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Military

Why Military Spouses Make Great Friends

June 22, 2017

Dear civilian readers,

Please become friends with a military spouse. I know it may seem like we have a lot of drama in our lives, but that’s all Hollywood nonsense. You may think that we would make cruddy friends because of all the extra stuff going on. But that’s so not true! In fact, we make really good friends thanks to the lessons we’ve learned as military spouses.

We’re flexible.

I’m not sure you could find a more flexible friend than a military spouse. Have to change plans 15 times because of your work/kids/in-laws/hot water heater? No worries, the military just changed where we were moving 16 times so you’re still coming out on top.

We won’t be clingy. 

Our spouses leave for months at a time. We move halfway across the world where we know no one. We’ll be ok if you have a busy week at work and don’t return our text.

We have a pretty good sense of humor.

You don’t survive life as a military spouse without a sense of humor. When Murphy’s Law comes knocking during deployment, you have to laugh or you’ll straight up cry. We can find humor in every day situations, even when it seems like everything stinks.

We have random skills that could come in handy. 

Need something fixed around the house? Call us! Odds are we’ve had to fix it ourselves or know exactly who to call.  We’re resourceful, independent and most of us are fairly familiar with the contents of a toolbox.

If you don’t like us, no worries. We’ll move in a few years. 

Sometimes friendships run their course, but the person is still in your life every single day. You don’t have to worry about this with military spouses. Every few years, we pack up and move to a new spot, giving both of us chances to let the friendship fizzle out.

We’re good at maintaining relationships, even long distance.

But on the flip side of that, take comfort in knowing that we are very good at maintaining relationships, even when they are long distance. We’ve had plenty of practice staying in touch with people far and wide and will stick by you no matter how far apart we are.

So to all of my civilian readers: find that military spouse in your life and become friends! We may just be the best friend you’ve ever had.

What makes the military spouses in your life such good people to have as friends?

Care Packages

BBQ Care Package

June 21, 2017
BBQ care package inspiration

Happy first day of summer, everyone! While today may officially mark the start of the summer season, we have been in full on BBQ mode for weeks now. And can you really blame us? For me, cookouts are one of the best parts of summer, something that I know my husband hates missing when he’s deployed. That got me thinking about how I would send a BBQ care package and this inspiration post was born!

BBQ Care Package Decor

To really sell this box as a BBQ care package, it needs to look like a BBQ! The easiest way to do that is to decorate the box with paper that looks like a tablecloth (or use an actual tablecloth!) I’m a big fan of this gingham paper I found online.

You could a cutout grill, hamburger, hotdogs or any sort of grilling tools. You can find some really cute stickers to go along with your BBQ care package online as well.  Possible wording could include “can’t wait for you to be all up in my grill”, “license to grill”, “you know how to turn this grill on” or “I’d PIC-nic you every time.”

If you wanted to turn this BBQ care package into a full-on picnic theme, you could package all the contents in a small picnic basket and put that in the box. How stinking cute would that be?!

BBQ Care Package Contents

Of course, the second step to a perfect BBQ care package involves having the right contents! Sending a grill and raw hamburgers is out, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep the theme going with the help of a little creativity.

  • BBQ sauces: during the summer, BBQ sauce is everywhere. If you are able to find miniature sizes, you could send a few different varieties for your loved one to try.
  • BBQ flavored foods: you can find chips, snack mixes and even beef jerky that has a BBQ flavor.
  • Soda: while I think we all know that beer and BBQ goes hand-in-hand, you can’t send actual beer in your BBQ care package. Root beer may be a good substitute, just make sure to put each can in a plastic bag and cushion them well.
  • BBQ magazine or cookbook.
  • Bugspray
  • Picnic tablecloth
  • Lemonade mix
  • Summer sausage, mustard and buns: summer sausage is shelf stable and a great way to add a little meat to your BBQ care package.  A loves getting these in his care packages; just make sure that they don’t violate any rules where you’re sending them.
  • Plastic plates, cups and silverware: now, I’m partial to these plastic baskets, but you could find great options wherever you shop.
  • Supplies for S’mores: I really love these s’mores cakes in a jar, but shipping may take a toll on them. You can certainly send stuff to make s’mores or send these from Russell Stover’s.

