Wednesday, November 12, 2014

School Craziness + A Free Organizing Printable!

It has been absolute craziness around here! Midterms + lots of work to do in the lab + being sick for 3 weeks = no fun at all. I came down with a cold on the first day of Fall Break (back in October!) and I still can’t get rid of this horrible cough. Forget diamonds, cough drops are my new best friends! Thankfully, I’m starting to get some of my energy back, but I still get winded if I try to do too much at once.

The good news is, while I’ve been crazy busy and sick to boot, I did have time to put together a great free printable for you! I’ve only been using it for a few days now, but I’m loving it already! Click here to download it.




This printable is a great way to organize and prioritize your day. It includes a To-Do list, a Schedule for your appointments and events, a Shopping List, a Menu Plan, a Cleaning Checklist, and places to keep track of your daily health goals, water consumption, and fitness plans for the day. There’s also a section for notes in case you need to jot down anything to remember later. And best of all, there’s a spot right at the top to list your priority task for the day. I can’t be the only one that climbs into bed, remembers something that must be done the next day, and then promptly forgets about it after one night’s sleep. This is the solution!

This daily organizer would be made even better if you laminated it. That way you can just use a dry erase marker, erase it at the end of the day, and keep from wasting a bunch of paper every week. Pair it with my weekly meal plan/grocery list, and you’ll be all set! And I just love all of the bright colors! It actually makes me want to stay organized when I get to look at something so fun and colorful as I plan out my day.

Well, I’m off to study for yet another exam (I’m pretty sure they never end!). The semester is almost over, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and then it’s Christmas time, people! And do you know what that means??? I get to see my family!!!!!!!!! So, so, so excited!!!! Now to start making all those DIY Christmas gifts I’ve been pinning for the last few months... 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fabulous Finds

Welcome to the third post in the series Fabulous Finds! If you didn’t catch the last two, check them out here and here.

This post is centered around fabulous finds related to my favorite style: Mid Century Modern. I would put every single one of these in my own apartment, granted I had unlimited funds, of course. Enjoy! :-)


1. Inspirational Retro Poster by yumalum on Etsy




This print reminds me of great subway-style art with its bold print and stark black and white coloring. This would work great as part of a gallery wall, or as an inspiring art piece in your bedroom. How cool would it be to wake up and see this every morning - it would definitely be inspiring!


2. Clover Coffee Table by West Elm




I’ve been eyeing this coffee table for a while. Even though I already have a coffee table… I just love its cool shape and unique choice of paint. And if you have a West Elm budget (unfortunately, I don’t), then you’ll be glad to hear it’s actually on sale!


3. Painted Wood Wall Art by Salvage Love




This is one painstakingly tedious, but awesomely designed piece of wall art. I love her choice of colors and unique eye for design. Who would’ve thought painting a bunch of sticks and hanging them on your wall would make such a great statement piece?!?


4. Home Sweet (Mid Century Modern) Home Print by handz on Etsy




Another great art print for your gallery wall! I am personally in love with the quote they chose and just the overall cuteness of this print. Going on my “to buy next” list for sure!


5. Ranchero Speaker by Urban Outfitters




It’s retro but modern. I love it! And the price isn’t half bad for a radio/iPod/iPhone speaker at only $99. You can’t beat that!


*I am not affiliated with any of the above entities. Just linking up to show you where you can find all of these fabulous items for yourself.*


Saturday, October 25, 2014

My First USC Football Game!

I got to go to my very first USC football game last week! I had a wonderful time with friends, watched some great football, and to top it all off, we won! Here’s a photo recap for you:












Other than the awesome win, I think my favorite part was getting to hear our marching band play in a real halftime show. I actually get to hear them practice just about every day as I'm walking back to my car from work. Their practice field is right next to my usual parking lot, so I love to just stop and watch them practice. The sound is 10X better when you're not trying to hear it from the upper grandstands, but watching them perform in uniform was still just as cool.

Here's a video I took of them practicing on my walk home from work: I call it "My Personal Half-Time Show" :-)



Friday, October 17, 2014

Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings

Who’s ready for some warm, home cooked meals this Fall?!? And who doesn’t want to have to be the one to cook them?!? Me, Me, Me!!!

I really do love the idea of cooking. I can plan meals until the cows come home, but actually cooking those meals is another story entirely. Somewhere between leaving my lab, walking the half an hour to my car, and then driving 20 minutes through traffic, I lose the desire to do anything else for the rest of the day. Which usually includes cooking dinner. If I do cook, it’s usually only once a week and then I eat on the leftovers for the rest of the week. And I pack my lunches most days, so having leftovers to take makes that a whole lot easier.

