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Books Military

Going Overboard Reflection

July 27, 2017

The military spouse lifestyle can be a bit somber: there are a lot of goodbyes, usually more than one person’s fair share of tears and sometimes some very serious moments.  Thanks to a lot of mainstream media, many civilians think things end there, but they don’t. In between the tears, there is laughter. There is levity to balance out the somber moments. There is humor in the military spouse lifestyle and Sarah Smiley shares many of those moments in Going Overboard.

Summary: In 1999, Sarah was a typical bride-to-be, flustered with wedding details. Then the groom called. “I don’t want you to panic, but I might not be able to come to our wedding….”

So began Sarah Smiley’s life as a military wife. As a former Navy brat herself, Sarah knew better than anyone that weddings and funerals—even childbirth!—take a backseat to Uncle Sam. But just as the young, nationally syndicated columnist was getting comfortable with the military wife’s routine, her husband was sent away for an unexpected deployment. What followed was a true test of strength and wit. From getting locked out of the house in cowgirl pajamas to wrestling with the temptation of infidelity, Sarah exposes it all with candor, heart—and knowing humor.

My thoughts: I had mixed reactions to this one. On one hand, I felt like this was the least dramatized version of a military spouse’s life that I’ve read and I really appreciated that. Sarah was honest (sometimes brutally so) about the ups and downs of being married to the military. I think her reactions to deployment were genuine and completely relatable.  So many of us bicker with our spouses right before they leave. So many of us have had complete meltdowns because the dryer is broken again or the dog has gotten sick on the bed or we’re locked out of the house in our cowgirl PJs.

But on the other hand, I was a bit disheartened by this book. Sarah is tempted by infidelity during her husband’s deployment, so much so that her being at his homecoming is in question at one point.  While I can completely understand how difficult it is to be by yourself and can empathize with her feelings, I just cannot get behind the idea of cheating on my husband, or even contemplating it.  It’s beyond comprehension to me and I couldn’t relate to her struggle with it.  I found myself becoming very frustrated with that part of her story.

I was hoping that because this book was written by a military spouse (rather than just about them), it would be truer to the military spouse lifestyle I see everyday. In reality, it still perpetuated a few of the stereotypes I (and so many of us) hate.

But perhaps that’s the good thing about this book: it shows another facet of military spouse life. It may not be the facet that I relate to or the one that I agree with, but it’s there. Sarah’s experience as a military spouse is just as valid as my own, even though they are very different.

If military spouses are going to claim to be a diverse group that can’t be stereotyped or neatly categorized, we need to acknowledge all experiences as valid and worthy of respect, even if they’re ones we don’t agree with.

Have you ever read a book that presents a life of experiences so very different than your own, but that you still recognize as valid? Can there be a continuum of the military spouse lifestyle?

Care Packages

Anniversary Care Package Inspiration

July 26, 2017
Anniversary care package inspiration

If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that anniversaries have a lot of meaning to me and that I really enjoy celebrating them. I certainly don’t let something as small as my husband being deployed stop me! As our dating anniversary approaches, I’ve started thinking about the anniversary care package I will send him.  I pulled together some of my favorite ideas for you all!

Anniversary Care Package Decor


You could print a photo collage and cut it to fit each flap or even create one with individual photos on the flap itself. Depending on the resolution of your photo, you could blow it up and use one photo to cover the entire inside of the box. Imagine how cool that would look!

Maps of significant locations

Pick a map of where you met, where you fell in love, where you live, where you got engaged/married and you’ve already covered the entire box! I used maps for a care package during our last deployment and loved how it turned out.

Handwritten love letters

People don’t write love letters enough anymore; email and texts just aren’t the same. There’s something inherently more romantic about handwritten letters and what better time to use them than an anniversary care package? You would need to write them on large enough paper to cover the entire flap, but the effect would be so sweet.

Reasons you love him/her

This could go hand-in-hand with handwritten love letters, but covering all four flaps with reasons you love your service member works perfectly for an anniversary.  You could write out a long list or place a few reasons in little envelopes attached to the flaps.

