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  • December 04, 2018 04:57:59 AM
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A Little About Us

Military spouse blog with practical guides ranging from PCSing to Hawaii to Common Scams of Craigslists. Our blog is to empower young people to learn things through simple step-by-step guides.

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Essential Tips for Mastering Holiday Meals

Practical Guide One of the proudest moments… parents and in-laws alike can have during the holidays is knowing you’re growing up and hopefully give them grandbabies (or more of them). So when you’re able to bake or any other chore that can add the holidays, it makes them proud that someone cares as much as […] The post Essential Tips for Mastering Holiday Meals appeared first on Unearthed...

Practical Guide

One of the proudest moments...

parents and in-laws alike can have during the holidays is knowing you’re growing up and hopefully give them grandbabies (or more of them). So when you’re able to bake or any other chore that can add the holidays, it makes them proud that someone cares as much as they do to bring everyone together. I wrote this guide to help you with basics in the kitchen.

Making a great marinade

Making a great marinade starts with knowing the basic rules. Most are made with a fat, and an acid, and seasonings. The general rule is a ratio of oil to acid is 3:1. Common bases are canola oil and olive oil while common acids are vinegar, wine, and lemon juice. The fat acts as a base which means it’s the more bland element and the acid helps to tenderize the meat by denaturing it. Too much acid can actually stiffen the meat and cause it to become dry. So maintaining a good ratio is key. If you have family like mine, some think just adding the last bit of wine/vinegar in the bottle will help the recipe. Well sometimes, not so much.

Whisking egg whites

A lot of dessert recipes call for whisking the eggs then adding a bit of sugar gradually. Whisking is important for creating air bubbles to fluff up the pie or cake. If you need help separating the egg whites in the first place click here for a quick video guide. The method I prefer for this is tilting my bowl to the right (because I’m right-handed) causing my egg whites to pool up on the side of the bowl. Then I start whisking by using a circular downward to an upward motion to push air in (more like a 45˚ angle). Like when you jump into the pool and as you’re floating up you’re seeing all the bubbles created by the splash. You’re applying the whisk the same by continuously pushing air into the egg. And if it calls for adding sugar, add a little bit at a time to let it foam up. This shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes so if the recipe says something like chill other ingredients for 15 mins then add the whisked mixture, wait till it’s about time to do so. If you let whisked egg whites sit it starts to become more liquidy. Like the pool example, the air is trying to escape in that state.

how to cook, learn, holidays, pinterest, guide, successful, thanksgiving

Know your seasonal fruits

Sometimes my ‘artsy’ family members try to be creative and add strawberries or watermelon to a dessert. This is a ‘don’t’. If you’re prepping or going to bring a dish to a holiday gathering, make sure you’re bringing something in season to accommodate the favors and mood of the setting. Right? There’s a reason why the ‘PSL’ craze is seasonal. So when you’re looking to make sauces, dessert, or likewise that requires sweet flavors stick with seasonal fruits like cranberries, pears, and apples.

Letting your turkey sit

I’ve only recently learned this, mainly because I usually skim the instructions and focus on the ingredients (guilty) but it’s important to let your turkey sit before serving. The reason why is that the turkey is still internally cooking and the juices/flavors are being reabsorbed by the meat. For large birds, most recipes call for a rest time of at least 40 minutes. Another tip is that you don’t need to cover the turkey. Actually, some recipes prefer that you don’t as to protect the skin from getting soggy.

Utilizing the oven drawer

This is something I forget about often. I’m cooking multiple dishes as quickly as possible so that they are done at the same time but in the process, I’m sacrificing my food quality. I never remember to use the warming drawer! Hopefully, you don’t make the same mistakes I do but just a reminder.

These are some of the most common mistakes I’ve encountered in the kitchen with others. It’s kind of hard to innately remember all the little tricks your parents taught you when you lived at home but that being said, I hope this helps!

For a guide on the best ways to pair seasonings, click on this article.