My crockpot has become my salvation. Even if I don’t feel like cooking at the end of the day, I can still eat a nice home cooked meal if I’ve prepared ahead and put a meal in the crockpot. And I didn’t have to do any of the cooking!!! Can I get an amen?!?

This meal is one that I discovered during my senior year of college. It’s super cheap, super easy, and super delicious! It’s just plain super! We’ve also made this and taken it to a potluck before, and it was a great hit, even with the kids. I mean, who doesn’t love dumplings?

Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings


  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (mine were still frozen when I put them in, and it still turned out great!)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1/2 diced onion (I omitted this this time, but have had it both ways and couldn’t tell a difference)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • refrigerated biscuits (4 if using larger biscuits like grands flaky, or I used original buttermilk so I needed 6)

1. Put everything except the biscuits in the crockpot and cook on high 4-6 hours (or on low like I did for about 8).
2. Shred the chicken (if you’re a lucky duck and have a KitchenAid stand mixer, this will be easy peasy for you; the rest of us unfortunate people have to shred chicken the old fashioned way).
3. Cut each biscuit into quarters (I prefer large biscuits, so if you want them smaller, then just cut each biscuit into more pieces), roll each into a ball, and plop into the crockpot.
4. Cook for another hour (it does take a full hour if you have larger dumplings like this; I tried 45 minutes once and they were still a little undercooked) and then enjoy!

Original recipe here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 13: What's Inside My Fridge?

A whole lotta nuttin’. Grad student = long work hours, lots of studying in-between classes and work, and playing catch-up on housework and friends on the weekends. I cook maybe once a week and eat off the leftovers, or I resort to eating out or just cooking a frozen dinner or pizza. I pack my lunch most days, and breakfast is usually a Clif bar while I’m driving. So yeah…
  • Eggs (don’t usually buy these, but I needed one egg for the peanut butter cookies I made on Sunday)
  • Brita pitcher
  • Packed lunch for tomorrow
  • Leftover crockpot chicken and dumplings from Monday (recipe coming soon!)
  • Block cheese and turkey kielbasa (for my lunches)
  • Shredded cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Butter
  • Partial gallon of tea
  • Random condiments
  • French vanilla creamer (for my chai tea)
  • Brita water bottles - love these for work; if I run out of water, I can fill it up and get nice filtered water anywhere
  • Refrigerated meds
Like I said, it’s not much. But I’m also not responsible for feeding a family of 4 seven nights a week. It’s just me, so any meal I do make usually lasts a while. And I have some frozen dinners and a pizza in my freezer if I’m in a pinch.

Grad student with no spare time? Single gal trying to cook for one in a recipe world built for a family of four? Please share any and all advice! 

Monday, October 13, 2014

My Fun-Filled Family Weekend

Happy Monday! Not really. I had such a great weekend that I didn’t want it to end!

I had class on Friday morning, but took off of work on Friday afternoon to go see family in Atlanta. I picked up my sister and two of my cousins from their college in Greenville and we had a blast catching up in the car on the way there. When we got to my aunt’s house we were greeted with a wonderful home cooked meal of spaghetti and garlic bread. Yum! Spent Friday night and Saturday morning just relaxing, catching up with family, and spending time with my grandparents. Add my granny’s sweet tea to the mix, and life is perfect.

Granny's sweet tea with the tenderloin biscuit my grandpa brought me for breakfast :-)

Saturday afternoon was spent making a Starbucks and Target run with my sister and cousins, then we got to go meet my newest baby cousin who is less than a week old! Isn’t she just adorable?!?



My aunt made us another great home cooked dinner of fajitas before we headed back to our respective colleges Saturday night. It’s a long drive for such a short trip, but any chance I get to go spend time with family is worth it!

After church on Sunday, I spent the afternoon making my best friend Kayla's famous peanut butter cookies for a college group activity that night. All in all, a great weekend!




Now it’s back to the grind since I have another exam on Wednesday. Only 1.5 more weeks of school before Fall break! I cannot wait for a long weekend!!! And hopefully, since I’ll have more time, I’ll get a lot of projects finished up so I’ll have more to share in the coming weeks.

Until then, hope everyone has a great week filled with more fun things than memorizing the genetic code...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Day 12: Favorite Blogs

It’s time for some Blog Lovin’! Here’s a brief intro (from their respective “About Me” pages) to some of my favorite blogs (in no particular order)!



"Wut up. Sherry and John here. We're DIY-enthusiasts, accidental authors & product designers, and parents to two kids and one moody chihuahua. Here's our little corner of the internet where we chat about transforming our house, living in it, and all the random stuff in between.

