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Rachel

Care Packages Countdowns & Cupcakes Store

Movie Care Package

February 5, 2018
Movie Care Package

Raise your hand if Netflix has judged you with its “Are you still watching?” message during a binge-watching session? Yeah, me too. On lazy weekends, my husband and I often lose a few hours (or more) to a new addicting series. As boring as it may seem from the outside, those weekends are some of my favorites and have inspired my newest movie care package design.

I’ve written before about date night care packages, including ideas for a movie care package, and love the concept of sending them during a deployment. Being separated by timezones and distance does not mean you need to stop dating your loved one, even if the date changes a bit in concept.

This movie care package not only works for a deployment date night, but it also gives a little hint at date nights to look forward to at home. The bottom paper features a bold red and black color scheme along with a little bit of sass to put a smile on your loved one’s face.  I don’t often combine fonts, but like the contrast between the block and script fonts.

Movie Care Package

The four flaps feature shimmery black paper and movie-going must-haves.  The soda, film reel and popcorn bucket feature multiple layers of paper to make them as authentic as possible. My favorite is definitely the popcorn bucket and the individual popcorn kernels.  I love the way it turned out!

Movie care package flaps

Another one of my favorite features is the movie tickets that I’ve customized a bit so they fit a deployment care package.

Movie care package detail

You could include a wide variety of items in this movie care package including popcorn, popcorn seasoning, other movie snacks, movies, soundtrack CDs and entertainment magazines.  It could be a lot of fun to watch the movie together (if you can manage to find a strong enough internet signal, almost as if you’re together.

This movie care package is now available in my shop and ships for free!

Want even more care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.

Movie care package

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Beth From ServingTalent

February 2, 2018

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 Beth! I’m a business woman, Army wife, dog mom, CrossFit Coach, fitness enthusiast, lover of food, wine, travel and good laughs. My life motto is: “Travel. Eat. Talk. Be Kind. Be Fit. Be Open”

What inspired you to start your blog or business?

Moving every few years stateside I was able to re-start my career.  Sure, I was frustrated that every move meant my career was basically starting over but at least I was able to maintain my professional identity.  When we were given orders overseas and I was forced to quit a remote job due to the SOFA, I. Was. Devastated. Before receiving these orders, I had finally found a job with a fortune 500 company that could ‘be done from the moon’ said the hiring manager.  FINALLY! We could PCS all over America and I would not have to start over!! Unfortunately, neither of us took into account the possibility of an OCONUS PCS and what the SOFA might do to that employment status.  After being overseas for just over a year and struggling to find my identity I found ServingTalent, they had just launched and were looking for help getting off the ground. They were a full-service staffing agency for professional military and foreign service spouses.  Their story was identical to mine! Two spouses with advanced degrees and years of experience finding themselves unemployed after an overseas move.

As a founding member we have fought every day to share the tremendous value that military and foreign service spouses bring to the workforce.  More and more employers are coming around and agree with our assessment that military spouses truly are an untapped resource!

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

There are so many ways to answer this. Military spouses looking to get your career back, don’t sell yourself short! Put yourself out there, meet people, and spend time on your resume, ask for help our community is more than willing to help their own.

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

The spouse community! Hands down! The most diverse, helpful, accepting, funny, and resourceful group of people you will ever meet!  Other military spouses get you, I promise.  If you haven’t connected with those around you yet give it time, this community is filled with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.

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

I came into the military life with absolutely zero exposure to the military.  No one in my immediate family was in the military, we had no military bases around my hometown.  My husband is 3rd generation military with his father and grandfather serving in the military.  We dated for several years before marrying and our careers were treated like ‘civilians’ treat their careers.  They were things we spoke to each other about but we were not involved in each other’s daily work life.  Shortly after marrying, quitting my job, and moving I was thrust into an FRG Leader position for his unit that was deploying.  Knowing nothing about the military other than the course I just completed to hold this volunteer position I was lost and so confused as to why me, as a civilian and his spouse, was now part of his work day, in a small way…it was so foreign to me.

This was my first experience with how amazing the spouse community is.  A tenured spouse took me under her wing and helped explain all of the things I didn’t understand.  She was my rock throughout my first few years and first few deployments.  Now, 11 years later I see how coming at this military life as a team in some ways is necessary.  When I say team, I mean taking the time to understand what this life is about, we are faced with constant changes and things that are out of our control.  Once I took time to understand how the process works, or in some cases doesn’t work, we were approaching this life as a team rather than a couple with separate careers.

