May 10, 2021

How To Survive Military Life as a Significant Other

Salt Lake City, UT, USA


Relationships are based on four principles: respect, understanding, acceptance, and appreciation. ~Mahatma Gandhi

When you and your significant other make the decision to join the military there is a lot of behind the scene decisions that others looking from the outside in aren't aware of. Most people think of the military as easy, the president is in charge of you, you make a lot of money, lots of deployments, marrying young, multiple kids, and PCSing to the most amazing destinations. While some of these things might be true, there is a lot more to unpack. So today's blog post is about how to survive military life as a MILSO. 

Before we became an official military family I got to live the lifestyle through my mom. My dad went through multiple deployments and I was lucky enough to live close to my mom during those times and get to drop everything and be there for her when needed. Deployments teach spouses to be independent. To be strong, to learn things they never knew they would need to, to be smart with money, and to really be okay with being "by yourself" for multiple months out of the year. My husband went to basic and tech school while I was pregnant and just barely made it before our baby was born so I've lived through the experiences I'm sharing today. 

How To Survive Military Life as a Significant Other

1. Learn the acronyms

Aka all the "military lingo" If there is one funny thing I have learned from this military life is that Military officials love using acronyms for literally EVERYTHING. Each branch has its own specific abbreviation that you will have to learn. For us, the Air Force acronyms were what we needed to learn (Such as AFB "Air Force Base") There are also abbreviations that all branches use which is what I'm going to list down below:

MILSO: Military Significant Other
PCS: Permanent Change of Station
BAH: Basic Allowance for Housing
ASVAB: Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
BAS: Basic Allowance for Subsistence
DITY: Do-it-yourself (move)
DEERS: Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System
DFAS: Defense Finance and Accounting Service
BX & PX: Base Exchange & Post Exchange (tax-free stores inside the military base)

For more acronyms, you can go to the military benefits website for a huge list. Knowing these abbreviations will help you communicate with different departments within your military branch and commanders and such (especially if your significant other is deployed). 

2. Find yourself a new hobby

When it comes to being a MILSO, as we previously explained, life can get a little lonely. Your spouse might be deployed for 90 days to a couple of years at a time. Or it could just be the long hours that your spouse is working at their base and you only really get to spend quality time with them during the weekend. Finding something that you are passionate about is going to keep you sane. Some people have always been "creative" since they were born. While others have to really dig deep and see what hobbies they could try and be passionate about. Me for example, I enjoy baking, blogging, thrifting, organizing, crafting, and doing research ( I know that this is a random hobby but I truly enjoy researching different topics my favorite being: Nutrition)

So next time your spouse is gone for a little while finding something that you have been wanting to try and giving it a go should be on top of your list! Here are a few ideas for you to add to your list: 

  • Blogging/Youtuber (so many possibilities here)
  • Social Media Influencer (same for this one, you can be a fashion or fitness influencer)
  • Crocheting
  • Learn how to play an instrument
  • Start an Etsy Store
  • Deep Clean your entire home and sell things on eBay
  • Learn how to cook
  • Learn how to bake
  • Learn a new language
  • Learn how to dance
  • Learn how to play a sport
  • Go on a thrifting adventure
  • Take a class on Skillshare
  • Learn a new workout routine
  • Take a photography class
  • Make a list of books to read for the year and complete it
  • Start a small business from your home
  • Explore your town 

Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation. ~Kahil Gibran

3. Keep a Journal

A journal is a place to clear your mind. To write down what’s clouding your thoughts and keeping you up at night. To help with conflict resolution and to give you solutions. It also helps with memories for years to come. There has been plenty of research on how journaling helps those with anxiety and depression. It helps people write down things that they might not want to say or someone face to face. One study specifically mentioned how older adults with ongoing medical conditions and anxiety found that journaling helped to decrease their mental stress load and increase their overall well-being. Just like one of my favorite songs, a journal is thinking aloud. It makes you more self-aware. It helps to fight your inner demons. To face your fears! (taken from my blog post on why you should keep a journal in 2021).

Keeping a journal while your significant other is also a great idea to look back at how you were feeling while they were gone and what memories you might have made. 

