Sunday, December 26, 2010

Moving the Military Wife Way

I promised a post or two with my tips for how to have a successful PCS move, so here it is!

Scheduling Your Move:

The first thing to decide is what kind of move you want to do. There are 3 options:

-DITY (Do It Yourself) Move: Basically this one means you do everything yourself. Packing, hauling, unpacking, etc. is all your responsibility. The plus side is that afterwards you get reimbursed by the military for the move and you can actually end up making money in the end. We did a DITY move for our first PCS (permanent change of station) because we didn't have that much stuff accumulated yet and we were moving things from several different locations (storage room, apartment, my parent's house, etc.) It worked for us at that time but I don't think I would do it again now that we have so much more in the way of household goods.

-Government Move: The military hires a moving company to pack, move and ship everything to your new station. You do not get reimbursed for any part of it, but everything is taken care of for you. A downside is also that you are trusting someone else with all your household goods and you have to accept that fact that some things WILL get broken/lost/stolen. You can get reimbursed for those things that are broken/lost/stolen but it is a pain to file the paperwork and such.

-Partial DITY Move: This is a combination of the first two options. Basically, the military will still contract someone to move/pack/ship everything that you ask them to, but you also have the option to move some things yourself and get reimbursed for the cost to move those items. This is the option we chose this time because we have a long window in between when we checked out of our old location and when we check into our new location (about a month). Therefore, we have a lot of things that we are carrying with us to get us through the month-long homeless period (clothes, a few kitchen items, etc.) and we might as well get reimbursed for those items.

As I mentioned, we chose to do a Partial DITY so we were contacted by a moving company who was contracted by the military to set up our move.

The first thing the moving company will do is schedule you for a time to get packed and moved. You request a time period and they do their best to fit you in during that time. Our moving company had to schedule us a week sooner than we wanted, but that worked out okay in the end.

After you are scheduled, the moving company will set up a pre-move consultation, in which a representative will come to your place of residence to do a scan of your household items. The purpose of this is to answer any questions you might have and to make note of how many large items, fragile items, etc. that you are requesting them to pack and move. The representative should also tell you how to prepare for your move and what they will and will not move for you.

Prepping for the Move

Prepping for the packers and movers is probably the hardest part of doing a government or partial DITY move. Here are some important things to do before they show up on your doorstep the day of the move:

-Go through your house and get rid of everything you don't need. Moving is the perfect time for purging your clutter and unused items, and there's no need to move something that you're only going to throw away when you get to your destination. Donate it, trash it, give it to a friend, just get rid of it if you don't love it.

-Remove all items above arms reach from cabinets, shelves, closets, etc. The packers will not touch anything they can't reach so you must move everything above that down to counters or tables.

-Take everything off the walls (pictures, art, etc.) and place on the floor.

-Place all your silverware in a large ziploc or small container of some sort and ask the packers to just pack the container/bag as-is. If you don't do this, the packers will individually wrap every piece of silverware and it will take forever to unpack. You can apply this method to other small, unbreakable items too such as hairbands and clips.

- Place all your clothes into garbage bags and ask the packers to pack them as-is.

If you don't do this, the packers will touch all of your clothes (including unmentionables) and have been known to use your clothes to help wrap other household items. It's also a good idea to toss a dryer sheet into the garbage bags with your clothes to keep them smelling good (or just use the Febreze brand of garbage bags like we did).

-Move everything that you do not want them to move into a designated closet or room.

It's too much for them to try and remember not to pack certain things that you tell them to, so just make it easy by only leaving out items that you DO want them to move. We had a lot of things that we were moving ourselves, so we cleared out the entire guest room and then used that as our "off-limits to packers" room. It turned out to be really nice to have a separate room that they didn't need to go in at all because we were able to hang out in there while they were packing and not be in their way.

-Unplug any appliances and electronics that you want them to move. If you have a deep freezer, you need to unplug, empty and defrost it at least 3 days before the move.

-Drain all oil and gas out of anything that would contain it (i.e. lawnmowers).

There are some things that the moving company will say that they won't move, but I recommend just leaving those items out because sometimes they actually WILL end up packing and moving those items. Their job is to pack as quickly as possible so they just want to get it done, and often won't bother with fishing through the items that they aren't supposed to pack. Just take your chances and hope that they pack it.

Here are some things I recommend keeping with you and not letting them move:

-Cleaning supplies, vacuum, broom, mop
-Paper towels and toilet paper
-Bath towels, hand towels, washcloths
-Food for your pets (you don't want to starve your poor pets do you?)
-Shower curtain (I forgot to keep this one and I regretted it's hard to shower without a shower curtain)
-Air mattress, bed linens, and pillows (for sleeping on after they take your bed and/or when you arrive at your new location but don't yet have your furniture yet)
-A plastic bin or two (This has a double purpose...the first is to use them to pack your items that you are taking yourself, the second is to use them as a table when all your furniture is gone.)
-Fold out chairs (so you don't have to sit on the floor)
-Firearms (In my opinion, it's just better to move these yourself. Less liability.)
-Pots, pans, baking sheet, knife, cutting board, wooden spoon, etc. (Just the bare essentials of what you will need to do basic cooking in the kitchen. You will get really tired of eating out and/or fast food so it's nice to have the option to cook something yourself.)

