Thursday, October 30, 2014

Are Our Kids TOO Obsessed With Technology?

I suppose since I don't actually have kids of my own, the title of this post should read "Are YOUR kids too obsessed..." But that sounded kind of judgy; the "our" is much less so, don't you think? The other day, while procrastinating on Facebook (I typically do this early in the mornings during the snooze period on my alarm) I came across an article about Steve Jobs and how he didn't let his kids have iPads. Said that since he was around technology every day, he understood the potential damage it people and therefore tried to limit its use in his home. Interesting, no?


I asked my husband about it and he agreed. He's always talking about how he's going to force our kids (once we have them) to go outside and play and try to discourage them from sitting in front of the television all day. At first, I disagreed. When I was younger, we weren't "forced" to get out of the house and get fresh air. We went out to play because we wanted to, but there WERE days (especially dealing with that Georgia heat when we were stationed here in the late 90s) of which we spent the entirety sitting in the house and (you guessed it) watching t.v. And we turned out fine! I'm a successful real estate agent, my sister is currently in graduate school pursuing a Master's degree in Fine Arts, and my younger brother is finishing up his first semester of college.

But then I got to thinking. First of all, my kids will have access to much more sophisticated technology than we did we were younger. Today, kids have iPads and Kindles, as well as the various social networks, some of which I'd never even heard of before doing a bit of research. When I was a kid, I had the VCR and those little Gigapets that you had to feed and clean, etc. (I included the link in case anyone under the age of about 21 is reading this).

Fast forward to now, and I've got more technology than I know what to do with. A desktop computer, a laptop computer, the iPad, my phone and iPod (which I refuse to get rid of); the list goes on and on. And I've noticed lately that I've developed the shortest attention span ever. Even as I'm typing this blog post, I've sent out several text messages, paused to read yet another article on Facebook, and looked at a video my sister sent me earlier today. And trying to watch a t.v. show? Oh, forget it. I find it increasingly difficult to sit still for 60 minutes and JUST watch television. I'm either on Facebook, working on this blog, Pinning stuff for the house, etc. I literally have a hard time sitting through movies. MOVIES! How sad is that?

And do I want my kids to be like that? To lack the ability to fully enjoy something (whether it's a movie or just dinner with friends) without the aide of technology? Can't say that I do. But what's the answer? I wouldn't want to deprive my kids (or myself for that matter) either. There are some wonderful things about technology. Information is so much more accessible now (I remember painstakingly researching duck-billed platypuses on one of those Encarta computer programs, today, you could google the term and immediately come up with a plethora of relevant articles and images) and many schools are now employing iPads to assist with education. So it's not all bad. But where do we draw the line?

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Florence Review

So, a few weekends ago, the hubby and I dined here with my parents and some friends from work to celebrate my parents' 28th wedding anniversary. Located on Victory, this place is fairly new (they opened up earlier this Summer) and named after the city in Italy AND Florence Martus, also known as the Waving Girl (look her up, she was kind of awesome).



The Florence features an attached coffee shop, but as we were there strictly for dinner, I'll talk about that. First off, the reservation process was relatively easy and very professional. I was a little disappointed at first that they aren't on Open Table (my FAVORITE reservations app, no muss no fuss) but you can send an email with all the pertinent information to request your table. We ended up with 5:30, which I was happy for as it was pretty last minute. And they called the day of our reservation to confirm which was a nice touch.

So the food! Amazing. For appetizers, we ordered the Bruschetta Grande to split. Four different pieces, one of which features smoke trout and caviar. For those that have never had caviar before, I can tell you it's not half bad. More texture than flavor but it paired nicely with the trout. For dinner, I had the Woodfire Sirloin while the hubby ordered the Cider Glazed Pork Ribs. The ribs were sweet while the sirloin was cooked to perfection (I requested medium, NO steak sauce required!) My dad ordered the Fishermen's Stew which actually features octopus tentacle for the adventurous diner.

Dessert was good though not extremely sweet (a plus for most people, but I AM  sweet-aholic afterall). I had an apple pastry while the hubby ordered the olive oil pound cake.

The Florence was actually adapted from an old ice factory. They preserved much of the original architecture which results in a industrial chic vibe (you know, exposed wood beam ceilings, track lighting throughout, the whole nine).

All in all, our experience with The Florence was delightful. The food was good. Easy access location (helpful hint: Turn on Barnard just before you get to the restaurant for quick access to the free parking garage behind the building) and amazing service from the reservations staff and our waitress, Kailey. We'll be back for sure!






Sunday, October 26, 2014

Homemade Apple Cake!

Okay, so a few posts before, I told you guys about the enormous box of gala apples we got from Bountiful Baskets. Believe it or not, they're still taking up space in my fridge (they actually keep pretty well as long as they stay cold!), so a few days ago, I decided to do something about that. I found this recipe on Pinterest, made a few adjustments and voilá! Homemade fresh apple cake!

