Saturday, October 12, 2013

We Re-Committed

Just recently, we re-committed the United States Coast Guard! The Coastie's current commitment was about to expire, so we thoughtfully made the commitment to continue on this great Coastie adventure.

This was the first ceremony of any kind I have been able to attend as a military spouse. Most of them had taken place out at sea while the Coastie was underway. So I was overly excited about one of the simplest ceremonies in the military. But, to me, this particular ceremony, in this particular political climate held a lot of significance, commitment, dedication, and sacrifice on our parts. The Coastie kept calling the ceremony, "her enlistment" (in speaking of me) because it was the first time since we've been married that he has re-enlisted. So, in a far-fetched way, it was my enlistment. Even though it was the Coastie raising his right hand and swearing to protect and serve, it was also my time to reflect on my commitment to this life of service and sacrifice.

We toyed with the idea of civilian life, but we're not ready. We're not ready to leave behind the security and brotherhood of this life. We're not ready to give up on our dream and passion of serving our country. We're not ready to give up on adventure, seeing new places, or trying new things. Sure, we could find ways to do these things as civilians, but we actually LOVE what we do and the life we painstakingly create for ourself day after day. And as we say in the Coast Guard, Semper Paratus: Always Ready. Since we are not ready to end our commitment to service, we will continue to be ready to serve, protect, and sacrifice.

"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Semper Paratus

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thankful it's almost Fall

Happy Thursday! Not much has been happening in our quiet lives here in California. The Coastie and I are just floating right along through life. So this week, I am thankful for:

A full-time job right when the government shuts down. God provides for our family!

The strides made by Congress to ensure military families are paid and provided for during this time.

The support of our family and friends.

The decision and ability to come home to Tennessee for Thanksgiving!

Facing bittersweet memories of the past with grace (only by God's mercy).


"Wo"manning up to get the tough stuff taken care of.

Fun activities with friends.

Sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

Rain in Central California! It's a miracle!!!!

A good night's rest.

Our pets who keep us company.

Our cozy little home.

And making 3 dinners in one morning! Whew!

Be thankful today for all of life's little blessings!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday's Favorites

Welcome back, Friday!

It's time to bring back Friday's Favorites: a random assortment and ponderings of ideas/products/activities/nonsense that I like.

As some of you may know, I don't explore much on the internet. Ever since giving up the-social-media-site-that-shall-not-be-named almost one year ago (next month), I've used the computer even less. I didn't even get on Pinterest for about 4 months! *shock and awe*

But I did manage to find this blog about cats thanks to Pinterest. I have entertained myself for an hour (okay, maybe more than a few) with these posts about a cat named Mittens who likes to text his owner.

WARNING: These are incredibly funny, witty, and smart conversations between a cat and human. Be prepared to laugh, cry, and possibly pee a little from all the laughter you will experience. They make me die a little inside from sheer hilarity. I also want to run home right now and squeeze my cat, Mr. McGee, and teach him how to text.

Enjoy and happy Friday!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Return of Thankful Thursday

I'm sure only a few people are still following this blog, mainly because I have been away so long. But I really crave and need to be back into focusing my life on gratitude, rather than the daily stresses that can threaten to overwhelm us at times.

I am preaching to myself when I remind you to take a few moments today to be grateful. To simply BE and be thankful for this moment, this breath, this heartbeat.

This week, I am thankful for:

The miracle of prayer.

My sweet mom who has worked so hard to get my condo ready for new renters.

That I am making the best, most peaceful choices for me that I possibly can.

The Coastie and how he makes me laugh every day.

The cooler weather and gorgeous sunsets we've had here the past 2 days.

Feeling that my inner peace is beginning to show on the outside.

Knowing I can overcome any obstacle with the support of the Coastie and my incredible family.

Warm soup on a cold day.

Thrift shops.

Dancing in the kitchen.

Morning jogs along the harbor.

Be thankful today for who you are and where you are!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Been away too long!

We have been away from blogging for way too long. I've noticed that without the accountability of the blog, I've neglected Thankful Thursday in my personal life. So many changes and things have changed in our life recently, that we really need and want to get back to a simpler time.

So, for a quick update:

I quit my job and immediately found a new one. The new job is not in my professional field, but I am much happier and healthier. The Coastie agrees and loves having his wife "back."

We moved to a new house in our little coastal town. Not by choice, but the Lord definitely provided for us when it became crunch time.

