Home for Christmas

Happy Thirsty Thursday friends!!


It’s currently Sunday. We’re just lounging around the house. We went to breakfast at Longways Diner this morning, and have no other plans really for today. Just gonna clean up around the house, maybe grab some groceries and just prepare for the week ahead. It’s 13 degrees outside here at Drum, and we got quite a few feet of snow dumped on us this week. So I’m just gonna hang out in my fuzzy socks and enjoy my Christmas decorations just a LITTLE while longer…;)


So, this post is gonna be a recap of our trip home for the holidays! This may get long, but these are some of my favorite posts to look back on. Unfortunately even though Jim had been on block leave for a bit, I had to work up until the night before Christmas Eve. We headed to MA on the 23rd, right after I got out of the office.

SOMEHOW we managed to stop only ONE time on the way. Grabbed gas, went pee and grabbed some food for the road. I swear, I must’ve played the bladder cards right that day, because I drink a TON of water everyday, but we did it!


Christmas Eve was so much fun. I started off the morning, heading to my hometown, while Jim stayed at his parents house. I’ve never been so excited to go over that bridge onto the island. I was so blessed to grow up in such a beautiful hometown, and though there is a lot of beauty in Northern NY, there is nothing like be surrounded by the ocean, and gorgeous views daily. It’s truly motivating and inspiring. The ocean brings me so much peace.


I went to lunch at the absolutely breathtaking new hotel, The Beauport with my Mom, her boyfriend Farrell and his sister. I was in so much awe of the architecture, and the stunning Christmas decor and the views from our table I didn’t take a ton of photos! 😦


After lunch, I headed back to the Wollinger house for dinner, and family time. Jim’s Aunt and Uncle came by and we had a Yankee Swap. I was pretty pumped about my gift. Dunkin’ addict over here 😉


I bought this educational game for Andrew, my little brother-in-law a few years back, and he plays it with me every chance he gets when I am over. It’s been so fun seeing how much he got out of that gift, and how much his knowledge has grown over the years. He is a math wiz.


Christmas used to be all about tradition for me. Since my Dad passed away Christmas has been veering further and further from the traditions I grew up with. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown to love the change. I now have two incredible families to celebrate the holidays with. My two brother-in-laws are still at the Santa stage of their lives, so Christmas morning is always a blast with them.


This picture is in my in-law’s living room. I used an app. Andrew totally believed me. Mikey, not so much. He sai he wasn’t falling for it 😉


Cadence loves her Papa


After Christmas we headed to my Momma’s house for round two. We are always so spoiled by the amount of gifts we receive between the Wollinger’s and the Benson’s. We are so blessed to have so many loved ones that care so much to go out of their way for us. Jim’s parents and Andrew soon followed and we all hung out at Momma B’s house, ate some good food and hung out. Christmas felt a little empty sans Grandpy and Uncle Jimmy, but I felt them there in spirit. ❤


Don’t mind the jar of queso…I got hungry…



My Mom is the cutest. Home decor GOALS.


Wouldn’t be a holiday at the Benson household without an appearance from Alex!

We ended Christmas over at my big brothers house–but not before making a quick pit stop at the Lobstah Trap Tree. Like the most Gloucester Christmas thing evah.


Kyle, Stephanie, Jim and I hung out in Kyle’s new hot tub for the rest of the night.  I am NOT a fan of winter, and didn’t think I’d be real into going into a hot tub in the freezing cold, but it’s actually amazing!!

December 26th is my little bother-in-law Mikey’s birthday!


Mikey is one of the sweetest, silliest, kids in the world. He is so curious about the world, and some of the best conversations I’ve ever had with any human being have been with this kid. I can’t believe he is 10 years old.

We started off the morning curing out Christmas hang over at Cape Ann Coffee’s. YUM


Seriously tho…Massachusetts just does breakfast better then NNY….


&Went for a ride around the Backshore before visiting my brother at the firehouse.


All my life I looked up to my brother as my hero. He entered Marine boot camp just before the attacks of 9/11/2001. I was too young to fully understand the impact of that tragic event on this country, but I knew Kyle was going to protect us. &Now I see him thriving in his role as a fire fighter. His passion to protect and serve is something I so respect. I am so proud of him. &Visiting him at work, brings me so much happiness.




Cadence loves her Uncle Kyle


That afternoon we headed up to celebrate Mikey turning 10. I loved listening to Mike and Andrew and their cousin Maggie chatting amongst themselves. A child’s perspective of the world is so pure and innocent. I don’t ever want them to grow up.


After the birthday celebrations we didn’t have anything planned, and ended up meeting up with one of my best friends, Marissa at the mall. I was helping her pick out some interview clothes and then we went to dinner. I try to stay away from chains when I’m home because there are so many great food places on the North Shore, but we REALLY missed the 99s.