 

We weren't really doing anything that night, so the hubby participated. Chopped apples, pulled all my ingredients, etc. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy baking/ cooking with him; we'll have to do it more often.

Helpful hint: It took about 4 apples to get 3 cups. The hubby chopped small-medium pieces




So we followed the recipe pretty closely minus a few changes. No pecans; I have this really weird thing about mixing textures, I don't usually like crunch and soft in the same dessert dish (I'm a strange cookie, I know it). Also, we only let the cake cool for about 20-30 minutes versus the two hours that the recipe requires. Mostly because we had run out of patience! This resulted in the icing kind of soaking into the top layer of the cake which was AMAZING. So, if you want your icing to actually sit on top of the cake, I'd say let it cool fully. But it's preference NOT necessity.


One change we did consider making was using just plain old milk instead of evaporated milk. I found some interesting articles online about how to evaporate your own milk, but in the end, the hubby watched the cake while I ran to IGA and grabbed a few cans of Carnation. (If you have experience evaporating your own milk, PLEASE share below in the comments, I'm interested to hear about it!)





The recipe also calls for a 9'13 inch pan. I don't know about you, but I NEVER follow this part of a recipe. I typically just grab whatever I've got in the pantry and go with that. The mixture was so thick, we ended up with two separate cakes, the second of which I took to work the next day. It was a hit and devoured within about an hour!


What's your favorite Fall dessert recipe? Tell me below!


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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Does Anyone Else Revert to Weird Single-Person Behavior When Their Spouse Has 24hr Duty?

No? Just me? Oh all right then! So last week, the hubby had 24hr duty. You know the drill, they're gone all day and night, and then have the next day off which they usually spend asleep (or at least mine does. The first time I tried to get him to actually do something on his day off, he looked at me like I was requesting that he try and grow an extra head).

So anyway, I noticed last week that without fail, when the hubby is away, I somehow forget to... wife.  I spent the entire day in my PJs. I mean, I worked and made phone calls, don't get me wrong (the good thing about my job is it can be done from home). Then I spent the entire evening on the phone with the bestie watching crappy television and eating even crappier food. Just like back in college. Seriously, I was supposed to grab bell peppers and milk from the store for homemade pizza for dinner and cereal the next morning. Didn't happen. (My dinner consisted of water and leftover carrot cake from the Cheesecake Factory the weekend before). For some reason, I had NO energy,


I guess it happens to the best of us. Some days, you just don't feel like getting anything done. I feel like that's okay as long as those days are few and far between. The next day was business as usual: a meeting at work, running errands (STILL had to grab the milk and freakin bell peppers), etc. But I did notice that I felt refreshed and well-rested after my day of  laziness. I can only attribute that to the fact that, besides work, my entire day revolved around ME and what I wanted to do. One the biggest adjustments I've made (and to be fair, the hubby has made as well) since getting married earlier this year is acknowledging how the bulk of our decisions affects the other party. That day, there was no one to be affected accept the animals and THEY certainly weren't complaining. I think that, sometimes, it's just nice to have a ME day. I definitely wouldn't say I'm looking forward to the next 24hr duty, but I at least know what I'll be eating and watching. Captain Crunch Peanut Butter cereal and an Orange and Is The New Black marathon.

What are your favorite ways to wind down while your spouse is away? Tell me below!

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Key to Throwing an Unforgettable Bachelor/ Bachelorette Bash

Now, admittedly, this post doesn't really have anything to do with Fort Stewart or Hinesville specifically, nor is it an army spouse topic. HOWEVER, I remember searching online for hours trying to find ideas for a joint party and the pickings were slim. So I thought putting my own experience out there might help a few souls trying to plan the same thing this very minute. You're welcome.


Okay so, first, the case for having a joint bachelor/bachelorette party in the first place. When I got married earlier this year, we tried to talk to my husband into doing a joint deal, but he was dead set against it. Said he didn't want to spend the entire evening with "a bunch of women". Okay fair enough. But we ended up spending money on TWO separate parties, which to me, was less than smart. I was in charge of throwing my sister's party this past summer, and I must say, the best thing about doing a joint venture is the cost. One venue, one event to cater, buy alcohol, and decorations for; you get the idea. A joint party (or Jack-and-Jill, as I've heard it referred to as) is definitely the economical option if you're looking to save a few coins. We also decided against the rehearsal dinner (too many scheduling conflicts) so this was another way to feed everyone the night before the wedding. 


Theme bachelor and bachelorette party
So once we got my sister's fiancé on board with the idea, I had to figure out a theme. As stated before, online searches offered little to no assistance (though I did find out that you can order a Fantasy Show for around 300 bucks an hour). I tried googling them separately but kept running into the same issue: bachelor party ideas were catered specifically to the men and ran the risk of alienating the female guests and vice versa. 


