As often as military families PCS, Welcome Gifts are a much appreciated gesture. We had a great time coming up with 20 Welcome Baskets ideas under $20.00. Hope you liked watching our video too. If you didn't see it, no worries, watch it here. Also, the recipes and FREE printable are available in this post, just scroll down a bit and enjoy.
So, let's recap...
Welcome Gifts under $5.00
Microwaveable Popcorn, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Banana Bread, Homemade Body Scrub, BBQ Sauce, Flavored Butter, and a Pineapple or Pineapple infused water. I'm telling you, check out those after season sales and you can get some great deals like the Pineapple Mason Jar Beverage Dispensers, that we found for $2.00 at Walmart.
For each butter combine all ingredients in a bowl and whip with electric hand mixer for 1 minute. Store in airtight jar in the frig for about 2 weeks or freeze for about 3 months.
Welcome Gifts Under $10.00
Tea and Cups Basket, Infused Olive Oil, Smitten Mitten, Soda-Lighted Ice Bucket, Natural Cleaning Products
Welcome Gifts Under $15
A Galvanized Water Can, Blueberry and strawberry infused water on farmhouse tray with blueberry muffins and stainless steel water bottles, Pasta gift in Colander, Candle, Mini Grinder Herb Basket.
Welcome Gifts under $20.00
Baking Basket in 8 cup mixing bowl, Local honey, soaps and market basket, Ice Cream Fixings and don't for the ice cream. Blue bell is my favorite.
Hope you were inspired to welcome a military family to your neighborhood. PCSing is not always easy and you might just brightened someone's day and blessed them. This is a great way to make a new friend too.
Thanks for stopping by.
I have always admired homes with lush green yards, beautifully manicured hedges with bright pops of color from flowers that had been neatly planted and carefully maintained. You know, the house, the one you picture as your FOREVER home looking like. But…then we moved on post.
After 10+ years of on-post living, where we always erroneously believed each duty assignment would be shorter than it is, a certain mentality has crept in. I began telling myself “people who live on-post don’t waste energy on gardening!” And when I would see my neighbors plant beautiful flowers by their doors I would think they were crazy for even trying! But I secretly wished I too would be “crazy” like them! I wanted my own beautiful flowers and I really wanted to grow my own vegetables! So, when we received orders to move to a new duty station I decided to change my mindset! I would be one of those “crazy neighbors” and no matter how long we were at the next duty station, I would make this our - however temporary - “forever home” and I would garden!
I had talked to a friend about this and as a going away gift she gave me seed packets for cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce as well as a variety of brightly colored flowers and told me she expected to see them planted and thriving once we got settled in our new home. I was so excited! I carried the packets around in my purse for a month (mainly because I was afraid I would lose them in the packing and unpacking process), but I loved seeing them in my purse and when the moving stress got a little much I would think of how fun it was going to be to have flowers and plants! I talked about it with my husband and children and everyone got really enthusiastic about it along with me!
After about a month in our new home things started feeling less chaotic and we all were anxious to get the seeds planted and the garden started so we made a trip to Target where we purchased a Burpee Seed Starting kit, a little watering can and a small bag of soil. We got home and started the kit by watering the “super growing pellets” and everyone “ooohed” and “ahhhhed” as they expanded into dirt! We planted the seeds and labeled our plots with what was planted. And then we waited…the anticipation killed us! When were they going to start growing? How long until we saw something? The kids were a little bummed because there were no blooms yet so we loaded up again this time heading to the closest Wal-Mart Garden Center and purchased 3 hanging flower pots, and 9 little pots of flowers, we got more soil, gloves and a little shovel too! We got them home and began to care for them as they had been pretty neglected in the gardening center and were thrilled over the next few days to have them perk right up and look so pretty! Every day I checked my little box of seeds and I am embarrassed to admit how excited I got when I saw little green leaves emerge! When my husband came home from work I would make him look at their progress and he would laugh at my enthusiasm!
I began to really love these little plants and looked forward to watering them everyday. I even started watching YouTube videos on how to better care for them. It was silly, but caring for these little plants was bringing me a lot of joy! There have even been studies to link gardening to mental health and one such study found that gardening leads to decreased cortisol levels and positive moods which can “promote relief from acute stress.” It was just the thing I needed after an exceptionally stressful PCS. Caring for my little plants on the front porch was even helping me meet new people. I sit outside with my son and as he plays I water and prune the little plants and passersby say hi, talk about how pretty the plants are and offer little bits of advice. It is so fun! We are all really enjoying it and this new place is feeling more like “HOME” than anywhere we’ve been before. Maybe gardening is what makes it so, putting in that little extra bit of care makes it feel like it could be Forever.
Spring is one of my favorite seasons. The weather is getting warmer. The flowers are starting to bloom and there is nothing quite like bringing fresh flowers into your home to add color and new life. This week our blog is a video series featuring Ashley, Lead Floral Designer of Christell's Flowers in Killeen, Texas. Ashley is incredibly creative and I enjoyed working with her to incorporate a military theme into the floral designs. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and sit back and enjoy. Thanks for watching. Remember to leave us your comments and feedback. We look forward to hearing from you.
