Greek Salad

I shared my brother-in-law’s tzatziki quite a while ago, so it’s about time I share another of his great recipes – Greek salad.  This is my go-to when I’m asked to bring a side dish to a cookout or party… I feel like there’s never enough healthy food at those types of gathering (just lots of chips, macaroni, buns, and sweets), so I love bringing this colorful salad chock full of veggies to balance out the meal.

I’ll start off by saying that I don’t actually make the original recipe.  The dressing is perfect the way it is – I don’t recommend any changes to that, other than doubling it for a larger salad!  But you can adjust the actual salad ingredients based on your taste.  I’m not a fan of raw onion (even purple, even using the soaking in ice water trick) or roasted bell peppers, so I just leave them out.  My sister doesn’t like cucumbers, but likes the onions, so she makes her own version.  So feel free to use the salad ingredients that you like, and leave out the ones you don’t – make it your own!

Dressing ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp olive oil (12 tbsp = 3/4 cup)
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced finely

Combine ingredients by whisking in a bowl or shaking in a Mason jar (my preferred method).  If you can let it stand at room temperature for a few hours before use, it tastes better, but if you don’t have time it’s still OK, just not as flavorful.  You can also make it the night before and store in the fridge, just put it on the counter to warm up to room temperature a few hours before use.

Salad ingredients, in proportions you’d like:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • Roma tomatoes, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • English cucumbers, sliced and quartered
  • Purple onion rings (can be soaked in cold water to decrease potency)
  • Roasted red pepper, sliced (from a jar is easiest)
  • Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Kalamata olives, pitted and cut in half or sliced

My perfect salad has 2-3 heads of Romaine, about 6 Roma tomatoes, 1/2 an English cucumber, 1 tub of pre-crumbled feta, and 1/2 jar of sliced Kalamata olives, tossed with a double recipe of dressing.

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This is my giant 4 quart Pyrex mixing bowl, which conveniently comes with a lid for easy transport to a party

As with most salads, dress right before serving so it stays crisp and not soggy.  However, 2nd day Greek salad is also a favorite in our house – I’m not exaggerating when I say the dressing gets better as it sits!  Even though the lettuce starts to get wilted the next day, our family definitely doesn’t let it go to waste!  I know you will love it as much as we do🙂

Simple Spring Table Runner

Last week, one of my friends (we were in the same squadron in Jacksonville, and now the same one again in Pensacola!) invited a bunch of ladies over to play Keno.  We were asked to bring a $5 spring-themed gift to play white elephant.  Being the Martha (as in Stewart, a nickname given by my sister that I use proudly), I couldn’t just go out and buy a gift.  But I also couldn’t convince myself that I needed to buy supplies for my gift, since I have a craft room full of junk great stuff.  As I combed through my fabric, looking for anything with a spring feel, I realized I have some really great small pieces that would work well together to make something cute for the season.  So I decided to make a table runner!  Technically I didn’t spend anything at all on my gift, but I figure the cost of all the supplies I used would have been around the $5 mark, so I was good.

Supplies:

  • Scraps of 12 fabrics (or 48 if you want to go really eclectic!)
  • 1/2 yd of fabric for backing
  • 1/2 yd fusible batting
  • 2 12.5″ pieces of ric rac (optional)
  • Coordinating thread

(1/4″ seam allowances were used on everything unless otherwise noted)

You’ll need a total of 48 3.5″ squares of fabric; in my case, I cut 4 each of 12 fabrics.  You can do pairs, or all different, or repeat colors… it’s up to you and the look you’re going for.  Once you’ve got all your squares cut out, line them up in rows of 4 to decide how to place them.  My ironing board worked really well for this.

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None of these fabrics were particularly “springy,” but together they worked well!

I went for an arrangement of diagonal stripes in rainbow order, but how you lay yours out is entirely up to you!  Some of my fabrics were directional, so I paid attention to that, too.  Then start sewing your strips of 4 together.  When your 12 strips are complete, turn to the back side and press your seam allowances in alternating directions; for instance, I pressed my first row upwards, 2nd downwards, 3rd upwards, and so on.  This seems silly, but trust me, it will make putting it together easier.

For a little interest, I inserted a strip of my backing fabric 2 rows in on either side of the runner (cut 2 strips of fabric 12.5″x2.5″ of your backing fabric, keeping in mind that you’ll need a 14″x41″ piece later).  You can start assembling your strips now, using the seam allowances you pressed earlier to line up the seams – just butt them up against each other (see photo below).  As long as they fit together tightly, you’ll have perfectly matched lines in your finished table runner.  Don’t forget to add in your extra strips of fabric, too!