It was the hubby who finally came up with the idea to throw a Mardi Gras themed party. Now, finding Mardi Gras decorations at the beginning of August was not as hard as you'd think. Party City had some beautiful masks that we picked out for the bride and groom. And everything else, we ordered online. I basically googled Mardi Gras decorations and went with what came up. We kept it a secret from the bride and groom but texted the wedding party in the days leading up to the event and told them to dress appropriately (masks, beads, that sort of thing). 

Venue for joint bachelor and bachelorette party
As for the activities, I chose a few bachelorette games and switched them up a bit to include the groom. For example, we asked trivia questions throughout the night, some of them were about the bride, some were about the groom. And speaking of the bride and groom, every time anyone said either of those words, we made ours embarrass themselves (the bride was required to sing a show tune and the groom was required to dance). I also tied balloons to random chairs throughout the room; the guests were unaware until I made the announcement, but anyone sitting on a balloon chair was required to do a shot.

We also bought these awesome, huge, weighted poster boards (kind of like the kind you use for school projects, a little thicker) and circulated them throughout the night asking the guests to write their best pieces of advice. My favorite piece came from my little cousin who simply wrote, "You break her heart, I break you". 
Activities and games for joint bachelor and bachelorette party



drinking games for jack and jill parties
The venue is all up to you. Everyone was staying at the La Quinta Inn so we rented their event room (we also rented it for a few hours the next morning so everyone could have breakfast together). We didn't get a discount on the event room for booking so many guest rooms, but it never hurts to ask! 

Mardi gras decorations for joint bachelor and bachelorette party
I would say the party was a smashing success (no Fantasy Show required!). It may take a little extra digging and creativity, but the key is to come up with an amazing theme and work around that. The theme opens your options up a bit more because you no longer have to do the traditional decorations or activities. You can be a little different and still give your bride and groom the night of their lives. Speaking of which; finally, I leave you with my last idea: a drink that the hubby came up with at the party that caught on like wildfire:

The Chata-Chata-Bang-Bang
1 part RumChata
2 equal parts Malibu Rum and Orange-Pineapple Juice (you can substitute the rum for a coconut or pineapple vodka if you'd like more of a kick)
Splash of Sprite (or any other lemon-lime soda you have handy)

It'll be a but if a funny color, but I promise, it's absolutely amazing.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Homes for Heroes Meets Hounds 4 Heroes!

So, Thursday of last week, we had a treat at the office. Eight adorable German Shepherd puppies to play with! We also met some amazing women, Kimberly Terell and Dauvida Lykins of Hounds 4 Heroes.


homes for heroes fort stewart
 
Hounds 4 Heroes is a non-profit organization based here in Hinesville that donates service dogs to veterans and soldiers suffering from PTSD, those with diabetes, kids and adults with autism, etc. Kimberley, who has a degree in Animal Psychology, started the organization when she researched a service dog for her son. The wait list was seven years (yep, you read that right, seven years!) and the total cost around 20k. Kimberley decided to take on the massive project of adopting and purchasing puppies to train herself as service animals for those in need. Never wanting cost to come between a dog and a person in need, Kimberly vowed to never charge a client for their animal.

discounts for miliary buyers

An admirable and generous goal, but this means everything for these adorable and well-trained animals comes out of Kimberley's pockets. So, our team is sponsoring a litter! (we're calling them Lisa's Litter after my team-leader). Each dog already has someone in need waiting for them, so we'll get to sit in on a few training sessions as well as meet some of the new owners.

hounds 4 heroes program hinesville

The training process for the dogs is extensive. They begin their conditioning from day one (for example, Kimberley trains her dogs to sniff out high and low blood sugar, useful for diabetics). They're placed with their new families early as well; Kim tells us dogs can pick up negative habits from their litter that can interfere with their training. Just a few of the amazing ways the dogs help their humans:

**They can wake someone having a nightmare. If the person is a thrasher, the dog will climb on top of them and lick their face to wake them up.

**Typically, those suffering from PTSD don't like for anyone to walk up on them and surprise them; Kim's service dogs will heel the opposite way (on the right instead of the left and facing the approaching person instead of forward) in order to alert their human that someone's coming.

homes for heroes fort stewart
 
On November 15th, we're having a super fun, all-ages event at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center on 84, the Homes for Heroes Kickoff to Benefit Hounds 4 Heroes. Free food and face painting, a bouncy house for the kids, and we'll also be giving away one super cool item (HINT: it's definitely worth the purchase of the raffle ticket!) RSVP quickly, you DON'T want to miss this!

service animals near hinesville and fort stewart



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Saturday, October 18, 2014

So Your Soldier Gets a New Duty Station/ Should You Stay or Should You Go?

A few months ago, the hubby and I were discussing our tentative plans in case he has to PCS next year (we know we're here until next Summer for sure, but everything after that is up in the air). We were trying to figure out what to do about my job in case we move (I can sell real estate anywhere, but licensing depends on the reciprocity agreements that Georgia has with each specific state). And he said something that surprised me a little bit. Basically, he'd be okay with it if I decided to stay here and work on my career while he moved to next the duty station.

