Thanksgiving Hosting 101

For those of us celebrating, Thanksgiving is almost upon us and it’s a wonderful time for us to stop and reflect upon what we are grateful for. It’s a time of hopefully slowing down a bit, eating delicious homemade dressings and pies and just relaxing with family and friends.  However, if you have ever been the one hosting the Thanksgiving meal, you know that might not be the case.

Thanksgiving can be an incredibly rich and beautiful meal to share around your table, but it can also bring an enormous about of stress as you prepare for the big day. We know many of us grad students aren’t always able to travel to be with family for Thanksgiving and end up opening our own doors to friends and neighbors for the first time. If this happens to be you this year, below are some super handy last minute tips that we have found helpful. Happy feasting, hosting and giving thanks!!  -The Graduate Wife team

1) Proper Table Prep 101: Super simple  image teaching you how to properly set a table!

2) Thanksgiving Decorating 101: Check out these sites for some great, easy peasy tips to make your table look beautiful and inviting. (Two more: here and here).  (My favorite is the ‘thankful tree’ idea listed as a centerpiece!)

3) Last Minute Hosting 101:  Great tips on how to prepare to host a party in 24 hours or less!

4) Some Cheap Thanksgiving sides to impress your in-laws

Wednesday’s Weekly Tip: Plan to Eat

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Meal planning, grocery budgets, and feeding our families healthy food has been a hot topic of conversation amongst our friends for the past few months. In response to that and their great ideas, we’ve posted several things to help with meal planning and budgeting, especially on graduate budgets. We love the ideas they shared with us to minimize wasteful spending and food!

I have a set weekly time to do my meal planning, but to be honest, I hate the amount of time it takes to plan. Even though I have a system that arguably works, I still find it cumbersome. Looking up recipes online or in my cookbooks, putting everything together on paper or an excel spreadsheet, transferring that to my smart phone so I don’t have to carry a pen/paper while dealing with a squirmy preschooler at a grocery store….you get the picture. In the UK, we do have the ability to order our groceries online, which I do on a regular basis, but sometimes I like to head out to the shops to pick out my own produce and fruit, instead of having someone else do it.

In the past, I’ve tried several apps or programs to help with meal planning, but admittedly I’ve not stuck with one particular program. I’d work with bits and pieces of various ones, trying to find something that worked for me, where I wouldn’t be spending a load of time planning.

Recently, I stumbled across a company called Plan to Eat, and it has revolutionized the way I am able to plan meals…..and the amazing part? It is so easy. Want all your recipes in one place, online, easily accessible? Done. Rather do meal planning for a month, instead of a week, ensuring less waste? Done. With their drop/drag capability, you can load all your recipes online, plan a menu for the whole month and drag them to the calendar. Need a grocery list? Done. Once you’ve loaded your menu for the week, a grocery list will be created for you, and can be accessed via your smartphone . The menu has the ability to add notes or additional items as well.

There is a 30 day free trial (no credit cards upfront, they want you to subscribe only if YOU want to), and from there it’s $4.95 per month or $40.00 per year. The amount of time I’ve saved has been well worth the money spent.

Check it out – there is much more than what I’ve mentioned above! I hope you enjoy using it as much as I have.

~Mandy

Wednesday’s Weekly Tip: Thanksgiving Hosting 101

Thanksgiving is almost upon us and it’s a wonderful time for us to stop and reflect upon what we are grateful for. It’s a time of hopefully slowing down a bit, eating delicious homemade dressings and pies and just relaxing with family and friends.  However, if you have ever been the one hosting the Thanksgiving meal, you know that might not be the case.

Thanksgiving can be an incredibly rich and beautiful meal to share around your table, but it can also bring an enormous about of stress as you prepare for the big day. We know many of us grad students aren’t always able to travel to be with family for Thanksgiving and end up opening our own doors to friends and neighbors for the first time. If this happens to be you this year, below are some super handy last minute tips that we have found helpful. Happy feasting, hosting and giving thanks!!

-Mandy & M.C.

1) Proper Table Prep 101: Super simple  image teaching you how to properly set a table!

2) Thanksgiving Decorating 101: Check out these sites for some great, easy peasy tips to make your table look beautiful and inviting. (Two more: here and here).  (My favorite is the ‘thankful tree’ idea listed as a centerpiece!)

3) Last Minute Hosting 101:  Great tips on how to prepare to host a party in 24 hours or less!