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

Be prepared to be unprepared!  If you can master that line of thinking, you will be unstoppable in this journey!  This lifestyle can throw a lot at you: some of it in your favor, some not, some making total sense and some complete nonsense.  The more that you can prepare yourself to be completely unprepared, the better you will be at tackling all of this uncertainty like a champ!

 

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

My husband has been patient beyond measure.  From the early days when I questioned EVERYTHING and didn’t understand anything to now when I still question EVERYTHING out of frustration.

There have been a few ‘senior spouses’ that have set examples in more ways than one.  Not only have they shown me how to successfully navigate this life, they have been amazing friends and demonstrated just how important grace and humility are. The larger spouse community has been outstanding: from that first tenured spouse that helped out the struggling new girl, to the incredible volunteers that have pulled together some pretty amazing feats, to the good-natured friends I have made along the way.

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

Germany! We were stationed in Vilseck for about 3 years.  Even though we went through a 9-month deployment and a few months of trainings in eastern Europe we were able to travel and see so much of Europe.  My eyes were opened to so many new things about culture, food, living, governing, and more.  We could grab the dog and jump on a train or hop in the car and be in a new country with a different language and amazing food in a matter of hours.  We made some amazing friends.

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? Riverdale (I have Korean Netflix which has limited variety.)
  • What’s your favorite hobby? CrossFit, travel, cooking, eating
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla with cinnamon
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. I auditioned for The Apprentice in 2007 and made it through 2 rounds before falling flat on my face during an on-camera interview.

What a great profile from Beth this month! I think her story of finding a career and a place overseas is very inspiring and timely as so many folks are finding out where they’ll PCS in the spring/summer. I can relate to her story so much, especially as I’m faced with an upcoming PCS and significant career change. You can find her on the ServingTalent websiteTwitter and LinkedIn.

Need care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.

Lifestyle

When You Stop Saying “Just”

January 31, 2018

“I’m just a military spouse.”

“I’m just a stay-at-home mom.”

“I’m just a student.”

“I’m just a __________________.”

You’ve said some variation of these exact same sentences at least once, but probably even more often than that. You didn’t mean anything negative by it. You actually did it without thinking. You don’t even realize that you’ve belittled yourself.

But you did.

When you say you’re “just a military spouse,” you end the sentence before adding “and I work a full-time job and I’m getting a master’s degree and I manage to balance all of those things with taking care of kids/house/life while my spouse serves the nation.”

That’s a lot more impressive, isn’t it? It’s also more accurate.

But when you say you’re just that or you just do this, you don’t keep going and when you don’t keep going, you sell yourself short. When you say you’re “just” something, it leaves no room for all of the other amazing, wonderful things you are or do.

I too am guilty of selling myself short, usually in a misguided attempt to be modest or deferential to someone else’s accomplishments. But when you think about it, that’s absurd. I can be humble, modest and in awe of someone else for all their kick butt moments and still be dang proud of my own.

So in 2018, I’ve given up the word “just”; I quit it cold turkey.  Moving forward I will remember that I am a sum of many parts and seek to acknowledge all of them.  It will be tough some days, especially as my husband’s career forces me to adjust and reevaluate my own.  But no matter what, I’m worth a full explanation.

And so are you.

Join me in making 2018 the year of the full explanation. Stop selling yourself short because you feel like it’s something you SHOULD do. Stop saying that you’re “just” anything.

Give me your full explanation in the comments so I can get to know you better!

Care Packages Countdowns & Cupcakes Store

St. Patrick’s Day Care Package Decor

January 29, 2018

I know what you’re thinking.

“Rachel, it’s only January. We haven’t even had Valentine’s Day yet. What the heck are you doing talking about St. Patrick’s Day?”

And ordinarily, I would agree with you, but when you operate in the care package world you have to think ahead! Shipping a care package overseas can take anywhere from 7 days to 3 weeks so planning a month in advance is really a necessity.

“But Rachel, everything in the store is still pink and heart-shaped. I can’t put together a St. Patrick’s Day box yet!”

Oh dear reader, never fear! I have you covered with my St. Patrick’s Day care package set that’s already available in my Etsy shop!

I took a lot of inspiration from our recently trip to Ireland for this care package set.  Even though we went in November, everything was so vibrant and green.  Everywhere we went the grass was picture perfect. My husband, who is in charge of the lawn here at home, couldn’t get over it! There’s even a Johnny Cash song called “Forty Shades of Green” all about their landscape. After our visit, I totally get why.