4. Make Traditions

Keeping traditions is one of our favorite things to do as a military family! There are so many fun ideas on Pinterest that you can find and create your own version for your family. Here in the Bertelli household, we love to spend time at home, making food, playing board games, watching movies, or going for adventures in our town. Here is a list of ideas for traditions:

  • Create a "bucket list" and complete it as a family
  • take a picture as a family in every new location you PCS to then save it as a digital scrapbook
  • buy a few of your favorite board games and have a game night with treats every week (or however many times a month you would like)
  • volunteer for a great cause as a family
  • create holiday traditions, whether it be for Christmas, Halloween, or the 4th of July, create some fun traditions that go with those holidays. 

5. Family Support

Having family there for you during the most difficult times of your deployment will make such a difference! There a few memories that come to mind when it comes to my family. My dad was deployed one year and my mom called me late a night saying that she was not feeling good and that I need to take her to the doctors. I dropped everything and drove 45 minutes to her house to help her out... My mama has always been there for me throughout the many stages of my life so I have to be there for her as much as I can. The same goes for when I was pregnant last year and my husband was gone for tech school. I had to get IVs quite often and luckily my brother-in-law lives next to me and was able to take me to the emergency room so I could feel better. 

So yes, family support is so so important! There are times that you might be PCSing to a different state and far away from family but I cannot express this enough: communicate and keep in touch with your family members! It will help with your insanity as well. 

God chose the strongest, the bravest, and the most courageous… and He made them military spouses.

There you have it, if you have found this information useful I encourage you to share it with others or even pin it on your Pinterest for future reference. You can follow some of my military-related Pinterest boards for more ideas.

March 18, 2021

The perfect SLC, Utah Date Night Idea

Salt Lake City, UT, USA

As we head towards the end of this pandemic (fingers crossed) I’m sure you have been making lists of date night ideas for when all the places in Salt Lake City open up for dine-in or for in-person experiences... Well, guess what? Same!

My husband and I never got to celebrate our anniversary last year because we were right in the thick of it all... So we just sorta skipped it and decided to go on a fancy date when things started to open up. Around April 10th the governor announced that restaurants and other businesses were able to open for dine-in and some might not even require masks. 

The perfect SLC, Utah Date Night Idea:

In order to plan the perfect date night in Salt Lake City, you need to decide on a couple of things: main course, dessert, attractions, and attire. There are so many delicious restaurants downtown and it honestly depends on your price point for the whole night.

1. Pick your theme!

Do you want to dress up fancy? Do you want to dress down? More of a casual look? It’s up to you and your significant other! We opted for dressing up this evening because it had been a while since we got all dressed up for a fancy date.

couple at hale center theater
 9900 Monroe St, Sandy, UT 84070

2. Decide on your Restaurants 

Once again, Salt Lake City is full of amazing restaurants! You can go with places like HSL, Sappa, or really go all out and choose Ruth’s Chris! So we went with the latter and oh my lord! One of our favorites and the service is always amazing! 

 418 E 200 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

3. Decide on dessert!

One of my husbands and I favorite things is to eat delicious desserts. We love finding hidden gems and local favorites such as Gourmandise. This evening we decided to go with the Hatch Chocolate family. Which is a cute little shop up in the avenues famous for the little chocolatiers. PS: try their famous hot chocolate! You’re welcome ;) 

376 8th Ave, Salt Lake City, UT 84103

4. Explore the town!

Downtown is just beautiful! There are so many cultural things you can check out. If you are a religious person I highly recommend visiting the cathedrals. Just the stained glass art on the inside and the architecture craftsmanship. I’m always in awe when I enter this building. But I grew up catholic so I’m drawn to this type of architecture. My recommendation is to visit at least one old building downtown and learn a little bit more about its history. 

331 E S Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

5. Go down memory lane...

One of my husbands and I favorite things to do is really go down memory lane when we are out on our date. We talk about songs that remind us of certain times our lives together (we usually end up listening to said songs) we also talk about goals and ambitions as well as look back at how much we’ve grown as individuals and as couples. 

What do you think? Are you inspired to go on a fun SLC date adventure?

February 15, 2021

My favorite Zero Waste - Earth Friendly products on Amazon in 2021

United States

It’s no surprise that I’m an advocate for saving our planet. You can read all about fast-fashion, and zero waste, and how I did a no-shopping challenge in my previous posts. Although I’m currently working on a list of small businesses that are doing their part in helping to save the earth and will publish it here soon, today's blog post is all about my favorite Amazon finds. 