We have overcome THREE very stressful, heartbreaking, and uncomfortable situations just in the last 6 weeks. Team Preston is stronger than ever!!!

I've found a great Bible study with some incredible ladies here in California. God is so good providing me with supportive friends!

We celebrated our two year wedding anniversary this past week. The second year of marriage had it's own ups and downs, but we are loving every single second of being married and facing life's challenges together.

I made the best soup of my life the other day. The Coastie has dubbed it "Hilary's Harvest Soup." I'll update with the recipe soon!

I'm also toying with a new trend-setting weekday idea. More details to come!!!!!


Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday's Favorites

This week, my new favorite thing is this Vera Bradley "seashore tote" aka beach bag:


I'm not normally a brand snob, but I do love me some Vera Bradley. When I saw this bag in a cute shop here in town that carries Vera, I couldn't stop thinking about it! So I saved my pennies and splurged several weeks after seeing it. I love it! We are taking this fabulous bag out for it's first beach trip today. I'm going to look so cute!!

Happy Friday!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thankful Thursday

It feels so strange to be getting back into this habit. So many of my life's circumstances have tempted me into a time of.... well, let's just say... the opposite of gratitude. BUT, this week, I have made a conscious choice to step back into a life of gratitude.

So this Thursday, I am thankful for:

My mom. Mom, you are heart of my heart, spirit of my spirit. I am grateful for all the cards you send me in the mail. I am grateful for the book and pendant you sent me to help me re-focus my thoughts and energy into being grateful, not bitter. Thank you for listening to me hour after hour. Thank you for forgiving me while I selfishly dominate our conversations these days. Thank you for believing in me that I will be a more hopeful, positive, giving person again very, very soon. Thank you for always believing in my inherent goodness, worthiness, and beauty and reminding me of these things when I forget. Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for walking beside me on this journey.

My husband who puts up with me in ways he never thought he would have to! He still treats me like a queen and spoils me rotten. He is my cheerleader and rock. I am so grateful for his love, friendship, laughter, and positive attitude.

Yogurt with granola.

My sweet pets who are always glad to see me.

The card from my best friend about being friends even during our "bingo years." So sweet, thoughtful, and funny, you are Liz!

The exciting, miraculous, spectacular news for a friend.


Morning runs.

Be thankful today for all the little things and important people in your life today!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Happy Armed Forces Day!

The Coastie and I wish you a happy Armed Forces day!

Today we honor all the men and women who currently serve in any branch of the armed forces.

Say thank you to someone who serves to protect you and your freedom today!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Weekend Camping at Lake San Antonio

We decided to skip out of town this past weekend and get back to nature. Well, as back to nature as I'll get because I do like having an actual bathroom somewhat close by. The Coastie chose Lake San Antonio. It's a gorgeous little lake northeast of where we live. It's only about an hour away, but the temperature difference made it feel like we were on Mars! We left home at 10 am in 60 degree weather. By the time we rolled into our camp site, it was a blistering 94 degrees! It only got hotter from there. We managed to spend some time at the lake side and even swim a little.

The most interesting part of the trip: our discovery that our sweet dog Buttercup HATES camping. She wouldn't eat, barely drank water, and barely got out of the car. We had to leave the car door to the backseat open the whole time because that's where she chose to stay. She even slept there overnight! How the Coastie and I managed to adopt a dog that despises water and being out in nature is beyond me. Oh the irony!!!!

Anyways, we had a blast and loved using our new camping gear. I felt supremely catered to because the Coastie knows everything about camping, surviving, and propane stove cooking. I was basically worthless except for a good laugh and company.

We definitely want to go again. Just maybe when it's not so uncomfortably hot!

Our camp site on the south shore of Lake San Antonio.

Buttercup: "Are you sure about this whole camping thing, Mom?"

Buttercup was still panting after her first dip in the lake.

The view across Lake San Antonio

The Coastie convined Buttercup to get in the water. She can't swim. Sad.

Buttercup's preferred place to go "camping."

The morning sunrise!!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Miracle Miles for Kids

The Coastie and I completed a 10k run!

The run entitled Miracle Miles for Kids benefited the Family Care Network, Inc. a local organization that focuses on strengthening families with children & youth with mental health issues, behavior issues, and provides foster support and training to foster kids and foster families.

