Browsing Category

Military

Care Packages Countdowns & Cupcakes Store

Five Things Your Valentine’s Day Care Package MUST Have

January 8, 2018

Valentine’s Day care packages get the short end of the stick, don’t they? To accommodate shipping times, they often have to go out right after the holidays, when you’ve exhausted your care package creativity and maybe your budget. But your loved one deserves a care package for Valentine’s Day, don’t they? How are you supposed to pull a box together so quickly? You focus on a few Valentine’s Day care package must haves and take a little help wherever you can get it.

Yes, it would be fantastic if you were able to make your Valentine’s Day care package light up, sing and shoot out heart-shaped confetti. I’m sure your service member would love a fancy watch, a new iPad or a set of fancy headphones. But as you recover from the holiday craziness, focus on simplifying both the contents and design. Stick to Valentine’s Day care package must haves and give yourself a break!

Valentine’s Day care package must haves

Pictures

If your loved one is away from home during any portion of the year, odds are he/she misses you and the rest of the family.  This may be especially true around the holidays and through Valentine’s Day.  Since you can’t actually send yourself overseas, send the next best thing: photos! You could send photos from the holidays, random “day in the life” shots or get really sassy and have a boudoir shoot done. Package any photos up in a cute way that will make your loved one feel a little closer to those at home.

Love letter

I know technology is a modern military spouse’s best friend, but I kind of miss the days where couples wrote long love letters to each other when they were separated. Those seem infinitely more romantic than a “miss you ;)” IM at 3 am, don’t they? So one of your Valentine’s Day care package must haves is a love letter! Don’t worry, I’m not saying you have to write 8 pages of poetry. Just a simple one-page letter that tells your service member why you love them or a sweet greeting card with a short note in it.

Something sweet

Cynics will tell you that Valentine’s Day was just invented to sell candy, but I disagree. Valentine’s Day is a great time to remind someone that you love them and if you do it with candy, all the better! That’s why something sweet is on my list of Valentine’s Day care package must haves.  Now depending on your loved one’s personal tastes, the something sweet could take on a variety of different forms. But be careful about sending chocolate: even though the temps are slightly cooler now, odds are the chocolate will melt by the time it reaches your loved one. If chocolate is a must, consider a version that won’t melt like Nutella or a mug cake (Duncan Hines makes a great chocolate one).

Sentimental gift 

I think we all fall into the “more expensive, the better” trap when it comes to gifts, but Valentine’s Day gifts can be the exception to the rule if you’re willing to get a little creative.  Instead of shipping expensive items, consider sending a gift that’s more sentimental than expensive.  Maybe it’s a poem you wrote or a short video where you share reasons you love them. Or you could go old school with a mix tape full of songs that make you think about them.  Your loved one will love these sentimental gifts!

Lots of love

This is probably the most important item on my list of Valentine’s Day care package must haves because what’s Valentine’s Day without love? No matter what your care package looks like or what it contains, your service member will care most about the love that went into creating it. You can add a little extra love to your care package with a spritz of perfume at the end, a few extra notes tucked in between items and selecting items that will brighten your loved one’s day.

Do you need a little extra help with your Valentine’s Day care package? I can help you cross decorating off your to-do list with my Valentine’s Day care package. You can purchase it online in my Etsy shop and it comes with everything you see below.  It’s $15.00 and ships quickly and for free! I’ve only made a limited number so order soon before they run out!

Valentine's Day Care Package Must Haves

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

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Kelsey From By Land, Air Or Sea

January 3, 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.

Hey y’all! I’m Kelsey Ramirez, a Coast Guard wife, mother of two beautiful young girls, elementary teacher, ombudsman, technology enthusiast, football fanatic, Clemson loving, iced Latte and Mango tea drinking southern girl!

What inspired you to start your blog or business?

When I took a hiatus from teaching to go on extended maternity leave at 4 months pregnant, I wanted something to fulfill my passion and time.  I love helping others and wanted to put my tech skills to use.  I have started off small, and I am continuing to build and grow solo.

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

My main message is to be a contributor to military families and making their life easier.  My website was initially built to help with all issues dealing with PCSing (my unit information pages), traveling, education, buying and selling, and overall tips to make life easier.  My father was an Air Force Pilot, my husband is a Petty Officer in the Coast Guard, and my brother is an infantryman.  I have lots of tidbits of advice to help newcomers.

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

My favorite part of being a military spouse is knowing that my husband is part of a great purpose.  He has conducted search and rescue operations and has saved many families (which he won’t boast about), and he has protected our borders from drug operations.  Traveling comes in a close second.

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

It took some getting used to being in the military.  Being away from the love of your life isn’t easy (yes, the Coast Guard deploys – 2-6 months at a time).  The second thing was to surround myself with spouses who were encouraging and positive.  Spouses come in all varieties – just like in the civilian sector – be kind, be helpful, be supportive.  I learned that if I am these things, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how they are.