Sorry not sorry for the silly Snap filters

The 27th was a REALLY warm day at home. We had some sibling time with Jim’s sisters. Went into downtown Newburyport, and had some delicious lunch at Agave, played Cards Against Humanity and waxed some body hair. #casual


Since the girls had plans for the night, we headed back to Gloucester and took Cadence for her first real walk on the beach. Good Harbor never fails me. We went just around sunset, and it was stunning. When I’m by the ocean I can feel in every inch of my bones, the work of God. He has created such beauty. Photos can’t do it justice.


“The Heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the hands of his work.” Pslam 19:1

The 28th was a LONG day. So much adventure. We started out the day at our ABSOLUTE FAVORITE BREAKFAST SPOT EVER. (&If my brother Snapchats me from there one more time, Im gonna punch him.) Red’s in Salem.

Breakfast was spent with Nana Janice and Momma B. It was so nice to spend time with them. We went to the House of the Seven Gables, surprisingly its one of the places I’ve never been to in Salem. Neither had Nana Jan! She was born and raised in Salem, and her mother was a tour guide at the house, but she still had never taken a tour! When people find out I am from the North Shore area of MA, Salem is always a topic of conversation. It truly is an awesome area. If you’ve never been, go. &The House of Seven Gables is a quality “tourist attraction.” Not kitschy by any means.


Once we got back to Gloucester, we wanted to soak up some more time in the nice weather. With all the snow and low temperatures here at Drum, Cadence hasn’t gotten many walks in, in the past few months. &We were heading to Boston that night, so we wanted to get her energy out. We took her for a walk at Ravenswood. I love walking trails. So peaceful. &Cadence was happy too!


Jimbo and I went skating at Frog Pond for date night–back where he proposed over a year later!


The rest of our time home, was spent hanging around with friends and family, and soaking up as much New England as we could.


We even spent almost 2 1/2 hours chatting it up with one of the owners of Sully’s. &He was pretty frickin Boston. Definitely will never forgot that conversation, and I hope that won’t be the last time we speak with him! Sly is one of the coolest guys around!

There is nothing better than being home for the holidays. But I am so happy to be back in our home, at Fort Drum. I miss everyone and everything back home–but Im so happy to be back in my routine, and spending time with the hubs. I can’t wait to see with 2017 has to offer, and though I can’t believe Im saying this–Im PUMPED for the Spring semester to begin!


Happy New Year everyone!


What are some of your goals going into 2017?





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Recap/Healthy Stir Fry Recipe



I hope you read that “hello” in a Mrs. Doubtfire voice. 😉 How are you all!? If you’re already a reader, welcome back to my blog–and thank you for coming back, and if not? WELCOME FRIEND. 😀 So..I’m not sure I’m ever going to come back from how awesome my last post was. Emily is so rad that I got the most readers I’ve gotten since I posted that Jimbo joined the Army! 

Thank you again, to each and every one of you who read that piece. I am extremely proud of it, and of my subject. Thank you so much again, Em for being so candid with me, and allowing me to share your story.

So, lets recap! I feel like I haven’t done one of these in a while, and I’m sorry if this post is too wordy. But whatevs.

Lets see….in case you aren’t a Facebook friend of mine, I’ll share with you some exciting news about Jimbo–he is now officially PV2 and is able to wear his rank on his uniform!! He walked into our house with this sh** eating grin on his face, and told me the news. I am soo, so happy and proud. It has been nothing but a pleasure to watch you grow into a confident man, and soldier Jimmy. I love you so much. ❤


This past week has been pretty mundane. I’ve been trying really hard to get back into not only eating healthy, but just eating at home. It’s good for the body, and the wallet. &When I’m cooking for us–I always tend to eat healthier. So that’s a bonus.


&I got this super cute little white board at the Dollar Spot at Target, and it’s been helping me plan out dinners, and stick to cooking!


Last Wednesday I made a healthy stir fry, and I’ll share that recipe at the end of the post 🙂


Thursday we had an unseasonably warm day up here in NY, and I was all excited to go for a nice longggg walk, and cook up some healthy burgers and veggies for dinner for Jimbo and I, but he ended up staying late at work.


I got super lazy, so I stayed in and opened all the windows, and chilled on the couch, watching one of my all time favs, Sweet Home Alabama. It never fails to make me want to move south.


Jim had a four day weekend, and we hung out with one of our besties. Friday night we had Taco Bell, and went bowling on post!


