military life

A Veterans Story

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of The Folger Coffee Company. The opinions and text are all mine. #sharefolgers #veteransday
Growing up Veterans Day was significant to me because of my grandfathers. They had both served in the US Army during World War II. They were my only connection to military life but, unfortunately, they passed before I was ever old enough to hear their stories. It wasn’t until I got married that I completely understood what the day was about and how important their stories were. Over seventeen years ago I married my husband and became an Army spouse. Since then this Army life has introduced me to so many others who have also served, each with their own story.

A Veterans Story | My Hot Southern Mess


Misconceptions of an Army Recruiter

A few years back when we lived in New Jersey my husband had to preform a job for the Army that he did not sign up to do. He was a detailed recruiter. This means he was selected by the Department of the Army to become a recruiter. He did not apply for recruiting duty or change his MOS (job), they wanted him to be a recruiter. This is not a job that my husband and many other soldiers would pick for themselves but it is a job that needs to be done. What better way to recruit new soldiers than use those doing the job already? Whether they want to be there or not.

Misconceptions of an Army Recruiter | Country Girl Gourmet



Airborne and Special Operations Museum

It’s that time of the year again, it is time for Memorial Day. Memorial Day for many is the long awaited weekend that welcomes summer. A time to head to the beach, pool or fire up the grill for a BBQ. There are those who confuse Memorial and Veteran’s Day and for this I kindly ask please do not Thank a Veteran on Memorial Day. That’s not what Memorial Day is all about. Memorial day is the day to remember all of our soldiers that have fallen while in the line of duty. My husband has lost several brother’s at arms, I know those who lost their spouses, children who have lost their father. I don’t know many in the military community that do not know someone who gave all.

With Memorial Day on us I want to urge people to do something a little different this year. Find a way to remember those who gave their all so you do not have to. An easy way is to look and see if you have any military history museums in your area. Living in the Fort Bragg area we are blessed with several great museums but if I could only pick one it would be the  Airborne and Special Operations Museum.

Bloom Where You Are Planted- Airborne and Special Operations Museum

The Airborne and Special Operation’s Museum has been in Fayetteville since August of 2000 and tells the story of the Airborne and Special Operations Soldier from the 1940’s until present time. Since it opened in 2000 I have gone several times but it wasn’t until I went on the blogger familiarization tour with the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau that I was really able to get a deeper look into the museum. We have gone on our own and taken family in the past but I have always had a little one or two so while I was able to walk through the museum I never was able to really give it the full attention it deserves. Even with the blogger tour I would have loved more time. There is just so much to see and learn.

When exploring the museum there are two routes to go, explore the outside first or the inside. Outside you have the original Iron Mike statue from Fort Bragg. There are also memorial stones and pavers lining the walkways up to the museum. There is also something outside that you won’t find elsewhere, a memorial to the K-9 Soldier. On Memorial Day (Monday, May 25,2015) at noon they will be holding a special memorial day ceremony to honor the bravery and dedication of the special operations K-9 Soldier.

Since we were visiting on a rainy day we went straight inside. Upon entering you see 2 paratroopers hanging from the ceiling. Here is one of them:

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations Museum
Once you have signed in you are set to explore the museum. Inside they have a temporary exhibit, the main exhibit and a simulator ride. The current temporary exhibit is, Task Force Ranger And The Battle of  Mogadishu. This is better known to many from the book and movie, BlackHawk Down.

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations Museum

This exhibit just received the John Wesley Powell Prize, an award that is typically given to museums such as the Smithsonian! It really is a great exhibit and thanks to receiving the award we get to keep the exhibit a bit longer than planned. You have until October 2016 to check it out.
Here are a couple highlights from the exhibit:

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations Museum

and this:

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations MuseumThere are no words to describe this note.

Moving on we go onto enter the Main Exhibit hall.

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations MuseumWalking through there is something to look at at every turn.

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations Museum

I loved looking at the uniforms and how much they have changed but also have stayed the same. The unit patch for the 508th is exactly the same logo today!

There was honestly too much for me to include in this blog but here are some of the bigger exhibits:

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations Museum

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations Museum

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations Museum

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations Museum

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations Museum

Bloom Where you are Planted : Airborne and Special Operations Museum
You walk through the 1940’s to present day with close attention to detail in an attempt to not miss a thing. I saw pictures that were similar to those of my grandfathers from World War II, you can read about how the Pathfinders began and why they were important, learn about different weapons and gear that was used. The tour is self guided so you can spend as much time or as little as you would like!

When you finish looking at the exhibit there is one more experience waiting for you. The Airborne and Special Operations Museum also has a simulator ride! They just updated it and it was to debate during Armed Forces Weekend but I have something for you. Here is a sneak peak of the ride:

I’m sorry but if you want to see how it ends you will have to go to the museum!