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See how you can just push those two little steps together? It’s really easy to feel that as you feed it through the machine, you don’t even really need to pin it in place.

Once the table runner top is assembled, turn it over and press all the seam allowances in the same direction.  Then cut out a piece of fusible batting to be the same size and iron it onto the back of the top (this is a good project to use scraps of batting, too, since you’ll never even notice if the batting isn’t perfect).  If you want to add the ric rac detail, now is the time to do it – just a straight stitch will do the trick.  Don’t worry about the ends, they’ll be covered when you bind it.  Lay the top with batting attached right side up on top of the backing fabric, wrong side up.  Cut the backing fabric to be about 3/4″ bigger on all sides than the top (mine ended up 41″x14″).  Safety pin in place like crazy (as usual, there’s no such thing as too many pins) in the centers of the squares.  Quilt the table runner by stitching 1/4″ to each side of each of the seams between the rows.  I don’t recommend stitching across the long way, as it will cut through your accent pieces on the front and won’t look so great – plus it’s more work that’s unnecessary!  Don’t worry about backstitching at the beginning and end, as long as you go right to the edges of the top side, it will be tacked down with the binding.

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This is after the next step, but I just wanted to prove that your stitches won’t come out – they’re secured by the binding

Once all of your quilting is done, you’re on the home stretch!  The binding for this table runner is just like what we did in the Twister quilt – if you need specific directions, just click the link.  Press the raw edges of the backing in to meet the quilt top on all 4 sides.  Then fold the pressed edge in and pin in place, creating mitered corners in the process.  Stitch in place, and you’re done!

Spring Table Runner

If my table were bigger (we have a tiny dining room table), I might have kept this for myself and still bought a $5 gift!

This simple table runner doesn’t have to be only for spring – use different themed fabric prints or colors for different holidays, or one to match your dining room decor to use year-round.  It’s also fun to make something like this from remnants – that’s what my backing fabric was, a piece that I bought because I liked it but had no specific project in mind.  I think I paid about $2 for it!  Although I said the ric rac was optional, it really makes the table runner pop – and it was left over from another project, so it was a win-win.

This project is a great scrap buster, and makes an adorable, inexpensive gift.  You only need to sew straight lines, and it’s easy to make everything line up.  So don’t be afraid to try it out yourself!

Toddler Twister Quilt

One of my friends from Jacksonville (and college – funny how the military makes the world so small!) gave me a great idea when we got together before we moved to Pensacola – she thought that the game of Twister would be a great game for toddlers learning their colors, getting to know the difference between left and right, and improving their balance.  But traditional Twister is way too big for a 2 or 3 year old to use!  It’s also slippery, which can be very frustrating for someone just learning how to move their bodies in such a controlled way.  So I made a Twister quilt that’s toddler-sized, and with the following tutorial, you can too!

Supplies:

  • 1.5 yd fabric for quilt front
  • 1.5 yd fabric for quilt back
  • 1.5 yd fusible batting
  • 1/4 yd of green, yellow, blue, and red fabric
  • Heat N Bond Lite
  • Coordinating thread

Start off by cutting your quilt front piece to be 37″x46″.  This will actually be an inch too large on all sides, but it pays to have a little wiggle room later.

Now you’re going to become a circle-making machine.  Trace 24 4″ circles onto the paper side of your Heat N Bond.  You can use a paper template, but it’s soooo much easier if you can find something that’s about 4″ diameter to trace.  I have some formula cans from when Peach was little that are a smidge over 4″, but that was good enough for this project.  Cut the circles into strips of 6 and iron one strip onto each of the 4 solid color fabrics; cut out all 24 circles.

Circles

Top: 24 circles. Bottom: 6 red circles ready to be cut out.

Start placing your circles on the quilt front, using your ruler to keep them straight (you can peel the paper off the back as you place them).  Start with the green row (left side of the quilt) and place your first circle 6″ in from the top and the side.  Place the next couple of circles 2″ from the one before it.  When you run out of ruler, iron the circles in place, then line up again and continue.  When it’s time for the 2nd row (yellow), place the circles 3″ from the 1st row.  Continue with blue, then red, placing circles of the same color 2″ apart and the rows of different colors 3″ apart.  Then give the whole thing a good press to make sure the circles are secure.  Then you can iron the quilt front onto the fusible batting.

