. You'll also need to consider if you want your guests to bring something or if you'll be providing it all. Be up front with your guests and let them know up front if the event is potluck, BYOB, or anything else special. You're the host so the decisions of how the dinner will go all fall on you.
Main Course
The next step is to figure out your main course. Turkey is the traditional main course for Thanksgiving, but some families like to serve ham along with it. It's also best to find out if any of your guests are vegetarians because you might need an additional main course in that case.


Sides
After you decide on the main course, it's time to figure out the sides for the event. If you're going with potluck style, then you can ask your guests to bring sides to go along with the meat. It's perfectly fine to ask them what they'll be bringing to avoid doubles. You can always make a note by each item on the printable of who is bringing it. This will help when you're planning your grocery store trip. Even with a potluck dinner, I would recommend providing one or two sides yourself in case someone has a forgetful moment!

Stumped on possible sides? Check out this list! 
Green beans
Macaroni and cheese
Squash
Corn
Casseroles - hash brown, green bean, corn, potato, etc
Rolls
Mashed potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Salad
Stuffing
Pasta salad
Deviled eggs
Cranberry sauce
Gravy
Carrots

 
Desserts
It's always best to prepare for the sweet tooth that is bound to pop up sometime after dinner! This is another one that you can invite guests to bring to help alleviate your hosting duties. As I mentioned above, feel free to ask your guests what they're bringing to avoid duplicates!

We've got yet another list of ideas for you!
Pumpkin pie (check out our recipe)
Apple pie
Pecan pie
Cherry pie
Ice cream
Brownies
Cookies
Homemade fudge or candy
Candied yams

Drinks
Drinks are another area of decision making. I highly recommend doing BYOB because it allows everyone to enjoy their favorite drink of choice. Discuss in advance if you want alcohol present at your event and make sure you inform your guests of your decision. As the host, it's entirely up to you. (Looking for a festive drink idea? Why not try spiced eggnog or apple cider sangria?)


Entertainment 
How will you entertain your guests? They'll certainly be entertained by food for part of the time but do you need to have other activities available? If your guests don't know each other, activities can be a big way to break the ice. You could watch football, play games (one of our favorite adult group games is Boxers or Briefs), or host a discussion using discussion cards. The activities you choose will really depend on who's attending your event.


Decorations
Every party deserves fun decorations. Thanksgiving is no exception. This is the perfect time to create a beautiful display on your table. A few other things to consider for your "decorations" includes whether or not you'll use paper products or normal dishes, where you'll set all of the food, and where everyone will sit during dinner.


Other Things to Consider
These aren't on the planning page but they are things to consider as you make your hosting decisions.

Do you need appetizers? If people are arriving right before dinner then you can forego the appetizers. However, if people are coming over to help with the cooking, some snack foods might be nice to have around.

Will there be kids in attendance? How will you keep them entertained during the non-eating hours? Will you have a separate table for the kids or are they old enough to sit among the adults?

Does anyone have any allergies or special needs that you should take into account? This could include gluten free, specific allergies, or vegetarian preferences. All of these should be considered when you're planning the menu and events of the night.



Keep in mind that planning will help lessen the stress of Thanksgiving, but it won't make things perfect. Even the best laid plans can go awry so be flexible and go with the flow as needed! And definitely don't forget to print out the planning page!

We'd love to hear about your Thanksgiving plans and favorite foods in the comments below! Do you know yet what you'll be doing or is it all still up in the air?


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Homemade Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin Month is continuing with another pumpkin recipe! We don't believe in letting things go to waste, so we're bringing you a recipe that you can use with the seeds that are leftover after you make homemade pumpkin puree. It's time to turn on the oven and start roasting some seeds!


Let's be honest - the hardest part of this recipe is separating the seeds from the rest of the pumpkin. Once you've done this, the recipe is super simple to follow and turns out delicious in the end! It also offers up a chance for you to get experimental with the spices in your kitchen, which is something we love doing!

Homemade Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Total Time: 45 minutes

Kitchen Items needed: spoon, oven, cookie sheet, storage container

Ingredients:
- pumpkin
- salt
- spices of choice

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

2. Cut pumpkin in half. Separate the pulp from the seeds. Use your hands if necessary.

3. Dust the seeds with salt.

4. Sprinkle spices of choice on the seeds. (Shaking them in a bag or container can help with this step.) 
     - cayenne, garlic, salt
     - cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, crushed cloves, salt
     - Make up your own combo!

