Tuesday, May 24, 2016

20 Frugal Dates

Today's post will combine two things that we like a lot - saving money and spending time together. I love planning a great date night but I hate how expensive they can become. I thought I'd bring you a few frugal ideas for your next date night. After all, it's about spending time together, not about spending money together.

I thought I'd help you out a lot and share 20 frugal date ideas (I tried to keep them $20 and under). That covers you for an entire year of monthly date nights!

1. Take a walk through town together.

2. Have a dessert only date.

3. Make a romantic dinner at home.

4. Enjoy a picnic in the park.

5. Make it a beach day.

6. Enjoy a movie night at home.

7. Make it a board game night.

8. Work out together.

9. Go on a hike.

10. Plan your next trip together.

11. Prepare dinner together.

12. Grab some coffee and have an old fashioned conversation.

13. Try something new together.

14. Go for a drive together.

15. Be a tourist in your hometown.

16. Have a video game night.

17. Treat each other to a pamper night.

18. Attend a local festival.

19. Go shopping at the local flea market or yard sales for a unique find.

20. Create something together.

Do you have any date ideas you would add to the list? Share it in the comments below!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Quotes for Military Spouses

Life as a military spouse can be tough at times. I find that uplifting quotes help me the most when I'm having a hard time with life - military related or otherwise. I thought I'd compile a list to help us all find a smile and a little hope when things get tough.

These are quotes I've found around the web and quotes that some fellow military bloggers shared with me. Credit is given when I can give it.

"Love will travel as far as you let it. It has no limits." - Dee King

"That's why God made love so strong, so that it can carry you all the way home." - Franklin P. Jones (Shared by sheisfierce.net)

"You still have to shave sometimes...especially in the summer." - shared by The Seasoned Spouse

"Life is an adventure." - shared by Amanda McCue

"They go off to war and we stay at home. We pray, we hope, and we love. We stand by those that have chosen to serve their country. We are military spouses!" - shared by Soldiers Wife Crazy Life

"It is what is is." - shared by Krystal Cornett Adams

"Live like he deploys tomorrow." - shared by Cupcakes and Countdowns

"Distance means so little when someone means so much." - shared by Sidle's Adventures

"There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart." - Gandhi

"Never schedule plans in ink. The military sees that as a challenge of how many times they can make you change it." - shared by I Do and Adieu

"I didn't choose this life. I chose him. This life was just part of the deal." - unknown

"How lucky I am to have something good that makes saying goodbye so hard." - A. A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh)

"The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again." - Charles Dickens

I would love to add to this list! What's your favorite quote about missing someone or making it through tough times?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

How to Create a Travel Bucket List

With the Virtual Tour Across America coming up, I thought I'd take a few minutes to talk about travel and how to create a list of places you'd like to visit. I also wanted to share how you can get a free printable to start a list of your own!

I'm going to list a few quick steps for creating your own travel bucket list. Then, I'll share how you can get a printable to get started on your own list.

1. Create a preliminary list.

Create an initial list of everywhere that you think you'd like to visit. Your list should only include places you haven't been to yet since a bucket list is supposed to be all about new experiences.

2. Do your research.

Research the locations you've listed. Decide which ones are the most exciting and make sure you list them towards the top of your list.

3. Create a final list.

After doing your research, create a "final" list of places that you're most excited about. These should be places that you're really excited about visiting. It doesn't mean you can't visit the other places - it's more a matter of prioritizing which ones you want to visit first.

4. Keep the list close and update it often.

From here, I recommend keeping the list in a convenient place. You never know when you're going to wander across a new place to visit. The internet is filled with inspiring places to visit.

Don't know where to start? Sign up below for our printable and keep it close this summer when we share great things to see in all 50 states!


Do you already have a travel bucket list or know what you'd add to one? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

How to Find Trails in Your Area

We love hiking trails, especially when they're near our home. One of the great things about the area we currently live in is that there are a number of trails to hike and explore. I wanted to share a few tips for finding trails in your area.

One of the obstacles of the military is moving all the time. This means you have to constantly find new places with each new move. However, this is also one of the fun parts of being in a military marriage. With this move, we learned a lot of tricks for finding trails nearby and I thought I'd share them with you.

1. Google
The first place we looked was Google. Search engines make it a lot easier to find things. To find trails near us, we typed in our city and trails to find a few near us. Then, we broadened the search by typing in other cities near us. If we were in a smaller state, then we could broaden the search by typing in our state name as well. California is a bit too big for that - it takes a while to get from Northern California to Southern California.

2. State Parks
Most state parks have several trails of varying lengths. They are a great place to start with your search for hiking trails. They also often offer camping and other outdoor opportunities that you can add onto your hike of the day. Plus - they tend to be relatively inexpensive.

3. National Parks
This tip follows tip #2 about the state parks. There are several national parks throughout the country that also offer free entry for military members, so that's an added bonus.

4. Word of Mouth
Word of mouth may seem old fashioned but it's still a great way to get recommendations. Ask your friends and people you meet for their recommendations for the area. They might even know of a hidden gem that you're not going to find through a Google search.

5. Social Media
Much like word of mouth, social media is a great place to get recommendations. I found quite a few parks and trails in our area by simply asking my Facebook friends for their recommendations. There was a huge outpouring of suggestions and ideas. It was through social media that I found some of my favorite parks.

6. Signs
Pay attention when you're walking or driving around your city. Many trails, parks, and other fun things have signs pointing them out. Keeping your eyes peeled for these signs can really help you out in the long run.