My favorite Zero-Waste-Earth-Friendly products on Amazon in 2021

1.  Metal Straws 

Plastic straws are going to be the end of the ecosystem and marine wildlife. It contributes to polluting the ocean and its decomposing time is about 200 years. (can you believe that? 200 years!) No of us would be alive to see a decomposed straw so since we are all about making the difference here at Nina Talks I really think that you should switch to metal straws ASAP! Think about these factors next time you are questioning whether you should buy a metal straw or not: 

  • Convenient and can be used multiple times a day
  • easy to carry with you on the go
  • makes your beverage taste even better
  • and you know the whole "saving the earth-thing" 
Here are my favorite Metal Straws finds on Amazon: 

2. Books about going Zero Waste

It's no secret that knowledge is power, so when it comes to learning about going zero-waste, I highly recommend you check out different books on the subject. Reading as well as doing your own research on it besides what you find on the internet. There are a lot of books that I recommend and that is being added to my "to read" list: 


3. Reusable Bags: Grocery, produce, and ziplock

I would say that this is is one of the easiest switches yet a lot of people still have a hard time with it. Is it because grocery stores have conveniently put plastic produce bags everywhere and still use plastic bags at checkout? Or is it because even though they bought the reusable bags, they often forget them at home?

Did you know that plastic bags take about 500 years or more to decompose? Here are my favorite options for reusable bags:

4. Zero Waste Cleaning Products

One of my goals for 2021 is to go completely zero waste with my cleaning products. Out of all the "zero waste categories," this one seems to be the harder to make the switch. As a stay at home mom, I'm constantly cleaning my home. My three kiddos sure keep me busy in that department! There are a lot of zero waste brands out there, or you could even make your own cleaning products with things you can find at your local store. Its all about what you are comfortable doing. 

Here are few products that I found to help you out:

5. Zero Waste Beauty Products

Now this section could have it's own blog post because there is so much to talk about! Nowadays brands seem to be pushing towards the right direction when it comes to zero waste, raw beauty, human tested products and so on. Which I plan on highliting those brands very soon! For now, we are just going to go over some of the zero waste beauty finds on Amazon that will you help you make a difference:

I sure hope that you enjoyed this list of Zero Waste products I have found on Amazon. Remember, every little bit counts. Don't beat yourself up for not being perfect at Zero Waste because guess what? I'm not perfect either! If you are even researching this topic and finding ways to save the planet you are doing a great job. Keep at it! I'll leave you with this quote below: 

Disclaimer: Nina Talks Blog earns a small comission from purchases made from these links. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting my blog! 

January 27, 2021

Why it’s important to keep a journal in 2021

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth

Journaling has always been a big part of my life. All thanks to my mama, who gave me my first journal when I was seven years old. 

I remember coming home after school, laying belly down on my bed with my journal in front of me. There I would write my little heart out... about my day, about my favorite quotes, lyrics, my love for dogs... Aw! To be young again!

Why it’s important to keep a journal in 2021

A journal is a place to clear your mind. To write down what’s clouding your thoughts and keeping you up at night. To help with conflict resolution and to give you solutions. It also helps with memories for years to come. 

There has been plenty of research on how journaling helps those with anxiety and depression. It helps people write down things that they might not want to say oro someone face to face. One study specifically mentioned how older adults with ongoing medical conditions and anxiety found that journaling helped to decrease their mental stress load and increase their overall well-being.

Just like one my favorite songs, a journal is thinking aloud. It makes you more self-aware. It helps to fight your inner demons. To face your fears!

Another one of my favorite purpose of keeping a journal is write down your GOALS you would like to accomplish. It is also a place for you to write down your bucket list

If you like being creative and are a type-A personality  there is even a new trend of journaling called bullet journal: 

bullet journal is a method of personal organization developed by designer Ryder Carroll. The system organizes scheduling, reminders, to-do lists, brainstorming, and other organizational tasks into a single notebook.

Journaling can be accomplished by either using pen and paper or electronically such a an online blog, a note app on your phone, voice app (where you say your thoughts into the recorder) or email account. It honestly doesn’t matter how you go about journaling, it’s the end result that matters!

Imagine your future children reading your journal entries and getting a glimpse into what your world was like?

A couple of journals from famous people:

The Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci recorded his thoughts in a series of papers and notes, which was then put together after his death.

One of the most renowned composers of all-time, Ludwig van Beethoven kept numerous notebooks, journals and letters which provided an indication of the man behind the compositions.

My only hope is that you are inspired to start journaling today. Even if you start small, just give it a chance. Your mind and soul will thank you later!  

January 24, 2021

Brownies four ways : blondies, traditional, avocados, and beans

For today’s “chef would be proud series” we are going to share with you four different versions of brownies! 

