Thursday, February 28, 2013

How to survive your spouse’s grad school

  1. Find something to do on Friday nights, Saturday mornings, weekday evenings & Sunday afternoons.

    Not ALL of those study times will come in the same week. But if you and your partner used to ‘always have special day something activities’ prior to grad school - think again. Study groups, tests, projects, trip to the library/campus/lab etc will always take precedence of waffles afternoons or Friday happy hour.

    Write a blog, meet up with friends, go to the gym, take up a hobby, if you are now poor go to the library, learn to coupon, single parents your kid(s) etc.

  2. Make friends with your spouses grad school friends

    Bake the class brownies, run carpool sometimes, and have them over for dinner. They’ll be your husband/wife’s friends, best to make them your friends too. If you’re lucky they’ll be about your age.

  3. Make friends with your spouses grad school friends’ spouses.

    Only they know what you’re going through. Hopefully there will be some who you can really relate to whether your a newlywed, parent to 2, or ‘I just relocated to this whattheheck city’. You guys can roll your eyes together when the grad school gang starts talking shop while out to dinner on non study Friday night.

  4. Support them!

    Grad school isn’t easy so be supportive! Increase your chore load around the house when they are busy cramming. Make dinner and enjoy eating together for an hour since it may be the best together time you get each night. Make sure they have laundered professional clothes to wear - since grad school won’t allow PJs and sweats in class like undergrad.

  5. Budget

    If you have not already be the new accountant of the family. While your partner in life slaves away over a textbook larger than a small child you may now be the one who is responsibly managing the fact that you may have just cut your income in half – or more. Hopefully you’ve prepared yourself for this new way of life with potentially less money.

  6. Count down the days!

    Your spouse’s grad school isn’t forever. Day dream what you’ll do with their first big paycheck. I mean… get ready to celebrate their achievements together after graduation! For us that means Hawaii!


    When Tony started grad school in 2011 we had just moved to Richmond from North Carolina. I (the spouse) had no job, and we knew nobody. We knew nothing about the city or anything to do. We crossed our fingers, looked at our savings, applied for loans and hoped for the best with 2.3 years to make it through. Now in 2013 we know lots of great people, actually manage free time together a lot with even time to socialize. I have a great job and are in the less than 9 months home stretch to graduation. Tony is getting super grades and we aren’t broke. We now actually even have some income – and can budget to gear back up for paying off the loans! ;)

Best of luck!

2012 yearbook cover

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


We made a very quick and easy recipe the other night. Vegetarian, vegan, delicious, easy on the budget, healthy… the works. We used this video (  but had to improvise since we couldn’t find a printed version of the recipe. We may have had to watch it twice going “is that a bowl of shredded coconut or white rice, I can’t tell”… it was rice.

1 cup red lentils
4 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup fresh grated ginger
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 small chopped onion
2 tbsp cumin
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
small handful of chopped cilantro
1 medium diced cucumber
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Serve with:
white rice
Bring 4 cups of water with 1 tsp of turmeric to a boil in a large pot over high heat. Add 1 cup of red lentils. Stir only once. Do not over stir this while cooking. Cook on medium per package directions until soft. Ours took about 12 minutes. Grate in ginger.
Meanwhile add 2 tbsp of coconut oil to a pan. Add chopped onions over medium/high heat and simmer until tender and clear. Then add chopped tomatoes and cumin. You could add other ingredients or vegetables here (bell pepper, chick peas, green peas, chicken?) if you wanted. Cook until tender. Add chopped cilantro.
 daal 3
Dice cucumber and combine with red wine vinegar. This is sort of a little side salad. You could add something else to this cool part of the dish if you like.

Combine onion/tomato mixture with done lentils. Serve with rice, cilantro garnish and cucumber. Cucumber mixture can be eaten separately or all mixed in together!