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Unpacking your life after PCSing

How to walk into a new duty station gracefully. There isn’t a lot of talk about this subject and unfortunately but this is where people miss a lot of opportunities. After all the work from the move, we forget all the little tasks that mean the most like registering with a new primary care physician […] The post Unpacking your life after PCSing appeared first on Unearthed...

How to walk into a new duty station gracefully.

There isn’t a lot of talk about this subject and unfortunately but this is where people miss a lot of opportunities. After all the work from the move, we forget all the little tasks that mean the most like registering with a new primary care physician or finding a new community to support you. Well, here is a guide to help you transition smoothly.

Registering your family to a new base

A few things to cover on this category. Have you updated your Primary care Physician (PCM)? Have you changed your mailing address? Did you update your address with DEERs?

If you live off post, did you check if the local utility companies waive the deposit for active duty members.

Reviewing your reimbursements

This can be a big deal if you just moved and are trying to make up for the deficit. I know personally, a lot of the stuff that we felt should’ve been written off of our personal expenses for moving weren’t covered. On further investigation, we realized the terminology is pretty vague so our next step to send in a review for certain expenses. Here is the Government Travel Card website and info on how expenses are reimbursed.

Find communities by searching online

A good place to start is searching Facebook. Look for military spouse groups for your duty station. They’re a great place for asking questions and finding out what local activities are going on.

how to holidays, thanksgiving, cooking, food, turkey, foodie

Get out into the community by attending local USO events

These activities are great because there’s food, fun, and family. Another thing I love is that they often partner with local business to give you a discount or free services at the events! Click here to find local events.

Go to a MWR event or weekly activity

Click here to find your installations MWR website and click on the calendar tab. This is a great outlet for some of us that like to workout but like to do it in a group setting or wanting to start a new hobby like pottery making.

Lastly, get in touch with yourself!

If you felt like you have been pushed to the brink a few times over the course of the move, get help from a professional. A few resources available are Military One Source, finding a counselor through Tricare, or even speak with the Chaplain’s office on post.

I reason I bring this up is because I had ‘post-pcs depression’. The PCS move was so incredibly stressful among other life events happening at the time that I just simply wasn’t taking care of myself. It’s really easy to get down on yourself, get distracted by the move, and continue to have this underlying mood. So if you have felt less energetic, odd, indifferent, or otherwise go get yourself some help instead of continuing to let it take a toll on you.

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House Hunting Guide for Hawaii

first, welcome to the island! I’ve had PLENTY of experience in this area. Coming from a family that has had rentals in the past, I do see the agony of both sides and coming here with THREE DOGS definitely meant we were searching so quite some time! So I’ve created a guide for what information […] The post House Hunting Guide for Hawaii appeared first on Unearthed...

first, welcome to the island!

I’ve had PLENTY of experience in this area. Coming from a family that has had rentals in the past, I do see the agony of both sides and coming here with THREE DOGS definitely meant we were searching so quite some time!

So I’ve created a guide for what information I needed at the time and things to look out for.

Before I get started, make sure you know your current credit score and have reference information from previous homeowners. If you put down the references, please let them know they’ll probably be getting a call them about your rental history.

Create a Checklist

Make a checklist for you and a separate one for your spouse. Realistically, you two might not agree on the same house as your favorite so if you could separately rank your picks first, that’ll help with negotiating later.

Tip: If you’re active duty, ask about waiving background check fees. Although the property owner has every right to ask, most will waive it since they know military members need an extensive background check for their job. Let them know that your BAH covers the rent as well to reassure them. 

Some of the local property owners I went through were not aware of these things and seemed unsure as to what to do. So I usually will let them know that if you have unit information down and something happens they can call the unit and they’ll make sure the soldier is holding up their end of the rental agreement. This is pretty comforting since the property owners basically have to trust someone with their own home. 

oahu hawaii home buying spouse first-time buyer

Here are a few things to consider in Hawaii for your checklist:

Air Conditioning: Many houses do not have central A/C and consider the costs of running the A/C because electric is incredibly expensive.

Parking: Many places have crowded parking and different towns have vastly different road conditions.

Pet Deposit: A lot of places don’t accept pets or some of the ones that do will want ridiculous things like additional month’s rent in collateral. Yikes!