Placing Circles

Top: First row of green started. Bottom: Placing the yellow based on the green.

I’m not going to lie, the next step is the hardest part of this project.  To keep the circles in place, you need to applique around the edges.  The applique itself is easy – a simple circle isn’t hard to do.  But you have to rotate the whole quilt around each of those circles, which can be a little tough.  If you’re not up for doing a zigzag applique, at least straight stitch 1/4″ from the edge around each circle – when the quilt is used, the circles are going to take some abuse, and the Heat N Bond alone won’t hold up.

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A bit tedious, but those circles aren’t going anywhere!

As I mentioned earlier, we cut the quilt front to be a little too big.  So trim it and square it up; each edge should be 5″ from the outermost circles, making it 35″x44″.  Then, lay the quilt front on top of the wrong side of the quilt back, leaving at least 2″ around each side.  Safety pin the front to the back of the quilt, placing the pins near the circles and in the 4 corners of the quilt (so they don’t get in the way of your quilting; pinning inside the circles will leave a permanent hole because of the Heat N Bond, so don’t do it!).  There is no such thing as too many safety pins!  The more you use, the less chance there is of puckering.  Once it’s pinned, trim the backing fabric to extend 2″ beyond the front all the way around.

The quilting will be simple on this quilt – a grid that goes between each of the circles on the front.  Use your ruler to measure up and mark each of those locations around the perimeter of the quilt, then straight stitch across between each row of circles, going all the way to the edge of the quilt front.  Use a bobbin that coordinates with the back, and don’t worry about backstitching, since the binding method will secure those stitches.

Prep to Quilt

Left: Quilt front laid on the wrong side of the backing, ready to be pinned and trimmed. Right: Pinned up, marking the halfway point for each row of circles on the edge of the quilt.

Once you are all quilted, you’re on the home stretch!  I learned the binding method for this quilt here, and it’s by far my new favorite method.  Start off by pressing the edges of the backing in to meet the quilt front (in this case, 1″).  Don’t worry about the corners, just press in 1″ on all 4 sides however you want – we’ll take care of the corners in a minute.

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Press in the edges on all 4 sides – don’t worry about how the corners fold up

Then, start in the middle of any side and fold the backing up onto the front of the quilt, pinning in place every so often.  When you get to the corner, open up the pressed edge on the next side and fold over the side you’re working on all the way to the edge.  Then, fold the corner down to the edge meets the quilt front.  Fold the edge of the next side to meet the quilt front, along the crease where it was pressed, then fold again to go on the quilt front – you have created a nice mitered corner!  Pin in place, and continue with the same method all the way around the quilt.

Mitered Corner

Left: Unfold the next side, and fold up the side you’re working on. Center: Fold the corner in. Right: Fold along the crease made earlier, then fold onto quilt front and pin in place.

Once it’s pinned in place, use thread that coordinates with the back of the quilt to stitch a scant 1/4″ from where the binding overlaps the quilt front; backstitch at the end to secure.

Completed Quilt

Finished Twister quilt

And that’s it!  Doesn’t the handprint fabric make the perfect background for a Twister “board”?  And I figured black with polka dots won’t show as much dirt from being on the floor.  I recommend staying away from plain white fabric, as it will show every bit of dirt and will need to be washed all the time!  SPINNER

I sent this quilt to my friend, who has a little one between Monster and Peach’s ages – I know he’ll love it, and he’ll be learning as he plays!  I searched and searched for a Twister spinner, but couldn’t find one without buying the whole game – until I searched the app store on my phone.  So instead of a real spinner, all you need is a smart phone, there are plenty of free Twister spinner apps out there (on another note: who thinks of this stuff??).

Make one for a toddler you love, and teach them the fun of Twister!

Fudge Filled Peanut Butter Bars

One of Radar’s favorite treats from childhood is this decadent, rich, gooey concoction.  I asked his mom for the recipe, which she sent to me happily (it was actually from a box of cake mix), but apparently he hasn’t asked for them since he was a kid, because they don’t even make one of the ingredients any more!  Luckily, I was able to find a copycat recipe, distributed by Pillsbury when they discontinued the product, and Radar said they were just like he remembered them as a kid!

Fair warning, do not make a double batch of these – they are far too rich to have that many in the house!  I made 2 batches to send to him for the flights home from Japan, and in 2 8-hour legs with 15 chocolate and peanut butter lovers on the plane, there were leftovers!