I tried the Quesalupa, and it was actually REALLY good. haha


Bowling was interesting. It was my first time “real bowling.” For those of my non-New England readers; We only have candle pin bowling back home. Smaller balls, and less pins. &Its way easier! I couldn’t figure out how to bowl the ball properly for a while, so I was bowling like this…


I was driving the guys INSANE with this app I found called TouchTunes. It’s actually really cool. It works the Juke Boxes in tons of locations (bars, restaurants, bowling alleys) and it will tell you the ones near you. You can chose the songs that play, see whats next, and basically what I’m getting at–is the fact that I tortured all of the bowling soldiers with Taylor Swift. 😉

I realized half way through bowling that I hadn’t drank ANY water all day! I’ve been way over on my caffeine intake, and wayyyy bad with water.


But I actually didn’t like this water…it had a weird taste to me. Am I the only one that thinks not all water tastes the same?

On Saturday, my door hanger was delivered!


It’s so adorable!! I was looking for something with a summery feel for the months ahead. I had this custom made from Jessica Sanders Keel. She was awesome. Quick with communication, and kept me in the loop! A new fav Etsy shop for me!

Also got a vanilla dip donut from Timmy Hortons, and made those burgers. So, happy day 🙂


&Yesterday Jimmy and I went on a date night! Got a little fancy, grabbed some Starbucks, did some shopping and saw a movie!


I LOVE Starbucks. That might sound strange coming from this Dunkin’s girl. But I do have a soft spot for the Teavanna teas, and the good that our local Starbucks does, like sending coffee to the troops overseas. ❤




-cooking spray

-1 tablespoon of olive oil

-1 lb of boneless chicken breast cut into small pieces

-2 cups of chopped onion

-2 cups of broccoli

-2 cups of zucchini (not in photo whoops..)

-1 cup of red bell pepper

-2 tablespoons of water

-1/2 bag of cabbage

Sauce ingredients:

-1/4 cup of low sodium soy sauce

-2 tablespoons of Hoisin sauce

-2 tablespoons of rice vinegar

-1 tablespoon of olive oil

-1 tablespoon of brown sugar


  1. Prep all veggies and chop up the chicken
  2. Add all sauce ingredients together in a bowl, and set aside

3. In a large pan, coat with cooking spray, and toss in chicken, stirring often, and cooking until white all the way through. Once cooked, set aside on a plate


Oops. Burnt some a little…

4. Coat the pan with more cooking spray, and heat one tablespoon of oil. Add in the onions, broccoli, zucchini, red bell peppers and water. Sauté over med-high heat for 3-5 min until broccoli is soft. Add the cabbage, and sauté for another 2 min or until cabbage is soft.


5. Turn down to medium heat, add cooked chicken and sauce cook for about 2 more min until heated all the way through, and stir consistently to blend it all together


& Voila! Jimmy loved it too, and he’s my picky eater–and we had lots of leftovers for lunch!



“Don’t chase love, money or success. Become the best version of yourself, and those things will chase you.”


PS- I had the sad realization yesterday that I haven’t read a book in over a month. Does anyone have any good book suggestions? Leave them in the comments! I’m a huge romance, biography, and teen fiction novel fan (I’m a loser I know) but I’m open for anything!



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I MOVED/Supah Long Catch Up Post



Long time, no wifi! I can’t even describe to you the excitement I had when the Time Warner Cable guy was blocking my garage yesterday morning! We got cable just in time for Opening Day, and now I can finally catch everybody up!

Hi, hello, hola! If this is your first time reading my blog, welcome! If you’re a long time reader…YOU DA BEST BBY. Okay…so, down to business..I moved! Jim finally finished all of his training, as I’m sure you gathered from my last post, and we emptied our storage unit, and made the move to upstate NY! I wasn’t sure how I was going to handle such a huge move. I went from being in my hometown I grew up in, two minutes from the beach and just 45 minutes from the city of Boston, to a very rural area, and of course, living on a military base is a whole separate ball game in itself, for someone who has no experience with it. I’ve gotten a tad homesick, but so far–I actually really like it! Mostly I just really like being around Jimbo all the time again..but the area is super pretty. Yay North Country!

Jim came home to help me pack up, and although we didn’t have as much time as we thought he did to spend in MA, we got to see some of our fam, but we’re lucky enough that he didn’t get stationed too far, and we can head back home for visits, and it’s not too far of a trek for our family and friends to visit us!



I did also have a super cute photo of Jim and his parents, but they were half asleep, so I promised not to post it 😉 I’m the paparazzi queen when it comes to pictures.