Weather: Different parts of the island have widely different weather (look up annual rainfall, etc)

Jalousie windows:  This is something I wished I learned about before I moved in. They are great for letting air in but if you want to run an A/C a lot of the older windows have large gaps in between when you close them.

Appliances/Utilities: So I’ve noticed many homeowners will say ‘The rent covers utilities’ especially if they have solar panels. Keep in mind what your likely costs of utilities might be with the cite listed here and if the homeowner wants to regulate your electricity usage.

Garage/storage spaces: Most of the homes we looked at had park ports with an outdoor storage closet.

Location: Considering children there are a few websites like Family WatchDog for crime. For education, there is SchoolDigger to find schools and Hawaii DOE to find what school district they would be placed in if you choose a certain neighborhood. Also, think about the proximity to work and traffic hours.

If you rental shares walls or you live on the same property as the homeowner: I know this sounds odd to most people but places like Haleiwa do have large places but the only drawback is your property owner might be a little too close for comfort.

Home Owner Associations: This is pretty important for my husband and I, the nicer parts of town typically don’t let you have cars on jack stands if leave tools out and for good reason! But the good thing is a lot of the associations have benefits like access to the YCMAs in the area (if your property owner will pass that info to you).

Closet/room space: I’ve found many homes had little to no closet space even in the master bedroom.

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Ashely’s Story: How the PCS Process Actually Works to Hawaii

Author: Ashley Pitkin, Military Spouse How the PCS Process to Hawaii Actually Works       Our PCS to Hawaii was definitely the most stressful move we have ever done. Our Household goods were packed up 2 months before our actual move out date because it takes a long time for things to get on […] The post Ashely’s Story: How the PCS Process Actually Works to Hawaii appeared first on Unearthed...

Author: Ashley Pitkin, Military Spouse

How the PCS Process to Hawaii Actually Works

      Our PCS to Hawaii was definitely the most stressful move we have ever done. Our Household goods were packed up 2 months before our actual move out date because it takes a long time for things to get on island. Luckily we had 2 vehicles as we shipped one 2 months in advance as well. The 2nd vehicle isn’t paid for by the Army so we sold that to my sister right before we flew out to come to Hawaii. 

        Our dog cost us about $800 to fly her on island and another $500 to keep her at the kennel for 30 days because her shots were done 3 days too late. Staying at a hotel with 3 kids for almost a month was probably the worst part of it all. Our house was a mess when we moved in, but we didn’t care our kids were over not having their stuff. We’ve been here about 5 months and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

       The island is just down right beautiful. The Locals are always kind and willing to help in anyway they can. I absolutely love Hawaii and all of the wait was beyond worth it. My 3 boys are loving island life and never want to leave. We were prepared to be without our Household goods for a while and had air mattresses, blankets and all my kids had a backpack full of special items! 

Ashley Pitkin Hawaii Military Spouse PCS

       We bought a island car about 6 weeks after we moved here. We paid about 1200 , but put about 2500 in it for transmission issues a few weeks after buying it. I recommend if you buy a car here have it checked out by a shop before paying. The seller didn’t tell us about the transmission and thankfully we had enough money to fix it. We live on post which was the cheapest option for our family and we love it. The commissary is super affordable compared to other grocery stores. We have access to a lot of free kid friendly activities and amenities. The schools aren’t the best and my kids are still adjusting to the short school days. I do a lot of at home studies and homework to help make up for it.

       This is only our 3rd duty station. Our first was Ft. Bliss 2nd Ft. Riley now Schofield Barracks. So far this is definitely my favorite of them all. I would highly recommend doing research on the schools and housing areas before you decide if it’s a good fit for your family. I have heard private schools and homeschooling is your best options for education here if you can afford it. Majority of the fun on the island is free. I try to stay away from the tourist attractions like luau and tours those things can add up quickly.

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Five Most Common Car Scams of Craigslist

I love Craigslist… There are so many different possibilities. With one look you could end up with a free coach or you could buy a limited edition item! Sometimes I catch myself window shopping for hours, it’s great! However, there are a few pitfalls. One being, you have to rely on the stranger to hold […] The post Five Most Common Car Scams of Craigslist appeared first on Unearthed...