Anniversary Care Package Contents

Photo album or scrapbook

You can find small photo albums for a few dollars and once you fill them with pictures, they make the perfect gift. Since most albums have those plastic photo protectors, you could also slip in a few love notes or include small mementos of your relationship.


No, this isn’t something dirty. LoveBook is this super cute illustrated version of life with your loved one. The characters are super cute and they have so many different pages, you will definitely find something that applies to your relationship.

Deployment-friendly take on traditional gift

Did you know that there are traditional wedding anniversary gifts? See if you can come with a deployment-friendly version of the traditional anniversary gift to send your loved one. Creative gifts are often the best because of the extra thought that goes into them.

Puzzle letter

I just found this idea and so want to try my hand at a puzzle letter! This would be so cute if you used a photo of the two of you as the picture and then wrote a sweet note on the back.  It’s something interactive and handmade for your loved one with a sentimental twist.

Do you celebrate all of your anniversaries? What would you put in an anniversary care package?

Care Packages

Your Care Package Questions Answered

July 24, 2017

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend! I was in hardcore care package mode over the past two days filling orders, planning for the rest of 2017 and designing a few care packages for my husband. It’s funny how quickly something goes from a hobby to a full on obsession, isn’t it? A few years ago, I didn’t even know what a flat rate box was and now people come to me for care package advice! I pulled together a few of the most commonly asked questions for you all today.

How do you get things to stick?

There are a lot of suggestions out there about which glue to use. Some people are firmly in the glue stick camp while others insist that hot glue is the way to go. I place myself in a third group: glue dots. They come with zero mess and have great holding power. They’re what I use to put together all of my care packages, both for my husband and for my shop. If you haven’t tried them, give them a shot!

I want to send a lot of care packages to my husband, but they get so expensive. How do I keep costs down?

There are lots of ways to keep care package costs down, but I think the best one is to think small. Yes, you read that correctly. Sending small flat rate boxes instead of large or medium ones helps save money. You could even package a few small care packages in the larger one so your loved one has lots to open!

I’m sending clothing, but how do I keep them from smelling musty?

Dryer sheets tucked in between each item of clothing will help things stay fresh. You can also package each item into a plastic bag with a dryer sheet to keep as much smell out as possible. Plus, let’s be honest, sending some extra dryer sheets for your loved one to use probably wouldn’t hurt.

How do you keep chocolate from melting? 

Oh I wish I had a foolproof answer for this one. Ultimately, any chocolate you send may melt during shipping. But there are steps to reduce melting and minimizing the mess when any does occur.  Freezing your chocolate before shipping it may reduce the amount of melting. I would pop your chocolate in the freezer for 3 or 4 days before you ship it and then pack it into plastic bags so any melted chocolate doesn’t end up everywhere. But I think we can all agree that melted chocolate is still better than no chocolate, right?

How do you come up with your ideas?

This is probably the easiest question to answer because most of the time it’s my husband. Seriously, I make boxes that I think he would like and that goes for products in my shop as well. Sometimes I show him a few ideas and he picks the one he likes the best.

But this time around, I am asking you to fill in for him! I have a few ideas for the next product to add to the shop and need your help picking the winner. Take a moment or two to choose the care package(s) you’d most like to see in my shop!  Don’t see one you love? Leave me a comment with your suggestion. At the end of the week, I’ll pick two people to receive a free care package kit as a thank you for participating!

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Dog Deployment Goals

July 21, 2017

I write a lot about surviving and thriving during deployment, usually from my point of view. But today I’m turning the tables a bit and letting B and Ruger share some of their plans for the time their favorite guy is gone.  

Happy Friday, party people! Roogie and Wigs are back on the blog and we’re excited for the weekend! Hopefully Rachel doesn’t have a lot to do because we want to spend all of our time with her. Since A left, she’s been really busy and we haven’t gotten to play or snuggle with her as much as we would like.

She keeps telling us that we’re still trying to get into our deployment routine. We don’t like deployment because it means A is gone. But she always says that a deployment is what we make of it, so we have set our own deployment goals for the next few months.

Dog Deployment Goals

Take a lot of naps. At least two a day.