I am not a natural athlete, so this was VERY big deal! I had never run more than 5 miles in one session, and that was only a couple of weeks ago! I wasn't sure how I was going to do the last 1.2 miles (10k = 6.2 miles). Somehow, I managed to dig deep and finish with a pretty good time for a novice runner.

Did I mention we were running on the beach?

Yep, we ran the entire way on sand. This run was from Morro Rock in Morro Bay to the Cayucos Pier in Cayucos (pronounced ki-U-cus).

The best part of the run was seeing 2 baby whales just off the beach. Only in California do you get to enjoy such amazing animals and a beach view while on a jog!

Enjoy a few photos from our race:

So many people on our little beach!

Representing Tennessee!

See how pretty our run was!

Team Preston at the finish line!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thankful Thursday

I've been doing a lot of self-work lately. Too personal to get into on a blog like this, but suffice it to say that when an obstacle or disappointment comes my way, I like to take the opportunity to learn from the experience. I've had several of these opportunities lately. Not with the Coastie, of course, he is wonderful. He is #1 on the Thankful Thursday list as usual! But seriously, I am trying to learn, grow, acknowledge, and accept more of myself and more of life's wacky circumstances.

So, this week, I am thankful for:

My Coastie

Our small group at church

My mom's recent visit

How the Coastie took care of my during my recent bout of homesickness

Buttercup & Mr. McGee

Our local library

Organic wine

The growth I see in myself when I hear, accept, and move beyond news I didn't especially want to hear

The sweet babies coming into so many friends' lives

The first watermelon of the season

Sunny, warm days (so rare here in Mayberry!!!)

Surprising myself with a 5 mile run


A new, precious friend here in Cali

The safety of my family and extended in-law family in Boston

Two lovely ladies in their hats!

Be thankful today!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Gardening Attempt #2

Welcome back to the Coastie life! I have been pestered asked to update this blog with more recent posts and information. Unfortunately, California living is exactly what it appears to be - easy, slow, simple. Not a lot happens out here worthy of blogging. But I will post about my mom's visit (coming soon!) and our next attempt at gardening.

My first attempt at gardening in a new coastal area was a bust. I only grew 1 stalk of broccoli and 3 squash. This was probably my only crop because I forgot to water on a consistent basis hoping that it would rain here like it does back home. Strangely, it only rains here once every few months. We're entering another 6-7 months of no rain, so I've really got to buckle down and water these veggies!

Gardening Attempt #2 consists of spinach, carrots, snap peas, and broccoli. I was promised these veggies were easy to grow and low maintenance. We'll see!

We also bought new patio furniture so we can actually eat outdoors and enjoy God's creation. (Please ignore our weed-filled grassy backyard... we don't own a mower and we were shocked when something started to grow in what had been only brown sandy dirt!)

Snap Peas


Table set for two!

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Off the Grid

Almost five months ago, I made the choice to go "off the grid" with a popular social media site. The decision had been a long time coming. I had noticed how much time each day I spent scrolling through other people's random thoughts, rants, activities, and drama. I was wasting more and more time, planning my own posts, and agonizing over what other people had, did, said, or thought.

After these five months, I am happier and calmer than I have been since I joined the social media site almost 9 years ago. I can't believe I wasted so much time worrying about a website! Now, I know this decision will not be for most people. But it has improved my life in numerous ways. I have more time to focus on my husband, family, and friends. I have deeper connections with those most important to me and no connection to "cyber friends." My life is drama-free and I have more time to do my hobbies and activities, like learning new recipes, researching things for work, volunteering, and reading good books.

If you still belong to social media sites, please continue if it is right for you!!! I'm not asking anyone to make the same choice that I made. The choice to go "off the grid" was deeply personal. I made the choice because I have a weakness for comparing myself and my life to what others portray on social media websites. I've learned that pictures, statements, and "happiness" people post are not always what they appear to be.

I choose to focus on learning to be content with the life my husband and I share with our families and friends. I choose to be grateful for each breath, day, adventure and memory we make. I don't need the "likes" or thumbs up or comments from cyber friends to feel validated, admired, special, or important.

You may not care at all about this post. You may not have even noticed I gave up the social media site!!! That's perfectly fine. You may wonder why I still maintain a blog, which in itself is a form of social media. I enjoy posting on a blog because I know only my family and closest friends read it. Maybe a few strangers have found their way over from Pinterest (another form of social media I continue to use because I adore finding new recipes and gardening ideas). Plus, my blog is usually only recipes, cleaning tips, or photos of an adventure my husband and I have shared. But again, these posts are usually only seen by friends or family and nothing too personal or inappropriate is revealed.