Have you ever sent a BBQ care package? What did you put in it?

Check out more care package inspiration here. If you like this post, I’d love it if you heart it on Bloglovin’ or pin it on Pinterest

Care Packages

Patriotic Care Package Contents

June 14, 2017
Patriotic Care Package Contents

Putting together a care package is a three-part process: pick a theme, decorate your box and then fill it with goodies that fit the theme and that your loved one enjoys. Luckily for all of us, the 4th of July comes with a pretty perfect built-in theme for military care packages. Steps two and three are pretty easy as well: I have the perfect 4th of July care package in my shop and have put together a list of patriotic care package contents so you can send the perfect care package!

There are lots of patriotic care package contents in stores right now, but if you’re interested in sending something a little more personal, I highly recommend the patriotic rice krispie treats! They are so festive and easy to make. Just make sure to add a slice of bread in with them and wrap them well so they don’t get stale!

I linked two options and can’t decide which ones I like best, but the flag cookies make take the cake, so to speak. They are definitely more complicated, but really fit the theme! And last, but certainly not least, I can’t wait to help little ones create the handprint flag art to send. It looks like such an easy project, but would mean so much to folks overseas.

Baking and crafting not your thing? That’s totally ok! You can find patriotic care package contents everywhere right now and they are perfect! The three I have here are specific for 4th of July, but there are so many other red, white and blue items that exist year-round.

Patriotic care package contents don’t necessarily have to be food. There are plenty of apparel items that you could send, including non-holiday ones.  For example, my husband loves UnderArmour shirts for working out and one in red, white and blue would be perfect.

Other items could include red or blue Gatorade, gum in red or blue packages and fun patriotic decorations. Just remember that you cannot send alcohol or fireworks/sparklers. What are your favorite patriotic care package contents?

Care Packages Countdowns & Cupcakes Store

Float My Boat Care Package

June 12, 2017
Boat Care Package

Full confession: my husband is in the Navy so I’m a bit biased when it comes to all things nautical. But I can’t not love my newest care package! This boat care package is the perfect way to celebrate the start of summer, because who doesn’t want to be out on the lake during the hot summer months?

And while I may have drawn some inspiration from my sailor husband for this boat care package, it doesn’t have to go just to sailors! Once you fill it with items like water bottles, flip flops and sunglasses, it would brighten anyone’s day.

I love how this box turned out. It’s fun and has all the best parts of summer depicted on the flaps. Everything from the palm trees to the dolphins makes me wish I was on a tropical island somewhere.  The bottom piece is a little tribute to my husband, but is a sweet sentiment to share with someone in any branch of service.

This boat care package is now available in my shop and, as always, ships free. Plus 10% of the total will be donated to an organization that supports military families so you’re really giving twice!

Military

What To Do, Eat And See Near Ft. Bragg

June 8, 2017
What to do, eat and see near Ft. Bragg

It’s almost time to PCS and you’ve just gotten your orders. The words “Fort Bragg” immediately strike fear in your heart because you’ve heard about Fayetteville and it’s not been good stuff. Fayettenam as it’s known to locals has a bit of a negative reputation both in and out of the state. Some have even gone so far as to call it the “armpit of North Carolina”. But take it from me, there is so much to eat, see and do near Ft. Bragg that you’ll find yourself loving your new home before long.

Besides its military connection, Fayetteville is probably best known for its annual Dogwood Festival.  But there is so much more to the city than that!