Hello again friends! In my fourth, and FINAL, segment of our Clutter vs Collection series, I want to address how to declutter and organize those sentimental items that were yours as a child or that of your own children.
Why, oh why are we so attached to these items? Well, if you recall, in my first segment I shared with you my belief that as a Military family, often times, “our HOME is our STUFF”. I can think of only a few other items that I am more personally sentimental about so this makes perfect sense to me!
Plain and simple, our children’s clothing hold memories! Those baby clothes remind us of a special occasion, an event, a gift, or the gift giver, or just a fond memory of those sweet days when they were much younger. Letting go of those items can feel like you are letting go of that memory. But, you and I both know, that’s just not true right? So let’s get started!
If you are looking for a theme for a room it is easy to get caught up in the new trends and things you love like industrial, #farmhouse, nautical, nature, animal prints, gold, gold and more gold. The best things to keep in mind are to create a room that is inviting, comfortable and functional. This is a space that your family lives in and you should enjoy it every day. Plan according to your needs and budget. Here are the Elle Decor top decorating trends for 2017
Step 2: Color Me Fabulous
Sometimes it’s tough to think about color when we know orders could be arriving not long after we arrive at a new duty station. If you live in military quarters, check with the housing office. Often times they offer more than the “White Walls” option. Removable wall paper is great alternative to painting. I love NuWallpaper by WallPop. From solid colors or patterns, to brick or shiplap, creating an accent wall or two is as easy as peel and stick. Adding color and texture to a room makes a big impact at a low cost. Keep in mind larger rooms can carry deeper tones. Dark colors in a small room can make the room appear smaller.
Step 3: Pick a Focal Point
Whether it’s the fireplace in the room, the chest that you picked up during an OCONUS assignment, the perfectly broken in leather club chair or those curtains you fell in love with, pick one piece to develop your theme around. Keep in mind the pieces you already own and how you could freshen them up to work with your new idea. Slip covers on couches or chalking painting that end table you found at the flea market could be a great solutions to incorporating the old furniture with the new theme.
Step 4: Your Family, Your Design
Plan according to your family’s needs. We are a busy family. Between school, deployments, sports, friends and FRG meetings our home can be a high traffic area. We need a space that functions at times for 30 guests to just myself and the dog. And with a pet, I think about what is best for her too. Never choose a theme that comprises function and comfort. Everyone is different and what works for one family may not be right for another. I love having a great looking room, but not just for show. Even if our home is our home for a short time, great design works best when your bring the humanity of your family into it.
Remember, it doesn't matter where we live, because We're The Home!
All the best,
Combine the Unexpected with the Familiar, says Color Expert Lee Wiseman. 2017 Pantone® Home + Interiors palettes revealed at 2016 International Home + Housewares Show. Executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, Leatrice (Lee) Wiseman, says that Greenery is the new color for 2017. It's a refreshing and revitalizing shade, Greenery is symbolic of new beginnings. As a military family we have become accustomed to seeing that OD Green and variations of green in socks, uniforms, duffle bags, and foot lockers, so I was a bit hesitant to consider incorporating green in to our home decor. But pops of green, even using something as simple as a bowl of green apples, or adding a green demijohn bottle or two to your decor gives a space a feeling of renewed life.
I love looking for vintage military maps and working with them in my designs, along with repurposing military ammo boxes into coffee tables, or artillery shells into lamps. I will be sharing a post with you on how I converted a wooden rifle box into a coffee table in the future. The key to using those items in the design of a room is to use only a few pieces to create what I call a "military industrial" look. I then soften the by using other materials that contrast those elements.
Greenery Color Pairing
And it’s not because we don’t try either, because we do. For example, on one long ago, Valentine’s Day, while we were dating, I received THREE dozen red roses! Unfortunately, NONE of them were from HIM. So when he showed up at my door with a big smile and a bouquet of flowers, he was crushed and I was embarrassed (not to mention, BUSTED!) And once, after we married, his parents visited us during THAT weekend! We didn’t really have plans, but I wasn’t happy about the visit and when he admitted that he hadn’t planned anything special either, I was inconsolable! Although he did say, “I was going to do something on Monday, after they left.” He could’ve said anything and it wouldn't have mattered, because, MONDAY would NOT be VALENTINE’S DAY, the magic of THAT day would be gone. Ergo, he had failed and I wasn’t forgiving! Years later, I would just tell him not to worry about it and not do anything special and then be heartbroken when he did exactly what I told him to do...NOTHING.
It eventually became a running joke between us,”How bad can it possibly be THIS year? We’d laugh, “Yep, 15 year marriage ENDS in the parking lot of Denny’s!” Ha HA HA...uh, NOT.
Secretly, I wished, just ONCE, he would completely blow my mind with an undeniable testimony of his unfaltering love pour moi. Alas, it was just not meant to be. I believe we finally just gave up. We were officially “over it”.
