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Rachel

Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix Recap #35

September 8, 2017

I know everyone is all OMG fall right now, but I’m still trying to hang on to the last few days of summer. Luckily, North Carolina hangs on to summer a little longer than other parts of the country which made my most recent Stitch Fix perfect.  It had a great mix of end of summer pieces and items that will transition nicely into fall.

For those of you who don’t know, Stitch Fix is a clothing subscription service. Each month (or however often you’d like), a stylist sends you five items of clothing chosen just for you. You can try them on in the comfort of your own home, keep what you want and then return the rest in the prepaid envelope. To say that it’s the highlight of my week when it arrives may be an understatement.

Item #1: THML Mioki Skirt. This is the perfect example of one the pieces that will transition nicely to fall. It’s a heavier weight fabric than most summer skirts so it will be a little warmer in the cooler months. Plus I can totally see this paired with a nice sweater or jacket.  I kept this bad boy and have already worn it to work a few times.

Item #2: 41Hawthorn Sara Textured Knit Dress. Another piece that I’ve already worn a few times. While the colors are a bit summery, I definitely plan to use this in the fall as well by pairing it with a sweater. The cut is super flattering and the length is perfect for the office.

Item #3: Skies are Blue Anbria Braided Cross Back Knit Top. While this top may not make many appearances in the colder months, I couldn’t resist keeping it. The side you see is actually the back and I just love the criss-cross details. It’s a bit thin, but perfect with shorts for some of our steamy days still to come.

Item #4: Bancroft Lexington Filigree Bracelet. Ok, if you know me, you know that I’m not a big jewelry girl. My husband actually wishes I was because it would make shopping for me easier, but I’m just not. However, this bracelet was just way too pretty to pass up. I can totally see wearing it on a date night once A comes home.

Item #5: Dear John Finnegan Cuffed Short. These are actually the second pair of Dear John shorts I’ve purchased from Stitch Fix and I love them. The material isn’t too thin and they’re just the right length and fit on me.

In case you weren’t keeping count, I did keep everything from this Fix. When you do, you get a pretty hefty discount which sometimes makes all 5 items cheaper than one or two! Talk about winning!

If you’re interested in trying out Stitch Fix for yourself, please consider using my referral link! I will get a little something towards my next Fix if you do.

Care Packages

Nut Care Package

September 6, 2017
Nut Care Package

There is no one in this world who has the ability to drive me nuts quite like my husband. It’s a good thing he’s cute, huh?! But oddly enough, the things that irritate me when he’s home are some of the first things I miss when he’s gone. Truth be told, even his odd quirks are part of the total package that I love. This realization led me to create this nut care package for him.

Last deployment, I discovered the appeal of the small flat rate boxes and when I was planning out his care packages for this deployment, I knew I wanted to use a few to fill in gaps between larger boxes. I’ve previously sent nut-themed care packages before, but wanted this one to be a little less nutty. The small flat rate box was just perfect!

Nut Care Package

One of the many things I love about small flat rate boxes is that they are so quick and easy to decorate. Don’t get me wrong, I love designing and decorating the bigger boxes, but every once in a while, I want something a bit easier. So I kept this one very simple, even repurposing items from my nut care package in the shop. But I love how it turned out!

The blue paper was really bright and things popped against it really well. The trick to decorating small boxes like this is to decorate all the paper and then glue it to the box. Don’t try to decorate paper after it’s attached to the box. I speak from experience!

Nut Care Package

Then came the easy part: filling it! I always try to send new things and even though it was tiny, my nut care package was not an exception. The OLOMOMO nuts were a complete impulse purchase at World Market just because they were different. It turns out they were a 50-50 hit. The cinnamon-cayenne flavor was not a winner, but the salt and vinegar ones were!

Not a ton fits in a small flat rate box, but I tested a few different content combinations to get the most out of my nut care package’s space. Luckily, a few of the items were squishable and fit into the tight space.

Nut care packages are really fun to put together and could include a lot of different things:

  • Peanut butter
  • Other nut butters – Justin’s nut butters come in individual serving packets that would fit into small spaces.
  • Any mixed nuts or nut snack packs
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • M&Ms, Snickers, Butterfingers, etc.
  • Trail mix – you could try my homemade patriotic trail mix!
  • Nut Exactly snack bites – my husband loves the peanut popcorn ones.

My husband may drive me nuts, but I will always send him care packages. What’s something about your loved one that normally drives you nuts, but that you miss when he/she is gone?

Military

Military Spouses & First Ladies

September 5, 2017

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have seen my post about First Women by Kate Andersen Brower. I finished up the book late last month and loved it. It offers a really interesting look at modern first ladies, covering everyone from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama. Readers got to see how each woman handled motherhood, the spotlight and the responsibility of being married to the most powerful man in America.

