Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tips to "Dance in the Rain"!

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As we travel through our military years, life always brings foggy moments.  By that I mean, times when you just don't know which way to turn or what to do next.  Because our lives are forever changing in the military, sometimes we are just too close to the fog to see through it.  Or sometimes there isn't any seeing through it until the fog lifts.  Patience is something that I struggle with on a daily basis.  One reason is I am a planner.  And although military life can be very structured, it has a LOT of foggy moments.

My drive to school on 30 Jan 2013!

For example, we all know that certain things in the military are inevitable, like PCS moves, deployments, and one day a retirement.  BUT we can't always predict when, where or even for how long, so the fog settles in.  Many times I find myself feeling that fog and frustration, because I just want to know what comes next.

Today my fog comes from the fact that we might have to retire in a year, and then again we might not. We won't know until sometime around mid-August and there is nothing we can do to find out sooner or to change the outcome now.  It is just a sit and wait game.  I find that very frustrating.

So what to do in these moments.  What has always helped me, is to be as proactive as possible.  To look at both sides of the coin and research as much as possible.  We like to call that getting our ducks in a row.  And although you can't plan for every situation, it is comforting to know that you did your best to prepare.  I also truly believe that God knows what is best for my family and the he plays a huge role in knowing what we need to be doing and where we are heading.  So on days I feel the most frustrated, I go to God and pray.  I don't pray for the wisdom to know what is coming, I usually just pray for the peace to live in the moment and that God will keep us moving on the correct path to achieve our goals in the coming future.  In the meantime, I try my hardest to LOVE the ride!!! (so to speak!)

Wave


Another example for you: In 2011 my husband was deployed to Afghanistan for the third time with the 101st Division, 159th CAB.  We had been at Fort Campbell for almost 8 years and both knew that upon return from that deployment we would be moving.  Well we embraced the fact that a move was coming and although we didn't know to where we began preparing our kids and getting them excited for what comes next.  About 6 months into the year long deployment HR began talking to my husband about his possibilities.  There weren't too many options, but ones we could definitely live with.  The first was a move to Sweden.  Wow, you can only imagine my overwhelming feelings with that one, as I knew my 18 year old daughter (at the time) would definitely not be going with us, due to college in FL. And my 23 year old disabled son, said immediately he didn't want to go and asked if he could stay with Grandma.  Well that would mean two years with our 11 year old as an only child.  We embraced it, began researching what it would be like and then boom.  We get the word, that the option has been taken off the table, because of the timing of the deployments return and the need to have someone in Sweden earlier than we could make it.  So what was next.  Well we found out a few weeks later that CCAD in Texas would be our next and probably only option.  Again we embraced it, and drove forth with the preparing and planning.  Then about one month prior to the deployment ending, my husband gets an email from HR offering him a totally different job.  If he was interested in this one it would have to meet GEN approval and he would need to be nominated for it, but HR didn't think that would be a problem.  The location was one that we knew our youngest would be thrilled over.  It was in New England and since my 11 year old is one of the biggest New England Patriots fans on this earth, we knew he would be head over hills for it.  So with all the changing we waited....we didn't want to get hopes up and plan again for something that might change.  So again we sat in a fog.  This time the fog lasted for about 2 weeks.  (Yes you can imagine how hard it is to wait!)  Then it became official.  As that fog lifted and we knew for certain (we hoped) where we would be moving to this time, we began making as many plans as possible.  Fortunately this one held true and we moved to Seymour, CT in August of 2012!

I have found life to be very similar to the weather.  There are bright sunny days, there are stormy days, there are foggy days, and sometimes we all need a snow day to slow down and relax.  Embrace the day your in.  Do what you can, but most importantly remember that sometimes we as humans can only do so much to affect the weather.  I have a close friend and mentor (we called her Aunt Vicki) that passed away 2 almost 3 years ago from cancer who used to love the saying....

dancing in the rain


She so inspired me to live in the moment and enjoy where you are, no matter what the challenges are you face.

So the next time you are feeling the fog, and are frustrated about something you can't change or affect, just remember to "Enjoy the Ride" and "Dance in the Rain"!!!

Enjoy!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Organizing with Chalk Board Labels




OK, who doesn't LOVE the idea of Chalkboard Labels.  I ran across these when looking for new organizational tips for the New Year.  One of my goals was to continue organizing my office better.  I say that because it is not terribly disorganized, but I am really looking for a more efficient flow, when working in there.  Plus I have to admit, life was a little crazy before Christmas with many, many craft projects and my office was beginning to get out of control.  






So I have begun regaining control and today was the start of my redo.  I found these great Martha Stewart Chalkboard Labels at Staples.  I wasn't sure when I bought them what I would use them for, but I had many things in mind, from my office to my kitchen, and etc!