Their awesome new laundry room!

I have been a faithful follower of Young House Love for about a year now. Love their down-to-earth DIY advice, awesome home renovations, and just watching their family grow through what they share on their blog.

Unfortunately, after seven years of blogging (yes, seven!), they announced yesterday that they are moving on to new adventures. So feel free to check out their awesome archives for inspiration, but they won’t be posting anything new anytime soon.



“Hi There! I’m Jen! Welcome to this happy place of mine where I share my love for organizing paired with lots of painting, building, and crafting! I am a mom to three super sweet bright eyed boys and the wife to the greatest guy around. Life can be crazy, but it is my goal to create beauty through it all!”

Love this DIY jewelry organizer!

I absolutely love Jen, her blog, and her awesome staff! Check out her home office renovations, awesome new garage/storage space, and my absolute fav: her dressing room!



“Hello! I’m Chelsea, a twenty-something newlywed living in Indianapolis. Two Twenty One is where I share my home improvement projects, crafts, recipes, furniture makeovers, and home & seasonal decor ideas. Follow along as I try to make our home a little less cookie cutter and a lot more us.”

Great decor ideas for Fall!

Chelsea has some great home decor and craft project ideas. I am also majorly in love with her DIY wedding posts, and she can make party decorations like no one else. Go check out her blog!



"Hi I am Sarah! I’m an Interior Designer, DIYer, Graphic Designer, blogger, wife to the most amazing husband, and puppy mom to our happy, spirited Annabelle! This blog is a place for us to share our home and DIY adventures in trying to make a house our home, by getting our hands dirty and creating spaces that make us smile. I believe that with a little creativity, time and effort, you don’t need a lot of money to make your home look fabulous!”

Lots of DIY going on here!

Sarah and David are in the midst of tackling their biggest project yet: completely renovating their new home in Maryland while still living in Tennessee for David’s job! They have a great knack for recreating name-brand pieces for pennies on the dollar, and love giving new life to thrifted finds. Her newest series, titled “What Would Sarah Do?” is one of my new favorites and I can’t wait to see what she’ll "makeover” next!



“A young lady’s guide to living on the lovely side.”

Great beauty tips!

Definitely in love with this blog. Jessica has an awesome sense of style, and loves to share it with others! Anything from book reviews, outfit ideas, apartment decor, you name it, she’s got it! But don’t trust my word on it, go check it out for yourself!



“My name is Toni & I’m the creator of A Bowl Full of Lemons. I began blogging back in 2006 and started ABFOL in November of 2011. My purpose for ABFOL was to document my home keeping successes & failures for my children and anyone else who would read. I’m a wife, mother, Registered Nurse, Lifestyle Photographer and Blogger. I love what I do & I wouldn’t trade it for any other job in the world."

31-Day Purge Challenge!

ABFOL is a great resource for home organization, cleaning, recipes, budgeting tips, and so much more! They are currently working their way through a 31-Day Purge Challenge that you should definitely go check out!


Now it’s your turn! What are your favorite blogs? Which ones inspire you to do more and be more? I’d love to hear from you! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day 11: A Picture of Me and My Best Friend

I have two best friends and they are both equally amazing. Let me introduce you to them!

Kayla:
Friends since 2010
Met in Flagstaff, AZ where we both attended Northern Arizona University
Favorite activities together: ice skating, eating frozen yogurt, watching Disney movies, window shopping at Ikea, watching Bones, skyping




Lindsey:
Friends since 2009
Met in Flagstaff, AZ
Favorite activities together: watching Marvel and Disney movies, playing Disney Scene-it, watching Psych, racing in Mario Kart, texting each other funny pictures



Monday, October 6, 2014

10 Wardrobe Staples for Any Grad Student

I know this isn’t my typical kind of post, but I also know I’ve had struggles finding that balance between “I’m still in college” and “I’m a professional now” workplace look, and figured there had to be other people out there with the same problem. I’m fortunate enough that my lab has a rather casual dress code, as I’m sure most do, but I also don’t want to get in the habit of wearing a t-shirt and jeans to the office everyday. Because that’s obviously not how the real world works, and it’s good to at least look like you know what you’re doing when you bump into a freshman, or worse, are their lab instructor.

Big thanks to Pinterest for the help in putting together outfit ideas. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you. Now if I could just figure out how to magically transform all of these outfits into my closet, free of charge…

1. Cardigans - They can take any casual look and bring it up a notch. Not to mention they make for a stylish way to keep warm in those freezing cold classrooms and labs. You can pair them with dress pants for a nicer look, or go with jeans for an everyday outfit. They look great with a plain tee or a button down, and everything in between.