You've made daal!

daal 1
 daal 4

Monday, February 18, 2013

Good Haul

I feel great whenever I make a great trip to Fresh to Frozen. Yep we still shop there. Today was a particularly good day since I left with what I describe as mostly healthy. For us I know we’re more likely to eat well if we stock our kitchen with wholesome food.

We got all this haul for $31!

grocery haul

  • organic tomato sauces x 3
  • cans of tomatoes x 3
  • spaghetti
  • organic mac & cheese x 2
  • organic strawberry cereal kashi bars
  • peanut butter crackers
  • organic stuffing
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 4 onions
  • pesto
  • 1 qt blueberries
  • gum x 2
  • milano cookies – heck at $1.80 I couldn’t say no!
  • huge box of cheerios

Fresh to Frozen (aka grocery salvage) is very hit or miss however today was a hit! There were plenty of other great buys I passed up on like peaches, cucumbers, bread, tons of canned and frozen food. That place is all over the place. It’s too bad every city doesn’t have one.

I wouldn’t call this a normal full weeks shopping trip but since this week’s only shopping trip so far we’ll see how long we can make before another trip. We already had some things at home like fresh bananas, apples, potatoes, sweet potatoes, typical pantry items, as well as milk, bread, yogurt & salad. Menu coming soon!

meow meow sniff sniff

It's no secret that we like to be a little natural, a little semi organic, a little health/earth friendly around here. While it's somewhat easy for Tony and I - we shop partly organically, pay attention to chemicals, cleaners, free range, free trade etc... what about Cornelius?

Our not so little cat Cornelius is a member of our family and we like to treat him as we would ourselves - somewhat naturally the best. Isn't your pet a family member?

Coming soon is a new product from World's Best Cat Litter - it's a new scent! If you've got a cat, and want the best for them, then they will love you (with kitty kisses) for buying them this. It's just like the already great world's best cat litter - but with a mystery (oh so great) scent. 

**I was exclusively chosen to test and review this product but all opinions are my own.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Vegetable Patch 2013

It’s that time of the year again. Gardening time. We’re ready to grow some plants!

We started with a basic indoor seed starter kit from Lowes. $5 for a mini greenhouse. It is still winter after all… but we want to get a head start on things. Something like this will work well for you. It does seem weird to me to grow/hydrate soil but since we are compost-less and this system has worked well for us in the past we went with it. I have actually tried other methods like recycling old egg cartons to grow seeds but never had better results than these pre made kits. I’m a sucker perhaps.

seeds 2013

seeds 2013 2

What are we growing this year? The two basic staples – tomatoes and basil. That’s it. We decided not to go fancy. We had all the seeds we needed saved from previous years so it was quick and easy to plant these in their new little hydrated homes. The basil is basic genovese but we’ve got quite a selection of heirloom tomatoes from the union square farmers market in NYC back in 2004. Some yellows, reds, minis, and beefsteaks. Hopefully they all sprout! Eaks.

I set them in our plant sunny windowsill to germinate and grow big. The greenhouse will keep them warm and cozy for a few weeks until they’re bigger and/or spring has come. #pleasecomesoon

seeds 2013 3seeds 2013 4  seeds 2013 5

This is our plant growing station by the back door and in the kitchen. It’s perfect for plants. Perfect. The custom ledge is built from the original hardwood floor of the house and on a pretty 45 degree angle. That rosemary plant is a few years old and still holding on strong. The tall snake plant was a valentines day gift for Tony and we’re still looking for a nicer pot for it. Our 36 (we were jipped one in the package #stronglywordedlettercomingtheirway) 35 little seed babies grow!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Overnight Oatmeal

Today I've got a great one. It's overnight oatmeal. Otherwise known as summer porridge, cold oatmeal, fridge oatmeal... who knows what else. Yum is what I call it. Also secretly (or not so) it's healthy, and in our case often semi organic. 