Well I decided today as I was beginning to clean up and look around my office, that my bins that hold many of my tools needed labeling.  I absolutely LOVED the chalkboard effect.  



Here is how it turned out for me!!!





One step closer to a more organized office.  WooHoo!!!

Enjoy!

Monday, January 28, 2013

8 Blogs I Love!



I thought this Monday (snowy) morning, that I would share with my friends and family some of my favorite Blogs that I like to read on a regular basis.  I challenge you to take a look at some of these and some of their current projects.  I get SO inspired by these folks and would love to be any one of them when I grow up (in the blogging world!)

1.  Miss Mustard Seed - I really like this blog, because she has a great story about how she started out as a "Counter Top Crafter", meaning she began her craft business from the counter tops of her own kitchen.  She does beautiful work and speaks honestly about how she has accomplished her goals.  Check it out!
125x125

2.  Enjoy It - A Personal & Craft Blog by Elise Blaha Cripe - This is one of my favorites too, because she is not only an amazing craft blogger, but she is also another military spouse.  She is SO productive and that inspires me to no end.  Her sweet honesty shines through her postings.  
Check it out!


3.  The Thinking Closet - This is another great blog with all sorts of fun projects.  She not only blogs about her crafts, but she offers many tips for new bloggers too.  She is relatively new to the blogging world (like me) and has many tips to share along her way.  
Check it out!



4.  Growing Up Gilles - OK, this one is a favorites because it is a personal set of friends, that are too sweet for words.  Not a crafty blog, but a personal blog....if you are a baby lover this one is going to be fun the next few months as they are expecting number 2!
Check them out!


5.  Three Mango Seeds - Great blog for project inspiration.  I love so much of what this site creates. 
Check it out!


Three Mango Seeds
6.  Sugar Bee Crafts - Very crafty blog, with lots of great how to tutorials!
Check it out!

Sugar Bee Crafts

7.  Semi Homemade Mom - Amazing food, great recipes, and beautiful photography of food too!  This is a very yummy blog to follow!
Check it out!!!



8.  Lake Girl Paints - Great paint tips and inspirations for furniture redo-ing!!!  
Check it out!




These are just a few of my favorites.  I have to admit, I am just really beginning to find other blogs that I read on a daily basis!  If you have a favorite that isn't listed here, please feel free to share in the comments your favorite.  If you have a blog you would love for me to take a look at, please share in comments.  And for all that I LOVED above, keep up the great work!  I just throughly enjoy what you do!!!

Enjoy!



Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Super Moist and Easy Cake Recipe....it's a MUST try!!!


I had to share this dessert that I made yesterday.  I found it on Six Sisters Stuff blog.  Thought it was different and had to try it.  The cake was a hit at our house for dessert last night.  We also tried the icing that the blog suggested, but my guys didn't enjoy it as much as we thought we would.  Not saying it was bad, just different.  I will say if you are a whipped icing lover, this might be for you!!!


One thing is for sure this recipe fits into my need for EASY recipes.  It couldn't have been much easier.  I will say I utilized my CuisineArt mixer, but really probably didn't need to.  So here is the recipe:



Cake Ingredients:

  • Cake Mix (I hear any cake mix will work....but I did use the Funfetti that was suggested by Six Sisters!)
  • One can of Sprite Zero


Cake Directions:

  1. Mix Cake mix with the can of Sprite Zero.  (DO NOT use any of the directions on the back of the cake box, except for baking temps and times.)
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for....well depending if you make a cake or cupcakes, follow Funfetti box for baking times.  I did cupcakes and it took about 23 minutes.
  3. Let cool before icing!

Icing Ingredients:
  • 1 container of Cool Whip 8 oz.
  • 1/2 package of Vanilla Pudding.  (Recipe on Six Sisters called for fat free....I actually had a reg vanilla, so I used it instead.)

Icing Directions:
  1. Mix together with whipping hook on mixer (or whip with a whisk by hand)
  2. Ice cooled cupcakes.  

As you can see this was a super easy recipe to do.  The cake turned out super moist!  Really yummy!!!


My family really enjoyed them.  My son came home from school and begged to be the first to try them. He loved it!


I challenge you to try this one.  The Six Sisters say it is a lighter recipe, I am not sold it is much better than normal cake recipe, but it was moist and yummy!!!  


If you try this, come back and tell me what you think of it.  
Enjoy!









This recipe is shared on:


HungryLittleGirl

and


The Humble Brag Link Party

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Creamiest Chicken Salad



This is my new favorite recipe.  I have tried a few different recipes to make Chicken Salad and couldn't find one I really liked....so I put together a few and added my own likes to come up with this and boy did I love it!!!  Thought I would share it with you too.



Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of Chopped Chicken (ever have left over chicken....I especially love to use grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken left over!)
  • 1/2 cup of purple grapes cut in half
  • 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup of chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of Miracle Whip
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic salt
  • Pinch of pepper


Directions:

1.  Chop chicken into small bite size pieces.
2.  Cup grapes in half
3.  Chop both walnuts and celery
4.  In a mixer place the 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream and whip on high for 4-5 minutes until light fluffy peaks form.  Then add 1 tsp of sugar to and mix again briefly.
5.  Add in Miracle Whip and seasonings, and mix together in mixer.  
6.  Then fold in chicken, grapes, celery, and walnuts with a rubber spatula until well mixed
7.  Chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.  (Can be placed away longer if you want to prepare ahead.)
8.  Serve with rolls or cresent rolls.  



This is definitely the creamiest and best tasting Chicken Salad I have ever made!!!

Enjoy!









This recipe was shared on:


Semi Homemade Mom
Show & Share Wednesday #21

and


HungryLittleGirl

and


and


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Organizational Tool that has changed my way of Shopping



Just in case you are like me and always want to be just a little more organized, then you have to keep reading and see my very favorite product that I have used all fall and definitely will continue to use it!  It is a shopping companion book.  OK, so you are probably saying, I don't need any help shopping, but it definitely has helped not only keep me organized with grocery shopping, but helps me save money too.

I bought it at Target.  Things that I love in it.



The shopping card holders.  I can't stand to have my wallet full of all of these shopping cards you have to have these days.  And really I use my KeyRing app on my phone most of the time for these cards on the go anyway.  So keeping these cards organized and somewhere if I need them I have them is great.  (Photo was taken before I cleaned out my wallet and filled up the sleeves!)

Next I really like the pockets for the coupons.  I am not a huge couponer, but have learned in the North East that every cent saved is more for us.  So I do take the time to cut a few, plus I shop at Stop and Shop and lately they have been mailing me coupons to use on a weekly basis that not only save me money, give me free products, and give me extra gas points.  So they are definitely worth organizing and holding onto.



Then it has shopping list pages.  The BEST thing about this is I can print more whenever I need from this link.  Mead HomeManager Downloads  I use this every week with what we need to buy.  The ones that come with the binder are great too because you can tear out half the page at a time if you want.  But the printed versions are very versatile too.  

And the next thing that I added to my book from the Mead HomeManager Downloads page is the weekly meal planners.  Dave and I love to cook, but when we were both working we never really planned out what we were going to cook ahead of time.  I always just bought the normal favorites weekly and kept a pretty well stocked kitchen.  And if we didn't have something we wanted, one of us ran to the store on the way home from work to grab it.  We that isn't the most economical way to shop.  I found once I started actually meal planning, I didn't have to spend as much every week at the grocery store and we really did have what we needed a lot of time already.  We do still have certain staples that we like to keep stocked in our house for breakfast and lunch that we don't plan ahead for right now.  But I truly can tell you the week that I plan all the meals out and only buy for those dinners, we save money on our bill.  I do have weeks that we spend a little more stocking up on meat that is on sale, but that just helps the bills for the next few weeks when we don't have to buy the meat for the meal.  My kids have really bought into the meal planner too.  So much so, that we have now purchased these new sticky notes:



They are great and easily displayed.  I have a fairly new rule in my house that we don't put anything on the refrigerator, because I was finding that the front of the refrigerator was getting lost in the stuff that piled up on there.  And so now I have display areas for certain "hot" items, but otherwise we don't put things up.  BUT these new sticky notes have earned their own wall space in my kitchen because everyone has liked knowing what comes next.  Sometimes mid week, we find ourselves in family conversation at the dinner table discussing how we want to rearrange our planned meal calendar because of sports events that have changed or come up at the last minute.  And that is OK!



Last but not least in my cool book is a zipper compartment to hold any odd shaped items, coupons, etc. It also has one item I really don't use to it's fullest, because I keep bookmarks on my computer instead.  It has pages to chart your most used webpages for couponing or discounts.  I really don't use because I just bookmark and keep a folder right on my computer.  Plus I use Apple and all my devices share my bookmarks, so that is another reason to do it right there.  

So there you have it, but coolest and most used organizer type of product.  I have bought other things like this that I haven't used or have found as useful as this one is.  I waited to share to make sure I would continue to use it.  It's been over 6 months and it is still extremely useful in my household.  

Another thing that is pretty cool, is if you wanted to create this product on your own you could.  I considered that before I bought the OrganizHer product, but when I looked at what it came with and how I could download more pages to print, it was most economical to just buy Mead's version!  But you could make your own too!!!  