Ingredients for crust:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs

Ingredients for filling:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Combine crust ingredients, stirring by hand until dough holds together.  Press 2/3 of dough into bottom of ungreased 9×13 baking pan.  Prepare filling by combining chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and butter in a saucepan and melting over low heat until smooth; remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.  Spread filling over dough in pan, and top with remaining crust (crumble it with your hands over the filling).  Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, and cool before cutting into 36 bars.

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Yum!!

Since I mailed them to him, I actually just cut the contents of the baking dish in half and sent them as slabs so they wouldn’t be all crumbs when they got to Japan.  They will also keep in the freezer (which is where Radar kept them for a month), so if you find you just can’t finish them, pop them in there for a month or two until they’re all gone.

This treat will satisfy any peanut butter and chocolate lover’s sweet tooth!

Fish Laundry Hamper

When we moved, I decided to go with an under the sea themed room for the kids.  It’s gender neutral, since they share a room, and it’s cute, but I’ll be able to adapt the decorations to grow up with them.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of the DIY ideas I’ve completed to create this theme.

I found these cute fish laundry bags on Pinterest, but knew I could do them cheaper and in the colors I wanted.  I also designed mine so that the tails aren’t open to clothes – imagine how hard it could be to get some teensy toddler socks out of the tips of those tails!  I made my fish on the smaller side, since the kids’ clothes are going to stay small for a while.  And I made 2 so that they don’t get too heavy for the kids to help out bringing them to the laundry room.

To make each fish laundry bag, you’ll need:

  • 1 yd fabric
  • Scraps of white and black fabric
  • Heat N Bond Lite
  • Scraps of lightweight interfacing
  • 30 in 1/4″ ribbon
  • Fish Hamper Pattern
  • Coordinating thread

Cut out the following in your main fabric:

  • 2 isosceles triangles 14.5″ wide at the base and 16.5″ tall
  • 4 tail pieces from pattern
  • 1 rectangle 16.5″x27.5″

Trace 2 of each of the eye circles onto the paper side of the Heat N Bond, iron the smaller circles onto the black fabric scrap and larger circles onto the white fabric scrap and cut out.

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The fish is already staring at you, before he’s even a fish!

The rectangular piece is going to be the top of the bag.  Press it in half longways (hotdog-style) and iron the eye pieces about 3″ from the fold and 3″ from the raw edge on each side.

Eye Diagram

Don’t you love my professional drawing?

Iron a scrap of lightweight interfacing on the back side of each eye (unfold it so it’s directly behind the eye) and applique both the inner and outer circles.  If you need a refresher on applique, check out my post here.

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Front and back of appliqued eye

Keep the rectangle unfolded.  Place the short ends wrong side together and stitch with 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 1″ opening at the center (1/2″ on each side of the fold you pressed in earlier – marking it makes it MUCH easier).  Press the seam open, and stitch  the seam allowances down around the opening that was left.  Fold the rectangle back down, and stitch all the way around the top, 1/2″ from the fold, to create a casing for a drawstring.  See photos below for a visual; you may also recognize this method from the camera lens case tutorial.

Draw String Casing

Left: Make a tube with a 1″ opening in the center. Center: Stitch the seam allowance down around the opening. Right: Create a 1/2″ tube along the fold.

Place the two large body triangles right sides together and stitch along the two long sides.  Trim the corner as pictured below, turn right side out, and press flat.

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Tip of the tail, to show trimming

Create the tail pieces by placing two tail triangles (right sides together) and stitching along one side (1/4″ SA).  Fold open and press wrong sides together, then stitch the other two sides together with 1/2″ seam allowance.  If you have pinking shears, you can cut the raw edges with them for a fun look!  Otherwise, a simple trim with regular scissors will do.  Repeat for the second fin.  Then attach to the bottom of your body piece, seam to seam, with a zigzag stitch.

Tail

Left: Stitch triangles along one side. Center: Press open, then wrong sides together, and stitch other 2 sides. Right: Zigzag stitch fins to tail.

Turn the finished head piece eyes in, and insert the top of the body piece inside, raw edges matching.  Pin in place, and stitch the two together with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  You may have a bit of puckering, and that’s ok, just try to get it as even as you can.  Turn the body inside out and iron the seam you just sewed towards the tail.

Attach Top

Left: Attaching the head to the body. Right: Iron the seam towards the tail.