The look on my face must have said it all because he hastily added, "I mean, if that's what you wanted, I would support you". I guess I've never even considered the option. When my siblings and I were younger, we (and my Mom) followed my dad from duty station to duty station. My mom had a degree and she just figured her jobs out when we arrived at each new area. In Germany, she taught computer classes and worked as a DOD contractor. Before my sister was even born, in Texas, she sold insurance. And when we moved back here in 2005, she got into real estate and eventually decided to get her salesperson's license. So moving around with your soldier from station seems normal to me; it's never occurred to me that we should separate.


Discussing it further, the hubby told me he wanted to support my career and not have our marriage be all about the military which was sweet and appreciated. But I knew what I was getting myself into before we got married. The truth is, sometimes being married to a soldier is ALL ABOUT THE SOLDIER. They have to leave for the field or even to deploy at the drop of hat or they get stuck with flag duty for three months and you can't make any vacation plans. Or you have to move around a lot. We're hoping to apply for stabilization but even that's not a guarantee. For me, if we have to pick up and leave, that's just it: WE have to pick up and leave. And I'm okay with that. Doesn't mean my career is any less important or that I won't miss being so close to my family. But that's how it is.

I suppose if we were stationed somewhere else and he ended up deploying for a year, I'd probably move back here to be closer to family. When I was working retail a few years back, I met a girl who ended up doing just that. She didn't have any ties here, so when her husband went to Iraq for 10 months, she moved right back home. But I've also met ladies (some who were just starting out in their marriages)who are here because their husbands got stationed somewhere they just didn't want to be. No judgment, I promise. It just couldn't be me. I would worry about the strain it would put on our relationship being away from each other for such a prolonged amount of time. Not to mention the wallets. Who's going to pay for all those trips back and forth? To be fair, sometimes, like in the case of deployment or when your spouse has to go to NTC or something, it's unavoidable. But when you can avoid it? To me, it's important to get that face time in a marriage. What do you think? Would you consider letting your spouse go to their next duty station alone?

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Adopting a Dog or Cat Near Hinesville? READ THIS FIRST!

So I'll start off by saying this post is by no means meant to discourage anyone from adopting an animal. Nor do I intend to come off as preachy or judgmental. But everyday, I see new posts on Craigslist or on Facebook groups where people are giving away recently adopted animals for various reasons; they don't get along with their other animals, they can't afford the cost, they're moving soon, etc. And it's sad really. The dog grows attached to the family; if there are kids involved, they grow attached, and then it's all ruined because someone didn't think their decision through. So I've compiled a few tips to keep in mind in case you're considering adopting here in the Hinesville/ Ft. Stewart area (or anywhere, for that matter).


Consider the Cost
I've got two spoiled dogs and two equally spoiled cats. The hubby and I would LOVE to add a third dog to the family, especially one of the sad souls I see on the Facebook groups. But the main thing that stops us is cost. When considering adding a pet to the family, one has to consider the added cost of things like shots (for puppies, some of these initial shots require boosters within 2-3 weeks) and spaying or neutering. Not to mention grooming, as well as supplies like toys, crate, leash, and food. Taking care of your pet doesn't have to be expensive. There are low-cost neuter/ spay programs and you can save money on grooming by bathing your pet yourself. As for vet costs, definitely call around and get estimates. We take ours to Liberty Veterinary Clinic on Oglethorpe next to Kobe. All the ladies are really sweet and the prices are reasonable.

Establish a Plan in Case You Move
The number one reason I've seen for getting rid of a pet is relocating. I understand about PCSing; sometimes you get orders at the drop of a hat. But it helps to prepare yourself and your family in advance in case you have to relocate. Consider the added cost of finding hotels and/ or rental homes that allow pets. If that's not a cost you're prepared to eat, perhaps now is not the best time to adopt especially if you're coming up on the end of a tour or your spouse's unit is in flux and could receive orders any day.

Give The New Animal Time to Get to Know Your Current Pet (and vice versa)
If you already have pets like I do, another point to consider is how well the new pet will get a long with your original animal. I see this reason on Craigslist and the boards all the time and it's so sad, because there's tons of FREE information out there about helping new and old pets get along. The biggest thing to realize and accept is that this process will take time and will most likely not be completely drama-free. I've had my cat, Smokey since I was a junior in high school. My third year in college, my sister and I adopted my second cat, Sookie. It took about a month or so for the two cats to grow comfortable around each other (Sookie was comfortable almost immediately, but Smokey needed some time). I followed the tips online, put in the effort, and today, they groom each other and sometimes snuggle together.

Seriously Consider the Time and Effort Required (ESPECIALLY if you're considering a puppy)
Speaking of effort, please be sure to consider the time and effort that a new animal is going to require. For example, even dogs that are advertised as potty-trained may need a few refreshers in a new environment. Basically, all of the tips above are going to require time, effort, and patience. If this seems daunting or you've already got a lot going on, adopting a pet may not be the best option.