The museum is located at:

100 Bragg Boulevard
Fayetteville, North Carolina

The museum Hours are:

Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm
Closed Mondays and Federal Holidays.
The museum will be open on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veteran’s Day.
We are closed on Federal Holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day, and Easter.
The Exhibit Gallery closes at 4:45.
They recommend allowing 2-3 hours to tour the museum grounds.

Admission is free to the museum but they accept donations.
You do have to pay  to ride the Motion Simulator, it is $5; half price for those under 36″. Tickets are available in the gift shop.

If you check out the museum from May 16 thru June 27th 2015 you will also have the opportunity to check out the North Carolina Field of Honor. Hundreds of American Flags are flying honoring those who serve, who have served and those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice. The Field of Honor You can read more information about the North Carolina Field of Honor HERE.


Finding New Roads as an Entrepreneur

Military life has all sorts of challenges attached to it. From the crazy deployments and separations  for training and what not to just the various problems that come along with the frequent moves. We learn real quick that we need to be flexible in this life and learn how to adapt and overcome. It is the challenges of military life that has made my family look at what we want and how can we make things better. Being a single income family one of the ways of making things better is trying to do what I could to ease our financial stress. I don’t know where some people get the idea but as a military family we aren’t swimming in money. We have a tight budget we follow. So I would set out on the job front searching for jobs that would work with my husband’s schedule and I could work around our special needs son’s needs.  Over the years I have applied for countless jobs at various duty stations without much luck. I even tried my hand at selling Tupperware and Pampered Chef products at one point.  Making a little bit of money helped me feel like I was contributing to our family.

It has been 10 years since I last sold Tupperware and a lot has changed in our life. The roads we have gone on have varied. I went back to school, I have volunteered, became a military family and veterans advocate, ran a small at home bakery business and helped my husband run his tactical and firearms business. That’s right we found the road to becoming entrepreneurs, a military spouse and veteran entrepreneur if you want to be specific.  It wasn’t always easy and it was a constant learning process but we made it work.

Finding New Roads as an Entrepreneur #chevysalutes #findingnewroads

My business was small but being a cottage food business that was ok since I worked out of my house. Until I was ready to open a brick and mortar store I was fine and I had no plans of doing that while living in El Paso. My husband’s business was run out of our home also which surprises many people. We mainly sold guns, out of our house after all. We had the proper licensing to do so as well as training from the ATF, my husband and I both were federal firearms licensee’s or FFL’s. People would order guns through us or would buy their gun and we would do the transfer. Basically that entailed us receiving the merchandise and properly logging it. Then when the customer would come to pick it up we would call NICS for the background check before we could transfer it to them. I would handle back of the house stuff such as social media, shipping and receiving, product photos and other related issues. While my husband was more so the face of the company and did probably 95% of all of the transfers in addition to ordering merchandise, keeping the books and paying our quarterly taxes and more.

Having our own businesses not only allowed us to be our own bosses but it gave our family the flexibility we needed. It’s not easy finding a job as military spouse. A problem I have dealt with each time we PCS to a new location. When you add in your families dynamics it can be even harder. Having our businesses gave us the best of everything. We could do something that we loved, in markets where there was a need and in the end make a profit that we could in turn invest back in our company in addition to helping relieve some of the financial stress that are family had. It felt good for me to  be able to financially contribute to our family while still being able to be present for them if something would happen.

When we PCS’ed to Fort Bragg my husband did close down shop even though he was successful in El Paso. Heck I still get calls for him and we moved away 2 years ago. From running his business in El Paso he learned that he wanted something more, something more on the lines of a brick and mortar shop and right now he is not ready to take that step. That doesn’t stop him from pointing out different buildings that are for rent. As for myself, the cottage food laws are stricter in North Carolina so there is no more selling baked goods out of my home. Instead I took my brand and found a new road, I jumped in with both feet into the blogging world.  It has taken time and a lot of hard work but I am still able to financially contribute to my family.

I can safely say that the entrepreneur bug has definitely bitten our family. It is a road I am glad that we took. My husband and I both have ideas floating around in our heads for other business ventures. Only time will tell what we will do next and what road we will go down next. Who knows maybe we will open a cupcake and gun shop…hmmm that sounds like it could be interesting.

Finding New Roads as an Entrepreneur #chevysalutes #findingnewroads

Louis Chevrolet and William C. Durant(GM founder) were the entrepreneurs behind Chevrolet and their company has come a long way since it was first formed in 1911. Did you know that GM employs nearly 5,000 veterans and has close to 45,000 current retirees who have served in the military. To help expand this effort, GM Service Technical College is working on a number of initiatives that encourage the hiring of returning veterans. With help from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Chamber Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, GM is providing dealerships with free access to over 400 Hiring Our Heroes job fairs that connect them to veteran applicants with a diverse array of skills. The Hiring Our Heroes initiative has helped more than 200,000 returning military service members and their spouses find training, career counseling and employment opportunities.
Check out how Chevy is giving back to military families for Military Appreciation Month HERE

Don’t forget to join to join @nextgenmilso and @armywives101 on Twitter on May 27,2015 at 9:00PM for an extra special Military Appreciation Month Twitter Party. It will be a lot of fun plus there will be awesome prizes! Be sure to check it out!