As I read through each chapter, I couldn’t help but feel a connection to a lot of these ladies, not because I know what it’s like to be the first lady, but rather because I know what it’s like to be a military spouse. The more I read, the more I realized how much military spouses have in common with these well-known, powerful women.

#Militaryspouses have more in common with first ladies thank you would think. Click To Tweet

Both women give up a lot for their spouses’ career. 

As soon as their husband embarks on the campaign trail, the career paths of future first ladies are altered forever. Sometimes they have to give up their own aspirations entirely or face coming to grips with a drastically different version. Oftentimes, they feel that their duties are a bit token and don’t provide the same amount of satisfaction as their career. Military spouses basically face the same challenges. Finding a job (let alone a career) as a military spouse is an uphill battle.

Then when you factor in moving away from home, not seeing their spouse very often and all the other little changes, military spouses and first ladies know all about sacrifice.

Both women recognize their spouse may be in danger because of his job. 

The stories of Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan are real enough to hit close to home for military spouses. Most of the first ladies profiled acknowledged living with a level of fear for their husbands’ safety. They would often kiss their loved one good-bye, not really knowing if they’d see them again. Military spouses do this before every single deployment.

Both women have to go through a significant learning curve when it comes to their husbands’ job. 

First ladies don’t really have any idea of what’s in store for them when they move into the White House and military spouses are oftentimes equally clueless. Both groups have to quickly learn on the job and roll with whatever punches are thrown at them. There isn’t really a manual, but just bits and pieces of advices from those who came before you and your own best judgement.

Both women have to stand up to quite a bit of scrutiny and ideas of what they should be.

A few days ago, there was a quite a bit of media buzz about First Lady Melania Trump’s shoe choice while visiting victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Would anyone give a flying flip if she was just some other person? Probably not. But that’s the cost of being first lady: people suddenly have all sorts of ideas about what you should do and when/how you should do it.

Like it or not, military spouses experience similar attitudes and stereotypes. But gone are the days where both groups embody 1950s housewife ideals. First ladies and military spouses have opinions, dreams and goals and aren’t afraid to share and pursue them.

Both groups of women are some of the most recognized and talked about groups in the country, but unless you’ve been one, most people can’t even begin to understand what their lives are like. After reading this book, I think military spouses should take heart in knowing that the first ladies probably understand them even better than we realize.

Have you ever come across a group of people that you have a lot in common with, even though they seem very different?

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Rebecca From What Rebecca Thinks

September 1, 2017

There are so many amazing military spouses out there kicking butt on a daily basis that deserve to be recognized and I’m excited to feature one of them each month with my Military Spouse Profile series. If you’re interested in sharing your story (or know someone who might), please send me an email!

Introduce yourself to my readers! Tell us a little bit about who you are.

Hi! I’m Rebecca, a freelance writer, Army wife, and mom of three. My day consists of coffee, reading in various forms, writing, and mother-ing. My wonderful husband and I strive to make life a learning experience for our kids, which currently has led to discussions about US geography, and Navajo code talkers at the dinner table.

When I have some time to myself, I enjoy quilting while listening to a good book, preparing freezer meals so I don’t have to cook each night, and getting back to the world of CrossFit. Did I mention I like coffee?

What inspired you to start blogging?

When I was working in Army transition assistance, it was a very hot topic in the community, and I was encouraged to write about it. Then I moved to military family issues and parenting.

What’s the main message you hope your blog shares with your readers?

I’m not a traditional blogger, as my writing mostly appears elsewhere, but I hope that when I bring military family issues to the eye of the general public, it helps to make the lifestyle a bit more understandable. Overall, my hope is to inspire and help readers.

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

The travel. I’m coming off a big move, after being in AZ for almost 5 years, and as hard as it has been to leave that life behind, it’s exciting to look forward. I love exploring a new place, setting up a new house, and spending that interim time with my family.

Tell us a little bit about your journey as a military spouse-the ups and downs, lessons learned, etc.

I married my husband about 4 years into his career. He’d already deployed twice to Iraq and I had no idea what was coming. The first year we spent together in a training environment. Then we went overseas. I “grew up” in Germany alongside some of the strongest spouses the military has ever known. From the day we left Germany, I have tried to be to other spouses what they were to me: a rock, a shoulder to cry on, and a resource.

We’ve had three kids, endured 4 deployments, numerous TDYs, and one very long and trying assignment. We’ve been married 10 ½ years, moved 5 times, gotten a degree each, and adjusted more times than I can count. There’s no question in my mind that this is where we are supposed to be, together.

What’s the number one piece of advice you would give a new military spouse?

Ask questions! Even the stupid ones. The more you know, the better prepared you will be.