BONUS TIP: Adopting vs Purchasing
Okay, so just my opinion, but I am FIRMLY against purchasing from pet stores. It's been said before, but it bears repeating; most pet shop animals come from puppy mills or similarly unscrupulous avenues and, when you purchase from a pet shop, you're supporting that. If you MUST purchase, check out these tips to help keep the process as positive and responsible as possible.



Would you like to share your own tips to consider before adopting a dog or cat? Tell me below!

Who the heck is this check?

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Attention Stylish Soldiers and Spouses! I Want YOU!

I'm working on a Style section for this blog and I'd love to feature YOU! If you're interested, send an email to britney.hsrealtor@gmail.com with a picture of you in your most stylish duds and the answers to the following questions:

First Name
Age
Favorite piece of style advice
Favorite feature (physical or otherwise)

You can also Tweet (@Live_Love_24)  or Instagram (LiveLoveArmy24) me your photos!

This is NOT limited to Fort Stewart soldiers and spouses so if you know someone living on another base or if you yourself are stationed somewhere else feel free to share. Hope to hear from you!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

I Did It! Grilled Eggplant!

So a couple of posts ago, I mentioned my plans to try grilling the eggplant. Well, a few nights ago, I succeeded in making some pretty delicious eggplant. You'll have to excuse smugness of this post, I'm way too proud of myself over here.


So I've never prepared eggplant before in my life. Sometimes, it'll end up in the mixed veggies side I order at restaurants but that's been my sole experience with the vegetable. So, I began with a video (which I've inserted below) on the different methods for slicing an eggplant.



Once that was figured out, I had to decide what to season it with. Believe me, I'm moving away from the dreaded season-all (it's a constant struggle) but the hubby and I can't stand bland food, so I had to add a little something. I kind of pieced together a couple different recipes (courtesy of Google and the Food Network.). I ended up with olive oil, rosemary, oregano, parsley, a pinch of salt, and pepper. The recipe requires a little brush to apply the olive oil (I really need to get one of those). Instead, I tossed everything in one of those gallon freezer bags, and shook until each slice of eggplant was thoroughly covered with the mixture. The hubby threw the slices on the grill with some fish (we had some frozen that my uncle had given us from a fishing trip this summer), I added some Jasmine Rice and we ended up with a pretty nice meal. How's that for not letting your Bountiful Basket go bad?




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Friday, October 10, 2014

Oktoberfest Vendors Event Tomorrow!

Doing anything this weekend? Now you are! First up, we've got the Oktoberfest Vendors Event tomorrow from 10am-3pm. Free admission to the event, though some specific activities may require a fee. Over 70 local business are expected to be in attendance as well as Elsa and Anna (if you're a mom, you DEFINITELY know who those ladies are).

Located in Bryant Commons Park. The Homes for Heroes affiliates will be there (we're giving away a Visa gift card!)



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******************************UPDATE PICS!************************************



Making Promotional Points (Or, as I Like to Call It, Leveling Up)

So, if you're reading this post hoping for answers on how achieve the coveted "P status", you're out of luck. I know very little in that department. I've discussed the process with the hubby briefly, but, every time I bring it up, I get the vibe that he would rather do it on his own. You know, get the points, get the promotion and then basically tell me where to show up.


Here's what I do know. Those slightly irritating things they have to do that always seem to come up last minute and ruin your plans? (WLC: they're basically ghosts for four weeks. Or going to the range). They're for a good cause. So maybe give your soldier a break the next time he or she squashes your plans for a Disney World weekend (like mine did). These programs earn your soldier a decent amount of points if they excel. Apparently, they get points for passing their PT tests as well, which is why I suppose I should kick mine in the butt every time he reaches for an extra donut. The biggest (and easiest, from what I hear) way to earn points is to take classes on the JKO website. The classes are super easy. For example, there's literally a class on Windows 8 (that should probably be some sort of requirement for everyone, military or not. Windows 8 is the devil).

I tried to help the hubby out by setting reminders on my phone for "study time", helping him figure out the point cycle (apparently they announce points towards the end of the month but there's a cutoff date before that for when the points have to be in the system). But, to be honest, he seems to do best when left to his own devices. He works on the JKO classes at work during his free time and he did WLC already. Sat for the board too (I swear, I was a nervous wreck the whole day). So now, I kind of just let him do his thing. I'm a bit of a control freak so this is not an easy thing to do.

Feverishly working with the hubby (or wife) to make points? My biggest piece of advice is to try to relax and not let the point system drive you nuts, because, believe me, it can. Even if he's studying for the most important board ever or working on WLC homework, try to still make time for things that take both of your minds completely off the process. At least that's what I'm saying now. Ask me again once points come out.

Is your soldier working on making points? I'd love to know how it's going!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Healthy Options Right Here in Hinesville!