Credit: Surely Sonsy
2. A Nice, Fitted Pair of Jeans - If you still have jeans filled with holes and bedazzled hearts, throw them out now. There's no place in academia, or any workplace for that matter, for your old high school jeans. Go buy yourself a couple of nice, fitted jeans that make you feel (and look) awesome. A good pair of jeans can take an outfit from "Hey, I'm a freshman" to "Hi, I'm your new teacher".


3. Dresses - A dress can totally be part of a casual outfit, if you pair it with the right accessories. Like a cardigan! Just make sure if it's a shorter dress to pair it with a good pair of tights or leggings. It's more professional, and you might have to anyway if you're working in a lab (long pants/dresses/skirts are a must for safety).

Credit: Swing the Day Away
4. Maxi Skirts - Maxi skirts are another great way to break out of a t-shirt and jeans rut. You'll feel dressed up, but still be completely comfortable for a long day of classes and work. And they come in so many fun patterns and colors that you just can't get from a pair of pants.


5. Scarves - A scarf is a perfect complement to an outfit that might otherwise look "too plain". They add a fun pop of color or pattern, are just plain adorable, and bonus: they keep you warm!

Credit: Mrs. D's Corner

6. Large Bags - This should really be number 1, because a grad student's best friend is her school bag. The bigger the better. Mine can fit my computer, a few notebooks, my extra large planner, an umbrella, my wallet, and a pencil case, plus has pockets for a water bottle, my phone, and other random crap I throw in there. Sure, it may be heavy, but it's both stylish and functional. Backpacks are fine as well, just stick to plain colors. Picture yourself at a convention where you are presenting your research to hundreds of people in your field. Would your current bag look professional enough to earn you bonus points with your peers, and maybe even a future post-doc opportunity? If you're still using your high school backpack with stickers and glitter, the answer is NO.

Credit: The Northeast Girl
7. Layered Tops - This kind of goes along with cardigans. If you must wear a t-shirt (totally understandable on laundry day), then pair it with a denim jacket, cardigan, or even another top. Find some way to take that simple tee up a notch and distinguish you from the freshman in your classroom. Bonus points if you come up with an outfit even cuter than the one you were planning on wearing had that other top not been in the wash.

Credit: The Day Book Blog
8. Fun Jewelry - It can totally make or break an outfit. Feeling like your current outfit is "blah"? Add some gold bangles, a cute necklace, or if you're really brave, some giant, funkadelic earrings. Ta-Da! Not blah any more! Just make sure whatever you wear won't interfere with your work, and preferably isn't of great personal value to you. Because no one wants to call their grandmother to tell her her antique locket ended up in a beaker of acid...

Credit: What Would A Nerd Wear
9. Comfortable Shoes - Bonus if they're both cute and comfortable. Like these Dr. Scholl's Flats:


10. Mix and Match - Here's the fun part! Once you have the staples, you can mix and match them to create unique outfits, without going out and spending a fortune on new clothes (which everyone knows grad students don't have). This girl took 10 pieces of clothing (plus shoes and accessories), and made 14 unique outfits. Notice her staple clothing pieces? Exactly.

Credit: Putting Me Together

Well, I hope this helped you as much as it has me. I've been on both ends of the spectrum: dressing too professionally for a messy lab job, and dressing down so much I looked like just another freshman. There is a middle ground, and you will find it!

Anything you might add to my list? I can always use some new outfit ideas!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Day 10: What's in My Bag?

My school bag doesn’t have much in it, but it has all I need to survive a day of classes, research, faculty seminars, and science journal clubs. Plus a few random items for emergencies.

1. Class Notebook - all of my notes, all in one place. Considering how many pages I’ve already filled, it might have been wiser to get a separate 5-subject notebook for each class…

2. Planner/Calendar - Basically my life. It has everything in it to keep me on track and not forget anything. My dad got it for me as a gift for grad school, and I absolutely love it!

3. Random journal club papers - The current week’s paper for journal club, along with random papers from previous weeks and ones I still need to read for future journal clubs.

4. Extra-Strength Advil - For those terrible headaches and migraines that magically appear right in the middle of my day. Usually related to the class that might kill me.

5. Headphones - For listening to recorded class lectures, or music on my phone while I work.

6. Coupon Books - You can’t pass up a free coupon book!

7. Pencil Case - Holds my pencils (obviously!) and my recorder.

8. Wallet - Since my school bag = my purse 5/7 days of the week.

9. Laptop - Rarely. I needed it today for a presentation, but usually don’t bring it because I have a separate work computer for my research.