Turn right side out, insert ribbon into the casing, and secure with a knot.

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Use a safety pin to thread the ribbon through the casing

And voila!  You’ve created an adorable but very useful fishy laundry bag!

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So cute, if I do say so myself!

I haven’t hung ours yet, but Radar is going to put some hooks on the wall, which will make them easy to hang or take down, and they’ll look like a fish on a hook – how cute!  As you can see, I went with teal and orange for the kids’ new room, but of course these can be done in any color, or even a fun pattern!

Skull Caps

Radar’s crew in his old squadron was very tight.  They love flying together, and all got along really well.  They also tracked several subs under rainbows… so that became their crew symbol.  Radar asked me during deployment if I could make his crew skull caps to wear on their missions – in rainbow colors!  It took me a while to figure out how to make them, but I think they turned out pretty well, and the crew ended up wearing them on all their missions!

My inspiration came from this website, but I had to stew on the project for a bit before I decided exactly how I wanted to put my own together.  These caps would work well for under a helmet (such as for a pilot or riding a motorcycle) or as a cap for a nurse in the OR, and they’re relatively simple to put together.

The trickiest part of making something like this is sewing on a curve.  I found a great tutorial here, but unfortunately it only works with a perfect circle, which this is not!  But I found that with a lot of pinning, I could make it work pretty well.  I also opted to use my serger so that all the internal seams were finished, but I’ll include instructions for using a sewing machine as well.

The directions below are to make the whole cap out of one fabric – but you’ll see, I used different colors for the bands so that each crew member would have their own.  You could use different fabric for any of the pieces, or keep it all the same… whatever strikes your fancy.

Supplies:

Start by cutting out all of your pieces.  Cut 2 of the pattern above, but cut them as mirror images (either cut one with the pattern right side up and one with it upside down, or fold your fabric and cut both out at once).  Cut a piece 5″x18″ for the top of the cap.  The last cut is a 2.5″x35″ piece, but you can also make it out of two 2.5″x18″ pieces sewn together; press this piece in half lengthwise.  You can make the band the same color or a different color if you want it to be more whimsical.

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The band here is actually 2 pieces sewn together

Serge the short straight edges of the side pieces.  If you don’t have a serger, you can fold the edge to the wrong side 1/4″ and stitch in place.

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This finishes off the back of the cap

The next step is the hardest.  Pin the 5″x18″ piece  along the curve of one of the side pieces, right sides together.  Repeat for the other side.  Then start at the front of one of the pinned curves, serge from front to back on the side piece, curve around the tail of the top piece, and go back up towards the front on the other side – but be CAREFUL!  You definitely cannot let those pins go through your serger!  If you don’t have a serger you sew in the same order (front of one side, around the back, and back up the other side), but turn the edges in on the top piece as you go around it.

Cap Construction

Left: Starting the pinning process. Second: One side pinned. Third: Both sides pinned. Right: Serged.

The last step is adding the band to tie it!  Turn the cap right side out and pin the pressed band seam raw edges together, lining up the center of the band with the center of the cap.  Serge from the tip of one side of the band around to the tip of the other, curving at the ends to make them a point; tie a knot in the tail on each side and trim the threads.  On a sewing machine, turn the edges of the band in and stitch all the way around.

Completed Caps

Left: The serging make the inside nice and finished. Center: The cap is done. Right: 12 of them!

I made 12 for Radar’s crew, in all different colors so they would know whose is whose.

Model Cap

Sorry for the terrible selfies! I pretty much never take them😛

These caps whip together in about 10 minutes, so you can make a bunch!

Buying A House Alone

I’m back from my hiatus!  Before I get back to my craftiness, I wanted to write a post for my fellow milspouses about the process I went through buying our house while Radar was deployed, before I forget all the great advice I have to share🙂

Last deployment, I bought a car.  I walked into the Honda dealership with my power of attorney in hand, and they never questioned me (in fact, I don’t even know if they made a copy of it!).  It was made much easier by the USAA car-buying service – if you are in the military, I highly recommend using this tool to cut out the haggling process!

This deployment, we knew going in that I would likely be buying a house while Radar was gone – we didn’t want to lose out on the perfect house, even if it was available earlier than his orders were cut.  Once again, I was armed with my POA to help me get the job done.

