Things I’ve Learned Being a Grad School Student’s Wife

I have now been the wife of a grad school student for 6.5 months. The first few weeks were a breeze. Loren came home at a decent hour (often before I did) and he didn’t have an overwhelming amount of work to complete in the evenings. We would spend a good amount of time over dinner just talking and goofing off. Then the end of the first semester rudely interrupted and homework became more involved and time-consuming. And it’s only gotten busier.
So now Friday nights and Saturday mornings are my favorite because that’s when I get him all to myself. Over these past few months, I’ve caught on to some key principles that make life a little more pleasant:

Be Understanding: It’s not all about me. When Loren comes home from school, we spend some quality time together over dinner, but shortly after, he hits the books (or rather the computer and iPad) pretty much until we go to bed. But he’s not ignoring me. He just has deadlines to meet. As much as I want him to focus all his attention on me all evening after a long day at work, I even more want him to make good grades and get the education we are paying for. Someday he won’t be this busy, right?
If there is something I think is really important for Loren to do (like take out the trash), I have to remember that this priority (to me) is probably not at the top of his list at the moment. I try to ask him about little tasks like this before he settles in with his homework.

Be Encouraging: Not being in school myself, I forget how easy it is to get overwhelmed by all that school entails. But positive encouragement is powerful and can make tough days a little better. I love leaving notes in Loren’s lunch bag. When he gets home, I often ask him to tell me about one new thing he learned that day (life or school). When he practices a speech or shows me a project or paper, I try to focus all my attention on him and give positive feedback. Coffee and little treats don’t hurt, either. I want him to know that I’m his biggest fan!

Be Organized: I like to keep our apartment organized and clutter free. Mostly for my own slightly OCD sanity’s sake, but also to create a stress-free study environment. Lunch prep also falls under this category. It took me a while to catch on, but I finally realized that if I get our lunches prepared the night before, all I have to do in the morning is throw it all in the lunch bags! No more madly rushing around the kitchen way too early in the morning. Now I just calmly rush around.

Keeping the end goal—Loren earning his grad degree—in mind makes everything worth it. I wouldn’t trade this chapter of life for anything!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings. Some of you have asked what I do in the evenings while he does homework. I just sit next to him and gaze at him hoping he will forget he’s in grad school. Just kidding. Or am I? More on that another day!

Waffles and Snowflakes

Saturday morning we woke up to an even more snow-covered landscape with snow still falling steadily. Loren, who enjoyed making pancakes so much last weekend, decided to try his hand at waffles for our snow day breakfast. They were top notch! I vote him as the permanent Saturday breakfast chef. 😉
We moved the couch around so we could look out the balcony doors at the snow while eating our waffles and sipping hot chocolate. It was quite cozy!
Saturday night I babysat and got quite the fancy manicure from the four-year-old girl. She wanted us to match. 🙂
Sunday after church, we ran some errands and when we got home, I brushed off the snow on Loren’s car because he insisted it was my wifely duty. Just kidding. I love brushing the snow off cars! As long as I can reach across the windshield. There’s just something satisfactory about cleaning off a snowy car. SNOWY cars. Ice frosted windshields are a different story. I’m weird, I know.
And, surprise, surprise, this is what the rest of the day looked like:
I hope you had a great weekend!

Friday Faves: Feb 20

1. This nephew of mine has a little crush on me and it’s the CUTEST thing.
2. Ever heard of hoopla? It’s basically an amazing online library (linked to your local library) with lots of books, movies and music to borrow. All you need to sign up is your library card!
3. Soups. All. Freezing. Winter. Long.
4. I’ve had my eye on this Fossil bag for a while. Maybe someday I will have a grown-up purse that’s not just black.
5. Fuzzy socks have been some of my best friends this week in the sub zero and single digit weather.

Happy Friday and Happy Weekending! Stay warm wherever you are!

DIY: Canvas Project

A while back, I saw a canvas DIY project that looked easy enough for me to attempt. After talking about different canvas projects we both wanted to do, Loren and I finally made our way to Hobby Lobby to collect some canvases (on major sale!!), paint and paint brushes.
Here is what my project turned into:
1. Print off and cut out your choice of stencil. I found a free version of this font and quote (can’t find it now) and just printed it on regular copy paper.
2. Lay out the stencils as you want them to appear on the canvas.
3. Paint one coat of paint over the whole canvas, including the stencil. Wait for the first coat to dry, then paint on a second coat.
4. Carefully peel off the stencil. I had to use an X-Acto knife.
5. Wipe off any excess paint from the words with a cotton swab. Since my stencil printout wasn’t very sturdy to begin with and some of the paint seeped through, Loren took the X-Acto knife and scraped the letters to define the words a bit more.

6. Hang up the masterpiece.  Here it is hanging in our kitchen adding a bit of happiness. 🙂

I hope to keep adding to wall art all around the apartment. Check back soon for more projects!

Hearts, Heels and Bowling

I know I already talked about Valentine’s Day on Friday, but that was before we celebrated. This year was the best yet! Just a simple dress up romantic dinner date with lots of candles at home. I’m not a huge fan of hearts and pink and all that, but right before  we ate, I decided to cut out some hearts just for this occasion. They were the perfect touch. We ended up watching a movie after dinner, and true to character, I promptly fell asleep 5 minutes into it and didn’t wake up until it was over.
Saturday morning Loren made me a special breakfast in bed. Some of the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten!
After a long wait for an oil change, we headed to Cincy to see family for the weekend. The weather was so weird and windy! Sometimes snowy, sometimes sunny, yet still a beautiful drive on the country roads.
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Loren was sad he couldn’t drive because GRAD SCHOOL.
Once we got the in-laws, we had a delicious dinner and played with the nieces and nephew before they went home.

