Nom Nom Nom

Photo by me (LaNita C)

Photo by me (LaNita C)

The picture above is my weekly meal prep time. It may look like too much food but its an easy way to save money and time for anyone and everyone, whether you are a graduate student or not. Clockwise from top left I have tilapia, pork chops, chicken and potatoes, ground beef and salsa, and steak burgers. Cooking in bulk will save you time because you cook one time for the whole week.

Just a few pointers/tips so you can experiment with meal prepping:

#1- CROCKPOTS I have 2 and I will put meats/veggies in them and let them cook on low or high for hours. EXAMPLE: chicken breasts or drumsticks with some garlic, salt, pepper, and cajun spice and chicken broth on low for 6 hours. Then you can just broil them for a few minutes to get the skin crispy.

#2- EGGS I hard boil about 10-12 eggs for easy breakfast or snacks. I don’t have time to scramble eggs everyday.

#3- FISH So you cant make a ton of fish and expect it to stay fresh- but it will last a day or two. I love tilapia for breakfast. I buy a ton of frozen tilapia fillets. Thaw them and put some cajun or chipotle seasoning on it. Heat a bit of olive oil in non-stick pan and sear it. Adding green chile sauce to it while its in the pan. Easy, fast, lean protein.

#4- LOTS OF TUPPERWARE Yep you need a lot to save in fridge or freezer and to take with you everywhere.

#5- MRS DASH SEASONING (no salt) Great and easy seasoning. I have a cabinet full. Most spices and marinades are full of sodium.

These are just a few suggestions to make life easier when schedules are chaotic!

Piecing Together the Puzzle

Finding time for your research around your class, teaching, and work schedules may seem daunting by itself – but what about fitting your schooling and research into your long term plan, applying for jobs, figuring out a place to live, and finally starting your career?  It can all be overwhelming – but like a puzzle, once you find the corners, build the edges, and sort the pieces, everything starts to fall into place and the middle begins to fill in.

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Sometimes getting through school, job applications, moving, etc. can feel like one big puzzle. Photo by Ren-Jay S.

So don’t despair – there is hope!  No matter how despondent you may feel at times, hold the line and keep plugging along, because you will piece your puzzle together and reach your goals. Continue reading

212° the extra degree

One of my closest friends and mentors once shared a short book with me called 212° the extra degree.  He is a highly successful businessman who is an IU alumnus, former Hoosier football player, and whose dad was also a Hoosier football player who went on to play for the 1972 Miami Dolphins team that went undefeated and won the Super Bowl.  My teammates and I owe him for his continued guidance as we grow from teenagers into adults, and we are all grateful to have him in our lives.

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212° the extra degree by S.I. Parker. Photo by Ren-Jay S.

The premise of 212° the extra degree, is that “at 211 degrees, water is hot.  At 212 degrees, it boils.  And with boiling water, comes steam.  And with steam, you can power a train.”  Now this might sound like a gimmick, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate the meaning of this book and how applying its principles can help you advance in your studies, career, and life.

The book discusses how a difference of just 1 degree distinguishes hot water and steam, and goes on to give many examples of how the smallest of differences can have a large impact.  One of my favorite examples is the average margin of victory in the Indianapolis 500 (we are at Indiana University after all) between 1997-2006 is 2.80 seconds, but the first place prize is $1,497,639 whereas the second place price is $587,321.  That 2.80 second difference over 500 miles of racing makes a huge difference in the outcome for the drivers in terms of prestige and prize money.  The book goes on to give examples of where and how you can teach the 212 philosophy and how small changes in your daily life can amount to big returns, such as eliminating 30 minutes of television every day to get 182.5 extra hours (or four and a half weeks of work) each year that you can devote to something else.

I would highly recommend this book, you can read it in about 15 minutes, but the message is powerful and can motivate you to take that tiny bit of extra time and effort to differentiate and distinguish yourself amongst your peers.  So ask yourself, “what have I done today to get that extra degree?”

Relationships Outside of Gradschool: “Okay Denise…”

Photo by http://thestylepagess.blogspot.com/

Photo by http://thestylepagess.blogspot.com/

With Winter in full swing, it’s just about time to start bemoaning the lack of having a significant other. Because I’m on that list, I’d rather curb this discussion to talk about relationships in a different light, particularly with one’s family, during the process of seeking a degree.

I am very close to my family. We have a strong bond centered around a love of food each other, support, and trust. That being said, when it’s holiday time, or time to go visit home, it can get a bit tense, especially when trying to go home and instill upon your family all that enlightenment that has come from higher education.

My sister and I lovingly call out “Okay, Denise,” in reference to the lovable, yet severely out of tune Denise Huxtable from the Cosby Show,whenever we start going off on tangents about how society needs to change, and that our parents need to get with the program of all the new progressive things we have learned while away. It is difficult to remember sometimes that your family is not the same as your cohort, and they aren’t in your same social sphere. While it can feel like everyone around you is learning the same things you are, it is important to remember that graduate school exists in a bubble.

I had become…a Denise with a Master’s degree…

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When things don’t go as expected: Car edition

Regular maintenance with your car will prevent these scary signals from popping up. However, when you have an 5+ old car expect major repairs and bills. Photo courtesy of www.convoyautorepair.com

People tell you to save for grad school.  But what does that money go towards?  The most visible channels of your savings goes to tuition, fees, and living expenses.  However, one of the most unexpected expenses I faced Continue reading

Freezing your Assets: How to Save Money in a Polar Vortex

Photo by gohabitat.net

Photo by gohabitat.net

Any Midwesterner will tell you, the Midwest doesn’t have “mild” temperature very often. Winter is no exception. When it’s cold outside, all one really wants to do is crank up the heater to a toasty 85 degrees, eat chocolate, and sit down to a fun movie, courtesy of Netflix. Unfortunately, doing so will has a direct correlation to the electric bill. I’m going to provide a few tips here for saving money when Jack Frost decides to swoop in and steal away your happiness warmth.
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A Tale of Two Cities

As a disclaimer, this post has nothing to do with the book.

Image courtesy of Google Maps. Edited by Tiphani D

Image courtesy of Google Maps. Edited by Tiphani D

I am a Kansas City native (from the better, more functional Missouri side, not the dark, desolate Kansas side), and I used to be a fair weather fan; I didn’t want to be there when I was in high school, but when I went off to college and  then graduate school, I missed it terribly. What can be said…often times, the adult longs for the crib as it were; recalling a place where life was all about coloring, watching Disney movies (without analyzing it down to the pixels), and eating cereal, laden with refined sugar.

I almost didn’t trust myself on this topic, due to the extreme bias it permits me to take, without really having to provide any empirical evidence, or legitimate scholarly insight. However, I will attempt to make this post somewhat informative, in that it will hopefully assist as a guide for how to get through the “This city is (insert colorful adjective, noun, or noun phrase here)” inner dialogue, that will without question, plague your mind at least twice a week.

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Tips for Bundling Up

Bundling up means layering! Photo courtesy of www.tumblr.com

January is not only the start of a new semester, but it also the start of the winter season. Bloomington isn’t famous for huge amounts of snow, but we do get at least 1-2 inches once in a while. Bloomington does experience low temperatures (around 20-30 degrees) as well as ice and wind. So bundling up is still necessary.  Here are a few tips I learned while living in the Midwest to make my walk around the Bloomington campus more enjoyable: Continue reading