#chevysalutes #findingnewroads


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chevrolet via MSB New Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

American Sniper : A Military Spouse’s Perspective

American Sniper has been out for a couple weeks now and I finally went to see it. My husband had no real desire to see the movie (or any military related movie in general) but an opportunity arose when I had the chance to go to a private viewing for Team Red, White and Blue Fort Bragg. What can I say, I was curious.  So, I avoided the various blog posts floating around critiquing the movie and went with an open mind.  Along with a bit of wonder about why the audience was so quiet at the end.

American Sniper: A Military Spouse's Perspective

As a spouse of an Army soldier I kind of knew what I was getting into. I “know” what my husband’s job is and the kinds of things he does while deployed. Well, to a degree. I am not there to see with my own eyes what he has seen and we do not really talk about it. That may sound completely insane to some people but we don’t. It is what works for us.  My husband is also not that soldier that goes around telling others his old war stories either. Many Army guys are the same way. The subject of war is delicate and personal, each soldier has there own story.

While we may not speak in depth of what happens over there I do know bits and pieces. There are the spouses who do talk about things in depth with their soldier and blurt out things at coffees. To my husband showing me a Facebook message from a distraught mother who had lost her son and him not sure how to reply. I know enough. I know enough to know my husband goes out on missions where he may or may not have been involved in a fire fight. I know he has been shot at and he has shot at others. He has seen things blown up right in front of him. He has seen death. The death of his brothers and the other casualties of war, the bad guys to the innocent. His eyes have seen much in his four deployments to the sandbox.

As an Army spouse, I know all to well what the hardships are like. My husband and I got married when we did because he may or may not be deploying. His company commander even gave him the day off to get married. Four months later he was deployed to Kosovo. That was in 1999. That was our first taste of deployment. It wasn’t until after 9/11 that deployments became a regular word in our household. My husband deployed back to back with little down town in between. When there was down time he was either training or away at a school. It was just me and my boys. My husband and I joked that he was just some guy who visited.  He liked deploying. It was what he joined the Army to do. It is what he trained for. He’s really good at his job too. Did war change him? Yes, how could a soldier that has seen and been in combat not change.

Life without my husband wasn’t always easy. I managed because what else was I suppose to do, just cry? I pulled up my big girl panties and dealt with whatever was being handed to me. I had high risk pregnancies, had surgery, dealt with getting my second son diagnosed with autism, sick kids and whatever else came my way. Trust me there was a lot. Me and Murphy, we go way back. I won’t even mention the times when I was on pins and needles hoping to hear from my husband after something horrible had happened. I’ve been called stoic more than once but we all have our breaking points. I’ll just say the shower is an awesome place to cry it out. I know i’m not the only military spouse that has done that.

This has just been our life. Five total deployments, four to the sandbox and with a few more years left to retirement who knows if there will be another one. So I fully knew what I was getting into when I sat down to watch American Sniper. I watched and there were funny parts, things I could relate to as a spouse and things I imagined were similar to what my soldier may have experienced. The movie had many similarities to my own life. Yes, there were things that may have been exaggerated but overall it was a good movie. If I had one wish for it, I wish they would of dove further into the subjects. Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper did good but I left wanting more of the story. Simply because I know so much more is there.

The movie ended on a somber note, with Chris Kyle leaving to take a struggling vet out. Then a statement of how he had passed and then actual footage from his funeral and all of the support he had and then it was over. No happy ending, just a somber reminder and a silent audience with many in tears.

If anything American Sniper is a good reminder to all of those out there who have forgotten what exactly our soldiers do for their freedom. The movie also gives a taste of what spouses live through that isn’t all rainbows and sparkles. It brings light to the issue of PTSD. Many of our soldiers experience so much when deployed. Over the years at war the military has gotten better about reintegration but the process is not foolproof. There are many programs out there to help returning vets. We lose far too many soldiers each day, an estimated 22 a day if you want to be particular. In my opinion that is far too many. There is so much that we can do to help our veterans. It is just a matter of doing it.

Interested in more ways to help Veterans check these great organizations.

Team Red, White and Blue


Semper Fi Fund

Fisher House

Mission Continues

Team Rubicon

and HERE is a list from Veteran’s Affairs (VA) from 2013-2014

Veterans Day Everyday

When speaking about veterans many have heard, “A Veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable ‘To My Country’ for an amount “up to and including my life.”  I have been blessed to have veterans in my life and I am beyond thankful for all that they have done.  Both of my grandfathers served in the Army and fought in World War 2 and I am married to my favorite veteran who is a soldier in the US Army.