I love Craigslist...

There are so many different possibilities. With one look you could end up with a free coach or you could buy a limited edition item! Sometimes I catch myself window shopping for hours, it’s great! However, there are a few pitfalls. One being, you have to rely on the stranger to hold up their end of the bargain. So I’ve decided to list some of the most common scammers I see on Craiglists. Also, here is a guide for the most basic scams here.

1) The Old Picture Routine...

So, just about every time I look for a mid-range car I see this. You see a deal on a SUV that looks great only to see it in person with the car being completely sun-damaged, new dents, etc.

Tip: If you want to make sure they aren’t selling you short or to see very obvious scams, look at the background of the photo. Does the landscape look unfamiliar? Not the right type of foliage? Probably a scam or an extremely old pic.

Side Story

I was looking into trading our ’63 Thunderbird and saw a post about a beautiful Ferrari kit car. It was reasonably priced so I thought to myself ‘probably not a scam’. So I call the guy and he agreed to look at it and actually listed some details. Being so excited, I drove across the city to see it and when I first looked at it… 

I was the biggest disappointment of my life. I was so stunned that the guy was acting like everything was just fine but the top was perforated, the body was warped, and the guy couldn’t even get the thing started! Never let your guard down and never assume people are telling you the truth.

2) The 'I can only give you half down right now'..

This comes to mind, especially when selling a nicer vehicle. Some will wait until the very last minute of ‘point of sale’ to say “Oh by the way, can I give half right now? I don’t have it all on me and..” Don’t ever get fooled by this one.

Side Story

Before leaving the states and moving on an island, we were trying to sell an immaculate Corvette. We were waiting for the right offer and a man kept messaging me and said he wanted it. Great, so we meet up and as he pulls for cash he says “Look, I have a family. My tax returns should come in by next month. This is my dream car.” So we sat on the offer and waiting for other offers to come in. A week later, we call him up and tell him sure, let’s just write up a notarized contract (especially since he worked in public utilities). Okay, so we meet up and he tries to hand us money but refuses to notaries the contract. So we said ‘look, this isn’t going to work out. Thanks’.

A week later we get a text from the ‘potential buyer’s wife’ saying they are threatening to get the cops involved because we owe them. Ridiculous, so I do my due diligence and address them with a wordy ‘no’ and throw some legal terms in there. She immediately backed off. I cannot believe this man tried to give us a max of a thousand dollars and hope we leave before he would ‘pay us’ the rest of it (it was worth every penny of 12k).

The lesson in short: It doesn’t matter how credible someone’s promise sounds, you’re not a bank and if they can’t get money/a loan from the bank then something else is wrong there.

Rose Choneka c5 Corvette vett

3) The 'Everything works excellent' or the 'Carfax are clean'

Some people love to pawn off an already diagnosed vehicle. Or don’t really like a certain sound it’s making so better get cash for it now types. This can be pretty tricky to catch if you don’t have a lot of experience. Before you seriously consider a vehicle, it’s worth buying the Carfax. 

Tip: If you are military, you can pick up a free copy at your posts ACS facility.

Some things to look out for are:

-The body lines don’t match up. Sometimes this can be a factory issue but if the owner can’t tangibly account for why the panels aren’t aligned don’t touch it. 

-Paint looks a slightly different color on other panels. So sometimes the panels might line up after someone did a good job fixing it but nothing can change how different fresh and old paint looks. 

-Odd noises while it’s on. 

-Bolts around the fenders unmatched

-Look at the radiator supports to see if they’ve been damaged/changed

-If you see any scribbling of diagrams on the engine bay. This is usually done by a mechanic when he/she is explaining the damage done.

Another thing to consider is that even if the car has a clean history, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been wrecked or damaged. Some people don’t report their accidents or they have a buddy rig it up.

how to buy a car near me, check, brakes, tires, professional

4) The No-it-all 'mechanic'

This guy is an ass, pure and simple. He knows everything about your car. He knows your car is completely and utterly going to die soon, but worry, he’ll do the honors of taking it off your hands for less than half your asking price!