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

Learn to be flexible, as hard as it is.  I remind myself of that many days.  They cannot control their schedule, and they need our support.

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

Other spouses.  Living on bases I found other spouses that I could rely on, hang out with, chit-chat, and ask advice from.  I had many take me under their wing as a new spouse and then as a new spouse to an area. I have been fortunate in that way.

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

Oak Island, NC.  I grew up in Myrtle Beach as a child, then I moved away.  It was fun to come back to the area as an adult and enjoy all it had to offer.

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? Grey’s Anatomy
  • What’s your favorite hobby? My website (hopefully, it will become more than a hobby).
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla – for sure! 
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. I am a music sponge – I can pick up most songs after hearing them twice.

Many thanks to Kelsey for sharing her story this month! I’m a little biased because she’s a fellow Clemson fan, but I highly recommend checking her out on social media or on her blog.  I could feel the pride in her words about her husband being part of a greater purpose; that sense of pride is something so many of us can relate to. You can find her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

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

Military

A Holiday Letter To Military Spouses

December 20, 2017

Dear military spouse,

Happy holidays! Or are you more bah humbug?

Don’t worry, I understand if you’re not brimming with holiday cheer right now. The holidays can be rough. Maybe your spouse is deployed and you’re feeling their absence more strongly than normal. Maybe you live really far away from family and miss the togetherness and traditions. Maybe you have a hard time mustering up any holiday cheer because you’re overseas and nothing feels the same.

I feel your pain because I’ve been there. Last year, my husband was deployed during the holidays and I was more than a little Grinchy about the entire season. Trust me, it was not a good look. But I eventually decided that being unhappy all the time wasn’t worth it; it wasn’t going to get my husband home any sooner and it was a little exhausting. So I stopped being unhappy and focused on finding things to be happy about. It’s from the experience that I can assure that you will survive this holiday season, no matter how unlikely it seems right now. In fact, you may even find yourself thriving during the holidays!

Joy has a way of creeping in where you least expect it, as long as you leave a little piece of yourself open to it. You can find joy during the holidays, if only you open your eyes.

Joy has a way of creeping in where you least expect it, as long as you leave a little piece of yourself open to it. Click To Tweet

Look to your friends, your family, your neighbors, even your fellow military spouses to bring a smile to your face. Look to little ones who don’t know not to be happy during Christmas. Look to strangers committing random acts of kindness. Look to yourself as you reflect on all that you have to be joyful for because that is the greatest gift of the holidays: the reminder of just how lucky you are.

The heartache of missing someone can be especially pronounced during the holidays and it’s tempting to withdraw to protect yourself. But oh dear military spouse, please give yourself the gift of joy during the holidays and let yourself celebrate. It may be hard and it may not be as fun as normal, but it’s worth it.

Sending you virtual hugs and as much joy as possible!

Happy holidays, dear military spouse.

Care Packages

Date Night Care Package

December 6, 2017
Date Night Care Package Ideas

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

There is something about colder weather that makes me want to do all the coupley things, especially date nights. Whether it’s dinner at a favorite restaurant or pizza and a movie at home, there’s nothing quite like a true date night to brighten my week and make me feel loved. But when my husband is deployed, date nights come to a screeching halt. But do they have to? A date night care package could definitely help fill the void of traditional date nights if you’re willing to get a little creative.

The key to any date night care package is to have it be personal to your date night preferences. But when it comes to the long distance version, you’ll need to throw in a dash of creativity to get your ideas to translate to a box. I’ve put together three different date night ideas that you could easily package up in a flat rate rate box and send to your loved one. Make sure you keep a version of the contents for yourself so when you’re on Skype, it’s like you’re together.

Date Night Care Package Ideas

Italian Dinner Date

 

Perhaps it’s because I am Italian, but in my book, it’s hard to beat a good Italian dinner date. A glass of wine, a steamy bowl of pasta and some romantic candle light? So good! And this is th next best thing. Those microwavable pasta meals are test-tested and husband-approved, so I feel very confident in recommending them to you all! Of course, you need to add a healthy sprinkle of parmesan cheese and something for dessert. That classic red and white tablecloth is big enough for you to cut in half and you can divide the candles out so you both have a few. To get the perfect setting, you just need a little romantic music and Dean Martin is coming to your rescue!

Movie Date

 

Movies are a go-to date for many couples and they are really perfect for a date night care package. I chose items that my husband would like in a movie date night (including his favorite movie), but the beauty of this idea is that you can easily customize it to your tastes!

Coffee Date

Ok, while the other two date ideas are fun, I have to admit that I’m most excited about this coffee date care package. I found so many fantastic items to include, but my favorite has to be the long distance coffee mugs. While the travel mug may be more practical, there is something to be said for the cute factor of those mugs. Obviously a coffee date doesn’t work without coffee and the brand I have linked here is my husband’s favorite. If your loved one doesn’t have access to a coffee maker, consider sending them a french press so they can make their own.  You can find plastic ones, but as long as you protect it, the glass ones should arrive in one piece. Biscotti, coffee-scented candle and some coffeehouse music will complete your coffee date. All you need now is great conversation.