Ok. To be fair, we do this even when A is home, but we really want to dedicate ourselves to our craft. It helps us prepare for the big events during our day: meal time and bed time. We like to be in tip-top napping shape when our favorite guy gets home.

Make sure Rachel never feels lonely. 

We miss A a lot and Rachel does too. We don’t want her to feel bad so we’re making an extra effort to keep her company. We follow her into every room, sit next to her on the sofa and even cry when she leaves to get the mail. Sometimes we make her feel so unlonely, she goes into the bathroom and shuts the door just so she can feel lonely again.

Help with chores around the house.

We have a confession: sometimes we’re not the cleanest members of our family. We don’t make a mess on purpose, it just happens sometimes, like when we get really excited about a new toy or Ruger is extra thirsty. We know it can be a little exhausting for Rachel to clean up after us by herself so we want to do our part with the household chores. Ruger is helping to take out the trash by removing cardboard from recycling and chewing them up so they fit better. He also brings laundry from the laundry basket to the washing machine like a pro. B licks anything and everything off the floor, keeping it squeaky clean. We are basically keeping the house running.

Enjoy the little things in life, like a little more room in the bed. 

Sure, we’re sad that A isn’t here; we really miss him sharing snacks with us. But we can’t let missing him get in the way of enjoying the days until he’s home. Whether it’s the extra room in the bed or not having to wiggle in between A and Rachel all the time, we’re focusing on enjoying the little things in life.

Hopefully these goals keep us super busy and time flies until our favorite guy gets home. Have a great weekend!

Care Packages

Care Package Recipes

July 19, 2017
Care Package Recipes

When A is gone, I show my love via care packages. When he’s home, that love is expressed via homemade food. For a long time, I viewed one as replacing the other, but not anymore! As I’ve gotten more familiar with this world, I’ve learned that care package recipes that will make it overseas exist.

In order for care package recipes to make it overseas, they need to withstand at least two weeks of high temperatures, zero refrigeration and some bumps along the way.  It’s important to keep that in mind when putting recipes together.

Care Package Recipes

Trail mix

I shared my patriotic trail mix earlier this month, but the possibilities here are really endless! Since you’re making it yourself, you can really customize the ingredients to your loved one’s preferences. There are so many recipes out there, that there is something for everyone, plus it’s easy for your loved one to share with friends and co-workers. Here are a few ideas to get you started: sweet and salty trail mix, low-carb trail mix and S’mores trail mix.


Granola is trail mix’s healthier cousin and is great to send overseas. Once again, it’s easy to customize and completely shareable. This graphic has an easy recipe plus loads of customization ideas.

Cake in a jar

If there are favorite care package recipes among military spouses, cakes in mason jars are it. There are so many variations and they are super popular. You can even use boxed cake mix! SpouseBuzz has a great step-by-step tutorial for putting them together.


The good thing about biscotti is that it’s meant to be hard! And while I still recommend taking the steps below to give it the best change of arriving in good condition, it does give you a little more wiggle room.  Avoid recipes with chocolate chips in the biscotti or chocolate has a drizzle on top as that will likely melt during the journey. This classic almond biscotti or the cinnamon toast biscotti would be great to send along with some nicer coffee!


While all of these care package recipes have a better chance of making it overseas in good shape, there are additional steps that you can take to maximize their changes of still being delicious when they arrive.

Shrink wrap everything. 

If you have a machine that does it for you, that’s fantastic! But if not, consider wrapping things very tightly in plastic wrap and then place them in a plastic airtight container. Double-wrapping items doesn’t guarantee they’ll arrive perfectly fresh, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Add a slice of bread. 

The theory is that adding a slice of bread to your care package recipes keeps baked goods softer. The baked items absorb the moisture from the bread and don’t go stale as quickly. Use white bread so the bread doesn’t transfer any flavor to your homemade goodies.

Bake things at the last minute. 

Your care package recipes are going to take a few weeks to get into the hands of your loved one. Don’t extend that time by baking something way in advance. Bake as close to your shipping date as possible and package items quickly. Wait for things to cool completely though!

What care package recipes have you sent to your loved one?