This one may not be as common for most people. I think it frequents me more often because stereotypically women know nothing about cars; point taken. But there are some true con-artists out there! If meeting with them becomes an emotional roller-coaster or if they are trying to scare you, what you’re experiencing is a manipulation tactic. Don’t be fooled!

 

Side Story

So we put this car on the ‘lemon lot’ on base and we kept getting messages from this guy who was interested and wanted to know all the specs of it. Cool. I go to show the car and this guy texts me ‘I had to take an Uber all the way here, I just PCS’d here and I’m up in the army hotel. Can you pick me up from the gas station on Post? I don’t know where the lemon lot is at here.’ So I felt bad since I just endured the emotional toll of PCSing and decided to pick him up.

I chitchatted about the move here and he had nothing to say so we start talking about his cars and what kits he has on them. Then we get to the lot and his friend immediately shows up in ACUs and the guy I picked up instantly pulls out an OBD(car diagnostic tool) and turns on the car. He starts to say ‘Oh no. Your car is misfiring from the 2nd and 6th cylinders’ then proceeds to check out the rest of the car.

He takes it on a test drive and after an hour we started talking and I asked ‘What code did your OBD pull?’ He says ‘I don’t know PD… something.’ Then I said ‘Okay, can you pull up the history on your device?’ Him ‘Oh, well, I don’t know how to get that up.’ Then I asked to see it, no response. A few minutes later the guy hits me with this ‘Well with it misfiring, that’s a lot of work and replacement parts. I do $2,000 for it.’ Mind you, my asking price was $5,400. I said ‘Oh, right. What cylinders and again?’ the buddy chimes in ‘2nd and 6th’. So I said no to the offer and this guy has the audacity to say ‘Well, I’ll come back in a week when you’re ready to sell it to me’ rudely… Completely unbelievable!

5) The 'I have the title but...' person

For this one, just run!
It’s clear they don’t have the title (and probably why they are selling it for cheap) but some have a great backstory. Some will say ‘oh, it’s at my dad’s house.’ Then want you to buy it immediately. This situation isn’t your problem and it’s none of your business. So, if you hear a complication with the title just thank them and be on your way.

 

So these are the most common situations I run into on CL. I hope you enjoyed some the pain/stories I’ve endured to figuring this all out and that your learned something.

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Colleges and scholarships

How to apply for scholarships and colleges        I may not be an academic counselor, but what I do know is scholarships. Throughout my career, I have obtained over $240,000 in scholarship funding. How? Countless hours applying and maintaining a good relationship with my mentors and school counselors. Through there help, I’ve obtained […] The post Colleges and scholarships appeared first on Unearthed...

How to apply for scholarships and colleges

       I may not be an academic counselor, but what I do know is scholarships. Throughout my career, I have obtained over $240,000 in scholarship funding. How? Countless hours applying and maintaining a good relationship with my mentors and school counselors.

Through there help, I’ve obtained a lot of useful tricks that’ll get you through the process.

Before we get started, set up an email account JUST for scholarships and colleges to contact you with. The reason for doing this is that you will eventually get spammed by so many websites linked to scholarship, schools, and other resources for YEARS (or at least I did).

1) Scrub all your social media accounts.

This could mean being in pictures your friend tagged you in that may be funny but.. unsavory. Or that one political rant you posted that is extremely sided. Please, please be aware that a lot of competitive universities will look at your social media accounts and if it’s down to the wire on who gets into a certain program, don’t think they’re above searching.

Side note: I actually had a step-sister who was a straight-A student in her 3rd year of college, great scholarships, and had a great paid internship at a prestigious laboratory. Well, my step-sis thought posting about her recreational habits on social media was a great thing to do and boast about. Once her scholarship foundations found out, she lost everything. Sounds stupid, but when people are handing you an opportunity and money, they don’t mess around!

2) Join Cappex, Fastweb, and Bigfuture

A lot of these websites will funnel you into the right resources and what scholarships you qualify for. Also, if you list a school that you are interested in, you’ll often get mail from them with more information.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

3) Get reference letters from at least 3 people.