Veterans Day Everyday |Country Girl Gormet



You know those mundane everyday things we do without thinking? For instance, for myself that includes the fight with daughter about school picture day clothes and hair, as I make 4 lunches and get my 4 monsters ready for a day of school, those things. Thirteen years ago today so many of us were doing those same things. We were going about our daily life without question or worry. I was getting ready for my first OB appointment with kid number 2. My husband was at work, doing Army guy things. Then in a moment, life changed.

Alike many, our life changed immensely on 9/11.  My husband left less than a month later for desert training and was deployed to Afghanistan by January 2003. It was not his first deployment but a deployment with a new mission,war.  It was a completely different mind process than his previous deployment. When he went to Kosovo in 1999 it was for a NATO mission and although it could happen the bad things we now know of deployment were not in the forefront of our minds. Every single bad thing you could think of was now on the minds of countless military spouses.  When you heard a deployment was on the horizon a series of what ifs starting racking your mind. Like the big one, “what if something happens to my husband, how would I handle it”. It became a series of plans set up in the back of your head. With these changes others changes are made these changes to how you see life.

Life was no longer the just day to day, it became something more. It became looking at each and every day and just being thankful and living for the day. Yes, scary things happen in this thing called life and there are scary people out there but you can’t just stop and let them take over your life.  You have to go on. You can’t stop because something bad may happen. When you do that you let the bad guys win. Life for my family became about spending time together. This is so  important for us because we never know when Daddy may have to go away.  Every birthday, anniversary and holiday we are together is extra special because we know the next one we may not be all together.  Doing errands together, vacations, family fun nights it’s all about spending time together.

There is still worry about things that we cannot control but it is followed by what will be will be. Along with a sprinkling of how important is this in the big scheme of things, does it really matter? We have learned to live and let go. Well, at least the best that we can.

9-11 Reflections | Country Girl Gourmet

This holiday season and everyday Remember our Troops

Remember, this Christmas, while you are eating your dinners and laughing, that in another house there is an empty chair where a hero should be sitting. They gave their life so that you can sit with your family. So light a candle this Christmas for our fallen heroes that did not make it back …and for those still serving in  Afghanistan and  elsewhere around the globe.

Respect the Holidays

Back in September I was in shock when I found this:

On September 17th. The next day I saw inflatables up at Walmart across the street.

I then saw this a couple weeks later-

I did half expect to see this. After all Hobby Lobby is a craft store. Those who make holiday crafts tend to start a month or two in advance. While I did expect to see Christmas crafting supplies I did not expect Christmas trees.

Then I had to go to the mall-
This is at Sears at Cielo Vista Mall

This I did not expect to see before Halloween-

Oh and yes this was up before Halloween! Come on people Respect the Pumpkin!

These pictures were all taken around El Paso, Texas.

What has happened? It seems as soon as the School supplies are put away the Christmas decorations come out to play. I love my holidays each and every one, individually. They each get their own special attention. That is why I am asking you to take back Thanksgiving and Respect the Bird.

I am a military wife so each holiday my husband is home it is extra special. In this life you never know if your soldier will be home the next.  We love to cook and well, eat. We even try to cook together, well sometimes. I am the head chef and he is my sous chef,lol.
Last Thanksgiving we took an adventure into frying turkey. I brined our turkey as usual with my own turkey brine and then he did the rest. He watched video, DVR’ed Alton Brown…. He was ready and on turkey day he was ready to tackle the bird by himself.

He made up a system to lower the bird into the oil and was ready to go

no puppy, that Turkey isn’t for you!

fry, turkey, fry!

Fried Turkey!

My husband finally after years of talking about it fried his first turkey.  The whole commotion that surrounded frying the turkey definitely made the day an adventure and memorable. A good memory, happy memories that I can look back upon today.

Today a day when my husband is on the other side of the world in Afghanistan for his 5th deployment. This year his Thanksgiving will  most likely consist of him and his platoon in their sand bunker, with no running water, heat, etc. eating who knows what. He and others do this so hopefully their children do not have to one day, so their siblings don’t have to, so you and yours don’t have to. They do this to protect our freedom to live free and make our own choices. For this I am thankful. Words cannot express my gratitude to these soldiers and the sacrifices they make so the rest of us don’t have to.

This year I ask you to make the choice to Respect the Bird. Take back Thanksgiving, take back the day and what it’s suppose to mean. It is about Family not Black Friday and taking a nap as soon as dinner is done to prepare to be in line at Walmart as soon as the doors open to get the best deal. I ask you to spend time with your families, love a little and make memories do it for all the military families that can’t spend the day with their loved ones.