Friday, July 5, 2013

Guest Post from "Smile As It Happens": " What to know: From Military to Civilian Life"

I hope everything had a fabulous Fourth and is ready to enjoy the weekend!

Today I am collaborating with Emma Banks, from Smile As It Happens.

Emma is a military spouse who contacted me and offered to write a post with some of her military insight on some of the difficulties of, as well as myths concerning, making the transition from military life to civilian life, particularly in regard to finding and keeping employment. In Emma's words: "The article discusses the importance of helping our country’s service members find employment either during station changes, or once they have either finished their active service, or become disabled while serving and thus been forced to end active duty."

Emma currently seeking a career in life and career coaching and she has some really helpful tips on the matter of going from military back to civilian:

What to Know: From Military to Civilian Life
Here are four myths that, if you buy into them, may kill your confidence in finding a post-military career. I’m here to counter these myths with truths that will make sure that you are as prepared as possible to be successful in your post military transition.

Myth #1: It is difficult to find non-military jobs after spending so many years in the service.
Truth: As a veteran, there are many jobs that you are more than qualified for. There are programs available that are designed to help you in your job hunt. A group called 100,000 Jobs Mission works specifically to provide information on open positions that former military will be well qualified for. This resource also provides job outlook, qualifications needed and salary expectations.
Myth #2: Most companies do not care about applicants.
Truth: While employers are definitely looking out for their own interests, they do care about potential employees. Just as you are attempting to make a good impression on your potential employer, the company similarly desires to impress you and make applying for a job as easy as possible. In order to streamline the application process many companies have started to partner with services like JIBE, a mobile recruiting company. These services allow you to upload your resume and various job-related documents instantly from your smartphone or tablet.
Myth #3: There are not any companies that are specifically looking to hire veterans.
Truth: Many companies are looking to hire former military members. Companies that are run on-base such as military credit unions or insurances are a great place to start looking. Additionally, several websites annually list companies that specifically look to hire veterans. Among those are GI Jobs and Military Friendly. Visiting these sites regularly will keep you up-to-date with the latest job availability and will help you in your quest for future employment.

Myth #4: Job seekers do not need to promote themselves to prospective employers.
Truth: Even though veterans are highly sought after in the civilian world, it is still very important that you, as the interviewee, sell yourself. Mention any awards and promotions you have received and what you have accomplished during your time in service. Remember, you are most likely one of several people who want the same job, and making sure the potential employer hears about all you accomplished is necessary to give yourself the best chance at employment.
Emma is a mid 20-something year old with a passion for life, love, fitness, and helping others. She loves to be active and get involved in as many sport and community activities as possible. Emma is currently studying to become a Career & Life Coach, and loves to network with people from around the world! Check out Emma’s blog at! 

Thanks, Emma! Check out her blog for more tips and show her some love! I hope those that info is helpful to some of you! My husband is still active duty air force, but in the not-so-far future he will be making that ever-so-important transition and I bet some of these tips and truths will be helpful to us as well!

Stay tuned for my future guest post on Emma's blog! I'm working on a great summer-time recipe post for her and her readers! Coming soon!

*All article content: Emma. All photo content: my own.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Just stopping in to say if you aren't following me on Bloglovin, you might consider doing so. Bloglovin' seems to be the wave of the future with google reader shutting down on Monday. Join me there and follow along, please and thank you? There are buttons on the side bar by which you can become a follower of My Name is Not King on the Bloglovin site.

Monday, June 24, 2013

DIY: How to Make a Backyard Firepit Out of a Salvaged Dryer Drum

My husband and I are fire fans. Fans of fire. Bonfires in particular.

We live on a military base and have a very small fenced in back yard, but we didn't want to have to experience summer here without being able to enjoy evenings outside by a blazing fire. We had been looking for months hoping to find a nice looking, good quality and reasonably priced fire pit, but it seems that all the remotely nice ones were $80 at least, some even up to $200. That just seemed outrageous for me. I had been weekly checking craigslist hoping on would pop up, but while I was waiting I was seeking out alternatives. At first we thought we might cut down a large metal barrel and just use that, but then I stumbled upon a most genius idea (thank you, pinterest): FIRE PITS MADE OUT OF WASHER/DRYER DRUMS!