Wednesday’s Weekly Tip: 35 Money-Saving Home Decor Knock-Offs

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If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know quite well which one of the two of us is the ‘artsy’ one. (Hint: It ain’t me!) I’ve been friends with M.C. for almost 4 years now, and she constantly impresses and surprises me with her creativity. I’ve seen her take something I think should be destined for a life in a landfill, and turn it into something beautiful. One of the more amazing tricks I’ve seen M.C. do time and time again is see something she likes, then make it. She’d end up spending pennies for what you’d pay for it in a store. It’s a gift, people.

When a graduate wife reader sent this article on making home decor knock-offs, I knew I’d have to post it. Since we’ve just moved into a house for the first time in 9 years, and I have a very small decorating budget, I need all the help I can get – both for saving money and DIY projects.  I thought it might be helpful for you, too! Anyway, for those of us who can’t and won’t pay the prices at Potterybarn or Restoration Hardware, but like the designer look, then this article is for you.

And now, this is next on my list of things to do in my son’s room, his very own growth chart. Wish me luck!

~Mandy

Credit

Wednesday’s Weekly Tip: Encouraging your Graduate

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We don’t know about you, but we’re always looking for ways to encourage our graduates. In this instance, luckily for us, pinterest had some great ideas (check out our encouragement board!), and we thought we’d share this particular one, since our grads tend to like the written word.

I might die if someone did this for me...amazing idea. Open when you need to know how much I love you, open when you don't feel beautiful, open when you need a laugh, open when you miss me, open when you're mad at me, open when you need a date night,

Some of our potential favourite categories:

1. Open when…..you have a bad meeting with your supervisor.

2. Open when….the library happened to have that book you needed.

3. Open when….we found out you got the post doc.

4. Open when….you just want to read a note from me.

5. Open when…you submit your dissertation.

What would you say to your graduate?

-Mandy & M.C.

Wednesday’s Weekly Tip: Good Food on a Tight Budget

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{It’s been a busy couple of weeks and somehow this didn’t make it up yesterday! Oops. Thursday Tip Day it is!}

 

Oh grocery budgeting…

It seems this is a topic that almost every grad wife has touch upon again…and again…and again.

Recently an email chain went around with a few Oxford grad wives that collected loads of helpful thoughts and tips on this topic.  There was also an almost unanimous consensus from the emails that food budgeting is hard work.  Hard, hard work!

We hope to share some of the wisdom gleaned from those emails, but for now we came across a wonderful site {Good Food on a Tight Budget} and wanted to share!

If you are trying to eat healthy and fresh and still survive on a student budget, then check out this site and the incredibly simple and helpful tips listed here.

-Mandy & M.C.

Wednesday’s Weekly Tip: Moving Checklist

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It’s moving time!

Over the last six years we’ve lived in Oxford, there’s been a lot of people that’s moved in and out of this city. This graduate transitional state is very normal, but this year is the biggest exodus I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Eight families (including my own) will leave this lovely city for destinations all over the world. It’s an exciting time!

Many conversations I’ve had over the past three months have been about shipping companies, movers, excitement over various things in storage back home, multiple donation trips to charity shops, and the ‘what can I get rid of here’ scenarios. I’ve lost count of the amount of sale links I’ve received via google docs, weebly, email, and the Oxford Newcomer’s group.

Since this is the time of year where most graduates and their families begin to organize and plan their moves, I thought this moving checklist from Real Simple could be useful. A lot of things on it are geared towards people living in the USA, but nevertheless, I found the timeline helpful. I would also add the below points to the list, especially if you are moving things to storage.

1. Create a dropbox folder, and divide tasks between you and your graduate. In the last 10 years, my husband and I have made three major moves. For this upcoming move, we created a shared dropbox folder with an excel spreadsheet where we can add tasks, provide updates, etc. This allows us both to know who is responsible for what. It keeps us from duplicating effort, saves time, and in my humble opinion, cuts down on potential bickering (moving is stressful, y’all)!

2. LABEL EVERYTHING if it’s going in storage. Before we moved to the UK, we moved from Florida to Virginia. My parents graciously allowed us to store everything in their basement. (Thanks, Viv and Chieftain!) While we were packing up our FL apartment, I meticulously labeled each box. Every box was numbered, had a printed inventory excel document taped to the top of the box that corresponded to an inventory excel spreadsheet saved on my computer. My husband thought I was crazy and so did the rest of my family…..until we moved to the UK, and I called my Mom and said, “Can you go to box six, pull out x, and mail it to me?” Suddenly, that time consuming project I had completed came in handy. By detailing each box, you may save yourself a lot of time and money, especially if it’s headed to storage, and you need someone to find something for you!

I hope these tips come in handy! Do you have any great tips for moving? Would you mind sharing in the comments below?

-Mandy