Okay well that's all I have time for right now. I'll try to do another post in the next week or two with the rest of my abundant knowledge on moving. ;-)

I have to give credit to my friend Angie for a lot of these tips. She is an expert Army wife and several of these tips came from a blog post she made about moving.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Turning my Frown Upside Down

Moving can be kind of a downer, especially if you're moving far away from all that you know. But there are some things that are helping to turn my frown upside down...

1. An excuse to drink Starbucks every morning, because the coffee maker is en route to Arizona.
Tall coffee with a pump of Cinnamon Dolce syrup, leave room for cream please! I'm becoming a Starbucks ordering pro!

2. The fact that I can still spend 30 minutes a day with my beloved Jillian DVD, even in a furniture-less house.
I purposely kept my 30 Day Shred DVD, hand weights, DVD player and yoga mat back from the movers for this very purpose. :)

3. My current nail color
Russian Navy by makes me happy everytime I see my nails!

4. The fact that we can still have delicious home cooked dinners, even with the bare minimum of kitchen tools and food.
Last night's Beef & Veggie Spaghetti. It may not look pretty, but it was so satisfying.

5. The fact that our air mattress is SO MUCH more comfortable than I ever anticipated. I was DREADING the nights of sleeping on an air mattress, but it turns out it's not nearly as bad as I thought.
I highly recommend this brand of air mattress. It really is EXTRAORDINAIRE! :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What do I do with Wheat Bran?

Remember how I talked about cleaning out my pantry a few weeks ago? Well, as I was taking inventory of all my pantry items, I found an almost-full bag of wheat bran and had no idea why I even had it in the first place.
What the heck do I do with wheat bran?!

Then I turned the package around and noticed a yummy sounding recipe for Cranberry Quick Bread.
And I just happened to have all the ingredients on hand. I also needed a breakfasty (it's a word) item to send with Alex to work the next day for his "Birthday Breakfast" with his squadron. I love when things like that happen! It's just meant to be. :)

So I got to cookin' and this recipe came together in NO time! The hardest part was waiting the hour that it takes to bake. But when it's done, you get rewarded with this beauty:
YUM! Golden brown perfection!
And the taste is really great too. It's not too sweet with the lovely contrast of tart cranberries and the bran and walnuts add a nice texture to it.
This recipe is one that I would make again and again. In fact, I would probably go make it right now, if it weren't for the fact that I'm sitting in an empty house without any of my kitchen tools. Turns out, a random package of wheat bran isn't such a bad thing to have around after all!

Disclaimer: Although this recipe may seem healthy, since it includes things like whole wheat flour and wheat bran, it really isn't (see nutritional info at the bottom of the recipe). I'm sure there are a lot of healthy substitutions that could be made for the oil, egg, orange juice, etc. but I haven't experimented with that yet. Maybe I will sometime soon though.

Wheat Bran Cranberry Quick Bread

1/2 cup White Flour, Unbleached
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Wheat Bran
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/2 cup Walnut Pieces
1 cup Cranberries (I used half dried and half frozen)
1 Egg
1/2 cup Milk
1 cup Orange Juice
1/3 cup Oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix together the egg, milk, orange juice and oil. In a separate bowl, combine flours, bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, walnuts and cranberries. Add dry mixture into wet and mix until just combined. Pour into a greased 9x5x3” loaf pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until the bread is firm in the center. Cool in pan 10 minutes, remove to rack and cool before slicing. Makes 1 loaf, yielding 12 slices.


Serving Size: 1 Slice (87g) - Calories 220, Calories from Fat 70, Total Fat 7g, Cholesterol 20mg, Sodium 200mg, Total Carbohydrate 39g, Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 22g and Protein 4g.

Ashley's Notes: These could also easily be transformed into muffins, by placing the batter in muffin tins and decreasing the cooking time by about half (just a guess).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Moving Madness

I disappeared from blog world. Forgive me? Please? I have good reasons.

The past couple of weeks have been a mish-mash of traveling (Thanksgiving), finishing up at my job (last day was this past Friday), and prepping for the impending move.

Today was the day the packers came and packed our life into box after box after box.

116 boxes, to be exact. (According to the packers, this isn't that much, but I beg to differ!)

There are piles everywhere I look. Piles of boxes, piles of things to be donated to Goodwill, piles of things we are moving ourselves, piles of dog hair on the floor since I decided there was no time and/or reason to clean (and now that I see the state of my house after the packers came, I think I made the right decision).

At least one person in the house likes all the piles...

More things to nest on makes for a happy dog.

But there's also a lot of emptiness in the house (and it's only going to get worse when the movers come to pick up all the boxes tomorrow).
Empty shelves.

Empty closets.

Empty pantries. Empty cabinets. Empty stomachs (okay, not really...we've been surviving on a Pizza Diet...the diet of champions).

Now that most of the hard work is over, I should have plenty of time to catch up on backordered blog posts over the next week and a half.

I'll need something to keep me entertained, since I'm now "gainfully" unemployed and living in an empty house for the next week and a half before we leave for good. (You should see the amount of stuff I posted on the Book of Faces (facebook) was borderline ridiculous, but I was bored!!)

I also plan on writing a couple of blog posts about doing a military move, since there is so much that goes into it.

So get ready for some fun. :)