What or who has been the biggest help or source of support to you in your role as a military spouse?

Senior spouses. We owe so much to the ones who have blazed the path before us. They did all of what we do now (and more!) with so much less. The family programs we have now? They fought for.

Do you have a favorite place the military has taken you? What is it and why?

Wiesbaden, Germany will always hold a special place in my heart. For the reasons mentioned above mostly. I loved living in Europe, finding myself, rooting my marriage, and starting my family there.

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? Anything related to the Tudors
  • What’s your favorite hobby? Sewing 
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate!
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. I love audiobooks, especially WEB Griffin books.

Many thanks to Rebecca for sharing her story! I have followed Rebecca for quite some time and am always blown away by what a great resource she is. If you’re a new military spouse (or even a seasoned one), follow her and learn from her experiences. Plus, her little ones are so stinking cute. You can find Rebecca on her blog, Facebook, TwitterPinterest and Instagram.

Care Packages

Care Packages Beyond The Military

August 30, 2017

Care packages and the military are so closely linked that most folks probably view them as going hand-in-hand. They aren’t wrong: deployed troops probably receive the majority of care packages. But once you get into the rhythm of sending care packages, you start to realize just how many people in your life could benefit from one!

#carepackages don't have to be just for the #military. There are so many people in your life who would benefit from… Click To Tweet

Military spouses

On one hand, this is the most obvious group to need a care package, but we’re often the ones to get overlooked. Take it from me, deployments (or even shorter term separations) are difficult and sometimes there can be very few bright spots. But getting notes in the mail or a basket of cookies on the porch are definitely bright spots.

Things you could include in a military spouse care package: an encouraging note, a gift card for a meal, a coupon to babysit little ones, a relaxing candle, some chocolate and maybe even a bottle of wine. But really, it’s the thought that counts. Knowing that someone is thinking of you and recognizes that you’re going through a difficult time is so appreciated.

Short on time or craftiness? Luckily, companies like The Six Box and MilSO Box are ready to send a pre-filled care package to the military spouse in your life.

Students

My timeline has been filled with lots of back to school photos, all the way from pre-school to college, and they got me thinking. When I was away at college, I was pretty homesick for the first few weeks (ok, maybe closer to the first few months) and would have loved to have a little taste of home show up in my mailbox. This just screams care package opportunity!

You could pack: homemade food or baked goods (depending on the distance/travel time), letters from family at home, photos, favorite snacks or drinks and maybe even a few study aides.

Missionaries

Much like military personnel, missionaries can be away from home for extended periods of time. Why wouldn’t they enjoy a few comforts from home?

Similar to military care packages, missionary care packages are best if they include things the recipient loves. Snacks, music or books are great things to send. You could also include practical things like clothing, mini alarm clocks, sewing kits and toiletries.

New parents

Show me a new parent who feels completely in control of everything happening in their life and I will show you B’s new talent: pulling coins out of Roogie’s ears. Bottom line is that new parents would definitely appreciate a care package.

You could certainly include baby necessities (like diapers and wipes), but consider sending things that are more for the parents. Maybe it’s a pre-cooked dinner or a gift card for take out to ease the burden at dinnertime. Extra coffee, a new movie to watch when the baby won’t sleep, pain relievers for the headaches that will come and maybe an adult beverage or two would be very welcome.

New neighbors/homeowners

What better way to meet new people than by showing up with presents? A care package for your new neighbor is a great way to make new friends. A pre-made meal is a nice option, but I’d opt for the ingredients to make a meal, especially if you don’t know their tastes/dietary restrictions. Cleaning supplies, a gift card to your favorite restaurant in town, tips on the best eats and activities and a welcome note are also great additions.

Those in need

Whether they’re sick, injured or just went through a natural disaster, there are so many people who could benefit from a little extra love.  Obviously the key here is to send things the recipient can actually use in the present moment so contents would change based on each situation.  Make sure to think practically when you pack this care package. While very thoughtful, oven-ready meals won’t do someone much good if they don’t have access to an oven.

The beauty of care packages is that they allow you to give no matter how far you may be from someone. There’s a level of connection there that is hard to match when you’re separated.  So many people in your life would benefit from a little extra love and care packages are perfect ways to share that.

In the spirit of sharing a little extra love, I want to add a quick note about helping those affected by Harvey in Texas. I grew up in Houston and many friends still live there so the devastating flooding has really hit close to home for me. The people of Houston are strong and will get through this, but they can’t do it alone. If you are able to give, please consider doing so.  Organizations the American Red Cross are great and reliable ways to give, but I hope you’ll donate wherever you feel a connection. If a monetary donation isn’t possible for you right now, please consider sharing my message with your friends and family.