If you aren’t familiar with what a brownie is well think of it as a small square of rich chocolate cake, typically containing nuts. It has a cake-like texture but a little bit dense and fudgy.

Brownies four ways:

This traditional brownies recipe found on blendtec “fresh blenders” cookbook it’s definitely a winner in my book. I’ve had my blender for about 7 years now and it came with this cookbook. Out of all the recipes I’ve tried I keep coming back to these brownies because they are simple and to the point! The only change I’ve made is add 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1 cup of granulated sugar instead of 1 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.

Blender Brownies:

3/4 cup of butter (melted)

2/3 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

3 large eggs

1/2 cup of cocoa powder

1 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1 tsp of vanilla extract 

7/8 cups of all-purpose flour 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add butter and chocolate chips to blender and blend for about 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients and “pulse” if you also have a blendtec or beat for about 2 or so minutes until batter is well combined. Pour into a greased 9x9 pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Initially I was very skeptical of this oats and black beans recipe. After I got over the thoughts of beans in something sweet the taste was actually delicious! The only few tweaks on this recipe would be to really blend the beans first (in a blender or food processor) and also blend the oats a bit more. Other wise it’s pretty good! I hope you give this black beans brownies by chocolate covered Katie a try! 

The only down of this recipe is that it wasn’t moist enough to my linking. I’m going to tweak the ingredients a bit to see if I can make it moist but I still think that you should try the best blondie recipe by sugar spun run! 

Next to the traditional brownies this avocados recipe has got to be one of my favorites! It’s so silky and moist with a shine to it. My kids loved it and kept coming back for more. You should most definitely try this avocados recipe by detoxsinista! 

Watch the YouTube video below so you can see me attempting to make these yummy recipes:

What do you think? Are you a brownie person?

January 22, 2021

Why you should get a library card in 2021

Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Photo: STLJB/Shutterstock

 Why you should get a library card in 2021

One of my fondest memories as a kid was going to the library to pick out books... Reading, much like journaling, came naturally to me. 

I distinctly remember getting my first “big kid book” for my 10th birthday: Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone.

It was right when it came out so all of my friends were reading it too. Something about curling up under the blankets and slowly flipping through each page and fully emerging myself into the fantasy that did it for me. Speaking of fantasy, adventures and fantasies were my favorite genres! 

Growing up, my school had a huge library, but so did my city. Which gave me a lot of choices when it came to books.

                                                          Salt Lake City, Utah public library

Being a kid and going to the library was everyone’s favorite thing to do back then. You could rent out a VHS, check out different books, read magazines, look at maps, attend classes, and just fully experience the library. Oh! My favorite part is that my local library even had a “movie snacks section” so my sister and I would pick a movie and grab snacks for our family movie night. 

Nowadays, you either have an electronic device where you listen to audiobooks or your parents have different streaming services for you to pick from (Netflix, Hulu, and so on). So it makes it where reading an actual book is not as “exciting” as it used to be. 

Naturally, in this day and age libraries are becoming more of a “school chore” for kids. Instead of wanting to go there and browse, they have to go there to check out a book for school.

2021 should be different. If you take anything at all from your 2020 experience is that you should be living life to its fullest and do things that either put you outside of your comfort zone or make you happy. Guess what? Getting a library card from your local library might just do that!

I encourage you to go to your local library’s website. Create an account and request a library card. It’s a super easy process.

From there, you should make a plan with your child to check out books once a month. Or even rent out classic movies to watch together (now that would be a fun family night) 

So There are many perks of having a library card:
  • Access to a database for research on what matters such as agriculture, academic, business, and so on
  • Creativebug, which is a website with multiple craft videos and tutorials
  • Explora, it provides a safe and trustworthy environment for students to look up facts for research papers
  • Libby, which is an app for ebooks and audiobooks
  • Hoopla, and app that lets you stream videos, read ebooks from everywhere 
  • Rosetta Stone, which is a program that teaches you a new language 

Although this list of resources is great, you should still check your local library website as they might offer different perks.

I want you to encourage your child to read. To fall into that fantasy (Logan and Lia will stay up for hours in their room reading their books). If they want to watch a movie, watch a classic with them that teaches them a lesson. We recently watched “the page master” and the kids loved it! 

So go on, get that library card. Plan a weekly activity with your kids that involve the library books or movies you checked out. 

I’m telling you, your kids will love it!