So let me start out by saying, yes, there is a Whole Foods in Savannah and yes, it is amazing. Organic veggies and fruits, a well stocked bakery, and these awesome cheddar stuffed burgers that the hubby and I are addicted to. HOWEVER, you don't have to drive all the way to Savannah to find healthy and interesting things to eat. Besides the usual suspects (Walmart, Kroger, Food Lion, the Commissary, blah blah blah) there's the Farmers Market that meets downtown every Thursday and the Bountiful Baskets program with new baskets available every other Saturday.


Note, the Farmers Market is available every year from March to October so if you're reading this outside of that timeline, you'll have to wait a while. I've heard great things about the market (one of the girls that works the front desk in my office raves about it) but I've never gotten the chance to go. Somehow every Thursday, I'm either showing, still at the office, or otherwise engaged.

I have, however, had tons of experience with Bountiful Baskets. You sign up online for free, and every other week (Hinesville is A week and there are two pick-up locations) you choose and pick up your basket and add-ons. And there are seriously a ton of options. Juicy strawberries, peaches, apples, fresh soft bread, these awesome juice packs that would impress even the most discerning juicer. And all for way less per lb than you'd pay at the grocery store (they even have organic options). One of my favorites is the whole grain bread but then again, I am a carbaholic so I'm probably a little biased.

I went two Saturdays ago (pics below) and found out that they'd since opened a Richmond Hill location. So if you're stationed at Fort Stewart but live in Richmond Hill and want to take advantage, you're in luck. Those still going to the VA Medical Center location, make sure to get there right on time; they've been getting a smaller amount of baskets because of the new location so they tend to break down less quickly. There wasn't even a line when I went.

So what to do with all that produce, you ask? A lot of times, I go in with my mom or grandma on a basket and add-ons just because there's so much of everything. For example, the last time I went, I got 28lbs of gala apples. One of the volunteers wanted to know what I was going to do with all those apples. I have NO IDEA. I do juice what I can (you'd be surprised at what makes a good smoothie or morning juice). And I'm using those tomatoes and peppers for pizza toppings and homemade salsa. Planning on grilling the eggplant later this week with some grilled salmon. Luckily, the hubby is addicted to his new grill and will throw just about anything on it. A friend that works at my office cans a lot of her produce. Every once in a while, she'll bring us these awesome preserves to spread on the bread. It's heaven, I promise.

Basically, the Bountiful Baskets program allows the hubby and I to eat healthy and try recipes and foods we wouldn't have normally eat. For example, one weekend, we got persimmons. They were soft, sweet, and awesome in juice. So check them out. And if you end up with too much, you know were to find me. Just saying.


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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How Was Your Weekend?

Mine was pretty busy. This Saturday, we drove to Charlotte for my sister-in-law's birthday. We had Cheesecake Factory for an early dinner (if you love burgers, might I suggest the Smokehouse BBQ Burger with added feta cheese; it was amazing) and then did the SCarowinds Halloween Haunt and the Epicenter later that evening.

Some things you need to know about SCarowinds in case you're planning to go this month (either by yourself or with kids):


Leave Early!
The event starts at 7pm and is over at 12am. We left right at 7 thinking we might dodge traffic; boy, were we wrong. It took about 45 minutes to get to the park and probably another 15-20 to actually find a parking space. By the time we got in, we had a little less than 4 hours for rides and attractions.

Bundle Up!
I posted on my Facebook earlier about laughing at all the teenagers in short-shorts and no jackets. Seriously, though, it was pretty freakin cold. Started at about 53 degrees when we arrived; by the end of the night, the temperature had dropped to about 42. And when you're hurtling through the air on those awesome rollercoasters, the wind-chill makes it even worse. I ended up purchasing gloves (my hubby laughed at me and told me I was probably the only person wearing gloves that in Charlotte that night; at least I was WARM!).

Budget Your Time!
Though there were less people than I imagine there'd be in the daytime during peak season, we still spent a lot of time in line for rides. And most of the lines for the haunted houses and mazes were so long we didn't even bother. I might suggest purchasing a Fast Lane pass ONLY if everyone in your party plans to ride most of the rides. My brother-in-law was only interested in specific rollercoasters and we all wanted to hang together, so the fifty or so dollars wouldn't have made sense to spend if were weren't going to make the most of it. But if you're a thrill seeker and you have the cash, the passes certainly allow you to spend most of your time riding rides instead of waiting in line.

They LITERALLY Jump Out At You!
If you are bringing your kids, keep this in mind. There a folks dressed up as trees that jump at you when you get right on them. People on Heelys that skate into crowds hissing and screaming at everyone. We enjoyed the atmosphere but it's definitely not for young ones that don't yet realize it's all in fun and not real. Folks with younger kids may want to consider the Great Pumpkin Fest, a much milder and more age-appropriate Halloween event.

DO Ride the Intimidator
Surprisingly not the longest line we stood in but it would have been worth it even if it had been. It's apparently the tallest, fastest, longest ride in the Southeast with the highest drop plummeting you back to Earth at a 74 degree angle. This, in my opinion, makes it the best ride in the entire park. The sister-in-law and I screamed for our lives and had a blast.