Sunday afternoon after church, we went bowling. It had been forever since any of us had played.

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I kinda like him a lot. 🙂
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Coming up with the perfect game names is harder than it looks.
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Comparing scores.
Our scores weren’t the greatest. Well, mine wasn’t the greatest. Everyone else did just fine. But we had a blast and hope to play together again  sometime soon!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!

This Day of Love

{Warning: possible slightly mushy post}

Why yes I am jumping on the bandwagon and talking about Valentine’s Day today. Valentine’s Days past, to be exact. This is only our third one together, but our first two went down quite well.

2013: fell during our long distance relationship stunt. It wasn’t the most fun being apart, but Loren had a friend special deliver this awesome nerf gun to my dorm room. “To protect you while I’m not there.” And TWO bags of Butterfingers!!??? Best. Gifts. Ever.
2014: we dined at a little southern restaurant that was SO good, walked around downtown Greenville and stopped for some hot tea at a little tea shop and just talked about our upcoming life together as man and wife.
This year we are celebrating early tonight and keeping it pretty low key with a fancy dinner date at home and maybe a movie. Because when you’re with the love of your life, every day is Valentine’s Day!

Crisp Living: Little Things that Save Us Lots

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” Epictetus

Today I was thinking about ways we currently save money and thought I would share a few with you!

Coffee: use regular coffee grounds in these refillable coffee filters for the Keurig–way cheaper than buying K-Cups every week.

Water Filter: the water is kind of rough here, but instead of buying bottled water, we filter. And we pretty much stick to only drinking water (and coffee, of course).

Slow Cooker: throwing stuff in the crock pot before work saves time, energy and smells delicious when I walk in the door after work.

One Pot Meals: only have to use one burner, saves on water washing dishes .

Laundry: save quarters and only wash, then air dry the laundry (makes the apartment smell like clean laundry!).

Lights: only keep lights on in the room we are occupying; every penny saved on that electric bill counts!

General Repurposing and Reusing: if I need something (like a desktop organizer), I first look around at home to see if I have anything that can be recycled into what I need before buying.

What are some ways you save money around your home? I would love to hear your tips and tricks!

DIY Project: Desktop Organizer

As I mentioned yesterday, I worked on a little DIY project Sunday afternoon. I’m not really sure what inspired this, except my love for organization and wanting a little more desk organization at work. I’ve seen several cute desktop organizers lately and really wanted to get one, but living on a grad school budget, such a purchase would be frivolous, especially since I already had all the materials I would need to make one for free at home!
1. Gather supplies – cardboard box, tape, scissors and design paper. I already had one box but grabbed another one when I was shopping at ALDI the other day to make sure I had enough.
2. Grab a beverage (normally this would be coffee, but this time I went with hot chocolate) and some form of entertainment (I naturally chose Gilmore Girls).
3. Cut the box to desired size. I used the whole length of the shorter side of the box and folded up the cut off side to create the fourth side.
4. Tape all around the outside of the new box to secure.
5. Select your design paper to cover the box.
6. Cover the box to hide the cardboard.
7. Cut smaller pieces of cardboard to use as dividers & cover with design paper.
8. Secure the dividers in the finished box with tape.
And that’s it! Pretty easy. Not the best looking thing I’ve ever made, but I like it and it fits perfectly on my desk at work.
What DIY projects have you  worked on lately?

Popcorn, Coffee & Taxes

Friday night we finally had a date night. It was just pizza, a movie and popcorn all at home, but it was perfect and just what we needed after a very long week. I’ve been wanting to try this Marshmallow Carmel Popcorn recipe for a long time, and Friday night was the perfect night for it. Super quick and super easy and super delish! Also, dangerously addicting.
Saturday, we headed out for another coffee adventure.
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Driving pictures are cool and it was finally sunny & warm out!
This weekend’s coffee place was Strange Brew, a quaint coffee shop with old comfy couches, gigantic fish tanks and modern cardboard art for sale. It was a lot larger inside than I was expecting and kind of reminded me of downtown Asheville, NC.
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The cardboard art.
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Loren enjoyed browsing through the New Yorker book of cartoons he found.
During our little coffee date, Loren interviewed me (check it out here) on marriage, life, etc., like I interviewed him a couple weeks ago (check out his interview here) . It’s so much fun getting to know each other better this way!
Sunday afternoon while Loren studied and prepped for school on Monday, I worked on our taxes (I enjoy doing them! Weird, I know) and worked on this little project:
I’m not going to tell you right now what that little box was made into. Saving that tutorial for another day!

I hope you had a restful weekend and are fired up for another week!
Happy Monday!

Friday Faves: Feb 6

1. This guy. All day, every day! This week has been rough for him (welcome to grad school!), but he’s pushed through like the trooper he is!
2. Surprise Starbucks gift cards. Love my job!
3. How awesome is the geometric necklace from Bergdorf Goodman?
4. This awesome cookbook shelf idea. Someday in my dream kitchen maybe!
5. Her bangs. I desperately need a haircut and will probably go with this look.

Happy Friday, guys! Go do something new and fun this weekend.