I must state that I did not make up this idea. Originally I got it from this blog (as did probably every other Pinterest user out there who's heard of this) but sorta changed it to my own. I enjoy making up my own flavors and mixing and matching ingredients. There are no wrong combinations.

The basic four ingredients:
  • Old Fashion oats
  • Milk - we use vanilla almond since that's what we drink in our house.
  • Greek yogurt - I like vanilla flavored
  • Chia seeds 
One key tool
  • 1/3 cup scoop

Other items needed:
  • small Tupperware or containers
  • flavor mix ins 
My recipe for overnight oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • lots or little mix ins (it's up to you!)
Mix all ingredients in a small container. Cover. Let sit in the fridge overnight. Next morning eat and enjoy! It may be eaten cold or warmed up. The oatmeal will stay for 2-4 days depending on your mix ins.

As you can see it's pretty simple. You just take a 1/3 cup and portion out everything, then mix it up. We use simple small Tupperware with lids that I like best rather than using mugs, cups or jars. I have been making 2 days worth at a time so Tony and I each get a couple days of oatmeal for breakfast. I'll even tell you that sometimes I cheat and don't use the measuring cup for the yogurt. How much of a pain is scooping, then un-scooping yogurt in a small cup? Not worth it! I eyeball it now that I've been doing it a lot. 

Now on to the flavors.

There are endless combinations I think you could make successfully for overnight oatmeal. Our favorites so far has been berry/lemon. You get lemon curd (ours is from Trader Joes) and raspberry enlightenment (from Penzeyes Spices) and some blueberries. Here are some other options.

Fresh apples and applesauce are good. Brown sugar is great, I love raisins, bananas aren't bad if you eat them the first day. Fresh strawberries are amazing. Also I lied above when I said there are no wrong choices. At the time of this photo I hadn't tasted chocolate but was testing that since I found it on the original post. Never again. That's all I'll say.

I like mine heated up in the morning. I'll just zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds. It's a great start to your day! There you have it! Mix up your favorite flavors and have quick and easy overnight oatmeal. 

Changes around the house

1. We got an exercise bike. It lives in the living room. So we can watch House of Cards and work out at the same time. The arrangement is working out great.

you can tell I'm not actually working out since the machine isn't on

2. I updated that container you use to hold cooking utensils in your kitchen. We were previously using an old wine cooler thing that was free at a thrift store once when I bought a electric cork opener. Here's a tip - don't buy an electric product at a thrift store that doesn't have a charger. 4 years later and we're still using the old too tall/too thin container for our wooden spoons. 

Enter winter. I got a new amaryllis lily from Target after Christmas sale last month. I noticed that my old one from 2009 has kinda sorta died. I dump the plant out and see that the ceramic cream colored container is perfect to live next to the stove and hold spatulas and such. One dishwasher load later and we have this...
Original 2009 plant. It bloomed despite being kept in a box with no soil, water or light, in a closet for 6 months.

MUCH better. Why did it take me 4 years to do this?
I'd also like to pat myself on the back since basically I have this although mine cost way less and I got a free plant with flowers for 3.5 years out of it too. Go Robin.

3. I got a real adult job!!!! Basically I got my own job. Heck I've been doing it for the last 10 months, but now I'll be paid like a real person. I'm moving from contractor to employee  A new badge color coming my way. Years without company benefits and they now feel like I've won the lottery. 

We're going to be rich! jk. We may be able to buy a couple more organic things each week at Martins but that money is going straight into VCU's CRNA program. Ah tuition. Only 9-ish months until that's done with (minus the years it'll take to pay off the loans). Guess we won't be rich after all.

RVA Sunrise

Monday, February 4, 2013

this is cheesy

Today I've done a little guest post over at Culture: the word on cheese. They loved my DIY mozzarella post so much I've added it on today's blog. Head over and check it out:

Remember this? Yep we still make cheese sometimes... perhaps this week calls for another ball of 30minuteandyourdone goodness. Whey.

To read my original post see here.


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