Places to eat near Ft. Bragg

The Fried Turkey Sandwich Shop: in downtown Fayetteville, this popular lunch spot gets super busy and is known for their deep-fried turkey sandwiches (hey, you are in North Carolina!) Be ready to stand in line, sometimes wrapping around the sidewalk, for one of these bad boys. Try the Turkey Day sandwich with a side of fried okra and the dipping sauce. And then take a nap for the rest of the day.

Taste of West Africa: if you’re in the mood for something more unique, this classic West African restaurant may be just the thing. The healthy authentic West African cuisine is a crowd pleaser and the owners actively give back via their non-profit Loving Hands International.

Huske Hardware House: looking for a casual night out? Try HHH on Friday or Saturday evenings when they have live music and dancing. It’s in a great spot and is part of the original historic downtown Fayetteville. It’s now owned by a few veterans and is a great spot for a drink.

The Twisted Grape: this is another veteran-owned business, but is a bit further out in Cameron rather than in Fayetteville itself. They have really great food, a fantastic selection of beer, wine and liquor and come highly recommended by my husband and his co-workers.

Skibo Road in Fayetteville has quickly become the chain restaurant hub of the city so if you’re looking for something specific, you’ll probably find it there.

Outdoor spots near Ft. Bragg

Fayetteville doesn’t always scream outdoor paradise, but there are plenty of great local spots where you can get back to nature.

Cape Fear Botanical Gardens: The Cape Fear Botanical Gardens are located just minutes away from Ft. Bragg and is a great place! You can spend a few hours exploring the 80 acres of grounds nestled along the Cape Fear River. I’ve been a few times and really enjoy it!

Raven Rock State Park: if you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge, Raven Rock State Park is a great spot in Lillington (located about half an hour from Ft. Bragg) with lots of hiking trails.  The easier paths and key lookouts tend to get a bit crowded during peak times so consider going early in the day.

Pinehurst Resort: famous beyond just the Tar Heel state, Pinehurst is quite the destination. Between the cute downtown scene and the gorgeous resort and golf course, there’s a little something for everyone in Pinehurst. Plus, at less than an hour from Ft. Bragg, it’s a great day trip.

Skydive Paraclete XP: if golf and a spa are a little too slow-paced for you, consider testing out the skydiving options in Raeford. Prices are a bit on the high side, but for a once-in-a-lifetime experience like skydiving, it may be worth it.

Zipquest: see nature from a bird’s eye view when you’re ziplining through Carver’s Falls. Ziplining gives kids ages 8 and up a thrill.

Indoor places near Ft. Bragg

Airborne and Special Operations Museum: you cannot come to the home of Special Operations without visiting the Airborne and Special Operations Museum at least once. Admission is free and there is plenty to fill a rainy (or super hot) day.

Cameo Art House Theater: the Cameo is one of the most unique spots near Ft. Bragg. Located in downtown Fayetteville, it was home to one of the city’s first motion picture theaters and now brings a variety of independent films from around the world. What they lack in screens and number of movies showing, they make up for in a fantastic beer and wine selection.

Sports near Ft. Bragg

Fayetteville FireAntz: members of the Southern Professional Hockey League, the FireAntz are a cheap and fun activity. Plus, the team was recently purchased by a Ft. Bragg veteran so the local connection runs strong with the team.

Cape Fear Heroes: if arena football is your thing, you’re in luck because the Cape Fear Heroes have been the hometown team for quite a few years, bringing more than one championship home to Fayetteville. The team is active in their community and is really entertaining.

Fayetteville SwampDogs: take me out to the ballgame and check out the SwampDogs! Another team that’s well ingrained in the community, the SwampDogs are a fun time for the whole family. Even more baseball will be coming to the Ft. Bragg area as the Houston Astros will bring their minor league team to the area soon. A brand new stadium is being built and the area is very excited about it.

There is so much to see, do and eat near Ft. Bragg that you’ll quickly find yourself enjoying your time here. Plus its central location allows you to visit Raleigh-Durham, the beach and the mountains all within a few hours.  What’s your favorite spot near Ft. Bragg?