The moment I saw that people were converting the insides of washing machines into bonfire receptacles I knew we had to make one. I was very surprised when I was able to find a drum on Craigslists just a few days later. The man selling it had it listed as a Washer drum, but upon further inspection we have decided it in an industrial/laundry mat sized drum from a dryer. I am not sure how he came upon it, but that is no matter. It had already been removed from the actual dryer and for $25 it was ours! (If you wanted to create something similar I recommend looking for old washers/dryers out to the side of the road, or finding a cheap salvage place. I've heard that the drums are easy enough to remove, but hopefully you get lucky like us and someone does that step for you.).

drum, upside down, before we did anything to it
It was a bit of a process start to finish, but we love the way it came out. The way we went about creating it might not be possible to everyone, as we have access to a lot of equipment and tools, due to my husbands job maintaining structures for the Air Force. However, with a little craftiness and know-how, you could easily create something similar on your own. 
In summary we-actually he, while I took pictures- took off the...spike...on the back (some part which connected it to the dryer; it was just screwed in) and removed all plastic parts from the inside.

Next, he drilled some extra holes in the bottom and top, just to allow water to drain (all the holes in the sides are part of the drum design and they make for really great air flow!). Then it got trickier: my husband welded three legs with feet on the bottom, punched holes in them, sand blasted them and screwed them onto existing holes in the drum.
You could definitely do without the legs, but we thought it gave it more of a finished look. Another option would have been to leave the spike on the bottom part on and drive it into the ground for stability. But, if you have welding skills, put them to use!

After he had done all the tricky bits at his shop, we brought it home and I painted it with 3 coats of black Rust-Oleum high heat spray paint. That was about $7 at Lowes; it is made for grills and can withstand heat up to 1,200 degrees F. NOTE: ONLY PAINT THE OUTSIDE PARTS ON IN CONTACT WITH THE FIRE! Paint really made it look finished and it so far holds up very well to the high temperatures.

We love how it turned out! We've had several fires and are looking forward to many more with this lil' beauty. We had a lot of fun working on it. Start to finished it took us between 3 and 4 hours, and cost us $32! Function and frugal, not to mention a pretty good conversation starter. We couldn't be happier!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Save Money on a Hawaiian Vacation (or any vacation):

My husband and I just recently returned from a 8 day trip to Oahu, Hawai'i. It was our combination honeymoon/anniversary trip. We were so blessed to be able to spend our first anniversary in such a beautiful place!
As you may know, going to Hawaii can be very pricey. There are a lot of variables on the cost of a trip, such as where you are flying from, and the type of place you choose to stay, etc, but overall it can be a rather high cost place to visit as far as the USA goes, because it is an island. Food, especially, can be very costly there as it is mainly imported. Regular grocery items can cost up to twice as much.

I'm not one to normally discuss numbers and finances, but I think this may be beneficial to some, so I am posting it. With some careful planning and budget we were able to enjoy 8 days in Honolulu for $2,000.  Not per person. Yes, total. Two people, 8 days, hotel, food, rental car, activities (including beaches, hikes, jet skis, a catamaran cruise, snorkeling, a luau, and significant historic sites)= two thousand.

I have done a little research and there is not exact number as far as what a trip/honeymoon to Hawaii can cost you, but after reading several articles and travel magazines I have come to the conclusion that the average for a week is about $1,500 per person. So I think we did pretty alright.

Please do keep in mind we are a military couple, so we did get some great deals related to that. We stayed at a military resort (the Hale Koa, right on Waikiki, if anyone is interested), which was lovely and much lower priced than your average Hawaiian resort. We had a nice balcony room (which we, by favor, got as an upgrade) which we were charged about $90 a night(ground floor price). We also got a deal on the rental car, and were able to save about $200 off the extra fees they would normally charge (due to age and whatnot) because my husband is in the Air Force. But a lot of the money we saved was purely being frugal.

 Initially we had planed on taking a military "hop," but we decided that was a little to risky for us. Planes only went from our base to Hickam once or maybe twice a month and our budget couldn't afford us getting stuck there. As plan B, we got a great deal on plane tickets. We live on the West Coast and were able to fly, without lay overs, straight there. Tickets to Hawaii based on where you are flying from can be anywhere from $300 to $1,500 per person round trip. We flew Alaska Airlines and ours were very closest to the lowest possible price on that scale.  Another huge factor in ticket cost is the season: Hawaii is considered to have its peak season of tourism from November to March. Since we went in the end May, that also saved us a bunch.

I am not going to give any more exact break downs of what we spent.  On to the frugality tips...

The first day we arrived we hit up a grocery store to stock up on lunch items. Family who had been before had already warned us about the high food prices so we had packed some snack items in our luggage from home and then purchased rolls, cheese, lunch meat and the like from the grocery store (commissary @ Pearl Harbor for you military folk) and kept it in our hotel room fridge. We spent about $30 on lunch goods for the week. Since we planned to spend most mornings on the beach we figured packing our own lunches would save us a bunch rather than having to find a place to eat out or have a meal at the resort. If you figure that sandwiches or your average lunch foods would be about $20 total bill for the both of us for 8 days, that simple move right there saved us about $130. We did eat lunches out a couple times, but overall that plan worked great.