Do you love to hike? Have a favorite trail in your area? Share it with us in the comments!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Virtual Tour Across America Invite

You may remember us posting about the Virtual Tour Across America a couple of months ago. I wanted to update you on the tour and share how you can get involved. There's been a few updates and there's also still time to get involved.

The Virtual Tour is going to be a tour of (hopefully) all 50 states hosted right here on the blog. Each state will be given a different day and one or more posts related to travel in that state will be going up. I have a lot of bloggers signed up and ready to share about their state. We're also still accepting more bloggers for the tour! I want this to be a big collaboration that benefits everyone.

It's easy to get involved. All you have to do is the following:
1. Write a blog post about your favorite state.
2. Include 3-5 pictures with your post.
3. Include an author bio for the end of your post. This is where you should include your social media and blog links so that my readers can find you.
4. (Optional) Share a link to the post on your own blog and social media the day it goes live.

You don't have to worry about formatting or graphics. I'll take care of those. I'll also be promoting all of the posts across our @coastiecouple social media and my @hodgepodgepam social media. That's a pretty large reach of exposure for your post!

I need blog posts to me by no later than May 25 because the tour starts on June 1 and will last throughout the summer. There is a little flex room if your state is being published later in the summer. If you're interested in participating, please get in touch with me (or send me a post that meets the requirements above). I'm also happy to answer any and all questions! (Check out this post for a little more information but keep in mind that dates and such have been changed!)

I can't wait to travel the country with you via these posts!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

An Interview with my Mom

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. Since this weekend held Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Mother's Day, I thought I'd feature a woman that's been very special in my life - my mom. She's a fellow military spouse as well, so it only seems fitting to share a little bit about her today.

My mom supported my dad in his Air Force career from the time he entered the service (they were a young married couple) until he retired with more than 20 years of service. They are still happily married and I'm grateful to call them my parents. For today's post, I asked my mom a few questions. I've shared her answers below.

1.What was your favorite moment as a military spouse?

There's no specific moment. I have enjoyed meeting people from other places.

2. What was your most challenging moment as a military spouse?

The most challenging moment was leaving my parents and friends when we moved from Indiana to South Carolina.

3. What advice would you give to a new military spouse?

My advice is to enjoy the area you move to and to get out and see the sights. It's also helpful to make one close friend in any new place that you're stationed.

4. As a mom, what advice would you give to military couples?

My advice is to meet other couples with kids. You can do this by being involved with your kids at school and in their extracurricular activities. If your husband deploys a lot, make family time important when he is home.

5. Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Military life can be hard but it doesn't have to be. You just need to embrace it and enjoy it. When we first joined, I wasn't happy about it, but now I don't regret it at all. Retirement has its rewards. As a wife, be supportive that their job often comes first. That doesn't mean they don't love you - it's simply a commitment that has been made.

I hope everyone has a Happy Mother's Day today!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Today, we're bring you one of our favorite taco recipes. This recipe is easy to make and can feed large quantities of people if needed. It's a must for a party or get together!

We'll start with the pictures for visual learners and then I'll share each step at the bottom as well! This recipe is the essence of a good crockpot recipe. You literally dump it all into the crockpot and wait until it's ready for dinner!

Start by putting chicken breasts into the crockpot. We used two boneless skinless breasts but you could easily use more if needed.

Add in the rest of your ingredients - salsa and spices. You have two options when it comes to spices. You can use pre-packaged taco seasoning or you can create your own from spices you have on hand.

Make sure the breasts are well covered. I like to roll them over a few times in the crockpot to make sure that they have been coated on all sides. One small jar of salsa works well to cover two breasts. Turn the crockpot on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.

When it's time for dinner, take the chicken out and shred it with two forks. It should come apart incredibly easy.

Return the chicken to the crockpot and mix it well with the sauce. Serve the chicken with your favorite taco fixings for an enjoyable dinner.

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salsa of choice
Spices of choice (or pre-packaged taco seasoning)

1. Determine how many chicken breasts you'll need based on the number of mouths you'll be feeding.You'll need enough salsa to cover the breasts.
2. Place all ingredients in the crockpot together.
3. Set the crockpot on high for 4-6 hours or low for 6-8 hours.
4. When time is up, shred the chicken with two forks.
5. Return to crockpot and mix well.
6. Serve with your favorite taco fixings!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Life Lately: April 2016

You may have noticed that the blog was a little bare in April. I'll just say that life got in the way and sometimes that happens. We were faced with a big obstacle recently that affected our time and focus quite a bit. That's all I can really say on the topic, but I'm excited that we're back to blogging again!

Here's a little bit of what we've been up to lately. Come back on Thursday for a tasty taco recipe that you can use to celebrate Cinco de Mayo or Taco Tuesday!

The husband came back from another deployment. Even though this was a shorter deployment, it felt like one of the longest since it was quite eventful. I didn't make a homecoming sign or get fancy for this homecoming and I'll explain why in a future post.

I've taken the husband to quite a few of my favorite trails in the area. We love hiking and getting out and about. We'll be sharing a little bit on how we find new trails to explore in an upcoming post!

We've had a few impromptu picnics and times eating out. There's nothing quite like enjoying a meal in a beautiful park together.

We've also made quite a few impromptu road trips to different cities. We'll be sharing our adventures in Aurbun, CA and Santa Rosa, CA in the near future! Spontaneous has been the theme of the past week or two since he got home!

We've also taken some time out of our not so busy schedule to hang out with friends. Our most recent outing with friends was hiking a new trail filled with cool views. Check back later this month for the gorgeous photos from our various hikes!

What are we up to now? Well, we're getting back into a routine with work and Netflix. Keep an eye out for a future post about how we adjust to life together after a deployment. There is an adjustment period and we've gotten better about making it a smooth one.