To sum up, I learned last night during a phone call with my best friend Kara that I am even more committed to staying away from that particular social media site for the foreseeable future. I am learning to be more grateful for what I do have.... instead of spending time looking at what others' have. Some day I may return to the website, when I know that my weakness for comparison has been overcome. Until that day, I encourage you to stop, take a look around at your life, and be grateful for even the littlest things. Or if you need to, go "off the grid" in your own way.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Barefoot Contessa's Hummus

I adore hummus. I love it on wraps, crackers, carrot sticks, and celery. It's just an all-around healthy, delicious snack!

In our house, we use a few different recipes for hummus - plain, roasted red pepper, and now, Barefoot Contessa's recipe that includes lemons. This recipe is by far the EASIEST and lightest to make. Plus, with a very fruitful lemon tree in our back yard, it just makes sense!

Here's what you'll need:

Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
Tahini (ground sesame seeds)
2 gloves of garlic
Food processor

Add 2 gloves of garlic to food processor. 
Pulse until finely chopped.

Add your chickpeas.


Add the tahini. 
The amount really depends on personal preference of texture and taste. 
I usually just eyeball it. You can always add more.

Squeeze the juice of 1-2 lemons and a generous pinch of salt into the food processor.

Blend until you reach the consistency you like.

Taste frequently to ensure you have enough salt and lemon juice.

 Enjoy with crackers, veggie sticks, or add to your favorite wrap sandwich!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thankful I made it through the week!

I'm thankful this week for love.

Yes, LOVE.

I am reminded and being taught anew by our loving Creator God about His love and how, if we let it, that love can love all those around us. I want to express love, BE love, and receive love well. I don't think I have ever, and may never, truly grasp the concept of unconditional love from a God I cannot see, touch, or hear. But I can choose to be open to that love and allow that love to change me, move through me, and impact others.

This week, I'm thankful for love -

The love of my Coastie (who is SO awesome and such a fantastic husband, y'all just don't even know!!),

My mom and sister

My in-laws (yes, I said! I'm so blessed to be their "baby girl")

The love of my best friends in NC, VA, and HI.

The love that creates another human life coming into family members' and friends' lives.

My furballs

And, most astonishingly, the love I am learning to have for myself... all thanks to God's unconditional love and goodness so graciously showered upon me.

Be thankful and feel the love today!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thankful for another Thursday

I was looking over several blogs I like and then I realized... I haven't posted in quite some time about Thankful Thursday!

The Coastie and I have so much to be thankful for these days. We've been going on so many adventures - both physical and spiritual. Every bump in the road of life only gives us more joy and victory as we overcome things and choose to walk in joy on the path set before us.

This week, I am most thankful for:

Galatians 6:9

Deuteronomy 32:4

Our furry little pets

New goals

Employment in these uncertain economic times


Yoga classes

Blessings coming to family members in HUGE ways



The Coastie's new-to-him truck

Supportive, encouraging family

A best friend who walks a difficult road at my side, even though she has not experienced the road herself. It is truly a blessing to have a friend like you, Liz. Thank you also to all the other women in my life who love me and pray for me.

Skype dates

The beauty of the Pacific Ocean that reminds me how big the universe is, and how truly small my circumstances are

Be thankful today: For the obvious blessings, but more importantly, for the blessings hard to see through the storm. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Things

My Coastie asked me last night if I was going to make a New Year's resolution. I shook my head and said that I wouldn't. I never make a resolution out loud because I know I will break it. Then I will feel like a failure... and who needs other people to know that about themselves? Instead, I like to just set goals in mind that I would like to achieve, but they aren't things that will make me feel bad if I don't do them or experience them. They are just extra little things I think I'd like to do or enjoy.

For example, for Christmas, we didn't buy each other gifts. *shock and awe* Instead, we bought "gifts" for our adventures together. We bought a camping tent, a sleeping bag, and an overnight pack for me. These gifts were all bought so that we could enjoy backpacking and camping TOGETHER. So, in essence, we bought togetherness.

We believe that is what Christmas and the holidays are all about. Being with people you love!

We've already taken some of the items for a test run. Here are some photos from our hike to Salmon Creek. 

Here's to new adventures!