I knew this care package needed to have as many shades of green as possible, and while I wasn’t able to get 40 in there, I got quite a few!

The bottom of the box incorporates at least three shades of green all by itself. As soon as I found the mini shamrock paper, I knew that it needed to be the bottom of the box.  I loved the green-on-green and since I knew the overall design was going to be heavy on shamrocks, it fit perfectly.

A holiday care package designed by yours truly isn’t complete until there is at least one play on words in the design. Well this one has two! The first is the green text on the bottom paper. Instead of “I wish you”, it’s “Irish you,” get it? I know, it’s a little cheesy, but it was too good to pass up.

For the flaps, I chose a much brighter green as the background. It’s actually almost the exact same shade of green as the mini shamrocks in the bottom paper.  Here is where I went a little crazy. I added a second play on words and used glitter paper for the text.

Eeek! I know, glitter seems to be the kryptonite to almost everyone out there (including my husband), but I love it and it’s very festive.  Luckily this paper doesn’t shed glitter as easily as some other papers do so I think you can get away with sending it.  I like the simplicity of the flaps because they really allow the theme to pop.

This St. Patty’s Day care package may only cover four shades of green, but your loved one’s co-workers will be green with envy watching him/her open it.  You can purchase it right now in my Etsy shop for $15 with free shipping! The sooner you order, the faster it will ship and you can get started filling your box with all sorts of goodies.

If you’re stuck on ideas for contents, don’t worry! All of my care package flaps come with a card listing out content ideas. I will also have a blog post all about what to put in a St. Patrick’s Day care package later next month.

Want even more care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.

Books Military

“15 Years of War” Book Review

January 26, 2018

This country has been at war for more than a decade and a half. When you write it out, it kind of blows your mind doesn’t it? For more than 15 years, military families have endured multiple deployments, unspeakable loss and the hardships of a decade plus of ups and downs. How do families survive that? Kristine Schellhass tackles that exact question in her memoir, 15 Years of War

I have the privilege of meeting Kristine at the 2017 Military Influencer Conference and immensely enjoyed hearing her presentation on self-publishing. After hearing all that she went through to get her book out there, I knew I needed to read it myself. Luckily, Santa brought it my way for Christmas after seeing it on my military spouse-created gift guide.

Summary: Less than 1% of our nation will ever serve in our armed forces, leaving many to wonder what life is really like for military families.

He answers the call of duty in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Pacific; she keeps the home fires burning. Worlds apart, and in the face of indescribable grief, their relationship is pushed to the limits.

15 Years of War: How the Longest War in U.S. History Affected a Military Family in Love, Loss, and the Cost Of Service provides a unique he said/she said perspective on coping with war in modern-day America. It reveals a true account of how a dedicated Marine and his equally committed spouse faced unfathomable challenges and achieved triumph, from the days just before 9/11 through 15 years of training workups, deployments, and other separations.

This story of faith, love, and resilience offers insight into how a decade and a half of war has redefined what it means to be a military family.

My thoughts: Sometimes you are lucky enough to find a book that just gets you.  This is one of those books for me.

I can relate to Kristine’s story so much that it might as well be my own. Oh wait, large chunks of it really could be! She perfectly captures what it’s like to a military spouse in the middle of a never-ending cycle of deployments and TDYs all while trying to keep any shred of normalcy going on at home.  It’s heart-wrenchingly difficult and the only thing that keeps you going are the wonderful times in between.  She does a wonderful job of sharing both the highs and lows of military life.

I love that the book told the story from both her and her husband’s perspectives. As hard as life can be for military spouses, it’s important for us to remember that our spouses aren’t exactly on vacation. My husband, like many service members, doesn’t really like talking about what happens during a deployment (or even during a normal day at work) so reading her husband’s perspective was eye-opening for me.  I imagine this will be the case for most readers, whether you’re a civilian or a military spouse.

If I had to pick just one word to describe this book it would be real. Kristine doesn’t sugarcoat anything and really lets the reader into the darkest corners of her life and marriage. I appreciate that as both a reader and a fellow military spouse. She gives the world a realistic glimpse of what military families have been through over the past 15+ years and that’s so important.

No matter what your affiliation is to the military, you will find the story captivating and powerful. Without hesitation, I recommend adding this book to your reading list!