We haven’t done too many exciting things, because we’ve spent the past few weeks, unpacking, getting settled, I’ve been job hunting,  nesting like crazy–but some of the “super exciting” things we’ve done so far:

-Tried Tim Hortons


This may not seem like a big deal to most, but we don’t have Tim Hortons where we’re from, and How I Met Your Mother really hyped us up about it. It was ok….still prefer my Dunkies (and Heavenly Donuts) coffee. But my doughnut was pretty good!

-Popped our friend Shep’s Chipotle cherry


Yes! We have a friend! Well, for the sake of honesty, he was Jim’s friend first…they met during OSUT and both got stationed at the same place. But now this little sarcastic f***er is my friend by default! &Obviously as soon as we heard he never tried Chipotle, we HAD to take him to get a burrito.

-Jim’s first day of the “Big Army.”


Sorry Jim, I know I promised I wouldn’t show any one this “first day of kindergarten” photo, but I’m just so proud! Be lucky I didn’t make you hold a chalk board stating it was your first day. 😉 haha

-Visited the 3rd Largest Mall in the U.S in Syracuse! &Ate at Margaritaville!


I actually didn’t do too much damage here, although I’m sure that won’t hold truth for long. I never realized how large of a city Syracuse was. Still nothing compared to Boston and NYC, but definitely more Spankee fans there. *puke.*

-Bought some new home decor (although the house is still a work in progress)


-Actually did some damage at the smaller, much more pathetic Salomon Run Mall


Not sure if the sales are still going, but Pac Sun had adorable shirts 3 for $20 &Charlotte Russe had a sale buy one get one for $10 for dresses and shoes. I bought two dresses and a pair of shoes, and screwed myself. Bc I though the dresses would’ve been the buy one get one. If I purchased the shoes separate, I would’ve saved $20, or if I got another pair of shoes, I would’ve saved $10. Be wary when you see those deals!

-First Easter away from the fam!


It was very weird, and kind of didn’t feel like it was a holiday, but we had our first Easter away from home! We did get to FaceTime with everyone back home, so that helped. &I have to say, it was fun decorating and cooking (even though I almost burnt the house down a couple of times) but it would’ve been nicer to host the whole family. NEVER FEAR, I did have two very hungry, and VERY critical guys to feed.


Had to force them into this photo.

Also HOW ADORABLE IS MY NIECE!? I’m so obsessed with her, it’s ridiculous.



I was talking with a family member of mine yesterday about how social media can be used for many different things. Sometimes it tends to create drama. You see lots of political rants, cyber bullying, dirty laundry being aired out..but for me–I like to use social media as a tool to connect with family and friends I do not always see, and to socialize via inter webs with others who have similar interests, as well as most of us; I use social media to share my highlight reel. I like to keep my feeds positive. Showcase the happiness, the smiles…but sometimes, sad things happen. &I want to try to keep things real too. Recently I posted on my Facebook page, where all of my friends, are a bit more personal than on my other social media–asking for prayers for my Grandpy. He had a mild stroke. Things were looking dim, then they were looking up a little..but then the news was brought to me yesterday, that he is being sent to Hospice and will likely pass in the next few days. For most of my young adult life, I have been dealing with death. Friends, Uncles, my Nana, and my Dad. It doesn’t make this any easier. I made the decision not to go home until his service, because I do not want to see him in the state he is in now. I’m sure with sharing this on the internet, I will hear a lot of opinions on this. But for me, after seeing my Dad slowly get sicker and sicker, and saying my final goodbye to him, where he couldn’t respond..it’s not something I think I can mentally handle at this time. I want to keep it, that the last time I was with my Grumpy Grandpy–he was out to dinner with his family; my Momma, Jim, my brother and his girlfriend. He was happy spending time with the people who love and care for him. He was joking with the waitress in his Grandpy manner…and he knew he was in the presence of love. Grief plays out differently for everyone. In my fathers passing–it brought so much closeness within my family. It brought out people by the hundreds at his service. All of the lives he touched. You see who truly cares, when standing in the face of darkness. &That much has been true in this situation as well. I’ve been able to see everyone’s true nature. I’ve been reached out to, from those who truly care. My immediate family has banded together; Mom, brothers, in laws. Its a sad, and wonderful thing to see.

I will forever hold on to my memories with Grump. Running into his house as a little girl, to sit on his lap and read the comics in the paper. Tending to his tomato garden together. Endless trips to playgrounds, and lots of dollar bills snuck to me. My Grandparents taught me to read, taught me my times tables at age 5. As I got older, my Grandfather was always the first one to jump when I needed a ride, money, advice, help with homework…ANYTHING. I’m so happy that I had that relationship with him. &I am so happy, that he will no longer suffer. He will be with our maker..and our savior, Jesus Christ. I love you Grandpy. Now, and forever.


“Hey Aut–smile will ya?”-Grumpy Grandpy Shields



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