We stayed at the Clarion Hotel Conference Center which I've posted a review of in case you're interested. And the Epicenter was pretty cool, though I may have enjoyed it more in warmer weather (as you can tell, I'm NOT a cold weather kinda gal). The hubby and I are planning on visiting for New Years next year; apparently the Hornets will be playing the Cavaliers (all I know is we'll get away for a few days and I'll be sure to download a few magazines on my iPad).






So what did you do this weekend? Tell me below!

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Clarion Conference Center (Charlotte) Review

So I'll start with the positive. The location was GREAT. Centrally located between the Epicentre (tons of clubs, good restaurants) and the Carowinds theme park. Also about 10 minutes down the road from the Southpark Mall. So if you're looking for a lower-priced hotel that's pretty close to everything, this is it. Are there hotels closer to Carowinds? Yes; in fact, the hubby and I initially had a reservation at the Clarion right down the street, but we changed it so we could all stay in the same hotel.

The lady at the front desk was nice and super helpful as well. We arrived for check-in about 2 and 1/2 hours early and she allowed us access to our rooms AS SOON as they were cleaned about 30 minutes later. The hotel is actually attached to a Ramada Inn; they share an eating area for breakfast. We opted for IHOP the next morning (also very close) so I can't comment on that.

Our actual room was not too bad. First floor, looked out into the breakfast area, so we kept the drapes closed. The bathroom was miniscule; (there's really no other way to put it) there was literally about 3 inches of space between the toilet and the door when it was open. The towels were thin and small BUT clean and stark white which I, for one, always appreciate. Though the bathroom was tiny, the actual room itself was spacious with plenty of room to move around comfortably despite the king-sized bed, two night stands, a desk with computer chair, and arm chair.  The bed was soft and there was a good mix of both soft and firm pillows. And there was a refrigerator!

So all in all, it was a pretty nice stay. I think when the hubby and I come back for New Years, we'll probably stay closer to the Epicentre but that's only because the Hornets game will be the main reason for our trip. If you're looking for something centrally located, the Clarion is definitely an option to consider.

Monday, October 6, 2014

PCSing to Fort Stewart-- Buying vs. Renting

Okay so I know I'm biased. I am, after all, a real estate agent. As such, I think everyone who is able should experience the joys of homeownership. The hubby and I bought our first home out in Ludowici in April and I just think it's a positive step forward in one's life, that, given the chance, one should take. So if you're moving to Fort Stewart and you're dead set on renting or living on Fort Stewart, feel free to click away because you'll probably find this post a little boring. I can't comment on either; my experience living on Ft. Stewart is literally about 15- 20 years old (that's when I was stationed here with my dad) and I've only rented from mom (who actually makes pretty good landlord!) But...

If you're considering owning your own home, read away! The market down here is awesome.  With new construction near Fort Stewart starting in the 120s and existing homes running as low as 50k, there is definitely something to suit everyone, from the retiree looking to settle into their forever home to the just-married couple who wants something small to start out.


And Hinesville is an awesome place to live! We're centrally located within two hours of beaches on all sides (Jacksonville, Hilton Head, Tybee Island, etc.) and we're an hour or less away from Savannah (home to awesome restaurants and some of the coolest sightseeing around). Most people moving to the area don't immediately realize that Fort Stewart BAH rates are a tad higher than other bases. Couple that with the current awesome interest rates and our Homes For Heroes rebate/ discount program and you really can own a home for waaay less than renting.

As an army wife, I get it: Fort Stewart is most likely not going to be your forever home and you'll probably be out of here within 3-5 years. But you can always sell when it's time to PCS or rent the home out (trust me, it's a much easier and more lucrative process than people think). So at least consider the possibilities of owning your own home. And if you decide you want to check out a few homes, you know who to call(;



Where to eat (love this place!)

Discounts for Military Buyers

Where to shop

Who the heck is this chick?

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Want more information on the purchase process? Tell me below in the comments or send me a message!



Hated this post? Let me know that as well, always looking for suggestions to improve

Saturday, October 4, 2014

It's Pumpkin Season!! Pumpkin Farms Near Hinesville

So a couple of girls in one of the Facebook groups I'm a member of were asking about pumpkin picking near Fort Stewart. Personally, I've never been before but, since moving into the new home and becoming more interested in decorating etc, I've been considering adding some nice Fall touches. Since I was curious as well, I decided to do some research. Check it out:

So the most popular one that I kept seeing was Poppell Farms  which is about an hour away in Odum. They're open the entire season starting on October 4th (ha, that's today!). They've got a corn maze, hayride, and of course a pumpkin patch. Also tons of other "farm activities" like cow train rides and steer roping. Apparently Paula Deen and her family will be making an appearance tomorrow (if you're into that sort of thing). Ticket prices start at $8 a pop and they're open on the weekends until 5pm. They also have Christmas Trees!!! A little early to consider but still important to note if you're like me and loove that fresh Christmas tree scent.