10. Water Bottle

11. Umbrella - Rain storms tend to pop up unexpectedly here, and I tend to get caught right in the middle of one on my way to my car (where I normally keep my umbrella). So now it goes with me everywhere.

12. Keys

13. Phone

So, what’s in your bag/purse/backpack/fanny pack? If it’s a fanny pack, the 90's called and they want their horrible sense of style back. Otherwise, I’d love to hear from you! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Class that Might Just Kill Me

Let me start off by stating that I LOVE what I do. I love working in a research lab, performing my own experiments, and learning something new everyday. I even enjoy my classes (or at least 2/3 of them)… But there’s this one class, and this one professor, that just might be my undoing.

You know it’s going to be bad when one of the first things mentioned in your new graduate student orientation is “Tips on How to Pass This Specific Class”. Yeah, not a good sign. I’ve been told by the other graduate students that this class is sort of your “Initiation to Grad School”. If you make it, you’ll do fine, basically. Also not a good sign.

The professor for this class is AT LEAST 80 years old. No joke. He wears a lab coat to class, uses an old-fashioned projector screen instead of powerpoint, and carries around a retractable pointer-stick. Basically, your typical old college professor who refuses to get with the times. I’ve deemed him “My Crazy Professor”.


Not my actual professor, but you get the gist :-)

I’m beginning to agree with the other grad students that this man has in fact died and reincarnated a couple times, because he just will not go away! And it’s not like the university can retire him because he’s a tenured professor, so he could technically teach until the day he dies. So long as he doesn’t kill me first…

The man is an outright bully in the classroom. And a horrible teacher to boot. He has managed to teach an entire midterm’s worth of material in just one month (no joke, I’ve filled an entire one-subject notebook with notes up until the first exam). He has put up example problems and then picked on individual students to answer the question and THEN mocks them if they don’t get the answer fast enough. He’s pretty much gotten to the point in his life where he no longer cares what people think, which is terrible for everyone around him, but especially his students.

I cannot get out of this class, as it is required for my degree. And Lord help me, I REALLY don’t want to have to repeat it. But I need a B to pass it. And his tests are impossibly difficult and filled with nonsense, trick questions. For example, there was a problem on the test that he had mentioned in class briefly the day before the exam. The day before! And the example problem he had given us was 10X easier than the problem he expected us to solve on the actual exam. Really???


Exactly.

We just got our grades back from our first exam, and my grade was less than stellar. And way less than passing… My only saving grace is the knowledge that this class is divided into two sections, with a second professor teaching the middle portion (two exams worth) and this crazy professor teaching the first and last portions (two exams worth). From what I’ve heard, the goal is to get an A with the easy professor’s exams so that when you completely bomb the other two exams, it all evens out to the B you need to pass. I can only hope…

In the meantime, I’ll just be over here re-listening to a bunch of recorded lectures (because my crazy professor doesn’t know how to speak at a normal rate of speed) and furiously jotting down notes. At least I get a little bit of a break before he comes back at the end of the semester. Praise the Lord and Hallelujah!

Well, I hope this made you either laugh with me or cry for me. Cause I’ve done plenty of both in the last month, believe me! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Day 9: A Picture of the Town Where I Live

This one seemed almost a little too easy to me. Post one picture and that’s it? I want more! So I’m giving you more. :-)

Here, in chronological order (because I’m completely OCD about things like that) is a picture of every town in which I have ever lived. Enjoy :-)




Auburn, GA - I love this cute little town. It’s home to my dad’s parents and most of his family, and is where I spent the first 4 years of my life. And apparently it’s also the safest city in Georgia. Who knew?!?




Lewisville, TX - Lewisville is located north of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. My family lived in this area for 9 years and I have a lot of happy childhood memories here.




Kyle, TX - When we moved to this town in 2004, it had one red light, a fried catfish place, and a Dairy Queen. It’s now a bustling little town with its own Walmart. Even though we only lived here for 2 years, I have fond memories of the friends we made and all the BBQ we ate :-).




Phoenix, AZ - We first moved to Phoenix in 2006, I moved out for college in 2009, and then I moved back again in 2012 after I graduated from college. Even though I consider Columbia, SC to be my current home, I will always refer to Phoenix as “home” because that’s where my family lives :-).



Flagstaff, AZ - I lived in Flagstaff for 3.5 years while I attended Northern Arizona University. If it wasn’t for the multiple feet of snow we would get every winter, I’d move back in a heartbeat.



Columbia, SC - My “Home Sweet Home”!