While food on Hawaii is high price, activities are fairly cheap if you choose carefully. What is NOT cheap is doing the 800 different tours the resort will try to offer you. We went to some great places: We snorkeled in Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, we hiked Diamond Head Crater, we went to Pearl Harbor and ferried out to the USS Arizona Memorial, we hiked to Manoa Falls, amongst other things. We also enjoyed many different beaches, all of which were free (except for the occasional parking fee). The resort offered all manner of tour packages for luaus, sightseeing, and museums. Heck, they had shopping center tours! But honestly, with the rental car (or with Hawaii's huge bus system) you can easily enjoy the island without paying for someone else to bring you places. Most the places we went parking was about a dollar and admission was $5-$8 per person.

Maybe in some situations would be nice, but we had a great time without them. HERE is a list of some tour options: PRICEY! As a comparison, you can do a "Pearl Harbor Experience" for $119.00. We went to Pearl Harbor. The Arizona Memorial is free to all, you just have to wait for it to be your turn for the ferry. There are other museums, battleships and monuments you can see for a charge, but we enjoyed several hours there just walking around looking at memorials and going through their Valor in the Pacific centers (mini museums). You can also purchase an MP3 tour for about $20. We also visited some other places which the tour covers, like downtown Honolulu, Iolani Palace, the Kamehameha statue and Punchbowl cemetery, all for free. Plus, you have so much more freedom to enjoy things at your own pace when you don't have to worry about keeping up with a group. This is just one example of many. Do your research in advance, use resources like Pinterest, Yelp, or Trip Advisor and figure out where you want to go and what you want to see and then just go do it for yourself! With a rental car and GPS the possibilities are quite endless! Adventures are fun!

Also on the topic of activities: CHECK GROUPON! This applies to Hawaii or any place you intend to visit. You can get deals on local restaurants, shops and activities! I browsed through the Honolulu offers several times before we left and there were many great offers for things like surf lessons, massages, fancy restaurants, and all sorts of water sport rentals. We personally purchased a lovely catamaran sunset cruise for half off its normal price. It ended up being one of our favorite things we did there!

We did "splurge" and do a luau at the Hale Koa as we felt it was worth it. There are many Luaus to choose from and they can be pricey, but it just seems necessary for the Hawaiian experience. We also splurged a bit and rented a jet ski. Decide what you want to do, save where you can and then spend where you want to!

We aren't shoppers. We do not so much like to browse and wander stores. We do not like to purchase many things. So we save money by not shopping. Honolulu had MASS amounts of malls and shopping centers but we avoided them for the most part. We did get some souvenirs, home items, clothing items and COFFEE but over all this isn't a big chunk of where our money goes on vacations.

Obviously, the best way to save on dinning is to not dine at super fancy places. On past trips elsewhere we have also gone to the other extreme and dined at places like taco bell too many times and while we saved money, we felt ill. Find a happy medium. Maybe plan for a nice romantic dinner or two, and then for the rest of the trip see what else you can find. We love local food and little less-frequented-by-tourists establishments. Farmers markets or food trucks and sometimes have great deals on local cuisine. The fresh fruit is the best! We also stopped at a flea market and got several different local handmade breads which served as snacks and breakfasts a couple days. Other Tips: Order water. Sometimes we get an appetizer (its always calamari) and split a meal. Sometimes we have salads and a dessert. Or two meals and split dessert. And then there is alcohol: we aren't what you call drinkers, but Hawaii is not really Hawaii without a few fruity rum beverages. Those $8 drinks can add up real quick and take a huge chunk out of a budget, so...just consider that.
Just as is with any vacation, with a little careful planning and budgeting you can have a great time for a relatively reasonable amount of money. Does anyone have any other tips I missed? I can't wait to post more photos and stories about our lovely trip to the gorgeous island of Oahu!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Yet another wedding flashback...

We'll be home from Hawaii in a couple days, but until I can update you with those pictures, here are some more lovely wedding photos from our wedding on May 26th of last year. Again, all photo credit to Jeff Crandall Photography.
 Only one more post coming, I swear. These pictures just make me so happy!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Flashback to one year ago today: Our Wedding

This post is being brought to you thanks to the power of scheduled posting. JoJo and I are currently still enjoying our Oahu Vacation and today are celebrating our FIRST ANNIVERSARY!