Dates don’t have to stop just because deployment comes calling. With a little creativity, a strong internet connection and a bit of scheduling, you can find a way to keep dating your loved one, even long distance.

Have you ever had a date night during deployment? How did you make it special?

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

Military

Military Spouse Profile: Carolann from Finding Ithaka

December 4, 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! My name is Carolann. I’m a writer and avid reader currently stationed in Hawaii with my husband, Nick. I’m originally from New York, so moving here was a huge change for me. But now we’re on our second tour here in Hawaii. I love living here. 

My husband is a submariner with 14 years in the military. I’ve known him for 10 of those years, and we’ve been married for almost 5. Since becoming a military spouse, I have tried on last of different hats and I’m honestly still trying to figure out who I am. I think that’s partially why I keep writing my blog and connecting with other military spouses through it.

What inspired you to start your blog or business?

When Nick and I moved to Hawaii right after our wedding, I started my blog. I had to quit my job as a writer and I didn’t want to lose my writing skills, so I decided to write about Hawaii.  I was a brand-new military spouse then. As time went on, I became less interested in writing about travel tips to Hawaii and more interested in connecting with other military spouse bloggers. 

As we went through moves and different things the military threw at us, I got older and more experienced. I start writing about my lessons learned and my perspective as a military spouse. Now, my blog is a mix of military spouse life, travel, Hawaii, and book reviews.

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

The name of my blog is called Finding Ithaka. It’s based on a poem called “Ithaka” by a Greek poet named CP Cavafy. The poem is about enjoying the journey and not focusing so much on the destination.  It’s the journey that makes us who we are, not the destination. 

I hope that is the message that my readers take away from my blog. Being a military spouse can be rough, but we also get so many opportunities that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.  I don’t want to spend my time counting the days until my husband is home or until we leave our duty station. I want to enjoy the journey.

What is your favorite part of being a military spouse?

I used to say the adventure, but at this stage in my life, the thing I value most is the incredible friendships I’ve made. The adventure is pretty amazing too. 

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

Nick enlisted in the military when he was 18. I met him when he was 22. At that time, he was in a program where he was going to college and becoming an officer.

As soon as he graduated college and got commissioned, he went to all of these different submarine schools all over the country before getting stationed in the Seattle area. I stayed behind to finish college and focus on my career while he did 5 short deployments.

After 5 years of long distance, we decided enough was enough and it was time to get married and finally be together. That period of transition was really hard for me because I felt like I was losing my identity. I had just gotten a promotion and my Master’s degree. I only had that job, which I loved, for two months before having to quit. It was also my first time moving away from New York.

But I knew that I made the right decision and after some time to adjust, I had never been happier. I learned that I am not defined by the job that I have and that there is so much more to me than that. That is something I want every military spouse struggling with their career to know.

If you take away one thing from this post, I hope that it’s you are so much more than a job and than your title as “military spouse”.

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

I’m actually writing a blog post about this! It’s hard to choose one thing, but I would tell them to do their own thing. If you are living in Hawaii, for example, and you are always waiting on your spouse to go new places and explore, you will miss out on so much. Get out there and make friends who have common interests so that you can do things together. When your spouse is around, you can them to the best places.


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

My friend J. She has been through so much in her life and as a military spouse. Her husband has the same job as Nick, but he’s a bit older, so she’s already been through what I’m going through right now. She has been completely honest with me, but also very supportive. Knowing that she has gotten through what I am going through and made it helps me a lot. I think it’s good to have a military spouse friend who is a bit more seasoned than you. 

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

Hawaii! I think that it’s a great place to be stationed. When would you get to live in paradise? I think it’s a good place to be when your spouse is deployed because it’s always warm and there is so much to do. 

I also love living here because military spouses become super close. We can’t just drive home for a random weekend or Thanksgiving so we become like family. We not only spend all of our weekends together but we also rely on each other.

Just for fun:

  • Favorite Netflix binge-worthy watch? Right now I’m binging on Once Upon a Time and I can’t stop! Luckily, it’s 7 seasons and I’m only on season 2.
  • What’s your favorite hobby? Making scrapbooks. I have made one each year since Nick and I started dating, and I always give them to him on Christmas morning! 
  • Chocolate or vanilla? Always, vanilla. 
  • Tell us a random fact about yourself. In college, we had to do a 50+ page research paper in order to graduate. As an English major, I knew mine was going to be about a book. I ended up writing it about Harry Potter. It took me a while to convince my Dean that this was a serious academic endeavor. Luckily, I had an awesome advisor who was completely for it and helped me.

As I read Carolann’s interview over, I kept finding myself nodding in agreement. She has so many great nuggets of advice in here, but my favorite is to do your own thing. That’s one of my core military spouse beliefs. You can find Carolann on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.