That’s when I realized that the most amazing things had been happening all along! That Valentine weekend, his parents visited, is still one of our sweetest memories of all. We ended up camping out under the stars in the COLD Georgia mountains late that night. And the very first time we ever heard, our son, Jack’s, precious little heart beat, was on Valentine’s Day 2001! I can’t explain to you how I felt on the day the biggest airplane I had ever seen, FINALLY landed at Campbell Army Airfield, as I watched my hero emerge through those doors after being gone, for what seemed like a lifetime. But I can tell you what day it was...that's right, February 14th, 2004.
Crazy. I know. There weren’t any expensive dinners, nor fancy flowers, No golden boxes of fine chocolate that I so love.
Yet, there haven’t been many days, quite like..those. That I have ever loved or been loved, quite like... that.
( P.S. THIS year, I’m on my own (again); so, if you DO get one of those giant-red-heart-shaped boxes, gimme’ a call! ‘cause I’d LOVE to share it with you!)
So? Tell me! How did you do with our “40 BAGS in 40 DAYS”? I’ll go first. I only managed about “20 bags in 30 days"! But really, who’s counting right? The point is, as my husband likes to say, “CHARLIE MIKE!” (For our non-military followers, that means “Continue the Mission!”) It’s a marathon not a sprint, remember? YOU CAN DO IT! Just continue to chip away at the clutter and disorganization!
Obviously, my two-part series about clutter has expanded to a third, and maybe even a fourth, segment. I want to address the ONE THING that seems to stop all of us in our quest for decluttering. SENTIMENTAL ITEMS. We received many comments, messages and emails regarding “what to do with the STUFF we just cannot let go?”. Ok, listen up! Repeat after me: “Getting rid of sentimental stuff does not mean getting rid of those memories”. You CAN keep some of it but you have to learn to balance it against all your other items and that means lots of decluttering and getting rid of things that are literally weighing you down.
Maybe I’ve shared this before, but all 3 of us, in my family, are “keepers” but it only bothers one of us, ME! I have zero problem with anyone being a keeper. I sort of love that they care about things that represent a sentimental attachment. The problem occurs when it comes to moving and our HHG allowance!
Thus enter THIS guy:
He goes with not ONE thing in our home. However, he is the very thing that my son asked for of my mother’s when she passed away nearly 5 years ago. I remember asking him, “really? This of all things? This?” He replied “Yes. Absolutely. I don’t recall a single time that I visited Mammie’s house that she didn’t whisper to me “Be sure to check the cookie monster! I put a surprise in there for you.” How can I EVER throw that out? I simply cannot and someday I hope to continue that same tradition with my grandchildren.
How many of us have THAT thing or many of those things? I would guess ALL OF US, right? I believe it really is alright to hang on to a few items that represent sentimental value. However, there are ways to combat the clutter and accommodate the extra HHG weight to allow you to do so. Here are a few tips to aide you in this part of the process:
1- Take a picture of the item. Maybe the item really is just too big to continue to carry around with you. You can keep that memory by having the picture and not having to lug the item from duty station to duty station.
2- Upcycle it! USE IT. Find a way to utilize the item in your everyday life. Be creative! Make it a practical and effective piece of your HHGs while you share in the memory attached to it all of the time.
3- Save ONE item of it. This is particularly important when it comes to clothing, books, toys and collections of items. The memory is just the same with one item as it is with many.
4- Showcase the item. Most craft and hobby stores have an abundant variety of ways to showcase the item. Shadowboxes, unique large frames, and similar type pieces will allow you to keep the sentimental item in a different way.
Next month I plan to talk about “Getting Rid of Kids’ Things”. That can really be tough when you or they are keepers! But I have a few quick tips to assist you in that too!
Until then, thank you again for stopping by and continuing to follow our journey with MovingwiththeMilitary!
While most active and inactive Military realize they can purchase one home with 100% VA financing; many do not realize they can purchase an additional home with 100% VA financing using their additional entitlement. For example, if the VA loan limit is $424,100 for a specific area. And the Veteran has already used their Basic Entitlement to purchase a $219,622 home. A Certificate of Eligibility is received back that states the Basic Entitlement is now $0* and the Entitlement charged is $54,905. But in small print in the middle of the Certificate of Eligibility it reads, "Additional Entitlement is available on most loans in excess of $144,000. In such cases the Entitlement amount is 25% of the loan limit for the county where the property is located". So to calculate the maximum amount the Veteran can receive 100% financing for you use the following calculation: $424,100/4 = $106,025. $106,025 - $36,000 (the current Entitlement used) = $70,025 x 4 = $280,100 maximum loan amount including any VA Funding Fees. So in this example the Veteran may qualify for up to $280,000 for the purchase of a new home. Now it's important to remember that the Veteran must still be qualified for the new loan in regards to credit; ratios; and housing allowances. And they must occupy the new property as their primary residence. (Perhaps they are going to rent the home that currently has the VA mortgage attached to it). And they must buy a minimum $144,000 home. But it is possible to get 100% VA mortgage financing for a new home while still having a VA loan on another property the Veteran owns. Something a whole lot of the Military (and even a lot of Lenders) are unaware of.
Mortgage loan for Military Families