To start off with, here’s another plug for USAA – they have a program called Movers Advantage, where they’ll set you up with a certified (as in, they take 2 classes a year and have to jump through 100 hoops to keep USAA and you happy) real estate agent.  If you have any issues where your agent isn’t doing exactly what you need, USAA will step in and help you out!  But wait – there’s more!  They will also PAY YOU at closing, just for using their service!  So, yeah, it’s pretty much a win-win if you’re in the military.

So once we got our amazing real estate agent through USAA (if you’re looking in the Pensacola area, Bob Shell is amazing!), we needed to get prequalified for our loan.  Since we have everything else with USAA, we were a little hasty to jump on the USAA home loan bandwagon.  But, turns out, they didn’t have the best rate.  So don’t be afraid to shop around… we ended up with Navy Federal Credit Union, who gave us an amazing interest rate; I even called USAA to see if they’d match it, and they told me to take it from NFCU while it was available.  We did have one glitch later, where they changed the rate on us, but I had our promised rate in writing and they honored it for us.

A note here on loan types.  If you are active or retired military, I highly recommend looking at the VA loan that should be available to you.  The VA loan requires $0 down payment, and no mortgage insurance is required (think $500+ per year in savings over a traditional loan).  There is a funding fee, but they’ll roll that into the loan, so it won’t be due at closing (ours worked out to about 2.25% of the original loan – not too bad).  In every other way, it’s like a traditional loan – so if you qualify for it, I suggest you use it!  For us, it allowed us to keep the money we had saved for a down payment fluid, and we’ll be using it for a few renovations on the new house this spring.

So, once you are pre-approved for a loan, the fun begins!  Whether you’re moving to the other side of the state, like we did, or the other side of the country, let technology be your friend.  Radar and I both searched independently, using suggestions from our realtor and Zillow, to see if we came up with the same properties.  When we found one we both liked, we’d use Google maps to get a birds-eye view and street view of the surrounding area, to get a feel for the neighborhood – surprisingly, this eliminated a lot of homes for us!  When the time comes to physically visit houses, take pictures and videos.  Use email, Google drive, and YouTube to share what you see with your spouse – I admit, I did a terrible job with this and had to face Radar’s frustration because of it!  You may feel silly, but your agent should understand that you’re making a gigantic decision by yourself, so any way your spouse can be involved is helpful.

When it’s time to make an offer, once again the internet comes to the rescue.  Radar and I were able to sign our offer (and counter-offer, and counter to the counter-offer, and 3 rounds further) completely online.  No printing and scanning, no hassle at all – just a few clicks and we were on the way to buying our perfect house!  If you have a realtor familiar with the military lifestyle, they should be able to accommodate you.

The power of attorney was great for getting the ball rolling, but eventually the bank did need Radar’s direct approval to take out a loan in his name – it was just one piece of paper he had to sign and mail to me, basically an addendum to the POA for taking out a mortgage.  He also had to get a letter from his CO, stating that he was going to have a job in the foreseeable future to pay off said loan.  Other than that, I did everything else myself.

Come closing, I brought my original power of attorney and all the other paperwork the bank required.  I also wish I’d had a hand massager – signing closing documents for 2 people is no joke!  I had to sign for Radar with his FULL name, then add “by” my FULL name, and “power of attorney”… about 30 times.  Not even exaggerating, my hand was sore by the end of it!  But they handed me the key when I was done, and I had successfully bought a house by myself while my husband was on deployment!

On a side note, I want to give a shout out to all the spouses who survived military life before the internet.  I can’t even imagine searching for a house without Zillow and Google, traveling to a town you’ve never been to and buying a house within the same trip without GPS or smart phones, and buying a house on behalf of your spouse without email and YouTube to show him where all of his money is about to go.  Those people are a lot braver than I am!  I don’t think I could have hacked the Navy life back then – you have my utmost respect!!

So, to sum it all up, here are the basics of what I learned from buying a house while my husband was deployed:

1. Power of attorney is everything.  You can’t do anything without it (unless you are independently wealthy and don’t need your husband to co-sign the loan with you), so get it before he leaves!

2. Use the tools available to you as a military spouse: USAA Movers Advantage, VA loans, YouTube, email, digital signatures, etc.

3. You will need a couple documents from your spouse, so be sure to find out from the bank what those are early on to give enough time to get them.  And keep track of everything the bank tells you in writing – it may come in handy.

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Proud owners of a new house!

If you are embarking on the homebuying journey solo, good luck!  I know you can do it, and I hope my advice helps out!