To celebrate blog style, here are some wedding ceremony pictures! I realize I actually never posted any of the official ones. Another post with reception and formal shots coming later. All these lovely photos documenting our most wonderful day are accredited to Jeff and Vicki Crandall of Jeff Crandall Photography.
I cannot believe it has already been a year. Wow. For the record, ^^this is still the look on our faces.

We've been told repeatedly that the first year of marriage will be the hardest. Can't say I agree...I mean, yes we did do it a little different. We got married and 8 days later he left on his first deployment to Qatar. That was 6 months. We have now actually been together geographically since December (and its so much better this way!). Our Pastor said probably the first year and three months would be a better gauge for us, since the whole deployment thing...but again... I really can't say this has been hard. Different? Most assuredly. Are we learning a lot about each other and married life? For certain. But we are so enjoying it a whole lot. Being best friends helps. I think part of it is we had a really good foundation of being able to communicate well, thanks to all the long distance. Also, we think we have just been really blessed. And we are mighty happy about it.

Happy one year to us; here's to forever.

Monday, May 20, 2013

2 tickets to paradise: Oahu Trip Itinerary

Tomorrow morning we are leavin' on a jet plane with our two tickets to paradise (*two songs, one sentence, BAM!*).

We have been planning this trip since I think June of last year. We didn't do a honeymoon after our wedding last May (instead we spent 8 day on his base submitting all manner of paperwork before he deployed), so this here is it. And its a celebration of our one year anniversary as well! It will be 8 days of oh-so-fabulous. We're beyond excited over here.

JoJo and I travel very well together. Neither of us are into super touristy attractions. We like the outdoors and adventures. We are the sort to kind of just drive around to see what we can see. Out of the two of us, I am the one that plans ahead. He is more spur of the moment. I just like to optimize time and not waste any looking for something to that day. So my job is to make lists ahead of time and we figure it out day by day when we get there. It balances out between us just lovely.

I have spent months pinning away on Pinterest and I spent 7 hours last week looking up maps and address of places I think we would like to visit on Oahu. Nothing is set in stone, but here are some things we MIGHT be doing. I guess we'll have to compare when I post after the trip!

We are staying at the Hale Koa. It's a DoD resort with great military rates, right on Waikiki Beach.
While we are anti-tourist I don't think we can go to Hawaii without going to a Luau...apparently the Hale Koa has a great one. We'll be checking that out. Hula shows and fireworks also make the list of necessary but horribly tourist activities.
We'll definitely be checking/hiking Leahi, aka Diamond Head Crater. Anything else we can hike, will also be conquered.
There will be plenty of stargazing. JoJo is an astronomy fanatic and Hawaii has beautiful clear skies.
Visiting Pearl Harbor and the memorials there is another thing on the list.
We've rented a car and will surely be driving up to the famous surfer's paradise that is Oahu's North Shore.
Hanuama Bay, known for its snorkeling and sea turtles.
Find as many Waterfalls as possible and play in them. Manoa Falls is high on the list.
The only truly set in stone thing is the sunset dinner on a Catamaran which we purchased on Groupon (by the way, I highly recommend checking Groupon before you head out on a vacation!).
I have a list of restaurants and favorite local eateries we will likely visit. We will be consuming as much fish and local food as possible. Iron Chef's Morimoto's restaurant, anyone?  Places were they catch fish and within the hour feed it to you? Yes. Anything with pineapple or coconut? Yes and yes. I'm excited to try out some of the food trucks on the island, as well. There will be plenty of drinking (and buying to bring home) of delicious Hawaiian grown coffee too.
We will try and avoid anything with the word "tour" in it. Limited trips to tourist trap souvenir shops will be made. Although, I have been promised a lei or two which I am most excited about. (also, flowers beware, I will pick all of you). Saver's and Goodwills in the area have been mapped out. Farmer's Markets have also been made note of.
 Renting jet skiis is another must on the schedule (there are few things more fun in the world than basically quadding in the ocean). We don't want to try surfer bad enough to pay for lessons, but if someone offers to teach us then bring it on! Same goes for kayaking. It could happen.
We are also going to try and visit as many beaches (especially the less tourist filled ones) as possible. We plan on beach mornings and afternoon/evening adventure. Of course, we'll pop over to the palace and say hi to King Kamehameha's statue. That's a must as we are naming our first born son after him (...just kidding...or maybe not). Maybe by some miracle we'll get in a shark cage (actually we won't, I have been informed).  There will be lots of random driving. Also, anything that can be hiked, climbed or jumped off of probably will.
Overall, there will be much adventure having and enjoying of the 80+ degrees and sunshine. When I update you on the trip I will have been magically transformed from Washingtonian pale to Hawaiian Bronzed. See ya then!


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