5. Lay them out on the cookie sheet touching as little as possible.

6. Put in oven for 30 minutes or until seeds are dry.

7. Place in container and enjoy them for a snack!

There you go - an easy fall snack that you can enjoy anytime. Don't forget to download the printable version of this recipe by clicking on the image below!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-KDIjblJlxPV3k5ZV9zVW9wMmM/view?usp=sharing


What spice combination would you try on your pumpkin seeds? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Pin this recipe for later!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Ten Essential Cleaning Supplies

As you may recall, we recently bought a house. It turns out that buying a house is a lot different from renting an apartment. When you rent, the previous tenants and the landlord but a little effort into making sure the place is clean and ready for move in. When you buy, the previous owners throw in the dirt and grime for free. Or at least they did in our case. There was a lot of cleaning involved before the movers came and that's what inspired this post.

*Affiliate links are used in this post. They help you find the items mentioned and they help us keep the blog running.*


Every house tends to have an arsenal of cleaning supplies at their disposal. Keeping a house clean is simply part of adulting and we often learn various techniques in childhood. Knowing was supplies to have on hand isn't always so easy. So, I'm bringing you our list of 10 cleaning supplies that you should always have on hand.


Gloves
I recommend keeping gloves on hand for two different reasons. They are super helpful if you're dealing with harsh chemicals. (I tend to avoid harsh chemicals for the most part but there are those extreme cases.) They are also handy if you run into a super dirty situation and don't want your hands getting messed up. There are two different ways to buy gloves for your cleaning stash. You can buy disposable gloves. These gloves are great if you plan to throw them away afterwards. You can also buy reuseable gloves. These typically come in fun designs, are thicker, and can be used over and over again which saves you money in the long run.

Bucket 
Water is essential to a good cleaning spree. However, most houses don't have a faucet in every room. This is where a bucket is important. A bucket can help us get water from room to room. It doesn't have to be fancy - any simple bucket will do. It just needs to be able to carry water. I also recommend picking one with a handle!

Cloths 
Cloths can be used for so many different things. In fact, you're probably going to want several different kinds of cloths for different cleaning tasks. Regular washcloths are great for tough jobs, including bathrooms and kitchens. I recommend using white cloth diapers for dusting and wiping down furniture. (Remember when I said we learn cleaning habits as a kid? Well this is a tip I picked up from my mom!)

Sponges
Sponges are another reusable cleaning tool! They can be used in many rooms for many jobs. Sponges come in many shapes and sizes. Make sure you pick the one that best suits your needs!

Dishwand 
I bet you think this one is to help with the dishes! Well, you're wrong. This is actually a great bathroom cleaning tool. I recommend buying a dishwand and filling it with dawn and vinegar. Then, keep it in the shower and use it to clean your tub. It makes the job much easier and you can do it more frequently to prevent a really messy cleaning job.

Paper Towels
Up to this point, I've mostly recommend reuseable supplies. This is because I'm slowly trying to work towards cutting down on waste. (We've actually made a lot of progress already through recycling, composting, and burning.) There are jobs from time to time that call for a paper towel though. That's the reason they're included on this list. I also like paper towels the best for washing windows. This could change in the future as I experiment with different textured cloths.

Mop 
If you have tile, hardwood, or laminate floors, then I recommend getting a mop. My favorite is the Swiffer Wetjet. I like that I don't have to deal with a dirty bucket of mop water. I'm on the search for a pattern to make reuseable cloths though to save money and waste. If you have any recommendations, please send them my way!

Broom 
This is another cleaning tool that comes in handy with tile, hardwood, and laminate. It can also help with the outside chores as well. (We're not really discussing those today though.) We picked up a basic broom and dustpan set but you can get fancy with these. It's a matter of preference. I also recommend picking up a hand broom for small spills or if you have little hands that might be helping you while you clean. (My students used to love helping with the hand broom!)

Vacuum 
Do you have carpets? Then you're going to want a vacuum cleaner! We recently picked up a new one since I wanted to clean before our household goods arrived. (Yes, we now own two - one is in the basement.) We picked out an upright, bagless design that would be good for pet hair. I love that I can see how full it is. Our other vacuum has a bag and I never know how full it is until it's time to change it!

Cleaning Products
Cleaning wouldn't be complete without cleaning products! I'm not going to offer up a lot of recommendations for this category because everyone has different tastes and needs when it comes to cleaning supplies I am going to recommend that you keep water, vinegar, dawn, and lemon essential oil on hand though. These four items can clean just about anything in your house!


If you had to pick a cleaning product to recommend to others, which one would it be? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Don't forget to pin this list to reference later!


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)

Ingredients:
- 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!)


Directions:

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!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-KDIjblJlxPY3VHd045ZVNTUjA/view?usp=sharing




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!

Wine
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!

Camera
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.

Calendar
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

Ingredients:
- pumpkin
- olive oil

Directions:
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!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-KDIjblJlxPUGdlRUZSRy1RWDQ/view?usp=sharing

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!