 
Thanks, Heather Pasley, for the use of the video!

The other farm I'd like to check out, Madrac Farms, is open to the public throughout the week until 4pm Monday through Thursday and 5pm on the weekends. Their ticket prices start at $7 but they offer a military discount with valid ID. They've got similar activities to Poppell Farms with the addition of a big bounce house and farm animals including a pot-belly pig named Hazel. If you're into human interest, there's also a cute story on their website about how the name comes from their two daughters, Madelyn and Rachel. This one's located in Rincon, also about an hour away from Hinesville. 

So I'm probably going to end up visiting both of these though I feel like I should probably borrow someone's kids for the day so the hubby and I aren't wondering around aimlessly. Any takers?

Maybe I'll try something like this 

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What to do
 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Run a 5k, They Said. It'll Be Fun, They Said

Number one: that it's hard! Kidding! Kind of. So this afternoon was Day 1 of my training for the 5k. I found a four week training program that advised running for 10 minutes, walking for 1 minute, and then repeating. No sweat, I figured. I've been working out pretty regularly recently and on and off all year. Tons of cardio! Oh. My. God. I was so wrong.

So the hubby and planned to just run around our neighborhood (this summer, while they were staying with us, my sister and her then-fiancé mapped from my house to the community sign at the front of our subdivision: 1/2 a mile there, 1/2 a mile back). I figured if I could at least run non-stop there and back, I'd be in good shape. Well, we got started, Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass blasting in my ears. By the time the song was over, I was out of breath. I thought, okay I'm just a little rusty. Walked for another three minutes and then planned to start running again. Then my shins started hurting (after five minutes of that, I convinced myself I was developing shin splints). The hubby was really patient; he kept up a steady stream of encouraging "You got this!" and "Come on babe, you're looking good" which I appreciated. After the 3rd break in less than 15 minutes, it was time for me to admit that a 5k was probably not going to be in my near future. So now, I've got to go to work today and explain to all the coworkers that I convinced to run the 5k with me that I'm opting out and doing the one mile event instead.

I told my mom about it and we had a good laugh. She asked me was I going to include that in my blog and I figured why not? How many of us have undertaken something big only to realize we're way out our depth? It happens. And then what do you do? You reassess, get it together, and then go out there and kill it. So, I figure running a mile non-stop is a good goal to shoot for in a month; then, I'll make the commitment to do a 5k the next time the Rock 'n' Roll event comes to Savannah.


In conclusion, I definitely salute those that can do a 5k with no breaks. And I now have a much stronger appreciation for what the hubby has to do in PT every day. God help him...

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What are some goals you're aspiring to? Tell me below!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October Obsessions!


Okay so I’m guessing the title speaks for itself; today’s post is basically all about what I’m into for the month of October. Hopefully you’re into some of these things too!

New Clothes!
So of course, the changing weather brings with it the excuse to purchase new clothing. I, for one, have my eye on a pair of sweet Tory Burch wedge booties. I have to admit shopping here in Hinesville is lacking. However, Savannah is less than an hour away! We’ve got two malls, both off of Abercorn (Oglethorpe is my personal favorite). And of course the usual suspects, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Ross, and Kohls all also off of the main drag. If you’re willing to venture downtown, there’s a Banana Republic, newly opened Kate Spade and Anthropologie, Marc Jacobs, and a slew of independently owned boutiques. We’re hoping for an H&M on Broughton soon.

Trolley Tours
While you’re already downtown, why not take a trolley tour? The weather is perfect right now, not too warm and not too cold. And there are tons of options. My favorite, Old Savannah Tours, has several stops in downtown Savannah so you can get on and off at your leisure. They’re also the only tour company with access to the Sorrel-Weed house, which was featured on Ghost Hunters. The hubby and I are planning on doing a Footprints of Savannah tour to check out some African-American history in the area.

Scarecrow Stroll & Beggars Night
Right here in Hinesville! October 24th from 4-6pm with select attractions and events lasting until 10pm. This event will be located in downtown Hinesville (basically across the street from the police station where they hold the Farmers Market). My entire team will be there dressed up (I’m thinking of going as Rosie the Riveter).

Rock n Roll Marathon in Savannah
So technically this isn’t in October, it’s at the beginning of November, the weekend of the 6th. But it’ll be my first marathon and I’ll be training for it all through October so I’m pretty excited. Okay let me clarify; I'll be doing my first baby marathon (a real marathon is 26.2 miles, I'm NOT ready for that!), a 5k. One of the agents on my team has done a bunch of 5k's and is offering to do this one with me. We’re going to try to get the rest of our team members to either join us or at least cheer us on. Not really a runner but interested nonetheless? Check out the one mile option, perfect for easing yourself into the experience. And there are other events going on that entire weekend. A fitness expo on the 6th and 7th, a half-marathon and relay on the 8th, and a one-mile marathon for the kids starting at 3:15 on the 9th.  First time runner like me? Check out these training tips.

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