This one can either make or break your college application. You’ll need a reference from someone either in education or someone in a profession that requires extensive education. When these letters go to admissions/scholarship boards this is the pinnacle of your character. Anyone can write a good essay but this shows them who you are in the community. If someone with a high community standing recognizes you as a person of character, you’ve just become more desirable to them as a candidate. Also, make sure you have a good story. Anyone can say ‘so-in-so is a great football player’ but what stands out is saying ‘so-in-so not only plays football, but he lifts others up to preserve and thrive’ with a good example.

4) Type some essays about yourself

If you want to increase your odds, the trick is to type out a few different narratives to shortcut the time spent on the essay process. Common questions are: What is your biggest strength? Why do you deserve this scholarship? Who has been your role model? Tell me about the mistakes you’ve made? (Now, this is tricky. The point of this question is to be self-aware about how to learned or grew from that situation.)
If you could write a few paragraphs about these subjects all you’ll need is a little editing/formatting and you’re ready to send it off!)

Tip: Use sites like Grammarly to quickly fix errors.

5) Start Applying!

Cappex usually has good scholarships that are tailored to you but the only problem is that you’re pooled together with thousands of others who are competing with you. Your goal is to find niche scholarships because you’re looking for a smaller pool of applicants to increase your chances. What I’ve found most successful is Googling local scholarships. Most of my scholarships came from local scholarships in foundations that were nationwide. These nationwide scholarships usually have partner school that will either match your scholarship or discounts your tuition. Also, be creative! There’s a scholarship for nearly every organization and affiliation.

Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash

Another thing to consider if you’re working with school counselors; let them know what you’re applying for. Many counselors will be familiar with the scholarship and know how their previous students attain them. It’d also show them that you are passionate about your education and help with those reference letters.

Lastly, don’t expect to get most of the scholarships you apply for. Just be confident in your abilities. What I’ve come to understand is that most things that require you to sell yourself to someone else e.g. sales aren’t 100%. You’re never going to get 100% of everything, probably not even 50 but like sales, you’re looking to maintain a ratio. Insurance agents with leads generated from people already interested in their product generally only get 10% back minimum. I realize these topics aren’t nearly the same thing but the perspective is knowing that you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you don’t get exactly what you’re looking for and maintain a positive outlook.

Tip 1: If you’re applying for local scholarships, spend more time on those applications and really work out the relevant details.

Tip 2: Look for specific/niche programs. Some schools offer fast-track programs to a certain degree or field. These applications might be competitive but they do usually have the highest reward.

6) The waiting game...

If you’re in this step, go ahead and continue to apply for alternate opportunities. Who knows, maybe your dream all along was something far better.
But if you’re waiting to hear back from a school, reach out to admissions. Make sure they know you’re interested and get your counselors to help you make the call.

5) Don't accept admissions from a school until you've talked with an admissions counselor!

The reason I say this is because once you’re locked into going there so basically the admissions office has done their job(for the most part). Instead, you want to be calling and asking questions about everything from student life to scholarships available. If an admission counselor feels like you ‘fit the bill’ of that school, they are going to do whatever to make the deal more enticing.

From personal experience when I received a full ride to a college I was interested in, my counselors urged me to ask about what they had to offer to get me to go to a college halfway across the country. They called in, offered me a free ticket to see the school, stayed in the dorms and had a chat with the dean. Now, this happened with a smaller college, going to a larger college might have less to offer in this realm.

All in all, if you don’t get to the university you want or scholarship there are always alternate ways of getting there or finding better opportunities. Scholarships are definitely a numbers game. For colleges it’s about finding if you fit what they’re looking for. But no matter what if you put yourself out there you’re already ahead of the majority of students. Most people I went to school with didn’t do scholarships or only applied for scholarships they thought they could get. But guess what you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. So get out there!

Additional Resources

Courses to start early (& cheaper)
HarvardX 
ASUx 

Additional information for military spouses:

MYCAA 

Check out this post about active duty scholarships!

Also check out the base education center!

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