Enjoy!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

6 Steps to Survive the Dreaded "Goodbye"!


Goodbyes are extremely hard.  I don't care if your goodbye is for a Soldier going off to war, if your child is going off to college, if you have a friend moving, if your husband is traveling for a few days, or if you have lost a dear person in your life.  Goodbyes whether short term or long term, are just painful.  I say this because as I go through my day to day life, I realize that I deeply avoid goodbyes.  I actually LOVE to say, "Till we see each other again!"  Many times in my life I have found myself knee deep in the river of DENIAL!  Meaning I really don't want to even think about the goodbye that is coming, or just happened, etc.  For me that is my best coping skill.  And one that I believe truly and emotionally let's me survive the goodbyes time and time again.



You see I am a military wife of 20 plus years.  I have college age kids.  And I move away from friends (or they move away from me) almost yearly!  I haven't lived in my home state with family for at least the last 20 years.  So honestly I find myself with a goodbye to give every time I turn around.  They aren't easy, and I really don't rate them as one is easier than another.  And truly no matter how seasoned you are at them, they really don't get easier.  BUT with all that said, I do truly believe that we can survive them without losing our minds.  And here is my wisdom of how I manage.  (Let me just say, I do not believe I have it all figured out, I just have survived.  I am sure that a therapist somewhere would tell me that I have issues.  I am sharing this in hopes that others see an easier way to survive, or just know that they are normal! Oh that dreaded word normal [sigh]....that is for another blog!)




  1. Live in the Moment - I find that no matter whether it is a normal day, a day of a goodbye or even a sad day after a goodbye, I try everything possible to enjoy the here and now.  Meaning that there is always something positive in every single day.  I challenge you to find that positive.  It can be as simple as we are healthy and still alive.  If we dwell in the negative, life would never seem worth living.  Which leads me to...
  2. Be Positive - "The cup is always half full" in my mind.  I know being positive can be hard at times, but I believe that is a choice we make.  Chose to be positive and find the positive in every situation.  Even if to be positive you have to deny what tomorrow may bring....remember "Live in the Moment!"
  3. Denial - Yes I said it.  The best way for ME to get through a goodbye is to treat it like it is any other day.  The less of a big event I make it the less of an impact it has on my emotional well being.  Plus it isn't the memories I want to take with me.  I want to remember happy times in my life and the less dramatic the goodbyes are the less memorable they are!!!  (OK, confession....I went looking for "goodbye" type photos for dramatic impact for this topic, and couldn't find any....because it is not a day in my life that I chose to make memories of....so all my heart wrenching photos you see in today's blog are actually from very emotional "Welcome Home's"....which can be just as emotional, but definitely more memorable for me!)
  4. Camaraderie - Find a battle buddy to lean on to get through those tougher days.  Sometimes it is finding the person who will say "Wow today sucks, let's go have fun!"  Or the person who you can share the emotions you are feeling, just to get it out.  But just like with any negative situation, don't dwell on it.  "Woah is me" dwelling can keep in you the emotional loop you really don't want to be in.  Many times it is just having someone near who understands, knows it isn't a great day for you and can still make you smile or laugh.  We all need that shoulder to cry on, I just caution you to chose your battle buddy well.  I have amazing Battle Buddies.  They not only pick me up, but they also kick me in the tail sometimes, which we all need.  
  5. Accept Change - Life is ever changing.  We all have seasons in our life, accept the phase you are currently in.  Make the best of it and drive on.  My biggest and most scary time in my life that I had to "accept the change" was when my husband was deployed for a year and half way through that year, my daughter went to college 800 miles away from home as a freshman.  My two rocks in my life were away.  It was time to accept the change and drive forward, although neither were gone indefinitely, in the moment it felt like it.  I had to embrace that it would be a tough few months and find other rocks to lean on.  My family grew and I not only became stronger, but also became even closer with some of my other battle buddies who helped me survive.  I chose to find the positive and be better for it.  You can too. 
  6. Last but not least....Look to the Future - If the moment stinks, look up and find a place to strive for that won't.  And then set goals to make yourself stronger, wiser, or just busy during the time between now and the future!  
These are the things that I do that work for me.  Everyone is different, every situation is different, but if you truly work toward making sure every moment in your life counts, life will be better.  


GodVine shared this photo above on their Facebook page today and I thought it was very appropriate to share with this topic.  I just want to send (((HUGS))) to all my friends who have an upcoming "till I see you again" moment coming in their lives.  And I really and truly can't wait "till I see you again" for all my friends and family I am currently apart from.  


Remember to make memories daily that you always want to remember!
Enjoy!